Wednesday, August 31, 2005
A Streetcar Named Get Me Outta Here
Riddle me this
- How many people have I (truly) made happy?
- How do I really take control, as opposed to acting like I have control?
- Is it ever safe to tell someone how you feel?
- Will I ever get the junk out of the closets and the attic?
- What does it take to get inspired?
- Will anybody ever hold my hand again?
- What time of the day am I most productive?
- Is anyone glad to see me?
- Will breathing ever get any easier?
- Can I just walk away?
- What will Christmas be like this year?
- What's the funniest thing I've seen lately?
- How do I simplify, simplify, simplify?
- Why do I have to keep asking the same questions over and over?
Well, you get the picture (the journal list is three pages long). All of the questions still flit through my mind occasionally, and I know that they reveal more about me than the answers ever could. Well, anyway, most of the answers change according to the situation or season. Still, it helps to read them over now and then.
Morning quote, from The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje:
The word should be "thinkering." Caravaggio's mind slips into this consideration, another syllable to suggest collecting a thought as one tinkers with a half-completed bicycle.
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
The cure for the summertime (TV) blues
A 30-something friend at work pulls the TCM monthly schedules, highlights what he wants to see, then hands the list to me so that I can make sure he doesn't miss a classic. And I don't mean the usual Casablanca Citizen Kane classics, either (because those are certainly marked). C'mon - everybody needs to see iconic films like Where the Boys Are, The Russians are Coming/The Russians are Coming, The Long, Long Trailer, and The Thin Man series (and I could go on and on).
Watching the critical, as well as the fun or silly, classics, here's what my strapped-to-the-chair-"boohoo-why-isn't-anybody-going-to-movies-anymore" person would recognize for him/herself:
- Real movies have stories (plots, scripts, good writing - however you want to say it). If the story ain't there, yo' money is wasted.
- Real movies have people who talk to each other, with conversations that move the story along (see above). Nothing makes movie-minutes fly by faster than well-written dialogue. (How many times can we watch Jack Nicholson try to order toast in Five Easy Pieces? A million times. Brilliantly written, brilliantly played. No special-effects needed.)
- Real movies are made by craftsmen/women. Directors, actors, writers, Directors of Photography, set design, editing, lighting, sound, wardrobe - every shot, every frame a little work of art. Money has nothing to do with it, since some of the best were made on the cheap or made before bells-and-whistles made things so expensive (though these craftsmen most certainly deserve every penny they earn).
In these crazy, unsettling times, these films will tell you more about what it means to be an American or a citizen of the world than any politician or news analyst.
Climbing down from soap-box now.
A "recipe" in memory of Mother
My mother died March 14, 2004. She would've been 89 years old today, August 30. Zaroff's little story is a great way to remember my own sweet mama.
Monday, August 29, 2005
Literary salute to the Big Easy
Cheers, oh brave and drenched New Orleans. Laissez le bon temps roulez - just not today!
We come from the planet Turquoisia, and we come in peace
Here's a follow-up to my post about disappointment in 21st fashion and technology (Jane Jetson). Look at this picture. This is what I'm talking about. Is there anything this cool right now? Nooooooo. No futuristic clothes. No jet-packs. No space malls. Who failed us on this? I want names and numbers.
Oh, and you need to know that the planet Earth has been renamed Turquoisia. Spent yesterday afternoon with my 8-year-old bud Joanna, just hangin' out in the park. Lots of silly talk that started with the usual 10-minute naughtiness about Uranus led to the conclusion that - hey - "Earth" isn't such a good name either (though not as hilariously funny as Uranus). All the other planets are named after ancient gods and goddesses, except for Earth and (you guessed it) Uranus. (See how many times I managed to say Uranus? It's addictive, I tell ya'.)
Joanna and I decided we wanted a better name, something that reflects the blue and green of the place. She came up with Turquoisia. It's a little long and hard to spell, but other than that I think it sums things up nicely. Just think: Mother Turquoisia, Turquoisia shoes, turquoisia-bound, moving Heaven and Turquoisia . . .
