Poppies veterans
Last night Mick and I watched about an hour of The Hurt Locker. Midway through I asked Mick to pause it and I said “I hate this movie.” I expected him to be disappointed that I no longer wanted to watch it with him. Instead he said “It’s boring.” So we turned it off and watched Glee.

I’d never compare Glee to an Oscar-winning movie, but The Hurt Locker filled me with anxiety. Too much chaos, not enough story. That said, I always feel a little guilty for my disinterest in war films, as though I’m not appreciative of the tremendously brave work soldiers do. They have to live through it and I can’t even watch a film about it? Boy, I am a wuss (not that I think that was ever in question).

One of my favorite blogs, The Pioneer Woman, has recently run a series of photos called “Coming Home.” I’ll tell you, nothing puts a lump in my throat faster than seeing pictures of soldiers coming home to their loved ones. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be separated from my loved ones for months on end like that, not to mention the things soldiers witness on a daily basis while they’re serving in a war. How could life ever be the same after that?

When I was a kid, Memorial Day was the day we went to the cemetery to visit my Grandpa O’Neill’s grave in Santa Rosa. He died when I was seven. I remember the cemetery set up flags all along the perimeter and the veterans sold red poppies. I would walk among the rows of graves, reading the stones. The ones with photos held a particular fascination for me, and a few featured soldiers in uniform.

I will be spending this Memorial Day with friends eating my fill of Spanish food like tortilla de patata and chorizo, a far cry from the Memorial Days of my childhood. But along with this, I will be thinking about all the soldiers who have given their lives in service of our country as well as the soldiers who are currently serving. Politics aside, they are doing their job, and it’s a tough one, one that I would never want to do. For that, I am thankful.

And of course, I’ll be thinking about my Grandpa O’Neill who died so many years ago, and my Grandma Nancy who now lies beside him. Neither of them were veterans, but for me, Memorial Day will always remind me of that cemetery in Santa Rosa, California.

Hangman_sign4 Yesterday I went to one of my favorite places. It's a huge thrift store, located on Main Street. The variety of merchandise, including new and vintage clothing and accessories, home decor items, yarn, books, and more, is not to be believed. Strolling through it's rooms (did I mention it's huge?) takes hours because the hunt for great finds is part of the fun, and sometimes they're hidden. It's a truly wonderful place.

Except it doesn't actually exist, at least not that I'm aware of. Visiting this thrift store is a recurring dream I have. I'm not sure exactly where it's located, but it's reminiscent of the Main Street of the town I grew up in, Placerville, California.*

I don't know what triggers this dream. I've been fixated on updating my home's interior lately, which might be part of the reason. I love thrift stores, garage sales, and flea markets, and I don't get to visit them often enough–is the dream the result of my unfulfilled need to bargain shop?

Whatever the reason, I've been dreaming about this magical thrift shop for years now, and it's so vivid that I wake up not knowing if it's actually real or not. I always feel a little sad when I realize it's a figment of my imagination.

Let's open the floor to commenters: Do you have a recurring dream(s)? Or better yet, do you have any thrift shop/garage sale finds you're particularly proud of?

*The sign above is from the Hangman's Tree, a local bar in Placerville, which unfortunately is closed down (or soon to be). Too bad. Placerville is an old Gold Rush Town and this particular bar sported an effigy hanging from it's roof. I love that sort of thing. Someday I want to write a novel set there during the Gold Rush period.

Lately I've fallen back into a bad habit. I've been reading the comments posted on news stories–and not just any news stories, the controversial ones. I read the comments on reports I know are going to bring out the crazies (and by crazy I mean anyone who doesn't agree with my point of view). I'm kind of just kidding about what I deem to be crazy but you know what I mean. It's like I'm purposely searching for things that will get my dander up.

In the early days of the Internet, I was naive and earnestly commented on issues that were important to me. I never engaged in spewing hate, but I confess to trying, now and then, to present my argument in a thoughtful way to try to sway other commenters. It wasn't long before I realized that spirited debate was mostly not the point. Comments on news and other stories were and are just an opportunity for the angry, often prejudiced, mob to spread their venom. I quickly learned that message boards and reader comments were not the place for me.

