Thursday, October 30, 2008
Earlier this week I was chatting on the phone with another guy friend. I was telling him about a touching story I read that really spoke to my heart. It was about a woman who had a double mastectomy. She felt ugly, broken and undesirable and was worried that she would never again be a whole woman for her husband. Her husband just held her and said "I will never stop loving you because that's who I am." She said it reminded her of how Christ loves us, through our brokenness and the cancer of sin, simply because of who He is. After I shared this whole story with my friend, he responded "well at least you didn't have to have a double mastectomy to learn that lesson." Such sensitivity.
I have two guys friends who I refer to as my "kissing friends." Not that kind of kissing. Get your minds out of the gutter. Cheek kisses, pecks, the kind of kiss you give someone as a greeting. One of these guys is a church friend and the other is a work friend. One is single and the other is married. I'm not really going anywhere with this...it's just interesting. I'm not sure how I developed kissing friends. But I appreciate them.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I had the opportunity to interview these guys and record them performing Smetana's Piano Trio several months ago. Smetana wrote this composition shortly after the deaths of three of his young daughters. The piece fascinates me. There are sections where the mood is very excited and happy, but then abruptly cuts short. Other sections are filled with anger and outrage. The music sometimes devolves into despair...other times it bursts forth in fantasy and delight. It's almost as though Smetana was contrasting music that reflected the lives of his little girls against music that reflected his own turbulent emotions over their deaths. I could listen to it over and over.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Greetings from a land that prospered 4,000 centuries ago. I have only been in Egypt a few days now and I have learned so much. First of all, I am quite certain that these people did not build these pyramids. If they had, I am sure that they would collect all of the trash that is laying in the streets and alleys of Cairo and construct another. Cairo is one of the dirtiest and craziest cities I've ever visited. There are over 20 million people living in Cairo. I think the night that I was there they all decided to get in their cars and drive frantically thru town honking, swerving, and screaming obscenities in arabic. The good part is that they are very friendly, when not driving, and are willing to help you with anything (for a small price, my friend). The pyramids were amazing! Much larger than I could have ever imagined. Another thing that I found interesting is that there are over 90 of them in Egypt! All my life I thought there were only three or four. Again, I am certain that they could break the 100 mark if they'd just start picking up the trash in town and piling it up in a geometric-like fashion.
I went to the valley of the kings today. To be honest it was kind of morbid. No one to my knowledge really enjoys going to a cemetery to see people they do not know. Why we enjoy going inside the tomb at a cemetery is beyond me as well. They have two separate cemeteries. The valley of the kings (for the boys). And the valley of the queens (for the girls). I kid you not, the tombs of the queens were always much better decorated and even smelt better (I know you think i'm exaggerating but I am not). Some things don't change. Even in the afterlife.
My guide was a devout muslim (like most of the people here). He was very nice and he was very respectful of my beliefs. He also informed me of several lies that we in the West have been told. First of all, he does not understand why the Jews do not want to come and visit Egypt (he calls it the Paris of the Middle East). I told him that it probably had something to do with being in bondage here and having to escape with the help of "the only True God". He then told me that the Jews a) were never slaves here and b) did not construct the pyramids. He then told me that during 911 that it is a fact that all of the Jewish workers that lived in the towers stayed home that day (implying that they knew of the attack). I told him that it just proves that God is looking out for them as He must have told them to stay home! Again, I learn something new everyday.
On a much lighter note, when eating at the touristy places I have found delight in listening to the rag tag band of musicians that hang out near the entrance. They only play music when the tourists walk by. The music last for about six or seven notes (depending on how long the tourists take to walk by and if they give them some money). Every new group of tourists get a new song. Because the songs are so short, we hang out near the entrance at night and play "Name that Tune". It's amazing the things you'll do when you don't have a television to occupy your time.
