Friday, October 31, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
In a world where cars are no longer “used” they are “pre-owned”, and people are no longer “fired” they are “downsized” and we no longer wipe our asses with toilet paper, we have to use “bathroom tissue”, we’ve finally moved on to what, in my opinion at least, is the final euphemistic insult.
That’s right; a person can’t “die” any more. Oh heavens no!
These days? You have to “pass”.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I realize when I am told that someone “passed” that the person giving me that information is on some level trying to lessen the harsh reality of the news. But to that I say that dead is dead. And when a person dies, they deserve the full, serious, somber, (and forgive me) grave word to describe their status. They’ve experienced the ultimate adventure; they’ve gone into the void. They are Dead. And to call it something else is to, on some level, lessen the significance of that experience, isn’t it?
Losing a loved one sucks and it’s hard to accept and deal with, but I would argue that “dead” is not a dirty word. And I, for one, am a little sick of everyone acting as if it is.
I would also argue that when a person is in the physical process of approaching the end of life, what are they doing? Are they pre-passing? No. They are dying. And when the end comes? They are dead, plain and simple. Why can’t we say it?
To say someone is dead is sad, for sure, but it leaves no doubt as to their ultimate status. I don’t know about you, but when I’m told someone has “passed”? A multitude of scenarios tend to run through my head. Granted, I’m not quite right; we’ve established that here. But to me, at least, “passed” does not denote the process of having moved on from mortal existence.
No, when I hear someone has “passed”, I can’t help but ask myself…what does that really mean? And then I’m forced to imagine that person having gone through the same process as an inconvenient kidney stone. Because a kidney stone is something that truly is passed .
Worse? Upon further consideration of a person’s “passing” I then have to think (completely against my will) that this poor sod may have actually been farted from this world. Because bio gas—unlike people-- is something that is, without a doubt, “passed”.
I say to you today that people do not pass. They die. And they are dead. And in my opinion? They deserve the correct descriptor be attached to that final experience.
Consider the opposite: birth. We don’t say the baby “emerged” do we? Why? Because we have a word and it’s an okay word because birth is a happy thing. When you hear a baby was born there is absolutely no doubt about what happened. You know for sure that a new person has entered this world. Conversely, when someone dies and you are told that they are, in fact, dead? You know for sure that person has left this world. There should be no shame in it.
And, fyi, in case you’re wondering? I do realize the peril that writing this piece has put me in. I know there is now a fairly good chance that someday, somewhere, in a funeral home far, far away (let’s hope) I may very likely be the guest of honor one day and on that day there may be a program and on that program, maybe on the back cover, this here bit may be reproduced.
But you know what? That’s okay. Because when I die? I want to be dead, plain and simple. I would like all the freedoms and privileges that death implies thankyouverymuch. Feel free to tell everybody.
That I am DEAD.Because I, for one, absolutely refuse to be farted into the Great Beyond.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
2. Where is your significant other? Cosmos
3. Your hair color? Brown
4. Your mother? Brenda
5. Your father? Carroll
6. Your favorite thing? Love
7. Your dream last night? Whisper
8. Your dream/goal? Peace
9. The room you're in? Office
10. Your hobby? Writing
11. Your fear? Helplessness
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Degreed
13. Where were you last night? Home
14. What you're not? Fake
15. One of your wish-list items? Fulfilled
16. Where you grew up? Normal (ha!)
17. The last thing you did? Chat
18. What are you wearing? Flannel
19. Your TV? Flat
20. Your pet? Isabelle/Tallulah
21. Your computer? Dell
22. Your mood? Optimistic
23. Missing someone? Shhhh
24. Your car? Subaru
25. Something you're not wearing? Commando
26. Favorite store? IKEA
27. Your summer? Exciting
28. Love someone? Naturally!
29. Your favorite color? Black
30. When is the last time you laughed? Often
31. Last time you cried? Seldom
Sunday, October 19, 2008
[Edited to Add: Thanks to Neurotic Grad Student, herself a Generous Visionary, for the link on this!]
