Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Today in Twitters, n'at

I just wrote a "kitchen sink" post (everything but...) that I'd like to polish up, but I want something new up, so I'm looking at what I did today based on my Tweets.

  • encouraged our Moderator that he is not alone, I don't watch Lost either. (It's good to know I'm not the only one.)
  • I seriously need to read the Conspiracy of something by Dallas Willard. Everybody has read it. One of my twitter friends is about to read it for the 7th time.
  • Alyssa and I are both cranky. She's probably crankier than I, though, as I only had myself to care for today, and she always has two kids and a hubbie, and now, two dogs.
  • Due to my cold/malaise/whatever, I slept from 11 am to 3pm.
  • I purged some folks, added some folks, ended up with the exact same number of people I "follow."
I also wrote some emails, answered some emails, and put some on the back burner. Marian the Librarian is under the weather again and I miss her!!

I watched this Hungarian movie again. I watched it yesterday before work. The title is Just Sex and nothing else, (Variety review). The title refers to the fact that Dora, the protagonist, just wants a baby. She doesn't want to have to deal with men anymore, hence the title. Just enough sex to get me pregnant and then goodbye. Which gets her into a mess of comedic relationships. Since it's in Hungarian, you have to watch the entire thing, reading the subtitles. Glad that I watched it a second time, some things made more sense (because if you miss a subtitle, well, you may miss a crucial detail.) It is a luscious movie: Central European architecture, lush interiors, the characters, the actors, it's a fun movie. A visual treat. It makes me want to learn Hungarian, because I can tell there is so much lost in translation. But what IS translated is great. Let's see if I can find another review. It reminded me of SATC, the same themes of what is a 30 something woman to do if she wants to settle down? Here's another review. I love that the librarian that buys movies at our library has a real eye for the odd-ball movies. Another one that I loved recently was Broken English with Parker Posey. But I'm tired now, and it's 10:30. And I have the faint suspicion I already told you about Broken English.

Tomorrow is my ACTUAL day off, as opposed to a sick day. I have 2 dr. appointments, but then the day is mine--maybe I'll catch an afternoon movie...

Friday, January 16, 2009

You'll be sleeping with the television on...

(Billy Joel, Glass Houses)

There are some nights where I cannot make it off the single bed in the back room where I watch TV to the single bed in the front room where I sleep from September to May. (I sleep in the back room from May to August because otherwise the sunlight would wake me at 6 am.) Last night was one of those nights. Fortunately, I did take my bedtime meds at some point, while I was watching ER. (ER is having a fabulous last season, btw. I stopped watching it ages ago, because all my favorite characters from the beginning were gone. Alyssa twittered about it last week and so I thought, ah, I'll see what it is. Now I'm hooked, and happily only until the end of the season which is the end of the series.)

Let's see if I can write that with out all the parentheticals. There are some nights I can't make it off the bed that is in the back room, where the TV is set up, to the bed in the front room, where I sleep most nights. Last night was one of them. I took my bedtime meds at some point while watching ER, and watched the news, watched Leno, sort of, as I was curling into fetal position amidst all the debris that is still on that bed even now as I sit here, morning.

I don't generally watch ER. Alyssa twittered about it last week, and I got hooked, and last night I fretted that sweeping the walk and salting it might make me late to watch it, but I made it upstairs just in time for the closing credits for 30 Rock. I don't generally watch the news. But last night I made sure I was back in the back room in time to watch the (I can't spit out the words) news about the US Air flight that is now being called "The miracle on the Hudson." And I watched all of the news, and then Leno. And I didn't turn off the TV, or make plans to get into my nightgown. I guess I didn't brush my teeth. I curled into fetal position, with the TV on, and fell asleep. So my dreams were peopled with people telling me that I should make sure my car battery was in good health, that I had a blanket and a first aid kit in my car, salt, all those things you should have when you might get stranded because of cold or snow. Which we have, in abundance. No, we are not at -53 degrees F like Schmutzie, or at 7.5 inches of snow like Jim Bonewald, but for Pittsburgh, we have enough. About three inches on the grass and the temp is -7 degrees. Our high, which will come at about 4:00, will be 7 degrees. Right now in my mind I'm going through whether I will attempt to refill my wiper fluid at that time or if I will run by the guys at the quick oil change on my lunch hour.

