Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year!


Thursday, December 29, 2011

I resolve

I made a few resolutions for 2011. Looking back on the list - I didn't do half bad. I did get paid to write/blog (OK - not a lot,  but I cleverly didn't assign a dollar figure to my goal). I went to the gym more, ate less chocolate - though I still have a ways to go in my quest to make healthier choices.

I did eventually get through that mail, and as I type this, my desk is mail-free (go me!). I had money for Christmas that kept me out of debt.

I attended several seminars and non-insurance-related meetings, to educate myself in a new social media endeavor.

Not too shabby, if I do say so myself. Since I'm on a roll, this year, I resolve:

- To leave Sephora at least once without spending more than $100.

- To drink tart cherry juice at least once a day. Studies show it helps arthritis pain in the knees - and I have plenty of that!

- Go to the gym at least 3 times a week.

- Add one client. I need to start making my part-time gig a full-time gig, in case I lose my job.

- Use Ebay to sell my Barbie collection, and purge all the non-essentials from my spare room. Part of this little project will be the community garage sale in May. Assuming I still live in my current neighborhood. Speaking of..

- Sell my house. Seems like it might be time.

One things for sure...2012 won't be boring. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

No Words Wednesday: Faith, Hope, Love

Hoping you found a little faith, hope
and love under your tree, too.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

One day at a time

"The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time." Abraham Lincoln

If someone told me a year ago that I would be this happy at the end of 2011 - I would have thought him crazy. The truth is, sometimes life is like that - it gets really, really dark, just before the light breaks.

It happened after my divorce, too. I never thought things could be good again - and I certainly never believed I'd be happier. Then someone gave me a print with Lincoln's quote - and I found hope I never thought possible.

There's a lot of hope, and faith, in that statement. Having faith in the future gives us hope that things can, and will, change for the better. You just have to be willing to open yourself up to the possibility that something good is right around the corner. You have to accept that it might not happen exactly how or when you expect.

Find hope in the fact that, even though things might be bad now - you just never know what might happen next. If you aren't happy, believe that you can, and will, be in the future. Trust that the world will give you what you need, and put you on the path where you belong.

Now, when things are looking bad, I remind myself of where I've been - and where I am. I think about how, at one point, I never thought things could be okay again - and how now, they're better than ever. When I look at it that way - I'm filled with more peace and hope than I ever thought was possible.

Tomorrow may just be the best day of your life - you just have to get there.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Airing of grievances

I feel like I've been shopping forever. Honestly, I can't remember the last time I didn't stop at Target at least once a day, and according to Foursquare, I've been to a mall at least once a week, every week, for the last month.

I love to shop - but when there's this much of it to do, it can get a little frustrating. Especially since people, in general, get less and less happy, and polite, as crunch time approaches.

Since today is Festivus - a holiday for the rest of us - I thought I'd air some of my shopping grievances.

- When I have a basket, instead of a cart, I need to empty its contents, then place the empty basket in that pile at the beginning of the counter. If you get thisclose to me, you're blocking my way. Why? You can see I have a basket, and you know what happens next. Back off, bub.

* Speaking of backing off...when we approach a door that pulls open, if you get so close to me that you're practically slamming me against the door, I can't open it. Back up. Sheesh.

~  And while we're on that subject - once I've opened the door, don't grab it from me. I'm holding onto it; you're messing with my balance. Why don't you just knock me over while you're at it?

- Hey you, who just left your cart in the middle of the parking lot - the corral is right there. I bet you also complain when your car gets dinged, or there aren't any carts in the store when you need one, huh?

* Stop talking on the phone when you're at the check-out. It's rude to the cashier, the other people in line, and the person on the other end of your call. Talking about the ugly sweater your coworker wore to the office party can totally wait the three minutes it will take to complete this transaction.

Okay....that's all I got. Feel free to add yours below.

Happy Festivus!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dear Santa...

I've heard that some people think there comes a point where we're too old to make a list for Santa. To that, I say - no FREAKING way.

OK, if you don't want to ask for toys, or even sit on a stranger's lap to make the request, I guess I can see that point. But no Christmas wishes? Next you'll want me to stop wishing on stars, birthday candles and eyelashes.

What kind of world is that?!

Besides, I gotta say, other than the shoes (for which the link no longer works, by the way), Santa totally hooked me up on last year's list. Did everything show up exactly as I pictured? No. But sometimes Santa, like God, gives us what we need, when we need it - not necessarily what we think we want.

Point is - I couldn't be happier this Christmas, and since I got my wishes from last year, I'm going to go ahead and make some wishes again this year. Humor me.

- A new TV. Mine has a 15" screen, which was fine for a second TV, but doesn't make as good a main TV. I'd really like one that has a wifi card built-in; and if it's not too much trouble, a built-in DVD player wouldn't be the worst thing, either.

- The gloves that allow you to use the touchscreen on a smart phone. I got the phone I asked for last year, and I use it all the time. And now my fingers are cold.

- A fun date for New Year's Eve. It doesn't have to be fancy; so long as I'm with the right person.

- Health and happiness for my friends and family. OK - this is straight from last year's list. But some are still going through a rough time, and I still want them to be happy, and healthy. Please and thank you.

- A new client. You found me brought me helped me create a new job for myself. Now I need to turn it into a full time gig.

- Yankee tickets. These are never easy to come by, so I'm putting in my order early.

- Some extra will power on the whole diet and fitness project. Turns out, I may have to wear a swim suit...on a beach...in front of people this year. Help!


That should do it for me, Santa. Oh - and if you could hook up anyone who leaves their list below, that'd be great, too.

I'll leave the milk and cookies in the kitchen as usual. Try not to step on the cats when you're passing through.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Discovering Christmas

I have no idea how it happened, but somehow, The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas has escaped my Christmas specials radar all these years. It makes no sense; it was made in 1973 - so I should have been watching it all along.

Thankfully, someone introduced me to it this weekend.

The bears are all supposed to begin hibernation at half past December, but that means they'll miss Christmas - again! Theodore E. Bear (Get it?) doesn't want to miss it this year. Instead of going to sleep, he stays awake and goes in search of Christmas.

Ted gets to the big city and who should he bump into? Santa, who explains:

Christmas is a very important thing to discover - but you won't find it on a map. It's inside yourself. 
You see, Christmas isn't a place or a thing, or even a time. It's something you carry around in your heart; a way of acting towards others, a way of feeling about the world. Christmas is a way of giving.

I used to get caught up in the "stuff" surrounding Christmas. I let obligations and responsibilities ruin what the season should really be about. Spending my first Christmas solo several years ago, that point was driven home; it's a lesson I won't soon forget.

This Christmas is different; I'm getting a chance to really experience the holiday as it should be - not crazy shopping (though I'm doing my share of that), over-spending, running all over to please others, or killing myself with decorations.

I'm spending my holiday enjoying the people most important to me - and cherishing the time we have together.

I'm discovering Christmas.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The look of love

I was with my favorite people over the weekend. I got wonderful presents - but more importantly, I spent some time catching up with my cousin, while she and I shopped in our favorite store.

The only thing better was giving her son his Christmas present - something he'd specifically told Santa he really wanted. I spoke to Santa a couple of weeks ago, and he assured me that he had plenty for my cousin to open on Christmas morning, and if I wanted to give him this gift, I would definitely not be raining on Santa's parade.

