Archive for May, 2008

Irrational fears

I was watching a show the other day and I heard the expression, “my biggest fear”.

I got to wondering about all the fears out there.

Fear of spiders

Fear of snakes

Fear of heights

Fear of failure

Commitment

Clowns

Ghosts

The Dark

… I’m sure there are more, weird stuff like fear of the color red or fear of bananas.  You’re right, Mr. Morrison, people are strange.

Through my thirty-two years, I have had several fears.  One I still battle today is the fear of who might behind the shower curtain.  I’m not sure when this fear developed, perhaps in my early teens when I began watching scary movies.  I HAD to peek behind the shower curtain, just to be sure.  Add to that the story I heard in high school of “Bloody Mary” and for the next few years, through the power of suggestion, I was terrified the few moments of switching off the lights and exiting the bathroom.  Stupid, I know, but aren’t most fears?

Here is another irrational fear–dolls.  I think they are creepy, disgusting, terrifying in their eerie stillness.  I especially can’t stand those dolls with the blinky eyes that move when you lay the doll down.  Blech.  When Emma, my oldest, had her first birthday, she was given one of those creepy dolls that kind of looked like her with the yucky blinky eyes.  To add insult to injury, when you pressed the hands together, it prayed one of those high pitched, only-heard-in-your-nightmare voices “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, Angels watch me through the night, Wake me in the morning light.  Amen.”  It seemed rather innocent, but I tucked it away in the closet, facing backwards so I wouldn’t have to stare into it’s glass eyes.  But then one day Emma spotted the doll box and was so enamored she had to have it.  The beginning of the dolls in the our house.  Now I’m surrounded by Barbies, creepy blinky chanting dolls and yucky rubbery babies.  At least we don’t have a Cabbage Patch doll that eats hair.

Now the girls are asking for those life-sized dolls that show up at Walmart around Christmas.  I may have to carry around some holy water and a crucifix…

What are your biggest fears?

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Is that you, Casper?

One of my favorite channels on TV is the Sci-Fi channel.  I love all things science fiction, from the books to the movies to the TV shows that feature what our imaginations can create from the unknown.  As far as books go, Orson Scott Card is my favorite author.  Movies, pretty much all of them, since I cut on teeth on the original Star Wars.  TV shows, my all time favorite is called “Ghost Hunters”.

Now, let me just preface by saying that when I first watched this, my thoughts were along the lines of can you believe what passes for entertainment these days? or something equally as snide.  But I was soon hooked, not because of the whole ghost-thing, but because there is a huge element of we-are-not-alone-here, a kind of wake up to the fact that there is more than just what we see. 

“Ghost Hunters” is a show featuring Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, two Roto-Rooter employees that start up a team of investigators called T.A.P.S., that stands for The Atlantic Paranormal Society.  They are called into homes, buildings, different locations that are rumored as being “haunted” and investigate the claims using various devices like cameras, voice recordings and other uber-techno goodies.  It’s a really fun show to watch.  I’ve even got Lance flipping there when he’s in control of the remote.

Now, I personally, do not believe in ghosts.  I am what you classify as a “skeptic” at least when it comes to ghosts.  But I do read the Bible and there are places in the Bible that tell us there are different spirit-like beings that are here, sometimes seen, sometimes not. 

Yesterday, Lance showed me a photograph from Fox News, our source for current events.  Here’s the photo:

This was taken by a digital camera at a wedding in a castle in Scotland.  You can read about it here.

Here’s what I really want you to see in this photo:

 

As you can see (by my really bad insert-photo-abilities), there’s a HAND

 

Once again, I’m not saying there are ghosts, but there is some weird and unexplainable stuff.

What do you think?

Meat frisbee, anyone?

So just about every night after we put the girls to bed, slip into our jammies and sit comfortably together with blankets over our legs, Lance and I watch a little TV.  Sometimes it’s the Comedy Channel, sometimes it’s Lost reruns, courtesy of Blockbuster, but mostly it’s the Food Network.  It’s “food porn” as we call it, particulary those nights when we’re fighting late night munchies and watching some chef throw a bunch of ingredients together and making a masterpiece that would have made Gandhi’s mouth water.

