Saturday, September 09, 2006


While reading Dana's post about the relief of not having to fit in in foreign cultures, and then her discussion of exaggerating one’s “nativeness,” I started thinking again about something that has been on my mind for a while now. My husband and I have been exploring places to live when he retires, and when we visited one of them last summer, I just panicked when we were about to put an offer on some property there…I mean, a sleepless night and sobbing, weeping. It was awful.

It turns out there were some serious things at home that needed attention, but since then, things have calmed down (knock on wood). I continued the search for places to live through magazines, the Internet, etc. and I have come to this conclusion: I have fallen for my state like someone who is in an arranged marriage might fall in love with their spouse. I didn’t choose this state; I was born here. It was not my mother’s native state, so it’s not like there are generations who have been here

One of my clues was this: I have recently been something of an iTunes addict, and they have lists of songs relating to various themes. One was for my state and the major city in it. I looked at the list, and I thought, “My God, I love all of these songs.” It’s not something I can define or describe, but these songs, which span generations, touch me. I have wondered why I have never made popular culture choices that are “appropriate” to my age, and this is what I learned: it’s not about time for me, but place.

Then something else happened. I was researching another town online that had been recommended in a magazine, and I was reading Chamber of Commerce stuff, I think. It said that union membership in that state was low, and they said it like it was a good thing! What? I now live in a management family (although I belong to a union, and I recognize there are problems) but I just felt like I had experienced an insensitive attack on my religion. Yeah, they sometimes make life inconvenient, but they make it a little more fair. Do people really want to go back to the way it was before unions?

My state is also gorgeous. A lot of people I run into don’t know that because I live in one of the most geographically uninteresting parts of it. Some of the really stunning parts don’t have a lot of people living there permanently because tourism is the primary industry, or because you are more likely to live there if you are very well off. Nevertheless, I like it here, because this part of the state is one of the more integrated ones I’ve ever seen. People cross ethnic and racial and socioeconomic lines more deeply than I have seen in other places. I’ve had the opportunity in my life to hang out with people from a broad array of backgounds, particularly when I moved to my current home. I don’t agree with everybody here about everything, but I never feel like I have to.

I feel like when I move to a new state, I will have to spend a lot of time justifying and defending myself and the things I believe and value. I will have an accent (and I never thought I really had the accent of my home state until I listened to a message I had left on our home answering machine.) People won’t say “pop” or play euchre. (I don’t play euchre, either, but I need to be able to refuse to play it at a social gathering.)

I like to travel when I have the opportunity and hope I can do more of it. I like meeting new people and seeing different ways of doing things. This, though, is my home, and even though I will probably leave it someday, it will be one of the more difficult moments in my lfe.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Did you find my balloon?

Click the comments section and let me know.

Monday, August 21, 2006

My Summer Vacation: Parties!

Most of my summers are pretty quiet, with a graduation open house or shower or wedding here or there, but this summer, I was involved in planning several celebrations. First, I planned a casual celebration (actually, two) the day my son graduated from his university. Then, along with my brother and sister and sister-in-law, I helped plan a surprise half-birthday party for my mom's 80.5 birthday. Her birthday is on Christmas Eve, and she has never had a proper party. A surefire way to surprise people is to have a party when it's not their actual birthday. A month or so later, a co-worker and I threw a baby shower at my house for our friend Sandra. We had a Princess theme. I borrowed a gold velvety tablecloth and lots of silver and silverplate from a friend, and we had little bouquets of flowers in tiny silvery vases, and tiny sandwiches and whatnot...and we all wore paper princess crowns, but Sandra's was a little fancier and foil/metal and multi-colored. Most recently, my husband and I threw ourselves a 25th Anniversary party (with lots of contributions of time and talent from various family members.) It was much fancier than our wedding; it was a luncheon for about 70 people at a country club (our wedding reception was a party in our backyard with a band, which was actually a lot of fun.)

One of the things I am happy about is that I sort of joined the 21st century in the planning of the anniversary party. I made mix CD's to give away (all legally and on the up-and-up) I had never even made a mix tape back in the old days, let alone burned a CD. We made labels for the tins and the CDs on the computer. I also am pretty much the last person on earth, according to my son, to have never made a PowerPoint slide show (until now.) Of course, my husband and stepson had to put the music I had chosen with the slides I had made and get it into a usable condition, and my granddaughter informed me, with the self-assurance that only a fourteen-year-old girl can muster, that I should have used Moviemaker. (I don't have Moviemaker!)

There is one more little surprise party to go (and I know that person won't be reading my blog) but my only job is to buy some balloons. Otherwise, I just need to get a gift and card and eat at Old Country Buffet (a secret, guilty pleasure that I only engage in when someone else has planned an event there.)

Although I have enjoyed every party, I'm ready to settle down and begin the real New Year...the beginning of the school year. (Even though I worked in the summer, I always consider the fall semester the beginning...and I will spend this week in the ritual cleaning of my sock drawer.) Good times!

