Monday, January 31, 2011

Winter ...

The winter storm warning has been canceled.

And replaced with a blizzard warning instead.

Have I mentioned that I'm tired of winter?

This morning, after finding my car with its battery dead, I changed my plans for the day. I walked to the store instead of driving, which was good because I bought less than I otherwise might have, given that I had to tote it home by hand. I stuck to the essentials: Milk. Eggs. Ham. Turkey. Mouse traps. 72% chocolate. Heavy cream. (I might have an uninvited mouse visitor, and one never knows when the need for emergency ganache may arise. It's best to be prepared.)

Side note: Isn't it, like, a law that folks have to keep sidewalks clear? I cannot tell you how much snow and ice I traversed this morning on the way to the store. C'mon, people. Try harder. If you're too old or infirm to shovel, flip a quarter at the neighbor kid. And then hand him a fiver, because nobody works for a quarter anymore.

Anyway, so, I'm home, not intentionally waiting for the storm to arrive, but waiting nonetheless. Waiting while writing. Waiting while doing laundry (just as soon as I start doing laundry). Waiting while reading. So many books, and a sudden gift of time.

I am no fan of storms. And I've had my fill of snow. It started snowing early this season, so we've had a couple of months of the white stuff on the ground. I'm fine with the occasional skim coat of snow, just enough to blanket the dirty piles and freshen it up out there.

But 12-18 inches? No, I could do without that. I really should have bought a roof rake at some point. It'd come in handy this week.

I have a huge window in my dining room, and it's nice to watch the flakes on snowy days. It feels a bit like being inside a snow globe. And I pad around the house in comfy clothes with a scarf around my neck for an extra measure of cozy and sip coffee and write and read and bake and watch movies and think about how grateful I am to have a warm home.

But I also fret, though I know fretting is fruitless. I don't like anyone being out in such weather. I hope that the homeless are safe in shelters and I want everyone I know to be safely inside. Driving in winter weather is very near the top of my list of things I hate to do. A spinout on a snow-packed highway years ago left an indelible mental mark. I'm rather white-knuckle-y now when it comes to driving in snow.

So, stay put if you can, please. Well, run to the store first. Get some milk and eggs, at least. Hopefully, you have no need for mouse traps.

But holler if you need ganache.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

More True Now Than Then ...

I was just searching past posts for a particular reference and
this post came up in the results.

I know a lot of people didn't like Eat, Pray, Love. Some found it indulgent. Others found it vexing.

But I really liked it, partly because I think my writing style is very similar to Liz Gilbert's writing style, and hey, if she can write an international bestseller ... .

I also really liked it because of this passage, though, a conversation between Liz and her new friend Richard (who calls her Groceries because of how much she can eat):

"I think the reason it's so hard for me to get over this guy is because I seriously believed David was my soul mate."

"He probably was. Your problem is you don't understand what that word means. People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that's what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that's holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you'll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with your soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then they leave. And thank God for it. Your problem is, you just can't let this one go. It's over, Groceries. David's purpose was to shake you up ... tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light could get in ... . That was his job, and he did great, but now it's over. Problem is, you can't accept that this relationship had a real short shelf life. You're like a dog at the dump, baby — you're just lickin' at an empty tin can, trying to get more nutrition out of it. And if you're not careful, that can's gonna get stuck on your snout forever and make your life miserable. So drop it."

"But I love him."

"So love him."

"But I miss him."

"So miss him. Send him some love and light every time you think of him, and then drop it. You're just afraid to let go of the last bits of David because then you'll really be alone ... . But here's what you gotta understand, Groceries. If you clear out all that space in your mind that you're using right now to obsess about this guy, you'll have a vacuum up there, an open spot — a
doorway. And guess what the universe will do with that doorway? It will rush in ... and fill you with more love than you ever dreamed. So stop using David to block that door. Let it go."

"But I wish me and David could —"

He cuts me off. "See, now, that's your problem. You're wishin' too much, baby. You gotta stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone oughtta be."


