Monday, December 22, 2008

And you thought I was kidding...

It really is dog-ass cold here. Well, for Tennessee in mid-December it is anyway...

Our adorable local public radio news reporter/substitute host (I've met him, he actually is adorable. I'm not just making it up), this morning announced the time and temp: "It's 11 degrees in Nashville at 7:20."

Except the way he said it was all: "Dude, it's only e-lev-en degrees outside. No, man, I'm totally serious. Like Fahrenheit -not even Celsius."

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Longest Night of the Year

I am physically and mentally exhausted and it is dog-ass cold out tonight. The plan had been to wrap presents, but in addition to being cold and tired, I'm also rather Grinchy at the moment. Unfortunately, vegging-out on the couch doesn't look like a viable option as even on Sunday of a non-holiday week, once you get past "The Simpsons," television is pretty bleak. But wait...

When, what do my wondering eyes should appear,

but Sense and Sensibility on Public Television...
(sorry, I don't have the will to rhyme either.)

I think my cold, Grinchy, dorky heart just grew three sizes... or at least warmed three degrees.

Hope your last Sunday of Advent, first night of Hanukkah, and Winter Solstice is happy and toasty.

Friday, December 19, 2008

I have a serious case of holiday-itis

But I also can't think of anything to post.

So as I seem apt to do these days, I swiped this from Green Girl (see here and here). Of course, I swiped it and then proceeded to nitpick - "Why are there only 99?" "Bounced a check?!? That's sort of rude to ask, isn't it?!?" Because it's not like beggars should really be choosers, right? It's either this or maybe today I can wax nostalgic about Shaun Cassidy or Rick Springfield or something. No? OK then, let's give this a go....

Things you've already done: bold
Things you want to do: italicize
Things you haven't done and don't want to: leave in plain font

1. Started your own blog.
2. Slept under the stars.
3. Played in a band - or musical. - Musical. And if a Go-Go's lip-sync band in the 5th grade with this chick counts, then yes on the other as well.
4. Visited Hawaii.
5. Watched a meteor shower.
6. Given more than you can afford to charity.
7. Been to Disneyland/world - world.
8. Climbed a mountain.
9. Held a praying mantis.
10. Sang a solo.
11. Bungee jumped.
12. Visited Paris.
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea.
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch. - Not well, but yes.
15. Adopted a child.
16. Had food poisoning. - Who would italicize this!?
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty. - I'd rather have food poisoning.
18. Grown your own vegetables. - But I plan to this summer.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France. - Was in the Louvre just long enough to see it and the Venus Di Milo.
20. Slept on an overnight train. As a child between Nashville and Orlando. In my 20's from Milan to Paris. My cabin mate was a rude Japanese guy who SMOKED and talked on his cell phone the whole time. Somewhere in the Alps I considered smothering him and/or throwing him from the train car.
21. Had a pillow fight.
22. Hitchhiked.
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill. - In my defense, ill-tempered is still ill.
24. Built a snow fort.
25. Held a lamb.
26. Gone skinny dipping. - No one needs to see that.
27. Run a Marathon. - I've pretty much walked one though.
28. Ridden a Gondola in Venice. - The simple answer is no (it's really expensive!). I was, however, offered a "free" ride after hours by a particularly cheeky gondolier, but was wise enough to decline.
29. Seen a total eclipse.
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset.
31. Hit a home run. - But I can punt a mean football.
32. Been on a cruise.
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person.
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors.
35. Seen an Amish community.
36. Taught yourself a new language. - see #14.
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied. - Very briefly. And then I decided to buy a house...
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person. - So. Not. Worth. It. But I did see a nun riding a bike while I was there, so I guess it was kind of worth it...
39. Gone rock climbing.
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David. - I cried.
41. Sung karaoke. - No one needs to hear that.
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt.
43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant.
44. Visited Africa. - Very high on the to-do list.
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight.
46. Been transported in an ambulance. - Again, who would italicize this?
47. Had your portrait painted.
48. Gone deep sea fishing.
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person.
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. - See #17.
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling. - Snorkeling.
52. Kissed in the rain.
53. Played in the mud.
54. Gone to a drive-in theater.
55. Been in a movie.
56. Visited the Great Wall of China.
57. Started a business.
58. Taken a martial arts class.
59. Visited Russia.
60. Served at a soup kitchen.
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies. - Never made it out of Brownies.
62. Gone whale watching.
63. Gotten flowers for no reason. - From someone I actually wanted to get flowers from? No.
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma.
65. Gone sky diving.
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp.
67. Bounced a check.
68. Flown in a helicopter.
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy. - Yes, but it was recently decapitated and gutted.
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial.
71. Eaten Caviar.
72. Pieced a quilt.
73. Stood in Times Square.
74. Toured the Everglades.
75. Been fired from a job.
76. Seen the Changing of the Guard in London. - I think so. I was jet lagged. I'll have to check the scrapbook.
77. Broken a bone. - My toe and probably one in my foot the second week of my freshman year in college. Never go barefoot at a frat party.
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle. - A Harley. For my 30th birthday.
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person. - It's right up there on the list with Africa.
80. Published a book.
81. Visited the Vatican. - And I bought this chick's husband a plastic ink pen with a clear end filled with water and a little Pope inside that bounced up and down. (They were engaged at the time and he was in the process of converting to Catholicism. It seemed only appropriate...)
82. Bought a brand new car.
83. Walked in Jerusalem.
84. Had your picture in the newspaper.
85. Read the entire Bible. - I'm an Episcopalian. We don't do that. (kidding...)
86. Visited the White House. And now I actually want to. But I have spent some time next door in the old executive building. NOT stalking Al Gore... Really... I promise...
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating. - No, but I came close with that Japanese guy on the train.
88. Had chickenpox.
89. Saved someone’s life.
90. Sat on a jury.- would looooove to do that.
91. Met someone famous.
92. Joined a book club. - one real one and one where I've never actually read a book.
93. Lost a loved one.
94. Had a baby. - I'd rather do #17 AND #50.
95. Seen the Alamo in person. - All good Tennesseans should pay their respects to the original Volunteers.
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake.
97. Been involved in a law suit.
98. Owned a cell phone.
99. Been stung by a bee. - Do yellow jackets count?

