Sunday, February 27, 2005

In One Day, vol 3

  • Yoga with a new instructor who actually said, "What you're trying to do is squat, using only the tips of your toes and then placing your hands on the floor in front of you, slowly put your weight on your elbows until you lift yourself off the floor." To which I thought, "No, that is definitely not what I'm trying to do."
  • Breakfast at a small cafe with French accents and an actual fire burning in the fireplace . . . in Houston!
  • Shopping for shoes and bras . . . not my favorite adventures but in the list of "has to be done some time"
  • Cleaning my apartment . . . the kind of cleaning where you actually lift things and wipe, sweep, vacuum, etc., the kind where my new bagless vacuum cleaner now looks like an old bagless and only dear friends would be allowed to see how very dirty my place was, the kind that took 3 HOURS
  • Helping a friend pack to move and hearing wonderful stories behind stuff we were packing
  • Attending a Vietnamese wedding reception with a friend who is an instructor to the brother of the groom and therefore merited the invitation along with 300 or more other folks who enjoyed 9 (!) courses of Asian foods from one of the premiere restaurants in the city . . . all while seated with more Anglo friends of the bride (a seating mistake that proved fun) and hearing the following types of music performed by various artists (all excellent) -- pop English, pop Vietnamese, country Vietnamese, jazz, opera, rock and roll. The event took 4 1/2 hours and every minute made me smile, laugh, think, or say a word of thanks that my culture didn't require that much from me on my wedding day (two ceremonies, three changes of clothes at the reception, a video made at each table with the couple as the "stars" thanking the guests for coming, receiving numerous gift plaques, dancing, and smiling . . . always smiling).

Friday, February 25, 2005

Definitely Some Truth in This One

Since it's been suggested that this blog may be a bit on the intense side (yes, J, I'm listening) . . . I am passing along yet another email essay that amused me and is currently making the rounds. I decided that it's ok to share them this way since I'm not filling your in box. AND, this is just too close to home . . .

In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth and populated the Earth with broccoli, cauliflower and spinach, green and yellow and
red vegetables of all kinds, so Man and Woman would live long and healthy lives.

Then using God's great gifts, Satan created Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream and Krispy Creme Donuts. And Satan said, "You want chocolate with
that?" And Man said, "Yes!" and Woman said, "and as long as you're at
it, add some sprinkles." And they gained 10 pounds. And Satan smiled.

And God created the healthful yogurt that Woman might keep the figure
that Man found so fair. And Satan brought forth white flour from the
wheat, and sugar from the cane and combined them. And Woman went from
size 6 to size 14.

So God said, "Try my fresh green salad." And Satan presented Thousand-Island Dressing, buttery croutons and garlic toast on the side. And Man and Woman unfastened their belts following the repast.

God then said, "I have sent you heart healthy vegetables and olive oil
in which to cook them." And Satan brought forth deep-fried fish and
chicken-fried steak so big it needed its own platter. And Man gained
more weight and his cholesterol went through the roof.

God then created a light, fluffy white cake, named it "Angel Food
Cake," and said, "It is good." Satan then created chocolate cake and
named it Devil's Food."

God then brought forth running shoes so that His children might lose those extra pounds. And Satan gave cable TV with a remote control so Man would not have to toil changing the channels. And Man and Woman laughed and cried before the flickering blue light and gained pounds.

Then God brought forth the potato, naturally low in fat and brimming
with nutrition. And Satan peeled off the healthful skin and sliced the
starchy center into chips and deep-fried them. And Man gained pounds.

God then gave lean beef so that Man might consume fewer calories and
still satisfy his appetite. And Satan created McDonald's and its
99-cent double cheeseburger. Then said, "You want fries with that?" And Man replied, "Yes! And super size them!" And Satan said, "It is good."

And Man went into cardiac arrest.

God sighed and created quadruple bypass surgery.

