Friday, February 28, 2014

Brain Kicking

UntitledJust a few things kicking around my brain that I want to be kicking around your brain, too.

This afternoon I've been working on LTYM stuff, training the dog, and doing laundry. Who wants to guess what's in my pockets?

Dooce shared this link today so you've probably already seen it but, hey, I certainly can't pass up hockey players with their pets.

And Chookooloonks shared this one so, again, you've probably seen it but it's an illustrator's view mash up of Star Wars and John Hughes films. It's just cool. 

You know, I'm not usually into this bald faced kind of humor but I thought this was clever.

So, check this chart and then answer this, "Does Google need to work on its world view?"

I have a friend who recently got a job at this organization. I thought it was the perfect match and now that I've seen this live tweet run down of a group meeting I know it is. She loves a lively and fair discussion.

You see a lot of "cute" pets and kids photos on the internet. Please read this post and keep it in mind before you hit the "like" button.

Michael B. Jordan is cooooool.

This Then & Now shot of Canadian Women's hockey.

Untitled I have word out to several Girl Scout troops so I'm covered but if you still don't know where your Thin Mints are coming from the Cookie Locator can help.

Liz Climo's cartoons (comics? illustrations?) just make me laugh.

Please do not form your opinions about the correlation between abortion and death from fictional statistics.

I hope you remember the guy in FL, Michael Dunn, who shot and killed a kid for playing loud music. You may have heard that the jury in his trial was hopelessly deadlocked. Please take a look at this information from a juror about why. It's all about options and about exercising them. Holy fuck, y'all, this is why I want to regulate who, when, how, and why folks have guns.

I know it's the last day of Black History Month but, you know what? We should be learning history of all colors year round. May I suggest you delve into Mocha Momma's wonderful series of posts about important black figures and events. I learned so much and I wish she'd keep teaching me.

Even for the lesser students of science like me xkcd is awesome. This one? Ultra cool!

I don't know if all these Dr. Seuss facts are interesting but a lot of them are!

Here's what you have to really, REALLY avoid doing when talking about people living with financial challenges.

Our Sueb0b knows how to tell a good story but this one, truly, takes the cake! I want to leave you laughing.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Photo Challenge: BE/BEE/BEA/B

This one somehow showed us a light at the end of the tunnel regarding winter. No word yet on whether it's a train. Enjoy! (And say so in the comments, please.)

first ever audition
This is a photo of the piece that Our Bethany read in her Listen To Your Mother audition this weekend. It was such a privilege to see and hear her up there being herself and telling her story. 

B is for
I really wish I could be in this picture from Our Lisa. I'm freezing and I want dessert!

A bee in the snow
I remain floored by the fact that Our Janet can always put her hands on a photo that perfectly speaks to any prompt.

I shouldn't complain about the weather. Our Ana is much farther north than I and clearly she's dreaming of sunnier times.

Sometimes I wish this dude could just be. You know? I forget that often he is calm, cool, and collected and I shouldn't be too greedy. His spirit must run free.

I made a middling to major mistake in medicating my elderly, ailing cat. It was brought to my attention almost purely by accident with a phone call from the woman who orders supplies at the vet. Bless her. I admitted my mistake and we're on a better path to wellness now. However, the new prompt must be OOPS.

Please enter by 9am Tuesday March 11th for posting on March 12th. Tag your photos with PHOTO CHALLENGE and OOPS. Check out the wonderful work in our Flickr Pool for inspiration. Also, let me know if you have any questions. The  appropriate email for that is Kizzbeth117 at gmail dot com.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Your Perfect Day

UntitledI used to work with a wonderful life coach, Penelope Brackett. Every so often PB would ask us to write and share our "perfect day." The one I remember most clearly involved a nice guy, an off-Broadway theatre, and good food. There's imagery from that exercise that pops immediately to mind whenever I'm asked to set goals and make life lists and generally check in on my life's missions.

