Friday, October 31, 2008

How to Become a Princess...

Tonight is Halloween and, as you might remember from my missive a few days ago, I am therefore in my element. I thought I had my costume all figured out for tonight but the dress I planned to wear is MIA.

What to do???

I know! I'll pull my wedding dress out of the closet and just wear that! The really cool thing is that whenever I put on my wedding dress (yes, this is not the only time I've done this...), my little boy thinks I look like a princess. So tonight he decides to make me a construction paper crown to wear with my wedding dress.

It's funny, guys. I have to admit that there have been times in my life when I've wondered how it would feel to be a princess - to be a woman who is adored. I guess I've always assumed that kind of adoration would involve trips to Paris, champagne, and beautiful ballgowns. But tonight, in my homemade crown (complete with heart stickers and happy faces), I felt more special than just about any other time I can remember.

So it turns out that all you need to become a princess is a fluffy 15-year-old wedding dress, a homemade paper crown, and of course a little boy who believes you are a princess.


I just heard a presentation about the "generation gap" at my conference. I'm going to describe the elements of the presentation and let's see if the class can spot the flaws:

- The speakers on the panel (there were 3 of them) were ALL Baby Boomers.
- They only spoke about the qualities of the Millennial Generation (born 1979 or later)
- Pretty much the only mention of Gen-X was to have us raise our hands (we were at least 1/2 of the audience and the other 1/2 were Boomers, there were only 2 Millennials) at which point, the speaker informed us that Gen-X was the biggest group in legal departments but the group with the least power. We were the "silent majority." The speakers only seemed to care about how Boomers need to relate to Millennials.

Gee, thanks.

I actually find these generational speeches to be really interesting and I have to admit that on my way back up to my hotel room, I figured out that my own personal angst can probably be summed up pretty well by the fact that I might not fit into any generational group really well. Sometimes I think that although I'm technically Gen-X, I've tried to live the life of a Boomer and I have the multi-tasking (to the extreme) personality of a Millennial.

Ok, ok...I'm probably just overthinking this (no...not Jenn!) - my angst is probably just due to my lack of sleep.

I maintain, however, that they should NOT have ONLY had Boomers up there and I also think that Gen-X deserved a bit more respect. After all, guys, one of us might be President after next Tuesday. And it'll be a Boomer in the second-hand chair if that's the case. So watch out, you Boomers, we're coming into our own.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hotel Swag

I can't really explain this, but for some reason I am a SUCKER for hotel swag (i.e. - the little bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and lotion that you get at hotels). I REALLY like it when I'm at a nice hotel and get the fancy stuff, but I also keep the stuff from Holiday Inn if given the opportunity to do so.

Back at home (in case you haven't figured it out, I'm at a hotel right now) I have a basket which is simply overflowing with little bottles of stuff. In theory, these little bottles of hotel swag are meant for our overnight guests. We honestly don't have too many of those (can you blame them???) and even when they do come over (it's usually a set of grandparents who've been roped into it so we can go out on a date), there's only a 50/50 chance that I'll remember to set out a set of swag for them to use.

But something about these teeny little bottles makes me SO EXCITED (you may have noticed that about certain things, I am easily thrilled...oh- and in case you ever stay at the Hyatt Dulles, it's the most awesome hotel of all because they give you free travel toothpastes without you even having to ask for them...oooo!!!!). I must say, however, that the recent FAA paranoia about liquid explosives has really put a crimp in my style. You see, my handy dandy little ziplock-o-mini-bottles is often pretty full on my way to a destination. What, I ask you, am I supposed to do when I have an additional 3-9 bottles of hotel swag (depending upon the length of my trip) which must make it back to Austin? What am I supposed to do if I can't stuff those into my ziplock bag? The idea of leaving them behind is simply anathema to me (again...don't try to find logic in this obsession...there is none). I have honestly considered only traveling in clothes with pockets on the way back so that I can stuff little bottles of shampoos in my pockets in order to make it through security and, thus, "game" the system. When one considers the amount of intellectual energy I expend on figuring out how to get this crap home, one realizes that there is probably a clinical condition to describe someone who is willing to risk being labeled a shampoo-terrorist and sent to Guantanamo Bay so that she is able to bring a few extra bottles of shampoo home from a business trip. (Note: this crazy woman will most likely NEVER USE the shampoo that she is sneaking through airport security.)

On the off chance that this psychological condition has not yet been classified, I'm opening the floor to suggestions. The person who comes up with the best name for my neuroses is entitled to a month's supply of hotel swag.

