Monday, December 31, 2012

The Shawshank Redemption and my Grampa

I watched The Shawshank Redemption for the first time over the weekend, and found myself thinking about my grandfather for reasons I can't entirely explain except that he was from Maine and he loved a good story.

Very few of the people who know me had the chance to meet my grampa, which is unfortunate because he was one of those people who loves EVERYONE. Seriously. If I brought you through the door? He'd have been your new best friend. He'd have asked you about your job, and your relationships, and your life in general, but not in the way that makes you feel like you're being interrogated. He was just interested. He loved people. Perhaps more importantly, he had the gift of meeting people exactly where they were and liking them there.

He was special like that.

One of the last real conversations I remember having with him was about stories. Not The Shawshank Redemption, though. He had a brain tumor. I was 21 and in college, and I convinced him that he was doing ME a favour by letting me move in -- because otherwise, he'd NEVER have gone for it (Grampa had a thing about putting people out, so I had to sell him on the idea that driving to my college campus from his house was MUCH better than driving from my hometown, which it totally was, even though I had to quit my job to make it work) and had overloaded on courses that semester, which, since I was an English major, meant that I was reading 3 novels and at least four plays a week.

The amount of reading caught his attention. I have always been a reader, but now I was buried in books.

I should mention here that, in addition to being the most interested person in others ever, my grampa had wanted to be a teacher. Except, you know, World War Two intervened, so he enlisted before he could have graduated from high school. Along with ALL THREE of his brothers.

One of them didn't come home. That's what happens in war.

And G (as we came to call him) didn't graduate from high school. So, no  teacher career for him. (I wish -- I so wish -- I had asked him more about his life. But I was young and foolish with it, so I didn't. I should have.) After my freshman year in college, I decided that teaching was the job for me. This was partially because I had great, inspiring  teachers and wanted to give back to a field that had given me so much, but also?  I wanted to make my grampa proud.

After his brain tumor diagnosis (which came after my nana was placed in the Alzheimer's ward of a local nursing home), after I'd moved in, he commented one day on the stack of books that had taken over the table in the formal dining room (along with my computer, which fascinated him).

"Those stories," he said one day, over coffee. "All those stories."


"Do you like them?"

"I love them."

"You read so much." He said, and paused. "Do you ever want to tell your own stories?"

"Sometimes," I said. "But I don't have a lot of time for that."

"You should make the time," he said. "You never have as much as you think."

Five weeks later, he was gone. He had complications during the surgery for the brain tumor, you see. He couldn't make peace with a body he could no longer control, and he died.

It broke my heart.

You never have as much time as you think.

And maybe that's why The Shawshank Redemption -- which I had read a million times, but which I had not watched before -- made me cry, and made me think of my grandfather. In the movie, Andy Dufresne says:  "Get busy living, or get busy dying." Which my brain translated as: Tell the stories, or don't. But don't think you have time. You don't.

So now I'm telling them.

I just wish G was here to read them.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Friday. Random.

It snowed yesterday. And by "snowed" I mean the skies opened up and with a floofy thump, over a foot of snow was dumped all over everything.


But oh my, there was a lot of it.

Now, for those of you who aren't aware, here are two facts about my life:

1) I work from home.

2) I drive a VW Rabbit. A low to the ground, buried in snow, barely even visible at that point Rabbit.

Fact #1 is important because I normally get dressed for work. I dress casually, but I get dressed. Yesterday, though, I knew that I would have to go out and shovel the Rabbit out, since the snow was covering the tires. I put on my favorite black sweatpants because a) they're comfortable and b) they don't LOOK like the sweatpants of old (which is to say they're not cinched about the ankle. They're straight legged sweaties! Faaaaahbulous!) and they'd be warm during the shovelling. Then I put on a long sleeved black t-shirt and a black and grey striped sweater. I looked comfy and presentable. Work mindset engaged. I went to work.

I watched it snow.

I kept thinking about having to dig out the Rabbit and making scowly faces. At one point, I may have actually had the thought: "This is why I need a manpanion. Or an LL Bean Boyfriend." But then I thought, "I am WOMAN. WATCH ME SHOVEL."

Yeaaaaaaah. About that.

It was ... not effective. Not even a little. No matter how much snow I cleared away from the car, I had no traction. The tires spun. The car stayed put.

In the meantime, I may have fallen into a snowbank and also had a mild asthma attack (cold + my lungs = lack of air. Not enjoyable).

There I was. Wet, cold, and wheezing. I gave up and trudged up the stairs, breath whistling in and out like a tea kettle.

I went into the house and put coffee on and used my inhaler, dripping snow onto the kitchen floor. Once those things were attended to, I took stock of my current state as I toed off my boots. My sweater and shirt weren't wet. My sweaties, however, were SOAKED and cold. I was pretty cold overall. So...

... I grabbed my polar fleece jammie pants.

This would not be remarkable, except for what these pants look like. They're navy blue. They have light blue stars and little white moons on them and they're so cozy and warm. Wearing them is like living inside all of your happiest thoughts.

I put them on. Then I put on my purple slippers, the ones that look like Chuck Taylors.

And THEN I looked at myself.

Grey and black striped sweater? Check. Navy blue pants with stars printed all over them? Check. Bright purple slippers? Check.

