7.28.14 Runaway Thoughts



I read a quote recently that, though I don’t know the author of, stuck with me.  It said, “I want to sleep but my brain won’t stop talking to itself.”  This happens to me a lot.  Well–if not a lot, then in long-ish spurts.  I just so happen to be in a spurt.  It is not the end of summer (I refuse to even think the blasphemous thought) but I will admit that it is no longer the beginning.  Unfortunately, in this medium time, my over-tick-tock of a brain begins to register that school will, inevitably, come again, and I had better start planning.

I swear even the merest permission to think about planning and my mind goes into overdrive, apparently afraid that I might renegotiate at any time and so it had better think its thoughts in a blurry rush all at once.  When this happens, sleep is tough.  I cannot complain because usually sleep is not an issue for me.  I am a hit-the-pillow and dreaming sort of girl, but when the dance of thoughts commence, it’s not even worth it.  

A.A. Milne’s brilliant character Winnie the Pooh relieved me that I’m not alone in my “thoughtful trances,” when he said, “Did you ever stop to think and forget to start again?” Over-thinking is a hazard, in my opinion.  It never breeds rest, or peace or anything else synonymous with accomplishment.  When I over-think, it quickly transforms to over-analyze, and then over-criticize, and then over-obsess about practically nothing which has turned into a real something by the time I finally pass out from exhaustion!  

Well, I don’t believe in bringing up problems without solutions so here are three things I do to cure Midnight Runaway Thought Syndrome, *MRTS* (if it isn’t a “thing” I’m making it one).

1. Get Some Paper and a Pen:  Just being in close proximity to a scratch pad to jot down that nagging thought that won’t let me lie helps a ton!
2. Read: I prefer fiction, but probably the duller the better.  NEVER read the news before bed … ghastly nightmares are stuck in those pages.
3. (AND THIS ONE’S MY FAVORITE) Watch Old Movies: Yup … not just any movies, old movies–the kind where people actually had to know how to act and dance and sing and have, well – talent!  Last night was a Doris Day film called, “Move Over Darling” and the night before was “Brewster’s Millions” if you’re interested!  Both two thumbs up in my opinion. (I do realize I’m a nerd … turns out I’m okay with it.)

If you don’t believe me, try it.  I’m going bleary-eyed now so in about an hour I’ll either, A) fall face-first into bed and only wake up when my darlings make me or, B) experience more of MRTS, and watch something with Cary Grant (Is it weird to have a celebrity crush that’s from my grandmother’s era? Oh well!).  So … sweet dreams, and if not, well, you’re not alone.

Literarily yours,


7.24.14 Facebook & Pintrest



Okay, so let me just throw out the disclaimer that I DO like Facebook and Pintrest in their own right.  To be honest … I LOVE seeing pictures that inspire me, friends I haven’t reached out to in awhile and the joys of life that bring us all together.  I have used this social media and idea boards to plan parties, connect with family and re-awaken some brainstorms long dormant; these are good things.  But man, I think it is safe to say some of these elements are lost by the overwhelming posts and pop-ups I just didn’t see coming.  Sad to say, my admiration for these sources has waned somewhat heavily for the following reasons.  This is a bit of a digital rant … so if you aren’t in a rant-y mood, this post may not be for you!

Facebook first … F does come before P after all – I am an English teacher at heart!  When Facebook first exploded on the scene I thought, “Cool, a way to stay in touch with those who’ve slipped out-of-touch.” But then – (here it comes)  it turned into a digital brag board!  There was a quote I read that said, “Facebook is a social media site, not a diary!”  Too true!  Here is a small (or not so small) list of the things I now know from Facebook that I really could have lived without.

