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Archive for October, 2008

I already know that by writing this post, I’m going to come off as a Neanderthal in the field of modern communications, but there’s something I have to get off my chest.  Namely, why has everyone adopted the cell phone as a necessary requirement of their daily existence?  Everywhere I go, and I mean everywhere, the majority of people I see have a cell phone glued to their ear.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I can see instances where a cell phone can be a convenience, for example, if you’re lost and need directions.  I can even see where it could be a life-saver in instances where one needs to call 911 in an emergency.  And that’s why I have one – for emergencies.  No, what I’m talking about is the fact that no one seems to be able to “be alone” anymore.  So many times I’ve been in a store next to someone who is talking into their cell phone in a perfectly loud voice, as if there were no other people around them.  Are they calling for help?  No.  Are they asking for directions or something they may have left off their shopping list?  No.  Generally, their one-sided conversation sounds something like this:

“Oh yeah.  I’m at Target.  Oh really?  Did Timmy ever go potty by himself?  Oh, that little booger!  I really thought I was going to die last night when Maria said what she said around Roy!  For sure!  Oh, I don’t know, maybe watch a DVD.  Yeah, I’m going to make pork chops for dinner…”  You get the idea.  Since when did a conversation like that become so important that you couldn’t wait until you were in the privacy of your own home?  Must you impose it on all of the people waiting in line with you?  I mean, really!

Have people already forgotten there was a time when, when you were driving, all you did was drive?  You know, so you could concentrate and not kill somebody by being distracted? I can’t tell you the times someone in front of me on a cell phone sits through an entire green light, then zooms through the yellow, leaving me to wait through yet another red!  And is the idea of shopping all by yourself so intimidating or boring that you must be talking to someone while you do so?

And don’t get me started on this new deal “Twitter,” where you must drop a line or two to everyone you know every hour of the day to share a thought or keep them informed of what you’re doing!  I’ve seen some of these messages and I just don’t get it!   I’ve seen Twitters ranging from “Wow, I’m in the middle of a GREAT cheeseburger!” to “Just passed wind in the elevator!  Tee-hee!”  Do these people really think these things are worth bothering their friends with?  What are you?  A rock star whose life needs to be documented every single moment?  I find it completely weird.

And a lot of the same stuff could be said for constant text-messaging.  But, my point here is that we seem to live in a world where people need to be in contact with someone at all times.  And that makes me wonder why they’re afraid to “just be” with themselves.  Do they ever make time for self-reflection?  (Without having to Twitter about it?)  What ever happened to rejoicing in solitude?  Enjoying time for yourself?  Taking time to simply THINK?

No, I’m not Scrooge.  I, too, like to talk to my friends – in person or on the phone in the privacy of my own home.  But I don’t need to talk to them every minute of every day.  For me, it’s quality, not quantity that counts. And, as insane as it will probably sound, I need some time every day when NO ONE can contact me…because I’m busy…thinking, imagining, reflecting.  Yeah, I know I’m probably alone on this one, but that’s okay.

I guess I’m just crazy like that.

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I’ve never been what you could call an “animal ” person.  It’s more from lack of experience than dislike. When I was a little girl, I briefly had a cat named Tuffy.  One day when I came home from school, the cat couldn’t be found.  When I asked my dad about it, he explained that Tuffy had been drafted by the Navy to be a ship’s cat, and would return when his hitch was up.  He made it sound so reasonable that I bought his explanation hook, line and sinker.  After that, I didn’t have any other pets. I figured they’d just be lured away by recruiters.   After my mother died and my dad remarried, his new wife had a dog, but it was never my dog, so I remained pretty petless my whole life.

But I’ve always been fascinated by the animal mind.  This year I watched a new show called “America’s Greatest Dog” where dogs and their owners shared a house and participated in challenges to win the title.  The more I watched, the more I became convinced that these dogs really understood their masters and would do anything to please them.  It could just be that I attribute human qualities to animals and, in reality, they’re not as savvy as I think.  But it did make me wonder how much animals think.  Can they plan?  Can they scheme?

