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Monday, March 8, 2010

#4 Brownies - Mission Impossible

First of all, the brownies were pretty darn good. They were chocolaty and nutty and crusty on the edges. They were dense and rich and I am a better person for eating them. They were so good, in fact, that I didn’t share them. I couldn’t share them. I tried…sort of. I cut four big ones to take to my neighbors. I got out the plastic wrap and set it on the counter. I even changed out of my pajamas and brushed my hair. But then I chickened out and said that I would do it tomorrow. I convinced myself that tomorrow was a better day. I thought that a sunny day would be better for this task and this day was a little gray. I thought that maybe I should take a shower before going to someone’s house and that surely wasn’t going to happen on this day. I kid you not; I came up with every lame excuse possible. It was laughable, really. My husband called from work and asked if I had accomplished my goal. I thought about doing the old “what?…I can’t hear you…I’m going through a tunnel right now…I’m probably going to lose you” trick, but my silence gave me away. He chuckled in that I-told-you-so tone.

This giving thing is harder than it looks.

The next day, my husband went to Costco and brought home enough Ghirardelli brownie mix to feed the American troops. I guess he thinks I need a lot of practice. By the end of the box, I’ll either be good at giving, good at baking, or good at eating brownies. I might have to change the title of this blog to How to Lose Weight and Kick a Sugar Addiction. There might be a brownie intervention in my future.

So, next week, I will try, try again.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

#3 Brownies

Today, I’m making brownies. My husband and I are on a little quest to find the best brownie. You see, we truly believe that you have to have a quest in life in order to make it spiritual and important. A life is not worth living if you aren’t searching for that thing that will give you wisdom, happiness, spiritual awakening, and life ever after. A while back, we were trying to find the best bottle of wine for under $6.00. It was a long and arduous journey, but we found what we were looking for in a bottle of Chilean Malbec. Unfortunately, since that find, the price has gone above $6.00. The secret about our bottle of magic was out. We might have to start on that journey again next month.

But this month, we are on brownies. We tried the brownies from the King Soopers deli and they were fine. I say “fine” because I’ve never actually eaten a brownie that I would put down or even throw away, God forbid, because I didn’t like it or because it was just too awful. So, I will just eat every brownie and critique each one. The ones from King Soopers had a kind of graham cracker crust that was weird. Also, it was like eating sugar. I could feel the granules as I bit into it. So today, I’m making my own brownies…sort of. It’s from a box. Does that count? According to Consumer Reports, Ghirardelli makes the best boxed variety so that’s what I’m going with. In my house, we pretty much do everything Consumer Reports tells us to do.

I’m telling you about my day of baking because it is going to be my first assignment of giving. This one is doubly difficult for me. There are two parts that make me uncomfortable. The first issue is the actual brownie. I told you about my inability to share my belongings. Well, I’m even worse with food. Remember that commercial where the two people are on a date and the Neanderthal-like guy asks, “You gonna eat that?” And then he reaches over with his fork and takes her food? I wanted to jump into the TV and choke that guy. Not because of the reasons all of the feminists in the world got a rise from that commercial, but because he took her food. Every time it came on I screamed at the TV. “Stay on your side of the table, Buster. If you wanted that for dinner, then you should have ordered that for yourself! That’s her food!!!!!” I mean really. I can share food, but I have to know up front that it is going to happen. You can’t just take it off my plate. There has to be a communicated, shared plan. There has to be separate plates and forks and equal portions. There has to be boundaries. Ugh. I’m back to those boundary issues. That brings up the second issue: geographical boundaries. I’ve never been keen on just popping over to someone’s house. I pretty much need a borderline formal invitation. I just don’t want to bug people, or catch them in their pajamas. Also, I don’t want to get out of my pajamas in order to leave the house, and you just can’t go over to someone’s house in your pajamas.

So for my first mission, I’m going to do both. I will stop by my neighbor’s house and share food.

I want to bring my neighbors a chocolaty treat because they are nice people, and I want to do something nice for them. When a massive wind and hail storm blew through our neighborhood on the second night we were in this new house, they came over and checked on us. When we were at the hospital delivering the baby, they picked up our yard and mowed our lawn. They helped us build our fence. They are neighborly. They deserve the highest token of gratitude that I can think of: BROWNIES!

My plan is to make the brownies, have a couple of them (in order to judge them for our quest, of course), give my husband a couple of them, and then take four big ones over there. I will call first so I don’t cross the line of intrusion, and then I’ll get dressed and take them over there. It will be as simple as that. I have a couple of questions. Now, do I have to stay and chat? Do I have to eat the brownies with them? Do I have to disclose all of the ingredients in case there are food allergies? I’m just kidding. But really, I wish there was a way that I could just e-mail them the brownies.

I’ll let you know what happens.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

#2 The Ungiver

I’m not a very giving person by nature. I’m sure that I was one of those kids who wouldn’t share my toys because I never broke that habit. I had a much older brother so I was practically an only child. I didn’t have to share anything with him. My mother is a tiny, short woman, and I am a tall athletic gal, so we never shared any clothes. I developed pretty early so I was always too curvy to share my clothes with my school-aged girlfriends (plus my mother wouldn’t let me). By the time I got to high school, the stinginess was ingrained.

