Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Katrina

Over the past couple of years, almost all of my favorite vacations spots have been torn apart by hurricanes. Southeast Louisiana, Biloxi, Mobile, Gulf Shores, Destin--they're all great travel destinations with some of the friendliest people you'd ever want to meet. And more than a few kooks, which is why I like the area so much.

My heart breaks today when I see so much devastation. So my entry today is a simple request to help where you can. Here are some possibilities:

American Red Cross

Catholic Charities USA

Salvation Army

The Humane Society of Southern Mississippi

Southern Louisiana SPCA

Noah's Wish


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Forgive Us Our Trespasses

I hope Venezeulans know most U.S. citizens find yesterday's remarks by Pat Robertson reprehensible among other things. I can only hope most Christians disagree with him as well.

El no habla para mí.
He does not speak for me.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Short Words

I was scrounging around my hard drive over the weekend, and I found this quote from Richard Lederer's The Miracle of Language:
When you speak and write, there is no law that says you have to use big words. Short words are as good as long ones, and short, old words--like sun and grass and home--are best of all. A lot of small words, more than you might think, can meet your needs with a strength, grace, and charm that large words do not have...

Short words are bright like sparks that glow in the night, prompt like the dawn that greets the day, sharp like the blade of a knife, hot like salt tears that scald the cheek, quick like moths that flit from flame to flame, and terse like the dart and sting of a bee.

All one syllable words that prove his point in grand style, I think. Whenever I'm feeling inhibited by my lack of vocabulary, I return to this quote, for it reminds me that it's not the words you know, but how you use those words that counts.

Since reading this quote several months ago, I've been collecting one syllable words. My favorite, so far, is the word strange. Such a short little word, but it packs a big punch. Punch, there's another great short word.And then there's quick, flex, rain, lunge, gray, cool, snap, grip, whim, snort...oh, sorry, I get carried away. There are also a lot of great X-rated short words, but I'll let someone else have those. My mother might read this someday.

While I will continue to build my vocabulary, I no longer fret over the words I don't know. Instead, I'll try to do something wonderful with the words I do know. Perhaps something strange.

What are your favorite short words?

Saturday, August 13, 2005

A Good Lunch Ruined

Before I get tuned up, let me assure you, Dear Reader(s), that I like children. I really do. They're fun, energetic, entertaining and refreshingly honest. I like being around them--hang on for the caveat--in their natural environment. This would be anywhere they could be themselves--a playground, the zoo, a park, McDonald's--and make as much noise as they wanted with less risk of bothering other people. I'm all in favor of letting kids be as kidlike as they can be while they have the chance.

What I'm not in favor of is taking kids to my favorite Mexican restaurant and letting them act as if they were at McDonald's. No whining, no screaming, no running around among, atop, or beneath the tables, no arguing at the top of their little lungs with the parental unit (when did that get to be so prevalent?), and above all, no asking neighboring diners what they're writing. No more than once, anyway.

Kids are entitled to be kids. They're entitled to have bad days. They should be taught how to act in a real restaurant, and the best way to do that is to take them to restaurants. However, when the bad days they're entitled to and the restaurant visits occur on the same day, diners everywhere would really, really appreciate it if the parents would reschedule one or the other.


Wait staff would appreciate it also. As I was leaving Molly's LaCasita (shown above), one of the waitresses murmured to me, "It's waaaay too early for this shit."

My sentiments exactly.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Love Affair

Have I mentioned how much I love my flip-flops? I don't even have to have them on my feet. My flip-flops bring a smile to my face just by being there. They hug my feet and provide the support I need, and yet, they aren't smothering or restrictive. They're everything I could ask for in a sole mate.

Much to my dismay, my company has a no flip-flop rule as part of its dress code. We can wear sandals, just not thong sandals. It seems silly to me to make the distinction based on whether or not the strap of leather goes across your toes or between them, but what do I know. Maybe they're afraid people will spend too much time thinking about other types of thongs.

So every morning, I wear my flip-flops until I get in the parking lot, and then I switch to my "office shoes", which are usually just other sandals with directionally appropriate straps. And at the end of the work day, I return to my beloved flip-flops and the world spins normally again.

I wish more people could experience the joys of flip-flopping, and that makes me wonder: is there any compelling reason we can't have the flip-flop designated as The National Shoe? It could do wonders for our national mood.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Trapped in Singlespace

I'm having one of those moments when I regret being single. No, it's not the usual moment, which is when I want something at the store, only I don't want to get dressed again to go out. Or the one where I get my period and realize (too late) that I don't have the necessary supplies on hand. Or any of the other random moments that pop up from time to time.

This is a different one, a new one. Tonight, I'd like to be sitting across the table from my LifeMate, nibbling on cheese and crackers and sipping tall glasses of Cakebread Chardonnay, while exchanging meaningful looks as we discuss the feasibility of me quitting my job.

Me: Can we make it on your income alone for a while?

LM: It doesn't matter. If I have to get a second job, or even a third, I'll do whatever it takes so that you don't have to endure one more day of pain.

Me: What did I ever do to deserve you?

LM touches my cheek tenderly: You smiled at me. That's all it took to know that you were The One and Only Woman I would ever want or need. I would do anything for you.

Me: Anything?

LM: Anything. What is it you need, my love?

Me: Well, I haven't gotten around to that last load of laundry yet...

Okay, so I don't really want a LifeMate who calls me "my love", but you get the picture.

