Search This Blog

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Perfect Fit

I was shaving my legs in the bathroom sink when my then 22-yr. old daughter Stephanie, who still hadn’t moved out, barged in and informed me that her boyfriend was buying her a puppy for their upcoming anniversary. I dabbed my bloody leg with a tissue and told her no. Well, okay, I screamed “NO!” with the fierceness of a raging warrior and then rattled off a frantic shopping list of reasons why she couldn’t have a dog. “You’re never home, I’ll end up taking care of it, like all the other pets in this house, and you can’t afford it!”

My daughter stood there silently eyeing me, unmoved by my speech. Her narrow mouth turned upward forming an eerie coyote grin, and then without a word she confidently walked off. Stephanie has her ways of grinding me down to a fine powder when she wants something; therefore it wasn’t surprising to me that after a few days of constant pounding, she had obliterated my resolve like a Cheeto under a choo-choo and I had agreed to the pup.

I hadn’t told my husband about the pending pooch. I guess I was still hoping for the possibility that my daughter would opt for a trip to Vegas or a piece of anniversary jewelry. Stephanie decided on a female Teacup Chihuahua. I wasn’t thrilled with her choice seeing that the one time I had ever been bitten by a dog; it was by a scrawny Chihuahua with bulging eyes and teeth like a piranha. Stephanie showed me a picture of the puppy, which was posted online by the breeder. This little baby was so adorable that I immediately felt my hard heart softening, creating a doggy door right in the middle of it.

I tried to stifle my enthusiasm about the puppy. I didn’t want my daughter to think that I was a total sucker and could be won over so easily. “She looks okay” I said, as I nonchalantly walked away from the monitor. But once my daughter was out the door, I was back on the computer staring at the dog’s picture and counting the days left until she arrived. At this point I decided to let my husband in on the secret and showed him the picture of the ten-ounce puppy. I was hoping the sweet image would soften him, and maybe he would want her as badly as I did, but instead he simply grunted and said, “I’ve eaten steaks bigger than that dog.”

Stephanie decided to name the puppy Dutchess. That wasn’t my first choice but I figured best to let her alone on this one, after all it was “her” dog….for now. In the mornings, after everyone had left for work, I would pour my coffee and sit at the computer browsing the online pet shops for doggy outfits. Within a few weeks I had a hefty stash of sweaters, treats, and accessories, hidden away in the corner of my closet. I felt like a woman possessed. Here I was spending money on dog clothes while my toes were peeking out through the holes in my socks.

I tried rationalizing away my preoccupation with the puppy. “I’m out of work, which is leaving me with way too much time on my hands” I told myself, “plus I miss having little kids around.” Mine were in their 20’s, and although they still lived with us, I saw them more as annoying roommates rather than the adorable offspring I once worshipped. I decided that I had fallen victim to “full- nest syndrome” a condition that affects women whose grown children have long overstayed their welcome and seek to overthrow the household. Something I’d have to remember to email Dr. Phil about it.

I kept my affair with Dutchess hidden until one day I absentmindedly left the closet door open and my daughter stumbled upon my stockpile of doggy clothes. ”I knew it!” she exclaimed! “I knew you wanted a dog!” She teased and poked at me for a while until she finally grew bored with it and left. But on her way out she paused long enough to look over her shoulder at me, and spit, “Don’t forget…the puppy is MINE!” I cut my eyes at her, mumbled a few expletives, and padded back to the closet to re-fold the dog clothes.

Finally, late one night in mid October, Stephanie brought Dutchess home. I couldn’t wait to catch a glimpse of the baby. I stood staring in amazement as Dutchess wiggled around on the kitchen floor wagging her skinny tail and licking Stephanie’s face. Her eyes looked like big chocolate milk duds, and her head was way too large for the rest of her miniature body. I began to laugh at the spectacle; a relaxed laughter that released any apprehension I had about us getting a dog. Sliding down onto the floor, I let Dutchess smell my hand; but instead she began to wash my face with tiny kisses. Her tongue was like a small piece of pink felt that tickled my cheek bringing on another episode of laughter. As I lay on the floor, getting my face washed, I realized that I had already fallen in love with little Dutchess.

It didn’t take long for my daughter to see how much work it was to take care of a puppy; particularly one as tiny as Dutchess. Stephanie would appear in my bedroom late at night like an apparition. Exhausted, she would tuck the dog in bed with me and mumble something like... “help mommy …stupid puppy peed….can’t sleep”. Ah, how the young lack strength! I silently gloated as Stephanie’s desire to parent Dutchess faded like an over washed pair of jeans…. Just as I said it would.

Now, over five years later, we have all found our places in Dutchess's life. My daughter has since moved out, and because of her busy schedule has agreed to leave Dutchess with us. I still let her call herself Dutchess’s owner, but I have, through consistent parenting, been promoted to mommy; although Stephanie still sneers when I say it.

My macho son, Ben, is still amazed at the size of our 4lb canine and speaks to her in a squeaky little voice when he thinks that nobody else is listening. And although my husband Mike initially scoffed at the idea of us getting a Teacup Chihuahua, now I can’t seem to keep the two apart. Each morning they share a walk through our neighborhood, like a giant and a flea, oblivious to the spectacle that they create. And Dutchess.. well, her favorite place is snuggled contently beneath my fuzzy bathrobe, next to my heart, stirring only to change positions or investigate any kitchen noises. I sometimes have to catch my breath when I think that we almost didn’t get a dog, and am grateful that even though we didn’t know what it was that we needed, life generously brought Dutchess to us anyway.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Really Realistic Resolutions!

New Years! Resolutions made with good intentions…aiming at living right…living large….pushing forward and using my God-given potential as fuel to reach my goals. I have a shopping list of things I want to accomplish this year, although some of them are chronic…like a cold. Each year I include them and each year I forget them…usually by March. Losing weight is one such goal. When I was young I could eat a bathtub of French fries and not gain an ounce. If anything I was always too thin. But with bearing children came my womanly figure which included an over abundance of dimpling flesh accented with stretch marks. All the while my trim husband stayed that way; annoying the hell out of me. I’ve been engaged in the all too familiar battle of the bulge since then, and this year is no different.
Another chronic goal is to put off procrastination, but as you can see I’m simply procrastinating on procrastinating.
There are always new exciting goals that I want to complete. This year it’s querying agents for my novel. I look forward to doing this and will probably become so fixated on it that all my other goals will suffer. Funny how I only have obsessive compulsive tendencies with the things I like to do. I wish I could have a touch of OC with things like losing weight, exercising, and cleaning my house.
So, whatever your resolutions are, remember to be realistic. Only choose ones that are important…and attainable! If you’re addicted to cookies don’t ban cookies; simply adjust your relationship with them. If you’re unemployed don’t have a resolution to be a millionaire by 2012; find a job in 2012, and then take it from there.
I like having a spanking new year to work with. It allows me to have a starting point in which to make a fresh start in life. And if I screw this one up I know that chances are I’ll have the next year to try harder. That’s the beauty of the calendar; there is always another page to turn with a cute or inspiring picture to cheer me on.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Shake up Your Happiness!

