Saturday, May 30, 2009

" can't catch me, I'm the who-knows-what-shaped man"

(Pre-Script: This post and the song "Unwritten," #5 on the playlist, go together like milk and warm cookies, so before you read it, go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

To everyone who has ever wondered why the letter pronounced as "double you" is not actually called "double v," and/or why the word "phonetic" is not actually spelled phonetically, I have this to say:

I think that often the people who think they are getting it all wrong are often the ones getting it the most right. Maybe you were told that you needed to fit into a box or someone elses cookie cutter shape, but only parts of yourself fit into the cookie cutter shape, the rest just spilled out all over and left a sloppy mess that cannot be formed into someone's ideal cookie shape. But who is the one wielding the cookie cutter anyway? Some little infant in a full grown sized body who is getting old. Because all of the little infants in full grown bodies are getting old. They are also getting stale and crusty, much like the cookies they tried to force into their perfect little shapes. But your life was never meant to be a cookie cutter shape for the infants in full grown bodies getting old. The infants in full grown bodies getting old just want to eat you, and get fat. Fatter and old, but never older, never more enlightened or mature, never wise. If you let them force you into their mold then bake you and eat you, guess what, you will become what ate you. You are what you eat, and you are what you let eat you, too.


Friday, May 29, 2009

Hope cracks

(Pre-Script: This poem is hoping to be paired with the song,"A Thousand Winter's Melting," #16 on the playlist, so go down and click on that song, then come back and read the poem as the song lulls you in the background. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)
I am where I am for crushing purposes
I am where I am for smashing me.
I hold hope in my hand,
in my open palm
like a fragile egg I do not wish to break
but sometimes
when the darkest defeat is too slip slimy,
I forget to be careful,
I raise my hand in self defense, and the egg
rolls right off of my hand,
and hope cracks open
over my head like a raw egg,
dripping and sticky,
some of it transparent, and some opaque,
but I wear hope
on top of my head
and when it dries there, it will leave a coating,
and the coating will be shiny.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Power of Gum

(Pre-script: I hope that as you read this you have just placed a fresh piece of gum in your mouth, or are in the middle of real good piece, just at that perfect sweet spot of gum chewing perfection. Chew that thing out, baby. Chew it out. Also, go down to the playlist and click on the song, " The Power of Love," #48,only when you sing along, change the lyrics to "The Power of Gum," then come back and resume reading. I'll wait.) (...still waiting...)

I don't know what kind of gum you chew, but mine comes with this warning:

"Not a low calorie food."

Sweet Potato Pie and Shut My Mouth, This just takes all of my preconceived notions about gum and throws them out the window. I have not ever thought of gum as a "food." Whenever I hear a person say:

"...blah blah blah, Eating Gum, blah blah blah,"

in a sentence, I feel as if I have been slapped the face by a weak girl.* One does not EAT gum. Gum is a delightfully mouthwatering, flavorful, chewing experience that helps in the practice and perfection of bubble blowing skills, and in clear thinking skills. My thoughts only go from "deep" to "super deep," for which I credit the gum chewing.

When gum has died, gone flat, lost it's flavor, gotten hard, gotten mushy, or you are just done with it already, you are expected to remove it from your mouth and throw it away in an appropriate trash receptacle. You do not put it under the chair upon which you are sitting, or under the table in front of you. If you are outdoors, you do not toss it outdoors, for surely some small woodland creature will try to swallow it, it will get stuck in his throat, and he will die. Apparently small woodland creatures also mistake gum for food. It is their fatal flaw.
I knew not to swallow my gum when I was a kid, and someone told me that it takes 7 years for a piece of gum to digest. No one wants a big ball of gum stuck in his or her stomach for 7 years, made up of all of the pieces of gum you have swallowed within that time period. No one...although now that I think about it, that will be a good excuse to use from now on, anytime someone says to you, "Are you bloated/retaining water/pregnant/or did you just have a baby," You can tell him or her,

"No, it's just a big ball of gum, I am still waiting for it to digest. Should be about 4 more years and 3 more months, by my estimations."

"DOH! I mistook it for a food again; I keep swallowing it."

But gum is not food; One is not expected to swallow it, which WOULD be eating gum, which is NOT LOW in calories, let's be honest. But apparently, the calories leak out, anyway, stealthily, while you are chewing it. The pack I just opened said "The calorie content for this size piece of gum has been changed from 7 to 4." Before I read that, it had never occurred to me about different sizes of gum pieces having different calorie amounts. Sometimes I chew two pieces of gum at I guess I am now going to have to double up on my workouts. DOH! Dagnabbit Gumblasted Gum.


*Not all girls are weak, there are many strong girls, there are also weak girls, and do you want to be slapped in the face by either? No, no you don't.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

New Foundation, Old Grief

(Pre-script: The perfect note of nostalgia for this post is contained within the song,"Viva La Vida," by Coldplay, so go down to the playlist, click on that song, (#8) then come back and resume reading. I'll wait.) (...still waiting...)

"...And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away." -Ezra 3:11b-13.

