Add to Technorati Favorites

Sunday, February 24, 2013


George Takei posted this on Facebook tonight:
"The only thing that could make the Oscars gayer, Seth, is if I hosted them."

And of course, all the George fans had to comment and get excited and I even liked one of the comments. So why am I ranting?

Because of this comment:
"I.m. Ulysses George, you might be gay, but you're not 'that' gay. It's weird, I know, but there are those who are consumed by their homosexuality and those who just accept it as part of who they are. While I'm as morally opposed to homosexuality as I am any other sin, I really believe that as an actor, or a person, you cannot market yourself as 'the gay actor' anymore than you can market yourself as 'the gay administrator' or even as 'the japansese actor' or the 'japanese accountant.' Be good at what you do, FIRST, and gay people and straight people won't care what you do in your private life or what yoru ancestry is. That's why, to me, you're not 'gay George Takei' or "Japanese George Takei', you're George Takei, Mr. Sulu, and all the other roles you've done. That's what matters. AS for the Acadamy Awards, a bunch of self-congratulatory, have drunk millionaire congratutlating other half-drunk millionaires. Who really cares? I have my Star Trek TOS, a tv and dvd...much better entertainment! Cheers!"

I honestly don't understand why anyone has to insert their beliefs into every comment. And why would anyone ever take it upon himself to lecture George Takei about geing good at anything? Does this commentor really believe George cares about his opinion?

Also, homosexuality is not a sin. Period. It is a sexual orientation.

Actually, there is nothing at all redeeming about this person's comment, it's just crap. I think the thing that made me upset is that another person LIKED it. It's one thing to be a bigot and just plain boorish, but now there are TWO of them.

I want to say so much more about the irredeemable nature of this stupid comment, but then I would be spending time on that instead of the really important things I have to staring at the wall...or blinking...or thinking about my elbows...

Okay, I know this is not the first, nor will it be the last time someone stupid says something that lives up to their IQ, but I'm hoping with all my heart that I encounter it less often. Probably if I stop reading Facebook comments made by complete strangers, it will.

But if  you are someone I know who finds nothing offensive in the above comment, please don't tell me. I don't want to know. And if you agree with it, I REALLY don't want to know. So if we happen to be conversing, try to avoid inserting phrases such as, "consumed by...homosexuality," or "morally opposed to homosexuality as...any other sin," or "you're," or "straight people won't care what you do in your private life." Just don't say things like that. Use a bit of common sense and courtesy. Pretend I never refer to your heterosexuality or my judgement of that, okay?

And now I will go scream a tiny bit.

"Promise me you'll never forget me, because if I thought you would, I 'd never leave." ~Winnie the Pooh

I said good-bye to some people during the first part of February. It wasn't strained or highly emotional, nor was the experience tainted by fatalism or martyrdom. Nor was it mutual.

I sat down with myself and realized that there are some people who have been of great benefit to me during the past few years who no longer show interest in being in contact with me. Or, if interest is shown, it's overshadowed by things in their lives of higher priority.

This is what I've been saying about friendship for a very long time.

However, what I noticed was, while I would prefer to have those people still actively involved with me, I'm comfortable allowing them to leave. It doesn't feel personal.

I suppose part of this is that I'm convinced that I'm a worthwhile person. I believe I bring a great deal to any relationship. And while I understand that I also bring my share of stress and baggage, I think I'm worth it.

I have always clung to honesty and I cannot speak true things about myself without acknowledging the good with the bad. So I made a list of cons and pros about relationships with me:

Cons (because they're the easiest for me to spot):
1. I have some emotional deficits.
2. There are times when I don't understand the intent behind your words, and it's possible that I'm not capable of such understanding.
3. I have PTSD which can make me moody or grouchy or scarce at times. Those times might not be convenient for you.
4. Sometimes I argue for no reason at all.
5. Sometimes I will be afraid of you.
6. I ask questions about our relationship constantly, I'm always evaluating it, I'm paranoid about the emotional health of our relationship.
7. Sometimes I cry.
8. Right now I'm not physically healthy and I can't do many of the things I used to love.
9. Sometimes I don't want to talk. I just want to sit quietly.
10. When I become upset, I'm completely irrational.

I think 10 is enough. As I'm trying to balance with "pros", I want to proceed without a great deal of difficulty.

1. I'm interested in you. I want to know what makes you happy and sad, what you like to eat, where you like to spend alone time. I want to hear favorite songs and share your favorite books and poetry. I like to hear about your past, your family, your romantic interests, and your dreams.
2. I'm funny. Probably I can make you laugh even when you're sad. This is because that's how I deal with life. It makes me giggle most of the time, even when I'm crying.
3. I love indiscriminately. One moment I will be in love with the bug I'm watching, the next moment a plant in my garden has taken my fancy or snowflakes in my yard--and always, without fail, I'm in love with you. I can't help it.
4. I like to do fun things. I play games, visit people, orchestrate dinner parties, or just sit and chat. I've been known to stay up all night just to maximize time with the people I love.
5. I'm safe. I will listen to what you tell me without judging you and I'll love you more for knowing you could confide in me.
6. I will tell you what I think. Some people don't like this, but I believe it's best to let people know how you feel. If you make me upset, probably I'll let you know within 30 seconds. If you make me happy, bet on a hug. If you do something that scares me or endangers yourself, I'll probably have something to say about that, as well.
7. I'm always happy to see you--online or otherwise. Always.
8. I'm loyal. If you're my friend, I will take your side in any situation (although, if I believe you're wrong, I'll still take your side, but I'll tell you I think you're wrong).
9. I'm happy most of the time. And when I'm not, I'm looking for happy. I'm not a person who loves wallowing in self-pity.
10. I don't believe I know everything--or even a great deal. I love to learn and I like it when you share your knowledge with me.

As I look at my lists, I believe I'm an average to good friend. I see the drawbacks, but I believe those are balanced by some very nice attributes. Therefore, if those people who used to be present have become absent, I'm led to believe I no longer fill any needs for them. And that is a perfectly logical reason to seek different company.

I realized that I was waiting for them. I missed their support and care. I wanted to find out what was happening in their lives. I missed THEM. And so I allowed myself a few days to miss them, to think about all the reasons I love them, to wish things were different...and then I took steps to help me move on.

If they were previously very close to me, I made certain I tried one more time to make contact. I offered to call or I tried to chat or I left Facebook messages (or any combination of those). I thought about what it would mean to allow myself to let them go. I let myself cry a bit. And then I made peace.

And I blocked online communication and removed them from my phone lists.

That might seem extreme, but to me it was simply allowing the ball to be in their court. I attempted contact. It was not reciprocated, so I removed any temptation which might move me to keep intruding in lives that had certainly become too busy to accommodate me. And in doing so, I felt a sense of relief. I don't have to wonder anymore, if these people will continue with me through life. They won't. Someday they might attempt contact again, which I will welcome, but our paths have diverged.

Therapist would be proud of me. He will see this as progress. I don't, necessarily, but I do see it as practical and helpful. And in a way, it's me participating in the social networking puzzle of life. Successfully.

I suppose the greatest triumph, for me, is that I acknowledge my loss (because I love them) but I also believe part of the loss is theirs. I grant myself worth. I don't know if that's self-centered or self-preservation. To me, it's simply what is.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Snow Boots are Optional

Last week was my anniversary. Darrin and I both had too much "busy" to celebrate, and as last night opened up (first open night in two weeks), we decided to go out to dinner. We were sitting at our table and every time the door opened for patrons, I would get a draft of frigid air on my legs. Darrin very gallantly gave me his coat to put across my lap.

