Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 in Review

Another year comes to a close and I can’t say that I’ll be sorry to see this one go. I know for many people it was one they would love to turn from and never look back on. Kind of like Lots wife looking back on Sodom and Gomorrah then turning into a pillar of salt but for me I’m thinking about it more in terms of Medusa. Maybe if I don’t look it straight in the eye I won’t turn to stone.  It had its ups and downs much like any other year but this one apparently had a lesson for me to learn. I got the message but I think it is in Greek and I am still unsure of the lesson. I may never know what the lesson was and I think I might be ok with that or at the very least come to terms with it.

This is the year that joblessness came for me. It didn’t just come for me it bitched slapped me upside of the head. Bastard. This has been a first for me. My first job was as a babysitter at the age of 11. My brother and I were also entrepreneurs growing up. We used to go crickin’ and catch crawfish so sell to our neighbor to give to his coon dogs during training. We also had a couple of rabbits and would sell their poop to people for their gardens. Oh yeah, we were slick. I baby sat all through high school then went to work at a camp during the summers. Once I got to college I worked two jobs while in school and worked at the camp in the summers. Then I became a nanny…well, you get the idea. I have always worked. Always.

I have now been out of work for 9 months. Which I have to tell you is totally sucktastic. It isn’t for the lack of trying to find another job. I have now sent out 33 resumes (give or take one or two). The continued lack of response from prospective employers is totally disheartening. This hard to explain but it is really hard on your self esteem. I have tried to explain it a couple of times and haven’t really done a good job. Losing your job (having it taken from you) and not being able to find another job right away just does something to you. I mean, do I smell? Did I offend? Do I have a booger hanging out of my nose? I have also tried to explain how I feel like I am just on vacation from my job. It is like I will be going back to work at anytime and I have been just playing. I know this feeling will go away once I have another job. I just kind of feel like I am in my own never ending Groundhog’s Day and am waiting to wake up to a different day.

My family also lost my cousin Eddie John this past month. It has been super hard on my Mom who is the youngest of 9 children and because of this has had to see a lot of her family go before her. My cousin, Nettie, (one of Eddie John’s girls) is getting “married” in a couple of weeks but when Eddie John was in the hospital and they knew it wouldn’t be much longer Nettie and her fiancée brought their priest to the hospital and got married in front of her dad. The doctors cut back a bit on his morphine so that he would be aware of the ceremony. He passed away a couple of days later.

Good parts of 2011 have been Virginia and this house. Being in a different place while I recover from the last 5 years (well, 3 really) has been unbelievably great. Getting to reconnect with old friends has been amazing. Angus and Ophelia have been pretty happy having me around all the time. Sitting on a porch swing reading a book and drinking lemonade is my kind of happy.

Maybe I should have gone to the store and gotten some good luck foods. Black Eyed Peas, Lentils, Cabbage, Doughnuts…I could use all the help I can get.

So, 2011, I wish you farewell. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Congress Can Kiss My...

Dear Congress,

I hope that as you sit in your warm house that is paid for off the backs of hard working Americans that you are enjoying the company of your camera ready family, your ostentatiously decorated home, and your snifter of 80 year old brandy that you, at the very LEAST, suffer some sort of twinge of conscience at the mess you left for Americans during this holiday season. American’s who can barely afford to put food on their tables let alone buy gifts for their families.

Just to remind you, that as you play out an old spaghetti western by staging a standoff in the middle of America’s dusty streets while staring each other in the eye at high noon, myself and millions of Americans  are out of work. Americans who are quite eager to work, actually, we WANT to work. Americans, who would be more than happy to be blessed with a simple cup of hot chocolate, a Charlie Brown tree, and give their children at least one present a piece, but please don’t worry about us…we are ONLY the people that voted you into office. I guess we are of no consequence to you.

What really does my head in is the fact that we as Americans voted you into office. We voted you in on promises that you made and that we so naively believed. You like to describe yourselves as “civil servants” or at least that is what you say during an election year, however, the only people I see you serving are yourselves. I actually have wanted to believe in our system but apparently I am gullible enough to have fallen for something that has been nothing but an elaborate game of smoke and mirrors. Does anyone have a bridge in Brooklyn that they want to sell me?

No wonder Americans are disenfranchised with their government. You all sit in your posh offices with your errand runners and your “perks” that you get from big companies trying to look like they aren’t buying your backing. Come on, really?!?!?! Golf trips on private jets?!?!?!?! And you wonder why people took to the streets in protest. What a slap in the face!! It is the modern day “let them eat cake.”

My wish and hope for you this holiday season is that the over abundance of food that you are going to consume offers you not only no feeling of fullness but also gives you indigestion. After that, I hope you can’t find any Tums or Pepto-Bismol.  I hope the sleep that you get is hard won, offers you no real feeling of restfulness, and is plagued by nightmares. My wish for you is that you are blessed with whiny children who suffer from a grand sense of entitlement.  

So as Christmas rapidly approaches and I have to borrow money from my family for gas just so I can spend Christmas with them you will excuse me my anger and disgust that you have left Americans hanging with a dark cloud over their holiday. And you will understand that  I cannot say that I wish you a Merry Christmas, a blessed Hanukkah, and/or the Happiest of Holidays because I would be lying, however, I do wish it for my fellow Americans who are left to wonder what awaits us on January 1.