Then Satan created HMOs.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Moody Blues

Monday was a difficult day. On Tuesday, I determined a possibility as to why.

A friend lost her father to a freak accident as the weekend started. On Saturday I spent time with another friend and her father (as well as her mother, husband, three kids, a dog and some extended family). On Sunday, I watched as a 17-year-old made her way to the "adult" table at a dinner party and with obvious comfort and in silent agreement with her dad made a place for herself on his knee.

That picture captured me. I smiled. And later, much later, after a day and a half of frustration mounting, small inconveniences transforming into major intrusions, and I general sense of bitchiness, I realized that behind that smile was longing.

Grief hits me at the oddest times. Movies. Commercials. An offhand comment. Or a 17-year-old sitting in her father's lap.

I can't say I miss my father. He died when I was 10 and before fathers were encouraged to take active roles in parenting, before they drove to soccer practice, and shifted their schedules to make not one but both performances of the school play, and went shopping.

When asked how the early loss of my father has affected me, I'm usually at a loss as to specifics. I don't know what it's like to have had the paternal influence so I don't recognize the implication of its absence.

But I do recognize longing.

At least I did on Tuesday. And upon its recognition, it was much easier to accept my admonition to myself to keep moving, to allow for the pain but also anticipate the next adventure, the next opportunity to be with friends, to engage in laughter, to live.

There really is joy in the mourning. Sometimes I just need to remember that.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Twice in One Day . . . Must Be a Sign

The Sunday paper included a review of Mary Gordon's Pearl and in the review came a quote from the book -- which explores family and faith issues:

"Can you lose your faith and hold onto what that faith insists on? Isn't that, in fact, the purest faith, faith without faith? . . . Faith without the possibility of faith's consolation?"

Later, as I was listening to NPR, I caught the last of an interview with Gordon. (I'm always amazed when something like that happens . . . I mean, yeah, the book is new and there's probably a press junket attached to it, but in the same day? in the same morning? the same author out of all the authors I could have heard? the last bit of an interview?) She was asked if, given her distress over the church (she's Catholic) did she still attend. She responded with a laundry list of what disturbed her about the established church and then confessed that yes, she did still attend. Then she quoted someone else (whose name I didn't catch and whose quote I'm only going to paraphrase because I can't remember it word for word), "I keep doing the things I've always done in the church even though I don't believe the way I once did. I can't help thinking that doing them without faith is an act of faith."

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Her Father Died

Someone I know just lost her father. A freak accident took him away from a family who are just beginning to celebrate marriages and grandbabies and all the stuff that makes life joyous when there are more years behind you than ahead.

God, I hope my friend has memories to hold to, times of shared laughter between just the two of them, moments when he looked at her and she knew, just knew, without a word spoken that he was always going to be there for her. Because now he can't be, and that look though in her mind and not her reality, will be so very precious.

And I pray that those of us looking in will know when hugs are needed, words are right, and silence is the best gift to be given.

I don't get it. I never will. But each time, I want to get a little bit closer to making what comes next as right as it can be.


Some friends and I attended a play last night -- Two Trains Running -- written by August Wilson and set in the 1960s in a small urban diner. I love his work and once again I was entertained and challenged. But the three of us agreed . . . we felt like we were eavesdropping.

All the characters are African-American. And almost all of them in almost every speech used the word "nigger." This is a word I can barely type. I have never used it in conversation . . . except to quote someone . . . and even then I probably said "the n-word."

As a result, I was reminded that I was an outsider looking in. The crowd was predominately African American as it usually is in this theater. The three of us are white. We were graciously received as we usually are. Yet when the performance got started and during the intermission, I definitely felt a different vibe. No anger. Nothing like that. In fact, it wasn't coming from the other patrons. It was radiating from us. We had a sense that while we were obviously allowed to be here, we didn't belong.

We were listening in to conversations held only in community, when you know you're surrounded by friends and you don't guard yourself. While this is true in any performance -- I'm in the audience, not on the stage -- the obvious racial distinctions were . . . well obvious.

