Friday, November 11, 2011

Zone One by Colson Whitehead

I LOVE reading... particularly if the title or description has the following words:

mystery

post-apocalyptic

zombie

witch

mystery

plague

ghost/ demon/ spirits

murder

I think you get the point. Give me a good old- fashioned horror monster-ghost who is worshipped by witches who get eaten by zombies who then dies because of a deadly plague and I am happy. I am even happier when there are stories with ethnic or minority lead characters. My love of "science fiction/ fantasy" genre has prompted a long love affair with Tananarive Due (The Good House)  and Octavia Butler (Fledgling, omg so good).

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Heavy D....

I miss you already.  Your music is on my greatest hits playlist.

PS: Jam is the sh*t. I listen to it while washing dishes....


I am so sad....and sending prayers and well wishes to your family...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween: Sheriff Izzy in the house!

In 2009, we went to the West Hollywood parade as  vampire and victim a la Interview with the Vampire.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Book clubs are for losers like me....

I recently decided to take my search for friends to the internet....

I figured,  "I like reading and I like wine... why can't read and drink wine with someone and then talk about what we read...."

So far my craigslist post in the city of Los Angeles had generated 3 responses. Three. I am bummed.

This is a list of books that I desparately would like to read and add to the post to give a sense of what type of books I typically read.

Zone One by Colson Whitehead

The Liquid City by Curtis Hopfenbeck

The Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Poetzsch

The Abby by Chris Culver

Black like me by John Howard Griffin.

Some of these book were just added to my list recently, while others have been on there for  a while.

I also started reading a lot of the "classics" as defined by Penguins.

Any other good ones I should know about?



Thursday, October 20, 2011

An open letter the Occupy Wall Street Protesters:

Dear Protesters:

I get it. I really do. You are angry and fed up and unsure of the future.  You showed up on time everyday. You never took a sick day. You missed your kid's violin recital to meet that deadline. You did everything right and where are you now? Nowhere.  Or at the very least not where YOU think you should be.  And on top of everything, it seems like nothing will make the slightest difference in the amount of indifference the world has for you.
I am frustrated too. While I am lucky enough to have a job, there are several people in my family who do not. They were not bad employees or lazy, they were just victims of the financial state of their employers. I am sure that they wish that they could be the ones who kept their jobs, but sometimes staying on is just as difficult.  When the economy started to tank,  many employers did what was necessary to cut costs in the most direct way possible. For most, they got rid of their most costly expense: employees. Some companies had no choice but to severely cut their workforce by half or more. I saw it happen at competing firms.  "Oh did you hear that So-and-so is down from 50 to 22 people?" "Well I heard that they were going to a 4 day work week and taking a 20% pay cut."
And at first, as a surviving member of your company you are thankful for your job, period. You might take a pay cut and you might work more hours but you will be making more than unemployment and you will still feel like a positive member of society.

Monday, October 17, 2011

5 Thoughts...

1) As I approach the ripe old age of 30, I can no longer stay out late, stay up late, or wake up late. My body is less and less capable of changing its routine.

2) Washing my make up off at night (on the rare occasion that I actually wear some) is the most difficult part of may day... because all I want to do is dive into bed and go to sleep.

3) Sharing a bed with your spouse is can be seriously over rated. Yes, its sweet to spoon and whisper I love you's into each other ears just for falling blissfully asleep, but all the other nights when he's hot and I'm cold or he wants to face one way and I want to face the other. Or when I really, really want to sleep diagonially in bed, its a just a hassle.

4) The IPAD is my husband's most seductive mistress... after that comes: the dog, the blackberry, the office, and the golf range....

5) I need a hobby. I need something else to do with myself besides working at the office, working at home, cooking dinner, and taking care of the dog. I am going to go ahead and declare that working out does not count. I don't enjoy it and when I don't do it, I feel guilty. I want to join a wine club where I sit in someone's living room and taste wine and eat good food. I tried to start a supper club of sorts with some friends and no one wanted to actually cook the food as much as they just wanted to eat it.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Again, the thing about working out is....

that you can equate working out, which is considered healthy, to many other things that are equally unhealthy, like drinking for example.

When you first decide what kind of drink you are going to have, it's kind of exciting... there is just so much promise to how good you're going to feel afterward. You'll be able to relax and the rest of the day won't be so stressful. That's how excerise people sell you their drug of choice. Excerise will release all those endorphins and you will feel amazing, I promise.

Then you start drinking/excerising regularly, maybe you go to happy hour or the gym every other day and you socialize and realize all the great things you've missed out on. Man this is awesome, I should have started this years ago!

And then behavior becomes a habit and your bodyjust doesn't respond like it used too. Soon it takes one more Cosmo/ lap to get that good feeling. Before you know it, happy hour has become happy night and you have spent more time at the bar/gym then at home.

You think, Ok I will be fancy and try something new.  Now you've done too much. And usually the result is hurting yourself, because you either drank too much or you tried something that your body was not ready for. You spend all of the next day wishing for someone to have mercy on your sorry behind all while promising never to do that again.

And it you didn't throw yourself over the edge, then you probably have a friend that will. You know THAT friend. The friend that always goes just a little too far and is always egging you on, sure you can another shot.... Why NOT go another 15 mins at warp 9 on the treadmill? It will be fun.

