with Lynne and Leslie
Tag Archives: New Year’s resolutions

Pamela Smart, TV murder and who’s writing your story in the New Year

by SweetMidlife
Bang your own drum, or be content with someone else doing it for you. And that means they get to pick the tune.

Bang your own drum, or be content with someone else doing it for you. And that means they get to pick the tune.

Leslie here! One of my New Year’s resolutions – yeah, they’re mostly poppycock, but hear me out – is to spend less time reading other people’s writing and actually writing myself. I’m a writer after all. Says so on my business card and my tax returns. It’s almost embarrassing how not proactive I’ve been, particularly when you consider that I always thought I was. But if you don’t take careful possession of who you actually appear to be, and who is telling your truth, you are doomed. Like, “doomed” if you were reading it in Vincent Price’s voice. Like you’re screwed.

I was reminded of this on New Year’s Day, watching “Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart,” a 2014 HBO documentary that’s not so much about the murder of a young husband by his wife’s teen lover and his friends that she’s accused of setting up, but why we think we know what we know about it. Smart, a former school New England school media coordinator who is serving life without parole for engineering the plot, still maintains her innocence, and director Jeremiah Zagar seems to think that’s possible. But that’s not what his movie is about. It’s about how Smart herself was set up as the unfortunate subject of a “ripped-from-the-headlines” culture in the early ’90s, before myriad studies on how media coverage effects both juries and public opinion. There were several books, a widely-scene TV movie starring Helen Hunt and even a wickedly excellent Gus Van Zandt movie, “To Die For” that was loosely based on the case. Even though the movies came after the verdict, there is evidence that they have tainted any chance Smart has of getting a new trial. Person after person involved in the case, from co-conspirators to reporters to even the filmmakers and writers who recorded it as history, admit that they have a hard time separating fact from fiction. They sometimes forget which details were in evidence and which were lines spouted by Helen Hunt on a TV set.

It’s eerie to imagine that a real woman could be sitting in jail for the rest of her life – she’s spent more than half of it there already – because she had the dumb luck of falling into a salacious situation of her own making. It possessed all sorts of nasty little made-for-Geraldo details like the seduction of a teen boy,  old found bikini photos made to look like they were taken explicitly to seduce the kid, a secret, damning tape and the like. Smart’s defense team, who decided that they didn’t want to try the case in the press, didn’t insist that she tell her own story. What they didn’t appreciate is that this story was going to be told for her, in so many televised testimonies and talk show punditry. Watching the court of public opinion bury Smart two decades later, in glorious early-90s big hair and shoulder pads, is claustrophobic, because of what we know now about how media can bury or salvage you depending on its whims. The case predated the present Casey Anthonys and even the Dalia Dippolitos – troubled women with a whiff of sexual inappropriateness and big doe eyes that make people either want to save them or smack them. Maybe they’re all guilty. But if they weren’t – like if there was video of someone else committing their crimes – some people would still refuse to believe it because we’ve all discussed it and decided that they did it.

So what I’m saying is this – whether you’re the First Lady or the lunch lady, you are a public person to someone. There are people who are curious about you, who are forming opinions about you based on your Facebook profile or your last ten Tweets, or your Pinterest boards or even what they saw you buy at the Winn-Dixie last week. They probably don’t even realize that these opinions are being formed, but they are being formed, all the same. I respect the right of everyone to have their own lives, to curate the details of those lives accordingly and to not have to justify anything they do to a bunch of strangers. But “Captivated” reminded me that if you don’t take an active role in telling your own story, it’s still being told. I will take that lesson this year as a person who posts about working out but doesn’t lose weight because I keep eating things you don’t see, as a writer who sometimes spends too much time watching TV someone else wrote and not writing herself. Stuff like that. I can say I’m one thing, in all the Pinterest and Facebook and Twitter I want, but if I don’t actively inhabit those things, I am not them. I am telling a different story. Be aware of who you are and how your life tells that story. It might be speaking louder than your words.


2016: The year that was…sucky…and great…and a good set-up for something better

by SweetMidlife
Keep on rocking in the new year!

Keep on rocking in the new year!

