Saturday, May 25, 2013

... My Lecture Notes?

Yours Truly is going back to school in the fall to pursue a Master's Degree in Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Learning.

I'm really excited about it...

...and a bit nervous.

I mean, heck, the last time I was in school there were no blogs like this because there was no damn internet!
  • CERN had only just released it WorldWideWeb (yes, it's spelled right) source code.
  • Microsoft had just released Windows 3.1.
  • And, for the trifecta, Intel had just released the Pentium chip.
Yes, it's been 20 years since I graduated from college.  It seems like a long time...

...that's because it is a long time.

Anyway...

I've been working at universities for most of my career and I have many friends who have received graduate degrees. This is familiar ground.

Going back to school will not be like leaving Kansas in a house and landing in Oz. Although...having a good witch could come in handy...hmmmm...

So, why am I nervous?

Ah ha! It's time to use reality-based thinking, the kryptonite for my rather wretched internal dialogue a.k.a ID. (I know it's in my own head, but it's so much more fun to write like it isn't.)

World Reality-Thinking Championship

Ladies and Gentleman, in the far corner, weighing in at 0 lb. 0 oz, we have ID The Crusher. 

And in the near corner, weighing in at @#$%^^  we have The Kryptonite Kid!

Round 1 - Worrying about all the reading in Grad School


Let the verbal judo begin!


*DING*

ID The Crusher
"Kid, your memory is failing. You hated reading in elementary school! Fox in Socks didn't count, and neither did Clifford the Big Red Dog!

"Clifford the Big Red dog?...Really?

"The shit you're going be reading is complex, with numbers, theories, math, and everything! You'll never be able to keep up.  Remember Great Expectations?'

Kryptonite Kid
"Why thanks for the softball, ID. I went through my entire school life with undiagnosed ADD. Great Expectations is a perfect example of someone with ADD trying to read the world's most boring book. Hello?  I had no problem keeping up with the reading in high school or college, surely you remember I graduated from UCLA Magna Cum Laude. 

"That's latin for 'very high honors honors' in case you didn't know that, ID.

"Now that I have my ADD meds, I'm focused without having to spend extra energy trying to focus. I should be able to handle the reading even better than I did as an undergrad."

*DING* 

Kryptonite Kid =1  ID The Crusher = 0

Round 2 - Worry about all the writing in Grad School

Let the verbal judo begin!

*DING*


ID The Crusher 
"You know you'll be doing a crap-ton of Writing?  Didn't it take you twenty five drafts to complete your two-page self-statement?  I don't think you'll be able to do 25 drafts of a 35 page term paper! You are soooo hosed."

The Kryptonite Kid
"That self-statement was all about me. Which I admit, I have difficultly writing about, no thanks to you! Nonetheless, even with your continued interference, I did it, and I did it well - I was accepted into 2nd best school for Education in the country, wasn't I?

"Besides, you know I've spent my whole professional life writing reports, memos, and proposals.

"ID, you're slipping. Come on, is that all you got?"

ID The Crusher
*Starts to look nervous.*

"Yeah...well...how about being one of the oldest in your cohort, huh? That'll make it hard to fit in. You'll feel like a loner."

The Kryptonite Kid
*Cracks knuckles*

"Lame. Lame. Lame. Lame. That was the same scenario in college. You know, non-tradiational student? I did just fine, and made several good friends.

"I got you on the ropes, ID."

-silence-

The Kryptonite Kid
"I'm nervous because this is a change in my life, but that's normal, one would expect to be nervous. But I have no reason to believe that I will have a problem handling graduate work.

"So there!"

*ID The Crusher falls*

*DING*

Presenting the winner by knock out, and new champion - The Kryptonite Kid!

My therapist will be so proud!

Yes, being in my head is never boring....










Wednesday, May 15, 2013

...the Smog Alerts?

Spring has finally made an appearance here in Mid-Michigan.

I've heard that Punxsutawney Phil may be looking for another gig after his mistaken pronouncement of an early spring.

I spent a considerable amount of blog space in the winter of 2008-2009 about the winters in Michigan.  But it occurred to me that I've never mentioned the springs here.

First, let me explain that I was born in the Bronx and raised in Los Angeles. Living in those two cities did nothing to further my knowledge of nature. However, what counts for nature in Los Angeles held some educational value. I learned that:

1. Trees do not grow out of the concrete
2. Ducks can fly. Yes, I'm completely serious.
3. The orange gas I saw out the airplane window during my flight into L.A was not an engine fire; it was Smog.

