Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I Just Love This

Please go.  
Read it.  Share it.  Believe it.

Because there is something.
About Beauty.

And this whole wide world 
And each of us 
Are crammed full of it.
Stuffed to the brim.  

We need to remember.  
We need to be reminded.

My iPhone: A Resurrection Story

Confession:  Every once in a while (I swear, not that often, just when I desperately need a little brain break, and some peace, and quiet), just every once in a while, I will slip into the bathroom at work, with my iPhone secreted away in my back pocket, pull up my crossword puzzle app, and work a few (really, just a tiny few) clues before going back to my desk.  And, seriously, I know it's technically a time-cheat, but it's a tiny time-cheat, right?  One to two minutes tops scattered here and there.  It's not a big deal.  Nothing like all those people out there who blog when they should be working.

Well, it seems some sort of cosmic force, some karma or comeuppance, decided that it is a big deal, because yesterday, I sneaked into the bathroom at work with my iPhone secreted away in my back pocket, and it somehow managed to swan-dive out of said pocket and into the toilet.  Deep into the toilet.  Way, way down into that little tunnel that leads to the plumbing.  Lodged into that tunnel that leads to the plumbing.  I was up to my shoulder in (thankfully, clean) toilet water trying to pry it out.

And my iPhone?  Was toast.  By the time I had it fished out the screen was flickering and water was pouring from every crack and crevice.  By the time I had it dried off the screen was black.  The rest of my day was an iPhone-bereft fog.  Called husband.  Freaked out.  Waited for him to bring crappy old phone from home.  Dried-off SIM card from fried iPhone managed to work in crappy old phone from home.  Beautiful, beloved iPhone wouldn't even try to turn on.  Pouted.  Hoped.  Despaired.  Pouted some more.

And yet.  And yet.  I just couldn't give up on it.  I left it alone.  I let it rest.  I let it dry.  And then, I plugged it in this morning, turned it on and, miraculously, my precious iPhone had been resurrected!  I returned the SIM card to its proper home and was able to make and receive calls.  Apps worked.  Screen worked.  Internet connection worked.  It turns out, iPhone's are surprisingly resilient little marvels.  Lesson learned?  No more time-cheats at work, not even really short completely innocent ones.  They're just not worth losing an iPhone over.

In other news:  Is anyone else surprised to learn that the correct past-tense for sneak is sneaked?  Really spell-check?  Not snuck?  Are you sure?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Food, Etc...

I've been thinking a lot lately about the way I choose to eat.  I know I'm not the only one.  It seems to be on everyone's mind.  We're all watching movies like Food, Inc. and reading books like The Omnivore's Dilemma or Eating Animals.  We're hearing things on Oprah, we're seeing new labels in the supermarket.  There is definitely a movement going on right now, a heightened awareness, a call to action.

There are very good, compelling arguments on all sides of the fence.  And there is a complex web of components involved in all of these decisions.  So I'm doing what I do.  I'm reading, I'm researching.  I'm trying to hear from all sides: from the environmentalists, from the capitalists, from the biotechnologists, from the family farmers, from the factory farmers, from the seed companies, from the ranchers, from the meat-packers, from the op-ed writers, from the social-justicers, from the states-rightsers, from the free-traders, from the fair-traders, from the activists, from the clean-fooders, the vegans, the vegetarians, the omnivores, the carnivores.  Wow, there is just so much to take in.

I've always looked at my food choices in an individual way.  I think about the way the choice affects me.  How will eating this make me feel?  How will it help or hurt my body?  Will it make me skinny, will it make me fat?  Will it give me energy or slow me down?  Will it taste good?  Will it be convenient?  I'm suddenly realizing that when I choose what to eat, a lot more is affected than just me.  There is a very intricate infrastructure at play here, and every choice I make, every dollar I spend on food, is a vote in the way that infrastructure is shaped.  And the shape of that infrastructure, that's another thing that affects me and (someday) my children.  I want to know what I'm voting for.  I want to choose well.