Seriously? No #100? All of this and there's not one more question? How about.. "had plastic surgery"... "learned to meditate"... "ran with the bulls"... "tried moonshine"...

What would be your #100?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"When I Was Young and Full of Grace..."

This morning as I lay in bed thinking I had finally mustered the will to get up, I was oh-so kindly informed by "Morning Edition" that today is Mike Mills' birthday. His 50th birthday.

That's right fellow Gen-Xers - REM's bass player, backup vocalist, and all around good guy is 50.

Sorry. Can't. Face. Reality. Now. Must. Pull. Covers. Over. Head. Okay. Buhbye.

Then those wavy, flashback-indicating lines that appear on TV sitcoms started to form in my eyes...

It was my first year of high school and it was torturous. Well, as torturous as any teenage girl's - but it's not like I knew that then. All I knew is that I didn't fit in with any one group and was therefore left on a little island unto myself - not smart enough for the gifted crowd, not quite geeky enough for full-fledged band geekdom, not moody or pierced enough for the alternative outcasts of the school, not pretty or athletic or whatever enough for the popular crowd. The list was long.

I had friends in each clique, but never was a full card-carrying member of any. I was, however, stubborn and masochistic enough not to want to listen to the necessary music, wear the necessary clothes or hairstyle or partake in whichever activity was "in" with any crowd. There were certainly times when I dipped my toe in and briefly tried on a different persona, but I always felt like an imposter and it was always short-lived.

That same year, though, I got a part-time job. It was on the edge of my suburban bubble - just enough to interact with people from neighboring bubbles and at times even the thriving metropolis of Nashville itself. There I became friends with three different young women. Two girls who were already friends, both of them older, and the cousin of one who was about my age.

One night the four of us had plans after work to go to a movie. Throughout the evening though much whispering had been going on. I picked up enough by eavesdropping to figure out that there were potentially better plans on the horizon and that my level of "coolness" was being assessed. I assumed that meant I was soon to be excluded from whatever the new plans were and was destined to go home straight after work.

As we were closing up the store, the plot finally unfolded. There was a great band playing at a venue in town. It was a last-minute show and not many people knew about it yet. The boyfriends of the two oldest girls knew the guys who would be working the door and said they could get us all in. Even me. But they didn't know if I was up for it. Would I blow our cover? Would I try to get someone to buy me drinks and get us all arrested? They didn't know but finally decided to ask me and to my surprise said they didn't want to go unless I wanted to. I assured them that none of their worries were necessary and if they wanted to take me, I was game.

The night went off without a hitch. I stood in a corner toward the back of the group of people, assumed that I would probably not like whatever music I was about to hear and was fully prepared just to appreciate the whole experience for what it was. But I was wrong. The band was REM - as I'm sure you've figured out. They were just starting to get some commercial success when I got to see them that night, but in my world, I had never heard of them. And they were great. Too different to be the pop, country or head-banging music that saturated the hallways at my school - yet too fun and upbeat for much of what my combat boot and safety-pin wearing friends listened to. It was like nothing I'd ever seen or heard, and yet everything I had been looking for. My awkward little universe was somehow now more complete - or at least a little more OK with itself.

So thank you, Mike (and Bill and Michael and Peter too). I'm sure there are some hard-core music snobs out there ready to give me crap for loving you guys as much as I do, but that's fine. You provided the perfect inspiration and soundtrack for an angsty, misfit teenager. (And some great memories for this angsty, misfit adult too). Happy Birthday.