Things I Have In Common With Don Draper

These are some of the things I accomplished during the last hour:

  • rearranged the icons on my iPhone
  • sorted and renamed my Google Reader feeds
  • added a few bookmarklets to my bookmarks bar
  • explored Pinterest
  • cleaned my desk
  • listened to the same song on repeat

This may not seem like much, but I consider it a fairly good hour’s work when facing a creative deadline.

Bryan and I started watching Mad Men on Netflix streaming this weekend, and I love watching the subtleties of Don Draper’s creative process play out during each episode. It seems – and I would agree with this – the creator never really stops creating. Whether engaging with family, reading the paper, or making love, there is a distracting thought spinning in the back of our minds, connecting everything we’re experiencing to the idea that’s been nagging at us.

And it’s maddening to get stuck in a tip-of-the-tongue suspension state, like wracking my brain trying to remember That Guy’s name and it’s just not coming to me.

Running sometimes knocks the ideas loose. So does rearranging the icons on my iPhone. Wasting time is not always wasted time.

One scene of Mad Men opened with Draper sitting in his office, smoking, staring at the wall in a haze of dim light. His boss walked in, hesitated, then said, “I still can’t get used to the fact you’re actually working when you do that.”

Yes, the creator must have space to mull it over, to let it sit, to knock it around a bit. It may not look like we’re working, but trust me… we are.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go for a walk.

Things We Never Forget

Yesterday Ruthie told me she was writing a story at school about visiting her Auntie Jody’s farm in Iowa.

It was 2007 when we last visited the farm. Ruthie was only 4 years old, but she still carries the memory of that magical summer.

So do I.

We were on our way to the mall for some girl time when she told me this. She was chatty in the car, and I sadly realized how long it had been since we did something fun together, just the two of us.

I’m such a grouch at home, caressing my precious agenda.

I’m a lot more fun when we get out and Do Things, so I was glad to be at the mall with my big girl. She bought some new earrings and gave me fashion advice.

Apparently I need more heels, pencil skirts, and blazers in my life.

Things that come to mind on a Tuesday night

Garden helpers

This is not my giant bucket of peas. This is my neighbor’s giant bucket of peas. She is the better gardener, as indicated by her giant bucket of peas vs. the brown and shriveled leaves on my bean and strawberry plants.

This happens to me every summer – we go on vacation late in July, and by the time we get back my motivation to bring forth life from the dirt wanes.

Shelling peas

Isn’t this a sweet, Little House on the Prairie kinda moment? What is it about these moments that are so easily instigated by other people, but HEARTILY REJECTED were I to be the one who says, Hey! Let’s sit down and shuck these peas together like one big happy family!?

My kids start school a week from tomorrow, and I have mixed feelings about this.

Oh who am I kidding – I’M ECSTATIC!

Despite my previous whining, it’s been a good summer. I feel satisfied that I worked well and played well, yelled a little less than usual, and occasionally swept under the dining room table.

We set the bar high around here.

Ignite Seattle or Things That Make My Bowels A Little Nervous

This week I’m busy working on my Ignite Seattle presentation called “Sanity Hacks of a Stay at Home Mom.” Mine is one of sixteen presentations of the night – the first eight have been posted here. Topics include Public Library Hacking, Knitting in Code, and The Secret Underground World of Lego.

Ignite presentations are 5 minutes long using 20 powerpoint slides that auto advance every fifteen seconds, and presenters are not allowed to use notes. ACK!

I am appropriately freaked out, particularly since the confirmation email I received indicated the King Cat Theater, where the event is held, holds up to 700 people. So when it’s over I will either be flying high on presentation adrenaline, or I will crap my pants, shut down my blog, never to be seen again as I die of embarrassment.

If you want to catch the suspense in person, here’s the info:
April 29: doors at 7, start at 8:30
King Cat Theater
21 and over.

No worries if you can’t make it live, the good Bryan Zug will be recording video for the event.

In related news, I’m off to find a babysitter!

Things I didn’t count on.

Silly me.

In the weeks leading up to the start of Kindergarten, I worried, I fretted, I questioned whether Ruthie would make it through the day without a nap. Without one she’d always slogged in the afternoon, and freaked out at bedtime from being over tired.

But after the first week of school it became clear: turns out all these years Ruthie wasn’t tired – she was an extrovert trapped in a family of introverts.

School freaking energizes her.

Despite a long day which starts with waking up at 6:30 every morning, she is ON FIRE when we pick her up at the bus at 3:30.


