Sunday, November 30, 2008


A lot of traveling around the state I have done. A lot of cutting of diamonds, of looking at photos, and talking, and missing the cat I have also done. I fear the cat has developed depression as she now cries sad cries of desperation, which I have not heretofore heard, now that we are back.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


After about a year and a half of virtually free reign on the Internet, the 13-year-old of the house has been reined in. I've limited her to two and a half hours a day online. Now we have her back. She talks to us, she fights with her sister, she reads books, she plays video games on her hand-held thing, she walks around a little, and she cleans up her room. She doesn't even complain that much about not being able to write to her friends. It's one of the best things I've done in a long time.
I'll have to check later if I used reign and reined correctly.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Last night the family watched Twilight during its opening. Judging from my visit to the theater last Friday night for the new James Bond movie for its opening day, Twilight is not as popular. Either that, or the Twilight people have to go to bed sooner and were therefore not out as late. However, as happened at the Bond movie, I had to sit too close to the screen and the muscles in my neck are sore again. And, the camera work involved a lot of extreme close-ups, which is hard on the eyes if you're only 30 feet from the gigantic screen. But too close to the screen or not, the extreme close-ups wouldn't have been as bad if the actor playing Edward Cullen hadn't been wearing so much red lip color. The book didn't mention anything about him having unexplainably red lips. In a lot of the scenes, they were the same color as Bella's. There were a few parts that were overdramatic, and could have been much more successful if they hadn't been played with such emphasis, like when Bella walked into Biology class, and she walked in front of a fan, and Edward could not contain himself. I don't think a fan was needed for Edward to know what she smelled like, given that they already should have been extremely sensitive to scents (maybe I'm getting vampires confused with werewolves, though). Bella's voiceovers were too much, too. I found myself formulating cinematic scripts to effectively replace what she was saying in voiceovers. Most of the voiceovers might just have been taken out altogether; but I read the book, and, therefore didn't need her explanations. More subtlety, less drama, I say. Another disappointment was that it was too unbelievable how Bella could have fallen in love with Edward so fast. A lot of scenes and characters were just as I'd imagined them, though, so not all aspects were disappointing. It wasn't horrible. After the movie someone told me that the author of Twilight had an appearance in one of the diner scenes, which I hadn't caught. Someone calls her Stephanie. I don't remember that part. Unfortunately, I almost want to see the movie again and sit further back so I can see the whole thing. On the other hand, I hardly ever want to watch a movie twice.

Friday, November 21, 2008

How I Feel When I Don't Get Exercise

I feel a heavy presence all around my body. It moves with me and drags me down. If I could describe the aura around me, I would say those little lines all around Pig-Pen in the Peanuts comics would be it -- black squiggly lines that denote chaos, scattered dust, and gritty strands that follow me in a sketchy cloud as I move. Nothing seems quite comfortable -- I'm too hot or too cold, hair is falling in my eyes, I have an itchy tag brushing against my side, and I feel tired. The back of my neck is sore and my teeth are clenched. It feels too cold to go outside to walk, and I absolutely refuse to buy a membership to go to a gym. It's not that I'm worried about the cost; I just don't think I would fit in. Those people with gigantic muscles and huge egos to match scare me. There's just something very unnatural and inhuman about them.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


This morning I went to a school book fair. There was promise of breakfast for the parents! At first, I decided I would not bother going. After giving it a minute of thought, as I pulled my car away from the school, I changed my mind and decided to park and enter. I wondered what kind of breakfast there would be. It turned out to be coffee, juice, milk, and granola bars. All the granola bars were set out neatly in rows on a table with napkins. I wondered if I missed the real breakfast. Many days, if I do eat breakfast, it is a granola bar. But I didn't think it was what other people considered a good breakfast.
Again, a very mediocre day, but at the end of the day I got excited about a project. Unrelated to the project, I made a pros and cons list last night. A problem I battle all the time, but I'd never taken the time to write out such a list. I was shocked when the cons part of the list was more than three times as lengthy as the pros part. To add to the confusion, do the points on the list need to be weighted? Will I ever figure it out? The Daily Om I read almost every day had some extremely good advice. It talks about how our lives don't come with instruction manuals, which means we have to experience life in order to make mistakes and learn and apply them to the next situation; and if we write down what we have done and what we have learned from what we have done, we are writing our own instruction manuals. It tells me that I am a beautiful work in progress, as are you.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Trying to Fit Some Semblance of Interest Into An Otherwise Lackluster Day