Oh well, I thought. I mean, I work from HOME! Who's gonna see me? No one! I don't need to match, no one will care, lalalalalala --


The doorbell rang.

Let me say this: The UPS guy is here a lot. And generally, when he comes here, he talks to the cat a little bit and is mildly flirty.

Yesterday, I opened the door and he gave me a look that said "Dear Jesus, when did they release you from the asylum?" and then he said, out loud, as though he couldn't help himself: "Wow. You ... usually match."

"Yeah. Um. It's my birthday?" I heard myself saying, as though it being my BIRTHDAY was a rational reason for looking like a complete moron.

He handed me my package silently. Oh well, I thought. At least I'm comfortable.


But comfortable.

Thursday, December 27, 2012


When your birthday is two days after Christmas and you live in the Northeast, you expect some things:

*You expect that no one will be around.

*You expect that people might forget due to the bustle of the holiday.

*You expect that you might, you know, have a blizzard.

If you're me, you might also expect that you'll be sick, which is what I did for about ... let's see ... 26 years running, culminating with my 26th birthday. (I had mono. It was less than festive.) Every year that my birthday isn't also a time when I find myself in the hospital? It's a good year!

This year, none of those things have happened. Well, except for the blizzard. Holy snowstorm, y'all.

At any rate, I'm one of those people who kind of likes getting older. I know it's weird. But every year is kind of like a badge of honour, so I'm fine with it. It's kind of fun. (Well, maybe not for my mom. When I mentioned that I would be turning forty in a few short years, there was a pause on the other end of the phone and she said, "Oh. My. Let's not discuss that.")

Thirty-six was pretty splendid, all in all.

Thirty-seven? Is going to be freaking awesome.

And since it's my birthday and I get to do what I want, I'll make a birthday wish for you: I hope this year is freaking awesome for you as well. Have some adventures. Be bold. Be HAPPY. Hug some people and tell them you love them.

I know I will.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


I like to buy myself presents for Christmas/ my birthday. One, because I generally know what I really want (hellllloooo, swiss army knife with all the tools!) and two, because I think that sometimes, it's a good idea to acknowledge your own worth TO YOURSELF. It's super easy to look in the mirror and think of all of the things that are wrong with you -- we all do it a zillion times a day -- but it's much harder (and less likely) that you will look in the mirror and think, "Dang, I'm awesome."

But you should do that once in a while.

And sometimes, you should also say to yourself, "In acknowledgement of my fabulousness, I would like to treat myself to something."

So I do.

But this year, I decided to give myself something different. One, because there is not a lot of extra cash money in the casa. Two, because I decided I really need this present. A LOT.

My gift to myself, then, is this: I am letting it go. If there are people who need to be released from my expectations of them? They are released, and with a small blessing. I am also released of my frustrations with them, and with my own failure to communicate those expectations. If there are experiences in my past that are weighing me down? They are released into the past, where they belong -- again, with blessings and love -- and now I can move more lightly into the future (despite the fact that I ate my way through the holidays. Holiday food is DELICIOUS. Whatever.)

Financially? Most affordable present ever.

Emotionally? A little bit expensive, at first. I've noticed that it's easy to hold onto things -- people, emotions, negativity -- as though they are a security blanket. It seems to me, though, that blanket is made out of barbed wire; sure, you can wrap yourself in it, but it's kind of ... stabby.

Bye, bye, blankie. So long, baggage. Hello, whatever happens when you put your baggage down. (What will it be? I don't know. But I know that I'm smiling more and bleeding less, so ... that's something.)

I deserve this gift.

And so, my friend, do you.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve

First click here so you can listen to one of my favorite Christmas songs. (It will open in another window. Hit play and then come back here. It doesn't seem to be available for download anywhere, which is a complete shame.)

And now let me tell you about what I did over the weekend.

On Saturday, I went to the home of some friends, Tom and Kelly Frey. They have this huge open house/cookie extravaganza every year at this time. I've never before been able to attend (what with the fact that they live in Maine, and I lived in North Carolina, and also I'm bad with directions, tend to get lost, and did I mention I have panic attacks at the thought of gatherings?), but this year I sucked it up, got out the GPS, and off I went.*


I haven't seen these people in ... um... fourteen years? Did. Not. Matter. For the record, I don't think I know people with bigger hearts, or who are more genuinely kind and generous. Even for me, who tends to fall right off the map with some regularity. You know what's better than being welcomed into someone's home with a giant, delighted hug?

Nothing. Nothing at all, really.

So. For you -- for all of us -- on Christmas? I hope you have that kind of warmth in your life. I hope that someone offers it to you, and I hope that you are able to offer it to someone else. Because that's what it's about.

Merry Christmas.

*with nary a panic attack. Progress!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday Randoms

10 Things I Love About the Holidays

10. Decorations.

Once upon a time, I didn't really decorate for the holidays. This was in 2006, but to be fair to me, I was so depressed that I didn't do a lot of things -- like smile. Or laugh. Or sleep. So my mother, completely outraged by my lack of a tree, went shopping and found the cutest, tiniest little artificial tree in a bucket and brought it to my crappy apartment and demanded "DECORATE THIS."

"I don't want to."

"Yes, you DO," she insisted. (If you've met my mum, you know that she's not a very big person? But don't cross her.)

