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Category: friends (page 1 of 3)

This Is What A Feminist Looks Like

A friend of mine posted about how the UPS man wouldn’t hand over her package until she told him what was inside. He played that game. And I have to say, having experienced this sort of interaction more times than I could attempt to count in my 47 years on this planet, it’s probably one of the biggest contributing factors to my Face of Stone that makes people somewhat afraid of me when it surfaces, like a submarine rising to battle above the waters. Because fuck you, dude. Oh, I can hear it now. “He’s just flirting!” “He’s just having some fun.” “He’s just playing around, he probably likes you.”

You know what? I’m reached the age in life where IDGAF, because stuff like this, societally, blames me and says, “let’s excuse bad behavior because you’re not in the mood to put up with it.” And what dictates that I should be in the mood? Because I’m a woman, and I should welcome a man’s attention and interest and playful banter, even if all I’ve done is answer the goddamned door to receive a package, something I PAID FOR. No. Just, no. How about saying something like, “I hope it’s something you’ve been looking forward to!” or asking, “How’s your day been? What do you do for a living?” Because holding a package hostage under the guise of “just playin'” immediately tilts the balance of power. It says, “Until you give me what I want (the answer), I’m not going to give you what you reasonably expect to receive without issue.” It’s like holding a package high above a kid’s head and making them jump for it. And you can argue that on the grand scale of things, this is small stuff, but if someone thinks it’s ok to do, I really don’t want to know what other boundaries they might ignore. And I resent being “That Witch” who calls your supervisor to complain, or “That Cunt” who won’t play along with your idea of fun, or “That Humorless Bitch” who just won’t smile for you. The real problem, in my opinion, is that I’ve endured it enough that I could feel my anger as if it were happening to me.

Boundaries. Respect. This is what a feminist looks like. Basically the same shit everyone wants and expects from the humans they come in contact with.
Bighairjen

Won’t You Take Me To…

Oh my. Funky Town, the dance club melting pot, located in glamorous Raytown, MO has long been a destination for people in KC. I remember seeing it when I first moved here, from an errant exit onto 350 Highway instead of remaining on 435. I knew people went for the disco, and to party in large groups, but I’d never made it there myself, until last night.

That place is something else. I think I had a goofy grin on my face at least the first 20 minutes, because it was a feast to gaze upon. Talk about a cross-section of life! I’d say the average age was around 40, so at least I didn’t feel awkward or -cough- old, and you could not have gotten a greater mix of types of people – races, heights, weights, ages, dress, fashion-sense, all mixing it up on the dance floor, or in a dance cage, or on a light-up dance box. Granted, it was still predominantly white, but it definitely felt like a representative population slice of the entire city. I think I got most mesmerized by the group sitting front and center to the dance floor, and it quickly became clear to me these were Regulars, with a capital R. The motley assortment tended to line dance to most of the music, all eyes upon their leader, a skinny, middle-aged man in baggy jeans (not sagging, just 80’s bagging) and a 2013 Tate Stevens t-shirt who determined which line dance they would do and began each dance with an emphatic flourish and a clap. The others fell into place around him, and then even others, not part of the head table, would jump in and out, swinging a right leg forward and back, a little Saturday Night Live disco jab to the sky upon completion of one set.

Then there was Disco Stu. The name was suggested by my friend John, there with his NOW fiancee, Heather, and another couple. (John told me last night that he was going to propose today! I won an Oscar for disguising my happiness while still conveying it, and while it would have really been epic had he done it at Funky Town, perhaps they will have their reception there.) Anyway, back to Disco Stu. He had a glorious smile on his face, joining the line dancing to some of the songs, dancing to his own drummer on others. At one point, he got up on the light-up box, and as I watched, the gravitational pull of his fellow line dancers turned his freeform steps into a synchronized, albeit elevated, line dance all on his own. Later, I saw him dancing rather suggestively with a middle-aged blonde woman, and all I could think was, “Heeeey, get it!”

People in their 60’s showed some magical dance moves while others seemed to do no more than shuffle from side-to-side. Most people shout-sang along to the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s tunes, forming large circles that shifted back to their smaller group sizes. One young man, I imagined to be an IT professional by day, writing code and pushing his square black glasses up on his nose, demonstrated some fancy foot work, attracting the attention of two women (my age) who gyrated and sandwiched him repeatedly, perhaps viewing him as a veritable fountain of youth. He did not appear to mind one bit.

