Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Taking the Familiar Path

I am having one of those days where all I really want to do is get in the car and drive until I get to where I'm going. I don't know where that would be, exactly, but I feel like I would know when I got there.

Which is not to say that I don't love it here. I do love it here. I just have the urge to be somewhere else right now.

But of course, there's a million reasons not just to get in the car and go. I have to work, I have stuff to do, I have a cat, I have responsibilities, and I'm just not this spontaneous. Despite the fact that I have been struck by rampaging wanderlust, it's not who I am. It's not what I do.

Sometimes I am bored by who I am and what I do. Can I say that? I don't mean to say that I don't enjoy myself, because I do. I think I'm fun. I just wish that I could throw caution to the wind and unplug from the planning and responsible and orderly and be a little (or a lot) more messy.

Until then, I'll just dream of impossible road trips.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Of Course You Know, This Means War

I came in from a salon appointment last night and found a package at my doorstep. I was on the phone, so I had the phone tucked into my shoulder, put the keys in the door, picked up my package, shooed the cat away from her accustomed "Maybe I want to investigate the hallway" dart towards the door, and shut the door behind me with my foot when I noticed it.

Maybe "noticed" is the wrong word.

Maybe "Was slapped in the face with awfulness" is the better description.

(You know where this is going, right?)


Pervasive, insidious stench.

Now, if you've been following this blog at all, you know a couple of things:

1. Sometimes, something in my apartment gets stinky and I have to find it.

2. I do not enjoy the stinkiness.

3. I have OCD.

It's list item #3 that really makes the stench situation intolerable. My house, you should know, is CLEAN.  Very clean. Also, I empty the trash daily (okay, sometimes multiple times daily) because I have no tolerance for ickyness or foul smells.

And yet.

Stenches. They sneak in. And it makes me crazy and then I have to tell you about it so someone can share in my sense of "aaaggghhh". I'm hoping you can relate, but I sometimes wonder -- is this just me? Am I the only one who occasionally has something in her house start to reek in a perplexing and mysterious fashion?

Anyway. As usual, the stench seemed centered in the kitchen. I took out the trash again. Stench remained. I checked everything in the fridge. Stenchless (and also, I need to go grocery shopping). I was tired.

Whatever, stench, I thought. I'm done for the day.

Which was a mistake, in retrospect because this morning, when I walked into the kitchen, the stench was a presence. Leaning against the counter and leering at me.


Desperate, I cast my eyes around the kitchen when I saw the sponge laying by the sink, trying to look innocent. "I'm a sponge," it seemed to say, "and my function is for keeping things CLEAN! Surely I do not reek!"

I remembered a previous sponge-centered episode of find the stench, though, and I wasn't fooled. I grabbed a ziplock bag out of the cupboard and went in carefully. I picked up the sponge. I sniffed.

I nearly passed out.

I believe I may have uttered the following sound:


I nipped the sponge into the ziplock bag and sealed it. I splashed clorox on the area where the sponge had been resting in all of its stenchitude. I considered boiling the fingers that had TOUCHED the sponge.

The end result of all of this, however, is simple: I am on to the backstabbing ways of the sponge. Oh sure, they make you THINK they're your sidekick in scrubbing, but all the while? They harbour resentment, plot against you, and just when you think you can trust them? Stench.

Not in MY kitchen, pal.

Anyone know of an acceptable scrubbing alternative?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Dancing Queen!

I kept feeling like I was forgetting to do something today.

And then I suddenly realized that the thing I was forgetting to do was ... riiiiiight, write a blog post.


So let me tell you what I've been doing as I was sitting here, trying to figure out why I've had free time today and also trying to remember what it was that I had forgotten to do. Feel free to try to picture this, because I'm sure it looks AWESOME:

First, you should know that I took a shower at my lunch break and then decided that it would be funny to let my hair dry in a purple faux-hawk. Because I have time to fix it before I go out later, but in the meantime? FUNNY. Especially funny with my "wow, I'm super preptastic" capri pants and polo shirt. Because nothing says "I'm a respectable adult" like a violet "mohawk", right? And then I got mad at someone, so I wanted to un-mad myself, and it's been a Lady Gagariffic day, so my purple 'hawk and I have been dancing around the office singing "Born This Way" at the top of our (my) lungs. And when I say "dancing" I don't mean "bouncing up and down in my chair" -- I mean, full on, leaping about the room, production number-esque dancing. All the while clutching a water bottle, which I keep trying to remember that I need to sip from (I'm trying to be a person who drinks more water) but which I truly think is WAAAAY more fun as a pretend microphone.

