Good intentions 2013

Just some things I was thinking of doing in 2013:

books-resources

1.  Read one book a month (except in the case of Les Miserables by Hugo, which may take two; it’s on my list, and in my stack)

jazzercise

2.  Jazzercise (shopping for this outfit, by the way)

yoga-girl-by-sunset-prev

3.  Yoga

Chakra-balancing-meditation_1

3.  Regular meditation

crockpot

4.  Crockpot Sunday!

5.  And this:

Philippians 4.8

******

And one more quote to end 2012 for me: “Be excellent to each another.”  Party on…and happy New Year to us all.

2nd annual almost-completely superficial Thanksgiving post

Just took out a lemon cranberry crumble cake from the oven, and I’m waiting for it to cool before adding the lemon glaze.  While this happens, I think it’s time to make a list of those things that I am grateful for on this Thanksgiving.  If you are expecting family, friends, and my dog, not that kind of list. Love you, love them all, but here’s what also floats my boat this year:

1.  Going to the movies – even though the experience isn’t what it was when I was a wild-eyed child, going to the movies is still something that I always set forth to do with the optimistic hope that I will feel the same way that I used to feel when I walked out after seeing “Serpico,” “Sophie’s Choice,” “Cabaret,” and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” – as if I had been somewhere else, and  could see the world differently now, if only for a little while.  I think the most recent films that have made me feel transformed afterward have been “Midnight in Paris” and “Julie and Julia.” Oddly enough, both films were set in Paris; it’s possible Paris could make this list next year, if I can survive all the happiness this year.

2. Online shopping! (Or what I like to call, “Click, click, boom!” I have no idea why, except that maybe the “boom!” is the sound of my checking account exploding.)

3.  Books.  Don’t roll your eyes and mutter, “Old lady, books are so 20th century…” I bought a Nook, and it’s a slick piece of plastic, really; however, it can’t match turning the pages of a REAL book.  And if it comes to living in a world completely without books, sign me up for the Neptune Society –

4.  Coffee, especially the sound of it being brewed in my handy dandy Keurig coffee maker.  Not to be a shill for this thing, but it was a Christmas present last year, and is a brilliant little machine.  I am also especially grateful  not to have been a married woman in the ’50s, as apparently a woman’s entire reason for existing relied on her being able to make a decent cup of coffee  (check out “Coffee Jerks” on YouTube; it is pretty funny, and explains “Attack of the 50 Foot Woman” to me).

5. Finding the funny – sounds simple, but I know that there are souls in the world who can’t find it , and who never even care to try.  Laughing is one of the greatest gifts in life, and what is so cool is that you can give it to yourself and someone else at the same time.

I have to go work out – there is a plateful of carbs in my immediate future.  Many thanks, campers; let’s march on through the holidays with a big drumstick in one hand and a garlic dinner roll in the other! Onward!

Measuring out life with coffee spoons (courtesy of T.S. Eliot)

It’s Friday, and I swear this week has gone by in a nanosecond.  I’ve had the week off, and left to my own devices, have the following to show for it – a clean truck, a fairly clean dog, an almost clean carpet, and yet another scarf that is ten inches (plus fringe) away from being finished (my deadline for said scarf is December 1st, and I will be meeting that date, or I might as well pack my needles away and be done with it, since it’s been a year since I started the thing).  I also started the latest Stephen King novel, “11/22/63,” which has me hooked as only SK can, but with my ADD, which is pretty much full-blown these days, who knows how long it will take me to finish it? I heard a great line last week that stayed with me: “It’s not what you start, it’s what you finish.”

Right now I’m finishing a nice little glass of red wine; I have given up just about all of my vices, except for coffee, knitting, and Angry Birds, but tonight I found a bottle of wine on the kitchen counter, and since it is Friday, and I’m still on vacation…oh, whatever, I’m having it, who cares why?  It’s a big glass of delicious –

I’m feeling scattered right now, like I’m paying more attention to the little things, and not focusing on the larger picture known as “My Life” (now in 3-D and Imax!). Since they just popped into my head,  I also think that the two lines from the poem by T.S. Eliot , “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” apply to me right now:

“I should have been a pair of ragged claws/scuttling across the floor of silent seas.”