One of my favorite shows is “Ace of Cakes”, a show about a cake making company in Baltimore that specializes in making grandiose and bizarre cakes.  I love it.  The cake, the designs, the imagination.  I once saw a movie called Death Becomes Her, starring Merle Streep and Goldie Hawn, and I saw my future should tragedy ever strike me.  There’s a scene where Goldie Hawn has been thwarted by her lover, played by Bruce Willis, and she’s left all alone, with a bunch of cats, I think.  Anyways, she waddles her way into the kitchen and opens a cupboard.  There’s several dozen containers of frosting and she selects one, opens it and begins to eat it.  That is me on my very worst day, a giant gelatenous creature with frosting on my chin. 

But our other favorite show is called “Good Eats” with a man named Alton Brown, (who sort of reminds me of Bill Nye the Science Guy in his ability to make a half hour show really fun and exciting for us ADHD viewers) explaining the best way to prepare a certain food item and making it look so easy I’m ready to jump into the kitchen and make something yummy.  Except there’s just one problem.  I’m terrible in the kitchen.  I can make a mean PB&J, and according to my girls, my spaghetti-os are second to no one.  I can occassionally make a passible meal with one or two ingredients.  But I just don’t know a lot about seasonings and herbs and spices.  We have a great big spice rack but all I see when I look at it is “Green stuff I don’t know what to do with AKA ROSEMARY” or “Smelly stuff I’ve never heard of AKA MARJORAM”.  Alton Brown is always using kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  The best I have is pepper I probably got when I was married ten years ago and salt that occassionaly shakes out a few uncooked rice kernels I keep in there to soak up the humidity.  Fine dining at it’s best, lemme just tell you. 

My worst debacle in the kitchen we laugh about to this day.  Someone gave me some round steaks that, in my house growing up we called “minute steaks”.  I vaguely remembered some pounding, some flour and a pan.  “No problem!” I thought.  So I banged on the steaks, floured them and placed them on the stone cold pan. 

Let me just stop right here and tell you that I was raised in a family that did not fry things.  There was the occassional strip of bacon, but that’s about as far as we got.  So I lack that inner sense of the ratio to oil and the temperature of the heat. 

So I slapped those bad boys into the pan and turned on the heat.  They began to sizzle away and with use of my trusty spatula, I started the flipping of the steaks.  Except they were kind of glued to the pan.  So I got a little bit of water and sprinkled it into the pan.  That worked for a few minutes, but then all the flour coating began to stick, while the meat was loose.  I got a little more water and began scraping the pan with the spatula.  And then everything looked a little dry so I got a little more water…you can guess the outcome.  Boiled meat steaks.  Yum.  I’m sure in some parts of the world boiled meat is a tasty treat, nigh unto gourmet.  But in our house, it was just like eating meat-tasting rubber.  I could have used those steaks to prop up my wiggly table, just scooted one under the leg.  We might could have used the others as coasters.  Who knows.

It is the only meal in the almost 10 years of marriage that Lance wouldn’t eat.  I tried, out of principle, to dig in, but it was truly an abysmal attempt at the culinary arts.  Needless to say, I now leave the frying to Lance.

Dark chocolate fortunes

Yesterday Lance and I were having our daily Dove dark chocolate and the little tin foil fortune printed inside read “Remember Your Firsts”.  I got to thinking about all my firsts …

My first cassette tape (a little rectangle thing with spools of tape that you put in what’s called a “cassette player” for you young’uns) was none other than Michael Jackson’s Thriller.  It was the coolest thing ever and it went perfectly with my new walkman with TWO earphone jacks.  I’m pretty sure I strong armed my family and friends to jack in with me and listen.  I was six. (And for those of you who’ll remember those big black glossy discs, my first record was Air Supply’s Lost In Love, and I forced the kids on the bus to hear my rendition of “All Out of Love” several dozen times, I’m sure.)

My first crush that I can remember was on a boy in the first grade named David Weaver.  He had blonde hair and blue eyes and I thought he was so cool.  I had my birthday party at a roller skating rink and invited David and he and I skated to the couples song.  Pitter patter, my beating heart.  I wore my very favorite purple shirt and he gave me a Santa Claus pin as a birthday present.  I remember I also received some Strawberry Shortcake underwear and was MORTIFIED to open it in front of him.  He also met up with me during the Fur Rendezvous (a big celebration in Anchorage coinciding with the Alaskan Iditarod Sled Race) and we trumped through the cold snow in our moon boots and he bought me a roach clip with purple feathers.  Oh the memories… 

My first kiss was with a boy named Chuck.  I was in the 9th grade and during Homecoming as I was helping to decorate the freshman float, Chuck kissed me in the back of the station wagon of a friend’s mom.  Not exactly the most glamorous kiss, kind of gross, startling to be sure.  Not at all like I thought it would be.  And then Chuck made out with another girl at the Homecoming Game and thus ended the love story of Kearsie and Chuck.  I wonder whatever happened to him?