Anyway, what brought this to mind was the new family that just moved in next door to me.  They a have a big black dog who seems to be confined to the house except when taken outdoors to the woods in the back and ordered to “Poop!”  In those brief moments of freedom, I see him jumping around, looking up at his master or mistress with this goofy look on his face.  And I imagine him saying, “Come on!  Let’s play!  Let’s go into these woods and smell things! Come on, it will be fun! ”  Unfortunately his owners aren’t interested in anything but him doing his business so they can go back inside.

One day he was out on their balcony, which is on the second floor and it was the first time I had ever heard him barking constantly.  I walked out on my balcony to see what was going on.  And there, lying down on the driveway, directly in the dog’s field of vision, was a wild black cat that lives in the woods.  She was sprawled out on the concrete, looking straight up at him barking his guts out and, or so I imagined… smiling!  The more he’d bark, the more she was seemingly enjoying it. As a matter of fact, at one point, she had the audacity to yawn hugely, then fixed her eyes back on him. All this time the dog was getting more and more frantic. Finally his owners brought him inside. This has happened a couple of other times, always with the cat centering herself down on the driveway, gazing straight up at the dog.   However, lately things have been more or less quiet.

Then, just a few minutes ago, I was trying to read, and I heard him again.  This time his barking was reaching a fever pitch and it looked like he wanted to throw himself over the balcony.  I looked down, but saw nothing.  He kept barking.  Then, as I scanned the scene, there, in a neighbor’s back yard, sitting serenely and gazing straight at the dog with gold slits for eyes…was the black cat! It reminded me of one of those horror movies where the police keep finding mutilated, bloody bodies, and somewhere in the crowd you keep seeing this same guy,who looks like a zombie, standing there all innocent with a little smile on his face.

So, is it all just coincidence?  Can a cat really deliberately torment a dog?  Is the cat truly getting off on this, or is it just my imagination?  Does the cat sense those rare times when the dog will be trapped there up on the balcony, and then slowly saunter over just to taunt him?  Is the cat EVIL?  Is the cat even a real cat, or the ghost of a long-dead devil cat, and the reason the dog goes crazy is that he can sense it’s from the spirit world?  Will one day the cat show up right there on the balcony and eat the dog’s brains?  And then, will it will do a crazy feline victory dance and move on to the next dog?

Or have I just been reading too many Stephen King novels?

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The Pixies Know…

The pixies who live in the tiny houses beneath my shrubbery have been reporting the appearance of giant leaves which are starting to litter their “grounds.”

One day, everything was bright and sunny, then today, the wind is blowing ferociously and they’re faced with this. It wouldn’t take many leaves this size to cover their entire village!

Of course, they’re not professional weather forecasters, but word is they’re stocking up on provisions and collecting twigs for firewood.  They seem to think that we’re in for a long cold winter and I think…the pixies are on to something!

Just saying…

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Today when I sat down to read the morning paper, I made a conscious decision to NOT read any articles concerning the Presidential campaign, the markets, the economy and the overnight homicides in my city.  Just yesterday it seemed that the TV and radio were just bombarding me with bad news every five minutes, with the result that my anxiety level was rising almost hourly.

The first thing I learned was that when you eliminate all the above, it takes far less time to read the paper!  The second thing I learned was that there is some weird stuff going on all around the world!

Under the heading “sad, but true,” I discovered that fifty-two cows were killed by a single lightning bolt while they were pressed against a wire fence on a ranch in Montevideo, Uruguay on Wednesday. Apparently, it is normal for cows to huddle next to fences for protection during a storm.  Can you imagine what that rancher must have felt when he made this discovery?  I mean, one or two cows is understandable, but fifty-two!  How sad is that?  And, what to you do with them?  Do you have to get some kind of crane to load them onto a truck or what?  I mean, think about it. Fifty-two cows aren’t going to be picked up by UPS! And it’s sad for the poor cows, too.  I mean, one minute they’re thinking, “Gotta get to the fence!  Gotta get to the fence!” and then the next, they wake up in that big Dairy in the Sky.  Rest in peace, cows.