Which got me to thinking about community. We all know that we have our own little communities. We've known it since junior high. We called them cliques back them and the liberals among us, while lamenting their existence and the barriers they instilled, were simultaneously shamed by them and glad to be in them. One aspect of community is a common language. Sometimes it's a common dress. Often it's a common way of thinking.

Communities are more about space than place. We know that churches are communities. That friends are communities. And I can't help thinking that there are plenty of people who stand on the outside of what feels like a vast space, looking in and they don't understand the language, the dress, the thinking. Even though they are allowed to be there, they have an incredible sense of eavesdropping where they don't belong.

As I said, I love August Wilson's plays. He makes me think. And today I thought about eavesdropping and how I truly can't make anyone feel accepted or a part of a group. But I can be aware. I can bridge that vast expanse of space. And I can speak clearly so that they too may hear.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

AIDS Walk . . . You Can Help

I'll do the walking. You can do the giving. Click here to go to the website where you can make a donation benefitting services in Houston that assist those affected by AIDS.

Here's a promise . . . I'll take the list of those who donate with me on the walk. As I look out on the sea of people (and I've never seen anything quite like this in all the races, events, adventures, etc. I've done) with their colorful T-shirts and diversity of backgrounds and reasons for being there, I'll say a word of thanks for each name on the list.

Happy Thoughts, vol. 2

  • Supper . . . outside . . . in February
  • Conversation that ranges from books, to people's idiosyncrisies, to politics, to silence
  • Hugs at the end of evening
  • Timely phone calls that offer a much needed laugh
  • Knowing your call will be returned
  • Having something adventurous to look forward to
  • Defining "adventurous" in my own way
  • Creative bursts
  • Words, glorious words
  • 300 crunches . . . completed
  • Uninhibited antics
  • When J tells me to "hurry up and blog"

But Wait There's More

The announcer jars me from my sleep
It's 1 a.m. and the TV's still on
Adjusting to reality, I slowly peep
At the infomercial.

"Incredible," says the assistant, wide-eyed.
With questions suggesting
No script has previously described
The product's considerable attributes.

"Incredible," I think
As I interrupt the barrage
And the screen returns the black ink
Of the night.

But wait there's more,
don't I want to see
All that could be in store
for one as susceptible as me?

Having adjusted my eyes
I have my answer
I'll venture on sans guide
No shipping or handling required.

I'm in Mourning

I realized this morning that I've been gradually experiencing a loss. A friendship that once mattered greatly to me is no more. The gift I offered willing and I thought unconditionally has been rejected.

No drama. No big display of emotions. No real closure. But it's over.

I know now there was one condition . . . that my gift be accepted. Now that I accept the rejection, I see how I've gone through the whole grief cycle with this thing.

Loss -- physical or emotional -- is still loss. And I'm in mourning.

Scarred for Life

At the tender age of 5 I fell up the concrete steps that led to my front door. The damage to my face was superficial but I did sustain a scraped nose. (Let's not talk about the damage to what pride I might have had . . . I mean falling up? I'm convinced the incident kept me from ever seeing myself as anything near athletic, thereby insuring that I stayed inside, with the air conditioner and near the fridge and launching my lifelong battle with the bulge . . . but that's another blog).

The scraped nose was severe enough that I lost freckles . . . an entire patch! And to this day, they've never returned. I have freckles between my fingers, on my knees, across my chest, and pretty much all over my face -- except for that now tiny spot.

Recently, I was trying to recall a childhood incident that shaped me. This is the one I came up with. Funny how often it's the little things.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Cut and Paste

Once upon a time
I cut and paste
Each word or rhyme
On actual paper

To be copied and shared
With tons of folks
Who didn't really care
About the topic

Yet on I'd go
Adding art
(clip, you know?)
And quotes

And borders and lines
Until the thing
Resembled my mind
Cluttered and confused.