My first job (that I actually received a paycheck from complete with large chunks of money going to strange names like FICA) was with True Value Hardware.  I was 16 and two blocks away from my house was a little struggling hardware store that needed an Office Assistant.  I worked two days a week after school and made $5.00 an hour.  I thought I was the STUFF.  I worked at that job for two years and finally moved up to being a cashier.  To this day I won’t shop at an Ace Hardware, because I’m still loyal to the trusty True Value name.

My first car was a 1984 Dodge Rampage in red.  Here’s a picture for your viewing pleasure:

Click to view image details

Yes, I was in perhaps the ugliest car ever made, but I loved it.  Me and The Page would tear up and down the streets of Anchorage, listening to my mixed tapes in the cassette player that had no rewind button.  My car was passed through several of my friends before I got my lucky hands on it.  It had actually been driven through a swamp before my time with her.  I bought it for $500 and I sometimes use the expression “That costs more than my first car!!”.  Unfortunately, The Page got to be too old, too run down, had asthmatic type breathing, so I had to put her to sleep.  Twas a very sad day.  You don’t see too many Dodge Rampages on the road these days, but when I do, my heart beats for my old Page.

What were some of your firsts?

 

The MTV in my mind

I love music.  I’m sitting here at my desk with my outdated iPod Shuffle listening to a conglomeration of music that could only be appreciated by me, probably.  A little Jewel, a little CCR, some U2, a smattering of the Beatles, the Weepies, the soundtrack for Surf’s Up (because, yo, it rocks!)…it’s funny-as I’m sitting here listening to various songs, I’m taken back to certain times in my life when that particular song was imbedded. 

U2, the Mamas and the Papas, the Beatles (particulary Sgt. Pepper’s) remind me of a stint in Florida and I’m on the front steps of my house with Kellie, my BFF in 8th grade.  Her favorite U2 song at that time was “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and to this day I can’t hear that without thinking of her.  We used to write notes back and forth with our favorite Beatles lyrics.  I introduced her to the Mamas and the Papas and she introduced me to Jimmy Buffet.  Good times, good times…

The other night watching the American Idol finale, I watched the George Michael montage and so wished my high school BFF, Robin was there so we could make fun of that time when we (or more likely I) played the “Listen Without Prejudice” CD over and over again in her room.  Outwardly I would be making fun, but secretly I would be enjoying every minute.

Caedmon’s Call came into my life during college and I can remember the very first time I heard their best song, in my opinion, “There’s a Stirring”.  I was in the chapel and BSU (Baptist Student Union) was just finishing and someone fished out their Caedmon’s Call CD and popped it in.  It was one of those moments when you just stop, and listen, mesmorized.  I remember grabbing someone nearby and asking “who is that??”.  The beginning of a love affair with Caedmon’s Call.

I’m not a country music fan, despite my residence here in the South, but when I hear “Carrying Your Love With Me” by George Strait, I am driving with Lance in his daddy’s pick up, George Strait crooning from the radio.  Lance is singing to me, with his arm crooked over the door, the open window causing me to eat my hair.  It’s a fantastic memory and quite possibly when I fell in love with him for good. 

This morning as I was driving to work, Cyndi Lauper came on and “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” was playing.  I was suddenly in Southern California, hot and sweaty in my aunt’s van as we were driving to my mother’s dentist appointment in Hollywood.  It’s 1984 and we’re on the freeway when suddenly this little red car zooms in front of our van.  We have to brake, or have an accident and just when the indignation was beginning to flow from the adult’s mouths, a lace gloved hand sticks out of the window, waving an apology.  Then a head follows showing red, chopped up hair on top of Cyndi Lauper’s face.  My first run-in with a celebrity.

For some reason, when I hear CCR’s “Put a Candle in the Window” I am so overwhelmingly reminded of Laura Ingalls Wilder that I yearn for a book.  The only thing I can think of is that as I was reading the series for the umpteenth time, my mother was listening to her music and that song must have played many times.  Or maybe it has to do with that part in the series where Pa gets trapped by the freak blizzard like 100 feet from the cabin and Ma puts a candle in the window so he can see.  Either way, the books and that song go together in my mind.

