Snow… a little… dumb-asses a plenty…

If you took ALL of the snow that fell in our area this morning, you may be able to pack your car with snow… seriously.

That being said, you’d think that this was the first real snow of the year… clue, it isn’t… we almost had a white Christmas for cripes sakes.

Traffic was stupid, people were in the ditch and there were imaginary stop signs worthy of Colorado’s I-225 all over the place.  It took me about 15 minutes to go from I-94 to I-394 because every rich twit in their overpriced SUVs couldn’t manage to traverse a non-tricky curve that happened to go under a bridge.  Traffic on 94 was backed up to Hudson because over-priced grocery getters with 4WD couldn’t make a curve…

The curve wasn’t a challenge in my standard Corolla…

I also saw a Liberty failing to do a “Jeep thing” — (i.e. take an unauthorized short-cut) — and a variety of other crashes.

Guys — it’s simple… don’t drive like an idiot.  Use your brakes as little as possible and don’t think you can zoom around like it’s July.  Hello— you do live in Minnesota –otherwise known as Minnesnowda… duh.. if you can’t drive in the snow, move to southern Cali..

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Teaching hybrid classes…

I just wrote a post about teaching hybrid classes on my philosophy class blog…

Since more than a few of y’all teach at the college level, you might enjoy it…. so here it is.

Rock n Roll!!

We did our first full-on rock-n-roll photo shoot today… and it was a blast.

Think heavy metal, guys in leather, girls in fishnets and skimpy outfits… loud music, groupies (well, friends of the band), plus me, Andy, April and Jackie…

We took about 1200 images — of everything and everybody..

We’re exhausted, but it was fun — lots of fun.  If the band makes it big, we’ll be able to say we knew them when they couldn’t pay a photographer — and had to recruit friends as models.

Overall, it went very well — April and Andy did the more posed shots — Jackie and I took more crowd and random shots… we all put in 110%…. and getting home to my pajama pants and some quiet hasn’t felt this good in a long time.

Of Scars

I met two amazing women today– Eli and Kate.  Together they put together “Of Scars” — a photo project celebrating women with scars from breast cancer.

I became interested in this project last time around — and this time I’m planning to model.  It seems rather brave to participate in a public art project by showing my breast cancer scar — but really, it’s not.

First of all, Eli and Kate are great — really great — fun, funny, sensitive, thoughtful and creative.  We had a great conversation that wandered far and wide — and always came back to ideas about beauty and courage — which is what they want to celebrate with their project.

The big idea is to create portraits of women who aren’t afraid to show their breast cancer battle scars.  The samples they showed me were all beautiful photos, some were raw, some refined, many thoughtful and all  thought-provoking.   Each photo captured the spirit of the woman in a beautiful and unique way.

Kate and Eli are very concerned about not making “Of Scars” about the scars.  They take great pains to ensure that the project does not exploit the women involved — so the images are not on the web and are only publicly displayed at one event.

The big question is why I’d want to do this project?  First of all, I think it’s a project worth supporting — and the best way I can think of to support the project is to participate.

The real and deep reason is that the last year or so has been about freedom and boldness — and what could possibly be more freeing or bold than showing my scar to the public?  I’ve always been open about my breast cancer — with my students, friends, colleagues and family.  I’m not shy about being “lop-sided” when I take off my bra — I’m comfortable with my own scar and I want others to see the way breast cancer has made me a stronger, and perhaps better person.

Having cancer made me see myself and my life in a fresh way — it was a re-set button on my life.  It freed me from some ruts and ways of thinking that hadn’t always been positive or fun — and made me see that life really is short, so it’s better to be bold and fearless than not.

Having cancer was scary — and fighting it made me free to take bigger risks, to risk being happy when the implications of failure are there as well — once  you’ve faced down cancer (knock on wood), very little else is really, truly, frightening.  Anybody who has had chemo, who has an oncologist, who has spent any time in the waiting room of a cancer clinic can tell you that becoming a “cancer survivor”as your identity can be quite easy.  I fought that every step of the way– and what I love about “Of Scars” is that it celebrates the women and not their status as “cancer survivors”.

I’d also like to show my friends and family how bold and free I’ve become.  I think Kate and Eli are just the women to help me do it.

Happy Birthday Mom!!

This is a photo Andy took of Aunt Kay’s chair.  The chair is special to mom — so I’m including it on her birthday…

Today is mom mom’s birthday… and, while most folks love their moms — mine is special — even more special than your’s :)…

Writing about my mom is difficult, because I just don’t have the words to express how special she is.. but I’ll give it a shot.

My mom taught me many things, among them:

  • You don’t die from being tired.
  • Just because you don’t have money doesn’t mean that you are poor.
  • Sometimes you have to decide whether to wallow or get out and do something.
  • Always keep a book in your purse.
  • Don’t miss an opportunity to do something good for someone else.
  • Sleep is optional when you’re having a good conversation.
  • The solitude of the woods is good for your soul.
  • You can do whatever you decide is worth doing.
  • Don’t give up.
  • Pay it forward.
  • He may be cute, but don’t get pregnant — you may have to talk to him eventually. (the only love advice she ever gave me…).

