Monday, September 29, 2008

This and That

Whew! That last post was quite a ride. I'm going to be so sad now when my comments section doesn't top 40. I was thinking today we could talk about the financial bail-out. Um . . . as they say in cyber world, j/k. I.e., I'm totally kidding. I don't want to talk about the financial bail-out, because I have very little understanding about it and even less of an opinion. You should, however, feel free to discuss it amongst yourselves.

Also, I'd like to address another very important topic from the comments section on the last post. Yes, I am using a rotary phone at this time. Our cordless is on the brink. It doesn't charge even on the receiver, so it often dies mid-conversation. And for quite some time now, I haven't been able to dial any phone number with a 4 in it. (Lori, not that you would notice, but this is why I always call you from my cell phone). About the rotary, which came out from under the bed until we finally remember to add "phone" to the shopping list, it sits right beside me at the desk and is extremely loud. So if I sound a little testy when I answer the phone, it's not you. It's that my eardrum has just been punctured by the loudest annoying sound in the world.

Now, how sweet is this? (The object of the picture above). My name, believe me, has ended up on several things way less flattering than this little blue-green bit of wonderful. So when I see it on things like this, I'm so happy.

Now, technically I only actually drink tea when I get a painful chest cold. And even then, it's more that it seems like the perfect thing to do than that I have actually developed a taste for it. Nikki knows this about me, but she knew I would love this anyway. And she was so right. It's adorable. It's the most calming color, and it's a symbol of how very cool it is to have friends who like you enough to think about you when they're in a store and find beautiful things.

Although it's supposed to hold a dripping tea bag (maybe I will start drinking tea, just so I can use this!), I use it more like a stress reliever. I just look at it, tap that lovely color and familiar word with my fingers, and wah-lah, sereni-tea now.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

It Hurt My Feelings, but I'll Take You Back

Michael did wonders for my Sunday night blues, which had actually hit around noon that day, when he discovered it was Emmy night. I don't know why that one always sneaks up on me. The Oscars I obsess over starting about - well, now actually. (They don't happen until February or so.)

If you've read my blog before, you know I have a love-hate relationship with Hollywood. Except without the hate. I expect good things from them. Expect them to impress and thrill me. I'm very generous with the way they dress on the red carpet and usually very willing to approve all kinds of flamboyant colors, big fat bows by their necks, strange messy hair-do's, geometric patterns - all of it. Bring it on. I love their funny speeches, love it when they make fun of themselves, love it when they cry.

But this Emmy night I found myself being a little . . . flinchy. I think it's because I had seen this video with Matt Damon shortly before. Now, like I said, I love Hollywood. Matt Damon to me is the nerdy, adorable thief in the Ocean's movies who beat out Brad Pitt and George Clooney one year for People's Sexiest Man Alive and wrote the endearing note that "this dad from the suburbs" was extremely grateful for having been noticed in that way. I like him very much both for that and for being practically in junior high when he won his Oscar for Good Will Hunting, because I like seeing really big dreams come true. And, as I said, I love Hollywood in general. Along with the messy up-do's and gaudy bows, I also allow quite a bit of political bent in them. I think they have every right to spout a political opinion now and then. They're Americans. Just because I prefer it when they play pretend doesn't mean they're uneducated.

But Sunday, like I said, I was flinchy. It seemed that every one of them when they walked onto the stage was actually snarling. As a group they seemed so angry about the past eight years. So very angry. And they seemed to be angry with me - the little conservative girl in the midwest whose been a little too slow to acknowledge global warming and a little too narrow-minded in her social views. I mean, I pay these people's salaries. Not like an employer pays an employee but like tax payers pay the king, or perhaps like tribes-people sacrifice to the gods. I adore them. And I adore what they do. And I just wish they would keep influencing me through their art instead of their hatred. That's all I'm saying.

So I chose this picture by watchwithkristin on Flickr becuase it has Josh Groban in it (and in the background, Claire from Lost) because he was probably the only part of that night that was sheer happy entertainment. It's hard to snarl when you're singing the theme song to Friends.

Monday, September 22, 2008

These are the only clothes good enough for this face

Traditionally, you give the bride and groom a gift at their wedding.  I know this - thus the "Live, laugh, love" picture frame I gave at the shower and which, fortunately, the bride told me she loved.  But at the actual wedding, I'm afraid those two busy souls gave me the gift.

Lest this "Do I look alright?" straightening of the tie pose doesn't convince you that I got the better end of this ring-bearer deal . . . then the last picture will.  That's where he spent the entire ceremony, rather than up front as he should have.  Thankfully, his older cousin held the pillow with the rings.  Jake probably would have eaten them along with the chicken nuggets I used to bribe him earlier in the evening.

I get these pictures forever.  Burned into my memory the delicious imagery that makes people say, "I didn't even know they made them this small."  I mean, those are real live cuff links in that toddler-sized cuff, people.  

