Things I’ve learned

It’s been a while since my last real blog post.  Even longer since my last “things I learned” post.  I wondered at that.

But only for a nanosecond.

Let’s get to it.  What have I learned?

I learned:

1.  I’ve missed yoga.  Three years ago I took a yoga class to fulfill a college credit requirement.  I registered for the beginning class even though I had previous experience and was probably more transitional intermediate than beginner. I did so out of fear.

A costly miscalculation on my part.  As it happened, the instructor was the Antichrist and seemed woefully unaware the course was entitled “Yoga for Beginners.”   Think wine-soaked ballerina with severe Adult Attention Deficient Disorder.  Who teaches a yoga class set to swinging show tunes?…and sings along…and twirls…oh, so much twirling…She taught the class from her own private padded bubble, offered no modifications, and failed to understand the core principles of yoga.

I have many personality flaws.  Chief on the list:  Type A.   I’m an overachiever. That is especially true if there is something I value at stake.  At the time, it was my GPA.  I wanted an A and it is not in my nature to quit once I’ve committed.

Oh, the clarity of hindsight.

Three years later, I am still suffering the repercussions of that earned A.  My diagnosis: persistent grade 2 hip flexor strain with severe pain and limited ROM. Could be worse. Could be better.  But I’m making progress with the help of some wonderful physical therapists.  Last week, at their badgering urging, I started to practice yoga again.

I’m not going to lie.  The first few dozen sun salutations were rough.  But, at the same time, it was an incredible feeling.  Of course, I needed an extra day of physical therapy to recover, but they assure me it will get easier.  I’m going to choose to believe they are right.

Namaste.

2.  The X-Files is returning to television.  I’m conflicted.  I always loved the X-Files.  It was great television.  But reboots, remakes, and sequels annoy me.  A few years ago, I wrote about it. On the one hand, I am curious to see Mulder, Scully, Skinner, and Cancer Man reunited.  They were fascinating characters.  On the other hand, I think it is often better to remember something beloved in its original, unblemished state.  I probably won’t watch.

Of course, for all of my righteous indignation, I am a total hypocrite.  There are two films looming on the horizon – one slated for release later this year, the other next year. Jason Bourne and James Bond.  Both are sequels/remakes/reboots.  Both make me giddy with excitement.

I thought about arguing the merits of these franchises and how they differ from all the unoriginal rubbish out there.  But I don’t need to explain myself to you. Instead, I offer you a peek at the new Bond.

Savor it.

3.  I don’t like cherries.  I’m forty-two.  I’ve spent most of my life believing that I don’t eat cherries because I am allergic to them. Turns out – not true.  I just don’t like them.

Strange.

4.  Spring in Texas:  Bluebonnets and bees.  What else is there to say?

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5.  Miles Davis makes the perfect background for writing.  As a general rule, I don’t listen to music when I write.  It’s distracting.  I do much better with everyday white noise. Well…unless, it’s “screaming toddler Tuesday” or “”where’s the damn coffee in this place’ octogenarian Thursday” at my favorite coffee shop.  The latter is always a special treat.  There’s nothing quite so entertaining as a group of filter-free, half-deaf senior citizens out for their weekly breakfast social.

Last week, I discovered Miles Davis.  I’ve never been much of a jazz fan.  I much prefer old-school soul, sixties R&B, anything touched by the hands of the almighty Sting, and Florence and the Machine.  Jazz always seemed like too much work to fully appreciate. Does that make sense?   Probably not.  Sorry.

Anyway, I was researching Jazz artists/albums in reference to a character development I am doing for my current WIP and happened upon Sketches of Spain, a Miles Davis work conducted by Gil Evans (fun fact:  Gil Evans and Sting recorded a live album, Last Session, in 1987).  I liked the title; the cover art was warm and inviting.  I took a listen.

It was spellbinding; yet, subtle and unobtrusive.

I bought it.

This week on “screaming toddler Tuesday”, I plugged in my headphones, turned up Sketches of Spain, set it to repeat, and just wrote.

Fantastic.

Here.  Have a listen for yourself.

Things I learned this week…

I learned this week…

…that oral presentations aren’t all that bad.   (insert cheesy laugh track here)  I’m just kidding.  Oral presentations suck.  However, they do get easier.  And by easier, I mean that I only wanted to pass out once or twice and the uncontrollable shaking only lasted for half of the class period this time.  Progress.

…that middle school crushes are complicated.   My daughter likes a boy.  He likes her back.  Sounds simple so far – trust me it’s not.  Just getting to that admission was mind-blowing.  Now, as Valentine’s Day approaches, the question of what to give this boy in celebration of the Hallmark holiday has surfaced.  Card?  Stuffed bear? Box of chocolates.  This week, I quietly trailed behind her in the seasonal aisle of my favorite big box store as she grappled with this difficult decision.  After twenty minutes or so, she decided on an oversize Hersey Kiss.   I thought it was a good call.  Getting a boy something too affectionate or personal at this stage of the game is risky business.   Equally risky, I’ve discovered, is the mode of delivery.   She tells me that she can’t very well roll up to the park on her bike and hand him a giant Hersey Kiss in front of his friends.   That would be the kiss of death (har har).  No, she’s given this a lot of thought, consulted with many of her little girlfriends.  The general consensus among the great minds – she should most definitely drop, ring, and run.    This should prove interesting.

