“She was like the moon—part of her was always hidden away.” ~ Dia Reeves, Bleeding Violet

Early Morning in a Tulip Field by stoneysteiner (FCC)

                   

“. . . must I polish
Madness daily, rub nacre into a world

We must climb inside the world to live.
A sand-grain in the mind tells us to survive.” ~ Dan Beachy-Quick, from “Sonnet”

Saturday, late afternoon. Sunny, beautiful, 70°.

Well, I just lost my post, everything. And I was almost finished. I’m not sure if I’m going to try to recreate, or just chuck it all and go crawl into a hole and hide. Let’s just see where this takes us, shall we?

Seattle Tulips by marbla123 (FCC)

I had planned to post yesterday, but once I gathered my quotes, my heart just wasn’t into it. Truthfully, I was a bit sad yesterday, more than a bit. It could have had something to do with getting a text from Corey in the morning from . . . Antigua. I could have had something to do with him being there, surrounded by blue seas and white sands, and me being here, surrounded by little league parents screaming at their children in the park next door.

Hmm . . . but today’s foul mood? Squarely on the shoulders of our cell provider.

Eamonn awoke me this morning to tell me that we had no service, which, for him, is akin to the end of the world as he is completely unable to communicate with his friends on a face-to-face basis. I mean, that’s so old-fashioned. I rolled over and woke up a short time later with yet another migraine, the remnants of which are still haunting me—dizziness and light sensitivity.

What’s new?

“Everything is imprinted forever with what it once was.” ~ Jeanette Winterson, from The Stone Gods

I spent some time with Alexis at my mother’s house, cataloging what she has put over there so that she can update her registries at Target and Babies r Us. One thing is for certain: She doesn’t need any more small Onesies, bibs, or blankets.

Alexis has been having some bad days lately. It’s that pregnant woman syndrome of I’m big and awkward, and there’s never enough time. Actually, I think that she might deliver a bit early if she’s anything like me. I was early with all four of my babies. I just hope that she can make it into mid-June, at least.

Field of Tulips, Ottawa, Ontario, by Vince Alongi (FCC)

Taking care of the puppy is proving to be a full-time job (not saying a word about that), and no amount of puppy adorableness can compensate for the work. She was telling me about her latest meltdown, in which she just kept saying, “I’m so tired,” and Mike tried to make her feel better. My daughter is very much like I was at her age in that she’s obsessive about cleaning and having things orderly and in their proper places (interesting how that goes away with the years). But because of her OCD, she creates work for herself, and then feels overwhelmed when there is too much to do.

I know that she’s also stressed over the whole house-hunting thing. They haven’t started to look, and they want to, but should they do it now or wait? I remember when I was pregnant with Alexis I took her father all over Northern Virginia, so convinced I was that we needed to buy a house before I gave birth. Of course, we did not have the funds to do so, and we didn’t, but it was that pressing need to have a good place to bring the new baby home to, some place that was ours.

We were fortunate, though, in that we lived in a spacious townhouse in Alexandria with three bedrooms, a big kitchen, and a fenced yard. She and Mike live in a small, one-bedroom apartment. I  can relate to how she is feeling.

“9. Introducing Decimals

A dream, like trying
to remember, breaks open words
for other,
hidden meanings.” ~ Rosmarie Waldrop, from The Ambition of Ghosts:  I. Remembering into Sleep

So Corey texted me to let me know that the phones are back on. As I’ve said, I could live without them, but at the moment I probably need them to work as my phone number is on the invitation for RSVPs. Alexis pointed out that it would probably not be the best idea to have my mother take the calls as she would just turn around and call me anytime someone called her, and chances are good that my mother would keep the person on the phone forever drilling them for information.

Windmill in an Oregon Tulip Field by McD22 (FCC)

RSVP: répondez, s’il vous plaît. Texted. I always find it curious how words and phrases make it into the lexicon, and most people never give the origins a second thought. Me? I’m a purist when it comes to language, so I’m having a bit of a tough time with certain new words. Friend as a verb, for instance. It’s that whole turning nouns into verbs thing (like text to texted) that really drives me crazy. I still do not recognize impact as a verb.

I know. Language is a fluid thing. It evolves constantly. It’s just that when it evolves to bastardize existing words that I shudder.

