Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Year's Eve Eve, Eve

Sometimes I think people get bummed out by "resolutions" because they think too big. I struggle with it myself. It doesn't sound very exciting to resolve to be a more reasonable drinker who saves her change and tries to plan one fun (for her! not just the existing social obligations) weekend each month. But, because I'm a simpleton, I really think this will make a better life for me!

Resolutions are by necessity boring. They are the framework. We might as well call them habits, and maybe that would remove the bitterness. Semantics. You don't have to make new habits at the new year, but it's such a nice division point. You'll have lots of support from other positive thinkers who are trying to make their lives better. There doesn't have to be a million resolutions. I like three.

See, in my little fantasy land, I've set up resolutions as the tiny, constant attempts to change. Each month I will set up a new mind, body, and / or soul experiment, just for fun. Whatever sticks, sticks. The hope is that these little changes will allow the big goals to happen, kind of like a rain barrel.

And the big goals are the garden. Things like travel and  love and dance performances grow there, nourished by the rain barrel.

This is a pretty flaky analogy, I know. Magical hippy talk. But I've tried the outlined, measurable goal with multiple steps and intense straining and that hasn't really worked for me. Sometimes you just have to let it come to you, in my experience. And then recognize it. For example, last year I participated in a belly dance trio that choreographed and performed (beautifully, I might proudly add) at the Greek Festival. I poo poo it because, well, it rained that night and the only people there were the other dancers and their families. But we still did it. It really happened. It was on my list of goals.

It's a lot like the Lissa Rankin Eggy / Spermy thing. I'm using this elaborate garden explanation, because I like that a lot of the "magic" of gardening is science but there's definitely some woo woo in there, too. I'm still struggling to explain it, but it's also like the garden of Eden. We are already in the "paradise" and then we exile ourselves. It's easy to get all blame-y (the snake did it! It's Eve's fault!) but it's also UNAVOIDABLE. You must leave the garden. And then try to get back in.

So here's to a 2013 with more dancing, and some good trips and all the love we can find. I'm going to try going to bed on time and eating fiber. It will all work together. And/Or you'll hear about it again next December.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

More images from a sunny day...

There's a deep MEANING behind EVERY one!

I call this one Hydrangea Down the Drain-gea. If you've ever grown hydrangeas, you know that it takes a weird balance of sun and shade and you still might not get blooms, and then you can never remember if you're supposed to add lime or that other stuff to turn the blooms different colors, or even if yours is the type that would do that in the first place, and then you're haunted by what you've just done to your soil, and you don't really have that kind of landscape in the first place.... But yeah, all that, and 3 months later one of your precious blooms is about to be swept into the storm sewer. It's true, there's nothing quite like a hydrangea flower. I hope to remember to feel lucky when my attempts work, and not make my silk purse into a sow's ear.

Something is always growing. I took like 4 pictures of mossy tree trunks. 2013 goal: plant a terrarium.

You can not swallow sunlight. You'll just have to let the sunlight swallow you.

Kids are still mean. This means the kids that were mean to you (stole your gym shirt, threw it in a tree) were more a part of a movement or some sort of horrible hormone swarm than possessing of an actual personal vendetta, and you should get over it.
It's all bigger than us, anyway. You can look up or down and find something bigger or smaller than you and your little problems. The secret is to know which way to look?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The world is dead. Long live the world.

The solstice has passed, I am on break from work for Christmas and it was sunny today. What does it all mean? It means that my mind has been unchained and I can assign significance to whatever I want to move forward.

The pre-solstice days were some of the most depressing I care to remember. It was so dark to me - I was worried about my health, my relationships, current events, hateful words, fear was everywhere. I had read an blog by Dr. Weil about how in-congruent it can feel to be pressured to celebrate! holiday! party! when traditionally, and naturally based on the light, the instinct is to draw inside, stay safe, it's the most dangerous time of the year. (I like to sing that in Bing Crosby voice, by the way. "It's the MOST. DANGER-OUS. TIME of the YEAR!") Plus all the silly Mayan calendar superstitions, schools cancelled for a "threat day", etc., seemed to indicate to me I was not the only having this dilemma.

So I wake up today, and there's shadows on the wall. Sun. The world did not end. The threats are all in our head. I "knew" this before, but it wasn't real until the sun shone. Maybe the world did end - if the world is all of our old fears and superstitions. I sure hope so.

It's hard to remember what I already knew, sometimes. So I wrote it down. This is just from August to present, based on my notebook ramblings!

1. I get to be happy, too.
2. I live here because of the community.
3. When I feel scared, I am scary. When I feel calm, I am calming.
4. They don't know any other way. Show them.
5. What kind of peacemaker is afraid of conflict?
6. My true love is poetry.
7. The economic story is not the whole story, nor necessarily a true story.
8. Fix it, if you can.
9. Trust the body, especially the gut.
10. Vote for yourself.

Ah yes, deep as a drinking glass am I. More reflections to come.... I still need to set my 2013 goals. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012


I have been feeling a little antagonistic lately. Maybe it's the season / weather mismatch, or maybe it's my own crappy health of late, or maybe you can just call me Grinchliz. Whatever it it is, the abrasions are only making me stronger.

For your consideration: Sometimes, I make jewelry. I should say, I am capable of stringing beads together. I do have the frequent problem where my skills and supplies do not meet my vision, but that's why it's craft and not art. I keep most of my favorite pieces for myself, and recently even experimented with the craft show experience. 

I made this necklace a few years ago. I had this hankering for coral, bought the beads online and realized shortly thereafter that bead sellers are no more moral than diamond sellers. I felt terrible about denuding a coral reef. But the damage had already been done, so I knew I needed to use the beads. 

I tried a couple of dangly necklace type designs. The problem was partially that the teeth ripped out of any being look kind of horrible. Just one tooth looked pathetic, and more than that, tribal. Which was not necessarily a bad thing, but....

So I wore the necklace in question to work the other day and observed reactions worthy of what I imagine the Man Repeller blogger receives on a daily basis. The insults just kept coming, even (or maybe especially?) when I pointed out that I had made it with my two little hands. Okay! I get it. Everyone likes pretty. Nobody likes to be challenged by a toothy necklace. But isn't that what fashion is, a little challenge? It was oddly empowering. Oh, you uptight, stale people who don't "get" my super awesome necklace. Your derision only makes me stronger. Pointless scarves, horrible pants - you can't stop me now.

I don't dress to please you, but to please me.

Or, vote for yourself.

Oh. I get it now. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Happiness Projectile

I just finished reading Gretchen Rubin's "The Happiness Project" because I love to read books that I could have written but didn't. Since I am not particularly original, at least I can steal some ideas, right?

The saddest part is that I actually kind of do that stuff anyway - pick a theme of improvement for the month, list three focuses, blog about it occasionally, worry that I sound self-absorbed. I did not, however, have an actual checklist. Checklists used to be my favorite thing at the library when I was 15. Shelf reading was the most boring task in the entire reference room (examining a shelf to confirm that it remained in Dewey Decimal order, and if not, re-arranging the books to match). However, some genius page had designed a checklist with nice big boxes for your initials. You could draw an entire picture in that box - and we did. We felt possessive of entire shelves of books because you could create a multi-box picture that way. Even though shelf reading made your average high school student want to stab themselves with a golf pencil, the checklist made it all worth it.

