Monday, June 29, 2009

Read This...

I've been thinking about books lately. Books I'm reading. Books other people are reading. Books we all want to read. Books we tell other people we've read, even though we haven't. Books.

I love books. I don't mind reading things online. I love blogs and find some wonderful writing out there. I would adore a Kindle. (hint hint) But I love books. I love how they feel in my hand, paper under my fingertips, how the print unfurls across the page, taking my eye and my imagination with it. I have a hard time passing up any bookstore, even if I know I don't need to buy any more books. I have spent many happy hours with books.

I don't even remember when this love affair began, but I know my mother was behind it. One of the few things I could do as a child to get my mother's complete and undivided attention was to ask her to read to me. I can open A Child's Garden of Verse or Wind in the Willows and hear her voice reading to me. There was magic in those stolen moments. A magic I would later share with my daughter.

Then there was my town library. I got my library card at 5. You had to be able to write your name and then the card was yours. It was a little blue card, about the size of a Post-it note square, with my name typed on it and a little metal embossed plate that was my number. I remember it being placed in my hand and being told I could go pick out any books that I wanted to read. I knew the ones I wanted. The Piggle-Wiggles and Poohs. I scooped them all up and walked toward the check out desk, struggling to keep the stack from falling. And then the librarian told me I could only have 3 books. I could get more when I brought those 3 back. But I would have to choose.

It was agony to choose. To have to look at those shiny covers and decide which ones could wait. It would be a whole week until I could come back. But I made my choices and started to take the others back to place them on the shelf. The librarian stopped me and said that the grown-ups had to put the books back to be sure they went in the right places. Just one more thing I would have to wait to do...until I was a grown up.

Week after week, I went back and chose my 3 books. A lifetime later - it was probably only a couple of months but it felt like a lifetime to me - I was doing my usual shuffle of choices, trying to get down to 3 books. My mother was impatiently waiting, trying to hurry me along. She had other things to do that day than be in the library. I couldn't imagine what was more important than choosing books. I was down to 6 books, but it just seemed impossible to choose. Then a miracle happened. The librarian came over and said she would put a special note on my card saying I could take as many books as I wanted.

It was as if the world opened up to me on that day. As the years went by, I spent many hours in that library. We didn't have And the small town I lived in had only one stationer's with a few books, mostly best sellers. I started every summer vacation with a trip to the library. First I found the only copy of The World of Pooh. Then I went to the A authors and began to work my way through the library. I remember how thrilled I was to reach T. H. White and Herman Wouk. I was just as much a fixture in my school library. I frequently chose the library over the playground at lunch time. By the time I reached high school, I knew my Dewey decimals...I prowled the 800 section. I read plays by Coward, Williams, O'Neill, Hellman. I read autobiographies of David Niven and Groucho Marx. Poetry, essays, literary criticism.

One of my first jobs was in a bookstore. I worked noon to closing. On slow nights, I sat at the register and read the hardbacks I wasn't able to take home. Here's where I got to read The Joy of Sex and Anais Nin, books my mother would never have allowed me to take home.

I moved to Portland in 1980. One of my first trips was to Powell's City of Books. In there I found a rare book that my family has treasured because it mentions my grandmother as a child performer. Since I lived downtown and didn't know anyone in Portland yet, Powell's was where I spent many hours, wandering the dusty musty aisles in search of hidden treasures. Those of you who know Powell's now, it just isn't the same as it was in those days.

My next trip was to the Central Library. I entered the grand building with the sweeping marble staircase and was immediately in love. In those days, you could wander the stacks. Dimly lit rooms with narrow aisles. Row upon row of bookcases loaded to overflowing.

I am heartened to know that there are still people who read books. People who browse aisles of books stores and stacks of libraries. People who read to their children. People who read poetry and short stories and essays. People who know the romance of a book in the hand. People who feel the page under the fingertip and smell the dust of ages in the spine of used books.

I love books. And now, if you'll excuse me, I have some books to add to my list on Goodreads. And maybe a trip to Powell's after work.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Wow - what a week! I started out the week with a super duper ugly summer cold. Spent the day Sunday laying about sneezing, coughing, generally annoying the cat because he couldn't get comfortable on my lap at all. Fortunately, Turner Classic Movies was having a super duper day. I watched His Girl Friday with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. I love this movie. I love the pace, the wit, the back and forth between Grant and Russell. Time just zips by and the movie is over. That was followed by To Have and Have Not - the first paring of Bogart and Bacall. Slim is quite lovely and fresh here and there's something so sweet about the way Bogie whistles after that famous line..."You know how to whistle don't you Steve? You just put your lips together and blow." Damn....that's telling him. And as if that wasn't enough Bogart and Bacall, then I got to watch The Big Sleep. Now there are those who'll argue that Robert Mitchum was a better Philip Marlowe...and I might even be one of them. But this another one of those movies that just flies for me. It's just so much damn fun to watch. And isn't that why we watch movies anyway? Entertainment?