Moving forward to survive, unfocused, without clarity – sounds about right.

“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” is one of my favorites; for me, the magic of poetry is that each time I read a poem, I find something new in it. “Love Song” details the minutiae of a man’s life, and his attempt to find some significance in those details, and his realization that he has lost his true self somewhere. The perfect checklist for me tonight – “There will be time, there will be time/to prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;” “And time yet for a hundred decisions and indecisions/And for a hundred visions and revisions/before the taking of toast and tea.”

Go ahead, read Eliot’s poem a few times, and see what you find out about yourself. I triple dog dare you …!

Unreal

I am not a huge fan of realism in art – I do appreciate artists such as Rembrandt, who had the ability to paint figures with faces that seemed lit from within. However, my heart seems to lie with Miro, Dali, Chagall, and Picasso – when I look at their work, I feel better, dunno why. I don’t talk about this to sound like a snooty broad; I grew up with two artists who felt it was necessary to completely misrepresent reality, so maybe I relate better to the bending of visual truth. Same goes for photography – I enjoy photos, and I especially like when someone has taken a photograph that has gone awry, and ended up with a little more than they were expecting. Fuzzy, double exposures, extra backlighting to make the subject look as if they descended from the heavens and plopped right down on the end of the Redondo Beach Pier at sunset – these are the photos that I look at more than once.

While impressionism might be fine for art, it’s not so desirable for writing. I feel as if I’ve reached a plateau, and that I’m repeating the same things over and over; I also feel like my writing is fuzzy, with double exposures, and bores me before I ever finish a paragraph (incidentally, editing before you’ve even completed a paragraph is not the best way to write – my superego gets in cahoots with my left brain, and the results are a big yawn). I’ve started to read “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men” by David Foster Wallace. His writing flattens me, period; there are certain people in my life that I know that I will never equal in terms of creativity and brilliance, and Wallace is one of them.  I also started “Infinite Jest,” at the beach a couple of years ago, and discovered that it is no beach read – it is filled with (to me) obscure references, and I know that I will read it, but I have to practice lengthening my attention span so that I can fully appreciate it. And if that’s not enough I’m reading “You Shall Know Our Velocity” by Dave Eggers – I’ve been staying away from fiction, but this novel is so well-written that I don’t want it to end.

Funny how my life seems to have taken on an impressionistic feel these days; it helps me to put horns and three eyes on some people, and drop them through the hole that melted over the side of my desk, or paint others blue, and suspend them over me all day long, so that I wouldn’t be lonely. Definitely not realistic, but once in a while it gets me through.

Saturday morning cranial cartoons

Back View of Jane Austen, Watercolor

Image via Wikipedia

I’m watching “The Jane Austen Book Club” on the Lifetime network – since this is Saturday, and I have absolutely nothing planned, outside of a pedicure and a trip to the pet store for some Advantix for my pup, I am halfway considering a Lifetime movie marathon. I tried that once before, and made it through two and a half hours before switching channels. The movies are all very nice, but without much teeth, which is the only way I can explain it, and after a few hours, I feel the need for more…grit? Guess so. One effect of watching this particular movie is that I now want to read Jane Austen; since I’m already in the middle of two books, she’ll have to take a number, unfortunately. (And since this movie about Jane Austen is based on the book “The Jane Austen Book Club,” there’s another one in the queue!) Since my ADD is not being cured anytime soon, let’s blow through some items of interest, why don’t we?