So yeah. That's what I was doing instead of blogging. But then I remembered that I needed to blog, so the dancing has been suspended.

But only momentarily.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Indoor Camping

So along with everyone else on the east coast, I am prepping for the possibility of a hurricane, which mostly equals "prepping for the possibility of not having power for awhile", with "awhile" being an indeterminate amount of time that could be from 10 minutes to 10 days, depending on the severity of the storm. The good bit is that it's still summer, so I don't have to worry about not having heat.  The bad bit is that I need to stock up on food items that don't require cooking. Or, really, refrigeration. Just in case.

I had no idea what to buy. NONE. So I ended up buying really random things. Such as:

*Water (because my mom said I should have bottled water, during the call where she also said, "Honestly, Danielle, are you going to the store? I'm not sure you're taking this seriously enough," which made me think, "Oh, I guess I'm not since I don't even know where my flashlight IS.")


*Granola bars (um, they were right beside the granola. And had chocolate and coconut on them. So ... yeah)

*Cocoa roasted almonds (I have no justification for this. Except -- Cocoa. Roasted. Almonds.)


*Peanut butter.


*Cheese. Well, okay, three kinds of cheese. I don't know what I'm thinking I'm going to DO with all of this cheese, but I have it. In case someone else who has a grill or a firepit or something is like "Oh Noes! I have all of these eggs! What to do?" and then I can be like "Hey! I have CHEESE! Let's make omlettes!" but I really doubt that is going to happen. Maybe I just want to make cheese sandwiches. Or a nice cheese and cracker plate because I also have ...

*...LOTS of saltines. Like, six sleeves of them? Lots.

*Canned pineapple (why? I don't know except I thought "Oh, canned fruit won't spoil" and then the only canned fruit that seemed remotely attractive was the pineapple. Plus, if I don't eat it I can make sangria with it. Win-Win.)

*Wine. Because if I'm imbibing wine I won't notice that I have no power? I don't know, it seemed like a plan.

*Pickles. Again, random.

It occurs to me now, though, that between the cheeses and the crackers and the fancy dancy almonds and the pickles I very nearly have a low rent cocktail party going on. Which would be splendid, I think.

So maybe some of y'all should stop by. It''ll be a little windy, and we may be drinking and noshing by candlelight, but fun will be had.  The serious, hurricane-y kind.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Simply delicious

I've noticed that sometimes the things that are the most delicious are the things that are RIDICULOUSLY simple. (I may be noticing this at the moment because I am ravenously hungry, worked through lunch, and now have to eat little bits and bites of things. It's like a desktop picnic!)

You probably have your favorite simple nibblies. Here are some of mine:

*radishes, sliced and sprinkled with salt (I'm pretty sure that if "health" had a flavour, it would be this)

*cream cheese spread thinly on rye triscuits

*Slices of apple with slices of cheddar cheese

*stupidly simple sandwich: fresh tomato, thickly sliced, on crusty bread with a mild cheese. It's heaven on a plate (if you want to get a little crazy, you could add slices of dill pickle. Also glorious)

*sourdough pretzels with a dark, grainy mustard for dunking.

*celery and carrots dipped in 1/4 cup bleu cheese dressing with a couple of dashes of tabasco sauce mixed in. (They're like wings ... only ... not wings in any way! I suppose if you like ranch with your wings, you could use that. I don't get the point of the ranch. But maybe you do. If so, Ranch away, my friend.)

