Thursday, August 30, 2012

Hey You, Stop Laughing At My Plans

Little girls dream of being princesses, growing up and marrying princes.  Boys dream of being policemen and fireman and army rangers.

Then we get a little bit older and we make more "serious" plans.  You know, great Rabbinic scholar, CEO of a fortune 500 company, stay at home JAP mom who gets her nails done every day and goes out with her friends for fancy lunches (just kidding Jewish ladies).

When I started my path to "recovery", I made a plan for myself.  I had a name for it.  It was the Roadmap.  And the road map was my bible.  It was my master plan for showing them all that i could beat them - that even though I wasn't going to end up like they wanted me to, I was going to be a success. 

(Who were them and they?  The usual suspects, the teachers, Rabbis, my parents, everyone who ever spoke bad about me, anyone who ever used me and threw me away, the guy who once laughingly told me to my face, after I did certain things for him, that someone like me could never amount to anything.  Oh yes, them and they are a nice big list).  But I digress.

My plan was very simple.  Go to college.  Graduate with honors.  Get a job in finance.  Devote every inch of my being to that job.  Skyrocket through the ranks.  Become a corporate bigwig by age 30 (oh 18 year old me would have rolled on the floor laughing if you suggested to her getting married at 21 - ROTFL I tell you!).  Find a nice non Jewish boy, get married.  Have one kid (a girl, of course).  Die with a half page (at least) obit in the New York Times lauding my great accomplishments in the world of finance.

Sure, scoff.  Laugh if you will oh you doubters.  This was the Roadmap, and i was going to follow it to the very last detail.  Honestly, nothing would stand in my way.  And I used to repeat the list in my head every night before bedtime, much like Arya Stark (the Tickler, Prince Jeoffrey, The Hound, The Mountain, Raff the Sweetling, Polliver, Ser Merwyn).

Over time, it changed a touch - about two years ago I decided I'd get married at 25 to a non-religious Jew and have two kids (either two girls or a boy and a girl), but otherwise the Roadmap was the solid road map of my life.

And I did finish college, and I did well.  Step one of the Roadmap complete.

And then the wheels came flying off.

Let me make one thing very, very clear.  This post is not a complaint about how my life is turning out.  I couldn't be happier.  I love how my life is turning out, pretty much all of it. 

It's just I was thinking yesterday that the Roadmap is in complete and absolute tatters.

We dream, we plan.  We get it all figured out.  We tell ourselves that it's in our control.  But truthfully, it just isn't.  And on top of that, there is no single point in your life where you can make answers that will serve you for what's to come.  Everything changes.  You adapt or you fall behind.  People who are too rigid to adapt are going to be unhappy.  Because let's face it, "man plans and God laughs". (No, sorry guys, that's not original.  I've heard it once or twice before)  And this is one of the reasons why this journal is so helpful to me.  because I'm able to record snapshots, how I'm thinking at a certain moment, or time, in life.  Then I can look back and see how things, or my ideas, have changed.  Go my therapist!!

So here I am - 21 closing in on 22, already married.  Seeing the possibility at least of more than two kids (though not too soon!) and seeing the further probability that my days as a corporate bigwig are not only numbered, but may never even happen - a combination of a truly shitty economy and a truly shitty economy. (It seems that even with pulled strings, my value to most companies is as a pretty face in reception.)  I'm left with the probability that I'll be taking my fallback job (a family thing) right away.

Again, this isn't a complaint.  It's actually an observation.  Mainly that we have to be flexible.  We have to adapt.  We have to be willing to change.  There is simply too much outside of our control.  Yesterday I was looking at the ripped up Roadmap and feeling as though I had no control over my life.  But some smart ass pointed out that things ended up pretty well for me.  So cest la vie, in a sense.  You can't cry over what you can't control.  And to be honest, I'd prefer that my biggest accomplishment in life are the children I bring into the world rather than the billion dollar deals I've closed.

So there you have it.  Everything changes.  It doesn't mean you shouldn't plan - you most certainly should.  But you have to be flexible with your plan.

Now excuse me while I try to plan lunch with a friend...

Monday, August 27, 2012

Is It Too Early For Post-Summer Blues?

