Things I learned this week (August 29 – September 2)

Hello, September.

I thought you’d never get here. 

That means there are only 21 days left until the official start of fall and 114 days until Christmas.  Tick-tock.  Better start working on that list and checking it twice.

Since last Friday, we’ve been allotted a few passing showers – though temperatures have not been any less scorching.  However, in the midst of one random rain shower on Tuesday morning, I believe I smelled a hint of fall.  Or maybe it was just this cold Megan was kind enough to share.  Hard to tell.

This week I learned:

…that I sadly, I jumped the gun last week when I reported there were no new bear attacks.  It seems that on Friday, they found the body of a hiker killed by a grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park.  This makes two for them this year.  You can read more about this attack (here).  I think something hinky is going on with this nation’s bear population.  Perhaps they are plotting a hostile take over.

…that reading page after page of text regarding dawning civilizations (the Egyptians, Phoenicians, Arameans, Philistines, Hebrews, Assyrian, Persians…) right before bed will give you very bizarre dreams.   I also learned in regard to these readings, that the hours I spent glued to A & E’s Mysteries of the Bible and the History Channel’s Engineering an Empire were not in vain, contrary to what my family said.

…that sometimes you just have to say enough is enough.  No matter how much it hurts.

…that hearing my beautiful, sweet-natured eleven year old daughter announce that something, “just sucks, mom” and that she just didn’t “give a crap” will leave me speechless and floundering for a response.  (It should be noted that this was her way of voicing her frustration over something that happened at school and not in response to something I said or did to her.  There would have been a decidedly different outcome if that had been the case.  I don’t do sass.)

…that Dick Cheney still reminds me of the Penguin.

The Penguin/Dick Cheney

…that Mother Nature seems to be having a bad case of PMS.  Tornados, fires, floods, endless scorching temperatures, hurricanes.  I think somebody needs a hug and a big box of chocolates – the really good expensive ones and not that milk chocolate crap.

…that I miss the music of my youth; the music of my parents’ youth.  You know, music that had a soul.  By and large, popular music today sucks – no soul.  Sure it’s catchy – gets stuck in your head – but it has no relevance and therefore, no staying power.  I say this now because I watched today’s biggest artists “perform” their over played, auto-tuned bullshit on the VMAs this weekend.  I’ve come to the conclusion that humanity, as we know it, is doomed.  I blame the hip-hop.  Seriously.

…that the local weather folks have pulled the old switcheroo on us again this week.  When we began the week, we were to be in the 90s by Thursday with a good chance of rain by the weekend.  Now, it looks like we will have to wait until next week for relief from the temperatures and can kiss the promised chance of rain goodbye.  I think the weather folks are spin doctors and liars.  Just like our politicians.

…that sometimes bears get what is coming to them.  You can read about this heroic Alaskan hairdresser who saved her dog by punching a bear in the snout (here).  She is my hero.

…that in all the excitement of the last couple of weeks, I forgot that my favorite sporting event began on Monday.  I’ve missed the first week of competition at the U.S. Open.  I hear Robin Soderling has dropped out.  Maybe Rafael Nadal will retire, as well.  I’d like to see my boyfriend favorite player, Roger Federer, win again.

…that I am suddenly hungry for some pumpkin pie.

…that there is a Mrs. Smith’s pumpkin pie left over from last Thanksgiving still in my freezer.  Wonder if it’s any good?  Hm.

…that I just can’t resist clicking on the headline “Raccoon Found in Naked Man’s Car Near NASCAR Track”.  I understand that it takes all kinds of people to make this little world of ours go ’round, but come on.  Shouldn’t there be some sort of law against this kind of stupid.  Anti-reproduction clause, at the very least?

…last but not least – our week-ending awwww moment:

Caucasian Leopard cubs (AP Photo/dadp/Uwe Meinhold)

Until next time…

Things I learned this week (August 22 – 26)

So, here we are again – another week successfully muddled through, with virtually no collateral damage.  That makes for a good week, in my book. 

For those of you that pay attention to these things, there are only 27 days left until the official beginning of the fall season and only 120 shopping days left until Christmas. 