I got the biggest smile, and the biggest hug, for giving this present. Don't get me wrong - I love to receive presents. But there's a lot to be said for the joy you feel when you give a present that someone really wanted.

It fills me with love - and reminds me what Christmas - and Santa - are really all about.

It also reminded me of this post from last year. Thought I'd share.

Remember - if you don't believe, you don't receive.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Love your body

"The point of our site is body acceptance, and stopping the cycle of body hate teens and women feel, largely because of media and ad campaigns."

That's from a comment Brittany from Curvy Girl Guide made in response to Amanda Talar's post about an article that appeared on CGG on December 12.

In a nutshell, the article takes issue with a Victoria's Secret campaign titled "I love my body" and the recent fashion show, which the company shows annually.

Amanda makes some very valid points - including that the article could be seen as a curvy girl tearing down the skinny girls. I didn't read it that way, but it doesn't mean that someone else might not. While I was in complete support of the article at first, the idea that it comes across as judgmental does make me stop and think.

If the focus is purely on how media influences body image, then I get it. The article doesn't look at the women individually, but the campaign as a whole, and to me that's understandable. That's how I took it; as a commentary on the campaign. The VS message is about what's sexy, and since all the women in the ads fit a certain mold, the message is that is sexy - and nothing else.

I take issue with that message, and I applaud a site like CGG for doing what they can to show an alternative to women and young girls. Why? Because I grew up a "curvy" girl. I've struggled with my weight my whole life, and was made fun of horribly as a child. So much so that at 13, I considered ending my life because a classmate called me "fat and worthless."

There were no Curvy Girl Guides then; hell, there weren't even plus-size stores. I had two choices - be thin, or feel bad about myself. So to me, the mission to improve body images, particularly in young girls, and give them a place to go where they can feel good about themselves, is a noble one.

However - I don't agree that it's ever okay for women to tear each other down. I'm so used to the idea that people are made fun of for being overweight, I suppose it doesn't occur to me that people are also made fun of for being underweight. But just because I haven't experienced it doesn't mean it doesn't happen. It also doesn't make it any less hurtful than things people have said to me.

I support the message that we should love ourselves, and our bodies, no matter what; I don't support the idea that self-esteem comes from tearing someone else down. Ever.

Personally, I also don't think the media is the problem. Well - not the source of the problem, anyway. The message that thin is beautiful is popular, and the media uses that to sell. Why? Because that's what we buy. Is that the media's fault? No - they take their cues from us.

So whose fault is it if Victoria's Secret's ads make me feel bad about myself? Since I'm a grown-up - I guess it's mine. What about a young girl? That's different. She should be learning positive body image, and how to build her own self-esteem, so that when she's a grown-up, VS doesn't make her feel bad.

I guess the idea behind the CGG mission is that the media has a responsibility to encourage that positive body-image, and promote  self-esteem. I can see that point - I just don't necessarily agree.

Does the media influence hurtful opinions and words, like the ones from my classmate? Maybe. But the media doesn't determine what people find appealing. Maybe the media sends the message that it's okay to judge others for not meeting certain criteria. Maybe it influences how women's bodies are viewed. But people are entitled to their opinion, and the media its message.

Yes, it would be great if the media supported all things positive - but that's not reality. In the end, what matters is each person taking control of her own self-esteem, and finding a positive way to share her own message. I think the focus should be on teaching women and teens how to love themselves, learn to do what's right for their own bodies, and not worry about what other people, or the media, seem to think.

The focus should be on learning to manage the message, not control it. Because in the end, all we really control is our own reaction, anyway.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A reason to celebrate

You can't choose your family. 

I remind myself of this fact every time my family disappoints me. That actually happens a lot - I'm quite different from most of my relatives, especially when it comes to political, social, religious or economic views. You know - life. 

When you don't always see eye to eye with people, you don't always like them. That's true of family, friends, coworkers - anyone. But even when I don't like my family - I still love them. Especially those with whom I'm very close.

My Uncle has been part of my life since the day I was born. He's my God-Father, my Dad's closest friend and relative, and was even X's Best Man in our wedding. He's always been there for me. 

Earlier this year, he was quite sick - like, in the hospital-for-several-months sick. More than once, we wondered not when, but if, he would come home. He did a complete 180 after being unconscious for almost 2 weeks; everyone was impressed with his turn-around and improvement. 

We were just relieved. 

I pride myself on knowing how to cherish my relationships, and how lucky I am to have them. But I don't think anyone realizes how much a person means until you come thisclose to losing him. 

This year, when I sat down to Thanksgiving dinner, I think it was the first time in my life when I fully understood what it means to be thankful for something. Of course, I've been grateful, and realized how lucky I am. I have good friends and family, a lot of laughter and smiles, and the "stuff" I really like. I know how it feels to hit rock-bottom, and come back stronger. So of course I've been thankful before. 

But this year, it was different. I felt truly blessed to have my family together for the holiday. I realized for moment how empty the table almost felt - how different the day could have been. It felt like we really had a reason to celebrate. 

Happy Birthday, Uncle Jack!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Believe

Last week, I was talking about how you have to be open to receiving good in your life, before it can show up. That reminded me of something a friend once said to me - something she would tell her kids when they would question if Santa was real.
If you don't believe - you don't receive.
The message isn't all that different from the Pastor's sermon from that week.

Christmas is a time to be joyful, and thankful, and happy. It's a time to recognize the magic that's in our lives, and all the good that we have to celebrate. It's the one time of the year when everyone can look at the world through a child's eyes, and see everything with excitement and happiness.

People may laugh at how much I like Christmas; and I'm sure they chuckle when I tell them I still believe in Santa. But the truth is, whether you're celebrating a renewal of faith, or the one time of year when wishes come true - it's all magic.

Isn't that what Santa is? Magic? Isn't it about believing that good things are possible, and good things come to those who are good? Don't we all deserve at least one day a year to renew our faith - in God, or life, or magic, or happiness - or whatever we need the most? Don't we all deserve to stop for a minute, and just let ourselves hope?

Yes, I believe we do.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Receive the good

You may remember that I went to church a few weeks back. Since my presence didn't cause the building to buckle under, and since I'm enjoying the experience - and the company - I've been back every week since.

Something that this Pastor has been able to do, that no other Pastor/Minister/Priest/Whatever has done before is make his sermon relevant to my life. He gets me thinking, and questioning, and wondering if I'm not 100% right. That alone is impressive - just ask anyone who knows me.

This past week, he was talking about how people "strive" to find God; that they put in effort and work to achieve a place in God's grace. The Pastor says we miss the point when we try to "achieve" God - that He is something you receive, not achieve.

Basically, the message was that, as long as you're open to receiving God into your life, you can. No questions asked.

If you think about it - that really applies to just about any good thing in life. When you're depressed, and convinced there's no hope, nothing to look forward to, and no reason to be happy - you're completely closed off from the possibility that something good could happen. If you're closed off - how will you recognize the good when it presents itself?

It doesn't matter if you're looking for good results from a diet, or want to meet someone new, or get a promotion, or buy your first house. You have to open yourself up to the possibility before you'll find whatever good you're looking for.