The bonus part of the evening? A full-on Michael-Jackson inspired floor show (EVERYONE GET OFF THE DANCE FLOOR) to Thriller and then some. Zombified dancers hit the floor and performed some awesome, choreographed moves (I confess, I looked around to see if Tate the Line Dance Leader might have transformed into Michael, and I still can’t confirm they are two separate people.) Everyone shouted and cheered, and returned to the dance floor with gusto when it was over. (Now through the end of October, and apparently they have a mega costume contest on the 24th, and I kind of want to go. I can create a killer costume!)

I think the best part about the entire experience was that the place is without any pretense. Nobody cares. Everyone’s having fun. It pretty much doesn’t matter if you can or can’t dance, if you look a certain way or weigh a certain amount or dress a certain way (though I did get very confused and thought a woman was not wearing any pants; the black lights do a number on certain colors, and her shrimp-colored leggings were transformed and seemingly disappeared!) As John put it, “Out there (in the rest of the world), I’m like a 7. In here? I’m an ELEVEN!” It’s not that there aren’t gorgeous beautiful people there (there are! I was terribly envious of the 6’+ blonde with legs that probably ended at my shoulder height, in her heels and short black shorts.) It’s just that – again – nobody really cares. For once, a place where your attitude counts – and outweighs – the superficial.

Written Saturday, publishing late late late so no beans get spilled on the proposal. 🙂
Funky Town
8300 Blue Pkwy
Kansas City, MO 64133

New Year’s Day

I say those words, and instantly hear Bono crooning the U2 song…. I … will be with you again…. It was a nice day, spent with the hubby, then after he went off to play backgammon, with more episodes of Deadwood and knitting. We talked about 2012, and what’s important, and how it was overall, a pretty darned good year. We’re each others’ rocks, our dogs are good and provide us with loads of entertainment, work is good, the house is good, the garden is good, and our hobbies delight and fulfill us. I still obsess and scramble with my thoughts and am far, far, far too hard on myself. If I really were the center of the universe, it would make sense. After all, I would need to be excellent all the time, just to keep order in the universe! But I am not, yet I never fail to find fault or construct my failings as the cause of everything that isn’t precisely perfect. I just got a couple poisoned apples along the way and they excel at creeping in and dismissing all that is good or true or kind to my soul. The irony is that there’s no way I would let someone else speak to me the way I speak to myself. Ball peen hammer, I have it. I hope this is the year I put it down, because I’m really going to try. It’s the only resolution I’m making, frankly. Find more self-compassion. Be as kind to myself as I am to those I love.

The other thing to remember? Most people are doing the best they can, with what they have, right now.* It usually has nothing to do with you, or me, or the universe or the moon. And that’s ok. (that’s directed at the voice that comes up and says, “You could do better.”)

*”If he coulda done better, he woulda. (hat-tip to my wonderful Auntie, because I had already written most of this before our chat tonight!)

Reclaiming One’s Youthful Spirit

Yeah, that’s what it’s called. We went out to The Brick last night, had a blast – caught the tail end of Howard Iceberg & the Titanics, saw our friends Hillary & Tommy perform in their band, “The Hillary Watts Riot”, and then our friend Camry was in the last band, “The Sexy Accident”.  Since the first band was slated to start at 9:30, I knew we had plenty of time to get there, so we went out to dinner at The Beacon on the way there. It’s weird to go out to dinner at 9 pm in the Midwest, and while I’d been pining for Chai Shai, their kitchen closes at 9. In any event, we had a great meal, headed down to the Brick, saw people, were seen, made new friends, had a great time just listening to music, sipping a beverage, people-watching. I also did an amazeballs job of parallel parking, if we’re recounting ALL the wins of the evening.

At one point, I leaned over to James and said, “OK, wearing a kilt is cool. Very cool.”

pause.

“But if you’re also drinking PBR when you’re wearing one, does it make you a hipster?”

He laughed, and while he couldn’t say if that particular formula was a hipster recipe, he did observe there were a number of hipsters around us. (In the wild! I felt like Jane Goodall.) I said, “Am I a hipster?” and he laughed even harder.

“No.”

“Why not? It’s because I’m fat, isn’t it. You can’t be fat and be a hipster, can you.”

