Somebody Else's to them, whomever they may be.

Somebody Else's to them, whomever they may be.
How I feel after throwing a party...

Thanks for the visit!! :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Late Night Bookies and The Red Iguana

Hello my friends...or perhaps just the great ether, either way--

If you have been paying attention to me lately you will know that I just met with my local girls for our January Late Night Bookies book club and some epicurean delight at The Red Iguana in Salt Lake City, Utah.

First, let's get the book out of the way. We read The Liar’s Club by Mary Karr. I liked it in a depressing, life-sucks-but-her-life-really-sucked kind of away.

A childhood full of alcohol, psychosis, meanness and a little bit of child abuse and molestation. Not awesome. But, the book must have hit me at the right time (mostly up in the middle of the night, can't sleep for the pain, 2 a.m. cramptacular-I'm-sick-to-my-stomach readings while suffering with a touch of a bug of one sort or another), because I got caught up in the drama of it. Mary was a tough little girl, tougher than little girls should ever have to be, and she was mean. But I don't begrudge her her meanness...she had to watch out for her own self because everyone else was working in the oil refinery or drunk, or maybe sometimes both.

One of the parts that made me smile in appreciation, in a yeah-you-go-little-girl-you-get-them-sumbitches-back kind of a way was when she said she got use to fighting. She wouldn't back down no matter what, even when she knew she was going to get her butt whupped. She said the one satisfaction she had was that, even if she got a bad beating, she was meaner and remembered longer. She'd come back with punishment when the odds were in her favor, even if it was weeks later, and people would pay.

One particular instance was when this neighbor boy was really mean to her--and like a true living-in-the-wilds-of-the-poor-oil-refinery-town-feral-Texan-child that she was, she climbed up in a tree in the middle of the field and pot-shotted the kid and his family with a bb gun when they went out for a picnic.

I laughed out loud and not because I think it's right to do that all of the time...but some of the time...maybe once in awhile when people are horrible and mean and low, even though they act like they are so much better than you are just because they believe in Jesus, maybe they earn a little bb zing. The piece de resistance was when the dad of the boy told her to get on down out of the tree. She retorted with an adult language type of a reply and refused to comply and I thought "Good for you girl...don't let those bastards get you down."

One of the realizations I had while reading this book was that people are just living their lives, mostly the best they can--even when their best is not the best. We're all just trying to make it through, and sometimes when we are young, and even when we are old, we make less than stellar choices, sometimes choices that border on criminality, but hey, sometimes it's all just too much.

It's not a cheerful read, but despite the abuse, the alcohol, the poverty and the pain, it felt like there was a little bit of hope...mind you not a lot...but little kids are resilient and somehow they mostly cope the best they can, even if they become alcoholics at 13. Mostly the book is a story of survival and the inner workings of a family. I'm sure there are stories that mirror it across the world and through the ages, the names or circumstances may change, but the story is there, just like it has always been.

It seemed like a good portion of the book club didn't really care so much for the book, which made for an interesting discussion just like always when we have some divergence. For me though--I am glad I read it. I can't say I "liked" it, because how do you "like" this kind of a personal tragedy and I don't recommend it, purely because it's depressing and graphic and loaded with adult language and that's the kind of thing you have to make a judgment call about on your own. I read what I read and sometimes I tell people about it, then they make their own choice as to whether to add it to what is in their own brains or not.

So be forewarned about it, but, if you like memoirs or tragedy or stories about families that don't necessarily have a happy ending but that kind of work out, because everyone keeps moving forward and makes their own life, then, maybe then, you might like to pick it up and give it a read.


Now for the part of book club that was not tragic or sad but rather absolutely delightful and delicious...We went to The Red Iguana in Salt Lake City for dinner. We had reservations and were seated fairly promptly in the midst of party central. The restaurant was buzzing with noise and teeming with people, which was perfect for the mood most of us were in.

Here is a run down of the epicurean delight we all enjoyed, by person (and with descriptions from their actual menu...just so you can see the deliciousness and just in case it's lunch time for you now and you're starving) ... ;)

Most everyone had the virgin Mango Margaritas which were spectacular, there were a couple of Sangrias (one white wine and one red) tossed in for good measure.

We also all had fresh chips and salsa that were brought to the table shortly after we were seated. I also ordered a cup of Chile con Queso to share and try out and it was most tasty (Chile Con Queso: Anaheim chile, fresh jalapenos, onions and tomato cooked with two types of cheese)

My food was as follows:

Enchiladas Verdes: Two sour cream chicken enchiladas topped with mole verde and melted jack cheese. Garnished with green onions, diced tomatoes and black olives.
Mole Verde: Fresh chile poblano, chile guero and jalapeno, blended with pepitas, sesame seeds, basil, onions, zucchini and avocados.

**Now, I liked my food, but it was different from what I expected. I have to say though, that as much as I enjoyed it the night of, it was even better for lunch a couple of days later when I took it in to work. The flavors had melded and really, it was superb.