Actually, we decided Turquoisia would be a temporary moniker until we found a goddess's name worth using. Suggestions?
If you demand the price, you must look at the result
A little early morning musing on a passage from Pat Barker's Regeneration, one part of her World War I trilogy. . . I have been immersed in the Great War for the last several months because it is a major part of the book I'm writing. (If you're interested in how that's playing out, you can visit my "serious" blog The Wildgoose Chase .)
Anyway, let me set the scene here. One of the characters, a beautiful, healthy young woman, goes to a war hospital and encounters the worst of the war wounded - men who have been horribly disfigured or maimed:
Simply by being there, by being that inconsequential, infinitely powerful creature: a pretty girl, she'd made everything worse. Her sense of her own helplessness, her being forced to play the role of Medusa when she meant no harm, merged with the anger she was beginning to feel at their being hidden away like that. If the country demanded that price, then it should bloody well be prepared to look at the result. she strode on through the heat, not caring where she was going, furious with herself, the war . . . everything.
Seems to ring true today. Will we ever learn to tell the difference between necessary, honorable wars and the superfluous, hubris-filled ones? Pro'ly not.
Sunday, August 28, 2005
Da Shakespeare Code
Your alternatives are: 1) Get busy re-reading all Shakey's plays and try to figure out his byzantine network of clues that gives away his strong Catholic loyalties and his fears for drab, Protestant Elizabethan England; or 2) Find yourself a copy of Clare Asquith's new book Shadowplay. (Personally, I think she'd sell more copies if she changed the title to Da Shadowplay and wrote under a less pretentious name like, say, Dan Brown.)
Asquith contends that Elizabethan Blighty was fraught with dangers for Will and all loyal Catholics, so he had to pretend to suck up to the Queen and her new-found religion with plays that sold the current political line. Still he was a good Catholic boy, so he coded the language and images in his plays to get him off the hook, eternally speaking. He was also more edu-ma-cated that previously surmised, sneaking off to Oxford for some real readin' and writin' (not sure about the 'rithmatic).
It was scary times in England:
It is now widely accepted that the era was not a period of political consensus, says Asquith. Instead, it was a time in which opposition voices were banished and censorship meant the burning of illegal pamphlets and printed works.
Whew! Sounds suspiciously like 21st century USA, eh? I really must start coding these blogs. All right, my little Gad-Poor-Alecks, you can read about it in today's The Observer.
Saturday, August 27, 2005
How to avoid the Incredible Shrinking Brain
In the midst of that news, The Guardian ran a short blurb about what books - or any sorts of intellectual pursuit - do for the brain. Most all of it I already knew, but it's good to have a review every now and then. In short, the brain shrinks as we age - and before you 20-year-olds start rolling your eyes, the shrinking starts around your age, my little kudzu vines. The brain needs to be exposed to new information constantly. Reading is an important way to keep the brain facile as it shrinks away to a dried up little pea (no, no - I don't think it goes that far). The good news for Posh is that there's really no diff between books, magazines, or ads posted to the subway wall, and - here's where she'll luck out, the silly little twit - physical activity counts as well.
Now, I don't care one way or another whether Posh and Becks read (though I do hope someone will learn to read well enough to give their boys a bedtime story now and then). My amazement comes from someone who proudly declares that she hasn't read a book.
She may have all the money in the world, but she certainly isn't rich.
It's a beautiful morning here in Atlanta, finally cooling down to the 70s. The remnants of hurricanes won't blow through until next week. Enjoy your Saturday, wherever you are.
Friday, August 26, 2005
Is that. . . ? Can it possible be? It's so bright! It's. . . it's THE WEEKEND!
Hold on to your dogs and office chairs . . .
