Thursday, June 29, 2006

Love


Is it unpatriotic for me to be obsessed with England over the 4th of July weekend? I admit, every year at this time I am glued to the television, wishing for a bowl of strawberries and cream as I watch the battles on centre court.
Shh…it’s the Championships at Wimbledon and it’s Agassi’s last year.
(See you at the end of the fortnight.)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

How Do They Know This Stuff?

The yard is a pool o’ mud. The streets are flooded. We can’t get anywhere and we can’t play in the yard so I turned on the tele to wait for the Red Sox game and stumbled across this show called “Cash Cab” which is a game show held in a NY taxi cab. The driver asks trivia questions and awards cash for various levels of questions. (I know, you all know this already and I’m just now finding this trendy show, right?) I have watched three couples participate in this episode and they have all been extremely successful (except that the first couple went for double or nothing and lost) but ME?! MOI!? College educated, private school AMY!? I suck. I cannot believe how stupid this show is making me feel. Even this old couple is totally rocking. Holy smokes I am so incredibly dumb. If ever I am in NY, I’d better just walk to my destination than to risk humiliating myself by accidentally entering into the “Cash Cab”. Thank goodness I finished paying my student loans a few years ago or I might demand a refund.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Way He Works

I have never taught elementary school in Iowa. Upon graduating from a private college in Illinois, I completed a frivolous touchy-feely human relations course that I despised in order to qualify for the reciprocal certification with the state of Iowa. I substitute taught for two years within both Illinois and Iowa (the advantages of living on the border!) yet I never had reason to call upon my certification or in effect to utilize the benefits of having endured this psychology-based class that lacked curriculum and purpose in my mind. The class, however, was not a requirement in my life so that I might receive temporary certification in a state I would soon leave. The class was God’s way of introducing me to Stacy.

I could write about Stacy for days and still not fully list the ways that she has touched my life. She led me to a church I could call home when I was first married. She so willingly shared her life story with me that I could confidently share my own fears and struggles without judgment or fear of reproach. She was a fount of practical advice and inspiration when I had my son just months after she had hers. She showed me a view of God that was more personal, more tangible, more known that I had ever believed. Stacy has always listened to my struggles and my prayers and has a fresh perspective that shows me the underlying blessings, the silver linings I am sometimes unable to see. I remember once talking about how it seemed like my husband and I would just get our hands on a bit of “extra” money and the car would need a repair, or the baby needed something, or we were traveling again…she immediately praised God, thanking Him for providing us with the cash we needed just ahead of when we needed it each and every time. I have never forgotten her perspective.

I visited Stacy once since my move to Pennsylvania but I believe our friendship is even stronger today than it was back then. I have always known that she is there for me, no matter what I could ever need. God has truly given me a tremendous gift in Stacy!

She recently sent me a book, “Some Wildflower in My Heart” by Jamie Langston Turner, which I just finished tonight. The entire time that I was reading this book, about a woman who was brought back to God through the love of a friend, I thought of Stacy. I would not have the relationship with God that I do today if not for the example Stacy continues to provide for me.

I know that His purpose for Stacy is far greater than simply to touch my heart, but I also know that He recognizes this as no small feat, either. There are days when I feel incredibly alone that a simple email or a book in the mail will arrive from Stacy and I know it is His doing, His hand in our friendship, that leads me home time and time again. Had I known, 13 years ago just exactly what sort of "human relations" would come from that class, I might not have attended so grudgingly! I am learning to trust in His plan!

I am so grateful for this gift. This book, the wooden chair, the emails, the laughter, the shared sorrows and struggles, for all that is our friendship, Stacy. I am so touched by you each and every day. I have so much to learn from your example, and so many blessings have come from your prayers for me. Thank you for this gift. I will always thank God for you.

The Forecast


Hello! You’ve reached the LizaJane residence. LM is currently on higher ground, staying dry for the summer while Amy scrounges around for more gopher wood. We’ll call you back after forty days and forty nights. Animal pair donations are still being accepted at the front door – mosquitoes are especially needed, they keep mysteriously being killed. Don’t forget to watch for the rainbow!

