Pages

7.31.2012

MADE TO BE RECYCLED



I don't know about you, but I recently got a new phone book delivered to my porch. Two things I hate to see on my porch or attached to the handle of my screen door; phone books and literature from the Jehovah's Witnesses. I never look at or use either!

My newly delivered phone was obviously published and distributed to replace the old one. Why does something new really need to be made when the old one is not used or worn, possibly outdated but most definitely still in great physical condition?

I feel sorry for phone book companies or divisions of media companies that produce phone books. I wonder if they feel like a blacksmith did as the engine roared to life modernizing a way of life forever. Phone books are a mute and stagnant form of information. I don't know many under the age of 60 that use them.

If I want to find a restaurant I go to Urbanspoon or one the other myriad of sites and apps available to get restaurant numbers and addresses. The web gives instant and three-dimensional views of information that a one dimensional phone book cannot. If I am looking for a business or person's number I go to www.411.com. No searching through a book that I wouldn't have with me if I were say in the car. No searching through a phone book that is already out dated with information before it is bound and delivered.

If I were a business with an advertising budget, I would NOT waste ad dollars on a yellow page or larger display listing in a paper phone book. Archaic, small pooled and a waste of money! I want my dollars used in the largest arena possible! That arena is no longer print phone books.

I wonder how many people like me get that "new" phone book only to never take the plastic sleeve off and put it in the trash or recycling bin immediately. Mine never made it indoors. They don't burn well either. I've tried that before.  Too bad I can't find an alternative use for them. Gerbil bedding maybe? Too bad I don't have one.

7.29.2012

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

My husband works for a newspaper as Director of Digital and Audience Media.  We have discussions about content in publications from time to time.  Sometimes heady ones like; should local newspapers focus more on local news and leave national news to the big publications, or how to come up with smart titles for stories and why that pulls in a reader. 

Newspapers and magazines have a distinct focus and thrust.  I once had someone read my blog and say, "You need a formatted subject matter, a specific thing you write about."  That might be true.  I mean I do go to "Runner's World" magazine because I know it's all about running and I want to know about it.  There is no "set" thing that I write about in this blog.  It is willy nilly, free flowing, sometimes serious, many times ridiculous, once in awhile probably too transparent, other times mostly about the simple nothings of life and my spin on them.

A friend of mine used to tell me that they loved my honest and unusual perspective on most things.  I think really I don't have more unusual thoughts than most, I just speak them more freely.  Though all of humankind is uniquely and distinctively different from each other, we are bound with a great many strands of similarities though not usually outward.  We feel, we think, we experience many of the same things though partly through a different lens.

Some days when I sit to write a blog post I have had an experience, a thought, an emotion that prompts a subject.  Other days, literally I sit with not one solid thought or angst that is propelling itself powerfully out of me.  I really don't know how it works, maybe much like faith as well, but something comes out.  Now that something is sometimes not spectacular.  But a subject of some sort has been covered, addressed, ranted about, lamented over, described, or sarcastically looked at. 

Doug, my husband, says he doesn't understand how I can sit in front of a screen with no thoughts and create something new almost every day.  Me neither!  It is both a mystery and like jumping into a pool of cold water - exhilarating.  Newspapers have a bracket, a beat, a definition.  That can be a great way to create too - subject at hand and story written.  I have written from that perspective before.  It can be freeing to focus all your thoughts just on the product, not having to come up with the idea as well.

I suppose hypothetically I could make this blog more defined, more focused for a certain target audience, whoever the hell that would be!   My problem is that, a bit like "Seinfeld", I think there is humor and pain in everything and sometimes nothing.  So, I guess this blog does have a premise, a distinct boundary.  That is if everything and nothing is distinct.

7.26.2012

THE LONG SAD GOODBYE


At some point in most people's working world they retire.  It is an inevitable part of aging.  Many times retirement does not mean the end of work, but the alteration of the necessity to have to. In the animal world, when an animal reaches its finale of usability, they are put out to pasture.  I for one am glad that reference isn't used as readily in describing the close or culmination of one's working career.

I have referenced before in other blog posts my absolute love of Glen Campbell.  Some of you readers don't even really fully know who Glen Campbell is.  You are just too young.  So whether you like, know or value him or not, he has a rich musical background.  Maybe you saw him perform on the Grammy's this year.  Possibly for those that were clueless to who he was or the magnitude of musical history before you center stage, you opted for a raid-the-refrigerator moment or changed the channel. 

Glen is now 76 years old.  That's not an ancient or ready to be put out to pasture age at all.  We went to his Goodbye Tour concert last evening.  Knowing that it had been made public that he has Alzheimer's and that this would be his last hooray, his last tour, I didn't want to miss this musical icon as his place in history slowly faded away. 

Glen was a much sought after studio musician in the early 1960's and was part of an elite group of studio musicians that became known as "the Wrecking Crew". During that period he played on recordings by Bobby Darin, Rick Nelson, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, The Monkees, Nancy Sinatra, Merle Haggard, Jan and Dean, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and Phil Spector.  He played studio backgrounds on albums for the Beach Boys and toured with them filling in for Brian Wilson.  Instrumentally he was an amazing guitarist and banjoist.  

From 1969 - 1972 he hosted The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour which highlighted musicians in a variety hour platform.  He went on to star with John Wayne in the movie, "True Grit" as well as other acting gigs.  The song, "Like A Rhinestone Cowboy" was his largest selling single.  While "Southern Nights" made him a cross-over hit.  He won four Grammy's for the songs, "Gentle On My Mind" and "By The Time I Get To Phoenix".  He was a very talented musician with a long career.

Sitting in the venue last night realizing it was the end of an era was a bit sentimental for me.  As Glen walked onto the stage the entire stadium stood in a standing ovation honoring a 50 year musical veteran.  He opened the show with "Gentle On My Mind".  As he played and sang it became blaring apparent that his Alzheimer's was far more advanced than anyone in the audience thought.  His band and 3 kids who played with them tried to cover, but you could clearly see his confusion.  He forgot lyrics at times even though they were being displayed on a monitor on the stage floor for him.  He started wrong songs, faced his band as much as he did the audience, said the same thing between every song, played some wrong stretches on the guitar.  The fade out of the disease was already taking its toll.

I fought back tears for Glen and his family understanding Alzheimer's as it ravaged both my grandmother and great-grandfather.  But my thoughts went farther than Glen.  All we do in life comes to an end eventually no matter the awards, the success, the talent, it fades away.  We move from a wide-circled life to a small-circled world.  One day part of who defined us is gone.  It happens to every person on earth if we die in a chronological normal aging order way.  I felt the brevity of life sitting there.  I felt great sadness, melancholy, and compassion.  It seemed that I was witnessing an almost private family moment on stage as Glen's wide-circled life was becoming smaller and smaller. 

There was a sort of reverence and hush in the audience as he played and sang.  It was partly like watching someone fall down over and over again trying to get to the finish line of a race.  I missed his powerful voice and impeccable musical instrumentation.  There was a collective audience grace for his performance and lack and a gratitude that we all got to see him one last time.  We both said our goodbyes really.