So, I'm modifying my own approach. I'm making my monthly foci actionable. I'm going to actually print and carry around the checklist. I'm going to take great joy in coloring it in. It's the perfect time - the first of December, before all the January flagellants appear and state pessimistically that resolutions never work and why make them?

For December, I picked Exercise, Loving gestures, and Meditation. I have recently been slacking on the exercise, and just calling my two dance classes sufficient. Which they are probably not. So, I'd like to add some walks, some dance practice, some stretches, and on a daily basis, so that it becomes a habit.

Loving gestures means, well, being nice to Richard. It's easy to take a spouse for granted. So far I bought him a burrito after a hard, long work day, and I didn't get all snappy when he called me repeatedly at work today about passwords for things that I don't have memorized. This is the hard one.

And this is the boring one, again. Meditation. But on a chart!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Big thoughts

It's darn near impossible to think big thoughts when you're using one finger on a tiny screen. But, I gotta try. Big thoughts are so much more embarrassing than the tiny ones. Stating that you want to end world war or reform mean people everywhere.. I don 't even have to finish the sentence for you to see what I mean.

But it really can't all be about me getting enough sleep and eating a balanced diet, or organizing the craft room. As usual, it neither and both. I think that sometimes, even though I can barely think about it without shame, I don't believe that one person can make a difference. There's always surroundings and supporters. I am probably a supporter, and that's fine because I need my sleep.

So I did have one breakthrough thought. I've been reading for years about trusting your gut and intuition. And yet I still can't trust my literal guts to pick out healthy food. So that's my holiday strategy. I am going to eat what I want (but no more). Pretty easy to do so far, since I came down with food poisoning 24 hours ago. I am stuffed with crackers, applesauce and Sprite. Fantastic.

I mean, it's kind of obvious that the meaning of life is love. We still have to figure out how to make it happen.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Tiny thoughts

Gratitude - I really miss my laptop and therefore the ability to write a sentence longer than this with punctuation. I miss commas. And dashes. Parentheses. Semicolon. Grateful for all your skills I'm organizing my words.

Meditation - it's coming along. Trying not to be too literal about it (must be in lotus position, om, etc.) is the hardest part. Perhaps I am defining it too loosely for some, but they can carry on their own way. This is mine. I count laying in bed and labeling thoughts, walking, space-outs followed by 3 or more deep breaths.

Nanowrimo - it's national novel writing month. You'll have to google it, because I am too lazy to figure out how to post a link from my phone. I tried in 2010, but without a burning desire and a way to type faster than this baloney, it would be insane to even try. So I am writing a poem a day instead. No, you won't have to read them, so relax. In my little notebook with a pen. Very fulfilling so far.

So yes, I have added to my daily guilt routine. Every day, I shower, work, eat, putter, meditate, scribble. That's the "whiz" I seek - a routine for happiness. I will just keep adjusting the straps until it's comfortable. It seems like there should be more, though.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

One arm behind my back

Or one finger on a phone screen. House burglarized. Laptop gone. Hard to blog. Condolences accepted, but I don't want to talk about "violated". I refuse to feel that. I am bummed, demoralized, annoyed and frustrated. But it's stuff, just that.  I can still write. I can still even upload pictures if I get the app. I can even write on a piece of paper with a pen. Life goes on.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Start over!

I had a birthday, so it's time to re-set, refresh, scribble on a new page, yes? But it's never quite as easy as it seems. There's still old luggage to handle. Change is not always good, just for the sake of changing things. I thinking the goal is more about subtle adjustment. The same, only more and better?

But how? I think the framework might be in a book that's been on my nightstand for weeks. (But which one? nyuck nyuck nyuck... But seriously, there a lot of books there. It's the legacy of being an English major.) Confession: I'm a self-help book addict. And we like to hear things that are familiar, but I think I'm picking the most boring goal to blog about ever. I'm going to try to do nothing.

It was recommended to my by a Martha Beck book called "The Joy Diet". I'm kind of a Martha Beck fan. She got one of the thank you notes from the last project. But I am thinking (agreeing!) that the key to getting outside yourself and being able to connect with things begins with the ability to be with yourself quietly first.

I guess you would call this meditation. But it is really boring to talk about. It's like announcing that you're going to start breathing or sweating (which I've got to do more of, too). And it's not like I haven't announced those things before. It just garners more interest because it's external activity. Stating that you're going internal to do nothing is pretty non-climatic.

Oh, what? you say sleepily. There was a dust mote floating. Yep, I'm going to watch that too.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

My 5th Chakra's sound is HAM.

As is yours. But because I am immature (think 12 year old boy....) I started to smile. Because I was totally thinking of pork products. So I'm now quite certain that's my favorite chakra - the throat, thyroid, and bacon connection is too much to ignore.

I was also musing about how there is no new information. Ever. I already knew everything I ever learned. And you're not learning anything new, either. We're just sort of remembering and forgetting the same things over and over. I can't even call myself Master of the Obvious - because I'm not the master!

I reached this enlightened state at a belly dance workshop this morning. I have affirmations now, keep myself protected. Or at least cured. Cured meat products. Salty, delicious..... bacon

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Coffee, Power and Agency

Can you make a pot of coffee? Do I have to do everything around here? And there I am, looking uncooperative, unlike a team player, over-educated, under-employed, unable to predict when random people with very specific coffee preferences will show up in the small kitchen behind my office.

In a snit, last week I started making hash marks in my to-do list every time I made a pot of coffee. It has averaged out to about once per day (although I made no coffee today, I have made as many as 4 pots in one day). The most ridiculous part is that I don't even drink THAT coffee. Yuban through a Bun-o-Matic = Me ban Barf-o-Matic. So we're not exactly talking about nectar of the gods here. It's office coffee.

I do wish I could be the perky secure type who selflessly makes a pot of coffee in anticipation for demand, with no regard for how that places her in the hierarchy. There's that ickiness about a MAN asking a WOMAN for coffee in a professional setting. But I worry about how that makes me look. What's next? I'm going to buy your socks for you? You've seen Nine to Five, yes?

But the main reason it seems icky is not the gender, it's the power imbalance. Making coffee as a female seems less degrading when you have "agency", as in the power to decide for whom and when you will make coffee. This is the argument that confuses so many about feminism. It's not that women need to choose to be either butch feminists or girly porn stars - it is the agency to choose or just fall in-between. I may or may not have that power right now.

My options are these:
1. Pretend I don't know how to make coffee. This may confuse them, because I have previously made coffee. But that's what the highest in power do - someone who went to medical school can't figure out how to make a pot of coffee? Balderdash.

2. Grudgingly make coffee, while pointing out that besides the actual physicians, I have the most education of anyone there. This seems kind of petty and unwise, and honestly, I don't think I could even pull it off.

3. Remain willing to make coffee, but appear too brilliantly distracted and busy to get to it. This is kind of what I've been doing, minus the "brilliant" and "busy" parts. This is honestly the closest to the truth.

4. Make coffee, but make it horribly (bitter, watery, full of grounds, whatever). Theoretically, I wouldn't get asked to make coffee very often after a while. This seems like a sitcom set-up waiting to backfire. For example, I brew the most horrible pot and then realize that I've forgotten my thyroid medication and need caffeine, which forces me to drink my own awful coffee. ha HA.