…that I am an introvert.  This is not a revelation,  I took the Myers-Brigg personality test years ago – several times, in fact, just in case I was doing it wrong.   I am a ISTJ and scored 1oo% introvert every single time.    As I age, I’ve learned to deal with it, and what I once viewed as a near crippling personality flaw, I’ve grown to accept and even, embrace.  This enlightenment, if you will, has aided in my journey of self-discovery, given me the courage to try new things, and overall, helped me grow comfortable in my own skin.  Susan Cain’s book Quiet – The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking is a must read for introverts trying to find their place and purpose in this life.   I’ve got a list of folks who could use a copy of this book.  Maybe if they understood me a bit better they would stop bugging me to speak up and contribute to debates I find pointless and beneath me.  Yes, I know – I am an elitist introvert.  Or so my husband tells me.  Sue me.

that Nicholas Cage is not a vampire.  This is good information.  For a minute there, I was worried.

…that another great musical voice has been silenced.  I am saddened and aggrieved by the loss of Whitney Houston.  Premature death, no matter the circumstances, is a tragic thing and one that deserves a measure of understanding and compassion, if for no other reason, than for those who are left behind to grieve the unimaginable loss of a loved one.

…that four weeks into “Yoga for a Grade” I find myself looking forward to the class.  I still think the instructor is a flake, and that she has failed to read the college’s catalog description of the course.  There is no way this class is beginner level, but I’ve kept up, and though my hamstrings have not quite gotten with the program, I feel my core strengthening and my stamina increasing.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I enjoy this class, but I don’t dread it.  Now, that might change if she makes us do another elementary level art project.   That was just humiliating.

***Warning!  Pet Peeve of the Week***

…that nothing make me angrier (and this is a bold statement because there is a lot of things that make me angry) than being manipulated and threatened, no matter how veiled.

…and last, but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by this adorable, and quite photogenic, kitty getting all spruced up for a night out.  I don’t know the source of this photo because my husband shared it with me.  If you don’t smile at this picture, then you need to see a doctor about that heartless whole in your chest.  Enjoy.

Things I learned this week

I learned this week…

…that I am old.  Or so my health insurance carrier tells me.  I received a very nice letter from them informing me that my recent birthday (the one that isn’t until mid-June) has pushed me into a higher age bracket and, though it pains them greatly, they must raise my rate by 2% effective April 1st.  Bastards.

…that once again, I find that I am a few steps behind everyone else when it comes to discovering new and exciting television.  First, the BBC’s Sherlock, and now PBS’s Downton Abbey.  I need to get with the program.  Both of these shows are well-written, well-acted, and well…just plain brilliant.

…that if civilization as we know it should end and the burden of rebuilding and repopulating the world falls to the brilliant minds of the students in my Sociology class, we are all screwed.   Newt Gringrich’s moon colony might not be such a bad idea after all.

…that my daughter’s sixth grade band is amazing.  I am very proud of her.  She’s come a long way in five months.

…that as the daughter of a breast cancer survivor, I’ve always had the highest respect for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.  Not anymore.

…that I really don’t like making my own coffee in the morning.  That makes me sound spoiled, doesn’t it.  Well, I am.  My husband makes coffee every night at bedtime, sets the little timer thing, and BAM!  I have coffee when I roll out of bed at 5 a.m.  He’s out-of-town.  I have to make my own coffee this week.  It sucks.

…that my fat cat has lost weight.  This a good thing for he tipped the scales at 19 lbs at his last vet check up.  I am happy to report that his “high fiber, low-calorie food that costs me a fortune” actually worked.  He’s down to a svelte 15 lbs.  Of course, he thinks he’s starving to death and has taken to counter hopping in search of something left unattended.  I turned around the other night and found him perched by the sink, staring a hole through me.  I was a little scared.  For a minute, I thought he was contemplating my nutritional value.

…that me and old Thomas Hobbes are not going to be good friends.

…that I find reminders of my dad in the strangest places.  This week on my way to the office, I was listening to a 60s themed satellite radio station I like and a song I haven’t heard in years came on.   (Don’t judge me.  I’ve made no secret of my opinion on the music produced during that decade – BEST MUSIC EVER)  As it began to play, recognition took hold,  and all I could see was my father dancing around in his stocking feet, lip syncing the words, and making Groucho Marx faces.  I miss my dad.

***Warning:  Pet peeve of the week***

…that I hate pointless art projects.  I hate pointless art projects even more when they are completely irrelevant to class curriculum.  In Yoga for a Grade, we were instructed to make a new friend (shoot me now), ask them asinine personal questions, and create a collage of their life based on what we learned in a ten minute conversation.  We are expected to present them to the class when next we meet.  Really?  I think I preferred the Down Dog into Plank (hold for one minute), then down and up into Up Dog sequences she made us do – fifteen times in a row! – during the last class.

