Thursday, February 26, 2009

Frivolity in Meditation.

Something occurred to me this morning in a moment of quiet contemplation:

Eyelashes are intended to keep debris from your eyes. Yet, most often the debris I get in my eye is an eyelash.

I expect this will be a hot debate in the comment section.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Have you read or seen the play Scorched?

If you have not, and if at the moment you have tired of happiness and tranquility in your life. If you instead feel like contemplating all the family secrets and tragedies that have befallen you in the last several generations, and if you want to examine them and feel grateful that they were not worse, then please proceed to purchase and read this play.

There is a moment of predictability that is grating, but besides that, this is the kind of soul-sucking, black-hole-of-despair, questioning-the-purpose-of-humanity kind of piece that leaves you withered and grey.

If you need a moment of catharsis and a sad, lamenting cry, then this is the thing. I can also recommend Schindler's List or The Pianist, Beloved by Toni Morrison, and the movie Fearless.

But I cannot pay for your Prozac, so consider yourself warned.

Scorched: by Wajdi Mouawad, you can buy it here.

Monday, February 23, 2009

One holy, Catholic, and apostolic church.

I've been keeping something quiet.

My husband is Catholic. As in Roman Catholic.

That's right, the daughter of two Episcopal priests has married into one huge Catholic family.

There's been a bit of an adjustment period.

It all started when we went to the church, met with the priest and he told us that we needed a special dispensation for our marriage outside the Catholic church, and that Charles would need to fill out a form because he had abandoned his cult or tribe or some such word. And on said form, we had to tick all the boxes that said "mixed marriage."

Now, I understand that most people would agree, this is a mixed marriage - mixed racially, mixed culturally. But pleeaasseeee.... liturgically speaking, the churches are nearly identical. And when you add into the mix the fact that I spent the era of 1980-1984 IN A CATHOLIC SEMINARY, I feel like I should have my own box. Maybe the box could read "Henry the 8th messed up my Marriage" or "I don't like Lutherans" or even maybe "Almost, kind of, Catholic, especially because I like the Kennedy family" or something like "Quarter-Jewish, Priest-child, raised in a Seminary guilt is greater than or equal to Catholic guilt."

Well, I am happy to report that after filing the appropriate form, and meeting a few times with the priest, he now knows our names and smiles broadly when he sees us. That's more than I can say for the rest of the congregation, which brings me to my next set of points.

This church may very well hate us. Or perhaps I just don't know the culture - there are clear distinctions.

For example, at the end of the Episcopal service, the priest says: "Go forth into the world to love and serve the Lord." Lovely. I have taken that message to heart my whole life and really attempt to do just that. Now, at the end of the Catholic service they say: "The mass has ended."
(Hidden Subtext: "You don't have to go home, but you have to get the 'bleep' out of here.")

Other differences:
When you google-image "Episcopal Lady" you get pictures of First Ladies.
When you google-image "Catholic Lady" you get pictures of young women playing sports.
This is extremely appropriate in my opinion, because I cannot seem to dress casually enough to fit in at a Catholic service. I started wearing pants. Not casual enough. Last week, I went in casual slacks, a big sweater and a button down shirt. Not casual enough. Apparently, I need to wear my sweatpants, hoodie, and sneakers to church. I'm not sure that I can sublimate my Episcopal nature enough to do that.

Also, there is a singer. In the morning, I don't like the cheerfulness of the singer-lady. I find her annoying. At the evening service, it's a young man that may still be going through the squeaky phase in his vocal cords. While I would prefer a happy medium, I am happier with the latter, as he is very laid back and doesn't make me feel guilty for not singing louder.

OH! And P.S. - apparently no one sings the hymns. Except for me. I do. Maybe that's why they hate me. Maybe this is a mixed marriage after all.

So I wish everyone a reflective and peaceful Ash Wednesday. It is possibly the MOST inappropriate day of the year for this post - well, maybe Good Friday would be worse, so well, that makes me feel a bit better.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The kind of week it's been...

