Sunday, December 23, 2012

Cue R.E.M. No, wait...

Well, uneventfully, 12/21/12 has come and gone.  Is anyone surprised?


R.E.M. wrote "It's The End of the World" back in 1987 and it's enjoyed quite a bit of air play over the years.  Apart from the first few lines and the chorus, I have no idea what they're saying – well, the first few lines, the chorus and that part in the middle when they belt out Leonard Bernstein.  Does anyone know anything other than those parts?  Does it matter?  I don't think so.  We all know what the song is about:  The end of the world.  Whether it's the real end, or just the end as we know it – which would be the end of our own little worlds – it's still the end.  For some curious reason, this is a topic that interests a lot of people to no end.


Since the beginning, there's been no shortage of prophesiers, seers and soothsayers prognosticating the world's demise.  Me, I don't understand the obsession.  They (unidentified all-knowing group of the wise) say that most people don't like to think about death – especially their own.  It's why so many are caught ill-prepared when death comes unexpectedly.  There are no plans made for what to do with the bodies: donate, cremate, inter; no arrangements made for those left behind; no instructions on assets.  It's crazy.  People live like they're not going to die.  Newsflash: You are.  Denial is the oft-cited reason for the general aversion to death. 


I don't mind talking about when I'm no longer going to be around.  I don't know why, really, it just doesn't bother me.  One day while taking a walk with my niece and nephew, this otherwise morbid topic arose and Griffin asked me how I wanted to die.  Odd, right?  He's 10.  I have to admit, for a moment I wondered if I crossed him somehow, so I asked, "Why? What are you planning?"  He didn't understand my question – of course he wasn't planning anything.  "Well," I said, "I guess I'd like to go peacefully in my sleep."  Taking in my response, he looked up at me and said, "Why like that?"  I looked to Olivia and asked, "What's with this kid?"  After her shoulder shrug I turned my attention back to G.  I had a follow up question of my own.  "How would you like me to go?  Car crash?  Debilitating disease? What?"  He looked mortified.  "I don't want you to go," he said, "I was just wondering how you wanted to go." Again, he's 10.  In an effort to explain the appeal of dying in one's sleep, I decided to wrap up the conversation with a quote from Woody Allen: "It's not that I'm afraid to die.  I just don't want to be there when it happens."  Ahh, the Woodman.


I think most people feel this way, which is why I don't understand the fascination with the end of the world.  Do you know that the End Times is a multi-billion dollar industry?  The mere thought of the end of our world saddens me.  My own death I'm okay with, but the destruction of the world?  I think of the simplest things – a flower blooming (usually a crocus), a little bird sitting on a tiny branch – and I just can't imagine them coming to an end.  I do not want the earth to dissolve like snow. 


What's most surprising is that although many focus on the end of the world, they don't live their lives as if time was short – and that's real, that's a fact.  Each of us has a limited time here and at some point, our time will come to an end.  We don't need Nostradamus, Harold Camping or even the Mayan calendar to tell us that. 


What would you do differently if you really knew when your time was going to be up?  And more importantly, why aren't you doing it now? 


Christmas is in just two days.  Jesus was born to be the hope of the world – remember, he doesn't even know when the end will be – and it's because of him, I feel fine! 


Merry Christmas,


~ M.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Rest Easy

Have you ever noticed how the more things change the more they stay the same?  If our recent election didn't make that glaringly apparent nothing will.  So, after all the hubbub, hoopla and ballyhoo, we're right back where we've been – a country divided.  I don't know about you, but I've succumbed to the fact that much of life is beyond my control.  And, I'm reminded of a quote I once read by Leonardo da Vinci that supports this:  "You can never have a greater or lesser dominion than that over yourself."


So what do I do with this realization?  Well, try and live my life to best of my ability – making a contribution, adding some value and enjoying the simple things.  Acclaimed apologist Ravi Zacharias once pointed out (I'm paraphrasing) that most of us are only two generations away from being irrelevant.  Think about that for a moment.  It's true.  How much do you really know about your own family's history beyond that of your grandparents?  See?  So why get worked up about things beyond our control?


There's a back-and-forth, ebb-and-flow, up-and-down swing to life that seems to explain why, as I just mentioned, as things change, they seem to stay the same.  For whatever reason, this makes me think of a park bench.  Yes, a park bench.  I can see this bench with its wooden slats supported by a concrete understructure – the slats are painted turquoise and are peeling, slightly.  It sits in an idyllic setting – it's a park bench, after all.  The strange thing about this bench is, when I picture it in my mind, I see all sorts of seasons and life stages as if fragmented by a kaleidoscope.