Even while I was writing out that one perfect day, though, I was aware that there are a lot of different perfect days for any person. I mean, I would not look unkindly on a day spent in bed napping and reading and...maybe some other bed-related activities. Those are just two choices. I know there are an infinite number of others.

Today stood out as another version of my perfect day.

I got up this morning and went to the park. The dog got some time off leash. I talked with some friends. We swung by a friend's house on the way home and dropped her dog off so....good deed for the day! (Way too easy.) At home I had time for a leisurely shower and breakfast with social media while I got ready to head to work. When I took the dog for a quick spin before I left I had more patience for training. It's been so cold and the paths so crowded with snow that the combination of his lack of exercise and the lack of space has made for a drastic turn in our good manners. Today the ways were clearer and so were our heads and we made good progress, really communicating.

Then I went off to work! Work today was the first day of auditions for Listen To Your Mother's NYC show. We had a small crisis as I was on my way out of the subway but we solved it easily and got set up in plenty of time. The next five hours were like a custom-built performance piece just for the four of us. We had a couple of intermissions where we could talk amongst ourselves, get to know each other a bit, and we had long stretches of people generously sharing snapshots of their lives for us in brilliant and heartfelt ways.

The commute home was blessedly swift. I had time in each direction to read up on some dog training. The book I'm reading now in preparation for class next month is almost entirely things I thought I knew plenty about but I'm learning and re-learning with every paragraph. It's inspiring me to chomp at the bit to get started!

The pets greeted me at the door with excitement but gave me space to change my coat. I took the dog out for a nice walk where we ran into a friend and I decompressed a bit after hearing so many stories. Then in I went and fed the menagerie. I was so jazzed I was even moved to cook a little something for dinner and, while that was working, do the dishes and clean up the kitchen. (It really is amazing what loving your work will do.)

I've been relaxing on the couch with some TV, catching up on emails and social media, and having remarkable success with some more dog training (we still have plenty of work to do on cat chasing and barking at the door but it's going well tonight). I'll be ready for bed and then some when the time comes in half an hour but in the best way. It's a good thing, too, because I have to get up bright and early in the morning so I can do it all over again!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

This Is The Way It Ends

UntitledIt was warm enough to take the little dog to the park this morning so we went. Apparently I thought cold was the only factor worthy of consideration. After skating over black ice, waiting in doorways for other dogs to pass, and navigating around deep slush puddles we arrived at the park. Of course the nightmare didn't become obvious until we were a solid ten yards into the joint so going back was going to be at least as hard as going forward. The snow was deep and wet but crusty. Your feet sink into it and you have to work on lifting them out again to move forward. There's ice underneath, most of the places that look clear are actually skating rinks, and some of those are actually deep puddles waiting to soak your ankles.

I had already decided that the smartest thing to do was to go forward to the next exit and then go home. Ed seemed to be going slow, too, picking his path carefully so I forged ahead to throw away a bag. In the two seconds that I turned to aim my throw at the can one of his arch nemeses appeared next to him (please spay and neuter your dogs, I'm begging you). Suddenly he was much better able to follow and off he went. There was no way I could follow at speed. I called and cajoled and I tried to get closer. My feet sank deeper and deeper with every step and I was basically helpless.

It was at this point that I started to think about zombies.

All the zombie stories happen in warm climes. The weather gets uncomfortable for the humans but not the zombies. Sure, World War Z advises us to head north because zombie blood doesn't circulate (no pumping heart, no circulation) so it freezes and halts the monsters. They don't, however, mention days like today. It's 36F so it's above freezing but there's plenty of snow on the ground. If the snow is melting into moat-like puddles I'm pretty sure those zombies would be on the move.