Quote from my supervisor in a meeting this afternoon...

"It's been that kind of day. I need a drink. And I'm not talking about coffee or water (gestures wildly), I'm talking about a real drink. Hard alcohol. And I mean it."


I'm tempted to agree.

True, true, that's why I love him...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What killed the dinosaurs.

Or more like, what will kill the dinosaurs... fungus.

Click on the word fungus and you will be transported to a truly terrifying article. An article about rust. Not the rust that creeps onto your bumper after a fender-bender, but the rust fungus that has the capacity to kill a farmer's entire crop.

Why is this so terrifying?

Well, let me tell you. First, with nearly 10 million people in Kenya already teetering on the edge of famine due to the drought this season, if you add to that the potential of this fungus, you are faced with a food shortage of massive proportions.

The wealthy white farmer in the article talks of having to treat his field several times and is still left with an abysmal harvest. The other farmer in the article has lost everything.

Now let's return to the picture of the Sudanese family in the refugee camp in Chad from several posts ago... now picture the amount of grain they are able to afford cut in half, then cut in half again.

I hope that this time the scientific community will be taken seriously and that some resources can be put into helping farmers without means get appropriate amounts fungicide - before the worst happens.

How I felt this morning...

Monday, February 16, 2009

People and the food they consume.


It's a brilliant photo essay on people from all over the world and the food they consume in one week.

Check out the beautiful tables of produce in nearly every other country, then look at all the packaged junk food on the US family's table. Shocking.

I have to admit that if I took part in this project I would be half to-be-emulated and half-ashamed. Why? Because while I eat tons more produce than the average American... lettuce and avocados are not safe around me... there are alot of foods that sneak in there that should not.

I may very well keep track of a week or two of food that I buy for myself and for our house. This might be a good way to cut back on comfort/junk foods without that thing that I don't like to do (diet). Because when it's all said and done, it's about the choices we make with food.

While we're on the topic, check out the family from the Breidjing camp in Chad. It's a refugee camp created for southern Sudanese family, especially those from Darfur. Their weekly food is completely void of meat and nearly void of produce. They have three half bags of grain and some water for 6 people. If that's not proof that the earth's resources need to be redistributed, I don't know what is.

I wish I could tell you more about the photographer that created this site, but all I could find was that he is Brazilian. This is a fascinating project. Bravo, Joao!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Help! I need advice from my loyal readers...

Okay, all you lurkers, now I need your advice.

I have a part-time writing thing that I want to apply to. But I am supposed to submit pieces in my area of expertise. What is that?!?

Are there subjects that you enjoy reading from me? Are there things that you look forward to? I need your advice.

Let me know by leaving a comment or emailing me over the weekend.

Thanks... I'll take you out for a drink if I get the job.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Windy city.

Okay, not THE windy city, but Philly is giving Chicago a run for its money today.

After being startled awake several times by rattling windows, I had an interesting experience on my walk from the train station to my office.

A car bumper blew into me.

That's right, a portion of a car's bumper blew into me at a very rapid rate. Thankfully, it was mostly foam - a fact that I did not know about car bumpers.

I would have taken a picture with my phone, but I was carrying my boss' birthday present. While it was a tasteful, small, day-after-layoffs, recession-friendly present, it still hampered my picture-taking abilities.

Alright, well I gotta get to work. The pressure is on. Besides, I have to leave on time so I can see my husband this fine evening. I can't wait.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Advice for living paycheck to paycheck.

With plans for a salary cap for Wall Street executives underway, My hypothesis is that there will be a whole new bracket of Americans living paycheck to paycheck. With well-over a decade of that lifestyle under my belt, I thought I would offer some advice.

