Week in Review

We start out with things from the previous week.  My weekend was a little packed, and I didn’t have time to update last Sunday’s post:

Pink- Prudential Center- great concert!!

“Incognito” my daughters high school play (she does lights and many things stage- the highlight for me was that in the program credits, she is listed above the drama club advisor.  Nice moment of remembering the people who help out off stage)

Metropolitan Museum of Art- we needed to revisit Thomas Cole: husband is a big fan of the Hudson River School and felt he didn’t get enough when we saw this show a few weeks ago

Now- to this week-

What I Listened to:

Moby “Everything was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt”

Joan Baez “Whistle Down the Wind”

Yo La Tengo “There’s a Riot Going on”

What I Watched:

  1. “The Unexpected Stranger” Players Theater- off-Broadway.  It’s an Agatha Christie play- do I need to say any more?
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Oh No: A Blog About Blogging

Sometimes the universe works in weird ways.  I planned to write about my blogging process, and the day is just throwing in some twists and turns to sort of oddly highlight how my blogging process works.  And if his doesn’t make sense, I will tell you that I have a nasty cough and head cold, so my powers of thought are a bit all over the place.

Let’s start at the beginning- the beginning of the day.  I usually write my blog early in the morning.  My daughter usually leaves for school at about 7:05, my husband leaves for work about 7:45.  Around this time, I am thinking about my blog post for the day.  The minute my Husband is out the door, I sit and I blog.  My normal blog takes me about 15-20 minutes to write, assuming my internet doesn’t go out.  Now, I admit my internet service is awesome: my computer is lousy at staying connected.  I love writing at this time in the morning: my mind is fresh, my thoughts are sharp, and it is a great warm up for when I begin to work on my novel.  I also have this compulsion to have my blog post out by 9am.  It’s one of my controlling things…

Now, a few weeks ago, I went to DC.  Before I left, I decided to schedule blogs because I knew that being away and keeping to a blogging schedule was just not going to work.  So, my “plan” was to write a day ahead from the week before I left.  If I included weekends, I would have blogs scheduled for the duration of my vacation.  Good plan.  I would still write in the morning, just not for that days post.

And as all plans go….

Here’s what actually happened.  I would sit down to write, and instead off finishing in my usual 20 minutes, I found myself overthinking my blogs.  In the back of my mind I kept thinking “this isn’t scheduled to go live till tomorrow at 8.  I have until then to work on it.”  This is where the problems began.  I started to tweak and play and rework my posts.  Now, one would think that these posts were outstanding, because I edited and reworked….Well, one would be wrong.  I hated these two weeks worth of posts.  I felt they were stilted and didn’t sound like me.

So what did I find out about myself?  I need to write my post fresh in the morning.  I need to just publish the drivel that I’ve put on the page.  I need to stop overthinking. When I write in the morning it’s fun.  I’m enjoying it.  When I start playing with posts, well, it’s not so fun for me anymore.  I second guess.  This is not a good position for an over thinker.

As I’ve already started talking to you about my blogging process, I might as well give you the rest of the dirty secrets.  You’ve all heard about my obsession with planners…well, as soon as I get a blog idea, I enter it into my planner.  For anyone interested, I know what I’m writing about through May 10.  Yes.  I have that many blog ideas.

Which brings us to: how do I get my blog ideas.  Ok- literally everywhere.  I get inspired by comments others have made on my blogs.  I find interesting things in other blogs I read.  My family.  My activities.  Etc.  Etc.  I get ideas from my life. My plain, old, boring life fills me with ideas.  I guess this is the upside of being an over thinker: every aspect of my life has the ability to become a blog post.  Every blog post has the ability to become a follow-up.  Are they all equally interesting or great? No.  But you never know what will interest people.  Topics I thought were a little boring have gone on to be favorites of the blog community, so here’s another one for what do I know.

Now, I also admit that I pre write my Gratitude Saturdays and Week in Review.  I begin \those the day after the old one posts, and I just add to them as the week progresses.  As these is no central idea, I have no problem with this method.  The only problem is that some weekends are WAY busier than others, so I don’t get to add any flourishes to the weekend reports.  That’s just life.  I’m trying to be chill about that.