So I decorated it. I plugged the lights in. And damn if she wasn't right -- the whole place was bathed in a warm glow. Like the Grinch, I think my heart grew a little bit -- or at the very least, allowed some of the light and warmth to sink in so the world seemed to suck a little less.

Also, antidepressants. Very helpful.

At any rate, a couple of years ago I was once again treeless (though not because I was depressed -- mostly because I had only recently moved here and couldn't get my act together to decorate) and I have to tell you -- it was not fun.

You know what is fun?

This. This is SO FUN.

9. Holiday Music

Don't worry, I'm not going to make you sit through another video.

Wait. YES I AM.

Click here if the embed fails!

8. Mulled Wine

Do you want to know how to make the most delicious mulled wine ever? Oh, you do? Here you go:

1.5 litre bottle red wine (I like a cabernet, myself)
4 cups apple cider
1/4 to 1/2 cup honey
4 cinnamon sticks
6 cloves
5 pieces dried star anise
2 oranges, zested and juiced

Dump it all together in a pan. Heat through. DRINK AND BE MERRY, Y'ALL

7. Love, Actually

ALAN RICKMAN. That is all. Actually, his Alanness is not the only reason I love this movie. There are also exchanges like this:

(Broken link? Click here!)
6. Kindness

It used to bug me -- a LOT -- that people seemed to go out of their way to be kind and giving to others at Christmas, because I want us all to treat each other well ALL OF THE TIME. But you know what? I'll take the kindness where I can get it. Hugs all around.

5. Parties

You guys all know that going out to parties can make me ... anxious. In the "why am I no longer on medication for this" kind of way. Having said that? I love a Christmas party, because ... they're happy, as a rule, and danged if I don't think we could all use a little more happy. So I slog through the anxiety and the crippling sense that I'm about to die and the inability to breathe and I go, and once I get past all of that? Joy, plain and simple. (And to the concerned parties out there making uh-oh noises, YES, I'm considering going back on the meds. Thank you for caring.)

4. Love

Because, really, who doesn't love love? I love love. I love seeing it manifested in great big ways and in itty bitty ones, and screw Valentine's Day -- this time of year is really what love is all about.

3. Hope

The love and kindness and stuff that you see all over the place during the holidays? Those are about hope, my friends. Hope that we could, actually, make a better world. Hope that we can indeed love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Hope that if you light a candle in the darkness, someone else will too, and then there will be two. And then, three, and then more until the dark? Isn't so dark at all. Isn't that what A Christmas Carol is kind of about? Isn't that what life should be about anyway?

2. Christmas Episodes of NCIS

Every time I get to see Mark Harmon on screen is kind of like Christmas, now that I think about it ...

1. All of YOU

Actually, I love you guys all of the time. Every time you come here, it gives me a reason to keep doing this. And that? Is a HUGE gift to me. So thanks. And have a happy holiday season, y'all. You're the best.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

4 AM Wake Up Call

I know, she looks so sweet and innocent. That's how they SURVIVE.

Bean -- who, it's pretty obvious, has me wrapped around her fluffy paws and floofy, scritchable tummy -- has a new favorite thing. It's called: "Wake Yellie up at 4 AM."

This is not, as you might guess, MY new favorite thing.

Those of you who have not had the pleasure of meeting Miss Bean won't know this, so I will tell you: Bean doesn't meow. Her meow-er is broken. However, she has a wide array of vocalizations, all of which sound like they're straight out of a movie about the cutest animals ever. She kind of ... chirps. And makes noises that honestly, sound kind of like questions, like "Brrrrrpppffft?"

The adorable factor of this when I am awake? Through the roof.

It's not so cute when it's waking me up. No, wait, that's a lie. It's still pretty freaking cute. But that doesn't stop me from swatting in her general direction in a "please, for the love of all that is holy, allow me to go back to sleep" manner.

It rarely works.

Apparently, in Beansie's walnut sized little brain, something happens at 4 AM. That something is only loosely related to the desire for noms and seems to be more like "Oh, look, there's my human. I LOVE HER. SHE NEEDS TO BE AWAKE SO I CAN TELL HER I LOVE HER."

There's chirping. And mad purring. And pushing her face into my face and licking my nose (and, okay, maybe nipping at it quite gently). And then, when none of those things work, she goes for it and ...

... well. You know how I always say she's a few bricks shy of a load? She is. But she is also DIABOLICAL. Because if none of the other "Hey, Yellie, GET UP" tricks work, she gets behind my pillow, purring and chirping away ("laalaalaaaaaa it's a brand new day and I love my hummmmaaaaannn") and then bites my hair and YANKS.

People: this is not the way you would like to greet your day. In case you were wondering, 15 pounds of cat can apply quite a bit of force to an unsuspecting scalp.

Also, in case you were wondering why I don't just shut her out of the room? It's not ONLY because I spoil her rotten (and yes, I am willing to admit that I do) but also because it breaks her little heart. We're talking about a cat who, when I go to the mailbox, runs to the window so she can watch me come back. Who gets so lonely when I shower that she feels compelled to join me. Who starts purring when I say her name.  If I shut her out of a room I am in, she not only cries as though she's being taken to the vet, but she also hurls herself against the door with loud, dramatic thuds which are kind of counterproductive if the end goal is keeping the cat from waking you up.

None of the above, by the way, is what is driving me batty about the 4 AM wake up calls.

