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Nov. 23rd, 2010

No Belly Rub

Life Goal: To be a Muppet

Yes, I'm serious and no, not a dimwit, as you brits use the term.  I want to be Jim Henson Muppet.  Kind of a weird career goal, I guess, but it's got a story.  So every girl remembers her first love.   That all-encompassing, inflamed by immaturity, love that either disillusioned you, broke your heart, or remains unrequitted.  I fall into the last category.  The time I fell into first crazy-stupid style love I was 5-ish.  Yes, you read that right: FIVE-ish.  This man stole my heart utterly and completely:
Kermit seated
Alright, you're not the first to point out that Kermit is a muppet.  Do you think that mattered to a five-year-old girl who saw this frog date that stupid pig?  I believed anything was possible and love could conquer all.  I also firmly believed that I was much better than Miss Piggy and once Kermit met me, she would be cast aside like icked-over bacon grease.  I remember using barbies and stuffed animals to create elaborate plans to lure Miss Piggy to her doom.   Her doom usually involved being locked in a closet or put in a dog crate and then onto a plane bound for another planet.  At the time, I also didn't know you couldn't get to outer space in a plane, I mean, come on, you could go fifty-bajillion miles away to weird places covered with cold, white stuff called, like, Germany.  The moon seemed much closer.  Sadly, I was never given the opportunity to put my any of my utterly genius plans into action.  In fact, to this day, I believe I could have been successful.  I watched Sesame Street and The Muppet Show.  I was on top of problem solving. 

So, for those of you who don't already know, I didn't marry the Kermit the Frog I've loved since childhood.  I have also grown up a bit and learned that you cannot, in fact, marry a muppet; however, you can BE a muppet.  I think with the right kind of training (in progress) and the right marketing (in the planning stages), I can be the best muppet EVER.  I need to come up with a design and pitch, but I'm working on my voice and inhibitions first.  Also working on a money-making career, since being a muppet is not especially lucrative....yet. 


~Blue Skies~

Quote of the Day:
There is a dreadful story that I hate actors. Imagine anyone hating James Stewart . . . Jack L. Warner. I can't imagine how such a rumor began. Of course it may possibly be because I was once quoted as saying that actors are cattle. My actor friends know I would never be capable of such a thoughtless, rude and unfeeling remark, that I would never call them cattle . . . What I probably said was that actors should be treated like cattle.
~Alfred Hitchcock

Nov. 18th, 2010

No Belly Rub

Things I've Learned About Saying Goodbye.

Fair warning: This entry is likely to be somewhat depressing, so read at your own discretion. Also, I am not a psychiatrist or a psychologist. I didn't even take PSYCH 101 in college. These are my own experiences and the summary is what I learned from them.

August 1997Collapse )

November 1997Collapse )

December 2000Collapse )

October 2001Collapse )

December 2002Collapse )

November 2010Collapse )

Anyway, the things I've learned:
1 - The first year of acceptance is always the hardest. 
2 - Good friends and supportive family are indispensable.
3 - Talking cannot be emphasized enough.  NEVER stop talking about it or them.
4 - The traditional meaning of 'Being strong' is a joke.  Being strong really means grieving gracefully, i.e. not fighting or running away from what you're feeling because it doesn't fit some societal norms. 
5 - At some point you will be angry with the deceased.  This makes other people uncomfortable, but it happens to more grievers than will ever admit it.  Let yourself be angry and work through it.
6 - Grief and pain are never an excuse to hurt someone who's still alive.  Casting blame for your loss and pain on someone is cruel and wicked and it never makes you feel better.
7 - The surest way to help yourself though the low points is to volunteer.  Helping someone else is an instant pick-me-up that no medication can equal.  The only side effect I've observed is that it can be addictive. 
8 - There are no reliable guidelines for how to grieve.  There are hundreds of thousands of books and lectures and pamphlets, but what it comes down to is you.  You have to let yourself do what you need to do to get through it. 
9 - Other people can drag you kicking and screaming through the process, but it won't get you anywhere and will just frustrate them.
10 - Funerals are for those of us left behind, not for the deceased.  They give us a platform to start our grieving. 
11 - Tears are not weak. 
12 - Human contact is essential.  Avoiding everyone doesn't make the pain easier to deal with, quite the reverse, actually; it makes it harder.
13 - Never underestimate the power of touch.  Hugs, especially.
14 - Humor is important and appropriate.  Granted some can be tactless, but humor should not be avoided at all costs when grieving or speaking of the deceased.  If you want to see what I mean, watch the cemetery scene in Steel Magnolias. 
15 - People all have a purpose in our lives.  Sometimes their passing is part of that purpose.  Don't shut yourself off from some work they might be doing in you because it hurts. 
16 - Don't stop doing something you love because it reminds you of them and makes you sad.  Keep doing it until it's a reminder of the happiness they brought your life.  You might cry in the process, but the smile will come. 
17 - Sometimes physical activities can help express strong emotions.  I destroyed a phone book (a few pages at a time) after my cousin died.  I was angrier than I have ever been in my life and by the time I had decimated that phone book, I was exhausted, but not angry anymore, just calm. 
18 - It's hard, but sometimes the bravest thing you can do is ask for help.
19 - Unless you pulled the trigger, did drugs and got behind the wheel, or otherwise killed them with your own two hands, IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT.  I spent years thinking that if I had just dealt with the migraine and gotten in the car with her, she wouldn't be dead.  It doesn't work that way.  The guy that fell asleep while he was driving the car my cousin was in did NOT kill my cousin.  I know if he'd ever woken up he'd have felt it was all on him, but it was NOT his fault.
20 - Saying goodbye is very hard. 

