Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Life’s little listy

I’ve been a list maker all my life. Grocery list, honey-do list, what-to-pack-on-my-trip list, birthday-party list, hell I even make errands-to-run lists. A former partner called them my “little listies.”

My list is purposeful, meant to keep me on track. It delivers a clear outline of what I need
and what to do, with a glance. It is NOT a primer for journalism.

Hold on, what? Yes, journalism. 

Lately I’m overwhelmed but the number of articles I read that are actually a regurgitated, or worse, opinion-based list. 

Even my beloved NPR has fallen into the pseudo list category, theirs with a fancy video and infographic, of course.

When I discuss with my journalist friends the state of the current media (abysmal!) we tend to agree that the 24/7 news cycle may be one of the worst thing that has ever happened to news. We simply cannot fill the need to consume. So the industry has resorted to the most base, useless writing tactic: the little listy.

Gone is research, investigation, interviewing, craft and editing. Instead you have a list that when put into practical use means you spend most of your day making a list, exercising, getting good sleep, meditating, shopping at the farmers market, clipping coupons, surrounding yourself with POSITIVE people ONLY and staring deeply in your children’s eyes so they can see you hear their needs.

Another triumph for shitty journalism.

That’s not to say that I don’t read anything meaningful any more. I do. The interview with Gary Oldman in Playboy magazine was great! But it was because of Gary Oldman, not the interviewer.

And I continue my love affair with Pope Francis.

Oh and yes, there is a list for him also. “10 Things to Remember When Pope Francis Upsets You.” 

I’ve dedicated to two things in my life recently: less social media and more personal engagement. I’m adding to that list, "don’t read stories that are just lists."

I’ve read that one of the habits of highly successful people is that they make lists. Know where I read that? Yep, on a list. 

Here’s a list of some of the traits of successful people, just in case you were wondering.

Or just in case, try this one.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Love’s Labor is Not Lost

It’s been two years since my granny passed away. It’s funny how time moves so fast while we seem to trudge through it. Two years gone. How many years before that lost to Alzheimers? Too many.

I had a particularly close relationship with my grandparents. I practically lived with them as a child, then I did live with them my first year in college. After my granddad passed away, I again lived with granny until I was married.

After she was gone, I started thinking about the things I wish I had of hers. When she was alive, I felt it was grotesque to take her things. Like she would somehow snap out of dementia and need them all again. Now I wish I had just a few.
One in particular was an old metal glider that sat on the back patio. She and grandpa would drink coffee, smoke cigarettes and glide every morning. After he passed away, she could be found there often – sitting on his side – smoking, drinking coffee and gliding.

She sat there while grandbabies played in the small pool at her feet. She sat there in the evenings a few times when she had wine. I joined her there for her afternoon smoke in the summer when I came home from class before I zipped off to work.
And always, we would glide.

For my 40th birthday, I asked my mom for one present, this rusty old glider. It was not granny’s, but it is reminiscent enough to fill my needs.

It was a weekend’s labor to sand, strip, paint and finish it. (That whole "lead-based paint thing".. yeah.)

My goal was not only to have a reminder, but a place holder for the next generation. I want my family to sit next to me and glide while I drink my coffee every morning, talk about my tomatoes or read my book in the sunshine.

I need my son to find his spot on the glider. And maybe when I'm gone, he will take this piece of me to his house for his children and grandchildren to remember. 

It was a labor of love, but it was worth it to replace a small piece of her that was lost. 

Friday, April 04, 2014

Lyrical Note Poetry

When I was in high school, then later college, I learned the lost art of shorthand. It’s a skill I used to take notes in class, during my time as a reporter and has followed me to every communications job thereafter.

While I rarely use the technique any more, I’m a still a prodigious note taker. All meetings, events, training, parent-teach conferences -- even church – will find me with a notebook, back of a flyer or spare grocery receipt taking my notes.

