Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Whole Lot of Nothing

I do my best thinking in the barn. While I sift and flip frozen poo-apples, I come up with so many lovely things to write.

This morning, my thoughts turned to a conversation I had in Mr.W. and my favorite restaurant. It's amazing the deep discussions that arise while eating pork spare ribs and pureed potatoes(I ordered it without the cole slaw-don't like cole slaw).

Fellow diner, Anthony, and I followed a myriad of topics ranging from the Nasca lines, racehorses, the crisis in Libya, and the Israeli/Arab conflict. Actually, it was a fun and enlightening exchange.

Which brings me to my thoughts this morning. I considered writing an essay extolling my views on the problems facing Palestinian Arabs and the Israeli government.(It doesn't help that I am currently reading a large tome reporting the changes and wars within Lebanon. Ironically, the opening scene occurs near Auschwitz.)

But as I left the barn, my plans for the day overtook my editorial intentions. Insetad, I finished my project in the guest bedroom. I ironed a bedskirt, made up the bed, arranged decorative pillows, and hung some pictures.

After, I felt a bit dirty. I abhor housework.

I then proceeded to clean the fish tank, removing copious amounts of stringy, gooey, algae, and inhaling a bit of disgusting fish sewage when I tried to start the siphon(it was supposed to be self-starting. They lied.)

Maybe it was the anticipated ridicule, when those who know me best, wonder what the hell is wrong with me. I mean, ironing?? Really? Or it could be the onset of some rare malady, brought on by piscean refuse.(I could look at it as an immune-system strengthening opportunity, but actually, it was only disgustingly gross. Yes, I spit and rinsed for quite a while.)

The end result? Political rantings are saved for another day, perhaps when I finish the office in the barn and I can tap my stall-cleaning-induced rantings while they are still fresh in my mind.

If not, there is still the shoe department at Saks to talk about.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

How I Know I am Marrying a Saint

Mr.W. and i strolled happily from Tiffanys. Another thing checked off the wedding list. Next step? Clothing for him.

When we first began planning this grand event(which has taken on a life of its own), Mr.W. nixed black tie right off. Ok. No problem. So what do you want to wear?
Blazer, white shirt, tie, and khakis. No penguin suits. Ok. No probelm.

All was well until he mentioned that he had the blazer, a nice white shirt, and a few pairs of khakis to choose from. All he needed was a tie and he was all set. Uh...Problem!

If I was wearing an extravagant and exhorbitantly expensive dress, which I could only wear that one day, well, then pulling old clothes out of his closet(pleated front khakis to boot!). No way. Uh uh. Nada. Not going to fly.

To the rescue came one of the groomsmen, the one I affectionately call "Sally". Why, you ask? Well, all I can say is you've never heard him order dinner. I'll split the steak(with his girlfriend), with, could I have...haricot vert instead of the asparagaus? Oh, thank you, that would be wonderful, love. (he's British). And could we have extra fries and sauce, on the side?" It's the constant request for sauce on the side that gets me. But I digress.

This particular groomsman politely refused to wear khakis. He had never worn khakis. Would never wear khakis. Hated khakis. After a ten minute ramble of like sentiments, expressed vehemently, punctuated by lots of British slang(he's the only person I know from whom the word 'wanker' seems natural). Mr. W. got the point.

And that is the short version of how we ended up heading toward Brooks Brothers to order a new blue blazer and some nice, new, summer-weight gray flannel slacks. Cue the Halleluiah chorus.

Found BB and proceeded inside, at first simply browsing, then looking for a salesperson. And there she was. An older woman, leaning against a table.

"Can I help you?" she asked. She was definitely a native New Yorker. I explained what we were looking for. She shook her head. They had nothing that would fit Mr. W., who is short. She proceeded to describe the kind of short-waisted pant he would need, which they did not carry. If he were to wear the pants they offer, "the crotch would be dragging around his knees." Ok. Got it.

Onward, the intrepid shoppers went. Hmmm..... where to go.

"Do you mind if we take a stroll through Saks, Fifth Ave?" I inquired. Mr. W. was more than happy to oblige. Boy, he'll never do that again. Insert evil laugh.

My mother used to get her face care products at the Saks on Belmont Ave. in Philadelphia. It was torture. She wandered around looking at the clothes, the coats, the jewelry, then proceeded to the Erno Lazlo counter to buy what she came for. This was before my affection for shopping developed. Ah, the lost opportunities.

