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...over-educated and under-experienced, or so they say...

Monday, April 30, 2012

Music Is In The Soul

We had a big music weekend.

I had been playing music with a certain group of people for the past few years and, if you'd read The Send Off , you can probably put together how huge that experience was for me and for Hope and for everyone else involved.

The send off was Sunday.  It was emotional, to say the least, but it was perfect and beautiful and I wouldn't have it any other way, but it left me in tears.

I connected with every single person involved, but there was one in particular that I connected with more than others.  And to play music in that space again was so normal and yet... so abnormal, all at the same time, and, like I said, it left me in tears.  But even as I cried through most of the afternoon, at some point I had to pull myself together because my daughter and I had another musical engagement to attend to.

Ingrid Michaelson is my most favorite female artist these days, and she was playing at The Rialto in Tucson that night.  So we got ready and made our way out to see her.

My head was hurting, my stomach was hurting, and my eyes were swollen.  We were driving down the highway listening to music and my daughter finally said, "Music is strange, if you think about it.  We make noises with our voices that are different from speaking and it moves us somehow.  Isn't it weird?"

I smiled at her and agreed that it was weird, but weird in a beautiful way, weird in what I would consider a God way.  No matter your background, everyone uses music to worship, to meditate, to focus, or to reach some sort of emotional level that they just can't do with silence or simple words -- the voice soars when singing in a way that it can't do while speaking, and the instruments build the emotion behind the lyrics and somehow the message is communicated in a poignant way that the written and spoken word just can't get across.  I don't know why humans have this part of them.  I have no logic, no reason, no science in my intellect that can explain it all, but as an artist, as a musician, I have to say that music is a gift from a higher source and it is something that makes us special and unique.  We tell stories in song, we express emotions in song, we communicate in ways that reach masses of people unlike any other.  Music is universal.

We shared that moment, which was enough to bring me out of my tear induced headache for a while, and we got to Tucson, and we stood in line, and we took our seat in the theater, and then... the opening band came out.

They came out with their tight harmonies and their excellent musicianship and their poignant lyrics.  And as I sat there feeling the weight of my own sadness, brought on by memories that I had tried to bury, as I sat there with melancholy at my side, they started to sing songs that lifted me out of the dark -- songs of love and experience.

I had no clue who they were, but they were amazing and they moved me, just like I had explained to her in the car -- they told stories, in song, that were universal and they spoke on a human level as they sang:

...can't stop a heart that's bound to break, but you don't have to let it bleed, so if we're both here in darkness, I'll be the first to shine the light, I won't let you lose your voice here, screaming into the night .... I know... you're breaking down.  You'll make it through, but I can't do it for you.  

And their voices raised in the most beautiful harmony, and the emotion rose with the instruments in such a way that we all, every single one of us, suddenly felt inspired.

I watched one person after another, people who simply came to see the headliner, walk in closer and closer to the stage in an attempt to get close and be a part of this musical experience, wanting to hear and feel what was expressed in song, and knowing that, on some life level, they were a part of it.

And yes, music is a gift and it is, in a world of war and political bull shit, the one gift that humans seem to have gotten right.

Harper Blynn -- Bound To Break

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Gently Weeping

Something came to an end today
Something left me in tears
and I won't play my guitar
but I would give anything to hear yours weeping.

I remember wishing I had six strings
so you could make me sing,
but today I remembered
I sing with no one the way I sing with you.

Something left me today
Something that brings me to tears
and I place my guitar in the closet
but I would give anything to hear yours weeping

I remember waltzing in the ethers
all heart and soul and voice and distortion
but today I remember how this all went down
I hurt with no other the way I hurt with you

Something faded today
Something that drenched me in tears
and I shove my music in the corner
ashes to ashes and dust to dust
and I put my microphone away
and put it all behind me
and I leave it all to collect dust in the attic
and I throw this and I throw that
and my head hurts from crying
but still...
I would give...
I would give  anything to hear that guitar
gently weep.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Charcoal Burnt & Slightly Burnt

Pandora and Sunshine in the lunchroom.

Pandora: (takes a bite of the chicken salad) Mmmm....  this must be why all the other meats try to taste like chicken.

Sunshine: ...huh?

Pandora:   You know... Every time someone eats something strange like snake or alligator and you ask them what it's like, they say it tastes like chicken.

Sunshine:   Ya, well, they lie.  I don't believe anyone when they say it tastes like chicken, because if it tastes like chicken and it ain't chicken, I'm not eating it.

Pandora:  (smiles and shakes her head)

Sunshine:  Mmmm... You smell that?  Smells like popcorn.  I should make me some popcorn.  I like the Kettle Corn, only I like mine slightly burnt... mmm.... so good!

Pandora:  What?  You like burned popcorn?

Sunshine: I said slightly burnt, and yes, it's good!  It smells the place up, but it's good!

Pandora: Are you crazy?  Burned popcorn from the microwave even?

Sunshine:  Well, ya!  What you think I'm gonna do up in here?  Bring in a Jiffy Pop?  Bring in the popcorn cart from the Carnival down the street peddlin' my own burnt popcorn stand?  Of course it's microwave.

Pandora: Oh man...  burned food is terrible enough as it is, but I'm completely paranoid about microwave burned.  That's radiation!  That's all... charcoal from another planet or something and now you're putting it in your mouth and saying it tastes good!  It's going to kill you!

Sunshine:  Hahaha...  I like all my food burnt.  Burnt chicken nuggets?  Mmm....  Or like those french fries you bake in the oven?  Bake 'em ten minutes longer than it says to -- perfect.  Mmm....

Pandora: What?!  Holy cow!  Why have I worked so hard to cook a nice meal for you when you come to visit?  Next time I screw up a meal and burn everything I should call you up and invite you over.  You eat that?  That's terrible!  I'm always so upset if I burn things.  They taste awful!

