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It hasn’t been really cold out recently. Have you noticed? I’ve enjoyed it, actually, as it provides some wonderful weather for my morning ritual of coffee, a quick fix and squirrel watching. They’re really bizarre, I wish you could see it. They like to chase all the birds out of the trees and while I don’t find it particularly nice, it is only in their nature and they do not know any better for they are just squirrels. And besides, the birds can fly south, if they really wanted to get away from nut-grubbing little rodents.

The past few months have been strange and lost, all kind of blurring into one big mess of days and emotions. I’ve never felt more free, but there’s a loneliness in the freedom of embracing the open-ended nature of the entire world and the rest of your life. It isn’t warm and it never fulfills and I am not sure why, but maybe that’s just the nature of the whole wide world, and I shouldn’t begrudge it that.

California comes next week, and it comes somewhat uninvited. I’ve grown tired of the depth of the valley and its big heavy, thick blanket. I am unexcited by light pollution and obligatory aspects of Being There. I miss my family, dearly, and cannot wait to spend Christmas morning with them, but dread the lack of breathing room and the inability to relax makes me tired just thinking about it. But it’s only in the nature of going home, so what am I fighting it for?

It is silly to predicate something like love on the existence of a soul, especially when you both know that it’s only cells in various arrangements. But it’s nice to think of something indescribable like that, when you see the eyes of someone you love reflect your hopes and the beauty of your future. It’s whimsical and makes the most rational of folks irrational beings for a blip on the timeline. How terrible. But I guess it’s in our nature.

I don’t really care how terrible this post is. Suck it.

(This is, without a doubt, a completely complete example of this blog’s very namesake. And the worst kind, too.)

The Plan is as follows: In a little over two years from now, I will have attianed my Master’s Degree. 

The Plan will be executed by: A strong investment of my brain and heart into becoming a Lady Scholar of the highest degree and henceforth being able to ‘sow my brain seeds’ into the malleable minds of young college students and colleagues.

In consulting what my Plan is, the reality of the failure of even those best laid is apparent and everywhere.  If I may direct you to Antoni Gaudí, for a moment, the original architect of the unfinished masterpiece Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Familia, located in Barcelona, Spain.

Antoni’s opus. A massive structure that is far more impressive than you’re giving it credit for. While it is difficult to imagine the course of his life went according to plan, after the beginning of the construction of the cathedral leading up to his death in 1926, his blueprints were destroyed during the Spanish Civil War by anarchists. Hope, be lost?  Plans, be damned! Construction on the cathedral continues to this day and as it approaches its 140th birthday in 2026, it shall be finished (I am sure the residents of Barcelona have heard this one before).

But it’s beautiful, no? Aside from the fact that I highly doubt the Spanish Government really wants a gargantuan, unfinished, “witch castle” in their midst, there’s a certain romanticism about a postmortem continuation of plans, even if they stray from their original intention (Hendricks, 2009). It would be easy to allow something such as death and the burning of blueprints to get in the way of completion, but we press on, still, and follow through, ever aware of the likelihood that even this present architect may not live to see the day when steel cranes and wooden scaffolds no longer scrape the sky along side massive spires and ornate decoration.

So, what does that mean to me? Basically that I realize the importance of plans and their value, but also the value in their potentially ephemeral nature. I am noted by some (myself), as being a lover of plans, lists, ideas, future-minded thinking. While obtaining a Master’s involves slightly more planning than say, a weekly investment in my mental health by committing to a strict regimen of yoga and meditation, it is nonetheless susceptible to the same fate as other Plans.

This does not distress me, because Epicurus (who is swiftly becoming my favorite Greek) tells me it should not.

Plans are nice and have the potential to add great joy to your life, they also can create misery, pain, suffering and strife. Well, as can everything, I suppose, but these things matter not. Epicurus lived his life believing in the value of pleasure and doing what brings you pleasure, like creating cathedrals that may never be completed.  And while I am not well-read in Classics, nor Epicurus, nor Architecture, nor Gaudi (thanks, Wikipedia!), I can read well.  And I can copy and paste well, too.

