observed

Communication 101

img_0274Growing up, my mom sat down with us every few months and taught us a new principle of conversation. It should be noted that I did not like these meetings. I wanted to watch Scooby Doo, but it was a requirement, and so I tried to quiet my interrupting voice and keep my fidgeting limbs still so I could learn about things like Reflective Listening and the Broken Record technique.

To have a conversation means to give and receive words, ideas, views, thoughts, and feelings. If I look objectively on what happens on Facebook, other social media platforms, and often in person, we aren’t having many conversations. We do a lot of Deflecting. Watch talk shows, news programs, or anything on TV where anything of importance is being discussed and you’ll see what I mean. There is hardly any real conversation happening and this is a bad thing for us as a people, as a nation. This is the world where someone like Trump thrives because truth means nothing to him or the people around him. Truth is everything and in order to find out the truth, you have to talk about things without getting defensive or dismissive so you can really hear.

Our kids soak up how we talk about others and how we treat others and then they go to school and act it out, but even more, bigger, harder, wilder. So if you’re calling people who don’t think like you do idiots at home and laughing when the talk show says they should get thrown out of the country, then they’re going to go to school and call someone an idiot, laugh at them, and then take it two steps further. Because that’s what kids do. And right now, our schools are missing empathy big time. (Help me create this empathy game for kids!) When you have 90% of teachers reporting that the increase of hate in their classrooms has skyrocketed this past month, you’ve got to pay attention. (And then consider supporting a cause that tries to help teachers know how to handle it.)

Here’s my advice to you if you’re new to this and you honestly would like to not be enemies with everyone who disagrees with you. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Just sit with it. You won’t die from this discomfort, I promise, even if it feels like you will. Be willing to suspend that NEED you feel to make a decision and just sit with the new information.

Here’s a quick rundown on some communication types: (This would look great as an illustration. Someone do that.)

Deflective


Person 1 I can’t believe what just happened. I feel terrible.
Person 2 Why are you always exaggerating?
Person 1 I’m not! Here’s some supporting evidence that happened!
Person 2 You’re an idiot. I can’t believe you’re upset about that.
Person 1 (yelling) You don’t care about anything or anyone! You’re a terrible person!
Person 2 No, YOU’RE a terrible person.

RESULT:(And then they unfriend each other on Facebook.)

Reflective


Person 1 I can’t believe what just happened. I feel terrible.
Person 2 Something terrible happened?
Person 1 Here’s some additional information about what happened. I’m really scared and upset!
Person 2 Wow, that sounds hard. I can see why you’re upset and scared.
Person 1 Yeah, I wasn’t prepared for that. This is terrible.
Person 2 Yeah, that sounds terrible and I can see why you feel unprepared.

RESULT: Person 1 usually leaves this conversation feeling heard by Person 2. Nothing has changed for either person, but Person 1 doesn’t feel alone.

Empathetic/Compassionate


Person 1 I can’t believe what just happened. I feel terrible.
Person 2 What? Oh no! That sounds terrible! Tell me more!
Person 1 Here’s some additional information about what happened. I’m really scared and upset!
Person 2 I would be, too! That’s upsetting! I’m feeling upset with you!
Person 1 Yeah, I wasn’t prepared for that. This is terrible.
Person 2 How can I help you be prepared next time? What can I do to help?
Person 1 I could use help with A, B, and C. Could you do any of those things?
Person 2 Totally. I can do A and C and I bet we can find someone to do B. Let’s figure this out together.

RESULT: Both people are changed in this conversation. Ideas and feelings have been exchanged and heard. Person 1 feels supported and Person 2’s compassion has made it impossible to not help in some way. Good things come from this type of conversation.

Disagreement/Discussion


Person 1 I can’t believe what just happened. I feel terrible.
Person 2 Tell me more about it.
Person 1 Here’s some additional information about what happened. I’m really scared and upset!
Person 2 Well, I’m hearing your concerns, but I don’t think I would be upset in your situation.
Person 1 I wasn’t prepared for that. I’m worried and upset.
Person 2 Yes, I hear that you’re worried and upset, but have you considered A, B, and C?
Person 1 No, actually. I haven’t heard about A, B, or C. Can you explain more so I understand?
Person 2 Sure. Here’s all the facts I know about it, plus here are some websites where you can read more.
Person 1 I’ve read the stuff you sent me. Thanks for the links. Because these things happened in my life and how I was raised, I don’t really agree. I’m still worried.
Person 2 Thanks for taking my opinion in to account and reading the facts I sent you. I guess we’ll disagree with each other on these points but I still think you’re a good person.
Person 1 Thanks, I think you’re a good person, too. Let’s BBQ this weekend.

