Tuesday, August 03, 2010
politicians, zombies & other treasures

My first day off in two weeks. I head for the bookstore. I love the bookstore. The one closest to me happens to be Books-a-Million. I can't decide if I like the name or not. What I do enjoy is wandering about hoping to find a treasure. I left with a bag; although I'm not sure any of my choices could be considered treasures. Unless you count the pen with the light up Skull on it. You hit it on the counter and multi-colored lights flash for a minute. It writes and it's fun banging on every hard surface I encounter.

As I was meandering I found myself making mental notes of some of the titles. Did you know there is actually a book called "Freemasons for Dummies"? True story. And another one called "The 48 Laws of Power". You can also get "Zen Meditation Balls" (complete with chime balls and a pouch. And, while we're in the philosophy section, no library would be complete without "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance".

Here's another beauty: "If You Meet the Budha on the Road, Kill Him" and for some reason "Freedom from the Known" made me laugh out loud. There's probably some deep seated meaning behind my mirth and I'm fairly certain there's a book ready to explain it fully. I decided to check. I didn't find anything. I did think a book called "Questions to Cheer You Up" sounded promising. Nothing like being relentlessly grilled to elevate your mood. Then I discovered it actually said "Quotations" rather than "Questions". Not nearly as entertaining so I moved on.

Perhaps the History section would prove interesting. I found "World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War". See what you miss when you go to school in a small, southern town? And who could boast being well read without "Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Plunges into Ohio", just one in from Uncle John's Bathroom Reader series?

For you self-helpers out there, there's "The Four Hour Work Week", "How Not to Act Old: 285 Ways to Pass for Phat, Sick, Hot, Dope, Awesome, or at Least Not Totally Lame" and "People are Idiots and I Can Prove It" although I have my doubts about how helpful this last one may be.

I originally went in looking for a book about food. In that aisle I found "Soaked, Slathered and Seasoned" and looked up to make sure I was still in the cooking section. There was "I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti", that one put a giggle in my grin until I found "Babycakes: Vegan, Gluten-Free, and (Mostly) Sugar-Free Recipes". I didn't even get past the title on that one. To that I say Why bother? One, however, that did get my attention was "In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto". My enthusiastic "RIGHT ON!" caught the attention of a nearby employee so I put the book down and looked around to see who was making all the noise.

On my way to the register I made a cursory run through the politics aisle. Now, there's some entertaining reading. I found "What in the World is Going On", "Catastrophe", "Windy City", (I expected this one to be about Washington, D.C. - it wasn't), "The Swamp", "Pay to Play", and one I ALMOST bought, "Why Women Should Rule the World". Interesting how the titles seem to mimic how I feel about politics and politicians at present.

I bought 5 books. Tonight I'll be cuddling with "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies - The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!"

And I said I didn't find any treasures.

Posted at 1:49 am by the_scribbler
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Tuesday, November 17, 2009
finding a home...

When I first discovered online social networks, I stumbled upon LiveVideo. I had never made a video, been on any kind of social network, or been involved in any kind of community that consisted of people from all over the world. The internet opened my eyes to people, places and ideas that were previously only imagined.

For a couple of years, LiveVideo thrived with a growing community of people that came together and shared their lives and talents with each other. It really was almost magical for someone new to the experience. I learned some new skills, enjoyed amazing and creative talents of people I would soon begin to call my friends.

As all things do, online and in real life, LiveVideo changed and evolved into something that made many of us a bit sad. The functionality and atmosphere changed and many scattered in the wind. Many of us landed at Vloggerheads along with folks from other sites. We made some new friends. Some settled in nicely, fitting in and feeling quite at home. The community was a bit smaller, the focus a bit more esoteric.

Perhaps it was growing pains, but VH never felt like home to me. I always felt a little displaced. Not because the people weren't friendly and welcoming, but (I suspect), because it wasn't LiveVideo. I've always been pretty adaptable but in the case of vloggerheads I felt like being adaptable meant changing my personal purpose for being involved in a social network in the first place. It's a fun place. Many of the people are quite remarkable. It just isn't a great fit.

So, here I am. Trying out a new site that will take me months to figure out, find new blogs to read, blah, blah, blah. I found this site through my friend Shawny so I'm not here alone.

Don't get me wrong. I don't mind being alone. I have discovered however, that I need inspiration, and that has always come from the talents, camaraderie and encouragement of my friends. Without it, my split apart has the enormous responsibility to spark my imagination, spur memories, and anything else that prods my fingers to the keyboard.

I get inspiration on my own too of course. All kinds of things inspire me or coax out musings and introspections. The creek running in back our our house reminds of my grandparent's home; The holidays always inspire me and remind me of childhood and family; looking at things from behind my camera works too; clients and co-workers of course, give me fodder. Sometimes, I can just sit down at the computer and thoughts spill onto the screen.