7.25.2012

"YOU CAN'T HELP BEING BEAUTIFUL!"



My husband will say to me, "You can't help being beautiful can you?"  It is a laughable statement to me.  I showed him my third grade picture, the epitome of a horrific school picture, illness (I had mono that year), an unflattering haircut, hounds tooth dress, teeth in desperate need of braces, and not even the smallest desire to care how I looked.

One of my nieces, after finishing her freshman year in college, returned home and contracted mono.  Her normal peppy, bright-eyed, exuberant ways were subdued.  The sparkle in her eyes and face showed the effects of mono.  I wanted to encourage her that she would feel better in a few weeks.  Having had mono both in third grade and again in my adult world, I knew that you look about like you feel, like crap! 

I emailed her my third grade picture to let her know that I had her beat in looking bad from the effects of mono.  She giggled.  Who wouldn't!


I looked like the poster child for the Stop Child Abuse campaign, in need of massive doses of sun, a blood transfusion and orthodontics involving some sort of head gear. 

I hated third grade.  I did not like Mrs. Anglemyer or the way she combed our hair right before school pictures.  Really, did I want or need her to comb my hair into the way she wanted!  No third grader, boys included, wanted their teacher messing with their hair. I didn't like throwing up on my red boots or having to be in the hospital either.  And who puts a pale, skinny, bucky-beaver toothed tomboy in a hounds tooth dress - my mom!  I was just out of sorts in more ways than one in my third grade school picture.  I refer to that year as the "Lost Year".

I'm going to guess my mom made that dress.  She made a great many of my clothes when I was young, which I hated with a deep white-hot passion.  Much like I hated that she made cakes from scratch when I wanted a cake mix one for my birthday with icing from a can.  

My Aunt was a hairdresser who cut our hair.  I am not blaming her for the way I looked.  Seriously, look at what she had to work with!  How could anyone have made me look good in third grade.  Shag cuts were all the rage in 1973.  But my picture is proof that all trends do not work for all people!

I eventually got over mono.  Summer came and my skin was exposed to the sunshine giving me some healthy color.  I donned braces for four years helping to stop my sisters from calling me Bucky Beaver.  My mom morphed from sewing most of my clothes to buying them from Sears or Quality Farm and Fleet, which was merely a lateral fashion move only!   And, by the time I was a young adult I got a better handle on haircuts that were flattering and rarely wore a dress.  

7.24.2012

A DIFFERENT KIND OF HOUSE CALL


Do you remember when only a select few were experts in their given field? 
Now it seems we are all self-proclaimed, Internet educated experts in any given subject.

Remember when doctors did the doctoring?  They had the education, the training, the access to continuing education.  They were sort of like the great and mighty Oz.  We might have known we didn't feel good, something was drastically wrong, but we relied on their knowledge and smarts to get us better.  That is not the case now, both in good and bad ways.  There are probably more hypochondriacs created by webmd.com than ever before.  But it has also given people access to information that may have improved their life, or even saved it.

I have a weird smell in my house right now.  Try as we might, we have not been able to locate the culprit to its strong and pungent ammonia smell.  No, we don't have a cat or dog.  We don't have carpet either, all hardwood floors.  It started several weeks ago with a faint undefinable elusive odor.  I passed it off as house scents.  Houses have scents you know.  But, in the past couple weeks it has grown to walking into a wall of stink kind of odor.  My sister and brother-in-law were here last week, they more than noticed.  It has been a relentlessly hot and humid summer and our central air conditioning really hasn't been turned off since summer hit.

Now that people entering our house have noticed, and my husband has gotten concerned about whether or not it could be detrimental our health, we decided to leave no option uncovered.  After trying things like; checking the furnace blower and duct work for a decaying mouse and coming up empty, changing both furnace filters, dumping a bucket of bleach water down the basement floor drain and buying enough air freshener products to start a speciality shop, I turned to the Internet.  I would become the expert.

Google answered my causes of ammonia smell in a house with a host of sites listing things like; ammonia cleaning chemicals and cat urine.  One site mentioned that possibly a cat had snuck in the house!  Those were both negative.  I went a bit further in my investigation to garner information which might lead to the apprehension and annihilation of this obnoxious odor.   Could central air conditioning cause an ammonia smell in a building?  That search led me to a HVAC heating and cooling site which said that my trap on my AC might either have started to grow mold and bacteria or be partially clogged.  Well, this might be worth a service call.

Armed with that world wide web information, we decided I should call the husband of a friend of mine who owns a heating and cooling business.  It's always a good idea to get the central air unit serviced anyway.  We could rule out the possibility of mold and bacteria in the condenser or trap.  

I didn't want to show all my knowledge to Lee, the heating and cooling owner, or act like I knew.  But, I had some information, some lingo I had picked up on my Google search of ammonia smelling houses and their causes.  Eventually I confessed that after all the things we had tried, I turned to the source of all knowledge, the Internet, and found out that maybe there was an issue with bacteria or a sluggish drain trap.  We would get it serviced just to be on the safe side.

When I go to my family doctor I usually say something to him about what I researched or read on the Internet.  It's usually about this or that health issue or solution that is being offered that relates to my health.  I didn't go to school to be a medical doctor, but between living in a body with some health issues and reading, I am a self-proclaimed expert.  Though I don't have M.D. after my name, I can readily and easily type webmd.com in a search box.

It seems that the wide open Autobahn of information has given us all access to some of the things that only a select few in their fields had.  I don't know if that makes their jobs easier or harder.  When a professional, trained in their field, hears a patient, a client, a student say, I googled it, they probably quit listening at that exact moment.  We have just enough information, combined with no experience in the field, to be a sassy mouthed amateur.

What's the saying; you're only a expert if other people say you are, not if you say you are.

7.23.2012

JUST OK


Traversing I-80/90 this past weekend, I pulled into a lane that read IZOOM or CASH.  I've been meaning to purchase an IZOOM but just haven't gotten around to it.  It's almost like a roll of the dice when pulling up to an automated toll booth - which lane is going to move faster.  That matters to me.  That's why I take the toll road - my need for speed and maximizing time from point A to point B.

I pulled in behind a motorcycle pulling a small matching turtle trailer.  This will be fast, I thought to myself since I was next in line ready to snatch my ticket and gun it.  The motorcycle lingered and lingered.  I noticed that he had his arm up high and was waving his IZOOM in his hand hoping that the reader would scan it allowing the mechanical arm to raise.  Well, he is smarter than I, he bought an IZOOM.

Only for a few minutes did I hold the he-is-smarter-than-me thought till it turned to, give it up buddy and take a ticket and pay the $3.00 upon exiting I-80/90!!  He obviously didn't hear my loud and raging thoughts which had now erupted into audibles in the car.  He continued to back up and hold his arm up, then pull forward and repeat the insane motions.  IT IS NOT GOING TO WORK MAN!

