Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cognitive Dissonance

More and more now, I get the sense that there is something else that I am supposed to be doing. I don't necessarily mean "work in the world" as in job, as in career. I just know that there is so much more to it all than what I am currently subsisting on. That is exciting to me - to know that I am on the path, that I am still seeking, curious.
Running on little sleep today, I had a great interpreting day. The rest of the day was harder - I had a hard time processing even the most simple request. I felt like I was missing a piece of my brain all day.  Interestingly, though, because my defenses were down from being so freaking tired, my brain was all over the place thinking about stuff. Nothing concrete enough to really write about here. I just have a lot of plans and a lot of things to do.  I just need to get out of my own way long enough to accomplish something.

For some unknown reason, I wanted to add that I get daily emails from a website called "Notes from the Universe" and today's message was perfect for the day:
"There are only miracles, Jean, and to one degree or another they all soothe, pamper, and enrich. However, to avoid blowing too many minds at once, some are disguised as unpleasant surprises, botched circumstances, and twisted acquaintances that can rarely be seen for who or what they truly are until the pendulum has fully swung.
Yes... don't I think of everything?
The Universe"

Monday, November 29, 2010

Little Thanksgiving Bird

When I was getting ready to go to Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, I walked by the kitchen window and saw this little bird on the bird feeder. I ran to get my camera and took some photos.   It is a sweet little thing...I don't know exactly what kind of bird, but I will try to find out.

He just sat on the feeder - for about 20 minutes or so. I guess he was resting. Or maybe he ate too much for Thanksgiving and couldn't go anywhere for a while.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Black Friday Confession

Finally, on Sunday night, I have recovered from my foray out into the world of Black Friday shopping.  Traditionally, I'm more of a "buy nothing" person on the day after Thanksgiving. I worked retail for enough years that I can really appreciate just staying home and not bothering to join the crowds.  When I worked, it was the one day of the year that NO ONE was allowed to have off.  Our store was small, so having the whole staff there, even on a staggered schedule, was a big challenge, but we did it.

Last year, for the first time, I went out shopping at 4:30 a.m. to buy toys for a charity for Deaf kids. I had limited funds and had made a commitment to donate toys and I didn't want to fall down on my responsibility.  I got a lot of "Buy one, get one free" items and things for less than 50% off.  All in all, I was able to purchase about 28 gifts to donate.

This year, I was more focused on WHAT I wanted to purchase and tried not to worry too much about anything else. I got "Buy one, get one free" items as well as some supplies that, while inexpensive, will hopefully be a hit with the kids.  I went to Fred Meyer at 4:45 a.m. and parked near the doors where the toys were. I didn't stand in line because that just seemed like overkill. I waited in my car and I was able to get everything I wanted and a bit more.  The biggest challenge for me was waiting in the long checkout line when I was ready to leave - I don't remember that from last year. I think I may have missed the first checkout frenzy last year, so it didn't really show up in my plan.

I feel good about being able to give twice as many gifts for the kids this way. I worry that they won't like the gifts, but if they don't, it is still the thought that counts, right? That is so hard to keep in mind. I started to second guess myself this weekend, but I just decided that if they don't like their gifts, they can trade or something.

If I am still giving to this charity next year, I may actually look in the paper for gifts for my family/friends. If you look in the right places, you can certainly find some good deals and if you are already in the store and really know what you want, why not?  I'm not willing to go all over town to every store in the world or to fight with people trying to get "door busters" at Target, but I am willing to entertain a new tradition and to see where it leads.  We'll see. I may just maintain the status quo, too.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Life, Uninterrupted

I was thinking about stuff, as I am wont to do, and I was struck (again) by the fact that my life is just cruising along. Like it or not, every day dawns with new possibility and I just keep doing the same stuff. Still keep working, still keep thinking about how I want to do art, keep thinking that I want to finish my degree.  
None of these thoughts are a revelation. I think Roby's birthday and the anniversary of his death and my father's death just put me in the space thinking about what I have left undone and what I still want to do.
Today, I was watching GlobeTrekker on PBS. It was rerun of a woman in Zambia (I think). She went to Victoria Falls (there is a native name, but I can't remember it...sad, really that we only remember the conqueror's name for something so spectacular) and swam in this pool right at the edge of the falls. I'm not sure I want to swim in the pool, but I would love to see Victoria Falls. I would love to go to Africa, period. I would love to travel back to some of my favorite places from when I was a child. I would love to see some new places.  
I guess I better start my list and start checking things off. Maybe that is my goal for 2011. I'm sure it will take me a few years, but at least I can get started. Something to think about, right? 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Forty-Four Years Ago, Roby

Roby in "The Dining Room"
Happy Birthday, Roby.  You would have been 44 years old today. It's hard for me to imagine, especially after unearthing this hysterical photo from high school.  If AIDS hadn't entered our lives when we were so young, I like to think that you would have gone on to be a big name in Portland theatre. I don't know if you would have, but I like to think so.

As I posted on my Facebook, I'm sure Roby is somewhere screaming at me to take this photo down, but it is just one more part of him and is the catalyst for lots of great memories.  I worked at the props master for this show, "The Dining Room" in our senior year of high school. It was a dinner theatre production that we did in the round in the cafeteria. People were served prime rib dinner and then the show. One night, I was rushing across the stage towards the cafeteria and I notice Roby sitting on the edge of the stage. He was very upset. We sat together for a long time that day, just talking. It was one of those moments when I knew we had trust - he hadn't thrown up a wall of humor to throw me off the track. We had a real conversation about real issues in his world.

I would love to know him as a 44 year old. Alas, he was only with us for 29 years. But his memory lives on with many.
Roby and Fiona in "The Dining Room" circa 1985.

Roby, you are fondly remembered. Not just by me. By many. I love you.