All I really want are some options here. Many, if not most, married couples can at least discuss the possibility of going single income. I don't have any choice. If I don't bring home the bacon, no one does. No one's going to fry it up in a pan, either, but that's a post for another day. On most days, I'm proud of my independence, satifisfied with what I've accomplished on one income.

Today is not that day.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Dog Days of Summer

We've reached that part of summer we Southerners don't like to talk about. Well, except to each other, that is.

Resident #1: Man, it's hotter than hell out there.

Resident #2: You ain't lyin'. And did you get a taste of that air? Yechh!

Resident #1: Did I ever! I hadda take a shower just to get the first layer off. I'm up to three showers a day now.

Resident #2: Whew! I hate to think what your water bill's gonna be.

Resident #1 (groans): Tell me about it. The electric's prob'ly gonna be over a thousand, easy.
That's what we say to each other. To outsiders and other potential sources of real estate commissions and new tax revenue, we say, "Why, no. I'm quite comfortable."

I don't know whether or not this is true, but I once heard that our local Chamber of Commerce has two fundamental rules for dealing with potential new residents: 1) Don't let them see us drive on snow and ice, and (2) never mention August. Ever. If anyone asks, lie and say you usually spend the month of August traveling. You don't know anything about flies, mosquitoes, air you can feel, or thunderstorms so sudden and severe they'll give you nightmares.

I'm old enough to have experienced life before air conditioning. Oh, it had been invented when I was young. My family just didn't have one in my early years, and my memories of that time are of sweaty skin that stuck to the sheets, the cool spot that revealed itself when the pillow was flipped over (I still love that even to this day), and the pallets in the living room floor my parents made so that we could catch the cross-ventilation from the open doors. Back then, we didn't have to worry that the only thing separating us from the axe murderers was a thin layer of door screen.

Somehow, we survived in tact until the year we did get an air conditioner. Yes, you read that right—an air conditioner, as in one. It was big, used, and ugly. My Dad put it in the dining room window, and it blew cold air into the living room. Unfortunately, our bedrooms were nowhere near the living room. Still, it kept us from roasting, and I'm profoundly grateful to my parents for giving up whatever they gave up in order for us to have it.

With age comes not only an increasing intolerance of heat, but also the wisdom to know better than to complain about it. To wish it past is to wish away part of my personal 'dog days of summer'. No, the time is better spent appreciating a cool breeze that sneaks in every now and then, enjoying the light show Nature plays during a late afternoon thunderstorm, and savoring the joys of ice cream without a single word from my conscience.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

A Minor Epiphany

Remember a few days back when I was yakking about becoming a more organized person? Well, I'm happy to report that I'm making a little progress. A very little, but try to stay focused on the word progress. So far, I've managed to centralize and sort my CDs. In addition to weeding out about fifteen discs for the reseller, I also found a spot for the remaining CDs in a built-in storage cabinet, thus freeing myself of one piece of furniture. :: pats self on back ::

I've sorted out some other stuff, too, but along the way I had a minor epiphany. As I was standing in the foyer, looking at the gigantic mess I've created in the living room/sorting zone, I was getting Very Angsty about the enormity of my project, wondering how I would ever finish, when seemingly out of the absolute blue, I remembered Anne Lamott's beautiful story from Bird by Bird:


"Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he'd had three months to write. [It] was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder, paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother's shoulder, and said, 'Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'"
- Anne Lamott
Life is just that simple sometimes. "Making mountains out of molehills" is a cliché for a reason. If we would just slow down and take things as they come, our lives and the lives of the people around us would be so much more peaceful.

So that's the approach I'll take with becoming more organized--I'll simply take it bird by bird. Today, CDs and videos--tomorrow, the top of my desk.

As an aside, if you haven't read Bird by Bird, I heartily recommend it. I bought it on the recommendation of a friend long before I had given serious thought to pursuing writing as a hobby. Oh, I tried to write something a few times, but the first couple of pages didn't turn out so well so I gave it up. But then I bought this book and one passage leapt out at me:

"For me, and most of the other writers I know, writing is not rapturous. In fact, the only way I can get anything written at all is to write really, really shitty first drafts."
Here was a bona fide, published author admitting her first drafts were shitty!! The light bulb went on: I could do shitty. Pages and pages of it. Whole notebooks even. Anne (I met her briefly this year, so I feel comfortable with the first name) also went on to say that not only was it okay if I wrote badly, but that I was expected to do so! There's all kinds of other neat stuff in there about perfectionism (she's against it) and using writing to find our truths and--oh, just get the book. You'll love it.

Thus endeth the Anne Lamott commercial. I'll return you to your regularly scheduled program: Me.

Wouldn't you know it? Just in time to see the final credits roll.

Monday, August 01, 2005

One of Those Meme Thingies

This circulated at work last week. Since I hadn't yet done one of these thingies, I grabbed it.

1. List three things on your desk:
- monitor (duh)
- eight pads of paper (Have I mentioned I've been doing a lot of writing lately?)
- glass of Diet Coke

2. List three things you are wearing
- nightgown (give me a break; it's early yet)
- glasses (but I'm headed for the contact lensese as soon as I post this)
- Autumn Leaves nail polish

3. List the last 3 things you ate:
- cheetos (dinner last night)
- bacon, cheese and tomato sandwich(lunch yesterday)
- hashbrowns

4. List the last 3 people you touched:
- John
- Frieda
- George

5. List three things you'd love to own:
- my house
- a condo on the Gulf Coast
- a crystal ball, in working order

Well now, wasn't that exciting.