Anyway, back to the phone bill. Our cell carrier got enough money out of us to run a small, third-world country for a week. No exaggeration. It’s that huge bill from Lithuania. Bigger than when we used our cell phones when we went away on our first cruise. Apparently they were not willing to work with us, so essentially, the bills are screwed once again. I hope that eldest son enjoys that very expensive piece of technology with which he cannot live . . .

So very tired of this.

“Some people remind me of sharp dazzling diamonds. Valuable but lifeless and loveless. Others, of the simplest field flowers, with hearts full of dew and with all the tints of celestial beauty reflected in their modest petals.” ~ Anaïs Nin

About my big plans for a Sonic milkshake? Never happened.

Right after I finished my post, I was overcome with a serious bout of nausea, which kept me in the bathroom on and off for an hour. Haven’t had that happen in quite a while. I was literally so sick that I had to ask Eamonn to pick up Brett from his class, which, thankfully, he did.

Tulip Fields at Table Cape, Tasmania, by martinhoward (FCC)

Now, unfortunately, my stomach (brain?) is associating Sonic milkshakes with throwing up, so I don’t know when or if I’ll ever be able to have one again.

I remember when I worked at Dillard’s, I would often have a milkshake from Johnny Rocket’s for lunch. Just a milkshake. I worked it off in a few hours of running around the floor and up and down the stairs. And since I don’t have that level of physical activity in my life any more, it’s probably a good thing that I didn’t have a milkshake for dinner, or at least, that’s what I’m telling myself.

Tillie is trying to crawl into my lap to get my attention, so I think that I’ll finish now and go read more of book four in the Game of Thrones series after playing a rousing game of stick. My life is so filled with fleeting wonders of excitement that I can scarcely contain my enthusiasm.

More later. Peace.

Music by Mindy Gledhill, “Anchor”

                   

Genesis

Cylinder sacks of water filling the oceans,
endless bullets of water,
skins full of water rolling and tumbling
as we came together.
As though light broke us apart.
As though light came with the rubble of words,
though we die among the husks of remembering.
It is as we knew it would be
in the echoes of endless terminals,
in the slow scaled guises of ourselves
when we came together in the envelopes of ourselves,
the bare shadow, the breath of words invisible;
as slight errors repeating themselves;
as degradation passes like madness through a crowd.
It was not ordained.
It was one drop of salt water against another.
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One Hundred Things

A dock at sunset on White Sands Island in the Maldives.

These are the things . . .

I realized that even though I’ve done a few memes on here, I haven’t ever really talked about myself completely, honestly. So I thought that I would compose a random list, just to see where it takes me. So here we go:

  1. I like broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts. About the only vegetable I really hate is okra, and that’s because it’s slimey and hairy.
  2. I’ve never eaten escargot. No matter how much garlic you put on it, it’s still a snail.
  3. I love shrimp, but I will not eat lobster. If someone around me orders lobster, I make clawing motions with my hands and say “help me” in a high-pitched voice so as to shame them for eating something that could live for years and years in the ocean.
  4. I also will not eat lamb or veal. Do you know how they make veal? If you did, then you couldn’t possibly eat it.
  5. I love chocolate. I have tried to give up chocolate many times as it is not good for my headaches, and it is full of calories, but it keeps coming back and jumping into my mouth when I’m not looking.