Honestly, is there anything more depressing than watching to local weather-person, while showing us the 7-day forecast, make teasing references to "the last weekend of summer"?  Really?  That's what you want to make us feel bad about? The return of chilly-then cold-then freezing cold temperatures?  We are supposed to be excited about this?

The big Summer 2012 Vacation Extravaganza is over.  Yes it was awesome. Yes, it pretty much lived up to all my expectations.  Yes, I did all the things on my to-do list including taking a picture with my supposed look alike (I didn't see it), wear a straw cowboy hat for a day (I like them, sue me) and even dress up in the most gawdawful purple dress you have ever seen and posed for a photo (I lost a bet - long story) in Pennsylvania wine country (who knew there was one?).  I swam, rafted, hiked and outdoor cooked.  i rode scary roller-coasters and lounged in the sun.  It was perfect.

And now, over.  And reality is setting back in.  I have to start sending out my resume as my job search gets serious.  David's back at work (it was nice seeing him 24/7).  I have to food shop (my fridge is empty) and do other apartment things.  It's downright depressing.  Soon I'll be breaking out the sweaters and warm clothes.  How depressing.

So I have answered my own question - no, it is not too early.  I have the Post-Summer Blues during summer!

Now excuse me while I run outside to walk in the warmth and but a frozen coffee beverage to make myself feel better....

Friday, August 17, 2012

Live Free or Die (Hard)

Yes chicks and chickadees, it's that time of year again - Cymbaline's hitting the road.

There will be some hiking, some swimming, some boating, some rafting, some BBQ-ing.  We will drink icy cold beer and watch some suns set.  We will climb rocky paths and swim in waterfall infested waters.  We will relax in hot-tubby splendor.  We will see hundreds of acres of tree tops from high peaks.  We will walk between shadow and sun.  All in all, should be fun.

It's vacation time and therefore all is right with the world (except, perhaps, this little stomach bug which has been bothering me for 4 days, refuses to leave, but at least has made me super trim!!).

So there you have it.  The explanation for my upcoming radio silence.  So panic not, I am ok - better than ok in fact.

I'm terrific.

So leave some love brothers and sisters.

And have a great week!

You know I will ;)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Unrepentant

No, this is not a movie review.  And if you don't get this one, all the better.  Means it isn't aimed at you:

This is me, unrepentant.  It's me declaring to the world, loudly and in color:

"THIS IS WHO I AM - LIKE IT OR NOT.  I'M NOT GOING TO CHANGE BECAUSE YOU DON'T AGREE WITH HOW I DO THINGS."

To paraphrase a wise sailor, I am who I am.  To quote him directly, "I yam who I yam". 

I am me, warts and all.  I have my qualities and my faults, the products of the life I suffered through up until now.  Maybe you don't agree with all my choices, past or present.  Maybe you feel I'm too free with my words, my actions or my dress codes.  Maybe my thoughts on sex are too provocative for you.  Perhaps my positions on religion are not to your liking.  Perhaps you don't approve of me saying I think I'm pretty. 

It's not changing anytime soon.  Get used to it or get off the bus.

No, I'm not writing this about you.  Or you.  Or even you.  I'm writing this about any of you who feels the need to question how I do things.  Those of you who read this and those of you who don't.  For the latter category, I guess this will be a silent scream. 

I won't change - not for you or anyone else.  I am happy with the woman I have become.  I don't feel the need to pretend to be for anyone else.  I don't live for the society around me.  Maybe you do, maybe that's your great mistake.  Constantly subjugating your will to that of the herd.

You want to "wax me, mold me, heat the pins and stab them in".  But I won't let you.  That was another me, another time and a million miles away.  I am no longer controlled by those forces.  Your words have no effect on me.  They can't hurt me, 

Don't get me wrong.  I'm not looking for an army of "yes men".  By all means - disagree with me.  Argue with me.  Tell me I'm wrong about things.  But don't you judge me.  Not until you have walked five inches in my shoes.  I don't care if you don't approve - but be open minded enough to understand yours isn't the only way (and spare me the religious arguments, thanks).

Try, instead, to appreciate how far I've come.

I only need one person's approval in this world.  That's it.  Everyone else can be happy for me or not.  Can support me or not.