Hopefully, I have wandered into a friendly place that is a good fit too. Time will tell I suppose. I do find it telling that my prolificacy seems to be tied to the interaction it spawns. There's probably some subconcious message there that I'd rather not know. Now, I'm off to find some blogs to read.

Posted at 3:11 am by the_scribbler
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Sunday, November 15, 2009
Real Paper Dollars

I got a whole, real paper dollar for my fifth birthday. I was very excited. My dad was always generous with his change and I was quite fond of that too. You could buy a cherry or grape sucker for a nickel, or a piece of double bubble for a penny, or even a chocolate or two for somewhere in between. Sometimes, I would get candy cigarettes, wear my mother's shoes around the house and play “grown up”. That particular game led my mother to tell people that I was very pigeon toed as a child. I explained that she was mistaken, as I was only imitating how she walked in her high heeled shoes. This information was not received well for some reason.

We lived in a small house with a large tree in the front yard. My dad cut a piece of wood, drilled four holes where he could thread some sturdy rope and spent an afternoon tossing the rope up and over a branch to build me a swing that would become my first sanctuary. I spent many hours on that swing, dreaming of what I would be when I grew up, where I would live, who I would marry and what I would contribute to the world. (a stewardess or an actress or a singer, On the beach, a sailor prince, velcro) On that swing, all things were possible. I came up with many ideas for making the world a better place. One that I remember in particular was a very special glue. One that would glue my doll's arm back on and still enable it to move so she could hug me still and would motivate my mother to take her out the the big round trash barrel at the end of the driveway. It didn't matter that I had many other dolls that I loved just as much. The wounded one was the one I loved the most. I took my baby out of the trash and with her in one hand and her severed arm in the other, I marched back to the house with a mission. Mom, of course, caught me at the door. “We can fix her! I promised!” With as much patience as she could muster, mom explained that dolly's arm, could not be glued, sewed, stapled or pinned, shooting down every option a 5 year old could come up with. “I'll just hold it then.” With that, I went to the bathroom, got out a box of band-aids, and applied them as neatly as I could where her arm was supposed to be. Rather than argue with me, she just waited, hoping at some point I would forget the old ratty doll and move on to another one.

Every now and then, Mom would try to get rid of one toy or another that was no longer, in her eyes, worth keeping. I would catch her, retrieve my beloved stuffed bear with no eyes, Barbie missing a leg, clothes long lost, or armless doll. I would always pull them out of the trash. When she would try to convince me to let the toy go, I always said the same thing. “I promised!”

I don't remember if it was Christmas or my birthday, or just a time my dad came home and brought me a gift from his travels, but I got a new stuffed bear with a large ribbon around his neck. I was delighted. He was soft and his fur felt nice against my cheek. I hugged and squeezed him and whispered in his ear, “ I will take care of you. I will sing to you. I will be sweet to you. I will love you. I promise.”

At the age of five, a promise was sacred. You didn't make promises you couldn't keep. I used the phrase “I promise” like some people use “Thanks” or “Hello” or “I love you.” I expected the same loyalty from others as well. If someone promised me something, there was no doubt in my mind that it would be so. I believed what people told me. Their word was their bond. I did not know that sometimes people did not tell the truth. I did not know that sometimes, people would say things they didn't mean. I did not know that sometimes, people will say things just to get what they want. I wonder what happened. When did a promise become a bargaining chip, a tool of coercion, a meaningless idiom?

And why? Is it a commentary on the degradation of society? Have we become so debased that our word is no longer essential? Is it cultural? Do only some communities or societies suffer from this lack of verbal allegiance? Or, perhaps, it's the result of the age of technology. Instant gratification has spoiled us into thinking waiting is unnecessary. Possibly the fine line that exists between wants and needs has become so blurred that it's indiscernible. Or is it something much simpler than that? Maybe, as we become older, we use it so much that it becomes common place. We say “I promise” like we say “thanks” or “hello” without much thought to the meaning behind it. Whatever the reason, saying the words “I promise” doesn't mean what it used to.

But it can. :-)

Posted at 11:06 pm by the_scribbler
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Saturday, November 14, 2009
stars and uglies and the man in the moon

One of my earliest memories is laying in the front seat of the car and watching the street lights as they passed by the window. I remember thinking about how pretty they looked with their star burst tails stretching out like long fingers. I imagined they tickled and touched the stars. Even then I had a rather peculiar imagination, I suppose.

I had an interesting idea of the big dipper and the man in the moon too. Living in Corpus Christi with plenty of open space and mild weather, and before people were so poorly behaved, being outside after dark was pretty normal so these discussions came up quite readily. It has been suggested that people have always been despicable. We just didn’t know about it until the advent of cable. I don’t think so. It was a simpler time then. People knew their neighbors. Someone was nearly always home. Folks rarely locked their doors and always invited strangers having car trouble in to use the phone or have a glass of iced tea till they could find the jumper cables. It was a much simpler time.