Example Budget for Wall Street Executive making 500K:
Monthly take-home pay (approximately after taxes): $29,260
Monthly mortgage payment on 2.5 Million Dollar Condo: $17,000
(I mean you are not going to be able to sell right now, so you might as well stay there.)
Private school tuition for 2 children (per month): $6,000
(Your children and the educational system shouldn't suffer, so let's just keep them where they are for now. Plus that test to get into Sty and Bronx Science is REALLY tough)
5% Contribution to your Retirement Fund (it seems irresponsible not to suggest that you continue contributing to your future): $1,463

So, let's see here... what does that leave you? $4797 per month.

First, a bit of warning. This is actually about $600 above the median household income. That's right, Mr. and Mrs. Executive, the average American lives with less than your post-tax, post-mortgage, post-tuition leftovers of your legislatively-imposed income. Therefore, be sure to curtail your complaints to the appropriate ears. Country Club: sure, complain away. Subway: maybe not. (Oh, and P.S. the annual median income for women is very close to your new monthly income, so maybe be especially careful with comments around the fairer sex.)

Now, with that $600 above the average person's income, I suggest you continue to engage in some luxury purchasing. The danger of everyone buying IKEA furniture and Old Navy Jeans is that anything that is actually made by a human, gosh forbid an artist, may very well be lost. And besides, it is well-known in the paycheck-to-paycheck circles that if you do not occasionally treat yourself to small moments of luxury, you go insane. Or develop unbecoming hairstyles. Possibly both.

Don't forget your charitable contributions, just because you're nervous. I know you'll still need some tax-breaks... more than you did when you were in the upper tax brackets... It's hard to believe, but remember that what's happening here is worse everywhere else. I know it's easy to avoid the reports of homelessness, famine, drought, etc. but that's just not cool.

Also, try to remember the environment when making your choices. Although it is clear that even that has it's issues. (Dear USPS, I'm looking at you. Please consider a little strategic planning, we need you. Just not as much as we used to. One suggestion, make all mailings first class rate, even junk mail. Then use the temporary increase in revenue to do a massive restructuring, securing your pensions first, then tackling the changes in the way people use your services. No judgement, you and American newspapers are still the best deals going, but you both are becoming obsolete at a very rapid rate.)

Sorry for that side-bar, Executives, I know you are not used to waiting. I'm back.

Okay, wrapping up, here are some ideas for you:
- Do not panic. You'll be fine. After all, the top one percent has seen your income rise at a much faster rate than inflation, something the average American cannot say. I'm sure you still have some precious pennies stocked away somewhere.
- Try to remember this feeling you have. The trying to figure out what-should-stay and what-should-go feeling. You built your millions and billions on customers that experience that feeling everyday. Everyday. Everyday. When you are planning for how to get out of this, let's keep that in mind. There is no magic money. Just a tide that shifts from here to there, up and down. Trying to just save yourself will only make things worse.

(Note for readers: If you are actually a Wall-Street Executive and I have offended you, forgive me. If you are an Economist and you want me to site sources, I'm afraid I am a liberal MSNBC/CNN/Washington Post type, so if you are not, then feel free to refute me on your own blog. And if you're a man that resents being reminded that you make more money than women, and you really are beginning to hate that Obama passed that new legislation, sorry. And if you are a feminist that really hates to be called "the fairer sex", sorry. And if you're a grammarian that just noticed that I just left my comma on the outside of my quotation marks, then "bite me!")

Snow Mohawk

I am back to work today. Struggling with the side effects of my antibiotic and still coughing and laboring in the lung department. But I am no fan of being sick, and this has gone on LONG ENOUGH!

So, I went outside and dusted the 4 inches of snow off my car... except there is one problem... even with the aid of my 36 inch long scraper, I cannot reach the middle of my roof. I cleaned to the best of my abilily, leaving a rather odd looking snow mohawk down the roof of my car.

Rock on car, rock on.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Cough* Cough*

I have a nasty cold. Will return in a few days.

Nothing to report except that I am resting and drinking alot of fluids.