Smog...the moniker is a combination of smoke and fog. In Los Angeles, they have Smog Alerts to let you know when the air is not really good to breathe.

I've always found Smog Alerts a bit useless. First, you can't avoid breathing. Well you can, but then you pass out and start breathing again. Second, you don't need to be told the air is unhealthy when you look outside and see that the sky is brown.

Michigan, however, opened a whole new ecological world for me. I've learned that:

  • There are more birds than just seagulls, crows, sparrows, and pigeons.
  • Canadian Geese will growl if you approach them.
  • The Wild Turkey is actually a bird, not just a whiskey. Also, they tend to be seen on the side of the interstate during hunting season because it isn't legal to shoot them there. Pretty smart for a turkey. Sky Blue isn't just a made-up color. It is the actual color of a clear sky.

and lastly, that deciduous trees and shrubs flower in the spring.

Which is where this story really begins.

During the spring in Michigan, I can walk out of my house and smell flowers and grasses, not car exhaust or the funky smell only a large metropolis can produce.

It's like being at the florist, but warmer...and the flowers are not on life support.

I have always read about the "perfumed air of spring," it wasn't until we moved here that I really experienced it.

To all those with spring allergies, you have my sympathy. I know that for you spring is the worst season of the year.

I am fortunate in that I am not allergic to the pollen in Michigan, so for me the perfumed air of spring is simply amazing.

And there are no Smog Alerts here...ever.










Tuesday, May 14, 2013

...the Hammer and Nails

A hammer and nails aren't items one associates with food, which was probably the main contributor to the "Coconut Lamb Curry Catastrophe" I mentioned in my last post.

For some reason, my parents decided to make Coconut Lamb Curry for dinner. I was about seven, and it was a very memorable event for several reasons:

One: It was the first time I'd seen my father in the kitchen doing anything except getting something from the fridge. He was actually going to cook and he was going to cook with Mom!

Two: They didn't have a hammer and nails.  We lived in a rented apartment and my dad was a computer guy.  Screwdrivers we had, hammers we didn't.

Three: Because they didn't have a hammer and nails, Mom almost stabbed herself through her palm.

Memorable, very.

I wasn't a picky eater, but I'd never heard of Lamb Curry. I asked what my seven-year old self considered to be the most important question:

"It doesn't have peas, does it?"

"No peas."

"Good."

Peas, the little green balls of yuck were my vegetable nemesis. The last time Mom tried to make me to eat peas was when I was four. She used the "You're not leaving the table until you eat your peas." gambit. We sat down to dinner at 6:30 p.m and she gave up at 11:00 p.m. because she was tired.

Did I mention that I'm one of the stubbornest people I know?

After that, Mom and I reached a sort of d├ętente when it came to the vegetable from hell. They could be in the food, but I could pick them out.

Anyway...

I sat in the dinning room where I could watch this first-of-its-kind event.

In the kitchen, Mom and Dad were huddled over a big hairy coconut.

"How do we open it?"  Mom asked.

"We need to poke a hole in one those three holes and pry it open," My Dad replied, seeming ever so confident in his knowledge of coconuts.

My Dad was a smart man and he sounded really sure, so mom agreed.

...As I subsequently learned, my dad's coconut opening advice was bad...very bad.

They now had their backs facing me and stood between me and the coconut.

I couldn't see a thing, but I could hear just fine.

Suddenly, I heard a quick succession of three sounds:  Mom's shriek in Italian, Dad's shouts about violating the coconut, and said coconut as it hit the floor and rolled out of the kitchen.

The coconut was followed by Mom. She also ran out of the kitchen, but came back a few minutes later with a big band aid.

I remember thinking that this couldn't be a good sign, but I kept silent, not wanting to be caught in the crossfire.

I later found out that Mom took a short bladed knife, held the coconut in one hand and used her other hand to try and poke the knife through one of the three "coconut holes." The knife slipped and grazed the side of her hand. If she hadn't dropped the coconut, the knife would have gone through her palm.

By some miracle they managed to finish the dish. But that was as far as Divine intervention went. To me it didn't even look like food, and it seemed my parent's agreed.

....we all had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner that night.

This story does have an epilogue:

Later that week, Mom bought a hammer and some nails, and while I don't think she was going to use them on my Dad, she did hide them.

The stubby knife was now missing it's tip. Mom kept it until the day she died, as a reminder of the dangers inherent in coconuts, and in listening to my Dad.

