The great slipper rebellion. January 15, 2018

by Lorin Michel Monday, January 15, 2018 7:09 PM

We’ve been having odd weather. It’s been unseasonably warm here, as has most of the west. We’ve had very little winter and a pathetic amount of rainfall. It doesn’t get excruciatingly hot during the day, not like it does in the summertime, and the temps do drop at night. They just don’t drop that much. Last year, when we’d wake up to walk the dog, it was often around 28º. Most mornings this winter have been at least 50º. It makes it difficult to know what to wear.

In the summer, it’s easy. It’s going to be hot – that’s a given. Shorts and tee shirts are the wardrobe of choice. At night, nicer shorts and a v-neck shirt. Plus flip flops. But now, it can feel cool enough for sweatpants, but then it gets too warm and we need to change. Ditto the accompanying sweatshirt that often becomes a tee-shirt. Even at night, once the sun has tucked away and the temps have dropped a bit, we never know quite what to put on in order to remain comfortable. Kevin mostly opts for shorts. If it’s cool enough, he’ll put on a long-sleeve tee. But I’m usually not so sure. And I actually like winter clothes. I like to wear jeans and a sweater. I like to feel like we’re having a season.

Lately, after we shower at the end of the day, we’ve both been opting for shorts and long-sleeves. It’s cool ish. So then we’ll also put on slippers. We both have several pair. Kevin has some low-riders that he slips into and out of fairly easily. He also has a pair with fleece inside that come up over his ankles. I playfully refer to these as either his elf shoes or his Peter Pan shoes. I bought them, so I feel I can have fun. I have three pairs. One is also a low-rider slip-on that I just got for Christmas. I also have an Ugg-kind of slipper that comes up over my ankles and is heavily lined and thus very warm. The other ones also come up high, though they’re not quite as heavy inside. The above the ankle part is made of sweater material, and the bottom shoe part has paw prints. 

Here’s the thing, though. Sometimes those are too hot, too. Or sometimes, especially in my case, I choose the wrong slipper. I get warm; I kick them off. Kevin does the same.

Which leads us to this morning and the scene beneath the breakfast nook table.

Evidently last night – and we both have scant memory of this – as we sat at the table slurping our slow-cooker French onion soup and chomping on our Caesar salads, we both got a bit too warm, and the slippers slipped off. Evidently, also, I had done the same thing earlier in the day when I was sitting at the nook table, watching football while also attempting to do a bit of work.

This morning, there they were. Three pairs, haphazardly dropped, hiding under the stools and table. It looks like a convention, maybe a coffee klatch. A massacre of sorts. Definitely a rebellion. It was as if they were saying “we’re done. We won’t be used as pawns in your ridiculous daily wardrobe dilemma. If you want us, if you can respect us, you’ll find us here. If not, may your feet stay cold.” 


The great slipper rebellion. Dateline January 15, 2018. It was a thing. You can look it up.

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live out loud

Face time

by Lorin Michel Saturday, December 16, 2017 7:05 PM

Every morning, we are greeted by the face. The being who belongs to the face seems to instinctively rise from his bed, coincidentally also in our room, as soon as he hears us stir. Evidently awake people make different noises and breathing sounds than sleeping people. That’s the only explanation we have been able to come up with. As we lie there, regardless of whether we’re on our sides, on our stomachs or our backs, we will hear the telling jangle of the tags, followed by the eerie sound of a hauntingly close yawn, a yawn that seemingly comes from the depths of a now-awake and ready to face the world soul.

But first comes face time. 

It starts with the gentle thud of a snout on Kevin’s side of the bed. Dad? You awake, dad? I know you’re awake, dad, because I heard the awake noises. Kevin dutifully rolls onto his side, toward the edge of his side of the bed, facing the window. There he finds a wet black nose, upturned, the snout extended, the ears back. The being who belongs to the face is too short to reach straight across onto the mattress. As Kevin’s hand snakes out from under the covers in order to rub the face, the tail begins to wag. After a few minutes, Kevin says “go see mom.” 

Then the face visits me, doing the same thing, only sometimes on my side, he also pushes his nose under the covers as if to hide. Mom? You under here? 

