Thursday, January 27, 2011


There is something I do on a regular basis that is frowned upon by many people.
I watch television.
And I thoroughly enjoy it.

I've seen the bumper stickers that say KILL YOUR TELEVISION.
I've heard the why watch mind-numbing drivel when you could be doing something productive? argument.

Our culture perpetuates this gratuitous emphasis on being productive.
I don't necessarily disagree with that, but why is being productive so superior to relaxing, observing, laughing, or even learning?
Are not all of those things important, even necessary?

Maybe I'm just lazy.

Or maybe some days I feel like my relentless brain never stops pelting me with worries and anxieties, and I just need an escape.
Maybe I watch raw, gritty documentaries because they help me to empathize with the suffering of others.
Maybe I love to sit and giggle uncontrollably at silly shenanigans and razor-sharp one-liners because I need to be reminded of triumphant joy.

Monday, January 24, 2011

::winter warmth

One lovely perk provided by frigid weather is the Plymouth Ice Festival.
Saturday evening found me strolling along the snow-pelted streets, snapping shots of gorgeous sculptures.

Later, at the Plymouth Coffee Bean, I was very blessed to hear my friend Kim perform an hour's worth of her own original songs.
Her voice, musicianship, and songwriting are exceptionally rare gifts.
Her artistry speaks to my soul on a profound, visceral plane.
Joined by "special guests" who only made each song better, the show was a fantastic way to spend an evening, as her shows always are.

The next afternoon, I accompanied two lovely ladies to Ypsilanti, where we saw my friend Emily in a play at Eastern Michigan University.
Having taken on a role that required her to play a character who ages from 8 to 16 years old, Emily's performance was brilliant; both hilarious and subtle.
Although cameras were forbidden in the theater, I managed to snap a few shots on the sly.

A new friend, when told about my weekend, commented thusly: "Wow, you REALLY love the arts."
Why, yes.
Yes I do.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

::present obsessions

I get obsessed with things.
It happens rather haphazardly.

In the auditory department, it's SModcast; although I have been a fan of this podcast since its inception, Kevin Smith has now created an entire podcast network.
My favorite is the one entitled Plus One, that he records with his wife, Jennifer Schwalbach.
A close second is Jay and Silent Bob Get Old, recorded with his erstwhile onscreen sidekick, Jason Mewes.
Kevin Smith is perhaps best known for his raunchy, filthy sense of humor. While I do not necessarily condone this, I am not offended by it either.
And I find him very endearing, in spite of all the vulgarity.
He's an Everyman who has carved out a very specialized niche, simply by being himself.
I've found that very rare in Hollywood.

In the culinary category, it's Naan -- Indian flatbread -- preferably garnished with some sort of soft cheese, and/or hummus.
A lifelong lover of bread, I'm generally guaranteed to love any kind that brushes across my path.
But this is exceptionally delicious.

In the blogosphere, I'm absolutely loving a site I just learned about while listening to The Splendid Table this morning.
It's called Cake Wrecks.
Here's a taste:

[Believe or not, that was supposed to say "Just Because."]

There you have it, folks.
You're welcome. ;)

Friday, January 21, 2011

::friendly fracture

Last year, I lost a friendship that I never expected to lose.
I was under the impression that it was one of those rare, unspoken We'll always be friends, no matter what covenants.

How wrong I was.

I make sincere efforts to avoid this sort of disclosure in this forum, afraid of coming across as some attention-whoring drama queen.

But sometimes, the pain of this loss is so searing that I simply must regurgitate it.

[I will heretofore refer to the Friend Who Bailed as FWB.]

I am the sort of person who makes concerted efforts to get along with everybody.
I try to locate the good in my fellow humans, persistently searching for common ground and points of connection.

I treasure every friendship that I have, and although I have a myriad of foibles like everybody else (chief among them, absentminded procrastinator), I am vigilant about caring for my friends.
Therefore, even when what I must say to them is difficult, I make every effort to cushion my words with encouragement and love, so as never to hurt them or make them feel unloved.