I'm still researching and reading and trying to figure all this out, to wrap my head around it.  I'm not there yet.  Here are the things I'm trying to keep in mind as I explore the way I think about food.

  1. What do I believe?  About bio-engineering, about big business, about government intervention in the market place, about the farming way of life, etc...  Our choices are largely determined by our beliefs.  I need to get this straight.
  2. Where can I get the facts?  It seems like there's a lot of propaganda out there, and every person peddling it has some agenda in mind that is largely driven by their beliefs.  There has to be some way to dig an actionable truth out from underneath all that manure.
  3. What is the healthiest way to live?  And healthy in a holistic sense, as in good for me as an individual and for the world at large.  What choices will both feed by body well and help create the world I want my kids to grow up in?
  4. What is achievable for me?  As much as the idea of eschewing all animal products and living in some organic farming collective sounds appealing (especially after ready aforesaid books and watching aforesaid films), that's just not a very realistic option for me.  I have only so much time, knowledge, energy, money.  So what steps can I practically take to bring my life more in line with where I want it to be?  
So what are you thinking, learning, doing about this?  Where do you get your information?  I'd appreciate any good book, article, or blog recommendations.  What about practical applications?  What are you trying?  What works?  What doesn't?  How much does all of this really matter?

Monday, March 29, 2010

I Am Grateful...

Outside, the sun is shining.
The sky is a soft, comforting blue.
I am at work on a task that is challenging.

I have strong legs and arms. 
And a heart that won't stop beating.
Or caring.
Or believing.

I have good friends.
Who allow me to be.
A family that loves me.
Despite my shortcomings.

And a husband.
A champion.
A hero.
A white knight.
Who fights for me tenaciously.
Who loves me tenderly.
Who sees me clearly.
And never gives up.

And life.
This life.
My life.
Is infinitely precious.
And beautiful.

Friday, March 26, 2010


I just can't seem to find my heart today.
Feels like it's been replaced with a big, cold, heavy stone.  
I'm sure I'll be fine.  
Today I'm just feeling melancholic.
This life is short.  But it is also wide.
And this too shall pass.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I am the *Bad* Sunday School Teacher

Last year, I made my first foray into teaching Sunday School at my pleasantly small, very connected, completely wonderful church.  I taught four and five year olds.  They were amazing!  So fun, so sweet, so energetic, so bright.  Dayspring seems to somehow attract a slightly more intellectual-minded congregation that you'd find at your typical Texas church on Sunday mornings.  And those slightly more intellectual-minded parents have super-smart, super-curious, super-thinking kids!  They never fail to blow me away, even at such a wee age.

But, it was my first foray into teaching Sunday School.  I'd never before spent a chunk of time as the sole supervisor of a group of very active preschoolers.  And I'm one of those that tends to learn by experience.  And by making mistakes.  And I had so much to learn!  So I felt, a lot of the time, like I was the *Bad* Sunday School teacher.

There was the day that our lesson centered around the Sermon on the Mount.  It was a beautiful, sunshiny Spring day and we have this lovely, grassy hill right outside our church, which I thought would be perfect for letting the kids re-enact the Sermon on the Mount outside.  And then we could have a picnic and enjoy the glorious day.  Well, it turns out that hill was also perfect for rolling down!  It took about three seconds for the kids to figure this out and commence rolling down the hill over and over again.

I eventually managed to regain control, but it took a bit, and by the time I had the children sitting meekly on the picnic blanket it was too late for the pastor's daughter, whose darling pink sweater dress and white leggings were covered in grass stains and sticker burrs.  My embarrassment only deepened when I realized she was supposed to sing with the children's choir in front of the entire congregation during "big church" that day.  *Bad* Sunday School teacher!

Another day I led them in rousing game of follow-the-leader, only later to realize that our boisterous participation had been disrupting all the other Sunday School classes.  Oh, and the time I preheated the church's oven for the cinnamon rolls I was making, but forgot the make sure it was empty first.  Apparently, the oven was being used to store the kitchen's entire inventory of Tupperware containers.  Smoke and the acrid smell of burning plastic infiltrating the whole church.  And on it went.  *Bad* Sunday School teacher!

