Sunday, September 28, 2008
I mention this because just a moment ago, I actually back-paged from Blogger home to revisit the vast field of sunflowers against a perfect cerulean sky, set off by a lone scrub tree, that was my exit ramp off MSN. Part of the impulse has to do with the New York Times Book Review, where I was just reading about "Hurry Down Sunshine," a new memoir of a family's struggle with manic depression. Something about all those wildly optimistic sunflowers caught at the previous mental image of a 15-year-old girl hospitalized for manic psychosis, and the association made me want to examine the scene more closely -- the landscape illuminated as if a supernova had just been touched off somewhere over the photographer's shoulder. Yikes. Too perfect. I started looking for telltale pattern repeats in the flowery field that let you know they've been copying and pasting big chunks of the visual to add to the numerical vastness of the image. And if you know the symbolic history of the sunflower at all, you're familiar with the madness of Van Gogh as well -- oops, maybe those rotten weeds are contagious and just looking at too many of them at once will send you over the edge. Maybe it's best not to try to leave MSN at all. "Don't go out there," warn the sunflowers. "It's an ugly world, full of sensationalized violence and unexpected porn websites. Stay here...where it's pretty...check your inbox again, even though it's past 3am and nobody you know is awake..."
Which reminds me. I have to be up in 4 1/2 hours. Crap.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Man I'm tired.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
We hit kind of bad-food-low in the early summer this year (Banquet fried chicken, too much French bread and fancy cheese, liberal dessert consumption, and MCDONALDS for Pete's sake), and can feel good about increasing the amount of Healthy Stuff being consumed by our kid. Though I'm still worried he's not getting enough greens. He has a decidedly unhealthy affection for hot dogs and breakfast sausages (last week he appeared in the kitchen at an odd time of day with an empty snack bowl, and announced "Guys, I think I need some sausages.") Tonight he snacked on carrots and cheddar cheese chunks, decided he wasn't hungry at dinner time, then ate nearly a bowl of plain popcorn on his own before bed. He drinks lots of milk too (1%). But we have to visit the dentist for the first time next month, and I'm sort of dreading the outcome. Thank goodness he likes his vitamins.
I've really got to ease up on the coffee, though. Coffee-dependency has skyrocketed since I started the diet. *sigh*
Friends and Family: My best friend has lost her job AND will soon lose her apartment, this having officially been declared the Worst Year of Her Life. We're working on plans to get things back on track, and if any of you pray, please consider the plight of a single girl in this economy -- and let me know if a good job in medical administration or office management or catering pops up out there. Another good friend and co-worker is undergoing extensive tests to determine the cause of sudden unexplained weight loss over the past year -- more cause to pray, plus her boyfriend is in danger of losing a leg due to diabetes and a bad bone break last winter, Lordy. (Meanwhile her 18 year old daughter is expecting her first child in November.) My mom has been diagnosed with diabetes, the kind they can medicate with pills thankfully but the lifestyle changes she needs to make are daunting to a woman her age. My mom-in-law is still recovering from multiple strokes, and seems to be doing well, though she can't drive yet and she's cursing her doctors something fierce. Please pray for these folks, as I love them, and keep my husband and son in your good thoughts as well. (We're doing alright, but it's an uncertain world we live in.)
Politics: Sadly, there's no YouTube upload yet of Ben Stein's comments on CBS Sunday Morning today. Stein, who I don't always care for, takes to the task the blatant greed on our dergulated and lawless Wall Street -- "We've come to the brink of apocolypse this week" says Stein, and while the fed has to bail them all out, we'll be paying for this into third generations -- and those bastards on Wall Street still walk away rich. Stein had lightning bolts shooting out of his eyes, wish you'd seen it. "Big Business needs to be overseen by a Big Government," said a famous Republican once upon a time. Doing well in spite of all this, are you? Still think you're in it but not of it? Think again before you vote, all you nice people out there. Pray for the innocent victims of the tide of economic marginalization.
Something else to meditate on while you're at it: What would you look for in a church, assuming you wanted one?
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Boogers = normal. Snot = normal. Other bodily fluids = natural. Their appearance when childrearing = common.
Not everyone should have kids, and more power to those who don't want them and don't have them (thank God, because who needs more indifferently-raised kids on the streets.) But if you do, then you have to be ready for the puke and the poop and the snot and the fact that all of these substances will wind up on your hands or your clothes at some point. And that is that.
It's a kind of baptism, really, the first time your kid comes to you all teary-eyed, and when you ask him what's wrong he barfs all over you. Because he doesn't understand what he's feeling, he's never done this before, and he doesn't realize what's going to happen next -- he just doesn't get it, poor scared thing, and the fact that he's just done it all over the place only makes it worse. Pre-language kids are still quite easily embarrassed, and when they get to be four or so it only gets worse, you have to feel sorry for them.