As a sidenote- this is one part of the analogy where the subject in question is actually the same person. The friend that probably is in amazing shape, doing pilates and running 15 times a day, si the same person who drinks a lot and is the first to run to stripper pole at a night club.  The friend that  plays club basketball, golf, soccor, and softball,  is the same one who drinks a lot, wears his sunglasses indoors and ends up getting into a fight with the guy in the Ed Hardy shirt.

Finally, you miss one night of fun/working out. And then you miss another. And another. Hmpf, I guess I don't have to go tonight. There is always tomorrow. And then after soon enough, you are where? Right back where you started. Man I can't believe its been so long....it will feel good to get out there and do it.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Why?

because if it wasn't difficult, it wouldn't be a part of life.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

This week's best horoscopes courtesy of The Onion...

Taurus Apr 20 - May 20
Your crude and primitive sense of humor will offend lots of people, but just wait until they get a look at your crude and primitive sense of justice.

Leo Jul 23 - Aug 22
You'll learn the value of patience, compassion, and tolerance next week and be rather disappointed that it's actually so low.

Pisces Feb 19 - Mar 20
Mars rising in your sign indicates you are something of a coward, mostly because of the way you keep flinching at it.


The other signs can be found here.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The thing about working out is...

Once you start, it's easy as hell to stop. I have always admired people who enjoy excercising, and I've come to terms with the fact that I'll probably never be one of them.

Confession: I am on an uncharted, scary mission. I have two public events this fall that I have to go to that will require me to wear a bathing suit. (See above for why this mission is scary.)

The first is a bacholorette party in Vegas with a pool/spa day. The bride of said wedding is in awesome shape and so are most of her friends (that does not include me). I have decided that I will not be the one to sulk at the amazing bodies that these women have so hard for. I don't want to feel that shameful embarassment that can wash over you so quickly when it comes to self image. I want to feel confortable and think that I look good. Not as good as them or good in comparision to them. Just good about myself with confidence and self-esteem.

The second is a destination wedding in Mexico for a high school friend of mine. Now in this case, I just don't want to be the cute girl that fell off after high school. This event is for my pride and vanity, not self- esteem.

So, I have taken up a cause to work out and eat better (but there are just certain things I will not give up, hello mac-n-cheese, I am talking about you!). We have a treadmill in our garage, a park that has a track for walking or running, I bought a Jillian Michaels "No Trouble Zones" work out DVD (OMG, I almost died), and a friend of mine has let me borrow the Yoga X DVD from her P90X collection.

Now, before anyone gets impressed, I completely failed the first time I tried to get super serious about this campaign. I mean, seriously?!? Who has time for all that? Then I realized that my expections were WAY too high. How can I go from not working out at all to expecting to do 2 DVDs, run on a track and lift weights all in the same day? I realized that if I plan not only did I have enough time to do this right for the events, but that I have enough time to do this right, period. These changes should be life changes, not temporary modifications so I "unveil" myself at these events.

With that realization, I have modified my working out expections. My goal now is to do a minimum of 30 minutes of something physical everyday. And it can be whatever, like walking the neighborhood with my husband or getting on the dread-mill or cursing at Jillian Michaels on my TV while circuit training in my family room.

With all the pressure to do 5 bazillion excercises-a-day out the window, my behavior is changing and the results are motivating. One day I ran more on the treadmill than I ever thought was possible and when I finished, I was beaming with pride and a sense of accomplishment. Less surprisely, after doing all that work, the last thing I wanted to eat was mac-n-cheese. I wanted something lighter and healthier, so the effects of my run would last.

Oddly enough it's not just my behavior that is changing, it's also my mind. Maybe I could be one of those people who enjoy working out. You know the thing about working out, is that once you start enjoying it, its easy to keep going.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

This week's best Horoscopes, Courtesy of The Onion

Leo:

Often it feels as if everything is too hard for you and that anything you try ends in failure, but take heart: Those feelings have to be wrong eventually.

Scorpio :

Decent people everywhere will be shocked and appalled by the treatment you received and the conditions under which you were held, but it's not like their jobs are any better.

Aquarius:

You've been fooling yourself for so long that you've lost track of your sense of identity, your joy in life, and which one is actually the real Shroud of Turin.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Things I am over....

1) Eating outside. I am not sure what it is about Southern California and the constant need to be outside. Yes, we have beauitful weather for walking and running and swimming. But must I always eat outside under the baking sun with an unrelenting assault of leaves and tree bits attacks my plate?

2)Furry boots and short skirts. Again, I am not sure what is it about Southern California and the need to where what looks like winter boots with appears to be a handkerchief masquerading as a skirt. Its a juxtaposition that I don't understand and quite frankly think is silly.

3)The overly agressive driver in the jalopy. I can't tell you how many times I have been cut off while driving to work, by some idiot who is barrelling down the freeway in the broken up, sad clown car version of a 1999 civic. Unlike, the beamer and the benz that regularly mash out my saturn, your car is not fun to look at or aerodynamically pleasing. Its just annoying. So instead of buying that super muffler that sets off car alarms, can you please just get the rear bumper fixed so you can take the packing tape off? Thanks.

