Monday, March 28, 2011

It's Not NORMAL!



This isn't a normal Monday...but keep reading and stay sharp. My hands are twitchy. You'll get the full circle.

I realize that there are SOME people who DO give a lot of what they can to causes, to issues, to the “greater good”. Unbelievably I have recently met a person who doesn’t recycle.

A PERSON WHO DOESN’T RECYCLE.

Does this make any measure of sense to you?!  If it does, I’m guessing you don’t recycle, and I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you live in a country where recycling is IMPOSSIBLE, and not in the USA where recycling is practically a cliché. 

I shall also assume you enjoy the notion of living among detritus, and more on this later.

My in laws live in a pretty rural area. They don’t get the benefit of sewer services, water lines, or garbage service. They collect water in a cistern, get rid of human waste via septic tank, and create a landfill on their property for solid, consumer waste.  They have ZERO reason to be recyclers. HOWEVER!

Here’s what they do:  all food gets composted, and I do mean ALL food, not just the romantic tops of strawberries and celery...even the proteins. There are deer and fox, raccoons and other animals who take the leftover food. Paper is burned and metal is collected and hauled to recycling facilities. Everything else is buried in a homemade landfill.

In a household that began as 7 people and has grown to 21 when you consider the flock who returns each week for family meals and weekends of spending the night…there have maybe been SIX landfills…over the course of 30 years.  This is a family who has to figure out a way to create less trash BECAUSE they don’t have access to a tidy pick up service, or a drop off that’s less than 25 miles away.

What possible excuse does a family who lives in a metropolitan area, or even metro-near, have??

THERE IS NO EXCUSE.

I spend so much of my bleeding heart energy trying to make the world a safer, calmer, more loving place…asking people to think beyond their small circle and remember with their wallet, in even teeny tiny amounts, that a greater world exists and parts of that world have NOTHING. But I’m speaking to some people who cannot even muster the compassion to put some plastic or aluminum into a different trash receptacle.

That’s what it boils down. COMPASSION.  How compassionate are you? Truly.  Deeply.  How myopic is your view of the world?  Sometimes it astounds me how small people’s line of vision is…how if they took one tiny glance to the left or right, they’d see a whole world standing next to them.

But in their place of “I got what’s MINE” (that horrendous Terrible Two phase that working adults can re-enter) they allow to drop away the family of humanity. Sometimes in a family, you HAVE TO reach out and lend a hand to a brother or sister, or even a 2nd cousin on the side of the family you really don’t like; you do this because they are your FAMILY.

When people are stuck looking only at themselves, only at their things and their possessions, and what they want in the future, they walk away from the human family. Yes they’re rich in things and in money. For many people that is the very unfortunate measure of success and happiness, and it is a lie.

Mothers and fathers across the world wish for their children a mate who loves their family. Mothers tell daughters to choose a man who loves his mother…for the man who loves his mother will love his wife.  She will hold a special place in his heart. A woman who doesn’t love and respect her father will never put her husband in a place of partnership and equality…she will forever feel a sense of adversary with her mate. This is the usual psychobabble of mating advice that we pass on to our children.

If a person lives on this planet among the other souls walking it, be they black, brown, yellow or some version of “white”…and that person doesn’t see the family and the earth for who and what they are, I find it shockingly hard to believe that compassion is springing forth from their bones and blood. If you cannot even find a separate trash can for the glass and cardboard, how are you possibly taking a wider view of the world, of humanity, and be caring for US?

Why is it a weakness to have an open heart for those outside your inner circle, sometimes for those outside of YOU?  Why do we attach labels and monikers to distinguish those who favor keeping it all and making your own choices from those who favor giving it all out from a collective pot? Why isn’t there one overriding sense of US that captures the heart and mind?

I hate this post today because I’m preaching to the choir, as the saying goes. If you don’t agree with me, I’m not changing your mind here. And if you do agree with me, you didn’t need me to say all this. But I want to know where the compassionate soul of humanity has gone…as a collection. I need to know where the notion went that we each deserve. Have we ever even had it?

Because that’s it…we each deserve.

Whatever it is we deserve is up to us. Some people deserve school supplies. Some people just deserve a decent meal once a day. Some adults facing cancer deserve rides to chemo when family and friends are unavailable. Some girls in poor places deserve to attend school four weeks of every month instead of three because they have sanitary supplies…does everyone GET that need?? There are girls who miss a week of school every month because they have no way to publicly deal with their period: A BIOLOGICAL FUNCTION.  Can anyone imagine a man being denied education because of erections in adolescence? It’s ABSURD.

And yet I meet people who don’t recycle.