I picture a new mother taking a break on it, gently rocking her baby's stroller.  I can see a bunch of tweener boys hanging all over it while reliving the big game.  And I can imagine an old man sitting on it, alone with his thoughts, feeding the birds. 


The bench gets to partake in all aspects of life, but I think its favorite would be supporting two lovers who sit together so engrossed in each other that they are unaware of the world around them.  There they plan their future – the bench knows what's in store – it's seen it all.  Trees bloom overhead providing lush shade, then autumn comes along and those leaves fall, exposing the bench to the harsh, yet temporary, condition of winter until spring reignites the never-ending cycle.  The seasons of life are just like these.


It reminds me of an automobile commercial I saw recently.  I don't know what vehicle was being promoted – an SUV of some sort – but in it a young man pulls up to a cabin, jumps out and is quickly followed by his Labrador type puppy who hops out of the passenger seat.  In the next scene, he pulls up to the cabin with his girlfriend; they pop out of the front seat and man's best friend – no longer a puppy now – jumps out of the back seat.  The closing scene has them pulling up to the cabin – this time a baby is in the back seat – and the dog, mature in years, is in the rear.  With whiskers gray and moving a little more slowly, he eases out the back and lopes to the cabin with his family. 


I guess the message is that the car is reliable enough to take them through all of life's stages.  It reminds me of my bench.  The aging dog is an obvious marking of the passage of time – it goes by so fast – and his placement in the vehicle marks life stages.  It's a good visual for how although things change, they stay the same.  I guess this is because the cycles stay the same but we're a little different as we go through them.  It's over time that you begin to see the sameness of those cycles – I guess that's why (if we're lucky) we get wiser as we get older.


I think this is what the old man contemplates as he feeds the birds.  He reflects, knowing one shouldn't waste time and energy on things beyond our control, we should be grateful for all the simple things – the non-tangibles – that's what makes life rich.  We should sit back, rest easy and try to enjoy the ride.


With thanksgiving,

~ M.     


Sunday, October 28, 2012


October is my favorite month of the year.  I was born in October so it's probably not that unusual that I would prefer this month over all the others.  In many ways, it sort of parallels the great chicken-egg debate.  I believe, without a doubt, that the chicken came before the egg and, as such, I'm pretty sure I favor October simply because that's when I was born.  My birthday aside, October is still a pretty cool month. 


First off, did you ever wonder why October – which is the 10th month – starts off, by name, with a prefix meaning eight?  That little incongruity with what's expected – a slight break in the norm – is just one little thing that I like about this month.  For those now curious about this odd quirk, it has something to do with the early Roman calendar. 


As many know, much of October is astrologically Libra – another chicken-egg favorite of mine.  I'm not really into the zodiac thing (breathe, Laura, breathe), but I have to say there's no other sign I'd rather be.  Libras are known to be doers rather than thinkers – that's me; if something needs to be done, I'll get it done.  I was once described as task oriented, and I wouldn't disagree; I don't think that's a bad thing.  How many successful procrastinators do you know?  Libras are also known to exercise diplomacy, good manners and self-control; generally good-natured, we're loving and fair.  I think these are all great attributes – who wouldn't want to be a Libra?  I know what you're thinking:  I guess humble wasn't on the list. You're right, it wasn't; in fact, being a little narcissistic is apparently a flaw some Libras have.  I'm not narcissistic, but I am proud of the positive aspects of my sign. 


Getting away from the personal relate-ability of the month, some notable things that set October apart from its eleven siblings are its celebratory days.  There's Columbus Day – the national holiday that recognizes the birth of that Spanish navigator who travelled so long ago, thankfully without the aid of a GPS, to discover the New World. 


Of course, there's National Boss Day on the 16th (and John Murphy's birthday – some things you just don't forget).  Don't you wonder who came up with National Boss Day?  These superiors get our respect and subordination all year long – do they really need special greeting cards and token gifts, too?  What sycophant at Hallmark came up with this one? 


For sports enthusiasts, October is World Series month – plaaaaaay ball!  Our Canadian friends celebrate their Thanksgiving in October (it's probably too c-c-c-cold in November… brr… go C-C-Canucks!)  And, of course, Halloween caps off the month – spooky fun.