If you would be willing to hear from within the reaches of your own heart, this is the sound you would hear from within mine; a loud shout that can be heard from a great distance, the joy and the grief indistinguishable. Tears of celebration and loss intertwine in the dirt below my feet. The dirt is important; my tears land upon it, my feet walk upon it. My feet get muddy. The tears wash off grime, then create more mud. I walk forward, through it. I do not transcend above the mud. I am walking it out, one step in front of me, even if I have to stop every now and then, and remember, and weep. But I cannot stay there. The new foundation that has been built is in front of me. I stop to acknowledge the hard work that went into it's creation. Before I put one stone upon it, I stop to acknowledge it. I will not be building some old glory, or something once beautiful that only still exists in my mind. I can only build with the materials I have at my disposal now, today. I do not know how the end result will exactly look, regardless of what once may have been. The next step is forward, even when my feet are unbearable muddy; even when I cannot see through the tears. I know that the only next step is still, and always, forward, so that is where I bravely step.


Friday, May 22, 2009


Pre-Script: To be more baffled by this post than you normally would be, you must read it as the song," 100 Years," by Five for Fighting, #2 on the playlist, plays in the background. Go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait. ) (...still waiting.)Italic

When you are 3 years old and your baby sister dies, you spend a lot of childhood time in the cemetery. I have always loved the cemetery, especially the old parts. I am a curious and imaginative person by nature, who is archaeological, sociological, and sometimes anthropologically minded. I love that at "my" cemetery, there are still headstones standing, the really old ones leaning with age. I am aware that some cemeteries, for the sake of practicality, have knocked all of the headstones over for the ease of lawn mowing. I like seeing them all standing there, though, old and leaning. I like to read the dates, the names, the words someone else left behind that give only the minutest clues of the life contained in the body buried below. I often wonder, "What was that person's life like?" "How did Mary Anne Smith live, from July 7, 1782-May 4, 1840?"
Basically, I just think it's fascinating that when you go to a cemetery, there are bodies and bodies and bodies buried just below the grass upon which you are standing. I wish that someone would hand me a shovel and say "Go for it, with our blessing." I would want to dig up the graves. I am curious as all get out to see what people were buried in, at a particular time period, and how it has kept up underground over the years. I want to see what state the bodies are in, too, and what kind of "stuff" the grieving loved ones left behind had thought significant to place inside the casket at the time of burial. I bet that some of the most interesting antique jewelry is just below you, when you are standing in the cemetery.
I hope (HOPE HOPE!!) to someday find out.


Chasing peacocks

(Pre-script: To get your money's worth out of this post, you must fully engage in it. In order to so, I recommend strapping on your running shoes before reading, regardless of whatever else you are wearing, and also, turn on the song, "Blackbird," #15 on the playlist below, before you resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

When your baby sister dies and you are 3 years old, you spend a lot of your childhood in the cemetery. I have always loved the cemetery where my sister's body was buried. There are large over shadowing old trees, statues, fountains, old graves, and peacocks who strut around. My siblings and cousins and I used to chase the peacocks in an attempt to pluck a tail feather. My cousin Kelly used to barely pinch my hand and say, "It doesn't hurt them, it just feels like this." Kelly was 6 years older than me, so I believed her, and never once thought to question how she understood the nerve endings of a peacock; instead I just passed along the knowledge she had given to me to anyone who would listen. Not a lot of people listened to me, probably because I had a tendency to just mouth the words I meant to say, and not actually say them, after my sister died. We never gave up chasing the peacocks, even though we never got a feather. As long as we could see and chase the peacock, there was a chance that we would one day catch a feather, a large gaudy gloriously colorful feather. And then we would have it to hold and to keep, for we would have acquired it, ta da, and who's to tell you what to do with the peacock feathers you acquire over a childhood, no one can, although certain grown ups will tell you to wash your hands, scrub them good with soap and hot water, there are scummy feather germs that could affect you somehow. Too late to protect you from the emotional germs that had already affected you, that had brought you to this makeshift garden where the peacock's roam, in the first place. But I never caught a feather, I just always chased, chased, and chased, red faced and puffing hard, even in my once neat and unscuffed Mary Janes and ribbon tied dresses.

Fast forward a couple decades to a time when I had 2 babies of my own. I lived less than half a mile away from the cemetery, "my" cemetery, and when I got restless, I would pack those babies in the double stroller and jog to the cemetery. Right near my sister's plot there is a very steep hill that climbs for a quarter of a mile. I would push that double stroller up that hill, and down, up that hill, and down, 10 times in a row. I would also point out statues of Jesus, and the disciples, and fountains, and peacocks, and hens, and roosters who roamed the grounds. On the top of that hill, we could look down and see our little house in the distance, half a mile away. I would tell them stories, and they would make requests; "Take us to the fountain over there" "Show us Jesus over there" "Show us Mary kneeling at Jesus' feet." or sometimes, Let's go looking for peacocks" so we would, all together, the babies securely strapped in their seats with snacks and sippy cups, and me, secure in my running shoes, my steady feet the power behind the pursuit of the hope of a feather. I have yet to obtain one.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Burn and flow

(Pre-Script: This post best pairs best with the song, " Mysterious Ways," by U2, #24 on the playlist, so go down to the playlist, click on that song, and let it play in the background as you read this poem. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

The fire burning does not stand still
as it kills
as it clears
my oldest fields now turned to straw
and weed
(the dry brittle things burn first and fastest)
as it purifies and draws things out of themselves
until there is nothing left to burn
no one knows what shapes will emerge from the flames
but the fire does not maintain a single form
always restlessly reaching
uncontainedly fierce
the river is that way too,
never still always pushing
at the banks
and I
am that way too
burning and flowing
shape shifting shapes til
I look like what I am.



