First World Problems

Ice Storm 2014 -- Greensboro, NC

Sometimes it’s hard to remember to be grateful, especially when we feel like we are being inconvenienced. One glance in the last 24 hours at any number of social media platforms confirms I’m not the only one forgetting this simple and critical component to our sustained happiness. It’s March 7, two days away from our annual spring forward for Daylight Savings Time and what feels long past when we normally feel the welcome effects of springtime on its way here in the south.

Instead of daffodils, we got ravaged by an ice storm that pummeled us without reprieve for approximately nineteen hours, give or take. There are homes and businesses scattered across the region without power, trees down everywhere, horrible road conditions, schools are cancelled (again) and I’m out of flour so couldn’t make pancakes this morning (sigh).

Before I ever left the comfort of my warm covers early this morning, I reached for the current book of historical fiction I’m anxious to complete: People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. (Fellow bookclubbers: I am hurrying to catch up to this month’s selection so I can participate in the conversation; I promise.)

As I opened to my bookmark, it was only a moment for me to remember I was in Tarragona, Spain, in 1492, and the Spanish Inquisition, having started in 1478, was well underway. Captivated and horrified I read through the unconscionable tortures inflicted on a young man, the brutal beating to death of his father, the frightening and lonely labor and delivery of his wife, the courageous escape of his sister with his newborn son and the systematic expulsion of all Jews from Tarragona. All in the name of God.

Earlier chapters took me to Venice in 1609, where my heart ached as hundreds of precious books were summarily burned for their supposed provocative and heretical text, and to Sarajevo in 1940 just prior to a 1941 German occupation, when Anti-Semitism caught everyone off-guard in a city that prided itself in one city block hosting home to the synagogue, the mosque and the Orthodox church.

This is not a treatise on religious atrocities over the centuries; it is a gratitude reminder.

My Gratitudes Today

  1. I am a single mother thriving on my own without forced dependency on a man for my living or my home.
  2. I believe what I believe and do not live in fear that anyone is going to seek me out, forcefully enter my home, harm my daughter, threaten the lives of my loved ones, or in any way disrupt my life because of my religious affiliations.
  3. I own and have access to more books than I will ever read in this lifetime (sigh) and I am privileged to know how to read, have always been encouraged to think and to challenge what I learn so that I can gain truths and knowledge for myself.
  4. I have a pantry full of food and am less than 24 hours from purchasing more flour, but am confident that in a bind I can always walk next door and my cup will be filled.
  5. I wasn’t required to go or to be anywhere today and could work from the comfort of my own home knowing my daughter was safe and cozy and all of our basic needs are being met today. And every single day.
  6. I laugh, love and live the way I choose.

I am looking forward to spring with its colorful display, but until it arrives I will remember the daffodils from springtimes’ past and the gratitudes today.

Choose you. Choose happy.

Daffodils by William Wordsworth, read by Jeremy Irons

 

Opposable Thumbs

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Happiness is such a lovely gift we choose to give ourselves each day.

This morning I was dragging my feet just a bit as I suited up to walk Eli. It was really cold outside and I don’t very much like cold anything. But Eli has that amazing canine sixth sense about him and he knew it was time to go out. His wagging tail creates its own current and I wonder sometimes if the movement is sustainable. And if so, for how long? This is a really happy dog so that tail wags a whole lot of the time.

But back to my cold weather gear. I layered. And then layered some more. I grabbed my monster mittens and added them as my final salute to the cold and walked out the front door.

Before too many minutes had passed I was feeling extremely energized as I breathed in the crisp morning air filled with scents of the last leaves falling and cold asphalt contracting like me from the cold.

And then I looked down at my hand holding the leash and I smiled outright and then laughed.

I love mittens! I love MY mittens! I love that they’re purple and fleece and warm! I love that when I look at my bemittened hands I am actually a Muppet! (Anyone else as jazzed as me about the new Muppet movie?! Tina Fey, people. Tina Fey.) And as soon as I’m transformed into a Muppet I wiggle my thumbs and remember one of my favorite lines from the stage production of Steel Magnolias, delivered by Clairee to Ousier with just the right amount of Southern charm: “Whitey Black is a moron. I’m not even sure he has opposable thumbs.” And the next thing I know I’m laughing and saying out loud to no one in particular, “You know, the funny thing about shaking hands is. . . you need hands!”

