Sunday, October 25, 2009

Brother West Rocks the East Coast

 "It's not Brad Pitt that gets me hot. It's Cornel West."
--Quote from Flickr

 (May 5, 2009 - Photo by Stephen Lovekin/
Getty Images North America)

I concur. Pretty doesn't go nearly as far for me as brilliant-beyond-belief. Yesterday's Boston Book Festival featured, among its many sessions, a panel composed of Christopher Lydon, Harvey Cox, Mary Gordon, and Cornel West. The topic was spirituality. It amuses me that they believed they could have a truly rich conversation about God, religion, atheism, and the future of spirituality in one hour. But God love'em for trying.

Smart is sexy. And intimidating. And without perhaps really even noticing, women largely like intimidating. Big, overbearing men, unbelievably pretty men, controlling men...there's a woman for each of these types of intimidating men. And then there are those of us whose motors are revved by men who are too smart for their own good. I fall into that last category of women. I love a smart man.

And so it is with someone with like Cornel West. Yesterday Boston made me proud. Standing in line at the Book Festival at the Boston Public Library, no one asked me if I was in line for the talk on spirituality. Everyone asked if I was in line for Cornel West. Yes, yes I was. And Dr. West delivered. Patient and clearly deep in thought, he is someone to watch. People couldn't keep their eyes off him. They leaned in when he spoke. They clapped before he finished sentences. They nodded fervently when he made points that were political, economical, religious, and racial. To see a room 90% full of white folks nod in agreement about the "vanilla suburbs" is something.

I don't always follow what Dr. West says--purely because his knowledge is so vast and deep that I just don't have the context to keep up. Instead I take away little nuggets--his plays on words, his subtle grabs at pop culture. He talks about "spiritual malnutrition," and I think yes! While listening, I think about how amazing it would be to sit and talk with him over a cognac--and then instantly shiver with the fear of actually having a conversation with someone so intelligent. Oy, I would eff that up not be able to keep up my end of the conversation.

Dr. West is a class act. He's the kind of person you want to please. If you were speaking and he began to nod, you'd feel like a million bucks. If you made him laugh, it'd be a jackpot. In trying to describe him to a friend, the only word I could come up with was animated. He is called a "provocative public intellectual." An excellent job title, no? And perhaps what is equally impressive as his intellect is his ability to speak. And I mean speak. My friend and I marveled after the talk over what it must be like to be one of his students. He could talk a group of thugs into painting a church and a team of Hell's Angels to learn ballet. He just exudes a love of life that is seriously inspiring.

As a reviewer on Amazon stated, "By his own admission, he is a bluesman, a man who loves hard, speaks truth, questions unapologetically, and a servant of the people." There just aren't enough men (or women) who live so intentionally.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

I reckon I'm a seven

According to this grieving site, I'm at stage seven with my Facebook withdrawal. I've experienced shock, pain, anger, loneliness, a bit of an upward turn, and reconstruction, as I went through an abrupt withdrawal over this past week. I'm pretty much at acceptance now.

I only check about twice a day now, morning and night, to see whether they've fixed their database issue. And I've checked out the different online chats/text strings from people describing the problem, experiencing denial, pissing each other off by declaring every loser's life would be better if he/she went outside to play instead, etc. For every hideous "Their R starvin kidz in Africa stupid and if you new that youd get off da computer" comment, full of misspellings and written by some moron who is also on the computer and somehow found his/her way to a chat about Facebook being down, there is one helpful individual discussing what's actually going on and linking the public to other forums with more info.

I imagine Twitter is loving this. I saw one post that announced, "Inaugural tweet!" and then went on to mention the Facebook issue. And surely many others are doing the same. If you search the issue on Twitter, a long line of people are talking, er, tweeting about it. And while I've adjusted back to pre-Facebook life well enough after a week, I pretty much mostly agree with Tashinka, on Twitter, who simply states, "site maintenance for 7 days SUCKS ASS." Right on.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


I am amazed that people are proposing texting while driving bans in certain locations. How about banning it EVERYWHERE because it's ridiculously dangerous. Having driven near three people in the past month who appeared to be driving drunk but, upon closer inspection, turned out to be texting, I can't believe we treat texting with the same democracy as abortion or gay marriage. This shouldn't be debatable. BAN IT.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Delirium tremens

I have disturbing news. It has caused a jittery sweat for three days. I'm just not the same woman I was last week. And who knows how long it will take to fully recover from such pain.

