The Sweetie Chronicles

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~William Wordsworth

Success and Failure

While working through my own issues with confidenc and inner struggles with the decisions and choices I have made, I have slowly been realizing that I have based so much of my happiness on expectations,some of which I am not entirely sure where they came from. Let me explain...

There is a part of me that feels a little like a failure just because I am 31 and am not married with children. Now, as much as I champion Sex and the City and their single girl life, there will always be a part of me that feels like I should follow the standard southern girl path of married around 24 with kids around 26'ish. Where did this expectation come from? This idea of success? It's not like my parents told me that I should be married with kids. It probably has more to do with the small town church type atmosphere where they constantly bombard you with questions about your relationships and such from the age of 15. Also, you watch every single person you went to high school with getting married and having kids and you start to feel like the odd man out.

Another example is the idea that by 31 my career should be set in a 9-5 type job making decent money and earning retirement. Being an "artist" or "musician" was cute back in the day, but if you haven't made it by now, chances are you should teach or find some other means of employment, right? If you can't hold down a job that people can easily define, you aren't truly successful. Or at least that's the way I feel against my own will. Truthfully, staying home, taking a risk to achieve my dreams as a writer, THAT should be success. But there's some unseen code written into my genetics or something that constantly nags at me otherwise. A lot of this comes from my parents, I know. Maybe they just want me to be happy and they think that only stability in money can lead to my happiness, but aren't they the ones who told me that I could do anything I set my mind to? Or did that somehow expire when I hit 30??

G and I have talked about this a lot. I think there are a lot of hidden messages sent to women in our country about what equals success and what equals failure. Marriage (happy or unhappy doesn't really matter as long as you have your act together in public), two or three kids, and a steady stable job. That is the magic equation. You should go to bed at 10 and wake up at 6, exercise, eat right, wear certain kinds of clothes and tell cute stories about your adorable children. In terms of All-American happiness, I guess I am an All-American loser. I know I am not a failure, but I'm so tired of struggling against these invisible but very real barreiers that were placed on me and ingrained in me since childhood. This is definitely something I need to think about a bit more. I have to get to Weight Watchers though and try to continue my journey to at least looking more like I "should". I'll leave you with this: watch Carrie Underwood's new video to her song "All-American Girl" and tell me this... How many stereotypes of typical American happiness and expectations can you see??

New Trailer for SATC leaked


Someone has leaked the extended movie trailer for Sex and the City, so I of course went straight to youtube to watch it yesterday. It looks amazing. From what I can tell, it looks like the main idea of the movie is Carrie getting married to Big (aka John James Preston). One clip has her saying "I let the wedding get bigger than Big." which seems to spell out trouble in paradise for the two off-again-on-again lovers. The trailer also makes it look like maybe Steve cheated on Miranda, which is very hard to believe, and will most definitely make me cry. Charlotte gets pregnant, and also has many scenes with her now 2 or 3 year old daughter. It's hard to tell what's going on with Samantha, but I didn't see Smith in any of the clips so far. My personal favorite part of the trailer though is when Big asks Carrie if he should get her a diamond and she says, "No, just get me a really big closet!" I cannot wait for this movie to come out! It's like seeing long lost friends again and catching up on what's been going on in their lives. i can't believe they are making me wait until the end of May. How cruel.

Three Poems

Today finds me at a loss of what to write about, so instead I will share a couple of poems that I wrote a while back. They are a bit rough, but from the heart.

Memory

In a bar across town
We gathered with smiles
And friendly faces.
I eased into the moment
Afraid of the hopes it held
In laughter and good time fun.
But just as I began to breathe
Someone lit the mach
And inhaled depply.
The source of it all was there
On the table burning slowly
Like a fogotten campfire.
I watched as the white ghost of it
Raised up in circles
Twisting and slightering upwards.
It danced with the air around me
And became a part of the mood
Of the place...
I watched, unable to move,
A the phantom snake
Coiled around my neck.
I couldn't help but breath it in.
And even then I knew
That later I would be able
To smell it in my hair.

Homecoming

I Remember swimming in the basement
of the hotel my last night in Frankfurt.
the pool drinking the tears from my eyes,
savoring them like salt-water taffy
deep in the water's womb
the hum in my ears was almost a lullaby
almost peace
each sound a muffled cousin of its true-self
but I could find no sanctuary
in the immersion
i used to Love as a child.
I Remember-
as a child, I used to Love -
but I do not remember the flight across the sea -
only my mother's face
and the way it felt to be coming home.

Reversal

My body is an open cup,
my cave is mystery, designed to receive
yet hidden and warm and dark.
Your body is a piercing sword,
Your rock is earth-bound, penetrating,
solid and towering and strong.

Yet, it is you who is mysterious.
It is you who opens your mouth and leans your head back
while I pour myself into you like a waterfall.
No wonder it makes me want you more.
You expand my emptiness,
punctuate my need for you.

Be careful with this role reversal
or you may become the one who,
not designed to hold it in,
is so full you fall to the ground in a wasted splash,
instead of releasing yourself in that thrust of love
and passion I wonder if you’ve ever truly felt…
while I become but a speck of dust on your hand,
a ghost of feeling, dried out,
and brushed away on the wind.