Monday, May 18, 2009

So there I was wielding salad tongs and sharp knives when suddenly I became a Waitress.

(Pre-Script: Before you take my hand and skip down memory lane with me, please go down to the playlist, click on the song, "The Story," #42, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait, and reminisce...) (...still waiting, and reminiscing...)

The world of feta cheese and goat cheese opened up to me like a gate into a secret magic garden, and my taste buds were never the same. Please do not stop and tell me that feta and goat cheese are the same, they may come from the same goat, but the 2 cheeses are different, in texture and taste. Both are magical. I learned of such goodness when I began working at a little 16 table cafe called 29 East Main Cafe, because that was the address of the restaurant. All of the food was made from scratch, including the salad dressing and croutons, including the pizza dough and marinated tomatoes. I started off as a salad girl, working the salad station, chopping the vegetables, stocking the dressings, and my station was right behind the counter, so I could see everyone as I created each individual salad order. Man, I made a pretty salad, too, and I did not skimp on the ingredients. I also rocked the cash register like nobody's business, and my till USUALLY zeroed out at the end of each night. (I have always enjoyed working a cash register, and would do it again in a heartbeat.)

At this time, I had one very obvious admirer, a man who used to come in and stare at me. The staring is what gave him away. It was unnatural. It was creepy. Yes, He used to sit at his table and stare at me the entire visit. Sometimes he would write furiously in a notebook. When he left, he would walk out backwards while still staring at me. The cafe front was all glass, so he would walk past outside slowly while still staring at me. One night he left a present for me. It was a gift bag that contained a glass jar of pistachios, and a card with a kitten on the front, inside the card, he had written "I look forward to seeing you soon, Love, Arthur." I had no idea what to make of that. I still don't. I have a theory that maybe he was writing a book, and basing a character on me. He needed to observe a person building custom salad's so that he could accurately develop the character in his award winning novel. I hope it worked out for him. So far I have not seen any such characters in any of the library books I have checked out, but I have not discounted the possibility completely yet.

Eventually, after much begging and prodding and campaigning for myself to Joe, the greatest boss ever invented,, I was promoted to my all time dream job, waitress. The politically correct term is "food server" but there is nothing intriguing about that gender neutral term, and I am intriguing, and I am decidedly not gender neutral. I was a "Waitress."

And so I became a Waitress, and that's when the fun really began.

What a waitress does not want to hear: "Wow, this place is expensive." as she is standing there, at the table, waiting to take your order.

SPECIAL NOTE, PEEPS: the WAITRESS does NOT fix the prices...Hello??

Yet I cannot count the times people would say that to me while I was standing there waiting to take their order.
Me, blink blink, okay.
Customer, looking back at me with disdain.
It's like, if you don't think it's worth it, then leave already. I did not chain you to the table when you sat down. Believe me, this is not that kind of restaurant.

As a waitress, you work the charm. You chit and chat and smile, and you try not to say "How is everything?" To people who have just stuffed food into their faces, or who have yet to take a bite. You also try to be hyper aware of the beverage levels of everyone in the restaurant, and stealthily refill the cups while customers eat and chat, as if you are a ghost, seamless, without interrupting the flow.

Sometimes you might also get caught up in the crazy antics of your fellow employees. You might, say, have a fellow waiter, let's call him "Dave, " who stands at the wait station with you folding boxes and tells you the entire plot to every movie he has ever seen that you have not seen. I remember very specific details of "The Game," starring Michael Douglas, for instance, and I have never seen that movie.

I will never forget the man who used to sit in the front right window seat with his wife; He ordered the same pizza every time, very specifically, extra cheddar cheese, salami, both all the way to the edges of the thin sourdough crust. He wanted his Chianti filled to just the right line on the glass. He wanted actual anchovies on his Caesar salad. He wanted mango sorbetto for dessert with 2 cookies sticking out. His wife just smiled sweetly and ate along. The man was worth it though, I think he routinely left 10-15 dollar tips. If that does not sound like much to you, remember, this was 12 years ago, when 10-15 dollars meant something anymore. Gosh, people.

You might also think it's cute that every Monday at 5, a blond family of 4 comes in for dinner, and you might think it's cute and sweet that their little son likes to take the bill right up to the register every week all by himself, so you keep letting him do it. You might then experience his mother, who you have always thought sort of resembles Helen Hunt, but with monster gymnast on steroids calves, who sweetly and casually says to you one day, "I used to wait tables for years, and you are the worst waitress I have ever experienced." gulp. Oh...(pregnant mental pause...) Um,

is that how you got those monster calves?

(-Monster calves tipped 5.oo every week.)

If you are a waitress, you might gain a running partner when it comes up in conversation with a couple of regular customers that you run, and so does the one guy, so his buddy goes, 'why don't you run together," and you say "I am always looking for a running partner, I feel safer that way, running up in the hills of Los Gatos where the snakes and mountain lions and tarantulas and rapists hide out," and the guy says "I would love to run with you" because he regularly runs that route, anyway, so you start running together, and on these runs, you talk, and he tells you all about a girl he loves who has a boyfriend, and you advise him every time just to talk to her, just talk to her, just tell her, and he says "no, I can't she has a boyfriend." every time, and it never occurs to you until like 5 years later that, duh, maybe he was talking about YOU...and you kept telling him to tell the girl, and maybe he was TRYING TO. Oh. Well, Sweet Potato Pie and shut my mouth, that's what he gets for being subtle. I wonder what happened to that guy though; He was a good tipper. I think he and his buddy always tipped at least 7.00.

