Monday, November 20, 2006

Stop this Train

I've been feeling very mushy and sentimental and introspective today. Maybe it's the holidays. I love the holidays. I love fall and winter and dressing in layers and new coats and red cheeks and heated car seats and snuggling on the couch with a fleece blankie and the smell of fireplaces on the night air and the clear, starry nights you only get in winter and seeing my breath on the air and hot drinks and comfort food and CHRISTMAS MUSIC and CHRISTMAS MOVIES . . . and presents for pretty girls . . . and all that the season brings. Yeah. My family and friends mock me mercilessly about the CHRISTMAS MUSIC and MOVIES. Can I just say, without shame or apology, that last night we watched A Charlie Brown Christmas AND Muppet Christmas Carol. And I'm breaking out the Christmas stuff this weekend. So there. Thpbbbbbtttttt.

And I love getting together with my family - stepbrothers and cousin-who's-like-a-sister and their kids and grandkids. This rather large group (20+ adults and 4 or 5 little ones) gathered at my house yesterday for our yearly Thanksgiving dinner. We all live in the metroplex, but due to the natural order of life that makes people too busy with their daily lives/work/friends/immediate family to have time to do much else, we only gather twice a year - Thanksgiving and Christmas - unless there is a funeral or a wedding.

I love my family. They are a fun, intelligent, witty group of people who enjoy life to the fullest and have managed to get through many, many years with very little drama at all. That's quite an accomplishment in this day of the proud banner of dysfunction that so many families live under. And every single time we gather, I find myself hungry for more time. More time to spend talking to each individual that I love so much, to find out what's been happening in their life in the past year, how they are feeling, what they are planning for the future. Just reacquainting. And there is never enough. Never enough time, not for me. The women tend to gather in one room, talking and tending the kids, and the guys in another, watching football, as in most families. And I never seem to get around to talking to everyone - when it's at my home, it's even worse since I'm also playing hostess and overseeing the kitchen doings.

Yesterday as we were talking, I was remembering and reminding the others of the great times years ago, when our now grown-with-children-of-their-own kids were the little ones in the family, and we were a smaller group, and we used to gather at my dad and stepmom's home and stay for hours, drinking Margaritas (made fresh in the blender by my dad), eating pie, playing spades, just laughing and hanging out. During those years, we all lived closer to each other, and actually did things together sometimes through out the year, including family birthday parties, etc.

I miss those days so much. I miss the leisurely family gatherings where no one had to get to another family thing, or back home to check their email and plan a business trip, or just to hit the road because they live an hour away. I know time marches on and life changes, and we are all very blessed now to have good jobs and great kids and grandkids and are all in a very good place in life (though several of us have lost parents already). But it just seems the older I get, I cherish those close family ties all the more, I guess knowing they won't be there forever.

So, as I watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving on TV while writing this (not one of the best, by the way - can't hold a candle to A Charlie Brown Christmas, which still makes me misty when Linus recites the lines from the King James version of Mark's Christmas Story, or It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, my second favorite) - well, I just want to say that I love and cherish my family and I wish we had more time together. I wish life wasn't so busy. I wish they weren't so busy. I wish I wasn't so busy. But we make our choices and we live with the results, and that's just how life goes.

There's a song on John Mayer's new album, Continuum, that perfectly expresses how I've been feeling lately. In fact, the first time I heard it, I was startled by the raw emotion it brought up in me, speaking things I didn't even realize I felt, and choking back tears (and I rarely cry) with the poignancy and truth of the words:

STOP THIS TRAIN (by John Mayer)

No I'm not colorblind
I know this world is black and white
I try to keep an open mind
But I just can't sleep on this tonight

Stop this train
I want to get off
And go home again
I can't take the speed it's moving in
I know I can't
But honestly, won't someone stop this train?

Don't know how else to say it
I don't want to see my parents go
One generation's length away
From fighting life out on my own

Stop this train
I want to get off
And go home again
I can't take the speed it's moving in
I know I can't
But honestly, won't someone stop this train?

