Thursday, June 28, 2007

My Inner Monologue Revisited...

As the Tough Guy watched the Heart slowly turn and walk away from her car, she felt her eyes fill up with tears. The drive home in the pouring rain would prove interesting, the windshield wipers doing little to thwart the downpour and proving even less useful against the steady flood streaming down her cheeks. The ghost of Shannon Hoon added to the melancholy mood with his crooning-

I don't feel the sun's comin' out today
its staying in, its gonna find another way.
As I sit here in this misery, I don't
think I'll ever see the sun from here....

I know how you feel Shannon, the Tough Guy thought as she paused at the stoplight, so lost in her own misery that she forgot to smile at the red light. I just can't win...can I?

Something was off and the Tough Guy knew it. She longed for a campfire, for the Manager and Newbie...hell she'd take the Hanson Brother and the Boy Scout too. This was nothing a microbrew and a good dance in the fire pit couldn't fix. But there was no warm fire waiting for her at the end of this tearful trek, just an empty apartment and half a lemon bundt cake.

And as we all play parts of tomorrow,
some ways will work and other ways we'll play.
But I know we all can't stay here forever,
so I want to write my words on the face of today.

The Tough Guy hit the breaks suddenly as it had hit her... she knew what was off.
Every time she began to live life, to experience things and feel any sort of feeling or mindfulness...this damn inner monologue kicked in and began scripting the situation into some sort of blog entry.

I laughed as I got out of my car and walked to my apartment in the pouring rain. Maybe what I needed was not another piercing, not another night proving to the campers that I was fire-proof or another grain silo to repel down. Maybe what I needed was to experience life for what it is. To take the good with the bad and live the cliche. Mindfulness.

Even those nights that I feel like I'm at the end of my rope, I can be thankful for my breath and reconnect with the joy that is life.
In the mean time, I'm going to have some cake. Mmm...cake.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I gotta roll, can't stand still...

Got a flamin' heart, can't get my fill...

Oops I forgot to take food pictures. (I'm sure you're crying right's okay!)
But I think I have a bit more honing to do when it comes to my vegan cooking skills. The manicotti was edible, the vegan french toast was great, the enchiladas were still a bit frozen inside and my recipe from Good Housekeeping for chocolate pancakes needs to be ripped up!

We definitely didn't go hungry, but I'm obviously not the next Rachel Ray.


I've been thinking a lot lately about my experiences with moving for various reasons. Growing up I lived in four different cities, my parents and brother moved to Edmond when I went to college initially and when I transfered to Drury, my parents were in the process of moving to Tulsa. Shortly after graduating and moving home from Springfield, I found myself packing my life into a U-Haul and headed to Lawrence.

As I reflect on these moves, I find myself a little anxious.

I haven't lived in one place for longer than 7 years.

Will I ever be able to settle down?

Impermanence is my life. My friends, my houses, my stuff all seems transitional. I think I realized from a young age that best friends necklaces aren't promises. Things change. People change. That's just the nature of the universe.

Sometimes I take that understanding as a blessing, but sometimes its a bit scary.

I want to have a home.
But I'm starting to feel like that won't happen until I establish a new life with another person.

I'm frustrated as well about the fact that I feel like I'm not doing a very good job of being there for a friend of mine who is moving. I understand and care and want to be supportive, but I'm worried that I've spent so long disassociating myself and the process of moving that I'm not any help.

I thought maybe writing would get this out of my head and sorted out. Instead I'm just as muddled as when I started. Ugh.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Photo Blog- What I Did On My Day Off

So with Mark coming visit Lawrence this weekend, I thought it a perfect time to try out my vegetarian/vegan cooking skills. I'm all for having fun and making dinner with other people, but it's been (and will continue to be) a long week for both of us, so I decided to make a couple of meals ahead of time and pop them in the freezer. You get to share the experience with me! YAY!

First dish attempted- VEGETARIAN ENCHILADAS!
This is my mom's recipe, a family favorite, that I modified to make it vegetarian.
(It would be completely vegan except that I didn't have the patience to try and find/make non-dairy broccoli and cheddar rice. Sorry...a few cows had to suffer.)

They're pretty simple. Rice, chilies, jalapeños, onions, garlic, enchilada sauce and soy cheese.


The semi-finished product. Before I stick it in the oven I'll add more enchilada sauce and cheese on top. Delicious!

Second dish attempted- VEGAN MANICOTTI!

