Thursday, December 31, 2009

Saying Goodbye.

This year has been lucrative for funeral homes. Between the celebrities and my own family members, I have to say that the morticians got dough for the holidays.

I realized the other day that I have lost two uncles, a cousin, and an aunt this year. My aunt Trish got in just under the gun by passing away on December 21st. It was highly unexpected. I fully believed that she would beat her cancer. It never even occurred to me that she wouldn't. So when we got the call last Monday morning, I was shocked. It had spread everywhere. But the real cause of her death was complications due to the chemo.

I have already decided that if I ever get cancer (which will not happen if I get my way) that I will forgo the chemo and find another route. I don't care what stage I'm at, how long the doctors give me, whatever. I can fight cancer another way. Chemo is not the only option, it's just usually the only option doctors will give (don't get me started on kick-backs - that's for another post).

Anyhow, I've been pretty down about Trish's passing. She's leaving a twelve-year-old behind. All I want to do is put my arms around Caity and tell her it will be okay, but I can't make the trip to NY now (it seems no one can). She seems to be doing alright. Trish had probably prepared her ahead of time. Very sad situation. But there it is. My dad's only sibling is gone now too. Now it's just us: me, Shannon, and Caitlyn. Oh, and now Lily.

It's these deaths that seem to just keep coming that remind me of the life I really want to lead, and so far, haven't. It also makes me curious of what lies on the other side of that line, the one that separates us. I've commented before to people that it's almost cruel that human existence is split into two parts and that those parts have a very fixed wall between them. We can't know those things that lie beyond yet. And we cannot be with those who've already journeyed there. I know my time is coming, and I'm reminded that there will be others that I will lose before then, when those eternal truths are finally revealed to me.

Until then, farewell Uncle Curt, Uncle Dick, Russell, and Aunt Trish.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cinema Therapy, volume 10

One of my best childhood memories is of watching The Goonies. My mom likes to recount the story of the first time my sister and I saw it. She and a couple of her friends who also had kids (albeit a little older than Shannon and me) took us to the theater. We kids sat in the front (as if we were somehow cool because we were in the front of the theater despite the fact that our moms were in the rear, watching over us). At some point, my four year old sister got scared. Because of the lights along the main aisles, my mom could make out some short chubby legs running from the front to the back, and nearly diving into her lap. Poor Shannon.

Since then, it has become a staple in my film diet. Yes, it is action/adventure rather than rom-com or amazingly inspirational true story. But it's fun and has a happy ending. And that's good enough to make the list. Not to mention a Cindy Lauper-infused soundtrack. I don't think it gets more 80's than that.

Perhaps the best part of this movie is that it mainly involves a group of friends who work together for the benefit of saving their families' homes. The camaraderie, along with sophomoric wit and slapstick humor, is a huge draw for anyone who loves comedies.

I love The Goonies (along with millions of other people who've adopted the same sort of cult following), and it's a great one to watch on a winter afternoon such as this. Enjoy!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Merry Christmas! (A little early)

Hi everyone. I know that Christmas is a week away, but I just wanted to mention something.

I've been familiar with Charity: Water for a short time now, but the work they are doing astounds me. They're working tirelessly to bring clean, safe water to people in developing countries. Approximately 1 in 6 people living on this planet doesn't have adequate water to drink much less for hygiene and sanitation. What's sad is that it only takes $20 to provide a person in these third world locations with 20 years of clean water.

I don't often urge people to spend money or make donations, but if you can spare even a few dollars, every cent goes toward these projects. And even if you don't contribute to Charity: Water, I hope you will learn about them and pass on this information to others.

If Charity: Water isn't your calling, consider the Salvation Army. You can even start your own online red bucket for your website or blog. How cool is that? Or you can donate to my online red bucket. (Click here to start your own.)

Banner Ad for Red Kettle
Personal fundraising widget for 2009 Red Kettle campaign

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Things I should've learned by now (A Year in Review).

So, I've decided to make a list of how things have and haven't turned out this year. Funny, another passed, and I still haven't got my shit together. Hmmm...

Anyhow, I think it worthy of reflection, if only to note where I've been stupid, and where I've come a little closer to a self-actualized human being (baby-steps and some crawling).

1. I am occasionally still afraid of the dark. Case in point: I scared the shit out of myself by going to Paranormal Activity and The Fourth Kind in the same day. I'm regretting having seen the former and I think that made me appreciate less the latter. This led to a few nights of sleeping with the lights on. Silly, yes. Wise, absolutely. My mind goes all kinds of crazy and this is just one of those times when my own sanity is more important than saving the planet. Does this make me a hypocrite. A little.

2. I am capable of getting over personal shame. Despite my desperate desire not to go back to working for Hell-Mart and having to explain my explosive failure, I did. A little humble pie, anyone? But you know what? It was worth it if it means that I am on my way back to semi-normal (because who are we kidding - I never truly was normal). And if I was able to get over this shame, maybe there are others that can finally be resolved as well.

3. It isn't always bad to be ghetto-fabulous! I have managed to prove that I can be resourceful despite a lack of resources. I put together a bookshelf with out the use of a screwdriver or a hammer. Yay me! Who said that the handles on butter knives only have one purpose?

4. My sister is my best friend in the whole wide world. Mom's a close second. I needed to rely on some people who were completely trust-worthy, and none proved more so than Shannon this year. She has watched me struggling for the last few years and has only offered support and love (through her charming wit and sometimes sarcastic tones accompanied by advice). She may live three-hundred miles away, but she might as well have been next door.

5. It's okay to shave my legs every once in a while. After a long bout of refusing to shave, the itch began to drive me way too crazy to describe. I don't know how men do it. The cuffs of my socks were not my friends during this time. Lesson learned.

6. I watch way, way, way too much television. Here is the current list of shows I follow: How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, Heroes, House, NCIS, NCIS: LA, The Good Wife, The Forgotten, Criminal Minds, Glee, Fringe, Bones, Ugly Betty, Grey's Anatomy, and Medium. Throw in a little House Hunters, Ghost Hunters, Stargate Universe, and Masterpiece Theatre, and you've got a recipe for couch-potato-ness (term officially coined). Now, I know that most of these are watched via an over-diligent DVR, but this is ridiculous and I am considering abstaining from TV for a while to cut the addiction. There are better things to do than spend all day on my days off catching up. Like reading, or getting my hair cut (more on that next), or catching up with friends. I remember a time when I often said, "I don't watch TV." Of course, this is when I worked two jobs (one of which covered second shift), and I didn't have DISH, much less a DVR. I think I'd like to go back to the freedom that comes with saying that.

7. My mother needs to get over my hair. She keeps telling me that my hair-style is out of style (I beg to differ - I tend to choose the styles that are relatively timeless, but whatever). Still, I have unresolved trust issues with my hair. Until I find the perfect stylist and can actually afford him or her, I will just have to decide to live through the pain of the possible catastrophe that might occur. My hair hasn't been cut since the beginning of March. A good four inches needs to be chopped at the least. I used to let it get super long. Not so much any more - it's just too big a hassle, and I'm getting too old. Plus, the last time I got it cut, I found that it was possibly the least emotional I've been about my hair. So maybe this is becoming less an attachment to my hair thing and more a Sam's-too-lazy-to-get-her-hair-cut thing.

8. My health needs to take priority. I am on the second cold in as many months and I am not pleased. This tells me that I'm out of balance (like I haven't been for the past three years [insert sarcastic eyebrow raise here]). Under normal circumstances, I get sick maybe twice a year, if that. If you've noticed the book I just read on the right (The Kind Diet), then you know that I'm working towards a plan for a lifestyle change. I haven't eaten meat in almost ten years, but that's only part of the problem. I need to consider how my body is responding to processed foods, dairy, and eggs. Plus, as previously posted, I've had an ongoing war with my weight for a while. Besides the phlegm-y disposition, and overall respiratory issues, my joints and back have ached a lot more (and I'm not even that huge). There has been a rising occurrence of stomach issues. Fatigue has been a major culprit in my overall well-being as well, even before the third shift made its appearance. I always do better when I'm eating mainly fruit and vegetables (in their unprocessed, whole or juiced forms). So, what I'm waiting for is beyond me. But I know that if I finally make the official switch to veganism, there won't be any turning back. It just wouldn't be worth it. I want to be healthy until the day I die and that doesn't have to be unreasonable a statement.

