Monday, December 31, 2007

evidence



The story behind the evidence photo.

My little nephews Colin and Liam dog pile their cousin Lyndsy on the beach. I think it is so cute, I snap a couple of shots. Moments later, I see Lyndsy is crying.

“Honey, what’s wrong?”

“He pulled my ha-a-a-a-ir. Colin pulled my hair.”

Colin’s dad, my brother Joe, quickly steps in. “Say you are sorry for pulling Lyndsy’s hair, Colin. She’s crying. You hurt her.”

Three and a half year-old Colin, trembling with indignation from head to foot: “I didn’t do it. I didn’t do it. I didn’t pull her hair.”

Me: “Joe, look at this photo.” The photo shows Colin with hands firmly planted in Lyndsy’s hair. It is now evidence.

Joe: “Look at this, Colin.”

Colin, still shaking with righteous anger: “I didn’t do it, I didn’t- (sees photo). That’s not me. That’s not me in that picture.”

We laughed so hard at his defense that the whole thing was dropped.

Though my sister and I think that kids of a certain age can really convince themselves that they didn’t do anything wrong. And criminals do it all the time.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

a small question of size



A friend and I were recently talking about my attempts to lose weight. Between walking and eating organic foods, I managed to strip myself of eight pounds. Only to go on vacation and gain back just under four pounds in two weeks. My original goal was to lose 15 pounds. But like I told my friend, that less-than-lofty goal would just put me squarely at my regular, 15 pounds overweight status. Which is just fine.

Like most women, I’ve spent a lifetime worrying about my weight. Even when I wasn’t worrying about it, that number was still on my mind. Oversized and in lights, like a movie theater’s marquee. Crash diets to slough off the extra baggage included the grapefruit diet (yup, it was all grapefruit, all the time), diet pills (from speed to OTC drugs, I’ve tried them all), gulping diuretics by the handful and my favorite diet, fasting. Drinking organic juices for a day and then not eating at all for several days.

I found that all of the diets worked well. If you don’t count the bitchiness, the gnawing hunger and the migraine headaches. They worked. Until I stopped taking the pills. Started eating solid foods again. Then I gained weight almost as quickly as it fell off.

I was well schooled in my eating disorder from a young age. The older gymnasts made dieting more competitive than doing back flips on the balance beam or executing a well-orchestrated floor routine. It was easy. And I so wanted to be like them. Skinny. Wearing high-cut leotards that emphasized an angular frame. Hair tied back tight. Smoking in the locker room and smirking at the younger girls.

I wasted far too much of my teen years thinking about myself and how I looked, instead of just enjoying my life. It makes me sad to think about it now. My twenties were spent fumbling around, trying to find myself. In the early part of the decade, I wore too much eye makeup and stuck contact lenses in my eyes, accepting the resulting burn as the price paid for beauty. By age 27, I learned to like myself without makeup and to love my glasses. But I still fought to wear a size six. Even if it meant laying on the bed to zip up my zipper. That size meant a lot to me. And it was hard to leave it behind.

But then something happened the year I turned 30. I finally became comfortable in my skin. Nowhere near as skinny as I was when I was 18. Rounder and softer than I was in my 20’s. With lines that appear like a flash every time I laugh.

I always thought I had great self confidence. The bold one in my group of friends. The one who never turns down a dare and isn’t afraid to try anything once. But when I turned 30, I realized how it really feels to be confident. To be comfortable in my own skin. And that kind of confidence is sexy. It draws other people to you like a magnet.

I’m not going to be the prettiest, the youngest or the smartest (not by a long shot, ha ha) person in the room. If I went to the gym every day and sweat it out with the ogling steroid-ridden weight lifters, I still wouldn’t be “cut.” I have no angles or hard edges anywhere on my body. I have a J. Lo that's in fierce competition with the original. Even my curves have curves.

What I am is myself. And I like it here.

Northern Kentucky Winter Hat and Glove Drive

Approximately 400 kids in the Covington Public School system are homeless on any given day; hundreds more can't afford to buy basic necessities like winter hats and gloves. The Northern Kentucky Winter Hat and Glove drive is collecting hats, gloves and scarves as part of the "Lend-A-Hand" program.

