Friday, February 27, 2009

Eat Pray Love

Exterior shot of the Eisemann Center

[Editor's note: before I start this post, I have to give a shout out and a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to one of my best friends, the matron of honor at my wedding and my college roommate, Cathy. Best wishes!]

Earlier this week, I went to hear Elizabeth Gilbert speak at the Eisemann Center. Her talk was part of the Dallas Museum of Art's series, Arts and Letters Live.

Ms. Gilbert has written four books, but her most well known book is Eat, Pray, Love. I read that book last fall and found her to be a very good writer. I enjoyed her prose probably more than I enjoyed the actual content of the book, not that I didn't like the content. I'm just emphasizing that I liked the writing. She can paint the scene for you in words, and she is very open and honest about her feelings in any given situation. It was a good book and I would highly recommend it. Even if you don't agree with her point of view, hearing her point of view is still interesting.

I decided to snap a few shots in and around the Eisemann Center to include in this post. Most of them really stink, as I was hastily shooting with one hand, trying to be inconspicuous in a lobby full of book-loving women. Seriously, you would have thought we were there for an Oprah taping. I digress. I'll share the photos with you, of course, because that's what I do and you must endure it if you keep coming back to this blog. The photos are interspersed today - with commentary all their own just underneath. The paragraphs are not in sync with the photos today. (No comments that say, "Or any other day, either, sister." Thank you.)

A water feature outside the center.
If you look closely, you can see photographers with tripods - must have been a photography class...

I was trying to get a cool angle shot of the building - somehow it just feels uneasy.

Ms. Gilbert had a lot of great things to say. First, she was funny. Second, if you've read the book, she DOES end up with the Brazilian. Third, she now lives in New Jersey with her husband and runs an import business.

She told some very funny stories about being in the store - one day when she introduced her husband, Jose - pronounced JO-ZEY because he's Brazilian and they pronounce the "J"- the woman asked her how it was spelled and she told her - J-O-S-E. The woman, when Jose walked away, whispered to her, "Honey, you are mispronouncing your husband's name - it's HOE-ZEY." Like, she had been mispronouncing it the whole time and her husband didn't have the heart to tell her.

A fuzzy shot of the will call window, where my tickets were being held for me.

Books for sale...drool.

Another funny story came out of the fact that sometimes people seek out their store because of her book and want to meet her. One day, this woman came in the store and sort of quietly said to Jose, "You know, the woman who owns this store is a VERY FAMOUS AUTHOR." Jose said, "Oh yeah? Who is it?" And the woman said, "Barbara Kingsolver." You won't get this unless you're into books. It's funny, nonetheless, to us book nerds.

She talked about her next book that she just finished - it's on marriage. She wrote it once and hated it and decided to start over after a six month break from it. This time, she feels it's really good.

Her other three books - which I now own because I am a SUCKER at these sorts of events - are Pilgrims, which is a collection of short stories, Stern Men about Maine lobster fishermen, and The Last American Male, about this man in North Carolina who tries to live off the earth, etc. While the third book listed there was a National Book Award finalist, none of her books sold really well until Eat, Pray, Love, which is a humongous hit.

The aforementioned "abouts" are just what I've heard, since I have yet to read any of them. They are now at the bottom of a very big pile of books I've purchased, mean to read, haven't read. Some women covet shoes. Or handbags. Jewelry even. Not me - God help me, I covet books. My house will fall in one day from the weight of them.

A little info kiosk near the front door.
This one is blurry, but more interesting, in my opinion...

...than this clearer one.

Some cool art on the wall of the lobby.

A sign in the lobby before the event announced she'd sign afterwards.

Other insights from the lecture - she does not have a regular meditation practice, which is first amazing to believe after you read this book, and second leaves hope for the rest of us. She gave advice to a girl heading out for a world tour to always dress modestly in southeast Asia so you don't embarrass the women there.

Another tidbit - she sold the rights to the book to someone making a movie of it. But, sadly, the lead role will be played by Julia Roberts. Too bad. It's said to begin shooting this summer.

These are the books I bought...
...they kept coming out blurry and I knew it so I kept snapping... I can see the purse camera was more interested in the floor.

