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oh no, not a puddle!

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Sunday, January 31, 2010
swirling orange windows

today was a loooong day, but in the middle of it I got to go eat lunch at an excellent park. I took some pictures, but they're not where I can get to them just yet. (the picture above is from somewhere in Tacoma near the glass museum. They are glass crazy up there, I tell you what.) ANYWAY. I went to the park for lunch and as I was walking around taking pictures in an alternately aimless then purposeful manner, a little boy on his mountain bike came zooming up behind me and past me. He was headed for "THE HILL" which I heard him hollering about to his mom. "CAN I GO DOWN THAT HILL?" I was walking to the right of the path, and he went around me on the left. There was a puddle on the left which he was complaining about, yet drawn to irresistibly. "Oh no, there's a puddle…" as he carefully drove right through the middle of it, clearly relishing every bit of mud and water. There was an old lady coming the other direction, and rather than go around her or get back to his side of the path, he rang his bell at her so she would move! She laughed and said something about dogs and little boys never wanting to miss a mess if they could help it. Sure enough, there was another puddle and THE HILL just beyond her.

a few other things:

1) John Hamm as Scott Brown on SNL made me laugh and laugh.

2) Lady Gaga wins the red carpet.

3) Clive Owen looks good in a suit. That's just a fact.

4) I'm reading that cholera book, and can I just say I'm really glad I don't have cholera? Because I am! I would also like to say that I'd be really pissed if I'd died of cholera only to find out later that the main treatment isn't some complicated hand gesture/drug combo, but rather lots of non-contaminated fluids aka WATER. Also, I'm a little worried about how survival-smart microbes are. It's really better not to think about it.

5) my bookcase project is almost done, but in that almost-done yet still chaotic state. I won't be able to get to it until Tuesday so it's just looming at me, all teetery piles of books and silent recriminations.

you never know

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Over the course of conversation with a coworker today I discovered that she - whom I previously would have voted 'least likely to surprise me' - was born and raised in Africa. (which surprised me!) We both like the HBO Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency series, which I personally think is better than the books. (it happens sometimes.)

More dispatches from the land of my brain soon - my time consuming bookcase situation is almost resolved! (I have a bookcase situation in case I haven't mentioned it. I find it hard to believe that I haven't (mentioned it), but I guess it is possible. briefest summary: I needed a new one, which meant I had to paint, which meant etc, etc, etc. cascade effect to not-quite infinity. My goal is to FINALLY get it done before february and it looks like I might make it!)

(photo above is unrelated to africa, coworkers, and time consuming bookcase situations. I like the arrow and the sun flare.)

is the internet a penny paper?

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010
JUST TODAY my hold came through for The Sun and the Moon: The Remarkable True Account of Hoaxers, Showmen, Dueling Journalists, and Lunar Man-Bats in Nineteenth-Century New York. !!! You had me at lunar man-bats! Someone recommended this at work and it sounded like just my kind of bizarre are you kidding me non-fiction. Here's the front jacket flap text:

On Wednesday, August 26, 1835, a fledgling newspaper called the Sun brought to New York the first accounts of remarkable lunar discoveries. A series of six articles purported to reveal the existence of life on the moon--including unicorns, beavers that walked upright on their hind legs, and, strangest of all, four-foot-tall flying man-bats. In a matter of weeks the series became the most widely circulated newspaper story of the era, and the Sun, a brash working-class upstart less than two-years old, had become the most widely read newspaper in the world.

The Sun and the Moon, journalist and historian Matthew Goodman chronicles the hot summer of 1835, when the Sun's editor convinced the citizens of New York that the moon was inhabited.

... Evoking a seminal, chaotic period in the city's history, the book overflows with larger-than-life characters, including Richard Adams Locke, author of the moon series; a fledgling showman named P.T. Barnum, who had just brought his own hoax to New York; and the young writer Edgar Allan Poe, who was convinced that the moon series was a plagiarism of his own work.