And then, this year, I apparently graduated to teaching 4th through 6th graders.  Not sure what the thinking was behind that, though I suspect someone may have been hoping that an older group of kids would be mature enough to keep my antics under control.  And I dragged Keith into it with me, despite the fact that he's notably more comfortable dealing with college-age students than middle-school age, so that we could be a husband and wife *Bad* Sunday School teaching team.  And we have continued along the vein in which I had already begun, which is to say, badly.

We have a beautiful, new, pristine children's building and stark, white, freshly-painted walls for our classroom.  And our kids constantly ask if they can paint or color or marker directly onto those pristine white walls.  And thought it hasn't actually happened yet (won't actually happen, I promise), I must confess that a big part of me wants to let them.  I don't know the names of all the kids on my Sunday School roster (though I know all the ones that actually attend), and I hardly know the names of any of the parents.  I want our kids to ask hard questions, and I don't have a problem telling them I don't know the answer.  There's a little girl, eleven, who already knows she wants to be a missionary when she grows up and sometimes all I  want to do is make her yell and giggle and not take things so seriously.  I almost never think of things from the parently perspective (perhaps because I'm not yet a parent) until it's too late.  I don't spend hours planning and prepping for teaching.

I want coming to Sunday School to be fun for them, and for me.  I want them to be okay with wondering.  I want them to know it's okay if their faith doesn't fit in a neat, pat little box.  I want them to look at things differently.  I want them to learn reverence and a regard for the sacred, but I want them to know that sometimes laughter and silliness and, yes, even doubt are the most sacred of things.  All of these things keep our faith real and fresh and growing.  I want them to be, to really be, children for as long as they can be.  I want them to want to color on walls.  I want them to enjoy exploring their faith.  I want it to be something so alive that they can't always hold onto it, that it sometimes runs away from them.  And then I want them to chase it, so hard, that they tumble down mountains and laugh with joy at the grass stains on their knees.

So maybe I want to be a *Bad* Sunday School teacher.  And I want, I hope, to think that's a good thing.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Cutest Girl in the World

This is Bailey Grace, the cutest girl in the world.

I call her my niece, for lack of a better, more accurate term.  
She belongs to my cousins Rebecca and Wes 
and I got to spend a whole weekend with her.

She is a beautiful, happy girl who loves to smile all day. 
She also loves her mommy and daddy 
and splashing at bathtime 
and putting her hands in her mouth. 

It was so special to get to spend some time with her.  
And with Becca and Wes.  
What a blessing! 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Smoke Monster Does Waco?

Believe it or not, this picture is not blurry.  
That's just smoke.  
Lot's of smoke.  Filling our kitchen.  

We made (really delicious) blackened chicken tacos with black beans last night, and the smoke overtook the entire house.  We could barely finish cooking we were so busy choking on fumes and gasping for air.  Nostrils burning.  Eyes watering.  

I don't know if it was cooking the chicken over such high heat, or if it was the mix of spices we coated it with (lots of cayenne, lots of black pepper, lots of chipotle flavored Mrs. Dash).  But if I ever doubted the scariness of the black smoke monster on Lost, last night's experience has changed my mind.  That was some intense smoke!  But the results were worth it.

(Seriously, these were so good, but I advise you to proceed with caution.  And maybe take the batteries out of your smoke detector first)

Blackened (and I do mean Blackened) Chicken Tacos with Black Beans

1 1/2 lbs. chicken breast
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp Mrs. Dash chipotle seasoning
2 tbs oil
1 medium onion (chopped)
1 can black beans (rinsed and drained)
1 medium tomato (chopped)
1 tbs fresh chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
Whole wheat tortillas

Start by combining all spices in a small mixing bowl.  Pound the chicken breast till it's nice and thin.  If you have really large, thick breasts (hee, sorry) you might want to butterfly them first.  Coat both sides of chicken breast in spice mixture.  Heat 1 tbs of oil over high heat, then add chicken and cook until blackened on both sides and cooked completely through (2-3 mins per side, depending on the size of your breasts, and again, hee).  While the chicken is cooking, you may need to open all your windows, turn on every fan, cough, splutter, and gasp for air.  Or at least, that's what we did.  When chicken is done, remove to a cutting board and cut into nice taco sized slices.