Or at least, I have to feel sorry for mine. He tries so hard to keep it together, but some new trial awaits at every turn -- being awakened by your own snoring for example. AAH! Or in the case of little boys, the unruly (ahem) apparatus that starts doing its own thing at odd times -- and learning about Privacy, learning that some things aren't Bad but they are Private and should therefore not be explained to all the world at any given point in time. Or, boogers. Lots of people are squikked out by boogers, so you have to be subtle in your efforts to get rid of them. And wash your hands after. Lordy.
Anyway. I have pretty high tolerance for the bodily gunk, lucky me. And if you don't have kids, but think you might some day, you'd better be prepared.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Some people whom I thought sure would remember did not; some friends (old and new) from whom I expected nothing turned out to be my biggest well-wishers. My best pal got fired from her job today, though, and didn't feel like celebrating tonight for obvious reasons -- I missed her, though I was able to stop by her home and spend a little time there. While my husband sort of fluffed the date this morning, he and my son gave me a lovely reception this evening, and I really enjoyed their company. My son and I baked brownies, my husband cooked for me from my book of diet recipes, and the two had worked together on a card for me. C.L. took me to lunch and let me choose three pair of earrings from a number of her own creations, meaningful gifts. At the same time, it was a busy day for the food shelf at work. Other people's troubles were pronounced today. I could be thankful for the relative calm of my own household. I bent my diet out of whack, but I'd told myself not to go overboard with self-denial today. I don't feel all grumpy about a few folks forgetting the date. (I am not always so hot at remembering the birthdays of others, as some of you know.) I got a bit of exercise on my bike, and in all, there was a lot to be thankful for.
In twenty minutes it will be done, this day. There's a lot yet to accomplish this week.
40...my 29-year-old piano teacher acted surprised by the number, and I'm vain enough to appreciate that. But there again -- her father was just diagnosed with prostate cancer. He faces surgery soon, and we hope he comes through well -- he's only 60.
Ron's mom, still recovering from her strokes, called to apologize for not getting my card in the mail on time -- a first for her. She still sounds a little drunk when she speaks, and she tires easily. This is her second serious health event in ten years, and she in her mid-sixties --
in all, it's been a day to reflect.
12 more minutes...
Sunday, September 14, 2008
He was restless, fighting the urge to nap and frustrated by the interminable football game on TV, so I took him for a walk. At my encouragement he dug a galosh from the coat closet, then stalled when its partner didn't appear. I'm encouraging him to be more persistent; to try, rather than asking his parents to do for him. But I wound up extracting the elusive galosh myself. He likes the rain, and takes great joy in puddle-jumping and ducking while wet branches shower fat drops on his head. We were disappointed at the lack of earthworms (too cold), but the five block stroll was very enjoyable, and it soaked up some time on an otherwise dreary afternoon.
And now Dean is phoning to report on the last day of "Rabbi," and as his "producer" I will take this call. More later.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
I'm glad my sister is up in DFW, a shipping destination for refugees from Galveston; and Rice is in Midland, also well inland (as you may have surmised by its name. Scroll down for the even more descriptive town titles, like Old Dime Box.)
It's totally fucking late. I said goodnight to my last email pal over an hour ago, and then made the mistake of having a snack and reading the Times for a while -- now I'm depressed and re-energized all at once. But the hurricane news is always big this time of year, and this decade, and the Times carries lots of it. Think for example about the guys who work offshore drilling rigs in the Gulf. There are over 700 platforms out there, and they're only evacuating 400 of them. Because the others have been reinforced and rebuilt since Katrina. Can you imagine squatting on an oil rig in the middle of the Gulf under sustained winds of 131 miles per hour or greater? Now obviously these guys are not literally outside, lashed to the deck or something. But still. I'd feel like that man and his son who floated in the ocean off Florida for more than 24 hours, treading water and waiting for sharks. Stranded out there on your (by comparison) teeny tiny lonesome, waiting for a monster with 150-foot waves to come and crush your oil rig like an aluminum can; like a bunch of sailors in a busted sub. Shitty.
Not that it's any more fun to be a drowning Haitian. Or even someone about to lose their million-dollar home in Pirates Beach TX, I suppose, though I feel somewhat less sorry for those people. Pray, pray -- hurricanes are a big mystery, in many ways, despite the best efforts of science. Heather, stay in Euless! The coast is pretty, but the rain will eventually win the war.