1. How much and how long everyone runs (ugh, it’s called an exercise journal)
2. Who is getting along with their husband/wife and who isn’t (be nice to each other)
3. Those obsessed with “selfies” (to the point of narcissism)
4. Exactly how many weeks everyone is pregnant (just the high points please)
5. Who is too into Candy Crush (sorry, but no … I won’t play it)
6. What people are cooking for dinner (which only reminds me what I’m not cooking for dinner … thanks)
7. Who is on Facebook too much (just – wow)
8. What people’s hobbies are (never would have guessed some of them, wish I wouldn’t have known others)
9. How grumpy some people can be (post something happy people!)
10. How messed up some adds can be (why on earth would 4.0 technology assume I’d be interested in sales on kitchen-ware … they’re obviously tracking me wrong)

Pintrest, on the other hand, is a whole different source of things I wish I didn’t realize, mostly because they make me feel very underwhelming and unaccomplished!  A quote from the hilarious brand “yourecards” said, “You want productive? I just spent the last six hours on Pintrest and now I will complete an entire day’s worth of work in the remaining two hours.”  Funny, but that site does rope you in.  Personally, I go onto it about once a month just to make sure that the following things are still true.

1. Being able to “pin” something artsy does not make me (or many people as far as I can tell) an artist
2. According to the people I “follow” everyone is either: A) remodeling, B) dieting, C) part of a regimented new work out, D) having a themed party or E) planning to buy an entirely new wardrobe ASAP
3. I am not as “crafty, original, artsy” or “cool” as I thought I was
4. Maybe projects can be airbrushed like models on magazine covers because I’m pretty sure some of these things aren’t possible
5. There are more recipes than I could ever, would ever (or would never in my case) want to try
6. Many of my students are planning their weddings at 13 (it’s all they “pin” about)
7. My favorite pins are still the “nailed it” examples of what went horribly wrong (Is that evil that those are my favorite?)
8. As cultured as I like to think I am, there are always pictures of places I’ve never heard of and am pretty sure might not exist
9. I love, but cannot afford, any of the “outfit suggestion” montages all of my friends compile
 10. I have grown to fear “pinning” as I think others might then be mislead into thinking I am actually capable of creating said “pins”

Okay … so … that’s it!  I feel better!  Anyone else have anything to add?

Have a happy digital (or in my case, not-so-digital day),


7.21.14 Brother


In his amazing classic, White Christmas, Irving Berlin created one of my absolute favorite theatrical performances of all time to the tune of “Sisters.”  The scene is set where two sisters are singing about how utterly inseparable they are.  Growing up, my sister and I literally performed this song for the same enthusiastic crowd year after year (our parents).  Down to a perfect science, we would lip sync and choreograph a dance that would’ve definitely made Bing Crosby and Danny Kay fall for us instead of the originally cast sisters!   Well, as time wore on holiday after holiday, and we crept into our teenage years, there was one line of the song that became increasingly important, “Lord help the mister that comes between me and my sister.”  This mister had a few different identities early on, but by the time I started high school, it turned out my sister had a heart for only one man … my brother-in-law. 


Now I want one thing to be clear here … I never wanted a brother, I never asked for a brother; my sister and I had the sibling thing down.  We were four years apart, close enough to have a lot in common but far enough in age to never compete with one another for attention or boys. We hardly ever argued and she never subjected me to the list of horrors my friends with brothers could name.  I think the worst story I ever heard was one where my friend’s brother farted in a pillowcase, shoved him in it, then twisted the top closed and carried him around!  Brutal!  No!  No brothers for me … until high school, that is.  When my sister started dating, let’s just call him R.  I absolutely adored him from the start.  I didn’t want to, remind you–as I never desired the company a brother promised to bring, but I did.  I loved him!  He was funny and sweet, he doted on my sister without being annoying about it and paid attention to me!


He was the kind of guy who drove home behind my sister just to make sure she got there safe, the kind of guy who came home from college (two hours away) on a weeknight just to help me study for my my Honors Advanced Biology final.  R was (and still is) a genius … truly, not in the idealized “my brother’s a genius” way but actually the skyrocket IQ, certifiably, high school valedictorian kind.  The coolest thing is, he never let anyone know it.  He was approachable and relatable, he explained things in a way that made sense without making you feel stupid in the process.  Unlike the song, this “mister” never came between me and my sister, because he had my vote all along.


