Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Yeah, whatever...

The one thing I am learning is that I don't have a very strong sense of comittment. But, ever the optimist... since today is the second day we are snowed in and housebound, I am going to catch up on all my writing projects. Well, maybe not all, but some. And no more scary pictures - yecccch! What was I thinking?

Friday, November 11, 2005

Who I AM

As I struggle to keep my focus this afternoon on filing 6 months of bills, and organizing the three-foot-high piles of paperwork, and the stacks and stacks of how-to-write propaganda, I have somehow come to a place where I can actualy start to see the real me. Is it the zen state brought on by three hours of filing? Is it the lack of blood from three hours of sitting on the floor? Is it the Eagles Hotel California Album playing over and over again that evokes snippets of me? Is it all of the above? Yes, yes, and a resounding YES!

In the year 1971 I think, I sat in front of the black and white TV set in the Den/Gramma's bedroom, with my Gramma, and my little sister and watched the Hallmark Presentation of Rogers and Hammersteins Cinderella. As shallow as it sounds now, 35 years later, that movie changed, or rather provided a framework for My Life.

I'm not sure where to start, because I can literally draw a comparison from everything that has happened to me, to my adolescent interpretation of Rogers and Hammerstein's interpretation of the story of Cinderalla as interpreted by the Grimm brothers. So you see how convoluted this is. I will save the whole-life extrapolation for future posts, what I would like to focus on right now is Tessie.

In 1971, when I watched that production, and related my gangly adolescent self to Leslie Anne Warren's portrayal of a pseudo gangly adolescent girl, my psyche grabbed those perky lyrics and cast them in the soundtrack of what became my life. I can't tell you how many times I've pondered one of life's dilemmas and had the lyric to a song from that show pop into my head. I'm embarrassed to confess how many times I've used those lyrics as a deciding factor.

So... fast forward to today - or earlier this week. Tessie and Bearly are both trying out for the Jr. High School Play. This year it is L'il Abner. For these auditions, children must learn a dance and choose a song to sing. For Bearly, who has exceeded at being both class clown and football hero, this is best compared to Chris Penn's performance in Footloose. As for Tessie, this is where I start to see WHO I AM.

Tessie, is, as she hates to admit, me. I, am, as I am kind of lucky to observe, alot like Tessie. In her search for a song to sing for the audition, Tessie chose....yes, the Impossible Song, from the Rogers and Hammerstien production of Cinderella. Her voice was perfect for it, and yes, my nostalgic anchor urged me to push her to choose that. I am totally embarassed to admit how I sweated her 'hour upon the stage.' But as we both high fived each other to celebrate - she made both the dance and singing call backs. Brother Bearly, who would charm the pants off of the audience in some comic role, only made the dance call backs, the announcement of which has slightly dampened his enthusiasm for this play.

So, this evening, as I am dutifully filing, which I liken to sweeping out the chimney, and as Bearly is galloping across the neighborhood countryside on his mighty steed.. er skateboard, and as Tessie is floating about the house singing In My Own Little Corner - I can't help but relate yet another line from that song to my life.... "I can be whatever I want to be."

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Even If It's Not Visible

I am feeling an improvement. Especially in the skin on my face, it's smoother, and isn't breaking out as much. Now I'm not sure if it's the internal change of diet and all those antioxidant supplements or the topical application of DMEA and a moisturizer with Vitamin C Ester. But, I'm not the chemist here, I am but the lab rat charting my progress in this experiment.

It's interesting. So many things are changing, but we - our family - is not picking up and moving nor are we doing much of anything drastic. Several times in our lives Downtown Dad and I have felt what we call 'the winds of change' start to blow, and each time that's happened we've made a drastic change - relationship, career, state! This time, it seems as if we just needed to open our eyes and accept the changes, rather than effect them as we have in the past. I'm going to stick with me as the example, but just as an aside, the kids are really happy, they've got good friends and they are both getting good grades in school. The dogs seem happy - aside from Zoey not getting good grades in her potty training - all seems quiet on the canine front. As for Downtown Dad, well, once the stress eases up a bit I think he'll start feeling the effects of a better, healthier diet.

So, about the changes:

We've decided to take the house off the market and rent it out. I took a class last year that had me absolutely itching to buy and investment property and we just couldn't swing it financially. Now here we are with a lovely renovated vacant investment property just sitting in our laps - (smacking my forehead) - Duh!

I've applied for a Part Time position as a Human Resources Assistant, that offers flexible hours. This way I can hang on to my Realtor license in case somebody wants to buy a house from me by accident, and for the landlord tax write offs, and use my free time doing somethign I know, AND get a steady paycheck! (again with the forehead smacking)

I'm also working on negotiating a freelance writing gig in-house where I work. See, Realtors - real ones, not pretend ones like me, send out marketing propaganda - alot. Our company has recently switched to a marketing newsletter that no one likes, but it was thought that if we produced one in-house the costs would be too prohibitive. I've sprinkled hints here and there, and enough people know I can write - plus I've strategically placed myself as chairperson of the Marketing Advisory Committee, where the newsletter problem is being discussed. Long story short - it looks like our company will be producing a 4 page glossy marketing newlsetter monthly and I may be able to propose myself a place as writer! Which, would be another source of steady income, once again doing something I know!

So I'm keeping my fingers crossed and sticking to my new healthy eating habits and hoping that each of these new pathways work out! OK, here's the picture. By the way, it will be apparent when I REALLY start to see a difference because I won't bury the picture way down on the post anymore.... :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Another Day

OK, here's me... call me weird, but I'm seeing an improvement. This picture is considerably less painful than the others. I'm going to catch up all the haps tomorrow. The events are growing and I fear I will fall behind and never be able to remember all the sordid details which are really the best parts! Stay tuned for more on:
  • Clients sent to rehab days before closing on a house
  • Egotistical client offers low on a new construction home and is not laughed out of the deal!
  • Home is lovingly rehabbed and then languishes on the market
  • Pity party thrown
  • Disney's Electrical Parade soundtrack found to be cure for depression
  • Tessie and Bear try out for Middle School play - OH! The Drama!
  • A Thirty Year Reunion is planned - A rebellion is afoot!
  • Supplemental employment - reality or realty?
  • Landlord or Slumlord
  • Doggy doors - replace the carpet or replace the door?
  • Freelance Newsletters - my key to solvency?

Well, for some reason my network won't let me upload the picture, perhaps a blessing.

**update** Network allowed upload

Sunday, November 6, 2005

November 3 and 4

OK, I've been a little preoccupied. Sticking to this healthy diet, and still hanging with my buds who are a constant bad influence on me. I'm strong though - ha ha.

So anyway, here are the two latest photo installments, sadly, they just look like the previous two. I need to keep this up though, as painful as it is to think that anyone else is looking at these.

I don't have a lot to say... which is odd coz there is a whole ton of stuff going on, I just can't focus my ADD mind on any one long enough to write about it.

It occurs to me that if I'd jot down a little bit each night, even if it's not Shakespearean, it would ease up on the pressure to back track and write out the whole back story every time something occurs to me.

OK, now that I've used up enough space to ease the shock of the pictures being the first thing you see when the page loads - here it is.

November 3

November 4

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

More Who Am I?

OK, going with this theme, I thought I'd also do something that is really scary to me, a picture log of my progress on this eating plan full of promise for a healthier, younger looking me.

Yesterday I weighed 165, looked like hell, and felt very tired at the end of the day. Sleepy tired, with a headache, but not muscle fatigue tired, plus my back didn't really hurt all that much. I stuck to the diet to the letter. Eggs with spinach and fruit, all the vitamins, green tea and water for breakfast. A tomatoey stew with veggies and chicken and cashew butter with a salad dressed with olive oil and lemon juice for lunch, along with the vitamins, green tea and more water. A snack around 3 of celery sticks and guacamole made with edamame, more tea, more water. Dinner was wild caught salmon (canned) with steamed asparagus with olive oil lemon juice and dill drizzled over the top with yes, more green tea and more water and some more vitamins. I skipped the evening snack because I was so tired I went to bed at 8:30.

For a long time I haven't slept through the night due to breathing problems, (snoring) and back pain. Last night, I only woke up once or twice and my back didn't really hurt enough to have to get up and walk around like I usually do. Plus my mouth wasn't really dry so maybe I wasn't snoring.

OK, today, I feel pretty good, I took another picture... I thought I looked better today when I looked in the mirror, but - the camera doesn't lie. Maybe I'm just a lousy photographer... yeah thats it! Anyway here it is, and I can only hope there is some progress tomorrow....

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Who Am I?

Oprah asked that question yesterday on her show. Ironically yesterday was the day that Dave and I had chosen to be the last day of our old lives (what ever those were) and today is the start of everything new. We started an eating plan based on Dr. Perricone’s latest book (not a diet) that promises to improve not only our looks but our health both physical and mental. Yesterday was also the day we found out that the people we thought were going to buy our house, are not going to buy our house. It was also Halloween, and sadly probably the last Trick or Treating Halloween for the kids. They started out with a pack of kids, and then either the other kids parents wouldn’t let them go, or some just didn’t want to go. So Tessie and Bear, a pink teenage bunny, and an insane punk clown, trudged woefully home on a relatively warm October evening, and resigned themselves to answering the door and handing out candy. Even sadder, we only had about 5 groups come by. The mall has taken over.