Harland Pepper and David Brent are making a movie together! The Guardian is reporting that, yes indeedy, Ricky Gervais (AKA Brent/The Office) is joining the usual Christopher Guest (AKA Pepper/Best In Show) faux-documentary suspects like Catherine O'Hara, Eugene Levy, Parker Posey, et. al., in a new film called For Your Consideration. Well, one can hardly contain one's bladder on this one. Christopher Guest and crew are brilliant in everything they touch - Waiting for Guffman, Best In Show, A Mighty Wind, and - of course, the classic - This is Spinal Tap. Now throw in the genius of The Office and Extras - and goodness gracious me! Here is a boatload of people who can think (imagine that!) and be funny and successful all at the same time. The combination is so rare that I think I'm going to have to sit down for a minute.
Needless Markup has gone to the dogs (and rightly so)
I walked out the door, saw the dogs, went back into the store and got the phone number for Fulton County Animal Control and wrote down the tag number," she said. "I went out a second time and checked the doors and they were locked."
Cheatham went back inside and picked up a little paper bowl and a bottle of water.
"I'm 5-2," she said. "I took my shoes off and got on the hood."
That's when everything went to the dogs. By the time she was in a position to reach down through the sunroof, the car owner "came out and called me fat and ugly," Cheatham said. "She was just screaming." Cheatham said Ramona Lindsey screamed for her to get off the "$80,000 car."
According to Cheatham, Lindsey also said: "I hope you're somebody because I'm going to have your job."
Lindsey, of Peachtree City, declined comment, saying twice Thursday that her attorney would contact the newspaper, but he didn't.
The next day, Neiman-Marcus fires the woman who tried to save the dogs! Say, wha'? Now, I don't know what this employee had done in the past that would warrant dismissal, but this, this shouldn't have pushed it over the edge. Are you with me here? In fact the owner of the dogs and the god-awful SUV shoulda' been taken to jail immediately and the car sold to help support the troops (don'cha' just know there was a big yellow ribbon slapped on the back of the car?). I mean, she needs to be taken off the streets because she's too stupid to drive, too stupid to own dogs, too stupid to shop - well, you get my drift. She's endangering the population, both human and canine.
OK, that's my vent for the day. And woo-hoo! It's Friday!
Eat, eat so you don't go mad
Thursday, August 25, 2005
The note in the middle
My writing journal not only gives me a place to scribble ideas for stories and articles, but it's also where I keep favorite passages from books I'm reading. Here's a great line from The Thinking Reed by Rebecca West:
"There was nothing casual about life in France; it demanded perpetually that one should hit the note in the middle."
Don't you find that - much too often - we are called upon to do the very tedious work of hitting the middle note, over and over? It takes such concentration and energy to stay on the dead-center of things - at work, at home, with people with love, with people we don't. As one who has a hard time staying on the middle note, often running up and down the keyboard, jumping up on the black keys, generally causing a ruckus - I think of West's words when I'm forced to contain myself.
I love Rebecca West, but I can't fly through one of her books. Her writing is so brilliant, that I have to savor every line.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
A twist on Robin Hood: stealing from the mean and, well, keeping it
Thank God I'm not a celebrity (though I can be mean sometimes). I'm looking around trying to find something worth stealing. The rickety old computer with the very unhip, whacking great boat-anchor of a monitor? Um, probably not. The 15-year-old TV? Nope. There are a couple of nice art pieces, but I've cleverly mixed them in with the crap, so uhn-uh. Same with my first editions - all higgledy-piggledy in the bookshelves. And don't even think about the credit cards - best of luck with those, you dastardly domestic. (Steal my identity - please!) So I'm safe for now, I suppose. Ah, the rich have so many problems that we just can't imagine, eh?
Penguin Books - makin' a list and checkin' it twice
Following are 20 of the top-selling Penguin Classics on Amazon.com that are part of the new collection:
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Odyssey by Homer
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
The Illiad by Homer
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
The Three Theban Plays by Sophocles
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Epic of Gilgamesh by Anonymous
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Candide by Francois Voltaire
The Last Days of Socrates by Plato
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel HawthorneOK, we believe it. You can pull up the complete listing of the 1082 titles from the link above. (But "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" probably isn't on it.) Enjoy!