There's still time to drop off new or gently used children's gloves, scarves and hats for the Northern Kentucky Winter Hat and Glove drive. To donate winter hats or gloves (children sizes preferred) you can drop them off at various participating MainStrasse Village businesses or at the MainStrasse Village Association office located at 406 West 6th Street 2nd Floor (above Dee Felice restaurant)- call 859.491.0458 for hours of operation.

You can also make a cash or credit card donation to the Northern Kentucky Winter Hat and Glove Drive by stopping in or calling the MainStrasse Village Association office.

Friday, December 14, 2007

feels like this

Jack Rodee, a friend and talented frontman for I-don't-know-how-many-bands in Wisconsin, had a song featured on MTV's "The Hills" recently. The song, written by Daniel Holter & Kyle White at the Burst Collective, appeared on season 3, episode 17.

MTV, in case you didn't know, has more or less migrated from showing music videos to showing non-stop reality TV shows. Now, they feature music by new artists on the shows and it's quite a coup to be selected.

You can have a listen to Jack singing Feels Like This online.

the judge

When I wrote the observer a while back, I meant to address something with blog readers. Then, as so often happens, I got sidetracked and never mentioned it at all: So there is no misunderstanding. I do not sit in judgment over the things people tell me about their marriages or long-term relationships.

If you’ve cheated on your significant other, expressed regret about your choice in a partner to me or generally just feel unhappy; I really don’t care. Unless you’re my brother in law. Then I would have to kick your ass. I mean, I’m sorry that you are unhappy. But it’s your life to live as you choose. How you choose to live that life has nothing to do with me.

I’ve had a few people tell me it isn’t easy, or, you don’t know, because it’s never happened to you, and so on. That is very true. And I don’t mean to judge anyone. Trust me. I am in no position to judge anyone about anything. So I’m not your judge. You are your judge. I am, in fact, just an observer. Duly noted? Good. Now, let’s move on to a lighter story about marital bliss:

I drank a few Harps before it went down (or Harp, as my friend Matt would say; apparently there’s no “s” even if you drink four. Or ten.), so I don’t know if I can get every nuance, but I’ll try.

I’ve been trying to spend time with all of my friends before we head into the holidays and I go out west for a much-needed vacation. My friend KC and I go to a neighborhood bar to catch up. KC is one half of a hot married couple but you can’t hate her; she’s too sweet and good not to be liked. We are sitting at the bar and she is relating one of her hot married stories to me and I am all ears.

“And then,” she says, sputtering with laughter, “his mom walked in! Can you believe it? Busted by his mom!” We are giggling like overly-knowledgeable school girls when the man next to me, who thus far has sat, drinking steadily, without saying a word, speaks up.

“My wife was innocent when we got married. Can you believe it?” I can’t mimic his exact inflection, but he seemed to sort of not believe it himself.

KC is used to people telling me random personal information, but she still looks slightly confused, swaying on her stool.

He nods at me, as if we have been having this conversation for six months, instead of six seconds. “That’s how it was back then.”

“Hmm,” I say, at a total loss.

He is a big man with a huge head of salt and pepper curls, wearing a union jacket and drinking something lethal, like Bushmill’s. After listening to us talk frankly about things for the better part of an hour, he is apparently ready to join in the conversation. Then he drops the bomb:

“She never says a word.”

“Uh…” I have no idea what to say to this. I can feel, without looking, that KC is getting ready to explode into giggles. She is shaking all over and grabbing my elbow, but I refuse to look at her, knowing that I will start laughing too.

“She doesn’t say anything. You mean when you’re... Uh…”

He nods, tossing back his drink with the practiced alcoholic’s finesse. “Not a word.”

Now, remember, I have had quite a bit to drink myself. I am running through possible bits of wisdom in my mind that I can share with the man who is married to the librarian:

There are plenty of movies available that show women talking in bed. Maybe you could pick up a few and that would give her an idea of what to do.

There are books. Surely Harlequin has finally moved from quiet sighs to “yeah, baby’s” instead.

Dude, you could just talk to your wife and tell her what you want. I have pretty much settled on that one, but with KC ready to stretch out on the floor and roll around laughing, I decide to switch tactics.

“Perhaps, sir,” I say, standing up, teetering a bit, and tossing my pashmina over my shoulder. “Perhaps it is for the best that she says nothing at all.”

KC chokes on her laughter while the man nods his assent. He gravely reaches for his (refilled) rocks glass and raises it in a toast to me, before slumping over the bar.

