Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What I found.

Over the last weeks while researching other things I've come across some pictures that made me laugh at...
the whimsy
the ironythe sweetness
the perpexity
the hilarity

...of life and us in it. Hope you laugh today!

Monday, August 16, 2010

The way here.

I’ve been going through a bit of a transformation lately. It’s been a few years in the process, but the chrysalis is opening, and the view is great!

I think the most recent revelation in this evolution has been in finding that I’m sincerely content to be where I am while at the same time looking forward to all the years yet to come. I’m actually excited for 50, though not wanting to miss a second of all the years in between.

This is in contrast to how I was living. Internally I felt that there just wasn’t time – everything had to be rushed and was eminent because life was in fast forward. While I always was one to “suck the marrow” from life, this frenetic, whirlwind living I think really started after September 11th. Time froze while at the same time I felt like it went into overdrive. I never got out of that gear – not really. Not internally. I was almost in a panic to do and see all that for which I hoped and planned. I knew my mortality and was putting all sorts of energy into racing against it.

Suddenly, though, I feel like I have time. I’m resting in knowing me; knowing I accomplish what I set out to do, so it will happen. In the mean time, I’m here. That’s kind of great. My mortality hasn’t changed, just my perspective on how to be with it.

There’s another level to this, too. It’s the whole thing about feeling and looking (and acting!) younger than I am... This has always been a fantastic thing in my book. (What woman doesn’t want to frequently be taken for 10 years younger than she is??) Now, however, I’m really quite proud and grateful to be my age. Because it took to here to be so grounded and solid in who I am. No thoughts of what others think or how my family might react. My perspectives and beliefs won’t be altered by other’s judgments... no matter how much I might love them.

Considering my world view is so far from my entire, very large and well loved, extended family as well as the community I was so vigorously involved in for my first 35 years of life – the only community I’ve known, in fact - that is an extreme statement. Their disagreements and judgments on my Weltanschauung won’t cause me to waiver from it. If I am very blessed, they might one day understand I haven’t left my faith – only expanded it. But I can’t concern myself with the reactions of others, positively or negatively, when it comes to this subject. I embrace and accept others where they are at... I don’t ask them to do it/think it/feel it my way. I try to meet them where they are at and hopefully I will grow by embracing and understanding them.

Now, to looking young... sure, it gets me in more places and gives me access to more people who wouldn’t normally talk to (or date!) someone my actual age, but I love what those extra years have brought me. Suffering.

Because it’s only when you come out on the other side of deep pain and loss, that engulfing kind of brokenness, that you know your true strength. You know how deep your courage runs. Your footing there is solid and unwavering. You know yourself utterly. And can rest in that.

When you get there, to that place of peace with the ever-present pain, you will find real joy and passion again (likely in fits and starts, but you will find it). In fact, it will be richer because of the freedom taming such a ferocious beast brings. You will be full.

What a miraculous place to be. Hooray for aging!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

What they mean.

Words. I never realized how much I prize them. The look of them; the sound of them. Where they come from; how they came to be. Why they mean what they do. I love words.

Specific words. Elegance. Passion. Art. They hold pictures. Home. Family. Friends. They hold emotion. Adventure. Faith. Live. They hold hope. Explore. Connect. Create. They hold my soul. Love. It holds everything.

Even in my art, words are vital. I love having them around me. To look at. To consider. To embrace.

I guess this demonstrates what I value. A story. How it is told. The words it uses. A person. How she describes herself. What I see in her. What it communicated. And faith. Sharing hope, asking for help, expressing gratitude… all in words.

Perhaps because I am physically separate from all of my friends and most of my family, the depth of meaning that words take on is even greater when a hug cannot be had or a laugh cannot be heard. A word can be felt. They have texture. I feel them.

Verve. Vivacity. Vivid. They are favorites, and hopefully me.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Where we love.

My wonderful friend Courtney is getting married today to the love of her life, Rebecca. In the world I come from, this would not be okay… but I don’t think it’s okay that when two people find that rarest and most illusive of things, deep and abiding love, that anyone would ever take issue with their union. That they have to go out of state to legally make this bond is very sad, indeed. I am acutely grateful they have such grace as to embrace this forced journey rather than begrudge it.

I have had few friends in the course of my life who have given to me as much as Courtney has over the last few years. She has been a light. She has supported me in so many, and to me, miraculous, ways. In short, she has been a friend. But in truth, she has become a sister.

We have shared so much with each other during this time, but what was so beautiful to me as I got to know her was HOW she and Rebecca loved each other. It is protective and gentle, yet fierce and vibrant. It is both tactile and cerebral. It is comfortable and natural, yet intense and passionate. But most of all, it is true and enduring.

