Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Inspired by a Discovery Channel Documentary

"Bright white teeth and full lips" . . . "Long legs" . . . "Wide chest and shoulders" . . . "Breasts -- big ones" . . . "his ass in those jeans" . . .

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

I am what I am.
I will be what I will be
Hold me.

French's or the Store Brand?

The yellow school bus was three cars ahead
The yellow taxi to the far left
And the yellow Mini Cooper inched beside me

This mustard explosion brought to you by traffic back ups on I610.

Tim McGraw's Next Big Hit . . . Really!

Well . . . it could be a country hit if someone would put it to music. Anyone out there up to the challenge of adding the appropriate amount of twang to this one?? (And, yes, it was inspired by my recent trip home to Tennessee.)

He's a big fish in a little pond
He's the one the town depends upon
He's the go-to guy
The get-it-done man
If he can't do it, no one can

But in the dark places when he's all alone
The big fish fears the sharks
at home
at work
at play
And wonders if he can keep them away

He married young and now she's old
The hot girl of his teenaged dreams is these days usually cold
The kids are a hoot until they're not
Then curfews and groundings are all he's got
When once he was their hero who could do no wrong
Now he's the joke who doesn't know their favorite song
The big boss in Detroit is coming down any day
And unless a miracle happens he doesn't know what to say
About the steady loss of sales and the shrinking bottom line
Once the golden boy, he's nearing gold watch time
Church -- once his handshake heaven
Has become his pleading place
If any God is listening
He loved to save some face

He's the big fish in a little pond
He's the one the town depends upon
After years of living as the get-it-done man
He's without a clue
In need of a plan

So this big fish goes back to school
And discovers his wife was never the fool
His kids have ideas worth giving a try
His work is important but not the ladder climb
And God . . .
Well, God -- wherever she is -- has shoulders much, much bigger
than his.

Monday, November 28, 2005


The illusion of immediacy . . . interesting isn't it?


Waaaay too much to detail but definitely worthy of yet another list . . . things that make me say "thanks!" --
  • Quick thinking that had me pulling into a Radio Shack for a portable CD player and a device to insert in the cassette player when the CD player in the car didn't work and I had hours of books to listen to on the trip to Tennessee
  • Books . . . bad and good . . . I found almost as much pleasure laughing at the incredibly bad metaphors (they were like really bad phrases) as I did keeping up with Dan Brown's numerous plot twists
  • My 75 year old mother asking me if I wanted her to be the one to climb out on the flower box ledge to hang the Christmas wreaths . . . because you know, I might fall and hurt myself (and please know that I said no)
  • The joy on my sister and brother-in-law's faces as they personalized the decorations that would shout to their neighbors, "We love Christmas!" In ten years, they will be one of those homes folks pay to drive by and ooooooh over . . . just wait.
  • Reconnecting with the family that owned both the Dairy Queen (soon to be a Mexican food cafe) and the funeral home (still in operation) during my teen years and thereby helped support my family given that almost all mom's children worked at the DQ . . . you should have been there to hear the details of the solid oak coffin with the four distinct ornaments on each corner that represented all the things the man inside had hunted for during his life (duck, deer and I don't remember what else)
  • My brother inviting me to celebrate our 50th birthday (we're twins) by climbing a mountain. Since it's 6 years away, I think we may be guilty of a bit of advanced planning but I was thrilled to be asked!
  • Having a friend willing to open up her home away from home for my family to meet in the middle of the state and enjoy Turkey Day together . . . the beautiful day we were blessed to enjoy . . . and seeing that GORGEOUS bird come out of the oven to the cheers of my clan
  • Completing my Christmas shopping
  • Hugging my uncle . . . who faced down a couple of medical scares this year . . . and my aunt . . . who has faced up to almost every challenge thrown her way with midwestern bravado that I will never be able to mimic
  • Chili suppers with people who know what it means to be grateful one day at a time
  • Having come to a place where my mother's anxiety is not my own, where we can now laugh as friends at jokes related to my lack of . . . shall we just say "male companionship," and where simply being together one more day makes us give thanks
  • A 14 hour drive becoming a 12 hour drive when I'm the one who chooses to only stop for necessities
  • Friends who are gracious enough to give you their car being understanding about the fact that after 12 hours on the road quick thanks was all I could muster after the trade off of vehicles
  • Hot baths after a long ride
  • Living long enough to know that gratitude is a great thing to keep in one's heart

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Road Trip!!!!

Most might think that the following admission verifies my susupected tenuous grasp on sanity, but I'm about to embark on a road trip to Tennessee solo and I'm absolutely giddy about it.

Never having even suggested that I would fall into the "introvert" category, I'm not going to do so now, but there are times in one's life when solitude is good and frankly, these days I kind of like my company.