No. What IS driving me batty is this: I get up. She purrs with joy and runs out of the room so she can jump up onto the dining room table and see where I'm going so she can follow me there. I inevitably change out her food (which she may or may not be interested in), give her some cookies (which she'll eat), get her some new water (which she will not care about), make some coffee, and then sit on the couch.

Where she will join me.

And where she will promptly curl up and ...


This ... THIS ... is what makes me bitter and angry with the world. Some days I look at her and think, "I should totally bug her so she knows how it feels."

But then I look at her sweet little snoozie face and don't. Because she's so cute.

And because I am a SUCKER.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

For Laura, and All The Rest

I ran into a former student yesterday at the grocery store. She looked beautiful -- polished, adult, composed. At one point she said:

"I didn't end up where I thought I would."

I said, "You know, life takes you places that you didn't necessarily intend to go." We chatted for a few minutes and then parted ways.

I've been thinking about it, though, and about the things I wish I had said. What I should have said was this:

Life is tricky. It gives you gifts you could never have dreamed of and takes things from you that you could never imagine losing.  It can make you doubt yourself. It can make you learn to believe in yourself. It can rob you of your trust and restore your faith. 

You might not end up where you thought you would. I certainly didn't. But the place you find yourself? That's where you were meant to be, even if it's only a stepping stone to the next place and even if it's not where you envisioned yourself going.

Sometimes it's difficult, I won't lie. You will go to places that are hurtful. The pain, though, will always be balanced out by healing. Sorrow will always be balanced out by joy. If there's one thing I've learned, it's that.

And I should have said to her: The world still belongs to you. The future is still wide open. You can still get to that place, the one you thought you might want to go, if that's what you want.

We all can.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

If the Mayans are Right ...

... I'll be annoyed.

I mean, the bonus bit is that yesterday was the last Monday I'll have to deal with, ever. And I won't be turning 37 next week, not that there's anything wrong with that. So there's that.

But mostly? I'll be seriously irritated that I didn't do some things. Such as the following:

1) I have been wanting and wanting and WANTING to have my right arm super heavily tattooed. Sleeve? YES PLEASE. But my friends who are (mostly) more responsible than I am have been arguing against it for professional reasons, and I've been trying to listen because I'm pretty sure that they're probably right even though I also know that I'm geared more towards the kind of fields where my coworkers would drop trou to show some new ink. (Has this happened in my world, you ask? YES IT HAS. I'm THAT girl.)

But if the world actually comes to a screeching halt (well, I mean, I would imagine there might be a bit of screeching?) I won't have the chance to actually render myself unemployable by corporate America. What a shame.

2) I never DID go blonde. How pasty pale would I have looked? WE'LL NEVER KNOW SNIFFLE SOB.

3) To all of the people who never knew I had ridiculous crushes on them: Well, I did. And you never ever knew, and you never ever will, which is so pointless but necessary in case the Mayans were wrong and I actually run into you, because of the humiliation and awkwardness. But if the world DID end? I'll be pissed that I never humiliated and awkwarded myself more fully by TELLING you. (It's a catch-22 we're all going to have to live with. Or not. Whatever.)

4) So many books I didn't have the chance to read. SO MANY.

The thing is, though, that though I don't believe the world is going to end on Friday, I am more aware since last Friday of how delicate our positions are here. Time, as the song says, is fleeting. So maybe I should do some of the things above -- get my hands on more books, take more chances, be more daring -- because there's only now.

So I need to stop waiting.

And so do you. Take a chance. Take a leap. Make a change. Why not? Mistakes aren't failures, they're just opportunities for learning, right?

(Except maybe for number 3. I don't have the self esteem for that.)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Yes, Virginia

I needed to read this again today. Maybe you do too. So here it is.

"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?


VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Friday, December 14, 2012


When there’s a school shooting, people who know I used to work in a school inevitably reach out to me. “How does this happen,” they ask. “How do you feel?”

Heartbroken, actually.

I was a student teacher when Columbine happened. I worked with 10th graders. When I walked into school the next day, my co-teacher said, “I think you should debrief this with them.”

“Why?” I said. Not that I didn’t think it merited discussion – it did, and still does – but why me, with my relative inexperience.

“If they see you’re not broken,” she said gently, “they won’t be broken. I work here. I have to put on the brave face. But if they know that you aren’t quitting, they won’t quit.”

I think that maybe that’s the answer. We cannot let senseless acts of violence break us. We cannot quit. We do not stop practicing kindness and courage and compassion. We refuse to let a hard world make us hard. We hold the ones we love tight and say a prayer for our neighbors, and we continue to believe in a better world. We continue to make a better world.

I refuse to be broken.

I will not quit.

And I will light a candle as a way to ward off the darkness.

Friday Randoms


Best compliment ever:  "You're like my Tinkerbell, if Tinkerbell was ten times more cool, with the chops to write for a Whedon show."


"I held a baby!"

"Oh. My. God. I think the Mayans may have been right. THE WORLD IS ENDING."

"I know."

"Did you hate it?"

"I ... loved it."


"Very funny."

"Seriously, I think my entire worldview just shattered."


"Did you watch the concert last night?"


"Is it me, or is Jon Bon Jovi, like, aging in reverse? He looks AMAZING."

"He's like chipmunk boy in that movie."


"You know, Brad Pitt? Aging backwards in that movie no one saw?"