*This one's a little more complicated. Preheat your oven to about 400. Slice up a baking potato. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Lay down your potato slices and spray the top layer as well. (You're going to flip them). Cook 15 minutes, take out and flip,sprinkle with salt, cook 10 more minutes (or until crispy and brownish). Let cool. While cooling, mix sour cream and salsa together. Look -- potato-y nacho-y goodness. (I know, there's no cheese. There could be cheese. Go nuts -- it's your nibbles. Also I may have gotten the times wrong here... I'm not a real cook, and I don't play one on tv ... but you get the picture. Bake, flip, bake, eat. Just keep an eye on them until they're your preferred degree of crispy.)

I could go on -- and someday probably will -- but right now? I need to eat some of these nibbles. Happy snacking!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I'm a vegetarian.

Everyone becomes a vegetarian for different reasons, I think. I mostly became one because I unpleasantly discovered first hand what comes from eating tainted meat* (answer: hospitalization, three days of vomiting blood, and severe dehydration. Also, the occasional seizure) and also, because I am unhappy about the way we treat our food.

I'm mentioning it now because I bought eggs the other day (I have reached the point where I am again willing to eat eggs, which took some time) and one of the containers said: "All Natural, Vegetarian Fed".

Which really, just emphasizes my point.


Chickens like to eat seeds and vegetables and mealworms. They should not, probably, be fed things like -- other chickens. Or arsenic (which has turned up in chickens that are mass farmed).  However, in many chicken production facilities (typing that, makes me sad, by the way ... like chickens are something manufactured, like a car) the chickens are so packed in and so stressed out that they often resort to cannibalism. This is partially because of the (it doesn't bear thinking about) stuff -- non vegetarian, as a rule -- that they are being fed and partially because they are crammed into cages that don't really allow movement. So they are de-beaked. They can't walk around. There can be such a concentration of ammonia in the chicken pens (cages, stacked one on another) that they get burned.

So when a chicken is treated humanely, when it is allowed to roam free and eat what chickens like to eat and what they SHOULD eat, when it hasn't had its beak removed, isn't caged every day, doesn't have ammonia burns on it's birdy body, this is a selling point.

Does this disturb you? It disturbs me.

I became a vegetarian when I realized that the power of the FDA has been chipped away by special interests, most of which are much more interested in profit than food safety. I get that -- businesses should make profits. However, I do not believe that those profits should come at the expense of the safety of the population that is eating the food they produce, and I surely do not believe that it is in the interest of anyone to be eating animals that have been horrifically mistreated or inhumanely slaughtered.

I don't think everyone needs to be a vegetarian -- I don't write this to try to persuade anyone to stop eating meat. However, I DO firmly believe that it is in EVERYONE'S best interest to insist that our food supply be monitored for contamination -- and the more inhumane the slaughterhouse, the higher the chances there are for contamination.**

And I believe that we owe it to ourselves to find out where our food is coming from, how it has been slaughtered and harvested. (I also believe that if you can't stomach the idea of where your food comes from, than that's a food you shouldn't eat. Just saying.) For our own safety, and for the safety of our families, we should do this; if we discover that we are not happy with how food is being produced, then we should complain and buy that food elsewhere.

I know it's not easy. I know it can be expensive at a time when expenses -- all of them -- are an issue. But I would say again: you put food IN YOUR BODY. Shouldn't what you put in your body be something you can trust not to kill you?

Or, to put it another way: the same governmental genius that has allowed our economy to go down the toilet (and let's face it, kids, this has come from YEARS of neglect, not one president's worth -- it just happened to come to a head during this guy's watch) is also in charge of policing your food sources.

Disturbing, right?

Don't you think maybe it's time to check into it on your own?

*full disclosure: I ate the tainted meat in another country. However, if you think that the meat supply in the US is completely safe? Good luck to you.

**(See Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation for more)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Feeding Your Inner Child (Like, LITERALLY Feeding Her)

I used to work with a woman (Hellllooo, Annie!) who would occasionally bring "kid lunch" to work and eat it at her desk. "Kid lunch" usually consisted of something like: a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (crusts optional), a piece of fruit, and a cookie. And milk or juice. Brought in a brown paper bag, naturally.*

"Sometimes you just want a kid lunch," she'd say, and shrug.