This is the ritual and it’s one we have come to cherish. It is our best version of face time, and if Apple or Google could make an app for this, I suspect it would be a huge success. Alas, the FaceTime on my Apple devices is somewhat different, not quite as visceral and sensorial. We use that app fairly regularly, especially when we speak to Justin and to Kevin’s brother Jeff and his wife, Chris. I have to admit that it’s nice to be able to see people as you speak to them. This technology, once the stuff of Star Trek, is most people’s reality, and it’s a good one. 

My sister and I still just talk on the phone though that’s largely because she’s often in the car when she calls me. Hard to FaceTime while driving. My mother would probably never FaceTime though it would be nice if I could get her to do it. It’s just nice to be able to see your loved ones. It makes you feel like you actually get to spend time with them, which is lovely when those loved ones are far away. The downside to FaceTime is that a) you have to be on video which isn’t always flattering especially if you haven’t yet showered; and b) it’s difficult to do anything else while FaceTime-ing. I understand that giving people undivided attention is a good thing. I also understand that being on the phone sometimes gives me time to fold the laundry, or start a new load; to chop veggies for dinner; to dust. I rarely just sit when I’m on the phone, not when there are other things I could be doing at the same time, other things that don’t require concentration.

Our morning face time routine is ideal for several reasons. The being who belongs to the face could care less about bed hair or morning breath or dark circles. The being is just happy to be alive and even happier that we’re awake. Simplicity at its best. There’s something to be said for that – something to celebrate.

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live out loud

I do

by Lorin Michel Sunday, December 10, 2017 8:40 PM

No one really knows when marriage first began though like many things ancient, it likely started with the Egyptians. In fact, The Elephantine Papyri, a collection of documents from the 5th century BC found on the island of Elephantine on the River Nile, found three marriage certificates. In one, the groom was named Ananiah ben Azariah and the bride was called, simply, Tamut. In 2300 BC, the Sumerian culture also recorded marriage certificates.

In the beginning of wedded bliss, people joined together for a number of reasons, most of which had little to do with love. Marriages were often arranged, joining two families together rather than two people, usually for practical reasons. One family wanted something another had and vice versa. Marriages were of convenience and for continuing lineage. In some parts of the world, this still happens, though thankfully not as often in this particular part.

The first record of a marriage license being issued in this country occurred in 1639 in Massachusetts. There doesn’t seem to be a record of who actually got married or why, or why, in that particular year, a license was required. Perhaps it was just something the couple wanted, or maybe it was so that there would be a record of the merger when it came time to sell crops or barter for food.

In the Western world, marriage has evolved to include couples of the same sex. Contrary to popular rhetoric, these marriages have not led to a plethora of people marrying children or their pets though I know some pets who would make better companions than some chosen husbands or wives. Most people seem to understand that things change, societies evolve, people become more tolerant and worldly. Most people understand this. Some don’t.

In the United States, most people get married for love. I have said “I do” twice, though it turns out that the first time I actually didn’t. The second time, I definitely did and do. I was too young to get married the first time. I have come to believe that people shouldn’t get married until they’re in their 30s for several reasons the main one being that I don’t think we know who we truly are or what we really want until we’ve experienced more of life than college. We need to work and travel and form opinions that are based on our own beliefs rather than those of our parents. We need to become our own people. This happens, in my opinion, starting in our late 20s and into our early 30s. We bring more to a marriage when we have become more of ourselves.

This weekend, we traveled to Des Moines, Iowa. I’d never been. Curiously Kevin, who grew up in Illinois and whose brother and sister-in-law live in the state, hadn’t been there either unless you count driving through. It’s not a place we had ever thought about going. When we do go to that part of the country, it’s to visit Chicago, something we haven’t done in years and something we always do at this time of the year. We love Chicago in December. It’s bitter cold but walking the streets and especially Michigan Avenue is spectacular under a near-Christmas sky. We had to change planes in Chicago, at O’Hare, and I felt a curious tug to stay, check in at The Fairmont overlooking Lake Shore Drive, and spend the weekend. Alas, we boarded another flight, a small commuter jet that took us to Des Moines International. Once there, Justin, who had driven in from Atlanta to meet us, picked us up and deposited us at the downtown Marriott in time to shower, change, and head off to a rehearsal dinner. We had come to town for a wedding.

