Saturday, December 31, 2011

One Thousand, Eight Hundred and Twenty Five

I’ve just finished watching Julie and Julia (again). It occurred to me that success seems to be achieved while you’re busy doing something else. At least, that is what I gleaned from the movie, which must be why I liked Forest Gump and Oh Brother, Where Art Thou, so much.

That happens to be my most treasured fantasy you know, when success literally smacks you in the back of the head while you’re frantically trying to make something else work. So, here is a young woman who sets a goal for herself to prepare all of Julia’s French recipes within a year. I’ll be darned if she didn’t do it too, not to mention finishing the book and having it turned into a movie.

Well, I thought, I’m a frustrated writer, musician, artist, chef, ice skater, ballroom dancer, gardener, poker player, horse trainer, and knitter. Maybe that is what the problem is. I’m just not focused enough. Maybe I should just pick something and jump in with both feet. After all, it’s the perfect time of year to set a goal. Right?

I just made a list of my partially developed hobbies. I realized that I have been playing the guitar for the last thirty-five years and have never advanced further than, The Puppy Song. I don’t think I have enough time left to master it.

I rendered portraits a couple of decades ago and turned myself inside out to please people and get their images young enough, having the right style and quantity of hair, and with attractive noses and teeth. I felt like a cosmetic surgeon. Sigh.

My mother wanted me to skate in the chorus line of the Ice Capades. Even with the bar lowered, my Axel jump was a disaster.

I’m an Arthur Murray dropout, my garden was eaten by enormous green bugs, and I don’t have the energy to turn a saddle sore into a callus again. Yes, you do have to grow a callus on your tailbone to ride a horse.

I don’t think my tater-tot, lima bean casserole will make it into a cookbook.

Since it was mentioned in the movie that Julie thought she had A.D.D. (Perhaps I do too, ya’ think?) and that was the reason she never finished her novel.

I thought, as an intensely focused hobby, I might collect five thoughts per day from those suffering from A.D.D. If we start tomorrow, by the end of 2012, I will have collected one thousand, eight hundred and twenty-five thoughts. That’s a very impressive thought collection, don't you think? Of course, if you submit a thought, that would mean you are granting me permission to use it. Incomplete thoughts are welcome and the more humorous, the better. Keep it clean and original. If you use someone else’s thought, give ‘em credit.

Come on, don’t suffer with your A.D.D. Maybe if we have fun with it, the spell will be broken and A.D.D. will become nothing more than an unpleasant partial memory. Since it is more fun to participate in a group, I will expect everyone to pull their own A.D.D. weight.

Comments are welcome….uh….now...wait...what was the topic?

Monday, December 26, 2011

What, Me Worry?

Growing up, I learned many valuable things from my mother. Things like, the television gets really clear just before it blows up and if you swallow a fingernail it will puncture your intestines and never eat a banana before going to bed. The most beneficial piece of advice though, has carried me through most of my life; always expect the worst and you’ll never be disappointed.

I like to look up the meaning of words, it's kind of a hobby of mine, not to mention that knowing the meaning of words comes in quite handy if you're a writer. I looked up the word, 'worry', and this is what I found:

   [wur-ee, wuhr-ee] torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts; fret. move with effort: an old car worrying uphill. torment with cares, anxieties, etc.; trouble; plague. seize, especially by the throat, with the teeth and shake or mangle, as one animal does another. harass by repeated biting, snapping, etc.

I just realized that this adds a whole new experience update to my mother's Linked-in profile, if she had one, and if she were alive.

Of course, there are things that have to be taught by example, words just aren’t enough. There is an art to worrying that has been developed primarily for aesthetics rather than utility. Hands must be wrung dramatically. My mother had brick-red knuckles. I have tried, but have never been able to achieve the same shade although I’m happy with my current skin tone which borders on unripe watermelon.

Crossing oneself is helpful if of the Catholic religion. I have crossed myself just to see what it is like but I’m not Catholic so it doesn’t count, but when the back of the hand is pressed to the forehead coupled with a facial grimace immediately following the cross, the effect can be fantastic. This stance is usually to induce guilt in others but can also foster compassion. If however someone tries to reassure the worrier, they may receive a look that suggests something bad is going to happen to them. Pacing can be effective but only if done while muttering.

“You’re always the one who gets hurt,” has stuck with me since childhood. Funny, it sure seemed that way as I was growing up. I realize now that probably all children get hair brushes tangled in their hair and have to have them cut out, and have been knocked down by a stray dog leaping through a screen door or written about in the medical journal of 1968 because of complications following a tonsillectomy, and I’m sure there are plenty of kids who have been run over by the family car.