But now lets talk about today.  I have a nasty cold.  I normally get up at 6 and start prepping for the day.  Today, 6am brought about a hideous coughing fit, and the decision to pull the covers up a little more.  I didn’t get out of bed until 8:30.  I went to boot up my computer, and noticed that a update had been installed.  Good times.  Who knew what time my computer would actually be ready for action.

Finally, install and restart completed.  It was after 9.  The crazy part of my brain was annoyed that I wouldn’t have my post completed before that.  Technically though, it was still morning and it was still going to be a fresh blog post.  And there was some sort of irony in knowing that I had planned a blog about blog process 3 weeks ago, and then today it all went to hell.

So, as I type out the last words, it’s 9:56.  I’m happy with this post.  And I’m going to try not to freak out that it’s “late”.

I ______________ That

When faced with the title sentence, which word do you normally use:

  1. Like
  2. Love
  3. Am indifferent to
  4. Hate

Seriously, think about how often you phrase something like this, how often you make a bold declarative statement, and if you use of the above words more than the others.

Are you thinking?

Let’s start with like.  I know we all “like” things.  I expect a bunch of you to “like” this post…we write so that others read our words, and get some sort of feeling about what we have written.  But I don’t mean social media likes.  I mean, how often do you utter the words “I like _________”?

I’m going to give you some examples:

I like using cloth napkins when I’m eating.  I think they cover my lap better, are softer when I wipe my mouth, and are better for the environment because I don’t throw them away.  I like cloth napkins.

Love.  How often do you use the word love in a day?  5 times?  50 times?  None?  I tell my daughter that I love her every morning when she walks out the door.  I love hot tea with milk and sugar.  Count your loves.

Am Indifferent to.  I rarely use these exact words on a daily basis, but there are things I have absolutely no opinion on.  Coke or pepsi?  Doesn’t matter.  Are there things around you that you don’t care enough about to form an opinion?

Hate.  How often do you use the word hate?  I hated that book.  I hate that movie.  I hate _______.  Seriously, how often do you use the word, or think the word every day?  How many things do you feel so strongly about that you use the word hate?

Take five minutes.  Tabulate your results.

How many times did you use each word?  Is there anything that stands out?  Have you used one word more than another?  Does anyone have Hate leading the pack?

We all hate things.  We all are allowed to hate things.  I hate anchovies- really can’t stand them. And that’s fine.  Hating something is fine.

But do you hate more than you love, like or are indifferent to?

Now, before you get crazy, I’m not advocating becoming “Susie Sunshine”, or “Polyanna”.  I’m not handing out rose colored glasses, or handing anyone a bucket of sand.  I just want you to think about what words are filling your thoughts, dreams, prayers and your time.  I want you to think about what words are making up your life.  If the majority of your words are words of hate, how do you think you are going to feel inside?

Try to have a balance of those four basic ideas as you are going about your day.  If you find yourself constantly repeating the same thought, try thinking again.  If you write a post about something that makes you mad, or that you hate, try to balance out the next post by writing about something you like.  Or, as a spin, write about how to fix the problem of the thing you hate or that makes you mad.  There are negative things in life: how do you make them into a positive.

Are we clear on this weeks homework?  First, we analyze how often we use these words.  Then we figure out how to balance our thoughts out.  I’m not aiming for positivity awards:  the goal is balance.

Whop wants to win the first “Balanced Thought Award”? (don’t get too excited- I don’t create memes…)

 

 

 

Week In Review

What I listened to:

  1. Taylor Swift
  2. Mitski
  3. The Breeders “All Nerve”
  4. Vance Joy “Nation of Two”
  5. Madonna “Rebel Heart”
  6. Run the Jewels
  7. Hurry for the Riff Raff
  8. FischerSpooner “Sir”
  9. Kelsey Karter
  10. MGMT “Little Dark Age”
  11. Power Trip
  12. Jeff Rosenstock “post”
  13. Waxahatchee “Farewell Transmission”
  14. Meredith Monk

What I Saw:

  1. Whitney Museum: Zoe Leonard: “Survey”  Grant Wood: “American Gothic and Other Fables” (seriously- American Gothic!!!) Nick Mauss: “Transmissions”
  2. “Children of a Lesser God” Broadway

 