I guess I'm really picking between 3 and 4 (I really like 4! It's got legs, whatever that means!). And I do have the power and confidence to do what I want. I just must remember - never play coffee power games with anyone. Or you'll have rat poison instead of skinny and sweet.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Thank you, for the 43rd time.

I am turning 43 this year. It has occurred to me through all this introspection that being internally grateful is good for me. But others need to know that they matter too. I've also been ashamed to realize that the good manners I learned from my grandmothers have fallen away. Both were quite insistent that thank you notes were written for every gift.

So I was chatting with a co-worker, who was talking about birthday milestones ceremonies like bike-riding 150 miles for your 50th birthday, or 21 shots. In the mean time, I got a very lovely note in the mail from a friend who was moving out of town just to say how much she enjoyed our friendship. I was riding my bike (and I remember exactly where it happened) and the two ideas collided and made me laugh. Yes. The proverbial out loud laughing, on my bike. I took this as a sign it was a good idea.

Hence, 43 thank you notes. Not that there shouldn't be more. I'm hoping to write one a day until my birthday. (However, I am already behind 10 days! Oops.) This will be a true challenge for me. I am not good at expressing my own feelings, but prefer to lay thoughts out in robot logic or something. I am writing this note because it necessary in the social structure to thank you, etc. A note for almost no reason will be hard. I have considered asking recipients to write their own notes to pay it forward, if you will. But that seems artificial and demanding to me, too. I think I just have to put it out there. Gratitude should be free.

So here goes. Thank you for reading my goofy blog. Even though I know who approximately 7 of you might be, most of the page views are anonymous, and that is amazing to me. I will try to present well-written and thoughtful entries, because I really appreciate your consideration. Party on. Love, me. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Well, at least now I know why it bothers me.

There's something about self-improvement blogs that I can't stop loving, but sometimes there are methods that bother me. For example, an extreme diet and exercise plan would definitely work to reduce weight, but for how long? At what cost? It seems like a stupid, obvious way to avoid the hard work over the long term.

My speck of sand du jour: This blog by Chris Guillebeau. Full disclosure: I've only been following him for about 6 months. I haven't read the book. (Maybe I don't have to!)

His general proposal is that there a gatekeepers that can keep you from achieving your "dreams". In this blog entry, he states that "unnecessary" traffic lights are one of them, and you should just blow through them (after checking both ways, natch). "It's a great decision," he claims. I suppose he eventually brings it down to flexibility, and life is short, YOLO! whatever.

Horrifyingly, the comments are primarily supportive. You're right, Chris, how did I waste all my life sitting at stoplights until now? My time is valuable! Your safety - well, you should have thought of that before you got in the way of MY no-holds-barred success wagon. As an omnipotent non-conformist, I will ALWAYS be able to see any danger (to MYself or vehicle, naturally), so this is literally awesome, to mis-use all words.

Why am I so pissy about this? Well, because it bothers me that no one has addressed why there is a stoplight there in the first place. Believe it or not, there are standards for installing those things, and you can appeal to Department of Transportation to have them removed or installed. But yes, it's harder work than blowing through it at your convenience. You might have enlist the help of a congressman, get the residents to sign a petition, etc. But, if it's truly unnecessary, it would be a benefit to all, right?!

(Even then, it seems like that would be very rare to find a stoplight that needed to be removed. Slower traffic is better for communities, pedestrians, pets, bikes, etc., which are all things I would rather see around town than some ass-face in an Audi who thinks the laws don't apply to him/her. I can't think of ONE stoplight in my town that is not necessary. There are usually stop signs there. Are those unnecessary too?)

Or how about the valuable, valuable time that is wasted? Where do I have to be that I can't sit for 2 minutes and take a deep breath? I, personally, have no where that time-sensitive to be. I don't need to be in the operating room. I am not into NASCAR. I'm actually more anxious being early for appointments. I can't see how the "entrepreneurs" following this blog would need to race to their "start-up company" (aka, living room) to open more credit cards for frequent flyer miles or something.

If I totally stretch it into a very thin metaphor, I can follow it. Yes. Sometimes you are just doing things because it is society's expectation. You always have the option to consider whether these expectations further your goals or hold you back.

But I am Literal Liz. The metaphor bothers me. Apparently, I am not a non-conformist. If we are are talking about stoplights, I am not down with this. It reminds me of college, when I tried to convince my brother it was not punk to dress like a punk, and that it was, in fact, punker to look like a preppy dork and still be "punk". I still like this argument - it allows me to believe that I am the non-conformist that can't conform to the non-conformist hegemony.

Which is kind of true, in that I rejected that metaphor but accept the overall truth. Right? I'm still cool? PUNK!!!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

If you love pizza so much, why don't you marry it?

One of the advantages of being married to a dj is that I get to attend a lot of weddings I wouldn't ordinarily be invited to. (That, and killer guns from carrying all those crates of records and equipment, ha ha.) This allows me to muse upon the meaning of love, while people I don't know well go through the rapture of seeing their very best friends make touching public proclamations.

It's also a curse because I have a very antagonistic relationship with marriage itself. My own union has its issues (who knows what they're doing when they're 23 years old?), but I have convinced myself that it's like the Santa Bunny of relationships. There's no way that actual humans could recreate what has been promised to us. At first you stand there, in that frilly dress, and pretend that you've made an adult decision. But some time down the road you realize, I've assigned myself a lifetime roommate, and there's not much romance in that.

I put "believe in love" on the bucket list at one point. That might have been cynical. I think I believe in it, but I'm not sure what kind of love it is. People ramble on about marrying their best friend, and I've always argued that can't be the same person. Your best friend needs to have your back when your spouse is on the rampage. And vice versa, really.

As a woman, marriage takes away your individuality. In the social / family spheres, I am the wife of RB. It's only at work where my own achievements are relevant. I'm not even supposed to TALK to men whom I am not married to. And why would they want to talk to me? I can't offer sex, because I'm having a fidelity contest with this roommate I used to feel romantically about.

We were at at wedding this weekend. At one point in the evening, I had a discussion with an art professor about gay marriage. I've always said, yes, but why the hell do you want THAT institution? He was actually disappointed that gay culture couldn't think of a better way to arrange relationships, which made some sense, too.

So here's my proposal: why don't we marry our friends? Stand up, in public, with our fancy clothes on, and say, I promise to always be there for you? Cut the romance baloney out of it. Romance is for dancing or glancing. Set up household with whomever you please, using contracts. Leave your money to non-profits or the third caller with the right answer for the trivia question.

I'd go first, but I fear we're not ready. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

You've made a decision by not making a decision.

What I really discovered at the brief discussions with classmates last weekend (I avoided the cocktail-dressed standing around event, for the shorts-n-beer standing around event), is that although it seems everyone just wanted to get as far away from Hometown as much as I did, I did not make it. I don't know why this shocks me, but it does.

Yes, I know that comparing yourself to others is the definition of hell. But it is also the point of "class reunion", yes?

It really shouldn't be a shock. I was right there while it happened. And I'm going to generously estimate that 50% of those events where choices I actually made (as opposed to letting things abide), but it still ended up in the exact opposite of my desired result. I have always lived within 5 miles of the house I grew up in. I work across the street from the hospital where I was born. I went to the state university in town, twice.

