Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Automakers, quotes and

I'm not a very political person but I follow the news the way one follows all spectator sports -- with  curiosity and some cursory knowledge of the game.  I know enough to carry on a conversation about it, but I'd never be able to join in myself.  My favorite part is when someone in the game is inspired to say something particularly witty or insightful to sum up the situation.  Ah, I think, A philosopher.  Someone who can see the big picture and give us the metaphor to sum it up.  

My favorite from today's news is authored by a Michigan democrat, Senator Carl Levin, responding to president Obama's ultimatum to Chrysler and G.M. to make changes or face bankruptcy (a plan that seems excellent).   

“They hopefully will see that they have a pretty stark choice in terms of working something out.  Their option is either to take a haircut or a bath.”

I don't see how sending a bald guy for a haircut can do much for him, but time will tell.  In this case, 30-60 days.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Honest Scrap

If you decide to do this one, email me so I can come read it or make a comment with your blog address so we can view your honest scrap.. I had lots of fun with it. And thanks to Brandie, who I'm starting to think is the originator of all my best "ideas."

"The Honest Scrap award comes with a caveat or 2. Firstly you have to tell your readers 10 things about you they may not know, but that are true. Secondly you have to tag 10 people with the award."

I'm tagging everyone who reads this.

1. Some of you know, but many don’t, that I’m a recovered anorexic. From ages 18-23 and long before that word was on anyone's radar, I was sporting baggy clothes and refusing to eat more than leaves of lettuce and lowfat yogurt. It started out after I gained a few pounds in college and felt embarrassed when someone commented on it. I went on a “sensible” diet to shed the pounds and loved the newfound sense of control I had when the weight started rolling off -- loved that control so much that I couldn’t seem to stop going with the dieting. In order to be “perfectly thin” I had to exorcise (and exercise) every ounce of fat from my body. I’ve never been terribly religious, but the only way I was able to recover was to ask God, out loud, for help. I was without any other means to solve my problem. He came through for me that day and always has since.

2. I don’t like sushi and I haven’t even tried it. And I hate that I’m so closed-minded about that, but I can’t get past it.

3. I’m afraid of big, muscular men and I’ve never dated one. Seriously scary. I hope none of them are reading my blog. And if you are, I apologize in advance. Nothing personal, but you are a scary guy.

4. Like my daughter Allison, I sometimes feel sorry for inanimate things, like coffee cups for example. I try to rotate the coffee cups in my closet so they all get used equally.

6. I graduated high school after my junior year. I was 16 when I started college so my parents wouldn’t let me live away. I went to a college that was 45 minutes from home. My mom had to drive me to school for the first month until I turned 17 and got my driver’s license.

5. I hate competitions because I always feel bad for the losers – even if I wanted the winning team to win.

7. I worked on the set of the movie War of the Worlds. The main characters have a stunt double and also a lighting double, so there are occasionally 3 of the same person walking around on set at the same time. The lighting double stands there dressed in the same outfit the main character will wear (same hair coloring and height) while they set up the scene and get everything just right, and at the last minute they bring in the talent person. I’m sure you know what a stunt double does! Some well known actors have their own barristas on the set who also make coffees for everyone else. That’s a treat, because the coffee at kraft services (the people who provide the food for everyone who works on the movie) is gross. Also, food is often served in a hierarchy, like castes – first the people in the union eat, and then the non-union extras get what's left. It's a little odd since we don't have a formal caste system in our country for many things (except getting on airplanes!).

8. Before I was a teacher, I worked as an administrative assistant and copywriter at J. Walter Thompson advertising agency in Manhattan. I wrote some advertising copy for Great Adventure and Burger King in the 80's.

9. My first job (age 14) was to ride horses every morning on a beach in Wildwood. People kept their horses at a stable at the end of the beach and couldn't always ride them - so someone had to, and I was that someone. I once tried riding bareback in shorts and learned it isn’t very romantic – horse sweat and inner thighs is gross. It was an idyllic summer -- morning horse runs, afternoons at the beach and nights at the boardwalk. It was the first summer I thought I was in love (but not the last).

10. I am a compulsive closet organizer, and yet my closet constantly seems disorganized. I don’t understand this, yet I continue my attempts towards organizing because if I stop -- it will be SERIOUSLY disorganized. (Whatever that means.)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

To Benny on the Occasion of 25 and Law School

Twenty-five years seems like such a big number, but wasn’t it only yesterday I was watching you apply doe-doe-rant to your underarms through your t-shirt and shaking that mop of curtain straight hair as you sing-songed your way through a conversation? And here you are, already 25 and about to graduate law school. Amazing. You were so curious about everything around you, but most of all you wanted my constant and undivided attention. “Mommy watch me do this. See this. I can do this. Here, look.” With all four of your grandparents around you, EVERYONE was watching you do EVERYTHING. I wish you could see through adult eyes the love I saw in their eyes each time they looked at you. You were the center of their universe.

