Sunday, February 28, 2010

Everything at Once.

When the satirical paper "The Onion" hits a headline perfectly right, they manage to be laugh-out-loud-funny, depressingly dead-on, topical/current and yet broad/commenting on a larger point.

Happy Sunday, and click here for Onion headline greatness if you need some, and enjoy a shudder-sigh-laugh-blush. A shighlalush.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Pause in Judgement.

My judgmental attitude is no secret. I've crafted and honed it; I can form an opinion in Olympic medal-winning time. When Michael Jackson died last year, I didn't have any pity or sadness. I was only fascinated to watch it tsunami over Twitter and Facebook, as I was on those sites for work all day and saw the bandwidth shudder under the "news".

I confidently came down on the side of those who were shocked by the outpouring of support for Jackson. I thought, what happened to the man who settled out of court on child molestation charges? Pop culture has a short memory - but this short?

However, an article introducing a new insomnia blog page at was printed yesterday. It talked about Americans spending thousands of dollars on fancy sheets, perfect mattresses, aromatherapy and nighttime music.... all the while still drinking too much alcohol and caffeine, staying up watching TV, pushing ourselves with few hours of rest. And author Patricia Morrisroe wrote:
I can’t think of anyone more dissimilar to the hard-boiled Hemingway than Michael Jackson, yet he too suffered from chronic insomnia. One can only imagine the pressure Jackson was under rehearsing for a grueling world tour with the sadly prophetic title, “This Is It.” Over the years sleeping pills and other tranquilizers had lost their effectiveness to the point that he demanded that his doctor administer the powerful anesthetic propofol, which was later ruled a major factor in his death. Jackson referred to it as his “milk.” There’s something terribly sad about someone wanting to sleep so badly that he’d opt for a hospital anesthetic, rather than the old-fashioned sedative: a cup of warm milk.
And so even my epic heights of judgment stop and pause. I take a breath, and I remember the Buddhist advice to treat every living being as if he or she is (or has been) your own loving mother. How much compassion can you muster for your mother when she is pain? Imagine mustering that compassion for every rude driver, every unhelpful customer service rep, every sad celebrity. And I let my weekend be time for more practice in this compassion.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Your first time?

I read an article once (this is how I start 93% of all my conversations; the other 7% start with "did you hear about...") about how our self-perception is almost fully fixed by age 14. If you were a pretty girl then, you think of yourself as a pretty girl now. If you were a gawky boy then, no matter how handsome you are now, you probably think of yourself as gawky, awkward, shy, goofy. I'm sure there's an article that contradicts this one, but in my own experience with self, family and friends, it rings deeply true.

There are a few standout compliments I remember as a child. As a general rule, I was laughed at when I said things I thought were perfectly serious - observations about the world, thoughts about my family - and it was deeply painful. One I remember well was saying to my parents that I couldn't fall asleep at night as a young girl, because "my mind keeps talking to me." The Dalai Lama would find this quite profound, right? I was laughed at. Perhaps because I was wise for my age. Perhaps because I was an indignant 6 year old with very large eyes, peering up at two loving adults.

But, back to the blog post title. I remember both my first intellectual compliment and first physical compliment, from people who were not my parents. In first grade, Mrs. Estes praised me, in front of the whole class, for being a very good speller, and I was excused from the test one week because I already knew all the words. It was a shock. Excused from the test? Unheard of, ladies and gentlemen! 22 years later, I am a fabulous speller, and it has often been praised, noted, even financially rewarded. Do I have a natural affinity for spelling? Or did that simple compliment turn me into someone who began to enjoy learning to spell correctly, ever after? Will we ever know?

Around the same age - 6 or 7 - my Aunt Joan praised my long, thick eyelashes. I was a bit puzzled, so she explained mascara. How grown-up ladies like pretty eyelashes to help make their eyes bright and beautiful. And that I was lucky enough to have naturally nice lashes. In the 21 years since this event, I have rarely believed any compliments about my physical attributes - about my hair, or my figure, or anything at all. But when someone compliments my eyelashes? I am as warm-hearted as that 7 year old girl, as filled with genuine appreciation as only a child can be. This compliment came my way recently from a very gentle and authentic woman. She is a person who exudes honesty, and while anyone would believe kind words from her, being that she repeated the first thing I believed about my body, I believed it so deeply again.

And you? Do you remember your first - compliment, or compliments? When they're said again now, do you believe them in a way you don't believe anything else?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Why ask why?

