Thursday, January 27, 2011


I am enjoying the quiet of my life this week.

Last week I whirled through the unusual. Teaching, writing for a deadline, interviewing and being interviewed for a class, going away without the kids for a food/shopping weekend with my mom and sister: four things that are not regular parts of my schedule, piled onto the usual. Something had to give.

My priorities shook out as follows:
1) My husband wanted to stay home Saturday. This meant grocery shopping for husband-friendly food.
2) A deadline must be honored, class due dates must be met, but cleaning never ends. I decided cleaning could wait. This might sound like a rationalization, and maybe it was, but understand that I hate going away and coming back to a dirty house.
3) Certainly I rationalized this: If you are going shopping for clothes, then you don't really have to do laundry or pack. You just have to shop. I submitted my deadlined story at the wire on Friday night, with children pounding at the door. I posted my class assignment Saturday morning, threw a pittance of attire into a garment bag and ran out the door.

I came home Sunday night to a flipped script. I found my house in better shape than I left it, my family in a good mood, my pick to win the Super Bowl victorious. I breathed.

This week rings strange, but it's a welcome sort of strange. Mellowness. Getting things done, but without having to run or push or scale back. It's traveling by inner tube rather than speedboat, and it's a welcome pace.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

King of Dramatic Vocals

Former Styx frontman Dennis DeYoung, with 57% of the vote, is the official IMLT drama king vocalist (see inciting post here). Who's cryin' now, Steve Perry?

Thanks for playing along, readers, and thanks to those artists who bring a sense of something grand to the stage. You inspire us to hold a fake microphone in one hand and beat our chests with the other. Better still, you inspired Dana Carvey:

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Pop Tart Fantasyland

Before I get into it, let's properly acknowledge the Pop Tart. A friend, just one week ago, described the Pop Tart with a phrase, something like "cardboard-y perfection." I believe she was a strawberry with frosting and sprinkles gal, untoasted. I'm more of the brown sugar cinnamon type, or chocolate fudge. Toasted, please, and with frosting, of course. Who's running around eating naked Pop Tarts?

Now that I've established my appreciation of the processed pastry, here's the thing. The breakfast guru and I saw this ad, and we were wonderstruck by its ridiculousness. If you haven't seen it, watch for the banner on the plane at the end:

"Baked With Real Fruit"? Do they throw an apple core on the conveyor belt?

I supposed that maybe, maybe the fruit-based varieties might have a portion of a fruit in each tart. I checked: of its total ingredients, the frosted strawberry includes 2% or less of dried strawberries, dried apples, and dried pears for less than 1 gram of dietary fiber.

But what of my sort of flavors?

There it is. Right in the middle, below and to the left of the "I". Maraschino cherry. I didn't see it on the ingredient list, but it's got to be in there, right? 

Friday, January 7, 2011

Old jobs and new goals

I was once a Red Lobster assembler.

Imagine how much damage you could do to that dress with a gallon of cocktail sauce!
Twenty-some years later, I still tell a tale or two from my time at the Lobster. I went from naive hostess, to harried cashier, to quick-tongued server in a matter of months. When short-staffed in the kitchen, the management would sometimes ask me to pick up a shift in the back-of-the-house, typically the A2 assembler.

A restaurant kitchen squeezes and pressures, but it’s not the same as being on the floor. The back-of-the-house felt like an escape. The noise of the public was far from me, and all I had to do was read the tickets, heat the occasional pasta or vegetable, and stage plates. Each dinner had its own sort of dishware, and I’d set each one in its place, a quiet line of china, waiting to be filled. Staging plates meant being ready, being able to move quickly, important if you wanted to serve food at its optimal temperature. 

During NanoWrimo, I re-learned the value of staging. Sometimes at the end of a session, I’d put a few ideas on the virtual corkboard in Scrivener. When I was really on top of my game, I’d set a specific word target for each card. The next day, rather than staring off into space and trying to channel Anne Lamott, I would just begin by opening the software and filling the plates. 

For some goals, the hardest thing to do is to get over the hump every day and begin. In other situations, it’s hard to achieve a goal because it’s overwhelming big, with lots of parts. Staging helps with all of that, by breaking things down and allowing you to begin quickly. How will you set yourself up for success in 2011? 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Music Madness Tuesday

Out-to-breakfast is a vacation sacrament. It produces two things:
  1. a need for the Ritual Nap of 11:30
  2. creative bursts
The napping is now over. On with the burst.

We chose this very morn to turn from our dish-weary kitchen and sit on the holy vinyl at our local coney. The head priest of this rite went with the sausage-gravy-covered Southern omelet. I chose sourdough French toast. We began the ceremonial gorging, and found ourselves interrupted by a cry from the overhead speakers, a cry we had heard just the day before:

"You make me we-ee-eak," it said. "I want to die."

"I have surpassed my weekly quota of this song," replied the priest.

"Lovin', touchin', squeezin' ... each other," I sang to the syrup.

While we returned to our respective plates, my mind raced. Steve Perry of Journey. I speculated that he was, indeed, the most dramatic of all the dramatic rock singers of my lifetime.

I shared this theory with the my breakfast clergyman, and then we heard another voice. Dennis DeYoung of Styx.

A tough call. Steve is in agony. Dennis is doing that weird thing in between every line that makes him look a little like Dr. Smith from Lost in Space. Steve looks like he forgot his shirt and was dressed by a local harem. Dennis has that coat, plus that guy with those over-the-top Oakleys (we looked them up. Oakley called them over-the-tops. Really.).

We decided that we ought to put these two performances head-to-head and allow democracy to do her thing. The poll is in the top right corner of my blog. Please vote!

You may comment on your choice below. I've got some other fellas in mind and am considering a tournament format, but I'm open to your na-na-na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na-na-nominations.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Quick thoughts this morning

1) Maybe morning isn't the best time to write a blog post. What have I done that's worth talking about before 9 a.m.?

2) The calendar says January 3rd, but the actual new year starts today. All calories eaten over the weekend, all slackerly behaviors and general unmotivation, are hereby placed in the 2010 vault. You're welcome.

3) As far as resolutions go, I'll have a lot of the usual: work out more regularly, improve stewardship, invest more in the local and the creative, finding ways to act on what I believe. Still working on specifics: remember it's only (observed) Day One.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

To see yourself

To see yourself in the life of someone else is a powerful experience. "as we forgive", a documentary revealing the reconciliation of the Rwandese people after genocide, served as a reminder today of the power of forgiveness.

I knew it would be difficult to watch, I knew my heart would break for the survivors who lost parents, spouses, children. I did not know that, upon hearing the pain of the murderers, their fears, their belief that God's mercy could not reach them, I would recall a time in my life when I too felt that way.

Who was it that said the ground is level at the foot of the cross?

"as we forgive", a film by Laura Waters Hinson. Highly recommended.