Valerie Bertinelli's New Book


Valerie Bertinelli has a book that just came out called "Losing It: And Gaining my Life Back One Pound at a Time" and I think I am going to go buy it today. I got a coupon from Barnes and Noble today to get it for only fifteen bucks, so I think I should go get it. Not just because I have a coupon, but because it directly applies to my life also. Yesterday I was folding clothes and happened to turn on the TV and see Oprah's interview of Valerie. First of all, she looks amazing. I remember when I first saw the Jenny Craig commercial of her where she was so big, and I thought, wow, is that really her? Now, though, she looks amazing! And how old is she? Right around 40 I would guess, but she doesn't look a day older than 30 in my opinion.

Her interview was pretty interesting yesterday. I had no idea she had such an amazing sense of humor! She talked about her relationship with Steven Spielberg back when she was 19 and about how she met Van Halen and their life together. She talked about having a moment when she was watching a recent made-for-tv movie that she did for Hallmark and she barely recognized herself. She said she was thinking "Who is that ugly, old, fat woman?" and she knew she had to lose weight. Then she talked about how with every pound she lost, she also let go of some personal and emotional baggage that she had been carrying around. I think I need to do that too.

She has baggage, she says, about her marriage to Eddie because they both cheated on each other and had a lot of rough times. I don't have any cheating baggage (at least I dont know that he cheated on me), but I do have baggage of other kinds, and it isn't fair to G if I keep holding onto it. Holding onto the past is really just another way that we find an excuse to not move on and make the most of our future. If we hold onto it, we can always say "well, I wouldn't feel that way except that in the past, such and such happened to me and I never really got over it." We play the sympathy card with ourselves and with others in order to avoid certain things. If we let go of all the bad things that happened to us, we sort of lose our crutch, so to speak. We can't fall back on that trusty excuse anymore. Of course, our past makes us who we are, to a certain extent. We should accept that, embrace it, and move on so that we can create positive memories and experiences from now on.

In her interview with Oprah, Valerie said something that I realy took to heart. She said that she had been focusing on the negative in life for so long that she finally thought it was time to give the good thoughts a try. She changed her outlook on life and on her own body and self, pictured how she wanted to look and what she wanted to be like, and then she took steps to become that. Oprah held up her book and showed her the cover, then asked "Is this who you pictured?" Valerie's eyes teared up and she had an AHA! moment about her own success and she said, "Yes, yes it is."

Angelina and Brad Get Ready for Number 5


Angelina Jolie-Pitt is having another baby. This will be the second biological child of Brad and Angelina, but will be their 5th child including their adopted children. Their family of four (Maddox, 6; Pax, 4; Zahara, 3; and biological child Shiloh, 1) is expanding to five, and it doesn't seem that they will stop there. I guess it doesn't really affect me one way or another if they stop at five or if they have 100 children. But what gets me is this: How can they raise five kids, have non-stop blockbuster movie deals, meet with world leaders to discuss their opinions, and manage fame and looking fabulous 24 hours a day? Not to mention still keeping up with their marriage, which appears to be the model of perfection?? I can hardly keep my laundry done.

I guess you could attribute their success in keeping their lives together to money, but we all know that money does not exactly equal happiness and I've-got-my-life-together-ness (as shown by celebs like Britney and about 1000 others). I think that is what intrigues me so much about them. How do they do it all? And is it real? Or are they only showing us what they want us to see? Tabloids have certainly tried to dish out trash about how Brad still loves Jennifer and how Angelina throws temper tantrums, but those stories never seem to rile the couple as they continue to snuggle and smile, babies all around them. I guess one part of me thinks they are complete fakes. I can imagine them secretly having 8 nannies who run their household and arguing all the time when they actually see each other, only putting on their smiles for the public to see. I picture Angelina Jolie crying about how Brad cheats on her or how their perfect life is all a big game. Sometimes it's easier to imagine that it's fake, because if it's not, then I'm way behind on the success curve.

But another part of me sincerely hopes that in the middle of all the Hollywood buzz and drama, there is a real modern family that loves each other and are really truly happy and successful in every area of their lives. Why would I hope for that or even care? Because it would at least prove that it is possible. And if that is possible in a world where cameras are always in your face and pressure is all around you, then it's possible anywhere in anyone's life. I may not have that exact kind of happiness yet (and I definitely don't think five children would equal happiness for me, haha)... I feel that I am on the cusp of it. I mean, life is never going to be perfect, but why settle for less before you even try to find that perfect happiness?

Get Better Already!


I HATE being sick. Not that there's anyone who actually enjoys it, but seriously, I am fucking miserable. I have had a severe cold for four days now and geniunely felt better yesterday. Foolishly, I believed that when I woek up this morning I would magically be all better. Not so. I think in some ways I actually feel worse. How is that possible??

There is so much pressure behind my eyes that they feel like they are going to pop out of their sockets and lead a life of their own any minute. When I blow my nose, it comes out bright green and yellow and I'm thinking that just is not a good sign at all. Right now, I would probably kill to have two nostrils I could actually breath out of or be able to take a deep breath period without coughing. When I talk,I hear hints of losing my voice altogether, which is never a good thing either. And you know that under-water hearing you get when you have a cold? It's as if I've reverted back to my mother's womb and everyone is trying to talk to me through a pod of fluid.

I don't think I have the flu because you usually get a fever with the flu right? I think all I'm really battling here is the common cold, but this is brutal. I guess I am a bit of a wimp. I mean, millions of people go through this every day right? How do people actually go to work feeling like this? I know that I used to go and actually jump around to silly Kindergarten music all day feeling like this, but somehow I've regressed into severe wimpiness I guess, because there is no way I could teach music today if I had to. What I really want to do is crawl right back into bed. The problem is, that even though I know I need rest, the cold itself rebells against my wellness and makes my sleep miserable by clogging up my nose even worse and waking me up with coughs and general ickiness.