Meanwhile, reduce heat to medium and in the same pan, add the rest of the oil plus chopped onion and cook until well-softened (about 3 mins).  Be sure to get up all the brown bits left behind from the chicken.  When the onions are done add the beans and heat through (about another 3 mins).  Then remove from heat, stir in tomato, cilantro and lime juice and salt to taste.

Heat the tortillas whatever way you prefer (we used the broiler because I'm obsessed with our broiler now that I know how to work it properly).  Divide the chicken and beans evenly among the tortillas.  Top with shredded cheese and sour cream if you want (and if you have it on hand).  Air out your kitchen and enjoy.

Why I Blog

I'm not entirely comfortable referring to myself as a "blogger" despite the fact that I do write and post here in this place that I generally refer to as my blog.  I might be comfortable referring to myself as someone who blogs.  But I'm not one of those "bloggers" who is serious about it, or dedicated to it.  Who has a theme or a cause, who uses her blog as a platform to attract needed attention to an issue.  I don't blog about my kids (not having any yet), or parenting (see previous), or politics (yikes!), and I don't have a band of readers or commenter's or followers.  I don't promote my blog.  I'm honestly still a little conflicted sometimes about the idea of anyone I know (friend or foe) reading it.  It always feels a little weird putting it out there.

But I do.  I keep blogging.  I keep being taken with an idea, I keep typing up words and editing them, I keep hitting publish and sending those words out into the universe to be read or ignored.  And although I'm sometimes curious about who (if anyone) is reading my little piece of the internet, I don't actually care about the answer.  And finding out that absolutely no-one (or everyone) was reading would not (I hope) at all affect the way I write here.  And that's really the thing that keeps me typing and editing and hitting publish with increasing frequency.  It's that love and desire and drive I have to write.  I love to craft words and I love to explore ideas and I want to do more with that than just journal but I'm not really ready to try my hand at anything (that feels, to me) too public or real or serious.  So I challenge myself here, on my own terms.  I blog for me.  I claim this space for me.

All of that being said, I do admire many actual, real-life "bloggers" and some parts of that little world (or maybe it's a rather big world), some parts of that community, have come under fire recently.  Last week one journalist wrote about why all bloggers are male and managed to be both disparaging to men and demeaning to women at the same time.  Also, a New York times article about mommy bloggers took a strikingly condescending and judgmental tone.  And even though these attacks aren't leveled directly at me, they do serve to remind me why I do this, why I love this, why I might feel a little protective of some that are being targeted.  Much has already been said in response to these articles by some real "bloggers" and they've all said it better than I could, so I'll just say this:

Some things are easy.  Criticizing is easy.  So is casting stones.  It's easy to rant, it's easy to rage, it's easy to backlash, it's easy to opine.  It's easy to insist that people fit into teeny tiny boxes.  It's easy to think/say/insist that you have it all figured out.  It's easy to say some can do and some can't.  It's easy to say women are like this and men are like that.  It's easy to say X makes you a good mom and Y makes you a bad one.  It's easy to draw lines, to set limitations, to deny.  It's easy to fear and it's easy to hold back.  It's easy to tear down and to destroy.

Other things are hard.  Belief is hard.  Being a whole person is hard.  Allowing others to be whole persons, sometimes in opposition to or even in defiance of our own ideals, is even harder.  It's hard to contribute to the conversation thoughtfully and positively.  It's hard to love, it's hard to accept, it's hard to envelope, it's hard to extend grace.  It's hard to build something, it's hard to create.  It's hard to actually do something worthwhile, to get moving and keep moving.  It's hard not to let the nay-saying slow us down.  It's hard to push boundaries.  It's hard to break stereotypes.  It's hard to be more than what everyone else says we should be.  It's hard to be okay with ourselves when we're less.

