Monday, June 25, 2007

If You Had a Convertible, Wouldn't You Be Smiling?

And if your friend has a convertible, you might muster up a grin as well, don't you think???

Come one, come all, 'cause night time in Houston is the time to use this little Beetle!!!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

I Forget

Why don't I remember . . .
the name of the first boy to ask me out on a real date, where we went, and if I enjoyed him as much as I did the idea that I was on a date,
the literature I read in college and what did and did not move me (other than the frustration I felt at Sozenhitzen's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denosovitch upon realizing it really was just about ONE day),
every vacation I have ever taken . . . in detail and including the views I knew in that moment I'd never forget?

Why don't I remember . . .
movies that brought me to tears,
those after school TV shows that were supposed to teach me moral lessons,
the reason for each time I walked the aisle and rededicated my life at First Baptist in Greenfield,
how it felt the first time I was truly loved?

Why don't I remember . . .
a night of wining and dining has a morning after,
would-be lovers say things I want to hear and real loves don't always hear what I have to say?

Why don't I remember . . . that I don't always remember?

NOTE: If you like poetry -- and even if you don't like mine -- check out Ellen Bass. Her Pray for Peace rocked me!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Coming Soon to a Dream Near You

Early this morning in that space between the end of the dream and the reality of the clock glaring its get-up message at me, I was overwhelmed with a sense of dread. Usually, I make myself conclude the dream, resolve the story line. But today . . . I realized I just didn't care.

The locale of my slumber-induced experience was something like a seminary classroom. I did mention this was a nightmare, right? I was taking over for a professor and using Powerpoint to teach the class, except the presentation was giving me trouble. So much trouble, in fact, that I had lost my place and was scrambling to multi-task -- fix the slide order issue and keep the class engaged in conversation.

But mostly, I was filling time. I knew it and soon enough they did too.

Some distant part of me wanted to give those preacher boys their money's worth, challenge them with the news of the changing environment they were planning on serving. But mostly, I wanted the commitment to end, the class to be over, and me to be free.

Can you say "foreshadowing"?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Surprise! It Worked!

My friend-as-long-as-I've-been-in-Houston Cyndi turns 50 next week. Her family asked me a few weeks back if I would host a surprise birthday party for her. I hesitated only on the "surprise" part. Experience has shown me that usually the only surprise is how early they discover there's a surprised planned.

We did it!

Last night, Cyndi thought she, her husband, and I were going out to dinner. She called to tell me that my chariot awaited and I told her I wasn't quite ready and asked if they could come in for a few minutes.

One of the guests (who were all now standing in my dining area, eyes glued to the window and the gate that Cyndi would be entering) said that the ease with which she heard me lie kind of scared her.

Surprise! Freckles buy me more trustworthiness than I probably merit!

They entered and before she turned the corner into my den she knew something was up. Could have been the Warning: Someone's Turning 50 crime scene tape covering the foyer or maybe the explosion of color and balloons the family had decorated with, but that was the first clue she had. She truly didn't know.

We shouted. We sang. We ate (my contribution was a buffet menu based on some of her favorite things to order in the restaurants we frequent). We played a trivia game about her life (I knew that one of her first boyfriends later got a job as an exotic dancer but I didn't know why she'd been kicked out of church camp). We even decorated flip flops (her shoe of choice) for her to take home.

Cyndi wasn't the only one surprised by the evening. I had fretted that it wasn't going to be received well or that the mix of folks might not work, but I was totally wrong.

And I'm NOT lying when I say I had a great time celebrating a great friend.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

610 Salutations

I'm driving on 610 yesterday and in a jovial mood, listening to tunes, checking out the surrounding vehicles for storylines I could fabricate on the way home when a white pick up pulls alongside me. The driver isn't visible but his "voice" can certainly be heard.

In the back of the truck, this guy has created his own billboard. It's probably three or four feet higher than the cab's hood and runs the length of the truck bed. White, pristine even, the visual announcement includes an encased-in-glass American flag in one corner. The rest of the white board is dedicated to proclaiming the following:

When terrorists kill terrorists and Muslims kill Muslims, the world is a safer place.

America the Beautiful got a bit uglier the moment I read the words. I'm thrilled that he has the right to say what he thinks. I'm even happier that I have the right to think he's an asshole.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Mind in the Gutter

Note: If you are easily offended by innuendo, do yourself a favor and stop reading now.

Writers and editors have long known how violent editorial-speak really is.

Clark Kent may have been working that "mild-mannered" persona but in all likelihood he knew he was Superman long before he donned those tights. He had to deal with deadlines and the knowledge that his story could be killed on a whim. His points would often be made with bullets. Long stories could bleed.

You non-writers might have thought it was all keyboards and white space but I'm telling you, it's a violent, violent word world.

And then ... there's the sleazy side.

One must avoid the gutter in print but we don't hesitate to ask for two more inches to fill the hole.

Oh if it were only that easy!

Monday, June 11, 2007

I Can See Clearly Now

I'm often asked how I have happened upon the friendship network I enjoy. The question sounds innocent enough when read, but how it sometimes should be translated is, "I can't stand some of the people you know, how do you enjoy them so much?"

I was toying with that when it hit me. I don't see what others see.

Now mind you ... if I were to walk into a bar (sounds like a set up for a joke but it's not) I could be just as superficial as the next person. I can objectify a man or woman in minutes.