Angie and Roby in the Green Room before "The Dining Room" in 1985.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone

Here is my Facebook status from this morning:
“Wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving.” Kahlil Gibran

I am grateful for all the people in my life, all the grace and joy I have been given and all the experiences that have led me here. Well, maybe not ALL the experiences, but mostly. ;)

Had a lovely Thanksgiving meal with friends and family today. Now, I'm gearing up for a foray into Black Friday. I never shopped on Black Friday until last year. I go for the sole purpose of purchasing toys for a holiday party for Deaf and Hard of Hearing children and their families. I figure that is a good cause. I don't shop all day, I don't go wandering from store to store. If I don't get what I'm hoping to get, so be it. I will just move on from there.  I am hoping to get some good deals on games and art supplies to make gifts for the kids at the party.  Wish me luck.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Crazy Target Lady Ads

I miss "Joe Boxer" Target commercials with the happy guy in his happy boxer shorts doing a little dance. Every time I saw that, it made me smile.

Now, we have crazed Target sale lady (aka Maria Bamford). Seriously, if I saw this woman in real life, I would run, not walk, in the opposite direction. The look in her eyes is SCARY. I have known mentally ill people and they have THAT look.  I know that Target is trying to be funny, but I think "Carol of the Bells" is permanently ruined by the ad where our sale-obsessed heroine is tied down with Christmas lights and alarm clocks so that she will wake up in time for the Day after Thanksgiving sales and she is "bing ding ding dinging" to the tune.

When I stopped to think about the difference between the two ad campaigns, I realized that they are really indicative of the state of the world right now. Happiness and sanity are not really in plentiful supply at this point. Everyone feels crazed and worried and anxious. For me, this makes me want to at least SEE happy people to remind me what it looks like. I don't want to see more unhappy, psychotic people. I want to imagine what life COULD be like again and will...

I hope the crazy Target lady goes away after Thanksgiving, but I have a feeling that she is here to stay, at least through the holidays. She is even worse than the shrill-voiced shrieking woman in the Old Navy ads. That's saying a lot.

**Just for the record, I'm not the only one who thinks this way...A more intelligent, articulate posting is here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ice, Art and Chinese Food

Well, I worked from home today because the main road by my house was frozen for a good portion of the day. I'm pretty sure that a lot of the main roads were fine, but it takes a while to actually get to the main roads.  By the time it cleared up, it was hardly worth going in as I was concerned about getting home again. Of course, I always make the decision on the days when it clears up. The days it is horrible, I am usually already out of the house and end up on some hotel. I guess I should have just gone in, but I did get a lot of work done.

I ordered two back issues of Art Journaling from Stampington and Company - I think I have been despairing that my art journals haven't looked perfect or the way I expect - even though some of the pages have come out pretty good. I needed some inspiration that I can make it look any way that I want. In my saner moments, I KNOW this, but for some reason, I need a lot of reinforcement in this area.  I looked through one issue while I was waiting for "Dancing with the Stars" results and I even did a little bit of work in one of the journals I started. Here's hoping I will get back to it - it has been bothering me that I haven't been doing anything, but I couldn't really bring myself to it. I guess everything has its own time and place.

I had great Chinese food from Szechuan House tonight - I thought it was a great choice for Thanksgiving week when all the traditional (and somewhat bland) food reigns. I have been going there for a long time and tonight it was DELICIOUS.  They make a mean hot and sour soup. If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend the place. It doesn't look like much in its little mall, hidden back there, but the food was very good.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Winter Wonderland?!?

I really wish that I could enjoy the snow. It is so beautiful on the trees and on the ground. But I don't enjoy it at all. I worry. I worry about work, I worry about getting to or from work. I worry about the people I work with and if they will be safe and take care of themselves or if they will worry and try so hard to get there and put themselves in danger.

We don't know how to drive in the snow and everyone makes fun of Portland for practically closing down, but with the snow comes ice and danger when you have to drive over bridges and overpasses that cover water. Schools and businesses don't want to close, so they wait until the last minute to decide which means there are almost always some people who had already started their trek before the decision was made.  Sometimes, I just wish we didn't have so many hills or so much ice or so many over-water roads. Maybe it would be easier then.

I feel cranky about the snow because everyone is always wishing for it and then when it comes, they complain or are upset when decisions are made that mean they have to continue real life and drive in treacherous conditions. STOP WISHING FOR SNOW for heaven's sake!  The only time I really welcome snow at this point is when everyone is already at home and no one will be affected (which is really never, when you think about it...)

Anyway, that's all. I don't even feel better for being cranky about it.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Arctic Temperatures?!

We have entered the extreme language zone for 2010. "Arctic temperatures" and "Storm Watch 2010" and all the accompanying stupidity.  "Be sure to watch our exact, down to the second doppler, radar, sonar, weather predicting program for the next 4 hours so that we can show you pictures of the snow FLAKES that were coming down 3 hours ago. We will show them over and over again because there is no actual snow falling in the area right now..."

Basically, it *might* snow. It might not.  It is cold. Ironically, it is also November - the traditional time for cold weather in the northern hemisphere.  Most of the news agencies have sent their crack reporters out to the far reaches of the area to stand in the dark and talk about the snow that hasn't happened yet. One station even talked to a runner who was prepared for the weather by...hold on...making sure that he watched for cars in the bad weather. Now, forgive me, but I'm pretty sure that my parents told me to watch out for cars ALL THE TIME. I know that seems radical, but it makes prep for the bad weather seem pretty easy.

I am bringing clothes in the car to ensure that if it snows while I'm at work, I will not have to drive in it. I will book a room at the Hilton and have a little staycation with cable TV.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

25th Anniversary Concert at O2 Movie Event

Now that I have time and a little more energy, I wanted to take some time to focus on the fantastic evening I had on Wednesday at the "Les Miserables" 25th Anniversary Concert movie event.  I LOVE Fathom Events - showing Opera, theatre, competitions, art events, anniversary showings of old films - what a fantastic idea! I love that someone thought of this. If people are able to see unfamiliar types of events for affordable prices, they might fall in love with an art genre that they would never have been exposed to otherwise. This goes back to the whole idea of listening to your parents music or to the radio - you hear things you might not choose to listen to but then you might be inspired to explore.  With iPods and headphones and backseat DVD players, there has to be another way to expose people to different types of entertainment, different music genres, etc.

