Friday, December 23, 2011

Bah! Bah!! Who Let the Sheep Out???

It was that farty old bastard Scrooge! He did it! It's all his fault!

*points finger jabbingly*

Scrooge let the sheep out. He's also responsible for looping Barking Dog's "Jingle Bells" on the PA system.

*still pointing. Pointing pointing pointing...*

Point....

*SIGH*

Ok. Ok. ALRIGHT!!!! It was me. I'm the one who looped the barking dogs and Richard Cheese's "Christmas in Las Vegas"...and I put the Santa Slamming Into a Tree decoration on the neighbor's door...

...and tied the bag of "reindeer" poop to the back windshield wiper of that guy's SUV...

...and kicked over the lit up snowman and stuck his corn-cob pipe up his...

I guess now would be a good time to cop to hanging poison oak in the hallway all ribboned and berried up as mistletoe... I mean, no one ever actually TOUCHES it....they just KISS under it...blech....

Gah!!

I mean BAH!!!

I have an in-dash 6-CD player in my car. Five of those CDs are Christmas music. I went on a classic movie run and bought six new movies! I inundated myself with the likes of "Jack Frost" and "A Christmas Carol" and the really crappy 60s stop-animation flicks and "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and "It's a Wonderful Life" trying to brainwash myself into feeling Christmasy. All I got out of that was "Linus is a little effing know-it-all and Clarence needs to mind his own damned business!" (ok. Not TOTALLY true...)

I got all my shopping done (fairly) early and stayed in budget. I baked cupcakes with my kids. But I still can't get into the spirit of the season. I was so uninspired (and admittedly not wanting to go into my garage and dig out my 6-foot tree and decorations) that I went and got a cheapy little fake-o tree and bought cheapy little plastic ornaments and slammed those up in a minute just so my kids could have a decorated corner. But inside my head it was all about the "fuck garland and candy canes".


I know for a fact I am not the only one feeling this way. Could it be that once again in sunny Southern California it's hard to get into the spirit of Christmas when you are wearing board shorts and flip flops? If I had wanted to get a suntan on Christmas Day I'd have been born in bleeding Australia wouldn't I??

Or could it be the fact that two months ago I was trying to buy Halloween candy and had to dig under the candy canes to get to it and last week when I tried to find a (lightweight) jacket for my kid I almost missed the clearance rack of coats because the new bathing suits were up front and personal at my local superstore.

Next year I am dressing up as a North Pole Elf for Halloween. An elf mercenary with lots of weapons. An elf with attitude. Or...even BETTER: A DEAD elf. Yeaahhhh. A Zombelf.

I am all out of whack, and I think part of it is our "get it new before it's even made" mentality of rolling out stuff we don't need yet and shoveling out the stuff we DO need because it was out of date two hours ago. It's all about the hurry, hurry, hurry.

Being sick doesn't help either. Which I have been since Thanksgiving. I don't blame Scrooge for that, I completely blame my kids. After all it IS "germ bags back to school" season as well.

Speaking of sick...

...Bikinis. In December.

GAWD!!! I haven't even worked off my Candy Corn yet!!!

And this happens every year.

It's not like Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas sneak up on me. I do realize I get a 364 day head's up on all these holidays. Every year I think "I'm really gonna get into the season this year....do something really special with the kids...start new traditions...bake...shop early...see snow...Slow down and reaaaaaallllllly appreciate every day of the season, starting with that first football kick-off and kinda-sorta-but-not-really-ending with a New Year's kiss with that special Him." (Yessss.....I am still harping on that soulmate crap...so sue me!! Nyah!)

And every year...Christmas comes and goes and I wonder what the hell detour did it all take and I feel kinda like a living, breathing, human Radiator Springs. Then I spend the next nine months eagerly waiting for the insanity to start all over again.

All I want for Christmas is my commitment papers...

Looks like I need to find someone worse off than me to help...because isn't the real meaning of this season about love and service and forgiveness? And gratitude for what we have?

Bah!!! I hate it when I repent!!!!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Dork Out

I hate when I do this. Life gets busy and my writing suffers.  I have little time, even as I type this, to do any deep writing. Or, as I stated in my last blog, a review of some of the amazing music I have been listening to (Exene Cervenka's "The Excitement of Maybe", John Doe's "Keeper", and Zander Schloss and Sean Wheeler's "Walk Thee Invisible"). I kind of visited those a bit in the last blog, but I really wanted to get into a true review and just haven't been able to sit down with the music and write.

I kind of get "inspired" to write. I don't sit every day at a computer with a publishing document open with the intention of writing something witty, intelligent, profound or life-altering. HA! As if. I just sort of get a bug up my arse to write something and then craft it and post it. So maybe a month (or two) will go by before I get inspired to write something worthwhile.

So I feel like, well, all 9 of my followers (mwah! we are a small, loving group, yes??) deserve at least to get an update even if it is a bunch of empty tripe about writer's block.

Is that egotistical? Yeah. Pretty much everything about me is about me. You know what I mean?

Even if you're not interested, I am writing this for myself for the most part I suppose. Life is ok. Struggling with loneliness. Struggling to close not just a chapter in my life but an entire book. The irony of everything I have just written hit me just now. Struggling with "writer's block" and struggling to open a new book and start writing the next phase of my life.

If this is too esoteric for you, it's ok. Because it's kind of goofy ethereal to me too. But that's what's happening.

On another note, I found my book of poems that I wrote 15 years ago and will get down to getting them in digital format so they aren't "lost" again. I guess I'll post some of the (what I consider to be) better ones here. I'll see. It's ok for me to journal and open my heart to you in just blah blah blah blog writing, but to post something where I'm exposing my heart and mind in an "artistic" format is a bit scary.

I'm a dork.

Ok. Dork out.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

X Hits The Spot

Time to blog. But I have no idea about what. Do I bore "you" with medical updates about my back surgery? (walking with cane, can do about 3-4 hours normal routine then I am flat on my couch in pain). Do I continue my theme of To Love or Not To Love? (at this juncture I feel like I fell in love and no one else will come close to Mr.Heartbreak so I am no longer looking for someone to fill that missing...whatever. I am done. If God has a plan, I am just gonna let it happen and if it does it does, if not...then...whatever. I am too tired to fall in love anymore. *cynical laugh*.)

I think I would rather talk about music right now. Last Saturday I had the distinct pleasure to sit in a small, nifty men's clothing store in Orange, CA, called Moonlight Graham ( moonlightgraham.net ) to listen to some amazing live music. You might wonder that clothing stores and live gigs don't mix. It seems odd but it works. (They also sell vinyl albums, cds, DVDs etc., of mostly punk/rock...it's a small but powerful selection so worth the perusal. Not only did I replenish my cd collection with some TSOL and X discs, I also picked up a copy of Penelope Spheeris' movie "Suburbia." there. They have live concert footage DVDs as well. Oh, yes. This is SO much more than a clothing store. You owe it to yourself for a visit...and you don't even have to be a guy to do so.)

So...back to the story. I don't know the history, but somehow Exene Cervenka, co-lead singer of the Southern California punk band "X", has hooked into this retro store and has begun having regular gigs, called Exene's Hootenanny... once a month. Check out her Facebook page at Exenes-Moonlight-Hootenanny-at-Moonlight-Graham/224286210920135.

My first foray into this wonderfully intimate venue was to see Jack Grisham (TSOL frontman) do a reading from his book "An American Demon".  (http://www.facebook.com/yourfriendjack and  http://www.facebook.com/pages/An-American-Demon/177631685612892). It was there that I looked up and saw, standing not 10 feet from me, my music idol Exene, arms folded, listening intently. I sat still and composed but inside I was screaming in circles. I had know idea at first what I was participating in. I was about to find out.

From chitchat in the line waiting to meet Jack (by the way, read the book. But not at night. Not before bed. It is brilliant and unnerving and grim; an addictive, black fairytale for grown-ups that screams don't go outside and play) and sign my copy, I learned about these monthly gigs, especially glad to hear that Exene's gigs are very kid friendly. She has, in fact, announced that she does children's book readings there, and occasionally her Hootenanny is set up especially for little ones.

I bought tickets for the next month, which was a truly transformational evening of low-down bluesy acoustic rock with Zander Schloss (of Circle Jerks) and Sean Wheeler (the captain of Throw Rag). If you have ever seen Sean with Throw Rag, you'd understand my gratitude that Exene demands her gigs stay family-friendly since I had planned to take my kids to the gig which ended up NOT happening...but I digress as usual. I highly recommend their album "Walk Thee Invisible" which is raw, low-key and mind-blowing. I dare you not to fall under the spell of "Song About Songs" or want to sing in your car to "Retablo" or "So Low She Rose." Check them out on YouTube.com and iTunes and their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SeanWheelerandZanderSchloss.

Next hootenanny I attended was last week's magic: John Doe. I sat front row (there were only four rows of chairs, then standing room only amongst the shirts, jackets and other merchandise...) with opener Cindy Wasserman singing a couple duets with Exene, and occasional instrumental accompaniment with bandmate Patrick Dennis from Dead Rock West ( http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dead-Rock-West/8733817993).

Then came Mr. Doe, strummin' and pickin' his acoustic and electric gee-tars, stomping his cowboy-booted feet for emphasis. He sang songs of love, life and general societal quirks from his new album "Keeper" (from which I have gleaned a new favorite song, "Moonbeams"...that's going on my Love Touch Sex playlist...whew!) in a soulful, down-home way with his drawl that makes listening an almost sensual experience.