If you don’t tell someone to drive safely, or be careful, they will be in a horrible accident. I don’t know what the statistics are on this, in fact, I don’t know what the statics are on a lot of things but, “they say,” by not cautioning someone before they set out may cause them to become unstable and make poor choices. I don’t take any chances, I tell loved ones to be careful. It always makes my mailman smile.

If you don’t tell someone you worry about them, you will be in a horrible accident. I think my mother confused love with worry. If she didn’t worry about you, she didn’t love you. If she didn’t love you, she didn’t worry about you. It made sense to her.

I’m still not sure if anything bad will happen if I eat a banana before going to bed but I don’t intend to find out.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Experiencing The A.S.S.

Germany has developed a unique device, actually a suit, which is an, Age Simulator System, or ASS for those who enjoy acronyms. It is thought that this suit will help young designers of electrical appliances, cars and medical equipment improve designs by being made aware of the specific difficulties of those in their autumn years. God forbid we say the ‘O’ word. Old, old, old, old…there, I said it, thrice.

The suit has weights sewn in at various points to simulate heaviness, built-in ear muffs to decrease hearing and the helmet has a visor that restricts the line of vision and wraps it in a dull yellowish tinge. A quote from one of the first to try the suit was, “Just crossing the street was an adventure, sitting down on a bench was a pain and getting up was exhausting.” A twenty-three-year-old explained that the joints in the suit deliberately stiffened, preventing her from getting her leg over a bike. Yet another said he fumbled around in pain as he reached for his wallet, with the gloves pricking his hands at every moment. I’ll bet they were happy to have their ASS fall off. The price of this suit wasn’t mentioned, but I’m sure with all the features mentioned, it’s not cheap.

Why is it so important for us to know what it feels like to be old? How would experiencing ten minutes in any kind of simulation help us to be kinder people? Shouldn’t we be kind and make things easier just because we should?

I think the ASS was developed so we won’t be afraid to grow old…to die. We will you know, grow old before we die, if we are lucky. There are ways to know what it feels like to be old without spending vast amounts of money. Here are a few exercises that I guarantee will simulate the natural aging process.

Go to the nearest sleep gallery, jump up on the bed closest to you and try to prance around the room by jumping from bed to bed. Be sure to keep your knees bent when crossing over the water beds. Two times around the room should give you a good idea of what arthritis in the knee joints feels like.

Next time you’re at a Grand Opening, stare into the spotlight they have roving the sky. I would suggest a good thirty minutes as the perfect amount of time to experience the reduced vision associated with cataracts.

Drink several 32 oz. beverages, but don’t go to the bathroom. Go to a comedy show. This will simulate incontinence, believe me.

Ask a friend to stand behind you, place an air horn against the back of your head, and blow it for one full minute. If performed correctly, this will replicate the major hearing loss that most elderly people experience. It may take some time to recover from this test, be patient.

Fill a large wading pool with water. Run as fast as you can through the water several times around the circumference. Be sure to wear rubber sole deck shoes. This test is for experiencing the feeling one gets from standing up too quickly. If you fall, you may hit your head on a sprinkler head and that would be the self-induced coma simulator for those who are curious as to what that feels like.

Let’s not be afraid of the natural wearing out process. Thumb your nose at death, go ahead, it is fun. I have laughed in the face of death (even after eating garlic), had brushes with him, flirted with him and even gone so far as to give him a lap dance. See? I’m okay.

The only thing that really bothers me about aging is that I seem to be shrinking and I have more weight to lose than I originally thought.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Third Eye Lasik

I have been made painfully aware of my much-too-concerned attitude about my physical body and social conformity. Just the other day, I was having lunch in a local café when I looked up and noticed a man was staring at me. The strange thing was that he was not looking at me through the two holes in his face that we know as eyes. He was actually gawking at me through his third eye! As if that wasn’t enough, I clearly heard his thoughts inside my own head. He was telling me that I was mentally unsteady, lacked focus and had a dread fear of amnesia. He screamed for me to just forget about what I can’t remember. I was so offended that I flicked a forkful of cole slaw at him, targeting his brow area. It worked. His spiritual vision was blocked. The café manager quickly escorted me out, but I managed to yell at the smarmy, third-eye peeping Tom, that he should have more respect for the chakra handicapped. I’m just glad I stopped him before his inner eye revealed my fear of being evaluated negatively in social situations.

It is common knowledge that we have physical and non-physical senses. Of course, I have a very strong fifth sense about these things, but activating my third-eye or what some call, the brow chakra, has been a very arduous task. I have tried gazing into the flame of a candle for an hour or two, calming my thoughts, watching my cat’s eyes to establish a meditative state and even staring at my face in the bathroom mirror for prolonged periods. It was hard to keep a straight face during this exercise, and giggling interfered with my inner peace. I felt superior when I noticed that my reflection blinked first and reveled in the victory until I realized that my ego was becoming much too involved and turned the session into an undesirable competition.

