Saturday, January 31, 2009

Why I'm not Brilliant

Too many details clutter my brain. If I'm out getting Subway sandwiches for everyone, I know that hubby wants a six inch Philly Cheese Steak on white bread, with American cheese, lettuce and mayonnaise. CW (#3 son) wants his Philly Cheese Steak on twelve inches of Italian herbs and cheese bread, toasted, with American cheese, lettuce, onions, and yellow and green peppers. Then slathered with mayo. And J-dub (#2 son) will eat whatever I get for him...if he is even around to eat. And no one but me and J-dub will eat tomatoes.

Then we have everyone's social security numbers, account numbers, cell phone numbers, Army Brigade designation, and clothing sizes. With the exception of J-dub, the men in my family rarely buy clothing for themselves. Soldier buys the occasional t-shirt, but each time I see him, you can bet he's going to be wearing something I bought for him 4 or 5 Christmases ago. I don't know what he's going to do when he comes home for mid-tour leave in May, since all of his civilian clothes are in storage somewhere in Colorado Springs. Shoe sizes? From hubby to youngest son - 10 1/2, 10, 11, and 13. (Each time I grew a baby in my tummy, I figured out how to make it larger.)

On top of all that, I have to know that a #2 Engine Boroscope goes in the 2-4 hour block of an MD-10 B-check, and about a thousand other things.

So is it any wonder that I don't have room for Shakespeare, or Nietzche, or HTML?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Please acknowledge me.

I think it's human nature to want to be noticed. Acknowledged. To matter, somehow.

So today, on my birthday, please notice me. Please acknowledge that I survived not only birth, but another 47 years on top of that horrible experience, which I barely remember. In fact, I don't remember a lot of the 47 years that followed the horrid birth experience, but I remember that today is my birthday.

I had big plans for today! I took a vacation day so I could accomplish a huge list of things. Like, I don't know...really, I didn't write any of it down...but I was going to do, you know, stuff. A painting, maybe. Some photography. A little writing. Shopping. But then, precisely at sometime in the afternoon yesterday, a virus entered my bowels, and the virus has left me feeling weak, empty, and unaccomplished.

I did get to chat with my son in Iraq for quite a while, though, and that's a pretty good birthday gift.

When's YOUR birthday, so I can acknowledge your survival too?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Another Etsy Discovery: D. Prizzi

I've been downhearted baby
Ever since the day we met
Our love is nothin' but the blues
Baby how blue can you get...

My new favorite artist at etsy is D. Prizzi. While it may have been her blues that first attracted me, it was her skill as an artist that made me fall in love.

Do you not want to gobble up this delectable tart? Is your mouth watering? Look at the light reflected in the berries, that hint of gold around the rim of the plate. Just beautiful.

This painting makes me want to be British and drink more tea.

I love the juxtaposition of colors here. The Granny Smith green with the turquoise of the plate. And that warmth of red beneath. There's a great deal to be said about the composition, too, if I really knew anything about composition. I only know that it looks exactly right.

The artist appears to be quite beautiful, herself. You may see more of her work on her lovely blog.

Monday, January 26, 2009

On My Toes

I just hopped over to etsy to see what people are selling these days, and one of the featured items comes from genepierson's shop.

I've always had a secret thing for ballet dancers, probably since the time I was five years old and tried to discover a way to dance on my toes.

Anyway, there's something I love about this photo, and the others that can be found at the link above.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Movies That Almost Slipped Through the Cracks

In between all the stuff I didn't do this weekend, I managed to squeeze in one book and two movies.

The thing about being a Netflix subscriber is that you feel compelled to return movies as quickly as possible so you feel you're getting your money's worth, which means more movies coming back to you, which means you really have to stay on top of your queue and not let it get empty like I did once, leaving me drumming my fingers wondering what the hell was wrong with Netflix that they weren't getting my movies out to me. Until I pulled up their website and saw that, oops, my queue was empty.

However, when you're watching as many movies in a month as I am, while trying to choose what will please the men in the household, it can start to be a bit of a crap shoot. Sometimes I don't have the knack for picking good films, and sometimes I let good ones get away entirely.