Revisiting a writing journal
I am not good at regular journaling, but I admire those who are. I figure the point would be to write down exactly what I think and feel about a person or event, but my mama taught me never to put anything (like that) in writing. What if I dropped dead and everybody got their hands on my journal - feelings hurt or boosted out of context, my wicked thoughts revealed to the people I most care about? Nope. And if I don't write those kind of things in a journal, it just turns out to be a laundry list of "what I did today."
But my writing journal is different, although there is a lot of private angst revealed throughout. If it gets too personal/specific, I usually end up tearing those pages out and burning them. A couple of years ago I went through a string of horrible events that caused me to crawl 'way, 'way back into my shell (which is totally out of character for me - shell? what shell?) to see if I could find out who I really was. In the writing journal I documented several months of distress in a sort of "Psalms from a Broken Woman." I was specific about my pain, but not about the people or events, so I saved these pages. Even reading over them three years later, they are a pretty well-written account of pain and despair. I don't read them often - geez, no - but they are a reminder of what I got through and beyond, and that's not a little thing.
Just needed to get that off my chest. I'll write something funny later on - cheers!
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
And speaking of books, how about this idea for an online lending library?
It's a cool idea - anyone want to help me launch one here in the States?
Well, if I get too bogged down, I can just check out some of the book lists online. There's a pretty comprehensive one called The Booklist Center that lists every genre and links to applicable reading lists.
Monday, August 22, 2005
If wondering who the real Jack the Ripper was is keeping you up nights . . .
Two oldie-but-goodies (oldies-but-goody?) have cropped up within the last week. Mystery/crime writer Patricia Cornwell is positively convinced that she has solved the Jack the Ripper identity. No, it's not Prince Albert Victor or Sir William Gull (the doctor) or Senator Bill Frist (the other doctor). Cornwell has spent almost $4 million of her own money using modern methods of investigation and research to uncover one Walter Sickert, a painter - the artistic kind - in Victorian London. Alas, many Ripper experts say "Pish and tosh" to Cornwell's theory. Any thoughts from your end? Here's a little story about it in The Guardian.
The number two history-mystery story to come back to the surface is that of the forever-missing Judge Crater. Last week The New York Times reported that new evidence had come to light (BIG "maybe," here). The cuprits may have been a police officer and his brother, who murdered the gad-about judge, then buried him under the Coney Island boardwalk.
Well, it's obvious to me that Judge Crater and Jack the Ripper were one and the same. Crater. Ripper. Get it? Ripper leaves London and jaunts over to New York, where he becomes a fancy-pants judge. But his past catches up with him on August 6, 1930, and badda-boom, he's eatin' sand and pushin' up barnacles at Coney Island. You're welcome, and that didn't even cost me a dime. (Nyah-nyah Patricia Cornwell!)
All this kinda makes your missing car keys pale in comparison, eh?
Sunday, August 21, 2005
March out and see March of the Penguins
Saturday, August 20, 2005
Find your grail
- "Find your grail" (still looking, as you know)
- "You cannot be on Broadway if you don't have any Jews" ( that was also a theme in The Producers)
- "Always look on the bright side of life"
What puzzles you?
I've always been a big fan of crossword puzzles, mainly because of my love of words and a demonic curse of self-competition. (Who cares about besting others? Beating yourself - that's what's important! OK, that sounds kind of twisted now that I look at it.) Anyway, over the last 10 years or so I've come to believe (whether true or not) that if I can make a decent stab at a respectable crossword (so the ones in People or TV Guide don't count) everyday, it will go a long way to stave off impending mental degeneration.
I've always shied away from number puzzles because, well, see, they involve numbers. However - for you number-phobics and number-philes alike - the current fad of sudoku sweeping the world has gotten under my skin. I discovered the puzzles about four months ago in The London Times, but you can find them in most newspapers now, I think. The great thing about sudoku is that it involves NO math! Numbers, yes. Math, no. It's really a logic-arrangement thing that I suspect works another part of the brain. (See, I'm still trying to ward off flaking grey matter.)
