Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Swan Song: A Gen X Perspective on Retirement

Tonight, those of us at CPH celebrated the retirement of a venerable member of our team. In his early 70s, this gentleman is happily moving into a new chapter of life; retiring without apology to sunny Southern California (near his grandchildren).

Watching him perform the final act of a long and successful career has been an interesting experience these past few weeks. And it's been pretty impossible (if you are a person prone to any degree of reflection and introspection) not to consider what the end of a career must mean, should mean, will mean someday.

I've found myself appreciating the incredible good humor, relaxed attitude, and startling clarity and insight that this co-worker has provided since he announced that his time was – at long last – almost up. And while I (like many at the office) have speculated that it shouldn't take a person until the very end to behave with such freedom – in the end I think that perhaps that's precisely how it must be. After all, when else in your career can you perform so totally unfettered from the worries, politics, and expectations of the workplace? There should be something really unique about the last chapter of a person's professional life.

Long time employees and leaders who are preparing to retire are an
incredible asset to an organization.
The last parting shots they choose to lob your way are replete with wisdom and perspective – because the 40-year veteran of an organization is a dying breed in and of themselves. So listen up. I did, and here’s what I discovered:

Primarily, the lesson I discovered in Larry’s enthusiastic exit wasn't that we should all conduct ourselves like we are on the way out throughout all of our job-focused days. The lesson is that we should conduct ourselves with such passion, integrity, and no-regrets-ethic that when our last chapter comes, people are drawn to the energy we are still giving, the insight we are still sharing, the unique perspective we are still lending - right up until we walk out the door on that last 5 o'clock afternoon.

You don’t ever, ever check out. And you always exit with grace and passion. After all, it’s the final chorus of what you’ve spent the majority of your waking hours doing for 40plus years of your life. Make the conclusion a fulfilling end to the story, eh?

Here’s what I’ve learned from Larry:

1. Old-fashioned business sense matters, and provides a necessary balance to our new approaches for solving time-worn marketplace struggles masked in contemporary skin.

2. A solid handshake and a direct look in the eye cannot be undervalued, and means a tremendous amount in a world of fast paced, touchless communication.

3. If you want to impress a person, you better work at it. Contrary to what I hear a lot these days, you do have to earn the respect of the older crowd – not because you “have to”, but because you should want to.

4. If you are impressed by every somewhat talented person who stumbles across your path, you aren’t really too bright. Be on the watch for the real gems, and push them to excel.

5. Sometimes business is hard. Actually, often time business is hard – and you don’t do anyone (or any organization) any favors by curbing demands for performance.

6. Good leaders aren’t there to blow sunshine at you – and if you don’t like that, well … that’s sort of the point. Go work harder.

Taken alone these lessons don’t equal organizational success, and in fact in a new order marketplace they definitely don’t equal success. But they are necessary, and bring balance to the “new” mode of relating in business, and applying them (or at least acknowledging them) is useful.

When I met Larry, I was prepared to really not like him too much. He was gruff. Abrupt. His emails never more than about 10 words. And he absolutely didn’t fall all over himself in love with all (or any) of my ideas just because I presented them professionally and with energy. He actually made me cry (not at work, but on the long commute home) on more than one occasion. Frustration was there.

I had to work – really, really hard – to impress Larry. At the end of the day, it paid off. And he gave me some of the best, most valuable, and most meaningful praise I’ve ever received. He also left me with some pretty straightforward marching orders about my future in business. And that’s given me plenty to mull over.

So here’s to you, Larry. Thanks for being hard, old-school, and infinitely difficult. I’ve learned an incredible lot from your example.

Go enjoy that sunshine. And please leave us a number where we can track you down once in awhile.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Offline Living 101: Balance, Margin, Space to Breathe

We’re on family vacation! And even though we flew out to Colorado last summer this time it feels like a bona fide family trip; Sydney, me, and Leon adventuring together! We had a long layover in Dallas (and I’ve spent more than my fair share of time in that airport), and found Mommy’s favorite terminal (D, the international terminal because of the great restaurants and super interesting people you find there) and ate a yummy supper at Chammps (where Leon couldn’t hardly tear his eyes from the TV playing ESPN, and I felt the same way about another screen which had CNN … we’ve been satellite TV deprived this summer). We read books on the plane. Sydney got to watch Dora on the mini-DVD player. And we laughed. A lot.