"Oh yeah. Wait,  I saw that movie. I hated it."


"Will you STOP with that... are you thinking the cute little stripey ones?"

"Yes, and now you are too."


"What are you up to?"

"I'm listening to old Garth Brooks cds and flipping through photo albums."

"I'll be over in ten minutes."

"Bring whiskey. Oh, and a cowboy or two if you can find one."


"Remember when I wasn't a shitty driver?"


"Oh yeah, I guess I imagined that."

Thursday, December 13, 2012

What Am I Even DOING?

... Y'all, I don't KNOW!

In case you were wondering what's going on in the Hizzouse (did I just type that? I TOTALLY DID), here it is.

1)  This  place reopened, which is causing rejoicing throughout the land. (That's not really an exaggeration, I don't think. You should go there.)

2) I had to break up with an old friend. Sometimes, the universe will throw you together with people you really love? But can't help bashing up against in a highly destructive way and at some point, you have to realize: nothing healthy is happening here. We're bringing out the worst in each other. So you have to make a choice, right? It sucks though. I will miss you, my friend.

3) I decided to stop apologizing for things. Don't like the way I look? Too bad. Don't like what I have to say? Don't listen. Don't like my friends? Don't hang out with us. Don't like my cat? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU SHE'S AWESOME. I've been apologizing for myself for 36 years and that seems like quite enough. Everyone's going to have to deal.

4) My friends had a baby. As Infertile Myrtle over here, babies make me a little nervous. But OH I love this baby. I love her tiny little fingers and her perfect little mouth and her toes and her fuzzy baby hair and her precious little face. I love her mom and dad and the life they will help her to make and the things that her future holds and all of the people who love her just as much as I love her. So, yeah. That happened.

5) Remember when I threw out my scale? This is the longest I've ever gone without a scale. It's ...


I really want to buy a new scale.

I'm not going to, though.

You know what else I'm not doing anymore? (And I'm TERRIFIED, more than when I tossed the scale...)


Now, you may have beheld the size of my ass and thought "Sister, that is a MISTAKE" and I will have to refer you to Item #3 on this list, but I will also say this:

I'm 36. I have been on a diet for ... ALL OF THAT TIME. Different kinds, mind you -- the delivered food kind and the points kind and the no fat kind and the no carbs kind and the starvation kind and the liquid kind and all of the other kinds in between and here's what I've noticed -- they're all about punishing myself. I've never been on a diet that is loving. All of the diets I've ever seen/been on/invented (because oh boy, I can be creative) are about announcing that I'm an idiot who isn't good enough and who, as such, must treat myself badly and acknowledge that I'm deficient.

I realized the extent of this problem when I looked around my cupboards the other day and everything was in cans or frozen for my convenience, but nothing looked like real food.

No more, kids. Scale or no scale, big ass or no big ass (and let's face it: I'm ALWAYS gonna have the big ass, it is what it is), I'm done. DONE DONE DONE.

And I'm scared because it occurs to me that I don't know how to eat without some kind of ... rules.

But oh well. Here goes nothing.

That's what's going on in this neck of the woods -- what are you guys up to?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Love/ Hate Wednesday

I'm in a weird, off mood. So I don't want to hate anything today. I just want to show you something I love.

Have a happy day, y'all.

As always, if the embed doesn't work, click here.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


I was in Boston Sunday night for a concert, and before the show, my friend and I had some time to wander about Quincy Market. Which, yes, tourist trap, blah blah blah, but can I just tell you?

I love me some Quincy Market.

True story: When I was in college in Boston, I used to wake up much earlier on the weekend than my roommates... and all of my friends ... and probably, honestly, nearly everyone else in the city. I've always been an early riser. As anyone who's ever lived with other people in very cramped quarters knows, this is often awkward because you can't really DO anything without running the risk of waking the roommate, which seems rude.

So I would leave. I'd take myself off to Quincy Market, get a coffee, and then wander down to Columbus Park and look out over the harbour, drinking my coffee and thinking my thinks. When the coffee was gone, I'd go back to Quincy Market and people watch until I thought that it would probably be safe to return to our pad on Hemenway Street without waking anyone up.

I loved those mornings.

At any rate, Quincy Market is all decked out for the holidays and looking its festive best. Big old Christmas tree, lights everywhere. Fabulous. And then, much to my delight, I could hear the Boston Pops playing.


The lights started twinkling in conjunction with the music.

I know, it sounds incredibly cheesetastic. It sounds ridiculous.


(You'd have to see it, I think. And you should. Get on the train and get over there. Have some coffee. Just sit and watch. Totally worth it.)

At any rate, I was walking in a happy holiday haze when I heard it. The beginning of the Hallelujah Chorus.

Which brings me to another "when I was in college" story ... and since I have SO few of these (which is a story in and of itself), I'll share this one too.

Freshman year in college, and I was ... sort of ... seeing a guy who lived down the hall from me. I liked him quite a lot. Right before Thanksgiving, he asked me if I wanted to go to the symphony at Christmastime to see/hear Handel's Messiah.

Um, yes.

So he got the tickets and we planned to go.

And then I went home for Thanksgiving. He did NOT go home for Thanksgiving. Instead, he stayed at the dorm and threw me over for a slender blonde with a ridiculous nickname who had ALSO stayed at the dorm over the holiday. (This was when I learned that sometimes, in relationships? It can come down to nothing more than proximity. And blondeness.)