So this is all my opinion…and on a Monday where it decidedly does NOT belong, but it’s Spring Break week and my children deserve a mother who doesn’t tell them to go away because I need quiet time. This week there may not be posts after this one…even though you may feel deserving of them, as you should.

Be assured that Dirty Words will return with the requisite sarcasm you’ve grown accustomed to and with its usual frequency.  In the meantime….get a damned bin and separate out your cereal boxes, donate a box of tampons to a free store, or help a child whose legs have blown off by a landmine get some medical treatment. Drive a father or mother who’s fighting for their life to a chemo treatment, or send $5 to the Red Cross to help a family still living in a tent in Haiti or Japan. Be a better mother or father to your children, a better aunt or uncle to your family’s children by engaging those children and sending them out into this wide world with a sense of community and compassion.

Get out of your head and your circle and think of something larger than you.  BE a part of something bigger and better than just you.

Just freaking recycle: cans, glass, love, time, energy, money…all of it.

It’s NOTHING if it’s not shared, and if you’re not recycling that which is inside you, your humanity and your spirit, then you are living in waste and collecting such detritus that you might not survive its weight (remember that from the beginning…it’s not just about cans peeps! I tricked you a little).

Recycle your humanity. Where you give it away there will always be more. You will never lose by giving away of yourself and that which you have in excess.


*The gummy climber at the top is "unattributable"...it's everywhere. Whoever took that picture gets a giant thank-you from me because it perfectly captures why no task is impossible and why ANYTHING is worth it. So reach out and give yourself away. You'll only get better for it.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Slap Friday- The Heimlich For Your Soul


DUDE!  Are you BREATHING?!?


It’s FRIDAY peepers!! That means I’m almost officially on Spring Break and even though I’m an old curmudgeon who’s not going anywhere, I like the idea of being on a break from my exceedingly busy lifestyle. And fine...it also means that YOU are owed a smack in yo' face. 
           
Today’s lesson is about breathing.

I know you THINK you’re already doing this and you’ve got it down pat. After all, you’re reading this so on some level you MUST be respirating. Here’s a statistic I’ve made up but that’s mostly based in fact nonetheless:  Most of us aren’t deeply breathing for most of our day.

We’re tense.

We’re worried about the job, the mortgage, the kids, our health, the stats on our blog and the emptiness of our email boxes we set up so people could contact us for paid writing gigs at contactdirtywords@gmail.com. I’m speaking to the wider audience here…it’s not all about me. (It IS all about me, though…if I'm being honest.)

When I take even thirty seconds to pay attention to how I’m breathing I almost always find that I’m holding my breath. We really don’t breathe as often as we should or as often as we think we do. And getting a few good deep breaths every minute can change your life.

ACT NOW!

VERY scientific, yeah?
This is from Healing Daily:  Blood is pumped from your heart through your arteries to the thin, porous capillaries. The blood carries nutrients and oxygen to the capillaries, where they are diffused into this fluid around the cells called lymph. The cells, having an intelligence or affinity for what they need, take nutrients and oxygen for their health and then excrete toxins, some of which go back into the capillaries. But dead cells, blood proteins, and other toxic material must be removed by the lymphatic system. And the lymphatic system is activated by deep breathing.

I'm not just being woo-woo on a random Friday…deeply breathing will change how your body functions, and while you might already think you know that, I’m betting most people have forgotten it in practice.

In terms of woo factor, there’s this from ehow.com -(we breathe so poorly that we now have a “Breathing For Dummies" site…)

Because deep breathing requires relaxed, full breaths, it is a well-known stress-relief technique and is important to maintaining mental health. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, deep breathing "provides extra oxygen to the blood and causes the body to release endorphins." The Eastside Center for Counseling and Psychotherapy in Kirkland, Wash., recommends using "relaxed diaphragmatic breathing," a type of focused deep breathing, to reduce anxiety.

There are millions of small changes a person can make in a day to help their physical and mental well being, and you hear them ALL THE TIME. You’ve probably gone deaf to them because they're always attached to a marketing scam so you’ll buy whatever revolutionary thing is going to make you healthy and peaceful.

I hate to always harp on him, but my man Buddha had this one about the deep breathing right. Everyone wants to live free from suffering, anxiety and pain. Sure you can drink forty gallons of water and exercise two hours a day, seven days a week rotating heart crushing cardio with bone crushing strength training, you can limit your diet to insanely small amounts of calories or varieties of food….but if you’re not breathing….I wonder what the hell good all that other stuff is doing you?

The practice of PRANAYAMA means control of the breath and it’s vital. Pay attention for just a few moments to your own breath. What are you doing?