Funny Story: My daughter and I were discussing Pride and Prejudice the other day (seriously, you have no idea how long I waited to have that discussion) Of course, being a teenager and a chip off the old block, she said to me “I don’t know why you like Lizzie so much.  She’s really displeasing.”  I must admit, though she may not like Lizzie and therefore must find someone else to pay for her education, I was pretty thrilled about her using the word displeasing.  I think she got something out of the novel…

 

Gratitude Saturday

  1. 300 POSTS!!  YAY!
  2. All of my blog friends!
  3. That it only took my Mother 2 minutes to shut her ringing phone in the theater
  4. My daughter reading Pride and Prejudice
  5. freshly sharpened pencils
  6. trail mix
  7. I realized quickly that I hit “publish” instead of “schedule” when I worked on this post early in the week
  8. my tea kettle- which suffered the loss of its handle this week.  For a 15$ pot, you served me well.  I’ll miss you dear friend
  9. my dishwasher, which also died this week, but it was a great ride…
  10. Librarians
  11. Libraries
  12. my cat voluntarily coming out from under the couch
  13. warm weather (before the impending snow…)
  14. Mama Maria’s for putting a plastic bag in the package so you can properly store the second pie crust if you don’t use it
  15. PBS finally being on demand (yay- cause I forgot to DVR record the midwife)
  16. burn ointment for the two burn I got while cooking this week (ok- this is a lemonaid out of lemons cause I was not feeling very grateful about this at all)

And A Hush Goes Over the Room

In today’s episode of “how many blog posts can you milk from one idea” we again approach my book club meeting/discussion of “Portrait of a Lady” by “Henry James…

So we’re at my Tea book club.  This particular book club is sponsored by my tea society.  We meet in a local Barnes and Noble, drink tea (usually Harney) and discuss a book that somehow talks about tea.  The iconic first line of PoaL is “Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”  But never fear, today we will not be dissecting this quote…we’ll leave that to another blog…

But anyway.  Sorry- there might be some spoilers if you’ve never read the book and have 6 or so months to put into reading it.

Gilbert Osmond is kind of a tool.  Most people (including the majority of my book club) despise this character.  He is deceptive, self righteous and hypocritical.  Most doubt that he actually loves Isabel Archer; many feel he has married her for her money.

So the book club was going on and on about how much we hate this character.  And began pointing out why we didn’t think he loved Isabel.  We talked about her other suitors, why we preferred them to Osmond.  We sported evidence:  we had quotes and instances that backed up our hatred of Osmond.  The overall feeling was that he didn’t love Isabel because he couldn’t tolerate who she was at her core- he didn’t love her for who she was.  he loved the idea of her, but not actually her.

Everyone agreed.  Well, almost everyone.  One member. we’ll call her A, was adamant that Osmond did indeed love Isabel.  It didn’t matter that he didn’t like most of Isabel’s characteristics.  It didn’t matter that he actively tried to change her.  A could not be persuaded otherwise: she firmly believed that Osmond truly loved Isabel.

Why was she so adamant?

Because her boyfriend of 10 years didn’t like any of  her individual characteristics, yet he still loved her.  He was always trying to change her behaviors and the things that she did.  Yet he loved her.

So, what do you do when a group of people have discussed the reasons why they hate a character, and those very reasons mirror a real life situation involving a person sitting at the table?

You sort of look at one another, shift your butt in your seat, get up to make more tea…anything to give a little distance to the situation.  Anything to give you a natural moment to change the topic.

But who am I kidding?  There is no good way to change a topic when someone says their boyfriend reminds them of a really despicable character in literature.  You just sit there, wishing that you could grab HG Wells and just go back 30 minutes in time so you can say how great a husband Osmond was, how he deserves to be husband of the year.

But, HG forgot to leave us his time machine, so you just sit there and talk about what is was like to serialize a novel and get paid by the word.  Because that’s safe.  (though I was preying her job didn’t include getting paid by the word…)

So what’s the best thing to do when you have unknowingly insulted someone’s partner, relationship and life status?

I don’t know.  That’s why I’m asking.  I got through the rest of book club, but I have to see her again next month.  I still feel weird.  I’m going to be quiet in book club (ok- there’s no way I’m going to be quiet in book club, but you get the idea) And I know we ALL talked about how much we hated Osmond, and I’m guessing everyone will be just as uncomfortable…but really….

