Saturday, December 30, 2006

Insight ...

I'm having the best week off. I am in a zone, sifting, sorting, purging, cleaning, organizing. Out with the old, in with the new, don'tcha know?

So allow me to take this opportunity to address a recent comment exchange, based on my last post. Go ahead and read. I'll meetcha underneath.

Anonymous said...
calling two months of dating someone a "phase of your life" is very sad.

Ethan said...
Wow, that's pretty petty of you, Anon.

Beth said...
Oh, gee, Anon, I'm sorry. Did I choose the wrong word? Period? Span of time? Which would you prefer?

Ass.

Beth said...
And by the way, it was more than two months.

Anonymous said...
Take it easy -- no need to get so defensive. And I stand corrected -- it was, what, about 10 weeks -- the months of internet "dating" don't really count. It is just my opinion that even saving any e-mails for a year from someone you dated for a short "period of time" is kind of sad. The fact that you would write your marriage fantasies where the person you just started dating would read them was even sadder.

If you you are going to write things and put them on the internet for anyone to read, you really should learn to take some criticism. It seems that whenever anyone doesn't stroke your ego with compliments you get very defensive and come across as bitter.

OK, back with me? Good.

Here's the thing about blogs, in my view: My blog is like my home. I'm a very hospitable person. I like having people - readers - drop by. And I'm always up for a chat - comments, in this case. And surely, everyone one of my guests needn't exactly share my views, but I do expect people to be polite.

So in the case of this latest comment exchange, I bristled at Anon's "very sad" language.

Now, in every blog post I write, I might not be completely explicit. When I'm writing, a lot of what I'm thinking doesn't necessarily make it onto the page. And since blog posts are chronicles of things I'm thinking, they make perfect sense to me. But my readers don't have the understanding of all the thought behind the post.

In this case, then, what Anon might not have known is that I wasn't hanging on to my G files intentionally. I wasn't rereading them and reliving those months that we were together. I almost never look at the contents of my hard drive, so I'd pretty much forgotten they were there. That was the point of the post, that as I was cleaning out my closets and cabinets and such, I was also cleaning out my computer. Hell, today I shredded canceled checks from 1994 that I found in a box. Sometimes, you just forget that you have stuff lying around.

So it's not that I can't take criticism. I can take criticism when it's warranted. I'm not bitter, as Anon suggests. Hardly. And Anon is welcome to think that I'm "very sad" all he or she wants. But don't expect that i'm not going to react to being insulted.

Any time I see a comment from Anonymous, my defenses immediately rise, because many of the comments from Anonymous are pissy. And as I've said before, I wonder why the Anons keep reading if they don't like what I have to say, if their only contributions to the discussion are pissy comments or not-so-subtle digs. There are, what?, five million blogs out there? Don't like what I write about? Please, feel free to go read something else instead.

So, a new year is upon us. I hope it's healthy and happy for everyone.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Unresolved ...

The past couple years, I've taken to writing down my goals for my next spin round the sun. Tonight, I retrieved the envelope I tucked away last December 31 and opened it. I'd written 13 goals. My favorite number is 13.

How'd I do? Eh. Not so great. Why not? Well, some of it was beyond my control. "Continue my relationship with G" required his participation. "Learn more German" lost its luster when G called things quits. (On the heels of my closet-cleaning extravaganza, I started poking around the files on my computer and discovered my IMs with G. Those are now residing in my trash, as are any other G-related documents. Why keep them? That phase of my life has been over for nearly a year. The writer in me says, "Oooh, but there might be a story in there somewhere." But there's likely not. And if there is, it's in my head already. I have a good memory for details.)

"Achieve my full bonuses and salary for 2006" required the company hitting its financial goals. "Meet Kevin Spacey" would have been easier to achieve if I'd gotten over to London this year, but he's bringing "Moon for the Misbegotten" to Broadway this spring. Maybe I can cross that one off the list for 2007.

Happily, though, I did accomplish No. 7: SING. I vowed to attend more open mic nights, and maybe work with an arranger, neither of which I did. But I did have some recording sessions with Brian. And I was happy with the results, and we'll further refine the tunes in the coming months.

And I wrote more. That's an accomplished goal. I need to write even more, but I'll accept my progress on that front this year.

So I didn't accomplish everything on the list, but then, who ever does? Accomplishing several is accomplishment enough. And it allows me to roll over some goals into the new year.

Being healthier is always a goal and tomorrow I'm going to buy a treadmill. I'm truly excited about it. It will not be an overpriced clothes rack.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Born To Be Bluetooth ...

I upgraded my phone today to a pretty lil' RAZR.

My last phone wasn't Bluetooth-compatible, and I was due for a new phone, anyway. Because my other phone was beginning to bore me. The other day, I saw something and wished I had a camera phone.

Now I do.

But the objective of the phone-upgrading mission was the enablement of my Bluetooth device from Dave.

So I charged my phone. And I charged my Bluetooth thingee. And I synced 'em up. And I called Dave.

"How do I sound?" I asked.

"Are you on your device?" he asked, from somewhere near Las Vegas.

"Ohmygosh, it's the coolest!" I said. And I meant it.

I vow to not walk around with the device in my ear at all times, but how wild! I can set the phone down and walk around and get on with my life. Hands-free, wire-free, yet connected.

Completely cool.

As I told Dave, I'm not the earliest adopter of technology, but once I get it, I wonder how I lived without it.

Dave, ever the writer, supplied the description I could not. "You're an appreciator," he said.

Yes I am.

My Closet, Myself ...

It's that time of year again. That time of year when I get the itch to get my ducks in a row, thinking that somehow, if my house is orderly, my life will be, too.

Today's chore: tackle my office's walk-in closet. Now, you might be thinking that offices don't have walk-in closets, and you'd be right. But in this house's past life, the room that is now my office was going to be a master bath. No, I am not siting on a toilet as I write this. The plumbing is roughed in behind the walls, but everything is capped off. And so the closet was an actual closet for clothes and shoes and the like. The family room had been converted into a bedroom (with a fireplace - nice!) but it's not my master bedroom. And the would-be master bathroom is not my master bathroom, it's my office.

So today, I started hauling stuff out of the closet and assessing. It felt good to create a purge pile. Trash pick-up is tomorrow, so out the curb it went. I didn't get rid of as much as I hoped, but things are much more organized in there now, and it willl be easier to sort through things for successive rounds of purging. As my friend Joanne once noted, you can get rid of just about anything by putting it in a black plastic garbage bag.