RESULT: This one can go all different ways. People get really passionate. There can be yelling sometimes. But the focus stays on the issues and not the people talking. They remain human beings to each other, instead of “stupid idiots” because they don’t agree.

The thing is – we all feel like good people and we all are “good people.” (There are exceptions to this, of course, but generally…) The person who believes differently than you on a political matter is not an idiot. They are your family, a member of the human race, and if one of us is hurting, we’re all hurting.

The ONLY way to move forward is to talk together until hearts and minds are changed, and that won’t happen when we use conversation stoppers aka insults and accusations. We are actually on the same team. We all want the freedom to pursue happiness in a peaceful nation where people are thriving and prospering. How we think we should get there will vary wildly.

Speaking to someone who has different beliefs than you or comes from a different type of life than you, who is so foreign that they just don’t make sense at first is ok. It’s good. Let it feel weird. Be willing to look dumb to try and learn more. Ask questions. And when they tell you things you don’t understand, ask more questions. And then, and this is of the upmost importance, don’t discount someone else’s lived experience because it’s never happened to you.

They lived it. They’re sharing it. Receive it.

Things to remember:

1. These tips do not apply when someone is verbally abusing you. If that happens, walk away.
2. These tips do not apply if you are a person of color and you’re talking to someone who is racist. Walk away and call in your white friends.
3. These tips do not apply if you’re having a really bad day and you just need to eat brownies and watch reruns of M.A.S.H. Tell the other person you need a time out and you’ll reconvene soon.
4. It’s OK to disagree with others. It is not your job to make them change their minds. People typically need time and space for that to happen and the harder you push, they further they back away.
5. The best way to change the minds of those around you is in the example you set and this goes a frillion times more for kids watching you.
6. You will make mistakes. This is fine. This is life. We are all learning. The question is – what will you do immediately after? (Answer: apologize sincerely and then do better.)

Golden Tree at Dusk or Let in the Light

When the sun gracefully bends down in the sky to about here

the most beautiful thing happens off my balcony. Before I show you that, let me back up in time just a bit.

When we first moved into this little condo about a year ago, we were in the middle of some very stressful family things. We were distracted and heavy with Life and it was such a stroke of Universe (can I use “Universe” that way? Yes? Good.) that Joe’s aunts owned a place that was becoming available right when we needed it. It made the entire process of trying to find a place so much easier. We just slipped in quietly.

I remember when we walked through, checking out the closet space and shower, looking off the balcony and thinking, yes, this will work. The balcony faced the busy street, but was insulated by large and leafy mature trees. The sound was muffled. You could hardly see the cars whiz by. There were flower scents heavy in the air and hummingbirds flitting around. I thought, as long as there are these trees here, I can stay here. I enjoyed the shade and comfort of those trees every morning and every evening. They created a little nest for me. Quiet, solitary.

Fast forward through time, because we can, to late summer, early fall. Perhaps September? One morning I woke to the sound of a chainsaw. Looking out the window, I saw men in orange vests suspended above ground, deep into my trees, chopping off bits here and there and large branches right in the center of the best, fullest tree, the one I’d come to count on as a buffer to the world. I was devastated.

The next day, as I drank my coffee and glared at the empty spot where the branches used to be and where now nothing but a barren trunk stood, I wished we could move. Immediately. I hated the cars driving by. I hated the increased dust that flew up to the balcony and into the house. I felt betrayed. I spent a lot of time not looking out the balcony doors.

Fast forwarding through time again, somewhere in late November, I noticed some green bits had sprung from the trunk. They were tiny bits of things, nothing like their majestic predecessors, but there they were, all the same. Green and alive and making themselves known. I was begrudgingly impressed with their will to live, but very slow to warm up to them. And then dusk happened.

I sat with my cup of tea and couldn’t tear my eyes away. The honey dripping light blazed the bark to a glow that almost made me cry, but to be fair, I’ve always been a sucker for yellows and browns. The color turned dark amber, and then within seconds, was gone. I didn’t realize I’d been holding my breath.

