Thursday, August 30, 2007

Thirteen things that seem to be piling up around my house....

1. Napkins and placemats. I love to change decor and the easiest (aka cheapest) way to do this is to change colors. I now have a BOX of "old" napkin/placemat combos.

2. Sheets, pillowcases, shams, and other bed linen sets. Same M.O. -- the easiest way to trick the imagination into thinking "ah ha! we moved!" is to change colors. I do love this trick (and maybe it's just the shopping at TJMaxx?) but alas, again with the boxes of old decor.

3. Same with towels. I once did the bathroom in, for want of a color name, maroon. For that little, teeny, tiny bathroom -- what was I thinking? I have an entire set of towels, BRAND NEW, languishing in a box in the basement. Or did dh take to the Rescue Mission? I should hope.

4. Christmas crap. Okay, okay. Does that sound sacrilegious? I'm back to decorating again. Must be a theme? Anyway, one year I'll get all Spirit of Christmas Present, and the next year I'm entirely Ms. Scrooge De Cor. The sad part is the sentimentality with which I approach tossing any of this junk. I can't... boo hoo. I need to get a grip!

5. China. Not the country! The stacks of stuff I never use that now take up valuable shelf space (which could be better used by old towels? placemats? napkins? ha!). Okay, I have LOVELY china. Very delicate. But it's from my Laura Ashley phase of life. From the previous marriage. From the who-was-I-kidding entertainment phase of my life (you know, throwing parties, "having people over," and generally being a woman-who-lived-in-a-country club). I never crack out this stuff . Oh, nice pun. I don't have a daughter to whom I can (or would?) leave it in my will. Noritake. Light pink and blue flowers. Very art deco. Maybe it will come back? Who knows. Doesn't match anything I have in my kitchen/dining room. At. All.

6. Same goes with crystal. Waterford. Kildare. Gorgeous stuff. Maybe I should use this? Hmmm.

7. Boxes o' books. I tried (and for me this is reallllly hard) to glean the bookshelves of books I really don't "need" to keep. I have one box for BookMooch (see link) and one for books to sell on Amazon. Still need room in my bookshelves. I'm pathetic about books.

8. Shoes. Piling up. I never thought of myself as a shoe person. But lately I've noticed I keep shoes a long time. Will I ever wear those high heels again? Snort! I haven't even worn a dress since I moved to Vermont in June 2001. The dressiest I get is skirts and flats. But I so hate to throw out what I paid $$ for at Nordstroms when I nearly had my own parking space near the back door...

9. Summer clothes. Okay I really do have way too many pieces of "Fresh Produce" clothing. And I started a new color line (brown) this summer.

10. Sweaters. I love cozy sweaters. I used to buy one "special" sweater every winter when I lived in CA even though I probably didn't need one. Again, I can't seem to get rid of them. They get that "lived in" feel and ... I'm a gonner. Why get so emotional about clothing?

11. Sweatshirts. I love to buy sweatshirts when I travel. I have stacks.

12. T-Shirts. This list is becoming a sad, sad commentary on my shopping and emotional life. I need to get back to therapy, huh. Don't you love your old t-shirts? Who can toss out that shirt from .... Hill Street Blues? Paris Metro Map? Monet Exhibit at the Boston Museum of...? the Sistine Chapel? Oh, the list is endless. I have t-shirts from The Wizard of Oz phase, the art phase, the European travel phase... oy. I even have an Armani t-shirt that I used to wear to watch the Academy Awards (so I could say I wore my Armani!)

13. Paper. Oy. What to do with all this paper. Of all kinds. Papers to file (or toss?). Paper to wrap (I buy on whim). Cards (I buy on whim). Stationery (again... whim is moi). Paper for crafts. Paper patterns (love old patterns!) Boxes! I order stuff (hey! I live in VT where there is NO shopping) and the BOXES! More paper to fill land...? I try to recycle. But then I order another book...and it's a vicious cycle.

Wow, that list just wrote itself. And I didn't even get to pens and journals and ....