Two young women were seated at the table next to us. They immediately removed their coats (I was still wearing mine) and made themselves comfortable. My eyes met Darrin's and we both shook our heads in disbelief. One young lady was wearing a low-cut halter dress--yes, that means bare arms and shoulders, as well as bare legs--and the other was wearing a thin satiny dress that stopped at mid-thigh. The only thing she wore on her feet were dressy flip-flops (did I mention all the snow we have on the ground right now?).

Darrin and I finished our meal and left. As we drove by a bank we noted the temperature: 5 degrees. What were we thinking? Clearly, we were overdressed for such balmy temperatures!

Only where I live is summer attire appropriate on a windy, snowy night with temperatures in the single digits. Darrin and I went home and made hot chocolate and I threw on a warm sweatshirt. We've never felt the need to be trendy.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

I'm seeing Therapist in a couple of weeks. In truth, I think I've weathered recent storms fairly successfully and I'm managing most of what happens to me with equal success. That's not why I'm meeting with him.

I told Blueyedane, during his recent visit, that I'm not really using my current life experiences to gain wisdom or strength--I'm just taking the hits. There have definitely been times when difficult things have presented themselves to me, where I have learned lessons or gained empathy or simply become stronger. That isn't happening anymore.

I told Darrin that "endure to the end" means waiting for the next awful thing and letting it happen, breathing for a moment when it's over, then waiting for the next awful thing all over again. I said I think I've done enough enduring and I'm ready for the end. I laughed when I said it, but I wasn't kidding.

I told Tolkien Boy that I don't really care anymore about life or joy or anything, really. He knew, at the time, that I was having a bad day, and assured me things would get better.

I'm seeing Therapist because no matter how much I smile and go to work and try to show love and help others, the truth--MY truth--currently lies in the statements I made to those three people.

The truth: I don't care anymore what happens. If it's bad, it doesn't matter. I'll take the hit and get up and go to work again.

I'm seeing Therapist because I'm pretty sure that's not how I want the rest of my life to be, and if it is the way the rest of my life continues, I want the rest of my life to be over soon.

I'm seeing Therapist because this person I've become is not really Samantha. She's a reaction to hit after hit with no time to heal or rest. She's someone I dislike and don't want to spend time with. And I can't find the person I used to be. Therapist will tell me I need to take who I am and become who I want to be. I will tell him that's a bunch of crap and I need REAL help.

The truth: Unless I'm able to find relief from all that has happened in the past two years, I can't maintain any of the therapeutic management I've been putting into place since 2006.

I'm seeing Therapist because I need to be reminded of what must happen for me to continue life, not existence.

I'm seeing Therapist because I have, once again, taken on way too much work in an effort to avoid dealing with emotions and pain.

I'm seeing Therapist because I find myself referring to Samantha in third person--in the same way I have done in the past when I became someone different. And I hate this part of me. I don't like her at all. This is the part that tells me when I must let go of who I was and never speak of her again. I must not remember people or experiences. And if I do this, I'll feel better. I'll be all right. I'll be able to live again.

The truth: I'm seeing Therapist because I feel that I have failed in every way. I'm an amazing musician (I have three concerts this week). I can prepare your taxes and your corporation's taxes, too (I finished six returns this week). I can teach you to play the piano, prepare a fun, innovative dinner for you, and love you with my whole soul. But I can't succeed at being a person, having feelings, learning to connect with people.

But I'm seeing Therapist one more time because one thing I have learned in the past seven years is that if you don't at least try to get help, probably nothing can change. I would prefer to learn again how to live, how to work through difficulties, how to find joy, how to be Samantha--the one I used to be--the one I am now--the whole person.

Please tell me that's not failing. I need to not fail at at least one thing.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." 2 Timothy 1:7

I memorized this scripture when I was very young. It wasn't an assignment and I didn't read the Bible at that particular time in my life, so I'm unsure how I encountered it. Regardless, it made an indelible impression in my brain.

Yesterday I was thinking of all the things I'm afraid of:
1. Emotional pain. I think everyone fears this. It's beyond physical pain and often, when we believe ourselves healed, it pops up again to remind us there are still parts that continue to bleed in the background. It's obnoxiously difficult to address because it involves accepting weakness and vulnerability and forgiveness of self--all of which are things I would like to avoid.

2. People, in general, or perhaps more accurately, my feelings about them. I'm afraid of the intense love I feel for those closest to me, and also afraid of the depth of my desire to keep them in my life forever. I'm afraid I'll want too much or ask too much or just BE too much. I'm afraid they don't really know how to love someone as messed up as I am, so at some point they'll give up and move on. I'm afraid they'll stay and I won't understand why.

3. PTSD. I don't want to be afraid of it, but I am. It's unpredictable and seems to know me better than I know myself. It waits until I'm weak, then pounces, leaving me breathless at its ferocity. Just when I believe I understand what to do, and how to cope, its tactics change and I am back at square one, facing the exhausting task of trying again to understand my PTSD tainted life when I am already tired.

4. Myself. When I lay myself out--neatly labeled, diagramed, and charted--I don't understand half of what I see. I find myself masking most of my reactions because I'm uncertain whether they're socially acceptable, or even acceptable at all. I find my feelings unreliable and often false. I'm not always certain if my thought patterns are sane. At the core I am unpredictable and erratic.

5. Sleep. I never know what I'll find there. Most of the time it's stressful to find sleep in the first place, and once achieved, it continues to cause me stress. I'm very glad to greet the morning. Often I look for it before it's ready to reveal itself simply because I'm tired of courting sleep.

I remember when I encountered the above scripture, thinking about God-given powers. I read the ones offered in that verse and understood that these are things I would seek for--have sought for-- in my life. Those three things--power, love, a sound mind--are what I would use to define myself forever.

Power is something I've wished for since the day my personal power was stripped from me. It was taken as a tiny child by a parent who wished to control every aspect of my life and my self. It was taken by my cousin who caused me pain in ways I had never before imagined--ways I wish to never again encounter. I do not wish for power over another. I do not wish for power that will gain fame or fortune. I wish for a power to know who I am, to govern myself and accept my emotions, to live each day of my life certain that I will be able to manage whatever might befall me. I wish for the power to process sorrow, seek joy, and accept love. If God has given me this "spirit of Power," I want to be able to recognize, accept, and utilize it.

I believe I know something of love. I feel it, certainly. I understand that love occurs with differing depths and frequencies. I do not predict when it will happen and attempt to embrace it when I notice it. I longed for love from a parent who could not feel connected to me. I believed in the counterfeit love offered by my cousin. I tried without ceasing to love those who entered my life without limits or conditions. My experience with love, however, is that it is accompanied by pain--often with a depth and breadth that encompasses the existent love. If God has given me this "spirit of Love," I hope one day that my need for it will be filled to the extent that I give. I long to be able to accept love from others "without limits or conditions." I wish to be able to balance the pain with the joy.

My mind is not sound. I know this. It is tainted by my past, by fear, by a stress disorder. But I am intelligent and inherently logical. One day, I believe I will gain mastery over the thoughts that stem from irrational experiences. One day, I believe the PTSD monster will become familiar and less fearful. One day, I believe the person inside will be clearly evident as I live the reality of my life with honesty and integrity. If God has given me the "spirit of a Sound Mind," there is no reason I cannot achieve my desire to think with clarity and one day leave behind the chaos and distress connected with PTSD.

I understand that while I may not have access to all those things today, one day I will.

I believe this.

Monday, February 18, 2013

There are times when I should be banned from speaking.

I was just very rude.