And as I sifted and sorted, I made a list. I generally think that those organization shows on TLC and Discovery and such are absurd. No one is going to morph from pack rat to neatnik. They might keep everything that neat and tidy for a few days, but old habits die hard. Still, I've become a big, big fan of baskets. I use them to organize all sorts of things. And my current list features not only baskets but magazine storage thingees and photo boxes. The time is nigh to replace the worn Williams-Sonoma bag that's held my photo envelopes all these years. Oh, and I need a new desk blotter calendar. Love the desk blotter calendar.

But there must be something to this feng shui thing, because now, walking into my closet is like walking into heaven. And I don't even believe in heaven. But that's another blog entry for another time. I almost want to spend time in my closet, just to behold the organization, the space that I've freed up.

Several things are at the curb tonight, among them a box of demo tapes from my would-be voiceover days. At this point, if I ever pursue voiceovers again, I'd need CDs. Unless I could just sent mp3 files to everyone. But cassettes? They're practically antiques. And I'd put my one-time agent's name and number on a lot of them. She wanted to put me on her house reel and then quickly reneged on her offer, based on my first-ever audition for her, for which I sucked eggs. In my defense, I'll point out that it was my first-ever audition, and I'll also point out that this woman had no idea what she was doing. She had trouble using the recording equipment, and when her daughter came in to help and asked what was wrong, the woman said, in a very loud stage whisper, "She's not any good!"

Way to boost my confidence, lady! Um, I was good enough to turn in a demo that made you want to sign me immediately. Gee, you think maybe *you* contributed to the bad audition?

Ah, but that's long behind me. Creating the demo demonstrated to me that what I really want to do is sing, but speaking is much less terrifying than singing.

So it's time to put that phase behind me. I kept some of my "unmarked" demos. Not sure why. Maybe they'll be kitschy party favors at my album-release party. Maybe I'm not ready to face the fact that I didn't make it as a voiceover talent. Maybe I'm not ready to throw out the end result of cost me a small fortune. Who knows. But my Spidey sense told me to hold on to some, so hold on to them I shall.

For now.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

I Have Turned Off My Brain ...

Ah, a dearth of work.

It will return, soon enough. But it's so luxurious to have this time off. Waking up every day, knowing that there's nothing I have to do. Today, mom and I went shopping. We didn't head to the mall until later in the day, figuring the maddness would have died down by then (and it was surprisingly sane), but we ran around all day. We were on a lamp-finding mission. And we might have found one. But mom is waiting for it to go on sale.

And now that the din has died down inside my head, I seem better able to focus. Details don't seem to drain out of my brain as quickly. I think we all spend too much time doing too many things at once. Today, taking a break from the running, mom and I stopped for lunch at a restaurant that makes great avgolemono soup. A sign on the door to the restaurant announced that it has wifi now. Wifi? At a local restaurant? Why? Who really needs wifi with eggs and toast or a cup of soup?

On Thursday, Dave and I were chatting on the phone. He explained that he might sound funny because he was on a hands-free device.

"Oh, God," I said. "You're not one of those Bluetooth people, are you?"

Yes, he told me, he is. But he's not one of those people who wears it all the time. That's the differentiator among Bluetooth users. Those who use it for convenience and those who wear it for status. But here's a note to those latter folks: You don't look cool, you look like a moron. Like when you're in a club and you can't hear the person talking next to you.

Or maybe they're just big fans of Lieutenant Uhura. (That show was ahead of its time, wasn't it?)

The next day, I stopped by his studio to deliver cookies and his Christmas gift. I bought his gift in New York in October. I have a very hard time waiting to give presents. When I buy them, I want to give them right away. So it's remarkable that I was able to hold on from mid October until late December.

Dave, I may have mentioned (or I may have not) is a musician today because of The Beatles. They literally shaped the course of his life. So when I saw this very cool bowl made out of Beatles album, I had to buy it for him. From the White Album, no less. It's not altogether functional. It's suitable for, say, pretzels but not for, say, soup.

I gave him the box and said, "You'll either find this terribly cool or slightly sacrilege." How's that for a preface? Happily, he landed on the side of "terribly cool," announcing that his daughter will love using it for snacking.

Dave handed me a package (we didn't agree to buy presents for each other, but it happened that way) and said, in all seriousness, "Well, this might mean the end of our friendship, Beth." Yikes! How's *that* for a preface?!

Do I even have to tell you that it's a Bluetooth device?! I cracked up. I totally love it. I told Dave that I've secretly wanted one and do think they're cool, but, like I said, I think the people who wear them constantly look ridiculous.

Turns out, I recently got a hands-free device for my phone, the wired ear-piece kind with an in-line mic. I hate it. It doesn't work well.

Of course, my phone isn't Bluetooth compatible, so now I need to upgrade, but I'm due for a new phone anyway. I think I have a RAZR in my future. LIke, tomorrow, maybe.

Because I don't have to do anything tomorrow except having breakfast with my nephew and niece, and maybe clean out a closet. The halfway point of my holiday break.

I think I'll sleep in.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve ...

There will be no snow for Christmas.

But it was cold last night, and there is frost, which sparkles.

The past two days have been heaven. No work pressure. Time to do what I want to do. Friday, I doled out cookies. Some expected them, some did not. I took some to a women who's recently opened a home-furnishings store Iove. I was there a few days earlier, buying a tray on which to package the cookies for Dave and his family, and she was telling me that she's been too busy this year to bake. So I made up a selection of cookies and took them to her. Not a lot, just a half dozen of each, but it's a dent in her baking that was going to go entirely undone. Plus, I'd like to learn from her about what she went through to open her business. Not that she wouldn't have been forthcoming anyway, but cookies buy a lot of goodwill.

Doreen's was my next stop. The people at her building are always so nice. I think they need to receive cookies next year. Doreen is very much a cheerleader and supporter of my cookie dream. I told her that she'll have a seat on my board of directors someday!

Next, off to KP, where I made the bulk of my deliveries. Dave's family is on the cookie list every year now, and he tells the cutest stories about how excited his wife and daughter get, anticipating the year's treats. Brian, my recording engineer, was surprised when I handed him a hatbox tied with tulle, a gift for he and his wife. "Why?", he asked, amazed. "Because you're sweet and I like you," I said. "And to thank you for all the recording this year."