I crack myself up.

Okay. Okay. I’ll end today’s happiness flow chart before I quote the entire script from The Emporer’s New Groove. But just one more from Yzma before I go:

Ah, how shall I do it? Oh, I know. I’ll turn him into a flea, a harmless, little flea, and then I’ll put that flea in a box, and then I’ll put that box inside of another box, and then I’ll mail that box to myself, and when it arrives. . . I’ll smash it with a hammer! It’s brilliant, brilliant, brilliant, I tell you! Genius, I say! Or, to save on postage, I’ll just poison him with this.

Happiness Crusade

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On February 13, 2012, I started a 21-day “dopamine challenge” here on this blog titled Creating Positive. Many of you joined me in that initiative (and it’s not too late to get started) because happiness is year-round and a lifetime journey. While there have been many changes in my life since I first penned that post, one thing is for sure: my heart is still full of gratitude. It’s so full that I keep writing out more and more. My list is growing and I’m filling up notebooks. Pages and pages of things for which I’m grateful and/or that make me smile and bring me happiness. My list is very personal and unique to my life, as is your list. This is the reason I can pick up one of my notebooks and open to any page and start reading through my list and immediately begin to smile as I am instantly transported to another day, place, and moment in time that ignited a spark of joy in my heart.

gratitude |ˈgratəˌt(y)o͞od|
noun
the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness

happiness |ˈhapēnis|
noun
the state of being happy

Shawn Achor (whose TED Talk inspired me to start my own challenge) writes in his book The Happiness Advantage that

“. . . our attitudes and behaviors don’t only infect the people we interact with directly — like our colleagues, friends, and families — but that each indivdual’s influence actually appears to extend to people within three degrees. So when you. . . make positive changes in your own life, you are unconsciously shaping the behavior of an incredible number of people. . . . [T]here are nearly 1,000 people within three degrees of most of us. This is a true ripple effect — by trying to make ourselves happier and more successful, we actually have the ability to improve the lives of 1,000 people around us” (p201).

That’s empowering. To me, at least. And I love that by embracing the life I live I have the potential within me to positively impact the lives of thousands of other people. Thousands.

I can’t wait for happiness to find me like some elusive carrot forever dangling at the end of its proverbial stick. You will never reach it if that’s your aim. Your “I’ll be happy when _________ ” will forever evade you.

“Waiting to be happy limits our brain’s potential for success, whereas cultivating positive brains makes us more motivated, efficient, resilient, creative, and productive, which drives performance upward” (Achor 4).

Motivation? Efficiency? Resilience? Creativity? Productivity? Yes, please!

Happiness is now. Happiness is your choice. Happiness is within you.

Come on my happiness crusade and create positive in your life today, tomorrow and always! Will you join me?

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Mormon Missionaries

Sister J & Arminda

Sister J & Arminda, September 2013

I’m sure you’ve seen the Mormon missionaries around your town. They all look pretty much the same: young.

The boys wear suits and ties and often ride bikes and the girls are always in skirts and everyone travels in packs of two and they wear black name tags to identify themselves as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: the Mormons.

That was me. I’m a Mormon.

Sister J & Arminda, Rostov, Russia, 1994

Sister J & Arminda, Rostov, Russia, 1994

 
Age: 21
Mission Location: Rostov, Russia
Language: Russian
Distance from Home: really far
 
Greensboro, North Carolina to Rostov, Russia = Really Far

Greensboro, North Carolina to Rostov, Russia = Really Far

That decision to serve a mission – made when I was eight years old – continues to positively impact and to inform my life today.

Recently, I flew to Dallas, Texas, to visit Margie Johnson, who was one of my companions. We were a bit atypical as far as companions go, to be sure, but the two of us were together for ten of my eighteen month mission. Margie, whom I refer to lovingly as “Sister J,” was serving a humanitarian mission and spent her days in a local orphanage. Meanwhile, I always had another proselytizing companion with whom I spent my days out street-contacting and knocking on doors. The “usual” missionary stuff.

