Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Flow


Happy New Year! I believe you can wish people a happy new year for all of January, don't you think? Definitely the first time you see them in the new year. I still have a handful of New Year's cards unsent. When I sat down to order my Christmas cards this year, I realized they'd better be New Year's cards, and that was the right call. It's taking a little time because I'm writing personal notes on all 60 of them. I only mention that to shame you.

LOL jk not really! Not really about the shame that is. I really am writing the notes because what else do I have to do?

Anyway. I thought about you guys yesterday morning after I played a tennis match. My partner and I got beat, but I was driving away from the match feeling fine, thinking about my day, my friends, my kids, people I know who are sick, people who are grieving, my own health, just all the things that I think about. And it came to my mind to tell you how, back when I first started playing tennis in earnest, two years ago, being on the court was the only time that I didn't think about breast cancer. In those days I was worried all the time. Cancer dread was a constant background noise to all of my other thoughts. God, exhausting.

That dread is not gone. It has just changed from being uncontrolled and omnipresent to being a familiar part of my mental furniture. I see it every day, but it has a place and I keep it there and try to ignore it. I think this gets easier over time, the not feeling afraid. And also, you know what? Fuck it.

We're diving deep into the mind of Becky today, looks like.

So yeah, when I'm playing tennis, I don't think about any of that. I don't think about my kids. Yesterday I realized that when I'm playing, I don't remember that I even HAVE kids. And I'm not even very good! I marvel at how pleasurable and restful the sport must be for people who have real skills. I think this is the concept of flow, of like, being so immersed in an activity that you aren't even aware of your own self or of the passage of time.

I remember once Laura told me how she feels at swim practice sometimes. She said, "It's like I'm asleep, but I'm awake and my body is working." I think that's flow.

I think being in flow is good for us. I just wanted to poke my head in and ask you, what activities do you have or do that make you feel that way? We're supposed to start the year the way we mean to go on, so let's get flowing, shall we?

Back soon with a holiday update, etc. Yes my Christmas tree is still up, in keeping with our tradition of leaving it up long enough to honor Dr. King. xoxoxo

Friday, December 20, 2013

Tail Feather, Shaken

Gatsbyish themed Xmas party with our buddies!
God help you if you follow me here, facebook, instagram, and twitter. If I go to a party, you have to hear about it for days on all channels. Probably eventually you'll see a picture of the mints in the bathroom, as soon as I can figure out what filter to use.

LOL jk but probably!

Matt's company had a nice party the other night. One thing I enjoy about the video game biz--or probably this is true of any creative field--they love to throw costume/theme parties and everybody always gets into it. Or there was one guy in an argyle sweater, but maybe he was dressed as an old-timey caddy! I find that having a theme helps focus one's dressing up, you know? I love going to parties with my fella. When I got the invitation and saw that it was a 1920's theme, I knew exactly what kind of dress I wanted, beads 'n' feathers. I had seen Sue Wong dresses at Saks. But I needed to find one for a non-Saks price, and I did on ebay. Late on in the evening, this artsy girl in the lobby said to me, "I've always loved Sue Wong, it's fun to see that dress being worn." And Reader, how I did glow with pleasure! Anway, feathers. Check into them.

And since we're still talking about clothes, I can't say enough to recommend a pair of nude platform heels. Where have these been all my life? I paid a full $22 for them but I think I'm going to wear them with everything. Except not everything because they are so uncomfortable. But no matter.

The face I make when I roll a 7, below-right.
Another highlight was when the DJ crossed the room to where I was standing at the craps table. He said, "I just wanted to thank you. Everything I play a new song, you start dancing in place, and I know I've made a good choice." You're welcome sir? He was having a hard time getting anyone to dance, because there was gambling.

I am one of those people who thinks she could be really good at blackjack. But, you know, I'm not at all.

Another thing that happened was my strap broke. That dress is heavy, with all the beads, and it's held up by two tiny spaghetti straps. After I didn't win a prize for my gambling prowess, several people were consoling me with hugs. I hugged back and felt my strap give way. Thank the Lord I was wearing my special bra that has its own infrastructure and public works department, so I just tucked the broken strap into the top of my bra and put my hair over it.

Usually when your dress breaks, it's time to head to the house. But I partied on a while longer. Charleston!

Oh, and a hair note. Both Kelly Ham and I wanted to have a sleek short flapper hairstyle, but we both came to the same conclusion: We couldn't achieve sleek and short, so we went with big and voluminous. And thank goodness, because I needed it for cover. Kelly's dress was 360 degrees of sequins--very pretty and sparkly. She had on the Bra of Amazement too. Is this too much information?