Encurtidos: Four pickled jalapenos filled with shrimp and queso fresco, dipped in egg batter, fried and topped with salsa Espanola, served with guacamole

**Let me note now that the Encurtidos, which Anna shared all around, were in FABUlous. Hands down one of my favorites of the night.

Anna and Melissa both enjoyed the Cochinita Pibil: Pork loin rubbed with achiote, vinegar, lime juice, orange juice, paprika and salt, slow roasted, then shredded and simmered in the roasting juice. Served with black beans, rice of the day and tortillas.

**I tried a little bit of the Cochinita, and it was absolutely excellent. Next time I go, this may be what I order...either that or the Shrimp Sonora that Kristin had.

Tiffany and Michele both had the Enchiladas Amarillas: Two enchiladas stuffed with pork carnitas topped with mole Amarillo, melted jack cheese and drizzled with crema Mexicana. (Mole Amarillo: Golden raisins, yellow tomatoes, yellow zucchini, chile guajilo and dried seasonal yellow chiles, makes this mole a fiery favorite.)

**Michele indicated that it was a little too spicy for her pallette, and Tiffany indicated it was so much spice it burned her twice. ;)

Kelly had the Chicken Fajitas: Grilled chicken served sizzling on a platter with onions and peppers. Pico de gallo, guacamole and a jalapeño finish this popular dish. Topped with hot flour tortillas.

Carnitas: Tender pieces of succulent pork cooked in its own juices, with spice and orange pulp, then fried with beer and a hint of milk.

**Mary said that it was most excellent. I thought it sounded good too. She was at the direct opposite end of the table or I might have finagled a piece or two away from her to try it. But Mary has good taste in food, so I'm going with it that it was a great dish.

Shrimp Sonora: Seven large tiger prawns sautéed in garlic and butter with lemon and a hint of pepper. Served with Mexican white rice, black beans, & tortillas

I have to say most of us indulged, enjoyed and shared some delightful dessertery as follows:

Xango Cheese Cake: A fried cream cheese pastry (which is what I had and it was excellent the next morning for breakfast...oh yeah, I ate it for breakfast.)
Homemade Sopapillas: Golden fried fritters topped with cinnamon, sugar and honey (Anna ordered these and they were HUGE...could have fed the whole table. As far as I know she had hers for breakfast the next day too.)
Fried Ice Cream: A flour tortilla filled with vanilla ice cream, shredded coconut, cinnamon and sugar; fried to a golden brown. (Mary said it was most excellent.)

After this we repaired to Anna and Mary's apartment for more book chatter and visiting and a pleasant end to the evenings events. It was a great night. Thanks chickies--you rock! ;D

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Charcoal Gray and a Little Fire-Snorting Green Monster....

So, I've changed the look of my blog, which is no surprise, I do it periodically.

I decided to try out a new Blogger template and so I fussed around with it for a couple of hours last night. I went through 4 or 5 different designs, happy with each of them for one reason or another and very dissatisfied with them for a variety of reasons. One of the primary reasons was the color of the type. Most of them worked out o.k. but some of them were just too washed out and you had to manually change them, which I started doing, but then it was just a hassle and it was 2 a.m. by then and I thought I'd better get to bed or I'd really be paying for it today.

So, I left it with charcoal gray and white...with orange.

This is not a normal color spectrum for me, I'm not a big fan of drab...or orange...but I'm kind of digging it today...and instead of drab I'm choosing to call it "Cosmopolitan"--cuz it kinda is. Usually I really like a lot of color. I also like using some of the preset blog backgrounds from Shabby Blog and Cutest Little Blog on the Block, but I didn't see anything that I absolutely loved, so I went with this.

Maybe it's because it is January and January is gray in my mind for a lot of reasons. There's that post holiday let down, and usually the weather is craptacular and really cold, and that's just depressing and then you start thinking of all of the things you should have done but didn't, about the pants that are a little on the snug side, or the projects you've left unfinished, and how you really don't want to deal with any of it because you'd like to avoid reality and just read a book or watch a movie or something. Maybe it's just me--but I doubt it.

So here is my charcoal gray honesty of things that are bugging me today--


My Christmas Tree is still up.

Don't judge me.

I can't even hardly go in the living room because it's still there. It haunts me with it's tired voice "Tracy--Tracy--please--I need to sleep. Let me go back to my box. My branches are tired of holding these ridiculously sparkly ornaments up. Please...I'm begging you." To which I reply-- "I KNOW!! I KNOW!! I SUCK!...I promise...I will get to it tomorrow...I just cannot possibly deal with you tonight after the day I had today. I just need to kick off these shoes and relax for a minute." To which the tree sighs because it knows that I'm really waiting until the weekend.


I did an exercise, regarding jealousy, for a project I'm working on.

I don't like talking about my jealousy and I don't like addressing it. It has always been my thought that jealousy is a really ugly thing, and that it is a very negative attribute, that it is ungrateful and embarrassing. It's not something you want people to know about you. So, with the exercise, I almost skipped over it because apparently I didn't want to evaluate my psyche to that degree. But, I made a commitment to a friend, with whom I am doing this project, and so I held to it and did it.