Suffice it to say that he kind of no longer wanted to go to the symphony with me.

A better woman than I would have been like, no, you should totally take the new girl. Unfortunately, I'm not a better woman. I was, however, a slightly bitter woman because, really? Who gets dumped for going home for Thanksgiving?

Plus, you know, the symphony. Band Geek here.

We went. I got all dressed up. My friend Jay (bless him) had a talking to with the young man about being nice to me, and maybe wearing a tie. We went to Symphony Hall. The music started.

And I forgot about cranky Dumper McCheaterson beside me. I forgot that we were barely speaking to each other or that I was still kind of mad at him. I forgot that the shoes that I was wearing were not comfortable and that I was overdressed and looked like kind of an idiot. I forgot everything except for the music.

It was so beautiful.

I'd heard it before, of course. Again, Band Geek. I was down with some Handel. But I'd never heard it like this. NOTHING had ever sounded like this. It was like being wrapped in a blanket of the most amazing sound.

I may have cried a little bit. I'm just saying.

I'd like to say that evening repaired my relationship with the Quicker Breaker-Upper. It didn't. I don't think we ever spoke again, to be honest. We just went in different directions, which I realize now is kind of what you're supposed to do when you're 18.

I thought of him, though, when I was standing in Quincy Market, hands pressed together, listening to the Hallelujah Chorus and watching the lights twinkle. I sent him a little prayer of goodwill. Because he taught me some things, about who I was and who I wanted to be, and what it meant to be gracious, and also? He gave me the Messiah.

Hallelujah for that.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Dreaming and Daring

I read somewhere recently that you never dream about people you've never seen. Every person in your dreams is someone you've actually viewed at least once, which means that the women my brain cast as Amish sisters who were taking part in an obstacle course (one portion of which involved swimming through a tank filled with eels and some especially large, angry looking fish) that was ALSO a televised reality show were people I have seen before, though I don't recognize them.

The older sister was a very good swimmer, by the way. The younger one had some trouble because she was frightened of the fish, though the eels didn't bother her.

I was willing to accept the "You only dream about people you've seen" theory at first, because science, but then I wondered, how do you prove that? How do they KNOW?  It seems to me as thought that could be a statement that would drive fellow researchers crazy at cocktail parties. "Prove your theory is true!" "No, you prove it ISN'T true!" "Smithers, fetch me another martini!"

I've been thinking about dreams lately, because as always seems to happen when Insomnia is slouching around my apartment, a delinquent in a black leather jacket with cigarettes rolled into his sleeves, I've been playing vivid and bizarre movies in my mind when I do manage to go to sleep. I don't remember them all (and I've never been one who writes them down) though the "Wipe Out"ish one from last night is lingering with me -- possibly because there were SO MANY eels in that tank, and the fish had such enormous teeth.

And why was it important that the sisters I was working with (I was not a contestant, I might add, but a production assistant) were Amish? Though now I'm thinking that perhaps they weren't Amish at all, but just very quaintly dressed. 

I was going to go on some sort of dorktastic literary theory nuttiness about dreams here (NERD ALERT) but now I'm not, because it strikes me as significant and kind of sad that even in my dreams I'm a worker bee. I don't even allow myself to play when I'm DREAMING. Instead, I stay behind the scenes, comfort the scared girl, make sure the eels are properly fed, convince a coworker to handle the big ugly fish. There may have been exhilaration and daring present -- the older sister ROCKED that tank, y'all, if only you could have seen her in her 1920's ish bathing suit, all modesty, slicing through the water while the fish crossed her path menacingly and the eels wriggled around her and emerging triumphantly on the other side -- but none of it was mine (though I was quite happy for both her and her sister, who didn't complete it so smoothly but was certain she could make up for the time on the portion of the course that involved an impossibly vast chasm and a very tiny rope bridge because "heights are not an issue for me").

You might be thinking that I'm over thinking it, that it was just a dream and that dreams don't really mean anything. I understand that sentiment, but I also know this: I have become boring to myself. Not because I'm a behind the scenes kind of a girl-- I'm proud of what I'm able to accomplish back here-- but because I've become the girl who only owns black clothing because I would no longer ever consider being on stage, in front of the lights.


I need to find a tank full of eels and take the plunge. Only, please Lord, let that remain simply a metaphor because ... eeew.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Friday Randoms


"Whatcha doing?"

"Watching Downton Abbey, drinking wine, and practicing a variety of British accents from the comforts of my couch."

"Why would you do that?"

"Why WOULDN'T you do that?"


"So, before you start to yell at me -- which would be completely appropriate and understandable -- let me say this: I was wrong. I messed up. I would like to know how to avoid making that mistake in the future, so when you're done yelling at me -- which, again, I totally understand -- can we work together to develop a plan to make sure this doesn't happen again?"

"Oh. Well. Now I feel like I can't yell at you."

"No, really, go ahead. I think we'll all feel better. And by that I mean you'll feel better. I'll just be sad."


"See! Do you feel better now?"


"If I had known this conference call was going to be two and a half hours long, I would have had lunch sent into my office."

"Dude. If I had known this conference call was going to be two and a half hours long, I wouldn't have had three cups of coffee before and one during. I think my bladder is going to explode, and this is NOT how I want to die."