That message makes sense, and it's important to all of us - no matter where it's learned.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Santa is like God

Over the summer, my cousins and I were discussing with their 8-year-old son what he might like to get for Christmas.

Right there in the pool on that August evening, my favorite little kid looked up into the sky, and said, "Santa..." as if he was going to put in his request, right there and then.

Mom laughed, and said, "...but Santa isn't God." Then dad said, "Well, Santa is like God - but with more immediate consequences."

Now, we all know Santa isn't God - or even like Him, for that matter. But if you think about it - there are some glaring similarities.
  • Both judge behavior based on specified criteria
  • Both keep tabs on everyone - and a list, apparently
  • Both have if this, then that consequences for your actions 
  • Both have ways to make penance, if you mess up
  • Both are somehow related to decorated pine trees....
Wait - that last one might be wrong.

Anyway...the point is that through faith - and consequences - we learn to be good people, do the right thing, and treat others well. We learn to respect our elders, take care of those less fortunate, and to pass our faith and beliefs on to our children.

We learn that if you have faith, and you really believe, good things will happen.

Some might take offense to the idea that kids learn those lessons from an old guy in a red suit who is practically a cat burglar. I say that learning faith and hope and trust and goodness is a good thing - no matter where the lessons start.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Movie Monday: It's a Wonderful Life

For the third time in as many years, this year I'll be watching It's a Wonderful Life with someone who is seeing it for the first time. Since it's my favorite movie ever, I suppose it is only fitting that I keep introducing more and more people to this timeless classic.

I was fifteen the first time I watched the movie. I was at my friend's house, and his parents had it on in the family room. He and his brothers were off doing something or other, so I sat down and was immediately drawn into the story of George Bailey and Beford Falls, NY.

Up to that point, I'd really never paid much attention to older movies. I wasn't super interested in anything that didn't involve my teen idols or more current story lines. But this movie was different - and it changed everything for me.

I think most people know what the movie is about, but in case you don't, let me sum it up for you. *Spoiler Alert* The story is about George Bailey, a good guy who has given up one opportunity after another in an effort to keep everyone else happy, at the expense of what he wants. When we find him, he's had a huge curve ball thrown at him, and the town and his family and friends rally to save him - but not before he gets a chance to see what the world would have been like, had he never been born.

We all feel that way sometimes, don't we? Especially at the holidays, if things aren't going our way. We wonder if people wouldn't be better off if we weren't around - or at least, wouldn't even realize if we were gone. It's a Wonderful Life reminds us that our lives touch others in ways we sometimes don't even realize. It reminds us that everything happens for a reason, and we're right where we're supposed to be.
Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he? - Clarence 
That's one of the toughest things to remember - and one of the best lessons we can ever learn. There's nothing more powerful than realizing your life doesn't just matter - it's had a positive impact on people, even if you don't see it.

More than 20 years later, I still watch this movie at least once every holiday season. Every time I do, I cry happy tears when George learns how much his life really means to others.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Elves and duck tape

When I wrote yesterday's post, I was feeling very positive. I'd gotten a lot done, and was really feeling like I had my act together.

Apparently, the universe felt the need to challenge that attitude. Later that night, I realized the window in front of my newly erected Christmas tree was open slightly. I couldn't reach it without moving the tree. No big deal, right? It's light, and I'm strong(ish).

Wrong.

Moving it caused what had been a small crack in the stand to become a large break. So there I was, at 11:30 pm, in my pajamas, holding a fully decorated and lit 6 foot tree with no stand.

At that point, I began to feel much less positive about all I'd accomplished.

I carefully laid the tree down, and tried to think. Santa has elves who would fix this problem. I looked around. No elves. So I went to the next best idea.

Duck tape.

After wrapping what seemed like feet of the sticky stuff around the stand and legs, 20 minutes later I triumphantly returned the tree to its upright position. It's a little worse for the wear, and only time will tell if it's gonna last til the big day.

But - I didn't lose my patience, or fling the tree out the window. I'm calling that a victory.

I'm also asking Santa for elves this year.

Rocking chairs

"Worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere." Glenn Turner

I have a to-do list. It's been growing and growing and growing for the last week. I love when I can cross things off - but I have to admit, watching it grow was getting a little overwhelming.

I'm normally not the person that gets stressed over too much to do, and not enough time to do it. I think it's because of my job. If I've learned one thing over the last eleven years, it's that worrying will do you no good, and everything will get done when it gets done.

So, I stressed a little; I complained to Cute~Ella a little (she's so good at listening); finally, I ate a little chocolate.

Then I remembered the time when I was a little girl, and I was sitting in the rocking chair in the living room in our old apartment. It was a huge - like a lazy boy on rockers. I liked to really get it going, and pretend I was on a ride at an amusement park.

One day, I had it going too good - and it flipped backwards, with me in the chair. Ow. Like my Dad said, "I told you to stop rocking like that!"

I reminded myself how much I hate rocking chairs because all they really do is cause trouble. They don't get you anywhere.

It's amazing how much easier it is to check things off the list when you stop rocking worrying.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Distractions

My Thanksgiving was great - hope yours was, too.

Normally, after I stuff my face with turkey and mashed potatoes, I spend the weekend decorating. Yes, it takes me that long.

But this year, I had other stuff to do. Important stuff - like hanging with a friend who is going through a rough time, and taking a day to visit my most favorite people, who I've been missing.

Plus, other, happy distractions.

Normally, I'd be a little upset that the house isn't done. I'd feel behind, and worried, and overwhelmed.

Instead, I keep thinking how change can be good. I keep thinking how easy it is to keep things the same, not take any risks, and how much we miss out on by staying safe.

Sometimes, we need a little change to get a little perspective, and find what we were missing.

So, this holiday, I'm most thankful for my distractions.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Joy of shopping

I love to shop - but I hate crowds. Especially tired, angry, stressed-out, rude, unruly crowds.

So I avoid shopping as much as possible, starting today. I never shop on Black Friday - unless I have some sort of decorating emergency that sends me out for lights or other accessories late at night, when all the crowds have gone. Thanks to early-bird specials, most of the crowds are done early anyway, freeing up early evening for the sane people rest of us.

Side Note: Ever notice the glazed over look in the eyes of all those poor retail employees? Having been one years ago, I know their pain. Be nice.


Any major shopping gets done prior to Thanksgiving. After that point, it's all internet or home-party shopping, and maybe a couple of late-night retail trips, when crowds are thinner.

I don't want anyone ruining the joy of shopping for me.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Holiday crazy

It's certainly not breaking news that holidays, especially Christmas, are overly commercial. As evidenced by the crowds I saw this weekend, the craziness to find the perfect gift starts earlier and earlier every year, with more and more pressure to buy the right thing. It's enough to make some people downright sick of the whole thing, and even boycott the holidays. 

Now, as far as I'm concerned - that's crazy-talk. 

I love presents. Love. Not just getting them (though I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to get presents), but giving them, too. Especially to kids. There is nothing better than knowing I'm the one bringing the present that will send my cousin's smile over the top. 

Of course, I also like getting presents. Hey - I'm the only child of divorced parents, who is also a daddy's girl and my Santa dad has a big gift budget. You'd like getting gifts, too, if you were me.