Kathi Seymour

Monday, December 19, 2011

“To Affirm is to Make Firm”

This particular fortune cookie fortune makes me chuckle (chortle if you will), especially when I add the social game phrase “in bed.” Admit it, you giggled too…or at the very least, smiled. I will try not to let my mind slip into the gutter, where it spends much of its time…and it is never alone (I won’t name name’s but you know who you are). After thinking about what this fortune was actually saying and also putting it into a search engine I realized what it was telling me…and it didn’t have anything to do with staying in bed.

The definition of “affirm” is “to declare to be true; assert positively.” It is said that repeating affirmations can be a pretty powerful brain training technique. I’m guessing this could or would be considered a mantra. To affirm something is to make it firm. This means you are making your desired ambition or goal real. You are making positive statements or affirmations about your end goal. These mantras are repeated over and over again which in turn can train the subconscious mind into finding ways to make your goals become real.

One website I visited had 7 rules to affirming your life: use present tense, be positive, be specific, short & easy, include feelings and strong desire, repeat anytime, anywhere, rinse and repeat. Ok, so it really didn’t say anything about rinsing but my mind sidetracked itself. The last one actually said “You may repeat affirmations aloud, mentally, or by writing them down.” That particular rule reminded me of my impressionable preteen and teen age years. Do you remember when you would have a crush on someone and you would write their name with yours? It could have been “Kathi & Todd”, “Kathi loves Todd”, “Todd loves Kathi”, or “Kathi & Todd 4ever”. Or you would write your name like you were married to that other person (boys may or may not have done this). Example: “Katherine Black”. You would copy this endlessly on your notebook. Every chance you got you would write it over and over and over and over again. I’m so glad this particular exercise in affirming to make firm didn’t work. One…I could have been branded a stalker if my subconscious mind worked to make it come true and Two…it could have worked and I would have ended up with a moniker like “Katherine Butts” (names have been changed to protect the innocence).

I think I will keep this fortune focused on my current state of joblessness. My desire to have a job is strong and my will is most willing, just ask it. It isn’t as if I am not trying…because I am. I have sent out 30 resumes/applications give or take one or two. I have to keep track of them so that the unemployment agency can verify. So, here it goes…”I will find a job in the very near future. It will be a job that compliments my abilities and allows me to still have a life. My employers will be kind and not shady. They will value me as an employee and never take me for granted. They will not ask me to lie or withhold information from customers.” CRAP! That is too long isn’t it? Ok, ok, how about this…”JOB NOW”.

While writing this blog entry I realized that the name of my blog is actually an exercise in affirming to make firm. I am attempting to write myself to the right side of happy. So every time I submit a new entry it is like affirming my firmness in being firm about my intent to be happy. Well, something like that anyway.

Happy side of write…thanks Yoda!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Towers of Power

This may or may not be a surprise to people but I love shoes. Ok, so this isn’t a surprise to my really good friends. However, to people that only know me on the surface or have made a snap judgment of me by my tomboyish attire would be surprised that I have a thing for Steve Madden, Nine West, Chinese Laundry, and to many others to name. I have drooled over Manolo Blahnik all the while knowing that I will never own a pair, like ever. This is THE thing that I can relate to with Sarah Jessica Parker’s character Carrie Bradshaw in Sex in the City. Shoes!!! I have witnessed the parting of the masses, a light shining down on the perfect pair of shoes, the angels singing, and me saying “Hello lover.”

Shoes are like the perfect thing to shop for when you are in a funk. You never have to worry about if they make your butt look big or them not fitting if you gained 10 pounds. The only time that you might not buy a particular pair of shoes is if you have cankles and in that case buy the shoes but just wear a really long pair of pants. I wonder if shoes with an ankle belt or strap would have the same slimming effect on your ankles that a belt does on your waist. You know, give the illusion of an ankle…something to ponder.  I have actually fallen in love with a pair of shoes, purchased them, and then bought an outfit to go with those shoes.

Shoes have never let me down even a particularly pesky pair in my possession that I know is going to kill me within a half an hour of putting them on. The torture of this particular pair is something I try to delay by not wearing them until I arrive at my destination. So I will wear flip flops or something like that in the truck until I arrive at the function. My Momma didn’t raise no dummy that’s for sure.

My particular shoe weakness is retro looking platforms with chunky heels. I loooovvvveeee them, like luvre. I love the old schoolness of them. I love how they make me feel taller, sexier, and they do something to my persona. We go together like Mickey and Mouse.

I have this pair of Steve Madden boots that are my most prized foot wear possession. I call them the “Towers of Power”. In them I am slimmer, taller, and ready to kick butt. The towers of power have traveled overseas with me. They are actually quite comfortable. They have been to see the statue of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens next to Hyde Park in London. They have been up and down High Street in Edinburgh, Scotland. They were with me while I drank tea at The Elephant House and gazed at Edinburgh Castle. They have walked the streets of Dublin, Ireland. They have walked the streets of New York City, Washington DC, and Naptown. I will mourn their loss when they finally meet their demise.