What kind of ickiness you might ask? I had vivid dreams last night about my sister trying to shoot me with her 20 gauge shotgun and also my ex-husband J made a few cameo appearances. How much worse could sleep really get?

I think I will just bundle up under my Hello Kitty blanket and watch last night's episodes of Survivor and American Idol that I recorded. That's bound to make me feel better.

The Essence of Cool

What makes something cool? Have you ever noticed that something that looks so cool on someone else can look totally stupid on you? Maybe I'm alone here, but I see some great fashion or trend and think it looks hot... but the second I try to replicate it in my own wardrobe, it just looks hokey or stupid. Sometimes I am able to attribute this to the fact that I had to buy the "cheap" versions of the style because there was no way I was paying $400 for a pair of plaid pants or whatever. But I think the inevitable truth of it is that it comes down to how cool the person is that is trying to pull it off. #1 Ingredient needed for coolness? Confidence. Without a doubt. If you believe in something and have complete confidence in what you are doing or wearing, you can make anything work. For example, Shakira. Look at the way she dances. If I tried to dance like that I would constantly be thinking "oh my god, I look like an idiot". And the result would probably be that I, in fact, looked like an idiot. Shakira, however, looks totally hot no matter what she does. Even when she's doing that weird twitchy sort of dancing, she looks amazing. She's totally confident and that's why it works.

Of course, when I think about it, confidence can't be all there is to it. If you watched the American Idol auditions, you saw that there are lots of people out there who are confident and sure that they are good at what they are doing, but who look completely ridiculous to everyone else. So what's the second ingredient? To be honest, I am not sure. If I knew, I would probably have been a lot more popular growing up. From what I saw in High School, being cool was so much about who was willing to have sex and get drunk or have fun. I don't think that's really the key now that I'm older. I think it has more to do with looking good sometimes than anything else. Shakira looks good doing whatever because she just looks good period. So Ingredient #2 is good looks?? No, because there are cool ugly people right? Like Weird Al or even Steven Tyler. Maybe the key is just to know yourself and what really works for you. For the whore in my high school that lost her virginity at 13... sex and drugs worked for her and made her super popular for that time in her life.

I don't really have anyone that I want to be "cool" for right now, but i definitely need to work on my confidence and knowing myself better. I grew up in the middle of a family where my sister was always the coolest, even at my own birthday parties, she was the one people wanted to hang out with... and where my brother was the good looking personable one that everyone loved. As for me? I guess I was the nerdy one that had great potential. Can someone be 31 and still have potential? I hope so. It's about time I found that confidence I have always come up short of. Who knows? Maybe I'll publish a very cool book and be the coolest 32 year old writer to ever live. :)

Fear is the Enemy

I was feeling like crap all day yesterday, pretty much. Sore back, tummy ache, stuffy head, etc. I still made sure to get my writing done and to do some research and plot work for my next idea, but I wasn't feeling particularly creative to be honest. Not really a great way to start a test of my ability to kick my own ass, but at least I still got some work done.

My sweet boyfriend came home after lunch to make sure I was okay (and I suspect, to pick up his forgotten ID badge, but we'll pretend it was just for me). He let me lay down in the bed while he massaged my back and it was the sweetest thing in the world. He is so good to me, and it felt so nice to have his warm hands moving across my pained back. His hands always feel so soft and warm. Afterwards, I felt a little bit rejuvenated and ready to get back to the computer to write some more for the day.

He messaged me later on saying that I should write about what it feels like to be sick as reference for when one of my characters finds themselves sick. I think that is a pretty good idea, actually, but sometimes it is harder to write about how you feel right now than it is to look back on it later and write about it. There's just something about an experience being too close that makes it more difficult to write about. Or is that just another excuse that I use? Hmm, interesting thought, but I'll come back to that later. He also asked me "what did my massage feel like?" and wanted a descriptive answer. I immediately knew that I did not want to describe that massage. It was like a feeling came over me that I did not want to name, but which eventually I recognized as FEAR. Sure, this is a simple example of how fear can interrupt your life or even control your actions, but it is a true and honest example. Immediately I was concerned about creating a description and having it judged.

My first thought was of sabotage. To simply write, "It felt good." and dare him to criticise me or say I am a horrible writer. After all, isn't it always easier to pretend to be bad just so you can control the response? That way you don't actually have to try your best and still risk being told that it isn't good enough. My second thought was of procrastination, and that is the one I went for. I told him simply, "I am working on something else atm." He of course, understood, and said that I could tell him later. Crisis averted. Criticism avoided. Fear wins yet again.

Self-Discipline

If I have an achiles heel, it is this: Self-Discipline. I think I used to have it down when I was younger, but somewhere along the way I gave it up in favor of more "fun" things. As a rebellion to doing what others expected of me, I decided to just do what I want, which then bred laziness and fear, both of which are extremely dangerous. Wikipedia defines Self-discipline in the following way:

Self-discipline refers to the training that one gives one's self to accomplish a certain task or to adopt a particular pattern of behaviour, even though one would really rather be doing something else. For example, denying oneself of an extravagant pleasure in order to accomplish a more demanding charitable deed. Thus, self-discipline is the assertion of willpower over more base desires, and is usually understood to be a synonym of 'self control'. Self-discipline is to some extent a substitute for motivation, when one uses reason to determine a best course of action that opposes one's desires.


