Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tonight's the night the world begins again ...

Long post warning! 

I’m taking (another) break from Freud and sucking on a hot-pink candy cane. Kindle un-downloaded it again and I lost all my notes, making me most irritated. After re-downloading, I had to take a break when I started over thinking the candy cane consumption. Honestly. Is there a reason to second-guess why I prefer starting on the non-hooked end and working toward the hook? Am I repressing my inner kink? Really, the only deep dark secret I have is my HUGE woman crush on Adele. I would so switch teams to date her. My gosh. I would like to invite you to take a second to consider the SKILL that this woman has, her growth from ‘19’ and ‘Chasing Pavements’ to her heartrending ‘21’ and ‘Someone Like You’. Her cover of Bonnie Rait’s ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’ gives me the chills. ‘Save the Best For Last’ and ‘Make You Feel My Love’ rock my world. ‘21’ has been my personal theme album since about August.  I distantly remember scaring a young man by singing ‘Best for Last’ over and over in his car, like a type of hymn or a prayer.  It was simple and perfect. Additionally, the woman has soul and metal plated lady-balls. In an interview she had this amazing quote when someone asked her about her appearance –

Just wow. Maybe I’m less than 85% straight after all.

Christmas questing is a fun adventure, but is hard work. I have driven hither and yon and now I’m at LindyFocus after all the holiday hoopla, staying in a hotel room with dancers far more talented then me, as usual. The thing that kept me going on the road yesterday was driving with the radio WAY up. I jump between stations like a pro – starting with NPR as my default, and changing to Top 40 or Country when they start losing my interest or hit a commercial. I sing loudly in my car and drum on the steering wheel. I love my car for its confessional-esqe quality. I can yell at myself, sing with anger, vent, plan, argue, and rehash the day’s events – all in the most privacy I think most non-carpooling adults can get.

Christmas with the Ellis/Waddell side of the family was perfectly peachy, other than a car being broken into at the catering store, falling off of the sofa, and general unease. However, some wine time and giggles later, we were all able to relax and fall into the holiday. And open presents. I love it when people love the presents I give them! I think almost everyone was excited about his or her gifts – Pappy was excited about his sriracha and Nanna was thrilled about her toothpaste (she really loves this particular type, and I gave her other things too). And did I ever get spoiled – my dragonish nature was thrilled with some new necklaces – including one that Nanna has had for years and wanted me to have (super special). I also got a cool way to display them in my room – a necklace tree. And Andi gave me a book that may be the only thing to push me through my current book. It’s taking me forever to digest. But I am going to finish it, and my new book will be waiting! I book nerded out when I got it!

Christmas with the Crouse clan is always an involved affair – first the Christmas Eve family reunion where there is a meet and greet with the relatives you 'know’ but aren’t too close to, the questions about your job, your relationships, why you aren't married, when you will have children, and avoiding inappropriately flirty kin. There’s so much food the tables seem to groan under the weight. The next day there is a huge Christmas dinner, the house is always over-filled. Then the presents, last item of the day, are handed out and unwrapped in frenzy of paper and bows.  I got some perfume I love, lip balms, and some lovely fuzzy socks.

The entertainment for the occasion was  ‘I Love Lucy’ and ‘Big Bang Theory’. Dad nearly turned purple at some of the physics jokes (although he did not like being called an Oompa Loompa of science), and Grandot loved the ‘I Love Lucy’ DVDs I got her. Dad did inform me that if indeed Dr. Sheldon Cooper existed, no matter my dating track record, I was not to bring him home to meet the family. EVER. I think part of his problem is the difficulty he has seeing the eccentricities our family already has in huge quantities.

I have major problems with noise, as anyone who knows me well is aware. I really can’t deal with being yelled at or being around things that are obnoxiously loud for long periods of time unless I am allowed a beer to settle me out a bit (hence my problem with Newspring, very loud and no bar). Christmas always tries my patience, due to the noisiness in the two families – Dad’s side due to deafness and both parties feeling the need to shout, and Pappy’s Fox News obsession on mom’s side. It also means I have to yell. I don’t like to yell. It makes me feel irritated and … mean. Especially when I have to yell at older people. Even to say hello. Yelling brings back painful memories of others and myself in less then ‘perfect’ situations. It also makes me feel like I’m being irrational. So I tend to be quiet in Elkin, so I don’t yell or clash.  Sometimes being around certain family members makes me feel the need to code-switch – but more of a persona code-switch then a linguistic one. There are different expectations and beliefs and I just don’t seem to quite fit the space they had carved out for me anymore. The mere THOUGHT or JOKE of me getting a tattoo sends the family at large into a kerfuffle.