Exene and Cindy sang along in turns and I have to say, even as a fan of X who can't imagine John without Exene, Cindy was a natural match to Doe's lead. Where Exene blends with his voice in a higher, more ethereal way, Cindy brings her harmonizing a little closer to earth with her sultry voice.

The highlight of the evening, a few moments of utter awe in a night of being totally mesmerized, was when Exene got up and sang "See How We Are" with John. This song happens to be my favorite song from my favorite X album, by the same title. Having never seen X in their early hey-days, I was strongly moved by sitting mere feet away from these music legends - legends whose voices I have blared in my cars and headphones for 25 years. Yeah, if you were never into punk/alternative in the late 70s/early 80s you'd be asking "who??" (at which i shake my head in despair). But it's ok. Admittedly they aren't the legends that U2 or The Police or Prince became from those days but that is because they never drifted to mainstream pop. But in my smaller, more intimate world of punk rock, John and Exene are the reigning King and Queen of Southern California music. (ok, Jack....you are co-queen....)

Fortunately, X is touring now, and they are coming home to play locally at the end of the year. And with who else but Zander and Sean opening for them!! If you want to sit back and enjoy great music with a truly grass-roots all-American feel to it, book yourself a ticket at The Coach House for Wednesday, 14 December 2011. http://www.thecoachhouse.com/

Until then I will satisfy myself by attending Exene's Hootenanny next month and November. One of the things I love about these gigs is that Exene is so accessible, kind and just has fun. She - and Cindy for that matter - was so sweet to both my girls who WERE mutedly excited, but not fully understanding the magnitude of the evening...sitting at John Doe's feet while he played, or shaking Exene's hand, or telling Cindy they "like her singing," (the Cindy who was just on the stage a few days ago singing with Eddie Vedder).

No...they don't quite understand it, because John Doe and Exene are MY heroes. But, I am introducing my girls to these gigs and my music to show them a world beyond Disney Channel and Justin Bieber.

Well, this has been a review of a different kind. I'm no professional. But I do think it's time to write up on the albums I have mentioned...as well as Exene's latest solo "The Excitement of Maybe" and I'll have to get Dead Rock West (alas, MG was out of those discs when I stopped by this week).

Friday, September 9, 2011

What the Hell I'm Bored! Sept 9, 2011 Post #2

Wanted to also expound on my post from last week, "True What?". I started the day in tears and heartache and ended the day in peace and altered perspective.

I did what I have been taught to do when feeling such pain: got on my knees and prayed to God for mercy and to remove the pain and let me know what his will for me would be for the day. I posted honestly on Facebook (without details) that I was hurting...I opened up to let my friends know the situation and I was overwhelmed with instant feedback full of love and support. I spoke directly to some close friends. I journaled privately and very publicly here in my blog. I wrote a letter to myself from God. It is amazing how self-healing that small act can be. Things I wish I could believe for myself came thru as loving truth when ostensibly written by God.

And I spoke to a very wonderful woman...my spiritual mentor, my best friend...she told me, "Kris, instead of thinking of the negative aspects of this hurt, realize that you took your power back in these relationships. These two men acted selfishly and hurt you. You didn't stand for it. You told them both you never want to see or talk to them again! That's YOUR power! And God swept them clear of your heart to make room for someone better. Before today you still had hope for these two relationships. Today you chose for YOURSELF to finally end them on your terms. Good job!"

Or, something to that effect... :)

The point is all those things I did were healthy, mature ways of dealing with grief. And worry. Because I realized also that last week I had a lot on my plate. I was walking through a lot of fear and worry about my back surgery. The emotions I felt in reaction to these two men (when all is said and hurt is put aside...they are both very GOOD men...just not meant to be in my life. And maybe they didn't act with the best judgment. Or grace. They are human after all and ego can make any good person do or say not-good things).

Anyway, my friend's loving support and kind words did wonders for me. I used to believe I was hard-wired to be and think a certain way. It is a blessing today to be teachable and willing which enables a shift in my perspective to occur much much faster than before.

So, yet again, thank you God, friends, family. You are the rocks to which I cling most heartily.

I'm Walkin'. Haha! With Help

Posting from hospital bed almost 24 hrs post-op. Last I remember of my surgery was waving goodbye to my incredibly handsome anesthesiologist (it was odd feeling like I had died and gone to heaven BEFORE going under the knife). Then I woke up in recovery waving HELLO to my incredibly handsome anesthesiologist. Alas we waved goodbye again too soon. Ahhhhhhh.....Doc Bailey....are you married?!?

Was soon wheeled to the observation unit and given pain meds. I will say that if the pain I felt was WITH pain killers you would have to shoot me if I had to go through that WITHOUT them. I dozed off and on, spoke at different intervals to my dad, my best friend (who relayed my recovery status to my boss), my ex and my girls.

As the hour of discharge came upon me I knew in my heart I wasn't going home. Even trying to shift my butt a fraction was short of impossible. Thankfully today I feel closer in pain management to what apparently most patients feel within three or four hours post-op. I have come to believe that I am 1) a pain-wuss or 2) those "other" patients are not human, but aliens from planet Imnowussbutyouare.

Last night was nigh-on brutal with two Percocet promising to put me out of pain and into sleep...two hours later I was awake and in more pain than all the previous hours put together and so Dilaudid was administered. That was a blessing that eased the pain and knocked me right the heck out. For...ohhhhhhhhhh...about three whole hours followed by fitful sleep periods of about an hour at a time. For the most part it was the itching that kept waking me up. Gotta love pain-meds.

Two things that stand out other than Doc Bailey and the pain...seriously, I honestly already feel strength and mobility in my leg and foot. Yes my back hurts - whose wouldn't after it was cut open and bone shaved away and fragments and other stuff removed. Yes my foot is still partly numb. Nerve sensation damage takes the longest to recover. the other wonderful thing is that every time a baby is born in St. Joseph's Hospital, they play lullaby music on the intercom. Say what you will about the world today, every time I hear that lullaby music I smile. Big.

So, like I already said I am feeling much better this morning. IV hookup is gone - though the IV is still in my hand (ewwwwww) and I am going to order breakfast soon. I could be on my deathbed and still want a sandwich for Pete sake. Honestly if I am sick and lose my appetite something is really, really wrong. Anyway if all goes well I will be home by noon.

With a walker. Yep. I just bought myself s $100 walker. Ehh? Whasssat yeh say?? Mold? No there's no mold here! This is a durned hospital!! * dang-fool whipper-snapper..*


Addendum: I am home now at my parent's and comfy in my old room...have everything I need and can move around pretty well. Need to not overdo it though. Using that gull-durned walker tho...I have ventured forth without it and am a little shaky. Even missed the mark on leaning toward something and kinda wrenched my back ever-so-slightly. So it is walker time at least for a week they said.

Friday, September 2, 2011

True What?

I have spent my entire life knowing, ever since I was a little girl, that there was such a thing as "True Love," knowing even at a young age there was someone for me. Someone who would love me, want me, respect me, protect me, cherish me, be proud of me, enjoy my company, long for me. My Champion. My beautiful love. Someone for whom I could return all those wants, emotions and hopes in kind. Two partners walking through life side by side. Neither leading nor following. I have admitted numerous times in this blog that my "there's a lid for every pot" belief in finding a life partner – ok, ok, I will say the damned word: SOULMATE – was probably irrevocably shaped by fucking Hollywood and its fucking cinematic love-crap shown to us in larger-than-life technicolor. Disney and Hollywood damned my romantic soul forever.

Then there was the harsh reality of my parent's relationship and when Dad moved out when I was 5… my hero was gone… my daddy wasn't there to protect me. I got hurt pretty bad by some asshole during that chaotic time and no one protected me from what happened. No one could. No one knew. So I grew up needing that… that… needing that fear and vulnerability protected. I sure as hell never got it from my dad. Even after my parents reunited, there was a lot of anger in the house. Lots of fighting. My dad scared me. He rarely got physical with me, but there were times that I pushed him beyond his limit. I was never hit. Don't get me wrong. But my neck was in an arm-hold a couple times. There was some pushing and grabbing and pulling on occasion. But it was that rage in his eyes, that rage always scared the crap out of me. He didn't have to touch me to scare the shit out of me when he was angry. And he was angry a lot. But like a fool, I usually stood up to him. I don't like cowering. I'll take a beating – frightened or not – before I let you fucking put me in a corner. He still scares me when he's angry. And he still, to this day, treats me like a child, chastising and criticizing me. However,  I have reached out to him in the last few years, without expectations of his miraculously becoming a knight in shining armor. I have reached out to him, let him know I love him and need him. I share sometimes with him emotions that he is uncomfortable hearing. I think he feels helpless so doesn't say anything at all. I know he loves me and always has. 

But as a child, I guess I built up this defense for myself. I created a need to find a man who would protect me. Someone who would be all those things I mentioned above. Someone I would feel safe with and not abandon me. The problem is that I grasped at every first-guy that came along showing interest… I ruined relationship after relationship with my need to 1) have someone fill that void, even though I had no clue what was going on or why, and 2) change them INTO that person, because, inevitably, they never were the kind of guy capable of fulfilling my emotional needs in the first place.