You may wonder what all this is about and why I chose now to share it, well, it is R’s birthday today, and as a gift to him, I wanted to let him (and my digital world) know that I consider him a real brother, not a brother-in-law.  And I think, even though we aren’t related by blood, we both share a trait of restlessness sometimes.  Both big dreamers, (though in completely different ways) we tend to judge ourselves on what we feel capable of achieving, instead of being proud of what we’ve done.  I know that now in his mid-thirties, he wonders if he’s accomplished everything he should have by now.  I see how he isn’t particularly satisfied, though he has a string of letters behind his name (including, but not limited to, M.D.). 


So today, as a sister, I just want him to know that regardless of the genius plans to come, and the breakthrough’s he’ll be a part of … to me, he’s already there.  A doctor, an avid businessman, a father of three and a husband to my perfect sister – what else could you possibly attain that could add up to more than that?  I know you still will though … break records and make impossible gains, but as your favorite guy Einstein once said, “The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.”  So embrace this birthday … take every moment of this beautiful life you’ve been given, and live it well my brother. The song link above is for you, and anyone else with an awesome brother.


Love your little sister,


7.16.14 The Condition of Being Human


So Dominic Monaghan once said, “Obviously the idea of being human is a very human idea.” This thought resonated with me today when I was reflecting on the truth that when it comes right down to it, what makes us human is really the ridiculous things we all go through that bind us together as a species – specifically … the embarrassing things.  Animals aside from homo sapiens never feel this emotion.  They go about their business without any fear of being seen doing the things they do, not so with us. There is a list I’ve been compiling in my head of all the things I’d be mortified to have anyone see me do, so I decided to share it.


1. Going to the bathroom: Animals do this with no shame what-so-ever, but if we so much leave a trace of a scent we’re devastated (ladies not men).  I actually have several friends who refuse to use public restrooms because they are paralyzed with the fear of someone realizing their body functions like everyone else.


2. Plunging the toilet: This means something significant enough happened during bathroom time to need to!  Whether your fault or not, I think plunging the toilet is equal parts humbling and humiliating and definitely humanizing to a fault.

3. Blowing your nose: There is no way around this one. Allergies, colds, winter … you name a season and I blow right through it. I wish I could be dainty about it and politely dab at my nose but it does nothing unless you get rid of what’s blocking you.

4. Getting sick: There is nothing less attractive than throwing up. Remember that disgusting powder they used to sprinkle on vomit when a kid threw up in school? Nightmare. The body will get rid of what it needs to, whether you’re too cool for it or not.

5. Zits: Pretty self-explanatory here … we’ve all gotten one (or more than one) at a really inopportune time. I think the worst was right before school pictures, and, cliche as it sounds … I’ve got the Sixth grade proof forever framed in my parent’s album of adolescent horrors. Yay middle school!


6. Doctor appointments: There may be no more belittling experience than having to show off all the parts we (well, most of us) so desperately try to hide.  I think my favorite is the dermatologist who methodically checks each and every square inch of your body for a polka-dot birthmark that may or may not have changed shape or color. Only one word for it – awkward.

7. Dentist appointments: In a stand up comedy show, Bill Cosby once did a stint about dentists. He was discussing the tools they used and said after the shot he, “Puts this thing in your mouth. This will suck up your face. The dentist goes outside to laugh at you. Now you sit, grown-up, intelligent human being, arguing with this thing.” I have SO been there. My favorite is the bib we need to wear as we watch ourselves drool profusely. Not sure if the clean-teeth feeling that lasts half a day is worth it or not.


I know there are many, many more of these “human” experiences, but I’ve embarrassed myself enough for one day.  So while you go on doing the things that make you normal (whether you’ll admit them or not) know you aren’t alone, and privately, we’re all suffering this condition (being human) together.


Literarily yours,


7.12.14 Standards


So I realize that I am a little bit vain. Not vain in an, “Oh aren’t I beautiful?” sort of way, but vain in the sense that I don’t want to be seen at less than what I think is my personal best. In college, I could never wear sweatpants to class, and even after being a mom of young kids without much time to call my own, I’ve always (well almost always) found time shower and do my makeup. I don’t want to look at myself in the mirror without it so why should anyone else have to? I wish I could say that I was more like Mary Poppins, you know … “practically perfect in every way”. But life just doesn’t happen like that. Sadly, I think that regardless of my effort, my standards may be slipping somewhat.