Sunshine: Well, I didn't say charcoal burnt, I just said slightly burnt.

Pandora: Leaving the french fries in the oven ten minutes longer than is required is charcoal burnt.

Sunshine: (pulls out her iPhone) Girl.... let me show you the difference between charcoal burnt and slightly burnt.

Sunshine: THIS is charcoal burnt:

Sunshine: This is SLIGHTLY burnt:

 Sunshine: Charcoal burnt fries:

Sunshine: Slightly burnt fries:

Sunshine: See the difference?

Pandora: Okay, yes.  But still.

Sunshine: Here, take a look at this:

 Sunshine: THIS is a chicken:

Sunshine: THIS is not:

Pandora: Aaaa!  Put that away! Don't show me that!  That hurts my heart!

Sunshine: What hurts your heart?

Pandora: The alligator!  That's TERRIBLE!

Sunshine: What's terrible?  Why does that hurt your heart?  The chicken ain't got no head!  At least the alligator still has his head and feet!

Pandora:  Are you nuts!  Chickens never have the head when prepared for cooking!  That poor little guy looks like a baby gator they just skinned and threw on there!  He even has a cute little face!  Oh... I'm gonna throw up.  Why did you show me that?

Sunshine: Well, I figured since I was showing you the difference between charcoal burnt and slightly burnt, I might as well show you the difference between chicken and alligator while I'm at it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Piles Of ...Hoolio?

I was sitting in a business meeting with one of the cities the other day and the city engineer, who was frustrated about a particular project said, "Well... this whole thing got goober snatched."  When someone at the table responded, "Goober snatched?" she said, "Yes, goober snatched.  It's a very important technical term."  At which point I looked at the admin and said, "Please put that in the minutes.  We need to write that down for sure."

She had a couple other good ones like, "take that nubbin and do something with it!" and "I just don't know what people thought they were doing with all this hoolio!"

She was truly frustrated while talking to us, and she was trying to get her frustration out on the table, but ultimately we all spent more time laughing at her "cuss words" than we did taking her frustration seriously.  So, instead of returning to my desk and immediately diving into the problem on a quest for a solution, I sat there for a while thinking about goober snatched items and nubbins and piles of hoolio.  I decided that it may be better, at least in certain circles, not to substitute cuss words with things like hoolio at all.  I'm not saying drop the F-Bomb at the business meeting (that would just be rude and get you sent to HR for some sort of Awareness Training), but I am saying that the word hoolio in a dead serious frustrated tone is hilarious and I don't think hilarity is the point you're wanting to drive home right there.  It's probably best to say, "You guys really messed this project up for us and you need to understand that we're very displeased with your performance," and then give us all the eyeball that makes us think you're about to call our moms and we'll be so grounded when we get home.  (At least, that works for me.  That probably would've sent me straight into Type A Mode, because I HATE to disappoint, and I would've had the issue resolved within the next hour because... my mom is scary when she's angry.  Trust me.)

I thought about it the rest of the day.  I remembered a time when I said, "Well jeepers!" when working at the mortgage company and everyone in my general vicinity turned around and said, "Jeepers?"

And there was the time I was sitting at the table with my parents playing Yahtzee and I said "dagnabit" after rolling nothing of worth and had to take a zero on my score sheet.  A few minutes later I noticed that my dad, in a moment of intense thought and doodling, wrote DAG NAB-IT in all caps on the top of his score sheet.  When I asked what he was doing he said, "Well... I was just trying to figure out the right way to spell that word."  (Had I said "damn it," mind you, I would have evoked a completely different response from him, as well as a horrified gasp from my mother.)

So when I got home that night, at some point I walked into my daughter's room while she was doing her homework and I said, in my most serious mom voice, "Your room is horrible!  What's with all this hoolio?!"  She stopped, a bit confused, looked at me as though she knew she was supposed to be in some sort of trouble but she couldn't help but crack a smile and say, "...um... hoolio?"  Without missing a beat I said, "I'm not kidding.  This is some serious goober snatch!  Get this nubbin cleaned up!"  At that point she dropped her pencil and practically fell out of her chair laughing and gasping as she asked, "What are you saying?!"  Now maybe this is because she knows me too well, but I would like to think that I was running an experiment here on whether or not I could successfully get the same intensity while employing goofball word substitutes.

I confess, and you already know this from some of my blog posts, I can throw down well enough to include "sailed the seven seas" on my resume, but... anyone that has worked with me in the corporate world also knows that I can scare more people and get excellent results through the use of complex sentences and five syllable words than I ever could through an F-Bomb.  I once had to apologize to a guy at the office because I apparently made him cry, and there was not a single profane word that passed my lips or fingertips that day.  His boss simply said I hurt the guy's ego because he had to use the dictionary to figure out what I was saying... hence, my point...

It is better not to "cuss" at all than to substitute some hullabaloo for an F-Bomb when trying to get people to move.  Otherwise... go ahead.  I've sailed alongside SinBad a time or two -- tell it like it is.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Send Off

Some of the best moments in life are the ones where you find yourself in a place you had no intention of being, where you commit to be a part of something you really didn't want to, and as a result you end up having one of the greatest experiences of your life and find yourself surrounded by some of the greatest people you've ever met. People that you will never forget.  People that you will always wish nothing but the best for.  People you will forever consider friend and forever be grateful to have been given the chance to know them.

It all happens when someone approaches you and says something like, "I heard from someone who heard from someone that you can sing."  And even after you admit that you haven't performed or been a part of anything musical in years, you are suddenly convinced, through listening to the fact that none of them had been consistently playing in years, you may as well give this a shot because... it just might be good for you.  After all, you'd pretty much been sitting there doing next to nothing but surviving anyway, so why not add a little color to your life?  And the next thing you know, you're standing in a room with five people from five walks of life and five different backgrounds and they all seem to be having this moment of, "Not sure what I'm doing here but... let's rock."

