Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Calling London

[I wrote this post about a week ago, and then promptly forgot about it. But, since I’m still ruminating over my discomfiture, I decided to post it.]

So, if you know me, you know I hate calling people.

It’s not that I’m afraid they’ll answer. I WANT them the answer.

What causes me distress (and possibly night terrors) is the fear that they won’t answer, which then means I’ll have to leave them a message. (Or hang up, as I’ve been known to do. Sorry.)

You see, I leave THE WORST MESSAGES IN THE WORLD! (And by worst, I mean messages that embarrass me.)

For some reason, as soon as I hear the BEEEEEEEP, I become the most long-winded, rambling, idiotic person on earth. And before I know it, instead of asking what I called for, like, “What time does the movie start?” I have opined on the state of the union, mentioned that the last mixtape I made had the song “Together Forever” on it, revealed how I wish my five-year plan included being a busker, and questioned the validity of calling something that squirts out of a can “cheese.”

Needless to say, anytime I have to make a phone call to someone who doesn’t know me (and won’t find my three-minute pontifications endearing), I write down what to say in case I must leave a message.

This is what I should have done when I recently called my favorite bookstore, Slightly Foxed Books,* in London (I have never been to this bookshop, but fantasize about it in inappropriate quantities).

Smartly, I did come up with things that IABSOLUTELYMUSTNOTMENTION, such as:

1) Some of my English ancestors came over as indentured servants and maybe that’s why I abhor participating in manual labor,

2) How it was okay that they (the English) lost the war (Revolutionary), because it all worked out in the end with multiple holidays to celebrate for all, and

3) That I easily fall into an English accent whenever I watch (or think about) Pride and Prejudice, or North and South, and would they like to hear it, and could they give me tips on making it more believable?

Connected to this, I also warned myself that I should NOT use an English accent while leaving the message (wanted to), and that I should also NOT include any English-y words that I love but that we don’t really use in America, like: barrister, nutter, posh, gobsmacked , daft, petrol, knackered, and lorry etc.

Thankfully, I did not say/do any of these things.

But, here’s what I did say (to the best of my recollection (which is pretty good since I’ve been obsessing about it ever since)) after I heard their “Leave a message” message (which was said in the most beautiful Female English accent and sounded very posh):

“Oh my gosh, I got through! I’m calling London! Hi! I’m Liz! Elizabeth Wolfe! From America! The U. S. A.! I ordered books from you! And I was told to call and leave a message authorizing payment! So, I’m calling! My name is Elizabeth Wolfe! W. O. L. F. E.! I don’t know my order number! Dang it! Where’s my paper!? [Long pause while looking for receipt] Okay! I ordered three books! The names are… [Long pause while finding the names of the books only to realize that I wasn’t sure how to pronounce the first title (I couldn’t remember if the “s” in Libris, as in “Ex Libris” was silent. (It’s not.)) So not wanting to sound stupid (too late) I say the following…] Well, they’re books! [Insert embarrassing giggle] Of course they’re books! You’re a bookstore! [Awkward snort] I’m sorry! I’m flabbergasted!**** Again, my name is Elizabeth Wolfe! I think I already mentioned that! And my number is [gave them my number faster than the speed of light]. Thank you for all that you do! I love your book review!”

When I got off the phone, I immediately went and told my sisters that I shamed America.

And in case you’re wondering, the exclamation points are intentional because I feel like I spoke in excited tones the entire message.

Also, in case you’re wondering, do you know how much it costs to call London? I do. The first minute cost me $3.10, and the next two minutes cost $5.78. Three-minute rambling call = $8.88

Lesson learned.

Always write down your messages Liz! Elizabeth Wolfe! From America! The U. S. A.!


