Overheard

“Mom, my ears are full of fog.” (after driving up high in the canyons)

“Mom, when I turn 16, how do I ask a girl out on a date?” (oh my goodness…)

“Mom, do you think when I am as tall as Ben that I will be as handsome as I am now?” (and more, Buddy)

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Speak American, would ya?

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On occasion, I listen to midday programming on NPR if I’m out and about during my lunch hour. The other day I happened to catch a program on Talk of the Nation with the editor of a book titled How I Learned English. It was extremely fascinating to say the least. The book centers on prominent Latino Americans and the different methods they employed to master the English language. One storied example they shared was Congressman Jose Serrano who learned proper pronunciation and delivery of English by singing along with Frank Sinatra songs as he grew up in Puerto Rico.

As I listened to a variety of people calling into the program – Latino, Russian, what have you – to share their stories about how they learned to speak or master the English language, I was struck by the tenacity and the extreme discipline they displayed. Their study methods were unreal, driven by the desire to learn, to understand how they can communicate. One man called in saying he loved Moby Dick in Spanish. So, when he came to America, he bought Moby Dick in English as well as a Spanish-English dictionary and studied the two side by side until he understood it. How many people do you know take on a challenge in this way? And in case you’ve never read Moby Dick, the type of English Melville uses is difficult and profound. I would dare guess that most Americans wouldn’t understand half of what he writes because his word choice is elite, to say the least.

Call after call kept pouring into the program with personal experiences being shared. I was impressed by the dedication involved to learn a language we Americans feel that everyone else in the world should already speak. Too often I’ve seen people get frustrated with “foreigners” whose first language isn’t English, who make fun or somewhat patronize the person trying to communicate. I work in communications and I know how easily messages can be misconstrued but add on top of that the language barrier? It can be next to impossible.

Of course, not all native born Americans speak proper English anyway. Remember the Ebonics phase? “I be playing wit my dogs” or, have you ever listened to a rap or hip-hop song? Actually, it’s not just those genres of music. I shouldn’t pigeonhole them so much as they are already stereotyped into that category. But to be honest, they are not exactly “witty prose” either.

It’s become common, cool, and hip to speak in slang, and while it can be fun to have a conversation with more laid back verbiage, I think we’ve become too lazy to really learn how to speak well. I wish more Americans would have the same drive and persistence to master the English language as those for whom English is a second language.  

Breakfast was free (almost)…but no more

My job has several little perks that I enjoy, some monetary and some more personal. Today we said goodbye to what has been an institution in our building for quite some time. Every other Monday, myself and my co-workers joyfully looked forward to the beginning of a new work week. Strange, right? Who looks forward to Monday mornings? What a sick, twisted place I must be embroiled in…but it’s quite the contrary. Every other Monday all employees would be treated to Breakfast for a Buck.

Yep, you heard me, a plate full of food for one measly dollar. I’m not talking cheap little items that you buy at other big name places i.e. McD’s or Burger King – hashbrowns, french toast sticks, or other items that are $1 a piece. We’re talking omelettes, pancakes, bacon, sausage, french toast, waffles, or sometimes we had food from around the world like fried bananas , crepes, or some green chili thing from Costa Rica (not a personal favorite). Actually, my favorite breakfast was the morning we had waffles, ice cream, and fresh fruit (sooooo good!). We were the envy of other sites outside of Utah, but alas, all good things must come to an end.

We’ve transferred quite a few people from my site and as such we’ve shrunk a bit in size. And when your company subsidizes the food they need the ROI of employees buying what’s being served. Not happening so much, I gotta say. So today was our final Breakast for a Buck only it was free for all employees. Everyone walked away with a couple of plates because you had your plate size waffle in one hand and your made-to-order omelette with bacon and sausage or whatever else you desired in the other. And drinks were on the house.

Sigh…I will miss the almost free food every other Monday. I guess my co-workers and I will have to go down to IKEA (not too far from us) for their 99 cent breakfast. But I bet it won’t be made to order.

Hearts were made to be broken…and mended again

I’ve posted a lot about relationships recently, questions about love, kissing, what have you. There’s so much to think about when you are involved in a relationship or you are contemplating a relationship or you just got out of a relationship. We are human beings, after all. We desire to be noticed, to be comforted, and to feel safe. Everyone wants to feel that they matter to somebody, that there is another person out there who finds joy in your happiness and with whom you can find solace in your sorrow. The essence of the human existence – to feel.