I hit the jackpot this weekend, though. Two films I would give five out of five stars:

The Brave One, 2007

Jodie Foster brilliantly portrays a New York radio personality who loses her fiance when they are both beaten in a brutal attack. The film explores the astonishing (and almost gratifying) way her character deals with the feelings of fear and victimization that are left behind, culminating in revenge on the thugs responsible for the attack. It's vigilante justice at its finest. Last line: There is no going back, to that other person, that other place. This thing, this stranger, she is all you are now.

Eagle Eye, 2008

Shia LaBeouf (Transformers and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) is Jerry Shaw, the unmotivated and underachieving twin of an Air Force officer who dies suddenly in a car accident. Jerry's life shifts suddenly into high gear when, shortly after burying his brother, he discovers a checking account balance of $571,000, and subsequently goes to his apartment to discover an arsenal has been shipped to him box by box. A phone call from a mysterious woman unleashes a series of events that will keep YOU away from the bathroom and glued to the screen, because "you have been activated. Your compliance is vital."

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Novel Idea

This morning on the way home from buying my Saturday morning cup of coffee, two characters found their way into my head as if they had just arrived by train and I was meeting them at the station. This happened to me about ten years ago (before The Internet took over my life), and the story of those two characters burned inside of me until I had to write it halfway down. Then, like ignored guests, they hopped back on the train and went somewhere else.

I've never really discussed story ideas with anyone, ever since I read that it interrupts the flow of creative energy to do so. But I will say that this will be a love story, set in Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl Era.

And guess what? Just as a survivor of the Great Depression was distrustful of banks, I'll be writing my story on paper. I have no faith in electronics.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Kate Winslet: A Photographic Tribute

Kate Winslet. Is it weird that I love her so much? Is it odd that I have watched Sense and Sensibility 500 times? She was 19 when she played the role of Marianne Dashwood in that film. Nineteen. I can't even recall what I was doing when I was nineteen, and, thankfully, it wasn't filmed.

I like that she doesn't consider herself a movie star. "Please don't call me [a movie star]. I don’t feel like a movie star in my life at all, and I don’t particularly think I behave like one."

With her son, Joe. I never look that good when going to Wal-Mart. Or, well, anywhere, for that matter.

Ah, the fair skin. If I had known how beautiful fair skin is, I never would have tanned like everyone else I knew.

One for the guys.

I don't know. From the set of Revolutionary Road, maybe? I love the dress. And the gloves. It would be worth it to be an actress, just to play dress-up.

By the way, I used to HATE Leonardo DiCaprio. Hate, hate, hate. Like, Tom Cruise hate. But I find I like him quite a lot now that he's a man. It's like someone took sandpaper and roughed up his edges.

Monday, January 19, 2009

What the Doctor said.

After work, I went to my "primary care physician" for the second time in two years. I'd forgotten what a great guy he is, easy to talk to, relaxed (I want to be on whatever he's on). My reason for going was that my prescription for blood pressure medicine had run out, and even though my BP isn't horrible without it, it's high enough to do some long-term damage to those little red hoses running through my body.

I've always loved going to doctors, which is ironic, since I hardly ever go, and it was especially fun to be going to a professional who wasn't going to stick horrible things in my mouth. Back when I was a young mother - high-strung, under-pampered, and most likely depressed - I would cry the moment a doctor asked me how I was. I think it was because no one else ever asked and really cared what the answer was. It's a miracle I wasn't subsequently doped up with anti-depressants.

But today, I got to connect with someone who likes to talk about all the same things I like to talk about, including me. (ha!) He (a licensed medical doctor!) agreed with me about high fructose corn syrup, and was very interested when I told him the significant effect that giving up soda had on my blood pressure. He was impressed that I'm eating more fresh, natural foods, that I'm trying to avoid manmade processed crap, that I know I need to exercise more and that I'm aware of the effects of sodium on my body. After writing my scripts, he told me to come back in 6 months, or sooner if I wanted to. I said that it was probably time for me to have a physician other than my self. When he asked if I "go online," I wanted to say, "Of course! Where do you think I got my medical degree?" But I didn't, and he passed along a couple of websites about natural health that he thought would interest me.

It kinda made that whole dentist ordeal go away for a while.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I'm so cool today.

I got a pingback and a trackback on a post I did at Journalspace: my attempt at debunking the myth about crop circles after my youngest son was awake all night worrying about them, and the year 2012.