This is Leslie, who does not write nearly as much as she should on this blog. My previous excuse has been that I write full-time as a newspaper columnist so I don’t always want to sit down and write some more, but time is money, and as a single mother I can tell you that making money is worth my time. So even though we don’t really make any money on this labor of love because we don’t write enough, we certainly won’t make any if we don’t write. Synergy and stuff.

So this is why I’m up at 1-ish a.m. on the last day of 2016, briefly writing about how even though this year sucked for so many reasons, it was OK or even transcendent in some cases. Yes, yes, I’m talking about the same year that killed Prince, David Bowie, Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds, Glenn Frey and George Michael, among others. (Hide, Betty White!) And then there’s the fact of some major nastiness, racism and ugliness that seems to be bolder about showing itself. It was always there,  but now it’s just braver and not hiding (and if you’re attempting to blame racism on people who note that there is racism, this blog is not for you and you can go now, seriously. Get out of here with that mess.)

But bad and good things happen in every year – 2015 was the year I lost my husband, and 2016 was the year that the adoption of our son became final. So I’m a bigger fan of 2016. I am sure that in all of your lives, there are highs and lows in any 12-month period. I can’t speak for you, but here is a list of the reasons that 2017 might be better than 2016:

1) If 2016 did not kill you, you can make 2017 better.

Yep, that’s it. That’s my list. If you are still breathing, you have the opportunity to find something about 2017 to like. I am not attempting to downplay the very real pain that you may have about politics, or that rise in nastiness and sharp drop in courtesy and civility. It sucks. It’s real. And it might get worse before it gets better. (Again, go hide somewhere, Betty White, until the smoke clears.)

But let me lay something real on you – in 2015 I got the wind kicked out of me. In an instant I was a widow, a single mom, the primary breadwinner and a matriarch. Stuff got real. I was doubled over. And then I crawled to my feet and kept moving. I am not a hero. I am not special. I am not Beyonce. I’m a person who had to keep breathing, broken heart and all. For a while, I was just treading water. But now I’m doing something approximating thriving. It’s not the way I would have defined that before, but I now have some joy. And a new beginning. 2016 was a new beginning for my family – actually, everything that came after my husband’s death in July 2015 was a new beginning. And this year represents another one.

It is another year to fight the injustice we see, to slap down ignorance and buffalo racism, sexism, homophobia and other isms and phobias till they run screaming. It’s another year to lick our wounds, to regroup, It’s another year to hug your babies, to kiss your partner, to fall in love. To love on your mama and your grandma, or, if you don’t have one of those, to hold close whoever you have. It is a year to be better.

Because we are still here. Which is better than the alternative. Happy 2017, guys. It might not be the most awesome new year, but it’s awesome because it’s a new year we have.


Lynne and Leslie Ask Each Other Random New Year’s Questions

by SweetMidlife

Happy New Year’s Eve!! This has been a year. both really good and really bad at the same time Yes. Lots of both. Ans since this is the time of year where people do a lot of reflcting about the year past, and also because y’all seemed to like last week’s post where Lynne and Leslie asked each random Christmas-themed questions, and also because it is fun when we riff off of each other, here are random questions (and hopefully answers) about New Year’s, and years both old and new.

Yo, Leslie, you up next.

Leslie smiling with her awesome hair.

Leslie smiling with her awesome hair.

Lynne asks: “What did you think I would say at this moment? I totally watched a Hallmark-type movie with Candace Cameron-Bure and the guy who played the replacement Todd Manning on “One Life To Live”, and they were at a dance with a band who was trying to be Billy Vera and the Beaters. And that has nothing to do with the New Year, but that came to me. What is the best Hallmark movie you watched this year? And also, weren’t Billy Vera and the Beaters good?

Leslie responds: Yes, Billy Vera and them were amazing or at least that song was. That final chorus where he’s all “If I..I-ei-ei-ei-ei-ei-ei…if I could just ho-oh-oh-hold you…a-ga-yaaan” my hands are up like “Preach your truth, man! You PREACH YOUR TRUTH TO THE SKY!”

As for the Hallmark movie, I’m gonna go with “A Royal Christmas” with Jane Seymour because she’s a royal with a huge snob complex trying to thwart her son’s relationship with an American commoner, and she’s so initially evil that you kinda chuckle. Jane came to play, people.

