Monday, November 29, 2010

a little coast left in me

In a conversation, I heard myself refer to I-80 as "the interstate." Oh God, I thought, it's happening. After five years of my waning resistance, Nebraska is eking it's way into my personality. I've always been proud of the geographical location of my upbringing, but I'm afraid regardless of it, I'm turning into a Midwesterner. That scares the hell out of me. So I've compiled a list of things that sets me apart from my neighbors to make myself feel better. It's all I have left now besides the occasional, "you're not from around here, are you?"

1. I still haven't worn tennis shoes with jeans
2. I've managed to remain under 180 lbs
3. I don't eat any food made of corn except popcorn which doesn't count because it's a snack
4. I hate Runza
5. I don't wear red on game days and in fact I don't own any red clothing save for one sweater vest I bought in a sweater vest frenzy.
6. Lake Okoboji is not "the beach"
7. Bad teeth are still a turn off
8. "Supper" is "super" misspelled to me
9. I don't own a John Deere, Harley, or a pickup truck
10. Neither me nor my dog hunts
11. I still can't cook
12. I've never ordered from Omaha Steaks
13. My outdoor grill is tiny
14. I don't have a quilt on my bed
15. All my silverware matches
16. I don't own wind pants
17. My hair is not brown
18. I don't consider Plato's Closet to be high fashion
19. I didn't go to the Olive Garden after prom
20. Both my car headlights work

Sunday, November 28, 2010

O Tannenbaum

Over the weekend, Steve's grandpa told me about the first outdoor Christmas tree. I thought about it today while I trimmed my indoor one. Before these lights that are such a hassle, they had candles on the trees. Just when I think modern conveniences aren't convenient, I realize the alternative is a fire waiting to happen. Read this story; it's fascinating.

was Christmas Eve 1914. On a quiet street in snowy Denver, a young boy lay in his upstairs bedroom, too ill even to be carried downstairs to join family members around the Christmas tree. According to the attending physician, this would be 10-year-old David Jonathan Sturgeon's last Christmas.

The boy's grandfather, D.D. Sturgeon, one of Denver's pioneer electricians, could not bear to see his grandson completely miss out on the holiday festivities. Saddened and desperately wanting to brighten the small lad's holidays, he took some ordinary light bulbs, dipped them in red and green paint, connected them to electrical wire and proceeded to string the glowing baubles onto the branches of a pine tree outside David's bedroom window, within easy view of the boy's appreciative gaze.

News of Sturgeon's efforts to please his grandson spread throughout the city and, night after night, folks came by horse and carriage to see the wondrous sight of an outdoor lighted Christmas tree. And it's no surprise that they were so fascinated, considering the fact that David Jonathan Sturgeon's Christmas tree holds the record for the world's first outdoor electric lighted Christmas display.

Complete story here
By Doris Kennedy
with special thanks to the Denver Post

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

DDs without a bra: must be fake

Apparently there is a new gym in town. We have tons of gyms around here which is surprising because most everyone in the midwest is fat. Although I'm sure that's how gyms make their money: off the fat people who buy memberships and don't use them. The skinny marathon runners that are damaging the gym cardio machines are losing them money. Anyway, I received this ad in the mail today:

Is this what you look like when you work out? Do you put your giant hoop earrings on and wear your necklace that dangles right into your DD cleavage that doesn't need a a sports bra during all that jiggling? That is what I call false advertising. I have DDs and I work out and I look a bit more like this:

With my honesty, I could never hold a job in marketing. I wouldn't be able to sell water to a millionaire dying of thirst. He would take one look at my sweaty middle and say, "no thanks, I'd rather die."

And with my post-workout look, you best believe I stay in the comfort of my own home. No one wants to see my tomato face. While I was running on the treadmill in my basement tonight, the neighbors pulled into their driveway and their headlights were shining into our basement window. I thought, oh no, I hope they can't see me. They're three times my age and probably can't see ten feet but the thought occurred to me nonetheless.

So no, Aspen Active, thanks for the VIP offer, but I will be staying in my basement away from your flying boobs and sweat-destroyed silver jewelry. Nothing personal (or maybe it is since your ad says, "finally...a health club that cares about it's members" - maybe they do need me in marketing after all).

P.S. For those of you who have never met me, the second picture is not me. It's some girl named Staci from Google images. I would never be caught dead in those rubber band contraptions that are giving her knees a Spanx boob effect: even in my own basement.