Here's a simple explanation of how it works (from The Economist):
The game's appeal is that its rules are as simple as its solution is complex. On a board of nine-by-nine squares, most of them empty, players must fill in each square with a number so that each row (left to right), column (top to bottom) and block (in bold lines) contains 1 to 9. Advanced versions use bigger boards or add letters from the alphabet.
I print them off from wherever I can find them (see Times link above) and stuff them in my purse to noodle over whenever I get the chance - restaurants, waiting rooms, etc. Oh, and I also carry a pencil, too. Even though I work crosswords in - ahem - ink, there's a lot more trial and error involved in sudoku puzzles. Give 'em a try - you could become addicted.
It's Saturday and I'm off to run errands and do those lovely chores. Go have some fun and try to hold those brain cells together!
Friday, August 19, 2005
Here's to Friday afternoon!
That said (and with Round-up Rodeo Day behind us), chicas, go have some fun. Enjoy the weekend - sleep, read, go out with friends, embarrass your children (my personal favorite), have a big ol' slab o'meat, and laugh, laugh, laugh! You've done an outstanding job this week - kisses and cheers, Sweetie, Dahling!
Polly put the kettle on
One essential element in good tea-brewing is a fabulous kettle. In fact, I contend that a kettle is one of the more necessary kitchen items - yes, even in the face of microwave water-heating ability. I don't know - water should be boiled in a kettle, not in a microwave - that's just not natural. Anyway, I know that I am in a kettle-loving minority. I had to buy a kettle for my brother's mountain cabin because I got tired (and burned) of boiling my tea water on the stove in a saucepan. My cousin's mountain home? Nope, 'nary a kettle. My own condo-owning daughter doesn't have a kettle (but she's getting one from Santa this Christmas)!
Kettles are cool and interesting and fun. The really cool designer ones are expensive, but they're the perfect art-form for me - function + design. Architect Michael Graves is a noted designer who enjoys the challenge of reshaping and reinventing the look of the humble kettle. BusinessWeek has an interview with Graves that goes into depth about his famous Alessi kettle with the little bird-shaped whistle and his design philosophy.
Though the unassuming little kettle is obviously on the endangered essential-life-object species list, it's gratifying to know that someone somewhere is looking out for it. And I really want one of those Graves-Alessi kettles, dammit. Mo' tea, mo' tea.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Sugar and Spice
Saddle your pony, here we go down to the talent rodeo.
Gather up Susie, Jack and Joe, join the talent round-up.
Round 'em up, bring 'em in, everybody's sure to win.
Step right up, here we go. Oh, what a rodeo!
(So does Annette cancel out Sissy and Mia?)
Like a Candle in the Wind, or A Shocking Disclosure
Picture this: small Christian college in Tennessee, late 60s-early 70s, not much to do but figure out ways to disgust each other, broke (financially, I mean), desperate for candles. To alleviate the candle-drought, my suite-mates and I used to turn out the most creative little tapers using cardboard tampon tubes, strings, and shaved crayons or candle-dregs. We did (I do hope) rinse out the tubes, place the string in, then melt the crayons/dregs in a metal spoon and pour into the tubes. Let them harden, peel off the cardboard tube, and - voila! - a whole mess o' 5-6" candles. If you made them with red wax, they looked kinda like used tampons (this is where the disgusting part comes in, and that's all I'm going to say about that).
The scary thing is that making tampon-candles was problably the least vile thing we did. Shoot, I had to transfer to the much-larger University of Alabama to keep from falling to the very bottom of the disgusting-sin-pit. And when I had a daughter of my own, she was strictly forbidden to go to any small Christian college. Who knew tampon art would make it into the extreme mainstream in 2005?
Your name here!
C'mon. Admit it. You'd love to see your name pop up as a character in a Stephen King novel (unless your name's Carrie or Redrum, and in that case - well - it already has). How much is it worth to you? Sixteen authors are giving readers the opportunity to have their names appear in forthcoming books - for a price - thanks to an e-Bay auction between September 1-25 to benefit The First Amendment Project.