Monday, June 26, 2006

To Sleep Perchance to Dream

I turn off the tv and peer down the stairs at the door to make sure it’s locked. I turn off the light in the corner of the living room and walk in the dark to the hallway. I turn on the light long enough to check the food in the cats’ bowl and make sure Gabe’s water is clean. He’ll want a drink after the lights are out. I turn out the light, turn on the ceiling fan and walk to my bed, checking to make sure the alarm is turned on and the radio volume is set. I crawl under the sheet and quilt, moving the pillows up above my head, out from under me so I can lay flat on my back for awhile.

It’s inevitable that I will think of it. It’s not every night but it’s often enough to be a pattern. I view places and words, smiles and memories. I hold conversations of truths and of falsehoods. I think, without hope, of what might have been if only I had chosen differently. If only he had.

Gabe comes to lay his head on the edge of the bed. A rub on the head, and behind the ear, with a whispered “goodnight” is all he needs to head off to his own bed. He’ll walk around a couple of times on his blankets before settling in. Sometimes he’ll lay right next to the bed for awhile first. Scout will come almost immediately. She’ll come up with a quiet ‘mew’, looking for a little attention before finding her spot between my knees. Jonah comes to bed last. He’ll walk through the house and talk for awhile, then come to the bed by way of the nightstand and curl up by Scout. He won’t last the night, I move too much for his liking, but he’ll be there until I fall asleep.

I talk to God for awhile. I pray for LM mostly. I pray for the people that I love, the people that I know and the people that need love, and need to be known. I pray for patience and for gentleness. And that I will always know that all that I have is more than I ever need.

And before I can succumb to sleep, before I can allow the peace to envelop me, I tell him that I forgive him. I forgive him for not becoming the man that he might have been. And I try to forgive myself for believing that he would.

Ay, there's the rub.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

It's All About Perspective

Remember when I talked about getting rid of my books? Most of them I posted on Amazon.com Marketplace while some I gave away to a local art studio trying to raise money (where I took my pottery class). Amazon was working out famously until some buyer decided my package didn’t arrive promptly enough. Very few people left comments on my seller account so one negative in four positive took my seller rating way down and sales stopped. (It wasn’t really my fault that the post office took so long, but I got to hear about it.) I decided to contact my local ebay store and see if they would be interested in selling the remaining books. The owner asked me to sort them by genre and then they would break the lots down into smaller groups that each had a value of about $75. When I received notice of the listings, all of my books had basically remained in the same large groupings I had dropped them off in, leaving me to wonder how well they were going to sell. Are people on ebay really looking to buy a large amount of books at one time?!

When the first batch sold I was initially really upset and disappointed but I have recently come to realize what a delight this is. My intent to sell my books wasn’t focused on the monetary gain I might acquire, but on ridding me of a possessive nature. I had received just as much pleasure from the boxes of books I had donated as I had from the individual books I had sold so why should it bother me that this lot of books sold for so little?

When I thought it through, I sat for a moment and saw it through the buyer’s eyes. Some woman, a book lover no doubt, went browsing through ebay one day and stumbled upon a selection of books that were being sold together as a lot. She put in the required minimum bid and thought she’d just ride the auction through and might be able to get a bargain. What she got was a set of 94 books, most of them like-new for $14.99. I can only imagine how excited I would be to have boxes of books arrive at my door that I had purchased for so little! What a joy!

I hope, wherever this woman is, she is as happy with the books and with her purchase as I am about giving them to her.

(As a note: by the time the ebay store takes out their commission, I will make about $11 on this deal. Considering most people sell their books at garage sales for a quarter a book and even then I’m sure not all of them would have sold, I’m really not out a huge sum of money. Either way, it’s a really fun perspective to see it from the other angle!)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Dreams

If you could escape for an hour, where would you go? I would go to a bookstore and wander around picking up new fiction, new music and look around for cute men picking up good fiction and good music.