4)Spirit Airlines. Haven't heard them? Good, because they are the nickel and dime kings and queens.  Want to check your bag? $40! Want to bring a carry-on bag onto the plane? $35! Want to pick your seat in advance? $5! Want something to drink on the plane? $3 (including water)! Oh and by the way... those fees are just for one way, suckas......

5) The debt ceiling debate. I wish everyone would stop trying to be cute and just solve the problem. The country will continue to run at a deficit no matter much or how little you raise the ceiling... so just do it!

Julian Bond is awesome

Last night, Andre and I went to a Zocalo event last night at the Peterson Auto Museum . It was a discussion betweent he awesome Warren Olney and former NAACP chair Julian Bond.  The civil rights leader was eveything that you would hope for: charasmatic, charming, witty, sharp, and funny.  He recounted several stories from his days at the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee as well as fondly remembering his days at Morehouse college, specifically in a philiosphy class taught by Dr. King.

One of the best moments of the evening was Mr. Boond describing his views on LGBT issue and the black community. He actually "boycotted" Coretta Scott King's funeral because it was held in a church that openly discriminated against gays in the church and had an anti-gay marriage policy. He told stories of how Coretta Scott King was a huge gay rights activist and would have been appalled to know that her service was taking place there. I respect him for trying honor what he thought her wishes might have been.

He also spoke about how  President Obama was disappointing him, but that every other president had disappointed his as well, so there is nothing particularly special about that. He also remarked that he felt somewhat naive in anticpating the kind of negativity that the Republican party has throwing toward the president. He recalled his continuing surprise with the effort and willingness of the Republicans to throw the country into  debt and chaos so that Obama wouldn't get his way.

Lastly, he told great stories about Dr Barnes and Lincoln college after someone in the audience asked about his Dad and the documentary called "The Art of the Steal". If you haven't watched it, go do so, its great.

Sadly, the question and answer section og the evening was quite short and I didn't get to ask either of the questions I had, which were:

1) As the black community struggles to maintain and achieve progress, how can we look at  the dissolution of the black family unit as part of teh problem and what can we do to mend it?

2)I wanted to know what his thoughts were on the Justice department recently announcing that they would not reopen the Malcolm X murder case because they did not view it as a pressing matter or him to be a significant enough person of interest.

What would you ask Julian Bond?

Here is a link to the artcle from last night (AND.... a photo of Andre and I in the audience!)

http://zocalopublicsquare.org/thepublicsquare/2011/07/25/the-names-bond-julian-bond/read/the-takeaway/

Monday, July 11, 2011

Feeling like your age, but in a good way...

 Are you one of those people who are soooo mature for his/her age? Well, I was for a very long time. Even now at 29, people still say that I far more mature than they were at my age. Silly me, I thought that once you graduated from college, you needed to buckle down and become an adult, requiring at least some maturity. And oddly enough as a teenager, someone telling you how mature you are seems like such a compliment (probably because when you are a teenager, being an adult seems so awesome). But now as an almost-thirty year old, not quite quite so awesome, and actually, I might even call it a little condscending. I know that its meant as a complement, but seriously, if the standard of 30 has fallen so low that we are still applauding people's maturity, then I am concerned for all of us born in the eighties and later.

Personally, I feel like I am right where I am supposed to be. And of course the operative word in that sentance is "I". Where I am is certainly not were some of my friends are, but that is ok for them. An employed, no-kid-having, grad-school-pondering, home and 401k- owning Angelno is ok for me. My friends and I are staring down 30's door and seriously, some of them are freaking out. I don't entirely get it, but I imagine it is similar to what my mom went through when she turned 40. For me, thirty seems pretty cool. I mean, I have most of the complicated stuff figured out: career, check. Husband, check. Home, check. identity, check. Dog, check. And of course, maturity, check. So when I look at 30, there are so many things already established, it just seems like it should be a breeze. All except for the kid thing, I am good to go for 30.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Top 5 things I don't like about working in an office...

1) I can hear everyone's conversation about everything that has ever happened to them. I know when people's kids are sick, the their in-laws are in town, what they shot of the golf course the other day, etc.... I don't care... please step outside and finish your conversation there...where no one is working or on a business phone call.

2) Farting. I work in an office and people fart...at the their desks...... loudly.....and we have cubicles, not full height walls. If special lights were turned on... the air might actually be green, as if Pepe le Pew walked by... le stink!

3)Inappropriate work attire.... I don't own a business  and never really have, and I pretty sure that wearing the TIGHTEST jeans on the planet are not appropriate, no matter how sexy you are...ever! How tight is too tight? If I can see a hard line crease in your jeans where your butt meets your thighs, A) your jeans are too tight... B) you might want to eat some yogurt...I'm just saying...

4) Disrepect for others food and food containers. So while I am not prepared to storm into my office asking who drank my apple juice, I do wonder who used all my mocha latte creamer and who ate the last of my jello... I am watching...

4 continued) Also- if you lunch container is on the verge of being consumed by the next 3-D version of swamp thing, I suggest you throw the entire container away. Not me nor the enitre office is ready to get E.coli or some other alien bacteria because you can't  remember toss your chicken piccata turned oozy green/blue/blue mush with mold flowers.

5) Use of unnecessary force: see conversation below.

Office Manager: "You need to clean up your work in teh library. We have a lunch and learn today and we will need those tables."