Some people get off on this sort of thing, but I take everything so personally. I recently read a news story about Los Angeles boycotting the state of Arizona in response to their new immigration law and headed straight to the comments because I knew they were going to be rough. A lot of people didn't have very nice things to say about the city I live in and love. And I actually got depressed.

But like I said, this has sort of become a habit with me lately. For the last year or so I've been visiting the website of the Catholic League simply because I know there's going to be something on it that's going to piss me off. That's a little sick, no?

I mostly find that when I'm writing (or editing/revising, as I am now), I tend to get on a roll where the words flow freely and then I suddenly hit a brick wall and I'm stuck (for instance, I'm stuck now and I decided to take a break to write up this post). The first thing I want is distraction, and we all know their ain't nothing more distracting than the Internet. And when I'm finished checking email, CNN, Facebook, etc. and those words still aren't flowing, the next thing I do is feed my compulsion for negativity via blogs, websites, and reader comments that I know will ruffle my feathers.

I am declaring a moratorium, here and now, on this behavior because it serves no purpose other than to upset me. I have enough going on in this head of mine–I definitely don't need to look for negativity elsewhere.

What about you? Are you sometimes drawn to negativity or do you try only to engage in positivity?

On this day in 1951, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were sentenced to death for conspiring to commit espionage for the Soviet Union.

I bring this to your attention not to discuss the guilt or innocence of the Rosenbergs, even though it is clear their trial and subsequent execution was fraught with questions. But if you are at all interested in the story of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, HUAC, or McCarthyism, you should see the documentary "Heir to an Execution."

The documentary was directed by the Rosenberg's granddaughter, Ivy Meerapol, and it's fascinating. It deals with a particularly ugly period of American history, and frankly, one that we all need to understand more about.

I am interested in this story because I had a neighbor and dear friend who
was called to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee
(HUAC) around the same time the Rosenbergs were on trial–in fact, when
she tried to hire an attorney she was refused by one because he was
involved in the Rosenberg trial. My friend was a communist–like so
many young people who grew up during the depression, she believed
communism brought with it an opportunity for all people to have enough.
Enough of everything humans need to survive and lead productive lives. My friend, who passed away at age 91 in 2008, eventually turned away from communism when Stalin's atrocities were brought to light, but she remained committed to the cause of social justice and economic well-being for all humans throughout her life.

I will leave you with this: We hear the words Socialist, Communist, and even Nazi thrown around a lot these days. I will not comment on the labels of Socialist or Communist, even though those who use them to describe our current government and President are misled, at best. I would encourage those who believe these terms are appropriate to study communism and socialism and determine for themselves whether or not the words apply.

Use of the term Nazi to describe our President is shameful and not to be tolerated by anyone, regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum. The Nazis murdered upwards of six million people. In light of this, is anyone seriously prepared to justify the label of Nazi for President Obama or anyone associated with him? If so, pull your head out of your ass and put it into a history book instead.

I'm not sure what caused this, but in trying to figure out what I wanted to write about today, I suddenly thought of Fashion Plates. Remember those? The plastic plates with raised clothing designs so that when you put a paper and rubbed a crayon or pencil over them it transferred the design?

Let me refresh your memory:


Image from Retroland.com

Though I'm by no means a fashionista, and never have been, Fashion Plates was one of my favorite toys of all time.

Ahhh, the memories. Let's continue, shall we?

Someone on my class forum mentioned another favorite the other day: Encyclopedia Brown. These books were actually a part of my brother' collection, but I read them voraciously. Perhaps this is why I love detective fiction so much today?

Encyclopedia Brown

And that reminds me of another great series: Choose Your Own Adventure. What a great concept. "You're the Star of Your Own Story!" No wonder I want to be a writer today.

Image from Vintage Computing & Gaming

As much as I loved books, I was a girly-girl and loved girly-girl things. Like Barbie. Yes, I loved me some Barbie and still do. Of course, Barbie had some stylin' accessories. This was what I got for Christmas when I was 9:

Remember Dittos? I was obsessed with having a pair of Dittos pants:


Image from Retroland.com

All of the coolest girls had them but they were expensive and my wardrobe back then mainly came from K-Mart. One lucky year I did get a pair, they were hunter green and I'm sure I wore them until they were in tatters.