For Epicurus, the purpose of philosophy was to attain the happy, tranquil life, characterized by ataraxia, peace and freedom from fear, and “aponia”, the absence of pain, and by living a self-sufficient life surrounded by friends.

At the outset, this was to be an entry about my renewed career as a student and my passion and love for all things Academic (I even researched the etymology) and it didn’t even really end up there either. How’s that for an example.

 Plans, as small or as big as they seem will fall apart. You will die with uncompleted projects, some worthy of being continued by others, mostly not. This is not cause for distress or for fear or any other negative emotion that will take away from one moment of your ataraxia.  Do what you will with whatever you will, but seek pleasure! To me, the tragedy in Gaudi’s plans are not that they were uncompleted upon his death, but that his sole-investment in their progress near the end of his life put him into seclusion, away from camaraderie and basic and simple pleasures we are able to pull from life.

When I am older, I want to have the following clarity, which is taken from a letter written by Epicurus to Idomeneus, as Epicurus lie in his death bed without child or wife, suffering from kidney stones:

“I have written this letter to you on a happy day to me, which is also the last day of my life. For I have been attacked by a painful inability to urinate, and also dysentery, so violent that nothing can be added to the violence of my sufferings. But the cheerfulness of my mind, which comes from the recollection of all my philosophical contemplation, counterbalances all these afflictions.

To live, to live with pleasure and to live well.

Let’s plan on it.

What logical explanation could there be for me to finally see a need to dust off the old blogging hat and once again grace the interwebs with my words! Nothing.

Not nothing in the sense that there is an emptiness or boredom or realization that I have a blog and nothing with which to fill it, but nothing is something to celebrate, I think. Too much something, these days and not enough nothing.

Okay. I’ll take a step back. Recently, Stephen has adopted the most admirable and wonderful talent of pushing himself to read at least the entire front section of the New York Times (Do I need more reasons to adore this kid?). Something that few attempt and even less complete at the age of 21. One of his favorite sections is the OpEds and I cannot blame him. Wit and honesty and sometimes humor is something that can get lost in 24 pages of daily news roundups and it’s a refreshing and easy to read informative section. Don’t get me wrong, I love Salon.com, which is all Opinion, all the time, but seldom do I venture over to the Times for a healthy dose of New York spunk. And with the “death” of print journalism, I figure I should support it while I can.

Today I stumbled across an editorial section called Happy Days: The Joy of Less. Read it, once you get the moment.

Iyer is an American Journalist currently living the life of the moment in Kyoto. He isn’t addicted to his iPhone, or nervous about a car payment or mortgage, quite simply because these things do not exist to him. He is not a millionaire yearning to be a billionaire or a 20-something nervous about what their retirement fund is going to be made out of. He is living for today, not the future. And like many, he’s lost a lot of his savings in the past year or so, but he’s okay, he’s living and he’s enjoying. I cannot say that for myself and I haven’t even lost that much.

I found myself envious of his lifestyle and then found myself fantasizing of the idea of not having to pay bills because I didn’t have any and what my life would be like were that the case. To be able to completely drop out and join the ranks of the elite; Those wealthy in mind, body and soul, not material things.

When I was in Argentina I remember being surprised at how happy everyone was. So much that we use to define our happiness (techno gadgets, nice cars, luxurious vacations) were absent from their lives, but they were happier than almost any American I had come across. They weren’t worried about the things we worry about because they didn’t have them in the first place.

Now, I’m not about to chuck my television out the window and drown my cell phone in the Ohio River, but maybe I should. Instead, for now, I am going to pay attention to what today is telling me and drown out the incessant nagging of tomorrow and the day after. Life is far to short to boggle our brains with things that may not last through the end of the week. So, I’ll sit on my porch, read a book, listen to a rainstorm and love the life of today and the people I am lucky enough to share it with and slowly, over time, become one of the elite.