9. I can take each day at a time. If anything, being a third-shifter has taught me that. Yes, the personal sleep schedule is all out of whack, but it forces me to do things more in moderation than anything. If it doesn't fit into my waking hours for that day, then it will have to wait until the next day. And that's okay. Some people might rush to get things done and either wear themselves out or do a completely shabby job. It just doesn't have to be that way.

10. I'm getting to the age where I don't feel the need to sweat so much of the small stuff. So, things didn't work out perfectly. That's okay. I find that I will live a much better life if I am okay with all possible outcomes, even the less than stellar ones. I've always been one of those people who would fret and worry. But now, not so much. And that's awesome.

11. So the planned fortune that the business was supposed to bring didn't happen. So much for basing my success on the outcomes of others in that line of work. Oh well. If it wasn't meant to be, then it's just a matter of me getting over it. It would've been nice to be free of the burden that comes with being poor. I keep trying to remember that these periods come and go, and eventually the freedom, that comes with a good income, will arrive when it's supposed to. Millionaire I am not. [Insert sigh here.]

12. I actually found a wine that I like (two to be exact). Both are from Cedar Creek Winery. Their Settlement Gold and Cranberry Blush are awesome. I got oh-so-lost on my way back from Cedarburg the day I decided to venture up there. I thought maybe I'd get some Christmas shopping done up there and then all I came back with was wine. I don't do well with dry wine. I like sweet. And I made a total ass of myself tasting them at the winery, acting like I knew what to look for. I don't. Wine expert I am not. What's funny about that trip is that I found historic downtown Cedarburg really easily, but when it came time to come home, I got completely turned around and ended up even farther north in Saukville. Not too big a deal. Strange that it's only fun to get lost when that is your intention. Otherwise, it's just a little scary.

13. I finally, finally get that I am responsible for my own happiness. It was drilled into me as a kid, but now I finally feel like that is how I can live. I've been responsible for the crappy existence that I have thus far created. And if the last three years have taught me anything, it's that if I am capable of utter misery, then I am also capable of an absolutely fantastic life. And that's exactly what I intend from now on. If I want to see change, then it has to start with me.

14. I realized what it is that I really want to do with my life. And no more distractions. No more excuses. If I really want something to happen, I have to make it happen. The business was just something that clouded my judgment and kept me from the things I really wanted to do, or thought I couldn't do. Not anymore. I think I'd rather try and fail at something I actually love and not something that only frustrates, annoys, disheartens, and ultimately I hate to do. Besides, when you do what you love, it's not work. It only reinforces joy.

So, that's it. I'm not saying there won't be amendments and additions to the list. But for now, this is pretty good. I won't bore you with the details of things that I plan to change about myself, not as a resolution, but something bigger and better. Besides, I'm sure the details of my life will emerge here over the course of the next year.

Okay New Year, bring it on! Bring. It. On.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cinema Therapy, volume 9

Okay, okay. I get it. It's been a while and if some of you have been wondering what happened to Cinema Therapy, don't be alarmed at the length of time it took me to post one. No, I haven't become one of those jags who doesn't believe in feel-good movies being quality viewing. No, I haven't become overly depressed with the world and want to shut out all that is happy and good. I simply have found myself overwhelmed with the schedule lately and Wednesdays come and go, with me remembering by Friday night, and by then thinking, "Oh, I'll do it next week." And then, it happens again. Oh well. I'll try to get better.

So, here it is, volume 9. And my pick for this week isn't just a feel-good drama. It's a great expression of family dysfunction that somehow shows how cohesive the group really is, and how they are better together than apart. Plus, Susan Sarandon makes me want to have all boys in this pic.

Say "hello" to Safe Passage. Even though this film was made in the 90's, it still resonates, especially given the international political circumstances this country finds itself. The story revolves around the Singer family, made up of Mom and Dad, Mag and Patrick, and their seven sons. Though Mag and Patrick are currently estranged, they come together with the rest of their family when one of the boys, Percival, is feared dead after a bomb has been detonated at a military barracks in the Sinai desert where he was stationed. How this film is brilliant is that it is filmed entirely from the perspective of the family awaiting news of Percy and through Mag's memories of her children. You feel that powerless sense of not knowing what has happened and the building anxiety and anticipation one experiences in situations such as these. So, how does this make it a feel-good movie? The family antics drive enough laughter through their fears, as well as a climactic ending that may be predictable, but still worthwhile.

Including an always brilliant Ms. Sarandon, there's also great performances by Sam Shepard, Nick Stahl, Robert Sean Leonard (of "House, M.D." fame), Marcia Gay Harden, and Sean Astin.

Despite the neuroses of most of the family members, I always find myself desiring my own place in the Singer household. It might even remind you of your own family, with it's sarcasm, wit, drama, and above all, love.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The past haunts.

Once again, I find myself at one of those junctures where I must decide to revisit some old wound from childhood or let it fall away as if it never existed.

While the incident in question that has raised my curiosity and reservations is no serious thing for many, it is for me only that I am not willing to relive drama that I hoped was gone forever. Not the people necessarily, mind you. But I fear that welcoming someone from my past will cause an undue emotional distress in the long term.

I am speaking of my stepsister, who I will heretofore refer to as H.

Imagine my surprise to receive word from her electronically this evening. I have to admit that there were times when I wondered what happened, where she went, if she moved on from the ultimately abusive childhood she endured to become a well-rounded individual, or if her life was merely a video looping over and over those things most people would gladly forget. Are these things I really want to know, or is this one of those things best left by the wayside...

Without being a giant bitch?

I spoke briefly to my real sister about this situation, and she is more inclined to leave it alone. Why? Because she was just as hurt by H's disappearance, and because she holds these things longer than I do. We rarely hold a conversation about my dad. And I think this might have more to do with the fact that talking about him inevitably leads to talking about the stepmonster. She infiltrates our memories like a demon, overwhelming and horrific. And we did not even experience the worst of that woman's wrath. So, the thought of introducing one of the few bright sides of those childhood experiences into our adult and current lives is less than appealing.

Still, if the past haunts, so does curiosity.

Stay tuned...

Monday, November 9, 2009

She's alive! (Only just.)

Well, as you might imagine, I fell off the planet - again. I was sailing out to sea, and what do you know, the edge came faster than expected. I was gonna jump ship and try to swim back, but I was like, "Screw it" and reclined as I headed into the abyss.

Okay. It's not as dramatic as all that. I've just been a little busy and really tired.

Went to the sister's a few weeks ago. Came home with the cold that she and the kid had been sporting for a few days. Then I tried working that week on only about three hours of sleep a day (you can imagine how fun that was). Then I met up with my sister in the Dells for some non-child-related fun (cheesy place, but what can you do? It was convenient.) And now she's in town with Lily with my uncle's wife until tomorrow. Oh, and to top it off, after finally shaking the cold, I got some stomach thing that I was sure was originally something I ate and turned into a raging (gotta go gotta go gotta go right now) stomach. My mom got it. My co-worker got it. It's not something I ate.

On another note, I reconnected with one of my dearest friends - Joe. He is one of the highlights of the last decade. If there is a God, and he/she/it is looking out for me, then Joe was definitely a gift. After three years of dating, I finally met his boyfriend (an A+ in my book). I am no longer that horrible friend that Joe mentions in passing and the boyfriend assumes he made me up because I am conveniently unavailable. I am sure that there will be more visits to Madison to visit the two soon. In the meantime, it's good to know that a good time reminiscing was had (and at a needed time). It's always good to know that my twenties weren't a complete waste.

There was a little drama involved after I got my first pay check from the store and found out that they screwed up with my pay rate only to find out they put me in under the wrong job code. I had to wait three more pay checks before it was fixed and now I have to go deal with my incompetent personnel manager who tried to tell me that I might be the only person on third shift not to get a third shift differential in order to get my retro pay. That should be fun. I guess I could have done it this morning, but it takes energy to deal with complete morons. And I didn't have any left.

I'm in the process of figuring out a trip in the spring with my cousin and maybe a bigger one in the fall. Where to go? Where to go? There's such a long list of places I've been meaning to go, and narrowing done a destination won't be easy. But it should be fun.

Anyway, I'm back. Not normal. But I never was anyway.

Oh, check out this lovely article. I've known about this for years. I am one of those people who will show up to work sick just because those days add up, and I need my pay check.

My sister's been bothering me today to go run a brick through my hair and pretend to be alive when I'm really tired. Sorry Shannon. Spending the day at thrift stores - not my idea of a great time on three hours sleep.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Why can't they all be bastards?