Yet, I don't feel duped or unhappy. I love knowing all the houses in the neighborhood, and having the back story on so many stories. I feel like I belong here.

And it's not like everyone got away, either. There are quite a few that stayed in Hometown. One man, who described his desperation to get away after high school, basically moved to the mid-state equivalent of our Hometown and created a life he could have just as easily lived in our Hometown. I understand. I know how this could happen.

I just always pictured myself in a major city. But then I took none of the steps to get me there and now I would give up none of my prizes to do it in the present. It's time to let the dream die. Isn't it?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Master of the Obvious strikes again!

The Universe has a tractor and it's coming to tow us all away. But wait, we're already on board! We don't even have to do anything. The Universe is us!

(Do Dah Parade this year. I think this was the Nature Center's float.)

So, I thought I had this brilliant new idea. I would list out all the options for a problem, and then make a column for Truth and Love. I could then rank the options and pick the best option.

For example, Should I go to the Class Reunion?

Option 1: Do not go.
Truth: Sure!
Love: No. What if there's someone you want to see there?

Option 2: Go, but keep your guard up. Those bitches will cut ya!
Truth: No, probably not. They're 42 years old now, and presumably slightly more mature. 
Love: No.

Option 3: Go, and keep your expectations realistic.
Truth: Yes! 
Love: Yes!

Awesome, right? And even though my original point was going to be that had I just read a few more Buddha quotes on Pinterest I would have already known this, there IS something very powerful about writing it out. I honestly didn't know that it would be okay until I grasped for a lame example and wrote it out. It's going to be okay. The Universe is here. The Universe is us.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Truth will ___________

Ruin Your Life as You Know It: Well, let's hope so. I want to try it anyway. Because there's no rebirth without death, right? No assumptions without words. No cake without ice cream. Well, I guess there's cake without ice cream, but not without frosting? Or not a great cake, anyway.

Just Piss Everyone Off: Entirely possible. I used to believe this was the worst thing that could happen. Because then people might not like me, and that would have killed me. Having been slapped, and fired, and all of the other seemingly stupid things that have happened to me in the last 5 years may have prepared me for the possibility. There's only one way to find out!

Not Necessarily Be a Means to an End: Or, The Truth may not be the Truth. I think this is what irritated me for so long. Because somehow I thought The Truth was not down with social niceties, and I love social niceties. It's so nice to see you, etc. etc. Flirting, for the love of God. I still believe these things make life fun and the world spin.

But I eventually figured out the opposite of the Truth was not Bad or even Lies but Denial. And Denial is not doing me any favors. I also eventually realized the Voice I was rambling about at New Year's or so is actually the Truth! It was seriously a breakthrough in the clouds. OH! I get it.

But do I get it? Let's see. I know this is all very conceptual. But here goes. Let's apply a concept and see what happens. Let's tell ourselves the truth.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Heat Wave

When it was so hot, I moved very slowly. It made everything kind of dreamy, and I was dreaming of those who live in the hot temperatures all the time, and how it would be easier if my life were structured for heat. It's funny, right now I can't even remember why we were in such a panic. But you'd just be sitting there, warm, and realize I'm so sweaty and I can't cool down! And then you'd get that panic hot, the kind that I dream can kill you.

But it's over now, I keep telling myself. Is it? Now it is. Relax. Remember the lessons.

Lesson 1: It's okay to be hot. This is very obnoxious of me to state, because I generally have resources. I can go in the house (blinds were pulled, doors and windows closed until evening, because we don't have the luxury of central air). I can open the refrigerator and get a cool drink. I can drive somewhere in my car, maybe even drive to a place with air conditioning. Lots of resources.

Lesson 2: A hangover in extreme heat is quite awful. Lay off the sauce.

Lesson 3: You are afraid to be with yourself sometimes, and that's part of the heat panic. It's true. But I quit. I'm planning to make friends with myself. I can do things by myself, and I am good company. So far, I have gone to the bar by myself, and driven to the beach by myself. I need to assign myself some other tasks (like maybe start a home project by myself?) before I can call myself independent. If you think of any, please let me know. I'm quite serious.

Lesson 4: But the best part is still when the heat subsides and you're still standing.

Sadly, I did not sweat away any pounds. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Revolution revelations

I've just returned from Tribal Revolution with a new idol and attitude. I learned a lot. I loved a lot! I now mangle sentences and cliches just trying to relay how much I freaking loved it.

Lesson 1. I drove to Chicago (well, past Chicago) by myself for the first time since the early 00s. Now, we have the benefit of GPS, but I was proud of myself nonetheless. I do not want to get stuck in one place.

Idol 1: Rachel Brice Serpentine Scales was my first workshop. First of all, she's adorable and an amazing dancer. Is it fair that she's also hilarious and smart? No, but that's how the world works, sisters, so get up offa that wall. There were a lot of amazing concepts to absorb, from the 90 / 90 principle (practice something 90x a day for 90 days and it's yours forever) and the whole idea of playing your dancing "scales" on a regular basis, to her cool and unusual footwork and drills. Plus, yoga. I miss good yoga instruction. We even took a picture with her afterward! That's my sometimes dance collaborator and hotel roommate Michelle on the right. I am wearing my new beloved Girl Walk // All Day inspired scarf.

Next: Elizabeth Strong. She was teaching Upper Egyptian Fusion, which included geography, history, culture, and duh, dancing. I knew a lot of the dance moves from studying with Joette, but I am ashamed to say I did not know as much of the culture / history / geography as I should. Revelation 1:  it would be good to be a well-informed and articulate speaker, as well as dancer.

New Idol: Donna Mejia. Her class was called Le Funk Araby, which I was attracted to for the promise of new playlists. But there was so much more! It was kind of a hip hop / pop and lock dance style, which means I am quite thankful there were no mirrors in the conference center to reflect my clueless-ness. For example, see this:

There's a long intro, skip to 2:15. I wore my wow face during her entire performance. She stopped time and held it at 5:40. And then sped it up at 7:15. How can a human do this? She can't. She's a goddess.

So, 3 classes in one day was a lot of dancing.... The next day I only had 2 classes.

Idolatress Extraordinaire: Tempest. I've taken a workshop with her before. Heck, I may have already heard some of this before. But it's an excellent reminder. Revelation 2: We are dancing to tell a story. It's not about looking sexy. (Also, Revelation 3: very sage belly advice - that avoiding performance until your belly looks the way you think it should is really just avoiding performance.) We did an exercise where we improvised to music and then told the group what we were imagining. I was kind of annoyed that my brain went into Hollywood pitch mode, "Goddess surveys the destruction of war in Sarajevo, meets cute boy. Scene!" whereas others had more details, or at least said them out loud. But I realized that I had used a similar approach (at least in my own head) when I was choreographing with Julee and Michelle for our trio at the Greek Fest, and that made me feel better.

Then, the athletic workout of Asharah! Seriously, two hours of shimmying on releve'. Ouch. But awesome ouch. I thought I had lost my shimmy, thanks to running and the IT band. But no, you can use your glutes. Thank goodness, as I reputedly have lots of glutes.

There were two shows. Friday night we saw our local tribal school dance (Boheme), which  was cool, and Saturday was the big gala craziness where Donna Mejia removed my brains and scrambled them, Tempest charmed them, and then Rachel Brice messed with the time-space continuum again and everyone was really awesome actually until Unmata killed me with this (again, from Tribal Fest, so different stage and audience, same performance). It's long and loud.

