confidence September 28, 2011 Is confidence best expressed openly or is a subtle approach more powerful? I don’t much like arrogance or bravado; that never radiates confidence to me. And yet the people who are gaudy and garish often delude themselves by assuming the world looks at them as trailblazers.
now September 28, 2011 Now is closer than ever, now has just begun, and now will soon be gone. Now will be a memory, a faded opening, a lost opportunity, a chance to have done something and to have done nothing at all.
That mindfulness drives me I am haunted by the passing of time. I measure my worth against it. Look at the clock. Look at the calendar. No lulls allowed. You can’t suspend it, you can’t adjourn it, you can’t slow it down, you can’t ban it. So use it. Why postpone, why reschedule, why hesitate, why dawdle. Why waste a minute. Why wait to fall in love. The adversary is delay.
A day in the life November 4, 2011 Started the day with a phone call to Time Warner – a follow-up to my earlier phone call & fax on October 11th inquiring — bitching would be a better word — about why my Visa bills had been charged a total of $1373 for four months of Triple Play which should run roughly five bucks a day. “Just calling to check the status of my fax sent on October eleventh,” I told the Customer Rep. There followed the usual security check: mother’s maiden name, name of favorite childhood friend, name of first puppy, favorite film. “We do not have your fax,” I was told. “What do you mean?” “We have no record of it. You have to fax everything again.” “I absolutely will not fax everything again. That fax cost me about twenty bucks. You guys wanted copies of everything. I already checked a week after I sent the fax to make sure it was received and they said yes, it had been received. I want to speak to your supervisor.” Pause – did I scare him or do they write all this stuff down, I wondered? Do I have a criminal record for consumer complaints with Time Warner? Then: “Before I connect you with my supervisor, can I help you with anything else today?” “No.” “You may be receiving an automated message asking you about my service today. I hope you will give me the highest mark.” “Yea, sure.” And with that I held on . . . and held on . . and held on for 12 minutes until I finally gave up. Than it was off to the post office to mail a letter to the Bahamas. I handed the letter to the clerk, I believe with a smile. I know I said good morning “Can you tell me how much postage I need, please?” “98 cents,” she said. She didn’t weigh it or anything. Just glared at me like I should know how much it cost. “98 cents,” I repeated, as I gave her a dollar bill, again I believe with a smile. “Good thing. . . I would have put two 44 cents stamps on there and been ten cents short.” The glare was now defiant. She yanked off a single stamp from a sheet, placed it on top of my letter, and chucked it back with my two cents change. Before I had a chance to put it on the envelope, she called “Next”. So I walked over to the counter & tried to stick the stamp on the envelope. Nothing happened. I looked at the back. It didn’t look sticky but I licked it anyway. It slid right off the envelope. I went back and stood in line. She gave me a dirty look when she saw it was me. “This doesn’t stick” I said, showing her the stamp sliding off the envelope. “Did you peel it?” “Peel it?” I asked. “I don’t know what you mean.” She grabbed the envelope and the stamp, bent the stamp from the back to show me what she meant, and pitched it back. Well, I never knew that you had to peel a stamp. I buy commemoratives in sheets and you just peel them OFF the sheet from the front, not from the back. Life is full of surprises Next was a trip to the drugstore for vitamins. The vitamin aisle was full of ads promising two-for-one. I found the vitamin I wanted – it was marked “22.99” but right below it was the two for one sticker. As a matter of fact, everything seemed to be two-for-one except a few specialty items. I grabbed two bottles. On the way to the cashier there was a big tub of Halloween candy for 25 cents. I picked up two pieces – one was an orange marshmallow pumpkin that looked kind of disgusting but I wanted to see what it tasted like and the other was a peanut butter pumpkin. The cashier rang everything up and it was like $48.00. “Those vitamins are two-for-one” I said. “Well, they’re not ringing up that way.” “Never mind then. I’ll just take the candy.” “That’ll be a dollar nine.” What happened to the 25 cents each, I wondered, but didn’t dare say a word. “I don’t need a bag” I told her as I ripped open the candy as I walked out the door. Truth be told November 20, 2011 As I write this, friends of mine are out there protesting on this cold windy day. It doesn’t matter what they’re protesting; what matters is that they are protesting because their hearts are propelling them to. They are driven to tell their truth and this is the way they choose to tell it. What is your favorite way of telling the truth? I found myself reflecting on that this morning. And I realized that, fabricated as it may be, fiction writing is the kind of writing I delight in because that is my way of telling the truth, my truth. Nothing is as thorny as the concept of truth with its many layers, its many veneers, and the way it so easily spirals out of control. My truth may not be your truth but that doesn’t water down its legitimacy. Writing fiction allows me to put my truths in other people’s lives and let them battle it out, puzzle it out, or romance it.
