30 November 2011

Congratulations, novelist! You won!

"And now, 50,000 words and one month later, you are a NaNoWriMo Winner!"

I'm grateful for the pants on the dining room table.

If it weren't for those pants, I'd have never started writing my 50,000 words on November 1, 2011.

And now on November 30, it's late. I'm sitting in my living room with a fire in the wood stove, the water out there in the dark, quiet tonight and right here with me is my first reader of these words. (There was no reading allowed until 50,000 was reached. Or more like "I won't read it until you reach 50,000.)
Every time he laughs I have to know what part he's reading. His eyes water with laughter. Is there any better form of encouragement? I'm so grateful.

Even though November 2011 is over and I reached my goal:
50,000 words, BABY! I'll keep at this story until it tells me it's finished.

When it's done, I'll need some readers for pre-editing feedback.
The story is called Hiding Madore.
Think about whether you'd be willing to read it for me and then (gulp) give me honest feedback so I can go back in for the 're-write.' Meditate on it. Light a candle or whatever.

I'll be in touch.

29 November 2011

Flying in the Face

I'm coming right up on the end of November:
  • National Novel Writing Month
  • the month of a gratitude post each day
  • the National month of the pomegranate
  • and the month also known as Movember
I'm exhilarated and sad at the same time.
I'm jacked because I wrote my 50,000 words, people. I did it. From the 1st, starting at 12:01 a.m. (actually sitting up in bed with my netbook upon my lap) to this morning (11/29) around 11:00 a.m. I wrote 50,104 words. My novel. My first NaNoWriMo attempt. I'm so pleased.

Now, this is not to say that I was able to type the words 'The End' this morning. Because when I look at it realistically, I'm probably only about 1/3 of the way through telling the story of the seven women in my book. But I've accomplished the first hurdle, which was 50,000 words in thirty days. A couple of words over my goal and a day early. On October 31st, NaNoWriMo Eve, I did not think I could do it. I'm grateful to be so wrong sometimes.

I've posted a statement of gratitude for every day this month. Some days this was easier than others. It got better as the month progressed. And now I find myself with just tomorrow left but not really wanting to stop. I've enjoyed these daily thanks. And I'm grateful for the energy of gratitude.

I am, as ever, grateful for men with facial hair. Happy Movember. Nice job, men.
I wish you'd hang onto it a bit longer than just Movember. "All I want for Christmas is...."

Now speaking of men, facial hair or not, I have to let the other side of my thoughts have their fair share. I wrote a few words about some of the men to whom I could not explain my attraction. (Just some...) Now I'm going to take a moment to express my inability to explain the opposite.
Here is a list of men for whom I DO NOT get the attraction. These men, I believe have been generally thought of as attractive, pop culture-wise. But I simply don't get it. And this may seem rather harsh but there are a couple of men on this list that I have a hard time even looking at long enough to try and figure out what people see in them. Explain it to me if you want to.

Patrick Swayze
Brendon Fraser
Jamie Foxx
Robert Pattinson
Joaquin Phoenix
Tiger Woods (even before)
James McAvoy
Justin Timberlake

And the "Okay, I get it but I disagree" list"
Hugh Jackman
George Clooney
Benjamin Bratt

Who do you 'not get?'

27 November 2011

Simply, No Accounting

If someone were to tell me, "I am so attracted to you but I'm not exactly sure why," I think I might be a little offended.

And yet...

Is there anyone in the world to whom you are deeply, but unexplainedly attracted? They simply do not fit your standard criteria for attractive?

I mean, if you were to announce that you find Brad Pitt quite handsome, no one would bat an eye, right? No surprise.

But if you were to mention aloud, 'Holy shit, that Bob Costas really does it for me,' you might get some quizzical looks.

My Partial List:
Bob Costas (The aforementioned)
David Caruso (What the hell, right?)
Joe Buck
Kevin Calabro
Will Patton

When I look at this incomplete list, the most striking common denominator that I notice is intelligence. It is my impression (and PLEASE God, do not enlighten me if I'm mistaken) that they are each quite intelligent and articulate (or they play one on TV).

And as far as I know, and again please do not go enlightening me, they are not complete and utter ass-holes. Sometimes that is all one can hope for.

I'm grateful for contradictions and exceptions.

It is too a word!
Webster's says: "Rarely used adverbial inflection of the adjective unexplained

26 November 2011

Talk Dewey To Me!

If the title to this blog post is not already printed on a t-shirt or bumper sticker somewhere, then I want the rights to it.

There are some very common vacation destination desires that I lack. There are places on the planet that I think would be wonderful to visit but at the same time, some other, more commonly held (popular) locations, fail me.

New York City is one.

Now, up until today, only under the right circumstances would I have been happy to take a trip to New York City.

The Conditions being:

On someone else's dime with no financial restrictions.

With someone who really knew their way around NYC (but whose company I would have to ADORE).

When it wasn't freezing cold nor muggy and hot.

With front row ticket to Michael Buble at MSG during my lengthy, non-rushed stay.

But today as I was working around Word Count 43,130 of my novel, I needed the name of a high end, well known NY hotel. (My head says "I know there's one that starts with a 'P.' What was that one again?)

Fortunately I couldn't remember The Plaza and consequently, during the Google search I stumbled upon this place, which doesn't fit my needs for the purpose of my novel story line but absolutely does fits my needs in other more important ways. http://www.libraryhotel.com/index.cfm

Go there now. This place looks too cool. I'm going.

One of the tabs on their site is titled: The Dewey Decimal Concept. Be still, my old school heart.

They have a room called The Erotic Literature Room.

