Friday, December 31, 2010

I have to blog today...it is New Years Eve, after all...

On this, the last day of the year twenty thousand and ten, there are three things to be done:

1. Make resolutions for next year, that more often than not, won't be realized.
2. Look back on the year and realize what was, or was not, accomplished. 
3. Don't have "big plans" since any big plans will never live up to the hype.

Good grief, I sound cynical.  I'm really not in the bad mood that these statements indicate.  I actually feel quite positive about the New Year. 

With this blog, which began more than 2 years ago, I've always striven not to get too deep into my personal issues, because, frankly, they're not interesting to anyone other than me.  That, and they're not funny, and my blog is way better when it's funny. But I feel the need to put some of this in writing so I can hold myself accountable later on when I'm re-reading these entries. 

I have one resolution only for 2011, and that's to get my weight under control. It feels like everything else would resolve if I could just do this. one. thing.  The problem is, I make the same resolution every year, and have for as long as I can remember.  It's a sore subject for me, because I'm a pretty disciplined girl when it comes to most things.  I got myself out debt, I set myself on the career path I wanted, and in most everything, I've done what I put my mind to.  Yet I cannot seem to conquer this one.  I took the big step of asking my doctor/np for help, but I'm not sure that's going to be enough.  We'll see.

2010 was a year of personal change.  Professionally, lots happened, but this was the year where my life became about more than work.  And I'm not alone in that.  It must be a mid-30's thing, when women who've made their lives about career suddenly start to want more.  For several friends, it's meant babies and the happy discovery of love.  For me, it's meant moving into a house and getting a dog.  Prosaic, huh?  But along the way, I worked through a bad mood that lasted several months.  That's gotta count for something.  :) It's strange to not be in motion in some way - either by seeking a new job or moving to a new city.  I've lived her for 6 years.  For the first time in a long time, I don't know what's next.

Tonight's plans are emblematic of my life at this point - an evening spent with two families, kids and all, and me the lone bachelorette.  I'm used to this, but that's not to say it's easy.  I'd like to think it takes some moxie to find fun among couples and their kids, when in some ways everything they are is a reminder of what I don't have.  I spend a lot of time as the fifth or third or seventh wheel: the one that makes hostesses stress about finding a table for an odd number, or the one who screws up the seating arrangement at a formal event.  That's always bothered me, because I know some pretty damn awesome people who are coupled up, and I don't want them (or me) to feel strange about hanging out.  I suspect much of the angst about this is in my head.  But regardless, I'm looking forward to this NYE, with chili and board games and friends.  It's not Times Square, but really, who wants to freeze your ass off with thousands of other frozen asses?

I do have a wish for 2011, though.  I wish we (the collective we) could do better - not even good, necessarily, but better.  No one likes to be told to do better, but we should.  We can.  Imagine if we all took the money we spent on...I don't know...our text messages, maybe...and gave it to someone who needed it.  Or imagine if we took the hour we spend waiting in line for overpriced coffee each month doing something for someone who needs help. We could accomplish some amazing things.

Ok, enough idealism.  It's time to party, or in my case, go buy fixings for a party.  Happy New Year, all!  Thank you to those who have read my blog, you few, you mighty few.  :)    See you in 2011.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Paying for things we get for free, or "one comment = one canned good"...

Once in a while, in the midst of my usual cynical inner ranting about the general selfishness of humans, I hear a story that rocks my world.  Today's came from a friend in Madison, who posted on her facebook page that a man (dare I say gentleman?) after receiving free tickets to Four Seasons Theatre's The Spitfire Grill (I should have linked to Four Seasons a long time ago - I've fixed that, at right), paid for the tickets because he didn't want to accept them for free.

Now, if the show had sucked, maybe he wouldn't have paid.  But I choose to ignore that fact.  I'm trying to remember the last time I deliberately paid for something that was given to me for free.  I'm not sure I ever have. Why haven't I?  It's not as if the things I was given had no cost associated with them.  Of course they did.  Someone put time, energy or even actual money into them. And yet, for some reason, I got them for free.

If you think about it, we expect to get a lot of things for free these days.  Free concerts, free lights on the downtown square, free parking, free shipping, free bags on Southwest, free exchanges, free eating for kids under 12, and giveaways left and right.  It's nothing new to say that when we give things away, we imply there is no value to them, even though there most certainly are costs associated with them (and yes, I know, cost and value are NOT the same thing).  Yet over and over and over, we do it, especially in the arts.  Sometimes, we're thanked, but more often than you'd think, the seat goes empty.  For the person who got the tickets, there's nothing more to think of.  For the artist who played to an empty seat or the marketer trying to make her sales numbers, though, that empty seat lingers in memory.

I see a parallel here to the internet, which has, for me, been illuminated with clarity over the past few days.  Comments, Reply-tos, tweets, facebook updates...in a lot of ways, these are free communications.  They don't cost the author much, if anything, and eventually they just fade away into the quagmire of digital communications.  But for the recipients, all of these free reactions will linger.  Someone reads that flippant comment.  Someone is on the other end of that snarky email.  Someone follows the things written on that facebook page.  And someone, often more than one someone, has to figure out if, and how, to respond.

What would happen if for every online comment, reply-to email or retweet, we put a penny in a jar?  Imagine...we could see the "cost" of our incessant need to comment and share every moment of our lives.  I'll bet we could cure a few diseases, or at least preserve a historic building or two.  And who knows, maybe we'd make our fellow man happier, like that gentleman in Madison. His action is the stuff we should be sharing.

So, in that spirit, I'm going to donate 1 canned good to NWA Foodbank for every comment I get on this post. Seriously, I mean it!  So go ahead and comment, then share, retweet, and spread the word!  And this time, that comment (even if it's snarky) will have value - to someone who's hungry!  Thank you in advance, and thanks to that gentleman in Madison.  He certainly made my day.

Monday, November 15, 2010

My 100th blog post...too bad it's nothing special

It seems like my 100th blog post should contain some profound message, or at least some truly stellar writing.  Alas, I don't think I have either up my sleeve tonight, but I'm tired of waiting.  So, without much ado, here it is...my 100th post.

Um, can we pause for a moment and take note of the fact that I have chosen to write about myself and my life 100 times in the past few years?  That's pretty amazing for a girl who never kept a journal for more than a few weeks.  What's even more amazing is that some people actually read some of the entries!  In fact, if you do, I have a special message for you at the end of this entry. 

So what does one write about in her 100th blog post?  I guess for me, it's more of the same: odd things that have happened over the last few days.

Like, for example, the person dressed as a cardboard sandwich outside a sub shop today.  I'm sorry, but YUCK.  I have never been less inclined to buy a sandwich.  I wonder if all those poor people stuck outside brandishing handwritten signs or, worse yet, dressed like asparagus, are a sign that traditional media really is dying.  My years as Video Bear taught me that hanging out inside a smelly, germ-filled costume is not worth whatever minimum wage you earn.  (Full disclosure - it was my family's business, I was not paid, and at the time I probably thought it was fun)  Oooh...here's an idea!  How about a rebellion!  What if all the mascots, Disney Characters and Human Marketing Figures went on strike?  Would the gears of the merchandising and desperation marketing fields break down? Hmmm...I'll have to ponder that.

Have I mentioned that one of my least favorite job duties is reading the opinion pages?  I can literally feel my blood pressure going up as I read them.  Today I had an epiphany (not a terribly original one). Though it didn't precisely make me feel better, it did put it all in context - letters to the editor and op-eds are just social media "comments" posted in newsprint.  Nothing more.  The only difference is it takes days, not seconds, for someone to comment on a comment.

Lately I've become obsessed with the fact that NPR never says the words "almost", "nearly" or "about" if they can instead use the more pretentious/public radioy "some".  As in "some 10,000 people turned out for this event" or "some 1 million poor suckers bought the next big electronic gadget".   According to the first online dictionary to pop up in Google...oh, for god's sake.  Excuse me while, for the first time in years, I get up from my computer and go find a real dictionary.

Ok.  I'm back.  According to my 1985 Second College Edition American Heritage Dictionary ("The single source for people who need to be right" - I'm not kidding, that's what it says on the cover!), "some" may be used as an adverb to mean "approximately" or "about".  Perhaps they should just say approximately or about.  They both sound more...well...normal.

Speaking of normal, yesterday I achieved "honorary domestic goddess" status as I raked my patio yard, purchased (and used) a new vacuum cleaner, installed a shelf in the garage and even...wait for it...baked cookies while doing laundry! I also bought yarn and a crochet needle; it's time to pick that hobby up again.  Lest you think I've completely lost my mind, I redeemed my bachelorette status by eating a dinner that was made up of toast, soup and wine and watching the Pats/Steelers game all by myself. And while Brady's hair is ridiculous, I still like watching him win.

And of course, no blog entry would be complete without some update to the Chronicles of Sadie, also known as the "yes, of course you want to know about my dog's every quirk" writing tactic.  So, let's begin!