So, yesterday, as I prepared our healthy meals for today, I watched Oprah’s show about why people let themselves go. Again, pretty timely for me. So who am I? This new eating plan, like others, suggests that you take a “before” picture and then take another one after 28 days. OK. So after taking the before picture, one of my answers to the question is: I am absolutely the ugliest woman on the planet. Hopefully this will change. I realize that is not an answer in the spirit of the question, but it does have a bearing on my psyche.

Physicality aside, I honestly do have a pretty positive view of who I am. The person, the soul, that exists here and now and has a purpose. So what is that? Lets review:

I am an encourager. I get real pleasure out of seeing those I love excell at something they love. I even get a kick out of them doing something I suggested, and then thinking it was their idea.
I am an entertainer. I love to make people laugh, even if it’s at me, not with me. I love to wrap my words around an idea, and turn a situation into a metaphor – or a parable.
I am a dreamer or a planner. I’ve always got a new plan or big idea. Something to make something more efficient, or steps toward a new goal.

OK, that’s the good side, lets see what I am when no one’s looking, so to speak, since they say that’s what you really are:

I’m a martyr. I always put others first, mostly because I want to, but truthfully, I am hoping for a little of the same for myself, and I admit I’m disappointed when I don’t get it.
I’m a cynic. I usually look on the bright side of everything except human nature. I tend to mistrust people who want to do something for me, especially if I don’t know them. Exactly opposite of what I hope others feel about me.
I’m a quitter. A start over-er. A runner away. If something gets to familiar, or to uncomfortable, most of my mind activity is focused on how to get away, or get out of or stop or change that something. Relationships, jobs, towns. Sometimes this tendency can be used for good, but mostly I feel like it’s my dark side.

OK, six answers. Three positive, three not so positive. All six absolutely honest. So, where do I go from here? That’s not all I am – or is it? Will it change daily?

Monday, October 17, 2005

Generosity of spirit

The power of intention.  It’s a book I read, and have since passed along to my sister.  It’s about the kind of thing we both believe in and tend to encourage each other on when we talk.  It isn’t something I take for granted.

The power of the sisterhood of women.  It’s a strength I believe in and it has been passed on to me and my sisters by my mother and her mother.  It’s the kind of thing we tend to take for granted until we need it.  It is NOT something to take for granted.

I intend to do a lot of things.  I just don’t follow through.  But my sisterhood believes in me and encourages me and supports me even when I do not, I will not ask for help.  This is something I CANNOT take for granted.

Saturday, October 8, 2005

What to do, What to do?

OK, its been a week since I’ve posted. This, after a week of dutiful daily posting – just like I promised myself…

It’s been a little weird here in my life, and being the ‘always-up’ ‘glass-half-full’ type of chick that I am, I haven’t really wanted to admit that things were weird, and for that matter that weird might be an understatement.

Back on Thursday, I felt like I had all the energy in the world. I had meetings, and house showings, and check marks on every one of the 17 items on my Prioritized Daily Task List. Then things started to slip. Really, for no reason since I did a TV news interview from our house for sale, and that same day I’d gotten a sign call on that same house from a lady who drove by every day coveting that same house. We’d also gotten a call from one of my co-workers who had been showing our house to a couple who she thought might write an offer. And I got a great positive voice mail from my 23-year-old-brooding-literary-son. You’d think this would only spur on my energy and brighten my heretofore mediocre outlook, but nooooooo.

Could it be the growing negative balance in the checkbook? Probably. Could it be the endless showings of houses to people who are really never going to buy one? Likely. Could it be that I’m just pretending to be a Realtor and just the thought of attending a sales meeting or sometimes just going into the office scares the bejeezers out of me? Yup. Could it be the fact that I know the stuff that Downtown Dad and I have discussed is true and there isn’t a damn thing we can do about it? Pretty much. Muscle and joint pain when I wake several times a night? Partially. Fatigue caused by waking several times a night? Yes. The fact that I can’t get my shit together enough to even walk for 15 minutes a day? Oh yeah. Could it be that feeling of worthlessness that comes from expending energy toward something almost daily and not making any money from it? Totally!

It’s depression isn’t it? Trouble is, when I took an anti-depressives a few years ago, it didn’t do anything but make me lose interest in sex. It’s hormones isn’t it? But am I doomed to a life of ingesting horse urine to feel like a more productive contributing member of society? God, I hope not.

I need to get a real job – but the trouble with that is that I have a possible stream of income coming that I would be foolish to turn down. Part-time real job then. Yeah right, part time = part intelligence with most employers. I’m not sure what to do.

Friday, October 7, 2005


Call me.

It doesn’t matter when, and if I answer the phone, if I know you, I will greet you with a cheery ‘Oh HI!’ like it’s 2:30 on a Sunday afternoon and you are my best friend in the whole wide world and I was expecting your call just now.

Even if its 5 a.m., or if I’m right in the middle of some business deal, or a TV show, or even if I am really not all that cheery. It’s a sickness, an addiction of sorts really. Pollyannaitis. The need to make others feel good – even if I don’t.

I even feel guilty if I am less than perky when people say hi to me. I can be on the verge of tears and if someone says ‘good morning’ I instinctively put on a smile and a happy voice to return their greeting. This feels fakey to me, yet I would not want to invite someone’s concern if I acted any differently than I usually do.

If you are my friend, I would hope that you would call me if you were feeling down and needed to talk. But will I burden you with that? Nosirree! Is this learned behavior? Is this a genetic trait? Mental illness? Can this be cured? Do I want to be cured?

On second thought, don’t call me. Email me.

Thursday, October 6, 2005


If this experiment is to be of any use, I really need to stick with it, through good times and bad. Especially the bad, since bad times are the times when I get all my ideas. Dark, unacceptable, ugly, unproductive ideas. Things that if people read them would make them think less of me. Things I need to explore, and archive. Things that will be of use to me later to write things that are publicly acceptable, bright and accomplish something.

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Be Careful What You Ask For...

Our house still hasn't sold. If only we could line up all the people in town and walk them through, pointing out all of its fabulous features.....

Because of Downtown Dad’s high profile position, he tends to know many reporters. He happened to be talking to one the other day and mentioned that we have a house for sale and even though we keep dropping the price, it is not selling. When the reporter asked ‘who’s your Realtor’ and he answered ‘my wife,’ viola – a story was born. So yesterday, while I was home catching up on my moldy laundry with my new dryer, the TV reporter called asking if I’d be interested in being interviewed since I am in the unusual position of being a Realtor with my personal home on the market. Oh, joy. This is the LAST thing I want to do, but I absolutely have to, because first and foremost, in essence it’s a 3-minute commercial for my house!

This is exactly what I hate about sales. My whole world is crashing in on me because this house has been on the market 6 months, and I have to look sincerely into a camera tomorrow morning and put a positive spin on that. I am not that good at talking out of both sides of my mouth. Herewith then, are my ramblings and propaganda jotted down mainly to psyche myself up:

Speaking as a Realtor, this is a wonderful house to have listed. It’s almost totally brand new on the inside, spacious, with a large three-room addition off the back. There is a large fully fenced, treed backyard – there is even a tree house! It is in a very desirable neighborhood, and based on comparable sales, it is priced quite reasonably. Right now, the price is very close to the appraised/assessed value of three years ago – that was before the entire kitchen was replaced, two bathrooms were remodeled, the whole interior was painted a warm bright neutral color and new flooring was installed in most of the house. They say there are three factors to consider with the sale of a home: Price, Condition, and Location. We have lowered the price; it is in perfect condition and in an excellent location. This house has it all, but it still has not sold. Even the feedback from potential buyers has been positive, which is not very helpful because there isn’t anything left I can change or do to get it sold. I look at this as a wonderful opportunity for buyers right now. The right buyer just has not walked through the door yet.

Of course, I have done all the right things for my sellers (me): open houses, marketing the home with signs, flyers, and ads in publications and on the Internet. We even have the added benefit of the Park Company Kiosk at the mall, where Park listings are displayed exclusively. Fellow Realtors who have been around longer than I have, say that historically, September has always been a slow month for home sales. They cite reasons such as; people have their kids back in school, and are getting their own heads back in to work after the lake season; the weather is cooling off; and they are just staying inside.

The rapid market we have been experiencing for the last couple of years, even up to and including this summer, has been unusual. Realtors who’ve been in the business a long time say that this is not a downturn in the housing market, but rather a return to a more normal market. There are more than 1,400 homes on the market right now as opposed to 1,200 last year at this time up nearly 15 percent. The average time on the market is somewhere between 90 and 100 days instead of 80 to 90 days last year. The inventory, or supply of houses is starting to catch up to the demand, not as much as in bigger cities, but it is starting to affect us. More sellers are putting their homes on the market, houses are selling less quickly, and prices are no longer increasing as rapidly as they were in the spring, although locally the average sales price of approximately 160,000 is up just slightly over last year.

The market is changing, so what do we do? In addition to pricing houses to align with market trends, we agents need to be creative. We need to communicate with our sellers to educate them on what is happening, so that when an offer comes in and it’s lower than expected we don’t just let them reject it. We counter back with options. We aren’t doing our buyers any favors by letting them write unreasonably low offers on a home they can’t afford, but we can work with the buyer’s lender to help negotiate a mortgage that both gets the seller a fair price, but is also within the buyer’s means.