"Have you ever really looked at Brad Pitt and thought that he looks a bit like a chipmunk?"


"Look at this photo. He's got, like, a chipmunk face. All I can think of is Chip and Dale. I mean, if either of them were humanitarians and (snort) serious actors."

"... thanks for ruining him for me."

"What? Chipmunks are cute."


"I bought ramen at the dollar store the other day."

"Was it good?"

"It tasted kind of like nostalgia and depression, so all in all I'd say it was fine."

"Please tell me you drank Boone's Farm with it. Ohpleaseohpleaseohplease."

"Sorry, I wasn't able to bring myself to complete the 1994 collegiate fine dining experience."

Thursday, December 6, 2012

On Kindness

One of the things CG* HATED about me was my documented inability to leave well enough alone. Of course, this was mostly due to the fact that our definitions of "well enough" were drastically different. For him, it meant that he should rarely have to interact with random strangers. And for me...


I may be shy, and I may be awkward, but I'm also the girl who will talk to people who look like they need help. Of course, in my world, "needing help" means many, MANY different things. It might mean that you look a little sad. It might mean you're asking for directions. It might mean that you're trying to manage your bags and a toddler all alone at the airport. It might actually mean you've locked your child and your keys in your running car in North Carolina in the summertime.*

In any of those situations? I'm your girl. And I will go out of my way to help you.

The reason for this is quite simple: I've been in positions where I needed help, and when I did? People came to my aid.

It's not complicated.

What is problematic, at least to me, is that people so seldom expect others to be kind. It startles them. Acts of kindness have become heroic. They make the news. While it's nice to see kindness recognized, it's sad -- at least to me -- that it's suprising to people, as though we're much more accustomed to a raised fist than an open hand.

This is on my mind because two of my favourite people on the planet are (hopefully, if everything is cooperative) having a baby today. I have heard, several times, that this is a tough world to bring children into. I think, yes, maybe that's true, but then I think this:

It doesn't NEED to be.

Because the world can be full of kindness. You might be rolling your eyes at me -- CG would be -- but it takes very little more than saying to yourself: "Yes, I want to be open to helping other people. Yes, I will make sure to acknowledge that they are just as important as I am. Yes, I am willing to default to patience, even though sometimes it's REALLY HARD."

Sometimes it will be.

But mostly it won't be.

And it will always be worth it.

*The ex, in case you've forgotten or you're new to the party.

**Yes, this happened.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Love/Hate Wednesday (The Holiday Edition, Part One)

Oh Y'all, this would be the longest post ever if I didn't make myself stick to the two things format. But because there are so very many things during this season that I both love AND hate? Expect this to be a theme through December. (I mean, really. Can YOU choose only two things that you love or hate during the holidays? I can list at least 17 without even thinking about it.)

So first. And I know the video thing might be getting boring, but I REALLY want you to see/hear/love this.




(In case the above doesn't work, click here. )

In case you're all "Who are these ridiculously young people" please allow me to tell you. Once upon a time, NBC aired the only reality competition that I ever watched. It was called "The Sing Off" and you know it was good because Ben Folds was a judge.


It was an a capella singing competition and I feel bereft without it. Anyway, this is the group that won last year, in what would prove to be the final season. (Sniffle. Sob.)

So yeah. This? All voices. No instruments. ALL AWESOME ALL OF THE TIME.

And I love it. You should too.


Being the Person Who Remembers That Things Must Be Done

It happens every year. It shouldn't, but it does. The holidays roll around at the same time. EVERY YEAR.  And yet they strike people as a surprise, as though they didn't know they were coming.

So every year I remind my superiors at work "Um. Company gifts? Christmas cards?" And they're all "WHAT? Oh, I totally forgot!" because apparently the holidays are super stealthy, what with the marketing beginning before Halloween and all.

And then every year -- because I'm the girl, and because I poked the sleeping bear -- I end up with this on my plate. EVERY YEAR.

Here's why I hate this, though: because I end up making the choices and getting everything sent out because no one else wants to do it/ is capable of it/ can remember that it needs to happen? I'm also the one who gets every one of those choices scrutinized after the fact. "Oh, why did you pick out THIS card?" or "I was hoping the cards would have glitter on them!" or "Last year's gifts were nicer" or "I really think that we should move away from presents that might contain candy" or "I would have liked it if you had chosen a different vendor" or "How come you sent something to X and not Y even though I told you that X was definitely the way to go?"

Every year.

Hate it.

Next week:
Love: decorations
Hate: Wrapping gifts

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

... and Then I Got Sucked Into Downton Abbey ...

... I couldn't HELP it.

Here's what happened: I had plans that had to be cancelled due to a combination of not-so-good weather and my (generally acknowledged as poor) driving skills. As a result? I was bored and cranky, because I'd been looking forward to the event that I was now going to miss.

I watched the snow fall outside my window and the part of my brain that loves Robert Frost was pleased at the beauty. The part of my brain that wanted to go out and play with my friends was pouting. And yet another part of my brain suddenly mentioned that this situation required mulled wine, and would I please move all parts of my brain (and, you know, the rest of my person) into the kitchen and make some?

The other two parts of my brain perked up at the idea of warm, winey goodness and stopped rhapsodizing and pouting long enough to be all "oooooh, wine!" So off to the kitchen I went to mull away.

