Sunday, February 26, 2012

Of Date Nights and Diets

FryDaddy and I like to do "Big Date Night" on a regular basis and it had been a while.  So this weekend, we got ourselves all slicked up and headed to the closest Greater Metropolitan Area ("GMA") to attend a performance of Orff's Carmina Burana.  I was very much looking forward to it - I think it's a rich, robust, over-the-top piece that serves Date Night well.

Turns out this one took some work and some attitude adjusting.  Driving into the GMA is often an adventure due to ever ongoing roadwork and an odd predilection for travel lanes to become "oh, but you can park here during the day and this jackass hasn't moved their car yet" adventures in merging.  We were both a tad grumpy by the time we'd parked our car (in a garage, mind you.  Not on the street, which would have added to the merging problem.  Part of the solution, that's us).  But things were about to look up.  The venue turned out to be spacious and the staff welcoming.  Heavy pick-up snackerels were provided and you could even take your beverages into the performance hall.  We sat down front again and saw our friend who plays that wonderful composite viola.  There were a couple of bumps - people who used the front row to cut across to the other side of the theatre, one youngthing who didn't understand the rudeness of tweeting throughout the performance (really, chickie?  In the front row in full view of God and the performers?) and a quartet who came in and blundered past us - I kid you not - a half hour into a hourish show.  (On the plus side, they blocked my view of Text Girl, who was seriously annoying me.)


Carmina is best known for the opening piece, "O Fortuna" which went through quite a vogue in the 90s and is found in many a film soundtrack.  Here's a fun version mocking the lyrics of the piece, but I must admit to a fondness for the sheer "bigness" on it.  Carmina also features a nearly hysterically funny bit told from the point of view of a roasting swan (I know, but trust me - scroll down for the English translation of the lyrics) who is gifted with a pure tenor voice.

I enjoy having the opportunity to get dressed up and go out with  FryDaddy  - we both clean up pretty well, once you get shoes on  us.  Nevertheless, I was pleasantly stunned by the number of comments from strangers about my dress, hair and overall "non scaring of the horses."  It pointed out something I'd been feeling lately.  This will sound strange and odd, but such is the life of the contemporary American woman.

I'm just fine.

Really.  Just as I am.  While I'd like to see the scale's needle come to a stop at a number lower than the one it hovers on, I really am just peachy.  I'd like to continue to build on the better diet habits I've been developing over the past year - water and vegetables are my friends - but cupcakes aren't the enemy, either.  I like walking for exercise and it's fine if I stroll with the Spookster instead of feeling like we have to gogogo.

It's a new feeling, this sense of being okay with myself.  I think I'm going to explore it for a while.

Monday, February 20, 2012

If You Love 'em, Leash 'em!

I live within the city limits of a small town (population 21,000 or so) in a mostly rural area.  Within the city limits, there is a leash law for critters of the furry persuasion.  (I maintain that there ought to be leash law for some of the two-legged varmints who currently roam the streets with impunity, but this post isn't about them.  But they know who they are.)  This is a ordinance that is routinely ignored, which is a shame.  I've heard any number of excuses for it, but my least favorite has to be "I don't like to confine my dog.  He should run free."

Really, Jacko?  This isn't Elsa the Lioness we're talking about.  Dogs running free get into all sorts of trouble - some involving rabid raccoons, some involving eating rotten trash, some involving other people's property, and some much, much worse.  My beloved Spooky is a wonderful animal who has successfully raised a happy cat from kittenhood, but she's not especially street-smart.  I love to watch her stretch out and run and one of the flaws of my town is that there's not a dog park anywhere around, so I understand the desire to take her off-leash somewhere.


Life is a risky proposition and we're responsible for our four-legged ones, who don't always know what's good for them.  This weekend, the Spookster and I were enjoying the sunshine and strolling though the neighborhood, just watching the daffodils and commenting on the boldness of the squirrels when disaster struck.  An unleashed, no doubt loved, pet came running top speed toward us, barking fiercely.  He left his front yard, crossed into the road where WHAM! he ran smack into a passing car that was between us and the dog.  The car was going too fast (and didn't stop - a topic for another time) and the dog turned and ran back to its people, who were congregated in the driveway.  I'm screaming, Spooky's pulling at the leash, they're grouped around the other dog - a huge commotion.

I have no idea if the dog is okay or not.  (Let me emphasize the dog hit the car, not the other way around - the wheel did not go over the poor thing, but there's no way he wasn't hurt badly by the encounter.)  Here's the worst part - well, aside from that awful noise and the dog's yelp - the whole thing was avoidable.  Dogs don't understand boundaries.  And invisible fences don't always work and they NEVER work on a dog that doesn't have a collar on (a visitor's dog, for example).  Leashes DO work.  If you love your dog, please - use a leash.

