30 July 2008

Street Cred: It's in my jeans.

Check out this photo of me when I was probably about 8. If MTV had been a 24 hour network at the time, I probably wouldn't be sitting here at this moment. No, I'd have at least two albums out (one would probably be a dance album) and I'd have a cool nickname like Elisabuffy.

Will You Marry Me, Bruce Wayne?

For ages, people have asked the question, "Of all the comic book superheroes, which is the greatest?"

Well folks, after the recent success of one particular comic hero at the box office, I think the answer is clear (as if it was unclear before). The number one superhero is that clever character, Batman.

Now, now, I know there are those of you who doubt this greatness. One friend of mine in particular has her eye on that "Superman" known to some as Clark Kent. But really - who wants to be saved by a guy in blue tights who spends his days stumbling over himself at a newspaper? Also, have you noticed that when this "Superman" flies, he does so without the assistance of cables or spider webs? Is that really secure? He is cute with and without the glasses, so I will give my friend that.

And speaking of spiders, what is this fascination with a character fixated on arachnids? Ladies, Peter Parker could have easily been fixated on an insect instead of the oh-so glamorous and surprisingly strong spider. Think about that the next time his sticky hands grab you while dangling from an 85th floor balcony over a busy New York City avenue. Eeek.

No, I think I'll keep Bruce Wayne. While watching Batman Returns last week, I found myself often thinking, "This could be real." Seriously. I could totally see a Bruce Wayne type shun the life of a Bono or Bill Gates with their public charities and grants and pleas for others to help the less fortunate in favor of just taking care of business himself. Of course we will just have to overlook the fact that Bono and Bill Gates are speaking on behalf of millions of people all over the world and my Bruce Wayne is just looking out for his Gotham City. But, it's a start.

So, if you are one of the 6 people yet to see Batman's return to the big screen, please finish reading and make your way to the theatre. Just remember that I saw Bruce first.

29 July 2008

Dig This!

For the past few months, I've been organizing loads of old family photos and creating massive albums. Here is a cool one I found of my grandfather in Hawaii when he was serving in WWII.

As you can imagine, all of this time spent alphabetizing and stacking photos into neat piles makes for an ideal time to find new music. Just load up the ol' Mac and stream sounds from all over the place.

Here are some new jewels I thought you might like to investigate:


Stephen Fretwell
(check out The Black Cab Sessions in his News column)

Melpo Mene

Fleet Foxes

Happy Listening!

28 July 2008

Chop Chop

Tonight I find myself home alone. It used to be, when I lived solo in an apartment in LA, nights alone were common and rarely celebrated. But when I lived with roommates, I was not so unappreciative. No matter the degree of closeness with a roommate or the level of considerateness, I always appreciate having the place to myself. The remote is mine! I can order take-away and eat all of it and because no one will see! I can cook anything I want without having to ask permission or share!

This afternoon I went to Publix and bought ingredients for two fave dishes: lasagna and fruit salad. The lasagna was for tonight; the fruit salad is for tomorrow's breakfast. As I chopped kiwi, cantalope, strawberries, mango and apples, I savored having a kitchen to myself. As usual, my grand plans for my precious evening alone have been sabotoged by the allure of 800 television channels. But oh how nice it is to just sit here, remote in hand.

21 July 2008

The Wall That Sue Built

Yesterday I received this photo from a friend I shall call Sue. The arch is feature of a wall Sue is building as part of a dry-stone-walling symposium. You may see a bunch of rocks cleverly stacked to form a pretty wall with a curved opening. I see courage and ambition.

You see, a year ago Sue decided to pursue a rather obscure hobby called dry stone walling. In the States we don't see much of this art form outside of New England and pastoral parts of Kentucky. Most of our stone walls are held together with mortar and usually conceal a row of neatly placed cinder blocks. And you won't see lots of stone walls establishing the perimeter of ranches or gardens - that's what picket fences are for. But in the UK and Ireland, stone walls rule. And many of these walls don't require a drop of cement to stand tall and strong for hundreds of years. Instead, stones are stacked in such a way as to prevent the occasional cow from tipping the whole thing over.

Sue, it turns out, has always had an eye for stone masonry and a fire in her belly for running her own business. These two things haven't always been at the forefront of her mind, though. Right after university she pursued another hobby as a career and had a terrific run at that for a long season of her life. That season has now ended and she hopes to continue working in a field that she is passionate about even if the odds are, pardon the pun, stacked against her.

So this idea of pursuing a unique hobby isn't a new one. And certainly the idea of turning a hobby into a career isn't a novel idea, either. But it is a rare thing indeed to see someone dig up the courage to leave their home in a beloved city and move back to their childhood home in an effort to to pursue what they really want even if that means starting over. Since she made the decision last year not to settle for just any career, Sue has attended several conferences and symposiums where she has built a large ramp, created a diving wall to keep sheep in place and restored an old cemetery wall.

Sue and I both know that the business of being self-employed is not an easy one - we have our mothers' examples to teach us that. But I am so thankful to have a friend walking the exact same road I am taking at this time. It seems that when either of us is, again pardon my pun, at a wall, we have the other to lean on.

19 July 2008

On Monday of this week I returned home from a trip to St. Louis to visit some friends from Belfast, St. Louis and a good pal from LA. (I'll detail that adventure later when I have pics.)

