In Defense of Letters

Poor, much maligned, “F.” So many people turned to my post yesterday thinking that it would about a much different “F” kind of day, only to find fun, fairies, and frolicking.

What did F ever do to deserve such a reputation? Is it because the lowest letter grade we can get is an F? or because, by simply attaching “-word” to follow a letter that letter becomes politicized at the very least and often turns into something negative? Our poor letters are taking a trampling in recent times.

  • The F-word or the F-bomb: Self-explanatory, but has definitely led to the corruption of poor innocent F
  • The L-word: a fabulous show, a shocking revelation, a word people are afraid to say to one another (love, silly–not lesbian). Neither of those words (love or lesbian) should be that terrifying or sinister, but . . .
  • The N-word: Now, granted, I don’t think this word should or needs to be said out loud, but I shared in a serious post in the past about how complex that word really is, because of its historical context as well as the way it is used at present.
  • Recently T-words and H-words have been trampled upon completely. I see you all scratching your head and thinking, what is she talking about? But, you have to admit that TRUTH has become twisted and HONESTY  has entered the realm of fantasy.
  • A poor little M-word has become a political hot-potato. As has an R-word, especially for women and G-words. (Translation: Marriage, Rights, and Gays)
  • The most recent attack on letters has, of course, been made on PBS, Oh, the humanity! (Or would that be Muppetity!)

I’m begging you people, stand up for the rights of letters to be well-rounded and represent all of their possible meanings rather than be defined by only one facet of their personalities. Let them embrace their multiple personalities and stand for the true power and variety of language.

Let F Stand for Freedom!


Seasonal Blogging Disorder

I don’t know about you, but I am finding it difficult to blog lately. I’m not just talking about difficulty finding things to write about, although that is true as well. I don’t even feel like reading any of the fabulous blogs that I follow. Perhaps I have been doing it too long, or the heat of the summer has completely fried my brain making me unable to focus on the wit and witticism of my favorite bloggers. When I do read, I struggle to make any kind of intelligible comment. I find myself surfing through blog posts without commitment, or simply erasing them from my inbox blaming it on a weak internet connection which cuts into my time online. (To be fair to myself, I do have spotty internet on the lot and have to seek  alternative locations to get any real work done.)

This sun is from Okoboji Summer Theatre (my summer “home”) so I thought I would borrow it to represent the heat (as well as the drama) that has fried my brain.

I am a summer blogging slacker.Perhaps the amount of ice cream I have been eating to combat the oppressive summer heat has seeped into my brain and turned it into a receptacle of pure sugar and fat, incapable of actually communicating in an intelligible way.

Not that I pay attention to stats (HA!) but it does seem that overall the summer months include a drop of readership. Then again, I haven’t been publishing as many blogs and perhaps my quality has dropped as of late, so I could simply have lost readers. Is this lag a result of the season or a reflection on me and my blog?

It also seems that more of my blogging buddies have disappeared this summer. Perhaps they are simply out enjoying life, soaking in the heat of the sun or relaxing on a cool boat. Many of them have been taking vacations in exotic locations and/or having fabulous staycations in the comfort of their own homes and gardens.

So perhaps the laziness of blogging is simply a symptom of summer.

It’s easier to laze around than blog.

I hope that if and when the weather ever cools, turning toward my favorite time of year (the fall) I will overcome this sluggishness and find my way back to reading, writing, and commenting with enthusiasm and verve.

My apologies to all of you zillions of people who have noticed my lackadaisical approach to blogging this summer. (Who am I kidding, I’m sure many of you are thinking “Lisa who? Didn’t even miss her.”) Also, some of you might have noticed and been offended by my removal of the Blogs I Follow section. I found that it was a mess, as people’s blogs change , so I decided that for the time being I would remove it and make every effort to mention wonderful blogs within the bodies of my posts.

Of course, that requires reading more blogs and writing more posts. Sigh.

Does anyone else suffer from Seasonal Blogging Disorder? Is there a cure?