But I don't think it has to be a choice. I don't have to choose between really liking presents, and understanding the true meaning of the holiday. I think a person can do both - and I think I'm pretty good at the balance. There's no reason you can't bring joy to others, either by giving a gift or donating money or time - and look forward to a lot of few pretty packages under your tree.

But to have to choose between making others happy, enjoying yourself, and appreciating the real "reason for the season?" 

That's just crazy.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Movie Monday: Higher Ground

When I go to the movies, I almost always go looking for an action-adventure, science-fiction or fantasy movie. Maybe a chick-flick. Occasionally, I'll be drawn to something with a little mystery (and maybe some suspense). But a straight-up drama? Rarely my thing.

So when someone suggested we go see Higher Ground, I wasn't sure what to expect. Thanks to Google, I knew what it was about, and that it was getting good reviews. As IMDB describes, it is the story of a woman's life-long struggle with her faith. I'll admit - I was nervous I might not like it, and said a silent "thank you" that I wasn't paying. 

I won't give the story away, but the movie does open when a young Corinne is first introduced to religion. We see she is unsure, but eager to let God into her life. We see the event that seals her faith in prayer, and God, and changes the way she lives her life, and shapes her family. Later on, we see what triggers Corinne's crisis of faith, and the shift in her beliefs as her trust in God is challenged. 

It's honestly a great story. The movie is well-written, and the story definitely holds your interest. The actors pull it off well, especially Vera Farmiga, who also directed the film. (Side Note: You recognize her from Up in the Air, The Departed and Source Code. It drove me nuts the whole movie.)

Anyone who knows me, knows I'm not overly religious. I do believe in God, I just don't belong to a church, or practice any one religion. But I don't think that's necessary to appreciate this movie. We all have faith in something - and for most of us, that faith is challenged at some point. It might be your faith in a friend, or your parents or a political ideology. Eventually something will make you question what you'd come to believe. 

That's the story that Higher Ground tells; how we establish faith, come to question it, and ultimately, how we resolve those doubts. The main message I got was that, if you don't really have faith in yourself, you can't really have faith in anyone or anything else, either. 

Which is a part of faith that we all need to learn.

**** - I'll watch it again when I can do so for free.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Most wonderful time of the year

I really do love this time of year. I love all the holidays, the family and friends, the decorations, the music. I love the food - and I love the presents (the ones I get and the ones I give).

But there is one thing I absolutely hate about the months of November and December: My job.

My job isn't the most glamorous, or wonderful. It has a lot of downs; it's very bureaucratic and often bogged down in procedure. I deal with a lot of people, which means a lot of quirks. But there are also a lot of perks; down-time, flexible schedule, not a lot of stress.

Except for this time of year.

I manage insurance programs for mid-to-large size businesses. The bulk of the work for each program happens prior to the renewal date. The bulk (nearly 50%!) of my business renews on January 1.

That means nearly 50% of the work I do all year is done during the months of November and December.

Talk about stress.

It ramps up now (right before Thanksgiving) and gets progressively worse until Christmas. By then I'm usually too defeated to cry, and have started quietly whispering, "It's coming....January is coming...," to myself.

So, if I seem quiet, or short, or not around as much, or just generally look tired over the next 45 days or so, don't worry.

January is coming.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mean is ugly

"Ladies, if your guy is hinting to you to step on a scale, give it back by handing him a ruler."

I got the quote from my friend; I'm not sure where she found it. I retweeted it, and a couple guys thought the logic was....flawed. In a nutshell, they felt that a guy should be entitled to concern over his girlfriend's physical attraction - regardless of his "size."

Like I said on twitter, if a man is small-minded enough to judge a woman by her weight, I'd be willing to bet his mind isn't the only thing that's small. Naturally, that's a generalization to make a point. The point about physical attraction is also fair. People come in all shapes and sizes, and not everything appeals to everyone.

My issue isn't that men don't find curvy girls attractive; I personally don't care. I'm curvy, and if you don't find me attractive, it saves me the trouble of having to deal with your nonsense. My issue isn't what one person finds attractive because opinions are subjective, and not really open to debate.

My issue is that no person (man or woman) should ever feel entitled to pass judgment on his significant other that way. That's the point of the quote - that everyone has something "wrong" with them; something they don't like, that makes them feel self-conscious. If you really care about someone, why would you exploit that?

The same topic came up over on Kristi's blog, and like I said there, if someone who I trusted felt the need to make me feel bad about myself - I can think of a sure-fire way to lose about 200 pounds of dead weight pretty quickly.

Because really - there's nothing uglier than a mean person. And even curvy girls don't want to be with someone who is ugly.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Something new

I want to write a review of a movie I saw a while back called Higher Ground. It's not my usual type of movie, but I was pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable and moving I found the story. I really want to share that with you - and I will.

Next week.

It's about 10 o'clock Sunday night and I'm tired, and anything I attempt to write needs to be a little lighter, in order for me to pull it off. But I did want to share a little bit about my day, which consisted of two things: Church and football.

I can honestly say that has never happened before.

I haven't gotten up to go a church service on a Sunday in over 20 years. In fact, unless someone died, got married or was baptized, I haven't set foot in a church since I was confirmed in 1990. I only got confirmed in the first place because it wasn't really presented as an option in my family.

As for football... You might recall, I started to try and learn the sport last year - and failed (though I did come up with a great list of football's finest.) While learning about cute boys comes pretty naturally to me, the rules of football do not.

I've basically shut these things out of my life because I wasn't interested, or didn't understand. I figured if it didn't come easily, why bother to give it a chance? I was pretty happy not trying anything new, and was perfectly happy devoting my Sundays to writing and shoe shopping and maybe housework.

Of course, every now life throws you a curve-ball, and you find a reason to let something new in your life. That happened to me recently, and suddenly, trying something new not only seemed like an OK idea - it actually seemed exciting.

So I did. Know what? It wasn't too bad. I'm not saying I'm ready to give up Sunday shopping altogether (let's not get crazy) - but I am saying that some things are worth a little extra effort.

Besides, if you never let anything (or anyone) new into your life, you never know what you might miss.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Fill-Ins: Veteran's Day

Here we go!

Beware of falling rocks.

It's only November, and we've already had snow.

And since we are on the subject, it's been unseasonably warm since.

What will it take to lift your spirits?

Where do we go from here?

Macaroni and cheese is one of my favorite meals when it's cold out.

And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to a movie, tomorrow my plans include dinner with some old friends and Sunday I want to try something new.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Quiet strength

"A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart, and can sing it to you when you've forgotten the words." Unknown

I firmly believe that, as a woman, there is no relationship more important than that of your closest girlfriends. Yes, significant others, husbands, boyfriends, etc. are important. But your girlfriends? They'll get you through anything. They're the ones who know when you're hurting, and understand why. They know what to say, and what to do They know how to make you feel better.

Your girlfriends are there to see you through all the bad times that SO causes. They give you their strength when you don't have any of your own left to use.

The best is when you have a friend to whom you don't even have to talk. She just knows that, at that moment, you need her to sit and listen; not to judge or advise or even nod her head. Just listen, and then hug you when the time is right.

It's so much easier to see the answer when you're on the outside looking in. That's why it takes real strength to sit and listen, and not offer your two cents. But a real friend will do that; if she's really good, she'll even be able to get you to see the answer for yourself.