By the time I was 8 years old, we had moved to Memphis where, because my last name started with a V, was promptly placed at a desk in the back of the room with the students whose names started with W’s and Y’s. I didn’t particularly like it in the back of the room. I wanted to be close to a window. Apparently, being the new kid did not afford me such a luxury in this city school.
Sometime during that year, my teacher called my parents in for a meeting. That could only mean one thing. I was in trouble. For what, I could not imagine but fear ran through my veins and my heart was pounding so hard I thought for sure it was going to bust right out. I wasn’t even invited to the meeting. I was pretty sure I was going to be grounded for some unknown offense for the rest of my life. I envisioned dishes and trash bags piled to the ceiling and my parents scowling because I was working hard or fast enough. Cinderella had nothin’ on me.
My parents came home from the meeting and oddly, didn’t say a word. The following week, however, I was kept out of school to go to see an optometrist. I didn’t know what that was but I was certain I was going to get a shot. I was taken into a dark room with a very large pair of binoculars on a swinging arm. My parents went in with me, thank goodness. I still did not know what I was in for but it had to be something bad. I asked if it was going to hurt. The doctor smiled and said “no. Put your chin here and read me those letters”. “What letters?” I asked. “Oh my! We DO have a problem!” he said. I figured the shot was coming. He flipped some clacky hoolydoos and suddenly before my eyes appeared the biggest letter E I had ever seen! The eye exam continued with the doctor asking a lot of questions I couldn’t really answer; “which is better…A or B?… 1 or 2?…A or B”? I got a little tired of the game. Turns out I couldn’t answer the questions because the letters didn’t look normal to me. At least, not the way I had gotten used to seeing them.

Finally, it was over. I was given a sucker, a pat on the head and some drops in my eyes but no shot. I kind of liked that part because I got to wear my mom’s sunglasses home. I fancied I looked like a movie star. A week passed and we went back to pick up the ugliest pair of brown tortoise shell rectangular glasses I had ever seen. No way was I going to wear those at school.

The very first thing I remember is walking like Paris Hilton. High stepping because the sidewalk was coming at me. I couldn’t find the curb either and decided it might be best to hang on to someone. On the way home we stopped at the store. Walking through the store, still holding on tight to my mother’s hand, I was amazed at what I could see! “Oh Mommy! Look at those cute little things in the ceiling!” She was not nearly as impressed with the sprinklers as I was for some reason.
My first day at school with my new glasses was pretty brutal. Amongst all the pointing and laughing and jeering, I had no choice but to wear them because the chalk board was just a large, green, blank screen without them. I could not wait to get home and hide in my room. I was grotesque with those stupid, ugly glasses and there was just no way around it. Give me the trash and dishes. I deserved them.
Later that night, once the sun had dipped below the horizon, my mom tapped on my door. Tempting me with lemonade, she led me out to the front porch where we sat on the steps. It was a clear, warm night and the fireflies were dancing around the yard to music only they could hear. Turning off the porch light and with a slight nod of the head, my mother urged me to look up. I could not believe my bespectacled eyes.
The entire sky lit up like Christmas lights. There was not one empty space. Clusters of gleaming light spanned all the way to the horizon and I saw stars for the first time in my life. We had to walk out into the yard to see the moon. It was high, bright and full. And, much to my surprise, it was round and smooth. It had always looked like a gray dandelion to me. I could see the dark lines from the craters and suddenly, the world made sense.
I saw the man in the moon.

Posted at 2:05 am by the_scribbler
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Friday, November 13, 2009
Elvis Has Left the Building

I answer questions on allexperts.com and recently had a question about how to achieve a haircut inspired by a 1968 Elvis. I answered the question and suggested to the questioner not to be surprised if he was met with some incredulity as we don't often get requests for hairstyles from 40 years ago. It reminded me of a client I had several years ago.

I was working in a small, privately owned salon and I was often the last one to leave. One night, shortly before locking the doors, a man dressed all in black, boots and sunglasses, (it was nearly 9:00 p.m.) and dyed black hair, came in and asked if I had time for one more. Of course I did. I asked his name. He quietly responded as though he were concerned someone would hear, "Elvis". I looked up to see if he was smirking and think I just caught him nervously looking as though he might have to run out the back when herds of screaming girls came running in. He wasn't smirking so as I put his name on the appointment book, I said, "Ok, whatever you say, but you're the third one today!" He still wasn't smirking.