But the hard things are better things.  They're worth it.  They're what this world needs more of.  We all need to find our own little space, our own little corner of the world or the internet (or both) where we are free to do the hard things.  And we need to allow that to be okay, for ourselves, for others.  We need to join each other instead of fighting each other. Especially women.  Because it seems like it's always women attacking women.  We're the best and the worst at keeping each other and ourselves down.  And we need to be thankful for all the diverse voices, even the ones we (and I'm speaking to myself here) deem disparaging or ignorant or condescending or just plain wrong.  I may not like them, but I appreciate that they are free and I am free and we are all free to just blunder through it.  May Grace go with us all.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Midnight Madness

I should probably preface this by explaining that my polar bear of a husband likes to sleep cold.  Really cold.  He keeps the air in our bedroom kind of frigid at night time.  And then he steals the covers in the middle of the night, leaving me a frozen Popsicle, shivering and uncovered on my side of the bed.  And he would never do this on purpose, it happens inadvertently, I know.  But he still kind of thinks it's funny.  Which sometimes leaves me incensed.

So last night, I'm awakened by the draft of a chilling breeze over my bare knee and I notice that Keith has pulled almost all of the covers onto his side of the bed.  I say almost all, because at least a quarter of my body was still sort of touching some of the covers.  Big sigh, and I kind of poke him in the ribs.  "Hey, you're stealing the covers and I'm cold."

Without opening his eyes, without raising his head, without a word, Keith laughs to himself, and falls back asleep.  So I yank enough covers back to at least mostly cover my frostbitten left half and I fall back asleep.  Right into a very intense dream, in which someone is forcing me (not a younger me but the current, 29 year old me) to go through junior high all over again.  Apparently I did it "wrong" the first time and I'm supposed to go back and do it all over "right" (yes, the inside of my head is a very weird, weird place to me be).  So 29 year old dream me is stuffed into a purple and white cheer-leading outfit, hiding under the bleachers crying because I don't want to be a cheerleader and I don't want to have blond hair and I especially don't want to relive the nightmarish hell on earth that was my junior high experience.  And dream me is mad that somebody did this to me.

And then I wake up.  Because I'm shivering and the covers are nowhere!  I can't even reach the covers to try to yank some of them back.  And I snap.  I huff over onto my side and bark at my husband.  "Seriously?!  You've stolen ALL of the covers!  Again!"  And I hear, "Hee-hee," from the other side of the bed.  So I sit up.  "No!  Seriously!  I want to you look at this!"  Disclaimer:  I was still sort of in sleep-fog too.  I would never be this mean to my husband if I were fully conscious of it.  

At which point Keith actually does sit up and look at my goose-bump covered, blanket bereft body.  And then he very sweetly covers me all back up.  And the covers stayed in place until the alarm went off this morning, at which point it was time to get up and get out of bed and face another day, armed with a delicious breakfast that my husband made.  And I've got to say, cover-stealer or not, his coffee, egg and turkey bacon making skills more than make up for it.

Friday, March 19, 2010

You Put the Lime in the Coconut

Around this time last year, Keith and I were on our honeymoon at the Gran Bahia Principe on the Riviera Maya. Our days mostly consisted of great food, great drinks, beautiful beaches and the sound of the ocean.  Our daily routine involved getting up to watch an amazing sunset, followed by a huge breakfast and a morning nap.  Our favorite drink was a Coco Loco (a delicious frozen combination of gin, coconut creme and lime juice).  We had absolutely zero responsibilities or concerns.

Keith double-fisting (double-slurping?).  The tall one's a Coco Loco.

Me sipping on a margarita.  Ah, memories!

It's a pretty big contrast between those days and now, where we both seem to be frantically busy all the time lately.  Between Keith finishing school and my job ramping up towards the busy season and the job hunt and the uncertainty of where we'll be this time next year, there's just not a lot about our lives that feels carefree at the moment.  But last night we made Chicken Coconut Curry- and it's exotic mixture of spices, lime juice and coconut milk, reminiscent of Coco Locos, certainly brought a smile to my face.  And maybe, just for a second, lightened the load a bit.