I wear a garnet and diamond band on my left third finger, symbolizing my commitment never to get married again.

But if I die and come back as some rookie who has no such commitment, this is the location at which I will have the ceremony, the reception, the extended honeymoon and all subsequent meals for the rest of my days.

Haven't you always wanted to LIVE in a beautiful hotel? The entire top floor. All mine.
That Eloise had it made, in my nine year old opinion.

I'm eternally grateful for room service.

Go take a look at the website. This place is for me.

Isn't life great?

25 November 2011

Stay A While

"Take off your shoes, BB!" Connor insists.

He has learned through trial and error, over the first two and half years of his life, that you aren't allowed to leave his house unless you have your shoes on.

I wonder how many times he's heard, "Connor, get your shoes. We can't leave until you have your shoes on."

He has thus surmissed that if someone comes to his house and takes off their shoes, they can't leave.

"Take off your shoes, BB!"
Connor buying a bit of insurance that I will be there for awhile.

I am grateful for the magic that is this boy. Connor.

24 November 2011

Barbie's Messy Mimosa

I'm no gourmet cook.
I am a good cook but it is by no means my calling in life. And I don't LOVE it.

I do not make my own recipes.

I do not cook for fun. I cook for food.
For good food, however.
I do make a few things really well (truffles, quiche and omelets among them) and everything else, just regular.

Today I created a new drink; I'm calling it a Messy Mimosa.

I love champagne. I had half an orange and a pomegranate (in honor of Notional Pomegranate month).

I put four slices of orange and a slew of pomegranate seeds in the bottom of a glass. This particular pomegranate was particularly juice so all of those red drops went into the glass as well.
Then I poured in the champagne. With the sparkly foam. So pretty and pink. With delicate little bubbles clinging to each pomegranate seed. And if you watch it the gem like red seeds will sink to the bottom, then float back up to the top. Again and again. In time-lapsed pomegranate TV. Tastes a bit like an intoxicated fruit salad.

If you see a few typos and broken grammar rules just know that I'm on my fourth Messy Mimosa.

I think it would taste good with a splash of orange juice in it as well. But then there's less room for the champagne.

My first drink creation. I'm grateful for libation free license.

Happy Happy 'Thank you' Day!

23 November 2011

Only 7 Writing Days Left!!

Back in the day, Little English 101 on the Prairie, your first writing attempt was called a Rough Draft. The permission to be less than perfect, in that first go, was implied.

"Dear Mr. Peterson,

Barbie has my permission to begin this story very badly indeed.
(She'll try to make up for it in the end.)

Yours truly, St. Francis De Sales (your friendly Patron Saint of Writers)"

When my children went through their public education, I guess the educators thought Rough Draft was too complicated to understand so they called their first attempt, "Sloppy copy."
The dumbing down begins....

Okay, fine. Whatever! *cringe*

Have you ever had something in your life for which you are so grateful, that you couldn't really remember life without it?

Well, I kind of have this with Anne Lamott's book Bird By Bird. Anne has written quite a bit. Some of it I like fine; some I couldn't manage to muddle my way through. Her fiction stuff was NOT my favorite. I recommend her non-fiction without reservation (unless you are a George Bush fan, in which case I have reservations about said recommendation).

Bird By Bird makes up for it all. And oddly enough, I cannot remember how I came upon this book. One of my many previous book clubs had Blue Shoe as it's inaugural selection, that may have been my first exposure to Ms. Lamott but I'm not sure exactly.

Some of the chapter headings of Bird By Bird are:

  • Radio Station KFKD

  • Jealousy

  • School Lunches

  • Short Assignments

  • Index Cards

  • Shitty First Drafts

It's the last listed here that I struggle to remember for personal application as I write.

I cannot count the number of stories I've started (fuckin' GENIUS stories, mind you) that I never finished because that first draft went so badly. So very badly.

And yet someday you and I might be having a perfectly friendly and frank conversation and I'll say 'Oh yeah, I know just what you mean. I wrote a story about that very thing once.' But what I really mean is "I started to write a story about that very thing once!" Somehow it's just not the same, is it?

This month I'm attempting to write a 50,000 word novel from November 1st through the 30th.
I knew from the first word that my pre-existing condition Perfection-itis was in for the big hurt.

Just prior to November 1st I was on the NaNoWriMo web site and saw words like:

  • "Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft" But the pain is why I do this, right?

  • "It's all about quantity, not quality" WHAT?

  • "Lower your expectations, take risks and write on the fly" I think I'm going to be sick.

  • "You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing." Define 'good.'

  • "Permission to make mistakes"

  • "Forgo the endless tweaking and editing, just create."

  • "Build without tearing down." Excuse me?

  • "Let's write laughably awful yet lengthy prose together!"

Oh my GOD, we're all gonna die. Or at least, I am.

Dear Barbie,

You have permission to write a really horrible, terrible, shitty 50,000 word first draft with 50,000 holes in the plot.

Yours mostly, ~ B

(Mr. Peterson was never as harsh a critic, as I am on myself. Bless his heart.)

Call my writing what you will.

I am grateful that I have unconditional permission to write a full-fledged AWFUL rough, sloppy, shitty first draft.

Whether I have the courage to use said note, is another matter entirely.

22 November 2011

As I Hydroplaned to Work Today...

...I was thinking about more movie quotes.
............................. of how grateful I am for interactivity.
............................................................. for audience participation.
..................................................................... for flippin' COMMENTS.

Take a moment.
See the movie quote post below.
Tell me YOUR favorite movie quotes.
Guess which movies my favorites come from.
Leave a comment, anonymously if you must. But just comment.