So scared of getting older
I'm only good at being young
So I play the numbers game
To find a way to say that life has just begun

Had a talk with my old man
Said "help me understand"
He said "turn sixty-eight"
"You'll renegotiate"
"Don't stop this train
Don't for a minute change the place you're in
And don't think I couldn't ever understand
I tried my hand
John, honestly we'll never stop this train"

Once in a while, when it's good
It'll feel like it should
And they're all still around
And you're still safe and sound
And you don't miss a thing
Till you cry when you're driving away in the dark
Stop this train
I want to get off
And go home again
I can't take the speed it's moving in
I know I can't
Cause now I see I'll never stop this train

(here's a link to listen - Listen to Stop This Train by John Mayer on Rhapsody:

Yeah. I miss my dad. I miss my mom. I don't really want to go back, because there is so much that is good and lovely and amazing about life today. But sometimes . . . just sometimes . . . I'd love to have a time machine to relive some of those good times. When you get to be my age, there's a lot to look back on. Many regrets, to be sure, but also many times that were good enough for reruns.

I only want to get off sometimes . . . mostly I just wish it would slow down and even take a rest stop once in a while.

Monday, September 11, 2006

MILFS on Parade???

If you don't know what the acronym MILF means, I will not elaborate here, but you may get the idea when you read this post. I just heard a news item about auditions being held for a new reality show to choose . . . wait for it . . . AMERICA'S HOTTEST MOM!!!! Yes, folks, we are sinking further into the miry pit of decadence, when we are prepared to crown a woman for being a HOT mom, not a GREAT mom, or a FUN mom, or a LOVING mom, or a WISE mom, or a TENDER mom, or any of those qualities that most of us would revere in our own moms. Most of the teenagers I am friends with (and there are quite a few) would likely gag and flail around and utter phrases like "ewwwwww, that is grosssssssssss" or "omigod, that's disgusting" or some such thing, if you mentioned to them that their mom might enter such a contest.

The saddest thing of all, of course, is that this is EXACTLY the kind of programming that will continue to illustrate for our young girls that BEING HOT is of course the MOST desirable character trait they should be aiming for as they grow up. And we all know that today, HOT also means big boobs and an otherwise skeletal body, over-made up faces, hair extensions, and so on. And AMERICA WILL WATCH, probably in huge numbers, because for some reason, we (that's the generic "WE" referring to America as a unit, not the personal "we" that includes myself) cannot seem to look away from these "reality" train wrecks. Barf.

On a related note, speaking of a HOT mom, apparently Anna Nicole Smith gave birth to a baby girl last week, and then yesterday her 20 year old son was found dead in his room (he was in the Bahamas with her for the birth of her baby). No reason so far, but they are investigating. Now, no matter what I think of this poor wreck of a woman, my heart goes out to her in the loss of her child - no one, no matter what their lifestyle, should EVER have to bury their own child. On the other hand, one has to wonder how messed up this young man may have been by all the media circus that has been his mother's life for the last five years or more. He was occasionally on her reality show, which I confess I did watch a few times, and he always looked quite uncomfortable being on camera. I hope that I am wrong, and that she is not just a HOT mom, but a loving one, and that her new child will have a happy life.

Just ask any kid what they are looking for in a mom, and I'll guarantee you "HOT" is not on the list . . . anywhere. Unless it is used in the phrase "HOT chocolate chip cookies." As my grandson Sam observed after watching Lord of the Beans (a Veggie Tales video), when seeing that the bad guys (the Sporks) were pacified by the Keebler Elf (you have to see the show) - they have happy eyes now because they had some cookies and they feel better." Yeah, I'm thinking that what America needs right now is not a Hottest Mom . . . just imagine being her kids . . .

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

I see London, I see France . . .

Warning, this post may offend some, but I feel I must comment on something I've been seeing a lot on the Internet. As most of you know, I regularly read a number of entertainment blogs and websites just cuz that's my thing . . . I love movies and TV and reading about celebrity stuff - TO A POINT. However, a new trend has become the NSFW (not safe for work) photos of celebrities accidentally showing things that aren't really meant to be seen, because the paparazzi now take candid shots, rather than posed, and as we move around in the world, sometimes things peek out. The trend is the Nip Slip (don't guess that one needs explanation), and more horrifying, the Upskirt shot.