After a while, you find that you're all sort of standing there in awe of the music that you just created.  You're all thinking that this may be the most beautifully bizarre meeting you've ever had because for the first time in who knows how long, maybe ever, you realize that you are sharing a musical space together that you never expected -- it was good.  The sound you created was good, the musicianship was stellar, and the only place to go was up.  And you found yourself looking forward to this practice and that practice, and this performance and that performance because, while it all had purpose and meaning, it just felt so good to be together.

You soon realize that, through music, you had all become friends.  You crack jokes and swap stories.  You branch out and hang out, you jam here and there, but you start to learn what makes each person tick and you realize that a part of the synergy between you all is based on a balance of personalities and character -- where one might be weak another is strong, and when one falls down the other picks them up.  It became a space where you celebrated each others triumphs and you supported each other though struggles.  It became a space where honesty was the best policy, no matter how intimidating that may have been at times, and it was a space where you all had a say and you worked together for good.  But as with anything in life, nothing stays the same for too long.

Things happen. Babies are being born. Work gets in the way.  Stress and lack of time become major players.  Health problems sneak in.  Relationship troubles creep up from the shadows.  Priorities that demand more attention take away from "the fun."  Communication breakdowns, changes in the game plan, curve balls and strike outs... Suddenly the winning season was last year's news and the next round looks like the team is facing some injuries and recovery time is required.  But regardless, you have all created something between you much more beautiful than just good music.  

And even when you walk away from something that you loved so much, in an attempt to catch up on everything else, or to recover and heal, or to forgive and forget, the bonds that were created between you remain as strong, if not stronger, than they were when you picked up your instruments and played.  You've all grown to understand one another.  You've learned to recognize your lives as works in progress, and you all have seen the progress that each one has made -- musically, professionally, and personally.  And with the passing of time, those things that seem like road blocks or set backs level off and are overcome.  And you were all there to work through everything together -- friends first, musicians second.

And then one day, after everything in between, the time comes when you find yourselves together one last time, friends first and musicians second.  Everyone's life has taken a turn in which this musical setting that brought you all together has finally reached its end.  And you find yourselves walking into that space feeling the same joy as always, but this time there's a tinge of melancholy as you work together to bring a positive send off to something that you all consider a solid and common bond -- full of beauty and good times and good memories and good music.

You all play together now knowing that each individual path is veering off to a new journey and a new experience, but you play together knowing that each individual is only a phone call away.  Your friendships are beyond valuable and definitely one of the brightest moments throughout this musical experience you all have shared.

Music is in the soul, but friendship resides there also.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Feeling Lucky?

Hope: Mom, do you believe in luck?

Pandora: (sips her beverage and thinks for a minute) Sometimes... sometimes I believe in luck.

Hope: What do you mean, sometimes?  How can you sometimes believe in luck?  I thought you either believed in luck or you didn't.

Pandora: I don't know how to explain it, really.  I've been around people who don't believe in luck at all because everything is "fate" or "destiny" to them.  And then I've been around people that think too much depends on luck, where everything is chance and superstition.  But... there are just sometimes that you can't deny it -- you were lucky.  Against all odds, even when everything else founded in fact and reason and logic stated that there was no possible way this would happen, it suddenly happens, for good or for ill, and... I call that luck.

Hope: Hm... I guess I never thought of it that way.

Pandora: Like gambling -- the average gambler in the casino is banking on a stroke of good luck.  Where they make their mistake is that they go in believing they're going to win.  What they need to do is go in and say, "I'm willing to lose $20," and when they sit down at the machine, knowing they're going to lose because the odds are never in their favor, and within the first two minutes they suddenly win $700, they need to consider that the stroke of good luck, cash out, and walk away.

Hope: I guess that could be a moment of good luck.  (she stares through Pandora, deep in thought, still not convinced)

Pandora: Okay, how about this one?  You walk onto the car lot and you buy a brand new car.  Everything about buying a brand new, never been driven, vehicle should mean you've got something that is far from failing you and you're going to have several years of driving a reliable car.  Suddenly, $30,000 later and within the first ten minutes of driving it off the lot, the thing breaks down in a puff of smoke and leaves you more frustrated than you were with the junk heap you just traded in.  That's bad luck right there.

Hope: (still stares at Pandora as if she's not entirely convinced)

Pandora: (takes her last sip of beverage and confidently puts the glass down on the table)  Okay, ...my love life.

Hope: (leans back in her chair) Well... I wouldn't call that bad luck.

Pandora: (raises an eyebrow)

Hope: It's not bad luck, Mom, it's... ... well ... it's ...

Pandora: Really... all I have to say to you on that one is: six drawers of socks, kiddo.  ...six drawers of socks and glad lock containers.

Hope: Hahahahahahahaha!  Okay, yeah, you're right.  That was some serious bad luck right there.

Pandora: Thank you.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sometimes... The Sun...

Sometimes you don't know what to say...

Sometimes silence is enough, you suppose...

Sometimes listening is all that someone needs,
but when you love people,
when you love your friends,
you just want to say that one thing that will help them turn that corner,
help them see that light, help them realize that hope...

But then you remember that sometimes nothing can be said, sometimes all that is needed is a presence...
a presence in the darkness...
a presence like a small bit of light,
a simple candle in the pitch,
a simple glow,
a silent flame with a crackling flicker to remind them you're there.

You remember... that was all you needed too.

So you hold your tongue.

So you listen.

So you cry when they cry
you ask why when they ask why
you know what that's like,
and you ride the roller coaster with them
there's nothing to do but ride that ride
and pray it stays on the tracks because...
everyone needs to come out of this alive...

And when you get off that ride,
when you're both standing there at the exit
a little out of breath from shock and awe,
you realize that your friend is likely to sink back into the dark
because you're the only glow of light they have,
and so...
you turn around and say --

What happened this morning when you got up?