I know there's a lot of links here. But I want to share! It's an awesome world out there.

Lesson 2: Keep in touch. I had meals with some new friends, and some old friends, and it felt natural. No need to stress. Give love, get love, platitudes can be right.

I am sure the next 51 weekends will not compare, so I want to remember these things. I want to practice them. Happy half-year and summer.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

I have come to kill your kittens, or why awesome is unsustainable.

So, our friend Kelly (she is your friend, too) found kittens in her garage. Adorable kittens with names. Another friend insisted that they must be killed before they reproduce and create a feral kitten colony in Kelly's garage.

And this is where is I leave the MUST! / have to /  everyone-knows ____  religion of high-achievement and being the best you can be. Really? Killed?

Because sometimes the best you can be is = meh. (Not that there is any evidence of that above!!!)

Confession: I'm not always following my spirit guide. I'm not even using my "whole ass" (as opposed to my "half-ass"?). I'm doing the best I can with tools that were available at the time. I am not impressed with this effort either, but sometimes I am surprised by how much more that is than what is frequently "brought to the table".

I guess I'm apologizing. I should have written a book by now. I should have cured some diseases (or at least successfully fought off CANCER FOREVER!!!!). I should have been traveling the whole time and being an enviable elegant classy lady. I should be making a million dollars a year, living with my SOUL MATE! and flying a helicopter or something.

But, I love kittens. Kittens deserve a chance. I understand that feral cats have miserable lives, will overtake the neighborhood, pee on everything. Fluffy tabby kittens. Feral mangy black cats. Is there nothing in between?

So there. I said it. I am not always on. I am not even trying. I just want to be on when it's important, which is nearly a random occurrence. So you try to be the best you can on a regular basis, but you can't always be awesome. And that's okay. You go, kittens. I'm on my way, too.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wednesday Stream of Consciousness

Venus in Transit. Where did you go? What will you bring us? Such greedy, selfish children. But hey, that's what you get. I hope you bring us love. (I have enough snow globes for now. )

I will try to bring you love, too. Open your heart, I'll make you love me.  It's not that hard, if you just turn the key.

For some stupid reason (two beers) I was just trying to explain to co-workers why the term "soul-mate" gets under my skin. It's a lot of pressure, is most of it. SOUL MATE. Seriously? My soul is a serious thing. It's heavy, and soaking wet. You can't lift it. I can barely stand to carry it around myself. And if I have met my mate, he's kind of mad at me right now for not dropping everything. 

So I'll just keep searching. Because love is everywhere, and that's okay. But you gotta keep your heart open. Because there's a little boy waiting for you finish your shift at the peep show. And then you can skip off into the dusk, away from that old man yelling Italian after you. This is a metaphor for ______________. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Navel Gazing. Literally.

It's almost Christmas for belly dancers of Kalamazoo (meaning, the Greek Festival is nigh) and I'm starting to fret about bellies. I realize this is ridiculous, but aren't all thoughts that cross the screen?

I wish I could love my belly like Princess Farhana. I'm not quite there. I remember talking with one of the more experienced dancers for an academic paper she was writing and revealing (ha!) that I had never shown my stomach in public as an adult. "Well, it's not required," she said, almost recoiling. And when I look around at my fellow dancers, I don't see any Sport Illustrated swimsuit models with airbrushed abs or anything. I just don't feel confident.

I only know one way to fix that, and it occurred to me today, it still might not work. As a woman, you always think if you can lose enough weight, you will be perfect. But that's not true. Number one, you can never be perfect, which is perfect in itself. And it's not about weight. Is it about love?

So, I have to learn to love my own belly. Damn. I'm still getting some self-tanner before the Greek Festival. Does anyone know what kind to get so I don't turn trying-not-to-be-Irish orange?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Fuck you, cancer

I try not to be angry about things, but this one really punched me in the neck. I'm not being flip - that's where my heart has moved, to my neck. It's a stupid place to keep a heart - the chest is much sturdier and well protected, but I have little control of where my emotions gather and constrict. 

And if you think about it, it's fitting. The neck controls breathing, speech, access between the brain and body. It's narrow. It's hard to hide aging there. Obviously, I am not speaking medically. 

I would like to make things fit together. I would like to be able to argue that it's not fair that good people die of cancer, or that cancer is sneaky and has a motive and intent. But it just is. There are no rules. That doesn't mean I can't raise a fist and shake it uselessly. 

Which is what I did. I thought, YEAH, NPR is finally playing some Beastie Boys bed music. Pump my fist, pull into the driveway. Whatever, middle age demographers, I'll take it. And then the newsy part where Adam Yauch has died of salivary parotid cancer at 47. 

And the unfairness starts now and musing about why the death of someone you don't know should matter. But it does matter, because he made music that I've enjoyed for half of my life. It matters because I'm 42. It matters because I've had cancer in my neck. It matters because we all have necks. 

Rest in peace. I really mean that. The rest of us will have to raise the ruckus. I'm not sure I have 25 years to see what happens. I'm not sure I ever did. Thanks for reminding me. Love.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Status post-status update

I love the word status. It sounds kind of medical, and military, and statistical all at the same time. I just thought I'd fill you in on some projects, before I start some new ones.

Walking toe-heel has fallen by the wayside. It is sad. I tried it for a minute while hustling down the mall to dinner the other night, and caught a glance in a store window, and I just looked uncertain and clueless. I'll try it some more. I still think it's a good idea to do on the way to dance, but I always forget on my rush to class.

And speaking of dance, I am performing tomorrow in a trio at a hafla. The good news is, I'm feeling pretty confident about the choreography / music choice. I would like to be a little more excited about the costuming, but it is a trio and the other two didn't seem as inspired as I was by the Balinese gamelan parts of the music we chose. If someone captures video, I'll post it. I don't know who will do that, however, because even Richard is not attending. I'll be performing to acquaintances and strangers.

The running has been going pretty well, despite the slight frustration of not being able to run today due to weather. (Yes, I know the weather of cold, rain, etc. is not real barrier, but why make it unpleasant when I can do it tomorrow it is also forecast to be cold and raining, but the forecast could be wrong?) The 5k I am running is next Sunday. I hope to finish feeling good. If they weren't so good at timing, I wouldn't even look at my time, but I feel it may be unavoidable.

And my oldest project of gratefulness is going pretty well, also. It really does help put things in perspective. Right now I'm loving the napping husband and cat in my living room, under the gorgeous quilt his aunt made.

So, if we end the story now, it has a happy end. Everyone coo. But I want more! So here we go again. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bucket of perfection

Weeks ago, Fashionably Late Sarah posted a blog about her bucket list (it was so long ago, it was about skiing). Oooh, ooh, I'ma gonna write one too, I commented.

Crickets. Because it's almost summer now. (Well, I exaggerate, because that's what I do.)

I have been doodling in my little Moleskine. So, it's not entirely fatal, but I've basically been stalling on stuff because it's not going to fall out of my mouth like a perfect molar. And it's driving me crazy.

In the mean time, I could have either 1) kicked the bucket, without any of these things ever happening, or 2) filled all the buckets, and have to start over again on my list. So I'm just going to spit it out.