An exhilarating narrative history of a divided city on the cusp of greatness and a crew of writers, authors, editors, and charlatans who stumbled on a new kind of journalism.
The Sun and the Moon tells the surprisingly true story of the penny papers that made America into a nation of newspaper readers. (end flap-text)

UNICORNS? BEAVERS? MAN-BATS? EDGAR ALLAN POE? I hope this book is half as awesome as it sounds. It's hard to believe that this was 65 years before Méliès and his Voyage to the Moon. Has there been a modern movie made about this? It seems like the topic would lend itself to that medium. (LUNAR MAN- BATS!) Anyway, I haven't read anything but the jacket yet, but it seemed too good to keep to myself.

movie list

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Sunday, January 24, 2010
Here are some movies I’ve seen recently. Well, some of them are recent, some of them are from when I decided to start keeping a list a couple of months ago. My plan is to clear out the backlog (this post and maybe another) and then just sort of keep up to date in a weekly-ish fashion. WHO KNOWS! I don’t exactly have the best plan to action record these days. These are just little descriptions - I may come back to some of them for longer, later.

Ball of Fire: 1941, Howard Hawks (library) (written by Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder) I love Barbara Stanwyck. LOVE HER. You know what else I love? I love Barbara Stanwyck playing a slang-slinging burlesque-singing dame named Sugarpuss O’Shea, a woman with a gangster boyfriend problem, which leads to a hot nerd problem. Gary Cooper is handsome but hopelessly square Bertram Potts (good old Pottsie), a linguist trying to compile an encyclopedia entry on slang. He lives in a house with 7 other eccentric encyclopedia authors who each live up to different egghead stereotypes with great enthusiasm. Potts is convinced he must conduct interviews with Ms.O’Shea (and others) in order to fix his entry and save the encyclopedia. Complications, as you might imagine, ensue. Cops, the Conga, stockings, spangles, a grouchy housekeeper, cheesy wise-guy lingo, smooching, a car chase, self-taught pugilism and much, much more. Dana Andrews is gangster-boyfriend Joe Lilac. JOE LILAC!

Twilight: 2008, Catherine Hardwicke (netflix) - they filmed a lot of this in Oregon, and some of it in Portland (I drove by some of the high school stuff on the way to work one time) - so I love seeing the misty grey thickness of the rainforest represented so faithfully. I learned previously unknown to me things, like that when vampires sparkle in the sunlight (!!), they also make a noise not unlike a flourescent lightbulb. This movie was overcooked in a lot of ways (why not make up a new monster if you want to have a vegetarian vampire who can go out in the sun???), but I also know that I would have been desperately, irrationally in love with this whole franchise between the ages of 12 -14. (including a dramatic “you just don’t understand” door slamming fight about it with my dad, who was a big Dracula fan.) fun fact/ annoying weather pedantry: If the Cullens really lived in Forks, Washington they’d never get to play baseball (!) because while it does rain a lot, thunder and lightning are rare.

The Hangover: 2009, Todd Phillips (netflix) isn’t this just a raunchy version of Dude, Where’s My Car? (which itself is a goofy version of Memento?) Is that too reductive? I know there are only so many ways to tell a story, but I kept thinking “DUDE” while I was watching The Hangover. That said, I laughed a lot. Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis are very funny. Bradley Cooper is funny too, and maybe he has the harder job since he always plays such an asshole.

Where the Wild Things Are: 2009, Spike Jonze (movies) I enjoyed this! The first bit (before Max runs off) is crooked and ragged and vital and the kingdom of the Wild Things is primal forest/beach strange, but also natural and beautiful. I thought most of the dialogue was too therapy-speak, but the visuals were magical and spoke to the 8 year old wild-jen within. (be warned: she is queen of the alligators.) Max Records has a very expressive face and I love the Karen O/Carter Burwell score.

Julie & Julia: 2009, Nora Ephron (netflix) I wanted to love the Julie parts of this story too, if only so I could be the one person on the planet who didn’t say “I wish it was Julia & More Julia.” But I didn’t so I can’t! I will say that I do normally really like Amy Adams. (did you know she was in an episode of Buffy? She was!)

The Wizard of Oz: 1939, Victor Fleming (library)The new digital technicolor restoration is AMAZING! I watched the old DVD version last year and the restored 70th anniversary edition this year - the difference is astounding. I thought the old one looked pretty good, but the new one is incredible.