"Oh, we're not done," he said.

"Oh, I know we're not done," I laughed. "Those songs aren't close to being done!"

Rebecca was running an errand when I arrived. Dave showed me to her desk, but she hadn't yet returned. So I left the package for her and her family on her desk with a pink Post-It note on top. She arrived just as I was leaving her desk. She told me that she bought a cake stand especially to display my cookies. "You bought a cookie stage!" I said. I love that. I love that she treats them so specially.

Yesterday, Jay and I met up for some last-minute Christmas shopping (his, not mine), which he accomplished in about an hour. The point of the rendezvous though, for me, was to deliver cookies to him and his friend Mike. Jay was enamored of the box in which they came. "The box would be enough of a gift!" he said. Which just goes to show you: No matter how old we get, sometimes the box is the best part of a present.

I picked up my favorite Chinese food for dinner, and settled on the couch to watch "Scoop," Woody Allen's latest, which I didn't like. Though Hugh Jackman ... woof.

This morning, I had leftover Chinese for breakfast and finished watching "Badder Santa," which I'd begun last week. I've seen it before. L.A. Dave sent it to me, not as my Christmas gift, but just because. I love it. It's so profane and wrong, but it cracks me up. Billy Bob Thornton is brilliant.

Today will be spent preparing for tonight. I have biscotti to bake (a batch for my sister-in-law, who loves her espresso machine) and a bread I learned to bake when I was 8, for toast in the morning and to go with Christmas dinner.

I woke up early this morning and it's not even Christmas. Tonight, I'll have trouble sleeping. I do every year.

Happy holidays to all.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Who's Kicking Whose Ass?! ...

Yeah, sure, it's after 11 p.m., but I just finished the last work thing on my list for the week! I could have worked on it tomorrow, but I *so* wanted to wake up knowing it was done. And now it is!

A fine way to cap a fine day. I bundled all the cookies that I'm giving away (73 cellophaned, ribboned, tagged bundles) and packed all those for all the recipients. Then baked another batch of cookies (like I'm gonna run out?) then decided that the softened sticks of butter on the counter would become a pan of brownies because they're the easiest thing for me to make when I want to be doing other things.

So I start mixing and measuring and gaa!, I was one egg short! So, I made myself looking somewhat presentable and went to the grocery store. Came home, finished mixing the brownies, baked the brownies, frosted the brownies (yep, I frost my brownies) and got down to business on the document for work that kicked my ass just yesterday. I sent a version to the lead analyst and suggested we talk early in the morning to clear up my few questions, and he called and asked if I wanted to just get it done tonight.

Hell yeah, I wanted to get it done tonight!

I'm freakishly wired. I wrote to Dave and told him I think I'll re-roof the house before I turn in tonight.

Where is all this energy coming from? Must be holiday enthusiasm. And knowing that I'm about to have 10 DAYS OFF.

Did you ever see the SNL Jamba Juice skit with Natalie Portman? That's how I feel: "How are YOU today?!"

Tomorrow, I will play Cookie Elf, delivering cookies to my friends. I LOVE that part of my Christmas! The joy of cookies. My cookies. 2007 will be the Year of the Cookie! My cookie empire has begun!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Plan All You Want ...

Would the world kindly bend to my will, please?

I've been really good this holiday season, tackling tasks well in advance. I bought my first Christmas present in October in New York. On my birthday, I bought more Christmas presents (for my cousins in New York). I found Christmas cards that same weekend. I mailed them just after Thanksgiving. My tree was up that Sunday and decorated that Monday. Presents were wrapped and placed under the tree as they were purchased and I was done buying last week. My baking was finished this past Saturday. I bought cookie-delivery vessels yesterday, later than I planned on accomplishing that task, but sometmes my visions are hard to realize.

The point is, I've been good, getting things done so that this week, heading into Christmas, I could savor the season and be all Zen.

Yeah, um, not so much.

Work, which is usually a fairly regular, predictable affair, has decided that this is the week to kick my ass.

Now, I recognize that this is the last week of the year for business. Nothing happens between Christmas and New Year's, so there's a push to get stuff done, but would people puh-leeze stop dumping crap into my lap and cramming crap onto my calendar?! Don't they know I have Christmas cheer to soak up? I have merriment to make, dammit! Leave me alone!

Alas, the Christmas spirit doesn't pay my mortgage.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Damien Rice ...

Tonight was the long-anticipated Damien Rice show at The Vic, the second of two sold-out shows.

Kelley turned me onto Damien's music this year. I adore him. I wonder how he managed to elude me all these years.

Word had it that Damien runs a tight concert. People don't talk or mill about. People sit in their seats and listen. Kelley and I sat on a banquette, not folding chairs. A lovely bit of luck.

The Swell Season was the opening act, which is really Glen Hansard of The Frames and a woman whose name I don't remember. Glen is good friends with Mike, who is good friends with Jay, who is good friends with me. So there was a chance - a slight chance - that Jay'd be able to get Kelley back stage to meet Damien.

No luck on that front.

But you can't miss what you never had. (Or can you?)

A Sun-Times critic really slammed Damien in a review of last night's show. Tonight, Damien said that he was in a weird mood last night. Maybe that accounted for some of the reviewed weirdness. But tonight was decidedly unweird. Tonight was fabulous. He played lots of songs I knew (even though I don't have his second album and so don't know the songs on it) and they sounded great, like the album cuts, mostly, which is what I hope for. I don't want to hear some crazy avant-garde experiments standing in for the songs I know.

But hands down, the most spectacular moment of the evening came toward the end of the show when Damien stepped to the front of the stage and sang "The Blower's Daughter" without his mic. It's a beautiful song that starts out very simply and softly with only his guitar, then a cello comes in underneath him and it starts to build. I was captivated. The entire audience was dead silent. It was the most intimate concert moment I've ever experienced. Exceptional.

As for Glen, who joined Damien onstage for the last tune, he's a trip. He prefaced a song during his set with, "This is a song about a three-legged dog with cancer on a boat that's sinking. I'm an optimist!" And he told the story of the song that he wrote lying down, drunk, in a field, and started to sing it, then stopped short and positioned his mic near the floor, saying, "The only way to sing this song is lying down." So he did. He kept his ankles crossed.

Jay and Mike should be out with Glen right about now. I just texted Jay, "Havin fun?" We'll see if he replies.

