Going On


This year is almost finished. Excuse me, Happy Dance a la Snoopy is about to commence. I’ve yet to participate in a Year End Meme, but there is a first time for everything. I’d list where I got the silly thing, but I’ve read five or six already and I don’t remember whose I read first. So there.

“Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.” ~Hal Borland

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?
The fact that I can’t summon anything… at all… out of my noggin is sad. Sad, indeed. Oh, wait! This meme! Boo. That’s just pitiful.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions and will you make more for next year?
About
my resolutions: I did eat a lot of beef, I did not jump out the office window, I continued to be nobody and I offered to go with the aliens but discovered they didn’t really want me either. Look at that. I didn’t do too badly with my nonsensicalness.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Not in proximity, but a number of friends from high school or college gave birth to their first child and each one has been a startling reminder to how much of a baby I was myself when Big K was born. He’s 14 now. On the bright side, I’ll only be 43 when my youngest graduates from high school and all these friends having babies now will have kids in elementary school… or younger. I win.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Family? No. Friends? No. For this I am truly thankful. I did mourn the passing of
the greatest teacher I have ever known.

5. What countries did you visit?
This question qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment for someone with a wandering heart who is stuck in the quagmire of circumstances… and the poor house.

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
Obviously if I didn’t have it then I want it. Duh.

7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
January 20 – Inauguration Day. You can’t ignore history in the making.
May 22-24 – Riverfest! Always a memorable weekend.
August 19 – My eldest child entered into high school. The horror.
December 16 – Big K hit the official age for a drivers learner’s permit in the state of Arkansas (14 ½). He didn’t go get one, mind you, but the date is etched in my mental history anyway. Remember: I’ve watched him play Mario Kart.
December 31 – This year finally come to an end.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I’m still here.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I’m still fat.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
No H1N1 for me. Swine Flu can kiss my ass.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Muse tickets.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My kids are amazing. Comparatively, to others their ages, I really don’t have any major behavioral problems with them. Seriously, I have good kids. That’s reason enough to celebrate for me.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
I try not to be too affected by the behavior of others. I definitely make an effort to not let it depress me. I do a good enough job of that on my own. I can be appalled, however, and somebody needs to slap the shit out of Tiger Woods.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Rent & bills. In truth, where else would it go? Oh, and my crazy pills.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
That’s a lot of “really”(s). Um… I got nothin’.

16. What song will always remind you of 2009?
Single Ladies by Beyoncé. I mean… really… you couldn’t escape it. Somebody “put a ring on it” and bring that crap to an end.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c) richer or poorer?
I am neither happier nor sadder. For a blink of an eye I might have been thinner. Don’t talk to me about money… please and thank you.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
My favorite life escape tactic: Movies. I need someone to fund my habit because I missed a number of films I wanted to see in the theater.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Eat. Cuss. Bitch. Damn it.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
I spent Christmas with my parents and my boys. It wasn’t so bad. I’ve been decidedly “Bah! Humbug!” about all holidays lately. It snowed about six inches during Christmas Eve. I abhor the snow but the excitement my children had over their white Christmas was a tad bit contagious.

21. Did you fall in love in 2009?
Bwahahahahaha! BWAHAHAHAHA… HAHA… HA…. Ha…ha! Whew.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
Recurring: LOST
New: Glee

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Lady Gaga

24. What was the best book you read?
The Graveyard Book by Neal Gaiman is the perfect book.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Oh, man… there were so many.
Marc Broussard ranks way on up there.

26. What did you want and get?
The Wii has landed.

27. What did you want and not get?
It would be most lovely and convenient to have a decent mode of transportation.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
The year isn’t over and I didn’t get to see all the movies that were on my list. I have high hopes for The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, but it won’t be showing here until after the New Year. SO… based on what I have seen, and there were a lot of them, I am going to say
(500) Days of Summer. Disclaimer: I reserve the right to change my answer at any given moment and as many times as I would like.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 35. A couple of friends took me to P.F. Chang’s and we went to see G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Ethnic food and an action flick… they know me so well.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
The ability to find Contentment. She’s a tricky and elusive bitch.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?
Beth + Personal Fashion Concept = WTF?

32. What kept you sane?
The ability to embrace my madness.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I want to do bad, bad things to Gerard Butler although this is not a new development for 2009. Lucky for me… this year gave me three Gerry films: The Ugly Truth,
Gamer and Law Abiding Citizen.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
If you’re in the USA… it’s hard not to pay attention to the Health Care fiasco.

35. Who did you miss?
In the last four months I’ve started dreaming about the same person at least two nights a week. So, courtesy of my retarded subconscious, I have been missing someone that would not normally be on my radar. Breathe easy. It’s not my ex, but still…

36. Who was the best new person you met?
I thrive off meeting new people. This year brought a number of new friends (and the return of old ones) into my life… many of them online… and I couldn’t possible single someone out as the best; however, a return trip to the East Coast is now warranted for I won’t be giving up my new found friendship with the delightful
Dori anytime soon. We attended the same high school (3 years apart) and knew of each other then, but now… Wow! “Well, lady, I must say—you're my kinda stupid.” Love you, chicka!

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009.
“Whatever happened… happened.” ~LOST

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Good times for a change
See, the luck I've had
Can make a good man
Turn bad

So please please please
Let me, let me, let me
Let me get what I want
This time

Haven't had a dream in a long time
See, the life I've had
Can make a good man bad

So for once in my life
Let me get what I want
Lord knows, it would be the first time
Lord knows, it would be the first time
~The Smiths

Farewell 2009! You most definitely have not landed yourself on my "If I had a time machine I'd go back to...." list.

Passport Envy


Holiday revelation: My mother renewed her passport. Why? My father has been jaunting back and forth between Missouri and Senegal on various mission trips for the last two years. My mother, on the other hand, has been quite content, after 25 years of bouncing back and forth every four years between Kenya & USA, to burrow into her retirement nest and stay there… forever. The fact that she let her passport expire is proof positive that she intended to remain happily behind during all of dad’s trips. Alas! No more. If all works out as expected then my mother will be on an airplane with my father on their way to West Africa in late January.

I am 35 years old and I feel like an abandoned child. Retarded and juvenile, I know. Damn it.

My passport expired in 2004. I cried… not because I couldn’t renew it, but because I knew there would be no need. And, quite obviously, I was right. Six years later and I haven’t needed it. I never get to go anywhere. Even if opportunity were to present itself… the money gods would have a right raucous laugh at my expense. Bastards.

Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe. ~Anatole France

I am in desperate need of a good wander.