Holding? Breathing shallowly, in your chest only? Are the pauses between breaths long? Are you breathing very fast? 

If you close your eyes and take one full, deep breath all the way into your diaphragm and then slowly open your eyes, what happens? For me, a big breath like that resets my brain. I find a measure of relaxation that’s almost instantaneous.  When I take two or three of these deep breaths, my entire outlook changes.

b~r~e~a~t~h~e...

I’m still worried about my bills and about my sons and all the things I was worried about four seconds ago when I was holding my breath, but now I’m breathing again and my body is relaxed. I FEEL better while worrying. And maybe I’m just a skoshe less worried, even if I don’t consciously register it.

So that’s your slap for Friday March 25, 2011.  BREATHE DAMMIT! 

Often times a person will suck in their breath rather suddenly when surprised with a slap across the face…see how great I am? 

I’m always thinking of you. Now get to it.  

B r e a t h e.






Wednesday, March 23, 2011

On Air!

AND ON MY NERVES...


Newsrooms across the country are giving me a look, which I don’t want, into their back offices. You may have noticed that broadcasts now feature an anchor walking around in a “back room” amongst their normally off camera co-workers, and possibly the interns.

I can do without this. Here’s why:  last night, I saw a woman wearing a tank top, ITCHING HER ARMPIT...on camera!

Really? Can’t someone give a heads up, or some other shout out so that everyone in range can put away the yogurt or maybe stop hanging over into the next cubicle having a big yuk-yuk whilst the pretty lady anchor tells me about a 5 year old who was abducted and dumped along the highway?

How bout the networks go “all in” and have the people in the background put on a little make-up, appear to be typing what I hope is fantastic news copy, or just look SMART?

What I see night after night is a group of people hanging out all laid back, getting to know each other, having fun chillin’ at the newsroom. Dude, it’s just a job like yours or mine. (Ha ha! I made a joke...I don't have a job!)

Here’s a NEWS FLASH news channel:  I’m really not jealous of the way cool job they’re “doing”. I’m pouring more wine and wondering why on earth I subject myself to this every evening.

It’s as if the networks think I’m mentally stuck as an 8 year old school child who’s positive the teacher doesn’t wear jeans, drink, cuss or leave the school. They’re trying to show me that my news anchors are people too, just like me…folksy huh? But guess what?

I ALREADY KNOW THAT BECAUSE I’M A FULLY FUNCTIONING ADULT!

I’ve even seen the anchors shopping at local markets and not fainted on the spot from the shock of it all.  

What I appreciate in a newsroom’s background is a clean, visually simple space. I don’t need 45 television screens running news reels of things I’m not watching or learning about. Where that tactic aims to have me believe my chosen channel has its finger on the pulse of the news world, it seems a little boastful and braggy; especially when what they cut to is not something I JUST saw behind the walking anchor but a story on a koala who was born with two toes but manages to climb his West Coast zoo habitat anyway.

What about all the pictures of Afghan women in burkas you were showing me back there? Where did that war scene go? Didn’t I see something about Haiti? What are you people doing with all this news...hiding it?!?

I suggest going back to a simpler time; a time when the anchors sat stuffily behind a desk, gave me the news of the day in a straight forward manner without the joking banter, and made me believe that they knew without a doubt that they were right. No one cares that you can work your iPad and make it project holographic charts onto a green screen...if I want that kind of news I can skip on over to tosh.0.

News anchors, especially network anchors, should be people who are above academic and political reproach, otherwise why on earth should I take anything they say at face value? If they’re the jokey, folksy neighbor leaning over the fence telling me some stories, then it’s just GOSSIP, not the final word on something serious.

Walter Cronkite never jokingly told anyone on air about his wife’s attempt to rake leaves or the way his co-anchor looked in shorts on the golf course last week end. That man was THE authority on the news of the day and not only could you trust him, you didn’t dare question him. He had screen-cred.

He sat in his suit, at a desk, with a teleprompter…some notes in front of him. Sure there were people in the room but they were quietly typing news copy and giving the job the solemnity it deserved.  After that, it was lecture time and you sat back and took your own notes from Professor Cronkite. The only entertainment he provided was a WORLD MAP…so you could bone up on geography.

What a master…"that's the way it is..." I BELIEVED HIM!

Check it out. No one's questioning this guy, or his two side kicks.

As it is now, half the time I’m lying in wait for the screw up as they seamlessly slide from a veteran whose home is being foreclosed upon as he recuperates at Walter Reed with massive brain trauma and jump right in to the smiley, funny story of the cat with a turtle for a best friend.

