Corona on Crack

Hands up.

Hands out.

Hands. Just hands.

Hands sideways.

Hands other sideways.

Hands up.

Hands up.

Jazz hands.

 

I watched the curious man perform the curious upper body routine. I was idling at a stop light, trying to covertly watch him perform this vigorous dance ritual. I nervously darted my eyes away when I thought he’d turn to face me. I didn’t want to get caught gawking and making eye contact. I didn’t want him to ask me for change.

He never even seemed to realize that I, or anyone else was watching him. He didn’t seem to really notice any part of the world around him.

dancing man

He stood on the concrete median, bare chested and beer bellied, all bare, flailing his gray-hair covered arms above and around his head. I squinted, not because of the sun, but in the way one squints when trying to really understand what is happening. Then, I squinted even harder.

And then I remembered: this man is likely on drugs.

Big cities are seemingly always hotbeds for naughty activities and Houston is no different. With all of the good things (lots of museums, shopping, sports teams) come some not so great things (an active drug scene and very, very creative drug users).

Being stuck inside most of the time is twisting my reality. A few times that I’ve been outside, I almost forgot that the coronavirus-related lock-down is happening. I also almost forgot that Houston is full of interesting characters, walking around like anyone else, except they’re actively in the grips of a wild drug trip.

I have seen people walk straight into oncoming traffic (I’ve actually seen this MANY times, believe it or not). I have seen people having sex and performing cunnilingus (Google it) in daylight. I have seen people urinating and defecating on the street. I have also seen people perform complicated, upper body only dance routines. Dare I say that the jazz hands dance was the most entertaining and the least offensive. Although, in full disclosure, I don’t have anything against cunnilingus.

I also once saw a man, wearing very expensive looking house slippers, walk in and out of a Starbucks, over and over and over again. Each time, he would perform a little jig, in the middle of the parking lot, make a twirl, and re-enter the building. I struggled to drive away; I was mesmerized by the oddity of his athletic ability coupled with his drug-induced behavior. “This man could have truly been an amazing dancer,” I remember thinking. I did not have the same sentiment about jazz hands on the median man.

The thing I thought most about jazz hands on the median man is this: it has now been 6 weeks (or longer) that I have been unable to find bleach. Where in the HELL did this guy find drugs?

Sigh.

The Return Of Spring

I have to admit that I am a lover of all things Fall and Winter.

I was born in winter; Christmas happens in winter. Many of my several people were born in winter.

And also, I live in the southern United States, so it is unbearably and miserably hot for most of Spring, all of Summer, most of Fall, and sometimes even in Winter.

I’m not a fan of the warm months that fashion magazines advertise as “so amazing” and “can’t wait for” them to come. I call horseshit.

But, there are about four days that are absolutely gorgeous in Spring, here in the South, before it is hot enough to fry eggs on the sidewalk.

And I am so lucky to have had time to go walk around in this beautiful weather this morning.

It’s about 64F , bright sun, and a little breeze. People are out cutting grass, and the scent of the chopped blades fragrance the breeze.

It’s the Spring (or is it still technically Winter?) day of my dreams.

These little purple wildflowers were not here a few weeks ago, but now, here they are, reminding passers by of the colors just waiting to burst from the ground, when Mother Nature gives the OK.

The sky is so beautiful! I could just look at it all day.

Do cherry blossoms grow in Texas? I have no idea what kind of tree this is; whatever it is, it’s gorgeous.

What is going on in your part of the world?

What beauty have you seen today?

Until tomorrow my friends…

Is the World Really That Bad?

These days, it seems like the world has gone to absolute shite. There’s seemingly so much violence, hatred, and lying. It is easy to feel that the world is terrible. I know I sometimes feel like it is.

I once read a quote by Eckhart Tolle that loosely said something like “If you think the world is against you, it will be.”

Even though I don’t always feel comfortable out in the world, and I certainly don’t always think about the world as being a warm and fuzzy place, sometimes, the universe smiles at me. Well, often times the universe smiles at me. Does the universe smile at me because I am paying attention and smiling back or because I’m special? I am hesitant to say that I am terribly special, so it must be the former reason.

Allow me to share two mildly heart warming stories from the past two days:

Yesterday:

I was driving along on my somewhat long commute to meet two students. I was just sitting at a stop light, not singing along to music or doing anything in particular, when I casually looked over to my left.

There was an old, rusted, silver mini-van, with several people inside. The driver, a skinny, young woman wearing a colorful head wrap and tank top shirt, leaned over the front seat passenger and waved and smiled, rather enthusiastically.

