Happy New Year, and may you see many vegetable people in 2012

I was just glancing through “Old Friend from Far Away,” thinking it’s been a while since I just wrote randomly from a writing prompt.  I stopped on a page titled “Radish.”  The first paragraph opens:

“This is a wish. When you are writing about a radish, that you and the radish meet face to face. That you stay specific, present, and direct and through your true intention the radish becomes RADISH. You instantaneously summon the particular and also give life to the essence of that buried root plucked up red and edible.”

It’s good advice, I think, as I’m typing it out now, but that’s not what came to mind when I began to read.  I got distracted by memories of vegetable people.  I went through an odd phase a long time ago, when I couldn’t help but compare people to vegetables.  Visually, I mean.  One night, I was sitting at IHOP with my roommate and best friend, and someone walked in and I said, “Doesn’t that woman look like broccoli?”  My friend worked hard not to spit out his coffee, but in the end, he agreed that she looked surprisingly like a stalk of broccoli.  I can’t picture her anymore or I’d describe it for you better.  You might think people don’t really look a lot like vegetables, and maybe you’re right.  But, I challenge you to give it some thought.  You may not always see a vegetable when you look at a person, but you will be surprised how often you do, if you just think about it.  Leave your mind open to the fact that people can resemble, or at the very least, remind you of, vegetables.  Or other foods, if you need a broader target.

In the next few days, you might find yourself noticing that someone with a mottled complexion makes you think of frozen mixed vegetables, or someone that stands stiffly brings to mind a carrot.  Perhaps a balding man reminds you of a peeled onion, or someone else with spiky hair makes you think of the root end of a green onion.  The point is, allowing yourself the extra space to think about random things like this might make you smile just a little more frequently, and we could all stand to do that.  My New Year’s resolution is to see more vegetable people this year.

I haven’t given it a lot of thought until this minute, but if I had to classify a few of the characters I’ve introduced you to here, I’d say this.  My partner most resembles a stalk of celery (she’ll probably want to smack me for this comparison, but I mean no harm).  Barefoot boss – he’s a fingerling potato.  Gopher-man, hmm, I’ll have to come back to him – a cabbage, maybe.  Long Back Guy, an unripened Fresno chili.  The Guatemalan, a pineapple.  Cat Power, a roma tomato. Grass-phobia girl, a crimini mushroom.  Me, I probably look sort of like an eggplant.  Happy New Year!


I titled this post Gratitude because I’m truly grateful for having been recognized with some more blogger awards from a fellow writer, Julie Farrar, who writes at Traveling Through.  I’ve been doing this for just over a month, and loving it the whole time, due in large part to the people that I’ve connected with through my writing and theirs.  Julie tagged me with two awards, The Stylish Blogger, and the Versatile Blogger.  Julie’s comments about my writing put a smile on my face, and I’m thankful that she shared them.

“It’s an anonymous blog, with language and stories I envy to no end.”

In keeping with the spirit of the awards, here are seven more random things about me:

1 – Stylish is another term those that know me would never use to describe me (though, again, I appreciate the shout-out from Julie, regardless of the name of the award!).  I am the kind of person that buys 8 of the same shirt in different colors.  6 or 8 short-sleeve T-shirts, 6 or 8 long-sleeve T-shirts, 2 pairs of jeans in slightly different washes.  I can never manage to have more than two pairs of jeans at a time.  I generally wear one pair of shoes until they wear out so badly I really can’t wear them anymore.  As the shoes or jeans approach this point of disrepair, I panic a little at the thought of having to find a new pair.