I found the following paragraph off of Olivia’s blog, Near-Life. It’s part of an essay entitled Joyas Voladoras (flying jewels), by Brian Doyle.

No living being is without interior liquid motion. We all churn inside.

So much held in a heart in a lifetime. So much held in a heart in a day, an hour, a moment. We are utterly open with no one, in the end — not mother and father, not wife or husband, not lover, not child, not friend. We open windows to each but we live alone in the house of the heart. Perhaps we must. Perhaps we could not bear to be so naked, for fear of a constantly harrowed heart. When young we think there will come one person who will savor and sustain us always; when we are older we know this is the dream of a child, that all hearts finally are bruised and scarred, scored and torn, repaired by time and will, patched by force of character, yet fragile and rickety forevermore, no matter how ferocious the defense and how many bricks you bring to the wall. You can brick up your heart as stout and tight and hard and cold and impregnable as you possibly can and down it comes in an instant, felled by a woman’s second glance, a child’s apple breath, the shatter of glass in the road, the words I have something to tell you, a cat with a broken spine dragging itself into the forest to die, the brush of your mother’s papery ancient hand in a thicket of your hair, the memory of your father’s voice early in the morning echoing from the kitchen where he is making pancakes for his children.

I love the second sentence at the top – “We all churn inside.” There are times when that churn is less apparent, less heady in experience. And there are those days when the churning sends waves through your entire body. But what I love about that brief paragraph is that it exposes the vulnerability in all of us. The fact that the possibility exists to have our heart touched when we least expect it. 

Such a beautiful essay and it’s in a book I’ve heard of (through my writing community) but which I have yet to buy. After reading this piece, I’m heading out to my local Borders or Barnes and Noble to pick it up.  

All kinds of handsome

*brought over from my “other blog”

All I have to say is this picture is one of the reasons why I have always thought that Paul Newman was one of the most handsome and ruggedly sexy men ever. Something about this picture just makes my heart all a flutter. I found it off of The Sartorialist’s blog (it’s a fashion blog I frequent every now and then). He states that it is one of the “most shockingly perfect covers ever” and I quite agree. So for all the ladies out there, I am posting this dashing pic to make you smile and sigh.

I just remembered a little story about Paul Newman that I should definitely share, considering as how I just stated how beautiful he is. Mr. N is quite famous for his charitable good deeds and amazing line of organic products. My family enjoys his balsamic vinaigrette dressing at our Sunday dinners from time to time. One Sunday, it was missing from our table and my darling sister Katie asked, “Where’s that really good dressing? You know, the Old Man Swanson or whatever it’s called.” Old Man Swanson…I’m sure Paul Newman would enjoy hearing he has a new title that demotes his status of gorgeous human being to “some guy on a bottle”. It was quite funny and still to this day, we refer to Newmans Own as Old Man Swanson.

Filling in space

I have been in my home for almost two years and I still feel like I am way behind in decorating. I’ve done some painting (check), hung several pictures (check), but I am lacking cohesive furnishings which I need to fill my desperate desire for that “homey” feel. I’ve spent countless minutes (possibly hours) devouring Pottery Barn, IKEA, and Bombay Company catalogs. I make up lists of the items I would like to have and then throw my hands up in exasperation when I look at the grand total.

“Sheesh! I need to start dating that rich 60 year old again!” I think to myself. No! Surely, I jest. It would take a lot more – I’m talking A LOT more – to make me ever consider dating Corvette man again. I’m thinking something like a face transplant with this other guy I like, a body transplant with The Rock, and I’d have to age him backwards about 25 years or so…but I digress. I was talking about furniture.

Anyway, for those of us in Utah, we can somewhat satisfy our PB cravings with our local outlet distributor Downeast Home. They often have seconds or partially damaged merchandise from well known stores. But it can be hit and miss with them – and still sometimes their prices make my eyebrows raise just a hair.

I search online a bit to get ideas from different stores to again daydream about what I would like to have if I 1) had more space and 2) had more disposable income. So purely for kicks, below are some items that are kind of fun, funky, and downright desirable.