Motherhood Days of Christmas


On the first day of Christmas,
My children gave to me
A thrashing on Nintendo Wii
♪ ♫♪♪ ♫♫♪♪ ♫♪♫♫ ♫


On the second day of Christmas,
My children gave to me
Two mismatched gloves,
And a thrashing on Nintendo Wii!
♪ ♫♪♪ ♫♫♪♪ ♫♪♫♫ ♫


On the third day of Christmas,
My children gave to me
Three texting trends,
Two mismatched gloves,
And a thrashing on Nintendo Wii!
♪ ♫♪♪ ♫♫♪♪ ♫♪♫♫ ♫


On the fourth day of Christmas,
My children gave to me
Four cups of curds,
Three texting trends,
Two mismatched gloves,
And a thrashing on Nintendo Wii!
♪ ♫♪♪ ♫♫♪♪ ♫♪♫♫ ♫


On the fifth day of Christmas,
My children gave to me
♪FIVE BRO-KEN SWINGS,♫
Four cups of curds,
Three texting trends,
Two mismatched gloves,
And a thrashing on Nintendo Wii!
♪ ♫♪♪ ♫♫♪♪ ♫♪♫♫ ♫


On the sixth day of Christmas,
My children gave to me
Six teachers a-praying,
♪FIVE BRO-KEN SWINGS,♫
Four cups of curds,
Three texting trends,
Two mismatched gloves,
And a thrashing on Nintendo Wii!
♪ ♫♪♪ ♫♫♪♪ ♫♪♫♫ ♫


On the seventh day of Christmas,
My children gave to me
Seven extra innings,
Six teachers a-praying,
♪FIVE BRO-KEN SWINGS,♫
Four cups of curds,
Three texting trends,
Two mismatched gloves,
And a thrashing on Nintendo Wii!
♪ ♫♪♪ ♫♫♪♪ ♫♪♫♫ ♫


On the eighth day of Christmas,
My children gave to me
Eight tubs a-leaking,
Seven extra innings,
Six teachers a-praying,
♪FIVE BRO-KEN SWINGS,♫
Four cups of curds,
Three texting trends,
Two mismatched gloves,
And a thrashing on Nintendo Wii!
♪ ♫♪♪ ♫♫♪♪ ♫♪♫♫ ♫


On the ninth day of Christmas,
My children gave to me
Nine troopers chasing,
Eight tubs a-leaking,
Seven extra innings,
Six teachers a-praying,
♪FIVE BRO-KEN SWINGS,♫
Four cups of curds,
Three texting trends,
Two mismatched gloves,
And a thrashing on Nintendo Wii!
♪ ♫♪♪ ♫♫♪♪ ♫♪♫♫ ♫


On the tenth day of Christmas,
My children gave to me
Ten spiders a-creeping,
Nine troopers chasing,
Eight tubs a-leaking,
Seven extra innings,
Six teachers a-praying,
♪FIVE BRO-KEN SWINGS,♫
Four cups of curds,
Three texting trends,
Two mismatched gloves,
And a thrashing on Nintendo Wii!
♪ ♫♪♪ ♫♫♪♪ ♫♪♫♫ ♫


On the eleventh day of Christmas,
My children gave to me
Eleven days of whining,
Ten spiders a-creeping,
Nine troopers chasing,
Eight tubs a-leaking,
Seven extra innings,
Six teachers a-praying,
♪FIVE BRO-KEN SWINGS,♫
Four cups of curds,
Three texting trends,
Two mismatched gloves,
And a thrashing on Nintendo Wii!
♪ ♫♪♪ ♫♫♪♪ ♫♪♫♫ ♫


On the twelfth day of Christmas,
My children gave to me
Twelve headaches thumping,
Eleven days of whining,
Ten spiders a-creeping,
Nine troopers chasing,
Eight tubs a-leaking,
Seven extra innings,
Six teachers a-praying,
♪FIVE BRO-KEN SWINGS,♫
Four cups of curds,
Three texting trends,
Two mismatched gloves,
And a thrashing on Nintendo Wii!

♪ ♫♪♪ ♫♫♪♪ ♫♪♫♫ ♫


MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Stealing Saturday

There are a number of things I should could be doing right now. Dishes. Laundry. Cleaning. Preparing for the oncoming onslaught that will occur when my boys get back from their dad’s and force me into holiday décor submission. Something. But, I’m not. Obviously. I’m not alone, it would seem, for Avitable actually created a survey on this post-holiday Saturday. And, since I’m procrastinating anyway… well, you get the idea.

Just pick the first word that you think of when you associate yourself with that category. Don't overthink it.

If I was a/an _____, I'd be ______.

TV show: My Boys
Song: No Rain by Blind Melon
Movie: Bend it Like Beckham
Book: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Fictional Character:
Lara Croft
City: London
Verb: Regret
Color: Black
Animal: Cheetah
Emotion: Torment
Article of Clothing: T-shirt
Flavor: Sour
Food: Curry
Vice: Doubt
Plant: Flame Tree
Mythological Animal: Sphinx
Letter: Q
Inanimate Object: iPod
School Activity: Yearbook
Positive Attribute: Stubbornness
Negative Attribute: Stubbornness

That’s that. I’m off to find something else to do in an effort to not do what I need to do.

Procrastination is the thief of time. ~Edward Young

Conscious Treasures


I don’t do well with thanks. Seriously. I am not as grateful as I should be and I don’t accept gratitude very graciously at all. Usually, on this most American holiday, I post a tangent about my general dislike for the day. It isn’t that I don’t have things for which to be thankful… I simply don’t care for a holiday reminding me that I need to give thanks. I like celebration holidays not reminder holidays.

It’s been a particularly rough year for me. Griping about what I need or don’t have has been rather predominant. It’s easier than trying to recognize one’s treasures. My cache is so small that when I perch on it like a proud dragon my fat ass covers it all up and I have trouble identifying what is there. Let me move. Let’s see. I have …


My boys. They keep me sane… in a fashion. They also keep things crazy. We are quite insane together.

My parents. I received word that a friend of mine lost her father in a car accident yesterday. I am still lucky enough to have both parents and if something were to happen to my father the world might actually get to see me fall completely apart. He lives hours away but I still need him. Daddy’s little girl and all that jazz.

My sanity. Sigh. I tried.

My job. It isn’t my passion. It also isn’t where I prefer to spend forty or more hours of my week. But, it pays most of the bills and in this lovely economy I actually am grateful to be employed. Not to mention, we have the greatest crushed ice machine in the known universe.

My sucky apartment. It’s a roof and walls. Whew! Considering I don’t have a decent working vehicle right now… it would be no good for us to try living out of a car and I hate camping.

My health. For the most part, anyway. I don’t have cancer or any other form of terminal disease (that I know of). That’s a plus.

My plants. No need to call the Houseplant Rescue Team. I’ve managed to keep three plants alive for more than a year now. This is no small accomplishment for me.

My fat. No, not really… but winter is looming and I’m freezing and something has to keep my equatorial blood warm. Since I can’t seem to lose the fat I might as well find a reason, regardless of how retarded, to be thankful for it.

My music. Tunes drive away the demons. Granted, my purchased off eBay four years ago iPod chose this year to stop holding a charge and I’m too poor to replace it. I still have music. It merely is no longer portable. Damn it.

Treasures counted. I feel no more alive for this little exercise. Better? Maybe. Alive? Not so much. Hell.

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. ~Thornton Wilder

Dear Beth


I refer to the last two years I spent in high school as “my glory years.” It is an oddity. Most people seem to remember high school with a mixture of love and hatred. Me? I have nothing but fondness for those years. Junior high through ninth grade… not so much, but my junior and senior years were pretty awesome. Yes, even in hindsight. If I could pick a point in time to go back and start over… that would be it.