Now, first of all, many of these embarrassing views - and I use the word "embarrassing" loosely, because I honestly think many of these folk (can you say Paris Hilton?) are not in the least bit embarrassed - could be avoided by the use of FREAKIN' UNDERWEAR, PEOPLE!!!! You know, bras, panties, those things that Vicki's Secret so enticingly and erotically advertises during the family hour on TV. I guess I can understand, at least with some clothing, not wearing a bra, but what the heck is the deal with NO PANTIES!!!! In a short dress!!!! Do we really need to see that? Geez, I thought thongs solved the Visible Panty Line fashion faux pas.

The latest in these nausea-inducing photos came to my attention this morning as I was following a link to see photos of Suri Cruise (who, by the way, is a startlingly beautiful child). There was a photo of everyone's favorite media ho, Lindsay Lohan, in a dress that kinda blew up as she stepped into a boat or something, and you could clearly see, well, her parts, clearly enough to see that she waxes . . . I feel gross just writing this, but you get my drift. Now, this is bad enough on its own, but THE DRESS WAS A LOOSE FITTING, PLEATED BABY DOLL DRESS!!!! No way could you see panty lines in that dress even if you had granny pants on! I can only draw the conclusion that she is trying to clear up a nasty rash with fresh air, or making sure she's prepared for an amorous encounter on the fly. The girl is barely 21 years old. Sodom and Gomorrah, here we come . . .

Okay, now I need a shower . . .

Monday, August 07, 2006

It's a dessert topping! No wait, it's a floor polish!

First, a disclaimer - I realize the title of this entry may be obscure, but if you are a fan of vintage SNL, you will get it. Snark.

I am constantly amazed at the workings of the toddler mind, and the light-speed at which they change gears from one idea to the next. My grandson Sam is over this morning. He found a cardboard wrapping paper roll in my bedroom, and within about 10 minutes, it magically became a baseball bat, sword, guitar, horn, and telescope. When in the telescope mode, he announced matter-of-factly, "I'm looking for my mom with my telescope." Well of course. Makes perfect sense in toddler-land.

He has been making baseball bats out of things since he was about 18 months old. He also makes drum sticks (not the chicken, the musical instrument) out of silverware, straws, chopsticks, and anything else even remotely in the same shape. This sounds very cute until he hits the TV screen with the makeshift bat, or is loudly playing the drums on the table at the nice restaurant and the patrons are giving you that "look" . . . you know the look, the one that says "why must you bring your ill-mannered cave-child into public places? You need to be on Supernanny." Hmmmpf. People have forgotten what it's like to be a kid, if you ask me.

We spend so much money on high-tech toys and toys that feature favorite cartoon or movie characters, trying to entertain our children. But then we find it's the box they want to play with, or the popcorn packing, or the bubble wrap. Maybe we should start shopping at the local Mailbox Etc. store.

Kids can make a toy out of almost any object around the house if left to their own imaginations. Every little boy knows how to make a gun or a sword out of many household objects, including breadsticks, silverware, napkins, straws, hairbrushes, flip flops, toothbrushes . . . I don't care how much you say you don't want to allow your little boy to play with toy weapons, if you don't give him some, he'll find his own.

My 15-year-old son still has a large metal can full of swords, guns, etc., lovingly saved from childhood. He guards them carefully, and does not like Sam to play with them, lest they get broken (Sam is our little Tazmanian Devil - Andy was very careful with his toys). The can also includes several sticks carefully collected from the yard. I can't tell you how many sticks I threw out over the years, but a few were just too perfectly shaped to destroy.

He is not a violent or aggressive boy, but he did have an extremely active imagination as a child, and had quite a penchant for any movie that involved fight scenes, with swordplay being the battle of choice. He discovered "The Princess Bride" at about age 3 or so, and for many months we watched it at least twice a week. The watching also involved putting one of my scarves on his head, though he was quite upset that I was not willing to cut eyeholes in it for a more authentic look. He also donned my black scrunchy boots (remember those?), and had a sword tucked in yet another scarf tied around his waist. In fact, most of his favorite movies involved getting into the appropriate costume so that he could become one of the characters and act out the movie as he watched it. We had interactive video long before it was on the market . . .

He later moved on to other movies, but we always knew that if a movie came out that was set anywhere in the past, we'd be there. Three Musketeers, Man in the Iron Mask, Count of Monte Cristo, Highlander, Conan the Barbarian, Excalibur, First Knight, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, and many others which I'm sure I'm forgetting, including Braveheart later on when he was older (he understood once he finally saw it why we would not let him see it as a little boy). Nowadays, we have Troy, King Arthur, Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven, and many others.