Well, we could rectify that. Through the doors, Mr. W. and I plunged into the mob, skirting the myriad make-up counters, and filing past the individual boutiques. Prada, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, all vying for my attention. Up the escalator we went. The next floor offered rack upon rack of designer temptations. I meandered around the floor, touching, coveting, reveling in... oh, see that Armani skirt and jacket? wouldn't they be perfect for the rehearsal dinner?

In my defense, I snapped out of it before even looking at the price tag! Onward around the spiraling arrangements, back to the excalator. Up, up up!Six floors of row after row of exquisite clothes. Isn't this dress pretty? $1800??? Not that pretty.

The men's department starts on the sixth floor. And yes, I walked through every floor below. Poor Mr. W., but, after all, we were here for him. (I know. I know. Does it really make me a bad person?)

For the first time, I was a bit overwhelmed. And Mr. W. staggered along in a daze.
"Do you see anything?"
"I don't know."
"What do you want to do?"
"I don't know."

We needed help. I approached a young man who was more than happy to help. Summer weight blue blazer? Mr. W. tried on a few before finding one that was close. Next, he took a pair of low-rise, light-weight gray slacks into the dressing room.

After being assured it was allowed, I took a seat on one of the couches in the main area of the room, while Mr. W. locked himself in one of the private rooms. I watched the antics of the small, busy tailor and the other customers while I waited for Mr. W. to reappear. And waited. And waited.

I turned to our helper, "He's going to need a bigger size."
"How do you know?"
"Trust me. I know." Sure enough, Mr.W. reappeared wearing his...khakis.

After a few more attempts, another salesman came in and offered his two cents.
"I'm not sure he's going to find what he needs here." Oh no. Not again. "You might have to try Men's Warehouse or Simms. He needs something called a 'portly short.'"

Um. Right. I could see that going over really well.

I saw the tailor hovering around my affianced, his head was shaking. I watched him exchange a few words with our young salesman, who then ran out of the dressing room on a mission.

What he brought back fit well. The tailor made his marks, pinned the pants, and voila! We had the makings of an outfit. Turning to me, the tailor handed me a tag.
"This is the brand and the style he needs. Keep that, so you'll know in the future." he gave me a couple of other possibilites and hurried off to another customer.

Mission accomplished. But....

The shoe department is on the eighth floor...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

An Unexpected Interruption

I was going to post the second half of my New York week, in which Mr. W. is dragged through floor after floor of women's clothing, then subjected to trying on clothes for himself, but something happened this afternoon that changed my intentions.

I recieved a message through the writer's forum I belong to. It was a simple message, referring to a flash fiction piece I submitted for critique.

It is pertinent to mention at this point, that the last thing I submitted was a poem. A poem that was sumarily, and probably deservedly, ripped apart. The logical side of my brain understood the criticism, even appreciated the honest feed back. It was what I asked for, and truthfully, honesty is what I respect most. And every one has their opinion; I don't have to take it all personally or even dseriously. My reaction to the responses, however, was general depression, followed by severe questioning of my writerly desires. I need to be like a turtle and let things roll off my back, but this proved I'm not there yet.

So imagine my surprise, when I logged in a few hours ago and found a private message lauding my flash piece. The reader admitted that my writing had moved her to tears. Wow.

I have to explain that the story is abstract, blurring the line between prose and poetry. And yes, I wrote it purposely that way. Originally, I wrote it for a specific contest, with a certain judge in mind.

It was something I wrote out in an hour and a half. I spent many more on editing and tweaking, but in general, this work flowed. The text poured out of some special place in my head, filtered into my typing fingers, and appearing on the page. It was magical.

And I am extremely proud of it.

So imagine my fear and trepidation when I decided to post it on that site for suggestions and criticism. I have given it to friends and family to read and they gave it glowing reviews. What can I say? I'm insecure.

At first, there were no reactions, then a few comments on the language and how it blurred the line between metaphor and reality (the main characters are referred to as the Sun and the Moon). The two or three initial readers mainly mentioned reading it multiple times to understand the whole piece. I should mention it is a whopping 940 words.

This was weeks ago and nothing more was said. I should note, that the particular section of the forum is not one of the more popular. My small offering quietly huddled in the corner, waiting for someone else to wander by.

And wander they did, culminating in the message I received today. It is amazing how one negative comment affected my mood. This resoundingly positive one did the same. I feel vindicated, I feel humbled, and above all, I feel like a writer.

I have entered this piece into another contest. The results should be posted around the end of March. My fingers are crossed. But in a way, I feel like I've won.

I guess you'll have to wait for the next New York adventure, because I am off to appease my inner muse and write!

Monday, February 21, 2011

NYC Twice in a Week

I met my sister at the Met. The museum, not the opera. Since she arrived at Penn Station and I disembarked at Grand Central, the museum seemed like a logical place to meet. Ok. There were better options, but I am still in the city learning curve.
And I like the museum.