Here's a great assortment of jokes about Sarah Palin, who is poised somewhere between 'vote magnet' and 'the new Dan Quayle.'
And if you prefer a more sobering assessment at bedtime, read Friedman's Op Ed in today's times:
He's right on.
Monday, September 8, 2008
I read a lot of fairy stories as a child, and then, as a teenager. If ever you are led astray, take no food or drink in Faery Land, or you will never return to your own world. And if you think about it, this is quite true. You can skirt the margins of error for some time without falling in; but once you've eaten and taken a drink with someone, you're done for -- good or ill, lives are intertwined.
A. thinks I'm funny when I talk like this, peddler of fiction though he is. Thinks he's in it but not of it, I'll bet. But last I heard, he was working on a book, of a type he's known to sell -- and once he's done it, I'll be interested in seeing what happens. A. has always seemed to me like a guy who ought to write a memoir -- Confessions of a Book Man. He's told me some wild stories, and I'm quite sure I haven't heard the half of it. But A has tasted the food and drunk the wine, and he still manages to talk like a Republican. He must possess a kind of resistance not given to most men. Since he hasn't married a cross-dresser, or some girl who likes trapeze equipment, or a nymphomaniac with an identical twin. (Though he does live on the beach.) A. has seen the world instead, and over the years has come more and more to look like a spy of some sort. One of Smiley's people.
For good or ill, lives are intertwined. I just erased six lines of homage to all my closest companions, and all the crap we've been through together, all the dirt we have on one another. The communion of companionship -- the astounding number of people one can be in love with in a given lifetime. No, I haven't been drinking this evening. But I'm lonely -- it's that time of night, when everyone is asleep and I am still awake, still listening, still thinking, and wishing for someone to hang out with. It's not late enough to sleep. And I hate the telephone.
I need wings.
and a blue dress.
and some wine, and a wafer, and I'll be all set to go.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Old Dime Box, Texas (my favorite)
Bee Cave, TX
Old Glory, TX
George West, TX
Gun Barrel City, TX
Ben Hur, TX
Cut and Shoot, TX
I begin to discern a theme in southeast Texas. I have to stop, this could take half the night.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
I've taken the idea seriously exactly once. Maybe twice.
Otherwise it's intermittent periods of good exercise habits, interspersed with years of trusting to my luck.
But I'm about to turn 40. And while I have managed to remove about eight pounds this summer, since I got the bike, there is still a bunch of extra nonsense on my hips, thighs and belly. It's the last fifteen pounds that stands between me and my ideal weight, the same 15 pounds I've been half-heartedly trying to shed since shortly after I married.
Yesterday I bought two books.
I won't say which books they are.
But neither is about gimmick diets -- no South Beach, no crazily unsustainable restrictions. Both are written by women of a certain age, for women, and both are about building up good habits that make for sustainable weight removal.
Portion control. Fun foods in measured amounts. Decently filling meals.
But I snack ALOT.
ALOT of snacking.
So this will take some getting used to, this 1200 calorie-per-day diet. Wish me luck.
Friday, September 5, 2008
It’s not that I need more friends, only that I’m trying not to max out the tolerance of the friends I have. I think what I loved about dating (once upon a time) was the first and second dates – the ones where you tell each other about yourselves, and make up sensible reconstructions of your past lives for the entertainment of another. Preferences, opinions, victories and heartaches – real or somewhat inventive – the manifestos of existence. As honest as you dare to be, with the understanding that reciprocity is not guaranteed – that was always a big thrill for me. A big risk. I’m not actually a divulger, but with time I’ll tell you everything, provided you’re paying close enough attention to realize it’s happening. I try not to reveal myself often, in spite of this impulse-control problem I have with self-expression. I genuinely struggle against a daily desire to emote all over the place, to trail around after the people I love and pester the daylights out of them. It’s a part of me that looks like weakness – the hyperbolic urge to connect.
My body language is such that people frequently know what I’m up to. “What?!” they’ll say, in response to some look on my face, some posture. Ah! Trapped. Betrayed.
It’s ridiculous, I know. Why all the effort to conceal? Why the elaborate rules of engagement? Well, I know why, and I’ll tell you, because I don’t know for sure if you’re listening anyway and I like to explain. It’s the age-old fear of rejection – that’s all it is. The more I like you, love you, the less inclined I am to be straight with you – because however slight your rejection of my gesture or statement, I’ll take it way too seriously, and worry about it, and probably make some lunatic apology where none is remotely called for, given the opportunity. Hugely insecure, in other words. Desperate to please.