I am so thrilled that today they join together in this way; that they commit to each other openly and lastingly. How magnificent!

Deep joy, great peace, and lasting hope I wish for you both as you begin your journey together... you already have abiding love.

With all my heart.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ten on Tuesday.

It's been a while since I've done one of these. I sort of morphed questions from a couple different entries on the "official" list site into this one list because a lot of times the questions just didn't apply to me. Hope you enjoy this "get to know me" post - and I'd love to know the answers some of you all have to these as well!

1. What is your favorite summer television show?

Probably Psych. It never fails to make me laugh – usually hard. But after the last episode, Memphis Beat has caught my attention in a big way. Though not a comedy per se, I’m STILL laughing at parts of that one! And it has great music, too.

2. If it was raining so hard on a Saturday that you couldn’t leave your house, what would you spend the day doing?

It would never rain so hard that I couldn’t go play in it! (I’d jump in puddles, go for a run, maybe even go sliding in the mud, or simply taste it on my tongue. And yes, I've been out in a hurricane.) But my favorite thing to do after coming in from playing in it is to cozy up with a good book, a cup of cocoa or a really exquisite tea (depending on the book), and if I’m lucky a fire... and listen to the tattoo of the rain while I sink deeper into the comfy chair. (I neither have a comfy chair nor a working fireplace, so this really would be an indulgence!)

3. What was your favorite candy as a child?

I don’t remember, but I’m pretty certain it involved chocolate. Oddly, I remember my brother’s favorites, though. Oh! But my favorite thing to get with my “treat ticket” at the “snack shack” after a little league game was Chick-o-Stick. Soooooo fantastic!

4. Did you get an allowance? What was it based on? What did you do with it?

You know, I must have, but I honestly don’t remember it lasting long. I always had chores and responsibilities, though.

5. What is your favorite flower?

Peonies. Vibrant, sassy-yet-elegant, delightful, diverse... guess that sums me up as much as the flower!

6. Do you prefer time with family or time with friends?

Hmm. Most of my friends are very far away, so I covet that opportunity to spend time with them. I have a fantastic family with whom I love to hang out, but lately I’ve realized I’m not really that “in sync” with most of them both philosophically and because so many of them are married with families, so time with them is still good, but not what it was.

7. Looney Tunes, Tiny Toons, or Animaniacs?

Animaniacs – a gazillion percent. Enjoy all the original Looney Tunes, but never ever liked Tiny Toons.

8. Best daytime talk show: Oprah, Ellen, The Doctors, Tyra (ha!), Dr. Oz, or Dr. Phil?

I’ve never seen any save the first two, and of those I’d choose Ellen for sure... but honestly if I’m watching TV in the daytime for whatever reason, I’d rather watch a rerun or something I’ve tivoed or a video. Oh! Or Craig Ferguson on the computer! But Ellen is great, I must say.

9. Would you rather have the power of invisibility or the ability to fly?

Well if I were really to choose a superpower, it’d be teleportation... but of these two, I’d choose flying, hands down. The only thing being invisible is good for, it seems to me, is stealing things... or prank scaring people.

10. Name 1 thing you love about being an adult.

The experience gained. The ability to be so solid in who I am. To know what I know and what I don’t know without being embarrassed or intimidated by either. To be comfortable in my skin and content in the journey. That’s more than one. Sorry. Okay – the experience gained (and the perspective that gives).

Monday, August 9, 2010

Psyched out.

My last installment of USA Network original shows is most certainly not the least. Psych is in the midst of it’s fifth season and is going strong. It is a different breed from all the other shows I’ve talked about, more akin to Monk… but sillier. And funnier.

Shawn is a guy who was trained all his life by his cop dad to notice details, quizzed incessantly during his childhood, he was groomed to be a detective. Gus was his uptight best friend. But Shawn was too much of a screw off (likely because of his dad’s zealousness) and didn’t go the cop route. But with his skills he could solve crimes. One day he got blamed because he knew too much when he called in a tip, so thinking fast, he claimed to be psychic. Then he went and spent Gus’ money to create Psych Detective Agency.

Shawn and Gus are at the heart of the humor. There have been episodes where I couldn’t breathe for laughing so hard – where I had to go back and watch again because I missed what came next, but before I got there I was again laughing too hard and missed it again. The humor is a lot about pop culture, some about 80’s references since that was their childhood, and then just their general bizarre-best-friends humor. Admittedly there are times when I cringe for their being too ridiculous, but mostly I just laugh. Hard.