The "Les Miserables" concert was beautifully filmed, beautifully staged and had an incredible cast of talented actors and singers.  The gentlemen who played Valjean, Javert, Thenardier and Enjolras were BRILLIANT singers. Lea Salonga was very good as Fantine - passionate, beautifully sung. The woman who played Eponine was outstanding. My favorite cast member in this production was the boy who played Gavroche. He was a FIRECRACKER!  Charisma poured out of him - he could act, he had great physical presence and he could sing. It made me long for the old "Little People" song from the original version of the show.

Even in concert version, I was moved to tears. Just being immersed in this beautiful show again was such a great experience. I found myself remembering moments in my life when those songs and the show were pivotal - lots of memories of Roby and NYC.  It felt like being at a live show. The audience was electrified, too. People clapped and cheered in the movie theatre and seemed very emotionally invested. It felt like a room full of people you know because we all shared one thing - love of this show.

After the curtain call, Cameron McIntosh came out and said a few words along with Alain Boubil and Jean-Michelle Schoenberg (the French composer and Lyricist) and Herbert Kretzmer (English language lyricist).  Then they brought out the 1985 Original London cast members.  Thankfully, Michael Ball was there (the BEST Marius ever cast in the role and still able to sing the part better than anyone else) and Colm Wilkinson.

The piece de resistance for me was having 4 different Jean Valjeans sing "Bring Him Home" together.  They had the current Valjeans from the Barbican and Queen's companies, Colm Wilkinson and the concert Valjean sing together. It is so beautiful. 

The Four Valjeans sing "Bring Him Home"

I really only had two complaints:

1.  I wish the entire show was still intact - this seemed to have some edits. I am hoping that most of the edits were for the concert and not permanent changes.

2. As I stated in a post a couple of days ago, Nick Jonas was not good. I felt badly for him - he was surrounded by these classical and clearly trained singer and he sounded like he had a clothespin on his nose.  His voice is much too thin for the part of Marius. Unfortunately, no one has ever been able to sing the part like Michael Ball could. I always thought it would be impossible for someone to sing Valjean as well as Colm Wilkinson, but I have never heard a bad Valjean. I definitely have my favorites, but I have never heard it sung badly - even in the high school production I interpreted.  Marius - that's a whole other story. From the original Broadway Marius (forever captured on the OBC recording and on the 1987 Tony Awards show performance) on down to this guy, the Marius' have been thin voiced and unconvincing. Shame, really, since he has some powerful music to sing.

Here is Michael Ball singing "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" from the 10th Anniversary concert:

Anyway, all in all, it was the highlight of my week. Actually, it was the highlight of the Fall for me, I think. I am hoping, hoping, hoping that this will be sold on DVD like the "RENT" Broadway closing DVD and all the other "Les Miserables" videos. I can't wait to have it in my hot little hands!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Fatigue

It is fascinating to me that expending emotional energy is much more taxing to me than working a long week or doing a show or traveling.  It is on my mind because this week has been one of those weeks.  By yesterday, I literally felt like someone was beating me up in my sleep.  One evening, I went home and ended up in my pajamas by 8pm.  I didn't necessarily go to bed at 8pm, but having my pjs at that time is quite a statement for me.

Other things I have been thinking about this week - where is the art?  I have been thinking about it so much and looking at blogs and books and magazines about art journaling, etc., but I haven't been DOING art.  That is frustrating for me - I WANT to, but I just haven't done it. I think the whole "set it up, do it, take it down" is a big deterrent for me. I want to have a space where I can leave a project without having to clean it up before I am done with it.  I was fantasizing about having a studio space the other day. It isn't really practical, but I like to think about it.

I'm hoping to take some classes at either Art on a Lark or Collage this winter. I also have a PCC catalog, so I may be taking an art class or a writing class this winter. Just something to keep me disciplined and learning new techniques.  That's pretty exciting for me. I love taking classes. I'm thinking about trying to finish my BA degree, too, so starting in classes that are less academic, but that require commitment and energy is a good start.

Well, TGIF!  Here's hoping I play in art and maybe even see the new Harry Potter movie this weekend. :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Letter to Movie and Theatre Goers

8Dear Movie/Theatre/Event Enthusiast:

Please understand that I mean this in the kindest way possible.

If an event starts at 7:30pm and you are with any more than 2 people and you show up at 7:29pm, please do not expect patrons who showed up ahead of time to accommodate you.  Please do not ask me to skooch over or tell me your sad story of woe about how you want to sit together.  I made arrangements to be there early with my people. You can do it, too.  If you choose not to, please accept the consequences gracefully and quietly.  Come in, find a seat, separate or together and sit down.

If you show up late alone, there might be seats.  Please go to one and sit in it. If you show up late with a group, please assess the situation and then make a quick determination - either sit in the front where there are groups of available seats or sit separately. Do not wander to and fro in front of the screen talking about how full it is and are those 3 seats together in the back taken.  The event has started.

That is all.

Thank you.


P.S.  Nick Jonas should not have been given the role of Marius. 'Nuff said.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I LOVE Les Miserables!

After all these years, it can still make me cry. The 25th Anniversary Concert movie was BRILLIANT!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Expectations for the Season

Well, friends, it's that time of year again.  Right now, I'm planning a "holiday/end of year celebration", a toy collection with an exhibitor's table and a dessert/bingo event that are all supposed to take place in the month of December.  There is Thanksgiving, Roby's birthday, trying to buy the toys for the toy collection, trying to get through the holidays personally.

