Monday, November 15, 2010

Last week while enjoying a bowl of spaghetti with gravy and a nice bottle of Bordeaux background music was in order, and who else but Frank? Hoping to hear "My Way," and "Strangers in the Night," my dinner was abruptly interrupted by - Christmas music. Now, don't get me wrong, I love Christmas music. And Christmas time. And Christmas trees. And Christmas shopping. It's the most wonderful time of the year. As I listened to "although it's been said many times, many ways..." in Mr. Sinatra's enchanting voice, I began getting excited and that excitement led to an empty bottle of wine. The truth is, I'm not really ready for Christmas yet.

It's amazing what music can do to you. Music evokes so much emotion. Memories. Feelings. Nostalgia. Happiness. Music has gotten me through some tough times. It's also made the good times better. Sometimes music choice depends on my mood, and other times my mood depends on the music. I could go on and on, but instead, I am going to list some of my all time favorite albums - those that were significant in my life (in no particular order).

Nirvana - Unplugged

Jack Johnson - Brushfire Fairytales

Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill

Radiohead - Ok Computer

Days of the New - Red

Frank Sinatra - The Very Good Years

Oasis - (What's the Story) Morning Glory?

Radiohead - In Rainbows

Madonna - Ray of Light

Metallica - The Black Album

Ben Harper - Both Sides of the Gun

Michael Jackson - Dangerous

These days I am enthralled by the following - but not yet ready to add them to the forever list.

Muse - The Resistance

Mumford & Sons - Sigh No More

I love British Bands. These days my favorite bands are all British - Radiohead, Muse, Mumford & Sons, Coldplay, James, The Beatles. I guess these bands should be the best since the British invented music. They also invented Christmas.

I'm now waiting until after Thanksgiving for Christmas tunes, but I have to admit, I may start decorating this week - which reminds me that I need to buy some decorations, and a tree, and some ornaments...and did I mention I'm hosting Christmas this year? And I've got to plan a Thanksgiving menu, and buy food...and then I better start my shopping...Frank was right last week, it's time for mistletoe and holly.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

I'm a bad blogger. Well, maybe not bad, maybe just really inconsistent. How often is one supposed to blog? Are there guidelines or rules? How does one become a great blogger? Does a blogger need to focus on a certain topic? Where did the word blog come from anyway? Actually, if you really want to know the origin of the term "blog", here is the answer.

I haven't yet decided why people blog, and I suppose since I blog I can't offend anyone with my theories. Do you want to hear them? That was a rhetorical question, of course, because this is my blog. I think people blog because they think they are interesting. I think people blog because they think they have good ideas. Some blog to be funny. Some blog for a cause. They blog because they want to express themselves. Some blog to brag. Others blog to tell people things they are afraid to verbally express. I think bloggers have tendencies towards vanity.

I'm still new to blogging, still trying to figure out the purpose of blogging - if there is a purpose - and still trying to figure out if I like to blog.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Some people make New Year's resolutions. The media jumps on it. Advertising for gyms, lean cuisines, and nicotine patches rise promoting a "better you" if you stick to your goals. It's a genius marketing tool for these companies. I wonder how many gym memberships are paid for and not used after March, and then renewed again with the same ever-failing goal in mind? But still, so many people enter the month of January with a "THIS is the year" attitude. It seems kind of cliché to me.

I turned 30 last week. Admittedly, in the weeks leading up to this birthday I was a bit nostalgic about my twenties. I'm not exactly sure why - yes, the twenties seemed fun while they were happening, but let's be honest, it's a stressful decade. I finished college while trying to enhance my career by working full-time as a retail manager. I went on countless awful dates with immature males. I spent two years in a relationship that was destined to fail. I spent my free time in smoky bars drinking Bud Light. Now, don't get me wrong, a lot of great things happened in my twenties too. I established a career with a smart company who has helped me become quite business savvy. I purchased my first home. I began to appreciate gourmet food and wine. I moved to Nashville after a promotion. I obtained a college degree. My closet is filled with a beautiful collection of designer bags and shoes. I learned to cook. I became a proud puppy mommy. I traveled to six European countries and the U.K. Most importantly, I learned to really value my relationships with my friends and family. I suppose as the end of anything approaches reflection on the past encourages evolution.

Liz, Jennifer, and me at the Vineyards.