The Harvey Girls: 1946, George Sidney (library) Judy Garland is a sassy mail-order bride/ railroad singing waitress in a wild west town. The guy with a lot of teeth and shiny black hair who runs the town is at war with her… or is he?! Will they resolve their differences? Will Judy sing songs by Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer? Also starring Ray Bolger (“Scarecrow, I’ll miss you most of all”) , Cyd Charisse, and let’s not forget Angela Landsbury in sequins and feathers, hiding her pining heart of gold if you know what I mean and I think that you do.

Fantastic Mr. Fox: 2009, Wes Anderson (movies) FANTASTIC! I loved this. Review from the 6 year old sitting behind us: Booo-ring. (of course that tiny critic thought the tooth fairy movie with The Rock looked good, so I’m not looking for any movie advice from him.) I loved every little individually placed piece of animal fur and cuss graffiti in this movie. It was a good year for stop-motion animation! It’s funny how these kind of raggedy puppets dressed in human style clothes get to the essential parts of their wild animal nature in ways that the big monsters of WtWTA never quite do.

emergency dance party

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Friday, January 22, 2010
I was at the park today having a really good walk (I just added a bunch of new stuff to my ipod) and came around the corner by the off-leash area only to find an emergency streetside dance party, which made my walk EVEN BETTER. This was a vehicle based emergency dance party. The car was parked against traffic (like they had to veer over and stop RIGHT NOW), the passenger door and rear passenger door were wide open. There was a tall girl with short hair and skinny jeans dancing her ass off in the street, her shorter friend in black tights and skirt dancing in bursts, like she didn't really want to but couldn't stop herself. Evidence of a third person was only a pair of legs with dark tights and white heels kicking from the backseat. I don't know what the song was - I had my earbuds in and didn't want to draw attention to myself or startle them or give any reason to shorten their Emergency Dance Party. (Like I was in a emergency dance party bird blind.) I can tell you that it totally made my day.

It also made me think of this picture, which you can look at closer or purchase by clicking on this link.

events of the day

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010
This morning before work I was putting stuff in my bag (camera, phone, water bottle) but couldn't find the book I'm reading right now - another Charles Simic essay/fragment collection called The Monster Loves his Labyrinth. The monster loves his labyrinth, I love the monster but cannot find the monster. I'm sure there's some cryptic life-clue in there somewhere, but I can't find it either. Also missing: a book about cholera. Where have they gone?! Did they go there together? I hope tomorrow provides the answer. I took a Margaret Atwood collection with me instead (Good Bones and Simple Murders), which is great - she's so smart and funny.

I walked to Burgerville on my lunch break - walked right by Mr. Peeps/The Peep Hole, an auto parts dealer, a mexican restaurant with sharpie written signs hanging in the window, across the street from the car dealership and the enormous fabric store, the thai restaurant with an unused drive-through window. The jukebox was playing polka when I got there, which I thought was rather jolly and surreal. When the polka began to wind down (how can you tell??), one of the old guys sitting near the jukebox shuffled over and punched some buttons and VOILA: more polka. The same roll out the barrel and we'll have a barrel of fun polka, in fact. He danced all the way back to his seat. I made a deal with myself that if he did it a third time, I had permission to roll out the barrel, stuff him in the barrel, nail the lid on the barrel and then send the barrel over a waterfall. But it didn't play a third time! After the polka interlude, the Wurlitzer took up with the Beach Boys. (Wurlitzer wurlitzer wurlitzer. I spent the whole drive home after work trying to decide what the best first name would be if your last name was Wurlitzer.)

Later in the evening I was working at the circ desk and heard a voice say JENNIFER LASTNAME! I looked up and saw someone I used to work with but haven't seen in probably 6 years or more. (Leslie, it was Stephanie.) She said "my mother just asked me about you last night!" ha ha ha. It's so funny how that happens sometimes. I'd seen her name on hold slips before, but I'd never run into her until tonight. Good times!

Finally, after what seemed like 400 hours but was really only 9 hours, it was time to come home. I walked out of the building and the first thing I saw was the waxing crescent moon tipped on its side, looking for all the world like the smile of a gigantic, vanished Cheshire cat.

one thing at once

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Sunday, January 17, 2010
Today my intentions (currently paving the road to hell) were to do many of the interim things that must be done before I can move on and do something else, but I'm at the phase of my cold where more than one thing at a time is not possible, unless one of those things is watching tv or blowing my nose. So really the only thing I got done, done was uploading my pictures to flickr. I did it while I watched the golden globes so I guess that's kind of barely multi-tasking. (I think maybe I need to switch from attempted multi-tasking to sequential mono-tasking. Can you ever REALLY do two or more things at once? I'm not talking two birds/one stone or walking/talking.)