I turn and sweep regally out of the pub, with a puzzled KC trailing after me.

After all, I explained to her outside. Some things are just better left unsaid.


Happy Holidays, dear readers. And I mean that in a totally non-judgmental way.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Love, Honor, Obey

Looking over my old writings there’s often one recurring theme.

If you don’t know me, and you’ve read this blog, you might think that I’m anti-marriage. For the record. That isn’t necessarily true. I’ve just seen how it hasn’t worked well for a lot of people, and sometimes, it makes me feel a little gun-shy… Understandably.

For the record, I am all for marriage. Well. I am all for marriage for other people. I like my bachelorhood. For now.

And lately, I’ve been feeling more… optimistic about romantic possibilities. It turns out there are still some very, very thoughtful people out there. People who actually mean what they say and say what they mean. Imagine that. I was beginning to think that they all just lied, ripped you off or tried to create unnecessary drama. (it's been a long year, readers.)

I believe that a loving relationship that’s 100% dedicated and committed is possible- I have several shining examples in my own family. My parents. My brothers. Sisters.

I’ve also seen a lot of divorce. In my family. With my friends. These days, a pre-empted marriage is as common as getting married used to be- marriages often end earlier than expected, and for good reason.

Surrounded by family at a recent event, the question of my singledom inevitably arose. This time it came from an uncle, my brilliant radical liberal uncle (who is not really my uncle… but he’s been with my aunt for so many years, we think of him as family). We’ve both been working on a series of poems (his now published) and he asked me about my potential for getting married and having children.

I could have been married ten times now, I said. An explanation that leaves me not bereft, but often feeling slightly dirty, like a used towel. I’m not against marriage, I told him. I just haven’t found the right person yet. And I don’t want to end up unhappy and resentful with the wrong person.

With great intensity, he leaned in and told me this: “You only need to know one thing in life. You need to know when you’re getting cheated.”

Damn.

That’s profound.

Because he’s right. And I like to think (like I hope that he was implying), that I’ve made a lot of smart choices- instead of a lot of unhappy mistakes. I know I’ve hurt people. In some ways, I’m still hurting them. But marriage? That’s a big deal, man. Maybe the biggest deal there is.

I watched my parents canoodle this summer, as they frolicked and celebrated their 50 years together. 50 years! Five decades of love, honor and fidelity. It’s been a long haul. And it’s been a lot of work. It’s not something you see very often these days.

When I lived with someone and he wanted to marry, I told him we didn’t need a piece of paper to define our love. To define our place in the world together.

But maybe what I really meant to say was I didn’t want to be cheated. Or to cheat him. Because even then, I knew it wouldn’t work out.

My uncle gave me some food for thought. I still think that I will find the right person. One day. And we’ll have a half dozen little boys and live in a tiny house on a mountain. And maybe we’ll marry. Or maybe not.

My other uncle gave me a slightly different piece of wisdom to think about. Inviting me to visit him in Montana for the Stampede next year (Montana’s biggest annual party), he told me I’d have my pick of handsome cowboys, and then he went on to list a number of rodeo activities I might enjoy. Finally he stopped and looked at me, puzzled by my blank stare. Um. Sorry, Uncle Mel. I didn’t hear anything after “handsome cowboys.”

One day.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Holiday Drink Recipes to Make in the Crock Pot

Mark-the-foodie tells me the good truffles, from the Pacific Northwest, natch, are IN at Findlay. Get more information on where to buy and a recipe over at Rehab or Die.

My mom also reminded me that dungeness crab season started a few days ago in Oregon. At Christmas we go crabbing or just buy them off the dock from the commercial crabbers. Never had dungeness crab? Try one. They're better than lobster.

If you're having a holiday party and looking for a few good drink recipes, I put a few favorites together. Whip them up ahead of time and let them rest in the crock pot, to enjoy with family and friends later.

Holiday Crock Pot Drinks

A crock pot can do more than just take up space in the pantry. You can actually use it for cooking! It’s true… And never is there a better time to dust off the ceramic wonder than during the holiday party season. Some holiday crock pot drink recipes that won’t disappoint:

Hot Buttered Rum
Making midnight mass more fun for hundreds of years. Fa-la-la-la-hic!