....Did I mention that my parents eventually divorced? 






Monday, May 13, 2013

...my Cookbooks?

Mother's Day 2013 is now history.  As I said in my last post, to combat the depression inherent Mother's Day when you no longer have your mother, I made a case for the second Sunday in May being Inner-Child Day.

Yesterday, I took my Inner-Child out for a spin. I played some video games, had bagels and cream cheese, and tried a new recipe for dinner.

I realized, as I watched a mixture, of onions, garlic, oregano, crushed chili flakes, and vodka, reduce, that of all the things I had done that day, attempting a new recipe was the most fun. In fact it was a lot of fun (and not be cause of the vodka, either)!  Although any recipe that requires a cup of vodka - I used Absolut -  has to be tested.

I discovered that cooking really brought me closer to my mother, and brought back the fond food memories I have of her.

Mom was a great cook, with a terrific imagination. When I grew up, money was tight, but she took the food budget and made it work. The results were always delicious (well, except for the lamb curry, but that wasn't really her fault). She worked full-time and still put a hot yummy meal on the table.  Awesome.

In the last decade of her life she had a grudging relationship with tech, very grudging. When she was on the internet she only did two things: read her email and search the Food Network website for interesting recipes. My Stepfather was a very lucky man.

BTW, I'm pretty sure that was the only website she ever visited.

Back to my vodka reduction...

As the mixture reduced, my happiness expanded. Cooking allowed me to connect to and honor my mother without suffering from the sadness and depression I now associate with the Second Sunday in May.

From this day forward, on Inner-Child Day I will nurture my Inner-Child by trying a brand new recipe. Through that, I can connect with my childhood memories of Mom and the wonderful food she made.

My Patient and Caring Husband is completely in favor of this idea for both its gastronomic benefits and because for the first half of May his wife won't be a walking keg of unexploded ordinance.

Oh, the dish tonight was an Absolute  success!

I'll tell you about the now infamous Coconut Lamb Curry Catastrophe in a later post.




Saturday, May 11, 2013

...Our Inner Children?

Since Mom passed away, Mother's Day has become a mixed blessing for me, especially if you substitute "bag" for "blessing."

The part of me that is a mom enjoys hearing from my, now married, daughter.

However, the part of me that's a daughter would rather forget the day even exists.

Which is practically impossible unless I stay in my house, and of course:

don't talk to anyone
don't watch TV
don't read magazines
don't listen to radio
and stay off the Internet.

Basically, I would need to become a hermit. Although not the kind who lives in the woods in a one-room cabin with an outhouse. Wanting to ignore Mother's Day doesn't mean I want to ignore personal hygiene and the comforts of a flush toilet.

Given that I've been out of the house several times this week and I'm currently writing a blog post, talking to my husband, and watching Person of Interest, clearly I've failed at the hermit angle.

Which is probably accounts for why I've been in a bad mood since May 1st.

Anyway, I know I'm not the only person who has lost their mother, and there are women who have never been mothers (by choice or not).

That's why I think we should have an "Inner Child Day." One day a year where we can nurture the child in all of us. I'd say mother our inner child, but that probably wouldn't work for many of the guys. Although, they may not like nurture either, but hey, It's my idea, my rules.

For those who say they already indulge their inner child, trust me you ain't nurturing it. Being pickled, high, or stoned, whatever you want to call it, it is not nurturing. If you think it is, go to Merriam-Webster and read the definition.

Nurturing our inner child is something we could all benefit from. A day when we allow ourselves to simply have fun, do something silly -  play in the rain, have ice cream for dinner, take batting practice, play mini golf...Do something that lets you throw back your head and laugh, really laugh.

For the troublemakers out there, do something that doesn't involve causing others discomfort. Nothing that has to do with intestinal gas, foul smells, property destruction, etc. I don't care if it makes you laugh, that's not nurturing, either. 

So on this second Sunday of May, for all of you who feel like me, don't become a hermit, do something fun.

I think tomorrow, I may play video games all day.

Mom would approve.























Friday, May 10, 2013

...the Screenwriters?

Mom would have been 69 this month.

It's been four years and I still can't believe she's gone. I cannot escape the feeling that it wasn't supposed to happen this way.  She wasn't supposed to die for a long time. She was supposed to dance at my daughter's wedding. Disbelief still fills my heart and mind.

And it would seem my subconscious agrees (or is a real douche-canoe)...

I've filmed a movie and it's the premier. I attend, tricked out in an expensive designer dress to dazzle my fans.  