So, don’t judge me on my love of shoes or not until you have at least walked a mile in a pair of them.

Write side of happy with a really awesome pair of shoes.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Haiku! Bless You!

I dig haiku. It is a lovely combination of syllables…5, 7, and 5 to be exact. In theory, quite simple but letting go of a rhyming flow might throw one off. I always have to remind myself that it doesn't have to rhyme and actually it is even better when it doesn't. It is kind of random and I think that is what appeals to me.

My day in Haiku:

Migraine can piss off
The blinds stay down eyes covered
Head weighs like a ton

Walk the dog shades on
Pee poop times two here is food
Back to bed yes please

Words with Friends yes Kat
Yes qi is a word cheater
You suck scrabble cheat dot com

Excedrin my friend
Can kick in anytime please
Head may explode now

Park butt on the couch
Watch Charlie Brown Christmas SWEET
Pig-Pen made grunge cool

Post this mess to blog
PJ’s are calling my name
Yes bed here I come

Write Side of Happy

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

No Forwarding Address

According to Wikipedia,, and several other websites the custom of sending the Christmas card was started my Sir Henry Cole in 1843. Sir Henry was a government worker in the UK who was interested in how the “common folk” could use the new “public post office.” He commissioned his artist friend John Horsley to design the card. The three panel card sold for 1 shilling each which is 5 pence today. One of Sir Henry’s first cards was auctioned off in 2001. He had sent it to his grandmother. It sold for 22,500 pounds. All this time I thought it was Hallmark that did the deed.

For the past several years, I have not sent out Christmas cards. I kind of thought it was a waste of time, money, and trees. It felt like a compulsory act that loomed over your head every year. There was this rush to beat others in the sending of the cards. It was now an obligation and not because you really wanted too. You were keeping greeting card relationships going with people that you hadn’t seen in years and many you didn’t even really like. Let’s not forget when you would send a card to everyone in your address book and only get 10 back from so called friends.  For a while, before I stopped I did “weed” out some of the recipients. Actually, every other year or so I would go through my address book and erase people that I hadn’t received a card from in years or hadn’t talked to in just as long.

This year for Christmas I live in a normal size house that allows me to decorate more than I have in 5 years. I pulled out all of my boxed up Christmas decorations and rummaged through them. In those boxes I found 10 different styles of Christmas cards that were left over from years past. So, since I currently have soooooo much time on my hands I decided to send out the cards with the prerequisite that I, one…actually like the person(s) and two…that I have spoken to them in the last year.

While perusing through my address book and deciding who made the cut and who didn’t (a naughty or nice list if you will) I came upon a couple of names that made my stomach flip and my heart kind of constrict. They were the names of friends and family who have passed away. People, who just because they had died didn’t mean I could erase them from my book. These people are ones that I actually would love to send a card too. Oh hell, I’d much rather talk to them or in certain cases belly up to a bar with them and drink a few drinks.  I miss the hell out them.

So, the cards to the living are sent. To my friends who aren’t here, I still think of you and I smile.

Write side of happy…where ever they are.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Rite of Passage

In high school I was enrolled in the “academic” track of classes. This meant that the students in these classes were slightly accelerated to give us a boost going into college or if you were like a couple of us you thought that maybe you would get to slack off a little bit your senior year. At Smethport Area Junior Senior High School a rite of passage occurred in your junior year.  This was English with Coach Carl Defilippi aka Del. I was in his English 11A class. One of Del’s famous assignments was writing about an event that changed our lives. Here is my paper…unedited (mostly).  

Dreams Destroyed by Kathi Seymour, English 11A

“My whole outlook on life changed in just five minutes. My world as I knew it came crumbling down and my innocence ended. I was mortified that such a thing could be true. But it was. I could have died the day…the day I found out Santa Claus wasn’t real. From that day on, that whole year was a disaster.

From the time I can remember I was taught that Santa Claus was a jolly old man who liked the color red. He had a laugh that started from somewhere deep inside. When you heard his “HO HO HO”, you couldn’t help but join right in. I was always faithful to Kris Kringle. Every Christmas season I would beg my mom to bundle up my brother and me and take us to the mall. I just had to sit on Santa Claus’s lap. I was so glad to do it but my brother who was still young and at the impressionable age let out blood curdling howls that would freak-out the other “little kids. Me, I just sat back and told Santa everything I wanted. Then before I would leave I would give Santa a little kiss on the cheek and he would look into his stocking that was hanging on the side of his chair. Then to my delight he would pull out a sucker. I would be content the whole way home.

Then one awful Christmas Eve I went to bed after giving my mother a letter and asking her to put out cookies and milk. For the past two months I took great care to be a good kid even though the whole summer I was a royal terror. Mom had told me that Santa doesn’t cater to little girls who are bad. So I promptly turned my reign of terror into a sweet little kid that would do practically everything her parents asked.

After thinking how good I had been I climbed into bed. It didn’t take me very long to fall asleep. Then I was rudely awakened from my dreams of candy and presents by a loud thud that came from my parent’s room. I sleepily crawled out of bed and softly padded across my room. I got down on my hands and knees and looked underneath my door. My parents were carrying a big box. Then they started to go down the stairs, I hopped up and opened my door. I silently crept to the banister and look over the railing.