    kayaking-at-first-landing-state-park-by-karen-roberts
    Kayaking at First Landing State Park by Karen Roberts
  6. The last time I was timed, I typed 126 words a minute. That was a long time ago, and I type much faster now.
  7. I have gone kayaking, and actually really enjoyed it. If I had the opportunity, I would own my own kayak and use it on the Chesapeake Bay.
  8. I like to go hiking in the foothills of Virginia, but I haven’t done it since I hurt my back. My ex and I once went hiking/camping with some friends of ours. The girl wore penny loafers to go hiking. That was her idea of old shoes. I ended up carrying the guy’s pack on the hike back. Not outdoor people.
  9. I love my dogs and treat them like children. Dogs are meant to be loved and talked to. People who abuse dogs should be put in jail as far as I’m concerned. A man who will beat a dog will beat a child or a woman. Don’t ever believe any differently.
  10. I enjoy the smell of fresh cut lilacs, rosemary, gardenias, and lavender.
  11. Butterflies are small miracles.
  12. tiger-swallowtail-on-lantana
    Tiger Swallowtail on Lantana by L. Liwag
  13. My three children, who are no longer small, are still my pride and joy, even when they screw up. After all, who doesn’t screw up once in a while?
  14. I would love to have more children, even though I am considered past my childbearing years. But what does that mean, anyway? I really don’t care.
  15. If I could live anywhere in the world, I would live somewhere where I could see water and mountains at the same time.
  16. I believe in nationalized medicine and a flat tax rate.
  17. I am a liberal liberal. I don’t mind paying more taxes if it means that there will be better schools and better healthcare. My only protest against paying more taxes is that I want the rich to pay their fair share, too, and to stop having so many loopholes so that they end up paying less than those of us in the middle of the road.
  18. I miss my father every day of every week of every year. I see him in my dreams often. I believe that he is looking out for me as best he can.
  19. When I was at the beach once, I asked god for a sign that things were going to be all right, and then the waves pulled back, and a perfect shell was there at my feet.
  20. I believe in angels.
  21. I wish that I remembered more from my publishing class on computer systems, but it was such a painful experience the first time that I think that I have blocked everything that I managed to learn.
  22. I love Beowulf (not the movie, the written version)
  23. I wish that I looked like Angelina Jolie, but I wish more that I had her ability to go to poor countries and do something for the people who live there.
  24. angelina-jolie-goodwill-ambassador
    Angelina Jolie as Goodwill Ambassador
  25. I collect stuffed bears, and I buy the ones who look like they need a home.
  26. I have a calendar fetish. I always have at least three calendars of my own: one next to my desk, one in my purse, and one in the kitchen. If I had more places to put them, I would have more.
  27. I am a speed reader, but I don’t scan in order to read more quickly. For example, I read each of the Harry Potter Books, even the longest one, in just one day.
  28. I have read The Lord of the Rings more times than I can remember.
  29. The English Patient is one of the most beautiful books ever written, and the movie is still one of my favorites.
  30. I get silly drunk about two times a year, but otherwise, I drink very seldom.
  31. I don’t do illegal drugs, and the worst thing I ever did when I was a teenager was speed, and I hated the way that it made me feel.
  32. I love to learn. I have one bachelor’s degree, and two master’s degrees. I would go for another degree in a heartbeat.
  33. I miss being in the front of the classroom but not enough to teach in the Norfolk Public School system.
  34. I’ve never been in a girl fight. How utterly stupid.
  35. I am very sentimental. I can cry at a Hallmark commercial, a Lifetime movie, or a YouTube clip. Sarah McLachlan’s commercials about animals in shelters just kills me.
  36. I am fiercely loyal and protective.
  37. I am an Aquarius.
  38. Eamonn and Caitlin’s birthdays are within ten days of each other in March (Pisces); Alexis and Brett’s birthdays are within three days of each other in July (Cancer).
  39. It’s far easier to give birth in March than in July.
  40. I’m not afraid of needles, as in having blood drawn, but I hate it when I get someone who is not good at putting in an IV. That hurts.
  41. I talk back to the computer and other inanimate objects. I also carry on conversations with other drivers, but they don’t know it.
  42. I love coffee and hot tea. I drink cream in most types of hot tea except for Earl Gray and Oolong.
  43. claire-lerner-blue-tea-cup1
    "Blue Tea Cup," by Claire Lerner
  44. My favorite dessert is Tiramisu, followed closely by real New York cheesecake.
  45. I used to be a shopaholic but have since reformed, for a variety of reasons.
  46. I believe that psychopharmaceuticals were developed for a reason and that no one should be ashamed of having to take them.
  47. I hate it when people jump to conclusions.
  48. I have a terrible habit of correcting other people’s English.