There is just something about October and the fall, in general, that I love.  The weather is a little cooler (that's a very big deal out here), the air is crisp and the sticky sweat of monsoon humidity is a thing of the past.  The fall invites a warm homey feeling (as in Norman Rockwell homey, not homeslice homey) – and it all begins in October.  Oh, and let's not forget Oktoberfests – nothing typifies fall like grown men in Lederhosen swaying to the rhythmic beat of an oom-pah accordion while holding a froth filled stein – it's wundebar!


The only drawback to October – if I had to pick one – is that it's a precursor to winter (my least favorite season).  But let's face it, if not for the chilly winter, there wouldn't be so many October babies.  According to, here are just some of the famous folks born in October:  Julie Andrews, Sting, Kate Winslet (hmm, all Brits so far – weird), Tony Shalhoub, Brett Favre and Matt Damon (Bourne on the 8th, like me), Paul Simon, Elisabeth Shue and Moore – Roger Moore.  Also Penny Marshall, Angela Landsbury (meat pies anyone?) and George "Norm" Wendt.  Holy Crap, Peter Boyle is on the list, as is John Lithgow, Carrie Fisher, Kevin Kline, Katy Perry, Helen Reddy and now for someone completely different – John Cleese.  Henry Winkler was born in October, too – Aaaaeeeyyy, that's cool! 


The above is just a partial sampling – the website list was huge.  And here's something else you may not know.  More American Presidents were born in the month of October than any other month.  This list includes John Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes, Chester Arthur (be honest, right now you're saying, "Chester Arthur?"  Okay, maybe you weren't, but fully exposing my ignorance, I was.) Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Jimmy Carter (I know, Mr. Peanut Farmer is like the one thing that's not like the others.)


And just in case you're not yet convinced that October is the best month of all, allow me to help seal the deal.  October is National Cookie Month – COOKIE month! 


When talking about October – using the immortal epithet of Teddy Roosevelt – I say Bully!


~ M.



Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Jig Is Up!

I'm no renegade – poor grammar aside – that's the truth.  I ain-no-wren-a-gae.  I'm sorry.  I saw Nell again recently and keep on doing that.  Chic-a-pie, tay-in-a-win. 


Back to me not being a renegade.  I couldn't be further from that, in fact, my life could bore a monk.  I think I've said that before… everything is beginning to sound familiar to me, but then again, why wouldn't it?  This is my life and these are my thoughts – they should be ringing a bell, right?


Okay, what are we talking about so far? Anybody? Anybody? If you're thinking renegades, monks and bell ringers, you're wrong; although, if I keep up this new habit, I'll be looking like Quasimodo in no time at all.  As the Disney version of this cathedral bell-ringer pops into my head, let me just say the parallel I'm drawing has nothing to do with his toothy grin, but everything to do with his hump.  What hump?   Let me dispense with the movie tidbits.


Back to the habit.  You know what's funny about habits?  It's that you never know when one is going to start.  You do something once and all of a sudden it's part of you. Of course drug lords understand this all too well.  That's why it's important to Just Say No.  Let me digress for a moment – I know what you're thinking.  Did you even start telling us the story yet?  Just sit tight, I'll get to it. 


When I reiterate Nancy Reagan's slogan, I don't do it as someone who lived a life that would bore a monk – that's my life now, not then – but here's my point (yes, I have one).  When someone first starts smoking, their body violently rejects the toxins; they cough, choke and gag through several cigarettes before they become accustomed to it.  Same with alcohol.  A shot of hard liquor burns the throat and takes the breath away.  Several shots – or a case of beer, whatever – can cause convulsive vomiting which is usually accompanied by pleas to the Lord and almost always followed by a headache so severe you can't lift up your own head.  Most forget their vow to never drink again as soon as they regain the ability to balance their noggin.    


Here's my point.  Yes!  I told you I have one.  People force themselves and their bodies into these bad habits.  When was the last time you saw someone go through this physical anguish for something that was actually good for them, like, say, Brussels sprouts?  It's just not done.  Maybe because Brussels sprouts lack the 'cool' factor – I don't know.  The thing is cigarettes, booze and drugs are not cool.  Young people have been duped.  Get them while they're young…  


Back to my quickly formed habit.  It all started a few short weeks ago.  My nephew was staying over and we had plans to go to a park that has Go-Karts, Mini-Golf and other fun outdoorsy type things, but a monsoon storm was predicted, so just to be prepared, I bought a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle that we could work on together in the event we got rained out.  We didn't.  Plan A went off without a hitch. 


The next morning, over coffee, I decided to separate the straight-edged pieces from the others so that when Griffin got up, he could start the puzzle.  He decided to work on some old 100-piece favorites, however, so I started the new puzzle – and my new habit, as it turned out.