So, dear readers, I learned something on my added shift last night. Normally, I don't work on Wednesday nights, but I was called in to cover for my co-worker, so in I went despite a terrible lack of sleep. I knew about this ahead of time, but for some reason, my body was fighting with the schedule I wanted to keep. Screw it. What can you do? It happens. Thank God for Starbucks.

Anyway, I should preface what I'm about to say with a little back-story, to give it context.

There was a guy I knew from the store for years. We were always friendly, and he was such a nice guy (a little younger than me - but cute and funny and we had a lot in common despite having hugely different backgrounds). I will call him EC for privacy reasons. Anyway, there was a time when we might have hooked up. I was still incredibly messed up from a previous break-up (i.e. mega-mind-games), so this probably wasn't meant to be. After a short while, even though he was the first to express interest, he began stringing me along. I didn't see the signs at first. But eventually, it became all too apparent (i.e. he was seeing someone else that we worked with - the DICK!).

When I decided to go back to working at the store, I wondered if I would have the misfortune of running into him from time to time. Being on third shift, I figured this unlikely, but one never knows. It wasn't until after I applied that I heard from friends that he was newly appointed to a position over the front end (including the accounting office - gulp).

I will admit, I was not digging this. Like Miranda from Sex and the City, once it's over, I feel they need to not exist.

The day of orientation, I did a minor freak-out with a very obvious "I'm avoiding you" move. And then, he ended up doing the stupid safety-talk in the orientation. This is my luck. Thankfully, it was just fine. He was perfectly nice, like he usually was, and it was over relatively painlessly. I thought that maybe that would be the end of that. I'd never see him again. Amen. Whew.

I hadn't seen him since the orientation (over a month ago now) until last night, when he ended up closing as a CSM (Customer Service Manager for all you non-Wal-mart people). Just my luck, it was the day that I picked up to cover for my friend. That's just wonderful, right?

This was the first time he'd closed the front end, so he needed a little help, but was over-all okay. Only a couple times did he ask questions. And he was friendly and nice. Which is completely wrong in my book.

A single incident needs to be amplified for all time. He was a bastard once, so that is what he is supposed to be for life, right? This would justify my opinion of him. But of course, he has to be the complete opposite of this. Just to make me feel bad for thinking ill of him. Damn you EC! Why can't you make this easy?

But now, given how things weren't completely awkward, it might be possible to be friends. Can it be? I'm getting too old to hold grudges. Maybe I am evolving.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cinema Therapy, volume 8

I think it's safe to say that this is one of my very favorite movies. The heroine of this quirky tale makes you fall in love with her and her world from the beginning sequence. She's lovely, and she has no idea how much.

Amelie is one of those films that you love for a variety of reasons. The use of color and lighting is extraordinary in and of itself. But then you factor in the writing (which is superb), the characterizations (which are absolutely amazing), and the on-screen chemistry of all the actors, not to mention the direction, and you have a truly great film.

Even if you're not a fan of foreign films because of the subtitles, I recommend this movie. You quickly overlook what might otherwise annoy you for the simple fact that it is just so engrossing.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

On age...

I've been saying for a really long time that I'll probably live to be 140. Chalk it up to the lack of smoking, partying, having wild sex with strangers, just a little drinking, and being a relative hermit for the last three years, but I think it might actually happen. This is wishful thinking of course, but it keeps me thinking that there's plenty of time yet. No rush to actually get back to dating, get married, have kids, actually attempt some kind of career, still time to get to Paris and Buenos Aires, and to clean out my bedroom closet.

We live in a funny time (not funny ha-ha, funny strange) when it comes to age. I still get carded whenever I bother ordering anything stronger than a coffee. Some youngin's at my work orientation thought I was about twenty (yes!) even though there's increasing fine lines around my eyes that I'm growing a little paranoid about. My younger sister (by only eighteen months, but still younger) often passes for older than me. And I have always, always thought my mother looks about ten to fifteen years younger than she really is.

Someone my mom works with just turned thirty-eight. At her birthday dinner, the waitress guessed she was twenty-nine. The co-worker took it. Some time later (I'm guessing days by the story I was told), she was with her young son at Burger King where the woman (not kid) behind the counter told the little boy to have a nice day with his Grandma. She was irked and told her that the boy was actually her son.

My response to this is that we live in the age of Botox and Olay Regenerist. No one knows what 20, 40, or 80 is supposed to look like anymore. We make guesses and try to undercut what we suspect might be the actual age to make the recipient of the compliment feel good. But then there are those who look remarkably younger than their age, to the point of wonder. Is it lifestyle? Is it genes? Is it that great dermatologist you see ads in your mail for? Who knows anymore. Perhaps we should just tell each other "Hey, you look good" and leave the age thing alone. Our society dictates that our supposed youth dictates so much of our self-esteem and, in a lot of cases, our social standing. In ages past, it was the elders that were revered. What happened to that? It's nice to listen to people with wisdom talk about things they actually know about. How refreshing. Wisdom? Forget youth and beauty. That's my aim in life. (Okay, I'm really aiming for it all, but I figured I'd say that to make myself sound evolved.)

I'm only thirty now. What does 50, 70, 90 look like? It's not that far away you know. But as visually oriented as I am, I'm a bit more concerned with how I will feel. Will I be lucid at an old age, or should I be concerned about the amount of aluminum canned soda I've consumed? How about the fat "experiment"? How will that affect my health and mental state? It's nice to look good too, but there are more concerns than that.

Age - just a number? I don't think so. Apparently, it's part of a greater symbol of something else.

Want to live to be 140? Check out this site I just found. Interesting, but true?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I almost pooped my pants!

And I'm not kidding.

The night before last, on my way home for lunch, I suddenly really needed to go. Why does it choose the worst time? Why?! Is it on a timer that says, "Oh, Sam's in the car now. Let's move bowels and see how freaked out she gets."? Really? Is this something that comes with age. I hit the big 3-0, so now I get horrific bodily urges at the worst possible moment?

And to make matters worse, I almost hit a bunny as I was speeding through the neighborhood, trying to get home. A freakin' bunny! Funny how it could've been a squirrel or a raccoon or a cow, and I wouldn't have cared. But a freakin' bunny? I can't hit a bunny and streak its cute little furry body all over the street! I might as well have shot Santa Claus!

When I was a kid, I was in the car with my uncle and he accidentally ran over some baby ducks. It wasn't his fault. They were just past the top of a hill and he couldn't have stopped if he'd tried. Thankfully, he didn't hit any with the wheels, so they just rolled and got a little fluffed up from the cars back-draft. I would've been devastated if any had been killed. I think it would've traumatized me to the point of therapy.

Wait. I need therapy anyway. Scratch that. I would've needed additional therapy.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cinema Therapy, volume 7

This week is a twofer because I'm in love with Matthew Macfadyen. Okay, not really, but he does have that quality that can lead a girl to sigh. It might be the voice.

So, they may have made several dozen versions of the book, but I have to say that this is one of my particular favorite movie renditions of Pride and Prejudice. It's not perfect. It's not strict to the novel, just like so many others aren't, though it does get close enough for my liking. And the actors do a brilliant job of bringing the written characterizations to life. Keira Knightley is brilliant, as always, and deserved the Oscar nod she received from this performance. (Yes, I'm a fan.)

Besides, who doesn't love the story of boy meets girl, boy and girl don't get along, boy and girl start to get along, boy and girl have some conflicts, boy and girl realize that they love each other, boy and girl risk losing each other due to social convention, boy and girl get together and live happily ever after? No one, because it's classic. And I'm willing to risk using a run-on sentence to say it.

The other is Little Dorrit. I caught this on PBS this spring and LOVED it! Yes, a Dickens' classic al a miniseries, but worth watching to the end. It's one of those lovely tales that weaves the lives of its characters skillfully, with a quaint community feel mixed with intrigue and a happy ending or two.

Watch out for "Golam" aka Andy Serkis as the all-too-creepy and manipulative Rigaud. Eddie Marsan has an endearing quality as Pancks and "Gavin and Stacey" co-creator and alum Ruth Jones as the silly Flora is delightful.

In case you haven't noticed yet, I'm a fan of the historical drama (and an Anglophile). Please forgive me if they pop up from time to time. A little Austen here, Dickens there - it can't hurt.

Matthew Macfadyen is Darcy in the first and Arthur Clennam in the second and probably one of the best parts of both films. He's kept mainly to mainstream British films and television, but if you don't know who he is, you may recognize his face from Frost/Nixon. He has a nice range and that's definitely part of his appeal. Check out more of his work. I suggest the spy series "Spooks" (also known by American audiences as "MI-5") and Death at a Funeral, a hilarious comedy (which is being re-made for American audiences - why can't they leave well-enough alone?).