  49. My husband is younger than I am, and when we first got together, no one thought that it would last. We’ve been together for nine years, and it is the best relationship of my life.
  50. My mother is without a doubt the one person in this world who can get to me more than anyone else. She knows exactly what buttons to push.
  51. I wish that Alexis believed in herself more, but at this point, I have to let her be who she is and try not to interfere.
  52. My last beta, Mulder, decided that he didn’t like me and wouldn’t look at me any more. I took it very personally. He doesn’t live here any more.
  53. blue-beta
    Blue Beta: Mulder Did Not Look Like This
  54. I am hooked on crime shows: CSI, Without a Trace, Law & Order. I do not like sitcoms.
  55. Heidi Klum is über gorgeous, especially when she is pregnant.
  56. American society is fixated on how people look and doesn’t pay nearly enough attention to educating its children.
  57. Someday, I want to go to Australia, Ireland, and Greece.
  58. I love to take pictures but don’t like to have my picture taken.
  59. Cruises cease to be fun when you run out of money.
  60. My big goal in life is to be debt-free and to have good credit again.
  61. All of my children inherited my propensity for depression as I inherited it from my father. Sometimes genetics really sucks.
  62. I wish that Mari lived nearby so that we could spend time together again.
  63. I need to get off my ass and put together my book, but I am too scared of the whole rejection process.  
  64. point-woronzof-sunset-2-by-janson-jones
    Point Woronzof Sunset by Janson Jones of Floridana Alaskiana
  65. I managed a newsroom when I was 19-years-old.
  66. One day, I will figure out what I want to be when I grow up.
  67. Ending sentences in a preposition really bothers me.
  68. I love to use quotations by other people in my own work. It helps me to focus.
  69. I love sunsets and sunrises. I cannot think of anything more beautiful than a painted sky.
  70. I miss getting dressed, putting on make-up and going to work everyday. I love make-up.
  71. I hate dreaming that I am at work.
  72. I believe that men and women can be friends, but sooner or later, sex tries to get in the way.
  73. I love music: classical, pop, classic rock, country, new age (whatever the hell that means), opera, blues, even some hard rock.
  74. My birthstone is garnet, which I love, but I also love pearls, aquamarines, and diamonds.
  75. One day, I am going to have a big diamond ring, just because.
  76. I used to love to wear hats, but now I just look silly.
  77. I have long wavy hair, and I would like a new hairstyle, but I look like a monkey when I have short hair.
  78. I usually eat one big meal a day (dinner), and maybe a snack, but I cannot lose weight. I hate that.
  79. I can be very impatient, which can lead to my being snarky, especially when I’m driving.
  80. I find that I always end up telling Corey where to park, even though he doesn’t need my help. I wonder why I do that?speed-limit-sign
  81. I speed on the interstate, but I obey the speed limit in the city.
  82. I desperately need a new old car that is just mine because Eamonn ruined Izzie the Trooper, and it smells like cigarettes.
  83. I love ankle bracelets and earrings, and I love watches, but am down to about four now that still work.
  84. I smoked during college exams, but I hate cigarettes, and cigarette smoke.
  85. I don’t look my age, but that is because of good genes and Oil of Olay Regenerist, and I don’t ever tell people how old I really am.
  86. Writing my blog posts is my daily therapy.
  87. Both Shakes and Tillie snore, but Tillie snores louder. I snore louder than anyone in the house.
  88. I hate my body. I feel like a sausage most of the time.
  89. I really love shoes and boots, especially boots.
  90. I wear Christmas socks all year long.
  91. We are not friendly with most of our neighbors. I wonder why.
  92. I have never really wanted to own a horse, but I have considered living on an old farm.
  93. I am a hoarder when it comes to books and sentimental things like old cards and letters.
  94. I used to own a yard tractor and would mow the yard in my bathing suit. Of course, that was when I was in good shape. My nasty neighbor to my left thought that it was scandolous.
  95. I hold a grudge, expecially if I feel that I have been wronged unfairly.
  96. I think about revenge, but have never actually taken it.
  97. Bad manners offend me, and my sons know this and use it to drive me crazy.
  98. I wash my hands a lot, but I don’t think that I am OCD about it.
  99. One day, my bedroom will finally be painted, and I will be able to put in my new furniture.
  100. I like antiques even though my mother calls them “tired, old things” and believes that people should move on.  
  101. yoda-1
    Original Yoda
  102. I have a hard time moving on, and don’t adjust to change very well.
  103. I like the first three Star Wars movies (chronologically) a lot better than the last three (numerically).
  104. Corey brings me a cup of hot mint tea every night before bed. Isn’t that thoughtful?
  105. I am a pantheist: I believe that god, some kind of god, exists in all things: people, animals, trees, water, and that if we listen carefully enough, we can become one with all things in nature.
  106. One day, I will finally go on a poetry retreat.
  107.  