In the many, many years I have struggled with depression and loss of important relationships and trying desperately to cope with finding out who I am, why I think and feel the way I do and what can I do to healthily fill the void, I have sought God. I have always sought God, much in the same way I sought true love. I desperately grasped out for something to believe in, to have faith in…through my parent's separation,  sexual abuse at the age of 5 by person or persons unknown, my parent's tumultuous reunion and ensuing years of fighting and arguing and raging – especially between dad and I – and the paradox of fearing that they would divorce again (I even told my pediatrician I'd kill myself if they got divorced…I think I was 12 at the time…if that's not desperate fear I don't know what is. That said, I wish I knew then what I know now. Divorce wouldn't have been the end of the world. They stuck together, but I also believe they were made for each other. They were always, and will always be, meant to be).

Through all this I desired an unshakable faith in A God. It wasn't necessarily the God I'd learned about in church, though my church years provided the foundation of my spiritual beliefs and general idea of who or what God is. But I ultimately grew up hating religion because our church friends dumped us after I was put in a kid's psych unit for a couple months and a year later my mom ended up in the same hospital in the adult ward after an unsuccessful suicide attempt. Church-goin' folks think suicide is a sin, therefore they don't like associating with sinners. I saw this hypocrisy in action but was too young to know that the same people who shunned us were probably angry behind the doors and walls of their homes, fighting their own demons but too afraid to utter them out loud or in public…me and my mom…my family...made them uncomfortable so they went away and left us alone. And that's all I knew about religious folk. But I don't blame God for religious folk. I manage to separate Him out from the masses.

You can probably guess by now I have major abandonment issues. I have worked long and hard to come to terms with the last 35+ years of my life. The ups and downs. The wrecked relationships. The turning to just about ANYTHING outside of myself to quench the conflagration that constantly threatened to destroy my sanity and my soul. I have worked and sought and prayed and loved and hated and believed and not believed and moved forward despite the intense desire to sometimes just lay down and die from soul-sick exhaustion. I often times marvel at my ability to stay perfectly still  and quiet at the very same time every fiber in my body and the very core of my soul is tearing and shredding insanely inside me urging to run fast and hard and scream loud and long. Run and scream on the inside, move slowly, calmly and stay quiet on the outside. It's a surreal experience.

But somehow I have maintained belief that there is a loving God who cares for me (I do believe that, although today, and the last two weeks, I have not been so sure), who loves me because I am His daughter. I am His spirit child who He created to be beautiful, intelligent, caring, loving, witty and kind. As for the negative aspects of my psyche, I have tried the "re-parenting myself." Tried to get in and keep in touch with my "inner child"– tried to calm her and love her and protect her from 40 years in the future…or…40 years in the past…I don't know. I just know that there is a loneliness inside me that has never dissipated. Not with "the power of positive thinking," not through trying to rewire my belief system that I am unworthy of love. Not through all the bullshit years of school, my twenties, sure as hell not through my thirties…even with my children and friends. Even in my happiest days of freedom and spiritual strength there is a void that remains empty. No amount of seeking God has filled that yet. And everyone tells me to believe in  "God's Plan," "Let God fill that void," "God has a man for you…let God bring him to you."

The problem is this morning I think I have stopped believing that. At this moment,  I have given up on the fairytale "True Love." I think the grief I feel today is the 3-year condensed end of my marriage,  then falling madly in love with someone a year later (who I have blogged about here consistently for over a year), and then the breakup of my first "real relationship" in 2 1/2 years that lasted all of 6 months. Throw in a couple pseudo-relationships and guy friends not interested in being more and it's a cacophony of off-key"not interested girl"  tunes.

I cried myself to sleep last night as one of The Big Three...Mr. Ex-boyfriend...responded to a truly innocent, heartfelt attempt to return some stuff to him. His response was so cold, so dictating…so damned CHASTISING! Unfortunately, this was directly on the heels of correspondence with Mr. Heartbreak which finally drove the coffin nail home that not only did he never knew how I felt about him, but what I thought he felt for me was not fact.  So I just cried myself to sleep. And I woke up four hours later crying.

All that loss/rejection grief has piled up and spilled over to where I just don't want to feel anymore. I don't want to be human anymore. Human emotions are too painful when loss is involved. Joy is fine, but absence of joy sucks. These men in my life, on all levels, in the space of two weeks, have driven home their lack of love and/or my perceived lack of appreciation for me in unceasing waves of rejection. It's totally random and coincidental, but grouped in so tight a formation in such a short time is merciless. I feel flayed…standing alone, stripped of anything that I can hold on to for comfort…raw and over exposed to an arid expanse of blinding, painful white nothingness. Alone and scared and lonely and…scared. I feel like I can't take any more drama from my mom or my dad or any assholes who I ever cared for or from anyone. Spare me the platitudes and rhetoric. A pity-party is where I make myself cry listening to my "Love Songs" playlist. This…this is unmitigated grief in all its humbling power. And the waves keep hitting me over and over. I will be glad when this passes.

I got on my knees and I prayed to a God I am not sure I believe in and I begged him to have mercy on me one more time. To please just take this pain away. I don't know what hurts more. The rejection from these men, or not believing in true love anymore. At least when I believed in that there was still hope. I always had stupid, romantic, childish hope. But it's gone and I don't want to become cynical and hard. So I think that hurts most of all. I guess maybe tomorrow I might feel differently, but today I don't want to feel anything at all.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Shoe Tart On Hold

No shoe tart pics yet. I'm thinking it's not going to happen for a couple weeks. I found out Wednesday after seeing my doctor that I have a "significant herniation" of my L4-5 disc(s). That means that my lower back has, close your eyes and picture this, the skeletal equivalent of a jelly donut with jelly innards gooing out the hole. Those jelly innards are pushing HARD on my sciatic nerve. That would explain the pain, the numbness and the ridiculous drop-foot loss of strength I have going on. My doctor, concerned about the loss of strength (which is getting more pronounced as the weeks go on) suggested surgery. He called the surgeon in, who also did a physical exam, whistled at my MRI and said I need surgery. I scheduled surgery.

Rash you might say? Bollocks I might respond.

First of all, the surgery is a one hour, outpatient procedure called a microdiscectomy. Basically, they make a tiny incision, go in with tiny instruments, remove tiny bone fragments and part of the disc, maneuver around the nerve and shave off the bulging disc nucleus/jelly goop that is causing all the ruckus.

I have spoken to a lot of people who've had the procedure and they are very satisfied. Most importantly they are glad they are not in the daily pain that comes with this kind of herniated disc. I have SCOURED spine sites who ALL say back surgery is a last resort UNLESS you have one of two issues occurring. One being loss of bladder control. Thank you God, that's not the case. The other is loss of strength. And, considering the loss of strength in my foot is profound, I am a candidate for immediate surgery.

I spoke to my chiropractor, whom I trust implicitly, and he ALSO said I am a candidate based on my symptoms. If it was otherwise, he'd say so big time.

I'm a little scared. Maybe I should be more scared. I don't know if this sounds weird, but it's almost inevitable that this is happening. (I believe in law of attraction and manifestation....for good and bad, so maybe this has something to do with it...) ANYway, I mean inevitable by the fact that having this surgery will put me in third generation of women in my family having back surgery. My grandma made the medical books in the 60s with hers. I vaguely remember my mom being in hospital then in bed for what seemed like forever when I was a little girl. And now this. Genetically speaking I was dealt the fuzzy end of the lollipop when it comes to backs. Even my mom's brother has serious back issues. I've had them all my life...well...ok, since I was 21 after a car accident where the xrays show my neck is almost straight, versus curved, which causes a whole set of other problems and pain, which I've dealt with for 20 years.

But the low back stuff...this is new...relatively (see last post). And I don't like it. I'm an active person. I have two small girls. We go to Disneyland a lot, we like to hike, I work out at the gym, I like to walk (I hate to run, but have forced myself to do so, though not lately, obviously), and I like the freedom of knowing that when I want to I can ride horses, scuba dive, go camping, etc.


I don't have time for bullshit pain and bullshit bulging discs and stupid crap that keeps me in bed most days. I like being outside, I like outdoors stuff. I like being physically strong and feeling powerful. I also like really good, sweaty sex. All that wonderful stuff I enjoy is on the line here. I am not a gimp, not a cripple, WILL NOT be housebound and bedridden. I refuse. So I am doing the surgery and looking at alternative methods to use in conjunction with the surgery for post-operative recovery.


Anyway, back to the inevitability part, I grew up in a household where surgery was not taboo. I guess it was like my c-sections...I was a c-section baby and neither my mom nor I had issues, so I was not concerned with it like others I know, some of whom surgery of any kind is anathema to them. I guess the climate growing up was of surgery-oriented solutions. Don't know if it's right or wrong. I do know that attitude and perspective play a HUGE role in recovering through ANYTHING. So my attitude and perspective that this is the right solution for me and that I will recover well is the important thing.


I am also realizing that my impatience is my biggest enemy. One foolish desire to prove I'm perfectly well is going to mess me up further.

I have to be smart, patient and reasonable. This back thing has had me down for too long. I have a chance to rectify it and improve. If I am smart, patient and reasonable.

Lots of people in lots of back surgery forums have complained their surgeries weren't successful.  At least many of them were honest enough to admit they had done something like go out and try to run a marathon too soon, or lift a 130-pound toolbox or whatever.