Needless to say, being in Elkin with no WiFi for miles and miles and nothing but cows has been restful, in a way. I like being with my ‘people’ to relax. And an adult beverage doesn’t hurt. LindyFocus is a bit trying as well, even for a extrovert like me, mostly because the sheer number of people and trying to make myself fit somewhere and know enough people comfortably to impose my mediocre dancing on them.

In other news …

This isn’t a New Year’s post – it just happens to coincide somewhat with the resolution-making season. I was going through an old college journal (when I actually wrote with pen and paper everyday – heavens!) And found a half-finished ‘25 things to do before 26’ list. Obviously, I giggled a little, but then I looked at some of the things I had and had not accomplished since I originally undertook the writing of the list. I have edited, updated, and have decided to give myself a formal deadline for accomplishing the following 25 items.  Goals are always good things, and I can’t wait to see how far I get on this list, and if I can actually finish it.

1. Get a tattoo
            Really, this is a matter of committing to one of the MANY ideas that I have in my head … and designing it. I have several ideas for placement, and color, and I just need to pick my first.  Some days I think I have it set – and then I get a new idea or see something fabulous on Pinterest. My top two are literature related – one is a snippet from a Dr. Suess book and another is a snippet from Jane Austen. Also, I have to hide it from my family for the rest of my life. At least the grandparents.

2. Run a 5k
            I’ve wanted to do this since I was 16, and I’ve never actually signed up and run it, although I’m sure I could. Was cancelled, being rescheduled.

3. Run a 10k
            Same as above, but twice as hardcore. And I’ve registered. Zod help me. Wimped out. Rescheduling.

4. Donate hair to Locks of Love
            I have never been able to get my hair long enough to do this. I figure with another year of growth, I’ll have enough hair to not be totally bald after 10 inches gets taken off. This mostly involves me learning to be patient then any other major feat.

5. Go to a movie alone
            Sounds silly, but I’ve never actually done it. I usually just wait for the DVD.  Did it! Completely cheesy movie, and did it to kill time on a day off. Wasn't that bad. Will do again. It was really NBD. Why did I wait so long?

6. Have good pictures taken (personal, not necessarily boudoir)
            There are maybe 3 pictures in existence of ME that I really like. I just am not photogenic. I am tired of family displaying TERRIBLE photos of me and un-tagging FaceBook photos constantly. I never had a ‘senior’ session either. A friend said a boudoir session would be fun for me, especially after I finish my 10K. I’m not too sure. However; I will get some nice photos done, that I’m proud of. I may wear normal clothing. I may wear lace. Who knows!

7. Own and wear at least one piece of pretty, nice lingerie
            I may not need a bustier, but gosh-darn-it, I want one, and I want to wear it. I have bought brides pretty lacey things. My turn. Maybe a corset?

8. Maintain a blog with some regularity
            Working on this one, obviously.

9. Wear a 2 piece at the beach without a cover-up

10. Read 25 banned books
            I picked these. You can research why they were banned, if you’re curious. I found I’ve read more than I had imagined already, thanks to my PCA education and my stubbornness.
            Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor
            Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
            As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
            Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
            The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty by A.N. Roquelaure
            The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
            Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
            Howl by Allen Ginsberg
            The Last of the Wine by Mary Renault
            Lysistrata by Aristophanes
            Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
            Things Your Father Never Taught You by Robert Masullo
            Waco: The Davidian Massacre by Carol Moore
            And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
            Beloved by Toni Morrison
            Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
            The Awakening by Kate Chopin
            Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence
            Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs
            The Wish Giver by Bill Brittain
            Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
            Always Running by Luis J. Rodriguez
            Revolutionary Voices edited by Amy Sonnie
            The Color Purple by Alice Walker
            Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

11. Yoga
            Ever since my doomed class, I’ve been afraid to go back. I will conquer this fear. And I will become a flexible goddess of the downward dog.  EPIC!