When I was tapped by
Mo for yet another virtual game of tag, this one challenging me to write a letter to myself at age sixteen, I couldn’t fathom what I would say to her. I turned 16 the summer prior to my junior year of high school… a year of my life that I loved. After a bit of thought I discovered I did have something to say. It would seem I always do. There was only one major decision to make… a decision that would shape every facet of my letter: Do I assume I can warn her and change my path or do I accept that my life cannot be changed and simply give her guidance? My impulse is to alter my existence. I’ve chosen to go against that desire. A miracle, I know.


Hey Chick-a-dee!

Yeah, I just called you Chick-a-dee. Get used to it. Sometime in the next few years you are going to develop this habit for nicknaming just about everyone you know. I know this because I am you… a really long time from now. Don’t give me that skeptical laugh thing that you do. I could convince you with tales of what we were doing our final weekend in Louisiana a couple of months back. Ha! See? You know what I’m talking about. So… sit down, shut up and read.

Happy Birthday! I know you didn’t expect your 16th birthday to begin this way, but I’m quite sure you will adapt. You’re good at that. Also, Welcome Home! Please take a deep breath of Kenyan air. It’s been a while for me. Don’t take it for granted. Ever.

I’ve decided to not reveal too much about our future to you. Don’t bitch about it. I’m not here to blatantly change events. If I do, however, change your …. our… (whatever) attitude or thought responses and subsequently you make different decisions than I did and change our mutual course then I’ll live with the outcome.

I do have some general advice and I would love it if you listened to me for a change. As this is your sixteenth birthday, I’ll give you sixteen things to think about and that statement leads directly into one of the things you need to know about yourself:

1. Learn to set limits… like me only telling you sixteen things. If you don’t set limits you’ll just keep going on and on and on and spending your energy on non-beneficial stuff.

2. Write more. Start compiling all those scribblings you have scattered around into a more central location. Journal a lot. Trust me. You can thank me later.

3. Speaking of the written word: Keep every note and letter you receive. Every. Single. One.

4. Think twice before consciously setting someone up to be hurt even if you think they are one of the cold, hard, unfeeling ones.

5. You’re beautiful. I realize you have no clue. I remember. That’s why I’m telling you: You are beautiful! That junior high scrawny ugly duckling phase is long gone.

6. Don’t settle when it comes time to choose a college/university. Push for what you want. It’s your future.

7. Boys. They are worth it. Truly. But, don’t settle on one of them either. You’re allowed to be picky.

8. You know that “I refuse to be assimilated into any group and just want to be friends with everyone” vibe you have going on? Good decision. Go with it. Don’t second guess yourself on that one.

9. Study harder.

10. Swahili fluency is highly suggested.

11. Sunscreen. Wear it. You live on the equator and have blonde hair and green eyes. Girl, use your brain.

12. Your humanity dictates that you will make mistakes. Learn from them, but don’t dwell.

13. Never beg. Never grovel. Ever.

14. Get your right knee x-rayed. No, not now. You’ll know when. Swallow your tough girl play through the pain attitude and just do it.

15. Cherish every memory.

16. Love yourself. Always.

Are you listening? I hope so. You should listen to us more often and trust our instincts. I look forward to discovering who we’ve become in about eighteen years.




“You are sixteen going on seventeen, baby it's time to think. Better beware, be canny and careful, baby you're on the brink.” ~The Sound of Music

If you like this idea... consider yourself tagged.
Photo from: We Heart It.

I'll Sleep With You For A Meatball


Halfway through week one of vegetarianism and I’m hungry. All. The. Time. Yes, I’m doing the multiple small meals thing and I have a bag of edamame (healthy snack food of choice) practically attached to my body. I also realize the seemingly permanent ravenous state I’m currently suffering is truly not forever. By the weekend I’ll likely be adapted to the new routine. I usually am. Right now, however … “I’ll sleep with you for a meatball.” ~Victor/Victoria, Film (1982)

My carnivorous cravings should come as no surprise; but, why a meatball?

1. Practically any type of ground animal flesh can be made into a meatball.

2. Fat. Meatballs are loaded with fat. All the other stuff (bread crumbs, often cheese, etc.) we put in meatballs add extra fat or hold in the natural fat (and flavor) of the meat. Fat = Flavor. It’s a sad truth.

(I’m very aware at how mildly disgusting points #1 and #2 sound. Thank you.)

3. Where do we normally find meatballs? Typically they are located in some sort of sauce and on many an occasion they are perched atop a massive pile of pasta. Sigh.

Did I mention I’m hungry?

4. Fact: The movie quote was there for the taking and I HAD to use it.

It’s a relatively safe claim, I think. I have enough willpower to not jump into bed with the first person that shows up at my door with a meatball. I might even have enough self restraint to not eat the meatball. Even if I do eat it, I’m a master at playing the semantics card. I eat the meatball… we take a nap. I love the English language.

Feeling Vainly Proustful


It makes sense now. We can all blame Vanity Fair or, more accurately, Marcel Proust for those astoundingly repetitive social media meme questionnaires that refuse to die.

This time though… I’ll blame
Finn. Following in the footsteps of the icons who have answered these questions on the back page of Vanity Fair for seventeen years, Finn posted her own answers over at A Life Less Ordinary (required blog reading) and invited us to play along. I think I shall. I feel, vainly so, that I am iconic. Vanity Fair, are you listening?


What is your most marked characteristic?
Undeniable bipolarity. Even medicated it’s quite obvious I am a creature of bizarre moods.

What is the quality you most like in a man?
Intelligent humor.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?
A man’s distaste for drama.

What do you most value in your friends?
Tolerance, understanding and quick wit.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
I am the master of botched good intentions.

What is your favorite occupation?
Mom. Motherhood was accidental, but I am Mom. I am Mommy when they are sick or Mother when they are angry. Most of the time I am quite contentedly… Mom.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Films. Trust me, on my budget, movie going is a hefty extravagance.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“Indeed.” “May the force be with you.” “Dude!” “Bloody hell!”

When and where were you happiest?
Consciously: Kenya, 1991-1992.
Subconsciously: In any airport or airplane going anywhere.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Is there such a thing? I hope, someday, that I can say I am happy enough. “You ask a serious question, I'll give you a serious answer: Happy enough. I don't expect much. I don't get much, I don't give much. I generally enjoy whatever comes along. That's my answer for you, summed up for your feminine consideration. I'm happy enough.” ~Waitress, Film (2007)

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Staring at my own eyes in a mirror only to realize that I’ve all but lost my own sense of identity is about as miserable as misery gets.

In which country would you like to live?
May to September: England.
October to April: Kenya.

Who are your favorite writers?
Dead: William Shakespeare, Ernest Hemingway, J.R.R. Tolkien, & Jane Austen.
Alive: J.K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman, Bernard Cornwell & Gregory Maguire.

Who are your favorite poets?
William Blake, Robert Frost, William Butler Yeats, Sylvia Plath and, dare I say, me.

Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Hamlet: The most brooding, tortured and alluring soul of all Shakespeare’s creations.

Who is your favorite heroine of fiction?
Éowyn of Rohan from Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien: The greatest of literary tomboys.

Who are your favorite composers?
Then: Tchaikovsky & Beethoven.
Now: Howard Shore & John Williams.