I deal in publisher and word
And wizards fuss
Over what used to disturb
Me and my kind.

Still . . . the hours are long
For with more tools
Come new ways to go wrong
And I comply.

(This message brought to you by the Internet. NO border tape, clip art or exacto knives were harmed in the making of this presentation.)

Monday, February 14, 2005

Sunday's Comin' (Yea! Rah!)

Sundays . . . I'm now a convert.

For years I saw Sundays as anything but the Sabbath -- a day of rest and remembering. Sundays were all about busy-ness, even if I didn't frequent that many businesses. (And yes, I went through a period where I didn't go to any stores on Sunday.) I've spent my entire life getting to the church by 9 a.m. and staying until after 12 . . . sometimes waaaaaaaaay after 12. Committee meetings, training, whatever . . . these tasks consumed me.

And then there was the ongoing debate about Sunday nights. Do we make everyone come back? Do we call it family time? "We've never done it that way before so why start now?" was a constant cry. "We should meet on Sunday night; it's the right thing to do."

Should . . . must . . . have to . . . all those glorious obligation words. I embraced them.

Then my whole faith system went through the shredder. I stopped going to church after the divorce. Initially because my ex worked at the church. Then, quite honestly, because I didn't really want to have that many conversations with God. We weren't exactly on speaking terms.

I came to love Sunday mornings as a result. I relaxed. I gave up feeling guilty. I read the paper section by section. Sometimes I treated myself to a decadent breakfast. Sometimes I didn't. I gave myself permission to make the bed whenever it was convenient. I walked or jogged or rode a bike.

I rested . . . and soon I even remembered.

I remembered that the home that I was nestling in was a blessing. I remembered the paper exposed me to a world of adventure created by a greater imagination than I could even imagine. I remembered that the food I ate was a celebration in creativity, yet another connection to my Creator. I remembered the air I took in, the sights of people, trees, birds on the bayou and silly little moments along the trail were all brought to me by powers outside my understanding but not outside my grasp.

Eventually, my work got me back to a group of folks who meet regularly as believers with questions and the grace to allow time for answers. But they meet at 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. So all those things I had started doing? I still do them. Only now, I close the Sabbath with a celebration. Sounds almost Old Testament, doesn't it?

The Sabbath -- once a day where I worked to worship and almost worshipped my work, and now truly a day of rest and remembering.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Yet Another Lesson Learned in Yoga

Last week I attended my first yoga class at my new gym. No one said a word to me. Since it was held at 8:15 on a Saturday morning, I really didn't blame them.

I did get a response when I asked one woman a question. But otherwise, not a whole lot of group-ness was going on in this crowded room.

Today, I attended my second class. The fill-in instructor, who filled in last week as well and somehow got the word this week that we weren't advanced yoga students and so therefore the 10 minutes in one pose (ok, so I exagerate) wasn't necessary, asked if anyone was new to yoga. The petite woman beside me meekly held up her hand.

I interrupt this blog for a brief explanation: I am an extrovert. But not always and certainly not early in the morning. I also don't "meet and greet" even when they tell me to at church. It's not my thing.

At the end of class, I knew what I had to do. An overwhelming sense of rightness in the act made me ask the petite woman what she'd thought of the class, if she was new to the gym, and a couple of other questions. I learned she was new to the city and the gym. That she was from Philadelphia, married, and that her husband worked in research at MD Anderson. They moved here this week and chose their neighborhood because of the facility we were standing in, the library next door and several other factors, I'm sure.

The conversation took less than 5 minutes.

But on her first day in yoga class, someone talked to her. And I left smiling.

Yoga . . . mind, body, spirit connections.

Friday Night Lights

My Friday night plans fell through at the last minute so I was left with time, a definite sense of cabin fever brought on by two days this week nursing a virus, and a city full of entertaining options. What I didn't have was a companion.

