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You might be a rebel if ... you've considered hanging your clothes out to dry. Here's the link to my post featuring this controversial activity :)
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Saboteur Quiz

I was in a TOPS (Taking Off Pounds Sensibly) group last year that really helped me work toward some of my health goals. One of my favorite things about the group was when I got to do the lesson of the week. For my first one, we addressed the issue of "saboteurs." Anyone who has ever publicly announced their intentions to loose weight or get in shape has dealt with at least one person who seems to be subtly sabotaging your efforts. It could be well-meaning, misguided friends, or it could be people with jealousy issues who can't stand the thought of you being successful. Either way, it's an issue to deal with regardless of what personal goal you're trying to accomplish. I'm working on turning this lesson into an article. It'll include this quiz. I'm curious to get your thoughts on it. Actually, what I need to know is if it comes across the way I intend it to. As always, if you'd rather not comment on the blog, email me your thoughts. I'll post the "answers" and the consensus later. Promise.

1) Your husband brings home an extra large, pepperoni and sausage pizza. Assuming you're not a vegetarian, what do you say to him?

a) Thanks for picking up dinner, but I’ve already prepared a tofu stir fry with organic vegetables.

b) Enjoy one slice of pizza and load the rest of your plate with salad or other vegetables stocked in your crisper. Ask him to get a ½ veggie pizza with less cheese next time.

c) Why? Why do you hate me? There you go again trying to ruin my diet! You could stand to loose a little weight too you know.

2) Your best friend, who you secretly think should consider putting on a few pounds, invites you out to your favorite restaurant for lunch to celebrate your weight loss success.

a) You suggest going to the newest juice bar in town and drink juice for lunch.

b) You tell her you’d love to but you’re trying to stay out of temptation’s path and offer to meet her to shop for a new outfit instead.

c) You tell her she’s too skinny and selfish and doesn’t understand anything. And that you thought she was a better friend than that.

3) Your co-worker makes comments about your new diet that make you feel bad.

a) You barely notice because you are the most serene and are impervious to having your feelings hurt. Your morning mediations make you feel so grounded you’re just certain everybody loves you and you love everyone.

b) You talk to another, neutral, friend about it and discuss a strategy for letting your co-worker know she is hurting your feelings.

c) You read the want-ads at lunch, muttering to yourself that the universe is unfair and everybody is against you.

4) A well-meaning parent brings cupcakes in to the office for her child’s birthday. They are chocolate fudge, your very favorite.

a) You pass on the cupcake, there will be others. Instead you munch on the essential fatty acid balls you have stashed in your drawer for just such occasions.

b) You take it graciously and eat half of it, it is your favorite after all. You throw the rest away, burying it under something gross because you know you’re not above pulling something back out of the garbage in a moment of weakness.

c) You tell the parent you are damn sick and tired of people pawning their calorie-laden treats on you.

Shades of Green

I've been working on this column pitch for a website Chinook Book is launching next month. I was intrigued by the idea and really exited to apply but hesitated at this part of the application: "the most knowledgeable, most thoughtful and most irreverent citizens to produce original columns on living the green lifestyle in Portland." But hey, I'm thoughtful and irreverent, and while I'm certainly no expert on living green, it's a desire of mine to be more so and that created the inspiration for my column idea which is essentially "Green on Green: Confessions of a wannabe" because I agree with you guys in the comments and emails I got that you can "lean green and mean well" (Rose) but still not feel worthy of the green merit badge. Your replies were a huge help to me because they confirmed my suspicion that I'm not alone in feeling that because there is more that I could or should to, I'm not green enough. I love the shades of green idea! In every single response I got, written and verbal, not one person said "yes." Everyone ticked off ways they try to be and ways they could do more. Everyone. It was really interesting. If the column doesn't get accepted I'll share the ones I pitched, otherwise, I'm crossing my fingers that I'll get to link to my new column!

Is it easy being green?

Would you consider yourself a 'green' person?

Everyone I've asked pauses for a long time before answering. I'm really curious to get your replies on this: are you a green person? If you say yes, but hesitated, why? What do you think "being green" means?

I'm working on some column pitches on this subject and will share parts of them shortly but am needing your feedback to see if my suspicions are accurate. As always, if you're not into posting online, please email me your replies. Thanks for your help!

Should cheaters tell?

Liar_whore "Bad news. There's only one left. I could run into town and pick up another..." I start to suggest, trailing off as Matt rolls his eyes.

"It's not heroin, honey." We're talking about Six Feet Under, an HBO show we recently started watching on DVD (and are already nearly through with Season Two because Matt is right, I do jones for the next episode before the one I'm watching ends). I've always heard good things about the show but with my whole fear of death issue, I didn't think I could hack it. I love it! It's one of the best written shows I've ever enjoyed. Last night's episode, titled "The Liar and The Whore" reminded me of a part I'm wrestling with in my book.

Should cheaters tell? I don't think there is a right answer, actually. And that surprises me because I am usually all about full disclosure. I've seen several of my friends go through the damage wrought by affairs, some of it self-inflicted but painful nevertheless. In the book, Nicholas has an affair and chooses not to tell his wife. I think it's appropriate for him to have to suffer the guilt himself. But, then later in the book, when Vanessa reveals a secret of her own, is he obligated to narc himself out? What are the consequences for having waited so long? Has everything between point A for Affair and B for Busted been a lie?

Survey Says?

I need your help with a little experiment. I am working on an essay that depends on your honest replies. I am writing under an assumption I'm pretty sure is true but want to double check it with your thoughts. Please respond to these questions if you feel at all compelled. If you would prefer not to comment online, please email me your replies.