I don't love this time of year and I don't get how I end up being saddled with all this stuff. Mostly, it is my job to do it but I keep saying it, "I AM NOT A PARTY PLANNER."  I don't know what people like, I want them all to have a good time, I have a fear that if I plan something, people won't attend. I hate that. :(

Wish me luck. And if you want to donate some toys, we are collecting $$ and toys for the Deaf Kids Holiday Party.  The toys should be for kids ages 8-10 and their worth should be about $10.  I have a few ideas that I am investigating and am looking out for good sales between now and the Monday after Thanksgiving. Contact me if you are interested or if you know any families with Deaf or Hard of Hearing children - I want to help the organization get the word out about the party.

Monday, November 15, 2010

What Am I Doing?

Today, as I drove home well after the time I should have been driving home, I was remembering a conversation I had with a woman I met at the writing retreat I went to two weekends ago.

We had all done an exercise where we met women and said, "I am a writer." The rest of the day, when I met a new woman, I would ask her what she wrote. The danger was that if I asked them that question, they would ask me...One woman I talked to - Erin - said she wrote a blog. I said that I did too...

Yesterday, I was thinking about Erin and about writing and her blog and mine. I had the passing thought that this is not a writer's blog in the classic sense. That's okay - I'm not saying it is bad. But I imagined Erin coming to this blog and what her reaction might be. Then I thought about my own floundering sometimes when it comes to posts. I'm not sure what any of this means, but I was just thinking about it.

More to come...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

What Was I Supposed to be Doing?

I have been cleaning, decluttering and getting distracted from all of the above this weekend. I have made some progress, although not enough for my taste. Then I got distracted because I was frustrated with my progress but lack of progress in my head.

I found some of the photos I have been wanting to scan, so I did and am posting them here today. I'm still frustrated with my lack of ability to scan slides, though. I have a feeling I'm going to have to go professional on them, but I have heard that they ruin the slide if you do take them in. I'm not sure I'm ready/willing to chance that just yet.

So here are some of the photos I've unearthed today. I found more, but I didn't feel like taking the time to edit them all, so I will post more in the coming weeks.  For now, some childhood photos, a picture of my dad, my mom, some of my sister and I.
Good memories, all.

David F. Miller, USAF probably around 1973ish

Sandy (5), Jean (5), Linda (9) May 1973. Aurora, Colorado in front of our house. Crawford Elementary School is across the street.

My fifth birthday. Friends of the family, the Browns, there celebrating with us.

My fifth birthday with the pink stuffed dog gift I fell in love with instantly.

Linda and I in the "little bedroom" with Pez dispensers. I remember watching "Emergency" in there and listening to Kenny Rogers and the First Edition in here.

Me. 1973 Easter dress. Close up from the next photo.

I have to rescan this straight. Linda and I in our identical Easter dresses. I believe we have photos of us outside, as well, where you can see that the state of my dress is much more disheveled. 1973.

Me again. May 1973. Detail from the earlier photo. I like this picture. :)

Linda from when Mom was living in West Virginia while my dad was in Vietnam.

Mom when she was living in West Virginia while my dad was in Vietnam. Probably 1964-65.   
It was nice to see some of these old photos.  My family never hung photos because we were in the military and they would have to pay for any "damage" done to the apartments we lived in. Basically, white walls. Photos mostly on slides and one or two photo albums. Then, almost all of our photos from the time we were in Germany were stolen when we were moving back to the U.S.A. - the cameras were in the same boxes as the photos.  (Lesson learned.) My parents would pull out the old slide projector once or twice a year, so seeing old photos is always a big treat for me.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Where is My Poetry?

I was thinking about poetry this week, as I said yesterday. Then, at work today, I had a conversation that helped me understand where my poetry went. We were talking about how technology has changed communication.

In school, we learn how to write letters, how to write essays, all the rules of grammar and form and then we learn to break those rules in creative writing. Then, we go out into the world and we work. The need for certain kinds of communication decreases, the world changes and we start talking in Twitter and Facebook and bullets and business. Our relationships change as we stop being oriented towards hanging out and start love relationships and families. As responsibilities start to become more important and more present, if you haven't been practicing your poetry, your poetic thinking, it hides somewhere between email writing and clear business language.

That's where my poetry went. I realized today, I'm going to have to coax it out. It might take awhile. I'm not sure what will tempt it to come back out.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

On The Verge

I have been thinking about writing all week - duh - because of the retreat last weekend. I haven't written anything creatively in a long, long time. I have been thinking of poetry, mostly. I fell in love with Maya Stein's poetry. I haven't been keeping up with her website, but I was inspired by her.

Maybe I will try to write this weekend. I may or may not post stuff here - depends on how brave I'm feeling.

On another note, it is Veteran's Day today. My father was a Vietnam Veteran. He served 4 years in the Army after joining when he was underage and then he went to the Air Force and served 22 years. I didn't know it until a short time before his death, but my dad's high school principal actually helped my dad get into the military before he was of age (I believe he was 16 or 17) because he was going down a bad road and the principal thought my dad would end up in jail if he didn't go into the military. So, in honor of my father and Veteran's everywhere, Thank You for your service.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My Kind of Country Music

Let me first go on the record and say that I am not a "country music fan". I go in and out and it always depends on the artist.  Tonight, I watched the CMA award show and it was somewhat torturous. My takeaways, as I wrote in my FB status:  "I am not in the Taylor Swift demographic." AND  "Why didn't they just let Loretta Lynn sing for herself? Or show clips of her singing? Or let her say something? And Miranda, put the girls away."

I LOVE Carrie Underwood and some of the music that is coming out of the country genre, but then there are horrible songs and performances. I decided to go to YouTube and enjoy some ACTUAL country music that I like.

First and foremost, here is Loretta Lynn singing "Coal Miner's Daughter" back in the 1960s or 1970s.