The week went forward from there. I'm teaching at least 2 days a week now. We're rolling out Office 2007 to our agency and I'm doing all the classes for staff. There are brown bag sessions where I hit the highlights, 3 hour classes where I go over the new things in each of the major applications, and 4 hour classes on each individual application. I like teaching - always wanted to be a teacher. I truly enjoy helping people discover that they are capable of much more than they think. And my attitude toward software and computers has always been that they are only as useful to you as you allow yourself to use them. A circular saw is of no use to me, because I don't know how to use it. But good computer with decent software? That's my idea of a great tool. So I love meeting people from around the agency, drivers, trainers, mechanics, planners, accountants, and showing them how this tool can make parts of thier job easier, more productive and fun.

But I'm a little worn out now from all that teaching. Talking for several hours when I have to blow my nose every 15 minutes or cough or sneeze has been a drain on me. And I wish I was looking forward to a weekend of sleep...unfortunately I have 4 teaching days next week and lots of material to prepare for that. No rest of the wicked!

I haven't had time to think about my recent depression. That's a good thing. I wanted to put that one behind me and I think I have. I know much of it stems from lack of someone to talk to - really talk to. I started one of those quizzes on Facebook yesterday and when the question was "Who was the last person you talked to?", I couldn't answer because I think that the last person I had talked to was the clerk at the grocery store - but even then I wasn't sure because I tend to use those self-checkout lines when I only have a few items. And that's not uncommon for me. I guess I could talk to the cat - but he gets tired of listening to me. Sigh....

Oh well. Time for yoga - and I need it today. I just hope I don't fall asleep when it's time for corpse pose.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What is The Right Thing?

I've got to get something off my chest. I have really had it with bad behavior. I mean REALLY!

This has been on my mind for some time. At first, I thought I was just being mildly cranky and expecting more than I had a right to. But now I see that it's really become a problem in our society.

Let me give you some examples. I live in a small apartment complex. There are 16 units, 8 one bedroom and 8 two bedroom. Everyone shares a bedroom wall with someone and a ceiling or a floor with someone. Everyone shares 2 washers and 2 dryers that we are asked to use between 8 AM and 8 PM. 4 of us share a front stairwell that has an exterior door that keeps out the bugs, the weather, the stray animals and the Jehovah's witness. (The exterior door doesn't lock, but it looks intimidating enough that people just don't bother us.) About a year ago, my downstairs neighbor moved out and I got a new neighbor. When I met her, I thought she'd be just fine. She's a resident at our local teaching hospital, she lived alone with occasional visits from her small son when she wasn't working a long shift. But since she managed to move in over a matter of days with very little noise, I thought she'd be great. About the same time, I got new neighbors across the hall. 2 very pretty college age girls with lots of boys helping them move in.

Would you care to guess who has been the problem neighbor? Not the girls. They are sweet, quiet, they have had a couple of parties with friends, but nothing that went on too late or too loud. They remind me of my daughter and I like them very much.

Madame Dr. is a royal pain. She slams her door whenever she goes in or out - at all hours of the day. She plays her music so loud that I can't hear my TV. She had a party the other night to watch the NBA finals - they were so obnoxious I almost went downstairs, but I was enjoying THE BIG SLEEP on Turner Classic Movies and I was in my pajamas because I wasn't feeling well. It wasn't worth a shower and getting dressed to go sneeze on her. She never takes in her mail, so it sits in the mail box getting rained on and sun bleached and blown around the courtyard. She puts her FULL trash bags in the hallway when she has a gentleman caller and then leaves them there for days. She uses the laundry whenever it's convenient for her. She has a boyfriend now and I think he's living there too...and they fight at 2:00 AM complete with more slamming doors. Yet in spite of her love of slamming doors, she can't seem to remember to close the exterior door that keeps out the bugs and the squirrels and the Jehovah's witnesses. She doesn't seem to be aware of the rest of us at all. And as she'll never need any of us for any reason that she can think of, she seems to think that her bad behavior is perfectly acceptable and within her rights.

