Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Memories make my life look like a clothesline of sepia pictures, all hanging about at an artsy, off-center angle. In memory, food tastes better, light glows soft and mellow, and trips taken seem smoother. Squabbles either lose or gain significance in recollection, leaving me to wonder why I let something so small damage a relationship or why I reigned in my opinion.

Moving from one phase of life to the next throws that sepia glow hallmark of memory over the present. It all seems so much sweeter and I'm left wondering how I ever overlooked any details of my current life. Why didn't I spend more time with some people and less worrying about the opinions of others? Why didn't I visit that restaurant? When did that park get there? Why am I leaving again? And then I stop asking, for I know as soon as I decide to stay based on familiarity alone, my presently positive perspective will vanish in a wave of humidity. I know I must go. I also know, upon returning, I will appreciate all I left behind whatever the temperature or pollen count. Sometimes you just need a fresh start to see that next step. And sometimes, I suppose, you have to make that jump alone.

Best part, though? Moving alone doesn't require loneliness; for, I've found I'm only as lonely as I allow myself to be.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


In the not so distant future, phone companies will begin issuing phones used exclusively for texting. Talking capabilities will become an optional feature. We've already moved that direction, really. Most phone plans offer a limited bundle of minutes but unlimited texting capabilities. Many people prefer to text rather than call. Why is that? Convenience, I think. One can get the answer he needs from one friend while in the midst of a social gathering with several others, and all without breaking the flow of conversation. One can offer criticism he'd never be able to utter in spoken conversation, get an opinion on shoes while in a library, or send a jumble of punctuation to imitate some facial expression. The possibilities seem limitless!

While I do not deny texting is a helpful tool for a short answer, an address, or quick "Hey, I was thinking about you" blurb (Who doesn't love those? I enjoy them! They're something like leaving a sticky note hello on the cubicle adjacent yours.), it has morphed into a mainstay of communication. Talk about inconvenient! A text message conversation often proves lengthier than dialing and dialoguing. Determining plans for the evening is a good example. Say you send a text to your friend--let's call her Pheobe--and say, "Hi Pheobes! Wat's up?" To which she responds, "Heya. Nada. Want 2 do something tonight?"
"Yes!!! OMG, I;m starving."
"Where u want 2 go?"
"IDK...I went lsat night..."
"Eww! Gross to the max."

And so it continues. Now, during all of this, you and Pheobe have exchanged eight texts so far, all with a gap of typing and waiting for a response. Wouldn't it have been easier to pick up your phone, call, and have a three minute conversation as opposed to ten to fifteen of typing? Or, let's say you accidentally typed something like: "Not italian. breadsticks make u fat and bloaty...they always do that to me." Only you typed this particular phrase toward the end of your message without noticing you overstepped your 160 character limit, leaving off the crucial last segment implying you meant breadsticks were a dilemma for you personally. You alone. Pheobe takes offense, as she's been overeating the past two days and feels sensitive about the effects. You meet for salads and can't determine why she made a snippy comment about your outfit or why she didn't order the ranch dressing she prefers. When you ask her why she chose the vinaigrette, all hell breaks loose. See? You should have just called her.

Now, gents, this texting business has become a chronic issue for many of you. When you ask a girl for her number, DO NOT text her immediately thereafter. Give her a day and then CALL her. Make the extra effort to show her you have time for her. A text implies you're busy doing other things, but you felt obligated to touch base. It's the chicken's way out. It's too easy. She won't appreciate it. And heaven forbid you follow an text inquiry as to the state of her day with one of those dreadful little smiley faces. C'mon men! Would you send her a letter and seal it with a yellow Wal-Mart sticker? No! You're a man! Don't type like a middle school girl. Use your words to communicate your smile; don't bastardize punctuation in a gross quest to be cutesy. Be thoughtful. Go further than society's standard. It will set you apart.