I'm not asking for pity however. I have plenty of friends. But on this particular night and with so little advance warning they were either out of town, sick, tired after being sick, or just not in the mood for the kind of fun I was.

What kind of fun were you up for, you ask?

Tsk, tsk. Put that naughty little thought back on the shelf (we'll dust it off for another time). I simply wanted to see the Fertles Celebrate Weiner Day at the Skate-arama.

Houston is blessed with numerous theaters where all types of drama, musicals, performance art and the like can be enjoyed. One of my favorite venues is the Radio Music Theatre which happens to be only a few miles from my humble abode.

When I couldn't find a co-conspirator, I decided that I was a big girl and I could go it alone. So I changed into something that made me feel all grown up, grabbed the keys and made my way to the show.

I love the fact that these three actor/writer/comics have created their own world in Dumpster, Texas, populate it with characters they embody by simply changing a hat or a hairpiece, and house it all in a fantastic theater space that is solely dedicated to their world. The only drawback is that there is no assigned seating. Which means that I had to get there fairly early to get a good seat.

But I'm confident. I'm secure. I'm a woman who can hold her own. No problem, right? Right!

I march to the ticket booth. I state my name and receive my ticket. I stroll down the narrow hallway where the familiar sight of Steve*, the founder, primary writer, and one of the actors greets me in the doorway.

"How many are in your party?" he asks as he reaches for my ticket. (One of the traditions here is that everyone pitches in to do all the work, which of course, means Steve has more hats than his head could hold -- including usher.)

"Just one."


"Yes, one."

To the sound man who was helping locate available seats, "She's alone, Can we find a place for her . . . for one?"

Me, smiling, "Could you say that just a little louder? That whole 'she's alone' part. Thanks."

Now he's smiling and it's not just the polite I-have-to-stand-at-the-door-and-welcome-people smile, but a genuine grin. "Well, I guess I could escort you," and he takes my arm and moves me halfway across the floor before giving me over to the other guy who has found me a seat.

A seat.

At the end of an empty row. A row that will remain empty for the 30 minutes I have to wait for the show to begin and then will fill in the last minutes with loud, old people who don't turn off their cell phones and then when it rings, and it does, announces to whoever they think cares, that they don't know that number before fumbling with it and returning it to their front shirt pocket. But that's another story.

For now, I'm alone on this row that is in the main traffic pattern of the waitresses and those who, having secured their seats with their parties of four and six and eight (do you notice those round numbers?) are now checking out the toilet options. So I'm shifting from side to side in order to keep my foot out of the traffic pattern.

At one point, Steve walks by, smiles and says, "We had to put you here with an empty seat beside you no less, huh?"

I answer, "Yes, and if you could manage to turn the spotlight on me at some point that would be delightful as well."

Again, he laughs and returns to his numerous duties.

On his final walk through the audience, he stops one more time. "I'm Steve, by the way. What's your name?"

"K____," I say and smile, because I know that bit of information will turn up again and very soon.

I'm right.

When we enter Dumpster to celebrate the bigness that is Weiner Day, Doc is called upon to emcee the dance action at the Skate-arama. Doc, played by Steve, is supposed to be a fast talking Cajun that no one can understand but due to his standing in the community (population of about 15-20 from what I can tell), he's often asked to perform duties outside the medical profession. Communicating must not have been critical at the Skate-arama, since English only comes out of Doc's mouth every 10 words or so. Otherwise, it's a marble-in-the-mouth-form of gibberish.

But tonight I definitely understood one word.

Doc: "gibberish, gibberish, gibberish, gibberish, gibberish, K_____ (my name), gibberish, gibberish, gibberish"
2nd character: "What did he say?"
3rd character: "I don't know exactly but I think he said, 'Couples Skate.'"

One last zinger. Steve got me in the spotlight for my single-ness one last time. I laughed.

Of course, no one knew the joke but Steve and I. But we shared it. And I wasn't alone. Yet another reminder that I never truly am!