There was also the night, a very busy Friday, when your physics lab partner, at the end of the semester, stood outside the restaurant, pacing, and the other wait staff told you that he was there, very nervous, afraid to come in. Finally in the middle of the mad rush, he walked right up to you and handed you a single red rose and said he was going to call you...and then he did call and ask you out, and it caught you so off guard, because in lab class, all you had ever talked about was the task at hand. usually you were in class in your 29 E. Main Cafe waitressing clothes though, because you were headed to work after class, so he did know you worked there, but he had never been there before.

There was also the time when a couple of screaming preteen girls started screaming about some of your customers, and you were like, "What?" and so you went up and asked them, "what was that about?" and found out it was the lead singer of Smash Mouth, another band member, and a body guard. You had enjoyed their songs, but did not recognize the face. The body guard said something like, "do you want his autograph?" and you said, "No," because you're just not an autograph kind of person, even if you DID appreciate the lyrics of their most recent single. He seemed insulted. You did leave them your autograph, though, at the bottom of the bill, and they left you a halfway decent tip, but not a great one. I think they left 5.00 and change.

SPECIAL NOTE: When the body guards of famous people ask if you want the famous person's autograph, just say "yes," espescially when the celebrity in question is sitting right there...HELLO, THIS ONE should also be obvious.)

There are other customers, like the family who regularly comes and sits in your station. You know their order like your mother's maiden name, they are a little shy, but kind, maybe from the Milwaukee or Idaho, probably; you do everything you can for them, yet they still only leave a 4.oo tip every week. They think this is a good tip. This is not a good tip because there are 4 of them, and they order too much for this to be a good tip. But they ask for you, because they like you, they really, really like you. So you take them, and you treat them as if they were the $15.oo tipper, even though you know that you are only getting $4.00 out of them.


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Light 'er up

(Pre-Script: To increase the entertainment quotient of this post by 74%, it must be read as the song, "32 Flavors," #22 on the playlist, plays, so go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I can be very patient...I will wait...) (...still waiting...)

I am brave. I know this because a nurse at the Red Cross told me that I was brave about 12 years ago, and I believed her then, and I still believe her now. I used to donate blood every 6 weeks, and from that, I moved on to donating platelets every 2 weeks. The process of donating platelets is called "Pheresis," where the blood is drawn out of one arm, spun in a machine to separate the platelets from the rest of the blood, then the platelet-less blood is put back into your other arm, so you are not losing very much blood, mostly just platelets. It takes 2 hours, so you watch a movie while you sit there with needles sticking out of your arms. I wanted a chance to sit in the really comfortable looking recliners that only the pheresis donors got to sit in, wanted access to the part of the room that only the pheresis donors had access to, and because why get one arm pricked when you can get both arms pricked at the same time? I was also motivated by the idea of getting a pin for every gallon that I donated. I have never ever gotten used to needle pricks though, and do not ever plan to, for as long as I both shall live. Every time someone is getting ready to stick a needle into me, I say, "Be careful, do it as gently as you can, I am the most squeamish person ever," and I over emphasize this, because then they take me seriously, and do not just jam that needle any which way they can. I was going through my bi-weekly ritual of "be careful I am so scared and such a wimp" when the nurse who was about to poke my arm said "You are not a wimp, you are very brave, because you are scared, but you choose to keep coming back and doing it, anyway."

Well, Sweet Potato Pie and Shut My Mouth, she was RIGHT!

There are many other things I have done in life that I thought were brave, but looking back I now realize were just stupid. I will not detail the list here, I do not have the time or the energy for such a task. Just assume that I probably did the last one of those things 2 minutes before I started typing this, and will probably do the next as soon as I stand up.

My knowledge of my own lack of natural talent and skills has not always kept me from doing the thing for which I am in no way gifted anyway. For example, I learned how to breathe correctly from my diaphragm when singing when I was a young child, and can carry a tune in a choir type of situation, and have in fact been a member of many a choir, but I am by no means a good singer outside of the shower. This did not stop me from trying out at a local theater when I was 18 for the lead female role in a play, even though I could not sing or dance, and the part required both. I tried out on a whim, because some boy was also trying out for this particular show. I was totally unprepared, yet out of many talented ladies, I got the lead female part. Did you hear me say that it was the LEAD role?? The director was probably on drugs that day, because I got the part.

