Saturday, December 27, 2008

Happy Happy Joy Joy (and other expressions of life, late December)

So life is not perfect, there's a news flash.*

BUT...the good stuff:

  • I finally went to the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center. We saw Irish dancing. (Sparkly costumes, fiddles, fancy footwork.) Over Thanksgiving, we were in Philly, where the regional dancing contests were, so I learned a lot from talking to folks, but never saw dancing. For instance, did you know that Irish Dancing is one of the best ways to train in the off season if you play soccer? A woman we met in Philly said her son didn't get the same kind of injuries as his friends b/c of his Irish Dancing. We were waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay in the back because it was a popular night for the Millennium, which is free 365 days a year. So I didn't always watch the stage, sometimes I people watched. It was RICH for that. So many different ages, people in dressy, people in jeans, cool shoes, cute children, couples on early dates (you could SO tell they didn't know each other real well yet.) It was fun sitting there trying to figure out people's stories, pointing out neat clothes to my mom, her pointing out neat stuff to me (she was the one that saw the golden colored shoes that were like four inches high).
  • Realizing that my siblings are real Washingtonians, whereas I am a tourist. Going to h.s. in Maryland is so different from going to h.s. in VA--(I was the Maryland child, child of the 'burbs) My sibs went to DC so much more even when they were in h.s. and now that my sister lives in her very own apartment with roommate, she goes out all. the. time. I stay in, spend time with the fam, and am happy to go new places when I go with folks. Sigh. I'm a fuddy-duddy, I guess. And I wish I knew DC as well as my sibs. But I'm a Pittsburgher, and that's pretty cool too. Goal for 2008 (don't laugh) is to go shopping at the Strip. I'm hoping Danielle will take me.
  • My mom gifted me three pairs of pants and a bra! Sweet! And today we went to one of my favorite thrift shops, well, now it is billed as "resale" and they take American Express, but I got a nice sweater for $1 and a sweet twin-set for $16. I worked at Joseph's Coat back in the day--it was a life-saver back when my medical leave pay ran out after my diagnosis in 1998. It was a transition, I worked f/t until I got a holiday job at Fox Books, so I then worked p/t both places and then f/t at Fox Books for the next two years.
  • I got to watch most of the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Beijing. One of my Twitter friends mentioned it, my dad and sister fiddled with the TV, and voila! I still haven't seen the beginning part, but I'm sure it's online somewheres.
  • I got my hairs trimmed today. Little known fact: a manicure is cheaper in Pgh than in DC/VA, but a haircut is cheaper here. (About $10 less.) Pgh manicure: $12 before tip. DC/VA manicure: $25. Pgh haircut including shampoo/blow dry: $30 before tip. DC/VA haircut: $21 before tip.
In other news, I am still reading. I finished Monsoon Summer by Mitali Perkins, WOW. Longer review to follow. I am about halfway through the Audacity of Hope, and about halfway through Is he Mr. Right? Whoa. I am finding all sorts of stuff, and realizing that I am still sort of hung up on the guy I mentioned I was totally over. (Raise your hand if you're surprised.) Because I keep wanting to make him the guy that is right for me. He's in my circle of friends, sort of. He's just a little older than me. He's an interesting conversationalist. He's cute. He's Christian (that's BIG, folks). He's geeky, which I like. Luckily, my therapist realized that I probably need some time to get over him when I announced to her that I was, so I don't feel like gotta rush through all these emotions but it is SOOO frustrating. Do I want a guy with a stable job? YES. Do I want a guy who pays attention to me? YES.

Then you know, the whole FaceBook thing happens--it's almost worse than the alumni magazine, because there you just read about Jane Smith and her great job and three point five children. Here, you can write on her wall and she can write on yours. A college friend is a librarian in the Bronx (read NEW YORK CITY) and about to buy an apartment b/c the economic downturn makes it a good time to do so. Color me all shades of green, except that I love the community I have in Pittsburgh.

My brother needs the computer. So there you go. Much love n'at.

*I stayed in bed way too late this morning. And (sorry tmi) the blood and laundry fest is not my favorite game.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas...n'at

So last Christmas, I gave you my heart, the very next day, you gave it away...

No, that's not the sentiment I was going for...but seriously, even though today was a great day, I know that part of why it's great is that I'm feeling better. And I had very low expectations, which were blown out of the water, and high expectations, which were trampled on. C'est la vie!

For Christmas dinner, my cousin and her crazy family came (her two children, one boyfriend, boyfriend's daughter and daughter's daughter, who is 18 mos, and ADORABLE) and my favorite living aunt. (I only have one living aunt, so she's gotta be my favorite living one.)

When I look at the calendar that hangs in my bathroom at home, last week was a hard week for the Louise family. (Yes, when I look at it in my mind's eye, Ms. Inner English Teacher Critic) 32 years ago, Tuesday, we lost my sister Joy, a premie, who lived two weeks. Ten? years ago on Wednesday we lost my Aunt Hilda, my dad's sister. Which really sucks for my dad, who lost a daughter and a sister on back to back days.

So what I'm trying to get at, is that I get it if you are crabby and sobby and it has nothing to do with the great gifts you did or didn't get. This time of year brings out big expectations. The tree has to be big, the wrapping has to be big, everything is supposed to be super-shiny...but in reality, it is just another day. Within hours, all the planning, all the shopping, all the making, that you might have spent half a year on, well, the ownership has shifted from "I gave you this gift" to "you gave this to me." Which can be wonderful, sweet, poignant, or exhausting.

As I sat at the table with people I loved, I realized how lucky I am. I know what I want. And I don't have everything I want, but I never really will, this side of paradise. The best part was being with the fab five, the Louise fam, the we-us. My brother and I shared some words while watching "The Incredibles," after the company had gone home, my sister had gone home, and my folks had gone for a walk. He said something a little on the gossipy side, and although I knew I didn't want to go there, I responded, a little gossipy too. And he said, it's really not my business. And I said, it's really not my business either. And we stopped. Right there. If all I had to show for this day was that moment, it would be enough. Because I can see that the boy that was a screaming baby the year I was 11 (he was born on Dec. 20, 1982) (Yes, you can do the math) is going to be fine. He knows who he is too.

Best gift: audio of Marilynne Robinson's book, Gilead. Well, a piece of paper saying that it's on its way.

Best carbon footprint reducing gifts: an acre of Appalacian mountainland and some trees in Peru (Nature Conservancy and Heifer Project.)

Best gift giving moments: every single one. The thumbs up from my brother when he opened the Bob Dylan Starbucks compilation (not of Bob's songs, but of the songs he likes best.) My dad reading the credits for "It's not easy being green" an audio book compilation of Jim Henson's writings. My sister, wearing the earrings I got for her in Philly, saying, my roommate will be so jealous, and naming them in her top two gifts. I took too many pictures of her, as usual. She's my favorite photographic subject, what can I say. My mom loved the folder I made for her, monarch butterflies being the theme.

Surprise gift, something I never would have bought, but am pleased to have: Sex and the City the Movie soundtrack. (from Bird, my sister, for my birthday)

Cool fun gift: I said I wanted "bath stuff." So my sister got me a group of rubber duckies, including one which is pink! Also, some sizzling bath bead thingys.