This is what I found: when being constructive and looking for solutions, evaluating the things you are jealous of can be very motivating. The exercise required that you list who/what you were jealous of, why you were jealous and what you were going to do to change it. I'm still working on the "change it" portion.

Now, don't go thinking I'm going to tell you all about who and what I'm jealous of. I'm not giving you the list--that would be too much--besides, I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings or have them know how small I am inside sometimes, because sometimes I am jealous of stupid, tiny things--to my own dismay and chagrin. I'd like to keep up the relatively pleasant fiction that I'm just kind of, mostly a nice person. ;)

I will tell you this though--if you've ever seen the magazine Where Women Create, I will give you this, I'm a little jealous of everything about that magazine and the people in it. I wish I had a beautiful artist space, and that all I had to do with my time is what I want in decorating and making and creating.

Sometimes when I read about their lives I feel my little green monster begin to stir. Sometimes my monster snorts a little fire as it starts to wake up when I read how they are 28 years old and have everything artistically that you could imagine, all because when they were 15 their mom let them do whatever they wanted creatively. Yeah, I get a little twitchy, and I really wish that I had been more over the top. And then I feel embarrassed about it, because how stupid is that to feel that way? I had a good childhood, it had it's flaws but it was good. No one abused me or molested me or neglected me. I was very well loved and cared for, so how could I be jealous of something like paint and fabric and art?? You get the rest of where I go with this inner conversation. It can turn in to a vicious little self-berating diatribe of how-ungrateful-are-you?? So I'm working on how to turn it around and in to action. I'm an adult, I can do what I want so, ... what do I really want?

I would also love to work for that kind of a magazine, with the exposure to the ideas and the people and the places. So on my list--this one also has no solution yet and I'm still pondering on it.

I will give you one more thing on my list--I am jealous of women with babies and children sometimes. I know, I'm kind of a bad person...I told you already.

I've had lots of practice reigning in my primal feelings and I'm not usually jealous in a terrible way, in fact a lot of times I push it so far back I don't really think about it...but sometimes...sometimes yes I very definitely am...enough to cry sad, hot, hard tears about it...but that's usually when I'm sequestered away in a corner of a closet somewhere in the dark where no one can see me or hear me...and then when I come out my eyes are bright green instead of hazel, and I have a headache and I need a cold compress for my eyes to get the swelling to go down.

But enough of that, what really sends me into a Hulk-like green monster rage is when they whine about, sin of all sins, how they have X number of kids and are struggling with getting pregnant. Really?! Shut Your Pie Hole already--be glad you have tiny fingers and toes that you were blessed to have come into your life. You have no idea what it's like even if you're struggling with it a little now--because YOU ALREADY HAVE IT. If it never happens again for you, while it may not be what you wanted, you've already been is not the same as having empty arms with nothing at all.

It's like this---you, with your child(ren) and your already successful pregnancy/ies, are merely standing in the shadow of the granite cliffside of failure, regret and frustration that women suffering from infertility and childlessness often feel. 

You can have regrets and be sad, I do get that, I don't begrudge you your sadness and frustration and I'm sorry that you are going through that because it royally sucks, but be grateful and of all things, please don't whine to the woman who remains infertile and childless about how they don't really understand how hard it is and how you can't believe that this is happening to you and that you had plans to keep and that you can't have your umpteenth kid...I mean, really?  We all had plans.  Sometimes shit happens--shit you don't expect and it royally screws up all of the proverbial "plans."  And what you're saying now--it's rude, insensitive, selfish and it's thoughtless...all on your side of the table. Open your heart and your mind a little, think outside of yourself and show a little compassion by being aware of your words.

Then, on an uber personal basis and since I'm on a roll and just to send it all the way home--do not even start with me about how I'm not really a woman, and won't ever really know what it's like to be a **real woman** because I haven't given birth and am not a mother and how you pity me that I will never accomplish the ideal pinnacle of womanhood.

Oh yeah...are you shocked by this? So was I. Imagine those words being said to you when you are a few years into the misery of infertility...they are real and are floating around in my past from a relatively close family member. My eyebrows met my hairline and my mouth was a perfect little "O"...and yes...even though I try not to...I still hold it against her, though mostly I try to forget about it.

Like I said...jealousy can be an angry, ugly and embarrassing thing...but there... you have two of my worst. I share them because if there is anyone else out there that has felt the sting and tasted the bitterness, in whatever way, I want you to know I understand...and've just got to work through it to become who you really want to be, without being encumbered by things that are out of your control. Judge me on it as you may.


My house is a little bit of a wreck since the holidays.

Now, perhaps some of you are perfect and are already agog with the fact that my Christmas tree is still up and that I have some minor jealousy issues, which I chose mostly not to divulge. If that's the case, you should not read on. Don't do it. You might be just a little horrified at the humanity of it all.

Sunday it was like all of the sudden the blinders were off and the sun was shining too brightly on the inside of my house. I thought "What in the hell happened here???" It's almost like a pile-bomb went off. Perhaps you've heard of a pile-bomb, or at least seen one and maybe didn't know that it had a name.