In the meantime, if you don't know Damien Rice and/or The Frames, do yourself a favor.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Holy Mother of God! ...

Pierce Brosnan and Liam Neeson together? In one film?

How will I be able to look directly at the screen without going blind?!

I better make one of those eclipse-viewing pinhole cameras out of a shoebox. Liam's sayin', "Yeah, you better!"

"Seraphim Falls"
January 26, 2007
(The other guy is David Von Ancken, the writer/director.)

Making Christmas Eve ...

This morning, my mom called to talk about Jell-O.

This year for Christmas Eve dinner, she asked everyone in the family what they'd like. Our meal will be an amalgam of everyone's tastes.

So mom was calling to tell me that my brother Brian asked for Jell-O. Specifically, a Jell-O my mom always used to make that's orange Jell-O and diced canned peaches folded into freshly whipped cream. Chilled, it's fluffy pastel orange Jell-O with pieces of peaches inside. She also used to make a version with lime Jell-O and pears. That's my favorite. But I didn't ask her to make it this year. The menu is already out of control.

I put in a request for chip and dip, Swedish meatballs, and onion tart. Chip and dip was a staple of my childhood Christmases. We had a special chip and dip set, a large green bowl for the chips and a smaller green bowl for the dip that hung over the bowl of chips in a metal hanger. (A quick search on eBay didn't yield a picture of our actual set, but this is a pretty good representation, if not the right style and color.) I've always been a fan of simple flavors. The dip comprises sour cream, cream cheese, and grated onion (onion mush, basically). It is heart-stoppingly delicious. Mom said she's only making a little bit of dip. That's fine, I told her. I only want two or three chips. I just need to taste that bit of my childhood again.

When I think of Christmas Eve, my mind wanders back to our Christmas Eve parties when I was young. I remember that time before all the guests arrived when mom had finally commanded control of the kitchen and everything was ready to go. And I would clop down the stairs to the basement, my dad's domain, and revel in the quiet atmosphere that would soon be abuzz with our extended family. Dad would be behind the bar, finishing his preparations. The Christmas albums would be stacked up on the turntable in the closet, with one already playing to set the mood. The red Christmas lights underneath the bar cast a glow to the whole room. There was a red pillar candle in a black iron holder in the center of the bar. Dishes of nuts were spaced evenly down the stretch. I'd hop up on a bar stool and dad would make me a Kiddie Cocktail. (We never called them Shirley Temples. I loved maraschino cherries. Still do.) I felt very grown up.

Then the doorbell would ring and I'd race upstairs to see who'd arrived. And slowly, the house would fill, and the din would grow. I remember the sharp crack of the pool balls when someone would start a game. It was a small house, but it never felt crowded. Maybe that's because I was smaller then.

And the night would wear on, and it was almost always snowing when people were leaving. And mom would close the front door for the last time and the hush would return to the house. We'd all gather in the living room and sit quietly in front of the tree for a bit until mom and dad shooed us off to bed so they could put out presents. To this day, I don't understand where they kept them all. Their closet wasn't big enough to keep the bounty that showed up on Christmas morning. Half the living room would be filled, presents spilling out from all around the tree.

Ah, but this post is about Christmas Eve. So, as for my additional menu requests: I'm not Swedish, but I love Swedish meatballs. They have a bit of cinnamon in them. And the onion tart has a bit of nutmeg in it, which pairs well with the caramelized onions.

And, I told mom, we have to have the really tiny sweet pickles in a dish with one of her little appetizer forks to spear them. When I was little, I loved looking for the tiniest sweet pickle in the dish. I was fascinated by how small they were.

My nephew Kyle asked for mock Sliders (that's slang for White Castle hamburgers, for those who don't know). They're made with corned beef and sour cream (almost everything is made with sour cream at this time of year) and onion soup mix, spread on rolls and baked, then topped with hamburger pickles. They taste remarkably like White Castles, only the buns aren't entirely soaked through with grease, as with the original.

My nephew Nick, he of the champagne taste, requested leg of lamb and shrimp. Nick is 12. Nick thinks the next family vacation should be to Barcelona.

Gianna, my niece, concurred with Nick's suggestions. But my sweet-pickle request is a nod to her tastes. She loves them, too.

Sue, my sister-in-law, asked for corn, which is so sweet. Sue loves corn. Sue would probably put corn on her cornflakes in the morning. I'm kidding, of course, but it's exactly what I'd expect her to request. It's one of her favorite things. Corn was one of the vegetables at her and my brother's wedding reception. Mom will make mashed potatoes to go with the leg of lamb and Sue will mix her corn and potatoes together.

I'm not sure if my father requested anything special. But he'll be happy with everything on the menu.

Just to lighten things up a bit, we'll have veggies and dip as a starter. Of course, the dip is made with sour cream, grated onion, and blue cheese. And we'll have a salad with dinner. See? Veggies!

Dessert will be an array of baked goods. Mom and I have been at it for a while now. I finished my baking on Saturday. I didn't count definitively, but given that I made 12 kinds of cookies, and most recipes yield around 48 (some less, some more), and I doubled several of them, tripled others, I'd say there are probably about 700 cookies in my freezer right now. Most will be given away this week, but a stash will remain for our holiday snacking. As if we'll need to snack.

Mom wondered what we should do for Christmas dinner. It'll just be her and me and my dad.

I laughed and said, "Leftovers."

Just Wonderin' ...

I was just poking around the entertainment stories on Yahoo! and noticed a USA Today story about John O'Hurley (a k a J. Peterman and Dancing with the Stars runner-up), his wife, his new son, and his dogs.

John is 52. His wife is 34. That's an 18-year difference. Their son is 12 days old, since the clock just ticked past midnight.

So, I'm wondering: If you're a man, how old is too old to become a father? Theoretically, men can father children up until the day they die. Sure, sperm counts go down, but most men are still capable of makin' babies to a ripe old age.

But should they? At what point do you stop and think to yourself: "Gee, to see my kid's 18th birthday, I have to make it to 70."

Is it irresponsible to father a child after a certain age? Is it fair to set a young child up for losing a parent? I read stories about men becoming fathers in their 60s, and I wonder if they're having children purely out of love, or is there a bit of a quest for immortality goin' on?

I'm not judging. I'm just wonderin'. At some point, women can no longer become pregnant. But men can father children indefinitely. Is this some sort of biological plan to perpetuate the race?

Does this long-term virility explain rampant infidelity?