Maybe part of being a hipster is caring a little too much about how you… present oneself, all the way down to what you drink and the brand of shoes? I dunno.  I did feel like I really needed about 3 large tattoos to “blend in”, that’s for sure. And the dogs were completely perplexed by our atypical hours – what is this, 2:30 a.m. and you’re just going to bed?

Well, they sure didn’t hold back at 6 am, 7 am, and finally I gave up around 8 am and hauled my un-hipster ass out of bed to let them out, make coffee & head to the garden to collect a basket of veggies to whip into a mega-breakfast scramble. Now, I bet on the cooking front, I can outpace any damned hipster there is. I sauteed home-grown garlic, onions, kale, peppers, tomatoes & tossed in some potato, eggs, spicy beef sausages & cheese for a smashingly flavorful, vitamin-packed breakfast.

Oh, and I had to take a two-hour nap before we could even go out. Definitely not a hipster.

Church of Stove

I got up this morning & hit the ground running!

James got a Weber smoker a week or so ago, and we had a turkey in the deep freeze, so we arranged to have our gardening friends Julie & Todd over to have a late afternoon meal. The turkey will be smoked, along with a large pan of homemade baked beans, and greens are simmering on the stove. Grandparents are also rumored to be showing up as well, so it will be a full table!

The beans are my first attempt – and a salesperson I was dining with on Friday sent me her recipe, as she also loves to cook & these beans are requested over and over again from her friends and family. I modified it a little bit (of course) by adding in some frozen Serrano peppers, and omitted the bacon because we had about half a pound of smoked pork butt that I chopped and added to the mixture. I doubled the recipe (of course) so hopefully these freeze well! Three kinds of beans – pork & beans, red kidney beans, and butter beans, plus ketchup, molasses, brown sugar, vinegar & mustard.  Here’s a shot of what didn’t fit in the pan:

Moving on from there (as I was cutting up onion after onion!) I sliced up some hot Italian sausage, and got that cooking with an onion. Added chicken broth, a huge bag of fresh spinach, and about five potatoes, cut into chunks. That’s simmering on the stove, and will get a last-minute addition of some half-and-half before serving. That’s going to be “early brunch”. Homegrown spinach is so fantastic!

On to the last onion… James went out in the rain and picked a giant tub trug of Siamese Dragon greens… basically a huge mixture of all sorts of greens, including bok choy, mustard/turnip greens, some crazy escarole-like fronds, and I started sauteing the onions and browning the delicious-looking smoked ham shank. I added a pitcher of water, a few cubes of vegetable bouillon, and got to work cleaning and stripping the greens from the tougher stems. Once a sink basin was full, in to the pot they went, and the process began again. Eventually, the huge bucket of greens compressed into a stockpot, where they will simmer all day – to be dressed at the table with some Serrano vinegar!

The house is redolent with savory smells… rain is falling outside, and it’s time for another cup of coffee. Enjoy your Sunday, no matter how you spend it!

 

Grateful

I sat here as the sun slid down across the horizon and whispered to myself, “I feel….” and waited. Waited for the right word to come forward. Eventually it did, and the word was “grateful.”

I’m grateful for the comments, messages and kind words that were sent my way in the hours since I hit “publish” on my post about suicide & depression.

I have written that post a thousand times in my head and my heart. I felt that I’d finally reached a point, where you just drop it all, the fears, the baggage, the pain, the vulnerability, and just speak from the heart, hoping to hell it doesn’t backlash on you in some unforeseen way, but also out of exhaustion from carrying it all these years. Even in the brevity of the moment, my teflon-coated heart braced for the worst. Especially as I saw the number of visitors climb, higher by the hour, in fact, the highest amount of traffic I’ve ever seen on my blog.

It never came. There’s been silence, sure. Some people just don’t know what to say. I get that. This isn’t funny or comfortable or easy.

So, thank you. Thanks for your comments, the love, for your own stories – from so many perspectives. It really comes down to the ability to give voice to that pain, to try and take away the shame, to recognize that so many people’s lives are intersected by depression, suicide, mental illness, whether their own or a loved one. While it’s sad to see there are so many people in that shared space, it’s also oddly comforting, because I know only too well that it’s 100x worse when you feel like you’re alone. My soul aches for everyone’s struggles and sadness, but my spirit soars to see and hear the conversations, the new openness that  freed them to speak and acknowledge their own journey or a family member’s. I know there are a lot of hearts out there that hurt, that are aching right here in our city. My heart still rails against reality, thinking somehow we could turn back the clocks, stop time, save these men from their demons.  I hear Auden in my head, a drumming poem of grief.

