Wednesday, August 26, 2009

In the darkness, the trees are full of starlight ...

So the joke always was that I love Dove Dark Chocolate, because it was "dark and bitter, just like me." But I've been riding this wave of happiness lately, sometimes sickening even myself. I've worried that it might change the dynamics of my friendships, since they didn't exactly become friends with this unpredictable and possibly permanent mood change.

But then this week I read a story about a 72-year-old woman who fell for a scam. And she was saying these things like, it took me 72 years to learn not to trust someone. And I felt bad for her. But then suddenly, I thought, maybe SHE'S a scam! Maybe she's scamming the system!

And then I thought, Yes! I'm happy, but I'm still dark! And I just smiled.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A few things

Jeffrey has been on his annual Colorado excursion this week, seeing his brother and his family and his best friend, Jeff. I love that he goes because he enjoys himself and gets to immerse himself in a different part of his world. But I miss him. So I'm glad he's coming back tonight. Also, the house is a mess. That goes almost without saying, no?

I discovered a new-to-me artist today: Kate Miller-Heidke. She's an Australian songwriter and she has an amazing voice and range. I first heard of her with her painful and hilarious song about ex-lovers on Facebook, "R U Fucking Kidding Me." But then I heard this song, "The Last Day on Earth," and basically fell in love. I love the lyric, "You know me, I love to lose my mind." It's like it was written for me, except that it doesn't literally apply to me at all. But I could SEE feeling that way about someone. I just can't stop listening to it.

My fitness goals changed this week when I saw some of the world track championships. I was at the gym, on the elliptical, watching these people RUN in a way that I don't really remember ever seeing. They were just at the height of their lives, working as hard as I've ever seen anyone work, really. Those Jamaican women were just amazing. And I loved watching the Brazilian women, standing in their tiny running uniforms (don't get me started on that), chests out, muscular, not skinny, proud. The gym guy said, not in a bad way, "Those women are beasts!" And I said, "I want to be a beast!" He was like, "Are you sure your husband's going to like that?" Later I asked Jeffrey, and he very diplomatically said, "I like you the way you are." So anyway, beasthood here I come! Not like I could ever run like that. I mean, come on. But I got him to teach me how to use the machines in the testosterony weight room. So today I went and did dips, pull-ups, and various other weight-related exercises. Then I went into the gym and did my typical jump rope routine, and a woman came up to me afterward and said I was a monster on the jump rope! It was so nice. I almost think she was somehow placed into the script or something. Thanks, writers!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

This license plate brought tears to my eyes today


Not because of how sweet it is. But because the A is redundant.

(shakes head)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Open letter

Dear Banana Republic vanity sizing,
I love you.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Funny ha-ha

I did stand-up a couple times in college. I had a tight 3-minute set, with just 1 good joke. For a very brief time, I thought about quitting journalism to go into it. That's in between thinking I could be a professional bowler and manual laborer. My mind wanders.

I got good feedback when I did it; people laughed. But I stopped doing it in July of 1997 when a co-worker's husband said to me, "Sure, you're funny. But what are you really saying?" Turned out, nothing.

So I never did it again. But today I got 2 separate e-mails from people telling me about an open mic night. And it has me thinking. I wonder if I can get back the sense of humor that drained out of me while I was news editor.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

It's getting hard to be someone but it all works out

Tuesday morning I woke up.

I don't know how it happened, exactly. But when I opened my eyes, it was as if I'd had an epiphany. I had this bright, bursting, enveloping feeling of gratitude. I was grateful for everything in my life, with big bubble exclamation points. (see next blog entry) I was grateful for the paintball bruises, still gigantic, for making me feel vital. I was grateful for all the opportunities that I have had, all the people I have loved and still love. Even for all the heartache. I felt like I was seeing things clearly for the first time in a very long time, maybe my entire life. I don't mean for this to diminish anyone else's experiences, but it felt the way people describe having religious experiences, except if you extracted all the religion.

And still, a couple days later, I feel much the same way. I mean, it's not like I'm a totally different person; I'm still who I am, but with some changes. I feel calmer. Yesterday I used the phrase "every day is a gift" in an e-mail without a trace of irony. When I told Paul that, he told me that he would never accept Alien Judy. I feel changed for no reason at all, except that I finally saw my life for what it is: A wonder. I just feel so fortunate. It's hard for me to describe, because a lot of the language used to describe these sorts of feelings has religious undertones.

A big part of it is my friends. Friendships are such a wonderful idea, really. You enter into a relationship with someone and care about them and they care about you. You tell your stories and laugh and contemplate together. You think good things about them and try to become those good things they think about you. And I have amazing friends who love me and put up with me. All through my shower I crafted messages I was excited to send to them about how much I love them. And I thought about people who don't have friends and how sad I am for them.

And of course, my best friend, Jeffrey. I feel like I hadn't quite seen him for who he is in a while. I'm not sure why that was the case, but now I do again. And I missed him so much.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Today I am grateful

for black skirts and bright solids. For my friends and my love. For this bruise on my carotid. For the bruises everywhere else. For these muscles, weak right now. For chocolate brown. For having been born in this blink, into this spot. For opportunities. For resourcefulness and resources. For persistence. For this day. For this gratitude.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Never surrender

Is it possible to be a weekend warrior if you work out throughout the week? Not sure. At any rate, I've somehow become one.

Today I got bruised up in paintball. It was the first time I ever played. We played at The Paintball Store in Hampton, because I'd read good reviews about it. When we first went looked around the indoor arena, it felt like we were in a video game, like Splinter Cell or something. A lot of intimate combat.

