Sunday, January 04, 2009

Pieces Of Eight For '09

Wow. Talk about "being off the grid." Hope you all had a great holiday and are looking at 2009 with at least some Cautious Optimism. I have the oddest feeling that The New Year hasn't even started yet--and won't--until we have Our New President. Like 2009 is being delayed until the Inauguration. Poor Barack Obama: the entire nation is holding its breath, and the collective sigh on January 20th will probably blow him off the podium.

It's hard in such Times As These to think altogether positively. We're being bombarded by Bad News, and frankly, I'm damn sick of it. Taking my cue from this article, I'm going to come up with eight good reasons to be cheerful, even just for a little while. See if you can do the same.
Oh, come now--do try!

1. Netflix--So forgiving and so convenient. Non-judgmental and not pushy. So, I ordered Traffic and let it sit for two weeks and realized, "Hey, I really don't feel like watching this. Doubtful that I ever will anytime soon. See ya, Traffic." Back in the mail it went, and two days later, here came In America. Did Netflix get all bossy and snarky about it? No. For the record, it did not.

2. Coffee--The unsung hero of my very existence. All it takes is one sip and I am reanimate and alert. I am like Dr. Frankenstein's monster getting a voltage jolt in his neck bolts. Am I addicted and a caffeine junky? Definitely. If you feel like preaching to me about it, I suggest you cop a more Netflix-type attitude. Thanks.

3. Aveda Brilliant Hair Gel--And, by association, Rick, who does not hammer at me mercilessly about how much it costs. This is the only hair product that performs consistently on my idiotically temperamental hair. I love it and it smells really good. All of these things are major benefits, as you all know, and are worth the cost. Almost. Sigh.

4. No More Math--As a grownup of 49+, I am now old enough to refuse to do all math. I detest math; I never succeeded in math; I find math to be annoying, frustrating, and pointless. Certainly, I can do basic arithmetic (i.e., adding, subtracting, multiplying, and division that is not "long"), but as soon as you stick in letters, we must part company. If letters were meant to be part of math, then the alphabet would read as follows: A1B2C3, etc. It is not; therefore, Algebra is bullshit. So, if math is involved in anything, I simply stop whatever it is and defer to someone who is more mathy. Period.

5. Medium Coming Back--This television show is a good one, and it's due to return to NBC on February 2nd. I'm not even sure if it's the premise of the show anymore (housewife with the ability to communicate with the dead) that I am intrigued with as much as it is Jake Weber, who plays the husband. His character is endearing, and he's just interesting looking. I've written about him before. Who cares? It's destination television for the Dept.

6. Camisoles with Shelf Bras--I love these things and wear them constantly. I detest bras in general. I have no idea what size I wear. I only have one that is decent and I tore the tag out years ago. Instead, I wear these little spandex camis under everything, so I have them in about eleventy hundred colors. They keep me warm, and since I very amply endowed, they contain me just fine. I know that someday I will have to be (heaven help us) professionally fitted for a real brassiere, but I keep putting that off and hoping The Bra Fairy will just leave a nice assortment under my pillow or in my lingerie drawer. What?

7. Doris Kearns Goodwin and Michael Beschloss--I love these two historians because they are so incredibly smart, articulate, and interesting. I read Goodwin's book Team of Rivals about Lincoln's cabinet when it first came out, and I could not stop reading it. Her writing is compelling and just the right mix of conversation and scholarliness. Michael Beschloss is an expert on the US Presidency, and it doesn't hurt that he is very tall and handsome. He is quick to point out leadership styles and pitfalls in governance. I practically drool when these individuals are on Meet the Press. It is also thrilling that Our New President Obama is a student of history. To me, this is Absolutely Critical.