…and last but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by Cousin Violet, the Dowager Countess of Grantham (Maggie Smith) from Downton Abbey.  She is quite warm and loving in her own way – really.

Things I learned this week

“Procrastination is the most common manifestation of Resistance because it’s the easiest to rationalize.  We don’t tell ourselves, ‘I’m never going to write my symphony.’  Instead we say, ‘I’m going to write my symphony; I’m just going to start tomorrow.’”  – The War of Art – Steven Pressfield.

“The most pernicious aspect of procrastination is that it can become a habit.  We don’t just put off our lives today; we put them off till our deathbed.” – The War of Art – Steven Pressfield.

This week I learned:

…that listening to the Bee Gees or any other disco era music while working out on the elliptical, is dangerous.  Not dangerous in that I might fall off and hurt myself, though that is always a possibility when we are talking about me.  I was passed over when they were giving out the coordination gene.  Case in point:  I once fell off a ladder while painting my bathroom.  I guess I shouldn’t have put the ladder IN the tub to paint.   But that’s a blog for another time.  No, it’s dangerous because I find myself strutting in time to the music.  And when I say strutting think Tony Manero in the opening credits of Saturday Night Fever strutting.

It took me a while to figure out what everyone was staring at.

…that I am easily entertained and enjoy scoffing at the incompetence of others – when it doesn’t directly affect me.  This is a character flaw that I’m not necessarily proud of and yet, I can’t seem to stop myself.

…that my belief that there is some unseen force sucking out the brains of the parents at my daughter’s middle school still holds true.  This week there were no carpool line scuffles, but there was some interesting parallel parking going on.  One lady tried, and failed, to squeeze her mini-van into a slot several times, before giving up.  Instead, she opted for something similar to the photo below.  I took this snapshot in 2004 while walking through the heart of downtown Rome, with my dear friend Manie.  Somehow it was funnier in Rome.Rome 2004

…that I’ve successfully pissed away another holiday break with nothing to show for it.  I was supposed to finish my novel – didn’t happen (though I didn’t really expect to finish and I did make some pretty good progress).  I was supposed to clean out my flowerbeds and winterize – didn’t happen.  I was supposed to finish Daniel Silva’s The Confessor – didn’t happen.  I was supposed to finish working on my husband’s incorporation documents – didn’t happen.  Oh well.  There’s always Spring Break.

…that while I’ve been making word count progress on my novel, I find that I am increasingly frustrated with certain plot points.  Major plot points.  I’m going to have to work this out or I see myself going ahead with the ceremonial cleansing burn in the backyard.  Who wants to bring the marshmallows?

…that Lisbeth Salander is still one of my all-time favorite fictional female characters.  I was skeptical about the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  I feel that we have become a society of reboots and remakes with very little originality coming out of Hollywood.  I’ve read the book, seen the Swedish film, and I doubted that even the great David Fincher could make this story better.  I was wrong.

***Warning!  Pet Peeve of the Week***

…that it is very frustrating when someone forwards me an email and instructs me to inform them of associated deadlines when the deadlines are spelled out in the very first line of the forwarded email.   I’m all for delegating, but good grief.

…and last but not least – this week’s awww moment is brought to you by this little guy who seems to be digging winter just as much as me.

Things I learned this week…

“Resistance is not a peripheral opponent.  Resistance arises from within.  It is self-generated and self-perpetuated.  Resistance is the enemy within.”  – The War of Art:  Winning the Inner Creative Battle – Steven Pressfield

“Resistance has no strength of its own.  Every ounce of juice it possesses comes from us.  We feed it with power by our fear of it.  Master that fear and we conquer Resistance.” – The War of Art:  Winning the Inner Creative Battle – Steven Pressfield

This week I learned…

…that if I want to succeed at this writing business, I need to suck it up and just do it.  My fellow WC-er Bill Chance turned me onto a book by Steven Pressfield called The War of Art.  Absolute brilliance.

The-War-of-Art_Pressfield

…that discovering a new thing, no matter how small and insignificant, can really change my whole outlook.  This week I discovered how to make comment notations is my Word documents.

What?

You’ve been doing it for years?

Nobody likes a braggart.

This is eye-opening to me because I struggle with the  need to produce perfection.  I think it comes from my profession.  I am a paralegal.  When I write, it needs to be damn near perfect before I hand it over the my attorney for review.  Otherwise, I look like a complete moron, and they wonder why it is that they are paying me good money for crap they have to rewrite.  Unfortunately, this bleeds over into my personal writing.  It’s a habit I have vowed to break – not at work, at home.  These little notations help me tag something that needs review, ask myself questions, offer suggestions, and move on.  By getting it out, even if the issue is not resolved, I am free to continue.

…that meeting my first weekly writing goal within two days of making it was a great feeling.  Maybe I should up the ante.  Or maybe I should just wait and see how next week goes, and the week after that.