Friday, August 24, 2007

Absolutely MUST be REQUIRED viewing by anyone who opens his or her mouth about the war in Iraq.
Knowledge is valuable.
Reallllllly valuable.
Thank the gods for Jon Stewart and the Daily Show.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

in no apparent order and for no reason other than "it's my blog and I'll cry if I want to"

1. Packaging. Of course, this calls for subtopics, and I just don't have the energy. Example. You're at Costco. You buy a set of 12 jazzy neon-colored gel pens. You now have to get a buzz saw to cut through that s****y plastic to open the d**n package. That means you can't write in your journal on the way home. This angst with packaging extends to that c****y tape on the edges (all 3 now!) of dvd's and cd's. How many fingernails have you lost when you followed directions... "pull here"??? Right. Like that's gonna happen. As you scrape bits of adhesive for the next 10 minutes. So much for the good mood you were in when you bought the nifty little piece of entertainment.

2. People who drive and talk while holding cellphones to their ears. No.. not just "drive," but drive 80 mph or attempt tricky manuevers like "U" turns in dicey traffic. Helloooo.... microphones, hands-free... anything about safety???? I especially hate when some oblivious idiot drag races through the supermarket parking lot while holding the cellphone. Enough already.

3. Sportswriters/t.v. commentators. Rant about steroid use. Cut to commercial for... Viagra. Who's kidding who about PERFORMANCE ENHANCEMENT???? It's not just for Barry Bonds any more....

4. Men talking about women finding jobs in almost any non-traditional field. "Well, they're making inroads... numbers are increasing..." Yeah, right. How long have I heard that quote? Forty years? Do not tell me women are equal until I see the Fortune 500 list and it's not just Oprah in the top ten; or that picture of the Supreme Court with five women; or that picture of any major sport with women as officials, team owners, scouts, financial gurus. Just don't insult my intelligence with "you're making progress."

5. Rants about obesity in the USA, McDonald's is packed. After dozens of reports and films like "Fast Food Nation," who would still take the kids to McDonalds? Is the pressure to conform just so tough. Why not say NO? I don't get it. Aren't the parents in charge? I guess not.

6. Halloween costumes. Small children dressed as Pimps and Hos. (yes, was listed as #1 costume choice) Nothing says "family values" like a toddler in leopard print and black lace. And don't get me started on girls in middle school. Talk about dressing like ho's. Yeah, I wanted to wear a mini-skirt. But my father said "no" and I didn't. Am I getting old?

7. Mosquitos. What's the point? Food for bats and birds?

8. Mt. Rushmore. Why do the humorless security guards rummage through my purse and ask me if I'm carrying "pepper spray or a pocket knife"? Exact words. Like I'm going to wield pepper spray in the face of a ranger, grab his gun, and shoot the face off Teddy Roosevelt? Meanwhile, countless RV's and Hummers (who's behind all that dark glass?) pull into the multi-level parking garage, NOBODY checks the trunks. Helllllooooo... can you say "car bomb"? Seems a bit more realistic than a pocket knife for making an impact on Mt. Rushmore. ...... I'm just sayin' .....

9. Current fashion. For me. Baby doll outfits? Really? Come on. Who's kidding who? Models in those ads look pregnant. What's up with that? And while we're on the subject.... why can't I find basic clothes in my size (12) that reflect my age, which is not "granny" and not "teeny bopper." Why don't they have basic jeans any more at Old Navy? I looked for a pair of jeans that sit at my waist. All I found? Jeans that just about covered my pubic hair. (and MOST young women should NOT be wearing these -- helloooo... I'm sick of seeing flab over the belt). But now it's the blouses and dresses and t-shirts. Either we're all peasants or baby dolls. I guess the trends just keep sending me the message: save your money. And that's a good thing.

10. The mortgage crisis. Free money? Someone should have seen this one coming. What were THEY thinking? (and I mean ALL the THEY's... buyers, sellers, banks, mortgage companies... the list is endless)

11. Buy One, Get One Free. Do you ever really have to think about this one? Sometimes it's a good deal. Sometimes I don't want a second dozen fresh bagels. Who's gonna eat these? And if I freeze them, they're no longer FRESH bagels. Haven't I defeated the purpose of my purchase? But if I don't buy the "free" one... I feel like I'm losing out somehow. Marketing!

12. Coupons. Never for anything I really like, want, or use.

13. The end of summer. Bugs me because I'm just feeling relaxed and mellow.... then the weather shifts to a taste of autumn. And I know I have to write my syllabus, and read up for lectures, and create assignments. All I really wanna do is rock in the hammock, read romance novels, and drink raspberry lemonade. Didn't summer just start? And it's over? Ah.....