Read way TMI about my Personality DNA (honestly, aren't you dying to?) below and map yours by taking the test here. (No, you don't have to sign up or wait for results.)
You are a Creator
Your imagination, confidence, willingness to explore, and appreciation of beauty make you a CREATOR.
You are independent, and you enjoy your self-sufficiency.
Defying convention, you are very innovative, and you have a vivid imagination.
The look of things is important to you, and you have a keen eye for aesthetic beauty in multiple arenas.
You have a strong interest in what is new and exciting—and that includes forging ahead with new ideas, not simply discovering what is already out there.
Your eagerness to seek new and varied experiences leads you into many different situations.
You're not set on one way of doing things, and you are creative when it comes to finding novel solutions to complex problems.
You trust yourself to be innovative and resourceful.
Your confidence allows you to take your general awareness and channel it into creativity.
Your independent streak allows you to make decisions efficiently and to trust your instincts
You have a strong sense of style and value your personal presentation - friends may even seek your style advice from time to time.
Generally, you believe that you control your life, and that external forces only play a limited role in determining what happens to you.
how you relate to others
You are Advocating
Being social, empathic, and understanding makes you ADVOCATING.
Some people find being around others exhausting—but not you! You are energized by spending time with friends, and you are good at meeting new people.
One of the reasons you enjoy conversation as much as you do is that you often learn about yourself while talking things out with a friend; you realize things about your own beliefs while discussing them with others.
You have insight into what others are thinking and feeling. This ability allows you to be happy for others, and to commiserate when something has gone wrong for them.
You are highly compassionate, and being conscious of how things affect those close to you leaves you cautious about trusting others too hastily.
Despite these reservations, you are open-minded when it comes to your worldview; you don't look to impose your ways on others.
Your sensitivity towards others' plights contributes to an understanding—both intellectual and emotional—of many different perspectives.
As someone who understands the complexities of the world around you, you are reluctant to pass judgments.
(But, enough about me. What do YOU think about me?)
The other day, I woke up in the morning and Dudley was snuggled up next to me, and I hadn't opened my eyes, but I kept smelling this...funny smell.
Yah, and I couldn't figure out what it was. And then? I opened my eyes and realized that Dudley wasn't snuggled up to me in the way I thought.
When I opened my eyes, I realized that what I thought was his head? Was actually his butt.
I bet my nose wasn't an inch away from his a$$.
Oh, gag. Musta smelled pretty bad.
You'd think so, wouldn't you? But, really, it didn't smell all that bad.
Okay, I'll probably regret this but, what did it smell like?
(Gets a faraway look.)
(Becoming a little worried.)
It smelled....well, it smelled like...
It smelled just like Ancient Buried City.
(Immediately convulsed into a prolonged fit of uncontrollable hysterical laughter.)
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
You gotta have priorities in these situations.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
She plunges under her desk and waits for lightening to strike after writing that sentence. The Billy Club of Destiny? It is out there, this minute, being smacked against a meaty palm in steady, deliberate, warm-up strokes. She just knows it. It can't find her under here...can it? Wait. What the... It smells like poop down here. DAMN that Tallulah. She climbs back into her chair. Resumes typing.
Through a set of circumstances that link my work taking photos at Barbecue on the River that included a shot of a certain prominent someone who then later found himself, quite unexpectedly, in need of this particular photo and found me coordinating an event that I felt would benefit from a logical sponsor for its central prize...well.
Let's just say the whole situation ended up with everyone feeling very, very fortunate indeed.
And if you're asking yourself whatever happened to the Suzanne who didn't mix work and blogging, you can join the club. I suppose when I made that rule I didn't envision doing work that was quite so rewarding. And, heck, I'll admit it, just plain old fun. Looking back, I realize the rule was made at a time and place when my work was quite the opposite.
Many of the readers I have now (probably around a third) were with me in those days, back when I just up and quit and embarked on the odyssey that has lead me here. The odyssey that is ongoing. The chapter of my professional life where, instead remaining in steerage, seasick and storm tossed (and nowhere NEAR Leonardo Di Caprio), I climbed up to the deck, wobbled across it, and grabbed hold of the helm for myself.