By now people coming up behind me had seen the commotion and that the lane was totally stopped.  Everyone either backed up or slowed down and switched automated lanes.  Why didn't I?  I think I was both amused and annoyed at the goings on of this gentleman, his inability to know that he was now a ginormous wrench in the cog of fluid movement through the ticket booth.  I too was curious as to just how long it would take him to abandon his futile attempt and grab a ticket and pay cash up his exit.

It went on and on.  I could take it no more.  Having only twenty dollar bills, I asked my daughter if she had 3-$1 bills.  She willingly gave them to me as I exited the car and walked up to his motorcycle.  I hit the take the ticket button and handed him the ticket and my $3 cash.  "Sir, please take this ticket and $3."  Maybe it was possible he had no cash on him.  Doubtful, but possible. 

He was in his early 60's with what appeared to be a granddaughter riding with him.  Now what happened next left me wondering why people are 1) so stupid and, 2) unbelievably ungrateful.  His response to me was, "ok".  OK!  I wasn't looking to be named the next Mother Theresa for a kind deed partly rooted in impatience, but that was unbelievable!

How would I have responded had someone done that for me?  Well, I think I would have said something like;  Oh thanks so much but I'll just get a ticket and pay cash.  Sorry if I held up the line.  Or, if I really didn't have cash with me possibly; Wow that is sweet of you!  I didn't have cash with me and couldn't get this pass to work.  You don't know what a kind deed that is to me.  Sorry to have slowed you down.

He said ok with no emotion.  Nothing more, nothing less.  He didn't look at me in the eyes.  He didn't say it as though I had to talk him into taking it either.  He merely took what I held, said ok and drove away as I walked back to the car.  I wondered why.  Why he lacked social skill?  Why he possibly took something that he could have done himself?  Why he seemed oblivious to everyone and everything around him?

I thanked my daughter for giving up her $3 to some stranger that didn't even say thanks.  I also thanked her for giving it up so we could get through the toll booth faster!

7.22.2012

A PICTURE'S WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS

My daughter turns 25 in 3 days.  For her birthday she requested that her and I go to a concert at a place called Mojoes in Joliet, Illinois.  For you movie buffs out there, Joliet was where Jake (John Belushi) from the movie, "The Blues Brothers" was in jail.  They called him Joliet Jake.

If you are planning a trip to Chicago I would highly suggest you by-pass Joliet.  It is a rough, depressing, economically challenged south side suburb of Chicago.  The movie paints a pretty accurate picture of Joliet.   

I love music.  So does Hannah.  The concert was billed as a three-some; Katelyn Tarver, Parachute and The Cab.  She wanted to see The Cab and I love Parachute.  It was one of those standing room only venues.  I was feeling a bit old.

Across from Mojoes, the concert bar, was a restaurant called Thayers where we dined waiting and watching the huge line that had formed outside of Mojoes for the start of the concert.  As we sat down, Hannah noticed 4 guys sitting at a table across the restaurant.  "The Cab", she quietly said to me, "That's The Cab eating over there." 

Neither her nor I are celebrity stalkers.  I don't care about autographs, etc.  People are people are people to me.  That does not diminish say the President of the United States, Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Tebow or The Cab.  But, they are humans first who happen to do things that garner public attention.  I don't really want to feed their egos, or conversely if be the case, disrupt any attempt they may be having in public to have a normal meal or shopping experience, etc.

After much discussion, searching our Smart phones for pictures, we determined with more than 70% confidence that it was The Cab.  I asked Hannah if she wanted me to go over and talk to them, get her picture with them.  Yes, came her excited reply.  I am not shy.  In fact, conversating is probably one of my strong suites brushed with a bit of boldness.  And, it was her birthday so I was going to give her something she really wanted if I could.

As we approached the table, I apologized for interrupting their dinner, shared that I thought I knew who they were, and that it was my daughter's 25th birthday.  Would they take a picture with her?  They were gracious and warm, one of them (the blonde) was engaging and invited Hannah to sit down in their midst at the table.  I snapped the picture.  Then, in typical I-am-a-touchy-feelie person style, I touched each of their shoulders telling them I was old enough to be their mom and to sing well.  Hannah and I were feeling like we just got away with something sweet.  The Cab was one of her favorite bands. 

Moments later a couple sat down by us in the restaurant.  You could tell by her pink hair and their ridiculous style that they too were concert goers.  I leaned over and pointed out to them The Cab seated just across the way.  The pink haired girl very matter-of-factly replied, "That is not The Cab.  We just saw them outside."

Hannah and I looked at each other in horror.  Was this four-some of men even a band?  Did they just play along with me coming over to the table, much like my son-in-law did while in China and people came up to him for his "Bon Jovi" autograph?  Oh geez!

As we left the restaurant and stood in line across the street to get in the concert, we decided that if they were concert goers and came out of the restaurant and got in line we would laugh hysterically from embarrassment.  The four guys came of the restaurant and instead of getting in line, walked around the back of the concert venue for entrance in the back.  They were a band indeed, but not The Cab.  It was Parachute, the band that I loved!

Hannah tweeted to Parachute, "Thanks for the birthday wishes and putting up with my crazy mom!"

I had wasted this birthday of my daughter thing, could be your mother speech thinking it was The Cab.  Hannah got her picture with my group!  We were thrown off by the numbers; The Cab has 4 band members (the number sitting at the table) while Parachute has 5 band members.  The Parachute members eating included all of the band except the lead singer.

The concert was deafeningly loud, but good.  We had a great place to stand for 3 1/2 hours.  We both got to hear bands we loved.  Hannah got her picture taken with one of my favorite groups.   I loved her 25th birthday experience we had together.  I was the oldest person in attendance, barring the one big, bald fat security guard.  And, I have finally regained my temporary hearing loss.

Hannah and Parachute at Thayers Restaurant in Joliet, Illinois
The picture is devoid of me!




7.19.2012

THE LIFESPAN OF A BAR OF SOAP


I feel like I buy soap overly frequently.  I don't know the normal length a bar of soap should last in a shower with only two people using it daily.  Are there statisticians out there that track that? There are variables that probably contribute to its quick life span; whether the shower water hits it while it rests in the soap dish, how dirty/sweaty/stinky I am, how many times my OCD causes me to wash my underarms, the fact that after I lather up my legs to shave them the shower water wants to wash it off causing me to have to reapply lather occasionally.  

Because I inherited the sweat gene from my father's side of the family, most days in the summer, after our evening walk, I have to at least wash up a bit.  That probably helps to contribute to the short lifespan of a bar of soap in our house.  I freely admit that I use far more soap and toilet paper than does my husband.  Most women use more toilet paper than do guys.  A fact that is determined by the difference in our body parts and functions thereof.

Soap is very subjective - both the scent and feel.  I do like Dove's Mens Care Soap, but feel it's a bit too strong.  We use Dove go fresh burst with nectarine and white ginger.  I've tried all of Dove's scents and like the mildness but clean feel and smell it leaves on my skin.  Plus, the name implies that in a pinch, if there was no food available, that quite possibly one could eat this bar of soap.  (Kids don't try this at home!  That was just written sarcasm.)

