Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I Always Thought Audrey Tautou Would Play Me

So, according to The Awe-Manac, it is Bad Poetry Day. What kind of reader would I be if I did not give due diligence?
Clouds unbegrudgingly flutter by as though tempting me to speak.
I am brought to tears, childhood fancies ruining the surprise.
"Where shall I go?" wearied travelers lament in a collective sigh.
This is Earth, this is the world.
The waves tumble down as if the burdens of the world unite,
churning and swishing in a melancholy bitter sweet.
The rich indigo hues a welcome respite from the puffy white,
yet unforgivingly mirroring the persistence of the unrequited.
Protection no longer, sleep a wistful fantasy.
I shun all. I am all.
Stuff I typically hate in poetry: adjectives for the sake of adjectives, manufactured imagery, melodramatic connections between one's own emotions and the fate of the world.

Stuff I love, however, about this picture: this is what I like to imagine I look like when I go to work (this seems like something I would pick out); it hearkens a modern day Elizabeth Bennett; I hope to one day be classy and fabulous.

Your assignment: Write your own bad poetry. It's funny.
Look through magazines and pick out what "looks like you."

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I Never Understood the Line, "I was thirsting for knowledge and he had a car."

Yesterday as I sat on my kitchen counter and excitedly pulled each index-carded surprise out of the mailing box, I told Andy, "I'm not suggesting that other people have friendships that are purely surface level or flaky, but I can't imagine that anyone has a medley of people in their life more interesting and compassionate and quirky than I do. My friends just have depth." His response, "You are a collector of these types of people."

The surprises of interest were part and parcel of a present that I received in the mail on Friday from a one Mr. Ben Ashby, a present that, without question, completed the best birthday week of my life. I am still blown away by the Pillow Book entry that Caroline organized and to which so many of you contributed; the homemade cards and notes from Lindsey and Ben kept me laughing for days; Step Up:3D reaffirmed my belief that synchronized dance routines can indeed change the world; I got the chance to share my lunch with Isabella on more than one occasion and then Saturday morning with Gage, pancakes, and my favorite booth; Dad has been feeling better and was able to (re)tell some stories at Grandma's birthday dinner last night; I have spent the week surrounded by hilarious people and lots of love.

I've told you how much I hate trinkets. I have neither stamp assortment nor coin display. I have no idea what happened to my cherished teddies. Nonetheless, thank you for letting me collect you.
I came in from work on Tuesday to find these on my kitchen counter. That Jackie, she's a sneaky one.
This was the best pie I've ever had in my life. Mom is the greatest.
Isabella is a present to everyone everyday.
What's a birthday party without a lil' beatboxing?
For some reason, CLT didn't want to be a part of the Turner family stupid picture extravaganza. I'll settle for this, though:)
It's nice to be known.
Love my puppies, love my boyfriend.
It's part grab bag, part really fantastic mail day.
And here she is, the Rainbow Brite doll that inspired the toy post. I love that the index card said "Rainbow Brite's hair really annoys me." Hence the scarf:)
Not only did Ben take the time to write personalized notes on each of the surprises, but he also wrote a list of "30 things I've learned from Liza." He is a superstar.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I Like The Cranberries More Than U2

From The Awe-Manac: A Daily Dose of Wonder by Jill Badonsky

"We can live with wonder if we have, or are open to, the ability to recognize the deep pleasure possible in a simple moment. But this ability is a skill like any other - it may take time and practice. We are impatient, we want to apply life-changing concepts to banish our challenges immediately. When the change is not sustained after the enthusiasm dies down, we often just give up instead of rinse and repeat. This book will teach you to forge on in trust, to practice the concepts over and over, a little at a time, imperfectly, until your mind effortlessly chooses the thought that exalts your existence rather than one that darkens it."

"Life is funny poetry. It comes with enjoyable odd tangents, good friends, and obligatory rendezvous with inconvenient shadows followed by sun salutations, wonder, and comfortable recliners from a year-end sale at Target."