I miss those days of childhood "pretend." We watched and grinned and tried not to embarrass him. He still hates it when I tell a story about his movie dress up days, though I keep telling him that someday when he has his own kids, he will enjoy sharing it with them. But now we have a new generation of pretender, and I plan to watch and grin and giggle, and try not to embarrass, all over again.

Monday, July 31, 2006

I'm baaaaaaaccccck . . .

Okay, so I haven't posted in quite a while. Actually, it's rather embarrassing how long it's been, considering that I keep saying I want to be a writer. But in my defense, my life has been so busy in the last few months that, though I have had many things happen worth blogging about, actually finding time to sit down and write them down seems to have been impossible. Okay, that's a bit dramatic. I have just chosen to use what little free time I've had doing other mindless activities such as watching movies and surfing the internet, two of my very favorite pastimes. Did I mention this is a confessional-style blog?

I must also sheepishly confess that once I start writing, I can't seem to quit. Now, those of you who know me well (she says confidently as though this blog has many readers who do not know her well) will immediately smile when you read the above statement, as you also know the same problem occurs pretty often when I start talking. You know how they say men have X number of words in a day, and women have X number, and the woman's word count is much higher? Well, I think somehow I got a double portion, and I occasionally get a little reality check when someone comments about how much I talk. It has been hinted that I need one of those shirts that says "I'm talking and I can't shut up." Hmmmmphf. I'm colorful and garrulous. (insert raspberry sound here). Truthfully, I keep hoping that if I can write on a regular basis, perhaps it will use up some of those words so I don't drive my friends and loved ones crazy. That's one theory, anyway.

So, let me sum up (Princess Bride reference for you fans). In the months since my last blog:

  • I completed a huge project for the nonprofit organization I do research and editing for, and participated in the launch of the Web site. That kinda dominated my life for several months. Lots of hours, fun work.
  • I went to youth camp with my church's youth group. Yeah, I'm getting too old for that . . . almost. I'll probably end up like the old man sponsor one of our girls referred to as being about 108. He was pretty old, with a combover and skinny legs, but I had to give him props for still being out there hanging with the kids. I'll keep going as long as they'll have me.
  • I went on a trip to New Orleans with one of my closest girlfriends to do some preliminary work for our youth's mission trip later in the summer (they went in July, without me). Thelma and Louise we ain't, but that trip deserves a separate blog entry, to be posted later.
  • On June 22, our new granddaughter, Jillian Elizabeth Taylor, was born. She is heavenly, and also has earned her own entry (the first among many, I'm sure) along with photos. Jilly is also the reason I did not go on the mission trip in July - stayed home to help out her mommy with her and big brother Sam.
  • We have been in the process of converting our garage into a game/family room since about April. Remember the movie "The Money Pit?" Two weeks. My house has been full of drywall dust and dirt for months. The room is now in livable shape, new furniture has arrived, and things are on the road back to normalcy. That process also will receive a detailed entry, but it has underscored everything else going on around here for waaaaay too long. Yep, more on this later too.
  • I am now in the middle of a new project for FCE (the nonprofit). My job title is Research Consultant (hehehhe), and I am currently doing research to update and rewrite the Arts & Culture section of Dallas Indicators, a Web site set up by FCE to include information that measures how Dallas is doing in various segments of community growth, etc. I totally don't know what the heck I'm doing, and am really overwhelmed, and yet excited to be doing something really interesting and challenging. All while working from my sofa, or kitchen table, or bed, or whereever I happen to decide to work that day. Pretty cool.
  • I am in denial that it's already August and before you know it school will start again. We are facing all those school issues - athletics physical, schedule pickup, finishing the summer reading project (a dialectical journal of A Separate Peace), getting supplies, new shoes, etc. Andy will be starting cross country soon, and he's gonna be so miserable because he did absolutely no training over the summer, in spite of my constant nagging. Oh well, not my problem. Except it is, because I'm the mom. More on that later too.
  • On the same note (that it's already August), I have been swimming in our pool quite a bit this summer, but still want to do more. We finally got our pool looking so good, and we have been trying to use it as often as possible, inviting friends over, etc. Isn't it funny how in July you feel like summer will go on forever, and then August comes and you get that "end of summer letdown" before summer's really over? Always kinda puts a wet blanket on my August. Hmmm, that may be a topic on its own.