The TV is off now, after being on all night, and I instinctively want to turn around. The sound is just off, my monkey mind says. No, I didn't mute it, I did turn it off. I don't want to hear about the American in Italy who is about to start a murder trial for killing her roommate. I don't want to hear any more about how cold it is outside. I don't need to see all the places that are closed running on the bottom of the screen. You know it's a lot because yesterday, they stopped in between commercials. The news would go off, the commercial would come on, full screen. Then the news would come back on, framed in blue by the temperature (COLD) on the left and the scrolling schools and day cares scrolling on the bottom. This morning, every school district is closed. As much as I am a proponent for winter, today I will not be foolish and take my morning walk.

I had dreams about going to the Superbowl. It was in Pittsburgh, and it was cold. A friend of mine was waitressing, and she was wearing a uniform with a special red and white long sleeved t-shirt. Was the Superbowl in Pittsburgh the other times we played, my dream mind wondered.

And then I woke up to people talking about Sully, and getting out alive, and I opened my eyes, and sat up and watched. I watched and watched until they stopped talking about it and moved on to what they had probably scheduled at least earlier in the week, the American in Italy. I wonder what features were scheduled for today. People that got calls yesterday or last night--don't come in for your 7 am make-up, we're spending the majority of the show talking to the survivors of Flight 1549. And what a relief--that they were ALL survivors, there weren't any non-survivors, except for the plane, may it rest in peace. Well, pieces, now, and it will have to be brought up, they'll have to get it out of the Hudson to examine it, to retrieve the black box, to study what went wrong and what went right.

Last night I finished listening to Malcolm Gladwell's latest book, Outliers. In it, Gladwell spends an entire chapter on pilots and crashes. He talked about the culture of the pilots and how that affected the way the pilot and the crew interacted. How changing the language that Korean pilots used in the cockpit to English allowed them to retain their culture outside of the cockpit, but that interacting in English made them safer. Blech, this paragraph stinks. But I know that there is a difference of 10,000 hours. Sully, the pilot of the US Air plane, had more than that 10,000 hours of flight. Yes, it was a miracle. But there was more to it than chance. Chance did not make this flight the only successful water landing, I think, EVER. Sully is described as a man who even when he travels in coach with his family, when they do the safety review, pulls the card out of seat pocket in front of him and follows along.

I wonder how many books will be born. I wonder if we will come up with a Dewey number to use for those books, just as we have Dewey numbers we use for books about 9/11. I wonder if there is a number for the Hudson river. Or will it go in aviation? Some of the books will go in Biography...I'm getting tired. I've been tired. It's time to check my email, my Twitter, maybe Facebook, and get a move on. I have to be at work in a little over an hour, and if I want a shower, I should do that now.

I'm hitting publish. There are other links to add, I know, but I need to decide if I want to get wet before going out into the cold. How grateful am I that I swept and salted last night.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

My sister's phone: inanimate object? NOT!

My sister's phone, much like the watch in the movie Stranger than Fiction, decides to call me every once in a while. It's done this one other time, and all I heard was jostle jostle and when I called back I got voice mail. I was freaked out and called my mom. Sis just called me but I couldn't hear her! I imagined her trapped somewhere without cell coverage. It was around the time when that guy got out of prison because he twittered one word. When my phone rang this morning, because of the snow, I thought the only person that would be calling me this early would be someone from the library saying that the library was closed, which would be ridiculous, a) because it's not that much snow and we never close, and b) because I don't work until 1 pm, so everything will be clear by then that isn't clear now.

So I called my sister and she thought, who would be calling me? The only person that calls me while I'm waiting for the bus is Mom, and she wouldn't have anything to say to me, I just saw her last night. She picked up, and I told her, "Your phone called me." She was puzzled. "It's supposed to be locked..."
"Well," I said, "It's done this once before." Which is when she said, maybe it's like the watch in the movie Stranger than Fiction. Yes, my sister's phone calls me. I have a stalker. It likes to call me and go jostle jostle. But we had a nice chat. She was freezing, standing at the bus stop.
"Guess how many layers I have on?" she asked me.
"Three. It's so cold today, it's 32."
"Nice try. Yesterday it was 11 here."
"Ouch. I better bring lots of layers for the weekend."
"Yep, cuz it's going to be cold."
So I told her about my newest fun thing--making sure the sidewalk in front of my house is clear. When I get home after work, I sweep the snow and then salt the walk. It takes me about ten minutes. While talking to my mom last night, I said, maybe it's because it's the only thing I can do in about ten minutes that doesn't have a second part. When I do dishes, there are always more, somewhere in my apartment, on a desk, under a coffee table. When I do laundry, I do one load at a time. But the walk, it's done and that's it! Of course, we got another inch or two overnight, so I'll have to go sweep and salt it, but it will be a lot less work than if I hadn't swept and salted it last night.