Speaking as a homeowner with a house for sale – I am mystified. I can only reduce the price so much, so how do I attract buyers? What are they not finding in this house that they are finding in another? I have an emotional attachment to this house, so it is frustrating that it is taking so long to find a buyer. However, I am not the only one. All of the three other homes I have listed right now, in varying price ranges and locations are also experiencing this slow down with very few showings. On the bright side, I can relate when they express their frustrations – we are all in the same boat. But that still does not bring a buyer. What I do with my sellers, and my husband is that I remind them that with mortgage rates now rising, the cost of gasoline hovering near $3 a gallon and house prices in some areas of the country just plain out of reach for many families, Fargo Moorhead and the surrounding areas are still a great place to purchase a home. There are still buyers out there, Fargo Moorhead is attracting new businesses every day, and those businesses are hiring and promoting people every day. Our economy is very good. As home sellers, we just have to make sure what we are selling looks sharp, and are priced competitively. Real Estate is still a great investment. It may take a little longer than it did last year, but homes will always sell.

Ahhh.... somewhere out there, someone will watch the news and see my house and say "Look Harold, that's the house we've always wanted! Lets go buy it!"

Tuesday, October 4, 2005

More Than Just Fluff

Even though I don’t like to admit it, washers and dryers play a central role in my life. I’ve owned several through the years. Some have come included with the house purchase, some I admit, I have lovingly brought into my home after hours of deliberation over the yellow Energy Guide label and the carefully worded features brochure. It’s not as if I usually form an emotional attachment to household appliances, but with a family of four – sometimes 5, two dogs, and a pool, I sadly confess that I do some form of laundry every day. My relationship with my laundry partners is like people who become best friends after serving in a war together, a sort of a bonding through adversity. Which is why, when the dryer that came with our house developed a squeak, which turned into a squeal, which developed a clunk, and eventually evolved into a gravel grinding, smoke emitting rasp, we had to break down and buy a new one.

Given my limited financial situation, I could not afford to ponder long on the choosing of the now deceased dryers’ successor. I called around to find only the quickest delivery options on the cheapest models. Turns out, a new dryers’ delivery option, including the essential removal of the old one, is the key to dryer salesmen’s negotiations.

According to the final lucky salesman I spoke to, the choice is simple.

“…of course just because this dryer is on the low end of the price scale doesn’t mean it is not reliable. And of course, its quality is indistinguishable from those that happen to be higher priced. It’s just that those lower priced ones (which to the untrained eye look to be about the same as the higher priced ones) are so much smaller, and take so much longer to dry since the loads have to be so small. Oh, and will you be taking this home in your minivan?”

Silence ensued while I envisioned Downtown Dad and me lugging, hoisting, and heaving this new “small” dryer down the stairs and around the corner into the basement laundry room, and then dragging, pulling and hauling out the old one. Obviously lacking the muscle tone necessary for dryer delivery and removal, I was easy prey for the imminent up sell.

“… over here, for just a few dollars more, is the large capacity model. Would you like us to take away the old dryer when we deliver this one to your home tomorrow?”

True to his word, the dryer salesman dispatched two burley men to deliver my sparkling new dryer and gently maneuver it into place beside the steadfast if not lackluster washer. Then, with all the sensitivity of a highway worker scraping up road-kill, they carted off the old one and drove away, leaving me and the old washer and the mountainous pile of damp, smoky, mildew-y smelling clothes plenty of time to bond with the new guy.

Monday, October 3, 2005

Dear Diary...

It occurs to me that other "bloggers" post their writings daily - no matter what it is they have to say. When I don't post for a day or two it isn't that I don't have anything to say, I just have apparently succumbed to performance anxiety. Knowing that people I know, and don't know are reading this doesn't necessarily make me nervous, it just makes it seem very important to only post 'good' stuff. 'Good' being entirely subjective.

So, having disclaimed, and rationalized I am now going to have a goal of posting something every day. No matter how inane, or boring, or pointless or unentertaining or (yikes) revealing.

My last post was September 30 when I was 'home alone' with the kids and a cold. Prior to that, I posted what I thought was a pretty good run at a thought provoking piece. Anonymous, however, thought differently. Sadly, I must give this anonymous person a bit of credit, because from that comment I came up with an idea for a really cool story!

In the days between that post and the one about the creepy Rose flavored vodka, I did some deep soul searching when faced with an opportunity to be a guinnea pig for the sake of pharmaceutical advancement for a really large sum of money. About as close as I'll ever come to an "Indecent Proposal," and it caused almost as much turmoil in my life. I decided against the three week study when I learned it would be with a drug not yet approved by the FDA. There is way more to this topic I want to say so maybe I'll do a post on it at a later date.

So there. I've caught you up on all the haps in my life... well sort of...

Friday, September 30, 2005

Stream of UN-consciousness

Wow, there's a totally original title. But, that's what cold pills do to your brain.

Started getting that cold-coming-on feeling yesterday. Accidentally took two pills, when the dosage was one. Drove home. Made it. Fell asleep. Had to take kids to Cats.

Next day. Downtown Dad had to drive to Siouxtown for a college reunion, he'll be gone overnight. It's Friday, can sleep uninterrupted.... Oh yeah, I'm a Realtor. Wedding of the daughter of a friend at 5. Back home, another cold pill. 8:44 bed time.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Secret to Being a Cheerleader

The other day, while talking Downtown Dad through an episode of the doldrums, I found myself wishing I had not had such an aversion to cheerleaders in high school. Their too-bright smiles and polished perkiness now seemed important tools to me as I struggled to hold my level of emotional turmoil at bay while his washed over me like a level 5 hurricane. Surely, I thought, there was some secret technique for outward joy that cheerleaders learned along with those sharp and snappy synchronized motions. Even their spontaneous ability to chirp out something clever that rhymed was looking really useful to me just then. I wished at that moment that I had at least attended the cheerleading tryouts, if only for the scraps of skills I might have picked up.

Later, I kissed my beleaguered hubby goodbye as he trudged off to work, and waved enthusiastically from the door while pumping my fist in the air in what I hoped looked like a rah-rah gesture. It occurred to me that I could find help if perhaps there were some outlines of cheerleading skills on the Internet somewhere! Turns out there are, but these so-called skills are purely physical. As if I hadn’t already suspected, cheerleading is not a noble pursuit, entered into by a rare few spiritually endowed with abundant cheer. No, cheerleading is a sport! Cheerleaders don’t care about the game or sport or even the players they are cheering on. These girls and boys are focused solely on their performance, for which they win trophies – whether or not the team they were “cheering” won or lost. This revelation affirmed my original aversions, but did not help me in my quest for outward optimism while suffering from inward gloom.

OK, so cheerleading wasn’t the right word, maybe motivational speaker was more what I was looking for. Surely being the daughter and granddaughter of Southern Evangelical Baptist Ministers I had inherited a bit of the old balderdash gene. So that evening, in round two, I shifted my inner mental picture of me with pom-poms and a short skirt, to me in front of a congregation, fanning themselves, while occasionally nodding and murmuring amen. After a few half-hearted attempts at long dramatic pauses, crashing my fist into my palm, and ending-ah my words-ah with emphasis-ah, I had to scrap that notion too.

Just then, it dawned on me, that after 18 years of marriage, Downtown Dad and I have weathered a few storms together. Each one difficult and emotionally draining in its own way, but each one dealt with individually and from the soul, not with a ready-made bag of tricks. As it turns out, you don’t need any of those snappy jumps and kicks or that old time voice modulation-ah. To quote from the gospel of John, Paul, George, and Ringo – All you need is love.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Just thought you should know....

I have just had the very unfortunate experience of tasting Shakers' Rose Vodka. I'm not sure why that was even a "keeper" in their brainstorming session, but let me just tell you, if you can't already figure it out, PHYYUUUYKKK!

Their propaganda says different: "It is the most romantic vodka around, SHAKERS Rose, winner of the Best in Show award for flavored vodka at the 2004 World Spirits Competition and one of The Spirit Journal's top 50 spirits in the world." Yeah right.

First of all, it reminds me of old wrinkley powdered ladies with gloves and cracked tea cups. Not something that would necessarily sell drinking vodka, or tea for that matter. It has that overly perfumey roselike scent, (remember Liddle Kiddles from the 70s?) which in itself is unnerving coming from a martini glass. I'm not sure about the general population but I've never actually eaten a rose, consequently I can't objectively comment on the taste being rose-like or un-rose-like. What I can say is that you should never ever try this Vodka, no matter how pretty it looks.

I'm switchin' to Whiskey!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Luck be a Lady - who wants to buy my house!

A few weeks back, I read in my horoscope that September 17th would be the absolute luckiest day of the year for me. Add to that, the fact that there would be a full moon that night, which would magnify the whole effect.

As I read this revelation, I briefly pondered what would I need Luck in? Since I don't gamble, or fish, or even jaywalk that often, I’ve never really asked Luck for much. In fact, I usually consider getting lucky as an outcome of unexpected sex or at least as the end result of applying yourself or your skills effectively, rather than as a result of any cosmic occurrence of fortune. That’s why, as fortuitous as this prophecy was, it soon faded from my thoughts. Until, of course, the evening of September 17.