Picture it, they're slipping and sliding on the black ice of the sidewalks. I'm being careful not to fall so their single-mindedness means they're gaining on me whether walking, sliding, or crawling. I decide to duck into the park to lose them in obstacles, maybe even sliding down the back side of the hill if I can just get up the front side first. The path is as slick as the sidewalks I just abandoned so I hit the field. Suddenly my feet break through the crust and I'm up to my knees in heavy snow. I can make steady progress, even though it feels like my heart might explode, so I keep coming. Then I hit ice underneath, skid, and recover. Yanking my foot out of the hole my boot comes loose. No time to retie it but it's slowing me down. I make it three more strides before a zombie surprises me from the side and I can't turn away. She must have been frozen in the snow but thawed enough to be ready to feed. I try to twist my body from the impact but she slams into me and down I go, body moving but feet stuck. I feel a tremendous SNAP as my shin breaks and shortly after that everything goes blessedly black.

Maybe that's why they always set zombie stories in pleasant weather because if they set them up here there wouldn't be any suspense. We're all just going to die.

*This post is dedicated to Our Lisa who promises to stay in great shape to defend me against zombies when the apocalypse comes.

Friday, February 14, 2014



Somebody has a birthday today and, since he doesn't have a Facebook account, he has to announce it in other ways.


 Edison, Ed, Eddie, Fast Eddie, Little Dog, Buddy, Big Guy, Trouble is 5 today. Well, 5...ish. It's a close enough estimate. I put it on the high end (professionals estimated his age between 12 & 18 months so I went with 18 because down the road it'll be better to think he lived a longer life) so February was about right. Emily's estimated birthday was Valentines Day so it worked out nicely to have them share.


 Five seems adult. It seems like behavior should begin to even out and become more manageable. Energy levels should begin to decrease.


Don't let anyone ever sell you that bill of goods.


Even when I'm frustrated I like him just the way he his. Happy Birthday, Big Guy, here's to many more.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

It's Not You, It's Them

Oh it's not so bad out today. Truly, it isn't. I took a snow day anyway. I did it for several reasons and was vindicated during the evening rush hour when the MTA announced several exciting weather-related changes to service which would likely have chapped my already raw ass.

This morning on a very short dog walk I realized, though, why I usually err on the side of caution when traveling in iffy weather. I don't trust people. I mean, yes, I know that you are a good driver in snow and on ice. I trust you and I trust myself. If it was just the two of us out there I wouldn't be at all worried. I'd be careful and smart but it'd be cake. It's everybody else I don't trust.

The plows had been by very early in the morning but the snow was coming down fast and heavy so things were a mess again. In the space of a block I watched a gaggle of elementary students gleefully run for the (very late) school bus and a lone older woman shuffle across the snow covered ice under her umbrella while hailing a cab and hollering her relief. My overwhelming reaction to both sights was, "Oh fuck no." If those kids were mine, if that woman was my mother, I would not entrust their welfare to the skills of a bus or cab driver I didn't know personally. OK, I mean, if school was on and that's how we did things I probably would but, man, I would not feel good about it.

I have been very lucky. I've skidded here and there. I've witnessed some awful accidents. I've only had to really use my ice driving skills once. I drove a short length of a long drive across a highway in MI that was covered in about a quarter inch of ice. I inched along in the tangle of traffic keeping my head even when a pick-up ahead and to my left did a full donut. Somebody in the line of cars in front of me pressed the brakes too hard, though, and I had to react and suddenly I was headed toward the ditch. If you steer into the skid and you pump the brakes regularly you can save yourself. My front tires touched the grass of the median but only my front ones. I righted myself and went on, hating every hard won foot of the drive.

If it hadn't been for all those other drivers I wouldn't have hated it nearly so much.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Photo Challenge: NOW

This was harder than I expected it to be. "Now? What do you mean now? You mean NOW? What about now? And now? Gah! Stop!!" We powered through and did some interesting things, though. Please let the photogs know what you like and check out all the submissions that didn't make it.

Our Lisa and I were talking about timers on phone cameras. We found one, she tested it, and 5 minutes later claimed she didn't have anything to enter in this challenge...then she realized. Cozy, huh?