I included that passage in my original post, which I wrote in December 2007.

In October 2010, I finally, finally said goodbye to a similar situation in my life.

And damn if things didn't change.

I had tethered myself to a futile notion, confined myself to a radius of confusion, making excuses and allowances that were never right.

I had convinced myself that the pain of letting go would be too much to bear. But the real pain came from holding on.

So I said goodbye. I let go of the tether. And realized that now I have the whole world to roam.

I do think of him from time to time. And I do just like Richard said: I send him some light and love and then drop it.

I'm grateful to have known him, grateful that he brought me to my own attention.

Life is even better now.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Illumination And Warmth ...

I'm in the midst of a nesting jag.

I'm never disinclined to do something housey, but some days, the desire is more strong.

I've been flitting about lately, looking for fabric, looking for chairs, looking for lamps, striking out. Can my tastes be that specific? Can it really be so hard? And don't even get me started on rugs.

But in a previous fit of nestiness, I was poking around the internets and spied a lamp. A floor lamp. Ooh.

I bookmarked the page. And put it out of my mind. Did I really need it? No. I had a floor lamp. It worked. But it wasn't right. Function? Check. Form? Not so much.

But last week, I went back to the site and the lamp was on sale! Or more on sale than it had been before. No one pays full price on the internets.

So I ordered it. And then I checked the tracking information somewhat obsessively in the ensuing days. Why was it sitting in Hutchins, Texas? Or why hadn't FedEx updated its information in two days? My lamp, stranded.

But yesterday, it arrived! In a box that looked a little worse for the wear, but still.

Amusingly, the FedEx guy left a Delivery Notice stuck to my front door to inform me that I had a delivery by my front door, both of which I saw when I opened my front door. Thanks, FedEx guy. If I hadn't seen the sticky note on my storm door, I might not have noticed the big box sitting just outside it.

I slit the tape and immediately started fending off static-y bits of Styrofoam. I lifted out the shade and noticed a big ol' dent. I pushed it out. All seemed OK. I noticed another dent, smaller. Pushed that one out, too.

I assembled the lamp (some who had reviewed it mentioned that the pieces didn't fit together properly; they must be unfamiliar with the concept of twisting, because mine fit together just fine) and screwed in two bulbs (it's a two-socket lamp). Pulled one chain! Light! Pulled the other chain! Nothing. Crap.

No, wait. Bad light bulb.

Replaced bulb. Ta da!

I vacuumed off all the Styrofoamy bits and unwrapped the shade, pulling, pulling, pulling cellophane like a magician with an endless string of scarves. Yes, I could have cut it, but what if I needed to rewrap the shade to send it back? The evidence of the dents remained as slight creases on the inside of the shade, but they were near the seam, which I'd be cheating to the wall anyway. So I decided the lamp would stay.

I bought it to go with Angelo's chair. They're very happy together. See?


I wrote to the seller to let him know about the dented shade, to suggest that perhaps they'd want to ship future lamps inside bigger boxes with bits of buffer. He replied almost instantaneously to apologize and offered a) to have the lamp picked up or b) a discount.

In my original note, I mentioned that the damage wasn't bad enough for me to make a return, but I thought the offer of a discount was kind, and I thanked him.

To which he replied to ask how much I'd like.

Oh. I figured he'd propose a number. I asked if he thought 20 percent was fair. And a while later, I received notice of a refund for just over 20 percent. Nicely played, sir. Nicely played. Way to ensure a good review.

So I'm happy, the lamp is happy, Angelo's chair is happy, and I saved 20 percent.

Next up, the shade for the $5 lamp. Now that I know where the lamp will live, I do believe Shade No. 1 is the winner. I still love Shade No. 6, but a closer inspection of the pattern left me less interested. I'm not a huge fan of complex printed patterns. They look lovely from a distance but they rarely hold up up close.