Somehow we got onto the topic of the inauguration, because of port-a-potties. There's one at the Metro now. "Yeah, that's the thing about Tuesday. It would be so cold that I'd be wearing five layers, and think about it. Five layers and a port-a-potty? No thank you!" She said, "I have friends that are going and they're like, why aren't you going? And I say, 'You must not read the newspaper.'" I would be one of those crazy people, because this election meant more to me than any election ever has, but my sister with her talk of port-a-potties and throngs of people changed my mind over Christmas break.

We chatted some more, until she was about to go into the station at the Metro. "I'm going to lose you." So we'll talk again, later.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

False Evidence Appearing Real

I was fascinated to learn this morning while I watched CNN that Osama Bin Laden's tapes inspire his followers. (He has a new tape out.) I remember when I was in Mary Kay, I listened to tapes for inspiration: Rena Tarbet, Zig Ziglar, and Susan Jeffers, who wrote the book Feel the fear and do it anyway. My Mary Kay days are long behind me but I still remember how I listened to those tapes while cooking, driving, whatever. I wonder if my love for audio books began with listening to those tapes, over a decade ago.

So as I started writing this post, about fear, and its false faces, its masks, I refer to some quotes I've culled from an email I opened this afternoon.

I experiment with online devotionals. Some have gone away, some change their style...some get political. The one I like right now is Transformation Garden. In the devotional for January 6, labeled "Handling the future with faith or futility," Dorothy Valcarcel has compiled a group of hymns, quotes, and poems that point that we have a choice, and our choice has to do with how much trust we put in our Savior. I have pretty much lifted all the quotes herein from that devotional, in an effort to encourage myself and hopefully you, dear reader. If you want to receive Dorothy's devotional, you can subscribe by clicking on this link.

Now, I know, dear reader, that you may not trust God or want to. But these quotes do have a wisdom that I hope translates without sounding namby-pamby.

I like this one, from Dorothy Hughes: "Nobody can take away your future. Nobody can take away something you don't have yet." (italics mine.)

I so often forget that the future is this fluid occurrence that hasn't happened yet. My novel-writer's mind has every detail laid out. The story of my life is laid out in my mind: it is so detailed, layered with meaning, that it has me convinced, until it doesn't happen and my confidence crashes once again. I hope this year that I can be more accepting of each moment as it happens, even while I plan for the future that I don't count on a specific outcome.

I recently watched the movie Prince Caspian. It amazed me, the thousands of years of time travel that occurred as the British children were once again taken to the mythical land of Narnia. Here is C.S. Lewis, the author of the Narnia books, talking about the futility of grasping for the future:

"The next moment is as much beyond our grasp, and as much in God's care, as that a hundred years away. Care for the next minute is just as foolish as care for a day in the next thousand years. In neither can we do anything, in both God is doing everything."

Now, dear reader, this next poem could either make you smile and nod or want to throw up. It is not my desire to illicit the second response, I promise, but I really like it, and I do cling to the encouragement it offers. It's by John Greenleaf Whittier, the Quaker poet.

I know not what the future hath
Of marvel or surprise,
Assured alone that life and death
His mercy underlies.

And if my heart and flesh are weak
To bear an untried pain,
The bruised reed He will not break,
But strengthen and sustain.

No offering of my own I have,
Nor works my faith to prove;
I can but give the gifts He gave,
And plead His love for love.

And so beside the silent sea
I wait the muffled oar,
No harm from Him can come to me
On ocean or on shore.

I know not where His islands lift
Their fronded palms in air;
I only know I cannot drift
Beyond His love and care."