I had a really hard time choosing between the 2 shots that Our Bethany offered. I felt the other one fit with Our Lisa's shot better but I couldn't deny the intensity of these eyes.

I almost hesitated to share a shot of more freaking snow but I took this during last week's storm and I was being mindful of enjoying how pretty it all was and not thinking about what it would look like the next day so it fit well for NOW.

As for next time I'm feeling busy, I'm actually anticipating being very busy while currently being sorta busy. It's freaking me out. So I'm thinking about busy bees. Let the prompt be, well, BE/BEE/BEA/B. Whatever you want it

Please enter by 9am Tuesday February 25th for posting on February 26th. Tag your photos with PHOTO CHALLENGE and BE. Check out the wonderful work in our Flickr Pool for inspiration. Also, let me know if you have any questions. The  appropriate email for that is Kizzbeth117 at gmail dot com.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Your Message Has Been Heard

Pretty Sure An Adult Did ThisA lot of the time it's good to speak out. You need to let people know that you support them or disagree with them or want them to jump out of the way of the falling piano.

Sometimes, though, silence is golden.

A million years and several iterations of me ago I taught dance. Mostly I did it in NYC and my students were between the ages of 1 and 11. For a while, though, I also got to go a little north of the city to teach high school aged dancers and choreographers. It was a crappy commute but a golden learning experience.

The star dancer and choreographer was directly out of Central Casting. She was thin and blond and flexible and self-assured. She was smart and driven and calm and kind. At the time she was also only about 5 years younger than I was (she probably still is!). The day before the show I was asked if I had any notes for her on her piece and I kept it short but clear. I thought watered down her message by repeating a section of her dance and it risked boring the audience because they'd already seen the ending once and she just did it again. She nodded and took in the information but didn't say much.

The next night I sat in the balcony of the auditorium with my mentor and we watched the show. Central Casting Girl had entirely re-worked her dance so the ending only happened once and at the end. The shock and awe of having someone, especially someone who seemed so perfect and golden and blessed, listen to my assessment and take action on it made me giddy. I knew better than to gush too pridefully in front of my mentor but I couldn't keep my mouth completely closed. I asked her, in whispered tones, what I should say to the choreographer because clearly I had to say something because she'd changed her whole piece based on my words, the ones I thought up and spoke because I was a teacher now, an honest-to-goodness teacher! I remember so clearly walking a step behind my mentor as we passed through a dingy wire-windowed school door in the auditorium to go backstage and see the performers as she quietly told me, "Maybe you don't have to say anything. Maybe you've said it already and been heard."

Maybe...just maybe I have.

Friday, February 07, 2014

This Can't Be Fixed With Yoga

Day 211: List TickingI am not the most organized person I know. I am not the least organized person I know. I get shit done. Most of the time. I do not always look good doing it.

When I was learning to be a stage manager I wrote everything down on a legal pad that I carried around with me. Someone would ask me a question and I'd page back through the pad until I found what I needed to answer. The student director I worked for had been a professional stage manager, touring Europe with a big show developed by a difficult director. She was helping me at least as much as I was helping her, probably more. At one point during the evaluation process she was asked to speak about how I worked and she said, "Well, the whole thing with the pads and stuff looks kind of scary to me always find the answer so I'd say it's fine."

Basically that's how my whole life runs. I know where the information is and I can access it a passable number of times. People continue to hire me to be the person who holds, manages, and disseminates information so....I'd say it's fine.

This is not to say that I don't have rules. I don't advertise all of them so it sometimes comes as a surprise to someone who sees me as more organized/strict/smart than I am when they come across a rule I've been quietly employing. Let me tell you about one of those rules, ok a combination of rules, that's figured prominently into my day. This is how I prefer things to go:

1. Having a plan which is then followed as it was set out to be. This plan can have if-then statements (for instance; call to see if the store is open, if the store is open go after work, if the store is not open go home and walk the dog) but not so many that a direct line of movement can't be drawn for the day/project/excursion.