This one is simple as well. Tofu, spinach, garlic, Italian seasonings, manicotti noodles, olive oil and my personal addition to the recipe- mushrooms and onions sauteed in red wine. tofu mush. (Trust me, it tastes SOO much better than it looks.)

The semi-finished product. Before I pop this one in the oven I'll cover it with garden vegetable pasta sauce and soy mozzarella "cheese".

Those two dishes are calmly waiting in my freezer for the weekend to arrive. I'll let you know how it goes and maybe post a picture or two of the finished product. (If the results are good, I'll post the recipes as well).

If nothing else, I've got plenty of wine to wash this all down with, and a good wine can make anything taste great!

One final thought- Don't get jalapeño juice up your nose. It burns.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Old thoughts for a new blog...

Thank you to those of you who responded to my last post. I appreciate your opinions.
A glass of Riesling and a few Pop-Tarts later and I fired off a reply to the email that was causing me the internal honesty debate. Perhaps I was too brutal, perhaps I was too nice. Either way I feel that my decision to be open about the situation will benefit everyone in the long run.

No more lying to boys. It's time to take my relationships more seriously.
I need another glass of wine.

Pardon me for a minute.

Meanwhile, back at the Pier 1 ranch...

Tonight, I became a Pier 1 pirate. My regional manager, store manager and assistant manager decided it would be a great idea for me to learn how to adjust the spotlights and hang graphic panels. So basically that involves me climbing to the "this is not a step" top of a 12' ladder with a screw-driver in my teeth to brave the red-hot light bulbs and try not to electrocute myself in the process.

Half way through the process I debated singing a few sea chanties just to pass the time.
Bad ass.

During one of my trips up the ladder I overheard my manager talking to the regional manager about how I might possibly be getting an assistant manager position at the end of the summer. Wow. Later, the regional manager complimented me on my willingness to work hard.

This is a throw back to a blog entry I wrote on my last blog (after Dr. Esposito complimented my beautiful karma), but tonight I was reminded just how nice it is to be complimented on my actions. It's easy to tell someone that they're attractive or that the outfit they are wearing looks cute. But beauty fades and clothes will be destroyed by time. Our actions, our karma...that's what lasts. That is what will endure.

I think I'm going to make an effort (again) to compliment others on their actions. Hopefully it will be as meaningful to them as it has been for me.

But if you'll excuse me, I have to go work on deflating my ego a bit.

Honesty is such a lonely word

Okay, I'll admit it... I need some advice.
You, my loyal readers, are who I am turning to. Be anonymous if you like, but I'd like your opinion.

Where do you think one should draw the line between honesty and sparing someone's feelings?

I strive to live an honest life (although my fish have been known to get bigger as the stories get retold), but I also strive not to harm others.

If being honest with someone meant you were going to hurt them badly, is it worth it?
Or is avoidance a feasible answer?
Is lying by omission worse than lying to someone's face?


Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Moment of Zen, brought to you by Pier 1

(Disclaimer- This blog is in no way affiliated with Pier 1 Imports. The views expressed within are solely my own...but if my blog makes you want to buy something, I'm more than willing to sell it to you!)

I had my feet anointed today.

No, no sinful women or long hair this time around. Rather I was moving these cute little reed diffusers from one shelf to another when I dropped one. Before I knew it I heard glass break, the scent of Spiced Pear filled the air, the floor was slippery and the caustic fragrant liquid was eating through the soles of my shoes. Ugggghhh.

For some reason lately my anxiety level has been a little elevated. I felt the all too familiar stress-tears well up in my eyes. But my manager, Heather, simply laughed, threw the broken diffuser away and grabbed some paper towels. What could have been a bad situation was quickly diffused (ha ha!) by a wonderful joy-filled co-worker. They're just things...insignificant in the long run.

It got me thinking about my materialism. I joke that everyday that I walk into the store, I spent my paycheck before I get it. I mentally spend it on dining room tables, sofas, dishes, candles and stem-ware...oh the stem-ware!

I believe it was Tyler Durden who once said -"The things you own end up owning you". So I took advantage of a slow day customer wise to reflect on why it is I find myself wanting all these things.

I realized it isn't the things themselves that I want. I know that having things won't make me happy, but it's the potential for situations I see myself in with the things that makes me happy. I want the experiences that go along with the possessions, to have the opportunities the things afford.

Allow me to clarify-

I see myself throwing dinner parties with close friends with fun plates and classy stem-ware. Vegan manicotti and a nice red wine perhaps? Maybe some homemade sushi and miso soup.
I want companionship and thought provoking conversation.