2 – A few years ago, I found myself at the end of a 9-year relationship, and though I wanted to get out and meet new people, I had pretty much forgotten how.  Actually, I never really knew how.  A great friend told me, though, that all I needed was a haircut and a new pair of shoes.  I had been wearing sort of outdoorsy shoes because I have the flattest feet ever recorded in the history of flat feet, and I need really wide shoes.  I was informed that these shoes would completely impede my ability to get a date, so with the help of another good friend who is fanatical about shoes, I started buying tennis shoes that apparently have some style to them.  A few weeks after I bought my first pair, I was out for drinks with the friend who had coached me into this pair, and a random stranger on the street stopped and said, “Oh my god!  Where did you get those awesome retro shoes?!”  My shoe coach (a.k.a. grass-phobia girl), was prouder than a peacock, and could barely wait until the stranger was out of earshot to proclaim her brilliance.  In the end, my current mate wouldn’t have cared whether I wore the geeky outdoorsy shoes or these new retro-ish sneakers, but the coaching of my friends gave me a new confidence I sorely needed at the time, and for that, I will be eternally grateful.

3 – When I was a kid, my favorite food was mashed potatoes.  Luckily, I grew up in the Midwest, where potatoes are part of practically every meal, but I even loved the sticky, gloppy, made-from-dehydrated-flakes-in-the-school-cafeteria mashed potatoes.  The stickier, the better.  I have a vivid memory from 4th grade, going through the lunch line at school.  The woman whose job it was to dish out the mashed potatoes asked me if I wanted butter or gravy on them.  I was paralyzed with trying to decide.  They were both so enticing!  I held up the line forever, deep in thought about which I might like more, and she finally just gave me both so she could get me out of her hair.  Today I still have a horrible time deciding what to eat at restaurants.  I have to imagine – visually picture – myself eating each thing under consideration, and even then I sometimes hold up the ordering for a long time.  Unless I’m at a restaurant that serves tapas or small plates – then I just order a little of everything.

4 – When I was fifteen, I wanted to be a cowboy.  I was already a tomboy, so it wouldn’t have been too great a leap.  My grandfather took me to Wyoming on a hunting trip.  It was my first foray out of corn and dairy country, and the second I saw the Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota, I developed my own weird version of the romantic West.  When we got to Wyoming and met the people that lived there, I only got sucked in further.  We first stayed in a seedy motel near the ranch of a couple named Everett and Fredda Lou, around Lusk, Wyoming.  There were few paved roads in their neck of the woods, and they managed over 100,000 acres of cattle ranch.  Later, we stayed at my grandpa’s long-time friend, Melvin’s.  Melvin was a big, stocky guy, with a mustache that trailed down past the corners of his mouth to his chin.  He always wore a light-colored cowboy hat with a dark sweat-stained band just above the brim of the hat.  He taught me how to properly shape a cowboy hat over steaming water so you could take the “new” out of it right away.  It was very important that a cowboy hat be original, yours, and never look new.  He let me ride his ATV, and I couldn’t stop myself from going faster and faster, even as I started to lose control now and then.  Once, a tire jumped out of the rut on a dry dirt rode, changed my course, and I drove straight through a wire fence at high speed.  Probably lucky I didn’t kill myself.  I sometimes wonder whether it was really some primal draw to the rough and tumble area of the West we were in that made me love it so much, or whether I’d have had the same reaction to any place I might have gone outside the Midwest.  Regardless, those are memories I treasure, even if they expose my inner dork.

5 – I moved out at 18, and after two not-so-great roommate experiences, I finally got an apartment with a guy who is still one of my best friends.  We were really broke, though.  We could barely pay our rent, often had to have friends bring us leftover food from the restaurants they worked at, and never had cash to spare to go out and do much of anything.  We did one of three things.  If we could spare a couple dollars, we would sit at IHOP, sometimes for 8 or 10 hours at a time with random friends dropping in and out, drinking that never-ending-cup-of-coffee or bottomless-pot-of-coffee, or whatever it was they called it, and reading Trivial Pursuit cards to entertain each other.  If our cable wasn’t turned off, we watched lots of talk shows – Jenny Jones, Jerry Springer – you know – the classics.  We tried to come up with ideas that might get us on those shows.  When we missed the talk shows themselves, we watched Talk Soup late at night to get the lowdown on what we missed.  Finally, when neither of those were options, and I’d managed to convince my grandparents to let me borrow their car, we’d sit in the parking lot of our apartment building in the car, listening to a very cheesy love songs station on the radio, singing sappy songs, laughing, and lamenting about our poor lives.  I often miss those days.