*Why is this my favorite bookstore (aside from the fact that I’m an Anglophile)? Because they publish a fabulous, and I mean FABULOUS, quarterly magazine. Anyone who puts out such a wonderful book review can only be awesome, and worthy of my esteem.**

** When I finally go to England [gazing at the heavens in silent prayer and oblations], Slightly Foxed is on my list of MUSTS, right under Stonehenge. ***

***If you ever go to London, and visit Slightly Foxed Books, please only tell me that it’s wonderful and magical and dazzling! Don’t tell me that it’s just a regular bookstore, with regular books, and regular people. I’ll be crushed. Let me have my fantasies.

****In the back of my mind, I feel like I said the word lambasted, instead of flabbergasted. But, since I meant to say flummoxed, instead of flabbergasted in the first place, I’m just pretending that the whole thing didn’t happen.

Monday, August 29, 2011

And So It Begins…

Follow my Artist’s Way journey here and spark your creativity!

And stay tuned on this blog for more zany adventures…

Well, maybe not zany, or particularly adventuresome, but definitely something that happened or occured to me (or someone I know) at some point in time that might be low to moderately interesting.

Does that sound exciting?


I’m already bored.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Creative Endeavor, Cont'd

.....There on my bookcase, partially blocked by my miniature replica of Westminster Abbey, was a book I had purchased years before and had half-heartedly attempted to follow.

But, now, I knew I was ready! So, I went to the bookcase and pulled out The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

Do you have this book? Have you heard of it?

You probably have. It’s sold over a million copies.

But, in case you haven’t, here’s the gist:

Only you can remove your creative blocks. You remove them by tapping into the creative power of the Creator/Universe/God/Zeitgeist/however you define it.

These blocks prevent you from not only creating art as society has come to define it (like painting, writing, singing, dancing, etc), but they also block you from living more creative daily (like figuring out a solution to a work issue, or developing fuller and fun-er relationships).

Creativity can heal you, and heal those around you. And tuning in to your creativity can change how you view your world, making each day more exciting. (And who doesn’t want that?!)

And The Artist’s Way helps you challenge your blocks and break through them!

Now, before you say, “But, um, I’m not creative”, you need to remember that creativity is our birthright, and in every one of us. So, while you may not be writing a novel or painting your family portrait, you’re probably choosing what you wear each day (and accessorizing), or making up a story for your child, or coming up with a new way to spice up your spaghetti sauce, or changing the layout of your living room, or re-telling an incident that occurred at work (with gestures and voices). THAT IS CREATIVITY!!!

One of my favorite quotes from her book is “[A]s we are creative beings, our lives become our artwork” (Cameron, p. xxvi).

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never thought about my life as being my artwork! What an inspiring idea! And I’m ready for the challenge to make it more colorful.

Are you?

The Artist’s Way is a 12 week course. And Julia (I’m going to call her by her first name because it sounds like we’re friends) makes two requests that must be fulfilled during the 3 months:

1) You must write three pages, first thing every morning. This she calls “Morning Pages.” You are not to show these pages to anyone and you are to write whatever comes to mind (even if nothing comes to mind). Ramble away!

2) You must have a weekly “Artist’s Date.” This date should be between 1 to 2 hours long and should be done solo. It doesn’t have to cost anything, but it should delight you!

Both of these things are going to be tough for me because:

1) I’m not a morning person. So waking up earlier, just to write poorly, is going to be a challenge.

2) While I don’t mind going places or doing things by myself, I’m not so good at following through when I’m not held accountable by others (especially when my pajamas are calling my name).

But, I’m going to do it. There’s a contract in the book and I’m going to sign it!

Now, along with these two requirements, she has weekly exercises to pick and choose from. Julia suggests you pick the ones that make you the most uncomfortable. So, that’s what I’m going to do.

At this point, if you’re still reading, you might be asking yourself “Why are you telling me all this?”

Good question.

To be honest, I wasn’t going to mention it. It was just going to be something I did for myself, by myself. But last week, as I was discussing this book and it’s concepts with my friend, Taryn, she suggested that I should blog about it, and that perhaps it might inspire someone else to try something creative. And she’s absolutely right! (Plus, it helps me with accountability. Bonus!)