From Nothing to Chaos

Yesterday I broke my long silence with silliness, and today I face the complete opposite problem–a mind so full of ideas that I have too much to say. So you get the honor (or the torturous task) of following the jumble in my mind as I try to get control over the chaos.

Fiction Fever

My post yesterday enabled me to focus a little. I spent the rest of the morning at one of my local coffee shop offices pounding out a rough draft of chapter one of one of my writing projects. You will be happy to know (or completely disinterested) that I remembered to pee when a kind woman shared the wall outlet near me so I felt comfortable asking her to watch my stuff. 😉

As some of you may recall, I am currently enrolled in a course to help me write this book, because I felt that having deadlines and an “editor” to offer guidance would motivate me more. In some ways it works, but in some ways it doesn’t as the gaps between sending my assignments and receiving feedback leave me hanging in the “should I move forward or wait” mode of writing. These gaps are made a little longer by the fact that the person I am working with does not accept assignments via e-mail. I’ve dealt with it by writing random scenes or simply brainstorming more about the story, and reading a lot of the course material. When I received feedback two days ago about my plot summary, I was excited to dive in. I was encouraged by the feedback, where he raised some interesting questions that I hadn’t thought of yet; the answers of which will only strengthen the novel (I hope).

So, loaded down with my course manual and computer, I headed out, intending to read and write. Of course, I then left my course manual in the car and had already set up the computer and settled down with my drink, so I decided to write first, read later. The end result of that process was interesting, in that I got a “shitty” first draft down, then read about what makes a strong first chapter, and had lightbulbs go off in my head. “Oh, you better fix that! You made that mistake. Go back and make it better.”

These thoughts wandered through my brain last night, to the extent that I grabbed a printout of my draft and started scratching down notes as I waited for Sarah to get ready for school. I think I’m on the way to something decent, or at least I am tricking myself into believing it.

Kitchen Disasters

I confess, I do not like to cook. It’s not that I can’t, I actually make some decent dishes, but I don’t like to cook especially when it is just for two or three people. Nathan likes to cook, so for the most part he does the cooking and I keep the house in some sort of organized state.

Of course, that posed a challenge when he left Sarah and I for a month on our own as he went off to his summer job adventures and Sarah still had school. Suddenly I am the one who has to figure out dinner.

We’ve done okay. I’ve cooked a few meals. We’ve had a few breakfasts for dinners (love that). We’ve gone out a couple of times. But, I have discovered two scary facts about me and the kitchen:

  1. My Rice Cooker Hates Me! I love rice cookers. I have used them since I lived in Japan, where I would cook up a batch of rice that would last me for days. I mixed it with protein (tuna or some other fish) and called it many a meal. So, I thought, I can make rice and that will be good. But no! For whatever reason this rice cooker refuses to behave like rice cookers should. I know the rice to water ratio. I know how to cook rice in a cooker. So why do I keep ending up with a crunchy layer of overcooked rice on the bottom with good rice on top? Is this kitchen karma?
  2. I Need an Air Popper! On my second weekend of being completely alone I decided I would watch something I enjoyed and treat myself to some popcorn. What I didn’t realize is that I don’t know how to pop popcorn on the stove. One smoke alarm and destroyed pot later, I recognize that I either need my old air popper or microwave popcorn. I also have to go buy a new pot.

My popcorn did not look like this.

NPR Thoughts and Career Dreams

I’ve also been doing a lot of serious thinking and self-reflection over the past few weeks, which I believe has caused both the silence and the chaos. I am participating in a webinar sponsored by my college alumnae association on changing careers, which has made me reflect a lot on where my life is heading. Last week we were “assigned” an assessment worksheet to help us figure out what our ideal work environment/dream job might be. The assessment included some interesting questions, and I surprised myself with some of the answers. One of the ones that intrigued me was this:

As I was driving in horrible traffic to get to an unpleasant (lady parts) follow-up doctor’s appointment, I heard some fascinating interviews on NPR:

  • discussions about recent conflicts which are both depressing and fascinating
  • a discussion about a book called The End of War, which I now need to read. The interview made me think about whether or not I believed it was possible to end conflict, and what it would take.
  • an interview with a Minister as she reflected on Obama’s presidency and racial issues in the USA.
  • a report on Aung San Suu Kyi, who fascinates me as a woman who has fought oppression and proven the power of peaceful resistance

As I listened to each story, I thought I want to know more about that. I want to sit and talk intelligently with interesting people. I want to write about the stories of this world. I want to work for NPR!