Lynne asks: “Are you doing resolutions this year? If so, are they long-term or short-term? And how many involve seeing Lionel Richie sing in Vegas?

Leslie responds: All of them. Because everyone you meet is jamming in the street. Tell me they’re not.

Lynne asks: “If you could book any act you wanted to at your dream version of ‘Dick Clark’s Rocking New Year’s Eve’, who would it be?” 

Leslie responds: 1986 Crowded House. Janelle Monae. Darlene Love singing about Christmas even though Christmas is over because she is Darlene Love and what are you gonna say to her?

Lynne asks: “What is your favorite New Year’s themed-movie? Is it ‘New Year’s Day’? I know what mine is but you didn’t ask me this question. And Jon Bon Jovi did look good in that movie. ‘New Year’s Day’. Not the other movie I was talking about because I haven’t told you what it is. 

Leslie responds: I hated that “New Year’s Day” left poor Halle Berry sad and scared for her husband over in the war, just like stupid “Love, Actually,” a thing I hate, lets the middle aged women be alone and cheated on while happiness is for 20-somethings. Screw you, movie. This is not what this question was about so I will answer that it’s “When Harry Met Sally,” the same thing you picked. For that reason.

Lynne asks: “Okay, I realize that I do need to tell you what the other movie I am thinking of was. It was “When Harry Met Sally”, and I decided to tell you because it is about old friends, as Sally says, and that is what you and your beloved Scott were. Sigh. And Scott was Jewish like Billy Crystal and you have big hair like Meg Ryan. So this isn’t a question, but yes, you used to be black Molly Ringwald because of how you dressed in high school, and now you are really black Meg Ryan. Feelings on this?

Leslie responds: I am both. I am also the eye in the sky, looking at you. I can read your mind. And you should be ashamed of yourself.

 OK Lynne…here you go. Cause I’m Les and there ain’t nobody like my body, yes I’m somebody…Oh, we aren’t doing Salt N Pepa lyrics? No? Here you go.

About to go on a date with my husband where I checked my phone maybe twice but really that was too much.

Lynne about to go on a date with her husband where she checked her phone maybe twice but really that was too much. 

Leslie asks: “Here comes the jackpot question in advance…what are you doing New Year’s, New Year’s Eve? Which is tonight?”

Lynne answers: We are making fish subs and then finding a way to watch the early fireworks in our town without being all the way downtown. Because old and crowds and get off of my lawn. But it will be nice.

Leslie asks: “I’m stealing from Billy Crystal, like all good writers, but what the heck is Auld Lang Syne about? Feel free to make stuff up.”

Lynne answers: It means to forget those old people and stop bring them to mind because they were maybe suspect. But wait, maybe I am somebody’s old acquaintance they they are trying to forget. If I am, then sorry. I don’t know what it means. But whatever, sorry, old acquaintances.

Leslie asks: “Have you ever noticed that Father Time, in some pictures, looks like the Grim Reaper? And given the year we had, should we be concerned?”

Lynne answers: We should be concerned. Dang. But you know that time won’t give me time, right? Or a Filet O’ Fish without cheese. Because you have to wait extra for those.

Leslie asks: “What are your resolutions, dude?”

Lynne answers: Hmm. To have big goals, but to remember daily why I have them. And decide sometimes that it is okay to set them daily, but also remember that I have the power to do stuff or not. Sometimes goals change, and they should sometimes because maybe you weren’t thinking right when you set it. But I would love to have the theater I am starting up and running and performing for the children by the spring. And I resolve to have more dates with my kid and husband where I look at my phone not at all.

Leslie asks: “Tell me about a resolution that you broke and aren’t sorry for breaking?”

Well, I said that a few years back I was getting back to my wedding weight, and I got instead to the weight you are at when you eat a lot of wedding cake. No really, I am not where I resolved to be weight-wise, but I have lost some weight, and I am making steady, healthy progress. I was trying to be a weight that I thought I would be happy at because I was trying to get to the feeling I had when I was that weight. I don’t ever need to be that size again, but if I get there, I will by working hard, but not by setting a mindset that I can’t keep up with. I know me. I am getting to where I need to be by paying attention to what I eat and moving more and not killing myself. Healthy, hopefully, in all ways. But I will still eat cheese. That is happening. Because happy.