I can't get into Facebook.

Who knew it would disturb me so much? What is everyone doing? I'm missing the minute-by-minute account of shoe shopping, baby firsts, Farmville scores, and philosophical ponderings. Approximately 110 of my closest friends are living life without me. No matter that we didn't stay in touch for 10 years or longer in most cases. I had become fond of the Monday "So and so is getting ready to go to work" notes and the "TGIeffingF" declarations each Friday.

Now, it's just me. Alone. Who cares that everyone else's happy family info made me feel so single and childless and constantly like I was missing something? Now I can't even try to feel happy for others. I can't snicker at self-indulgent profile pictures or raise an eyebrow over the "deep thoughts" folks like to share ("Damn, it's raining again. Waaaah").

Now I'm just painfully aware of my aloneness. I may actually step away from my computer and become more productive. And who the hell wants that?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Do you whistle while you work?

While waiting for the elevator this morning, I could hear the mailman around the corner filling each slot with bills and catalogs and whatnot. He was whistling while he worked. Literally cheerfully whistling while working on a Saturday morning.

He came around the corner and waited for the elevator with me. "I'm impressed. I have never been so content as to whistle while I work," I said to him. He chuckled.

"I like what I do."

I considered that for a moment, smiling and watching the numbers light up in succession as the elevator descended toward us.

"For the first 15 years of my career I could barely get out of bed in the morning to get to work," he said. "But for the past 13 years, doing this . . . I'm happy."

The elevator doors opened.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Weekends are supposed to be relaxing

I had anxiety all weekend. After a long, stressful week, I had my heart set on hiding in my apartment, quiet, work-free, and relaxed. But the weather. The incredibly sunny, mild weather had me feeling guilty. I did not go outside. And I know that a few months from now I will always be cocooned in my apartment on the weekends, so it ate at me, but I just couldn't do it. Couldn't leave.

I appreciate all of the things I am allowed to do--or not do--because I am single. I have no partner to answer to, no children to feed. And sometimes that's exactly the thing that gets me down. But this weekend it was nice. For example, today went something like this:

5 a.m.: Wake to cat taking a leisurely bath on top of me. Not bad; 7.5 hours of sleep check e-mail, check Facebook, cross stitch one sheep on my latest endeavor. Begin making a week's worth of oatmeal and sort out all dirty clothes (which is almost all of them).

7 a.m.: Figure it's okay to go downstairs and begin doing laundry. Brush teeth first. One load of whites, one load of darks. Hang wet clothes throughout apartment in skillful and clever ways. Keep eye on oatmeal. Take pills. Stitch another sheep. The microwave timer is set for the wash (30 minutes for washer; 60 minutes for dryer) and the stove timer is set for the oatmeal. Dole out oatmeal into separate Ziploc containers. Top each with brown rice syrup and raisins. Eat a bowl for breakfast.

9 a.m.: Done with laundry. Begin watching Ghandi on TV while doing some backstitching. Movie is boring as shit, yet sort of gripping. Flip back and forth between that, Sleepless in Seattle, and Clean House.

10 a.m.: Christ, how long is this Ghandi film? I begin to flip through the channels and find John Cusack (insert sound of squealing breaks). Serendipity. That's sweet. I forgot all the Nick Drake in that movie. Oh, that I could be so lucky as to find John Cusack lying in the middle of the ice rink in Central Park at night.

noon: Playing online, looking at blogs about minimalist lifestyles. Decide to tear apart my bedroom, which is cluttered and driving me nuts. Spend substantial time pulling shoes, clothes, and jewelry that I don't need/want. Closet looks spectacular. Some drawers are empty. Bed is made. I'm amazing.