We hadn't done anything out of the ordinary that day, in fact, we'd done just about nothing. As evening drew near, Tessie decided to attend a college football game with a girlfriend and then spend the night at her house. Bear then, had the splendid idea of whiling away the rest of the evening at Barnes and Noble. While we were there, I happened upon that same horoscope magazine which reminded me that I was at this very moment experiencing the absolute luckiest day of my entire year. I felt like Garrison Keillor when my first thought was “well then, this is a pretty good day.” It was at that moment I got a phone call on my cell from a woman who wanted to see the-house-that-Downtown-Dad-and-I-are-still-trying-to-sell! Wheeeee! This must be the absolute luckiest day of the year for me! I made an appointment with her for the next day.

As we drove home from our favorite bookstore secure in the knowledge we had a very interested looker, Downtown Dad, Bear and I smiled at the full moon above and I swear it smiled back.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Friday the 16th

Sorry I haven't posted in a few days... I've been - well, too happy. As weird as it sounds, it makes sense to me - writers, being tortured, depressed, rather mopey beings; I can see why when things aren't going in the "Franklin-Covey-perfectly-planned-way" I envision, I, in my ever-glass-half-full kind of way, look cockeyed at the situation and share it so that others can laugh. It is not as easy to make people laugh when you are contented.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Beach

We walk to the beach
With Grandma.
We always do.
On sparkly mornings, we pack a lunch with cherries and angel cake
And jam our beach bags with our bits and pieces.

Caitlyn, who is three, brings a pineapple jar with curves on the side,
A sky blue pot,
A pink rake,
And a red and yellow broom with a broken handle.

I take a turtle sand mold, and a screwdriver to make holes,
A Jell-O dome,
And an old purple bucket that the dog chewed
But still has Maddie in faded gold letters on the side.

Being practical, Carter brings a sandcastle mold
And a strainer to strain all the sand, a pooper scooper,
Three bottles of sun screen SPF 50, 50 and 30,
And three shovels, two are yellow and one is green.

We all go into go in the water,
But not Grandma.
Grandma is the look out for dogs and rip tides.
She uses the broom to sweep sand from our towels

We are going to build the sand castle with wet sand.
We are going to hope it will stay and not break.
We know it will fall over, because we always build it too close to the water.
It always does.
We always do.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

...it's a shame they can't afford it...

Sometimes an opportunity presents itself, to deliver a great comeback line that is both well placed and well deserved, and if you're lucky, you have an appreciative audience.

On Monday, I got two voice mails on my cell phone, 10 minutes after we arrived home from vacation. The Realtor that left the first message said that she had some very serious buyers and she would like to show the-house-that-Downtown-Dad-and-I-are-STILL-trying-to-sell the next day. This bit of news sent us into joyous fits of joyous joy jigging. The second message was from a Realtor widely known as a Sleazy-Ass-Bitch (SAB), who informed me that she had faxed me an offer on the same house. Downtown Dad's response to this news was to start on another round of the joyous joy jig. When I didn't join him he stopped mid jig, hands still in the air, his head tilted quizically. I had to break the news to him that sadly, after 6 months on the market, unfortunately the first offer had come from a Sleazy-Ass-Bitch who had very likely faxed us a low offer. I added brightly, as I picked his chin up off of the ground, that the fact that someone was showing it the next day might work out as a bargaining tool for us.

After hastily offloading the vacation schmutz from the car and after an emergency pool-filter twig-ectomy, we were relatively settled. This re-entry ritual accomplished, neither one of us could stand the suspense and we jumped into the car to go see what the first person in 6 months was willing to pay for our house! On the way, I did try to prepare Downtown Dad for the worst. He feigned nonchalance, but I knew he was wound up.

Even though there was no one else in the office when we got there, we sidled up to the fax machine, as if it were someone to whom we were about to deliver a pick up line. I rifled through the stack and sure enough, there was a fax directed to me from the aforementioned SAB. I flipped through the pages until I found the one I was loooking for. The page with the price they expected us to accept, which I read out loud, 30 thousand t-h-i-r-t-y-t-h-o-u-s-a-n-d UNDER our asking price! Luckily, no one else was in the office, because as I'd invisioned, Downtown Dad's head blew off. Once I had taped his head back on, and mitigated the steam billowing from his ears, I gathered my forms and shuttled him as quietly as possible back to the car, reminding him that we did have a showing the next day.

The next morning I called the SAB and politely thanked her for the offer. Hoping to apply some pressure, I also told her that we were expecting an additional offer in the early afternoon, as soon as the house was shown. I assured her that I'd present both offers at the same time. She quickly asked if her buyers would have the right to ammend their offer. Hell yes, you sleazy ass bitch! Unfortunately for me, the other showing did not culminate in an offer, so I was left holding the cheese - as it were. I called the SAB and told her that the offer did not come in as I had thought, so she was free to ammend her offer, or would she like to be kicked in the teeth with my counter offer? She opted for the kick in the teeth which was, I told her sweetly, our lowest and best and, I added, we would not play the bargaining game.

Late that same evening, safely assuming that I'd turned off my cell phone, the SAB left me another voicemail saying that she'd faxed me her buyers' counter offer. Counter Offer? OK. What part of Lowest and Best didn't she understand? After I got my kids off to school that morning, and Downtown Dad off to work using the last of my tape to hold his head on. I added the crucial chemicals to the pool, and dutifully brushed up the undesolved excess. I fed and watered the dogs and the birds and showered and dressed myself. Returned phone calls, emails, blog posts and what ever else I could find to do untill there was virtually nothing left. I was forced to go to the office and look at the fax from the SAB.

It came as no real surprise that her "rediculous counter offer" was a barely more than the initial rediculous offer. A derisive laugh escaped me as I flung the fax into the air, which caught the attention of the other Realtors near my desk.

"Sleasy-Ass-Bitch." was all I needed to say. This prompted a flurry of tales of woe from everyone around me as to their own ill-fated dealings with this woman. Bouyed by their cameraderie, and a river of self riteous indignation, I picked up the phone and dialed the SAB's office, with 6 pairs of eyes and ears on me.

"I received the fax with your counter offer," I said smoothly, not bothering to identify myself. And then I paused a very long pause, waiting for the SAB to perhaps explain her motives.

"Yes, well, these kids are very flexible and they are pre approved." She said.

"Thats just great," I said, "You know, it's obvious these kids would really like to live in this house....."

"Yes, and they are willing to finish all those little unfinished projects....."

"Like I said, it's obvious they'd like to live there, but, it's a shame they can't afford it."


6 pairs of eyes popped out of their sockets.

"Oh, do you mean you're rejecting our offer?"

Uh, duh, you sleazy ass bitch. "Well, better luck next time, Bye."

I didn't sell my house, but I was a hero for at least five minutes.

Thursday, September 8, 2005

Why don't (t)he(y) write?

In the movie, Dances With Wolves, where John Dunbar has found an old skeleton on the prairie, the late Robert Pastorelli as Timmons says: "I'll bet someone back east is going, 'Now why don't he write?'"

Last night, as I fed my new addiction, reading 'just one more blog...' I opened my own page to check my hit counter. I watched in utter amazement as the digits inched toward 200 hits right there before my eyes! Just as amazing was the other counter which tells me how many, if any, people are visiting my site at that moment. There were 9! Nine people were reading my Blog! Wheeee! I wanted to know who they were. I wanted to hear their reaction to my posts. I wanted to invite them over for wine and cheese. I sat back and waited for the email notification telling me that someone had left me a comment. And I waited. And waited. And waited. Nothing.

Intellectually, I know from reading other peoples blogs, and their comments, that the percentage of responders is really low in relation to readers. For whatever reason, I don't respond to every post I read either. Emotionally though, in a maternal way toward my new baby blog, just starting to gather readers, I felt ignored, a little like the people back east, waiting for a letter from a skeleton on the prairie.

Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Bush is Toast

This will not be deep, nor will it even be too insightful, it might even be venomous, but I can no longer shelve the need to put my feelings about the Gulf Coast tragedy into words. Even though I am geographically far removed, some of my dearest, closest friends live in that region. Some have suffered the ravages of the storm; some have borne the burden of housing and providing for the refugees. This is an American human tragedy, the response to which, defies comprehension. The sheer magnitude of natural force that created this, the tragic wreckage the storm left in its wake and the human devastation both physical and psychological is almost more that I can even fathom. But, as if that wasn’t enough, the keystone cop-ish federal response is absolutely gut wrenching. Having read many rants, essays and transcripts over the last week, I do feel a little better about coming out of the closet – as it were – about my anger toward Bush. I feel like by posting this I’m furthering the “Emperor Has No Clothes” scenario, but I’m jumping on the bandwagon anyway.

In my growing distrust of the Im-POTUS, as I’ve come to call Bush Jr., I admit that I’ve wished for someone or something to come along with the right combination of words or ideas that would show him up (and shut him up). I imagined some giant Godzilla-like monster would arise from the depths of the sea and personally show George Bush what it’s like to be ‘overthrown.’ In my imagination, the monster was green and scaly; I never honestly thought it would be a very real hurricane.

Yes, I’m a liberal – some call me an old hippie. I was born during the Eisenhower administration, formed some important views during the Kennedy years, scratched my head, and kept my mouth shut during my parent’s Nixon halcyon days, voted for Carter since it would most piss off my parents, and then in an abrupt about face, voted Reagan twice. I sat out the next few years, and then was charmed by Clinton, again twice. I’ve wondered in the last few days, if a natural disaster of this magnitude had struck during the Clinton years, if we might not have seen him and Hilary in amongst the people, handing out water, toilet paper, and hugs. Not even in a second rate monster movie would you find the Bushes stooping to that.

