My bohemian friend Bethany keeps a blog of quotes and since she is a bohemian I feel that it is my duty to always be on the lookout for good quotes from the grind side (aka: the nine-to-five side). The best place to harvest inspirational quotes has to be, hands-down, the work conference. When team building is the goal, you can count on some pep talks, power points, and tree metaphors - and always a motivational presentation.
The conference I attended last week was non-profit so the motivational speaker demonstrated a kind of inspiration-economics that a lower budget would demand. She could not risk NOT inspiring us. We did not have a lot of time.
She came in, lit some candles while reading a poem about hope with the help of some lackluster audience participation and then she proceeded to recite all the hits of every heartwarming email forward about human kindness she had ever received. There was a story about being a carrot or an egg or coffee, and one about being a voice not an echo and another about tugging a dead elephant and another about a growing tree and still more about kindness of strangers and the serendipitiousness of serendipity and the thrill of giving and the wonder of cats. At one point she was throwing out so many inspirational quotes – I thought I heard one Bethany would dig and wanted to write it down, but they were coming at us so fast I couldn’t remember if we should be like the eggs or the coffee. I looked over at the woman next to me and saw that she had made a note to herself that said:
“You were born an original. Don’t die a copy. ~ Ghandi”
I became very concerned that the woman might repeat this error somewhere important, like in her email signature or an office newsletter. However, even after all the inspirational bullets being shot at me for the previous hour, I did not have the nerve, the confidence, the ethics, or the kindness to mention anything to her - even when she offered me a piece of gum later. What is the big deal anyway? Everybody loves Ghandi. He probably said something close when he was going through his individualistic phase.
The moral of the story? It doesn’t really matter what your hear, only what you write.
They don’t let you take pictures inside the Eudora Welty House so I bought a postcard of one of the rooms. The house is lovely and you should move in immediately. I couldn’t get over the stacks and stacks of books (the tour guide said 9,000 books were found in her house) and what I really couldn’t get over was how it didn’t look that “Hoarder”-ish. I don’t know if it was the light from the generous windows or the lack of other knicknacks, but in there it made sense to stack books on the sofa, the dining room table, the countertops, and the bed, and wherever. They say this is how she lived. They also said she had a ton of friends and wrote a bizzzllion letters.
They give you a driving tour map if you are a good house tour participant – I took the road to see where she was born (and where, supposedly, Richard Ford grew up) there is a huge bronze statue of her in a courtyard near a bookstore and coffee shop. I stopped in to get a peek and felt obliged to order a coffee, the guy in the shop was kind enough to give me a short tour of the area, but when I asked him about her burial site he said he had never been there. I was a bit confused because it was right across the street – you could see Greenwood Cemetery from the quaint bookstore balcony, I know this for a fact because I had just spilled some coffee up there.
“Well I don’t go there. There’s packs of wild dogs and bums.”
“Packs of wild dogs?”
“Yeah – they are always running around.”
By the time I left the coffee shop I was so close to being dissuaded from my gravesite visit because I am deathly afraid of wild dogs and packs of them are just far too wild and people don’t visit cemeteries enough and if I was maimed my body parts would not be found for weeks if ever, and because my boyfriend has already made me feel like a creep for wanting to visit the gravesites of other dead people (I suppose they would have to be dead), but my curiosity got the best of me and the proximity of the cemetery was encouraging me… so I turned in.
I didn’t see any wild dogs and the only bum around was me and I suppose you could count some Europeans (who find it quite chic to tour in cemeteries by the way) wearing backpacks who were visiting another big grave. I didn’t think anything of it until I was wandering into the place – realized I was alone, it was windy, and I was standing on dead people, but I found her just in time. Buried across from a Magnolia and near a cedar. I bowed my head and whispered my short prayer I always offer to dead people I find interesting;“Way to go!” and I left.
Someone should really come and stack some books up on that plot.
On the left is a movie prop painting of Ashley Judd painted by an artist from Canton, MS and used in the film “A Time To Kill”.
Key phrases and thoughts from this Mississippi trip thus far: Lima beans in every dish, slinky flounce tops on home shopping network, networking in a conference room next to a giant bowl of mayonnaise, one-on-one historical & film tours with Jana, hotel billing f-ups, and O brother where art thou.
I asked the hotel clerk/concierge if there was a grocery store nearby and he said “oh yes – there is a Kroger right there” and he pointed to the corner of the lobby. I assumed he meant it was out-of-doors across the parking lot.
“Great,” I said, “Do they sell wine? I need to get a bottle for an important business gift [to myself]”
“Oh no, but they sell beer. You can get beer there.”
“I’d like to purchase some wine.”
“There’s no place around here that sells wine. No.”
“No place – ANYWHERE?”
“No, but the restaurants serve liquor.”
