Friday, November 28, 2008

black friday

Shopping is never my thing. Black Friday is about as appealing as poison ivy to me. I would happily stay out of the stores on a day like Black Friday- or on any other day, for that matter. I'm even reluctant to shop online, but shopping in brick and mortar establishments often brings on something like a panic attack.

But somehow I ended up with The Child, a.k.a. Material Man, in my life. He loves shopping and he didn't learn it from me. This budding shopaholic somehow assumed that I'd be willing to arise early enough this morning to enter the nearest Wal-Mart by 4am.

Fortunately, his alarm must not have gone off this morning, and we didn't leave for the nearest mall until 9am. He griped about having surely missed the best bargains, and I assured him that considering the economy, there'd be plenty left.

He found the laptop of his dreams priced at a $300 discount. I said it would have to be his one and only gift for Christmas and his birthday (I'm talking about for the year 2008 and every subsequent year until the end of time), for his high school and college graduations, and for his wedding. (It's expensive.) He agreed. I said we'll put it in writing when we get home. Then I plopped down an extra $100 for the Geek Squad to show up at my house tomorrow to set up said laptop.

Upon arriving home, I wondered what kind of power The Child has over me to get me to do things so against my nature. Well, maybe Black Friday isn't so bad.....plenty of people seem to throw themselves into it with gusto.....

Then I read on the internet that a young man employed by a Wal-Mart on Long Island was trampled by an unruly crowd this very morning, in a Black Friday frenzy, and he died. I no longer take it lightly. Never again will I contribute to or participate in this sort of madness.

Monday, November 17, 2008


OK- it seems that I have not yet learned to effectively photograph snow falling. But that's what this is: snow falling- a far cry from this:

which I photographed a mere couple of weeks ago. Many of the roses were still in bloom! Wow- what a colorful autumn it was.

Last week I had to buy a new furnace. I learned a thing or two: furnaces are really, really expensive; they're complicated to install; they smell ghastly when turned on for the first time (no pun intended, but it works); if you want one right away, you'd better have connections. (My "connection" was my realtor, who has bailed me out of several situations.)

A major change has occurred in the setting of my house. The house is on a public park, and there was a city-owned building, used until a few months ago as a recreation center for seniors, which was situated kind of right next to my house:
This is what the building looked like through a window from inside of my house:
This happened:
And this is the result:

The view from my house is now this:

So the view is better. What is not better is the quality of life of all the local senior citizens who fought mightily against the demolition of their building. The city moved their activities to a room in the middle of a large rec center serving all ages. It's not the same, the seniors bemoan, and it sure doesn't have as good a view as their old center which was perched at the end of the huge public rose garden.

Then there's The Child.
He's owned a high quality laptop from a very early age. He has always loved technology and has been fascinated by the latest electronics. That's been clear for a long time.

Like many boys, he can't stand school. I have bent over backwards trying to figure out what to do about that. Being convinced that he despises reading, writing and arithmetic, I sought to discover his REAL interests so that at least I could offer him extra opportunities which would be meaningful to him.

Computers were always a major interest, so last summer I signed him up for computer camp in another city. He enjoyed it, but came home saying what he REALLY wanted to do was learn to program using C++.

Long story short: I FINALLY found a grad student computer geek willing to take on The Child. Finally victorious, I ran to tell The Child that I had set up his first computer lesson for later this week- all he had to bring was his Macbook, and this was his response:

"I'm NOT going!!!!"

"WHAT???? This is all you've talked about for months! Yopu knew I was moving heaven and earth to find a programming tutor for you!"

"NO!!!!!! I WON'T GO!!!!"

Hours later, after extensive prodding, pleading and manipulation, I finally asked the right question (I don't even remember what it was) and the response was:

"I want to program on a PC! C++ is for PC!!! I don't WANT to take my Mac! I've already taught myself Apple Script and I'm over it!"

Dumbfounded, I remembered the Apple Script book I had bought him after camp. Apparently he used it. But a PC? The Child had always been one of those arrogant Mac loyalists, constantly looking down upon PCs, constantly making fun of mine:I never thought I'd see the day, but it appears that another Mac user has converted! I guess the only thing we can count on is change....

