Monday, February 27, 2006

Tim's Soulmate

I think I have met Tim's soulmate. Her name is Jen and I work with her at Borders. It seems that everytime I mention something, she'll say, "OOO...I love that" or "That is one of my favorites". All of this love is usually being shown to things that Tim also really, really enjoys like Xbox, toilet comedies, Tom Petty...the list could go on and on. Jen loves Star Wars and Lord of the Rings like only Tim's soulmate could.

It has become quite a joke between us because at least once a week Jen and I will be discussing something and it is apparent that Tim and Jen were meant for each other. Where does this leave me? Well, a little over five years ago, Tim and I did make that lifelong vow of marriage to each other so I feel good with that legal and binding agreement. If anything, I think Jen and Tim should become friends and hang out. They can do things that I have done over the past ten years that I really don't dig too much...watching Lord of the Rings more than once, playing video games, eating stuffed mushrooms...that sort of thing. I have always said that I thought Tim should get a friend of the female sex, but he doesn't seem to interested.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Sara's Midwestern Position-Opinions

To spice up the blog and get the comments rolling in, I thought I would try my hand at writing something with a little flare...something to make you like me or hate me. I plan on making this a weekly event titled Sara's Midwestern Position

I have always considered myself a self-assured sort. I stand up for the little people, speak my mind, and liberally give my two cents. Granted, there have been times when people haven’t cared for my two cents, yet with age, I have learned the graceful art of knowing my audience. There are times when I can confidently observe that I do not know a single thing about what is being discussed. Anything science, Lord of the Rings, and home repair would fall under this category. It is in these cases that I sit back and become a listener (and in some cases, a daydreamer).

Although I am not the perfect communicator, I am 99% of the time capable of accepting other peoples’ ideas and views because I have learned that everyone can and has an opinion. I am not so ignorant to believe that my opinion is the RIGHT opinion. Along with this study of human insight, I have learned that being completely definitive in my opinions and arguments are bad form.

Sometimes, it is okay to say nothing at all even though you have lots to say. There have been many times in the past year that I would like to say something but didn’t. I keep my mouth shut for a variety of reasons. First, the person who I’d be speaking to is not a receiver. He/she won’t REALLY hear what you have to say. Next, I have something at stake and don’t want to ruin my reputation or relationship with the person over something as trivial as whether carbonated beverages should be called “soda” or “pop”. Finally, I have come to know that most of the opinions don’t matter anyway. There have been times when I wanted to give my opinion, but I find my mind becoming the type of person that I don’t like…I know that I know more about a subject than the person that I am speaking to, and if I wanted to, I could verbally assault them, but that is not my style. Instead, I tend to sit back and listen to this person and either let them dig themselves a deeper and deeper hole or count the minutes until the ignorance ends.

Now, all this being said, I am the first to admit that I share a lot of my opinions. There is nothing wrong with opinions. Just be nice, respectful, semi-educated, and willing to drop a topic when discussing opinions.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Karaoke Adventure #438

As with any trip to the midwest, karaoke was high on the agenda. We returned to our favorite karaoke spot called Boomtown on the University of Minnesota campus. It is box karaoke so you get to sit in a private rooms with your friends. We share the karaoke book, enter the songs, and sing, sing, sing. The reason box karaoke is so spectacular is because you can sing all the songs that you have ever wanted to sing. It is a chance for those who are timid with their karaoke souls to spread their karaoke wings. Amanda and I have never been shy of a solo, yet our friends Janelle and Sara have been more of a duet in the past.

Saturday night became a night for firsts. Janelle experienced Boomtown for the first time and performed somewhere between shaking the tambourine and singing to taking a quick nap on the couch as we sang. Our friend Sara sang several solos. She was our R & B star of the night. Amanda was the rap star with her excellent and impressive rendition of Eminem's Slim Shady. I had no idea this rapper was deep inside this well-behaved woman. Janelle was more of a love songstress with her version of Eternal Flame and some Celine. I took this karaoke opportunity to sing some songs that I might place in the guilty pleasure category. It was awesome.

Holding Out For a Hero By Bonnie Tyler
September By Earth, Wind, & Fire
Bohemian Rhapsody By Queen
Against All Odds By Phil Collins
Ain't No Mountain High Enough By Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
Top of the World By The Carpenters

S'more Memories

Is it cliche to say "It's the little things in life"? If it is, I don't care. I truly believe that little things are awesome!

For example, s'mores have this ability to make a simple afternoon into a sweet memory. I can say to my friend Reddog, "Remember when we went to that cafe and had s'mores?" I'll file that right next to countless memories that I have with Reddog and Amanda...

Remember when we...