Me: " Yes, I know.. I only plan to work for a little while longer and then I will move my work back to my desk. Besides its only 8 am and the presenation isn't until noon."

OM: "Well you still need to clean up your work, because we will need ALL of the tables for the presentation. Also, your department loves to leave all the chairs spread out through the room.... so you should be sure to tuck ALL of the chairs in at the correct tables before the presentation as well."

Me: "Um..ok."

I immediately clean up my space in the library and when  I go back to put the chairs away. The tables cloths have already been set out for lunch. It was 8:15 am.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Additions to the Gaines household...

.....soooooo..... the same week that HGTV blessed our living room with a much need makeover, two lovely white stray dogs entered into our backyard and adopted us as owners/landlords.

We named them Jack and Lucy. Lucy is on the right. I'm not sure if you can tell in the photo, but Lucy was riding low when she first arrived out the house. They both were starving and scared out of their minds. It took days to earn their trust and make them feel somewhat safe.

Lucy on the left, Jack on the right.


And within a week, Lucy gave birth to three fully healthy beautiful white puppies. Two girls and one boy. The boy is the one wrapped in Lucy's front paws with the wavy hair. This picture was taken the morning after they were born.


This is me with the puppies at 2.5 weeks. They were just starting to open there eyes.

Here are the puppies at 4 weeks in our bathroom with Lucy standing guard. She was never comfortable in the house so she would run in and out to check on the babies. Meanwhile, I sat in the corner stunned by cuteness.


We named them after there appearances: Curly, Fattie, and Tiny.


This is Fattie.



Lucy and the puppies in the "den" that we created with my cousins crate, some blankets, towels and sheets.

video

This is a video of the puppies at 6 or 7 weeks. We moved them into the breakfast nook of our house to start socializing with humans and weaning from the mom....The one howling is Curly. We named his that after is long curly hair. His new family that adopted him a few weeks ago renamed him Namche after a city they visited in Nepal.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Got PRIDE!

For the past two years now, I have volunteered for the LGBT pride festival in West Hollywood. I have typically volunteered in the beverage section serving beers (mostly bud light) to anyone in possession of enough tickets. What's soooo awesome about pride is the collective sigh of comfort and safety that everyone feels for those 3 days and nights. Believe me, no one is holding back there waiting for next year.

Crazily enough,  its that same self-expression that I find so amazing, that seems to always  have the community in the news for some type of attack on morals or personal values because of the choices its constituents make or for behaving in a certain way. Really, it's that big of deal if a girl wants to wear a tuxedo to prom or if a guy wants to wear a dress? But I also, kinda, understand the dilemna that some consevatives may have with the label of self expression. While I don't see anything wrong with a girl wearing a tuxedo or fading her hair, or adopting an overall appearance similar to a man's, I do see how people walking around in pasties or extreme latex panties that leave nothing for the imagination can be somewhat disconcerting. I don't know of any other festival in a major city where people can walk around naked and it's expected to be ok. Particularly, if children are around. But just because I don't choose to wear those things doesn't mean that they don't have signifcance for the person who does...I have talked to people who truly feel as though leather, studs, and all other sorts of things are part of their self expression.  So, would I want to  walk down the street in head to toe bondage gear, well no, but I will fight for the right for someone to do so (espeically if I have to bombarded with pictures and video of celebrities asses and sex tapes on tv and in magazines that have nothing to do with self expression and everything to do with exploitation). And of course lets face it, that's part what makes pride so much fun, the surprise and spectacle of it all.

Unfortunately, that same spectacle seems to reinforce bullying, violence, and enhance overall disregard for humanity.  I am not quite sure what makes people so angry, so filled with hatred, so upset at the ideas of the LGBT community that they are driven to violence. I am also not sure why they feel so personal affected by a community that they have no interest in participating with or helping. You don't believe that gay marriage is ok, fine, then don't get gay married (Wanda Sykes) . Why does it bother you so much  if two other people do? You don't think homosexuality is right? So what?! I think your open/closeted bigotry is wrong and hypocritcal. But I am not going to fire bomb your house, or beat you death with a bat... Is your heart just so concerned that they gays won't get to heaven because of the choice of their lifestyle? Well, that's on you, because its not a choice for everyone. Sure, its a choice for the drunk girl on springbreak who wants to show how awesome she is by making out with her girlfriends; but not for 5 year old boys who want to walk around in the mom's high heels or for the girl who knows that she was born into the wrong body and shouldn't have breasts or a vagina. Those are not choices; that is DNA expressing itself.

The entire organizational effort behind PRIDE is arguing for equality rights, equal protection, and limiting prejudice while in a safe and friendly environment. Their efforts, as a minority who can strongly pull together, fight for equality and try to sway policy are unparalleled in today's world, at least in my opinion. And as they continue to struggle, I will continue to fight for equal rights for everyone. I am so rooting for the gays.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Your view is important...

Civilization is a stream with banks. The stream is sometimes filled with blood from people killing, stealing, shouting and doing the things historians usually record, while on the banks, unnoticed, people build homes, make love, raise children, sing songs, write poetry and even whittle statues. The story of civilization is the story of what happened on the banks. Historians are pessimists because they ignore the banks for the river.


Will Durant (1885–1981), U.S. historian. Life (New York, Oct. 18, 1963).