Sorry for the downer, but I've needed to write this for quite some time.  Even if only one person gets one small thing from what I've written, it was worth it. 

~Blue Skies~

Quote of the Day:
The tide recedes, but leaves bright seashells on the sand;
The sun goes down, but gentle warmth still lingers on the land;
The music stops and yet it echoes on in sweet refrains...
For every joy that passes, something beautiful remains.

~ Unknown

Nov. 17th, 2010

Red Panda

Letter to The Dust In My Apartment

Dear Dust,

May I call you Dust? Thank you. We've lived together for some time now. I know I'm not the easiest roommate to live with, what with all the vacuuming and cleaning that I know disturbs your daily routine. I apologize for not being more considerate. Unfortunately, being roommates is a two-way street and, while I hate to point fingers, I feel it is necessary to tell you that there are a few things that are ruffling my feathers. I would like to air them and propose a mutually beneficial arrangement that I think we can both be happy with.

First, you and your stuff are everywhere, and I do mean everywhere. I know I told you to come in and make yourself at home, but I did expect some semblance of personal space. I'm not especially comfortable with you being in my bathroom, but I really do draw the line at you lounging in my nasal cavity. Seriously, it is very rude not to mention a perfect way to spread germs.

Second, is it absolutely necessary for you to bring dust bunnies over at all hours of the night? If you're going to do this, I would very much appreciate you sending them home when you guys are done 'hanging out' or whatever it is you do. I don't mean to insinuate anything about your character, it's just that they never leave unless I show them the door and am somewhat rude. I don't like being rude to your guests. I also don't like finding them hiding around the apartment like they live here. If there are a few regulars you'd like to have here on a more permanent basis, let's talk about getting you and them on the lease and we can work out how we'll split the rent. It was really embarrassing the other day when I found one of your guests in my lingerie drawer. What do you say to that? I just asked the offender to leave. Well, I didn't just ask. I was rather forceful and actually took them outside.

These are the two big issues I have and when I first gathered my thoughts, I couldn't see a compromise. I've spent more time mulling it over and have found a proposal that involves a little give and take from both of us and I think I can live with it. First, I will give you full reign over the entire apartment when I'm out of town and you can have everything up to and including my bedroom door when I'm home. That means you are not allowed inside my bedroom or bathroom. That includes your stuff and your guests. My concession is that I will only disturb you, your belongings, and your guests by vacuuming and dusting the whole apartment once every three weeks, with discretion. By discretion, I mean that if it gets scary, I will give you 24 hours notice and then I'm going in with the Rainbow.

These are my terms. They are up for negotiation, but do not expect much in the way of more concessions. I am considering banning you from the lint trap in the dryer, so be careful of what you request. I will have my people contact your people if you'd prefer to negotiate. If I do not hear from you in a timely manner, I will assume that you have agreed fully to my proposal and I will duly start removing you from my bedroom. Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.


The Leaseholder

Quote of the Day:
When I was 14, I fronted a rap trio. Pretty hard-core for three private school kids from suburban London. And my mum's, like, cramping our style, popping her head in to ask, 'You boys want a sandwich?'
~Robert Pattinson

Nov. 15th, 2010

In Flander's Fields

Why I wear a POW/MIA bracelet

For more rambling to the answer...Collapse )

The connection to the military is deep-rooted, but my understanding of life in the military and the life of a military family is naive, at best. I attempted to join through the ROTC program at the University of Texas in 2001. While there, I purchased a POW/MIA bracelet and respected the superficial understanding I had of what it stands for. I started wearing it. I was medically disqualified because of my thyroid problem. I continued to maintain a connection as a civilian by working with the American Red Cross and trained to be an Armed Forces Emergency Services (AFES)caseworker. This is where I think my compassion for military families and the servicemembers themselves awoke on a more mature level. The case studies that we worked through chipped through this stone wall that I had built around my heart and I began looking for more news online about how families were staying connected, about deployments, about death totals, about captures. Along the way I stumbled across the League of Families and Blue Star Mothers.