“Well great then, I will have them put liquor in this large plastic McDonalds cup sitting on top of the tall ashtray near the door here and I’ll tell myself it’s wine. What a great hospitable solution you have offered. How does it feel to excel at your job to such a degree that it is confusing me?”
“This actually used to be a dry county.”
“Wha?” Technically, the whole country used to be dry for a good while back in the day – I’ve seen Boardwalk Empire…I don’t see what that has to do with anything, “So there is NO PLACE to go – even if I get in my car, head out on the road and drive back toward Memphis – I won’t see a single place that sells wine?”
“Oh well down the street a few miles…you can buy wine.”
“Is this your first time to Logan’s Road House?”
“Well you can just throw the peanut shells on the floor.”
I shoulda brought some mayonnaise. Here …can you fill this giant plastic cup up….
No matter how hard I stared at the radar screen, the snow would not scooch over to our office! Note: The pencil is pointing out where our office is located – the very tiny white area where sad workers in nearly-abandoned office parks were still inside working.
I say “were working” because I eventually got my wish and we all went home around noon in the name of snow safety. We are now all tucked safely in our homes eating milk sandwiches.
I strongly believe if were not for my impatience it would have taken the snow an additional fifteen minutes to get to us.
However, only my impatience has power, everybody else's impatience is just an annoying exhibition of selfishness and intolerance.
Sometimes when I get out of my class, depending on how many things have to get re-checked and locked down and radio-ed in, the chapel volunteers will walk out with me. Most nights these are just gentle old southern folk wearing sweaters-over-button-ups looking to share their kindness and love of the gospel to convicts, last night there were two new ones and it really seemed as if they considered themselves some kind of privileged clients of the federal spa and retreat with the way they were carrying on and sighing and saying “i wish theyall would hurry up already” and “they need to get to this gate up in here” under their not-so-quiet breaths.
It takes forever (in regular outside-time time) to get out of the compound. There are practical security issues, not to mention a decent fifty-yard walk, and even more important- there is no real incentive to rush you out of there, so sometimes the dudes in the control room will wait until they are done eating their sandwiches or maybe finishing a chapter of Infinite Jest or quilting that last square for the company craft show or who knows what in thesamhell , to open the gate.
Whatever the case was last night, I was extremely uncomfortable to be around some bible volunteers that were verbally impatient. I had never once thought to complain to the dudes controlling the big gates, keys, cuffs, and electric fences and I was quite sure the guards were fixing to retaliate in some kind of secret way that only people who work in dark, locked, unceasingly surveyed rooms know about. So I did my best to distance myself from them by acting like I wasn’t even interested in whether or not the gate ever opened. The full act included acting surprised when it was my turn to walk in. I think it worked, although I didn’t get any nice small talk from the chapel volunteers on the way out to the parking lot like I usually do, but I can’t help it - there are rules ‘round here.
It is best to keep your impatience to yourself and (if not) to use it only for good.
I didn't but B did. That is why I have him around.
We went to the Grizz Lakers game last night (and sat in some ridixulous front row seats a-hem) and that was a great way to start the week off. I wonder what I'll do next Monday to top it.
I've got class tonight but I will post an update like you won't even believe (or maybe won't even see) later.
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Sometimes if you mistype the web address to this blog you get this site.
The past couple days have been rough for me, so I am extremely vulnerable to cult recruitment and religious conversions and binge drinking and posting irrational and insulting anonymous reader comments on human interest stories and Urban Outfitter clothing reviews. It is fitting that I should fall upon that bible studies site today because it has a link near the top that says “Life is a test to see if you believe & obey the gospel.” So simple! I am totally going to cram for that one later.
What helped me is when you click on that link it brings you to another page that says “Spiritual Warfare” which is totally up my alley. “Warfare” sounds urgent and active. Belief is only going to get you out of bed, but warfare will fill your days.
Since you stumbled on my spiritual warfare site, I will do you the favor of giving you the secrets to the meaning of life (based on my experiences):
- Life is a test to see if you can not kill someone.
- Life is a test to see if you can keep everything you ever bought.
- Life is a test to see if you can drive in the snow.
- Life is a test to see if you believe in leprechauns.
- Life is a test to see if the Lions will ever win the Superbowl.
- Life is a test to see how many doctors you will visit to cure your migraines.
- Life is a test to see how many people believe what you say.
- Life is a test to see how many times a day you can say “like”.
- Life is a test to see what you will become addicted to.
- Life is a test to see how many social constructions you will not be constructed by.
- Life is a test to see if you are actually allergic to cats.
- Life is a test to see if you can take a picture of everything you see.
- Life is a test to see if you fell for it.
The best way to absorb this heavy information is to meditate on one a day. Maybe even one a week. Pick one truth from above and hold it in your head as the answer to all things, and I mean ALL things, for the next week and see what kind of opportunities open up for you, see what questions of yours are answered.
I hope this clears things up. I do not require obeisance as proof of belief - even in the case of a leprechaun sighting.