12. Pole Dancing
            I have always wanted to take a few classes. Have you ever seen how athletic and graceful people who use this dance as an art form are? I saw it on America’s Got Talent (guilty pleasure of Julie’s) and have been fascinated with the idea of trying it ever since. There are some places that offer fitness classes in Greenville. LW and JL seem down ...

13. Choreograph and film a dance routine
            I want to be able to pull up a decent video of me swing/blues/whatever dancing on YouTube and say – Look, I don’t suck!

14. Improve my accuracy with my firearm

15.  Cook for and pull off a dinner party for 8 or more
            I don’t have the space in my townhouse for this, but I’ve always admired my aunt’s ability to pull off a cloth napkin affair for our big family with no major panic on her part. I want to be able to do it as well. I will have to do some major brainstorming to figure this one out. Maybe someone will let me borrow their kitchen for my birthday?

16. Give up caffeine for a month
            It will suck. But I really need to detox and see if I can function without it. I’m thinking a summer month. SO did it. SO over it. Love my coffee. Drink it black now, mostly.

17. Go on a vacation with a group of friends
            Even if it is only for a weekend at the beach or a road trip to the mountains, the goal is a multi-night, non-catastrophic stay. With photographic evidence. Dance events do not count, after I gave it some thought.

18.  Complete a home improvement project on my own (or with help from ONLY the Lowes guys)
            I will reject help. I will make the improvement. It will be awesome. I pity the man or woman who tries to tell me otherwise. This does NOT apply to painting. Painting is meant to be done in a party-type way.

19.  Play a sport for fun
            Team sports freaked me out as a kid, and still do to some extent. I want to actually have fun playing a ‘sport’ and not panic about the score too much. Or my total lack of skill.

20.  Find my signature cocktail
            I will be a more creative bartender and will expand my repertoire – and find the cocktails that I love to order. Yay Pinterest for getting me started.

21.  Go to LEAF
            I love it, and I forget to schedule it before it gets obscenely expensive. My friends aren’t typically into this type of geekery either, which makes it more difficult for me to find people to go with, but I will balls up and go alone if I need to. Mmmmm, LEAF.

22.  Go to a Ren Faire
            Always loved the idea, but have never been brave enough to actually go.

23. Draft a grant proposal
            Had to throw something intellectually difficult on the list, right?

24. Start and COMPLETE a piece of artwork/craft
            Finishing is the difficult part.

25. Be entirely debt free
            Not that it’s too much – but I want to have the knowledge that I paid it down and took it over myself.

Extra Credit videos - 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

... Come on-a my house, my house, I’m gonna give you candy …

Tuesday was a bizarre kind of day. We had the ‘office party’ at work and my sherry cream brownies were a hit (thankfully) so I was able to get rid of the remainder of a pan – now I only have a half a pan left over of the two I made last week. Thank heavens. Those things are dangerous to have around the house for too long! I actually gave the last bit of one to a co-worker to feed to her three grown sons over the holidays and will be bringing my other leftovers to another teacher tomorrow. I won a pair of cozy socks and was able to eat yummy food made by the amazing cooks here. Some of the food is just too good to get the recipe for. I would never eat healthy food again!

I then did some Christmas window shopping, tried to acquire a hat that didn’t make me look completely crazy and odd (mission resulted in failure and will be resumed on Thurs) and got ready to go dancing. I also was able to chat with some people on the phone to catch up – it is the season of the Christmas grovels and the awkward ‘thinking of you’ phone calls, of course. While changing clothes in my car in a shopping center (like a boss!), I got some sad phone calls and text messages, which concerned me, but I had no real way of helping the person over the phone. I decided to try to get back in the mood to dance, and moseyed over to the Handlebar.

I love my bartender at the Handlebar. He knows what I want, and remembers me no matter how much of a lapse there is between visits. Gary is a delight. I walked in and wanted to pay for my dance ticket at the bar and ended up with my usual shot of bourbon and some conversation as well. Swell guy. Make sure you leave him an awesome tip if you ever drink there.