Anyway, now you're caught up. In the next post I'll cover the rest of the weekend's festivities and that should bring us almost up to date.

Y'all going to any parties? Tis the season to spill all the beans about them. xoxo

b




Friday, December 13, 2013

OMG Again With the Balls


Facts that condition the current playing of the tennis in my sphere of operations:

1) I has rained for most days in December.
2) When it isn't raining, it is freezing.
3) Everyone has other things to do this time of year.
4) We have barely enough girls on our winter team to actually have a team.

So the tennis has been tough to make happen. Lots of makeup matches and then makeups for the makeups. It's my turn to be captain of this winter team, and it's been challenging to deal with these four facts.

Anway. This week we've had dry, though cold weather, and we got back out there. Yesterday we started at 9:15 in the morning. I am not kidding you in saying that it was 31 degrees when we started. There was no breeze, but the courts we were on were in deep shade. Oh, and, I didn't get to start playing right away, I sat and watched for over an hour, thinking, most of that time, "We are nuts." I got a new puffy throw blanket from Lands End so I was wrapped in that. I had all kinds of different performance layers on so it was tolerable.

I said, "When I'm old, I'm not playing winter tennis." Pretty Neighbor goes, "Old? I'm not playing next year."

It was cold.

Finally, when I took the court with my buddy J, it was a balmy 35 degrees. I started playing in gloves. That doesn't really work. This was J's third match ever and we did well, but we got beat. It was okay. Then, after we shook hands with our opponents, one of them offered me the match balls. I said, "That's okay, you keep them." And she goes, "But we're getting the new can of balls."

And I was like, oh for the love. That arcane and difficult ball exchange rule that I wrote about here does not apply to USTA league play, only to the Atlanta Lawn Tennis Association.

I KNOW, LIKE YOU CARE.

So I said, "Oh, do we do the ball exchange in USTA? I thought that was only ALTA." Knowing full well it was only ALTA. But she was all, "Uh huh, yes we do." This girl had been playing for four years and should know better. So I took a new can of balls out of my bag and handed them to her and was pleasant. All GRACIOUS-LIKE. And my friend was like, you didn't have to do that, you could have cited the rules, etc. And I was all, I'm not gonna pull out the rules over a can of balls. But one day she'll realize her mistake and if there is a loving God, she'll feel like an ass.

Fun!

Actually it was pure fun. And later, J and I sat watching our teammates play, and Pretty Neighbor and Peg were playing against these girls who had to have a conference between every single point. We could all feel our blood freezing while we watched and waited. And at one point one girl walked off the court in the middle of a game, I never did figure out why. And J goes, "Look at Pretty Neighbor." And I said, "Oh, yeah, that's Pretty Neighbor's WTF face." And one of the girls on the other team heard me and turned around and looked at me and I was like, OH IT IS ON BIDGES! Or what I actually said was, "That chicken soup is delicious!"

Oh tennis.

Then, THEN, today my teammate V and I were playing a makeup match against these girls from Fancy Land. V was back by the baseline and I was up by the net. The ball was coming toward her and somehow, I'm not really sure, I fell down. Maybe I was scooting out of the way or I was changing positions, but my heels caught and I went down on my booty and then all the way onto my back. Whoa, I never fall down on the court. And I was worried that I wouldn't be able to scramble up in time, or that V would stop playing.

I needn't have worried. V yelled, "GET UP!" And then she hit a winner to end the point. I cracked up laughing. She said, "I just wanted you to know the ball was still in play!" And I said, "Thank you! I was so worried you'd stop playing and come see about me!" If I could have communicated with her as I was going down, I would have said, "Watch that baaaallll...." But I didn't need to. She was on it! It was one of my favorite tennis moments of 2013.

There's a video of Rafael Nadal falling down, and in slow motion you can see that during every instant of his falling to the ground, he's watching the ball and planning to hit it. I totally get it.

GET UP!

And we won. It was one of those matches where all your stuff just goes in, and even the dumb crap you try just works. LOVE IT.

Okay. I just needed to talk about it?

All week I have been a bit snippy and emotional. I think I haven't been sleeping enough. Or that's what my new fitness/sleep tracker tells me. But today was a good day and I think I can hit the reset button over the weekend.

You have my love.
b

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Mother-in-Law's Pot Roast, Also Her Dog

Monday afternoon after I took Erika to the MARTA station to go back to California, I stopped and bought a roast. Matt's mom Betty made this roast in my crock pot one time, and I came here to tell you about it.

It has magic powers, e.g., the power to make my child eat onions and the power to make my husband leave the office early.