One of the odder things about my pooch is that she won't jump up into the car.  At first, I thought maybe she just didn't like the car.  Then I tried to get her to jump on my bed.  She'd look at me, and then bolt for her dog bed, safely on ground level.  Tonight, I was determined to get her on the bed, if only because I'm stubborn.  I tried treats, I tried cajoling, I tried getting her a running start.  Nothing.  Then - aha - genius struck.  I grabbed the trunk I put my shoes in and pushed in up against the bed.  Viola!  Instant stepping stool for plyometrically challenged pups.  Guess what?  She's afraid of the trunk.  Treats lured her front paws on the trunk; I helped with the back legs.  She floundered in disarray for a moment, then smelled the treats on the bed and lo and behold, there she was on my purple bedspread.  I have to say she looked pretty smug.  I have no idea how she got down. 

Whether I can get her up there again is anyone's guess.   We may have to settle for the Big Chair.

And that's it.  My 100th post is complete.  So from my first entry, Steamed Duck, about a duck named TAD, to musings on dogs and NPR, I guess much hasn't changed since November 2008.  Thanks for reading, and if you're up for it, I'd love for you to post a comment below about who you are and if you have a blog I should be exploring and linking to.  If you're not up for it, that's ok too.

Bonne nuit!  And I really do mean it; if you're reading this, I appreciate you.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I want to be smart...and useful.

What a strange day. 

It was one of those days where each new moment, literally, brought about something unexpected, sometimes unwelcome, or surprisingly encouraging.  Nothing was mild.  Everything was amped up.  And yet it's ending in such a mild, comforting way.   Weird.

Here's the summary:

5:51am - bolt out of bed 51 minutes later than I was supposed to.  Why the HELL do I hit snooze on my alarm so many times?  Dammit, gonna have to feed the dog without walking her if I'm going to shower and make it to my 7am on time.  This will be the first time since I got her that I haven't walked her in the morning.  Bad Jodi.  No treats for you.

6:30am - hmmm.  Strangely, I am dressed, coiffed and ready to go.  15 minutes early.  Um, ok.  Guess the dog and I get a quick jaunt around the block (in my snazzy black ankle boots). 

7am - Speaking at a Kiwanis event.  Surprisingly pleasant morning, no hard questions, friendly people, and an invite to join the club.  That, and a ceramic coffee mug.  (PS: We could learn something from the "reports" at this club - they are given verbally and last for precisely one sentence.  Fantastic!)

9am - back to back meetings filled with stress and the realization that I'm not doing a very good job at much these days.  I HATE realizing that. 

10:50am - a colleague walks by and blinks in surprise while telling me how much she loves my outfit.  That's not a compliment I get very often. 

10:51am - I say to this colleague: "Oh my gosh, I have no idea what I'm going to say to the class that we're about to go speak to!"  She calmly says, "Walk with me, we'll figure it out." Very Zen response, and just what I needed.

11:00am - I should really go back to work after doing the introduction to the class.  Nah.  I'm gonna stick around for the backstage tour; it's always fun. 

12:45pm - tour ran long.  No time for lunch.  Gotta run to meeting.

1:00pm - fast, pleasant meeting.  I want more of those.

1:30pm - sign some papers and really hope that they are legit and truthful.  Start talking with a colleague about someone who is getting a Governor's Arts Award today.  Me: "And he's smart. There aren't many people out there who are both smart..." (trails off, searching for that perfect word) - My Colleague: "...and useful."  Enjoyed a huge laugh at that one.

2:30pm - back to the class.  They're running late.  Luckily, lunch is still available.  Read some national news, including the story of people stuck on an ocean liner being towed out of the Pacific by tugboats.  Yeah, ok, that pretty much sucks.

4:00pm - practicing delegation.  Passing on a project to one of my staff, and feeling very good about it.  Had a nice little moment of realizing that it's my JOB to push them and challenge them, not coddle them or keep them safe. And along the way, I'll save my sanity.  That seems like a good deal.

5:15pm - Jeez, is it dark out already? 

5:40pm - Come on, dog, get in the car.  We've gotta get to the dog park before the sun completely goes down.

5:41pm - Success!  Lured by treats, the dog gets into the car on her own steam for the first time ever.  It's the little things.

5:42pm - Busted by the suburban mom for driving too fast on "her" street.  Gulp.

5:43pm - Dog park in the dark.  Funny.  Nice vibe to the park tonight; dogs are happy and playing, people are watching them, everyone is calm.

6:15pm - There's a note from my landlady in the mail; she wants me to give her a picture of my dog to keep in her files along with the pet deposit.  Excuse to take photos of my fur kid?  As if I needed one. 

6:16pm - back home, answering work emails, some of which, if I were to let them, would make me angry.  But I'm not gonna let them.

6:17 to now - quiet, calm night in the house.  TV on DVR.  Thought provoking Glee (sometimes standing up to bullies doesn't work, which is depressing).  Looking forward to spending the latter half of the day with friends tomorrow; I need the break.

It was a tough day, even though this accounting doesn't really show that.  Mostly, because I'm falling behind in everything; work, laundry, planning for the holidays.  But also, because when I fall behind, I start to screw up, and that's when I start to worry if I really know what I'm doing, or if I've just fooled everyone into thinking I do.  It's humbling (which is a good thing), but also scary.

But then again, Sadie is sprawled at my feet after a happy evening of chewing on her rawhide bone.  And that's not bad.

PS: Well, actually, since I went back to proofread this entry, she's begun her ritual "it's-almost-time-for-bed-so-now-I'm-gonna-get-hyper" routine.  But that's not bad either. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

The girl with the full soul

Well, this has certainly been a lovely last week or so.  (I'm choosing to block out election day - and the bright side of that is that Jon Stewart's got a lot of good material).  Without any attempt at a marginally witty expository introduction, here's why.

I'm playing volleyball again!  In a women's league, on a women's net. Bliss. 

It's fall.  And though they aren't widespread, the few orangey-red trees we have are stunning.

We've had Trey McIntyre Project in residence for the last few days.  As I've said before, hanging out with artists is the only way to keep jobs like mine in perspective.  Tonight, they performed to a sold out house.  Let me say that again.  A dance company performed to a sold. out. house.  Now THAT is a professional victory if I do say so myself.

My friend Kathryn had a new baby.  Even though her family is heading for an overseas state department posting and I probably won't meet the kid before she's 12, it's still delightful.

And then there's my dog.  I will admit, this dog ownership thing isn't easy.  Getting up early for a walk each day is not, contrary to what "they" said, becoming easier.  It sucks, in fact.  And trying to project calm-assertive energy when your dog is wiggling herself into a frenzy is tiring.

But still, she's worth it.  There's something to be said for unconditional love.  And it doesn't hurt that she's funny; I could write my own personal "Funny s#!& my dog does" anthology.  Here's just a few:
 
* I can get her to play fetch.  For exactly 2 tosses of the ball.  Then she's done.
* Sometimes, when we head out on to the frosty grass in the morning, she leaps up, all four feet off the ground, as if to say "Jeez!  That's cold."
* I kid you not, yesterday, while peeing at the dog park, she squatted and lifted BOTH of her back legs off the ground.  That and her ability to change directions at the speed of sound makes me wonder if I've got a circus dog on my hands.
* She likes to move my shoes from one room to the next.  Not chew them (at least not yet), but move them.  As if to say: "Hey, check it out!  I can move your shoes."
* She's afraid of my trash can.

So yeah, life isn't bad.  I'm exhausted and would love a day or two to just watch movies and sleep.  But all thing considered, I can't complain.  Which most of you know is unusual for me.  :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Why I should never blog on election nights...

I've been writing this blog entry for 20 minutes now.

It was a rant.  About voter turnout.  And political advertising.  And the absolute pile of crap that we are fed by the media and campaign managers and pundits.  Every. Single. Day. 

It's a good thing I erased it.  It won't solve anything, and will just make me lose sleep over who I may have offended. 

I take comfort in knowing that this is still my country.  And that the politicians elected tonight, D or R or in between, more often than not, do not speak for me and my values.  And that there are millions of others like me.

I'm just pissed they didn't vote.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Now I understand why parents post facebook statuses about their children's bowel movements...

There are so many things in life that we simply aren't taught in school.  For example:
  • How to find a Primary Care Physician in a strange town
  • How long you should wait to mow your lawn after it rains
  • What the opposite sex is thinking
and my current favorite
  • How to manage the first few days of having a new dog in your house. 
Dogs are supposed to be relaxing for us humans, right?  Our own personal therapists, only without the hourly rates and the annoying questions about our parental issues.  I've read that petting a dog reduces a person's blood pressure. 

All this may be true eventually, but it's certainly not the case in the first few days of dog ownership.  Good grief.  What an emotional rollercoaster of worry and joy.  Although for me, there wasn't much joy.  There was mostly worry.  Which, of course, rubbed off on the dog until I think we were both basket cases.  She wasn't eating, I wasn't sleeping.  We did really well on walks when we both had a job: me to project calm-assertive energy (thanks Cesar Milan) and she to follow my lead and practice calm-submissive energy.  But get us back home and it was fretting and following and fighting over going outside. 