The first half of the show was a melodrama, like an old western play, and I was the heroine, the picture of rosy cheeked sweet innocent damsel in distress. We had lines and a script, but we could also add lib. The audience was allowed and encouraged to both throw popcorn and to talk to us, and we could talk long we stayed in character. No two nights were exactly the same. Sometimes there would be troops of Girl Scouts who were dragged there by their scout masters, and as a cast, these were not our favorite nights; the kids would loudly talk to each other and not pay attention to the play. Sometimes I would yell down to them, "HEY! Isn't it past your bedtime???" Then backstage, the cast would make up songs to sing to the girl scouts that went something like, "Don't you have cookies to bake?" "Thin mints, samoas, peanut butter blossoms" I remember that at "peanut butter blossoms," the tune would pick up, and there were also awesome Broadway show type moves to accompany this fun little backstage ditty.
As much as I loved the melodrama half of the show, the director would not take my word for it that I could not sing, and assigned me a solo to sing during the vaudeville half of the show. During practice, he made me stand on the stage and sing as loud as I could while he stood in the back of the theater and listened. This is about as embarrassing as if he had asked me to give birth on stage. He then told me that I was not opening my mouth when I sang, and that I needed to OPEN MY MOUTH AS WIDE AS I COULD EVEN IF I FELT STUPID DOING IT, JUST DO IT AND I did. He was right, I felt stupid. Then he told me that my tone was better when I actually opened my mouth all the way when I sang. It was a good tip, but the solo was eventually taken out of the vaudevillian half...because no one should ever, ever have to pay money to hear that. The little people who's address was once my uterus get to hear it for free, and they are NOT happy about that, but I have the power to lock their doors so that they cannot escape the vehicle in which we are driving, nor do I give them control of the car c.d. player or radio. However, I do take requests, and I always make sure that they never get elbow smacked or kicked during the interpretive dance portion of my fantastic car performances. (Whoever decided it was safest for kids to sit in the backseat was more right than he or she knew.)
The director eventually gave up on me, and I was only included in the vaudeville numbers that required the entire cast. There were two ending dance numbers, and the finale where we all sang together. It went something like this:

"Gaslighter's lightin' up,
and evening is through,
we do it with dancing, and singing,
it's (clap) all for you!
Time for us to leave you now,
it's sadly drawing near,
we hope you had lots of fun,
with everyone, that's (stomp) why we're HERE!"

Then some cool ending pose, which I am forgetting now. It doesn't mean I couldn't make up something right now, though.

I performed that show every Friday and Saturday night for 6 months.

My singing and dancing never improved.


Friday, May 15, 2009

The Most Important Thing

(Pre-Script: This post will be best digested as the song, "Gone," #50 on the playlist, plays in the background, so go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

If you really want to know what the most important thing in the world is, do not ask anyone; you will hear a lot of great essay worthy, pulitzer prize worthy answers, but if you really want to know what matters to the people of this country, all you have to do is read the covers of the magazines at the checkout stands in any store. I did this just today, and I learned that the most important thing in the world is People Who Have Lost A Whole Lot of Weight. This is only slightly more important than People Who Have Gained a Whole Lot Of Weight And Have Vowed To Lose It as We All Watch.
Americans are all so fascinated with these stories of "How I lost 500 lbs,. Or "How I Stay In Such Good Shape," The cover is always some starlet who was always skinny to begin with because she is only 19 years old, or because she is anorexic, but will never admit it, and I don't blame her, why would she admit that to all of the flashbulbs who are making assumptions, judging her, and objectifying her, anyway, just so they will have one more thing to pick apart and criticise about her? or she has a personal trainer and chef, or because all she does is party, drink red bull, and pop ritalin pills all day. But if you open the magazine, you can read all about how Mary Joe Grace ate egg white omelets, not whole egg omletes, but just egg white omelets, for apparently losing the yolk is an essential part of weight loss. (I am a whole egg opportunist myself, and concider the yolk of the egg to be "the jackpot." espescially if it is a deviled egg we are talking about. That is straight up goodness, but the starlet who is avoiding egg yellows would gasp or faint if she were to ever read that. The fainting is understandable, what with the partying and red bull and anorexia denial.)
For lunch, Our Little Starlet has a salad with balsamic vinegar, chicken or salmon, and for dinner, chicken or fish with vegetables. Read the magazines, the diet is always just what I wrote, maybe a slight variation, like for example, sometimes she has an apple and string cheese for a snack. Sometimes she has a handful of almonds. And then there is a list of her exercises that her personal trainer coached her through, if you ever want to follow her personal routine of lunges and core work on the exercise ball. And then her trainer adds something cheeky, innovative, cutting edge, and new that no one else has ever thought of yet.
I don't know how many people just read the article in awe, and how many follow the eating and exercise routines of famous and not so famous people who have managed to do the most important thing ever, which is to LOSE WEIGHT, if you believe the magazines.
I used to volunteer every Monday at the local downtown homeless rescue mission, preparing and serving lunch. The food was usually some sort of casserole mash, with plenty of nutricious butter. It was grubbin'. I would often stay and eat with the peeps. It was certainly not diet food, would not fit on either south beach or the zone diet, but I don't think that any of the people eating it were complaining. I think that they were relieved to have something to eat, plus they were mostly thin already from their other addictions, heroin, nicotine, alcohol, and such, and also had other things to worry about, like where to sleep, and how were they going to get through another day, and was it worth it if the addiction wasn't there to back them up, but how could they ever get through it without the addiction, too. These are the things that weigh the balance of a heart, the kind of heart that is never featured on the cover of the magazines and is also unaware that Kirstie Alley gained all that weight back and is now going to lose it all so that she can walk on Oprah's stage in a bikini again.
After the lunch shift at the rescue mission, there was a group of chiropractic students who would set up their tables to get practice hours adjusting the backs of the homeless and destitute for free. So I would stay and get my back adjusted. Some of the students were better back crackers than others; some skillfully pressed, cracked, then thanked you very much and very professionally for your time as they nodded you out. Others took the time to notice when the muscles around the vertibrae were also tight, and would rub and loosen out knotted muscles. These were the ones I predicted would have the most successful practices someday; they did not only touch, but they chose to readjust and knead out ,the dirtiest, smelliest backs in town, backs that had been beaten and trodden down, some permanently bent, even though these people lived in America, the land of every opportunity, like Disneyland, or the Garden of Eden, who's many delicious fruits were just out of reach.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A funny, almost horrible thing happened on the way to Meridian Avenue