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Desparately seeking friends :-|

This past Sunday I attended my cousin beautiful wedding ceremony here in temperate southern California. During the one of the speeches at the reception, my cousin commented that he often makes fun of his new bride for not having enough female friends. At the exact moment, my husband glanced at me and telepathically said, "That's totally you!"

I used to think I had bag full o' broads that I could call friends, until my husband asked me who...So I pushed my chest out and said I have the best group of female friends ever!

1)Jenn
2)Siris
3)Monica
4)Diana
5)Sarah
6) Naana

then he added a caveat of, female friends who I could actually hangout with....

1)Kent
2)Jason
3)Adam
4)Chuck
damn
5)Jindy

This is the sad story of my friendless life. Jindy is a new friend that I am getting closer with as the months go by, but  I am truly missing a serious girlfriend. A homie!

Where are you GF? I can't keep taking my husband to the shoe department everytime we go out... he might divorce me.

NOTICE: Nice professional woman in search of similar female with modern, boho taste, that likes wine, food, and fun. Are you out there looking for me too? Are you bummed that you don't have someone to share TrueBlood, Tina Fey, high heels, good books, and ice cream with? If so, then I am the friend for you. And while I love children, I don't have any yet, so you probably shouldn't either. I have friends with children and they usually don't have time for friends, or they don't have time for me (and rightly so, children are important)... either way, if you have kids, how can we drink wine into the wee hours of the morning while watching Amelie and pretending to speak french to the TV.

And before this turns into a desperate ad for some lonely chick living in one of the biggest cities in the country, I would like to say that new friendship without the crutch of the educational system is difficult. Have you made very many new friends since undergrad or graduate school? How I can I meet like mind ladies to have fun with?

Maybe I should ask some of my boys?

But the real kicker is, if friends are so hard to find why to do I have so many male friends and not female? I can tell you for sure that they aren't watching Amelie with me on the weekends (not that my husband would approve of that anyway).

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Where does time go?

Like all other yahoos who wake up everyday, I am amazed with the passage of time. It's relativity is actually astounding. I can sit here and type about all the things that I feel like I just did yesterday, when I actually did them six months ago. And of course this feeling of relativity explodes once you have children or plants or a pet or something. Something that you can watch grow before your eyes will always pull you back into a complete shock of how fast time flies by. And I know that none of this is new. We still around at lunch muttering "oh I can't believe how fast summer got here" or "wow, I feel like we just celebrated Christmas."

Part me thinks that we say these things because there are inevitable and unenviable tasks associated with certain months. For example, everybody knows that April is a bummer because of tax season, even if you file your taxes before then.

"Ugh, I can't believe April is here already." 

October is the same way! Because you know that once Halloween is gone, its Thanksgiving, Christmas, and then New Year's day, and then tax season again.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Conversations with friends

Last night I went out for dinner and drinks with friends of mine who work in the same industry as me. We are all attending a internationally recognized conference in Philidelphia next month for everyone in our field.

Me: "So what are our plans for the conference."

K:  "We get drunk every night we're there."

A:  "I am not so sure that a good idea. I don't want this to be a repeat of Chicago. I say we go out Tuesday night only. That will be fun."

Me: "You know, my goal for the conference is have as many men hit on me as women hit on K. That's what would make my night. I figure with the conference in Philly, I raise my chances at least 50% over not getting hit on at all last year at the Vegas conference. There is a good possibility the larger concentration of black men there will find me attractive."

K: "What are you talking about? Everyone thinks you're attractive! I say 'Me and Lauren...' and someone almost always says 'oh the attractive one?"

A: "It's true. People in my office say the same thing!"

Me: "Wait! So my subtitle is "the attractive one"?!? Awesome! I would prefer "smart, attractive", but hey! I will take it!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Something to remember

I have known a vast quantity of nonsense talked about bad men not looking you in the face. Don't trust that conventional idea. Dishonesty will stare honesty out of countenance any day in the week, if there is anything to be got by it.

- Charles Dickens. In All the Year Round (1860). The narrator (Mr. Sampson), in Hunted Down, ch. 2, New York Ledger (1859).

Monday, March 14, 2011

Madness....

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love, LOVE, LOOOOOVE the NCAA men's basketball tournament. It's my favorite sporting event of the year. I don't care about the superbowl or the NBA, PGA, or nascar. Give me young men in the 20's reaching for a dream anyday over the extremely well paid and poor tempered league of professional athletes. The hunger and the drive of the collegiate level player can result in the most amazing plays, turnovers and upsets. As an east coaster, I am generally a fan of all the ACC conference schools, except Duke. The blue devils can suck it! Who needs all those championships? The same thing goes for UNC. The sky is not Tarheel blue, thank you! This year I am rolling with OSU, baby! That's right, Buckeyes, you have a sister among you! So, fill out your brackets and get ready to watch 72 hours of non stop, heart racing, so-good-you-could-listen-to-it-in-your-car-if-you-had-to basketball and know that out in LA, I am sitting there glued to the TV with you!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

March

March is an interesting month in my family. It's the month with the most family birthdays - 10. It's the month when the weather pretends like it's going to get better and then it rains for 2 weeks straight and all you can say is "Well, at least it's not snowing..."