"Let us dream of evanescence, and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things." - Okakura Kakuzo

"Without much thought or analysis, quickly give the day a name, a title, or a caption - randomly or methodically, imperfectly or precisely. Concern as to whether it makes sense is optional."

"The Toast of the Day is designed to celebrate those little delights you might normally take for granted."

"You will be provided with funny or sort of funny material almost every day to help you in-jest the spirit of medicinal mirth."

"Make the journey with an open heart and wonder will be your companion."

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Were this post titled by you, it would be clever and wordy. But it’s not, so all we can say is HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Miss Thirty!!!

Happy, Happy Birthday! When I reconnected with you through Pillow Book, I marveled at how easy it was to feel like your close friend. I know we haven’t actually seen each other in years, but -–despite my former skepticism about the authenticity of “virtual” friendship--I so look forward to sitting down with my cup of coffee each week to visit with you and the rest of the PB community. By letting us visit your kitchen, your garden, and your thoughts (which are always incredibly clever or wickedly funny), you have created an enchanting little world that celebrates all things whimsical, intellectual, or just worth mentioning. The reason
Pillow Book is so loved is because of your touch—you are warm, genuine, and unfailingly interesting. Thanks so much for hatching this little venture, for making me feel like a kindred spirit, and for being you! Today, I celebrate YOU and your wonderful gifts—Have a fabulous birthday and know that you are admired and adored!
Melissa Ashby

How much I enjoy reading your Pillow Book Blog! Your insight is so valuable, your creativeness, inspiring. Having you in our midst, working and living life here is a gift not only to your family, but to each and every one of us that know you.

Happy Birthday to You!! Happy Birthday to You!! Happy Birthday Dear Liza!
May all your wishes come true!
Much love, Linda B.

Alexus said
From the time you sent me the link to your blog and I read every post in one sitting, I knew that your “Random Thoughts of Very Little Significance,” were quite significant. Your posts have made me long for childhood toys, really appreciate the simple things, and figure out what “looks like me.” Not to mention, make me drool over the delicious treats you’ve made. Liza, you are such a warm person and I am privileged to get to feel the warmth that emanates from your writing.
I hope you have a wonderful birthday!

Even though it is your birthday, Liza Marie, I want to thank you for your gift of Pillow Book to me. Through your writings I am getting to know you as a young woman and reliving the special memories of your childhood. You are such an awesome person in many respects! Your intelligence is made known in the way you put your thoughts on "paper". Your ability to articulate and support your thoughts is also evident in your writing. But what I really see is your passion for life. It does not matter if it is a political cause that affects the world, a favorite toy that you loved growing up, or a childhood memory you have of you and your sisters, there is always the passion that stands out in your writing. Don't ever lose that special quality. It is what makes life worth living! I love you very much, and by the way Happy 30th birthday!
LOL, Mom

My sweet stunning birthday girl, Liza, you are inspiring and delectably witty. I love that you make me laugh when we're sitting around in mismatched running clothes, yes, we ran because we "love" to exercise, we have the same pair of cowboy boots (wasn't even planned...only due to the fact that we are country fashionistas), and you are a gut-follower no matter what you think others will say. The last one is pretty spectacular given you're only turning 30! Pillow-book has opened my eyes to even more of your beauty, expertise, and art of piddling. Our miles apart haven't always made time for each other, and I'm so blessed to be able to read your words on days we don't talk and I love that I have way too many mouth-watering recipes to make on my days off. Thank you for sharing your thoughts to the world and being my best friend. I love you. Happy Birthday, Liza Marie Turner! In honor of YOU....I'm clogging at OHCC for each patient and when they ask me why the cowboy boots and the best clog they've ever witnessed, I'll simply reply, "Well, it's my best friends 30th birthday, so it's a pretty special day." - Melissa