Best of all, of course, was the time to just BE together; even when Syd had her 10:00p.m. melt down in the Colorado Springs Terminal (just sat right down at the end of the jet bridge and started to cry, “No! No! No!”). In big moments and small, I felt like my heart was expanding; my perspective reshaping; my mind set literally “un-kinking”. And as it always does, the thought came quickly to mind that time away is absolutely essential to making the time “there” more purposeful, centered, and balanced.

That’s not a revolutionary insight, by any stretch. So why is it that we need to be reminded again and again how important it is to include margin in our lives; space, breathing room, whatever we want to call it? Apparently because we’re not quick studies; and it’s only getting worse. In the fine print that comes along with the incredible advantage of carrying our communications tools, and indeed access to the entire world via the Internet, with us, we also carry work life and responsibilities always with us.

It’s tough to escape, and there also is a noticeable growing expectation by some that you really should NOT escape (Generally, these “some” are defined by external things, like work, rewards, improvements. The notion of a life lived with OTHER priorities must seem frighteningly absent of affirmation…just my thought on that). But add to this growing feeling my protestant guilt and ENFP people-pleasing personality type, and you’ve got a pretty powerful equation for never going truly offline.

When I took my new position, I made a pact to use my vacation. I believe I said something like, “I get 5 weeks, and if at the end of the calendar year I have that left over-shame on me.” Well, let the shame begin because the year is more than half over, and I’m not even close. Unfortunately it’s not because I am consumed by the office (okay, maybe that’s it a little bit), but more that the family calendar just doesn’t seem to open up for all of us at the same time (Sydney is so busy, you know), and then there’s this small problem with how quickly time goes by.

But then I really consider that, and I start to feel just a bit uncomfortable; because in the end it still is a question of priorities.

A dear friend of mine often says “life is always about choices.” And this is true. We always have a choice. Not that responsibilities and expectations won’t or shouldn’t be important, but we need to be clear about our priorities in life (our callings, many in my immediate circle would term them).
So, how do we do it? As a working mom, who loves her husband, her daughter, her career, and her own interests, too (forgot about those, eh? Things like cooking, reading, jogging, being with friends, singing in the choir, etc.) – what is the sure-fire method to figuring out how to live a well-balanced, margin-rich, offline life in an online world?

Here are my thoughts on the matter, and I would love to hear yours-we learn by sharing these things:

  • Know Thy Core: God. Faith. Family. Everything else is an extra blessing and opportunity for service. Don’t destroy the core, nothing works right if that is not intact.

  • Think It Through: the same friend who sagely notes that life is about choices also advocates thinking things through. Really thinking it through. Here’s an example, a co-worker had the chance to attend a function for the office, which was frankly a pretty cool/big deal, OR take his son on a road trip to experience a once-in-a-adolescent-father-son-lifetime sporting event. Talking it through, he came to the conclusion that not only would the choice to be with his son be more fun (and the work thing was really easily adjusted), but it would also teach his son valuable (potentially life-shaping) lessons about priorities and how to be a Dad. When faced with choices, vacation needs, competing priorities, really think about it. Think short term. Think long term. And choose accordingly.

  • Be Prepared for Sacrifices. The truth of the matter is that you really can’t have it all. Something always does have to give, and so will you. Sometimes, that is really tough. If it gets to be too tough, go back to thinking it through. Maybe it’s time to let something really big move on.

  • Family Matters - make sure you've got them in your corner. I’m a working mom. That’s our reality, and for many families it just wouldn’t work. For us, it does. And that means that I am a different kind of Mom for Sydney and a different kind of spouse for Leon. Sound like a rationalization? You betcha; that’s precisely what it is. And my family, namely at this stage my husband, and I are firmly on the same page, and so it works for us.

  • Communication Is Key and ongoing. When you decide to live life with margin, you’re going to have to constantly advocate for that choice. You’ll have to convince your co-workers that this makes you a more effective leader and colleague. You’ll need to tell the PTA, the other parents on your block, and maybe even your own family that your family won’t be saying YES to every experience offered. In the process, you’ll actually help people. And you do have to earn it, not just demand it. Margin and balance is something, unfortunately in today’s environment, that must be earned. Some people are just plain lazy, you are not one of those people. Some people try to be superwoman and do it all, and balanced living isn’t that either.