Two nights ago, I made a promise to my husband, one we shared equally, that if it ever feels that bad in the future, to speak up. Just say something. No judgment, no arguments, no criticism, just wave the flag. I hesitated for a moment – because I know how hard it is to really do it, especially in that hard, painful space. I also knew that if I made that promise, I’d have to keep it. Could I keep it? I promised I would.

I’m heartened by the conversations I’ve seen in the media, speaking so openly and frankly about depression. Included in that discussion has been the encouragement to seek help, keep seeking help, keep searching, find a way to stay alive and get through it all. Make that promise, if you’ve seen even a small bit of yourself in all of this. To yourself, to your partner, to a friend or family member, just make it. Promise to wave the flag. Keep your promise. Please.

 

“Not knowing when the dawn will come, I open every door.”

Emily Dickinson

The Flavor of “WOW”

We had our friends Jeremy & Abby over on a Saturday night recently; we realized it had been a really long time since we’d last seen them, since they’d, y’know, had another kid and the oldest was walking and talking.  They brought the kiddos Wesley & Audrey along, and they were a real treat – well-behaved, hilarious, and cute as all get-out.

Jeremy was disappointed the dinner date took place past his birthday, since last time he’d been at our house, he’d paged ahead on the calendar and put his birthday on it, a little surprise waiting a couple months out. (We keep the house calendar hanging in the bathroom over the toilet…it’s the best way to keep dates and plans fresh in the minds of those who stand to pee….)

Anyway, they brought some wine and dessert – and Wesley was very proud that he had helped pick out the cookies at the store (sugar cookies with blue frosting and red & white sprinkles). He asked me if I knew what kind they were, and playing along I said I didn’t, but could he tell me? “They have the flavor of WOW,” he said quite seriously. We all agreed that was pretty special indeed.

Later, after dinner, he was playing on the Wii in the living room, and he came back into the dining room, sidling up to James and looking at me. “Jennifer?” he asked, very seriously. “Yes?” I replied.

“Can James come play the Wii with me?”

That one was a lot harder to not burst out laughing, but chuckling, I did agree that in a little bit, James could come and play with him.

Lots of laughter, lots of fun, an evening flavored with Wow.

How I Came To Detest Neil Diamond

I got a lot of flak on Friday when I posted on Facebook via my phone that I was going insane at the nail salon, as they were playing Neil Diamond songs back-to-back. I was panicked because I couldn’t find my headphones, but eventually did, plugged them in and drowned out the insanity with some Mumford & Sons.
Turns out, a lot of people really love Neil Diamond, judging from the comments. (It never got ugly, these friends just started peppering me with lyrics as a form of torture.) So here is the backstory for why I am NOT a fan.

It started when I was very young – 6 years old or so? I would get off the school bus at my babysitter’s, who had a son in my class. I clearly remember two things about my babysitter: she had an impressive collection of nail-wire “art” in her living room (you know, like big ships at sea or animals, made from wire criss-crossing on a black background) and she had an undying love for Neil Diamond. She was SO EXCITED when she picked up a new 45 and she would play the song over, and over, and over again. I particularly remember when she got “Reverend Blue Jeans” (as I thought he was singing, anyway, the song was  “Forever in Blue Jeans”, no matter how many times I heard it. Which was a lot.

Fast forward 15 years. I’m out of college, and working at Carson Pirie Scott’s Menswear department – dress shirts and ties. The music that played overhead was Muzak, and it was pretty much the same dreck every day. And it never failed that there would be an hour of Neil Diamond music, done to Muzak, and for whatever reason, it just made me crazy. Because it’s earwormy to begin with, and then you mash it down and take out the words and synthesize it and now you’ve created a shadow monster, something that is ten-times worse than it’s source, like artificially-flavored chocolate chips. Better to have none at all than that lingering chemical taste in your mouth, I say.

I do make an exception for the hilarious Will Ferrell send-up of Behind the Music on SNL. That’s a case of improving on the original, imho.


Neil Diamond Storytellers
Uploaded by JimGoodwine. – Click for more funny videos.

And here’s a great example of the art I was trying to describe. I’m pretty sure she had a big ol’ ship over the sofa.