It doesn't matter that I'm probably about to get slammed by a bunch of weirdos who actually believe in extraterrestrials. I'm up for the challenge, because I'm so uber cool.

I'm also not concerned that no one has followed the links yet.

I'm Teething.

I figured out why my mouth is still hurting. There appears to be a sliver of bone of unknown size making a magical journey through my gums. This little alien has a name - a sequestrum - something that happens as a result of a difficult or traumatic tooth extraction. Not sure if I mentioned it before, but the tooth extraction was pretty difficult and traumatic. I had enough adrenaline rushing through my body to take out the entire offensive line of a professional football team. Or at least to jump up and punch my dentist in the face.

But that's all over with now, and my memories of the pain are receding. Now all I'm left with is a constant cutting sensation which has suddenly made me sympathetic toward babies. So if you have a baby who is teething and slightly cranky, just remember that your baby doesn't have a cache of Vicodin in its purse.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

all alone

I'm alone in the house for the second night in a row.

Solitude used to be one of my favorite things, but tonight I find myself feeling pretty unsettled. Last night I simply slept through two movies. Tonight, with plenty of things to do, no Sandman in sight, and a glass of wine in my hand, I'm just...well...lonely.

Maybe I'll drive 10 miles to McDonald's for some coffee, then 10 miles back.

That should kill enough time to enable me to fall asleep with another movie.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

In the Valley of Elah

Since re-subscribing to Netflix with the “three at a time” option, we’ve been watching a lot of movies. And because I have to severely limit the chick flicks, I find myself leaning toward two genres: war movies, and thrillers. The interesting thing is that films about war now make my husband very uncomfortable; in fact, he refused to watch one film centered around the war in Iraq. I have to admit that I find myself viewing these films from a more emotional or empathic place. Even World War II films have the power to evoke some kind of cinematic bond between me and the mothers of celluloid soldiers.

So it was with some uncertainty that I popped in a DVD last night of the film In the Valley of Elah, which stars Tommy Lee Jones as the father of a modern day soldier just back from Iraq, and Charlize Theron as a policewoman who helps investigate the son’s disappearance and death.

One of the critical reviews of the movie at Netflix stated that the movie “centers around Tommy Lee Jones’ persona, and that’s why it works.” I found that to be very true, because Tommy Lee Jones appears to me to be someone who has suffered greatly. His face looks like it should belong to a farmer from Nebraska instead of an actor…or even to a man who sacrificed himself and the lives of his two sons in service to his Country.

It’s easy to see the anti-Iraq war sentiment. But what is really remarkable about the film is the very true portrayal of the effect of the war on young men. The attitudes, the words, the laughter over things I would consider sickeningly morbid are things I’ve witnessed myself when visiting with my son and his Army buddies. It’s their way of coping with the reality of the things they have seen and the friends they have lost.

Anyway, great film, and if you’re a Tommy Lee Jones fan, a must-see. It made getting this new photo from my son tonight, very poignant.

the tooth fairy and me

In early Europe, there was a tradition to bury baby teeth that fell out. Some believe that the Tooth Fairy evolved from the tooth mouse depicted in an 18th century French language fairy tale. In "La Bonne Petite Souris," a mouse changes into a fairy to help a good queen defeat an evil king by hiding under his pillow to torture him and knocking out all his teeth. (Source: Wikipedia.)

So in the interest of continuing the tooth fairy tradition, I asked my dentist on Wednesday if I could have the tooth he decided it was necessary to extract. He assured me I didn't want it. But what if I had put it under my pillow, and the tooth fairy (i.e. my husband) decided to leave a twenty there? We will never know.

After the dentist's toilsome job of pulling my tooth, I decided to tell my favorite tooth fairy story. When my middle son was 5 or 6, I happened to remember my role as fairy (which sometimes wasn't the case, and I would have to "find" money under the bed or behind the headboard to cover for the lapse), and tiptoed into his room to perform my duties. The next morning he came to me and said, "Mom, I saw the tooth fairy last night."

"Did you?" I asked.

"Yes," he said, his bright blue eyes sparkling up at me. "She looked like an angel."

Monday, January 12, 2009

Today on the JS Homepage

Recent Comments
(because I couldn't accept not having them anymore.)