ANYWAY. Behold! Here are some recent photos. Let's start with nature:

mossy green
I love this green! These greens! I took 6 versions of this picture, and this is the only one that turned out. The mosses were on a piece of bark I found at the park. I was holding it in my hand, which may be why it took so many tries to get one in focus.

I love how lacy these willow branches are. There's got to be a better word than branch - they're all bendy and frondy, not stick-like and blocky. Hmmm. This mottled grey is the color of the sky in January. Although it's super windy right now as I type this, so maybe we'll have blue sky tomorrow. It rained all day today. (I mean every bit of the day - there was no not-raining.)

pillowcases - I stacked them up princess and the pea style to take this picture because I like how the dots look with the bright green. The green are from an Amy Butler sheet set that my mom gave me for Christmas. So wonderful! I love that they're very high quality (the nicest sheets I've ever had), but that they're also GREEN. It's like sleeping on very comfortable grass.

I did manage to straighten up my desk a little bit today. This stuff sits in the windowsill right in front of my computer. It's mostly bits of whatever that I stuffed in my pockets at the beach (shell, barnacle shell) or at the park (acorn, various pieces of bark), but also a pretty business card from a photographer and a Ganesha domino I never finished coloring. (I think I was going for a sepia sort of look and FAILED, but couldn't quite bear to sandpaper it off and start again.)

the privateer
ha ha! Another Christmas present from my mom. (she's a good present-giver.) This is one of those old books that's been made over into a journal. They take books that are broken-spined or otherwise unsaveable, and make them into something new. Lucky for all of us, these journal-makers included the first 10 pages of the Gringo Privateer. Here is a sample from page 9. (I haven't quite worked out who His Majesty is, but he owns a bunch of ranches and apparently is really knowledgeable about cowboy fashion and knows that somebody has a "grudge against mail-order cowboys." Anyway - this is some dialogue between "The Stranger" and "His Majesty" - just a hunch: The Stranger is actually the Gringo Privateer!!)
"Yes, sir. Does your Majesty like my sombrero? I won that in a poker game from a man whose head was the same size as mine but not quite so well furnished. He assured me he paid a hundred dollars for it."

"Yes, it's wonderful." The king resumed his appraisal. "Gray French flannel shirt and black silk necktie. how long you been on the road, man?"

"Two days, sir."

"And you shaved today! You
are a dude. Whoever told you you were a cowboy?"

"Formerly my avocation, sir, but now my vocation."

Oh, man, reading to the end of page 10 (the last page I have) I see that the jig is up for somebody! "He got a dirty letter from your attorney and figured the jig was up." I may have to track the rest of this down.

speaking of fashion and books - this is from an oversized Chanel book that I checked out from the library. I had it for months (and barely looked at it), then TWO people had the temerity to put it on hold so I had to take it back. This is one of the dresses I liked very much - it's fancy and plain at the same time. Fairly simple design, but made of silk velvet - ooh la la! It was fun to flip through the book and make a game of guessing which designs were Coco Chanel's and which were Karl Lagerfeld's. (Team Coco!)

Friday?? Friday.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

For the last two weeks Friday has come as a complete and total surprise to me. I don't know what else I'd be expecting after Thursday and before Saturday, yet I still find myself going "friday? no way! wait... really?" Anyway - I have a bunch of stuff I've been meaning to post, which I will try to do before NEXT FRIDAY. (if such a day truly exists. I'm beginning to think I'm in the Matrix, slowly awakening to the fact that there are really only 6 days in a week and that "friday" is the handiwork of The Man, or maybe all time is just a construct, or maybe it's time for/too soon for more cold medicine. RED PILL OR BLUE PILL?? NYQUILL!)

In the News:

I still want to punch Joe Lieberman in the head repeatedly. Add to this list: Pat Robertson, Rush Limbaugh.

CONAN! May you emerge victorious. I loved his letter to the People of Earth - pointed yet principled.