6 – Before my first car ( a 1980 Mazda 626) ended up in a metal graveyard, which precipitated the borrowing of my grandparents car mentioned above, it had some unusual behavior.  The car either had issues with the electrical wiring, or was possessed by the ghost of a gremlin.  I could turn the car off, take the key out of the ignition, get out, walk ten feet or more away, and then the doors would lock and unlock themselves in a frequent stuttering rhythm.  It was like watching popcorn pop.  My sister’s boyfriend once offered to fix the car for me when something went wrong – a bad starter or cylinoid, or something – I don’t quite remember what.  When he gave it back to me, the car would no longer go in reverse.  My roommate and I often had to sit in our seats with the doors open, each pushing with one leg hanging outside the car to back out of our parking spot.

7 – I think I’ve made clear by now that I am not a girly kind of girl – I grew up complete tomboy-style, loved to knock down boys, am a pretty good shot with a rifle or a shotgun – you get the picture.  That is why I find it particularly odd that the first thing I ever stole as a little kid was candy lipstick.  I don’t think I meant to steal it, but perhaps I’ve fooled myself into thinking that because I just can’t handle the shame of it all (the lipstick part, not the stealing part).  I was five, and when we got home and my mother realized I had the candy lipstick, which she had not paid for, she screamed at me, tossed me back in the car, drove back to the store, and made me go in with my tear-streaked face and my barely audible shy kid voice to apologize and pay for my pinched lipstick.

Now, to pass on the recognition to some fellow bloggers…  Enjoy!

Bottlecaps and Broken Bits – Besides having a great title for his blog, this guy writes some awesome stuff about food, drink, and travel, accompanied by his photography.  He is currently recording his travels in Thailand, a place I have visited twice, and would highly recommend to anyone.

The Wandering Atavist – Check out this blog whenever you need a good laugh.  The Atavist describes himself as a “fish out of water,” and you will likely agree as you read his hilarious posts about trying to be a normal functioning member of society, especially when he’s around anyone of the female persuasion.

Grammar Divas – This blog is great at dispelling grammatical myths and giving practical pointers on writing.  I check it regularly and you should, too.

bassasblog – This is a highly entertaining blog from the perspective of a shepherd dog.  I have to admit I found this blog from someone else’s listing of blogs they love, but since then, I’ve enjoyed every single post, so I’m going to share it again.

Dick Bishop’s Blog – This is a new find for me, but after reading just a few posts, I am enamored with Dick’s writing.  He offers a unique perspective, and posts that have some meat on their bones.  Lots of “tip” stories about blog writing say you shouldn’t write posts that are too long because people will get bored and skip them – I think Dick’s blog proves why you should not censor yourself to any given length, but you should write what you want to write and end it when it ends.

Thanks, Amy

Amy at Tilden Bar None Ranch sent me two blogger awards a few days ago!  I was pleasantly surprised to be recognized by her, and am more appreciative than you know that even one person finds my writing interesting.  The awards she bestowed on my humble attempts at writing are ‘The Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award,’ and the ‘Versatile Blogger.’ What I appreciated most, though, was her description of my blog:

If you like to read about real life, follow this link to a down to earth, well rounded blog. It’s well written and one of my favorites.

Wow, who could ask for a better sound bite than that?  I certainly aim to be down to earth, and I’m glad that’s coming through in my writing. Now, for the obligatory seven random facts about myself…

1 – No one that knows me would ever choose the phrase “irresistibly sweet” to describe me (though I’m grateful for the shout-out from Amy!).  People tend to see me as nice, fairly generous, supportive – plenty of positive things – but I’m more introvert than extrovert, more serious than playful, more straight-faced than expressive, thus sweet is generally left off of the list of adjectives used to describe me.