It was this state that brought me to Swami Kapesh Kumar. I found his ad in the personals while searching for my soul mate. Swami Kumar has perfected a surgical procedure as an alternative to activating the third eye by means of meditation. It involves the use of a ball-peen hammer. With one swift, forceful and nearly painless tap, he is able to dislodge the third eye from its lazy status and instantly create a glittering star-studded aura.

The giddiness usually wears off within an hour after awakening, and is followed by an overwhelming sense of well-being. The only drawback is the red dot located just above the bridge of the nose. He says it should fade in time. I’ve seen this dot on middle-eastern women before, but I had no idea it was the result of third-eye lasik surgery.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

You'll Tide

So…here we are again. The time of year that happens like clockwork but always manages to take me by surprise. The season spirit drives us to the malls, to the kitchen and festive gatherings. The only place it ever drove me is crazy. Though we are reminded, it is time to renew our faith; we mustn’t forget to renew our Visa and Master cards too. As if my credit cards aren’t still wheezing from last year.

Time to get out the nutcrackers…the cards, the bubble lights, flicker flame lights, LED Christmas lights, angels, nativity scenes, ornaments, cinnamon-scented pine cones, kneeling Santa collections, the holiday-decorated spin shades for the lamps, garlands, fairies and stockings.

By the way, I found out how this silly, hang a stocking on the fireplace mantle idea came about. It turns out that St. Nicholas passing by the homes of maidens too poor to afford a dowry, money that a bride gives to her groom for her wedding. (I always wondered what that big, huge, humongous, honkin’ wad of money I gave my ex was called). Anyway, he would throw gold coins down the chimneys where they would fall into stockings which were hung over the fire to dry. Heh. Yeah, right.

Actually, I don’t have to decorate at all. A couple of my neighbors have been involved in a decorating competition for some time now. By December 15th, it’ll look like Christmas threw up right here in my little cul-de-sac.

Stocking stuffers used to be candy, fruit, small toys, those Chinese finger traps, and if you were a complete bad ass, a lump of coal. The other day I read an article that had a list of suggestions for stocking stuffers. They included, a digital picture frame ($199.), comfort slippers ($50.), portable GPS system ($399.), wireless stock market tracker ($85.), motorized grill cleaning brush ($30.), electronic recipe guide ($25.). GEESH! DOESN’T ANYONE LIKE FRUIT ANYMORE???

I even found a website that is selling an adopt a vine for one year. A perfect gift for any wine lover. You get a welcome letter, a booklet about wine, a personalized pen and a vine adoption certificate. The vine is located at a famous British vineyard. Upon registration, you get a map and directions to the vineyard and a certificate that entitles you to a free tour and wine tasting.

I have a better idea. What about an adopt a flat-screen tv for a year? The perfect gift for any television lover. You would receive a copy of the owner's manuel, a personalized remote, a bunch of information about the history of television, and one full day of movies and two special events...booked in advance, of course. Just send a check for $300. payable to me, and I'll see that you receive your gift package before Christmas.

Sadly, it’s gone beyond commercial at this point and I wouldn’t be surprised if people will start registering for their Christmas gifts and try to get you to believe it will relieve you of the stress of making a decision. If that’s the case, I’ll tell you where I’m registered right now, Longo Lexus, Tiffany & Company, Countrywide Mortgage, Princess Cruises and Ramsgate Yacht Sales.

Yeah, and lets don't forget to cram our faces with candy, pie, turkey, stuffing and those green beans soaked in mushroom soup. I considered taking a class from a well-known chocolate and patisserie school to make Petit Fours, but then I realized I hadn’t taken the prerequisites…Petit Ones, Twos and Threes. Incidentally, if you’re wondering what to do with that fruitcake that no one wants, they make a great floatation device.

This year, I think I will just enjoy a life size snowman, positioned in the middle of my front lawn and fashioned like a caganer.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Moment of Truth

I’ve always prided myself on being an honest person, for the most part. I mean, there are those little white lies you tell, “sorry I’m late, I forgot about the time change and didn’t set my clock,” or, “my, that dress makes you look ten pounds lighter.” I like to think of it as being thrifty with the truth. Whatever.

Speaking of being pounds lighter, I was notified that I would need to report to the DMV, to renew my driver’s license. I was a little perturbed by this, because they had been renewing it through the mail for twelve years. I was perfectly content with keeping that particular photo, no matter how old I had become.

