Tuesday, September 22, 2009

what i want now...

A manicure.

I’ve only had one manicure in my entire life.

It was two days before my wedding and I went to the salon to have a manicure and pedicure.

My sister and my mom came along. I can’t remember if they got their nails done too, but they’re not the point of this story, so I guess it doesn’t really matter.

I remember being embarrassed, apologizing to the nail lady {technician?} about my short nails and picked cuticles.

I had good intentions of letting my nails grow for my wedding day, but as the stress built up, I did what I always did, and picked at my nails and cuticles until they were red and raw.

I am not a nail biter and never have been, but I think I take after my mom and her sister in the picking department. We are cuticle pickers. And although I loathe band aids, I always remember my mom having a band aid around her most recent hangnail. My aunt is the same way. Rarely will you see her hands without a band aid wrapped around a fingertip.

But not me, I despise band aids – on any part of my body really, but on my hands the most. They get wet and soggy and the little blood stain visible from the outside is disgusting. I’d rather leave my cuticles and cuts to heal in the open air. And maybe, I often thought, when they are not hidden from the public, I will be so embarrassed oneday, that I will stop. Stop picking, and pulling and bleeding.

And so, on that day, mere hours before my wedding, as she was attempting to make my little stubs of nails look elegant, because above all else, I was sorely opposed to fake nails, all I could think about was how embarrassing it was to have someone trying to make my gross nails look nice for the biggest day of my life.

And so I sat there, apologizing to a woman I’m sure has seen worse. And before knew it, she made my sad nails look great. Creamy and opaque, she worked her magic on them, and when I see the pictures of our wedding now, I don’t notice how short my nails were, but how shiny and bright my wedding ring looked next to my perfectly manicured nails.

So, why am I telling you this, you ask?

Well, since then, I’ve {almost} stopped picking my fingers entirely. I will admit, there are the days when old habits return in a haze of boredom or anxiety, but for the most part my hands always look pretty nice – except for the occasional cooking burn.

I give the credit to the my use of neutral nail polish and top coat. I almost always have a coat or two of creamy beige polish on my fingernails. After years of complaining about thin nails, I have found the key – put stuff on them to make them thicker.

So I do.

Curtis makes fun of me, because at least once a week {he’ll say it’s more, but he’s wrong} I sit at the dining room table and do my nails. He thinks I use the excuse, “but my nails are wet,” too often when he asks me to do something. In reality it is barely once a week.

But that’s how I’ve cut down on hangnails and nails picked down to the quick. I keep them polished, then they look too good to mess with.

The other effect of polishing my nails is that they grow like weeds.

I don’t like long fingernails, and because I’ve never had this problem before, I am un-used to the need to file or cut my nails down. Now, however, I find that I have to make an effort to keep them at a length I like. When I can’t dip my finger into a tub of lipgloss without getting it under my nail – that’s when I know they have to be shorter.

So. Now summer is over and the weather is transitioning to fall and all I find myself wanting is a manicure.

Some ask why I don’t just go get them done. And although I know it really doesn’t cost that much, it just seems so extravagant. But all I keep thinking about is how that lady made me feel on my wedding day, and how I would love a dark coat of something dramatic to start of the autumn in style.

So I might, just might, see if I can make myself an appointment in the next couple weeks to get them done. A small splurge, and I’ll forgo highlights for another couple weeks to afford it, and I’ll use that as my excuse why I can’t do the dishes or change the laundry.

*photo above was taken when my wedding ring was being fixed...hence the cute, stackable rings, sans diamond

autumn equinox :: 5:18 pm

as summer spirals
sways, spins and swirls
we waver at your hands constant pull

wallow and weary we savor the last drops of
heat and the headstrong ways that overcome our
doubt, disbelief and desire

a commotion we maintain through solstice into equinox
through dusk till dawn

an internal combustion
a combination of regret and relief
hope and hilarity
defiance and desire

we are uncommon myths
figments of our sad imaginations
shadows in the deep set eyes of summer

and we wait
for leaves to drop and nights to lengthen
until all we hold tight in sweaty palms
are stars and songs of summer's past

Saturday, September 19, 2009

a gift from the sea

I’m finding it difficult lately to keep up – beyond the housecleaning and laundry and dishes, beyond trips to the grocery store and target and cvs . I am finding it hard to keep up with life. close friends we only see every month or two, family we squeeze in less than once a week, and then there’s technology. there are shows I want to watch, blogs I’ve tried to catch up on for days now, emails to write, books to read, a bible to understand, a journal to write it, stories to create. and now I’m exhausted just thinking about it - about all I not only have to do, but want to do.

a {friend} recently recommended a book to me. a classic.

A Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I googled it. The cover jogged a long-lost piece of my memory. when I worked at Anthropologie many moons ago, we sold this book. I remember merchandising it one summer, amidst sand and shells. I never bought it.