I have to power through “Age of Innocence” again, so I can look for potential pitfalls…

 

 

 

 

Portrait of a Lady?

“A woman’s natural mission is to be where she’s most appreciated.”  Henry James “The Portrait of a Lady”

I recently reread PoaL for book club.  As it’s been about 30 years since I last opened this book, there were many things I did not remember (including how longggggg it actually is), and honestly, I didn’t even notice this particular quote on the reread, a fellow book clubber remarked on it, but I am so glad she did.

Powerful quote, right?

Written in 1881.

What do you think of this quote?

Apparently true in 1881.

Is it still true today?

I know.  I’ve given you a lot of questions.  I know.  I’m usually the talkative one.  What?  You want my opinion?  Ok.  I’ll try…

Sometimes, women undermine themselves.  Sometimes women want to be everything to everybody.  Sometimes women want it all.  Sometimes women want it all, at the same time.  Is it just an innate trait?  Are women just hardwired this way?

Personal anecdote.  My daughter is stressed out for what her high school refers to as “hell”.  Her teacher told them the other day “Remember Freshman year, when we read Dante?  Well, that was not hell.  The last eight weeks of Junior year- well, that’s hell.”  My Husband is stressed out at work- he’s a corporate tax accountant working for a large bank and trying to deal with tax reform.

Fun times at my house.

I try to emotionally support both of them.  I listen to them talk about the challenges they are both facing.  I give them practical advice as needed.  I help my daughter clean her room, and I pick up the slack of household things that my husband normally does.  Yes, it’s part of the pact you make when you sign up to be part of a family- you help each other as needed.

But do women do this more than men?  Would my Husband jump in if the roles were reversed?

But, lets get to the next part.  Am I doing these things because I want to help my family?  Or am I really looking for a thank you?  Am I looking for appreciation?

I know plenty of people who only do things because they want to be “owed”.  They’re looking for the quid quo pro.  My in-laws are like this:  they will say “Don’t forget I did X for you, so you have to do Y for me.”  I learned early on that I did not want to ask my MIL for help, because the attached strings were too much.  They were only around for the appreciation and adulation.

So, back to my original thought: Do women seek out situations where they can be appreciated?  Is this really the portrait of a lady?

Remember:  it’s write my blog Thursday….

 

 

 

What Are You Listening To?

A few weeks ago my very wise blog friend Kim wrote a post about what music she listened to that week.  I remarked that I loved hearing what songs/music/performers motivate people, that it’s such a view into one’s soul. And we wondered if music was a better indicator of what’s truly inside a person, as opposed to books or movies or other leisure time pursuits.

So I began thinking.

Can you tell who a person is by looking at their playlist?

I thought about myself first.  Selfish, I know.  My music taste is literally all over the place- I listen to almost every type of music- my exceptions being misogynistic rap and heavy death metal (I don’t even call that stuff music, she says with a touch of disdain in her voice)

So…what does my varied taste in music signify about me?

  1. multiple personality?
  2. indecisiveness?
  3.  reinvention?
  4. open minded?
  5. just a lover of things with a beat?
  6. experimenter?
  7. curious?

Feel free to pick one or two and comment what you think.  This is the multiple choice portion of our morning.

Let’s drill down more into how I listen to music.  I don’t like quiet (for reference see yesterday’s blog about the environments we choose to live in) I seem to always have music or TV on in the background when I’m home, even if I’m not actively listening or watching.  Background noise comforts me: it puts my body in a certain rhythm.  When I walk around town, or use mass transit, you will see the little white buds in my ears.   I’m always listening to something musical. Music helps me think.  Music helps me relax.  Music quiets my brain, and allows me to come up with blog ideas. (I know- some of you are now thinking-stop the music- your blogs are driving us crazy) but, bottom line, I always have music on.  FYI- never podcasts or audio books.  The words distract from my thoughts and it feels like information overload.

Does this make any of the choices clearer? Feel free to short answer at this point…

What about my go to’s?  There are certain songs/performers that I never turn off if they come up on shuffle, or on the radio.