Monday, May 22, 2006

There is a commercial for the local cable company featuring two turtles (tortoises?) called the Slowskys. They are apparently a married turtle couple, and they talk about how they prefer the slower cable company rather than the fast connection of the company being advertised. "Where's the fire?" Mrs. Slowsky asks.

Although I love a fast cable connection, her attitude sort of expresses my love/hate relationship with technology. I love the fact that a few years ago, friends/ old roommates I hadn't heard from in twenty years started to e-mail me, and I them. I enjoy having my blog, although I really don't know how to use it to its full potential. I like being able to keep in contact with my family, even if I'm a world away.

There are some things that have gotten lost, though. When I was a teenager and a college student, buying an album was kind of special. I would take it home for the first time, and when I had my own stereo system (my first major independent purchase), I would open up the record, carefully put it on the turntable, and clean it with the special wiper that came with it. I would sit down and study the cover art and liner art, and I would read the lyrics on the liner note and try to learn as many songs as I could. When I played the album subsequent times, I always enjoyed putting an album on the turntable and feeling anticipation as I heard that subtle "scritch."

I guess the thing that comes closest now is seeing what's new on iTunes every Tuesday, which is a little more satisfying than just loading up and starting a CD cartridge. It's fun to browse around and see people's various comments about the songs and albums, and see what kind of mixes people have made. Still, it would be fun to get a hold of a turntable and play my old albums someday.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Recent developments

I have not posted on my blog for a long time, primarily because my home computer is out of commission. It is being fixed (hopefully) by an acquaintance of my husband who is doing it in his spare time, which apparently has not been much lately. I'm posting this at my workplace, but I'm not really "at work" right now. The very best news of late is this: my son has graduated from college! Woo-hoo! I had a lot of fun on his graduation day; I hope he did too. The graduation speaker (Christiane Ahmanpour!!) was excellent. It was a beautiful and only slightly chilly morning, and warmed up nicely later. Of course, I was very proud. Eleven of us had a lovely brunch at the student union, then we visited the university's botanical gardens at his girlfriend's suggestion. I was pretty impressed with my son's knowledge of the place. He also pointed out an old growth forest on the way to the gardens. he explained that this forest is off limits to visitors, which one of his professoers felt was a mistake, because people are more inclined to protect what they are familiar with. Apparently my son had spent some time in these parts for a class, and later visited on his own. Later more family members joined us at a restaurant/saloon for food, beer, etc. It was a great day.

Monday, March 27, 2006

My Rider

I was reading about Dick Cheney's and John Kerrey's "riders" as published in
The Smoking Gun--the stuff people want waiting in their hotel rooms for them. Not that I'll ever have the kind of fame, money, etc. that gets you that kind of thing, but I like to fantasize about it, the same way that I fantasize about my Oscar gown, what I'll wear to my husband's presidential inauguration, etc. So here's what I want:

*A fluffy pair of flannel pajamas and one of those nice fluffy hotel robes, and some booty slippers
*A selection of herbal and green teas in one of those sectioned tea boxes, and hot water in a ceramic pot, and a big, chunky mug, preferably with an art print on it
*A bowl of lemon slices
*Two bottles of Shiraz and half a dozen crystal wine glasses
*Magazines: People, Atlantic Monthly,Newsweek, Time, and the daily newspaper of whatever city I'm in
*Pepperidge Farm Mint Milano cookies
*Videos--The first season of Lost,or any of the Six Feet Under seasons
*An elliptical trainer

Wow, I'm really disappointed. These are pretty much things I can easily provide for myself. I guess that's why people want these things, though...the comforts of home.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The things I'm going to do "someday"

I have so many things in my head I think I will do when I get a big chunk of time, but then when I do, I forget what they were and just take a nap. Therefore, I'm going to document them here.

* figure out how to do cool things on my blog, and to find out why I can't create links although I'm following the instructions I used to.

*scan all my photos to the computer, put them on disks, and get them all scrapbooked

*clean my entire house (including closets) and gather and price items for a garage sale

*get a Master's Degree, which would involve a series of smaller tasks to initiate the process

*exercise on a regular basis

*watch the Godfather movies (I have never seen a Godfather movie in its entirety)--also Apocalypse Now and Citizen Kane

*read the boxed set of tiny Shakespeare books that I asked for and got several Christmases ago

*find my Christmas recipe folder!!! It's missing and I must have it!