English: Aung San Suu Kyi meets with crowd aft...

English: Aung San Suu Kyi meets with crowd after house arrest lift on 14 November 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Mind in Chaos

There you have it, a sampling of the chaos going on in my mind these days. I’m not sure which is better, silence or noise.

Sometimes I Forget to Pee

Do you ever get so absorbed in what you are doing that you completely forget your bodily functions? Well, maybe not forget so much as ignore them until all of a sudden you realize that your bladder is about to explode and you may not make it to the bathroom.

I love it when that happens. 😉

Seriously, I love when I am so involved in writing or creating that time simply passes. Yesterday, in an attempt at avoiding the terrifying giant black ants that are threatening to carry me away in my sleep, I set out on a mission which would include buying some sweet seduction to rid myself of these scary monsters. I brought my computer along, and decided to work on my new blog as well as write yesterday’s post and maybe do a little work on my novel before facing the stores. I headed to B&N,  bought myself a large iced chai latte (as it was hot and steamy here yesterday) plugged myself in, and leaped into action.

I wrote a little. Took a sip. Wrote a little. Drank some more. Etc. I finished my drink, and filled the icy cup with water, and stayed focused. Time passed. Write. Drink. Write. Drink. Write, write, write.

Eventually, I actually recognized that a bathroom trip was necessary. After creating a little room, I recognized I was hungry so I bought a whole grain bagel, filled my cup with more water and continued to work.

Finally, I reached the point where I knew I had to stop. Words were no longer making sense, and the clock was slowly ticking toward the time when I had to be home from all errands to meet Sarah’s bus.  I packed up my computer and other things, stood up and said to myself  “Ah! I really have to pee! NOW!”

Doing an internal potty dance, I tried to gracefully rush across the store praying that there would be an open stall. Luckily there was, and the release of Niagara Falls pointed out that perhaps I should pay a little more attention to my bodily functions when I am writing.

Especially, when this is my constant companion:

Fill this baby with ice and water drink and repeat. You can never have enough water. (Of course, some people would rather fill it with beer I suppose, it comes with its own bottle opener attached)

I love getting lost in projects and having time fly. I just wish that if I have to forget a bodily function, I’d forget to eat instead. 😉

Squished Breasts, Technology, and Other Medical Mysteries

The arrow on this mammogram points to a small ...

The arrow on this mammogram points to a small cancerous lesion. A lesion is an area of abnormal tissue change (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I just returned from my yearly moments of torture, that  I refer to as getting my boobs squished, but more academically minded folk would call a mammogram.

Boy was it fun.

Actually, though, while not the most comfortable experience of my life,  I have to say that the worst part has nothing to do with getting your flesh and muscles smooshed between two plates while you stand in a contorted position and try to fantasize that you are taking beauty shots. No, that wasn’t the worst part. The worst part comes from the fact that I moved last summer.

What? Confused readers everywhere (well the few of you who are reading).

As you know, when you move, especially from one state to another you must find new medical care. First, however, you have to wait the endless amounts of time before your full medical benefits kick in (if you even have medical insurance) then you have to go through the torture of finding a doctor when you have no clue. I kept putting it off for a couple of reasons, one laziness, and the other that I’ve had to leave two wonderful doctors in the past two years and I just didn’t want to go through it again. To be fair, the first one that I left passed away just before we moved from Colorado, which meant I would have had to choose a new one anyway. The second fabulous doctor quit the practice just after I moved from Kansas, which means the same thing. Maybe I’m bad luck on doctors.