I’m looking forward to the beginning of fall, myself.  Though, I don’t know why.  I live in Texas.  Mother Nature tends to forget about us down here in the Lone Star State when she is handing out seasonal weather.  I’m starting to think that she doesn’t care for us all that much.  Or maybe we are being punished for something.

Rick Perry, perhaps? 

Just saying.

I learned this week…

Megan the Wise

…that my daughter is wise beyond her years.  She sat down at the dinner table and out of blue said, “So many years gone by so fast, huh?”  She’s had a lot of these little zingers lately.  I’m not sure how she became so mature or if it is even a good thing, but her frankness warms my heart.  I am so blessed to have her in my life.

…that even at my age, and with more than a few semesters under my belt now, I still get butterflies on the first day of school.

…that an educational institute’s library is still one of my top five places to people watch.  The eclectic group of individuals who choose to begin their quest for higher education at a Community College make for great character inspiration, as do the facility that are determined to teach them.  I spent two days this week taking it all in and playing my favorite “what if” game.  Perhaps I will share some of the things I witnessed with you in my next blog entry.

…that even though I am not a proponent of war, I am thrilled to see Gaddafi’s regime come crashing down.  Those of you old enough to remember Lockerbie, Scotland will surely share my view.  [If you would like to read more about the bombing of Pan Am flight 103, you can do so (here), as well as (here).] Now, the question is:  Will the liberated Lybians embrace this opportunity for a new beginning, free from oppression, or will they squander it away, allowing an even bigger evil to rear its ugly head.  I guess time will tell.

Jeff Mitchell/Getty Images

that I found this little tidbit regarding the founder of IKEA very interesting.  For those of you who don’t know, I loathe the Swedish furniture maker with the strength of a thousand suns.  I have no real problem with their products, per se.  I will readily admit that my favorite writing chair is from IKEA – though my choice of decor tends to lean more toward traditional than modern.  My biggest problem with the store is in its design and layout.  I don’t appreciate being herded like little lab rats through a never-ending maze while enduring the endless stupidity and rudeness of those packed like sardines around me.  I want to get in, get what I need, and leave.  An impossibility in IKEA.  Oh, and don’t get me started on the floor.  I have never left that store without an ache that runs from my right knee down to my right big toe.  Never.

…that I was mistaken in my belief, or perhaps hope is a more adequate word, that the middle school parents would have a better grasp of pick up and drop off rules.  Their children may have matured over the summer, but sadly, they have not.  Yesterday, I saw a white Chrysler 300 (with pimpin’ rims) parked backwards – complete with illuminated reverse lights – in the moving (in the opposite direction) carpool lane.

…that the weather folks on the nightly news are just screwing with us.  We might have fallen for the arbitrary 98 or 99 degree high temperature prediction stuck in at the end of the ten-day forecast, the first few half-dozen times, but now it’s just cruel to dangle such utter nonsense – complete meteorological fabrications – in front of our noses.  Haven’t we suffered enough?

10 day forecast courtesy of http://www.weather.com

…that adaptation is born out of necessity.  A couple of weeks ago I came back from vacation to find that most of the stationary bikes at my gym, including my beloved #3, were gone.  “Out for repair”, the pimply boy behind the counter told me.  I was forced to get my cardio workout on the elliptical.  I am surprised to report that I don’t hate it.  I’ve figured out how not to fall off and how to adjust it to fit my short, stubby stride.  As always, I judge the success of a workout by the amount of sweat dripping from my body and the level of numbness I feel in my legs when I’m finished.  The elliptical delivered on both.  This does not mean that it will replace the spinner as my workout apparatus of choice – I am a biker, through and through.  *HA!  I made a joke there.  See?*

…that though I searched high and low, I was unable to find any new reports of bear attacks.  However, I did come across another Great White shark attack.  This time off the coast of South Africa.  I don’t wish to belittle such a tragedy with insensitivity, but I must conclude that this surfer was either demented or had never watched the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week.  Every episode I’ve ever seen features dumbasses shark enthusiasts in boats off the coast of South Africa surrounded by large numbers of these predatory fish.  You can read this surfer’s story (here).

…that insects can elicit the occasional awwww moment:

Miroslaw Swietek/liveScience

Okay.  Perhaps that was being a tad too generous, but you have to admit that the above photograph had you leaning in a little closer to your computer screen, musing, “What is that?”