That's what I paid attention to. Now, if I can wipe away the stubborn German-Irish redheaded leo part of me, I will come out of the on top. In more ways than one I hope. ;)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Shoe Tart Unhinged

Ahhhhh. Last day of my week off. Return to work tomorrow. What a nice, relaxing vacation, right? No. No...my "vacation" from work last week began on Saturday August 6 when my parents had to pile me into their car, writhing in pain as I lay across the back seat, unable to find a spot that didn't send bolts of molten hot lava down my leg. They got me to St. Joseph's emergency room within 15 minutes (which tells you a lot about West-Med as I literally live across the street from there) and I continued to writhe, not caring who the hell heard me crying out to God to please stop the pain and let me pass out (yes I was that yelling freak down the hall in the ER), panting dry-mouthed in between shots of fire. They FINALLY shot me up with Dilaudid (THANK YOU GOD THANK YOU GOD THANK YOU GOD) and I was able to breathe. And the staff was able to take out their earplugs and resume conversations about the idiot patients who come through with self-induced injuries like paint rollers up their asses. (I used to work at Western Medical Center in Admitting/ER...I saw a photocopy of the xray...it really happened. And worse. People are SO weird).

I have one word for you:

Sciatica. -ca -ca -ca -caaaaaaa (echo effect). Duh duh duhhhhhhhh. (dramatic bad-omen-laden music effect).

Ok. MORE than one word for you.

I have had two children, both via c-section, the first being an emergency after 2 days of labor pain replete with the ever-fun back labor pains. Both are remembered with fondness and yearning in comparison to the pain I felt on the gurney in that room in the emergency room of St. Joe's.

I have had problems with my back over the last year. It started in May 2010 when I broke my left little toe and ended up in an orthopaedic walking boot. Shortly thereafter I began a series of business trips from California to Quebec (read: LOTS of sitting in airports, running from immigration to customs to security to the next flight AND crunched sardine-like in 6-across plane seats). Sure enough low back pain set in quickly. Up until a couple months ago, the "oh shit my back just went out AGAIN" pretzlization (haha new word!!!!) I endured was pretty quickly rectified by chiropractic and massage therapy. Until I sprained (badly) my left ankle.

I put the ortho boot back on, like an uneducated idiot.  (Read: ortho boots are notorious for causing bad low-back pain. Thank you Ms. Physical Therapist, a little too little too late. Fanx.)

After that I survived a month of crippling back pain that my chiropractor couldn't even touch. Intense massage therapy sessions didn't work. Finally I went to an orthopaedic specialist. He put me in physical therapy for a month which did Jack-Diddly ("I hate buses!") and KABLAM! Finally, last Saturday it seems my sciatic nerve area place thingy decided to give me the double-bird.

Did I mention how painful that crap was?? There are a lot of people I don't like and a lot of people I have had fantasies about doing really messed up things to. I wouldn't wish this on any of them. Oh. Wait. Yeah. Oh, yeah, I DEFINITELY wish this shit on the people at the top of Bank of America's corporate ladder. I can envision an entire top floor of writhing executives. I might even kick them in the stomach as I walked through taking camera-phone shots for Facebook. Other than them, I wouldn't have this on any one.

So, I was sent home with a woozy head and little pain, with orders to call my doctor in the morning. Gotta love not being admitted to the hospital when you're NOT dying but feel like you are.

And so...saw ortho the following Monday, was told 5 days bed-rest and did just that...well, until Thursday, when the pain finally subsided enough that I could go without any pain meds. Then I went home and saw how pitiful my house looked and proceeded to attempt to make things right which only just landed me back on crutches.

Oh yeah...the crutches. That's the best story of all. So...my left foot is partially numb. Yeah. I walk like a duck now. And I know how sexy ducks are. I am so happy about this. This and the closet full of awesome stilettos, wedges, and pumps that are lonely and missing me as much as I miss wearing them. I am not sure if it's been mentioned in this blog before, but my nickname at work is Shoe Tart. Ok, next blog is a pictorial homage to all the shoes I've loved before (I did a video homage last year after the left toe break, but I don't know if I can post a video here. I'll see...) Yeah, so anyway, I have limited flexion in my left ankle, half my foot is numb and up until Friday I couldn't walk without crutches. I'm going without them now, but I'm serious, it's funny walking and then realizing my left foot is flopping and dragging. Whatever....

Ok, ok, ok. Cuz I know you care...I had an MRI today (I found having conversations with God in that little coffin filled with mini-jackhammers quite pleasant), then have a follow-up appt Wednesday.

So. Yeah. Shoe Tart pics. That's gonna come sometime later in the week...maybe next weekend. There's a lot of production to go into this....and I know all 8 of you sweet followers are on pins and needles waiting for this. Right? Right.

Shoe Tart OUT. But not my back. Ha ha! (thumbs up with overly-emoted happy face effect here).

Wait. I just realized I'm taking my girls to see the Smurf movie tonight. Ooooohhhhhhhh, where's my pain meds? My paint roller????? *sigh*




Thursday, August 11, 2011

Hair of the Dog

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.....*groooooooooan* ooohhhhhhhwahwahwah.

WhathaveIdonewhathaveIdonewhathaveIdone?!?

Don't you hate waking up like that? Usually when people wake up like that, a little hair of the dog takes the edge off the feeling of complete and utter remorse. And usually when people wake up like that, mercifully they can't remember much unless they have really good friends who gleefully reminded them where they left their pants and how they got glitter in their hair and an extra tattoo. On their ass. Not that that has ever happened to me. Not that I remember anyway.

But the humiliated remorse i felt this morning has nothing to do with a hangover. Unless you want to call it an emotional hangover. No. No, this all has to do with my stupid self-will and That whole "to thine own self be true" crap I posted only just yesterday. Believe me, I find everything in that post to be completely applicable to myself, but it's just sadly ironic that I posted it yesterday and then went on to "to thine own self be true" right into a big ol' rabbit hole of embarrassment.

So I spend the day today holding my aching head and wishing that when I woke up this morning with the immediate wish that yesterday had just been a bad dream it really was. But it wasn't, so here i am, making no sense to anyone. Gah.

I can't really get into what happened. Let's just keep it at I got brutally open YET AGAIN with someone when I should have kept my big fat gob shut. I don't know how to be coy or demure or play games. I just know how to be open and honest and.....ohhhhhhhhhhwahwahwahwhatdidIdo?

So when you're left with the sad realization that you're a dork and what's done is done, the only thing to do is accept the consequences and move on. I don't know what the consequences are, but I am positive I can make up some really, really good ones in my head.

I wish I could hide in my rabbit hole but I can't. Can't wish away yesterday. I can laugh at myself, thank God, and rat myself out on the Internet and just accept I am who I am and I sometimes do some pretty silly things when I lead with my heart instead of my head.

Does anyone have excedrin and some humble- pie??

Owie.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

To Thine Own Self Be True...Get 'er Done

From a Facebook blog I wrote in February 2009. It stands equally true today:

I hear and read a lot of colloquialisms as I meander down this road called life. I can’t think of any right now except “Get ‘er done.”

Well, that’s a lie. There have been OTHERS running through my head recently: “Be Rigorously Honest,” “To Each His Own” and “To Thine Own Self Be True.” (Strangely enough, “Get ‘er Done” fits right into the list.)

“Be Rigorously Honest” always makes me think of a cigar-chomping, red-faced, muscle-bound Drill Sergeant: “Be Rigorously Honest you *$ piece of @(@#0 mother (#)@##$ horse’s #$@ or I’ll stick this rifle up your @#$…now get down there and give me 300 while I sit on you!” Strong. Forceful. Direct.

“To Each his Own” is simply….meh. Fine. Whatev. With a little bit of snobbery in the mix. Like two dandies passing on the sidewalk of some schmancy city block, boutique bag in one hand, latte in the other, eyeing each and secretly scorning the other’s $300 designer jeans paired with THAT jacket. “Lord, what WAS that girl thinking? Hmmm. To each her own. Sniff.” Just keep walking.

I prefer “To Thine Own Self Be True.” I love language and history…”To Thine Own Self Be True” is beautiful. It’s romantic. Old-fashioned and flourish-y. Lots of swishes and swirls should adorn the letters. The phrase evokes the likes of Shakespeare, Byron...Robin Hood and Maid Marion. Somewhere in time there’s a knight brandishing a sword that has that sentence etched on the blade. The irony of being skewed with a weapon like that is not lost on me.

Brushing that floral crap aside, what does that phrase really mean? It appeals to me because it is clearly defined, rose-petals and all. As a person who believes in God (…Universe, Earth Energy, Creator, Jesus, Buddha, Joe down the street, no one…I’m not a religious freak…insert your own idea of a “spiritual mentor.” ), the philosophy is a wonderful gauge on how connected I am to God’s will versus my own. If I’m doing something that’s not in the “higher plan” of my existence, if my actions are not part of a bigger will in my life, I just feel wrong. And, I usually feel wrong in varying degrees and levels for something or other on a daily or even hour-to-hour basis. I firmly believe that when I sincerely ask for God’s help and direction in life, it will come. I believe this because it has happened over and over. On the flipside, the beauty (or irony) of being human is that I have free will. So it’s always a give and take deal. I’m striving more for the “handing over” part of the deal. It’s a daily…battle…no…struggle…no. Those aren't the right words. It’s a daily exercise.

For me there is a fine balance between exercising Faith and lack thereof. I choose to exist somewhere in the middle, like a mildly swinging pendulum. I like some free will. I am human after all. My spirit chose to be in this physical shell for a reason! I also like knowing that should I choose to do so, there are situations I can give over to God so that the burdens that often weigh me down when I don’t give up the fight are eased. The extent to which I’m willing to slow down, relax and hand over directly correlates to the amount of ease I feel. As a single mom going through a divorce, working full time, dealing with financial pressures and emotional wreckage and crazy people in my life, there’s a lot to try to carry alone. I’m a stubborn German-Irish redhead. I still have some things to hard-headedly prove. To whomever will listen, damnit. Keeping the pendulum fairly mellow is not always easy.