(Pre-Script: To fully understand this post, you must first get inside my head. In leu of that possibility, go down to the playlist, click on the song, "Carry On, Wayward Son," by Kansas, #27, then come back and resume reading the post as that song plays in the background. It will not be for naught. I'll wait.) (...still waiting...)

There are reasons why I drive with all of the windows up. Reason # 5 is that it prevents wayward bugs from entering my vehicle while I am stopped at a stoplight or sign. Today I saw a bumble bee attempt to enter the open back window of a man's Honda Civic as he was stopped at a red light. I, too, was stopped at the light, but I was diagonally behind the Honda, so I had full visual. He was a careful driver, with his eyes on the road in front of him, and did not even see the bumble bee who was bumbling towards the Civic's back left passenger window. I started to call out to the bee: "NO! STOP!! YOU are making the WRONG CHOICE!!" it is possible that my inner panic caused a universal shift which was felt by the bee, and that this is why the bee did not enter the unsuspecting Honda driver's vehicle. We will never know, and the man will never know that he almost had a bumble bee in his backseat. I will always wonder how he would have reacted to that. I know how I would react to that, and it would not be pretty.
I'm sorry, but did you hear me when I said "BUMBLE BEE?" Please note that I did not say "Honey Bee," or "Sweet little worker bee" or any such nonsense like that. Bumble bee's are the huge black daddies that Winnie the Pooh cartoons try to cutesify, but in real life they are the size of Dallas. I know this because one such bumble bee flew in my front door a couple weeks ago, and was flying around my living room. It was the size of Dallas. I have never been to Dallas, so I just am guessing at the size, I am not meaning it in a literal sense, please, let's not get too technical here. It is not anything that can be physically measured, but if you could add up the mass of the bumble bee, both real and imagined, plus the size of the bee's ability to terrify and overwhelm, plus, again, the physical and theoretical mass of such a bee, it would add up to, roughly, the size of Dallas. I think.
I did what any self respecting person who fears being simultaneously chased and buzzed at would do: I swung a fly swatter at it with all of my might. I mostly swung in front of my face to keep the thing from getting too close, from getting any closer at all, and also I was swinging to usher the bee out the door. I am quite sure the bumble bee weighed too much for my flimsy swatter to kill, plus I am all for the peaceful coexistence of scaredy cat girl and huge flying buzzing things, as long as one of us (me) can stay indoors while the other (it) remains outdoors. I was also talking the bee through the process, since that seemed to work for Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin, but the bee seemed to be getting angry at my fly swatter, and in turn, the person behind the fly swatter, ("Pay no attention to the girl hiding behind the swatter, doing some crazy wild 'get the bee out of my house' dance of panic") My out loud words were something like, "I am not trying to hurt you, I am just trying to show you how to get outside." and "Jesus, please get this bee out of my house right now, I am terrified" and "Bee, get out, because I really don't want to have to hurt you." And you know, it worked? The bee found the doorway and flew out like a happy champ, smelling the roses and wanting to get him some of that action. Yeah, baby.
Sometimes a child will say to me, "There is a bug/spider/fly/monster in my room ." and I, in my wise wisdom, and fear of indoor bugs, and general trying to feel out a kid who is trying to avoid going to bed from one who is possibly spiritually gifted, will say "Pray to Jesus to make it go away" just in case this "bug" is actually something of a different realm that my child is seeing into, and not just an actual physical bug. That doesn't usually work, so I have to actually investigate, find the bug and destroy it. So far they have all been actual physical bugs. But at least the kids have a mental arsenal of words now to speak into the bugs they encounter in this world. Some of the words they have learned from me to speak into the lives of the bugs they encounter are, "EEK!" and "AAAAHHHHH!"
I remember one evening when I had gotten home late, the house was dark, and I was tired...but before I could relax, I had to go through my nightly routine of turning on every light and checking all of the closets and behind doors, under beds, behind shower curtains, in certain large cupboards, and any other spot in the house that looked like it could be big enough to hide a burglar, if he or she was a contortionist or just very flexible. I was in the middle of completing my burglar hiding spot check when it occurred to me: "I do not have to say a word, but if I continue to act out this type of ritual, I am going to inadvertently teach my children to be afraid." That was the last night I conducted such a ritual. I had been afraid of who might be hiding in my house since I was a child, yet from that moment on, I refused to entertain that fear any longer were it to ever appear again. In 5 years, it has not, and neither has one single burglar been hiding, just waiting for me to get home...either that or they were such good contortionists that they all got out undetected.
I cannot get over the bug fear, nor do I try to pretend it does not exist. If I need to yell at a flying thing, I do. The kids laugh at their goofy Mother, who has a tendency to give them good therapy material for later, so that the dollars that fuel their counseling and rehab habits will not be unwell utilized. Maybe when I am 75 I will be calling them, "Help, dear children I birthed so very long ago, come quickly, there is a bug in my house!" and they will either say,
"Hold on mother, let me put on my slippers and walk up from the basement"
"Mother, I live too far away, I am having too awesome of a life for it to stop just because there is a bug in your general vicinity. Step on it, swat it, go to counseling, or ask Jesus to make it go away."
At that moment, I will know that I can rest in peace, for I will have taught them well.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009