…that the holidays are finally over.  Finally.  I can file them away under “done” and move on to the next thing.   Though, I don’t really have much to complain about this year.  I had one of the most laid-back, stress-free holidays ever.  I can only think of a handful of instances when I seriously contemplated body dumping sites and weighed the likelihood of a criminal conviction over a temporary insanity plea.  That might be a record for me.  Usually, during the holidays, I fantasize about having a Bond car with a machine gun and rocket launchers.  Maybe I am mellowing.   Yeah, what are the odds of that?  Maybe I just had an off-year.  Maybe I should go book my December Caribbean trip now.  You know, just for peace of mind.

…that aside from the fever, ringing in the New Year from the warm, cozy comfort of my bed was fabulous.  I spent New Year’s Eve battling a nasty little cold and watching a Jason Bourne marathon on one of those “not in HD” channels.  I should try that again next year – well, minus the fever.   I might even splurge and dig out the DVDs.

…that on January 6, 1540, Anne of Cleves married England’s Henry VIII.  It didn’t work out too well for them, but at least she didn’t lose her head.  On January 6, 1996, I married the love of my life.   So far, so good.   At least I think so.  He does keeps telling me I’m no picnic to live with; that I’m snarky, moody, and unreasonable.  I’ve no idea what he’s talking about.

…that the Kardashians have entered the building – or more accurately – the city of Dallas.  Hold on to your hats, folks.  We now have ourselves a couple of genuine Hollywood “celebrities” in our midst, and they are taking the metroplex by storm.  Screw substantive news, or anything else that might enlighten or educate our feeble minds.  We are now to be subjected to a chronology of every breath they take, every move they make, every vow they break…

****Warning – Pet Peeve of the week****

…that with the New Year, my gym has been inundated by folks who have vowed to get in shape.  That’s great.  Awesome, even.  I applaud anyone out there willing to get fit the old-fashioned way – by sweating.  What I don’t applaud are the newbies with no manners.  I realize that there are those among us who believe their time more valuable; that waiting their turn is a foreign concept.  However, I will not be cowed by the intimidation tactics of others.   I will be done with my reps when I’m done.  Not before.  Staring at me will not make me move on.  Asking me how many reps I have left will only motivate me to do more, at a slower pace.   I can’t wait until February.  By then, they will have either learned a little gym etiquette or fallen off of the fitness wagon.  I hope, or else I might need to find myself a good criminal lawyer.

…and last but not least – this week’s awww moment is brought to you by this prehensile tailed porcupine.  Look at that face.  Don’t you just wanna hug him?

A Year in Review

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Poof!  Another year gone, just like that – in a flash – never to be heard from again.  It seems the closer I get to 40, the faster this ride goes.  I don’t really like fast rides, they make me nauseous.  It’s why I’ve lived in the Dallas area for some 12 years and have never stepped foot on the grounds of Six Flags Over Texas.

But that is a blog for another day, isn’t it?  Perhaps I will try to conquer my fear of amusement park rides by making a trip over to Arlington in 2012.

Yeah, right.

Anyway, with 2011 coming to a close, and a new year looming on the horizon, I thought it would be fun to take a look back and reflect upon what I’ve learned this year.

This year I learned…

…that Cabo San Lucas, Mexico is beautiful and romantic.  The ideal place to celebrate 15 amazing years of marriage, with the love of my life.  The “two shots of tequila + 5 beers for $5.00” specials made it all the better.  At least, I think so…I don’t remember much after…wait…we went to Mexico, right?

…that whale watching in the Pacific Ocean is surreal and terrifying.  I’m glad I stood up to my fear of water/boats and went on the excursion.  I can mark it off my bucket list with a big fat black Sharpie (with a notation in the margin that reads: never, ever try this again).

…that sometimes it is necessary to stubbornly take a stand, even if it means alienation from family you love.  Things tend to work themselves out in the end.  And, well, if they don’t then, so be it.

…that marking the four-year anniversary of my father’s death was just as painful as year three.

…that the weatherman on my local NBC channel either has a sick sense of humor, or his degree in meteorology is just an honorary one. The snow event captured below was only supposed to be a light dusting.    As in, not going to stick, or cause any trouble on the roads.  We ended up with a foot total. Epic. Fail.  Why is this a problem, you ask?  It’s only snow.  Well, down here in Texas, measurable snowfall is a sign of the coming apocalypse.  I didn’t leave my house until it melted.  It’s just better that way.

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…that with three or four inches of ice coating everything (in a separate, unrelated winter weather event – another epic weatherman fail), including the street, I can survive an entire week without leaving my house.  On day two, I did attempt to check the mail.  My mailbox is across the street.  I made it to the middle of the road, fell on my ass, promptly got up, dusted off my pride and went back into the house.  There was nothing I needed in that mailbox, I was sure of it. Well, except for those two Netflix movies, but I made my husband go get those for me.  Have I mentioned that he is the most awesomest dude ever?

…that even at my age, a little recognition and validation can put a spring in my step.  In April, I received a scholar award from my favorite professor, in my favorite subject (history).  It might not mean much outside the confines of my campus and academic world, but it certainly went a long way to helping me feel like I wasn’t wasting my time.  Though I’m sure my family would tell you that my ego was so inflated from this unprecedented honor, that they had to keep reminding me that I did not, in fact, win a Pulitzer.