What I saw changed my life forever. Inside that box were presents. I felt like the weight of the world landed on my shoulders. Tears came to my eyes. My little pug nose started to run. I let out a small sob. I ran back to my room and shut my door. I curled myself up into a little ball. I cried myself to sleep. The next morning when we got up to open our presents I was still depressed. I could hardly open them. I looked at my parents with disgust. My whole life I had looked up to them. Now they had let me down. They had lied to me. I felt betrayed and I wasn’t going to be alone. The next day I told my best friend Diane that Santa wasn’t real. She had a fit and started to bawl. She wouldn’t believe me. When she got home she found out I was right. She was mad for a week.

The world seemed cold and heartless. All those wasted letters. Those prayers to God to let Santa bring me what I asked were all in vain. There was no such thing as little elves that had bells on their shoes. There was no Santa’s work shop. No hammers steadily pounding toys together. Rudolph may have had a red nose but that didn’t really matter since there were no reindeer.

From that Christmas on I was forced to face the cruel fact that fairy tales weren’t true. There were no cupids to shoot their arrows and make everybody fall in love. Leprechauns couldn’t be chased down and be made to tell where they had hidden their gold. The Easter Bunny didn’t hide those beautiful colored eggs. No Great Pumpkin would appear at Halloween. Even the marvelous Superman and Wonder Woman weren’t real.

Somehow I managed not to tell my parents that I knew that Santa was a myth. Gradually my anger wore off. I thought maybe my mom and dad wanted me to believe in him so I had something to aim for. Old Saint Nick brought joy and hope into people’s lives. The spirit of Christmas also manages to make people kind and caring. But when the next Christmas rolled around and my brother begged to go see Santa Claus I got mad. Here was my little brother heading for disaster and disappointment. Someone had to tell him. I, of course, nominated myself. So that night after we got back I visited my brother in his room. I made him sit on the bed while I paced the floor. Suddenly I felt all grown up and important. My innocent little brother had dreams and great expectations. I looked into my brother’s big brown eyes. I couldn’t tell him. Something just stopped me. Here was this little kid who was just as devoted to a man with a white beard as I once used to be. I told him I forgot what I was going to say then walked out. I wasn’t going to ruin his life but someone else could.

I got mad at my parents for doing this to me. I never wanted to grow up and face cold hard reality. Now I had to throw out all my fantasies of a magical world that was located at the end of a rainbow.

I have barely lived through this experience. Sometimes I feel that it might have been good. The fact that there is no Santa Claus makes people try to be kinder. I myself try to spread the joy and happiness that I know Kris Kringle would. Sometimes I try to wish real hard to bring Santa Claus to life for all the children whose hearts belong to him. For this reason alone I know Santa would be proud. Love you Santa. No matter what anyone says.”

Um, dramatic much? Well, it worked. I got an “A” and Del read my paper to the whole class. He said, and I quote, “Your essay is most enjoyable; you project a theme in a most refreshing manner here. Good job.” Later on it was modified slightly and was published in the town paper at Christmas time under the heading “Believing in the Spirit that is Santa Claus.”

Still one of my favorite memories of high school right behind Mr. Porter’s “Your darn tooting, we hate Rasputin.”

Christmas writes happy and sparkly.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Tea for an Elephant

Anyone that knows me even a wee bit knows that I heart Harry Potter…like a lot…like a lot a lot. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is now on my list of “go to” books. Also on that list are The Chronicles of Narnia, A Wrinkle in Time Series (or its proper name the “Time Quintet”), The Power of One, anything by Jane Austen, The Princess Bride, and a few others. See, I don’t mind rereading books that I love. It is like visiting an old friend. Books are a constant. The world that exists in them is always there when you pick them up. It’s one of the reasons I love the book The Neverending Story. I love the idea behind that. That the story still goes on after you close the book. You become the story within the story. That I can pick it back up and be flying on the back of Falkor fighting the Nothing. I am one of those quirky people that have read The Chronicles of Narnia in the order of publication and also in chronological order. I own three separate copies of those books. I’m such a dork.
When it comes to Harry Potter every time a new book was going to come out I would read the book before it leading up to the release of the new book. So that means, in theory, I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone seven times…um, yeah, in theory. In actuality, I read it many more times than that. For you see I also reread the books when each of the movies came out. Not to mention the times that it was a slow month for new book releases and I read them again. There is something so magical about those books.
When it came to the movies, of course, they will never be the same. I mean how could they be?  But you know what? I loved them. I think they are pretty awesome. Some were better than others but still I love them. The first one is my favorite and I know a LOT of people will disagree with me on that. Here is why. There is the great reveal of a whole new world, not just to Harry but to me too. It’s the first time Harry finds out he is different in a whole other way. He finds out about magic. Diagon Alley…just the way I pictured it. It’s all a wonder and still innocent. New friends are being made and they are the people who become his family…people who love him.
When I went to Edinburgh, Scotland in January of 2010, I went with a single purpose in mind. Ok, I went because it was part of my job but I knew exactly what I was going to do when I got there and I wasn’t interviewing college students. I was going to go The Elephant House café. It is one of the cafés that J. K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter in. In the back of the café there is a sitting room with a wall of windows. This room has an amazing view of Edinburgh Castle. I wanted to go sit, drink tea, eat a shortbread cookie the shape of an elephant, and write. Lucky for me, I got to do that. I went twice. The first time was with people from work who were also HUGE Harry Potter fans just like me. We even decided to assign characters from HP to ourselves and our co-workers back home…and that is all I am going to say about that activity. I managed to sneak back to the café later in the trip. Both times I got to drink tea (Darjeeling/Oolong), eat a most delicious elephant cookie, and look out at Edinburgh Castle. Dipping that Elephant cookie into my tea thinking maybe I should read the tea leaves at the end but why borrow trouble just in case I had the grim. I tried to picture myself as J.K. wondering if she ever would have imagined that she would go from unemployment to unimagined riches while sitting in that café. Magic. It is hard to explain the euphoria that existed for me at that moment even if it was the second time I had that feeling while in Scotland. A sense of rightness, of home, and déjà vu for it is a magical country.
So here I sit in Elkton, VA, drinking tea, eating a Walker’s shortbread cookie, and writing about J. K. Rowling…funny, right?
Write side of happy tonight.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