8. Knowing How to Cook--I am so very glad that I know how to cook. I can stand in front of my pantry, fridge, freezer, and cupboard and pretty much scare up a meal any day of the week when I have to. Yes, I bitch and moan about having to much of the time because I do get sick of being The Creative Force Behind It All, especially when I don't feel like eating, but still, I can do it. And I'm not afraid to toss stuff together and try something new. This is especially fun during the summer months when I have more time. (Although, I made a lovely ham and bean soup this week that was, I must say, poem-worthy.)

And now it is your turn. You don't even have to think of eight. Brainstorm one or two small things of comfort that are cheery and pleasant and good. Let's get some good karma flowing for '09 here at the Dept.


  1. Happy New Year Nance! This post was very much needed. If I were famous, people would say that I've been in seclusion. But since I'm just a random individual, I haven't been visiting many blogs, returning most phone calls, or doing much of anything. Time to try and get over it and well ... rejoin the fray!

    I'm glad to hear that Medium is finally coming back. I've missed that show.

  2. Some of mine are the same, but for different reasons:

    Netflix--I don't have a Netflix account, but I have friends who do, and I love the feature that allows you to instantly stream movies on your computer. Last week we found Blow Dry, which was hysterical.

    Hot Cocoa--We have a fancy schmancy Starbucks machine at work that dispenses free coffee (which I detest - don't hate me) and hot cocoa, which I have recently fallen in love with. I'm addicted to it, drinking one or two cups during each of my classes, but not so Addicted that I would ever pay money for it.

    No More Math--The same is true for me, although in a difference sense, as I'm thrilled that I never have to study higher-level abstract math again. Hyperbolic geometry? Don't think so. Galois theory? Forget about it!

    24 Coming Back--I know it jumped the shark about thirty or forty times, and I can't say that I like this season's plot, but dammit, I like seeing Jack Bauer kicking ass.

    Ethnic Food--I love living in an area where one can find any type of food imaginable, as well as the ingredients to cook them. Some recent favorites from the past month include dim sum, this great new Indian place, and homemade Ethiopian food. The recently discovered African grocery store is amazing, and I will be trying out some West African food soon.

    Not Being in Ohio--I hate to push this one on you, but I came back for four days for the holidays, and I was ready to shoot myself by the time I got on the plane to head back. A trip like that really helps me appreciate all of the wonderful things I have available to me out here.

    My Teaching Schedule--Sure, I may be poor, but I only teach two days a week for the next few months. This means that I have ample time to hang out with my friends, who are around for a research program this semester.

    Slippers--They're so cozy to wear around the house and keep my socks from getting dirty.

  3. Anonymous5:45 PM

    I really liked Medium, though I thought that Jake Weber's character put up with a lot of crap. Lots of weird stuff that made the whole family dynamic unstable. I'm not even sure why I think that.

  4. I'm with Mikey on slippers (YAY! Really good ones with memory foam inside for decent support and cushiness) and ethnic food (had ethiopian food last week, and now I'm thinking of pad thai).

    Regarding's my plan to make it a FUN experience (I'm a 34D right now...34C if I lose 10 lbs, so I clearly NEED a bra.) Go to a nice lunch, with wine, with a close girlfriend. Then go to your closest Nordstrom (or look for the nearest good lingerie store) and get fitted. Find an older woman to do it who really knows her stuff. Then buy yourself a couple of expensive yet sexy bras, and matching panties. Then go get another glass of wine, and maybe a pair of shoes. See? fun!

    Regarding knowing how to cook. Indeed, cooking rocks. I love cooking even more than I love eating. Wait, no, almost as much as I love eating.

  5. J - Go to an Asian grocery store (there's a 99 Ranch right around the corner from me) and buy pad thai paste. You just add it to rice noodles, throw some chicken and whatnot in, and you're done! Going all out and cooking from scratch is fun but can be time consuming, and eating out can get expensive. 99 Ranch has pastes for every sort of dish you could ever want to make, so you can have ethnic food as often as you want!