(Pre-Script: This post will infuse your very bones when paired with the song, " Mysterious Ways," by U2, #24 on the playlist, so go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading; I'll wait) (...still waiting...)
Trying to walk on eggshells left me with cut up feet.
Do you know how long it takes to get across the floor when you are constantly having to look at the ground and deliberately place each step?
Do you know how mentally and emotionally tiring that becomes, very quickly?
Then when your feet start to bleed all over, it is harder to tell the difference between the ground and the eggshells. It all becomes one jumbled mess.
I am not going to do that anymore.
So this morning, I put my cutest sandals on, and I buckled them just right.
I walked across the floor with my head high, shoulders back, chest out, stomach in, facing completely forward, and I stomped it out, oh yes, I did, and I did not look at the ground as I crunched every eggshell that I could.
I will tell the truth, if it comes up in conversation.
I will not tell you everything.


Saturday, May 9, 2009

With What Has Been Given

(Pre-Script: This poem should be read as the song, "Winter," by Tori Amos, #33 on the list, plays. Go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

Never however the story it goes

never the princess with pink shiny toes

never the heroine, never the crime

never the one with the string on a dime

never the bride in her white wedding veil

always the dancing rain, always the hail

what you would write when you're locked up in jail,

"where is that girl with the spoon, pen, and pail?"

"where is the garden she brought with the mail?"

always a mermaid fin deep in her heart,

always an arrow and always a dart

always an angel there, perched with a harp

strings she is strumming so crisply, so sharp

songs she is writing and humming and then,

up in the hayloft she hums them again

and again and again and again and again

wondering when, she is wondering when

Honey that drips from a mouth to an ear

drip from the lips of one able to hear

thoughts she cannot think too loud or too clear

rips in her jeans from the wear, and a breeze

rips in her genes for the heir of deceased

green for the springtime and brown for the fall

always a tear for the memory of all

always a golden place, always a spark

always a rusting spot just after dark.



Thursday, May 7, 2009

Little Critters, Beware.

(Pre-Script: to understand the deep depths of this post, it must be paired with the song,"The End Of The Innocence," #41, so go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)
Let's be clear: I do not willingly share my dessert or perfect bath water. So today, I was running a hot bubble bath, about to soak my aching muscles after a long, difficult run. But when I flung my towel over the shower rod, a LIVE Mosquito Eater bug ( Proper Latin name: "Nasty scary bug more huge than your worst nightmare"*) fell off of it into the bubbles and Epsom salt below. I do not have brain sanity space to wrap around the fact that I had just been carrying a towel that contained a live nasty mosquito eater bug. It was now in my bath, attempting to ruin my moment of relaxation. I tried to get the bug out, but I could not find it. It seems that many white bubbles hid it, and the more I swirled the water, the more I could not find the bug. Ew. I tried to reason with myself that Mr. Nasty would surely drown. Some of you will be horrified that I wanted to kill the bug; but it had the nerve to lounge on MY towel and fall into MY bathtub, therefore turning the creepy factor of my life up about 7 notches, and it was in MY house. When it comes to bugs in my own house, I fall on my 2nd Amendment Constitutional Rights. And then I stand there. And then I conduct battle there. If the bugs would just stay outside, in their own happy outdoor world, they would be safe from the execution of my wrath. Once they dare cross my threshold, it's war, and I do not intend to lose. Some would say, "Oh but the sweet little spider means you no harm and will eat the flies. Let it live." The same person will say "Oh, but the sweet Mosquito Eater means you no harm, and will eat the mosquito's, let it live." To which I say, Spiders infested the worst nightmares of my childhood. Have you seen a blown up picture of how closely a spider's eyes are spaced together? It is enough to make you feel nauseated, at the very least. I never need to see that again. Besides, I am sure that there are enough spiders in places like the Amazon Jungle to eat all of the flies in the world. In my house I have a fly swatter for that. Never mind about my aim. Mosquito eaters are huge and ugly. I would not have minded if mosquito's and mosquito eaters had missed the boat together. By "the boat," I am referring to Noah's ark. But they did not miss the boat, proof that I am once again not in control of everything. Thing #7 that I am not in control of: What creatures made it on and off of Noah's ark alive. Thing #2813 that I am not in control of: The Giant Mosquito Eater that had the audacity to fall into my bathwater just as I was about to step in.
So I had a choice: Do I...

A.) step into the tub anyway, even though there is a mystery bug floating somewhere in it's very depths? Do I allow for the unexpected protein addition to my bathwater?

Or do I...

B.) Keep searching indefinitely until I have found, removed, and destroyed the offending bug, possibly causing perfect temperature bath water to go cold?

I chose A.

Someone just read that and fainted.