I must admit, it’s difficult for someone like me to express in words the impact of something like Liza’s Pillow Book. In part, this is because my emotional state is usually expressed in one of two ways—“grumpy” and “slightly less grumpy”—but also, it’s because the basic concepts underpinning the entries are frequently entirely foreign to me. I don’t read engaging and thoughtful works, unless you count monographs on nativism in nineteenth-century Maryland, and most good honest people would not. I have, at best, a fondness for the Avett Brothers. Most importantly, I’m pretty sure I’ve never eaten an avocado, and I have no plans to change that unblemished record. But if I had to sum up the impact the Pillow Book has had on me, I guess I could sum it up in one word.
Crippling, intense shame.
But let me explain in an unnecessarily circuitous fashion.
I put up a fence in my backyard about two years ago to keep my entirely too energetic dog-weasel, Linus, from escaping into the neighborhood every two hours. This process was abetted by the fact that I was using prefab parts from Lowe’s designed for any schmuck with a hammer, and I had the good fortune of already owning a hammer. When I was done, I was the proud owner of a reasonably straight fence that only made the yard 20% more ugly. But the big problem was that I had measured poorly at some point, and the gate wouldn’t close correctly, thus defeating the intended purpose of said fence. While many a lesser man would have trembled in fear, I created a truly horrifying concoction of bungie cords, ropes, and dirt that allowed me to keep the gate closed. Now, this was not exactly the kind of work that would be approved by Bob Vila,
but I had done it on my own. Today, I thought, I have reached the height of my craftsmanship. Today, I am a yeoman.
Then came the Pillow Book. And with every entry, I became increasingly aware of my own deficiencies in handiwork.
“I decided I needed a raised garden bed,” would write Liza, “so I built one out of a few cedar boards, a hacksaw, and five nails I smelted myself out of some scrap metal I found at the junkyard. That made me a little tired, so I jogged the 5.6 kilometers [Liza just seems like the kind of person that would rather say kilometers to me-ed.] to the country store and got a Diet Dr. Pepper. Then I went back home and raised a barn constructed entirely out of recycled paper and dreams.”
I was reading a blog by Folk Hipster MacGyver.
Even worse, it didn’t stop there. Liza’s the kind of person who likes to think about things. Food, for example, had a meaning beyond “tastes good” or “makes you swell up and die if you eat one pound of it at once.” Recipes could show that sometimes the getting there was just as important as the destination. The dynamics of a small-town community were something to be admired as well as understood. And dogs…well…dogs needed to get dressed up in silly costumes on occasion.
I will readily admit that I am resistant to change, and my tendencies are more towards cynicism than optimism: see above comments on “grumpiness.” But I will also acknowledge that I’ve been doing some things since the Pillow Book started that I doubt I would have otherwise. I’ve tried to work with my hands more than I once did. I’ve dabbled in cooking foods with actual ingredients (results: mixed). I occasionally sit down at the piano back home and try to do something creative just to feel like I’m keeping up with the Ben Ashbys and Alexus Tolleys of the world. I made Linus wear a hat.
So, in the end, I guess you could say the Pillow Book has been an inspiration to me, but that’s not entirely accurate. I can’t say that the content of the blog resonates with me in the way it clearly has with some of the other folk who read it; at some basic level, I’m not sure I can ever grow to love the Avetts and avocados. But the simple fact that the Pillow Book exists is, to me, an inspiration. And this is because, for me, it sums up the reasons I’ve found Liza to be an inspiring individual since the days we struggled through a semester of scintillating readings with titles like The Washington Community and The Transformation of Political Culture. She’s always looking for ways to be a better friend, family member, and human being, and I think it’s rubbed off on all of us.
So, thanks, Liza.
Oh, and happy birthday.
- Stephen Q. Pickering