Not that most people will examine this lampshade closely, but I'll know it's not exactly what I want. And the grey will pick up on the rug solution I've finally settled on, which isn't a rug but FLOR carpet tiles of which I will purchase two types to achieve this nifty checkerboard effect:


I've always wanted a black and white checkered floor, and someday I shall have it, but in the meantime, the grey will play nicely with the wood floors in that room along with the furniture, one piece of which has a rather patterny pattern on it, so I think it's in everyone's best interests that any rug-type solution stay somewhat neutral.

It's amusing to me that after 10 years, that room is finally on it's way to being "complete," even as there are many other things in there I'd like to do, and even as no room is ever truly done. But I'll be happy with it for the time being.

As with everything in my life, it seems, it takes me a while, but I eventually get where I'm going.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Clearing ...

I don't know how it began.

Innocently, I'm sure, as many things do.

I walked into the closet adjacent to my office. To fetch something? To put something away? I can't recollect.

But one thing led to another and hours later, many hours later, I was still at it, sorting, purging, looking up resources for recycling video tape.

My shredder has taken ill, no doubt having taken notice of the massive stacks of bills and canceled checks piled on top of my desk. Why, no, I don't need to keep things from 1998. Though the shredding will have to wait.

In the meantime, though, walking into my closet is heavenly. So much space. So much empty space. Granted, that's due in part to all the stuff that formerly resided in the closet which is now scattered about my home, but I will recycle what I can and pack away what I can for a garage sale someday after the thaw, proceeds to go toward my 3-Day fundraising, so if you stop by, please don't dicker to save a quarter.

And so, I return to it today. It's been a fascinating process. I've discovered things I'd forgotten I owned. There's nothing like decorating your home without spending a dime.

And hello, Rolodex! What a spinny chronicle of a few years of my life.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Pie And Other Flavors ...

First, let's get today's business out of the way: Today is National Pie Day. It is also, more specifically, National Rhubarb Pie Day. I don't understand rhubarb. It looks like red celery. I understand that it doesn't taste like celery, but every time I hear of rhubarb pie, I can't help but think of celery pie, and who would want to eat that?

But the day has set me to thinking about my favorite kind of pie. My first thought goes to apple, but then, the more I ruminate on the varieties of pies, I my brain arrives at Key lime and then banana cream and then coconut cream. But what of pumpkin? So many pies.

I don't consume pie often. I want one piece of pumpkin around Thanksgiving. Not necessarily on Thanksgiving. I'm often too full to enjoy dessert, so I hold off for a day or two, for a time when I can really savor it.

Once, out to lunch with my mom, I was faced with the impossible choice of banana cream or coconut cream pie. I asked the waitress if I could have half-slices of each. She obliged. Such happiness, the existence of my co-favorite flavors on one plate.

Recently, on menu, I spied "deconstructed" banana cream pie. Sigh. Chefs, do not try to fancy up pie. Pie is pie. Pie is humble. Pie is homey. Pie is comforting. Pie is not fancy. Even fancy pies – the over-embellished French silks and the Matterhorn-topped lemon meringues – are not fancy. They retain their humble roots.

So, pie. Have some pie. Amid the day's nachos and Cheetos and other quasi-foods that end in "-os," find some time for a tiny bit of refinement and take up a fork and enjoy some pie.

Now then, yesterday. Yesterday was National Blonde Brownie Day, and aside from patting myself on the back for quipping, "Anyone know any good dumb blonde brownie jokes?", I had nothing to do with blonde brownies. Blonde brownies are not brownies. They're blondies. Blonde brownie is an oxymoron. Brownies are brown. Period.

But this part of the story has nothing to do with brownies.

Every so often, my brain lands in a creative, house-y place and I venture forth to look for fabric or lamps or whatever bit of decor is calling to me at the time.

The search for fabric is stretching on for what feels like an eternity. Among hundreds of bolts of upholstery fabric last week, I found one that I liked. And I didn't buy it in the end.

Yesterday's sojourn was equally fruitless. I found a fabric I really liked, but the scale of the print was too large for a throw pillow. I didn't want to center one element of the fabric on each pillow and call it a day. It was too beautiful to not be enjoyed more fully. So I passed. No point in trying to force it.