Monday, October 27, 2008


In my (arguably irrational and almost certainly heretical) opinion, Halloween is one of the most fabulous holidays of the entire year. For those of you in need of factual support of this opinion, I offer the following points:

1. You get to dress up as anyone you want, even at work (unless you work at a stodgy place, in which case you should immediately quit your job and go work at a cool place).
2. You get tons and tons of free candy. (Ok, technically it's only free if you're a kid. Adults have to pay for it. And...also...I don't actually eat candy anymore but I still think that the idea of gorging myself on chocolate is fabulous - even if it no longer happens.)
3. You get to see the dark and creative sides of those around you. This really isn't a bad thing. It adds depth and perspective to your world. Trust me on this one.
4. There are hordes of deliriously happy children roaming the streets. (How can you not love hordes of deliriously happy children?)
5. Did I mention that you get to be ANYONE you want? Really - this is the best thing in the world. I've always said that in my perfect world, there would be a "dress up" day once a month. There just aren't enough Halloweens in my lifetime for me to be everyone I want to be. Granted, this might have something to do with the fact that if I had my way, I'd quit my job and be a full time actor in community theater productions. But you have to admit - it's totally fun.
6. Finally, it is TECHNICALLY a religious holiday - or at least it originated as such. All Saint's Eve, you know (or Hallowed Eve). [Ok, ok - I admit it - I just threw this one in as a last ditch effort to convince you. I don't really care whether it used to be religious.]

This Halloween is kind of a bummer for me because it's the first Halloween in simply AGES when I haven't spent hours and hours planning my costume. I didn't even get a new one. I'll be coming back into town from a business trip barely in time to help my kids get ready for trick-or-treating, then we'll rush off to a party. It's in a neighborhood where I don't know anyone. My friend who invited me told me that no other adult will be in costume and that if I show up in costume, she will pretend like she doesn't know who I am. Will that stop me from putting on my Korean Hanbok (a traditional dress I purchased years ago in Korea)? Heck no!! It just makes me want to put it on even more!

Oh, yes, that reminds me of the final reason that Halloween is the most awesome day of the year:
It's the only day of the year when you have permission to totally and completely humiliate your family by dressing up in costume and acting goofy.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

1, 2, 3, 4...I declare a thumb war!!

Do you remember doing this? I'm curious how long kids have played this game. (Heck, my husband and I have been known to do this at the dinner table...obviously it's not JUST a kids thing...and I'd like the record to reflect that it is the ONLY thing at which I can consistently kick his butt.) There are so many things that I always assumed were "70's" things - that my generation invented - which I've found out were around long before I was. Each generation is convinced that they have an exclusive experience...but the perspective of age teaches me that it just ain't so.

I'm contemplating generational issues because I am hanging in Frisco, Texas with my daughter, my niece, my sister-in-law (a.k.a. the woman who introduced me to the Twilight Addiction - er....I mean the Twilight Series), and my mom. We spent most of the day teasing mom about her joke-threats that she used as my brother and I found ever more creative ways to try her patience. I told her that I felt a blog post coming on about those threats....(this isn't quite it, in case you're wondering - you'll have to wait for some other evening's post to hear about how she regularly told us she'd "Yank us bald-headed" and "Knock us into next week")...and in the meantime, I'm getting less and less patient with my own daughter as her hyperactivity level increases (yes, E, I know very well that she gets it from me...) and she keeps talking about the injustice of the fact that she hasn't saved as much money as her cousin for when we go to the American Girl Doll store. Argh!!! I suddenly had a lot more respect for my mom and her joke-threats because I must say that mine today probably sounded A LOT more serious at certain times.

Sorry - I got all distracted with judgmental mother-angst there - what was I talking about? Oh, yeah...the wisdom that comes with age. So much for that one.

Anyway - the picture above is of my eldest and her cousin as they "thumb-warred" away during lunch. As I watched them, I had vague visions of a very meaningful post about intergenerational issues and decided to take this picture for illustrative purposes. least you got the picture, even if I was a bit too tired and Gen-X-ish tonight to be comtemplative. Somehow, all I can think about right now is the long drive back home on I-35 tomorrow.

Friday, October 24, 2008


My current read really is a good one (thanks, J, for the recommendation!) but I'm reading it slowly because it's darn deep. It's one of those books where I'll read a few sentences, then I'll actually stop and ponder...then I'll re-read them.

That's very anti-Jenn in many ways. As a general rule, I'm a speed demon with books. The Clancy novels used to drive me nuts because I would read them at my normal hyperspeed but I'd end up all confused about the characters because he'd throw new ones in every few pages. Whew. It was a bit much for me although I still loved the spy-who-saves-the-world plotlines.

ANYWAY...back to the book at's really got me thinking and I'm still in Chapter One. What's kind of funny is that it's got me thinking a lot about Breakfast at Tiffany's. I could be wrong, but I strongly suspect that no one else on the planet would connect this very well-written, Jungian psychology-themed, spiritual-quest-type-book with Audrey's Greatest Role (my personal opinion). I, however, tend to notice (or invent, depending on your point of view) connections that are not traditionally obvious.

As I was taking my exercise walk tonight (and listening over and over to the SATC soundtrack), I kept flashing on the last scene in Breakfast at Tiffany's. For those of you who don't have visions of Holly Golightly dance through your head on a regular basis, I'll enlighten you about the classic final scene from that movie....