So on Wednesday night I payed my friend Emily a visit at borders where she worked and bought it.

We only got to chat for a second because I had milk and produce in the trunk of my car and she was being summoned by her boss. they were out of the soft cover so she gave me a coupon to buy the hard cover version, making the price comparable.

That night I began to read. and fifty or so years after she wrote the words, they cut deep.

I am still in the process of reading this short treasure of a book but when I’m finished, I’m sure I’ll have excerpts to share and further thoughts on simplicity.

So until then, I weigh the needs with the wants and try to find a balance between the business and the still.

words and silence

doubt and faith.

All of life is a mingling of contradictions. a truth I am coming to cherish.

takes the pressure off sometimes.

Friday, September 18, 2009

book review: Sarah's Key

Sarah’s Key
by Tatiana de Rosnay

A double-sided story, in a sense.

Two plotlines walk hand-in-hand, side-by-side, as you or i, the reader, somewhat stumble between the two.

one: The story of a young girl in France at the time of the holocaust. The round-up of all French Jews leaves her story to unfold.

two: The story of a middle-aged American-born, French-residing journalist in the 90’s.

The language is simple and the easy way that it is written almost makes you forget the weight of the past –

It is history, our history, yet as I finished the book this week, I couldn’t help but critique it in my mind.

Some of the plot lines and the predicable ending – left me thinking more of style then of substance.

With so much potential, and a fascinating subject I cannot say I enjoyed this book as those who encouraged me to read it did, however, I am glad I finished it and now have that portion of history tucked in my mind.

It is a morsel of sadness I do not savor.

This is my book review of Sarah’s Key. Take it or leave it, read it or don’t. But if you do, do tell what you thought.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

i write. i am a writer.

I’ve been pretty quiet on the blogging front lately – but with good reason. As I have alluded to, I have made a big decision this past week. Nothing that really concerns anyone else, so I think I will continue to keep it locked up for now, but I will let you in on a bit of my thought process lately…

Late last week I read this quote, and immediately jotted it down in my quote notebook:

“No one likes to write but everyone likes to have written.”~Joel Salzman

I consider myself a writer. It has taken me a long time to be able to claim that title.

In college we were all writers – I found myself surrounded by talented people – me and the rest of the English department. We all could write, wanted to write, did write. We wrote for a degree. We wrote for workshops and occasionally we wrote for fun. Those were the days when the juices were flowing, where I’d keep scraps of paper with ideas for future stories and poetry and papers.

But those days came to a close in May 2006 when I finally walked that big stage and got my diploma. After that I was lucky to take five minutes to write in my journal each evening.

And then I became a professional writer. Sounds glamorous {it's really not} and when people ask what I do for a living, no matter how I put it, I get that all too familiar glazed over look.

I work at a marketing firm as a copy writer.

I work at a marketing firm as a content specialist

I work at a marketing firm as writer

I am a copy writer

I am a writer

No matter how I phrase it, I still get glassy eyes and teethy smiles. “Oh, how interesting,” they respond. And I feel foolish and question my capability with words.

But little by little, although the responses have been the same {and I’ve got more evidence from Sunday to prove it} the fact remains and my confidence builds.

I am a writer.

I may not have my choice in what I write, but I write, and people pay me to do it and I am pretty good at it {if I do say so myself}

Which leads me to my reason for telling you this…

I spend my days writing for clients – hours and hours of writing…I write about hotels and travel and insurance and banking and everything in between, but although it pays well, it is less than satisfying to my creative writing self. So when I read that quote the other day, I thought to myself…after days of writing for clients, I think it’s time I started writing for myself again.

So what does this mean? I’m not really sure. I have some ideas, but what I do know is that I don’t want to reach the end of my days wishing I would have written. in my style, my tone, in my words.

So I will muster the courage to open a blank word document and I will write.

And I will make it a priority to hold onto my voice amidst all the other voices that have too easily become my inspiration.

And I will follow where the words take me…and I will write.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

an anticlimactic announcement of sorts

I feel flushed. hot. shaky. feverish even.

I made a big decision on thursday and now I have that all too familiar nauseas feeling that I’ve gotten in the past when I know there’s no turning back.

And today it's settled. there is no turning back.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

old truths with new meaning

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,

whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream
and does not fear when the heat comes,
for its leaves remain green
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit."
Jeremiah 17:7-8

"Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
Yet i will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior."
Habakkuk 3:17-18

Friday, September 4, 2009

so, i thought i was ready for fall...