One doesn't do a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle in one sitting.  What was I going to do now?  I had the perimeter done and few miscellaneous chucks.  I certainly couldn't leave everything on my kitchen island, but I didn't want my efforts to be for naught, so we went to Target and bought a little card table.  G helped me transfer the pieces of the partially complete 500-piece ice cream cone to the table and then we moved the table into my guest bedroom. 


Several puzzles later – 500, 750 and even 1,000 pieces – I feel I need to break this habit.  Don't get me wrong.  It's not hurting anybody.  It's just that the other day I was in there – the A/C blows very cold in that room – and as I was hunched over the table, scouring the pieces, I shivered then thought to myself that something over my shoulders to take away the chill would be nice.  As that thought occurred to me I sat straight up.  A shawl?  Is that what I was picturing – a shawl?  I am not 87-years old.  Enough with the puzzles, I thought; plus, I need to get my guest room back. 


Once I finish the current puzzle I'm working on, that is it – I'm quitting.  I do worry, though, isn't that what all the addicts say?  Just this last one…


~ M.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

American Idol

A-hem.  Mi-mi-mi… do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti-do… la la la… ♪


As anyone who has ever had the misfortune of standing next to me during a celebratory round of "Happy Birthday" can tell you, I can't sing.  I should be more specific.  Of course I can sing, everyone can sing – it's like Neil Diamond once said, "even frogs can sing" – I just can't carry a tune.  And unfortunately for those around me, I can't even tell when I'm out of tune.  Truth be told, in my head, it actually sounds pretty good.  But I know it's not.  I've been set straight on this more than once.


The first time this… let's call it… flaw of mine was brought to my attention I was nine years old.  To make it a little more dramatic I should say only nine.  I tried out for the 4th Grade Kids' Choir and didn't make it.  Doesn't everyone make it when you're in the single digit years?  Nope.  Okay, so I wasn't good enough for a choir.


Then, sometime in what were probably my tweener years, at church one Sunday, during worship, my mom leaned toward me and whispered, with a gentle pat on my shoulder, "Not so loud, Honey."  Whaa?  In my defense, hymns are tough, aren't they?


In my senior year of high school, I was cast in our production of The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd.  A musical.  You're probably thinking, "How can this be?  You said you can't sing."  Well, let me tell you.  Evidently, being a senior carried a little more clout than being in 4th grade.  Also, I was only in the chorus.  For the most part I kept my voice low; but, since I was a senior, I was given one line in an ensemble number that I had to belt out.  One line.  One.  How hard could it be?  After weeks of rehearsal Miss DeGeorge gave up on me and simply said, "If you can't sing well, sing loud."  Okay, I could do that.  (Side note:  I don't subscribe to this anymore.  Now I say, if you can't sing well, lip-sync.)  There were people in the back row wincing as I informed them that "Blue is the color of the sky in summertime."  Some student even took out a booster in our Senior Farewell paper just to say I, and let me quote it, "couldn't carry a tune if it was put in a bucket." Nice, huh?  Well you know what they say – truth hurts.


So here's the deal.  I don't really sing in front of other people.  I don't want to be responsible for making anyone's ears bleed.  My poor little cat Izzie, when she was alive, was always an indicator when I'd go out of key.  I'd be singing my heart out while listening to music and whenever I went off key, she'd peg her little ears back and meow.  I'd stop, of course, look at her with a raised brow and ask, "Bad?"  She wouldn't respond but I knew the answer.     


All these incidents bring to mind an audition episode of American Idol that I saw years ago.  I don't watch this show, but I was visiting my folks one night who do.  In this particular episode one contestant proudly (I dare say she was beaming – didn't seem nervous at all) sang her song.  All the while I was thinking to myself that she wasn't very good, but what do I know.  As the cameras panned over to the judges, their expressions were hard to read.  They looked… stunned, maybe.  I turned to my parents and asked, "She wasn't any good, was she?" to which they responded, "Good Lord, no, she's awful.  Simon's going to destroy this one," they added.  He didn't. 


He was slow to speak at first, his words measured as he asked her if she ever sang in front of anyone before.  When she told him that she sang in front of her family all the time, he seemed to take a beat as he grasped the weight of her response.  "Really," he said, "and what do they say about your singing?"  When she told him they say she sings great and encouraged her to audition, he simply corrected her and said – I'm paraphrasing – "You're not great.  In fact, you're terrible.  I don't know why they'd tell you to come here."  He was not malicious.  He seemed genuinely addled. 