“A Couple of Extra Bucks Could be Floating in Your Direction”

Bwahahahahahaha! Can’t. Breathe. Kind of funny that this is the fortune that got drawn out of the fortune bowl considering the last fortune that got pulled and I wrote about was “Poverty is No Disgrace.” This one, “A Couple of Extra Bucks Could be Floating in Your Direction is kind of a fun follow up. Oh, the irony and how funny. Let’s hope this one comes true. Ima gonna keep my fingers crossed.

A couple extra bucks would be lovely. I don’t need a million but I wouldn’t turn it down. I would be quite happy with enough to become debt free. I would be more than content with enough money so that I don’t have to panic if my unemployment benefits run out again. I would love to be able to have enough to pay off all my bills, pay my rent for the rest of my lease, have a comfortable amount in my savings account, have my truck brought up to all its required (recommended) maintenance and any other hidden gems that it needs to have done, and a trip to the dentist. Lasisk eye surgery would be righteous. The thought of not having to wear my glasses or worry about my contacts would be brilliant. I’d adopt. Like for real.

Do I need those things? No, but wouldn’t it be nice? It’s nice to dream. I can dream even bigger than that but it seems kind of selfish. The little bit of money that I have left over this week I am going to go to the grocery store and fill up a bag to take to my churches food bank. See, I realize that I may not have much but there are people out there are far worse off than me and that don’t have food. That could be me in the near future. And THAT point is mos’def’ NOT lost on me.

Floating…hmmmm. Will my bucks float on a lily pad in a pond, on a leaf down a lazy river, on a puddle of goodness, or on the wind? Oh, oh, I know on a fluffy cloud! Maybe there will be rainbows and unicorns. Floating on a hazy of sea of pot smoke? Just kidding people, I say no to drugs. I’m weird enough.

Seriously, how will I know that the bucks floating my way are meant for me? Will they have my name on them? Will they come in an envelope? Will I win something? Will they magically appear? Maybe I should play the lucky numbers on the back of this fortune. Do 19, 26, 6, 45, 42, and 36 sound lucky? I think I might have some spare change around. Maybe I will gather it all up and play those numbers this week.

Wait a minute. I just had a horrifying thought. What if this didn’t mean bucks as in moolah, dinero, scratch, Benjamin’s, bacon, bread, dough, clams, dead presidents, king’s ransom, or loot? BOOTY!!! I just really like saying booty. It sounds funny. What if this means bucks as in Bambi? That would suck. Gotta be careful what you wish for.

Writing myself to the right side of happy.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

So Many Books, So Little Time

I heart books. If, heaven forbid, my house ever caught on fire I quite possible would die because I would be trying to save my books after I saved my animals. During the very early years of my life my family lived two doors away from the public library. The only thing separating me from Valhalla was our neighbor’s yard. Our neighbors name was “Neighbor”. Well, that is what I called them. Family lore is that after hearing my Mom say “Hi neighbor”, I, being a wicked smart kid thought that was their name and dubbed them as such forever more. I couldn’t tell you their real name to save my life. The border between our houses wasn’t a fence but a row of Peony bushes. I would spend endless hours smelling those Peonies and watching the ants crawl all over them. To this day Peonies are still one of my all time favorite flowers. Neighbor had a dog and it was a Lhasa Apso from Tibet. Well not actually from Tibet but that was where the breed originated from and its name was…wait for it…it was named Tibet. They also had a fish tank with a live starfish in it. Totally random and I digress.

Any hoo…back to books. On the other side of Neighbor was our town’s public library. Whenever I would go to the library I didn’t go out the front door and walk down the side walk to the library. We lived on a busy four lane highway. Much too dangerous for Mom to even contemplate letting me do. So, I would go out the back door and cross through our and Neighbor’s backyard, “Hi Neighbor”, on my way to the back door of the library. A lot of times the librarian would be on the back steps as I walked over. To this day I suspect that my Mom probably called to tell them I was on my way over. So the librarian would be keeping an eye out for me.