Never would have imagined it but super-cool gift: a calendar of Texas, from my brother, who lives there. (He and Badger live in the same town, Austin, though they've never met.)

Expected and totally unwelcome gift (and TMI): my period. Yuk. So nice for you to show up for Thanksgiving and my birthday and a month later at Christmas. Timing. We've got to figure out the timing, here folks.

My mom is asking my brother if he wants to play Scrabble or Canasta. Boy am I glad I'm not an only child. All I want to do is crawl into my bed and continue reading The Audacity of Hope.

Merry Christmas, one and all. If this year sucks, January is right around the corner.

Oh, and Pistachio got her wish. Three villages will get safe water!! But I think she's still hoping for more...why not dream, @wellwishes?

I'm ready to crash. Or at least crash to read something. I can't spell it, but Cuileann can: Chus! (It means ciao in German.) (It's got a Schuss sort of vibe....)

My mom and brother are arguing over "do you accept this word" and my dad is emptying the dishwasher. My legs are cramping and there's a book in the next room with my name (well, actually Obama's) on it.

Ciao for now, later alligator, etc. Smooches and I'm outta here!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Grumpy grumpy grumpy

Grumpy and grieving start with the same sound. And there's a reason, grrrrrrrrrrrrr.

So, within 48 hours, I lost the dream of a dream job and the dream of a dream boat. He was swell, but never noticed me. (It only took me six months to figure it out this time.) And I love the dear woman who is most definitely qualified for the job that I pined after. (With her in the running, no one else was going to get that particular job.) So.

So, in an effort to not dwell on the losses, but to be the librarian extra-ordinaire that you know me to be:

Books (on relationships) that I would never add to my GoodReads profile that I love and would recommend to girlfriends:

(gotta go check the laundry)

Okay, laundry still spinning. GAH it is soooooo cold. (Like 9 degrees Fahrenheit outside, cold cold in the stairwell.)

Revelations of a single woman
: loving the life i didn't expect by Connally Gilliam

Have thought about getting a copy of this and giving to sister for Christmas, but like a Sex and the City calendar, it's not the sort of thing you want to open in front of people. Oh, thanks, a book about being single. Gee, um, thanks. I've written about this book here before.

My most favorite image from Connally's book is that if you are looking for relationships as a single person, you often find that you are splintered, trying to be friends with everyone, drinking from "a thousand little waxy Dixie cups" when you really want some deep wells. (19)

Or this tidbit: "women, oftentimes--for better or worse--seem to invest in and draw more life from their workplace relationships than men do. Hence, a woman's actual job might be a misfit--one that doesn't engage her best abilities--but she'll stay longer at it for the sake of the people." (182)

Or how about this one, single women? "Where can I find community?.... 'I'm on my third set of friends right now,' writes one woman who has cycled through the marriages and moves of numerous friends. " (190)

Is he Mr. Right? Everything you need to know before you commit by Mira Kirshenbaum (author of Too Good To leave, Too bad to stay, another helpful book.

This is the book that inspired this list, as I'm currently making my way through it. After I realized that Mr. "All That" really wasn't, it helped me as I figured out why: (fortunately, I hide books like this under tables and find them at opportune moments) I don't feel safe when I'm with him, and I don't think he's fun. (There are 5 compatibility levels and those are two of them.) I mean, why should I be with a guy that I think is mostly boring, who only pays attention to me at church, and and and (fill in the blank.) I mean, it took me twenty years to get over a guy who only paid attention to me when we were on the phone, so I'd like to think I've grown past the "one venue" kind of guy. But I do still need to grieve, and that's okay.

The main gist of this book is dump him as soon as you figure out he's a dud, which I've never been successful at, but hey, maybe I just did!

I haven't finished this book, but my therapist knew of it, has actually recommended it to folks (though I found it on my own, in the 646.77's (DDC for dating and choice of mate)).

Here's a gem: "Maybe you realized you felt bored or depressed. Bad chemistry." (13) (Sort of like when I was dating the guy who was writing a novel and I thought it was horrible. Um, I'm a writer. So if you are too, and you don't write well, there's going to be a problem.)

It's called a break-up because it's broken: the smart girl's break-up buddy
by Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt.

I read a lot of break-up books the summer I was dealing with the loss of my friend Boston (who doesn't live in or near Boston, and is again my friend). This was one I got on audio. While I ABHORRED the first book Greg wrote (He's just not that into you) because it seemed boorish and in your face, I liked this one, because the audio presentation made it funny, and it was true. Why do we waste time on relationships that are O-V-E-R? Maybe it's time for me to check out this audio book again. (Yes, I realize this particular relationship was mostly in my head, but I'm a writer, so I had sub-plots and nuances, it was still a "relationship" albeit imaginary.)

and one that I might add to my GR profile:

The peril of magnificent love
by Emma Magenta.

I bought this when I was trying to get rid of the rejection of Tony (yes, the high school guy), Boston, Mr. "All That" (the first time around) and other relationships, all at the same time. I bought a slew of books from Amazon, and this is one of the ones that survived the ever necessary purging. It's a sweet little picture book about what happens when you put that crush on a pedestal, when you become a different person for them, the mind games, and when you finally figure out that all the costumes are pointless. It's a much cuter book than my description, I promise. Here it is on Google Books.

Well, my dears, I better check the laundry again, figure out which items can stay drying in the dryer and which ones should be hung on the line. It's been fun. Shall we meet again soon? Same Bat time, same Bat Channel?

hogs and quiches, SL

Saturday, December 20, 2008

What a long strange trip it's been...

No, I'm not doing song lyrics Saturday, that would be Badger. But of course now that I'm thinking about music, I'm reminded of the Traveling Wilburies. D'you remember them? They did an album or two right about the time I was finishing high school, late eighties.

Tony loved Jimi Hendrix. And he loved the Traveling Wilburies. And he loved a lot of things I never understood. He paid attention to me when I was with him, but if I wasn't, he was paying attention to everyone and everything else. Case in point, the girl who warned me about him was the girl who ended up going to the prom with him. "He'll forget about you." Yeah. Well.

So, I'm over him, but I still have scads of Tony stories. Maybe now is ripe time to start working on my novella again...which isn't about him, but is about the sheer confusion of relationships.

End of the Line (Traveling Wilburys)

Well it's all right, riding around in the breeze
Well it's all right, if you live the life you please
Well it's all right, doing the best you can
Well it's all right, as long as you lend a hand

You can sit around and wait for the phone to ring (End of the Line)
Waiting for someone to tell you everything (End of the Line)
Sit around and wonder what tomorrow will bring (End of the Line)
Maybe a diamond ring

Well it's all right, even if they say you're wrong
Well it's all right, sometimes you gotta be strong
Well it's all right, As long as you got somewhere to lay
Well it's all right, everyday is Judgment Day

Maybe somewhere down the road aways (End of the Line)
You'll think of me, wonder where I am these days (End of the Line)
Maybe somewhere down the road when somebody plays (End of the Line)
Purple haze

Well it's all right, even when push comes to shove
Well it's all right, if you got someone to love
Well it's all right, everything'll work out fine
Well it's all right, we're going to the end of the line

Don't have to be ashamed of the car I drive (End of the Line)
I'm glad to be here, happy to be alive (End of the Line)
It don't matter if you're by my side (End of the Line)
I'm satisfied

Well it's all right, even if you're old and gray
Well it's all right, you still got something to say
Well it's all right, remember to live and let live
Well it's all right, the best you can do is forgive

Well it's all right, riding around in the breeze
Well it's all right, if you live the life you please
Well it's all right, even if the sun don't shine
Well it's all right, we're going to the end of the line

I forgot this was about Roy Orbison. Well, it's all of ours, as soon as it hits the radio. But that reminds me of a Roy song, probably his last one. But I gotta go.