As for the dancing – holy high-schoolers, Batman!  I was distracted with friend-situations, so I didn’t dance much, but I felt old. Some of these kiddos were so young! I just couldn’t get into it as much as I normally did. So I danced a little and went home early-ish. When I got home, the coroner’s ambulance was outside my house (Is it an ambulance or a morgue on wheels? Does anyone know the right term?) along with the police and some firemen and someone very official looking with a clipboard - and I panic. Not for any sane reason but because there was a dead person in a van in front of my house. So I went to Wal-Mart. I walked around in a daze. And then I went home and went to sleep and dreamed a freaky-weird little dream. Now, I’m no expert, but the combination of stress and dead people and reading about Freud and dream analysis may have brought this on. It probably has no ‘real’ meaning other then I should go to bed earlier. But it was vivid and strange, so I will share.

I dreamed that I was asleep and that I woke up. I was wearing some amazing pink silk pajamas (key indicator that it was a dream, because I don’t own any awesome silk pajamas, pink or otherwise). I also had a tattoo I’d been wanting for awhile. I was sleeping on my back then I got up and went to look out my window. All of a sudden there were big pink silk polka dots on the floor with a red ring around the edge. I was somewhat concerned, but pulled back the blinds instead of looking closely at the dots. I was in space. Possibly in geocentric orbit around the earth (not too sure) but I was looking out my window into the ‘final frontier’. I became somewhat annoyed, and I felt like my entire back side of my body was on fire. So I turned around and looked at my bed. It was comprised completely of blue drinking glasses with sharp edges. Glasses with an opening the same size as the pink silk polka dots on the floor. Then this weird voice came booming through the room and said “Test status - failure. Subject remains. Continue with prescribed method.” I muttered under my breath, noticed my coffeemaker was gone, and decided I needed to shower. I got to my bathroom, ran the water, and hopped in the shower, which had saltwater coming out of it instead of regular. Circular patches of skin fell off when I showered but healed right up when the water rinsed them. I was getting nauseated looking at my skin dots in the drain when I woke up.

My first reaction was a panicked flail toward the window to make sure I wasn’t in space. What the heck?
Then of course I was late to work and had some iffy experiences throughout the day resulting in some overall ‘meh’ moments. But mostly, just bummed that it was Wednesday and that the day was SO LONG. My evening was great, once I got off work and was able to get my stuff sorted out.

Today I actually has a great morning and got to work on time. I was also extremely giddy because we had our school musical and a sing along. I got to wear my fuzzy Grinch pajamas and watch the classic ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ on my desktop as I did paperwork. I love that movie! I’m just thrilled it finally feels like Christmas.

This afternoon I will be attempting to get coffee with someone and do all my Christmas shopping in less than 3 hours. Overachiever? Maybe!

Extra Credit Videos - Friendship Algorithm and Rock Paper Scissors (Lizard Spock). ENJOY!

Monday, December 12, 2011

... here lies a man that said what he meant - a heart of gold and a head of cement ...

QotD - "Sometimes you forget, I'm a lady. And, with that comes an estrogen-fueled need to page through thick glossy magazines that make me hate my body.” Amy F. Fowler, Big Bang Theory

So, my update schedule proves that everyday blogging will not be a trial you will have to endure, at least for the rest of this week. Over the break, I can’t readily say what I will be in the mood for. But, I will not be huddled in my room under blankets the whole time! I have broken the roommate stalemate – I have finally turned on the heat in the house! Well, at least on my floor, as I am not (yet) ballsy enough to simply rule both thermostats with a fist of iron. But honestly, 64 degrees Fahrenheit is not an unreasonable temperature for the inside of a home in the wintertime. It’s much easier to get out of bed when you don’t feel like you’ll freeze in the cold dark whilst dressing. I wish the sun came up at 5am every day. I am so much more productive in the summer, when the sun rises earlier and stays up longer – when the sky is dark when I’m waking up I drag all day and want to sleep as soon as I get home. I’m very “the sun has gone to bed and so must I …” at times.