Walking into the building was magical. It was an older, kind of historical building that was dimly lit, nothing like the libraries of today. It wasn’t bright or sleek and certainly didn’t have computers…well, ok, in all fairness it was the 70’s. When the light shined through the older upper windows, the dust motes would float and play in the rays of sunshine. There were cubbies or sitting areas to sit in while you read. The chairs were old and had cracks in the leather but so comfy. In the children’s section, there were beat up, well used bean bags. Sometimes, while I was reading, I would lie on those bean bags with my legs up and my feet resting on the shelves or the wall or I would sit in the chairs with my back on one arm and my legs dangling over the other one. The building smelled musty and the books even more so. I love that smell. I should since my nose was always in a book.

One of the very first books I ever checked out of the library was “Harold and the Purple Crayon” by Crocket Johnson. Harold could create his adventures by drawing them. He created other worlds. From this book I realized that I could have adventures too…by reading them. I was hooked. My love affair began. I became a pioneer who traveled by wagon with my family out to the prairie. I walked through a wardrobe into a land with talking animals. I moved into a giant peach pit after leaving my evil aunties behind. I put on my emerald colored glasses and followed a yellow brick road. I rode sideways, long ways, and short ways in a glass elevator.  I lamented having a younger brother because it is hard being a fourth grade nothing. I contemplated what a Tesseract was and who the three Mrs. W’s really were. Books were and continue to be my passport to far off places.

I like the weight of a book. I love the feeling of older books that have fabric like covers. I like the sound the spine of a brand new book makes when you open it for the first time. I love the smell of books. I love the feel of the paper. I like the sound the pages make when you turn them or flip through them. I have stayed up all night for books. Books have caused me to lose track of time so losing myself in one is an easy thing to do. I have been late to events because I need to read just one more chapter.

I love spending time in bookstores. I have received gift cards to bookstores and have been known to take several hours picking out the books I want to get with that gift card. I want to make sure it has been spent on the right books. My friends will walk around the mall for a couple of hours and know that they can come back and find me still perusing the selection or copping a squat on the floor reading. I have one friend who won’t go with me because they know it could be a while. When I buy books I like them to match. What I mean by that is that if I buy the first book in a series and it is a paperback the rest of the series has to be paperback and vice versa. I am a weirdo. I know this and I am ok with it.

I heart books, they are people too.

Writing myself happy.

Friday, December 9, 2011

"Poverty is No Disgrace"

Truer words may never have been spoken…or written on a fortune from a fortune cookie. Believe it or not I actually got this fortune in September. The irony of this nugget of wisdom is not lost on me and the fact that I received it during my current state of joblessness adds a bit of a “do-do-do” weirdness to it. For many months I had/have struggled with the feeling of shame that I have felt with not having a job. By no means am I below the poverty level. I am lucky. I qualified for Unemployment and 4 weeks ago the funds were “exhausted”…which resulted in a minor freak out at Thanksgiving time. I then had to apply for Emergency Unemployment Benefits and was lucky enough to qualify; however, I went over three weeks with no money coming in. Scary…probably the most scared I have ever been or at the very least in a good long while. The thought that I wouldn’t be able to pay rent and would be homeless was heart stopping.
The definition of Poverty is: - The state or condition of having little or no money, goods, or means of support; condition of being poor
Ok, ok…so maybe on some level I am at the poverty level since I very little money and other than unemployment I have no means of support. I am quite possibly one step away from Ramen noodles.
The definition of disgrace is - the loss of respect, honor, or esteem; ignominy; shame: the disgrace of criminal.  - A person, act, or thing that cause shame, reproach, or dishonor or is dishonorable or shameful. - The state of being out of favor; exclusion from favor, confidence, or trust: courtiers and ministers in disgrace.  
This one was a wee bit harder. With regards to my family and friends, in no way did I lose their respect or esteem. I certainly didn’t do anything to bring about dishonor to myself or my family name. However, on a personal level, the esteem with which I hold myself at times feels like I should be ashamed. When you are on the phone with the employees at the unemployment agency you feel like somehow this was your fault even though you know it isn’t. The last time I was on the phone with the agency the representative sounded like I was inconveniencing her and quite possible a bug she wanted to squish. She barely talked to me and when she did it was short and rude. While “talking” with me she was also making plans for the weekend with co-workers. Now let me say this, I KNOW not all unemployment employees are like that. You know what is kind of ironic though…if I and everyone else that is jobless and having to file for unemployment had a job THEY would be jobless. Maybe they should think about that. How would they feel?
Growing up we didn’t have a lot of money. I know that my family benefited from the WIC program and at one point we even qualified for food stamps. I even remember going to clinics to receive medical attention and childhood shots. I don’t ever remember feeling ashamed. I don’t know how my parents felt though because we never talked about it. My mom made it fun though. I remember she would let me count out the food stamps like monopoly money. I didn’t know any different. She also made having breakfast for dinner fun. I didn’t know it was because it was less expensive. I’m very thankful for my upbringing. I was a happy kid and I felt loved. I didn’t miss the extra things in life because we never had them and I turned out just fine. My parents instilled a very strong work and moral ethic in me. I have a healthy respect for money. So again, there is no disgrace in poverty. There really isn’t. Actually, I feel like I am living in a state of grace.
Things I have learned since becoming jobless:  It truly wasn’t my fault. There is no shame in it. You find out who your true friends are. It is ok to ask for help. You are not alone.
Writing to the right side of happy.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Songs about Rainbows

I love The Muppets. I grew up in a world filled with fuzzy, wide mouthed, protruding eyed Muppets. Sesame Street and The Muppets ruled the day. They pretty much were my childhood. The first Muppet TV show aired when I was 6 years old and continued until I was 11. Like a lot of kids I thought they were real and I am a better person for it.