Reading Liza's Pillow Book has opened my eyes to who she has become...not that I have ever felt like I didn't know her, but reading something so personal and meaningful has allowed me to experience the world through her mind. I have enjoyed each and every entry, whether they are meant to be funny, serious, or philosophical. Mostly, I like the funny ones...easy for me to understand! haha I knew Liza was incredibly intelligent, witty, and was a good writer, but these blogs have really blown my mind. I had no idea how talented she was. I'm very proud of her for putting something so personal out there for the world to enjoy. So many of our friends and acquaintances are loving her blog as well. I think it has been a wonderful avenue for Liza to reconnect with our small town and the people in it. On a personal note, I am so happy she has decided to come back "home". It's wonderful to have both my sisters and parents so close by. I love being able to share the joy and happiness Isabella brings, with them too. Isabella loves her Aunt Liza very much, and so do we. Happy 30th Birthday, Liza! We are all so proud of your accomplishments, and I know there will be only more great things to come. :)
Love TJ, Leigh Ann, and Isabella

I want to thank you for Pillow Book and for all the precious memories it has rekindled in my heart and for making me think think think as I read many of your entries. I am glad that these writings have made me have opinions again. I look forward to reading each week. Hope you are able to continue writing with your new job, which by the way so proud for you!
Love, Aunt Carolyn

I really have a difficult time writing this kind of thing. I panic with the thought, "Becreativeandthankfulandcomplimentaryallatoncerigtnow". Maybe you should just tell Liza that I have really, really enjoyed what she has written. It's been flattering to be mentioned in her blog, fun to read about her activities, and great to laugh at her sense of humor. It was even better to see her, Jackie, and Andy in person. The internet is good, but face-to-face in person is the best!! Happy Birthday Liza!!! I'm glad you were born (Thanks Jackie and Curtis!) and that you and Caroline are friends. - Linda K.

Liza’s Pillow Book blog has meant so much to me in so many ways. I have often said that after several years of watching syndicated television shows and reading trashy romance novels, I finally found something to make me think and grow as a person. I look forward to every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to see what topic has stirred Liza’s
curiosity, her wonderful wit, or really pissed her off. However, I will admit that my favorite entries are the ones where she talks about her childhood memories or the quirky things that make Burkesville unique. I have no idea how she remembers all the silly things we did as kids, but I always laugh until I cry and wish we were those same kids to lose ourselves in fun.

Now, one of my favorite stories on Liza: As my fellow classmates of 1998 will remember, one of our senior trips was to Kentucky Kingdom Amusement Park in Louisville, KY. Our first stop was to eat at The Old Spaghetti Factory. I will never forget all of us sitting at the table acting completely crazy. The server, bless his heart, brought out loaves of bread and started taking drink and dinner orders. Well, our crew acted like we had never seen a loaf of homemade bread in our lives. We ate loaf, after loaf, after loaf to the point that when our actual meal got there we couldn’t eat very much.

In addition to our bread amazement, we also realized we had spent too much money. Now, our admission tickets were already paid for (thank God), but we realized we would not have any money for coke, popcorn, or any other junk food. So Liza decides that since we love the bread so much, and we have already paid for it, we will just ask for 5 more loafs of bread and stick them in the infamous green backpack. Then, when we got hungry we would just eat the bread. The rest of us knew her to be the genius of the group and thought that was a great idea. And it was….for a while.

We get to Kentucky Kingdom and as we are entering the gate, the security guards are checking purses and backpacks. Well, Liza started freaking out! She was convinced that the guards were going to think she stole all those loaves of bread and arrest her. So, in a fit of madness, she runs to the nearest trash can and starts dumping the bread. After the last crumb was gone, she walked nervously up to the gate, let the guard check her bag, and walked into the amusement park unscathed.

I swear I have never laughed so hard in my life! - Kristi

Liza Turner has been a wonderful addition to our city. The day she walked into our store (Main Street 210) I was so struck by her enthusiasm for our local businesses. I love the fact that she grew up her and at this point of her life she found home so interesting. We love what she has done for our business and I thank God for her being with us again.