This girl ran out of the room crying – no, wait, sobbing.  Her mother, wiping away her tears, said Simon didn't know what he was talking about, she was a wonderful singer.  I looked to my mother (the non-sugar-coating variety) and asked, "Why would that woman do that?"  The girl clearly could not sing – even tone-deaf me realized that.  I think it's just another example of the participation-trophy, fragile-esteem-boosting philosophy that is ruining our children.


So what's all this leading to?  Well, I've been confronted recently by a similar version of this American Idol wannabe.  This version obviously hasn't ever come across a strict choir leader, or a matter-of-fact candid mother or even a hurtful anonymous booster writer to alert her to her lack of ability.  No, this one is pretty much just like the auditioning chanteuse who's lied to by her family.  There is a young girl who sits behind me in church who is so off key that I can actually hear how bad it is – it's like a pinprick to the ears.  I feel like Izzie as this girl screeches out the lyrics.  She sings (using the word loosely) above the whole congregation, her voice scratchy and cracking as she yells out the words.  I'm not kidding.  There are times when she is literally yelling. 


Our worship team plays contemporary Christian songs – these aren't traditional organ-accompanied hymns.  The music is modern and fairly loud which, of course, I like.  I sit in the front row and can sing moderately without anyone hearing me (read: without offending anyone).  This child has made me, decades later, finally appreciate my mother's words of counsel (Not so loud, Honey). I wish her mother would say something. This one even sings along when someone in the worship team is singing a solo – a solo!  By definition, there should be just one.  I don't know why her parents don't intervene or enroll her in voice lessons – something.  And I don't mean to judge – we're kindred spirits in a sense – but it's very distracting.


Modern day, over-the-top, sensitive esteem issues aside, someone could explain to this girl that even the angels in heaven sing together, as one – they do not yell, they blend.  I'm sure some aren't even singing, I mean, some should be playing harps, right?


~ M.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Scottsdale Summertime Sizzle

All over the country
The summer’s long since begun
Everybody’s engaged
Having fun in the sun

But it’s different for us
Our summer’s extreme
We hide from the rays
Of the sun’s scorching beam

The snowbirds can’t take it
They leave during May
As the mercury rises
The heat sends them away

The sun rises early
Triple digits – the norm
Out in the desert
It’s exceptionally warm

“But it’s a dry heat,” you’ll hear
Don’t believe that big lie
During monsoon
Our humidity’s high

I’ve often wondered
With our intense heat
If we actually could
Fry an egg on the street

It wouldn’t surprise me
Things here get quite hot
Like the inside of your car
When parked out in a lot

Metal will burn you
Watch that seatbelt
If you leave something inside
It will definitely melt

Do not clasp the wheel
Or your skin you will sear
Guide with your pinkies
That’s how we steer

And when watering plants
Everyone knows
The water is hot
When it comes from the hose

Speaking of water
Go nowhere without it
Or risk dehydration
There’s no doubt about it

The desert is rugged
A brutal place to be
If not for the comfort
Of good ol’ A/C

All around town
Thermostats are set low
So you must bring a sweater
Wherever you go

This is no joke
I’m certainly not teasing
I tell you the truth
Places are freezing

To combat the heat
It’s what we must do
Until fall comes our way
And summer is through

When the rest of the country
Heads back inside
We’ll pay no attention
We’re staying outside

Most of the year
Our weather’s quite lovely
And really there’s no place
That I’d rather be

Sweatin’ it out – for now,
 ~ M.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Wait! I might need that.

What is it about human nature that makes us want what we can't have?  You know what I'm talking about – we all go through it. 

It sometimes starts as early as grade school – that's when I first noticed it – but when I really think about it, it probably starts even earlier than that.  Have you ever seen a few toddlers playing together?  They're not really playing together; they're basically playing by themselves in the company of others.  One may be enthralled with his own toes while one shakes a small stuffed animal and another simply gnaws on a Lincoln Log.  Here's where the trouble comes in.  One of them notices a blanket or a squishy ball nearby, whatever it is, that's been sitting there unused and as soon as one of them goes for that object, the others immediately want it.  Why is that?  Well, the answer is simple.  They think they're missing out on something.  The toes – all ten of them mind you, the lambie and the slimy wooden dowel no longer hold any appeal, whatever that other kid has holds all the interest.  Some people never outgrow this.  It's called Keeping up with the Joneses, but that's a little different from what I'm actually getting at here.