If you could escape for an evening, where would you go? I would go out to dinner with someone that I liked, where we would share food and flirtatious laughter over a glass of cheap wine. I’d go for a walk afterwards, in the cool of the evening, holding hands by the water, sharing a kiss under the stars.

If you could escape for a day, where would you go? I would go to my sister’s house. I’d enjoy cheesy potatoes and ham. We’d talk about every subject under the sun that doesn’t really matter. I’d play texas hold ‘em poker with G and Bear and anyone else who would join us. I’d read a bedtime story to LM and Little Bird and if I’m lucky I might get to rock with George in the rocker before he goes to bed.

If you could escape for a week, where would you go? I’d rent a cabin in Maine or some New England destination in October. I’d sit on the porch or on the dock watching the stillness of the water. I’d read a book and lay in a hammock. I’d listen to nature instead of the tv or telephone.

If you could escape for a month, where would you go? I’d go to Italy or Ireland or someplace I’ve never been where I’m the foreigner with the strange accent. I’d eat foods I can’t pronounce or identify. I’d dance and take photos and meet locals.

If you could escape for a year or more, relocate your life to a new location, where would you go? I’d go to Michigan, near my sis. I’d buy a cute two-story cape cod with a porch and a fenced yard. I’d take a job that used my creativity and fueled my passions. I’d see my niece and nephew every week. I’d spend time working in the yard with my son. I’d have a garden with six kinds of vegetables. I’d can applesauce with Michigan Ida Reds every fall and I’d eat peaches n’ cream sweet corn every summer and in the winter, more than two sets of eyes would lay upon our Christmas tree.


So what stops us? What makes this a dream and not reality? The mortgage, the kid is enrolled in school, LM’s dad lives nearby, my savings account currently boasts $100.76, I could list reasons why not all day. But I can summarize why in just three words: life is short.

When I started to look down the road to see where my life was headed it didn’t excite me. It didn’t match where my dreams were headed. I’ve decided it is time to bring them a little closer together, God willing. I had a phone interview this morning that was promising enough for me to hope for a personal interview next week. I’m meeting with a realtor later in the week to get some preliminary work done and LM’s dad and I are talking about the options on how to keep their relationship close despite the physical distance.

I hope someday to go to Italy or Ireland. I’m sure before too long I’ll browse through a bookstore with a stack of books in my arms. When someone wonderful comes along we’ll go to dinner and for a long, slow walk and we’ll share a kiss that makes me melt. Maybe next fall LM and I will visit New England, or someplace where the foliage takes our breath away. For right now I’m chasing my dreams to Michigan. Where do your dreams take you? Where would they take you if you let them?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Tell Me You Got Here by Googling "Verizon Wireless DSL" PLEASE!!

If you try to cancel your Verizon Wireless DSL service for various reasons including the fact that you’ve recently discovered they’ve been double billing you for the past six months, they will slap you with a $50 cancellation fee. They will not agree to waive the cancellation fee, but will finally, reluctantly agree to reimburse you for two of the six months of overpayment, stating that because you didn’t notice it for six months they can’t reimburse the full amount.

I think, that when I get my bill for the cancellation fee, that I might just not notice it for six months. What are they going to do, cut off my service?

“Customer Service” = “Hello. How can we dick you over today?!”

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Price of Beauty

My sister has often complained that her husband (Bear) doesn’t really look at her before reassuring her that she looks fine. After years of nudging, Jules got her hair highlighted last week. As she tries to get used to being far more blonde than brunette, ten year old Little Bird has told her in no uncertain terms that she needs to “undo” whatever she did and if that isn’t possible then please don’t walk with her into the birthday party. Wondering if the rest of the family felt the same way, Jules asked Bear and George what they thought. They both proclaimed they loved it. Five year old George quickly added, “And I looked at your whole body before I said that, Mom!”

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Rock My World

I have a routine.

I come in to work, find there’s nothing to do and read the news online. I check my email accounts (both) and then hit up ESPN.com or CNN.com and read anything and everything that looks like it might be remotely of interest. After that I read through my bloglist. I realize not everyone posts at 7am EST, so I try to give it some time.

