Sunday, January 22, 2012


After writing group yesterday, I was having a chat with one of my fellow writers. She mentioned that the coffee shop where we meet was having a “tea tasting,” complete with free tea samples. I told her that I’ve never liked tea. As soon as the words left my mouth, however, I realized that they weren’t completely true.

There was one time when I really enjoyed having a cup of tea. Back in the mid-90s, I spent my junior year of college in Hamburg, Germany (one of my two majors was Germanic Studies). One of the classes I took while I was there was “History of Texas.” I find this somewhat ironic now that I live in Texas, a place I never dreamed of moving to. For reasons I no longer recall, a lot of Germans immigrated to Texas in the mid- to late-1800s. So there is a strange connection between the two, and a lot of Germans seem fascinated with the place.

At any rate, in this class I met a young graduate student, whom I will call M.C., who was from the city I now call home: Austin. He took the class on a whim. M.C. was an interesting fellow: studying in Germany on his own, member of a punk rock band, very well read. I now realize that he had a lot of Austin in him, so to speak.

One of the more interesting things about M.C. is that he was absolutely obsessed with the process of making a cup of tea. This was very fascinating to my 20-year-old self. In fact, I think I would find it fascinating even now. A 25-year-old man who had fallen in love with the beauty of making a cup of tea? Honestly, it almost sounds like I’ve made it up.

M.C. had purchased a real tea set, from a local antique shop, I think. He also used to purchase these rocks of sugar. I have no idea where a person would get such a thing. He loved to pour the hot tea over these rocks, and listen to how they would crackle and break apart. Even more, he loved to slowly pour in the cream in, watching the interesting patterns it would make as the two liquids would swirl together.

His enthusiasm was infectious. How could I not enjoy this process? How could I not enjoy the tea itself? The anticipation alone made it taste better.

I have never had tea like this again. And perhaps that is my problem with tea. Perhaps it’s just not as good without the ceremony. I wonder, were I to try to replicate this process, if it would be as good, or if it would seem hollow without M.C.’s enthusiasm. Who’s to say? I don’t own a tea set myself, which is why there is no accompanying picture with this post.

I often wonder whatever happened to M.C. We haven’t spoken to or seen each other now for some 16 years, but I have some very fond memories associated with him. Someday, I’ll have to share one of my others with you, but today, let’s just think about tea.

2012 Goal Update

Goal 1: Finished Chapter 18. Wrote two pages of Chapter 19 (also wrote some notes for this chapter). Wrote 3rd blog post, but continue to be a little frustrated that I’m not sure where the blog is going.

Goal 2: I didn’t think about this at all this week.

Goal 3: Unfortunately, date night was interrupted when the husband had to do some work for his actual paying gig. He did buy me flowers and chocolates earlier in the week, though.

Goal 4: Got in a walk on my extra day off on Monday, but didn’t manage a second walk I’d planned for later in the week, which disappoints me. Applied for just one of the two jobs I found. Got a lead on a good job website.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


I’ve been thinking a lot about art this week. The coffee shop where my writing group meets allows local artists to post their wares for sale, a different artist each month or two. On a number of occasions, there have been pieces that I would have loved to purchase. Alas, most of them were selling at $100-$200, a price that’s too steep for me.

I feel sad that I am unable to afford to support local artists. I know how tough it is to make it as an artist in this society. I understand why they often charge so much. I’ve been thinking a lot about how society used to support artists, in a way. At least, back in the day, an artist had a chance to find a patron to support him.

I wonder, however, if that was truly any better. I doubt that there were very many patrons who just supported their artists without expecting something in return. I’m sure the artists were required to paint/sculpt/etc. specific things that the patron wanted. Did that distract the artist from his work? Did it change his work, shape it in ways that he hadn’t intended?

Ultimately, however, I think that if you asked artists today, “If a rich person offers to support you fully but in addition to your own work, you have to produce regular, commissioned pieces for him/her, would you accept?” that most of them would say yes. I know I would.

In honor of this week’s topic, I’m posting a picture of the one and only piece of original artwork I’ve ever purchased. I bought it from a guy on the street on Maui for $20. I like how it’s dark and kind of spooky. I hope to give it more original artwork company some day soon!