I will never forget when I was 21 years old and student teaching in a first grade classroom. My cooperating teacher was quite a bit older than me and in the senior parts of her career. It was snack time, and one of the snacks had spilled all over the floor. When I stooped to help her pick up the spill, I noticed that she would pop the occasional goldfish cracker into her mouth smiling. When I quirked an eyebrow, she grinned and said, “You’re too young and pretty to eat off the floor but I’m not.” Well, I’d like to tell her now that eight years later as a middle school teacher and mother of two, I have definitely eaten my fair share of spilled snacks. Not only that, but I have wiped my nose with a sock that I found on the floor because tissues were too far away. More often than not you will see my hair up on top of my head because there is no way I would sacrifice an extra hour of sleep to do my hair for real. And sometimes, favorite jeans and sweatshirts are worn multiple times before they find their way to the wash.

The other day after a long day out and about, I noticed that I had my shirt on inside out. Then a few days after that, I was horror struck to find out (after scratching a mosquito bite) that I must’ve been lost in my thoughts in the shower and had only shaved one leg! Can you say hot mess?

I haven’t let myself go, but sometimes I think I’ve begun to give myself a little break. A break to be a bit more human, and it’s not something I’m always proud of. I like being neat and orderly with fresh makeup and a cute outfit. But sometimes, it’s not in the cards. It was on a day like this, where I felt windblown and disheveled that I waltzed into Walmart. I saw an older gentleman with a kind smile and decided to return one back to him. He sweetly sauntered up to me and said, “I don’t mean to be fresh, but you sure are pretty.” While I didn’t believe him for a minute, can I tell you how much that complement meant to me? I smiled broadly and said, “You’re too kind, I really needed to hear that today.” It made me wonder how many of us are just one complement away from an exponentially better day.

Amy Bloom, in her coming-of-age novel wisdom, once said, “You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed. And you are beautiful.” Why can’t we believe this? Why can’t we accept that mess and masterpiece are not really all that far apart. If you don’t believe me just go to a museum of modern art and you’ll realize that there is sometimes the most beauty in seemingly scattered mediums on canvas or clay.

D. Baker once said, “Make an impact not an impression.” I guarantee that the man in Walmart did not complement me for my haphazard appearance, but for the smile I chose to give him. What we’ve got going on in the inside translates into the beauty or lack there of we see on the outside.

So true, my standards may have slipped in terms of the labels I wear or the styles I try or the delicacies I now eat off the floor, but I will say that I am trying to live beautifully from the inside out. I hope you do the same.

Literarily yours,

7.8.14 Comic Contradictions


I’d like to take a second to introduce you to all the morons in my life … the oxymorons – the crazy string of paradoxes that just don’t make sense to me at all. It might seem random or even slightly ridiculous … but it has become apparent to me that there are some examples of daily conundrums that remain a mystery to me.

Mini Vans
There is nothing mini about a van.  Seriously, it is slightly hilarious when you think about it, because commercially, these beasts are sold on the foundation of all the cargo space they contain.  This week I’ve been driving my son to day camp and it’s one “mini” van after another, crammed in parking spaces that are way too small to be next to one another with a slue of kids, bags and caffine-craving parents bustling out of the fuel-efficient monsters.

Righteous Road Rage
I am a Christian.  It is not a secret; it is a source of great pride to me, and though not a big fan of bumper stickers personally, I do smile at the little Jesus fish or church tags.  This smile, however, is quickly replaced by an, “are you serious right now,” look that glazes over my face when one of, said religious vehicles, decides to whip out a road-rage attitude and cut me off or zoom past someone beside me.  Doesn’t really speak well to the sticker if you know what I mean.