The only part of that definition that I think is wrong for me is that part where it says "even though one would rather be doing smething else". The truth is that I WANT to be writing and working out. I want to be thin and confident and be able to strut around wearing a size 6. I want to write a best-selling novel and spend my days knee-deep in a fantasy world of my own creation. I guess Wikipedia assumes that if you want those things, you won't need to discipline yourself in order to do them. Maybe I am a freak when it comes to this, but I have a sneaking suspicion that there are many people like me out there. People who want something and even know how to get it, but are being held back by some invisible force that has no name. I can't explain why I don't just work out and write all day. But I don't. And I want to.

So today I am setting out a plan for myself. I have written out a schedule for myself that details what I need to do each hour from 8:30 until 4:30 Monday through Friday. The only way I can be successful is to just kick my own ass and make myself follow it, no excuses, no exceptions. If I follow it exactly for 2 weeks and find that I am still just as lazy or just as fat with just as little actual writing product, then I will have to try something else. I have a feeling though that I will reach some goals along the way, so I am going to set some two-week success goals starting from today, the 19th until March 3rd.

Writing Goal: To have written 20,000 words minimum.
Weight loss Goal: To have lost 8 lbs. at the very least.

And what will I do to myself if I don't succeed? Well, that's just not going to be an option this time.

Wedding Paranoia

My brother is married! It is so hard to believe that he really did it, and even that he's old enough to be married already. I have to say one thing though, I love love love his new wife! I think he made a really good choice for himself, and I really hope they are going to be happy together for the rest of their lives. It's hard to believe I have a new sister, a brand new family member, but I couldn't be happier. I'll have to get out my camera and maybe post a picture of her wedding dress, it was one of the prettiest I have ever seen. Very girly and very beautiful.

So why is the title of this blog wedding paranoia? Well, because sitting there watching that wedding, and then talking to my cousin who is planning hers... then looking at ALL of my other cousins who are married with children... made me almost feel sick to be the "divorced" one. I immediately started talking to G about when we were going to tie the knot, and why he hasn't asked me to marry him yet, etc. I am surprised that he didn't go running for the hills! What is it about weddings that make almost every single girl in attendance start to feel as though their lives are incomplete? It amazes me that just simply being there and watching someone else make that choice pulls all this incredible pressure down on me along with feelings of uncertainty.

Somehow, I am programmed to believe that happiness and success are defined by things like marriage, children, and a successful career. When I sit down and think about it, I know that I don't even believe that those things lead to happiness in most cases, but still I feel the pressure, like it or not. I look around and many of my married friends who have kids are unhappy with their choice, feel underappreciated or unloved. Several of my friends have been cheated on, but they stay married because it makes them look happier and more successful than being divorced ever could, in their eyes. I hate that these images of marriage and children are so incredibly important to us as women that it actually makes us feel less successful just because we don't have them. We are almost taught that it is better to be married than it is to be happy.

The other thing I noticed is that unless you have the holy trinity of happiness (marriage, children AND a successful career), family members and others will be sure to hound you about the one you are missing and tease you about it until you feel like complete shit. To the married mother who has no job? "Nice to see you putting that fabulous degree to work on those poopey diapers! Hahaha!" To the divorced woman with kids and a very successful career? "Are you seeing anyone special these days? Anyone is bound to be better than that last one! Hahahaha" And what about the married woman with a good career but no kids yet? "Tick Tock, you know. You aren't getting any younger!" There's no end to the pressure women put on other women to get these three forms of success.

And what do they say to me? The divorced woman with no kids and technically no job? A combination of all of those things, really. I am the one they can all look down on as a failure simply because I don't have those three things by which most women measure success. It isn't easy to escape from those pressures and that brain-washed existence that you grew up in... but I will tell you that I have discovered this truth: We define our own happiness. I am successful and I am daring to live out my dreams and reach for something that most people are too scared to ever attempt. They can look down on me as not having what they have, but in my heart I know the truth about my life. My life is finally heading in the right direction, and I know that means I am a success.

Tummy Ache

I hate mornings when you wake up not feeling good. I mean, I understand having a headache or not feeling well during the day or at night, but sleep is supposed to have healing powers. When all else fails, isn't rest supposed to cure most ailments? Waking up with a headache or a tummy ache is just miserable. When sleep is usually the first thing I turn to when I'm feeling poorly, if I wake up feeling bad, I'm thinking "Oh great, what am I supposed to do now?" Obviously the sleep didn't work. I guess I am doomed to a day of not feeling well. And the worst part of it? It's Valentine's Day. For the first time in a very very long time, I am living with someone who is amazing and perfect for me. I should be feeling happy and skipping around the house singing love songs and hugging teddy bears. Oh well, I'm going to drink some water, give my love a big hug, and maybe go back to bed. Hopefully I will be feeling great before G gets home from work tonight.

The Writer's Strike is Over!

I awoke this morning to the good news, the writer's strike is finally over! I will admit that I haven't been obsessively following it, but I have been mildly interested. As a writer, I do certainly care about the concerns of writers in the entertainment industry, but it's been the little people that have been moe of my concern over the past few months. Without writers, sets were shut down, studios stopped filming, and while the rich complained about not being richer, the sound guys, the techs, the secretaries, the restaurants and waitresses near the studios... lost their jobs and couldn't make their rent.