You know how I know you're gay?
You dress your kids in matching jackets.
That's punishable by swirlies and wedgies here in the US, you know.
- TOBP-Steve in dickbar's journal

I can only imagine when you say WORK you are messing around. Well maybe you are "messing around" but that kind of messing around is actually hard work in my mind. HAve fun!!! Love, Bobby
- Fijufic in dirtyshadeofgray's journal

Dinner, drinks, and bed - no fair that a 5-year-old gets that and I don't.
- SamanthaBaker in StupidWorkGirl's journal

And I was wrong, you're not Lermontov....he would've met up with the guy, nailed him in the alley, and then went out drinking with friends.
- TOBP-Steve in Lizardo's journal

Yep – the Welshman was the right advice to give. If you want her to be sexually dissatisfied and to turn to you for solace that is. You have sheep in Australia I believe? That’s all that’s necessary.
- Simon in lermontov-lives's journal

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Falling Again for Snow

I used to love it, the quiet fall of crystals, the muted crunch and a squeek underfoot, back in the days when I didn't wear a coat until Old Man Winter demanded it in January. Snow fell deeper then, and warmer, in huge downy blankets that insulated us from the world.

I also wasn't a driver then.

But I had a sled, and I wasn't afraid to use it. I knew how to make igloos and snowmen and snow angels. My feet flew on ice skates along the creek in the woods, and, later, glided over the top of snow drifts on snowshoes like a web-footed bird.

It wasn't difficult to love snow, because I lived in it. I even babysat for a family who would transport me to and from their home on a snowmobile. Now there's a ride, especially after dark.

Somewhere amid 20 years of long drives to and from work, however, I've learned to despise snow. Until a random program on television brought back to me all of its beauty, in microscopic detail.

Snowflakes were first photographed by Wilson A. Bentley in 1885, using an adapted microscope and mutated bellows camera.

If these were diamonds, only Kings could afford them. To us, they are free.

In the 1993 film Groundhog Day, Bill Murray's character, finally getting it right on his umpteenth repeat of February 2nd, reports Punxsutawney Phil's shadow sighting this way:

"When Chekov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. Yet, we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. But standing here amongst the people of Punxsutawney and basking in the warmth of their hearths and hearts, I couldn’t imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter."

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Everyone's a Comedian

I don't mind telling you that an abscessed tooth makes for a crappy week.

On Thursday and Friday, I went to work with a swollen cheek. The first thing I said to my co-worker, Russ, when I arrived at work on Thursday was "I brought extra acorns for lunch if you want any," then pointed at my cheek.

My friend John said it looked like something alien was growing on the side of my face. "It's a fetus," I replied. Then on Friday, he said it seemed to be growing legs. "But not fast enough," I said. He suggested I sprinkle fertilizer on it.

I kept asking my co-workers if they had an ice skate I could use to extract my own tooth. Would you believe no one at FedEx has one?

And finally, Russ is one of the kindest and most gentle men I've ever known, which made the following comments even funnier to me. He suggested that I go home and ask my husband to punch the other side of my face to even things out. He said (in an aside to someone else), "They're just like a bad screen door. You have to slam 'em a few times to straighten 'em out."

I laughed, of course. Then hurt even more.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Vicodin Dreams

I stayed home from work all day yesterday, because my face felt like a used punching bag. I've never experienced anything like this, and wonder how my tooth got so bad. It's not like there is a visible cavity or anything; in fact, I think it's a tooth that my dentist worked on a couple of months ago, trying to save me from a root canal.

I tried to use the Vicodin sparingly. But pain can be a compelling reason to use it. And while I slept in the afternoon, I had a couple of very strange dreams.

In the first one, my husband brought to my attention what he believed was a dead chicken. The chicken was small and brown, and limp when I picked it up to carry it toward the house. As I stepped inside, it made a noise. I stuck my head out the door and said, "Would a chicken go "eep, eep, eep" if it was dead?

My husband answered, "It's just a reaction." I assumed he meant a reaction of the nervous system that can occur after death, like a muscle twitching. I didn't believe him, of course.

So I put the chicken in a cardboard box. It stood up and began to walk around.

I stuck my head out the door again and said (in a tone laced with a little disgust), "Would a chicken WALK if it was dead?"