Who are your favorite painters?
Vincent Van Gogh, Salvador Dali & Jackson Pollock.

What are your favorite names?
Girl: Sydney. Boy: Cameron.

What is it that you most dislike?
Those who choose ignorance over knowledge & enlightenment.

Which talent would you most like to have?
It would be lovely to carry a tune and have the lung power to back it up.

How would you like to die?
Quietly. I think I’ve made enough noise already. Should I die tomorrow or fifty years from now… I owe the world a silent departure.

What is your greatest fear?
To be paralyzed.

What is your current state of mind?
Slightly melancholic and a wee bit annoyed.

What is your motto?
My job is not to impress people. It’s to intrigue them. (A phrase I first quoted in my senior year high school yearbook. It still stands today.)

Ah, I’m done. In retrospect, perhaps only my children view me as iconic. That is enough… for now anyway.

Part-Time Parsnipian


Can one really be a part-time vegetarian? The concept does sound remotely retarded and yet it is something I have chosen to pursue. Apparently, I’m not alone. I was guided to the term Flexitarian courtesy of the great Google gods in response to a “part-time vegetarian” search. I like the "flex" part of that word. It is, I ashamedly admit, non-committal.

Those of you who know me well or have been reading this blog for a while (same thing) realize that my name is not even remotely synonymous with the term “vegetarian” in any capacity. In my world… vegetarians live on Planet Parsnip. I respect their choices but I don’t really understand them seeing as I don’t speak Parsnipian. I live quite comfortably on Planet Predator. Here, pig tastes good. Chicken tastes good. Cow tastes damn good and that baby sheep over there? Yeah, I’m going to eat it too. Hence, I predict there is a bit of shock and awe happening around the world in regard to this change of lifestyle revelation. Reactions are probably ranging from maniacal laughter to “Pfffft! Like hell.” to “May the force be with you.” to, dare I say, pity.

Here’s the deal: Drastic times call for drastic measures.

In July I launched
Operation Skinny Bitch in a desperate attempt to reclaim my health and my life… and it was working. But, by mid-August, I ran out of money. Eating healthier and paying for the gym proved far too much for my single-mother-with-two-boys-consuming-everything-in-sight budget. By September I had not merely fallen off the proverbial wagon… I had launched myself face first into the quagmire of muddy hoof prints as my team of motivation horses galloped down the path of good intentions with my wagon careening carelessly behind. Then, to complicate matters as I made feeble attempts at trudging through the mud of that very same path, my body began to rebel against any forward momentum. My right elbow began to act up… not wanting to hold any substantial weight and my left knee (the “good” one) started trying to slip out of joint. Great. Lovely. WTF? Is turning thirty-five an immediate death sentence on bodily joints?

Point being: I failed. Failure, my friends, is not a shade I wear well.

Another approach had to be taken.

I’ve yet to figure out the whole “working out” situation. With Christmas looming large on the horizon, there is no money for the gym. Even if that materializes out of thin air, my workouts (gym or home) have to be modified for these new my-body-hates-me developments. So, food consumption must be altered to the extreme.

Ideally, I’d give full-fledged vegetarianism a hearty go. And, perhaps, this part-time gig is a stepping stone to that eventuality. Beyond my fear of actually being able to adapt to living as a vegetarian all the time … (Hello? Didn’t I just mention that failure is not my friend?) … is the fact that my children, while very fond of vegetables, are primarily carnivores. They could easily be spokesboys in those bloody stupid “Go Meat!” Hillshire Farms commercials. (Sorry non-USA television watching audience for that reference.) The reality is that I do have to continue cooking for them … some of the time.

I live in the same town (dammit) with my ex-husband. This, combined with the fact that he’s not a complete and utter douche bag, means that we share physical custody of our boys. To most it would appear that I am a part-time parent because of this arrangement. It doesn’t exactly work out that way, but I do have more time to myself and far fewer meals to arrange on my “off” weeks. These weeks, when I’m feeding only myself, are when I have chosen to live life as a vegetarian. Menu planning will be easier, I think. This will definitely be easier on the budget. When I have my children I will proceed semi-business as usual. There are some changes happening there as well: serious portion control, no bread, fish (for me) instead of pork or beef, etc.

Here I go. New month. New plan. A very little bit of success would be lovely. May the force, indeed, be with me.

"You will profit by the failure, and will avoid it another time. Every failure teaches a man something, if he will learn.” ~Charles Dickens

Barducation

"It is a wise father that knows his own child.” ~William Shakespeare


Big K is discovering and loving Shakespeare. I’m so proud. Then again, this development does have a bit of an inevitability ring to it.

When he was a year old I returned to the college classroom in a desperate attempt to finish my university education. Obviously that didn’t happen. I could lay blame but, really, twelve years later… it just isn’t worth it. The important thing is that two of Big K’s major development years were spent with me in school. I also had a very necessary full time job. This didn’t leave me a lot of time to be with him so I had to maximize those moments. Hence, his bedtime tales and story time readings included generous amounts of Shakespeare, Chaucer, Shelley, and Wordsworth amidst Where the Wild Things Are, The Velveteen Rabbit, Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs while I made a desperate attempt to parent and finish homework simultaneously.

The presence of William Shakespeare has always been prominent in my home. The picture above is from my current bookshelf. This is just a sampling. There is more. There is also a raging DVD collection, a quote card game and a Shakespeare finger puppet who used to live on the refrigerator but currently reside at my office.

Five or so years ago I was able to obtain a DVD copy of Shakesepeare: The Animated Tales. Big K was eight or nine at the time, but we watched them together and, while he had a lot of questions, he seemed to enjoy it.

Last year he began inquiring about the aforementioned DVD collection. Could he watch Hamlet? What about Romeo and Juliet? What is A Midsummer Night’s Dream about? I waited a few months because I wanted him to start high school first as he will be reading Romeo and Juliet in class this year. I saw no harm in having him watch a movie version prior to reading the play. Perhaps it would give him a better understanding. He is a teen, so I put in the visually modernized yet relatively textually accurate version of Romeo + Juliet by Baz Luhrmann. I enabled the subtitles so Big K could see the words instead of just hearing them and... I know my kid is bright, but he didn’t need me to explain anything. Nothing. He simply gets it. My teen understands Shakespearean English.

It would seem that we are now immersed in a full fledged mother to son Barducation. It’s awesome. He’s yet to read Romeo and Juliet in school. I predict, once he does, that we venture into reading some of the other plays here at home as well. We’ve already started on the sonnets.

This, my friends, is one of those events that make me realize a couple of things:

1. Parenting can be most excellent.
2. I haven’t completely screwed up my children.

We Reach Out


I’ve written about those moments where you connect, just for a moment, with a person you don’t know. I refer to that heady phenomenon as Synchronized Strangers. I love those moments but, in truth, what makes those instances magical is the fact that we usually never see those individuals again. That moment lingers in memory alone.

What happens, however, when a 'Synchronized Strangers' moment happens online? No, I’m not talking about eHarmony or Match.com or any other dating site. I’m referring to those moments when someone stumbles across one of your blog entries and something you say, or the way you say it, grabs their attention… and they comment. And, in their response, you realize that this person understands… they “get you” and they “get it” and synchronicity takes place. The same can be said for the reverse. How many times have you been that person following a chain of comments, links on a blogger friends page, or even guided by the great Google gods… when you land on someone’s page and you read their blog or their poetry or their fiction and you are immediately drawn to that person like a moth to flame?