Clearly I've had lots to write about, and I am vowing here and now in the presence of whatever random people may read this that I WILL write about each of these topics and will try to blog at least 2 or 3 times a week. So many funny things happen, and I say to myself "gotta write aboubt this one," only to get busy, time passes and I forget. Bad idea for an aspiring writer . . .

Enough for now. I've also been told that my blogs are too long; that I need chapters and a bibliography . . . whatever. I yam what I yam. Love me or leave me. Fish or cut bait. Poop or get off the pot. Pick your own metaphor . . .

Monday, April 17, 2006

Poop Happens

If you hate grandchild stories from besotted grandparents, then you might want to move on to another page. If you know me, you know Sam is the light of my life (until Jillian comes) and I never miss a chance to brag on him, or in this case, tell a hilarious story that someday will come back to haunt him when he's 15 (Andy can attest to those stories).

The other day, Lindsay and Sam dropped by for a brief visit, mainly to get out of Mike's way while he was doing some home remodeling. I was cooking dinner - pause here while you pick your jaw up off the floor - for our music minister, Paul, who was batching it while his wife and daughter were out of town, hence invoking the rule of feeding your bachelor guy friends. Sam mentioned he need to go potty, and Lindsay just told him to go on in my bathroom. I sent a questioning glance her way, and she assured me he was quite able to go on his own (he's two), and we both assumed he just needed to pee.

When he wasn't back in a few minutes, she went to check on him, and then I hear "Oh NO!" from the bathroom. I was rushing around trying to get dinner ready on time, so I didn't investigate, though I briefly wondered what kind of trouble he might have gotten into in my bathroom - makeup, toothpaste, hair products - well the list is endless for an adventurous 2-year old.

Then, a few minutes after that, Sam came running into the living room and proclaimed, rather loudly, "I poop everywhere! I need a bath!" Andy and I roard with laughter, and I went into the bathroom to check out the damage. When I walked in, my nostrils were assaulted by the odor of - well you get my drift - and Lindsay was rinsing Sam's shorts and underpants in the sink, doubled over with laughter. I noticed a nice stain on the rug next to the toilet and thought, well, I can probably get that out. I was still laughing, and then Lindsay exclaimed, "What is THAT?!!!" I won't get too graphic here, but apparently something didn't digest too well, and by now she was laughing so hard she could hardly catch her breath, and I was laughing both at what had happened, and at her laughing. Laughter is contagious - you know those times when you and someone else are laughing, and pretty soon everything is funny and you can't stop.

I came back in the living room, still laughing, and Paul and Andy were in Andy's room playing a video game. I went in to tell them what happened and Sam had just walked in (shirt only, bare bottomed). Paul called him over and pulled him up in his lap, and Sam wriggled away, saying "No, I have poop on me!" I collapsed into more laughter, and went to tell Lindsay, who was STILL laughing in the bathroom, spraying the Oust and about to wet her pants (she's 7 months pregnant).

Needless to say, that was one of our funniest Sam episodes to date, and provided us with a good half hour of belly laughter (very good for the body and the soul). Those are the moments that make this GiGi proud!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Movie Poll of the Week

You should have one favorite movie that makes you laugh, one that shakes you up, and one that makes you cry. Here are mine:

Laugh - If the criteria is how close I came to peeing my pants or passing out from lack of oxygen, I'd have to say a tie between Return of the Pink Panther (the very best of the series by a million miles) and There's Something About Mary (the first time I saw it). Laughed so hard in Pink Panther people were getting aggravated because I kept laughing into the next scene. In Mary, just thought I was never gonna catch my breath. My favorite scene is the one where Matt Dillon tries to revive the dog with the lamp cord. And I confess, I am a huge fan of the Austin Powers movies. Own all three of them. Guilty as charged. In fact, there is a huge list of movies that I love that make me laugh a lot. When Harry Met Sally, Stripes, Wedding Crashers, Anchorman, 40-Year Old Virgin, O Brother Where Art Thou, Princess Bride, just to name a few. I really do enjoy sophisticated humor too, but it's the sophomoric, goofy, silly humor that makes me spit up. Also, Arrested Development - funniest.TVshow.ever. Canceled. Sad.