Pink Floyd and the “Dark Side of the Moon” will forever remind me of John Black in the 10th grade.  We’re sitting in his house and I’m doing my utterly best to look and feel cool and failing miserably.  It could be because the last time I had seen John Black was in 4th grade and was attacking him on the playgroud in the snow.

Supertramp and the Monkees will always be linked with Amy.  Her parents were the coolest and I practically lived at her house for a summer.  I was so amazed to find someone with the same music playing in their house.  But Amy knew all the words and I remember being very impressed.

When I hear Def Leppard I think of Kandee and every note she wrote me and folded up in crazy origami ways had somewhere “I love Joe Elliott” TLA 4ever. 

The New Kids on the Block remind me of middle school and my sister.  I actually watched a concert on TV once with her, probably making it look like I was doing it grudglingly but actually enjoying it. 

In the sixth grade, I had to ride a bus to school and there’s no telling how many days we rode on the bus singing Bon Jovi’s “Shot Through the Heart”.

So many bands remind me of people

The B52s and Phebe

REM and Edie Brockell and Andy and Kelly

The Indigo Girls and Christa

DC Talk and Robin and Kim

Christafari and Allison

Anointed and Kirk Franklin and Sarah and Delana

Sarah Laughing and Crystal

and I could go on and on.  Music and memories.  Sweet connections between me and people that I love. 

 

Indiana Jones, my hero

Can you believe that Harrison Ford is 65 years old?  Craziness!  Wasn’t he just playing Han Solo and making wise cracks about the Force?  When I heard that a new Indiana Jones movie would be coming out, I rented all three of the Indiana Jones movies and watched them, secretly wishing that was me, brandishing a whip, hunting for treasures.  I love movies and shows about that. One of my secret pleasures was watching that show Relic Hunter on UPN, a low budget series starring Tia Carrere as an archiologist who goes around the world hunting for artifacts and almost every episode was filled with some sort of thrilling fight and struggle to return the artifact to its rightful place. 

My childhood dream was to be an archeologist.  I’m sure half of the kids out here wish the same thing.  After awhile that dream morphed into being a scientist.  I had it all mapped out.  I was going to be a scientist and live in Japan and my house would be a pagoda and I would drive a Rolls Royce.  I never had aspirations to be married, or have a family, but if I did get married, it would be when I was 28.  I carried that dream all the way into high school.

It turns out I kind of suck at science.  No really, I barely scraped by in Chemistry with a C and then had the crazy idea to take an AP Biology class.  At the end of the year, the teacher actually told me that he passed me because he liked me.  Then I took Physics my senior year.  We had a year end project where we had to build a microscope with these little magnifing glasses and we had to position them using crazy math formulas.  I actually graduated from high school on a Saturday and had to come back to class on Monday and finish that stupid project.  I am not making that up. 

Me and the science just didn’t click.  And it turns out, I don’t like to get dirty or be in hot places where lots of dust flies in your face or perform surgery on dirt.  But I love to watch it.  To read books about it.  To read headlines where they just found evidence of dinosaurs in the bizarre parts of the world.  Fascinating.  I’m just not a Harrison Ford or a Lara Croft or even a Tia Carrere. 

What were your childhood dreams?

I kill marriages

I do.  I’m not proud of it.  It’s not something I go home and write in my diary “Dear Diary, today I got to help two people end their marriage today.  It was really fun.”  And when I took this job, I had no idea that was one of the bennies-the pleasure of ending a commitment between two indivuals.

By the way, I’m a legal secretary.  I’m the hands to the lawyer’s face.  I do the nitty gritty dirty work.  I’m the paper shuffler, the contact, the middle man.  And I like it.  It’s kind of fun, dabbling in the legal world.  Righting wrongs, finding that perfect way to communicate in the legal world that you’re in trouble.  I guess the Type A personality in me likes that, the precision, the routine.

But I don’t like helping two people who want to divorce.  Normally, I draw up the divorce papers, stipulating who gets what, and how much, who gets the kids what weekend, who gets the house…it’s all very involved.  Then after my boss reviews everything and gives me the thumbs up, I call the clients and schedule a time to come in and review the documents and then sign their marriage away. Often the couple comes in separately.  But sometimes they come in together. Can we say awkward??? I come in, all professional and confident.  I answer questions and try to make a very uncomfortable situation bearable.  It’s really not fun.  It’s kind of exhausting. And when the pen hits the paper, that’s it. It’s over.  It’s final.  It’s sad.