There are little piles of things all over the place. These piles vary a little in size...some of them are little, and some of them not so much. There are piles of coats and scarves, piles of books, piles of bills and papers, piles of laundry, piles of CDs, piles of DVDs, piles of linens folded and waiting to be put away, piles of clean dishes, piles of boxes waiting to be filled back up with Christmas ornaments (see item #1 on this list) and piles of piles of piles of crap everywhere.

So this week I am kicking off the 30 minute-a-day boogie. What is this you may ask...I will tell you.

You can do ANYTHING for 30 minutes. So everyday after work, Beloved and I will work collaboratively for an end to the pile-age and to getting everything spic and span and cleaned up and back the way we like it. For 30 minutes a day we will pick a chore or a task, and do it first, before we relax, before we sit down to read, or do whatever it is we want to do more than we want to do chores. Everybody can help, and everybody gets to choose whatever they want, because per my previous paragraph you can see that there are several things that are out of order and require attention.

I'm pretty excited about it and am looking forward to this evening. I think it will work really well, and we will realize that 30 minutes gets a lot more done than we thought. And then when it's all done, I guarantee you we will feel sheepish about having put it off these past few days and weeks.

So, that said--here's the gray blog that I'm really the really awesome photo from the Against Me! show I went to this summer with my two youngest brothers, which is just a really fantastic memory and makes me happy every time I see it. And no, I'm not depressed, but apparently I'm a little Cosmopolitan. ;)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Zombies, Jesus & Jane Eyre

This is some of my miscellaneous living from this past week. Just little moments. They either made me laugh or sent my eyebrows scooching straight up into my hairline.


I was telling a co-worker about this show I picked up called The Walking Dead. You may have heard about it, maybe not. Anyway, I get creeped out by zombies way bad, but still they are a fascinating concept and for some reason the thought of the violent undead rising to try to gnaw on me just seems almost a little bit possible, and maybe that's why it is so unnerving...anyway...enough about my psyche.

I was telling her about the show, and how I thought I would grab my dinner and go get caught up on the episode I had missed. Well, that didn't work out. I had to put my dinner down or pause the show and watch something else until I was done eating. I put my dinner down because the show is completely absorbing and I MUST watch more.

So then she says to me, and I quote: “ Yeah, was it you that said that Christ was the first zombie?”

WHAT??? in WTF??? REALLY???--my brain shrieked and recoiled from the sentence that my ears delivered to it.

Now, I'm not a perfect person. I laugh at dirty jokes and I use adult words, sometimes I dance the line with my laughter, my words and my thoughts, and sometimes the things I think aren't always full of flowers and kindness, I can be dark and ornery in my thoughts just like anyone, but I do draw my own set of lines around what is o.k. and what isn't. Jesus is off limits for off-color jokes or for certain imaginings. It makes me uncomfortable because I believe what I believe strongly with no question. I don't require others to believe the same or to even understand it or agree with it, but I maintain my own standards around it for myself, so certain ideas or thoughts smack of blasphemy or sacrilege to me.

(Blasphemy: irreverence toward something considered sacred or inviolable & Sacrilege: gross irreverence toward a hallowed person, place, or thing)

Now, if you know me and Jesus, you know that's just something that, not only would I not say it, it would never cross my mind as a thought. Like I said...I may say adult words, but I don't think of God in terms of Zombiehood.

My immediate reply...

T: “Absolutely not. Who even comes up with that sentence??? Seriously?? AND He was not a zombie. He was not the reanimated dead.”

Now, I'm not saying there isn't dark humor or derangement in the sentence and that I didn't laugh at the ridiculousness of the thought that it was *me* that said it, because it caught me off guard to the extreme and elicited a "Hah!" out of me.

My friend, laughed and said "Yeah, I didn't think it was you. I think it was this other girl I know. She's really weird."

O.k....and I thank you that the first weirdo girl you thought of who might have compared Jesus to zombies was me...


During the course of this same conversation...only a few moments later...

I was also talking to this same friend about excellent movies. She was telling me she liked Chick Flicks, and our conversation meandered onto other excellent movies and I told her about Jane Eyre, the one with Orson Welles and Olivia de Havilland, and also that I saw previews for a new release sometime this Spring that looked spooktacular, dark and delicious. She said she thought Jane Eyre sounded interesting but that...

My Friend: “My husband told me Jane Eyre was too girly.”

T: Sputtering…“Jane Eyre is not too girly. It’s a Gothic novel that is well reflected in flavor in the movie. It’s all death and madness. Too girly…what are you kidding me??”

The story of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is definitely not a girly-girl kind of tale, and though the movie skims the surface of the story, occasionally delving deeper as possible, as most movies do, the book is stellar. In fact, in remembering and researching, my interest is renewed and I'm going to read it again.

Jane Eyre is orphaned as a baby and suffered some pretty heinous experiences at the hands of those who should have loved her the most and taken care of her. One of the very few who befriended and loved her dies from a Typhus epidemic in Jane's arms, and this is as a little girl.

Through the course of her childhood she is abused by relatives and other members of society she comes into contact with, with the occasional kindness exhibited towards her by a stalwart few.