Why? Why didn’t the leader of our country cut his vacation short once news of the impending disaster overtook the airwaves?

Why? Why didn’t he mobilize the undeployed National Guard units still in the contiguous United States?

Why? Why did it take him 5 days to do a cursory flyby to declare this a national disaster?

Bill Clinton may have had a mistress, but George Bush was screwed by Katrina, and damned if I don’t think he should have to be grilled just as hard as Clinton was.

First Day of School

Bearly and Tessie in their annual "First Day of School Pose"

Friday, September 2, 2005

Can't We All Just Get Along?

This past spring, my son Bear’s best friend, Bill, invited him to a concert. Bear asked his father and I if he could go, and naturally, we asked him who was performing, and how much he needed for the tickets. He couldn’t name the band – Josh Mcsomebody he thought, but he wouldn’t need any money since Bill’s church gave his family the tickets. Downtown Dad and I exchanged raised eyebrows. I told Bear it might be OK, but I would still like to know who the artist was. Turning to my trusty Internet, I Googled “josh christian concert.” I found a link to the "Bold Truth Tour.” Their tour schedule included a stop in our town, so I looked a little deeper, clicking on the video clips of past events. The clips I saw were nothing short of an infomercial, selling Mr. McDowell’s all-about-me ‘church-o-matic.’ (Isn’t there some sort of sin about having too much pride, and what does pride goeth before again?) From what I could tell, McDowell was using multilevel marketing techniques in his rallies to net teen and even preteen followers from concertgoers. Apparently, attendees are asked to fill out an information card that then is turned over to local churches who use them for follow-up contacts. But wait! There’s more! Each person who makes a decision for Christ will get a personalized letter, a phone call or an e-mail contact after the event with an invitation to join a local church youth group! Unbelievable.

Until last year, Bill was home-schooled by his mom Hilda. Home-schoolers, not all, but those in my experience, tend to be a little, how shall I say this… fundamentally religious, bent on selling their flavor of belief to everyone, inflexible, paranoid, intolerant, and condescending, even un-friendly to non-church-going-yet-open-minded-to-others’-beliefs-people, like me. Hilda is no exception, but I digress. I called Hilda to confirm my suspicions. I told her about my web findings and that from what I had seen I was unwilling to let my 10-year-old son be subjected to that kind of predatory marketing pressure, especially since we are not ‘practicing’ Christians. She, of course, was taken aback at both my confession and reaction. I assured her that while we didn’t subscribe to any one organized religious belief, we certainly did not ritually sacrifice goats, nor dance naked around a fire, although we heartily supported anyone’s choice to do so or not do so. I explained that we were just uncomfortable exposing our 10-year-old son to what we thought would be extreme psychological peer pressure by a group of people trying to recruit him into a society that he does not understand yet. Needless to say, the conversation deteriorated from there, with her asking questions about my religious upbringing and what horrible traumatic incident could have led me to this state of mind. Being good Midwestern women, I declined her generous invitation and we remained polite to the end of the conversation. We literally did not speak again until this week. Despite phone calls to Bill from Bear over the summer months, somehow they also lost contact.

Bear ran into Bill at Back-To-School-Night this week, and in that innocent joyful way that children have, hooked up again as if there had been no 3-month lapse. Hilda and I chatted amiably as we passed in our room-to-room meet your teacher ritual. I frankly had forgotten the whole concert episode. As we were leaving, Bear asked if Bill could spend the night, I agreed. Hilda however, hesitated, and while she thought it would be OK, said that she would first have to ask her husband. It was then that I recalled our uncomfortable last conversation.
Later, after all permissions were granted, when Hilda dropped Bill off for the night, we chatted some more about what we did over the summer. I mentioned that my daughter Tessie was in a local month long musical theatre-based arts program, the teachers of which were amazingly talented singers, dancers, and actors. I added that I felt she was very lucky to have received mentoring from these amazing college-bound teenagers. Hilda’s lips began to purse and she said that while she would like Bill to be involved in a summer educational program like that, she really had serious doubts as to how it would affect him. I must have had a puzzled look on my face because she further explained that it was her belief that any male involved in theatre or dance was gay, and she did not want her Bill to be exposed to any of that. My puzzled look slid icily into a mouth-only smile, which I freeze-dried to my face, all the while trying to keep the banshee of indignation from shrieking out of my mouth and down her throat. I said, “Oh really, and why is that?”

“Because” she simpered, “as you well know, homosexuality is an abomination, it’s not natural, they weren’t born that way. Something must have happened to them, around Bear and Bill’s age, someone made them that way. I don’t want that to happen to Bill.”

The banshee banged dangerously against my clenched teeth. “Oh, you mean like selling their lifestyle to impressionable young kids like your precious Josh McDowell does? Why, I bet they ask cute little boys to fill out an information card which then is turned over to local gay organizations who use them for follow-up contacts!” “Say it!” screamed the banshee! “Say it!” “But wait! There’s more! Each young child who makes a decision to be Gay, (because after all, it is a choice) will get a letter, a phone call or an e-mail contact with a lewd invitation, right?!” “SAY IT!” I swallowed the banshee – temporarily.

“Gosh, Hilda, I’m not sure what to say,” I finally managed to say. “We’ve just always had gay friends, some who’ve been in monogamous relationships longer than we’ve been married. My kids don’t really think anything about it, and as far as role models go, isn’t what our kids see pretty much filtered through our attitudes as parents?”

“Oh,” she said in a pervasively polite way, “you don’t see it that way I suppose.”

I smiled my freeze-dried smile, and said something bland about examining my own intolerances before I threw stones at others… but I couldn’t really hear it over the banshee.

Monday, August 29, 2005

I'm Gonna Take a Dip in the Ceeement Pond

I am lucky enough to show houses for a living. I am lucky in that while doing this, I get to know people from all walks of life by listening to their stories and we usually become friends in the process. At closing I usually give my new friends a small gift to thank them for doing business with me based on something I’ve learned about them. Last year I helped a young couple purchase a monster of a house courtesy of Microsoft’s obscenely high salaries. I helped another couple purchase an ancient farm house with 11 acres and a barn they couldn’t wait to paint red. A young man wisely invested his inheritance in a home with room for his pool table, and a single mom bought her first home with the solid wood floors she’d always dreamed of.

Last week I spent the day showing rural houses to a couple whose price range tops out at $40,000 – if they can find a family member who will co-sign. Nelly and Norman are in their 50s. They currently live in a trailer court where they and the other residents are being bullied out so the owner can clear the land and build condos. Norman is a Native American Viet Nam vet on disability. Nelly is a short, round diabetic with a mother complex and has not only adopted all of the animals in the trailer park, but also the various disabled and otherwise affected residents. Nelly adores Norman; it says so on her cell phone screen. Norman is tall, with a shambling gait, has few teeth, and tends to mutter with his deep low voice. They are, without much imagination at all, Maw and Paw Rugg of the 1965 Hillbilly Bears cartoon.

When we go on our tour of homes, it’s usually for most of the day. Maw Nelly sits in front and navigates, equipped with her travel mug and a steel thermos of black coffee, the screw-off cup of which she gives to Norman, who sits in the back. I have learned more than I need to know about the cast of characters who populate their trailer court from Nelly’s tales of woeful abuse, punctuated occasionally by Paw Norman’s wheezy laugh.

Sometimes Paw will be inspired to string together a few words, such as when a house is just too ridiculously small. He will continue to comment on the fatal flaw, his garbled comments apparently directed to the back of the seat or out the window, not requiring any response from me. But after a while he’ll return to his silence interrupted only by that raspy chuckle and an unintelligible word or two.

Somehow, a memory sparked in Norman and he began an epicurean expose’ worthy of the food channel. Since I did not have a schedule of Paw Norman’s train of thought, his sudden departure took me by surprise. I thought he was still commenting on the last house we’d been in and I had been nodding blankly into the rear view mirror for quite a while before I realized the subject of his impassioned account.

“…Better’n dat stuff from t’ grocery…. Harrup! Yup, could eat it all day,” Paw chortled. “Not too hard, y’ know? Heeeweeeweee!” He muttered to his coffee cup. “But not too soft neither!” he declared, directly to my eyes in the rear view mirror.


“Tasty too, Mmmm mmmm. Harrup! Kinda smooth-like, ya smooooooth. Mmm mmm.”

“What is?’

“You ain’t never had none? Ohhhh its gooooood. Heeweewee!”

“Had what?”

“Dat gummintchee! Harrupp! Heeeweewee!”

“I beg your pardon?” I snapped, thinking for some reason he was cussing at me.

“Gummintcheese!” he carefully said leaning forward.

He was talking about Government Cheese. That unearthly orange brick of surplus pasteurized “cheese-product” doled out to welfare recipients. No I hadn’t ever had any, preferring instead its overpriced substitute, Velveeta.

“Oh” I bit my lip and tried hard to think of something nice to say about Government Cheese, but Nelly stepped in to save me from lying.

“We’re just about done looking for today Paw, when we get home I’ll make up some grilled cheese sandwiches.”

“Harrup! Harrup! Mmmm mmmm.” He mumbled happily. “Smoooooth.”

A smile crept over me as I drove silently on, planning how I would score a couple boxes of Government Cheese for their closing gift.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Why I Am Up at 4a.m. Writing

For me, writing is an eternal and mostly nocturnal thing. I read somewhere that you should write what keeps you up at night. That’s what I’m trying to do right now, but it’s an elusive thing, like trying to remember a dream. The harder you try to give substance to those wispy thoughts, the less substantial they become.

