Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Today I was thinking about believing in magic. This week, I can find it in amazing coincidences, warm and sunny weather, the feeling of accomplishment that comes with finally installing a kitchen radio that works, an amazing book that I can't stop thinking about or talking about (The Glass Castle), and a lot of laughter.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


On Sunday, I watched Equilibrium, which was a pretty good movie. After the first scene of intense action and mass confusion and dead-serious voiceover, I decided the movie was probably not for me. But then the psychological fiction took over and I was fascinated. In the future, society tries to reach equilibrium by mandating that all citizens take three daily doses of a mind-altering drug that makes them feel no emotions -- no hate, no love, no sorrow, no happiness, and ... no remorse -- in an effort to end war. Christian Bale stars. He smiles once in the movie, and it's a smile that one smiles when one is exasperated.

My computer is having mini-strokes, getting increasingly disturbing as time goes by. Getting ... really ... difficult ... to continue ... functioning. ..... Ergh.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Lot of Energy

I passed by the alluring Chocolate Lovers' Day on my way to the sustainable fair in the new and immaculate Stonewall Jackson resort closer to the middle of the state. The building was beautiful, I got to go for a paddleboat ride, and saw some great artwork and got free wine and cheese. At the sustainable fair, I bought hot pepper jam and watched a movie called "Kilowatt Ours," by a filmmaker from L.A. who was there to talk about making our homes and lives more energy efficient. The film showed some mountains blowing up in West Virginia and how a lot of our coal is causing the mountains to disappear and leave ugly sludge behind. I learned that our electricity is provided about 52 percent by the courtesy of our coal. I liked the question, "where do our resources for electricity come from?" Coal as the answer is not obvious to most of us. So, turn my electric heat down to 68 (*brrrr*) in winter; and my a/c thermostat up to 78 in the summer (just a little uncomfortable, but maybe I can do it). Replace all my old incandescent light bulbs with long-running compact fluorescent lightbulbs. Buy Energy Star appliances. Seal up holes and openings on the outside of the home. And wow! I can save coal and hundreds of dollars on my utility bill each year. Hooray! After hearing about all that, I started thinking about how I don't use enough of what I have in the house already. Instead I'm always thinking about what else I need to buy at the store. I don't need a new CD; I can just listen to some of my favorite songs from five years ago. I don't need to go to Panera for dinner; we can have corn and macaroni and cheese that are right here on the shelf. And then I can recycle the aluminum from the corn can, which can provide enough energy to watch three hours of TV. We planted our own tomato plant, but forgot to bring it home with us.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


I returned the found iPod a few days ago. It wasn't as sad as I expected it to be. I guess iPods can be annoying, the way their earphones tug at your ears, their power shorts out all too often, and they play songs you don't like (especially on the borrowed ones).
When I had the iPod, I was thinking I would be getting one of my own after I returned it to its owner. But now I'm back to Square One, before I got to use it for a few weeks, thinking I have much more important things to be spending my money on, like food, gas, utility bills and car payments.
Tuesday night I watched "Steal this Movie!" and learned about life in the radical '60s and Abbie Hoffman. I didn't know anything about Abbie Hoffman before I watched the movie, and didn't even realize I was getting a movie that was based on a true story. As I watched it, I thought that perhaps his name was a little familiar, but I couldn't be sure. He was so caught up in who he was, being recognized, and making a difference. He obviously did make a lot of difference to some people (maybe a lot of people), but I think his self-centeredness is what killed him. Fame can really get to a person. Especially when the fame has a touch of notoriety to it.
There were a few lines in the movie, or maybe in the interviews about the movie, that talked about how radical people who worked in the 1960s to effectuate change by protesting and being active in government helped advance society to where we are now, by advancing the civil rights movement, advancing women's rights and improving social services for the financially challenged. I wasn't around then, and I wasn't around before then, and I'd never heard it explained that way before. Overall, the movie met my likability standards, which must be pretty high, because it doesn't happen to me too often. I'm not trying to convey that it was a great movie, and I wouldn't go around telling everyone that they have to watch it (I probably wouldn't do that no matter how good a movie or book was); but it had depth, comedy, drama, psychological themes, and it was intellectual. Give me more of that, please, Hollywood!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Bad Movies and Age

"The Object of My Affection," which I watched Friday evening, is one of the worst movies I have seen in a long time. It's one of those movies that has a preview that sums up the entire movie in 30 seconds. That's all you need to see. The story is weak, the acting is mediocre, and Paul Rudd's character is gay. After the movie was over, it continued to disappoint me when I saw that it is in the comedy genre. It was a straight-up drama with absolutely no humor. The movie was also described as having a strong female lead. The female lead character seemed incredibly needy and histrionic, and I would not call her character strong. It did apply to the theme of my last few weeks about letting go of something or someone who is unavailable, about how it's a waste of time and causes a lot of pain that could be avoided if one thought a little more before letting herself become emotionally attached. The scenery was dull, nobody wore interesting outfits, and ... did I mention Paul Rudd's character was gay? I think I did. One interesting thing about the movie to me is that it was released in 1998, and Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston look incredibly young. They both look good now, 11 years later, but it's interesting to see the process of aging of thirty-something people, through a period of 11 years, to forty-something people.
On Thursday, one of my coworkers was cleaning up old piles of papers long forgotten about that were sitting in unused mailboxes. There was a biography of me that I had written, which I had been asked to write, about myself when I first came to the organization I work for nearly six years ago. I realized how much I had been through in the six years of working there, reading through what I had written when I first started. Attached to it was a photo, which I had been asked to provide, of me. The photo was taken about eight years ago. I don't have very many photos of myself, especially in the years following the birth of my children -- that would be the last 14 years. Anyway, my coworker thought it would be funny to put up the biography of me with the photo. He said I look really young in the photo. He didn't quite say everything on his mind, holding back probably to not offend me about how I have changed a lot in the past eight years. I don't get upset about aging; and I feel like I'm improving in wisdom and maturity and taking responsibility as I get older, so it feels like a good thing. About six years ago, I heard the first comment about me getting older, when a friend told me, "You look good for your age." I can't remember if there was a long pause between "you look good" and the qualifier "for your age," but I don't think it matters. I had never felt old until then. I realized that was just the beginning.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Fill In the Blank

This is for my dream trailer friend.

I am
: laughing out loud right now at Stephen Colbert's "I am America (And So Can You!)"

I know: what time it is without looking at the clock.

I won: a cake in a cakewalk once. I predicted it would happen. I saw myself winning it before I won. I was eight.

I have: everything I need.

I hate: rude, cruel, mean people. But I try not to be judgmental.

I miss: my hometown on holidays and some special occasions.

I feel: better when I take a walk.

I smell: salsa. From a nearby empty bowl.

I crave: chocolate. Doesn't matter that it's Easter weekend or not.

I search: for the perfect, upholstered, tasteful chaise lounge for my living room.

I love: the iPod that belongs to my friend, and that I found in the trunk of my car (see first answer about Stephen Colbert).

I care: about being on time, even though I am usually running late.

I always: have been left-handed.

I believe: that there is good in everyone (even those people who are mean, cruel, and rude; they can't be that way all the time).

I sing: when the music is so loud that no one else can hear me.

I write: for my own amusement and for therapeutic value.

I lose: myself in thought way too much for other peoples' comfort.

I never: have experienced an earthquake, tornado or hurricane.

I am scared of: dogs, after recently suffering from a dog bite.

I need: more art, music, creativity and passion in my life.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


I started the morning by grinding coffee beans, and the coffee grinder slipped out of my hands with ground coffee in it, and most of the coffee ended up on the floor, on my feet, and in the cat's food.
It was supposed to be a day off, but for more than one reason, I went to work at 10:45, expected to be there until 1 p.m., and instead got home just before 5 p.m. Just taking a break is challenging and difficult. Life is hard and full of pain. I usually feel happy on Thursdays, but not this time. Nothing good happened today, unless I count the good weather and being able to take a walk. I have lungs, I can breathe in the fresh air, and I have legs, and I can walk, get exercise and feel safe. And listen to my friend's recently found iPod. I wish I didn't have the tendency to discount good things I try to think about when I am in a bad mood and try to think positively.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Poems, Used Furniture and Dance for the Young and Old, Which I Might Call Inspiration

Last night I visited a poetry reading, which, I believe, was the first one I have visited. The poet is a visiting professor at the law school. He had a short law career that he explained had been recently resurrected from the dead, and, otherwise, a long career devoted to teaching and creative writing, among other interesting pursuits such as psychotherapy and baboon-watching.
I was hoping to get some inspiration from him, and I was pleasantly surprised about his ability to read poems in a listenable, likable way, and at the depth of content in the words he used. He is able to say just enough to get a point across, some involving love, loss, awkwardness, bathroom interchanges during a job interview at a law firm, age, youthful deceit and Hungarian peep shows. Behind the poet, who stood in a library room, were rows and rows and rows of Isaac Asimov books. I had no idea he had written so many, many, many books. I haven't read any of them. I do own a short story of his, in an anthology of science fiction short stories, that I plan to read one day.
Thinking about this lawyer/poet's career made me re-visit the past, at the moment that I decided I no longer wanted to be an English major in college. I was 19 at the time and had just completed a British Literature course. I had really enjoyed all my other English-major classes, until British Literature. After I took the class, I wondered what I would be doing with my English degree. I remember my father telling me that one could do just about anything with an English degree, but that didn't help me very much. At any rate, I appreciated the time-travel aspect of re-visiting a career choice and pursuing a degree in English. I picked up a brochure about the creative writing department and a list of books that our local English professors recommend. I also ate a delicious and wholesome-tasting oatmeal-raisin cookie.
Today I spent some time looking at used furniture. The prices at places of charity were even too expensive, for the quality of what I found. I also discovered that the old, neglected mall is slowly transforming itself into a place to sell vast quantities of second-hand stuff. I also saw some senior citizens taking tap-dance lessons through large windows of the senior citizens center that has relocated itself into the large, ghostly mall; and, next door to the tap-dancing senior citizens, a swarm of tiny little girls trying to learn ballet. Ah, how I have exposed myself to diversity today.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


I had a full day of my very own agenda yesterday. I went to a restaurant I had wanted to visit for a few years, but never seemed to manage to make it there. We were the first ones there for dinner, and I think they gave us the best table, which was by a huge window overlooking the town. The food was interesting and delicious. Not too heavy. Lots of added ingredients to make each item have a complex taste.
I wanted to go see "I Love You, Man," but it was such a beautiful day, instead we went for a walk on the Botanic Garden path, which is a loop around a reservoir that my friend and I took twice around. It's flat, quiet (except for several rounds of gunshots fired that we heard very nearby), and has interesting plant formations. It kind of reminds me of the early Dr. Who episodes when the Tom Baker Dr. Who would land in the middle of a sunny field and the unexpected would pop up. But then again, a lot of deserted, sunny meadows make me think of Dr. Who. I loved that Tom Baker.
My friend and I went iPod shopping. She bought a small Phillips MP3 player. I learned a lot about the differences of the brands of little music players. I'm probably going to have to buy one when the owner of the iPod I found comes to reclaim his from me. I will miss it when it's gone. I won't miss the Clutch music on it, though. It seems to like to play more Clutch than anything else when it shuffles its songs.
Instead of seeing "I Love You, Man," with Paul Rudd and Jason Segel, at the theater, I watched "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" with Paul Rudd and Jason Segel at home from Netflix (Paul Rudd just had a tiny part). It was just a coincidence that I had that movie at home already, and that I wanted to go see a movie at the theater with the same actors in it. Forgetting Sarah Marshall was just an OK movie; mildly amusing in parts and not disappointing or bad. I expected a silly comedy, but the story had some substance to it and offered some interesting character development, vacation ideas (Hawaii), and relevant, somewhat realistic, relatable relationship stories to offer. I'm sure it was just as good as "I Love You, Man," would have been. I could not have hoped for a better day.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


We went downtown in the evening, to the library and to the gyro restaurant. We all had lamb and baklava. We saw a wild blonde skateboarder taking control of the sidewalk outside our window, where we had a panoramic view of the streetscape.
Remarkably, there was no sign of Black Leather Jacket Guy anywhere downtown. I wasn't really looking for him, but I know I'd see him if he were there, because he is a fixture.
The smell of meat being grilled outside is everywhere tonight.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


All day I was looking forward to taking a walk with my found iPod. As I set out on my journey, it was all out of battery power, so I walked and listened to the sweet sound of birds. I tried to walk off the stress of work, and it worked, a little. My new route involves a house I have a slight attachment to. A crush, if you will. It has a red-brick exterior, a medium-sized porch, a medium-sized back patio, a small walkway around three-fourths of the house, a bird feeder, a giant kitchen with a bar and plenty of room for a table, a living room with a fireplace and built-in shelves, dining room with two built-in glass corner cabinets, a bedroom on the first floor, a finished room in the basement with a window, a two-car garage, three bathrooms, and two large bedrooms upstairs with dormer windows. In one of the upstairs bedrooms, there is a large walk-in closet that's about as big as a large bathroom or a small office. Both the upstairs bedrooms have extra tiny rooms in the closets, each with little doors. They're like dwarf closets, and they're under the eaves, like a secret hiding place in each bedroom. The only major problem with me developing an attachment to this house is that it probably will never be mine. Some healthier people would never let themselves like things that can never be theirs. They probably wouldn't even listen to or enjoy a found iPod with a thousand awesome songs on it, like I did. They wouldn't want to miss it after it's gone. They probably wouldn't catch themselves trying to figure out why people don't call back or write back to them. They probably don't spend time envying people who don't develop attachments to unavailable people or things, or harbor irrational feelings of attachment. Then again, maybe we're all human.