Freda Crawford/Robin Taylor

I remember receiving an email from Liza a few months ago with the subject line that said- “Something I’m trying” and it was a link to Pillow Book. Needless to say, Liza’s blog experiment has been a great success for her and those of us who love her. Pillow Book grants us a glimpse into Liza’s everyday life in Marrowbone, which is a special treat, especially for her friends that do not get to see her everyday. Thanks Liza for always being true to who you are and sharing yourself with all of your “followers.” Happy Birthday and welcome to your thirties!! Love ya, Lindsay

The big 29. Sure, some people may say 30, but their math is off. I know the truth...August 10th, 2010 is Liza Turners 29th birthday. Liza, today I celebrate the loving, caring person who sat with me when I was sick, talks with me when I am frustrated and helps me be a better man everyday. Anyone who knows you is fortunate to have you in their livesz. From you wonderful baked goodies to your thoughtful blog you bring light to our lives on a daily basis. Thank you. I could never have found a finer, more beautiful person in everyway with whom to hitch my proverbial wagon. Thank you for everything. Oh, and I'm glad we went for ice cream.
Love Andy

Dear Liza,

In a way that may be quite unbeknownst to you, your Pillow Book has seemed – to me – to deepen our friendship, and also my comfort and confidence in my own life. And now I arrive at a point, a feeling, a friendship that has evolved in a way that is rather like love…in the sense that you think you couldn’t possibly love someone any more, and then you just do, and then you can’t imagine what it felt like before. Our friendship has changed over the course of the last six months – so much for the good – thanks to Pillow Book. Thanks to you.

I will admit that when you began this journey, it shook me a little bit. I was supposed to be the writer! But I have learned that when I define myself in relation to someone else, I am left with little say as to who I am. And so reading about this life and this person that you have so precisely decided upon, I found myself compelled to define myself more from within. The process has been so fulfilling.

I think it is the coolest thing ever that you make your own pickles, and you just go build a raised bed, and you sit on the porch in the dark making silly audio recordings, and you write the most funny and warm and endearing poetry. And I feel good because I know that these most wonderful elements are “you” to the fullest, and that I am honored to be one of the lucky many to call you a friend. And while I may not fill my days with such lovely activities as these, my life is good for the things with which I decide to fill it. Thank you for giving me this greater, stronger sense of self.

Your Pillow Book has also made me realize all the more that you are simply, and absolutely, fascinating. You are one of those special people whose thoughts are like the most wonderful puzzle. I love learning about you – through Pillow Book, through your letters, through your family and friends.

You are a treasure, my forever friend. My life has been enriched by you since the day we met 12 years ago. Happy Birthday, Liza! And cheers to all the rest!
Love ya, see ya,

*To anyone who missed the invitation to contribute, please know that the omission was not intended in the least. EVERYONE is invited to continue sharing anecdotes, warm wishes, and thoughtful words in the comments section. Happy Birthday, Liza! We love you!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Sure Glad Dickie Didn't Want That Zucchini

It is settled. I am getting contrary.

1) Yesterday I typed into a google search box, "I hate sticky tags on glasses." "Surely," I thought, "someone has already written some clever blog post or newspaper article about how frustrating these are." ... But alas, I found nothing.

In lieu of a scholarly critique grounded in economic analysis, advertising practicality, and general objectivity, I thus offer my intellectually stimulating take: Sticky labels are dumb. They are dumb when on glasses, dumb when on picture frames, dumb when on figurines, dumb when on books, dumb when on CDs. I refuse to believe that companies have no other options. I refuse to believe that I must simply deal with having bits and pieces of label stuck under my fingernail. I refuse to overlook the sticky residue that laughs in the face of each washcloth and cleaning solution I naively embrace. Refuse, I say.

