Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Happy Hour

From Mental Floss: "Every Friday, I post a series of unrelated questions meant to spark conversation in the comments. Answer one, answer all, respond to someone else’s reply, whatever you want. On to this week’s topics of discussion…"

1. We’ve run a series of posts about great [Halloween] costumes, but what about the worst?
~ I don't know if this is really the worst, but several years ago a local radio personality (who happens to be a very tall, thin, African-American man) was out at a bar dressed in a bunny suit. And when I say "bunny suit," I mean a one-piece, step into it, zip it up the front, and pull the hood with the gigantic ears over your head, BUNNY SUIT. It was ridiculous. And disturbing.

2. You’ve been put in charge of your city or state’s committee to name an official state book. The book should have some connection to the region—perhaps the story is set there, or the author was born there. Which book would you nominate?
~ I doubt anyone would want this to be Texas' state book, and I do want Dallas to be known for more than what happened here in 1963, but if we were making a top-5 list of must-reads about Texas, then "Four Days in November: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy" by Vincent Bugliosi would have to be included.

3. Finish this sentence: I’m surprisingly proficient at ____________.
~ Talking people to death. And the more I like a person, the more I jabber away. I know I'm doing it, I know it's horribly annoying, and I simply cannot make myself shut up. Sigh. I guess there are worse faults to have.

4. If you could (or were forced to) go back to high school and re-take one class, which class would you choose? You’d be taught by the same teacher and the curriculum would be identical.
~ Latin. I loved it then (took the class all four years of high school), and I love it now. If I ever return to college, I'll major in classical languages and become a high school Latin teacher.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Happy Hour

From Mental Floss: "Every Friday, I post a series of unrelated questions meant to spark conversation in the comments. Answer one, answer all, respond to someone else’s reply, whatever you want. On to this week’s topics of discussion…"

1. What are some of the weird things — intentionally or not — you’ve conditioned your pet to do?
~ Our animals do weird things, but I don't so much think it's because we've conditioned them to do so. Our female cat likes to sit on the side of the bathtub and drink the water while the husband is bathing. It's really disgusting, because she'll drink it even when the water is dirty/soapy. Strange, too, because she's very prissy and hates to get dirty or wet.

2. If the you of today could sit down with the 10/22/2000-version of yourself, what’s the one thing you didn’t do that you’d tell your younger self he/she must?
~ Wow. On 10/22/00, I was 24 and newly single, after being in a 5.5 year live-in relationship. I was dating someone, but he was much more serious about me than I was about him, and it didn't last long. That's actually a period of my life about which I have very few regrets. When I became single, I told myself that because I'd missed out on so much, I wasn't going to say no to things. If someone invited me to do something, I went. I told myself that if I was miserable, I could leave after an hour, but that never really happened. So I did a lot of fun things during that period that I would've otherwise missed out on.

3. What’s your favorite episode of your favorite TV show?
~ On April 8, 1957 the "Building a BBQ" episode of "I Love Lucy" aired for the first time. "I Love Lucy" isn't necessarily my favorite show, but this episode is in my top-5 favorite-tv-episodes of all time. Here's the basic plot: Ricky is always getting onto Lucy because she places her wedding band in the kitchen window while she's doing dishes, and he's afraid she'll lose it. So one day, Ricky sees Lucy's ring in the windowsill, and he puts it in his pocket, thinking he'll give her a scare that will teach her a lesson. That day, the Ricardos and Mertzes build a BBQ grill. After it's done, Lucy realizes her ring is gone. She thinks she lost it in the cement while it was being mixed. So that night, after Ricky and Fred are in bed, Lucy and Ethel dismantle the entire grill. Of course, they don't find her ring. They try to put the BBQ back together, but it's all lopsided. Ricky and Fred wake up and go to inspect their handiwork, and find a disaster and Lucy crying because her ring is gone.

4. What’s your all-time favorite live album?
~ I love live music, and in many cases, I prefer live albums to studio albums. My favorite live album is Dave Matthews Band, "The Central Park Concert." Here's why: It's the only recorded concert (to-date) that contains a DMB performance of "Cortez, the Killer," which is my all-time favorite Neil Young song. When I looked at the cd and saw it contains that song, I was literally jumping up and down in the store.

Friday, October 15, 2010

I Knew It!!!

For someone who doesn't want kids, this is a truly great photo:

epic fail photos - Section Label Fail
see more funny videos

Friday Happy Hour

From Mental Floss: "Every Friday, I post a series of unrelated questions meant to spark conversation in the comments. Answer one, answer all, respond to someone else’s reply, whatever you want. On to this week’s topics of discussion…"

1. In an effort to churn out better-prepared graduates, you’ve been hired to develop one course that all high school seniors must take. What would your class be?
~ I think there should be a year-long, basic how-to-survive-on-your-own class, broken up into different units: A financial unit - learn how to balance a checkbook, buy a car and house, understand insurance policies, write a budget, and manage credit cards. A maintenance unit - learn how to take care of a car (change a tire, change the oil, check all the fluids, etc.) and learn how to do basic home maintenance. A home economics unit - learn basic cooking and cleaning, how to do laundry, how to plan a grocery list, and tips on living with roommates. An employment unit - how to write a resume and ace an interview.