Anyway, I finally realized that preventive medicine was the better way to go, and got myself together to get a doctor. Of course, there was only one accepting patients in my area. One, not so exciting, kind of personality-less doctor. I’m giving her a chance. Maybe she will warm up, but meanwhile that’s what I got.

In preparation for my first visit I had contacted the prior medical group hoping to be able to walk in carrying my complete medical history and hand it over.

“Can I please have my medical records sent to me?”

“No, we can only send them to your doctor after they have you sign a release.”


I didn’t feel like fighting that battle, so I gave in and waited until my first appointment and sent away for records. That made for an exciting appointment with Dr. Personable.

“I don’t have any records of you.”

“No, I have to have them sent.”

“Well, what medications were you on?”

“I can tell you a few.”

“Why were you on those ones? They don’t help cholesterol or blood pressure?”

“Um, because that’s what my doctor told me to take.”

“Well, what do you want to do now?”

Ugh! This is part of my problem with this particular doctor. If I knew how to treat myself, I would, but she’s supposed to be the expert. In my opinion, she should lay out my options and then help me make decisions, not ask me to tell her what to do. I’ve seen her twice now . . . we shall see if we go past a third visit.

On the second visit, she had my records, but not all of them. No sign of my immunization record. Luckily I have that (current as far as I know) and will bring it to them eventually, or send it. But seriously, where the hell are they? Supposedly Kansas didn’t have them either. So then why didn’t Colorado send them? When all medical records have been put into a computer, why are mine so incomplete?

Ok, next visit involved getting my vision checked. True, I didn’t have those records sent (different doctor, and in Colorado) but I wasn’t concerned. I didn’t think there were any major things that they couldn’t discover simply by doing the exam.

Oh how wrong I was.

See I have a Nevus inside my eye. What’s a Nevus? According to Wordnik it’s :

“n. A congenital growth or mark on the skin, such as a mole or birthmark.”

Translation, I have freckle like birthmark inside my eye. Sarah has a freckle that you can see on her eye.

It’s a freckle.

Anyway, in Colorado, my fabulous eye doctor had the technology to take pictures of the inside of my eyes to look at the size and the shape of the nevus, as well as my general eye health. For that reason, I haven’t had to have my eyes dilated in years.  When I went to get my eyes checked, I assumed that would be the case here, but of course I was wrong.  And, not being a medical professional, I didn’t know to mention the nevus early in the appointment. After a severe scolding from Dr. Lackofpersonality #2, I was informed that I have to come back (with an expensive copay this time) and be dilated because “now that he knows, he has to check it.”

That fun happens tomorrow.

Next, of course, was the fun female examination I discussed in “Things I Don’t Understand”. At least there I connected with a fabulous Nurse Practitioner, and solved the mystery of my past history by simply choosing (under her guidance) to move on and let it go.

Ah the relief.

Back to today’s misadventures in Medical history. I walked in thinking there should be no problem, they sent my records. Well, yes, they sent my records. They sent the analysis of the records. They DID NOT send the films. No pictures. Nada.

“Do you have them?”

“No, they wouldn’t give them to me.”

“They might not look at the new pictures without them. We’ll have to send for them again.”


One of the worst things is waiting for the results of a mammogram. Even though there’s no family history of breast cancer, it looms as a possibility in every women’s mind. But, because of the incompetence of medical records and a confusing inability for one system to talk to another, I have to wait longer than the average time to find out my results.

There are a couple of good things about this now. I finally have access to my own medical records, via technology. So if we find ourselves moving again it shouldn’t be so hard. I also have finally caught up to myself in terms of proactive medical treatment.

Except for the dentist.


Crashing the Party: I Want My Peanut Butter Cups!

I felt like I had been thrown into another dimension this morning when post after post of my favorite bloggers appeared titled “Better Living Through Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.”

I bopped over to the Facebook Group, “We Blog . . . A Blogging Community” and asked “Am I missing something? Why is everybody writing about Peanut Butter Cups today? I feel like I was never let into a secret club.”