And when they stare at you because they're too lost to remember, you say...

...the sun came up...

And when they stare at you a bit confused
you look at them and say...

Guess what happens tomorrow?

And when they stare at you because they're still too lost to know what happens tomorrow, you say...

...the sun is coming up...

And when they continue to stare at you because they could care less,
because the rising of the sun means nothing to them at that moment, you say...

You have a life to live,
and no matter how much you hurt,
...there is always the sun...
and just like you,
the rising sun is beautiful
and you... you will keep rising, just like the sun...
and that, my friend, is beautiful.

And when they give you a hug
knowing you said that because you love them
and they really don't give a shit about the sun
today or tomorrow
you walk away knowing
you will be there tomorrow,
just like the sun,
and you will listen
and you will love
and one day they will look at you and say:

"Remember the time you made that stupid comment about the Sun? ... Thank you."

And then you remember that someone once made that same stupid comment about the Sun to you
and then you remember that you need to thank them too.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Good Set Of Tweezers

(Pandora is working at her desk when Crazy walks in)

Crazy: Hey!  What's goin' on girl?

Pandora: (turns around) Same old same old.  You?

Crazy: Oh!  I have something to tell you!  I was...

(before she can finish her thought Mr. Toenail walks in)

Toenail: Hey ladies... do either of you have a set of tweezers?

Pandora: Uh... even if I did, something tells me I should say no.

Crazy: Yeah, I got some.  You need 'em?

Toenail:  Well, actually, I was hoping you could help me with something.

Crazy: Oh.  Okay, what?

Pandora: Here it comes.

Toenail: (turns to the side and point to his ear) You see, I got this...

Crazy: Oh no!  No no no no no!


Toenail: What?  Hey, what?  You haven't even let me tell you what it is yet!

Crazy: Oh no!  No no!  I am NOT going anywhere near whatever you got goin' on in your ear!


Toenail: (looks at Pandora) What's wrong with asking for some help?  I need some help?

Pandora: With what?  Ear hair?

Toenail: (aghast) Ear hair?!  Do I look like I'd be walking around with ear hair to you?!


Toenail: (waves Pandora off like she's worthless and turns back to Crazy who has completely curled up in a ball in the corner of the cube in an attempt to stay away from him)  Come on... will you just listen to me?  It's nothing bad.

Crazy: ...I ... am ... not ... touching ... your ear.

Pandora: (pulls herself together, a little out of breath from laughing) Okay, what is it?

Toenail: (points to his ear) Well, I was listening to my iPod and when I went to pull it out the earpiece got stuck inside my ear and I can't get it out.

Pandora: You have the earpiece stuck in your ear?

Crazy: (sits up straight) Oh!  That's all it is?  Well I can help you with that.

Toenail: Thank you!  (looks at Pandora)  See!  It's just an earpiece!  Not ear hair!  I can't believe you said that!  I can't believe you would think I had ear hair!

Pandora: (bites her lip for a moment) I'm sorry... I really am... It's just not often that someone walks into my office cubicle and asks me to dig around in their ear for little treasures.

Crazy: Hahahahahahaha!  I know, right?  That is a little weird, Toe... that is a very weird request.

Pandora: Why not just go down to the Nurse's office?  They get paid to take care of things like this.

Toenail: Well, I thought about it, but I didn't really know what to do.  I mean, what if it's an OSHA recordable accident?  I don't want to be the one responsible for blowing our safety goal because I got a damn earpiece from my iPod stuck in my ear, you know?

Crazy: Haha!  He has a point.  The guys in the field would be pissed!  They are working with high voltage equipment and some dope at the office ruins the safety goal because of some headphone mishap.  Let me go get my tweezers.  I'll be right back.

Toenail: Yeah, see?  Exactly!

Pandora: Right, well, I'll tell you what is OSHA recordable -- if she screws up and damages your ear because you were too daft to go down to the nurse.  Did this just happen?

Toenail: Well, no...  It's been in there for a couple hours.

Pandora: You've been walking around with that thing stuck in your ear for a couple hours?

Toenail: Yeah...

Pandora: I'm pretty sure getting that stuck in your ear is not an OSHA recordable accident.  I'm pretty sure the nurse would've just pulled it out and sent you back up here.

Toenail: Well, I didn't know!  I've been walking around trying to figure out what to do!  It's weird, you know?  I got this thing stuck in my ear and people are trying to talk to me and I'm turning my head all around  so I can hear them better and playing it off like I don't have this thing in my ear.  That's weird, you know?

Pandora:  Yes... yes I know... it's weird.

Crazy: Okay!  Let's do this!

Pandora: Not in my cube though... right?

Toenail: (sits in the chair across from Pandora) Okay.  It's in there... can you see it?

Crazy: Yeah...  I can get it.  (she pulls it out)  Got it!

Toenail: Awesome!  Thanks!  I'm so glad girls always carry things in their purse like tweezers!

Pandora: I don't carry tweezers in my purse, but I do live for moments like these.

Toenail: Well, you're different...and you thought I had ear hair, too!  (starts to walk out of Pandora's cube) I can't believe you thought that!!!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

To Network Or Not To Network...

...that is the question.
If there is one thing that I'm not very good at, it's networking.  It's a shame, really, because even in my journey between academia and business I've seen that the people that network get farther faster than those of us who don't (even if they aren't as "good" at what they do).

The networker has an entirely different skill set.  I don't want to call it brown nosing -- they aren't necessarily moving on up to the east side because they know how to suck up well.  And I don't want to call it charisma because there are plenty networkers that have the charisma of a dirt clod.  I think it's just because... they have no fear.