This is me, unrepentant.  It's me declaring to the world, loudly and in color:

"THIS IS WHO I AM - LIKE IT OR NOT. I'M NOT GOING TO CHANGE BECAUSE YOU DON'T AGREE WITH HOW I DO THINGS."

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Movie Review Thursdays - Almost Famous

Well today IS Thursday no?  And I did watch Almost Famous last night.  And it struck me.  So here goes.  I'll try to keep it relatively spoiler free.  Oh and also, if you like these types of review, let me know in the comments section or by email and I will add them to my repertoire:

Almost Famous is a somewhat autobiographical work by awesome director Cameron Crowe (Jerry MacGuire, Fast Times at Ridgemont High and the amazing, amazing Say Anything, a movie like 20 years ahead of its time).  It is the story of 16 year old William Miller, a high school kid who loves rock and roll.  In 1973, he manages to land a gig for Rolling Stone magazine, writing an on the road article about fictional rock band Stillwater.  Despite Miller being "one of the enemy", the band befriends him and takes him in.

The story itself is very good.  Young kid enters into the fake world of fame, glamour and rock and sees all of the rocks beneath the surface.  But what drives this story forward is the wonderful acting by everyone other than Patrick Fugit, who plays Miller.

Frances McDormand is dead on as William's offbeat mother - who lied to Miller about his age when he was 11 so he wouldn't feel so out of place with the 13 and 14 year old he was with in high school (she pushed him ahead).  While initially against his going with the band, she allows it.  Her excellent phone conversation with lead guitarist Russell Hammond is legendary, turning the "Golden God" into a murmuring "yes ma'am" kind of guy.  Or the humerous scene when she suddenly ends her college class because "my son was kidnapped by a rock band".

Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays Lester Bangs, who apparently was a famous rock critic for a magazine called Creem magazine.  He serves as Miller's advisor.  The best advice he drives home is that famous people will use you and pretend to be friends with you in order to ultimately get what they want - for you to make them more famous.  He advises Miller to stay aloof and be brutally honest.

Billy Cruddup plays Russell Hammond, the lead guitarist and super ego-ist of the group.  He spends the entire movie cheating on his girlfriend, threatening to leave the band, fighting with his band mates and alternating between drug addled declarations ("I am a Golden God", he proclaims right before he jumps off a roof into a swimming pool) and feelings of trying to connect with the "real people" (like the ones who give him the acid he trips on BEFORE jumping off said roof).

Jason Lee plays Jeff Bebe, lead singer and Hammond's counter-point. Lee manages to look like a lead singer and does a nice job as the pouty front-man who suffers from a severe case of jealousy.

Kate Hudson, in her only role that doesn't want to make me vomit, does a tremendous job as Penny Lane, not groupie but Band-Aid (no sex, only blow jobs), the secretly vulnerable girl who falls in love with both Hammond and Miller over the course of the movie - and who suffers a tremendous blow but ultimately finds redemption (as Crowe characters so often do).

As I stated above, Miller is played by Patrick Fugit, a newbie.  Who does a fine job looking like the starry eyed kid he is (like the excellent scene where three of the Band-Aides help him lose his virginity) but fails to reach the right acting chops when he is supposed to show anger or otherwise emote.

The excellent story of the band on the road unfolds for the first three quarters of the movie.  The final stage is the writing (and re-writing) of Miller's story and the fallout it creates.  In one of the movie's best scenes, Lee complains that the quotes in the article make them all look like a "bunch of amateurs" while a clearly hung over Cruddup says "maybe we don't see ourselves as we truly are" or something close to that.

Another excellent component of the film was its sound track. Crowe wrote for Rolling Stone as a kid out of college and interviewed the likes of Led Zeppelin, etc.  In fact, Zeppelin allowed Crowe to use four songs in this movie, the ONLY movie (other than Crowe's Fast Times at Ridgemont High) that has a Zeppelin song in its sound track.  I guess Mr. Crowe and I share similar tastes, which is cool too.

All in all, a very enjoyable two-hours of my time.  Almost Famous will almost certainly be added to my list of movies that, when I see it on cable, I will surely stop in and say hello to an old friend.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Fireflies By Moonlight

Summer is a wonderful thing. 