Our insurance offers support benefits to us as part of their wellness program. Somehow Tabitha has ended up on the list of needing this support. We were called repeatedly for nearly two weeks. Messages were left, but we were busy. Finally a call came when I could answer it--so I did. I answered questions about Tabitha and her needs for nearly thirty minutes. I let them know Tabitha is not in our home and asked that the calls stop.

They didn't.

Adam answered one and said Tabitha was not in out home and would not be back before June. He asked them to stop calling.

They didn't.

This morning I had had it. I'm feeling miserable because of panic attacks and localized anxiety. I have a great deal to do. I alternately feel the impulse to call every person I know and say, "Hey! Please tell me you love me, okay?" and the one where I block every person online, disconnect my home phone, change my cell number, and move somewhere I can never be found. And since I can do neither of those, I'm left feeling frustrated, lonely, and very upset.

So when the call came this morning, I answered it. After the two minute introduction, I answered the question that, yes, I was Tabitha's mom. Then I said, "We've been receiving these phone calls for more than three months now and we're beyond feeling harrassed. Please stop calling." The woman apologized, then began to state why she was calling. I interrupted: "I know why you're calling. I hear it every time one of these calls comes. I don't want you to call anymore." The woman apologized again and tried to continue with her scripted call. No longer able to maintain any semblance of patience, I shouted, "You're not listening to me! I don't want to talk to you! Stop calling me!"

And I hung up.

And now I feel badly because she was just doing her job.

But I'm tired of feeling ignored and irrelevant. I want people to hear what I'm saying. I want to stop repeating myself.

Probably that's not the problem at all. Probably I've had two weeks with no feelings--which included PTSD crap--and even though I said I knew all about managing those feelings now that they've returned, probably I don't.

Probably that was a really mean thing to do. I'm not usually a mean person.

I'm guessing, since I didn't listen to her name, I can't call her back and apologize.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Laughter is the best medicine.

No. This is not a funny blog post.

My adverse reaction to the flu shot left me with fluctuating blood pressure. It would plummet, leaving me dizzy and nauseated, then skyrocket into stroke territory. My physician was more stressed about it than I was. I assumed when the serum from the vaccine distributed itself or worked itself out or whatever, I'd be fine again. In the meantime, Physician insisted on dosing me with two medications which left me even more dizzy and nauseated, but also had other nasty little side-effects:

1. Sleepiness--and because it was a timed-release medication I might be in the middle of a rehearsal when the overwhelming need to sleep would hit. I know of at least five times when I caught myself nodding off while accompanying. 

2. Fatigue--I didn't want to do anything. This included physical, emotional, and mental fatigue. My work stats for the past couple of weeks have been lamentable. I also had company and all I wanted to do was sit and stare at the wall. If you've visited me, you know this is not a normal state of being. I'm almost always doing something. Fortunately, my visitor was delightful, and content to explore and relax without being attended by me. 

3. Emotional Flatness--I felt pretty much nothing. Fortunately this allowed me to sort through a couple of things that have been bugging me for years in at least one of my relationships, and address those things. If you were the recipient of one of those conversations, I probably said something like, "Wow. I don't think I've been able to talk about this before." So maybe it's good that the drug left me void of emotion. Or maybe not.

4. No nightmare recognition--The drug prescribed is also used in PTSD patients to control nightmares. The nightmares occur, but they aren't accompanied by the heart palpitations, panic, and cold sweats that normally visit with those lovely dreams. However, now that the medicine has been taken away (foreshadowing--how about that!) I've been waking my family with my vocal reactions to the nightmares, and sleepwalking a bit. Poor Adam was scared out of his wits when he heard me moving about in the living room, went down to see what was happening, and noticed me putting on my coat, taking the car keys and attempting to leave. I told him the next morning I probably would have awakened when I stepped outside with no shoes on, but now he's convinced I need to be tied down in my bed at night--which is NOT happening.

As I mentioned, I'm no longer on the foul medication. I went to my appointment on Friday. They monitored my blood pressure for an hour, during which time it stubbornly stayed at 86 over 45 and I wanted to lie down on the exam table. Physician said, " might be time to change that medication." I said (slightly caustically), "Hmm...ya think????" because I've been asking him for elimination or a lower dose of the medication for over a week. 

It took the rest of Friday and all of yesterday for the effects of fatigue and dizziness to leave, although the dizziness might be attributable to the low blood pressure. Today I'm feeling better. 

As this seems to be a health update, I've had a return of the tendinitis I was trying to cure about a month ago. We're going to try the lovely injection thing again and pair it with intense stretching in physical therapy. My surgeon tells me this will probably be very painful, but if I'm up for it, he'd rather try this than surgery and give my body a chance to heal itself. I'm up for it.

One last thing, as I'm talking about the blood pressure medication was leaving my body, I felt an enormous return of PTSD symptoms. I have to say, while they're uncomfortable and sometimes they make me want to scream, I almost welcomed them. I'm familiar with what to do. I know what to expect, and I'm ready to begin management again. However, until I'm able to manage them, it's a good idea to leave me alone. I'm cranky, maudlin, intensely lonely, and easily offended. I don't expect this to last beyond June.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love Lists: Day Fourteen (Final)

I started posting love lists on February 1st. My intention was to write a list every day until Valentine's Day. Apparently, however, if you hit "Save" instead of "Publish" when you're done with a post, Blogger just saves the post and it doesn't appear on your blog. Imagine that! So now I'm publishing the final two lists and hoping that yesterday everyone received a great deal of love from people in their lives. I was lucky enough to have Danish Boy in my home, as well as my sons and Darrin. It was a very busy, but wonderful day.

Things I love about my Valentines:

Here's the thing: I've never considered Valentine's Day exclusive to romantic love. If you're someone who is close to me, you know that because I give you chocolate or cookies or both, and sappy or hilarious Valentine cards and I tell you I adore you and want to keep you forever. And I don't care if it embarrasses you or you want me to stop. I won't. the treats, laugh at the card, and be glad I'm in your life and I love Valentine's Day. There really is no other option if you like having me around. Everyone has their quirks--this is mine.

1. Darrin: Of course I have to talk about him. He's the person I see first every morning and kiss each night before I sleep. I push him off the bed when he snores and he forgives me when we make love. He believes I can do anything and if I told him tonight that I would like to sprout wings and learn to fly, Darrin would begin drawing schematics and doing research to help me accomplish that. He loves everything I cook, likes to go on dates with me, and laughs when I tell stupid jokes. I love him.

2. DJ: The day he was born, my life became filled with perpetual sunshine. DJ has always been sweet and caring and his smile makes me feel that nothing bad can ever happen. My son has never been embarrassed to kiss him mom in public, even when I happened to drop by the high school unexpectedly. In the middle of the hallway, in front of all his friends, I received a kiss on the cheek and a bear hug as only DJ can bestow. He has a beautiful heart, an incredibly creative mind, and is impeccably loyal and dependable. I love him.

3. Adam: This person is very much my child. He told me recently that I'm his favorite person to talk/argue/debate with. He wishes with all his heart that he could beat me at Chess, loves making up new recipes with me, and will accompany me anywhere just because he wants to spend time with me. Adam is inventive, very smart, and completely lacking in common sense. Someday he will end up famous or in jail or both. I love him.

4. Tabitha: My little girl has turned into a beautiful, strong, delightful young woman. She was born with determination and courage that rivals anyone I've met. She's still trying to figure out who she is and how to live with the hand life has dealt her. I enjoy every moment I spend with her. We share a similar sense of humor and often no one has any idea what is making us giggle. my daughter once told me she wanted to be just like me. I told her she needed to be just like Tabitha because that person is unique and incredibly wonderful. She looked at me for a moment, then laughed and said, "Yes. Just like you." I love her.