The office we worked in was high stress -- Wall Street level high stress -- and we ate a lot of ... well, we ate a lot of crap, to be honest. We ordered in a LOT. Many chickens lost their fingers for the dining enjoyment of our office,** and local pizza places profited mightily from our long hours and inability to ever leave for lunch. (Or sometimes, dinner. There were many days when I ate breakfast, lunch, AND dinner at my desk, none of which was particularly healthy, but all of which had "easy to eat at a desk" to recommend it.)

So sometimes Annie would pack herself a kid lunch, and eat it quietly.

And on the days she did? I think everyone was envious. Because as delicious as (another) greasy slice of pizza was, there was something drool worthy about that peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It looked ... refreshing. It was the food equivalent of jumping into a swimming pool on a hot summer day. (It also didn't look like it would sit like lead in one's stomach, which I noticed that the pizzas were doing with increasing frequency.)

She called it a kid lunch because it made her think of the lunches her mom would pack when she was in school. I call it a kid lunch because it makes me think of the time in our lives when there was often more care and concern put into what we ate. When we ate things without counting the calories, without necessarily focusing on the convenience, but because they were good for us. When tasty and healthy and worth putting in our bodies trumped fast, cheap, and low fat or fat free.

I think that talking about kid lunches actually dates me a bit because, to be perfectly honest, I don't think kids eat lunch like this anymore. I think that more often than not, they eat the way the adults in their lives eat, and the adults in their lives? Eat the way the people in my office ate.

I don't know when the tide really started to turn. I don't know when or why people started paying more attention to what they put on their bodies than they do to what they're putting IN their bodies.  I don't know when "this meal will help me to extend my workday" became more important than "this meal will help me extend my LIFE" but it seems to me -- and, I think, to everyone who ever looked on in envy while Annie happily ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich -- that it's something that we should all consider.

Ask yourself: what sounds better? Another value meal of prepacked, premade, reheated food purchased at another national chain? Or a sandwhich you made fresh, with ingredients that you selected and stored for yourself, eaten with some fruit (or a cookie) and a drink that is actually good for you? How long does it take to make a sandwich? Don't you think you're worth it? ***

Give it a try. Today. Or tomorrow. And maybe you'll be able to change how you think about the food that you eat. Maybe you'll be inspired to make better, different choices in other parts of your life. Maybe you'll realize that there should be more than fast, easy, quick -- maybe you'll think that you deserve more than convenient and timesaving.

I don't know. But I think it's worth a try. One sandwich at a time.

*I actually can't remember if she had brown paper bags. But it seems like she should have had them.

**I know chickens don't actually have fingers, but that sentence continues to make me giggle.

***FYI: You are totally worth it.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Om Nom

I have been toying with the idea of writing a food related blog for most of the summer. (I REALLY wanted to call it because, hello, how fun is THAT to say? But alas, it is not available.) As you have probably guessed, I ... oops ... haven't gotten to it. For one thing, I don't know that anyone would read it. (Though I kind of thought the same thing about THIS blog, and bless your hearts, you are staying with me! Who knew?) For another, I am overwhelmed every time I think about all of the food related things I could talk about. (Pro: I'd never get stuck. Con: SO. MUCH. MATERIAL. Where to start? ARRRGGGHHH!)

However, for some reason, it still seems like a goodish idea. I'm not a food expert, per say, but I EAT food. All of the people I know eat food, actually (my friends. They are funny like that.) It seems like everyone has opinions about food, and where to eat it and where to get it and what kind is delicious and what kinds are OMG! So Gross! and what's good for you and what's not. I like opinions. And -- this may shock some of you -- I REALLY like to cook. (This might shock you MORE: I'm kind of good at it.)

So anyway, I thought that this week, I'd try the "blogging about food in a variety of ways" thing out and see how it goes. If I like it, maybe the old food blog will happen. If I don't -- well, I'll have a week where I have a general idea of what I'm going to write about. Neither one of those are horrible things.

I'm still sad that I can't have, though.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Randoms

For your Friday reading enjoyment -- a random number of random thoughts.

1. When you buy something -- like, say, a printer -- shouldn't it come with all of the things you need to make it work? There's nothing I hate like being halfway through an installation and having the directions say "Now plug in Cable A (not included)" ... AARRGGGGHHHHHHHH.