Thanks, Badger, for letting me borrow your style.

Kisses, everyone, I'm off to be a librarian.

Friday, December 19, 2008

and now for something completely odd...

So there's this guy. (You knew there was, right?) And for a while I had a monstrous (a little out of control) (well, let's call it way out of control) crush on him. He went away for about two years. He returned, sort of, and I felt sort of like, hmmm, yes. But not like oh wow.

Right now I have the opportunity to see him on a regular basis and all of a sudden, he is just a guy who isn't paying that much attention to me. He is not the guy I am obsessed with that isn't paying attention to me. It's sort of like I figured it out, okay, he's not into me, I'm not into him. I mean, I'd like to get to know him better, but how does that work? Chemistry? And we like people that like us? There is NOTHING. I feel NOTHING. Well, not nothing, because obviously I'm confused enough to come blog about it.

It's very bizarre, at least to me. Cuz I thought I was really into him. And now, I'm not.

(This SL is a little crazy, no? First she tells us to twitter about water, then she tells us stories about water, and then she goes all crazy over the fact that she's NO LONGER crazy about some fella.)

(I live in my head, folks. And all my girlfriends are busy or out of town, and I needed to process this. Lucky you, right?)

But the thing is, I love the thing that I'm going to where he's hanging out, and so now I'll be seeing him twice a month for the next whenever.

And part of me is like, um, God, is this really what you had in mind? But then again, it's a good thing to not be obsessed with someone who hardly notices you. I spent way too much of my teens obsessed with guys that I gave code names like Green Jacket, Green Car, and well, there was the guy whose last name really was Greenfield. I analyzed every little look they sent my way, and it was meant to be if they wore a sweater the same color as the one I was wearing. (I know, right?) So maybe this is like, yay, look, SL can be involved in a group where a fairly cute really smart guy is in charge and that's not the reason she's going.

Of course, my monkey mind goes like this: maybe I'm supposed to invite a friend, and then they'll fall in love and then I'll watch one more perfectly good Christian man get married to someone else, NOT ME.

Or maybe I'll just get ready for bed and figure that this is something I don't understand or need to.

Yeah, that sounds like a really good idea.

A personal story on water

After I wrote a post on this topic for a different blog, wherein I shared my experiences with water, I thought, geesh, I at least owe you a story.

As a child growing up in the foreign service, I lived in Honduras, Poland, and Brazil. In none of these countries did potable (drinking) water come from the tap. In Honduras, water had to be boiled first. In Poland, it had to be boiled (distilled, we had a distiller) and then filtered, to take out heavy metals such as cadmium that lived in the tap water. I was fortunate to live in situations where the water was treated, and I didn’t get sick. I don't remember how water was treated in Brazil, but I'm pretty sure we didn't drink what came from the tap.

Please consider donating. And consider blogging about it, if you have a blog. Let's pass this on. It's important. See post below for all the particulars, or click on this link to Laura's blog.

water water everywhere, and not a drop to drink

This is from Pistachio, the Twitter nom of Laura Fitton, a Boston mom and consultant:
I want to make a big difference. To save kids lives. It’s a tough year though. I don’t want to ask much of any one person. I realized just $2 from each of my Twitter readers would be $25,000. If everyone who reads this - YOU - gives just $2, Charity: Water can build an entire water project for a school or hospital in Africa.
Read her entire post here.

It's a pretty easy set-up. You sign up for TipJoy, you can access your paypal funds and donate as small as 25 cents ($2 per person is our goal) but of course, as big as your dreams and budget allow.

Three easy steps from Laura's blog:

  1. Sign up for tipjoy at: You have the option to sign up using only your twitter credentials.
  2. Copy and paste this Tweet: p$2 @wellwishes to build wells and save children’s lives (via @tipjoy)
  3. Be sure you have funded your Tipjoy account. Start with as little as $5 and tip it to whomever you wish.
Direct: You can donate ANY amount via credit card or PayPal right at the Charity: Water site. (they ask for a minimum $10 donation.)

This is from a Washington Post article on clean water. Read the entire article if you have a chance, it's written by Jan Eliasson, former Swedish ambassador to the United States, the president of the United Nations General Assembly and Retired Rear Admiral Susan Blumenthal, a physician, who served as assistant surgeon general of the United States.

Water is essential to all aspects of life, yet 99 percent of water on Earth is unsafe or unavailable to drink. About 1.2 billion people globally lack safe water to consume and 2.6 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation. There are also stark comparisons: Just one flush of a toilet in the West uses more water than most Africans have to perform an entire day's washing, cleaning, cooking and drinking.

What Laura wants to do is within the realms of possibility, if each of her Twitter followers step up with $2. Will you join us in this dream, for something so simple as water, something most of us take so much for granted every single day?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Waiting and other games

This morning, after I lumbered to the loo, my first thought was, I am tired of waiting!!

And right away, the inner censor/harsh editor chimed in. "You have no idea what waiting is." Of course the first story he brought to mind that I can remember now (I've been twittering, FaceBooking, and G-mailing) is the story of Sarah and Abraham, and their wait for Isaac. Oh. Well. If you're going to compare me and my waitings to the story of Genesis, well, that's not fair.

But seriously, my waits are not serious. I'm a pretty happy single woman who gets to write for fun and mostly enjoys her job. There are people who are unhappily single (or worse, unhappily married), have no time to write even for fun, and don't have jobs. And then I hear my pastor's wife, "Comparison is the thief of all joy."

And this Saturday, at a party that tried the soul, I had a kitchen conversation with Garrett, who allowed that it was frustrating to be at a job where your soul wasn't in it. Bless you. And a few weeks ago, a friend emailed me that she couldn't imagine wanting to be in a relationship and not being in one. Bless you. I'm sure there's someone out there that would have the conversation with me that looks like, "It's okay to be where you are, play writing." Drat, there go the waterworks.

We should have taken a picture at the party. One couple, with their foster baby, would be at one end. Next would be the next momma, who looks (respectfully) like she swallowed a prize winning watermelon, and last would be the baby bumps, in order of size and due date. Maybe I would be at the other end of the spectrum, saying "Happy that I have no baby of any size, color, or persuasion on the way!"

Hmmm. A baby is nine months, if you're a human. Maybe that's what's driving me nuts, I have no timetable. There's no time table saying, in three months, you'll make a catch that's a matchless match. In two, you'll hold a job you'll crow about to all who will listen, and in a year and a half, you'll have enough control and wiggle in your life to work on writing.