Text responsibly.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pasta Sauce

Between a conversation with a dear friend and a trip down the pasta aisle at Kroger, I decided to attempt my own pasta sauce. What's been stopping me? Prego's ease? The fear of undercooking tomatoes? Lack of initiative? Whatever the culprit, I began rummaging through the fridge and pantry for sauce worthy ingredients. Extra steak in the freezer? Perfect! I had been wondering what to do with that. I browned it right up with some freshly-pressed garlic and extra chaste olive oil, threw in some sea salt for good measure, and foraged for veggies. Mushrooms seemed appropriate. Tomatoes, of course. Spinach was up for debate, but I couldn't resist the deep green hue. I wasn't sure what to toss in for that little kick, that something different, the yum factor. Would you know it, I discovered a nearly empty bottle of merlot slightly beyond hope of straight sipping and employed it to harness the sweetness of the tomatoes. Presto! My newest concoction sits stewing on the counter. I can't wait for dinner.

You're right, Anna. There isn't a better use for those leftover bits of meat from the week.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


This time two years ago, I decided to drive to a fancy salon (dear, brave friend en tow), and have my hair cropped to my ears. At that time, it fell four-plus inches below my shoulders and had remained in that general vicinity since the sixth grade. One-length, haphazard layers, and simple for years. I wanted an air of maturity, so I commissioned my stylist to make it something like Reese Witherspoon's 'do in Sweet Home Alabama. The finished cut looked nothing like the picture I brought, but it proved a cute style nonetheless. It felt so airy and sophisticated and cost less than I anticipated. I was hooked.

Over the course of the following year, I changed styles every two or three months. Stacked, a-line, choppy, razored, pixie--I tried them all. For a solid month, my hair matched my boyfriend's exactly (unintentional and hilarious and surprisingly stylish on both of us). The hair salon near my house in Demorest took me as a regular. I had a stylist, and this, right along with my shiny new college diploma, made me feel all grown up. She, Debbi, took to asking, "Hey Ali. What would you like to try this time?" She liked my adventuresome willingness and indecision. I'd let her try nearly anything she wanted, brought in new pictures, and gave her the opportunity to practice whatever she had learned at the latest beauty convention. No dyeing, though. I've never been able to venture from my original color; I like it too much.

Short hair was cute and trendy and I relished playing with styles, but I began to miss the femininity of length and flow. I missed having those last few inches brush my shoulders and upper back when I wore strapless. I missed ponytails. I missed twirling stray pieces when I felt pensive or sleepy. And so I've allowed it freedom to grow over the past year or so. Know what I've decided? I think every young lady should have the chance to feel the surge of independence in chopping her hair to that risky length. Go ahead and try it. As for me, I've had my hair-cropping adventure. It's length I like, and length I will fight to maintain.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Potato Peel Pie

The business of being a nanny has perks similar to those of a teacher. My breaks coincide with those of the child's. This means her nap time is my free time. It's as though I have a scheduled tea time in the middle of the day, the perfect chance to write or catch up on my reading.

Today's selection is a fictional collection of letters and the product of two authors, one of whom died mid-project. I find the latter scribbler's finishing the project a testimony to friendship and family. She was the original writer's niece. Most notably, she took the time to learn her aunt's style so as to preserve her work. What a blessed relation! The backstory aside, it's promising to be a glassy-smooth read. I haven't read anything so glib in awhile. It's refreshing.

The best aspect of this book so far is its tone, being a collection of letters by people with whom I'd love to form a literary society (or share in their roast pig feast). It's more like visiting with new acquaintances who are, as yet, unworn by familiarity. Do you know what I mean? They have that new friend sheen--not a scratch in the surface, both parties assuming the best of one another, all the promise of a life-long friendship ahead. So here I sit in my papasan chair, relishing the ways of the 1940s with Nat King Cole and Billie Holiday crooning in the background and a mug of piping hot Earl Gray Creme on the table to my right.

This is the real afternoon delight. Forget the ballad of the 70s. Spoken like a Bible college grad with a lit degree, right? With that attitude, I may as well buy a cat named Humphrey and start calling my glasses spectacles. I'll develop a nervous condition, give as much trouble as I like, and write terribly perplexing haikus.