2. Having no plan at all. Like, on Thursday we get on the bus at 7am and go to Washington, DC. We get back on the bus to go home at 5:30. No other specifications necessary. I can get behind the no plan, rolling enjoyment of a day or place or group of friends.

3. Having a plan, even a casually constructed one, and then not following it at all.

Shuttered EyeI have a laughably low tolerance for #3. It just pushes all kinds of emotional buttons connected to fear of change and instability. One summer Gar was visiting and he and Pony Express and I decided to get together one day and go for ice cream. The two of them are notoriously delighted by the plan-free life. They have never met a plan they weren't happy to toss by the wayside in favor of something shinier that crossed their paths. I knew going in that this was the case and I "planned" to roll with it because I love them and we don't all get to hang out very often. Twelve hours after we departed for ice cream we had walked several miles, met former college classmates, been to a party, been to a diner, and ridden the subway.  We were walking down my block. I was exhausted. Gar piped up, "Oh! We didn't get any ice cream. Let's go find some!" I grumbled something about not caring. He persisted, "But that was the plan!" and I growled back at him, "I don't think you know what that word means."

Pony Express loves to recount that tale. She never fails to giggle when she gets to my response. And yet as part of our friendship she's extremely sensitive to my hatred of the ever-changing plan. In turn I try hard not to press any plans on her, to construct my if-then statements to accommodate her style. Somehow, surprisingly, it works like my legal pad stage management.

Today I have a relatively packed day. There isn't a ton of wiggle room in the plan and I used it up by giving myself the gift of finishing my book over breakfast instead of doing the laundry right away. I put my laundry in this afternoon and when I came back to switch it to the dryer the room was locked and there was a sign saying that the water was turned off from 1:35 - 3:30pm. My laundry was being held hostage inside, probably halfway through a cycle. I don't know if it will finish the cycle when the water starts again or if I'll have to spend the money to run it through again. I did my best to roll with it. I mean, going to security and screaming bloody murder crossed my mind but so did the thought that I don't want to be that particular flavor of asshole. So I took advantage of the time and moved "Walk dog to pick up shoes" up on the list. Except that three frigid, dog reactive blocks later the gate was down on the shoe repair place and nobody was there. Thwarted! So I stomped back home and wrote this piece because when the next thing goes askew today I'm probably going to melt down like a 3-year-old on the way home from the carnival and one of you should be able to explain that to the authorities.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Some Monsters Wear No Labels

tiny bottles of champagne...thanks Kizz!In the past few years I have been learning about addiction. Not my own, and more mental illnesses that manifest very much like addiction, but still, lessons I didn't know I would learn. There's always a lot of chatter on the internet about addiction, in all kinds of media really, and the volume has been turned up to eleven the past couple of days.

It struck me this morning that I wish for all of you never to find yourself addicted. I wish you a life of strong mental health. However, all I really hear in this high decibel chatter is fear, the kind of fear that throws a stiff arm at the monster, sure that all those burpees in cross fit class will ensure your ability to keep addiction and mental illness away from yourself and everyone you love. Maybe you're right. I hope you are. What I've noticed, though, is that our downfall is almost never clearly labeled.

If, despite your best efforts, a monster gets you (and me, I'm not nearly as confident as you, I'm pretty sure a monster will get me) I hope that you are greeted with compassion while you're fighting. Not everyone is but I hope that you are.

Let this (for reasons in addition to the ones that are trending on social media) be my semi-annual plea that, even if you hate having your picture taken, you allow someone to take a likeness of  you without your sunglasses on or your hand hiding your face or a making a goofy face. Allow the rest of us our sense of place and time by engaging in the public record. Once every six months is the lowest I'll go in this negotiation. Deal?

Photo credit: RadioKath