March is also the month when my grandfather passed away. While many of my friends were not lucky enough to grow up with grandparents, a signifcant part of my childhood involved living with and being raised by my grandparents. My grandfather was my dad. He was my chauffer to doctor's appointments, he videotaped field hockey games, he taught me how to drive, and he misty-eyed when I went to the prom. He even let my date drive his gigantic black lincoln.

Unfortunately, my grandfather did not make to it to see me get married or buy a house or settle into a satisfying career path. When he first passed away, it was so hard for me to understand what the world was supposed to be like without him. Even now, I find myself wanting to call him and ask for help. If I could talk to him now, I would ask him, what would you want people to know about you. Here is what I think he would want me to say:

1) My grandfather loved his girls: My grandmother, my mom, and my sister and me. We were light of his life and nothing made him made more proud than when we accomplished something, so he could brag about it.

2)My grandfather liked nice things but worked really hard for them. My granfather used to drive what my mom and I would call the mafia lincoln because everything was black: black leather, black cloth top, black paint, black interior, super dark tinted windows. When I was 7 I couldn't wait to grow up so I could have a lincoln continental of my own. My grandfather drove that car to the dry cleaners that he opened in a little area called Columbia, Maryland. He worked hard in that store and was sure to show me the value of ownership and hardwork.

3)He could fix anything. In this day and age, where we all sit at a computer and pretend like we know a lot about a lot of different things, my grandfather actually did. He replaced brakes on his car, replaced a toliet in one of the powder rooms in his house, ran his own business, owned rental properties, started a second business for residential lawncare, and fixed my grandmother's curling irons on more than one occasion.

4)He was a loving son. I had never seen my grandfather cry until the day his own father passed away. During the last few months of my great-grandfathers life, my grandfather was given power of attorney and took control of the family. He moved his father into our house with the help of a hospital bed, a part time nurse, and food delivery service. When the end came, my grandfather made arrangements and was the definition of class while dealing with all the necessities. During the finally hymn of the service, everyone went up to pay their final respects and I saw my grandfather break down. A mighty oak weeping and all I could do was cry with him.

My grandfather was a good man. While it's still difficult for me to understand the world without him and accept all the baggage that goes along with death of a loved one, I try to remember that he is somewhere better, not suffering, not sick, and hopefully eating fantastic meals, each of which end in a gigantic bowl of butter pecan ice cream.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Do big things....

When I was freshmen in college, my globe-trotting cousin finally made his way home to Chicago from his sabbatical abroad. When he returned to the states, he brought beautiful musical instruments from Ghana, a tank top and headwrap for me from Mali, and serious case of malaria. The disease incubated in his system for months upon months until finally it decided to rear its ugly head and when it did it was really, really bad.

I remember walking to Evanston Hospital from campus because it was so beautiful that morning. I didn't really know that much about malaria or what exactly it did  to people besides make you sick and then eventually kill you. Once I finally got there, I sat in his room for a few hours while doctors came in and out to examine him. Some were actually assigned to his case, while others were so intrigued by his severe case of malaria that they just wanted to bother him like an animal at the zoo. When his dedicated doctor came to visit, he told me about how lucky my cousin was, how cases this far advanced are rarely seen in developed nations and that it took copious amounts of blood transfusions to save his life.

I have always donated blood when the school had a donation drive set up and I was happy to give what I apparently had plenty of. I never felt connected to my donation or really gave it a second though after getting my juice box and cookies. But the real life use of donated blood saved my cousins life. And that gave me a second and third thought.

I bring this up because, today,  I finally did something that I have been meaning to do for years, I registered with the National Bone Marrow Registry. Since my cousin recovered from malaria, I faithfully donated blood whenever I could because I understood emotionally how it can save more than just a life, but a family. And while my cousin desperately needed those transfusions, there was blood to be had. Thousands of people go without matches for marrow and succumb to any number of problems that could have been delayed or resolved.

Today, I am proud that I made a decision that shows that I understand that marrow donation is painful and cumbersome and I am still willing to save the life of a stranger. I am proud that I have not only the clear and open mind, but also a clean bill of healthy, that allow me this amazing opportunity. And that is a big thing!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Marriage?

Today is my second wedding anniversary with my cutie pie husband and all I can say is that marriage is not what I expected. I spent a lot of my teenage years watching my family members sit in unhappy marriages while disrupting their kids lives because they were too selfish to divorce or simply divorced selfishly and put their kids in the middle. I looked at that and said "No Thank You!" to marriage. As I got older, I found that I liked my freedom and ability to do what I wanted and not have to ask anyone else their opinion. I mean, come on, I am NOT asking a man for permission to live my life, okay? I was smart, working, living in the fast paced city of LA and dating and it was fun. But eventually a patient man strolled into my life and blew up the self-fabricated "sex in the city" version of my life. He was handsome, sweet, caring, and smart! And I do like me a smart man! Alas, it was supposed to be fun and convenient until he left for graduate school on the other side of the country. Seriously, who gets into committed relationships with people who are preparing to move? Well, apparrently I do. And I say all this not because I have it so awesome and everyone should take advice from me, I say it because it was so unexpected. We were dating, knowing that he was leaving in a few months and still moved forward.