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

In memory of Julia...

It was four years ago this week.

So strange that time moves on after someone has moved beyond the restrictions of the clock, into the ether, or whatever lies beyond, and leaves the rest of us behind to continue to seek answers that they have already acquired.

My friend Julia died four years ago. It was in the height of a two year period that I went to eight funerals. Two were highly significant to me. The first was my grandfather's in November of 2004. The other was Julia's.

She was only twenty years old. In that time, she'd experienced both wonderful and horrific things that shaped the person that she was. She was sweet, and kind, and generous. She loved her nephew and was on her way to finding a peace after a bout of contentiousness between herself and her parents. But a series of events pushed her over the edge, and a depression that few knew the depths of ate at her until she finally decided to take her life.

And the ones who loved her that she left behind wondered in astonishment what each could have done to change what she did, to stop her, change her mind, or take away her inner pain.

I think anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one probably gains some measure of morbidity. After the loss of both my father and grandfather, Lord knows I certainly did. But when Julia died, it took the wind right out of me. There were no morbid thoughts. Merely regrets. What didn't I see? How could I not realize?

With most funerals you fill your mind with thoughts of how sad you are, but that that person is in a better place. With the funeral of someone who has committed suicide, your mind is shocked and absorbed with the impossible to answer to the question, "Why?"

I really miss her. I'd known her from a distance her whole life. But in the last couple years, we'd gotten to know each other. She was one of those people you could have a conversation about almost anything with. She had a depth to her that few people at her age have without the accompanying condescension and pretension. Julia was real. It was evident that she wanted to make the world a better place. If only she'd given herself a chance to really do that. She was so thoughtful and everyone that knew her was profoundly touched by her. So, maybe she did.

Julia, wherever you are, you are truly missed.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pushing the car uphill - not really.

You will not believe what this bonehead (me) did the other night.

I went home on my lunch break (like I always do) and come time to go back to work, the car ran out of gas. Now, I knew it was a touch below "empty", but I thought it would be enough to get through the night and get some in the morning. No such luck. And I was having such a good night too. I heard on a radio commercial many, many years ago that the "E" stands for "Eh, still got quarter of a tank." They lie.

It hadn't been on "E" long. I thought for sure I would be fine because I don't live that far from the store. Live and learn.

Anyhow, I had to call a manager and they sent someone for me. I got $4 worth of gas to last me until morning, and the sweetheart who came to get me pumped the gas and put it into the car for me. I was forty-five minutes late, but I was ahead of schedule anyway so I wasn't worried.
Still, it was wholly embarrassing. I'll be fine one moment, and the next it will pop into my head, and I'll wince a little. I know I'm not the only one who's ever done this (and won't be the last), but I know better. And I did it anyway.
Just like cupcakes. I know I shouldn't eat them. I know better. But I'll eat them anyway.

On a completely different note, I am super pissed that Quinn is lying to Finn on Glee about her pregnancy. What the hell?! This won't bode well for the Rachel-Finn love connection.

See for yourself:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cinema Therapy, volume 6

After my asking for thoughts on a feel-good movie for the week, my sister made two recommendations: Elmocize and The Princess Bride. I've opted for the second of the two.

I cannot tell you how much I love this movie. It has everything a person could want in a feel-good film - comedy, drama, action, and a man with an accent bent on revenge. "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

And the sweetness of Andre the Giant wins me over every time I curl up on the couch to watch it. Plus, I get caught up in the passionate romance between Buttercup and Westley. (Yes, I'm sighing.)

One of my personal favorites, and of course, a cult classic, The Princess Bride is a highly entertaining way to spend a rainy afternoon or a wintry evening.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Chicken or the Egg?

What came first? The third shift or the crazy?

Before I quit at the store the last time I worked there, I came up with this question about those who brave the midnight hour and work until past dawn: "Are third-shifters strange because they're on third shift or are they on third shift because they are strange?"

It's a strange sort of reality, being awake when you should be asleep, asleep when you should be awake. And working when it should be a crime to work.

Why can't we live on one of those planets that has a forty-hour day, one in which the spin on the axis requires a little more time, more like a leisurely stroll than spinning wildly through the solar system (not really, but you know what I mean)? If that were the case, then there would be no need for a third shift. Everything would be done. Awww. How nice.

I occasionally have had bouts of insomnia and when I saw the dawn breaking, I would just be depressed for the time lost that I could've been sleeping. Now, I see the sun coming up and it fills me with relief. I made it through another night with the weirdos. Okay, they aren't really all that weird, but the strange sleeping pattern doesn't lend well to a sane disposition. Imagine zombies that have acquired horrible smoking habits and without the impulse to eat the living.

At least I don't stock shelves. My body would be rejecting me if I did. I admire those that can.

Unfortunately, I'm off tonight and the next two nights, and I won't be able to sleep at the normal times. Ho-hum. What are you gonna do? It's a job. Could be worse. I just keep telling myself, "It's just for now. It's just for now."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The point of walking...

I was on my way to work last night when I saw a sight that I find amusing at the expense of someone else's pride (they just don't know it).

There was a guy, probably in his twenties, making his way down the sidewalk. His gait was horribly awkward (and not in a possibly-physically-disabled-but-not-quite-sure way), and he was wearing the ever-popular (though I can't think why) "wife beater". Yeah, I know I shouldn't use that appalling term, but I have a point. I'm calling that particular walk the "beater step". It's midway between a cool swagger and a drunken stagger.

Walking, like driving, or riding a bike, or flying, is a mode of transportation. It gets you from Point A to Point B - as simple as that. But it seems that it must be dressed up with some pseudo-dance move to somehow make this guy special, make him stand out. I'm guessing that he has to do this in place of a piece-of-junk car with flashy rims.

This isn't the first guy I've noticed doing this. Every once in a while, one will pop up. Makes me think that maybe there's some kind of conspiracy going on to confuse me in my more paranoid moments. But that's just more of my inner-crazy peeking around the corner.

Speaking of inner-crazy, I had a minor bout of insecurity at the job. Seems I don't think or move as fast as I used to. I know, I know. Get over it, Sam. You'll be a pro again soon - God-willing.

But I have to say, I feel really exposed right now because I'm just now remembering some things that got lost since leaving the store, things that I naturally did or followed the process of. It's a strange sort of vulnerability that I didn't think I'd experience by returning to the same store and the same job. When you start a new job at a place you've never work before, doing something you've never done before, you expect that. But because people know me, I keep thinking they are probably expecting all of this to just come back as if I'd never left. So, I kind of shuffle my feet and make awkward expressions, coming up with excuses that I don't really need. Everyone there is pretty patient and saying, "Don't worry. You're doing fine." Am I? Am I really?

This constant need for reassurance is annoying even to me. I can't wait until I'm back to "good" and not just "okay".

I need sleep.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sure, I see it now...

I just read an article online about toxic friendships. And my eyes are opened.

You see, dear readers, I always prided myself on my friendships. I chose people who I believed were worthy of my time and efforts. Looking at this article though, I have to admit that I've come across a few bad relationships with girlfriends. And I ask myself now why I didn't see that before.

Namely, I was the one putting forth all the effort in the friendship. That is by far my biggest pet peeve now, but at the time, as frustrating as it was, I was willing to do all the work for the sake of the friendship. Now, I let friendships run their course. If the friend isn't willing to meet me in the middle, forget it. I can settle for an acquaintance.

In recent years, I've come the farthest with letting go of the emotionally draining, I-think-she-stole-my-life-force-out-of-me friendships. To listen to problem after problem, depressing detail after depressing detail, without so much as acknowledging anything I might like to share, is like digging my own grave. Oh my God! Do these people really believe they are the only ones on the planet, that they're the only ones with issues? Or are they purposely trying to drive the people around them nuts? Good Lord! Go smell a flower or something. Eat a brownie. Anything but continue on and on and on about how your boyfriend/husband/ex-boyfriend/ex-husband/father/stepfather/mother/stepmother/boss/neighbor/mailman/dog-walker is screwing with your head and you need to move or change your phone number or pretend you don't speak English or whatever.