Well, I could go on and on. Thanks for sharing my walk down memory lane. While were at it, why don't you share a few of your favorite childhood items? C'mon, you know you want to.

What is a blog for, if not to be self-indulgent? Especially in a weekend post. In this spirit, I present to you: 5 Things You Might Not Know About Me:

1) I have a recurring dream in which I'm friends with Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt.

2) My current TV obsession is watching reruns of the Dick Van Dyke Show.

3) My favorite curse is "mother f*cker." I know it's offensive, but I can't help it.

4) I am fairly certain I don't get the recommended daily allowance of any nutrient or vitamin, pretty much ever.

5) I really like to gamble.

Don't be shy. What 5 things might I not know about you?

Ah!  It's fall, my favorite time of year.  Actually, I'm not sure if it's actually fall yet, but let's pretend it is for the sake of this post.

You may have noticed that I haven't been posting lately.  I haven't been doing much of anything lately.  All right, that's not strictly true, but I certainly haven't been writing about or taking pictures of anything I've been doing, so no blog posts.

But I'm thinking that has to change, because if there's one thing I hate, it's a blog that's never updated.  I've been feeling constrained by my blog a little bit though because I've tried really hard to keep it about my creative endeavors and not much about personal matters or opinions.  It's not that I want to get all poltical or touchy-feely on you, but hey, these are troubled times, and sometimes the girl has thoughts that don't have much to do with gemstones or yarn or lipgloss.

So with change in mind, I've updated my blog "theme," and I plan on expanding, at least slightly, the topics I blog about in the hope that I may be a little more prolific.  Lest you think this is blogging for the sake of blogging, it's actually an attempt to write something, anything, on a regular basis, because this is a habit I simply must get into if I'm ever going to get that freakin' novel written.

Let's begin, shall we, with 5 things you may or may not know about me, but that inform many of my choices and attitudes about life:

1)  I don't work for a living, which is a really cool thing.  However, just like everyone else, I struggle with identity and finding a "role" for myself, which is why I'm constantly doing new things.  Sometimes people use their jobs to define themselves–it's so easy to say I'm a "doctor" or "lawyer" or "teacher," but I can't do that and honestly, it makes me feel awkward.

2)  I am registered as a Green Party member, but I mostly vote democratic.  I considered registering as a democrat for this election, but decided against it because I still find the democratic party and many of it's politicians way too conservative for my liking.  I guess I would define myself as Green, with some vague Libertarian tendencies, 'cause basically, I don't want to be fucked with by the government.

3)  I am an atheist.  I don't believe in God or any other "magical thinking."  What I should probably say though is that there is no [scientific] evidence to support the existence of God, and so I don't believe.  Since I come from a religious (Catholic) background, it might be easy to assume that I am atheist out of anger or resentment but this is simply not the case.  My personal quest for truth led me to this place and I do not regret it, nor do I apologize for it.

4)  I struggle with my weight and self-image.  Over the last three years I have lost over 25 pounds and more or less successfully maintained the loss.  For the first time since childhood I actually have a positive image of my body and in general, myself.  It would've been nice if this had come about through something other than weight loss (like simply accepting myself for who I am and disregarding societal pressure to become thinner) but ultimately, I don't really care.  I am proud of this accomplishment and am thankful to finally have the weight off my body and more importantly, off my mind.  Which isn't to say that I don't think about it, because in order to maintain my weight I've obviously got to think about what I eat.  It's just not anywhere near as punitive as it once was.

5)  I am not really a feminist, except when it comes to reproductive choice issues.  I am a woman who has chosen not to procreate and I believe passionately in women having easy and affordable (like free) birth control on demand.  Someone told me once "If men were the ones who had children, there would be abortion on demand."  Methinks this might be true.  That said, I believe in pregnancy prevention, not necessarily in pregnancy termination, and folks, if you think your reproductive choice isn't at risk, you're wrong.  My last doctor actually refused to prescribe me birth control on the grounds of her religious beliefs.  I left the office in tears, and then felt a sort of terror.

If you have a blog it would be cool if you wrote 5 things about yourself–but dig deep–at least deeper than "my favorite color is blue."  Put the link in my comments because I'd love to read them!