Tom? Is that you? “Rock Of Ages” sounds like a hoot – ’80s rock, with a singing (yep, you read that correctly) Tom Cruise, also with Russell Brand, and….wait for it…Alec Baldwin.  I love this in a way that I can’t put into words; if you don’t, too bad, so sad – there will be more popcorn and a quieter theatre for me.  And if you do have instant love for this, save the date and we’ll go –

My trip to Iowa is all set.  I will be staying at the Motel Wilton, which is an adorable-looking twelve-room motel run by Don and Lois Kiser.  I’m flying to Phoenix, then to Colorado, then to Moline, then driving from Moline to Wilton, which has a population of about 3,000.  Aside from my husband, I have no immediate family, and I’m feeling it more right now, which is why this trip feels important and necessary to me.  I’ve only been to Iowa once before, about forty years ago (Gah! Can that be right?), and I’m excited about spending the Fourth of July with my niece and great-niece, and meeting her husband and her baby, J.J. This is a photo of the motel at night (and the comparisons to “Psycho”and the movie “Identity” have already been made; kinda hope it’s not raining when I go):

Mid Night at Wilton Motel

Plans for exterior renovation of Club Petaluma (also known as our house) have begun, albeit slowly.  So far, I have collected names and numbers, and gotten two estimates, one for removing the gruesome brickwork on the front, and one for the painting. No work has actually begun, but it is sooooooo close to starting that I can almost smell the paint and taste the plaster (or whatever it is that they will use for the stacked stone that will replace the brick).  My vision should become real before the summer ends, and front row seats are available here for those of you who like that curb appeal thing – I’m anticipating the house finally looking more like it belongs in a nice neighborhood, and less like all it needs is a couch in the front yard, and a muscle car up on blocks in the driveway.

Finally, a little wave to the wireless gods, who decided to show mercy and bestow a decent connection upon Club Petaluma. Jane and Tom and I all thank you, and let’s keep it going, hallelujah!

Let’s pop!

Jack Kerouac by photographer Tom Palumbo, circ...

Image via Wikipedia

A quote by Kerouac has been playing with my brain since last night:

“…the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’ ”

I’m not sure if it’s because it’s June, or because I’m 50….I’m just thinking so much about time, and how little of it I have left.  Before you say,  “Wha-a-a-a-h?,” don’t freak out. I’m healthy, and plan to be around for a while. It’s just that knowing that I’m not 20, or 30 makes me realize that there aren’t that many summers left for me, and the ones that are left (this one, for example) are burning at the speed of light. I think Kerouac died in his forties, and, from what I’ve read about him, lived as much as he could in the short amount of time he was here.  I want to appreciate every second of life, and in doing so, I want to be around people who are doing the same thing. I have no time to be bored – and little time to do the things that I want to do before I end up barking orders for more painkillers to the nearest nurse that walks by in the assisted living center (just kidding; I would lie down in the middle of Pacific Coast HIghway before I voluntarily go to one of those places, and if I ever wind up there, please rescue me as soon as possible. I would rather live out my last days at home, even if I just lie in bed and watch TV; if I go out during a rerun of “I Love Lucy“, at least I will have died the way that I lived, laughing at the silliness of it all).

That being said, I am going to visit my family in Iowa for the July 4th weekend; I haven’t seen some of them for seven years, and some of them for close to forty years, so it should be a great reunion. I don’t fly often, and I’m going to decide to be all right with being up in the air, if it means I get to go somewhere new and see my family. I might have waited longer than most to begin to have adventures, but really, if not now, when? And if all goes well, more adventures will be forthcoming….

“Awww!”

Buddha and Groucho and McConaughey, oh my!

cropped version of Image:Grouchoicon.jpg - &qu...

Image via Wikipedia

Strap yourselves in, friends, because I’m going all over the place tonight, and you must be this tall to ride this ride…Onward!