Interestingly (to me, anyway), the fabric contained a color that I've never considered for use in my home. Just a bit of it, just an accent, but just the same, peacock blue? Really?

Have I met me?

Peacock blue? (For those of you who may be asking, "What the hell is peacock blue?", here's an image. Yes, the best example I can find of the color is a pair of Crocs. So, hey, good on the Croc people.)

Really, this should come as no surprise to myself, as when I was younger, my favorite Crayola colors were Green Blue and Blue Green, which is no wonder, given that I also cannot decide between banana cream pie and coconut cream pie. I didn't want to have to choose between blue and green. I wanted both, please. But Green Blue had the edge when I was younger, being more blue than green. I was very fond of blue when I was younger, but not true blue. Greenish blue. And now, green is my favorite color, hands down. Also, I had blue eyes when I was younger and now they're green. My tastes and my irises have morphed.

At the next store, I spied a peacock-blue accent chair. I didn't buy it, but I'm pleased to have returned to my childhood fondness for the blue-green/green-blue family of hues. Those colors may not become part of my home, but I wouldn't be surprised if they become part of my wardrobe.

That's right, my friends who know me to wear primarily black and grey and drab greens, I may show up one day in a shirt that's peacock blue.

Perhaps we should meet for pie.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

'Cowboy del Amor' ...

My pal Bruce knows that I'm always up for a good documentary, so he passes along recommendations from time to time.

This morning, he sent a note telling me about "Cowboy del Amor," the story of a cupid in a cowboy hat who fixes up willing Mexican women with lonely American men.

Bruce wrote, in part:

"I found myself bewildered, amused, disgusted, and sympathetic, but I was never bored. An interesting -- and sometimes compelling -- tale of a strange business.

The film certainly raises a lot of questions: What makes a good marriage? Why are American men so lonely they will go to another country to look for companionship? Are American women too difficult to please? What happens to these people after the cameras have left?"


Yup, good questions, indeed.

So tonight, I called it up on Netflix and clicked Play.

And 20 minutes later, I turned it off. And wrote back to Bruce.

This is what I had to say:

"(Let me preface all of this with the statement that I have no qualms with the fact that you suggested this movie to me, so don't take what I'm about to say personally.)

OK, I watched 20 minutes of it before I had to turn it off.

You're right that it raises a lot of questions, but the fact that these men stay so narrowly focused on a woman's waist size disgusts me. The ad that went in the paper said any candidate couldn't be more than 130 pounds, then that was lowered to 120 pounds when the translator was on the phone. A woman who was 82 kilos was called "a woman and a half." If 60 kilos is 120, then 82 kilos is 164, which isn't very heavy.

And even if it was, the fact that he says he's a sincere person and just wants to find someone to love, but anyone who's more than 120 pounds is unworthy of even consideration?

I'm sick to death of the objectification of women. Men don't seem to want mates. They want trophies. I blame, in part, shows like 'According to Jim': somewhat oafish, not particularly attractive guy is married to beautiful, skinny, smart woman.

It's like all men think they deserve that, even if they don't bring many things to the table themselves.

Ugh."


I've written about this before. And I don't expect anything is going to change. With most men. Not all men.

But as I wrote in another post:

"... the man who wrote the article for the Telegraph, bless his well-intentioned heart, will never be able to understand the complexities of what women go through, because so much of what we go through is caused by men who don't grasp how much damage they're causing every time they cast aside a woman because she's not thin enough or not beautiful enough.

Those actions might seem insignificant from the men's perspectives, but they are not glancing blows for most women. Most women end up on the mat after taking one of those hits. Yes, we get up eventually, but the effect is cumulative. The damage lasts."


Rick, the one and only man I witnessed looking for love in tonight's doc (so long as that potential love was skinny), seemed like a pretty average guy. Somewhere in middle age, glasses, bald, average face, decent build. I don't doubt that he's an adequate human being. But my ears perked up when he told one woman on the phone that his marriage ended because his wife went through the change of life and wasn't the same person anymore.

