April 02, 2010

Delete that movie

I hate the fact that there was a movie called the Bucket List. Everyone has these grandiose plans of what they want to do before they die. Given enough money, you'd probably even make it. I yearn for simpler things. The one that comes to mind most often is learning how to throw pizza dough. I remeber going to this place called Shakey's Pizza when I was a kid. The booths were red pleather/vinyl and the place was dark past the salad bar. They played old Three Stooges, Charlie Chaplin and other silent films while you ate.

The smell lingers in my mind today. Fresh flour, baking pizza, garlic, pepperoni. I still see the red plastic glass that was filled with real Coke made with real sugar and clear ice cubes that made nice crunchy sounds in my mouth as I chewed them. My mother taught me how to make expanding snakes by scrunching down the paper wrapper on the straw and then dribbling a drop or two of soda (everyone there called it pop) on the paper and it would grow. Cheap parlor trick, I know, but it was one of my favorite parts of pizza night.

The thin aluminum pizza pans for cooking and serving the pizza were stacked high behind the counter. All glass so you could see the guys throwing the dough and making these perfect circles from a lump of dough. They'd toss it in the air and catch it with a gleam in their eye as the kids would squeal, first in horror that he'd miss and then delight when he caught it neatly for another bout of tossing. Waiting in seeming agony for our order to be called. Fighting for the parmesan cheese shaker and then pounding the cheese out of it. The first bite pure ambrosia. The kind of taste that makes you close your eyes for a second or just to take it all in.

I know it's odd that's probably the top thing in my list of things to do, but it's not a high priority yet. I should work on that. I just googled Shakey's and found I could to to Georgia to visit one. I wonder if they are hiring? Perhaps I could just take a class? No worries, I'm getting there.

March 31, 2010

Where am i going?

Rather than tell you what to do, can I offer a suggestion or rather an exercise? Sit down with two sticky pads, two pens/small markers and your wife/husband (get the kids out of the house for at least 2 hours). For 20 minutes, don't look at each others work or talk, just write. One item per sticky. Put down everything you want to do, trips, things you want to own, financial goals, whatever you want, just write it down. Size doesn't matter, you can put Backyard BBQ with wife up to 105 foot yacht on there. No editing, have something that sounds wacky? Write it down. If your hidden dream is to sail around the world in a 30 foot sailboat, put it down. There are no rules here. At the end of 20 minutes (30 if you need more time), you should have a sizable stack of stickies. Now, either on the table or a large clean wall, start laying them out. no categories, no judgements. Just put them out there. Spend about 10 minutes looking at them all - give yourself time to envision yourself in each statement. Pair up like statements where you both wrote the same thing. Then, lay out a rough vertical grid - you don't need lines.

6 months | 1 YR | 2 YR | 3 YR | 4 YR | 5 YR | 5+ YR

If you feel the need to add longer time frames, do so, this is your exercise. Start putting things into columns under what you feel is the right heading. Stack duplicates on top of each other with some showing (different colored pads helps). As you begin to put things into categories of time, you'll probably realize that some things are not possible where they were originally positioned. As you move and position, talk with your wife about these things and why they are important to each other. Are some of the wacky goals really interesting to you? Here is where things get really fun. Start to imagine life with those wacky things. What moves can you make that would bring these things to fruition? Are some of the stickies simply things that help you keep up with the Joneses or are they things you really want as part of your life? What things on your lists lead to different life paths for the family? What surprises are on your partners stickies? What is absent you thought would be there? You'll probably find that some things don't fit anywhere. I'm sure someone smarter than me could figure out a name for this one, but I just put them at the bottom or side and think of them as wishful thinking - in this group, you may just discover your future. Do not just discard them as stupid or impossible.

Anyway, have fun with it and see where it takes you. Remember the old cliché, Life is what happens to other people while you are planning yours. What it really means is live today. When I started my blog, it was to document the trip to Europe if you go back to the beginning of the archive. One thing I talk about there is the idea that I don't want to be old and saying, I wish I had... So far, so good. :-)

If you try the exercise above, let me know how it goes.

March 26, 2010

Bear it or share it?

Sometimes we have all this turmoil in our minds. We feel uneasy, jittery, our minds pace like a caged tiger. If someone asked what we were thinking the answer would be the same. “Nothing.” Really, at that second, everything froze. It is no longer about the rent payment, the car, the dog, your boss, whether or not the Yankees are going to win in four. Like vapor being sucked out a hose, vvvwwwwwwwhhhhhhhhhiiiiiiiiiip. It’s gone.

At that moment, it just became about the relationship with the person that asked. Can you tell them something that will ease their mind? Can you make it real? Will it be the truth? “See, there is this stuff I want to protect you from, it’s not pretty, it’s not cute, it’s not friendly. In fact, it’s a bit crunchy, a bit slimy, and probably not a yummy for your mind.” Most of us can’t be that honest with ourselves let alone another person. So we hide behind a plausible story that fits.

The thing is, when you can share the crunchy, the slimy, the non-yummy, it makes the yummy, the soft velvety, smooth to the touch oh, so much better than we imagined. Melting away in the peace of someone’s arms, hearing them breath with their own rhythm. Feeling the warmth of them next to you, soothing away the aches and pains that made the turmoil that was so recently swimming around our brains. Yes, you can share it, the load is less when there are two carrying it.