What say you? (Lord of the Rings Return of the King)

I am grateful for your feedback.

21 November 2011

Read Me A Story

Since June, my work commute has gone from twenty minutes to fifty, one way. If I'm lucky.

I thought this long drive would be a 'price' to pay for getting to live where I really want to live. But thanks to audio books, I actually look forward to it each day.

Now I've loved audio books for years. Ages before Kindles, Nooks and other such newfanglery.
Long ago, audio titles were once thought of as primarily for people who had trouble reading for whatever reason.

One former fellow book club member of mine said it was cheating to listen to instead of reading the book selection. I was pissed. Them's fightin words!

As much as I love audio, the reader is the deal maker or breaker for me.

I loved the book Cold Mountain when I read it for South Hill library's book club years ago. But later, when I went back to listen to it, I couldn't get past the second chapter. I wanted to love it, but alas. I think Charles Frazier is an amazing author, but a 'not great' reader as far as audio books go. Yet, when I listened to Thirteen Moons, also by Frazier, but this time read by Will Patton, holy shit what a difference. The perfect blend. I highly recommend it.

The opposite can be true as well. A branch librarian recommended The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency years ago. I read the book. And frankly, it was completely flat. It read like a straight line. Absolutely unsatisfying. I remember wondering why people liked this book so much.

But then, and I cannot for the life of me remember WHY, one day as I was leaving Tillicum branch to head home, I grabbed the audio version and fell in deep dark love with the reader: Lisette Lecat. Like listening to Meryl Streep read to me.

And speaking of Meryl Streep, have you ever listened to her audio version of The Velveteen Rabbit?
Every night for three months, I had to walk away from my infant son and go home, leaving him at Children's Hospital until I could return the next morning. Before I left, I'd push play on a little tape player that sat at the head of his 'bed,' and Meryl Streep would read him to sleep with the words of Margery Williams,
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

I wish you could listen to these words here, instead of reading them.

Maybe that's when I truly fell in love with listening to books. 1987.

I'm grateful for a good reader.

20 November 2011

Scratch That

I might have just recently been heard to say "I love knowing where I stand."
With that in mind, I am grateful for opportunity to grow and learn a new way.
I was reflecting on how not knowing exactly where I stand can be quite unsettling.
And how it's a bit uncomfortable.

But I might actually get off a little bit on the adrenaline that goes with not knowing.
For one who can lean sideways toward her controlling nature, it is probably very healthy to be not in control.
But it makes me NERVOUS!

19 November 2011

Such Squeamish Youths Are Not Worth Your Regret

I am grateful for movie quotes.

I love a good movie quote.

My favorites fall into two categories.

Category One:
Those lines that I love every single time I hear them, but I do not necessarily use them in regular conversation.

Every piece of this is man's bullshit. They call this war a cloud over the land, but they made the weather and then they stand in the rain and say, "Shit! Its rainin'!"

Anti-wrinkle cream there may be, but anti-fat-bastard cream there is not.

I am not kidding you; I'm not. Someone is going to publish your book. Someone is going to read your book, and realize what you've done.Because YOUR BOOK is amazing. YOUR BOOK is a work of genius. YOUR BOOK is going to change the world.

Ray, when someone asks you if you're a god, you say YES!

Hey, I know this is a tall order but I need you to do me a favor and try not to be so perfect.

Are you crazy? A man in a really nice camper wants to put our song on the radio! Gimme a pen. I'm signin.' You're signin.' We're all signin.'

I have not the pleasure of understanding you.

Category Two:
Those I tend to use in regular conversation:

I care!

Hello the house!

I found my moving buddy.

Important safety tip. Thanks Egon.

I will talk to this leg.

Isn't there anybody who loves me?

Back off man, I'm a scientist.

Gentlemen, the lunchbox has landed.

These are not the droids you're looking for. Move along.

Sounds made up.

18 November 2011

Chasing the Clouds Away

I love when I know exactly where I stand.

I know this is my Left Brain talking but the imagination part of my right brain is so incredibly over developed that I go to hyperactive speculating and that is rarely a good idea.

I get a little squirmy when I am left wondering.

I've often reflected that one little slice of why parenting is such an incredibly impossible job is that one can never really REALLY be sure how you're doing. There is no weekly, hard copy, progress report so that you can adjust accordingly as you go. Instead of finding out twenty years down the road that maybe you had it all wrong. (Another post entirely.)

Maybe we should go back to the system they use in some public school systems: Progress Reports.

I might have an addiction to fact. I hope that's not true. But probably.

One of my favorite co-workers is someone with whom you KNOW where you stand. Period.
Minute to minute sometimes, but I'm all good with that.

I do not want to find out six months from now that I've been doing something that made her job more difficult or simply bugged the shit out of her. I want to know now.

So just speak up.

It is not that I need her to be constantly 'happy' with me. I do not. In fact, if she were always happy with me, I'd begin to wonder about her sincerity because life does not work that way.
If she's pissed, then I say 'Okay, good to know. Thanks for telling me."
I appreciate someone who has the fortitude to be up front. Good or bad.

When did we become a society that is so afraid of telling the truth for fear of upsetting someone. God forbid.

Don't you want to know?

Or do you just want to be allowed to continue (spoon fed) believing that you're all good, when in actuality you are driving people crazy?

Luke warm is the WORST. Do not be in that wishy washy, passive-massively unattractive state! Don't do it. In the words of Anne Lamott "this is a BAD idea!"

I am ever grateful for the aforementioned co-worker: Midge.