Here is a random picture, so this blog doesn't look so boring:
Ha ha, Eccentric Day.

Bucket 1: Attend a black-tie event in a fancy dress. Technically, I have already done this. But I was 28 years old, wearing the cheapest plain black dress I could find, I had a terrible haircut, and it was for the opening of the public library. The pictures reveal that I was actually 58 at the time. I need a re-do.

Bucket 2: Sing opera. Why not? I know this is not a one of those one-day processes and then you can check it off the list. It's a career, based on a talent I probably don't possess. In fact, I probably should have started in high school. But maybe I won't be able to dance someday and I'll need a new hobby and then I can take voice lessons.

Bucket 3: Travel. On the short list: Beirut. Australia, in general. A Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg tour. Japan. Egypt. Switzerland. Turkey and Morocco. Spain. Venezuela. Portland, Oregon. I am renewing my passport next week, obviously.

Bucket 4: Ride a horse. Without screaming.

Bucket 5: See a cabaret show in Paris. Whatever is hot. It also means I get to go back to Paris, yay!

Bucket 6: Believe in love. I would say "again", but I don't think I ever did.

Bucket 7: A minor scandal. I'm probably already a little scandalous (the belly-dancing health care improvement coordinator, oh my!) but maybe a little something where, at the black-tie party for the Moulin Rouge, it is discovered that I rode a horse through the Netherlands with John Cusack in a showgirl headdress or something. I guess you guys could make something up for me.

Pretty shallow bucket list, eh? Well, you can drown in an inch of water. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Coney Island Hot Dogs. Don't they make you think of internal organs? No?

Since this is sometimes a blog about thyroid cancer, I will confess that my most recent check-up was really bothering me. I didn't realize it, of course, until it was too late. I scheduled this routine follow-up ultrasound appointment six months ago, put it on my calendar, and watched it approach. No big deal. This cancer almost never comes back.

But I somehow worked myself into a frenzy before the appointment. To add to the fun frenzy feeling, I was of course running late. And the car was in poor repair. Plus I'd just had a hard week at work (apparently I can't do "whatever I want", management approval is required. The golden girl has left the pedestal.). So, I was driving through Parchment, frantically looking for a sign that things would be all right.

And there was LITERALLY a sign. It said, "I love you. - God". One of those infernal, cheesy, horrible church signs that all the cool kids mock. Okay, I thought. That was ridiculous. (I don't believe in the Old Man in the Robe "God" anyway, but I'm cool with the "universe" or "everything is god" god.) There's got to be another sign.

The next sign said "Sunny Burns." Might have been an accountant or lawyer. I'm not exactly certain I read it correctly, but it made me laugh anyway. Because Sunny Burns and Sandy Bottoms are the denizens of the beach. The beach where I've had the best times with friends. My friends that I love.

So, I made it to the appointment, rolling on love. The doctor declared my lymph nodes "beautiful", then apologized for getting so excited. (They were pretty cool looking on the ultrasound, but they didn't really look like hot dogs. I just like that picture.) I walked out into the unseasonably beautiful spring day and tried to relax. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What I Have Learned by Baking Bread

Lesson 1. I suck at baking bread.
But being an optimist, I always think it's because I haven't tried very hard enough. So I tried it again Monday night. Dough looked good (why didn't I go to Mark Bittman first?), I had new fresh yeast on hand, and it was actually growing. But then, things slowed down. My generous schedule got tighter, in that daylight savings time was making me sleepy, but I needed MORE second-rising yeast action before I could bake it, and then 40 minutes for baking. So I went to bed, and baked it when I woke up. Hot buttered bread for breakfast! Which didn't suck, when I think about it.

(It was so nice, I braved a run-in with a huge spider on the bread knife this morning. Well, I waited until he went to investigate a different knife in the block. Then I snatched my serrated knife, which actually wasn't the  bread knife but would have to do, and got my slice for the toaster. Realizing that the knife block was right next to the coffee maker was my next problem... but the spider was really into a paring knife by that point.)

Lesson 2. Some things should be left to the professionals.
The bread that I bought Friday from the Victorian Bakery was just dandy. Said bakery is, what, 4 blocks away? Why am I doing this to myself?

It started with the Sarkozy Bakery fire. We probably stuffed an oatmeal loaf a week in our collective craws, if not two loaves. It was simple, delicious bread and it was no longer available. How hard could it be? I am handy, crafty, smart. I have cookbooks. I CAN FOLLOW DIRECTIONS! which is pretty much the theory of my life.

But as you could probably surmise, I was lacking time. I don't have the simple farm girl schedule. Bread baking is a time-sucking old-world housewife drag. Bread machines seem like yuppie cop-out techniques. Walk to the bakery, or stop on the way home. It's the easiest way.

Lesson 3. Carbs! I am delusional.
The most ridiculous part of this, I don't even really eat bread (in my mind). Nope, I never eat bread. Except for the occasional slice of toast for breakfast. And grilled cheese sandwiches. And freshly baked bread. So, in an effort to replace a food item I don't actually eat, I quadrupled my bread consumption.

You're right. I've actually learned nothing. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

How to waste 24 hours in 24 hours.

Richard was gone for the night. I had 24 hours. Here's how I wasted it in photographs. Bad, point and shoot photographs. Read on if you'd like to waste 2-4 minutes.

Saturday afternoon. One-day sale. Well, that must mean the deals are EXTRA great, right? So, yes, I went to the mall. But I only entered Macy's. I was hunting for bread pans, actually, but first I tried on every clearance dress or top in my size. Depressing, then ridiculous, kind of hot and sweaty. No sale. I then checked out shoes (see below). Loaf pans were very non-climactic at that point. Also no sale. I stopped at the grocery store on my way home to get the rest of the bread ingredients, plus dinner. Roses for myself.
I grilled my coffee shop sandwich at home, had some computer time.
Played with the cat.
Finally got a text that included an invitation for the evening. 
Off to visit Scott and Sara. Cats were explained.  
Hats were put on cats.  

Then, we went to the bar and tried hats on people.  

Morning view. It's Sunday now. 

Time to work on the bread. 
Yes, it looks doughy and small now, but just wait! This should double in size and make a delicious fluffy oatmeal bread. 

Any time now.....
12 hours later... I gave up and baked it. 

It's an oatmeal brick. It tastes a little doughy (surprise!) and alcoholic. It's very solid and full of fiber, though. No empty calories here. 

I do wish I had wasted my 24 hours a little more productively. (You are missing the photos of a craft project and some attempts at choreography. You should feel very lucky.) But I don't really have regrets. Puttering and socializing are my two favorite hobbies.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Why I Am Always Right

Mostly because you've convinced me. Or I've convinced myself that you've convinced me. But I'm trying to avoid living in cognitive dissonance any longer. Than necessary. Yes, more weasel words. Because I also know that I will fail.

But the goal is to try again, yes? Yes.

For example, I got sucked into one of those horrible female marketing pyramid schemes that are prevalent in the workplace for women's products. (I don't mean to sound so gender specific, but I don't believe that they sell, say, tools this way. Just jewelry, candles, "home decor", etc.) I thought I knew what I was getting into, wanted to be "supportive" to a co-worker in what seemed like a harmless way, so she could have her spot on the pyramid. Yes, I know it was going to cost me some money. But I like jewelry, right?