So if you love your dog, or animals in general, or if you think our veterans often get a raw deal - please read the linked story and toss a buck or two toward Sadie's cause through PayPal.  (That's Sadie at the top of this post, by the way.)  The story contains an update - people are coming through for this vet and it's a great, a truly FANTASTIC, way to embody the concept of paying it forward.  Really - how often do you get a chance to make a difference like this with a couple clicks of a mouse?  It doesn't have to be much and you can say that you did more to support the troops than make "tsk, tsk" sounds.  If you can't do that, you could always drop off a couple of cans of food or some toys at the Humane Society of your town.  Tell 'em it's from Sadie.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Working on Joy

Yesterday, I did something crazy and nearly totally unlike me.  It was a radical departure from the norm.  Almost (but not quite) scary.

I took the day off.

Well, mostly.  I took care of a couple of work & house things, but then had a conversation with FryDaddy who  came home a little early from school this week.  Some class cancellations that were announced in advance, a little working ahead, and a little planning made this possible for him.  For me, it was a regular work week, which (to be honest with you) stunk like very bad meat or very good cheese.  I do not intend to let this happen again - a subject that will be revisited in April, so stay tuned.

At any rate, I decided (and was supported in my decision by my unindicted co-conspirator) to just stop for the rest of the day.  We had already made some plans for the day and joyfully made some others to add to the existing ones.  The funny thing is, our plans didn't quite work out - the show we had arranged to see was just a hot plate of awful, dinner involved a bit of a wait for seats at the kitchen bar (we'd still be waiting if we had insisted on a table), and the movie was meh, despite the Oscar buzz.

So what?

We were in it together.  And, lo, it was good.

It'd be nice if we didn't have to plan to have fun and it'd be nice if I didn't feel like I was getting away with something by not being hooked into work so much of the time when I'm not in the office.  But life is.  I'm not sure what comes after the verb there, but yesterday was a mess o' fun and I'm convinced that's not a bad thing. Yeah, it'd be nice if I didn't have to work on joy, but it'd be much worse if I thought that because I do have to work on it, that I just shouldn't bother.

Joseph Campbell had it mostly right - following your bliss is a good and noble thing, but first you have to take the time to look for it.  And that's not usually done hunched over a computer keyboard checking course assignments.  Ibsen's Nora was right - while there are duties and responsibilities that we have toward others, there are also duties and responsibilities to oneself and those have to be answered to as well.

Now go play!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Coming Back from Crazy

I have not withdrawn into despair, 
I did not go mad in gathering honey
I did not go mad
I did not go mad
I did not go mad.
                                               -- Hoda Al-Namani

I haven't written in longer than normal.  That's not the pattern here at the Nest and I hope it doesn't become the pattern.  Generally, I post here weekly, but the last two weeks have been unusual-to-bizarre.  I don't want to go into detail on that, so let's just leave it at this.  

I've been crazy.

Not dangerous, "homicidal maniac" crazy, but not the whimsical, "oh, let's splash barefoot in the fountain" sort either.  I was beyond the limits of merely stressed out and lurching seriously toward Froot Loop territory.  You know that land - it's where nothing works quite right and you can't see any way through the stone wall in your path other than to batter your head bloody against it.  (Gentle hint - see if you can go up and over it, or consider digging.  Or - here's an idea! - look for a door.)  At any rate, it wasn't pretty and I'm glad it's (apparently) over.  

I've been a Froot Loop before.  There are just some things in life that I seem flat-out destined to have to learn over and over.  I include those lessons here so that, hopefully, some kind of good can come from my trip to the borders of Crack-Up Land.
  • People have free will and, as such, will not do what you want them to do if it conflicts with what they want to do.  
  • When technology doesn't work, try it a second time.  Then read the directions and try a third time.  But at that point, if it doesn't work, call a professional and walk away from it!!
  • It's okay to not know everything about anything, much less everything about everything.
  • Not every obstacle in your path was put there by the Universe specifically to vex you.
  • Try to be patient and that includes treating yourself with compassion.
  • To wit, healthy eating and exercise habits are good, but when you feel like the only activity you're up for is to curl up in your rattiest pajamas and cry soundlessly, get ice cream.  Stat.
  • Music is a balm to the ruffled soul and if other people don't share your tastes, shut the door and crank it up.  Personally, I find Earth, Wind & Fire to be useful in these times, but if Zamfir, Master of the Pan Flute is your thing, peace be upon you.
  • It's not as bad as it seems.  And you really don't have to take it so seriously.
  • No matter how frustrated and angry you become when the Universe persists in acting with total indifference to your whims, never act in such a way as to scare small children or animals.  They don't get that you're not actually nuts.
  • No matter what it is, be it tech that won't work or the Twilight craze, this too shall pass.
True, I did not go mad.  But if I'd remembered these things, I probably could have gotten saner earlier and I know I'd have been considerably easier to live with.