When factory workers went on strike 80 years ago, it was because they were paid criminally low wages to work long painful hours with risk of injury and sometimes even death. They had a real cause and a real right to better pay and better working conditions. When they went on strike, they did so at the risk of starvation and being homeless, but they did it because they knew they could not go on another day working in that environment. (And some people because they had to since everyone else was, and they might get a brick thrown at them for crossing the picket lines)

My Dad told me stories of times when my grandfather's factory went on strike when he was a little boy. He said that they barely had any food to eat. The families in the neighborhood would band together and share food, having "cookouts" where they would build bonfires and roast hotdogs with no buns simply because they were cheap. He told how some families barely survived the strikes.

When Hollywood or Baseball goes on strike, it's not as if they are having to eat hotdogs just to stay alive. They still go back to their comfortable houses at night and kick back with their latte and bonbons. While I might be sympathetic to their cause in some ways, I hardly feel for them the same way I feel when I think about those poor families a century ago fighting for their rights to minimum wage and safety at work.

But anyway, it's over now, and happily, the shows will go on.

Amy Winehouse confuses me


For some reason, I just cannot get this girl out of my head. She bursts onto the American music scene with "Rehab" which I wasn't sure I liked at first because it was so different. The more I listened to her music though (back to black I love), the more I realized that she really is unique. There is no doubt that she has her own look for sure. That beehive is insane, and there's no telling what all she keeps in there. (look for the videos accusing her of pulling cocaine out of her hair and snorting it on stage) She definitely has talent, but she's also definitely fucked up.

What confuses me is that I am not sure whether to appreciate her talent apart from her fuck ups or to dismiss her because of it. It all depends on how I look at it, because I could go either way. She's drunk and high onstage a lot, she's in and out of rehab... is this someone I can look up to as an artist? There are hundreds of talented people out there who will never be half as famous or noticed as she is and who don't get crazy fucked up on drugs and maybe would appreciate that fame more. On the other hand, just because she's a contemporary doesn't mean we should forget about music artists of the past who were fucked up a lot. I mean, look at Janis Joplin, Billie Holiday, even the Beatles. Those are all prime examples of artists that I grew up loving and idolizing. They are also examples of people who did a lot of drugs. Have I ever blamed Billie Holiday for doing drugs and stopped loving her music because of it? No. I only regret that she did so many drugs she died. Period. I love Billie Holiday because she was unique. She took a style of music and completely made it her own. Sure, they may be hundreds of people out there who have nice voices and can sing... but to have the look, the style, and the ability to really create?? That is much more rare. And hey, some people might argue that it's the drugs and the being fucked up that helps them channel the muse, so to speak.

On the other hand, it gets hard to look up to stars who are drunk or high all the time and get away with it. I mean, if I snorted cocaine out on the streets, I am sure I would be arrested. Yet, there's a famous singer doing it in front of millions and she's just cool or needs to go to rehab. It's the same thing with sports heros. They make millions and millions of dollars to keep their bodies in top shape and perform athletically for their fans. So is a sports legend fired when he's found doing drugs or getting drunk every night? No way. Maybe he goes to rehab or maybe he takes a week off, but the ball clubs always welcome him back with open arms. Sometimes it just doesn't seem to make sense to me why we idolize these people who are only worth looking up to from a talent standpoint and not as a real person.

Haha, of course, then you have people like Brad and Angelina who are "movie stars with a heart", and I still want to puke when I think about them, so what the hell do I know? I guess my only conclusion can be this: Stop thinking of celebrities and artists and athletes as people to look up to. Admire their talent, appreciate their skills and creativity, and leave it at that. The truth is, they are just people like you and me, just with more money to spend on their drugs of choice and with cameras in their faces at all times to prove it.

Tarot Cards


I have always been interested in Tarot Cards and Ouija Boards, palm readings, and anything mystical or divinatory. My Christian background always had me feeling a bit guilty fo these interests when I was younger. I wondered if God was somehow disappointed in me for showing interest in obviously non-Christian methods of divination. As I have gotten older though, I have come to believe that there is a lot more to God than just the Bible and Sunday School.

I don't want to get into a debate about religion today, though. I just want to talk about Tarot cards, mainly. As I was emptying out boxes I brought home after selling the house last week, I found three different decks of Tarot Cards. They are old sets that I purchased years ago when I decided that I wanted to learn how to read them. I spent some time learning about the history of the cards and what their main purpose is, but I know that after years of not even looking at them, all that knowledge is locked away in some unreachable cavern of my brain.

Last night when G and I were playing on the computer, the power went out. One look out of the window revealed that in fact, the entire area had lost power. G pulled out his hand-cranked flashlight that I cleverly bought for him for Christmas, and we went for a walk to see how much of the area was out of electricity. Our walk didn't last too long, however, because it was freezing cold and it was, as expected, very dark.

After we got back home, we were at somewhat of a loss as to what we should do. No power? Hmmm... walking around with a candle in hand, I lighted upon a deck of Tarot cards and I exclaimed "I'll read your Tarot cards!" G agreed and we lit a bunch of candles and started to bring out the cards. Of course, at that moment, the power came on and with computers restored, Tarot was left for another day. Besides, I didn't really remember how to do it anyway.