2) My AT&T cell phone contract ends in the next couple of days. I am looking forward to actually having service at my house in the near future. Today, while perusing Bluegrass Cellular's plans online, I also scrolled through the phone options. This is the one that caught my attention: "As Low As $19.99. If you're looking for something that doesn't perform like anything else on the market the affordable PCD Coach™ 8635 is for you. The slow speech option slows down the speech speed of the person you're talking to so they are easier to understand. The Noise Suppressor option greatly reduces background noise and improves call quality in loud situation. The larger fonts and keys make it much more accessible due to its readability. It's also Hearing Aid Compatible and has a Pitch Adjustment function that helps set a speech tone that suits your needs. Try the Coach™ today!" Who needs 3G, bluetooth, or music applications when you can see your buttons and hear your caller?

One of my favorite cookbooks is one that Mom gave me when I graduated from high school. Although she had bought Leigh Ann and me copies when we were very young, she had saved them until we were at an age that might actually necessitate us cooking for ourselves. I love looking through it and seeing familiar names. I love that it has splatters of various doughs and batters on occasionally torn pages. I love that it includes both my mom's and my own handwriting on recipes that we felt needed some "tweaking." I love that it will always remind me of my mom.

Zucchini Bread
Makes: 2 loaves (I did one loaf and then muffins)
3 eggs
1 c. oil
2 c. sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla
2 c. grated zucchini (Thank you Mrs. Joyce for bringing the giant zucchini by the library!)
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 c. nuts
*I also added white chocolate chips, coconut, and 2 tbsp. plain yogurt (and cut back on the oil a bit).

Glaze: 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar, 2 tsp. water, 2 tbsp. melted butter, 1 tsp. vanilla

Mix eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla. Add zucchini. Mix dry ingredients and slowly add to mixture. Bake at 350 for one hour. After the bread has cooled, top with glaze.
I had some extra zucchini so I decided to try zucchini brownies as well. I understand if this sounds odd to you, but trust me, the zucchini serves only to make the brownies more moist. I found this recipe at, but split the ingredients in half and baked in an 8X8" pan.

Zucchini Brownies
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 1/2 c. white sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 c. shredded zucchini
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
A little trick I learned from Mom: fold aluminum foil in half; cut a square that is roughly 3/4 the size of your pan (remember when you were in elementary school and would cut a heart out of construction paper?); unfold aluminum foil and put over the top of the pan. This will keep the edges from getting too done while the center cooks.

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 9x13 inch baking pan. In a large bowl, mix together the oil, sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla until well blended. Combine the flour, 1/2 cup cocoa, baking soda and salt; stir into the sugar mixture. Fold in the zucchini and walnuts. Spread evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until brownies spring back when gently touched.
* I topped mine with some icing left over from Leigh Ann's birthday cake.

Monday, August 2, 2010

If I Ever Buy Myself a Guitar, It Will Be Gray

The August chapter of When Wanderers Cease to Roam begins as follows...

"When Summer cools down, becomes less like July and a little bit more like September, the days feel so much more eventful. It's not that so much happens in August - nothing much really happens in any one month - but whatever does happen in August feels like it might be the last happening of its kind. It's the Last Chance effect of the end of Summer, and every last little thing is eventful.

Especially at dawn. I take this last chance to walk through my Village in the hour before dawn and in the early light I feel like I'm the original tourist in this strange, wonderful place that is my every day life. I walk in the cool remnants of the night so I can hear myself think. The only part of an August day that has peace and quiet is the hour before dawn. Once the sun rises, the bugs warm up, and the racket of the multitudes drowns out my own thoughts.

So I get up before the bugs do. In these early dawn moments is where you find August. Catch it while you can."
I love this page. I love the imagery it unfailingly creates and the feelings of intrigue and yet, comfortableness, it inspires. I love the idea of August as a foreign country. I love the sense of seasonal change that ever so often subtly catches my attention. I love being enveloped in an author's world.

So, I choose tonight to envelope you in mine. My experience, as you will find, however, was a little different than Swift's.
Dew on the car, grass, clothesline, spaghetti squash, blah, blah, blah...a sentiment perhaps more clearly relayed in the video (the screen is supposed to be black; my hope is that the audio alone will do the enveloping).