The above song shook me a good way. It inspired me to contemplate, and pursue, happiness. And what better time of year to seek it than Christmas?
Sometimes you have to shake up happiness. Like a snow globe sitting sedately on the shelf, coated in dust, life can become predictable and boring. It’s when you take life off the shelf and give it a shake or two, that life takes on some excitement, much like the snow globe after a good shaking.
I often wait for life to hand me happiness. Like a hungry beggar I stand mutely with my little heart wide open, hoping that life will give me a handout. But it rarely does. Some people stay this way for years, lamenting their misery and blaming bad luck or the world for their lack of happiness.
My mother used to say, “You have to make your own happiness Leah.” Then she would patiently steer me into a direction of amusement by providing me with a piece of fabric and a needle and thread, or a box of Crayola’s and a sheet of clean white paper. Within minutes I’d be happily engrossed in my project as time swept swiftly by.
I guess I’m equating happiness with happenings. Unlike joy which I consider a more spiritual attribute. Happiness pacifies the flesh and mind, while joy comforts the spirit. The Christian mystic, Madame Guyon, said, “It’s better to engage in a mindless hobby than to entertain a spirit of melancholy.” Basically it’s the same message my mother gave me so many years ago. So now that I’m grown….well mostly, I know that I am responsible for creating my own amusements and happiness’s. If I’m miserable and bored it’s my own damn fault.
Today, make a plan for happiness. Go out of your way to find it. Think outside of your predictable little life box. Call an old friend, watch your favorite movie. Try something new like skydiving, or acting. Do the thing you have always wanted to do, but never had the courage to try.
Don’t wait for someone to change things for you. They’re all too busy trying to figure out their own plan. The path to happiness is yours to find and follow. So, shake yourself up a batch of happiness. With all the ingredients available to you, there’s no end to the possibilities.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Unwrapping Christmas

People all over the world are preparing for Christmas 2010. Holiday specials tug at the heart strings, while citizens race to the post office, eager to mail their glad tidings. The rich, wrapped in cashmere and Gucci, sip from crystal goblets, thankful for another successful year. The poor, cocooned in worn parkers and hand knit scarves, toast with tumblers of spiked eggnog, inspiring hope for an even better year.
Lighted trees sit center stage in penthouse, and row house alike, circled with a wreath of festively wrapped gifts. Stockings stretched with candy and loot send a shot of excitement to little eyes; proof positive that Santa really exists. But these are only a slice of what the season represents. Love Joy, and Peace….these are the true golden rings of the season.
Christmas stimulates our senses, fanning the flames of hope after a long year of indifference and struggle. Some say that Christmas brings out the hypocrites. Folks go to church that wouldn’t normally attend, and give to the poor instead of visiting the pub. But I don’t think it’s hypocritical any more than it was hypocritical for Scrooge to give Bob Cratchit a fatted goose. People are simply responding from the heart. From a place of nobility that lies buried beneath the have to’s and oppression of every day life.
Wedding songs and funeral hymns harmonize with the jingles bells and Noels in a messy world that slows for no one, reminding us that Christmas is not the absence of troubles but the presence of hope. I guess you could say that Christmas is life dressed in her Sunday best.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sister Christmas

Life and Christmas are twin sisters. Life, is the responsible sister, who stays dutifully at home taking care of her younger siblings and aging parents. She cleans up the messes, fixes the meals, and balances the finances. Her beauty is lined with worry, and her clothing is dull and practical.
Christmas, because of her radiant joy, was chosen by the prince to be his wife. He moved her to his far away kingdom years ago, but each year he sends Christmas home with precious gifts, to her devoted sister, to celebrate their mutual birthdays.
It’s easy to see the contrast between the two sisters, and understand why Life might resent Christmas, after all, she’s been stuck with all the responsibilities, while Christmas has been set-apart, and pampered. But Life’s not jealous, because she knows that her sister, Christmas’s, joy and beauty are being preserved especially to remind Life of who she really is….. That she is beautiful, and rich, even though she may appear poor and plain.
Christmas gently fans the embers of hope for her sister, illuminating the things that inspire Life, and igniting the strength and faith that Life needs in order to carry on for another year. The reunion is so inspiring that the whole kingdom now joins in on the birthday celebration and exchange gifts in honor of the great love the sisters have for each other.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Forever Carded!

When a store clerk asks me, “Do you have our rewards card? “ I can never remember if I do or I don’t. So…out comes the over bulging wallet as I sift through the random contents looking for a card that I may or may not have, while the people behind me shuffle and sigh with annoyance as they wait. I finally give up; hoping my phone number will work in place of the card. The clerk then tries my home phone, cell phone, old phone number, and ET’s phone number, when all fails she then gives me a disgusted look and swipes her card so I can get the 3% discount. Good Lord! I should get a reward for enduring the inconvenience and embarrassment of digging for the card …enough with the discount cards!

Some give you the miniature ones to clip onto your key ring, I have eight on mine, and although they are easier to access, I still have to find my keys and then sift through the litter to find the right one. Why can’t they just give me a discount without making me baby-sit a little card for them? My wallet has to carry my debit/credit cards, pharmacy card, license, auto insurance card, library card, business cards, photos of my beautiful granddaughter, money, ect, this is just my wallet. That wallet then goes into my handbag which is already bulging with other survival supplies, and now my key ring is heavy with ugly little plastic cards instead of cute key ring ornaments.I feel put upon and abused by retailers and sometimes I find myself fantasizing about making the CEOs’ of these companies dance to a shower of ricocheting bullets for the entire length of time that it takes me to find my rewards card.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Between My Ears

I often wake up to prickly negative thoughts that speak with exaggerated authority, pushing their way into my mind…into my day. I respond with an internal flinch, and a sigh of distress, as I slip out of my bed, already dreading the day. I surrender my day without much resistance, believing the lies that nip at my heart, “you’re a fat fool ...and a failure” they say, stealing pieces of me until there is little left for living….or loving. Who would have thought I could surrender so easily, waving the white flag at the first sign of an attack without a fight or even a proper argument. But this is how the thief of souls comes; stealing in the morning when the sun is still dim and the dew of my dreams still fresh on my heart. Stealing before inspiration’s tender green roots find sure ground, robbing me of the tidbits of my truth before they have a chance to feed my spirit.
Life doesn’t have to be this way and I know it. I know it because I have tasted the sweet waters of inspiration, and seen how they nourish; bringing precious gifts of light and hope with them. Instructing me on how to fight back, and reminding me of who I am…who we all are. That we are special and here for a purpose, but as long as we stay distracted by negativity we will never truly fulfill that which we came here for; the unique purpose that sets us apart as individuals and makes us special.
Some days start with truth and light, and for those days I am grateful. But on the dark days, and there are plenty of them, I need to remember to fight back. To center myself with my God and listen to the Spirit speak to me about my life and who I am. When I do this I find life is a joy and not an endless chore. So, why do I allow myself to fall so far before looking up? Perhaps it’s a habit of my fallen nature. I find habits of the flesh seem to come naturally but habits of the Spirit must be fought for and won.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Thanksgiving Experiment

Thankfulness is something I rarely feel when rushing through my busy day. I’m usually too busy honking at the car in front of me, meeting deadlines, and picking the slowest line at the grocery store. My day swirls before me, and I get sucked into it like a vortex, spinning around, seeing everything, and yet noticing nothing.