2 p.m.: Starting to feel depressed--I'm losing the day. Work tomorrow. I begin to clear my desk in the office. Sort through cross stitch materials. Suddenly wonder how much one person should spend on food each month. Google for a while. No good answers, but general consensus is about $100/month. What do these people eat? What do I spend? I have no idea. Begin looking at cookbooks. I should eat more fiber. Fiberous foods are filling and cheap. Beans, lentils . . . Stomach growls, so I order a pizza.

4 p.m.: Actual pit in stomach over the fact that the weekend's almost over. Hit "send" on an e-mail I shouldn't have written. Shed a tear or two. Realize that a truly lame Jason Biggs movie is on. Look around apartment. Flip over damp clothes hanging everywhere. Consider what I want my office/craft room to look like. Wonder why I am such a mess. Look at an indepth yoga/muscle book. Do a few stretches. I am completely inflexible. I can't keep sitting all day, like I do at work. It's killing me. My back always hurts. My hamstrings are completely tight. I lie on the floor and stare at the ceiling. Cat watches.

5 p.m.: Begin writing a pep-talk-type page to myself ("Be more firm," "Say what you mean," "Slow down"). Put pen down and write a completely boring blog entry.

Sometimes I'm not sure whether it's healthier to push myself to go "out there" or to rest and regroup for the week ahead. I figure if I'd left the house I'd have wished I was at home. Tough break.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

For a song . . .

I'm digging the song "Lover" by Devendra Banhart these days. It's on the soundtrack of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (sigh . . . Michael Cera). And I am so grateful that as an adult my mood still can turn around simply with a good song. It's the difference between simply driving to work and being pumped up by the time I pull into the parking lot at work. Hmmm. I probably should make a "to work" mix.

On the topic of simple pleasures, sometimes a green light feels like a victory. Granted, my days of driving through Dorchester and the North End are way behind me, so I have little room to bitch, putting about in New Hampshire. But please appreciate that on my four-mile commute I encounter about 14 traffic lights. It can be the difference of 15 minutes in my ride (wow, yeah, I just whined about 15 minutes). However, today, my friends, I hit a green light at Weeks Circle! Victory was mine!! I actually laughed as though I was getting away with something as I sped up to get through.

So, good song and green light. Kelly 2, cruel world 0.

At one of the red lights I did stop for, the car ahead of me had a homemade bumper sticker that read, "Got whiskey?" I was amused. Not only is it better than the "Gut deer?" stickers I'm accustomed to here, but it is ballsy. Little brother let me borrow his car once or twice when I had my first "real" job. He had a bumper sticker that read, "Jesus loves you. Everyone else thinks you're an asshole." I always backed into my parking spot, up against the woods at the far end of the lot. It didn't exactly scream "Promote me!"

So once at work, it turned out all of my meetings were canceled. Ha! Kelly 3, cruel world 0.

But damn did my back hurt all day. I've been having more "really bad back" days this summer than I'm used to. Doesn't bode well. Kelly 3, cruel world 1.

But then I worked diligently and got through more than 300 e-mails today. And I took a lunch break. And I left at a reasonable time. Kelly 6, cruel world 1.

Now, I'm fed and resting, watching John Cusack on TV. The sunset over Somersworth on a clear night, like tonight, is serene and beautiful. Light pink and purple slowly becoming gray. The cat is purring, and so am I. While the day was not a shut out, I still think I came out on top.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Thoughts while meditating

I am neither practiced nor skilled in the art of inner silence. This was my attempt at meditating this afternoon.