2012 Goal Update

Goal 1: Revised part of Chapter 17 after critique from my reader. Hit page 11 of Chapter 18 (approx. 4-6 pages left to write). Agreed to do some writing work for my husband’s video game project if they need me. Wrote 2nd blog post.

Goal 2: Thought about how much fun it would be to learn how to restore old books & start some kind of business around that (okay, probably not a non-profit, but I could see doing some pro bono work on the side).

Goal 3: Not much progress here this week. The husband is very busy as his team tries to get their game to “alpha.” We haven’t had much quality time together. Trying to be a good, understanding wife.

Goal 4: Went for a gorgeous 3-mile hike with a friend today. Decided that I need to stop bitching about my horrible temp job and start looking for something else. Found two jobs to apply for.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Girl Put Your Records On

In December 2010, my dear friend Shawn Fitzpatrick was killed in a car accident. Although we had not been as close in recent years, he always remained amongst my favorite people. I was devastated to learn of his death. The anniversary of it, which was also very close to both Christmas and what would have been his birthday, weighed on me heavily this past December. He was on my mind a lot.

Shawn and I were in the same program in college that sent us to Germany for the 1995-96 school year. We also lived in the same dorm, although on different floors. We spent a lot of time together. He was brilliant (languages, mathematics, chess) and funny and kind and warm-hearted. I have a lot of great memories that are associated with him. I miss him so much.

Earlier this week, I was driving in the car and I got to thinking about the time after I returned from Germany when he sent me a mix tape out of the blue. He called it “Die Zaubertanzmusikkassette,” or for those of you who don’t speak German, “The magical dance music tape.” Although I held onto it for years, it’s no longer in my possession; I can’t remember if I left it in storage when we moved to Hawaii, or if I got rid of it. But it was full of all kinds of interesting stuff, most of which I never would have listened to on my own, such as Dillagi’s “Dhoom Dhoom Luck Luck” and other bands from all over the world.

There was a time in my life when my friends and I were always trading music with each other. I love to share the music I enjoy with other people. Except for on rare occasions, I don’t do this any longer. I miss it. I know that there are websites for this sort of thing now. I’ve never tried it, so I honestly don’t know if I would like it.

My gut instinct is that it wouldn’t feel the same as taking the time to plan out the perfect mix album for someone. Isn’t that the typical knee-jerk reaction to new things, though? That’s why we tend to fear change so much, I think. It’s hard to believe that, if we have liked the way something has been, that changing it can’t possibly make it better. Sometimes that’s true, but not always.

Maybe I’ll try a music-based social networking site. Maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll see if I can interest some friends in swapping music. Maybe I won’t. But I’ve enjoyed thinking about it this week. In a way, it’s helped me feel like I’m honoring my friend by thinking about the joy he gave me through music. It’s all we can really do for the people we’ve lost, to never let them stray far from our minds.

2012 Goal Update, Week 1

Goal 1: Finished Chapter 17. Started Chapter 18. Didn’t like it, successfully rewrote. Wrote first blog post.

Goal 2: Discussed with a friend the possibility of collecting used schoolbooks for children in Uganda. Considering another friend’s suggestion that I might be interested in helping the elderly.

Goal 3: Got to spend more time with the husband. Went on Date Night. Cuddled on the couch and watched football together on Sunday.

Goal 4: Continued to eat three times a day. Did the river walk on Saturday.

About My 2012 Blog Project

I’ll admit that the blog project I’ve been thinking about undertaking is still a little vague and unformed. It involves taking pictures throughout the week and choosing one to write a blog post about. Of course, this week, I didn’t take any pictures at all.

However, as I was driving the other day, an idea came to me and it just won’t go away. I have to write about it. I have no picture for this week’s blog, which is music related. Since I have all of my music on my computer now, I no longer have CDs, tapes, or records, and all of my pictures of my friend that I mention in the posting are in our storage unit in another state. So this week’s blog will be picture-less.

I don’t know that it’s the best idea to go off-script in the first week, but the biggest part of me doesn’t really care. I want to write a blog post every week, and I found something that I want to write about. That’s all that seems to matter. We’ll see what happens next week!