Of Black Coffee, Morning Clouds, and Self-Expression

EARLY THE OTHER MORNING about 6:00 a.m. the clouds floating over our house were so pretty that I decided to sit on the deck, drink my mug of black coffee, and photograph the clouds as they drifted overhead.

AS I WATCHED CLOUDS morph into one shape after another, I remembered a recent interview I’d heard with Carly Simon.  She was on Here’s The Thing podcast with Alec Baldwin.  [Interview here.]

WHENEVER I THINK OF Carly Simon I think of the lyrics to You’re So Vain, specifically: “I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee, Clouds in my coffee.”  It seemed like the perfect thought for where I was sitting, what I was drinking while musing on clouds.

I HAD ENJOYED LISTENING to the podcast as Carly explained her life, her music, her memoir. Her conclusions.  My impression was that she sees her past clearly, with a wit and wisdom that made me appreciate her struggles. And her triumphs.

AS I WATCHED THE CLOUDS, reflecting on what Carly Simon had said, I began to wonder about my own abilities to understand and describe myself to others.  Would I ever be able to explain my past, either in verbal or written form, as eloquently and truthfully as she had explained hers?

NOT THAT I HAVE an overwhelming desire to tell all to everyone, but should I feel the need to do so for some reason, would I be able to do it?  Would you?

Share Your World | Tulips A-Go-Go

Once a week Cee asks the questions on her blog, and I answer them here on my blog.  

• Have you ever participated in a distance walking, swimming, running, or biking event? Tell your story.

Yes, *sigh* back when I was a crazy, younger, athletically inclined woman who followed the crowd, I was a cyclist.  I did lots of 30+ mile bike rides for charities, and even once went so far as to go on a Backroads bike tour vacation.

This adventure in hell vacation started in New Bern, NC, and involved days of bike riding on dodgy, bermless country roads, littered with dead snakes and frogs.  Roads, filled with 18-wheeler lumber trucks zipping past us, spewing bits of pine bark and needles as they went by.  It was scary.

Throughout the tour we were on a strict time schedule to get to ferry-boats to go island to island along the NC Outer Banks, with the goal of getting to Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.  Sounds great, doesn’t it?

However, this did not happen because a huge storm, the aftermath of a hurricane, disrupted the ferry service to Cape Hatteras.  Meaning that our last ferry-boat was abruptly cancelled, leaving us stuck one island short of Cape Hatteras, on Ocracoke Island.  In a dumpy motel.

So with torrential rain falling and nowhere to go, we abandoned the pretense of cycling, made note of Ocracoke’s famous ponies, and drank excessively in the one bar that was open while it stormed, all the while lamenting that we were never going to get to Cape Hatteras.

Which *sigh* was the whole point of the bike tour.

• Name one thing not many people know about you.

I will not wear the color orange, so keep all your sports fan gear away from me.

• What is your favorite flower?

Tulips. Graceful and colorful, with no excessive leaves to muddle up their lines or draw attention away from their colorful petals.

• Things I want to have in my home (paintings, hot tubs, book cases, big screen tv etc)

While it’s true that I like things, and that if my life had gone in a different direction I might have become an interior designer, I feel that for me to list all the things that I want to have in my home would take hours.

Instead, I’ll leave you with the following quote by William Morris that summarizes how I’m learning to evaluate the things in my home: Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.

• Optional Bonus Question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? 

Last week’s gratitude award goes to the cats featured in the YouTube video below.  They make me smile.  I’m beyond impressed by their focus and skill– and that any human being was able to get them to do what they’re doing.

This week’s looking forward to something goes to Zen-Den listening to S•Town podcast so that he and I can discuss it.  At length.  Produced by Serial and This American Life, S•Town is the most compelling investigative-journalistic-true-crime-ish story I’ve heard [or read] in years.  Think Southern Gothic genre.  The language is coarse.  The topics are mature.  And the story is so good… in a bad way.  Highly recommended.

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This post is part of Cee’s Share Your World Weekly Writing Challenge.

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A Look At Archetypes: Who Are Your Friends?

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Laverne & Shirley: Back in the day one friend was all you needed! { Source }

This is something fun to think about.

I was listening to Sorta Awesome, a podcast I enjoy.  The conversation topic of Episode 54 was how every woman needs a variety of friends in her life because each friend serves a different, but necessary, role in your life.

They were talking about archetypes, not specific names of people. This wasn’t gossip.

As the show went on I started thinking about who I need in my life. The women on the program believed they needed 10 friends, but I decided that at this point in my life I need 5 friends.

Call me a minimalist.  Or an introvert.

Below you’ll find my list of the five friends who I need to keep me grateful, connected, grounded, hopeful, and happy.

[A digression.  Yesterday in The Guardian I read an article: “Why don’t I have any friends?”

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The Biographer is the friend who knows all the nuances + details of your life, meaning that any problem you take to her needs no background story because she knows it, she knows you, and she knows what you need to do.

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The Oprah Fan is the friend who knows what’s on-trend, whether it be spiritual or sartorial, funny or frowned-upon, healthy or home-y, and she is willing to share her knowledge so you’ll be on-trend, too.

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The Loyal Opposition is the friend who, like you, pays attention to the events in the world, but often comes to a different conclusion about what’s going on and why it is happening.

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The Cheerleader is the friend who is on your side, without any need for you to explain or justify, in-depth, what you are up to;  she’s your own personal pep squad.

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The Snarkologist is the friend who makes me laugh out loud because she is unfiltered, truthful, and willing to skewer, in a most wonderful way, anything or anyone who deserves to be taken down a peg.

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How about you, my gentle readers?  Who are your friends?

If We Were Having Coffee On This January Morning…

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{ image via @lawyermom1 }

THE SETTING:  

We’d be sitting at the local Starbucks, enjoying the fact that we were out of the house, doing something together.  

I’d be drinking a vanilla latte with an extra shot and you’d be drinking whatever it is that floats your boat.  My treat, of course.

We’d be listening to the sound of the overworked espresso machines, the indistinct conversations of fellow Starbuckians, and the random genre-less background music that seems to be in every Star$.

THE CONVERSATION:

√  We’d be chatting… about how I read that the colors for spring clothes are rust, mustard and poppy.  I’d assure you that there’s no stinking way you’ll be seeing me in any of those colors.  I’d also mention that I have no plans to go shopping for spring clothes this year.

√  We’d be sharing… our latest podcast obsessions, which in my case is Call Your Girlfriend.  I’d tell you that the podcast’s tone is smart and warm, and that it is lots of fun to listen in while girlfriends talk about a variety of subjects such as feminism, fashion, politics– and whatever else is newsy and relevant this week.

√  We’d be talking… about how after reading this article about raiding your own cookbook collection, I’ve decided to make one recipe per month from a cookbook I already own.  My first recipe, Braised Pork With Sauerkraut, which was delicious, was from Joy of Cooking [75th Anniversary Edition].  Considering I have over 30 cookbooks, this could turn into a fun longterm project.

√  We’d be laughing… about how Zen-Den, the confused, asked me if I’d be “calamari-ing” our house.  Somewhere he’d heard about this new Japanese declutter trend.  While he understood the principles, he’d gotten the name wrong.  My answer, when I finally figured out that he was talking about KonMari, was NO!

THE CONCLUSION:

We’d have to part after about an hour or so because each of us had things to do, things to do.

We’d hug and promise to get together sometime in February, weather permitting, daily life allowing, work schedule be damned.

And we’d count our blessings that we have each other to talk with.  Like friends do everywhere.  Over a fancy coffee in one of the most ubiquitous places on earth.

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Idea for this post came from Diana at Part-Time Monster.

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