And then I came upon the story of 46 year old Asha Mandela in Miami who started growing her hair out twenty years ago.  It is now 8 feet, 9 inches long, and she’s trying get in the Guinness World Record for “the longest dreadlocks.” According to her, she uses 1 bottle of shampoo and 1 bottle of conditioner every time she washes her hair! Oh, and by the way, she used to wash her hair three times a week but now she’s down to once a week.  She says, “It’s very tiring.  Sometimes I don’t have the energy.”   Well, duh!  I have trouble understanding why someone would want this world record.  I mean, would it really make you famous?  I knew this girl in high school who had hair so long that she sat on it.  And I can’t tell you the times various “bad boys” in class would leave a piece of chewed gum on her desk chair with the inevitable result.  Believe me, it wasn’t pretty.  I guess maybe there are lots of people out in the world who are just yearning for their fifteen minutes of fame.

And finally, I came across a story about the President of France.  Apparently Amazon France is selling “Nicolas Sarkozy: The Voodoo Manual” kit which includes a handbook, 12 pins and a doll with Sarkozy’s face.  President Sarkozy is not a happy camper!  He has gone to court to get the whole thing pulled from the shelves. So far it is topping the best selling book list on the website – Amazon.fr.  Gee, a thing like that has got to ruin your whole day!  To think that all these people are buying a doll of YOU!

So, see all the neat things you can learn when you bypass all the gloom-and-doom stories that seem to characterize our American media?

Oh, and if it seems like I was mocking President Sarkozy, I wasn’t.  Honestly.  I don’t even know the man and have nothing against him.  But I was thinking…I wonder if you could get one of those dolls with another face on it?  Not that I, personally would ever use one, you understand.  I’m just saying…  Something like that might be a great little stress reliever!  That’s all I meant.  Yeah.

Have a great weekend!

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Aging…in little bits

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I had a tooth break off earlier this week.  Although I don’t see my dentist until Friday, I have a feeling I know what he’ll say, “This doesn’t look good.”  Duh.  I already know that.  The tooth is dead and there’s not enough of it to crown.  He’ll probably suggest an implant, that is, if the bone is good enough to hold it.  I may just have to do without a tooth there.  But, what I’m wondering is – why am I not more upset? There was a time when such a dental crisis would have had me in tears.

I think the answer is that I’m learning to accept the inevitable effects of getting older.  I’m a bit like a jalopy that has been driven so long and so far that it’s no surprise that pieces are starting to fall off!

I remember one morning last year I was sitting at my dressing table concerned about dark areas close to the inner corner of both my eyes.  Did I fail to remove all my eye makeup the night before?  I grabbed a wash cloth and began to scrub…and scrub…and scrub.  Nope, those dark areas must have crept up on my face when I wasn’t looking, but are obviously here to stay.  So, the paint job on the old girl is beginning to fade, too!

And yes, when I go downstairs for the first time in the morning, I hear so many joints cracking it’s like an arthritic symphony!  When did that happen? I may need to start warming my engine before putting it into drive.

And hairs!  Well, I really don’t want to go there, but I’ve noticed impudent little hairs sprouting in places where they have no damned business!  No damned business at all!  But that will remain a secret between me and my Lady Schick.

The thing is, the little signs of getting older are no fun. Seriously. But what can I expect?  This body is still pretty darned healthy despite the fact that in my younger years I certainly gave it a run for its money.  Oh yeah!  I used to cover my body in coconut oil and lay in the sun for hours! Yes I did!  Who knew?

When I first started to see the signs of getting older, it depressed me.  Now, I take it with a grain of salt.  There’s always someone worse off than me.  So I count my blessings.