There is still a choice that exists. You can keep on walking… leaving nothing but an IP address behind to mark that you were once there. Perhaps you bookmark the blog and read it secretly. Me? I’m a commenter. If you touch my heart or my soul or my mind in something you have voiced… I’m apt to tell you about it. Guess what I’ve discovered in this process:

“It is quite possible for people who have never met us and who have spent only twenty minutes thinking about us to come to a better understanding of who we are than people who have known us for years.” ~Malcolm Gladwell

It’s true. I have online friends that do “get me” more than some of the people I have known my entire life. And, in some instances, that understanding has been instantaneous. I get the eye roll on a regular basis; that “yeah right” look from people who don’t understand… who will never understand. I learned long ago to ignore them. We are human and we instinctively reach out to each other. Is it weird? Is it strange? Perhaps. But, it is also very real.

“Right now, you and me here… put together entirely from Adam sitting on this round rock with a core of liquid iron held down by this force that so troubles you called gravity … all the while spinning around the sun at sixty-seven thousand miles an hour and whizzing through the Milky Way at six-hundred thousand miles an hour in a universe that very well may be chasing it’s own tale at the speed of light. And, amidst all this frantic activity, fully cognizant of our own imminent demise (which is a very pretty way of saying we all know we are going to die), we reach out to one another. Sometimes for the sake of vanity. Sometimes for reasons you are not old enough to understand yet. But, a lot of the time we just reach out … and expect nothing in return. Isn’t that strange? Isn’t that weird? Isn’t that weird enough?” ~The Martian Child, Film (2007)

I am the Starving Lion


“Not a damn thing.” That’s my answer to the dreaded, “What did you do this weekend?”

There is no hint of jest in that answer. I literally did nothing. Well, nothing productive. I’m not proud of it, but I am angry. My boys were with their father this weekend and, while I had nothing exciting planned; I did have a million and one (or two) things to get done around my apartment. I did none of it. The really disturbing part of my behavior is that it is becoming a trend I can’t seem to stop.

I do want to be more accomplished. Oh, I have finally resolved myself to the fact that I will never write the great American novel. I will never win the lottery. I will never be famous (Thank God.). I will never be a CEO or own a multi-million dollar company. Hell, it is likely that I will never make a salary large enough for me to ever feel relieved or comfortable in my situation and that of my boys. My life, for better or worse, is a simple one. So… why can’t I muster the motivation to be the best me I know I need to be?

It’s obvious I care. I psyche myself to do things. I might even follow through for a week or two. Then… nothing. And, when I do nothing, I actually get super angry at myself. Somehow though, that anger doesn’t translate into change.

Am I mildly depressed? Probably. I’m always a bit melancholic despite my bipolar medication. Have I spiraled into the depths of depression from whence there is no return? No. There is a book out there called Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy by Eric G. Wilson. I have it. I’ve read it. The goal of the author is to help draw the distinction between general individual sadness and serious depression issues. It’s a good read. I’ve lived as a diagnosed bipolar for almost fifteen years now. Between personal experience and books like the one I’ve mentioned, I know I’m in the safe zone right now.

My problem isn’t depression. It’s general motivation. I don’t have any and I can’t find it and I’m really, really pissed off about the whole situation. I get up every morning. I look across the Serengeti of my life and when I don’t immediately spot a gazelle… I lay back down.

“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.” ~Unknown

This Leo, she’s going to starve.

I Trump Your Snark & Raise You A Guffaw

“One of the keys is to not be childish, but act childlike. The idea is not to shirk adult responsibilities. It's about finding ways how you can interject fun into your everyday life.” ~Jason Kotecki


I have become starkly aware of the fact that snark and sarcasm are now competitive sports within my home… and I must win.

I served peas as the légume du jour for dinner last Thursday. This is always a highly controversial maneuver within my abode as none of us really care for peas, but I was tired of 1,001 ways to cook broccoli or carrots or cauliflower or green beans. I find canned peas most foul and traditional frozen peas, if left longer than one millisecond in blanching water, will ultimately transform into baby food. And… I’m far, far too lazy to “shuck” my own fresh peas. I was willing, however, to try the frozen peas that you steam in the bag.

You know what? I actually found myself sort of liking those peas. Thank you, convenience cooking contraption creators. Big K had much the same reaction although we both ate all of our peas first before proceeding on to the food we really wanted to eat. Little K tried a different strategy. He ate everything else and then sat and stared at his plate of peas. Finally, the words came… and I was prepared. “Mom, I’m full.” He said. “You lie.” I said. This, my friends, is the child that is n-e-v-e-r full. I will be flat broke before he graduates from high school in eight years. “I’ll make you a deal,” I continued. “Eat half of that pile of peas.” He agreed. The deal was met and the child shoveled a large amount of peas into his face without so much as a mild complaint. This means that he too rather enjoyed those peas although I will never get that admission from him.

Shortly after my child disappeared into the kitchen with his plate, I thought to ask what happened to the remaining half a pile of peas. The response? The trash. Sigh. Oh, there weren’t enough peas to salvage for any other purpose. Not really. But, I don’t like throwing food in my trash can. Eventually it will stink. My apartment, however, faces the woods on two sides and there are animals that live in those woods. There is a rule in my house that if it is rapidly biodegradable or animal edible then it can be thrown into the forest. I reminded my child of this fact and told him he was lucky the next morning was Friday. Trash day. Whew!

But, hark! This tale is not done for I then spotted: One. Single. Bright. Green. Pea. It was on my rug. Whole. Not yet smushed. I cleared my throat and pointed at the pea. Little K smiled. He walked over to the pea. He picked it up. Then he proceeded to walk toward the front door with that one pea held high… looking over his shoulder with the smarmiest expression of all time. He intended to throw that pea out the door into the woods and was making sure I acknowledged the absurdity of this action since half a pile of uneaten peas was already living in my trash can. He strutted. He smirked. “I cannot let the 9-year old win,” I thought. “I must trump his snark!”

“You know,” I said as he opened the door. “It’s a darn good thing there aren’t two of those. We certainly can’t be having you throw pea-pea all over the neighborhood.”

Big K immediately fell off the couch. Raucous laughter.

Little K threw his one pea into the woods, closed the door, turned to me with his hands on his hips and with a roll of his eyes and in a most exasperated tone of voice stated, “MOM! THAT IS *SO* IMMATURE!”

Score.

Where I Am From


"The soul of Africa, its integrity, the slow inexorible pulse of its life, is its own and of such singular rhythm that no outsider, unless steeped from childhood in its endless, even beat, can ever come to experience it, except only as a bystander might experience a Masai war dance knowing nothing of its music nor the meaning of its steps." ~Beryl Markham, West with the Night


I was directed to the
template for the following piece by my lovely friend Dori. The original poem is by George Ella Lyon and I have probably taken a bit more liberty than the creator intended… but, isn’t that what art is all about?

WHERE I’M FROM


I am from equatorial highlands drenched in morning fog and Kilimanjaro rising out of the horizon on a crystal clear day, from rolling hills blanketed in a green sea of Lipton tea fields, plains of Dole pineapple plantations, coffee grown on “a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills” and Tusker.