  • A Season. Recognize that there truly is a time and a season for different aspects of your life and activities. I recall once early in my teaching career when I was literally running ragged. I think I made some inaccurate rationalization for my being over-extended that connected to the parable of the talents – you know the one, where basically the lesson learned is that burying your talents will not earn you much in the long run. I even tossed in the old ‘To whom much is given …” reference. Well, to this my Father (at least I attribute this to him) very wisely said, “True, but scripture never says you need to use all of your talents all at precisely the same time, either.” It’s a recipe for disaster, your energies and investment won’t yield near as much it could with a spiritually refreshed, rested, clear-minded person.

So, that’s my recipe (at present) for a little offline living in my life. It’s a formational approach, meaning that as I think this through it will change and shift and adapt. Perhaps I am being naïve, but vacation always seems to bring the right clarity – you NEED clarity to be at your best.

So, that’s enough of my rambling. I’m headed to the family room to be a tickle monster with Leon and attack Sydney. Then we’re going out for ice cream. That’s the OTHER great part of Vacation.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Full House

This summer, as you all know, has been an experiment in family dynamics (and, so my father who is currently in a grad class at Washington University with the terrifying title, "Oil Wars" tells me, it may become the norm as the decades pass and we Americans persist in our addictive love affair with foreign oil ;-) as Leon, Sydney, and I have become residents in my parents' home.

It's been super. Syd is so happy, and Leon and I are so thankful. I suppose, the family member who seems most distressed is Bailey, but that might just be his 9 years of Golden Retriever life creeping up on him (though he sure does love chasing squirrels in the backyard! My folks seem to have an abundance.)

This week, our full house is totally stuffed as my sister has come to town with her kids: Gabe (7), Asher (3.75), and Rhylah (21 months). Nate (her hubby) gets here Friday, and we will indeed be a massive grouping of Staude-Jameson-Harrmanns. It's pretty outstanding, truthfully - and my sister made the observation that this is the first time she and I have both stayed here since she got married! So Mom and Dad are totally loving it; all the kids are HOME. And until I became a parent, I don't think I could have truly grasped how neat this must actually be.

With family dynamics ever in flux and families living farther and farther apart, this time of togetherness is really something to be cherished. Here's what's great about family all together:

1. It's loud - really loud, kinda crazy loud. This is good for Sydney, who as an only child lacks that chaotic normalcy that comes with siblings and larger family units. Loud means you have to listen more closely; express more carefully; and generally appreciate the speed and intensity that comes with all that energy. It's good for people like me who tend to focus a bit too intensely on the schedule, the routine, and the details.

2. Everybody pitches in - or nothing gets done. You help clean; make sure the kids have dinner; keep an eye on everyone in the pool; pick up other people's toys; share your bed with the kids because they love to get up early and just want to be with you. It's a wonderful sense of together that you don't often get in "normal" suburban family living these days.

3. You make memories that matter - I wish Syd was a little older. Today in church during the last hymn, Papa (that's my Dad) was holding her, and suddenly Rhylah wanted to be held, too. So there was Papa (getting some serious forearm work done) with his girls and the congregation singing, and Kate and I watching them -- and I had this thought, "they won't ever remember this." But Kate and I will. And they'll always know his love for them, even when he can't pick them up!

We all know that American family life is in a state of change. Different roles, increased financial concerns, competing schedules of family members, job transitions, more extra curriculuar things for the kids to do than ever before - having everyone share a space is just not what happens that often, if at all, for many families. It's a total joy to have this summer of family life, and to find new connections and meaning in our relationships with each other. It's one of those "I wouldn't trade it" experiences, and that makes us all very glad, indeed.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Home Again, Home Again

It's been awhile since I've had the time to post. As ever, I've got plenty of inclination. It must be 25 times a day that I think, "Oh! That would make an interesting post!" - but finding the time remains the tired challenge.

Well, that, and the grim fact that just about half of what I think about posting I decide I really can't because - after all - we can't be terribly honest in our blogs when everyone we know reads them, now can we! Some of my best observations just need to be launched in a more anonymous way, I suppose - which screams loudly about my day-to-day environment.

Here's the update:

Everything has been an absolute jumble. We've recently moved out of our 8-year home on Almond Tree Drive, and are in the far too grown-up process of building a new place to call home (on Lankin Drive ... and I have to say that street name bugs me, because I truly wanted a more lyrical street to call home!). At present, we are living with my parents on Norwich Street.