So, with Thanksgiving coming up I decided to set one day apart and make a conscious effort at being thankful. Doing this would mean I would have to engage in the moment, instead of blasting through my day like a meteor through the stratosphere.

As I began my experiment I noticed it took great deal of discipline to pull myself out of my head and back into the moment, kind of like having a conversation with someone while your mind is elsewhere, but my effort was soon rewarded by a number of pleasant surprises. Firstly, was waking up in a comfortable bed next to a loving spouse, and knowing that we would face the day together, like army buddies, no matter what life brought to our door.

Later, stepping outside to walk my dog, I noticed the smell of the morning, and how it carried with it memories from my childhood. I found myself profoundly thankful for the ability to walk as I strolled down the road with my faithful dog leading the way, and the birds chirping out a happy soundtrack to the scene.

As the day progressed so did my gratefulness. Browsing the supermarket isles I thought of the countless times I had cursed the chore, complaining about not knowing what to buy for supper. But on this day I was stunned by the multitude of choices offered to me, and humbled by the painful truth that the majority of people in the world do not have the same wonderful choices; or even enough food to sustain them.

Being in the moment has opened me up like a spring bloom, causing me to gush with thanks for nearly everything, from freedom and health, to my favorite chair and beach sand between my toes.

Noticing the way my daughter’s eyes brighten at the mention of her dad’s spaghetti sauce fills me up way more than any Thanksgiving day feast ever could, and eavesdropping on my macho son while he baby talks to our Chihuahua, makes me grateful for the tenderhearted man he has become. All of these ordinary things are sort of the infrastructure to my life, yet I ignore their importance, until something goes wrong with one of them.

Taking time to give thanks has centered me, and made me more content, yet, I can’t help worrying that within a week I’ll be back to my old ways of stomping through life and missing out on what really matters. Being human takes an awful lot of practice, but seeing the miracles within the ordinary makes it all worth while. You should give my little experiment a try.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Where'd My Mojo Go?

I’ve been feeling a bit insecure lately and asking myself….where’d my mojo go? I miss that youthful zest that came naturally to me, flowing like a foamy head of beer over the top of the glass.
I used to speak with persuasive fluidity, and feel the interesting pieces of conversation come together as I told my story. Now I stammer and search for the right words sounding more like a banker hooked up to a polygraph.
Although not stunning, I was always considered attractive and able to turn heads when I walked into a room. Now I feel as though I’m invisible.
When I smile my cheeks push up and crinkly lines surround my eyes like sun beams. So, I seldom smile, and although I look mad most of the time, I look ten years younger.
My hair is turning white and wiry, like one of those little terrier dogs; only I’m not as cute. Every couple of months I visit a trendy, and expensive, salon, where a spiked out 24 yr old girl with a Bluetooth stuck in her ear, giggles and chats away to her invisible friend while tugging and pulling at my hair like she’s in a corn shucking contest. When the entire process is over I hack up $100.00 dollars for the treatment, $20.00 for a tip, and when I get home nobody notices the difference.
My ample bosoms have headed south and I now resemble those topless pictures in the National Geographic Magazines that I use to snicker at as a kid. Gravity bites.
Where’d my mojo go… my magic essence, my touch with dancing with the world and the people in it? I need my mojo. My mojo is me with “attitude”.
Maybe that’s the key. Perhaps my attitude is off. Maybe I’ve been looking at things from the wrong angle. Like looking at the negative space around block letters, and all you can see are the shapes, but when you relax and find the positive spaces, you can read the word. That’s it! I have been looking at the negative spaces instead of focusing on the positive substance! Perhaps if I stopped skulking around like an abused dog and began to dwell on the positive things about myself my mojo might return?
Where’d my mojo go? No where. It’s just been waiting for me to remember who I am, whether the world agrees or not. My mojo is spiritual, not self-conscious or guilt ridden, and rests confidently in its ability to navigate through the twists and turns of my life. I'm the only one who has the power to turn my mojo on and off, and in the end I can count on my mojo to always be there to inspire me. Phew...I'm glad that's settled. What a relief!
Has anyone seen my libido?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Picking My Poison....Voting

I’ve had nearly a week to reflect on the choices I made last Tuesday at the polls. Yes, I voted, but it wasn’t the empowering experience I had hoped for. As a matter of fact it was almost embarrassing, and I’m sure the suffragists who fought for my right as a woman to vote were rolling in their graves at the sight of me having a panic attack as I made my choices. I was overwhelmed, having heard more name calling and finger pointing than a third grader at recess, and I didn’t trust any of the candidates. I can’t figure out how, in a country with a population of 308 million people, I am being offered such lame choices. It was a “pick your poison” kind of choice… let’s see, do I want professor Plum in the library with the candlestick or Colonial Mustard in the kitchen with the knife….yikes! I did some online research, trying to figure and out where the candidates stood on the important issues, but when I finally got close to an answer on an issue I found they’d changed their positions. The candidates, it seems, like to change positions more often than the Kama Sutra. I voted my conscience, as best I could, but I may have fared better if I went with a couple of old reliable methods I’ve used for making important decisions in the past; …Eenie Meenie Miney & Moe, and the coin toss. Here’s to democracy!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Why Do I Know This??

Okay, I believe our society is suffering from a condition known as TMI. For those of you without teenagers, that’s “too much information.” Some of the info we get is useful, but most of it’s random, and useless; a sort of Junk food for the brain. I can’t help wondering if like our bodies, our brains can get fat and flabby too from putting too much senseless crap into them?
For example, while washing the dishes last night I noticed I was singing; “ I did it all for the nookie, the nookie, so you can take that cookie, and stick it up your… YEAH!”
Okay….where the hell did that come from and how do I get rid of it?!!
I also know the lyrics to 1,498 advertising jingles, (going back to the 1960’s) and can tell you how many scoops of raisins are in a box of Raisin Bran, what bologna’s last name is, and the side effects of Viagra.
I know Mike, “The Situation Sorrentino” will be paid 5 million dollars this year for being a self-absorbed bore with great abs, and his classy 4’9” counterpart, Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, earns $30,000 per episode and was recently arrested for public drunkenness. Please stop! I don’t want to know these people!
Every piece of technology that I own is in on the conspiracy. I get X-rated pop-ups on my computer, intellectually insulting ads on my TV… and radio, and fast talking telemarketers calling and texting my phones; and oh yeah, when I walk to my mailbox I’m rewarded with a shit load of junk mail that I’m forced to sort through. Grrrrr!
We may think that all this information is entertaining but do our kids know how to separate the truth from a lie, and reality from lunacy? I won’t be surprised if someday soon we find that our brains have atrophied, leaving us with the attention span of a flea.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

You're Epic..Really!