I looked, then squinted, trying to make their faces out more clearly. I didn’t recognize anyone in the car. The passenger then smiled sweetly and warmly. I returned the smile, with the same genuineness, mixed with a lot of confusion, to be honest. They then casually returned to talking amongst themselves and eventually drove away, like they really were just waving and being friendly strangers. They didn’t ask me for change or directions or anything. I suppose that they were just being nice. Smiling back was a welcome departure from the typically dirty looks I give other drivers.

Today:

Today, I had a bit of a mental block, so I went for a walk. I walked along the nearby trail, which passes a high school. When I got close to the fence of the school, I saw two teenage girls, mimicking walking and then jumping up and down. I thought they were mocking me. The shirt I was wearing was kind of tight and I am not a size two, so I kind of thought they were mocking me for walking and / or being chubby.

As I got closer, I could see their faces and hear their voices clearly. One shouted “YOU GO SIS!” and the other shouted, jumping up and down and cheering FOR me, “I AM SO PROUD OF YOU.”

I was so taken aback that I almost failed to wave back! It was so odd! It went against every negative expectation that I have about interactions with both strangers and teenagers, and these people were both strange AND teen aged!

I waved back and smiled. My head became so uplifted! I smiled all the way back home. I felt encouraged (something that I sorely need these days). I felt like the universe cared about me and was sending me little pats on the back. It was lovely. My mood was improved for the rest of the day and continues to be lifted until this very moment.

Thanks, universe. You’re not so bad.

Until tomorrow, my friends…

A Visit to the Houston Tea Festival

Have you ever been to a tea festival? Have you ever heard of a tea festival?

Well, neither had I until today. Thanks to one of my very best friends, I had the opportunity to travel a little bit south of Houston today and attend the Houston tea Festival.

The tea Festival was held at a hotel near the Johnson Space Center. I have never been to the Johnson Space Center either, but I now have a reason to go back to this part of Texas.

There were a lot of people there, including the driver of this car and owner of this bumper sticker.

Based on all of the dirty Subarus in the parking lot, I was eager to get inside and check out all of the funny free spirits lurking about. I joked that the tea festival might just be a cover up for some kind of fun illegal drug operation, but turns out I was wrong. It was a seriously legit festival of tea.

Our wait in line for tickets was both long and lively. We chatted up a couple of ladies behind us. We talked about the perils of growing up in organized religion and the humor of Sunday school, bible study, and priests who were too hot to be priests. Turns out, female parishioners from every religion have eyeballs, and occasionally, there exists a religious leader who could easily put down his Bible and pick up a leather vest to make serious money entertaining the ladies, if you catch my drift.

However, I realize that you might not catch my drift, so to be clear, we talked about preachers who were handsome enough to do things other than preach, you know, like modeling or stripping. My friend and the ladies behind me had personal knowledge of such gentlemen. I have to admit that there were no such gentlemen at the church where I grew up.

I always have the most odd conversations with strangers; I swear.

Back to the tea…

The first stop was the matcha tasting experience. I call it an experience because we also had the chance to make origami pinwheels. We were given a choice of several different origami projects and the pinwheel was supposedly the least difficult. I asked for something lower than level 1, but the instructor either didn’t hear me or thought I was joking. I wasn’t joking. My pinwheel was cute but completely non functioning.

My friend’s turned out cute and it worked better.

Next, we got to sit down and try the matcha. The instructor showed me how to use the bamboo whisk to make foam. I was decent at it and she enthusiastically said GOOD twice.

The tea came with a tiny cookie, which I arranged to photograph with my pinwheel and another piece of origami, a hat, that a delightful young instructor gave me.

Next, we went to the main area where there were tea purveyors and a terribly unfunny comedian / yo-yo dude. We found out that the poor guy works for free and was reprimanded once for taking off his shirt during a performance. I felt kind of sorry for him after learning that he is both unpaid and must remained fully clothed.

I bought this magical tea, because who can resist magic?

On the way to lunch afterwards, I got this video of the aircraft outside of the NASA area .

What a nice day!

And I didn’t have to write about soap again today!

Until tomorrow my friends…

6:58 AM

Today was day 1 of my 5 day Get Outta Bed Challenge.

I naturally woke up at 6:58 am.

This was not as horrible as I was anticipating. I thought I would wake up at exactly 5:31 am, but my body was kinder to me than I expected.

I did want to stay in bed, of course. I slept with the room a little warmer, but with lighter bed coverings, so I was just the right temperature. If I am too cold, then of course I don’t want to get out of bed. If I am too hot, then sleeping is a miserable fight.