Shakes Me Up - Most recently, definitely Crash. But in a good way. Every person in America should see this movie (see my previous post for my thoughts on this film). And any movie about the Holocaust - most recently The Pianist. Brilliant but hard to watch.

Cry - My all time favorite movie ever, To Kill a Mockingbird. After the trial when the black minister says "Stand up, Miss Jean Louise, your father's passin'." Gets me choked up every time. Also when Scout meets Boo Radley face to face finally. Second place is The Way We Were. I know, don't even say it. But at the time that movie came out, there were things in my life that it touched regarding the nature of love. At the end, when Katie sees Hubbell and pushes the hair out of his eyes, and says "Your girl is lovely, Hubbell." Sniff. That scene says so much about the bittersweet aftermath of a love that just wasn't meant to be, no matter how much you wanted it to be.

I want to add another category. What's your favorite movie about love and romance that makes you just feel really good? Not tragedy, not mush, but real and true. I have two, and Jay and I never get tired of watching them because they speak so profoundly about the nature of real love. Something's Gotta Give (no particular scene, just the whole darn movie), and Love Actually (especially the restaurant scene between Colin Firth and the Portuguese girl - won't say more in case you haven't seen it) (Also the opening and closing scenes at the airport - LOVE LOVE LOVE THEM). If you have not seen these movies, I highly recommend them whether you are currently in love or not. They will give you hope. And make you smile and feel all warm and fuzzy inside. And who doesn't need to feel hopeful and warm and fuzzy now and then?

Hmm, guess my THREE movies was really more of a listing. Feel free to do the same.

Please give me your comments, friends!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Post Office 101

Recently I had to make a trip to my neighborhood U.S. Post Office to mail something. I had to stand in line because I needed to (a) purchase a large envelope and (b) send the item Certified Mail. Well, it was sort of late in the day, after 5pm I think, and there was quite a long line. There were three people behind the counter, but one of them had a "Window Closed" sign up (though there is not technically a window, but I digress).

Post Office Employee 1 was a young African American woman. When I got far enough up in line to observe the various people, I noticed that the man in line with her was chatting her up with several stories that he apparently found very amusing. He was probably in his 50s or 60s, and had quite a few things to mail, apparently of different sorts because it appeared she was doing a separate transaction for each one, all the while politely smiling and chatting with him. As the line grew longer. But she WAS polite and friendly.

Post Office Employee 2 was the aforementioned "Window Closed" lady. She was actually still at her post doing some sort of tasks, I think related to closing out her station. She seemed to be counting checks, money, etc., totaling out her register, etc. The thing I noticed about her was that she was conducting all these tasks as though underwater. I have never seen anyone move so slowly and deliberately who did not have some sort of handicap or was really old. This woman was probably not a whole lot older than me. Now I suspect that, being Government employees, they must shut down their station when they are scheduled off, regardless of how many patrons are still in line. But it is a little disconcerting to see someone who brings to mind the tale of the Tortoise and the Hare (her being the Tortoise) milling around glancing up at the line and yet making no acknowledgment that there were probably 20 people waiting to do their postal transactions.

Post Office Employee 3 was a woman in her 50s I'm guessing, though since I am now in my 50s, I find it is much harder to guess someone's age. I don't look my age, or so I've been told (and I have to confess I agree - good genes), and yet I know of a number of people who are actually younger than me but look quite a bit older. Anyway, this woman has bleached blondish-gray hair, too long for her age, and looooong red fingernails. I observed her and noted that she took the time with pretty much every single person to fully explain their myriad postal mailing options in great detail. She was very nice, very polite, and seemed to be willing to take all the time necessary to educate people on the intricacies of the United States Postal Service and help them make the most cost and time effective choice for the particular postal needs. But I found myself wondering, don't most ordinary people, unless they have never ever held a job or have lived a very sheltered life, already KNOW the basics of say, the difference between Certified Mail and Priority Mail and Book Rate, etc.? I mean, if you have ever worked in an office, you have had some kind of experience with mailing something. But most of these people seemed as though they had never set foot in a post office before in their lives. It was surreal.