Writing, contrary to what I may have thought in the past, is not organized nor is it scholarly, or even pretty. There are a whole herd of disorganized, irrational, unattractive thoughts bouncing around in my head trying all at once to get onto the paper and yet, in a way, stubbornly refusing to be captured. Once something is written – saved, put ‘out there,’ published, it may look to the reader as though it is organized and scholarly - in fact I suppose that is the whole intent. But how it gets there, the harvesting, shaping, rummaging around, rearranging, the whole feeling of giving birth to something that wasn’t there before, that’s the thing. That is why I pour words onto a page. It’s not the finished product so much, it’s the process. Sure, there are some moments when a complimentary or thought-provoking comment on something I’ve written does tend to make the stiff back and sleepy midmorning slumps disappear. But this is personal, private – it is the fulfillment of a need, it is the exercise, the act of learning myself what it is I need to say, it is the way I connect.

I write because there’s something fundamental about me that only comes to life when I’m writing. It isn’t about becoming a fabulous published author, the fame and fortune. It is something that is just essential about me, a need to tell stories, to run an idea through the mill of my imagination and put it out there for others to share. Spoken words are so fleeting. Written words stay. I want to keep arranging words, choosing just the right one for maximum impact. I know I am in my “zone” I know what I’m supposed to be doing when I am writing.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Floccinaucinihilipilification : The act or habit of esteeming or describing something as worthless, or making something to be worthless by said means. The OED dates its first use in literature at 1741 in William Shenstone's Works in Prose and Verse: "I loved him for nothing so much as his flocci-nauci-nihili-pili-fication of money".

Edit: 8/29/05
I took out two links one to Quizilla and the other to some birthday site. They were causing pop ups when you'd visit this site. Yuk - I hate pop ups.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

My Token Whine Post

My McAfee Spam filter is an overachiever. More than that, it is arrogant. I explain to it several times who my friends are, but to no avail. It blocks messages wily nily and keeps them hidden in a file I can never remember how to get to. This distresses me because people have responded to this blog and I can only see that email may or may not have been received from them. Most times I can't read what they've written. I'm usually a really good responder, and my whole reputation is going down the tubes because of this uneccessary protection. Tonight, when it is sleeping, I'm going to uninstall it....

I listed a house that is VERY RURAL - the owner suggested the perfect buyer would be the manager of a nearby 'gentlemens club' to provide 'boarding' for the 'ladies' who are bussed in three days a week. This is actually a very good idea. I need to set up a meeting with this 'gentleman.'

My youngest son has recently joined a youth football league. After Downtown Dave took him to get the big things - pads, uniform, helmet - it has been my uncomfortable duty to take my son to pick up what they forgot... such as 'practice jersey' and 'nut cup.' We drove home with my youngest son grinning at neighboring cars with the 'nut cup' hanging from his nose.

My only daughter is buying school clothes- 'nuff said.

Above mentioned daughter is taking drill team and dance classes to perform at above mentioned son's games wearing things barely larger than above mentioned nut cup and practice jersey.

We must see that our plumber finishes the bathroom renovations and we must finish the new deck on the old house we have for sale that is costing us beaucoups bucks every month.

I'm annoying my friends with my shamless plugs of this blog.

I spend way too much time writing this blog, yet, everyone I know and care about says you should be a writer, so if I'm a writer and I'm writing, how can I be spending too much time?

My beater van is embarassing and uncomfortable to drive but we owe more on it that it's worth.
I hate fashion and trends. Each day, what I put on and what I say is hopelessly out of date. Each day I struggle with the comfort of clinging to my ways and the righteousness of sticking to my ideals. Each day I venture forth into the world defending my choices. And damn it, every day I wonder if it wouldn't just be easier to knuckle under and go with the flow. Each day I chose to be myself, but I go to bed wondering if tomorrow is the day I give up the fight and become mundane.

I miss my old friends.

I really enjoy the friends I have here, but feel judged and inadequate in a societal and fashion kind of way.

I hate whining.

Monday, August 22, 2005

"My blood runs cold, my memory has just been sold"

No, unlike the J. Geils Band, I'm not talking about a centerfold, though to me it's just as sensual. And I am talking about approximately the same era, the early to mid 70's. My high school years.

Despite the turbulence of the times, I must admit I hold an incredibly large soft spot for that era. I can't speak for the rest of the country, but in Goleta, California we had some hippies then. In fact my high school, Dos Pueblos, was dubbed 'Hippy High.' No doubt by rival preppies who envied our demographic. There was a local Vietnam era protest that made some news in my neck of the woods where some 'damn hippies' burned down a bank. To put things in perspective, kids in high school, and university campuses across the country were trying out new ways to express their anger over America's war against Vietnam. Hippies back then were new, and scary to some, and wrong to some, and totally what I wanted to be.

Along about that same time were the Tate-LaBianca murders, and the Beatles came out with their White Album which threw my midwestern bred parents into a tizzy about the societal influences on their daughter. What the hell was this world coming to anyway? Kids protesting the war, those disrespectful protest songs, those fool draft dodgers wearing army jackets, and those God-awful bell-bottomed dungarees! (just for the record I ALWAYS called them jeans - never the D word). The times, they were a-changin!

Despite the fact (or maybe because of it) that my parents were Nixon Republicans, I felt a close affinity for those protesters. The barefoot and besandaled children of the earth whose clothes were Beatles-drug-induced-pilgramage-to-the-dali-lama inspired. It wasn't fashion then, it was truly second hand store cast offs. Stuff your mom made, or you made yourself, or stuff you wore till it fell apart, then you patched it and wore it some more. The avocado greens, the burnt oranges and browns. The little glints of shiny beadwork and the lucious texture of crochet and macrame. Ah, the memories....

But wait, it's 2005 and I'm shopping for school clothes with my teenage daughter at The Mega Mall. What's this I see? Drndl skirts? Peasant tops? Gauzy hues of avocado and brown? I checked the name of the store, thinking we had wandered into an offbeat import store by happy happenstance, but then realized we hadn't. This was just another shiny logoed franchise store hawking knock offs of the latest styles. After my initial teary burst of infatuation and longing, I noticed that store after store after store was offering what felt like an acid flashback! I found myself not encouraging the purchase of these etherial items as I had just moments earlier, but sadly shaking my head and feeling much the same as I did upon entering an elevator in the 80's and hearing Stairway to Heaven covered by Musak. A inner battle worthy of DaNang waged within my torutured soul. As I reached out to touch the burnt orange crocheted shawl, yarn dyed to match exactly the batik-print skirt which, in turn had ecru highlights which could easily be paired with that romantic peasant inspired blouse, I recoiled. My inner hippy screamed 'Stand firm and don't cheapen those riteous memories by buying this crap!' Ah, the Earth tones and crocheted textures with shiny sequins? Macrame? It all proved to me too magical to touch, to see them marketed this way was really just too much! Oh no I just can't deny it - Oh yeah, I guess I got to buy it!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Way Less Than Six Degrees of Separation

After building a deck at our home-which-is-still-for-sale in the hot sun for most of the day, Downtown Dave and I came home to relax with a cold beverage, read some email, and surf the web a bit. I happened to click on a link from MSN.com for some dude's weblog, which had a subsequent link to another weblog where this guy had a list of the top five most intense scenes in the movies. One of those scenes was the 'squeal like a pig' scene from Deliverance. The backstory on that is that my ex-brother-in-law is Bill McKinney. He is the guy who utters that infamous line mentioned from Deliverance. My older sister and he got married just about the time he got that part. Thinking back on how my conservative, overprotective parents tried to deflect the dinner table conversation away from my 10-year-old self as to just what that line would mean, and why he would say such a thing, is pretty humorous. Bill wasn't my brother-in-law for very long, and probably wouldn't know me from Adam (or Eve - as it were) today, but I still claim him as my ex-brother in law. Honestly, partly because it is a damn good cocktail party conversation starter, and partly because I admire him. I admire him because he seems to have a knack for getting that special quirky part and delivering his one or two lines in such a way that while you may not remember him, you do remember the character. I think he's a hell of an actor!

So anyway, as we all know, one click leads to another and I ended up on some link to Bill McKinney's filmography and from there found his webpage. I said (outloud to Downtown Dave, which turned out to be a mistake) 'Omigod, Bill McKinney has a website!' Downtown Dave, who has always gotten a weird kick out of the fact that we have way less than six degrees of separation (via Bill) to 'stardom,' clicked around and saw a link to have Bill make a live personal phone call, (oy vey) and then all the publicity shots, (yikes!) he even has a new CD. Dave clicked on all of them - commenting and hoo-hooing the whole time. I know he bought the CD, and he probably signed up for the birthday phone call - I don't know what else because after that I called him a retard-a-mundo and left the room.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

No wonder I drink!

I usually wake up at 4:30 a.m. Not because I have to generally, but because either the Big White Dog has bow-wow-wowed the paper boy off the front porch, or because I've had some vivid dream that is begging to become a blog post. Most of the time, I holler at the dog, turn over and wait for Jim Ed Poole and Dale Connelly to wake me up again after my sanctified 30 seconds of actual REM sleep. Sometimes though, I drag my lazy ass out of bed, make a pot of coffee-by-braille, tiptoe past the sleeping New Puppy and make my way down to my desk where, before I even look at my computer, I open my Franklin Planner and plan-plan-plan my perfect day.