I was joking when I wrote that question, but maybe there's some truth to it. Maybe men are just biologically programmed to ensure the race's survival.

Or maybe I'm just exhausted and I should be asleep because it's 12:30 in the morning.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Merry Christmas To Me! ...

I am officially done with my Christmas shopping. Everything is purchased and papered and under the tree. (Or in boxes on their way to both coasts.)

My cousin Patty and I enjoy shopping for the "Merry Christmas to Me!" factor: Pick up something for someone on your list, pick up something for yourself. Of course, you can't exercise MCTM in a 1:1 ratio. That would be excessive. But every now and then, a little treat is, well, a nice little treat.

Tonight had a very-much-unplanned MCTM moment.

It starts like this:

Last week, my mom and sister-in-law and I were at a local Italian joint for lunch. Mom spied a lamp in the bar. "I like that lampshade," she said. Mom has been on the lookout for a lamp for a table she's recently introduced to her living room. It was a funky shade, very much Mom.

Now, a lamp might strike you as an odd Christmas gift, but I love buying things for people that they mention in passing. By the time Christmas rolls around, they've usually forgotten that they wanted them, so the surprise factor is high. I did that many years ago to my brother Paul, giving him a Frank Sinatra CD he'd forgotten he wanted. "Hey!," he said when he opened it. "I wanted this!"

So tonight, a bit before 5, before things would start getting busy, I popped into the restaurant to ask the staff if they knew from whence the lamp came. The answer? Bed Bath & Beyond. Last year. On clearance.

Translation: I ain't never gonna find this lamp.

But I tried. Went to BB&B, but also some other stores o' lamps. The shade is really what I'm after. No luck. But mom's birthday is in January. Maybe I'll track it down by then. Maybe not. Maybe she's reading the blog today and I've just blown the surprise.

But as long as I was at BB&B, I popped into Best Buy next door, to look at CDs, because I like looking at CDs, and as I strolled down the aisle, scanning the names of the artists, my eyes fell on a treasure.

The Best of Eddie Money.

Oh yes, I'm being quite serious. "Two Tickets to Paradise," "Take Me Home Tonight," "Think I'm in Love," "Baby Hold On," "I Wanna Go Back," "Shakin'," and many more.

Merry Christmas to Me!

I popped that baby in for the ride home and had the best time, singing at the top of my lungs and drumming out the beats on my steering wheel. I'm sure people stopped alongside me at lights thought I was nuts, but I couldn't care less.

Holy Eddie Money Nostalgia Flashback, Batman!

And come on: check out the hair!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Who Am I? ...

It is December 13th.

As of tonight, I have all but one Christmas present purchased. (I thought I was done, but then, tonight, waiting to pay for what I thought was the last gift, I did some math in my head and realized that I've spent more on my father than my mother, so I need to get her one more thing.)

The Christmas cards went out two weeks ago.

Almost every gift is wrapped and under the tree.

My halls have been decked since right after Thanksgiving.

The baking is more than half done (and that's with making a second batch of oatmeal raisin cookies tonight, which came out pristinely, thank you very much).

The presents for out-of-town friends and family are packed in boxes for shipping, taped up, labeled, and ready to go to the post office tomorrow.

All stocking stuffers are ready to be stuffed into stockings.

I've made snowflakes with the kids and we've had our annual viewing of "A Pinky and The Brain Christmas." (A must-see if you've never seen it.)

I'm almost done with the Christmas CD I want to tuck into my cookie assortments, which will be delivered next week.

I actually put a lit Christmas decoration on my front porch this year, a pretty little pre-lit tree in an urn. (This doesn't sound like a feat until you learn that I have no outlets on the front of my house. Ah, nothing says "Christmas" like a heavy-duty bright orange extension cord strung around the house.)

The wreath has been hung on the gable end of my garage.

And Christmas is nearly two whole weeks away.

What's up with that? I am never this on top of things at this point in December.

I bought my first Christmas gift in New York in October. I wasn't planning on Christmas shopping that day as Patty and I poked around her neighborhood in Brooklyn, but we tucked into one of her favorite shops and there it was, the perfect gift just waiting to be purchased. So maybe that set the tone for my with-it-ness.

OK, time for bed. I'll probably have visioins of sugar plums dancing in my head. I am ALL about Christmas this year. Why am I not stressed out like I am every other year?

Oh!, Now It All Makes Sense ...

When my relationships end, they end. I rarely stay in touch with exes. One notable exception is College Boyfriend David, who remains in my life in a tangential way. Or maybe in an occasional way. We don't see each other often. We don't talk of the phone often. We don't e-mail often. We don't even IM often. But he's there. And I'm here. And every so often, we get back in touch.

I thought G and I might stay friends, but that didn't happen. I wonder, in breakups such as ours, if a friendship is to commence, if the onus is on the breakupper to reach out to the breakupee? It would seem so. In any event, we traded a couple IMs after things were over, and I saw him one day on Michigan Avenue, but that was that.

I suppose this is not unique, really. It's probably just too difficult, emotionally, to downshift from relationship to friendship. The friendship will be forever colored by what came before it. I guess it all depends on the people involved.

But the other day, I received an e-mail which may explain all of my relationship challenges to date:

"From: Kurtdmppk@[redacted]
Subject: Increase the buldge in your pants
Date: December 3, 2006 8:10:53 AM CST
To: soderd@[redacted]
Cc: bethkujawski@earthlink.net, tccampbellbtid@[redacted]


You need a bigger dick.
Get it right here: [redacted]

sherlock thereto be. latinate bilharziasis abort obituary not a bruce belshazzar !"

If anyone would like that URL, let me know. ; o )

Monday, December 11, 2006

I'm Exhauszzzzzzzzzzz ...

To paraphrase Lloyd Bridges in "Airplane," "Looks like I picked the wrong week to recommit to an exercise program."

When the weather turns wonky, my motivation to bundle up and go for a walk wanes. Like when it's raining. Or when it's 9. Yeah, 9. It was 9 a few days ago.

So last week, I had all the best intentions of exercising on my mom's treadmill every morning. But work was crazy, and I never did get over there. So this weekend, I renewed my vow. And this morning, I woke up before my alarm went off, and I got dressed and put in my contacts and went there to walk. Which I did. For as long as I could stand it. The satellite TV isn't hooked up in their basement presently, and I didn't bring my iPod. So it was a short walk. But I vowed that I'd get serious about it tomorrow.