17 November 2011

Turning into a pumpkin with carpal tunnel

Midnight is a bitch, you know? I never felt this way until this month of this year.

It is November 2011. And among other things it is National Novel Writing Month.

In years past, I've heard about National Novel Writing Month. But I've always heard about it just after November 1.
(November being the aforementioned Month.)

So missing the kick off, I always resolved to do it the next year. But who remembers to put something called NaNoWriMo on their calendar a year ahead of time. The idea is that on November 1 you start a novel. Something you have not yet started to write at all. Except maybe in your head. Outlines seem to be tolerated but otherwise, virgin fiction.

The goal is 50,000 words by November 30.

So this works out to 1667 words a day. For 30 days! 50,000 fricking words.

Does that sound like a lot to you? Try it. Start with Once upon a time and don't stop until you reach your word count. But (and here's the rub), it should be in the form of a story. You may not, as it turns out, write the same word 50,000 times and call it good.

So the bitch about midnight is, at 11:20 p.m on any given night, let's say I've written 1300 words but am still 367 words short.

My tired eyes over-rule my desire to continue and I start to nod off. "Okay off to bed with you." I am only 367 words short. Not bad. I worked an eight hour day, with a two hour commute. Get some sleep. Right? Well, here's the deal. I may have gone to bed only 367 words short of my goal but when I wake up the next morning, I am now a whopping 2034 away from that day's goal. Shit.

26, 087 words to this point. Just a bit off my mark. We'll see how this goes. I am grateful for every word so far.


I heard it was also National Pomegranate Month.

And that it is something called Movember, http://us.movember.com/

Now, for the record, I have long been a proponent of male facial hair, not for just one month a year.

I went in search of more information on Movember and stumbled across the fact that it is also National Beard Month in the United States. (I love my county!)

This was a fun website to check out:

and also....

Happy Movember indeed.

16 November 2011

Black Crows and Day Old Doughnuts

The coolest thing happened at work today. Black Crows.
"She talks to angels." Not that kind of black crows.

It was late in the day for the majority of people in my department, in my building. But generally, I work later than most.

I enjoy that part of my day. When most every one else has gone home to set their alarm clock for the next day.

But on this unusual day there were still quite a few people around. Anomalously.

A year ago, our department underwent a remodel. It was an interesting and torturous adventure. (I still have two boxes waiting to be unpacked.)

When we moved back to real desks, mine was next to a window. I was and remain all gratitude for my window. Thank you. Thank you.

One of my co-workers, nearby but not next to a window, said it was now my job to keep him informed of any snow fall. Diligently since, I've watched and reported back, as needed. There hasn't been much action for months but I'm still watching. Feels like at any time, I might be back in business here.

Today the skies grew very dark, even for this time of year. They were that stunningly dark, gunmetal gray that seems computer generated for some epic action, super hero movie when something wicked this way is about to come. (Cue the ominous music... dun, dun, duhhhhhh.) But is was all organic and real. And impressive.

Now, I'm not reporting this event to my fellow co-workers because often in a group of people, I'm the only one who tends to get impressed by such weather related phenomenon. So I'm just appreciating the view alone and going about my very important work. But then against the abnormally dark sky, some thing black catches my eye. Then many, many things black catch my eye. Suddenly dozens and dozens of black crows (like there are any other color) have taken flight and filled the air directly outside my window.

"Come look out my window!" I yell over my shoulder, to whomever is left in my department.

And they aren't flying to or from any where. They just seem to be flying in loose circles and ovals and ellipses and other soft curvy shapes. Then in divine choreography, they'd all land in the few trees across the parking lot and across the street. For a few moments of eerie peace, the air would be clear of birds and only full of clouds. The fast moving, churning type of dark gray clouds. Then like someone flipped a switch, the crows all took flight again. Diving and gliding and floating. Combined crow chaos. Then all back to their spot on a branch or wire. For a few minutes. Then in a menacing group swoop, all in the air again. Many more than I could count. Flocks and flocks. Like they were all in town for a convention.

I've never seen anything like it. I want to use the word phenomenon. (And I just did.)

Black Crows and doughnuts today. Will wonders never cease. It was an especially good day. Did you see those crows?

15 November 2011

Hands Full

I'm grateful for the technology that I'm not addicted to.

When I drive, I always use a Bluetooth hands-free device. When the law about cell phones and driving in our state took effect, I was a little put out because I would now need to go buy some gadgetry thing that I was living fine without. But I got one anyway. And I use it. And have now gotten to the point where I don't like talking without it, whether I'm driving or not because frankly I can hear you better with it, than without it.

When I'm at work, I use a hands-free head set that allows my hands to be free to type as I'm helping (ideally) someone on the phone. I can also cruise around the building and am not tethered to my PC.

So now between home and work, I very commonly have some thing plugged into my left ear.
Today I stopped by one of our branches to make an IT Branch Visit (I love these!) and 'worked' there for about two hours before I went to my eight hour shift in my department. Before starting the branch visit, I turn my phone off and stow it away.
However at the end of my visit, I realize I've walked around that branch talking to people and speaking IT for two hours with the ridiculous blue tooth stuck in my ear. I've grown so accustomed to having something in my left ear that I no longer even notice.
THIS IS A WARNING SIGN! The first stages of something that I do not want to see the second stage of.

So today, I've decided to be grateful for all the other techie devices that I am not dependent on.

If you call the Helpdesk and it goes to voicemail, you'll know that it's me trembling in the corner trying to kick my head set habit.

14 November 2011

One Man's List

Perpetually behind. Always trying to get caught up. That is a terrible place to live. I know these people. And some days I am these people. I hate when that happens.
To live in a constant state of defeat. Failure.
Cheerful blog today, no?