What I think is funny is that younger readers in their twenties and thirties will read this and think, “Oh, I’d hate to start looking old.  That’s so sad.”  I know, because I used to look at older women and think the same thing when I’d see wrinkles and veiny hands.  But, let me tell you something girls.  No one gets out of this world alive.  And this “getting older” thing – it doesn’t just announce itself one day.  No, it creeps up and sneaks up on you until one day you look in the mirror and say, “Where did this second chin come from?”  Or maybe you’ll go to wash off a smudge on your chest only to discover it’s an AGE SPOT! Or maybe you’ll just be running down the stairs, hear something fall, look down, and discover YOUR NOSE JUST FELL OFF! Don’t laugh.  I put nothing past this age thing.

Having said all that, I’m just going to keep tooling along. (Albeit maybe minus a tooth!) If I’m lucky, I’ll still have quite a few good miles left in me.  And if I’m not, worrying won’t change a thing.

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Up in Smoke!

Did you ever have a certain place that was so interwoven with memories that it just became a part of your life?

Such a place for me was a certain restaurant in my city, which has been in business for fifty years.  It was a warm and welcoming steak house with big private wooden booths, wonderful serving people and even greater food. 

This is the place where my friend Dee and I would escape for lunch, whenever we got a chance, in order to get away from prying eyes and ears.  We’d sit huddled over the table, mapping out strategies of how we would survive the corporate intrigue that surrounded us.  After we solved those problems, we’d go on to compare views about our favorite competitors on such shows as “The Apprentice” and “Survivor.”  Things were shared here that we’d share with no others, comfortable in the knowledge that anything we said would remain in “the vault.”

This is where my friend Francie and I always celebrated – whether it be a birthday, Christmas, retirement or just a very good year.  It was a place to look forward to with joy because it had an air about it that made you feel special.

I remember when my friend Suzi sat in one of those booths and broke down in tears because her family was going to have to put her mother in a nursing home, and she was racked with guilt.  And I remember sitting there for two hours as we talked it through to the point where she felt better.

And this is the place where my close friend, Charles and I have met for lunch once a month for years and years since he retired.  We’ve become such a familiar sight that the staff knows us and immediately leads us to “our booth.”  This place, along with our weekly emails, has kept our friendship strong.

And now it is closed.  Monday there was an explosion, followed by a fire that caused almost a million dollars in damage and the owners don’t know whether or not they will rebuild.  How can this be?  How can such a personal landmark cease to be? 

Oh, I know, I still have my memories, but still, I feel off-balance.  Sure, there are other restaurants to choose from but it won’t be the same.  It makes me feel sad, like a part of my past has gone up in smoke.  Surely some of you reading this have places which are important in your life and history.  Don’t you?

Or maybe I’m just getting old.

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That “Uh-oh” Feeling

I shoulda known…

I had had a totally uneventful dental year until a couple of months ago when a tooth abscessed and I had to have a very difficult root canal done by a very expensive specialist.  (The root was so curved that my regular dentist didn’t want to attempt it.) That shot me up to almost my insurance dental limit for the year.  Then came my six month check-up which put me there.  “That’s okay,” I thought.  “Not much of the year left.”

AND THEN earlier Sunday when I was chewing, I kept getting the feeling that one of my upper crowns was moving just a little bit. But, I checked it and thought it was my imagination.  Queen of Denial, yup!  I thought about it again Sunday night when I was in the bathtub and checked it with my finger.  Uh-oh! This time it moved more than a little bit!  It moved a lot!  “That’s okay,” I thought again (ever the optimist!)”I have some of that temporary dental cement stuff and that stuff holds really well.  I can fix it myself! No problem!”  I found the stuff and set up my own little temporary dental lab at my dressing table, and gently “eased” the loose crown off.  But wait!  It didn’t look right.  It wasn’t hollow in the middle!  That’s because there was still “tooth” in it!

UH-OH

Apparently, the tooth broke off at the gum.  No pain so far unless you count that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.  So, I’ll be calling the dentist’s office as soon as they open today to see if they can get me in.  Joy.  At least it’s not right in front.  And as long as I don’t smile big, it will be my little secret.

But…I shoulda known.

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