Not now, sadly. Not in the too near future, unfortunately. But, yes, the end of May this year will see my first vacation in a while (Christmastime is never a vacation and almost always more work and stress than it should be.) So, where am I going, you may wonder? Tahiti? France? India? Brazil? No, no, nowhere like that. Actually, Stephen and I are going to California. He’s never *really* been to L.A. and I’d love to go back and have time there that isn’t interrupted with candy canes and tree decorating and obligatory good tidings (kidding). I have a lot of hopes for this little vacation and hope to make the very best of it and hope to have plenty of time to relax and remember some of my favorite L.A. haunts and fall back in love with the place with my best boy at my side.

The 405... We love it!

The 405... We love it!

I’m so excited that I’ve even started to think of a little itinerary of all the wonderful things we can do while we’re there. So maybe not TOO much time for relaxing, but LOTS of time for fun!

News update:
Saturday night Stephen, Iain, Silena and I were graciously invited to a wonderful dinner at Fran LaVilla’s house in the country (DeMossville, Kentucky to be exact!). While Fran is one of my dearest friends, we don’t see each other nearly enough and I’d never had the pleasure to venture out to her little corner of the world. I am so glad I did. Her family is charming and wonderful and her mom is an outstanding cook! We sat around and shared stories and laughs, mostly and I personally tried to take in as much beauty as I could. Their view is phenomenal and the house is adorable and incredibly well designed. Oh, that kitchen, that kitchen, that KITCHEN! I think I’d definitely like to have a living arrangement in the country someday. And in such a unique and beautiful house. But in talking to Stephen about it “living in the country” transforms into “moving to the south of France or Northern Italy or Greece.” Which I don’t mind, he encourages my fantastical side.

What else, what else…

Oh, last night I made Stephen and I an absolutely fantastic dinner. And I am only bragging because it took four freakin hours! And because my mouth is watering over the thought of having leftovers for dinner!
It was a fresh kalamata olive/lemon/anchovy tapenade and homemade bread, a greek salad with homemade dressing, Turkish Rice (cinnamon, butter, onions, long grain rice tossed with pine nuts and raisins), and a Moroccan Lemon and Olive Chicken. Oh man, oh man, oh man! It was pretty delicious.

Annnd, big surprise, I’ve started yet another working out resolution. Seeing as we will be in California in less than two months AND I will have to wear a swimsuit at some point during that trip, I am going to work out at least four days a week, every week, until we leave. But don’t count on me consuming hardly ANY diet friendly foods while in California. In N Out, anyon

I can sense it in how cold my feet and nose are becoming on an almost regular basis. And how sleepy I get so early. And how my appetite has grown to hibernation preparedness mode. Yessir, it’s nearly winter. I crave chocolate with an intensity that makes me feel weak at the sight of any and all Hershey products and I am itching to get up into Cincinnati to see Fountain Square and go ice skating in the shadow of Macy’s, US Bank, PNC and 5/3 (Tomorrow, hopefully!).  I want to decorate my apartment from head to toe in green and red and I can’t wait to have our first real snow.

One thing I’ve learned early on in my great Cincinnati Adventure was that when they say it’s going to snow, it ain’t and when they say it ain’t gonna snow, grab your boots.  The past week has been a sterling example of just that.  While we’ve had the occasional flurry here and there, we haven’t had the Snow yet, and I don’t think we will for a little while, but this morning was kind of beautiful in that way that you know the snow is just about ready to make it’s debut in Cincinnati.