So, if you’re interested, I’m starting next week (on Monday, of course). I’ll being posting about the exercises I choose, the struggles I have, the discoveries I make, and my weekly Artist Date. My plan is to post all this on my sad, lonely, and forgotten blog. (I want to leave this blog open for all my other witty thoughts…..… [crickets chirping]……… [hollow wind blowing]……… [……….]………)

If you want to try this with me, great! I would love for you to share this journey with me.

But, more than that, I hope you realize that you have the option of injecting creativity into your life any time you choose.

Choose now!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Creative Endeavor

Let me ask you a question:

How creative is your life?

Very? Not very? Huh?

Now, let me ask you a slightly different question:

How creative are YOU in your life?

A little? A lot? What?

Okay, let me ask you a third question:

Would you like more, and to be more, of it? (Creative, that is.)

Yes? No? Maybe?

Now, let me tell you why I’m asking.

Before I started Grad school two years ago, I was dabbling in creative things. I was working on my mixed media art, I was taking online art workshops, I had started a blog about my poetry/fiction writing, and I was frequenting dozens of creative blogs for inspiration and community.

But, then, I started school.

And with that, everything else “superfluous” took a back seat (or in some cases, was dropped off at my parent’s house, never to be seen again.)

That’s how it remained from August of 2009 through June of 2011 when I graduated. (Hooray!)

But instead of falling back into my creative endeavors, I did the opposite.

Now, yes, a break was needed. So, I told myself that it was perfectly fine to take a few weeks to decompress from the stress of it all. (And by decompress, I mean sit around doing nothing but watching TV in my pajamas. (And I may or may not have put on said pajamas as soon as I got home from work. (What?)))

After about a month, though, I realized that while I felt much more relaxed due to my nightly three-hour pajama-wearing TV time, I was slowly turning into a lifeless person with nothing to talk about but what so-in-so did on such-and-such TV show*. I had nothing to say about my actual life. (Except that work was fine, but busy.)

With that startling (and depressing) realization, I’ve been on a search for other things to occupy my time, and actually help me to improve my skills and interests as a person.

Now, don’t get me wrong, TV has taught me a few things that have added to my life, but by its nature, TV is passive. I observe. I don’t engage. But what I realized I was longing for was improvement by doing, by taking action, by living!

After this epiphany, I started setting parameters (because that’s how I am). I wanted to do something that wasn’t too hard, wasn’t too time-consuming (I still have shows to keep up with, after all), and didn’t cost a lot of money.

But, I wanted whatever it was to push me out of my comfort zone, challenge me creatively, and increase my daily joy.

All of this has been marinating in my head for the past month, and it wasn’t until last Monday night as I was contemplating my situation (which might have been while wearing my pajamas and during the commercial break of a well-known gossip show), I looked over to my bookcase and something caught my eye.



*Part of my TV viewing was shows on the Documentary Channel. Do you have this? It’s fabulous! Next time you see me, ask me about some of the documentaries I’ve watched. I will regale you with stories about fascinating people: like people who stare at the sun for energy, or the boy who looked for his invisible girlfriend, or the Mountain Talk folk, or what luminaries of our time have to say about forgiveness, or… **

**On second thought, you may not want to ask me. I’ve counted up and in the last three months I’ve watched 27 documentaries. It might be best to keep that door shut.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Guilty or Not Guilty

A couple of months ago, I did my civic duty and sat on a jury for two weeks. It was a criminal case, and it was my first experience as a juror. I can’t tell you all the details yet (most of which are boring) because we were given a court order to not discuss or sell the rights to the story for 90 days after the verdict (really, truly). But, as soon as that time is up, I’m planning on writing a proposal to the Lifetime “Television for Women” network*. (They probably won’t want it as the case was about fraud, and therefore, mind-numbingly dull).

I learned many things from my time in court: about humanity, about justice, and most importantly, about the need for proper footwear.

I compiled a baker’s dozen list for you all, so you can be better prepared for when it’s your turn.