Kevin’s brother Jeff has three kids, all of whom are in their 30s. The oldest, Eric, is 36; the youngest, Ryan, is 31. And in the middle is Laura, who is 32. Eric and Ryan are both married, with children. Eric and his wife, Becky, have two kids; Ryan and his wife, Marissa, have a little boy. It was Laura’s turn to get married.

In downtown Des Moines, a surprisingly wonderful city, reminiscent of a small and cleaner Chicago, the streets are lined with trees wrapped in white lights. Black, metal boxes, flared at the tops and supported by black metal stands, are strategically placed along the sidewalks. Each sports a small pine tree adorned with red ribbons. Wreaths hang above building entrances. In the lobbies, Christmas trees tower and twinkle through the day and night. Christmas music plays everywhere.

The temperatures were chilly. On Saturday, it was 25 degrees. An enclosed skywalk connects much of downtown, shielding pedestrians from the harshest temperatures. We used it for a while yesterday morning as we explored a bit, finally finding the Temple for the Performing Arts where the wedding and reception was to be held. This is the cultural hub of the city, where shows are produced, music is heard, and events like weddings are held. It was a Masonic Temple in its previous incarnation. In xxxx it took on its current persona. It’s a remarkable facility, old, with copper-plate ceilings, and stone columns. In the recital hall, where the wedding was held, the windows are stained glass.

Last night, at 5 o’clock, the ceremony began. The groomsmen ushered in bridesmaids, the ring bearers - Hartley (2) and Oliver (1) - made it mostly down the aisle as Eric and Ryan, both groomsmen, coerced and coaxed their boys forward. Rainey, 6, was the flower girl. Then came Laura, on her dad’s arm, walking toward her groom, Nathan. Glowing and gorgeous, and crying, the release of the tension leading up to this moment. The pastor talked of their choice, of the idea of hiring each other, that their courtship had been a long job interview and that they have both landed in a new career. They would be co-CROs. Chief Reminder Officers, whose job would be to remind each other constantly of their commitment and their love.

I had not heard that before. I smiled at its truth. And as I listened to Laura and Nathan exchange vows, I thought of how interesting weddings are, how much better marriage is, can, and should be, and how “I do” is, can, and should be what life and a partnership is ultimately what matters.

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Lost Soles

The mask of Don Justino

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, October 31, 2017 5:03 PM

One of our favorite fun movies is The Mask of Zorro with Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta Jones, and Sir (!) Anthony Hopkins. It’s one of those films we never grow tired of, and stop to watch anytime we come across it. It’s beautifully photographed, the story is great, the action fun, and the acting decent. It’s a little tongue in cheek, and everyone is just gorgeous, especially Antonio Banderas. Part of it was filmed in San Carlos, Mexico, a place I had the pleasure of visiting with my friend Susan earlier this summer. It was a perfect stand in for California. 

The film was released in the summer of 1998 when Justin was 7. It was rated PG-13 but we took him anyway. We had seen the trailer several times, figured it would be fun, and we weren’t disappointed. There’s a bit of violence, no language and no sex. It didn’t seem to us any more harmful than the Pokemon animation and other Japanese anime he was consumed with at the time. He loved the movie, as did we. No sooner did we get home than he found himself something he could make a mask from and armed with his Star Wars light saber, he proceeded to play the role of Zorro.

In the film, which takes place mostly in 1841, noblemen fight for the republic of Las Californias (California wouldn’t become a state until 1850), railing against the Spanish in the Mexican War of Independence. They are “dons,” established and respected men, men of social standing. The moniker of Don appears before their first names. Don Raphael is the bad guy; Don Diego is the older good guy and Don Alejandro is the younger good guy. Both good guys, naturally, also inhabit the Mask of Zorro.

For months, we were entertained by our own Zorro. And as Halloween got closer, and it came time to choose a costume, there was nothing to discuss. Zorro would once again come to the rescue of … Oak Park. Hey, it was California.

We found a costume, and with his pajamas underneath, and sporting his black cowboy books, Justin transformed before our eyes into Don Justino.

Every year, on Halloween we remember that costume. He wore it for weeks prior and weeks after. Sometimes he’d just wear the top part and shorts. But always the mask and the hat; always with plastic sword in hand as he singlehandedly saved the house from … whoever and usually Maguire. 

To this day, nearly 20 years later, he remains Don Justino. I doubt that the costume fits anymore, but the cuteness and goodness – the desire to save the world – definitely remains.