I spent the weekend of the 30th anniversary of my birth enjoying cocktails in upscale bars and sipping wines at the local vineyard with a variety of great friends. I'm not exaggerating when I say great friends. I'm very lucky. The picture on the upper right is the picnic Liz brought to the vineyards for everyone, complete with fresh flowers. I think at least ten people complimented us on our pretty table. The food was delicious. Jennifer drove in from Memphis just for the day to celebrate with us. Nicole cut her trip short so she wouldn't miss the gathering. Natalie, Meredith, Danielle, and Page all enjoyed the weekend's festivities too. It was a lovely entrance to a new decade of life.

A blurry memory of my 20th birthday surfaced - the worst birthday on record (and I'm leaving it at that). In fact my entire 20th year on earth was terrible. Awful. Worst year of my life. My 30th birthday was perfect, perhaps the birthday with the most fond memories of my adult life. I think this year is going to perfect too - a perfect beginning to what I think will be the BEST year of my life. I'm making a 30th year resolution, several of them actually. I will be passionately involved in supporting at least one charitable organization by volunteering and donating. I will cook something new at least once per week. I will update this blog regularly (and not let writer's block get in my way). I won't be negative. Ever. I will read more. I will stop being cynical. I will start a wine club with my friends. I will embrace and cherish every day of my thirties and all of it's grown-up adventures. I will begin these achieving these goals and resolutions by living with my new best-year-ever belief.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Four years ago Uncle Ed died. "Not Ed," I heard Mom choke. "Anyone but Ed." I head those phrases often in the few weeks before he passed away. I heard them often because Uncle Ed was truly a wonderful man, a devoted father, husband, brother, and oncologist.

I remember vividly Christmas at his rather large home. Every year was a huge party complete with all five Miller siblings, dozens of cousins, beautiful decorations, and Santa Claus. Yes, every year Santa came to entertain the kids. Festive is an understatement for these gatherings - I still feel warm inside when I think about them. There were a lot of memories in that home, the third floor playroom complete with real arcade games, the family golden retriever, Abby, and the secret toy room my brother and I could never actually find.

As we got older the celebrations got smaller and the memories got bigger. I learned about late night White Castle runs, even on Christmas Eve. I observed the length of time it takes two brothers to make risotto. I sipped the best wines I've probably ever had before I could even appreciate them. I watched my Dad's face light up every time Uncle Ed smiled. I endured blasting Beatles and Frank Sinatra late at night. I learned that there was never actually a secret toy room in the old house. I saw a dedicated doctor wake up early on Christmas morning to visit his patients at the hospital.

In August of 2006 I called my Dad. I began talking about something unimportant and as I heard the tone of his voice I stopped. "Is everything okay?" He told me the news. Uncle Ed had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. "It doesn't look good," he told me.

Pancreatic cancer is the 4th leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Only 6% of pancreatic cancer patients survive more than five years. This is the LOWEST survival rate for all cancers. This year 43,140 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and 36,800 will pass away from the disease. There are no early detection methods, and currently there is NO CURE.

Uncle Ed passed away in early September 2006 after complications from an unsuccessful surgery, just weeks after we found out he was sick.

Pancreatic cancer is often called the "silent killer" as when the first symptoms appear it is often too late. Even an oncologist like my uncle didn't beat this cancer because he had no symptoms until he became jaundiced on his retirement cruise. Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate of all cancers. Although pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death, only 2% of the National Cancer Institute's $5 billion annual budget is spent on researching the disease.

Please visit for further information, or to join the fight against this horrific disease. Together, we can advance research and create hope.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

I started this blog because I miss writing. In college I majored in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. Mainly I wrote poems. I loved expressing my thoughts through metaphor or telling stories in stanzas, sometimes stirring debate in class over what the poem really meant. I don't rhyme. Only Shakespeare could get away with that. I like spontaneous line breaks, alliteration, changing nouns into verbs and verbs into nouns and nouns into adjectives. It is fun to play with the English language. I'm not scared of its' complexity. I embrace the challenge. Admittedly, however, spell check was invented for me. All writers have flaws. Currently mine is the dreaded writer's block. I supposed I haven't been feeling in a particularly creative mood lately. It's probably because I'm out of practice. Writing is therapy, especially creative writing. It lends the ability to sort out thoughts in a clever manner and often provides a solution to the current life situation or problem. I think most poets have tendencies towards melancholy. Only those who truly feel can write. Take Sylvia Plath, for example. She could easily write "Daddy" due to a true Electra complex. Plath married British poet, Ted Hughes, and controversy swirled as their lives and poetry intertwined. Most critics, including those responsible for the movie, Slyvia, side with Plath and believe that Hughes triggered her to place her head in an oven and turn up the gas. In 1998, Hughes published a collection of love poems called The Birthday Letters, all written about his late wife. It was at this point in my research of these fascinating individuals, that I chose to go against the critics and defend Hughes, who even as the Poet Laureate , was so obviously still working through his emotions with a pen and paper. Hughes died in 1998, the same year of the publication that quite possibly cleared his name.