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Okay, this is sort of futuristic which isn’t really my style. But this chair from Finland makes me smile. Partly because it reminds me of Men in Black (remember the test he takes?) and partly for it’s dorky Mork and Mindy inferences. But it’s one of those items I would have in a rec room if I had an extra $6,000 to spare…for a rec room piece. You can buy it if you really like it at myownspace.

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I LOVE this idea! Using shutters to create a bookshelf – makes it something of a conversation piece and livens up a boring bookcase. This is one of those items where I think, ‘Hmm, I could make that; I don’t need to buy it!’ And then I never make it. But I’m always so sure I could…Visit Maison Reve for a closer look.

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Okay, how much do I adore this sofa? Let me count the ways…First off, it’s called a Fainting Sofa and all I can imagine is coming home from a stressful day at work and literally “fainting” on to my velvety soft sofa. Second, it’s apple green – sweet! Third, it’s at one of my favorite stores, Urban Outfitters. That store is a place where design is hip, fresh, and a little off-the-wall. It’s a cross between modern and vintage. Sounds paradoxical, I know, but it seriously is one of most interesting sites to browse through and if you have never checked them out, take a look-sy.

Her last year of being a teenager

als-birthday-and-more-004.jpgToday is my baby sister Allison’s birthday and she is embarking on that ever-so-precious year of 19. For some reason, I never liked to tell people I was 19 – I always said I was 20 because it just sounded older. I didn’t like still being considered a teenager. But Al, all I can say is enjoy it! I can’t believe I’m not 19 anymore…sort of.So, to my sister on her banner birthday, I would like to dispense some sage advice. And as your older and much wiser sister, I’m sure these gems, nay, pearls of wisdom will ring true for years to come.

  • Plan a big trip with your best friends – my first big trip (translation – out of Utah) with my girlfriends was when I turned 19
  • Don’t be afraid to try something new – I auditioned for my first play (beyond high school) at 19
  • Set a goal to run your first 5K (I know you can do it!)
  • You are great at satire – keep writing and never stop
  • Study abroad – I was 19 when I went to Paris and all I can say is that you learn so much about yourself in a foreign country and it will be something you will look back on for years to come; DO IT!!
  • Never think you are not talented enough, not smart enough, or not pretty enough – you have all these and more in spades and the only reason why others would want to put you down is because they are jealous of what you are
  • Enjoy your family – even though we may bug the heck out of you at times, mainly because you’re the baby, we love you dearly and will be there forever for you
  • Plan early for your wedding next year since all of your older sisters got married at 20 – HA! Instead, plan to be addressing the 5th bullet I listed…

Love you, Allison!

Ego, dear ego, you must be fed

I was reminded by a friend today of a site that I used to frequent a lot when it was first launched in 2000. I was working at the hospital when one of the registrars started talking about a site called Hot or Not. Yes, I can already hear the twitters and giggles starting. You know what this is! I remember the registrar, let’s call her Candy (you can take whatever implications you want from that pseudo name), well she began to explain what this site was.

“Oh my gosh, it’s like sooo cool! You can totally find out if people think you’re cute or not. And the best part is that there are all these uglies who think they’re hot, but they’re so totally not. I mean, like, totally, it’s the most awesome site EVER!!!”

And then she did a backflip and pulled a hurkey. No, just kidding, but her bobbing blonde head was excitedly pumping so hard I thought it might detach from her tiny spine.

“So, what do you do? You have to post your picture on the net?”

“Yes! And make sure you put the hottest picture you have on it so that your rating will be high. It’s totally embarassing if like, you’re rating is less than 8 – ew! I would absolutely die if I thought for one second I would be considered…average.” (said with a shudder)

“Did you already put yours up?” Stupid question, I know. Of course she already put it up and she wouldn’t be promoting it so heavily if in fact she wasn’t considered a “10”.

“I had my friend Heather (doesn’t everybody have a friend named Heather?) take my picture, like, 100 times or something with her boyfriend Steve’s new digital camera. It’s way cool, it has, like, 2 megapixels or something like that that makes me look twice as good. Steve’s friend Jason helped me pick out the one he thought looked the hottest, and then I asked Courtney, Sarah, and Josie their opinion too.”

“Uh huh…sorry, I got bored by your story for a minute there. What’s your rating?”