So for somewhere between 12 and 14 hours I'm going to be on the road . . . Ahhhhhh . . . . I've got at least six books on CD, friends have blessed me with the use of their very, very nice vehicle insuring a much smoother ride than my Toyota would have afforded, (speaking of "afford" gas prices have actually gone down somewhat), and other friends are keeping an eye on my homefront.

In Tennessee I'll be welcomed by mom and have pockets of time with much of my family and then Sunday, my return trip will allow me a bit more solitude before the December rush.

What's not to like?

But this post is also a way of saying that posts over the next few days may be limited or non-existent. So happy Turkey Day to all and blessings to you.

Monday, November 21, 2005


On an early morning drive down I45S on Saturday I caught the following on a restaurant sign:

Half chicken with one side

I was amused.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Did You Get That?

I'm sure some of your have experienced attending a movie where the young people scream at the screen in order to prevent the currently-being-stalked-soon-to-be-knived-secondary-character from opening the door to the room where the knife-ready killer resides. And you may have enjoyed a showing with a predominantly African American audience who also chime in when they feel they have advice to offer up to the heroine. (My first exposure to this was The Color Purple and it truly added to the experience.)

But have you ever had the joy of sitting in with an overwhelmingly senior citizen audience? I did. Today. Their shout outs occurred every time the soft-spoken Capote lisped his way too speedily through the dialogue:

(whispered semi-loudly) "What did he say?"
(shouted for those of us three rows back to hear) "He said he didn't have a title yet."

Not once, not twice, but several times . . . in one showing.


Worth Repeating

Haven't you ever "felt" the quote I heard in a movie trailer today?

"I wish I knew how to quit you." -- from Brokeback Mountain, coming soon to a theater near you

Thursday, November 17, 2005

One Man's Junk Is Another Man's Treasure

I just learned that on Christmas day I'll be in the mountains of Vietnam and then after an overnite train ride, will board this junk for a tour and overnite stay on it as well.

Today, my life totally doesn't suck.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Shower Dreams

This morning I actually contemplated returning to my Tennessee roots. Permanently.

I know a kneejerk reaction when I have one but still the detail of my thinking alarmed me.

I could work at the weekly newspaper, I told myself. They don't seem to put their journalistic cookies on too high a shelf so it wouldn't be taxing work by any means.

I could easily rent one of the numerous town homes or maybe even buy a country estate given that prices are not that high there.

I could live out my days shocking the townsfolk with my offbeat ways.

And I could rationalize my disconnectedness with the opposite sex on the fact that there the supply is limited.

I wouldn't have to deal with feeling past my dating prime at 44. I wouldn't have to wonder about the crazies next door because I'd be the crazy one. I wouldn't feel overwhelmed with unresolved issues between friends, in politics, in the church.

I'd just be.

The whole dream sequence lasted only minutes but, like a too tangerine body wash, the sense of longing is still present.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Too many . . .

  • people are hurting because of miscommunication
  • moments are lost when we're distracted by "what's next?"
  • friends aren't happy
  • hurdles and hoops exist in systems that don't work
  • beautiful vistas will go unnoticed today
  • passionate people are being drained dry
  • calories keep me from indulging completely

Friday, November 11, 2005

Mindless Musings

In the category of "if everyone else jumped off the bridge, would you have to follow" I bring you one of the more recent web-based activities for either flitting away a day or self-discovery.

Google "your name + needs" and see the myriad of random thoughts (or maybe not so random, heh?). Keep the quotes so that you can see sentences come your way that could very well be showing you the way . . .

Here are some of my results and the learning I gleaned:

Karen needs to determine status of what we do and don't have.
[“We” don’t have a “we” to speak of so that list might be short.]

Karen Needs to Grow Up!
[Been there. Done that. Reverted.]

Karen Needs A Lobotomy Fund
[It’s good to have a dream, isn’t it?]

Karen needs the money for the mentoring pizza.
[Because small communities of pizza everywhere need good leadership.]

Karen needs to learn how to compliment her workers.
[When I can locate those lazy boys, I will.]

Karen needs to have full carbohydrate, stores, and be well hydrated
[Does pizza and beer count?]

Karen Needs a New Job
[hmmmmmm. . . ]

[I think the all caps is a bit much and the whole “need” thing really bothers me but otherwise, I’m open to suggestions.]

Karen needs care and supervision twenty-fours hours a day.
[If this is connected to the one above and said man is up to the task, well who am I to argue?]

Karen needs folks who can appear.
[Because those disappearing one are bugging me to death.]

Karen needs some bath water to wash her dishes in.
[Efficiency is what I’m all about.]