Whatever the request, if I say we’re going home to our boring house with nothing to do there is screaming, crying, and rending of garments – right there at the bus stop in the middle of my community’s main street.

So now at the point of my day in which I’m the sloggiest (made-up word), I need to make sure I’m rested and properly charged (read: have been alone) so we can go to the park, or the cupcake shop, or to a friend’s house. Which is fine. I can do it.

It’s just something I NEVER saw coming.

Things that make you go Hmmmm…

003_Luke-Temby-Adam-and-Eve.jpgSunday on the way home from church I asked Ruthie what she learned in Sunday school. Questions like this about church or preschool are already getting answered with an adolescent “nothin” or “I don’t know,” so it typically takes a little prodding to get some answers out of her.

Finally I asked her about the paper snake she made, wondering what the story was behind the snake. The kids in her class usually come away with a craft of some kind that have to do with the story, and on this particular Sunday she came home with strips of paper linked together to make a “snake.”

She proceded to tell me the story of Adam and Eve, how they disobeyed God and ate the apple from the tree, and then they hid behind a bush and died.

“Oh really?” I asked. “Then what happened?”

“Then Jesus found them behind the bush and took them to the doctor.”

I suppressed my laughter in the front seat and forgot all about the snake. This is exactly why I push so hard to get answers from her: it’s highly entertaining.

Knowing the doctor part of the story was likely not part of my church’s theology, I tried to get back to the story.

“Can you tell me more about Jesus and what he did with Adam and Eve?”

After some more leading questions to get the story going again, she came up with a different ending. This time when I asked her what happened after Adam and Eve hid behind the bush she said, and I quote, “Jesus found them behind a bush and took them away to do a craft.”

Apart from the side splitting laughter, I had the opportunity to make a connection regarding her sin and disobedience and the sin and disobedience of Adam and Eve. In the second round of her story she said Adam and Eve disobeyed God and then ran away from him and were made to leave the garden. We talked about how she she sometimes runs away from me, too, when she disobeys, and how – even though I will always love her – there are consequences for being disobedient.

She really got this, and it was an electrifying moment to be a parent, to be teaching my child complicated yet important concepts in a way that she can grasp. I’m very thankful for my spiritual community, and how it teaches me volumes about being a parent who parents out of scripture.

As we neared home Ruthie broke the silence with a question.

“Mom? Why did God tell Adam and Even to not eat the apple?”

[cricket] [cricket] [cricket]

In all my life this question has never occurred to me. Growing up in the church this question was just never part of the story. The story was about Satan, and choices, and sin, and consequences, and hiding, and so forth. Never did I think to ask the question of why God would make that tree off limits in the first place.

Bryan once told me when he was a kid he overheard his dad telling another adult, “Yeah, that kid is smart. He asks questions I don’t know the answers to.” Ruthie is that same kid. She is scary smart.

Obviously, she takes after her father.

Photo credits –
Artist: Luke Temby.
From the Damien Minton Gallery.
Used with permission.

101 Things Found on my Piano

The Great Purge of 2007 did not stick. Most everything that I decluttered is back to it’s original glory, that is, CLUTTERED. A girlfriend came over for lunch yesterday, and I had to clear a path for her through the living room, then clear off the counter to make lunch, then clear of the dining table so we could eat.

We had a good laugh about it, mostly because in the humor of those moments I just decided to admit to myself that I am a Clutter Bug. I don’t pick up after myself, I don’t finish what I start, and I hate maintaining. This is not to say I’m giving in to myself; I’m just going to look at it from a different perspective.

So after she left I put a movie on for the kids and decluttered my piano, which is a major hot spot of clutter in my house – it being the only surface in the living/dining area that doesn’t need to be eaten from or have a drink set on. It’s a non-functional space, so it’s easy to drop stuff there and get it out of the way.

You are going to die laughing when you read this, but as I began to clear stuff off the piano it was cracking me up how ridiculous I am. JUST THROW IT AWAY, ALREADY!!! I know the list is tedious, but for the sake of humoring me, you should skim it over. Plus, I’ve rewarded you at the end with a picture of what it looks like now.