I have been very busy over the past while, dancing in a parade (listening to the same obnoxiously cheery Christmas song 58 times), doing lots of baking, hosting parties, going to parties, cleaning my house, and avoiding shopping like the plague until the 15th, which is when I get my paycheck. Then I will try to get it all done in one day and be finished and wrapped (least favorite part) by the next. I have been quietly plotting who gets what, it is merely actually following through on my prearranged plan. I’m rather proud. Maybe my pre-holiday meltdown has caused me to compartmentalize just enough. I still maintain that I’d rather bake a lot of cookies, pass them out, and call it a day. Presents make holidays complicated.

I also have been plotting for Lindy Focus. The first way has been actually getting to the gym and working out a lot so I won’t die of muscle-overuse, because last year I felt like I might! I actually will use the week of the 19th to get morning and evening workouts in, every day (up til the 24th, of course). The other is that I have let out my inner OCD tendencies and have made a (to date) 27 point checklist (counting only the major points) of what I have to do to be ‘ready’ for the vacation. It makes me a little happier every time I see it, and actually makes me feel like I won’t forget something essential this Christmas/NYE. I also have been scoping out my schedule … it is amazing! I may get some sleep! One day I don’t have class til 2pm, and I’m wondering what I should take as my ‘extras’ on Field Day. Should I attend the lecture on the ‘Origins of Modern Lindy Hop’ or the one on ‘Less Known Dance Histories’? Take in the vintage accessories workshop? Learn about vintage hair and makeup? Or just do a lot of practicing? I am spoiled for choices!

I saw a friend from AGES ago (Ruth, my BFF in elementary school) and was actually pleased when I realized that she and I had changed, but in an abnormal sort of parallel way. While neither one of us was quite what we had thought we would be at our very pious, pure, and idealistic 14 year old stage, we have become rather reasonable adults who are living full (if at times dramatic) lives. It’d be funny if we could co-write a blog filled with some of our more ‘hilarious’ misadventures. While she has the adventure of the big city and distance from her home turf, I think the little world I’ve landed in is just-Goldilocks-right for me at the moment. Which means, of course, it’s about to change so fast my head will twirl. C'est la vie.

I feel victorious, because I have fought with my Macbook and won – I was unable to read my Kindle book because of an OS problem and now I have reinstalled an old version of Kindle and I have all my books back, including the one about Freud and Jung! The book is making for slow going, but it’s actually making me quite thoughtful. I didn’t know any of the information before, so I shouldn’t be surprised that I’m being slowed down. I also figured out that the movie is extremely limited release, so no one needs to be terrified that I’ll drag them to the movie until after the 2nd, at least. Apparently, it’s rather common knowledge that Freud was sleeping with his wife’s sister, and the theme for sleeping with your sister’s wife was all throughout literature and being studied rather widely across academic circle for that time period. I also am just beginning to touch on Spielrein’s ‘Siegfried’ complex. It’s becoming quite clear that both Jung and Freud were rather flawed people, but very strangely invested in each other – to the point of keeping some rather dark secrets. I have also just been ‘introduced’ to Karl Abraham, the student that will replace Jung as the ‘favorite’ when Jung begins to question some major points in Freud’s theories. Learning is fun!

New must see movie ... the newest Sherlock Holmes. Comes out on the 16th!

I have, for the present, given up on the hope of ever finding an appropriate red lipstick. It took another botch up at a friend’s party (she had such a lovely color on, I just had to try again) and he gentle sigh of ‘red just isn’t your color – let’s do copper’ to cement the cruel fact in my head. Oh well. I’ll find a way to be vintage-y without. At least my hair is wavy enough to where I don’t have to learn how to do pincurls, which saves a ton of time when I attempt to replicate a look. And red or not, my lips are amazing and fantastic. To date, I have yet to hear any complaints.

Off to trivia tonight ... hopefully we will be as awesome as we were last week.

Extra credit video - Hello! - Book of Mormon

Monday, December 5, 2011

… please keep coming around ...

I both love and hate Christmas. It’s a complicated thing, like a relationship status on Facebook. I spent the majority of my week last week (which was full of silly adventures I may mention later) dealing with the fact that I suddenly no longer know what to feel about the holidays.

Yesterday was my breaking point, and it wasn’t pretty.

I went into town to get ready for my Christmas parade and went to Ulta to try and find vintage red lipstick. This is where my day started going unpleasant places in a hand basket (like Azkaban, Mirkwood Forest, Mordor, Moria, Snape’s potions lab, Boo Radley’s house, or Miami).