Haiti: My mind can't even process the scale of devastation, the measurements of instant and incremental loss. But my mind doesn't have to process or understand or make sense of things that can't be made sense of in order to help. I'm deciding between donating to the following agencies: Mercy Corps (local, right now donations (up to 250K) are being matched by a "generous donor"), Partners In Health (already set up in Haiti), Doctors Without Borders (hard core awesome). I love, LOVE that someone got the great idea to text $$ to the Red Cross (text "HAITI" to 90999 to donate $10, which will be charged to your phone bill). I've heard some people griping about how it will take 90 days to get the money through, but I guarantee they're going to need money, perhaps even MORE money in 90 days than they do right now. You can also donate to the Red Cross via your iTunes store account. 100% of the money goes to the Red Cross.

red pen, vampire, batman, etc.

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Monday, January 11, 2010
harry potter

ONE) RFID-OLOGY. Today I worked at one of the first library branches in our system to do RFID conversion. Everyone is switching over, but they’re rolling it out in increments - it’s not just for security but also to make things flow more easily. This is good because it’s so gangbusters busy all the dang time! GANGBUSTERS! Anyway, I’d never done any RFID tagging, but today I learned how. It’s stickers and scanning and laser goggles, so that’s cool. (okay, no laser goggles, but those would have been awesome.)

TWO) RED PEN MYSTERIES: This morning I was working on the circ desk and got to issue library cards, which is one of my favorite things to do. (“here’s your access to all this amazing stuff for FREE!”) I was having a patron sign the back of his application form and handed him the red pen in my hand, since that’s what I was using to mark up some stuff going to other branches. He was a nice, chatty dude who said he usually comes in with his kid who does have a library card, but figured it was time to get his own so he could use the internet. He also told me that he was from Mexico, and that there it was usually NOT DONE to write your name with a red pen. Bad luck, bad something. I scrambled around to find him a not-red pen, which he assured me was not necessary. I apologized and he laughed and said it was no big deal, but it did make him pause while writing. I made sure to find him a black pen to sign his card, though. Red pen! I had no idea.

THREE) SOME TEETH ARE JUST LIKE THAT: I was having a conversation with a chatty child at work the other day and at the end of it she pointed in her own mouth and told me I had vampire teeth. I was all “WHUT???” in my head, but smiley nodding to her because I couldn’t quite understand what she was talking about. (I say this with great affection, but kids are weird.) Anyway! it finally dawned on me that she was talking about my pointy canine teeth/incisors/whatever you want to call them. Some people's are pointy, some people’s aren’t - it’s just one of the glorious variables of humanity. But dude. The vampire mythos has gotten pretty damned watered down if a kid under five thinks that someone working in a LIBRARY in the DAYTIME has vampire teeth. Vampires roam the night killing people and being dramatic! they don’t scan books in a mild-mannered fashion and have whacked out Dr. Seuss surreal conversations with toddlers. And if they did, it wouldn’t be IN THE BROAD DAYLIGHT.

FOUR) I’M BATMAN: kids are weird, cont. - I checked out books to a 3 foot tall batman on sunday. He had a construction paper and elastic mask with some pretty rad gloves/gauntlets. In true mysterious superhero fashion he said nothing, but did swan and swoop around the desk a lot so we could all get a good look at him. He let his mom do the talking, which included “did you see his costume?” After which question he skulked by the desk again like a mini zoolander-batman hybrid.

enjoy these mossy rocks

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Tuesday, January 05, 2010
mossy rocks
Aren't they pretty? I can hardly stand it, I love the acid yellow green of the moss so much! This photo was taken at a state park right on the willamette river this last saturday. (I have more photos I may post soon.) It was raining so hard, but the trip was worth it: there were these mossy green rocks and a great blue heron. (I love those birds! So huge, improbable, elegant, even while standing in a muddy riverbank.)

(it's no trick: the heron is not in this picture.)

Here's a quote that has nothing to do with mossy rocks or big blue birds, but I thought it was interesting. From Charles Simic's collection of essays and memoirs called The Unemployed Fortune Teller. This is from a section on the power of imagination, writing, "the liars art", etc. This particular bit was about automatic writing (p14): (...) I don't have a lot of faith in automatic writing, with its aping of mediums and their trances. All my attempts at opening the floodgates of my psyche were unimpressive. "You need a certain state of vacancy for the marvelous to condescend to visit you," said Benjamin Peret. Very well and thanks for the advice, but I have my doubts. The reputation of the unconscious as the endless source of poetry is over-rated. The first rule for a poet must be, cheat on your unconscious and your dreams."