Kelly, focus. Unfocus, rather. Stare at that center spot. Motorcycle. Can't wait for fall. This weather is great. What the hell is [person's] problem? Seriously?! Fuck it. Ugh, stop thinking. Dark dark dark dark dark. Not focusingggggggg. I didn't order my prescriptions. I'll never finish Infinite Jest. Motorcycle. Dark dark dark dark. Will I feel spunkier with a tattoo? It's silly, but I think I will. Once in a while anyway. Air-o-plane. What if I lived in Brooklyn? Would I change? Will a difference in geography really allow me to be more of the "me" I want to be? Is NH holding me back from being true to part of myself? It's good that spending time with [person] takes me outside my comfort zone a little. I need it. And I feel safe. What is wrong with me? Dark dark dark dark. Ooops--nothing, nothing, nothing nothing. What diet is best? I mean should I just work on portion control, or eliminate certain bad foods from my diet? I'm thinking portion control is not going to work for me. It makes me angry. It's like telling a crack addict to cut back a little. That's why I hate Ellie Krieger. Three almonds does not a snack make. Is she for real? Nothing nothing nothing nothing. I think I would be a better person if I were with someone--that didn't come out right. I don't think I'm not a good person. I just need more. Ugh. I mean, I would not be able to hide if I were with someone. I would have to make dinner. I'd have to make plans. I'd have someone to split the bills with. I'd have . . . sex? This isn't meditating at all. Nothing nothing nothing nothing. Motorcycle. Truck. Nothing nothing nothing nothing. Oooooooohhhhhhmmmmmmm. As much as I'm annoyed that [person] hasn't called, it's probably better that [person] didn't call before I meditated. I think I feel a little calmer now. Sun. Warm. Nothing nothing nothing nothing nothing. Nothing is still something, right? Shit, I'm horrible at this. Nothing nothing nothing nothing nothing nothing nothing nothing nothing nothing nothing nothing. Fuck it, I'm going to eat some peanut butter.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I figured we're past the halfway mark and I might consider checking in on my New Year's resolutions. Let's see how Kelly's doing, shall we?
  1. Drink more. Check!
  2. Drink with artists. Some of my drinking friends doodle--check!
  3. Wear cuter underwear. Hmmm. There are still several months left to the year.
  4. Read the books on my shelves. Cookbooks, yes. But my rate of purchase definitely outdoes my rate of reading.
  5. Get regular haircuts. I have given myself two trims in my own bathroom. Not doing well with this one.
  6. Less TV. Crap. Not doing well on this front either. A little, but not much.
  7. Put pen to paper, fingers to keys. Check! Though not nearly as much as I ought to (and you wouldn't know by looking at this blog that I write anything more than resolution lists and occasional, strange essays.
  8. Read 1-2 books/month. Check! I don't think it matters that a lot of them are freelance projects. Whatev.
  9. Develop an ass. I'm pretty sure it's there, but it's still not much to look at. Because that, my friends, would require exercise.
  10. Take care of cuticles. What was I thinking about when I wrote this? I don't care about my cuticles.
  11. Make one new, decent friend. A dear friend from my past found me, so check!
  12. Don't take things personally. I need a neutral third party to help me keep score on this.
  13. Finish family tree. Hmmm. I'm pretty certain I've learned all I'm going to learn. But I did just meet my grandmother. At Macy's. You read that correctly. Yeah, it's that kind of family.
  14. Use gym membership--or save the damn monthly payment. Hmmm. Um, while I'm extraordinarily kind in essentially paying the light bill for my gym, I'm not exactly visiting my gym. At all. Not good.
  15. Sweep more . . . Check! I mean, not a lot. But more. Definitely more.
  16. . . . and sleep more. Check! I will never be the sort who can sleep in on a Sunday, but I'm working on going back to sleep after feeding the cat early in the morning.
  17. Get passport in case I need to make a quick getaway. The paperwork is filled out, but I've neglected to take it beyond that point--which is truly stupid, as this morning my momentary excitement about maybe going to Montreal was dashed when I realized I can't flippin go there without a passport anymore.
  18. Explore a new state. Check! I dove into NYC with a vengeance in February.
  19. Take chances. Nothing jumps out. Must put a stickie on the fridge to remind myself to be spontaneous (just kidding--I'm not that kind of girl).
  20. Swing hips. Check! The extra alcohol consumption (see #1) has assisted me in hip swinging on several occasions (e.g., Brooklyn wedding, Boston birthday, 4th of July cabin [our hour-long tribute to MJ]).
  21. Less thought, more action. Damn, definitely still thinking too much.
  22. Be a woman--hot, feisty, confident. #1 has helped, but I still need to work on this.
  23. Be unbearably, intolerably selfish. Er, as a woman living alone there's no one to a) be selfish around or b) appreciate my selfishness. However, Millie might have thoughts to share on this.
  24. Make it work, or move. #11 has really helped me feel better, but the jury's still out. The frustration: I know I have a good situation. I'm just feeling like a few key things are not in order and I'm not sure where the fulcrum sits between these two sides of the coin.
Looks like I've got some work ahead of me over the next five months.