The Christmas Mug December 15, 2011 I almost broke the Christmas mug today. But I caught it just in time. The Christmas mug is a hearty-sized coffee mug with an illustration that stretches clear round of Santa Claus playing the piano; to his one side is a Christmas tree decorated with ornaments and strings of lights and to the other a generous bundle of gifts. The bottom of the mug says “Designed exclusively for Starbucks.” I remember the day Roger came home with the mug. He said the barista in Starbucks had given it to him as a gift. He’s been gone for 11 years now and was sick for two years before that so I’m guessing that was at least 12 years ago. One morning the ladies in the Chinese laundry gave him a rather exotic looking purple plant. Then the girl in Starbucks gave him the mug. One of the students at the school where he worked gave him a bracelet she made. He was cute as a button and handsome as they come. Everyone loved him. But no one more than me.
Zumba February 17, 2012 Obsessed with zumba. Just realized that the step I was having trouble with was because I only now figured out that the foot you land on is the foot you take that initial hop with. Life is wonderful when you can figure out what you’ve been doing wrong. Hmmmmm, ain’t that the truth!
Why I Love My Brother February 23, 2012 I was starting to pull things together for a trip to Sicily when I realized it might be a good idea to read the Important Information Booklet, compliments of my tour office. I floated through frequent flyer miles, connecting flights, luggage handling, travel gear, how to carry your money, regional climate information — and stopped dead at “Regional Electricity.” If you use multiple digital devices – cell phone, digital camera, MP3 player for instance – it’s handy to have a travel power strip to increase the number of available outlets for charging these devices. That wasn’t me. I barely needed power strips at home; “devices” was one area of my life where I was a minimalist. Italy uses the Type C “Europlug” and receptacles (Type F and L) and 230 V/50 Hz current. That was when I suspected that the battery charger for my Canon camera might not work over there. Plugging a 110 V U.S. appliance into 220/240 V 50/60 Hz will result in a broken appliance since the motor will burn out as it tries to run twice as fast as it was designed to run. There were diagrams. Side views. Full views. Shaded for clarity. This was not exactly an intolerably technical challenge but I still didn’t understand a word. I called my brother. “Sounds like you need some sort of adapter. Just go to Radio Shack.” So I went to Radio Shack. They knew I wasn’t there to purchase a Virgin Mobil LG Optimus slider. They could tell just watching me that I wasn’t interested in spending more than a couple of bucks. I had the feeling nobody even wanted to wait on me but finally someone came over. I tried to explain as best I could, making it way more complicated than it was, I’m sure. When I finally shut up, he asked “Exactly where are you going?” “Sicily.” He sprinted to the wall, pulled down a hard plastic case with a bright green seal: For all outlets in continental Europe. It was an “enercell,” a U.S.-to-Europe plug adapter. It saidPower your devices. Empower your life. Sounded like a win-win. I took it home. But it didn’t work. It just didn’t fit. I struggled and tugged; I yanked and wrenched. I tweaked. I pressed and forced and shoved. I tried and I tried. I turned it this way and that and considered all possible combinations. The funny thing is it fit pretty snug on one side and I wondered if that was the way it was supposed to be. One of the prongs easily snapped into a single socket (which I was later informed was properly called a “receptacle”, but at least “socket” was one step up from “holes” which is the first thing I thought to call it. I called my brother again and asked if it was good enough that just one of the prongs fit – would that constitute a sufficient connection? No. “Just go back with the new adapter and the battery charger – maybe there’s another little piece you need.” So I headed back about three o’clock that afternoon for another round. My e-mail of 7:08 that night It turned out the adapter was fine — it fit perfectly – i just wasn’t pushing it in hard enough the guy just took it from me and slammed it together and looked at me like people look at other people they think are so stupid they shouldn’t be on this earth (radio shack guys are very good at that — i think they must get special lessons) it hurt my feelings for pretty much the next couple of hours His e-mail of 9:28 that night Sil, Take heart, we all have strengths and we all have weaknesses. I am sure that when he wrote up his report for his status for the day he had an entry similar to this: “Todayy I hed a gurl cum in and man was she konfusid. she diddnt now hou to plugin a 410x adptr plug intu a recipticle. She was a frindly purson but yew know it was eerd. Dude I shoulda stayed at mickkey-dee, at lest i got gud foud. laterr man.” And those people breed. You are intelligent, talented, a great eye for photos, well-read and well written. He is a pimply nerd Mark Zuckerberg wanna-be that won’t be. Love, Al