Then the dream switched to twin tornadoes. Tornadoes in dreams are a recurring event for me, and I'm never frightened of them. Just fascinated. This time, the tornadoes ran nearly parallel to each other, offset enough that I could see them both. The detail was amazing.

I was just ready to jump in the truck to go survey the damage when I woke up.

Then I remembered the chicken dream, and went to give hubby hell about it. I'm still not sure I've forgiven him.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Of Toothaches and True Love

I have an infected tooth, even though my dentist didn't exactly say so. He didn't say so even though the right side of my face feels as if it's on fire, and my upper and lower jaws ache, and my throat hurts when I swallow, and it feels like someone is shoving a fist through my head when I bite down on a french fry. Taking into consideration all of these facts, I decided to ask my dentist for an antibiotic this afternoon since he didn't offer me one. And, well, Vicodin for the pain. That he offered. And that I accepted willingly and with so much grace it would embarrass you.

Something very odd happens to me when I suffer from excruciating pain. I become really pleasant. It doesn't matter that I can't really focus my eyes on anything. Or that I can't do my job very well. What matters is that I'll be extremely pleasant while not functioning as a human being. And I think that counts for something.

Being in pain also makes me love my husband very much. Here's a photo and some words to prove it.

I took this photo of My Mater the day I took the fog photos in an earlier post. Just look at how strong and tough he looks. Don't you wish you had a man who could wrangle all that firewood with only his bare hands and a hydraulic wood splitter? Okay, maybe you do have a man like that. If you're a woman, I mean.

But maybe you don't have a man like this. Last night I was in bed, and he said, "You look so beautiful lying there." He said I was glowing. I resisted the urge to ask if I was running a fever, and instead I smiled and my soul opened up like a flower.

One Wild Oat

When I started this blog back in 2006, I gave it some random title I can't remember. After a long absence (during which I entirely forgot about its existence), I came back to begin writing again. But I wanted a different title. And as usual, like trying to name a pet, it became a huge, agonizing issue.

I wanted something unique, of course. Something mysterious. Maybe even glamorous. A title that fit me somehow, even if I couldn't even figure out how it fit.

I asked myself, who is glamorous and mysterious? and the first woman I thought of was Audrey Hepburn. I don't know why I thought of her, because I've never really been a fan of anything but portraits of her.

So I IMDb'd Audrey. And discovered that before she was famous, she was an extra in a 1951 film titled One Wild Oat. For whatever reason, I liked it. I identified with "one." I identified with "wild." And I certainly identified with Oat, being a farmer's wife and a horse lover.

As for the more common definition of "wild oat," well...

Okay, I admit it. I sowed a wild oat before I was married, and that's why my oldest son is here. But there was just the one. I mean it. And it sprouted nicely in the field of marriage and became a soldier and a gentleman, which makes it all okay I suppose.

Monday, January 05, 2009


I twice posted this elsewhere, in journals long ago and far away.


The angels gathered me with silver wingtips. Their breath was white as winter, drifting across my collarbone then far away into my heart. It was dark, but their light illuminated me, slanting across my wounds and making shadows of them. The shadows were shaped like dark demons laughing at me ha ha ha, making light of my pain, running to and fro outside the circle of luminaries, trying to penetrate the holy, wanting to defeat it. I bowed backwards, pulling strength from my soul and from the purified breath of angels, and after one long defiant scream the demons ate my silence and were destroyed.


The story was written long ago in a giant book, broken-spined and bound in kidskin. It does not end the way we think.


Once there was a room full of silent gestures. The gestures could not be seen or felt or understood in any way. There was no way out.

Favorite Writers: Richard Brautigan

My first encounter with Richard Brautigan was in a used bookstore in Lebanon, Indiana. I was on a run to pick up tractor parts for my husband, and had seen the bookstore's huge sign painted on the side of an old brick building. This kind of detour was a necessary part of my existence: living far from everything as I do, with a practical husband, I've learned that "there's no reason to make a special trip."

I was browsing the shelves when the owner, an obvious refugee of the 1960's, asked if he could help me find something. I asked if he knew of any other writers from the "Beat Generation," besides Jack Kerouac or Allen Ginsberg. While I liked Kerouac's early writings, some of his later stuff was too much for me, and I couldn't stomach Allen Ginsberg at all. (No, I will not apologize.)