I didn't proofread this list. I just dribbled and dabbed and wrote without really thinking. Nice to do that once in awhile, isn't it? No offense. Just me being me.

Monday, August 13, 2007

While the clock is ticking and I hold only 14 more days in my cupped hands, summer slumbers outside my window. Some days I might as well be watching a movie where the director inserts a graphic cartoon calendar with pages torn and blown away by a whistling wind. Yes, I waste time and the mental image is cinema. Nice touch. Goes to show how real life and movies are entangled. Or at least in my imagination.

I was thinking ... (okay, you can probably stop reading now...) the other day about censorship and movies and television. It's not the violence that creates the issues. It's not the drugs. What's happened for years is the reflection of a lifestyle that is truly unattainable by the average person. We are not all going to be Rich and/or Famous. By virtue of sheer numbers, it's not gonna happen. Images of wealth and wealth's byproducts (all that STUFF to own, use, toss out like rotten tomatoes) flood the airwaves. What is missing? The work ethic it takes to actually attain said wealth (outside of inheriting, which is mostly how wealth is achieved, but let's not even attempt to explain that one to the great unwashed/uneducated/average cave dweller).

My thoughts traveled this circuitous route via low interest, or even "no interest" home loans. Not that people actually thought, "here's my free lunch" (because they have been programmed to believe such exists). No. My thoughts roamed to the banks and why they have a need to produce and sell such unethical products. Why have we come to this? Money for free. Except it isn't. What makes fake loans attractive? The culture of the Rich and Famous. We can have it all, baby. And have it now. And buy, buy, buy. Cha ching. Bling bling. Without paying.

I walked into a public restroom at the Nevada stateline. I'll bet over a hundred people were parked or pulling in and out of the gas station, on their way to Las Vegas. These were not Rich People. I don't have a solid clue, but I'll say from my perusal, these were mid-to-low income. You'd have to wonder what they were doing, but you would already know. Rich and Famous. Las Vegas. Paved with gold. For the taking. Free money. You bet. You win. High rollers. Gangstahs. Bitches (and that's a word I hate, but that's what they call themselves, which is so demeaning, they have no clue). Gas costs too much? Can't afford to fill that tank? Hey, we'll make that and more in... Las Vegas. Cheap, tawdry, alluring. Just like those Bank Loans.

"Money for nuthin'...." not very many people got that was all sarcastic, did they?

Consider the musical interlude over and let's get back to bank loans. And when the buyers discovered the truth, what did they do? Carry on? Fight back? Maybe. However, the numbers seem to show millions of foreclosures. Millions. And who do you think is going to pay for this? And what is ALREADY happening to the economy?

Loans are scarce. Prices will tumble. But hey! Our property has already been revalued for taxes (which surprisingly went up to accommodate the rise in prices precipitated by the false demand and price hikes on houses). And China is pissed at being dissed in polite society. We send our labor to China so the goods are made cheaply so we can buy, buy, buy more STUFF (remember... being Rich and Famous means constant Acquisition). Should we be angry that China cuts corners? Or should we shut up and keep buying? Inquiring minds want to know.

Yeah, Rich and Famous trumps violence and sex on t.v. and in the movies, as far as I am concerned. We want to be Rich. We want the low prices. We sent the jobs to China and Mexico and India, but we want to be Rich here. Now.

When did the work here stop and the buying begin? Check it out. Probably about the time television brought us the Beverly Hillbillies, Dallas, and Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.

p.s. China actually OWNS us, so maybe we really do have to shut up and buy those toys with the lead-based paint. Or they'll call the loans or devalue their currency and we are all in the Great Depression. Oh, you don't understand? Well, that's another "chalk one up" for the USofA. But that's also another topic for another day.

End of ramble. Thanks for listening. Want a quiet, normal vacation where we aren't Rich and Famous and we enjoy simple pleasures, like reading a book? Come visit us in Vermont.