Crazy Before the Crash
Barbara Park once said, “I find the term ‘perfect child’ to be an oxymoron.” This is true, because even the most perfect child with the best of intentions becomes a complete spaz when they’re over tired.  What is ironic is that this sleep-deprived little angel that should be sweet, with heavy hugs and drowsy smiles instead becomes a total waking nightmare.  Tantrums and tears, incoherent excuses and arguments take over the precious moments of sleep the entire family begins to lose.

Fighting Unfair
In the famous children’s book Because of Winn Dixie, Kate DiCamillo writes, “You can only love what you got when you got it.” Such simple truth and yet, so easy to dismiss and misdirect when you’re frustrated.  I find that most of the arguments my husband and I have, and have always had, center around missing one another, and all the time we don’t have together.  Instead of using the time wisely and cherishing the moments, we sometimes waste them with petty, insignificant bicker-fests formed over nothing more than the absence of time we’re about to have. Riddle me this.  What a loss, and yet, I know it will most-likely happen again because just admitting, “I miss you!” would be way too easy.

(Un) Healthy Health-Nuts
My final oxymoronic-rant is based on the unhealthy habits of healthy people.  Now, I consider myself among this population, but I do have to give myself some credit that at least I don’t partake in the following:
Diet Drinks – have you never heard of aspartame people? Neurology is going to matter to your future … don’t go there!
Smoking – the billboard at the gas station near us lists the price of a carton above the flashing warning “smoking causes cancer.”  The companies HAVE to admit it, but apparently they can’t make you care.
Reduced Fat – while I applaud the effort, any bit of a nutrition course will teach you that less is more … this doesn’t necessarily mean that eating the less-caloric version of a food with fifteen added chemical ingredients to enhance flavor is beneficial to your body. Eat informed.


So there you have it.  A tidbit of my random observations in this world of incongruity we call “normal.” According to Henry Ward Beecher, “Children are unpredictable. You never know what inconsistency they are going to catch you in next.” I know I’m a part of the oxymoronic-lifestyle we all live, but sometimes I think calling ourselves (or others!) out on our paradoxes is worth a look and a laugh. Got any to share?


Literarily yours,

7.5.14 What Day is it Again?


Today is a lost day to me … a day without a name that seems to be tossed randomly in the order of the regular week.  It is one of those days that feels like it doesn’t have a place because I lost a day driving home from our vacation.  Einstein once wisely said, “I love to travel, but I hate to arrive.”  And I know why!  Getting home is not the, “Ahh, we’re home,” that it should be, it’s more like, “Oh my God, what happened here while we were out?”  

One thing I’ll never understand is how a house can get so filthy when no one is home!  I swear it was one mess after another.  First we were greeted by a scene mimicking the wild west, little pet-hair tumble weeds drifting past our feet while swirls of dust clouds seemed to raise up off the surfaces of every counter.  When we went outside, I kid you not, there were weeds the size of small trees that needed to be hacked down.  After grocery shopping and trying to get organized, we realized that our ice-dispenser froze up so that trying to get ice out resulted in an avalanche of compacted frost-shavings.  

Working through all the little glitches after having not been on a timeline anyway made the day more random.  Walking out of the grocery store, I literally had to ask myself what day it was and go backwards in my mind to figure it out.  Not to fear, I realized it was Saturday eventually, and thanked God I had one more day to look forward to of the weekend to get myself back on track.  I should just embrace the thinking of Caskie Stinnett who said, “I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine.”  But I have found that without a routine I’m a complete scatter-brained mess. There’s something to be said for calendars, planners and iphone alerts … I think I’d forget my own birthday without them.  

Exhausted and spent, my husband and I curled up on our king-sized bed with our two kids (they didn’t have any trouble remembering it was Saturday, the day they get to sleep in mom and dad’s bed).  While we lay there with a book to read, my son said, “It’s nice to be home.”  Sweet, but in my near-delirium of a chore-filled day following a sleepless night, I might actually disagree … the ocean seemed to be calling me back from the miles between us.  Dreaming of where I just came from seems a delightful escape to what I came home to, so, in the words of Chuck Palahniuk, “I’m sorry if this all seems a little rushed and desperate.  It is.”  So through sleep, I’m off to beach once more.