My work here is done.

Things I learned this week (August 8-12)

Well, we’ve made it through another week.  That means we are one step closer to the end of this nightmare summer and the beginning of a refreshing fall, full of new and exciting possibilities – and lower temperatures.  But before we get too caught up in fantasizing about day time highs under the century mark, let’s take a minute to explore the useful, and not so useful, things I’ve learned this week.

This week I learned…

…that sometimes you just need a Red Bull.  Even if that Red Bull is inside Madonna’s refrigerator.

…that moving heavy boxes from a high perch to the floor can cause a hip flexor injury.  Who knew?  Though, I shouldn’t be surprised.  I did get golfer’s elbow from falling off a ladder while painting my bathroom last year.  An aging body is a strange thing.

…that I can mark camping in Norway off my bucket list.  You are either going to have to take my word for it or Google it yourself because the photo is just too gruesome to link.  (note: reference campers, polar bear, and Norway)

Dirty Dancing circa 1987

…that nothing in Hollywood is sacred.  I think I am going to have to devote another blog entry to this abomination.

…that for $32 you can get an ice cream sundae that smells (and I guess tastes) just like Justin Bieber.  So, I tried to think of something witty to say in response to this, but…yea…I got nothing.  I’m sure a few of my fellow WCers will do their part to fill the void.  In fact, I look forward to it.

…that reading your account statements from Fidelity Investments can be a lot like watching a Vegas magic act.  One minutes it there; the next, it’s gone.  My advise:  save yourself the ulcer and don’t even bother opening the statements until this storm passes.  If it ever passes.

…that the Stasi were not a fashion forward bunch as noted in the photo below.  For some reason, the first thing that popped into my head were scenes from the 1982 Clint Eastwood movie Firefox.

Reuters

…that after enduring 40 straight days of 100+ degree temperature, nothing is more beautiful than watching heavy clouds and an outflow boundary roll into the area.  No rain but that 84 degrees was mighty nice while it lasted.  Alas, it’s back to reality.  There are, after all, several weeks of summer yet to come.

…that just when my schedule is about to change and make it very difficult for me to write as often as I’d like, I find myself more inspired in my novel than ever.  I’ve had all summer – two whole days a week – to dedicate to full on, balls to the wall writing and all I’ve done (for the most part) is write these silly little blog entries.

…that in spite of the foregoing, I feel that I’ve grown both as a writer and a human being because of these silly little blog entries.  Putting my thoughts out there, for better or worse, has given me confidence.

…that the reappearance of the high school cheer moms at the gym means the gymnastic moms won’t be far behind.  There goes my peace and quiet.

…that every week should end with an “awwww” moment:

"Hold still! You've got a little schumtz on your face." Ilya Naymushin/Reuters

Awwww.

Things I learned this week (August 1 – August 5)

What day is it?

It’s Friday.  You know what that means.  Yep, time for me to bestow upon you the new bits of knowledge I acquired this week.  Think you can handle the excitement?  I think you can.  Let’s go!

"Nympheas" Claude Monet circa 1920-1926

I learned this week…

…that my skin isn’t nearly as thick as I thought.  Or maybe it’s just that I’ve had enough of the cyber-anonymity induced nastiness that seems to have inflicted everyone with a keyboard and an internet connection.  I think it’s time to bring back basic human civility.

…that I should never make the mistake of illegally parking in the capital city of Lithuania.

…that Utah governor and presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman plays piano (he used to play keyboards in a band called Wizard back in the day), likes Cherry Garcia ice cream, and is a fan of the Grateful Dead.  I think the good people of Utah have been holding out on us.

…that the idea of Texas Governor Rick Perry becoming a contender for the top office makes me want to vomit and move to Europe.  I was okay with him as long as he stayed in Austin, hidden from view, but to unleash him on the entire country…well, we might as well just lie down in the street and await the coming apocalypse.  Doesn’t make sense, does it?  I can’t explain it myself.

…that I am to be the grandmother of a bouncing baby girl.