First off, I looked like this when I walked out.

The initial shock and humor was obvious, I looked like a clown-fish. Yes, those are my real lips! The orange shirt didn’t help, I'm sure. I even posted a photo to Facebook and Twitter. I made it to Old Navy and got something pink (a separate discussion altogether) for the parade. And then for no reason, I got hit with a wave of ‘I cannot cope’. It may have been the text about me having my mother’s lips, or the realization that the tenant situation is not going away. So I began to pick at the things I could ‘control’, extra points for trivia, evening plans, bills … and all these things started failing and or blowing up. I even got a very nice invitation that I handled EXTREMELY poorly due to sheer rising panic.

I grabbed my shoes and headed to the gym and thought I’d be able to get through the day with at least not making an ass of myself – and managed to lose it, via text message, on the way. At least it was to my brother and he knew that I was prone to this nonsense. So I headed into the gym, holding back tears, straight to the cardio room with the movie screen. I jogged, walked, biked, cried in a somewhat controlled fashion, and alternately watched/ignored a good chunk of Bridesmaids (for the 3rd time that week).

Isak Dinesen was onto something when he said “The cure for everything is salt water: sweat, tears, and the sea.” I was emotionally spent. So much so that I dealt with ‘family matters’ in my apartment (My 30 year old roommate cannot seem to understand that someone who claims to be coming to Clemson for their PH.D. from the UK should have some grasp of the English language, and have a means of payment that sounds reasonable) with a reasonable amount of grace and poise. I looked at my grungy, post-workout self, and went somewhere I knew I could go anytime without judgment. Auntie Joyce’s. We went to Ruby Tuesdays, she tried to set me up with the bartender (poor man, I looked and smelled horrible), and I obsessed over various minutiae, as usual. She made me laugh at myself, I bought her 91 year old mother a milkshake and dinner from Cookout, and we all watched Harry Potter on TV. She told me she hated Christmas, it was ok to hate holidays, and why on earth was I apologizing for crying, and I had better call my friend up right then because life was too short for people you love to think you’re an ass.

When I got home, I stared at the ceiling and started working through the things that rose like a tidal wave inside me today.

It went something like this - Thanksgiving is a lovely neutral holiday. I love the togetherness, warmth, sharing of love and general good feelings about the universe and life. I love the lack of expectation of gifts, and (except Black Friday) the general lack of commercial feel about the holiday. New Year’s is another one of my favorites - an excuse to get excited about new beginnings, drink yummy things, and make big fires and/or watch sparkly things explode. There’s also obligatory kissing, dancing and remembering where you have been and how to get to where you want to be. On the other hand, Valentine’s Day is an area littered with relational minefields and is slightly on the ridiculous side. If you want to make someone feel loved, give them flowers on a random Tuesday. Is it really necessary to make fancy dinner reservations, get all dressed up, and drink champagne on just one night of the year? Completely commercial. Easter, mostly so. Egg-laying bunnies for tortured, dying Jesus? I’ve never got it.

And then there’s Christmas. It’s all about money and buying and presents and parties and Handel and Jesus and tradition and Santa and … I just get overwhelmed thinking about it. Everyone has such strong feelings tied to it. I’m getting weird looks for wanting to go to a dance camp after Christmas and because I am not doing over-the-top Christmas ‘things’. I won’t mind watching holiday movies with you, or hearing the Christmas story, or even listening to the Andrew Peterson ‘Begats’ song (a personal favorite). But honestly, the religious attachments to Christmas have faded for me. This may shock some of you who remember the pageant that I was in many years ago and was a very quiet, humble Mary. I do still love the hymns and music of Christmas as my family celebrated it, but beyond that I have very little nostalgia attached to rituals and events with religious affiliation. I’d rather just hand out tokens of affection/remembrance, cozy up with nice people, and drink mulled wine with an awesome fire in the fireplace. Feel free to celebrate with your dreidels, menorahs, advent rings, nativities, chubby reverse thieves and so on. I’m just trying to make Christmas sane, meaningful, and survivable in a world that turns it into a commercial, preachy holiday that ends up empty after the presents are gone. I think I’m getting better at defining it for myself as years go by. In my mind, it’s akin to Thanksgiving – a time to spread the love a little, by giving others some of the things you think they’d appreciate.