Blogging: dumping the contents of my brain, and guts, onto paper, then sorting through the mess in order to find something worthy of showcasing: last night’s supper, my dog’s skin condition, my friend’s obsession with frogs. These are all in there but hardly worth framing and hanging on my online wall.
Pushing aside the above mentioned debris, I dig deeper; spotting a little tidbit that has had me inspired for nearly a week now. It’s the words from a simple little book that seem to have awakened my soul to the expectation of something more…something real and permanent. This is why I love words, and books, and people, because you never know when you’re going to stumble upon a treasure excavated from the heart of a fellow sojourner.
This something that I found is still vague, in that I have mostly given mental assent to it, and haven’t practiced it for long, but I like how it feels. It fits. It’s epic. No really, that’s the name of the little book. Epic, by: John Elderedge. Drawing from such classics as the Last of The Mohicans, Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, and Gladiator, Mr. Elderedge explains how our lives are an epic tale much like the afore mentioned movies.
From cradle to grave our lives are rocked with unexpected events where we must push against insurmountable odds to survive and succeed. Comedy and tragedy, good and evil, heroes and villains, all are randomly peppered into our lives while we struggle to love, and live with bravery, compassion, and dignity. Of course not everyone struggles to behave in a noble way; some actually enjoy causing misery and pain to others. I guess these would be the villains.
Our lives are the epic tales in which we have found ourselves. Like the great Gladiator, Maximus, we stand in the arena of life fighting against all that seeks to slay our spirits, hearts, and finally, our bodies. It's easy for me to visualize the stands, packed with cheering pilgrims who have gone on before us, chanting encouragement and channeling might.
Viewing my life as such has ignited a bit of bravery in this overly anxious suburbanite, causing me to confront the smaller battles in my life with boldness and wisdom, and helping me to mentally prepare myself for the larger attacks from the evil villains that await me. I want to beat the odds, stay true to myself, while offering kindness and compassion to others. And then, when I close my eyes to this arena, I intend to open them to my true homeland on the other side; a land where my epic continues, only the villains will be silenced and living happily ever after is my reward.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Isolation Sickness

I think our society is suffering from isolation sickness. We live in our private homes, drive our fast cars, and work in our tiny offices, insulated from distractions and isolated from the happy chaos of life. If someone visits unannounced we grab the mace, and peek through the dirty little peep hole in our doors shouting “Who’s there!” like we’re expecting the Gestapo.
When I grew up we had an open door policy and friends were always welcome. There was usually a pot of coffee on and a card game in progress. Laughter was the sound track for most of these scenes, (unless my step-father was in a sour mood, then we would take the party elsewhere.) and it didn’t take an act of congress for us to decide what to do next. “Want to go for a walk?” was met with an eager “Sure.” Then off we would go with no particular destination in mind. We would walk in the sweltering heat of a city summer, or the stinging snows of a classic northeaster. It didn’t matter because we were always game for an adventure. We’d collect a friend or two along the way, and eventually wind up in a booth with a drink in front of us and our mouths full of interesting chitchat.
We mingled with people….real people, with skin on. Not muffled phone voices sandpapered with static or abbreviated messages texted in haste. There were real friends to hang out with and they were usually our neighbors; making them conveniently accessible. You could walk up a flight of stairs and be at a different kitchen table engaging in new rounds of conversation.
There was a certain tribal vibe to the old school way of hanging out. You belonged to a neighborhood and the people in it. If you didn’t like your neighbor you simply ignored them to their faces, and talked about them behind their backs, making sure that all the members of your tribe hated them as much as you did. But you didn’t stalk them, shoot at them, vandalize their cars, or steal their identity. Okay, so maybe you left a bag of dog shit, set ablaze, on their front porch and rang their doorbell, then hid in the bushes and belly laughed while you watched them frantically stomp it out.
But who wouldn’t enjoy that?
Any way, I miss hanging out with friends without having to set up an appointment a month in advance. Am I alone in this?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Binge Bonk Beg

Last night I phoned my sister and casually mentioned that I wanted to see the movie Eat Pray Love. Well, my older, and often wiser, sister exploded! I was totally startled by her reaction. “What a crock of shit.” She said, and then she spewed out a tacky shopping list of what real women do to find their true selves. “They should have named it Binge Bonk and Beg,” She said, “because when a real woman finds herself face down in the mud puddle of life she binges on carbs, goes out with her friends and gets shit faced, then, against her best friends advice, winds up in bed with a pot bellied braggart sporting a bad toupee. In the morning she realizes that her life, and husband, weren’t so bad after all, so she goes home and spends the rest of her life begging God to forgive her.”
I held the phone away from my ear, and blessed myself against the blasphemous spew of venom that was pouring out of the receiver. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this book, and now movie, it’s the story of a woman who has it all…job, husband, house, looks, but decides she still isn’t happy, (now that I look at it closer it does seem a bit far fetched) so she leaves everything, including her dishy husband, and travels the globe (okay….really far fetched) in search of the true meaning of happiness. She then gorges herself with pasta, flirts with hot young guys, meditates for days, and then finally travels to paradise AKA Bali, and falls in love with a hot, rich, and sexually talented older man.
Alright, although a true story, it REALLY is far fetched. Nobody that I know could afford to do that. But hey, maybe I hang with the wrong crowd. Either way, a girl needs her distractions from life, so I intend to see the movie as planned. Unfortunately I'm jaded, because I have my my sister’s sarcastic laughter stuck in my head, which I'm sure will distract me from Julia Robert’s sincere attempts at inspiring me to eat pray and love. Yup.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tantrum Yoga