I also listen to music when I write, which is pretty much all day long. Combine those two and I will regularly jot down song lyrics as they strike me.

This week I went through my notebook sorting notes and adding them to the various project folders. As I went I transcribed every song lyric. The result is a very loving, pseudo-stalker-but-with-loving-intentions poem.
Love, love is something I believe in
I’ve seen her walking home alone,
Get back temptation
Do you know who you really are, are you sure it’s really you?
Come away little lamb come away to the slaughter,
To the ones appointed to see this through.
Lay me down, let me go
I'm feeling heavy, the ground is cold
Pardon me for being so cruel,
But the general consensus, you see, is that I fucking rule
I’m looking right at the other half of me
The vacancy that sat in my heart
Is a space that now you hold
She got that good love, she give it just to me
Oh what a lovely day, breaking the chains of love
Hoping you won’t find a new love
Cause I know baby, you’re mine

In addition I also found some very unprofessional comments I made to myself. I’m sure myself agreed with them all.
  • “This looks really basic and a waste of time for us."
  •  “Why no water on the table? Lame!”
  •  “I hate her.”
  • “Why does she wear so much make up?”

Monday, March 24, 2014

The TSA, also known as This Sucks Ass

I’ve had occasion to fly frequently of late. And here is one thing I’ve learned: there is no elegance to flying.

When I say elegance, it’s not so much in reference to beauty or craft but more into the humble human need to preserve some dignity.

There is no dignity in air travel.

Before you even set foot in a plane, your identity is called into question at least twice, your half-stripped of clothing, wandering barefoot on carpet that hasn’t seen a vacuum since 1982 and God forbid the x-ray finds something circumspect in that carry on.

“Why yes, semi-literate TSA agent, that’s three days-worth of already-worn panties in that pocket. Thongs. Not even big enough to tuck a bomb into, so how about you close that up now?

Oh that? It’s an EPI pen. So I don’t die from anaphylactic shock. Shall I stick in your neck and see if it works? No? Such a shame.”

Assuming you aren’t arrested, finger probed, boob patted or otherwise molested, you
move onto your next humiliation to stand in line next to your number like a good little girl.

Skinny aisle, tiny seat, overhead bins made for 6 foot tall people only. Leg room? Pshaw! Kindergarten-sized drinking cups but still pay $8 for a glass of wine (really??) and peanuts meant for small chimps. 

Dignity not included.

I am not na├»ve. I lived in this country before and after 9/11. I understand the emotional toll that placed on air travel. I expect reasonable security measures -- or even unreasonable ones -- if it prevents that from ever happening again. But I must question how my stiletto heels can be used to hide a hypodermic needle (yes, it’s been suggested) and how my travel-sized fingernail clippers -- which barely clip nails – represent a deadly weapon. Or maybe I should be flattered that my appearance obviously provokes fear and images of James Bondesque-techniques that turn a harmless pair of tweezers into an instrument of death.

Either way, I think, by way of compromise for the benefit of air safety measures, the booze should be free. At least then when my dignity is gone due to drunkenness, I can say it was absolutely my heels that made me do it. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Live like the Pope, and other resolutions for 2014

Yes, this is a little behind. I have been happily jumping into 2014 and not thinking much about resolving to do anything other than embrace it with both arms. But since I have thought a lot about this post already, might as well crack on with it.

Historically my resolutions focus less on “stop” and more on “do.” In the past I’ve resolved to read all the Pulitzer Prize winners, in which I learned I loathe the works of William Faulkner with a passion. I vowed to write more fiction, write more on this blog (yeah about that..), I volunteered, learned to salsa, took a burlesque class, aerial acrobatics class, ran a 5k and found a fond joy for running. You get the gist.

The past year was full of some amazing emotional ups and downs. I went into December with little desire to write any resolutions. Then I saw this little list of the Pope Francis's New Year’s resolutions.