From the day I put my POW/MIA bracelet on, I didn't take it off, but with the superficial understanding, it was almost a status symbol. After my work with the American Red Cross and the associated research, I kept my bracelet on for new reasons.

I wear my bracelet to remind myself that freedom is not free. To remind myself to be grateful everyday that all servicemembers past, present, and future deserve my thanks for the life I'm free to live because any one of them could be a name on a bracelet and every one of them is someone's family, someone's inspiration, someone's everything. To remind myself that my job is to do something (and the list is long) to support our troops every day. To remind myself to engage others about the plight of POW/MIAs and their families and how forgotten they become. To remember and pray for Major Samuel Blackmar Cornelius, USAF, of Lubbock, Texas, who was shot down over Cambodia on 16 JUN 1973, even if I'm the only one left to do it.

For more information about The League of Families:

To search for the current status on POW/MIAs:

Service members, please accept my humblest gratitude to all the members of the armed forces past, present, and future who have made, make, and will make going to bed each night a safe event for me, my friends, and my family. Thoughts and prayers and, always, ~Blue Skies~

Quote of the Day:
A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to The United States of America for an amount of 'up to and including my life.'
~Wish I Knew

Nov. 11th, 2010

Feeling Posh

Mom Dropped By

I have never truly considered myself a fashionista by any stretch of the imagination. My sister and my mother will agree. Middle school and high school were made more strenuous by the continuous battle between me and my mother over what I wore. Her idea of style and fashion for me, while young and timely and in-line with what the 'in' crowd was wearing, was better suited to a person trying to fit in with the crowd of 'in' kids who all dressed to stand out. Very much not for me, a girl lacking in confidence who saw herself as overweight, dragging the baggage of a thyroid problem, who opted for the company of books and a small circle of very close friends when given the choice and preferred to blend into the background, identifying with wallflower-type characters like Beth from Little Women. My rebellion in those years was to wear jeans and nondescript tops as often as possible and avoiding anything sparkly or animal print (very popular at the time) that might catch attention. College was a bit of a relief. Jeans and t-shirts were like a uniform for the late-rising, late-to-class, out late college student I was.

My guilty pleasure was then (high school), and still is, a nice suit and pretty pumps. They're a lot of effort, but there is no feeling quite like putting on a power suit and a pair of professional-looking pumps to make you feel like you can take on the world. This was the one area of clothing in which my mother and I had no arguments. She worked as the director of pharmacy for a hospital when I was really young and my dad tells stories of how he knew something big was going on because she'd put the power suit on rather than just an everyday suit. He says he always liked seeing her dressed like that. When he says that, you can see the pride he has in my mom. They're still really cute together, but going into that would take me even further off track than I already am.

What it all comes down to is this: I think my rebellion was rooted in my confidence. People can wear most things (within reason) if they only have the confidence to pull them off. David Bowie is a good example. I know I could never pull off the dramatic makeup and ensembles that he selects, but he makes them look good. I couldn't wear the rhinestone studded belts and animal prints of the 90s because I didn't have the confidence to wear my jeans well. Putting on a suit was a different story. I felt in my element. I felt confident. My suit could have been lime green with polka dots and I would have pulled that off better in high school than I did with jeans and a t-shirt. I think I've gotten better. My mom and sister have helped immensely, largely by slowing down with me, not pushing so hard and encouraging baby steps, like a basic blouse or skirt in an exciting color or an stylish, rarely trendy piece in a very muted color. I've gotten more and more confident about wearing colors, especially pink, and stretching myself into new styles that, while flattering, were once too chic (read: scary) for me to think I could wear. Well all of this was kind of a revelation last night when after a night shopping with my mom and little sister, I voluntarily purchased a safe royal purple cowl-neck sweater, a lovely safe pair of black suede flats with a leather bow on each which were accented with tiny metal studs (these would not have been safe for me in high school), and then 3 items that pleasantly surprised me in how much I was looking forward to wearing them:
1) a pair of knee-high boots that have a buckle around the ankle, another at mid-calf, and a third just below the knee at the top,
2) a pair of ankle boots, suede fold down with a stacked heel (I have always hated ankle boots, especially the fold down ones that just look like shoes with legwarmers from the 80s), and
3) a raspberry colored (read: hot pink) rain coat.