Even before your arrival, we were excited about you. Grandma and Grandpa came to the obstetrician’s office for one of my pregnancy checkups, and after hearing your heartbeat pounding away on the doctor’s ultrasound for the first time Grandpa clapped his hands with glee. “Did you hear that Mildred?? I’m telling you, that’s a Marine!” (He was pretty sure you were a boy.)

When Ally came along you had a sister to pester you and for you to annoy for the rest of your lives. I’m not sure who got the better bargain, her for your protection or you for her to entertain, but I know that God made a match in heaven planning you two as siblings. You were so adept at attending to her needs that she didn’t bother walking until she was 15 months old. (You were 9 months when you were up and running.) When I asked Dr. Mohan about it she said Ally didn’t need to walk because Benjamin took care of everything FOR her. And hasn’t it been that way ever since?

We all knew by age five you’d be a lawyer. You thought three steps ahead of everyone else and talked incessantly. And of course, you could wear a suit well even then. As you walk through this life, I hope you will always remember how absolutely and unconditionally you are loved and that you are the heart of our family. You wonder about your path for the future, but you only need to move forward and you will see the way unfold in front of you, I promise. Choose thoughtfully when making decisions but never think so long that others make your choices for you. Trust your instincts, Ben; yours are impeccable. You truly are the smartest person I know – even if you have never believed me when I’ve said it. One day you’ll understand how true that statement is.

I’ve always known this earth would be a place forcefully changed because of your footprint on it, and I’m so very proud to be the person who was blessed to hold your hand over the years. The very best thing about my memories of that little guy from back then is that, whenever you’re with me, I always have him here with me. I love you, Benny, all the way to the moon.



Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Edgar Sawtelle is not a novel

In my book group recently, we discussed the book Edgar Sawtelle and why it's a favorite for so many people. We discussed the characters, the plot, the references to Hamlet...and stalking the edges of each of these topics was an uneasy quiet. Very few of us had much to contribute about any of them. chatter? Just last month we were enjoying a vibrant conversation about Andrew Davidson's book Gargoyle, with its richly fleshed-out personalities and deep layers of meaning. We were reading Dante's inferno to understand the references from one book to the other. And now -- nothing to say?

And finally I got it. For me, Wrobleski's strength is not in his characters or his plot. They're just the props.  Wrobleski is a philosopher -- and he's written a book with some of the best bits of prose I've seen.  I'm not certain it's a "novel" in the truest sense, and that's where looking for those traditional elements left us confused.  The pieces don't fit together in terms of plot and character in the usual manner, but I think you have to enjoy this book in a different way, finding the wisdom in the insightful passages that are patched together and sandwiched between the excuses of plot and characters. Wrobleski's insight into the connection between the human and canine psyches is keenly perceptive and when he strikes his target in this domain he is brilliant.

Two of my personal favorite quotes are from a chapter towards the end of the book. Almondine (the dog) is old and at the end of her life. Edgar (her boy) has been gone for many weeks, and she can't understand where he has gone or when he'll come back. She tries to make sense of it. (p.460)

The closet was as puzzled as she, the bed silent on the question. It was not out of the question that he had learned the secret of flight, and the window was not too small for him to pass through. There, sleeping on his bed at night, she would be the first to see him when he returned. Old as she was, she still had questions to ask him, things to show him. She worried about him. She needed to find him, whole or changed, but know in any case, and she would taste the salt of his neck.

Who else can get inside the head of a dog like that? That is exactly the way I see my dog thinking. For me, it's absolute perfection. 

And in this last quote, she is close to the end of her life and reflecting back on it.

She had learned, in her life, that time lived inside you. You are time, you breathe time. When she'd been young, she'd had an insatiable hunger for more of it, though she hadn't understood why. Now she held inside her a cacophony of times, and lately it drowned out the world."

This isn't just about dogs, is it? It's about me and you -- all of us. And maybe it's because I'm starting to fill up with those times that live inside us that I understand it completely. We each hope to live to a point where we can say, "If I die now, it's enough. I've done enough.  I'm filled up with my times."   

May you each be filled with the best times of your lives.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Ten Questions

I stole this post idea from Brandie, whose awesome blog is I love reading Brandie's blog because she always tells it like it is and she's a great writer. (See more about Brandi's blog at the bottom.)

This are the famous "Ten Questions" as popularized by James Lipton on "Inside the Actor's Studio," originated by French television personality Bernard Pivot, after the Proust Questionnaire.

1. What is your favorite word? 

Ishkaboo. It’s the mythical place my people always go when I can’t think of where they are.

2. What is your least favorite word? 

Sputum or Scrotum.

3. What turns you on? 

Molten chocolate cake

4. What turns you off? 

The smell of onions or body odor. (the same to me)

5. What sound do you love? 

My children’s voices.

6. What sound do you hate? 

A car alarm when the horn honks endlessly.

7. What is your favorite curse word? 

Wot the fock?