On one hand, if I believed that I had no free will I’d sit like a lump somewhere constantly waiting for God to do everything for me. Even the most spiritual and humblest monk on the remotest mountaintop has to lift his hand to his mouth to take a drink of water.

On the other hand, if I live only by self-control without belief that there are some miracles in this world that I had no hand in creating (really?) and that I have to severely maintain every aspect of my life as well as YOURS (you’re SO welcome), I’ll be spun so tight that I’ll become a red whirl of anger, angst and misery. The irony of free will is that once you get going in a really good streak, it becomes addictive. You get a little het up and you’re like butter…you’re on a roll. Can’t stop now. And don’t anyone try to stop the tornado either.

For instance, when I drive to work – late again because the girls will NOT wake up at a moment’s notice – I get on the toll-road with the fact of light traffic ahead of me. There’s a very short stretch of curved highway where the CHP doesn’t lie in wait. At this point of my early-morning commute, my speedometer often hits up to 100 mph because I LOVE speed. I may have been a racecar driver in another life. I KNOW it’s wrong. But there’s a thrill as I urge my dirt-laden, 10-year old little green weeniemobile to its limit…new tires help…and I fly past someone cruising at 80, thinking, “Get out of my way fool, I need coffee!” I embrace the control as my steering wheel reacts to the mechanisms of my car and the tension of the road rushes past the steel, through my hands and into my body. It’s power and it’s danger and it’s freedom. I push my and the car’s limits, always knowing in the back of my mind that 1) one small mistake and I’m dust – literally, 2) one small cop and my bank account is dust and 3) I’m going to have a speed hangover as soon as I see how much gas I really wasted in that 5 minute jaunt. DAMNIT! Environmental no-no girl strikes again! But I love the adrenaline – the rush. It’s SO WRONG and it feels so nasty good. Then I hit the speed-trap part of the commute, back off to 73 mph and cruise the rest of the trail to the office.

For those 5 minutes my will takes completely over and my God is sitting up there in his Barker lounge chair chuckling and thinking, “Girl you are one crazy #$@%%...if I was a Drill Sergeant I’d make you do 300. Hey, where’s my latte?” The knot in my stomach is small…almost negligible. It’s ignorable. Is that a word? It is now. If Shakespeare could make up words, so can I.

But what about the other areas of my life where the knot in my stomach can grow exponentially? The angst increases? The moroseness deepens? This is where the self-will gauge, much like the speedometer in my car, tells how far I have passed the point of danger and I’d better slow down or else kablam! Step back, before you turn to dust. Relax. “To Thine Own Self Be True.” If it hurts, stop doing it. Yeah…I know that other colloquialism “No Pain, No Gain.” Well said! I agree that if you have a bitchin’ workout in the gym, you will be in some very good pain – proof that your muscles are growing and getting stronger. Or if you lose a loved one, or end an important relationship, experiencing the mental anguish is an important way to grow spiritually and emotionally. Feeling feelings is human and necessary and God-given. But for the aspects of myself for which I choose free will and then experience unnecessary harm in the process, “To Thine Own Self Be True” is a thing of beauty.

Not happy in a relationship? Why? What can I do about it? “Adapt and Overcome?” (I must have a thing for the Marines.) That’s simply another way of saying accept what I can and somehow deal with the rest. If two people are willing to communicate and be honest with themselves and each other and can come to a compromise for the best of both, with or without counseling, then great. But if my focus is on everything that is bothering me about someone else and I try to manipulate the situation to incur change, do I honestly think I can force the hand of another human being to make them bend to my will? Hell no. Not if I’m rigorously honest with myself. It is physically impossible and morally wrong. Who am I as a simple body on this planet to think I can change anyone else? If I’m in a relationship and I’m not happy, adapt and overcome or get the hell out. I have to ask myself, “What hurts more, being lonely with someone or being alone? Do I like how I feel, respond, think and behave on a daily basis with this person? Am I flourishing in the light of love or floundering in the shadows of neediness? Am I the strong, self-loving, self-sufficient woman I want to be, or am I a puppy?” If the answers are not positive, then something is terribly wrong and some personal decisions need to be made.

I did that with my marriage. That decision emotionally pummeled me. I fell to my knees in tears and agony, praying to my God to please carry me through the pain because I couldn’t handle it alone. The fact was clear, however, that the decision was for my best chance at survival. I knew to my innermost being that a change had to be made because I couldn’t live the rest of my life in misery; all the “adapt and overcome” options had been used up. I’m growing emotionally and spiritually because of that decision. And it has helped me recognize sooner and more clearly when I’m in situations and relationships that are not good for me. Self-reflection and soul-searching and lesson-learning are finally beginning to cause a change in my physical and emotional make-up.

“To Thine Own Self Be True” must be involved in every aspect of my life, not just relationships. Want to achieve a personal goal? Set one and achieve it, Kristen. I’m not happy with the 5 pounds I’ve put BACK on my body? Get to the gym or walk at lunch. Go back to school, finish the Advanced Open Water Diver course, do the friggin’ dishes. Spend 15 extra minutes a day playing with the kids! Small, huge it doesn’t matter. I must be realistic in regards to my desires, time and resources and then get to into action. The trick for me on a daily basis is recognizing the need for a change and then becoming willing to make the change. My self-will will let me stew in a problem, but God’s will won’t let the knot go away. My self-will controls how big or little that knot becomes. God’s will will remove it if I put my harmful self-will aside. That recognition process can take a minute, a day, a year, depending on the situation and my comfort threshold.

Today the knot in my stomach doesn’t have to grow so large and the moroseness doesn’t have to delve quite so deeply into my psyche as I step through new stages of my life with Faith and friendship and self-awareness. I’m not perfect and never want to be. I don’t want to sit alone on a mountaintop. Nor do I want to bang my head in a rubber-walled room. I want to live, improve, make mistakes, learn and improve some more. I want to be found in my God. I want to love. I want to be loved. I want to be happy. I want excitement and tenderness and kindness and respect – and give those in return to others for whom I care. I have a choice to make each moment of the day: ignore the niggling little knot that says I’m not doing what I should be doing, or recognize, understand, believe and heed the knot.

Practicing living in my self-truth means good news for the world. I'm focusing on me, not you. Not your brother, CPA, dog or goldfish and everything and everyone else on the planet. When I practice self-truth I feel powerful. As God's will and my will align, I feel strong and confident. Thus happiness and positive thinking ensue.

Now that these words are laid out for the world and myself to see, the key is what action follows from this point forward. Get ‘er done Kris.



Love The One You're With...Guaranteed

Well since I am clearly on the romance path AGAIN (see last post) I might as well expand on my July post "Fading to Black". At least I will be incorporating what seems to be my unending sentimentality with my unending love of music.

In "Fading to Black" I ended with my idea of a romantic dinner, with a dance to The Temptation's "Night and Day" found on the "What Women Want" soundtrack.

Other songs guaranteeing anyone to get what they want from their object of desire are these classic sigh-inducing ballads that are still powerful today:

When A Man Loves A Woman, by Percy Sledge. C'mon. This is grand, amazing schlocky romance at it's soulful finest.

Oh, What A Night, by The Dells. Can't you just picture Marty McFly's parents falling in love on the dance floor as they sway under streamers of tinsel and papier-mâché moons and stars to this rich melody? It makes me want to go shopping for a vintage prom dress.

I Only Have Eyes For You, by The Flamingos. Uh....ditto what I said about Oh, What A Night.

Now, for something completely different and almost unnerving in its ethereal sound...you all know (I hope) Unchained Melody by The Righteous Brothers. There's precious few who didn't sit entranced and ready to take pottery lessons after hearing this song in the movie "Ghost." But do yourself a favor and listen to the a Capella version by The Fleetwoods. I feel about that version the same way I feel about Elvis' version of Blue Moon (check it out on the "Boy From Tupelo" album.) Both are transformative in their haunting simplicity. These songs would probably make Evanescence a little tingly.

The moldies aren't the only ones holding the reins on amorous melodies...there are some modern-day classics to torture your heart with as well...

...Vince Gill's You and You Alone, When Love Finds You and Whenever You Come Around (for the real magnitude of the meanings behind these songs, read the AARP article I referenced in my July post "Catch-up...It's Not Just a Condiment")...

...or Keith Urban's Only You Can Love Me This Way, the upbeat Somebody Like You, and back to honey-dripping love with Your Everything...

...John Michael Montgomery has more than a couple that will make her weak in the knees, in I Love The Way You Love Me, Rope the Moon, I Swear, Long as I Live, and I Can Love You Like That. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if every last one of these were on the Top 50 Wedding Dance Songs of all Times...

And just when you were beginning to think country has the romance-dance genre lassoed, you'd be wrong...there's more in pop-music to neck by...

...(Everything I Do) I Do It For You by Bryan Adams (and can I glide over his Have You Ever Loved a Woman? I think not...
...Wicked Game by Chris Isaak (come ON I have to list this even tho it's maybe not the most positive message to send someone. Maybe they won't hear the lyrics over the sound of your kissing).
...So Close by John McLaughlin from the "Enchanted" soundtrack...
...If your hair is still a little long (or you wish it were) after all these years and you have a penchant for zebra stripes, you'll appreciate Def Leppard's Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad as well as Is This Love by Survivor...
...which leads me to...Wherever You Will Go by The Calling...
...and while we're on rock ballads, who can forget Babe by Styx or Angel by Aerosmith...