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Mentor Ted

Just before The Child came into my life, I had a mentor named Ted. He was the Father I Never Had. He was introduced to me by my friend K who said his advice had changed- no, actually saved- her life. I could see that she had placed him on a pedestal. I was fascinated.

I wondered if I too could win over Ted. Would he even bid me the time of day? He was a "rock star," so to speak. My friend K was the type of woman who easily attracted men. She was born to attract men. Ted was not a romantic interest for either of us, though- he was a mentor, a Father. He was a motivational speaker- that's how K discovered him.

When I first called him and introduced myself, he reacted exactly the way I wanted him to. He took me under his wing. I became an instant daughter. He invited me to call him daily. He lived in LA. I ran up huge phone bills talking to him, but it was worth it. He told me how to live my life. He gave me a solution to every problem. He began a process which should have occurred during my childhood: the growth of my self-esteem.

Clearly, Ted liked me. He was very impressed with what I do for a living and with the fact that I was extremely independent and good at handling my finances and other affairs. I thrived on Ted's approval and appreciation. My own father had never voiced the approval that I was now receiving from Ted. My own father had never spoken to me with the affection that I now heard in Ted's voice.

On a daily basis, he helped me examine the way I was living my life. He gave me logical solutions to whatever problems cropped up at work or in personal relationships. He taught me about boundaries- a hitherto unknown concept for me. He taught me how to serve others while still being true to myself. He taught me to be reasonable. He always said that he tried to teach people to "live comfortably with unresolved problems." In other words, he taught people how to live in peace, despite whatever issues presented themselves.

Probably the most valuable gift he gave me was a kind, loving, yet honest reality check on my biological family, my place in it, and the limitation on what I could expect from it. He taught me how to "clean up my side of the street" and leave it at that. He taught me how to make meaningful amends without selling out. He taught me an unbelievably powerful method of making amends to a person who has died, and I have passed this technique on to many other people who have also used it successfully. Ted was the wisest person I have ever met. His advice was sound; in some cases, I didn't find out until years later how sound it was. He never charged a dime for his advice- I only paid the long distance phone charges, which I totally controlled because I was the one calling him.

K and I nearly fainted when we found out that Ted was coming to our city to speak!!! We fought over which one of us would pick him up at the airport. She won because of my work schedule. She was so nervous about meeting Ted face-to-face that she wrecked her car on the way to the airport!

I understood, because I too was a nervous wreck about meeting Ted (although fortunately it didn't show in my driving!). What if he was disappointed by the way I looked?! Surely he had conjured up an image of me in his mind. Would I disappoint him? I donned my best outfit, topped by the leather coat which I rarely wore and spent lots of extra time trying to look my best. My friend K always looked fantastic, like a model- I had to attempt to compete with that standard.

Then, when I was finished with work, I went to the hotel to meet Ted. It was an earth-shaking event. Really, it was like meeting my father for the first time! Ted showed far more enthusiasm for me than my father ever had. And I heaved a silent sigh of relief when Ted whispered, "I just knew you were gorgeous- I could tell over the phone!" Was I ever glad I had spent all that time fussing with my hair.....

You might be thinking that this story is going to take a slimy turn for the worst, but it didn't. Ted remained My Father. In fact, he wanted to meet the guy I had been going out with. When we failed to co-ordinate their schedules, Ted insisted on talking to him on the phone! I listened in on the conversation during which Ted had the guy jump through hoop after hoop, like any caring father would. I was touched that Ted warned him to proceed slowly with me, thinking of me as a deer in the headlights....(My own father never would have done this.)

It never works well to place a human being on a pedestal, as we all know. Humans are fallible. Shortly after his visit to my city, I faced a life-changing decision- the decision of my lifetime. Ted had a very strong opinion about which choice I should make. Although I understood his concerns all too well, I disagreed with him. I stopped calling Ted. He was worried, and started calling me when I stopped calling him. I didn't return his calls.

Nine months later The Child was born.

Friday, November 07, 2008

what's missing

Every one of us experiences that nagging feeling of something being missing in our lives. Sometimes we "know" what it is: a spouse, a house, a certain job, a baby, a week with Super Nanny, more money.......

Actually, it's possible that what's missing is an awareness of the present moment and an appreciation for what is.