Their relationship, though, is something to behold. Dulé Hill (from West Wing) plays Gus, and he is the yang to James Roday’s slacker Shawn. It’s this ongoing battle with an intense bond going back years. The struggle and the tension meshed with the history and the camaraderie is what really makes this show work.

Corbin Bernsen (from L.A. Law) plays Shawn’s dad who often begrudgingly or unknowingly helps, when that’s the last thing he wants to do because he thinks his son is not taking anything seriously in life, etc. The detectives that regularly (have to) work alongside Shawn and Gus (as they have been contracted to work cases with the police) are hilarious, too.

There is so much about this show that is right. When the show The Mentalist stole the premise but made it more “legitimate” as a drama instead of a comedy, the characters of Psych even poked fun at it. This season they’ve even been poking fun at themselves; at how they have Shawn figure things out. I love it!

I’ve debated sharing one of my favorite scenes ever, but I don’t know how it would work without a little background of the characters and the start of that episode… you just can’t get how off-the-wall funny it is without having the scene set.So I’ll settle for this quote from a recent episode:

(Detective) Juliet: Who ever said work was supposed to be fun?

Shawn: Ron Jeremy for starters… but that’s beside the point.

It was just in the middle of nothing, and plenty of fine, upstanding folks won’t get it… but it slayed me.

If ever there was a show for ridiculous fun, it’s this one. If you’ve never tried it, give it a chance. It might be too low-brow for you, but you might just love it.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Looking good.

I discovered this amazing program when organizing my eBooks. It’s called Calibre. It’s free and amazingly works with all eReaders, including Kindle from what I understand. (So if you have one, you should check it out!)

It does all sorts of things, including converting files into whatever is best for your eReader. But most of all, it organizes… so therefore I’m in love with it. It’s like iTunes for books – only better!

One of the features it has is a book cover scroll through option, like album art in the afore mentioned iTunes. I really had a lot of fun when setting up my library choosing the coolest covers to use. I thought I’d show you some of the best.

I think this cover makes the book look
far more interesting that I understand it is.
Covers from the 1950's & 60's tell such great stories on their own.

I love everything about this. It's evoking.
It's at once vintage and modern - my favorite combination.

I wanted to read this before, but now
I'm dying to know what it's about!

This is very much my style.
I can't explain why except to say at once it is
simplistic and visually impacting. It holds emotion.

Oh my gosh! Completely irresistible!

Come on - this just interests me.
Fascinated to know how this cool art
relates to the story.

There is a whole set of these super-cool covers.
It was hard to select just one.

So graphic, it expresses so much...

This one is actually a picture of the book
with a reflection of the Guinness sign at a pub
in Ireland (author is Irish) - fabulous!

This was an early cover which is
apparently much sought after...
with good reason in my opinion.

It was really hard to keep it to only ten, I found so many interesting ones. Love to hear what you think of them!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

On a role.

In honor of my brother’s birthday (because he’s a fan), I’m talking about Burn Notice today.

Burn Notice has been around a few seasons so you may have caught an episode here or there. It was the first of these clean, fun shows with characters that are relatable because they grow and have emotional depth.

This one is about a spy, Michael Weston, who was wrongfully kicked out (burned) and is trying to make it right. To make money he works different jobs helping people in the kind of trouble the police can’t help with. There’s lots of explosions and cool “jobs” in this one. I love how with voiceovers they sort of explain the MacGyver way of getting it done as a spy, often with a touch of humor.

The show is clever in many ways, not the least of which is how they keep the audience coming back when Michael never actually gets what he most wants – to be back in. But the relationships he builds, often begrudgingly because he wants to be back out there again without ties, really makes this show something special.

For instance, they convey serious depth in the relationship with his mom who is played by Sharon Gless of “Cagney and Lacey” fame. There are so many nuances and adjustments on both sides – honestly it’s phenomenal writing as well as acting when it comes to their relationship and the perils it’s fraught with, yet how much they both fight for it.

Another great element relationally are his two “sidekicks.” First, Sam, an ex-spy who once turned on him has now become the person he can really rely on to get his back. He’s a lot of fun, but no less complex than the rest. And Fiona, an Irish ex-girlfriend who was a bomb maker and general roustabout for the IRA. Somehow with that resume, she still has a heart. They are ever in this love-hate struggle, and it is always engrossing. But she and Sam are his crew, the two people he can count on… his best friend and his girlfriend.

I’ve watched this in fits and spurts in recent seasons because it was too much into the jobs for the people in need and what compels me to keep watching is these relationships, but in the end I always get caught up. Because it’s worth it. And because it’s something other than hockey to talk to my brother about.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Reading revolution.