In the end, I'm disgusted and embarrassed and willing to say it public so I don't do it again. I don't need any jewelry. This jewelry, in fact, sucks. I could get the same thing at, say, Steinmart, for much less money. In addition, I had blacked out the "Christian-based" background of this particular company, so I had to sit through some very annoying use of the word "blessed". AND THEN I hung around eating crackers for too long, so I also got to hear the "mother" sales figure inform the "daughter" sales figure that she never emphasizes the fact that the more money the customer spends, the more they can send to "mission". So yes, I just bought some ugly cheap jewelry I don't need to support Christian missionaries I don't support in theory.

I state this in public because I know that at least one more co-worker will have a "party". I must stay strong! I would like to be nice about it, but I'm no longer convinced. I would love to try on jewelry at a friend's house. But it should be nice jewelry. There should be no incentive to purchase more, or host further parties. The transaction should end when everyone feels satisfied.

And here is where I give away an idea: what if I hosted a jewelry party (or you, because ideas of free)?Gather all of your jewelry making friends and offer them a table at your house for an evening to display the sparkles. Then, invite all of your other friends to shop from them. Make some snacks. Ask each jeweler to leave a piece for the hostess. All other business is between the jeweler and the customer. There's no presentation. Snacks and wine flow freely. Everyone feels like they went to an actual party, and not a sales presentation. Wouldn't that be better?

Anyway, at least I discovered the You Are Not So Smart blog (linked in the first paragraph on the "convinced"). So I know I'm not crazy. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

How to run if you're an adult with exercise issues

Put one foot in front of the other. Repeat. Faster.

Just kidding. There's only slightly more to it, though. I feel like it's a good writing subject because it's really in your mind.

And just now, I realized I still worry about whether I am allowed to call myself a runner. I run low mileage, very slowly. Does that count? I think it counts as long as I continue to run very slowly for less than an hour at least once a month.

So here's how it started: I ran until I couldn't anymore. Sadly, this sometimes was only for a block or less. I then walked until I felt like I could run some more. Even more sadly, I spent all my walking time telling myself what a loser I was for not being able to run. Although this was not exactly ideal, it was at least getting my ass out the door. The iPod was crucial. A dead iPod battery canceled the run. This period was five years. No, I am not joking.

But I began to run for longer periods of time. So when the opportunity came to sign up for the "run camp" came around, I did my usual, "Sure! I have no idea what I'm signing up for, but otherwise I'll never do it" response. And as I have written previously, it served its purpose.

The positive running is working so much better for me. I ran yesterday, with the phrase, "I draw from resources within" as the theme, and despite the snow and 17 degrees, it was a wonderful, sunny two miles with excellent tunes. I am running two days a week, alternating between 3 mile and 2 mile runs. If I am feeling ambitious, I might add a long day in there, like a 4 or 5 mile run. But that's it. I'm not looking to destroy my knees, a race, a time, or anything else. I want to be able to do this, but not to the extinction of anything else I am doing.

So that's how to run. You're not a super athlete. Take it easy on yourself. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Fluffy kittens!

I figured I'd better post something cute, since I just poked the bee's nest on facebook. Mr. Awesome in the window, awwwww! Look how cute!

But really, I didn't do anything all that horrible. I need to simmer down. It really is okay for me to have an opinion. I'm just uncomfortable because I usually keep them under wraps. (I was just joking to Richard yesterday that no one knows when I disapprove of their decisions. It's a secret. Heck, sometimes I don't even know until I think about it.)

I guess that's why people are generally afraid or dismissive of those who post online (anywhere, really). How dare we say things that are not agreeable to all? I suppose it's no shock to those 563 "friends" that I have opinions. And I'm not really ashamed to say out loud that I don't see what the problem with stem cell research could be. Those embryos are a collection of cells, not humans. There. I said it. Flame me. 

But it's been 41 minutes and nothing bad has happened. Perhaps nothing bad will ever happen. Maybe something good might happen, or someone will look at an issue from another perspective. I don't want to explore the most quoted opinion analogy (you know, like assholes, blah blah blah) because I don't really like to think about that kind of stuff. Maybe they're more like hammers, or coffee tables (I like coffee! I like tables!). Everyone has got a hammer. Don't bonk people over the head with them, but nails are good to go. Not quite as catchy, but therefore not a cliche?

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Because I suffer from A.D.H.D. (Attention Deficit Hobby Disorder), this blog also has a problem (Attention Deficit Blog Disorder). I see the focus, but can anyone else?

I think the focus is that lots of things are interesting. In theory, ALL things are interesting if you pay attention to them. Attention and interest are almost the same thing, yes?

So, in that interest, allow me to update you on a few developments.

Positive Running: I ran a 5k yesterday, in the snow, through a Christmas tree farm and the rail trail. I tried to take a picture from my phone, but I had filled the memory card, and I was supposed to be running. The affirmation was "I am so lucky to be able to do this. What a beautiful day!". Or, between pants, "So lucky! Beautiful day!" I have no idea what my time was, and that's just fine. In fact, it might actually be the way to run.

Walk this Way: While running, I found my experiments in walking to be extra useful! The trail was "groomed" with snowmobiles, but this still left some deep snow areas. I found that by landing on my toe I could bound through these areas much easier. At work, I've softened my approach also. Heel-toe does work better for flats, but toe-heel is great in heels, and makes less of a racket. I would like to build a better habit of walking to dance class (which would theoretically make my walking during dance class toe-heel also), so that's the next experiment. (Related: Joette says we should get SALSA HEELS for the Greek Festival dance performance!!!) Click to Zoom

Keeping on: I actually feel pretty good about my goals this year so far. I have figured out I need at minimum $2,000 to go on the trip I may want this year, which would mean saving $166 a month. I have been running, and I found a sneaky way to make it fun. I've been blogging as scheduled. I did a few home projects that made me happy. And it was not a struggle. It was FUN!

But we're only 30 days in. So hang tough. Hang loose. Hang out. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Positive running

I had one of those crazy shower thoughts that seems brilliant while you're wet, and still makes sense later too. I would like to live my life believing that the ideas that make you smile and feel fizzy are the good ones. So I'm going for it.

I have done the local "Run Camp" program for the last two winters. You meet with a group of people (there are hundreds signed up) who run your same pace every Saturday, get a little education session, and go for a run. They give you a training program, support, snacks, leader, etc. The first year I was super-literal (surprise!) about the program, but was probably assigned to a group that ran too fast for me (but I was assigned! they were MY group!). I felt the healthiest I'd ever felt, and yet, the whole program ended with me having my thyroid removed for tumors. (It was certainly not a cause and effect situation, but it was a bit defeating.)

The second year I was better matched with a group, but I'd lost that literal feeling, so I didn't do as well. I basically found that I said horrible things to myself as I ran. Although the running was getting "done", my ego was freaking out and fighting with that other person(???) and the other insisted that I walk when overly winded, or bored, or whatever. The reward for not quitting was NOT being the last one in, which wasn't necessarily within my control, depending on whether the woman with the knee injury had showed up that particular morning. (Also, SATURDAY morning. So unkind.)

So I'd decided not to do it this year, and I felt good about that decision. I was still going to run (and probably even run the race that the camp was training them all to run), but I wasn't going to torture myself again.

But running is magic! It's the way to self-actualization! If you are a runner, you are the epitome of health and devotion and zen. I knew there had to be a better way.