In the dark of the new dawn, I am the perfect me. I will multitask by walking for 30 minutes and taking the dogs along. I will drink water throughout the day and shun coffee for green tea. I will clear my mind and energize my body by practicing yoga. And finally I will follow the advice of my inner perfect self to achieve all that I can. The day, like an open page, spreads itself out langouriously before me. I have eight unencumbered hours before noon even, to accomplish the menial tasks, hard chores and tedious details that have been banging around in my head from the previous night.

1. Planning I write in perfect longhand
2. Checkbook follows
3. Yoga is next
4. Write 500 words is my new goal and next task after the first three are completed and set aside.

What comes next in my to do list for the day can only be called Herculean in scope and Preposterous in feasability. This list takes uncompleted items from my unrealistic list made the day before and combines it with my unrealistic goals for the Today which seems to loom so clear and innocent before me. No problem, today I am strong and rested and invincible!

Oh yeah, some real estate client follow ups, oh and the dogs have a vet appointment, and then there is the eight-mile list of school supplies, the groceries and the odd construction accessory that needs to be purchased. The bills that need to be paid, the checkbook that needs to be balanced and the tax documents that need to be gathered. A few appointments scattered throughout the day, and oh yes, the function I'm required to attend this evening as Mrs. Downtown Dave.

By this time, The New Puppy has started her morning yodle, so I take her and The Big White Dog outside and grab that first cuppa java. Once the dogs have peed, they want to eat, and, after filling their bowls and replenishing the Cockatiels dishes, I notice that the people dishes from last night and probably yesterday's lunch are crusting on the counter. So, since I, and I alone am apparently the only one who knows the super top-secret code for opening the dishwasher, I empty that, fill it again, and start it. Now the dogs want out again, and I should check the pool filter. So we trek outside. After I've cleared the drowned bunnies, the leaves and twigs and spiders out of the pool skimmer, and the dogs have pooped, we troop inside.

Time now for another cup of Joe, and to roust the sleeping Downtown Dave. Thank goodness it's still summer vacation and I don't have to wake the kids! I take a quick glance at the obituaries, the two comics I actually read, and scan the opinion page for something scandalous, flick the finger mid-coffee slurp at Downtown Dave in the shower hollering that Theres-No-More-Hot-Water, then play a little fetch and tug with The New Puppy. I take my vitamins, drink a big glass of water and now, since most of the clutter is again cleared from the day I make my way back downstairs to my desk.

6:00! How did it get so late!? The day is starting to slip away! Ok, start the laundry and iron a shirt for Downtown Dave. Crap, I forgot to put out the recycling and those sneaky little bastards must collect at midnight because all the other bins on my street are emptied and there, lined up neatly in my garage, sit my eight paper sacks of glass, plastic and tin. Oh well, I'll schlep them to the drop off bins on my way to the vet.

Another mug of coffee and another 55 minutes are consumed before Downtown Dave is on his way and the dogs are gnawing their bones and I am able to resume my placid planning. What's next? Ah yes, balance the checkbook online... another 45 minutes gone, since that task has been "deferred" for the last 3 days. Crap it's nearly nine and I've got to get the dogs to the vet at 10. Is there time for yoga? "Make the time. Take the time." coos my inner perfect-fucking self. "Read your email. Do some writing." purrs the devil on my left shoulder. "Fold the wrinkly dry clothes, slop the molding wet stuff into the dryer, put in another load to wash, empty the dishwasher, clean up the New Puppy poop, vacuum the hairy stairs." intones the freaking perfect angel on my right shoulder. I, of course sit down at my computer to quickly check my email, and make a couple of notes for a future blog post.

9:55! SHeeeit! I grab the dogs, their leashes and my keys and wonder briefly if I should pull on some sweats oh, and maybe a bra.... I herd my canine kids into my messy minivan and remember the recycling. Oh, I'll only be a little late... so I open the side doors and start heaving in the wet and stinky paper bags of two week old bean cans, liquor bottles and plastic pop bottles. A couple bags bottoms give way but most of my ecological treasure stays contained.

One hour elapses, we have a clean bill of health for the pooches, and we are off to the recycling bins. Unbeknownst to me, due to Led Zepelin blaring, The New Puppy has found the weak bag bottoms and has decided to mix up my previously organized mess. No matter. Another 30 minutes and some pretty sticky hands and dog tongues later, we are on our way home to resume The Perfect Day.

Even though it is mere minutes until noon, I still believe that I can marshall those fleeting minutes into submission. A quick switch of the laundry. Now, what next? "Yoga." calls my perfect self, as she sits crosslegged filing her perfect nails. A throbbing nerve in my spine quickly seconds the motion. A throbbing nerve in my head, speaking much louder than the spine, insists that we pour a few ounces of rum into a glass of Diet Coke and sit by the pool.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Chicks at the Lake

Growing up in Southern California we went to the beach like some people now go the the mall, on a whim, with no particular planning. It was a 10 minute trip from practially anywhere. We wrapped our Velveeta on white bread sandwiches in foil and shared one 12 ounce glass bottle of Coke between the 4 of us. We laid in a row on our mothers bath towels on the hot sand talking to the sky. We threw ourselves into the salty embrace of the waves when we got too hot. Even at 14 and 15 we took off our tops to prevent tan lines and glared down any passer by ill-mannered enough to look.

Thirty-something years later I have just returned from my Minnesota version of going to the beach. No longer a 10 minute trip, this is an hour excursion which requires at least three days of planning to produce the right menu and correct ingredients for libations. Gone are my foil wrapped Velveeta sandwiches, replaced now by Brocolli florets and artichoke dip. Buttery Nipples and Long Island Iced Teas are now served in matching plastic goblets with individual charms so we don't get them confused, along with iced bottles of water to keep us hydrated. Plush 22 lb. terry loop beach towels with fancy dobby hems now protect our aging thighs from the harsh lounge chairs circled evenly for ease of conversation on the manicured lawn. We step gingerly into the lapping lake water and wade out waist deep then retreat the the comfort of our chaise, modestly wrapping our hawaiian print sarongs around our spreading middles.

Attempts on my part to draw any comparisons of this lake experience to the actual beach either to this midwestern bred congregation or to my similarly displaced compatriates from the past, draws alternately polite laughter or confused silence. Why, ask the lakies, would you prefer the gritty sand to this nice grass? Why, ponder the beachies, even bother to drive that far to sit on the grass? And what does lake water do?

Aside from the obvious tactile differences, I suppose there are subtler distinctions. A sort of unspoken code known only to seventies era teenagers who grew up on the coast, now long since forgotten or burried under thirtysomething years of midwestern cultural brainwashing. I shake my head and long for the easy grace with which we would glide from one thing to another on a whim, with no particular planning.

A sneaky peek deux!

Having exposed one set of friends, I feel obligated to equally expose the other. Herewith are my obviously food obsessed Upper Midwestern girlfriends - deep in the throes of planning a late summer get together - let's listen in:

CY: Hello friends - I thought we should start planning our little lake get-together. Don't take offense guys but I'm sure I don't need to remind anyone of the importance of keeping this quiet. It's not that we want to hurt anyone's feelings; there are just some people we don't want to spend the day with – deal with it. I have, and I'm guilt free. LAKE DAY-MONDAY, AUGUST 15 Anytime after 10:30 a.m. LH and I were talking, and decided the theme for the day should be HEALTHY EATING (however, that means healthy for us as opposed to healthy for a healthy person). LH has decided she will bring deviled eggs (relatively healthy) and possibly some cheese (hopefully not that brie stuff, just something normal like cheddar – that would be Gouda!) LOL! Just so we don't get too carried away with this health kick we think LD should bring cheese cake. I will be bringing vegetables and dip-because vegetables were made for dip. And besides, nobody really wants to feel the furry stuff on broccoli. Please feel free to explore the possibilities of other healthy options while ensuring that we won't be disappointed by taste and talk about you the next time you miss tour. I have the makings for Mrs. Rinke's World Famous Long Island T's. I'll have to check the cabin to see what else I have. I'm pretty sure there's a couple of bottles of Chardonnay, however probably not Kendall Jackson! And there's always beer. You can see who this has been sent to. If you have any other suggestions, feel free to bring that person's name up for a vote/discussion. If you can't make it, we'll miss you and we promise NOT to talk about you. P.S.-Begin making your list of topics of discussion/items of business-just so we don't run out of shit to talk about.

1. TC's next visit.

LLA: First... Wear the fox hat. (... if you don't get it - improvise) Second... I for one got excited during the first part where CY was handing out food assignments, and then was sorely disappointed when I was not assigned something. As you know, I lack imagination, so therefore cannot function without an assignment. Left to my own devices I may bring something like Peter Pancakes with Lost Boysenberry syrup, or something way more inappropriate. To save this event from culinary disaster I beg you, please assign me a food or drink! Something totally in keeping with the theme of course.

LH: Okay, I feel the need to defend my anal, party-planning self. I suggested the food assignments so CY wouldn't feel compelled to provide all for all. And also so we don't all show up with only veggies. Can't wait. I've got a couple extra floaties if anyone needs ‘em. Tell me though, or I won't bring extras. CAN'T WAIT! Does anyone besides LLA know what PETER PANCAKES are??