Isn’t there a larger portion of the news viewing world who wants a return to simpler, more straightforward news? I sincerely hope we aren’t all destined for the 24 hour crap wheel that is cable news.

So network news, please heed some constructive criticism. No one minds the people working at computers or talking on the phone in background. We don’t mind seeing you WORK on hard hitting, expose´ style pieces; however we really don’t need to see the Jell-O break or the chit chat. Keep it professional, and just tell me the news of the day. K?


*Photo credit: Google search the on air sign and cbsnews.com for Walter.

Monday, March 21, 2011

What's With Bananas?



Buddha? In a banana? Who knew?
















Everyone has ideas for what I should write here. My aunt wants to know why so many people like root beer. My husband wants to know why porn isn’t subtitled, and my son thinks the world wants to know more about legendary lightsaber battles.

I’m not saying these aren’t all very valid and interesting topics…far from it. But if I am going to write something appealing, it sort of has to come from me and my own guts. I can write on assignment without problems, don’t misunderstand. If you’re looking for someone to do some copywriting I GOT YOU COVERED.

For real. Email me at contactdirtywords@gmail.com

HOWEVER…..

When it comes to this here bloggin’ thang, I really have to feel it, you know? If my aunt wants me to do a serious expose on the merits and social implications of root beer, we can discuss my rates privately. Don’t worry I’ll give her a family discount. I’m not a monster!

I think the world is looking for Seinfeld in every moment, not that there’s anything wrong with that. What’s challenging is teasing the Seinfeld out in an interesting way that requires more than one line. Ideas sort of pop up, randomly, without warning and usually in wildly inappropriate settings.

For instance, a person might be in a bathtub full of bubbles with a wine glass in her hand. Who can write an idea down THEN? I’m not saying that’s where I get MY ideas (yes I am) it’s just where a person might get ideas (me). 


Artist's rendition of me getting an idea.














I’ve actually been thinking a lot about how the porn industry COULD do a subtitled “piece”, and maybe make it like a literal video. Have you seen these on You Tube? Let me link you to my favorite one: CLICK HERE!! 

SERIOUSLY. Click the link. Go watch, then come back.

Don’t be reading further if you haven’t watched that video. There’s going to be a quiz later on in the post….

I don’t see why porn can’t do something like that kind of video. I laughed so hard the first time I saw it, I almost peed my pants.  If porn could figure out how to emulate that video, I think its audience opens wide, pardon the pun…or not because that was pretty apt. 

As it turns out, I can write about anything given the correct motivation:  making people laugh, shocking them to action, making them cry with my UNBELIEVABLY poetic prose…or money.

Who knows what the mass appeal of cheese is? And in this society and economy I think it’s a fair question. But if I’m going to figure it out I want some kind of government grant or stipend from an academic institution. And I want a paid membership to Jenny Craig after I’m done because I can guarantee that research on cheese means immersing myself in the culture, as it were.

What I’m figuring out is that even if I hate the subject matter, and I DO NOT hate cheese by any stretch of the imagination, I can muster the interest to write about it provided I’ve been given the correct motivation.

I realize I’ve addressed everyone here except my son’s request for research on legendary lightsaber wars, but he can’t read yet so I’m skipping him. This is a quid pro quo setting…I don’t think that surprises anyone who’s been before, and if you’re new: WELCOME! Sign up for email delivery and contact me about researching the concrete that’s used to anchor picket fence posts. I’m happy to help where I can.

Happy Monday everyone! Go watch more literal videos so you can get “Total Eclipse of the Heart” out of your head, and accept my apologies.















*Art credit today:  http://www.churchofthebanana.com/ and http://www.clipartguide.com/_pages/0511-0811-0415-3744.html

Friday, March 18, 2011

Not Slapping Your Face Friday


I have been working exceedingly hard for these past few days to muster up some righteous indignation. I JUST CAN’T! There is nothing weighing so heavily on my mind that your face needs to be slapped by it.

I can’t fathom that you’re not heartsick already by what’s happening in Japan and that you’re not working on finding a small way, whatever it is, to contribute to the overwhelming human need that is happening there. When I hear of villages of 17,000 people have over 10,000 missing, I know deep in my heart that everyone who is connected to me is doing something already. I KNOW THAT.

Cross Japan off the list. Drew Carey has picked up the gauntlet thrown down by Bob Barker and any yay-hoo off the street knows you’re supposed to spay and neuter your pets…nothing to get all bunched up about there.

And I just don’t have the energy to “engage” you in political debate on a blog. That’s why John Stewart and Stephen Colbert are my homeboys….

