unfortunately, that *is* my hair

I wrote this a few haircuts ago.

I went for a haircut earlier this week. The stylist asks if I want the usual, and I said yes. However, as I left, I checked out my reflection and was chagrined to discover that my so-called usual is a bowl-ish Gidget ‘do. 😦

As I turned on the car, I’d left the radio on a country station, and “That Ain’t My Truck” by Rhett Akins was playing… at the part where he sings, “This don’t look good at all.” Good thing I don’t believe in omens!

movie review: Avengers: Age of Ultron

I finally saw “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” and – as is often the case with the superhero flicks – I felt compelled to jot down my thoughts…

TV Toaster

* I miss Loki. I guess the guy can’t be in every movie… then again, why not? (As Paul McCartney would say, “What’s wrong with that, I’d like to know.”) I think his absence is what made seeing this film more of an “I’ll get to it sometime” rather than “I’m SO there on opening weekend!”

* While I liked this movie, others have raised the bar pretty high for me, so I’d place A2 way down on the list when ranking my favorite Marvel offerings. After the first Avengers, the early 2000s Spiderman 2 and 1, the year 2000 X-men, the two Thors, Iron Man 1 and 2, the two Captain Americas… So far, A2 ranks somewhere above Iron Man 3 and the two original X-men sequels.

* I intensely disliked the preachy Ultron. An article I read after the first Avengers expressed the theory that, while Loki is…

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a year in review – 2014

1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?
ate poached fish, attended an ash scattering, battled an infestation of pantry moths, been dining at a restaurant where our waitress quit, bought coffee beans and had them ground, had cake for breakfast, put audio books on my mp3 player, saw a movie at Carmike Valley Bend Theatre, touched a meteorite, tried computer glasses, was rear-ended in traffic

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
For 2014, I wanted to continue to make nutritious food choices and read the Old Testament.
For 2015, I plan to work on #19 and #39 below, and to dwell on the truth: “God’s plans for your life far exceed the circumstances of your day.”

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Yes. My aunt passed away in May.

5. Where did you travel?
only to local cities that I’ve visited before

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?
My biggest dream is still to own a home. If I can get closer to that in 2015, that would be awesome.

7. What date or event from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
One of my co-workers was retiring, and I collected money to compile a “retirement survival kit.” He was planning to travel, so I selected items such as a road atlas, car care kit, travel pillow, etc. Anyway, in my head I added up the cost of each item, loosely allowing for tax. When I got to the register to pay, I had $62 to spend – and the total was $61.99!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
In June, I began an almost weekly effort to de-clutter both in real life and in my computer files, and I’d say it has been a success, although there’s still work to be done.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Twice I had what I’ll call “a catastrophic failure of imagination.”

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Yes! I suffered from eye strain most of the year. My mysterious right side pain had several flare-ups, including the worst one yet that started last month and branched out into a host of other aches and weirdness that lingers still; as ever, the doctor couldn’t find anything. I also had an extreme case of vertigo – and several minor ones – back in March.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
the Bible on CD
Runner-up: a large bubba (brand) mug on clearance, to hold my coffee

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Three different neighbors who went above and beyond in being good neighbors

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
A certain co-worker’s. Sometimes this guy is really nice… but more often he seems argumentative in what should be a casual exchange. Plus, he’ll be right next to my desk and invite others to lunch, and yet he doesn’t invite me, even to the Happy Retirement lunch for my favorite ex-employee – and I know Appalling Co-worker knew I wanted to go.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Probably to #15.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Taking the first “real” steps toward getting my own home – and planning to take even more next year!

16. What song will always remind you of 2014?
“Brave” by Sara Bareilles, because I finally worked up the courage to tell Jeff how I (don’t) feel.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
Happier or sadder? this year has been a roller-coaster of emotion
Older or wiser? definitely older, thanks to my “ailments”
Thinner or fatter? About the same
Richer or poorer? About the same

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
felt better!