I could've used the book the article is about a long time ago. Where was it then? Even now, I catch myself with friendships that I question the motivation behind. It's always with my girlfriends too. Never the guys. Strange how that is. I guess they really are a whole other species (yeah, I'm learning that too). Even with my gay male friends, while the drama is ever-present (though in waves), I still feel I have an equal footing with them. I'm not afraid of the sucking vortex that some of the relationships I've had in the past have ushered into my life.

Wouldn't the world be an awesome place if all our friendships were fully heartfelt and they were as excited to be in our lives as we are to be in theirs? [Insert sigh here.]

You can read the article here.

By the way, the job kept me an hour late because I couldn't put two and two together. Not good when all I do is count all night. (I keep telling myself, "I'll get there. Don't worry." I have only been back at this for a week.)

Here, this makes me happy...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Cinema Therapy, volume 5

Good God! I forgot Cinema Therapy, yet again. This will be a bad habit. Just warning you. So I'll give you a two-for-one. They actually go together.

First is the original Cheaper by the Dozen (1950), with Clifton Webb and Myrna Loy as the happily married Gilbraiths, and Jeanne Crain as the oldest of their expanding brood. All of the characters are particularly lovely, but you just have to love Clifton Webb as Frank Gilbraith, the overbearing, yet oh-so-dear father. And even though you might be sad due to the ending, you'll find that the overall theme of the film of family and togetherness will make you want to watch it again and again.

The other movie is the sequel, Belles on Their Toes. While you miss the hilarious antics of the family patriarch, you'll love the continuing story of the Gilbraiths and their mother, whose efforts are aimed at breaking down boundaries for women. Furthermore, the love story between Ann and her doctor suitor, as well as the boys' funny attempts to break up Ernestine and her annoying boyfriend will keep you in stitches (yes, I used the cliche).

While you will still enjoy the second without seeing the first, I'd recommend picking up Cheaper first so that none of the references in the second are missed. Plus, both are wonderful films and some of my favorites.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Revenge of the Blubber

Funny how I thought that I could just start working at the store again, and no one would notice that I had gained weight - a lot of weight.

Most people were polite - one of my managers said, "Oh, you look so different." My response: "Well, I just highlighted my hair." "That must be it." (I'll come back to the highlighting fiasco.)

But I forgot just how ghetto my store is. One of my co-workers decided to be oh-so-blunt: "Girl, how did you get so chunky?!" My excuse is the lack of activity, which is conveniently true, in conjunction with eating whatever I want (and I mean, whatever I want). Another was, "Man, you've gained a lot of weight." Thanks. I think I'd like to thank Ben and Jerry for that one.

I thought I'd be safe in my little office on third shift. No one would notice me. I'd be back, but without the excess hassle. Ugh. Totally wrong. So now, there really is no pretending that I didn't get fat. I have to accept the fact that people I have a history with are going to notice.

On the upside, I think all the added movement is working to my weight-loss advantage. Most people gain weight on third shift. This is due to sleeping issues more than anything else. (There's some statistic about this, but I've managed to forget it.) I don't have this problem. I get home and within a half-hour, I'm asleep. I might get up a couple times to pee, but otherwise, I don't seem to be having any trouble sleeping during the day. And I've been eating more after I get up, but I'm still adjusting to eating lunch at 2 AM. Suffice it to say, I've been eating less overall. With the comments by my "beloved" co-workers, it might be time to get serious about the treadmill. And the healthy eating.

So, now the highlighting. I haven't cut my hair since March, and it's driving me a little nuts. At the same time, I've been hesitant to go get it cut. (I have trust issues.) Anyway, the roots were ever-present, so I picked up a box of Colour Experte (from L'oreal - love the stuff). I did the overall dying first, per the instructions. The highlighting was more tricky. The last time I used this particular dye, the highlighter applicator was this wand that looked like a giant mascara brush. It worked out really well. They still have that, but they also have another applicator that I thought I would try. I have to say, it was actually harder to work with, and the highlighting didn't turn out as well. (Note: It doesn't help that I got caught up with something and had the mixture on a "hair" too long and then it was extra light.) This particular applicator made it harder to get close enough to the scalp, so some of it looks weird. But, now that I'm seeing it everyday, it's growing on me and I actually like it. I just do a pseudo-part to compensate for any strangeness.

So, the first week of work was fairly painless, only minute amounts of hurt pride. I'm re-learning my job pretty efficiently, and I think I'll be fine on Thursday when I go back and work by myself (which is still a scary thought so soon after coming back). I'm just grateful I survived relatively unscathed.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Analyzing the specimen

I don't know why I find it mortifying, but I do. Peeing in a cup and handing over to another person is downright weird. And not the good kind of weird. It's the I-can't-wait-to-leave-the-room-and-try-to-forget-this-experience weird. Not quite traumatizing. Not quite part of the norm.

So, the proof that I'm not a junkie of any kind and don't partake of the occasional joint has reached the personnel office at the store. My sister said she's surprised they do a pee test there instead of the more accurate hair follicle pulling test (which probably costs too much for the low-price giant). The hotel my brother-in-law works at used to only use the hair test. After having a very high rate of positive returns, they decided to quit that. They couldn't find enough qualified people who weren't smoking weed. A compromise had to be reached. Now they just have crappy staff.

Today is the ever-dreaded (not really) orientation. Since I've already worked for this company before, and done the job that I will have, I thought that I might be able to forgo the ritualistic Wal-Mart propagandizing that an afternoon watching WMTV and doing computer modules subjects their staff (sorry, associates) to, but no such luck. So, as of 2:30 PM (central time), I will be a Wal-Mart associate again. As my friend Sadie would say, "Well, slap my ass and call me Sally." Yeah, I almost didn't think this day would arrive (and for a long time, didn't want it to), but I've reconciled myself to this. It's not a forever job. Just a for-now job. And that's okay.

I had a chance to watch Glee last night. Diggin' it. I figured keeping the momentum from the pilot going would be tough, but this crew seems up to the challenge with this episode. You can watch it below. Their performance at the assembly is hilarious!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cinema Therapy, volume 4

After yet another hiatus, I'm back with a pic that makes me ever so happy whenever I watch it: Love, Actually. Yes, this weaving tale is complicated, both serious and silly, and is all-around lovely.

And Hugh Grant is the Prime Minister. So, what's not to love?

Probably the best part about it is that it's one of those movies that interweaves very realistic elements of life with the humorous into the story (for example, the recently waning marriage of Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, as well as the heart-warming friendship between has-been rock star Bill Nighy and his ever exasperated manager).

With a tag-line like "The Ultimate Romantic Comedy", you don't know what to expect: either a Judd Apatow, minutely raucous if not raunchy film, with some romance, or something too tame for words that talks itself up as both incredibly romantic and comedic without being either. This film is heartfelt, and very funny.

Back when this came out in 2003, I was still chafing from a failed relationship, and while it wasn't needed to talk me down from a very high ledge, it was a bit of a comfort.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Among other things... a little Swank.

This just in:

It's official. Sam has a job. Some big to-do at the store held things up (and by "to-do", I mean they don't have their act together - nothing new). I'll know more of the details tomorrow.

In the meantime, I've been reflecting on the last couple of weeks (the time since the interviews), and I have to say, I've been remarkably cool about this whole waiting game. I think this a mark of my evolution. The new Sam does not fret. What will be will be. A serious cut in worrying is making my life a whole lot more pleasant. Who'da thunk?

Perhaps the philosophy that worrying solves absolutely nothing, instead just causes more unnecessary suffering, is to be adopted. I guess I can cross that off of my life's "to do" list.

(Note my use of "to do" and "to-do", both in the same post. This is me attempting to be amusing, though even I think it's kind of dumb. Do you ever have those moments where you say something that was meant to be a joke or witty, and it completely flops, and you are the only one chuckling while everyone else is looking at you with either confusion or one of those scrunched up faces that clearly says, "I can't believe you bothered to say that"?)

On another note, my grandmother's recent dive into all things internet related is scaring me a little. When the web was first really gaining speed among the population, back in the mid to late 90's, she warned against it, relaying some message Bible-beater related. I think the technology scared her. Now that she finally got a computer and has been using it everyday, checking out all that this beautiful thing called the world wide web has to offer, I'm terrified. She's already told me about a few things that she would swear is true but is clearly a scam. My thoughts go from zero to "Oh my God! Gramma, don't give them all your money!" in two seconds or less. I'm trying not to worry about it because anything costing more than thirty dollars makes her suspicious.

So now, on to the good stuff.

I have been informed that I was nominated for a Swanky Blog award. I must thank armyblond, who was sweet enough to nominate me.