That last bit reminds me of Psalm 139:7-12, where the psalmist writes that there is nowhere he can go where God is not also:

7Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.
Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

Well, the light is gone now. I will be driving home soon. But first, dinner. Because one thing I do know, without a shadow of doubt: if it's snowy and I'm hungry and I have to drive, it is better to EAT FIRST.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

on little cat feet...

for C, because I've been thinking about you.

This morning has drifted into the afternoon. So, since I was freezing, lallygagging around in my nightgown, I finally got dressed.

What have you been up to this week, Sarah Louise?

Well, I've been hither and yon, thanks for asking.

The "big snowstorm that wasn't" caused much drama yesterday--I was late to work (10 min.) not because of the roads, but because I kept putting stuff in my "if I have to overnight it" bag. And then mid afternoon the snow turned to rain, the temps went up, and I drove home.

On the way home, I stopped at the State Store for some rum, as I knew I needed a drink (rum and Coke, please!) after an afternoon of working hard and being in the office all by myself. (Alone again, naturally.) (No, it was the snow that made Jane stay home--she lives North, near Zeely, and couldn't get out of her driveway.)

And who was at the front register at the State Store? A woman I had looked up to most of my short career as a bookseller in Pittsburgh at Fox Books. Her name was Dee. I thought, oh, we'll have that conversation as I purchase my $13 bottle ($1 off!) of Bacardi, where are you working now (she'd ask me), as I would look at her hand to see if there was a ring. But just as I was moving toward the registers, a line had formed, and a manager came out of one of those offices you see in stores, where the floor of the office is about two feet above the floor of the store. I demurred that the people ahead of me should go next, but they weren't budging, so I went to his register, this man with pattern balding and some white hair around the back of his head. So he rung me up, and out I went, back into the cold, the rain. And I thought about it, because in my life, my father, the gregarious, never hesitates to reestablish a relationship. But what good would have come from talking to Dee? We were never friends, just colleagues, sometimes competitors. She didn't look like she was happy, and the grumpiness would have been contagious. At one time, a long time ago, I wanted to be her. Keyholder,* she had been, and then Assistant Manager. And while seeing a woman one time after not having seen her for at least five doesn't give me a clear vision (at all!) into her life, at that moment, it was better to just walk away.

(Oh, look, it's snowing!)

I drove home, listening to Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers, which is amazing, and as soon as I walked in the door of my lovely third floor walk-up, I made a rum & Coke and watched the special features to the movie du jour, Broken English. (Which is wonderful.)

I watched Friends, then did some social-networking a la Twitter, Facebook. And then I went out, to Kelly's house. She was having a party where the main attraction was beer milkshakes. It's from Cannery Row, by John Steinbeck. Chocolate ice cream and Guinness? Oh yeah.

The fog, this I don't know what, is a sort of melancholy that has tied me inside even though I should take a walk and start making something for our church dinner (with Steelers game).

This week I've twice had occasion to talk about my life, and how I lived part of it overseas. I actually got to talk to someone who has been to Warsaw and totally laughed that I see it as the most romantic place in the world. I laughed with her, because I know it's crazy too.

I can't seem to get started on where I want to go, so I'll just dive in. The year was 1989. It was October, a month that seems to always be trouble, and now I know why, as it is a difficult month for depressives, waiting for the light to stabilize from fall to winter. I didn't even know I was depressed then. I just knew I needed out. I was a freshman at a small Catholic women's college in Pittsburgh, where all my fellow students were nursing and education majors. I was an English major, one of three slated to graduate in '93. One wasn't talking to me, and the other was a grandmother (as Carlow had many returning "non-traditional" students, students who had either never gotten their degrees before they got married or had delayed graduation after getting married.) My roommate and I weren't exactly getting along, but we weren't talking about why. She moved out after Thanksgiving. I had started visiting the career center on a regular basis, as the woman who ran it had nice comfortable chairs and she listened to me. She was my first counselor, though I didn't realize it at the time, what our relationship was. I actually was a paying client of hers in my mid-twenties, when I worked at Fox Books.

I was lonely, I was homesick, I wasn't meeting people who "got" me. Most of my peers were from Southwestern Pennsylvania who went home to do laundry on the weekends. I was from suburban Maryland, and my parents were six time zones away in Warsaw, Poland. And try as I might, I could not convince them to let me take a semester off. Eventually, I stuck it out, transferred to a school in Maryland after my sophomore year, and graduated in May of 1993.