(*I admit I'm making up my blogging rules as I go along, but it's my blog so I can. Steve is really this guy's name and he is definitely alive. My rule has been that only dead people got their real names printed. But Steve is famous . . . at least more famous that I am, so I now have a new rule: Dead people and famous people will be named."

Thursday, February 10, 2005

HELP Wanted

Some of you know that I volunteer at an AIDS hospice in Houston. Called Omega House, that hospice is now under much needed renovation. Lots of folks have dedicated their expertise to upgrading the facility. Now we're in need of not-so-much expertise as pure labor!

Here's the latest note that's gone out:

THURSDAY FEB 10, FRIDAY FEB 11, SATURDAY FEB 12, SUNDAY FEB 13 all day, any time, you could come and be a part of the AWESOME team that is renovating this home so the residents have a compassionate place to spend their last days with dignity, surrounded by people who love them.
Please call 713-523-7110 ext. 117 and let us know when you can help. This Saturday especially needs lots of able and willing people. Volunteers on this project do not need to attend any orientation. You can bring friends and family and just sign in at the door. We do ask that volunteers are at least 16 years of age, and if under 18 accompanied by an adult.

The projects they are working on are simple ones like pulling up carpet. Don't wear good clothes but do expect to be rewarded with MUCH thanks.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

I Give Up!

Today we start the season of giving up . . . not in the cry-Uncle-please-stop-torturing-me-type-of-giving-up but instead the stop-this-for-a-while-and-consider-God-instead kind. I've been toying with what my offering might be this year.

I considered several of the familiar options . . . some kind of food or drink. I listened as friends described theirs -- the radio in the morning on the drive to work, chocolate. And I even toyed with the yeah-right variety . . . as in giving up the nonexistent sex in my life.

But I've determined that for me it's all about really focusing. And many of the possibilities wouldn't necessarily insure that I replace thoughts of IT with thoughts on God. That's why I've determined that it has to be a daily exercise that I'm sure to do and sure to notice not doing. So . . . M's candy dish in the front foyer and the nuts/raisins/M&M bowl in the break room are now officially off limits to me during the days of Lent.

A friend who is new to some of the practices of the Christian calendar asked what all the fuss was about and wasn't this whole giving-up-thing a bit too over the top. I found myself explaining with a great deal of passion that to give up something familiar and replace it with a focus on God -- if only for a few moments a day -- was an incredible experience. And in the midst of the explanation I knew that Lent isn't just an empty ancient ritual. There's meaning in the absence of . . . (in my case) sweetness, and I plan on enjoying each morsel.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

But While I'm At It

Really, I don't pass these along . . . but once I got started I couldn't keep myself from sharing this one as well. These are insights on Southerners:

Only a Southerner knows the difference between a hissie fit and a conniption fit, and that you don't "HAVE" them, you "PITCH" them.

Only a Southerner knows how many fish, collard greens, turnip greens, peas, beans, etc., make up "a mess."

Only a Southerner can show or point out to you the general direction of "yonder."

Only a Southerner knows exactly how long "directly" is -- as in: "Going to town, be back directly."

Even Southern babies know that "Gimme some sugar" is not a request for the white, granular sweet substance that sits in a pretty little bowl in the middle of the table.

All Southerners know exactly when "by and by" is. They might not use the term, but they know the concept well.

Only a Southerner knows instinctively that the best gesture of solace for a neighbor who's got trouble is a plate of hot fried chicken and a big bowl of cold potato salad. If the neighbor's trouble is a real crisis, they also know to add a large banana puddin!

Only Southerners grow up knowing the difference between "right near" and "a right far piece." They also know that "just down the road" can be 1 mile or 20.

Only a Southerner, both knows and understands, the difference between a redneck, a good ol' boy, and po' white trash.

No true Southerner would ever assume that the car with the flashing turn signal is actually going to make a turn.

A Southerner knows that "fixin" can be used as a noun, a verb, or an adverb.