Tomorrow arrives in five minutes. I'm still awake. I just got done baking for the night (peanut butter and chocolate chocolate chip raspberry-filled cookies were on tonight's to-do list) and making my kitchen look a little less like it was hit by a tornado. Not that I washed the dishes, mind you. Screw the dishes. They'll still be dirty in the morning.

So what are the chances that I'm gonna haul my butt out of bed tomorrow at 6:30 to exercise? That's right. Proably nil. I could find some resolve, but I don't think it's gonna want to get out of bed either.

We'll see. But I think I'll plan on walking when the baking's done.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Bigger Picture ...

Well, I am just too proud of myself.

Mom raised me to be humble, but when I rock, I'm sorry, I rock. And tonight, I rock.

I jumped into the holiday cookie-baking craziness today. I made one dough that needs to chill overnight, and then I made Snickerdoodles - the best name for a cookie ever - and then I made Russian Teacakes.

And while I relish my cookie-baking ability, now that I have my cookie blog, I am compelled to photograph the completed cookies in order to post art along with the blog entries.

This is where the fun begins. Yes, it's fun to bake cookies. But it's more fun to extend that effort into photo shoots. I have an inner food stylist.

What I don't have is a little photography studio in which to photograph my cookies.

But I do have a laptop with an on-board camera and some decent photo-editing software. And a desk lamp that's useful as an extra light source. And, turns out, I have a well-stocked kitchen when it comes to props for composing photographs. And I have a creative brain that works on non-creative things all week for work, so when a creative opportunity presents itself, the creativity flows forth.

So this is the shot that's posted with tonight's blog entry and Snickerdoodle recipe. And I have another shot all set to go for the Russian Teacakes, an entirely different feel.

I so look forward to the creative challenge of styling each photograph to suit the cookie subject. Creativity. Ah, creativity. It's like coming up for air.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Dreaming Of Me ...

Some people insist they don't dream.

I don't believe them. I think that your brain's gotta be doin' something for those hours that you're not playing video games or watching porn. (Not that that's what I do during my waking hours. I don't own a video game. Badump bump!)

But I dream all the time, and often, I remember them. In great detail.

Take last night's:

L.A. Dave and I were walking around Chicago, though we were in parts of Chicago I've never seen before. So maybe it wasn't really Chicago, but it was meant to be Chicago. In my dream. Oh, just go with me, here.

But L.A. Dave was walking with a cane, which might be a little bit of "House" creeping into my dream, because I am one smitten kitten when it comes to Hugh Laurie, as you know.

We walked up to an outdoor Starbucks and Dave went right to the counter. I tapped him on the shoulder and pointed to the line he'd just cut in front of. As if there'd be a Starbucks without a line? I wonder now if the people in the lines at the Starbucks are actors, plants, perpetually standing in line to make the place look busy and drive up the desirablity.

But I digress. Somehow, Dave, who doesn't drink coffee in the waking world, scored a grande mocha, and we stopped by a table (like you would to doctor up your drink and grab a napkin in a real Starbucks) at which point Dave poured out some of his mocha and asked a Starbucks guy to top him off with some regular coffee, which the guy did, since he was holding a carafe of it and pouring coffee for people.

We continued on our way, but now I was drinking the mocha and we walked out of Marshall Field's which looked a lot like museum when we were inside, at which point I stumbled because there were four stairs leading to the sidewalk. I managed, however, to a) not fall, and b) only slightly slosh my mocha. I told Dave it was because as I took the first step onto nothingness, my brain remembered that there were stairs there, so I kind of jumped down the rest of the way.

Yeah, I have no idea what any of it means, either. But wait. It gets weirder.

So we're walking down this lovely tree-lined street. In my dream, it was Chicago Avenue, but that Chicago Avenue doesn't have a park alongside it. So we're walking along and I'm talking about "Kiss of the Spider Woman" (one of my real, favorite movies for William Hurt's performance) and just as I finish my sentence, I see William Hurt, across an intersection, walking toward us, staring right at me.

The three of us converged at the corner.

"Mr. Hurt," I said, as we shook hands. "Thank you."

He gave me a nod and said, "You're welcome," in that sensational voice of his.

And on he went. I continued on with Dave, but then realized I should have told William Hurt about how much I love "Kiss of the Spider Woman," so I handed my mocha to Dave and started to run after him. As I caught up with him, he turned to me. I told him I had something else I meant to tell him, but he was about to get on a bus. Yes, a bus.

So I got on the bus with him, turning over my shoulder to Dave and saying, "I'll find you." We paid our fares and stood on the crowded bus and he looked at me, waiting for what it was I had to say,

And I told him about how much I loved "Kiss of the Spider Woman," and he took my hand and got teary-eyed and said that he'll never shred that film because it helped make him who he is today.

Shred. He used the word shred. Do people shred films? Is film shreddable?

He saw some seats open up, so we took them. It was like a bench seat, black vinyl, facing the back of the bus. And as we're sitting there, Robin Williams sits down on the other side of him.

Yeah, Robin Williams is taking the bus, too. (It's like "Moscow on the Hudson," but not.)

And I say, "Oh, my GOD. The TWO of you should make a movie together. All of my favorite actors should make a movie together."

At which point, William Hurt stands up and bumps into a man with salt-and-pepper hair, who says, as if trying to be clever, "Are you bumpin' into me?" a la Travis Bickle from "Taxi Driver."

Robin Williams and I look at each other.

And I say, "That guy's no DeNiro."

Seriously, let's slap some electrodes to my head and record this stuff!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Time Well Spent ...

Had a long dream about Springsteen last night.

(Dreamy sigh.)

Will someone please come up with the technology that will allow me to record my dreams and watch them when I wake up?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Creative Process ...

Well, what a good day it's been.

This morning, I sent a note to friends and family and co-workers and former co-workers and others who have made it into my computer's address book about the new blog, and the traffic's been terrific. Which is lovely. I've had nearly 100 hits today on The Cookie Queen's English. Some of those can be attributed to me as I refreshed the page while trying to figure out some formatting issues, but the note went out to 87 people, so clearly, there's been a whole lot of clickin' goin' on.

For which I am very grateful.

Last night, I told L.A. Dave about the new blog and he asked me which food persons I admire. The first name that sprang to mind was Ina Garten. I adore Ina. She's a real person who makes real food in her real kitchen. She cooks because she loves to cook, but, more importantly, she cooks because she loves the people for whom she's cooking.