5. Ambrosia: I have to include her because for nearly seven years, she and her family have made room for me to stay with them when I have traveled to Utah for therapy. She allows me to cook in her kitchen, takes time to talk with me, and shares her life with me, just a little. Also, she reads my blog and has for many years.  That's dedication. I fell in love with Ambrosia when her blog was public. I told Darrin: "You have to read this person's blog. It makes me laugh and I want to meet her." And so one day I did meet Ambrosia. The real person was better than imagined. I love her.

6. Boo and her family: What can I say? I have a thing for redheads. When Tabitha went to the care center, I was an overnight visitor with Boo nearly every month and there were a couple of months when I was there more than once. She lives very close to where Tabitha now resides and was willing to allow us access to her home to come and go, as necessary. We've always enjoyed spending time with Boo and her husband (who used to call me and talk for hours--I miss that!), but now that they have an adorable toddler who remembers my name, well, that's a little bit irresistable. Also, Boo allowed me to help straighten her hair last Halloween. Nothing seals love like two girls bonding over an event involving hair. You can take my word for this. I love her.

7. AtP: We met about eight years ago online and fell in love. Well, at least I did. AtP and I have spent a great deal of time together over the last few years. I've watched him grow into adulthood and been very honored to call him my friend. I love his sense of humor, his ability to allow himself to grow and learn and accept differences. I'm very glad that when our lives diverged he still wished to remain a part of my life, and allowed me to be a part of his. I've not been able to spend a great deal of time with AtP over the past year and I miss that one-on-one time. I love him.

8. My dad: He wasn't a perfect parent, but I've always been glad he's my father. I learned more from him about loving and living honestly than from any other person. He was always delighted when I accomplished something, and terribly disappointed that I'm so incredibly bad at sports. Still, he spent every summer with my siblings and me (all eight of us), teaching us to play softball, and work-up, and never once told us we were terrible at the games. He loved playing Kick the Can, and Piggy Wants a Signal. We went camping every Memorial Day (insanity--there was always rain or snow), spent hours working on the farm, and many evenings singing as he played his guitar. He's still someone I turn to again and again for comfort and advice. I love him.

9. Tolkien Boy: Anyone who has read my blog knows I adore this man. He told me last night he wasn't adorable, but he's wrong. He stole my heart long ago and has spent time with me nearly every day since September 7, 2006. He allows me to be disagreeable and insecure and appallingly self-centered and still says he loves me. I never tire of our conversations, love to read everything he writes, and would choose a day with Tolkien Boy over a week-long vacation in the Bahamas. He encourages me when I feel too tired to keep trying, believes I will succeed when I have failed repeatedly, and when I do or say stupid things (on an average of once every three seconds), he forgives me relentlessly. I love him.

10. If you're a part of my life and I didn't mention you by name, it's not because you're less important than those listed--just less frequently with me. In truth, this list was made on the basis of how much time I've spent with individuals recently. Therefore, I challenge you to make the list next year. Come see me, call me on the phone, have an online chat with me, or send me an email. Remember that I'm incredibly blessed to have you in my life, I love spending time with you, and I think you're beautiful inside and out. I love you.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Love Lists: Day Thirteen

Types of chocolate that I love:

1. I don't necessarily love Cote d'Or chocolate, but this one makes me rapturous: 

2. I love all Lindor that do not have white chocolate, but hazelnut is exceptional:

3. There's nothing special about these. I just like them:

4. I'm not a huge fan of Ghirardelli chocolate, nor a huge fan of salt. However, this particular combination is amazing:
5. Darrin loves Ferrero Rocher. I think it's fine, but when Ferrero introduced these, they got it just right:

6. Dove Truffle chocolate is seasonal. You can get the eggs at Easter time and the hearts for Valentine's day. I suggest stocking up:

7. Cadbury Mini Eggs. That is all:

8. I like the cherry version of this. It's not my favorite, but the sensation of chili is amazing. At Christmas this year, we bought the plain chili chocolate by mistake. It sat on our counter for about a week while we halfheartedly nibbled at it. Then I paired it with pomegranate seeds. Within minutes the chocolate was gone:

9. This was my first introduction to quality chocolate. When we met, Darrin couldn't fathom that I disliked chocolate and wouldn't eat it. Then he discovered that I'd only experienced American chocolate. He brought me a Lindor bar and I was hooked. At the time, Lindt was based only in Europe and was difficult to find. Now it's U.S. based and sold in stores like Walmart and Target. I still love the chocolate:

10. Okay, Godiva chocolate is expensive, and I'm not certain it's any better that some of the less expensive brands. That being said, I've been known to drop more money that I should for one of these (Also, Godiva chocolate cheesecake is incredible):

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Love Lists: Day Twelve

Things I loved as a child:

1. Swimming
2. Dairy Queen Dilly Bars
3. Kittens
4. Climbing
5. Spinning
6. Rolling down grassy hills
7. Dancing
8. Reading
9. Bubbles
10. Singing

Monday, February 11, 2013

Love Lists: Day Eleven

Things I love to look at: 

1. Ducklings

2. Autumn leaves

3. Clouds


4. Books 

5. Tiny blue butterflies

6. Sunrises or sunsets

7. Blue flax

8. Pumpkin Patches

9. Scrabble games

10. The mountains near my childhood home

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Love Lists: Day Ten

It's been a difficult day, but I want to take a second to write today's list which is very short--not really a list at all, I suppose.

One thing I love every single day:

Waking each morning, knowing the day is new and no matter what happens, it belongs to me.

And now I'm going to bed.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Love Lists: Day Nine

Memories of my children that I love:

1. When DJ was a baby I could take him anywhere. He was sweet-tempered, cooperative, and happy most of the time. I was within a year of earning my bachelors degree when he was born. I took him with me to class as a newborn in the spring, and that continued into the fall. Even when he became mobile (he walked at eight months), I was able to take him to class with me. He would play quietly with toys, eat snacks, and scribble on paper. I had a trumpet instructor who adored him. She would hold DJ on her lap and let him play with her necklaces made of large, colorful beads during my lesson. To this day, the faculty members remember my very well-behaved baby.

2. When she was born, Tabitha weighed about five pounds and was not quite seventeen inches long.. Her legs were skinnier than my index finger and she was too small for premie clothes. I made doll clothes for her. Adam, fourteen months older than Tabitha, believed that she was his personal property. We kept Tabitha bundled into a baby swing so Adam couldn't reach her and drag her about with him. He would stand beside the swing and demand, "My baby!" Knowing Tabitha was safe, and assuming Adam had the attention span of a typical one-year-old, I went about my own business (mountains of laundry to fold, or meals to make, or cleaning up Adam's most recent disaster...). Each time I looked over to check on my children, I noticed that Adam had managed to place one of his toys on the tray of the swing. I removed each item and explained that Tabitha was too little for such things. Adam gave me a look of disbelief and continued his offerings to his sister. About fifteen minutes later, I heard him giggling and clapping and chanting something in his unintelligible toddlerese. Glancing over to see what the commotion was about, I noticed that Tabitha had awakened and had somehow managed to grasp the Batman action figure offered by her brother. Adam turned to me and pointing to Tabitha, said very clearly, "See! My baby play!" I believe that was the last intelligible thing he said for nearly fifteen more years.