I was there with seven other people from the paper. Three were hard-core gamers, adept at first-person shooters. I have experience in Super Mario games. And there were no gigantic flowers spitting fire at me or any big green pipes to jump down.

At first I was pretty timid, shooting maybe two or three rounds before getting dropped. But somewhere around the third game, I just started shooting. I could say something like "I wasn't going out that way," but I went out all the same. It was just more fun. I shot so much that I was the only one who ran out of paint and air. In the last game, I even did a belly crawl in the gross, painty sawdust to avoid shots. And I survived that one after getting shot in the neck. It felt bad-ass, to be sure.

In total I got shot three times in the head, again, the most of anyone. It's a big target, I know. And I have three tight target-shaped bruises on my calves (thanks a bunch, Jon) and a few on my chest and back. I was soaked with sweat and paint through my shirt and jeans by the end. I didn't capture it very well, but here I am all sweaty and messy:

Saturday, August 08, 2009

To Kenny Harrison, wherever you may be

Tonight I am grateful to all the people who have made me a better person than whoever I was when I met them. Of course there are many. There are some, like my mom, whose influence is immeasurable. There are teachers, and mentors. Jeffrey makes me a much more patient person. Paul makes me a better friend. And I'm thankful for all of them.

Specifically, I'm thinking of Kenny Harrison, who unknowingly changed me in an instant. It was a million and a half years ago, and I was a graphics intern at The Times-Picayune in New Orleans. He was a talented illustrator in the department.

It was a tumultuous summer for me, professionally and personally. When I broke up with my boyfriend, Kenny asked, "Are you OK?" He said it with genuine, full-eyed concern, even though he'd only known me for a week. I was taken aback by his effortless gesture. I know it seems like nothing, but no one else who found out asked me that. It helped teach me how to be open and show caring, even to someone I don't know very well. It taught me the first question to ask.

I heard that question come out of my mouth tonight. My friend had gone on a surprise date-like social engagement with a guy she LIKES. SO MUCH. And even though I was so excited for her, I knew that the beginning of an undefined relationship can be difficult and confusing. So I called and -- among other things -- asked her if she was OK. And she said, "Oh, Judy, I love you." And I knew that she loved the person I had become in the summer of 1996 because of one question from Kenny Harrison.


OK, Simon LeBon, I get it. You're on the hunt, you're after me. But how do you smell like you sound?

Thursday, August 06, 2009


Well, no one seems to be reading this. No matter.

My big news this week is that Jeffrey and I are going to Barcelona in October! We considered staying in a hotel this time but decided that small room x 8 days = certain divorce. So I found an apartment in Eixample for even less money than the hotel we were flirting with, which was already quite reasonable. It's always sort of a gamble to book online, but I'm excited about this place. And so far everything has been smooth with the agency.

We bought our tickets last night for only a little bit more than it costs to fly to Iowa. For reals. Now I gotta get cracking on my Espanol. Jeffrey took it in high school, but I found out tonight that he also took French in college. And I don't remember any of that coming up when we were in Paris. I took Latin, of course. So when we need to talk about the farmer's pretty daughter in ancient Rome, I'm on it.

Now is the time during which Jeffrey and I will research restaurants obsessively. We'll be there for eight days, which means probably, at most, 16 meals out, since one of the best reasons to get an apartment is breakfast in. So we'll find maybe 100 restaurants, and read hundreds of reviews in a couple different languages, on many, many Web sites. Also books. Not to mention scouring the streets while we are there to find hidden treasures. I will be leaving my vegetarianism here in the states. It is the ham capital of the world, for goodness' sake.

I am looking at it with an eye toward economy, in case there are back-seat riders in our lives soon. For the same reason, Jeffrey thinks we should just spend the money we spend, because if there are back-seat riders in our near future we won't be able to take a big trip like this again. I guess I can see his point. Either way, I think it will be great.

In other news, I've self-diagnosed myself with nonfiction ADD, thanks to Barbie. A couple months ago I picked up this great Julian Barnes book about death called "Nothing To Be Frightened Of." It's entertaining, informative and funny. Everything you want in a book. But I just can't finish it. I just can't do it. And with that hanging over my head, I picked up "Everything and More," by David Foster Wallace. It's about infinity! Who am I kidding? I'm never going to finish it! I love David Foster Wallace, of course. But even his lightest stuff is dense. I have to admit though, I've never read a book about math with such raw vulnerability and humor.

But seriously.

Monday, August 03, 2009

A baby, a shield, a ball

I went to Iowa this weekend to see my sister and her family, including her brand-new baby, Minh-Phuong. See cuteness here:

She's three weeks old and thinks I'm hilarious, as you can see. She's incredibly mellow. I know my children would never be so mellow, so it's nice to see it in others.

I've been thinking a lot lately about openness. I always think that I am more open than I really am. I perpetuate this internal and external myth by giving up all kinds of information freely that doesn't matter at all. But since I give it up so freely, people think I'm open. And everything else is hidden away. But really I keep the dumbest stuff inside. I think it's because I'm so afraid people will find out how stupid, or small, or petty (or prone to redundancies!) I am. But that's hubristic because true stupidity or pettiness seeps out no matter how much you try to control it. Or should I say, no matter how much I try to control it. So I guess the smart thing to do is open up. We'll see how that goes.

In kickball news, I am still in the game! I had quit a couple weeks ago because I thought I'd injured my muscles and didn't want to do permanent damage. But a friend of mine suggested I stay in it and I'm impressionable so I did. And it was awesome! I am a not-bad kickball player! Of course this past weekend I was in Iowa so I couldn't play, and this weekend is paintball. But I'm so glad I stayed with it.