March 21, 2010

Gimme some more sour M*A*S*H

I don't actively search it out, but MASH is a timeless show. The issues they brought to the screen are just as relevant today as they were when the show was originally on the air. The actors created an intimate look into the lives of their characters based on amazing scripts that just aren't written today. Comedy shows are largely a cliché and rarely if ever bring true issues to public consciousness as MASH did for many years, week after week.

As in real life, comedy and tragedy often fall hand in hand in an episode of MASH. When Henry Blake left the show, Hawkeye suggested he full on kiss Hotlips for a fantastic OMG moment on television followed shortly after with the scene when Radar enters the Operating Room to tell everyone that Lt. Col. Henry Blake's plane was shot down over the Sea of Japan and 'there weren't no survivors' which is as heart wrenching now as it was the first time I saw it 20+ years ago. Even dearly loved shows like Cheers do not elicit the emotional response that MASH could, they never did. Doesn't your throat get a little ache in it, just thinking of Henry's death? If you say no, you either never saw the entire series or you are lying. His character became a part of our lives and when he died, a piece of us went with him. When the casting director replaced him with Sherman Potter, they did the brilliant move of creating an entirely different kind of character, as would happen in real life, people are never replaced with the same entity, and the show created all new plot lines that helped you fall in love with the replacement. Who wouldn't want to spend an afternoon or an evening with a glass of scotch listening to that kindly old man as he reminisced about the old days in the saddle?

I'd beg and plead with Hollywood to bring out a show as funny, touching, heart ache filled as MASH was, but I doubt it could ever happen on the budget of a TV show today. Will Grey's Anatomy have the longevity of a show like MASH? Will I still be interested in Richard's bout with alcoholism as I am in watching Hawkeye Pierce try to quit drinking gin from the still in his tent and the madness that envelops him in the process? Doubtful. Even ER which I watched religiously for years finally lost it's appeal (somewhere around the time they had a helicopter fall on a character) to not only keep me entertained, but to get me thinking. We don't need to go further visually, we need to go further with the story. Dig deep writers and tell it like it is.

March 16, 2010

It's still free

Recently I took some time to reread portions of this blog and it's contents. As usual, I was surprised, annoyed (by typos and grammar errors) and sometimes blown away. More often blown away by the comments of readers than the things I have written. Here is one in particular that I keep rereading.

Each time you write it's as though you have a canvas in front of you, long wooden handled brushes, and many beautiful colors that have been blended together over time.

You paint with so much energy, emotion, and feeling. You pour all of you and all of what you are into what your writing. I feel like you're sitting in front of me, talking to me, sharing yourself.

It's an amazing experience to walk through your gallery. The cost of admission should be much, much more.

If you are a new visitor, take a few minutes to read some of the Favorite Leaks, if you are an old reader popping in to see if there are any new drippings, take a few minutes to drop into the archive and reread some of the stuff that's been forgotten. Since I don't really diary/journal events but rather observations and questions, most of this blog is still 'current'. Either way, enjoy and come back for more.

Bits n bits

Empty vessels fall from deadened fingers to shatter on the cobble. Unheard, uncared for and unwilling to look, the sounds quickly stifled to silence. Shrouded in mist and clouds, we seek the source of echos.

March 04, 2010

Where am i?

Even surrounded by darkness, there is always hope that the light will return. I look for that spark, the catalyst, to return me to the brightness I once saw and felt.

November 25, 2009

The joker

So, the joke's on me. There have been a few constants in my life since I was young. The first being that I wanted to be older. Or to be perceived as older. I wanted respect that matched my intellect. I guess I never realized that respect is earned and my attitude turned most people off. Cocky, arrogant, aloof. All good descriptors for who I was. I remember reading a story when I was a kid and the key phrase - perhaps the title was, "Pride goeth before a fall". Pride makes us do all kinds of non-wondrous things. Things we'll regret later, but feel right at the time. Too often, pride means not asking for help. We walk around trying to make things match our dreams and forget we can reach out to others and get assistance.

The second constant in my life has to be the desire to be less intelligent that I was/am. I failed most of my classes in Jr. High, yet scored in 94+ percentile on standardized tests. I didn't have an ego about it. I instinctively hid it. Smart kids were not popular in school. I was neither an athlete or popular for any reason, but my teachers knew what was going on. Especially once I got to high school. The facade of stupid no longer met with indifference or studied ignorance. It was met head on with deliberate, swift action to rectify my place in the world. The brilliant idea spread that I should be placed in the honors classes. The kid with all the D's and F's should be moved to the exceptional classes where he would surely only meet geeks and freaks. Pure genius.

I was never gifted enough to be a rocket scientist, or a quantum mechanics guru. Never quite able to get past the present and really see the future. My future. Grandiose ideas died a swift death on the pedestal of my imagination. Lopped off with an ax of haughty bravado that kept most away and a small few enthralled, I lacked the true imagination to take me to distant realms of idea and foment. So after my accident, I lost a good portion of who I once was. Gone are most of the tricks of language I pursued to make the day more interesting. Much like the stalemates I engineered when playing chess with lesser opponents. Every once in a while, I find a turn of phrase that tickles my fancy and delights my spirit. I move with every intention of writing these down, but invariably, I forget before I can turn and type or find a loose scrap to make them permanent.

Yes, the joke is on me. Not cruel, not punishing, nor ribald or crude. A fragile joke without cause or purpose. To get what the heart desires is perhaps the worst. If there is feeling beyond that, I don't know how to identify it. He thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts.