Monthly Archives: August 2008

More connecting

I met James in high school. He was friends with my high school boyfriend and quickly became my friend as well. He remained my friend long after things were over with the boyfriend, into college, and beyond.

James played drums in a punk band called Images. I was pretty much a groupie or a roadie, depending on whether or not anything needed to be carried that night. We didn’t like a lot of the same things, same movies, same books, not even the same music often, but we seemed to like each other’s company.

James went with me to West Virginia to visit my grandparents and charmed my grandmother so thoroughly that she shared her recipe for spaghetti sauce with him, despite his dreadlocks and crazy clothes. He spent many Christmas Eves at my parent’s house helping to compose the Christmas Eve play . . . until we were almost 20. Once, at a show in Merrifield, Virginia, my stomach was upset, so James found a can of Coke somewhere and spent 10 minutes standing next to me stirring it flat for me with a plastic spoon. We spent Senior Week together in Ocean City, platonically sharing a bed in a hotel room with a couple in the other bed and a guy named Carlos on the floor between the beds who slept with his eyes open. When James took up bodybuilding, I shaved his legs for him while he stood in his parent’s bathtub before his first (and maybe only?) competition. It took an entire pack of disposable razors and his mother stopping by several times to say, “I can’t believe I’m watching you shave my son’s legs.” When I went to college, James would visit often, conking out on my dorm bed, often with my teddy bear. (Yes, I have photographic proof.) He went with me when I got my first tattoo. James signed my high school year book something like this “You are a great friend, but you can be a little intense. If you relax a bit, you’ll be fine.” He’ll probably be embarrassed that he wrote that now, but he knew me well. It was a sound piece of advice then (and probably still.) James was a wonderful friend.

James moved to LA while I was still in college. We managed to stay in contact for many years. He was in my wedding party. I met his LA girlfriend, now wife, Lisa. I heard him preach when he found his calling in the ministry. I met his brand-new baby daughter. Then life got in the way and I lost James until a few weeks ago.

During a late night google search, I finally found him on the blog for his church and I left a comment on one of his posts. A couple of emails later and this afternoon, after 7 years, we reconnected at a family cookout at his parent’s house. Each of us has a spouse and 2 kids. It is amazing to see where life has brought us both and despite that, how much we seem to be the same. I was incredibly fortunate when I was in high school because I met some genuinely good and decent people who have stayed a part of my life. James is in the forefront of that group. If I’m lucky, maybe I’ll post be able to post a picture of us with our grandkids one day.

I am so connected

I’ve got the email and the blog and the flickr account and the Facebook page and a Yahoo Messenger account.

Tonight I’ve managed to figure out how to set up a NewsGator Feed Reeder AND Twitter. (Yes, yes, with help from IT Guy).

I think I have to stop now or I might hurt myself. There is only so much technology my brain can handle in one sitting.

Plus, despite all this connectivity, I really have nothing to say.

Happiness — the editing

If you logged onto my blog several times between 5pm, when I first posted the poem Happiness, and now, you would have seen 6 different versions of the poem. Earlier today, I wrote a 6 page journal entry trying to work out my thoughts about how to answer the question “Are you happy?” There was an article in the Washington Post magazine this past Sunday about a study that identified the Netherlands as home of the happiest people in the world. It got me thinking about happiness. What is it exactly? How do you identify it? How do you answer the question “Are you happy?”

The question has also been in my mind lately because of the renewing of so many old acquaintances and friendships through Facebook. We find each other and then write on each other’s Walls “Hey, how are you? You look great! Your family/job/life looks great!” A few of these exchanges lead to longer messages or sometimes actual real time conversations and someone says, “You seem so happy. Are you happy?”

In my journal, I wrote pages trying to figure out how to answer that question. For my last sentence, I wrote, “Happiness is like my freckles, millions of small specks, spreading.” The idea is that happiness is in small moments, not necessarily in rich/great job/perfect family/perfect life with no strife kinds of moments. You take stock of all the happy moments and if they outweigh the unhappy/the stressful/the conflict, then you are happy. And if you recognize those small moments, you are likely to recognize even more small happinesses and bring more happiness into your life — it spreads.

I felt that last sentence I wrote for the entry really encapsulated my thinking, so I tossed it up on the blog. As I typed it, I thought “Hey, it’s a poem.” I posted it and walked away.

But I wasn’t done. You would think a 10 word poem would just be done, but you would be wrong. I came back to the blog 6 times and every time, I found something that wasn’t quite right. I changed it 6 times and now I’ve finally got it the way I want it — still 10 words, but much less like a Snoopy bumper sticker and more like a complete thought (I hope.) Since I edited it on-line, I thought I’d go ahead and post the editing to show the growth of the poem from start to finish. Each one of these was posted here as “the finished poem” — for at least 10 minutes.

1

Happiness is like freckles

millions of small specks

spreading.

2.

Happiness is like freckles

millions of specks

spreading.

3.

Happiness is freckles

million of specks

spreading.

4.

Happiness is freckles,

a million specks

spreading in the sun.

5.

Happiness (now the title)

Like freckles

a million specks

spreading in the sun.

6.

Happiness

Like freckles

a million moments

spreading in the sun.

Happiness

Like freckles

a million moments

spreading in the sun.

Too many books

I’ve often said, “You can’t have too many books.”  I am a voracious reader.  I always have been.  I am the child who read under the covers by flashlight late into the night.  I used to read while walking through the halls of my high school between classes, just so I could squeeze in half a chapter of the latest story to captivate my imagination.  I live inside a good book.  Reading the last sentence and closing the book is like surfacing from the deep end of the pool, gasping for air and momentarily disoriented.  When I was in college and then grad school, I learned to keep a running list of books I wanted to read during winter and summer break.  I was an English major and then I was getting my Master’s in literature.  I had so much reading to do that I couldn’t afford to read a book just because it captured my interest.  The first trip to a book store after I finished my degrees was heady and overwhelming.  I wandering through the fiction aisles amazed that I could pick anything, anything at all to read.  It was like one giant Christmas morning.

Books take up space, though and I live in a small house with an even smaller office.  Two of the three walls have book shelves to the ceiling, but it still isn’t enough space for someone who devours at least one book a week.  My bookshelves are crammed with books — some are neatly shelved, but on top of those are books sideways, books in piles, books wedged into any available space — and now there is no more space.  So it is time.  Time to cull the books.

It is so hard to decide what stays and what goes.  Books from grad school versus beach reads.  Books I really enjoyed, but will probably never return to read again.  Books I can’t remember ever reading.  Books that were so influential I just like to have them nearby.

Those I discard will go to a good home.  First stop will be my mother’s women’s group who will pick them over.  Then they will be donated to a program that provides books to low-income women.  They will be read and loved again.  It is still hard to pack them away though.

It is like boxing up a bunch of old friends.

The Pottycycle

Seriously, how can you not love the County Fair?  Now this is a perfect example of good ol’ American ingenuity.  You can hit the road, look cool and not have to make any stops.  What’s not to love?  I wonder how you flush it?

Remembering the things I love

Today Ace, Tink and I tagged along with our neighbors for a little field trip to Great Falls National Park. I have been there several times before, but not for years. It is absolutely breathtaking and it is only 20 minutes from my house. Why do I keep forgetting about the amazing things so close to home? It was a beautiful day — low humidity, cool breeze and bright blue skies. We hiked along the tow path for a bit then took the Observation trail to the Overlook. From the Overlook you can see the amazing waterfalls as the Potomac River pours through the boulder formations of Great Falls. We saw a kayaker put into the river. Two loons flew over. Tink immediately discovered the joys of bouldering. She spent much of the afternoon scrambling up the biggest boulders she could find. She is going to be a rock climber. Ace and his friend, P, had out their binoculars and notepads playing adventurers. At first, I thought they were checking out the native wildlife, but it turns out they were looking for T-Rexs. We didn’t see any, thank goodness.

As I was standing on the Overlook in the afternoon sun listening to the crashing of the water, I felt more relaxed than I have for days. I remembered how much I love being outside in the woods. Hiking is one of my favorite things to do and we never do it anymore. It is like I had kids and forgot the things that I loved that weren’t convenient to my new mommy status. My kids are old enough for hiking now, but I got into the habit of not remembering those inconvenient things I love. Judging from my kid’s complete absorption in bouldering and looking for toads and snails and adventuring around, they’ll love the hiking life too. It’s time to get back to it. Now I remember.

Therapy

What is the best therapy for enduring an afternoon where your 9-year-old throws a 2 hour tantrum and completely trashes his bedroom?

A surprise night out with the husband when two last minute sleepovers materialize and suddenly I am without kids. (thank you, thank you, thank you, Laurie and Gina.)

The plan? Shoes, Sushi and Movie.

First, I found the shoes at DSW.

Cole Haan thongs with Nike Air technology (those air bubble things) in the heels. Very cute and oh, so comfy. . . . I had to take a picture of the shoes while I was waiting for IT Guy.

Here is the IT Guy waiting for his wife whom he can’t find because she is off in a corner taking pictures of her shoes . . . .

We had sushi at one of my current favorite restaurants, The Asian Bistro. I love the Rainbow Maki.

Then we engaged in one of our favorite past times, poking around the bookstore.

Finally, we went to see The Dark Knight which I really didn’t like. IT Guy wasn’t too impressed either. We must be the only 2 people on the planet who didn’t care for it. But that was OK because I was sitting quietly in the dark, holding hands with the husband and no one was saying “Mama!”

Good therapy

A Summer Search & Find puzzle

A little summer themed search & find puzzle for you all.

Where’s Tink?

Taking it back

I’ve been a little reluctant to post for the past few days what with all the grasshopper insanity. The grasshoppers invaded the beach and my blog. I”m still shocked my non-post about the grasshoppers has generated so much attention. If you scroll down to the Grasshopper post, you’ll see 20 comments and they are still coming in. Up to this point, the most comments I’ve ever attracted is 8 on the post about my enormous electric bill. At last check, the grasshopper video had 156 views on You Tube. I had 426 views on my blog in the last 24 hours and it is all from people looking for grasshopper information. It is nuts.

At first, it was pretty heady stuff. All of a sudden all these people I don’t know were coming here to read what I have written. I felt so . . . well . . . popular. For a few moments, I considered compiling all the information I could find about grasshoppers, both in and out of the ocean, and posting it as a way to keep the viewers. I could be the Grasshopper Lady — web authority on all things grasshopper and my blog stats would continue to climb! But . .. but I’m not really all that interested in grasshoppers. It was interesting and weird to find them on the beach, but I’m pretty much over it now and ready to move on. I know once I start writing my usual stuff — like this — my viewer numbers will drop. My readers will resume being me, my dance friends, my neighbor, IT Guy, occasionally my sister, my ex-boyfriend-now-friend, his wife and my mother.

It is tempting to try and stay popular though. It is tempting to try and write to an audience to get attention. But I have to write about what I want to write about and if the end of most posts reads “No comments” so be it.