This evening, though, we turned a corner.  She greeted me with wagging tail when I got home (and much as it hurt, I waited for her to sit and be calm before bestowing some love), and then we promptly went on a long walk, practiced the "sit" command, and came home for dinner.  For the first time in two days, she ate and slurped her water, and then we played for a bit.  Now she's sacked out on her pillows and I'm basking in the glow of being a successful pack leader, at least for tonight. 

Yes, she jumps on the couch when that's a no-no in my house.  Yes, she hasn't grasped "stay" yet.  But she ate dinner!  And I had to stop myself from posting that on my facebook page, because, really, who cares?  (I supposed you could say that about any of my facebook posts, but that's a little too large of an ego hit for me to tackle tonight.)

And best of all, we've found a name. 

Sadie, meet the world (or a few people in the world, anyway).  World, meet Sadie.  Tonight, she's holding the "Best Dog Ever" crown.  Sorry, dogs of the world.  You can have it back tomorrow.

As my mom said, "Sadie, get your butt over here" rolls off the tongue quite nicely.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It's a dog's world...

Those who have known me for more than 24 hours probably know that I've wanted a dog for years.  I grew up with a black lab in the house, and though my parents will say owning dogs was more trouble than it was worth, the dogs were very much a part of the family.  Our last dog, Bozworth, died more than 7 years ago, but sometimes, when I'm home in NH visiting, I still expect to see his head peering through the screen on the porch door, welcoming us home.  And I still shove the food to the back of the kitchen counter because that damn dog could be counted on to jump up and snarf anything that wasn't bolted down (edible or not).

When it comes to big life choices; new car, new rental house, even a new flat screen TV, I tend to hem and haw for a while before I make a decision.  I analyze, compare, second guess, and generally drive myself crazy with "what if" scenarios. In this case, I've been waiting for years to get a dog because I have always lived in apartments, and unless I want to get a dog that could double as a mop handle, apartments are generally not conductive to dogs.  I've never had a yard, and dogs are not cheap.  I'm a workaholic, and I travel, etc., etc.  All very valid reasons to put off the acquisition of a canine companion.

But now I have a house.  With a fenced in yard.  And enough money saved to pay for the occasional boarding needs, the dog food, the vet visits, the new toys.  And more friends than I can count who have offered advice, walking services, play dates, places to drop the dog when I'm away, you name it.  They must be tired of hearing me talk about it, or my need for some love and affection to greet me when I come home must be more obvious than I thought.  :)

When my new landlords readily agreed to build a fence onto my rental house, I thought that was a good sign.  When the city's newest dogpark opened a week ago less than 10 minutes from my house, I thought "Hmmmm..."  And when two completely different people recommended the same dog to me, and when her foster home turned out to be owned by respected colleagues of mine, well...there's not much else to say. For form's sake I'm sleeping on it, but I'm pretty sure I've found my dog.

In an effort not to jinx it, I won't go into the ways my life is inevitably going to change soon.  But I'm almost there; I'm almost a "dog person."  I can't wait.

Friday, October 15, 2010

5,700 hundred miles later...

Wow.  The blissful days of motorcycle festivals seem like eons ago, when in reality it's only been a couple of weeks.  Busy weeks.  Weeks that took me to San Francisco, Berkeley, Cleveland and the Minneapolis and Chicago airports, among other places.

There's a lot I could say (good stuff) about my visit to San Francisco, but I think I'll save that for when I'm less tired, and less delighted to be home alone on a Friday, because being home means I'm:

1.  Not sleeping in a hotel room
2.  Not having to put up with airports and cities full of supremely annoying strangers.

The bedbug scare has definitely lessened my love of hotel rooms.  Luckily, neither of the hotel rooms I patronized during my 8-flights-in-6-days adventure had them, but the thought is enough to make my skin crawl, literally.  As it's doing right now.  Excuse me while I go bathe in alcohol or something.

Normally, I like the anonymity of hotel rooms.  But my San Francisco' hotel experience was marred by one of my more neurotic traits; I can't sleep when someone else is snoring in the room with me.  It's not all snoring; the quiet snuffle now and then is no big deal.  But when it's that heavy, saw-like snoring, I'm a goner.  I transition from a woman who could happily sleep for 9 hours a night into psycho-tossing-and-turning girl. This is a problem.  Not a terribly urgent one since I currently have my queen bed all to myself, but a disturbing one nonetheless.  What if the man I'm destined to marry (note the optimism) snores this way?  Will I drive him away?  Will I go broke on therapy?  These are the things I think about.  My travel companion was compassionate and scored us a second room for our second night, but starting a trip off with a night of no sleep wasn't my best strategy.

Luckily, the hotel room in Cleveland (my third different location in as many nights) was quiet and huge.  But I think by that point exhaustion was setting in as pretty much anything people did drove me crazy. From the heavy breather sitting next to me in a meeting to the women walking down the sidewalk with their giant, space-hogging strollers, I had very little love for my fellow man.

(Except, of course, for the Chilean miners and their rescuers; if I could have, I would have happily watched all 39 men emerge from the earth.  And probably cried at every single one. What a story.)

On vacation this past summer I discovered that I'm missing the gene that should help me talk to strangers on airplanes; on this trip I discovered a gene that I definitely AM NOT missing. It's the "I can't find a walking rhythm in airports" gene.  I swear, put me in an airport and I will always, always find myself walking behind the woman who's dragging 10 bags, 6 children, 3 cell phones and her wheelchair-bound grandma-in-law toward my gate.  Or, I'll be walking as fast as I can on a moving sidewalk, and some 7 foot tall guy with legs up to here will politely clear his throat and ask me to step aside into the "standing" lane.  Or I'll be strolling along in the crowd, finally, blissfully walking at just the right pace, when someone will abruptly decide they need to use the restroom, and I will have to do a little Riverdance-inspired jig to keep from mowing them down and/or falling on my face. 

Days like yesterday, when even scoring an exit row in one flight and a single seat in another couldn't shake my grumps, make me realize how I could never, ever be a "full time" traveler.  Maybe, if I did it all the time, I could develop that hard shell that chronic travelers seem to have.  Or maybe I should be like the people who have never traveled before (there are so many! This amazes and humbles me), who have no clue that when you wear knee-high lace-up boots and metal studded belts, you will stop the entire security line, and who really, legitimately, don't give a damn.

Instead, I'm stuck in a limbo world, cursed with an overdeveloped sense of self-awareness and a knack for choosing the wrong stall in the ladies restroom. 

God, it's good to be home.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Bikes, Blues & Barbeque 2011

Each year, Fayetteville, AR plays host to Bikes, Blues and Barbeque, supposedly one of the biggest motorcycle festivals in the country.  (I'm sure that Motorcycle Week in NH is bigger, but don't tell anyone around here I said that).  For the past two years, rather than shutting down our theater and going into hiding for the week, we've hosted a beer garden on our grounds.  For a few days, we stop thinking about the arts and instead think up to ways to deprive bikers of their hard-earned cash.  Which, of course, involves beer.

So I spent my weekend relieving leather clad folks (and a bunch of college students) of their money.  I am now an expert at the anatomy of the wrist, as I slapped bracelets on hundreds of them; even the ones that swayed along with their drunken owners.  I dodged lit cigars, teetering cigarette ash, and billowing clouds of tobacco (and other varietals) smoke.   And I got a taste of what hawkers feel as I shouted "One dolla, one dolla!  Only one dolla for the cleanest restrooms on the street!"

I like bikers.  They flirt with me, which is always fun.  And they are generally pleasant, except when you run out of Miller Light (a lesson we learned last year).  And yet, there were moments, as I watched the sea of black clad people, driving loud, belching machines up and down the streets while religious "protesters" held life size crosses up on the street corners, when I wondered whether I was living some kind of real-life Terminator-style apocalyptic vision.  Luckily, I was soon distracted by the need to collect more money. 

The stories are endless - here are a few of my favorites, in no particular order. 
  • Turkey legs.  Being waved in the air.  Enough said. 
  • I saw one of our house managers tying up a biker's chaps.  Let it never be said we don't provide excellent customer service.
  • The "Larry Shuffle"- Larry is a biker.  Shuffle is a form of dancing.  That's really all you need to know.
  • During "Freebird," a 50+ year old biker glided out of the beer garden and flashed his IPhone at us with a lighter on the screen (this one was funnier in person - the look on the guy's face was mischievous and hilarious).
  • Apparently, after a night of hot partying, two people decided to hang out INSIDE our ice machines.
  • It was obvious to one biker that I don't have kids because I refused to give him 3 beers for the price of two.  (huh?)  
  • Have I mentioned the turkey legs?
  • As I stood guard over a cash box, I was "held up" by a guy with two guns - that shot bubbles.
And here are some of my favorite quotes:
  • "I don't care what they say, but Jesus would not have built his cross out of PVC pipe." 
  • "Oh my god, I look like I've been at the titty bar!"
  • "You know, if you had fewer drink coupons, you'd kill fewer trees." 
  • "You're not going to card me?  You bitch!" 
  • Bikers against dumb drivers - this one was a patch on a leather jacket
I didn't get any kisses this year, which is disappointing.  Oh well.  There's always next year.