I hit the Goldilocks sweet mine last night. I fell asleep quickly and slept soundly, sans nightmares featuring movie stars.

My morning ritual includes the following:

  1. Tinkle
  2. Weighing myself
  3. Putting on robe and slippers
  4. Boiling water for tea
  5. Checking emails
  6. Consuming tea

Today, doing all of those things only cost me about 15 minutes, which meant it was before 7:30 am when I started to work. It was kind of wondrous.

By 9:00 am, I had edited an Excel file, edited a PowerPoint file, written a stellar, but concise email, checked all of my personal emails, and browsed through Anthropologie. I even had enough energy to resist the urge to buy something from Anthro. Talk about a winning morning!

I feel like the rest of my day was good, too. I was energetic, even though I didn’t take any vitamins or B12 tablets until about 2:00 pm. I don’t drink coffee and I only had 2 cups of tea today.

We are off to the races!

What’s your favorite morning ritual? Tell me in the comments section below!

Until tomorrow, my friends…

Here’s to Having a Good Time

I am loved.

Some days, we might not feel like it. Other days, we are fortunate enough to have our cups runneth over with love. Today, I had one of those overflowing with love kind of days.

The worry and heartache of the past 18 months or so have given me a new found gratitude for almost everything. Now that I know what it is like to worry all day, every day, the feeling of being in the present, and recognizing all the ways that I am loved, well, let’s just say it’s amazing.

Even when I am alone I feel loved. Tonight, I had an amazing opportunity to have a new experience with an old friend…to celebrate me being older. You can’t beat that.

I am just so thankful.

A few days ago, driving across town, I got into a short space of an almost meditative state. Even though I was driving on the freeways, my mind slowed down to appreciate the bright blue of the sky, the shimmering glass of the towering buildings whirling by, the flight of the synchronized birds overhead. It was lovely and I felt loved, even in that moment of almost organized chaos.

I am so thankful.

Being thankful and more mindful has helped me loosen up my definitions of myself. Before tonight, I would have emphatically said that I was not the kind of person to go on stage during a burlesque (what they call “boylesque” , since it featured gentlemen) show. But now, there’s video proof that I did go on stage and rhythmlessly girate my huge ass around for about 90 seconds. That video proof my night ever see the light of day, but, it exists.

I am just so blessed, so thankful, so loved.

I hope you are , too.

Until tomorrow, my friends…

I <3 The Winter

I have a confession.

You might think I am a Southerner, but I might not be. I might actually be from the, ahem, gasp, NORTH! Well, at least in my heart.

As I have written on previous blogs, I have an affinity for all things and places that are cold and miserable. Bonus points if they’re both cold and miserable in the same day.

My favorite places are London, England; Portland, Oregon; Niagara Falls, Canada; Mill Run, Pennsylvania (technically, the Falling Water House is what I love in this location, but let’s not forget that it is in a very northern state).

For the past few days, winter has made a big arrival here in the Houston area, where I live. I did not venture out yesterday, but today I became a bit stir crazy. I decided that I ABSOLUTELY NEEDED some tomato paste and a taco making kit. So, I bundled up and drove, on the surface streets of course, over to the closest Target store.

I wasn’t expecting to see as much ice as I did, but it was kind of gosh darn wondrous. Is this what it’s like to wake up and see the ground be covered in cold, white stuff in the morning? It was amazing.

I did quickly, learn, however, that lots of folks were not as impressed with the ice and sleet as I was. People rushed by me as I walked slowly into the Target, admiring the frozen freckles on the bushes outside. People rushed by me as I drove the speed limit (for once) and admired the shimmering ice on the surface of Memorial Parkway.

The sun was the kind of bright that touches the spirit; the kind of bright that bleaches away sadness. The contrast of the warmth from the sun and the bite of the chilled air makes me so happy.

I will say that I enjoy doing enjoyable and leisurely things in the cold. Would I want to be a traffic cop in 19F weather? Nah, probably not.

How’s the weather where you are?

Until tomorrow, my friends…

It’s the Little Things

Don’t laugh, but YES, that is a photo of a storage bench from Target.

A few days ago, I decided to finally rid myself of a problem that I have had for almost a year: no where to sit my fat ass down to put on my shoes.

For almost a year, I have stumbled around, scooting on my shoes, while leaning against the wall. Or, I would carefully hover my fat front half and the fatter back half of my ass on the side of the tub, praying that I wouldn’t fall in, as I tried to put on my shoes.

Have you ever done this? Have you ever tortured yourself in this way for a YEAR?