A friend of mine talked me into joining a beginner’s Yoga class with her, so I in turn cornered my friend Susan and bullied her into going too. For some reason I felt I needed numbers to do this because everyone knows…..there is safety in numbers!
This was a huge step for me because I hadn’t engaged in any real exercise for a couple of years, unless you counted my frequent trips to the refrigerator and the bathroom.
My knowledge of Yoga was zero, and except for the mental visual I had of Gandhi sitting sedately in the Lotus position, I was clueless.
The entire concept sounded, well….boring. I like dancing around, shaking my giblets to hard driving music. In my mind the prospect of going to a Yoga class was the equivalent of going to exercise church.
This was an early evening class, so I was forced to eat my dinner on the road, woofing down a steak and bean burrito that my husband had lovingly prepared for me.
I met the girls in the parking lot so we could all walk in together.
The room was quite pleasant, decorated in an eastern style, with the slightest scent of bamboo lingering in the air. The floor was draped with yoga mats of various colors, like towels on the beach, and an exotic instrumental was being mysteriously piped in from somewhere….maybe heaven.
We found a corner of the room with space enough for us to spread our mats. An easy task for most people, but we fumbled and bumped into each other, giggling like fools and fitting in like Larry, Moe, and Curly.
The room was crowded with poker faced women all in various stages of stretching. I eyed Susan, and mouthed over to her: “We don’t belong here.” She intentionally ignored me while gracefully assuming the mad cow position. Traitor. Sitting nervously on my pink mat, with my chubby legs painfully crossed Indian style, waiting for the class to begin, I felt the first burrito bubble seeking the easiest exit. Never again! Yup.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Social Anorexia

So I went out last night to a friend’s house, something I haven’t done in over a year, and I had a blast. I’ve been so busy with work, my book, and my always present mystery illness, that I just haven’t had the time, or desire, to socialize. At the last minute I almost cancelled, but I forced myself out the door with the intentions of being home by eight. I think I’m out of practice when it comes to socializing. When stowed away too long in the dark cave of self-absorption I tend to lose my social appetite, making going out seem as appealing as a cup of meal worms. But I forced my self out the door and ended up staying until midnight. If you know me, midnight is unheard of. I’ve grown accustom to being in bed by ten and then reading myself to sleep. So midnight was a huge step for this social cripple. Anyway, I had a blast floating about on a pink noodle in the pool, catching up on important life events, and chatting endlessly about everything from the meaning of life to our favorite songs. Last night my favorite song was Midnight at the Oasis, and I proved it by singing it karaoke.. solo! Having never sung karaoke before, my nerves had my stomach in a choke hold. I’m not showing false humility when I say I can’t sing. I have a voice fit for the shower. But I did it, and the girls all fussed over me, showering me with compliments. “All you need is more confidence.” They said. Ha! What a load. But they meant well. Actually singing karaoke was on my bucket list, so now I can scratch that one off the list without having to actually do it in front of a bunch of critical strangers giggling and pointing at me. Whew!
We also raided my friend’s wig collection, trying new looks until we laughed till we nearly peed our pants. We decided to have a wig night. This involves each of us choosing a wig and wearing it out in public. I can’t believe I agreed to that…. and I wasn’t even drinking!
Going out last night with the girls taught a couple of things.
One: I often resist the things that I need the most.
Two: One good night of laughter with friends can erase a month of melancholy.
It’s important to stay connected with friends and have a life outside of all the obligations and have to’s. Without meaningful contact with my tribe of friends my soul tends to wither like a thirsty house plant. I’m going to make an extra effort to stay connected. But I’m certain I’ll fight it all the way. When was your last night out?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Ready for the Next Journey?

I’ve been contemplating my own mortality lately, which I blame on a run of unexpected deaths within my small tribe of family and friends. Since the beginning of time people have come and gone. It’s as natural as the sun, and the dirt, yet it still seems utterly barbaric to me; particularly the way some of us die.

Truth really is stranger than fiction, and if I were to write a book about a planet where people mysteriously disappeared, without a trace… forever, it would be considered an eerie science fiction novel. Yet, this is our reality. Nobody really knows where we all go when we die. I like believing in heaven, no more tears, like that baby shampoo, but I’m rather clueless as to what heaven really means. I comfort friends when they lose somebody, telling them how natural this cycle is, but I’m ashamed to admit that inside I’m really relieved that it wasn’t me or my loved one. This dying thing is totally unnerving.

The young seem nonchalant about death. Of course their bodies are still under warranty, just needing fuel and tires, but my warranty has long expired, and each morning I suspiciously eye my body in the mirror, hoping it will get me where I need to go for the day.

Some people live with death in mind, taking their vitamins, and avoiding the proverbial cracks in the road of life. Others dive in and tempt fate, trying such stunts as bungee jumping, or driving during rush hour traffic. Me…. I defy death in my own timid way; like ordering the double mocha choka latte in lieu of the skinny one.

My mother used to tell me that I was here to learn how to trust my God, love others, and be nice to mean people. Good answers. But when I’m lying awake at 2 am, rehearsing an argument that I will never have with my neighbor, because his dog won’t stop barking, these answers seem irritatingly cliché. Why go through so much trouble learning all of these lessons if I’m not going to use them for long?

Perhaps I’ll be using my acquired wisdom in some place more evolved? A heavenly place, not contaminated with the rage of hate, or selfish indifference. A place where acceptance is not based on appearance, or wealth, and love is spread generously, like butter on bread, and shared with every hungry soul.

Our planet is awe inspiring. It’s alive with creatures that move to a set rhythm, working toward the common goal of survival. When I see a tiny humming bird hovering at a bloom, carefully navigating a sip of nectar, it moves me to tears.

I’m fascinated at the nervous hesitancy of a gray squirrel approaching an open field, cautiously surveying the danger level, and then running like hell with its tail all wild and fluffy, until it’s safe again in the refuge of a great tree.

All of these things speak to me about the cycle of life. I often feel superior to the creation around me; perhaps because I can walk on two legs and have the ability to use hand tools, but in reality, I am small, and I must follow the same natural laws as the squirrel and the humming bird.

Right now it is my turn to walk this planet and then the next generation shall replace me. My footprints will fade as the tide of years washes over them, but I believe that my spirit will venture onward, strengthened by the harsh lessons of this journey, walking an unknown road to a distant land which some have named heaven. I want to live big, and from my heart while I’m here, so that in the end I can smile and say, “I’m ready for my next journey.”