Cuileann, dear heart, has as a quote on her blog and as a quote on Twitter, "It is not true that life is one damn thing after another. It is one damn thing over and over." To which I replied, I think it's three damn things over and over. My three things (not my three sons): career, soul mate, passion.

***pause while I go to find Come a stranger, where Mina's mom says that history is her passion, nursing is her job, and her husband is her (something less romantic than passion but still very nice.) Drat. Can't find it. It's a really good quote. And I realize that I need a new copy, this one is really yellowed. I wonder if you can still get Come a stranger in hardcover. I'll have to report back. Now is NOT the time to go internet window shopping.

I have cast aside my walk and some piecework for work to sit here and write. I got my cholesterol back--207! WOOT! I'll make an appointment to go over it after Christmas, since I'm interested in knowing my LDLs and all that. Is it crazy that I'm scared that I jinxed it by walking every day the week before and eating right? (Now that I'm in high party season where I'm not eating right and I haven't been walking?)

I have to say, I'm pretty excited when I think about the possibility of the latest interview I had. And I'm thrilled to pieces when I think of the films I get to see as a part of the film discussion group I've joined. In May, we'll watch "Cool Hand Luke" a movie I've been meaning to see for ages but didn't think I could watch by myself. And the fact that I don't have to be anywhere for at least an hour, I can sit here and dither with this post or go off and comment on friend's posts, well, maybe life ain't so bad. And my harsh critic says, you just had a good cry and now have Zoloft streaming through your system, of course life ain't so bad.

Thanks. Thanks for that.

Yesterday on the way to work I was thinking about Anne. You know, Anne! (It baffles me to think that someone might not know who Anne is, but who I mean is Anne Shirley, Miss Anne with an E, if you please.) One of my friends had "Anne's theme" as her processional at her wedding. Even though I'm pretty stuck on "Fairest Lord Jesus," I still think she had a pretty great idea, and am still tempted to steal (borrow) it from her. But anyways, talk about star-crossed lovers. I mean, Gil was engaged to someone else for crying out loud! And then he got sick, and broke off the engagement, and (swell the music) he and Anne lived in happiness forever more.

Okay, that was an interesting sidetrip. There is a wealth of Anne videos with contemporary songs, here's one I like, Miss Independent. Look at the time, I gotta go find out if lunch starts at 11, cuz if it does, I gotta go!

I have a little bit of time, I have to get to where lunch is at 11:30. But it still means I gotta go. Thanks for playing with me a little bit. It is crazy that there are people who read this that I've never met online or off, who occasionally de-lurk when I write a particularly touching or well written post. Thanks. Really. I'd write anyways, but it's nice to know you're out there, dear reader.

Oh drat, just realized I was going to do some laundry this morning. Oh well...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Vocal Warm-ups On A Cloudy Day

What is blogging if not stealing content so more people can enjoy a chortle? My cuz Kiki emailed this to me and also posted it on her blog. I was over there commenting this morning, and the title to this post grabbed me so much. It is now one of my favorite movies, me, who resists seeing old movies. I have now seen The Philadelphia Story, The Women (so much better in b&w than the recent re-do), and title movie. I always loved Roman Holiday because it was one of my mother's favorites. My mother who will leave nothing behind because she truly is one of the most private people I know, sometimes shares tidbits. And generally if she says it's good, I like it just because she did (see earlier story about why I like Reuben samwiches.)

So without further ado, the guess which Musical this is.

  1. Kate, We Haven’t Been Introduced
  2. Bar Mitzvah of La Mancha
  3. Sand And Primer Your Wagon
  4. A Chorus Dot
  5. Fiddler Borrows A Ladder
  6. Little Business Plan of Horrors
  7. A Star's Mom Allows A Handsome Stranger To Buy Her A Drink
  8. Indian Territory!
  9. The Guy Who Is A Little Intense But Keeps To Himself And Isn’t Really Bothering Anyone Of The Opera
  10. Annie There’s A Waiting Period
  11. Kittens
  12. Brand New Acquaintance Joey
  13. Handshake Of The Spider Woman
  14. Jesus Christ Waiter
  15. Starlight Right-of-Way Allocation And Environmental Impact Study
  16. Vocal Warm-ups On A Cloudy Day
  17. West Side Backstory
Go to their site, the comments have a cheat sheet, plus made up ones by readers. Much fun was had by all, pass it on!

If I didn't have to rush off to work, I'd link this up, but y'all know how to use Google, so go to it.

Monday, December 15, 2008

“A friend knows the song in my heart and sings it to me when my memory fails.

(Donna Roberts)

Today I had to see EE Sally. I needed an old friend whose history I knew and who knew mine. We went to Walmart (because sometimes the only way to hang out with your busy momma friends is to go on errands with them.)

So I told her stuff, and I said, I feel like some of the stuff I'm doing doesn't make sense in a linear way. And she said (bless her heart), "When has anything in your life been linear?" And it was so true.

If you have a true blue friend like that, one that has seen you at your best and at your absolute worst, hold on tight. And find ways to be in their lives, even if it's a morning trip to Walmart. (Which btw, was super fun, as she was getting supplies for a star costume she's making for a Christmas pageant.)

The rest of the day, I hibernated. In the true sense. I was under the covers and asleep for a long time. And I just yawned, so I don't sense that insomnia will be a problem. I'm thinking it's because little miss introvert was out all night Saturday (from 7:30 to 1 a.m.), then a party Sunday morning for some twins first birthday, and then church which was dinner. Yep, that's a lot of being around people.

Yawn. Time to head back to bed.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

From now on for a while

You're going to have to assume that some of what I write is fiction. I had a convo with a fellow Tweeter, and she said, I like seeing what music you're listening to. (I often tweet the lyrics if I'm listening to Pandora whilst cataloging. It keeps me sane.) I said, I started doing it b/c of Pistachio (another Tweeter) who often tweets lyrics, phrases from books, one word. I said it's useful because sometimes it's the lyric of a song I'm listening to right then and sometimes it's a way to say something indirectly. That's not fair! she cried at me. Oh, but it is. I am a creator of stories, and sometimes my stories actually happened, and sometimes they are very real but very made up.

I offer you a story about a party, and a girl. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Sarah Louise wasn't sure she wanted to go. She had been to this party twice before (it was a yearly event.) Once she went with a man she was dating, and once she drove a man home, someone she was severely crushing on. He waited around to ask her if she'd give him a ride. She saw this as hopeful. She has since given up on this man, because he could remind her of that Lee Ann Womack song, "I'm always your last call." Thankfully, he disappeared, about three years ago.

Another man, who looked just like him, showed up last August. He knew her friend Emily who had moved to Queens. This man could have been that man's twin. He'd been around a couple of times, always said hello, polite and all. But Sarah Louise wasn't sure. She'd been hurt before, and she'd read "He's just not that into you." She'd HATED reading it, not so sure that it allowed for shy men. But this twin, who happened to be at the party Sarah Louise didn't want to go to, tipped his hat and that was it. Clearly he had no problems talking to women, as he stood there talking to the woman with the bob cut for hours.