He reached up and pulled from the shelf a copy of Trout Fishing in America. "It has nothing to do with trout fishing." he said. "Richard Brautigan is one of my favorites. I think you'll like him."

So I took Richard home, and proceeded to fall in love.

He's such a hippie.

But he was a hippie with a unique way of seeing things, and I love that in a writer. I can't type here my absolute very favorite line of his until I get home and pull it out of a book. So until then, here's a poem:

Boo, Forever

Spinning like a ghost
on the bottom of a
I'm haunted by all
the space that I
will live without

Richard Brautigan

Sunday, January 04, 2009

It's cold in Baghdad

Thirty-nine degrees, to be exact. It's about the same where I am. But when it gets below freezing here, the way it has since a cold front began making its way through Iraq three days ago, we don't have camels trying to drink through ice in the pond. To even things out, they don't have Santa Claus or Carson Daly.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

More About the Moleskine

What could be more endearing to the budding writer or artist than an item used by Van Gogh, Picasso, and Hemingway?

Yes, that's what I thought, the moment I saw my first Moleskine® notebook. Though I love art and have dabbled in oil paints, it was Hemingway who drew me to the Moleskine®. It gave me visions of sitting in a sidewalk cafe in Paris, jotting notes or sketching the Eiffel Tower from afar. Or sitting in an apartment lit by one window, at a table with only a loaf of bread and a bottle of wine. Complete and total Romance.

In the secret little back pocket of every Moleskine®, you'll find a booklet about this marvel. There you'll find its history written in six languages:

Moleskine is the legendary notebook used by European artists and thinkers for the past two centuries, from Van Gogh to Picasso, from Ernest Hemingway to Bruce Chatwin. This trusty, pocket-size travel companion held skketches, notes, stories and ideas before they were turned into famous images or pages of beloved books.

Originally produced by small French bookbinders who supplied the Parisian stationery shops frequented by the international avant-garde, by the end of the twentieth century the Moleskine notebook was no longer available. In 1986, the last manufacturer of Moleskine, a family operation in Tours, closed its shutters forever. "le vrai Moleskine n'est plus" were the lapidary words of the owner of the stationery shop in Rue de l'Ancienne Comedie where Chatwin stocked up on the notebooks. The English writer had ordered a hundred of them before leaving for Australia: he bought up all the Moleskine that he could find, but they were not enough.

In 1998, a small Milanese publisher brought Moleskine back again. As the self-effacing keeper of an extraordinary tradition, Moleskine once again began to travel the globe. To capture reality on the move, pin down details, impress upon paper unique aspects of experience: Moleskine is a reservoir of ideas and feelings, a battery that stores discoveries and perceptions, and whose energy can be tapped over time.

The legendary black notebook is once again being passed from one pocket to the next; with its various different page styles it accompanies the creative professions and the imagination of our time. The adventure of Moleskine continues, and its still-blank pages will tell the rest.

With such a rich history behind it, don't you think you deserve one, too? Even if you don't think of yourself as a writer or artist (who among us isn't?), you won't regret having a Moleskine. If nothing else, it will give you a place to gather autographs, like the genuine signature I got from Country artist Josh Turner before he made it big. I think he really liked me. Or maybe he just wanted my Moleskine.

2009: Year of Reinvention

Is there something about your "personality" that you don't like? Are you stuck in a rut? Do you take the easy way out, slipping back into old patterns? Would you like to WOW everyone you know and take The World by storm? Well, you're in luck, because 2009 is the Year of Reinvention. And do you know why? Because 2009 is not divisible by 3. That makes this year a magical one for everybody. Your dreams are going to come true. Just follow these five easy steps:

1. Forget who you think you are. You aren't lazy, shy, a coward, or any other label that your family stuck on you with super glue. Really, you aren't. You are a spirit designed with infinite possibility. You can do anything. You can be anyone you want at any given moment, as long as you remain true to your core values and beliefs.