During the summer months, it wasn’t so bad. I usually wore flip flops, so I didn’t need any stability to slide into a pair of shoes.

However, during the winter months, trying to put on a pair of booties is not quite as carefree as scooting into a flashy pair of flat sandals.

So, a few days ago, I bought this bench. And today, I worked up the strength to carry it from the car to the bedroom. When it was time for me to put my shoes on this afternoon, I danced out of the closet, over the bench, and, yes, out loud, I said, TODAY I GET TO USE MY NEW BENCH!

I sat down and put on my gold booties. It was so easy. I was so damn grateful. Sometimes, it’s the little things. Or the things that are the size of a bench.

What are you grateful for today?

Until tomorrow, friends…

Kicking it at the Houston Ballet

I like to challenge myself to learn from mundane things that happen. I love the mundane and how things that don’t blatantly have meaning can be connected to big ideas and even bigger emotions.

I even love the word “mundane.” Say it aloud as you read this: MUHHHNNNDDDAAYYYEEENNNN

Yes, it’s it a fabulous little word?

According to Merriam Webster’s dictionary (don’t you just love to start a sentence with that phrase? It’s just like being back in college and writing a freshman level essay, right?)

Where was I?

Oh, right, yes, according to Merriam Webster’s dictionary, the word “mundane” means: of, relating to, or characteristic of the world; characterized by the practical, transitory, and ordinary. Mundane means ordinary, but when you describe something as mundane, suddenly, it is much, much less ordinary.

Take this recounting of a mundane event last night at the Houston Ballet:

Last night, I attended the fabulous and glittery production of “The Nutcracker” at the Houston Ballet. I am a pretty serious patron of the arts here in Houston, well, the arts that I can afford, which typically include a show or two every quarter.

I took a deep breath as I bought those pricey, but completely worthwhile, center aisle seats, only a few rows back from the stage. I am glad I did. I’m glad I did because without being that close to the stage, I would have missed out on a little bit of professionalism and casual elegance that one of the dancers performed.

During one of the dances, the dancers were costumed in lovely, bright green suit jackets, with the gentlemen sporting, large, bright pink flowers on the lapels. As they danced, with the vigor and grace that only a ballet dancer seems to achieve, one of those huge pink flowers went flopping to the ground, falling from the lapel.

GASP! THE HORROR! Although I could have thought of much more troubling things to be happening at that moment, I could not think of a single thing in the world that was more important than that flower lying there in the middle of the stage, unattended, unpinned, and downright unwieldy! What if someone was to trip and the whole production be ruined?!

I did not have to wonder for long, because one of those muscle legged gents soon danced his way over to the flower, and with no fanfare and with almost tactical like precision, he kicked it from off the stage. The move looked flawless, like the stitching on the flower was actually designed to fail, so this one guy would, on cue of course, saunter over and gracefully kick the flower off the stage.
Later that night, thinking back about how the dancer had nonchalantly kicked the fallen flower off the stage, I thought about often times I have let hiccups throw me off course. And, I thought about how those hiccups eventually worked themselves into masterful little triumphs. I thought of these three things:
1) Screw ups are often not as noticeable or as impactful as you might think
No one around me gasped aloud when the flower fell. No one cared. Everyone was still in awe of the dancers’ abilities and performance skills.

2) People find mistakes to be a genuine (dare I say, mundane) part of being human and are quite forgiving of others mistakes
I found it to be a fun little part of the show that a small thing went wrong. I was also very entertained by how the dancer solved the problem, if we could even call a flower on the floor a real problem.

3) Just keep on dancing
No one fell on the floor, or cussed, or stomped the flower. It found its way to the backstage and the performance just went on, of course.

My connection to this mundane thing is my tendency to let hiccups get the best of me and take a big ole dump on my goals, dreams, and creativity. It’s the curse of perfectionism: I sometimes cannot see all the good in what I am doing if there is just one little thing going wrong.

But, I’m learning to not let those little hiccups get me down or slow me down. I’m learning to do as the graceful dancer did: when all else fails, just keep dancing and kicking, whether that kicking means kicking yourself in the pants, kicking your problems to the curb, or kicking someone’s ass if they’re in your way.

*Disclaimer: I do not publicly condone violence of any kind.

Until tomorrow, my friends…

Portland Day 2

Part of my goal in travelling to Portland was to not have goals, to not over think, over plan, over anything. I wanted to give chance the chance to interact with me and my life, something that I don’t usually embrace.

This is also a long and more eloquent way of saying that I didn’t plan anything to do, other than the tour to Haystack Rock and along the Oregon coast.