Monday, August 2, 2010

Eating Life Raw

Life is a messy thing, sometimes slapping me in the face with a wet hand (dripping with suspicious fluids), kissing me on the neck while I’m scrubbing grimy pots and pans, and ignoring me when I need attention the most. Sounds much like my husband, although he has never slapped me in the face.
Yes, life is a daily crap shoot with the odds being about even for fate to dole out grins or grimaces. Each day I rise to an inner dialog that goes something like this: “I have to get up. What for? Coffee. Yes, Coffee. Coffee and I have to go pee. Wasn’t there something I was looking forward to today? (Long mental silence) Nope. Arg!”
I then haul my vulnerable butt out of bed and let life have its way with me.
Television makes life seem too pretty. Like life is supposed to be served up on a fancy dinner cart, pushed room service style up to my bed. Silver domed lids protect each gourmet entrée, and crystal goblets wait, thirsty for the red wine that is currently soaking in an ice bath, and breathing with ease. The last time I breathed with ease I was being slapped on the ass by my mother’s gynecologist.
In reality, life is more like one of those survival shows. It must be pursued and hunted, like wild game in a dense forest. And once caught, you must wrestle the thing to the ground, choke the life out of it with your bare hands, and then tear it apart with your teeth…. and eat it raw.
Sounds disgusting, but it’s the truth. Life is real, not airbrushed, edited, or even made-over. Real life is having to drag your reluctant ass to a job that you hate. EVERY DAY. It’s being cornered by a neighbor’s piranha toothed Pit Bull while you frantically dial 911, or watching the transmission fall out of your car on the first day of your vacation. Actually those are minor compared to death, war, and famine.
Okay, I don’t want to sound too jaded so I’ll throw in some of the benefits of eating life raw; like falling in love, belly laughing with your best friend, and being bold enough to pursue your dreams. You might even learn how to love the unlovely, help the down trodden, or live like a king in Fiji.
I guess the sum of life is this. Life must be eaten raw….daily. And we must trust that whatever dose of shit, or roses, that life gives us, there is a deeper reason for it; a reason that will make sense to us. Someday. We also need to remember that flowers grow in war fields, and ghettos, as well as meticulously tended gardens, and every time it rains, the sun is boldly shining behind the clouds.
I don’t know if we signed up for this life, or if we were drafted; either way life must lived. So be sure eat up because there’s plenty of life to go around.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Weaving Dreams Can Be Messy

I’m exhausted this morning. I had a good nights sleep, but my exhaustion has nothing to do with lack of sleep and more to do with emotional upheaval. I don’t know if that’s even the right word. But working with the developmentally delayed, although very rewarding, can be intensely challenging at times. I don’t want to write about that though because I live it day to day, and it’s not where I need to go this morning. I don’t know where I need to go. I want to crack open my inner egg and find something “me” inside. Mushy mixed up me.
My life is unconventional if compared with the typical married woman’s life. I live away from my husband at least five days/nights a week, sleeping in a bed I bought at a used furniture store, in a condo the next town over. My husband is currently sleeping with our dog. I get homesick sometimes, and at other times I’m glad for the privacy and the time away. I’m a writer and writers tend to need privacy… Although sometimes things at work can get insane and moments alone can be as rare as a unicorn.
I miss my home life though, and long for the day when I’ll get to live there again, full time, and fuss over window treatments, paint my walls, and clean under the bed.
I mentioned that I was a writer. Well, it wasn’t until I turned fifty that I became brazen enough to call myself a writer. I didn’t think I had the right to “title” myself until I was published. But that’s a bunch of snobbish crap. If you write you’re a writer. If you paint you’re a painter, if you dream you’re a dreamer. I not only called myself a writer but completed a 360 page manuscript and am now shopping editors to help me get it “agent ready.” It’s a wonderful thing to have a completed manuscript. My heart smiles when I think of it, stirring up hope for the future; for my future as a writer.
My dream is to write full time and quit all my other jobs. I am steadily working toward that dream, sloshing through the mucky mire of my life, day after day, and mentally chanting “I know I can, I know I can,” when things seem impossible. I just keep moving forward like a driver in a heavy downpour with the windshield wipers on hyper slap, my hands double gripped, and sweating, on the steering wheel, and my pupils fixed and dilated on the road in front of me. It isn’t pretty at times, but alas, I’m still doing it, making certain that my book has a future. It may take me years, and seem unattainable at times, but I want to give my novel a shelf (in a top notch bookstore) to smile from, a lap to lye open on and fingers to dog-ear the pages at their favorite parts. It’s my way of leaving my voice here on earth after the rest of me moves on to the other side. Writing is my passion and my dream, and I’m so grateful to have a dream at a time in my life when I thought all my dreams had dried up. Yup. That’s my dream, now what’s yours?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Guinea Pig Torments

When we were kids my sister and I had to share a bed. Space was limited so doubling up was essential. Sharing never bothered us because we were about the same age. We would climb into bed at night and make up stories to help us fall asleep.

Huddled under a tent of blankets we would create our nonsensical tales, with twists and turns that were totally ridiculous, leaving us in a fit of uncontrollable laughter until our bladders nearly exploded. These episodes usually ended abruptly when Ma hollered from the kitchen for us to be quiet and go to sleep; after which a long pause of dark buzzing silence would ensue until the sounds from the rest of the house found our ears again. A cigarette ad on Ma’s TV, “I’d rather fight than switch”, the radiator knocking out heat in random rhythms, the refrigerator humming like a happy worker trying to keep our food cold.

It was easy to tell when someone was in the fridge because our Guinea pig, “Snoopy,” squeaked loud enough to be heard three houses down every time that somebody opened the refrigerator door. This was his way of lobbying for a snack. If you were quick enough you could sneak into the fridge, toss him a treat, and get back out before he sounded his high pitched alarm. I swear I was conditioned to his squeals like a Pavlovian dog because whenever I heard them the hunger pains commenced.

My parents didn’t allow eating after bedtime. Money was scarce and meals were planned, so there usually wasn’t much extra stuff in the refrigerator to munch on. I can still see the meager provisions in there; a carton of milk, various condiments, some basic veggies, a few eggs, and sometimes large blocks of surplus cheese. The cabinets were pretty bare as well with a slim assortment of spices, a box of unsweetened cereal (for breakfast only,) peanut butter, sugar, and some random canned goods. If we had peanut butter, we were out of bread, or if there was cereal, there was no milk.

Choices were slim but I was resourceful. I acquired a taste for simple cuisine and was a master at making “poor man” sandwiches. Mustard on white without the crust, which I could vary with mayo or ketchup, and then there was the occasional margarine and sugar sandwich, which doubled as a meal or dessert. The condiment jars were glass and heavy, not like the plastic squirt bottles advertising low fat, or heart healthy choices that we have today. These were thick utilitarian glass jars with metal lids, and if you were unfortunate enough to drop one of them on your foot you were guaranteed a trip to the local ER.

Although we were not allowed to eat after bedtime, this never seemed to stop me. When my growling belly called I had to tame it with food or it would keep me awake all night. I recall one time lying in bed doing a mental inventory of available menu choices for a midnight snack before planning my usual assault. I had decided on a crunchy carrot with some vinegar for dipping and was impatiently listening for the noises in the house to die down, signaling the “all clear.”

Eventually the voices from my parent’s TV became muffled, which meant their bedroom door had finally been closed; this was my cue to tip-toe out into the kitchen and snag a quick snack. Carefully I slid out of bed then sock walked over to my bedroom door and cracked it open. Peeking out into the kitchen I could see the light from the moon shining through the kitchen curtains casting eerie shadows that looked like bears and giants standing guard in the darkness.

“Tic click tic click,” it was my dog “Chips” with her long toenails clicking on the linoleum floor like a secretary at the keyboard. Her head was low, her tail wagging, she knew the routine and was hoping for a handout. I brushed past my dog to collect a small bowl for the vinegar, leaving the cabinet door opened, and then made my way to the refrigerator, grabbing the solid metal handle and pulling it downward like a giant slot machine. I could feel the resistance, like suction, but as I applied more muscle the door quietly opened and a great slice of yellow light washed over me.

