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.

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To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

Insomnia Leads to Bad Television Habits

“Last night I dreamed I had insomnia. I woke up exhausted, yet too well rested to go back to sleep.”

~ Bob Ingman

Every once in a while, when I cannot get to sleep and I have already seen the episodes of “Without a Trace” and “CSI” that are on at 2 in the morning, I’ll try to find something else to watch on television that will bore me enough so that I can fall asleep. That is when I find bizarre programs like “Bridezillas” on WE. I’m not even sure what network WE is, but I must admit that the show “Bridezillas” and its companion show “Platinum Wedding” or something like that are really something to behold, especially if you are looking for polar extremes.

bridezilla
WE's Show "Bridezillas"

Apparently, “Bridezillas” is television’s answer to “Cops” for women. I haven’t seen behavior like this since I taught middle school for one year. These women actually do things on this show that cause the censor bleep button to have to be used repeatedly. One wedding, and I’m using the term very loosely here, used shotgun shells as part of the decor. In another, the bride left her rehearsal dinner to go to the store and returned two and a half hours later. All of her guests were gone, and her fiance was a tad upset. She managed to turn the whole thing around to an impeachment on her guests’ impatience. The show is like an accident waiting to happen, and the viewer wants to turn away but just can’t because it’s only going to be worse, which means that it will only get better.

One bride’s rehearsal in the church turned into such a fray with the groom-to-be’s side of the family that the priest actually had to ask them to leave. Another bride-to-be gave the wrong location to her bridal party on where they were supposed to get their nails done, and then she had the audacity to throw a tantrum because half of her party didn’t show. She got on her phone and told them all that they were out of the wedding because they “didn’t care enough to support her on her big day.” At this point, I’d be thanking my lucky stars that I was out of the wedding party, but no, the bridesmaids always want back in. What, are they crazy?

But the best one was the bride who got upset when her nephew turned up missing during the reception. Everything stopped so that everyone could search for him. The bride threw herself on the couch and had a complete meltdown because no one was paying any attention to her. Luckily, the boy was found safely and all eyes could be turned back on the bride before her makeup was smudged. I’m not making this up.

In “Platinum Weddings,” viewers are treated to weddings that are examples of the most incredible examples of conspicuous consumption known to man. Everything from traditional Indian weddings in which the groom rides in on an elephant, to weddings in which the lighting alone costs $50,000. One wedding had a drink that was designed especially for the bride and groom to be served at their after dinner cocktail bar and dance room. Of course, fireworks were set off at the appropriate time. Cakes can cost upwards of $50,000, and the flowers can run anywhere from $25,000 to $250,000. Where do these people live? On Venus?

Needless to say, I don’t fall asleep when I watch these shows because I get caught up in the complete idiocy of the whole thing and end up watching three episodes in a row. I then find myself totally disgusted with myself and feel as though I need a bath to wash off the excess in which I have immersed myself.

One day, I was unable to get out of bed at all, and I watched an entire season of “America’s Next Top Model” from beginning to end. Usually on days like these I read, but my head hurt too much, so I tuned the television to something inane, hoping that it would put me to sleep. Of course, the reverse happened. I found myself watching the progression of these 14 or so candidates, slowly being weaned down to the final 3, then 2. I had a personal favorite, and I had one candidate that I particularly disliked. Why? Why did it matter to me? Was the winner going to go on to find a cure for AIDS?

I mean, Tyra Banks is a multi-millionaire. She has managed to turn her career as a model/Victoria’s Secret runway model into a television icon. She’s savvy, and she’s incredibly full of herself. The show is just as much about Banks as it is about the women who are competing. Tyra is always talking about how she did this for this photographer and that for said designer. Supposedly, it’s a lesson for the gawky young women who are learning to become models. And you do see some of them break out and change from show to show, but really, what’s the point? The two Jays are more interesting than the models. Trying to figure out what bizarre outfit Tyra is going to wear to judging is more interesting than some of the photo shoots. I can sleep through two episodes, wake up, and still not have missed much.

I suppose that is the point of reality television. There is no point, and to try to find one is an exercise in futility. I know that there are people out there who love their reality television. I just don’t happen to be one of them. I’ve never watched one episode of “The Real Life” or “The Surreal Life” or “Survivor” or “The Great Race.” My daughter tells me that “Jon and Kate Plus 8” is a nice show, but the thought of eight children scares the crap out of me. We did watch “Holmes on Homes” for a while to get some tips on home renovation, but that got too depressing when we ran out of money to continue renovating.