Whether it's a long drive with the perfect mixed CD, or a chick-flick with ice cream and cookies, or just a quick email in the middle of the workday - a real friend will always know just what you need, and will remind you that you're never alone.

That's real strength - and there's nothing more powerful.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Randoms

Randoms: A variety of unrelated ideas that are too short for separate posts, pulled together to get it all out in the open. Like throwing something at the wall, to see what sticks. Amanda does this sometimes and so does Cute~Ella. So, this isn't my idea, but I am stealing borrowing from awfully good places. Why reinvent the wheel?

- I've been avoiding the gym. Not on purpose; I was legitimately sick for most of October. I could barely breathe, let alone work out. Last week I was finally better - and legitimately busy, to the point I was unable to even get to the gym. Now, I'm feeling better - and I need to get it into gear.

- While I love Rosie (my phone) it's very frustrating that she uses so much battery, and that I'm having trouble with storage capacity. I think the problem with technology is that once we get a little taste, we keep wanting more and more. It's like crack - or chocolate.

- Speaking of chocolate, and reasons I need to go to the gym - Chrissy recently brought Freihofer's Chocolate Chip Cookies into the house. I try never to do that, because I truly can't resist the little treats. One bite and suddenly I'm 8 years old, hanging out with my dad on a Saturday afternoon. 

- I've recently discovered some new-to-me TV shows. My latest obsessions are Castle and Big Bang Theory. Something about a chronically quotable comedy just makes me smile.

- Ever have really high hopes for your plans - and everything exceeded your expectations? I rarely do - which makes me appreciate it even more when it happens. I'm truly a lucky, lucky woman. 


Friday, November 4, 2011

Follow Friday: Genwar's random thoughts

Life is funny. Sometimes, you meet someone, and you think, "There is no possible way this person is going to like me. He's going to think I'm not intelligent/pretty/funny/snarky enough." You might also worry that, because you're different in many ways, you won't agree on anything.

Then, you listen to the guy and you realize that just because you are different doesn't mean you can't agree on some things - or intelligently debate the rest.

It also doesn't mean he won't be super-cool, and share homemade biscuits from his breakfast table, introduce you to his super-freaking-cute-daughter, or sit next to you for your first visit to the track.

GenWar and I don't always agree - but he is always worth a listen. Personally, I think his views on Kim K and politics are brilliant - but that's me. You should read for yourself and see what you think. Check his blog here

Oh - and you will be warned that it's adult content and asked if you want to continue. This is mostly for language and topics, I think. I scrolled through, and didn't see any pictures of boobs - but it's GenWar, so I wouldn't rule that out. If you're worried, treat it as Not Safe For Work, and save it for after-hours reading.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Bail out

I am not any sort of financial expert. I get a headache when I balance my checkbook, I never took economics, and I failed the financial CPCU exam the first time. My point is, what follows shouldn't be viewed as a suggestion, or advice. I had a tough decision to make, but it was worth it to me, so I thought I'd share in case it might help someone else. 

Those Occupiers seem to be making an argument that we all need a bail out. I don't agree with them, and it's been suggested that is because I am "privileged" and don't understand where they're coming from. I'm a spoiled little rich kid who never wanted for anything, and now I'm selfish and I don't want to share.

Judgy, much?

Let me be clear - I am spoiled. That's not exactly breaking news. I am 37 in my mid-thirties, and I get better Birthday and Christmas presents from my father than most children. I wanted for very little as a kid, rarely heard the word no, and had an awful lot handed to me.

However, I was also taught that this was a privilege for people who worked hard, and who earned what they had. I was never taught to expect a handout. The minute my dad thought I was expecting too much - he put on the brakes, and told me to go get a job. I was 16, and I've not been unemployed for even a day since.

But that doesn't mean I don't have financial worries. No matter what anyone tells you, divorce is expensive. I didn't spend a lot to get divorced (because I didn't marry an asshat who went looking to make my life difficult), but it was hard adjusting the household budget (which didn't change all that much) to a single income.

Plus - I made some bad decisions. By that I mean I spent my way out of a depression. Retail therapy is actually a thing.

But while I was stimulating the economy, I was also racking up debt that I wasn't prepared to handle. When I finally snapped back to reality earlier this year, I was already in over my head.

But I didn't go looking for a bail out. I didn't beg for debt forgiveness, or occupy any grass near the capital, waiting for my government to pay for all those shoes. I bailed myself out, by cashing in a portion of my retirement.

It wasn't an easy decision. I've spent all this time building that fund, and cashing it in not only means the money won't be there for me in retirement, but I will have to pay a huge penalty for taking it out while I'm still working.

On the flip side, it's my money, and I worked hard to set it aside. Yes, it will be helpful in retirement - but I need the money now. Tax shelters and retirement savings are valuable - but putting an end to the stress I was under is priceless.

That sealed my decision, so I cashed in the fund, and paid off the debt that was crushing me. At the same time, I calculated my new monthly budget, to ensure this doesn't happen again.

Some might say that I'm "lucky" I was able to do that, and not everyone has the option to bail themselves out. To that, I say - bite me not true. I haven't been employed steadily for over 20 years because of "luck." In fact, for over two years now, I've been getting up every day and going to a job I hate, just to continue to earn a living.

I'm privileged and spoiled in a lot of ways. But a strong work ethic and a willingness to make a steady contribution to society? That's a privilege available to anyone.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Occupy this

I have to admit, I find this whole Occupy Wall Street movement completely confusing. It's not for lack of trying to understand - I've visited their web site, read articles and listened to interviews. So far, no one can explain the whole thing to me in a way that makes any sense. Everyone agrees they want "things to change," but no one seems sure exactly how or what those changes should be.

Some supporters say a defined goal isn't important; what's important is making people aware, getting them to think and talk about the movement. To an extent, that's probably true; I suppose they've done something right if I'm talking about it. But now that we're all talking - shouldn't there be a goal? Otherwise, won't the message just get lost in its own rhetoric? 

This country is definitely in a crisis. We all see it. The problem is, it seems like people are more interested in blame then they are solutions. That makes no sense. Are corporations wealthy? Yes. Are some people living well above the means of others? Sure. Are others struggling to make ends meet? Absolutely. 

But you can't blame one person's hardships on another's success. Banks and insurance companies and the like are in business to make a profit. The thing about a profit is - you can spend it however you want. It's not as if there's only so much money to be made - if you want a piece of that action, go get it. 

Sitting in a park and demanding that banks forgive debt, or businesses support welfare programs demonstrates a true lack of understanding. If debt is forgiven, we don't get to just reset to zero. The banks lose that money - if they lose that money on a global scale, what do you think happens? Foreign markets collapse, businesses go bankrupt and ultimately, who suffers? 

That 99% you keep talking about. We'll all be paying higher rates, getting laid off (bankrupt businesses mean fewer employers), and eventually, we'll all rely on government programs. But the government won't have any money - because the system collapsed. 

I suppose the argument is, if the rich were paying higher taxes, the programs would be better funded. But that's not how an economy works. I work for one of the wealthiest corporations in the world. My bosses haven't lost money in this economy, and they won't lose it in the proposed economy, either. Instead, the people who do the work (like me) have lost. No raises, higher healthcare costs, fewer benefits. If you raise their taxes, what do you think will happen? Do you honestly think the big-wigs at my company will take that hit? No - I will. 

