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January 2015

The Non-Designer Handbag Experiment

I have had a long-standing addiction to designer handbags. I don't care about the name. I care about the quality. I want that leather to feel like buttah. I want the hardware to be of high quality and I want to carry it in the crook of my arm with pride. They make me happy. I may dress like a hobo in a white T-shirt, jeans and Keds for most of the year, but I always have a good purse.

I wanted to break that habit. Just to know that I could -- that I didn't need a $500 handbag to feel good about myself. Incidentally, I remember that in college, my rent was $200 and I carried a $200 handbag. Yet, I wore this ugly yellow/black bee dress to work until the entire lining was ripped out of it. It's not right.

Anyway, I'm older now. I can afford a decent handbag, but this year I got one for my birthday from my friend. Now, it's not cheap. It's Fossil. It's kind of a polished cotton. It's nautical, which I always love. And it was a gift, which makes it special. So what better way to start the non-expensive handbag scenario?


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My birthday is at the beginning of September, and that's when I started carrying it. So here's what I discovered about carrying a more affordable handbag.

Pros:
1. The polished cotton was easy to clean. I spilled iced mocha on it the first day and it wiped right up.

2. It's huge, and fit everything. If I didn't bring a bag into the grocery store, I didn't have to buy one, I just shoved foodstuff into the purse.

3. I wasn't worried about where I set it.

4. It was just functional. I didn't worry about showcasing it with the right outfit. I just functioned.

5. I realized my son and I could go to Disneyland for the price of a good handbag. (Maybe I can get one of those Dooney & Bourke Disney bags??)


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Cons:

1. I started dressing worse and caring less if I matched. (A low level depression??)

2. It was always a mess because I shoved so much into it. As a result, I felt less organized.

3. I had handbag envy. Everywhere I went, someone had a better handbag than me. This hurt me because I coveted. Usually, I'm thrilled to see a good handbag, even those better than mine because I'm happy for the people. Like, "Wow, girl, you own that Prada. Someday..."

4. I wasn't happy to see my handbag. It didn't give me a little shot of joy.

In the end, I discovered I do not need a good handbag, but it also didn't make me a better person to be without one. So, I think the experiment is a draw.


The Rosie Effect

I'm so excited. Fired up my Kindle this morning and there's a new Rosie book. I LOVED "The Rosie Project" -- I just thought it was the cutest story, so I'm really glad that Rosie is back. Apparently, Sony has bought the movie rights so we may be seeing her on the big screen soon. That is, if there isn't another hack.


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I'm working in my office today, so maybe it will be slow and I can read! I say that being in there by myself is like living the life of a veal calf. Time to go into my dark box. Are you feeling sorry for me? Yes, please send your sympathy in the form of a Prada gift certificate. : ) And by the way, the office is actually very nice and roomy, I'm just a drama queen.


Do you have a WORD for 2015?

Rather than doing a New Years' Resolution, which I will never keep, I try to work from ONE WORD for the New Year. Last year, my word was "Courage" and I accomplished a lot under that word. I self-published a book readers have been nagging me for. I took on a non-fiction project that required getting out of my comfort zone. And I changed the things in my life that weren't sitting well with me.

In a word? I overcame my fears and the word COURAGE was my mantra. So I don't have a word for this year. Not yet. I think it will be something like tenacity or consistency. We shall see. But I think the one-word route works for my ADD self. Got a word?


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Amadeus -- Chasing Greatness

I just watched "Amadeus" again, and I have to say, I love that movie. Every time I watch it, there is something new to love. I think it's because I can identify with both the hero and the antagonist. And it makes me wonder how much of the story is true.

Salieri is a prideful jerk, and one of the most popular composers of the day. He recognizes the genius in Mozart and he knows he is not capable of competing. In contrast, he also lives a clean life of celibacy and longing to worship God with his music. He has all the accolades in the public eye, but he wants greatness. And why would God give him the desire if He would not grant him the ability?


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As much as I don't want to identify with Salieri, I get him. He has the ability to see great music and to worship Mozart for the genius he is, while also being disgusted by Mozart's filthy behavior. Of course, from the outside, it is easy to see that Mozart is still. He is listening. Salieri is wanting something not his to have. His path is different. It is not greatness in that way. Still, it would be hard to know.

I identify with that because I honestly have no desire to be Nora Roberts, best-selling author. Not that there is anything wrong with Nora Roberts, mind you. She's a great writer. But I read Austen, Hardy, Nabokov and I pause on how perfect their prose is. How utterly mesmerizing. What if I were standing right beside them and a contemporary of their works, writing my little books while they are producing masterpieces? You have to admit, that would be difficult.

Ultimately, Salieri decides to renounce God and "pay him back" for Mozart's genius. Word to the wise: In a battle of wits with God, you lose. Just save your breath and your efforts.

Salieri cannot see that he really doesn't want to honor God with his music. He really wants to receive his glory here on earth. In contrast, the "sinner" of Mozart was truly about the music. I think it's such a perfect movie about judging and creativity and our individual paths here on earth.

I once knew someone who wanted desperately to be a mother. She thought I was the worst mother alive, and I felt her disdain. Towards me. Towards my kids. I had nothing to do with her struggle, but she had anger and had to do something with it, I suppose. Still, I think the questions raised in Amadeus are really great ones. Why does God give us the desire and not the ability? A question for the ages.


The Bachelor with Chris Soules...

2015's Bachelor (beginning on January 5th) is Chris Soules. From Iowa. I'm torn on this one because I think Chris is awesome -- but Iowa. I'm just so not a country girl, it's hard for me to imagine. Of course, that cheesy ad for "FarmersOnly.com" keeps running through my head.