Maybe she doesn't seem so bad to you, but how about Kate Gosselin? You know... Jon and Kate plus 8? Don't get me wrong...I think raising 8 kids is a tough job. My parents did it. (well....7 and we were different ages) But do we really think these two are GOOD parents? And why do they have a TV show? And why do people watch it?? Just so they can be pleased their life isn't such a mess? I tried to watch one episode and was so appalled at how these two "adults" talk to each other and put those sweet children in the middle of their power games - I had to turn it off.

And it doesn't even stop there...what about Bridezillas and Real Housewives and on and on with shows I don't even know about. I admit I've watched them on occasion. Even The Girls Next Door and those wacky Kardashian's. But usually the way in which these people behave toward each other, people they supposedly love and cherish, makes me so angry I have to turn away.

What about people who talk on their cell phone having intimate personal conversations on the bus or the subway or in the grocery store? What about people who can't be bothered to silence their phone (or their selves) in the movie theatre, the restaurant, the courtroom, in church? Parents so afraid of their children that they allow them to act out in a myriad of bad ways. And I could go on....

When did this kind of thing become okay? When did we stop being ashamed at this sort of behavior? Who is going to have the nerve to stand up and say - Enough. This sort of behavior is NOT ACCEPTABLE.

I've been reading a fascinating book - A FAILURE OF NERVE by Edwin Friedman. This book is changing my life. I really mean that. I'm finding that more and more of the so called problems we are faced with in today's world - job loss, bank failures, credit crisis, war, environment, broken families, broken education system, broken health care system - is due to a failure of LEADERSHIP and a failure of NERVE. We're caught in an unending loop of trying harder and spinning faster.

What we need is REAL leadership - at all levels - in our homes, our churches, synagogues, mosques, social organizations, schools, hospitals, government, work places, banks, everywhere - to stand up to the voice of fear, the voice of sabotage, the voice of caution and gridlock and resistance and say - This Behavior Is NOT ACCEPTABLE. And stick to it. We have a chance to shift this world into a new Renaissance. A chance for change as great as shifting the center of the universe from the Earth to the Sun.

It will not be easy and we may never see the fruits of our labors. But I'm starting today. I'm letting my neighbor know that her behavior is no longer acceptable to me. And she needs to start seeing the rest of us who live and work and have our being in this world.

Friday, June 12, 2009


It's been a very strange week. My days have been full and sometimes frantic. My evenings have been reserved for me time, decompression, glass of wine....etc.
Tried Zyrtec for my allergies. Took a whole tab on Saturday night and slept most of Sunday. Not good. So I tried a half tab for the past couple of nights. I'm breathing better - yay!! But the throat is still sore and the dry mouth is not good when I am trying to teach classes and have to consume massive amounts of water to keep going. oh well.
Depression loomed for a couple of days. But I aired my grievances and wrestled with my angels and seem to be back on an upswing. If only the damn weather would cooperate.
It's June and I'm wearing long sleeves and sweaters and real shoes. My toes want fresh air - I want bare legs under my skirt and warm sun on my skin. I need that vitamin D !
This weekend is time for cooking and cleaning - laundry awaits...and I need to hit the mall and see if I can't find some bras that fit and feel good. I tell you, it's really hell having small shoulders and large breasts. I need support and I can't keep straps on my shoulders that are 20 inches apart. I love racerbacks - but they never seem to come in a C cup! And I refuse to go the uni-boob sports bra route. That feels like I'm trying to hide my chest because I'm embarrassed by it...which I am not.
How's that for random?
Seems like everyone is busy and finding time to just be with each other is getting pretty hard. I haven't seen my sister since Thanksgiving. That's just too long. She only lives 45 minutes away. There's a group at work who have been trying to have a birthday lunch for about a week now. We finally set up a date on June 30! (that's right...2 more weeks away)
Mary and I haven't gone wine tasting for a couple of months - but her step kids are here for the summer now. It may be a few more months before we can do it.
I really should get to work now. Pressure doesn't go away by simply ignoring it.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

It just sucks...

You want to know what the worst part about moderate to severe depression? (using the clinical diagnosis here) It's knowing when those waves hit you that there is something or someone out there that you let get to you. In my case, it's usually a combination of things. I've got multiple projects coming to deadline at work - stress. I'm not sleeping very well because of allergies. I'm not eating like I should be. I'm getting my exercise - walking, yoga - which is a positive because that's usually the first thing to go. And so I'm vulnerable to those triggers and I know it.

I avoid mr. ring on his finger 'cause that will just send me over the edge. But I can't keep him from coming onto my floor and sitting down at the cubicle next to me and talking to someone else. So I put on the headphones and hit play on Itunes and what do I songs. Crap.