2. I cannot sleep in a bed that hasn't been made. Am I the only one who suffers from this cruel affliction? If I'm running super late and don't have time to make the bed, I have to change the sheets and remake the whole thing before I can sleep in it. I know, it's bizarre.

3.Current obsession: Watches. Specifically, Casio G-Shock watches. Why? I have no idea, except that they look a little badass. Even the hot pink ones.

4. This time of year always makes me feel like I should be getting ready to go back to school. I suppose this makes sense, given that I prepped for back-to-school for about 26 years of my life. (I may have to buy some supplies just because ... and I LOVE having new pencils and notebooks!)

5. I was on Facebook this morning and saw a comment that someone had posted to a friend's wall: "It is after having kids that life really begins." Hey, commentor -- from one of the many of us who will never have children (either by choice or due to fertility issues): SCREW YOU.

(whew, glad I got that out of my system)

6. You know what I love? This:

(I tried to embed the video three times. I failed. Sniffle. Sob)

7. You know what else I love? My new iPhone. It's like the swiss army knife of phones. It's like a palmful of awesome. It's heaven, but in the form of a phone. I'm sorry, Blackberry, but I have given my technological heart to another. Oh Apple, why did I ever doubt you? (Oh wait, it was because you were hooked up with AT&T. That's right.)

8. I think the purple hair is confusing people. It's not outrageously purple. Just a little purple, here and there. If it's possible to have subtle purple hair, then that's what I have. I think it's making people puzzled. "Does that woman have ... purple hair?" "Dang it Martha, I can't really tell! I've been trying to figure it myself!" Fun.

9. Did I forget to mention that I dyed my hair purple? Right. I did.

Hope everyone has a phenomenal weekend.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pity and Parties

I know I keep hinting at sudden and unexpected drama that's thrown me for a loop without just coming out with it.  While the specifics are not appropriate for this blog, it is appropriate for me to say that this has been a difficult week for the people at my company. Good things are going to happen, but sometimes, shocking and unexpected things have to happen first.

I've been feeling sorry for myself, and stressed out. When I was a kid, my mom called this "having a pity party."  I keep trying to put a positive spin on the events of the past several days (Dust yerself off and get back on the horse, cowgirl... did I just call myself a cowgirl? Really??) but it's hard and it has been feeling false, which makes me feel more drama queen-y.

Have I mentioned? I don't enjoy the drama. Or the term pity party.


I'm done with it.

In Say Anything*, Lloyd asks his sister: "How hard is it to decide to be happy and then just -- BE happy?"

She replies, sarcastically, "Gee, it's easy."

It's not easy. It's not easy to let go of the things that hurt, but I think it's also necessary. It does no good to hoard up your pain and feed on it. Doing so doesn't make your life better.

But here's what does make your life better. Using what hurts you to help other people. Seeing where your pain lived and meeting other people there, to hold a hand out to them and help them through the hard places. Everything happens for a reason, y'all -- and I think that often the reason is so that we have more to offer each other.

I'm not saying that none of us have pain or difficulties. I'm just saying we can't let them become prisons, endless loops of regret and anger that we can't escape. We CAN use them to build bridges so that we can better love each other.

And maybe then we can all just have a party. I'm ready for one!

*Other favorite quote from this movie:
"Did you ever get a letter like that from a guy?" "No ... I dreamed about it once."

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

That'll Do, Wednesday. That'll Do.

Woke up with a migrane. Stumbled out of bed. Stepped squarely in cat puke.

That's kind of overload for 5:00 AM, don't you think?

However, I should say this: nothing says "All Systems Now On Alert" like putting your bare toes directly in a regurgitated hairball. If you weren't awake before? You are now, my friend. No coffee required.

Got into the office, where I received an email that I read three times before realizing that A) I don't know what the sender is talking about, since she seems angry that I followed her explicit instructions regarding a task and B) I am in no mental state to reply to this email. 

I stared at my computer screen. It hit me: This week is kicking my ass.