“OH MY GOSH, like I am totally a 9.7!!! Isn’t that so cool!?! And something like, ten thousand people have voted on me already.” I checked a few minutes later online – not 10,000, more like 1,000. That’s okay, Candy was  never good with decimals and things like commas, grammar, and syntax. That’s why she only dealt with people’s money when they came in for their surgery.

I have to admit with some amount of shame that it turned into a guilty pleasure for awhile. It was kind of fun scouring pages and pages of headshots/snapshots of people wanting to know “Do you think I’m hot or not?” Mainly because you would have been able to often hear me scoff, “Oh please! He thinks he’s hot? Whatever!” It was addicting –  passing down judgement without really being held accountable for what you were saying. “I dub thee hot…er, semi-hot. On a scale of 1-10, you are somewhere between a 6 and a 7.” Honestly…don’t most of us already know the answer to that ever prevailing hotness question? 🙂 Yet like most things in life (and by things, I mean celebrities), we need the ever constant approval of peers. I need to know! Am I hot or not??

Did I ever post my pic? Well, that’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? Of course, should you feel inclined to have your pretty face plastered in cyberspace for all to vote upon (Please, PLEASE tell me I’m BEAUTIFUL!), I’ve given the perfect outlet in which to satisfy your ego’s demands. Just don’t expect me to vote on you.

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“The pursuit of beauty is much more dangerous nonsense than the pursuit of truth or goodness, because it affords a stronger temptation to the ego.”
Northrop Frye

Manchester City wins again

*brought over from my “other blog”

Yesterday was Caden’s third soccer game with his new competition team, Manchester City (it’s English – the asst coach is from England). It’s a lot of fun to watch these kids play because they are really starting to learn great skills – passing, running up the line while dribbling, and more accurate shots on goal. I like Caden playing with this group because it is definitely challenging him to be better. On all the other teams he has been on, he was typically what you might call the “best” kid – scored almost all the goals and sort of dominated the field. I would say that on his current team of 8 kids, he is in the bottom half skill level-wise. Of course, he is the youngest on his team by six months.

I’ve been trying to encourage Caden to push himself harder – for once in his life he is not the most aggressive kid on the team. He hangs back just a bit and I know part of that stems from the frustration he has that he is not the “go-to” kid. When he is not the best at something, he gets easily frustrated and doesn’t try as hard (something that drives me crazy). This team is a good opportunity for him to learn and grow and I’m trying my best to encourage him in that aspect. One thing he is very good at is accuracy of shooting on the goal – he knows how to aim. He scored a goal yesterday (he was close on two others) and a goal last week. It’s fun to watch him develop his atheletic skills in this “competitive” league (as competitive as 7-8 yr olds can get!).

Just as a side note, each week the team does something fun as sort of a unifier with the group. This week it was blue hair dye, last week it was bandanas, and the first week it was mohawks. What a great idea from the coach! It gets the kids psyched up for the game.

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Kiss and tell

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I’ve had this thought itching my brain for the past several weeks, more so in the past week, and I just have to get it out there – how much do you weigh your first kiss on being a significant indicator of the success of a relationship? I really honestly want to know what people think about this.

Do you expect the ground to move when your lips touch? Maybe perhaps you’d like to feel dizzy, faint, or suffer heart palpitations? I don’t know…I used to think this was mainly a “girly” notion, the passionate embrace of nascent love acting as if it were a crystal ball. I think we put too much pressure on ourselves at time. And I also think this creates an unwarranted height of expectation.

I am the first to admit that I am something of a romantic idealist. I know that for some people “love at first sight” (which honestly, people, means that you were HIGHLY attracted to each other) may be the best description of how their relationship worked out. Sometimes you can just click with someone from the get-go and the cogs of your relationship wheel intersect nicely. For others, it’s a bit more hit and miss. One person will develop feelings faster than the other and the seesaw that can be relationship hell ensues.

But back to kissing. I am highly in favor it. I’m just curious how many people knew they had met their “soul mate” based on a first kiss. I know a few individuals (and you know who you are) who have had somewhat less than stellar first kisses…and then they ended up marrying these jokers – er, I mean, delightful human beings. I’m assuming you all got better at it as the relationship went along (but please, no details are needed – I value my intact digestive system as it currently feels today).

So come on, smoochers – it’s time to kiss and tell.