2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine
6 whole cloves
3 sticks cinnamon
1 pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2-3 cups rum (depends on who’s drinking)
whipped cream
ground nutmeg -- for topping

Put all ingredients, except rum and cream, and nutmeg into crock pot. Add 2 quarts hot water. Stir well. Cover pot and cook on LOW for 5 hours. Add rum; stir to blend. Serve from pot in warm mugs with a scoop of whipped cream and a dusting of nutmeg.

Mulled Wine
Perfect for lazy hikers.

1 small cinnamon stick, broken into 1 inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup lemon juice
2/3 cup sugar
Thin lemon slices (garnish)
1 bottle dry red wine

Combine all ingredients (except lemon) in crock pot. Heat on high for one hour or until hot, then reduce to low to hold temperature for serving. Top mugs with lemon slice.

Tom and Jerrys
This has always been a staple in our house at holiday parties. Hard work, but mmm-mmm.

24 eggs
1/2 jigger rum
2 lb powdered sugar
1/2 jigger brandy
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 oz vanilla

Beat egg whites until stiff. Add sugar. Add cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. Add in half of the eggs yolks, and blend until smooth. In a large mug, fill with 1/2 batter, 2 shots of [60% rum and 40% brandy]. Balance with boiling hot water. Stir well and sprinkle with nutmeg.

For those of us who leave everything to the last minute: In a pinch, fill the crock pot with prepared hot chocolate and top every mug with a shot (or two) of black rum and whipped cream.

Remember, keep the crock pot on low once the drinks are ready, or you’ll risk losing the booze!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

grounded

Last night we went to check out a friend’s band. There were many, many funny moments… but my favorite conversation had to be this:

Jo: That was fast.

Me: Please. You know I’ve never had to wait to get served at a bar.

Jo: That’s because they know you’re going to spend a lot of money.


Talk about a quick deflation! Friends… They keep you grounded.

unfortunate

I save fortunes from fortune cookies. Yes. Another Lisa quirk. It’s right up there with painting my toenails to match my mood (today they are ruby red but I am debating changing to gun-metal gray).

I found this fortune recently while making a half-assed attempt to dust the living room: “Character is who you are when no one is watching.”

I remember why I saved it: I got it the day after I had an argument with my mom.

It’s stupid, I know. They’re random. Or so we’re told.

It’s funny how the little things stick with us. Something that doesn’t mean anything to anyone but you, grabs your heart strings and gives them a little tug when you least expect it.

I don’t know why I didn’t get a funny fortune that day. I wanted one that I could repeat out loud and add “in bed!” to the ending. That one I just folded quietly and stuck in my handbag.

So maybe it was random. I’d like to think that I do have character, even when I am by myself. I’d like to think that my mom accepted my apology and has forgotten all about the fight. I’d like to try to forgive myself for the argument one day. She said she forgave me. She even said I made her think. But still, it makes me question my character. It makes me question my fortune.

I have about 100 Bazooka Joe comics too… Their fortunes are less reliable but some day I am going to send them all in and order t-shirts for all of my best friends.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

heart monitor

Lately I’ve been ruminating a lot about potential love interests and how things often go terribly awry. No matter how much time goes by, I feel like I’ve learned very little about human beings. I don’t understand what motivates some people to act like they do. And I don’t understand why I am so often a target for people who are wrong for me.

It's the same maddening situation that I find myself in again and again. Going back and forth with someone who tells me over and over I want to be with you. So, so much. I think about you all the time. I miss you. Then, when I finally, finally, let my guard down, take a deep breath and say, OK. Let’s do this, often, the (paraphrased) response I get is: Eh.

In other words, after all the pursuit, the refusal to let me move on and the continued attempts to maintain a connection with me- even when I try to break from them- when I finally acquiesce, he coyly sidesteps me in a way that leaves me feeling rebuffed- and remorseful.

Is this my fault? Because I’m left wondering, if I would have said yes months ago, would things have worked out differently? I have to protect myself. I don’t want to get hurt. So I’m careful. About who I trust. Who I let in. Who I care about, too.

But what can you do when you find someone who makes you want to break all of your self-imposed rules?

I’m known for being a very private person. That might seem funny to regular blog readers. But trust me- there’s a whole lot I’m not telling you. I so very rarely let people really get to know me. And when I do, I’m often disappointed. There just seems to be so little regard for how I feel.

If you let someone take a look into your heart, do they take a part of it with them when they go?

And how can you get it back?