A couple of days before I left for my 12 hour drive to St. Louis, I went on an interview for a job at a bank. My temp agency described the job as a "direct marketing position" and strongly suggested that I interview because I would probably enjoy the people and the atmosphere once I met them. I don't know what part of "I'm probably not the best candidate for this position" translated to mean "I just love driving 45 minutes to an hour to sit at a cubicle bathed in fluorescent light while doing data entry for a small but very corporate bank." But, there I was, making the 45-minute commute while my crisp white shirt wilted in the summer heat.

As I suspected, the atmosphere was so not charming or inspiring or pretty like my temp agency suggested. Also, that direct marketing talk must have been code for entry-level assistant answering phones for 4 people and doing loads of grunt work. I knew once I sat down in a conference room that could have doubled as a set for the movie 9-5, this wasn't the place for me. But the thing is, my temp agency, clever people that they are, told me that this lady sitting across from me had said some rather unkind things about my resume, particularly regarding the length of my most-recent job in Belfast. I won't bore you with details, but her condescending remarks sparked a fire in my belly to prove myself and the awesomeness of that two-paged document in front of her.

The conversation started something like this:

"So I see that you lived in Ireland. Why were you only there a year?"

"Yes, I lived in Northern Ireland. I had a one-year visa that expired in January of this year."

"And why were you there only one year?"

"Because my visa expired and the terms of my visa stated that I had to leave the country by the expiration date of my visa. In January."

"Hmmm. Well, I also see that you have worked in some very exciting places. I've been in banking for 25 years and I can say that it is not exciting work. It can be very dull at times. Why do you want to go into banking?"

editor's note: I do not want to go into banking.

"I like the challenge of marketing an intangible service. Banking is a service industry that ultimately is selling trust. You can't package trust or put trust in a consumer's hands, but choosing a bank is one of the most important consumer decisions a person will ever make."

I then went on to talk about local banks and the importance of being part of a community and being able to do business with someone you could shake hands with in your hometown - not in New York or Hong Kong.

At the close of my answer, I half-expected a woman in her early twenties dressed in a gorgeous ball gown to walk through the glass doors of the conference room and hand me a trophy, similar to a Golden Globes Girl gliding across the stage to deliver an award to Julia Roberts. But no woman interrupted our meeting and I continued to feign interest in this position that was "designed for someone just out of college with no experience but with a lot of aspiration."

After my interview and personality test, I met with an executive in HR. As introductions were made I wondered, "maybe now I get my trophy for such a brilliant performance back in the conference room - I mean, why else would I be meeting this really important person?"

At the close of my interview, the marketing guru with 100 years of experience in the very dull world of banking asked me if I needed to go to the "little girls room." I said no thank you and promptly dialed my temp agency to say that I probably wasn't the best candidate for this position.

I think they finally got the point. They haven't called since.

07 July 2008

Je t'aime, Internet

Oh dear Internet, how I have missed thee. Since Thursday night, I have been away to Myrtle Beach with three girlfriends for an Independence Day celebration. You, sadly, were not part of the picture.

How was my time away, you ask? Well it was wonderful. I used up a (small) bottle of sunscreen and donned a wide-rimmed hat all in an effort to prevent my white, white skin from turning a tacky shade of pink. (I think it worked). Two of the girls on the trip had the genius idea to rent an umbrella on the beach for the two days we were there. It was remarked that a girl in her early twenties would probably never pony up the cash for something that would block the sun from her body. Alas, Internet, my crew did not include any girls in her early twenties.

The beach was not our only recreation. No, we "cruised" Ocean Boulevard with the best of them, played putt-putt, ate delish food and walked around a tourist mecca called Broadway at the Beach. I also discovered that my friends sure are smart after several intense rounds of Trivial Pursuit. Who knew John Updike was such a hit with the Trivial Pursuit peeps?

Myrtle Beach may not be Palm Beach or Malibu but it sure is a good place for people watching. But then again so are you. I must confess that without you I was a little lost. I wondered what Anderson Cooper was up to and what were my favorite bloggers saying. I had endless questions that needed googling.

Now Internet, we are reunited and it feels so good.

01 July 2008

Meet Moses

My brother James brought home a new puppy last week. His name is Moses and he is cute, as you can see from this photo.

Moses is a Puggle - his mother is a Beagle and his father is a Pug. After a bit of research, James discovered that Puggles are quite the fashionable dog these days - but not so fashionable as to be deemed "hot" by the likes of Paris Hilton, thankfully. This popularity might explain why we had to travel to one of the most remote parts of South Carolina.

James and I drove to the blink-and-you'll-miss-it town of Cross Hill to pick up wee Moses. The drive took way longer than we anticipated and included several borderline-legal u-turns. Our directions, it turned out, were cryptic at best. When we finally found the post office that signaled our turn into Cross Hill, we had listened to the new Coldplay album 3 1/2 times. When we pulled up to the house, a young girl in a pale pink dress sitting on the front porch caught my eye. For a split second I thought we had taken a really wrong turned and ended up in Eldorado, Texas. Alas, we had not. The kind family raising their first "batch" of Puggles were Mennonites, which explained their adamant policy of no sales on Sunday.

Moses was the calmest puppy on the porch that afternoon. Looking back now, I think his calm demeanor may have been mistaken for heat stroke. The porch harbored the bright afternoon sun turning it into an easy-bake oven. Today Moses is a wild puppy with a taste for toes. He bites anything and everything around him, including the hand that feeds him. He also is a bit confused with when and where he can use the toilet. But all of this is to be expected with a little pup. At least this is what the puppy books tell me.