Here is Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers:

Alabama "Mountain Music"

Carrie Underwood "Jesus Take the Wheel"
At first, I didn't like this song, but I loved Carrie's voice and just the presence she had. Later, the song grew on me and she sings the heck out of it.

Shania Twain "Man, I Feel Like A Woman"

Trisha Yearwood "How Do I Live?"
She recorded this version and LeAnn Rimes' version seemed to get more play - which I NEVER understood. Trisha Yearwood's version is much more believable, more soulful, more emotionally connecting. And it sounds like she is saying, "How do I Live?" not "How do I Leave?". Just my opinion, though.

Tanya Tucker "What's Your Mama's Name?"

Mac Davis "Whoever Finds This, I Love You" (I don't know if Mac Davis was considered country or not...but I LOVED this song when I was about 6 or 7. I used to cry every time I heard it.)

This turned into a video post more than anything, but that's okay. Sometimes these little trips down memory lane are kind of fun. I have such a hard time finding music I can relate to now, so any opportunity to listen to something I love.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Nervous Headache, Anyone?

Remember in the old days on television - the women would always get a "nervous headache". I never really understood what they meant and I don't have one now, but I can understand how anxiety increases over time.

I find that instead of becoming immune to scary things, horrific things, mean things, annoying people/things, I have become SUPERSENSITIZED to most of these things. It is to the point where tonight, on a show that I really enjoy, I almost couldn't watch it because one of the characters (not a regular, I hope) is almost EXACTLY like someone I know and see on a regular basis. Listening to them talk made my hackles raise up and I just couldn't really even bear to pay attention to the program.

More and more, when things happen in movies or on TV that are gruesome or bloody, I have to cover my eyes and my ears so that I can't HEAR the noises, either. I feel like an idiot when I clap my hands over my ears at the movie theatre, but it is an automatic reaction now.  Weird.  I think I'm just going to have to limit myself to romantic comedies and dramas that don't involve murders. (Although I want to see the new movie based on the Joe Wilson/Valerie Plame situation. If I spelled her name right.)

And on a separate note, I got my hair cut tonight. We'll see how it looks tomorrow after I have washed it. Tonight, I wonder why the woman didn't understand what I meant when I said I wanted it to be about an inch below my shoulders. Ah. It is just hair. It will grow back.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Update on Payment

I got a copy of the receipt and I HAD paid for the workshop. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I was really worried about it. Knowing that I had done what I thought, that I had taken care of business, was a huge relief.  I even got a lovely email from the assistant of one of the presenters.

I don't know WHY I get so caught up in this kind of stuff sometimes. Maybe it is my way of distracting myself or disconnecting with the material just a little. I was fully present for about 99% of the retreat except for those few moments when the thought of having not paid would niggle into my head. I fought it off because I knew that I had the integrity to make sure that I had paid my way. It was just the idea that I was there BEFORE I had paid.

Anyway, it is all taken care of and I was not insane thinking that I had paid for the retreat - I had. Done.

On a side note, this time of year drives me crazy.  I was freezing when I got home from work, turned up the heat a bit. The heater went crazy and it is 75+degrees in here and I am dying. I had to turn on the fan. I turned the heater down, but the heat is lingering. Ugh.  Fall is always like this - the temperature either goes one way or the other. Never just temperate. I should remember that I don't want the heat on and just put on a sweater.  Geez.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Rise Above

At the end of the retreat, Patti passed out rocks from the Rock Fairy to all the participants. We reached into the box and selected a rock. My rock from Friday night's reading was "What is your hidden secret?" which I am still pondering.

My rock selection from yesterday was "Rise Above".  Immediately, several things came to mind, but they were all small and insignificant. I think this has deeper meaning and is maybe something that I need to spend some time considering. The other thought that flitted through my mind when I read this rock was that perhaps the hidden secret is the thing I need to rise above.  Interesting, huh?

Today, after the retreat, after daylight savings time ended, I am feeling tired. Good tired, but tired. Like "I had a really emotional day" tired or "I just did a show" tired. It's all good. I'm considering doing some art journaling, but I'm not sure yet.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

"Walking into Fire" without an Extinguisher

My writing retreat was today.  It was called "WALKING INTO FIRE: Sidestepping Fear, Writing Your Heart Out, and Letting Your Story Tell Itself".  I have been looking forward to this for months...I'm not even sure when I found out about it but it was at least 3 months ago.  If you read my post from yesterday, you know that there was some question about whether or not they had received my payment, if I could get in if they HADN'T received it...AARGH!

I made sure to get there early in case I had to finagle my way in.  When I got up to the registration table, the woman who was there looked me up and my name was on the list. That was almost more puzzling than finding out that my payment hadn't gone through last night.  Now, I'm wondering if Patti saw my FB post and added me so there would be a slot. Then I realized how egotistical that was...so, how did I get on the list?  I asked the registration woman how I could know if my payment was received - she put a note on my name. But I didn't receive any emails...other people got a confirmation AND a note about coming to Kennedy School.

All day, I was trying not to be distracted by thinking about how I can make sure that my payment was received. I HAVE to make sure they got my payment, but they are teaching for goodness sake. I don't want to bother them with something so menial. I know that when I have taught workshops, I want to be dealing with the participants on the topic, not things like "Can you make sure I paid?"  Finally, I decided that I would email the place where the registrations were and just make sure that way.  I don't want to miss out because they were going to provide the participant's email addresses later this week so that we can maintain contact. Once I had a plan of action, I was able to breathe easier and sink into the workshop.

I find as I get older that workshops are less about learning something new and more about deepening what we thought we knew or getting affirmation that what we already know is good.  I did learn a meditation technique that worked for me. I was surprised at how relaxed I felt while doing it. Most of the time, when I have done meditations in workshops, they make you sit or lay on the floor and it either makes me tired or I start thinking, "How long before we are done? I'm uncomfortable." This meditation was different and I liked it. I may continue to try to practice it...