  6. J.@jj--As Dept. readers may recall, I was really lobbying for new slippers in an earlier post and got them for Christmas. Thank heavens. I rarely got out of them during the break. I do love them so! And thanks for the advice on bra shopping. I'll keep it in mind when Confronting The Inevitable.

    a.l.--I get exactly what you mean. He is long-suffering without being a martyr, though, and that's what I love.

    Mikey--As you may recall, I am a huge fan of the TV show "House", which has also jumped the shark. I am annoyed and angry and frustrated, but I still watch it and love Hugh Laurie. So I am sympatico about 24. And you can own your hot chocolate fetish and your Ohio Hatred with me here anytime you want, you know that.

    Anali--Glad I could pull you back into the blogosphere. I was really slothing around, too, and it's hard to be back in reality after a leisurely holiday break. I think everyone was taking some time.

  7. I really liked netflix too. I kept movie for about 3 months before I decided I didn't think the relationship was working out. And when I terminated it, I didn't have to listen to any shit. Wonderful.

    Since you're post about cell phones, I've begun to appreciate mine more and even become a little bit greatful for having one with lots of wonderful features. For example, I just read your post on my phone :) But I cam to the computer to type my comment. Because even though I have a qwerty keypad, that would be far to much work.

    Shit, I better get my priorities straight. Cell Phones really are not important, just convenient. I'm not really all that shallow, swear.

    Seriously, in 2009 I'm going to make a real effort to take care of ME. FIRST. How on earth can I be a good wife and mother if I don't take some time to pay attention to my own basic needs. It's crazy how we let the little things slip away from us.

    Happy New Year!

  8. A side note...I'm very jealous of people that don't have to wear bras. I haven't experienced that since I was 11. Seriously.

  9. Anonymous8:43 PM


    I join you in praise of Netflix. They are a very efficient and, as you said, non judgmental. They never question my choice of flick, or refuse to send me any film I request. Also, we live in Florida in Winter and all I have to do to transfer service from one house to the other is tell Customer Service when I am going and they ask me for the new address and tell me to take my last film with me and mail it back to them from the new location. I do that and two days later the new DVD appears and I am all set until it's time to go home and the whole process starts over again. They never miss a beat.

    Now then, need Curry Chicken, Egg Foo Yung or Polish Kielbasa? In my neighborhood you can get anything.

    Christmas morning we were counting up just how many bottles of beer we had and realized we needed many more. But on Christmas? Buy beer? YES! Thanking God for Ethnic diversity we headed for our local Indian market and purchased our beer and other items we had either forgotten or run out of. Good old Mr. Patel was at his usual place ready to serve us....

    It seems I have the opposite problem than you in the size of my bosoms. Mine are HUGE!!!! I have 8 hook and eyes on my bras. This Summer I was romping in the ocean and a wave hit me and not only knocked me down but also took the top of my bathing suit off. I clutched my bosoms in my arms as best I could and began running to shore when a young boy yelled," Hey,Lady, If you're going to drown those pups, give me the one with the brown nose."

    So, if the lady in Nordstrom's is waiting to measure me, she better have a 6 foot tape....

    I am also grateful to the Corrigan Brothers in Ireland for their YouTube presentation of "There's No One as Irish As Barack O'Bama."
    Go to You Tube and there are about 10 versions, but the best has the White House on the cover with a green background. You will see Obama doing the Riverdance. It's a riot and very complimentary.

    And lastly, I am grateful to you, Nance, for writing such an interesting blog. I look forward to reading it and enjoy comparing my thoughts and opinions to yours. We are usually on the same wave length and I thank you for printing and commenting on my foolishness.

  10. Nina - I'm also happy with some of my cell phone's other features, such as being an mp3 player and digital camera. It's annoying to be out with two or three clunky things in my pocket, and so it's nice to have everything consolidated into just one.

    Of course, if you just want a phone to talk on, that's fine too. But why not throw in a free camera and mp3 player? You've got nothing to lose.