    Tuesday, September 28, 2010

    Taking on an LA Times blog post

    Here in Arkansas, every once in a very small while, I hear a shade of contempt in the polite "oh, really?" response I get when I say I'm from the East Coast.  Inevitably its followed by a huge Southern smile and a heap of genuine (or a good imitation of it) curiosity about how I found my way to the middle of the country.  And immediately following that, a very sincere "so, you like it here, don't you?"  

    After assuring my companions that I do, indeed, like it here, we are off into some other small talk and this little exchange is left behind.  But as a transplanted Yankee who also happened to grow up in a very small New Hampshire town, I don't begrudge them their suspicion of my homeland. I find it awesome that people here actually care if I like their town.  Because as much as I might complain about the lack of oceans and Red Sox fans, it's a great town, full of great people.  There are hundreds of small towns around this country that are also great towns, full of great people.  That's why this little gem from an LA Times blog made me steam earlier today.  It's a story about Gustavo Dudamel, the new music director for the LA Philharmonic, who just last night conducted the Vienna Philharmonic in a town of 18,000 in Kentucky.

    The title of the entry is "Gustavo Dudamel and Vienna Philharmonic go to a small town in Kentucky. But why?"

    Why?!  As several comments pointed out, "why not?!" Is there something about Kentuckians that make them unworthy of great symphonic music? To give the blogger her due, she did explain that this little town in Kentucky has a pretty impressive history of presenting "known" artists (kind of like a PAC in Arkansas that I happen to know of).  But then she began her final paragraph with this:

    "The nagging question about this was always: Why? Surely students can just watch the DVD like everyone else in small-town America."

    I have to admit that when I read this, my jaw nearly hit the floor.  I don't like being reactionary, and I want to think that this blogger was just trying to make a point about the remarkable nature of this concert.  But, the contempt and dismissal of millions of people in that one little sentence was enough to make me immediately forward the article to a half dozen people to share my outrage (oooh, scary, I know!  Beware the email forward!).  To imply that I don't have as much right as anyone else in this world to experience world-class art is not only elitist, it's downright silly.  I had to come to Arkansas to ever have a chance to meet Yo-Yo Ma or see the Blue Man Group live from the 10th row.  Our little corner of the world is doing its damnedest to bring the arts to every child in our community, and we're doing it without millions of people in our MSA.

    I know many who live on the Coasts or in large "cultured" cities think such thoughts, but I figured they were generally too PC or polite to say them aloud in quite so blatant a manner.  In that, I guess, I should commend this blogger.  At least she didn't try to hide her bias. But then again, I'm live in Arkansas.  I doubt my opinion is worth much to her.  I think I'm goin' to go git some cultcha an' watch me a DVD.  Maybe I'll watch one about Joshua Bell.  Since he'd never come here to Arkansas, right?

    Monday, September 20, 2010

    Madison's greatest hits

    Inevitably, when you leave one place to go to another for nothing more than a new job, the former takes on a nostalgic glow in your memory.  Madison, WI is that place for me.  The city is situated between two lakes, and houses Wisconsin's state capitol, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and probably hundreds of arts organizations and non-profits.  It also hosts the best Farmer's Market I have ever been to.

    UW Madison has a distinguished arts past, as I learned when the UW Chancellor welcomed National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Rocco Landesman (who also went to Colby, my undergrad alma mater).  It had the first dance program in the country, the first glass fine arts program (who knew?) and best of all, the first (and best) Arts Administration program ever.  The latter was my reason to visit Madison, for the bi-annual convening of the alumni of the Bolz Center for Arts Administration, known as Collegium.

    Collegium was a two-day arts geek-fest, as we explored (with the help of some super-smart (and super-quotable) folks like Russell Willis Taylor) such exciting topics as "traditional arts audiences are declining...now what?", "should we care about the distinction between for-profit and non-profit arts?" and how to train the next generation of arts leaders.

    (My favorite Russell quote was about fundraising.  It went something like this:  "It's like piracy.  They have the money.  We want the money.  So we go get the money."  My friends who fundraise didn't find this nearly as funny as I did.) 

    Strangely, I found this gathering far less exhausting than past ones; I think it's because I'm older, wiser and a little more jaded - I don't expect that we'll all rush back to our organizations and make the changes that seem so obviously necessary.  Organizations are large, clunky things that resist change - as a friend once said, it takes a lot of spins of the wheel to turn a big ship.

    But beyond this academic reflection, I got to enjoy the best of my favorite Madison haunts.  Here they are, in no particular order:
    Do you sense a trend?  Here's the view from the Terrace:













    All of these, of course, are only fun because of the people who come with them.  I love these friends - people with whom I shared grad school, who talk smack about the arts as much as they do about football.  We're all a little older now, a little more seasoned, but I'm glad to know we can still spend an afternoon at the Terrace doing nothing more than talking and enjoying each other.

    Whenever I wax sentimental about Madison, I usually find a way to coat all the memories in a glorious autumn glow.  I somehow choose to forget things like the miserable treks down State Street in December, during which I would use the 1/2 mile from the office to class in the freezing cold to dry tears of frustration caused by a certain traditional Christmas theatrical extravaganza.  Or the winters that stretch into April, or the hassle of digging my car out of the snow every single day for months on end.  But really, those negatives don't amount to much in the face of great memories of friends, football, theater, music, dance, parties and yes, geeky arts-talk.

    It's been nearly 8 years since I went back to school.  Frankly, it wouldn't bother me to go back again.  Provided, of course, that all the days are sunny and Terrace-worthy.

    On Wisconsin!

    Sunday, September 12, 2010

    9 years later...

    The last year FLEW.  I can still remember blogging last year about the anniversary of 9/11.  It will be 10 years next year.  Hard to believe.

    Yesterday, I found myself feeling angry at a lot of things.  Strangely, it's not the terrorists that I feel the anger for - they've become something like phantoms in my mind.

    I felt anger against the Florida pastor who's had more than his share of attention for a Quran-burning stunt.

    I felt anger against the Limbaughs and Becks of the world, who have found a magic formula of fear and suggestion that has hijacked so many people's minds.

    I was even angry at Jon Stewart, for being so incredibly cynical and pessimistic. 

    I was angry at the things I don't like about my job.  About how I'm not sure I will ever find someone nice and caring to share my life with.  About how selfish and stupid people are (including myself), every day.  About how many people make billions of dollars doing things that harm the earth, their employees and humanity.  About how much more accepted it is to be mean than it is to be naive.

    I was angry that thousands of people die in our cities everyday, but because they weren't working in the towers that morning, no one is writing tributes to them.

    I was angry that sometimes, it feels that no matter what I do, I can't change anything for the better.  And that it may be I'm fooling myself into thinking I am trying.  

    Today, I stumbled across a blog entry from someone who has far more of a right than I do to be angry and sad.  She lived blocks from the World Trade Center.  Here's the entry.

    And the anger drains away when I realize how many people ran back into the Towers to try to help.  So many lives were saved by kindness and courage.  Why does it take a massive tragedy for us to take care of each other?  It shouldn't. Why don't we try to comfort the sick and the scared like that in our daily lives?  Because it's easier not to?

    Something to ponder.

    Thursday, September 9, 2010

    More fun links...and a few random thoughts...

    Oooh!  I'm liking this "linking to other blogs" stuff.  But before I share some more, two things.

    One - last night I was reading some old blog posts, and I realized I never posted the conclusion of the Lawn Mower Wars.  Shame on me!  The abridged version is that the key to our heroine's mowing troubles was the height of the wheels.  Simple fix, right?  Just raise them up, using the handy little levers!  Alas, those were rusted solid.  Ok, so.  Next tactic - WD-40!  After that failed, our heroine stared at the mower for long moments, then, with a calm, serene smile, found her hammer and beat the crap out of those levers.  And guess what?  They moved!  Victory!  Well, sort of.  The levers were moved too high, and so mowing the lawn was largely ineffective.  So next time out, out came the hammer again, and back went the levers.  Now all works as it should.  A true triumph of persistence and brute force over the evil forces of "just-hire-someone-or-find-a-guy-so-he'll-mow-your-lawn."

    Two - I am APPALLED at the attention one pastor in Florida is getting these days.  We should all be embarrassed by how much ink, digital or otherwise, we have wasted on this guy.  The best I can say is not an original thought.  This guy is making the comparison clear - he's representing a fundamentalist brand of Christianity, that does NOT represent the many good, decent people who practice that religion, in protest of the fundamentalist brand of Islam, which does NOT represent the many good, decent people...you get it.  Enough of that.  Back to sharing the blogging love!

    This actually isn't a blog, but I like the site - Hipcooks - it's a cooking program in LA that I took with some friends a few weeks back.  This is the kind of stuff that makes me miss living in a big city.

    Next on the list is Seth's Blog, a marketing blog which a lot of people follow.  Seth is a bit too quick to make sweeping generalizations (and once in a while I wonder whether he gets out into the real world enough), but he never fails to make me think. And, I have a soft spot because by subscribing to his blog, I was able to have my name appear in a real, honest book!  Check out the latest version of Purple Cow (page 180-181), which features my short essay about Trey McIntyre Project.