The days were short and the Dusk Tree glow lasted for approximately 47 seconds every evening around 4:30. I couldn’t wait and found myself finding reasons to be hanging around the balcony, waiting to see the light show. I busied myself at dusting the cd cases or talking to the houseplants. My Prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura erythroneura) Gracie, (who has always refused to do what she’s supposed to do: pray), and I have historically found ourselves at odds when it comes to air temperature. She’s a picky little thing, wanting no breeze whatsoever, while I prefer a nice flow through the house. We had a lot to talk about.

One particular evening, as the sun dipped low to right above the ocean, Gracie shushed me quiet and began to fold her leaves, doing exactly the thing that her genera is meant to do. The tree outside glowed amber and Gracie, one by one, brought each leaf up and tucked it away. I was quiet, of course, and meditated in my own way.

Early the next morning, I crept out to watch Gracie unfold and welcome the sun. The tree outside was not just a Golden Dusk Tree, it was also a beautiful Back-lit Green Glowing Tree in the morning. I sat on the couch with my coffee and pointed out to Joe how beautiful the light was just then. Yes, he said. No more words were required. Although, at this point, he might argue that me pointing out how beautiful the light is every morning and every night might be more words than are necessary.

Here is a composite of “our” tree:

2010

I’ve been known to go into Major Action Mode and plan, plan, plan and do, do, do and obsess, obsess, obsess my time away. Which is fine sometimes. My mind likes to be busy, as do my hands. Once I get something in my head and work on it for a few days/months, and get all set on How It’s Going To Be, I can have a really hard time recalculating and changing plans if the need arises.

We planned to travel the USA and meet lots of people and write a book and live out of our car with practically nothing to our name. We sold almost all our stuff. We gave notice on our home. We set up interviews and found sponsors and had a blast figuring out where we might go and the best way to get there. And then, our plans changed. And miracle or miracles, it was no big thing.

There have been a few times in my life when this has happened – I’ve ended up somewhere or with someone and I just know that is where I’m supposed to be. I get that feeling in my gut that says – ya, man. Right here. We got to Virginia and that is how I feel.

Of course, I’m a little disappointed that we won’t be driving across the country and meeting all of you, taking photos and creating a book, but it feels like that might still be coming. Sometime later. And even if it never does, I’m ok with that, too.

I find myself going inward a little. I’m not blogging as much or taking as many photos. I’m hardly on Twitter or Facebook. I’m not joining or participating in networking events. I feel quiet inside and I don’t really want to share my entire life with everyone. I don’t want to document every little thing that we do or where we go or what we looked like. These are all new feelings for me and it’s taken me a few weeks to reconcile that with the person I’ve been for the past 8 years. I’ve been a little confused by the whole thing.

I felt a little guilty that I feel this new way. After all, for the past 8 years I’ve talked about pretty much everything and shared so much with all of you. And I’ve loved it and sometimes, it’s the only thing that kept me going through major depressions and hard times. Sharing here and other places on the web has been such an important thing for my life.

No, I’m not making some grand announcement that I won’t be blogging ever again and I’m moving into a cave where I’ll become a recluse and live off squirrels and insects. (Good protein.) I’m just saying that my habits and feelings are changing and I don’t know what that means yet.

Thank you, friends, for coming here and caring what I say. Thank you for your emails and comments and love and support over the years. I feel like I know so many of you and I have no idea what I would have done without you during the hard times. Thank you, thank you, thank you. And if I suddenly find something I want to write about here in a consistent fashion, you’ll be the first to know.
xoxo

p.s. You can still email me if you want to. I’m not a hermit, for land’s sake.

p.p.s. Happy New Year! I wish you all the best for your new year.

Like a Cloud of Gnats

Joe and I went out to dinner on Saturday for his Birthday. We went to a Greek place in Malibu which was kind of tucked into a corner of an upscale mall-ish place. Our server knew all the right things to say such as ‘may I take your order?’ and ‘yes, you’re very welcome.’ Her manner and affect, however, were awesome. Imagine a family run business where everyone has a part to play, like it or not. Now imagine you’re in your early twenties and are so bored you’re actually not even surly anymore. You’re just barely participating in the dance of waiting on the customers and when you say ‘would you like some more iced tea?’ you’re looking out the window and your cadence and tone don’t change. A robot. She could have been a robot. And Joe and I were giggling by the time we left, it was that obvious and that funny. We tried to thank her with pizazz just to see if we could shake her, but it didn’t work.