...a young British artist I discovered a few years ago is Adele (who HASN'T heard of her by now??) Her Crazy For You, Make You Feel My Love, and One and Only have the retro soul of Amy Winehouse, only these songs are healthy and don't get weighted down with real-life tragedy.

For less sultry, more innocent indie sounds, Corinne Bailey Rae's sweetly whispered lines in Enchantment, Call Me When You Get This and Trouble Sleeping seem almost too innocent to list here. Nah. They're not. Neither are Bruno Mars' Just The Way You Are and Bright Eyes' First Day Of My Life, both of which are sure to make her a drooling mess in your arms, quite malleable if she believes you think even a fraction of what the lyrics are saying. These songs go with daisies and cotton.

There are SO many songs to get down and sweet or down and dirty with - too many to keep listing here - but I do want to mention just two more:
Jules Holland's version with Bono of U2's If You Wear That Velvet Dress which absolutely ruined the U2 original for me forever. This song drips sensuality like liquid silver falling off the moon. This song has I'm-in-love-with-you-sex from the first note to the last.

The other song is Lyle Lovett's I Know You Know with an equally sensual jazz beat to seduce by. And yes I said Lyle Lovett. The man does more than honky-tonk and this song proves it.

So, consider these songs, boys and girls, next time you're planning an intimate evening with the one you love, or, more importantly, the one you WANT to love.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Try the Chicken for God's Sake

I think it's time to switch up from my apparent fixation on love and relationships and delve into the realm of another passion in my life: music.

I was pretty L7 as a kid...I was (and still am) an only child. I developed an appreciation for classical, traditional music from my dad. Big band, swing, jazz, symphonic...even ragtime and a smattering of bluegrass was brought to my by Pop. Mom, being the more liberal of the duo introduced me to folk, mellow rock, etc. I grew up going to live productions of classic light operas such as The Mikado, Showboat, The Music Man, etc. And on the trip home from Grandma's -Downey to Tustin - dad would play KNX and we'd listen to the old time radio shows from 9pm to 10 pm. I was an only child growing up in the 70s and lived in a fairly dysfunctional household but it wasn't bad enough to drive me out of the house to find relief in drugs, booze or partying. I actually was such a loner, such a misfit...a total social retard...so afraid of everyone, that I hid in my house and escaped in television and classic movies.

So, as I was growing up in the era of the punk music revolution, I was protected from it's damning influences (haha!) and merrily asked for a Glenn Miller album at the age of 11. My musical tastes morphed into teen pop and then rockabilly and the UK New Wave invasion of the early 80's. I dressed in oversized men's shirts and cuffed my jeans, wore puffy skirts and had a mini pompadour. Eventually New Wave took over and my wardrobe became black, white, grey and red ONLY as I became a Duranie, reveled in INXS, Soft Cell and the like. My friends and I would go dancing at Old World in Huntington Beach on Friday nights and I glided through the angst of my teenage years escaping in the bright colors exploding on MTV, aware of the cool darkness of subculture music such as The Damned, The Vandals, T.S.O.L., Black Flag and such but oblivious to it's power.

At this time of my life there was a lot of fear and self-loathing but I still wasn't expressing myself in negative ways other than ditching school. I barely graduated and then blossomed after high school. It was in community college in 1986 that I discovered The Pogues and X and within a few years returning to my swing/rockabilly roots with Brian Setzer Orchestra. I again cuffed my jeans and went Rosie the Riveter with bandanas in my hair...I was rockabilly when it was no longer cool. And I went on to discover the classic punk music of my childhood. I shopped at Meow in Long Beach and enjoyed being an odd cog.

With that said I never have completely subscribed to any one genre or subculture...never immersed myself so completely in a scene that I wore the uniform of the music every single day. I never completely allowed myself to be stereotyped or pegged into one look. I guess even today if you HAD to label me the closest you could come is retro. I tend toward the retro look of the 40s and 50s but really just dress how I feel like dressing. Some days I resemble a skater chick, some days a grown up office worker and some days it's just jeans and a tee. Just like my music. It all depends on my mood and how I feel like presenting myself one day or even one hour at a time. Think it's the flamboyant Leo in me, or maybe the closeted actress. I just like that no one can accurately peg me based on how I look or what I listen to. I like being different and I like walking to my own beat. I may have missed out on the original punk explosion, but I think ideologically I was and still am punk at heart in that I listened to the music I wanted to hear, when I wanted to listen to it, regardless who else wasn't listening to it. So what if the screams coming off my record player were the horns of Pennsylvania 6500! LOL!!

Walk by my office at any time of day and you're likely to hear anything...X, Dean Martin, Norah Jones, The Chieftains, The Dickies, Keith Urban, The Police, Taco, Ricky Nelson, Yo-Yo Ma, Old 97's, Fletcher Henderson, Gene Summers, CCR, The Cramps, The Shadow or Shakira.

I love that music doesn't belong to anyone tho some fanatics feel they own the rights to a look or feel or sound, which is misguided. I understand but don't care for "uniforms". I know they're there as a way for people to identify each other and I get that...dude you have liberty spikes, we have something in common. But what I hate is that people go too far and say this is OUR music...you don't look like us...you don't belong get the fuck out. Fuck that. Music is a thread and it binds us. Who gives a shit what we look like. If we are moved by a sound, whether it's the angry rants of Linkin Park, the haunting emo tunes of Evanescence, the sweet melodies of Vince Gill or the trumpeting ooompaooompa of some AM station Mexican band, WHO CARES!!! I just know music has the superpower of reaching into your soul, grabbing hold of the bits and parts, rearranging them and then, when the song's over you are somehow changed. Forever. And to limit oneself to only one genre is like paying 30 bucks for a Vegas buffet and only eating the tater tots. What the fuck? Eat up people!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Fading to Black

I think I have made it perfectly clear that I am a romantic of the hopeless variety. If you scan through my past blogs it's pretty apparent that - maybe sadly - my view on love and romance was shaped heavily by the old Hollywood flicks I grew up watching.

I still think in terms of movie scenes. When I hear a song I can disappear into my own private theater of my mind and lose time crafting the perfect chase scene, date scene, martial arts fight, kiss scene...you name it. I have mastered the art of escapism through imagination. In my world that's ok. I have not detached from reality to the point where I don't live my life, in fact it's the opposite. Today I rarely have time to delve into the beauty of my imagination. I just have too much going on. Kids, work, friends, dating (thought I'd throw that in there as a "law of attraction" dealio... It can't hurt). But man, when I was a kid I could leave planet Earth for hours on end and enter the realm of planet Kristen, heavily colonized by nearby planet Hollywood... And I came up with epic adventures, romances, dramas and comedy, with me as the star in each production. It was fun, it was safe...but in the end it wasn't real and imagine my disappointment when real men on real dates and in real relationships didn't live up to the Cary Grants and Gene Kelly's of my dreams.

It has taken a lot of heartache for me to wake up and finally see love and romance through unfiltered eyes. Don't get me wrong. I still believe there are people who are meant to be together, I still believe there are guys out there who want to romance a girl...and I believe there are men who who after years in a relationship with the same woman still are in love and still appreciate what they have. That sweet naïveté of ever-after love is something I hold dearly. It might be childlike, it might be silly, but it's something to believe in and hope for.

The trick for me is to change my belief system that I am not worthy of love. I spent so long in self loathing that I could never believe anyone could ever love me. When it comes down to it I still have that little girl fear of no one could possibly love ME...if they knew the truth about me. All my foibles, defects, crazy thoughts...blah blah blah. It's self destruction and perpetuation of loneliness at it's finest. As if I am the only imperfect human on this planet. Ha! The very thought is the epitome of ego!

Love and romance...I have a friend who says she's never known anyone's life to be so "fade to black" as mine. It certainly isn't a boring life. I certainly don't demurely let events whisk by me and meekly sip my tea whispering about the weather. My life is as colorful as my language. It is up down and all around. If it stops spinning I am sure I shall be quite bored and as a Leo that is quite unacceptable. Us Leos need the ball of yarn always within batting reach.

But back to planet Kristen...imagine this if you will.... A cool moonlit evening, on a balcony overlooking the ocean...hundreds of white faerie lights (Christmas lights will do) twinkle above and around a small, intimate table set for two...he takes her hand and, as The Temptation's "Night and Day" plays, leads her into his arms, embraces her and slowly dances with her.

And because I am embarrassing myself, I won't go into details about passionate, sensual kisses and declarations of love....just know that I am slowly fading from blush to black...

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Catch-up. It's Not Just a Condiment

Well, my first blog from my iPad. This is gonna be short and sweet. And full of typos til I get to a "real" keyboarded computer.

I am sitting in a Starbucks across from my high school. I have had good fortune to gain new perspective on some folks I went to school with, having spent the recent Independence Day holiday with old school friends. Some of it was good perspective....like learning that one of the popular girls I secretly envied and openly avoided and still kind of had an inferiority complex towards had her own bouts of being teased which has stayed with her all these years. It is amazing how we feel so alone and unique in our fears and tribulations growing up only to find out we were all walking around feeling the same way. Kids are stupid. It's not their fault. They have to become un-stupid by learning from life's experiences. Ideally, if we could have walked around knowing each other's real thoughts and fears we might have understood more about ourselves and each other sooner, probably less painfully. But there's that paradox of life....the really bad, scary, lonely stuff that we go through growing up (as well as the wonderful, happy, joyful stuff) can't be learned painlessly via books or webinars. We have to go through what we go through and then hope we're not too scarred by the bad stuff, eventually coming to grips with the past to move forward in our life. So...there.