 

 


Fabulous ’15! Five resolutions you can keep!

by SweetMidlife
It's a blank slate. You might as well fill it well.

It’s a blank slate. You might as well fill it well.

 

Leslie here! I greet you on this fine New Year’s Day from the Sweet Midlife’s southern headquarters, over a green smoothie and an episode from Season 4 of “The Wire.” My husband is sitting on the couch next to me under an afghan knitted by my Great-Aunt Martha. Many of those details figure into my New Year’s Resolutions…stop rolling your eyes. Yes, yes, I like you have been super stoked about all the stuff I was gonna do on Jan. 1, involving diet, exercise, job, you name it.

And Jan. 27 I, like you, was like “Screw it. Ice cream and couches rule.”

My sister wrote recently about her resolution to be more loving, and that’s an amazing thing to promise. That’s certainly on my list, but here are five more things I think I can stick to. For real. Stop side-eyeing me. You haven’t read them yet!

1) Be specific about my health goals while being realistic and non-sadistic. That rhymes. Almost like a Johnnie Cochran situation. But there are no gloves to fit into this one, just a middle-aged woman trying to fit into the clothes she was trying to be too skinny to fit into last year (and ain’t that a pip?). Last year I had a very mapped-out goal, to dive into a clean eating program, to work out a specific amount of time, and lose a specific amount of weight. This worked out quite well until a kid came to live with us in March, and to paraphrase Sweet Brown, ain’t nobody have time for making tomato soup from scratch. I beat myself up for my failure to fit my previous resolve into our new life, and got fatter for it. This year, I have decided to be proactive about my eating and working out and not use my fatigue as an excuse, because either I’m gonna do it or I’m not. Won’t get done for me. But I also refuse to use a timeline, and to beat myself up if that arbitrary deadline doesn’t pan out. Instead it’s day by day – I’ve got this smoothie, already told the guys at the gym they’ll see me today, and am going to hit my ab work the minute I get finished typing this. If we get lunch I get a salad or something not fried. I keep that up. I feel good about it. I go to bed and don’t tie my self worth into the choices I made. And then start over tomorrow.

Let's do this! Sweaty and set on change!

Let’s do this! Sweaty and set on change!

2) Call my grandmother more: And my aunties and my uncles, and my goddaughter and cousins and all the people I wonder about but don’t always pick up a phone and talk to.

3) Write everything down – I am not the most organized person in the world (understatement understatement understatement) and making myself write stuff down – my grocery list, the errands I have to run, my blogging and work interview schedule my work out goals – keeps me honest and accountable and not slapping myself in the forehead and going “Acck! I was supposed to blah blah blah!”

4) Finish what I started – meaning the novel I’ve been hovering around for three years in various incarnations. This year. For real. Been too long.

5) Be better to my skin: My consistent skin care regimen for the last 43 years, between a Grand Canyon’s worth of products, has basically been “Black don’t crack.” (Ahem) But my family’s excellent genes don’t mean I shouldn’t wear sunscreen, or daily wash my face with….something, and drink lots of water. I need to not be the first woman in my family to look her age.

I think these are all do-able. Sometimes stuff is hard, the stuff we need to do to survive. But it doesn’t have to be awful, or unpleasant. Let’s do it! Who’s with me?


Resolutions and Whatnot

by SweetMidlife

Our friends are brilliant. Today we have a guest post from Brother Sam. He is married to our Best Friend Nikki, so he is ours now. And he is okay with that.  It’s about resolutions and such.

 

A slightly different take on resolutions from Leslie… I realize I am mixing holiday traditions, but I have just gotten very Scrooge-ish about New Years resolutions. I grant you, I’ve never been particularly big on them, mostly because nobody, starting with me, follows through long term on them with any great success. This year, though, I am personally boycotting the resolution process with malice aforethought. Don’t get me wrong, the list of things I need to improve about myself is long and exhaustive, and the list of things I’m trying to improve, were I to itemize, includes a lot of that first list. There are also any number of people perfectly happy to
flesh out that list were I to forget anything…

Resolutions, though, are invariably about the future; “this coming year I will …” “I won’t…””No more…” “More and better…” . The problem is, the future is always a comfortable distance away. If it’s important enough to make a resolution, it’s important enough to just do, and do right now. The bigger and more fundamental the resolution, the more solidly in the future it gets, too.  “I’ll lose 20 pounds this year” is not a thing that’s gonna happen today, we all know this.