Sometimes you have to dance

by Lorin Michel Sunday, October 1, 2017 8:09 PM

We listen to a lot of music, almost all of it via internet radio. When we built the house, we made sure to have it wired so that we could have speakers and thus sound throughout. We have two in the ceiling of the master bath, two in the ceiling between the kitchen and the breakfast nook, two in the garage, two out on the deck, and two in the ceiling in the great room which join three addition speakers, one on either side of the TV and one underneath (for surround sound). Oh, and a subwoofer.

We have a variety of favorite types of music, ranging from classical guitar to classic rock and everything in between. Depending on the time of day and what we’re doing, we choose accordingly. Working in the shop in the garage and cleaning the house requires some great 70s rock, or John Mayer – sometimes The Rolling Stones. Evenings usually require some sort of jazz while Sunday mornings are about something quiet and soothing.

Kevin went out to work in the garage this afternoon. He’s building wine racks for the wine room, so he’s been busy cutting and sanding and planing and jointing. There is sawdust everywhere. But he absolutely loves it – if he could do anything in the world, he would happily spend his life in the shop, building stuff. 

“What kind of music do you want me to put on?” I asked him. 

“Something new,” he said, to which I asked what does that mean? 

“Surprise me,” he said with a smile. 

I pulled up iHeartradio and looked at what they thought might be something I’d be interested in. And there was Rod Stewart. We love Rod Stewart. So I touched the button and Maggie May came on. Good so far. 

For several hours, Rod and friends played throughout the house. Around 5 I took a break from my computer and wandered out into the garage to see what progress he’d been making. As he was showing me his mortise and tenon joints, and we were discussing the best way to attach all 18 staves to both sides of the posts simultaneously, the Bee Gees came on. Staying Alive. And we both stopped talking and started dancing. Not very well, mind you, but dancing. 

It made us both laugh, and we stopped and tried to talk more about the racks. But we couldn’t. The music and the beat was too overwhelming. Pretty soon we were moving and grooving again. Swaying and boogying. Looking completely ridiculous and having an absolute blast late on a Sunday afternoon in the garage, surrounded by sawdust, with our musical choice drifting down over us.

See, here’s the thing: sometimes, you just gotta dance. It makes everything else in the world better and more fun, especially if it’s dancing to Staying Alive.


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live out loud

In which Lorin has a cold and begins speaking Latin

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, September 26, 2017 9:31 PM

I used to get a cold every Thanksgiving. I don’t remember when that stopped happening but I think it was when I started having less meetings. The less time you spend with other people, the easier it is to not be around germs. I’m no germaphobe, believe me. But I hate being sick. I honestly can’t remember the last time I had the flu (that sound you here, even through the internet, is me knocking on wood) and I think it was before I had Kevin. Since Kevin, I’ve had bronchitis once and a wicked case of strep throat, both of which cleared right up with antibiotics. Also a sinus infection. 

When I would get colds, or not necessarily feel completely 100%, my way of dealing was to ignore it. I would still go for a run. I would psych myself out of being sick and sometimes it actually worked. 

Colds are upper respiratory tract infections caused by viruses. These viruses are transmitted through microscopic droplets in the air when someone who’s already sick coughs or sneezes, laughs or talks. Evidently, a cold virus can also spread by shaking hands or sharing things like toys, phones, spoons; a glass of wine. For some reason, and according to the Mayo Clinic, people are more susceptible to colds in the fall and winter, though they don’t say why. They also say you can catch a cold any time, like if you’re at school or on an airplane; in other words a target-rich environment. I was on a plane (actually four of them) two weeks ago. I was with a bunch of people in a closed room. I’m also in school. 

But I don’t think that’s why I’m sick. I think I’m sick because I’m tired, which is not to be confused with sick and tired, which I also am, but in this case that particular fact is immaterial. I tend to welcome cold viruses with open arms, ears, mouth and nose when I’m rundown, haven’t been sleeping well, and just have too much going on.

To wit:
There’s work. There’s the house to take care of (though I have a phenomenal husband who more than does his part). I have friends that I love spending time with. There is school, which officially started yesterday. Did I mention work? Oh, and I somehow tweaked my back so I’m walking like an old person, and because it’s impossible to get comfortable when one’s back is tweaked, I haven’t been sleeping well, as in almost not at all. 