It hurt me deeply that my parents were so far away. I felt alone, abandoned, and a bit like a motherless child. (Sometimes I feel so reckless and wild--red is the color that I like the best) And it wasn't until my late twenties, when I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and went to live with my parents for three years, that our relationship was restored.

The myth: some people seem to glide through life, hitting all the stops on the way to adulthood: graduate high school, go to college, get married, have kids, work at a fulfilling job, retire, and become grandparents. (Seem being the operative word, because looks are deceiving.)

I am not one of those gliding people. Am I stuck? No, I don't think so. I'm just taking longer in between stops, and deciding which stops I want to take. Taking a class my freshman year at Carlow on the Four Gospels with women my age and women my mother's age helped me to see that there is not one way to navigate the stops. You miss one? You go back, if you can.

This week I've gone out three nights. I feel an awakening in my heart and mind, a desire to engage in conversations, a desire to be with people, and like a beautiful dream, there are people to be with! It's Winter, but I am finding that there is a Spring happening in my heart.

* * *

Was there ever a time when you took a detour from the linear stops along the way? Was there a time you wanted to but couldn't?*
*Keyholder was the next step in the hierarchy at Fox Books: bookseller, then supervisor, then keyholder (who was responsible sometimes for opening the store), then Asst. Mgr, then Manager.

on little cat feet (Carl Sandburg, Fog)
Alone again, naturally (Gilbert O'Sullivan)
Sometimes I feel so reckless and wild (Shawn Colvin, The Story.)

*do you think the questions at the end are dorky? (It's something I'm trying on for size.)

Sunday, January 04, 2009

What Sunday is for, n'at

So I woke up at 8:30, turned off the TV which had been broadcasting SATC-TM all night, via my DVD player.

I rolled over, had a dream about being in retail, only I had my current boss, and it was 10:30. Yikes! I so rarely sleep in.

I didn't really have breakfast in the house, so I hemmed and hawed and finally decided to go to Whole Foods, where they make omelets on Sundays. As I pulled up to the light right before WF, the crowd was too much, so I decided to head West? towards Negley. I wasn't sure if I wanted to go to Gullifties...and as I crossed over the East Busway, I decided to turn left on Ellesworth. The Elbow Room, but of course!

I would write more, but I must off to the movies. Doubt is playing at 2:20. If I went to see 7 pounds, I'd be late for church tonight, so it will have to wait.

More to come...I went shopping. Pictures, maybe...

Thursday, January 01, 2009

While you were sleeping...and other thoughts about the new year

So, um, I almost slept through the change of 2008 to 2009. Thanks to my parents, I woke up for a few minutes. My fun parents, who had no plans came up with a great plan: dinner at a fun restaurant and then the Bollywood movie, Slumlord Millionaire.

Their daughter came home, after driving almost an hour in snow, driving out of her normal route to avoid hills that she normally drives so that she wouldn't slip slide away. She swept the front walk, salted the steps, and prepared a Trader Joe's microwave dinner. She ate chips and salsa while waiting for the dinner to finish its 5 minute rotation.

She started to watch Frasier, got bored, turned off the TV, read some more of Frank Schaeffer's book Crazy for God, and decided to take a nap.

Um. Well, see, I thought about the parties I'd been to this season. Where I was glad to be invited, where I showed up later on pictures on FaceBook, where I talked to people about their children, their spouses, their engagement rings, and where I wondered how early I could slip away.

And so I decided to not get up from my nap.

Fortunately, Cuileann drank my champagne. And Bruce Reyes-Chow, the moderator of the Presbyterian Church, gave me my first laugh of the morning. Those Californians, gotta love them.

This is NOT a very exciting post. In fact, it's almost un-publishable. But the point is that 2009 is the year I want to break out of the mediocrity that weighs me down. That doesn't mean I won't have my moments. We all have them, it's just that some people hide them better. (Um, not that hiding them is always the best way to deal with moments.)

My blogroll is alphabetical (which makes me think that I should rename this blog Aaaaaaaaa blog by a girl named Sarah Louise) so one of the first ones I read this morning was Amy, at Eliza Jane. She says it better than I could, as she ponders the beautiful people.

Okay. Painful as it is, I'm going to hit publish. To remind myself of what 2009 is NOT going to be about.

And I'm going to sit here in my pj's and watch the Rose Bowl Parade.