Sarah Louise flounced onto the couch where Kathy was waiting. (Sarah Louise was also waiting, she had to use the john, which was occupied. They were about to go visit some other houses in the party circuit.) "He's soooo not that into me!" And with Kathy's response, "Move on, etc." Sarah Louise realized who Kathy was. Kathy is Miranda. Lawyers are logical. It is not logical to hold feelings for someone who clearly snubs you. But Sarah Louise is a storyteller, a Carrie, and she goes back for more, until the story is completely run out. (Which by the way, often ends badly.) Sarah Louise is no fool. She knows this.

Someone got engaged yesterday. Grin. It added to the party atmosphere, all those pregnant ladies, one foster baby, and a shiny new ring with proud fiancé.

We all have our own stories. In playwriting class in college, Sarah Louise learned that each character has their motive. And in a good play, their motive will be visible in every move they make, every word that comes out of their mouth.

So...what motivates a Carrie is different from what motivates a Miranda. No one is going to say, yes, Sarah Louise, jump after a sinking ship, fawn over the man who stands around talking to another woman. But a Carrie might say, watch it. As in, keep up the detective work, until it runs out.

And other people would say, that is SICK. Your brain is making connections because you see the story you want to see, so pieces fit in, everything fits the pattern because you've set the pattern.

And Sarah Louise doesn't know what to do. Except to take one step, the next step, and the next one.

I have accepted fear as a part of life--specifically the fear of change. I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says: turn back. --Erica Jong.

When I grow tired of my students, as I always do--
staring at their faces till my sockets burn,
I remember one girl told me
how she followed a boyfriend home--
found him in tears--
He rocked on the bed
screamed at her to Get away
So she turned off his light
and closed the door,
and sat on his floor till morning.

When I think of this girl speaking
in her gentle voice with its rough edges
I think how teaching is like crouching sleepless
in a darkened room refusing to get up
knowing nothing will come of this,
--or only a story, maybe.

(Anon., found in Small Victories, by Samuel G. Freedman.)

This part is true: Yesterday, Max and I were both set to leave the house at 8:30. We both work every Saturday. When I was looking for my earrings and heard the front door slam at 8:28, I thought, meanly, "show off." I soon was out there, scraping my car. We exchanged a hi and a bye. As soon as he sped off, I decided I was done scraping too, and I sped off. It was maddening, he was taking MY route. He is a much better, more responsible driver than I, so we went the speed limit going past the cemetery. At the top of the hill, we got the red light. And since he was the car in front of me, well, what else could I do but look? I could see his ear. The ear that I loved, over a year ago. I guess I never understood that part about "I will always love you a little." But I understood it yesterday, looking at his ear in his side mirror. And it is wonderful to have loved that ear, and to know that he is not my guy anymore.

After he turned off and it was just me and the road, I ran a couple reds. Partially because I was running late, but I'm sure there was an unspoken emotion in there too.

Hmmm. I thought I had more, but they are all amorphous thoughts that refuse to put themselves into words. This will probably be the last post where I talk about Max as a former beau. I think he is now relegated to that guy I dated once that lives on the first floor.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

And that was the post that wasn't...

I hit something and just published...wait for it...a blank post. Sorry!

So I'm working on "what am I doing online?"

Now that I'm on FaceBook, and Twitter, and (oh, and Flick r, but I don't have any pictures up, and GoodReads) and and and and and... I've kind of hit some sort of tipping point. When I started blogging, it and email were pretty much the only online things I participated in.

Then there was a lull, when blogging changed, and it was less the community, partially because things changed, shifted, but also because there were so many more blogs. Which is not a bad thing, but just harder to keep up the "community feel."

And I've gotten to the point where I want more face to face, or at least voice to voice, the "repopulation" of my life, as it were.

So I took a bunch of links off my blog roll today. I can't get into the "Blogrolling" one, they're having issues. Interesting, as I did housekeeping, how some of the links were gone, or password protected now.

Through Twitter, I have started following Rosa Say. She just finished a 90 day experiment of spending less time online. I think I'd like to try something like that. But I sort of feel like St. Augustin saying he'd like to try celibacy, but not yet.

Writing about it is a first step, as was taking some of the glut on my blog rolls. Even though I can get most blogs via my Google Reader, I really prefer to click on the blog's link on my blog. I miss so much color when I just read the posts on a white background, and I don't get the feel of the blog...and then if I don't read that day's post, they stack up like weeks of unread newspapers. I don't want to be a pack rat online too!

So, since I only have 4 people to shop for, and most of that shopping is done, and I don't have to do much holiday prep (it's the single life--don't envy me unless you want to hand over your life of children and husbands) maybe this will be my advent project.

Well, it's 12:58 and my replacement should be here shortly. LUNCH!!

Thursday, December 11, 2008


I always hated the game "truth or dare." Because it seemed to me it wasn't truth they were going after, but something to titillate. So the whole time I was writing that list you see below, I was thinking, ooh, what if you knew this about me, what would you think? And that's not honesty. That's shock value. That's "you'd be surprised to know that..."

I just had to get that out, first thought of the morning n'at. It was my last thought as I fell asleep, too. The dreams I had in between? Bizarre.

Okay, as you were. This day can go on now.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Honestly? I think I come off as a prima donna in this post.

This is the "Honest to God" meme. I got this from bobbie, who tagged me.

There are rules.
List 10 honest things about yourself.
Pass around some linky love, seven to be honest.

1. I miss Blackbird's Show and Tell. There was a bloggy camaraderie in everyone showing up on Thursdays with their pictures.

2. I do not want to have children--the thought of all that lost sleep drives me batty. But I do want to get married, so I want that part about a marriage being for having children stricken from the record when I take my vows. Hey, I'm 37. I'm allowed to not want to have children. (I get defensive about this point of honesty.)

3. I just went to Hope's post to see what her Honest to Gods were because what if I do it wrong? Yes, folks, I am a perfectionist. I went over to bobbie's too.

4. I hate that my neighbor has a cat. You can smell the litter box while you're standing out in the hall. Yuck. (But I'm scared to confront her.)

5. As soon as I can manage it, I'm trading in this car. I want automatic locks and windows and something that can handle snow a little better. (I'm still paying off my last car...)

6. I want a big party, just for me and all the people that would celebrate with me. Dancing. Food. Hugs. Because I haven't had a big party. I didn't get married. I haven't had children. I didn't buy a house. I want a big party, celebrating me. I want to celebrate with my friends and cousins, and I don't want to wait until I'm 50. Well, I'll be 40 soon enough.

7. I hate watching all the cute single guys that I sort of had crushes on get married. Every time it happens, I think, "Another one bites the dust."

8. It took me 20 years to get over the guy who was my first boyfriend. He was the first person to tell me I was sexy, and the first guy to really mess me up. I'm glad I'm over him, but I wouldn't have lived my life differently--I've come out stronger for having been so weak.

9. I really really really really want to go to the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. I have no idea how I would afford it, time or money. But I really want to go.

10. I am looking longingly at MFA programs. I have no idea how I would afford it time or money. The thought of leaving my career as a librarian to take some time to write scares me crazy because it's not an easy thing to get a librarian job in this town. I should know.

and one for good measure:

11. I really want to move to NYC. I know it's noisy, smelly, and expensive. So I'll live in Queens. But there are no library jobs in that town and the writing programs there are poorly funded.

