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Archive for September, 2008

“Things will be fine.  The sun will come out tomorrow.  Expect the best.  Be of good cheer.  It’s always darkest before the dawn.  Don’t invite trouble.  Everything will turn out okay.”  Add in a few thousand more “upbeat” cliches, and you’ll have my new mantra.

In previous posts, I’ve talked about a new neighbor moving in, and it has finally happened.  Now, in my own defense, I want you to understand that I know I’ve been spoiled.  For the past three years I’ve had single women living on both sides of me who were quiet, considerate great neighbors.  So, I’ve been lulled into believing that it would always be thus.  One of the things I’ve loved about living here is the quiet.

First reports were that the new person was a divorced woman with one little girl.  “Okay,” I thought, “two people living in that house – no biggie.”  Well, it appears I was wrong.  From what I can tell, she has not one, not two, not three, but four children, some teenagers.  O-kay.  So now I know that there will be a lot of people living over there, coming and going.  I’ll just have to adjust to a little more noise.  But then, as I was sitting reading my paper this morning, I saw two of the girls walking by the driveway holding on to…(please don’t let it be a leash!!!) a leash.  I immediately sent up a prayer, “At least let it be a tiny foo-foo dog!”  Then I got a glimpse of this gigantic black hound.  O-kay.  I’ve always had a fear of big dogs ever since I was almost devoured by one as a child, but, okay.  I said my mantra and continued to read my paper.  I was fine until the howling started out on their balcony, making the hairs stand up on my arms.  To be fair, it stopped quickly, and has only happened about once an hour since.

Now I’m NOT anti-kids or anti-dogs in general.  I’ve known some perfectly nice dogs and I was once a kid myself.  But at the last place I lived, the whole neighborhood was terrorized and annoyed by a house full of vandalizing kids who had dogs that barked all night long.  So, emotionally, I’m coming from a bad place. But this could be a totally different situation.  So, why am I feeling such forboding, anxiety?  I know it’s irrational but it’s like I already feel as if I’m outnumbered.  I’m just a woman living alone, wanting to be a good neighbor and be respected in return.  I don’t want to feel this way. I want to get rid of this dread.  But, what can I do? Wait!  I know…

“Things will be fine.  The sun will come out tomorrow.  Expect the best.  Be of good cheer.  It’s always darkest before the dawn.  Don’t invite trouble.  Everything will turn out okay.”

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Silly is Good

I was thinking today how much I miss the silliness I used to enjoy with certain people who are no longer in my life.  It’s not that I don’t still do silly things.  It’s just that being around someone who is as silly as I am simply magnifies the silliness and makes it even more fun.  For example, I remember one such goofy time when this person and I literally dodged buffalo in the Black Hills of South Dakota because we thought it would be fun to bring back buffalo “patties” as souvenirs for our friends.  Here we were in a state park around these huge creatures who were eyeballing us suspiciously, and we were vying to see who could find the best, most attractive dried buffalo poop!  It was one of those times when we just egged each other on.  And every once in awhile one of us would pick up one which turned out to be…ahem, not so dry. Ah, good times!  Good times.

What brought this all back is that I read about this group called “Improv Everywhere” that stages big scenes in public places.  It has caught on and now they occur all over the world.  In the following video, a big group of people head to Home Depot and spend five minutes walking in slow motion, five shopping regularly, and then freeze for five minutes.  What’s fun is to watch the reactions of the employees and other shoppers.

Here’s another one where they found a bunch of twins and had them dress alike and sit across from each other on the New York subway.  The idea was to mirror each others’ actions.  It’s hilarious to watch how the other people in the subway car gradually start to notice and do double-takes.

What I find so amazing is that groups of total strangers come together to participate just for the sheer fun of it! The world certainly needs more fun…especially now.  I know I do.

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A case of the “sads”…

I didn’t write anything yesterday because I was busy trying to outrun a big case of the “sads.”  The best way to describe this condition is to picture me as a tiny stick figure walking down a lonely road.  Above and slightly behind me is a huge, dark, furious-looking storm cloud and it’s moving in on me fast.  If I falter or slow down the slightest bit, a coldness begins to enshroud me and my mood starts to plummet.  Occasionally, when I become too tired to run, the sads close in and all the stresses, disappointments and annoyances I’ve been trying not to think about, hit me hard, and I tend to withdraw.