I love those days that are so easy to live with as I lay my head down at night. I mentally look back at the list with which I began my day and mentally check off the accomplishments.
Feels good.

  • Swept the kitchen.

  • Laundry.

  • Breakfast.

  • Dishes.

  • Posted on one of the blogs.

  • Shower

  • Made the bed. (Clearly these are not in order of importance.)

  • Got my headlight replaced.

  • Sewed a stray button.

  • Paid a couple bills.

  • Made some business phone calls that I've been putting off.
And this doesn't include the commute, work, writing the novel and all.

When I lay down tonight, this list of checked off items will feel good. I'm just going to need to be careful not to think about the list of things I had hoped to get to but didn't.

I am grateful for a good, juicy list.

13 November 2011

Happy Thirteen!

I am grateful for the 13th day of every month.
And when it falls on a Friday. . . . sweet!

12 November 2011

Following Flow

I love when I stumble.

We stroll along thinking we know so much, that we have so much figured out. Then we stumble upon something.
At times it's the type of 'trip up' that requires one to exercise her dusty humility.
It is hard to learn something new when going our regular, daily, full-speed ahead.
It is for me.

It's when I slow down, whether by my own choice or not, that I stand the best chance to absorb a lesson waiting there for me.

At other times, instead of the bumbling, tumbling type of stumble, it's the happy chance of stumbling upon something, like looking down and noticing a fine treasure in your path.
I love when I stumble upon a gem like that.

The second author to read at the aforementioned author event began not with introducing herself or her book by name but instead by saying, "I believe in following flow." I was struck. And frankly missed the next few things she said.
Following flow.

She didn't say "I'm going to go with the flow," and then proceed to explain the connection between the work of the author just previous to the poem she was about to read.
I believe in following flow. I love this energy. It feels like my choices are simple: I can struggle and strive through out my day. Or I can Follow flow.

When I first heard the phrase "Follow your bliss," I felt the same way.

I am grateful when I stumble upon a new treasure.

11 November 2011


I've written here and else where, pretty extensively, about Veterans Day, Memorial Day and such. I feel deep gratitude to all American citizens, past and present, who have served our country in the military.

The evening prior to Veteran's Day this year I attended an author event at a local library. One of the authors read an excerpt from his book about combat in Vietnam.

After the readings and during the consuming of chocolate cake I went up to him to say something regarding Veteran's Day. I stammered a bit. This has happened to me before where Veteran's Day is concerned.

Do you say 'Happy Veteran's Day?' Happy? Like Happy Fourth of July. Or Happy Birthday? Some how seems wrong.

Standing with this man it was easy to say, 'Thank you for your service to our country.' We knew each other previously. It wasn't like walking up to someone in uniform out in public to say Thank you.

I may be cynical but if I walk up to someone in public and say Thank You out of the blue, they might wonder if I'm a little touched. Or at the very least question what I mean. Wouldn't it be great if we lived in a country where service men and women were so accustomed to being thanked that they'd know exactly what I meant by Thank you?

Don't get me wrong, I am not afraid or hesitant to speak an entire sentence to a perfect stranger. (Ha! Are you new here?)

"Thank you for your service to our country."

I can do this. I have done this. Although it's incredibly hard to do without tears falling from my eyes.

As it turns out also incredibly hard to TYPE without tears falling from my eyes.

Thank you Veterans.

10 November 2011

Monsters and Light

Did you notice that reference to Monsters Inc from yesterdays post? Well anyway, here is the rest of my thinking in gratitude to a good kid's flick...

My intent for yesterday's blog post was much lighter and quicker than it ended up being in the end.

Not apologizing. Just saying.

There are plenty of Pixar Disney Dreamworks matchy matchy movies out there. I've stopped trying to keep track of which production company produced which kids films and which companies are working with or owned by another of those big dog companies. But from what ever source there is a good number of that type of film that completely missed the mark for me.

The previews looked hilarious but then I'd eventually watch the actual movie and wonder what happened to the movie from the funny previews.

Happy Feet? What happened there, I'd like to know.
Shark Tale, give me a break.
Shrek 9, 10 & 12?
Polar Express. That one was just sad. Sorry.

I put off watching Monsters, Inc. Even though I could see the previews made it appear funny, I'd fallen for that one too many times. Sure it was going to be a big snooze, I'm not sure how it was that I ever watched it but I did.

And I loved it from the very first time. Now this movie was made in like 2004? Give or take. I'm not here to review seven year old movies. Although maybe there is an untapped market there. I'm writing about it here because until recently I really had yet to identify why I love it so much.
Sharing movies, books, music that are special to you can be a bit of an intimate experience, if you let it.

When I shared this movie with someone who had never seen it, the special was lost on him. It played for him like one of those mass production, high budget, marketing down your throat kind of animated features that seem to come out about every two and a half months.

I wanted to be okay with his luke warm, take it or would rather clip my toe nails review. Live and let other people watch whatever crappy movies they want to, right?

But I confess, and I rarely do this, I took it a bit personal.

I couldn't figure out why it bothered me that this movie did not rate higher. So I meditated on it a bit and tried to just get to the basic question: Why did I love it so?

This is a movie about a world in which the power source is the screams of children. Now, I'm not so uptight as to be offended by this. Funny, monsters coming out of kids closets to make kids scream, harness the power and move onto the next kid. I'm in.

But then by a serendipity and happy happenstance, one of the top producing monsters discovers that the laughter of a child is a much more potent power source than screams ever were.