Where does that leave you and me on this Friday? Here you are doing YOUR part, showing up for a beat down, and I’m standing here with freshly baked cinnamon rolls. Where you want a red slap mark on your face, I have only warm toasty delight. HOW WEIRD IS THAT?!
This is deliciousness, not facial violence!!

I read a book (hard to believe right?) about 5 years ago by Anne Lamott, called All New People. There is a passage in that book that pops into my head frequently as I wander through my days and nights, living my own tragedies and bearing witness to the world’s, as well as those of my friends. It is never far from my thoughts and maybe that’s because of the defensive pessimism I so fervently practice.  It goes like this:

“…why do we make it all seem like a crisis, over and over again? Why do we worry it all to death, like dogs with socks or chew-toys? Look at this way…In a hundred years? –All new people.”

I don’t think I’ve ever read a more beautiful and comforting vision of the mass extinction of my peer set. The perspective that passage foisted on me is immeasurable. Think about 100 years ago.

What possible daily bearing do the events of March 18, 1911 have on your day today…right now? What part of that day in 1911 is ruining your life in this exact moment? I don’t mean if we go do some deep research and find a piece of legislation that was so wrong it’s laughable, or the serious Jim Crow issues that America was facing, or how women and children were treated…I’m not talking deeply here.

I mean that TODAY, in this minute, what is directly making you feel pain that started on March 18, 1911? I’m betting it’s a rare soul who has an instant answer. And that is because:  it’s all temporary.

Hello Buddha! Bless it all, I love that guy...

Maybe what I’m doing today is slapping your face with compassion. Perhaps what we need right now instead of my high horse and finger wagging is a hug and a reminder that whatever you’re feeling right now, whatever pain is following you around…whatever feels scary, pressing, suffocating…it’s temporary.

Even the true crisis in your life, the crisis and disaster in the world, is temporary. We DON’T need to worry it all to death because if we calmly breathe and look at every day as it is (temporary) we can move through it with a clear mind.

Panic and hand wringing have never ever once solved a problem, unless the problem was phobia of wet hands…in which case wringing your hands like a freak is advisable and worthwhile. So, if that’s you…apologies. Wring away!

For the rest of, I think kindness is the order of the day. I don’t mean just kindness to each other because, as I said in the beginning, I’m already assuming you’ve got that covered. The kindness on order today is kindness to yourself. For today, can you be your best friend?

Can you be a nurturer today? And hold your own psychic hand? Tell yourself that it doesn’t have to be a crisis over and over…in a hundred years, it’s all new people and the bounced check, the spouse in a downward spiral, the business going under, the illness that’s taking over, the loss of the loved one…everyone around you will have faced it too and a new group of people will be facing it again.

Just be your own pal today, and maybe say a little prayer for the poor schlubbs in a hundred years…because they’re going to be feeling the EXACT same way.


*Go to www.erinhenkel.com if you like the painting at the top. She does custom work. If you like cinnamon rolls, stop looking at Google search results and eat one! It's an exceptionally kind thing to do for yourself today, unless you're a diabetic. If so, I'm sorry I did that to you. Maybe a stick of Big Red gum instead?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Clichés: The Whole Kit and Caboodle












I don’t want to cry over spilled milk here, but I can see the writing on the wall. For too long I’ve stood idly by as people have thrashed the use of cliché in writing, and at the end of the day, I say, “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all”.  Call me crazy but in my world…hope springs eternal (and the spring water is suprisingly clean).

That’s how I roll, like it or lump it.

Listen, it’s not rocket science folks; writing is like running…we can ALL do it; easy as pie. (Why is pie easy? A good crust is VERY VERY hard to get just right…) Some of us are better at thinking outside the box and when we write, we feel like we’re taking candy from a baby! (Why do babies get all this candy, and who’s giving it to them? And this cliché is somewhat problematic for me because babies LIKE candy…I don’t think it’d be very easy to get that stuff out of their grubby, slobbery hands. But I digress, let me get back to basics here….)

The bottom line is that we’re all just trying to make a dime and I’m no different! They say that love makes the world go round but I say it’s all about the Benjamins. Money talks and bullshit walks, that’s the saying right? Is it cliché?

WHO CARES?

All things being equal (they’re not equal…the founding fathers were drunk) I’d rather be doing this than getting a root canal. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! (It was the rest of it that sunk the Titanic and killed Leonardo DiCaprio....very sad.)

In a nutshell, clichés are true, peeps. And in most cases stereotypes are there for a reason. I say let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water and EMBRACE cliché in writing. When life gives you lemons, you just gotta make lemonade.  Cliché is here to stay.