Suddenly, I flashed back to Junior High School. Early summer, I am on a bike ride with a friend from my neighborhood. She went to a different school than I did, because I was in the “Gifted program” and had to be shipped off across town. My bike was my only access to speed, as my prowess in athletics included mediocrity in gymnastics and good form swimming the butterfly. So I rode myhand-me-down  yellow 5-speed Schwinn feeling joy and freedom, although I still struggled to keep up with some of the faster riders.

[I’m trying to insert a picture of the actual bike here, but WP is acting up. The bike, after sitting for centuries in my parent’s garage, now waits to be ridden by my daughter. Those bikes were mean to last. How cool is that?]

The ride was going well until I passed a friend’s house, someone who had been my friend forever and who I did go to school with. Suddenly I noticed kids from class hanging around on her lawn, and heard splashing and laughter coming from her back yard. A pool party. A birthday party. And I wasn’t invited.

Brian, the cute boy who I had a crush on, said, “Hi Lisa! Aren’t you coming to the party?”

We rode away quickly, but my anger and sadness grew. I couldn’t understand. I insisted we return, and I rang the doorbell.

Jenni came out, looking rather uncomfortable.

“Thanks for the invite, Jenni,” I said, showing a brazenness I didn’t know I had.

“I didn’t think you would want to come. I thought we were fighting.”

I wracked my brains, search for a fight I couldn’t recall. We had a slight disagreement when she told me she had voted for the popular girl instead of me for Vice President, and gave me some lame excuses. Of course I was upset, but deep down I understood. I knew it was a popularity contest and I didn’t have a chance.

“I wasn’t angry then,” I said. “But now . . . ” I rode away quickly before the tears could embarrass me anymore. [There was probably more conversation, but I’m telling this story so I get to write it my way ;). We did eventually make up]

So here I am, many, many, many years later standing up and claiming my right to join the party! I will not stand salivating by while the cool kids taunt and tantalize me with their decadent depictions of rich milk chocolate merging with creamy peanut butter. Oh no! I hereby claim my Reese’s Peanut Butter cup and the better life that goes with it!

Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

[As I am too lazy to link to all the participants in the secret club, I will link to this fabulous poem by k8edid, and from there you can find your way to the other posts. But be warned! You will soon find yourself grasping the car keys and racing toward the nearest store to buy out their secret stash of chocolate and peanut butter goodness.]

Lisa Head’s to the Big City, A Rebus

Tomorrow I will get on a 

and head back to

I will meet my friend

who is beautiful inside and out.

teaches for

and asked me to come be a guest lecturer in her class.

What that really means is that I will be my normal, goofy self.

I hope she knows what to expect.

In addition to the

(where the students will be much older)

I get to enjoy a girl’s weekend in

which will include:


although I’m sure nothing will make me look as beautiful as

We will also attend a performance of THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF HEDDA GABLER at

which I am very excited about.

According to

there are more adventures in store as well.

So if you don’t hear from me for a few days,

Just know that I am out and about with a huge

on my face.

Seeking Sass and Style

Something strange is happening to me.

Perhaps it is because I just turned 43, leaving me safely ensconced in (early) middle age.

Perhaps it is the fact that I only have to get dressed decently once a week for the class I teach at a University. Otherwise my normal look involves the least dirty comfy clothes.

Perhaps it is the recent decision my hair has made to be the bane of my existence. It has embraced frizz as a permanent state of being, and has begun a subtle sneak attack introducing new white strands when I least expect it. I admit, I tried to conquer that through color. My first attempt (over a month ago) looked great, but didn’t last long. In a battle against yesterday’s monster, Nathan helped me with my second attempt yesterday.

I like the results as far as color goes, but I have to do something with style.

Perhaps it is simply the “in” colors this season, bright pinks and corals that I have always loved.

Suddenly, I have started thinking about style. Suddenly I find myself seeking sassiness.