3. When Tabitha was two, I became very ill for about a week. The day the illness peaked, I was unable to do anything but sleep. I tried calling Darrin or my parents to see if I could get some help with Tabitha, but no one answered. I thought I would just lie down for a moment, then try phoning them later. I explained to Tabitha that I needed my nap, and left her watching one of her favorite videos in the family room. Then I went up to our living room where the sun was streaming through the windows, grabbed a blanket and pillow and fell asleep on the couch. I woke to Tabitha's voice. I was sleeping on my side and she had lodged herself in the crook of my bent legs. She noticed my half-open eyes, smiled at me, patted my shoulder and said, "You're sick. I will read you stories." She was holding one of her books and on the arm of the couch was a pile of at least ten more. I nodded, thanked her, and went back to sleep. I have no idea how long we stayed there. I would wake periodically as Tabitha patted my shoulder, waking me to ask how I was doing. Finally, she shook me gently. She was standing in front of me. I was told my lunch was ready and she had made me soup because that's what sick people eat. There was a large stainless steel bowl on the floor. Tabitha had filled it with water, an unpeeled banana, an apple, some baby carrots, and a block of cheese.

4. DJ was fascinated with motorized objects. At seven months old, he began imitating the sound of the vacuum with a rather shocking gutteral growl. By the time he was nine months old, the sound imitation happened when I used my food mixer, when I started the car, or when I turned on the washing machine or dryer. I had become used to the alarming noise coming from my small son. One day we were the produce department of the grocery store, DJ spied a mop in a bucket standing in the corner of the store. To my surprise, he pointed and the growling commenced. I tried hushing him. I told him the mop didn't make noise. He ignored me and continued the sound. I hurried to get the fruits and vegetables on my list, avoiding the eyes of nearby shoppers. After about a minute, one of them began to titter. Her reaction spread to the customers nearest her, and within seconds everyone in the department was giggling. I was mortified. The lady next to me reached over, touched my arm and said, "That's the funniest thing I've ever heard coming from a baby. He's adorable." I expressed relief that no one was annoyed and as I exited the produce department, someone started clapping. As everyone joined in, I realized that at nine months of age, DJ was receiving his first standing ovation.

5. When Adam was four, he refused for months to ride the bicycle given him for his birthday because it had training wheels. Darrin finally removed the wheels and tried coaching Adam about balancing. Adam told him he'd watched plenty of people and he knew exactly what he was doing. So my son began running with his bicycle, and when he judged it a proper speed, he leapt onto the vehicle and began peddling as fast as he could. He made it about two feet before he fell. Adam got up and began the process again. This time when the bike began to fall, he tipped it toward the lawn next to him. Then he stood up and started again. I couldn't watch. Fifteen minutes later, Adam appeared in the living room covered in grass stains, scrapes, and bruises. He huffed up the stairs to the bathroom. I heard the shower turn on and my son stayed in there for nearly an hour. The next morning the process began again. This time Adam didn't come back for a shower for almost half an hour. Four days later, Adam had finally learned to ride that bike. I was sitting on my front step, watching him, when I was joined by a neighbor. She said, "He finally did it." I nodded. She said, "I actually wasn't sure what he was doing when he started--trying to ride the bike, or learning the best way to fall off." I answered, "That's kind of the story of Adam's life. Don't worry. We have insurance for him--accident, medical, and life."

6. Adam and Tabitha became Looney Tunes fans at a very early age. I didn't mind because I watched the cartoons as a child and still loved them as an adult. My children found the scenes in which one character made another sneeze simply by putting pepper near their nose, particularly funny. One day I was in the kitchen making lunch for my chlldren when I heard Tabitha screaming. Adam's screams followed within seconds. I made it to the door of the kitchen in time to see them running out of Tabitha's bedroom, blood streaming from their noses. My alarm turned briefly to aggravation, and then to giggles, when I found out they had put pepper up each other's noses to see if it would make them sneeze. Adam said, as I handed the tissue box to him and instructed them both to clean themselves up, "It's not funny, Mom. You're supposed to kiss us better." I did kiss them better, but I didn't stop laughing.

7. From the time they were old enough to sit in the kitchen and watch, I have taught my children about cooking. They went from simply learning to add pasta to boiling water, judging when the pasta was cooked, and topping it with jarred sauce, to learning how to make a complete meal including dessert. This was always done with my help and presence, but when they turned nine and could read a recipe, they were allowed to make their first solo batch of chocolate chip cookies. DJ's were moderately successful but he had forgotten the eggs, so we had chocolate chip shortbread--still very good. Adam, naturally, decided to improve upon the recipe. He added two tablespoons of water (because he was certain he'd seen his great-grandmother do that) to the basic dough, and then some corn starch (to make the batter less runny) and then some corn syrup (just because) and then some milk (because milk is good with cookies) and then some rice crispies (because he likes them). The cookies were tough and weird and incredibly sweet. I suggested that sometimes it's okay to follow the recipe. His answer, "You never do. You don't even use a recipe." As that is true, I told him when we were both the same age, that would be a good time for him to stop following a recipe exactly (no, he didn't listen to me). Tabitha, on the other hand, who has often managed to observe her brother's mistakes and avoid them, made a perfect batch of cookies. She has continued that habit, and is allowed to make chocolate chip cookies weekly for the young ladies and home parents she lives with in the care center. She does not use a recipe.

8. On their birthdays my children are allowed to choose their favorite meal. They go shopping for the ingredients with me and help with preparation--it's our one on one time which is just as important as the meal. They also get to choose one gift within a given price range. When Adam was nine, we were shopping for the food and I asked him what he would like for his gift. He answered, "I can have anything?" I reminded him of the price range and, knowing my son, told him weapons and poisons were off the list. He said, "Please don't laugh, but I know exactly what I want." I promised not to laugh (not easy for me). Adam walked over to a display of flowers, selected a dozen orange roses, and returned to me. He said, "I want these." I didn't laugh. I bought the roses and that was the beginning of my tradition to buy flowers for my children on their birthdays. They've asked me to do so every year. Even after moving out, DJ still requests flowers, but he leaves them with me. He's pretty sure his roommates just won't understand.

9. When DJ was five he told told us while at dinner one evening that he planned to marry me when he grew up. Without thinking, I responded that he couldn't marry me. My son's lip began to quiver as he said, "But I love you. I want to marry you and live with you always." Realizing there was a tender heart at stake, I tried to tell him that I'd be an old lady then. In disbelief he said, "You're not going to get old. And anyway, I won't care if you are. I'll still love you." I tried to explain that he'd find a beautiful young lady he would want to be with forever, and I'd be happy because when they got married, she would be my new daughter. DJ said, "That's just weird. You already have a daughter." Finally Darrin dropped the bomb by saying, "Your can't marry Mom. She's already married to me." With a look of complete betrayal, and hurt pulsating through his voice, DJ turned on me, "Why didn't you tell me?" he asked, and, weeping, he ran to his bedroom. Nonplussed, I looked at Darrin, "Now what do we do?" Darrin was unhelpful as he informed me that he had no idea. DJ didn't speak to Darrin for nearly a week. I was forgiven when I promised that, should Darrin and I get divorced, when DJ grew up, if he still wanted me to, I might consider marrying him. Darrin mutterred something about Oedipus. I was just glad DJ wasn't moping anymore. A few days later my son informed me I was off the hook. He was in love with, and would marry, Julie (our neighbor's little girl) because she had a pink Barbie car and she let him drive it.