Kermit was just the coolest. He was the reluctant hero (antihero if you will) and the main protagonist in The Muppets. Kermit is also the only Muppet to be prominently featured in both shows. I thought he was patient (not so much with Miss Piggy), kind, funny, handsome (for a frog), and had subtle wit.

Kermit was my hero. He was different and he owned it. He was green and that was just fine with him. He could have seen that has a hindrance but instead he saw the bright side of his greenness. I mean, you know that green is the color of spring and could be cool and friendly-like, right? He used his uniqueness to propel himself to stardom. He is an advocate for misfits. I mean if you don’t understand anything but this about The Muppets…they are a merry band of misfits. They are comrades in their misfitedness. They were the original Emo without the black attire and heavy eyeliner. Kermit is also a supporter of the “being and going green” movement. He has been involved with Earth Day and has been a spokesfrog for the Ford Hybrid. He was a tree hugger starting way back in his swamp days.

I saw the new Muppet movie today and I loved it. As expected, the tried and true Muppet cheesiness and whimsy was front and center. I liked the new songs and getting to hear a fresh version of “The Rainbow Connection”. I loved seeing the misfits overcome adversity. I enjoyed seeing the bully get schooled and learn his lesson even if he suffered a bump on the head. I may also now be a little in love with Jason Segel. He was one of the writers for the new movie and he was once quoted as saying “They’re not puppets. We never use the word puppet because Kermit is a frog, Piggy is a pig. They exist in the world, like we do.”

Life lessons I learned from Kermit the Frog and a The Muppets: 
1. It is ok to be different. You should embrace your uniqueness. It’s who you are and the people that matter will love you all the more for it.
2. You will accomplish so much more together as a group, be it friends or family, than you ever will on your own. Many important people have said. “We’re stronger together than we are on our own.” Who am I to argue with such stellar wisdom?
3. Look at your world with child like wonder.
4. Laugh.

Jim Henson once said “There’s not a word yet for old friends who’ve just met.” I think because of him there is a word for it and it is Muppet.

Landing on the write side of happy.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

“You Find Beauty in Ordinary Things. Do Not Lose This Ability.”

The fortune of the day pulled from the Jar of Fortunes is “You find beauty in ordinary things. Do not lose this ability.” You know, I never used to find this bit of wisdom hard to live by. Lately though, life has thrown me some major curve balls. Those curves should have come with the warnings like “slippery when wet” (insert Bon Jovi riff here) and “falling rocks ahead” (avalanche of death). Well, that’s what it feels like anyways. When I lived in Edgewater, Maryland I would frequently find myself driving over the South River Bridge at sunset. After living there for 20 years I can proudly say that it never got old, NEVER. I could be sitting in the worst bottle neck traffic, like ever, but then I would look out at the water. I would see the array of breathtaking colors reflecting on the water and kind of Zen out. To this day, I think those are some of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen.

Losing my job threw me for a loop. I stopped looking at the ordinary or extraordinary things, just stopped. There wasn’t beauty in anything. I mean are you ‘effing kidding me? I didn’t have a job in a time when there aren’t jobs to be found. Not to mention the little fact that I lived where I worked, so, after the month “grace” period I wouldn’t have a place to live. No job, no money coming in, and no place to live. Where is the beauty in that?

This year I have had the chance to spend more time with my family than I have ever been able to do in previous years. Like in a really long time…just ask my Mom and she will tell you. This blessing was brought about as a side effect of joblessness. During these trips I have gotten to know my step family even more. I have had the chance to hang out with my little great-step-nephew, Jerrik, who is cuter than a bee’s knee. Having him “help” me walk my dog Angus is a heartsquisher. Just he and I time that I cherish and we don’t even discuss world problems. I mean he is only 4 so I will cut him a break on that one. We talk about why Angus sniffs the heck out of the yard and how gross poop is. I love it. Ordinary (even sometimes gross) things and yet so beautiful.

This summer my new roomy and I planted a garden. How ordinary, right? God, I loved it. I loved watching everything grow and then getting to eat those veggies that we had labored over. My freezer is now full of spaghetti sauce and soup I made from those homegrown veggies. I also spent a lot of time on our porch swing reading and decompressing from the last five years of my life. I have taken walks in the local arboretum. I have gotten to nurture old friendships that hadn’t been nurtured in a criminally long time. Did you know there is an amazing amount of beauty in having a real sized kitchen, having your own washer/dryer, and having a tub? I made my first homemade apple pie in 10 years with apples from a local orchard. Listening to Angus snore while I write this is a sweet thing. The only ordinary thing that I haven’t found beauty in yet is the stink bug. That is a tough one. There is beauty in writing this ordinary blog, well, to me any ways.