Eventually, my spidey senses were tripped and realized that I had a good man. No, I had a great man. He loved me, cared about me, came  from a great family, wanted to work hard and be successful and eventually start a family. How could I pass that up? But marriage? Marriage was not in my long term plans. How could I plan to do something that I had only seen people in my own family fail at? I didn't want to change how amazing our relationship was and I didn't want to get bored. And on top of all that I didn't want to release my ambition or my ability to take care of myself. I was so proud that I lived on my own and sent money home for my family. I was not going to be one of those women, who went golddigging, depending  on and using men for money.  I didn't need to because I was smart, educated, and level headed. But love has a funny way of distorting things. Just because I was in love didn't mean that I couldn't still be smart or educated or self reliant- it meant that I didn't have to be those things alone.



Now that I look back on those feelings, it all seems so immature. But I realize that eveyone has fears about getting married and those were just mine. I now know that there isn't a prescription or dedicated form of marriage for everyone. My marriage is not the same as my friends' marriages. My marriage is not my family's marriage and does not have to be unbearable like theirs. I love my husband and I am glad that we work together to live the kind of life that we want. We don't make excuses for ourselves. We do the things that we want and that's it. Our marriage is what we make it.  All of the awful things that I understood marriage to be while growing up were completely countered by the amazing marriages my husband saw growing up.  He had the tools and the patience to work with me  so we could create something special and unique for us.

Marriage is a privilege and I feel blessed that I have someone who wants to share that privilege with me.

Happy Anniversary!

Monday, February 7, 2011

January and February and beyond...

2011 is already set to be a big year in the Gaines household! We were receently the subjects of an HGTV room makeover. (Stay tuned for airing details)YAY! We have decided to reintroduce "hustle" back into our lives after purchasing a home and making it comfortable. I am preparing for not only the GMAT but the inevitable conversation that I will have with my employer, where I try to convince him that it is to his benefit to pay for my B-school tuition. And finally, we decided that this year and probably next year are not the years for baby making... practice, yes, but actual baby creation has officially been taken off the table.

Now that January is over, do your New Year's resolutions still make sense? Are they still achievable? I know its only been a month, but January flew by and I am not sure that I made the most it. Sheesh, if January can go by that quickly, you know how fast the rest of the year can go. It's important those things we thought about at the end of last year and the beginning of this year stay relevant and part of current decision making processes. Everyday, I need to decide to act and not procrastinate. Everyday, I will have to make the choice to try something new, to be courageous, and every once in a while, I will have to accept that a result of trying something new may include failure(but hopefully not as often as success).

With tax season slowly climbing into view along with Spring, last year's winter declarations can easily fade into distant memories. I don't want my declarations to be meaningless. Nor do I want them to be things that can be put off until next year. Having the same resolution year after year, not only sucks, but means that I haven't intentionally grown as a person. Yes, we are shaped by things that happen to us, but I am talking about taking an active hand in the kind of life one wants to live. I don't want to be a procrastinator, so quite simply, I have to start acting and stop waiting.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Motherhood....

One of the things I plan on diving into ALL the time is my serious angst regarding children. Not other people's children, but my future children.  That's right, children who don't currently even exist. Today, while reading Clutch Magazine (Great online Mag full of well-written opinion pieces) was a fantastic article about a woman who does not want to be a mother at this moment in time. She talks about how someone regarded that decision as selfish and assumes that as soon as this phase passed in her life, she would be aching to have babies...

You can see my response to the article and the other responses: here.

In response to my response, I found this quote and thought it very telling:

It was palpable, all that wanting: Mother wanting something more, Dad wanting something more, everyone wanting something more. This wasn't going to do for us fifties girls; we were going to have to change the equation even if it meant . . . abstaining from motherhood, because clearly that was where Mother got caught.

     - Anne Taylor Fleming, U.S. author and essayist. Motherhood Deferred, ch. 4 (1994).

As I said on Clutch, choosing to NOT have a child is selfish for who? The woman? If she thinks that she will be happy and satisfied with her life without kids, who are we to judge? Is it selfish to her unborn children? Doubtful. What is more selfish, not having kids when you don't want them or having kids when you don't want them? Children deserve loving parents who even if they didn't plan for them, still WANTED and WANT them. Otherwise, the parents can sometimes resent the children who represent all the things they could have done. Being a parent is a blessing and no one should have children unless they want to.

Finally, what makes a woman selfish for wanting to maintain a lifestyle that she wants? No one says that to bachelors who don't want to settle down. Do we possess some crazy instinctual need to birth someone? Maybe, but probably no more than men  feel the urge to spread their seed into anything with two legs....

PS: In no way am I speaking to parents who did not want kids at a certain time, meaning your babies came before you thought you were ready.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Service and the Way We Treat Each Other....

With the passing of the MLK holiday, I thought that it would be a perfect time to reflect on my standards of living and how much more I could do for those less fortunate. I started a post a while ago and the text sat lifelessly on the screen. Everything I wrote seemed very trite and like a cliche you try out after just learning about similes and metaphors. Yes, we should help others, but who has time for that between kids, work, commuting, and grocery shopping.  And yes, on Saturdays I should wake up and travel to the shelter and help feed some homeless people who could really use the food, but Saturday is my only day to sleep in, do an intense work out, and study for the GMAT....

and then I listen to myself sounding like the type of American the rest of the world despises...