My moment of Zen came yesterday, and it involved diet. I am not an especially healthy eater at the best of times, and this holiday season is NOT the best of times. I have had the advantage all my life of being able to shed weight and put on muscle pretty easily if I buckle down and do the work, so I tend to take advantage of that and eat like a pig when I feel like it. So I was eating a doughnut yesterday and thought to myself,  “Self, this is not good. I am going to eat better and exercise in the New Year, no matter what.” And then I took another bite of the doughnut. Somewhere in mid swallow it struck me what a profoundly idiotic combination of
thoughts and actions I was having. I gave the rest of the doughnut to the dogs. I took the rest of the box to the neighbor a few doors down who is having low blood sugar issues, then walked around the neighborhood a few times. Today, I ate a healthy breakfast, a healthy lunch, and am thawing fish to broil for dinner. I don’t know how long or how well I’ll stick to it, but if I had made the resolution, I would already have missed a day and a half of being a smidge healthier.

So as we start the New Year, don’t just think of all the stuff you want to do this year, think of what you can do this very second, and then, just do it.


Happy 2014: Our Sweet Midlife resolutions to you!

by SweetMidlife

Leslie here! It’s so weird how fast 2013 went – I swear I just got used to not writing “2012” some time around September, and now I have to get used to a whole new year (#firstworldliteracyproblems). It’s been a year of some change for us, including a move, some family deaths and births, some scary times in various industries that affect our families, and the disturbing cuteness of Lynne’s son. I mean, it should be illegal. Like, Cuteness Jail.

Since we’re still alive and we have no choice but to swing into the new year, we’ve decided to just say “Screw it” and greet that sucker with open arms. That means, hopefully, some great changes for this blog, for us, and hopefully for you:

– We resolve to be more consistent in this blog, meaning that unless something really nutty is going on (and we’re sending threatening glares at our family to not do anything nutty) we’re going to post every day. That means we’re going to have to find new ways to express our worldview, which is people who aren’t as young as we used to be, not as old as we hope to be, and not as fabulous as we can be but trying to get there every day. That also means some occasional chiming-in of our friends and writers we admire as guest bloggers. If you like us, tell some friends about us, so they can like us too!

– We resolve to stop calling ourselves fat and generally give ourselves a break. We got some stuff we’re working on. But how can we teach the little ones to love themselves if we can’t do it?

– We resolve to finish what we’ve started, no matter what. For Leslie, that’s her novel. Foe Lynne, that’s a play and some other creative projects. Yell at us until we do it, y’all.

– We resolve to call our grandmother more.

– We resolve to be present in the moment, to stop texting while talking to people, to be present in each bite we take, to make eye contact and not make people feel like we’re wasting our time talking to them.

We enjoy sharing our weirdness, enlightenment and crankiness with you, and we look forward to keeping it up. Have a lovely New Year’s Eve, and many lovely days to follow.


Resolutions, Pt.2

by SweetMidlife

Hi! It’s Lynne.

So Leslie shared her resolutions for 2012, and I wanted to add mine. As I started listing them out in my head, what I realized is that most of them boiled down to a basic principle: getting rid of yuckiness.  Life is too short to spend with people or things or food that upset you.  We encounter enough unpleasantness in our days that we can’t avoid (the boss you really don’t respect at the job you can’t afford to quit, traffic, bran. Only slightly kidding about the last one), so why should we deal with it in our off-hours? So, I resolve to….