Ivan, Mr. Cowboy, waved his arms and made slashing marks across his throat to get Rick to shut the hell up, and that was too bad. I'd have been interested to know just how Rick's ex wasn't the same: Had she gained weight? Had hormones affected her moods? Had she evolved as a person and realized she and the man to whom she was married wanted different things?

And speaking of things, when Rick tells his Mexican prospects that American women want too many things, what does he mean? Material things? Attention? Equality?

Methinks men and women have very different reactions to this film. If you've seen it or someday see it, let me know what you thought or think.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Reclaiming The Past ...

I wasn't sure if I should leave the house.

The weather was threatening both rain and snow. "ICY" read the weather graphic. Icy. No, thank you. I had occasion to drive on an iced-over surface last year and the ensuing damage to a part of my car I couldn't even see cost me a few hundred bucks to fix.

But the weather wasn't due to arrive just yet, and I had been puttering about the house for the past couple hours, moving things here and there, deciding that I couldn't possibly live with the throw pillow on the chair in the corner of the dining room another day. Ir's too cute. I'm done with cute. Not all things cute, but that pillow? Its time had come. Sayonara, pillow. Nice knowing you. Thanks for all your pillowy existence, but your number's up.

I also decided that I wanted to put a chair next to the little chest of drawers in the entryway, but I didn't like the chair I put there. No, I would need a new chair.

And a lamp. Possibly two lamps. And a lampshade. For a third lamp.

So, off I went.

I don't have to tell you that I bought none of those things. But then, I didn't want to travel too far from home.

First stop on the outing: Goodwill. Not to drop anything off, as I'd intended, but to see if there might be a suitable chair or lamp lurking about for a steal.

Nope and nope.

But as long as I was there, I took a quick gander at the books and then a stroll past the glassware. I'm always on the hunt for a certain glass of which my mom wants more. That particular glass was nowhere to be found, but I'm always amenable to interesting glasses that I can use as votive holders.

I found a couple that reminded me of these. And I found a couple that were ribbed. And one that was footed and one that was wee. And one that was straight-sided and modern for its age. Seven in all.

So I stacked what ones I could and cradled all of them in my arms and went to pay, having no idea what they cost. I hadn't noticed a sign. None of them were marked. But being Goodwill, I figured, what, $1 each?

The woman at the register counted them, punched a few keys, and announced the total: $1.87.

For all of them. Together. Or $0.25 each, plus a few cents for tax.

(I love the blog The Thrifty Chicks and always envy Ms. Golightly's finds. I've yet to see the kinds of goods that end up in the thrift stores she frequents in Denver, but I know she'd be pleased with my votive stash for $1.87.)

I brought them home and washed them and dried them and put tealights in them (and made a mental note to buy clear-cupped tealights) and arranged them on my mantle for a photo (or three).

I love the way the broad-ribbbed glass casts the light into a sunburst.




After a quick detour to the wine store (Angelo had recommended Layer Cake Shiraz to me, and I will now recommend Layer Cake Shiraz to you), I headed for an antique mall that always holds some surprises. Sometimes the surprises appear in the form of something cool: hinged Cadbury multiple chocolate-bunny mold for $295, anyone? Truly, it would make a really great piece of art, open and hung on a wall. And sometimes the surprises, more often than not, appear in the form of crap, which is why one friend once dubbed it "The Junk Store."

I made quick rounds, keeping an eye out for a suitable chair or lamp. I found neither. What I did find, however, was a silver baby cup. Engraved. For someone named Paul David. I picked it up. I set it down. I have no need for a silver baby cup.

But I couldn't bear to leave it there. Why didn't Paul or someone in Paul's family still have it? Didn't Paul have any family? Were his belongings sold off? Had he died?


I thought about my mother and her family photographs. She has told me on more than one occasion that I am not, under any circumstance, to allow her family photographs to end up in an antique store. She'd rather they be burned than suffer such a fate.