I snagged the small jar of vinegar at the back of the fridge and was aiming for the carrots in the produce drawer when I heard Snoopy stirring in his cage. I fumbled, trying to be quick, but I wasn’t quick enough. SQUEAK, SQUEAK, SQUEAK! Snoopy’s squeals pierced through the evening silence like a screaming police siren. Ma’s bedroom door flew open and I froze in the refrigerator’s light, holding firmly onto my carrot like a panic stricken rabbit being spotted by poachers.

Knowing Ma’s temper, Chips slunk away and cleverly found refuge under the kitchen table. I stood in terror. Ma marched headlong toward me, snatched away my midnight snack, and hissed at me through clenched teeth,”I thought I told you to go to bed?” Frantically searching for the right words to evoke sympathy I stuttered out a lame, “I was hungry.” But Ma wasn’t moved. She gave me a good stiff smack off the back of my head, tossed my carrot in with Snoopy, and then sent me back to bed.

It wasn’t the slap in the head that hurt (her smacks were more for show,) or knowing that Ma was mad at me, it was watching Ma toss my carrot to Snoopy that really ticked me off. Stupid Guinea Pig!!

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Sky is Falling!

I just had a day off. All week long I looked forward to this day off like a bride waits for her wedding day. And how was my day off? Awful.

With just one day off, and so much to do around the house, I couldn’t seem to relax. It seems I can’t take one day off without feeling like I should be kick butt busy all day. If I’m watching TV, I think I should be cleaning. If I’m cleaning, I think I should be writing, and if I’m writing I think I should be walking or exercising. I am never satisfied with what I’m doing because my brain doesn’t know how to shut off. With all this mental chatter come the coordinated emotions to go with it.

I tell myself; “I should be cleaning.” Which turns into “Get your life together you slob?” resulting in the emotion of guilt.
“I should be walking.” translates to “Hey fatty you look like crap.” resulting in the emotion of shame.
I should be writing evolves into a loud “You’re never going to get that book done…you loser!” resulting in the emotion of fear.
So, I clean the house, walk the dog, and work on my book, then I settle onto the couch with a bowl of healthy watermelon to watch an episode of my favorite TV show when the negative, and nagging, mental dialog starts up…..again.

An ad for facial cream comes on featuring a flawless faced twenty something, prompting my hand to move to the deep lines around my eyes, and I tell myself, “It’s too late for me. I should have started moisturizing when I was ten. The only thing that might help me now is a face lift, but they cost tons of money, which I don’t have, and besides in this neck of the woods there are no good surgeons so I’d probably end up with a botched facelift anyway. This triggers the emotion of fear. Fear of being ugly and old. Fun huh?

I’m certain that I’m tired because I can usually balance my thinking out. I call this mental maintenance. For every negative thought that I have I replace it with a positive one; which usually results in the good thoughts winning over the evil ones. But if I get tired, or worn down from life, and let go of my mental maintenance program then the negative thoughts subtly build on each other until they are all that I can hear, resulting in panic, anxiety, and a certainty that the end of the world is near. I call it the Chicken Little Syndrome. You know….That little chick that ran around, panic stricken, telling everyone that the sky was falling. O course it wasn’t, she'd just been hit on the head by an acorn. But a bunch of her buddies believed her and followed her into Foxey Loxey’s den where they all become fox food.

Yup, swallowing the lies of negativity may cause one to lose rationality and start running from an imagined disaster straight into the mouth of a very real one. So, forget the cleaning, walking, writing, or whatever is nagging at you, but never EVER forget your mental maintenance program. Nope.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Like The Weather...I Change

We’re under a tropical storm warning today in southwestern Florida, something I seem to have grown used to. It’s funny how I can adjust to the wild climate changes around me but if a driver cuts me off in traffic it totally pisses me off and ruins a perfectly good mood… instantly! Emotions are fickle, and like the weather, they vary daily. A lot of stuff can get thrown at me in a twenty four hour period, so it’s not uncommon for me to experience dozens of “mini moods” in one day. When things are going smoothly I feel sunny and optimistic. When I feel sad about something it’s as though the skies have darkened and the rain is falling. Nature reflects my moods back to me like a mirror, patiently, and sternly teaching me how to be. The sky doesn’t complain because it’s having a rainy day. It accepts it as part of life and submits to the changes… the constant changes.
I tend to beat myself up for having shifting emotions. I don’t like the feelings of being angry, fearful, or anxious. I see those feelings as the enemies of my soul and signs of spiritual weakness. But experiencing intense emotions is not a weakness. It’s very human. My emotions are simply responding to how I happen to be thinking about the things that are going on in my life at the time. Beating myself up for having all these emotions is totally fruitless and only perpetuates my emotional storm. It’s when I recognize my emotions, and I allow them to blow through my soul….in one side and out the other, like a breeze blowing through an open window, that I get release. I needn’t bottle up every breeze that blows and brood over it. Everyone knows you can’t catch the wind; you simply must let it blow. I am old enough to see what triggers my emotions and young enough to know where to run to when I'm feeling undone. I need to find the quiet place within myself where I know my papa God lives, calm my thinking, and rest in His care. This is where I feel safe; safe enough to sleep through a heavy storm.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Waiting in Line for Life

I recently went to a nearby fast food joint for a quick lunch of chili and a diet soda, tenaciously avoiding the delectable, but deadly, cheeseburger and fries. While I was in line waiting to order my skinny girl feast I noticed a man in front of me who looked to be about my age but with a little more wear. His hair was salt and sunshine blond, loosely pulled back into a ponytail, allowing a crop of stray hairs to halo his tanned face. His eyes were friendly, and when he smiled the wrinkles around his eyes joined in, giving him a good natured weathered look, like he could have been the wise captain of a great ship.
We chatted as people do when they are stuck in a line together. He spoke about the headaches of cell phones. His had fallen into his swimming pool and he ended up paying a king's ransom to replace it. He showed me his new phone like an adoring father sharing photos of his first born.
Gathering my food, I found an empty booth by the window and settled in. Soon the captain was at my table asking if I minded if he joined me. Not vibing any “stranger danger” I welcomed his offer. We chatted on about a thousand little random things at once. There was anticipation in his voice when he spoke, and I could tell he enjoyed telling his story, and perhaps hadn't had the opportunity to do so in a very long time. We took turns bantering back and forth in a charged ping pongy sort of way.
After nearly an hour of verbal purging a comfortable silence replaced our electrified chatter. We had both vented and now it was time to move on. It was nice to meet the captain (We never did exchange names) and find out about his world. I knew I would only be with him for this one hour and then he would be gone forever. This created a sense of satisfaction for me. I could enjoy this stranger’s company without any strings attached. I would never have to get to know what his issues were, or give him time to piss me off. I would be oblivious to the date of his birthday or what foods he was allergic too. I was free to explore who he was at that moment and then let him go. However, when I watched him walk away I felt a pinch of sadness too, because in that short hour we had formed a bond. It wasn’t a strong bond, like between best friends, it was more of a common bond between two sojourners on a journey; two souls making there way through a crowded world in search of a listening ear and perhaps a dash of understanding. It was just an ordinary moment that had somehow enriched my life, and I’m so glad that I took the time to enjoy it. Yup.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ordinary Insanity