  1. U2 (any song)
  2. “Freebird” Lynyrd Skynyrd
  3. Goo Goo Dolls (any song)
  4. “Stairway to Heaven” Led Zeppelin
  5. “Make you feel my love” any version
  6. Journey (mainly Steve Perry stuff, but I’m flexible)
  7. “Patience” GNR

What do these songs/artists tell you about me? This is another short answer because I have absolutely no idea what this compilation actually means.  I can’t even begin to give you multiple choice.

So, for the essay (can you tell my daughter has been actively studying for the SAT and AP and regents exams?) please write about what my musical tastes (or lack there of) say about me.  Specific examples will be given more weight when it comes to grading.  Remember, this essay will be 35% of your grade.

 

 

 

The Shape Around You

I recently read that one’s surrounding environment shapes a person.  I see the logic in this: my daughter has had an urban upbringing.  She knows art and music and how to get around with mass transit, but is lacking in practical skills of outdoorsmanship, maintaining an actual house, and driving.  My Husband and I, well, there would be a steep learning curve if we ever moved to a house.  We don’t know lawn maintenance, or how often gutters needs to be cleaned, or hot to fix a hot water heater.  We live in a 19 floor high rise with a full time super and a handy man and a porter.  We throw garbage down a chute and have someone snake our drains.  If the hot water goes out I make a phone call, and usually, 20 minutes later hot water is magically restored.  We are completely shaped by the urban landscape in which we live.

Now, my husband and I chose to live this lifestyle.  As adults, we made an active decision to live in an urban environment.  Though I love nature and hiking, these things were not vital to my being.  I am perfectly happy hiking 5 or 6 times during the spring/summer/fall.  I don’t need to start up the grill at night to make dinner.  I don’t like to drive.  My perfect weekend would probably include a museum and some sort of show. I can do this most of the time.  So here’s the thought: am I shaped by my environment, or did I choose a setting that would best nurture my soul?

I grew up in a suburb of NYC where the main things were playing tennis and golf, drinking too much and shopping.  Sure, people had lovely houses and gardens, but they hired out the work.  True, some people really were avid gardeners, but it was mostly decorative.  Back in the day, few of my neighbors grew their own food. As a child I never felt comfortable in the suburbs.  I play tennis, and I played back in the day, but otherwise I did none of the things my neighbors did.  I was a reader, and I could normally be found in my room, nose in a book.  I shopped- but though many consider shopping a hobby, it really isn’t.  I never felt comfortable there.  I tried to adapt to a certain degree, but I felt out of sorts.  My environment didn’t really shape me: it just made me aware of what I wasn’t, which was mainly happy.

My daughter has spent her entire life in Manhattan, and yes, she is shaped by her environment.  She is a city girl through and through.  But, it’s a chicken/egg thing really: did she just adapt herself to her environment, or is she really an urban girl?

This question has come to light as we visit colleges.  We’ve visited suburban campuses, and campuses that are in quieter areas of major cities, and she has been known to utter the words “I don’t know if this is too rural.”  The first time we heard this was at a college that is technically part of a city, so close to the downtown area that the campus has it’s own subway stop… When we walk down a street with no one else on it she is bewildered: empty sidewalks just don’t exist in our part of the world.  And noise- actually lack of noise- she can’t sleep when it’s quiet.  Hearing birds chirp blows her mind.  She’d rather hear the bus driver announcing the next stop.  Though she is old enough to have a learner’s permit, she hasn’t even thought about taking the test.  To her, what’s the point?  We don’t own a car.

What does this mean?  When she looks at colleges, the first thing she notes is location.  If it’s anything other than urban, or town, she flips the page of the college guide book.  She does not think she could survive in an area where you can’t walk to Starbucks or stores.  She needs action.

Could she survive a different type of area?  She’s a Darwinist, so yes, she could adapt.  But will she really be happy?  Is she just meant to be a city girl?  Or is the urban lifestyle just totally ingrained in her?

I had a friend who lived in a rural area.  We used to joke about how J’s neighborhood had one traffic light and no building above 2 stories, while I could see 3 traffic lights from my third floor apartment.  J used to say that I would survive about 2 days in a rural setting, that the lack of people and buildings and noise would drive me crazy.  And perhaps J was right, perhaps the city is the force that gives me breath, that makes me thrive.  Maybe, without the bright lights I would wither and die.

So, what do you think?  Do you adapt to your surroundings, or do find an environment that suits your personality?