That’s quite enough for today. Peace.

O Christmas Tree

Ms. Claus Has a Dilemmasmall-christmas-tree

I have nowhere to put my Christmas tree this year. The living room still has the new bedroom furniture in boxes in front of the fireplace, which is where we normally put the tree—to the left of the fireplace in the corner. However, there is no access to the corner because of the huge boxes. The only other possible place is the space between the living room and the dining room. However that space is currently being occupied by what I like to call an art nouveau sculpture: a chair on which is perched precariously a box, another box, some file folder, various papers; behind the chair is another box containing mysterious content; next to the mysterious content box is what I believe to be an old CD holder, some more file folders, possibly some office supplies, and other colorful pieces of unidentifiable stuff, for lack of a better term.

The sculpture is being held together by a substance known as dust, which, when left alone for months at a time, becomes very durable. No one has tried to move this sculpture because we have become so used to its presence that it is now a part of our daily lives. We walk around it, reach over it, and occasionally add a new piece to it in an attempt to expand its essence. Even the dogs give it a wide berth.

I have lost several items over the past year, a few books, a sweatshirt, some sunglasses. It is entirely possible that they have been absorbed by the statue. I have no doubts that it has begun to take on a life of its own, which is why I no longer have any interaction with it. It is slowly moving towards the table on which the printer sits. I expect it to mind meld with the dining room computer at any time. In a way, it reminds me of the plant in Little Shop of Horrors. Any day now, I fully expect it to demand to be fed something or else it will devour the Jack Russells.

Nevertheless, until someone tackles this mass of clutter disguised as art, I will have no place in which to set up a Christmas tree. This will not be a good thing for all involved, believe me. I keep to myself for most of the time, have given up the living room and the big screen HD television to those who use the XBox. I don’t use the dining room computer because I have my own nice wide screen right here in the bedroom. But when it comes to Christmas and the Christmas tree, that’s when I have to draw the line. That’s my holiday, and I refuse to budge on this issue.

Even though I stress myself out completely in the attempt to create a wonderful Christmas each and every year, I still go through the madness. I want the house decorated inside and outside. I want the tree up, and I want all of the lights on it. To add to the madness, my OCD about Christmas lights is one of the things that I have not relinquished. I wrap the lights on the branches, not just around, which means that I end up putting about 12 strands of lights on the tree, and I won’t give this job to anyone else because no one does it the way in which I want it done. Admittedly, when I’m finished, I am not pleasant to be around, so we usually decorate the tree in a two-step process: lights on one day, ornaments on the next. I do lights, everyone else does the ornaments.

I do the cards and most of the wrapping. Brett has started to help with the wrapping, which is nice, but even he can’t understand why I get to OCD over wrapping presents. Why three strands of ribbon instead of one? I love to make presents look beautiful even if no one really notices. It’s just part of the tradition that I’ve created over the years, a tradition that albeit is more stressful than anything else, and one that I refuse to let go of even though it sends me off the deep end. If you are trying to find logic here, there is none. Believe me, Corey has been trying for years, and he has finally just accepted the madness rather than try to understand it.

Truthfully, I think that really it’s my last connection to doing things the way in which I used to that I just cannot let go of, no matter how much it costs me. I love Christmas. I love the lights. I love the trees. I love the packages. I love to give things to people I love. Corey doesn’t love Christmas in the way that I do, so he doesn’t understand my compulsion about all things Christmas. I want him to love Christmas in the way that I do, but he doesn’t. I try to understand that not everyone likes the holidays, but the kid in me wants to pout and make everyone love this holiday.

I’ve thought about it a lot, and I’m sure that it goes back to my childhood. Being an only child didn’t necessarily mean that I got a lot for Christmas because actually, I didn’t. But as far back as I can remember, we always had nice celebrations at Christmas. In England, Father Christmas would come to school, and we would have Christmas pudding and sing lot and lots of carols. When I was about eight or nine and my dad was out to sea at Christmas, we would spend the holidays either at Great Bridge with all of my cousins, or we would go to Winston Salem to spend the holidays with my mother’s other sister and my cousins there. So it was always a time for family. My mother always made sure that I was surrounded by lots of people when Dad wasn’t there, so I have very warm, loving memories of Christmas as a child.

It was never about the presents. It was about the season. As I got older, I carried that with me, and I created my own traditions, and I don’t want to let go of these. The boys have always gotten up really early and cheated by looking in the gift bags, which is why I wrap about half of the presents. We always unwrap presents as a family so that everyone pays attention to what other people are getting. There are always presents from Ms. Claus and from the dogs, too.