(As an aside, if you've got a pot filled with red wine and other things? Try not to drop a half of an orange into it. Turns out that will make a HUGE mess that you will have to clean up before you can enjoy any of your winey genius. Also, red wine? That'll stain. I mean, not that I DID that. TWICE.)

After successfully making what might be my new favourite beverage ever, I went into the living room and discovered that a) I no longer have HBO (which is weird, because I didn't CANCEL it and I don't know where it went) and b) there was nothing on tv. NOTHING. 100 plus channels and nothing to watch.

The pouty, "But I wanted to GOOOOO" part of my brain started whining again. I drank some wine. It briefly shut up.

And then I thought: hey, didn't I get Season One of Downton Abbey a while ago? I should watch that.

Now, you may be wondering how it came to be that I had purchased Downton Abbey and not actually watched it. The truth is that I don't watch very much television. I just don't. I don't like to sit that long (unless it's with a book, in which case my entire house could burn down around me and I might not notice because I'M BUSY). As a result, I caved and bought season one of Downton because people kept telling me I would love it, it was awesome, I needed it in my life, and then put it in the DVD shelf and promptly forgot about it. (This is not the same as Season One of The Walking Dead, which I purchased for the same reason but was too scared to make it through the first episode. Oh, and does anyone want Season One of The Walking Dead? Because, really.)

This would be a good time to watch, like, the first episode, I thought. Nothing else is happening right now.

Six hours later, I was STILL WATCHING. I'd forgotten about my wine. I'd forgotten it was snowing. I'd forgotten to eat dinner. I'd managed to forget that I'd had to clean my entire kitchen twice. I DID, however, manage to start sending my poor friend Shilo texts that said things like "OMG THE CLOTHES!" (She actually started watching this show when it was new-ish. Whatever, I'm only three years late to the party.)

I finally went to bed. In the morning, I made a cup of coffee and watched the last installment of the first season. It ended. I sat on the couch, staring at the credits.

"But there's MORE," the credits seemed to slyly whisper. "There are two more seasons. YOU NEED THEM!"

I looked out the window. It was clearly icy outside.

I looked at the tv. It looked back at me.

"AMAZON.COM,"I said out loud.

So, yeah. If you need me this week? I'll be in Downton Abbey. Catching up with Mr Bates and Anna and Lady Mary and the Dowager Countess. (And, probably, drinking mulled wine. Tis the season.)

Monday, December 3, 2012


I want to address something that comes up every year at this time and drives me completely mental.  This year, it came up early on when I was on Facebook and saw that someone had changed their status to show an arrow pointing up at their profile photo and the text “This Person (arrow, pointing) Will Be Wishing People MERRY CHRISTMAS.”

("This person" by the way, keeps referring to the tree they're putting up as a CHRISTmas tree, apparently unaware that -- and this is just according to the Encyclopedia Brittanica -- "Tree worship was common among the pagan Europeans and survived their conversion to Christianity in the Scandinavian customs of decorating the house and barn with evergreens at the New Year to scare away the devil" I'm just saying.)

At any rate, for THIS PERSON and his CHRISTmas loving buddies: Way to be. Rock on, with your Christmas-loving self.  That’s cool. If you say “Merry Christmas” to me? That will make me happy.

It will also make me happy if you wish me a Happy New Year. Or a Happy Chanukkah. Or a Happy Kwanzaa.  Or a Fabulous Festivus.

Or if you just say “Happy Holidays.” But I do have the feeling that if I say Happy Holidays to you? Things are going to escalate. QUICKLY. So I am going to point out the following. Again.

Saying “Happy Holidays” instead of” Merry ChristmaChanukwanzaatever” isn’t designed to take away from any of those holidays.  It just includes everyone. (Plus, it seems to me that TECHNICALLY you would only say Merry Christmas ON Christmas itself. You don’t go around saying “Happy Birthday” to someone for weeks before their birthday, or wish someone a Happy Easter for the entire month of April. However, that's just a technicality, I guess.) So “Happy Holidays” is a nice way of saying to someone “WHOA, there is a boatload of holidays coming up. Please, enjoy all of them!”

But oh boy, do people get irritated by “Happy Holidays” – it seems like the Christmas celebrating folk get the most worked up about it, but that’s just my impression (mostly created by the fact that no one has, so far, shown up on my Facebook wall announcing “THIS PERSON WILL BE WISHING PEOPLE HAPPY CHANUKKAH AND THE C IS SILENT, Y’ALL”).

Here’s what I think: there are so many things to get angry about in this world.  Are we REALLY going to get wrapped up about how we express goodwill toward one another? If I am trying to tell you that I want you to be happy, that I hope you are loved, that I wish amazing things for you, does the exact phrasing matter? Or does it matter that it comes from an honest and loving place in my heart? Because it seems to me that sentiment matters more than wording.  It seems to me that taking the time to wish someone joy is the whole point. So if you want to wish someone a Merry Christmas? Go ahead! And if they wish you “Happy Holidays” in return? They’re not trying to steal or devalue your holiday or beliefs. They’re just returning the well wishes.  That’s ALL. The words are meant as kindly as your words were meant, and believed as sincerely as yours were believed.

So. From me, to you, Merry Christmas. Happy Chanukkah. Merry Kwanzaa. Happy New Year.

Happy Holidays.