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
freaked out over not feeling better

20. Did your heart break?
Yes. I cried for a week when one of our cats was crippled by a car.

21. How did you spend Christmas?
My mom, sister and I opened our gifts around nine, after I set up our low-frills video camera. (It seems that the sound worked (for a change), so no “silent night” this year!) I fixed lunch and, later, supper, and took pictures of our gifts. I checked out Facebook and worked on a few small computer projects, including these Year End Questions. I had two cups of hot tea and an OJ/yogurt “smoothie,” plus one piece of dark Ghirardelli chocolate with caramel. I also used a pretty notebook I received last year to start a “prayer journal” for collecting musings from devotionals, sermons, Bible verses, etc.

22. How will you spend New Year’s Eve?
I’ll be holding down the fort at work along with the 2 or 3 other people who are not on vacation. Later at home, the fam and I will probably watch some DVDs, and then ring the new year in as we typically do: sleeping.

23. What was your favorite TV program?
I still don’t watch any current programs, opting instead for DVDs. This year, I expanded my collection to include two “classics” that I’d never seen: Joan of Arcadia and thirtysomething.

24. What were your greatest food discoveries?
Key Lime flavored frozen Greek yogurt, homemade dark chocolate ice cream, roasted red pepper tapenade, roasted okra, baked pears, corn chex cereal with almond slivers

25. What was the best book you read?
I cut way back on reading because of recurring eye strain. But I purchased the entire Bible on CDs, and I’ve been listening my way through the Old Testament. (Currently, I’m in Judges.)

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
LOTS of happy musical discoveries this year, because of frequenting new-to-me radio stations. Three songs that immediately come to mind are “Counting Stars” by OneRepublic, “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, and “Smile” by Kirk Franklin.

27. What did you want and get?
My sister got a better job.

28. What did you want and not get?
For my doctor to do more than a cursory check when I went last month with a new ailment cluster that I find disturbing.

29. What was your favorite film?
Films Seen This Year and Really Liked: Captain America: Winter Soldier and Home Fries

30. What did you do on your birthday?
I took the day off of work. I purchased some mp3s and checked Facebook. I made lunch including a new recipe: Pineapple Pudding Cake. (LOVE IT!) My sister was off from work, too, so we went with my mother to a nearby city where we revisited the mall where we used to back-to-school shop and a small museum that we hadn’t been to since the 1980s. I took some pictures to commemorate the day. Later, I walked around in the yard, enjoying the beautiful sunny day and unseasonable warmness. Plus, I had earlier decided that my birthday was a good day to launch a “serious” inquiry into building a home, and so I called a bank to ask some questions.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
If the people I’m around the most would join in my effort – at times, yes, struggle – to be positive. Failing that, if they could just silence the rampant NEGativity…!

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?
Largely unchanged: casual, with many days of wearing jeans… and continuing in my perpetual quest to style my hair in a way that doesn’t make me want to cry

33. What kept you sane?
This year has been a challenge. I’m learning what it means to “wait (trust, hope) in the Lord and find new strength.” (Isaiah 40:31)

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
No one, really. I was too distracted by real life.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
Again this year, the fiasco that is Obamacare. My sister attempted to sign up back in January, only to discover that her “affordable” coverage would cost one-third(!) of her meager income. Needless to say, that price made insurance out of the question, and she joined the increasing number of people opting to pay the penalty, aka “the tax on being alive.”

36. Who did you miss?
The two ladies from my previous job. There’s no one at my current job that I can relate to.

37. Who was the best new person you met?
No one stands out.

38. What changed the most in your life this year?
Jeff and I decided to take a break.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.
The saying goes that “if you hold a flower in your hand and really look at it, for that moment it is your world.” Well, I don’t want my focus – my world – to be my problems.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
“I see the world through my jaded eyes. I get frustrated when there is no why… I press on when I still don’t get it.” “Wrecking Ball (Press On)” ~ Building 429 with Blanca Callahan of Group 1 Crew

decide it!

I wrote this today for my inspirational site.

some rain, some shine

I recently heard this quote:

“In life, you’re going to be left out, talked about, lied to and used. But you have to decide who is worth your tears.” – Unknown

I considered other ways Unknown could’ve phrased it.

“… But you have to decide who will bring you down.”

Or,

“… But you have to decide who is worth losing sleep over.”

Or even,

“But you have to decide who is worth sacrificing one more moment of your precious life allowing their thoughtlessness to negatively impact your health and peace of mind.”