Not to mention all the Buddhas, which make me laugh at the absurdity of paying $150 for an image of someone who swore off his princely life and possessions (and it doesn't even look that authentic).
I want to surround myself with reminders of peace.

And as for the candles...well...I see them lit in intimate situations. When the second bottle of wine is open and the conversation is really good.
I'm craving and clinging to sensual pleasures...sue me. I never said I had this non-attachment thing down. ;-)

So maybe that's how I'll justify my work- I'm not selling things, I'm selling experiences.

Regardless, from now on I will take my time and use both hands when it comes to handling reed diffusers and life experiences. Things will break, life will go on and I will smell like Spiced Pear for the next few days.

Life is good.

PS: If you want to indulge my materialistic side, I'd absolutely love a picnic basket! There's one at Pier 1 called "Zen" (oh the irony) that I crave and cling to everyday. Come on, it's not a possession, it's an experience!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Kiss My Tiara

I'm guilty. I'm guilty of doing the "Well I'm not REALLY a feminist but..." thing.

I don't want to be radical or be perceived as man-hating. I want to sit comfortably in my liberal feminism and while secretly resenting society, wear high heels and lipstick.

But sometimes I can't sit comfortably. Facebook yesterday was advertising a special series of episodes that the soap opera "One Life to Live" is doing. It's called "Prom Night the Musical" and normally I wouldn't have given it a second look but I was bored.

Now, I'm pissed.
I'm sorry but when did "bitch" become an acceptable word to use on daytime television? And since when is it an acceptable word to describe a female in general? Man I sound old and conservative, but why do we women put up with this crap? By allowing that sort of language to become acceptable and commonplace, we're allowing discrimination and subjugation to become commonplace as well.

We haven't "reclaimed it". It's like we're trying to be in on the joke, laughing along with those who would portray us as "other"...*grumble grumble grumble*

Now I'm watching Oprah and middle-aged women are learning how to strip. Oh how glamorous! I'm all for women feeling sexy in their own bodies, for enjoying sex and having healthy sexual relationships with men, but why are we glorifying a profession that does nothing but objectify? What's next? How to have sex like a prostitute?

Ugh. I'm off my soap-box. There's not much I can do from here. I can't wait to get to camp in July, to have time with all those 8th grade girls and to let them know that they are perfect the way they are...that they don't need to give into societal pressure like this. That we females need to work together and support each other instead of calling each other "bitch" and "whore".

I'm going to go burn my bra.

(Click on the picture below to see a bigger made me stop and think for a minute. I'd love to hear your thoughts.)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Step Back and Watch it Flow

This past weekend I took a trip to the Lake to go visit Mark. It was wonderful- the beauty of the lake, the joy of discussion and companionship, a chance to just breathe.

Being surrounded by nature and beauty and getting my feet muddy made me desperately miss being at camp. I feel almost useless this summer. Yes, I have a job at Pier 1 now (for which I am very very grateful)...but just how much am I going to change the world by selling people a $150 ceramic Amitabha Buddha that they think looks "trendy"?

It might seem strange- me, some sort of Buddhist-Christian "mutt" longing to be at church camp, but I'm a Martha. You know-

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" (Luke 10)

I enjoy making preparations, making sure things run smoothly. As much as they drained me, I loved those 10 hour days on the challenge course watching the kids have fun and learn and interact. I loved setting their campfires and tending to them while the camps worshiped. Hell I loved doing dishes!

I want to serve. It fulfills me.

But this weekend I realized that maybe it's time to let Martha rest for awhile. Maybe it's time to discover my inner Mary.

41"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10)

It's time to sit and my friends and family, to those older and younger than me, to those who love and those who hate me.

It's time to listen to myself. To sit quietly and seek understanding.

To listen to God.

It's difficult to keep perspective when there is tragedy and sadness in the world.
But I was reminded this weekend that life really is good and I really am blessed.

Now all I need to do is learn to keep my mouth shut when others are talking...because I never know what amazing things they might have to say...

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Mini-Post: Watering Myself in the Shower

"May I know how to nourish the seeds of joy within myself every day" -Thich Nhat Hahn from "Teachings on Love"

How can you make others happy and bring them joy if you can't do it for yourself?

This morning I figured out a way to attach speakers to my laptop and run them into my bathroom. For the first time in years, I enjoyed singing in the shower.

I realized I had forgotten the enjoyment of singing. I forgot just how good it makes me feel, how much of a stress relief it is...a simple, easy, pure joy.