When I say fear I'm not talking about apprehension, there is a difference: one can be apprehensive and doubt the self occasionally, but still shake it off and move forward.    When I say fear, at least in this sense, I'm talking about Fear Of Failure -- that moment when you let doubt get the best of you and so you just stay in your seat instead of rise up and position yourself into the best place to shine.  They may struggle with doubt and the "what if" factor here and there, but their confidence far outweighs their fear of failure, and, in fact, they may even have that moment where they are convinced they may fail and they may totally fall on their face, but... what do they have to lose?  If they just sit there in the corner and do nothing and say nothing and refuse to put themselves out there, failure is inevitable.  But... if they get up and take their portfolio down the hall and shake hands with some people and tell their story to some people they may eventually meet the right people with the right doors at the right time that are ready to open and take them where they want to go.

I have confidence in a lot of my talents and abilities, but my flaw is often sitting in my corner and believing my work will speak for itself.  What I'm saying there is, what good is work that speaks for itself if all it has to speak to is four walls in room that no one enters but me?

I don't have a lot of dreams left.

I gave up the cow girl dream that I had at five years old after my mom told me that John Wayne wasn't really a cow boy, he was just an actor, and he was dead.

I gave up my dream of being a doctor after I sat through anatomy class and they told us we were going to dissect some cadavers right after I had a quiz on the Latin terms for every section of bone in the skull.

I gave up my dream of being a rock star after I dropped out of college for a year to go chase it down and realized that, unlike Jewel, I wasn't willing to live in my van on the boardwalk in Ocean Beach and hope lightening strikes the same coffee house twice.

And at this point I've pretty much given up my dream of having a solid male partner in my personal corner of the world (well, I haven't completely thrown that one out but ... it's definitely sitting in the closet where I fully intend to leave it to do little more than collect dust).

I have one left... I think you all know what it is...  And so, I must, on some level, learn to network.

I must throw fear of failure to the wind and give it all I've got.  And if I fall on my face, if I fail, then at least I have a solid day job.  But if I lay on my death bed in the future and say something along the lines of, "I never really did give that one a fair shot," then I failed by my own doing.

That being said... please do me a favor and go "LIKEmy Mixed Number facebook page.  Still trying to figure out what I'm going to do with that thing, but it's up and it was a long time coming.  I'm working on Google Plus and I'll probably make my way around to Twitter sooner or later.  (yes, I'm trying not to throw up right now, but... I see the networkers... I see them winning... and... as I move forward with writing projects, both inside and outside of this blog, I have to admit that I'd like to join them)

And .... "we thank you for your support."

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Owl Friend Is No More

Owl Friend... Poor Owl Friend... If you happen to have a drink in  your hand, I don't care if it's water, I don't care if it's coffee, pour some out for Owl Friend because she has passed on, she is dead, she is... no more...

Charity The Pup... she has done a terrible thing and Hope and I are mourning the loss of Owl Friend...

This is a sad sad day in our house hold.

I really don't know what to say about this.  It may seem silly to all of you, but to Hope and I, the loss of our favorite pup's favorite toy is a sad day.  I wrote about this not too long ago, I wrote about Charity The Pup and her love for Owl Friend and how much we loved that she loved Owl Friend, but when I came home from my walk this morning I found Owl Friend dead... dead on the floor... all the stuffing pulled out of her and the squeaker... the poor little squeaker like my heart and yours was completely ripped out from her and completely chewed through.

When did The Pup do this?  When did this happen?  It was just yesterday, quite literally, that The Pup was still running around the house with Owl Friend in her mouth happily squeaking the squeaker.  The Pup has carried this little toy, our little Owl Friend, for months... MONTHS!  But suddenly, out of nowhere, Owl Friend lost her special place in Charity The Pup's heart and she ended up dead on the living room floor just like every other toy.  Poor Owl Friend...

Take a look at the crime scene.  This is what I came home to, after the walk, and this is what I saw as I prepared to give The Pup her morning treat... Guts... Fluffy guts... all over the floor...  And I saw the fluffy guts and I said, "Charity...  What have you done?  Owl Friend... Our beloved Owl Friend... She is gutted on the floor...  The Pup...  What have you done, The Pup?"  And The Pup... all she could do was roll over... All she could do was admit...

We had to, of course, forgive her because we love her unconditionally.  We cannot hold it against her, this little Fox Terrier, this little creature who was basically bred to kill rats and other such rodents, and whose favorite toy just happened to be the size of a rat.  We had to concede that, as cute as it was that our sweet little pup favored this toy for quite some time, she was ultimately going to give in to her instinct and destroy and gut the thing.  We had to say to ourselves that if Bubonic Plague were to ever rear its ugly head again we would consider ourselves lucky to have a pup willing to destroy the enemy... but still... no toy could replace Owl Friend... none...  Or was there, perhaps, a chance to recreate the happy toy moment?  Was there?  Even in the midst of darkness, there is always hope so...

I went to the Petco down the way.  I went looking for another Owl Friend but, alas..., there is only ONE Owl Friend.  I did, however, find a Piggy Friend that was a similar shape and exact size as Owl Friend and I had a moment of hope, I had a moment where I thought this toy might bring The Pup the same amount of joy that Owl Friend had brought and I thought that maybe Piggy Friend would last for months and months, just like Owl Friend.  And I brought Piggy Friend home and I gave Piggy Friend to Charity The Pup, and she was overjoyed and she played and played and ran all through the house with Piggy Friend in her mouth and she was squeaking the squeaker, just like she did Owl Friend, and we played fetch and we played chase and all was right with the world and then...Just after dinner this evening I walked down the hall and found Piggy Friend completely gutted... his squeaker completely chewed through...

Charity The Pup... she has acquired a taste for fluff and now... playtime will never be the same...