*put photos in my dozens of empty frames

* buy some proper clothes (Goddess clothes, as my friend Susan would say)

* get a mammogram and make an eye doctor appointment

* read the manual that came with my car

* figure out how to use all the features on my cell phone

Well, I guess that's enough to keep me off the streets for the next few breaks.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Fortunately, she seems to be doing better now, but about two weeks ago my stepdaughter had a serious car accident on her way home from work, resulting in a badly broken hip, among other things. After the initial surgery, another surgery at another hospital a little over an hour from here,was required. Although she is still in the hospital, she sounded great when my husband spoke to her on the phone today and seems to be recovering nicely, although there is some more healing and rehab ahead of her.
(Update: I was interrupted when writing this Saturday. She will be returning to our hometown hospital tomorrow for rehab.)
Since early May of last year, I have had three family members in the hospital for some pretty serious stuff. That was preceded by two years where someone was in the hospital at least once for other serious stuff. I am happy to report that they are, if not necessarily all completely healthy, better off than they would have been without surgical/medical intervention.
It’s strange how you can go years and years without this stuff going on and then it becomes a weirdly normal part of your life—not the illness or injury that results in the hospital stay, but how the language of hospitals and getting around starts to become familiar: NPO, clear tray, rating pain on a scale of 1 to 10, etc.
But thank God for the hospitals, doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel that have made life better, safer, and healthier for my loved ones when they have been in some kind of trouble.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Scrubs and ageism

Several posts ago, I said that I would write about issues of age as they are represented in popular culture (and someday, when I can create a link...I have been having trouble doing that lately using the blogger instructions, I will edit this and include links.) I saw an issue that came up the other night on one of my favorite sitcoms, Scrubs, but I wanted to process it for a few days before I wrote about it.

This is a batch of new episodes, and J.D., the main character, has now become an attending physician supervising a group of interns. Among those interns is an older woman (comic premise, I'm sure, being that it is not bloody likely, which is true.) My issue is that this woman is presented as being slow-moving and constantly falling asleep.

One of the fun things about this show is that it actually explores, in a comedic way, the way we stereotype people, shown in the ways J.D. relates to his African-American friend Turk, and Turk's Hispanic wife,Carla, and even the ditzy, WASPY blonde (female) doctor, Elliot. So, initially, I thought, this is among the things this show does. Everybody is fair game, and so age would certainly not be off-limits.

But then I got to thinking about a syndicated column I read a couple of days ago (and I can't find it.) It was written by a Hispanic woman who discussed people who write her with legitimate questions, and the letters often begin "I know you will think I'm a racist, but...". She then discusses how the fear of being branded racist prevents us from discussing legitimate issues. Then she usually is able to point out to people that the way we stereotype people obscures other issues, such as poverty. Her point is, that real racism is something that ultimately results in some kind of economic hardship for people.

This is where I take issue with the Scrubs episode. Hollywood is notorious for age discrimination, and there is a class action suit brought by several writers over 40 against studios in Hollywood. Age is an economic issue in show business (as ethnicity has been, but that situation is changing to some extent.) My point is that an industry which is known for hurting people economically in this way (not only in the past, but currently and blatantly) is being very offensive when it is stereotyping in this manner.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Keeping track

I was filling out the new calendar from the old calendar a couple of days ago (primarily birthdays) and I noticed all the additional stuff that had been written's appointments, get-togethers with friends, vacations, and so on. I realized that i had probably forgotten a lot of details of those events that might be helpful for my occasional pastime of scrapbooking, which should be more fun because of the Sizzix die-cut machine I requested and got for Christmas.

Therefore, I will occasionally be recording the excruciating minutiae of my life, not because it's good reading, but I've discovered going over old blog entries also helps me remember things.

My first act will be to record what I can recall that I got for Christmas 2005: the aforementioned Sizzix, Eminem CD (Curtain Call), slippers,slipper socks, a Pilates ball and DVD, (and I also gave Ron one, which is OK because they come in sizes according to your height)(Ron); a crystal candy jar or vase (Princess House)(Jeff and Roni); Sweater with crocheted hem and neck (Jamie); Le Creuset ceramic baking pans and a silicone one, jewelry box, and holly chip and dip server (Jay and Shari); scrapbook stickers, bath gel, and a Linkity game (Joe and Julie); money (Mom) :-) ; a "popcorn" container filled with movie snacks (Bob and Sherry); bottle of wine and candy (Jodi and Karl).restaurant gift certificate (Kathy); and various gifts & hostess gifts from friends--pedometer, A Christmas Carol DVD, teacups and homemade tea mix, cinnamon-scented gingerbread man trivet.

We had the usual Christmas Eve open house. Cheese soup and Yule Log were the biggest hits made by my hands, Ron made the Gascony beef stew which I usually make (but his was awesome, baked in the cast iron pan in the oven the way it's supposed to be) and Jamie made a fabulous, two-tiered chocolate cake chocolate frosting, decorated with gumdrops, candy canes, and gumdrops. it was beautiful like the front of a magazine. Hopefully someone took pictures and will give me one.

Just like Josh takes lots of pictures of buildings with no people in them, I find myself increasingly traking or collecting pictures of food. Now if I can just keep photographing it and not eating it, I might be able to keep one of my New Year's resolutions.