10. There is no memory sweeter than reading to my children every night and tucking them into bed. DJ decided he was too old for bedtime stories when he was eight, but when I read to Tabitha and Adam, DJ would slip into the room and lie on the floor, pretending to read his book while he listened to the story. I believe I tucked them all in, hugged and kissed them every night, until they entered junior high. At that point the hugs and kisses happened after nightly family prayer, but sometimes I still walked up to their rooms with them, chatted with them briefly, and made sure they had what they needed before leaving them to sleep. I have been known to sit quietly, watching them sleep as infants and children, and even now, when they're in their teens and slightly older, I feel an impulse to touch their hair or cuddle them just for a moment when I see them napping on the couch. They would be very unhappy I disturbed their sleep if I gave in to such an impulse. But I'm so very glad these amazing people came to spend their infancy, childhood, and teen years with me. I'm hoping when they're older, they'll always know they have a place in my home and in my heart.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Love Lists: Day Eight

Memories I love:

1. Laughter. I used to have a best friend in high school whose laugh was loud and obnoxious. I would purposely wait until we were behind a group of people (preferably the cool people who couldn't be bothered to notice if I was alive--this was high school, after all), then I would say something that would catch him off guard and make him laugh. He would glare at me when he regained composure and remind me that a REAL friend wouldn't do that. He was right, of course, but that didn't stop me from continuing the habit when I met AtP, whose laugh is similarly, delightfully loud.

2. Huckleberries. They grow wild in the mountains behind my childhood home. We would gather them in the summertime. Our dog would lie down in a patch and eat them from the surrounding bushes. Once I encountered a black bear stripping the bushes of leaves and berries. It looked at me. I looked back. Then it fled. I was relieved beyond measure.

3. Driving a tractor. My father taught me when I was almost ten. My first job was to level a plowed field. I would level the upturned soil, row by row, making side by side loops in the corners so none of the ground was left unsmoothed. Later I graduated to plowing, discing, and drilling the seeds. I don't remember ever being bored by the solitude. It was alone time I adored.

4. Kittens. My father allowed us to have a large number of cats. They kept the rodent population under control and made wonderful pets. Litters of kittens were celebrated. We gave some of them away to neighboring farms, but kept many. I always chose the black ones, however one year we had a litter of tabby kittens and one had a mark on her head that looked like the infinity symbol. Her coloring was unusual, too, made up almost exclusively of bright gold and deep black. I taught her to fetch, and she would leap onto my shoulder and sit there. She was definitely my favorite.

5. Roommates. I had some amazing ones. We were all on academic scholarships, but you'd never know it if you spent time with us. We were quirky, and funny, and adorable. Our home evening brothers spent more time in our apartment than in their own even after they found out that we had made a pact never to date them. We made up imaginary poltergeists, created Marshmallow Art, and tried to have sleepovers in the park (dumb police person who foiled our plans--apparently there is a curfew or city ordinance against it, or something else equally stupid). I miss those girls.

6. Hay harvest. If you've ever actually done this, you know it's actually pretty awful. The hay creates a fine dust that gets everywhere, but is especially irritating in the nose and lungs. It finds its way inside clothing, lodging and chafing in the creases. The days are hot and dry and the work is incredibly fatiguing--at least the way we did it. We were unable to afford the labor-saving equipment that would bale and stack the hay simply by using a tractor and some levers. Instead, we baled the hay in rows and stacked the bales by hand as they came up an elevator attached to a bale truck--which we then drove to the hay shed where we would unload the bales onto a larger elevator, and send them into the shed where they were again stacked by hand. Why did I love this? To this day I'm not sure. I think it had something to do with working as a group, loving the warmth and sunlight, feeling lost in the blue sky, and knowing at the end of the day I would be able to shower all the hay dust off me and sleep soundly because I was completely exhausted.

7. Peonies, daisies, tiger lilies, lilacs, and columbines. All my life I have wanted a flower garden. My mother would never allow it, telling me we needed all our garden space for fruits and vegetables. I still tried to plant flowers in places I thought she wouldn't notice. They never grew. When I was ten, my grandparents built a new home and we moved into their old one. Grandma adored flowers. She had planted peonies near the front of the yard, daisies and tiger lilies on one side of the house, and columbines near the front porch. Two large lilac bushes graced the south side of the yard. For the first time, I had flowers. My mother never tended them, and our dog used to lie in the daisy patch, but I was in heaven. Throughout spring and summer, I used every glass and jar I could find, filling them with blooms and placing them on every flat surface in our home. My mother complained that they aggravated her allergies, which is probably true. I chose not to notice. Those flowers still bloom today near the house no one lives in anymore.

8. Photographs. When I was a child, we had a cardboard cube about six inches tall, in which we kept current or favorite photos. I would systematically flip through them at least once weekly. If a visitor was unlucky enough to be cornered by me, they were pressed to look at each picture and hear the accompanying story. Regardless of how many times I had seen them, I giggled at the funny ones, and melted when I saw the beautiful or adorable ones. I had to talk quickly because at the first lull in my narration, my spectator would escape. I've never lost that love of looking at photographs and hearing the stories behind them. During one of my visits, Tolkien Boy surprised me by pulling out a photo album and sharing his past with me. I'm certain he had no idea that he was giving me a beautiful gift, as this time I was the guest chosen to see the photos and hear the memories. I was allowed to linger over each picture and ask questions, and I enjoyed every part of that moment.

9. Potatoes. I've always been fascinated by how they grow. When I was small my parents had to watch me carefully so I wouldn't pick the blossoms. Because of the dirt and digging, my sisters hated harvesting them but it always felt like a huge surprise to me. One never knew how many, or how large, or what color the potatoes would be. I loved gathering and cleaning them. My grandma would always ask for my help when she dug the tiny new potatoes so that the the others would grow very large. Then she would shell fresh peas, scrub some tiny carrots, steam them with the potatoes, and add fresh cream and simmer until the sauce was thick. I've made creamed peas and potatoes since then, but they never taste the same. Darrin believes it's because I don't always grow the vegetables myself, but I think I'm just missing the right company. There are days when I would give a great deal to have a simple meal with that grandma again.

10. Lambkins. We didn't raise sheep on our farm, but occasionally we bought bum lambs (Sometimes ewes refuse to allow their lambs to nurse--especially, as often occurs in lambing, when there are twins born to her. When that happens, the abandoned lamb is called a "bum lamb" and must be bottle fed and kept separate from the rest of the sheep.), raised and slaughtered them for meat. I always became far too attached to the animals and my father would not allow me to help with their feeding or care. One year, however, we got a lamb that immediately bonded with me. I named him Lambkins. My mother would remind me not to think of him as a pet, as soon he would be lamb chops. I ignored her.

Lambkins was somehow able to get out of every pen we put him in. Eventually, my father allowed him to roam freely about our farm. Lambkins took up residence on the front lawn (which he kept neatly mowed, but was not nearly as nice about cleaning up the droppings he left behind), followed me everywhere, and adopted our dog, John, as his surrogate mother. Lamkins soon forgot all about me as he began to imitate our dog. He tried to herd cattle with John (much to the poor dog's distress--the cattle would scatter everywhere when the lamb began chasing them, rather than heading for the milk barn as John intended). We had to hide the dog food to keep the lamb from eating it. John was fed in a secret place while someone distracted Lambkins. Our dog took on a look of pained long-suffering.

When we drove into the fields in the pick-up truck, the kids rode in the back. John would jump over the side or closed tailgate of the truck and join us in the truck bed. One day, following John as usual, the almost adult Lambkins made his first attempt at leaping into the truck. We heard his body slam into the side and assumed he wouldn't try again. To our surprise the lamb slammed itself repeatedly into the side of the truck, trying to sail over the edge to where his unconcerned surrogate mother sat. Finally, my father took pity on the animal, lowered the tailgate and lifted Lambkins into the truck where the lamb trotted over to our dog and leaned adoringly against him while John whimpered miserably. As he got back into the cab of the truck, I heard my father mutter something about needing to make a meal of that animal. I remember thinking that it might be time. Poor John was having a nervous breakdown.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Love Lists: Day Six

Public places I love to visit:

1. Tourist traps. I always feel that if people go there over and over again, there must be something I should see at least once. Even if I don't enjoy the item of interest or geological location, it's fun to watch the visitors. Sometimes I talk with them, find out where they're from and why they came. And I like to see which souvenirs they buy.