She also talked about her decision to not have children. She talked a lot first about how she cannot tell you what you should do in your life about anything, and about how in modern times we all have so many choices that we suffer from having to make so many choices and worry so much about making the right one. She also talked about somehow everyone needs to find peace with their decisions and stop worrying about what other people are doing, or what might have been. And, how thinking, "if I had only...or if I could only..." will never lead to contentment - when you get the new job or new house or whatever you "could only", you'll realize that isn't it. So, you have to live boldly and believe in your decisions.

My friend Monique, who went with me.
I made her take this photo - she didn't want to.
I told her the blog needed it. Notice the uncomfortable body language.
What a good friend I am.

Inside the auditorium before it started and photos wouldn't be allowed.

Anyway, she said she had to think a lot about the child question while writing her new book on marriage because they are so intertwined. And, she decided that having children was not for her because she could see the yearning and euphoric longing her friends would feel about children and she would feel that for a good used book store. She also said when studying cultures, she has found throughout time and different civilizations every civilization has had at least 10% of women who do not have children, and sometimes up to 26%, as in the 1920's in the US. And, she has decided that since it's everywhere in all sorts of civilizations, that she believes these women are needed in that capacity - that it is a necessity in society for some women to not have children and fulfill THAT role in said society.

She asked us to think of our own families and the important roles the spinster aunts or women without children had played in that family - stepping up to fill in when called upon or helping in very real ways to raise each and every child in that family through being a role model, a friend, etc. She said she was very proud and happy to be a member of the "Auntie Brigade" and that she thinks of herself as a "Spare-ent" to lots of children, and this is her role. And, she excels at it and loves it and yearns for nothing more.

Afterwards, getting ready for the signing - that's her - the blonde in black.

A little closer.
I also totally interrupted what my good friend Monique was saying to take this photo.
Man I'm a good friend.

She also said a study had just concluded on the happiness of older women. The researchers had tried to find any correlation between having children and not having children and the overall contentment with life in older women in retirement centers and nursing homes. They found there was ABSOLUTELY NO COLLABORATION between whether a woman had children or not and happiness later in life. The only correlations present with regard to happiness in this population had to do with money and health. So, quit telling the people without children they'll be sad and lonely when they're old. Instead, tell them to take care of themselves and save their pennies. In the mattress in today's economy, of course. Geesh.

It was refreshing to hear someone so completely at home in their choices and in their life on this topic and every other one. I am generally very content in my life, but sometimes think I need to justify my choices to others, but hearing her let me realize that knowing and feeling you are right - in your gut - is really all you need, and how lucky you are to feel that. That your intuition is probably right. I am going to try to dwell "in the gut" on this more often. Less second guessing. More dwelling on the contentment.

The book signing underway. LONG line. We didn't wait in it.

OK, so this post has gotten way too heavy for a Friday. So, I need to wrap it up. We were supposed to have a little get together this weekend to celebrate "Open that Bottle Night" with some friends, and I was going to tell you all about it in this space next week, but S is still sick - so we had to cancel it. Please keep him in your thoughts and hope he gets well soon. And, as far as next week goes - I'll post a bunch of other stuff you don't really ever need to know but I'll tell you anyway.

Best wishes for a wonderful weekend as we usher in a new month!

Thursday, February 26, 2009


As you know, I'm an avid user of Flickr. Recently, Flickr has added a bunch of "add-ons" that are really cool and ultra-useful.

The first set of add-ons they offered a couple of years ago were really sort of "post production" options - put your photo on a mug, or a stamp, or whatever your heart desires! And, those are still there. But, the newest add-ons are more useful - they allow online editing and production of different types of products. Last weekend, I tried out the online site Picnik, which actually works flawlessly to allow you to edit photos online from your computer, from Flickr, and from several other online photo sites.

Now, just so you know - there are "free" functions as well as paid functions - the collage options if you purchase a subscription are WAY more robust. But, I just tried out the free collage option. I used my brother Steve's kids as the guinea pigs, since I have gads of photos of them. That said, I'd search more carefully for the best ones re: lighting and face size if I were going to actually print the collage.

I connected to my Flickr photostream and then basically dragged and dropped the photos I wanted into place on the collage template. Then, it gives you lots of "effect" options for the photos - again, some which are paid. I picked one that was free - called "60's effect" and this was my result:

It then lets you save it to your computer or back to your Flickr account or whatever account you choose. Pretty cool for a free service, and hey, once I play around with it for a while, I might even purchase the subscription - we'll see.