I will admit to loving “Project Runway” because I love Tim Gunn, and for some odd reason, I like “The Real Housewives of Orange County.” I think that it’s because Vicki is insane, and I’m waiting for her children to snap on her. I don’t like the other Housewives shows. They were bizarre knock-offs. But late-night reality shows are an entity all their own. I once was flipping through the channels and came upon some kind of dating show on which one man and three women went on a date, or something like that. I cannot remember the name of it, nor do I particularly want to. Five minutes of the Barbie-like verisimilitude, and I thought that I might be going mad. The women were flaky, too.

I suppose what makes late-night television interesting is that I haven’t seen it before in the way that I’ve seen every episode of Law & Order, Law & Order Criminal Intent, Law & Order SVU, and CSI. Whenever there is a Law & Order marathon on, I’ll watch, but I will fall asleep. The whole idea of watching television to cure my insomnia isn’t always truthful on my part. Maybe I’m watching just because I’m bored and because I don’t want to get out of bed to peruse our extensive DVD collection to figure out what I could put on the player.

theghost
Asia Extreme "The Ghost"

Which brings me to another point: I will watch good movies over and over again, but I have to be in the right mood for a particular movie. For example, right now, I’m in a vampire/horror mood. I’m watching the Blade movies, Saw (all of them), and maybe others, but not zombies (zombies freak me out). I have discovered Asia Extreme movies on Sundance, and I really like them. I’m not really sure as to why, but part of it is that the movies can be pretty darn scary, and I haven’t seen all of them before. I think the other part is that almost all of them are based on some kind of ghost story, which is better than a slasher story any day.

What does all of this have to do with sleeping? Nothing, except that after watching scary movies, I can go to sleep and not have nightmares. Odd, huh? You would think that I would, but I don’t. I think that it’s because my brain knows that between an Asia Extreme movie and an episode of “Bridezilla,” the episode of “Bridezilla” is definitely the scarier of the two because it’s real. There are real women out there behaving that badly and thinking that it’s perfectly acceptable to treat people like crap simply because they are getting married.

Personally, I can really understand why some men run from the alter. If I were marrying some of these women, I’d get my butt in the closest pickup truck and floor it to the next state, change my name, shave my head, grow a beard, and go to work in a field that required me to be out of the country for extended periods. Those women on that show are crazy. It’s Cops on progesterone.

I’ll watch a scary movie any day. I find them to be much more soothing and less anxiety-filled. I kid you not. But lately, I like my new technique of trying to go to sleep: I turn on my latest bedtime music playlist, turn on one of the soothing visualizations on my great big screen, and turn off the television. The dogs seem to like it, not that they really care as long as I stay still long enough for them to get comfortable under the covers. And then I try to let Hypnos carry me off to sleep so that Morpheus can bring me dreams.

“Come, cuddle your head on my shoulder, dear, your head like the golden-rod,

and we will go sailing away from here to the beautiful land of Nod.”

~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox

More later. Peace.

I Vant To Be Alone . . .

Hermits, Eremites, Anchorites, or Just Plain Recluses?

aran-islands-hermits-cave
Aran Islands Hermit's Cave, Ireland

I’ve been contemplating hermits. You know, those people, usually men, sometimes women, who go off and live by themselves. (The word hermit comes from the Greek word erēmos, which means desert or uninhabited; hence “desert-dweller”; adjective: “eremitic”; (Wikipedia)).  Hermits have been around since the 3rd century AD, and their associations have traditionally been religious. Originally, Christian hermits would live in huts or caves, called hermitages, in the desert or forest, and they were sought for spiritual advice, which kind of negated the whole solitude concept. (Here in Norfolk, we have a museum called The Hermitage, which has nothing to do with hermits, and that’s always kind of bothered me, but I digress.)

By the Middle Ages, the hermit’s life had changed in that it had become more anchored to the Christian church, thus the term anchorite. Instead of living in forests or deserts, many anchorites were actually walled into mud or brick attachments on the sides of the churches with a window opening into the church so that the anchorite could receive holy communion and another window open to the street to receive donations of food. I suppose that this allowed for more of the life sought by the Christian eremite, which was to be in total praise and devotion to his god.

tigers-den-buddhist-monastery
Tiger's Den Buddhist Monastery in the Himalayas

Of course, there were and are many kinds of hermits, not just the Christian ascetics. For example, Buddhist monks and nuns seek solitude for meditation, contemplation, and prayer. They prefer to life without the distractions of modern society or sex, and their lives follow a regimen of a simplified diet without meat, drugs, or alcohol. Buddhist monasteries and temples can be found all over the world, with an expected preponderance in China, but also from every place from Queensland, Australia, to Slovenia, to Oregon, to Chile and Bali.