The food was great, though.

We were on our way out and had just about made it to the car when suddenly there were photographers everywhere and flashes going off. We saw Denise Richards with someone that could have been her dad. They were walking, not slowing down. Her face looked drawn behind her sunglasses and there was something about the way she walked that showed she was used to this hoopla. I’ve never seen paparazzi before and man, that does not look fun. They were swirling around her, some running a few steps ahead and then quickly turning to get a front shot and others flanking them on the sides. And all she was doing was walking. I felt sorry for her. I can see why someone might want to punch one of them every now and again. I do not ever want to be famous.

Palm Desert, Duckies

pd2_7

Yesterday, Susan and I went to go get our toes done. Susan was very excited to pair me up with David. The Famed David was supposedly a very great pedicurist and I was looking forward to his expertise.

I think my feet may have turned David into a different form of himself and instead of the wonderful, careful and great conversationalist he was rumored to be, he stared at me the entire time with a sort of unnerving stare. Like this. His staring was making me quite uncomfortable and I texted Susan, who was sitting in the chair next to me, that I thought he wanted to have my babies. Or maybe eat my liver with Fava beans.

David was good at whipping my feet in to shape. Yes, he tried to upsell me with the waxing and the eyebrow shaping and all the other annoying things they say to make you feel inferior until you cave in and agree to empty your wallet while you’re sitting in the chair, all of which I refused. But, he was good with my feet. I normally have issues with dryness on my heels and most of the time, the pedicurist will feel my heels and look slightly shocked at the sheer mass of dryness. David, however, looked unfazed. He oiled them and massaged them and told them a naptime story and then began using the rough paddle on them. And then suddenly, it was as if he was a pianist virtuoso, preparing to play the part near the end leading to the crescendo, and he raised his hiney in the air with a flourish, pushed back on the little seat he had been sitting on with the back of his legs, and bent completely over my feet, his legs solidly apart and sturdy as he gripped my feet with both hands and gave them all the attention a person has to offer. His hair shook wildly and his lab coat vibrated with determination. The dead skin went flying and I tried not to get grossed out. After all, David didn’t seem to care. He was determined to get things down to a normal level. And he did, too.

Oh, David. If only you weren’t an odd-staring-kind-of-person and I weren’t more-than-happily married and not in need of and slightly scared of your cop-a-feel-chair that massaged my butt for 10 minutes. Because my heels have never been so soft.

Phew

Quite a week, duckies. Quite a week. Not a lot to say about it, as it’s too fresh and raw but perhaps soon.

Last weekend in Santa Barbara, my sister and I had a couple of great conversations about God. If you recall, I was worried about telling her how much my idea of a higher power differed from hers. Religion being what it is in my family, my fears weren’t unfounded. However, we had no problem understanding each other and really, at the base, our beliefs are quite similar. It’s just when you get to the organized religion part that we really start to differ. I have a huge issue with the Joseph Smith story and depending on others for the power of the priesthood. I have huge issues with Jesus Christ dying for my sins when I had no say in the matter and being indebted to him for eternity because it makes so much more sense to me if we are all accountable for our own sins and not laying them at the feet of someone else. I don’t believe it’s possible.

However, I do believe in spiritual power and I feel it all the time. I felt it in the Mormon church and I’ve felt it at the Catholic church and outside in nature and at home. I also believe in the principle of supporting the needy with our own resources. I have no doubt that parts of every religion have some good and I firmly believe that not any of them hold the one and only sure way to heaven.

I believe you can be a good person, a great person and not believe in any specific higher power. I’ve met many. The argument that you must be a Christan or God-Fearing person to be a good person makes no sense to me. Living a life of fear and doing things because you are afraid or storing up blessings in the afterlife does not make you a good person. I believe you really have to do things because you love. Love for yourself. Love for others. Being kind and loving is not the same thing as being a Christian, although they can both reside in the same person and do often.

I believe it doesn’t matter which religion you belong to or if you belong to one at all. Every single one thinks they are right, clear down to their bones and with equal passion. If you are a Catholic and join another church, your family will be praying for your eternal salvation until you come back into the fold. They will mourn your apostasy and pray to their version of God to save you and bring you back. The same for the Mormons. The same for them all.