I know now that I need to and will spend time each day watering the seeds of joy within me, and within you.

Life is beautiful.

Monday, June 4, 2007

They Don't Look Like Presbyterians to Me!

Yesterday I took an early morning trip to Topeka to attend church with my grandma Me-Me and then on to Newton for my cousin Laura's wedding shower.

My grandparents are members of Trinity Presbyterian and have been for over 50 years. It's the church that my parents were married in and a church I've attended on many occasions. It was also where we were met with this scene on Sunday morning-
Yes, those are members of the Westboro "Baptist" Church located in Topeka, and yes, they were protesting the Presbyterian church. (Or possibly the Unitarians across the street.) I'm a little surprised Me-Me didn't pop the Buick off the curb and run them down. Instead she just shook her head and said "If they're so righteous, why aren't they in church!"

Unfortunately that's a pretty common sight in Topeka on Sunday mornings. It's frustrating to me because while I believe in free speech, where do we draw the line? Freedom of hate speech? I suppose however that some people might find me equally as offensive-

Those two pictures just re-emphasize my biggest problem with religion- we can twist and manipulate to back up whatever point of view we choose. But that's another issue for another day.

(Probably the 3 hottest cousins ever. I don't know how well this picture shows it, but people use to think Laura and I were twins.)

Laura's wedding shower was fun. I was fortunate to see people I hadn't seen for quite awhile and it's always enjoyable to see what great kitchen gadgets the bride receives. 2 cookie sheets and a set of mixing bowls later and I decided I'd be headed to Tulsa once she and Adam get settled in for some fresh baked cookies.

Cookies and protesters aside, I had one of those crazy "mind-blowing" moments during the worship service in Topeka. We were singing "Holy Holy Holy" (you know...)

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessèd Trinity!

When I read in the hymnal that it was written in 1826, I suddenly had this realization of how many times this song must have been sung in the 50 years my grandparents attended this church, and then how many people have joined in the singing of this song across the world in those 50 years and then all the people who have sung the song in the 181 years since the hymn had been written. I was overwhelmed by this experience I was sharing with millions and millions of people without their realization.

It's mind-blowing how often we share experiences with others and not even know it. We often feel alone and isolated in this big world, when in all actuality by simply being human we share so much with one another. I love and live for those connections, those moments, when I realize there is so much more beyond myself out there.

I hope that you, my reader, know how that feels. I hope that we can have that shared experience of shared experiences. I hope we can have that connection.

I think if everyone had even a momentary realization of our interconnectedness the world would be a vastly different place. People would become people once again. Not untouchables, not the enemy, not "us" and "them", but human beings with rights and dignity.

Maybe I'm just a cock-eyed optimist. But I'm okay with that.

PS: The Presbyterians are cheaters. We were using a Methodist hymnal.
PPS: Thank you to everyone who was at the wedding shower for not asking when I'm going to get married. It was a relief. I'm not weird for not getting married at 22.

Friday, June 1, 2007

The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection. - Michelangelo

Today was my date day. I took myself to KC for the afternoon to try and forget about the stress of not being able to find a job and to try and get myself centered and relaxed once again. What better place to unwind and enjoy beautiful artwork than the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum? I brought along a camera so you all can share some of my favorite parts of today.

The front of the museum. Ahh the shuttlecocks.

They're huge.

I ran into some old friends at the museum...

A Japanese seated wooden Buddha.

The elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesha.

One of the most important Hindu gods, Shiva.

Probably the coolest part of the afternoon at the museum for me (the huge religion nerd) was seeing all the different cultural interpretations of religious icons. There were an innumerable amount of Buddhas, Jesus and other religious figures (including a room with pieces from a Hindu temple) and I loved every single one of them.

Georgia O'Keeffe "Apple Blossoms". I absolutely love her work.

Severin Roesen's "Two Tiered Still Life with Fruit and Sunset Landscape"
The painting was so life-like I wanted to pluck a grape right off the canvas. (But I didn't because I was afraid of the pale guy with his eyes in his hands waking up and trying to eat me. Man I hope you catch that reference!)

A panel depicting Madonna and child from the Medieval room.
This whole room made me wish that Dr. Esposito had been there to narrate. It's much more interesting to see these things in person than on a slide show.

Knights in shining armor...aka the room that made me face my fear.
Ever since going to the haunted house "The Beast" a few years ago, museums have made me jumpy. I expect everything to start moving and chasing me. I had to take a minute to breathe before I walked into this room. ;-) Yeah yeah...I know.