Today was a day so much like so many other days. I woke up to someone offering to shovel the snow out of the driveway, which was like waking up to a day unlike any other day I've ever lived. Other than that, it was entirely normal and non-eventful, which I feel compelled to describe: I went to work, went on a field trip to downtown and back, complained a little, got some work done, came home, and made mini cheeseburgers and steamed broccoli. I thought about calling a friend I hadn't talked to in awhile, and she called me about 30 minutes after I thought about calling her. I was watching a show on TV about children who spend time in their childhood with no human contact whatsoever. It reminds me of a fiction book by Paul Auster I read about that very topic, about what would happen if we had no outside influences as our brain develops. I've noticed he's written at least two stories about long-term isolation. The scientists on the TV show tonight said the developing brain of a child shrinks if no one talks to the child. The language part of the brain suffers from atrophy. It never recovers. I wonder if that happens to us after childhood, that, as hermits, our brains transform themselves as they suffer from lack of human contact and isolation. I don't think it's quite the same, but I do believe it plants the seeds of madness. One of the men in one of Paul Auster's stories in The New York Trilogy ends up jumping off a bridge after he spent most of his life experimenting and studying about being cut off from everyone else.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Riding Along

People ride a crowded bus through a large town. The bus route goes past the commercial area, the bad neighborhoods, the good neighborhoods, the brand-new developments, the nondescript neighborhoods, the flat parts of town, the mountainous parts of town, the hospital, the industrial section, the beverage district, the schools, the museums, the churches, the grocery stores, the mall, the movie theater, the train tracks, the banks, and whatever else that town has.
Just about everyone on the bus has a plan and knows where they want to stop riding and start doing. A few people just keep riding, never committing to anything, never stopping, just watching the scenery go by. They'll know their stop when they see it, they think. They might die on the bus, never finding the right place to get off. What if the church is better than the mall? What if the beverage district is better than the church? What if I missed my stop and just didn't know it?
Today I am wondering if I'm one of those people who doesn't know where to get off, someone who wants to keep riding and watching the scenery, the colors, the flutter of activity, the people living life, go by, for the safety of knowing I won't get stuck somewhere I don't want to be.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Lots of time to myself the last two days. It's been pretty nice. I babysat last night and took care of a seven-week-old boy for about four hours. The last time I took care of a baby ... it's been quite awhile and it therefore brought lots of memories. This was my first time taking care of a boy baby. This boy was very strong! Like girl babies, boy babies like to be held and talked to and fed and burped. Had a dream after the baby left that I had my own baby in the hospital and it was stillborn.
I went to the craft fair yesterday for a few minutes, to find the pottery and maple sugar and to look at the quilts. Saw my basket-making friend at her basket booth and she was feverishly weaving strands of trees. She said she was selling them as fast as she could make them. There was no maple sugar table -- a colossal disappointment. There were fewer pottery and fewer quilts to admire. There was no fried crocodile vendor outside like there has been in years past. I came away with a piece of blue dragonfly pottery with a round mirror in the middle. It will have to do.
Friday I watched Quantum of Solace. On my tomatometer prediction, I projected a 50 percent. It was closer to 65 percent fresh. I didn't understand the first third of the movie. I thought it was introducing the storyline at the beginning, but it didn't really seem to take shape until the beautiful Bolivian Camille enters the picture and commands James to get in to the car. The best I can hope from a James Bond movie is to be impressed by the gadgets, technology and beautiful people. Not terribly disappointing on that front. There are no shortages of action, violence, fire, explosions and car chases. There were no intricate or interesting plot twists, and not a whole lot of intellectualism, but I didn't have my hopes up for anything spectacular. Before I saw the movie, I drove around with a coworker for seven hours, broken up in the middle by a work meeting. Had some interesting conversations with her about our intersecting lives while touring our beautiful state on the way home and back, not a direct route in order to fetch an accidentally abandoned credit card.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I Answer One of The Age-Old Questions