That's right. Two stylish, bordering on trendy pairs of boots and a HOT PINK raincoat.
And I'm thrilled about them. I think I'm more excited about those three purchases than I am about the safe sweater and black flats. I know I'm more confident, but this is kind of huge for me. HOT PINK. Seriously.

I'm not sure what has triggered this, but I hope it's a permanent thing. I like the idea of dressing pretty. Not particularly to stand out, but I don't like feeling like a slouch and I think how I dress really impacts how I feel. Maybe I should stretch myself more often. Maybe I should just shop with my mom and sister more often. Maybe I should just accept the fact that I'm fabulous and wear everything! =) Right. Yeah, I don't have that much narcissism in my system...I only have enough of that to keep a blog as if I have opinions that will be valued outside my little corner of the asylum. =) Well, back to work.

~Blue Skies~

Quote of the Day:
Well, there was this doggy. He was a very clever doggy. He said things like... like... "I would feel infinitely more comfortable in your presence if you would agree to treat gravity as a law, rather than one of a number of suggested options."
~Delirium describes her dog Barnabas, in SANDMAN #63: "The Kindly Ones:7"

Nov. 10th, 2010

Little Pink Sock


No this isn't an ego thing. I titled this entry "Denise-isms" as a tongue-in-cheek reference to the extensive number of -isms in existence. Doesn't seem to take much to qualify as an -ism, so I have created a list (living document type thing) that includes principles that have resurfaced so many times in my life that I want to share. I doubt I'm the first to come up with any of them, in fact I know I didn't come up with any of them. They've all existed in some form or another and I've just worded them to fit my personality. Remember, "if you don't like my principles, I have others"...well I will at some point.

(1) You win some you're not supposed to win and you lose some you're not supposed to lose; it all evens out in the end

(2) Almost everything in life is frogkissing, so expect warts

(3) If you're going to mess up, mess up with gusto

(4) Regret, resentment, and low self-esteem are each like peeing your pants, you're the only one who feels it.

New Life Goal: I want to be a Muppet (Jim Henson's).

Quote of the Day:
I can remember the title, author, and location of every book in this library, Matthew. Every book that's ever been dreamed. Every book that's ever been imagined. Every book that's ever been lost. Millions upon millions of them. That's what I remember. It's my job. Other things... I forget sometimes.
~Lucien in SANDMAN #57: "The Kindly Ones:1"

Dear Neil Gaiman

Dear Mr. Gaiman,

I finished Smoke and Mirrors around midnight, alone, in the dark. I decided to write this letter because I was unable to sleep due to the images from and overwhelming emotional reaction to the last story, your retelling of Snow White. I have voraciously read everything you have written that I can get my hands on, and this one story still caught me off guard. Your imagination and talent for twisting reality to border on the absurd fantasy without crossing the line has enchanted me. I would like to thank you for bringing me into the world of fantasy.

Prior to reading a book of yours recommended by my boyfriend at the time, now my husband, his favorite book, I avoided fantasy and most fiction, especially sci-fi, as uninteresting when compared to non-fiction. I found non-fiction more gratifying for my serious, left-brained sensibilities. I was 22 when I met Alan and he gave me a copy of Good Omens for our first Christmas before I came back to the US leaving him in Scotland. I read it over the phone to him when we would run out of things to say across five thousand miles but couldn't hang up the phone and break that fragile connection. Reading over the phone, for us, was like sitting in a room watching a movie together in silence, because watching a movie didn't have the same effect when you were sitting with a phone on a separate continent.

Anyway, Good Omens was delightful in so many ways and I can honestly say it has become one of my favorite books. To follow it up, Alan suggested, since I liked Good Omens so much, I read a Terry Pratchett book, so I ordered one. I couldn't get into it. It was well-written and imaginative, but I couldn't lose myself in the story and had a very hard time getting through the first few chapters.

During the time I was trying to read that book, I wandered through a bookshop looking for a book for Alan by David Gemmell and got distracted by the whole bottom shelf in the same section dominated by this ominous looking book called American Gods. I didn't recognize your name, but, on a whim, picked it up and read the blurb anyway. I was intrigued. I bought it, forgetting to look for Alan's book, and finished it in three days. I immediately went out and bought Neverwhere and then Anansi Boys. I couldn't get enough of your work. Smoke and Mirrors was a Christmas present from one of Alan's friends and Alan got me the first volume of The Sandman. I read the Graveyard book not too long ago and thought I wouldn't care for it, but it was enchanting and encouraged me to read Coraline which didn't disappoint.

