This is the story of a girl

Who cried a river and drowned the whole world

and while she looks so sad in photographs

I absolutely love her

When she smiles

Do you know that song? You know how you can hear just the words “this is a story” and you can immediately connect the lyrics and sing the whole song 500 times in your head (or out loud) after that? And then your husband (or boss, or teacher, or friend) says “AS I WAS SAYING this is a story about cattle futures and the stock market . . . ” Or, actually, my husband or boss or teacher (if I had a teacher) would never say that. Maybe “. . . about Edward Gorey” or “. . . about intellectual property, counterfeit product sales online and their crossover into phishing fraud.” Or something like that. Anyway – I LOVE THAT.

I find great comfort in the familiar. It’s soothing to me to hear a song I know and love. The cadence, the words, they all flow through my mind effortlessly and, if I love the song, it makes me happy. Like a hug (because hugs make you happy. Unless your heart is cold, black and shriveled up). The same with my favorite old tv shows or the same books I have thumbed through a dozen times or more. The characters are like visiting with old friends and the familiar words are like a salve to my metaphorical open wounds.

On a recent business trip I had to figure out a book to take with me.

(Yes, technologically adept as I like to consider myself I do still have an overwhelming affinity for actual books. I like to feel them in my hands. I like to dog-ear the corners. I fear the term “dog-ear” will go out of fashion in 2.5 seconds due to all the electronics permeating our society. I’m so conflicted).

I have no less than 7 books on my bedside table that I have barely started or not cracked at all, but when I turned to grab one none appealed. Why? Well, there’s a lot of newness in my work life and I just couldn’t stand the idea of embarking on a new journey with a new author and a new story to work through in my already clouded and over-taxed head.

What if I didn’t like it 30 pages in? What if it was sad and depressing? What if it didn’t hug my soul like a tried and true good book can do?

So I chose an old favorite. Through 4 “please watch the safety demonstration in the event of an emergency landing” monologues while “all electronic equipment is switched off” I plowed through my old favorite, smiling at the words, remembering the characters. I found myself immersed, once again, entirely in the movie in my head – how Amelia’s jetty black hair looked (via a bottle, shhh), her blushing indulgence to femininity in her crimson gowns and fancy undergarments, and her painful need to be right and strong ,and her huge heart and conflicted morality. Ahhhh. There is nothing like catching up with old friends on long plane rides.

Or is it catching up with yourself? I have a theory (supported by nothing except my second Diet Pepsi tonight) that when we connect with something from the past – a book, a movie, a song, even a fragrance – it can take you back to the old YOU. The person you were then, when you first loved it, and it can feel like a comfort because it makes you feel like, or connect with – consciously or not – the old you. That old friend that you knew better than anyone, foibles and all, before you went through the experiences that makes you the YOU of today.

Over the summer I made several long car trips by myself (or with my children, but with THEIR electronic equipment I may as well have been by myself) and I had this odd thing happen. On one trip I was in the middle of the Oregon desert, the boys had their headphones on and I resorted to mindlessly hitting “seek” in hopes of finding something interesting. There were 3 radio stations that came in; one was political news (not on your life), the other was in Spanish (and that gets old when you don’t speak it), and the third . . . just happened to be playing a country song I LOVED when I was in high school (and filled with high school angst, I might add). I found myself singing the words before I could even remember the name of the song or who sang it. I just knew that I knew the words and as I sang each verse and got closer to the chorus I remembered the full song and . . . tears. No kidding. Tears. Because that song comforted me when I was a teen and broken-hearted and here I was, so many years later, and BAM! It pulled at my heart and I was in tears. I don’t remember the who, what or why of that broken-heart – I just remember the emotion the song conveyed all those years ago.

It’s like that movie with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. Sleepless in Seattle? And she’s in the car driving and listening to him on the radio, in a bit of a trance, and he just says something that clicks with her heart (something her mother had said, about love & magic) and she’s crying. Just like that. Those things they reverberate in your soul.

Or is that just me? Bah. Maybe. But that’s okay. I can own it.

So – if you find me listening to the soundtrack for The Sound of Music in my headphones please don’t mock because I’m probably a major stressball and I’m just reverting to my childhood happy place as a coping mechanism. Back when my mom and I used to pop popcorn and watch this movie every year around the holidays when it came on tv and I felt loved and when I watched Julie Andrews sing and I could breathe and I knew ALL THINGS IN LIFE WERE POSSIBLE.

Ahhh. Sigh. Breathe. Repeat.

Mucho amor, mes amis!

Stef

(No, I don’t speak Spanish. Or French. It’s Frenish. Just go with it).

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Cap’n Tightpants

So you may not know this about me (because I seem so calm, cool, and collected, right?) but I have to let the truth be known: I have some geeky qualities. It’s true.

Shocking I know.

Here it is, the confession: I have a deep, abiding love for Firefly.

Not the glowing bugs. (Though, hey, glowing bugs are cool).

Not the Owl City song. (But I like that as well)

Firefly. The much-beloved though short-lived Joss Whedon show that was only on broadcast tv for one season, but was so loved that is often played in marathon style on the Sci-Fi channels AND was able to get a movie as a follow-up to the series.

You know it, right? RIGHT?