Yup. Age 33 and home with the 'rents, and with my hubby and Baby Girl in tow! It's a strange sort of familiar, yet totally foreign experience. Living home again means knowing the morning sounds of the house; sitting in my familiar spot at the dining room table (and of course forcing Mom and Dad - who over the years have moved to sit next to one another as opposed to flanking their daughters - to do the same); and feeling far too comfy with draping my laundry over chairs, my shoes across the living room floor, and my hair assecories in the bath (okay, I actually haven't done these last few things - too much - but I think about doing them, and that’s the point)

I'm really looking forward to the summer. So far, over these last three weeks all together, all four of us: mom, dad, Leon, and me - have already determined that we've eaten more meals at a table than we have in months (too usual to just grab and go, or grab and sit (in front of the idiot box) depending on the schedule of the evening!) We've gone on more walks. Had more lengthy chats about religion and politics (my two favorite topics with Dad!). We've spent time laughing. Watching goofy TV (like the Bacheloerette!) and generally enjoying Sydney. And eating lots of Lyons custard, which is the neighborhood place and I must say – bring on the Swiss Mint Concretes, please!

Don't get me wrong - we all enjoy great, balanced, happy lives in our own spaces – but we're all game to enjoy these few months of being a unique version of the American nuclear family. It's pretty great, and I am fairly certain that the experience will be essentially special for me, for Leon, for Mom and Dad, and definitely for Miss Syd - who seems to realize already that she has four adults to love, hug, and be amused by her.

So here's to being home again - there's no place like it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Little-Old Me

There's this strange feeling of déjà vu; or maybe it’s just the idea that “what goes around" truly does come around; a moment of seeing yourself in some sort of Benjamin-Button way—looking with old eyes and middle-aged perspective at a younger, sillier, more whimsical version of yourself. At any rate, however you want to define it, being the Mom of a precocious, earnest, purposeful little toddler I'm hit with these moments about 29 times a day.

Sometimes it’s profound (or at least I like to think so). Other times it’s touching. Sometimes it’s a bit unsettling (“oops, don’t want her to be like me in that way … ouch!)

This weekend, it was just pure fun. We came home from 4-days in Dallas to find our little girl’s imagination had quadrupled in size. Her current fancy: baby dolls. And so, at the end of our grocery shopping this weekend (given of course that we were in our new Super Wal-Mart where I can buy hummus and car batteries in one fell swoop), we headed to the toy aisle and purchased …

A Cabbage Patch Newborn™

Her name is Paula (not a terribly "baby like" name; my doll as a kid was named Linda. Who names these things may I ask?) We are calling her Baby Polly. Sydney loves her, very much.

Now, back in the day my sister and I wanted Cabbage Patch dolls soooooo bad. Oh my goodness, it was intense. And in the mid-1980s, the 30 dollar price tag was more than steep. But one magical day, this enormous box arrived from my Grandma Joan in Michigan. And there were our dolls. It was totally great. So, I have to admit, I felt pretty cool selecting Sydney's first Cabbage Patch Kid (and yes, I held up option, and the winner was the box she decided to lick.)

So here’s to the next few precious year’s when Sydney will be happy and content to dream and play “in the nursery”. I wish I could let her stay little forever. But something tells me, I’m going to really love the girl, teenager (yes, teenager), young woman, and grown woman this child is working to become.

Friday, April 10, 2009

what makes tradition

tra * di * tion

1 a: an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior (as a religious practice or a social custom)

2: the handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another without written instruction

One day, Sydney will recall that Good Friday means a quiet morning at home. Reading from God's Word. Shopping for Easter shoes with Grandma. Dyeing eggs with Mommy to hide for Sunday morning. Waiting for Daddy to be home from midday church, and going together to evening church.

One day, Sydney will know without being told that Easter means more than candy and Peeps and chocolate rabbits; and is even more than her beautiful basket with its personalized butterfly fabric liner.

One day, Sydney will hopefully think back fondly on moments with her parents and grandparents on special holy-days like these. Just as I recall handmade dollies from my Grandmother. And hunting for Easter baskets with my sister. And new dresses. And beautiful music at church. And singing in the school chorus for those daybreak services. Delicious suppers prepared by my Dad. Warm Missouri sunshine and family time.