Things I Learned from Sitting on a Jury:

1. They (the court system) let just about anyone sit on a jury.
2. This is terrifying.
3. There were a number of questionable (in intelligence and morality) people on my jury.
4. I do not ever want to be judged by a jury (see #1 and #3).
5. You should not wear flip flops while sitting on a jury.
6. Unless you have a back-up pair of flip flops to change in to when your original pair rips while walking into the courthouse.
7. Or, you should have duct tape in your car (like your dad told you) so that you can make flip flop repairs.
8. The Court security team and scanning process do not flag people who carry an entire roll of duct tape in their purse.
9. This scares me.
10. There are moments when hearing the law read is so boring you lose the will to live.
11. You can really practice your doodling skills while sitting on a jury (and, of course, still pay attention).
12. Judging someone and sending them to jail for a long time is not as fun as it looks on TV.
13. There are a lot of cute police officers.

Heed my advice, folks. (Especially about proper footwear.)

*The title of the made-for-TV movie based on this case would be “A Man of Many Names, but One Love”.

Friday, August 12, 2011

For Hannah

So, on my last post, Hannah left the most hilarious comment that I decided to use her 4 blog post suggestions.

Here are my responses (in bold):

1) Sometimes when the moon is full and the sky is clear I like to drink a hot chocolate (the spicy Mexican kind) and remember the time I used to not like the spicy Mexican hot chocolate. The year was 2010, I remember it well mostly because it was last year, and I have a fairly good short-term memory, but also because that was when Mark Paul Gosselaar adopted a feathered-haired pastafarian child from Nauru with the help of UNICEF. (Though, I may have him confused with someone else doing something else.) Inspired by this, I embarked on my own adventure to adopt a feathered hairstyle, and then decided to cover up my folly with a pastafarian strainer “hat,” which I went to purchase at Walmart (sponsored by UNICEF). There I witnessed a murder (of human courtesy) in the aisle of a clearance sale over some plastic jewels a young man had stolen by dropping them down the back of his grandmother’s sweatervest, and the ruckus of said murder (of human courtesy) ruined, even further, my poor execution of Farah’s iconic hairstyle. During my harrowing/other-worldly/soul-withering experience, I learned the important life lesson of dance, namely, that it should not be done in the aisle of a clearance sale at Walmart. I laughed, I cried, I contemplated the meaning of life, but most important of all, I wrote it all down for Hannah.

2) If I had to choose between being Grace Kelly or Dolly Parton I would choose Grace Kelly. Obviously it's a tough choice, but ultimately I picked Dolly Parton, because although I initially picked Grace Kelly, who am I kidding! I don’t think I could pull off any of the Grace Kelly-type traits she’s known for, such as, repose, elegance, beauty, femininity, style, or, well, grace. So, I’ll have to go with Dolly Parton. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Dolly doesn’t have any of the same qualities as Grace Kelly, I’m sure she does. But, she can cover up anything she lacks with a banjo and sass. My favorite part about being Dolly Parton, would be gaining free access to her/my amusement park. Having been there, I can say there are A LOT of banjos and sass (and deep-fried goodies and wig shops and overalls and elderly folks).

3) My five favorite things right now are:




Obscure references to Nicola Tesla


My five least favorite things right now are:

Mutton Chops (unless your Wolverine, natch)

Turning left

Obvious references to Nicola Tesla

Unhelpful people trying to be helpful, but making things worse, and then pretending like it wasn’t their fault, but you know that they know that it totally was


4) Here is a video of a young Irish girl playing the accordion the way I wish I could. I haven't made a video of me yet, because I’m not sure the world is ready for “When the Saints Come Marching In” dirge-style. It might make people chuck themselves off buildings in sadness/repulsion. As soon as I can pick up the tempo, I’ll video it. And then you can try not to be super jealous Hannah. In the meantime, watch the video and practice your jig in preparation of my upcoming performance. That's what I'm doing.

Thanks for these blog post suggestions, Hannah! If anyone else has some for me, leave a comment. I’m desperate for inspiration…