Special Guest Joan Gregerson on Gratitude!

International_Peace_Day_logoSeptember 21st is observed around the world as the International Day of Peace. Joan Gregerson is a writer, a teacher, a member of my writing group, the author of Tuning Into Inner Peace: The Surprisingly Fun Way to Transform Your Life, and a purveyor of peace in general, ramping up to September 21st with a free online course, The 29-Day Inner Peace Experience. She devotes today, Day 16, to Gratitude. I’m especially happy to have her here today because Gratitude transforms my life on a daily basis, in ways both big and small — “The good sense to be grateful” often makes the list in my Gratitude Journal, and in my opinion we can’t find our way down the path to peace without it. Please welcome Joan and her Barney Rubble feet. As she says, “The first step in making a better world is learning how to become more peaceful ourselves. Together, we can create a culture of peace!”

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I Love You, My Barney Rubble feet

By Joan Gregerson

Like many people, by the time I got to the age of 40, I had decades of body critiques filed and at the ready. Look like a boy. Big nose. Droopy boobs. A spare tire. A double chin. A long torso. Thunder thighs. I didn’t think of myself as pretty or ugly, just painfully plain.

Raised Catholic, married young, and working as an engineer, being plain seemed to work in my favor. I definitely did not attract attention because of my striking beauty. And sexuality, well, it was just better all-around if no one ever brought that up. As far as my appearance, I wouldn’t say it was self-loathing, more just self-nothing, or self “meh”-ing. Continue reading

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Writing Exercise/City Code Snapshot: SNA

greetings-from-orange-county-californiaHey gang!  So today we’re going to try something a little different, and use (slightly more than a thousand) words instead of a picture to offer a snapshot of the Orange County layover.  Partly, yes, because I neglected to take a picture while I was there yesterday, but also because I used my one Orange County Outing as a writing prompt, the results of which I am moved to foist upon an unsuspecting public share.

The sun-soaked oceanfront county of Orange is home to 3 million people.  It encompasses such scenic byways as Laguna Beach, San Juan Capistrano, and Tomorrowland, and boasts a glamorous mall and a very manageable airport named after the man who shot Liberty Valance.  It is, in other words, as depicted on this-here postcard, probably delightful as a vacation hot spot; at the very least, judging by all of the dernier-cri sportsters zooming along the 12-lane surface streets, it is a great place to get rich selling really expensive cars.  And, as is often the case in this post-fun day and age of flying, we see none of that.  No Laguna art galleries or Capistrano swallows for these crews; rather, we lay over in an airport-adjacent business park close to a fountain, a few drastically trimmed shrubs, and bugger all else.  If you are firm in your resolve to get coffee, however — and you know how in this arena my resolve does not waver — you can walk 3/4 of a mile, take your life in your hands crossing the hugest intersection in Southern California, and get you a Starbucks.

Which is of course what I did yesterday.  Having collapsed onto my bed at something of an early hour the night before, I was up and at them, and rolled up at the Starbucks at like a quarter to nine.  A stone’s throw from the Southern California headquarters of every company in America that has a Southern California headquarters, this particular Starbucks was jammed.  Men in suits, women in heels, everyone on their way to work or getting a jump on the first meeting of the day, everyone talking, either into their phones or at each other.  The baristas were rushed off their feet, friendly and loud.  And over here along the wall, as is apparently required by some bylaw in company policy at every Starbucks location, sat the Guy Working on His Laptop.  I was like, Really?  This is where you’re going to come to try and get some work done?  I myself have a crippling fear of being perceived as a posturing Look At Me! douche anytime I so much as refer to my laptop in public, and so naturally I judge others harshly against this standard that I hate having applied to my own self, you know how we do.  But then I caught myself doing it — which is much less rewarding than just blithely judging people and getting on with your day, as you know — and reminded myself, You don’t know this dude’s story at all.  And, because I prefer to think of myself as someone who Knows It All, I remedied that by sitting — on a lovely patio chaise, but still — at the very same Starbucks amidst the very same distracting crowd, and writing (it hurts from the irony, I know), and deciding that his story is this: Continue reading

City Code Snapshot: SMF

SMF reclining buddhaI never even considered smaller, regional airlines when I decided to take to the skies.  In my mind, a Flying Career should look more like Paris and Hong Kong than Peoria and Hartford, and for a while, mine did.  Boy watching in Sydney, boy watching in London, boy watching in Taipei — yes, mine was a glamorous life.  Since coming home to Denver a few years ago — quite by choice, I should add, and with no regrets — my gig is straight domestic all the time, and sometimes that career looks funny to me.  The places you end up that you would never choose to go!  But somebody chooses to go there, and the airline you work for chooses to take them there, and so you find yourself abroad in the streets of places like Sacramento.