And maybe, she'll work to recreate those feelings and experiences and attitudes and conversations with her own family. That's the beauty of tradition.

Tradition means that even though I am far from my sister this Easter, I can guess how she is celebrating and probably even how she's feeling. I can picture how my Aunt and Uncle are contemplating all the blessings of the Lord. I know how my parents will greet Easter with a “He is Risen” at the house on Norwich Street, even though Kate and I are grown and gone.

I think quite a bit about the importance of tradition. I always have been particularly aware of how things were and are and "should" be. But now, especially as a parent, I want to take careful note of how we create moments—both everyday and special-day. More than ever, I see how all of the experiences of my own childhood created this incredible reservoir of memory, values, faith, and significance. I want Sydney to have a similarly deep pool from which to draw.

So what creates tradition? It’s more than just doing the same things year after year; it’s how you do what you do. It’s creating rituals of action that are meaningful, and because they are meaningful, they become memorable and worthy of being passed along—often embellished and recollected warmly with the generosity that time lends to most old stories. Experiences become lasting when they are reinterpreted and re-imagined by the next generation—and usually they aren’t done exactly the same way as in years past. But it's when the spirit of the doing stays intact that traditions are made.

So here’s to traditions, past or present—those patterns of thought inherited over time make us who we are, and I—for one—am awfully glad they do.

Friday, March 20, 2009

listen up

The literature teacher in me will forever love stories. The simple act of using language to inform, captivate, describe, inspire.

Every Friday as I drive into work, I hear the weekly NPR segment from Story Corps, a project of the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress. Since 2003, more than 35,000 people have shared their stories with Story Corps. It’s one of the most ambitious oral history projects ever undertaken and if you haven’t heard about it, you really should visit their Web site and learn more.

But here’s the compelling attraction of this project – it’s purpose is not about the telling as much as it is about the listening.

The Story Corps Web site says, “Our mission is to honor and celebrate one another’s lives through listening.”

I resonate with this ideal.

Driving along in my car on solitary mornings, there’s nothing I can do but listen to these stories—some memorable, others strange, most seemingly insignificant, but made momentarily meaningful because someone hears it.

It's the project’s simplicity that inspires me. How will I share my stories with Sydney? How will I ensure that she hears the stories of my parents, and my parents-parents? With all of the noise, talking, speaking, podcasting, streaming, and media-savvy blogging, tweeting, status-updating chatter from every individual on the planet, can we ever hope to find again that simple situation of personal conversation: “a son asking his mother about her childhood, an immigrant telling his friend about coming to America, or a couple reminiscing on their 50th wedding anniversary …”

My best and most growing moments have been moments of story and conversation with my grandparents, parents, teachers, mentors, and friends. The objects I love best in my home are full of story. The notes and papers that fill the “treasure” boxes in my basement are valuable because of the stories they help me to recall.

And it truly is more about the listening than the speaking—being connected with the language and ideas and concepts of others where we find a sense of who we are amongst the whole.

Friday, February 27, 2009

What Would You Say

I opened my Facebook account recently; delighted to find a message from a wonderful young woman, now in college, who has been an important part of my Girls’ Group, one of my actresses, and an active member of our youth group over the years. She is bright, articulate, creative, and studying to be a high school teacher—a career choice that will truly be a blessing to many students in the years to come.

Currently, she’s enrolled in a workshop at the state university where she is a student, and she wrote me with a question.

Her 9-week program deals with issues of body image and self-esteem. The young women taking the class will use the skills they learn to mentor younger teen girls in local high schools. Sounds like a great program, and I know without a doubt that this young woman will use the skills she learns to complement her already considerable compassion and concern for teens.

But, her question really stumped me. She was prompted to contact a woman in her life and to ask that woman to share her proudest, most powerful moment.

Powerful. Power. That word made me uncomfortable to a degree. It seemed so … showy. But there’s this part of me that rather liked the notion of showy. Like lots of people, I am attracted to the idea of being perceived as a powerful woman. Perhaps the word strong would be more palatable. But the word I was asked to consider was powerful.

Power. Ful.

I pondered.

Leon immediately suggested, “When you had Syndey,” and I truly wish I could say that was my most powerful moment. But I was lying on an operating table undergoing a just-about-emergency c-section, and while I was overcome, I’m not entirely sure I felt powerful. I felt … humbled.