Occasionally, I get asked why a straitlaced white girl who grew up in Montana likes to sing, dance and listen to hip-hop. Why? The lyrics, my friends! Driving home Saturday night, I heard the following couplet (pardon any errors in exact quoting):

I'mma brother - but not a Lehman
I'll be a bank - givin' out semen

C'MON! This is genius! Don't tell me that doesn't crack you up! If music should bring us joy, I have no shame about chuckling at creative hip hop lyrics. Plus, later in the song, he said, "Put this on your blog 'cause singing like this is my job." Request granted.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Born for it.

My web pal Jen wrote about her nearly-4-year-old daughter proclaiming she was going to be a doctor when she grows up.... and then maybe a butterfly, or perhaps Santa. You can read it here and it got me thinking about what it is we're born to be.

When our mutual friend Meg headed off to vet school - which I remember reading once is harder than medical school since your patients can't TELL you what's wrong - everyone who knows her said, "Well, duh!!" She was born for it. Not just because of her love for animals. But because of her love of trivia and vocabulary and obscure facts, because of her ability to study and learn, and because of her incredible determination.

So let's take it down a notch. Down from veterinary medicine. What is it that makes me happy? What is it that everyone has always turned to me to ask for? What is it that I like the most? Geeky it may be, but it is organization. Planning. Predicting the timing of a thing (any thing). Confidently answering a question that starts with, "When am I..." or "Who will be at the..." or "How long does it take to..." or "What are the details again?" So it isn't surgery, but golly gee, when I pat my neat pile of folders and give them to my coworkers, complete with the staff, timing, drivers, directions, handoffs, timetables, dockets, guests, talking points and background info for a busy day ahead, I am about the happiest little soul in the world. It is a pure form of satisfaction, geekiness be damned.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Not Unless You Make Me.

There is a list that seems to grow all the time... the list of things that I hate to do, won't do 'em, and then when I am forced to do them?... I really like them.

Getting up early on the weekends tops this list. If I can get up and out of bed before 9 AM, I end up having loads of relaxation time, make it to church easily, and still carry a full social calendar. It also makes weekdays easier. But, oh, the warm, comfy, soft bed... and the cool, dark, quiet house... the battle continues.

So the new job has added another "not unless you make me" item to this list. The job is about 18 blocks away - or, an 18 minute walk. I have yet to tackle walking TO work, true. But I dread walking home as 5:00 creeps closer and I am flagging... but then I enjoy it fully every time. Crisp air, stretching my legs, marking yet another day I don't contribute additional carbon output (by getting to leave my car off).

I'll get back to you on finding the 18 minutes in the morning.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Frank and Ruby

As far as the down and dirty of office life goes, I have very nice digs. (The kitchen, the commute, the desk, the parking, those kind of down and dirty deets.) I share a roomy office with two other women, and all of us agree to only use overhead fluorescent lighting on the darkest of days (yay!), and I have a window in front of my computer to look out of. A little bench (albeit often filled with smokers), some greenery, a walking path instead of a road, and something that is flowering in early February that draws the attention and love of Frank and Ruby.

For Frank and Ruby are hummingbirds! And I see them off-and-on all day long, sipping from these tiny yellowish cone flowers, Ruby showing off her shimmery scarlet breast, and Frank with his dapper green vest. For all I know they are both male or both female and I assume they are ten to a million different birds… BUT… I like Frank and Ruby. They were named by the previous occupant of my desk, the absolutely great - and burnt out - person who trained me on the gig. It's like this good luck talisman from her when Frank and Ruby buzz by, and there's nothing like watching a hummingbird, is there? You just HAVE to stop and watch, and the mini-breaks are perfect pieces of rest throughout the day.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Good news for women? In the US Military? Come again?

From our pals at Jezebel... A new Department of Defense policy will require all military health facilities around the world to stock Plan B. The morning-after pill will now be considered one of the "core formularies" even in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan.

Wow! Musta been my complaints, right?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Delayed Gratification

Other than purchasing a wedding dress, I had a new experience this week... I bought clothes and did not get to go home with them!

A visit to the ol' Nordstrom Rack lightened my wallet by about $200, but friends! Romans! Countrymen! My idea of business clothes during two years of working from home sometimes consisted of clean sweat pants. For a meeting, at best I could swing a cardigan over my ultra soft (read: old; worn) tee shirt. So I was in desperate need of Congressional-worthy clothing, and that means that you don't go home with it!

But I did feel like a very fancy grown-up lady, standing on the platform, having my new pants measured and marked, choosing between cuffs or not. With a special ticket stub to pick up my pants when they are properly tailored, it is a tangible item that helps define this intangible, overwhelming feeling that my entire life has changed with the start of a new job.

Monday, February 1, 2010


I get a BlackBerry for work! How many days (or weekends) till I hate it? Well, for now, I like my shiny new 202 area code and it is surprisingly intuitive to set up and use.