Holly has a cat. But she won't name the cat. Artistically, it's because the cat represents her inner self, and she can't accept herself - she has a lot of self-hatred that she tries to cover up with her various issues. So at the end of the movie, it's raining and she finally realizes that she DOES care about the cat (i.e. - she cares about being true to herself, and taking care of herself, and letting herself be loved by a man who really cares about who she is on the inside) and she's wandering through the alley, dripping wet, saying "Cat...? Cat...?" [In case you're curious, she finds the cat and finds her guy, and the three of them presumably live happily ever after - yea, Hollywood!]

So back to my walk....I'm walking along and I have this image of Holly, soaking wet, and calling for Cat. How is this related to my book you might (reasonably) ask? The book is all about giving up on your previous ideas of what you are supposed to be (ideas your parents or teachers probably gave you) and trying to figure out who you truly are so that you can really accept and love yourself.

Even as I re-read this post, however, I can tell that I'm missing the point here. It's not about the connection to the book per se (I was getting way too academic and literary - a rather common phenomenon one will see on this blog)....what it really comes down to is that I'm hunting for Cat. That's it.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Black Belt

I'm blogging as I watch my children at karate and at the front of the gym is a sign with the Five Black Belt Values.

These values are:
1. Modesty
2. Courtesy
3. Integrity
4. Self-Control
5. Perseverence

I thought it would be an interesting exercise to consider how well I incorporate these values into my own life.

Modesty - I don't believe I'm very strong in this area. I am very dependent on the views of others - what they think of me truly matters. Because of that, it's important to me that I find ways to show others that I am smart or hard-working. It's difficult to be truly modest when one is constantly worried about what others think. Ironically, I suppose one must have strong self-confidence before one can be truly modest.

Courtesy - Of all of these, perhaps this is the value which comes easiest to me. I am very empathetic (to a fault, often) and therefore bend over backwards to make sure that I am polite. I'm weakest in this area when I am dealing with my own children - they see me at my worst (the mornings, when we are rushing to school) and I often find myself apologizing to them for letting my frustrations show in my tone of voice.

Integrity - I'm really not sure what this is supposed to mean. I know what the word means to me, but I'm not sure if it's the common definition. In my opinion, if someone has integrity, he is a man of his word and takes responsibility for his own actions. As I type this, the black belt instructor is teaching the children about this value. According to her, integrity means not lying. For me, the hardest part of honesty is being honest with myself.

Self-Control - Goodness. Isn't this about the hardest thing for almost all Americans? Many of my friends claim that I have strong self-control for giving up sugar from my diet. The truth, however, is that I gave up sugar because I have no self-control at all. If I ate one cookie, I would eat the entire box. I could either go crazy with eating sugar or I could go cold turkey.

Perseverence - I have to laugh because as soon as I read this word, my first thought was "Well, that comes and goes for me." Hmmm.... I could be wrong but I'd have to say that if it "comes and goes" then I do not have perseverence. And - of all the values listed - for some reason, this is the one I least WANT to have. I think there's a part of me that wants to be a little bit flakey about things that require discipline.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It's Flannel Time, Baby...

It is a happy night because I got to pull out the flannel PJ choices. I'm sure anyone who lives in a place with a real winter (i.e. a city that does not completely shut down when the temperature dips below 32 degrees and there is a thin glaze of ice on the overpasses) would chuckle heartily at my concept of winter...but in my book, it's time for my flannels.

Of course, this MIGHT be because I'm married to someone whose favorite winter pastime is opening the bedroom winter during the night. I can only assume that this is some sadistic test of my endurance...or maybe he just thinks the shade of blue I turn is lovely. Let's assume the latter, shall we?

I'll be ready tonight, however. I'm esconced in my winnie-the-pooh PJs and I'm about to go find my super-soft socks. Aaaahhh......cozy times.

High School

A few of my high school friends have found me through Facebook and for that I am ever so grateful. It's funny though... I mentioned in an email to one of them that I was jealous he'd stayed in touch with so many people from high school because I wasn't even able to do that during high school. Plenty of people have angst about high school and I was certainly one of those teenagers who was convinced she wasn't good enough, or smart enough, or pretty enough (blah, blah, blah - same old story).

Even people with that level of angst, however, usually manage to stay in touch with their core group and I just haven't been good about that. I think I had a core group, but maybe I didn't...perhaps that's the issue. (Hmm....) This May will be my 20th anniversary of graduation from high school (oh, yeah...I'm old) and it just makes one think. I was chatting with our awesome babysitter last night and asking her how school was - she mentioned how stressful everything was because once you add homework in with weekly obligations like sports, jobs, etc, you have no time to breathe. It hit me like a ton of bricks how some things never change, they just morph into new versions of reality.

Her busy high school life wasn't any less stressful than the work/mom/health nut life that I try to lead. The emotions seem about the same and our schedules are equally wacky. I guess if I had to describe a difference between my high school life and my grown-up life, it would be that in high school I was (more or less) living my life for myself and now so many of my scheduling stresses center around the fact that I'm trying to make sure that my kids have what I think they need in their life. I'm just as crazy busy but there are many moments in the day when I don't really feel like I'm living my life for myself. That sounds much more depressing than I mean it to be - it's not a bad thing - but it is a bit of a bummer when I have to plan 4 weeks out just to see a movie that I really want to see for myself.