Now I know some people cling to their grievances, going over and over them, as if they were the prayer beads of their existence.  That’s not me.  For the most part, I try to be a positive, “up” person, counting my blessings instead.  But, I have learned over time that there are all sorts of contributing factors that bring the sads on.  Some are in my control, but many aren’t.  For example, the new neighbor (who hasn’t yet moved in,) is having all sorts of work done on the house every day.  I’ve been trying to ignore the thumps and bumps and constant hammering.  But this week, there were two days when men were over there installing tile.  They didn’t begin until about 4:00 p.m.  They set up their tile saw on her front porch and sawed and sawed and sawed way into the night. It so happens they were almost right under my open bedroom window.  Now I don’t know if you’ve ever heard a tile saw, but the sound is like a banshee being tortured by a mad dentist!  Needless to say, those were two nights in a row that I didn’t get my quota of sleep. When I’m tired, I’m vulnerable.  When I’m vulnerable, the sads pounce…

There are a million other little things all ganging up on me right now and experience has taught me that the best I can do is to simply ride it out. And, ride it out I will.

By the way, this condition is not to be confused with what my friend, Dean used to call “the mean reds.”  The mean reds are much more proactive.  The mean reds are when so many things are getting on your nerves, that you have an overwhelming urge to just go kick the poop out of somebody.  I think I’d like that ever so much better! I don’t have those today, but…the new neighbor is moving in Saturday, so time will tell.

What do you do when the “sads” are closing in on you?

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My Imaginary Neighbors

I’ve talked here about the neighbor who’s going to move into Iris’ house next door and am aware that most of my misgivings are based on heresay and a few observations.  And it hasn’t escaped me that most of my feelings have been of a negative slant.

What I haven’t mentioned is that the townhouse on the other side of her has also been sold.  And I know nothing about the new owners.  So, in the spirit of assuming a more positive attitude, I’ve compiled a list of people I would find more than acceptable as new neighbors:

1) Sawyer from “Lost” – I admit this one’s a totally gratuitous choice.  You see, in my neighborhood, men who look like him are scarce on the ground, if not totally non-existent.  Just to have a neighbor with that body, those sexy eyes, that sly easy smile…well, I’ll just call this one a “neighborhood beautification” choice.

2) Jerry Seinfeld – Since Iris left, I have no neighbor to gossip with or to make me laugh.  Jerry would fill the bill in both cases.

3) Any of the “This Old House” guys – Imagine having a neighbor who can build or fix anything !  I can see it now, me baking cookies while he hangs the dreaded drapery hardware for me.  Very good choice.

And, finally, my favorite pick –

4) Judge Judy – I absolutely love this woman!  Her attitude, values and outlook are so in synch with mine that I’ve no doubt we’d become bosom buds in no time!  And, if that other new neighbor gives us any trouble, Judge Judy will kick her butt from now to tomorrow!  And, once she’s settled, I’ll start my campaign to get her to run for President.  This would be a really good thing.

Okay, so these are some optimistic, positive possibilities I’m unleasing to the cosmos.  I certainly hope the cosmos is listening…

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When I was small, I believed that all my dolls had human feelings, but now I know that really only a couple of them did.  I thought of the dentist’s drill as an evil monster, and that my grandma’s gigantic old-time vacuum cleaner was totally capable of turning itself on and coming after me with the intent of sucking me up into that creepy bag.  But, as time went by, I outgrew most of these silly beliefs…most, but not all.

I think that we must consider the possibility that now and then, a machine will slip by quality control with a little more than just nuts and bolts.  I have two such machines living in my household.