You need:

a chuck roast, I got a 3lb one
a large onion or two smaller ones
sliced mushrooms
red wine
packet of powdered blue cheese dressing mix
a stick of butter

Cut up the onion into chunks, like little wedges, and put them with the roast into the crock pot. Sprinkle the packet of blue cheese dressing mix onto the meat and onions. Unwrap an entire stick of butter. I mean it, just do it. Unwrap the butter and set it on top of the meat. Put the lid on and turn on the crock pot. I did "high" for six hours. After a couple of hours, when things have settled in a bit, open the lid really quick and pour in about half a cup of red wine. You don't need any other liquid. Go amuse yourself for another couple of hours. Then open the lid one more time and dump in the mushrooms. When the time has elapsed, the roast should be nice and tender and the broth--man--it'll make you want to hit your granny. As the old-timers say.

I served this with baked sweet potatoes. Normally I am all in favor of putting the potatoes or carrots into the crock pot and crocking it with the rest, but you don't want to put in stuff that will soak up too much liquid, Betty says.

Buddy the dog.
Betty came to my house yesterday to fly out of ATL on a trip, and she left her springer spaniel here to stay with us for a week or so. I had told her it was way too long to board him at the kennel, as he is a sensitive soul and it would be too much for him.

It's possible that I am projecting some of my own inner life onto this dog.

So there are the two dogs here. As Matt has remarked, having Buddy around is like having a dog, which is not quite how I'd characterize Percy the Beagle, Moody Daughter of Time. Percy is in a slow boil that Buddy is here. And Buddy is upset that Betty is gone. He's droopy and he definitely has looked around the house for her.

Today he tried to get in my van. He didn't even know where it was going. Just away from here.

So there are a lot of emotional creatures in this house tonight. We get our feelings hurt, then we eat some chow, then we watch a ball roll and find a soft place to lie down. Then we feel better.

That's the scene by me. xo

Monday, December 9, 2013

Prime of My Life


 Every dang year with the birthdays, that's me. I'm really getting up there.

Sometimes I feel like my life is one big party, like the universe is arranged for my delight, and this weekend was one of those times. My friend Erika came and visited from LA, and our grad school friend Dan was in town for a conference, so we took this opportunity to get all up in each other's business.

We didn't really do that much. When I go visit Erika, we undertake all kinds of LA things and see lots of people and go to complicated yoga classes and get professionally groomed and all that jazz. When she comes to visit me, we sit around my house and sip coffee, we talk, we sleep eight hours a night. We decorated the Christmas tree, we had random margaritas in the middle of the day, we Christmas-shopped.

With Dan, we ate downtown at one of those places where they fold your napkin for you every time you leave the table. Everything on the menu was a Southern classic that, through a minor tweak or two, had been rendered really expensive. Highlights were: The waiter trying to convince Erika that the cracked peppercorns floating in her very complex drink were a good thing; Dan explaining his tickbite-induced mammal allergy to the waiter; Being served moonshine in a mason jar and recalling that the last time someone handed me a jar of moonshine, I was standing in the middle of an actual dirt road, and it was free; Getting the waiter to fold the napkin into a paper airplane; The waiter getting sick of our shit, probably. Also there was when we parked the car in a little hole-in-the-wall downtown lot, and I said, "Are we going to get murdered in this lot?" And Erika goes, "Well we're not going to get murdered right now."

Which struck me as funny.

Then we had dinner and cake at home one night, and Hank gave me a card that said, "Since it's your big day, I'm giving you this present! PS: Dad paid for it." And Laura gave me some makeup and a Christmas ornament that looks like a pretzel, which she said was the "most you" of all the ornaments. I don't know but I do love it. I said, "Because I love Bavarian snacks so much?" And she pointed out that we do have a pickle ornament so okay. And Matt got me a fitbit wristband, possibly to offset all the Bavarian snacking.

It rained the whole whole weekend, and it was lovely to sit inside and look at the gray outside. It was a wonderful birthday, and if I have to get older, this was a fine way to do it. Today all the friends are back in their places and it's just the four of us, and we are heading into another busy, chilly December week. I am just hoping to to be able to give everyone what they need and to keep the good times rolling.

I wish the same for you. xoxo
B

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Learning and Growing, I Guess


I put colored lights on the tree. I know, I don't recognize myself. I mean what? I am a white-lighter all the way. You?

I mean, there are teams for this, right? Is it like how there are Elvis people and Beatles people? Or am I overthinking it? If I'm overthinking it only a little, that's probably the right amount for me.