There is a lot more of that before things start looking up, but by then she's in a house with a crazy woman wandering the halls at night--but I'll say no more. It is an intricate social study, combined with Gothic imagery and a tale of humanity that continues today in similar forms, just like it always has through the ages. Kindness, meanness, love, hate, spirituality, self-righteousness, insanity, deceit, forgiveness, rage and joy can all be found within the pages of this tale.

Jane Eyre is not for the faint of heart or the light of mind. It is an outstanding, human and haunted work. Whether you decide to watch the movie or enjoy all of the Bronte-ness of the book, it is well worth the effort and I highly recommend it.

Here is the trailer for the version coming out this year, which is at the top of my list of movies to see.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Thought is the tool by which one makes a choice...

“Thought—he told himself quietly—is a weapon one uses in order to act... Thought is the tool by which one makes a choice... Thought sets one's purpose and the way to reach it.”
— Narrator (referring to Hank Rearden)
Atlas Shrugged (Part 1, Chapter 7, Page 214)

In our book club, some time back, we read Atlas Shrugged. Atlas Shrugged is one of my favorite books of all time. It came to me at the perfect point in my life. I was in my mid-30's, politics were ripe with corruption and dissention, I was bored, disgusted and disillusioned with most authority figures, and I was ready to sink my teeth into some nice free-the-world-get-off-my-back-and-out-of-my-pockets rebellion. It gave me everything I wanted and more.

“The only proper purpose of a government is to protect man's rights, which means: to protect him from physical violence... The only proper functions of a government are: the police, to protect you from criminals; the army, to protect you from foreign invaders; and the courts, to protect your property and contracts from breach or fraud by others, to settle disputes by rational rules, according to objective law.”
— John Galt
Atlas Shrugged (Part 3, Chapter 7, Page 1,062)

I was involved in a long commute at the time, and so I bought the book on CD. It was something like 45 discs, or maybe 52, anyway, it was a lot. But, I had a lot of driving to do and so it worked out for me. There were several points during the course of the listening that I would get to where I was going and ended up either a: driving around a little longer or b: pulling into a parking spot and hanging out in the car for another 10 minutes to finish the disc or the chapter.

“...through all the generations of political extortion, it was not the looting bureaucrats who had taken the blame, but the chained industrialists, not the men who peddled legal flavors, but the men who were forced to buy them; and through all those generations of crusades against corruption, the remedy had always been, not the liberating of the victims, but the granting of wider powers for extortion to the extortionists. The only guilt of the victims, he thought, had been that they accepted it as guilt.”
— Hank Rearden
Atlas Shrugged (Part 3, Chapter 5, Page 933)

I became completely embroiled in the life of Dagny Taggert. Everywhere I looked I saw evidence that I was living in an Atlas Shrugged society. I made comparisons continually. Always looking for the true motivation and meaning behind things. While I did not ascend to the level of conspiracy theorist, I did become suspicious of anyone selling me a line, whether it was with sales people or politicians...or anyone else for that matter.

“The symbol of all relationships among such men, the moral symbol of respect for human beings, is the trader. We, who live by values, not by loot, are traders, both in matter and in spirit. A trader is a man who earns what he gets and does not give or take the undeserved.”
— John Galt
Atlas Shrugged (Part 3, Chapter 7, Page 1,022)

I wanted to be Dagny Taggerts friend. I wanted to scoff and berate her brother for being such a sleezeball. I wanted to live fresh and free running through the world making discoveries and creating inventions and contributing things that mattered. I was ready to buy stock in Rearden Metal and kick his wife Lillian to the curb. These were my kind of people, my kind of take-charge-quit-your-whining characters. They worked hard, and they earned their keep...and they were betrayed...and often, and so everytime there was an upturn I cheered, and everytime a lowturn I booed.

“ is the core of existence, the motive power of every living being... it is the need of one's body as it is the goal of one's spirit...”
— Hank Rearden
Atlas Shrugged (Part 2, Chapter 6, Page 564)

That's all I'm going to say about the story. You'll have to read it, or listen to it, yourself for the rest.

“The man who refuses to judge, who neither agrees nor disagrees, who declares that there are no absolutes and believes that he escapes responsibility, is the man responsible for all the blood that is now spilled in the world.”
— John Galt
Atlas Shrugged (Part 3, Chapter 7, Page 1,054)

If you don't have time to read it I highly advise getting it on audio and enjoying it. Great story for a variety of reasons. Be prepared though because there are a lot of very vehement Atlas Shrugged and Ayn Rand haters in the world.

It's the kind of book that, generally, people either love or hate, usually with equal passion. People who hate it though, tend to become unreasonable when you try to discuss the theories and ideas. They tend to accuse you of insensitivity, selfishness and lack of social awareness. They throw around the idea that if you like the book you have bought into its philosophies and practices hook line and sinker and then, in turn, if you don't live the philosophies of the book, that you are a hypocrite. Really, it's more productive to have a hearty and animated discussion over the things that were read and how you could see them right or how you could see them wrong. Unfortunately it often becomes a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

To like the book, even to love the book, does not mean that you are an Ayn Rand Kool-Aid drinking son of a gun, it just means that perhaps you get it. You get a different vision, and maybe--just maybe--you think that people should work more and bitch less.