2. Cathedrals. I'm a sucker for stained glass and carved wood. When I visit I can't stop thinking about the history of the building, how it was constructed without modern means, and how that construction probably required many years. And every cathedral has heaps of irresistible stories and legends. If the option is available, I always light a candle for my aunt because it makes her happy.

3. Ghost towns. I'm not talking about ones the historical society has saved, so there are restored buildings and tiny museums and guided tours. I'm talking about the towns that have been abandoned and remain in that state. There is nothing, really, to see or do, but I like thinking about how this used to be a place with people and stores and life. I wonder how the last residents felt about living there and I wonder how long the empty buildings will stand.

4. Museums. All kinds. I don't mind going with other people, but only if they allow me to ignore them. I don't want to wonder if they're being entertained or if we're staying too long. Going to museums is all about me. If I'm with someone who feels the same way, I'm fine if we discuss exhibits or share points of interest. And I definitely want to compare notes on the way home. But if you have a short attention span or constantly need conversation or are uncomfortable with silence or solitude--don't go to a museum with me.

5. Book stores. I try not to go to these places unless I have a huge block of time. And I turn my phone off or leave it in the car. Usually I purchase only a couple of books but it might take me four hours to decide which ones I want. When no one's looking, I escape to the children's section to discover new stories and illustrations that are clever, or colorful, or humorous, or beautiful--or any combination of those--but always delightful.

6. Tiny city parks forgotten by nearly everyone. There is one about two miles from my home. When I could still run it was my midway point. Two corners of the park are outlined in large, flat rocks, about two feet in height. Sometimes I would take a break from running, sit on the sun-warmed rocks and enjoy the trees, green grass, light breeze, and solitude. Occasionally a few children would be playing on the playground far enough away that I was not disturbed, but near enough for me to hear the sounds of their voices.

7. Libraries. For as long as I can remember, a library has been my favorite place. The year after my cousin raped me, the school library became my safe haven. I couldn't manage the social structure of junior high and I seemed to have lost my ability to make friends. I stopped eating after the first two weeks of the school year and spent my lunch hours reading in a corner of the library. After about three weeks, the librarian noticed I'd taken up residence there and that I was becoming increasingly thin. She would come talk to me, ask if there was anything I needed. Eventually I became too ill to go to school. Part of what gave me reason to start eating again was knowing there were still books to read (which sounds silly, I know, but we all have our reasons for living). A couple of months later, when I returned to school, that librarian was waiting for me. She said she missed me and gave me a hug. I remember wondering why she would do that. She also gave me permission to eat lunch in the library if I didn't tell anyone.

8. Court houses and capitol buildings. I love the architecture and history and the way voices echo in the main hall. Most have large marble staircases and alcoves with wood carved edges which have a name I do not know. I love looking around, reading about the buildings, and for reasons that escape me, I'm always very glad to leave. I think it might be because of the persistent dimness inside.

9. Amusement parks. I'm a roller coaster girl. And I love the cheesy haunted house rides. And even though I never buy them, there's something wonderful about corn dogs, and cotton candy, and funnel cakes. I avoid the water rides and adore the spinny ones. I don't leave without riding the merry-go-round and the ferris wheel because they remind me of when my dad used to take me on them as a child.

10. Farmers Markets. Part of my interest in these stems from the fact that they are not permanent structures, they're outside, and most of the people who come look very happy to be there. Perpetual purchases include mushrooms, homemade salsa (with way too much garlic), peaches, squash, and fresh pastries from the Austrian baker.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Love Lists: Day Five

Piano works I love to play:

Just for the record, some of these are of a difficulty level that I have to practice a great deal to get them close to where they were when I performed them, so if you're with me and we're near a piano, don't think I can just sit down and play them. While I would love to have that kind of retention, I don't, and after I received my last performance degree I stopped practicing four to six hours daily. However, when I performed these pieces I never grew tired of them, and when it takes months to prepare a piece for performance, that's saying quite a bit.

Also, just because I love playing a piece doesn't necessarily mean I love listening to it. No--I can't explain that. I've tried to link to a quality performance of each piece.

1. Prokofiev, Toccata op. 11

2. Debussy, Reflets dans l'eau

3. Debussy, Mouvement

4. Gershwin, Three Preludes

5. Chopin, Ballade

6. Bartok, Six Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm, VI

7. Beethoven, Sonata in C Minor, op. 111

8. Brahms, Zwei Rhapsodien, op. 79

9. Bach, Partita No. 1 in B-flat Major

10.  Liszt, Mephisto Waltz, No. 1

Monday, February 4, 2013

Love Lists: Day Four

Things I love to avoid at all costs:

1. Construction sites. I don't find them fascinating, I'm not interested in what the finished product will look like, I'm not happy that something new is being built. I just want to go back home and hide under my covers until the thing is built, at which point I'll be very happy to look at it.

2. Your latest remodeling project. This is related to construction sites. Please don't show me the work in progress or tell me about it. I don't want to hear about deadlines or backorders or over-the-budget contractors. However, if I love you enough I will listen, but at that point you'll need to acknowledge that our love has exceeded the bounds of friendship and ascended beyond that of lovers. Just let me know when your remodel is done and I'm happy to ooh and aah the finished product. If pressed, I'll even view "Before" and "After" photos without becoming nauseated.

3. Big hunks of meat. Any kind. I don't want to touch them, see them, or smell them. A large steak does not make me drool. I was raised on a farm. I probably met the animal from which the meat came. I don't want to have anything to do with it. However, I am not a strict vegetarian. I will eat fish and seafood. I'll eat the white meat of chicken. Occasionally we include beef and pork in our diet, as long as I don't have to handle larger pieces. Sadly, I have passed this dislike of meat on to Tabitha and Adam.

4. Crowds. This might have something to do with the fact that when large groups of people are standing together, I'm probably shorter than most of them and cannot see beyond the people surrounding me. I'm a very bad concert date. Quite honestly, I would rather miss something amazing and read about it later, than stand with bunches of people waiting to see it in person. Probably when Christ comes again, I'll be the one staying home, praying, "Thank you for coming. I'm sorry I missed it. I just have difficulty with all your children."

5. Garage Sales. Don't get me wrong--I think they're great ideas and I've attended them and purchased my share of used items. But they scare me. People I've known forever display parts of their personal lives I don't want to know about, and perfect strangers become far too familiar by means of the things they wish to sell. And it doesn't matter if I know the person or not, whatever I end up buying is scrubbed and washed millions of times before I allow its use. All I can think of is the fact that it's been used before, when the truth is, it's probably a great deal cleaner than anything I could buy at Walmart.

6. Interior decorating. I'll be honest, I find walls with nothing adorning them rather soothing. Each time we've moved, Darrin has been the one to place pictures and decorative items. One of my students presented me last year with a very large painting for my studio. It's lovely and I like it a lot--I just don't know what to do with it. Hence, it still rests against one of my studio walls, as yet unhung.

7. Shirt tags. Even the printed ones can bother my skin. I've been known, in the evening when I'm relaxing, to put on sweats and an inside-out t-shirt because the tag bothers the back of my neck. My kids are used to this now, but Darrin will invariably mention that my shirt is inside-out. I used to remind him why I wear it that way. Now I just say, "How about that!"