Everyone has homemade stockings, and filling the stockings is as important as the presents. No one ever knows what might show up in their stockings. And of course, when the kids were younger, we left a plate of cookies forgrinch Santa and some milk. The boys asked me if I ate the cookies, and I could honestly say that I did not becaue I didn’t.

I suppose, in the end, for me, Christmas is still magical. I am still filled with wonder and hope, which is why one day very soon, someone in this family is going to have to kill the beast that has grown in the dining room so that I can have my Christmas Tree. Otherwise, the Grinch may take up residence until the problem is fixed, and that just won’t be good for anyone. We’re going to have my Christmas, dammit, even if I have to kill everyone in the process.

More later. Peace.

We’re Down to Hours, and the Silliness Begins

Mommies, Don’t Let Your Daughters Grow Up to Be Rebels

Pepé Le Pew Couldn’t Have Done It Better

When I was a child, I loved that French skunk Pepé Le Pew: “Ah, chérie. Where are you? It is I. Pepé. I am looking for you.” And poor Pepé. He could never quite understand why the female cat would run away from him, why people would faint when he came around. And so, when the governator received a call from French President Nicolas Sarkozy, of course she was all aflutter when that accent came through le telefone pour le governor Sarah P.

What she didn’t know was that she was being punked, on air, by the Quebec comedy duo, “The Masked Avengers.” Now I do have to give them props, they gave her several clues along the way that she was not speaking with the real president, aside from the Pepé Le Pew accent. For example, the shooting the animals from the helicopter comment? Or how about his special American advisor Johnny Halladay (French singer)? Too remote? Okay, I’ll let her pass for not knowing the translation for lipstick on a pig (de rouge a levre sur un cochon).

But really, she didn’t get an inkling something was up when he said, “the prime minister of Canada Stef Carse” ? I mean, she’s the one who is always bragging about being next door neighbors with Canada, but she didn’t know Stephen Harper’s name . . . and then the Prime Minister of Quebec versus the Premiere of Quebec (okay, maybe splitting hairs, but she still didn’t recognize that the name was wrong). And come on, did she really think that a head of state was going to tell her that his wife was “hot in bed”? But worse than that, she said to “give her a big hug for me.” Omigawd. You do not tell a head of state to give his wife a big hug from you. Jeez-o-pete. Were you raised in a barn?

Moving on. Marcel the guy with bread under his armpit? Okay, I snorted out loud with that one. To which she replied: “Right, that’s what it’s all about, the middle class and government needing to work for them.” I think that it was at this point that the guys on the other end decided that they probably couldn’t go on much longer or they might pee in their pants.

To which I have to ask, who are her handlers? What numbskull handed her the phone? Don’t they know anything about protocol? Are they for real? Is this aide now looking for other meaningful employment at a nearby McDonald’s as she should be for allowing the Republican VP candidate to be embarrassed for seven minutes on international radio and television, even more than usual? Good golly miss molly.

Who We Are is What We Put on Our Walls

I don’t know if any of you have noticed, but my new masthead is actually an inset of a picture of one of my collages. I kept trying to find the right picture for my masthead, something that would reflect the real me, and then it dawned on me: nothing would reflect me better than a piece of me. So I took a picture of my last bulletin board at work, and I cropped a piece of it. I really wish that I could have put more of the whole picture up there, but there is only so much space allowed for the image, so I took what I could get, and I really wanted to get my ERA NOW pin in the shot.

My offices have always been very, very cluttered, by choice. I have always reasoned that if I am going to spend over one third of my life in some place, then I need to feel comfortable in that place, and so I nest there. I bring in books, mostly reference books, but a few philosophy books, lots and lots of pictures of my family, but also pictures that I have taken of various landscapes, and then my little collection of minutiae that I have built up over the years—an ashtray from Paris, a running gnome with chipped feet, a Waterford business card holder, a clay fish that my son made in Bible school, a German knife letter holder that I traded an old Volkswagen for (long stupid story), and then my collage collection, which has taken many years to amass, and I have to tailor to fit my office size.