The next odd thing I noticed was that there were two women standing sort of behind the "windows" area, kind of halfway behind a partition around which the employees go to put mail in some sort of bins or whatever. One of these women was holding a clipboard, and she kept stepping around the corner, looking out at the growing line of patrons, several of whom were holding large boxes and getting a bit agitated. She would look at the crowd, look at her clipboard, smile at us, smile and say something to the other woman, and step back around the corner. This happened quite a few times while I was standing in line, and several people commented to each other about this woman, and about Employee 2 and why she didn't open her window back up since it was obvious they needed more help. I found myself wondering what the woman had on her clipboard - was she doing some sort of postal traffic after 5pm survey, some kind of assessment of customer service, some rating of how quickly the employees processed the customers . . . trying to see how long the line would have to get before someone started to get ugly? Who the heck knows.

I must say that the employees were polite and nice, and we all know that sometimes postal employees can be a bit surly, though I've never understood why. The job pays good and doesn't look all that hard. But I was thinking that day that most of those people who were tired and ready to go home and have dinner or play with their kids or crash in front of their TV or whatever would have gladly traded the pleasant chatting and Post Office 101 classes for a little speedy processing and fast service.

I'm just sayin . . .

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Well this is just funny . . .

Took a poll, and apparently I'm Spiderman. Meh. My least favorite superhero. What's up with that? I wanted to be Batman. Oh well, maybe I should take another look at Spidey . . .

Your results:

You are Spider-Man

You are intelligent, witty, a bit geeky, and have great power and responsibility.

Green Lantern
Wonder Woman
The Flash
Iron Man

Click here to take the Superhero Personality Test

Okay, yes, I am intelligent, witty, and probably more than a bit geeky. Not sure about the power part, or the responsibility. Now if only I could throw the web from my palm and swing all over the place - THAT would be cool!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Life and Work

Man, I have always thought of myself as a disciplined, scheduled person. But now that I'm telecommuting most of the time, I am finding it a huge challenge to make myself stay on task and work the appropriate number of hours. It's just too easy to stop and have a snack, watch something on TV, do some chores, catch up on email, read stuff on the net, blah blah blah. No one is here to watch me or know when I'm working and when I'm not.

I have found that if I stay in my jammies all day, I am much less productive. Now that makes absolutely no sense really, but I have done scientific studies (well, not exactly scientific, but I have noticed . . .). Staying in your jammies sounds so appealing, but you end up kinda feeling like you are home on a sick day from work and so you feel like napping and reading and stuff, not much like you are at the office.

Don't get me wrong, I am so totally blessed to have the opportunity to work at home and do something I love. It's just been a new and unexpected challenge. The best part of it is, I get to plan my work around my life, not my life around my work. I am working at finding the balance, and it's really sometimes hard to believe I am actually able to do this. I never thought I'd get here.

Now if I could just make time in my day for working on my novel . . .

Potty Boot Camp

So, my grandson Sam is in Potty Boot Camp this week. The goal is to get him potty trained and out of diapers before the new baby arrives in July. Lindsay is spending most of the week at home, letting him run around "nakey" as he calls it, or in his "underwears" so that he will more likely use the potty chair. Now, this is not just any old potty chair, it plays music when you sit on it. I think they should make one that only plays music if you actually go, but that's another jump in technology I guess. Anyway, he is doing great so far. He receives a piece of "potty candy" every time he successfully uses the potty. This is apparently a big incentive for a 2 year old. Only one piece, but still, it's candy. And, he can take out the potty "pot" (the removable part that you dump in the toilet" and empty it and flush himself as well. Mommy usually supervises this activity for obvious reasons.

The other day, Lindsay said he got out of bed in the morning and went potty all on his own before he came to get her up. Then, when he did come to wake mommy, he proudly brought the potty "pot" to show mommy. Apparently, he had quite a supply of pee to unload as he had just gotten up (you know how guys are in the morning), and it seems quite a bit sloshed on his gleeful journey into mommy's bedroom. But he was so proud of himself that she just couldn't bring herself to scold him for the sloshing. She still isn't sure if he actually cognitively felt the need to go, or if he just noticed the potty on his way to her room and decided it would be fun to go since it was right there.

Last night at church he was running around hollering "underwears, underwears." I guess that would be unseemly in a teen or adult, but it's quite endearing when a toddler does it. Gotta make a big deal out of everything to do with potty training so they will want to keep doing it, until their little body finally understands the whole process.