For me, it narrows down to Edgy v. Sweet. (Okay, I know a little bit black and white but I don't care.)

We live in a society that thrives on pushing the envelop of edgy. How far can we go? How raunchy, ugly, dark, sinister and evil can we get? Startle and repulse!! More more more.
The power of it may seem addicting.

But shouldn't we consider the possibility that there is more 'power' and 'glory' to be had from laughter and light and love and the sweetness that we dismiss as dull and boring because it isn't edgy enough.

Maybe my take is a bit simplistic for you but I think we should revere and hold up the sweetness of life. And stop glorifying the gore and the filth that shock and thrill us in the worst possible way.

I'm so very grateful for the laughter of a child.

09 November 2011

"Answer the stripe question!"

Gotta love a good kid's movie, no? I know I do.

I'm grateful for my favorite kid movies.

I adore the movie Toy Story.
Anne of Green Gables.
Many of the Disney Classics: Peter Pan, The Jungle Book (to which I know the words to every song), Robin Hood, Mary Poppins.
I love Winnie the Pooh, but only the ones narrated by Sebastian Cabot and where the animation includes the turning of the pages.
The Grinch
Charlie Brown
Princess Bride
Harry Potter & the Sorcerers Stone
Is Wizard of Oz a children's film? I think it is.
I could go on.

The two specific movies that prompt this post are Finding Nemo and Monsters Inc.

Nemo was a huge hit before I sat down to watch it after it came out in DVD. The marketing was through the roof. This, for me, is often an indication of something I should avoid. But somehow I ended up watching anyway. I cannot remember whether I watched it alone. In bed. Or any other details except that as I watched it the very first time, my chest tightened. And it was just a tiny bit hard to breathe.

Do not mistake me:
The voices of Albert Brooks (one of my all time favorites) and Ellen DeGeneres were incredible.
The animation was wonderful. Amazing. In these respects, for me, the hype held up.

But at the point in the movie when the lovely wife and mother fish has been killed along with all but one of her baby fish eggs and this damages the father so deeply and so profoundly that he was, from then on, never the same person or parent again, it hit me like a truck.

I feel the strong urge to paste all the Marlin and Nemo quotes here that pierced me when I watched it. That pierce me still, every time.

I am Marlin. The forever scarred parent who no longer trusts the world or his own abilities to look out for and truly protect her child. Her first born.

My first child appeared to be healthy when he came into the world. But before he was two day old he had gone into congestive heart failure and was being rushed to Children's Hospital.

I could write a long blog post, a good number of long blog posts about that experience. In fact it seems I cannot write about this enough to really heal and recover from the event itself.
But today I mean to speak to the damage left behind.

In every single scene where Nemo's Dad does everything within his power to protect his child, even to the detriment of his child, I relate. I relate so strongly in fact, it physically angers me. I want to defend and argue for that parent who knows nothing but fear.

When Nemo is excited about his first day of school, but Marlin reminds him that he should not be so excited because the ocean (their world) is not a safe place. I understand and even agree.

MARLIN - All right, we're excited. First day of school, here we go. We're ready to learn to get some knowledge. Now, what's the one thing we have to remember about the ocean?
NEMO - It's not safe.
MARLIN - That's my boy. So, first we check to see that the coast is clear. We go out and back in.And then we go out, and back in. And then one more time--out and back in. And sometimes,if you wanna do it four times--
NEMO - Dad..

Marlin tries to talk Nemo into waiting to start school in a year or two, no hurry. He's terrified that something beyond his control is going to happen to this kid. If he turns his back for a second, DANGER DANGER. So he tries to keep him close. Shelters him. Monitors and controls his every activity.

Observing my parenting with this child over the years, you might find yourself calling me over protective. But I just call it FUCKING TERRIFIED.

I never managed to get from under that fear. My son is now twenty-four years old. With two small boys of his own. It's easy to look back now and think 'what was I so worried about,' but we never knew if he'd live another year. There was never a point at which any of his doctors looked at his father and I and announced "We're out of the woods." Never happened.

I wish I'd found a way to breathe all that time. It takes a lot of your energy to hold your breath for that long.

I wish, I wish, I wish I'd been able to do it differently. But I could not.

I am Marlin.

Nemo: Dad, you're not gonna freak out like you did at the petting zoo, are you?
Marlin: Hey, that snail was about to charge.

But instead I wish I was Crush, the turtle Dad Dude. With Squirt, the kid Dude.

[Squirts falls off the back of another turtle and off the current]
Marlin: [freaks out] Oh, my goodness!
Crush: Whoa. Kill the motor, dude.
Squirt: Whoa! That was so cool! Hey dad! Did you see that? Did you see me? Did you see what I did?
Crush: You so totally rock, Squirt! So gimme some fin. [They slap fins]
Crush: Noggin'. [bump heads]
Crush, Squirt: Dude!

I am grateful for a seemingly silly movie that can, as it entertains me on a purely superficial level, also remind me deep down of some personal truths.

Marlin: How do you know that nothing bad won't happen?
Dory: I don't.

08 November 2011

Play Time

I'm taking an on-line class at work on Customer Service. Tier 1 Support Specialist. I really like the class. I wish I had more time to devote. And I wish every one, every where were required to take it.
Or that I could wave my Magic Wand and that every one every where would just be instantly endowed with the principles of this course.
Oh well.

The unit I'm in now is called Ways to Enhance Creativity (in relation to problem solving during customer support). One of the assignments was to list five new ways in which I am going to supplement and enhance my current work space to encourage more creativity, and support thinking increasingly with my right brain when I assist callers on the Helpdesk. (Because, as I've learned, as logical and efficient as my left brain can be, she is also quite rigid and linear when that might not be the best thing.)