Although more could’ve been said, the anonymous writer opted to leave the thought fairly open-ended, perhaps because the outcome *is* open-ended. People will let us down – as will other things in life – and then we have to decide where we take it from there.

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shun the shame game

A few thoughts I wrote for my “inspirational” blog…

Shun the Shame Game

Maybe you’ve noticed an increase lately of reports – they sometimes masquerade as news stories – in which a person makes fun of another person’s weight. Often the person being mocked is a female celebrity who was formerly known for being thin. Such remarks have been tagged “fat-shaming,” and they range from the seemingly mild (“Oh, you don’t have to tell me you like chocolate.”) to the downright cruel (“She’s totally let herself go. It’s gross!”)

Maybe you’ve also noticed that these comments are not just limited to weight, nor are they exclusively aimed at celebrities. If you are almost thirty years old and single, then you are likely familiar with single-shame. If you’re over thirty, and single, and female, it can escalate to spinster-shame. Variations of the trend abound. You can be flub-shamed when you misspeak, fashion-shamed when you wear the wrong outfit, friend-shamed when you keep the wrong company…

And let’s not forget food-shame. Oh, no, I can forget that one. When I was in elementary school, one assignment we had was to write the instructions for how to do something. I chose to detail the steps for making a fried bologna sandwich. Hey, I was a kid from a lower-lower-middle class family in the South. It didn’t occur to me that bologna wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and it certainly never occurred to me that something so simple could be so ill-received. But, believe me, I knew it after that day. I still remember the condescending look of disdain on the snooty substitute teacher’s face as she read aloud each of the steps I’d written. I was humiliated.

Looking back, thinking of that substitute’s response, I marvel. Really, lady? Really?? So you don’t like processed meat. Your opinion of it (a food!) is so extreme – and your estimation of the importance of this subject is so high – that you could not hide your contempt. A fourth-grader’s feelings be darned!

Isn’t that the essence of ____-shaming? “My opinion – NAY, my RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENT – must be made known!”

But, wait just a mo… doesn’t that reek of intolerance? And aren’t we in America working to stamp out such narrow-mindedness? If that is truly our goal, we might do well to start by admitting that we all have such thoughts from time to time. Maybe it’s because, even though we might be quick to agree that there is no true “normal,“ we each have ideas of what normal looks like. And when someone strays too far outside of our standard, we might resort to shaming to try to punish that person into compliance.

Unfortunately, if change is the point, shaming doesn’t work. You can read more about that in the articles I’ve linked at the bottom of this post, or you can give it a Google. Or maybe, like me, you know it’s true from personal experience. I’d like to say that the bologna incident above was the only time I’ve been shamed, but that is *so* not the case. When someone launches snarky barbs at me, usually my first reaction is to get defensive. Maybe I make a mental list of the shortcomings I see in the would-be shamer, and I wonder who they think they are to call me out on anything. Sure, my feelings will probably be hurt, because we’re wired to seek acceptance. Perhaps I comfort myself by thinking that if they bothered to get to know me, they would understand why I do what I do. If the criticism becomes a pattern, you can bet I’ll start to avoid that person as much as possible. But I won’t change the shamed behavior. In fact, I might become more determined not to.

“But this person is just so ___. I’ve got to say something!” Well, remember that old adage: people don’t care what you know until they know that you care. If you’re just showing off, they’re not going to care. But if *you* care, let them know. Invest time in the relationship. Get to know the person. Perhaps, over time, you can help bring about positive change by your continued support and encouragement. Or maybe you’ll discover that they don’t need fixing, and they never did.

In any case, skip the shame game. Too many people are already playing – and no one is winning.


See also:

www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/07/26/205766456/hating-on-fat-people-just-makes-them-fatter

http://www.thenation.com/blog/174049/fat-shaming-all-around-us

a year in review – 2013

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?
Sat in an interview as one of the interviewers, waited three years to wear a coat I bought, made crock-pot green bean casserole, discovered I get body aches when I chew sugar-free gum regularly, used a rebate credit card, wore a wrist brace at work, used reading glasses, made an online purchase on “cyber Monday,” used the shuttle service during a car repair, had a bird poop in my coffee cup, and learned to use caution while walking under trees with an open coffee cup.