The bride was beautiful too, and I did take pictures of her.  Maybe when I pass them on to her, I'll at least be returning her gift a little bit.  Until then, I'm just going to keep enjoying mine.  Thank you, Riki - and especially Justin for putting in the initial request for this little guy to participate.  Thanks for giving me the chance to finally wrap this little gift the way my adoration for him deserves.  I'll love you forever for it! 

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I want to be Taylor Swift

Okay, she's no Carrie Under-
wood as far as powerful voices go, but this girl just keeps growing on me. I don't know the first single very well, When You Think Tim McGraw, but I love those songs that play on how intricately our favorite entertainment tends to weave into our lives. When Our Song came out, I knew I loved her. And now she's done it again with Love Story.

This isn't the Love Story that I've only heard about that made one entire generation of women weep every time they heard the song on the radio. This is the happy kind, the stuff of Disney movies. And I love it. You can watch the video on CMT online. Although, I think it's probably one of those that will resonate with me differently than most normal people.

People like to say this kind of love doesn't really happen. That stories and songs like this give girls the wrong expectations for life and marriage. But there are people who stay married forever. So no matter what the statistics against it, no matter what trouble may come - I still believe. I no longer think that Ever After is simply something you decide on faith and that as long as you work for it perfectly, it will happen. Now I think it's partly luck as well. You are fortunate enough to keep fitting well together despite life's ups and downs. Technically, you can't possibly know if all those things will always work for you when you're first in love. But because they sometimes do, I still think there's a permanent place for songs like this. And I love Taylor for writing it.

My favorite thing about Taylor Swift, though, is the way she ended her awards speech when she won for best new artist. She was living a dream, and she knew it. And she was appropriately grateful. But her response made her so relatable to the rest of the world.

"This is definitely the highlight of my senior year."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

just talking about my beautiful street again

I live across the street from a beautiful, historic bed & breakfast. Right across the street. Have I mentioned the view from my front windows? It's kind of breathtaking with its tree-covered street, the big, gray bed & breakfast, and Dave's blue-gray house with the perfectly trimmed yard and shrubberies.

We saw the bed and breakfast on the news this week though. Apparently her small business permit has been removed because she hasn't paved her parking lot. I can't even imagine why this is so important. It's really more of a driveway anyway. But now I keep picturing the Hollywood scenario where all her neighbors help to throw a big festival and earn the money for her to pave it.

The problem with that plan is that I don't have the Hollywood enthusiasm required for pulling off a task like that.

Besides, it didn't work in You've Got Mail.

I know that one reason I love the house is because it reminds me of the home I grew up in. Gray siding like that, huge wrap-around porch. The similarity makes me feel more certain that I belong here at least for now.

I wonder what else I could do? Some brilliant balance between Hollywood and reality. A door-to-door campaign? Actually, I think I've got it. . .

I think I'll go talk to her. I'll tell her I'm here and that I love her beautiful home and want to help in any way I can.

The balance between Hollywood and reality - I live for this.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

update on the book (and its ominous subject)

After my pink umbrella post, I am no longer satisfied with any picture that is not predominantly pink and splattered with rain. Have you heard of Rosie O'Donnell's yellow? She calls all things good and lovely, pure, full of light - she calls this "yellow". I think pink might be my yellow.

The book received its first rejection. I won't be posting every little update about that, because what if a publisher who loved my manuscript stopped by my blog before accepting it and saw a post titled "Rejection Number 15 - and counting"? Said editor would probably decide not only to reject it after all but quite possibly to get out of the business. The book will head out on another round of possible publishers before too long, and I will hold my breath and hope against hope and not email my agent at all and try to pretend getting published is barely even on my to-do list. I was wondering tonight if I should stop blogging so that I can focus on the next book instead. Some people don't get published at all until they have written more than one book. That makes me feel anxious to get the next one done. But I can't give up the blog. It's the writing that people are actually reading. A few of you anyway.

I go for a check-up on Friday. One of those checkups. The cancer ones. It's been about six months I think. I barely think about cancer at all between checkups. Then when I hit that familiar waiting room it all comes rushing back like breakfast when I'm pregnant. I fidget and think about old people and how I'll probably never be one. I start counting the million rays of radiation that will have been shot into my body by the time I'm forty and how many other cancers are so much more common than the one I had and are therefore probably just waiting their turn to surprise me.

Usually after seeing my surgeon, I'm all better. He's very "yellow". He always makes me feel that I really am cancer-free and that even if I wasn't he could totally handle anything cancer can dish out. So I'm looking forward to Friday after 1 p.m. When it comes, I'm going to feel very, very pink.

Monday, September 8, 2008

girl with the pink umbrella

I don't know about where you live, but where I am today it was nasty, ugly, gloomy rain all day long.  Those descriptives are probably only because we're working on the roof right now.   If it were finished, I probably would have said cozy.

I've been sick-ish - as you know - and felt much better today, so despite my descriptives I was actually in a shockingly cheerful mood.  Sort of.  Not a typical Monday anyway.  And on my way to pick up the kids from school, I saw this young woman walking in the rain with a pink umbrella and the pink fitted rain coat to match and white rain boots with some cute pattern on them.  I watched her walk toward me, then past me, and then away from me (the pick-up line is loooong) with that adorable splash of color like a ray of light in the whole world.  That's what I thought of her.  And I also thought, I am so blogging that.  And I wondered if she knew how thrilled I felt by her shiny pink self in this ugly, cloudy day.  