I heart Oklahoma

Now there's a title I never imagined typing.

Mummy turned me on to The Silver Needle, a shop in Tulsa. After a couple weeks of just drooling over their goods, I placed an order.

Now, I'm a bit of a sloppy crafter. I refer to it as artistic license, but the truth is that I'm just impatient and not interested in following directions to the letter. So what I appreciated about this site most was that I was able to type notes to the folks at the store about what kind of fabric I needed, but gave them the freedom to work their expertise in making purchase decisions for me. I even vaguely told them to toss in whatever specialty threads I might need for each pattern. Excellent option, and largely necessary when working on crafty things and unable to directly converse with experts!

About two days later, I received an adorable voicemail message from a woman with a serious accent with info about my order--just a check in of sorts. But the accent . . . she and I are from different worlds. I couldn't help but smile. People truly are kinder outside New England.

So today, a week or so later, I came home after a bad day and saw a package at my door. Could it be? Oh yes!

I don't typically take pictures of this nature, but I just think the folks at SN are so cool that I wanted to share. So bear with me.

First, the package. Who doesn't love receiving a package?

Then there was the fancy packaging inside:

Yay, free patterns, a pen (those of you who truly know me understand that at this point there could have been poo in the box and I'd still be excited about the pen), and some jelly beans!

And then, finally, the goods:

I'm totally digging Little House Needleworks patterns. I'm new to With Thy Needle & Thread. And I'm thrilled to have all the fabric and most of the thread ready to go. I even received a personal message on one piece of material. I know it's impossible to read; essentially they let me know they were giving me something a little different from what I ordered because it was going to be cheaper for me. I love these ladies.

And what this all boils down to now is my desperate race to finish my current project. This one has been going quickly. And I know, I know, my work is a disappointment to cross stitch pros--I am working on large fabric--I think it's 18 ct. I haven't used fabric this big in a long time, and it's just so darn easy on the eyes. And I think the pic is coming out okay regardless.

So thank you, ladies at The Silver Needle! You put a brilliant spin on my day.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Oh little brother
If only the world were as smart
Lucky would I be


And little brother
If you did not fear Facebook
You'd know more of me

These haiku are dedicated to my dear little brother, who has voiced displeasure at the infrequency of my posts.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Drowning in tears

I cry.

A lot.

More as an adult.

At inappropriate times and without an end in sight.

As a child, my mother said once that she couldn't attend my soccer games because they made her cry. As a 12-year-old tomboy, I thought it was a screwy excuse. I thought it was an odd way of getting out of having to watch poorly coordinated preteens flopping around on a soccer field under the sun.

But now I get it.

In college, I remember standing at a bus stop and falling into tears when a fire truck screamed by, lights blazing and siren blaring. My only thought: Someone is hurt. It was raw and embarrassing, standing in broad daylight with tears streaming down my face over what might, ultimately, have amounted to a cat stuck in a tree.

Since then, I've had similar moments. If I see PETA footage on the evening news, I break into tears. I tear up almost every morning while watching Good Morning America--whether the story is happy or sad. I welled up once in my car, listening to the live version of Indigo Girls singing "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee," a song I've heard and sung aloud infinite times before. And then there was the time I held my friend's four-year-old son at Fred Penner's "Happy Feet" show. The boy was happy and laughing and clapping. I was holding him on my lap, crying, enjoying his pure happiness. Over happy feet. I know. Someone get that girl a drink.