The first example is my microwave.  Now when I moved into my home, there was a built-in microwave that was old, but dependable.  I thought of him like a treasured family retainer who would most likely be named  Jeeves.  Jeeves would do any job I required, and when he was finished, he’d ding his little chime four times to alert me, and then would quietly retreat into his proverbial “servants quarters,” so to speak.  He was perfect in my eyes. Unfortunately, several months ago Jeeves passed on to Appliance Heaven.  Since I am a heavy microwave user, this called for a trip to buy a replacement, as soon as possible.  The new microwave is sleek and much more modern, more like a perky little French maid, and thus became Mimi.  Now, all would be well except for the fact that Mimi has turned out to be a little more demanding than I’d like.  She, too, does the job efficiently and she, too, chimes four times when the food or drink is ready.  But, she doesn’t stop there. If I don’t drop everything at her first summons, she emits a rather loud, “MEEP!” Not being one to be pushed around by a microwave, I, at first, ignored her and finished what I was doing at the time.  But damned Mimi just becomes more and more impatient and “meeps” once every minute for like…FOREVER! Now most of the time I can deal with it.  But, if I’m up to my elbows in flour, cutting out sugar cookies, or up on a ladder changing a light bulb, the “meeping” becomes so annoying that I must confess that I’ve been known to yell, “SHUT THE HELL UP!” I did remember that I once had a microwave on which you could set the sound to “mute,” so I pulled out Mimi’s instruction book – but no such luck.  So, alas, I am doomed to share my life with this bossy little French maid of a microwave who expects me to jump whenever she beckons, like it or not. And I don’t, let me tell you!

The other example is not so serious, but it does point out how another of my machines is suffering from “only child” syndrome.  The computer I use in my home office is a 17″ Mac Powerbook and is a joy to use.  He’s faithful, efficient and manages to stay healthy.  I call him Miles.  He’s a great machine except for one little thing – he thinks of himself as my most important machine and therefore must be the last machine I touch before leaving the room. Let me explain.  If I don’t have the printer on, I can use Miles and when I’m done, put him to sleep (literally speaking) and all is well.  But, if the printer is on, I must turn it off before I turn off Miles. If I forget and put him to sleep first and then turn off the printer, he’ll wait until I’ve gathered my papers and my tea and am halfway down the hall and then he turns himself back on! Strange, I know, but true.  It happens every time.  In my mind, Miles feels he must be the star of the office and won’t take a backseat to the Epson or Canon, which are mere printers.  Consequently, I’m stuck with a computer with an ego problem.

So, I leave it to you.  Just my imagination?  I don’t think so.  Oh, I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking that I should just take charge and not let mere machines bully me   And you’re right, I should, except…well…you see…I really can’t afford to make either one mad.

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Hanging in…

When your whole world
gets turned upside down,
it’s easy to become bitter…
But, giving into bitterness
is like wandering down a blind alley –
you’ll expend a lot of energy,
but you’ll never get anywhere.
The bad times are the times
that will reveal
what you’re really made of.
You can rise to the occasion
and come out like a fighter,
or you can cower in a corner,
immobilized by helplessness.
It’s a choice.  Your choice.
It’s not easy to pick yourself up
and keep going,
when it seems all the world is against you.
But then again,
that corner is an awfully lonely place
to spend the rest of your life.

Star

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A Matter of Faith

Sometimes the world weighs so heavily on me.  From the moment I wake up, the local news assaults me with drive-by shootings, car jackings, kidnappings, robberies and homicides – a horrendous array of man’s inhumanity to man, day after day, month after month, year after year.  Then comes the national news.  Violence is up.  The market is down.  Grocery prices are rising and home values are falling.  Wars are escalating and jobs are diminishing.  The talking heads barely ever mention acts of kindness, everyday miracles or reasons for hope.  Maybe the media feels that good news doesn’t make for good newscasts.

Anyway, several mornings ago, I stepped out on my balcony while the stars were still in the sky, feeling pretty down and out, even though the day had just begun.  It was as if fear, sadness and uncertainty were moving in fast from all directions, threatening to smother my spirit.  So I did the only thing I could do.  I lifted my eyes to the sky…and I prayed.  Now you’ve got to understand that I’ve never been the kind of Christian who requires an audience.  I saw plenty of those in church as I was growing up.  I’m not going to beat people over the head or try to twist their arms to force my beliefs on them.  Mine is a quiet kind of faith, but no less powerful for that.  So, with eyes fixed on one particular star, I spoke to God of my fears and concerns and worries and asked for His protection and guidance.  Then I placed myself in His hands and said, “Amen.”  And, much to my awe and amazement, at that very moment, that same star shot across the sky, leaving a twinkling tail in its wake!  And all I could do was stand there dumbly and smile, there in that silky silence,  feeling particularly blessed by this heavenly response. And it was a response.  I knew then, deep in my heart, that as troubling as the world today appears, it will never be a match for the infinite miracles God has up His sleeve.

You can believe it or not, but this is a true story.

I believe.

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