...went to Gastov's and drank that boot of beer?
...drank Birch Beer and had cheesesteaks at Jim's Steaks?
...went to that awesome Tina Turner concert?
...when we dressed up in old bridesmaid dresses for Chrissy's party?
...went to Happy Joe's for some delicious canadian bacon's special because it is diced.
...when you almost got into a fight with that DJ at The Sportsman because you were so mad there wasn't karaoke?
...when you came to my going away party and became the special guest star of the evening?
...when we hung out the second night of college when my roommate stayed out all night?
...when we went to Hickory Park and ate those huge sundaes?

True...a lot of our memories have to do with food. That is what makes them sweet.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Rant of the Week

Character is like a tree and reputation its shadow. The shadow is what we think it is; the tree is the real thing.

Abraham Lincoln

I don't like reputations. That being said, I will be the first to admit that I am guilty of using reputations for a variety of reasons.

Reputations cheat us out of so many things. No one can get a fresh start, forgiveness, or the benefit of the doubt when we put so much stock into the past. I feel great disappointment when I feel like I am being treated in a certain way because my reputation has preceded me.

People can change. People are not the same people they were 10 years ago or even 20 years ago. True, somethings don't change, but I think we should give people a chance. I have tried to give people a fresh start and sometimes their behavior just repeats itself. There have been times when I have given them a fresh start and they use it and I am impressed. I guess, I think reputation is the lazy person's way of having instincts.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Poker Time

I have returned from another trip to the midwest. It will be my last for quite some time. However, it was filled with lots of fun events so that it will get me through until April. Visiting Minneapolis is one of my favorite things to do. For the last five years, whenever I go to Minneapolis, I see the same people and so some of the same things. On this trip, it was a mix of the new and the old.

I hung out with the same people, yet we tried some new things. First, from this point on, I'd like to be called "CHIPS McGOO" because I was christianed with my new poker name. I played Texas Hold'Em and I was very bad at it. I was the first one out during the first game. This probably worked out for me since I really needed to do some observing. During the second game, I finished third. Not bad for a beginners comeback and that was out of six people. Even before we started, I warned the group that my friend Sara is very competitive when playing games and she should not be underestimated. Friday night was no exception. She cleaned house. She won both games and took home a little coin in the process. She can forever be called "SWEET CHIPS".

I have to say though...I feel a little addicted. I really like this game and want to play more of it. But I think what I really enjoyed about this game was playing with my friend who I could cuss out if I lost with a pair of aces or cheer for when they went all in. I am hoping that poker becomes our new Minneapolis tradition and next time, I am taking all of the chips.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Men Behaving Badly

Is it really necessary to buy magazines with semi-nude women to look at while you are on a plane? Is it really necessary to discuss with your friend the attributes of the women who are 'modeling' in these magazines? Is it really necessary to use the loudest voice you could possibly use to discuss such attributes?

All questions that I was pondering last night as I spent two hours on a plane with two men who enjoyed a variety of semi-nudey magazines. I would think that their better judgement would have kicked in when they realized they were sitting with a woman, but no. Usually, I have nothing against these types of magazines...I still don't. I am against men openly discussing whether these women are their types or if they like their 'parts' in public and even more so, in a setting where I am at their mercy in terms of appropriate things to listen to. I guess it comes down to consideration for others...respect for the perception that people will have on you..even though you will never see them again. Thank goodness for the ipod and the sudoku in this case.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Entertainer

Everyone has a soundtrack to their life. It just so happens that Billy Joel is a main contributor to my soundtrack. Last night is no exception since I experienced another Billy Joel moment.

Let me just say that Philadelphians LOVE Billy Joel! They love Billy Joel so much that they have a banner hanging permanently in the Wachovia Center that says "Billy Joel--41 Philadelphia Sell Outs!" It hangs right next to the banner that reads "Bruce Springsteen--43 Philadelphia Sell Outs". The only other way they hang a banner is when the Philadelphia Flyers win something or they retire a player's jersey. It cracks me up this kind of passion and love for someone. Really, he has something like six sold out shows just this spring.

But back to Billy Joel moments in my life...

1980 - "It's Still Rock and Roll To Me"
Sean, my brother, had this 45 album that was well loved because we alternated listening to this song and "Total Eclipse of the Heart" in our basement when we were little. The floor is covered in Legos, Barbies, records, hockey sticks, army men, and dress up clothes. We played together and we played separate, but we listened to the music over and over again.

1980 Something - "Tell Her About It"
I remember listening to this song for the first time while watching one of my favorite shows of the early 80's, Solid Gold. After this, I remember dancing by myself in my basement to this song (and probably others). There was a point when I thought this was the best song ever written and nothing could match its perfection.