Soap is a bit pricey if you ask me.  You add that to the other hygienic staples that we buy by the pallet; toilet paper, Tom's toothpaste (I brush my teeth probably 4 times a day), tampons, and hairspray, CHA-CHING!  At my local super store, a six pack of Dove nectarine and white ginger soap can run $7-$8.  So, when recently it was clearanced at $5.88 a pack, I bought 4 six packs.  That is 24 bars of soap. 

Even as I type the number 24 I feel as though it should have lasted most of the rest of my natural life span.  It did not.  We blew through 24 bars of soap like a kid eating cotton candy on a stick.  I hate that I have to keep buying a product whose constant need in my life is always there.  I will have to keep buying soap in this volume until I; 1) come to the end of my life, 2) slow my usage back when I am 90 and refuse to bathe or shower daily, 3) convert to an Amish lifestyle or become Eastern European where showering and cleanliness is not as high a priority and stink is a way of life.

My daughter, when in 4th or 5th grade, didn't have a love of showering and soap.  I don't know how many times I would send her back in the shower to actually use the bar of soap.  "Showers that involve the true usage of soap take more than one minute," were my words to her back then.  She eventually grew up and understood the value of soap around 6th grade.

In our house I get panicked if I only have one bar of soap.  Maybe if I really knew how long one bar of soap lasted I would know I had time, something like 1 bar of soap = 3 days.  I think I will track the next new bar of soap's lifespan - how many times used and how many days it lasts. 

Presently I have one unopened six-pack of Dove soap.  I feel a bit nervous.

7.18.2012

WAR AND JUNE BUGS


Growing up there were several stories in my family that surfaced over and over again that made my skin crawl.  They gave me the hebejebes.  When these stories were told horror movie music would spring to life in my head.  You know, the type of music where you know something bad is soon to happen - death is but a sudden make-you-jump scream away.  Now whether they were 100% true, a mix of fact and fiction, or a version of the game telephone where, after being told numerous times, they take on a skewed version of truth, I'm not sure.  The only thing I was sure about was the creepy hang-on-my-spirit aftermath they left in my kid sized mind and heart.

My dad told a story about when he was in the army stationed in Fort Ord, California in the late 1950's.  Outside the mess tent entrance hung a light (picture MASH and those curved lights).  Like happens in most warm climates with insects and lights, the bugs were drawn to the light above the entrance to the mess tent.  According to my dad's story, a solider walking to dinner was talking with a comrade when, upon close proximity to the mess tent, a huge June beetle flew in his mouth and lodged in throat.  My father says that soldier choked to death from a blocked airway.  No one was able to dislodge the huge beetle with tentacle like legs that affixed itself inside his throat.

From henceforth, whenever I went outside in the summer June bug months, I tried to keep my mouth closed.  It was hard to do since I had quite the overbite in my pre-braces years.  I was fearful that if it could happen to that soldier, then it could happen to me too.  I had a horrible fear of dying from suffocation of a June bug in my airway.  It was an irrational but palpable fear.

At 6:30 a.m. yesterday morning I went out on the front step to read the morning paper.  Laying on the porch on its back was a humongous dead June bug.  Immediately I could hear Alfred Hitchcock music and felt my throat tighten.  June bugs were in full season now!  Its size was a bit alarming but gave validity to the story my dad told.

It is said that Abraham Lincoln wrote a letter to a mother who had lost three sons in battle.  He acknowledged the sacrifice she had made for her country.  I don't know what letter was sent, or what was said to the family of that young soldier who choked to death on a June bug.  They too probably never looked at a June bug the same either.  

War deaths I understand.  But human loss by a June bug, both disturbing and downright creepy!  Keep your mouth closed around outdoor lights at night.

7.17.2012

DO YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN?



If you're not like me, if you don't think these thoughts,
 then I'm not normal. Please tell me I'm normal!

If that's not a need for validation statement I don't know what is. It's true though.

Deep at the heart of all of us is the need to be validated. It's why we crave love. It's why we seek attention. It's why we seek power. It's why we seek success. It's why we want riches. It's why we sometimes cross boundaries.

My husband recently commented about someone in my world that loves to talk to me. My response to him was, "Yeah she does. I validate the hell out of her. Who doesn't want that.”  It's one of the reasons that people feel comfortable with me. I leave them with that feel good validated kind of feeling.

It's the thing that a kid seeks from those around them. Love is a form of validation. Encouragement is a vehicle of validation as well. That validation gives us our footing, some of our confidence, an invincibleness. Validation is a bit like a mile marker on a highway; it helps us know we are ok, moving in the right direction.

Some years back someone asked me why I said, do you know what I mean, all the time, especially when I was explaining something or teaching a class. I had to think through why I did that. It dawned on me. It was a form of wanting validation that people were connecting to what I was saying. I didn't want to needlessly say things that no one tracked on. Their feedback validated what I was saying was meaning something to the listener; that there was not just comprehension but understanding as well.

That too is part of why we go to counselors. I like to say that it helps to set our crazy loose. What I mean by that is, if we say our thoughts out loud we find that we aren't really crazy after all. What we think and feel is pretty universal. Most of the time. Yes, counselors help us order our thoughts and feelings. They give us tools to change ingrained patterns of thoughts or reactions. But mostly they validate that our "crazy" is really somewhat normal. That is one of the deepest cravings we have in life.

Unfortunately there are adults functioning at less than whole because they are still seeking validation from a parent(s). It's tough to want that validation from parents and not get it. It can be a lonely road. That's when we have to find other avenues to get that validation. We have to develop a pseudo-family of sorts, a support system from people who can willingly and freely give us the deepest longing we have - validation.

We love when we say something to someone and they "get it", not just verbally, but they feel what we feel, have experienced it, thought it, done the same thing, reacted similarly in similar circumstances. Empathy is a great validator.

Do you know what I mean?

7.16.2012

THE LAST IMPRESSION



It’s not really about how you start.  It’s more important how you end.
I used to lead worship in several different churches.  Just like about anything else we do in life repeatedly, there are times when you are more in sync, it flows better, it is seamless.  Other times, we have cooking flops, fashion faux pas’, off days, disharmony.  Playing live music is the same. 

When you work with volunteers in a church setting you have varying degrees of talent.  Some of that musical talent is amazing.  And, other times it is mediocre, a sort of I played 4th chair tuba in the 7th grade band talent.   When I would introduce a new song for the worship team to learn, some music was easier to get in a musical cohesive groove with.  Other times, it was like rubbing your stomach, marching and patting your head all at the same – discombobulated and disjointed!
One church in particular was extremely low in the musical talent pool category.  I had to make do with what I had; a 75 year old piano player that could only play hymns, an organist that was willing to try about anything I threw at her, and myself singing and leading from the keyboard.  Many times I felt like the leader of a three ring circus. 