My favorite part of today was that I laughed A LOT.  I also met some amazing women who I hope to continue to know in some capacity.  Erin, Gail, Brigitte, Teresa, Sher and Molly were particularly people I connected with.  Erin and I were talking in the lunch line and I mentioned that I was a sign language interpreter - Molly was a few people ahead of me and overheard "sign language interpreter" - she is an interpreter, too, from Kansas.  We struck up a lovely conversation at lunch time.  Teresa runs a special bed and breakfast in Seattle and writes a blog about recovering her life after the sudden death of her 20 year old son. Erin is a children's librarian in Idaho who has a blog called Sexual References.  Sher is from Michigan and is working on moving to Portland with her two kids to change her career path and possibly deepen a relationship.  I didn't get to know Gail and Brigitte as well because we were partners in different exercises and were focused on the specifics of the exercise. Both these women were gracious and kind.

One of the things the presenters challenged us to do was to take the retreat day as an opportunity to do things differently. They challenged us to come at things from a different approach than our "usual".  I really tried - I noted a couple of things that I was not comfortable to change, but I did try some others. One of the things I decided to do was to be myself - to be open to people.  Sometimes, I feel so shy when strangers talk to me. Yesterday, I made sure to ask people's names, look them in the eye and talk with them. I tried to ask them questions to draw them out. I was open to talking to the women in the line in the bathroom and that is how I started talking to Erin and Molly.  Usually, I just get so uncomfortable that I can't maintain. I judge myself pretty harshly so I have a hard time talking to people sometimes.  Yesterday, I just decided that I could be myself and if they didn't like who that was, they could choose not to stay.

The other way I challenged myself was to participate in the larger group. Usually, I don't ask questions (at work, it is different). Normally, I don't offer my own answers, particularly if it is creative in nature.  The other thing that came up was that I had my own unique response to some of the prompts. One of the questions was what is another word you use for creativity?  The first word that came to mind for me was COLOR.  Then they started around the room and everyone started sharing their words: imagination, freedom, voice, expression, safety, unique, flow, etc.  As they continued to go around the room, I was frantically trying to think of a "better" word - something that would fit with theirs. I didn't connect with their words so I couldn't find one of theirs that I could repeat. Finally, it came to my turn and I said, "Color."  There. I said it. I didn't burst into flames. No one pointed and laughed. It felt right.  Later, we did a free write about our intention for the workshop. Once we were done, we were asked to select one word for our intention.  Again, people had a variety of words for their intentions - all valid, all good, but not MINE.  My word was "RECLAIM".  This time, we just needed to raise our hand if we wanted to share. I waited and listened to many words. The words the other woman used were good, but none of them expressed my thought, so finally, I raised my hand and said my word. Again, no flames, no laughter. It was so interesting - I wasn't judging the other women's words, but I felt I wasn't represented and I wanted that word or something close to it to be in the air for those of us who may have lost our way as writers or creatives.

The experience was rich and deep. I laughed a lot and it made me think and it made me long to find my voice and to say whatever it is that I think I want to say. I'm up for the challenge, I think.  I'm sure I will have more to say once I have processed everything a little more.

**Follow up:  I just sent off my note to check on payment. It is bothering me, so hopefully, I will hear soon so that I can either breathe easy or get it taken care of so I don't feel guilty and a little bit stupid. :)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Reading, Missed Opportunity, and Oversight

Tonight was the reading I have been anxiously awaiting at Powell's at Cedar Hills Crossing.  Patti Digh, Jennifer Louden and Susan Piver each read from their newest offerings, did a book signing and a Q and A.  To my surprise, Patti recognized me and remembered my name when she arrived.  It was a good time and I laughed a lot. These women are going to inspire me tomorrow, for sure.

I brought my camera with me tonight - not the phone kind, but my actual digital camera. It is small and cute and I had every intention of whipping that baby out and snapping some pictures of the authors tonight as they conducted the event. I had the camera out a couple of times, even turned it on, made sure the flash was off...but I couldn't do it.  They were engaging speakers, making eye contact around the room...I just couldn't bring that camera out to spoil it. I will never be a photographer at heart... I did realize that I might have been more inclined to take photos if my camera didn't make so much noise. It has all these little beeps and blips and I don't know how to turn them off. When I left, I had a momentary regret at not taking at least ONE photo. I have tomorrow, I suppose. Just felt like a missed opportunity.

Speaking of missed opportunities, on to the oversight... I remember THE DAY that I saw Patti would be in town and that she was co-teaching a retreat. I saw the announcement first on Facebook and then I went immediately to her blog, 37Days, clicked on the hot link and started the registration process.  I remember it down to the fact that the company was Jennifer Louden, Inc. and there was an option to pay through PayPal or with my debit card. I decided to pay with PayPal. Apparently, that is where my memory ended. I have looked for a confirmation email, receipt for payment, etc. and I haven't received anything. I should have been more assertive and sent a note inquiring about time and specific location, etc.  Sigh. Tonight, as I searched for a confirmation, some information, needed supplies, ANYTHING, I got frustrated. Went to my bank account, which I had been locked out of for a long time, so I'm not in the habit of checking it often.  Nothing. Went to PayPal...Ah. Then, I remembered.  I had tried to pay with PayPal and found out my account had been hacked or was suspected of being hacked so it was suspended and I had to go through this whole process of verifying my identity. I'm glad that they protect consumers - I just wish I had remembered. So apparently, instead of immediately going back to the registration and paying with a credit card or my debit card, I imagined that I had completed the payment. Now, the night before the workshop, I am happy to know that they still have slots open...although, I was hoping they would fill the whole workshop. I feel stupid and a little embarrassed and really, what I know is that it was just an honest mistake. I'm frustrated with myself, more than anything.