I figured this out at my father's funeral, when I stood up in front of everyone to read a note I had written to him. For years I had convinced myself I wasn't a public speaker. That I was shy. That I didn't have the guts or the skill to speak publicly. But I heard my dad's voice in my ear, saying "Get on up there; you can do it," and his hand on the small of my back pushing me forward. It doesn't matter that I had taken a Xanax twenty minutes earlier. I would have done it anyway. All I'm saying is that if you need to take drugs to reinvent yourself, go ahead. Okay, I'm kidding. Really. Don't take drugs. Drugs are bad.

2. Be enthusiastic. Pick one thing to be enthused about, even if it's small. Even if it's your job. Be a dork about it if you must (see #3), but I promise you that your enthusiasm will spread to others, and to other areas of your life. If you've ever seen enthusiasm at play in someone else, you know what I mean.

3. Stop worrying about what other people think. Guess what? They aren't thinking at all. And usually, when people of limited growth gossip, what they're really saying is I have so many personal flaws that I can't do anything but talk about other people.

4. Write your goals on paper. If you want to do one nice thing for someone else each day, write it down. If you want to write a screenplay, pencil it in. If you want to rid the world (or just the cabinet over your left shoulder) of cobwebs, write it down. Can I suggest a Moleskine? You can find these little beauties at Barnes and Noble (and elsewhere) and they are now available in a variety of colors and sizes, making them very convenient to carry. I've been buying them for years, but this time I chose red.

5. Small things can be successes, too. Every time you do something right, or get a little closer to one of your big goals, you gain confidence. Find something you're good at, and become better. Find something you've never tried but would like to, and learn everything you can about it. Invest in yourself.

Remember when you were a child, and you wanted to be a ballerina, or a fire fighter, or an astronaut? Figure out how to finally do it. There are ways. If you can't find a way, make one.

Friday, January 02, 2009

At least 3 of anything is a collection.

I'm not really a collector. Not in the sense that I will go hog wild over something if I see it in a store or flea market, or in a shop-on-eBay kind of way. But I have accidentally gathered some things in groups of three or more.

Cats. Boys. Little sheep in various forms. Feathers. I did have three horses, but I'm down to one. And that's about it, since long ago I stopped going to auctions and flea markets.

However, I now seem to be working on a collection of bird plates.

I never understood the idea of collecting plates. If you can't eat off of them, what good are they? They're hard to display. And really, bird plates? Does anyone else in the world care about birds as much as I do? Probably not. But I'm going to show some to you anyway.

Johnson Brothers of England, Game Birds, "Quail"

I also have "Woodcock"

and "Ruffed Grouse." The Collectors Weekly had this to say about the Johnson Brothers:

Brothers Henry, Alfred, and Frederick Johnson purchased a bankrupt pottery works in the Staffordshire area of England in 1882, and began producing a material known as 'semi-porcelain,' which looked like china, but was durable like ironstone. Their most famous patterns, 'Old Britain Castles' and 'Historic America' were immensely popular in England and America. After WWII, the company struggled, but managed to modernize, and in 1968 joined the Wedgwood Group.

Since I already had three bird plates (a collection), it only made sense that I would want some small dessert plates I found while shopping at Marshalls with my sister before Christmas. I didn't go absolutely crazy over them. Really. Except maybe when my sister picked them up and put them in her shopping cart and said she was buying them for me for Christmas. And maybe I was a little excited when I opened the box on Christmas day, and saw that there were four, which I didn't remember.

It says on the back that they are fine bone china. Whatever that is. I hope no actual bones were used in the making of them.

So I guess I'm a Collector now. And someday I'm going to eat actual food off of these plates instead of letting them collect dust.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Flower, New Desk, New Blog, New Year

My husband gave me a computer desk for Christmas. This desk has produced a whole set of challenges for me:

1. It's black. My 100-year-old farmhouse is dusty. I don't think I need to say more.
2. I want to keep the desk and the area around it organized. So, yesterday, I bought the silk African daisy (above) and a small glass vase to keep it in. Nothing encourages me to stay organized and clean more than one pretty thing.
3. Now that I have a clean, organized place to write, there is no reason I can't finish my 300-page novel. And, well, get our taxes filed early.

I like bringing in a New Year with new things. The important thing is to get rid of some of the old stuff, too. Old things, old attitudes, old habits, old excuses. They weigh us down and cause us to look back. The only way is forward.

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing. Abraham Lincoln