I had a great evening then.  Went to a PTC meeting, which is kind of over my head sometimes, and I always want to giggle when people "make a motion" for things even though I know we were all just boiling macaroni and wiping cheese from our children's faces just moments before we threw ourselves out the door for the meeting.  But I always feel so proud to be there.  And then I talked for almost an hour to one of those people you wish you'd known all your life, which was cool too.  But THEN - 

I came home and got the life squeezed out of me from three little boys who you'd think hadn't seen me for a week.  And I was so moved and happy and reminded yet again what matters most in my little life.  And I was thinking - it wasn't all that cloudy today after all.  It was like one HUGE pink umbrella.  

Thursday, September 4, 2008

some of my friends

Do you ever have those days where you get up deter-
mined to have a good day - you push past the stubbing of your toe on the end of the bed and the fact that no one from McDonalds is standing in your kitchen to whip up your favorite biscuits and gravy and even the tiny little sniffle you cheerfully chalk up to an unexpectedly high pollen count? But then the day just keeps piling those things on? And you think, are you just trying to wear me down?

I've had a couple of those in a row. Today, for instance, that tiny sniffle became the kind of allergy and sinus issue that made me wish someone sold Benadryl from a tap. And that was just the lovely foundation for all the other toe-stubbing kind of fun. Yesterday was similar. I try to just steal myself on those days, you know - center down, focus, pull up by the boot straps, pray. But sometimes I need a little material help.

Yesterday after work I put on my iTunes play list while I cooked supper. And it worked so well I made two new recipes without stressing out once. I have enough songs from iTunes finally that they sometimes take me by surprise. And, you know, they just fix me. They unclutter my soul. (Cleaning the kitchen kind of does that too, but I don't like to say that when Michael is sitting so near).

It makes me think of a Friends episode - Friends also makes me happy almost every time. In it Monica and Chandler are jealous of the couple in front of them at the airport (and the hotel) who keep getting cool upgrades because they are on their honeymoon. When Monica complains, the other couple goes on and on about how they don't care about the stuff - they're just happy to have each other, blah, blah, blah. Chandler and Monica pause. You kind of think they have learned their lesson. But then Chandler admits, "Yea, we need the stuff."

I think I'm a pretty good attitude adjuster these days. (Hush, Michael. Remember I was much worse eleven years ago). There is way more happiness in my life than not, and I just remember that. But it sure helps to turn on great music, or a sitcom that feels like going home, or maybe look at great pictures of my life since marriage and motherhood.

I'm trying to teach my kids about self control. Counting your blessings instead of your woes. It's working great. If you remember, John has even thrown that easier-said-than-done cliche right back in my face. But once they get that self control lesson down. Once they know the rule - how to comfort themselves like a baby learning to fall asleep without the pacifier - once they get it, I'm flippin' on the iTunes. I'm putting it on random play, turning it up, and letting them in on lesson number two: Sometimes you need the stuff.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Wonders for Wednesday

Rebecca is hosting a blog party today in honor of her birthday in which we all post about one of our favorite Wonders. Now that you mention it, that is one of my favorite wonders. Birthdays, that is. I love them. But my favorite wonder of all, beyond these of course,

is this:

I call it fall. Bec (my Australian friend) calls it autumn, which is of course the much lovelier name. Why do I love it so much? Because I like to wrap up in these,

and go to a certain homecoming parade dressed like this:

and when else can you make your little boy look like this and get away with it?

Plus, fall is the first time I did this:

which is the happiest thing of all.

The other thing I love about fall is because it's the season that I think best represents Change - something all the seasons represent - and sometimes in life it's really good to remember that things change.

And so often, they get better.

The End.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Snack break

Happy day after Labor Day. I like it when Mondays are on a Tuesday, because then Friday gets here quick. I'm also extremely happy it's September. I get all these nostalgic feelings this time of year for basically everything wonderful in my life, but especially for the year that I was becoming a mother for the first time.

I just went to Drew's school. When I realized he had forgotten his September lunch money, I shrugged it off. We could always pay that tomorrow as he probably has a credit anyway from snow days last year and such. Then when I saw a progress report I was supposed to have initialed, I felt a little more concerned. But when I remembered he had taken off without his snack, I snatched Jake from his movie, piled all those things in the car and drove to the school. If I can keep Drew's pseudo Monday from actually feeling like one by heading off not one - or two - but three - "I forgots", then my own pseudo Monday will definitely go better.

So I'm writing a blog too. Because I was thinking, what if everyone is having a Mondayish sort of Tuesday? And then they click onto my blog, thinking, Well, at least there will be something fresh there, and then there isn't? It might feel as though life has stopped altogether, and that could really bring a person down.

So this is my way of hopping in the car and taking you your kid-size bag of Cheez-Its. Don't you feel better now?