Chicken Coconut Curry
No photos of this one...sorry!  But if we had taken one, you'd notice a distinctly green color.  It's a fun dish.

  • Two Tbsp. oil (we always use olive)
  • One small onion, chopped
  • One 13.5 oz can of lite coconut milk (we found it in the Asian foods section)
  • 1/4 cup of low-sodium chicken broth
  • One Tbsp. curry paste (the recipe says green curry paste, we could only find red.  It was still delicious.  Use whatever you can get  your hands on.)
  • One small eggplant, peeled and chopped into big chunks
  • Two large chicken breasts cut into inch wide strips
  • Juice from one lime

Heat oil in a big, straight-sided skillet (chef's pan) over medium-high heat.  Add onions and cooks until soft and fragrant (around 5 mins).  Pour in coconut milk and chicken broth, stir in curry paste.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until reduced and thickened (about 8 mins).  A note on the curry paste: It is potent!  It is really, really flavorful and it packs the heat.  So if you're sensitive to spicy, you might want to use half.

Once sauce is reduced, add eggplant and chicken.  Return to a boil, then reduce heat and cook until chicken is cooked through and eggplant is soft (8-9 mins).  You could also add a few handfuls of fresh spinach for the last minute of cooking.  We forgot to put it on our grocery list, so we did without and believe me, we didn't even miss it.  Stir in lime juice just before serving and season to taste with salt.  

This dish would be really good over some steamed brown rice.  Of course, that takes 45 minutes to cook, and the curry only takes about 20, and we didn't time it right and waited too late to start dinner so once again, we did without and once again, we didn't feel like we missed anything at all.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Color Green

And the moon is a sliver of silver
Like a shaving that fell on the floor of a Carpenter's shop.
Every house must have its builder
And I awoke in the house of God.

Where the windows are morning and evenings
Stretched from the sun across the sky, north to south.
And on my way to early meeting
I heard the rocks crying out,
I heard the rocks crying out:

Be praised for all Your tenderness by these works of Your hands,
Suns that rise and rains that fall to bless
And bring to life Your land.
Look down upon this winter wheat 
And be glad that You have made
Blue for the sky and the color green
That fills these fields with praise.

And the wrens have returned and they're nesting
In the hollow of that oak, where his heart once had been.
And he lifts up his arms in a blessing 
For being born again.

And the streams are all swollen with winter,
Winter unfrozen and free to run away now.
And I'm amazed when I remember
Who it was that built this house,
And with the rocks I cry out:

Be praised for all Your tenderness by these works of Your hands,
Suns that rise and rains that fall to bless
And bring to life Your land.
Look down upon this winter wheat 
And be glad that You have made
Blue for the sky and the color green...

Be praised for all Your tenderness by these works of Your hands,
Suns that rise and rains that fall to bless
And bring to life Your land.
Look down upon this winter wheat 
And be glad that You have made
Blue for the sky and the color green
That fills these fields with praise.

-Rich Mullins

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Some People Just Will Not Leave You Alone

I am someone who values alone time.  Greatly.  I love people, and I especially love my friends and family, but when I need to think, when I need to process, when I need to recharge- I need to get alone somewhere and get quiet.  Which is usually a good thing.  Except when it's not.  And when the something I'm processing is so big that I really can't do anything with it, being alone is not a good thing for me.

Several years ago, some things got really hard for me.  So hard that all the alone time in the world couldn't help me deal with it or process it.  I didn't know what else to do.  When I need to process something, I do it alone.  But processing alone turned into shutting down turned into forgetting how to get up and get out and join the world every day.  And there is a very good possibility that I would still be lying there, in a crappy apartment on a crappy couch staring at a crappy television, completely shut down and locked up in my own head to this day, if it weren't for two people who just wouldn't leave me alone.