Friday, August 10, 2007

This IS the FUNNIEST video I've ever seen on YouTube!
Hands down!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Thirteen Fascinating Facts About ...ME!
(can you feel a punt coming on?) (okay, I'm tired and cranky and it's hot and humid)

1. I'm 5'11" tall.
2. I was born in San Luis Obispo, CA.
3. I skipped 4th grade.
4. I dated The San Diego Chicken

5. My first political campaign work was for Robert Kennedy, 1968; ten years later I worked for one of his speech writers.
6. I own 3 Brenda Starr dolls; 2 Anne Estelle; 3 Ellowyn Wilde; and 5 Maleficent dolls and figures. I still have my original Shirley Temple doll from 1959.
7. I cannot do a cartwheel; I can't touch my toes.
8. I collect books I loved as a child, for example: Cowboy Sam series; Gone Away Lake; Five Little Peppers; Seventeenth Summer; and many others.
9. I've been to Paris six times. Once a stranger stopped to talk to me while I was walking down the street. Then, he grabbed my hand and "kidnapped" me to dinner. Talk about fabulous nights!
10. I still have my tonsils.
11. I was on the girl's golf team in high school (also tennis, softball, and hockey).
12. One foot is size 10 and one foot is size 10.5 -- what size should I buy if nobody makes 10.5?
and.... finally...
13. I once served on a Federal Grand Jury for 18 months. Oy -- talk about a waste of time and taxpayers' money..... but that's another story, my dears.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Thursday Thirteen!
Thirteen transitions in life that taught me the most...

(I randomly opened the book, LIST YOURSELF, et vi-ola.... oy)

I think we'll attempt a chronological meander through life's little moments, shall we?

1. Sibling births. Being the oldest is a tough job, but somebody has to do it. With the addition of each new sibling (five after moi), I once told my therapist I felt like a tree ring, only I was being pushed out of the circle, instead of "in." I'm sure she did the dance of joy when I left the office that day: cha ching! Years of therapy ahead. Let's say each sibling transition taught me to cope with change and build responsibility -- by the time I was 14, I was babysitting four kids quite often. For free. Gee, that got me ready for teaching, didn't it? Lots of responsibility for zero pay.

2. Junior High. I always loved school. Junior high in the 60's was my second favorite time in life. That transition from a single classroom in a school I had attended since kindergarten, to changing clothes in gym (and showers!), choosing electives, and memorizing a locker combination -- quite a leap. All that and add the Beatles! She loves you -- yeah, yeah, yeah. That transition taught me about friendship and scholarship and self-reliance. Not so bad. Oh, and how to fold notes and pass them without getting caught by Miss Takeda, the Algebra teacher.

3. Moving #1. This transition wrenched me from childhood to some precipice of adulthood that I had no desire to climb. After I graduated from jr hi (in LA it was the 9th grade), we moved to Escondido, CA. In 1966 the town was small, nestled in a valley, had one stop light, two high schools, but no sidewalks. On a hot-hot-hot August 1, my sister and I stared out our second story bedroom window at droopy eucalyptus trees and the high school's deserted football field. What had our parents done to us? We'd left bustling, hip LA for the boonies! I brooded in my Sassoon (think Agent 99 in Get Smart) haircut, listened to records, danced with Dick Clark, and believed my life was over. On hot-hot-hotter August 15, I awoke to a shrill whistle and muffled shouts. I staggered to the window, and what to my wondering eyes should appear, but 30 hunky football players all in their gear! OOOOH, I lived right across the street from.... good-looking-guy heaven! Actually, that transition from LA to Escondido changed my life forever. I fell in love with small towns, small schools, and... all those handsome hunky guys.

4. College - 1969. Receiving a full scholarship to Whittier College was another transition that completely changed my life. I learned about the world outside my family. I took charge of the feelings in my heart -- the feelings that would lead to lifelong dedication to causes and politics and change. This one is too long to tell, but as you might imagine the time was right for everyone to change -- Vietnam War, protest, social change, civil rights, women's rights, Woodstock, drugs, sex, rock 'n roll, the pill, the draft... so much swirling through the atmosphere, it's a wonder I could study, but I did. Plus, eight women who shared that freshman dormitory with me are still my closest friends -- another valuable lesson of that transition. And then.....

5. Marriage #1. TFM - Tragic First Marriage. Everyone has to break away from her family and begin to individuate. Fact of life. Some find an easy path; some actually blow up the relationship and hope to right it at some later date. That was me.... a complete blow up -- running off to marry the guy my parents had forbidden me to even date. OY! Did I show them, or what? Well, I stuck with my decision for four rather rocky years. The transition from single to married taught me compassion for my parents, especially my mother. But I doubt I ever told her that. No, I'm sure I never have. Obviously, I still need a lot of work on pride.....