Today, I woke up with a stuffy nose to go along with my tweaked back, and just the hint of a scratchy throat. I am not happy. First, I don’t do the sick thing well, largely because I don’t get sick all that often (see the first paragraph of this post). Second, the whole idea of a cold is dumb. 

Allow me to get existential here for a minute. A cold is not caused by cold weather, which we currently don’t have. It doesn’t necessarily cause one to feel cold, or to have chills. Ergo, a cold is a misnomer. It would make more sense to call it scratch and sniff, or SAS. Scratchy throat – check. Sniffy stuffy nose – check.

The name “cold” follows the theory of post hoc ergo propter hoc. For fans of The West Wing, you’ll probably remember this scene:

After this, therefore because of this. I have a cold because I have a cold. Blah.

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live out loud

Experimenting with fall

by Lorin Michel Sunday, September 24, 2017 8:33 PM

Sometime in the past two weeks, and probably one night when I took Riley out after sundown, I noticed the air felt different. Not exactly cool but something underneath it that felt like cool, like something hiding under the blanket ready to spring out when least expected. Except that it is, of course, expected. It’s nearly the end of September. The cool is coming and with it, fall.

We’ve had an odd summer. It’s always hot; it’s the desert. But June was especially brutal, with our weather station up here on the hill showing temps reaching as high as 120º several times. When it’s that hot during the day, even when it cools off at night, it’s still in the mid 90s. No relief and lots of AC. 

July ended up being the wettest on record. We had storms nearly every day, totally nearly six inches of rain. It kept the temps cooler, though still in the 90s, but the humidity was high and the bugs were prolific. August was just hot and miserable. But then September eased in and temperatures started to abate. The last few days have only been in the 80s, and the nights have been comfortable if not yet cool. 

That changed last night. Last night, it actually was cool. I tested the concept by wearing my new UNH sweatpants, still with a t-shirt and flip flops but long pants have been almost non-existent for me for months, the only exception being when I was in Sacramento for business. I didn’t think it would be professional to wear shorts to my meetings. We sat out on the deck well into the evening, after the sun had set. We made the decision to turn off the AC and open all the windows. The cool air poured in; there was almost a chill in the air. 

This is early for us to have the AC off and the windows open. Usually it’s around the first week in October when it finally becomes comfortable enough to experience the fresh air of the desert rather than the staler air of the air conditioning units. We’ve only been here four years but each year, we look forward to this time. When we built the house, Mike couldn’t believe we actually wanted windows that opened. Evidently people in the desert are averse to fresh air. We were insistent; he was belligerent. But ultimately we won because we were paying the bills. We got windows that open in the master bedroom and the guest room, along with sliding French doors, two sets, in the great room. Both have screens. 

This morning it was 55º. The cool air was drifting in through the open windows. It was more than comfortable though not at all cold. We heard the paper get delivered. Just before 7, a road runner on the roof started tapping at the skylight in the bathroom. It sounded like someone was pounding on the window. Any thoughts of sleep now being gone, we decided to get up and start the day. I pulled on a pair of shorts and a long sleeve t-shirt. Kevin looked at me. 

“Long sleeves? Really?”

I grinned. “I’ve decided to experiment a bit with fall,” I said.

Here’s hoping the experiment lasts.

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live out loud

I can not

by Lorin Michel Thursday, September 7, 2017 10:09 PM

Children are very quick to use the word “can’t.” It’s easy. To say you can’t is to not have to try. It compensates for trying and failing so why try at all? Life is scary and “I can’t” keeps the fear away. I think children say “can’t” in much the same way they say “no.”

When I was little my mother used to say that can’t never did anything. It’s true, of course. At the time, I hated that phrase, but I understand it now. I used it a time or three on Justin when he was little. When my mom used to say it, I thought it was one of those motherly pearls that only she used. I’ve since found out that it’s a relatively common phrase, employed by parents the world over.

Whatever its origin, the philosophy it expounds is a good one, and something I long ago took to heart. To coin another over-used phrase, I developed a “can do” attitude. I moved west and made a life for myself when I knew virtually no one and had no job. We wanted to build a house and rather than thinking we can’t do that, we decided that we actually could. I started my own business, I’m going back to school, I divorced a man who made me unhappy and married one who makes me very happy, all because I can. 