Monday, October 20, 2008


I just had to post a picture of our apples from Maine.

The basket is large because my youngest insisted upon getting the biggest possible basket. It was pretty darn heavy by the end of our trek through the orchard.

This morning, as I looked at the bright red, super shiny, fresh apples - I realized that I should send an apple with each of my kids to their teachers. How Norman Rockwell is that? My kids pick their own apples then bring one to their teacher. It's almost freakishly "Father Knows Best." Next thing you know, I'll quit my job and start doing housework in heels and pearls.

Yeah...I'm cracking up at that one too. Let's count the ways that the current dimension would need to shift for that to happen, shall we?

1. I'd need to clean the house - or at least one room of the house.

2. I'd need to quit my job which, in and of itself, could seriously affect my ability to BUY heels and pearls.

3. I'd need the ability to keep a pleasant attitude after being cooped up in the house for longer than two hours.

Unless my husband has a trip planned to Stepford in the near future...none of that will be happening.

Ok...I'm off to slice one of those delicious apples and dribble sticky apple juice all over my pillow before I fall asleep.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Home Again

Aaaahhhh.....we're home.

This picture isn't from tonight, it's actually from BatFest (about a month ago) - but it's such a great Austin picture of our lake. I've almost stopped saying "Town Lake" and started saying "Lady Bird Lake" - but it will take a while for that to really be part of my vocabulary. I always thought Lady Bird hung the moon so I'm all for the new name.

It's so funny because while I was in Maine, I kept asking my husband if maybe we could move there. (The answer, in case you're wondering was: "No. And if you think you're cold don't want to be here in January.") Now that I'm home, I know I'm right where I need to be. I feel that way even with the pervasive FUNK that's in our house from some animal that decided to die somewhere in our walls while we were away. (Lovely...)

So at the risk of sounding like some cheesy country singer - Thank Heaven for Austin, Texas - dead critters, live mosquitoes, warm winters, and all.


We just landed in Charlotte (I'm experimenting with blogging from my phone) after one of the most frightening flights of my life. The turbulence was horrible at times. I tried to be brave for my daughter and it was obvious she tried to be brave for my sake. Courage with (and for) each other is a piece of love that often escapes my notice - because it's not usually required in my easy life. But when it suddenly appears, life means so much more.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

My Hairdo

My youngest niece spent at least 45 minutes working on my hair this afternoon. This picture only shows it about halfway through the process. By the end, the top of my head was completely covered in clips.

After the hairdo was complete (and after my husband was kind enough to spend 20 minutes disentagling my hair) we went apple picking and had an awesome time. It was very cold but beautiful and the kids had a great time. Until, that is, they got into a disagreement about allegedly illegal apple-eating out of someone else's basket. Childhood trauma of the highest degree...

I say that sarcastically but I distinctly remember some of my childhood disagreements, especially the ones where I felt that another child truly wronged me, and I remember how serious it felt at the time. I supppose that's part of childhood, isn't it? Learning that not everyone is going to see things from your perspective - now that's a skill that many adults I know never learned. I refuse to discuss politics in this blog, but may I just say that perhaps we should all remember to consider other perspectives over the course of the next month?

The Sea

Around 2 or 3 this morning, when I couldn't go back to sleep, I came across this quote in Eragon:

"The sea is emotion incarnate. It loves, hates, and weeps. It defies all attempts to capture it with words and rejects all shackles. No matter what you say about it, there is always that which you can't..."

Friday, October 17, 2008

Sea Glass Therapy

If I could hunt for sea glass every day of my life, I would be a much more sane human being. I could have spent all day digging through the rocks and sand, searching for these beautiful, smooth pieces of glass. As it was, I was very grateful for the hours I had today. I'm hoping that my daughter will beg to go back to the beach tomorrow so that I can listen to the waves and search some more.

It's something about the water and the's just life for me. And that's what is so wonderful about sea glass - it begins as litter, something sharp and dangerous - but because it is buffeted by the motion of the waves, it becomes a piece of art. That's what I hope for myself...that the dangerous and incomplete pieces of my life are becoming beautiful pieces of art as I am buffeted by the waves and sand of life.

Perhaps that's a bit high brow for me...but it really is how I feel.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Here's a picture I caught of my youngest holding my hand during the plane ride. His hand is almost as big as mine now.

We're in Maine! There is nothing quite so unusual and cool as a rainy day in New England. It's just not part of my normal Texas experience. I was up here last year in October, in a failed attempt to see Sara Bareilles (she cancelled the show at the last minute - but I still got to see Jon McLaughlin) and enjoyed myself tremendously.

My kids aged me by about a decade when we took them out on this big ol' jetty of granite with a lighthouse at the end of it. They slipped and slided all over the rocks as the rain came pouring down because they (unfortunately) take more after me than their father in the coordination department. Luckily - we still haven't had to visit the Portland ER. One can only hope that our luck holds out.