(I'll post my theory even if I end up being wrong after I get a good collection of responses).

1) How often is your house ready for company? (percentage)

2) How do you feel about your answer to #1?

3) How often to you think other people's homes are ready for company? (percentage)

4) How do you personally define "company ready"?

5) What are some of the first things you say when people come over?  Is it different if they just drop by? What are you thinking when you are saying, "oh, hi! Come on in?"

5) Any comments on this theme?

No Wrong Answers

I'm working on some character development and I'm curious what comes to mind when you hear these names ... For each name, I'd love to know what kind of a person you picture in terms of appearance, personality, quirks and habits ...

  • Silas
  • Vanessa
  • Ethan

Remember though that everyone looks a little stupid and self-conscious in "Hello My Name is ..." tags. And there are no wrong answers ... if you're not into posting online, I'd love for you to email me your first impressions and thoughts when you hear these names.

A Twist on Dickens

Someday I'll have a site with Frequently Asked Questions. But for now, recently there's been just these: "What's up with Ani and what happened to Izzy?"

My writing. Right. That's what I'm supposed to be working on. Damn, this work nonsense is cramping my style. Yet, it's so nice pay for things like my mortgage and running water.

So Kickin' it with Ralph and Ani are on hold for now but I keep adding scraps of papers with notes on them to my binder. I consolidated the category for Ani into the Writing category in an effort to make the site a little less cluttered. The most recent scrap was added Friday and is on the back of a mortgage bill. It says: Ralph has a brother named Rufus.

Materials for Making a Stand and Izzy are still strewn throughout my office from the writing contest in November. I'd started writing it thinking it was a young adult novel only to find myself in the middle of a few uhhhmmm... not so PG-13 scenes. I am seeking out examples of writing for adults where the main character is as young as Izzy. Well, there's Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird of course ... so this could still work. I could start getting back to work on it right away with a little help from y'all. (that word is one of the reasons I wish I was from the South).

Here's my idea: Kind of a twist on Charles Dickens' concept of the Serial Novel. It's said that all of his major novels were published serially in weekly, or monthly, installments. Many installments ended like sitcoms do these days, leaving readers engaged and wanting more. A certain retired English teacher I know says Dickens sometimes used feedback from readers to influence how he wrote his next installment. Of course, I'm no Dickens, but ... I'm thinking I could post installments of the draft of Izzy's story and work it through with feedback from you guys.

Your thoughts? 

Overhead at Vanderbilt Beach

Overheard: at Vanderbilt Beach Naples, Florida

I'm sunbathing as a man behind me starts talking into his cellphone. His conversation before and after this call consists of a few words strung between variations of the word "fuck." He's short with silvery hair, way too tan and wearing green swim trunks and a grey tank top, the kind where it looks like he cut the sleeves off an old shirt. He is chain smoking.

"Hi, Jackie. Happy birthday, baby. Are you just getting out of school? Oh. Oh, Christmas vacation. Yeah, I totally forgot about that. So where are you? Oh, all the way up there? You in the car or what? Who's driving? Oh, okay. Who else is wit you? oh. So you drove all the way out there and didn't get to see him play. Oh, that's too bad. Well, i guess stop at that hamburger stand on the way home. You remember; the one I always used to take you to. Where we had the chili cheese fries? Yeah. So what, are you having a party tonight or what? They're on a cruise? Again?! They just went on a cruise. I'm sorry I'm not there for your 18th birthday honey. Oh, I'm here sitting on the beach. It's about 82 degrees. How about there? Yeah, I know. Weird weather. What is it 50s or 60's? How were your marks this ... uh... marking period? You haven't yet? Oh. Well how do you think you did? Well, good or bad? Mostly good? That's good, as long as you're doing your best. Well, I'm sorry I can't be there for your 18th. No, it's okay, but it's not. But, I'll see you ... well I'll be there February third. I'll see you immediately. Next time I call I'll get dates for your basketball games. I'm dying to see you play. Okay. I love you honey. And hey, remember, if you need something, you just call me okay? Bye, baby."

After shamelessly eavesdropping on this conversation I have all sorts of ideas about the back story here. What are some of your impressions?

What would you want to know?

I decided to find my biological mother. Longer post on this later but right now I'm filling out the paperwork and trying to answer this question: Information about the person requesting the search (use back of form if needed to tell me a little about yourself).  So is this for just the person searching or will my bio. mom read it too? I don't know what to say. How do you sum yourself up in a few paragraphs? What would she want to know about me? Once I told a friend of mine who is also adopted some of the questions I'd like to ask my bio mom and she said, with a shocked expression, "Nathalie! You can't ask her that!" So clearly I'm not on track with what normal people would ask ... so my answers are kind of, well, they're me. I realized I felt like she might base her decision on whether or not to meet me on these few paragraphs, but like Jo pointed out, she's not going to say no because of my copious comma splices. But still.

I'm 30 years old. I'm a writer, married, pretty health, generally happy, self conscious, a graduate from Western Washington University's Journalism program, I've moved around between Washington and Oregon before settling into a small town an hour out of Portland. I dream about my books getting on Oprah. I'm a daughter, a wife, friend, sister, secretary at a grade school - just until Oprah calls. I grew up in a home with two parents, a brother and a poodle. My parents are from Slovakia and I learned to speak Slovak before English. Also, I can't whistle. And I'm a little nervous and excited about this process. This is the third time I've been this close to searching and the first time I've filled out the paperwork and written the check.

So that's what I have so far. Let's say you put a baby up for adoption. What would you want to know?