(Photobucket removed this photo...apparently it doesn't matter how culturally significant the nipples are, they're still nipples)

Atalanta and Meleager
Meleager was a prince of Calydon, and in this sculpture he's embracing a virgin huntress named Atalanta. Her face intrigued me because I couldn't tell if it was simply the stone she was cut out of, or if she's meant to look disinterested.

"Waterlillies" by Claude Monet
My picture just doesn't do this justice. There is an aptly placed bench in front of this painting where I took a moment to just marvel...and laugh. A family was passing through the room and a teenage girl remarked to her mom "You call this crap art but yet you hate the music I listen to?!" Oh goodness.

"Portrait of Emily St. Clare as a Bacchante" by John Hoppner
I love the impish look on her face, the use of light and how her clothing just flows around her. This painting was at the end of a hallway and when she caught my eye, I couldn't help but smile.

Yet again my camera doesn't do this justice. It's a depiction of the rebel angels being kicked out of heaven. What amazed me about this is how small it is but yet how intricate the details of each figure are. In the lower right corner the mouth that is eating the angels represents hell.

A full sized cast of "The Thinker" by Rodin in the sculpture garden.
“What makes my thinker think is that he thinks not only with his brain, with his knitted brow, his distended and compressed lips, but with every muscle of his arms, back and legs, with his clenched fist and gripping toes.” - Rodin

All in all I'd say today was a pretty successful me-date. I enjoyed the quiet of being by myself in the gallery, going where I want to go and taking as long as I wanted. I took myself out for a chai latte on the Plaza afterward because hey...I deserve it. While I will always enjoy the company of others, it's nice to know I can do things by myself.

Snack Time on Mass. Street

Holly: You know those days when you get the mean reds?
Paul: The mean reds, you mean like the blues?
Holly: No. The blues are because you're getting fat and maybe it's been raining too long, you're just sad that's all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you're afraid and you don't know what you're afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?
Paul: Sure.
Holly: Well, when I get it the only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and go to Tiffany's. Calms me down right away. The quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there. If I could find a real-life place that'd make me feel like Tiffany's, then - then I'd buy some furniture and give the cat a name!

This whole not having a job thing is starting to get to me. Income aside, I want to have a reason to get up in the morning. I want to have an excuse to get out there and interact with people.

I want to have a purpose.

After discovering this morning that I didn't get the job I'd really been hoping for, I gave in and went around town putting in applications. Maybe I'm being a snob, but I don't really want to work at Pier 1 for $6/hr. It's hard having invested so much of myself in my education to be told I'm "not qualified" for a simple receptionist job. It's becoming even harder to not take it personally when I get rejected. The anxiety was starting to get a little overwhelming.

But today was an absolutely gorgeous day and I wasn't about to let it go to waste.

I looked cute (because that's how you should look when you're trying to beg for a job) in my graduation dress and little heels, so I figured I'd go enjoy the weather on Massachusetts street. As I strutted down the sidewalk, a couple of bums stopped me to tell me I looked nice. I smiled and headed on.

I stopped into a corporate coffee-shop (which will remain nameless to protect the innocent) and took in a minute of understanding. The comfy chair, the coffee, the classical music and the raspberry pound cake melting on my tongue made for an amazing sensual experience...a moment of peace. I looked deeply into the whole experience, thinking about all the people who walk through the doors and how our lives were unconsciously intersecting and I was a part of that moment...but yet they'll never remember me. I laughed out loud, which startled the guy enjoying the comfy chair and a paper next to me.

This fits. I understand. I'm grateful for your existence. It's reassuring just knowing that you are you. The steamed soy milk isn't THAT bad.

I left the coffee shop and continued my strut down Mass...smiling at babies (who don't know I hate them) and stopping to compliment a Schnoodle on her fluffy coat. It was a wonderful afternoon. Something tells me I'll be spending more afternoon snack-times on Mass. street.

People tell me I need "alone time"...I never really understood what this meant until today. It felt good to be by myself enjoying the afternoon. It's not selfish like I initially thought, but it reminded me that I am a part of something bigger than myself.

I can't quite wrap my head around it yet, but I do know that I should do it more often.
I'm taking myself on a date tomorrow. I need to forget about the anxiety this job search is causing. I need to remind myself that I am capable and confident and if Pier 1 rejects me it doesn't completely invalidate my life.

I'll let you know how it goes.