My new sassy sandals.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

The sandals are evidence that something has taken over my brain. Despite my 5 foot tall frame, I live in flats and sneakers, or the occasional 1 inch heeled cowboy boot.  But yesterday,  wedges called to me, saying “We are sassy and you want us!”  I tried many on, but none of them seemed to work until I put on this pair.

“Wow!” Nathan said.

Now I own  the sassiness.

Of course, being the fashion-notta that I am, I have to practice walking in these babies before I take them out in public. So I decided that I would walk around the house with them a little each day, figuring it might even help my legs get into shape a little.  Yesterday, I felt the beginnings of a blister forming, so I decided to protect my feet for this mornings sassy workout.

Still stylish in a Lisa's style way.

Nathan insisted on taking a picture, saying “you might want to blog about this.” So blame him for the craziness of this post.

Of course, once I started thinking about sass and style, I couldn’t stop. So I got dressed in one of my new purchases (made with birthday money last week). I can’t decide if I look:

a) matronly
b) like a maniac
or c) Sassy

All I know is I have to do something with my hair.


The Mysterious Stranger

I hesitated as I opened the door to the dimly lit coffee house, tucked in the basement of a building that showed the age and beauty of centuries. Would I come out of this meeting alive? Would I be able to get the information I so desperately needed without revealing too much to this mysterious person known in spy circles only as The Brave One.

I blinked, hoping my eyes would adjust to the dark interior. Despite the ban on smoking, the atmosphere felt thick with redolent smoke of mysterious meetings from long ago. This place had always been a location for secret trysts and rendezvous, for sharing information that can only be whispered in safe ears.

It had not changed. Lit only by a series of beautiful ceiling lamps that illuminated their intricate designs and dangling jewels more than the room or the people, one would only be able to see one’s immediate neighbors in booths built with high backs  at angles that you had to make an effort to see anyone else in this tiny space. It was built to keep secrets safe.

I followed instructions, heading to the back in a dark corner tucked away for extra protection. I checked my hidden pocket for my extra protection, not knowing what I would find. Nobody would ever revealed any information about The Brave One, so I did not know what to expect. Anyone who would have given even a hint at who The Brave One was, disappeared never to be heard from again.

I admit, I was afraid. But the information I needed was too important.

The light hanging over The Brave One’s booth was different from the others. The delicate beauty of the other fixtures added a touch of romance to the scene, however this light spoke only of danger, of sharp knives, of death.

Despite the small space, the distance between the door and that mysterious booth seemed to grow longer, as fear weighed down my footsteps. Finally, however, I reached the gaping maw of the booth, and fell under the feeble circle of doomed light, only to discover . . . 

LOL, I can’t go on. This little jaunt into spy/action fiction is brought to you by the fact that I met the fabulous Dory from If I Were Brave yesterday for lunch, and neither of us turned out to be psycho killers. Following a great discussion, we moved over to an adorable coffee shop/bar (that is not in the basement of an old building) that had this incredible light fixtures hanging all around.

“How would you even begin to describe those?” Dory asked.

“I have no idea,” I said. “But we should try.” Now obviously, I could not describe them with any specific detail, but they did suggest an atmosphere of sorts, leading to this little foray into silliness.

Silly things happen when blogging buddies meet.

Monkey at the Keyboard

Put a monkey at the keyboard,
some people say
and with infinite random actions
she’ll write a Shakespearian play.

The monkey at my keyboard
is in control today
pulling arbitrary words
out of a virtual buffet.

Words float around in a lively dance
swirling in her head
keeping her up at night
when she lies in bed.

But when she tries to capture them
and lay them on the page
they skip and jump with mocking laughs
putting poor monkey in a rage.

Her fingers fly upon the keys
because she has to try
while flitting through linguistic gems
falling from the sky.

English: colored monkey

Image via Wikipedia

Will she find the brilliance?
Will she write her best?
Or would it better
to let her mind and fingers  rest?

Poor monkey at the keyboard
cannot find her way
perhaps a swing among the trees
will give her a better day.

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