I do love how that Pioneer Woman changed over into a country girl. She's amazing, but she likes to be in the kitchen. I really don't. It's a necessary evil.


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I also think Chris is great husband material, and they usually make the most boring bachelors. So maybe they'll have more crazy "single white female" types this season. The good thing is that my snarky son is home from college to watch the first two weeks with me. This brings me joy.

Has "The Bachelor" jumped the shark for you? Or did it ever swim for you? Personally, it's the perfect way to relax for me. Just cheesy and wrong on so many levels.


#Unbroken

First, an admission. I don't usually see movies that are violent and show cruelty. I don't understand those people and don't care to. So it was a big deal that I really wanted to see "Unbroken" -- but I loved Louis Zamperini's story and I wanted to see it on the big screen. I took along a son in case it got too hard to take, so he could translate the violent scenes.

Actually, it was the vomiting scene I couldn't take. Other than that? The movie was really well done. If you don't leave amazed that anyone could survive all that, you've watched and believed too many Superhero movies. This man WAS a superhero.


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It was really a lot of story to work into a two-hour movie. And the way the story is told is a little choppy, but seriously? Even attempting to bring it to the screen was such a bold movie, I have to give Angelina her due. I was never bored and the ending was so satisfying (albeit too short for my liking.)

When they talked about Saipan in the movie, I got so excited because my neighbor Howard was a navigator in that campaign. I also remember my Nana telling me they shouldn't have dropped the H bomb, that the war was almost over. After seeing the movie, I see why they dropped it. I'm not saying they should have, only that I understand why they did.

I think this movie should be mandated for every high school kid out there who thinks they know it all. Surviving any ONE of Zamperini's feats was a miracle, but this man was a MAN! I would love for all this video game wielding guys to know what true survival is and what these men sacrificed for us.

As to the controversy "Is it religious enough?" (Billy Graham's son said no -- Zamperini's son said he thought it was a true representation of his Dad's faith and legacy.) I'm going to go with Zamperini on this one. Remember, his story inspired Angelina (a non-believer) to make a movie about how this man's faith shaped his life. What do people want, a sermon? The man's life was his sermon. He lived like we should all live. He didn't just talk about it.

I think it's a must-see.


Merry Christmas!

I hope you all have a very happy Christmas full of love and joy! I'm home with the "conflict-free" kids. So I'm living on easy street. We went to iHop this morning. Is there anything better than starting the day out to breakfast? I just think not.

As we head up to family, I'm very excited for this Christmas and watching my kids faces when I actually surprise them with small, but poignant gifts especially for them.


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I just love the road trips with the kids. As they get older, you don't get that quality time. With the car rides, they're sort of stuck. So I'm looking forward to family, fun and quality time. I hope your holidays hold the same!


Communication is Key...

Last night, I was going to make a chicken. I only have two boys home right now, and so I thought, I'll make a chicken. In case you are lacking in imagination, this was my thought:


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Then, my oldest said he was going out to dinner. My third said he would be working, so I was free. I called a friend and we went out to dinner at some trendy place where we waited 90 minutes for a table. When I got home, son 3 was home, along with son 2's best friend. But son 2 was on a date. I found this out because his best friend was at our house. (If you want to keep secrets, it helps to not leave your best friend with your interrogating mother!)

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We discussed which movie they were seeing, and Hunger Games was the decided on film. Then, we got into a conversation about how you have to go on a date night movie, and sometimes, the first date night isn't always guy-friendly -- but in all likelihood, "The Hobbit" is not a good first date film. Long story short, I ended up Netflixing "Flashdance" to show them the movie I made a date sit through. Don't feel sorry for them, I only made them watch the iconic dance scene. But after hearing they didn't even know how the ripped sweatshirt came into being, I knew they were missing a crucial part of pop culture history and I had to remedy that.


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When son #2 gets home, he's been to see "Gone Girl." Okay. Worst. Date. Movie. Ever. But it gets worse!
"Why would you take her to see that? Did she like the book?"
"No, we went because I told her my mom loved it."
"Great. Now she thinks your mother is a psychopath."
"No, but she does think you have crap taste in movies. And how could you leave out that Neil Patrick Harris dies!"
"You should read more. If you read the book, you'd know who died."
"There's a lot of nudity in that movie, Mom. Way to make it awkward for me."
Oh crap. I totally forgot about the nudity. I hope it's a while before I meet this girl.

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"Okay, I just watched 'Silence of the Lambs' too. Do not take a date to that, all right?"

What's the most awkward movie you ever went to on a date?


Tess of the D'Urbervilles

Thomas Hardy is my favorite writer, so I'm always game for a new -- or an old -- version of a Thomas Hardy novel. I watched "Tess" from 1979 with Nastassja Kinski. It was not my favorite version. When she's hoping for a happy future with Angel Clare, I said aloud, "Yeah, well, you're in a Thomas Hardy novel, so that isn't likely to happen."


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I thought that this version made Alec less diabolical than he is, and therefore, Tess' murder of him, questionable. In the book, I want that man to die and die ugly. I know, right? Bad Kristin.

Since creeper Roman Polanski directed this film, it doesn't surprise me that he went easy on Alec D'Urberville. I prefer the BBC version, but at the same time, I'm saddened a movie like this probably wouldn't be made today UNLESS it was for Masterpiece.


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After all, there are no Orcs, or swords or battles of fairy creatures. Just good, old-fashioned storytelling. And on a happy note, at least Keira Knightley wasn't around to star in it back then.