…that just when I thought I was getting the hang of this aging nonsense, I get the call informing me that I could expect to be a grandmother by the end of the year.  Let the months of denial begin!

…that even though I swore I had absolutely no interest in the British Royal wedding; that I scoffed at the crazy people who were planning to get up in the middle of the night to catch every tantalizing second of it, I couldn’t help but be mesmerized.  No, I didn’t get up in the middle of the night.  That would be ridiculous.  I got up at my normal time, switched on the television, and there it was.  I couldn’t get away from it, and I happened to catch it at the precise moment that she entered the church.  I watched every stinking minute of it and was nearly late for work.  Damn you, England!

…that I’ve lived in the Dallas area for a long time and this was the first year we have braved Scarborough Faire in Waxahachie.  I’m ashamed at our stuffiness.  So much fun.  Maybe next year we will dress up.  Don’t tell Nolan.  It’ll be my surprise.

…that turning 39 this year wasn’t all that bad.  Of course, a gift of diamonds goes a long way in making the aging process bearable.  Oh, and an a Happy Birthday wake up call and an afternoon visit from my nephews didn’t hurt, either.

…that a girls only trip to Key West is quite the adventure.  I learned a lot, made some new friends, discovered mojitos, and the wonders of drag queens.  If you’re interested, you can read more about my adventures [here].

…that cursing Mother Nature for bitch slapping us this winter only resulted in several summertime bitch slaps.  I think I might even classify it as a beating.  I’ve been through hot, dry, miserable summers before, but this year was by far, the worst.  Wish I had known this little bit of trivia in February.  I might have been a little nicer to that fickle whore.

…that middle school parents are all bugger eating morons who wouldn’t understand a rule if it slapped them upside the head and introduced itself.

…that having my granddaughter born on Thanksgiving Day was certainly a surprise.  She was a few weeks early.  I will be completely honest, I was emotionally unprepared.  Mostly, because I am a realist and don’t look at the ooey gooey side of things.  I see the cold hard fact that becoming a parent in your early twenties, is tough stuff.  I became a parent at the tender age of 18.  I know of what I speak.  However, after much thought and reflection, I was able to remove myself from that side of the equation.  Grandparents, after all, are meant to be the fun ones – it is not our job to dwell on the struggles of first time parenthood. Instead, as reward for the years we spent rearing our irrational and, at times, ungrateful children, we are allowed to bask in the splendor of a child we can spoil, fill with excessive sugar products, and send home to torture their parents.  Acceptance grows out of denial.  But be warned, call me Granny and I will gut you like a pig.  My willingness to accept such a position only goes so far.

…that I don’t completely hate the holiday season.  I discovered that I like Christmas music, baking cookies, and long walks on sandy beaches sipping fruity drinks with little umbrellas…oh wait…that last one was just my holiday happy place.  My bad.

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…that saying goodbye to a kitty I’ve had for 16 years is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in a very long time.  We will miss you and your sweet, quirkiness, Pistachio.

…that my daughter becomes more and more like me every day.  In some ways I think this is a good thing – I am independent, dedicated, and emotionally tough.  Good traits.  On the other hand, I am sarcastic, snarky, and bitchy.   Not traits one strives to pass along to their children.

The other day, my daughter and I were standing in line at the Gap, in front us were a mother with a young girl.  When they reached the counter, the woman at the counter said to the child:

“Oh, I love your Hello Kitty shirt!  Do you know what my name is?”

The woman moves her sweater and shows the girl her name tag.  Her name was Kitty.  My daughter rolled her eyes and, in a voice laced with sarcasm, said:

“Oh Jeez!  That’s what I want to do when I grow up.  Name my daughter Kitty.  Wonder if her last name is Cat.”

Of course, being the responsible parent that I am, I admonished her for saying such a thing – after I was able to stopping myself from laughing hysterically.

All in all, I think 2011 was a pretty good year for the Isaacs family.  I’ve had worse.  Much, much worse.  I have high hopes for 2012.  It is the year I will finish my novel.

Seriously.

Stop laughing.

Screw you.

Happy New Year!

Things I learned at the Sting concert…

Photo by Anna Webber/Getty Images North America

Sting, my favorite musician of all time, made a stop in Dallas on his Back to Bass tour this week.  I was fortunate enough to be there.  I won’t bore you with too many details of the show.  Suffice it to say, Sting is a God.  Head and shoulders above the rest.  Still a class act after all these years.  This I know to be true.  I have seen him perform before.  His vocals are flawless, his backing band without equal, his set list a great mix of commercial hits and lesser known glittering gems that set a true fan’s heart fluttering with excitement.  All in all, it was a superb show.

While Sting may be top on my list of favorite things, people watching comes in at a close second.  What better place to people watch than a rock concert, right?  Right.  I can’t help myself.  It’s all in the name of character inspiration.  At least that’s what I tell myself as I gawk unabashedly at the masses swirling around me.