But there are times when I just can not …

I can not get over the horrific fires burning in so much of the west, and that they are getting almost zero coverage from the national media. I can not understand why so many people refuse to believe that there is climate change when the climate and the weather is so clearly changing and not for the better. 

I can not believe where we are, what we’ve become, who is in charge, why we are here.

I can’t stand the constant whiplash, the fear, the need to constantly check the news to see where we are, what we’re doing, who we’re threatening, if we’ve carried through on any. One day one thing is said, the next a new thing is said superseding yesterday’s thing. One day there is an accusation, the next it is rescinded or doubled down on, or forgotten altogether. I can’t believe that so many don’t seem to care. 

Someone with no beliefs can’t truly be trusted. That’s not to say that everyone knows exactly how they feel about every given topic. I’m on the fence about Indian food, for instance. Ditto watching and rooting for football. Also skittles. But I know how I feel about climate change and abortion rights and animal safety and water preservation and solar power. I know how I feel about mornings (bad) and Saturday nights (excellent). I have no doubt in my mind that I would give my life for my family, friends, and dog. 

But someone with no beliefs is someone with no center, no moral code, someone who doesn’t care enough to have an opinion. That scares me, and I can’t understand it. I can’t embrace it. I can’t respect it. I can not. 

I’m talking about big things here. Things that matter, things that are life and death for hundreds of millions of people if not billions around the world. I’m talking about being cavalier with nuclear annihilation, and the fate of children and young adults. I’m talking about not really caring if the poorest among society have access to health care. I’m talking about telling everyone to have a good time after they’ve lost their homes, their everything, including, for some, their lives. That scares me, and I don’t respect it. I can not. 

I know that can’t never did anything. I believe in a can-do attitude. I try to live on the positive side of life. But sometimes, some days, I feel overwhelmed, and I can not. 

So instead I look forward to starting school. I mark the calendar days leading to our next trip wine tasting. I watch the storms roll up from the south and sit at my desk, surveying the view from my office, a rolling sea of green desert punctuated with flat roof homes in the valley below. I listen to good music. I think about maybe trying Indian food again. I look at my dog, sleeping in front of the fan, the manufactured wind blowing his fur, and I smile.

Because I can.

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live out loud

The Saturday of a Labor Day weekend

by Lorin Michel Saturday, September 2, 2017 8:25 PM

On Tuesday, March 24, 2015, we finally moved into the house on the hill. Building had commenced on December 1, 2013 and Architect Mike thought maybe we’d be in by Christmas of 2014. We never really thought that was possible, but we hoped. December 2014 moved into January 2015. Mike said maybe the end of the month. January became February and Mike said the end of February. Then it was March, and we told him we had to move in. We had people coming to stay with us on March 24; we were throwing a party on Saturday, March 28. The truck rumbled up the hill early afternoon and the guys proceeded to unload it with me standing in the middle of the house directly traffic.

Roy and Bobbi got to the house around 11 pm. I had managed to get the bed set up and made in the guest room; put towels and a bar of soap in the guest bath. Ditto our own room. The kitchen was relatively put together because I’d been moving a lot of that in for days, taking Rover loads to the new house and arranging what I could. The rest of the house was a sea of boxes.

Over the next few days, I unpacked what I could but mostly stacked the boxes so that they at least looked neater. We put the couches, the floor lamps, the coffee table in place in the great room. We arranged the dining room table and chairs, and the hutch. We put together the new bar stools, and when the patio furniture arrived, we put that together. Because we were going to have a house full of people.

Kevin’s office stayed mostly a mess but mine had to be more put together because we had more people coming to stay on Thursday. I pushed the desk up against the wall, and we put together the spare bed we keep in the storage area. It’s a full size. I found more towels and another bar of soap. 

All of my boxes of books got stacked in the closet and there they stayed for the next two and a half years. The office itself has been highly functional though lacking some personality. The two bookshelves I had against the wall stayed there but mostly empty other than the errant stuff I stacked. The shelves stayed shrink wrapped in the hall closet. 