So, find beauty in ordinary things and those ordinary things will become beautiful.

Writing myself to happy.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

“Promote literacy. Buy a box of fortune cookies today.” …in bed

I am one of “those” people. By “those” I mean when I go out to a Chinese restaurant or order out for Chinese I look forward to the end of the meal so I can snatch up my fortune cookie. I like the crinkle of the cellophane wrapper when you try to open it without breaking the cookie. I like snapping the cookie and eating it even if it is slightly stale. But most of all, by “those” I mean that I heart the fortune itself.

I look forward to smoothing it out and reading it. While partaking of Chinese food in a social setting with a group of friends, I and many others, like to add “in bed” to the end of fortune when reading the fortune out loud. This is actually a form of one-upmanship in its purest forms. Come on peeps, you know it is. You all sit through the whole meal hoping that the fortune you pick is the best one. You start to contemplate if you should invoke the “cookie closest to you”, “cookie farthest from you”, or the ever popular “mayhem cookie grab” strategy. Which one will reap the winner? OMG the pressure!!! Wait, what did I eat for dinner? A good example of this is a fortune I got a while back “To affirm is to make firm.”…in bed. Bwhahaha! I love that one. This ritual has forevermore earned its place in Pop Culture by making an appearance in an episode of “Beverly Hills, 90210” NOT “90210” but the original and still the best. Those precocious yet completely relatable teens partook of the fortune cookie “in bed” ritual.  

Then there is the often neglected “B-side” of the fortune. I have yet to play those lucky numbers. Maybe I should. It couldn’t hurt in my current state of joblessness but on the flip side that would mean parting with a dollar. Has anyone actually played those numbers? If they have, I wonder if they were really lucky. Now a days there is also the “Learn Chinese” section of the “B-side”. I dig this and have tried. I wonder if Rosetta Stone has a fortune cookie section.  

As we all know, 90 percent (I made up that percentage) of the time fortune cookies actually do NOT dispense fortunes. Probably one of my top ten pearls of fortune cookie wisdom is “Promote literacy. Buy a box of fortune cookies today”. True story. This fortune sealed the deal for me. I thought to myself “Self, you like to keep your fortunes, right? Maybe you should help promote literacy by writing a blog about fortune cookies.” Then myself answered “Self that is genius idea.” So here I am writing a blog. There will be posts about other stuff too but I really like the idea of expounding on a fortune by really getting to the heart of it.

Am I really promoting literacy by buying a box of fortune cookies or am I really helping the cookie manufacturer? If a fortune cookie goes uneaten or unread is it truly lucky? A fortune cookie by another name is just a cookie but still good with chocolate ice cream.
On the continuing quest to write myself happy….

Monday, December 5, 2011

Landing on the Right Side of Happy

Like too many Americans I lost my job. “Lost my job”…what is that anyway? How does one “lose” a job? I didn’t misplace it. It isn’t like my sunglasses that I am forever looking for, swearing that I left them in a “safe place”. I didn’t let go of its hand and it wandered off. I didn’t make a losing bet with my job as the stakes. I didn’t go into the store, come out and forget where I parked it. So, actually…more clearly stated…I didn’t lose my job, it was taken from me. To quote my former employer “We are sorry but your position has been eliminated.” OH, BULLOCKS!

Like those other hundreds of thousands of jobless Americans I am struggling. I am struggling to hold onto my self-esteem, the roof over my head, the food on my table, my sanity, and my happiness which is teetering on the precipice of an abyss.

Self-esteem is a precarious thing. Who knew that it would take such a huge hit when my job was taken from me? I sure didn’t. I would have hugged it more and given it more positive feedback had I known. I would have given it a cookie, preferable one freshly out of the oven…all gooey and warm. I guess I kind of knew that I was proud of what I did. That feeling of pride, of a job well done, of being a productive member of the human race, of HAVING a job, was the key to my self-esteem. My identity was wrapped up with my job. Who am I now? “Oh, that is Kathi…she doesn’t have a job.” “How sad.” You feel like “who would want me?” I’m not good enough. I’m the stuff my cat Ophelia hacks up and leaves me as a pressie in the middle of my bed.

The roof over my head and the food on my table are now provided by Unemployment. Wow, I can’t even begin to describe the rollercoaster of feelings you go through when you have to apply for unemployment for the first time…like ever. I felt like a criminal…like gum…stuck to the underneath of a table. They don’t care that I have ALWAYS had a job. They don’t care that I never had been fired or laid off. I felt like I had done something horrible…like this was my fault. Which is complete and total bullpoop…I KNOW that…but it is how I feel.

My sanity…well, it comes and it goes.

Happiness is a fickle bitch. It can be fleeting. I am trying to teach myself that my happiness isn’t wrapped up in my job. It’s bigger than that. I’m happy my dog, Angus, is napping beside me right now and snoring. I’m unhappy because the Buffalo Bills have broken my heart yet again. I’m happy that I live in a house with a tub and that I have a place to live in general. I’m unhappy that I am hungry right now and don’t know what to cook myself. I’m happy that I have food. I’d be happier if I had those cookies I wrote about earlier. I’m happy that I am finally writing this blog.

So, I am going to write myself to the right side of happy.