Sunday, July 5, 2015

25 Central postcard

This morning while looking for a picture of myself in my cowboy hat again, came across this. Made a postcard to send to Paul & Sheree. TK made the shirt. I was at the top of Il Duomo in Florence, Italy and a couple Smithies saw my shirt and squealed "Oh My God! We Love 25 Central!" - always workin'/never workin'.

Friday, April 24, 2015

15 (meant for storytelling event)

(Make that sha sha sha backward guitar intro, then point)

When I hear the beginning of Jimi Hendrix’s Are You Experienced, I am transported back to 15. That’s not a place I like to visit often, but since Jimi’s taking me there, I go.

When I was 15 I had a crush on a guitar-playin’ boy from Westfield. He loved Hendrix. I bought Are You Experienced to learn something about the boy. And partly so we’d have something to talk about and partly to be cool, but mostly to see if we liked the same things. The boy is inconsequential now, but, he’s still the boy who gave me Hendrix.

15 was the worst year of my life. I didn’t really think I was going to make it. I felt completely alone. Everything I wanted, I was told was wrong. And everything people wanted from me felt like a lie. I listened to Jimi. How did he do that? How did that young black man write a song for a future sad white girl? How do you be a virtuoso ground-breaking guitar-playing singing song-writing 20 something year old playing the National Anthem at Woodstock? And how can he also seduce 15 year old me from the grave? And why did he have to die young? And Lord, how do you be a person that people will discover and keep discovering as long as there are people, and maybe change people’s lives, maybe even save some, when you was just a guitar obsessed kid? A kid.

So when Jimi asked the question, then offered his hand to watch the sun rise from the bottom of the sea – I wanted to go. I knew I might drown. 15 sure felt like drowning. I was prepared to risk it for the chance I could be saved.

Maybe songs can save people. Maybe all the moments of beauty and connection save us all. You just gotta not drown.

Inconsequential boy also gave me little bit a Thin Lizzy. And honestly, “If that chick don’t wanna know, forget her”.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Gemutlichkeit (umlaut on u)

There was a split seam on my FIL's sweater. My sweet SIL knows I am a mender and suggested me for the repair. I stitched the hole closed and washed the sweater. I wrapped the sweater carefully with tissue paper in the folding and out. I made a card like I have a mending/laundering business (which perhaps I do, I'm never sure about that kind of stuff). Jim will ship it to Chicago tomorrow. I used the tissue paper that came with some super fancy shower products that my MIL bought me for Christmas years back (Baltimore days).It was serious lux goods.
I was raised on Gemutlichkeit. And: directness, hard work, refugee immigrant frugality.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Not challenging

Day 7: What are you taking with you from this Challenge?

I'm not really taking anything away from this challenge. I haven't even figured out yet how to get my post on the tumblr (but I suppose I don't really care). We'll see if this one prompts a verification email. I did figure out what WYSIWYG tho', so that's cool.

I've gone ahead and posted each question and answer on my own blog, so I did the work and it's there for anyone that cares to look. Because I don't know if my posts made it to the tumblr, I didn't do the #yourturnchallenge promoting, but I haven't read the book, so maybe that's for the best too. I read Seth Godin's blog regularly and it reinforces my own ideas and feelings right now, and I appreciate that very much. I wanted to do the challenge as an act of repayment for keeping me focused on what I believe, even when it's hard to believe. I don't really buy things anymore, and don't have an allowance right now and the book isn't at the library - so I will read it or not, when it's possible.

I guess I chose myself a long time ago. All those stupid and brilliant decisions, they're all mine. I've never felt that institutions or society knew more than I did about what was best for me. Looking back on my life, I feel like I made the right decisions for me. And if I was making decisions in my 20's that seem brilliant now, why shouldn't I think the decisions I am making at 50 will seem equally brilliant to me when I'm 80. Guess I will find out, or not. Today, I am proud of myself.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Nemesis 2

Day 6: Tell us about a time when you surprised yourself.

