I don’t know if you can segue before you’ve even begun a thing, but I’m going to go ahead and start this post off with a detour. Rule breaking is in my DNA. And, too, I have a pressing question.
Yesterday, I answered the siren call of yet another yellow journo headline on the Huffington Post. Maybe it’s the endless reports of continuing gun violence that forced me toward something of a different kind of unbearable. Whatever the reason, I clicked on—and then gave three minutes and 25 seconds of my life over to— “Kim Kardashian Gives Clues About Her Baby's Name.” And I’m here to tell you that the girl? Her not so bright. Also: I think she is gaining baby weight in her lips (Ode to Lisa Rinna). As a woman who’s never given birth, I have to know: Is that even possible?
Okay. Glad to have gotten that out of the way. The real lede of this post has to do with another piece I stumbled across last week that’s stayed with me. It was basically filler comprised of a gathering of stock photos each with a description of the 10 Habits of Highly Organized People. And all I could do while looking at it was roll my eyes as I re-wrote my own version:
10 Habits of Highly Disorganized People Who Think Organized People Have It All Wrong And Need To Stop Acting All Superior And Whatnot
1. Walk Away From Bargains- Just because Ikea carries cheap tea lights in bulk, doesn’t mean you need to stock up on them for the holidays 9 months from now. If you must, grab four stacks and put them in your cart, knowing you’ll ditch them before you get to checkout because you’ll be over-saturated by looking at all the crap you don’t need. Wheel them around the store with you, enjoying how smoothly the cart glides across the treated concrete floors. Load up with a bright orange colander, a cheese grater, four coffee mugs you have no room for in your cupboards, a throw pillow, curtain rods you’ll return when you realize they don’t have complete hardware set, and an overpriced threadbare area rug that seems like a good deal at the time. Stop and enjoy a meatball lunch; play a few rounds of Words With Friends on your iPhone. Make your way to checkout, but pick up a plant and two lampshades first since you can’t decide which one you like better (you’ll deal with that later in the year at the garage sale your husband insists on having). Forget that you’re supposed to ditch the tea lights until the very end, when you will rationalize their purchase. It’s just easier at this point. Buy an Ikea bag since you left yours in the car and no way are you walking back to get it. Answer the incoming call while interacting with the checker—a big no-no even in your disorganized-person’s handbook—because it’s coming from your child’s school. Realize it was minimum day at school (parent/teacher conference week!) and you forgot to pick up your child an hour ago.
2. Make Peace With Imperfection- Shit. Shitshitshit. Berate yourself for being so disorganized. Buy some cinnamon rolls on your way out of Ikea and give them to the office staff as an apology for treating them like a babysitting co-op. Take credit for having made them yourself: The very reason you were late for parent pick-up.
3. Never Label Anything ‘Miscellaneous’-Miscellaneous label, wha??? No. No labeling anything, ever. Stuff the paid electric bill in the closest hanging file and forget about it until you need kindling for the fireplace come winter. Then burn the whole thing without looking at it.
4. Schedule Regular Decluttering Sessions- Yes. Scheduling makes you feel organized. Write it on your wall calendar in easily changeable grease marker. Choose a color you love; this will be motivating. Then blow off your scheduled decluttering session so you can read your book. Wolf Hall is spectacular, but it requires straight-backed, furrowed-brow attention to keep all the Thomases and Marys straight. Since it usually puts you to sleep, get in a bunch of awesome naps. Decluttering can wait. Nobody on her deathbed ever wishes she’d stuck to her decluttering schedule. Am I right?
5. Stick With What Works-Now this is one that the organized and disorganized of the world can agree on. If your Maybelline Great Lash Mascara in the pink and green container is working for you, stop test-driving all that other crap. Stick with what you know. Of course, if you must experiment, try all the different shades: Black, brown/black, brown, teal, purple, blue, green, waterproof, BUY THEM ALL! So what if they clutter your make-up drawer. You can deal with that on your scheduled decluttering day.
6. Create A Dump Zone- Uh, hello? You are a disorganized person. Your whole life is a dump zone. No need to go to an extra effort to cordon off a single “zone.” The drawer in your kitchen with the tinfoil, parchment paper, batteries, rubber bands and take-out menus? Dump Zone. Cupboard above the refrigerator where your 2,000 Ikea tea lights are melting from the heat? Dump zone. Garage? Double-dump zone. Consider yourself an overachiever in this arena, pat yourself on the back and move on. If you’re struggling with too many dump zones, make peace with your imperfections (see item #2).