  • Stop watching TV shows with characters that make me want to throw things at the screen, foam at the mouth or that bore me.  I lurve TV, but there are some shows that I have had to let go, including most of the Real Housewives series and The Braxtons, because even though I might like them in real life, I don’t like them on the show, and giving them my 60 minutes is like going to a party full of insufferable people. I also think that I have given up on “Grimm”. Liked it, but can’t stay into it, so I think it has to go.
  • Stop watching things that vex my soul. I love true crime stories on the ID:Investigation Discovery station, especially when they get the bad guy and you see them in jail at the end.  But over the years, several dear friends of mine have gone through things that COULD be featured on these shows, and I start to think about how they and their families have been judged by outsiders who only know parts of their stories, and I start to think that we really need to watch how we view other people’s misery as entertainment that we can simply turn off when the show is over in an hour.
  • On that note, I am also gonna stop reading things that do nothing but make me want to punch people.  To go with my TV habit, I also read a lot ABOUT TV in the Internet.  For example, if I am excited about who got kicked off on a reality show the night before, I will read comments on websites like EW.com and Televisionwithoutpity.com to see if other people agree with me.  And sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t, which is fine.  but what happens often is that people turn what they think about that singer or dancer or chef into personal diatribes about that person’s weight, or ethnic background, or sexuality, and it just becomes about people either trying to find a place to release all of their ugliness, or it becomes a place where people only say things to get a rise out of people.  Whatever the reason, it’s bad, and I find myself upset, when I could just stop reading.  I think that I want people to validate my reasons for liking a certain singer on a show, or for me being upset that this person said that to the other person, and that’s why I look for like-minded people.  But that’s not worth me getting upset over a comment that someone took too far.  And if you liked that singer that got eliminated and no one else does? That’s alright! You don’t need other people to define what YOU like for you. You already know.

Like I said earlier, you WILL encounter some unpleasant things and people in your life, and have to deal with things you don’t always want to. So this is my last resolution…

  • When I can’t avoid yuckiness, and I will try to counteract it with my raygun full of anti-yuck, and try to handle it with a good outlook, patience, and, when nothing else works, knowing when to speak and when not to and the effects that has on the situation.  Let go and let God, the old folks say.

I am sure that you have your own personal list of yuck and yuck-removers, and I hope that you will resolve to have the most pleasant, happiest, love-spreading year you can, as you spread love to other people. Which sometimes we can only do if we first surround OURSELVES, inside and out with good things.  Happy New Year!


Bride at 35 Challenge New Year’s resolutions: What are yours?

by SweetMidlife

Leslie here! I’ve been on vacation all week, which has given me some time to catch up on movies and TV I haven’t seen – “The Adjustment Bureau!” Who knew? – and think a lot about things I need to do better next year. Some of those things are obvious – this gut, and not sleeping in my makeup – and others are things I don’t always think about because I don’t have the time. But I’m on it now. Here are a few things I’m dedicated to being concerned with in 2012. Of course, resolutions get broken all the time. But I want to be a better wife, daughter, friend, employee and caretaker of my body.

So I promise, publicly, to be about these things. And I want accountability! How about you?

I resolve to:

– Not use my job as a professional eater and drinker as an excuse to be fat. I can eat healthily, and stick to my workouts, on those days I’m not work-sipping.

– To get regular facials. I have great genes, and everyone in my family looks like they’ve got ugly old photos hanging in their closets, because they’re 10 years older than their skin. But I can’t take that for granted. Can’t be the only Hagatha in my family!

– To stop over-scheduling. One of the reasons my life is so hectic is because I overbook myself, and because I forget that I did and then try to make everything. Pastor David Pinckney once told me that it’s Godly to say “no.” God doesn’t want you stressed and crazy, and certainly not in his name. Can’t argue with that.

– To shut up sometime. Ever have one of those conversations with your significant other where you can mentally see the giant Stop sign floating in your head, telling you to let whatever they just said go and walk away? Me too! But I can’t drive 55, and I can’t stop that tongue from flapping! And then it just gets stupid. I can’t control every misunderstanding. But I certainly can take a beat, and I can stop myself from proving I’m right all the time. Even if I am. Which I am. Ha ha.

– To call my grandmother every other day. This is a no-brainer.

– To not leave dishes in the sink.

– To put my shoes away so I’m not tripping over them, and to put my laundry away as soon as it’s folded.

– To finally schedule that dinner with my pastor, who is busier than me!

– To get serious about saving.

I’m sure I have more. But that’s what I feel is important right now. How about you?


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