When I see an organized religion that says, with all honesty, they don’t care if you join them or not and they think it doesn’t matter which one you belong to and they are there mostly for community reasons of support and not because of some special keys or promises or other thing that only they have, then I might think about joining them. But only because it’s nice to be around people sometimes and I could use the friends. I won’t be there because I think they hold all the answers.

I have no idea if there is an afterlife and I don’t care. I tend to think there is something but I have no issue with not understanding it right now. Why would I want to? I’ve got all I can handle in the present. It’s enough to feel the loving energy surrounding me and the knowledge that I’m not alone. I’m held up with light anytime I need it or ask for it. I know I’m loved just like every other being on the planet is loved.

I know my life is being guided just like everyone else’s is. I know things happen and my job is to adjust to those things, embrace them, accept them and learn from them. And all that can sometimes be hard but it’s always worth it and it helps if you can keep your sense of humor. I believe that sometimes hard or terrible things happen and it has nothing to do with what I did or didn’t do. The Universe unfolds as it is supposed to and all my hemming, hawing, praying, wailing, praising and praying won’t change it a darn bit. And that’s alright, too. But the more I accept things as they really are and accept reality instead of trying to make reality be what I want it to be, the happier and more peaceful I am. And also? It’s fine if you believe something different and maybe even awesome if you do, because that will give us a chance to talk about how we both feel and explore new ideas and learn new things and love the differences in each other.

Though this exploration, I’ve found that I can spot in an instant when other people start telling me what I believe based on their understanding of their own truth. When they start in with the intent to change my mind, I know that they aren’t really listening and everything they are saying is all about them. A reflection of how closely they must cling to their truths. It’s how THEY are inside. It’s their own fears about someone believing differently.

But when someone is truly trying to understand and they are listening with their hearts more than telling me, with their knowledge, why I’m wrong, we get on quite well. Next up – world peace.

And All Before I Had Coffee

Let’s just say I’m neurotic in an endearing way. Is that fine with everyone? It may not be true but we can all pretend.

This morning I started doing the dishes because our maid seems to have forgotten to come to work for the last 36 years and as I rinsed one of the plethora of dirty glasses that somehow procreate offspring faster than you can say GO OUTSIDE AND USE THE FRIGGIN HOSE NEXT TIME! I caught the scent of mildew. Mildew, again! I’m not even kidding when I tell you for the past week I’ve been on a tear when it comes to isolating and obliterating the mildew. Mildew must die! And every morning when I start to do the dishes I’m sniffing like a crack whore looking for her next fix trying to find the source. We have at least 145 dishrags and they’ve all gone through the washer this week at least twice because they don’t pass The Sniff Test. I sniff them before I put them in the dryer. I sniff them when they come out. All fine. And then I pick one up to use it and it smells musty and mildewy! (not a word? bite me, spellchecker.) So I stand there, sniffing and tossing just washed dishrags back into the washer for their 4th rotation.

Which brings us to this morning, standing over the sink and once again, smelling the mildew. I picked up the rag I had just retrieved from the cupboard and sniffed it. Mildew! I angrily threw it in the general direction of the garage and got another. Mildew! My hands smelled! I scooped a little water in my hand and smelled it. Mildew. How can water smell like mildew?!

After huffing and puffing and telling Joe for eons about how whack this house is and how the kitchen sucks and everything smells like mildew and now EVEN! THE! WATER! smells like mildew he looked at me and said, ‘Well, that would be bad if the water really smelled like mildew. It would make us sick.’ And then he just looked at me.

As I started to question myself, I took one of the many, many glasses from the counter, filled it will water from the tap and inhaled deeply as if it were a fine wine – A hearty bouquet with a hint of oak. No mildew. Not even a bit. I had no choice but to dump out the water and admit I may have been overreacting.

And then I couldn’t smell it on any of the rags. I think someone is playing a trick on me. Like the time in Junior High when the tip of my nose smelled sour for over a month. It did! I couldn’t get it to stop no matter how many times I wiped it, washed it and dabbed on perfume. I walked up to people, some I knew, some I didn’t, and asked them to PLEASE smell my nose because it was driving me crazy. I needed someone to verify that I wasn’t crazy.

Funny story – I was crazy.