Only Southerners make friends while standing in lines. We don't do "queues," we do "lines"; and when we're "in line," we talk to everybody!

Put 100 Southerners in a room and half of them will discover they're related, even if only by marriage.

Southerners never refer to one person as "y'all"

Southerners know grits come from corn and how to eat them.

Every Southerner knows tomatoes with eggs, bacon, grits, and coffee are perfectly wonderful; that red eye gravy is also a breakfast food; and that fried green tomatoes are not a breakfast food.

When you hear someone say, "Well, I caught myself lookin'," you know you are in the presence of a genuine Southerner!

Only true Southerners say "sweet tea" and "sweet milk." Sweet tea indicates the need for sugar and lots of it -- we do not like our tea unsweetened. "Sweet milk" means you don't want buttermilk.

And a true Southerner knows you don't scream obscenities at little old ladies who drive 30 MPH on the freeway. You just say, "Bless her heart" and go your own way.

To those of you who're still a little embarrassed by your Southerness: Take two tent revivals and a dose of sausage gravy and call me in the morning. Bless your heart!

And to those of you who are still having a hard time understanding all this Southern stuff, bless your hearts, I hear they are fixin' to have classes on Southernness as a second language!

And for those that are not from the South but have lived here for a long time, ya'll need a sign to hang on y'alls front porch that reads "I aint from the South but I got here as fast as I could."

Bless your hearts, ya'll have a blessed day.

Mensa Musings

I don't pass along lots of those emails that float around with cartoons, funny stories, pleas for help for sick children who want to cover their room with cards, etc. but this one put a smile on my face and so I thought I'd add it here. That way I can still say I don't "do" mass emailings! (smile)

The Washington Post's Mensa Invitational once again asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition. Here are this year's winners:
1. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.
2. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly
3. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
4. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.
5. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.
6. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
7. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.
8. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
9. Hipatitis: Terminal coolness.
10. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease.
11. Karmageddon: It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.
12. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.
13. Glibido: All talk and no action.
14. Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
15. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.
16. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
17. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you're eating.

And the pick of the literature: 18. Ignoranus: A person who's both stupid and an asshole.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Those Books and Their Covers!

Perhaps not the ultimate people-watching opportunity but certainly a reminder of the "melting pot" status of the good ol' USofA is Mardi Gras in Galveston. For one thing, it's not New Orleans so we're not talking "Girls Gone Wild" video footage in the making. Families enjoy this parade.

On Saturday night I was struck by four distinct forms of family.

The first group was a Hispanic couple with their almost 3 year old daughter. She was dressed in a fluffy white coat -- which they said would stay white since she was such an obsessive child about cleanliness, totally contradicting the fact that I had just watched her dig her little index finger in the dirt along the crack in the sidewalk. We learned they were from Houston, in Galveston for the weekend, they'd not been to a parade since the baby was born, etc. As usual the child was a bead magnet with every float falling in love with her and dishing out all manner of prizes to the mom. We LIKED them.

The next group was an African-American family that include a tall beautiful mom, a shorter and stocky dad, a maybe 5 or 6 year old son that they kept pulling back from the chaos at roadside, and a 7th grader who was the nicest young man of that age I've been around in a while. At first quiet, they warmed to us and we definitely LIKED them.

A surprise was the five or six Hispanic youth who had "don't mess with us, we're trouble" written in invisible ink on their bandanas and t-shirts and what not. Initially fearful of them, something possessed me to stand up for my inability to stand tall and when they almost fell on me for the sixth time as they crowded in front of me to grab the thrown beads, I loudly declared, "I'm short and I'm older than you so move on down the road and give me some room." What I loved about that moment is that they stopped in their tracks, looked at me and did exactly as I said. Even the African American mom was impressed with me. Once they moved out of my way, I even LIKED them.