Per the protocol for this award, I am to nominate this blogger in return, as well as up to nine more blogs and inform the bloggers in their comments section of this nomination.

Sharing the love with (in no particular order):

Be sure to give them a look-see.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The view from Afar

I received my first issue of Afar magazine yesterday. Turns out it's actually the premier issue, so I was pretty stoked. While I haven't read the whole thing yet, I have to admit, I was pretty impressed with what I did read.

First of all, the founders are committed to good foresting practices, which is always a good thing. Secondly, their concept for the mag is a really good one - experiential travel. There's plenty of Travel & Leisure and Budget Travel out there to cover what every other travel mag does - they scratch the surface, but don't offer nearly as much about the adventure that traveling really is. I love this concept. Thirdly, they are looking to expand already, with a full-fledged website, line of books, and a foundation in the works. Said founders, Greg and Joe, no doubt, are keeping pretty busy.

Interested in your own copy of Afar, check out the website here.

I don't know what's going on yet with the dawdlers at Wal-mart. I was told an orientation was in the works, and then they had to key interviews into the system before scheduling an orientation, and now, I've just learned, they finally called my references. I should be freaking right now. Is thing actually going to happen? But I'm not. If it turns out that things don't work out, so be it. There has to be someplace out there that wouldn't be completely opposed to hiring, even if that place is McDonald's. I guess it's alright to come home smelling like french fries. I'm just really tired of fretting. F- it!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Back to square one, or how Sam defeated her bruised ego.

So, I have to admit something...

I'm going back to work for Wal-Mart. (I can hear the gasps and tongue-clicking from here).

It came time to be brutally honest with myself about the occurrences of the last couple of years, and it wasn't pretty.

I started my business back in 2006, not because I had a passion for it, though I do like to travel (it was a business marketing wholesale travel packages), but because I was mad at the stupid store. I felt betrayed at the time, not that it was anything personal.

Okay, here's the breakdown:

In January 2001, I was a junior in college, and I started working at Wal-Mart for no other reason than to make some dough. Back then, I was working another part-time job in school-age child care (which I really liked), and was going to school full-time. Then I picked up the Wal-Mart job, a full-time position. I was very quickly burned out, tapped out financially, and decided to use this as an excuse to quit school instead of the store (which, looking back, was the biggest mistake I've made yet).

By November that year, I was a department manager, which was another horrid mistake. I became emotionally involved with this place. It was definitely a disillusioning experience.

Every time I tried to step down from the position, my very persuasive and charismatic store manager would talk me off the ledge. This happened at least twice. Finally, I acquired a full-time job at a bank as a teller, and as the schedules conflicted, I was released from being a department manager.

I continued on at the store as a sort of "odd job" girl, doing this and that, staying busy because I could cover certain things for other department managers when they didn't have time and because that store is fairly psychotic on a daily basis anyway.

After being at the bank for about a year and a half, I got into the cash office (or accounting dept.). Finally, finally, I was in a position I actually liked. Soon after, I quit the bank. I was in the office for over two years when they switched the whole program and a number of people were going to be moved out to the floor. I was devastated. If I didn't take a part-time position, I would have to go back to the floor or as a cashier or as a customer service manager. Ugh!

This little opportunity came along around the same time to run my own business from home. Looking back, I was looking for any excuse to quit that place, and I took it.

Look, I liked the product I sold (and can still sell if I choose). I thought there was a lot of opportunity there. But the truth was that the organization I was with focused nearly all of their attention on network marketing (getting people to start their own business) instead of retail marketing. Even the business to business marketing was annoying. Then that organization decided to drop that product altogether and go with something else (a very quick way for the founders - with thousands under them - to rake in millions - and we're talking a matter of days). It was an unethical situation.

I tried going it alone for a while, and I tried and I tried and I tried. It was so draining, and I didn't want to admit some horrible failure. But that's what it was. So here I am, all this time later with nothing to show for it.

I shredded my 720 credit score (God knows what it is now). I ruined my work history. I lost my car. My relationships have been strained to the breaking point. And it ended up being all for nothing.

So, here's where I got honest with myself:

I finally asked myself what it was I really wanted. Absolutely positively. In very certain terms.

What do I want? What do I want?

1. I want to travel. That's why I started that type of business. So, that's definitely on the list. I want to go everywhere (I'm imagining Tina Fey saying "I want to go to there".) Here I am saying, "Let's work on that". Paris, Dublin, Goa, Buenos Aires, not to mention a ton of other places. They're officially on the list.

2. I want to write. Ever since I was a little kid, I knew that's what I wanted to do. I've been incredibly inconsistent with it (and that I will definitely work on), but ultimately, I keep gravitating towards that. So, I'm structuring a novel. In the works, so check.

3. I want to find a way to be of service. I'm coming up with little ideas that will hopefully sprout into bigger ideas. My mom mentioned a few months ago that she was disappointed in herself that she didn't instill a sense of duty when it came to volunteering. When we were kids, she was going through a lot, and I think we still turned out relatively decent. I don't hold it against her. But I think that I will feel a lot more fulfilled when I'm making a contribution to society other than paying taxes, voting, and showing up for jury duty.

4. I want to take off the depression weight. At least thirty pounds of it. Yuck! How did I let this happen? Oh well. I can do it. I've always noticed that when I'm happy, I'm smaller. I'm guessing this has to do with a huge number of hormones that I don't know the names of, but they all probably have at least six syllables.

So, after an extensive job search that was both depressing and disappointing, I think I found the right job at the right time. And ironically, it's at Wal-Mart.

There was an opening in the accounting office at the store I used to work at. Apparently they are having a hard time finding people who don't lose large amounts of money.

As much as I dreaded the thought of going back, after the interview process and all the anxiety that comes with applying for a job I left because I thought I had something better, the people I used to work with are welcoming me back with open arms.

I know. It's Wal-Mart. There can't be a huge lesson learned from there, and in all honesty, I don't plan on staying forever. But I feel very lucky that this happened. Is there some kind of cosmic force at work. I'm not holding my breath, but I am sighing with a sort of relief.

At any rate, I'll have plenty of writing material.

So, I'm starting at square one. This is Sam starting over. Better I got through my mid-life crisis now. I feel like the rest of my life awaits. And instead of being overly depressed, I'm ready to get going, wholly optimistic, and, I think, in a frame of mind that is finally being honest with me.

I don't know if my story will be one of those inspiring pieces that will spread by word of mouth until I'm relatively famous for being a prodigal Wal-Mart worker (God forbid). But I do know that I feel like a ton of weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Where have you been?!

I know, conveniently absent all this time. Trying to get my shit back together I guess.

So, not much to report. I think it's safe to say that I killed some plants, but other than that, not a whole heck of a lot.

My sister has decided that we are going to have a little getaway, just us sisters. The baby and the hubby get to stay home. Fine by me. She needs the time away from being mom and wife. We're probably gonna be spending a couple of days in the Dells - again. Yeah, I know, but it's close and she doesn't want to be too far away (just in case of what? Maybe the baby will learn how to rob banks or commit arson or defy her daddy - who knows - it could happen.) Plus, it's close enough to Madison to see good friend Joe Kramer (We actually call him Joe Kramer - not Joe, not Joseph, it's Joe Kramer - we don't know why this is funny. It just is.) I have yet to meet the boyfriend and they've been dating like a million years already. (This makes me a horrible friend, by the way.)

Mom's preparing for a trip out East - Williamsburg. I'm constantly hearing the details of the vacation. I want to say I'm enjoying it, but it's a little annoying when you hear the same thing at least fifteen times. Glad she's getting a chance to get out of town. She gets a little stir-crazy when she has to stay in the same state long. It's amazing she hasn't moved four or five times in the last eleven years (since buying the house).

I'm trying to come up with a good movie for Cinema Therapy. Stay tuned for that one.

I think I've decided on a new bedroom set. Hopefully this will change the storage situation. Plus I'm digging the white. It's a new set from IKEA (big surprise!) called Aspelund. The three-door wardrobe comes with a mirror, which is handy because I don't have one in there right now. Anyhow, I like it. But I'll probably change my mind before I get it. I hate being so indecisive.

Let me think. Any more details that are eluding me? Nope. That's about it.

Hopefully I won't take so long to return next time. And maybe I'll actually have something worthwhile to say. It's been a slow month.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Cinema Therapy, volume 3

OMG! I almost forgot about Cinema Therapy this week. Well, this is one of my all-time favorite feel-good movies. If you've never seen it, clearly you are living under a rock in a third world country.