Here are a few of the things I learned at the Sting concert:

I learned that…

…that it was not hard to spot the husbands and boyfriends who were dragged kicking and screaming to a concert of an Englishman they couldn’t care less about.  They were the ones whose faces were illuminated throughout the concert by the light from their iPhones and Blackberries.  I image they do not have very happy relationships and are one banana peel away from a nasty, hate-filled break up.  While it is true that they may have earned “points” by showing up, they prove just how uncommitted to the unity they really are.  It’s sort of like when you go on a date with your husband or boyfriend and instead of engaging you in conversation over dinner, they browse their mobile twitter feed.  I feel pretty certain that their deeds will not go unpunished.  We women are a spiteful lot.  Their wives/girlfriends will make them suffer.  Even if done subtly, revenge can leave its mark.

…that there is something inherently wrong with women over a certain age showing their faces in public while wearing thigh high leather boots, skin-tight leather pants and skimpy glittering tank tops.  Denial?  Not just a river in Egypt.  Look, I know that age is relative.  You are only as old as you feel, but have some self-respect.  60 and dressed like a hooker at a Sting concert?  It just reeks insecurity and is, frankly, pathetic.

…that walking ten steps behind the aforementioned 60-year-old hooker and carrying her swag bag, is her mate – a short, pudgy, bald man who she has dressed up to look like Charlie Harper.

…that I should start carrying around a small travel size bottle of bleach in my purse to sanitize my eyes.  The gentleman in front of me was kind enough to flash me a good two inches of his butt crack every time he stood.  I’m not sure I will ever recover from the sight of his hairy ass.

…that there are those among us who will pay a premium price for tickets and then spend the entire show engaged in an activity that does not involve watching or listening to what they have paid to see.  I don’t understand this.  I paid $200 to see Sting.  I want to see Sting.  I want to hear Sting.  I want to feel his music seep into my pores and surge through my veins.  I don’t want to continuously have to pull my eyes away from the stage in order to let these inattentive people in and out of their seats at regular intervals.

…that copious amounts of alcohol will make the man sitting behind me who, by his own admission, had never seen Sting and didn’t really seem to know who he was, a very vocal and ardent fan.  I’m just grateful that he didn’t spill his super-sized wine on me.

…that though I felt like one of youngest people at this concert, it was nice to see children scattered through the crowd.  There weren’t many, but I am encouraged by this.  There is perhaps a smidgen of hope that this younger generation will know real musical talent when they hear it.

…that I am still sad I missed the reunion tour.

Things I learned this week (November 7 – November 13)

I learned this week…

…that snickerdoodles will be added to my holiday cookie line up this year.  I’ve made all sorts of cookies over the years – chocolate chip, pizzelles, peanut butter, spice cookies, etc. – but never snickerdoodles.  I made them for the first time this week.  I’m not really sure why I’ve excluded them in the past.  However, I will rectify this mistake as I delve into the my marathon of holiday baking in the coming weeks.  They were very tasty.

…that it is time to up the resistance on the elliptical to a solid 9.  I surpassed my best distance record this week.  I was able to cover 6.56 miles in one hour.  I think it’s safe to say that I’ve mastered the elliptical and am officially a convert.  I’m going to have to expand this thought into a blog entry.  I have a lot to say about it.

…that my little old kitty does not have lymphoma, after all.  Misdiagnosed.  She does have a slew of other health issues, but all of them manageable.  It’s always much easier to take a misdiagnosis when the error is in your favor.  Of course, this doesn’t alleviate the sting of the vet bills.  I’ve spent a fortune over the last month or two trying to find out what is wrong with my kitty and if it was time to make THE decision.

…that Shakespeare’s sonnets are much more entertaining than Petrarch’s sonnets.   Though, if I am to be completely honest, I probably only understand the meaning of one in three without prompting from dear Dr. W.  This sonnet, No. 130, I understood perfectly, however.  I’m sure you will, too.

An earlier version of Summer, 1563. Giuseppe Arcimboldo
My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun
Coral is far more red, than her lips red
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head
 
I have seen roses damasked, red and white
But no such roses see I in her cheeks
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks
 
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound
I grant I never saw a goddess go,
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground
And yet be heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.
 

…that inexplicably, I will experience a surge of excitement when I stumble across Pride & Prejudice on the Oxygen channel.  It matters not that I own it on blue ray and can watch it whenever my little heart desires.  It seems I am too powerless to change the channel, and too lazy to get up and pop in the DVD.  So, here I sit typing away at this blog, watching my favorite movie in low resolution, and suffering through endless commercials.

…that crazy gymnastics moms + vendor selling racks and racks of bedazzled leotards = calamity + a near homicidal me, squared.  You would really think that after four years of twice weekly practice at the same gym, surrounded by a lot of the same people, I would be more tolerant of these magpies.  I’m not.  I don’t think this is any fault of my own, but rather the fact that these woman have had their brains sucked out by some unknown force.  I am convinced that I am the only person in the entire place who is somehow immune to this mystery brain sucking foe.  I wonder if this is how Ripley from Aliens felt.

…that ineptocracy is a fun, new word.  I wish I could take credit for this one, but I learned it from my fellow WCer, Bill.   [Click here to for more from Bill].