As it turned out? I would maneuver my little ship out of the storm and head straight toward Vacation Island. A peaceful little spot with a palm tree and a wireless internet connection where I spent six months blogging away and, for the first time in 25 years, for the most part, absolutely not working. It was difficult, but I somehow managed to survive it. (Ahem.)
It is here that I finally owned up to it: I am a writer. Writing is what fulfills me as a person, is probably the "highest and best" use of my talents, and if I'm to be happy, is a thing I need to be working at it in some form or fashion. You would think this a simple truth, maybe even an obvious one, and something that would have been sooner and more easily grasped. Especially since someone has been telling me as much, basically, all my life. And then someone I married told me as much over and over.
But it wasn't easy, oh, it so wasn't.
The good news? Is that while I spent the first part of my life in the dark about who I am, some would say ridiculously and needlessly so, the good news is that with that simple realization, or more like "shift" in my consciousness, everything began to change.
I don't mean I got published and became wealthy and lived happily ever after. It's something like this: confident, finally, in the work I was ultimately meant to do, what I do for a living started to come more easily to me.
Maybe because the pressure to define me is no longer on it. At my core, I know, I am a writer. And I now see everyting I do through this filter. I believe the work I do to support myself now comes to me more easily as a direct result of me coming to terms with this basic truth about myself. It has given me power. It has made me more effective. It has freed up a great deal of my energy for other things. Sometimes? I even get paid to write.
Recently, I went to the funeral of a ninety-nine-year-old man. His name was Falgar. He was a farmer and lived on the same plot of land that had been in his family since the mid 1800's. He lived in a simple small house and worked his fields, he raised chickens, he worked his garden, he went to church. At some point, it was realized that his land likely held oil. And a great deal of it at that. And so, an oil well was erected and the drilling began. And in not too long, the oil came in.
It came in very, very big.
It came in so big that it was almost unbelievable. Falgar was netting crazy amounts of thousands of dollars per day. And this went on for years. Falgar became a millionaire. And still, Falgar worked his fields, he raised chickens, he rode his tractor and planted his garden. He went to church, he lived in his small, simple house, he shared the fruits of his garden with his neighbors.
Because Falgar had been a millionaire all along.
Falgar had lived the life he was meant to live from the very beginning. He knew, without a doubt, who he was and where he wanted to be. His son loved him, his grandchildren loved him. He radiated goodness. He was a wonderful neighbor. I knew him because he was my Grandma's significant other for eleven years.
And I sincerely hope I am headed in that direction.
Because that, friends, is success.
Friday, October 10, 2008
The buzz on this one is huge.
Once again, Leonardo Di Caprio and Kate Winslet team up in what looks to be a way meatier film than Titanic ever thought about being. And, PS, Titanic would be the movie that, when it won the Best Picture Oscar, nearly caused me to spontaneously combust. Seriously overrated, in my opinion.
Anyway, "Revolutionary Road" is directed by Winslet's husband, Sam Mendes (Jar Head, Road to Perdition, American Beauty, The Kite Runner, Little Voice). In it, a married couple struggles against the narrow confines of 1950's society. The film also features Kathy Bates. All of these artists have the chops for greatness and the preview looks really raw. I like raw. Life is raw, after all. And, God knows? Marriage is raw.
Definitely on my list.
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Where I found another message.
Ya'll? Tallulah, my four-month-old Westie, actually sh!t Stonehenge in my very own hallway.
Oh, don't get me wrong, it wasn't to scale or anything. It was, in fact, a very small approximation of Stonehenge. But it was Stonehenge nevertheless. One little turd surrounded by a perfectly spaced semi-circle of six other little turds, on some of which of she'd actually managed, with a jaunty finishing swirl, the look of that cross ways stone on the top.
Don't page down or anything. I didn't get the money shot with the camera. Because while standing there contemplating The Miracle and wondering whether to call the Pope or E-Bay, or Ripley's Believe it or Not, or The Discovery Channel, or, heck, just my Mom, the smell hit me.
Stonehenge brought tears to my eyes. And I'm not talking about in an awesome Stonhenge-ish sort of way.