So--that said--be aware.

“He was a man who had never accepted the creed that others had the right to stop him.”
— Narrator (referring to Nathaniel Taggart)
Atlas Shrugged (Part 1, Chapter 3, Page 59)

Most of the women in my book club group really enjoyed it, though there were a few dissenters, which is good because it makes for a lively discussion. During the course of our discussion, we talked about how great it would be if it were made into a movie. We talked about who should play what character, and who shouldn't, and 3 years or so we are.

The new Atlas Shrugged movie will be released as a trilogy, with the first movie being released on April 15th, 2011...Tax Day...couldn't be a better choice.
I am so excited for this to come out I can hardly stand it. Bring on Dagny and Hank, and James and Francisco, and of course John doubt we will still always ask "Who is John Galt?"...but now their will be a face to go with the name. ;)

“Fight for the value of your person. Fight for the virtue of your pride. Fight for the essence of that which is man: for his sovereign rational mind. Fight with the radiant certainty and the absolute rectitude of knowing that yours is the Morality of Life and that yours is the battle for any achievement, any value, any grandeur, any goodness, any joy that has ever existed on this earth.”
— John Galt
Atlas Shrugged (Part 3, Chapter 7, Page 1,069)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

10 Things I Don't Hate About Winter

So my friend Jacelle posted 10 things she doesn't hate about winter. I thought it was a good proactive approach to looking towards the positive. As a side note, per her own declaration, apparently she's a Capricorn and a realist. I'm an Aquarius and a forward thinking artisan...yeah, whatever, right? ;)

Anyway--here is my list:

10 Things I Don't Hate About Winter
  1. Crystal blue skies with huge granite mountains covered in pristine snow.
  2. Nightime skylines. There is nothing like a pure, cold, winter night with a sky full of stars.
  3. Studded snow tires. I have them. I highly recommend them. I love them. It's like my baby car is a little snowcat and just hauls it through the snow.
  4. Crackling fireplaces. I don't have one, but I visit any that I know of as often as possible.
  5. Lots of evening time for reading, with zero guilt about not being out working in the yard.
  6. Chicken & Waffles party. Our family once lived in Los Angeles and had the delicious opportunity to visit Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles. Since we have no Roscoe's here, we have our own Chicken & Waffles party. We've done this twice now and it was delicious.
  7. Snowshoeing. I got new snowshoes this Fall and I'm excited to bust those bad boys out and get going on one of those pristine snow covered mountainsides...on a crystal blue day.
  8. Scarves, sweaters and hats. Three of my favorite clothing items.
  9. Holiday parties. I love dressing up. I love the glitter and the sparkle. I love laughing and talking. I love getting together with friends and family. I love all of the awesome food.
  10. February. Valentine's Day and my birthday, and usually a warm snap to give us a break from the cold. What's not to love?

So there you have current Top 10. If you asked me about it on another day, no doubt I would also come up with I love soup and Christmas...but that's not today. Today I want a sink-your-teeth-into-it hot Philly Cheesesteak sandwich and I've got to get that tree down before it turns into the Valentine's Day tree.

Peace out, kids. :D

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year! 2011 is Here!

Welcome 2011!

Despite the 10 degree-midnight-snow-is-falling-roads-are-frozen weather, we welcome you...or at least the neighbors on the street behind us welcome you...they have braved the cold and are setting off fireworks in homage of the passing of one year into another.

I welcome you from my family room, where I sit in an overstuffed chair with my phone, drinking a Sprite and thumbing this entry.

This last year was an interesting one and if I may indulge, here are some of the highlights...and a few low-lights that seemed to work out just the same.

Not to start off morbidly...but I was contemplating life, the universe and I have always found sarcophagi and their ilk fascinating. At the risk of sounding egocentric, I wouldn't mind being well memorialized by some beautiful piece of standing stone.

1: I turned 40. I was depressed about it and struggled with disappointment in the things I hadn't accomplished, but managed to pull myself up by my own bootstraps and some how march on. I haven't fully embraced it, but I'm closing in on satisfaction even if I'm not quite there.

2: I continued a contract stint as a Technical Writer. I learned that a) I am good at it but b) no matter how good, when people don't know what they really want, you can't magically deliver it to them...because...they don't know what they really want. I did my best and ended the contract well and was happy to move on.

3: I began working for a non-profit. Working for a non-profit has been an interesting experience. The money is absolute crap but the people have been great...well mostly. Social workers and teachers...God bless you...most of you work so hard but to be honest...sometimes your brains are cracked. Wow--you see the world in a different way.

4: I have had a chance to observe politics on a city level and a school district level and I stand by my opinion that politicians no matter who they are or what organization they are with are always politicians first and always have their own agenda. No one does anything for free.

5: I've learned a lot about poverty, welfare, health care, education, gangs and crime. I have seen children thrive despite the best efforts of the adults around them. I have also seen children who are zombies lost in a land of confusion and conflicting social messages who have no desire, no hope and who are not the future I would like to be a part of.

"Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing."
~ Mother Teresa

The Mural

6: I was part of a public art project and, from beginning inception to finale conclusion, enjoyed and participated in the entire process. It was one, of several, river walk murals.

7: I received a promotion at work into a director's position. I have my own office with a huge window and it absolutely delights me. Ridiculous or not, I love not being in a cubicle and I really enjoy the work I do. I have had some excellent women mentors this year and it has greatly satiated my desire to learn and grow.

8: I have reconnected with a number of old friends, people that I was sorry to have lost touch with in the first place. Facebook is mostly fantastic. :)

Carrie & Pete

9: I saw my youngest brother marry a delightful young woman and I've never seen him so happy and content. Seeing peace and contentment come to his life brings me overwhelming satisfaction and joy. He deserves every drop of it.

"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles."
— Audrey Hepburn.... I am in perfect agreement with her.

My amazing girls

10: I concluded Year 6 of my amazingly, fabulous book club. We number 8 right now and it really is a dream team. I expect changes in the future just like with everything else, but right now it is working really well. We've read some great books through the years, some mediocre volumes and a minimal number of duds. These women have been the dearest and sincerest of friends and we have stood by each other through death, divorce and taxes plus all the other usual stuff.

Me & the Baby Brothers
Dave, Me & Pete

11: I tanned this summer. I worked part time and spent a lot of time communing with the water and the sun and it was divine. I haven't had a summer like this in years and it was wonderful. I haven't had brown sun-kissed skin in ages and it felt fantastic. I swam and gloried in it. I don't regret one moment of my radiation treatment, it was what I needed.

"A girl should be two things ~ classy and fabulous."
Coco Chanel

12: I started teaching myself how to take covert photos with my phone. I was in a mind-numbingly boring meeting with an egocentric and infuriating individual who steps all over people's boundaries. I wanted my husband to know what they looked like--so I thought, "How would a Black Ops guy reconnoiter?" Well, a Black Ops guy would probably be more sophisticated than an iPhone but if that's all he had that's what he would use. So I got my photo of the clown and several more. I'm still working on my skills though...

13: Towards the end of the year I realized the power in my age. It's true. I listen to people's opinions and consider them because I deign to do it. I have no desire to do it to please them, but because it pleases me to do so. That sounds ruder than it is. What it really comes down to is I'm not 20 and pinging my thoughts and opinions around at everyone around me. I'm not looking for a lot of approval anymore and have truly become a matured adult. I've been there, I've gathered my data and analyzed it and am acting on all of those things I gathered and investigated these 20 years. I'm sure to a 60 year old I'm still a youngster who is working it out, but I'm not low man on the totem pole anymore...I'm not the Freshman...and I really, really like that.

Men I love and would be devastated to lose.
In fact, if I ever need a good cry, morbid as it may be, if I think of any of their deaths, it's an immediate tear fest.

14: I can say "No." to anyone I want. There is great control and power in your life and over your time and resources when you learn how to properly administrate the word "No." This is something I learned a couple of years back but it takes a little while to get a good balance. I'm pretty much there. **Of course you have to combine it with responsible choices and decision-making, and you still have to make sacrifices on occasion...but if you really want to-- "No" is now always an option.

15: I have uncovered a new font of creativity. I really started focusing on my writing this year and have been having a lot of fun with it. This has been greatly therapeutic and expanding. Practicing creativity limbers up the brain and more than you thought starts pouring out. It is because you are exercising the abilities and it is an amazing sensation to feel that part getting fit again.

One of the delightful Utah views from this past summer on an afternoon ride into the mountains with Pete.

16: This past year I met up with an old high school friend via Facebook (see #8). Over the course of time and conversation we decided to start a long-distance project together. We had both had an interest in a book called The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron and decided to read and implement it together. What a phenomenal experience this has been thus far! The book is based on a series of week-by-week chapters with their accompanying exercises and activities. Due to our lives and because we started this up around Halloween and the barrage of holidays that follow, we have taken a few weeks longer here and there to get the chapters done, but it has worked well for us. We have reestablished and begun to build a new friendship on the foundation of the old, and along with the creative and introspective process, I have made and found a new sparkling friendship in the old.

My Mom

17: I have a fantastic mother. What a great woman she is. She has emerged like a Phoenix from the flame these last ten years. I have always loved my mom and wanted to be like her, barring the times I was mad at her of course ;) But since my dad died, through all of her grief, her pain and her despair, she grew, she rose and she fashioned her life, a new life, out of the living rock around her and has become her own woman. She still suffers, this I know, but she has found a new strength within herself and keeps walking her path. She did not lie down on the trail for wolves and carrion to drag her away. Her force for life and living is an inspiration to me and any insult or injury to her has become a personal affront to me. She is Mother.

18: No matter what you do, there are going to be people in your life, friends and family, that you love dearly whose spouse (or parents or kids or siblings,) you can barely tolerate, and because of the relationship, sometimes you're going to tolerate a lot. Sometimes so much that you should receive some kind of a medal for your valiant efforts...but you're never going to get here's a pat on the back and a thumbs up from me...I understand where you are at...because sometimes we are paddling in the same boat.