Our human capacity to retain anything is relatively short.  Our attention spans and brains will only retain about half of a 20 minute speech.  If you are an interviewee it is always better to be the last one, leaving the last impression on the interviewer which stays with them.  I’ve started runs that I have wanted to stop at the half-mile mark.  The start was slow, rough and not fluid.  But some of those rough start runs have ended as great runs.  The end of it much better than the start, and not just because it was finally over! 
The news has been filled recently with the Penn State Assistant Coach Jerry Sandusky boy sex scandal.  It is spilling over and has cast a shadow over the late great Papa Joe Paterno, former head coach who recently died.  He held sway and command over the Penn State Football program for almost 60 years.  In those years the program and his tenure seemed marked by integrity and solidness.  At the end of his life though it was surrounded with shadows, doubt and scandal.  It’s how we end that really matters.  It’s the last taste, impression, legacy we leave behind us.

I used to tell my three-ring circus worship team, “If we end all on the same note that is what matters.  Leave the crowd with a great ending and they will forget if the song had some rough spots!”
First impressions matter, don’t get me wrong.  But, in life ultimately it’s where we end that really matters, smacks success or failure, bitterness or grace, struggle or redemption.  The race is not won at the start line.  Find the right note to end on.  Leave them wishing for more.

7.15.2012

VORACIOUS VANITY




“I am vain, or once was, and one of my vanities was to feign that I was not.”

Confession time; I am vain. Oh, I try to disguise it, deflect it, play down its place of prominence in my life, but it is there irregardless of my willingness to admit it or not.

I don't really remember being overly vain when I was young. At times I was insecure and unsure of my looks which is a morphed form of vanity. That though is something most kids, teens and young adults traverse through en route to coming into themselves. But this obsessive vanity I have presently is disturbing, unsettling and yet common. My husband has this affliction too, a fact that we both discovered as we confessed our vanity to one another today.

It would seem the older I get the more time, work and energy it takes to get lesser and more fleeting results. For instance, our metabolism slows as we age thus taking more exercise and less caloric intake to maintain the status quo of our bodies. That is just depressing. Gravity is a principle at work in life all around us, bodies included. But when it begins to take hold of our skin and flesh, eventually dragging us to the grave, its ultimate goal, we flail like a four-year old thrown off the high dive into the deep end of the pool.

My two sisters and my daughter have always teased me that I will fight aging with all I have in me. That I will age kicking and screaming and fighting. I really hate to admit that they are right, but they are. I have begun the fight.

It really goes against most of who I am to be vain. My simpleton, pared down ways don't shout vanity. What I am finding though is that aging hurtles at you like a meteorite from the sky. Vanity is a form of self-protection, self-preservation from the meteorite headed toward us. Described in that way it makes vanity seem well, less overtly vain.

My sisters and I were talking about vanity some years back, and if we could have any plastic surgery procedure done what would it be. I think one of my sisters said she would have liposuction (what women wouldn't!). I can't recall back then what I said, but now at 46 years old, I would have anything that has fallen pulled back up and staple-gunned. I don't need to be Dolly Pardon, but I would like what is naturally mine back in its original place and packaging.

Of vanity, I couldn't have said it better myself...

“Vanity is becoming a nuisance, I can see why women give it up, eventually. But I'm not ready for that yet.”
Margaret Atwood, Cat's Eye

“There comes a time when you look into the mirror and you realize that what you see is all that you will ever be. And then you accept it. Or you kill yourself. Or you stop looking in mirrors.”
Tennessee Williams

7.12.2012

PERSONAL SPACE - BIRDS INCLUDED!

I just up and went to the beach today.  Alone.   Sand and sun was calling.   I would have preferred company, but really sometimes alone can be good too. The beach I go to is a public beach.  It's accessible to anyone, which is good.  And it's accessible to everyone, which is bad.   Bad comes in all forms.

I got there about 10:30 a.m.  There was pickings of people scattered here and there.  It was definitely not full swing yet at the beach.  It was just the way I liked it; spread out and quiet.  Within the hour the masses arrived.  I purposely went to the end of the sparse population and laid out my area; beach chair to sit in and an old sheet to lay down on to sun my posterior side.  

They say we have a personal space radius depending on the closeness of the relationship we have with the people in contact with us.  Intimate distance allows between 6 - 18 inches between us and those whom we are intimate with. Personal distance allows 2.5 - 4 feet between us and close family or close friends.  Social distance, 4 - 12 feet, is for acquaintances, co-workers, people you do business with, etc.  And public distance, 12-25 feet, is typically used in situations like public speaking, teaching, and the like.  To that last category of public space I must add two places I feel it is appropriate to use that distance divider; the beach and between restaurant tables! 

Before I could fully wake up from my beach nap, I could hear the throng that now surrounded me.  A young family with two small children to one side of me had graciously left the 12-25 foot polite public distance between us.  Kudos to them!  A mother with 5 teenagers moved into my den, close to my feet.  She and the teenage girls put up their entourage a bit too close for my comfort and my need for quiet, alone and space.  I found myself getting tense. 

I watched people.  I watched a young couple with a baby no more than 2 months old.  The grandparents were with them and they were standing right in front of me at water's edge taking pictures of Johnny's first outing to Lake Michigan.  No doubt an event to be scrap booked after their photo shoot ended.  The new mom had two tattoos (which is beachwear 101 nowadays!); a flower on her upper left back and a panda on her lower right back/hip area.  Why a panda?  No logical sense to it.  She wasn't Asian, though maybe her family owned a Panda Express Restaurant.  What would make someone like her get a PANDA tattoo!  I found it humorous. 

To my left were a grouping of sea gulls that had been lazily hanging in the general too-close-to-me vicinity since I had gotten there.  I think technically they were there before any of us being it is their natural habitat.  Adults know not to run at them or feed them.  Kids don't.  So, a group of young kids ran into the flock of birds.  Up they flew.  I felt something slight on my head.  Thinking it was a bird's wing that had grazed my head, I reached up to touch my pony tailed head.  As I drew my hand back it was covered in bird shit.  One of those startled birds, chased into the air by the kids, had covered my head with poop along with the head rest of my beach chair.  Birds, and people, who did not have the right to be in my intimate distance space were definitely encroaching!

Maybe there was more to this personal space thing than I originally imagined.  I don't like to be crowded in my nesting spot on the beach.  But obviously neither do the sea gulls. 


7.11.2012

THE FACE OF POVERTY

The face of poverty seems large.  Whether it has changed from when I was a kid, or the awareness of it is before us more now, maybe some of both, it is ever present.  Real or perceived, the increasing population into poverty or the working poor seems like a leaky dam ready to burst.

Poverty doesn't exempt you from going somewhere, it does though appear to create a road block, a detour, rising flood waters to fight through.  Maybe poverty is so overwhelming and all consuming that the energy, time, and determination it would take to leave it cannot be easily spared.  Maybe it is purely survival that perpetuates its population.