…that I seriously regret complaining about the frigid temperatures and ice we were plagued with just six short months ago.  I sincerely apologize to my Karma and beg forgiveness – and relief from the suffocating heat.

Ten day forecast. - ugh.

…that not writing every day doesn’t make me any less of a writer.  Distractions are a good thing.  In moderation, of course.

Central Park Zoo peacock

that sometimes you just need to get the hell out of dodge.

…that “The cliché “start your novel with action” has a flaw—and it’s a major one: What good is the action if it isn’t grounded in context that’s important to the story or draws you to the main character? It’s much, much better to start your story with tension, like a character conflict or a character who’s not getting what he wants. This gives the reader a reason to feel connected.”  – Brian Klem, Writer’s Digest

…that MTV turned thirty this week.  In its inception, MTV was innovative and just plain cool.  It certainly shaped my exposure to popular music.  Now, thirty years later, is it still as ground breaking?  Well, you will just have to wait for my upcoming blog to find out my thoughts on this.  And I have lots of thoughts on this subject.  Shocking, right?

…that nothing beats my homemade sauce after eating out for a week

….that I am captivated by this face and the sage intelligence I see lurking behind his eyes.  I wonder what is he thinking?  What has he seen in his lifetime behind bars?  If he could talk, what would he tell us about ourselves?

Issouf Sanogo/AFP - Getty Images

Wednesday’s woes.

“Wednesday’s child is full of woe.” – Monday’s Child (nursery rhyme)

“Some days are born bad.” Sweet Thursday, John Steinbeck – Chapter 14, Lousy Wednesday.

Wednesday – that day of the week that falls just before Thursday and right after Tuesday.  I know, you’ve heard that before but now it just makes me smile and think of my friends over at Wikipedia. 

Hump Day.  That’s what they call it around my office.  I suppose it’s because that as of 5 o’clock Wednesday afternoon you’ll have successfully made it up the arduous climb that is the beginning of the week and will be rewarded with an easy descent to fabulous Friday and a weekend of freedom from your labors.  Of course, if you have read my previous blogs you will know that Friday is just a sad, drunk who has been recently murdered by crazy Tuesday.  I guess there’s always Saturday to look forward to, but I think she ran off with Monday and hasn’t come back yet.  I’ll get back to you on that.

As I often do, I wonder what Wednesday is really like beneath all the hype.  There’s a lot of pressure that goes into being the beacon of hope for so many – that point at which the drones finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Has he embraced this role?  Or is he more like Friday, rebelling against expectations by running headlong down a path of self-destruction? 

I like to think of him as the voice of reason in a sea of dysfunction.  A sort of cheerleader/self-help guru, talking the other days down from the ledge, imploring them to make good choices with their lives.  Perhaps he is regarded as a killjoy by the more willful days of the week.  Friday certainly would think of him as a stick in the mud but his girlfriend, Sunday, might be secretly turned on by Wednesday’s unflappable persona. 

But what if Wednesday is indeed a child full of woe?  What if hidden beneath his quick smiles and logical words, lies a deeply wounded soul.  No one would ever suspect. He is the master of the facade having had years to practice it to perfection.  Though, to be fair, it wasn’t all that hard.  The others are enveloped within their own train wreck lives, blind to the pain that lurks behind his eyes.  They take his presence and support for granted, piling their trials and tribulations upon his back, never once thinking that it might all be too much for him.  That he might break beneath the pressure.  

Until that day he does. 

Break.   

Standing on a ledge looking down at the traffic below, Wednesday searches for the strength to go on – one good reason why he shouldn’t take that last step forward right off the edge.  The pain would surely end then, right?  Who would notice if I’m gone?  Who would care?  They certainly wouldn’t, they never had before.  He takes a deep breath and just as he is about to end it all, he hears a noise behind him.  A whisper of words.

“I care.”

He turns to find Sunday, standing there with a gentle smile playing on her lips, her hair blowing in the wind.  She repeats herself and extends a hand.  Wednesday looks at it and then at her face.  He sees the friendship etched there, maybe even something more.  For the first time, he doesn’t feel so alone.  His eyes stray to the ledge beneath his feet, to the street far below – then back to her.  Life is all about choices and he is at a crossroads, unsure of where to go from here.  Then, something blossoms deep within his chest, something he thought long dead.  