Summer is full of  a warmth the type of warmth which goes beyond heat on skin - it's the type that alights all that is wonderful with the world.  Summer is freedom.  It's a break, no matter how short, from the harshness and coldness of the real world.  It's beaches and lounge chairs and cold drinks sipped from frosted glass mugs and filled with crushed ice, lime slices and love. 

Summer is freedom in the eyes of children. And aren't we all just children hiding in big people's clothes?

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The day was hot and humid and fun.  The pool, as always, perfect.  The yard always decored with perfectly green, manicured lawns, shrubs cut with military precision and trees swaying in the slight breeze, filtering in the perfect combination of sun and shade.  Tiki torches stand at attention, waiting for active duty once nightfall comes.

The usual crowd is there. We are a self contained unit.  (We.  I get chills every time I think of myself as part of a "we". Whether it is David and I or my new social circle, I am now part of a we)  David's friends and their significant others - some permanent, some ever changing (ah these girlfriends, they come and they go), but always part of the group.  If you are in, you are in, even if just for a little while.  (Full acceptance, another perk of "we".)

There are all the ingredients which make summer - the perfect blue-ness of the water, the cold drinks, the barbeque smoking and smelling of grilled meat.  But there is another sensation in play - the sounds of friendship.  Of poor A, the group's whipping boy, getting ripped on for one thing or another.  B, the comedian of the group, breaking everyone up. Happy screams and pool splashes.  The sounds of a perfect summer's day.  Paper plates filled with cole slaw and fries, dogs and burgers, and even greens for us women folk.

As evening falls, we build a fire and sit around it, drinking (more) beer and lounging in chairs.  Jen gives out a happy yelp type noise as the first firefly illuminates the night.  She even tries giving it chase.  And suddenly they are everywhere, little flashes of yellow light suddenly there, then just as suddenly gone.  And there we are, grown ups, just staring at nature's little light show in wonder - all of us suddenly eight years old again (or some of us for the first time).

After a while, the wind shifts and starts blowing hard from the west.  The tempertaure suddenly dips and broken branches make their way across the lawn.  We are inside as the first of the drops dimples the pool's surface.  Within minutes the clouds break full bore and it's raining harder than I've seen it come down.

 I've always been entranced by the weather.

I fall asleep in the car on the short ride home.  I don't know if it was too much sun, too much beer or just too much.  Either way, it doesn't matter.  David gently shakes me awake when we are at the lot, and I'm in bed, asleep before ten (and for anyone who knows me, they get what a big deal that is).

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Sleep.  wonderful, blessed sleep.  Once a stranger to me.  Now my new best friend.  Wow, what I've been missing.  What you all take so for granted.  Precious, beautiful sleep.

On this Sunday night, my new friend stays with me, dreamless and comforting, for almost 12 full hours.  By the time I have gotten up, David is gone and sunlight patterns the wall through the shade. 

I get up, get dressed and walk to a local coffee shop, book in hand.  I want to be out and about, sipping on a latte and letting the magic continue one more day.  I smile at strangers walking dogs and wave as a little blond girl in a green sundress walks by, holding her mother's hand and soaking in summer too.

I am home.   I am happy.  Summer is here once again.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Girl Who Liked

In a recent post by Chana about I Wish I Could Play Tennis With Tim Riggins* Friday Night Lights, I commented about a super-secret show I loved that I thought dear Chana might enjoy.  A second commenter to the post mentioned he/she was waiting to hear what it was. 

While I find it impossible to believe that anyone actually gives a crap about what I do or do not read, listen to or watch, here are some highlights from that list for you to laugh at enjoy.  In no particular order and with a brief description as well:

*(FYI - Here is Tim Riggins ladies.  Have at it!)

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George RR Martin's Game Of Thrones - Quite possibly, the greatest series of books I have ever read.  No, scratch that.  Absolutely the greatest series of books I have ever read. 

Mr. Martin does a phenomenal job of turning the dreaded "fantasy" genre into absolute art.  Highly entertaining, engrossing and (at least in HBO's wonderful adaptation) full of sex. 

Upside:  Great characters, great story, wonderful read.  HBO's aforementioned adaptation is also brilliantly done and absolutely must watch TV.  Unless you suck.  Or you are a prude.  In which case you probably don't suck.