On a final note, Patti passed out rocks from her Rock Fairy tonight. We each got to take a random rock with a message painted on it.  Many people found that they got the perfect rock for them. I have to think about mine. My first reaction was, "What? This isn't the right rock for me. I want one of those "Perfect for me" rocks."  But I am just sitting with this. There is something there, but I don't know what.

Ready for it?

"What is your hidden secret?"

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ghost of Road Trips Past

So, a friend of mine did a play here in Portland and it was a HUGE success.  The person was not from the Portland area and when the play was done, he went back home for a few months. I missed him terribly. Then, he was hired to recreate the role in Los Altos, California (I believe).  This was in the fall of 1990.  I really wanted to see him in the play, but the world hadn't really progressed to the kinds of commuter flights that Southwest provides now (read: CHEAP) or I didn't know about it if they did offer them.  After some discussion with a friend of mine, we decided to drive down to San Francisco (past it to Los Altos, really).

Some back story:  I worked for the school district as an educational interpreter during the previous school year. During the summer, I worked for the same coffee company I had worked in when I was in college. That summer, I pinched my sciatic nerve and experienced excruciating pain in my back and down my leg (it actually went on for more than a year, but that is a whole other story). Fast forward to the first week back working for the school district. I was in so much pain, I limped when I walked and I had to drive using my left foot on the brake and accelerator because my right leg was in so much pain.  Brilliantly, my friend and I decide to drive to Los Altos - 15 hours in the car, each way.

My friend and I had never traveled anywhere together and I was just 23 years old and hadn't realized yet that traveling with someone can make or break a friendship. We got a rental car on Friday afternoon and started off. My friend was not comfortable with me driving, so she drove the whole way. We had both made mixed tapes, but our tastes in music were REALLY different - particularly for a road trip.  I was having trouble sitting for that long and finally fell asleep which upset her greatly - "You are supposed to keep me company!"  I asked her if we could put some music on. Since she was the driver, I thought it was fair to let her choose the music. The tape she had was James Taylor and Kenny Loggins, I believe. Now, I love them both but NOT WHEN WE ARE DRIVING FOR 15 HOURS!!  I could not stay awake. I felt badly but I just couldn't do it. When I'm tired, I like to listen to rowdy, fun music that you can sing and groove to - James Taylor just doesn't fit the bill. He is too mellow for me in the car.  Let's just say it was a LONG drive down.

The other point of interest in this story is that my friend would only eat at nationally known restaurants (I seem to know a lot of those people). During that trip, we ate at Denny's 6 times in 3 days. I could go 10 years and not eat at Denny's that many times. Her rationale was that you could always predict what the Denny's food was going to be like - every Denny's had a Grand Slam or pancakes or a Ham and Cheese omelet and they would pretty much taste the same, no matter which Denny's you went to.  Now, in my mind, this is precisely the reason you SHOULDN'T eat at Denny's, but I didn't win that argument, either.

So, we drove for 15 hours, arriving in Los Altos at our "Fiesta Style" Holiday Inn. We went into the hotel room and went to bed exhausted.  A few hours later, I woke up because my friend had thrown a pillow at me and told me to go sleep in the bathtub because I snored.  I was PISSED.  I told her, "If it bothers you so much, why don't YOU go sleep in the bathroom?" and I went back to sleep. It wasn't meant to be - the phone rang a couple of hours later and it was the California Relay - my actor friend was calling to see when we should meet up.

The saddest part is that I barely remember the play or the time in Los Altos - we were only there for a very short time. I remember being at the house where my actor friend was staying - GORGEOUS!!! We went to the play - it was good, but I was biased for the Portland production. It was so great to see my friend again (he later moved to Portland).  After the play, a bunch of the actors, my friends and I went to a bowling alley for a few hours where we ate and bowled a few games. It was fun, but not that memorable. Then, back to the hotel for a few hours of shut eye and up by 7am to get on the road.

By the time we got back into the car on Sunday, neither one of us were looking forward to the ride home - we had kind of had it with each other. We talked some and then went into another round of James Taylor.  I think, at the time, I was into dance music and had been hanging out at The Embers and CC Slaughters downtown with my Deaf friends, so I probably had stuff like Dead or Alive, Prince, Erasure,  Madonna...I don't even know what was popular at that time, but it was NOT James Taylor.  We stopped at a few Denny's on the way but I was so irritated, I almost couldn't eat. I remember that when we stopped in Grant's Pass on the way home, I ended up eating, paying and going out to sit in the car until she came out. I'm sure the ride home was no fun for her either. Meanwhile, I'm in massive amounts of pain from my back...

When we arrived home, we said our goodbyes and barely ever spoke to each other again. Really. Almost never. And sometime in the middle of that year, she quit her job as an interpreter and then we didn't even have that in common anymore.

I like to think that if something like that were to happen now, I would be smarter about it, but I guess if I did the same thing again, it would have a similar outcome.  I have seen that friend a few times since, but really, that road trip was the end for me. I know it probably doesn't sound like much here - I don't have a lot of clear memories of what we said or did, just visual images, residual feelings. I have learned that traveling with friends takes a lot of work and that you should really know the person pretty well before you EVER get in a car with them for more than say, 2 hours.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Memories Of Car Trips

Tell us about a memorable car trip you took as a kid. (Prompt from Nablopomo)

When I was a kid, we took A LOT of car trips. People didn't fly around with their kids as much back then (well, I don't think they did...we didn't). Some highlights from memorable car trips:

1.  When we lived in Aurora, Colorado, my dad would sometimes get us all in the Scout on Saturdays. We would get all excited, "Daddy, where are we going?"  He would say, "Crazy" and proceed to take a long winding drive on some backroad somewhere that wasn't paved. Usually, we would end up at Target. I was too little to read, so I thought that the store that had the red target was called "Crazy".  I loved going there because we usually got to pick out a new book.  I found out later that my dad took those drives to keep his leg bent for a period of time - he had to do that to keep range of motion after getting run over and being in and out of the hospital in traction for a year right after I was born.