While I was cutting his hair in fine Elvis form, he handed me a business card and asked if I often worked alone at night. Now he was getting a bit creepy. Before I had the chance to respond and tell him about the Transformer in the back folding towels, he explained that in the near future, he would be traveling with his entourage and they would need a place they could go at night to avoid the crowds. (Darn those screaming legions of crying, clothes ripping, pantie throwing, sweaty scarf loving girls!) Ahhh, I see. "Well, I suppose your schedule is quite busy. If you let me know ahead of time, I can arrange to accommodate you after closing. That way, your entourage will all have a place to sit." He still wasn't smirking but he did seem appreciative that I would be willing to help him out. I'm pretty sure he was expecting me to ask for an autograph, but if the guy can't at least laugh at my jokes, there's only so much I'm willing to do.

I managed to finish his hair cut without laughing out loud at how ridiculous he looked. He combed through it, scrutinized it from every angle, shook his head, smoothed his hair again and after a solid 5 minutes thanked me for being as good at my job as he was at his. He gave me an invitation so a show he was doing on a Saturday afternoon and told me to feel free to bring a guest. He left, I swept up all three hairs that I actually cut. I wasn't able to go because I work on Saturday afternoons and try as I might, I couldn't give those tickets away.  I never saw him (or his entourage) again.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Elvis has left the building.

Posted at 12:17 am by the_scribbler
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Rainbows and Water Sprinklers

It’s funny how certain things bring back memories. Sites, sounds, smells, words. Seemingly small things dust off the cobwebs that cloud our brains and transport us back in time. It happened to me today.

I heard the ice cream man. Well, not the man, the music. I heard it in the distance, getting gradually louder as it moved slowly up the street, most likely a couple of blocks away. Stopping from time to time, I can imagine children with grins spread widely across their faces waiting impatiently for their push pops, fudgesicles, and my favorite, rainbow pops. You know, the red, white and blue Popsicles that look like bombs. I was a flag waiver even then. It took me back to one summer in particular.

I was eight years old when my folks bought a brand new, never been lived in, 3 bedroom, ranch in Memphis. My mother had wall papered the living room with the idea that she would do the hallway too. She ran out of paper on the far side though so she cut the paper in a large zigzag design. It was white with pale pink and green design of some sort. Flowers probably. And I had a canopy bed and red carpet. It was magical!

It’s hot in the summer in Memphis and my friend, Lisa, who lived in the identical house across the street, and I were playing in my front yard with the sprinkler. It was one of those that waves back and forth and makes and arc and if you stand in just the right spot you can get rained on and see a rainbow at the same time. My mother toiled and sweat over that yard so the grass was as thick and plush and green as any I have ever seen. Not a weed to be found. It was soft and cool and we liked to lay in it and watch the clouds turn into designs. We lay in the grass for many hours that summer seeing castles, dragons, ballerinas, and balloons dance across the sky.

In the distance, in spite of our squeals of delight that little girls are known for, we heard it. The ice cream truck played a nursery rhyme I can’t quite put my finger on now, but I remember it sounded like bells clanking out the tune. We froze, stared at each other in astonishment, and squealed with delight again. Without another word, we both darted for the front doors of our respective homes. I don’t know exactly what transpired in Lisa’s house, but in mine, my news that the ice cream man was coming was not met with the same level of enthusiasm with which it was delivered. After being reminded, yet again, that money does not grow on trees, I realized that I was being denied! I didn’t know what that phrase meant but I did know that we would not be helping the ice cream man put any kids through college that day. I still hate both those phrases!

Apparently, Lisa got more of the same behind her front door. We met back on the curb. Sitting side by side, elbows on the knees and chins on the fists, we sat. Destined to watch as the ice cream man passed us slowly working his way out of the neighborhood, onto some other where the children’s parents must love them more. The truck got closer, the music got louder, taunting us with the occasional stops for other, luckier kids on the street. How could life be so unfair? To a couple of eight year olds, it was too much to bear. We sat on the curb, staring at the small pebbles and cracks on the new black pavement. It was soft because it was so hot and it smelled funny. As the ice cream man passed the truck slowed a bit. We looked up to tell him with great disappointment and embarrassment that we didn’t have any money that day and much to our surprise, a hand appeared out the window and several pieces of Double Bubble Bubble gum flew out the window and landed nearly in our laps! The truck sped back up to its normal crawl and made it’s way around the corner. My friend and I were again squealing with delight. The ice cream man had rescued our otherwise doomed summer afternoon. We quickly jumped up, deposited our treasures, some in our mouths and some in our pockets, and made our way through the cool, wet grass to the sprinkler. Giggling and dancing with delight, we forgot in a moment the injustice from behind our front doors and with one small token of kindness, when we stood in just the right spot, we found our rainbow.

Posted at 12:13 am by the_scribbler
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July 5th 1961  (Age 56)
Welcome to Scribblers Sanctuary.
The musings and introspections of an easily entertained girl.

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