1994 - "And So It Goes"
The high school choir had a small group of singers that were chosen to sing acapella music. Along with more traditional music, they chose this song. I was only a junior in high school and had never tried out for this elite group, but after hearing them sing this song, I knew I never wanted to be a part of the group. If I had been a part of the group, I would not get to listen to them. I loved listening to this song and all the other songs that they sang. I was their biggest silent fan.

1994 - "Always a Woman"
I went to my first Billy Joel concert with three other girls. We traveled in my beloved Chevy Celebrity to Fargo. On the way home, one of the girls kept referring to this song as 'her song'. Why she staked a claim to this song is beyond me, but from that point was hers. Hands off! It was for this reason that to this day when I hear this song and I am in the car, I sing it as loud as I can...because it could be mine too.

1995 - "Only the Good Die Young"
My closest friends and I would go to visit Tim in his fraternity house. We were always welcome because we always brought a case of beer with us. We'd have a few beers and soon enough, we'd have too many. The best part of the night was when we would end up this guy, Kent's, room where he would be our personal DJ. He'd always play this song and one of my friends would put the beer box on her head with the handle as her eye holes and dance. A favorite memory of mine.

2003 - "We Didn't Start the Fire"
For my friend Amanda's birthday, we went to The Sportsman to sing karaoke. Our friend Steve had not found his inner karaoke self, yet after a few beers, he not only found his inner karaoke star, but attempted what might have been the most difficult karaoke song of all time. After that moment, he could do no wrong in my eyes.

2006 - "You're My Home"
Tonight, I saw Billy Joel and he was spectacular. His voice was exactly as it sounded thirty years ago on his albums. I have always been a Billy Joel fan, but the kind that loves the standards. He sang many non-standards like this song. It is beautiful and human and so meaningful. He told the album it was on and I went home and purchased it along with "Summer, Highland Falls" because it fits into the same old Billy Joel song. I am going through what I will call getting back together with Billy Joel and seeing him through different 29 year old eyes.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentine's Day Lovin'

It's true. Valentine's Day is a commercialized holiday that reminds us that we like each other.

However, the chocolate dipped and rose petal covered holiday can also be a time to profess your love for things not in human form. I love lots of things. No, I don't just like them. I love them. I am passionate about them. My exuberance for these items/ideas/things can only be compared to the more traditional appreciation, but if you know me, you would agree. I LOVE these things.

Samoa Girl Scout Cookies-Those Girl Scouts might as well be peddling crack.
My Smart Green ipod-I think I would cry if it left me.
Scrapbook Paper-It is all about the creative possibilities.
Email-How did people feel the long distance love before email?
Caramel Blanket-This velvet blanket keeps me toasty and warm all winter long.
Dunkin' Doughnuts Hazelnut Coffee-How did I get by before I found you?
My Bed-I know that I am not the only one in the middle of this life long love affair.
Being a Democrat-I love the pride I have when I think about these ideals and what it could mean for our country.
My Blog-This is truly a relationship for me. Sometimes I like it. Sometimes I don't. Sometimes I want to give it the silent treatment. Sometimes I want to spend all of my time with it.

I could go on and on. But I won't because then, I would be falling into the Hallmark trap. Before you know it, I will be writing love songs to my computer.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Confidence Comes in the Form of Snow and Kindergarteners

I have kind of forgotten over the past couple months that I am good at a few things. And in one snowy weekend, it all came back to me that I was good at a few things.

True, it is not a modest thing to say about oneself, but I don't care. This is my blog and I can be self-assured if I want to be.

First, I had forgotten how good I am at winter weather. I can clean off the fourteen inches of snow on the car like a champ. I can get out of snowed in parking spots with a little drive forward and a big thrust in reverse. I can stop on icy roads and not swerve...not one little bit. I know the foods to have on hand...Chili, lasagna, ice cream, cake, hot cocoa, coffee, cinnamon rolls, and more ice cream. I am good at remembering to bring an extra pair of socks in my purse because my other socks could get wet. I am good at having extra winter gear because someone might need a hat or mittens.

Along with my winter skills, I was reassured this weekend that I can be a good teacher. I have not forgotten this fact but merely packed it away until I needed that confidence for a weekend like this. I had an open house with some kindergarteners that will be in my class next year. I was nervous and quite frantic about whether I still had a clue. Yet, when the children arrived and we engaged with each other, I knew that I had made the right choice for next year. When we sat together on the carpet to read The Kissing Hand, a book about going to school for the first time, the children interacted with the book and we enjoyed the story together. I use the term "good teacher" in a flexible sense. In my eyes, it means that I have planned a meaningful time where social, emotional, and academic learning takes place. I can't say for sure what the children took away from our morning together. I can only speak to what I have taken away...a sense of confidence that I have a clue about snow...and school.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

I Don't Like the Olympics

Admission...I don't like the Olympics.
I know this is shocking. It might be right up there with saying "I don't like bacon" or "I hate puppies", but it is true. Most people respond to this with a big, confused "What? Who doesn't like the Olympics?" It is more of a rhetorical question since they know darn well that I don't like the Olympics.