Yesterday a friend asked me for my opinion about how to let someone down gently. I gave it some serious thought and my thoughts are turning toward the direction of "there is no good way." The answer is, also, it depends. Is this person sensitive? Will they care whether the person is tactful, diplomatic and kind? Or will a simple yes or no, or even a "get lost" suffice, for the less sensitive?
The person he was asking about is someone he doesn't know very well. It's someone he will have to cross paths with occasionally for work. The question she asked had to do with whether he would want to spend some out-of-the-office time with him, and she phrased it in a way that would necessarily communicate that she meant it in a romantic sense. She did it in writing, so there is time for him to think about how he should respond, or whether he should respond at all.
My first thought in trying to answer this was to think about what relevant life experience I have to answer this question. I think back to junior high and high school, when, a few times, some boys asked me out who didn't know me well at all. I wondered, since they surely couldn't know me and didn't know me, how could their question be at all sincere? How could they possibly be interested in going out with me if they didn't know me? Therefore, such a question offended me because it was such a personal question given in such an impersonal way. It was especially annoying when it so happened (and it happened twice, with two different people) that they asked several of my friends out, who said no, and THEN they asked me. The second time that happened to me, I complained to that boy. He proceeded to send a dozen roses to my house that same afternoon, in an effort to convince me of his sincerity. That still didn't persuade me.
After thinking back to those insincere questions (maybe I am too much of a romantic), I thought about how I'd responded in the past. My past self would have, and did, answer those questions in a vague way, so as not to disappoint or hurt the person, and give me a chance to get to know them and possibly find a new friend.
The first time it happened to me was in the fourth grade. This boy had had several girlfriends in my fourth-grade class by the time he got around to me. His female cousin, also a fourth-grade classmate, told me he wanted to be my girlfriend. Then, not too long after that, his older brother passed me a note in reading class and asked if I would go out with him (the older brother, not my fourth-grade classmate). He left a place on the note for me to circle "yes" or "no." Even then, I didn't want to be pigeonholed into giving a "yes" or "no" answer, so I circled the word "or." I'm sure I'm not the first person to ever do that. His response was one of ridicule and confusion. He gave up after that and never spoke to me ... at least not until I got to high school. Six years later he ended up in my American History class and started bullying me and teasing me, and I said something to him that put him off again and he stopped speaking to me all over again. But I have digressed far more than I intended to digress.
I'm sure he didn't remember me circling "or," or even that I attended his elementary school, but I obviously haven't forgotten it. That event began a long string of my method of passive-aggressive rebellion against some impersonal request to get personal. Most recently, my present self would have seen it differently. It isn't fair to the person to lead them on. They don't want a vague answer. They really want a yes or no, so that if it's a no, they can move on. They probably don't want a new friend. They probably already have an abundance of friends.
When I told my friend my stories from the past, he responded by saying that it's disrespectful not to give a clear answer. His question is, how to say no without hurting feelings? Fail to respond? That doesn't seem very nice, either. If you never had to see the person again, there would be no problem with saying "no" and being done with it. Chances are good that the person is going to be in your life somehow, whether it's someone you have to see every day in school, sit next to in class, or run into occasionally or even daily at work-related functions.
I was hoping that if I had to write it out that I would have more clarity about the best way to respond to such a request. (Fortunately this is not my problem, as people asking me out is a thing of the past, which I shall not further explore at this time.) More recently, when someone I liked, but didn't know very well, asked me out on a "date," I asked him to clarify the difference between a "date" and an evening out between two friends. Again I tried to lengthen the time he would want to spend time with me, so I could use that time to get to know him and decide if I did want to date him, without committing to a "date." We did go to lots of movies together and out to dinner many times. Really, it failed miserably. He didn't have that kind of time. I think he got bored with me, and, after about three months of being "friends," decided he wanted to withdraw his request to "date me."
This brings me back to the options. If it sounds like an insincere and insensitive question to begin with, does the person need a sincere, well-thought-out response? Try diplomacy? Tact? Dishonesty (I'm with someone already/I'm gay/I'm recovering from the recent nasty breakup of a long-term relationship)? (I definitely disagree with the outright dishonesty. It's always a bad idea.) Just say no? Say yes, feel guilty about it, then find a way to get out of it later? (Absolutely not!)
Here's my proposed answer, after giving it a day's worth of thought:
"I'm glad you asked. What a confidence booster! If pressed about how I want to relate to you in the future, I must say that I would most prefer to call you my colleague, friend and work associate. If that involves the occasional phone call or after-work drink, then great. But that's all I have room for right now."
With this response, I express appreciation for the person for making me feel flattered. I hint that I don't feel comfortable about being put on the spot by saying "if pressed ... I must say ..." and then I'm honest and state with diplomacy and optimism that I look forward to a friendly, positive working relationship. And by saying "that's all I have room for right now," it suggests I have something else going on that would potentially interfere with a new potential romance, but doesn't leave much room for the specifics that I don't want to give.
It's brilliant, isn't it? How to let someone down easy. I've come a long way since "or."
How have people let me down easy in the past? If I've ever been the person to make the first move, I've always tried to make sure the answer will be yes beforehand.
On the other hand, there have been a few times that people have separated from me after a few short months of spending time with them. Here is one, circa 2002: "I just called to say goodbye. I'm moving away today; everything is packed and I'm on the road now. I won't be coming back up here." (My "friend" moved an hour and a half away and left this voice mail on my cell phone.) Another time, more recently, someone else, after he was persistent for about six weeks, and I gave in because he was so nice: "I still have feelings for my ex-girlfriend. I have nothing to offer you." To give him credit, I do believe he was being honest. Uh, at least I'm pretty sure he was. Kind of sure. A little sure.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