I have enough in my heart about what I learned from Sister J to fill up multiple blog posts, but won’t go long on today’s! Simply, she is one of the greatest women I know.

Whenever I returned to our apartment she was there, anxious to hear everything about our day. She loved listening to me describe in detail every single thing we’d seen, heard, tasted, encountered and learned: every funny incident, every touching moment, every misunderstood word, and every insight gained. Sister J knew just as much about what we were doing as did we, even though her daily routine rarely intersected with ours. She knew everyone we knew and connected with them without the aid of the Russian language, which she never learned but relied on me to act as translator.

I have yet to meet a heart as generous as hers and the example she gave to me through her simple acts of kindness are still a constant reminder to me all these years later: give of yourself because you are the greatest gift you have to share.

One of my favorite recollections of Sister J was the way she would typically greet me whenever we’d been apart for a few hours. Her cheery voice smiling at me through all my layered attempts to stay warm, reaching out to me, extending a grin that magnetically pulled the corners of my own mouth upward into my own rendition of the Cheshire Cat. Every single time she said, “You’re so cute!”

And because I want to always have her smile at the ready, I recorded Sister J telling me once again:

Review: Lee Daniels’ The Butler

the-butler-poster

Disclaimer: I’m white and I wasn’t alive during the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s.

It wasn’t until I moved to North Carolina in 1987 that I even knew there was a difference between black and white. As a transplanted fifteen-year-old I was immediately on the perimeter of my new environment, an observer at best, but never assimilated.

  1. Why was there a high school populated by only black students? And why didn’t anyone else find this strange? And when the marching band from said “black school” performed, they didn’t actually play any music or march; they all set down their instruments on the field and then danced to the cadence of a well-populated drum line. When I asked why they weren’t following the same guidelines as the other marching bands in our district I was dismissed with, “Oh. That’s just they way they do it.”
  2. What were the reasons my younger siblings were being bussed across town to attend school when an elementary school was located one mile from our home? Didn’t we desegregate schools a long time ago?
  3. Why did all the kids separate themselves during homeroom, in between classes and at lunch like a Whitman’s Sampler box? Preps. Jocks. Nerds. Drama kids. Blacks.

I watched the trailer for Lee Daniels’ The Butler and immediately felt drawn to the theatre to see it.

Forest Whitaker is undeniably perfect as the lead and gives a spot-on performance as the complex, conflicted and proud Cecil Gaines.

If closing the chapter on the Oprah Winfrey Show opened a new chapter in Oprah’s acting career, then please more. She’s remarkable and brings such realness (can I say that?) to her role as Gloria Gaines.

Actor David Oyelowo delivers a powerful interpretation of the “prodigal son:” Louis Gaines (although we question who’s really the prodigal before the movie ends).

There are so many cameo performances I won’t take the time to list them, but they are at least fun to see, if not a bit distracting from the plot since you keep thinking about the celebrity and not the role they’re portraying. I will say that no one steals the spotlight. On-screen time is probably a five-minute maximum, if that, for any one of those roles.

I daresay that the performances aren’t remarkable at all. There’s nothing you’re going to see depicted in this movie that will have you on the edge of your seat. You’re not going to be swept up in a euphoric moment of Hollywood magic. No flashing lights or explosions of magnitude or riveting dialogue will have you spellbound. And you certainly won’t leave the theatre feeling better about yourself (if you’re white, that is).

It’s long (132 minutes), a bit slow-paced, sometimes feels repetitive in nature and the most action you see are news reels being played as if in real time.

So why bother? Isn’t it just another movie about the Civil Rights Movement with some extra hype because of the A-listed actors playing all the parts?

My conclusion is pretty much yes.

This is a movie about the Civil Rights Movement. And yes, there are Hollywood heavyweights playing the parts.

This is a story of the parts of America we tend to brush under the rug. The part of our history we excuse away because it was another time. The parts and pieces of a past whose consequences are still being felt by so many of our own. The ugly truth that we are quick to condemn others for doing yet can’t quite look our whole past in the mirror and accept. This is OUR story – the one we prefer to depict more comfortably with black caricatures like we saw portrayed in The Help.