    And finally, my friend Angie runs two blogs, but this is her running blog.  She's pretty determined in her running goals, and it's really inspiring.  And there are cute pictures of her son, Miracle Max.  That's hard to beat.

    It's almost Friday!  Rejoice, y'all!

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010

    new look (and links!) for my blog

    Oooh...look.  Pretty new background and style for my blog.  It's like a makeover, but doesn't require me to lose weight or wear fake eyelashes.

    Today I start a new weekly feature where I highlight a few blogs/websites I like (and add them to the new list at right). I finally realized that it's time to started talking about all of the other great bloggers, thinkers and talkers out there.  Because after all, the 6 of you who read this blog are just dying for my wisdom.

    Today's featured blogs/site:

    The Artful Manager - widely one of the most respected arts administration bloggers out there, the author just happens to be the guy who edited my thesis and allowed me to get my graduate degree.  He's always good at asking those tough (and often abstract) questions to get you thinking.

    Catalog living - this one's just funny.  It imagines the lives of people who live in our catalogs.

    not a CRUMB left - a blog by one of my favorite people to run into at work.  The recipe for the beer margarita won me over. 

    Enjoy!  The weekend is almost here.  Three cheers for 4 day weeks.

    Monday, August 30, 2010

    Back to the grind...back in the saddle..

    Back to the future...back to life, back to reality...

    Well, you get the point.  I'm back in Arkansas after a 10 day furlough, during which I conquered the New England, LA, San Diego, multiple airports and seared sesame tuna.  It was a good trip!

    Day 2 in San Diego consisted of a self-guided tour of the USS Midway Museum, which I enjoyed tremendously.  I'm not sure why, but I've always found the world of the military fascinating, even before my future sister-in-law/Navy officer came onto the scene.  The highlight, for me, was seeing (and walking in!) the helicopter that picked up the Apollo astronauts.  And I couldn't stop thinking about that NCIS episode when the agents visit an aircraft carrier and get hopelessly lost.  I'm sure it would happen to me; I'd get confused, wander into the Master Chief's quarters and wind up in the brig. 

    San Diego was having a "heat wave" while I was there - it was over 80 degrees.  That's just funny.  But by day 2 it had cooled off, and so my visit to Balboa Park was lovely, though I arrived too late to enjoy much of the museum scene.  Headed over to Coronado Island again to walk the beach and shops, then drove back through the Old Town and turned in for the night.  Would have been a perfect lazy night except that my neighbors in the hotel blasted loud music until 4 am or so.  What, is the Courtyard Marriott a college dorm now?  Sheesh.

    Then it was back to LA for a day, where I spent some quality time with a friend and we went to see a movie "Hollywood Style", which meant people-watching and chatting about "the industry" in a mall (no roofs on California malls, you know).  I was one of a few females in the theater for The Expendables, which was predictably ridiculous, though I enjoyed the gratuitous explosions and smack downs as much as the next person.  The best part of the movie was Jet Li, whom we didn't see nearly enough of. As my friend said, The Expendables is for people who thought Ocean's Eleven was too cerebral. 

    The big news of the evening was that, if you live in a big city, you can get food of all ethnicities delivered to your door! We had vegan Thai food. It was tasty.  A Vegan Thai restaurant that delivers?  We have Thai restaurants here in Arkansas.  The pizza places deliver.  And that's about it.  I'm seriously jealous. 

    We had an "early brunch" (my breakfast wrap had to have avocado in it, right?) and then it was off to the airport for more hurry up and wait.  I'm happy to report that I had a lovely conversation with one of my seat mates on the flight from LAX to IAH - turns out he manages a band that played at the venue across the street from my venue here in Arkansas.  Luckily, someone sat between us and so they chewed the fat for the entire flight, which is good because I don't think I could have kept it up.  So the verdict on my "plane chatting" gene is that I have it, but it's clearly dominated by the "I'm reading and/or sleeping on a plane" gene.   And get this!  I was so focused on the book I was reading on my Kindle as we were leaving the gate that I forgot to turn the Kindle off, and the 1st mate busted me over the loudspeaker!  Me and several others blackberry/I-Phone delinquents, of course, but he specifically identified a Kindle that needed to be turned off.  Cool.

    However, I also learned, officially, that the turning off electronics thing is a crock, because the guy behind me on the final leg of my trip played his rap music long after the rest of us had put our headphones away.  I mean, seriously, what's the point of headphones if we all can hear the lyrics (swears and all) of your music through them?

    And now it's time to go back to work.  Being away, and marginally unplugged, has clarified a few things for me.  When I would check email from road, and come across something that made me mad or stressed, I'd just ignore it and or decide not to let it bother me.  I think it's going to be very important, for my mental health, to keep doing that even when I'm on the clock.  I like myself a lot more when I'm not getting irritated or stressed, and I can imagine other people feel the same.  So the big lesson of this trip is trying to maintain a vacation mentality while also doing my job and being responsible to my boss and staff.  No problem, right?  :)

    Thursday, August 26, 2010

    Moon over San Diego...

    As I've been typing, the moon has risen in a perfect bisection of the curtains in my downtown San Diego hotel room.   Another good omen for what's been a great vacation so far?  I hope so.

    When we left off before, I was waxing pompous about a photograph I'd seen at the Getty.  Seriously, though, the Getty was VERY cool.  Maybe I'll post a video of my photos later on if I get ambitious.  But here's one, just as a tease...

    Without going into detail, here are the two big things I learned at the Getty:

    1.  Old manuscripts are COOL.  Especially when they're illuminated.

    2.  When it comes to modeling, I am living in the wrong era.  The women in the paintings in the 1600's and later are round, curvy and gorgeous.  Here's hoping we get back to that standard of beauty sometime soon! 

    The day at the Getty was followed by a super fun evening with friends taking a "hipcooks" class - where we learned to make roasted pepper soup, seared sesame tuna, mango-ginger salsa, and strawberry sorbet.  YUM!!!!  That, and we learned the proper "chopping" motions so we can look almost as cool as the Top Chef cooks.

    Then I hit the road for San Diego.  I was like a 5 year old when I saw my first glance at the Pacific, and even cruised the Coast Highway for a little bit, narrowly missing causing several fender benders as I gaped at the waves and beaches.  Enjoyed a walk along the waterfront, where I ran into two business colleagues whom I haven't seen in over a year - they just happened to be walking on the waterfront in San Diego at the same time I was!  WEIRD.  It's a small world after all, I guess.  (Apologies if I put that song in your head...it's been in mine all day so it's only fair that I share).   Then I headed out to dinner on Coronado Island with Brenda, my brother's fiance, who also got us onto the Naval base to watch the sunset on the beach.  Two words for that... Awe. Some.

    And now, an early night.  This vacation thing is pretty cool.  I should do this more often.

    Wednesday, August 25, 2010

    A day at the Getty...

    I'm not sure what heaven will look like, assuming I get there, but I think I got a glimpse of it today when I spent a few hours at the Getty Museum in LA.  Or at least, I got a glimpse at what I can imagine architects strive for when they design a building; a sense of the celestial on earth, and the harmony of architecture, art and nature that creates something akin to magic.

    Visiting the Getty is "free" - except for the $15 parking charge.  You start your journey (after being greeted by an army of smiling docents) by piling into spiffy little trams that wind you up the hills to the museum, which is actually a research institute and conservation center as well as a public museum.  As you climb, you see the houses and buildings built seemingly in defiance of gravity on the hills, and suddenly landslides make sense.  The tram spills you out onto a gleaming white courtyard, and here's where I start to marvel at the skill of the construction; everything is white, yet it's not that abrasive to your eyes.  Sunglasses are a good thing, though.  Outdoor sculpture spears above the courtyard, set at a strange contrast to the view of a developed Califormia hill. 

    As you wander into the Getty, the first thing you want to do is wander out...into the courtyard, around which the different pavilions are clustered.  Fountains, cafes, tables, chairs...they all beckon you to relax and enjoy as your eyes are drawn up and out to the structures of the buildings and the views that beckon just beyond your eyesight.  No one is whispering, kids have room to run and wade in the water and get their energy out before you duck into the cool, air conditioned galleries, which are actually a bit hard to find. 

    My first stop was the photographic exhibition, titled Engaged Observers: Documentary Photography since the Sixies.  Unwieldy title aside, it was the most compelling (and non-heavenly) exhibition I saw during my visit.  Lots of war photography and images of civil unrest, which I guess is what there's been to photograph in the last 50 years.  I was struck speechless by one photo from Philip Jones Griffiths, which, among all the photos in the exhibition and the accompanying book, had absolutely no description.  It didn't need one, other than the knowledge that Mr. Griffiths photographed the Vietnam war, and attempted to show something other than the glory of battle. Here's the photo - and here's the link where I found it online, as part of his "Vietnam, Inc" publication.



    It's the man's wedding ring that just took my breath. That, and the little girl is wearing pretty earrings.