Monday, November 22, 2010

dreams uninterrupted by an alarm clock

I enjoy the sense of accomplishment I get from working. But the enjoyment stops there. I do not like feeling stressed and anxious and worried. Nothing can do that to me quite like work can. I dream about work when I'm not there. I worry about about getting behind. I feel stressed if I don't execute everything flawlessly. I have impossible expectations for myself which makes me feel like there is no option but to quit and try something else: until the exact same feelings build up and I start over: an endless cycle of quitting while I'm ahead and then starting again. I always want to be ahead, never behind.

I dream of the day I can pack working an 8-to-5 in. But I know it's not realistic. Steve and I bought this house as a dual-income couple with expectation of remaining a dual-income family. I bought my desk on credit that I have to pay off by working. It all seems so convoluted: working so I can enjoy my hobbies but not enjoying my hobbies because I'm working. Steve tells me I don't know what I want, which is true. He tells me I would be bored if I didn't work and that the novelty would quickly wear off like it does for everything else.

I'm afraid he knows me better than I know myself. So then the only solution is to be a writer. To work in my home at my desk, with no one to answer to but myself. My only Excel spreadsheet is the log of poems submitted to literary journals. I would type a nonsense blog until I got my creative juices flowing enough to write something else. I would go to Starbucks when I had writer's block and if that didn't cure it, I would shop for home decor among the clocks and framed art and vases of Garden Ridge, Marshall's, and JCPenney.

I would read on our chair with matching ottoman in the corner by the fireplace with Tucker snuggled up next to me under a blanket. And somehow, checks would come. I would get rejection letters, sure, but few and far between. For the most part, I would submit my writing and an editor somewhere would think it was brilliant and needed to be shared. That is my dream. Lofty, sure: but aim high. I heard on the Apprentice that "genius is perseverance in disguise." Who says the perserverance has to be at my 8-to-5? Maybe, just maybe, if I persevere at my hobby, I can turn that into my career. I think someone somewhere has done it before.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

the big tearjerker

I've praised the Big C before. It's only been one season, but it has to be one of the most thoughtful shows ever made. I know a lot of people don't have premium tv channels and haven't seen it, so if that's you, watch this final scene in the finale episode.

This scene and this song ("Lullaby" by Sia) have been on my mind all week.

Laura Linney's teenage son was just told his mom has cancer and while she is at the hospital, he finds an envelope in her purse which says, "don't open until I'm gone." He opens it and finds a key to a storage unit. This scene is what he discovers in that storage unit.

I cried my eyes: it was almost to the extreme of needing frozen spoons to depuff them before work the next morning. If you know someone with a life-threatening disease, think of them; think of how it would feel to lose them. Life is sacred. It could be all we have. Enjoy all of it you get.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

piling up treasure

So I did it. I read those five library books within my three week time frame to show the bitchy librarian I could. Sure, I finished the last one in the parking lot next to the book drop today; I need a deadline so I can push right up against it. I think this is my first time to check out books and not renew them in three years. It took some sacrificing tv shows and even a workout, but I read those books.

In the J.D. Salinger book I read, Franny and Zooey, Franny says that everyone is "piling up treasure on earth. I mean treasure is treasure, for heaven's sake. What's the difference whether the treasure is money or property, or even culture or even just plain knowledge? It all seemed like exactly the same thing to me if you take off the wrapping."

I love that. Often we measure success just by the amount of money someone has and the possessions they own. But treasure is treasure: to one man it is money, to the next it is knowledge, to the next it is happiness. Anyone can be successful, not just the rich. Anyone can be rich, not just the wealthy. The definition of the word lies in your definition.

Sometimes I think that anyone can be happy who will be content. But then I think can someone with goals outside of who they currently are be content? And then I think if someone is content, how can they be happy without dreams to motivate them? No one has the answers; if we did, we would not continually seek knowledge. Perhaps happiness does not lie in contentment but the constant pursuit of it. Perhaps happiness is constantly evolving into someone better than your current self, piling up treasure all along the way.

Monday, November 15, 2010

vote veto

Around here, there is a petition going around to recall our mayor. People aren't happy with his tax hikes and general weaselness. It's on the radio, it's on signs in the neighborhoods, and worst of all, it's harassing me. I can't go anywhere without being asked, "are you a registered Omaha voter?" by some crazy granola-eating mom with frizzy brown hair and a purple jacket. You would think a simple "no" would be an easy out. I've got news for you: it opens a whole new can of worms.

The last time (before today) that I was accosted was downtown by a boyish man (or is it manish boy?) who still wears ski sweaters like it's ninth grade all over again. When I told him I'm not a registered voter, he responded, "that's a shame." Oh that's a shame? No, what's really a shame is your god awful wardrobe and the fact that you still live in mommy's basement on a moth-eaten couch, not the fact that I don't don one of those side oval stickers on my lapel the first Tuesday of every November.