For some time I was contemplating, then researching like mad, the potential purchase of an eBook reader. Two weeks ago I finally did do so… and it wasn’t a Kindle.

I always thought I’d just never get into having a digital reader. I mean, I adore my personal (and quite large) library of books. It’s always been a dream to have a room in my home designated strictly for books and reading. (One day…)

However, as I continued to prepare for moving abroad I kept looking at my bulging shelves of to-read books puzzling over how to manage accessing them once there. Do I re-purchase? Do I ship – there and back? Because books are such an important part of my life, it was a frustrating dilemma.

Somewhere in the midst of that quandary, a digital book reader started to seem like a good option because even if I had to repurchase a book, it would likely be cheaper this way. When considering it a few years ago, it wouldn’t have been an affordable option, but now it seemed it might be.

So, as is my way, I looked into every kind of reader I could discover. I read up on each of them, finding the benefits and disadvantages of each. What I realized was it really is about your personal needs and likes.

I purchased a beautiful Sony Touch eReader. It’s gorgeous. And red. :D (No, being red is not why I got it, but it definitely tilted me in it’s favor!) For me this was ideal. The biggest selling point was that I can underline and write in the margins of each book, which is my common practice, even in novels. But further, it’s fantastic to turn the page with my finger sliding across the screen as it makes it somehow feel more like a real book.

The Kindle wasn’t at all ideal for two reasons beyond not having the options I just mentioned. First, in Europe where I'm planning to move, and elsewhere in the world, to download directly to the device without a computer costs considerably more. And I don’t mind using my computer anyway. Second, and much more vitally, because of Amazon’s proprietary system, you can’t download other forms of eBooks. There are hundreds of thousands of free books on Google Books that the Kindle doesn’t provide access to. To some that wouldn’t much matter, but I enjoy the classics and the majority of them are, in fact, in the public domain and therefore free.

There are other fun features that caused the eReader to outshine the others for me, including the ability to group books in collections, but I think I’ve gushed enough. I will say, when comparing it to a Kindle side-by-side today, the only thing the Kindle seems to score higher on is that it’s screen is ever-so-slightly less glary. I’ve a feeling that has to do with the eReader being a touch screen, because Sony has been making these devices far longer (and is an electronics company rather than a book seller as well) and is therefore quite a bit farther along in perfecting and debugging. Besides, the shine factor really wasn’t such a significant difference and the eReader wins, in my opinion, in every other way.

So for my lifestyle and future plans, the scales just about fell on top of my beloved Sony Touch eReader! As a side note, it’s really kind of great to think about how green this option is. Oh, plus it was on sale!

I never knew how powerful it would feel to carry around a library with me. I swear to you, it’s absurd I know, but I am nearing 800 books – all free one way or another - on the device (in my defense, three authors take up about a third of that number)… and I love that at any time I can access any one of them. Oh, and I’ve been able to find over half of the titles on my shelves for free as well, so I’m overjoyed!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Back in the game.

Wow! How did I get so far behind??

Next on the list of USA Network original shows is Royal Pains. The premise behind it is a top ER doctor from New York was wrongly blamed for a patient's death and lost his job. This led to him loosing his fiancée and his home. Enter his his little brother who takes him to the Hamptons, drags him to a party, and as a result he becomes a concierge doctor for the ultra-rich.

The background out of the way, the characters in the show are a lot of fun. I’ve always liked the lead actor Mark Feuerstein, but honestly, though good, he doesn’t keep me watching. It’s his character Hank's little brother Evan who keeps me coming back. Evan is one of those people who drives you nuts, yet you find yourself in his corner time and again. He’s endearing, sometimes hilarious, and often frustrating. But the fact that his character grows and evolves is, yet again, what makes this show worth watching.

I also find it refreshing to have a talented actress who is Indian playing the clever, compassionate physician’s assistant Divya. Not the most common casting. She is another character worth watching as she banters and manages her way through working with brothers.

I must mention that this show has some well know actors guesting, like Henry Winkler playing the brother's father, Campbell Scott is the patron, then also Andrew McCarthy and Marcia Gay Harden have each been in it a few times. It's always interesting to see faces you know (and for me in the case of Campbell Scott to see a face I love!) bring something fresh to an enjoyable show.

Again, though, what sets the show apart is how the characters have to deal with, well, life. They live and work in a kind of wonderland, but they have to face normal everyday life issues. Most of all, they have to face themselves, their past, and family. Yet somehow the show is still light and fun and worth relaxing to.