But the movement seems okay with that. The corporate heads will stay rich, lower-income homes will have more government support, and middle-income homes like mine will suffer the most. I make just enough that I'll have to pay higher taxes to support the programs, but not enough that I can afford the hit. Everything I've worked for over the years will be lost, as I'm forced to now support others who aren't willing to make the effort.

So, Occupiers - if you want to fix the economy, why not try adding to it? Try looking at yourselves, figure out what you have to offer the world, and start doing it. 

Occupy your own wallet, and stay out of mine.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Five: Halloween

Mine was not nearly this cool.
I love Halloween. I decorate for Halloween the way most people decorate for Christmas - except a tree. I don't have a Halloween tree. Yet.

Since this weekend will probably be a three-day celebration of All Hallows Eve, I figured it was as good a time as any to list my Top Fives for Halloween - tricks, treats and costumes.

Treats - Hershey's, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Milky Way, Snickers (notice a theme?) - and money.

Tricks - Candy corn (What is that about?), anything gummy (bears, fruit, etc.), Warheads, toothbrush, fruit

Costumes - Paul Stanley (Yes, I did.), 60's Girl, punk rocker (which was my costume basically every year from the time I was 10 on), Little Red Riding Hood (as part of a couples costume) - and Wonder Woman, when I was 5.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Personality profile - INFP (Part II)

Continued from here...

So basically, I move easily from fantasy to reality (and back) and I keep my emotions so well hidden that half the time, I don't even know what I'm feeling?

Okay, so I can't really argue with any of that.

The Functional Analysis says (in a nutshell):

INFPs live in a world of primarily introverted feeling. Introverts turn inward, away from the world, and towards ideas and ideals. Intuition is extroverted, to greet the world. This combination encourages a philosophical bent, and gives rise to an unusual skill with respect to character development and language fluency - making an INFP a "verbal artist."

Sensing is introverted; nearly invisible. This gives an inclination towards absent-mindedness, which is often mitigated by the overpowering awareness of what's going on around them. In this personality type, sensing is the weakest function.

The INFP may turn to extraverted thinking to deal with external problems, or to find closure. Extraverted thinking lacks context and proportion, meaning small facts loom large to the INFP, while the big picture goes overlooked. The INFP expends considerable energy when forced to where the extravert suit for problem solving.

It seems like we might be saying that an INFP is someone who observes; who is concerned with taking in the world around her, rather than participating. That she walks into a room, and isn't likely to join a large group, but rather watch, learn the players, and who wants what. She can create characters in her mind, and is very happy to get to know those people. When necessary, she can "get out there" and might even appear to some as an extrovert - but she'll be tired by the end of that night.

If that's the case - then there might be something to this personality stuff, after all.

According to the results from the test I took, personality profiles can be used to determine everything from what career would suit you best to who would be a good romantic match. My ideal careers? Writer, counselor - or web designer. That still makes me scratch my head.

In case you're wondering, some famous INFPs include: Homer, Fred Rogers, Helen Keller, Jackie O, JFK Jr., Lisa Kudrow - and Mary, Mother of Jesus (???). Fictional INFPs would include Anne of Green Gables, Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes, Wesley Crusher and Bastian from The Neverending Story.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Personality profile - INFP

A while back, I spent a lot of time with someone who was constantly reading personality books - some divided personalities up by elements, others by numbers, etc. When he'd talk about it, I wondered if anyone can really fit completely into any profile. I mean, we all probably tend towards one type or another - but everyone is unique, too.

On dating sites, people often include their Myers-Briggs personality type in their profile. I think they mean for this to be helpful - but to me, it just looks like jibberish. Then a couple weeks ago, I was out to dinner with a bunch of people who were all much smarter than I, and they got to talking about personality types.

I decided it was time to end the mystery.

So, I googled and found a free test, which gave me my type formula according to Carl Jung and Isabel Briggs Myers. which took me 20ish minutes. At the end, I had a result that tells me I am an INFP - Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving. Feeling was the strongest preference, and perceiving was the weakest. Which, apparently, means I am a:
  • Moderately expressed introvert
  • Moderately expressed intuitive personality
  • Distinctly expressed feeling personality
  • Slightly expressed perceiving personality
I found a couple of descriptions of this personality. One says that an INFP will never lose their sense of wonder. As kids we switch from fantasy to reality easily, and are usually the children who develop imaginary friends (I totally did!) and whose stuffed animals come to life (That doesn't happen to everyone?!).

An INFP's "extreme depth of feeling is often hidden, even from themselves," and struggle with good vs. evil, and their ability to perform for the greater good. [I'm less certain about this in myself.] It says I should be able to de-jargon technical information, which is ironic since I'm finding the jargon used to describe my personality quite confuzzling.

Apparently, this depth of feeling is hidden - even from the INFP herself - until "circumstances evoke an impassioned response." My de-jargoning abilities tell me this explains why I go from 0-Bitch in 60 seconds flat.

When I explained just this little bit to a friend, his response was - "Wow, that is you."

But wait - there's more. To be continued....



Monday, October 24, 2011

Movie Monday: Horror movies

The other day, a local radio show was talking about a guy who is 27 years old, and says he can't watch horror movies. One host thought that was ridiculous - that eventually, everyone grows out of that fear.

I beg to differ.

In fact, not only haven't I outgrown it - I actually grew into it.

As a kid, I actually really liked scary movies. The Omen, Salem's Lot, The Shining - loved them. Then, as I got older, I started noticing that when I watched anything scary - I couldn't sleep. It got even worse if I read the book. In high school, I read Pet Semetary by Stephen King, and barely slept an entire summer. 

Creepy. 

So, I stopped watching them. Never saw any of the Halloween or Friday the 13th movies. X liked loved scary movies, so occasionally they'd be on in the house. Honestly - I don't even want to hear them. Recently, I've been muting the TV and looking away every time that trailer for Paranormal Activity is on. A few years back, Chrissy had the Halloween theme as her ring tone, with her phone on at work. I told her if she didn't change it or turn it off, I was going to run her phone over with my car. 

As kids we don't really know about fear. Our parents protect us, the world is nice to us, we have no responsibilities and no worries. No fear. 

So when do we learn to be afraid? And why does it bother some of us more than others? Or maybe, those of us who are afraid, are really just more grown up than the rest? 

Either way, I won't be watching those movies any time soon. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Truth on the internet

"There is no room on the internet for the truth." Big Bang Theory

OHmyfreakinggod - I love this show. It's quotable, funny and clever - all rolled up into a perfectly wrapped, 30 minute package. I only just discovered it, and am happy that TBS recently added reruns to their schedule. I enjoy reruns - especially since I don't really stick to a steady, nightly TV schedule of any sort. 

So I'm working on a post about my Myers-Briggs personality type. It's taking a long time, and I'm very busy, and still a little sick...erm....so it's not done. I trolled facebook quickly for some material, and found this picture posted by a friend, which I though went nicely with the quote, which was posted by me.  


In case you're wondering where I found it - it was on Daniel Nester's facebook page. I have no idea where he got it. But he's very cool - you should totally check out his web site, and tell him I sent you.