THIS is Captain Malcolm Reynolds:

I aim to misbehave

Yummy. Just yummy.

You may recognize the actor, Nathan Fillion, from the show Castle. Or, if you’re a Whedonite, from Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog as Captain Hammer. By the way, if you don’t know what I’m talking about then please, please, get thee to Netflix streaming, or elsewhere online, and watch it. (Because the hammer is his penis. But not really. There’s no nudity. Just watch it).

Whenever I’m feeling a little low all I have to do is look to Firefly to get a dose of Cap’n Tightpants. The actor, the character and the story. It just WORKS.

But I shouldn’t dwell on Mal. I mean, he’s the star and he’s really fabulous, but the other actors and characters are all equally intriguing. Kayleigh with her naivete and charm. Inara with her smoldering beauty and hidden love for Mal.  Simon and the nerdy hotness. River and her quirkiness. Walsh’s comic relief. Jayne and his douchery. Shepherd Book and his suspicious background. And, duh, Zoe with ass-kicking-tough-as nails-ness.

If you are completely mystified here and think I’m utterly nuts then I only have one thing to say to you: embrace your inner geek and fall in love with Firefly. It will make you a happier person.

You may thank me later.

Happy Friday,

Stef

I’m an escape artist

I don’t know about you, but I find life to be quite overwhelming at times. Like so overwhelming I just want to bury my head in the sand until it all goes away. Or go to sleep. But I can’t do either of those things long-term so I cope by using various methods of escape.

TV

Shows like the Bachelor/ette/pad are perfect for this. Or other shows where I totally love the characters and storylines – like Bones. Because at the end of the day I’ve had it. No more thinking. No more problems. No more reasoning required. Just entertain me, please.

But I don’t watch a ton of TV. It’s just not our habit to sit for hours and hours every day or watch all the new shows that come on every season. I could do that – don’t get me wrong – but it screws up our life too much. Prime-time tv starts at 7 PM here and usually I’m just getting home from work then and cleaning the kitchen or making dinner. So we Tivo the shows we love and watch them later. At our leisure. When I’m ready for my escape.

BUT – there are 4 of us in this house and really only one tv that we use most of the time. So occasionally the boys (including my husband) want to watch Phineas & Ferb or some other cartoonish show or movie that I’m not down with watching. So I go barricade myself in my woman-cave (as my hubby calls it) and get online.

The Internets

Now, obviously I have a lot of legitimate reasons to be online. I work online all day long. That’s my business. But I also get all my news online, I shop online, and it’s my first choice for communication these days. (And my iPhone feeds this habit swimmingly).

But, man, what a time suck! I love getting caught up on blogs that I’ve been ignoring, but I can literally sit there for HOURS and not get up-to-date on my Twitter feed, my blog reading and Facebook stuff. Not to mention getting around to writing something on my OWN blog. (oh hai!).

iPhone, baby

Speaking of my iPhone it has got to rank pretty high here. I use it so often and for so many different reasons that it’s hard to justify calling it an escape but it totally is – at certain times. Last night, for example, we decided to all watch the Johnny Depp Alice in Wonderland movie. We’ve seen it before – like 3 times – so there was nothing NEW to see. So I pulled out my phone and was following my Twitter feed and responding to a few things. The hubby was all ‘what are you doing’ and ‘it would be nice if you watched a movie with us.’ *SIGH* So, yeah, I get busted when I do that. But, HELLO, if I only have a marginal interest in the show then my brain is only engaged about 15%. What do I do with the rest?? (I’d like to point out that he fell asleep 10 minutes later and I actually saw more of the movie than he did. Hmphf.)

Books

When I’ve had my fill of technology I rely on my old-standby – a bath & a book. Actually, to be honest, if I’m reading a really good book it often takes precedence over all my other escape routes. Good books do that. I neglect everything in the sweet storylines and wonderfully slow-building anticipation of a good, must-read book. I haven’t felt that I-can’t-put-this-down-until-I-know-what-happens kind of pull in a while though – probably not since I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series. (So, any good recommendations?)

Working-out

Okay, all of that to say – I’m trying to change my escapist tendencies. Oh, I’m not silly enough to think that I’ll stop procrastinating and dodging life a bit – I’ll totally still do that as long as life is hard (and it is, like, too hard) – but I’m trying to channel my escapes into something more productive. Something that will make my life better rather than perpetuate the cycle.

I started doing this in July when I began working-out regularly. I was doing really well. It pains me to admit this, but I fell off the wagon a bit. I went on a business trip a few weeks ago and then I wasn’t feeling too hot for a few days the next week and – BOOM – momentum and motivation down the tubes.

BUT that’s about to change. I just registered for my first 5k walk. It’s 2 weeks from today (coincidentally, or not, the day I turn 36). There’s another I’m going to do in mid-October as well. I’m determined to make my escapism work for ME.

By the way, 36 is going to ROCK. I’m sure of it.

So what are your escapist habits? And are they good or bad or somewhere in between? Did you overcome them? And where do you find motivation?? Help me. HELP ME. I need all the commiseration, encouragement and we’re-in-it-togetherness that I can possibly get right now.

Now I’m off to make Mexican 5 layer dip and contemplate doing 3 miles tonight tomorrow.