Then I looked up the word. And powerful, power actually, is tied to having influence over others. And trust me, in that moment I was not influencing others. Syd was coming into the world, whether I wanted it or not. Not by my power at all, to be honest.

My mind raced. After all, I want to provide a meaningful, compelling response. I want to offer a response worthy of the respect this young woman has for me. I want to give a powerful, influencial response to the question about power.

Interesting, no?

I thought through the obvious moments. And in these instances, I would suggest that most of us are led to think about achievements. God has been good, and my life has had its share. Faced with this question, you might think of those moments when you impacted large groups of people; received accolades; engaged in charitable or humanitarian acts. But each and every idea that came to mind, I rejected. “Nope. Surely that couldn’t have been my most powerful moment.”

I panicked. “What’s wrong with me that I can’t immediately conceptualize that moment?” As a professed self-aware person, shouldn’t I just know that apex moment in my life?

But as the hours (and now days) passed, a common theme began to emerge; sifted through those recollections of obvious moments.

Powerful moments are more about the end result than the immediate impact. (And my apologies dear reader, but I am not ready to expose all of these on a blog, but here are a few.) Before I left the hospital with Sydney, for instance, Leon left the room to get the car. And Sydney and I had a quiet conversation. Promises were made. That was a powerful moment.

After Leon and I were married, my grandmother fell into her final illness. We were with her and a small group of family. There was absolutely nothing we could do to stop her leaving us. And yet, that moment has become a powerful moment.

Sitting on a mountainside with a weeping teenager; a scene that no one ever saw and a conversation about God and decisions that no one will ever hear. A powerful moment.

I hate to be clichéd, but I am wondering if maybe the more life you encounter (not necessarily years, mind you), the more you recognize that those moments that make you feel the most “powerful” are those where you define self, not those where others define you.

In my younger years, I am sure my response would have been quick and certain and would have involved some sort of accolade or praise; a cheering crowd or happy class of students or a recognition in front of my peers.

But I am realizing more and more that the moments that “make” me are much quieter. And interestingly, in the trusty dictionary, the first definition of power has nothing to do with control or influence. It’s this: the ability to produce an effect.

And when you produce effects, it can’t be all about you.

For several years, I had the joy and privilege to work on behalf of Christians teenagers as part of the National LCMS Youth Gathering. Over those 6 years, there were many on-stage, up-front moments. Lots of chances to feel proud and powerful, but the moment that stands out the most is a quiet one: Standing in the darkness in the mass event hall where 30,000 students watched the action on stage, while I simply stood and watched them. No one knew me (in fact, one youth leader asked me to step out of the way), but I knew them, and I knew the hundreds of hours of work that had impacted that moment. And I didn’t need anyone to tell me “great job.” It was powerful.

My most powerful moments are those when I understand my purpose, and am affirmed in the choices and direction of my life. Often, they are moments that are humbling, because at the very same moment that I feel “great”, I am also conscious of how small I really am in the “big picture.” I think this is a significant learning at this stage in my life.

You see, like many new moms, I think I am dancing with the inclination to make Sydney’s moments my powerful moments. They’re not. Those moments are hers. And it’s important for me to retain a sense of pride and purpose of self so that I can be a powerful, effective mom.

So. After all of this, what is my response to my dear friend: My most powerful moment have been those when I have been most aware of my own weakness. My most powerful moments, while maybe including affirmation and accolades, have also been accompanied by personal moments of taking in the significance of my own insignificance, which result in feelings of deep gratitude to my Heavenly Father who delights in me, strengthens, and equips me in all circumstances.

Maybe not the most powerful of answers, but I hope its message will suffice.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Cookie Monster Says "The LAST Cookie!"

Okay friends. It's a sign of our new role as parents - but take 3:39 minutes and just watch this hilarious sketch. We love Cookie Monster - and his body language is a riot in this one. Just wait until he gets to the LAST COOKIE.

Ah to be so singularly motivated. You always know what drives Cookie, kinda nice.


Saturday, January 31, 2009

Theory on Facebook Status – “This feeling that I’m unwanted …”

So, it’s a typical Jameson Saturday night, which means we are home. Syd is sleeping. I am enjoying a glass of wine and watching Frasier reruns. And Leon is getting his message perfected for PowerHouse tomorrow.

And I’m aimlessly cruising Facebook; slightly bemused by the random nature of the Statuses of all of my friends living in that virtual community.