IMG_2240, originally uploaded by jpenick999.

but i'm not so sure anymore. we've been having glorious weather this week - mid-70's and sunny - that's supposed to continue throughout the long holiday weekend, so we have more warm weather activities planned to enjoy.

tonight we're thinking about going to the baseball game downtown - tomorrow who knows - maybe one last trip to the pool for the summer, a bike ride...? sunday holds my neice's dedication at their church followed by a bbq with my hub's side of the fam. we're thinking about hitting up another county's fair too. monday is another full day with another bbq (hosted by my parents) and a birthday party for one special three year old - my little cousin patrick...

so, i'm thinking, that although i do love fall, i want to suck up every last drop of summer before it ends.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Today, these are the reasons I love September, Thursday edition.

boots on grass, originally uploaded by jpenick999.

flipping the calendar page to my favorite month
thick cozy sweaters and bulky scarves
skinny jeans tucked into boots
journals and chapstick tucked inside of leather bags
the crisp and crunch of leaves underfoot
hounds-tooth and wool and brown and maroon
a list of books to read bedside under down comforters
mugs of warm drinks at night to keep hands warm
socks and slippers and sweats
sleeping with the window open and burrowing under covers
apple picking, apple cider, apple sauce, apple pie
simmering soup and bread for sustenance
the slow, deliberate mood of a new season
hankering down for winter’s approach
savoring every mild day before the first frost

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

on G.K. Chesterton

In the last few days I have stumbled upon more than one quote by G.K. Chesterton…

Gilbert Keith Chesterton, possibly one of the most influential English writers of the 20th century. “Prince of paradox” he’s been called, according to Wikipedia, he wrote around 80 books, several hundred poems, around 200 short stories, 4000 essays, and several plays. Wow. He was one busy man.

Here is what I read on my friend Marisa’s blog - {Marisa Writes} - a few days ago:

“It is easy to be heavy, hard to be light.”

Then the next day I read this online somewhere:

“There are two ways to get enough: one is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.”

So, last night, I did a search for more by G.K. Chesterton, here is what I found:

“The simplification of anything is always sensational.”

“The rich are the scum of the earth in every country.”

To me, all of these quotes go together quite seamlessly. All speak of simplicity and the simple idea that wealth is not found in the abundance of things.

I asked Curtis if he’d ever read any G.K. Chesterton and he proudly responded, “I think I have one of his books.”

So he went to look and I continued by online reading. A few minutes later, he descended the stairs with a little orange paperback entitled, Orthodoxy. Not quite what I was expecting. I read the first few paragraphs of the tiny writing and was confused. There must be hidden gems inside these tiny pages, I thought to myself as I carried the book to my nightstand last night. We will see, it just might take a while.

I will leave you with this quote, not from G.K. Chesterton, but by Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the United States. He wrote:

“There is no dignity quite so impressive, and no one independence quite so important as living within your means.”

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

the view from my laptop this evening

this is what's in front of me tonight
at 8:41 pm
it is a good night

my autumn reading list

Let me start out by saying that i cannot believe that it is September. wow.

Last night i spent the evening tying up the loose ends of August. i never get around to my end of the month tasks if the end of the month is midweek. i was so very proud of myself...especially for a monday night. but i did, which means tonight i can relax, catch up on my google reader and post about all the books I'm planning on reading this autumn.

So let this post be known as my fall reading list post.

Currently i am reading a few different books.
I typically try to keep my book reading to only one book at a time, with a few exceptions.
But i have broken my rule, as i am accustomed to doing and have three books started on my nightstand, as well as my bible, as i type this on the couch.

Sarah's Key by Tatiana deRosnay - I have just started this novel, but it is the story of a Jewish family in France during the holocaust. It came highly recommended by my grandmother, dad and others, so i have begun to read it with high expectations

An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination: A Memoir by Elizabeth McCrackon - A few months ago, i heard McCrackon on NPR talking about her new memoir. It is the story of the loss of a child. Of her first child, as they were living as writers in France. I'm not sure what drew me to this book, but after getting it from the library on Saturday, I am almost 3/4 of the way through. A poignant retelling of loss in the most beautiful of language, it has been captivating from the first short chapter.

Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant edited by Jenni Ferrari-Adler - I read a book review of this collection online a few weeks ago, and quickly requested it from the library. It is a collection of essays by chefs and writers on what they eat and cook when eating alone. A fascinating look lonliness, and aloneness as it pertains to food.

After I finish these three books, and I've promised myself that IK will not start any other books until I do - these are the next books on my list of "to-reads" -

Someone Knows My Name (Canadian title: The Book of Negros) by Lawrence Hill
That Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngazi Adiche
I Wish Someone Were Waiting for Me Somewhere by Anna Geralda
The Confessions of Edward Day by Valerie Martin
The Almond Picker by Simonetta Agnello Hornby
Mudband by Hillary Jordan
The Space Between Us byThruty Umrigar
A Happy Marriage by Rafeil Yglesias
The Time Traveler's Wife by Robert Schwentke

My list could go on and on, but let's be realistic here - this is more than enough books to get me through to winter.
What are you reading these days??? Anything worth sharing?

*photo courtesy of me - a windy library staircase in a law building in Toronto

Template by suckmylolly.com - background image by elmer.0