Seven folks I'm tagging:
katrina (and yes, I'll change your link to your actual blog on my blogroll. Not today, but I will. I promise.)

Monday, December 08, 2008

If I thought I used up all my words, I was mistaken

It's 11:30 a.m. I have been sitting here since 9:30 more or less, doing the 2.0 thing. Email, a letter to the neighborhood list-serv about salting those sidewalks, please, Facebook, Twitter, commenting, etc. etc. etc.

It seems like I've gotten "nothing" done, but I have. I just haven't retrieved clothing from the dryer, done dishes, or taken my morning shower.

There's a line from Jerry Maguire with the ladies in the living room, and one of the ladies says, "I've finally gotten in touch with my anger!" (For film buffs, that woman is the screenwriter/director's mom, who apparently gets a cameo in many of his movies.)

Well, I've been getting in touch with my emotions lately. It's not just hormones that have made me write a letter last Monday to the person who flamed me on Facebook (and late last week, un-friend him). This morning I opened an email from a friend and smiled. As I started to reply, I thought of how I want a big party when I'm 50, whether or not I get married. And then I started to tear up. So I deleted that part of the email response. Then I went to a friend's video of she and her dad dancing at her wedding (sort of) and I was all teary until the music kicked up a notch.

I'm learning that it's okay to get grumpy, and angry, and express that anger. What a relief! After years of laughing it off, or saying it doesn't matter, I am faced with real things to be upset about (unsalted sidewalks in a neighborhood with a lot of foot traffic), real things to be wistful about (friends dancing with their dads at their weddings), real things to laugh at (BJ's sermons always have something that make my signature laugh come out), and my goodness, I'm cold.

I need to get my apartment in enough shape that my landlord can take the window a/c units out and I can cover the windows with plastic. It won't do a ton, because this house has no insulation and as the garret apartment, all my walls are outside walls, but every little bit helps.

I need quarters so I can do more laundry.

Which means I need to get started on this day.

I heart the fact that this qualifies as a blog post, this stream of words that gets somewhere, even if that somewhere is the warm shower.

Peace out,
Sarah Louise

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead: SL ponders online presense.

(quote from Ben Franklin. Here are some other quotes on secrets.)

I saw my psychiatrists this week. They are both European, and lovely people. Dr. Northern Italian said, "Glad you're back." These are people trained in nuance. Yes, I'm back. And though I will have other dark periods, other "dark nights of the soul," other depressive episodes, for the time being, I'm in my regular skin, and happy to be here.

And that was a huge pause.

Here's the thing. As I think about my online presence, as I think about my life, played out online and off-line, I think about myself, the whole person. But online, I am fractured, sometimes Sarah Louise, sometimes ****. And a huge part of the reason I'm Sarah Louise online is because as a single (read: sometimes dating) woman who is sometimes job hunting, I do not want people to be able to google **** and find me here. One of the gifts I have is transparency in writing. I'm able to get pretty vulnerable and personal. One of the broken parts of me is called "bipolar disorder."

There's a t-shirt out there that says "I'm not reading your blog." And I know, a lot of people aren't. My mother isn't, generally, though she does have this address. My father isn't, generally, ditto. My sister sometimes drops by. My cousin also has a blog (Hi, Kiki!) and we feed off each other, in a good way. This blog is posted, as Sarah Louise, to my church's website.

I'm realizing, as I spend more time online, that the real stuff is what happens when my computer is off. When I'm sitting in a room, listening to Michael Stephens exhort me to bring my heart to work. When I'm having lunch at Mad Mex last Thursday with my separated at birth friend, Carrie. When Danielle is making dinner in her kitchen and I'm keeping her company until the food is ready.

What are reasons people stay anonymous online? They don't want their husband, boyfriend, children, mother to read what they've written. They don't want their students to know about their private life. They've been taking pills all their life and they just found out why. World AIDS day was just a few days ago, and darn if I can find the article I read (I think in the Washington Post) about kids with HIV. The secrecy they have to keep up is amazing.

Last night I watched the Friends episode where Chandler tells the adopted kid he's adopted. "What if someone else told the triplets they came out of you?" he says to Phoebe as the triplets go silent. "I'm going to go tell Emma she was a mistake," he says as he walks out of Central Perk.

Does everything have to be out there, to be searched and tagged and recorded? (One of my mantras is you can't capture everything. Do I want to experience the moment, or take a picture of it and miss the experience?) (And I say this as a person who searches, tags, records, and really wishes she had tagged that article about children with HIV living in DC.)

I don't plan to have children. But if I did, would I blog about them? Would I use their names, or give them pseudonyms, like I give most of the people I write about when I mention friends on this blog? I don't even like seeing children's names on people's cars, saying that Ashley goes to Miss Twinkle Toes Dance School. I cringe. I read while in library school. I read The Face on the Milk Carton and the other Janie books.

But I think about my future as a writer. This blog is my sandbox, as it were. I ramble on, I sometimes write five drafts, I sometimes hit publish after one take. I write about everything and nothing. But what happens when my first book hits the bookstands? Won't I want the readers here to celebrate with me? And if I do, that's a lot of people keeping a secret. And one, right here, who isn't sure she wants to keep that secret.

Do we take a page from Jane Pitt (PittGirl) who decided to stop blogging and pulled her entire blog, there aren't even archives. The day after she pulled it down, I was able to read some posts via cached Google pages. (I had not been a regular reader. I think I found her blog three years ago and didn't go back, just because it didn't speak to me at that moment in time.)

I'm not ready to link all my blogs together (I write five, if we count the three as SL and two others.) I'm not opposed to people putting the puzzle pieces together. Being bipolar, or single, or in the pursuit of a job are things that real people put their real face on a profile picture and blog about. On the other hand, I have friends whose Facebook profile is based on their anonymous blog name.

And just this week, one of my Twitter friends, who is a published author, locked her tweets, like a day after she started following me.

Whenever I watch SATC, I think about Carrie, and her columns. How do you write about relationships and still walk all over New York City? (Candace Bushnell's book is out as an audio on CD now, I think I might give it a listen.)

I come back to a passage from "Revelations of a Single Woman" by Connally Gilliam, in which she writes an email response to a guy who doesn't get why she's pulled away a little bit.

It's a much longer passage than I want to type now, and no, I do not want to come back to this later today. So here's the metaphor she uses: a woman's heart is like a garden. There are public places for the kind random person. Then there is the center, saved for intimates. Then there is the in-between area, which is more fluid. (If you want to read it, it's on pages 28 & 29. I wish I could send a copy of this book to every single friend I have.)

Okay, I think I've written enough on this for a while. What are your thoughts? Do you tell people that you blog? Do you use a pseudonym? I promise I won't "out" you. And never, never apologize for writing comment novels. I like them. I do. But a simple "I'm here, I read this," works too.

There's some snow I gotta go walk in. And yes, I'll try to make my low batteries work. Because some things should be recorded.

"Do I contradict myself?/Very well then I contradict myself/(I am large, I contain multitudes)" (Walt Whitman)

TTYL, Sarah Louise

Saturday, December 06, 2008

and now, for something completely different...