~The Moscow Correspondent
Friday, October 24, 2008
Yesterday I was chatting with the volunteers here at the station, thanking them for helping out with our fundraising campaign. As I talked to one guy he suddenly exclaimed "You're Laurie Johnson! I can't believe I've been sitting here talking to you. I listen to you all the time!" I thanked him for listening and made small talk for a bit. Then I started to move away to head back to the studio, but he stopped me, stood up and pulled out his cell phone and said "I know I shouldn't do this...but I just can't help myself..." meanwhile I'm thinking "oh dear God, please don't let him ask for my number." He looked a bit embarrassed and asked "can I take a picture with you?" Whew. What a relief. He handed his phone to another volunteer and we posed for a picture. I'm now in this guy's iPhone as a celebrity sighting. I'm sure he'll tell all his friends how he met me and asked for a picture. Next thing you know I'll be signing autographs.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
9:00 - Waffles & Wings at the breakfast klub
10:30 - browse the Menil Collection and walk around the neighborhood between galleries
12:30 - light lunch at Krafts'men Baking
1:00 - walk off lunch while visiting thrift shops along Westheimer, especially antique shops and Buffalo Exchange
3:00 - coffee and some reading at Empire Cafe...ok...maybe some cake too
5:00 - a ramble through the Japanese Gardens in Hermann Park
6:30 - stop and watch the sunset
7:00 - glass of wine and light meal at Backstreet Cafe
9:00 - moonlight stroll through Discovery Green
That, my friends, is about as perfect a day as one can get.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Highlights of the evening included:
- Meeting David Sedaris. He was very friendly and told me I looked far too young to work for a public radio station.
- Getting catcalls and whistles onstage when I told the story about my mom's fears.
- One listener told me she always imagined me as looking studious, but upon seeing me thinks I'm "so glamorous"
- Walking through the parking garage back to our car, a woman's voice calls out "Laurie Johnson!" I turn around and see a stranger beaming behind me. She told me she recognized me from my shoes.
- My shoes. Seriously, they looked hot.
- Facebook messages from friends who saw me at the show.
- My date (the real one, not David Sedaris). He looked hot too.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
First, a description of my purse. It's a medium-sized black handbag with one large carrying space and three small inner pockets. It's not very large (about 8"x12") but deceptively can hold a surprising amount of stuff. I don't have as many things in there as I usually carry.
Right now it holds:
- My date planner (for all my fabulous dates)
- coin/cash purse
- card case
- chewing gum
- compact mirror
- Excedrin (never leave home without it)
- hand sanitizer
- Starbucks receipt for 1 free latte
- feminine hygiene product
- 1 small bag containing the following items: Neutrogena foundation, sponge, three lipsticks, lip gloss, mascara, 1 bobbypin and 1 snap-barrette
- plastic hair clip
- extra car key that I keep forgetting to leave at home
- iPod Nano
- mini contact lens solution
- new lipstick (not to be confused with previously listed lipsticks)
- ballpoint pen
- one pair of earrings
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
"Why is that, Mom?"
"Because the people in the seats might be able to see up your dress."
That's my mom. And people wonder where my quirkiness comes from...
Love you, Mommy!
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
then I would catch you.
If you'd need a light,
I'd find a match.
'Cause I love the way you say 'Good Morning'
and you take me the way I am.
If you are chilly,
here take my sweater.
Your head is aching,
I'll make it better.
'Cause I love the way you call me 'Baby'
and you take me the way I am.
I'd buy you Rogaine,
when you start losing all your hair.
Sew on patches
to all you tear.
'Cause I love you more than I could ever promise
and you take me the way I am.
Monday, October 13, 2008
It's sobering to report the news when the news actually comes from within our own ranks. And it's hard to think about our friends over at Channel 13, who are having to report on their own tragedy.
And it's a grim reminder that our jobs are often more dangerous than we think. We're called upon to go into risky and sometimes life-threatening situations. That pilot and photographer were performing what, for them, is a normal day on the job. But tonight they won't get to clock out and go home to their families. They won't eat a meal with friends, or fall asleep in front of the TV. And the reality is most of Houston will forget about them.
So next time you turn on the news, or tune into the radio, think about what it may have cost for you to be able to see that report from a war zone or hear that update from high above the city. And next time you criticize the media for all their failures, ineptitude and idiocies, remember that you are blessed to live in a country where the media is free to mess things up, to make mistakes, to cover controversial subjects, to critique our politicians without fear of retribution and to willingly go into places and environments that you never could or would enter.
Friday, October 10, 2008
I give you...
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
I've never lived in an apartment, but I've lived in Alaska. In the winter.
I've lived in a log cabin in the woods. With a creek running through our yard.
And the best place I've ever lived was this old house.
My dad was transferred to a post office in the Texas Hill Country when I was about 17. My family would go house-hunting on the weekends and we'd usually end up passing this house while we were out and about. I would always jokingly (and longingly) say to my parents "THAT's the house I want to live in!" It was so beautiful sitting up there on the hill. Back then it was yellow, with a white porch and shutters. There was a nice red barn at the far edge of the yard. I think for me it symbolized tranquility, stability, simplicity...all things I was craving at that point in my life. Of course we would all laugh at the idea that somehow we'd be able to live in that amazing old farmhouse on the top of the hill.