It was only then that I glanced around and noticed my little darling had made a few, shall we say "practice runs" before commencing to bring forth The Miracle that sprung from her ass. From the looks of things, it had taken three or four (over sized) practice pipings before she got the hang of it for real. These turds were the sad, smeary, mis-shapen prototypes of what clearly later became the final more streamlined version, which was, ultimately, perfectly sited and spaced and located just a few short feet away from the practice arena.
And if you're at this point wondering just how big my hallway is, let me enlighten you: not very. It is a small (windowless) hallway and not the sort of space that that can easily accommodate a pound of extremely toxic poop (one-seventh of the puppy's total body weight if you're counting) whether in the form of an ancient ruin or not.
So, nope. No camera. Color me cynical, but by this point? Getting the sh!t outta my hallway was kinda priority numero uno.
FurGirl, apparently foreseeing the show, had positioned herself as far away from The Miracle as possible while still having a vantage point from which to enjoy the action. She was at the front door, her own ass pressed against it. Every time I looked over at her she winced as if to say,
"Damn, woman do you SMELL THAT?! Don't just stand there, get out the PET FEBREEZE, I'm DYIN'!".
I can only imagine what effect this nuclear assault of stench was having on her sensitive canine nose. I guess in the end you'd have to note that it wasn't bad enough to force her away from her post. This, if I had to guess, is not as much a testament to her sense of smell as it is her desire to see Tallulah finally get what's coming to her.
Tallulah, herself, was nowhere in evidence.
I guess she figured her work spoke for itself.
I began the clean-up by covering my nose and mouth with a dishcloth and securing it in the back with a clothespin. I covered my hands with Ziploc bags, then set about scooping up the practice arena cast-offs within wads of toilet tissue.
By the time I worked my way to The Miracle, I'd gained a new appreciation for how quickly Tallulah seemed to have perfected her craft. As I scooped up the tiny, perfectly spaced monoliths, I began to think I actually might not kill her.
Rather, I began to wonder (in my sexy, sexy garb) how had she spaced these out so perfectly? I tried to imagine her, her tiny white brow furrowed in concentration carefully counting out, what, maybe two paw lengths and then working up more material? And, anyway, had she produced the tiny monoliths whilst staring straight ahead and working, ahem, by feel? Did she lift a leg and sight the things from underneath? WTF?
By the time the job was finished and I was stripping off my Ziplocks, it occurred to me: What if she sh!ts the Sphinx next week?
We'd...we'd...why...we'd take it on the road, of course! We'd be RICH!
This is how Talullah survived the day and is, at this very moment, enjoying a high-dollar Eukanuba Dig Biscuit.
And this is also why, now, a full twelve hours later, FurGirl is all "talk to the paw" and still refuses to speak to me.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
But I seem to have become something of a punching bag for the universe.
A big success? Followed by a quick, well-aimed vicious blow to the temple from the billy club of destiny.
Just in case I'd forgotten who's boss.
This has happened so often lately--the journey from pinnacle to pit of despair accomplished with such nauseating speed and efficiency--that I find myself asking the universe:
What's the message here?
As someone I know put it recently,
"You're starting to remind me of Charlie Brown trying to kick that football."
Maybe the message is that Charlie just keeps on trying.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Sunday, October 05, 2008
One hour and fifteen minutes to go until the ribbon cutting, the ceremony that will kick off an event I’ve been planning since August. It’s an outdoor event and includes ponies, pumpkins, borrowed hay bales, bunnies, ‘smores, a free power tool giveaway and a llama. And that's a partial list. The petting zoo (the feature that includes most of the aforementioned animals) has not yet arrived, neither has the Cinderella carriage that will ferry festival goers around Circle Park.
But they aren’t expected yet.
I am wrestling 20 or so helium filled balloons out of my car. These will decorate and highlight the various activity stations. Nearby is Ben, my co-worker, wrestling the other 35 or so helium balloons out of his car. Balloon wrangling is actually a whole lot more complicated than it sounds when you’re talking about such a large quantity filled with helium. They don’t want to go anywhere but up.