My neighborhood begins to change as you move about 5 blocks from my house.  A great number of the houses are rental properties.  Some have had various tenants in and out since I have lived here the past two and half years.  I can see the face of poverty in some of the homes, their residents, cars, lifestyle and almost dismal way of life.  You can see it on the kids, their clothes, their lack of cleanliness, their language - a seeming unawareness there is anything else but what they know.  

As we returned from our nightly walk we saw the neighbor's young adult son and his friend in our yard following what appeared to be a 2 year old Hispanic little boy.  When we got to our yard they were sitting in the grass beside this very small boy who seemed frightened.  They had found the boy wandering the area between our houses.  He either couldn't speak well due to his young age, spoke only Spanish, or was just too scared to tell us his name. 

This small shirtless and shoeless little boy was filthy.  His diaper was dirty.  So was his face, his back, his hands, his feet and his shorts.  His shorts hung loosely off his tiny, thin frame.  The mom in me wanted to protect him, to give him a snack, a bath, to take away his fear.  More than that, I wanted to give him a hope for his future.  

Amazingly enough, after kneeling down and telling him my name was Nancy, asking him if he wanted to hold my hand and take me to where his mom was, he did.  This scared, dirty, lost 2 year old Hispanic boy put his dirty hand in mine and pointed down the street from my house.  As we waited on the police, I walked with him toward the direction he pointed.  

Towards us came a teenager/young adult girl on a bike calling his name, "Christian".  He pointed to her and she said he was with her.  I questioned her on where she lived and how this small of child had gotten away from her.  Her reply broke my heart and painted a grim picture for Christian, "His mom works and has two other kids and can't watch them all the time."  I didn't have words.  I wanted to chastise her, to scold.  She didn't appear panicked or worried.  I would have been frantic.  Christian seemed disoriented, scared and unsure of everything.  I felt angry and unable to change this little boy's situation.

The police officer drove up and questioned her about where they lived and how this 2 year boy had gotten at least 5 blocks away from his house and the people that were in charge of loving and caring for him.  I watched the police officer's face; there was disgust on it, a look that screamed how can people be this stupid, and a bit of anger.  He followed her home as she rode the bike with the now returned boy on her handlebars.  That police officer probably experienced poverty constantly.  In some regard, it kept him employed.

As they drove off my heart sank.  We create obstacles for ourselves at times, making our own lives difficult.  This child though was born into something he did not choose.  I wondered if they would bathe him and love on him tonight?  What would his life be like?  Would poverty and despair and a ceilinged way of life take all his energy, drive and determination eventuallty?  I wondered did he know now and would he come to know that God was with him, had a plan for his life?  I asked God to keep that little boy Christian safe, but mostly, to love him. 

The face of poverty had a name, Christian.

7.10.2012

COMPARATIVELY SPEAKING

The heat has been unrelenting as of late, setting all kinds of records across the U.S. this summer of 2012.  With temps breaking the 100 barrier for days on end, and the nights not cooling down like is typical in the Midwest in summer, people have been hibernating.  It has been like the dead of winter in my neighborhood.  Only a brave few of us ventured out to run early or walk late at  night. 

Last night the heat backed off and a cold front finally arrived.  By cold front I mean mid-80's.  Everything, weather included, is all about comparisons.  85 degrees compared to 105 degrees is enjoyable.  50 degrees compared to 30 degrees is delightful.  A job you don't like compared to not having a job is way better.  Even a rebellious teenager is a gift compared to the option of a tragic accident that takes their life. 

I thought about all the things that I want better or different.  My relentless spirit is just that, relentless at times.  Just like the 105 degree stretch, I can get overly focused on that thing, the issue, the project that needs to be done or started.   It would seem that I never am satisfied fully or for long periods of time with what is in my hand.  Maybe it is my personality, maybe it is just generalized human tendencies, but I can readily lose sight in same, unmoving, non-creative, unchanging, or stuff I don't like.

Yesterday I spent the entire day outside.  It was something that for weeks I haven't been able to do because of the extreme heat.  I probably enjoyed that 87 degrees more than ever before since I had been relegated to early morning and late night ventures out only.  I told myself to savor the day, to remember how great it felt, to not forget or complain when I got weary of high 80 degree days and longed for a bit cooler - to recall the 105 degree stretch.  I then giggled at myself.  Without things to compare something to it is hard to always rejoice in the moment.  I suppose there lies the secret blessing of good times and bad ones. 

I once heard a quote that said, "You should appreciate what is before it isn't."  Maybe that means even 105 degree heat.  I suppose compared to 10 degrees and a blizzard it really isn't that bad!

7.09.2012

BIG AL, in memory of my sister Jeanne

There are things that happen in our bodies that are naturally occurring in all humans, even the animal kingdom to some degree.  We poop regularly (that is for you to decide what regular is to you).  We have gas (16-17 times on average a day).  We urinate.  Those are three things that all humans do.  We don't necessarily talk about them like we talk about the weather, that is unless you are Amish (they love to talk about their bowels) or over the age of 88.  But, none-the-less, whether we talk about them or not, they happen daily to all of us.

If you are a woman, aged post-puberty to menopause, you have a menstrual cycle, a period, a visit from Aunt Flo, Big Al or whatever your particular family's slang for it is, every 28ish days or so.  It too is another fact of a vast majority of women's lives (or was).  Women talk about it with each other from time to time.  Men quietly, with some measure of discomfortendure feminine hygiene product commercials.  Women laugh at them.  Periods are not fun, so don't make commercials that show women riding bikes, wearing white skirts and dancing the night away.  That is an illogical and ridiculous over exaggeration!  More accurate would be a woman laying on the couch exhausted, her uterus pulsating angrily, wearing elasticized sweat pants that put no pressure on her tender lower abdomen, with a zit that has magically erupted somewhere on her face.

I bought new underwear recently at Macy's in Chicago.  I am a very picky shopper, and after wearing the underwear I have now for the past two years, they were growing increasingly thin and thread barren.  Since I could not find any more like them, I refused to buy new until I came across some I loved equally as well.  I must say, my new ones are beautiful panties, and if I were 4 years old I would lift my dress to show you.  My daughter did that a time or two growing up when she got new underwear.  I've been privy to see a few little boy's super hero underpants when they just had to show them off - much to the embarrasment of their mothers.  Superman on your ass cannot be hidden!

Having just arrived for dinner last night at a friend's house, we were standing in their kitchen when I felt a gush.  Oh, it wasn't a little gush, it was the turning on of the menstrual faucet.  My period had started several days earlier, but entering the waters of peri-menopause and menopause has made things a bit more unpredictable.  I excused myself to the guest bathroom.  My beautiful all lace new boy short panties were not white any more!  Taking care of the matter at hand meant I had to just go without underwear, be commando. Which, rounded out the fact that I was also not wearing a bra.  Total freedom!