The not unattractive instructor of this class puts a heavy emphasis on the concept of Playing with a problem instead of Working a problem. The distinction here resonates soundly within me. Much of the lesson was on converting one's work station into a creativity center with playful aspects incorporating all the senses.

So I made my list of five things:

  • Get a goldfish

  • Order a mini Zen garden

  • Buy a bright red Lady Bug shaped computer mouse on-line

  • Play more Baroque music (which is proven to stimulate alpha brain waves like no other form of music.) I'll have to give up disco, I suppose.

  • Oh now, I can't remember the fifth one but I assure you it was a very good idea and I did receive 100% on the assignment.

But as I 'played' with this assignment, I realized I already have some creativity inducers going on over here.

  • I have some mini wind chimes hanging at the entrance to my cubicle.

  • I have Calvin & Hobbes strips and pictures pinned to my walls

  • A window to let me take in the clouds and other weather outside.

  • I regularly have a vase of fresh flowers adorning my space. Sometimes two vases.

  • I have a couple of real live plants.

  • A hot pink pinwheel

  • A sand dollar from my beach

  • Midge in the next cubicle

  • Library books with amazing images, beautiful watercolors or mind-blowing pop-up creations on display

  • An Origami crane and a white globe

  • Multiple audio books on my shelf to choose from depending on my mood

  • And until someone tripped over the stool beneath it, a frog shaped garden sculpture being used as a candy dish filled with color coordinated Jelly Bellys. (Bellys, is that right? Looks wrong. But not as wrong as Bellies.)

I am grateful for my right brain. Bless her heart.

07 November 2011

The Sound of Your Smile

I answer the Help Desk phone for IT Support in a library system. There are a bunch of branches in our system. Like 16 or something. And we have a ton of employees. I haven't counted lately but three or four hundred maybe. I am not sure. The exact number is not important.

Many of these staff members will never have any need to call the Help Desk. And so I'll never hear their voice on the other end of the phone.

Many others do, however, have repeated need to call the Help Desk. Frequent Fliers. Or Repeat Offenders, depending on your primary outlook on life. Myself, I enjoy my oft' calling coworkers.
And of those, my favorites are the ones where I can hear their facial expression.

Impassive, whether in person or on the phone, is NOT one of my favorite states. I appreciate animated. Screw stoic. I like to hear a person's smile or grimace or squint as we speak on the phone.

I deeply appreciate those who will put themselves out there. Why repress? Isn't that kind of tiring and constipating?

I believe in celebrating the demonstrative, emotional, impassioned people in my midst. I enjoy those who will let their true nature show through a bit. Let it out.

In that work setting that can be so sterile and impersonal, I am grateful for a glimpse of personality. I want to hear your facial expression, please.

(You know, unless of course you are really mad at me, then go ahead and just keep that to yourself.)

06 November 2011

Falling Back

"What one super power would you choose?"
"Time travel."

I don't even have to consider all the others. I decided this question long ago. If I reach back in this blog's archives, I'll probably find an earlier post on this.

The time change twice a year always feels like a little time travel teaser to me. The hint of something I can never really have.
It's too bad, too. I would be very good at time travel, I think. I'm positive, in fact, that I'd make the very most of such an opportunity.
"With great power comes great responsibility..." and all that. I'll not go into when I'd travel to and what I'd do when I got there. Because then you'd know my Kryptonite secrets.

I am grateful for the 'extra hour' this weekend.
I'm grateful for the ability in blogger to make this post look like I wrote it yesterday.

05 November 2011


I've made a tentative and temporary commitment every Saturday morning this month at 8 a.m.
Can a 'commitment' really be tentative and temporary? Probably not.

Anyway, the point of my point is that I decided to get up at 6:15 a.m. on a Saturday morning, to get ready, leave my house at 7:00 a.m. to be 'in town' to attend this pseudo-commitment by 8:00 a.m.
This seemed like a fine idea when I made it.
I have Saturdays off.
I'll get in town nice and early, maybe take myself out for a nice breakfast afterward.
Have the whole day ahead of me.
(You have to read those last three lines with a trilly sing-song lilt to your voice, like this is the best idea ever and you don't have a care in the world.)
So Friday night comes and I know I should be heading to bed, early morning and all that. But I'm not tired. Read in bed for a while, still not tired. Turn off the light, wait for a bit. Still not tired.
Did not get much sleep at all. From beginning to end. Even if you could piece all the little snippets of dozing off together.
The alarms shrills at 6:15. A.M. What was I thinking? I do not want to get out of bed. I do not want to get dressed. I do not want to do this.
I grumble tumble my ass out of bed. 'I need to go to at least one so I'll know if it's worth it every other Saturday this month.' Right?
I splash water over my head. Eat something left over from yesterday and start my car.
It's still frickin' dark outside. What the hell.
I'm fifteen minutes late getting started on my hour drive. 7:15 and it's still DARK!
"Just do it once and then you'll know."
I console myself with the sure knowledge that there is going to be no traffic from here all the way into town at 7:20 on a Saturday morning.
On the way, I start across the Purdy Spit when I notice this color in the sky that I rarely see. Purple. Deep, deep blue clouds against a lightening violet sky with pink streaks swiped across is sweeping strokes. Morning.
I don't see morning like this very often. The couple of trees leaning inward along the Purdy Spit are silhouette black against the wakening sky. Very cool. Striking.
I hit the on ramp to 16 and the striking nature of nature is lost by the survival instinct not to get killed in traffic. Watch the road. Pay attention. Drive safe. Check. Check. Check.
I attend my early morning function with a feeling that I may do this again next week. We'll see. I'll reserve judgement.
I proceed through my day that is to include a good deal of driving, visiting, laughing, driving, waiting, talking and driving. Picking up, dropping off. Shopping, wrapping. Parking and driving.
When the meat of my long day is behind me and I'm finally headed home from town, I'm driving back across the Purdy Spit and I notice the color of the sky. Purple.
Deep, deep blue clouds against a darkening violet sky with pink streaks swiped across is sweeping strokes. Evening.
Same trees leaning toward the roadway, away from the water, warped by the wind over the years. Dark and skulky in silhouette against the sky that is nodding off for the night.