Life is not a one night grand production where adoring fans applaud us, and the morning news heralds our praises for the entire world to see; thus validating our existence. Life is much more ordinary. But just because the bulk of life is ordinary, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t important. Some people miss out on life, always waiting for that one big thing to happen, casting away ordinary moments like unwanted ticket stubs. Is it even possible to measure our success by one attained goal?
Well, what if that one great moment never arrives? Or what if it already came and we didn’t recognize it because we were too busy searching the skies for fireworks? Real life exists in the breathe of the moment, it’s the words that we choose to speak and the thoughts that we choose to dwell on that inspire the steps that we take in life.
Most people have many successes in life, yet the bulk of them are very private; like getting over an abusive childhood, raising happy kids, or finding forgiveness for the people who have hurt them. These are great successes. Ordinary, well, if you compare them to writing a Pulitzer Prize winning novel, yes, but their value is immeasurable, and I doubt very much that they were easier to attain.
Many of us fall into the bad habit of measuring ourselves against the images on TV,… or the backs of books. Emaciated models, air brushed movie stars, and edited anchors dominate our media. Unfortunately these role models don’t even exist as we see them. They’ve been created by image consultants and script writers, and inside their heads, and skin, they are just as ordinary as the rest of us. We should only measure ourselves against ourselves, like a child’s grow chart penciled on the doorframe by a loving parent with their name above it. Our personal growth and successes are uniquely our own, like our fingerprints, and even though sometimes it may seem like nothing is happening or even worse, we are going backwards, we must stubbornly stand in faith trusting that the road that we are on is part of the plan, and will eventually lead us to where our destiny calls.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Coffee Calls Me

Today I need to talk about coffee. Ah coffee,…that steamy amber liquid that somehow seems alive in its own coffee way. It has a seductive coffee voice which becomes magnified as it bubbles through the most important appliance in my house…my coffee maker.

Coffee calls me from my bed, alluring me with its aromatic coffee cologne, stirring me from my sleep with a smile on my face, (something that not even the Chippendale dancers could accomplish.) The smell of coffee in the morning evokes confidence and optimism about my day; even when my day is already in the crapper.

The simple act of getting a cup of coffee is an activity in and of itself. I love driving to the coffee shop with the radio blasting, phoning a friend to meet me there, and then drooling and dribbling over the extensive coffee menu before picking out my favorite blend. After a few swigs of high test I proceed to dominate the conversation because I selected the potent Triple Arabian Lady Killer, otherwise known as “TALK,” and my friend went for a half-caf with cream and sugar. Wimp.

I love to top off a delicious meal with a hot cup of coffee and a decadent dessert, or even better… make my coffee the dessert by spiking it with expensive liquor.
I’ve noticed that home coffee brewing has become quite complicated over the years. Some people agonize over the various choices of brewing machines. Do they go espresso or non-espresso, brew by the cup or pot? But the average coffeeholic trots down to Wally World, snags the fifty dollar special, and uses it until it falls apart or becomes to gross to use.

It’s hard to find time to clean my coffee maker because it’s always in use. Oh yeah, sometimes on my way to bed I’ll see it sitting on the counter, covered with brown stains and fingerprints, and I’ll think “gee, I really should clean this thing.” But by then I’m way too tired to bother so I say “screw it” and give it the usual light rinse out before filling it and setting the timer for 7:00 am. If it fails to brew you can bet I would use my last fifty bucks to replace it rather than using that money for such nonessentials as blood pressure medication or food. Yup, I think coffee is my best friend.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Vacation Separation

Vacation is over; gone like yesterday’s weather, leaving me as full as a jelly donut with all the pleasures I gorged myself on over the last week. Of course it’s a mellow residual sort of feeling by now, like the after glow following good sex; fragile as a shadow but still oh so satisfying. Monday morning looms over me, bossy and overbearing, ordering me to get in line and report to duty like a loud mouthed drill sergeant on crack. I can feel my sedative little glow slipping away, leaving me dependant on my naked resolve to stay upbeat. I paint my face, throw on some work clothes, and head out the door, telling myself that I can make it through the day by conjuring the next vacation I will get to take… in only 364 days. It doesn't get much more real than this. Seeing the work days stretched out ahead of me is like approaching a vast mountain range that I must cross, alone….and barefooted. But then I remember the old adage “One day at a time.” and the mountain range shrinks down to one solitary mountain. But damn it’s tall, so I search my mental flash drive for a better adage and quote loudly “One minute at a time.” to myself and God and all those who can read lips in the cars around me, thus reducing my mountain to a large speed bump on the road of life. Turning up my car radio, and taking a deep breathe, I let the music drive deep into my soul, inspiring my hands to drum against the steering wheel, while a determined smile spreads across my vulnerable face. Yup.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

In My Car

I always wished that I could sing. Having a voice and not being able to hold a note is like having wings and not being able to fly. I open my mouth to sing but the sound falls flat, souring the melody, and embarrassing me. When I was a little kid I used to lip sync to all my favorite songs. But back then my voice was a high pitched child’s voice that warbled with inexperience, which left me with the hope that I would eventually grow up and get my real voice…my pretty voice. I’m still lip syncing. In church I mouth most of the hymns; I’m sure God appreciates the break.

It amazes me how many people think that they can sing. They open their mouths and let their screechy voices fly causing those standing within earshot to move back, block their ears, and roll their eyes with irritation. I’m not saying that you need to have a great voice to sing, I’m only saying that you should have a great voice if you plan on singing loudly.

I often wonder how talents are given out. Does God decide ahead of time to bless certain people with certain skills, or do you stand in the line of the talent of your choice. Does that work with physical attributes too? Or is the whole process of acquiring talent, beauty and brains random, like the lottery, with the lucky ones hitting pay dirt while the rest of us make due?

My mother had a lovely voice and used to sing to me all the time. Now that I mention it I don’t recall my mother encouraging me to join in, and I often wondered what she meant when she said, “don’t quit your day job honey,” when I did sing along with her. I guess singing must skip a generation.

So now the only time I attempt a solo is in my car with the music blasting louder than my vocal range. I sing like a diva in the spot-light on my imaginary stage, dazzling my make-believe fans, and causing all who know me to stand in awe at my amazing talent; except, of course, for the people sitting in the car next to me. They lock their doors and inch forward.