So what is the point of this Monday morning rambling? Only that I want to take another look at Tarot and how it works, what the cards mean and how they can be used. It's basically just a deck of regular playing cards with 4 suits of 14 cards each (the Minor Arcana), only instead of diamonds and clubs and such, it is made of swords, coins, cups, and wands. Then there is also what is known as the Major Arcana, 22 cards with different characters on them such as "The Magician" and "The Hanged Man". One thing I remember about Tarot is that the cards don't always mean what you expect them to. For example, the "Death" card showing up does not mean that someone is going to die. It can mean a lot of different things depending on the question that was asked and exactly where it shows up in the reading.

I don't know if I really believe that Tarot cards can tell you about the future, but I do know this: The cards can all mean a lot of different things, and for the person asking the question, the real value of Tarot seems to be figuring out what is deep in your own heart. Tarot can help you figure out how you feel about the question you are asking. And, if I remember correctly, a Tarot reading is only supposed to say, if you continue on the same path you are on now, this is what will happen. Not, this is going to happen no matter what you do. So there is choice, that much I do remember. For a long time, I have had this idea of taking a different topic every month and studying the hell out of it. Just take any random thing that I am interested in and learn as much about it as I can. Why haven't I done it? I don't know, laziness I guess. But now I am thinking that maybe Tarot would be a good place to start.

Bad Luck

Ever have those days where nothing seems to go right? Of course you do. Everyone does. Right? Oh God, I hope I'm not the only one! Well, yesterday was one of those days for me. A nasty phone call from Servpro over something that is 100% their fault, an insufficient funds fee for $132 due to a bank error, an ebay customer upset about her broken shipment, etc. I know that they say "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" but isn't the small stuff what life is made of? For the most part, yes. It's not like something big happens to me everyday,so the small stuff is basically all I have.

Of course, I would say that this is a perfect example of "attitude is everything". After all, Servpro is going to have to deliver my stuff eventually, and some prick who gives me shit on the phone can't ruin my life. Besides, I am going to call and complain about him today to corporate servpro, so he'll get chewed out by someone with more authority than me hopefully. Also, as stressful as it was to realize I had an insufficient funds fee on my account, it turned out to be bank error and they credited the amount back to me. How many times in my life has that ever happened? Usually it is a Me Error, and no one ever reimburses me for those mistakes. Or, more recently, those kinds of things were J's stupidity and greed, and I should bow down everyday and thank my lucky stars that I am not married to him anymore. And the ebay shipment? I had insurance on it, so although the claim is going slow and she is getting impatient, someone besides me is going to pay for the damage.

I guess it's just a matter of the glass half full or half empty. A lot of things can be both good luck and bad, it just depends on how you look at it. My natural tendency lately is to see everything as bad luck, but you know what? I'm getting better at seeing the good in everything. Eventually, I hope the good is what I spot first, so I can avoid the bad altogether. Happy Friday. I hope you have a good luck weekend.

Loveroot

After the fire, I never quite got around to replacing all of my beloved books of poetry. Many times, I have gone to the shelf looking for Loveroot, book of poems by Erica Jong, and found that it was gone. I finally went to Amazon.com and bought a used hardback copy, and it arrived yesterday! This book of poetry is probably one of the most touching, life changing books of my life. I am going to share the first poem here, just as a lovesong to Erica Jong and her writing. I guess it is more a series of poems, and its quite long, but I love it and want to share it here.

Testament (or, Homage to Walk Whitman)
loveroot, silkthread, crotch and vine...
--WALT WHITMAN

I trust all joy.
--THEODORE ROETHKE


I, Erica Jong, in the midst of my life,
having had two parents, two sisters,
two husbands, two books of poems
& three decades of pain,

having cried for those who did not love me
& those who loved me - but not enough
& those whom I did not love -
declare myself now for joy.

There is pain enough to nourish us everywhere
it is joy that is scarce.

There are corpses piled up to the mountains,
& tears to drown in,
& bile eough to swallow all day long.

Rage is a common weed.
Anger is cheap.

Righteous indignation
is the religion of the dead
in the house of the dead
where the dead speak to each other
in creaking voices,
each arguing a more unhappy childhood
than the other.

Unhappiness is cheap.
Childhood is a universal affliction.
I say to hell with the analysts of minus & plus,
the life-shrinkers, the diminishers of joy.

I say to hell with anyone
who would suck on misery
like a pacifier
in a toothless mouth.
I say to hell with gloom.

Gloom is cheap.
Every night the earth resolves for darkness
& then breaks its resolve
in the morning.

Every night the demon lovers
come with their black penises like tongues,
with their double faces,
& their cheating mouths
& their glum religions of doom.

Doom is cheap.
If the apocalypse is coming,
let us wait for it in joy.

Let us not gnash our teeth
on the molars of corpses -
though the molars of corpses
are plentiful enough.

Let us not scorn laughter
though scorn is plentiful enough.

Let us laugh & bring plenty to the scorners -
for they scorn themselves.

I myself have been a scorner
& have chosen scornful men,
men to echo all that was narrow in myself,
men to hurt me as I hurt myself.

In my stinginess,
my friends have been stingy.
In my narrowness,
my men have been mean.

I resolve now for joy.

If that resolve means I must live alone,
I accept aloneness.

If the joy house I inhabit must be
a house of my own making,
I accept that making.

No doom-saying, death-dealing, fucker of cunts
can undo me now.

No joy-denyer can deny me now.
For what I have is undeniable.
I inhabit my own house,
the house of my joy.

~~~~~~

"Unscrew the locks from the doors!
Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs!"