As the World Rotates on Its Axis

The other day someone who I had met a few times -- maybe had seen and talked to less than five times -- died. I felt sadness for the loved ones he left behind, and for my best friend, who was one of those loved ones, but I did not really, truly, personally feel a loss. Then I watched a slide show of his life, a tribute to him, in the sequence of his life. Photos began from perhaps the early 1940s, black and white photos of a handsome, kind-looking young man, playing on the baseball team, in the military, holding babies who now are well into adulthood, photos of him with his small children at Christmastime, at work with another man, both of whom wore funky 1970s polyester suits, and then photos with his grandchild and the rest of the family. It was a long slide show and I felt myself smiling in wonder at the seemingly happy, pleasant and full life he had. I felt I had a much deeper understanding of this man who died and the memories he left behind. It was like a huge puzzle being put together with all those pictures -- there was a man, at the end of all this life he had, who I met, but there was so much more life to him after having seen the photos. I have only gone to a handful of funerals, but of those few, I've never had the pleasure of seeing a slide show/tribute of the photos of a person's life, showing the milestones, changes, births, and other significant events of a person's life. It was beautiful. I like pictures.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Yesterday I was a homebody, watched two movies -- Baby Mama and Derailed -- and worked for about three hours in a closet. I finally came out of the closet for the last time yesterday when I had hung the door on its track. It took a long time to take stacks and stacks of kid stuff out of the closet just so I could re-hang the door. I think that anyone who has kids would know exactly what I mean when I say kid stuff: I mean old papers, socks, clothes, shoes, books, magazines, random game pieces, scratched CDs, empty movie cases, stuffed animals, Christmas tree ornaments, hangers, electronics, instructions for something that got lost or forgotten about a long time ago, kid camping stuff, poles, partial pieces from a fast food kids' meal toy, public service fair giveaways like unsharpened pencils, keychains and rulers ... the only thing I didn't find, that I'm glad I didn't find, was food. Working away, certain things kept popping into my head, thoughts that I wish I could push away. Not bad thoughts, just new thoughts that my brain was trying to figure out what to do with. When a new thought doesn't have a place yet ... manual labor has a way of forcing the mind to frame thoughts.
I watched Baby Mama in the morning and Derailed at night. I had low expectations for both movies, and I ended up liking both of them. Baby Mama was actually funny -- and I wasn't expecting to see Greg Kinnear, and he played a very likeable character; and, then, in Derailed -- there's just something about Clive Owen that keeps me interested -- as Jennifer Aniston put it, "he's tall, dark and handsome, and you just want to see what he's doing ..." or something like that.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Day 3 of a long headache. Still living at home with the Halloween stuff on the walls, table, and in the front yard. We have a really cool Tim Burtonesque tree on our table. It looks kind of like one of the sculptures in the house in Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas. It's metal, painted black and shadowy and has many arms. It came with goofy, cheerful, ceramic colorful ornaments of pumpkins, spiders, ghosts, bats and cats that don't match the tree. They should be dead and dying things. That seems to be what's happening around here, but the fall colors are still beautiful.
I heard on the radio this morning that the Obama honeymoon period has been short lived. It's only been slightly more than 24 hours since we've learned he won the election. Shouldn't the honeymoon period start after his term of presidency begins? I think a honeymoon period should at least last a couple of years.
On Sunday four of us watched "The Haunting of Molly Hartley." Molly Hartley is a teenager who hears voices and whose mom is trying to kill her. There is a really cute boy who pays attention to her. The cute boy's ex-girlfriend tries to be mean to Molly. Molly is confused and terrified about the voices and her mom's seemingly constant chasing of her with a knife. Later, she is fine.

Monday, November 3, 2008


All this election hype is energizing people to act, think and get involved. That's what's fun and good about politics. That's what I like about sports too. The only thing I like about sports (everything else I detest). I liked the people holding up signs, standing at the big intersections in town today. I liked the energy I saw in the crowds of people and in the newscasters' stories about election coverage on television. Every once in a while, people step outside their safety boxes and decide to live with more life. Oh, and By the wAy, having hope that things will change for the better Makes me feel hAppy.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Night and Day

This has been a confusing and frustrating few days. Amidst the clutter of my life, there are always constant and numerous demands, every day, all the time, just as every other parent who works has: working a stressful, demanding full-time job; transporting children to and from, and then to and from, every day; pulling the food together from the store and the kitchen to feed the hungry; straightening up at home so that we don't trip over the clothes, books, school papers, pens, mail, shoes, and backpacks at home; and trying to meet the emotional needs of the frustrated household members around me, some of which appear to have none, and some of which appear to have very many; and, while I know I'm not describing anything new or unusual, my point is this: when a break from all this appears to be possible, I look forward to it.