That's the key. People ask me what I do to my cookies to make them taste the way they do. My cheeky answer, which I've given only in my head, is "LSD." But the real answer is love. Truly. Yes, I know it's sappy. But it's true. When you prepare something for someone because you love them, or even just like them a lot (because the word "love" seems to make some people uneasy), they can taste it.

Cooking is alchemy, it's more than science. There are intangibles that can make or break a dish. I don't bake when I'm upset because I know I'll screw things up. Butter shouldn't be creamed in vain.

In my Internet wanderings today, I came across a site by a woman who calls herself the Cookie Queen. She sells cookies. She does not post her recipes. Trade secrets. She doesn't want to share her how-tos lest someone copy her methods.

Which made me wonder if I should post my recipes on the other site, and then I realized that my recipes aren't secrets. They're not recipes I've developed. They're widely available. My oatmeal-raisin cookie recipe is the recipe inside the lid of the Quaker Oats box. Not exactly hard to come by.

I was singing earlier, some tunes that I want to lay down the next time I have a play date with Brian (and Bill's microphone). And I was reminded of a show I once saw in which a woman was telling her students that it's entirely possible to sing a song technically, but to really bring a song to life, they have to think about the lyrics they're singing.

I suspect that it's easier for singer/songwriters to connect with their material, but it's certainly not hard to listen to the story of a song and relate to it in some way. "Your Smiling Face" by James Taylor just shuffled up in my iTunes. I can sing the lyrics without thinking about them, the song is so ingrained in my head. But when I think of one specific person whose smile I adore and then sing the song, I sing it differently.

It's nifty. Try it sometime.

I think we've all become too busy. Last night on the news, I heard the statistic that many kids have 20 hours of activities scheduled into their lives every week on top of school and homework. Which means that moms and dads are spending a lot of time taking those kids to and fro on top of their already-hectic schedules of commuting and working and running households.

Throw a few cellphones and Blackberries into the mix and our free time can all but vanish.

Unless we free it up again.

Tonight, I sent Jay a picture of the sunset I was seeing out my office window. It was spectacular. Pink and purple and orange, behind the shadows of the trees. He replied, "WOW. Gorgeous. The sort of sunset that makes you glad you're alive."

And I replied, "Exactly. And it's already gone. Nice metaphor for life. Enjoy it. It's fleeting."

I try to do things with more intention these days. It's hard. But I'm trying to be entirely focused on whomever I'm speaking with on the phone, instead of e-mailiing or IMing in tandem. I try to eat more slowly. I try to be fully engaged in whatever I'm doing in the moment I'm doing it, give my brain a chance to downshift, trying to witness the time as it passes instead of waking up and wondering where another week, another month, another year has gone.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Cookie Queen's English ...

I have a new blog!

My word, it's like giving birth to a child. Without the pain. And gore. Not that I would know.

On the heels of Writing It Down, the post below, my friend Jay wrote to me because Blogger's comments were misbehaving, and in replying to him, a cookie-shaped lightbulb went off over my head.

I need a cookie blog, I said to myself.

Holiday baking season is upon us. And blogs that capture the attention of publishers are blogs on single topics. Not that I don't love Finding My Voice for the opportunities it affords me to prattle on about whatever moves me. But for the love of God, if there's even the slightest chance that I can make this blogging thing pay off in some sustained way? Well, then, I'm reachin' for the brass cookie, kids.

I'm most recently inspired by Jennifer McCann's site, Vegan Lunch Box. It began as a blog about the lunches she prepared for her son.

She recently published a book by the same name.

Jennifer is charming and creative and clearly one of the best moms ever (check out her blog; it's so adorable it's almost overwhelming).

So what Jennifer can do for vegan lunchboxes, I can do for cookies, right?

Right.

So, without further ado, update your bookmarks and site feeds for The Cookie Queen's English, a blog about this year's holiday baking season ... and beyond.

With a new post every 12 minutes.

No, not really.

Writing It Down ...

On online pal Steff's site, The Last Ditch, I read a post about writing. She began:

"I'm having a hard time coming to terms with writing of late. I think this is an ongoing thing, I doubt it's going anyplace fast. I love it, I hate it, then I hate it some more, but it compels me, and being a bear of little spine, I allow myself to be so compelled.

I have a book I read from time to time to remind me of what it is I get from writing. It's an anthology called Why I Write and it has a hell of a mix of writers in it, everyone from Norman Mailer and Denis Johnson (who my fiction has been compared to, whoo-hoo) through to Pat Conroy and William Vollmann. The passages are widely varying depending on the author, but the gist of them comes down to why, indeed, they write.

I ask myself that a lot. Why bother? I don't get anything out of this."

Reading Steff's post got me to thinking about writing, and a scene from the movie "Shadowlands" popped into my head. ("Shadowlands," if you don't know, is based on the life of C.S. Lewis, who wrote "The Chronicles of Narnia." "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe" is one of my favorite books, one that I've read several times. And I don't usually read books more than once. They have to be exceptional to entice me to return.) In the scene, Anthony Hopkins, as Lewis, says of praying, "That's not why I pray, Harry. I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God, it changes me."

Today, I realized that's how I feel about writing. I don't write because I want to write or because I expect some grand reward. I write because it's who I am. It is my means of self-exploration.

And yet, as with all omnipresent things, I take it for granted, a la "You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone."

I am in awe of my friends who can write songs becasue I can't write songs. Or perhaps I can. But I've never tried.

Dave and I once had a conversation about his abilities as a composer. Dave is very modest, but he's terrificially talented. Gifted. And what I conveyed to him, that night, was that his ability with music is remarkable because it's rare. Most everyone, to some degree, can write with words. The results may not be particularly poignant or eloquent, but most can put words together to make an intended message understood. Very few, however, can communicate through music. And Dave doesn't have the benefit of lyrics. All his music is instrumental. He has no words at his disposal. (Though in his non-composing life, he is a very good writer.)

In a post at the end of October, I wrote this:

"For the longest time, I didn't consider writing one of my talents. It's just something I do. And I do without effort. Words just flow from me. I rarely stop to think about how to write. Writing just happens. And it's because of that ease that I never considered that my writing might be worthwhile. Something so easy can't have value, right? We don't pat ourselves on the back for breathing."