I mention all of this because I just read an article by Bill Bishop in “Slate Magazine” that talks about a very interesting theory: Republicans tend to be neater than Democrats. Really? Apparently, Sam Gosling, a psychology professor at the University of Texas, and three other colleagues, have posited In an unpublished paper that liberals and conservatives differ in “two major personality dimensions.” Their paper, which is titled “The Secret Lives of Liberals and Conservatives,” looked for the underlying personality traits that defined left and right.

It seems that we liberals are more open to experiences, and more motivated by the curiosity and diversity of the experiences. Whereas conservatives are conscientious, follow the rules, have self-control, and like order. The professors used college students as their test subjects, and took polls, asked questions, and looked at the students’ rooms for information. Conservative subjects had more cleaning products!

Now there is just one thing wrong with the professors’ study. They didn’t break it down by gender. I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be stereotypical here, but I think that gender, in a study about neatness, would make a difference, regardless of political leanings. For example, when I was in college, my OCD was rampant. I not only cleaned my apartment, I cleaned friends’ apartments. No kidding. One of my best male friends happened to be very, very Republican. He was a complete slob. His apartment was filthy. I cleaned it—when he let me. However, the reverse can also be true. My oldest son and daughter for example, are both liberals, and when my daughter was 16, my father asked if someone had robbed her room (I don’t think that he was kidding). My son, who has since moved on from his neat phase, used to keep his room impeccably clean. You just never know who will be neat and who won’t.

Now as to the other part of their study on carrying over to work life and offices, the professors claim that conservatives’ offices “tended to be more conventional, less stylish, and less comfortable compared with liberal offices. Liberals’ offices were more colorful and contained more CDs and a greater variety of books.” I would have to agree with them on this point. Not just because of my own track record with offices, but because of my observations of other people’s offices. At ODU, for example, in the English Department, most professors’ offices were filled with wonderful, eclectic things. Whereas at the government contractor where I worked in Northern Virginia, it was predominantly rigid, and boring. The most exciting thing in one of my boss’s offices was a Porsche magazine.

And then there was the time in which I was stuck in a cubicle. Omigawd. Just send me into the circles of hell, why don’t you. But, hundreds of push pins and a lot of tape, and voila. It was just like a cubicle covered with as much crap as I could fit into a 10’x10′ space without the walls falling down. And boy did my boss hate it . . .

A Little Ironic Night Music

Found this little tidbit on the web, and while it happened months ago, I just had to share:

Rupert Murdoch must have been gnashing his big teeth. Apparently, the owner of Fox News and The New York Post, has no control over daughter Elisabeth’s guest lists. It seems that since Elisabeth Murdoch left her father’s employ to run her own television production company, Shine, Ltd., she has definitely formed her own alliances, and one of them is Barack Obama.

Perhaps daughter Elisabeth’s fondness for Obama comes from her first marriage to Elkin Kwesi Pianim, who is Ghanian, and with whom she has two children. Murdoch is currently married to public relations guru Matthew Freud, the great-grandson of Sigmund Freud.

Murdoch, a citizen of both the U.S. and Great Britain, is herself known as a shrewd businesswoman. She grew up primarily in New York. In April, she hosted a Notting Hill fundraiser for Barack Obama with co-sponsors that included Gwyneth Paltrow.

Can’t you just imagine daddy Rupert’s delight? Gnash, gnash, snarl, snarl.

Whoo, boy. Two days to go. Be prepared to stand in line. You’ll be part of history, whether you are a neat Republican, or an expressive Democrat.

More later. Peace.

Obsessions, Compulsions and Possessions

I really hate the term obsessive/compulsive or OCD. Let me explain: I think that it’s fine as far as explain the need to repeatedly wash your hands or check the lights or pull back the covers to look for centipedes. But I don’t think that it goes far enough for some of us. I believe that all of us, whether we admit it or not, have our little quirks, our little obsessions.

For example, one of my best friends in the world, Jammi, is completely obsessed with her hair. I happen to think that she has wonderful hair in its natural state, which is dark brown and wavy. But Jammi spends money to have her hair straightened. Or when she doesn’t have it chemically straightened, she blow dries it until its straight. She hates her hair in its natural state, absolutely hates it, and she is obsessed with having it any other way. I used to joke with her and tell her that a lot of women pay a lot of money to have their hair look the way her hair looks naturally, but no matter. She won’t be swayed because she is convinced that her natural hair is not natural for her. So her hair is her obsession. It doesn’t matter. She’s one of those naturally attractive women no matter what she does with her hair, and I’ve gotten over being jealous of her for that.