I am too much in my head. A storyteller, I see my life as a novel, complete with foreshadowing, themes, details...

So I took the night off thinking (as much as that is possible). Because a girl can stay in her head only too long before it blows up.

I did not clear the kitchen counter so that I could reach the microwave. Instead, for dinner, I finished the Trader Joe's layered dip and had some hummus when I was still hungry.

I did not do the mountain of laundry, no I didn't even throw a load. Instead, I moved the dresser that has been in my walk-in closet to the space outside my bathroom. And I reclaimed the space on top of the dresser as an area for my jewelery boxes.

And then, I watched the movie 21. In widescreen, because I've learned that really is the only way to watch movies, even if you have a regular screen TV.

And now, it is time to go to bed. Tomorrow, though technically the Sabbath, I will do some dishes, some laundry, and move the debris off the counter so that I can get to my microwave.

Maybe tomorrow I'll even put my Christmas tree up.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Friday night, a synopsis in 4 acts, with discussion and notes.

Act 1: In which Sarah Louise remembers why tonight she needs to be somewhere. It's an ex-boyfriend night. Max invited me last year to the Light Up Night at this thing in the North Hills, where he played piano for a bunch of children singing Christmas songs. The following Monday, he broke up with me. So tonight, driving past all those lights, I knew, yes, this is why I'm driving to Oakmont to a film discussion group.

Act 2: I get lost. (NO, Kiki, I am not asking Santa for a GPS.)

Act 3: I show up maybe a minute late and am instantly labeled an outsider. I was the youngest person there, but I know for a fact that the next youngest person was only two years older.

Act 4: We watch the movie. And I attended my first film discussion. It wasn't quite what I thought it would be, but it was talking about a movie. The movie: Smart People, with Sarah Jessica Parker and Dennis Quaid.

So here's what I thought: when the son plays on the wheelchair in the beginning, it's mirrored later when the brother of the father plays on the grocery cart in the warehouse store. And when the Ellen Page character quotes Cosmo, it is straight out of Sex and the City (it takes half the total time you dated someone to get over them) in a movie starring Sarah Jessica Parker (Carrie, from Sex and the City). And, for the record, I dated Tony for less than six months. It took twenty one years to get over him. So if that is half the total time I dated him, someone's math is really messed up. (Well, I'm messed up too, but I'm much better than I was.)

What I think about my life, the evening: Right now I am showing up. I don't know what I want, but I know I want something that has to do with showing up. I love movies, so talking about them with some Presbyterians seems like a fine thing to do every other Friday. And maybe I'll make some friends. But for now, I'm showing up. Because showing up helps clarify in my mind that crying on the way home meant something. I have a lot of waiting going on in my life right now, and some of that waiting (for Christmas, to hear about a job, for the pizza in the oven to be ready) is completely out of my control. (I can't change the calendar, force a job, and I don't want to eat frozen pizza that is actually still frozen.) But there are other kinds of waiting that require me to swim out to the ship that hasn't come in. And I'm not even sure what THAT means. I'm talking nonsense, you can see that? I'm blog-writing my way through this, which means there is a subtext that I would write about if this weren't being broadcast to the world wide web. I'm confused, so I'll be confusing. How's that for an answer to your unspoken question, "What the heck is she talking about?"

I think I need to cash in my change and go to the movies. Too bad I have to wait till February for "He's Just Not That Into You."

I'm turning the TV back on and finishing watching this episode of SATC. It's the one where Carrie dates an alcoholic who becomes addicted to her. It is so nice to know I'm not the only one that is a mess and doesn't know what she wants.

Sayonara, baby!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

"Would it ruin some vast eternal plan?"

(from "If I were a rich man," Fiddler on the Roof)

I just got off the phone with Sallie Mae. They administer the loans that paid for the year I went to library school. I need to reduce payments. Tomorrow I get paid, but today I was $12.00 overdrawn. Thank goodness for overdraft protection. But that's getting low too.

The Giant Eagle where I shop has two entrances. And one Salvation Army pot. I entered by way of the non-Salvation Army pot. I have more than I need--a Master's Degree, a good job, more laundry than I can manage, an apartment with more clutter than I can manage. And yet when it comes to finances, I come up short, generally once a month.

I laugh, because Sallie Mae is all into "online security." They advised me to close the browser after I logged off. Right, because someone is going to hack into my school loan online account and pay it for me? I wish! And the questions--who is your favorite band? That depends. Who is your favorite school teacher? I had more than one favorite. What was your first place of employment, no abbreviations. My first place of employment doesn't fit in the space provided, if I put no abbreviations.

Here are some questions that might work:

  • What year did you first fly on a plane?
  • What was the first overseas country in which you lived?
  • Which now defunct airline did you fly on most of your childhood?
In case you want to hack my account, pay my loans, here are the answers: 1972, Brazil, Pan Am.

Sallie Mae couldn't help me tonight, because they can't change payment plans within 14 days of the next payment, which will be on December 15. So I can call them on December 16. It's a date.

Oh, the car? Yes. The car. My dad will pay for the alignment, which was like $65, and I'll pay for the tire and new rim, about $100. Mike asked me if I was ready for Christmas. I almost snarled. "No, not yet," I said, and this doesn't help, I didn't say. I said, "have a great holiday, I hope you aren't offended if I say I hope I don't see you before Christmas." He laughed.

I was very very very very lucky. And still. My gift purchasing budget isn't much more than $100, and that includes birthday and Christmas presents for both siblings. Fortunately I'm mostly shopped, but still.

Publisher Simon and Schuster laid off 35 people today. Publisher Thomas Nelson laid off about as many yesterday. Libraries generally do more business during times of recession/depression, but if people leave, will positions be re-staffed? Although our library isn't in deep trouble, libraries in Philadelphia face the possibility of closing close to a dozen branches.

This too shall pass. I can almost taste my tax refund. And I will get a tiny increase at the beginning of the year. And I am going to start working with someone to figure out how to pay off my credit cards. And, no, I do not want FIOS, please Verizon, stop calling me.

Dear God, you made many, many poor people.
I realize, of course, that it's no shame to be poor.
But it's no great honor either!
So, what would have been so terrible if I had a small fortune?

Lord who mad the lion and the lamb,
You decreed I should be what I am.
Would it spoil some vast eternal plan?
If I were a wealthy man.

I better go do some of that laundry, so I have a clean shirt to wear tomorrow.

*lyrics by Sheldon Harnick.

"Birthday singers ready?"

(My father, as he would dial the phone number of an unsuspecting relative whose birthday it was.)

A tradition at the Louise household, well, when we were all at home, at least, was on birthdays to get in front of the phone and sing. The person would pick up and if it wasn't them, we'd ask for the "birthday boy or girl" and then start to sing "Happy Birthday to you." I've called two friends in the past 24 hours (I seem to have a lot of friends with birthdays right now) and haven't done it. I guess you need more than one "birthday singer."

I need to grab some grits (as if) (but doesn't that sound great?) (more like TJ's waffles) and get out the door, but I still have a few minutes.