Today, it was at the post office. I was picking up mail from my employer's P.O. Box. I was dressed in work attire, not in sweatpants that the people running errands were in. Obviously I'm on a mission, not a casual errand. Tell that to the frizzy-haired woman (who has asked me three times in a week) who again asked if I'm a registered voter. She apparently had ate one too many mushrooms in her hippie days, because she asks me on my way in and on my way out of the post office every time. So I told her firmly, "no, I'm not a voter," and she said, "well we've got sign ups inside." Well I'll be. I had forty unemployment claims in today's mail, that doesn't mean I expect her to help me protest them all.

People think it's a god damn civic duty to vote when really it's a right I choose not to exercise. So what do you care if I don't vote? It's none of your god damn business but since you're asking, I don't vote in political elections for the same reason I don't pick up trash on the highways or participate in fund-raising walks for the cure; because it doesn't make a lick of difference whether I do or don't: the outcome will be the same with or without me. People get so god damn preachy about the whole issue like I'm personally offending them because I don't give a shit about which weasel is in office.

You wouldn't like it if someone tried to shove their religion up your ass, so don't mind me if I'm not enamored by your attempts to convert me into your world of watching too much Fox News and thinking that voting is the answer to the world's problems. We've been voting for centuries and as far as I can see, the great US of A has discriminated against blacks (slavery), gays (marriage and the benefits of it), and legal immigrants (Japanese, German and Italian) under this democracy, so I'm not seeing the whole system as much of a solution. Call me unpatriotic or whatever you want, just don't badger me to vote.

P.S. I apologize for the excessive use of "god damn" - I've been reading a lot of J.D. Salinger lately.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

read someone else

Last night it snowed. Steve and I watched out the window together as the snow swirled under the streetlights. We ordered Jimmy John's because I don't drive in snow (instead, I force other people to). I finished a book in bed while Steve watched comedies downstairs. I wrote a poem inspired by the children playing outside. It was the perfect winter day.

This morning my aunt and cousin are coming to visit. I must exercise and tidy up and I don't have nearly as much time as I would like to write a blog. So instead of reading my prattle, read this. It is my friend Melinda's blog. She is my age, but much wiser than her years. I am very lucky to know her and to call her my friend.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

save me from myself

People get married for all sorts of different reasons.

The most common reasons I've come across are:

1. Dual income/benefits (this includes marrying for U.S. citizenship)
2. Already have a child together
3. Come from an ultra religious family and think a marriage certificate is the only way to have sex without rotting in hell
4. Want to start a family
5. Believe in true love

The best way to sum up the reason I'm married is in the lyrics of a Christina Aguilera song (because I'm deep like that):

Save me from myself

It's not so easy loving me
It gets so complicated
All the things you've gotta be
Everything's changin'
But you're the truth
I'm amazed by all your patience
Everything I put you through.

When I'm about to fall
Somehow you're always waitin'
With your open arms to catch me
You always save me from myself.

Don't ask me why I'm cryin'
'Cause when I start to crumble
You know how to keep me smilin'
You always save me from myself.

I know it's hard, it's hard
But you've broken all my walls
You've been my strength so strong

And don't ask me why I love you
It's obvious your tenderness
Is what I need to make me
A better woman to myself
You're gonna save me from myself.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

my nook

I covet furniture. My perfect date would be browsing Ethan Allen, eating some pasta, then finishing the night off with a Blizzard from Dairy Queen. I want to shove rich brown wood furniture into every crevice of my house; I want a place to sit against every wall. A nice desk has been on my dream list for years. And finally, my dream came true. This arrived on Saturday:

Yes, I know it's not in perfectly presentable shape. I don't have nice bookends or pictures on it yet. I don't have the big chair to go with it. But I've learned you don't wait to show something off when it's perfect, because perfection never comes. An old co-worker of mine said she decided to have two house warming parties: one for when they just moved in, and one for when they had everything as they wanted it. It's been twenty years, and she still hasn't had the second party.

That was a tangent: back to the furniture. The problem with buying new furniture is once you start, you don't know how to stop. Seriously, just ask the credit department of Furniture Row. Now that my desk is in, I realized the leather chair in the den that Tucker loves to lay on is much too bulky and raggedy; I need some sleek decorative chairs instead to match. I could use a lamp on the desk. A smaller computer tower that I could put below would be nice. Wanting is a real problem for me.

But all my wants aside, I am a very happy girl, sitting at my very own desk, playing FreeCell every night. This room belongs to me. It is my little nook full of the things I love most: books and the internet. Now put a tv with DVR box and the pantry full of cookies in here and I'm all set. And, of course, the new chairs and lamp.