I am not Catholic, but I have to admit that I dig this Pope like crazy. He is what I imagined Jesus meant for his followers: a kind, considerate, loving human being. He doesn’t position himself as infallible. But a man who embraces his fallacies and looks for ways to be a better human being to all the other fucked up human beings who live on this planet.

Since I read that list, I’ve also seen his comments on breastfeeding babies in public. I’ve been to the Sistine Chapel. I would applaud a few more lactating mommies in that beautiful room.
Then there are his thoughts on gays and women in the church. There still much, much more room for progress, but rock on.

So this year I resolved to adopt the Pope’s resolutions. Less malice, more love. Less things, more thought. Less anxiety, more thankful. And above all more happy. Those seem like damn good resolutions to me.

I’m happy to say the year ended on such a high note, it still takes my breath away. But more about that later. Until then, Live Like the Pope (LLP) is a pretty good mantra for 2014. 

Friday, December 06, 2013

I’ll never kiss and tell … (you to fuck off)

Apparently this blog is becoming a dating blog.

Who knew it would be this difficult? Raise your hand so I can slap you for not warning me.

The trick of online dating is patience. Not my strongest skill set. I have slogged through for a few weeks now. As my friend KH will attest, I swear to delete my profile every few days. And then I’ll get a bite and string it on a little longer.

I’ve had some really crummy dates, including one guy who was the real-life version of Flanders from the Simpsons. He was soooo boring. I knew we were doomed when he showed me the pic of his newest toy train.

Moving on.

Recently had a lovely exchange, followed by a date with someone I really liked. There was chemistry. Laughing. Lingering. Smooching.

Wait …. what? Oh yes. I smooched him. It was the bingo round, people, and I thought I had a coverall.

Then I never heard from him again.


I’m usually pretty good at reading people, especially when they are into me. I like me, you obviously like me, this could go someplace nice.

After our date, I e-mailed to share my enjoyment of the evening. Crickets.

Oh hell no.

For a second, I understand why women can go nuts. I know enough about him to make him uncomfortable.

The difference between myself and the really crazy bitches, is that I think about it, but that’s as far as it goes.

But fellas, let me say, this is WHY we are crazy. And you have no one but yourself to blame.

Meeting my next potential stalking subject for lunch today. I’ll let you know how it goes. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I am gonna LOL the shit out of you

I’m not one to mince words, as a rule. If I don’t like something, chances are I will tell you, along with exactly why I hate said thing, and subsequently you for doing said thing. I may have been called blunt a time a two.

For example, I really don’t like air quotes when used in the wrong context. If it’s LITERALLY on fire, don’t air quote it. If his dance moves are FIGURATIVELY “on fire” then I wish your fingers well as they flail through the air like some kind of physical Tourette’s.

Unfortunately, when on a date for the very first time, I've tried to temper my bluntness. I opt for biting my tongue or the inside of my mouth until it bleeds because I want to verbally throttle this person so badly -- but hey, we’re on a date. (whee)

So I find myself exchanging e-mail with a grown man who is an LOLer. Yes, this is on my list. You are not a 13-year old girl. And if you are laughing out loud that often, then you probably have the real Tourette’s and we aren’t going to work out any way.

After I stewed over the first few LOLs in my e-mail, I decided to let it go because I was
“trying to date people.”


When we finally met in person, he actually used the acronym LOL in a conversation. Really?? Because just laughing would have been misconstrued?

Cheek bleed.

I couldn’t stand it, so I made a smart ass quip. Coffee didn’t last much longer past that.

When I left I felt bad. I should watch my mouth. I should not be so blunt. I should allow people their quirks.

Or, I should … just be myself.

Here is a personality trait of mine. I mask some of who I really am at first and set an expectation that is unrealistic. It’s happened before. I promised myself it would not happen this time. So I’m not sorry I busted his chops. I should have a partner who can roll with the real Michele, not the introductory nice one.

Because “Michele” and “nice” are not always “synonymous.” (This is where you would LOL.)