Somewhere along the way, the last few years, there started being all these different whites at the store. There's warm and cool and LED and bluish and faceted and free-range, probably. I mean which white is white? And so it's like my signifier has lost its referent. Which is a painful condition, but let's not detour into Post-Structuralism this close to Christmas.

So today I was down in the basement finding Hank's fat Santa pillow guys and I saw this big coil of multi-colored lights, like the heavy duty kind that you're really supposed to use outside. And they're on this big reel and I could just picture myself so easily unwinding that baby around and around the tree. So I brought it upstairs and just like that, we stepped boldly away from the land we have known.

Not to overstate the importance of this choice even one tiny bit.

I mean, what will it look like with our ornaments on it? I will be sure to keep you posted during this adventure of my sensibilities.

In other news, it rained a ton all over the Hundred Acre Wood. And no tennis was played.

During a brief let-up, Hank ran outside to see what the foster daughters were up to. He came back inside and told me the girls were burying a snail they had got at the beach. A snail that was dead, he clarified. I nodded or made some noise of acknowledgment, I'm not sure, I was doing something else.

"Mom, I'm sorry if I crushed your happy mood," he said. I tuned back in and assured him that he had not crushed my mood and that while it was a shame the snail was dead, it was not an unnatural thing or surprising thing, etcetera.

And he said, "I just really wish I could have met that snail while he was alive."

And I had to lurch back through the kitchen doorway so I could silently laugh without him seeing me, but it was a laugh that was almost a sob.

Holidays!

xoxo

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Or A Tablecloth from A Pizzeria



The other day I got a new blouse, and Matt goes, "It's like I am married to a picnic blanket."

Hmmph!

This morning, after I got the kids up, fed them breakfast, made their lunches, and got them onto the school bus, I crawled back into bed for a few minutes, and then Matt was stirring around the room getting ready for work. He asked me, as he does many mornings, "Do you know where there are some clean socks for me?"

"At the store," I said.

I mean honestly! It's like he wants to wear a clean pair of socks every single day, and that is just not sustainable for me at this point in my life.

Then I went ahead and got up. I drank coffee and looked at the rain, the rain that caused all kinds of tennis to be canceled and rescheduled today. The tennis matches are piling up out there like jumbo jets that can't get clearance to land. Sometimes I feel like an air-traffic controller. An air-traffic controller at the lowest-stress airport in the world.

I sat in my quiet house, and the instinct towards sloth threatened to overtake me. With the last shred of will I possessed, I texted Pretty Neighbor and asked if she wanted to work out in her basement. She agreed and so I was committed. This is how I get around myself.

By then Matt showed back up at the house for a lunch visit. We chatted for a bit and I said, "Goodbye, I'm going to work out with Pretty Neighbor," and he was all, "Can I come watch?" and I was like, LOL, and he was like, j/k, no really, and I was all, "I know baby."

So we did work out, for the first time in a while. We return to the Jillian Michael's workout DVDs again and again. Those plus tennis keep things on the up; tennis alone won't do it. Then I left PN's house and arrived back on my street in time to meet the elementary school bus, and my new neighbor, the one that moved into Frenemy's house, saw me and said, "Hey, where do you work out? I need to go with you sometime." And I was like, yeah! But honestly, now that PN has turned her basement space into more of a media room, there isn't really a place for a third friend to work out. Though I know the thought would put a smile on Matt's face.

This was my day.

It is truly a blog about nothing.

How are you?


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Beckmas

I have a wintry, holidayish Christmas playlist that I've been nurturing along in Spotify for over two years. I've held off listening to it until today so it would be fresh. I wanted to share it with y'all if you are into Spotify.

Bruce Cockburn's version of "Mary Had A Baby" came on just now, and I had a vision of myself sitting in our little apartment in San Jose, the winter I was pregnant with Laura, listening to that song on Napster (yes children!) and rocking in my rocking chair. I remember that particular season, my applications were in for doctoral programs, though I hadn't started yet, and of course I didn't have a baby yet, and we were new in town. I had truly nothing to do. I taught an SAT prep course around the corner. I read a lot, I think. And I don't know what else. I would meet Matt for dinner at the Valley Fair mall. Or I would go there and walk around.

 I wrote about that apartment before, God, that place was a disaster. But we were happy there, it's a good memory. The people keep a comin' but the train done gone.

Anyway, the list has about 4 hours of music on it, which should see you through lots and lots of wassailing.

Really the song that would be most appropriate for memories of that apartment would be James Brown's "Santa Claus, Go Straight To The Ghetto." Also on the list!

Enjoy with love from me!