But, for some reason there is no red carpet...

I sit watching the movie, planning my Golden Globe acceptance speech (we all know how the academy feels about comedies). Then I see the final scenes...

Who the hell changed the damn ending?

That wasn't what we filmed!  We filmed a comedic feel-good movie not an f*ing tragedy!  The lights come on in the theater and I look at my co-stars, who are dabbing their eyes, completely oblivious to the fact that we never filmed those scenes.

I stand in front of them waving my well manicured hands. "Hello, we didn't film this, remember? They must have used some kind of F/X magic and Gumped us into the end of another movie!"

I get no response, it's like they don't even see me (which would mean I spent a hell of a lot on this Armani dress for nothing).

I stalk over to the director. "Alright buddy, I've heard of artistic license, but this is twaddle. This is not the ending I filmed. I'm going to talk to my agent."

My director also fails to notice me. 

How am I going to win a Golden Globe if no one can even see me?

 - I shit you not, that was the thought that went through my head -

Finally, I grab my phone and call the screenwriter. The one person who can tell why the damn scripted was changed. It rings and then I hear. "The number you have dialed has been disconnected or is no longer in service."

I look at my phone and scream.

At that point, I wake up and realize it was just a dream. Mom's just fine, in fact she calls me to say hello.  Life is good.

Then I really wake up and it's all true, well except for the whole movie filming thing.

My mother is really gone. Even now it still feels like a punch in the gut.

And I still want to find the damned screenwriter!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

...all the CAT-5 Cables?

Aside from yesterday's post, it has been over two years since I wrote about trying to re-frame my pain-in-the-ass internal dialogue.

That didn't go so well.  If you read that post, you'll hardly be surprised.

Yesterday's post was about the moment before life, as you know it, changes. How sometimes seemingly trivial actions will become a permanent sign post marking the point at which life changed course.

For me, it was the Kalamazoo Airshow, July 3-4, 2011. Specifically, it was sitting my heat -prostrated self into our air conditioned car. That is my sign post, my last memory of my life as it was.

My next memory was waking up to the sounds of screaming and finding out the screams were mine, and that no one else could hear them.

That was because it was all going on inside my head.

Like I said, my life had changed.

I refer to the months of July and August of 2011 as the time Angie Lost Her Mind. My Internal Dialogue, who I call ID, was like an Artificial Intelligence that had suddenly become self-aware...and it decided that I was no longer needed.

Kind of like Skynet in the Terminator, but without James Cameron's direction. It seemed that my ID was holding out for Oliver Stone....

I felt like I was looking at my life through a window, one I couldn't open, and couldn't break. Trust my ID to know about Lexan.  I listened to my ID as it planned my demise. I have to admit, it was really good at contingency planning, and had creative idea for the use of CAT-5 cables.  The one thing my ID didn't consider: it cannot live outside of my body.

Skynet = 1  Angie's ID = 0

Fortunately, my Ever Patient Husband brought me to a place where people understood how to help me gain control of my ID. It wasn't easy. My ID was well entrenched. It took a lot of time, a lot of talk, and a lot of support to finally negotiate a surrender. The terms were fair and insured that I would be the the one in control. 

I came to understand and embrace the idea that my Internal Dialogue is not its own entity, it is a part of me. It is one of the many things that make up who I am.

Of course this means that all that time I'd been arguing with myself. To bad I didn't have any Jeff Dunham puppets to make it look cool.

That I can write this at all shows that I've come along way from July of 2011. I may have lost my mind but I got it back. It isn't the same, it will never be the same.

And that isn't a bad thing.


...the Moments Before?


There are times when our lives unexpectedly change course. Where the familiar lies behind us and the unknown lies ahead.

It could be great, it could be tragic, it could effect many or only a few, but whatever it is, life is forever altered. The moment before is now a world away from the moment after. 

Acts, important or trivial, mundane or exotic, will be etched forever in our minds because they, by happenstance or by design, finish a line, end a chapter, or close a book.


Will you be...

Sitting down
Standing up
Turning away
Looking away
Hearing an angry word
Having an angry thought
Hanging up the phone
Closing the door
Walking into the house
Answering the phone
Washing a glass
Smiling
Laughing
Speaking
Yelling
Closing a book
Turning a page
Reading an email
Turning on the TV
Looking out the window
Turning the corner
Turning the steering wheel
Stepping on the gas

What will you be doing the moment before?
a blog of exploration, discovery, and recovery