  11. I haven't read the article you linked to ... yet. So I am not sure I am really following the "rules," but these are the things I am cheerful about at the moment.

    1. Well, since eight is my very favorite number, Nance doing a blog post on pieces of eight makes me happy! I always choose some variation of 8 if I get to choose a number and I always exaggerate with the number 8 (e.g., "I've told you 80 million times.")

    2. Launching my blog and getting a good amount of comments and lots of email feedback. :-) Very encouraging. I am feeling the blog love!

    3. Having a son who just turned 21and can now drink legally. (The advantages far outweigh the disadvantages IMHO.)

    4. Audiobooks -- I only drive 10 miles to work so the drive usually takes 15 minutes each way. I listen to audiobooks during that time and it's wonderful. They just take me away a bit and make me look forward to car time. A trip to town is now a pleasure! I can listen inside my home of course and sometimes I do, but the car is best. My current listen, Pillars of the Earth, is awesome. I sort of miss actually reading it, but the reader is phenomenal on this one. (Sometimes I will both read and listen to a book. Each has its own merits.)

    5. Planning our biennial Valentine's Day bash. Almost nothing makes me happier. Planning the food (old standbys and new discoveries). Anticipating who will be able to make it (including out-of-state friends who will stay overnight or longer). Contemplating what I will wear (a new dress is always a must!). Buying the liquor (I really don't drink much, but God, I love a liquor store ... all those beautiful bottles full of intoxicating spirits) and the wine (getting young, helpful salespeople who tell you their inexpensive faves--always winners). It's all good.

    6. Finding clothes I've forgotten (that fit well and look good)--In the last month while decluttering my closet, I found two black velveteen tops, one pair of black jeans, one pair of dark blue jeans, and a white shell. I've worn them all and been a very happy camper. The velveteen tops worked especially great for the holidays.

    7. Having our son home from college AND knowing he'll be back at in a week. I know he's loving being here AND wanting to be back in his apt, too. That's as it should be, on both ends.

    8. I am not going crazy after all. I thought I had placed an order in September for calendars I buy every year, but when I started looking for them before Christmas I couldn't find any record that I had ordered them so I called to check to see if the organization had a record of the order. They said there was no record of any order, so I chalked it up to forgetfulness and ordered them. Today, I still had not received them so I called to check on their whereabouts and the fellow came back and said, "It looks like you placed the order on Sept. 10th. Is that right?" What?? I did place the original order after all ... and a second order in December. The long and short of it is that they sent out my calendars express mail and I'll be getting my calendars tomorrow, but by far the best part is knowing that I did place my order just like I usually do. (Please don't point out the glass half empty side of the story. LOL)

    Nance--I have so missed Medium. Thanks for that news, Nance. TV really stinks lately I think. The better to inspire one to do other, more brain-exercising stuff though. Just saw the new bunny ... way too cute!

    J--thanks for the very helpful advice on Nordstoms's bra fitting! I need to go to Nordstrom's to return something and since it's an hour and a half away, I will make good use of my time while I am there and do that as well. My one and only bra fitting was at Penney's. You can imagine how that went. Girl measures (sort of) over my clothes. "What size do you wear?" she asks. "38DD," I answer. That's about right, she replies. Soooo helpful.

  12. Shirley--I love how you blog on my blog! You may have to start yet another blog and call it "The Dept. of Shirley"! LOL. Anyway--I am intrigued by the concept of a favorite number. I do not have one, as far as I know. I'll have to think about that.

    Nancy--It's so ironic that most of my friends (and Dept. Denizens, apparently) are amply endowed. Even before I lost so much weight, I was not very buxom. And thanks for the very kind words about my blog. I love having a forum for my writing, and the fact that it becomes interesting and provokes discussion is very satisfying to me. I really appreciate your comments and audience and, of course, your humor especially.