CY: Let it be known that I never thought planning the food would be a bad thing. I love planning, I just don't want to come across as being bossy. It sounds much better (and less bossy) coming from LH. OK you two goofs. We'll think of something for you to bring. I neglected to mention we have the makings for a nice "buttery nipple" also. God, I love saying that! I don't know what the hell Peter Pancakes are or where the fox they are at. I just thought it was another by-product of LLA's overactive imagination.

LD: I don't know what they are either, but I'm coming up with some great visuals....

LLA: They are pancakes that stay rather flat I assume... get it? Or perhaps ones that never grow (M)old in the back of your refrigerator! Hahahahahahahaha!! I made it up - you silly anal-party-planner!

CY: God, we're getting so weird! I'm starting a new e-mail to make an important announcement. As LH and I talked about food assignments (yes, LH, I am once again implicating you) we also explored the thought of extending our highly sought after invitations to others that have piqued our interest. No, I'm not talking about PH, since she was already invited-whom I will say has been suspiciously quiet during all of this. I hope this doesn't mean we can't trust her; perhaps she's merely frightened... Anyway, I took the liberty of inviting GD. Anyone who can pound back that many beers may eventually have good shit to talk about. I did convey to GH the importance of keeping this coveted invitation on the down-low. Gotta go, I'm on vacation. P.S. Somebody please come up with ideas for food for JN and LLA since their brains are just too full of whatever it is they think about all day!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

A sneaky peek

I am fortunate in that I have two sets of wonderful women friends. One group made up of cool chicks formed in the unlikely setting of Real Estate Agents who normally would be at each others throats in this competitive setting; the other group, quoted here, are cool chicks from high school - no wait, TR and NN are oddly enough, cool chicks I met online via my friends from high school. Here is a transcript of a recent e-conversation typical of our banter. LLA is me. A red wagon is our metaphor for "I don't get it." No further explanation is necessary.

LLA: Hi, Don't know if you remember me or not. My name is Linda and I used to email you guys pretty regularly..... Ha. So, are you guys just really busy, or did emailing get boring without me? Oh, and check out my "blog." How strange, how new wave, how not me, but yet here it is. Yes, I have a Blog. I do so wish there was another name for it. I'm almost embarrassed to say the word. Anyway, I've also got a goal of 500 words a day to keep, so I'm furiously writing at 3:18a.m and will begin to post things already written as I begin to dry up, but just because you've been so supportive, (lucky you) I'll let you know this exists so you can read if you want. Woopee. http://straightupandslightlydirty.blogspot.com/

TR: what's a blog?....

NN: Oh, I remember you! You were the one that kept us all in stitches (or complete confusion) with your witty tales. A blog, how exciting! Although I don't have time today to read it, I have kept it as one of my "favorites" so if I have a moment I can jump on and give it a read. Don't expect a reply from KS for a few more days. They are in Yellowstone this week.

TR: Hi NN..how grows your tomatoe plant?

NN: The Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!! They are both over 8 feet tall! The Early Girl has over 100 tomatoes on it and the Cherry tomato has over 200! I have no doubt they will all get ripe at the same time too. Know any good bulk tomato recipes? Sauce or something that can be frozen?! It is the hummingbird poop I tell ya!

LLA: Ooooo goody! KS will come home to 268 emails – I can just hear her now… “Oh FFS!” NN you are such a nice person to take her off the list, but me being just as nice, well, I just put her right back on. Wouldn’t want her to miss out on one teensy tiny detail! 8 foot tall tomaties?!?!? Girl, they are gonna pull up their own roots some night and walk into your house demanding celery salt and vodka! Oh, and if you’re really interested, here is a link to a fascinating report on an analysis of hummingbird poop http://www.hiltonpond.org/ThisWeek040808.html – complete with pictures no less! C’mon, admit it, you missed me didn’t you?

NN: Well, OF COURSE we missed you. Where else would we get this useful information? Celery salt and vodka, hahahahaha! Although if you saw the size of the plants you might not be laughing. I might have to start locking the door! By the way, I didn't take KS off, it must have been TR. Hmmm..... Oh, by the way, that website is kind of disgusting. I am going to wash those tomatoes really well.

TR: Hahaha the humming bird poop! very impressive my dear ...you and Mike have a very GREEN thumb so to anyone interested...BBQ by the lake on August 20th for red head Pam's birthday ( Lamar;'s girlfriend) the lake is open for swimming and the bar is open for the non- swimmers...3pm on...bring a chair bring a dish, bring booze

KW: WELL, I NEVER! I certainly do TOO answer your e-mails. Well, maybe not all of them. But by the time I get to sit down and go through my e-mails, I'm so tired I need to be put out of my misery. So, I did cruise your blog. And there's something I've been thinking about for awhile now. We're both quick-witted and well written, but for as long as I can remember, I was quick with the verbal wit and you were quick with the written wit (say that 10 times real fast). I can blurt something funny out in a heartbeat but it takes me awhile to put it to words. You, however, can think it and then write it so effortlessly. I can't do that because I'm a born editor and have to scrutinize everything BEFORE I accept it, instead of just pounding it out and scrutinizing it later. So I think you should write a book about us growing up. I've always thought our life stories, separately and together, would make a great novel of the late 20th Century. Whaddya think?

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

See, here's the thing...

I'm all about accomplishing the goal. Heaven knows I am driven. But now that the goal looms there before me, I still have to deal with the mountain of laundry and ironing, the bills that need to be paid, the pets that need care, oh, and the husband and kids who still need my attention. At this point, the "work" involved in being a writer occurs long before any writing occurs.

Then there's the motivation issue. I have a friend I call Wheat. She and I have the same twisted sense of humor, the same slightly crooked way of looking at life. Ever since the day we met in 9th grade we've been writing. Little missives we called "notes" that turned into parodies of soap operas, kooky commercials, song lyrics gone awry, and odd romances. We connect in the written world. I suppose to put it in the mildest of terms, she motivates me. We have one of those relationships that allows us to pick up a conversation interrupted by distance and years, right where we left off. We can entertain our mutual friends and family with our quips and banter for hours. Our conversations are the stuff of brilliant sitcoms, but alas, none of it has been written down.

Since moving away from Southern California to the Midwest I do have other friends, and don't get me wrong, we have our moments. At least a few think I'm pretty clever with words, and I do keep them entertained. But I really haven't found anyone I can talk to that connects with my offbeat sense of humor. No one who can put a spark to the ideas that float through my head like Wheat can. (If you are reading this Wheat you'd better post a comment!) But, here's the thing, as funny as our notes and journals were to us 30 years ago, how does that translated into a story that is entertaining today?

I was hoping that this post would go somewhere, to answer that question for me, but alas, it is just a hypothetical question posted in cyberspace. More on this later.

Tuesday, August 9, 2005


I've been a Franklin Planner disciple for almost 10 years now. Setting goals and using daily task lists to chart my progress toward them is as much a part of my life as eating or sleeping. The thing is, I've only used this tool in my "professional life." I truly believe that until just now, I've been merely paying lip service to one of my deepest desires - writing. Sure, I add "write" to my daily task list but more often than not there is an arrow defering it on to the next day rather than a check mark saying I've done it. Since no one goes hungry or gets left at the airport if I don't do it, I wasn't truly making it a priority. Well that all changes today. Since joining the Forward Motion Writers Community I've found out there is forum there where you can publicly declare your goal and then track it. Very cool. Scary, but cool. This means of course, that I'll have to actually think of writing as real instead of just that thing that happens when I get an idea that coincides with some free time. I'm hoping that once I get rolling with my goal, which is 500 words per day, I'll somehow get over that lost feeling of 'write? Write what?' Which is what I'm feeling right now.

I suppose I can liken this to the feeling I had three years ago when I first started in real estate. I got my desk, and orientation around the office, even some mentoring classes. I had stuff to read and forms to fill out and tasks to accomplish. But once those were all done (and efficiently checked off of my Prioritized Daily Task List) I sat there looking around at all the other busy agents. Busy doing what? I wondered. Well, they were calling people, having conversations, writing letters. The really busy ones were doing all that AND writing contracts and listing houses and negotiating deals. The better they did those things, the more closings they had - hence more money! Trouble is, for me anyway, they were doing it on their own, there was no manager, or supervisor assigning tasks. Stated or unstated, these people had goals and they were working toward them - on their own! What a concept!

It was and still is hard for me, coming from the daily busy-work corporate world into the fend for yourself world of commission sales. I was so used to sitting at a desk answering phones, transcribing other peoples' bad handwriting, dutifully attending meetings, all for someone else. It was totally unfulfilling, but it brought in a regular paycheck. I still long for the sense of accomplishment I'd get after turning in a particularly well worded report. The trouble was no one read the report for the sheer joy of reading. No one thought 'oh who wrote this, it's so insightful and entertaining!' And, whats worse, it ended up filed away right next to the crapily written ones. But, I still got paid... the same as the people who couldn't string together two words, no more, no less. In hindsight, it's hard to remember what kind of daily or monthy goals I would have had in that environment, or when I'd have time to accomplish them if I did!

I do pretty well at real estate. I established some goals and I work toward them, guided of course by my trusty Franklin. I get paid according to how hard or how little I work, which is exactly what I wanted. But in all honesty, my motive in changing careers mid-life was two-fold. One, it broke that safe dependance on a routine paycheck, and two, it gave me the free time I needed to pursue what I really want to do - write. At this point, business tends to roll in without grueling effort on my part, and I'm about as busy as I want to be. Now, I can give my writing goals the respect they deserve.