Sunday, February 15, 2009

Hey, Optimist! Who me?

I've never really had a definitive answer to the age-old question, "Is the glass half full or half empty?" 


I know the way you answer that supposedly determines – or identifies – whether you're an optimist or a pessimist; but what would you be if you just can't answer that question without first having some other additional facts regarding the glass in question?  To begin with, where did this glass even come from?  Is it sitting on a counter beside a lunch plate?  If so, I'd have to go with half full.  Or, is it sitting in a sink?  If that's the case, I'd go with half empty. 


See, we don't live in a black-white world.  There are always shades of gray that must be taken into consideration.  If pressed, say, to look at a still life of the aforementioned glass and come up with an answer, I guess I'd go with half full.  Glasses always start out empty; so whether the one in question, at one time, was full, doesn't matter.  The glass is a vessel that has half its available capacity filled – keyword – filled with liquid.  Half full. 


That mental stream of consciousness is hardly screaming optimism, is it?  When you hear optimism don't you generally think sun-shiny, upbeat and peppy?  The way I arrived at 'half full' was anything but; no, my approach was more dogmatic – a tiresome, analytical drudgery.  Welcome to my world!


I did realize the other day, though, and without the help of this psychological visual aid, that I am, without a doubt, an unwavering optimist.  And the answer was right in front of me – for years – right in my own bathroom.  Yes, bathroom.


See, every morning I typically go through the same personal hygiene regimen, day in and day out – every day – the same. 


After brushing my teeth, I discard the junior-sized 3 oz. Dixie cup into the wastebasket that sits on the floor just inches from my sink cabinet.  I begin by tapping out any remaining water, then I move my arm to the left, positioning my hand directly above the trash receptacle and then, like the Triple Crane in an arcade machine, I release my grip letting the cup fall to rest… on the floor!  Huh?!?  With a disgusted sigh, I bend over, pick up the cup and place it in the can.


I continue with my routine.  For whatever reason, as I age, I now blow my nose after brushing my teeth.  I pull up a tissue from the boutique box, then blow, crumple and toss into… you guessed it – the mind-numbing, elusive vortex of trash collection.  I watch, almost with pride, as the tissue initially flies through the air, arcing at just the right moment to make a perfect two-pointer – SWISH – but then, for some inexplicable reason, it hooks off to the left and lands on the floor quite a few inches from its original destination.  Huh?!?  With a disgusted sigh, I bend over, pick up the tissue and place it in the can.


As the ENT portion of my morning ritual nears completion, after removing the towel from my head, I use Q-Tips to wipe the excess water from my ears.  I swab, turn, swab again and then toss.  Defying the Laws of Physics, these cotton-topped sticks perplex me the most.  They actually make it in the can, but it's only for a second before "plink," and with that, they jump right back out and land on the floor!  Huh?!?  With a disgusted sigh, I bend over, pick up the Q-Tips and place them in the can.


Well, it dawned on me the other day that, in spite of my apparent deficiency in eye-hand coordination, the fact that I continually discard these items, expecting them to go into the wastebasket – even though history dictates that they won't – is the purest act of optimism there is. 


Maybe that damn Dixie cup would go in if I left half the water in it – or if I dumped half out – I don't know.  What I do know is that I will continue to optimistically make my tosses, and if the discarded objects wind up on the floor, well then, with a disgusted sigh I will bend over, retrieve them and place them in the can. 


Until the next time.


 - M



Sunday, February 1, 2009


Let me put to rest any assumptions that readers of my book, The Ones That Got Away – A Dating Memoir, may be formulating by the title of this post. 


When I write '44' I am not referring to Kenny, my football player boyfriend from Jackson who proudly sported the number 44 on the back of his jersey.  I am referring, of course, to Barack Hussein Obama of Illinois, our newly inaugurated 44th president of the United States of America. 


To say the hoopla leading up to the inauguration was frenzied is probably an understatement.  It seems that everywhere you looked – TV, newspapers, magazines – everyone was abuzz with anticipatory excitement and glee, and yet, I couldn't help but wonder if Mr. Obama had begun to feel like the pretty girl who's given no credit for having a brain in her head – you know, like a model who's judged solely on her skin-deep beautiful packaging.  Don't get me wrong, this is an amazing milestone in the history of our country; but don't you think he must have felt like screaming, "I'm more than just the color of my skin."?  Honestly, no one was really talking about anything else.  It would have been nice to hear a little more about his achievements and accomplishments, as well as his future plans; after all, he does have some big issues to tackle.


-         He needs to create stimulus plans (hard to believe, but there was a time this wasn't a familiar colloquialism) that will hopefully boost our economy by creating jobs, restructuring taxes and curbing government spending.


-         There are domestic issues that vie for his attention: Healthcare, Education, Environment – of course, we can't mention the environment without bringing up off-shore drilling. (Drill, baby, drill!  I can't be the only one who has that chant lodged in her head – it's in there like Disney's "It's a Small World.")


-         Foreign issues still loom large:  We have the on-going war in Iraq, rampant terrorism and our sullied worldwide reputation.


Yes, the issues are certainly big and, as a nation, we are all hopeful for change.  Just look at some of the headlines from that monumental day:






They say that just as in FDR's administration, the first 100 days will be key.  So, how did it all begin?  Well, we had the first ever inaugural oath hiccup which was followed by a whirlwind of parties, parades and celebrating; but after that, it got a little more serious. 


Day 1 started with taking the oath – again (an oath do-over, if you will).  Next he read the note left by George W. Bush.  (I wonder what that note said.  Do you think he quoted George Washington saying, "I am fairly out and you are fairly in! See which of us will be happiest!"?  I bet every president has probably used that line – and rightly so.)  Then, after 10 solemn minutes alone in the Oval Office, he emerged – I imagine with someone announcing in the background, "Let the term begin!" 


How to start? What to do first? Well, if you vowed to "begin again the work of remaking America" then you need to hit the ground running; so why not begin by signing a series of executive orders? A series. (Well, he is on the clock – 100 days and ticking…)


So let's see, where does this leave us, really?  We all know where we are now, and we know where we've been – but do we know where we're going? 


Vow of change?  I don't know what that means.  I hope it's for the good because we are in quite the pickle right now.  He does seem to have tremendous support – he was elected, after all.  It was reported that over 1.8 million people flocked to Washington for his inauguration, and 38 million more watched it on TV.  As Colin Powell said, "The whole country is excited."  And it is – about what, exactly, I'm not sure; but it is like Obama-mania has set in. 


True, our economy may be on the verge of collapse, but the fashion industry is buzzing about 'who' Michelle is wearing.  And, of all the pertinent topics of interest out there, a fair amount of reporting was done about the new First Dog – in fact, President Obama had called the issue of choosing a family dog "major" and said that it generated "more interest on our website than just about anything."


I sincerely hope his use of the word 'major' was taken out of context because he really has much bigger issues to deal with – ones that truly deserve the adjective 'major.'  It is nice to see, though, that Americans are checking in on what matters most to them. 


So, as America amuses itself with dogs and designers, he's busy signing executive orders – somehow I can't help but think of Billy Flynn's show-stopping number, "Razzle Dazzle," from the hit play Chicago.  (Chicago? That's kind of funny, huh?  Believe me when I tell you, that was not intentional.)


In any event, I wish him the best of luck – popularity is, after all, a fickle friend. 


Hail to the Chief!


 - M