This brings me to why I’m dancing in a parade tonight instead of becoming saner around people I love and like at trivia. I over-commit. Also, thought it might be good practice for Lindy Focus. Neither of those reasons seems to stand up to scrutiny. Tonight I will be wearing pink and rockin’ ‘round the Christmas tree while likely avoiding horse poop, Tootsie Pops, and people yelling “Jesus is the reason for the season!”. At least my (hot pink) skirt twirls really well.

And for the love of Pete, don’t get me started on pink-washing. 

And a video for pondering/extra credit -
Kinda makes you think, a little.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

... baggage claim ...

Trivia was, as always, delightful. I love the people, I love the challenge and camaraderie, I love the fact that my random pack-rat brain can occasionally be used to my advantage, I love our nice wait-staff … I just love Monday nights. Although we have lost a formidable teammate to the ‘barren wastelands’ of sunny Florida, we have gained a new male teammate via our other female teammate getting engaged. And the engagement ring is HUGE. The verdict isn’t in yet, but he may be able to help us make up for the loss of our engineer. But he has also added the distraction of a HUGE SHINY THING at our table. And they are also spending just the appropriate proportion of time being giggly and cute and adorable, which is also kind of distracting. But hey, love is beautiful and I’m not complaining!

I got to see Wall-E for the first time last night. I think my older brother had pity on me and my strange mood and decided it was also a convenient night for movie watching. As a lover of kid’s movies in general, how had I missed this gem? It was perfect. Really perfect. As an early literacy nerd, the simplicity of the visuals and the lack of unneeded dialogue reminded me of No, David! and other books where children story-tell to themselves, creating a world full of their own rich conversations and contextual importance. The character development was fantastic, the artwork was beautiful and accessible to children and adults, and while ‘UP!’ rivals it for adult application and enjoyment, Wall-E did make me think. I also said wonderfully brainy things such as ‘OH, look – Wall-E became a people!” to my brother, being so completely happy and charmed with the movie that I forgot to speak like a rational adult.

***Spoiler alert (if anyone else is as behind the times as me) and nerdiness - I have two complaints with the film … one being the fact that the plant survived being pulled out of Wall-E while he was in outer space. It is, in fact, a little nitpicky issue with a children’s film, especially with all the other impossibilities in the film. But I nearly squealed NOOOOOO aloud when I saw the plant in outer space, because I cared quite deeply for that little lima bean plant. I’m not sure why I thought it was a lima bean plant. Did anyone else instantly assume a lima bean plant? The second was more of a pondering then a problem – if we assume the original three Asimov robotics laws, could the robots (most notably Auto, his little hench-bots, and whichever ones kept feeding the people so much spam) have done what they did in the film? Obviously, the robots knew they were robots and were not pretending to not be robots, so any discussion of the ‘fourth’ and ‘fifth’ laws is unneeded***

I have done something I have been avoiding for a while and have actually laced up my shoes and gotten to the gym to ‘run’. I’ve been walking or wandering or playing about, but I have realized a lot of the icky nasty feelings I get with the lack of sun are also due to the lack of activity. Also, running helps me mentally houseclean. I literally run away from my problems (for a while). Being the weirdo I am, I put all of the issues chasing themselves around in my brain on a post-it note, and then put the post-it at the rear of the treadmill. And then I run (or, if the steam runs out, walk) until the things on the post-it can be dealt with in a rational manner. Some days I can have a long list and it will take about 30 minutes to reach mental equilibrium. One day I had one item on my note, and I was on the treadmill for 2 hours. After about an hour and some weights, I had dealt with my list and was headed home to bathe before some much-needed Auntie Joyce Time. I was so happy I was practically skipping. Hooray endorphins!

And then, as soon as I got home, my post-it got a major item for tomorrow. But that’s life, there’s a lot of it yet to come and this is a drop in the bucket. If that.  And in a strange way it makes me think – I had to tell someone today to just ask me for what they needed and I would do it. Isn’t that what people need to remind me to do as well, on occasion?

And nothing makes you feel better than a grandmotherly old northerner telling you that you handled a situation quite well, and that you were growing lady-balls.