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
For 2013, I wanted to make more nutritious food choices and walk more; I’d say I accomplished the first but could’ve done much better on the second.
For 2014, I want to continue to make nutritious food choices and read the Old Testament.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Yes. Loki, the last of the batch of kittens that I took over feeding when their mom disappeared. Wow, I loved that cat.

5. Where did you travel?
only to local cities that I’ve visited before

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?
My biggest dream is still to own a home. If I can get closer to that in 2014, that would be awesome.

7. What date from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Perhaps Black Friday, because quite a few things happened, such as, I found #11, and the power button popped off of our TV.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I organized the Thanksgiving pot-luck lunch for my office, and I thought it turned out really well.

9. What was your biggest failure?
At work I made at least 3 *completely* boneheaded mistakes.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
My left eye eye began (and continues, sigh) to show strong signs of eye strain, making this the third time in a row that I’ll end the year with a new “ailment.”

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Captain America: The First Avenger. I’d been waiting for a good sale (because rare is the movie I like well enough to pay more than $10 for), and I found it for $6! (Needless to say that was a previously-viewed version, but it plays perfectly.)

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
the people at my church

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Let’s just say that someone close to me made a decision that I disagreed with. Very much.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Well, it seemed as if I was always at the gas station. Gotta love commuting. :\

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The fact that I *do* seem closer – close! – to getting my own home!

16. What song will always remind you of 2013?
Maybe #26?

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
Happier or sadder? Happier
Older or wiser? Wiser
Thinner or fatter? Maybe a little fatter
Richer or poorer? Richer, because – unlike in 2012 – I was employed for the whole year

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
responded appropriately to situations I find myself in and to other people

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
been annoyed at my family

20. Did your heart break?
Yes. See #4. :*(

21. How did you spend Christmas?
My mom, sister and I opened our gifts around nine, after I set up our two low-frills video cameras to capture the festivities. Again this year, the new camera had “low battery” issues, even with new batteries. Then, I made lunch, including crock-pot green bean casserole and our traditional Yum Yum Muffins. I took pictures of our opened gifts, then computered on two smallish projects. We ended the day with Mom and me watching the videotape of our 2012 Christmas while I recorded it to DVD, and (again this year) we enjoyed the cheese-tastic Babes in Toyland, 1986 version.

22. How will you spend New Year’s Eve?
I’ll be holding down the fort at work along with the 2 or 3 other people who are not on vacation. Later at home, the fam and I will probably watch some DVDs, and then ring the new year in as we typically do: sleeping.

23. What was your favorite TV program?
Thanks to DVDs, I’m enjoying getting reacquainted with that 80’s classic, Square Pegs.

24. What were your greatest food discoveries?
I re-found the mega-delicious Lean Cuisine Butternut Squash frozen entrée that I used to get years ago.

25. What was the best book you read?
The New Testament (in the Bible, in case that’s not clear)

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Arguably, my favorite of the new songs I’ve heard this year is “Every Good Thing” by The Afters.

27. What did you want and get?
There were several biggies, with one of those being that my “mystery” side pain from 2011 continues to show much improvement.

28. What did you want and not get?
For my eye issues to clear up… although they are improving. I think. I hope!

29. What was your favorite film?
Films Seen This Year and Really Liked: Thor: The Dark World
Films Seen This Year and Liked: Argo, Iron Man 3
Films Seen This Year That Weren’t Quite What I Expected: Red 2

30. What did you do on your birthday?
I took off of work. I started the day “computering” on a few small projects. I ate my favorite lunch, watched some of my favorite music videos, and listened to some of my favorite songs. I made a fruitless attempt at shopping; fortunately I’d already purchased some things in the weeks before. I downloaded a song that I had forgotten how much I liked. I tried a few artsy shots with the camera, although the end results did not work for what I had in mind.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
if I had heard “thank you” more at work

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?
I made one change to my look: I decided to grow my hair out a bit, because I still don’t recognize myself in pictures with shorter hair. As far as clothes go, basically the same as last year: casual, with many days of wearing jeans and “girly” tops when the weather’s warm. 🙂

33. What kept you sane?
Faith – and the music of WAY-FM to remind me of what matters

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I remain enamored with (the character) Loki, from The Avengers and the Thor movie series.
Runner-up: Steven Weber’s character on the TV show Wings, because I can’t look at him without being reminded of Loki…albeit a smarmy and much less violent version.
Third Place: Bruce Davison’s character on the TV show Hunter also caught my eye.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
Obamacare. While I concur that changes to the healthcare system were/are in order, THIS is so(!) not(!) what was needed – and I think its disastrous rollout proves that.