I wonder if Nester watches Big Bang Theory? 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pants on fire

Trust isn't an easy thing. We give it so freely when we're little, but over time, as more and more people prove they don't deserve it, our trust gets broken. The more broken it gets - the harder it is to give.

That's what makes it so awful when you think you're ready to trust again - and that person turns out not to be deserving. It sucks to find out that - once again - you messed up and trusted someone who turned out to be a liar. Then, of course, it is so easy to just blame yourself. "Well if I wasn't so stupid," or "What did I do to deserve this." The answer?

You're not, and you did nothing.

You're a good person; you had trust to give, so you did - because that's what good people do. If someone is dumb enough to not appreciate that, then he's the stupid one, not you.

People think that being a good liar makes you a smart person. The truth is, most of the time, there's nothing more difficult to understand than the truth. If you can figure that out - and then figure out how to share it - you're bound to be one of the smartest people you know.

There's nothing brave about a lie, either. The bravest people I know are those who are not afraid to admit they messed up; who are not afraid to say what they mean - and to mean what they say. It takes more guts to be honest than it ever could to tell a lie.

There's a reason why a liar's pants are usually on fire; he's running away from himself as fast as he can.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Movie Monday: Sex and the City

It's Sunday evening, and I have Chinese food for dinner. It's not especially unusual. I did have food here that I could have cooked (which is unusual) but I don't feel well, so I don't really feel like doing the work. So, I ordered myself some lo mein, and set about the task of looking for a movie to complete my takeout experience.

No movies on my very limited TV, and I didn't feel like anything from my netflix queue. So what's the next step? Well I have plenty of movies - but my go-to is always Sex and the City.

I've written before about how much I love this movie. I'm sure it sounds silly, or fake, because to most people, the whole SATC franchise is superficial and frivolous. It's all about over-priced clothes and shoes and sex, and other things that don't really tap into anyone's conscious.

You may be surprised to hear me say see me write that I don't necessarily disagree with that.

In fact - I never even liked the show. But when the movie came out in 2008, my marriage was just beginning to unravel. I was honestly afraid to be home, because I didn't want to be there alone. It was too much of a reminder of all that I was losing, and how little control I had over my own life.

So when my cousins invited me to the movies, I went. It didn't matter what the movie was - honestly, at that point in my life, I'd have probably gone on a fishing trip.

The thing is, if you look past the shoes and the clothes, you'll find the movie (especially this one) is really a story about one woman relying one her friends for strength in times when she needs it most. I suppose to see that, you really need to be in the right mindset - and that night, I was.

Now when I watch the movie, it reminds me that, no matter how weak or sad or vulnerable I might be feeling, I do have a place to go when I need to recharge, and get a boost of strength.

I think we all need that reminder now and then.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Five: Television

I've recently rediscovered television. Ironic, since I also recently canceled all but basic cable. Whatever. I still watch most of my TV via the internet, or on netflix DVD if I'm catching up with a series.

To celebrate my new (old?) fascination with mindless entertainment, I came up with five, fun TV-related questions for your Friday. Go ahead - you weren't working anyway.

Talk about a happy Friday.
1 - What is (currently) your favorite TV show? Toss up between Castle, Criminal Minds and Bones

2 - If you could be on any reality TV show (past or present) which one would it be? The Real World

3 - What TV character (not actor) would you most like to marry? Seeley Booth

4 - What TV mom would you most want for your own? Mrs. C from Happy Days

5 - What was your favorite TV show when you were a teenager? Beverly Hills, 90210

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Grandmothers are magic

My paternal grandmother (Nanny) was a terrific grandmother. She always had candy and treats, she spoiled me with my favorite foods, she liked to take me out to lunch, and she taught me to love General Hospital.

She also stepped in to help my dad raise me, and was therefore a mom to me in a lot of ways. She taught me how to clean my room, to always say please and thank you, and to never wear white after Labor Day.

Nanny elevated being gracious to an art form. Some of my earliest memories are of me as a guest in other people's homes. I was taught to respect what isn't mine; in other words - hands off, no matter how shiny. I learned that, even if I didn't have to dishes at home, in someone else's house, I'd better roll up my sleeves. 

She definitely made it clear, as a kid, that these things were expected. But she also managed to get it through the thick head of an overly-privileged, spoiled little girl that it felt good to treat others with respect. She taught me that I'd feel better about myself treating my own stuff well - and treating others the same way. Don't ask me how she did that; clearly, she was magical. 

To this day, I do my best to be a gracious guest - even if I'm not technically a guest. There are plenty of homes that I visit on a semi-regular basis. Enough that those particular family and friends don't consider me "company."

But they're still helping me out - or at least putting up with me (which, I have on good authority, is not exactly easy). So, I do what I can; I never show up empty-handed, I say please and thank you, I accept whatever food they're offering - and I definitely always clean up after myself. 

I know people who don't do the same. Half-empty glasses of water (Some not even on coasters - eek!), dirty dishes and trash from their own cars laying around. Who does that? Who raised these people? How do they respect themselves, if they didn't even learn to respect others?! 

I guess that means this spoiled little kid was even luckier than she realized. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Columbus Day

Man: Christopher Columbus never needed directions - and neither do I!


Woman: Yes, dear.  You do realize Columbus never actually got where he was going, right?





Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Time out

Ever have one of those days? All the little things go wrong, and then - just when you think you may have survived all those problems - you get one, gigantic kick in the teeth? To make matters worse - the kick came from someone you thought you could trust?

I did. I tried to write a post about it - but my anger kept coming out in my writing, and I couldn't make the post sound like anything other than pure venom. It happens. Be glad you're not him; and if you are him, be glad you're not standing in front of my car. [See what I mean?!]

So, rather than keep that up - I'm putting myself in a time out. I'll be back, when I can play nice with others.




Monday, October 3, 2011

Movie Monday: Drive

What could possibly go wrong?
This weekend's movie came down to Moneyball or Drive. Drive got my ticket dollars because Gosling > Pitt any day of the week.

Unfortunately, I don't think the same can be said for Drive > Moneyball.

Drive is supposed to be the story of a Hollywood stunt-driver who moonlights as a get-away driver. Sounded like a lot of chase scenes and action to me - sort of like the Fast and the Furious movies.

Those are not great movies. The stories are flimsy, the acting is sub-par and the directing is done solely for the purpose of fitting in the chase scenes. But at least those movies are not trying to be something they are not. There's no pretense; you expect chase scenes, fast cars, hot guys and scantily-clad women. The movies deliver.

Drive did not.

It tried too hard to be artsy. The choppy transition from scene to scene, the dark, grainy film, and even the minimal dialogue all wanted desperately to make some sort of statement, or teach a lesson, or send a profound message.

Just drive the car, man.

I wanted action and excitement and a few car crashes. I really didn't get much of that at all - though, about three quarters of the way through the movie, I did start getting some of the most bloody death scenes ever. I had to shut my eyes, so I can't describe any of them, but you've been warned.

The story, acting and direction were all fantastic. The editing was tough, and the story seemed to go on and on...and on and on. And even with all that effort - the movie never delivered the one thing I wanted.