Erin and Michael would burst through the door flicking on lights and flinging back curtains as they went, and they would tell me what I was going to do.  I was going to get up and go to the Grape and drink wine and laugh.  I was going to get up and go sit outside Common Grounds and read and guzzle coffee.  I was going to get up and go see a new movie.  I was going to get up and go on a road trip to Dallas.  They were loud, they were obnoxious, they were insistent.  Everything I was going to do involved getting up and going.

They would not leave me alone.  There was no point in arguing or trying to push them away.  I could explain till I was blue in the face that I didn't feel like getting up or going anywhere, that I was processing, that I didn't want to move.  It was all a waste of breath.  And breath was something I really couldn't afford to waste considering many of these arguments occurred with both of them sitting on top of me (and while Erin may be ridiculously, adorably tiny- Michael is kind of ridiculously, adorably huge).  Sometimes it got really annoying, but resistance was futile.  Michael and Erin simply would not take no for an answer.  They just wouldn't leave me alone.  They refused to give up on me.  And they forced me up and out of myself over and over again, until I was finally willing and able to do it on my own. Thank God for that.

They didn't make me talk, they didn't try to counsel me.  They just fought- so hard- with me and for me.  They were my will and my sanity when felt I had none.  And they made me, literally forced me, to feel better.  I don't know what I would do without friends like those.  The ones who insist on being in it with you, no matter how deep in it you happen to be.  The ones who refuse to let you stay there.  The ones who just will not ever, ever, ever leave you alone.

Monday, March 15, 2010

When you write late at night
 it's like a small fire 
in a clearing, it's what 
radiates and what can hurt 
if you get too close to it.  
It's why our silence is a kind of truth.  
Even when you speak to your best friend, 
the one who'll never betray you, 
you always leave out one thing; 
a secret life is that important.

-Stephen Dunn

Friday, March 12, 2010

Must be my Lucky Day

Keith and I have both been needing new glasses for a while now.  Seriously.  The lenses is my "best" glasses are totally covered in scratches and for the last 9 months one of the earpieces has been held on with a paper clip.  They are in bad shape.  But I don't wear my glasses every day, and getting new glasses is so expensive that making the necessary upgrade has just seemed like a luxury that we can't really afford.

Until now...

Today I discovered Warby Parker, and they have literally become my new heroes.  

They sell glasses- adorable, unique, well-crafted glasses- for $95 a pair.  We're not just talking frames here- that includes the fancy, light-weight, high-tech lenses, as well.  And they ship for free.  And they'll send up to five pairs to your home so you can try them all on and decide which ones you like best, also for free (or you can upload a photo and do a virtual try on).  And they have a no questions asked return policy.  And for every pair they sell, they give one away to someone in need.  They are just this wonderful cornucopia of brilliant design & innovative marketing & exceptional customer service & practical philanthropy.

I can't help myself, I have such a crush on the entire company right now and I had to blog about it.  And tonight I'm ordering five pairs for my free home try on.  I think I like the "Harper" style the best, but I can't decide if I want them in sandalwood matte or if I should dare to go for the summer green.  Anyone want to weigh in?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I Have a Book Fetish

I have always loved books.  From the tattered copy of Wizard of Oz my mom used to read to me, to crisp textbooks in college, from guilty pleasures like the Sweet Potato Queens to challenging fare like James Joyce, from prose to poetry, from autobiography to the wildest works of fantasy.  I love books, I love stories.  I love turning pages.  I love the creak of the binding when you crack a book open right to the center.  I love the feel of the paper, I love the words rushing by, I love the weight of a book in my bag, I love the smell a book carries.  I love reading.