    In fact, I think this is enough for now.  More later.  If you can, just sit with this photo for a few moments.  See what it says.

    Tuesday, August 24, 2010

    Why I love hanging out in airports...

    Let me preface this blog entry by saying I especially love hanging out in airports with free WIFI.  Thanks, MHT.  You're awesome.   Wifi makes a flight delay less irritating, for sure.  So do a plethora of power outlets. 

    Traveling by air - alone - is the one endeavor in our entire modern lives that we can do without any social repercussions.  Unlike non-airport life, when one is traveling alone, you get the better end of the deal - it's a lot easier to entertain yourself, and yourself alone, than it is to entertain a family of bored kids or work acquaintances.  In an airport, you can listen to music, read a book, or tap away on your computer without guilt or fear of pity because, quite honestly, there's NOTHING ELSE TO DO.  And these aforementioned activities are what single people spend a lot of time doing.  Because, frankly, we don't have to do laundry for our kids or help our spouse with whatever project he/she is working on. 

    Being single in a couple-focused society is never easy.  But it can be fun.  Would I rather have a companion with me on my Both Coast vacation, both to share the cost and excitement and for some romance?  Sure.  Do I wish that there was a big strong man around to tote my bags for me?  Of course (though my independent soul might not let him).    But the simple reality is that single people are only limited by our own self-consciousness in what we can do.  When I leave the comfort and anonymity of the airport, will people look at me with pity when I go to a restaurant or gallery or attraction? Maybe.  But why should I care?  I'm going to have fun.  This is my life.  And I can do anything I want.  Without checking with someone else.  There's something to be said for that.

    Monday, August 23, 2010

    Both Coast vacation...last day on the East Coast

    Well, my plan to dip my toes into both oceans on this trip hasn't come to fruition, but it's ok.  It's been raining and cool here in NH, which really doesn't bother me at all.  I got to read The Help straight through.  I always experience a fleeting sense of guilt when I jump onto the bandwagon of a popular book, but then I remind myself that there's a reason things become popular. And I enjoyed this book. Quite a bit, actually.  As I was telling my dad about it, I said something quite flippant - "You wouldn't like this one, Dad...it's a girl's book."  As usual, he surprised me by saying he'd heard about it and wanted to read it.  Never assume, right?  Good to be reminded of that. Anyway, as usually happens after I read a good book, I feel inadequate when I try to write my own words.  So instead of putting together clear thoughts, I thought I'd just share some of the more interesting observances from my last few days in New England.

    Friday night activities included attempting to drive to Manchester to pick up my brother and his girlf...er...fiance.  However, a lack of working brakes on my dad's car ended that pretty quickly.  Being able to stop is a good thing, it turns out.

    Saturday, the five of us piled into the rental car and drove to Weirs Beach, where we boarded the Mt. Washington, a small cruise boat that has been cruising Lake Winnepesaukee since before I was born.  We had a nice day on the water; it's really beautiful on the lake.  I miss New England architecture. And it was probably no hotter than 70 or 72 degrees.  Amazing.

    Sunday brought a day trip to Boston.  On the way, I saw a snowplow driving down the road (in the summer!) and spent about 20 minutes in IKEA (just that little bit was awesome).  All I could think was that, if they removed the exit signs from the store, one could literally get lost in there and NEVER find your way out.  Which I suppose is the point.  Then on to Jamaica Plain, MA, where I got to meet Elsa, the two-month old daughter of one of my college roommates.  What a sweetie.  I love hanging with babies, especially when I get to hand them back to their mamas after a while.  Then a slow, easy evening with my parents, eating spaghetti and listening to the rain. 

    Today's been equally quiet and slow.  It's great.  I finished my book, and now my mom and I are going shopping.  A time-honored Mother/Daughter tradition. 

    Life is so different here.  In a good way.  It makes me realize that, like a good recipe, life should be made up of many places and paces and styles.  Use one spice?  The food is boring or overwhelming.  But have a mix of flavors, and your food is tasty. 

    Well, adios, New Hampshire.  It's always fun to hang out for a few days.  Tomorrow will begin the West Coast portion of our menu.  Stay tuned.

    Friday, August 20, 2010

    The Both Coast vacation begins...

    Keeping better track of my trips was one of the first reasons I started blogging, so for those who don't find it interesting to get a play-by-play of my travels, you might want to tune out for a few days. 10, to be exact. Because that's how long my vacation is, baby! Wahoo!

    Just a brief mention of how much I need this break. Ok, that was brief enough.

    So, day one was about travel. XNA to MHT. Last summer, when traveling to a conference in Chicago, I discovered that I'm missing a "networking gene". I discovered another genetic deficiency while traveling yesterday. It's the "strike up fun and exciting conversations with my fellow travelers" gene. Flight one, I sat next to a man who, as we boarded, was on his bluetooth complaining to his wife about their daughter's bad attitude. Try starting up a "hi, how are you, what do you do?" conversation after that. Flight 2, I'm in the very firstest of the first seats on the plane, and I can't get the flight attendant to do more than give me a fake smile. And as much as I made like a 6-year old and craned my head to try to see the buttons in the cockpit, the pilots weren't talking, either. It is me? It must be me. I have a secret fear that I'll miss a chance to chat up [insert really interesting or important person here] because for some reason I give off the "don't talk to me" vibe. I'll have to work harder on flights 3 and 4 later in the trip.

    To recap, on this Both Coast vacation, I'll be spending 4 days in NH and 5 days in CA. For a total of 6 plane flights.

    So now I'm hanging in my old 'hood for a few days. As happens every time I come home, I'm surprised by how much smaller it is in reality than in my head. Last night I walked up the hill from where my grandma's mobile home used to be, remembering playing Star Wars in the snow with my cousins and brother; I swear that hill was like a mini-ski slope when I was a kid. Surely the stairs to the 2nd floor were steeper and longer than they are now. What I don't get is why it's the kid-sized memories that stick with me. I mean, I also lived in this house as a teenager and adult. How come I remember so clearly the woods where we beat back the bushes to make a fort? Or the old, creepy treehouse that was razed to the ground for safety reasons at least two decades ago?

    Regardless, I love coming here. The weather gods have sent me 80 degrees with low humidity and blue, blue skys that are pierced by the tall pine trees I miss so much when I'm not in New England. There's a wind, a special NH wind that rustles the trees. The cicadas sounded different from their Arkansan brethren last night. And there's JoJo's Country Store, aka the Store (as I'm writing this I realize that's what I always do in my head when talking about it - I capitalize "Store"), our family's business that is just one year younger than me. My apologies to the rest of you who have to make due with supermarkets, but you just can't beat "going shopping" with your mom in your own deli, bakery and grocery store. Want dessert? Head out to the Store to get a whoopie pie. Need a muffin for breakfast? Wheedle your dad into getting one for you. Want lunch? Wait 'til the lunch rush is over and then make yourself a "Damn Good Sub". It's awesome.

    Today will be about nothing much other than reading (my current read is Seaworthy, by Linda Greenlaw, and I'm enjoying it immensely), writing, walking down to the beach, and vegging out. Ahh. My kind of vacation.

    And PS - it was great to watch the Pats play - I'm so ready for football.  I'll say this, though - Tom Brady needs a haircut.  Badly.

    Wednesday, August 18, 2010

    90 years ago

    I have to confess that if conscientious friends hadn't alerted me via facebook, I wouldn't have known that today is the 90th anniversary of Tennessee's ratification of the 19th amendment, which gave the amendment the required number of states to make it a reality.  I'm so glad I was reminded.

    90 years and one day ago, I wouldn't have been able to vote.  That just...boggles the mind.  (I'd probably also have bad teeth and very thick spectacles, but I digress) Don't get me wrong.  I know sexism and discrimination of all kinds still exist today.  I work at an organization that has far more women than men, and for my first 4 years, was successfully led by a female President/CEO.  More than once, a colleague in the field has asked me, in all seriousness, "so, have they hired some men over there yet?  I sure hope so."  I know about glass ceilings, and the many, many inequities that still exist between women and men, between races, economic classes, and so on.

    I'm also the first to admit that I am a very lucky, privileged woman.  I was raised to believe I could do anything I wanted, and for the most part, I have.  I went to good schools, both undergrad and graduate.  I haven't ever experienced what a true victim of discrimination must feel.  I have been trying, all day, to imagine what it must have been like to be a woman 90 years ago, knowing that I'm considered less than a full citizen of my country.  Would I have had the courage to march, to risk arrest or physical harm, for the right to vote?  I honestly don't know, and that is embarassing. 

    What strikes me most about today is that my particular gender/race combination got the right to vote only 90 years ago.  Just 90 years...a historical blip.  Those of us who care about politics and our society's progression should remember that we've corrected a lot of wrongs in the brief time our little republic has existed.  There are more to correct.  We're not done.  We're not perfect. We can't crawl behind walls and wish the pace of social change would slow.  Because if it had, many of us wouldn't have the rights and privileges we enjoy today. 

    Wednesday, August 4, 2010

    Ok, enough with this heat...