There was talk of other friends, some of which I don't know if I wanted to know, but it gave me insight I needed in order to sort my own thoughts out. Don't get me wrong. This wasn't gossip, just catching up on old times, but hearing and viewing those years with fresh eyes and ears....and the wisdom of 25 years separated from those times gave me much needed new perspective.

I basically had my "AHA! moment" from a few years ago reiterated to me: had I not been so involved in my own angst as a child and simply allowed people to get to know me, I would have had more friends. Truth is, I didn't allow people to get close to me and instead of hiding behind partying or substance abuse early on, I simply retreated to the safety of my aloneness in my home...in my room...in my books and my movies and my daydreams. It was only after high school that I blossomed and came alive and broke out of my fearful shell of self-loathing and let myself be known to other humans walking this planet. But I wouldn't change a moment of good or bad from any point in my life because who and where I am today is a good thing.

Let's just say I know now that my perspective on a LOT of things as a child was messed up, as is my adult recollection of those years, so it's nice to have someone ELSE tell me how things were so I can see differently today.

I am also going through processing the recent break-up of my relationship of 7 months. I knew from the start that it wasn't a "forever" deal and kind of just went one day at a time with him, but I felt more and more like I was needing more than he could give emotionally and the end came sooner than I expected. It's totally ok...I guess not putting future daydreams and expectations on a relationship was a first for me, and I understand that I am mourning the loss of the relationship instead of the actual man. And though we said we would remain friends, he "changed his mind" a few weeks later. So, I ended a romantic relationship and then had that scrape reopened when I lost him as a very good friend.

Of course this all brings afresh my feelings for Mr. Heartbreak from last year. To be honest, I never stopped having feelings for him, though I tried hard to get him off my mind and for awhile when my relationship was new and exciting - and on the heels of such heartache - I did forget about him for awhile. Unfortunately, that respite did not last anywhere near long enough. Soon the new relationship fell into a rut that felt like we had been married for ten years, the honeymoon had barely begun before routine and neglect set in. We never fought, we just got bored. Now that I am single again it's difficult to not return to the longing I felt for him on a regular basis for almost two years. Truth is, as I have written before, I have such a deep connection to this person that I have never had with anyone else, and quite frankly no one who I have met and dated since meeting him has compared in the least to his effect on me.  Honestly. I guess I am hopeless where this guy is concerned. Maybe someday someone else will come along to erase him from my mind, body and heart, but no one has been able to yet.

To make matters worse...I read an article on Amy Grant and Vince Gill in an issue of AARP at the doctor's office last week and the way she felt about him completely resonated with me and my feelings for this guy. I wish i could hate him, wish I could disdain him....wish I knew if he thought of me still, what he truly felt about me....lots of wishes. It only makes me a little crazy. Well, like I said, hoping that someday I will not ever give him a second thought...but today it seems like that will never be possible. As my friend and I were just discussing today over breakfast....it sure would be nice to have those feelings for someone, and even better have them feel those feelings for ME! We both decided (my girlfriend and I) that all we want is to just fall in love, for real...and be happy for a long time. And I have friends who have been married 10, 15, 20 years who are so obviously meant for each other, they still are IN LOVE with each other and somehow they were fortunate enough to find a partner with whom they could weather the storms of marriage and remain afloat, together, to sail into the sunset. Why others of us have had to crash upon the reef quite a few times and flounder around choking on seaweed is beyond me. But, I guess that's just the way it goes. When the time comes for "HIM" to come along and stay for good, then I will know that the heartache and trouble to get there will make the relationship that much more valuable.

In the meantime, I'll wash that seaweed down with ketchup I guess.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Learning Curve for Us Almost Half-Century Olds

My learning curve is usually two wheels on the wall at 200mph, but don't let that scare you. Here are a few things I have learned in the last 43 years of living:

You WILL use the math you learned in high school. When you're desperately trying to understand your second grader's homework problems.

Reading and understanding maps is a valuable skill. It may be us paper users that killed off the forests, but at least we'll be able to find our way out of the rubble when the aliens attack and shoot down all you techies' gps systems.

Ditto for counterfeiting money. (just kidding Mr. Government)

Being politically correct is for the birds. If I have offended any birds by making that statement I heartily apologize, I never meant to piss you off and will never do that again. You little angry fuckers.

There are no politicians. Just CEOs, CFOs and Godfathers.

It IS how good you look on the outside. Barbie for President.

Speaking of Barbie, and Princesses for that matter, there is NO SUCH THING AS FOREVER! Even old, miserable married people die off eventually.

The little asshole who called  you "thunder thighs" when you were 11 and feeling desperately bizarre and awkward because of the pre-pubescent plague coming upon you is now fat, bald, scabby and miserable. Even if he isn't it's ok to think he is and then let that stupid comment go. FINALLY. *sigh*

With hundreds of millions of people on this planet don't you think the odds of having only one soulmate is a bit daft?

Aaaand, soulmates…they come and they go. Sometimes they come back. And then you wonder "What was all the fuss about?"

You can love someone, marry him, divorce him, watch him get a girlfriend, share your kids with her, watch her take your place in the family you once loved and cherished, realize your ex mother-in-law always hated you and loves HER..watch her drive the truck you bought with him, finally lose your house, go bankrupt and drive a crappy car into the ground and LIVE TO BITCH ABOUT IT.

You can love two men at one time. But there's only ever the one you're in love with. (Don't associate that statement with my ex-husband please).

Life is about adventure, taking risks and being your own person. Never kowtow to anyone's expectations of who you "should be" and always speak your truth.

At this moment I will break for a Politically Correct statement to cover my ass:
I am a straight woman and therefore all statements regarding love or relationships heretofore and henceforth modus operandi habeas corpus in reference to "him," "men," "man" or any form of reference to lusting after anyone of masculine nature are from  my own personal experiences blah blahbitty blah. Gay Men should have no problem relating to these statements, but Straight Guys or Lesbians should switch out "men" for "women" because it SEEMS I don't think you're smart enough to think of that on your own. And, as with the birds, I heartily apologize for that idiotic inference and will only henceforth be rude to slugs as they don't have the capability of thinking, emotional reaction or suing. Furthermore and e pluribus unum that last statement was made in my "sick, dark and disturbing" humor (mentioned below) and, ergo, has no intention to imply that Straight Men or Lesbians are unintelligent,  associated with slugs, or that I in any way don't like anyone of any nature, which, at certain times of the month or in really bad traffic IS true but not here at THIS time etc., and so forth. Some of my very good friends are lesbians and I think I have made it clear that straight men ring my bell. Besides, Lesbians are TOTALLY smart and awesome because they're WOMEN and we all know straight guys can be a bit dim…. You know what. I am just going to stop here.

I think Latin should be resurrected.

And why is it anything read in an English accent sounds smart? The phone book sounds academic in an English accent. Who gave them the Hoity-toity Pass anyway?

My reality is not your reality. Which may or may not be a scary thing.

I really am a cheerleader. Do you know how painful that was to realize?

That old adage "will this matter in five years?" is very helpful. Except when you file bankruptcy. Then it's "will this matter in seven years?"

The roller-coaster of life only comes to a complete stop when you're DEAD. So enjoy the ups and downs because even the downs are better than DEAD.

Cynicism (see all of the above) can be your best friend when you've been divorced twice and single at almost a half-century old. Fuck.

So is dark, sick and almost-but-not-quite disturbing humor. (See, I told you).

Also on my best-friend list: dimly lit anywheres. And Photoshop filters. I think even the outside should be lit by candles.

"I don't know" is one of the most freeing phrases in all humanity.

So is "God please empty my head out"

Non-sequiturs are the verbal nectar of life.

You can skip through a meadow on a bright sunshiny day with daisies in your hands, or you can skip through the local dump tossing black rose petals. No matter what, just keep skipping.  Because at the very least you're getting some form of exercise.

It's ok to eat more cookie dough than you bake. Otherwise they wouldn't put it in ice cream.

Your body is a finely tuned machine. Look at how perfectly it reacts when you have had to pee for an hour and finally get within 5 steps of a toilet.

What doesn't kill you makes you stranger. I did not come up with that. Please don't sue me if YOU did. I mean you can try, but did you read that whole "single, divorced bankrupt mother of two" blurb?

I realize "single, divorced, bankrupt mother of two" will only get me so far for so long. Someday I'll just qualify myself as a "woman" plain and simple.

I think all my straight guy friends who want to make a stupid comment about linking "woman," "plain" and "simple" should shut their cakeholes before they get a stiletto down their gobs. Gay men feel free to comment because I know you understand what I meant, isn't that right? THAT'S right.

Ya know what? Anyone that is offended by anything I say can just suck it. Seriously. And I mean that in only the friendliest, most loving and caring way possible. I mean, really, you do realize you've been offended by a plain and simple woman, right?

Being abnormal is waaaay more interesting than normal. I feel sorry for normal people. And I'm sure they feel sorry for me. It's almost like walking through this world in two different dimensions.  You can see all the normal people but you can't really interact with them. Yes. My life is much like a never-ending Twilight Zone episode. Or "Inception" for all you sad little freaks of nature that think "Twilight Zone" is about vampires and werewolves.

That would explain why I hear Rod Serling in my head narrating my every move. I said Rod Serling. Not Rob Pattinson.