8. Adult-sized socks. This limits my selection a bit, but women's socks are always too large and the heel part lands just below my calf. This would be okay if I were a tiny person upon whom tiny feet looked appropriate. But I'm not. I'm a smallish person whose feet look ridiculous. I've been known to purchase shoes a size or two larger so people won't notice quite as much. But too-large socks make me crazy. They twist and bunch up and look silly with the heel part sticking out of the back of my shoe. So if my socks appear a tad less mature than I do--well, now you know why.

9. Makeup. I know it's socially appropriate for a woman to use that stuff to appear more beautiful, more colorful, more healthy, younger... I don't know how other women do it. Who has time? Who can manage to go through a day without smearing it or wiping it off? And it's EXPENSIVE! I suppose some women can buy the bargain stuff, but I always end up allergic to it. And, let's face it, I'm skill-less when it comes to application. Do I wear it? Occasionally, if I feel there is some reason to warrant it. But most of the time I only wear it if I'm performing onstage, and I usually wear it to church because I'm ready hours before Darrin and I have to kill time. And I'm pretty sure no one at church cares if my makeup looks stupid.

10. Emotions and relationships that confuse me. And who doesn't want to avoid these things? But I suppose what might make me different is that I've been known to talk about this to the point of aggravation. I can't seem to stop worrying the topic. Emotions are difficult, but if I'm in any kind of relationship which doesn't make sense to me, the other party will probably hear about it. The compulsion to figure things out is one that overwhelms me. I am powerless to stop talking about my confusion. And if I try, the result is that I simply stop talking. Forever. I suppose it's a "Love me or leave me" situation, although I've yet to figure out if that applies to me or to the other person.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Love Lists: Day Three

Desserts I love:

1. Double Chocolate Almond Biscotti 

2. Chocolate Chip Cookies  (I prefer mine with walnuts and/or oatmeal)

3. Strawberry Truffle Cake

4. Frosted Ginger Creams

5. Nutella Cheesecake

6. Pots de Creme With Berries

7. Lemon Pudding Cake

8. Fruit Pizza

9. Chocolate Walnut Brownies

10. Creamy Amaretto Rice Pudding with Raspberry Sauce

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Love Lists: Day Two

Poems I love:

1. Shakespeare's 29th Sonnet. I know. Who doesn't love this sonnet. But I've often felt as the narrator feels, and I also wish to be the one who can bring joy to one who sorrows, simply because I love with my whole soul--no strings attached. This sonnet speaks to my heart.

2. Longfellow's The Children's Hour. I memorized this poem when I was ten. I don't know why. But even though a father, or perhaps a grandfather, narrates the story, this poem captures moments of beauty and joy felt by both children and parents. I smile until the last three stanzas, at which point, I cry a tiny bit.

3. Sara Coleridge's The Garden  Year. This poem also goes by the title, "The Months." When I was very small we had a large book of poetry with beautiful illustrations by an artist whose name I can't remember. My mother loved poetry. She read to us from the book regularly and from her we learned to love poetry, as well. I remember her allowing us to discuss and linger over the pictures. She would talk about rhyming schemes and why some poems don't rhyme at all. When I worked on integration a few years ago, this was a memory I was willing and able to claim. And one night, instead of with nightmares, my mother's voice filled my sleep as she read to me from that book and when this poem was read, I chanted the words with her.

4. Sandburg's To a Contemporary Bunkshooter. I'm not an avid fan of Sandburg's works, but this particular poem speaks to me. It was leveled at Billy Sunday, whose preaching, to Sandburg, seemed self-righteous and judgmental, and often included staged anger and attention begging stunts. When I encountered the poem, however, my thoughts turned inward. How many times do I make judgments that are not Christlike in nature? Do I assume people are wrong simply because their beliefs do not tally with my own? Would Jesus Christ condone my behaviors that exclude or harm others? In that moment I made a conscious decision to try to love and value people in any condition. I'm not great at this skill, but I'm not dead yet either. I keep trying daily and maybe someday I'll get it right.

5. An excerpt from Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway. I've done this many times with Woolf's writing but I thought I was the only one. I used to write it out longhand, add line breaks and stanzas, and breathe in the cadence and beauty of this woman's words. When I found a fellow blogger who had done the same type of thing, I decided it was legitimate for me to feel the poetry in Virginia's writing. Granted, only two people (that I know of) have done this, but I think that's enough. And this particular excerpt is incredibly lovely.

6. Robert Frost's Home Burial. I discovered this poem as a youth shortly after some friends lost their five-year-old daughter to Reye's syndrome. I was their chief babysitter and I loved that little girl, but I was fascinated as I watched the rift that formed between the parents who had previously seemed incredibly in love and when I encountered the poem, somehow the stress felt by that couple made sense to me. There was no parallel between their emotional battle and the story line of the poem, so I'm unsure why I made the connection. As an older teen, I loved the way Frost was able to express pain and suffering in the misunderstanding and distance between two people who once loved each other, and I love that most of the poem is dialogue. That doesn't happen often, and rarely effectively.

7. Dorothy Parker's ThrenodyOkay--the truth is, I love all her poetry. I'm stunned by her...everything. And I'm probably a little bit, well, a whole lot, in love with her. However, Threnody was my first discovery simply because I adored the word and had no idea what it meant. When I read the poem (after looking up the word), my world became a treasure hunt for more poetry and writing by the adorable Dorothy. She was my first huge infatuation. It was also at that point that I decided I needed to choose people who aren't dead with whom to fall in love.

8. Seuss's What Was I Scared Of? If you click on the link it WILL NOT take you to the entitled story poem which was definitely one of my childhood favorites. I felt deliciously frightened by the body-less pants and loved the ridiculously brief scary episodes and their accompanying drawings. I was relieved by the ending, as a three-year-old should always be. However, finding an online copy of the story seems impossible, so for your reading pleasure, I present instead one of Dr. Seuss's out-of-print stories (pictorial, not poetic) intended for adults. Enjoy!

9. Lisa Zaran's Subtraction Flower. This, as does all her poetry, speaks to the feminist in me and gets me all riled up for about thirty seconds. Then I'm distracted again. I am a poor, poor feminist. But I could read her poems forever. I love her voice. When I discovered Zaran's poetry I though, "Oh my goodness! I need to meet her!" I know I won't, but that's okay as long as she keeps writing.

10. This last is, I believe, unpublished. Danny Nelson sent it to me nearly five years ago. I'm mystified at how some poems speak to one person while another turns away untouched, but this one left me feeling as though someone wrote words I have imagined about something I have never experienced. I can't really explain it. Danny has written many poems I love, a few (not this one) were written for me, and sometimes I have to remember that I love him because he's wonderful, not just because I want to read what he writes. However, today this is the poem which inexplicably speaks to me. And so I am sharing it with you:

The View from Bellevue, April 2007

Rome disappoints me still; but I shrink and adapt myself to it.
                -Arthur Hugh Clough, “Amours de Voyage”

The silver city sits heavy on shifting sands,
creaking on its splayed steel spines,
cut by a cold, coarse ocean.
Mouldering ports line its edges in tatters,
dirty lace stitched about the urban chin.

The rain. Spikenard sheets of shrouding swathe
and sweep against the sweating skyscrapers.
Their faces are old flesh, water-poxed:
worms writhe below on brackening cement.

My friend. He has a horse’s face,
large and leafish eyes, and
two adder-puffs of his father’s jowls.
He lays a heavy hand across my neck,
calls me sad.


The mountains wring their cloudy handfuls,
water from cirrus slate. Gullies green up
reeking with life-drown.

I take a misty breath, silver and sere,
and say: Yes—

But the rain is very beautiful.