Thursday, April 24, 2014

Random Quote Wednesday: A Twofer, in Honor of the Letter "T"

"Writing is the first anti-depressant. It came before Prozac or Effexor. And it was cheaper."

T is for Therapeutic
"Memories screwed up perspective, and the most vivid ones could annihilate time completely while they held sway."
~~Stephen King, Lisey's Story
T is for Time


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ho Ho How Many Times Are You Going To Tell That Story?

[Apparently at least one more time...This is a recycled post, originally appearing on the blog on December 25, 2009.]

The Christmas I was nine, I had pretty much given up on the idea of Santa. It's strange to me that I had not given up on it sooner--I was, after all, the kid who couldn't sit through the Wizard of Oz without harping on the fact that it would've been impossible for all those "people" who'd never met--Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion--to know all the words to the song "We're Off To See The Wizard." On the other hand, I did not seem to have much trouble accepting a talking Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion or, for that matter, a green-faced Wicked Witch of the West and her flying monkeys so perhaps it's not so odd after all.

In any case, I didn't quite NOT believe in Santa but mostly that was the same kind of bet-hedging I imagine many on-the-fence agnostics indulge in--better not to say out loud, "There is no Santa" just in case there is one and he might be offended and vengeful at my disbelief.

So Little Sister and I were in the bedroom we shared, awake late, too excited to sleep, wondering aloud about the surprises there might be under the tree, just generally being kids on Christmas Eve. At some point--and I'm not sure if she was still awake or not--there came the sound of tinkling bells.

They were sleigh bells, of course. No other logical explanation could be found in my wanting-to-believe brain. And that sealed the deal on at least six more months of being right around 85% certain that Santa Claus not only existed but did in fact fly around the world in a sleigh pulled by bell-bedecked reindeer.

By the following Christmas, I no longer believed and I can't remember exactly what compelling evidence pushed me to non-believer status, but there was always this weird nagging doubt in the back of my mind--"What about those sleigh bells?"

Three years or so after I heard those sleigh bells, I was digging for dimes in the desk drawer where my father sometimes threw his pocket change and came across a photo of him with the box of the pinball machine we had found under the tree the Christmas morning I was nine and suddenly those sleigh bells made a lot more sense. It hadn't been a sleigh landing on the roof, it had been my father test-driving the pinball machine.

Thirty-two years later, the fact that I didn't recognize the bells of the sleigh the night before Christmas as the bells of the pinball machine Christmas morning remains one of my most enduring lessons in the power of our wishes and moods to influence our perceptions of the world around us. Though I've not always put it to good use*, the awareness that what I see is often influenced by what I "want" to see was a much longer-lasting gift than the pinball machine or anything else I found under the tree that morning.

*In that way, it's like the gift of exercise equipment--you have every intention of using it and you know it would do you good to use it, but all too often it ends up abandoned in some corner--a treadmill turned clothes rack.

S is for Santa Claus

Monday, April 21, 2014

Random Quote Monday

"Ironic that she'd become a dermatologist. She'd always had a personality like a rash, itchy, chafing, the kind of woman who just won't let you get comfortable."
~~Kathryn Harrison, Envy
R is for Rash

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Artist and His Muse

For the past few years, Daughter-Only has worked in a variety of retail businesses in our small town, managing to amass an alarming number of stories of inappropriate innuendo and outright harassing comments and requests from customers as well as from some of her fellow employees. Some of these things, coming as they did from her superiors (at a job she no longer holds) were legally actionable, or damned close.

Mostly though, they were misguided, socially awkward attempts to strike up a friendship or relationship or, um, let's say "relations" with Daughter-Only. One thing these types of commenters seemed to have in common was an utter lack of awareness about how their interest and the way they chose to express it might actually be perceived by Daughter-Only and those around her as more icky than intriguing, more frightening than flattering.

Currently, Daughter-Only (who will be 20 in June) works at a cafĂ© in an "arts center" that has studio space for various artists in its basement. She reported to me this week that one of the "artists from the basement" approached her and said, "I don't want to come across as a creepy middle-aged man, but I wanted to let you know that I am working on a sculpture of your face." He then went on to rave about her striking bone structure and to explain that he may be staring at her more than usual in the coming weeks--you know, for artistic purposes. All the while, Daughter-Only struggled to maintain her professional composure.

Now, perhaps--perhaps!--this middle-aged man has a purely artistic interest in my daughter. Perhaps--perhaps!--this man is not just a(nother) creepy middle-aged man expressing an inappropriate interest in my daughter.

But perhaps--perhaps!--this middle-aged man may want to come up with a better opening line, because there's no way that anything that begins with the line, "I don't want to come across as a creepy middle-aged man..." is going to be anything but creepy.

Q is for Qualms

Friday, April 18, 2014

Random Quote Friday

"Patriotism can be good or bad. Knee-jerk patriotism can be very bad. I'm patriotic...but I love my country the way I love a friend or a child who I would correct if she was going the wrong way. Who I expect the very best from."

~~Emmylou Harris, "What I've Learned," Esquire,June 2004
P is for Patriotism

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Random Quote Thursday

"I would not have done anything differently.

All of the moments in my life, everyone I have met, every trip I have taken, every success I have enjoyed, every blunder I have made, every loss I have endured has been just right. I'm not saying they were all good or that they happened for a reason--I don't buy that brand of pap fatalism--but they have been right. They have been...okay. As far as revelations go, it's pretty lame, I know. Okay is not bliss, or even happiness. Okay is not the basis for a new religion or self-help movement. Okay won't get me on Oprah. But okay is a start, and for that I am grateful."

O is for Okay