Walk with me, talk with me…if you forget that tomorrow’s another day, then this is all just dust in the wind. Let me dumb it down:  I’m not just another pretty face, so if you’re picturing me sitting here in a conservative tweed jacket with leather elbows and a pipe, you’re right! (No you’re not, I’m in comfy pants and a Navy football sweatshirt.)

Just in the nick of time I’ve figured out that if I look smart as a whip people take me seriously. Being the real McCoy means I have to sell myself. (Not literally, that’s illegal.) I’m trying to drum up support for this blog but frankly the future is as plain as the nose on your face: I’m not really riding the wave of the future. I think this ship has sailed and I’m two steps behind everyone else.

I mean come on, it’s a foregone conclusion that I’ve got a long row to hoe here. Can a cliché (or 147 of them) save a blog? Or a woman? Stay tuned! (That means sign up to be a follower, get an email subscription or for the love of government cheese, tell your friends to read this fragging thing.)

I’ve always said that the more things change, the more the stay the same, but I might be pissing in the wind on that one. (Hopefully not a wind blowing back in my face.) Sometimes I feel so out of step with the rest of the world…it’s like I’m dancing to the beat of a different drummer and all that jazz. What’s a blogging girl to do?  It’s so frustrating to try and break into the old-boys network and I’m just fit to be tied. (I won’t elaborate, this is a PG-13 movie…you’re barking up the wrong tree if you want that song and dance.)

To make a long story short (too late!) I’m in this fight to bitter end, and looking for a few good men (sometimes clichés are dated) to jump on board, take a vested interest and join me in this labor of love. Snap to it pals! Because if we play our cards right we could go places! But I don’t want to talk your ear off, so let’s wrap this thing up with a bow (a bow wrapped around a Tiffany’s box is always nice).

Remember that people are people and we’re all in this together. There’s safety in numbers and I can’t do this alone (that’s what got Ted Kaczynski in trouble)….  And before I give you too much of a good thing and start waxing poetic, I’ll just remind you to jump in! The water’s fine! Keep reading, tell a friend, share a link, have a Coke (trademarked) and a smile!


So bottom’s up my friends. Happy St. Patrick’s Day and don’t let the Man get you down (unless you’re “into it”. You're definitely going to want to click that last link). See you next time!

KEEP IT REAL!

PS- I don’t have a clue what any of this means so take it with a grain of salt, but it was fun so if using cliché is wrong, I don’t wanna be right.

Photo credits: http://www.miamiartzine.com/ , http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/ccmphtml/colatime4.html , and a random Google search for the I heart cliche.

Monday, March 14, 2011

How to Read 72 Books at Once

 
This is a factual, artist's rendition of what I look like reading.













Hi, my name is Liz, and I'm not an alcoholic. But I read a lot.

A LOT.

And there are quite a few things most people do in their daily lives that I don’t, because I’m reading. You might not readily “get” what it is I’m not doing so that I can read…here is a smallish list of the things I neglect for my habit.

1-      I always go to bed with dishes in the sink. Our dishwasher broke many months ago and I decided I liked the space for storage over another dishwasher. But I’ve also decided I like reading more than having clean dishes in that space before bed.

2-      Exercise. Well, PHYSICAL exercise. I’m stretching and working…my MIND. All you people who run at 5am:  kudos. I’m still working out at 11pm. Beat THAT!

3-      Baking cookies, making desserts, or doing other things that keep us socially connected to our friends including going out on Friday and Saturday nights. If you need me, text me. My phone is always right next to me while I’m READING so I can add a book to the “to-read” list.

4-      You know how you do laundry? I don’t. We do a massive day o’ laundry on Sundays, because it’s a great excuse to read while the washer and dryer are going at the same time. I mean, you have to do SOMETHING...you can't just sit there being useless. I do my "exercising" while doing laundry.

5-      I have heard that people play with their kids in the evenings. I like to think that my sons are developing a healthy love for the written word by my example. Of course, my younger son doesn’t understand why I won’t read TO HIM, but let’s face it: kids these days are entitled little cretins. They’ll thank me someday when they realize the valuable lesson about self-sufficiency I taught them by saying no…so I can keep reading whatever I’ve got in my hands.

Those are just some things I neglect. Bills have gone unpaid…dinner has been uncooked, and groceries have mysteriously stayed on store shelves for days on end.

To my credit I’ve never forgotten a child anywhere, but I have been known to leave the house an hour earlier than school lets out so I can park in front of the school…and read in my front seat.

I don’t use a Kindle, Nook, or any other eReader. I read books, people….LIBRARY books!! Can you believe that? I think you know a little about library books, but I ignore all that I know of them, because I have a problem. Addiction can be a dirty enterprise.
 