So, after waiting over an hour in a long line, listening to sighs and complaints, I reached the clerk at the counter. She looked at my application and asked, “Is all of your information the same?”
I was about to say yes, but some unseen force commanded me to say, “No.”
She looked up. “What has changed?”
“My weight.” I hadn’t changed the weight from the time I applied for my very first driver’s license, at age sixteen. My license claimed I was a lithe, one hundred and fifteen pounds. I figured if I ever had an accident, they would be looking all over for me, underneath the fat woman.

She blinked, and then stared at me, as if I were about a half-bubble off plumb, for admitting to such a thing. “What weight should I put down for you?”
“145.” I lied again! I had actually topped my single birth maternity weight, and was pushing for twins. Of course, if the DMV were smart, they would have a scale with a billboard-size display. You would be fined for every pound exceeded on your driver’s license. Not to mention, everyone in the building could see what you weigh. It sure would take care of the state’s financial deficit. And obesity would be a thing of the past.

She wrote down my answer and sent me over for another picture. I’ve always wondered why they don’t offer finger-size peanut butter sandwiches before they take the shot. This way, when you’re sucking in your cheeks and using your tongue to scrape the peanut butter off the roof of your mouth, they could get an even more attractive photo than they already do.

Know what’s ironic? My doctor finally convinced me to lose weight by threatening me with cholesterol medication. So, now I’m down to one hundred and twenty pounds. That’s only five pounds away from the original weight on my license. Just goes to show, you should let sleeping dogs lie.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Don't Contaminate The Crash Site!

Have you ever had a computer crash? Well, let me tell you, from my own experience it isn’t pretty. I must say though, I now know more about what not to do than what to do in a computer emergency.

I know I won’t perform CPU on my CPU (central processing unit)… ever again. Yelling at a computer will give you a whole new category in feelings of powerlessness. Watching as data slips away can be a frightening encounter but hitting the keyboard will do nothing more than tip over your bowl of corn chowder. By the way, it is impossible to blow corn chowder out of a computer keyboard. It was at that exact moment that the tower began to grind and squeal. It must have been the sound of the head whatchamacallit ramming into the spinning serving platter that stores stuff. After my tenth attempt at rebooting, I must have caused more damage. At least, that is what Franklin, my computer doctor said. My visit went something like this:

Franklin: Can you describe what was happening when your computer broke down?

Me: I had just finished talking on the phone to my friend, Rita about her overactive bladder. She says her bladder muscles contract inappropriately if you can believe that. Her doctor wants to put her on an antidepressant to paralyze the muscles but the side effects are scary. Blurred vision, dizziness, dry mouth, fatigue, nausea, insomnia…I think I’d rather pee my pants.

Franklin: I mean, what was your computer doing when it stopped operating?

Me: Oh, well I went to look up the website for the bladder foundation. I remember reading that you could remedy an ailing bladder with pelvic floor exercises. I think she should also consider a holistic approach and start taking Butterbur supplements.
I laughed. That reminds me of Barliman Butterbur, you know, the owner of Inn of the Prancing Pony in Lord of the Rings?

Franklin: Then what did you do?

Me: When?

Franklin: When you searched the website.

Me: Oh yeah. Everything froze…even my mouse.

Franklin: And then?

Me: After turning the damn thing off, I rattled off cuss words until I completely ran out. Finally, I said a prayer and then anointed it.

Franklin: With what?

Me: Well, I didn’t think oil would be good for it and I didn’t have any holy water so I spit on it.

Franklin: So, you committed violence against your computer.

Me: Oh, for God’s sake. Are you going to turn me in? Can’t you help me find the little black box that explains why the crash happened?

Franklin: This isn’t a plane crash.

Me: Okay, what about checking with the Sacred Hall of Computer Records or a scanning device of some kind?

Franklin: There is no sacred hall, there are no special tricks to research what led up to the crash unless I can look at it, and the only records for your computer would be inside it.

Me: So, it’s like a really big brain with information stored in different areas?

Franklin: Baby Brain.

Me: Excuse me?

Franklin: I’m assuming you are using a desktop PC.

Me: Well, it’s sitting on my desk, yes.

Franklin: Baby Brain.

I felt my chest tighten and my lower lip began to quiver.

Me: I feel like I’m locked in a big dark box and the directions for getting out are written on the outside. What I need is for you to read them to me, loud and clear in language that a five-year-old child could understand.

Franklin: My five-year-old daughter would have diagnosed the problem and had the computer up and running by now.

It took me a few moments to compose myself.

Me: Alright, Franklin, I’m going to draw a chalk line around this disaster. You just get over here and charge me your $100 an hour. But you better install an airbag because I’m never going to go through another crash like this again.