Each author will specify how the name will be used, so you don't have control over that. Author Peter Straub warns that potential bidders "should be advised that the fictional person who winds up bearing his or her name may be of dubious moral character." Well, I should hope so! The more morally dubious, the better, I say. Read about it here, then prepare to fork out the bucks.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
"The History of . . . " Uh?
I mean, it's one thing if THC had covered all the interesting, exciting history the world has offered up since before written civilization and they had simply run out of things to do "The History of . . . ", but - trust me - no. Unh-uh. If you take out all of the channel's World War II programming (constant) and the multitudinous airings of Modern Marvels, you're left with very little indeed. Another chunk of the programs should technically be on The Science Channel/Discovery Channel - meteors, UFOs, tsunamis. Again, if THC had run out of true historical stuff to cover, then perhaps this stuff could be justified.
Even if THC does focus solely on military history (which it mostly does), could it maybe, once in a while, on occasion, look at World War I? Boer War? Boxer Rebellion? War of the Roses? (I could go on and on and on, regrettably.)
What about a look at early civilizations? There's enough blood and gore to keep the guys interested and a lot of information that could shed some light on how that stuff impacts us today (and where the Middle East is concerned - it most surely does).
Did the Renaissance or Reformation ever happen? Early Chinese dynasties? Anything ever happen in the history of the world in, say, South America? Africa? Did women ever exist in the history of the world? Guess we've just been sitting around on our asses all this time.
OK, that's it. I'm spent. Pass this along to the 12-year-olds in charge of programming at The History Channel. Now, go out and make some history of your own!
Maybe Jamie Lee started something . . .
I think Jamie Lee Curtis might've started the trend when she came out a couple of years ago in More au natural (shown here). Now, doesn't this look more like us?
Wish the moisturizer/hair color folks would get the message. Isn't it a riot how all those 24-year-olds on television have to smooth out their wrinkles and cover their grey?
Why doesn't the "future" look as cool as it used to?
The 21st century was supposed to look like the Jetsons - what happened?
I am sorely disappointed. Why, in 1961 I'd have sworn that by 2005 we'd've been swooping through the air to space-malls and my clothes would be cool spacey-licious. Um, no. Just look around.
Clothes, cars, buildings were more futuristic-looking in 1960 than they are today. We just look dumpy. Where are the designers? Where are the artists? I want my Jane Jetson-look, dammit, and I want it now! Get me off this crazy thing!
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Thinking of launching your own business?
Forget the hotel wake-up call
So, you give in, call the desk for a wake-up call, and pray it actually happens.
Well, my fellow travelers, according to this story on CNN, hotels have finally gotten the message that their alarm clock/radio/multi-disk player/bread slicers are just a little too complex to figure out at the end of a hard day. Simpler, user-friendly alarm clocks. Cock-a-doodle-doo!
Monday, August 15, 2005
More great news - Gossip is good for you!
Let's see, with all the guilt erased from fat thighs and gossip in one fell-swoop on a single day, I need to start work on researching the benefits of, say, absolutely no exercise whatsoever, Cheez-Whiz, and never taking the car in for servicing. Who wants to help? (Bet we could get a government grant . . .)
Menopause the Musical
Well, this is next on my to-do list. Everyone says it's a riot (here's a review). I mean, the title alone should get your foot tappin'. It's here in Atlanta until mid-September. Any word on it out there?
In fact, next time somebody asks me to do something, I'll just have to tell them that the situation is just too, too fraught with catastrophic expectations, though if they try me another day, I might be in the mood for a good catastrophe. Never give up!
Oh. Here's another good article "Learn to Say No, Save Time, Get Tasks Finished" if you need help in that area. (But it doesn't say anything about catastrophic expectations. You'll just have to expect those on your own, I guess.)
Good news for Monday morning - fat thighs not so bad
Well, mark that last one off your list - for now, anyway. University of Colorado researchers report that for most post-menopausal women, being "bottom-heavy" might be a good thing. Read about it here. (The down-side is that you still need to keep working on those sit-ups.)