I had some time to wait, so I ventured through the Assyrian and Mesopotamian art (amazing to look at the tile lions from the Babylon), past the huge Bodhissatva statues and a magnificent wall of Buddhist art, and into the serenity of the Asian wing, where an exhibit of furniture and art from the Forbiddden City was displayed.
I wandered in my typical art-appreciation daze, gaping at the exquisite detail and beauty of the pieces, while checking my phone periodically.

Oops. No signal. Didn't I just have four bars?

I rushed back through, down the great stairs, through the atrium and outside, searching the taxis discharging passengers.

"There you are!" My sister strolled up behind me from where she had been leaning against a column. "Did you get my text?" No, I hadn't.

We began walking toward J Crew where we had a 1:00 appointment to look at bridesmaids dresses.

Buzz, buzz, buzz. I glanced at my phone. "Oh, look. You're here!"

We were early for our appointment, so after wandering up and down Madison Ave. a few times, deciding that Nicole Miller had changed her demographic, half-heartedly trying to find a place to eat, and finally wastiing enough time, we returned to the store.

We found a color contender and rejected, vehemently, another. Of course, then we were hungry. Shake Shack here we come. A delicious lunch (what is better than burger, fries, and a shake? Not great for the waistline, but oh, so yummy) and we headed back to our respective train stations for the journey home. Doesn't the ten block walk negate the calorie count of the lunch?

Train ride repeat Saturday morning, although this time with Mr. tow. We were staying the night in his mother's fabulous apartment. A night away from critters. Yay!

We dropped our bag(yes, one bag. This time I did not overpack!)and headed to Tiffany's to pick out wedding bands. Oh yeah.

Let me just say, that the shopping experience at Tiffany & Co. is everything you could imagine, and then some.

After perusing the cases, our sales person, Tony, sat us down and asked what we might want. Platinum? Check. Plain band? Full circle gemstones? Or stones along the front? Decisions, decisions.

Now, my sister is under the impression, from a joking text I sent her about a sapphire and diamond band, that I had my heart set on that from the get-go. Not true. Actually, the one I liked best online, clashed with my engagement ring. Because of my life-style, ok, I mean that I am rough on rings, really rough, I was worried about the life-expectancy of some of the rings. But this is Tiffany's! At least I am going try stuff on. Bring on the bling!

As I was playing fantasy dress up (Holly Golightly eat your heart out!), a young tuxedoed male model came over to offer us some refreshment. Water, soda, or, perhaps champagne? Tempting, but it was a bit early for me to start with alcohol. We opted for water. Still? Or sparkling? Still. I wasn't going to make the same mistake my sister made a J Crew, when she shocked me by opting for sparkling. Let's leave it at, Pellegrino was not what she was expecting.

With the help of Tony, I was able to narrow it down to three sparkling lovelies. Mr. W.'s turn. I think his decision was much simpler. He's a guy. They sized his finger, he tried on a few, flexing his hand to see how they felt, unlike me, who had to wave them around in front of the mirror.

Within five minutes, he had a winner. Back to my three finalists. Ring one, on finger, consult mirror. No. Rings two and three? Consult mirror, ask Mr. W., ask Tony, tempted to ask the woman trying on bands at the next counter, maybe the security guard can help? Finally, ding, ding, ding, we have a winner!

And it is...

The one I joked about to my sister. But it was a close race. Mr. W. chose a platinum band called Tiffany Legacy (which was the style I had originally wanted for myself, but it didn't go with my engagement ring.

Next adventure: finding clothes for Mr. W.,otherwise known as: Brain-fried in Saks, Fifth Avenue

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Long Wait

I've been sitting in front of my screen these days, waiting for that spark of inspiration, for an attack of witty genius.

It's a long wait.

That's why I haven't posted for a week. Did you miss me?

In the intervening weeks, I've trolled various forums, driven to Vermont, been to NYC to look at bridesmaid dresses, and unwilingly watched my "good-doober" horse break out in more insidious, fast growing lumps. He's lumpy. His steps are much slower these days, but his ears perk and he basks in the sun, with an expression that can only be interpreted as contentment. He groans happily when he rolls, blanket-less, in the sun-softened snow. It's not time yet, but it's coming.

My sadness is countered by all the progress for the wedding. The invitation proofs await approval, I met my sister in NYC to look at bridesmaid dresses, and tomorrow, Mr. W. and I head back to the city to pick out his outfit and wedding rings.