But I tried to tell myself that the thing would drown. I tried to block the buggity from my mind, and was halfway successful as I soaked in the Epsom salt warm bubbly goodness of the moment. But then as I drained the water, I caught a glimpse of huge buggity Mr. Nasty rushing towards the drain...and I shot out of that bath like a rocket. Oh yes, there are benefits to working out, namely being able to rapidly jump out of the tub at first glimpse of a huge buggity Mr. Nasty.

"But Michelle,"

My Imaginary Reader is interjecting, I can hear it now...

"Michelle, what about draining the bathwater and starting over? Then you could have still had a relaxing bath experience, bug free."

Gentle Reader, I did not even think of that. Drat.

*The Proper Latin Name used here is just a guess.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Eagle Has Landed.

(Pre-script: In order to become the sponge that absorbs this post like hot soapy dishwater, you will first need to go down to the playlist, click on the song, "Superman, by Five for Fighting, #10 on the playlist, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

"Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator or the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint." -Isaiah 40:28-31

I have never been carried on the wings of an eagle, but I have ridden in an airplane many times. It was not always fun. There was turbulence, the claustrophobia at being in a tight space in the sky with too many people and not enough air, leg, or elbow space. The food was not good. I might have had some circulation problems. The great Physics Professors of the world will tell you to stand on a scale while you are high up in an airplane, because surprise, you weigh less the higher you go, since weight is an equation of gravity. You still have mass though. And if you are nervous and Catholic on a turbulent airplane, I'm sure you have a lot of Mass, too. I pray a lot on airplanes. Really, I just want my feet to return to the ground. The Earth ground, not the ground of the airplane in which I am flying high above the Earth, my home planet.
So I really can't imagine enduring the flight of an eagle. I am sure it is extremely windy. I imagine I would get bugs in my teeth, bugs everywhere. Bug gut splatter on my cheeks, bugs I, oops, swallowed, that were flown at me to be protein rich snacks to keep my energy up, so that I do not fall asleep on this big bird and fall off. ("Thank you, Lord, for that unexpected protein.") Does the eagle swoop in such a way that the eagle clears a cliff or a wall or a branch, but I still get wacked? Exactly where do I hold on? What are the chances it could turn around and peck me, or squawk at me? "HUMAN on my BACK! Get the HUMAN off of my Back!! She is like an ADDICTION! Get her OFF!"

"Then Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain and said,"This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles wings and brought you to myself." -Exodus 19:3-4

Y'all, it is clear to me that my idea of what it means to ride on the wings of an eagle have always been a bit too idealistic. They have been glamorized. Because I DO remember what the Israelites had just been through in the beginning of Exodus; it had been painful, scary, and dangerous, and...I doubt that in the midst of their deliverance they felt very much like they were being carried on anyone's wings.
At one point, the idea of flying in an aero-plane was novel, fresh, ideal. Then people did it. Then they did it again. And again. And again. At some point people "got it," that the aero-plane was a small thing (relatively speaking) to herd people into for the purpose of transporting them from point a to point b, fast. Sometimes the period between point a and point b is more pleasant than others. Sometimes it is downright restful and restorative. I have at times found the perfect sweet spot for resting my head, and have slept peacefully and deeply, lulled as I was by the white noise of the engine. Oh, sweet white noise of the engine when exhausted girl has found a sweet surprisingly comfortable position in which to fall asleep, the cares of my "real life" far below me on ground, the ground of the Earth, my home planet, which I am soaring high above. At other times, there are 5 crying babies, I am stuck between two "leg spreaders" who are also "snorers," and "arm rest hoggers," and the movie is one I have seen already and hated already. But at the end of each flight, I have always, always ended up where I was supposed to be- On two feet, on the ground, the ground of the Earth, my home planet, at point b in the destination. It is always such a relief.


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Interrupted tasks

(Pre-Script: To get the biggest bang for your buck, you'll need to, read this post as the song, "Unwritten," #5 on the playlist, plays...go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

It was cold in the car, and I listened to music and wept and talked to God. It wasn't too cold, just luke warm, but I felt slightly feverish, and thought, "I am just feverish because I am heartsick, not sick sick." but then I drove past the school that is shut down due to a confirmed case of the Swine Flu, and I thought, "it is possible that my feverish achy feeling is more than a physical manifestation of my emotional state." I was tired, too, because not enough sleep and heartache and weeping and possible swine flu will do that to you. So I put some things away, I washed some dishes, I dried some. My tasks were interrupted. When I think I have a thing figured out or dialed in, it slips right away, it tosses around a bit, comes back to me changed, sometimes warm. sometimes cold. sometimes room temperature, but always changed, Like a thing that has spent time in the dryer.

The things I get tangled up in like bed sheets
and strings
and hearts and things
long remembered comforts inverted,
I get tangled and strangled
in locked houses long abandoned
drafty, not immune
haunted as ghosts
not actual ghosts but
ghosts of a thought in my mind that lingers and walks
through the walls turns on the lights and bangs on the pots-

"Michelle," my imaginary reader is interrupting,

"Michelle, did you just go from prosey-story type telling to a poetry type of thingamajigger- thingy in the middle of the same post?"

Gentle Reader, yes, yes, I did.

"Um, but Michelle, I am SO confused."

It's okay, Gentle Reader. It's okay. Sleep on it. Goodnight.

P.S. Listening to music while weeping and talking to God is not a bad way to spend an afternoon.