Still, as I finally jerk the last balloon from my car and start toward the festival site, even I, negative self-talker that I am, have to silently congratulate myself.
Everything is, miraculously, right on schedule.
Ben, having finished wrestling his own huge balloon bouquet from the car, joins me.
“Hey, while we were driving here what looked like a wallet or a billfold or something flew off the top of your car”, he tells me.
I stop dead still, a horrible memory washing over me like a bucket of ice water. Me and my balloons in the parking lot back at the balloon store. I put my billfold on the top of my car just before I started Round One of the balloon wrestling.
In one sick second, I know for certain I never retrieved the billfold before driving away.
“So…now where did you see it fly off?” I ask, beginning to feel a little nauseous.
“Right in front of Hooper’s,” he answers.
Hooper’s is a sporting goods store on a busy four-lane highway very near where I live. On a Friday afternoon near quitting time? It is, let’s just say, VERY busy.
“Did it land…on the median?” I ask hopefully.
“Nope. Right in the middle of the highway,” he answers.
“In the middle? Of the highway?” I repeat.
My heart sinks to the ground.
And then the panic sets in. I can’t leave. I’m expecting a petting zoo and a horse drawn carriage any minute for God’s sake! I have an event starting in a little more than an hour. I CAN’T LEAVE.
But, I have to go. I can’t just leave my billfold with…well, god knows what personal financial crap in it, floating around Highway 60. I give hasty instructions about the balloon placement plan, hand off my balloons, and jump back in my car.
As soon as I start the car, a realization hits me:
I’m going to get my billfold back.
The knowledge is so ridiculous, so improbable, that it makes me feel a little dizzy with both relief and incredulity. Is this how it feels to crack up, I wonder?
I continue to worry about how quickly I can get back to the festival site, but from then on? If I tell the truth? It’s that I know I’m getting it back.
I drive quickly to the site of the disaster, park in the nearest parking lot, and check with the old man selling mums there. Had he seen a wallet in the road or anyone stop and pick something up in the last fifteen minutes?
Reluctantly, I head toward the highway filled with constantly speeding vehicles in both directions. Staying in the shoulder, I walk the length of the Hooper’s strip mall parking lot and beyond, carefully scanning the road for any sign of what I’m looking for. When I see nothing, I turn and walk back the same way. Should I now get back in my car and drive to the other side and do the same?
No. I’ll check inside Hooper’s on the outside chance that someone picked it up and left it there for me.
I walk over and grab the Hooper’s door handle, just as a small Toyota whizzes up, parks near me, and honks his horn. A man in his thirties rolls the window down and asks,
“What’s your name?”
I say it as a question.
He raises his left hand. In it is my billfold.
“I thought you looked like a woman who had lost something,” he says.
Apparently, the billfold had flown off my car nearer the gas station before Hooper’s. Both Chris, the man in the car, and another woman, Colleen he thinks her name was, spotted my stray billfold near the same time. Chris tells me they worked together to gather up my things: cash, insurance card, birth certificate. Inside Chris’s car, two small boys sit, both so young they are strapped in car seats. I imagine it was hard for him to leave them as he retrieved my things.
I offer Chris a bill from my wallet. He won’t take it.
“What’s really amazing,” Chris tells me, “is that I had the billfold part, but this other lady, Colleen I think, found all the cash. She just picked it up, handed it to me, and then drove away.”
As far as I'm concerned? It's all pretty amazing.
In the end, I made it back to the event in plenty of time to take care of all my duties, my billfold completely intact.
A Bizzyville Super Snap for Good Samaritans, Chris Rhimes and Colleen, who, Chris believes, works at the Olive Garden.
You guys are the bestest. Thanks for paying it forward on my behalf.
Saturday, October 04, 2008
I've written before about the Fountain Avenue Project, the first completed home, the incentives available through the city, and the event that happened Thursday, October 2nd. I'm beyond pleased with the turnout for the festival and the incredibly positive feedback we've received since. Click the photos for a larger version of the slideshow of photos I took at the Fountain Avenue Home Tour and Festival.