I am truly too stuck in the fog of my own life, more often than not, to realize how amazing my life actually is. I don't mean I am SO amazing and perfect and stuck up. I mean that I am blessed and don't do enough to spread those blessings around.

My husband recently showed me a snippet of a TED lecture that was such an awakening. If you don't know what TED talks/ lectures are, you should look them up. Jill Bolte Taylor got me within two minutes of this clip.The clip is approximately 20 minutes long, and I know that is a long time to try and stay on some crazy lady's blog- but this is worth it. Dr. Taylor describes the difference between the different sides of the brain and how human behavior might be a little kinder if we were able to tap into the right hemisphere more often. This epiphany was brought on by a stroke and her recovery....


I have added her to my personal list of heroes.... I think she is amazing and I would love to meet her and tell her so.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

X eludes me.....

To anyone else studying for the math portion of a standardized test... I salute you. We, verbal folk, are not meant for these calculations and data sufficiency questions... We are the people of reading comprehension, essay writing, and sentence correction.  Yes I do know the difference between their, there and they're and I know the difference between postulate, pontificate, and predicate.... but I do not and might not ever know what "x" is....at least for today.

Monday, January 10, 2011

To my husband.....

Enid Bagnold:

In marriage there are no manners to keep up, and beneath the wildest accusations no real criticism. Each is familiar with that ancient child in the other who may erupt again.... We are not ridiculous to ourselves. We are ageless. That is the luxury of the wedding ring.

Gainesy: I love you.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Literary Musings...

An awesome passage from what I am reading now...

On The Road by Jack Kerouac:

But  then they danced down the streets like dingledodies, and I shambled after as I've been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight and pop and everybody goes "Awww!"

Monday, January 3, 2011

Introduction, please!

I would like to introduce everyone to my boyfriend. Yes, if you read my profile, it does say that I am married. But I have to tell you that this new thing in my life takes up so much time! I forget errands, I lose track of time, and I always feel on edge while in the middle of our time. Yes, my boyfriend's name is MAT, as in my GMAT prep test booklet. (*swoon*, it teaches me math!)

Part of the reasoning of this blog is to condition myself to a new type of schedule. Since I have been out of school, ah hem, for a while, the art of studying seems somewhat foreign, but in a good way. I feel so learned sitting with my books in Starbucks, multiplying x's, factoring, calculating percentages, and more. Yes, way more. I also have come to peace with the fact that you will ultimately at some point in life have to use the math that you should have learned in high school. Can anyone remember what a hyperbola is? No?  For all those English majors, its not a typo, a hyperbole is something else.This new 2011 schedule involves writing down inspirations for the blog, studying for the math part of the test,  keeping my hubris in check regarding the verbal section, work, and husband time.

A recent discovery, while pondering my journey around "the wall" (if you don't know what I am talking about, read back a few posts), was that I needed to hurry up and go to graduate school, if I ever plan on going. 30 is knocking at my door and soon babies will be required of me (still yet another story for later) and the thought of being pregnant or having a toddler at home while I am trying to get it on with my GMAT test booklet is daunting, if not down right frightening. So, is anyone else on the verge of procuring a post graduate degree? Any b-school applicants feeling the heat like me? I would love to know that there are others out there feeling like its now or never for grad school!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Good Bye 2010 and Hello 2011!!!

Yesterday, my husband and I went to a small gathering of friends to ring in the new year. The hostness prepared an end-of-the-year exercise for all those in attendance to participate. We all wrote down on a small piece of paper some bad behavior or negative thought that we did not want to carry into the new year with us. Then we burned the piece of paper and selected an affirmation from a randomly scattered about pile. This year, I am determined to do away with my habit of procrastination. I burned it!!! For too long have I not done things, because I could convince myself to do them later. And what purpose does that serve? This behavior certainly doesn't help me. Do you know how many things I could have accomplished, if I had just done them??? Good bye Procrastination, you are no longer welcome here!

The affirmation I chose said "I am courageous in 2011!"

I am super excited about that! I AM courageous and will be so for the remainder of 2011 and so on. It's amazing how the passing of a single day can help you feel released from a whole year's worth of  weight. As  2011 begins, I look forward to the more courageous version of myself, who gets things done promptly and then does more things, promptly! Usually, we all list out ridiculously ambiguous goals for the new year like "eat healthier," "be more active", " be nicer," etc. when really what we could probably use are 2-3 simple concrete behavioral changes that would affect everyday lives.  And yes, being more courageous in 2011 falls into that category of poorly defined resolutions, but so what! Its makes me feel good.

On the phone today with my family, we all shared our hopes and resolutions for the new year. All of the adults talked about being more patient, being kinder, working harder, taking care of self, and all other sorts of mental and spiritual improvements (similar to the point I made in the previous paragraph). Our 10 year old niece got on the phone and then said that in 2011, she wants to be able to shoot a basketball further and learn how to play tennis. Period.  Apparently, 10-year-olds need no spiritual improvement, just simple easy to achieve physical goals. Self-assurance and esteem help be damned!

Of course, upon hearing her simple concrete goals listed for 2011, my new internal resolution, after self improvement and all that, is to get on the treadmill at least 2 times a week. Now, tell me I am not courageous!