Monday, November 28, 2011

... storm warning ...

Wow. No post Sunday because Sundays are usually my ‘unplug, relax, unwind’ day. I usually use Sundays as a day to fill up my ‘love list’ and reflect on all the lovely things that I get to see and experience. This Sunday that didn’t quite happen.

The toilet happened. As one of my somewhat dramatic friends put it, the EXPLODING TOILET. No actual explosions, of course. A simple, $5 dollar fix. One piece from Lowe’s. No big deal. But it started an itch in my brain that is hard to scratch. The one that makes me question homeownership. For example – I need to re-carpet the whole townhouse, from stem to stern. It needed new carpet when I moved in a few years ago. Carpet isn’t cheap. Neither are any other flooring options. I do not have the funds to carpet the house. And it needs doing. But I’m not very motivated to do it, because to be honest, carpet is boring. Touch up paint – easy. I can do that over break. But then there’s the kitchen …sigh. I have PICKLED PINE (so ugly) cabinets, blueish strange Formica countertops, and odd brownish floors. With the dingy white paint, the inner decorator in me has been having a fit. So, I should paint. BUT no one color goes with all these odd shades. And I can paint the cabinets, but that leaves the counter tops and the ugly flooring. And I can’t pay for the flooring, so that means I have to fix the countertops somehow. But I can’t PAINT the countertops like I’ve seen on Pinterest because they are KITCHEN countertops with heat and knives and needing to be bleached multiple times daily. And even if I repaint, what will protect the back-splash? So what started as a hypothetically simple paint job has now turned into a desire to re-countertop and decoratively backsplash my kitchen. Which I can’t do. Because I need carpet. Boring gray carpet. Being a grownup makes my head hurt.

After being irritated at life, the universe, and everything for a few moments, I picked myself off my butt, dusted myself off, and proceeded to endeavor to make my day awesome. And I succeeded somewhat, with some Winnie the Pooh and conversations about undergarments with my roommate. And some odd scifi television.

Fast forward to today - setting the alarm to pm, waking up an hour late, bad hair day, Monday, rain, being off-kilter at work, sticking my foot so far in my mouth it ... well. 

As I sit here in Coffee & Crema, after finishing a worksheet off the clock, staring off into the dreary (very British) rain, sipping my really caffeinated beverage, I began to wonder how much of my tendency to try and love on people is really me being outwardly affectionate and how much is a way for me to compartmentalize by fixing other people’s woes. I can shove almost any feeling away when I have another person’s problems on my back – and it makes me feel more settled and less awkward. People also almost unilaterally accept people who fix problems, so why not be a cuddler, a problem solver, a fixer? This seems to go well, unless I do the quintessentially Liz thing of doing something ungracious, selfish, pig-headed, and just foot-in-mouth-worthy. Like today at work, last night with a friend, this morning on the phone. For some reason, I hate thinking that I give people less-than-perfect moments.  Which may be why when I finally have to face things that bother me, I collapse and have a ‘give-a-damn’s-busted’ day on my sofa in sweats.

Wisdom comes from strange places. Tall, handsome, dancers who tell you to start relaxing and caring less. A redheaded former roommate who corner you with the truth that they love you, and that hating yourself for things out of your control is wrong. A broad shoulder you’re resting on telling you to ask for what you need. A perky professor yelling, “process not product” at the top of their lungs. A five-year old realizing the need to love others, and getting excited about that responsibility.

It’s strange to think about sunflowers on a day like today, perhaps. Secretly, I’ve always wanted to surprise me with a sunflower. For ridiculous and purely sentimental reasons, purple irises top them as my favorite. But sunflowers have a unique and beautifully inspiring trait – they seek the sun.  They follow the course of the sun across the sky, reaping as much as they possibly can. They are annuals, but they soak up so much sun and warmth during their short lives. They are the embodiment of joy and positivity. Or maybe someone slipped something in my coffee. Quite possible, seeing as these musings are coming from a girl who believes that Pacifica has found a way to bottle uber-delight, sunny days, and happiness in their Blood Orange roll-on scent. And thinks that following the directions in this song would be an ideal conflict resolution strategy in a serious relationshi... we could argue and fuss all night, but I propose ...