And then I started to get kind of mad. The kind of mad you only get when you're overtired, overwrought, can't feel the left side of your face due to a headache, and keep wanting to shower again if only to scrub your feet one more time.

I don't have time for this headache!
I don't have the time for hairballs!
I don't have the patience for this emailer!
I HATE Wednesday!

Of course, then the voice of reason (shockingly, I have one) whispered: what are you REALLY upset about? It's not the headache. It's not the hairball. It's not even the emailer, which is why you CANNOT reply right now. What is it?

I know what it is. It's the sense that someone I trusted wasn't as trustworthy as I thought. It's disappointment in a sense of failure. It's the feeling that I have not measured up, all of which have viciously slapped me in the face this week.

I'm mad at that. Which might, actually, be the cause of the headache.

So I took some aleve. I washed my foot again and put on some socks. I thoughtfully and carefully composed an email reply, re-read it, and sent it.

I reminded myself that I don't have to conquer the entire world this week. That a momentary stumble is not a permanent fall. That if I can get through this moment, and this day, and this week, then I can continue to build the life I want to have. Which, to be honest, is a pretty good one.

And also? It's already Wednesday. So rather than dwell on the suckitude of Monday and Tuesday, maybe I should focus on the untapped potential of the time that stretches before me.

All will be well. All manner of things will be well. It's what I know on a Wednesday morning ... hopefully, I can remember it through all of my days.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Life, Lemons, Decisions

Henry Rollins once said: "When life hands you a lemon, say "Oh yeah, I like lemons. What else you got?"*

Yesterday, I felt like life was PELTING me with lemons. If you've ever been in a batting cage, imagine that. Only instead of shooting baseballs at you, the machine is firing lemons at you. And you don't have a baseball bat. And they're coming at you faster and faster until you're bruised and battered and knee deep in sticky (but clean smelling) lemons.

I have said more than once that when you're knocked down (by the aggressively flung lemon or otherwise), you have a choice: you can stay down, or you can get up.  I don't prefer the view from the floor. It's dirty and uncomfortable. So I say you should get up. Maybe a little more cautiously, armed with the knowledge that another blow could be on the way, but you get up anyway and you fight back, because you deserve more than a life lived down on the ground.

I'd rather face the lemons that are coming my way than hide from them.

So go ahead, life. Bring it.

*Ron White once said:" I believe that if life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade. And try to find somebody whose life has given them vodka, and have a party." Also an attitude I admire.

Monday, August 15, 2011

It Sings The Tune -- Without The Words

I have noticed that it's easier to be pessimistic than it is to be optimistic. Hope may be the thing with feathers that perches in the soul, but listening to it sing requires some work. It's easier to tune it out than it is to pay attention.

But sometimes, things happen to remind you that you need to hold on to the song.

I have been discouraged by the stray animal situation around my apartment. I think it may simply be related to apartment living -- sometimes, when you have a population that changes regularly (which isn't unusual in an area with a high population of university students), pets get abandonded. I don't agree with it, but I understand why it happens.*

So I try to help the stray animals. Mostly, they're cats.

Some rescue attempts go really well. Some go poorly. And sometimes, I must confess, I wonder why I'm bothering when no one else seems to care.*

But sometimes, I am surprised.

Bob the Himalayan has been camping out in the shrubs in front of my building. He has taken to meowing at me when I come in or go out. So I talk to him. Sometimes he comes close enough that I could just touch his head with my fingertips if I stretched all the way forward, very very slowly. His big blue eyes look at me. "Meow! Meow!" He is skinny and filthy and obviously skittish.

I bring him food and set the dish far back, under the trees, so that he can eat it undisturbed.

Yesterday when I brought out his food, I saw that there was a water dish next to it.

I did not leave a water dish.

Someone else had noticed Bob.

Today, I saw that the food dish I had left was empty.

But there was another dish that had also been placed out, in a different spot.  It was full.

So was my heart.

Listen -- the world is full of problems and struggles, and I know that there are bigger causes and sufferings that need help. I also know that seeing some other people in my building reach out to help this one cat -- and to help me to help him -- has let me hear that sweet, wordless song. Because if total strangers can band together and reach out for one cat, what could we do if more of us stood together and made larger efforts for each other?