As I finished "wrapping" things up, I looked around for the wastebasket.  Good lands, there wasn't one in that bathroom!  Panic ensued!!  I couldn't walk out, back into the kitchen with a big wad of toilet paper hiding my tampon.  What was I going to do with my underwear?  Oh, could things get much worse?  I had no choice, I rolled my panties up and stuck them in my purse.  The big wad of toilet paper, including the cardboard end of a roll, I also crammed in my very tiny purse.  I was so grossed out!!  The days of using that purse had just come to an end.

On the ride home, I told my husband the story.  He laughed and asked why I didn't tell him we needed to go home.  Periods are a fact of life, just like pooping, but one doesn't discuss them at a friend's house or ask for a wastebasket to throw your tampon away in.   I decided from henceforth I will carry a small sandwich zip lock bag in my purse.




7.06.2012

NEW PACKAGE, OLD PROBLEM


When I first heard of the latest drug being ingested called bath salts, my mind immediately went to those nice jars of crystals called bath salts that you can put in your bath water to create this soft feel and beautiful scent.  It's a relaxing connotation that came to mind with that word.  Not any more.

I had to look it up.  I wanted to know what it was made of and where it originated from.  Just like most things in the world, it's old and has found its renaissance again!  It's actually a synthetic drug, mostly made in China and Europe.  I'm sure it won't be long though before the American capitalistic entrepreneurial spirit will rise to take hold of this grand illegal money making opportunity. 

The chemical compound is similar to that in a natural occurring plant, Khat (Catha edulis), a hallucinogenic plant found in eastern Africa.  I wondered to myself why they didn't just use the natural plant.  Seems like a whole hell of a lot of work to chemically create a synthetic version.  Evidently (and thankfully) I don't think like those driving the illegal drug industry.  To avoid detection of growing mass amounts of plants, they scientifically (if that's what you want to call it) created a synthetic version of the compound found in that hallucinogenic plant.  It is combined with some other douzzies to make "bath salts" - a broad and somewhat loose category and suicide mix of drugs. 

Their classification in the illegal drug world is a mix between meth and acid.  It, like meth/cocaine/and speed, stimulates the nervous system, but into overdrive hyper mode.  Instead of being a truly hallucinogenic drug, it is more psychoactive, taking delusional beliefs and acting upon them with violence.  Frightening.  Absolutely frightening.  Not the restive image one would think of regarding the phrase, bath salts.

It was first formulated in France in the 1920's but disappeared until the formula was re-discovered by an underground "chemist" and published on the web in 2004.  That's when it took off.  It's similar to putting instructions on how to build a bomb on the web!  Idiotic!!  Kooks unite and breed on the world wide web, gathering information much like picking up a gallon of milk at the grocery store. 

Balt salts are a relatively inexpensive drug to buy at $25-$60 a packet.  That seems steep to me.  But since I have no illegal drug experience to draw from, and I shop at Goodwill, I might just be a thrifty shopper!  It can be snorted, smoked or injected. Initially they say you feel euphoric, relaxed and warm but those feelings quickly turn dark and evil.  In recent days there have been a number of crimes committed that are linked to the effects of bath salts. 

Interesting statistic though, before you panic about this illegal drug - as horrific as it is; the prescription drug Oxycodone, a pain killer, comes in second as the second leading cause of accidental death losing to car accidents which tops the list.  It seems we have more problems than just drugs, legal or illegal.  We have cars!

I don't know if I can ever use the original bath salts again, the make your bathwater soft and scented kind, without a negative thought now.  Thanks illegal drug makers!  Couldn't you have picked a different word that already had a bad mental association?

7.05.2012

CAROLINE'S STARS AND STRIPES FOREVER


My mom loves the 4th of July.  She goes all out for it; red tablecloth, flag plates, red plastic silverware, small flags in all her planters on the porch steps, star shaped dishes.  My grandfather once made her a table top flag holder.  She used it for some years.  Other years she has donned patriotic flagish red, white and blue colors for her outfit.  One year in particular we drove up to my parent's house on the 4th of July greeted by my mom in her newly purchased matching shorts and shirt flag outfit. 

You better believe she loves Lee Greenwood's "I'm Proud To Be An American".  And, she really gets into the Washington D.C. National Celebration that is televised on July 4th evening.  If there is a lapel pin, necklace, clip on earrings (her ears aren't pierced) or knick knack that promotes the flag or the Americana colors, she has it.

Her bathroom is done in Americana American Flag colors - muted reds, blues and creams, including stars and stripes wallpaper.  On that room's last remodel, my dad had two new cabinets and a make-up table made which he then painted a gentile reddish hue.  There is a wood flag hanging on the wall and other tchotchkes adorning the counter that add to its patriotic theme and colors.

If there was such a thing as a card carrying AMERICAN, my mom would have a lamented card.  She would be only eclipsed by say Betsy Ross.  She loves her country.  Deeply.

I was 10 years old in 1976, the bicentennial of our nation.  It was a magical time in every town, and our community was no different.  Our national bird, the American eagle, found its way into every nook and cranny of our society including; the outside of garages, the hoods of cars, painted on milk cans, the upholstery material for furniture, painted on mailboxes and furniture and doors.  It was a craze.  And it was like pot to my mom.

In our house in 1976 was most of the aforementioned paragraph's listed items.  We actually got our sofa reupholstered in American eagle fabric that year as well.  I thought it was sinfully ugly at the time and even more hideous in my mind as I recall it now.  The eagle seemed harsh and stern, like it wanted to peck my eyes out or teach me a moral lesson, which made me not feel relaxed while sitting or laying on it.  Since my grandfather and uncle were dairy farmers, we also had a milk can that my mom painted and put an American eagle decal proudly on it. 

Every little burg had a parade on the 4th of July that year.  There was hoopla in the air.  I can still remember my mom crazily waving her small hand-held flag as the parade went through town.  Music played.  Convoys of floats, dignitaries and bands made it the longest parade our little community had ever seen.  Of course John Phillips Sousa's song was played over and over.   It was an unusual year that culminated and then dissipated almost like fireworks do after a few seconds.

Yesterday was the 4th of July.  We went to my dad and mom's house.  She did not have patriotic clothes on, but the table was adorned with red.  The bathroom still screamed U.S.A. loudly.  And, my daughter made a fruit pizza with strawberries, blueberries and bananas partly to commemorate July 4th, but mostly to celebrate my mom's love of the 4th and all things red, white and blue.

My mom did what she has done as far back as my 45 year old mind can remember, drug whoever was willing (now fallen to the grand kids to oblige her) out to the corn field beside their house for her traditional 4th of July picture.  Every year she measures to see if the corn is knee high by the 4th of July (an old farming saying) compared to the knees of those she has coaxed into the corn.  They hold small flags as she takes pictures to document yet another 4th of July.  Always is there giggling and cheering, usually because the grand kids get such a kick out of their grandmother's passionate All Things Patriotic ways.

7.03.2012

PACIFIC, EASTERN, CENTRAL OR GOD'S



In the movie, “The Bucket List”, Jack Nicholson’s character, Edward Cole, gives some sage age learned advice to his personal assistant Thomas, “Never pass up a bathroom.  Never waste a hard on.  Never trust a fart.”