36. Who did you miss?
our sweet kitties, Loki and Thora

37. Who was the best new person you met?
Bonnie, the hairstylist who gives me the kind of cut I need, while including the features I want

38. What changed the most in your life this year?
I found out that I’m related to my best friend from third grade! Her grandfather and my great-grandfather were brothers.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.
I don’t have to keep a lot of material things in order to hold on to the memories.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
“This is the stuff that gets under my skin, but I’ve gotta trust You know exactly what You’re doing. Might not be what I would choose, but this the stuff You use.” ~ “This Is The Stuff” by Francesca Battistelli

older or wiser?

One of the 40 questions in the year-in-review meme asks whether you consider yourself older or wiser than in the previous year. As with pretty much every one of the questions, (I overthink everything and so) my answer flipflops between the two options. When my so-called ailments are acting up or I recognize that I’m reminiscing yet again about the so-called good old days, I definitely lean toward older.

Still, overall, I would answer “wiser”… I know, it surprised me, too! Sure, there are areas – oh, lots and lots of areas – where I just don’t seem to get it. And, in my opinion, most people just don’t seem to get me. Plus, lately I have Bad Brain Weeks (TM) with an alarming frequency. Despite all of that, I do think I’ve gained some proverbial ground, which I’m daring to call wisdom.

Arguably, the most important advance this year is having realized I finally feel as if I’ve found my voice. Since high school, one of my most frequent sources of frustration has been the perspective that no one is listening to me, so this is huge! A big part of my feeling heard has been being able to ponder, protest, and pour my heart out to my dear friend Michele, since waaaaay back in 2001. She not only listens but is also in many of the same boats I am, so her attentiveness is doubly appreciated.

I also attribute this feeling of finding my voice to all these years of running websites. Nothing fancy or earth-shattering. Simply writing my thoughts and making them available is, as writers know, cathartic. As I say on one site, “Even if no one reads every word, just knowing that they could makes me feel as if I’ve been heard.” Adding to that, the bits of feedback I’ve received – mentions in books about the fandoms, comments from site visitors, repeatedly making it onto the first page of Google search results – have been invaluable. People *have* noticed my efforts. My words. Me!

I’ve even come to see that my family does listen to me, even if it’s not always like I would prefer.

Another gain is that I have developed a strong sense of self. Actually, I’ve had that for several years now, basically accepting who I am. It’s like in that saying, “First, we worry about what others think of us. Then, we don’t care what they think of us. Finally, we discover they haven’t been thinking of us at all.” I am solidly – okay, usually – in the don’t-care-what-they-think category. No, I don’t aim to antagonize people by throwing our differences in their faces. (I remain one who hates to argue. I mean, what a pointless waste of time!) My default mode is to try to be a nice, likeable… albeit introverted… person because, sure, I would rather people like me.

Unfortunately, lately, I find myself around people who want to lift themselves up by putting others down. Surely you know the type: they heckle you by pointing out your quirks, or mock your mis-speaks in a desperate attempt to make themselves look smarter. I confess, I can be as quirky a person as you’ll meet on any given day, and so a nitpicker-type will have no shortage of material to try to use against me. Ah, but my sense of self triumphs more and more: the disapproval of such a person means nothing to me. Which is good because it occurs to me that if you start changing to please them, they’ll just find something else about you to hate on. And I equate their efforts to impose their own standards to the playground challenge of declaring that “last one there is a rotten egg!” When you’re a kid, you play along with such dares, because heaven forbid you be labeled a rotten egg. But as an adult, you reject that. “Why? Because you say so? Whatever!” Not to mention that I’ll now take my goofiness over their condescension any day of the week.

So, yay! I have one question answered. Thirty-nine to go. At this rate, it’s good that I started early!