The Mean and Nasty

I get sick to my stomach every time someone on television says the words, ‘……and Paris Hilton is going to jail/was put in jail/just got out of jail!’ because within a fraction of a second, the air swells with the sounds of cheering and clapping. All those people, cheering together because why? Someone got their due?

I look around at the real problems in the world and wish people would invest a fraction of the energy they put into caring about Paris and Lindsey and Britney into something much more worthy of their time. I know a number of great causes and with the combined strength of a few million people, man we could do some good!

I don’t mean to come across all high-n-mighty. I enjoy a good Go Fug Yourself just like the next person. But where the one seems like a jab at a fashion choice or a bad hair day, this feels like mob mentality when everyone across the country is thinking and feeling ill of a particular person. How can that person ever hope to be able to move past it? Isn’t that energy damaging?

I realize that in this case, Paris has snubbed her nose at the law and conventionality many, many times. I also realize that she is not generally portrayed as a kind person and has made many a public mistake. She may truly be a mean person. But, I doubt it. If you are religious, she’s your sister. If you’re not, she’s still a human being. A very young, sometimes stupid and surely immature human being. And I would tend to blame her permissive parents much harsher than her. But, who can say, really? I don’t know any of them personally.

In my experience with my own life and with my own kids, if a person is continually reminded over and over how they screwed up, they don’t improve very fast. It’s not helpful, is what I’m saying. Now, increase that by the size of America. What kind of chance do these girls have of really turning things around? Would we let them change or take their attempts seriously anyway?

The insatiable thirst we Americans get for the scoop on our celebrities is truly disgusting to me sometimes. We cheer them on, encouraging them to be more bizarre and get more attention, and then we turn on them after we use them up. Like an old tube of toothpaste but with less mint flavor. And then we mock them and jeer at them. It makes me sad.

Inappropriate Non-Carnivorous Chomping

Sometimes, I get a look at those baby toes (like these and these) and I want to *Chomp!* Joe will be looking over my shoulder and I’ll actually say ‘Chomp’ out loud and he’ll give me this look that clearly says, ‘There is something WRONG with you, woman!’

I can’t help it. Baby toes are delectable and delightful. They invite, nay, require a Chomp! and I’m just the one to do it. When my babies were born, I spent many glorious moments mimicking eating noises while kissing their feet and PLEASE tell me I’m not the only one. I can’t be. There must be more people out there that pretend to eat baby feet or perfect ears and fingers and chunky thighs, yes? Of course, this totally changes around the age of 1 when baby feet inexplicably turn into toddler feet and start to sweat and stink and get toe-jam. At that point, feet are feet and I’d just as soon not put them near my mouth, thanks. But, until then, YUMMY!

——-

Here’s a little story to let you know just how weird I am sometimes. Every time Joe loads the dishwasher, I go in after him and pull the spatulas and whisks and long knives up from the bottom shelf where he put them in, vertically, in the flatware holder and I place them, horizontally, on the top shelf next to the bowls where they FIT because they don’t FIT on the bottom and they impede the propellers that need to turn-baby-turn in order to get the dishes really clean. I mean, WHY is it so hard to remember?

A few days ago, we were in the kitchen together, loading the dishwasher and every time he placed one of those items in the flatware bin I reach over and placed it on the top shelf. Kind of like a robot. A dishwasher loading robot. Finally, he stops and asks me what I’m doing. So, in my most patient voice, full of dripping kindness, because really, is it his fault I’m just better than him at loading the dishwasher? No. It’s not. So I can be kind while I completely obliterate his method. I explain exactly what he’s doing wrong and how the blades can’t turn and then the dishes won’t get clean. And he says, ‘No. You’re wrong.’ And I’m all, ‘What? Are you crazy? Look! Look what happens!’ And I reach down to show him how the propeller blades can’t turn and they get stuck on those long utensils and guess what? No, guess! There are NO propeller blade where I thought they were. Those long utensils on the bottom shelf? The vertical ones? FINE where they are. Apparently, I’m thinking of a dishwasher from my other life with my other husband in another house in another universe because THIS one has the propeller blades on the bottom of the dishwasher and there is no way that the way he loads it is getting in the way. What’s even a little weirder is that this is the ONLY dishwasher he and I have ever had together in 5 years and we have only had it the past 2 years which means I’m thinking of some lame-ass dishwasher from over 6 years ago. Let’s just assume that THAT dishwasher had some kind of utensil-blade issue, ok? Thanks.