    I am from remnants of British Colonialism… afternoon tea, football, proper speech, Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, shillings, fish and chips, colour, and knowing which fork to use first.

I am from the shadeless branches of the upside-down Baobab, the Jacaranda that paves my steps in purple royalty, wild Poinsettia too majestic for tacky gold foiled wrapped holiday décor, Bottlebrush, Frangipani, Flame Tree and the mighty Muna.

    I am from Sunday night pancake suppers, cookie baking wars, chameleon collecting and December 25th morning readings of Luke 2:1-20. I am from 'My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean' and 'Sam’s Song' and 'Jim Dandy.' Lyrics optional.

I am the place of the winds, a president’s cornerstone, spaghetti casserole on metal dining trays, curfews, crater hikes, sports tournaments, ugali & sukuma wiki from the duka, quarry runs, digging stumps for detention and 101 ways to sneak out of a dorm.

    From “Stay out of the sun from 12 until 2!” and “Here, read this book. See where it takes you.”

I am from faith deeply fostered on rough hewn wooden benches during three hours of celebration in a building with mud walls… or no walls… or in the dirt under the flat umbrella of the Acacia. A place where testimonies are shouted proudly with joyous abandon, music is the soul of worship, sermons come in three languages, sugar cane & eggs a good offering make and honored guests eat what they are served without question… lest they offend.

    I'm from a Texas American-Mutt birth with a lot of German Shepherd, a bit of Scottish Terrier, plenty of English Bulldog and a dash of French Poodle thrown in just for flavor. I am chicken curry, sauerkraut with dumplings, southern-style biscuits & gravy and warm Coke in glass bottles.

From overnight Tsavo train rides sans rogue lions, filling up crab holes in the sands of the Indian Ocean and racing from reef to shore at the turn of the tide, I am the explorer under the waves.

    I am animal print photo boxes, scrapbook supplies spread to and fro on table and floor, framed wall collages, painted portraits, missionary slide sentimentality and memories imbedded in a multi-continental consciousness.

This is me.


And you? Where are you from?

Photo from DHD Multimedia Gallery

Adieu! Beloved Teacher


I received word several weeks ago regarding the passing of a former teacher. The information was unsubstantiated at the time and I hoped, for a moment, that perhaps she was merely ill. I hoped I would get a chance to say, “Thank you.” I did not get that chance. The Rift Valley Academy (RVA) grapevine can be surprisingly accurate when relaying the big news while simultaneously vague in conveying the necessary details.

At the prodding of a classmate I was compelled to dig for more detail. Sometime in the last two years I became the designated class keeper of the emails. She felt a message to inform the entire class was warranted. I had thought the same but, without facts, I was wary. Eventually I located an official obituary. It was confirmed. Cancer. July. Obviously the grapevine moves a little slower when the news is not only factual, but sad or tragic… as opposed to intriguing, salacious and highly suspect as to its origin.

Note: While my addressing a former teacher as “Liz” may seem a bit informal, please be aware that it is not my place to reveal her full name in the grand blogosphere. I never addressed her as such in person although the nickname was used quite affectionately by her students for a number of years… as was “Wintie”… a playful shortened homage to her surname. She knew we used them both. Nothing got past that woman.

Liz was a legend. Senior English was her domain and she was known to be a demanding dictator.

I arrived at RVA in seventh grade and within weeks I feared eventually having this woman in class. My brother was in twelfth grade that year. Liz was his English teacher. He agreed that she was tough. Class was hard. He did, however, have a twinkle in his eye when he admitted these things. I would learn later that Jimmy had been one of her favorites. A family trait, it would seem.

My introduction to Liz came earlier then Senior English as she chose to be one of the staff members sponsoring our class. Boarding school. We had to have adults around in a multitude of capacities. Class sponsors were responsible for guiding class decisions and helping plan class events. They rocked. As students, we enjoyed her in this role and yet we continued to fear the day we would be with her in the classroom. Eventually that day came and she was, indeed, a very hard teacher. She was there to prepare us for college and she would not let us forget it. But, she was also fair, caring, passionate and even, on occasion, a bit playful or mischievous. She loved teaching.

Liz expected us to be well versed in grammar by the time we reached twelfth grade. She chose instead to focus heavily on literature (Brit Lit, as dictated by the curriculum) and vocabulary. Words. We studied words. More accurately, we broke them down and analyzed their very core. Root words. Prefixes. Suffixes. This word can be made out of this and those words can be made out of that. Words. Words. Words. It was utterly wordgasmic. We learned words and we read. We dove into Beowulf, Ivanhoe, Hamlet (Lord, how we studied Hamlet.), etc. and, while my Brit Lit interests had been ignited in ninth grade when introduced to Romeo and Juliet & A Tale of Two Cities, it was here… with Liz… where I fell deeply in love with British Literature. It would go on to become the focus of my (yes, unfinished) college degree.

I remember a lot of things about Liz that year beyond how hard we studied for her class. I recall her teasing threats to cut the lengthening locks on a few of the boys. A master pianist and organist, Liz was the accompanist for the school choir. I was her designated sheet music page turner. (My maiden name, by the way, is “Turner”… a pun she enjoyed deeply and even referenced when she signed my yearbook.) One morning I waltzed into class, looked her straight in the eye and announced that I was not prepared for our vocabulary quiz that day. I’d had an away field hockey game the night before and we had not returned to campus until much later than usual. I chose to sleep and not study. I expected chastisement. I received a smile… and a chuckle… and a “D” on the quiz. We had an Ivanhoe themed class party that year and I was reminded by a classmate that Liz allowed us to tie her to a stake. She was a character. At graduation I got a hug and I was not alone. I think we all got a hug. Not only did she love teaching; she loved us… each and every one. We went into her class with varying degrees of fear and apprehension. We came out knowing we’d been changed. I, for one, was grateful.

The last time I saw Liz was the summer following my sophomore year of college. I was waiting tables at Shoney’s while going to summer school and trying to find my own feet as an adult. The restaurant was right off the interstate and we were having a particularly difficult and busy night. Standing on the server’s line, I remember putting my head down briefly. When I lifted it up I saw Liz walk past the window. I thought I was dreaming. Of all the places! Driving down I-30 with her new fiancé, Liz had decided she would like a bowl of soup. After last seeing her at RVA graduation in Kijabe, Kenya two years prior… fate led her to my Shoney’s in small town Arkansas. Despite the insanity of the night, I was able to convince my fellow wait staff to split up my tables. I called an RVA classmate who happened to be in the same town, just for the summer, and she drove out to Shoney’s as well. There we sat and we caught up. I was able to share with her my passion for literature and plan to major in English. Her eyes widened and she smiled the biggest smile I had ever seen on her face. Her news? With a new love in her life, Liz was finally getting married at the age of fifty. It was hard, but she had said her goodbyes to Rift Valley Academy. She was gone from campus in body, but I’m quite positive her spirit and legacy remained… just as they will linger strong in the hearts and minds of those of us blessed enough to have called her our teacher.