I think it's perfectly ok to create a "My Life Soundrack" playlist and then be-bop around town like you're in a finely scripted movie because having your own soundtrack makes you arty. And we all know arty is a euphemism for cool. Or insane. Depends on if you're on the "normal" side of town or the "abnormal" side of town.

Speaking of weird, I believe that we are not alone in this universe. Good news for us space geek romantics: That just opened the soulmate pool up by BILLIONS.

That's it for now. I've learned a lot more. There's a lot more I'm on the verge of learning and even more that I realize I don't give a rat's ass about. But I'm sure I'll deluge you with more of that crap sooner than later.

Angry Birds Attack Bank of America

Single mom, newly divorced, trying to stay in her condo, tired of fighting the banks, appealing to their humanity or being enslaved to the home she and her two daughters live in – the home where both little girls were born and raised – straps on massive artillery over her head to toe black industrial leather (and quite sexy) clothing, hops on her Hyabusa and screams at indecent speeds down the freeway to the headquarters of Bank of America in the middle of the night and, with weaponry that would make the boys of Blackhawk Down hopeful, takes out the largest crook in America, single-handedly freeing up hundreds of thousands of Americans grifted out of hard-earned money just to stay in a place they call home. She rides home, makes a midnight grilled cheese sandwich, dismisses the babysitter, checks on and kisses both little girls and then settles down for the best sleep of her life. The end.

With the exception of everything that comes after the "...straps on massive artillery..." that's the plot of my life at this time. Instead of digging my heels in and spending exorbitant amounts of energy and time that I don't have to gather paperwork, make calls, investigate and fight Bank of America, I'm just gonna walk away from my condo. I'm short-selling. Attempting to move to an apartment about five minutes from where I work. Call me a quitter. I've quit lots of things in my life. I have no shame in quitting when the fight becomes irrelevant. I don't know what's sadder...people who fight themselves into the grave or people who consistently give up when the going gets too rough. Both are sad.

I think I'm somewhere in the middle.  I give it a good shot...when something seems impossible and I say "I can't" something clicks in me where I immediately turn into "Oh, but I can, someway, somehow make this work."

Have you ever played Angry Birds? There are some levels that are A BITCH to get through. Even youtubing tutorials can't help and all that you can do to get through the level is keep flicking stupid (but cute) little, angry birds til the walls come tumbling down. But what I realized in some of my quite obsessive almost hypnotic playing, replaying AND replaying of some levels is that every one of them has a way to be beaten. The developer didn't create a level that's impossible to get through. You just have to think about the weak points, aim, shoot and keep trying til you get every single stupid, green oinking pig dead as a package of bacon in your grocer's meat section, crushed beneath virtual wood, stone and metal detritus.

If you have never played Angry Birds, disregard that last paragraph and understand this: There IS a way to get through anything in life. There's a way to "beat" any situation. It just depends on how much you are willing to sit down and assess what's in front of you. Then, from there it depends on just how much you're willing to focus on and devote yourself to winning the game. So to speak.

If you're ready and able to stay in a fight for the long-haul, then great. But there comes a time, *laughs – even in video games!*  when you get sick and tired of trying the same thing over and over then switching up strategies and nope that doesn't work let's go back to plan G... There comes a time when you have to sit down and say is all this REALLY worth it?

Maybe some time has passed. Maybe your priorities are different than they were a week, a year, 5 years ago. Maybe your health is declining (my last two doctor visits I had high blood-pressure readings...I've NEVER had high bp in my entire life. EVER). Maybe you're getting depressed, trying to stay positive most days and some days you're just sad. Maybe your fight seems more robotic than passionate. Maybe...just maybe quitting isn't really about giving up. Even if you know if you had a little more time, a little more effort you could win. Maybe it's just about realizing life is not really about stress and good fronts and status and what we have. It's about happiness. Peace. Serenity. LIVING.

Life is about living. If I'm a slave to anyone or anything I'm not living my life. I'm just existing. I've "only existed" at various points in my lifetime and I much prefer the breathing, laughing, freeing aspect of LIVING today. If that doesn't make sense to you, that's ok. It makes sense to me.

So I am going through the roller-coaster emotions of philosophical contentment to fear of leaving my comfort zone (regardless of how uncomfortable it is)...leaving the town I grew up in, and moving away from family and friends (not far...about 30 minutes) to start a new life in a familiar area. Like I've written before, life is meant to be an adventure. Today I choose not to look at the negatives of downsizing and renting and all that crap. Today I look at the positive: a fresh start, a new life, new chances, new faces, new adventures.

Plus, out here I am told that at night the only thing you hear are coyotes. And an occasional car. I tell you, that does this country-girl-at-heart some mighty good. I'm tired of squealing tires, sirens and the constant drone of the rubber river that runs in front of my condo.

Now...if they could just put a BofA building in the next version of Angry Birds...oh that would be SWEET.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Desktop Publishing Image Tips for Gardeners

This is an enhanced version of a mini-tutorial I sent a friend today in regards to why I needed an original image file to put in a printed piece, versus using an image from a low-res second-generation pdf embedded in a Word document.

This is NOT an end-all, be-all op-ed on the various techniques I mention below. There are lots of work-arounds to get what you need and want with the – sometimes crap – stuff you're handed to work with.  There's uprezzing, large dimension vs small dpi...lots of fun tips and tricks for making what you have work. Nope, just wanted to have some fun to illustrate the sometimes frustrating life of desktop publishing.

If you are a graphic designer, laugh. It is better than crying.

If you are a client who uses a graphic designer for ANYTHING you print, this, my dear, is for you.

Level 1: The Source File
Sometimes called a NATIVE file. This is better than the top of the heap. This is sitting on the garden table, high above dirt and grime. This is Indesign, Word, Quark, Publisher, Illustrator, Photoshop, etc.  Viewed on the computer, it’s the cleanest, purest form of viewing a document destined for print or web. This piece is shiny clean, sparkling in the sunlight. Little birds are chirping and butterflies are flitting. And you don’t have to wash your hands. WOOT!

Level 2: The Layout File
For many designers it’s InDesign with placed NATIVE (source) graphics such as Photoshop or Illustrator files. But this can be any desktop publishing program. This is still a clean piece, nicely editable and the placed graphics are easily accessed to be edited if necessary, easily updated in your Layout File afterwards. There is also a wonderful links path clearly showing where the native files are housed. If a layout file is sent to a designer, all links (source/native files) used in the layout are also sent. Designers LOVE using Native Files in Layout Files. It’s like plant-food.  Roses are blooming all over. It’s still sunny, you’re still clean. Draw in a looonng, deep breath of fresh air. Pat your dog’s head. Life is good.

Level 3: The PDF
This is that clean layout file exported to a PDF format for viewing either on web, or to be printed. There is compression of some kind depending on settings. This is still a pretty clean form of imagery for print or web, but there is a chance you might have to clean it up a bit for optimal viewing. Get out your duster or hankie and start polishing up those optimal settings.

Level 4: Placing a PDF into a Layout File
Get your trowel, kneepads and gloves because this is where the digging begins. A placed PDF can be clean and print-ready, but the link to original source files (such as images, another layout file, etc.) is not direct. Uhoh. Now you have to know where the layout file for the PDF resides if any changes need to be made, then RE-PDF that layout file, then relink the saved-as PDF. Do you even have that original file? Aw. The little birds and butterflies just flew away. That’s sad.

Level 5: Screengrabs (aka Screenshots, Screencaptures)
Time for the shovel. This can work depending on the job, especially if it’s for web. But in most cases this is a bad idea for anything being printed unless you have a ginormous screen and are using the image in a teeny space. Clouds have hidden the sun and it is oddly quiet except for the faint sound of your neighbor’s Dog the Bounty Hunter reruns filtering through the blood-pressure thumping in your ears. YOUR dog just went in the house and you realize your knees are getting too old for this crap.

Level 6: Creating a PDF from a Layout File Using PDF Links
Digging deeper still. You now have worms and other creepy-crawlies. You are viewing a compressed file that uses compressed files.  Like your knees, your images have 2nd generation compression and it is painful! By now you are up to your elbows in a dark and dirty hole: your image quality is rank and if you need to edit the images, well, good luck. You start scooping desperately with your bare hands. Big birds have returned but are circling high overhead (you might want to wear a hat).

Level 7: Image Taken from Web to Use in Print
It is advisable to don coveralls because you’re gonna be working with shit. Web images use standard 72 dpi resolution. Printed pieces use standard 300 dpi. You are shocked when your gorgeous, colorful, big picture from that cool website prints out in a 1-inch square and is made up of lots of little boxes. Oops...one of the birds dropped a big one on you. Do you hear thunder? Well, thank goodness for your coveralls and hat.

Level 8: Extracting a Native File Image from Word
You my friend have just busted a water line. Just because your beautiful and maybe even high resolution TIFF or JPG or PNG picture is easy to put in Word doesn’t mean it’s easy to take out. Word embeds files and when they are extracted the image quality is poor regardless of the original quality, even for web viewing. And, you now resemble Wile E. Coyote after an explosion of ACME Mud Bombs. You stand there, blinking your eyes wondering where your Help sign went. Maybe the dog took it.

Level 9: Extracting a screengrab, 2nd-, 3rd-generation, etc., image from a Word document or low res pdf
You have fallen deep into the hole, which is filling rapidly with rain and Lassie is nowhere in sight.

Level 10: A Screengrab of an Embedded Image in Word
You disappeared after the storm. Your family wonders why Lassie keeps digging in the garden.