Now, go out there and get 'em!
Sunday, August 14, 2005
Yesterday, daughter Kate and I were having lunch a local steakhouse. It's the second time we've been to this restaurant - great food but a bit of a service problem. Anyway, the waiter comes up, tell us his name (OK, they've been doing that for years), then asks our names. 'Scuse me? Why? Why ask our names? Now, this happened the first time we ate there, but we thought, well, must be a one-off. Oh, no. So (as the first time), we both ignored the question. It's none of the waiter's business what our names are.
Unh-uh - this guy was having none of it.
"No really, what are your names?" "Betty and Wilma." "No, you're making those up." Finally, poor Kate broke down and told him our names just to get him to shut up. Then this waiter proceeded to call us by our first names every time he came to the table (which was about every 13 seconds), constantly interrupting our conversation. To top it off, the manager came up and did the same thing, plus left his business card! His business card? What was that about?
Geez, all we wanted was a nice bit of red meat and a chance to catch up with each other. Guess we'll need to find another steakhouse. Ah, me. (Do people who meditate find these things irritating too, or are they able to just rise above it all?)
Saturday, August 13, 2005
A long time ago I took a yoga class with a friend. My daughter was about 4 years old, so I had to spring for a sitter. Well, it became apparent pretty quickly that I was not cut out for either yoga or meditation. Yoga - well, I found the positions screamingly funny and my laughter seemed to distract the rest of the class (sheesh!). Who thought those things up, anyway? And as for meditation. . . I'd try to clear my mind, but it kept drifting to things like "Did I remember to put that load of clothes in the dryer?" or "If I can be the first out of this class and out of the parking lot, I might have time to pick up a few groceries before relieving the baby-sitter." When we'd have to think of a meditation word, I usually chose something I needed to remember - "juice-box" or "laundry."
So I thought, well look, I'm a single mother, I have too much on my brain, I'll come back to this later. And every few years I give it a go, and you know what? Nope, still meditating on words like "deadline" or "brochure" or - even better - "chocolate muffin." Also, I find I can concentrate and repeat a word or phrase while the rest of my brain is off somewhere else figuring what color to paint the living room.
The untrained brain. That's what I have. It's either on full blast, or off completely (and I'm asleep). I've tried to find good information on the internet about bringing some meditation discipline to my head, but it all seems very sappy-licious. I'm looking for hilarious meditation. Laughter meditation. Chocolate muffin meditation. Is there anything like that out there, I wonder?
For now, I'm off trying to keep the weekend balance of chores/relaxation. I'll be meditating on "paint" (I'm painting the trim in a bedroom) or "Pam" (I need to remember to pick some up at the store). Cheers!
Friday, August 12, 2005
Enjoy the weekend, girls. You've earned it!
It's time to stop returning those business calls and emails, put your feet up, and let the week's work roll off your shoulders. For all of you teachers out there - crankin' the school year back up - I salute you, noble women! For everyone out there with fabulous and/or meaningful jobs you love - cheers! For the searchers - keep looking, it's out there somewhere.
Now, go play!
How are your career list-making skills?
Ok, I know I said I was drowning in lists yesterday (nothing's changed - still drowning), but I came across a terrific article in Business Week about career-changing that offers an excellent list-making exercise to help you sort out what you want to be when you grow up (which is what I'm trying to sort out right now, remember). Do read the whole article, but it comes down to this:
- List every job you've ever had, no matter how unimportant, and under each entry list three things you enjoyed about the job.
- Make a list of how you spend your discretionary income. This will point out what is important to you.
- List all the dreams and ambitions you had/have that have gotten sidetracked over the years because of the real world (mortgage, car, kid's college fund, etc.).
So, when I'm not painting this weekend (not the glamourous-artsy-kind, the room-trim-kind), I'll grab a gin-and-tonic and start my list. I suspect it will be very revealing!
Larger print - it's about time!