Literarily yours,

7.1.14 A Little Less Than Fabulous



According to Coco Chanel, “A woman should be two things: classy and fabulous.”  But she never talked about how absolutely time-consuming and laborious this expectation could be, because most women, if they’re anything like me, don’t wake up classy and fabulous. They wake up exhausted. They wake up with pillow wrinkles tattooed on their skin, smudges of leftover make up under their eyes and hair that hasn’t yet been made to conform to the will of a brush, hairdryer, and flat iron.

I was comforted once by reading that Cindy Crawford once said, “Even I don’t look like Cindy Crawford when I wake up.” I wanted to chat about this topic today to honor women for all we do to ourselves just to continue to look presentable!

I’ll never forget that early on in our dating years, my husband admitted that there was nothing less attractive in his mind than a woman with  facial hair. While I giggled and agreed, I know that the second he turned around my hand went to my upper lip and jawline just to be sure. From that time on, I started waxing my face just in case. If you’ve never had it done, let me paint you a little picture.  Getting waxed is something like having someone slather hot honey all over your face, put strips of bandages over the top of the honey, and then rip them off as fast as they can. Talk about the Band-Aid effect! Ouch! After that, you get to do the walk of shame, whereby you leave the waxing room into the general area of the salon and everyone gets to see your now raw, red mustache-would-have-been. There’s absolutely no denying what just happened, especially since every woman already knows. You’d think the humiliation and pain would be over there, but then for the rest of the day, no matter how many times you wash your face, you have little sticky bits of wax residue that continue to stay put and random flyaway hairs from your head adhere to your face with no hope of being released. All I’ve got to say is, he better appreciate my hairlessness!

Sometimes, on a serious lapse-of-judgment day, my husband will make the mistake of asking why it takes me so long to shower and get ready when he too has to shave. Let me remind you that I have to shave about sixty percent of my body where you have to shave less than six. He once naïvely asked me, “Do you shave every day? Couldn’t you just let it go for a couple of days?”

In my mind I was thinking, “Sure… Why don’t I just not shave for a couple of days, then you can sell me as the story of the long-lost Sasquatch to the newspapers and we can pay off our debt. But that wouldn’t have been a very ladylike answer, so instead, I gave a tight-lipped smile and just said – “No.”

In terms of things to do in the bathroom, there’s no comparison, so don’t try. It will always take me longer because I have more to do, don’t question it, insert, “Yes dear, by the way, you look beautiful,” and our day
will go just fine.

In terms of style, I once read somewhere that women in the Victorian times wore corsets that were so tight that they would literally squish their intestines. While I think we are done with this practice of masochism, men always wonder why women don’t eat too much on the first date, let me shed some light on the subject. It isn’t that we wouldn’t like to eat, it’s that we know that the clothes that we’ve chosen for “said date” are formfitting to the extreme leaving us no room for an extra bite. Just last night I was out on a date with my husband and while my skirt was incredibly classy and fabulous, (Coco, I did you proud) it was anything but comfortable. Still, it warranted about six complements, thus filling me enough to be able to abstain from much dinner.

One place I will admit to being less-than-fabulous at is night-wear. When I go to sleep, I want to be comfortable, and that does not include any of the classy or fabulous nightgowns I have. I’m something more of a boxers and T-shirt kind of gal.  I have one pair of oversized PJ pants that I know my husband absolutely hates, mostly because they are so large that he cannot find my legs.  I love them! Sometimes comfort wins out over style, like when it’s too dark to see me anyway!

When it comes to bras, they’re torture. Most women, whether they admit it or not, can’t wait to get the thing off at the end of the day. And in terms of underwear, any girl who tells you a thong is comfortable is lying. When your dentist tells you to floss daily, I don’t think that’s what they had in mind.

Now really, I’m not complaining. I love being a woman, but I do agree with the unknown quote that says, “It’s hard to be a woman. You need to think like a man, act like a lady, look like a young girl and work like a horse.” Well…giddyup!  Today is a brand-new day; here’s to being fabulous-ish!

Literarily yours,