Several months ago, I started thinking that I might like to re-arrange my office. I had the desk at an angle but I didn’t like it. The empty book shelves were on the west wall, but I didn’t like those either. There was a lot of mess and no feng shui. I’m not necessarily a practitioner of feng shui, but I do know when a room feels right, and mine was just feeling off. But work is busy and I’ve had school, and my weekends come and go and nothing happened in my office. The top of the desk became a sea of papers that I needed to go through but didn’t. Dust gathered. 

For years, the day after Thanksgiving was my designated day to clean my office. I actually looked forward to it every year. But for the past four or five years, we’ve been going to Paso Robles for Thanksgiving, which means on that Friday, I’m happily ensconced in a winery or four, tasting wine and enjoying life while my office languishes.

This is another long weekend, and earlier this week I decided that I was going to use some of the time to clean my office and re-arrange the furniture. I started late yesterday afternoon, going through the mountains of papers on my desk and throwing out most of them. Then I decided to move the desk to in front of the window, the shelves to the east wall, and put my black chair and ottoman on the west wall. The corner shelf that had previously held a number of products from clients that I’m no longer working with got completely cleaned off. I put photos, and my 1920s typewriter, on that. I hung my cowboy hat from the corner. 

Then I ran out of time. But this afternoon, I ventured back in and started pulling boxes of books out of the closet. I opened each and decided which I wanted on the book shelves in the office, which I wanted on the shelves in the closet, and which I really didn’t need at all and could go to Goodwill or the library. I worked for hours, emptying countless boxes, and ended up with four boxes to donate. I pulled the shelves from the hall closet, dusted them off and put them in place. I arranged books. I dusted. And when it was all done, I stood back to admire my work. And it was good. 

On this Labor Day weekend, I labored to finally clean and re-arrange my office. It’s something to celebrate.

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live out loud

I can’t today. I have to go shopping for my Bitmoji.

by Lorin Michel Sunday, August 20, 2017 8:40 PM

Evidently, bitmoji was all the craze a number of years ago. I was a little late jumping onto the wagon, but ever since I was introduced, I have been a fan. I love using these rather ridiculous and not-very-close-likeness mojis of, well, me to communicate. I can tell someone happy birthday, happy weekend or wine time. There are any number of emotions to send, some joyous, some angry, some just fun. I can be a Game of Thrones character or my own version of the Terminator, Scully from the X-Files, or batman, superman or a (wo)man in black.

For the uninitiated, a bitmoji is basically your own personal emoji. Rather than use one of the regular emojis that comes with your phone, you can download the app and create an “expressive cartoon avatar.” Because what I always wanted to be was an avatar. You can choose your sex, hair color, your facial shape, skin tone, whether you wear glasses or makeup. Bobbi first introduced it to me and I’ve been hooked virtually ever since. My friend Shana, here in Tucson, also has a bitmoji. We’ve had many conversations with just bitmojis and their accompanying phrases.

Along with creating a bitmoji that fits you, you also get to choose how you’d like your avatar to be dressed. In the winter, you can wear long pants and a sweater, or a snow suit; in the summer, shorts. You can change into a bathing suit, should you desire, or something more formal. 

Today I fired off a bitmoji to Justin after he’d said that he was tired after a long day of furniture assembly. He’s in Atlanta now, actually Smyrna, in his new apartment, a ground-floor apartment in a house in the ‘burbs. He loves it and has been decorating for days now, shopping at IKEA and Target and Walmart, getting pieces of furniture that have to be put together, usually with an allen wrench or hex key. 

I was looking at my Too Tired avatar, which doesn’t look nearly as tired as I actually do, and it occurred to me that I wasn’t a fan of the outfit, so quite innocently, I announced that I had to find something new for my bitmoji to wear. This sent my husband into fits of laughter. 

“You’re going shopping … for your bitmoji?” he asked playfully. I started to laugh, too. 

“I’m sorry,” he continued. “I can’t play with you today. I have to go out and see what I can find for my not-real, one dimensional, virtual self to wear.” 

“You’re mocking me,” I said. He nodded, grinning.

But I went shopping anyway, which consists of opening the app and looking at the different outfits that are available. I went from a tank top, skirt and flip flops to a more safari look, and sandals with heels. 

It’ll do for at least a couple of weeks. By then, the temps might adjust, and I’ll have to dig into the fall wardrobe. Jeans and boots. Hey, my avatar is a fashion plate, even if I’m … not.

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