It's dark and cold and I think I'm going to go ahead and eat fish tonight. I'm such a rebel - breaking with my vegetarian ways when I'm in fish/crab/lobster country. [Editor's Note: I ended up eating clam chowder. It was delicious but I felt like less of a cheater, for some know, clams don't really have faces.]

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Way to go, Captain & Tennille!

I am SO happy.

Get this...I was in Walgreens earlier this evening and their Muzak service provider was on some 70's music kick, so I ended up hearing "Love Will Keep Us Together" over and over in my head for the next few hours. I suppose I can be grateful that it wasn't "Muskrat Love," considering that song annoyed me to no end even when I was 8 and had their album.

ANYWAY...after hearing C&T singing in my head for so long, I finally decided to go to Wikipedia (a.k.a. the fount of all wisdom) to find out where they are now. Guess what - they are still together! I'm thinking that as a sign of support, I might have to go out and buy their Christmas album, which apparently came out back in 2007. I have no doubt that C&T singing Silent Night (or whatever they sing) will annoy me also - but honestly, any couple that's still together and (presumably) disco-ing away sure deserves my measly contribution to their royalties. Wonder if it's on iTunes??

Oh - and yes, according to Wikipedia it is Tennille with two "n's" and two "l's"...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Don't worry...she just had mittens!

Many thanks to one of my fellow bloggers, who informed me that October 15, 2008 is "Blog Action Day" with a focus on awareness of poverty. ( Technically I'm writing this on October 14, but because I'll be rushing to pack bags for our trip to Maine twenty-four hours from now, I'm not sure if I'll be a-bloggin' tomorrow evening.

I ultimately decided to keep paper bags of little water bottles and peanut butter crackers in my car because when I see someone asking for a handout, I like to have something to give them. I think a number of people struggle with what the "right" answer is when faced with someone asking for a handout. As with many quandaries in life, the only way I was able to find my personal "right" answer was to first define what the "wrong" answers were for me. And, as with so many other philosophical issues, motherhood was the prism that served to clarify what my own personal "rights" and "wrongs" were.

-When I pretended not to see the people with their cardboard box signs on the side of the road, that was clearly "wrong" for me - especially with my children in the car. How on Earth could I reconcile my behavior with what I tried to teach them at home (everyone is valuable and has worth) and what they learned at church (God loves everyoneand we are supposed to help other people)? (That is, when we went to church...see yesterday's blog for more info...)

-When I handed out money, that also felt wrong. For one thing, I understand about addictive behavior and I really don't want to be a part of facilitating that behavior. (Of course, who's to say there even IS addictive behavior at issue here? Way to show your prejudices, Jenn...) Also - what does that teach my kids? That they just have to ask in the right way and I'll hand over money?

But just because I wasn't comfortable handing out money to people on the street, I knew that did not absolve me of my responsibility to my fellow citizens. I had to figure out what I COULD do for them. Thus was born the Jenn-sack-o-snacks. Lest you think I'm full of myself here, let me strongly state that I am doing this for purely selfish reasons. I feel much better about myself as a human when I reach out to others. This is also a great activity for my kids because they help me put the sacks together and if they're in the car with me when we see someone, they are participants in the process.

The best part about the whole thing is that I get to meet some really great fellow travelers. I'm going to close this posting with the story of one of them. A few weeks ago, I noticed an extremely scraggly-looking gentleman with an only slightly less scraggly-looking dog. A few things about this guy really stood out. For one thing, he had a HUGE smile on his face and his sign said "Homeless But Not Hopeless." In addition, his dog looked at him with complete and utter devotion. As a matter of fact, it was his dog that first noticed me as I held out my sack-o-snacks and got his owner's attention. (It really says something when a dog is so protective and loving towards its owner, IMHO.)

When Mr. Not Hopeless came over to accept the sack, he reached out and touched my arm, leaned in close and asked: "Say, did you hear about that cat that swallowed a bag of yarn?" I was somewhat taken aback by the fact that he physically reached out to me and even more surprised that it didn't bother me at all. I told him I hadn't heard of the cat (those of you who know me well will not be at all surprised to hear I actually believed that perhaps this was some news story I'd missed...sad but true...) and he then gave me the punchline: "She sure did. But don't worry - she just had mittens!"

What a great guy. He not only gave me a big laugh and a smile, but he also gave me a great joke to share with the kids when I got home. So, wherever you are Mr. Not Hopeless - thank you for a huge smile and for reminding me about what really matters.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Traveling Together

If you check out the list of blogs I follow, you'll see that my friends are quite artistic and write very well (I have such cool friends). The blog I just added today is specifically focused on my friend's attempt to "remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy," and what that's meant for her. Another blog (which first inspired me to start "putting myself out there" with my writing, as a sister recently phrased it) contains a wonderful entry about spirituality and how we won't always find what we need spiritually in a church.

It got me to thinking that some of the best writing and some of the most enlightening conversations I've recently enjoyed center around struggles with "the church" and, for lack of a better word, dogma. Guess what, guys? There are a whole bunch of us who feel the same way. We don't necessarily THINK the same things and we don't necessarily BELIEVE the same things, but we all FEEL (at least sometimes) oppressed by church/dogma/belief systems.