Monday, November 8, 2010

no reflection: just the mirror

I'm constantly surprised by how little we know ourselves.

I thought about it yesterday when I ordered my Jimmy John's sandwich: the Bootlegger Club with no tomatoes, add cheese. The funny thing is, I used to get a Turkey Tom with no mayonnaise add sprouts. Until I tasted mayonnaise; then I kept the mayonnaise on it. And then at work the orders got messed up and I ended up with a Bootlegger club instead. And I liked it better. And then one of my Facebook friends posted about her favorite sandwich being the Bootlegger club without tomatoes add cheese and I thought I should give that variation a try. I've just been discovering lately that I'm not all that thrilled about tomatoes. And now, instead of kind of liking Jimmy John's, I crave it. Because now I've found what I love. I didn't know before.

Before I ever having a boyfriend, I thought I liked blonds. Now I can spot "my type" (how I hate that phrase!) from a mile away: crooked smile, dark hair, scruffy face, dimple a plus. Before buying a car, I thought I'd want a yellow one. I know people are always changing and evolving, but we don't know what kind of car we will want until we have a driver's license and the money it costs to buy one. We don't know how we will react to a situation until it arises. And each time something new happens, we learn a little more about ourselves: that elusive mystery we live with every day.

You would think knowing yourself would be the easiest person to understand, when in fact, it's the most complex. You can not see yourself objectively or judge yourself on one simple distinguishing characteristic; that is reserved for other people. For ourselves, we assume we have the answers even though the questions were never asked. There is this book that I own that I have bought for a few people who share my love of lists:

It asks questions that would seem so basic, but many of them I had never thought of since I hadn't been asked. My favorite part about it is picking it up each year and adding to the lists and laughing at what I wrote before. And somewhere between all the lines, there is who I am.

Today, I read the page entitled, "my character flaws." My answers read: impatient, quick to become irrational, judgmental. There are many more lines to go, but the day I wrote these, I was being kind to myself. And looking back years later, I realize some things I do know about myself. The glaringly obvious facts that people are always pointing out to me. But I wonder if I hadn't heard it from so many people if I would even recognize these in myself.

Probably not. Like I said, I'm constantly surprised by how little I know myself.

Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

one bedroom apartment

Being alone doesn't have to equal loneliness.

I know plenty of people who are married who are unhappy. I also know quite a few people who are single who are happy. If there's one thing I've learned in my 27 years of life, it's that the strong people do not need someone else to complete them. Because they are complete all on their own. They are not half a person or in any way worth less than a couple is. All the joy and shit that life brings, single people can do it all on their own, and that's something most couples can't say.

Us couples depend on each other to make it through a day. I, for one, can't open a bottle of Raspberry Smirnoff without Steve. I can't clean the house without him vacuuming. I do like having someone to listen to me vent after a long day at work. I like to have someone to watch movies with: I am not ungrateful for my relationship. But seeing movies, you would think someone who is not in a relationship is half a person; you would think snuggling under a blanket with someone while sharing a bowl of popcorn equals bliss. In all reality, some of us in couples have our own recliners with our own blankets.

I love my husband very much. He gets me and doesn't bother me too much. But if anything were to happen to our relationship, I think I would try it on my own. I do love my alone time. When you are separated from influences, that is when you are yourself. Tonight, I sang at the top of my lungs after having a few beers: that's something only single people like Bridget Jones can do. Only single people can buy whatever they want and control the remote and not do the laundry without repercussions.

I'm not saying one is better than the other, I'm saying both are wonderful: enjoy whichever one you're in. The road more traveled is paved with cement and populated with cities while the road less traveled is rural with fantastic scenery.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Book it

I still go to the library. I know, it's very 1991 of me. I buy any books I can get my hands on from the $2 rack at Half Price books, but that doesn't include many good ones. So when I want to read something worthwhile, I hit up the library.

I checked out five books. The librarian gave me a judgmental once over as if to say, "no way in hell you're reading all these in the three week time frame." So what if I had One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest checked out for six weeks and still only finished 80 pages? That book was awful. She thinks she knows me and that I will have to renew these. So now I'm on a personal quest to prove her wrong.

Five books in three weeks. Well, 2 1/2 now. And yes, three of them are children's chapter books so it should be pretty damn easy. But perhaps you're forgetting that I work a full-time job where I don't take lunch breaks and each night I spend an hour walking and I have to watch my tv shows, too. There just isn't enough time in my life to read books. But for the next 2 1/2 weeks, I'm going to make some damn time. I'll show that bitch with her glare what I think about snobs.