Oh... sad day... sad sad day... I will be spending way more money on toys now thanks to the fluff lust that my pup has now developed.  Charity The Pup... so cute... so violent... at least when it comes to squeakers and fluff...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Cosmo And Me

So... I have this friend, same friend that's always sending me those stupid "People Of Walmart" emails, that decided to send me six months of Cosmopolitan Magazine.  Why did this friend do this you ask?  Well, I would ask the same question if I didn't already know the answer.  You see, this friend loves to torment me.  She loves to torment me with stupid shit that she knows is eventually going to set me off onto some crazy rant and then she loves to sit there and laugh her ass off at me.  So last December she sent me a text message saying, "I'm sending your Christmas present in the mail.  I'm not telling you what it is, but you'll know when you get it that it's from me."  Come January, when I got my first issue of Cosmopolitan, I knew what she had done.

For the past three months all I've done is throw the damn thing in the trash without looking at it. But today I couldn't help it anymore.  I went out for my morning walk with my dog and I checked my mail and I pulled out all the junk, including this magazine, and just as I was about to throw it in the garbage I looked at the cover page and saw, "The Smile That Makes Men Hit On You."

That was it.  I couldn't take it anymore.  I had to say something.  I had to read that stupid shit and say something.  The Smile That Makes Men Hit On You?!  Are you serious?!

So I look at the inside cover to find the page number for this "smile article" ( because I'm not interested in Feeling Great Naked because... who doesn't feel great naked?  Clothes are confining and irritating.  Walk around your house naked sometime and you'll feel great no matter who you are... what's wrong with you?  And I'm not interested in your 99 Sex Questions and I'm not interested in having an Easier Stronger Orgasm... well... maybe I am but you can't really go there when you've taken a vow of celibacy... I'm not interested in Sexy Vs. Skanky because if you don't know that by now you're an idiot and your mother was probably an idiot too. I'm not interested in Looks Men Lust For because... what look doesn't a man lust for? No offense guys, but even you make jokes about "one baggers" and "two baggers" and "coyote ugly" so... really?  I need to worry about what you lust for?  I'm not interested in The Stud Meter because most of those idiots eat rocks and suffer from narcissism anyway, I don't need to read Don't Be This Kind Of Tease because again, if you don't know that by now you're probably an idiot who had an idiot for a mother, and I certainly don't need Cosmopolitan magazine to give me 8 Ways To Get Over A Bad Day... seriously ladies... this is where you turn for advice?  Seriously?!?!  ...I digress... forget this entire parenthetical rant and read on...) and I find that the "smile article," on page 130, is actually titled "Make A Hottie Hit On You."  (Yes... I threw up...)

So, here it is.  Cosmopolitan's advice on how to "Make A Hottie Hit On You" and my commentary along the way:

1.  Rock Bold Earrings Or A Shirt With An Eye-Catching Graphic:  "...if you have on, say a funky necklace, he's more likely to approach, because he has something he can talk to you about without having to pull some random topic out of left field."  Oh boy!  A man that can talk about my funky necklace and bold earrings!!!  A DREAM COME TRUE!!!  I would say that this is what I've been doing wrong my entire life but... check this out!  I wore bold earrings today!  Look at those things!  Granted, I wasn't in a bar, but I was in a business meeting with more than one hottie at the table and you know what one of them said to me when the meeting was over?  "You have a big scratch on your hand.  Do you have a cat or something?"

2. Do The Cosmo Heel Dangle:  Think about those sparkly hooks fishermen use to lure their catch.  The fish are drawn to them because they shimmer and twirl, right?  Well, it sounds a bit Nature-Channel-meets-Housewives, but your stiletto can do the same thing for men... Dangle your stiletto...  
Is it me?  Or is this "love expert" MD sounding like she's taking her advice from the cheesy romance novel she read last night?  Check these babies out.  Yes, I wear them.  I love them.  I don't wear them to go fishing, I wear them because they look awesome with my black slacks and my button down collared shirt.  The last time I wore them and yes... I was in a meeting... the man next to me said, after I got a little hot headed with another man at the table, "Well, you can always try and knock him out with those things.  They have a pretty good point on the end and you look like you could throw a solid kick.  Have at it!"

3. Give Him Sexy Eyes... Twice: ...you need to make eye contact with a dude and subtly smile at him twice for him to get that you're interested.  So... look at him, smile, look away, then do it again.  
Yes, I will concede that eye contact is a good way to say "come talk to me," but it is also very dangerous.  Be careful not to make eye contact with the guy who has been staring at you for a long time that you have no intention of talking to at all.  That happened to me once, and not in a meeting this time.  I was actually in a bar.  And in those days I was pretty timid.  And I was sitting with a couple friends and noticed a man at the bar staring at me.  When one of the friends got up to use the restroom, I tipped my other friend off that the guy at the bar was going to come talk to me and I wasn't interested.  He came over, asked to sit down, I told him my friend was sitting there, he sat down anyway.  I wasn't sure what to do then.  Luckily I had a fire ball friend that stepped up to the plate and said, "Hey!  Fucko!  I think what she meant to say was: No!  You can't sit there!"  So... While I'm pretty sure, the earrings and the heel dangle thing are stupid advice, the eye contact thing is real and I would advise you to use it with caution.

There you have it folks (or friend who has waited three months for this moment).  I will never open a Cosmopolitan magazine again and thank God I will only be throwing this tripe in the garbage for three more months to come.

And you!   (you know who you are.... )  You are guilty of TREE GENOCIDE!!!!

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Easter Egg & The Bull Shit Artist

I just had another one of those moments where I deleted everything I just wrote.  I really hate it when I do that.  And the worst part about this one is that I'm pretty sure what I just deleted was pretty funny, I'm pretty sure you would have laughed.  I'm really not sure why I deleted it except for that I felt like I was missing the point, or maybe there just wasn't a point, or maybe my point just wasn't as good as the stuff leading up to it.  I'm not sure, but I think that's called bull shit -- when the stuff leading up to the point is more impressive than the point itself.  Yes, that is definitely the definition of bull shit.  

I supposed I just could've left it the way it was and then titled the thing The Bull Shit Artist.  