2. When did you first go online?
~ I set up my first email account in 1999. Before that I was never really online. I remember, at the time, feeling like I was behind because several of my friends had been using email for work for a while.

3. What’s the strangest compliment you’ve received?
~ Worst pick-up line ever: I was at a club when I was 18. A guy approached me and said, "You have childbearing hips." I looked him straight in the eye and said, "Not yours."

4. If you were putting on a conference for people in your profession, who would be your first choice for keynote speaker? And a follow-up: who’s the best speaker you’ve seen at a conference?
~ My career has been spent in customer service, of one type or another. My choice for keynote speaker would be Ken Blanchard, author of Gung Ho: Turn on the People in Any Organization and Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service. Both of these books are remarkable and are must-reads for anyone working in customer service. As far as the best speaker I've ever heard, I haven't really attended professional conferences, so I don't have an answer.

Friday, October 8, 2010

#2 - Suppose you could visit any place on earth before human history - what would you like to see, and why?

There are many, many places in human history I'd like to visit (Pompeii in 78 A.D., Tudor England, and 1967 San Francisco all come to mind), but this says "before human history." I didn't think I was going to be able to answer this, because before human history, there wasn't anything on earth to interest me. I'm an indoor kind of girl.

Then I gave the question a little more thought.

I want to be there at the beginning - for the spark, or the big bang, or the creation. Whatever it was, I want to see it.

I have a tenuous sort of spirituality. I believe in something greater than myself. Do I think that something is the Judeo-Christian idea of God? Eh, not so much. In some ways, what I believe is pretty simple: when I die, I will be called to answer for my choices - so I should make good choices. I should not hurt people. I should live by the Golden Rule. I should do my best.

But in any discussion of religion or spirituality that gets to this point, the next question is: what comes after? Heaven/Hell? Purgatory? Nothing?

Here's what I hope: when I'm gone, I want to see all the people I loved who went before me. I want to check on the people I've left behind and give them some kind of sign that I'm ok. And then I want to go for a walk in an orchard or vineyard with the "something greater than myself."

I don't generally like being outside, but I imagine in this place the temperature will be perfect and there will be no bugs or reptiles to worry about. I picture my companion as the traditional Jesus, but it's just an image - like when you imagine someone you've only spoken with on the phone or heard on the radio.

I want to walk with him and ask him all the questions I've had. Who really killed JFK? How would my life have played out if I had gone to Woodstock with John - would we still end up happily married? What actually goes on in a dog's mind when you talk to him?

I don't want to have the information all at once. I want to walk and talk, with no deadlines or reason to rush. I want to understand it all.

Friday Happy Hour - thank you, Mental Floss!

Yes, readers, we'll be doing this weekly (or at least attempting to). From Mental Floss: "Every Friday, I post a series of unrelated questions meant to spark conversation in the comments. Answer one, answer all, respond to someone else’s reply, whatever you want. On to this week’s topics of discussion…"

1. If money were no object, where would you work?
~Some type of animal rescue. An under-funded, under-staffed public library. Scottish Rite Hospital for Crippled Children.

2. Tell us about a time you were in on the ground floor for something that became crazy popular—an artist, a technology, a designer, a business or stock, etc. Once the masses came around, did that dampen your enthusiasm?
~I read Wicked before it got huge and became a musical (WTF?!?). It's been my number one since then.

3. If someone were coming to your current town for one day and wanted to get the full local experience, what would you tell them to do? (I realize not everyone loves where they live, so the full local experience doesn’t have to be positive.)
~There's so much I love about Dallas, which I only realized when I moved away. Wonderful people (when you get past the snotty ones), great restaurants/bars, and so much to do and see. Right now, though, I'd tell them to go to the State Fair.

4. Every few months I ask the same question and you always have great suggestions. What are you currently reading?
~I'm currently reading The Postmistress by Sarah Blake. I'm way behind on my reading, and I have five library books waiting. Next up will likely be The Rembrandt Affair by Daniel Silva.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

#4 - If you could live one short episode of your life over again – a day, week, month, season – what would it be? And why?

I left home in September 1993, the beginning of my senior year of high school. In order to finish school in the same district where I had attended my whole life, I had to live on my own. My dad helped me get a tiny apartment, and he agreed to give me the money he would have been paying my mom in child support. It covered half my rent. Dad had always paid my car insurance, and he would continue to do that. Everything else was up to me.