Here is everything I removed from the piano:

  • One Costco coupon book, expiration date: October 28, 2007.
  • One half made crown Ruthie started in Sunday school class.
  • Two unmailed thank you notes from my birthday in September 2007.
  • One construction paper turkey headband Ruthie made at preschool.
  • One glasses case.
  • One unmailed thank you note from Ruthie’s birthday in March 2007.
  • One borrowed night gown waiting to return home.
  • Three drink coasters (the fourth was cut to pieces by our resident slasher)
  • One blank birthday card waiting for a birthday.
  • Various thank you notes and birthday cards received that until now I haven’t been able to throw away (buh-bye).
  • One invitation to a party in April 2007.
  • Two sets of iPod earbuds.
  • One small wedding photo album.
  • One unfinished felt project from a camping trip three years ago.
  • One deck of playing cards.
  • One broken, homemade mosaic’d picture frame (buh-bye).
  • Two framed pictures waiting to be hung.
  • Four hilarious and off-color Christmas card samples from
  • One user’s guide for a bluetooth hands free speaker.
  • One tube of chapstick, cap missing.
  • One pen cap, red.
  • One 1/2 T measuring spoon.
  • One small flashlight.
  • One box of inhalation medication from November 2007.
  • One huge box of wipes, owner unknown.
  • One purse waiting to be returned to a friend.
  • One bunch of Sedum Autumn Joy flowers I thought would dry well, but really just left a mess of dried flower pieces.
  • Pictures given to me by a friend… two summers ago.
  • One wrapper to a spool of yarn I want to track down online.
  • One “control-a-man” remote I received for my birthday.
  • A wedding program from October 2007.
  • One scrap notebook the kids write in.
  • One book I’m waiting to review on my blog.
  • One 8.5 x 11 piece of paper with one tiny phone number written on it.
  • One rag that needs to be put in a box in the basement.
  • One book that needs to be put away on the basement shelves.
  • Scholastic book order forms from Ruthie’s preschool.
  • Class pictures from Ruthie’s preschool.
  • One pound puppy named Banjo.

Ha! That’s so embarrassing, but there you go. Merry Christmas.

Speaking of Christmas, Bryan was able to remove the plate rack from the wall and I hung a Christmas wreath in it’s place. It’s starting to look (and smell) like Christmas in here!

Christmas Wreath

I should also probably mention that I came home from the store today to find the Sufjan Stevens Christmas box set open and disassembled on the top of the piano, as if someone had just played all four CDs and left everything sitting out. So it’s not like I’m the only nut that needs to be cracked around here.

Things to Remember

I have discovered that when Bryan is gone I act like I have no reason to get out of bed in the morning. I mope, I drag my feet, and we either spend four days in our pajamas or we leave the house at 9 and don’t return until 9 – both of which make me cranky.

Today I took the kids to a play date with actual grown-ups involved, and we have friends coming over for dinner tonight. Suddenly, I am light on my feet and flitting about the house, happily singing as I clean like I’ve never cleaned before.

Yes, today I have something to look forward to, and I’m not too overwhelmed by an over scheduled day to enjoy it. Not to mention I am cooking an actual meal for these people instead of tossing a few crumbs at my children and feeding myself energy bars.

I like this thing they call Balance. It makes me not cranky.

Tagged: Eight Things About Me

I was tagged. It was Dave who did it, and because he tagged me all the way from Australia, I’ll humor him.

It might be difficult to find eight things you don’t know about me, since many of the people who read this blog include my husband, my mother, and friends I’ve known since I had bad hair and wore pleated plaid skirts. So this may actually be, Eight Things Most of You Didn’t Know About Me But the Rest of You Can Move On To Your Next Feed.

1. My brother and my sister were 11 and 13 when I was born, and since they were both off to college by the time I was 7, I was basically raised as an only child.

2. As a teenager I was picked up for shoplifting in a department store, but not before leading the undercover security guards on a 21 Jumpstreet-like chase through the mall. And like most bad movies in which the chased person inevitably runs up the stairs or ladder to a roof top, inducing screams from me such as, “Why the hell are you trapping yourself on the roof???” – I ran into a bathroom where I obviously had no way out, and was caught. A desperate cry for help? You be the judge.

3. I once lived in a house with 10 other girls. And no, it was not an orphanage or juvenile detention home – we were friends!

4. I once spent the night in a hammock on a boat going down the Amazon River, squeezed in uncomfortably with other traveling Brazilians, and watched a cute little Brazilian baby while his mother went to get some food.

5. In college I got to be a rock star, singing in a band for a major talent show. I’m a horrible singer, yet somehow we won first prize with our version of ‘Closer to Fine.’ I think it was Alecia’s red cowboy boots that won favor with the judges.

6. I never got drunk until I became a mother. I wouldn’t recommend it.

7. For more than ten years I thought having one really close friend was enough. Now I recognize the value in a community of friends, as no one person can be everything you need her to be.