And then there was THAT group . . . the ones who came late, crowded in, chain smoked around the children and kept downing coke and crowns as if they were going to stop producing liquor any minute now. They were all heavy set, all unkempt, all near or close to three sheets in the wind and we did NOT like them.

I was sort of amazed at the diversity. And how each group was so very distinct. And then I began writing this and realized that any one of these groups might have relished describing my little band as well. Three men and one woman, middle aged, gregarious, talkative, obviously very comfortable with one another and not one of them looked married to the other . . . hmmmmmm wonder what their story is????

Can't judge a book by its cover, can you?

Saturday, February 05, 2005

A True Tale of the South

A Louisiana-born friend of mine tells the story his father told him:

Seems there was a young woman in the small LA town of my friend's birth who in the 1930s found that she was pregnant and unmarried. The church, concerned about her spiritual well-being suggested that if she were going to act un-church-like, perhaps she shouldn't be considering herself a member of their congregation. She repented and they kept her in the fold on her promise that she would "do better" in the future.

A few years later and still unmarried she had twins . . . the town dubbed them the "do better" girls.

Friday, February 04, 2005

He Asked

"How's it going?"
He asked with genuine-ness,
taking his seat at my otherwise empty table.

One of the good guys,
he refrained from empty
platitudes and
showy gestures.

So I answered.

"Do you see those two young men
at the end of the table?
The ones who look as though they
just entered college?
Do you see the crowd surrounding them?
Do you hear the excitement in each greeting?

"They were invited to this all-male
gathering of priests and pastors.
Pleas went out for this next generation
to participate.

"They were invited,
And I'm allowed to be here.

"So under the circumstances,
allowing for that . . .
it's going well."

Hand Me a Towel

Run away thoughts race
through my mind

Not from
family and friends
But to
The next adventure,
the new idea.

Yet the only pavement pounded
is treadmill like in its routine
Fears of stumbling
still securing my hands and feet
to that which is sure.

I refuse to release.

"Someday soon"
I tell myself
As I sweat through the too familiar
And only
Imagine the idea
Of the not-yet-to-be.

Mine Would Be Red

I said I'd meet a physical challenge this year
And I have.

I said I'd plan a trip to somewhere I've never been
And I have.

It's only February
And I'm restless
for the next big adventure.

If this is a mid-life crisis,
couldn't I just buy a car
and be done with it?


I want so much to be poetic --
For succinct profundities to purge
themselves from pen to paper.

Yet I'm tied
To too many rules
To freely let my spirit dance and sing and
play across the page.

Constrained by the unspoken criticism
I'm sure awaits me,
I avoid the jeers of my peers,
Keeping to the lines and borders
Never nearing freedom
Forever taunted by benign bullies
of my own making.

Sometimes They Just Rhyme

Would you let your imagination
take you to places
I'd like you to go . . .

Places dark and lucious
with secrets
you've yet to know?

Would you trust my hands
to guide you
as you take
each step blind?

Would you relax
with me beside you
and trust
I'll help you find . . .

Mysteries and magic
Still unexplained,
Delectables and delights . . .
The line between pleasure and pain,
Groans and utterings
Held too long within,
What some see as faith
and others call sin.

Would you?

Thursday, February 03, 2005

J Says I've Not Posted in a While

5 Days! Between sickness, travel, and going to see a bad movie that was truly not worth my time (but did net me my first post in 5 days), I've been silent for a while.

Believe it or not, sometimes I have nothing to say.

When Does a Trailer Become THE Movie?

Saw a movie last night (won't say the name because to do so will perhaps make this very blog the kind of spoiler I'm about to rant against) and exactly what I feared would happen did indeed happen. The trailer that I'd been seeing for the last week gives the twist ending away. While simultaneously imploring viewers to not tell the movie's "secret," some stupid marketing guru determined that they should also slip in the one scene that would insure even a not-so-astute movie goer would be able to easily put the pieces together.


Mindless entertainment draped in the facade of making me think . . . is that too much to ask?