I need to be more in awe of what it means to write, to write well. I'm grateful for my abilty, but I don't think I fully value it as a gift. And I haven't pushed myself to hone my talent in other writing arenas.

I marvel at authors of fiction. I love the idea of writing a novel, but I don't think I'm a novelist. I've tried writing short fiction but to weave together all the threads of a novel? I don't know if I have the knack.

Speaking of short stories, some people think that short fiction is a cop-out. I couldn't disagree more. Short fiction is its own niche. It's very challenging to write tightly enough to convey a whole story in a handful of pages. Novelists can and do prattle on ("The Corrections," anyone?), but writers of short fiction need to develop a story quickly and concisely.

Much of what I've tried to create as fiction relies heavily on dialogue, which made me realize that perhaps I'm better suited to writing screenplays. Well, screenplay. I'm only working on one.

Someday, I'll finish it. And then, someday, I hope to have another idea.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Making Christmas ...

Well, it's cold like a mutha. We're barely into December, and the wind chill's in the single digits. Last week, it was in the 60s. Ah, winter in Chicagoland. Of course, it's not officially winter yet, but why split hairs?

I had plans yesterday to meet a long-lost friend, but when I called her in the morning, she sounded as though she'd just been hit by a Peterbilt. She was too sick to get together, and that was fine with me. Not fine that she was sick, but fine that we were scrapping our plans. It was cold. And I was feeling very nesty.

So I stayed in my comfy clothes and wrapped presents. I love wrapping presents. Picking the right paper for the right person, making the edges nice and crisp. And curling ribbon. I've mentioned my curling ribbon addiction in the past.

At Gemma and Dave's shower just over a week ago, Gemma commented that she'd know my packages anywhere because of the bows. All the women in attendance perked up and wanted to know how I make them. I told them that I'll host a bow-making demonstration some day.

Yesterday, I had 10 or so spools of ribbon on the kitchen counter, my wrapping station. I pulled all the holiday-ish colors out of my ribbon drawer in the closet off my office. But even with 10 options, I needed more. There are colors and hues of colors that I lack. Maybe they're not manufactured. But they should be.

I was going to begin the holiday baking, but I just wasn't feeling the baking vibe. Baking is a peculiar thing for me. When I'm in the zone, I'm in the zone. I turned out six loaves of bread on Thanksgiving morning. But when I'm not feeling it, I don't even try. Have you ever read or watched "Like Water for Chocolate"? I believe that your emotions go into your food. So if I don't feel the baking and try to force it, things just don't turn out. So what's the point? Half-assed baked goods have no place in my life.

But the zen of cookies will kick in. I can knock out my baking in a couple of days if I need to. Exhausting days, those, baking from 9 a.m. to 10 at night. But very productive. And then I cram the cookie tins into my freezer, and fill in with Ziploc bags.

Today, my mom and I went in search of Christmas ornaments (or "ormanents," as my niece used to call them). I came up empty-handed. How can it be this hard for me to find Christmas ornaments I like? Do I have to make those, too? But mom knocked out a couple of the people on her gift list. It's always a good thing to shop when you're not specifically looking for something. That's when appropriate gifts seem to appear.

Right now, I'm watching "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer." Clarice is singing to Rudolph. Harumph. Clarice is hooked up. A doe for every deer, I guess. But Hermie's looking kinda attractive. He wants to be a dentist. He'll have a good trade. He has good hair ...

Earlier, L.A. Dave and I were discussing Rudolph, and I once again said I want to know what's wrong with the doll in the Land of Misfit Toys. Dave went to the source of all knowledge - Wikipedia - to find the answer. Wikipedia failed him, but he kept searching, and the best he could find was that the doll's problem was "psychological." Well, what's that mean? Depression, bi-polar disorder? Schizophrenia?

Sam the Snowman has just said, "Yes sir, our friends were really on their way. Not one of them knew where they were going."

But then, who of us really do?

Smart snowman, that Sam.

Friday, December 01, 2006

'An Inconvenient Truth' ...

I meant to see this movie when it was in the theaters.

As with most releases, I didn't get around to it. But maybe that's for the best. I would have had to drive to the theater, and the energy used to heat and cool and light a megaplex is far less than I used tonight.

It is a staggering film. Jaw-dropping. Infuriating.

I blogged about the gist of the film before, but now that I've seen the movie, I have more to say.

First of all: Watch it. Rent it. Buy it. Borrow it from a friend. But see this movie.

Afraid of being preached to? It's not preachy. It's informative. And it's information everyone needs.

There are statistics that astonish. For example, in one lifetime, the population of the planet will explode from 2 billion to 9 billion people. And all those people will require more energy resources for heating, cooling, and transportation. And they will require more food resources. And animals contribute to global warming from methane emissions. This isn't a plug for veganism, but if we all cut back on meat consumption, even just a bit, we'd spare a lot of methane, and spare a lot of animals' lives in the process.

Too attached to your steak? OK, there are other things you can do. You can recycle. You can turn your thermostat down a few degrees in the winter or up a few in the summer. You can unplug things you're not using. I don't use my blower dryer every day, but even if I did, 20 minutes a day, six days a week, that's only two hours a week. But I used to keep it plugged in all the time. Drawing energy 168 hours a week, even though I only needed it for a few minutes a week. So now, I keep it unplugged and put away. I get it out when I need it. I don't make coffee every morning (baffling, I know), so I keep my coffee pot unplugged and simply plug it in when I use it, unplugging it when I'm done. If I'm going to run errands and be out of the house for a couple hours, I shut down my computer instead of just letting it go to sleep.

You don't have to unplug things you use every day, like lamps. But you can replace the incandescent bulbs with compact flourescent bulbs. (They're on my list of things to pick up on the next trip to Home Depot.)

But you get the idea. Solving the global warming crisis doesn't demand that we give up our cars (though I try to walk my shorter errands; better for the planet, better for my butt) or grow our own vegetables (though buying organic from local growers is a good idea for all involved). It's the little things we can all do every day that will barely cause a blip on our collective effort radar that will save the planet.

Of course, there are people who won't do their share. These are the same people who run stop signs and cut in lines. So those of us who care can do a little extra. But then, we'd do a little extra anyway.

But see the movie. Understand, fully, what's at stake. And understand, fully, how we can arrest this crisis before the planet is doomed.

Don't wait for your neighbor to do something. It's not just up to them. It's up to you. It's up to all of us.

We all live under the same sky.