Humans have this moderately annoying tendency to screw up really fabulous things. We are truly gifted at it. We take a great concept, like coming together to celebrate life and love, and we turn it into a strict set of rules that we all have to follow or else. We've done the same psychological damage to ourselves about things like enjoying delicious food (can you say eating disorders?), supporting our families (putting our careers and society's concept of success before everything else - including our families), and even the love between a man and a woman.

The good news, in my view, is that a bunch of us are trying to connect with God in our own ways. If we continue to put ourselves out there and talk about it, write about it, and even sing about it - then we're making each other stronger. It only takes a connection from one person to one other person to create a holy moment.

So, my fellow travelers, I say keep pushing your own spiritual limits, but don't let anyone else tell you what they're supposed to be. I promise that I'm over here in my little corner of the world, cheering you on. And, although I have no way to know for sure, I believe with all my heart that God is smiling this big huge Buddha-smile as we do this.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


I finished reading Memoirs of a Geisha tonight. It really was beautiful - difficult and painful for me in many ways - but beautiful. There were a number of quotes near the end of the book which I underlined. I'm really not sure if they'll mean as much to someone reading them out of context, but I'm still compelled to share them in this forum:

"Adversity is like a strong wind. I don't mean just that it holds us back from places we might otherwise go. It also tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that afterward we see ourselves as we really are, and not merely as we might like to be."

"In these years away, I'd learned to suspend all the water in my personality by turning it to ice, you might say. Only by stopping the natural flow of my thoughts in this way could I bear the waiting. Now to hear Nobu refer to my destiny...well, I felt he'd shattered the ice inside me and awakened my desires once again."

[The discussion of a "water personality" throughout this novel really intrigued me. Perhaps because water plays such a HUGE part of many of my dreams. The concept is apparently based on the Japanese philosophy that different people are more in tune with different elements of the Earth (earth, fire, water, metal and water) and the heroine of this story had a strong water personality. Here's something I found on the web about a water personality: Water-type people are smart, wise, frank, and resourceful. They have good memories and think before they leap.There are two types of Water: Floating Water and Still Water. Floating Water makes people active and restless and feel like traveling. Still Water makes people calm and peaceful.]

There were two other lines I'd underlined, but they were more personal and seemed less apt to speak to a broad audience (how presumptious of me to even consider that I have a broad audience!). At any rate, I'm very glad I decided to read this book. Probably the best $1.00 I've spent in a long time. Half Price Books really is lots of fun. Next on the book list is either Eragon or Vanity Fair. Guess I'll decide in a few minutes when I lie down to rest.

Tent Sweet Tent

My daughter made this sign before we left and my husband was smart enough to throw a roll of tape into the suitcase for us so that we could tape it up. Here's my bear and her Grover posing beside the sign, which we taped right above our pillows. We really did have a good time. It was beautiful. Those of you who are on my Kodak Gallery picture list just got an album full of pictures a few minutes ago.

We're both pretty beat, but before I take a shower and let myself rest, I've GOT to get out and at least take a good walk.
It's funny - I never rest very deeply at night, I wake up often (it's almost like I'm only dozing) and last night was no exception. But it was wonderful when I woke up last night because I could look up and see the trees (we didn't put the rain roof on our tent - I could see the moon through the branches of the trees overhead) and hear the insects. Even though we were on the hard ground (it didn't dawn on me to bring an air mattress like our tent neighbors did) I'm not sore and it was still cozy in it's own way. I really did like it. I guess Mom is right - there's a lot more of my Dad in me than I realize! I would love to go out one night just by myself and stay in a tent like that. No rush to get up in the morning, all by myself, just listening to the birds in the morning.
There was a campfire song we learned this weekend and I like the words:

Rise up oh fire
By thy light's glory
Give to us beauty,
wisdom and joy.
Oh, and in case you're wondering, I didn't even bother trying to get the tent back into that case.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Off to Nature

Well, I'm about to take off for the camping adventure. It sure looks cloudy, although the weather guys say it won't rain...I hope they're correct. I'm also assuming that I'll be fed hot dogs or some other kind of kid-oriented meat food, so I'm trying to get psyched up for that. At least when I get back in town I plan to go out for tapas and wine while my kids are at a show with the grandparents. So it'll be about 24 hours of rustic stuff, then I can dress up and have a civilized date. (Whew.) More on Sunday....

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Spatial Reasoning Skills

I SO do not have these (spatial reasoning skills, that is). Check out this picture...

It might be hard to tell - but the item on the left is a rolled up tent, and the item on the right is a very small carrying case for it. The tent was actually in the carrying case but how the company got it in there, I will never know.

Why do I have a (sloppily) rolled up tent in the middle of my front room, you may ask? Well - let me tell you. Because I am such an outdoorsy, tough woman (hey - no snickers from the peanut gallery, guys -I can hear you out there!) -- I am going on a mother/daughter camping adventure this weekend. So....last night I put it up in the middle of our living room to make sure I knew how to set it up.