Reading through the bloglist lately I’ve begun to feel uncomfortable. The occurrences that are leading to my distress are happening more frequently and noticeably enough that today I paid attention and gave a name to the issue.

I live in a cave.

I don’t really live in a cave; I live in a condo, but work with me here. People blog about meeting someone “famous” and I have no idea who they are talking about. People blog about reading a book that’s “all the rage” and I’ve never heard of it. There are blogs about visiting places I don’t recognize, of songs and music by people unfamiliar to me, even links to news releases that talk about something that I can’t make sense of. What is going on?

And that’s when it hits me. I live in a cave. I listen to the same sort of music that I have listened to for the past ten years. I read the same sort of books that I have read my entire life. I read news clips that are only about things familiar to me. I don’t read trendy magazines, watch the evening news or late night talk shows and so I am behind the times on who is famous and who isn’t. The truth is, if it’s not football related, sung by Tim McGraw or peculiar enough to be in the headlines of msn.com I don’t know about it.

When I try to think of something new, something different, something out of the norm that I have done recently the only thing I can come up with is that a couple months ago I tried a mango for the first time. A MANGO. I know, crazy, isn’t it?! Sigh. I read about people experimenting with new recipes and I wonder why some people find cooking to be so difficult. I suddenly realized I don’t cook, I heat things up! BIG difference!! Does it really count as a home cooked dinner if I grill chicken on the George Foreman, serve it with a little BBQ sauce that came out of a jar, heat up some frozen green beans and cook some Uncle Ben’s quick serve rice?! I have so much to learn.

So, I’m challenging myself to peek my head out of my cave and have a look around. Help me out! What recipe do you simply love that might shake me up a little? What book have you recently read that challenged you? What music is on your ipod that you just can’t get enough of (and that maybe I haven’t heard of)? What world issue are you passionate about? What publication do you subscribe to that’s not sold on racks at the grocery store? What piece of art struck you at soul’s depth during your last visit to the museum?

Get me out from under this rock!!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

With Age Comes....

Once upon a time...I wrote a post about my supersonic hearing but I can't find it now. Perhaps it didn't make the move from my previous blog.

Anywho...

It was not ready to face the demise of my only super power, but LM informed me that he could, indeed hear what I could not.

Can you hear this?

http://graphics.nytimes.com/packages/audio/nyregion/20060610_RINGTONE.mp3

(It's the new ring tone kids are downloading that their teachers can't hear.)

I'll post more later, I'm trying to learn how to become invisible...

Friday, June 09, 2006

Shane

He is, without a doubt, the most intelligent person I know. It’s not just the trivial knowledge that would make him a star on jeopardy, but the background history that he has mastery over that gives conviction to his beliefs. He never went to college, had little use for high school but his repertoire isn’t just a recitation of book facts he’s picked up along the way, but a sense of real world application from experience. We might not agree on politics, but he’ll see where I come from and how my life differs from his and can support my perception. I have often said he is the character from which Matt Damon created “Will Hunting”. The comparison runs deep.

His childhood isn’t spoken of. Named for a father that deserted him, there is tragedy in the story that will not be told. He works with his ex step-father, sometimes even house sits for him, watches his dog, despite him being the second bad choice his mother made, the second one to walk out on them. He rarely speaks of his mother. He sees her, from what I can tell, a couple times a month and respects her as much as he knows how. He has tucked under the table the issues of her bad choices in men, men who taught him how not to be a father, but shares little to nothing of his own life with her. She has never set foot in his home. No one has.

There is little to nothing that defines his life. He is a hard worker, rarely taking a vacation day or a holiday, working up in the ranks into management at the company where he’s worked since high school. He takes his job seriously but recognizes its limitations. It is there to provide a roof over his head and little else. His friends, likewise are ones carried over from school. People with whom he has never aged. Nights of camping out in the woods with the intent to drink and play with fire carry the depth of his long-time relationships.

Deep in his heart he is a romantic. A man with hopes of holding his own child. But these words will never fall from his mouth. No one has shown him how, no one has shown the way through the fear, no one has demonstrated commitment. He knows no way except the wrong way and for that he refuses to move.