Karen needs money to buy the roller skates she desperatelywants, so she becomes a partner in Pete's window-washing business.
[Everybody: “I’ve got a brand new pair of roller skates, you’ve got a brand new key. I think we should get together . . . “ And if you have no clue what I’m singing, just know that the 1970s produced some noteworthy music and this isn't a sample.]

Karen needs to get herself a new blog.
[After this blog post, I’m sure most readers will agree.]

Karen needs to know that her life makes a difference, that people value her and would miss her.
[Thankfully, I do.]

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


The openly gay politician who had won re-election addressed the election night crowd. The group was made up of advocates who had waged a noteworthy campaign for equality and against a proposition that sought to reiterate a law essentially already on the Texas books.

She applauded the group’s success at opening up dialogue that hadn’t existed before.

She called for them to not give up, to continue to speak up for legal rights while understanding sacred acts have their own place.

She implored them to never go back to the closet.

I smiled. I cheered. I applauded the group’s efforts.

And I hid from the cameras.

Though I know that some of the dialogue that happened occurred because people like me (straight, faith-based, somewhat influential) employed across the table rather than in your face tactics, I also know that radical movements take radical gestures.

Still this morning I cringed when a newsletter I subscribe to carried the following quote from Martin Luther King: In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

Some day the greater good may be served when people like me do step into the spotlight and speak out loudly and clearly about what we believe to be unjust.

But today, I carry the weight of knowing that for now my place, though not in the closet, certainly remains in the shadows. I pray that that weight makes the impression it deserves because frankly there are days when I too long to be free at last.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Cynically Searching for the Real Deal

My friend Gary Long* gave me permission to use a couple of paragraphs from his weekly column he calls Not a Sermon, Just a Thought. They reflect what I hope to be true and what I wish wasn't.

. . . good Christians can do and/or say destructive things while trying to please God. I have to believe that was the case when Jerry Falwell said that the terrorists attack on 9/11 was the will of God because America was disobedient. Or when Pat Robertson called for George Bush to have the Venezuelan President assassinated. Or when John Piper wrote that the tsunami of 2004 was God’s cleansing of Asia. Whether or not I want to claim them as my brothers in Christ, all three of these men are children of God and by their testimony have been saved by the grace of Jesus. So rather than point an angry finger at them for damaging the Christian witness to the culture, I am left to ponder, “What well-intended words have I chosen that cause destruction?”

. . . I’m truly skeptical of the religious experiences of others. Even after being a professional servant of the church for nearly a decade and a half, I raise an eyebrow of cynicism when I hear someone describe their burning bush to me, but I fail to see it. I internally begin to question, “Is this person for real? What is he/she trying to get from me or make me do? How much longer to lunch? What if this person is truly seized by God and speaking a message to me?” It occurs to me that as scientifically and technologically advanced as our culture is, we still have no clear means of discerning whether or not a person is a kooky fanatical or the real religious deal.

*Since Gary gave me permission, I also get to use his name!

In a Cynical World, Celebrating the SuperNatural

Last Tuesday at a reception for those who gave time or money for the Sing for Hope benefit for Bering Omega, a-getting-much-closer-to-friend-than-just-acquaintance asked how I’d come to work at Omega House. I gave the factoid answer and then explained that when I first worked there – in fact for more than 3 years of the commitment – I stuck primarily to indirect care of washing clothes and cleaning bathrooms. I had this embarrassing reaction to bodily fluids – I gagged. And it was very obvious. So I figured that didn’t make for too great of a bedside manner and declined the direct care that would have me changing diapers, giving baths, etc.

Then one day we were busy and a couple of my cohorts asked if I could help with a bed bath. I decided to do so. And as I wiped the white cloth over the ashy gray skin of the resident and the skin became like new, I was overwhelmed with the sense that this was a holy moment, a holy act.

When I shared the story at the party, my friend said, “Thank you so much for sharing that.” Then he relayed two stories of supernatural occurrences in his life that he had often refrained from telling because he thought folks would be as cynical as him. When he concluded, he told me, “Because you told what you did, I wonder if I couldn’t relook at some of my own experiences. Thank you again.”

In our cynical world, that was kind of a neat moment.

Big Man in a Small Body

I just heard a story today that DEMANDS to be made into a screenplay.

One of the churches that opened up as a shelter for the Katrina evacuees has had some amazing experiences -- surviving the Rita evacuation, sharing resources with East Texas survivors on the trip back "home" to the shelter, whites and blacks working together in an area that is not known for its racial unity, kids doing extremely well in their new schools, the church living as Christ modeled and more.

One of the more tragic experiences occurred as one of the evacuated young couples watched their tumultuous relationship escalate into violence . . . and that resulted in the man being stabbed to death by the woman. The pastor shared the tale with equal amounts of grief, horror, and amazement at a system that has allowed weeks to pass without charging the woman though she is being held. No lawyer’s been involved yet. The pastor is exploring all possible options.