I got to thinking about all the marriages I have helped kill in a Dr. Kevorkian kind of way.  I began to wonder how so many people can trek down the road together and then just…stop.  What problems can have occurred that were so bad that the idea of spending life together was unbearable?  I wonder if it’s because as a society, as a people, we are really not trained in how to handle conflict.  We don’t have a healthy way of dealing with folks that do things we don’t like.

I realize this problem in my two daughters.  They can be the best of friends, and then five minutes later the worst of enemies.  There’s yelling, sometimes (if they think I’m not looking) some slapping or pushing, pouty faces, crossed arms…and they’ve gone so far down the anger road that logic or reason is lost on them.  They’re just too mad to deal with the problem.  Sharing Barbie isn’t the problem, it’s much deeper.  And I don’t know about how others deal with their kids or teach them about conflict but I realize I am very guilty of just squashing their feelings, telling them to supress the anger, because I am too involved in my own junk to want to stop and help them to communicate their feelings.

This is a problem that needs to be figured out-how to handle people that just piss you off.  How do I react when someone cuts me off in traffic, or what do I do when someone is a jerk to me?  What is the right thing to do when not just a stranger, but a loved one treats me with disrespect?  Do I bow up, dish it back out?  Do I take it all in, and seethe inside and then maybe, give them the silent treatment? 

Lance has learned all my cues.  He knows that, say when we’re driving in the car, if I’m mad at him I will turn my whole body away from him.  Once, I was mad and looked out my window and realized that a whole house had been built on the road that we traveled on every day.  But because I usually look at him when we’re in the car cuz we’re chatting it up, I never noticed.  Early in our marriage, I had to learn some fundamental things about how to handle conflict.  Really these ideas can be carried over into all relationships.

1.  Conflict is ok.  It’s healthy.  It’s allowed.  It’s not ok to expect two people to be together and never disagree with each other.  Differing opinions are important, it causes balance.  It’s just how we handle that conflict that makes it healthy or not.

2.  Communication is so important in working out issues.  How can I expect the other person to know that I am offended and why if I don’t communicate it to them.  We expect some people to just know, like our spouses but the reality is, sometimes they just don’t.  And once it’s been laid out, it’s the other person’s responsibility to deal with it. 

3. Sometimes, we just don’t need to be offended.  There’s this one person that comes to mind and even driving in the car with them is misery because this person gets offended by everyone.  If a car jumps out in front of us, this person feels it is their right to holler about it.  Sometimes a hand gesture follows.  If we’re in Walmart and there’s some really slow people in front of us, this person huffs and puffs and does their best to let the other person know how annoying they are.  It’s just silly, really.  Somethings you just gotta let go and not get upset.  Moderation.  A really slow old man in front of me in Walmart is annoying, yes, but not worth me wasting energy letting everyone else around me know how mad I am.  If that same slow man pulls out a knife and tries to stab someone, then let the indignation flow!  There’s a time and place, people! 

4.  Even Jesus was a non-offendable guy, unless he was dealing with a certain group of folks called the Pharisees.  The Pharisees felt it was their right to challenge Jesus on just about everything He did.  They hated that He was healing people on the Sabbath, that He and the disciples were collecting grain heads and eating them on the Sabbath, that He was performing miracles.  The interesting thing is, Jesus was a cool guy.  He didn’t go around shouting about how holy He was compared to the rest of all those rotten nasty sinners.  He just did kind and helpful things like helped a blind guy see, fixed a man’s legs so he could walk.  He fed thousands of people who were hungry and gave hope.  He taught that there’s more than just what we see, that there’s a heavenly God who wants to be a daddy to those with no father, like a husband to the widowed.  And yet these Pharisees could only see that He wasn’t like them, didn’t look like them, act like them, think like them.  Isn’t that the root of it all?  That other people think and act differently than us.

5.  And this is one of the most important points.  Own up to your mistakes.  Apologize and accept responsibility for what you’ve done.  Don’t get all defensive and hurtful.  Spite never helped anyone.  And it’s really ugly, actually.  You’ll look ten times the man (or woman) if you’re humble.  An “I’m sorry” is way more attractive and respected than a “You don’t know what you’re talking about”. 

Not that I have it all together or have the perfect marriage or am even teaching my girls how to behave according to these simple principles.  But I’m trying to see the forest through the trees and realize that there’s way more to life than just what happens to me.  Hopefully, I’ll remember that the next time someone cuts me off in traffic because they’re on their cell phone.  Perhaps I’ll cut them a break instead of flipping them off.  Wouldn’t that be nice?