I reviewed and loved The Help, but it lacked a lot. It still had at its center a white heroine come to save the day of the overworked and underpaid black woman. And all this time later, I am still disturbed that Aibileen, the true heroine of that (albeit fictional) story, was given as her quotable line a grammatically incorrect phrase that became the mantra and rallying point of movie-goers, book readers and meme creators everywhere: “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”

The Butler gives us none of that.

The Butler is boring. It’s not an engaging story. I knew I was in a theatre the entire time.

What The Butler does give us is real life family love, disagreement, opinions, conflict, laughter, division, hurts, addiction, loss, devotion to country, and ultimately reconciliation and all through the viewing lens of a hardworking black American family.

(It also gives us a biased and an unfair depiction of the white man and the Hollywood pendulum of unfortunate caricatures swings to the white end of the spectrum.)

Real life isn’t Hollywood. Real life isn’t glamorous. Real life hurts. Real life is rewarding. Real life is confusing. Real life takes time.

And real life – if we’re being brutally honest – is sometimes embarrassing.

I cried throughout this movie. There were scenes during which I cried more uncontrollably than others, but mostly I just cried silently, inwardly affected by my own confrontation with America’s ugly past.

What do I continue to confront with each new book or movie or theatrical encounter I have with the Civil Rights Movement?

Skin: the thin layer of tissue forming the natural outer covering of the body of a person

Truth: We bought, sold, owned, disowned, raped, murdered, lynched, maimed, abused (verbally, physically, sexually, and emotionally), tortured and condemned other human beings based solely on the color of their skin.

That’s it. That’s the crux of the matter, and it is that matter that never sits with me. I can’t comprehend it. I can’t excuse it or dismiss it. I can’t tolerate the footage I see of it. I can’t be anything but heartbroken by it.

And that is why no matter how poorly told is the story (because all versions have their flaws, inconsistencies and biases) – this story is ours to embrace with all its ugly parts, admitting faults and write new chapters with the ongoing storyline determined not by the color of one’s “outer covering,” but by the quality of a person’s inner parts.

So despite the long list of differences we might attribute to one another I choose to remember what H. G. Wells said:

“Our true nationality is mankind.”

Creating Positive: Hopscotch by Moonlight

Hopscotch Game Board

I took a daytime shot to give a clear view of our game board.

It was a dark night with just a sliver of a moon and the only assets we had available to us were the following:

  1. Sidewalk Chalk
  2. A Sidewalk
  3. Rocks
  4. Four of Us

Many of you, I’m certain, have been in this exact same predicament. What you did I’m curious to know.

Us? We played hopscotch, of course!

I couldn’t remember exactly how to play the familiar playground (do schools even have playgrounds anymore?) game and if you need a refresher course, this hopscotch rules description was the nicest (read: it had pictures) online resource I found (read: it was the first link I clicked).

Peter was responsible for drawing our court. Ten spaces are required, although they do not have to be connected nor do they even have to be drawn in the traditional square shape; you can even draw concentric circles if you like!

You also need something to toss, like a button or a rock or a small guinea pig, but whatever you choose – be sure it’s got enough weight to land in the farthermost spaces. Admittedly we were tosser-challenged. I have a collection of “gems” I mined last year while visiting Emerald Village in Little Switzerland, North Carolina, and they were all oddly-shaped and few had much weight to them, but it was what we had to use.

Thus it was that many turns were repeated between spots 3 to 5. Ultimately we decided the first person to complete through space number six would be the victor since there were some technical difficulties surrounding the aforementioned spaces.

It didn’t matter that we stopped at number six. It didn’t matter it was completely dark outside. It didn’t matter if you wobbled a bit on your return trip to stop and scoop the rock from the original toss.

What mattered most? We laughed.

And now you can, too, as you enjoy our photo collage.

hopscotch

So much focus and concentration!

Creating Positive: Forts & Ghost Stories

ghoststories

It was Lindsay’s turn to be in charge of our family night activity so when she brought out the stack of blankets and sheets we didn’t question her motives. We simply asked for instructions. Minutes later we were actively engaged in creating a fort and suddenly all those Lincoln Logs buildings from our childhood didn’t seem such a waste of time!

