laugh and ye shall receive.

So here’s how it went down:

I pull up to the Starbucks drive-thru window.
Cheerful dude’s voice gives the usual “hello, welcome…would you like to try one of our new soy vanilla frappuccinos?” Only it’s more chipper than usual—even for Starbucks.
So I say, “no, but you did a good job selling it, though!” (swear i wasn’t flirting. purely observational.)
I hear some snickering in the background and take my sweet time making up my mind.
Coupla moments pass, and the voice comes back, telling me that if it’d help me make up my mind, my drink is on the house.
“We-ell!” I say, “I’ll have one of EVERYTHING!” (nonstop charm, people.)
Feeling grateful but not adventurous, I order my usual skinny skim iced caramel macchiato, but I do change my usual tall to a grande. For flourish.
I pull around and the baristas explain that they had this running bet going, because Mr. Chipper Voice has an above-average success rate with obscure order suggestions. I was the lucky drive-through driver-upper who, while I didn’t take the bait, did make them laugh.
And that was enough.

So. There’s some sort of life lesson here, isn’t there…
Always, always flirt with strangers?
Sometimes being cheeky gets you free stuff?
Starbucks employees, left to their own devices, give out free drinks willy-nilly?
Corporations may be cold and indifferent, but people can still surprise and delight?
Drinking coffee at night makes me blog long after bedtime?

TED Talks = internet church. Ole!

I think I’ve found my new nightcap routine: glass of wine and TED.

You are familiar with TED Talks, aren’t you? (If not, oooo girl. Head on over. Grab a snack. You‘ll be there a while.) In a very small nutshell: TED is awesome people talking about awesome things. It’s all the things I love about This American Life and convocation lectures and smart conversation all wrapped up in little internet videos.

Tonight I listened to Elizabeth Gilbert, my muse du jour, it would seem.

Someone sent this to me a long time ago, but I’m just now watching it because I found it by chance on this blog here. (Two lessons there: 1) don’t put off awesome shared videos. 2) Tag surfing can be a wonderful thing.)

It’s just fabulous, people.

  • She talks about fear. And the dangerous assumption that creativity must = suffering.
  • She asks, “what is it about creative ventures that seems to make us really nervous about each other’s mental health, in a way that other careers don’t?
  • She rocks yet another head-to-toe black ensemble. Must be her go-to speaking outfit.
  • She invokes the pre-renaissance ideal that one might HAVE a genius but not BE a genius.
  • She effing invokes Tom Waits…
  • It’s nice to feel that self-doubt/fear is part of the process, but I can also make it go away.
    It’s nice to feel that there’s still so much out there to be learned.
    Let’s boil that down even further: it’s nice to feel.

    pioneers of continuing on

    i’ve been feeling a little restless lately. nothing particular is wrong…in fact a lot of things are very right for me right now. still i can’t shake the feeling that’s like a match about to strike.

    Ten years ago I was sixteen, and spending my June at Missouri Scholar’s Academy. I’d borrowed my dad’s James Taylor greatest hits cd (because I was an old soul), and I remember i would hear these lyrics (from Shed a Little Light) over and over again in my head that summer, as if i knew i was in for a big change:

    There is a feeling like the clenching of a fist
    There is a hunger in the center of the chest
    There is a passage through the darkness and the mist
    And though the body sleeps the heart will never rest

    And I’m feeling now (10 years later!) that my heart is restless.
    And it scares me a little. Because I know, for me, there’s a fine line between excitement and emotional risky business.

    The same part of me that goes skydiving can also jump out of relationships with no parachute.
    The same part of me that runs marathons can also run myself ragged with too many projects at once.

    I want to do it all because I’m afraid of doing nothing.

    Last spring I debated whether I should go to an extras audition for a local film production. (This was during Hurricane Sarah — as one of my friends likes to call that time, not inaccurately.) The audition, and subsequent filming, was something like 90 minutes away in Forsyth. So I decided not to go, and I considered it a victory, a moment when i was supposed to learn the lesson that “you can’t try for every opportunity”…and instead i’ve learned…the one thing you don’t try for turns out to be an oscar contender. See, the local film production was Winter’s Bone, which just this morning on CBS Sunday David Edelstein called the film of the year.

    And I know I might not’ve even gotten cast…but the fact that I didn’t try drives me crazy.

    Oprah in Rome

    Oprah in Rome. ROprah. (from

    This morning I by chance flipped to the back of my June O Magazine, and saw Oprah sitting in Rome with the caption: “I know for sure that all experiences contribute to who we’re meant to be.”

    So I read it. Then I went to to find it so I could write this entry. And I by chance found this video of Elizabeth Gilbert, the ultimate stuck-in-a-rut-woman’s inspiration, where she says that all the oprah “experts” on “living your best life” are just “pioneers of continuing on,” when failure after failure has knocked them down. And even she, Ms. Eat Pray Love, has haggard moments of self-doubt. Sometimes my head is a neighborhood that you wouldn’t want to walk alone in at night, she tells us…and i know exactly what she means.

    Me in Florence

    Sarah in Florence, Florah. (from jennie's camera)

    Sometimes mom comforts me when i’m feeling like this by saying i need to cut myself a little slack. After all, I’ve gotten to do some pretty cool stuff, and I need to let “real life” be what it is…as if somehow my more “adventurous” times have spoiled me for “real” life.
    I don’t think that’s quite it. I think it’s easier to engage the adventurous side of myself when i’ve broken routine, and that’s what i long for. that’s why the 4 years i worked at MSA were so liberating. and that’s why i crave travel and being in new places. and that’s why i feel so restless right now. because i know i have the potential to rock life’s face off and that’s what i want to do so badly.

    Help me, Oprah.

    Oprah’s What I know For Sure column from the June 2010 O Mag:

    “I know for sure that all experiences contribute to who we’re meant to be.”

    Here’s the truth: I wanted to do an issue on adventurous spirit so I’d be inspired to experience more of it myself.

    My life is overwhelmingly busy, just like yours. And filled with so many responsibilities and must-dos that when I stumble across some free time, I just want to sleep. Or read. My favorite place to be in the world other than reading under the oaks at my house in California is anywhere in Italy. And even then I’m looking for a good place to nestle in with a book.

    But I’m open to changing my ways.

    The idea of doing something unexpected, something unpredictable—daring myself to tune in to another way of seeing and feeling things—intrigues me.

    When I was recording the narration for Life, the 11-part nature series on the Discovery channel, I realized once again that all life has value. (Haven’t killed an ant or fly since.) And I know for sure that all experiences have value and meaning, too, and contribute to who we’re meant to be.

    Stepping out and doing what you’ve always wanted to do—even if it’s not dinner at the foot of the Pyramids but just a picnic for two on the porch (both of which I’ve been meaning to get around to)—is saying yes to life. And that’s something I’m sure we could all use a little more of.

    And that means saying “yes” to missed opportunity and restless times, too, doesn’t it, Oprah? Balls.