So the bottom line? For a movie about a guy who drives super-fast, Drive took a long time to get where it was going.

* - Slightly better than Open Water

Oh - and if a movie is going to totally rely on Ryan Gosling, he should be shirtless. A lot.


Friday, September 30, 2011

Anniversaries and milestones

Life is full of milestones. The first day of school; graduation - most likely, more than one of those. Your first job, first kiss, first car. Depending on your religious beliefs, there's probably a slew of those milestones. There's your first house, getting married...

...Getting divorced, your first gray hair, your first wrinkle, the first time you realize you need glasses. The first time you have to ask your parents for help, the first time you get laid off from your job, the first call from a collection agency....

Not all milestones are good; but they are all turning points.

This weekend is a one-year anniversary for me. It was a painful goodbye; the end of a relationship that, as it turned out, was a really big deal in my life - but not for the reasons I thought.

A year ago, I never would have imagined all the ways my life would change. I couldn't have seen all that was coming; new work ventures, new opportunities, new friends - all while finding a new strength for myself that I had no idea was even possible.

Life is full of tough times; it's full of challenges, of heartache and loss; it's full of frustration and sadness. There's no way to avoid those moments - that first gray hair or pink slip is just as inevitable as your first kiss or straight A report card. They're also just as important.

The trick isn't avoiding those times; the trick is to learn from them. If you keep moving, learning, growing - if you find a way to make yourself better - then you turn that loss into a gain. You win.

A year of learning and growing, and I can honestly say, I'm a better person that I was last fall. I'm also a happier person. Which is something I never thought I'd be. That's the great thing about life - you just never know what might happen next.

"Tomorrow may be the best day of your life; you just gotta get there." Unknown

Friday Five: Banned books

September 24 - October 1 is Banned Books Week. Did you know that? I didn't, until the other night.

I think banning books should be a sin - or at least illegal. I'm of the opinion that there is no greater right than the freedom to express ourselves - and books are an expression, a representation of how things really are (or perhaps how they should be). Either that - or they're purely entertainment, and who on earth would want to ban people from being entertained? If you don't like it - just don't read it.

It's amazing when you look at a list of banned classics - many of which were later "unbanned" - and made part of high school curriculum. I read several of these in high school - and banned or not, they still bored me to tears.

A Separate Peace, Jonathan Knowles

Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut

Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

Animal Farm, George Orwell

Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck

If only someone would have banned Old Man and the Sea. Oh - how I hated that book.

What banned books have you read? 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Good grammar

I found this on facebook - from this person over here.

And while I agree with Ashley's father that she should be more careful when texting, I also think he should concern himself less with what who his daughter plays, and more with his own felonious grammar.

From uberhumor.com

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Special shoes

"It's really hard to walk in a single girl's shoes; that's why sometimes, you need really special shoes." Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City

Seen the episode? Then you know what this post is about. Haven't seen it? Shame on you. Click the link for a detailed summary. Or:
Season 6, Episode 83: A woman's right to shoes
Carrie attends a baby shower where she has to take off her shoes at the door (to protect the carpet), and the shoes go missing. $485 Manolos go missing. The hostess offers to pay Carrie - but chastises her for spending that much on shoes, and won't reimburse her the full price.
Carrie adds up all the gifts she's given this friend over the years. Showers (both baby and wedding) and a wedding gift, totaling far more than $485. Carrie realizes the injustice because there are no celebrations for single gals. No showers when we land a great New Year's Eve date, or a registry whenever we have to remodel our own bathroom. 
How does Carrie handle it? She announces to her friends that she's "marrying herself" - and registers with Manolo. She sends the friend an invitation, with the registry list - containing one item, the shoes she lost. They arrive shortly thereafter, in a perfectly wrapped gift package.
I was talking about this very thing with a couple of friends the other day. Chrissy's kids are fundraising. Preschool and kindergarten - what do kids this small need money for, anyway, I wanna know! (On second thought - no, I don't.)

Think of all the possibilities....
So, there's fundraising "opportunities" flying at me from every direction. I can't buy from one and not the other, and besides - I love these kids. I want to help them, and I want them to feel good, knowing they helped their class and school. But it's only preschool and kindergarten. We have years of this ahead of us. 

And like my other friend pointed out - it won't ever come back to me. I don't have kids, so no matter what, all the birthday and Christmas and graduation and back-to-school presents I purchase, and all the fundraising dollars I contribute won't be reciprocated. 

So I told my friends that I'm going to start registering whenever I have a milestone event. A major birthday, an accomplishment at work, or there's an "opportunity" in my home (aka something needs fixin') - and I'll start sending announcements with registry lists. 

Hey - if it's good enough for Bradshaw, it's good enough for me.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Trash to treasure

I hate garage sales. It creeps me out, the thought of pawing through a strangers things - or having strangers paw through my things. 

But my garage is overflowing with stuff. Some mine, some Chrissy's - all stuff no one is using, partly because we don't need it, and partly because we can't get to it. 

Chrissy came up with the idea to hold a garage sale. For me, that meant cleaning out a closet and sorting through totes of household items and decorations in the garage. What a chore. Altogether, I'm sure I spent a good five hours preparing, then four hours that day, holding the sale. 

Did I make money? About $30. For nearly ten hours worth of work, that's not a good return. Until you to stop to consider just how those hours break down. 

Forget the five hours prepping (read: cleaning and sorting). That needed to be done regardless if I sold the items, donated everything, threw it all away or elves came to take it in the middle of the night. 

Also subtract at least an hour from the day of the sale. If I hadn't been working the sale, I would have spent that time (and some gas) carting stuff around to be donated. Instead, a bunch of stuff was picked up - by people who just showed up at my home. 

I still have a bunch of household items that I didn't sell. I have enough curtains to furnish a whole house, several table covers, some towels that are hardly used - even bedding. I found what appears to be a good organization that will take these donations and make sure they get to people who need them more than I. 

I also have a bunch of books I need to unload. I quickly figured out that my local library accepts donations, some of which are resold at a local used bookstore. I can't use them - and I don't want to store them anymore. This way, they can either be enjoyed by many, or used to raise money that ends up back in the community. 

What I sold was all decorative stuff; candle holders and holiday plush decorations, and scented candles and a few assorted odds and ends. One woman's granddaughter was enjoying a stuffed snowman so much - and her grandmother was loading up on finds - that I just gave her the toy. 

In a flash, just like everything else that day - my trash became her treasure. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Five: High School

I wrote a bit about high school this week - twice, really. So, I thought we'd try a little something different for Friday. Five questions about high school - I'll go first.
  • Which class was your most favorite? Your least? Journalism was my most favorite; gym was my least. 
  • What clubs did you join/sports did you play? School paper (Managing Editor), band, National Honor Society, Peer Leadership; no sports for me (you're shocked, I know). 
  • How many best friends did you have? Four - Rachel early on, then Cathy and Karen. Akore was my best friend throughout. I'm still friends with all but Cathy (long story). 
  • What was your best fashion choice? Worst? Probably jeans tucked into black boots, with a white top and black blazer. Basically classic, with just enough 80's-90's influence to be "in" at the time. Worst? Flowered jeans. 
  • What did you want to be when you were "grown up?" I was going to be a journalist. I had a place for my Pulitzer all picked out. 
Your turn.