I am thankful for that last evening I spent with her in a random restaurant booth fifteen years ago. I am thankful I shared that her class had helped inspire me. I do have, however, one regret now that she is gone. As mentioned above, I don’t recall telling her, “Thank you.” I never said the words. I also never told her that she was the single most influential teacher, in a classroom sense, of my pre-university education. It was inferred, perhaps, but never declared. And so, I am telling her now. I have no doubt that she can hear me.

Liz,

I can no other answer make, but, thanks, and thanks. ~William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

You were the best of the best and you will be missed.

Books Breathe Life

I have always been a reader. Books breathe life. My mother, the librarian, never told me there was a book I couldn’t read… a trip I couldn’t take… an adventure I was not ready to experience. I remember there was an uproar at my super-conservative Christian elementary school when my sixth grade teacher, Mr. D., chose to read Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Pit and the Pendulum’ aloud in class. A number of parents did not approve. I know this because my mother was on staff. She was working as an assistant librarian in the school at the time and, if I recall correctly, neither mom nor dad had a negative reaction to this news. Already reading on a higher secondary school level, I’m quite sure I’d read far worse. That introduction to Poe, by the way, started a love affair with the master of macabre that still exists.

Today my “to read” list had become ridiculously out of control. Those books that have been purchased or acquired… are actually mocking me. Single motherhood has taken a toll on this aspect of my life. I present to you Exhibit A:

This, my friends, is just a small sampling (aka: ones that fit in single photograph). Currently, I am reading Hood by
Stephen R. Lawhead and I bought it months ago. Months. I need to get on it because the second and third books in that series are waiting for me to purchase them and be added to the ever-growing stack.

I’m also in the midst of reading the
Fablehaven books by Brandon Mull… out loud to my boys. Yes, I am aware that they are 14 and 9. They read more than a little better than most of their peers, but I enjoy reading to them. They learn about tone and inflection and dramatic pause from listening to me read. We enjoy discovering stories together. The last book we read as a family was the most exquisite Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. We laughed together. We sat in suspense together. We cried together. If you have older children… you should try it.

My personal reading list also suffers a bit of sabotage from a little personal edict I have about reading what my boys are reading so I know what is going into their little minds. Truthfully, they are leaving me behind. I’m not so concerned about Little K, but the teenager is another story. In an effort to keep up I finally shoved 'The Chronicles of Narnia' and 'The Lord of the Rings' in his hands in order to give me a chance to read something other than what he is reading. Tolkien slowed him down… albeit briefly.

I am pleased that my existing want-to-read catalogue is more frivolous (read: brain candy) and less taxing on the mind than usual. Shallow? Maybe. Self preservation would be more accurate. I find terribly deep thoughts tedious lately. There are far too many of them in my life at the moment (Hello, Madame Insomnia) which has forced me to not-so-subconsciously veer away from meatier reading fare. There is only so much one brain can take.

Yes, I am still a reader. I am by no means a great reader. Not any more. It is a luxury. I have not the time to devour novels as I once did. I have to be content with a couple of pages read in the waiting room of the doctor’s office or snuck in during Little K’s soccer practice. I’m sure my reading list will continue to grow, but letter by letter… word by word… chapter by chapter… books will keep me breathing.

I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. ~Anna Quindlen

My Blinding Shabbiness



Nothing I own is new. Well, my TV is new… or it was in 2004 when my then non-working husband chose to purchase the damn thing while I was at work one day instead of paying our mortgage that month. Five years and a divorce later I still have the same television. My salary paid for it. I kept it. Petty and childish, perhaps, but I felt I made an important point.

I was home alone this weekend watching movies when it happened. “You have a lovely home,” someone on my not-so-new television said to someone else whose home he had just entered for the first time. At those very average and commonplace words my head snapped up and I looked around at my apartment. From my do-it-yourself shelving units to my poorly-slip-covered-used-to-belong-to-my-parents couch to my ugly-70’s-I-meant-to-reupholster-thrift-store chairs to my octagonal-hand-me-down-from-someone-at-church dining set… it’s all second hand. My bed is used. My boys’ beds don’t even belong to me. Our dressers or drawer sets are piece-together or acquired from someone else and they don’t match anything. For that matter… nothing matches.

It isn’t the premise of having second hand items that bothers me. I care enough about conserving our planet that I would likely buy a number of used items anyway. It is the lack of choice… freedom… that irks me. I didn’t choose these furniture items. I merely acquired them. And, while I always intended to refinish or recover or paint them in order to bring some order and cohesion, I’ve never had the available funds to do any of those things.

Ditto for my overweight, worn out body and wardrobe that desperately needs major updating. C’est la vie.

And, yes, I have felt shame and embarrassment over these facts.

But, you know what? Those prefabricated bookcases hold Shakespeare and Austen and Blake and Hemingway and Tolkien and art books and poetry books. The shelves hold globes, carvings, memories and mementos from when my wanderlust was once indulged. My used dining room table can tell stories of weekend long board game marathons. Tales of Little K beating his mom and Big K in Monopoly… or Big K besting his mother at Scrabble for the first time would be prevalent.

For that matter… under my worn clothes, non-model appearance and faded optimism is a woman who dropped out of college but is more educated than many a teacher. She reads those classics that live on her bookshelf and learns from the people she encounters every day. She can carry on an intelligent conversation with just about anyone and never feels like she has learned enough in life. Mildly witty, she has a way with words. She has happy children with a thirst for knowledge and an unexplained passion for geography and cultures. They have a multitude of very defined interests and read voraciously.

We don’t have a lot of material possessions. I’m not living in a suburban five bedroom designer house with thousands of dollars worth of designer furniture and electronics and art. But, my apartment is a home and we are happy when we are together.

Don’t let the light of our shabbily adorned love, laughter and worldliness blind you.

“If most of us are ashamed of shabby clothes and shoddy furniture, let us be more ashamed of shabby ideas and shoddy philosophies.... It would be a sad situation if the wrapper were better than the meat wrapped inside it.” ~Albert Einstein

To Love and be Loved (repost) ...

This post is by far my most read entry to date. I should have started tracking how many hits it gets a day. Alas! I did not. I do feel it is time for it to be revisited. I am reposting it as it was originally... having resisted the urge to proofread or make correction. Not easy for me. Enjoy. Read. Answer.


To Love and be Loved is to feel the sun from both sides. ~David Viscott


Do you prefer to Love or be Loved?


It sounds like a relatively simple question. It isn’t. Think about it. Ponder it. Dig deep. Initial reaction is to respond with “a bit of each,” but that doesn’t count. It’s cheating. As humans, we have an inherent nature to do both, but I can guarantee that if you spend enough time in introspection you will discover that your preference does indeed lean in one direction or the other. To Love? To be Loved?