One day, my dad came home from work and said he had some exciting news. A man had come into his office that day and said he heard we were looking for a place to live. "Yes, that's true," my dad said. "Well I have an old house you might be interested in. It's nothing special. It's kinda lonely, but you can have it if you want it," the man said. "What are you asking for it?" my dad wondered. "Can't sell it, but I could rent it to you for $500 a month," the man replied.
Needless to say, my dad immediately concluded this house was going to be a dump. But he told the man he'd like to take a look at it and see if it would work. Much to his surprise, the man took him to that beautiful yellow house on the hill. My dad took one look inside and told him we'd take it.
The first time I walked into that house, my jaw dropped. The living room was at least 30 feet long, with a huge picture window at the end overlooking the gentle hills in the valley. There was a fireplace on one side, easily big enough for two grown people to actually sit inside. There was a sunroom with black and white tiled floors and french doors opening onto the back deck. The guest bath had a giant clawfoot tub and beautiful brass fixtures. The house was built in the late 1800s and still had the original wood floors, walls and ceilings. The house was so big it had three air conditioning units to cool it.
I was in love.
I have many memories of that house...my two best friends spending weekends with me, exploring the fields and climbing around in the barn...my family sitting on the back deck watching the chickens peck in the yard...driving my car up the dusty lane through a herd of stubborn cows...standing outside on a frosty Christmas Eve looking in at all my family sitting around the fireplace while the lights on the Christmas tree twinkle through the glass...that house made me feel like I was living inside a Hallmark card.
I went back a few weeks ago. The house is still there. As you can see in the picture, it's no longer yellow. And the new owners have changed some of the exterior details...probably the inside has changed too. But they can never change my memories.
Monday, October 06, 2008
Usually the man has the purse slung over his shoulder and is strutting down the street. If you're in a better part of town you might get to see the men who have accessorized. They'll most always have the matching shoes, but sometimes they will even have a matching belt. I won't even get started on how gay the shoes look, but they accentuate the problem when they sling that purse over their shoulder.
Don't get me wrong. Sometimes I'm forced to carry more than I can fit in my pockets (a laptop, a couple of books, ipod, sunglasses, vanity mirror). In that case I'll be sporting a backpack. And the odds of that backpack matching my shoes or belt are slim and none.
The part I don't get is this. The bags are usually the size of a small to medium size binocular case. This means that the guy is either carrying a pair of sunglasses and a wallet in his purse, or he's got a small handgun that won't fit in his pocket. Regardless, my way of thinking is that if it won't fit in my pocket, then it's going in my backpack.
My favorite thing to see is a man and his girl walking side by side, purses swinging. I can't help but stare in disbelief. I would love to make a snide comment to every man that I see sporting his Prada or Gucci European Carry-all (thank you Jerry Seinfeld), but my fear is that one of three things might happen. 1. He'll start slinging his purse at me. Although most of the purses aren't big enough to do much damage. 2. He'll pull a hand gun out of his Louis Vuitton hand purse and bust a cap in me. Or 3. His girlfriend will chase me down and beat me up. Number 3 is likely the case, so I usually just look at him, shake my head, and if I'm smooth enough, I'll get my camera out and snap a couple of photos while he's not looking.
Friday, October 03, 2008
I tried to stave off the urges by baking some pumpkin bread and making cinnamon butter. But I don't think I'll be able to contain myself much longer. I've already made my 'to-buy-for' shopping list. And to be perfectly honest, I already have a gift for at least one person on that list.
And I haven't been able to resist doing some catalog and internet browsing on Crate and Barrel's site...which just makes it even harder. Gahhh! I think I'll have to succumb this week and start stockpiling my Christmas treasures.
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
It's not for the faint of heart. It's more sickening than any Hollywood slasher movie could ever achieve. People who love horror movies should be required to watch this movie -- a depiction of real-life horror.
But the movie is not graphic in the traditional sense. There is some nudity and violence. And it's upsetting to watch, but not gratuitous. Mostly it just gives you a sense of what it's like for people who live in despair and hopelessness.
I actually found myself praying for the characters in the movie at one point. I had to remind myself that it was just a movie and these people weren't really experiencing what was depicted on screen.
If you watch it, be prepared for it to stay in your thoughts for a long time.