From the very first day I realized I could stare at a page full of letters and work meanings out of them, I have been hooked.  I carried a copy of the first book I ever learned to read ("See Spot.  See Spot run....") around with me until it literally feel apart, then my mom stitched it back together for me and then I carried it around some more until it practically disintegrated.  There were two things I consistently got in trouble for as a child.  One of them was my tone of voice (I have always had a penchant for too much snark) and the other was reading when I wasn't supposed to be.  Reading at the dinner table.  Reading instead of practicing the piano.  Reading while I waited for mom to pick me up from school instead of "socializing" with the other kids.  Hiding in the bathroom with a book when I was supposed to be doing chores.  Other kids got rewards and incentives for reading.  My parents were trying to figure out ways to get me to lay down my books long enough to actually live my life.  What can I say?  I was hooked.  Still am.

But it wasn't until I lived with Lori that I really learned how to really read a book.  Lori and I lived together during my second year out of college.  I was working, I was through with school, and I was high on the freedom of reading purely for pleasure again.  And for the first time, I was friends with someone who was just as much of a bibliophile as I was.  Lori and I would sit side by side on barstools at the kitchen counter, books propped up against the window pane, sunlight streaming across the pages, and read through our lunch breaks.  I would step into the kitchen in the morning to find Lori, a bowl of cereal, and a book.  Evenings meant an episode of a TV show or movie and then curling into blankets on the couch for more reading.  We traded old favorites and discovered new loves in literature together.  And we talked.  And talked.  And talked.  About the books we were reading.

At some point, I realized that my way of reading was very different from Lori's.  I usually whizzed through a book quickly, hungrily.  When I read a book, I was a little bit like a sponge sitting on the ocean floor.  I let everything sort of wash in and over and through me.  I absorbed the entire book as it moved past me.  If there was anything that stuck in my fibers, I digested it and it became part of me.  But I wasn't exactly conscious of the process and I used little selection, no discernment.  I just sort of let the book happen to me, then moved on to the next one.

Lori, on the other hand, read slowly and carefully.  Precisely.  She had a way of taking a book in and holding it- all of its pieces together and in place- and distilling it down to its essence.  She paid attention to nuance.  She analyzed sentence structures.  She took concepts the author vaguely alluded to and fleshed them out into existence.  And she did it all with an effortless grace and obvious enjoyment, not like she was plodding through an assignment.  Gradually, my book-talks with Lori began to shape the way I read.  I found myself digging deeper into the books I read, stretching my capacity for experiencing them, developing my understanding and my skill.

It's something that every English teacher I ever had was probably trying desperately to teach me, I'm sure.  But it only hit home when I got to watch someone else do it over and over again, day in and day out.  It has exponentially increased my already voracious love of books.  And I like to think it's made me a better reader and, hopefully, a better writer as well.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

My husband, Dr. Reich

Congratulations to 
Keith Alan Reich, Ph.D. 
who successfully defended his dissertation at 9:00 this morning.

Needless to say, I am beyond proud.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Dinner Fail

Last night we had our first ever adventure in cooking that was actually sucky.  It was supposed to be garlicky chicken skewers with eggplant and zucchini.  All things we like.  Should have been great.  Wasn't.

I can't figure out what went wrong.  The skewers were supposed to be grilled and we pan-fried instead because we don't really have a grill (we have a foreman but it's not the same).  Is that enough to make it suck?  Or maybe the chicken sat in the fridge or freezer too long?  We have been putting off cooking ever since our splurgey anniversary weekend (which was fantastic, by the way).  Could have been lack of enthusiasm I suppose.  Neither of us particularly felt like cooking last night.  Does apathy really make food taste gross?  Who knew?!

And since we started dinner so late (becuase Keith was tantalizingly close to beating Assassin's Creed on PS3 and I was totally pushing him to keep going) our little dinner fail happened just as Lost was starting up.  So not only did we have to scramble for a replacement non-sucky dinner, we had to do it during the first few minutes of Lost.  And we don't have a DVR anymore.  It's all live, baby.

So, to recap:
Dinner?  Sucked
Missing Lost?  Sucked even more

Also, this was the last meal we had planned for, so we didn't have anything else fresh in the house because we're going grocery shopping tonight.  So this is what we ended up having for dinner....

That's right folks, the San Francisco treat.  And while Rice A Roni is neither South Beach friendly nor good for your waistline, it most certainly never sucks.