I won this tent at my last job (funny story, I used to win everything there...good karma or something) and we've never used it. It's pretty nice. I guess it's nice...actually - what do I know about tents? Nada. It could be the death tent and I'd have no idea.

I'm pretty sure that the last time I went camping (legitimate camping in a tent) was when I was three and my baby brother was an actual baby. My dad really liked camping and was excited to take the family on a genuine camping trip. Not a bad idea except for the fact that (perhaps I failed to mention this) I was three and my brother was a baby.

To be fair, I have a really great memory of sitting on a rock next to my dad, fishing. I really liked it. (It was so beautiful - we were in the mountains in New Mexico or Colorado.) Here's the deal, though. As we were sitting on the rock, I looked down and noticed that polka-dots were showing up on the rock because it started to rain. My next memory is of us treking back to the campsite where mom was cooking dinner for us (in the light rain) and I remember thinking that didn't look like much fun. I was glad I didn't get that job. And, of course, I don't think we ended up with a fish. (Sorry, Dad, if I'm forgetting some great fish...)

Anyway. The light rain turned into a seriously major mountain thunderstorm. Lightening, really loud thunder...and we're in a tent. So you really can't blame me and Mom that we weren't chomping at the bit to go live as rustic folk in the wood. Thus, there was no mother/daughter tent camping after the infamous '74 mountain adventure.

The weather this weekend is supposed to be decent and all I have to do is set up the tent. It's an organized Girl Scout thing so someone else is planning all the activities and providing the food. The downside is that they'll probably serve meat so my vegetarian diet will be shot, but at least I don't have to cook.*

*If you can't tell from this odd little post - I'm feeling much better than I was yesterday. I credit two things with my improved attitude:

1. all the nice notes I got from you guys, supporting me, and
2. tonight's kickboxing class (I totally got my game back and kicked some serious imaginary tail).

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


I made a difficult phone call yesterday. There is a business here in town, and one of their employees abused (to put it rather mildly) the position of trust he had with his clients. I was one of his clients. A number weeks passed without me hearing word one from the establishment in question and I finally gathered enough courage to call them.

Without going into detail about the call, I will say that I was exceedingly polite, as was the manager. But I didn't feel better at the end of the call and it's been eating away at me ever since. Today at lunch, I told my friend about the call and she colorfully indicated her skepticism at what the manager told me. In a way I felt better because it seemed to validate my feelings towards the business but at the same time, I kicked myself for not being more assertive during the call. And I wondered - at times like these, where is my backbone?

I believe part of the problem was that I went into the call without a clear idea of what I wanted from them. Even now, all I know is that there were certain things that I needed to say (and I said them). But, really, when it comes to standing up for myself in these situations - I'm not exactly the world's strongest person.

Ironically, that's not the case professionally. I'm an attorney by trade and over the course of the last decade, I've learned how to respectfully demand (and obtain) what my clients require. I've even been able to stand up for myself professionally at certain times.

But this situation was personal, not professional, and to say that it threw me for a loop is the epitome of all understatements. I suppose that's a big part of it. I couldn't be the least bit objective about it. Perhaps objectivity is a prerequisite for "backbone."

Sitting here tonight, I don't see the solution. I do believe that my backbone is still in there...somewhere. It'll show up again - probably when I least expect it.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Have you all heard the song Decode, by Paramore, that you can find on Stephanie Meyer's website? It's Bella's theme, I believe. LOVE it!

And (I know I'm slower than most of you) - I just watched the Twilight movie trailers on YouTube. I'm really excited about the movie but for some reason, Bella isn't exactly how I pictured her. I wonder if other girls/women feel the same way because maybe when you relate to a character, you picture her as yourself? There's something about her voice - it just wasn't what I expected.

But still....WAY excited. [I would insert a goosebump emoticon here if I had one...]

Monday, October 6, 2008

Scarlett has left the building.

Ok, guys. I have a confession to make. A HUGE confession to make. I've been denying the truth of it for years, but I can't deny it anymore...

I am no longer a true southern woman. (Oh, the shame.) Now - please understand that I am not defining myself as a yankee or anything like that. But - it's just not the same.

Here were the tell-tale signs that things had changed:
- I no longer insist on drinking my beer out of a glass. I sometimes drink out of a bottle or even (*gasp*) a can. [And once - a waiter asked if I wanted a glass for my beer and I said "nah...".]
- Thank You notes no longer bring me the sense of peace and accomplishment that they used to bring me. I'm no less thankful to the wonderful people who gave me gifts but there's none of this sitting down with a cup of hot tea in front of a window to carefully draft thank you notes - now I whip them out pretty darn fast - if I even remember to do them at all - and it no longer gives me the feeling that I've just done the most important thing in the world.
- And probably the most obvious change of all is the fact that I haven't used the word "tacky" in a really long time. I MIGHT have used it a few months ago - but even then I think I was using it as a joke and trying to act all snooty and uppity to be funny. "Tacky" was, for a long time, a pretty huge part of my vocabulary. But it has now gone the way of the dodo - or at least the Barton Creek Salamander...