2.  We drove from Denver to Chicago the summer before we moved to Wiesbaden, Germany. We were visiting all the relatives. I had just turned 6 at the time. I remember I had this multi-colored, striped bathing suit. The first night we were at my aunt Betty's house, I remember running around in that bathing suit until I finally just lay down in the middle of the living room and fell asleep.  That was the trip they had a terrible hail storm and one of the dads ran out to their car with a metal garbage can lid over his head. He got hit on the head (via the can) with a hailstone and got knocked out. The other dads had to run outside and drag him back in. I have never gone outside during a hailstorm...

3.  I remember driving all around Colorado when we went camping and fishing. Back then, no one really brought beverages with them when they were in the car. When we went on a long trip, my mom would pack up the cooler and put it in the back of the scout. When we got hungry or thirsty, we would pull over to the side of the road and have a PBJ sandwich and a little dixie cup full of Pepsi. We never really drank pop when I was a kid - just sips from my mother's cup unless we were traveling.  I have a slide of one of these little roadside picnics, but I haven't been able to get the scanner/printer/slide transfer option to work on my printer. I'm working on it, so hopefully, I will get some photos in here soon-ish.

4.  When we came back from Germany in 1976, it was December.  We flew from Frankfurt to London where we had a LOOOONG layover. There had been a problem with the first plane and we had to wait hours and hours before being diverted. We landed at La Guardia in NYC (which, by the by, closes at midnight due to noise ordinances in the city) after 2:00am, so we couldn't get a flight to Pittsburgh where my grandparents lived.  We stayed in the airport Holiday Inn with $10 in vouchers for all 4 of us to have some food in the morning.  Even in 1976, $10 was not adequate for 4 people in NYC in restaurants in or around the airport. I remember my mother exclaiming about the $5 hamburgers on the menu. We finally arrived in Pittsburgh where we stayed a few days and my parents bought a Pinto. There. I said it. I'm sure it was what we could afford...After a few days, we piled all our belongings into the Pinto and put all our CHRISTMAS gifts on top of the Pinto and started our trek to Dallas, Texas to visit my aunt.  I remember driving across the Mississippi River on some bridge and sending up a childish prayer not to let our gifts fly off the car and into the river. I was only 9 at the time, so I think I can be forgiven in light of the chaos of moving to a different country.  The gifts survived and we made it to Texas just fine. By New Year's, we had driven from Dallas, Texas to Panama City, Florida where the beaches actually looked like snow.

I've got a million of them... bunches from my childhood, some from my youth, some from adulthood.  It's getting late, but maybe tomorrow I will tell you about my trip to SF for a weekend. We drove. It was that trip that helped me develop my one of the first rules of travel:  Always stay in a place at least twice as long as it took you to get there. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election 2010 and the Fate of the World

It has been a long and dirty campaign this fall in politics on the national, state and local level.  People are looking for someone to blame, someone who knows what they are talking about, someone who might be able to make a change. We are such an instant gratification culture that we can't even remember how we got here in the first place, can't look at what is REAL and see that things are moving in the right direction.  Maybe things are moving too slowly for many folks, but we didn't get to another economic depression overnight - we aren't going to be able to get out of it that way, either. The races for everything are close. The "news" channels are all "predicting" and espousing their uninformed, uninvited opinions about everything from soup to nuts.

The biggest relief will be the end to the onslaught of horrific campaign ads. The next biggest relief is that at least we will know. There are only so many outcomes, after all. Some of them are good, some of them not-as-good and some are downright AWFUL. Whatever happens, we have been though a lot and we can get through some more. I just hope we can see an upswing sometime in the near future. I'm tired of feeling like help *might* be around the corner - that all is *not* lost. I would rather see the light- even if it is far away or very dim.

Election fatigue. I have it. A bad case.

I voted.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Mixed Tape Love

If you were going to make a mix of love songs, what five songs would you have to include?

Ah, mixed tapes...Well, I guess you don't call them that anymore...mixed CDs? Mixed play lists?  Bah - technology.  I'm going to stick with what I know.  If I had to pick five love songs...that's a tough one, but I think I have them:

1.  Annie's Song - John Denver
2.  Power of Two - Indigo Girls
3.  Love Will Keep Us Alive - The Eagles
4.  Kissing You - Des'ree
5.  When I First Saw You - Dreamgirls

If I could add some, I would add these...I'm sure I would change my mind on a different day... I think a lot of songs I consider "love songs" are actually more like "break-up songs" but hey, whatever...And I am wholly limited by my memory and the music I have managed to download/upload to my computer. I have TONS of music in my record collection (yes, I still have it) and songs from my formative years...I'm sure I could find a million love songs that way...

6.  I Would Die 4 U - Prince
7.  Goodbye to You - Michelle Branch
8.  Time After Time - Cyndi Lauper
9.  Don't Cry - Seal
10. For Good - from Wicked
11.   Love Will Keep Us Together - Captain and Tenille
12.  Something's Burning - Kenny Rogers and the First Edition
13.  Is this Love? - Alison Moyet
14.  Mountain Duet - from Chess
15.  Power of Two - Indigo Girls
16.  Here Comes the Rain Again - Eurythmics
17.  Dress You Up - Madonna

Hmmm. This has made me think about my music collection. I'm going to have to investigate what I have and what I need. I know my selections are a bit *eclectic*, so to speak, but there you go. I'm sure I have other strange and interesting choices - I'm just too tired to think of them all. Perhaps I will add more as I go along.

I looked at the list again after posting and I think I will have to evaluate...These were definitely songs that came to mind, but maybe not the songs I would choose for sure. So not important, but once you start thinking about something like this...hard to make it stop...


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