2 – I won a women’s state championship in high school for trap shooting.  Have I mentioned I grew up in the Midwest?  Also in high school, I entered a competition with my mother called the ‘Annual Father/Son Trap Shoot,’ and they graciously changed the name of the event to the ‘Annual Parent/Child Trap Shoot.’  We won.  Not just the name change, but the event.

3 – I am fairly obsessive about a number of things, like keeping my house really clean, multi-tasking to the degree that I stop and think what I might be able to carry with me if I move from one room to another so I can make that walk more productive, writing lists multiple times because I need all like items to be grouped together and that almost never works out perfectly the first time I make a list.  Speaking of categories, I’ve been thinking of using my own post categories as writing prompts because I keep creating new ones and the list grows and grows, but too many categories have only one entry in them.  It’s just a little OCD, not a lot.

4 – I get bored very easily, which is maybe why I’m more of a generalist than a specialist at anything.  You’ll have noticed if you visit my blog directly that I’ve changed the design twice in the past six weeks.  I’m just glad there are more themes created all the time, so I have choices when I do get bored.

5 – My favorite place to hang out, when I bother to get out of the house, is a ridiculous dive karaoke bar called “Mel-O-Dee,” which is located in a strip mall.  They have red velvet wallpaper, cheap and strong drinks, and even lasers and a fog machine on the dance floor.  You hear everything from truly horrific singing to some singing that is quite good – but the place is friendly to those horrid singers and everyone always seems to be having a lot of fun.  In keeping with my introvert nature, I’m one of those annoying people who will only sing after plenty of drinks, and I am told that even then, no one can actually hear my voice.

6 – Sometimes when I decide to try a new hobby, I convince myself that if I spend a lot of money on it, I will be more likely to stick with it.  It rarely works.  For instance, I decided 5 or 6 years ago to take guitar lessons.  I bought two guitars (couldn’t decide between electric and acoustic, so I got one of each), much more expensive guitars than made sense for a beginner, and some fancy electronic equipment that would have allowed me to play the electric guitar as though it were plugged into one of a million different amps.  I think I tried it out once.  I bought the complete original scores to all Beatles music – it’s a huge book that looks beautiful, but I never used it.  Luckily, I have a friend who plays guitar, so after I gave up the charade, I have been able to give some of these things to someone who loves them and actually uses them.

7 – I am dying for DirecTV and Tivo to get their act together and release a new Satellite Tivo HD DVR.  It broke my heart when they stopped working together and I was forced to buy a DirecTV branded HD DVR.  I live with it because I have to, but I long for the Tivo interface.  They announced a new partnership 3 years ago, and still have yet to release the product!

Next, here are some blogs I thing are very worthy of recognition, awards, highlights, shout-outs – whatever you feel like calling them…

Flight Platform Living – A mother’s journey with precious souls and Smith Magenis Syndrome is one woman’s uplifting tribute to the trials, tribulations, triumphs, and gifts she encounters on her journey with her family.  This is reading that will put you in a good mood whenever you need it.

Helen Writes – An interesting mix of tips on writing short stories, fiction, and crime, book reviews, and odes to Agatha Christie have repeatedly brought me back to Helen’s blog.  I happen to be a big fan of crime stories, both written and in film/television, but this blog is a good read for anyone, regardless of genre preferences.

Michael Haynes – A Writing Blog is full of interesting story dissections, updates on Michael’s writing, and regular links to other great content.  He has published both fiction and non-fiction, and I love the effort he makes to dissect and understand how other authors accomplish what they do in their writing.

The Voice of Stobby is wonderful.  Stobby is the imaginary friend/inner voice of writer, N. Scott.  The concept is great, and the writing very entertaining.  Make sure to read ‘Who’s Stobby?’ when you visit.

Stories Connect Love Heals is a brilliant blog written by Charlie Hale.  He tells stories that  take you on journeys, and writes of songs, history, and genealogy.  I’m sure Charlie has many followers, but his is one of my favorites, so I wanted to share it here.