Next will come the tying of the shoes I guess . . . they grow up way too fast.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Who's in Control Here?

I have recently been thinking a lot on the subject of God's sovereign control over my life. I have a situation that has been bugging me, basically something that I really, really want to happen, and it has become pretty clear that this thing is NOT going to happen for me. I have agonized and prayed and wrestled with the why of it all, wondering why God would not give me this thing that would mean so much to me, blah blah blah - we've all been there. I've run the gamut of emotions - angry, sad, frustrated, depressed, angry some more, at God, at the individual(s) related to the circumstance who had the decision in their hands, and therefore, in my mind, the power to give me what I want.

As time went on and I realized I really needed to get past this issue and LET IT GO, for gosh sakes (I'm not detailing what it is here, but in the big picture of life it's really not a huge thing, but it's been a really big disappointment for me), and that I needed to turn to God to get there. I began reasoning it out: Do I believe God is in control of everything? Yes, I do. Do I believe that if this thing I want was God's will and purpose for me, he could make it happen? Yes, I do. So if I do, then logic follows that if it's not happening, then it's not part of God's plan for me. Now I had to grudgingly and unhappily concede this point, because I'd much rather blame the person who made the decision. And I realize that it could be that this person is going against God's will in this issue. And you might say, well God doesn't bother with small matters like this. But I am choosing to believe that, because I sincerely wanted it so badly, and prayed quite a bit about it, God would have granted it for me, but for some reason he had other plans and this was not what he wanted for me at this time. Then in Bible study this week, I was reading a whole lesson on God's power and how there is nothing that happens on this earth that he does not either ordain and control or allow to happen. That's a biggie - allow to happen. God doesn't make everything happen, or not happen, but he does allow things, all for his ultimate plan.

Then, one day this week I was watching Oprah, and Susan St. James (remember her from McMillan and Wife-if you're old like me-or Kate and Allie if you are younger) and her husband and sons on to talk about the plane crash last year that injured her husband and one son and killed another one, 14 years old. They were discussing the tragedy and how they dealt with it, and it was a very moving program. At one point Oprah asked Susan about how she dealt with her grief, and she shared that she was raised Catholic (I think, not sure) and that she had to come to terms with why God would allow this to happen. She basically said that she came to the conclusion that when Adam and Eve left the Garden and man was given free will, that God's power was taken away and God just looks on, and the world unfolds as it should.

Now, this statement caused me to stop what I was doing and just look at the TV for a minute. This was so completely the opposite of the beliefs that I had just reaffirmed about God, and it just made me sad, that the only way someone could accept the loss of a child was to believe that God had no control over it. I have never suffered such a loss, and without walking in those shoes I cannot really say how I'd react, but I sure hang on to the hope that my faith would carry me through that valley of sadness.

This is kind of a heavy post, but it was just on my mind this week. God really is in control, and if we believe that, really really believe it, then we have to look at every circumstance of our lives through that lens, and try to understand, or at least learn from, each situation that happens to us.

There was a short-lived show recently on NBC (which I shall blog about later) called The Book of Daniel. Very controversial, but I just wanted to mention a bit of dialogue that made me go "YES, that's how a real, personal relationship with Jesus sounds!" Daniel, who is an Episcopalian minister who is quite flawed and has a really messed up family. His mother has Alzheimer's, but is still quite functional and alternates between normally lucid and not knowing who family members are. It was portrayed in a very sad and moving way - she was a very elegant, still beautiful woman, and the pain in her husband's face and the rest of the family as well was so realistic. Anyway, Daniel was talking with Jesus, who is a character and they have someone dressed as Jesus occasionally walking by, riding with, whatever, Daniel, as they talk about things. Now, I really liked this because that's kind of how I visualize my relationship with Jesus - he's right next to me as I talk to him. So Daniel looks at his mother in the other room, and says to Jesus, "Can't you do anything for her?" And Jesus replies, "You know it doesn't work like that." And Daniel ruefully says, "Yeah, I know. I just don't know why." Now THAT's real. That's how I think a Christian with a real, raw, honest, transparent relationship with Christ would think about a situation like that. It's not a matter of can he or can't he, but just will he, and we don't always know the why or why not.

That's what I'm talkin' about.