I think we could change the world.

And I think we should.

*Okay, that's a lie. I don't understand it at all. How hard is it to take an unwanted pet to a shelter where it could find someone else to love? Why on earth do people think it's okay to shoo an animal out the door and then just drive away, leaving it alone, hungry, and scared?

*how this is even possible is another thing that I fail to understand, but it often seems that way.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Who's the Baby Now?

I would like to be a person who is filled with grace. I would. I would like to be a person who doesn't get angry or sarcastic, one who frequently sees the good in people rather than the annoying characteristics that get on my nerves.

I would LIKE to the that person. Sadly, I rarely manage it.

For example, I did not manage it on Wednesday, when I was on a plane with several screaming and or/whimpering children.

I did not manage it when the woman seated across the aisle from me began to complain about said children.

"Here we go," she said, and rolled her eyes. "Thank GAWD those kids are all the way in the back of the plane. I don't think people should fly if their kids are going to do that. I mean, REALLY."

I was instantly mad at her. INSTANTLY.

"I don't have children," I said to her. I was pleasant. I even smiled, despite the fact that I was seething at her ridiculous entitlement. "But I don't particularly care to fly either. It's uncomfortable. It's loud. It's confining. Wouldn't you say?"

"Yes, and it's made worse by the screaming," she said.

"At least you and I have the words to express that we're uncomfortable, right?"

"Right," she said.

"You do know that babies and toddlers have limited vocabularies, right? They don't know how to communicate that they are uncomfortable or scared or sad. So they cry. That's all they've got."

She said nothing. Which was unfortunate, because when I'm on a roll, you should probably try to stop me.

"And you know what else? Their parents KNOW that you're up here complaining. They know that people looking at them and rolling their eyes and cursing them for being on this plane. It's not fun for them either because now they have an unhappy child AND they're embarassed and uncomfortable. You know what would be awesome? If instead of complaining, you offered them some sympathy. Because if you were in their seats? You would want that, so you can focus on your stressed out baby rather than the ridiculousness that other adults are offering you."

She looked furious and picked up her magazine. I put my headphones on and tried to find my better self, the one who doesn't tell off complete strangers on JetBlue flights. She was probably in there somewhere.


At any rate, we landed and I walked to the baggage claim. As I stood, waiting, a man tapped me on the back. "Excuse me miss," he said.


"I heard what you said on the plane."

"Oh," I said. "I don't usually --"

"One of those little ones was my grandson," he said. "So, thanks."

Maybe there's a place in the world for the occasionally cranky, outspoken nut after all.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

In The Swing

The Scots invented golf. I imagine that they invented Scotch not long after, to help them to deal with the frustration of golf. (Or, perhaps, they invented Scotch FIRST, and after a long evening of imbibing, then decided that they should invent a sport that looked simple and super easy but which would, in actuality, make grown men weep and curse the fates with some regularity. It could have gone either way, I suppose.)

My father played golf when he was a young man, before my parents were married. And then he stopped. I knew that he had an interest in golf, but he didn't play.

("Keep your head down. Bobble heads don't swing very well," he says.)

At least, he didn't play until he moved to North Carolina. At that point, he rediscovered the game and began playing with some regularity.

("It's a GAME, Danielle," he says to me. "It's supposed to be FUN. Are you having fun? Because when you stop having fun is when it all starts to fall apart.")

He kept asking me if I wanted to go to the driving range. I kept saying no. There were a number of reasons for this, but the main ones were that I'm a little (or, you know, a LOT) competitive, and I didn't want anyone to see me making a complete buffoon of myself; also, I vividly remember my dad teaching me to drive a stick, and how terrible that was for both of us, and I thought that maybe combining a history of frustration with heavy golf clubs was an incredibly terrible idea.

("Don't think about the ball," he says. "Think about the swing. The goal is not actually to hit the ball. The ball is simply in the path of the swing. If you swing well, you can't HELP but hit the ball.")

But I finally went.

And I fell in love with it.