But sometimes there are nagging, persistent feelings of discontent. During my younger years I suspected that certain things had occurred during my upbringing which had left me ill-equipped to deal with life in a mature way. Something was wrong with me, I thought, but it was not obvious. It was easily concealed, especially before The Child came into my life- I appeared to have my act together in a big way, with an unusual sense of independence, an admirable career, and even a mortgage from an early age. Who knew that my father had never performed his proper role toward his daughter or that my mother had "abandoned" me by working the night shift?

I have tried therapy and self-help books. What I have learned is this: my childhood, parents, upbringing, traumas both real and imagined actually don't amount to a hill of beans. Certainly things happened which led to my insecurity and floundering sense of self. However, the present is all that matters, and the cure is available in the present. Psychoanalysis and childhood excavation are unnecessary! All we need is the belief in our worthiness. That belief does not require examination of the past. It requires acknowledgement of the present truth.

We each know, deep down, that it's true that we're worthy- it's just that we don't choose to focus on that ultra important fact. Irrationally, we think we'll get a better payoff from throwing thousands of dollars and hours into counselling, anti-depressants, life coaching, seminars or, worse yet, some form of escape.

Why not just accept the truth? Each of us is worthy. Period. Now, believe that, on a deep level, and act accordingly. Treat yourself as worthy with your life choices. Eat as if you're worthy, excercise as if you're worthy, work as if you're worthy, speak as if you're worthy. Magically, you'll find yourself threating others as if they are worthy.

Am I doing this? Hah! The plan is that I'll be starting today (stop snickering), after realizing during my past couple of conversations with friends that I am once again whirling out of control, confused about the direction my life seems to be taking. Rather than attempting to seize control of my life, I have decided to float through my life like a cork on the ocean, fully aware of the present truth (I am worthy) and continually performing the action in front of me.

Right now, for example, living by my new creed, I'll first check to be sure that my bottom line is established: I am worthy, all is well, and while accepting the circumstances of my life as I float like a cork on the ocean, I look to see what's in front of me for my next action. I will publish this post, then spend an hour preparing something for work, then take the Chihuahua out for a walk, then get the house ready for The Child's party tomorrow. I have postponed jogging due to rain, but it appears that things won't dry up anytime soon, so I'll dig out my rain gear and jog in the rain, after drinking the soy milk I have chosen instead of raiding The Child's Trick or Treat candy. It all sounds rather dreary, I know, and may not be sustainable, but I will reward myself tonight by watching my favorite TV show, Wife Swap. I wonder if any wife would want to swap with whirlingbetty?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Indian Summer Election Day

I voted two weeks ago, having been forewarned of the possibility of waiting 4+ hours to vote on election day, so I missed the excitement of being at the polls today. (And seriously, I did miss it!) My phone was sadly silent today too- I guess all the campaign volunteers figured their time had run out. (Or maybe the word got out that I had already voted!)

The weather here is unreal. We're experiencing a true Indian Summer. Two weeks ago we had freezing temperatures, and even hold-outs like me had no choice but to turn on their furnaces, yet today everyone is wearing T-shirts and shorts outdoors- in November! I hope this is a good omen. At least nobody in this part of the country can use bad weather as an excuse not to vote. I hope each and every sound-minded individual votes in this election- it's so much healthier for our country's citizens to be involved- informed and involved.

This multi-colored tree stands but a few feet from my house. These days I really am trying to stay in the present, with appreciation as my goal. That way it's impossible to overlook sights such as this one. And it IS possible to overlook things that I choose to NOT focus on. Some would call that conscious living. I call it a big improvement.
I have come to realize the degree to which my "problems" are of my own making. As an example, I just called my bank in a panic after checking my account online and seeing no evidence of a deposit I made on Monday. The woman from the bank explained that it's bank procedure- nothing has gone wrong- the deposit just won't show until 7 am tomorrow. My panic was pointless- I didn't need that money for any particular reason. I've just fallen into the trap of worrying about money along with the rest of the world! Yet I'm not starving, not in danger of foreclosure- I have a job and everything I need. Why on earth would I choose to panic over money? "Because everyone else is paniced" is not a legitimate answer. The truth is that all is well, here and now.
Happy Election Day!!!! May the best man for our country win (and may Wall Street reflect that!).