…that I don’t know squat about what a biochemical lab looks like, or what it may contain.  This poses a problem for me because I am currently writing a scene for my novel, Retribution, that is set in a biochemical lab.  Guess I am going to have to consult my friends over at Wikipedia and Google images.  If anyone wants to share some expertise…

…that my husband should not be allowed to “clean” the coffee pot.  For a few years now, we have had a couple of those dispensing pots.  You know, you stick your cup underneath the spout, press it against the big button, and coffee magically pours into your cup.  Every time my husband “cleans” it, the stream diminishes.  Last year, he decided to “fix” this little problem by taking the pot apart.  Needless to say, I picked up a new one on my way home from work the next day.  Yesterday, my husband decided to deep “clean” the pot again.  I am now the proud owner of a new Kitchen Aid 14 cup coffee pot.  It is not the dispensing kind.  Lesson learned.

…and lastly, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by this adorable little piggy.  I have a soft spot in my heart for pigs.  I think they are freaking adorable and when all my kitties are gone, I’m going to get me one.  (Shhhh don’t tell Nolan.  He thinks we are getting a dog).  This little piglet has a story.  [Click here to read it].

Things I learned this week (October 30 – November 6)

I learned this week…

…that big white angel wings are a hot commodity during Halloween.  My daughter decided at the last possible minute that she wanted to go to trick-or-treating dressed as Max from James Patterson’s Maximum Ride series.  For those you who don’t know, Max is a girl who has been genetically engineered to have wings so that she can fly. Big wings.  Not little fairy wings.  Not rainbow-colored wings made of wire and mesh.  Big white, feathery wings. Needless to say, my daughter went trick-or-treating as a grim reaper.

…that Christmas comes earlier and earlier every year.  This just proves my point that the holiday is nothing more than an over-commercialized farce.  For one year, one measly year, I would like to get through Thanksgiving before I am inundated with nauseating Christmas cheer.

…that there are those in my house who don’t share my cynical view of the coming Christmas season.

…that Petrarch was a miserable sap.  Seriously, who writes that many sonnets about a woman who obviously wouldn’t give him the time of day? Did he not have any drinking buddies who could have staged an intervention and gotten the man laid?  Good grief.  I think I’d rather read Beowulf again than have to read one more sonnet about the virtues of some courtly maiden named Laura.

…that karma does exist and sometimes people do get what’s coming to them.  I was leaving my favorite Target store this week and I happened to see a man trying to get his shopping cart to stay where he parked it – in the handicap parking space next to his Expedition instead of in the cart corral.  I called him an ass hat under my breath and kept walking.  People like that piss me off because we all know that cart isn’t going to stay where he left it.  Nope, it’s going to get caught by the wind and end up smacking the passenger door of my car.  It is inevitable.  Sure enough, the wind caught that cart, but instead of carrying it in the direction of my car, it came to rest behind the ass hat’s SUV.  Just as he began to back out of his space.  BAM!  That my friends is karma at its finest.

…that Andy Rooney died.  I loved that grumpy old guy.

…that with a little prodding from the guys in my Western Civilization class, my professor will find a scene from The Holy Grail that adequately depicts any aspect of our current curriculum.  This week – the Black Death.

…that sometimes a little booze is necessary – even if you don’t take a sip.  The comfort that it is there in case of an emergency is priceless.

…that I have an inner clock that doesn’t recognize the end of daylight savings time.  I didn’t get an extra hour of sleep.  I can’t really complain, though.  I was able to accomplish a little more, a little earlier today than yesterday.  I was at the gym by 7 a.m.; home by 8 a.m.; was showered and had a good dent in a writing assignment by 9; and had myself psyched up for a trip to the grocery store by 9:30.  Of course, that’s when things went awry.  I didn’t actually make it to the store until noon.  But hey, what matters here is that my morning was spectacular.

…that my cats don’t recognize the end of daylight savings time, either.  This is a lot less tolerable and makes me want to take them all to the shelter.

…and last but not least this week’s awww moment is brought to you by…well I have no idea because this was an email forward from Nolan.  Too cute for school, indeed.

Things I learned this week (October 23 – October 29)

This week I learned…

…that apparently my husband can either relate to or, more likely, commiserate with the characters of the new sitcom Whitney.  I’m not really sure how I feel about this because Whitney is nuts.  I’m a lot of things, not all of them flattering, but nuts is not one of them.

…that my obsession with the Real Housewives franchise is waning.  I guess all things, including guilty pleasures, must run their course.  I’m a little sad by this, but I’m sure it won’t be long before something equally trashy comes along and piques my interest.  I only have to look as far as the Bravo network.

…that nothing makes you appreciate a former co-worker like having to deal with some of her former crazy clients.  Boy, do I wish I could tell you all about it.  I can’t.  You know, that whole confidentiality thing.  Attorney’s are sticklers.  Who can blame them?  Getting sued sucks.  But trust me when I tell you – clients are CRAZY.  I miss you, Val.  Seriously.

…that failing to remember to do something and then have it negatively impact your child sucks. I forgot to refill my daughter’s lunch money card.  She didn’t complain – just texted a sad face.  Poor kid.  However, I tried make up for it by arriving to pick her up from school with a PB&J in hand.  She’s a good girl with a forgiving heart.  I earned a smile and an “I love you”.  I will try to do better.