The pastor was asked to do the funeral. He agreed but only if the family would help him insure that it not reflect his Anglo heritage. Soon he was researching jazz bands known in New Orleans for their work at funerals. He found them . . . in Houston. The local funeral home made it possible to keep the costs low. The evacuees and many of their friends attended. The pastor smiled as he admitted he wouldn't mind having the band accessible for more funerals!

But then his demeanor changed. He began to recount how, unlike his usual tendencies, he had raised his voice during the service. He said his wife wondered exactly where he was going as he lamented the violence that had brought them to this place. He implored the streetwise gathering to allow for new life, for clean starts and to stop the violent acts that had caused an 8-year-old to bemoan the fact that he had already seen "too many people die."

After the funeral and while the group gathered to be fed by the church, the murmuring started. Several young men were disturbed by his fervor. And they said so. But the recepients of the church's compassion would have none of it. They hushed the naysayers.

Then a young man who had lived at the shelter approached the pastor. With finger pointing directly into the pastor's chest, the young man proclaimed, "No one . . . absolutely no one talks to us like that."

Pulling back, he then smiled, "Except you!"

And with a high five, he added, "You're a big man in a small body, you know that?"

This pastor has since endured threatening calls and limited support from the neighboring church pastors. Yet what he stressed throughout the conversation was the fact that the church had found housing for many, received over 30 into the church as members, and one of these new members recently called him to ask how she could be of help to a neighbor.

Seems looking outside one's self to the needs of others must be contagious!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Things I Would Like to See

  • Everyone who needs money for a just cause to have enough to make the ratio of fundraising to actual work for the cause balanced in favor of the work
  • The names of movies to reflect something about the movies. For instance, instead of Where the Truth Lies ads would proclaim "The One with Kevin Bacon and the British Guy Acting like Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis Only There's a Murder". Or Nine Lives would become "The Movie with Most of the Greatest Actresses of Today Playing 10 Minute Parts and Making Art in the Process." Or Touch the Sound would be entitled "Yes, It's a Documentary but It's Good and About a Deaf Percussionist -- Pay Attention Because Yes, I Said Deaf".
  • Someone approach another someone in a crowded room and say something like, "I was watching you watch everyone else and I have to know what you're thinking."
  • People who say they want to be honest about relationships to want it more for the sake of the relationship than for just wanting to feel better about themselves
  • Something inspiring everyday
  • Me to be inspiring to someone everyday
  • An end to the war in Iraq
  • Politicians who serve the people and not the lobbyists
  • Service with a smile
  • Smiles for good service
  • All the people I love engaging in conversation with one another and discovery the beauty that I see in each of them.

Things I Like to See

  • Good to great films such as a few that are currently showing . . . Where the Truth Lies, Nine Lives, Touch the Sound
  • A plate of food where the taste surpasses the incredible presentation
  • A room filled with people laughing at each other's stories and truly engaging one another
  • A woman of confidence and compassion
  • A man willing to let down his guard and still suggest strength
  • The autumn sky when the pink of sunset begs you to be silent and drink it in
  • Folks who are willing to give of their money and folks who are willing to give of their time coming together to celebrate that together they can make a difference
  • Friends who have been down on their luck come into some good fortune
  • Quiet, in the moment moments truly appreciated
  • Reconciliation
  • Open arms and full frontal hugs
  • A day well spent
  • A new day

Things I'd Rather Not See

  • the blue screen of death on my home laptop that provided some slight insurance that I would blog faithfully
  • several days of empty space between blog entries that were supposed to be based on my commitment to write something regularly
  • the scale after much celebrating with friends from far and wide
  • great people having difficulties in finding jobs
  • break ups
  • replies to emails I wish I had written in the first place
  • a blank screen where I'd hoped there'd be a message waiting
  • a message from the WRONG person
  • arguments between people I know and those I don't
  • the faces of folks dealing with awkward silences hanging heavily in a room
  • the eyes of someone looking at you and yet not seeing you as they check the room for better prospects
  • a page full of numbers -- for whatver reason because at some point they blur into pure nonsense

Thursday, November 03, 2005

I Love This Thought

First, I love this piece for what it says. Then I love it because a friend sent it to me. And maybe most of all, I love it because she thought of me when she read it. If I'm not like this poem, I certainly want to be:

I might have been myself
minus amazement
that is,
someone completely different.
Wislawa Szymborska, a female Polish poet, writing in O Magazine

Busy, busy, busy

Haven't posted in a few days because life happens. But last Sunday, I wrote this incredible piece as I was powerwalking 6 miles. As soon as I can transcribe the message I phoned into myself via the cell, you'll get to read it.

(I do hope you captured that image in your mind . . . me . . . powerwalking . . . talking . . . on a cell . . . to myself.)