6. Motherhood. Whoa, every woman who's become one has this on her transition list. I don't even need to explain. Short take: I was 8 months pregnant when my husband (you know... the one I gave up the full ride to college for; the one I trashed my family for; the one I became a waitress in an Italian restaurant for. Yeah, that one) left me for another woman. Not exactly alone (since my family rescued me from an empty apartment -- that's another story), I delivered a 10 pound 14 ounce son on Sept 9, 1974. What a day! That one full, unequivocally, changed my life forever. I continue to learn the best, deepest, most wonderful lessons -- not necessarily hard or easy -- from motherhood. Even at it's worse, always a joy.

7. Marriage #2. Well, being a working-poor, on-welfare, single mother sucked. No other words. So, I found my son the best father in the world. That transition changed me forever, too. I learned to share, travel, support, and love. John gave me a life I might never have found in any other way. Have I said "thank you"? Yes.

8. College #2. Back to college! I wasn't going to mess up this second chance. The transition from working single mother to "carefree" (yeah, right) college student and married mother was a juggling act that taught me patience and focus. I reveled in the return to academics. I was much better this time -- and my transcript shows it: straight A's, dean's list, magna cum laude, honors from the English Department. Three degrees (B.A, M.A., doctorate) later, all these transitions changed my life paths -- personal, spiritual, and career. I learned much more than academics by going back to school 10 years after everyone in my orginal h.s. '69 class.

9. My father's death. This is the transition with the most impact for the second half of my life. My father's death was a gift that changed everything for me. I say "a gift" in the sense that if I could change this event and have my father, I would give up all that I have. But I can't. I think of my father every day. I miss him so much. His death sent me on a journey -- to find myself. Despite all my studies and labels: mother, wife, teacher, daughter, sister, friend.... I never felt whole. I always felt, as in #1 -- pushed out of the circle. My father's death sent me in search of that circle. I sought therapy, personal growth work, and other avenues of internal knowledge. The journey was marked by joy and sorrow, growth and change. Eventually...... this journey caused me to shed my skin and become a truer me. This transition will never be over.

1o. Divorce #2. All my life I had lived with someone -- mom & dad, college dorm, first marriage, son, second marriage. I had never lived alone, never been on my own in my very own space. I'd never even had my own room -- always shared with a sister or sisters. My journey into self awareness allowed me to see that my marriage, though giving my son a father, had not actually given me what I needed. Yes, the marriage had many solid points, but in the end this could not sustain the relationship. The act of divorce taught me to cherish love over safety, and money, respect over pride. Then, I gave John the house and moved to the ocean to began a new life. This transition taught me to listen to my heart despite the chatter of the world. I made many mistakes, I learned many lessons, and I through both I was always true to myself.

11. Marriage #3. I told myself that I would never never never marry again. I wasn't good at this. No, no, no. Well, the universe often has other gifts in store, no matter what we mortals do to attempt to thwart fate. I met Steve on July 4, 1996. We've been together since. He's the kindest, most amazing person. This transition taught me true commitment.

12. Moving to Vermont. Although I met Steve in California, he owned a home in Vermont. On our first Christmas in 1996, he took me to this little cabin in the woods. I fell in love with the magic of Vermont -- even without snow, leaves, or warmth. We always said, "one day we'll move to Vermont," but we figured this would happen when we were "old" and retired. Events transpired to signal a change. A dear friend -- too young - died. Traffic piled higher every day. Teaching became a drudge instead of a joy. We wondered why we were waiting to live the life we wanted? We sold our house (before they even put the "for sale" sign on the lawn) and most of our worldly goods. We packed the rest in 1/8th of a moving van. And we drove across country to start a new life -- no plans, no jobs, no debts. This transition has taught me the truth of the saying "leap and the net will appear." I learned to trust myself and my love.

13. Writing. The transition to life in Vermont-- being a college professor, teaching writing, and having the time to write -- has taught me to find my voice. Joining a loving writing group, RWU, has been a miracle. Completing a Vision Quest in Moab gifted me the tools to know deep in my heart that I am a Writer. The journey continues.

All these transitions have made me who I am today and who I will be in the future. As I contemplate the second half of my life, I find myself at some place of peace and understanding, but with a sense of excitement and anticipation.