Okay, so when The Goonies came out when I was little, I found myself having a little-girl crush on Sean Astin. He was sooo cute.

In Rudy, you can't help falling in love with him. I always have that "you can do it!" rush watching him as the wannabe Notre Dame football player. You'll be rooting for him too. You know you will.

And ladies, this is a great movie to curl up and watch with the man. He might actually not be bored even though it doesn't have major explosions. I know, I shouldn't generalize men. I used to know this guy who actually preferred chick-flicks to action films - and yes, he was straight. Ugh, that's another post.


I don't know what made me do it. But as sudden urges do, I found myself in the presence of items I hadn't bothered even thinking about for many, many years: Gothic romantic novels.

When I was living in Anoka all those years ago, we would frequent this used book store in Osseo. My mother was addicted (and I'm not talking about frequency, I'm talking about obsession) to romance novels. She calls me a literature snob because I have never really been a fan (I think I've called them "crap" a time or two - I apologize to anyone who has a particular love of this genre). Anyhow, back then, she got me reading these books of a romantic persuasion, and I have to admit: I did like them. Of course, I was between the ages of eleven and thirteen. I probably wasn't qualified to make a judgment about the quality of said books.

On a whim, I started thinking about these books. I think it started with a film conversation. For whatever reason, I came to the conclusion that Hollywood hasn't produced any good Gothic cinema for years, and the majority of which (and probably the best of which) was foreign in origin. I'm not really all that versed on the subject, but here I was expressing an opinion I had no right to express.

Anyway, it got me thinking about those books. So, down the basement I went and dug out these books. I only had a few of them left (I imagine that several trips ago, most went with to Half-Price Books and never returned). And honestly, I didn't really remember a single story. I don't think this a statement about how good a story any of them were. I suppose one story faded into another until I didn't remember what was what, especially when they were probably read in succession.

So now, here I am, re-reading Thunder Heights. And I gotta say, it's not the best written story I've ever encountered. (To be fair, these authors were rather prolific more out of necessity than desire. It's hard to be profound on a deadline.)

Thankfully, it wasn't until I got to page 130 that I encountered any statement like the following:

She raised her own head without hesitation and went quite simply into his arms. He was not gentle now. His mouth was hard upon her lips so that they felt bruised beneath its touch. Her body ached under the pressure of his arms, but she did not want the pain lessened. When he raised his head she would have put her arms about his neck and risen on her toes to rest her cheek again his own, admitting everything - all the wild feeling that surged through her, all the wanting so long held in check because there was no one to want. Her movements were those of one spellbound, as though she had no will of her own, and could bow only to his.

I got one word for you people: Ick!

She didn't want the pain lessened? She was spellbound? By a man?

If the kiss was so hard he actually bruised my lips, I'd be nipping that one in the bud. "You bruised my f---ing lips, you dick!" (I'm sounding a little angry today. I'll try to scale it back.)

Even on my most needy of days, I was never spellbound. This can't be based on any sort of reality. Maybe I'm being harsh. I suppose the origin of the novel dictated that there should be some deviation from reality; escapism. But come on! I wonder if she can feel the "wild feeling" surging through me (hint: it rhymes with Gromit).

Ah well, love scenes aside, I'm digging the descriptions of the settings. There is nothing more fascinating than a weird, big, old house filled with secrets from the past.

The turrets were no longer bright as Althea King had described them. Storms had weathered the house to a dingy gray, left too long unpainted, and the trees crowding about gave it the look of a place left uninhabited. It appeared enchanted, spellbound, there on its remote heights. Not a house, but the picture of a house, torn from the pages of fantasy.

I have this thing about big, old houses. They capture my imagination in ways that few things will. I sometimes wish I were stealthy enough to break into a few of them, just to peek around. My all-time favorite house on film is the house in The Changeling, the George C. Scott movie, not the Angelina Jolie pic. That giant old house was just created on a film set, but if it weren't, I can guarantee you I would've visited it by now.

Anyhow, I'll probably blast through these books, mainly just so I can say I did. It feels more like a guilty pleasure than an actually beneficial activity, but most reading is anyway.

By the way, and on a completely different note, I have watched the end number on the pilot episode of Glee at least twenty times. This is bordering on ridiculous, but admittedly, this is going to be a fun show if this episode is any indication. I wasn't a show choir person myself - I left that to my sister - I was already a band geek. Still, it has that quality that only a well-formed cast can put together. And who doesn't love Journey?!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The love is gone.

This might be the end between me and Hollywood Video. The love affair has lasted several years, but last night was the last straw and it's time for an official break-up.

You see, dear friends, about seven years ago, after becoming disillusioned with Blockbuster, I decided to concentrate my video-renting efforts with a smaller chain of stores, Hollywood Video. At the time, it was ideal. They had more of the types of titles that I liked and they offered to give me back a dollar every time I returned one of their new releases before midnight the next day. Plus, they offered five night rentals (which were a novelty at the time). So, to say the least, I fell in love, and as all love affairs start, one assumes that it will last forever.

A few years ago, I discovered Netflix, and I admit I cheated on my beloved. There were no due dates, I could have out as many movies in a month as I wanted, and all for less than twenty dollars. It was a distraction from my love, but I still relied heavily on HV for my sudden viewing urges, so the relationship continued.

But last night, after seeing what might be available on the fly, I discovered that HV's prices had risen again (to $4.49 a rental). They have a new program called PowerPlay - a competitive response to Blockbuster - but even that couldn't entice me to stay. I cannot watch HV die a slow and painful death, caused by HV's own unhealthy actions. It's sad, to say the least, and my devotion should continue despite these ill-made decisions. But, dear readers, my heart is broken, and indeed, the love is gone.

I shall miss the familiar faces of the employees there, the sounds echoing off the high ceilings and tiled floors, the smell of their library. But my heart, once lost, is lost forever.

Goodbye my lovely, and may you find happiness with your other patrons who still devote themselves wholeheartedly to you.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Why God invented mosquitos.

Last night we checked out the DCI show in Greendale. It's interesting going to these things. Here are these kids (some of them really small - I can't believe I was ever that young sometimes), who have worked so hard, traveling around the country - they were pretty impressive, most of them.

The rules are clearly different in judging drum and bugle corps marching compared to high school marching band competitions (they are a lot more lax). Marching off the field, no rules about marching on the field, chaos, etc. Anyway, I had a good time.

Funny though, the first group we saw was - how shall we say? - bad. I didn't want to say it. But they really were. And my thought was: If the whole show is like this, should I stay?

Clearly this group was a brand new corps, so they are on one end of the learning curve. The group was small in comparison to the other corps and the marching and music was so not clean. (Listen to me judge - I was terrible when I was in hs marching - at least my playing was horrible. I know, I'm such a hypocrit.)

But the rest were pretty fantastic. I had my favorites (I won't mention names - *cough* Velvet Knights *cough*), but overall it was thoroughly enjoyable.

The fans really get into this stuff. My mom told me this story about my dad dragging her to a show with the NY Skyliners when they were first married and he and his friends were wooping and screaming and the like. You'd think they were at a football game or something.

As my grandpa used to say, "Good stuff, Maynard."

Downside: bug bites, people. In the end, I was scratching endlessly. The stupid mosquitos came out about a half hour before the show ended and of course, I was a target of their blood lust. Simply put, God was punishing us when he invented mosquitos. They carry disease, they annoyingly fly right in front of your face (and sometimes buzz in your ear), they bite you in the most inconvenient of places (back side of my knee - ugh! - and on my scalp - yes, my scalp), they cause you to use the stinkiest antidotes to the itch (bring on the Calamine), and though they don't fly at the speed of light, they make it impossible to kill them!

So, that was that.

Then I went out for pie. With ice cream. Yummmm.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Me - complaining again.

I've been totally slacking with this blog and my cheapskate guide. I admit it. I even added cinema therapy and blog of the week to be fill-ins for any real information. (They are actually fun little indulgences for me - I know you like them - don't judge.)

I guess I can tell you some things that are going on.

Firstly, my arm still hurts from the aforementioned injury. When I related the extent of the height of the pain to my mother (RN and fibromyalgia victim), saying it was an eight on the pain scale, she had the balls to demean my experience.

Mom: Well, an eight for you maybe.

My response: [scoff] What are you trying to say? I have no pain tolerance?