He has loved only two in his 35 years. The first, a high school sweetheart, a girl from a similar mold ended up the wife of another. The second, an ill-suited, polar opposite girl whom he never should have had reason to meet, is me.

We will never be a pair. His fears will keep him alone, his coping mechanisms with which he keeps the world at bay will always keep me outside looking in. I know better than to think a man will change. I might care, and care deeply, but only he can save himself.

He used to come over after LM had long been asleep, with Chinese food and a bottle of wine and a movie I never would have picked out myself. It was enough, for both of us, to have someone to sit next to. He smiles rarely, but when he does it will light up your heart. He laughs even less and yet it is with complete abandon. He has told me he loves me only once, in a moment I am certain he would take back if he could, only for the vulnerability those words can leave, and yet he could never say them again and I would know. He doesn’t love easily and he doesn’t love carelessly. His heart is so fragile, so raw, so desperately in need of affection but far too scared to reach out for it. I cradle it in my hands, always proving that I can hold it gently enough, that I won’t drop it or let go, that it can stay there as long as he wants it to without consequence. Love, after all, shouldn’t come with expectation.

Despite not speaking in nearly a year, not a week goes by that I don’t wonder how he is. It’s not unusual for such a silence, he has to walk away and readjust his heart, unfamiliar with someone whom he can choose to leave instead of the other way around. He doesn’t want to be close to someone, doesn’t want to feel what he feels, so I give him the time to get comfortable, never knowing if he’ll come back to the friendship or quit it for good.

He said hello last night. Just hello. (Don’t push, don’t ask too much of him upon his return and he might stay for awhile.) He was checking in, seeing if I was through with him, seeing if I would reaffirm his lack of worth and send him to the curb. He teases and flirts and tests the water and waits for me to slam the door. But I never do. The line has long since been drawn; our relationship long-ago defined as something other than a girl to take home for the night, he has come to care more than that would allow. He knows what can and cannot be; he’s not looking for me to abandon my principles and firmly held beliefs (he wouldn’t respect me if I did), he just wants to know if I still care without actually asking the question or letting on that it matters. But it does. And I do. I always tell him in extraordinarily clear terms exactly how much I care about him. He needs to hear it more than he needs water, and I recognize that I’m the one he needs it from the most. I am the one he trusts and respects and cares for deeply in return. It is the reason he returns each time. He is the sort of man you would never dream of hugging, the sort who scoffs at those who do, and yet, within your unrelenting, honest, sincere embrace, he will break down and relish the comfort of your arms.

After an hour of careful chit chat he asked shyly if he might come over, asked with trepidation and hesitation. I answered with equal pause. No, I said. Not yet, not now. He does not ask with purpose, a hand to hold and a heart to love is all he wants. It is not often that he sits in a silent room and simply breathes with another soul. But he will come and then he will go and it will all be on his terms for he knows no others. I do not expect nor want much from this man, but it takes such strength to love him, such patience and persistence and about when I start to see through the walls into the light of his soul, he will walk away again. And this, he knows, too.

I have always prayed that through our friendship, he might learn that love can be trusted. That he might begin to believe he is worthy and someday he might let in the woman who will show him through the fear into a life he is compatible with and he will feel safe to live his dreams. Maybe I am too ambitious. Maybe it is not my place. Maybe God doesn’t need me in the middle to show His love.

Or maybe,

I am the one who needs to learn.





When I come to find the refuge
In the easy silence that you make for me,
It’s okay when there’s nothing more to say to me,
In the peaceful quiet you create for me,
And the way you keep the world at bay for me,
The way you keep the world at bay.