This was a serious endeavor. Peter got ropes. I found the largest blanket in the pile. Julie stuffed the entire end of the blanket into the top drawer of the nearby dresser while reminiscing about her long-ago fort-building days with her two boys, now both high school graduates and Lindsay supervised. Oh, and she attached a clamp to the back of a kitchen chair that was brought in for structural support and integrity.

Finished Fort

Satisfied that our structure would withstand the rigors of whatever Lindsay had planned for us next, we anticipated phase two of her activity: telling ghost stories. From deep within the heart of our fort, with all the exterior lights extinguished and only a flashlight to illuminate our space, we randomly selected the pre-printed stories Lindsay had arbitrarily found online.

Bobbing heads, fishing devils and four stories later, the fort housed it all. Family night was once again a rousing success and our fort-building acumen will now be widely sought; I’m sure of it.

Please make all inquiries in the comments section below. Or at least share your happy from today.

Roller Derby or BUST!

RollerDerbyAction

Don’t be jealous because I got to attend the Greensboro Roller Derby on Saturday night and you didn’t. Or maybe you did. And if you did, then you shouldn’t be at all jealous. Nor should you be worried about passing the pop quiz I’m about to administer. It’s going to be okay. But seriously, folks, how about my mad iPhone photography skills? Who needs the Thundercats when you’ve got roller derby? With a little help from PicMonkey, you too, can dazzle and amaze.

ShifflerFace

So what started out as a simple Facebook posting (“We’re going to the Greensboro Roller Derby Saturday night, anyone else want to come along?”) by Christina turned into one of the best nights. Ever. I mean really – how can you turn down that face? And since I had company in town it seemed like the perfect ending to an already perfect day.

Now we feel like we’re completely up to speed on Jammers and Blockers and Pivots and their respective helmets and duties. What are Jammers, Blockers and Pivots you wonder? Let’s see how we do on the quiz:

FAKE ROLLER DERBY POP QUIZ

  1. True or False: Before you’re allowed to join a team, you need to register a freakishly cool derby name.
  2. True or False: Gearing up for a bout of roller derby is akin to jumping out of an airplane.
  3. True or False: The star on the Jammers’ helmets reminds me of the Star-Bellied Sneetches.

We were pretty confused at first, but then it got easier to follow. And lots more fun. And lots more enticing! How many sports do you know that are just for women? And full-body contact? And played on roller skates?! Click through the link if you want more educational information than you’ll find on this post about the Womens Flat Track Derby Association.

What if I became a roller derby star? It could happen! I’m pretty sure the only thing preventing my dream from becoming my reality is picking my derby name and buying my own skates. Oh, and time. But otherwise, I don’t have any conflicts whatsoever.

Bobbijean thinks my derby name should be ArmindaGheddon. Totally down with that. Or StarMinda. What do you think?

Better yet, what if Christina becomes a roller derby star?!

Because guess who’s already purchased her very own brand new ROLLER DERBY SKATES?!!!

New Skates

I’m pretty sure the ONLY thing now preventing Christina from full participation (aside from the fact she doesn’t know how to skate, but that’s a minor detail) is her new derby name. But that’s where we can help!

Christina currently has seven names that she and her husband have come up with. I’ll list them for you in no particular order of preference, and you can use the comments section to cast your vote for the name you prefer. OR, if you have a better one to suggest – please let her know!

DERBY NAME OPTIONS

  1. Susan B. BAMFony
  2. Keira Fightley
  3. Andie WarBrawl
  4. Holy Hanna
  5. Margaret Scratcher
  6. Rainbow Blight
  7. Violent Beauregard

Start casting your votes! The Fresh Meat program starts in September and Christina needs to start practice sessions with a Derby-worthy name on her jersey.

Old School Blogging

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Apparently this used to be the thing with bloggers – send around questionnaires and everyone fill them out and post their results. I haven’t been blogging long enough to remember that, but I got tagged, and needed a kick to write something and this seemed as good a reason as any.

Thanks for tagging me Daukas. If you haven’t, I recommend jumping over to Kristen’s blog Four Hens and a Rooster for some very entertaining reading on life with three girls.

And without further ado, here are the

The ABCs of Me

A. Attached or Single?

I’ve been legally single for the past twelve years.

bestfriends2B. Best Friend?  