The girls in the college dorm made fun of me because I NEVER leant out my clothes, shoes, purses, jewelry, and especially make up to anyone. Then I joined a sorority where I fought tooth and nail to get my very own closet. It was so tiny that I had to bring clothes back and forth from home. Other students took bags of dirty laundry back home for the weekend visits with the parents. I took armloads of clean clothes on hangers so I could swap them out with other clean clothes at home. I had a sort of rotating system so I could wear everything I had. My sisters didn’t understand why I would opt for privacy over space. I would watch how they would try on each others things and mix and match accessories. They would say things like, “I have the perfect belt that would match that tunic.” Then they would rush away and bring back not only the belt, but a purse and maybe some earrings, as well. Some girls would leave the house for a date wearing nothing of their own. I couldn’t believe it. And, of course, everybody wanted to borrow something of mine, something they’d seen me wear. I would make up excuses like, it’s a size 20, or it’s dirty, or my friend in Wichita borrowed it and hasn’t returned it (that bitch). They would just nod their head disapprovingly and go back to the gaggle of girls who would share with them and bond. It became apparent that if anyone wanted to borrow anything of mine, then they would have to take it when I wasn’t around and claim a wardrobe emergency. “I waited for you to get back from class, but then I just had to go to work and just had to wear your shirt. You don’t mind, do you?” Uh…yes. I would get really irked when someone would help themselves to my lotion or perfume or whatever consumable I had in the bathroom. I fantasized about setting traps and catching people in the act. I remember going through some pictures that a roommate took. Everyone else was looking at the main focus of the pictures – the people in them. I was looking at the background for stuff of mine they were using.

The fact that I had a lot of stuff exacerbated the problem. People think that if you have a lot of stuff, then you can afford to share or that you should share. But my sharing problem has never been about monetary issues. I never saw pennies flying out the window when I caught someone using my things. I saw a boundary issue. Yes that’s right, I have boundary issues. Don’t get into my physical or emotional space, or else. I guess I feel that if you borrow my belt, then you know just a little too much about me. Yep – I’m totally nuts.

So here is why I am blogging. I am going to start a little self improvement project. I am going to become a giver. I, at 40 years of age, will finally learn to share. I am fairly certain that being a giving person is the better way to live. I have a feeling that sharing will have an affect on various other parts of my life and the story will be nothing short of miraculous. I’ll probably end up on Oprah’s couch talking about how it changed my life. But, be sure of one thing, this is not going to be easy for me. I plan on doing things that will make me very uncomfortable, and I will tell you all about them. You’ll probably laugh at my idiocy and mock my failures. I hope you’ll be a little inspired to give a little, too, because this world needs something right now. I don’t have any idea if this is the answer, but I’m willing to give it a shot.
I plan to give at least once a week, for starters. I will share my time, or my belongings, or any talents or expertise that could be useful to anyone in need. I will seek out opportunities to give, orchestrate a plan, share, observe the outcome, and then report about it in this blog. I promise to keep my sense of humor about me and always find the upside in all of this. If you can’t laugh at yourself, then who can you laugh at? Read along and enjoy, but whatever you do, please don’t ask to borrow any of my lip gloss. I’m not ready for that…yet.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

#1 Um...

I have been thinking about blogging, I mean really thinking about becoming a blogger. But then, I read a woman’s blog and got a little depressed and defeated.

This woman sent an e-mail to my neighborhood mother’s group. She had moved from our hood to CA but still kept up with the group. The subject line read “shameless plug for readers” and asked us all to follow her blog. I thought this is such a coincidence…I’ve been thinking of blogging. Then I thought that it was going to suck and it would concrete my notion that I am SUPPOSED to be a blogger. That it is my calling. I fantasized about reading it and smugly laughing, and then forwarding it on to my husband saying, “See, I should totally do this. I’m a better writer/thinker/comedian than this woman.” But no such luck. I liked the blog. That’s when I felt defeated. I was hoping it would be bad, but it was good and enjoyable. I even signed up as a follower. I didn’t even know how to sign up. I guess I thought I would be the only good blogger out there. Then I realized – I’ve never even read someone’s blog before. I am fantasizing about doing something that I don’t even know what is involved. It is just like when my husband sits on the couch and watches Deadliest Catch and announces that he could be, wants to be a crab fisherman. He was born and raised in Manhattan and sells software for a living. Yeah right. It’s like when he tried out for a country music band and he doesn’t even know who George Straight is. It’s like when he…I could go on and on. But you see, he has big dreams, and he even goes after some of them.

So here I sit. I set a timer for 15 minutes and have started to write my first blog. I just want to see if I like it, if I enjoy it. To see how fast the time goes. Four minutes left. What do I think? I love it. I love the idea of putting thoughts out there into the great big unknown and seeing if I connect with someone. I love the bundle of possibilities that is available. I love the dream. I love going after the dream. Mostly, I love having something to think about and do that is bigger than me.

I recently had my first child, and now, all I can think about is other people. I think about my son every minute. Now, I even think about my husband a lot and catch myself wanting to do nice things for him like his laundry and cook things the way he likes them. I even clean his bathroom now – totally selfless move on my part. I thought that was odd enough, but now I think about people I don’t even know, like the woman who checked out my groceries the other day. I wondered how she got to be who she is and why, oh why, is she wearing that silly hat? Is this normal? I think it has to do with motherhood and empathy and that everybody is somebody’s child. And that someone loves someone else as much as I love my husband and my child so there must be some good in each person. I think that if I can spread just a smidge of that love, then this world would be a better place for my son and my husband and my wonderful friends and family.

So now I’m a blogger. Just another dime a dozen, one in a million blogger that thinks if you read my blog today, then maybe you’ll have a little more sunshine in your life just for a little bit. Maybe you’ll feel the love and pay it forward. Maybe you’ll clean someone’s bathroom or even let them dream about becoming a crab fisherman.