I whole heartedly agree and identify closely with Jack’s bits of wisdom, though graphically descriptive.  Having arrived at those same conclusions, maybe not as concisely linked together in one matter-of-fact statement, he is spot on.  Spot on!  I have wasted the opportunity available on the first two before, and been let down and tricked a time or two by the last.

When life narrows it makes more sense.  That in and of itself is an oxymoron, though very true.  As we age, experience life, face parameters to our health, live with chronic pain, etc, things become clearer.  The insignificant falls away and clarity becomes the lens.

Lamenting once again the visual texture skin changes occurring on my body, I stated to my husband that I was getting old lady skin.  He, being a man, of course claimed to not even know what I was talking about.  I took it a step further. I pointed it out just above my knees and on the top of my bicep.  The skin had lost its collagen and some of the underlying flesh.  My knees now looked vaguely familiar, yet shockingly alarming to me.  They were quickly becoming like my Grandma Yeager’s knees used to look like to me when I was a kid. 

Jack Nicholson’s character responds to his friend’s lamenting statement of, “Forty-five years goes by pretty fast” with a show-stopping-stop-you-dead-in-your-tracks response, “Like smoke through a keyhole.”  If words and the picture they paint were like pie and coffee, that phrase was fresh blueberry pie with real whipped cream and a cup of southern pecan -perfectly coined and spoken.

Time is uncatchable.  It is unstoppable.  You cannot slow it down.  You cannot speed it up.  Just yesterday I was 20.  Today I am 45.  Where did 25 years go? 

No matter the exercising I do, the creams I use on my skin, the savoring of being present I try to practice, time marches forward at one speed.  Unrelenting.  It carries me sometimes unwillingly forward.

I wondered if God too experienced that time phenomena even though He is the Creator of time itself.  The Bible says that to God a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like a day.  I suppose that shows He is not boundaried, limited or under the influence of time like we are.   In that context I get why He placed time in existence for humans. 

Actually it is very compassionate of God to have an end to our humanity so to give us time to become eternal.  Brilliant really.  So, really then the best is yet to come and we aren’t losing time but getting closer to gaining more that will never run out.

7.02.2012

IN LIGHT OF


The words, in light of, are interesting preface words. They put an asterisk next to all that follows them, as if to say the criteria, the circumstance, response, norm or plan has now been altered, changed, redirected or refocused.

Those words sometimes are used in a court of law when new evidence is brought forward. The in light ofs in life can be varied. Good and bad. Accepted or fought against. They are the things that often make us reconsider, take an alternative route, change gears or even come to a complete stop.

I thought about how much of life is constant. It requires us to be a bit flexible, buoyant, resilient, and sometimes become a contortionist. Those ways come way easier to some people than others.

We bought a new bottle of cabernet sauvignon recently. A label we had never tried before. It came recommended, in place of a more expensive and favored bottle we like, by the party store employee. Since there was a significant cost difference between what we went in for and what he suggested, we opted for his less expensive strongly suggested one. In light of this gentleman's words, and the fact that it was about a third of the cost, we went another direction - we purchased his wine.

A step further. Just today, based on the fact that I texted my husband and said we needed to open that bottle of wine tonight on the patio, he said we needed something for dinner that went with it. His suggestion, veal marsala. That sounded great to me. Perfect taste combination! The problem was that we lived in a town of 55,000 in the Midwest and veal is not commonly stocked in the grocery stores or meat markets.

 After calling five stores, including two meat markets, to find a scaloppini cut of veal, I was informed it would have be ordered. That did not work with my dinner plans for tonight, what I wanted, had a hankering for, and needed to make to satisfy Doug and I's taste buds. That bottle of wine was needing its veal marsala companion.

 So, in light of; 1) that I didn't plan ahead as is my norm and 2), that the right cut of veal could not be found without a 3 day wait, I was forced to alter my plan. I would have to make chicken marsala instead. I would settle, though just a bit, but still get a taste of something good with that bottle of wine.

 It happens in life in huge measures, in startling devastatingly poignant ways. We think we have years ahead of us, but instead we get a diagnosis of disease, have a heart attack, our mate dies unexpectantly, our child makes a horrifically bad choice. In light of those circumstances our path is altered, changed, redirected.

In light of, the game-changing-monkey-wrench phrase, is undeniably a very present player in the minutia of life and a huge impactor in the big stuff. Will I bend my ways, my will, my choices, my thoughts, my heart, and ultimately my responses to it? Can I change gears, go with the flow, accept a new direction? Sometimes it is much easier said than done. Much.




7.01.2012

ILLOGICAL LOGIC


I once ate a whole pint box of frozen strawberries my mom had picked and froze in one sitting before school. It was the first time I can remember throwing up, and I believe only one of two throw up events in my life. Why I can remember that, I don't really know.

I suppose we associate certain things with certain things. Forever ingrained in me when I see and taste the texture of frozen strawberries in my mouth is that event. I can't say I am a fan of frozen strawberries unless they are mixed in with Breyers Strawberry ice cream  Then, I'm all for them.

One time when my two sisters and I were kids, my middle sister Diane, having eating fried squash with dinner, heaved her cookies later. She was henceforth convinced it was the garden squash that made her sick. We weren't. It was probably the flu. To this day I think she still associates that striped long necked garden squash with throw-up!

I considered naming my daughter Aubrey when she was born. I loved the BREAD song, "Aubrey". Her name though is Hannah. My train of thought to abandon the name Aubrey was because no one would hear it as Aubrey but instead think it was Audrey. I did NOT like the name Audrey because 25 years ago the Audrey that I knew was not physically attractive. That is so wrong and shallow of me. I associated that name with that lot in life. I did not wish that for my daughter.  Logically that has nothing to do with it. But then again neither do frozen strawberries or garden squash have full culpability in the throw-up of our childhoods.

 Our house got struck by lightning once and it started a house fire. The lightning strike was to the ground close the TV antenna tower on the outside of the house. The strike's voltage moved through the ground to the wire on the tower where it entered the house and began smoldering through the electrical wiring in the basement.

Lightning strikes the ground most of the time in storms. But, immediately after the fire and restoration we removed that tower from our house. There was still a statistical chance that even with the tower gone another lightning strike could start a house fire. It happens all the time.

 I think the same relates to people who win a roll of the dice by blowing or kissing their hand. It's why people who are avid baseball or football fans wear the same pair of underwear, do the same rituals before every game that a win occurred under those same conditions.

That's why there are folklorean good luck charms like; four leaf clovers, a rabbit's foot, a garlic necklace, picking up a penny, rubbing Buddha's belly, dream catchers, the number seven, the wishbone of poultry and a falling star.

All are illogical, superstitious and ridiculous ways that we deduce something that can't be nailed down into controllable pieces. We believe that we, or certain rituals or objects, can change the outcome or prevent bad things in the future.

Silly when you think it about it broke down that way, isn't it! Just as ridiculous as me trying mineral oil and sardines to induce the start of labor. Hannah though was born the next day.