In Covington, as many of you may have heard me bitch and moan about before, we have street cleaning days and since I’ve had a few run ins with The Law, I’ve been much more careful about moving my car. So, this morning at 7 am, I got out of bed, threw on the warmest pajamas I could find and my big coat and trekked out into the wild to find a parking spot. It wasn’t easy to find, and I could have been way more frustrated by the experience, considering the temperature was in the 20s and cars were relentlessly zipping down Greenup Street, but it was okay, and I was okay as I took comfort in the flurries and flakes that fell from the sky and parked themselves on my coat and slippers. It was serene and quiet and a sign from the world that everything is getting ready to settle in for a long winter’s nap.

That took no time at all and I can’t even remember really getting a chance to soak in Autumn.

Autumn is my favorite time of year, second only to that first warmer day in Spring, and tonight, as Northern Kentucky faces the possibility of snow flurries, I can’t believe I missed Autumn. There’s this road that I love to take when I drive home from work. It’s a little bit longer, but virtually empty and takes me down a beautiful tree lined path that gets the best evening sun.  The trees are displaying the most embracing and warm tones of golden yellows and crimson reds, but they’re growing more bare as the days go on. I need to remind myself to get out my camera before I miss it.

It’s brought up a lot of memories of Autumn in L.A.. It only lasts a few days, and if you blink, you’re sure to miss Mureau Road’s beautiful transformation from Summer to Autumn to Winter.

Aside from colors that you cannot replicate anywhere else, I love that Autumn brings these scents that associate easily with cozy blankets, warm apple cider and fires in the fireplace. Not to mention Halloween.

I have fond memories of October as a child. Mom’s crock pot brewing yummy drinks and tearing out the Halloween Decorations to make our house the most festive on the block.

I think, in a sense October and the Autumn weather still gives me a lot of those feelings as a frazzled adult with not enough hours in the day nor enough dollars in my bank account. I slow it down. Let my senses unravel around the beauty that is apparent this time of year.   Noticing the smells of spices, the tastes that don’t taste the same in Spring,   remembering what crisp weather felt like on my face, seeing the brilliance of nature take hold of everything she touches, and hearing the stillness of it all that starts to creep in just in time for hibernation.

That all over warmth that no matter where you are, it feels like home.

Okay, so this is simply pathetic. 
Great Warrior Princess, Fran LaVilla

 
Great Warrior Princess, Fran LaVilla

I would first and foremost like to extend an olive branch to my good friend and comrade, Fran LaVilla who has been doing a fRantastic job of representing the young and fabulous females of Northern Kentucky on her blog, Being Fran(k). Warrior woman, she is.

But this business of blogging thing has gotten tragically away from me. I have hope that I can still turn it around into something slightly more consistent and interesting than it has been, but promises cannot be made via such a presently feeble medium of communication.

Haunted House

But for an update, because one might be apparently necessary: The World has been kind to me recently and it has not gone unnoticed.  I have recently moved into a fantastic Covington apartment with Stephen. It’s the first floor of a giant renovated historic mansion home on tree-lined Greenup Street and is more space than either of us know what to do with. Everyday when we come home from work we both comment on how much we love our present locale and all the fun things we hope to do with our new space. There’s a porch perfect for conversation and consumption and the weather has been absolutely beautiful for such treats.