    I'm serious, you know.  No fooling.  We're on something like our thousandth day of heat indexes over 100.  I kid you not, I dropped a tomato on my driveway today and the heat cooked it.  It's so hot, my hair is getting straighter.  Well, not really, but a girl can dream.

    This is the time of year when I ask myself "why-oh-why-oh-why did I move to Arkansas?  What's wrong with Canada?  Or Bar Harbor?  Or Alaska?"  It's getting harder to remember those warm, sunny February and November days, when I made fun those who live in the cold, perpetually winter-laden north.  It's also increasingly difficult not to shout "Global warming is a hoax???  Really???" (Yes, I know, one hot summer does not a global crisis make).  I find myself getting angry that it's so damn hot, though who to direct the anger at is a bit of a challenge.  The sun, frankly, has other things to worry about.

    I did have an epiphany today, though, after I drove a mere block to an interview to escape walking in the heat.   As I was feeling vaguely lazy and guilty about driving, I realized that, in the winter, if it were 10 below, I would also drive.  In the winter, in cold climates, you hustle from heated room to heated car to heated room and back again.  It's no different in the summer - from AC'd room, to car, to room, and so on. Is it lazy?  Yes.  Would I suffer bodily harm if I walked?  Not really.  Will I henceforth walk even on the hottest of days or coldest of mornings? Uh, nope!  AC or heat is fine by me.

    In this, at least, I say three cheers for technology.   And shade.  And sprinklers.  Once I'm not so new to the 'hood, I think I'll run through my neighbor's sprinkler, just for fun.  Or maybe I'll go bust open a fire hydrant.  That'd be cool.

    Or perhaps, to avoid arrest and incarceration, I'll just settle for another glass of iced tea.  Stay cool, y'all.

    Wednesday, July 28, 2010

    musings...

    Tonight presents nothing particularly mind-blowing to write about, so my preemptive apologies to those seeking wit and humor.  But it's been a weird couple of days.  And the best I can say is that the weirdness isn't keeping me up at night.  Something is, but it's not the weirdness.  More on that later.

    Yesterday, after more time spent talking about roses & chocolate than I ever thought I'd experience (and no, they were not romantic love tokens given to me by a devoted beau - I wish!), I left work late and drove halfway to my old apartment before I realized I don't live there anymore.  Weird.  And today I surrendered the keys.  After the drama associated with trying to break my lease, simply turning in the keys was hugely anticlimactic.

    In the working world, all I can say is this: Chip Davis, wherever you are, thanks for that bargaining and negotiating class.

    Miracle of miracles, it was cool enough today to go for a walk after dinner.  Or more like a suburban wildlife safari.  I had encounters with a chihuahua, an orange kitty, a bunny rabbit and multiple birds.  There was (were?) more fauna than humans.

    The Lawnmower Saga continues - our heroine's plans to mow tonight (and use the WD-40 purchased so the next door neighbor would not have to swoop in to the rescue ) were thwarted by rain.  You know, the sum total of life skills that we are NOT taught in school is staggering.  Example - what is the rule for mowing wet grass?  When is it dry enough? 

    Did I mention that I no longer reside in an apartment?  And, despite my inability to get a lawn mowing routine going, how frickin' cool I find that?

    Spectacular rainbow on the way home from work today.  It made me instantly 1000% times more likely to crash my car as I twisted and craned to see it.  I wish we could all push a magic "stop life" button and just sit and look at stuff like that when it happens.
     
    For some reason, this morning I was remembering my first few days in grad school, where I first got a taste of the confidence that comes with knowing you are exactly where you're supposed to be.  I miss that feeling.  Will have to ponder how to get it back.

    Well, my plans for an early bedtime (and an early waking, but we all know how likely that is to happen) have gone awry.  Here's hoping the oh-so-irritating peeper outside my bedroom window has decided to bed down for the evening.  Otherwise, I might have to get violent.  Against a tiny bug.  In the middle of the night.  With a big stick and a...oh forget it.  A pillow over the head will have to do. Good night, all.

    Sunday, July 18, 2010

    domesticity

    It's strange, indeed, that a new living space can have such a profound effect on one's pysche.  Maybe it's having a project, something to keep you busy...or maybe it's just that changing your surroundings can change your point of view.  Doesn't matter, really...it's still pretty cool.   But I've done some very uncharacteristically domestic things these last few weeks.  Such as suffer through the Lawn Mower Wars so I could mow my gigantic lawn (more on that later), spend $200 on plants, pots and potting soil for my patio, and willingly make my bed at least once in a while.  Weird.

    For those who care, here's a few photos of the inside of the house in it's current state - no real new decor, just old stuff rehung, but it's starting to look like someone actually lives there.

    Strangely, my favorite "room" is actually the hallway - for some reason my old posters on the walls just make me happy.  I found one hidden in a pile of stuff today that I'd forgotten - that always a nice moment.  It's like finding a pair of jeans you'd packed away - and having them fit when you try them on!


    A trip to Hobby-Lobby last week should have netted me all kinds of schmaltzy decor, but I wound up spending a mere $6 on two metal signs - one of which now hangs in the entrance to the guest bathroom and states the obvious in manufactured vintage style.  Astute observers will note that the shower curtain in here is the one my mom made me more than 10 years ago when I got my first apartment.


     I'm particularly proud of this little gem - the towel rack in the master bath.  I installed it myself!  I managed to put it up in one try, and it looks smashing.  My first real project with my spiffy new screw gun.  And I even used a level.  And math to measure the position.  Go me.

    The best part about this room is that it's nowhere near complete - there are hutches to buy and artwork to search out...but the vase of ivy trimmings is what's making me smile.  Just that little bit of green (alive, not fake), makes a difference, and will prompt me to seek out more greenery.  No promises on said greenery's longevity and life span, but it will be appreciated no matter how quickly I kill it.

    By far the best part of my first month of home rentership was coming home on Saturday and noting a stranger mowing my backyard.  Normally, strangers in my backyard would be serious cause for concern, but it turns out that my neighbors got a new riding mower and wanted to "test" it on my pathetic, partially mowed battlefield...er...lawn.  And they plan to test the mower in the future, to which I say, bring it on!  Definitely a pay it forward moment. 

    So all in all, this whole domesticity thing is pretty sweet.  It's certainly getting me out of the office on time - how odd that I want to get home so I can clean, organize, plant and install things.  As I said before, weird. 

    Tuesday, July 6, 2010

    an unproductive productive day(s)

    What a weird couple of days.  Cool, in the "I-don't-have-to-work-so-I-can-do-pretty-much-whatever-I-want" way of a single gal, but weird in that, despite all that I did, I didn't really accomplish much.  Unless you count being one load of laundry and a few stray electronics away from totally emptying my old apartment as an accomplishment.

    In the course of zipping back and forth 'tween chez old and chez nouveau, I've come across some weirdness.  Like a car driving down the wrong way on the road to my old apartment (heart failure, anyone??).  Or the guy coasting down the hill on a too-small bike, puffing away on a cigarette while giving me a charming smile 'n nod.  Or the AT&T tech who, after what felt like two hours on the phone last night, failed to tell me the simple fact that my cable was plugged into the wrong input.  Even after I ASKED.  Or when the AT&T repairman (who arrived at 11:54 when my appointment was between 8am and noon...seriously) discovered the aforementioned oversight, and then spent 20 minutes chatting me up while the system rebooted, giving me enough insight into his life for me know that he's twice divorced, has 5 kids, served in the marine corps (medical discharge), likes Star Wars, and plans to get a 15-inch MacBook Pro (since, after all, his lap is bigger than mine, hence the need for a larger monitor).  Or the access road that wasn't very accessible at all - forcing me to drive on a dirt road after having JUST washed my car. Harumph.

    I shopped a lot, it seems, but didn't buy much.  A bath mat is probably the most exciting of the purchases.  Some of my art/decor is beginning to fill the walls, but I really don't want to put all that old, cheesy stuff up on those fresh surfaces.  The indecision of what piece of art/decor/furniture to buy is driving me insane, so I may just decide that a washer/dryer is the first purchase, and nothing else comes until that's paid off. 

    As I read this, it actually doesn't sound all that weird.  Maybe what's weird is this new space I'm calling home - as a friend said, it feels a bit like I'm living in a hotel room, not really in my own space.  I wonder when that'll change.

    Wednesday, June 30, 2010

    I'm moved in...

    Tonight, I sat on MY PATIO with friends as the sun went down, eating pizza, drinking wine, watching one of the kids throw a tennis ball in MY BACKYARD.  I have furniture in my house.  The girls made my bed for me.  The boys took the door off to get the big chair into the "reading room."  I pulled my car into the garage.  I'll spend my first night here on freshly cleaned, 600 count sheets.

    I'm blessed.  To have a job I love, a new house to explore, and friends who pretty much demanded that I ask them for help.  It's humbling.  And amazing.

    Good night, world, from 1802 Pine Cone Drive.  See you tomorrow.

    Monday, June 28, 2010

    living in limbo

    Ok, I tried.  Really I did.  I very much wanted to avoid blogging about the inevitable metaphors and ironies of moving.  You know the tired cliches: "A chance at a clean slate." "Dust off your ambitions." "Oh my god - where did that [insert old, sentimental item you'd forgotten you owned here] come from?"