I'd had a couple of jobs since I was old enough to work, but I was not employed then. I got a job as a hostess at Judge Bean's restaurant. It was a small chain restaurant, serving burgers and chicken-fried steaks, modeled around a sort of Old West theme. The restaurant had been there a long time; I'd eaten there several times as a kid. And it looked it - everything was dusty, including the stuffed black bear and moose head that greeted guests. Looking back, I can't believe people chose to eat there, but maybe you don't notice that kind of stuff if you're not there every day.

From the beginning, I loved my job. My co-workers were a great group, and we had lots of fun together. I even got my friend John a job there, his first as a bartender. In April, I turned 18 and could legally wait tables. After that, I was always at work, whether I was working or not. It was where I wanted to be; all my friends were there. I remember sitting on the cooler in the service bar while John was working. I remember working 20 straight days, 13 of those double shifts. If I was going to be at work, I might as well be making money, right?

Big plans were in the making: Woodstock '94 would be held in New York in August, and a group of us were going. I don't even know how many people were "in" at the beginning - maybe 10 or so. As August drew closer, people begged off, and finally it was just going to be John and me.

This was not a happy thought for some people. When I met John, he had an on-again, off-again girlfriend. And at that age, I wasn't too concerned whether they were hot or cold at any given moment. I didn't want a boyfriend anyway. So John and I had stolen moments in the walk-in cooler at Judge Bean's, and one very special evening in a neighborhood park. Needless to say, the girlfriend didn't like me at all. I think that made me want to go with John to Woodstock even more, just because I knew it would drive her crazy.

In the end, I didn't go. John went to Woodstock alone.

Summer turned to fall, and things were changing at Judge Bean's. There is always turnover in restaurants, and ours was notorious. People left for other restaurants, or they went to work for other Judge Bean's locations which were not in imminent danger of having the doors chained by creditors. In December 1994, I went away to college. I lost touch with everyone from Judge Bean's, including John.

It was a magical, turbulent time in my life. Newfound freedom from my parents, becoming a legal adult, finishing high was all bittersweet. I had lots of fun, but there was also so much heartache. Judge Bean's was, in a way, my rock. It was the right group of people, all of us at the right point in our lives, to have one of those "moment in time" experiences. You can't plan it, and you can't recreate it once it's gone.

If I could go back, knowing what I know now, I'd love to live that time over again. And I would definitely, absolutely go to Woodstock with John. He's my husband now; I wish I'd had that experience with him.

#12 - Do you know a poem well enough to recite it to me? Will you?

Ok, so as I've said before, Robert Fulghum is the most awesome guy ever, as evidenced by my sucking up, here. A list of questions appears in his most recent book of essays, "What On Earth Have I Done?" Here, in his words, is a brief explanation for the list:

"Several years ago I made a list of questions to carry in my wallet.
I thought of the list as a conversation lifeboat.

There are those who seem to shine in the social arena of small-talk.
I am not one of them. I do not know why. But it is the case.

The list was meant to keep me afloat in the company of strangers while traveling, or at cocktail parties, receptions, potlucks, banquets, and any occasion featuring white wine and finger food in a milling crowd.

I share these lists with you with the hope that you may use them yourself.

If your experience matches mine, you will frequently be astonished by the richness that lies close at hand. You will likely find, as I have, that your opinion of what a stranger was like on first impression is not only shallow but wrong. Or that you still have much to learn from people you think you know well.

We are - all of us - treasure houses of ideas, dreams, hopes, fears, knowledge, imagination and experience. It doesn’t take much to get into these safe deposit boxes in the minds and hearts and souls of our companions.

Just ask. That you, in turn, may be asked."

It is my intention to address these questions, in no particular order.

12. Do you know a poem well enough to recite it to me? Will you?

The Road Not Taken
Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it ended in undergrowth

Then took the other, as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear
Though, as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black
Oh I kept the first for another day
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood
And I, I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference

I committed that poem to memory when I was in the seventh grade. I typed it, just now, from memory. By the way, it's harder to type a poem than simply to say it in your head. This is the only poem I've memorized for any length of time, but it touched my heart the first time I read it. And it has been a sort of touchstone for me, all these years. In my darkest times, I have repeated it in my head; it's a calming device, I guess.

Reading it now - really reading it, not just looking at the words I already know - it touches me again. I've always taken the road that is "grassy and wanted wear." I've never done things the easy way, and much of my life has felt like a struggle to have just what comes easily to everyone else. And there have been times I've been resentful, and bitter, and angry. But now, thinking of where I am today, what I have in my life today, I'd do it all again.

Taking the road I did has made all the difference. Oh, and the English teacher who introduced me to Robert Frost (and influenced me beyond any other teacher)? I'm having dinner with her next week.