In alphabetical order:

Christie and I are Dolphin Whisperers together.

Dawna makes some really cute babies.

Karen and I never run out of adventures together.

C. Cake or pie?

Why does it always have to be a choice? Look, if I’m being honest I’ll have bites of both. And if I’m at Mariam’s house, I’m having seconds on the cherry pie. And if I’m at Mom’s, then I’m taking all the leftover yellow cake home with me.

D. Day of choice? 

Saturday! I am way too tired on Friday night to stay up late, and by Saturday I’m ready to run around and play all day.

E. Essential Item?

I am addicted to my Vitamix – I need my green smoothies!

F. Favorite color?

RED – when in doubt, wear red.

G. Gummy bears or worms? 

Because I’m a vegan I don’t endorse eating either since they’re (ahem) not free of animal product (ewww!)

H. Hometown?

Buckeystown, Maryland! Where?! I know. It’s located just outside Frederick, Maryland, which happens to be the birthplace of Frances Scott Key, who happened to pen our national anthem.

I. Favorite Indulgence?

massages – regular ones

J. January or July?

July, of course! I love being warm and I hate being cold.

K. Kids?

One beautiful, amazing, talented and incredibly fabulous daughter.

L. Life isn’t complete without?

Swing Dancing w/my Friend ChiDancing. Lots of it. I’m an avid swing dancer, and recently started learning West Coast Swing to add to my repertoire of Lindy Hop, East Coast Swing, Charleston, and Balboa.

M. Movie or Book?

I always read the book first, and that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ll choose to see the movie. Oftentimes I’m disappointed once I see the movie version, so if it’s a book I really really love I’m more inclined to retain the movie in my mind, rather than Hollywood’s interpretation. However, two movies come immediately to mind that were (in my opinion) exactly like the books: Gone With the Wind and Holes. Yes, I know – nothing to do with one another, but both wonderful in their own right.

N. Number of brothers/sisters?

5 brothers & 2 sisters & 2 very happy empty nesting parents

O. Oranges or Apples.

I throw both into the Vitamix together. I love oranges, but they’re so much work to eat. Apples are usually too sweet for me to eat an entire one, and I have to eat them in slices.

P. Phobias?

Okay, this is weird, I know, but I have this very real phobia that if I leave the visor down while driving I will get into an accident and it will go through my forehead. So unless it’s ABSOLUTELY necessary that I need it to block out the sun, that sucker stays in the up position at all times, and I will reach over to the passenger side and put that one up, too, if I think you don’t need it.

Q. Quotes?

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us” (Ralph Waldo Emerson).

R. Reasons to smile?

“Smiling is my favorite!” – Buddy the Elf

What’s NOT to smile about?

S. Season of choice?

I love the transition between all four seasons; with the onset of each new season I am reminded how happy and grateful I am to live in such a beautiful world. Although I will say that once I’ve worn my sweaters and boots through one time each, I’m ready for spring to come again.

T. Tag 5 People.  

I mostly follow food bloggers, so I’m going to refrain from this one. However, if you’re a blogger, please feel free to participate. :) And if you choose to participate, simply copy and paste the questions, answer them and then link up with Elaine at the Miss Elaine-ous Life or Jennifer at Jennifer P. Williams.

U. Unknown fact about me?

When I was in the 4th or 5th grade, our class put on a really big production having something to do with The Star Spangled Banner and its history. I was cast as the understudy to Teresa Cantler, who was playing the lead role of Frances Scott Key. I wanted nothing more than to have the lead role, and so I actually prayed that some non life-threatening calamity would remove Teresa as my obstacle to stardom. Much to my horror, Teresa got sick and was unable to perform and I took her place on stage. I’m really sorry about that, Teresa.

V. Vegetable?

Asparagus – and one of my favorite ways to prepare it is listed under Vegetable Medley on YumVeg!

W. Worst habit?

I’m a grammar Nazi. I can’t help myself. The worst is when I don’t know you and I still correct you. Or I feel compelled to call a business whose signage has grammatical errors. Yup. Done it more than once. But I don’t see this so much as a “bad habit,” as a public service.

X. Xray or Ultrasound?

What does this even mean? Yes, I’ve had both. More than once. For various reasons.