    Nina--How exciting that you can get the Dept. on your mobile! Certainly that makes it all worthwhile...LOL. And I'm glad to hear that you are taking some time for YOU in '09. Too often, new mommies can get bogged down by being THE ONE with regard to their babies and forget that they are not just dairy bars and nurturers. you are still a PERSON WITH AN ADULT BRAIN AND NEED REAL DISCOURSE AND ENGAGEMENT BEYOND TELETUBBIES AND THE PRICE IS RIGHT. So, go shopping, read a book, take a soakie bath, and watch The Daily Show and Rachel Maddow. I heart you. And PS--sorry about being on the *IBTC.

    *itty bitty titty committee

  13. me:

    1. This beautiful house

    2. This beautiful weather

    3. Children

    4. Friends

    5. Sweet, painful memories

  14. Laura--a heartfelt "Welcome Back" to the Dept.! I am more than a wee bit envious of you escaping The Freezing North for more pleasant climes. The trade-off is, though, that you are living in a big, old Red State. Oh well--you'll keep your corner Blue, I know.

  15. Anonymous12:10 AM

    1. Green & Black milk chocolate with almonds. Heaven in a beautiful wrapper.

    2. Having a job when our county has 11% unemployment.

    3. Getting bumped to business class on my trip home across the country.

    4. John Stewart & Stephen Colbert.

    5. A new president.

    6. High speed internet (it just became available in our remote area)

    7. Wonderful offspring.

    8. A warm, cozy home.

    Nance-I'm older than you and I am taking Probability and Statistics this term. Help!

  16. First time visitor who especially agrees with #7 and enjoyed your wry sense of humor. Thanks

  17. troutbirder--Welcome to the Dept! Glad to have you aboard and commenting. Don't you adore those two--Goodwin and Beschloss? My fervent hope is that DKG does THE definitive book on Mary Lincoln. I am a huge champion of Mary, and although I think Jean Baker did a good bio, I think DKG could really do her complete justice, especially regarding her nuanced relationship with A. Lincoln, the citizens of Washington, and her later years after Lincoln's death.

    plain jane--tell me more (like brand name) of #1. Totally with you on your #4!!!! And do NOT get me started on Stats and Prob. I--SOMEHOW--passed it in undergrad with a B and still have no idea how. I think my prof.(dear Genevieve Stern) took pity on me. I really do. My heart bleeds for you, dearest, truly it does.

  18. Anonymous4:00 AM

    The chocolate brand is Green & Blacks Organic and it spoils you for any other chocolate. You can find it in most grocery stores on the west coast.

    Thanks for the sympathy...

    P.S. My daughter gave me a shopping bag with Colbert's image on in--makes me laugh every time I use it.

  19. Anonymous10:24 PM

    1. Kettle Chips.

    2. My warm & fuzzy bathrobe.

    3. The occasional tipple.

    4. Going to the hairdresser's and having somebody else wash my hair.

    5. Low numbers on cholesterol on my last blood test.

    6. My new big-ass TV with the cool DVR which I can even program to record from a computer.

    7. Making my last payment for graduate school. (unless I fail the finals in April).

    8. The Dept. of Nance. For combining humor and sanity and restoring my faith in... the benefit of many things, such as Pieces of Eight.

  20. I put my eight up at my site. For a #9 though I'll put having a husband who never makes me shovel snow. Hurray!

  21. J.--I went over to The Cafe and read your 8. And cheers for E. being chivalrous (unless he's just lazy and NO ONE does it...!) re: #9.

    Ortizzle--What is it about potato chips--esp. our pet kinds--that is so very satisfying? I am, admittedly, a potato maniac. If I ever had to give them up, I'd go mad, but CHIPS! Oh, those salty, crunchy, wonderful things! And thank you, luv, for #8. Blatant flattery will get you everyplace with me, but I choose to think you mean it. I'm happy to be a Destination Pour Vous on the Interwebs.


Oh, thank you for joining the fray!

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