On Friday, October 20, 2017, I slept in (thank goodness) and met up with Rachel, the friendly British girl from the tour yesterday.

I should say that one of my “soft goals” for visiting Portland was to attempt to experience it as if I lived here. If I lived here, I wouldn’t search “what to do in Portland” everyday and check off things off the list. I would do regular, stuff, like meet a friend for lunch, sit in traffic, etc.

The sitting in traffic bit has become more familiar than I’d like, to be honest. So, on Friday, I drove from Beaverton in to downtown Portland. I wanted to be a cool kid and act like a local, so I tried to look for street parking.

Between the terrible traffic, journey from Beaverton into downtown Portland and searching for somewhere, anywhere, to park, I was 30 minutes late meeting up with Rachel. Tardiness is the biggest of my pet peeves, but, I am happy to say that I did not get into a mental frenzy over it.

Lesson learned: Even when you try or do your best, there is still a good chance that things won’t work out the way you planned or hoped.

Thanks, Portland traffic and downtown parking, for reminding me of this important lesson.

I finally found a parking spot that required me to pay $4 for two hours. I had to parallel park my huge rental, a 2017 Chevrolet Impala, into the spot, and I am proud to report that I was able to do it in one try. The Impala isn’t a limousine, but it is quite larger, in both length and width, than the Honda Accord I typically drive.

After walking in the light rain for a few blocks, I arrived at Powell’s bookstore. Powell’s is a Portland institution and is a lot of fun, but I had no interest in going back inside to wander around, since I did so a couple of years ago, and didn’t want to lug around the several pounds of books that I would buy. Going to the bookstore is a treat for me; I absolutely love it and it’s hard for me to control myself when I am in one. On more than one occasion, I have gone into a bookstore and left with $100 worth of stuff and no idea how it happened.

Rachel seemed completely unfazed by my tardiness and even more uninterested in my polite attempt to explain what happened.

Lesson learned #2: People are usually a combination of quite forgiving and loosely uninterested in you.

This lesson is hard for me to learn when taught in the context of tardiness. I absolutely hate when someone is late, but aside from that, I, too, am generally quite forgiving of people and their shortcomings, whether intentional or not.

Rachel and I walked 10 minutes in the cold, wind, and rain to the Portland City Grill, a lovely and swank restaurant on the 30th floor of an office building. The tour guide told us about it and it did not disappoint. The views of the city were spectacular.

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I love the pacific northwest because the trees here somehow speak to my soul. I am not an outdoorsy person. I am quite chubby and I don’t typically do much of anything related to the outdoors. To me, “outdoors” is where I keep my car and where the roads are where I drive my car.

However, there’s something that warms my soul about the transition that trees undergo in the Autumn…well, trees in places that are not as close to the equator as we are in the southern United States.

Once you leave the South, where everything is warm and green seemingly year round, you are able to experience Autumn in a visual way. I have seen the most beautiful colors ever, just existing, for free viewing, on the trees here in the Portland area.

The food at the Portland City Grill was also very good. I had steelhead trout, which looks identical to salmon (to me), but the flavor is a little less pronounced. I also had the New York style cheesecake. It was ok, but not terribly memorable.

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After hanging out with Rachel, I walked back to my car. I knew that the meter had expired, but I made no particular hurry to get back there. I would usually have rushed through lunch, with the impending deadline looming over my head and invading my thoughts. Instead, I thought, “It’ll be ok” and when lunch was over, I carefully walked back to my car, in the wind, rain, and cold, and observed the dashboard. NO TICKET.

Another full 30 minutes late.

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Now, this experiment in “low worry, low stress” is not a doorway into tardiness for me. No, absolutely not. I still abhor tardiness with a level of hatred that I can’t describe. However, this mind experiment is a way for me to curb some of the ongoing and pervasive anxiety that typically fills my mind every day, all day. To sum up:

  1. Did I try to be on time for lunch? Yes. Did factors beyond my control and knowledge prevent me from being on time for lunch? Also yes. Should I beat myself up about it? No.
  2. Did I know what time my parking meter expire? Yes. Did I rush through an encounter with an actual human to get back to my car? No. Did the universe reward me for breaking my anxious patterns by not giving me a parking ticket? Perhaps.

All in all, it was a good day. I began to not feel so great, like a cold was coming on, so I went drove back to the hotel room for some rest.

I am also learning that one of the most important things that you should give your mind and body is A BREAK. Give yourself a got damn break. Take a nap. Go to sleep. Stop doing stuff, all the stuff, any of the stuff. So, that’s what I did with the remainder of the day.

Until the next adventure…