Wednesday I drove to Vermont with one of my NY friends. We had lunch at the Pub (yes, I had a Belhaven at noon!), meeting one of my VT friends there, bridging the gap between my past and my future. The farm is still standing. Phew. And I brought back my chocolate fountain. I have priorities.

Hmm...And I wonder why I am not losing weight?

I have found some motivation to work on the BFNE, more editing than writing. It's not that I am stuck. No, never that. Or that I had a blow to my fragile ego in the form of a particularly honest, and correct, critique of a poem I submitted on a writing forum. I am still tweaking it.

In general, mid-February, for me, tends to feel like the longest month. There are the teasingly warm days, melting snow, and stronger sun, beckoning me to ride, until I realize that the roads are still a treacherous combination of mud and ice, The fields have deep drifts of crunchy white. And there is my propensity to love thin-skinned, energetic Thoroughbreds, who have spent the dark, cold winter months in a fantasy of semi-feral freedom. All that energy, just waiting to be unleashed...

Tucker isn't like that, but he does seem to need a good gallop, based on his turnout antics. Bottom line, it would take a braver soul than I to throw a leg over his back without some lunging first.

Until a blast of intelligent blather spews from my fingertips, I will content myself with editing, dreams of warm weather, the promise of riding, and making wedding plans. It is, what it is. And maybe it won't seem like such a long wait.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Goodbye, Mouse!

Today I went for some feminine pampering, also known as getting my hair done. It's been a while since my last appointment and it was desperately needed.

What began as a severe lack of decision making ambition, became five months of,"I have to call for an appointment!" Procrastination is my middle name. My bangs got longer, my ends got ratty, and the roots revealed my true hair color.

What was once bright and shiny blonde, has become, in the words of my soon-to-be-mother-in-law, Great American Mouse, a lovely shade somwhere between dishwater blonde and, gasp, mud brown. Hey, at least there is no gray. Yet.

It only took three weeks of desperation to motivate a simple phone call.

After 3 hours of foiling, trimming, blow drying, I am reveling in my array of highlights and lowlights. My hair is now bright and bouncy. Just like me. Yeah, right.

Before I left, Jeannie made me write in my calendar a reminder to call, complete with her phone number. Yes, we have a plan. Which is good, because I need all the help I can get.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Life is Good

I woke this morning to some welcome news. I am flattered to have been chosen by Susanna Leonard Hill for the Life is Good blog award.
The rules of the award are to acknowledge and link to the presenter's blog and to say a bit about myself.

First, I must say that Susanna truly epitomizes the Life is Good philosophy. She is always there to offer encouragement and support in both the celebratory times and those desperate moments. She writes internationally published books for children, which is a writing skill and achievement. I can only humbly bow before her talent. Thank you Susanna.

Me. Well, I do try to see the silver in those nasty thunderheads that appear overhead. Sometimes, they get me down, but I try to turn those bolts into literary creations, ususally with a good dose of sarcasm and humility. Overall, I have been blessed with a good support system and, honestly, it seems like mostly blue skies ahead. Though I have survived some tough challenges and losses, I am quite lucky for the experiences and people I have met along this journey. And I promise to try not to beat up my writing and more than occasional lack of ambition too much.

This brings me to my nominee for the Life is Good award. I must send this along to, Jen, fellow MHC grad who is stepping out into the world of publishing.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Lament for an Aging Friend

I think I may be nearing a tough decision. At some point, we have all had to make a tough decision, one we dread making, but know it is utterly necessary. This is the dilemma I face. And it is hard to let go.

My laptop, the beloved piece of portable computerhood that has seen me through my college years and holds all of my writing and compositions, is dying. It's difficult to admit. It's slowed to a crawl, doesn't connect the way it used to. More often than not, it is found sleeping peacefully at the end of the kitchen table. Days pass while it goes unnoticed in the daily bustle.

Now, there are those that might say that I have thrown it over for the newer, younger model. I vehemently deny it. Sure, the shiny one has a huge touch screen and is lightning fast, but the keyboard is disobedient, and, well, it isn't as familiar to my fingers; the keys don't leap beneath my fingertips the way they do on old faithful.

I can forgive the random "s"'s it leaves across the page and the turtle speeds, but it just lost a document I had finished editing, and now, I have to do it all over again. I have been in denial for a while. Sure, the signs have been there for a while. Decrepit page loading, frequent freezing of it's arthritic systems. It can't even run with the newer versions of programs. You learn to work around that, as it sneakily get worse and worse. Nevermind that it has far exceeded it's life expectancy, it's getting old.

I think it may be time to allow it a quite retirement into word processing. But it's so hard to let go...