(My friend Jeff created a site dedicated to such photographs. It's nice that they continue to be appreciated.)

So I bought the baby cup. I have no idea what I'll do with it, but it was $5 well spent.

I had also spied something else in the store that I didn't buy. "Perhaps another day," I told myself. But my mind wouldn't let it go, even once I began to drive away. So I circled the block, returned to the vacant parking spot, went back to the store and up the stairs and retrieved it.

The woman who'd written up the baby cup smiled when she saw me again. "Find something else?" she asked.

"I can't leave this here," I said.

Not someone's high school diploma. From 1921.

It's quite big. It's very beautiful, its illustrations and typography. The frame is simple but sturdy. And as with Paul, I wonder about Arthur's story. How did his diploma from 1921 end up in an antique store in 2011?

Whatever the answer, it's here with me now.




Happenings, Happenings Everywhere And Not A Word To Write ...

I feel like a poor host. How inhospitable of me to not have posted for so many days. Real posts, not a sentence or two.

I don't flatter myself. I know that no one is clamoring to read my latest insights on banality, but ever since I've started this blog – coming up on six years now – I've felt an obligation to keep it somewhat current. Having something new for folks to read when they stop by, I've said, is the equivalent of inviting people in for pie and coffee when they drop by my house.

Not that many people drop by my house. And really, I never have pie.

Cookies, though. I often have cookies. And those seem to suffice.

As for goings on, there are a few nifty things swirling about, and I don't think I'll jinx anything if I write about them, but it's just not the right time. I'd like things to be more fully formed first.

So, at the moment, I got bupkis.

I could tell you about all the pizza I ate this weekend. Or all the wine I drank. Or the fabric I did not buy because it turned out to be $49.99 a yard.

I could tell you about what I did instead of watching the Bears game, because the pace of football annoys me. How can the final moments of a game last for 20 minutes when there's one minute left to play?

I could tell you about how I want to rearrange the furniture in the living room because, yes, this loveseat has been against this wall for 10 years, which used to feel like the only place it could reside, but I've come to realize that I could float it in the room and the world would not tilt of its axis as a result.

I could tell you about the painting I received as barter for editing a screenplay and how much I love it but how I have no idea where to hang it nor what kind of frame I should put it in first.

But I won't.

Soon, though. Soon. Something will come to me.

Friday, January 14, 2011

'Inception' ...

So, that's a lock for Best Picture.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Good Times ...

I was really touched when Angelo asked me to start contributing some baking posts to angelo:HOME.

My inaugural post appeared this morning.

Coming up with ideas for these posts has really gotten the creative wheels in my head turning again, and for that, I am very grateful to him.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Witness Their Names ...

Those who were killed in Tucson today at the event for Congresswoman Giffords:

Phyllis Scheck, 79

Dorothy Morris, 76

Dorwin Stoddard, 76

Judge John Roll, 63

Gabe Zimmerman, 30

Christina Greene, 9

It Matters Not ...

There was a lot I did not do today.

I had intentions. I had plans. And then I saw an item, on Twitter, I believe, that a member of Congress had been shot and the journalist in me – or perhaps simply the concerned citizen – could not turn away.

I turned on MSNBC because I don't watch CNN and you know, oh how you know, that I do not watch FOX News, and I trolled Twitter and other sites for word of her condition.

Shot in the head? At point-blank range? How could she possibly have survived?

I looked for confirmation. It came from NPR.

And then NPR took it back.

MSNBC never announced her death. MSNBC, to its credit, continued to broadcast only what it knew, and the next chyron to appear stated that she was in surgery.

And somehow, miraculously, later, a surgeon appeared to say that he was optimistic about her recovery.

Stunning news.

Both the story of her survival, for now, at all, but also the numbers of the wounded and the dead. Nineteen shot. Six killed. Including a 9-year-old girl.

I read just a bit ago that she was at the event at the invitation of a neighbor. She had recently been elected to student council and her neighbor thought she would enjoy today's event, a bit of democracy up close.