Many of these lessons she passed down from her mother, the amazing “Grandma Joy” who just turned 95. Both of them have a way about them that I think I’ve learned, which is how to get people to do what you want them to do in a nice way.

My mom is someone who listens, thinks and tells you what she’s thinking.  She’s loving, loyal and just plain fun to be around.  She makes people feel comfortable with themselves and gently helps them to be better people.  She’s great at encouraging without nagging.

Mom is a nurse in her soul.  She worked as a nurse for 45 years — starting in a downtown Minneapolis hospital where she treated wealthy Jewish folks and poor homeless folks with the same kind and caring manner.  She spent the end of her career in a nursing home in northern Minnesota — caring for Alzheimer’s patients and making their “now” as good as it can be.

My family is blessed to have her as an advocate in the medical system.  She’ll drop what she’s doing and care for those of us who need it — on a moment’s notice.  She’s currently cooperating with her sister Shirley to live with Grandma in Florida.  Their goal is to make the end of Grandma’s life as stress-free as possible, so her thoughts are about what will be best for “Mom”…

You can see the real value of a person by what the folks in their community say about them — in Isabella, once they figure out why I look familiar — will say –“oh, you’re Barb’s daughter, we love your Ma”… as well they should.

Happy Birthday Mom!

Year in Review

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?

Took a really good photo.
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Last year I think I wanted a new attitude of serenity and patience, which I worked on… this year my resolutions are to continue that and to recycle pop cans.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Two close work friends

4. Did anyone close to you die?
nope

5. What countries did you visit?

Just lots of the US…

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

An RV or an 86 Trans Am

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
January 20, April 4, April 20, October 23 — and I’m not telling why…

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I hosted a conference on campus.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I had a pattern of getting cranky when I shouldn’t have..

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I did not.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Either my new laptop or Andy’s Christmas present..

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Jason’s

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

It’s not important.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Rent

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

vacations — Colorado, Madeline Island and most importantly Florida
16. What song will always remind you of 2011?

Billy Squire, Some kind of lover… sad  but true, Andy, Terra, Ryan and Max all know why :).

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?

Happier, about the same, richer in non-money ways.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

not telling..

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

spending money

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
Andy’s fabulous family..

21. Did you fall in love in 2011?
nope

22. How many one-night stands?

None of your business..

23. What was your favorite TV program?
Breaking Bad, with Sons of Anarchy and Friday night lights close behind..

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I don’t hate.

25. What was the best book you read?
Hmmm…. not sure, I loved a lot of them..

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Christina Perry

27. What did you want and get?

Clean PET scans

28. What did you want and not get?

Perhaps the ability not to want stuff?

29. What was your favorite film of this year?

Machete.. or maybe the Hangover — but more for the context I saw them in than the movies themselves.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

Went to Duluth with Andy… had fun in Canal Park.  I was 43.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Getting hired by, but probably turning down the dream job

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?

Rock n Roll meets hippie chick

33. What kept you sane?
Andy

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I don’t really go in for celebrities.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?

Gay rights issues — and access to healthcare.

37. Who was the best new person you met?

I met lots of great people, maybe Andy’s auntie Barb..

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 20011.

If it’s important enough to fight about, it will wait until morning.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

“Soulshine, it’s better than sunshine, better than moonshine and damm sure better than rain.”

New Year’s Resolutions…

… for the most part are bunk.  For the last three days everyone has been on a diet, going to the gym and not smoking.  By the end of the month they’ll be sneaking McDonald’s, paying for the gym membership but not going and buying a pack of smokes.  By March they’ll be eating Ben and Jerry’s from the carton,  figuring out how to weasel out of the gym contract and bemoaning the coast of smokes..

The way I see it, resolutions should be simple.

My resolution for the year is to recycle beverage cans at home.  We drink a lot of diet coke around here and currently it’s been going down with the trash — no longer.  I have a new trash can and the old one is the recycling.  Simple..

I’d like to continue improving on a couple of things I had as aspirations last year…

First, I’d like to be more serene — with my friends, my family and especially my students.  With my students I want to be more like Tim Gun from Project Runway.  He treats the designers with respect while also being honest.  It’s a hard line to walk sometimes, but I think I have a good start on it.  That will make me more serene with my students.

Second, I’d like to more easily let things go — things that bother me, either professionally or inter-personally.  My wise younger sister said that if it’s important enough to fight about, it’s important enough to wait to discuss.  In other words, sleep on it and if it still bothers you, then bring it up.  I think that’s key to deciding what needs to be let go and what needs to be fussed about.

Also, I resolve to take more naps, have more fun with my friends and Andy — and generally enjoy what I have.