And even he wouldn't get to me if the really big trigger hadn't been flipped just a few days ago. My mother. My frail 91-year old mother to whom I haven't even spoken for months. Not that I haven't tried but she wasn't answering the phone. Now to find out that she's been maltreated by the staff in her home. And my brother has to find a place to move her to that will be better for her. And I can't even take a day to go visit her and let her know that I love her. Because I do love her. She's just too much for me when my armor is already too, too thin.

So here I sit feeling like the worst daughter on the planet. And while we're at it, I'm the worst mother too because I can't swoop in and make things better for my heart, my Bridgete, with her sick car and her sick cat. And let's not forget what a miserable wife I was. Terrible friend. Won't go to my best friend's son's graduation party because no one there will talk to me. Selfish bitch. What else is wrong with me??? Let's just make this a complete list.....

Too damn smart for my own good. Can't dumb down enough to find and keep a man.
Too fat....nobody looking in my direction anyway.
Too artsy...romantic fool getting all wrapped up in movies and books and tv shows like they're real.
Too passionate.
Too much.
Too selfish.

Deep's find the truth here.

Yes, I'm smart and passionate and artistic and I love all those things about me. I won't change them and I couldn't be with anyone who asked me to change them.
I have been and continue to be a fabulous mother. I have helped bring my daughter into her true self. She doesn't live for me or her father or her grandparents, siblings, cousins, friends. She is fully responsible for her life and she is so very capable of handling her sick cat and her sick car. She doesn't need me to rescue her. She doesn't need anyone to. And that may intimidate many who don't take the time to get to know the amazing woman she is. As she told me when she was about 8 years old - "That's their loss."

Bad wife? I would venture to say that if you asked my ex-husband he would say I did the best I could for as long as I could. And in the end, I was ready to let go and do the right thing by freeing both of us from our mutual expectations. I would certainly say that about him.

Bad friend? No way. I am there for my true friends, 100%. And I have told Janet that if she really needs me there on Friday, I'll be there. Because she needs me there - and that's all I need to know.

Bad daughter? This one is tougher. I can't be the daughter my mother wanted. But I am not horrible and abusive and uncaring. I just have to set boundaries with her. She may be a frail 91 year little old lady - but she can still break me into bits with a word. And that's not not something I can allow her to do. I still have the ability to hold her in love and compassion and honor. But I don't have to allow her to abuse me.

Do I wish it was otherwise? Do I wish she could love me and honor me as so many others do? Of course I do. But it is what it is. And sometimes.

It just sucks.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Broken Thought Process Thursday....or something like that

Jenn has this blog - Random Lunacy and she does this thing on Thursday's called Broken Thought Process. I thought I'd give it a try. I've been challenging myself to blog at least once a week and this seemed like a good way to start.
Here's a broken thought process for you. It just started to rain. All week long, the air has been heavy and humid. Well, humid for Oregon. And now the sky has this strange diffused light...wait a second.
Wow! This broken thought thing really works. I no sooner started this post and began to comment on the weather than everyone at the office starts running over to the windows to look. There's a tornado warning for tonight. What?? I live in Oregon. Calm, wet, peaceful Oregon. Seasons yes...but nothing really drastic. This winter we have a blizzard that nearly keeps me from being with my daughter on Christmas. And now this freak storm. I walked to my yoga class and the wind was incredible. Lots of dust and debris flying around. The trees are whipping around like mad. But it's warm - very warm.
Yoga was just what I needed. I've been carrying a lot of stress these days, especially in my back just under my shoulder blades. I've been getting very ticked off lately - which I don't do well with. I wasn't raised with the tools to express anger. I never really feel comfortable with it. I try to explain it way, take the burden of guilt on myself, worry about what someone else feels and how I can make it right. I stretched and took lots of deep breaths for an hour. Then I walked home.
It rained while I was in yoga. The air was soft and had that wonderful smell. I was greeted by a very frantic cat when I got home. He's still on my lap seeking reassurance. Looks like some limbs got blown off some trees, but I think the worst of it has passed.
Back to this whole anger thing...I know that anger serves a very good purpose. I understand that when I am angry, I feel someone has threatened me in some way. My physical, psychological, spiritual self feels betrayed, abandoned, abused, violated in some way. The problem comes about because I don't always know what that threat is. I've internalized and squelched my "bad" feelings for so long, that it can take me awhile to figure out exactly what I'm angry about.
Lately, I don't know what that is. I can point to any number of things. But until I am able to zero in on the source of this feeling, I can't know what to do about it.
So my dears, keep me in your thoughts and prayers. I need 'em.