Mom: [rolls eyes and changes subject]

You know, I wait an awful long time before resorting to any form of pain killers. I don't mind minor discomforts. I don't even usually take anything for cramps. But she's my mother, so she thinks that she has a perfect right (and with the fibromyalgia, completely licensed) to belittle any injury I might have.

Am I the only one who gets this from a parent? It's not even right.

Anyway, it's raining a little today. All I can say is that crap better clear up before tonight, because I have a date with a drum and a bugle. I'm supposed to go to a drum and bugle corps show in Greendale. Of course, such events take place outside, and though I'm not opposed to getting wet once in a while (the occasional shower, running between the car and the store in a storm, you get the drill) I'm not a fan of the wet-clothing-sticking-to-the-skin thing. I get itchy.

I am literally ten cents from ordering another magazine through e-rewards. I've decided the next mag pick is Afar magazine. It has an interesting concept: experiential travel. I've noticed that so many people focus their traveling on doing the things that others are doing, activities specifically created and marketed towards the tourist, that and where to shop. At least, most travel mags do (I could just be picky about this, or maybe it's my arm annoying me).

And it seems lately that I'm helping other people with their travel plans, which would be okay if I had my own travel plans to dedicate my enthusiasm towards. But at the moment, not so. C'est la vie.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cinema Therapy, volume 2

Today's Cinema Therapy pick is Iron Jawed Angels.

I love any movie that documents any historical struggle by one group and ends with a victory on their part.

I think women might take for granted the right to vote now - it's been almost ninety years since the nineteenth amendment was ratified, guaranteeing women the right to vote. So, when I watched this, I was doubly impressed not only by the suffragettes resolve, but also by their willingness to do what they needed to to get their voices heard. It's very moving, and a stirring reminder of what the US would be like if women were still overwhelmingly viewed the way they were by men during that time and how far we've come.

We may not be all there yet - there are still some glass ceilings to break - but I'm very proud of what women have been able to accomplish since then.

There are some great performances in this film. Of course, Hilary Swank rocks, as usual, but so do Frances O'Connor (who I've been a fan of since Mansfield Park), Vera Farmiga, and Molly Parker. Great for a rainy day!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Paris Breakfasts - Blog of the week

I'm not sure it's a good idea to start pointing out other people's blogs, but some of them that I've found are so interesting (and/or completely darling) that I don't think I can resist any longer.

I've been following Paris Breakfasts for a while. It's one of those blogs that entice people to pick up a French-English dictionary and quietly inquire into flights to Paris.

Needless to say, the pictures that Madame Gillott provides the willing vicarious participants of her Paris adventures are divine. And her watercolors have that quaint, precious quality that makes you want to order every one and place everywhere around your home (on the walls, sitting on your tables, propped up on books sitting on the floors, etc.). That said, may you proceed (or click) with caution (to your pocketbooks).

Kind of makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Carol Gillott, blogger extraordinaire, was even featured in Metro Pets last week. (Check out the headliner here.)

I find that when I'm in need of a little happy time (cue the Petula Clark) this is the sort of blog I like to read. Of course, Paris Breakfasts already has a large following, but what's a few more. I think everyone needs a little Paris in their lives.

Say "bonjour" to Paris Breakfasts.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Finally, relief...

This morning, I was glad to wake up to less pain. Actually mobility - who knew?

I'll never take my working limbs for granted again. My right arm isn't fully mobile yet, but the strength is returning. Overall, the sharp pains - the kind that make me sit rocking like a psych patient - have subsided quite a bit.

All I can say is, "Thank God!" For a while I didn't think it would ever end. There was a point where all I was doing was laying down in a very specific position because it was the only way that the pain wasn't completely unbearable. I've downed a ridiculous amount of ibuprofen over the last week or so.

As a result of this experience, however, I don't have much to blog about. Not much happens when you're just lying around, except piles of dirty dishes magically appear, taunting you.

I hope I didn't miss too much in the blogosphere.

Friday, July 24, 2009

There is definitely something wrong with me.

So, I've reported on the crick in my neck that's been haunting me for over a week now. The night before last, it shifted to a point in my back/shoulder. Now, it must be pinching a nerve, because I have limited control of my arm (weird? I know, right?). It feels a little bit like my right arm (I'm a righty - this is my luck) is almost foreign to my body. I can only lift it so far, and my shoulder and arm are in pain! Ouch! (I'm trying to type this one-handed.)

It's a little funny. My mom doesn't see the humor. She wants me to see a chiropractor, but I think it's getting better. (This is what I tell myself anyway. Denial isn't always a bad thing.)

If I appear absent for the next couple days, this is why.

Pain sucks. Sam signing out.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

My heart belongs to Hulu.

So, as previously stated, Hulu is my new BFF. Can't help it. Going through a bit of the satellite withdrawal. (It's really not that bad.) I can find a couple shows to watch and I'm good for a while. Not a complete substitute, and I have to admit, it's nice not having an excuse to watch several hours of TV a day.

However, Hulu has offered up a fine selection of television viewing including a new show I'm digging, Warehouse 13. The premise sounds a little used and dopey, but it's entertaining just the same, and kind of a funnier version of Fringe (which was last season's best new show as far as I'm concerned - I think the SciFi girl in me is speaking out loud and clear). Be sure to watch the Pilot first.

They say we can't have it all, but they've never been to Hulu.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cinema Therapy, volume 1

So, I've decided that every HumpDay, I will pick one of possibly millions of films that are either uplifting or touching in some way (not the bad way - naughty!)

This week's pick is Peaceful Warrior.

I love movies about people going through an existential crisis of sorts that only some metaphysical therapy can remedy.

(And it helps that the guy has a great body. But that's way besides the point.)

Anyhow, possibly the best part about this movie is Nick Nolte, whose philosophical nature imbues a new sense of self on the young gymnast, played by Scott Mechlowicz.

Definitely worth a couple hours. Based on the book by Dan Millman.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dawdling - yeah, that's right.

I am a little annoyed with Blogger today. I have this really bad habit of wasting time by trying to find other cool or unique or weird blogs. So, I hit the "next blog" button, looking for others, and today, it seems that they just keep providing me the same five or six over and over, until I finally get the point and give up.

I like checking out other blogs. It's fun. I try to give a look-see to most of the ones that I'm following most days. Maybe I should be doing that instead of adding more to the already oversized list of weblogs I'm already following.

Or better yet, get some freakin' work done.

Just a thought.

Update: My sister is reporting that my niece got her first molar in. This weekend, Lily was being especially whiny (and annoying), and Shannon was crabbing at her a little for it. Then she felt bad when she realized that the kid poked another tooth through, and not one of the fun ones. In addition to this, Lily is now officially afraid of bugs. This is funny because this is the same toddler that was previously trying to kiss ladybugs. Now, if a fly lands on her or an ant crawls on her, she freaks out like me when there's a spider in the tub (envision a crazy person running around, arms flailing). She is so unpredictable (Lily, not the crazy person - me). And quickly becoming a girly-girl. I think Shannon was hoping that Lily would be a little tomboyish like she was when she was little. But Lily may change back yet. We'll see.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Thank God I wasn't naked!

Funny how things work.

The gas meter on the house is located inside the enclosed deck off the back room addition. I was sitting all ho-hum this morning, reading a book, enjoying the weather as the breeze wandered in through the open sliding glass door. Suddenly, I was not alone!

The guy came to read the meter today, and all I can think is "whew, thank God I wasn't naked!"

I'm sure there have been many a nude person imposed upon by these rare and always sudden occurrences. I was not one of them. Simply startled, then went about my day.

Yikes! That was a close one. (Note: It wasn't really that close, I am not one of those people who is only comfortable in the buff. But I could've been. That's a nice breeze today.)

Now, I'm contemplating the next home project in a concerted effort to clean up the dung heap - er - garbage dump - er - this lovely home. They shouldn't call them ranches. They should call them the single-story abodes that rarely provide enough storage space and thus accumulate crap. (Added note: I realize this is deflecting blame from where it squarely deserves to be - on me. I am not always organized, but when I am, I really am.)

Plus, whoever planned my bedroom should be shot. There are two doors into it: one from the kitchen and one from the hallway. This makes it increasingly difficult to find a decent place to put the bed, much less any other furniture. And you factor in the stupid placement of the windows, and I just want to scream.

Moving is quickly looking a lot more pretty! Shannon might win out on her endeavor to bring me and Mom into the same state as her little family.

Until tomorrow (if I can get my ass to the blog).

P.S. The neck still hurts. I've pretty much given up. Now, I'm giving into the pain and waiting patiently for it to fade. Any day now...



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