7. Ask For Help- Nah. You’re too proud for this. You are fine just the way you are!
8. Separate Emotions From Possessions- Let go of those things that clutter your world. They are just things. You know, like the curtain rods, area rug, coffee mugs, and lampshade you bought at Ikea. Get real: You’re never going to return them. Sell them at the yard sale husband insists on organizing. Clearing out the junk will make room for more junk you get on sale.
9. Foresee And Avoid Problems- Hahahaha. Yeah, right. Okay. Like the fact that you completely forgot about your parent/teacher conference that was supposed to have taken place 45 minutes ago, because you fell asleep while reading your book? If you were an organized person, you might have foreseen and avoided missing this appointment. But you’re not, and you didn’t. Also: You purchased the new 85-piece Tupperware set to replace the 65-piece Tupperware set (bought last year in an attempt to get organized), the lids of which are now lost at various potlucks. Foresee and avoid problem: check! According to the organized person’s list, this is helpful. But…doesn’t it also mean more clutter…and more possessions? This is getting so confusing…
10. Know Where To Donate- You know damn well where to donate. The Goodwill is seven blocks east of your home. But you still drive around with bags of items—unsorted!—stacked in your car for three monthswithout dropping them off. Girl, you’re a mess. But you’re not a Kardashian mess. And that is something to be proud of.
If there is a problem, yo, I’ll solve it. Or at least write thoughtfully about it.
Be it Venial or Mortal (there's no escaping Original), we've all got secrets -- light, dark, funny, sad -- worth bringing to light. The act of confession can be liberating, mollifying and entertaining. Contrition? Repentance? A shot of Tequila? That's your call, sister.
Photograph of the McLinlock triplets sitting at table having a tea party. One of them is reading a magazine titled "Parents".
In case you missed it this week—what with the break-up of Katy Perry and John Mayer, and the ongoing saga that is Lisa Rinna’s lips—the Chicago Public School system banned a book. Yes, they did. Oh, no they didn’t. Yes they di…er…wait. What the…Calgon, take me away!
I think somebody should ban Lisa Rinna’s lips.
Anyway. The book in question, a graphic novel called Persepolis, is a memoir about a young girl’s childhood during Iran’s Islamic revolution. It was eventually made into an animated film that, in 2008, earned an Academy Award nomination. This would be a good time to stop, go buy a copy of this book as a big middle finger to CPS decision makers, and then come back and finish reading. I’ll wait.
You got it? Cool.
Now where was I? Oh, yes! The puritans at CPS!
The folks at the top seem to have concerns about the “graphic illustrations and language” in this book. Administrators are worried about the “developmental preparedness” of students and their “readiness” to tackle this particular material, content that includes violence, weed, a suicide attempt, and (gasp!) sex. And so, to protect the children from the pain of the world, they ordered Persepolis removed from all schools district-wide.
Of course, there was an ensuing uproar by people who are sane, to which CPS quickly responded by saying, “Haha! We didn’t ban it ban it. We were misunderstood! What we meant was we are removing it from the 7th grade curriculum only (aaaand maybe/possibly/probably from the 8th through 10th grade rotation). Oh, did we say that out loud?”
According to a memo from the CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett —fired off after the initial Remove! All! Copies! directive was made embarrassingly public—this book is really meant for AP students in their junior and senior years. Being, you know, advanced as they are.
I think it’s safe to say that Byrd-Bennett needs to get real. The woman needs to sit her ass in a chair and plug into Part One and then, if she can stand it, Part Two of the This American Life special on Harper High School, which should be required listening for every single American adult, and not just those who decide whether a book is too racy for school kids in Chitown (though it is the latter who should be first in line for the podcast). And pssssst! Hey Barbara! In case you’re reading, Harper is a school in your district.
Once she’s finished listening, Byrd-Bennett should ask herself if a great many of Chicago’s children don’t have the faculties to deal with the unpleasant realities of coming of age in a war zone. She should have to answer this question publicly.
I haven’t read Persepolis. But I sat (cried) through the Harper High program. And I will say this: If kids can survive what is happening to them under the oblivious eyes of the CPS, I’m pretty sure they can deal with whatever is in that book.