Rather unassuming for the capital city of a place like California, and kind of in the middle of nowhere, on the surface, a Sacramento layover has limited appeal.  If I must fly domestic, I want New York City!  I want Seattle!  Come on, at least Vegas.  But then this morning, out in the sunny downtown streets of Sac (with my scuffed up pedicure), I realized I quite like it here.  This part of downtown, near the capitol, is awash with public art and little cafes.  (And there’s palm trees!)  Because it’s where California’s business gets done (or, well, should be getting done), people are out.  Men with big butts in business suits, women with big lattes in splashy sundresses, groups of scrapbooking conventioneers, and that cute skinny hipster kid over there watching me take pictures.  Of course there’s a Starbucks and a Subway, but little Mom & Pop businesses abound.  The Thai food is delicious, my fave coffee spot doubles as a nightclub, and the Romanian/Hungarian/Greek soup place has a line out the door.

We all have our spots.  For me, the Capitol Garage is a must for a successful SMF layover.

We all have our spots. For me, the Capitol Garage is a must for a successful SMF layover.

Half a million people live in Sacramento — I get that it’s not some little backwater burgh.  But it’s always funny to me to come to a place that’s completely off my radar and see that life thrives in its kajillion ways.  I am reminded (constantly) of just how big the world is.  Just how many people live in it and find ways to make their mark. Through their art, their soup, or their coffee.  Even when you travel it with your eyes wide open, you only ever see specks of the world; you catch fleeting glimpses of the wonders of life in this Universe.  We had a long day of flying yesterday, and today holds Chicago in store, an operational black hole for my airline as for so many others; I was gonna need at least a glimpse of the wonders of the Universe to be able to face this day.  And I got it.  From a cute skinny hipster kid in Sacramento, of all places.

Valentine’s Gold, a Year Later

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According to the little celebratory icon WordPress sent me I think yesterday, the time has rolled around to celebrate One Whole Year of Mister Stewardess (dot com)!  I don’t have a whole lot planned by way of anniversary festivities — although this morning’s coffee’s pretty good — but I did figure that a year is long enough that we can have a quick Retrospective.  By which I of course mean I am going to post the same awesome Golden Girls Valentines as I posted last year because, well, the Golden Girls is high up the list of Things I Love, and what better day to celebrate that?

In keeping with the Valentine’s spirit, I have just, this very day, submitted what I hope will be my last round of edits on my latest Adventure in Queer Romantic Fiction.  A Model Romance is the story of how beefcake Bridger Bradford falls head over heels in love with a wild fantasy that could never come true, and what happens when it does.  Coming in March from your friends at JMS Books, A Model Romance will be my first stand-alone short, and might be the most romantic thing you’ll ever read that refers to both Old McDonald and Tuna Surprise in the opening paragraph.  When I have cover art and a release date to share, I’ll bring all the info, so do stay tuned.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you in the meantime.  Wherever you find love in your life, I hope you seize the opportunity to celebrate it.  And if you’re more in the I Hate This Hallmark Holiday camp, hang in there — tomorrow, chocolate’s gonna be on super sale at every store in town.  You can use the One Year Anniversary of this blog as an excuse to snap it all up — after all, there’s always something to celebrate!

Coffee, Tea, or… This Stuff?

Cafe au lait in Paris, France, where I first learned to love coffee

Cafe au lait in Paris, France, where I first learned to love coffee

As a rule, I am not a particularly early riser.  I’m not a milkman, we don’t have kids that need tending to, and we have the Golden Girls in the DVD player in the bedroom almost all the time — I am happy to seize any opportunity to loll in bed that may arise.  It is definitely not my habit to leap from the bed at the first sign of the new day, but when I’m working, it is kind of my preference.  I like to get my flying out of the way early in the day, before the operation has had a chance to fall apart and people have really had the chance to miss connections or otherwise be disserviced (read: before people have good reason to turn cranky).  Morning flights are generally low-key, as many passengers use the first portion of a morning flight to come to terms with the idea of being up and at ’em at what airlines are dictating to be a more and more ungodly hour.  (Yesterday, we worked a flight that started boarding at five in the morning.)  I like the pink light of the sunrise in the cabin, and I like to get home and have the day ahead of me, even if I am going to end up spending much of it napping.  (There go those Golden Girls again…)

Here’s the thing about me and morning: there’s gotta be coffee.  Not in-room brown water, not some instant powdered mess, and certainly not the swill made from grass clippings and the remnants from the chicory factory floor that it embarrasses me to serve on the airplane, but please: real coffee.  At home, this is easily achieved.  I buy yummy coffee — nothing fancy, half the time it’s from Cost Plus (sorry: World Market) — but it’s dark, it’s strong, and the dispenser-style coffee maker that Jared got me for my last birthday makes it easy (and fun!) to drink way too many cups of it every day.  Yes, at home, I look forward to getting out of bed (at a reasonably leisurely hour) and going coffee crazy.   Continue reading