I've dated a few of those -- Bull Shit Artists.  In fact, I was married to one for a while.  Of course, that's one of the main reasons we're divorced (well, not the main reason, but a big player in the reason... he was a great bull shitter all the way up until he tried to get his point across and then... his point failed... particularly when he tried to convince me that the lady next door was really more interested in becoming a good friend of mine instead of his personal bedroom playmate)

The main problem with the Bull Shit Artist is that they always underestimate your intelligence.

(...the idiot...)

I don't underestimate your intelligence though, which is probably why I do things like delete the bull shit I just wrote.  I am, happy to say, no Bull Shit Artist.  Although, I suppose we could make a case for this entire post being nothing but Bull Shit.  Pretty sure it wouldn't pass for art though.

Anyway, I do have this really funny picture that I was going to use for the post I just deleted.  I'll go ahead and put it in so you can see.  I did have this Easter Egg thing going on, but I guess at some point I started asking myself why I thought it necessary to write an Easter Egg post.  I had this whole moment in my head where I was like, "um... why are you writing a holiday post?  seriously... why are you doing that?  that's too cutesy... do you want to be cutesy?  ...since when do you go cutesy on everybody?  DON'T DO THAT!  DELETE!!!"

It made me think of this scene I saw in a movie one time (I think it was Nine Months) and Jeff Goldblum was an artist and his buddy had just told him his painting was good enough to be hung up in a hotel room and so the Goldblum character threw the painting off a bridge.  I don't remember much of that movie, but I never forgot that scene.  I completely relate to that moment.  I have so many pieces of writing, academically and otherwise, that I would throw off the bridge and into the sea.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Test Of Why

My daughter leaves tomorrow morning to go visit her dad and his family for the weekend.  She's had so many struggles in that area for so many years, she had a moment of venting to me and she finally looked at me and asked, "Why is it this way?  Why is this happening to me?"

We were driving down the freeway at the time, and I just sort of heaved a sigh and looked at the road passing beneath my wheels and said, "I really don't know why, sweetheart.  There's no good answer for that.  It's just the way it is."

Obviously, an answer like "it's just the way it is" isn't even good enough for an adult.  How many times in our lives (past, present, and future) have we asked why?  We never really get an answer to that question and most of us know that we won't have an answer even when we do ask that stupid question, but it doesn't stop us from asking it.  So then, how do we answer that question when our child asks it, and asks it specifically to us?

So in the silence, after I told her that it was just the way it is and she sat there in the passenger seat staring at me waiting for more, I decided that I needed to come up with something a little more substantial.  And what I came up with may not be perfectly sound but... coming from The School Of Hard Knocks, this was my response:

I truly don't know why things like this happen to you or happen to anyone.  I know that in my head and in yours there is a very simple answer, but it doesn't always play out that way in life.  Human beings are complex with complex thought processes and problems and baggage that they all carry and it screws with their ability to see.  And I know your dad, I know he loves you, I just know that there are some issues there that screw with his judgment and because of that you're in this space.  And I really don't know why.  I can't tell you why.  But what I can say is that it is up to you what you do with this.  It's up to you to decide the way you're going to respond to it.  

Try to view life as a teacher and you are the student, and you will be the student until the day you die.  Life takes turns and things happen that you won't expect and you will always have that moment where you ask why, but asking why won't ever give you an answer.  It just won't.  There really are no answers.  But if you view life like a student, you will have a moment, once you get past the sadness and bitterness, where you stop asking why and you start asking what you need to learn from this and how you need to respond to it.  If you view yourself as a student of life you will start to research ways to answer questions you don't have answers for and you will find ways to answer.  And sometimes you may be wrong, and when that happens you will begin again and search for what is right.  But sometimes you will be right and you will move forward knowing that you're doing the right thing for that particular moment in time.  And if I were in your shoes, I would tell myself that I love my dad but my dad is human and he is flawed, because all humans are flawed.  I'm flawed, you're flawed, everyone is flawed.  So if you can look at it that way, you can say to yourself, "My dad loves me and he may not even know what he's doing is hurting me, and because of that I will say my piece when it needs to be said and I will keep moving."  I don't know what else to tell you, Pretty.  I love you, I don't know why things are the way they are and they certainly aren't the way I would have them for you, but I can't stop it and I can't change it.  All I really know is that you're one bright and beautiful human being and I want you to know that as twisted as this may seem right now, I do know that your dad loves you, he's just a little lost sometimes, and you will come out on top of this game.

She did seem satisfied with my response (though I never truly know what's flying through that girl's mind), but I wasn't sure I was satisfied with it.

I thought about it for hours.  I ran through the various times in my life where I've asked "why" and Lord knows I've asked that multiple times.  I did finally agree with the idea that there never really is an answer to "why," there really is only an opportunity for growth and healing, depending on how we respond to it.  At least in my own experience, we have two choices: we can be victims that simply grow bitter and grow stagnate because we refuse to grow and change from life experience, or we can be students that view Life as a journey and an occasional test and we need to find a way to pass.

I choose to find a way to pass, and I pray my daughter finds ways to pass as well.

Now... what is your response to "why?"