"I must dance barefoot on her wedding-day,
And for your love to her lead apes into hell."
Taming of the Shrew 2.1.33-4, Katherina to Baptista

19: When I was younger I wanted a kitty (orange) and a puppy (Golden Retriever) and a baby (human). I have recently found that all of these desires have significantly dwindled. I enjoy the quiet, the freedom and the cleanliness. I don't really understand how or why these dreams have faded away and it is a little confusing. Not having these things that I wanted so strongly for so many years leaves me with a little sadness, with some melancholy...I miss my little dreams...but not enough to chase them down and bring them least not right now...not today or this last year. It's possible that my strong desire for these things could come back and that I may pursue them again, but I'm just not feeling it right now and I'm kind of ok with it. Maybe they dwindled because it's time for some new dreams...dreams that I can actually reach and accomplish. It's just a thought.

20: I found, and am working on making peace with, the grand life-fact that there is no point to clinging to the future dreams of a permanently changed past. You have to move forward with new dreams for your current present. Sometimes things you planned just don't work out--sometimes too much time lapses and windows or doors of opportunity close. Often we change over the years and adjustments need to be made to some of our goals and desires. This is ok and normal. Love the life you have had so far and pause and ponder where you really want to go next---then---walk that way.

21: When everyone does their best, when they work hard and smart, when they pull their weight, everything is better. Projects are more successful, people are happier, more individuals benefit from the efforts of many than just the efforts of one. Selfishness and laziness are not winning behaviors.

22: Ignoring the above…sometimes I break the rules…because I almost never do, and because I can. It is extremely liberating. I ran in the sand, scrambled over the rocks and I crossed on the tracks and it was not at a designated crossing point. I survived.

23: This summer I took an absolutely amazing trip with my best friend Kristin. We both turned 40 this year (see #1) and were feeling in a funk about it. I think we both had things we thought we'd be or places we thought we would have arrived to by now, and it was hard to confront it, and step into this next new place. We decided that we needed the sand, the ocean, the sun. We need the liberation that looking into an endless horizon brings. I know that's what I needed. I have been landlocked, and that has been o.k., mostly. I needed to reground, I needed it badly. We took a little road trip out to Dana Point, California and thereabouts. It was a long weekend, and it was everything I needed. We talked the entire trip. After being on the road for several hours I realized we hadn't stopped talking. We talked about everything. We had a lot to say. It was free therapy in the heart of the tree of trust. We had a beachfront hotel. As soon as we arrived we immediately changed into swimsuits and straight to the beach we went. Bare toes in sand, wiggling, giddy, silly, unbelieving that we were there...and then came the dolphins...and later on in the weekend the whale. We talked, we ate, we shopped, chocolate, strawberries, seafood, Mexican food, balmy weather, rainy weather, beautiful California weather. It was a reboot to the soul, and it was exactly what I needed.

We both stood and did this.

24: We had many opportunities to get together as friends and as family. Weddings, birthdays, holidays, parties, and Sunday dinners. As a family we really do spend a lot of time together, we enjoy each others company and we miss each other when we are not least that is how I feel for my part.

25: I had my 18 year wedding anniversary this year. All told, every bit of it, good and bad, and I would do it all over again. When we were dating and then newlyweds, I didn't know love could grow and expand the way that it did and does. I love my Beloved more now than I ever have. We have built quite the life together. We have loved each other, been each others friend and confidant. We have had unexpected gifts and blessings and highly trying obstacles. We've barreled forward against the hard times and railed in rage against the storms, but through it all we miraculously never turned against each other, but instead always towards each other as the one refuge from any given storm. He has ever been the only one, sure thing. I would do it all again...but I am happy to move forward from where we are at. No need to rail and rage against what has already been--and baby--that's all water under the bridge and I see blue skies least for now. ;)

Rise up this mornin',
Smiled with the risin' sun,
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin' sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true,
Sayin', ("This is my message to you-ou-ou:")

Singin': "Don't worry 'bout a thing,
'Cause every little thing gonna be all right."
Singin': "Don't worry (don't worry) 'bout a thing,
'Cause every little thing gonna be all right!"
~~Bob Marley~~

26: As 2010 comes to an end, and 2011 is but a newborn babe, I am content with how it all has turned out so far. Last year started out a little rough...for a myriad of reasons, some which I have shared and some which I have not. In the beginning of last year I decided to just "Be." There were a few responsibilities I needed to address and take care of, but aside from that, I was just going to be, just explore where I was and where I wanted to go. I'm still working on a lot of things, but my plans are coming along, and I think my feet are on the right path and I've got a good satchel full of tools I've collected along this journey of mine and I think it's gonna be alright.

"I know this now. Every man gives his life for what he believes. Every woman gives her life for what she believes. Sometimes people believe in little or nothing yet they give their lives to that little or nothing. One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. And then it is gone. But to sacrifice what you are and live without belief, that's more terrible than dying."
Joan of Arc

Me as I always want to be.
Smiling, pink-cheeked with hair blowing in a breeze...and simply...happy.