F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, "You don't write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say." I often wonder if this is what causes writer's block? True writers, and especially poets, only desire to express candid thoughts and emotions. The great writers compose with such harmony it can literally change your life - Ernest Hemingway, Naomi Shihab Nye, James Dickey, Holden Caulfield, William Shakespeare, Emily Dickenson, Hughes and Plath, and even contempory writers like Pat Conroy, whose Beach Music is still my favorite book. Inspiration often instantly ignites in the middle of paragraph, or sometimes a sentence, of a novel or poem forbidding me to continue reading because I've finally forgotten what I WANTED to say - I've actually started to feel, and thus have something to say - and I have to write immeditely. I'm glad me and writing are becoming close friends again. I even want to hug my writer's block.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Last week Anna Beth and I went to the Frist to see the The Golden Age of Couture. The exhibit displayed couture of French and English designers from 1947-1957. This era brought a bit of extravagance - unlike the flappers of the roaring 20's who insisted on short skirts, these women showed their wealth by the amount of material they could afford, thus making longer skirts and dresses most desirable and fashionable. As we mazed through the runway of once upon a time fashion, we discovered our ever-loving passion for anything Dior - or maybe it was the nostalgia, or perhaps a more appropriate phrase, the glamour of the past. As we continued we discovered strong feelings for Balenciaga, Channel, Givenchy, and in Christian Dior's terms, all of the "golden age" designers. Yes, it was the golden age of fashion, garments adorned with jewels, petticoats made of silk, tiers of ruffles and bubble skirts, tailored suits and stilettos, and....cinched waists? Dior believed that the waist of a woman should be no wider than one hand length. I think that's about six inches if you have a large hand. Wait, I thought curvy was "in" back then - I mean wasn't Marilyn Monroe a size 12? Nevertheless, I think Anna Beth and I were unconsciously "sucking in" by the time we left the fashion show, convinced that we should dress more "classic." Wouldn't that be a riot - the two of us showing up in real 1950's couture - we'd be stunning - perchance trendsetters of our own generation, our love of pure fashion truly shining from vintage hat to pointy toe.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I had bubble tea for the first time on Monday. Mine was blueberry flavored. At the bottom of the cup are "bubbles," made from tapioca. You can't help but smile when you drink it, especially when a bubble passes through the giant straw into your mouth. I love to try new food and drinks, especially ethnic ones. It is interesting to see how food and culture go together. Bubble Tea originated in the 80's in Taiwan. A lot originated in the 80's - MTV, Nintendo, the Apple Macintosh, Prozac. It's amazing how much has evolved in the last 30 years. There is an "app" and a pill for everything now. I tried to avoid technology - I'm still avoiding it somewhat actually. I didn't have an email address until 2005. I still believe in sending cards through the mail and I hand write all of my cards, even the 50+ cards I send during the holidays. I purchased my first computer in 2009 - yes, last year (and it's a net book). I don't have cable. I admit I quickly embraced some aspects of technology - social networking, cellular telephones, the ipod, and Google. The ipod allowed me to eliminate bulky stereo equipment, novels of CDs and the towers that just take up space. Plus I can hook it up to my car. Facebook provides an easy way to keep in touch with everyone I know. This is priceless since I now live away from most of my friends and family. Who could live without Google? With the ability to use it on the Blackberry, it is like Encyclopedia Britannica in the palm of your hand. The Blackberry might be my favorite invention ever - well maybe I should say my favorite technological advancement. My favorite inventions have to do with fashion and makeup, also influenced by culture. I think my favorite semester in college was when I took Critical Theory, World History, Art Appreciation, and Literature. The historical timelines for each course moved in the same direction, allowing me to discover each cultural movement critically, historically, artistically, and poetically. Postmodernism and Modernism proved to be my favorites. Postmodernism was a break from 19th century realism. Modernism gave us Hemingway. The Sun also Rises is still one of my favorite books. I'm going to start reading more again. First on the list - eat pray love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I can't wait. I think I'll begin chapter one while drinking a Blueberry Bubble tea.