8. Growing up, my mother’s family was close personal friends with Garrison Keillor’s family. The year before Gordy got cancer, he and my mom and my sister went to Gary’s house after a Prairie Home Companion show, and they all made dinner together in his big kitchen. Gary also told a special story on the air about my grandma’s gift of hospitality as a memorial when she died. He called her Aunt Leila.

Now it’s your turn! Tell me eight things about yourself in my comments, or link to a list on your own blog. I specifically tag Jenny, Maryam, Mommy Needs a Cocktail, Heartichoke, and Leah.

Things in my head today

I’ve been in a hole of depression the last couple weeks and haven’t been able feel much but utter contempt for myself. Today I began to see just the tiniest sliver of light in my very dark world – light that came through song, and scripture, and a trip to the beach with friends. In no particular order, these are the words that are telling me a story today.

I bought a crap detector
Emptied all my savings
It’s got a hair-trigger feel for the slightest provocation
Not there to spill blood or judge out of line
It’s just a modern convenience to save you some time

Why is joy something I must steal?
Starving skeletons looking for a meal
Out in the graveyard, church bells peal
Earth has no sorrow heaven can’t heal
– Bill Mallonee

Have you gotten what you came for
Did you ever feel ashamed for
Criminal is the name for…
what you’ve done to me

Did you shoot down what you aimed for
Did you ever take the blame for
Criminal is the name for…
what you’ve done to me
– The Call

A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them, he gets another chance.”
– Proverbs 28:13 (The Living Bible)

There was a time when I wouldn’t admit what a sinner I was. But my dishonesty made me miserable and filled my days with frustration. All day and all night your hand was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water on a sunny day until I finally admitted all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, “I will confess them to the Lord,” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.
– Psalm 32 3-5 (The Living Bible)

For God was in Christ, restoring the world to himself, no longer counting men’s sins against them but blotting them out. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others.
– 2 Corinthians 5:19 (The Living Bible)

You were dead in sins, and your sinful desires were not yet cut away. Then he gave you a share in the very life of Christ, for he forgave all your sins, and blotted out the charges proved against you, the list of his commandments which you had not obeyed. He took this list of sins and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ’s cross. In this way God took away Satan’s power to accuse you of sin, and God openly displayed to the whole world Christ’s triumph at the cross where your sins were all taken away.
– Colossians 2:13-15 (The Living Bible)

So there is now no condemnation awaiting those who belong to Christ Jesus.
– Romans 8:1 (The Living Bible)

Days Like This
Van Morrison

When it’s not always raining
there’ll be days like this
When there’s noone complaining
there’ll be days like this
Everything falls into phase
like the flick of a switch
Well my momma told me
there’ll be days like this

When you don’t need to worry
there’ll be days like this
When noone’s in a hurry
there’ll be days like this
When you don’t get betrayed
by that old Judas kiss
Oh my momma told me
there’ll be days like this

When you don’t need an answer
there’ll be days like this
When you don’t meet a chancer
there’ll be days like this
When all the parts of the puzzle
start to look like they fit
Then I must remember
there’ll be days like this

When everyone is upfront
and they’re not playing tricks
When you don’t have no freeloaders
out to get their kicks in
When it’s nobody’s business
the way that you wanna live
I just have to remember
there’ll be days like this

When no one steps on my dreams
there’ll be days like this
When people understand what I mean
there’ll be days like this
When you bring out the changes
of how everything is
Well my momma told me
there’ll be days like this

Oh my momma told me
there’ll be days like this
Well my momma told me
there’ll be days like this
Oh my momma told me
there’ll be days like this
Oh my momma told me
there’ll be days like this

How much of this was meant to be
How much the work of the devil
How far can one man’s eyes really see
In these days of toil and trouble
– Bill Mallonee

When I’m broken, see what happens
Arms wide open, see what happens
When I’m broken, see what happens
See what happens to me.
– Bill Mallonee (of Vigilantes of Love)

Things I never expected would happen

I love to watch Conan O’Brien, so when I visit family in the Midwest I love to watch him consequence-free because prime time television programing begins one hour earlier there than here in Seattle.

As my mom channel surfed one night, she happened to land on NBC just as his show was beginning, and I squealed for her to stop it here! stop it here!

She commented about how weird he was, and I said, Isn’t that just GREAT? And I gave confirming giggles as he hopped and preened and jerked around awkwardly on the stage, his solid mass of hair flopping around as he went. And then he did that marionette move in which he pulls on the ‘strings’ attached to his hips – my favorite thing EVER – and my mother burst into laughter.

SEE?!?! I exclaimed, isn’t he just the WEIRDEST kind of funny???

And the channel surfing stopped, and my mother and I enjoyed the silliness together.