Frustrated with tiny type size but too vain/proud/embarrassed to head for the Large Print section of the bookstore? Seems publishers are taking notice that a huge segment of the book-buying public requires a bit of a change as it gets older, as reported today in the New York Times. They're experimenting with increasing the size of the standard mass paperback (the pocketbook-sized ones, not the larger trade paperbacks which are already easier on the eyes) - making them a bit taller and allowing for larger type-face and more line spacing. Voila! Much easier for people of "a certain age" to read, thank you very much.
Now, if they could just do something about the .01 font size in phone books . . .
Thursday, August 11, 2005
The Birth of Venus
Now, let's all go out to dinner with friends and chill.
Looking for something good to read?
The New York Times bestseller lists are helpful, if you've hit a brick wall.
The best books, however, are usually those recommended by friends. I've read a couple of duds over the summer, but some of the better reads (in addition to Dream of the Walled City mentioned in my first post) have been The Secret Life of Bees and Lunch at the Piccadilly (two good Southern stories), Forgotten Voices of the Great War and Tommy (good for WWI buffs), and of course Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (oh, come on - I love reading about those snarky teenage wizards). There's another terrific novel that takes place on the cusp of the reformation in Florence and centers on a strong female character, but I can't for the life of me remember the name of the book. I'll check it at home tonight and post it tomorrow.
I'm currently reading Edward Rutherfurd's Dublin that I picked up when I was in London in May (a UK edition) but have discovered that it's published in the US under the title The Princes of Ireland. It's the first in a two-part saga - lots of Celtic, Viking, St. Patrick, Brian Boru stuff going on. Rutherfurd likes sagas - Sarum and London were his others I've read.
By the way, for book reviews or whatever, I'll try my best to link to real reviews instead of those published by people trying to sell you something (Amazon, B&N, etc.). But sometimes that can't be helped. I'm not trying to sell anything, just trying to tell you about the book, so ignore the sales pitch.
Only 400 more pages to go in Dublin so I'll be on the look-out soon!
I used to be good at these two games...
So what happened? I find it very hard to keep my mind on one thing for more than a couple of minutes. It's not just a scatterbrain-thing - ideas keeping popping off like old camera flashbulbs, interrupting whatever task is at hand. I do take the time to jot down whatever I've thought of, but now I'm drowning in lists! Ah me, I'm becoming a believer in adult-A.D.D. - though a friend has reminded me that adult-A.D.D. is really just adult-getting-O.L.D.! Feel free to comment - what's on your mind?
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Want to add your comments or share ideas about great resources, books/movies/events, how to keep your head when those about you are losing theirs? Here's what you do:
- Click on "Comments" at the lower right of one of the posts.
- Type whatever you want to say in the block provided (don't worry about the HTML instructions unless you want to bold or italicize something).
- Under "Choose an identity," click Other and sign your name or make up a name or whatever makes you comfortable.
- Preview your post, if you want, then publish. I think you do have to register with Blogger.com, but you don't have to start your own blog or anything.
Do let me know if this seems too convoluted. It'll have to do, though, until I get the Shorty PJs website up and running. I hope to keep blogging, but also have a forum, which works better for these things, I think.
Don't Let Me See You Dancing on TV
Let me be brutal - this audience is not a pretty sight. They're too old to be caught in public (not to mention spread across national TV) doing these things - they're dressed like old people, they move like old people. It makes me sad to see 'em. And yes, I know I'm talkin' 'bout my generation, but it just sends a chill up my spine to see this kind of thing. I'm not advocating hiding under a rock once you reach a certain age - nobody likes to dance and party more than I do - just don't do it front of television cameras. Ye gods! Goodness knows, we have enough to humiliating things over which we have no control - no need to publicly humiliate a whole generation by choice.
I know. I'm so petty.
Oh - ran across a great article from The Wall Street Journal about changing careers that doesn't completely focus on people under 30. Of course the best ideas come from people who've managed to make a change. Several first-hand stories can be found in this article on the Third Age website. Feel free to comment and add suggestions.