Y. Your favorite food?

Hmmmm. I love all sorts of foods. Let’s go with cuisines – Vietnamese and Thai are two personal favorites.

Z. Zodiac sign?

Aries.

“The Ram’s color is bright red, a sure sign of the fire that breathes within. . . . The great strength of the Aries-born is in their initiative, courage and determination. These folks love to get things going and are fearless along the way. Their dynamism and competitive spirit add considerably to any of their endeavors.”

 

*star

Bethany Novak, Matteson Fields & Arminda anxious for the screening!

Bethany Novak, Matteson Fields & Arminda anxious for the 2012 screening!

Maybe it’s the living room full of teenagers downstairs right now storyboarding their own short film, or maybe it’s the fact that this year’s 48 Hour Film Project is a mere weeks away and I’m feeling all weepy because I won’t be able to participate (sniff sniff) for the first time in four years, or maybe it’s because I’m excited at the prospect of working with my friend Steve on a film later this year.

No matter.

I love working in film and our 2012 48 Hour Film Project entry was a doozy. We selected Dark Comedy as our genre, and here were the elements to be included for qualification:

Genre: Dark Comedy
Character: Chuck Thompson, Tattoo Artist
Prop: Flowers
Line: “Give me the bad news.”

You remember how it works from reading all about it from my 2010 48 Hours experience! We had a lot of fun that year with the sci-fi genre.

But just as a refresher, you and your team have exactly (not one minute more) 48 hours to write, film, edit and render a short film. It’s intense. And a heck of a lot of fun.

An original That’s A Big Twinkie production for your enjoyment:

Chuck panics when a train-wreck pop star dies in his shop.

*star – 48 Hour Film Project, Greensboro 2012 – That’s a Big Twinkie from Evan Pease on Vimeo.

What Language Barrier?

uno-game-logoI’ve referred to my dear friend Mariam multiple times:

  1. We reconnected through Facebook.
  2. During a neighborhood stroll together we focused on some simple joys.
  3. Once while sunbathing I contemplated the shortness of life.
  4. Mariam asked me for this list because we both love to read.

Not surprisingly, when my daughter and I get an opportunity to run up the road five hours for a visit, we do. And as is often the happy case, there were other house guests besides ourselves. Along with those other house guests (almost) always comes a language barrier.

I don’t speak Persian.

Not to be outdone by a little Farsi, and very much interested in connecting with any friends of Mariam’s, we walked down to Barnes and Noble, because my daughter and I love games. A lot. We have an entire shelving unit dedicated just to games! Pass the Pigs, anyone?

Our game of choice: UNO. After making our purchase (with a complimentary discount given at the register because my daughter was wearing a Dr. Who t-shirt), we headed back to Mariam’s for some fun. I can’t recall the last time I enjoyed a game of UNO nearly as much as I enjoyed the multiple rounds the four of us played together that night.

unocircleWe laughed like school girls sipping cups of hot tea and devouring slices of Mariam’s zucchini bread and played round after round after round of UNO, never once stopping to wonder what the other person was thinking or feeling or saying because suddenly there was no Farsi. There was no English. There were simply hands of cards with bright colors and numbers and symbols and a competitive drive to win the next round!

Our game of UNO did more than provide a little entertainment for an evening; it built a bridge between two cultures, as four women shared the language of laughter.

 

Cover: I Feel Pretty/Unpretty Mashup featuring Jessica Schneider & Lindsay Thurman

IMG_6280Sometimes gifts get delivered later than on time, but they get given, and that’s worth a lot.

I asked my daughter for one thing for Christmas: a video recording of the song you’re about to watch. The video gift was finally given (four months after Christmas), and I’m so happy to finally share what would have been in my 2012 end-of-the-year post, if I’d had a video to use at that time. So, you’re getting it now, which is definitely better than not at all.

This mashup was originally performed on an episode of Glee, season 2. Lindsay & Jessica decided to learn it and then performed it for a school talent show in December. They received a rousing ovation. Please use the comments section to tell them what you think!

And in case you’re wondering how 2012 turned out for us (since you never got a post updating you on our very exciting lives), thank you for asking; it was a lovely year.