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Lunchtime Meditation

You walk down three flights of stairs to the cafeteria.
You spend $3.50 on a salad you put together yourself: romaine, spinach, mushrooms, those little grape tomato things, sunflower seeds, cheese.
You curse yourself for being too lazy and disorganized to bring your own bad ass salad from home because this place is really slim pickins sometimes.
You walk up three flights of stairs back to your office.
You remind yourself that you're taking the stairs because it's better for your ass than the elevator is.
You sit down at your desk and eat your salad and drink your water (because water is life and you're one dehydrated flaky skinned fool right now).
You look at the files on your desk and then you stare at your notebook and decide to spend your lunch hour working on your writing project instead of working on the stupid files that will still be there an hour from now.
You open your notebook, set your iPod to some meditation music, and the next thing you know you're just staring at the notebook with your thoughts going all over the place.
You decide to take a minute to quiet your mind and doodle until your thoughts begin to step away from the office and back into your craft.
You start drawing some line and decide it looks like the makings of a tree.
You start drawing the roots.
You start to get a little obsessed with the roots because you've never really seen tree roots but you know they have to be strong and solid and reach deep into the Earth.
You start thinking of how the roots in your house plants look when they get bound inside the pot and you start to imagine how thick and spread out tree roots must become as there is no pot to bind them and hinder them.
You start creating this maze of roots and convince yourself that they are strong and solid and will hold your tree firm in the ground and the tree will be strong and able to withstand the elements.
You remember that one hippie you once knew said that plants were the most intelligent beings on the planet because of their incredible ability to adapt.
You smile to yourself about the tree as a being.
You think of yourself as a being.
You think of your greatest friends as beings.
You think of the most amazing people you have seen in your lifetime and you suddenly start to think about their roots and their ability to adapt.

You start thinking of the man who grew up physically and mentally abused by his drunken parents and you start thinking how he chose to walk away from them at 11 years old and you start thinking about how he  could've grown up to become exactly like them and how he could've used them as an excuse to behave badly and become someone who cares little for life and the lives of others but he chose a different path and he's one of the kindest and most caring people you know and you decide that he has strong roots but they are roots that ran far deeper than his family tree and found some sort of soil more fertile than what he was planted in and you decide like the tree you're drawing here he is strong and able to withstand the elements.

You start thinking of the girl who had been struggling to raise her nephew because her sister decided she didn't want him anymore and you think of how this girl has a mother who basically did the same thing to her and you think of how she pretty much raised herself and you think of how this girl has been torn down with words and experienced her own self-loathing and rejection from everyone she wanted to be loved by and yet she has still chosen for herself a path of love and kindness and understanding and you remember that she often gives without asking for anything in return and you remember that she often turns the other cheek when she certainly doesn't have to and you remember that she loves unconditionally and you once again decide that she has roots that have grown stronger and farther and deeper than her family tree and she has found some fertile soil and she has grown much taller and stronger than anyone in her family and her branches outstretch to shade those she loves the most and those she welcomes because she sees they have a need and you tell yourself that this person is like the tree you're drawing here and she is strong and able to withstand the elements.

You start thinking of the mother that has given everything she has to her only child, she has given all of her energy, all of her resources, all of her love, all of her instruction, all of her protection, all of her hopes and dreams she has passed on in order to make sure this little one will grow strong roots and find some deep solid fertile soil and reach out to the sun and reach out to the sky and bloom and blossom and fill the air with beauty and through that beauty beget more beauty and you believe that this tree is strong enough to withstand the elements and strong enough to make at least one more tree just as good and hopefully even better because the world is in great need of strong solid beautiful trees and... just as you think that...

You turn around because one of the office folk saw you sitting at your desk at lunch and decided to come talk to you and so you hurry and hide your mediocre tree drawing because you don't want them to know you were trying to have a quiet moment of creative thought because that might give something away about yourself and this person talking to you could care less about your stupid doodle and your random thoughts about people and trees and their ability to adapt and persevere and grow into something beautiful and you are in fact pretty sure this particular person would think you're weird and well... as weird as you are, you have to at least keep that part of you somewhat hidden.

You are, after all, an employee, not a free agent with some strange penchant for thinking too much.  

Monday, April 2, 2012

Poisson d'Avril!!!

So.... I apologize for my lame April Fools post.  I truly hate April Fools Day.  I'm not sure I even understand why I hate it so bad, no one has ever really pranked me to the point of trauma, but... I seriously hate the day to the point where I want to stay inside until it's over.  I do have some vague memories of this boy I used to carpool with to school when I was a kid, and I do remember him being all about April Fools jokes and I have some vague memory of being punched by him for some reason so... who knows, maybe that's a part of my problem (I apparently blocked it out so perhaps I should seek some therapy).  Either way, I hate the stupid day.

I did have a moment today where I wondered about how this whole thing got started and why.  I did some searching and learned that we can most likely thank the French for this one.  There is no definite answer as to how this stupidity began, but most things point to 16th Century France when King Charles XIV reformed the calendar and the peasants were apparently the last people to know that this change took place (and why is it that there's always some stupid King somewhere that feels the need to revise the calendar...).

I guess they used to celebrate the new year around April 1st, but the shift in calendar made that day a moot point and anyone that was celebrating the new year on April 1st was considered a fool and worthy of being made fun of. Now, the part that I don't fully understand but the part that amuses me the most is that the French would make fun of this person by calling them an April Fish (Poisson d'Avril) instead of an April Fool.  I imagine it's because fish get hooked and possibly pan fried shortly thereafter.

"Bah ha ha ha ha!  You stupid April Fish!  Today is not the new year! The calendar changed!  We all celebrated the new year three months ago!  You stupid fish!"

Years later the "celebration" of April Fish Day continues with "pranks" that consist of sticking a paper fish on someone's back.  Once the fish is discovered, the people shout: Poisson D'Avril!  And then I imagine they laugh some sort of nasal laugh that only the French can pull off.

I like this idea.  I wish I had known this yesterday.  I would've gone around sticking the above paper fish on the backs of random people and shouted "Poisson d'Avril!" every chance I got.  The fact that I'm an American in Phoenix walking around "pranking" people with a stupid paper fish and shouting things in French  makes it even better to me.  And as much as I hate April Fools Day, this little bit of information has given me a new perspective on things and I fully intend to walk around next year and point and laugh at all the April Fish that work on the 3rd floor of my office building.

Now, enjoy this precious little tid bit below.  And please, my French is really weak these days, so if you have any idea what is going on in this story, I would love to know.

Poisson d'Avril!  Viva La France!  (or... something along those lines...)

Sunday, April 1, 2012