I surprise myself pretty regularly. Usually it's because I'm being an imbecile, or saying something stupid or getting too excited about something. I know I'm weird, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but I'm always a hopin' that I can be smoother.

But sometimes, when I most surprise myself, when I am shouting at myself in my head, "shut the f up, just stop, stop, f-ing stop talking, walk away" - there I am still being an idiot. I experience simultaneity at these times. A sense of watching myself and advising myself and yelling and stomping and my idiotic self is there just giving me the finger.

It was the last night of a conference in Puerto Rico 2010. My nemesis #2 (being polite and not using names) was being his usual self, trying to get some dumb razing thing going. Everyone was busting on everyone and I joined the fray. I wasn't really saying anything different than anyone else, but I seemed to be annoying nemesis 2 more than the others. He walked away. I said, "I don't think nemesis 2 likes me much" and he spun around and unleashed a furious and ridiculous attack.

I did not want to fight with him, especially in front of work people I admired and respected, but he was coming at me. I had to defend myself. I was flooded with adrenaline and just trying to hold my own and not freak out. It was actually kind of easy to shut his bullshit down because he's stupid, but it was SUPER stressful. It's not a wise professional move to argue with a director in front of vps. I worked very hard at my job and had the respect of many people I admired. I worried I was destroying 7 years worth of impressive work and those good connections.

It's a fascinating story, but too long for this. In the end I shut it down. I spent hours pacing in my hotel room, writing down every detail, obsessing over the best way to handle it. I asked a great person for advice. I hated the advice but took it anyway. Couple months later, that vp who witnessed the whole thing, quoted me at dinner. Most people at the table had no idea what he was talking about. He was surprised that I hadn't shared the story with my management team. I explained I shared it with my director (right thing to do) and with ma girls (because I love them and they have my back and I needed to vent) but that I didn't tell anyone else because it made nemesis 2 look bad. VP says, "you are the nicest girl". I just about cried. That fight was so intense and the whole time I was worried that I was destroying my career to find out I actually impressed a person I like, respect and always tried to impress. It's shit like that keeps me acting like an idiot.

Stay Free

Day 5: What advice would you give for getting unstuck?

I’ve gotten myself unstuck many a time. The situations were different and so were the plans, decisions and solutions. This is how I go about it.

Admit I am stuck. Then think about the most glorious way of unsticking. Sometimes just thinking about the actions that would make me proud, gets me moving in the right direction. I focus on my next step, the action I can take that will get me moving. That alone, the action, immediately makes me feel better. Sometimes I realize I can just walk away that minute. Sometimes I need to plan for it.

For me, feeling stuck is so awful that anything I have to do seems worth it. Along the way, the steps become clearer and I build momentum. Then there I am, on the other side of stuck, feeling all smart and accomplished.

Friday, January 23, 2015


Day 4: Teach us something that you do well.

In my new life I came up with the concept that I am “unoffendable”. It’s not really a super easy thing to teach in this manner and I suppose I spent a lifetime getting here. But I started saying it, and started practicing it and now I’m convinced I believe it.

When I questioned myself I couldn’t figure out one positive thing, anything of value, any way that feeling offended served me. Not a one. So I let it go. Poof. Same world, same people, people are stupid sometimes. But now, if someone is an idiot or behaves in a way that I could choose to be offended by – I just feel appreciative. I think, gosh, thank you SO much for being such an unequivocal idiot! Thank you SO much for announcing it so clearly. I don’t have to spend any more time on you! So efficient! (In my head of course) There are so many amazing people in my life that I don’t get to enjoy enough, and you’ve saved me from spending time on you. Perfect. Grazi!

Now of course, everyone has the chance to change my mind. But the onus is on them to make it happen. And it has happened! Kind of spectacularly at times. There is a guy I have interacted with only twice in my life. First time, he would have been categorized as “negative forgettable”, second time he jumped to “positive memorable”. He owned up. He thanked me. Damn straight of him.