At the Zoo

People keep coming in the house, looking this way and that way, checking out the dining room where fifteen miscellaneous projects are arranged carefully, clockwise, around the table. They walk towards the backyard, sniffing over the dishtowel, crumpled, next to the coffee mug from this morning and the plate half slick with remaining egg yolk and toast crumbs. They scan the walls, the floors, judging the painting hanging slightly too far to the right and the pile of magazines, about 25 high, next to the stack of books, even higher, on the coffee table. There’s a corner of clothes waiting to be folded on the couch. Some balls of yarn on the floor by the basket. And the kitchen carpet, the blue one of respectable size and pile, is in the washer. They will never know that I am a person that has that kitchen carpet. They will forever believe I am a kitchen carpetless heathen with toes touching the cold linoleum at 2am while making toast.

They imagine their table where mine is. Their living room set where mine is. Their beds, linens, bathroom items including shaped soaps that look like seashells and stars, where my homemade candles sit in their small clay plant reservoir, just the perfect size for three laid in a triangle.

They come back downstairs, moving as a herd, the mom who judged the way my bed was (not) made, the dad who thinks the two plungers in the garage are a sure sign that the plumbing must be bad, their pre-teen girl chewing gum (she probably touched Alex’s jewelry on the table by her bed and smelled her perfume in the bathroom), their 5-year-old boy holding the railing, trailing his fingers on the side (they probably have something sticky on them from breakfast, like grape jelly or syrup and I bet he picked his nose and left a disgusting booger on the railing about half way down) and the toddler girl, too cute for words but she stole one of my kitchen magnets and put it in her pocket. If confronted, her mom will probably call me a liar and send her co-worker’s son, who belongs to a bad group of kids, over to steal our TVs when we’re out. I don’t really care about the magnet. It’s one of the butterfly ones that say cliché things like ‘Love is in your heart!‘ and ‘Today is the First Day..‘ blah blah blah. I imagine her finding it two days from now, cleaning out the pockets for the wash, and immediately feeling embarrassed. Her face will turn red and she’ll wonder if I know. I know.

And they are just one group of many. We are the attraction in the zoo, sitting on the couch and pretending to not notice them as the landlord takes them around and shows them the many benefits to this lovely home like the dog run sans dog, the spacious Great Rooms with dual fireplaces and the automatic sprinkling system. Doritos commercials have never been so captivating.

Mostly, I don’t stay around when the people come out on their excursion. Mostly, I go to the market or the book store and waste an hour looking at more books to add to the Haven’t Read Yet pile or stay in isle 4 reading the backs of cereal boxes. Honey Nut Cheerios are not a good read. And I can’t wait to be in our new home, away from these people looking at our old one, where we don’t really live anymore. So I guess I better get out there and look through more homes. But only empty ones.

Free Form Confessions

I wore my cute, breezy, brown and summery short pants* yesterday. I haven’t pulled them out since last summer. It’s been so hot it seemed like a good idea. Except for the fact that yesterday it was overcast and raining all day. That is so like me – just a few days off in my timing.

I put my hand in my pocket sometime after lunch and pulled out this card**:

mkcard

This tells me two things: 1) the last time I wore these pants was at Blogher and 2) I didn’t wash them. Awesome.
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I want a job, like, yesterday.
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I made my stomach upset by eating a marshmallow bunny and a Reese’s peanut butter egg. My body is not used to sugar. I can only assume that Easter is evil and the power of Christ compels me to fill my body with yummy sickness inducing chocolate treats. Thanks a lot, Easter Bunny.***
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I’m sensitive to latex. Bandages make a red patch on my body wherever they are attached and it lingers much longer than whatever the original owie was. When I tried to quit smoking those last couple of times, I tried the patch only to find I was constantly itching around and around it. Like that mosquito bite that you don’t want to bother but you can’t leave alone. The gum eventually did the trick for me, as bad as it tasted. So, here comes the part where I share too much information (as if it hasn’t happened already) in that I remind you that I’m trying not to become pregnant. The status of Joe’s and my sex life is not really anyone’s business and not really suitable for public internet consumption but let me just say that latex has become an issue in this department. So much so that the only thing Joe wanted for his birthday was for me to find some type of condoms that would work for me and not result in me jumping up from bed and exclaiming ‘My cootchie itches, dangit!’ which isn’t really the finest ending to being intimate with your partner. I found these during a hilariously eventful trip to the drug store where we only purchased gender-appropriate items like sanitary napkins and Gillette shavers. At $38 per 12 pack, each use coming in at just over $3, I feel like I better rent a video and hone up on my pole skills to make buying that pack worth his time and money. No pressure.
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Frequently, Joe will try to push a little culture towards the kids’ general direction. He’s quite observant for an old guy (He’s 37!!!) and he watches for things that they might find interesting. A computer game here, a geek conference there, a movie from the era of raging musicals from time to time, and then tries to entice the kids to participate, to broaden their horizons, if you will. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. One great experience was the other night when The Goodbye Girl was available via HBO on Demand. Joe and I both love the movie**** but I’ve heard groans from my daughter in relation to movies seeming to be a much better match seeing as how she likes to sing and dance and would like to be in the movies some day (Guys and Dolls, West Side Story) so I didn’t have very high hopes. I was wrong. She loved it, giggling and laughing, mostly in reaction to the deadpan humor and cuteness of the daughter in the story, Lucy, played by Quinn Cummings, who was fabulous and was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Oscar for her role. Out of curiosity, because I’m nosy like that, I found her online.***** Her blog is The QC Report and her writing is brilliant. I think we all know of a few celebrity online spots where the writing is sub par and un-witty making it hard to read except for the fact that you really, really, really want the person to have something great to say because you liked them in some movie. But Quinn’s writing is poignant and real, well written and funny. If I were still doing blogger interviews I would hit her up for a session in no time. Instead, I’ll just point you to a couple of my favorites.

Love Means Never starts out with how people don’t actually apologize when they apologize anymore and ends up telling an experience she had of being held up as the show-and-tell item of the night. I’ve had nights like this. I’ve been so angry and left the party rather than talk to the person about it and I then avoid them forever after and wonder, as I replay what I would have said in my head for the next eight months, if I would have done better to confront them.

Big Daddy is a beautiful tribute to her father, Sumner, and includes the heart breaking tale of the last day making the movie, The Goodbye Girl.

Even in her most recent post, To Live and Dye in LA, she uses words in such a wonderful way, weaving them in and out and creating this tapestry that you can see and touch and taste.

Also, she is the creator of the Hiphugger.
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I’m kind of a Law and Order freak. I have a need to see bad guys put away. On the rare occasion that they leave it open-ended with no pat resolution and the perp not on his way to Rikers, I throw things and pitch a fit. I need RESOLUTION, bastards!
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For those of you receiving your latest issue of JPG: Street, please thumb through the pages until you find the interview I did with the amazing National Geographic photographer, Nick Nichols. The entire interview couldn’t fit in the issue, and he’s got a film festival coming up that sounds fantastic, so please read the entire interview on the JPG site here for more details.
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I like Simon Cowell more than Paula Abdul. He seems to tell the truth and for the most part appears unintoxicated.
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*I realize that historically, ‘short pants’ is meant to describe above the knee pants, or, shorts. I use the term ‘short pants’ here because I get all the capri, palazzo, flood, ankle, and crop terms confused and what I really want to say is my pants are shorter than regular pants, ok? Play along with me.

**I’d like to apologize, Eden, not just for not keeping your card in a place of honor these past few months (it’s now in the Honor Bin) but also because I didn’t even know it wasn’t. If you can’t forgive me, I’ll understand. (at least I didn’t wash it!)

***Just kidding, Mom. I don’t really believe that Easter is evil. I used the phrase ‘The power of Christ compels thee!’ because no matter how much I don’t want to, I like and keep watching the movie Just Like Heaven with Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo and there is part in there where a completely ridiculous priest says that over and over while spraying holy water all over the floor where I’m sure it burns holes clean through to the apartment underneath where people are looking up and wondering where the acid rain is coming from.

****The part at the end where Paula is standing out on the balcony in the rain? With Elliot’s guitar positively soaked through? And hugging it as if it was the embodiment of Love? That is truly a wonderful moment.

*****Actually, Joe found her. But we share a brain, in a completely un-codependent way, so it’s the same as if I found her. Right? (thanks, joe! xo)

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