…that I am having a serious case of writer’s ADD.  I’ve started five blog entries (unrelated to Man vs. Beast or Things I learned) and have lost interest in all of the subjects.  Perhaps, lost interest is not really the right way to describe what I’m feeling.  Maybe I am going through a period of self-doubt.  When I started this whole blogging thing, I swore to myself that I was going to write as an exercise and not care if anyone really read it. Now that I see people do read it, I am worried about writing uninteresting things.  No offense, but I think I need to go back to not giving a shit and just write for me.  I seemed to be more productive that way.  Of course, I love writing the Man vs. Beast and Things I learned blogs too.  Oh man.  I’m so…SQUIRREL…

…that the honey badger just don’t give a shit…

…that the Princess Bride is a wonderful movie.  Megan and I watched it for the first time over the weekend.  She was less enthusiastic about it and told me that it was stupid.  I’m going to venture to guess that this just wasn’t her thing.  Not that I’m surprised.  Next, I’m going to make her watch D.A.R.Y.L.  I think she will like that one better.

…that my Western Civilization professor is a Monty Python junkie.  As a means of helping us understand the role of knights in medieval Europe, he had us watch clips from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  I’ll be honest, I’ve never really understood the allure of this genre of comedy, but I love that he has a quirky sense of humor.  This alone will earn him a positive review from me on www.ratemyprofessor.com.

…that as a history major, the History Channel’s Ancient Aliens incites a vast array of emotions in me.  None of them favorable toward the show.  However, there is one thing about it that makes me giggle like a school girl.  Giorgio Tsoukalos and his ever-growing hair.

…last but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought you by my brother, Rob.   He was kind enough to pass along this adorable picture of a chimp giving its kitty a hug.  Enjoy.

Things I learned this week (October 16 – October 22)

I learned this week…

…that Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Miller’s Tale is bawdy, raunchy, and not unlike a lot of off humor comedies in popular culture.  It’s not usually the kind of thing I find entertaining.  I mean, I think I am the only person on the planet who was offended by The Hangover.  Having said that, this particular sequence in The Miller’s Tale was so unexpected that I couldn’t help but laugh out loud – after I figured out what exactly Chaucer was referring to:

The night was pitch dark, coal-black all about.
Her rear end through the window she thrust out.
He got no better or worse, did Absolom,
Than to kiss her with his mouth on the bare bum
Before he had caught on, a smacking kiss.
 
He jumped back, thinking something was amiss.
A woman had no beard, he was well aware,
But what he felt was rough and had long hair.
 

The Canterbury Tales, The Miller’s Tale.  Geoffrey Chaucer.

O.M.G.

…that in-class group projects suck.  Not because I am so anti-social that I am loathed to interact with my classmates….huh?  Oh, shut up.

…that my daughter seems to be embroiled in a sort of love triangle – with brothers!  She has made friends with two brothers, one in 7th grade, the other in 5th. They live just around the corner from us and have become something of a fixture around the house.  I believe that she has a bit of a crush on the older boy, however, both boys appear to be quite smitten.  I see heartbreak, tears and a trip to Sonic for the consolatory M & M blast in our future.

…that I really hate chronic complainers.  So much so that I find that my favorite new past-time is complaining about their complaining.  The irony is not lost on me.  However, at this time, I am going to choose to ignore the hypocrisy and continue complaining about other people’s complaining.

…that it was time to decatify my house again.  It seems like I just did it, but the dust bunnies rolling out from beneath the couch told a different story.  I spent my Saturday moving furniture, vacuuming, dusting and polishing.  With five cats in the house, we will never be completely cat hair free but, at least for now, it is safe to sit in my favorite chair again.

…that I really hope the Libyans have a plan.

…that sometimes my sweet-natured daughter needs to be reminded that I am empress of my domain and this empire does not lean toward democracy.  Luckily, she usually only needs a small reminder and peace is quickly restored.

…that at first glance my Western Civ test study guide appeared harmless.  Boy, was I wrong.  We are closing in on ten pages and I’m not done yet.  I have a feeling this guide will be my constant companion until Thursday’s exam.  After that, I just might have a celebratory burning – and a swig of something potent.

…that my daughter is at the age where doctors begin to encourage the HPV vaccination.  At her annual well check this week, her doctor (who has treated her since she was born and knows me very well – deals with me very well) urged me to have it administered.  I declined.  I’ve done a lot of research on this – both for and against – for a series of papers last year.  I see both sides of the controversy, but do you know what my biggest issue is?  Rick Perry’s mandate.  I’m still pissed about that.  I will revisit the issue next year.  Maybe I will feel differently.

…and last but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by three little piggie bums.

Steffen Schmidt / EPA

Okay, not really.  But this picture did make me snort ever so slightly.  Please, no bacon jokes.  I have a little soft spot in my heart for piggies.

…Our real awww moment is brought to you by this baby Bornean orangutan born last month at the L.A. Zoo.  A true picture of maternal love:

Tad Motoyami / L.A. Zoo via AP