Then there are the hermits who have no religious affiliations, the ones who are hermits simply because they choose to live a reclusive life apart from the rest of society.

When I was about 17, I contemplated becoming a nun. Now, given that I’m not Catholic and was not raised Catholic, you might find this a somewhat interesting declaration. I had a very good male friend in my teens who I may have mentioned before, and he was pretty much my sounding board throughout my teens and college years. We have known each other since the fourth grade, so I trust his judgment, even though he was a Republican for almost forever. So when I made the statement that I thought that I might like to become a nun, his response was to raise an eyebrow and wait.

These were my reasons: Let me preface this by saying that I find the Catholic religion particularly sexist, so I really have a hard time with that part of it, which I know pretty much disqualifies me from the start, but I love the rituals of it: the incense, the candles, the kneeling, the holy water. I wish that they still said the mass in Latin, not that I understand Latin, mind you. I loved the idea of being a nun and not having to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. I mean, bingo, you’re married to god, you have a vocation, your wardrobe is chosen for you, you never have a bad hair day.

Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not trying to be flippant. These really were my reasons. I was 17, and I didn’t know what to do with the rest of my life. It had nothing to do with religion. I loved the idea of being cloistered. I had not idea that I might have to teach school children or anything like that. I just wanted to be away from the rest of the world, and I didn’t know how to go about being a hermit, and I wasn’t sure if you could still actually do that, at least not in America. I knew that they still had hermits in England, or at least, I thought that they did.

My friend listened to my reasons, and then very calmly pointed out two main flaws in my plan: First, I wasn’t Catholic. And second, I wasn’t particularly religious or even spiritual at that point in my life. As he said, he thought that I needed to be at least one of those or to at least have some kind of “calling,” as he put it.

I cannot say that I was surprised. Disappointed yes, but surprised, no. It has seemed like a good idea at the time, and one that I revisited from time to time, especially when I was feeling as if I did not want to be of this world, if that makes any sense.

Over the years, I have toyed with the idea of finding a monastery to go to for an extended retreat. I have heard of one that is in the foothills of Virginia somewhere, but I have never actively looked for it. I suppose that I have never given up on the idea of the monastic retreat even if I cannot live the lifestyle full time, which, in reality, I know that I cannot. I mean, I am already pretty much of a hermit already. Since going on disability, I have retreated from the trappings of life by choice, and I cannot say that I miss it all that much.

I miss going to school and learning new concepts and new information on an ongoing basis, but my computer is my lifeline to information, and I am tapped in 24/7. When I cannot sleep, I surf. I watch MSNBC for new political information, and I watch Law & Order, Without a Trace, and CSI for my doses of crime drama. That much hasn’t changed. I still like to eat out once in a while, and I would love an occasional night out for karaoke, but other than that, the world outside my bedroom doesn’t beckon to me in the way that it used to.

hermits-cave-quarry-bank-garden
Hermit's Cave Quarry Bank Garden

If we had the money, I would still like to take a trip once a year to a new country just for the experience, but a trip to a mall? Not so much. The movies? I really resent paying $30 for tickets and drinks and popcorn when I can pay $4 on cable in a month. Now a museum? In a heartbeat, but I would need to be in a new city for that. The symphony? I would probably get out of my pajamas for that. But just going out to go out? My hermit tendencies kick in, as do my curmudgeonly feelings about people in crowded stores like Wal Mart and the like.

If I had been around in the Middle Ages, and I believe that I probably was, I think that I would have liked to have been a hermit, probably one who lived in a stick hut in the forest. That sounds about right. And my name would have been something like Leonid of Aghast and I definitely would have been a misanthrope.

I’ll get into the whole idea of reincarnation and my thoughts about past lives and Zen and Karma and getting it right in another posting. But just one parting thought on that one. Why does everyone who believes in reincarnation believe that they were someone great like Napoleon or Marie Antoinette? I mean, why isn’t anyone ever a chambermaid or a stable boy or something like that? Just a thought.

As always, there will be more later. Peace.