    But it's just too interesting.  Especially now, as I find myself in the strange situation of having nearly all of my worldly possessions (minus my clothes, bathroom products and 1 each of the following: plate, bowl, glass and toaster) in a location where I'm not sleeping.  Even my bedframes have moved; they wait patiently at the new house while I sleep on my box spring and mattress, held hostage by my single pair of hands and lack of truck. 

    Strangely, I am enjoying coming back to an empty apartment - no TV, no computer, no microwave.  The blank walls are soothing, lulling me into the sense that I could exist like this, with nothing more than my Kindle and I Phone to keep me in books and music.  

    Yet I still get that little thrill of walking into the new house, although it's diminished slightly by the sight of all my old stuff waiting patiently to be disbursed.  How incredible it would be if I could truly throw everything out and start fresh?  Alas, that kind of luxury is for the % of folks that I am definitely not a part of.

    But the new house is where the internet is.  It's where the memories I've stored boxes will keep taking up space.  It's where my favorite books reside, currently in a messy heap on the floor, but just waiting for me to obsessively organize them (by genre, then author this time, I think). 

    It's where I've moved myself for at least the next 12 months.  There's a lot riding on it, not the least of which is my need for new projects to keep me energized.  I will miss the pond and the walking trails.  I won't miss having neighbors below me.  I'll miss having a "mountain" behind me to hike upon.  I won't miss not having a garage.

    I haven't figured out what's behind the trees on my property yet.  I want it to be a stream that I can walk along, among big, old-growth trees.  But it might not be, so I keep putting off the exploration, saving a little bit of surprise and/or disappointment for later. 

    Regardless, I fully admit that I'm weird; I love moving.  It's a new chapter.  Bring it on.

    Wednesday, June 16, 2010

    Ducks and pins and houses, oh my!

    By accident I just saw all the photos from my I-Phone in rapid succession as they downloaded onto my MacBook.  They zipped by in a strangely cool montage. Before this, if you'd asked me how the past year has gone for me, I'd say "eh, it was ok."  But as I got a quick glance at all the photos (they were just begging for a soundtrack), I was surprised to realize that my life has really been quite something.  I've seen and done a lot.  Spent time with family and friends.  Traveled.  Eaten good food.  Drunk good wine.  Laughed at life's absurdities and little gifts.  Seriously...I'm a pretty lucky gal.  And it's good to be reminded of that from time to time.

    Here, in no particular order, are some of the things that have made me smile recently.

    1.  Tad and Fritz, the ducks in the pond near my soon-to-be-former apartment, have been waiting for me when I get home from work.  This has happened twice this week.





    2. It's been (relatively) quiet at work - we haven't had a show/event in four days! My staff has been laughing a lot this week, or maybe I'm just noticing it more.  It's nice to hear.  Makes me want to figure out how we can laugh more when there are 20 shows we're marketing at once.  Hmmm.

    3. My brother graduated from Duke last month.  With his MBA.  He won't say it, but that's a pretty damn big deal.  I was proud.  And best of all, he met Brenda at Duke, who has made him happy.  That's what matters, right?

    4.  Somehow I've managed to connect to Outward Bound's social media channels, and after an innocent comment on twitter, I received an OB pin in the mail.  This is going to sound lame, but it absolutely made my day.  I've never forgotten about my OB sailing adventure (see top right photo), but I have missed being more directly connected to it.  And I've felt vaguely ashamed; wondering if, given that I've gained weight and am not an athlete anymore, I could hack it in the super-active/outdoorsy OB world.  Losing weight is probably the biggest worry in my life now, and so I've decided to pin my OB pin on my purse and take it with me wherever I go, because, cheesy as it sounds, OB taught me that the only limit on my success is one I place there. I need inspiration.  I'm not sure if a pin can do it, but it's a start.


    5.  On Saturday, I saw my good pal Lisa for the first time since she left Walton Arts Center for new adventures.  She and Jenn and I got tipsy at brunch.  It was fun.  (But having a wine hangover in the afternoon? Not so much.)

    6. I've made myself a new rule; no watching TV until I work out.  Surprisingly, I've stuck to it for two weeks now, with only one or two lapses.  As a result, I've been walking more, and as always, I feel a million times better.  It makes me feel like a 5 year old,  being bribed to eat my vegetables, but I'll take whatever I can get these days.

    Speaking of walking, it's spring, and a few weeks back the honeysuckle was incredible.  I've also come across some pretty flowers along the path.  They're at right.

    Still on the walking thing, I discovered a program that will tell you the beats per minute on songs, so I can build a songlist of great walking beats.  Unfortunately, I walk in a public place, which doesn't let me dance to the tunes like I want to.  Someday, maybe, I'll get the guts to not care if people think I'm an idiot and just do it.


    7. And finally, after months of hemming, hawing, and generally being wishy-washy, I have a new rental house!  It's cute, clean, has a yard and a garage and I get the keys on Saturday.  I feel like a kid waiting to go to Disney World; three days is just TOO long to bear.



    It's been nice to feel positive lately, and there's really only one negative I took from my "life in pictures" montage.  There aren't enough people in them.  I've always known that I like taking pictures of things, objects.  But I wonder if focusing on people will make the montage even better.  Hmmmm...

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010

    I'll never do that again...

    Wow.  It's been over a month since I last posted.  I guess that means I was a) really busy b) so depressed even my blog couldn't cheer me up or c) lacking in bloggable material.  Happily, it's "a".  Good grief, this has been a busy month.

    Before launching into my post, I'd just like to pause and say that I've been reading some youth fiction lately, a series by James Patterson about kids who have wings. Strangely, I find myself wanting to talk like these kids (totally, like, gotta stop that), but the most curious realization I had while reading is that the emotions and mood swings of teenagers still happen to those of us in our 30's.  We go from the top of the world to feeling like a fat, miserable middle-school loser in the space of a few hours, nay, minutes.  I wonder if those feelings ever go away.  Or maybe that's just me and I should seek professional help.  Whatever.

    Anyway, today I tried out the bike trails in Fayetteville, which have been earning rapturous facebook posts and raves from friends for a while now.  As part of my new "I've got the exercise discipline of a 5-year-old" rule (no TV before I've exercised), I rented a bike from Clubhaus Fitness on Dickson and struck out.  Here's a quick recap:

    Mile .25
    Holy crap.  I forgot how to do this.  Oh god!  I'm gonna fall off the sidewalk! 

    Mile 1
    Ok, yeah, that's more like it.  Oh look!  Gears - I remember those!

    Mile 1.25
    Jeez.  There are no railings on these trails.  If I'm not careful, I'm gonna sail off that curve into Scull Creek.  Next time I'm wearing my helmet.  

    Mile 1.5
    Yeah.  This doesn't suck.   

    Mile 2
    Helmet vs. non-helmet tally.  About even so far.  I should be wearing mine.   

    Mile 3
    Feeling great!  Had a spiritual moment as I rounded a turn and realized that I had absolutely no idea what was around the next bend.  Definitely gonna blog about that later on. 

    Mile 3.75
    End of Scull Creek trail?  Whatever - on to Mud Creek!

    Mile 4
    Mind blank.  This is AWESOME.

    Mile 5
    Hmmm. Mud Creek trail feels harder - energy starting to fade.

    Mile 5.something
    You know what would make these trails even cooler?  Water fountains.  Sprinklers would also be cool.

    Mile 6.something
    Losing track of miles.  But look - there's a circle up ahead...the perfect sign it's time to turn around. 

    Mile who knows
    Jeez.  I'm out of shape.  These little inclines are killing me.
     

    Later
    Hey - it's Matt Lee from work going the other direction!  Hi Matt!  No, I'm not about to keel over, though it looks like it.

    Even later
    I was just passed by a sweaty man who was at least 15 years older than me.  For shame. 

    Am I done yet?
    Whoosh - another familiar face.  Was concentrating so hard on pedaling I nearly missed saying hi.

    Come on, I've gotta be done
    Still not clear on the etiquette of these nifty little trail bike crossings on main roads.  Thankfully, drivers have taken pity on me and waved me across the street. 

    FINISH LINE
    Yes, I will walk the bike up the last hill and triumphantly coast into the Clubhaus parking lot.

    Seriously, though, it was really quite something to experience that trail for the very first time.  There were little gifts literally around every corner: a whiff of honeysuckle here, a dark and puddle-strewn tunnel there.  I remembered previous lives where I biked around a lake in Madison or with the Alps in the background in Switzerland.  I thought of my dad, who bought a bike and likes to ride around his community in Florida.  But most of all, I just kept marveling that each hill or turn was something I'd never experienced before, and would never, ever experience again in this way.  We all should get that little taste of the pioneer spirit once in while, I think: that little fear of what might be lurking in the shadows (buffalo or pedestrians, for example).  There are too few surprising experiences left in our lives these days.  But for the record, I prefer my pioneering to be done with gears and a helmet, not a covered wagon, thank you very much.