Actually, lately, I’ve been really considering the whole philosophy that lurks within the notion of the Status Post … is it really the idea that we are (culturally) amusing ourselves to death, or is there something more profound at work in our need to let everyone know what we are up to …

As I embark on a Twitter campaign for work – unpacking this voluntary-offering-up-a-GPS-of-self has me even more intrigued. But nonetheless, tonight I was scrolling through the Status Updates of my friends – the absolute variety of their experiences was stunning. A rundown is interesting —And I’m not saying this is profound, but I think there’s something more to say about …

XXX is going on a hot date tonight!!!

XXXX is wiped.

XX shoveled 18in of snow off the entire driveway, sidewalk, and deck. It is now clear to move in.

X was on tv. haha!

XXX wonders if there's a special prize if you get 2 seasoning packets in your ramen noodles?

XX is playing hide and go seek with America's economy, and its a good hider.

X is glad that his 3-yr-old daughter is finally home from the hospital after a long ten days!

XX is laughing it up.

XXX It's never too late to realize what's important in your life--and to fight for it.

And then … a student wonders if there is anyone out there for her, because she has this feeling she’s unwanted.

Well. That makes you stop and wonder.

The Facebook Status – the awkward, honest-yet-contrived overview of your cross-section of American-Global life, all in a matter of seconds.

Google it - and countless blogs are already pondering the theory - and countless authorities are already defining the update addiction so many Facebookers must be confronting.

I don’t know that I have anything to say about this – necessarily … but, it seems to me that the flocking of American culture to Facebook and the need to update one’s status on an hourly, daily, monthly, minute-ly moment is somehow akin to the classic “cry for help.”

That’s, too dramatic, but the question is: for whom do we post our status?

Self? Others? … I honestly am not sure about my own response to that question.

And I guess the deeper issue is, truly, is anyone actually paying attention …

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday evenings. A conversation.

“I think I am going to blog.”

“Great idea. What about?”

“I don’t know.”

“Something funny happened this weekend.”


“How about you talk about our house hunt?”


So went the casual chat in the Jameson living room ... about 5-minutes ago.

I'm lounging here in my favorite chair, watching the (using Leon’s words) “Something Templar” on NBC; drinking a lovely glass of Estancia Pinot Grigio; and contemplating a bubble bath.

This is what I would call an absolutely ideal Sunday evening.

I wish I could say that I have more to … say tonight. But, I don’t’. And how tremendous that the Internet allows me to simply blabber on about nothing simply because I want to—ah, communications in the 21st century. There’s probably an insightful blog in there, but not for me tonight.

Truthfully, I have nothing of anything resembling an epic insight to share (not that I really ever do … but at least I put forward a good front).

Although, Leon just tossed out the "how about Sydney throwing her food for the last two days ... there's a blog in there." And he's probably right, but-again-not tonight.

I simply felt like sending out a hello to the “void.” Well. Not so much the void, but to those folks who often say, “I follow your blog.” (Leave comments – we like those!) To those folks, I feel a need to say something new – and what is that line from You’ve Got Mail … “The odd thing about this form of communication is that you're more likely to talk about nothing than something."

But all those somethings can truly add up.

At any rate, tonight is a peaceful, routine evening; and for that I am thankful and content. The week will start bright and early, and it’s moments such as these that give me the “umph” to tackle it with true energy.

Onward and Upward!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Monday, January 12, 2009

The House at Silver Lake

A Dream Deferred
by Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore--
And then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

Well. That's a bit morose for a Monday evening.

Not to be too terribly dramatic or melancholy about it all, but Leon and I thought we had our dream home in our sights—only to be thwarted. Long story, and it may still work out. Here’s to hoping this is a syrupy sweet story and not a rotten meat story. Yeesh.

I called the house the “Father of the Bride” house, and not only because it was this rambling colonial. But it had that whisper about it—"settle here and raise your kids and welcome them back when you’re old and grey". I'm a bit of a sucker for that whisper.

I’m trying to determine what has me so set on finding that particular house—“the” house as it were. I think it truly is wrapped up in that idea of rootedness, connection, and the allure of the familiar. I like those concepts, even as much as I love exploring new places, eating adventurous foods, and traveling to distant locations. It’s the knowledge that what is certain waits that makes the unknown so vast and compelling.