This isn't my house...but I wish it was.
 
Reading doesn’t feel like a “check-out” to me, though I know every addict says that about their habit. I get mad when I think my husband is on the computer too much, but how is that any different than seeing me sitting in there with my nose in a  book? It’s no different; I just like to assign a more esoteric value to MY interest.

I admit I’m a waste of a wife and mom, friend and worker. But I don’t care. (That’s the addict’s creed!)

I LOVE READING BOOKS. And like all addicts, I do find that agitation is a real side effect of my not having at least 2 or 3 books on my “currently reading” shelf. There has to be variety and I need to be able to jump around. I like to read a few chapters of non-fiction and then have a nice fiction dessert.

TV watchers know what I’m talking about. Sometimes you want a sitcom for laughs, then you flip the channel for a true crime docu-drama, and maybe you finish off the night with a political satire. Picture me doing that with books.

Don’t you wish you had three books to read RIGHT NOW? It’s okay to leave work or stop going to whatever appointment you have. You don’t need to fix dinner, or pack your kid’s lunches for tomorrow! That report your boss wants can be done in the morning…you work better under pressure anyway, everyone knows that.

Go get a book! In fact, tell you what…I’ll loan you one. It’s free this time. If you like it, come back and talk to me…I got all kinds of stuff. I’m sure we can work out an arrangement.



*Photo of my dream home: Woman Reading Book Among Shelves on Balcony in American History Room in New York Public Library  by Alfred Eisenstaedt
*Artist rendition of me reading was found through a random Google search.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Slap Your Face Friday!

I'm Looking For Your Wallet.











It’s back to the notion of giving, folks! I know I know…Christmas is SO LONG AGO!! Who even cares about giving in March? And why do I keep asking you to give more more more?? Well, because I just do.

And anyway, Karma rewards those who GIVE...so if there's something you want, you better get to giving.

Today I’m going to talk about children in Honduras, which is a place NOT in America, and therefore really hard for most people to comprehend. We have poverty in America. We have children who need education too. Why help a Honduran child?

Let me tell you something I haven’t made up, for once.

Located between Guatemala and Nicaragua, Honduras is a country slightly larger than the state of Virginia, with just about the same number of citizen residents as Virginia. This is something that’s extraordinarily hard for Americans to wrap their brain around. In most of the world places the size of our states are sovereign nations unto themselves.

That means I have to imagine that my state of Ohio's government is my ONLY government, and the Governor is my President, who may or may not have been “elected”. My state court is the Supreme Court and I have my own currency not tenderable in Kentucky, the nation just a stone’s throw from my front door. I have to imagine that the language spoken in Ohio is most likely completely different than the language spoken in Kentucky or Indiana, and I cannot look to a bigger government body to help or support me. There is no "interstate highway system" because Michigan's President doesn't care about roads. So, if Ohio doesn’t have it or provide for it, I don’t have it.

This is almost unimaginable because I belong to a nation made up of 50 massive states, full of overwhelming possibility; a nation with a singular and unique “national consciousness” where we all buy into a single ideal. Imagine the CONTINENT of Europe being one country made up of the states of Italy, Germany, Switzerland, and France…. Frankly, this would scare the hell out of most Americans. We depend on the very HUGENESS we don’t even rationally or consciously acknowledge we have.

This alone should open our hearts to the rest of the world. We’re so much bigger than them and they can use our giant help.

There is an organization operating in Honduras called OYE, which according to their website, “is a youth-led organization that develops the leadership and capacity of at-risk Honduran youth. OYE’s integrated development approach combines academic scholarships, youth capacity building, and community engagement to inspire and equip young people with the awareness and skills they need to take control of their own lives. The final goal is the empowerment of socially conscious youth who will emerge as leaders and agents of positive change in the Honduran community.”



How great is that? OYE isn’t asking you to do anything. They’re asking for something so small but so powerful. OYE needs YOU to help give a child a scholarship to step-up, to give them a CHANCE. The work is left to the child, because what is more empowering for a child than helping him or herself?

“Once a year, OYE awards scholarships to enthusiastic, self-motivated, low-income students so that they may continue their education while supporting their families. The number of scholarships has grown more than 36% every year.”

Students use these scholarships to “to complete their high school and university studies through the generous support of donors that contribute to their scholarships. OYE recipients hope to not only create a better future for themselves and their families, but to also gain the tools to create a better future for their country.