Now the good news is that I still would not be caught DEAD in white shoes between Labor Day and Easter. So, clearly, some of my upbringing stuck. (I had to throw that in. My mom's read this blog at least once and I assume she will again. Don't worry, Mom! I'm keeping the faith to a certain extent.)

It's funny that I've refused to admit the loss of my southerness (or OBVIOUS southernness) for so long. It's not as if I'm a walking, talking Scarlett wanna-be. Although, technically I DO have green eyes, brown hair and a vicious temper if you ever push me too far (generally I'm really sweet like Melanie, though - I promise). And....I guess I am a lot more ambitious than I originally admitted to myself in terms of career goals. Ok, ok - and maybe (just maybe) I have a thing for Rhett-ish guys...but that's it. There are no other similarities whatsoever. (Well, maybe the Irish thing...)

Hmmm. Maybe Scarlett wasn't what people expected either. Did she EVER write a thank you note? I sure don't remember that from the novel. Seems as if she was a bit too busy bullying people to worry about sending notes.

Maybe I mis-titled this blog entry. Maybe Scarlett has just now ENTERED the building in my case. So, on that note, I think I'll go bully a few carpetbaggers. I'll let you know how that turns out.*

* There is a certain phone call that looms for me tomorrow and I shall try to call upon my true inner-Scarlett for it. Wish me luck.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Artists Who Read My Mind (to an arguably freaky degree...)

[Yeah, I know - I'm clearly a newbie blogger since this is my second post in one day. Oh, well. It's the cheapest and most effective therapy I've found so far.]

I'm sitting here, listening to an album I just bought off of iTunes today - by Lenka. This tends to happen to me, I run into a song (usually it's a free iTunes song - something I just happen across) which totally resonates with me and I end up buying the whole album. At that point, I start to wonder if the artist was stalking me or something because of how much she (not always, but usually, the artist is a she) sounds like me. My latest "mini-theme-song" which I'm playing approximately 800 times a day is "The Show" by Lenka (check it out -- one of my favorites on the right hand side of this blog). So - of course I had to get the rest of her album and all I can say is that I really need to have a heart-to-heart with my mom to find out if maybe I had a twin sister (or baby need to rub it in) from whom I was separated.

This happened a while back with Sara Bareilles and me (don't you just love the way I write as if we have some mutual artistic connection?) - I got Love Song free from iTunes, then shortly thereafter bought her entire album (Little Voice). It's actually pretty cool because what ended up happening for me was that different songs took my heart and twisted it into origami at different periods of my life.

Sara's cool because she's pretty angsty but fun. And she cusses some in her songs. That works for me. Lenka's different in a lot of ways. Her songs are fun and seem perky but when you really listen to the words, you realize there's tons of angst there too - it's right up my alley in terms of Sesame Street-sounding angsty-ness. (I need to hit the thesaurus - I use angst often - but cynicism isn't the right word for me and I'm not exactly goth...I'll get back to you on that one.)

It's primarily music that does this to me. Although, for the most part, I completely get any character Drew Barrymore plays (no matter how silly) and Emily Dickinson and I are pretty simpatico (or would be if she hadn't, you know, died before I was born).

I'll leave you with just a few words from Lenka's "The Show":
"I'm just a little bit caught in the middle, life is a maze and love is a riddle..."

That's the stuff...

My salad

When I was in Virginia for business last week, I had a salad that was great. It was a mango salad with a lime-miso dressing. This isn't quite it, but it is my attempt to re-create it. I'm rather impressed with the dressing, actually.

I must, however, confess something. I planned to post the recipe online. Unfortunately, when I do things like this - it doesn't occur to me to actually (I don't know...) MEASURE the ingredients so that a recipe could be reproduced in the future.

It is a yummy salad, however (and would probably be very nice with a chardonnay) so, for what it's worth - here's the loosey-goosey recipe:

- about 3/4 c fresh squeezed lime juice BUT that was too much so you should probably use about 1/2 c.

- probably about 1 T of miso (the light kind) - but, again, since you might not want to use so much lime juice, you might want to cut back a tad on the miso also...

- a bit of soy sauce (seriously, I just held it over the bowl for about a second - not very much)

- some olive oil (um....I have no clue how much I used of this ingredient...less than 1/4 c I'm almost sure)

It really is good though! You drizzle it over baby tomatoes, mangoes, avocados, and cucumbers. And it's so pretty.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Watching the Trees

I'm lying in bed, watching the trees sway through my bedroom window. It's especially nice in my new bedroom because of my new green walls. It feels especially nature-y. I remember that as a girl, green was always my favorite color (although sometimes it morphed into turquoise). One day in second grade, a boy in my class told me that I wasn't allowed to have green as my favorite color because green was (and I quote) "a boy's color." I responded with some profound insight, such as "Nuh-uh!!! Green is a girl's color!" He insisted and I told him I didn't care, green was my favorite color anyway.

He then said "you're one of those womens' libbers aren't you??" (I know - I'm dating myself here - we're talking mid-70's - do the math) And I said "Yes I am!"

I believe the conversation ended at that point.

I smile when I remember that. I'm going to try to get back to that second grade girl. I'm making progress....