I noticed this trait in myself in 7th Grade.  There was a boy who was, well… let's just say he wasn't really in the cool crowd.  He was really in a click of his own – alone in the click of his own – he's probably a millionaire today, but this is a story about when he was 12.  He spent a lot of time with me, as I did him.  He was funny.  It wasn't until my friends started to tease me about it that it became a problem:  so-and-so likes you… he's weird… why does he hold your feet?  (Yes, he did.  I don't know why.  He'd grab them from the seat behind me.  As I think back on it now, the question I have is not why did he do it, but how did he do it?  How long were that kid's arms?)  Anyway, all the teasing was too much for me.  I was embarrassed.  So, I made it clear that although I liked him, I didn't like him like that and I wanted him to leave me alone.  This could be where I made my mistake in life.  He took it like a man and stopped showering me with attention. 

Now here's the thing.  Even though he stopped – which is what I wanted – once he did, I missed it.  Not only did I miss it, I actually wondered why he didn't like me anymore.  So I got what I wanted, but once I did, I missed what I gave up. 

Well, I'm not 12 anymore but I do still carry a sense of, 'wait, I might want that,' and it dawns on me now that, possibly, it could be traced back to this very episode.  Could be, but probably not, right?  It's like I said earlier, this is inherent in human nature.

I think it's this trait – I may want this in the future – that plagues hoarders.  I could be wrong (I am so often).  Hoarding probably has deeper psychological roots than this.  I've mentioned before that I'm too neat and tidy to be a hoarder, but I do have more than a few things in my home that I know I will never use but will not discard – heck, I still have one unpacked box in my garage and I moved almost a decade ago. 

I have a rack to place inside my dryer for when I'm drying sneakers.  Never used it. 

I've kept the washing machine tub stabilizers since the day my washer was delivered.  The stabilizers are used when moving the unit.  I don't plan on moving any time soon and if I did, I likely wouldn't take the washer with me – and let's say, for sake of argument, I did take it, I'm sure I wouldn't figure out how to secure the concrete encased tub (front loader) with these stabilizers anyway, so why do I keep them?  Well, I might need them someday.

I have casters for my patio grill – which is hard-wired into a natural gas line.  This thing can never be on wheels and yet…

My living room ceiling fans work by wall switches and/or remote control.  Even though I use the wall switches, in my garage sits a box that contains all the accessories to convert the fans to be operable with pull chains.  Pull chains.  These things are mounted on 12' ceilings.  No one is ever going to pull anything – they're out of reach; but you never know, so.  The remotes, by the way, sit unused in a drawer.  Did I mention I use the wall switches? 

Also in the garage is a rear compartment security screen for my Santa Fe.  I took this out about 5 years ago to make room for something and there it sits.  It was unused while it was in the vehicle and certainly remains unused as it sits idly up against a wall.  

So what's the deal?  Why keep these things?  It's not like saving miscellaneous hardware (I have a cabinet in the laundry room filled with fasteners, cables, clamps, wires, items of all variety that I may actually use someday for a home repair or quick fix – at least that's what I tell myself.), or books (which I have begun to pass on) or even buttons (most new clothing comes with an extra button and not only do I save those, I've actually used them).  So why don't I get up right now and grab the dryer rack, tub stabilizers, grill casters, ceiling fan accessories and the Hyundai screen and chuck them all?  I don't know.  I just can't seem to do it – you know, I may need them someday. 

~ M.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


Years ago I completed a seminar series.  Although there were a lot of different takes on what the series was actually about or designed to do, I clearly saw its focus being on communication; and in order to be a more effective communicator, you'd need to understand how it is that you communicate.  Are you yawning already?  I know… seminars are like that.


Anyway, one of the exercises we did to help identify how we operate within our community was a drawing.  Not a Rembrandt drawing or even a Picasso – no, these were more like Pictionary sketches.  Many drew ponds, some drew the ocean.  In these pictures, the world the communicator lived in was the body of water and they, along with everyone they interacted with, were fish.  There were work fish, friend fish, fish from religious institutions, some school fish (no pun), kid fish, sports fish, family fish – you get it, right?  They were all represented by fish swimming in the same water.  In a similar vein, there was one in which the 'world' was a marina and all the people boats.  I also remember a galaxy (obviously drawn by a broad thinker) where all the people were stars.


I drew an artist's palette.  My palette held lots of colorful paint blobs.  Like the fish, I had blue friends, green work associates, purple church folk, yellow family members and so on.  Here's what I found interesting.  I didn't include myself on the palette.  There wasn't a red paint blob for me – there wasn't any paint blob for me.  I was the paint brush beside the palette.  I found this fascinating because this is exactly how I tend to operate in life.  Dab a little here, dab a little there, then sit off to the side – by myself.