"Nice chest." "Nice ass." "I'd do him."

See? Crude-avoidance is not what I'm talking about here.

While I can see physical attributes and hone in on the ones I like, I have also trained myself not to see both physical and pyschological characteristics that might be glaringly obvious to others.

Just as I once had to be told that my best friend had shaved his beard (a week later and after years of knowing him with it), I would have to pause for a minute to conjure up a list of any reason why I wouldn't want to hang out with someone.

Because I think I see the essence of people . . . and their potential.

I liken it to women I know (and for some reason it's only women) who see auras eminating from individuals.

I don't see colors, but I think I do see hearts. I see what people want to be, and I'll do everything within my power to help them realize it. I recognize the efforts. Trying matters to me. Even when I am on opposite sides of an argument, if the person truly believes, I applaud their passion.

I learned this from loving my brother (not the twin, but the one who died). We were on the extreme opposites of a theological spectrum. I had friends who could slice and dice and then deep fry others of his particular slant. But I couldn't. Because I saw that while I totally disagreed with almost every belief he held dear, I held dear his belief. He was in and in deep. I had no desire to take it away from him.

Sometimes I entertain the idea of change and, as I said, I am more than willing to walk alongside the transitioning on the path toward realizing their potential, but it's not what drives me.

I don't think that lots of people look at people in this light.

But it's a bright shiny place and I find it warm and inviting.

Friday, June 08, 2007

My Massage Table Is Here!

I love getting massages. I love giving massages. I'm pretty popular at parties when I turn a chair around and start working on backs. A while back I decided a great gift to give myself was the gifts of massages to all my friends. So I enlisted a therapist to "train me up in the way I should go."

Today, the table I ordered weeks ago arrived.

Ahhhhhh...let the relaxation begin.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Playing It Safe on the Ark

Last night I went to a screening of the new movie Evan Almighty. The marketing gurus must have decided that to insure they didn't get any flack from churches concerned with Hollywood envoking God stories (and perhaps not getting it EXACTLY right) they would give out freebies to local pastors and let them see that respect for God and country were evident throughout the flick.

Shame they kept the respect and left out the comedy.

Oh, it's cute enough, but the cleverness of Bruce Almighty is totally absent. Physical humor must trump a good line and bird crap seems to be what someone thought would have us rolling in the aisles.

There's only so much crap you can take before the whole movie smells.

And mostly it smells because everyone was playing it safe -- the writers, the actors, the producers. I think the animal wranglers may have been the only edgy ones in the bunch and even then I'm wondering if most of the two-by-two ensemble were computer generated!!!

Seems "Thou Shall Not Offend" was written on everyone's contract before production began.

And thus, saith the Karen, "it was not good." (Still I love Morgan Freeman and I'll take him as God whenever he's willing to take on the role.)

Wouldn't it be a good day, a day that maybe even the Lord hath made, when Christians could laugh at themselves and remove their righteous indignation and need to protect God (hello!? omnipotent ring a bell?) long enough to encourage artistic risk-taking and maybe even applaud it?

I'm not holding out much hope for a flood, but a cup of cold water for the creative efforts of others wouldn't be too much to ask.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Demolition Therapy

When the Longs first told me they were going to try and save some money on their new house by doing their own demolition work before the remodeling begins, I volunteered to help out. I had no clue what I was committing to, mind you. My "building" experience is limited to roofing under a summer sun on numerous mission trips with youth. I know how to sweat. I don't know that much about tools and what exactly one is supposed to do with them.

But, as an enabler who is very self-aware of her family issues, I was more than willing to "help" -- whatever that might look like. The first glimpse at what I'd signed on for happened the first week. We were tearing out the kitchen cabinets. These stained fortresses to the kitchen gods were built with a bit more care than the ones I've encountered in the apartments I've lived in the last few years. I pushed. I pulled. I figured out leverage might come in handy and grabbed a screwdriver to wedge the hinges loose. I continued to push. I continued to pull. Soon I was playing a blues song in my head as I wondered if anyone was noticing that the non-handy-woman was still on the first assignment as they were removing large portions of dry wall and entire countertops.

When the sweat began dripping off the end of my nose, I found some new resolve and eventually, those doors came off!

Next we took on a bathroom and I held my own with a crowbar as the ceiling came down on top of my dirt-covered, sweat-soaked breasts.

This weekend we did the upstairs bathroom. Now catch that if you will, ok? "Upstairs" translates into trips both up and down, up and down, up and down as the various cabinets, wall fixtures, tiles, and bath tub pieces had to be removed and placed in the dumpster on the street.

This time I traded in the crowbar for a sledge hammer and took out three walls of tiles from Spain. I probably didn't look like a pro while in action but I got the job done.

Breathing was a priority in the heat-always-rises level of the slowly evolving home. Conversations were limited to "excuse me, did I hit you with that?" And/or "sorry ... so quiet ... just ... trying ... to breathe."

I must say that while there were definitely stresses and strains to the body, I was mildly amused at how much satifaction I found in destruction.

As I left the culprits who had engaged me in service to the final stages of the tear out, I had to laugh. "Thanks for saving me a couple of hundred dollars in therapy costs!" was about all I could muster.

They grunted and hit the tub one more time.