Senseless.

And I read an interview with the leader of a Tea Party movement in Tucson who said that she sees no need for a change in rhetoric despite today's horrific events.

What?

There is still a lot we do not know about the shooter. We do not expressly know his motives, we do not expressly know his past.

But it matters not.

Even if, somehow, today's events are entirely untethered from the insanity that spews forth daily from too many mouths, the insanity must stop.

I applauded loudly tonight as the sheriff in Tucson stood at the podium and denounced "the vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from the people in the radio business and some people in the TV business and what we see on TV. ... Vitriol might be free speech, but it's not without consequences," he said.

There was no doubt about whom he was talking.

It was stunning to see a law-enforcement official call it out in a press conference, but it is far, far, far beyond damn time.

When Sarah Palin posts a map of the United States covered in crosshairs and lists the members of Congress she wants to see removed from office and then exhorts her followers not to retreat but to "RELOAD," there is nowhere to hide.

You are culpable, Sarah Palin. You have blood on your hands tonight.

Even if the shooter was not directly influenced by that hideous, unfathomable call to action, you have and have had a responsibility to civil discourse which you have shunned with breathtaking contempt time and again. And while I cannot comprehend why even a portion of this country continues to have an interest in you, your words and deeds command much attention. And you have used that power for monetary gain at the expense of the civility of this once-great land.

I hope you do not sleep well tonight. I hope you never sleep well again. What a burden it must be to know that you have had a role in creating this society, which you say you want to govern but over which you would have no control.

And how pathetic that that damning page is no longer available through your site. Own your actions, Sarah. Own that your words have consequences. Own that not every person who reads or hears them will stop to decide if you are speaking figuratively, if a metaphor's at play. Own it. All of it. Denounce it. Then stop.

Disappear from public life or dedicate your efforts to the betterment of the country. Real betterment. Learn something. Know that it is desecration to autograph an American flag.

To Glenn and Rush, there are no words but these: Fuck you. I apologize to my readers who are unaccustomed to such language from me here, but nothing else conveys my infinite contempt for those two men, who profit enormously as they trade in lies and fear. I do not know how they face themselves each day.

To FOX News and every employee who goes to work each and every day and buys into the mission of distorting the truth and serving a blatant agenda and doing nothing to inform but only to mislead, may karma find you at last.

It is no secret that I am liberal. I care about my fellow Americans. I'm willing to do more than my fair share. I want both me and my neighbors to have healthcare. If that alone makes me a Socialist, so be it. I have friends of many races and religions. On 9/11, I feared all day for one of their lives. Because even 10 years ago, this country had begun its descent to the place it finds itself today.

Earlier, on Facebook, a friend wrote, "Civility in the United States died on Jan. 8, 2011, along with six innocent people, including a child. Where does this country really go from here?"

Really. Where indeed?

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Coffee ...

Could I write about something more prosaic?

The weather, I suppose.

But the other day, making small talk about the holidays just passed, I mentioned that my brother and sister-in-law gave me a Keurig one-cup coffeemaker and that I realized one morning shortly thereafter that I can now make a cup of coffee while I'm waiting for a pot of coffee to brew.

And then I realized that I have instant coffee packets, so technically, I could make coffee while waiting for the Keurig to make coffee while waiting for the coffeemaker to make coffee.

Which now has me thinking that I should keep some coffee NIPS lying around so I can suck on coffee candy while making instant coffee while waiting for the Keurig while waiting for the pot.

I might have a slight problem.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

'Exit Through The Gift Shop' ...

My friend Bruce points me toward some really interesting fare.

Last night, I watched "Exit Through the Gift Shop," his latest suggestion.

If you're a Netflixer, you can watch it here, now or put the DVD in your queue. If you're not a Netflixer, you can find it elsewhere, I'm sure.