I have a former colleague who was completely obsessed with her weight, to the point that she almost starved herself to death—truly. The last time I saw her she weighed 85 pounds. It was a hard thing to watch, but it was one of those things that no one could do anything about. For a while, it began to affect me. I started to count every calorie that went into my mouth. I was down to 1000 calories a day. I began to skip meals. I started to lose weight. I started to obsess. But then my back problems began and fate intervened. I wonder what would have happened if fate hadn’t stepped in, if I would have become as obsessive with my weight. I don’t think so because she had so many other problems contributing to her weight obsession, but who really knows. Sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in someone else’s obsessions and make them your own.

Believe it or not, I used to be obsessive about cleaning. Every Saturday morning, I would clean my entire house from top to bottom: polish all of the furniture, clean all of the glass, mop the floors, scrub the bathroom top to bottom, change the sheets, do the laundry, vacuum all of the carpets. Every surface that could be touched was cleaned. If someone came over during the middle of the week, there were never any excuses about the way my house looked because it always looked good. Early in my first marriage, our apartment was broken into and robbed. My ex-husband got home before I did and spoke to the police. He was able to tell the police exactly what was touched and what was missing. The officer who spoke with him asked him how he could be so sure about everything. My ex-husband said, “You don’t know my wife. Those closet doors are closed every morning before we leave. That bed is made. Those drawers are always closed.” If we were robbed today, it might take me years before I knew what was missing.

When I was a child of about 9 or so, every night I would lift the covers of my bed all the way to the bottom to make sure there were no centipedes under the covers. I have no idea where this compulsion came from, but to this day, I cannot abide centipedes. Another quirk of mine is that I have to sleep on the side of the bed nearest the door, whether it is the right or the left, it must be nearest the door. I also went through this phase of being obsessive about exercising. I got up every morning before work and did 200 crunches and some light weights. Now that was a good obsession, I believe, but crunches are a thing of the past. I was in the best shape of my life. Then there was the phase when I had to check to make sure I’d unplugged the iron before I left for work. I would do this at least twice, and sometimes I would get out of the car and go back in the house to check again. I now have an iron that shuts off automatically.

Corey is obsessed with Q-tips. He uses four a day. Even though I’ve shown him articles about how Q-tips are actually not supposed to be inserted into the ear, he insists that this be part of his daily routine. It’s a carryover from his childhood. He is also obsessed with his hair; it’s what earned him the moniker Captain Hollywood on one of the boats that he was crewing. But what is so ironic is that he went from very short military hair in the Coast Guard to long hair that he was always messing with (a la Capt. Hollywood) and then back to very short military length. Personally, I like his hair shorter, but not so short, but he freaks if it gets just a little bit long (as in nearing a hair’s breadth of his collar) and insists that it needs to be cut posthaste.

And then there are the obsessions that lead to possessions: I won’t write with anything but #1 pencils if I’m using pencils. I have to have a certain kind of pen, at least medium point gel ink, and I write on graph paper. Maybe that’s my attempt at order. My friend Mari got me addicted to expensive, squishy leather purses so that now I just cannot carry anything but good leather. I love Kenneth Cole wallets, and even though most women wear smaller, metal watches, I still love larger-faced Fossil watches with leather straps, but they are hard to find now. I’ve mentioned my obsession with black boots before, as in I don’t believe that you can ever own enough of them, and the same goes for black leather coats.

And then there is perhaps my worst obsession/possession of all: black carryall bags. This is in addition to the purse. I am the original bag lady. No matter what job I have had, I have always carried two bags—my purse, and my carryall. I think that I will save the discussion on the necessity of the carryall for another entry because that is a page unto itself.

I suppose that our obsessions are what make us individuals. They can be innocuous, like Corey’s Q-tips or my side of the bed choice. They can be a pain in the butt, like my insistence on certain pen choices. Or they can be harmful, like my colleague’s eating disorder. And then sometimes, obsessions can be a whole other class, as in when they take on a life of their own, when the obsession becomes the person we cannot have, or the single-minded need to destroy another person’s career, or in the scariest cases, the desire to destroy another individual completely. Then obsession ceases to be just a quirk and becomes a pathology, and that, my friends, is another animal indeed.