My renters moved in on Thursday – I am just now getting over one full week of cleaning, moving furniture, buying hardware for the bathroom, renting a dumpster, calling for bulky trash pick-up, having an estate sale (no good at haggling, so the next time I have a bunch of stuff to get rid of, it’s either going on Craigslist, or to Out of the Closet, now my exclusive thrift store for donations, you will understand why as you read on) and waiting…for the man to come over to install the dishwasher, the locksmith, the Salvation Army (who, by the way, never showed – boo, SA!), and several minor anxiety attacks later, everything seems to be resolved, except for a couple of tasks – no emergencies, for the moment, anyway.

I know what you’re saying: “Julie! Why did you wait until the last minute to do….EVERYTHING?”  And you would be entirely justified in saying it; I have no defense, just an overwhelming sense of relief that it’s over, and I can relax.  At one point during last week, I had changed my clothes, since I had been cleaning the bathrooms (I was soaking wet and covered in Soft Scrub – yes, I know it goes on the walls and not on me, smarties), went to the store, and when I returned, discovered that the sweater that I was wearing was inside-out, with a gigantic label showing at the back of my neck. Fabulous.

My last night in the house, I thought about all of the memories that were made there, and was a little sad, because I didn’t want to let go of those memories by having someone else come in and sweep them away.  Then I realized that my memories were always going to be in my mind, and nothing could take them away. Reminds me of a quote: “The only thing that remains the same is change.”  (You gotta take your epiphanies where you find ’em, don’t you? A little Buddha, a little Hereclitus, all on the bathroom wall of a poolhall – talk about a state of flux!)

For me, April is a transitional month; no fantastic movies, it’s the middle of the semester at work, and I have no idea how to dress, because the weather feels like it’s in between winter, spring, and summer.  I have a lot going on right now, aside from my new responsibilities as a landlord; started a yoga class last week, and hoping to make it twice a week (Sunday afternoon yoga in the park, can hardly wait), still painting the kitchen, and planning on finishing the two bathrooms by the middle of the year (fingers crossed). I’m also in the middle of knitting two scarves, reading, getting ready to walk the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon (I’ll be walking 13 miles), and…did I miss anything? No wonder I feel a bit…scattered.  Looking forward to yoga (and a little side order of meditation) to help me find my center – and hoping it’s not made of cream cheese, the way I’ve been eating in the last week.

No fantastic movies, but I did see a good one last week – “Lincoln Lawyer” kept me interested from beginning to end, and not only because these three were in it (someone needs to write a movie and cast Matthew McConaughey, Josh Lucas, and Ryan Phillippe as brothers; seriously, look at them!):

“The Lincoln Lawyer” – good plot, rocking soundtrack, Marisa Tomei and William H. Macy in solid supporting roles, set in Los Angeles, and…sorry, can’t keep my mind on what I’m writing. You should see it – it is good (the book was written by Michael Connelly, also good), and Matthew McConaughey deserves the nice reviews; he also deserves to make more films like this one. And why isn’t Josh Lucas a huge star by now?  What is the holdup, Hollywood? He has shown that he can play both leading man and character roles; give him work, now! Sheesh, what’s a girl gotta do? (Trivia question: both Matthew McConaughey and Josh Lucas have played coaches in two different movies; name those movies! No Googling allowed.)

I will leave you to your Sunday evening ruminations on the state of existence, or the state of blonde, blue-eyed actors who need good scripts, if that’s your idea of a good time. I was thinking of closing with a quote by Buddha, but hey, a little Groucho Marx works too: “Spring in the air!” “What? I should spring in the air, and fall in the lake?” Or something along those lines….you go have a week, now!

Ringing in the New Year with the Marx Brothers

So I’m awake at 5 am on New Year’s Day, only because I nodded out at about 9:30 last night, after a glass of champagne and a little bit of the Marx Brothers movie “Horse Feathers.” TCM was having a Marx Brothers marathon last night; I was hoping to make it through two movies , but sleep fought for priority, and won. I discovered the Marx Brothers on television one afternoon when I was about 14; “Monkey Business”  had just started, and it was the scene where the four of them first appear onscreen, having stowed away in barrels aboard a cruise ship. I loved them instantly – bought the book “Why A Duck?”, read both Groucho‘s and Harpo‘s biographies, and hung their poster on my wall.  Watching them on New Year’s is becoming a tradition for me — even if I’m out, I can always catch one of their movies when I come home, since they’re on all night.