I've never really thought I had a favorite author, just like I don't really have a favorite band or singer. There are songs and pieces of music and books that stick with me and I can label them favorites, but there isn't a band who produces nothing but music I like or a composer who has created only compositions I like. I wouldn't expect there to be. There definitely wasn't a writer that had been able to do that, but again, I never looked for or expected that. Then I was given Good Omens and American Gods. I can honestly say everything that you have written and I have read I have loved. It is with confidence I tell people you are my favorite author. It's nice to be so certain about something.

This letter turned into a fan letter without my notice. I only meant to praise "Snow, Glass, & Apples" for the way it truly haunted me and before I managed to successfully do that, I turned into a gushing fan-girl, spilling hordes of personal information I'm sure you don't really care about. My apologies, but my sincerest praise and thanks as well.

~Blue Skies~

Quote of the Day:
Well, there are these two people here, Sir. The man says he drank wine with you somewhere called Babylon, and the lady... she's making little frogs.
~The receptionist in SANDMAN #43: "Brief Lives:3"

New Idea

I know famous people have no time to read all the fan mail they get, let alone the official mail and bills they need to deal with.  At the same time there is a definite need I find myself faced with to give accolades or opinions on things I've seen or read.  So I think I'm going to start writing to these people who will never read them here on my livejournal. 

~Blue Skies~

Quote of the Day:
French is the language that turns dirt into romance.
~Stephen King

Jan. 9th, 2009

No Belly Rub

Unbearable Lightness of Being

So for some reason this guy, Tomas, is responding to this woman in a way completely contrary to his character and he doesn't understand why.  She shows up in Prague and he brings her into his house for the night only to find out she has nowhere to stay.  They pick up her suitcase [entirety of her life] and brings them both home. 

How had he come to make such a sudden decision when for nearly a fortnight he had wavered so much that he could not even bring himself to send a postcard asking her how she was?

He himself was surprised.  He had acted against his principles.  Ten years earlier, when he had divorced his wife, he celebrated the event the way others celebrate a marriage.  He understood he was not born to live side by side with any woman and could be fully himself only as a bachelor.  He tried to design his life in such a way that no woman could move in with a suitcase.  That was why his flat had only one bed.  Even though it was wide enough, Tomas would tell his mistresses that he was unable to fall asleep with anyone next to him, and drive them home after midnight.  Ad so it was not the flu that kept him from sleeping with Tereza on her first visit.  The first night he had slept in his large armchair, and the rest of that week he drove each night to the hospital, where he had a cot in his office.  

But this time he fell asleep by her side.  When he woke up the next morning, he found Tereza, who was still asleep, holding his hand.  Could they have been hand in hand all night?  It was hard to believe.

[another reference to the Moses analogy]

Tomas did not realize at the time that metaphors are dangerous.  Metaphors are not to be trifled with.  A single metaphor can give birth to love.

I like this section, because he doesn't know why he's responding to her the way he is, but he's just going with it.  I know there are times you're supposed to exert control over your primal urges and act with your head and not your heart, but how do you know when those times are?  How do you know when you're supposed to trust yourself [and, for some people, God] that what you feel is guiding you right?  Sometimes I'm convinced a guidebook for each individual life would be really helpful and very much appreciated in the long run. 

~Blue Skies~

Quote of the Day:
We used to think that if we knew one, we knew two, because one and one are two.  We find that we must learn a great deal more about 'and'.
~ Sir Arthur Eddington (The Harvest of a Quiet Eve)

Jan. 6th, 2009

No Belly Rub


My dance teacher is also a physics professor at UT...well, there are certain things I know we're privileged to hear because I doubt there is another highland dance class in the world taught by a university physics professor.

* vigorous shuffles
* orbital motion
* retrograde motion is the worst kind of sin
* she's a black belt - in reference to me wrapping my dance skirt out of my way so I could to a non-skirt dance
* I'm a cloistered academic
* I'm a cultural troglodyte
* mid-4th is found at 22 1/2 degrees - explaining a foot position to an 8 year old
* Always look for your proverbial diode lasers
* Push-ups can be fun, but half-points never are
* Breeding the next generation of perfect highland dancers is essential to the propagation of the species
* Sometimes you just have 'to take a squat'
* Only doink the floor, please
* Always bring two copies of music to events
* Everybody is somebody when you're someone else's barre
* You can be late for staff meeting if you get a call from Nature
* When Mike travels, we all get presents

I will have to add to this as we encounter more.

~Blue Skies~

Quote of the Moment:
I grew up in Europe, where the history comes from.
~ Eddie Izzard

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