I sent a message to FWB, containing words I had sculpted very carefully, so as not to offend FWB or make FWB feel slighted or attacked.
Imagine my surprise when, after reading these words, FWB refused to contact me for four months.
After spending some time together after the initial 'silent treatment' period, FWB decided that I was "a totally different person;" so different, in fact, that FWB no longer desired any sort of friendship with me.

As you might imagine, this news was devastating.
Over the past several months, I have made many efforts to apologize profusely and appeal to FWB, attempting to mend what I never meant to fracture.
Every effort has been futile.
FWB continues to behave as though I do not exist.

Most of the time, I can focus on the friendships I do have and enjoy, cherishing the connections with those who are eager and delighted to be my beloved friends.
There are moments, however, when FWB's rejection bends me to the ground with grief.

I was once assured by a wise clergyman that, in conflict, if I have done everything I possibly can to humble myself and make amends, then I need to surrender.
It sounds so simple.
I really wish it were.

Friday, January 14, 2011

::holiday afterthoughts

I do not enjoy hearing people climb atop annoying soapboxes about how retail employees don't say "Merry Christmas" anymore.
I'm not bothered by the Holiday Sensitivity Initiative.

I was bothered, however, by a conversation I had between the 2010 holidays.
The one with whom I was conversing, when told that my church holds a worship service on Christmas morning, asked with a fair amount of distaste, "On Christmas Day? Are you serious?"

Um, yes.
Quite serious.
What do you think Christmas is for?
Honeybaked ham and iridescent bows and spiral-curled ribbons concealing all manner of neatly packaged digital distraction?

Despite having been raised in a Christian home, I must admit, with a fair amount of shame, that I never quite fully understood what Christmas was for.
That is, until three years ago, when I went to church on Christmas morning, and partook of the Body and Blood of the little baby Jesus.
The story of Christ crystallized in a fresh, sharply poignant manner.

My attitude has changed drastically from
Let's Get Church Out of the Way and Get to the Presents!
Let's Get Presents Out of the Way and Get to the Worship.

Gifts and get-togethers and other such trappings have become entirely secondary, and I still cannot fathom the liberation that has arrived with this experience.
I would wish it upon every Christmas celebrant.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I know, I know, lists are kind of lame.


-- I'm reading Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex. So far, so good.

-- I'm amazed by Emma (my 2-yr-old niece)'s verbal skills. She's such a little brainiac.

-- Ever since my unfortunate brush with stomach flu in late December, I've been craving Vernors. It's slightly troubling.

-- I am reminded, every time I watch his show, that Conan O'Brien is HILARIOUS.

-- I bought Season 1 of The Office because it was on sale. Best impulse buy ever.

-- My inordinately curly hair continues to perplex me, even after all these years.

-- Snow is not the bane of my existence. Yet. (Check back with me in April.)

-- I found this recipe for cinnamon toast, and I may have drooled a little.

-- I despise the lack of Cell Phone Manners. I may need to start posting Public Service Announcements.

Monday, January 10, 2011

::words flung heavenward

I believe it was Anne Lamott who so deftly identified that, in truth, there really are only two prayers: Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, and Help, Help, Help.

I often pray these very words.

As an adolescent, deep in the throes of (largely self-imposed) legalism and self-flagellation, I wrote detailed prayer journals, outlining all my confessions, deepest thoughts and darkest desires.

But I have found that the older I get, the less words my prayers contain.
More often, my brain silently utters the urgent cries of my soul in simple, minimalistic phrases.

Prayers for others are often visualizations; I conjure a portrait of you in my mind, meditate upon it, and my mind repeats over and over, Lord, please help.

I used to be so wrongfully convinced that in order to be effective, words directed to the Almighty needed to be sculpted into ornate phrases and verbose petitions.
Not true.
Not even close.

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.
Help, Help, Help.


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