~~~~~~

Dear Walt Whitman,
horny old nurse to pain,
speaker of "passwords primeval,"
merit-refuser,poet of body & soul --
I scorned you at twenty
but turn to you now
in the fourth decade of my life,
having grown straight enough
to praise your straightness,
& plain enough
to speak to you plain
& simple enough
to praise your simplicity.

The doors open.
The metaphors themselves swing open wide!

Papers fall from my desk,
my desk teeters on the edge of the cosmos,
& I commit each word to fire.

I burn!
All night I write in suns across the page.
I fuel the "body electric" with midnight oil.
I write in neon sperm across the air.

~~~~~~

You were "hankering, gross, mystical, nude."
You astonished with the odor of your armpits.
You cocked your hat as you chose;
you cocked your cock -
but you knew "the Me myself."

You believed in your soul
& believing, you made others
believe in theirs.

The soul is contagious.
One man catches another's
like the plague;
& we are all patient spiders
to each other.

If we can spin the joythread
& also catch it-

if we can be sufficient to ourselves,
we need fear no entangling webs.

The loveroot will germinate.
The crotch will be a trellis for the vine,
& our threads will all be intermingled silk.

How to spin joy out of an empty heart?
The joy-egg germinates even in despair.

Orgasms of gloom convulse the world;
& the joy-seekers huddle together.

We meet on the pages of books & by beachwood fires.
We meet scrawled blackly in many-folded letters.
We know each other by free & generous hands.
We swing like spiders on each other's souls.

~~~~~~ Erica Jong

Servpro Sucks

Over two years ago, I had a house fire. After seeing these happy commercials where Servpro swoops in and takes care of all of your items, cleans them, and gets them back to you good as new with the slogan of "Like it never happened", I called our local Servpro of Houston County and asked for their help. I can remember being grateful they were there and how impressed I was as they explained that they were making an inventory sheet of everything they removed from the house. I felt certain that the things that could be saved would be in good hands.

Due to lawsuits over the fire and a subsequent divorce and dividing of assets, the furniture and books and things sat at Servpro's storage building for two years. Then, last summer, when I was finally ready to claim my belongings and begin the treaure hunt to see what remained of my old life, I owed Servpro big bucks for holding on to my things. Insurance had paid for the cleaning and about 6 months of storage, but I was responsible for the rest of it. These fees, mind you, are not like a normal rented storage unit where it might be $100 a month or something like that. I ended up paying well over $1500 for storing my things and having them delivered to my storage unit, but I was okay with that, because I knew I was going to be able to go through them and find some treasures I had long forgotten.

As I started going through my own rented storage units where they had dropped off the stuff, I started noticing certain things were missing. Lamps, paintings, furniture, etc. Expensive items, most of them, and things I had hoped to sell to recoup some of the cost of my divorce. I can't even begin to tell you what hell it has been to try to get those missing items back. My contact at Servpro kept insisting that it was their policy to throw out items that were claimed on insurance and that he had no obligation to return my things. Confused, I perused the contents of my storage unit once again. There was the couch that was obviously ruined and needed to be thrown out. It was indeed claimed on insurance, and yet here it was. However, missing was the gold leafed dressing screen that J's Dad bought us for $10,000 and was not, in fact, damaged at all by the fire. Something did not add up.

Countless phone calls, emails, and attempts to contact corporate Servpro later, I went, armed with my mother's anger at my side, last week to the warehouse where my things were being held hostage. Honestly, I half expected them to say that they couldn't find them or that I could not see my stuff. I half expected that they already had sold my stuff and it was gone forever. But in truth, it was all there, waiting in that storage warehouse, and Bob, my contact there, was as nice as could be. He explained that his mother-in-law had been very ill and that he had been a bit scattered, making me feel like shit for thinking the worst of him and his intentions.

I left Servpro that day with a smile on my face, believing that miracles do happen, and after going through hell, it had all been a misunderstanding. My things would be returned to me and all would be well!!! I actually managed to hold onto those good feelings in spite of the fact that Bob did not call me back over the next few days like he said he would. I even managed to hold onto those good feelings right up until this morning when I got an email from Bob that read, "How would you like for me to return your items? Let me know, and I will look over what additional storage costs remain." I wanted to scream. I wanted to find Bob from Servpro and gouge out both of his eyes with the mutilated end of a rusty coat hanger. They expect me to pay more for their incompetence and inability to deliver my things when they were supposed to?? Goodbye happy feelings. Servpro Sucks and customer service is dead. I am so sick of being walked on by companies like this! I emailed him back and basically said that surely he wouldn't expect me to compensate him for his gross incompetence. We'll see how he responds. If his answer is anything other than butt-kissingly sweet, I'm just going to call corporate Servpro customer service and bitch them out. I'll let you know.

Laptop Shopping

I have decided that it's time to move on from my 17" dinosaur of an HP laptop and get something sporty and light. I have already spent many hours surfing the net and looking through office supply and tech stores to find the perfect laptop, and I think I have narrowed down the enormous field. Here are my priorities:

*Long Battery Life
*Light enough to carry comfortably (3-7 lbs.)
*Stylish design
*Pink if possible

Okay, so I know that it seems ridiculous to list style and color preferences as a priority, but isn't the way a laptop looks and feels just as important as what it does? Maybe not equally, but it has to be close, for me at least. The cuter and more "fun" my laptop feels, the more I will want to take it out and show it off or play with it, which translates into more work time for me. Maybe it is shallow, but I think it's just me being honest.