Downside:  Based on pictures of George, it's 50/50 at best that he will live long enough to finish writing the series (which is so far five volumes done, with at least 2 if not more to go).

HBO's Game of Thrones - See above.  See also this.  And this.  And tell me this isn't a show worth watching.  Unless you suck. Or you are a prude. In which case you probably don't suck.


FX's Justified - Forget the fact that Timothy Olyphant is a handsome dude.  Forget the fact that each season is like 2 episodes.  Forget the fact that i am unforgivably an entire season behind on this show. -Watch is solely for the absolutely unforgettable performance by Margo Martindale as Mags Bennet in Season 2.  Simply one of the great performances of a female in a "bad guy" role in quite some time. Then you throw in Walton Goggins as Boyd Crowder and you have some seriously awesome television.  This is one of the shows I always watched with my brother and I will really miss that.

Friday Night Lights.  Eh, I'm lazy.  Go read Chana's review.  Or any of the other wonderful reviews of this critical darling that somehow managed to get five seasons despite the fact that no one watched it.  That had to do with the fact that its fans were seriously crazy about the show.  It recently was named one of the top 5 most successfully saved shows by fans:

"Ambitious fans devised three plans to persuade NBC executives that canceling the weepy football drama Friday Night Lights would be a mistake after its little-seen second season. Urging the network to "keep the lights on," they sent light bulbs. In another campaign they mailed as many as 2,500 mini-footballs to NBC. And playing off the show's tagline "clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose," fans sent in bottles of Clear Eyes eyedrops. Ultimately, a cost-sharing partnership between NBC and DirecTV saved the show for three more seasons — though fan enthusiasm certainly didn't hurt."

Tim Riggins, Coach Taylor, Tami Taylor and Matt Saracen were must watch characters for me for five seasons.  And while I was sad to see them go, I was happy to get closure.

GUILTY PLEASURE ALERT!!!

Supernatural - Yes, yes.  I have watched many teen shows in my time.  I have seen every episode of Veronica Mars and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  And I watch these dreamy dudes as well.  Sam, Dean and the angel Castiel make me happy ok?  Not everything has to be art you know.  Sometimes you just want Dean to crack you up or the always terrific Misha Collins as an "angel of the lord".  Ghosts, demons and hot guys?  Saving the world each season from biblical end of the world shit?  Sign me up!

(See also - Gossip Girl - which is basically Supernatural except with better femal characters and the evil doers are human instead of demons.)

The King Killer Trilogy by Patrick Rothfuss -  Once in a while fiction is just raised to another level.  This fantasy genre novel (well two so far with one more on the way - and Rothfuss is young so as long as he lays off the sauce before he drives, we should get the last book by 2013) follows the adventures of Kvothe - who retells the story of his life to a chronicler.  Whats so fabulous about this book is that it's a story within a story - and magnificently done by Rothfuss.  I recently recommended this book to Malka who loved it so much she had sex with it.  Sadly, I'm not even exaggerating that much.

Any novel written by James Lee Burke - Referred to as the William Faulker of crime fiction, James Lee Burke is a master writer.  He paints a scene with such vividness and beauty that it can hurt to read.  His characters are always damaged and usually former drunks, but they are good people who try to do the right thing in an ever increasingly bad world.  I own pretty much every book he's ever written and he's written quite a few.  Thanks Mom and Dad's credit card!

Any novel written by Lee Child - Jack Freaking Reacher.  'Nuff said.

Because they must be on here - The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (and movies) and the Harry Potter series (and movies).


And, finally, the super secret show I was referring to in the comments section of Chanas Blog Post about Tim Riggins:

Sci Fi's re-do of Battlestar Galactica - Sci fi you say?  Space ships?  Robots??  WTF?

All true, dear reader - I admit that I have a geek side to me.  It's true.  But this show is elevated because of extremely gripping story lines, excellent acting and strong female characters galore.  Fair warning - Chana tried the show and didn't like it all that much.  But to me it's a top three show of all time.  Take away space and flying ships and crap and it's still a great story with great acting.

I will always love you Kara Thrace, William Adama and Gaius Baltar!

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So this is by no means a complete list.  But this is a pretty good representation of what I am entertained by.

As always  can't wait for your comments.  :)