Which, honestly, was surprising, because historically, I'm not athletic. I am clumsy, goofy and awkward, and not known for being coordinated. I like hiking, but I pack a lot of bandaids and ace bandages because falling down is inevitable. When I play any kind of sport that involves catching (or hitting) a ball, the odds are high that at some point? I will be struck by said ball. Probably in the head. I'm not sporty.

In the words of a former colleague: "It's too bad for you that dressing up and accessorizing is not a sport. Because you have that down. Actual sports? Not so much." I couldn't be offended because it was true.

("That," he says, after a moment's consideration, "was an excellent swing." He gets back in the cart. "Good job, Danielle.")

So. I asked my dad to teach me to play. He thought about it.

"Yeah," he said. "Yeah, okay."

There are not a lot of places where my father and I are in tune. We often find each other difficult. However, when we're on the golf course, it's different. Something happens in the hush, with the sound of birds in the background and the slight jingle of the clubs as they rustle in the back of the golf cart. There is some sort of magic in the whoooosh-THWACK of a well driven ball down the fairway.

("Hooked it," he says. "But at least I didn't hit any trees. Baby steps.")

There are a million reasons why I love golf. If you've ever been obsessed with a sport (or hobby) then you know -- the reasons why are not necessarily understood by anyone who doesn't play.

But mostly, I love golf because I feel like it gave me a relationship with my dad that I didn't have before.

(We're watching a little kid on the driving range. He's about seven. He sets up his shot and swings. It's beautiful. He looks at his dad, who stands behind him, for approval; I can't hear what his father says, but I see him reach down and ruffle the little guy's hair. My dad says, "He's working on it."

Me too, I think. Me too.)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Best Wishes

I'm going on vacation.* (I know some of you are thinking, Hey, didn't she just go on vacation, like, two weeks ago? And yes, I took two days off. But this is a longer, festive, going away vacation. So stop judging.)

I'm going on vacation so I can attend a wedding. More specifically, I'm going to the wedding of my youngest cousin, Chris.

To be perfectly honest, I don't really know Chris all that well. This is partially due to the fact that I was 15 when he was born. I remember it quite well. I remember my aunt plunked him into my arms and I was like, DUDE, I am NOT the baby-holding type and just prayed that he wouldn't start to scream or throw up on me. He actually did neither, but looked up at me like "Seriously, what's your damage?" and I immediately loved him. (Plus, he was a pretty cute baby.)

But my aunt and uncle lived about an hour away, and I was a teenager who had, you know, important teenager stuff to do, so it's not like I saw him all that often. Teenagers and babies don't usually kick it in the same circles, and the age difference? Let's just say this: he was in kindergarten when I was in college. I was teaching high school when he was IN high school. It's an odd dynamic.

And now he's getting married.

It's kind of freaking me out. Not because of the "OMG I'm SO OLD YIKES" because I honestly don't feel that way. It's more of a sense of -- where have the years gone?  How did I not notice how quickly time passes?  And -- since it does pass so quickly, shouldn't I make sure to spend it well? Shouldn't we all try to do that? Not with regret and anger and fear, but with happiness and an open heart?

I know this: if my time is rushing by, then I want to know that I have used those moments joyfully and lovingly.

Which, at the end of it, is what I am hoping for Chris and his lovely Sam. That the time goes by in joy and love.  Those are my best wishes.

*So yeah, I might post while I'm on vacation. I probably will. But maybe not every day... we will definitely return to regularly scheduled programming on August 11th.

Monday, August 1, 2011

In Appreciation

I think we ALL know the guy who wants every single thing that he does to be remarked upon or appreciated, and the minute you don't do that, he gets a little cranktastic.

Ever notice that he doesn't ever appreciate anything anyone else does? What's that about?

"Worship me, for all I do is AWESOME!"

"Hey, I just did something awesome ..."

"Ah, no one cares about you. Tell me how much you appreciate MY AWESOME. Wait, you haven't even MENTIONED my AWESOME. I must now berate you in a highly demoralizing fashion."

NOT festive.

I hope that I remember always to tell people when I think they're fabulous, or when they're doing something fabulous. I hope I remember to tell people how much I appreciate them. However, I think that I don't. I'd like to be better at that.

I think we all want to be appreciated.