I know I’ve mentioned it before, either here or on other blogging endeavors, but I am in the process of making much more of an effort to be trendy like everyone else and Go Green. I’m kidding. Well, kidding about the trendy thing, but I truly feel that there is something to be said for doing this Green Thing and doing it Right. I am in the process of reading Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It’s phenomenal. I adore it and you MUST read it (go to your local Library!). It will end your dietary existence as your know it.  The realization for me comes on strong as in the past few years I have become very aware of my dietary trends and leaning towards what I thought was healthier. But healthier mainly translated to “fewer calories.” So I am drawn like a moth to a flame in the supermarket to anything marketed as “low fat” or “100 calorie pack” or “Sugar Free.” It’s worked out well for how I wanted to work, but at what cost? In reading so many of these labels I couldn’t even begin to describe what some of those ingredients may or may not be. Why would I want to eat that? Why would I want to subject my digestive system to something that it has no idea how to digest? I am convinced that these chemicals and substances that are in almost everything we eat, put there to preserve shelf life to turn a better profit, are what is leading to so many of the health crises we experience in this country. Not to mention, how much of our food (produce especially) is shipped from all over the world. This book pushes pretty hardcore the idea of Locavore and I love it. The idea of sitting down at your dinner plate and being able to say “I know where my food came from.”  Surely when we shop at Kroger and bring our veggies and meats home for dinner and sit down to eat, we aren’t aware that the majority of our produce is from California or Florida and our meat is from animals that are eating what they’re not meant to be eating on some big factory farm far, far away.  Aside from all the processing and chemical additives that are put into this food to make it last longer and reach our table before spoil, the massive amounts of gasoline and oil that is put into getting the food to us is staggering. And with the rising cost of fuel and energy, this is reflected in the price tag. At the beginning of A,V,M,(which is also written by Kingsolver’s daughter Camille and husband Stephen), it is pointed out that if every family in America at one meal a week that was grown locally, we would save around 1.1 million barrels of oil a week.

So why can’t we shop local? Why can’t we attend Farmer’s Markets or find a local bakery or better yet, bake our own bread? There is no reason. None. The arguments that I have heard against shopping at a Farmer’s Market make no sense to me at all.  In my experience, it’s cheaper, it’s easier, it tastes infinitely better and you get to meet your neighbors and engage in conversations with the people who have known the tomato you put on your plate from seedling to a big, beautiful, bustling red beauty. You appreciate the specialized art of farming as opposed to the speed of cross country produce travel.

I’m not really counting my calories these days and I feel better. Sure, I still have to venture to Kroger just like the rest of us, but it has been a while since I have bought stickered produce stacked in fluorescent light and armed with automatic misters that keep it looking brighter, greener and more attractive. I’ve been reading labels more and if I can’t derive the origin of the ingredients into something I am familiar with, back on the shelf it goes and onward to something natural and possibly organic. It might cost more, but don’t you think that some things, like the avoidance of childhood obesity, diabetes and heart disease are worth the pricetag it takes. And it doesn’t have to be expensive. As I said before, utilize your local resources and play in the kitchen. You never know what might surprise you most.

Okay, so that ended up carrying on way longer than expected, but I think it’s necessary. I apologize for the rant tone, but it’s my blog and I will bitch if I want to. I apologize for cursing.

In addition to the food project, I am making a serious effort to utilize public transportation. Again, this is another excellent resource that I find little excuse acceptable for ignoring its presence. If it goes near or around your place of employment and/or residence, “I don’t want to wake up that early” isn’t good enough.  This morning Stephen and I had to catch the bus at around the same time to get to work and it truly was a fantastic morning. We woke up, got dressed and I made our lunches while he cooked us breakfast. We sat and ate, had a cup of coffee and then walked the near mile to the Covington Transit Center to catch our respective charters to work. It was nice. I loved this morning. Walking in the cool morning and admiring our new neighborhood and taking mental notes of local haunts that we should soon explore. He calms me yet leaves me terribly excited and energetic all the time. It’s an addicting combination and a phenomenal way to start the weekend.

Tonight we are having our beautiful friend Taylor over for eggplant parmesan and perhaps a game of Scrabble or even a movie. I’m not quite sure.

This is an adventure, Kids. Go with the flow, but hold on tight. And don’t forget to write.

Those of you who have spoken to me recently are aware of the wee levels of stress that are arising from my current move out of Florence.

While my destination isn’t back to Calabasas, recent developments lead me to think twice.

(Swipe over to read the secret text spoiler!)

But the school’s Sept. 3 opening, on the leased campus of a former school in Calabasas, will be accompanied by a whiff of controversy. Some of its teachers are members of the Church of Scientology, and it will use teaching methods developed by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

Any Calabasas kids know where it’s going to be? My guess is either off Mureau or Mullholland… SUSPENSE!!