So yesterday, I was telling you stories about my car and my travels and how writing is what I do. This morning, I awoke to three more comments, one from Badger (thanks, doll!) one from someone who has a Google alert to "Berkeley Springs," and one on a post I wrote ages ago, about this fabulous book (you've read it by now, right?) Welcome to Eudora. She has a new one coming out in the spring, so you better get hopping on the reading, I know you have less time to read now that you're off "elfing" as Mrs. X. would say.

I gotta go. Be good!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

"It's what you do."

(Aunt to Jo, in the movie Twister)

This morning I felt a nudge to come over here and write a bit. I know that writing is my "main thing" but so often I don't come to it daily, to hone my fingers, my mind. When I don't think people are reading, I ignore it, because what's the point, if no one stops by?

A dear friend in an email reminded me why. "Your writing has gotten better." A dear friend at lunch reminded me why. "You are a good writer." An email I got back from a writer I admire reminded me.
"Sometimes when I'm in my normal daily life, doing my normal daily things, including writing, I start thinking things like...this is too hard, and who cares if I'm doing it anyway, it's just a book, does the world really need another book? couldn't I do something easier? If I don't get my work done today, it won't matter, no one cares, etc etc etc. And then I get an email like yours and feel so humbled, and like, okay, I can't give up, this matters, this is why I do this (or one good reason, anyway), and I can't get lazy and apathetic."
So I write. I'm thinking of changing part of my profile to read "drama queen in recovery." Yesterday was a real test of my need to be queen. It started with a friend on Facebook flaming an article I had posted about our President-Elect. I had posted the article because it was written by a woman who is a TCK-A and writes about TCK-As, and so wrote about our P-E in that light. My friend is a fierce opponent. In a hot rage, I calmly (as best I could) emailed him back and said, (in different words) "Facebook is not the place where I look to be flamed." I fought inwardly with myself and it wasn't until hours later when I was on the road, singing along with "If I were a Rich Man" that I could talk through, that yes, it was okay to speak my mind and that, as my mom would say, with friends like that, who needs enemies? (I haven't "un-friended" him yet, but I'm thisclose.) (Notice that the argument was first with me. For standing up, for saying, no, this is not acceptable behavior. I am my mother's daughter, and my mother does not pick fights.) There was something about the open road, the road I'd driven or ridden on so many times before, that calmed me, that reminded me who I was. And I am a woman who sometimes picks fights. But I pick 'em, which means, I'm choosy. What is it about this electronic world that my friend felt so comfortable slandering something that made me feel proud to be a TCK, proud to be an American, proud that I could share something on FB that my siblings, also TCK-A's would see? I am trying so hard these days to let my electronic life not rule my regular life, and to focus more on face to face contact or at least voice to voice. The people I really know and love are the ones I get to hug on national holidays that require driving long distances.

The weather on the road was calamitous. It was sunny and then rain with bits of tiny hail. Sunny again, and then driving rain. On a two lane bridge in West Virginia, the truck ahead of me slowed down and so did I. I hydroplaned and spun into the side of the bridge. It is one of those situations where yes, you thank people that had the wisdom to wait while you straightened your car, but after you were able to pull aside a mile down the road and assess the damage, you thanked God and your lucky stars and anything else you could thank that the car seemed to have not a scratch, nor did you.

My dad was there every time I called his cell phone. I called him from the highway right after I looked at the car. He said, I can come and help you drive home. I said, I'm almost to Berkeley Springs, let me see how it is and I'll find a place to look at the car. I drove the six miles in. The car was shaking, but so was I, so at first I didn't notice that it wasn't just me. As I slowed onto the main drag in Berkeley Springs, I saw a couple of car dealers that had service areas. I cannot lie, tears stained my face. I found a place to park and called my dad again. I said, I need to get lunch, but then I'll get the car looked at. We chatted a bit, he again said, I can come help you drive. No, I need to get lunch first. He suggested that there were a couple places west of town, and I said, no, I know where I'm going. There's a restaurant that I always go to, called Tari's. So I went in, used the ladies, and got a table for one. I pulled out my book, A year down yonder. The grandmother in that book reminded me of Gran in Cynthia Voigt's Tillerman cycle novels. The waitress asked me how I was, and I said, "I've been better." She clucked at me and asked for my order. I got iced tea, unsweetened, my signature drink choice. My dad had said, get some good comfort food, and when I think of my dad and sandwiches at a restaurant, I think of a Reuben. So that is exactly what I got.

My first Reuben sandwich was with my dad on a trip to New York City. It was the late eighties, when I was, oh, fourteen. My siblings, would have been three and four, respectively. We had gone, just us, while my mom stayed at the Lake with the kiddies. It was such a treat to have a day with my dad, to have a day in the City, which is one of my favorite places in the world. We'd had lunch on Wall St., gone to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and now we were on our way back. We'd stopped at a roadside diner and my dad ordered a Reuben. This was nothing new, he generally did. But for the first time, I decided, if my dad liked it, I would too. Not, I would like it because it was sure to be good, but I would like it because I wanted to be like him. And I did.

The food didn't come right away, and I was restless, fighting back tears. Tari's sells art, so I walked around, flipping through the prints, stopping at a beautiful one of a hen with eggs called "Counting your eggs before they hatch," and I grinned, to think of how we all do. It was $100, though, so I flipped through some more prints. Jonathan Heath does a series of what is called "relaxed realism," many of which are of older women drawn (painted, I guess) humorously. Here they are, "Frisky Elders." So that made me smile a little. Well, a lot. But my food still had not arrived, so I went back to my slim book. When the food arrived, I was grateful, and took a moment first to text Alyssa. Then I sat there, weeping, praying over my food, which I rarely do at restaurants.

I ate the wonderful sandwich, the wonderful salsa, and when I was done, got a little box for the chips I hadn't eaten. I asked the waitress where I should take my car, saying I'd heard a noise while on the highway. Mike's. A guy standing there who overheard, said, yes, take it to Mike's. So I walked back to my car, called my dad, drove to Mike's. His son quickly assessed it, a bent rim and said, you were real lucky. Yep.

I don't want to exactly pat myself on my back, but I do want to say that I couldn't believe the calm manner I had, or the maturity with which I was handling the situation. Not panicking, taking care of things in the correct order (lunch FIRST), and patiently waiting for Mike's son while he called the parts store to see if they had a rim for me. (They did not.) Mike and son put my donut on, and sent me on my way.

Now, if you think that was it, and the rest of the day went great, you'd be partly right. I got to drive home through the beauty that is southwestern Pennsylvania, northwestern Maryland and that tiny bit of West Virginia (Mountain Mama.) But in true Sarah Louise fashion, whose forte is storytelling, not maps, I got turned around at least once and lost at least a half hour in retracing, returning to the place I should have turned. By the time I reached Harmar, it was dark. But I had happily played the soundtrack to Joseph and the Technicolor Coat and had started in to 50 TV theme songs. I've decided that soundtracks are the best for long trips. I listened to Fiddler on the Roof in the morning, before lunch, and I don't know what it is, but that soundtrack always makes me weep. That is for another post. My CD of praise music has ended, my hair is mostly dry, and I need to get back on the road, now to my mechanic, whose name is also Mike.

See you on the flip side, my dear readers. Til then, keep your feet on the ground. Gravity works. Every single time.


Sarah Louise