Whether they can deal with Lisa Rinna’s lips is another question entirely.
1) Where are you from?
I was born and raised in a very small town in the southeastern corner of Colorado (and by "very small" I mean less than 2,000 people...and most of those are relatives). For the last almost 22 years, I have called Nagasaki City, Japan my home.
2) What is your idea of a perfect Sunday morning?
As Sunday is almost always my only day off from teaching, waking up to no laundry and a clean house would be perfect...some nice weather in which to go to the beach and then, the end the day at our favorite hot spring would be most wonderful. And a margarita. Yeah...one or two of those would also be nice.
3) What is your favorite facial moisturizer and laundry detergent?
I grew up with a very young looking grandmother who only used Oil of Olay....but the smell of that started to get to me and I switched to whatever I could find that was cheap. Nowadays, I use Avon's AM/PM Solutions (I have a connection to a military base with an Avon Lady....she rawks!).
As for laundry detergent....to me, the smell of "home" comes from the Tide/Downy combination that my mom has used forever. Downy I can get (it's imported from Mexico and actually sort of cheap) and used with a Japanese detergent called "ATTACK" I almost have that "like Mom's" scent happening.
4) What is the last book you read?.
Right now, some students and I are reading a novel by Canadian author Joy Kogawa called Obasan. It's a very intense book written about her experiences before, during and after her family's time in an internment camp (I was surprised to know that Canada also had them). If you are interested in that sort of book, I completely recommend this one.
5) What is the last movie you saw?
I don't go to the movie very often (no free time) but I did manage to see Les Miserable. Oh. My. God. Fabulous.
6) Who is your secret boyfriend?
Only one?!?!?! Gosh...as a true Derf, I do have many, but...my main would have to be Dwayne Johnson. He's handsome, athletic, has a body I'd pay money to eat ice cream off of, he sings, he dances, has a wicked sense of humor and he loves his momma...enough said.
7) What are two things you would like to be doing in your life right now and why aren’t you doing them?
I would love to have the chance to get my hula-bula'ing behind to Hawaii a few times a year to study the dance I have come to love so much. To learn in that environment would be perfect. I'd also love to have my own place to teach English. I spend so much time everyday going here and there all over the city for classes, I want MY place. And in that place I would have a shop where I would sell cards, party supplies, candles...and whatever else some of my artsy-fartsy, very talented and creative friends wanted to sell. The name of my place will be "Serendipity" or "The Serendipitous Flamingo"...I haven't decided.
Both of these things will happen....I just have to be patient....the time and money needed will come. Of this, I am sure.
I'm not really one to read a lot of poetry, so I will share with you two things that mean a lot to me, from my most favorite of books (which I have read a gazillion times).
The book is Illusions, by Richard Bach.
Never given a wish
without also being given the
power to make it true.
have to work for it,
The bond that links your true family
is not one of blood, but
of respect and joy in
each other's life.
Rarely do members of one family
grow up under the same roof.
One of Nagasaki City's most famous dishes is called 'buta no kakuni' or simmered tender pork. It is usually served on a steamed bun with hot mustard, but it can also be served with rice. This dish is truly "slow cooked" but, I usually use my pressure cooker to speed the whole process along.
Nagasaki-Style Braised Pork
600 grams pork belly, cut into large cubes
15 grams green onion
25 grams ginger (a few knobs will do)
In a big pot, brown the outside of the meat over a medium heat. Make sure all sides have been browned. As the meat is fatty, you probably don't need to add oil, but, if it's sticking, go ahead and add a little.
When the meat is brown, fill the pot with water, completely covering the meat. Add chopped green onions and sliced ginger and boil over a medium heat for 2 1/2-3 hours. If you can pass a skewer the meat easily, it's done.
Remove from heat and let stand, until cool.
When it's cool, remove the meat and rinse in cold water.
Put the pork pieces into a clean pot and add:
1/4 cup sake ( I actually used white wine one time and it was okay!)
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. mirin (sweet cooking sake....if you don't have mirin, you can add a bit more sugar and white wine)
Add just enough water to cover the meat. Put a lid on it and cook on low for about 2 hours, until the liquid is almost gone. Check periodically and carefully remove the fat floating on the surface.
The meat will become incredibly tender, so be careful taking it out of the pan.
Serve with mustard....we also like spinach.
Thanks Deb! You can read more of Deb at etc., etc., etc.