- Dixie Chicks

Thursday, June 08, 2006

A Couple of My Favs

A Kiss for Gabe



A Kiss for LM

Latest Book/Movie

Last night I finished Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. It was a good read, a true account of the Clutter Family murders in the 1950’s. I set the book down and immediately watched the movie “Capote” with Phillip Seymour Hoffman, an account of Capote’s life during the time he wrote In Cold Blood. For all the ways that books can change a reader, can change how we think, how we perceive people, events and life, this was a great movie about how writing this book changed the author. I highly recommend both, better paired than alone. I’m looking forward to another film coming out later in the year called “Infamous” about Capote, with Sandra Bullock as Harper Lee.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Dover

LM at Dover International Speedway




The Hard-to-Find, Difficult-to-Hear, Not-Worth-the-Money Nextel Fan View
(but it kept LM occupied!)


Kasey Kahne (one of the few that got cheers instead of boos!)



For the Win!




Burnouts!



Victory Lap for the #17 DeWalt Ford

Monday, June 05, 2006

What I learned at my first NASCAR race (at Dover International Speedway):

1. It is possible for the planning, buying, paying, mapping, packing, dressing, driving, shuttling, schlepping, and finally sitting to be managed by one adult without losing the keys, the kid or my sanity.
2. Tickets in Row 2 of Turn 4 sound awesome when you’re making the purchase. In reality, being that close to a track with high banking means you won’t actually see anything that happens directly in front of you.
3. Sunblock with spf 45 is mandatory for such an event in order to repel the ferocious UV rays of the sun. The sunblock will, however, also serve as a magnet for every little speck of rubber that flies off the track and will be super-absorbent for the sandy jet-dry they spread on the track to soak up an oil spill.
4. All of the above plus the fragrant odor of fuel and exhaust makes you so sexy you wonder how you left the speedway without being asked for your number once.
5. Sunblock is not used by the majority of race fans who are sunburnt beyond words by the halfway point in the race and too drunk to care by the end.
6. The fly over will give you goosebumps for days.
7. So will the singing of the Star Spangled Banner.
8. So will the roar of 43 race cars flying past you at 150+ miles per hour.
9. As will the feeling of a crowd of 100,000 spectators shouting “Amen!” after the invocation.
10. The person with the lowest tolerance for alcohol and the least amount of interest in the race will sit/stand directly in front of you for the duration.
11. This person will also be attractive enough to solicit lots of attention from perfect strangers who have to stop and join in her antics, thereby blocking your view of the track even further.
12. Despite packing sandwiches, yogurt, jello, pudding, string cheese, peppermint patties, pretzels and other assorted expander-friendly snacks, The Child will still wonder aloud half-way through the race, “What’s for dinner?”
13. Being a non-smoker and a non-beer drinker, you will end up being surrounded by chain smokers and beer drinkers who spill their beer on you not once, not twice but three times during the 400 laps.
14. The number one sponsor for NASCAR, the one so huge they named the Championship after them will NOT use their marketing genius to have trailer in yellow and black with the NEXTEL logo or word upon it making it easy to spot in the crowd of otherwise branded trailers selling merchandise (in order to pick up the much spoken about “Fan View” scanner), but will instead have a small trailer with a blue and white awning labeled “Track Scan”.
15. When you rent two headsets and a scanner the gentleman at the counter will hand you a pamphlet with instructions but will tell you not to bother reading it, just have your child explain it to you.
16. In the last ten laps of the race, when your favorite driver is making his move from third to second to first, large, drunk men will stand at the fence in front of you, completely oblivious to the race but blocking your view nonetheless.
17. Large, drunk men seem to think it is proper etiquette to show off their extended beer bellies to the crowd by not wearing their shirts for the entire race.
18. These same large, drunk men will also announce loudly “hot tits!” whenever a well-endowed woman should happen to walk by.
19. 99% of the women who are wearing bikini tops or mini-skirts at a NASCAR race, shouldn’t.
20. Despite all the above and perhaps because of it, when the competition struggles and your driver stays in contention for the duration of the race, finally taking over the lead for good in the final laps and securing a victory at Dover and first place in the Championship points race, it will all make for a day you and your son won’t soon forget. For all the right reasons.


Congratulations Matt Kenseth #17!!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Playing Around in Photoshop

I took some pictures the other day and have been playing around in Photoshop. Thanks to Wendy for her help with all my questions!