8. What profession other than yours would you like to attempt? 

I’d like to be an actress. If only I could get over this shyness problem…

9. What profession would you not like to do?

 A pharmacist. I’d live in fear of giving someone the wrong prescription.

10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gate? 

Your pets have been waiting for you. (Because if they haven't been allowed in, I'm not sure I belong there.)

I like Brandie's blog so much that I am giving her the "Marie Antoinette, Real Person, A Real Award" for having a blog that is very real and down to earth. Linda from Just My Little Bit awarded me this award a while ago and I've been thinking about the perfect person this award should go to -- and Brandie, it's you! (Thank you, Linda, you are so sweet!)

Here are the rules for the award:
Put the picture of Marie Antoinette on your blog.
Link to the person from whom you received the award.
Nominate 7 or more blogs.*** (everyone knows I only nominate 1-3)
Link to those blogs from your blog.
Leave a comment on their blogs to let them know you've shared the award with them.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Tolle Oneness With All Life

I generally haven't enjoyed Eckhart Tolle's first two books because I found them to be platitude-dense and over hyped. However, like one of those treasure scanners with a metal detector on a beach at sunset, I came across a gem today - from a book of excerpts from Tolle's A New Earth book called Oneness With All Life.   I noticed a few sections that I had overlooked when reading A New Earth the first time around.  Possibly I'd been too dismissive of it (I've been told I can be, but I doubt it) or perhaps I'd been distracted (who me?  Is that a squirrel over there?) but in either case it passed me by.  

The quotes relate directly to his philosophy that your life is your thoughts, and to change your life you must change your thoughts.   I remember the day in my early 20's when this concept occurred to me, and I love the way Tolle explains it, below in its purest form:

The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it. Be aware of the thoughts you are thinking. Separate them from the situation, which is always neutral, which always is as it is. There is the situation or the fact, and here are my thoughts about it. Instead of making up stories, stay with the facts. For example, "I am ruined" is a story. It limits you and prevents you from taking effective action. "I have 50 cents left in my bank account" is a fact. Facing facts is always empowering.

Why do anxiety, stress, or negativity arise? Because you turned away from the present moment. And why did you do that? You thought something else was more important. One small error, one misperception, creates a world of suffering.

People believe themselves to be dependent on what happens for their happiness. They don't realize that what happens is the most unstable thing in the universe. It changes constantly. They look upon the present moment as either marred by something that has happened and shouldn't have or as deficient because of something that has not happened but should have. And so they miss the deeper perfection that is inherent in life itself, a perfection that lies beyond what is happening or not happening. Accept the present moment and find the perfection that is untouched by time.

What a perfect way to tell us to live in the moment!  Not to worry about tomorrow or yesterday but to think about the moment of now.  It doesn't mean not to prepare for tomorrow -- but don't LIVE in it.  It also means not to live in yesterday, rethinking the things we did and making them seem better or worse in our minds.  Just live the moments and remember everyone else is doing the same thing, doing the best they can with what they know (and that includes our parents).  

Thursday, March 5, 2009

29-Day Giving Challenge

I did this once before, but it's time to get going again.  

1.  Give one thing away for 29 days.  
2.  Share your stories about how it impacts your life to focus on giving.

Because to see the world change, we have to do something to change the world. The best way to attract abundance into our lives is to be in a perpetual state of giving and gratitude. 

**Carol at Swallowcliffs Art Blog is hosting a giveaway for anyone who signs up for the 29-Day Giving Challenge .

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I'm Honored- Kreativity in bloom

I'm honored to receive a "kreative blogger" award from my friend Lizzi, whose blog "Life According to Lizzi S" is one of the most inspirational and creative blogs I've seen. My weekly visits to her website are like a romp to the corner ice cream parlor -- always a new flavor to enjoy! You really must visit her blog. Thank you, Lizzi. 

If you plan to visit these other blogs today, please click off the tinkly music on my site by pressing the button on your left, as some of these sites have their own unique music to enjoy.

Here are the Kreativity Rules:
1. Copy the award to your site. 
2. Link to the person from whom you received the award. 
3. Nominate 7 other bloggers (alas, see below).
4. Link to those on your blog.
5. Leave a message on the blogs you nominated.

And now it is my honor to similarly bestow this award on others.  If you know me, you also know it's my peculiarity to only give three awards ...  

Deb of Slobbsblogg, whose creative writing has grown in depth and bounty over these months since she revived her blog.  She's my writing guru!

Shay of Into the Deep Blue Me (and her other blogs) whose artwork regularly inspires me to look at things in a fresh and different way.

Eileen of Art Saves Lives who always has "somethin' goin' on."  Keep an eye on this girl for all the newest trends -- she doesn't let any grass grow under her feet.

Monday, March 2, 2009

More Art

With all the snow many of us are getting along the Eastern coastline, I thought some springlike artwork was in order. If you like to journal, you can click on this for a larger size, print it out, and write in the empty spaces. (I made it as a background for a journaling page.)