And because that’s a part of me I dislike intensely, I get all stupid about the simplest exchange. It’s better if I just don’t talk. Really.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
The follow-up interview with Palin's aforementioned sister looked pretty lame and scripted by comparison (and would have on its own, simply because the woman admits to little political interest, couldn't be trusted to answer any serious questions about "Troopergate" and hasn't yet slept.) Another pundit came out afterward and called Palin's attack strength an "11" on a scale of one to ten; if that's the case, Biden must be a 20, and Palin's sister a solid 6.
I'm looking forward to a debate, assuming Biden can focus on the facts long enough to keep from tearing strips out of Palin just for being a walking gimmick. As much as Scully's Palin speech focused on the practical experience being a governor affords, they have to restrain themselves given the company of senators on both sides, and all they have left to sell is Palin's family (particularly her Down Syndrome infant and her Average Joe husband.) The pregnant 17-year-old daughter showed up with her boyfriend at the RNC, and McCain's people have shrewdly reconstructed the family narrative to enhance the "working-class-ness" of family problems like teen pregnancy. That combined with the repeated "blue collar husband" references would seem to me to promote a really narrow and stereotyped view of what it means to be a working American. Will voters fall for it?
What remains to be seen is the clarity each candidate will convey on the issues. Obama's precision is a strength, and Biden has no trouble with policy references; both have good energy and incisive delivery. In all though it's far from a slam dunk at this point.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
The Economist has a great cover this week: "Bring Back the Real McCain. Hawkish foreign policy, irresponsible tax cuts, more talk about religion and abortion: all this sounds too much like Bush Three, the label the Democrats are trying to hang around the Republican's neck. We preferred McCain One." And truly there have been times when McCain sounded to me like a more attractive human than Hillary ever has, though that perception has faded as McCain's campaign has advanced. Honestly, he could have chosen the theme from The Dukes of Hazzard instead of the John Rich number and sent the same message -- I are a money-grubbin' gun-totin' redneck. What happened to the guy with the genuinely informed opinions on immigration and climate change? According to Economist he has chosen to shore up the conservative vote while alienating the Independents. So what is he -- a guy who would genuinely abandon his ideals to get elected, or a guy who will lie to as many of his own constituents as he must to get elected, or just a guy with a malfunctioning moral compass and a weak sense of self?
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Look out! It's my senior high school yearbook picture, recently uploaded by the people who brought you all those incredibly boring High School Reunions. Here I am at age 18, with a perm and over-plucked eyebrows. Wow.
I just got a card -- update your info! -- from the organization that now apparently makes money from this sort of thing (versus a committee of folks who actually attended Robbinsdale Cooper Senior High). I went to a large suburban high school where I graduated with 500 other kids -- I did not belong to a cozy band of classmates. I'm hard-pressed to think of more than one or two people from RCHS that I would be genuinely eager to see, and I don't imagine any of them wonder about me. I envy people with small-town school memories. After 22 years...
22 years ago I had two boyfriends (one of them was a secret from my parents) and I was sure I wouldn't marry either of them -- because I was never getting married, or having children. Yet I thought I wanted to be a high school art teacher. Ha! SO naive. I was preparing for my first year at the University of Minnesota, and little did I know how much the freshman year would alter the course of the rest of my life. 1987. Don't get me started.
Monday, September 1, 2008
Thunder and lightning -- a little more passion, a little more spirit, a little more delight for my dollar.
I got a role in the play opening at church in two weeks -- I don't know what I was thinking, honestly, what with the rehearsal schedule and my MORTAL TERROR of public speaking. (And just to clarify, I've spoken to audiences many times, but my knees are always jelly and I usually can't remember what I've said after the fact. I feel slightly electrocuted when it's over.) Actually, my motivation was in part to experience these plays we do from the member-participants' perspective, the better to relate this to others in the course of promoting our arts ministry. Then again, maybe it was the lightning -- or the absence thereof -- like those piano lessons over the summer. Will I start that again as well? Not sure. I want to but I'm bad with my time -- and if I'm that undisciplined, how in the world could I manage going back to school?
My son has a cold and slept terribly last night which prevented me from getting to sleep until almost 4am. SO I'm tired right now. I should turn in. But I'm thinking about you, gentle reader, and wondering who you are and what you're up to this time of night (besides surfing). I have about 35 loyal visitors, but rarely does one of you leave a comment ~ you lurk! Some of you are easy to spot (the people I know, dropping by surreptitiously during working hours or scanning while on the road -- I see your host names in my weekly reports.) Most of you are completely anonymous, which is just how you like it, I know. Quietly curious for 3 minutes at a time. Well, here I am (to borrow JJ's blog title for a moment) -- I ain't much, but I'm obviously spending lots of time thinking about it. Thanks for dropping by.