For sports enthusiasts, I can see the appeal. But what about people who lack the competitive spirit or patriotism that seems to be part of our core existence here in the USA? Well, the media has already thought of us...they try to get us with the human stories. The stories that try to tug at your heart strings. The stories of triumph over adversity. Ugh...that is my least favorite cliche that you can bet your last dollar the lovely Katie Couric will try to hypnotize us with over the next 14 days.

The only loophole in this whole anti-Olympic story is that as a little girl, winter Olympics fell under the same category as the Miss America or Carol Burnet show. Like these examples, I was likely to watch anything that might have a costume or evening gown with sequins or fringe. The ice skating or ice dancing fed my love of the sparkly. But even in time, beauty pageants and ice skating has lost its flare with me.

What it comes down to is this...I don't care. I don't care who wins. I don't care about the human stories. I don't care about the fireworks. I don't care about the ceremonies. For some, the Olympics are like crack. They can't get enough. They search out a fellow Olympic lover only to relive the glory of last nights speed skating victory or the defeat by the underdog team. Like the channels...and there are many of them this year...I simply avoid these Olympic lovers. I think people should be identified as OL...Olympic Lovers or AO...Anti-Olympics. That way, I wouldn't be shamed everytime I have to tell someone that I am not into the Olympics.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Conversation of the Week

Handsome Man: Can you help me find a few books? (Hands list of 13 books to Clever Borders Girl)

Clever Borders Girl:Sure. Right this way.

Clever Borders Girl hands the business, leadership, and inspirational self-help books from Handsome Man's list. While in the Business section, the conversation continues...

Handsome Man: (Hands Jack Welch's book Winning to Clever Borders Girl.) You should read this.

Clever Borders Girl: Well, I actually read more fiction and literature.

Handsome, yet Jerk of a Man: Well, if you read this, you wouldn't be working here.


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Say You Want a Revolution

Tim owns an XBox. Although I usually fall deeply in love with any type of technology, I have never cared for the XBox that Tim enjoys so much. I don't care to shoot things. I don't care to score the hockey goal. I have never been interested in spending my time with trolls and elves while trying to through a golden ring into a volcano. Yet, I believe that the XBox and myself may have found some common ground.

The other day, I was searching for some gift ideas for Tim when I discovered this game called Karaoke Revolution for Xbox. To me, it looks like the glue to mend this chasm that has developed between the Xbox and myself. First, this game has everything I like.

1. A Microphone
2. Song lyrics that bounce across the screen.
3. I can earn points for singing.
4. I can do this at home with friends or more pathetically, by myself.

Even better, you can download songs from XBox live to add to your Karaoke Revolution when you tire of the songs on the disc. I think I will pine for this purchase until I can no longer stand it and MUST buy it.

Monday, February 06, 2006


Last Monday evening, I received a phone call from a friend to tell me that our friend Mike had passed away. Mike had contacted Spinal Meningitis. Along with my friends, we experienced a new kind of sadness with losing Mike. It would be easy to say, “Mike was too young to die”. It would be a true statement. But, I like to think that Mike lived a full life. A life full of family and friends. I think Mike modeled for me how to live a good life.

Always Dance. Disco, 80's tunes, country, polka, the chicken dance. Have a few favorites like "Shake Your Bootie" and "Dancing with Myself". Grab your friends and never let them say no because they will be glad they danced.

Laugh Liberally. There can be humor in everything and every laugh can be loud and memorable. Never take yourself or your friends too seriously because there are plenty other things in life that can be serious.

Give. Give your time. Give your kindness. Give of your spirit so that you are a model of generosity to your friends, family, and strangers.

Enjoy the Little Things. A big plate of spaghetti. A new CD. Your favorite shirt. A good nap. Be happy that you have all this joy in your life and don't take it for granted because these things can make your life better than it was a moment before.

Be Nice. Can it be this simple? I think it can be. You can’t control what other people do or say, but you can be the person that shows compassion.

Be Authentic. Live the life that was given to you. Life isn’t prescribed, but rather created from scratch with your own style and beauty. Don’t be afraid to be yourself, but be elated to be yourself.

Change. Life is not about staying in one place, but instead, move forward and evolve. Keep your eyes open for that opportunity to make a ‘fresh start’. It might just be sitting right in front of you.

Remember and Revere. Think about your past. Revere where you came from and recognize that your childhood, your adolescence, your adulthood are all pieces to your own humanity.