I spend a lot of time alone – now more than ever.  I go hiking alone (although I interact with all the regulars I see up there), I work alone (however I'm on the phone quite a bit interacting with my customers) and I live alone (but I interact heavily with my surrounding family.  Side note:  Often when leaving my brother's house, as I announce my departure he counters with, "Alright, you stayed your hour.")  The simple fact is this, I am not uncomfortable by myself – and that's what was so psychologically revealing about my drawing.  I do realize that this sets me apart from many.


Another thing they shared with us was a story (I think this is actually a book) about 'the dash.'  I've written about this before, but simply put, the dash represents our entire lives.  If you look at a headstone you'll see the name of the deceased along with two dates: born this day – died this day.  Whoever that person was, whatever they did and whatever impact their life had on this world, it's all right there in that tiny dash.


I think the real beauty in life – although this can be bittersweet – is that we don't really know the full impact of our dashes.  I think of my paintbrush – the tip of which that has touched so many lives.  And I think of Roy Lichtenstein, too.  For those not familiar with this artist, some of his works were giant graphic novel type frames, painted pixel by pixel, where if you're right up against it, all you'd see are circles and dots, but step back a few feet, and then you see the actual picture – and no longer see the dots.  I think this is what it's like for life's big picture.


It's like Clarence (Oddbody, AS2) told George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life, "Each man's life touches so many other lives."  And this is the bittersweet part.  We just don't know what mark we're leaving on others, but I know this much, it should be positive. 


So, what kind of dots are you making?  What do your brushstrokes say about you? 


~ M.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Mercy Pledge

♪ When the Left loves Obama

Can't keep their minds on nothin' else

He'd change our world

Turn it upside down


He is bad, they can't see it

He can do no wrong

Turn his back on our allies

And put them down


The Left loves Obama

Spendin' our very last dime

Debt in the trillions, we don't need

Givin' up all our freedom

We'll be out in the rain

In his mind that's the way it ought to be


When the Left loves Obama

Deep down in their souls

They know he'll bring such misery

He plays them for fools

They'll be the last to know

Lovin' eyes can't ever see ♪


The following poem is more like a plea for mercy…


Who is this guy

With the radical friends?

His policies may be

A means to our end


The economy's dreadful

And that is a fact

Just like his Affordable

Healthcare Act


We need someone who'll govern

And put the country first

If we don't make a change now

We're in for the worst


Energy costs skyrocket

And 'necessarily' soar

Gas prices like Europe

Is what we're headed for


Shutting down coal plants

And restrictions on drilling

Push his agenda

Which I'm sure he finds thrilling


He's paving the way

For green technology

Promoting solar and wind power

And pond scum algae


Billions of dollars

Have been funneled this way

Companies go bankrupt

And he has nothing to say


Our economy's anemic

There hasn't been a recovery

With ATMs and kiosks

How could there be?


Plus what he inherited

From Bush 43…

Is the blame game getting old –

Or is it just me?


Unemployment is high

Our debt soars through the roof

It's time for a change

Do we need any more proof?


This man talks

From both sides of his mouth

Reading from Teleprompters

As our country goes south


His apology tour

Was an abomination


Is the world's greatest nation


The apologies which are necessary

And quite overdue

Are the ones, Sir, which should be

Directly from you


You've insulted the Israelis

And sent Churchill home in a crate

Then condescendingly told others

"They punch above their weight."


You're disingenuous Mr. President

The hot-mike gaffes prove it

And what is it, exactly,

"To Vladimir, I transmit."?


And what's with the urging

To tone down the rhetoric?

The huge double standard

Is making me sick


The Left can say anything

It seems that's your position

But the Right must be silenced

Kill opposition


Answering to no one

He sits at the top

But if you ask me

This guy's a flop


The class warfare game

Fills folks with hate

We'd better wake up

Before it's too late


Are we better off now

Than four years ago?

If one's to be honest

The answer is NO.


With the road that we're on

I don't know how we'll survive

There'll be no turning back

We must elect 45


Into politics

I don't like to delve

But I say, "ABO

In 2012"


Just a concerned citizen from one of our 50 (not 57) states –

~ M.