I have found several laptops that meet my needs, but I haven't quite made a decision.
Here are the contenders:

Fujitsu Lifebook P7230 - This is a super cute computer, but the problem comes with the processor and the price. It uses a Core Solo U1400 and costs close to $2000. The battery life is supposed to be amazing though, and it only weighs 2.6 lbs, by far the smallest and lightest laptop I have looked at. I think you can get a faster processor, but the price is going to shoot up, and I'm just not sure this one has what I want in a complete package.

Dell Inspiron 1420 - I really love this color of pink, which is called "flamingo pink". I have looked at countless reviews of this laptop, and although some tech snobs say this is just a budget class notebook for students, I am honestly leaning towards buying it. It simply seems to have everything I want. I can get a 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 3 Gigs of RAM, a battery that is said to last 3-4 hours, along with a backup battery for less than $1500. Now, this computer is by no means the lightest, and that is where the one drawback sees to come in for me. It weighs 5.5 lbs. which is considerably heavier than the Lifebook. On the other hand, 5.5 lbs is still pretty freaking light compared to the 10+ pound beast I have been carrying around.

Dell XPS M1330 - This is Dell's newer, sleeker, lighter laptop and it s packed with power. I think I could actually play games on this even though it is super light at 3.97 lbs. It's awesome that you could actually get a 64 GB Solid State hard drive, but the price sky rockets, and I'm just not sure that I need that, even if it is cool. Also, as you can easily see, it is not pink. Red, though, looks great on this laptop, and also the red version of this laptop means that Dell donates money to helping with the AIDS epidemic in Africa, so the socially conscious red makes up for the lack of pink. Oh, and I LOVE the slot-load CD/DVD drive. I always think my flimsey pull-out version is going to break off. So where are the cons? I can't quite put my finger on it. This laptop looks great, is very small and light, and seems to have a great battery life. But for some reason, I just don't feel like it's the one I want. It's probably because it isn't pink...

Sony Vaio CR Series - I saw one of these at an Office Depot and I love the way it looks and feels. The 14" screen is exactly what I'm looking for, and it weighs just around 4 lbs. Customizing my own laptop on the sony website, my laptop comes up to $1409.98, but is backordered and would be weeks before it shipped. :( The cons for me are that the backup battery is kind of expensive and also the service plan is non-existent. On the Dell computers, at least a 1 year service plan is included and the extra battery is much less expensive. A neat feature of the Sony, though, is that you can have your name engraved on the keyboard for free. I really start to lean towards this computer until I read some reviews online where many people say that the battery rattles and is very loud. I think maybe I should go back to Office Depot and see if they still have one I could look at. Of course, they will probably have it chained up with no battery in it at all. /sigh.

So, those are my four options for a new laptop. Of course, there is a Hello Kitty laptop, but it's almost $3000 and is not that well equipped. I am going to think about it for maybe another week before I make a final decision. I think I am really leaning towards either the Sony or the Dell 1420. I wish I could just have them right here in front of me to touch and play on for a bit, but that's not going to happen. I'll let you know what I choose.

Routines

I just got back last night from GA, and each way back and forth amounts to about a 470 mile drive. Now, I am all for getting to your destination in the fastest way possible. No back roads or strange routes for me. However, I am also someone who drinks a lot of soda, coffee, juice, water, etc. on a road trip. Beverages help to keep me awake and alert while I'm driving. As you can imagine, with high beverage consumption comes the need to make frequent stops. How many stops? Hmm... I would say on average that I need to stop about every 1 1/2 to 2 hours of a road trip.

The funny thing that I noticed on this trip was that after having made this drive about 4 times already, every single time I stopped I found myself in a familiar place. To be clear, I have not mapped out the best exits or picked out a clean place to specifically stop each time. In fact, I pulled off the interstate each time thinking only of the need to stop, and in no way remembering that I had ever stopped there before. However, once I walked into the gas station / restaurant, I realized that I had, in fact, already stopped here on previous trips. This deja vu did not happen to me just once or even twice, but at least three times on my drive to GA. Out of all the hundreds of gas stations and restaurants at all the exits, I kept picking the same places to stop that I had picked the last time I travelled that road.

It got me thinking about routines, and how, even if we aren't intentionally fostering a routine, we might be establishing one we haven't recognized yet. a routine that has to do with places and times is one thing, but I think we set up routines on a more internal level than we realize. Not finishing a story and moving to the next one because you lost inspiration for one and found it for something else is one thing. But never finishing a story just because you are always getting distracted by the next one is a dangerous routine. Looking in the mirror one morning and realizing that you look a little fat in those pajamas is one thing. But looking in the mirror every morning and mentally putting yourself down for ten minutes is something else entirely.

Almost everyone I know finds comfort in routine to some degree. Although we begin to crave a week away from the ordinary where we can relax on vacation or explore some exotic city, a day or two after leaving home we start to long for it again. We long for our routines because they bring us comfort and make us feel normal. There's nothing wrong with that. Just be careful that the routines you create for yourslf are healthy ones. There's nothing wrong with stopping at a clean gas station every trip. On the other hand, always stopping at the one with a dairy queen and getting a peanut buster parfait can be hell on your hips.

Sarra Cannon

Young Adult Indie Author

I always secretly wanted to be a cheerleader. And a witch. Now, I write about both. The first five novels in my Peachville High Demons Young Adult Paranormal series are available now in ebook!

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Sarra's bookshelf: sarra-s-favorites

Beautiful DemonsThe Time Traveler's WifeLoveroot: PoemsFear of FlyingWe the LivingAnthem

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