I think my favorite part is "but I have my doubts." I've come to love my doubts now that I'm old enough to balance them (more or less) with my innate optimism. Too much of one or the other is exhausting, but together they make for some good in-brain arguments. (I like those.) Anyway, it's a fascinating section about taking ideas where you find them and bending them to your purpose - a blend of instinct and craft. I've probably chosen the dumbest part to quote, but it's late and that's what I found without quoting the whole damned thing.

bridges, bridges, bridges

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Saturday, January 02, 2010
the bridge
I haven't decided if I'm going to post every day in January like I've done the last couple of years, but since I haven't decided yet I figured I would hedge at least one more day. (I may do it in Feb. instead.) I was going to post about BEND OREGON (this bridge is on the way), but that would take too much brain power (hah! I just typo'd "brain poser") this late at night, so now it's just bridges. Briefly, this bridge is over the Crooked river which is more than 300 ft below in a rocky canyon - the kind of canyon you would get tricked into if you needed killing in a western. (either the Cowboys or Indians would show up on horses on either side of the gorge and that would be that! the modern equivalent would probably be drunk kids throwing garbage off of the bridge, which seems less cinematic, somehow.)

hawthorne bridge
This is from July 4th. We go stand on the bridge and watch the fireworks over the river. It's really so lovely. I'm not sure what year this is, though. (Hawthorne bridge.)

bridge to the beach
I thought this was a different beach bridge than it is! This one is somewhere in the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. If I remember correctly (UNLIKELY), this was the place that had cathedral sized driftwood. (if it wasn't this place, it was some other place.) Oh, wait! this was the place with the awesome rocks. My pockets were full of rocks by the time I left. (really, you can't take me anywhere.) Those mountains in the distance are in Canada.

**Unrelated note: my window is partly open and I can hear some guy laughing on the corner (near the bar) and he sounds like a freaky fake laughing machine! not like a laugh track, but like a spooky automaton that you drop a quarter in and it laughs and laughs, then stops. I hope they run out of quarters soon.

st. johns bridge
the St. Johns bridge is one of the most beautiful bridges I've ever seen anywhere. I think it looks like it should be heading into the Emerald City. (note: it does NOT lead to the Emerald City, at least any time I've been on it. I do go over it to get to Sauvie Island, though!) (sometimes.)

under the marquam bridge
More July 4 hijinx! It's blurry because it's getting dark, but we'll call it atmospheric instead. Also, I feel superior because those fools parked under there will be in their cars HOURS trying to leave when it's all over. If you park off of Grand (rather than under the bridge) it's much easier to leave. (I must confess that I was an under the bridge parking fool once.)

Harris Bridge
Covered bridge in Benton county! I think I need to go on another covered bridge photo safari in the spring.


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Friday, January 01, 2010

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I know last year was a rough one for many of my friends - may life bring you better days in the coming year and beyond.

The past few years I've tried to concentrate less on resolution type things and more on general principles going forward type things. I'm here to report that this works for me, more or less. I think this is what I was trying to say yesterday: even when I don't see immediate results from some amorphous promise to myself (like working to be happier, or kinder, or brave), just articulating the desire often helps me to set my internal rudder in the right direction. So many things (for me) are not accomplished by sharp external turns, but from constant tiny internal adjustments. They're also not accomplished one at a time; I think it's a neverending concurrent project. That being said, my Spectacular Failures from last year didn't get quite as spectacular as I wanted. Maybe I need to take some sharp external turns! I need to be less timid and more willing to try, even if I don't know what I'm doing - ESPECIALLY if I don't know what I'm doing. I'm thinking mostly of the creative realm, but I should probably apply this across the board. (I just pictured about 15 of me sitting around a conference table and CEO me just broke the news to the rest: ACROSS THE BOARD, Jen. Some of us are all for it, some smiling and nodding but secretly dreading and some, I'm sad to say, were not listening at all but instead were doodling on a notepad and trying to think of all the movies we've seen in the last month.)