A quick update on S - he's finally on the mend. He's heading back to work today, at least for a while, and long hours of time yesterday with no fever. Let's hope this recovery continues, for all of us.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

This Makes Me Smile

Those are my niece Cora's feet in fuzzy pink toe socks. I came across the photo when scanning through for some photos from Indiana to print.

This photo makes me smile for many reasons. Because pink fuzzy toe socks are so absurd. Because I had to help her put them on, shoving the sock between her tiny little toes. And, her red sweats go so well with the pink socks. Because she was standing there with a completely sober look on her face while wearing said socks. Because she is so sweet.

And, I'm sure they keep your feet warm and toasty in the cold Indiana winter. And, thinking of Indiana, or my family, or my nieces and nephews of every age and temperament make me smile. And the fact that I'm not cold. That makes me smile too.

It's all warm and fuzzy. Like the socks.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lucky Number 13

Yesterday at 4:25 AM we became new relatives in a special way to a little baby for the 13th time. There are 8 nieces and nephews from my three brothers, 2 step-nieces, 1 great-nephew and one niece from S's side - that makes this little guy lucky number 13 for me and S. The 13th time we've become aunt and uncle.

Andrew Dean, son of S's brother Michael and sister-in-law Brooke, made his way to this world weighing 7 pounds, 9 ounces and 20.5 inches long. Mama is doing fine too. They're resting and getting to know one another.

Since S is still sick, I rode over to the hospital with S's parents to say hello and take a little gift. S had to get by on photos of his new nephew for now.

New parents Michael and Brooke - Andrew is under the cover.
(And Grandpa is behind Michael)

Let me just say I think he was one of the most vocal babies I've seen at approximately 10 hours old. He's got good lungs. Brooke was trying to nurse him while we were there, so we didn't get to see much of him, and when we did see him, he was good and mad. Red crinkly little mad baby face. But, it's still a sweet, soft newborn face, and I got a few good shots.

Look at those toes!!!
(And, thankfully, the security system.)

And that little foot!

It's blurry, but he's got a head full of hair.

And, as I said, he was none to happy.

As my brother Steve referred to this stage - their legs are "spring loaded."

You can of course tell, even through the mad face...

...that he's a precious new little boy...

...that we all welcome to the world.
Heck, we might even cry about it. :)

Monday, February 23, 2009

A First Birthday Celebration

S is still sick. So, we did a whole lot of nothing this weekend except try to get him well. I did go out Saturday morning with my friend Tricia (while S's mom kept him company) to help her purchase her drapery material, and I went to work on Saturday night.

And, I represented our household at Alexandra's 1st Birthday celebration. She'll actually turn 1 on 2/26/09, but the big par-tay was this past weekend. I am sure the festivities will be covered as well on her blog, but I took photos people, and it was the only photo-worthy activity all weekend. So, we're covering here at Ate Up Amateur as well. Here we go.

Alexandra was sober faced for the occasion,
somewhat overwhelmed with having all the relatives in one place.
Aunt Laura has a hold of here there.

A couple of her younger friends also attended...

...and seemed to enjoy themselves.

Kim made her little outfit - sewing on that patch and adding the ruffles to her pants.

Once everyone arrived, there was pizza to eat.

Then, there were presents to open.

Kim did most of the opening...

...not that Alexandra didn't seem to like the presents...she did.

Her little friends watched on and were so well behaved.

The "paparazzi" were also there - Uncle Michael photographed...

...and Dad Mark videoed the event.
And there were others - the shutters were flying!

She really liked all the buttons on this one and that they made noise when she pushed them.

She seemed to really like this Mickey Mouse DVD...

...she studied it very carefully...

...and carried it around for a good while.

There she is checking out what we got her.
It is some sort of little car with a little person and a horse cart with a horse.
It makes noise-this was the only requirement for S when purchasing.

She pulled in the loot...

But wait, there's more...

Her gift from her mom and dad was this little car.

As you can see here, it can be remote controlled until she's old enough to drive it herself.

That's the license plate and exhaust pipes.

She wasn't real sure of it at first.

But, once her little friend tried it out, it seemed more cool.

S's dad also brought this measuring stick that you add money to to track the child's height.

Then, there was dessert.

Alexandra seemed to get the point of the sugar.

A fun time was had by all.
Happy Birthday, little one.

I showed S the photos while he was awake so he could feel as if we were there. Poor guy - I really hope he starts feeling better soon. I'll keep you posted.