A friend of mine became engaged last year. Like a baby, I cried when I read her e-mail announcing the news--cried with joy--just true, undeniable happiness. Not envy, not sadness. I was just happy that she was happy. More recently, at her wedding, I pulled a Tammy Faye, crying during the ceremony and letting out an audible sob when there was mention of those who had passed and couldn't be there as well as the generations to come. Ugh. Then there were the speeches during the reception . . .

And now there are the photos that are starting to circulate from the wedding. Beautiful pictures. My friend, so genuinely happy, surrounded by family and friends. I scrolled through the photos on Facebook tonight and felt my eyes watering again.


It begins to make sense, why I keep a small circle. Not purely because I'd be dehydrated if I cared so much about more people. But because I truly care about those I let in. It is much easier to keep people at a distance and not care too much. Hell, I've had long-term relationships with people over whom I barely shed a tear. And then I've also had relationships with people over whom I've shed too many. Dangerous business, affairs of the heart.

So what I've learned is that I can't have children, love my partner, watch TV, take the bus, or become a firefighter. All of those pose aqueous dangers. But rather than limit myself, I guess it will be easier to just stock up on tissues.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Hotmail, how didst thou know?

Okay, so I'm a bit of a horoscope follower. I'm a cancer, and damn, I fit the bill pretty closely. I've found that the MSN Hotmail horoscopes are eerily right-on with me each day. It's one of the last things I do online each day, checking that horoscope. (Stop yer snickering. I can hear you.)

Today I did something big. No need to go into details, but suffice it to say, I was left with sweaty, adrenaline-sparked, wild-girl fear and mania. The same kind of rush I get when I've gone on stage for acting or speaking. Though tonight I was left with more of a fear rush than a holding-a-bouquet-of-roses-and-bowing-at-the-end-of-the-night kind of rush. I stood up for myself in a way that I have not in a long time. And now I'm feeling scared and liberated at the same time. Anywho . . . today's horoscope:

The last months have been very challenging - and there's a very good chance that you no longer feel up to meeting the challenges. So if you have been yearning to modify something in your daily life, do it now, dear Cancer. The hour has come to make concrete changes. Regardless of whether the change you seek is at home or at work, physical or emotional, don't be afraid of seriously upsetting your life.
Holy smokes, amen to that. Seriously upset my life, I did. My only thought at this point: Now what?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It's going to be a long four years . . .

. . . if I'm going to tear up every time I hear Obama speak or watch a crowd of people take in his words. Man!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

My afternoon with Stevie

So I took Stevie Wonder along with me up toward the mountains today. We shared deep thoughts as we followed rt 11 along the grandeur of Lake Winnipesaukee, past Alton Bay, Weirs Beach, and Meredith. We marveled at the way the sun shone on the White Mountains, and we thought we picked out Mount Washington (though probably only because it was the prettiest peak). We agreed that the folks way out on the lake in school buses and old camper are loco. I told him about the one time I walked out onto that lake. The slightest sounds of the ice below paralyzed me with fear, and I tiptoed back to shore, waving out at my friends and thinking that if they fell in, well, they'd just be fucked because I'd be crying like a baby from shore.

Our destination was a kick-ass quilt shop in Centre Harbor. Stevie stayed in the car with a hot chocolate. Said there wasn't much in there for him to see anyway. I started to feel bad, but he shooed me away and told me to take my time. He's good to me like that.

Keepsake Quilts is a big enough shop that busloads of blue-hairs come from all over to check it out. It's grown over the years, now housing a cross stitch shop (sub par) and yarn shop (I drooled with desire to learn how to knit just looking at all the pretty yarns--seriously pretty stuff) in addition to the fabric wonderland that is the heart of it all. And the shop doesn't hold your run-of-the-mill JoAnn Fabrics cheapo material. This is nicer, and the patterns are classier. It took me over two hours to get my act together and make my purchases (wandering through a store looking for the right fabrics and considering the right pattern and making sure it'll all work is serious business).

And when I got back out to the car, Stevie was there waiting for me. He smiled. He said he'd been listening to the snowmobilers while sipping his hot chocolate and thinking about how soft and slow a Saturday can be. Then he laughed and said, "Let's go home."