From the book ends of my day, I'm grateful for the symmetry of nature.

From the heart of my day, I am grateful for the honor of knowing my daughter. She is one of the most amazing and cool people I have ever met. I am indeed a fortunate woman to know her.

04 November 2011

Crazy 'bout a Sharp Dressed Man

What happened to men wearing hats as a rule? And I am NOT talking about a frickin' base ball cap. Have you seen The Sting. It did really well during award season the year it came out. Best Picture, Best Direction, Editing & other impressive stuff. Best Original Score. Who doesn't know the theme to The Sting forty years later?

Art Direction and Costume Design were, for me, the most impressive, however. And also the most sad.

What happened to a man's pride in himself. Suits and hats? Polished shoes.
Let me do that irritating thing and answer my own question.
Dressing up isn't edgy enough. There is so much currency in 'edgy' for so long now that I'm afraid we'll never get back. And men are the trailblazers here: edgy movies, edgy music, edgy vocabulary, edgy games and toys.
Some how the genius gender of males have come to the conclusion that dressing up, taking pride in their appearance is some sign of ... of... of what? Weakness, femininity? Are you a wimp if you look nice?
Boy my efforts toward posts of gratitude are listing severely to the side this November. That was not an apology. Just an observation.

ZZTop is not my style but when something resonates, you should not question it. They sing: "Silk suit, black tie, I don't need a reason why." I wish this were true.

I'm crazy, I mean grateful for a cut, crisp, slick styled, sharp dressed man. Too bad there are none anywhere around any more.

03 November 2011

Sharpie Me In!!

This gratitude thing is important to me but I keep pushing the blog post off until later. Not the most grateful energy.

I love school supplies. Notebooks, Binders, Mechanical Pencils, Uniball gel pens, Highlighters, Colored paperclips, College-rule notebook paper. I love it all. And Crayon! Don't even get me started on the 64 box of Crayons.

And Sharpies. Man, what is not to love about Sharpies, right? Well, they are permanent. I don't always love that part. But, you know it says permanent right on the pen, so we can't say we haven't been warned. And Fine Point Sharpies rarely stay fine, no? That nice crisp point in a new Sharpie really is quite fleeting. Other than that?

I love Sharpies. I remember the year they came out with Sharpie colors other than black, red and blue. They came in purple, yellow, gray, pink. Good colors all.

Today I was talking to one of my writing buddies about getting together soon. We realized we both have the next few Fridays free.

"Well, hey. Come out to my house," I said. "We'll have a little mini NaNoWriMo writers group out here by the water."
"I can't do it this week but I am putting it in my calendar for next Friday," she said.
"Okay this is going to be great. Pencil me in," I said automatically. Then quickly retracted. "No, not pencil. Sharpie me in!"

Lately in my social interactions there's been a lot of 'Yeah, we need to get together.' Or 'That's a great idea, let's do that.' But then it never happens. Not even bothering to pencil it in. This is bullshit. We don't even really mean to follow through. It's just false agreement. No way to treat each other, in my opinion. We take our friends and our friendships for granted. The few good people that we manage to make a real connection with deserve more than an obligatory but empty agreement. Shouldn't we treat those few who make it past our social filters with more care and respect? More gratitude?

We might stop offering after a while. And that would be a sad day. Indeed.

I'm grateful for Sharpies. Sharpie me in your schedule and I'll Sharpie you in mine.

02 November 2011

Word Play

I am so grateful for Microsoft Office. Word, specifically

You probably will not often hear me start a sentence with the words "I am so grateful for Microsoft...(anything)." Especially lately.

And yet.

Microsoft Office Word, in spite of how I feel about technology in general, is one of my favorite bits of software. Now granted I've tried little else by way of word processing but I've grown so accustomed and familiar with Word that the thought of going without makes me a little nervous.
The only other product I'm remotely familiar with is Microsoft Works. A product I think Microsoft may have made intentionally frustrating so that Word would feel so much more slick and grown up.

It feels odd that during a month in which my goal is to shine a light on gratitude, I would list something as common place as a word processing program but I must be true to my heart.
My 'asdf jkl;' proper finger-placement loving heart.

2000 words yesterday. Nice, no?

01 November 2011

November Gratitude

I must confess here at the start that I might be off to a rough beginning. My gratitude tends to be leaning in a 'Thankful for the lack of bad things' direction. For the record, I am opposed to that way of thinking.

"Well, at least things aren't worse."

"He's not a bad guy. He never hits me or cheats on me."

"I'm just glad it didn't cost us more."

I do not believe the absence of a negative equals the presence of a positive. I want to feel the abundance of the positives. Not merely be happy that things aren't worse.

I'm grateful to be aware of this distinction. I am grateful for gratitude.

I'm grateful for the bald eagle I saw circling over Key Center as I drove through today.
I'm grateful to be sitting next to a fire, next to the Sound at the end of my day.