Sunday, March 25, 2012

This is Madness

I'm sure you're familiar with the term kindred spirits.  It's often used to describe like-minded people who come in contact with one another.  Likewise, I'm sure you're familiar with the term mind reader, as well.  So, here's my question.  If someone is stating my thoughts on a topic, are they reading my mind or are they just a kindred spirit – one who has had such a similar experience as mine so that it appears as though they are reading my mind?  And what if the person stating those thoughts did so in a magazine article that I would read well after it was initially written?  In that instance, I don't see how 'mind reader' could really apply.  But how can it be that another person would know so well such personal thoughts?  Wasn't I the only one who felt this way?  As is so often the answer to that question, guess not.


Under the "Life Lessons" section of Real Simple's March issue, author Elizabeth Berg wrote a piece titled "Beautiful, in Every Single Way."  Remember that Real Simple is written for women.  Dealing with body parts that bedevil us, she wrote specifically about her long time insecurity regarding her 'problem area.'  I'm sure as you read that you immediately thought of your problem area, that's what I did.  The thing is her area and my area, well... it's the same area – the belly, or as she called it, the pooch.  UGH!  


Pooch?  When not speaking of puppy dogs, is this even really a word? Pooch?  I don't know, it sounds a little too marsupial for me.  Sac?  No, that's not right.  Disgusting wad of fat?  More to the point, but I guess we'll stick with pooch. 


So, it doesn't take a genius to read between these lines.  I have a personal pooch problem.  (gotta love alliteration).  I was so moved by her article – see, misery really does love company – and how I related to what she wrote, I felt compelled to share my own thoughts on the fatty roll that's plagued me for years.    


Ms. Berg wrote that when she notices a woman with a similar figure, she imagines mentally high-fiving her.  I can affirm the sense of kinship, although I never felt like hand slapping a fellow afflicted.  My mental response has always been an image of a tender empathetic hug.  Either way, we both understand what life is like for women with this unfortunate body type. 


Her belly history began around 8 years old.  I was about 10.  I was swimming with a friend who suggested I may want to wear a one-piece swim suit.  Huh?  As my friend gestured to her flat stomach, I looked at mine – it jiggled over the top of my bikini bottoms.  It was the first time I even noticed my belly.  It was the last time I wore a two-piece.  Ten is too young an age to be introduced to the term adipose tissue (my mom was a nurse).  In many ways that was the end of my innocence.


As I matured, my legs grew more than my body.  At 5'-7", my inseam is nearly 3 feet.  Although people always say, "Oh, what nice long legs you have," what they don't realize is that being short-waisted makes the belly problem that much worse.  In fact, it's probably the main reason for the belly problem in the first place.  But a little height, long legs and thin arms do help to mask the bane of my existence.


In the article, the author wrote of an intimate bath she had taken with a boyfriend while in her 20s.  The parallels were unbelievable.  When I was in my 20s, I had an experience similar to her bathtub episode.  After a romantic interlude, as I laid in the arms of the love of my life (or so I thought), while he gently caressed my arm, he said, "You know, if it wasn't for your belly, you'd have a perfect body."  He wasn't being malicious, just matter-of-fact.  Can you imagine?  I think I responded meekly with, "Oh, um, thanks… I guess."


Originally from the East coast, I've lived in Scottsdale, AZ for 8 years now.  I don't even notice it anymore, but when I first moved here, it seemed as if there was a physical correction center on every street corner – you know, plastic surgery facilities, medi-spas and cosmetic dentistry, you name it, it's here. If one is plagued by physical imperfection or a… deformity, this is the place to be if you want to get it taken care of.  The interesting thing is that the inundation of "we can fix you" places had just the opposite effect for me.  I was appalled at the barrage of messages (primarily geared toward women, I'm sure) saying that we weren't good enough.  That's madness.  We're fine.  We're all just fine.


Until this article, I sort of lost touch with all my belly-induced self-loathing.  It was almost bizarre reading her words.  How could this be?  How could this woman know my feelings and experiences, especially about something so personal?  Amazing.  Or is it?  Maybe we're not so different after all.  I don't think it matters if we're talking about arms, thighs, butts or bellies.  We all have something that bothers us.  But it's never really about what's on the outside, is it?  Elizabeth learned that by things she saw with a friend of hers and her mom.  She loves them for who they are – their issues have no impact on how she feels about them – and it's that realization that brought her to terms with her own issue. I get that.


I'm 47 now and, boy, my little 10-year-old self had no idea what was in store.  Hair grays, skin gets loose and triceps flap – and it's no big deal, not really.  I can't say that I'm happy about it, but it is okay because, after all, we're all just fine.


From the sisterhood,


~ M.