He takes her hand. 

And allows her to be the voice of reason in his sea of dysfunction.  

“Sometimes you put walls up not to keep people out, but to see who cares enough to break them down.” Anonymous

 

***During my half-assed research, I found this interesting article which referenced a recent (2009) study that found 25% of suicides occur on Wednesdays.

Now that I’ve thoroughly depressed us all…

Forsaken Friday

“It is bad luck to fall out of a thirteenth story window on Friday”  American Proverb

Indeed.

After much badgering from my devoted followers – all five of them – I’ve decided to continue on with my personality analyses of the days of the week.  Today’s victim – Friday.   

Friday, that day sandwiched between Thursday and Saturday (as always, thank you Wikipedia).  He’s arguably the most beloved day of the week with ardent worshipers numbering in the millions.  They come together to sing his praises with Facebook statuses, cute tweets declaring TGIF, and, of course, with songs.  The Cure fell in love on Friday, Nancy Sinatra proclaimed herself “Friday’s Child” in this bluesy offering, and who can forget tween internet pop “sensation” Rebecca Black’s Friday masterpiece?  You know you know what I’m talking about.  You were just like me – fixated on the YouTube video like a rubbernecker ogling a car wreck on the freeway.

But all this unabashed adoration is misguided.  Friday is perhaps the saddest, most pathetic day of the week, maybe even more so than slutty Tuesday.  Unless you’re Scottish, that is.  It seems Friday is a very good day to plant potatoes in Scotland.  Who knew?  All in all, though, Friday, is bad news.  Just ask any of those camp counselors who thought it was a good idea to go out to Camp Crystal Lake on a Friday.  Didn’t end well for them now, did it?  No, it didn’t – not even after twelve tries.

Friday wasn’t always like this – a pathetic shell of his former self, wreaking havoc throughout the masses.  In fact, he started out life with such hope and promise.  Friday was popular, the star of the Varsity football team with rugged good looks that drove the ladies wild.  At his side, the best wingman a guy could ask for – Thursday.  But as it happens sometimes with these promising young stars that society elevates to God-like heights, it all went to his head.  He became egotistical and cavalier, believing himself invincible and above the rules that governed the common man.  Everyone loved him, after all.  He could do no wrong; and even if he did, Thursday was there to clean up the fallout.

But Karma is a fickle bitch and soon it would all come crashing down around his ears.  First to go was the scholarship to that big ten conference college – a blown knee suffered not on the football field but during a midnight cow tipping prank on Old Mr. October’s farm.  Next to fall by the wayside – his girl, Sunday.  She was a religious girl, holy in her upbringing.  Her father was a reverend at local Episcopalian church.  Friday’s erratic and irresponsible behavior simply could be tolerated no more – it went against everything she believed in.  She broke up with him via text message as she boarded a plane to India to begin a six month pilgrimage to find inner peace.  Emotionally stunted, Friday was ill-equipped to deal with such harsh rejection and thus, turned to drinking to drown his sorrows.  As these things often do, drinking progressed to drunkenness and before you know it, Friday was whoring around with women from Sassy June’s Gentlemen Club every night, leaving a trail of self-destruction in his wake.  It was more than Thursday could handle and so he walked away from his friend, as well.

Now, Friday can be found every night of the week down at the local pub.  His good looks gone, replaced with a body worn and weary from years of hard living and overindulgence.  He sits at the end of the bar, empty beer glasses all around, and waits.  He knows that soon the end of the week will arrive and all of his worshipers will pile into this smoke-filled dive to once again pay homage to the man he used to be – the man they still believe exists.  He will bask in the glow of their adoration, and feel a temporary resurgence of what it had been like all those year ago.  He will walk down memory lane with them and tell exaggerated stories of his wild escapades, relishing in their undivided attention.  He will feel whole once again.

Inevitably, though, the night must end.  His admirers will leave as they are wont to do, and Friday will have to drag his drunk ass home.  As the sun dawns bright and early Saturday morning, he will be awaken by a slamming hangover and the seductive caress of slutty Tuesday wearing a hockey mask and brandishing a bloody machete.

“Revenge is sweet and non fattening.”  Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980).