In order to answer the question honestly and with reflection you may find it necessary to do a little research or, at the very least, define Love as you know it. We are bombarded by sources of information daily, hourly, minute-by-minute in our society that claim what Love is and what it can be for you and how to find it. Do me a favor. Pay close attention. Don’t allow yourself to be led astray. Even my favorite location for word knowledge, the dictionary, is not going to help you with this one. Trust me. Look up ‘Love’ in that esteemed tome and you will likely be disappointed. Here is a taste:

Love
-Noun
1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person
2. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child or friend
3. sexual passion or desire

No wonder we’re all screwed up. There are a myriad of definitions for ‘Love’ in the dictionary but not one of them comes close to how I perceive it. First of all, ‘Love’ is a verb (not a noun) and the only definition given as such within the dictionary (without an object) is, “to have Love or affection for another person; be in Love.” Oh yeah! That’s a big help. Love is a choice. It can be created. To be able to create something is a powerful action. It isn’t simply about affection, feelings, passion and desire. In true Christian fashion (because some things are just ingrained) I flipped from the page that defined ‘Love’ to the word ‘Agape’ just to see what it said. I skipped past the “Love of God for humankind” part and to the relevant definition: unselfish Love of one person for another without sexual implications. Well, it is closer. I know. I know. Right about now you are referencing I Corinthians 13 in your head, aren’t you? Yeah. Me too.

Back to the initial question: Do you prefer to Love or to be Loved?

Me? I’m a Lover. Why? It’s simple. I’m a coward. It’s easier to Love. It’s far simpler for me to give Love. What? It’s true. As long as I’m giving of my Love than the focus is on the individual who is receiving the Love … not me. Mother Teresa once said, “The success of Love is in the Loving – it is not in the result of Loving. Of course it is natural in Love to want the best for the other person, but whether it turns out that way or not does not determine the value of what we have done.” To me, the relationship my ultimately fail, but if I give of myself … if I Love as I know I can Love … then my Love has had value. It has meant something to someone.

Those individuals who can answer with 100% honesty that they prefer to be Loved are much braver than I. Robert Frost wrote, “Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.” There is some truth in that. We all want to be Loved. However, to truly allow someone to Love you all barriers have to be dropped. Walls must be broken down. You must allow yourself to be vulnerable. I detest my vulnerability. Again, I am a coward. I don’t like to let people in. I am worn out. I am tired. I am jaded. I have been hurt one too many times. I have misjudged what Love really is one too many times. Ultimately, my inability to let those who would Love me into the deepest core of my being will result in my loss. Who knows what I will miss because I allowed myself to be caught in the ‘Illusion of Love’ too often.

Deepak Chopra penned the following on http://www.intentblog.com/:

“Part of success is not becoming caught in life’s illusions. A fool for Love …

To create a fantasy and fall in Love with it is folly, to become trapped in an illusion, in Love with your own projection. It also makes one vulnerable to those that would fuel it. Soon reality impedes upon the illusion, crumbling it, and one becomes distraught and who you thought they were, was only in your mind, or what one thought was, is not. I guess the desire to be in Love can blind one to reality. Better to not create a fantasy and live in the present being aware of those that would feed the fictions in your mind. Most relationships are really just an illusion.”


Do you prefer to Love?
“Because when we Love, we always strive to become better than we are.”
~Paulo Coelho

Do you prefer to be Loved?
“You never lose by loving. You always lose by holding back.”
~Barbara DeAngelis

You decide.

“Love is as much of an object as an obsession, everybody wants it everybody seeks it, but few ever achieve it. Those who do will cherish it, be lost in it, and among all, will never … never forget it.” ~Unknown

“You know when I said I knew little about Love? That wasn't true. I know a lot about Love. I've seen it, centuries and centuries of it, and it was the only thing that made watching your world bearable. All those wars. Pain, lies, hate... It made me want to turn away and never look down again. But when I see the way that mankind Loves... You could search to the furthest reaches of the universe and never find anything more beautiful. So yes, I know that Love is unconditional. But I also know that it can be unpredictable, unexpected, uncontrollable, unbearable and strangely easy to mistake for loathing, and... What I'm trying to say, Tristan is... I think I Love you. Is this Love, Tristan? I never imagined I'd know it for myself. My heart... It feels like my chest can barely contain it. Like it's trying to escape because it doesn't belong to me any more. It belongs to you. And if you wanted it, I'd wish for nothing in exchange - no fits. No goods. No demonstrations of devotion. Nothing but knowing you Loved me too. Just your heart, in exchange for mine.” ~Stardust, Film (2007)

Fire and Ice


Nobody in this house will ever be comfortable.

I used to be a human thermometer. In a world where half the women are perpetually freezing and the other half are burning up… I seemed to be a constant. My office has five such women. Somebody is always too cold. Somebody is always too hot. The gentleman in charge of regulating the heat and air conditioning throughout the building used to poke his head into the office and wait for me to give him thumbs up or thumbs down. Thumbs up = It’s comfortable in here. Thumbs down = Come on in and ask me if it is too hot or too cold, because it is one of those things, but don’t listen to the crazy ladies who are arguing. I have the truth. It has been this way for three years.

No longer.

My internal thermostat is broken. Monday, at work, I thought a blizzard was blowing in. So cold. I was the only one and it was extremely strange. Why? Usually it is the polar (no pun intended) opposite. Oh, I’m not having hot flashes. We can rule out that theory, I think. Sorry for bringing it up boys, but nothing would make me happier then for that to happen. That equipment isn’t being used anyway. I had it all fixed (twice, long story) nine years ago. I will rejoice the day my ovaries shut down. No, generally I am HOT. All. The. Time. To me, being hot is far preferable to being cold but I am particularly warm after about 2030 in the evening… much to the dismay of my children.

I am fire. They are ice.

How I gave birth to two of the most cold-natured children on planet earth is beyond me. It makes sense with Big K. There is no meat there. Bones clatter. Little K, though, is thick and muscular; however, he radiates heat. I can feel the fire coming off the boy a foot or two away. The only logical explanation is that he is giving off heat so quickly that his body is unable to retain any of its own warmth. I’m hot. My kids are cold. So, I’ve turned the thermostat down farther than I normally like to keep it ($$) and yet not as far down as I WANT to turn it in order to be happy. I don’t get cool enough for me to be perfectly comfortable, but the boys are cold enough that they wander around in long sleeves or wrapped in blankets.

See? No one in this house will ever be comfortable.

Fire and Ice
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
~Robert Frost


I'd like to thank the Zombie Academy...

I … am a recipient of: The Zombie Chicken Award. I received this honor from the lovely joemmamma, book blogger extraordinaire!


"The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the Zombie Chicken-- excellence, grace, and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all."

I now have the honor and incredibly difficult task of passing the baton. With sincerity, silliness and a lot of bwahahahahaha, I hereby bestow this award on the following:

Caffeinated Librarian
In a moment of poor timing for me, the Caffeinated Librarian blog is temporarily out of service. You know we bloggers... sometimes it just has to happen. CL is a lover of the zombie and, therefore, the natural choice for such a prestigious honor! Alas!

Nurturing Narcissism
There is much awesomeness here in Melain’s world!

So About What I Said…
What were the words I once used to describe Melissa? Ah, yes… I said she was searching for love with wit and whimsy. Thank God someone is not jaded!

A Life Less Ordinary
Finn!! From her words to her photography… I am awed by her honesty and her artistry.

Simply Dori
Kindred spirit ~o~ mine, she is.

As fun as Zombie Chickens can be, I leave you with this thought:

“Would that there were an award for people who come to understand the concept of enough. Good enough. Successful enough. Thin enough. Rich enough. Socially responsible enough. When you have self-respect, you have enough.” ~Gail Sheehy

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