This is Yarli- her “experience at OYE has had an undeniable affect on her life and professional trajectory. The monthly scholarship money helps her to concentrate on her studies and covers costs for things like books and transportation to and from school. If it were not for OYE, she would be struggling to support her studies financially.” –From the OYE blog


OYE is so worthy of the little support it needs to thrive and exemplifies the Proverb:  Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

Matt Trybus, Access Specialist at James Madison University’s Office of Disability services, OYE volunteer and board member, says "During my first trip to Progreso, we spent the week with a founder of Organization for Youth Empowerment. We became fast friends as we have much in common, particularly that we want to leave the world a better place than when we entered it. OYE aims to build a larger youth movement, where young people have a space to speak and listen to each other. Through financial and individual support, students experience academic success, as well as self-sufficiency through programs that focus on education, health, economic development, sports, art and culture. The goal is to create youth leaders who are agents of positive change in Honduras."From the JMU website.
  
Please visit two sites:  http://www.oyehonduras.org/Ingles/home.html  and  http://www.oyehonduras.blogspot.com/ to see more of what this group does, because they do so much more than I've been able to share here. They're a truly amazing organization. 

We must embrace the uniqueness of our collective consciousness as Americans, or Canadians who also live in a large and collectively "ideal-ed" country, and use it to help in the places where children just need a step to the door.  If we take them to the doorway and give them confidence, they can walk out on their own and do incredible things for themselves. They can change their country's future.



*Photo credit today goes to the OYE blog and website. GO TO THEM, LOVE THEM!! And help a kid dammit.
*Comic came from a Google image search. Don't waste your time THERE, go to OYE!


While you're at it, remember the Red Cross right now. Japan and the west coast of Canada and the Americas may need some help too....we got this covered, right?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

My How We've Grown....









I’m not watching anything about Charlie Sheen, and I opted out of the Britney Spears saga as well as Mel's mind-numbingly repetitious use of maniacal ramblings. I really can’t watch people circle the drain…but I love that the rest of society wants to! Celebrity rehab? Sounds like prime time to me, so go on...tune in!

Remember the one about Buddha? In that post we talked about my being happy knowing other people are in abiding misery. I’m not happy about Chuck’s misery, but what makes me a little giddy is that the mass populous of American society takes its entertainment in the form of watching the utter destruction of a psyche.

Where the Romans had coliseums, we have A BOUNTY of media outlets proclaiming on high the spiraling descent of stars. No, Sheen isn't being eaten by a lion (yet)…but he is imploding into a black hole of humanity. They should sell tickets to this stuff! What could possibly be better than watching a fellow human lose their mind in a public arena? Uh...NOTHING.

As a proud and noble society, we are rapt with fascination. And we've certainly evolved from the base and ignorant manner of watching IN PERSON...heavens no, we prefer to video tape it and put it on the internet. 

For most people, that's what the internet and YouTube have added to their lives! It's a moral high ground from which to look through a window to actual suffering and public displays of unraveling. I guess it’s a sad commentary on the viewer’s state of mind, as well as the celeb du jour (if you're going to actually start THINKING about it), but it’s not sad for me.

My entertainment is in watching the watchers. How many more days and nights of television and internet time is going to be spent on the madness of Charlie Sheen? He has over 2 million Twitter followers!

Over 2 million people want what feels like one on one contact with a man who can’t get out of his own way to save his or his children’s lives.  I’m not linking you to his Twitter feed, because I’m not one of the 2 million and if you want to be, well, you have to work for it.

Entertainment should never be free; for this one, the currency is your time in finding him.  Since that’ll take you 22 seconds, I think the price is fairly cheap. Although…so is the item of purchase. If you’re not happy with JUST Chuckles, then you can double your investment and click on MTV, VH1, Bravo or E! and watch a 24 hour cycle of the worst society has to offer: spray tanned, silicone infused, foul mouthed, half naked, drunken Americana.

YOU CAN THANK ME LATER!!

Hurry! Tune in to see women competing for mutilation and reconstruction before their weddings. Go watch rich ladies with nothing better to do slog it out in limos, wearing Manolos and chugging champagne (because once the Jersey Shore heads into a limo, it's HIGH CLASS). The fodder here for social anthropologists is simply astounding. 

But who cares about that? Just start watching, ASAP! After all, if you don’t push those ratings up and make those little media darlings dance, how will I get MY entertainment?

As a caveat, lest you think I'm the weird one in this liking to watch the watchers, I present for your consideration the internet phenom of the millions (nay ga-jillions) of videos of the people watching the two girls and the cup, and only the one video of the actual two girls.

Need I say more?

*I can't find the original credit for the comic at the top. It's embedded in other people's sites without attribution, and I'm a lemming. So it's here anonymously as well. If you're bored you can go look for it and leave the attribution in a comment. No one will thank you.