Initially, it appears to be a documentary about street artists, some of whom have become much more known in the art world, such as Banksy, who directed this film, and Shepard Fairey, who is most known these days for creating the iconic Obama "Hope" poster (and subsequently being sued by the AP for misappropriating the photograph that serves as the basis for the art). But in the end, it centers on Thierry Guetta, who begins the documentary as the documenter but becomes the documented. (Or maybe he doesn't. Is the film legit or a hoax? Fairey insists that it's not. Others say otherwise. Another interesting layer to the whole project.)

It's a fascinating film, on a micro level for its examination of street artists and a culture most people observe with no knowledge of what's behind it, but more so on a macro level for the questions it raises about art and what constitutes art, and the complexities of greed, ego, and jealousy.

Thierry mounts his first-ever show, a massive exhibit of his work that is literally being installed hours before the doors open to a throng of thousands who have bought into the hype of the show that he orchestrated so masterfully. He ends up selling more than $1 million worth of art.

But is all of it art? Is it art if the artist has recreated iconic Andy Warhol images, replacing Marilyn Monroe with Marilyn Manson and Leonard Nimoy and a host of others? And recreated variations on the Campbell's soup can? Why do so many buy into it? Do they appreciate it as art? Are they buying art or are they buying hype? Do they love it as art or do they think they'll profit from it later? What constitutes art? Does everything qualify as art? If not, who decides? If so, how does one assign value? Does value matter? Is the anger of the other artists in the film really jealousy? Do they resent Thierry for what they see as the demeaning of their craft or do they resent him for making a lot of money? Who deserves to call themselves an artist?

See what I mean? So many fascinating notions evolve out of this film, so many interesting discussions to be had.

I've jokingly said that my definition of art is: "If I can do it, it's not art."

But I can draw. How well I can draw is open to debate, but those who see the piece that's hanging in my mom's house are usually surprised that I drew it, if that's any metric for its artfulness. Painting, photography, sculpture? Not so much. I can paint, but not well, not by my standard. And what I snap with my little Canon digital camera isn't going to show up in any photography exhibits. If cookie dough counts as a sculpture medium, I do well on that front, but in any other capacity? Nuh uh.

Then again, I contend that I could have created this with construction paper and a pair of safety scissors.

But I didn't. Henri Matisse did, for which he's hailed as a great artist. To which I've always reacted thusly: Really?

Which brings us right back to the question, "What constitutes art?"

The answer to which is, I suppose, that it's always in the eye of the beholder.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Untangling ...

My life is like a tangled chain, one of those impossibly delicate chains that seem to fuse into a mass the moment one link touches another, one of those chains of the necklaces of my childhood.

And the past year, especially, has been the point of a fine needle, gingerly teasing apart the links, creating slack, pulling gently, untangling, aligning the links the way the links are meant to be.

Change is made slowly, they say, and so it is. I finally ended a longtime friendship that did not serve me, not that I expect a lot in the way of being served. But I found my voice and spoke up for what I needed and was met with apology, not accommodation. I appreciated the apology. Though I worried in those immediate days after if I had made a mistake. But then I came to understand that nothing had changed, nothing would change, and that as far as that relationship was concerned, I was exactly where I needed to be. Apart.

It has taken me far longer to truly step into the sphere of my creativity. I am grateful to have friends who inspire me and friends who encourage me and friends who metaphorically take me by the hand as if to say, "It's not scary. Come with me. I'll show you the way." I am grateful to have moved past the need for self-deprecation, to have gotten to the place where I can let people appreciate my work when they appreciate my work, and respond with a simple "thank you" when they have something nice to say.

Perhaps these are universal truths. Perhaps everyone arrives in similar places around this time in their lives. Perhaps there's a reason why the phrase "Life begins at 40" exists. Perhaps it takes we humans a few decades to work out the kinks and shed the expectations and arrive at our centers.

I'm making no resolutions this year as so many do. No "I want to lose 50 pounds" or "I want to run a marathon" or "I want to X, Y, or Z." I just want to continue to evolve, to become more of who I am meant to be, to become more of who I am.

Though I do really want to learn to play the guitar.