*****

Since I mentioned the idea of not making resolutions for the new year, but rather, forming intentions, I’ll start with this one (and yes, I do dress like this when I go to the gym – what?):

Here’s another one:

And, along with the exercise, since I’ve been eating like a twelve-year old at a slumber party, this follows:

These are all pretty standard, and I think that by intending to do all of them this year, I won’t be as disappointed in myself if I don’t follow through all of the time.  I’m not the most disciplined person when it comes to certain things, so maybe my intention should be to be more disciplined, and just let it go.  Actually, just letting it go is a pretty good intention on its own, isn’t it?

The phrase “tabula rasa” came to me this morning – a new year is like a blank slate (or a blank iPad, if John Locke had been born a little later); what will we write this year?

I’m going to let Groucho have the last word (since if he were here, he would probably take it anyway) –

“I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.”

You bet your life, Groucho –


Untying knots

Ick, sick at home. I think today is the first day of fall, isn’t it?  If it is, my being sick would make perfect sense. I always seem to get sick when the season changes, and also when the craziness at work subsides.  There is still much to do with my mother’s estate; I am planning on getting her house ready to sell, so now I have to become an expert at “staging,” which, in my understanding, is making a home as presentable and desirable as possible to get it sold. I have had some advice in this area, which has been very interesting for me, as I have absolutely no experience, nor any idea what I’m doing.

At the same time, I am beginning to make some slight progress on the house; the roof will be repaired next week, and one of the bathrooms (the one with walls – long story) is now deep blue and green, with a new sink and mirror.  The next step is new tile, and a new shower..I will definitely post pictures as rooms are completed; my house is a complete “before” picture, so I will be beyond thrilled when everything is transformed.  I know the house will never be completely done, but I already love having color on the walls, and am motivated to put more on other walls as soon as possible.

I had a massage yesterday, with a massage therapist named Mike that I’ve seen twice.  We discovered yesterday that I am a bundle of knots, and that I even have an incredible amount of tension in my jaws and temples.  I have a lot of very stressful, recurring dreams, about tsunamis, giant snakes, insects, rotting apartments  (the same rotting apartment in more than one dream; one that I’ve never seen in real life, and it feels like home whenever I dream about it), and being on the run from the police (I’m not on the run from the police, honestly; apparently, I enjoy being on the run in my dreams, though), and yesterday morning I woke up with my teeth sunk into my bottom lip. Mike tells me I’m holding a lot of tension – yup, biting through my bottom lip would be a good sign of that, I’ll bet. I need to start doing this:

And this:

Ok, maybe not that; maybe this:

I gave up yoga, but now I think I need to start it up again.  It’s hard for me, because I get annoyed at the moves, and I want it to be over – but if I concentrate on what I’m doing, I feel like a new person at the end of the class.

*****

I caught up on “Mad Men” today, and couldn’t help but draw similarities between Don Draper and Jax Teller.  Both are bad boys who are at the top of their social structures, with father issues and big appetites for women and power. Their uniforms may be different, but they fight some of the same battles, both internal and external.  And here they are, just in case you’re more visual than verbal:

Obssessed? Maybe – it is so nice to know that television hasn’t completely gone south, and that these two dramas (and many others I just can’t seem to find time to watch yet) are better than most of the movies I’ve seen this year.

Gotta go – started reading “On The Road,” (never read it, and it’s in my “started but never finished” bookcase), and I’m excited to get a good part of it read tonight.  My rule is to read one fiction and one non-fiction book at a time, and I’m also reading a book of letters between Kerouac and Ginsberg, which I think is a nice complement to “On The Road.”  I don’t know if any of this is interesting, but I enjoyed writing it, so here you go!