My better way is this. I call it Positive Running.

1. Follow the plan, but chant an affirmation. You don't have to literally chant, but I want to have a positive thought in mind. Today's alternated between "It's fun to run!" and "I run to take care of my body."

2. Rewards. I am (pathetically) motivated by pretty nails and extra internet time. In the longer term, I can get books for my e-reader. In the longest term, I will get some fancy-ass John Fluevog shoes. And that's the whole plan. It seemed more detailed in the shower.....

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

one day service

I like to read it like it's a promise - one day, Service. It's one of the sights that made me instantly happy. This neon had been dark for so long.

It's also the last picture I've uploaded. September 2011. I have more on my camera (the afore-mentioned NOLA pics, some bands, etc.) I love to take pictures. I'm not sure what the blockage is all about.

ONE day service. Maybe that's the approach. It's just one day. Take some pictures, share them. Do it again some other day. One.

Or maybe this is a picture about Paris. Get your ducks in a row, lady duck, and fly to Paris. (It's funny how the ducks came in there - this cleaner is near the creek, where the geese and ducks like to land / gather / fish.) You know you want to go back.

All of these things together make it the picture of motivation. Service, One, Paris, that fluorescent light on inside, the dusky sky, pulling the car into the parking lot and taking this picture spontaneously. That is what I would like to remember. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Black and white

I know it's best not to get into these things, but I did it anyway. I got in the facebook comment argument with an old high school friend and total strangers, about an issue that I don't really care about, to illustrate a principle. Which, when I think about it, makes it a total circular argument, since the crappy "informational graphic" that started the whole thing was probably more about principle than fact relay.

For being such a "literal" thinker, I don't have the black and white vision. I can always see it both ways and I always like the freakonomics angle better. I have a tendency to argue that the weather really isn't that horrible, that it was actually quite sunny, even though it was bitter cold. Is this optimism or just to be "contrary", as my parents used to call it? I don't know. 

And I suppose the reason I got all worked about a facebook post was because of logical fallacy (again. See the post about Gender Blender, which turned out to be the fallacy of false dichotomy). It was that one about the "Salary for Life" of various government positions. Number one, the salary figures were incorrect. And the call to action was about "where the cuts should be made". So, I guess we have the argument from fallacy (since the argument is false, the conclusion MUST be false).

But really, I think they just haven't thought all the grey areas. So how would one compensate a public official? If you paid them less, would they still need to relocate to the Washington area? Or would you only attract independently wealthy candidates? (One could argue we are already doing that based on campaign finance requirements.) Wouldn't paying them for life keep them out of lobbyist field, which would seem like a good thing? 

So that's what I did with my Sunday night. I threw it away thinking about gluten-free diets and logical fallacies. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I love Jimmy Carter.

Don't all belly dancing health care performance improvement coordinators recovered from thyroid cancer? I mean, I can't think of one that does not. And I don't want to know how anyone could not.

I have always loved Jimmy Carter. I remember very angrily pointing out (as a 10 year old) that Ronald Reagan did NOTHING to get those hostages released, because he'd only been president for like, 2 minutes. Jimmy Carter had a daughter who my around my age. He wore cardigans (I WEAR CARDIGANS NOW!). We have so much in common.

Every now and then (or at minimum, every Sunday and Wednesday as I blog), I wonder what is the purpose of my life. I try and figure out how Jimmy Carter works into that. For a while, I thought it might be Habitat for Humanity. I've always wanted to learn some of those handy skills.

Then I thought just meeting him would be enough. But why would he meet me? What would I say?

On the way home tonight, I started thinking about public speaking and democracy. I am just as reluctant to perform a public speech as any other mumbler with a terrible accent. (But Jimmy Carter has an accent too!) I've also ruled out public service an any elected capacity based on my background. But election monitoring is the coolest thing ever. Somehow, speaking and election monitoring go together in my crazy brain. And for once, I'm putting it out there instead of mulling it over in my head forever until it gets all muddled. What do you think? Is this my future, going on and on about election monitoring at public drinking establishments? Or is there more to it than that?

Sunday, January 8, 2012


I just finished hemming the curtains for the big living room makeover. What's next?

The funny part is, I don't think anyone who has ever been here would even notice the difference. It's kind of like how no one ever notices the pink walls, or when they turned pink. The furniture is in the exact same constellation. The couch is still bright green. There's still a tall lamp in the window, two smaller vintage lamps (that Richard almost gave away to Goodwill!!!) on the same side tables.


This is amazing because the former rug we bought on our honeymoon 18 years ago. It has been in the center of every seating arrangement we have ever had (which would be all of two, by the way). The corner was getting a little chewed up, though. We freely allowed Mr. Awesome to go to claw-town on whenever he desired, in case destruction could entice us to update. We'd been looking at rugs for a while, but nothing was affordable / desirable.

I saw some nice, reasonably-priced rugs at our lovely Marshall's and pointed it out to Richard. He finally moseyed over to look at them this week. We found a Oriental-style rug (although it was more than the other rugs, but not as much as the rugs we had liked in the past) and brought it home.

It looked great with the couch. But then the curtains didn't look right anymore. Too busy. So we went to Ikea (which is kind of a road trip and anxiety attack / divorce trigger in our reality, but we survived) and got some new curtains.

It is quite lovely. I want to see it in the afternoon light (it's nighttime now). I want to take an afternoon nap. I want to have some people over.

And I want to do more. Is there a way to change myself like this? Leave the furniture, and just replace the other bits? If I were to buy a new "rug" for myself (let's say, a new top), what would it be? Some kind of flowy, hippy top? Or more structured?

Answer the question, then shop, I guess. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Gender blender

(Schmender.) I've been thinking about gender issues today. Linsdsey posted this video on her facebook page. I'd seen it before, and it did bother me for about a minute at the time, but I got over it (which I will explain shortly):

1. These are young, inexperienced people. Do you know what an idiot I was when I was 20? I try not to think about it. Ever. Shudder. But I remember enough to know these people are temporarily insane.

2. I consider ALL of my friends, male and female, smart, funny, and attractive for one reason or another. I also would only consider sexual partners of the same description. Am I plotting to "trick" everyone into bed? Apparently.

3. Upon further consideration, that is most definitely could possibly be true. I have made major education, career, and, in fact, predictions for the coming new year based on interactions with men, whom I may have found quite attractive. So stone me. I'm a whore.

This would all be hilarious, except that modern American society will take me literally. Despite the fact I've been married for 18 years, once been given the nickname "Vanilla Square" (because I'm the imaginary stripper that would be all BA DA BA DA BABA but then be too shy to whip my top off and therefore runs off the stage), and otherwise reputable member of society, I'm subject to slut-shaming, misogyny, and judgement. Just for being a woman.

It pisses me off that I even have to think about being a "reputable" member of society. My mother and my grandmother were very worried about reputation. It sometimes amuses me to think of the horror they would feel if they were alive now about my Middle Eastern dance obsession. (See? It's making me use fancy terms for belly dance.) Why can't I just do things that are loving, moral, and make me happy?

So, foolish young adults, you are correct. Men and women can't be "friends". Especially if "friends" means something like "coffee table" or "inert material" to you. Friends interact and touch and sway back and forth. It's kind of sexy, but it doesn't need to be SEX.