I know there are plenty of superfans who love Neil Diamond. But I was raised on the Beatles, the Stones, Bob Dylan, folk music and protest songs. Balladeers like Neil weren’t welcome at our house, and his music is like fingers on the chalkboard of my soul. But I also know that not every Neil Diamond enthusiast embraces wire ship art, either. So let’s celebrate what we can agree on – and I’m betting it’s a universal dislike of those faux chocolate chips!

For the Love of a Bestie

It’s never been a big secret, my dislike of musicals. It’s not that I hate ALL of them, certainly – in fact, it surprises even me, the number I’ve seen and enjoyed. Chicago, Sweeney Todd, The Producers (the original), Rocky Horror Picture Show, Rent…. I’m sure there a couple more in there, but as you can also see from that list, I’m not into classic musicals and apparently, if it’s not got twisted humor, then there should be death.  OK. So, my BFF, Beth, has teased me forever about musicals, because she loveloveloveLOVES them, and Moulin Rouge is her favorite. She even told me the other night at knit night that she now had it on Blu-Ray so the original DVD could be mine for a low low price.  It’s always been a funny piece of our friendship.  So much so, that on October 22, 2010, she sent me an email with this text:

I’ll quite pestering you about watching musicals if you make me these.
Not an easy bargain for either, but you might win in the end.

(Pattern linked to designer’s blog so all can access. Ravelry pattern link here.)

Yes, Moulin Rouge MITTENS.

Now, what made this even funnier is that I have never been much for colorwork, the technique required to create these things. In fact, I think I’ve even been heard to proclaim how much I hate it. But a seed was planted. A challenging seed. And as I continued to knit on my holiday presents, my brain thought and buzzed and finally concluded I could knit these things. Not to end the banter, never, but because it would be a fantastic present.  A present knit with adoration and humor, and hopefully, not too garbled and jacked up, since my skill set in the technique category was low.

I won’t lie and say it was easy. Especially at first. I started out using Knit Picks Palette, as three of the ten photo-containing projects on Ravelry had been knit with it, and I was ordering some other yarn for holiday knitting. Egads. First of all, it’s splitty as hell. Second of all, even on a Size 0 (that’s tiny, for the non-knitters who have read this far), they were coming out grotesquely huge. I made a mistake in the chart, and decided to start over. (This was giving me some practice on my stranding!) Second attempt? Still came out huge. I couldn’t believe it. So I turned to the trusty folks at the Loopy Ewe, and ordered yarn from their new solid series of “house yarn”. Barn Red and Sand. And oh what a difference yarn twist can make. I’ll confess, there are a couple rounds here and there that are a smidge tighter than they ought to be. But in the end, they made a certain birthday bestie very happy, and I’m damned proud of the knitting accomplishment – because in the process, I came to enjoy knitting colorwork, and even have plans for some other projects now.  What’s especially funny to me is that I watched a TON of MI:5, the British spy drama, while knitting on those, and it often feels like the things we watch are knit up into the stitches, as we look at something we’ve made and recall what we were doing while they were created – so they truly capture both of our passions.  May she wear them for years to come!

Moulin Rouge Mittens

Nommy Sunday

One of the wonderful things that hobbies bring you includes new friends. Between knitting (that would be me) and duck hunting and tomato growing (that would be James), we have an eclectic, delightful group of friends.  Last week, we had the Bhut Jolokia tasting, and we were gifted a jar of homemade mustard from Tomato Town’s Todd & Julie (Farmer T and Farmer J, respectively). Made with whiskey. It looked stupendous:

Homemade Pretzels and Mustard

The first thing James said (after thank you!) was that we needed to get some good bratwurst from Fritz’s. I said, “Homemade pretzels.” Now that we’ve got the pretzels done and covered, I’m all for bratwurst next. This mustard was heavenly! While my pretzels turned out beautifully and delicious, the mustard was really the star of the show.

Homemade Pretzels and Mustard

I made the pretzels from Alton Brown’s recipe; they probably could have been rolled out thinner, but the taste was great. I used Mediterranean Sea Salt instead of pretzel salt, and while I followed the directions to a T with the parchment paper and the oil, I will not go that route again, as the pretzels stuck to the paper and were frustrating to try and remove. Silpats would probably work better.

Homemade Pretzels and Mustard

Utterly delicious! Thanks Julie & Todd!

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