Sunday, August 16, 2009

Random Thoughts on Vacations

  • 950 some-odd miles is a long way from home
  • Traveling with a teenager and an iPod is just about the same as traveling alone
  • Texas drivers go fast no matter where they are
  • I love Oklahoma, and there are even spots I'd consider scenic, but by and large, there are a lot of prettier places
  • You don't think much about the things you take for granted, like always knowing your way around town—even when there are construction signs—or the perfect mattress that took you hours upon hours of searching to find
  • Toll roads already cost money, they shouldn't also charge more for gas
  • There are friendly people everywhere
  • No matter how much you might want it, you're unlikely to see a moose in mid-August in Duluth
  • Lake Superior is HUGE
  • Whoever came up with the automatic station search on car stereos deserves a medal
  • I wouldn't want to live someplace that needed five foot poles attached to the fire hydrants just so you can find them in the snow
  • Close quarters can breed short tempers. This has surely always been true, but I only have good memories of my childhood vacations; I hope the same will be true for my son
  • It's nice to see the big yellow Best Buy tag when you've lost camera accessories
  • Summer vacation is a good excuse to eat ice cream
  • There's never enough time
  • It's always nice to come home again

Monday, June 29, 2009

Pieces of Childhood

It's been a sad week for the entertainment world, losing so many known and beloved members. Earlier today, TV pitchman Billy Hays passed away, and after reading one of the online reports, I continued to browse through the reader comments, and there were many. I have to admit, I was sort of surpised at the number of people who labeled themselves fans and were mourning his loss. I mean, I'm sorry when anyone loses their life-- especially when it happens so unexpectedly, and at such an early age. But other than a moment of thought and prayer for his family, this particular passing didn't impact me much.

But that got me to thinking about last Thursday evening. I was chatting with a couple of co-workers about the passing of Michael Jackson (was there an office anywhere in the world where that conversation was not taking place?), and one of them tossed out the idea that maybe entertainers are idolized too much; that maybe we should spend more time recognizing and celebrating the good work and deeds of the anonymous masses. I don't disagree with the idea that there are plenty of "real life" people worthy of admiration, though I don't believe that means that entertainers are any less worthy of our affection and admiration.

But reading the outpouring of affection today for someone for whom I had no particular personal affection made me remember her dismay that so many people could be moved by the passing of Jackson, and I decided to give it a bit more thought.
During our conversation, we were mostly focused on Michael Jackson, but that same day had also seen the passing of Farrah Fawcett, and only a few days earlier, Ed McMahon. This had been a triple-whammy to me, and honestly, it was hard for me to comprehend how anyone could not understand the sense of loss.

Upon refelction, though, it became clear that it wasn't just these people that I was mourning--after all, I didn't know any of them personally-- but it was what they represented in my life. They were fixtures, snapshots of my lifetime, pieces of my childhood.

For almost all of my life, until I was grown and had a child of my own, The Tonight Show starred Johnny Carson and his perpetually jolly sidekick, Ed McMahon. When I was too young to stay up late enough to see it, they were the people I longed to watch. And when I got a little older and didn't understand a lot of the humor, they still made me laugh. And as I actually grew up, I began to recognize not only the talent of Carson, but the integral part that McMahon had in the success of that program. They were late-night television to me; some of my earliest exposure to stand-up comics and political humor, and still the standard by which I judge other similar programs. Today, I talk about watching "Jay Leno"--or, I suppose, "Conan O'Brien", though I have yet to do that-- but it is rare to hear me refer to "The Tonight Show", because I think that show ended the night Johnny and Ed stepped down.

As for Farrah Fawcett . . . I grew up in the days of women's lib, though that was another thing I was too young to fully grasp at the time. But I was thirteen when Charlie's Angels premiered, and had always been a fan of cop/detective type shows. It was cool that there were ladies going out after the bad guys and getting the job done. I didn't analyze it at the time, didn't understand that some people might still think it sexist and demeaning that the Angels--particularly Farrah-- ended up on so many provocative posters, but I liked the idea that women could be both pretty and productive at the same time. No doubt it was an idea that hit me subliminally, but that's all right. I think it's an okay idea for a girl to grow up with.

And Michael Jackson. I don't remember when he wasn't there. When I was young, first discovering a love of music, he and his brothers were there. Michael was only a few years older than I, and I always thought that was extremely cool-- here was this kid, rich, famous, having a great time just singing and dancing all the time. I always figured if he could do it, I could do it. Not sing and dance, of course, but whatever it was that I might want to do to have a great time and get rich and famous. He wasn't a grown-up; he was a little kid, just like me. It seemed empowering, the idea that you didn't have to be an adult to have a fun job. It was only as I got older that I began to appreciate the toll such a life might take on one so young, but man, I loved to hear that kid sing!

Then we both grew up a little more and suddenly it seemed people were discovering him all over again. I considered myself more mature then, and not quite as easily persuaded that anyone could become rich and famous if only they'd pursue their dreams, but there was no denying that Michael was still an inspiration. He not only made his own dreams come true, but seemed to also tap into the hopes and dreams of people the world over. His songs touched people like few--if any-- had ever done. He brought people together that might never have had anything in common other than a love for his music. He had a message of hope and inspiration that found its way into a perfect pop beat and impeccable rhythm, and people listened and rejoiced. Later in his life, other headlines eclipsed talk of his music and dancing, but the Michael Jackson of my childhood and early adulthood is the one that I will remember, and the one that I mourn.

So all three of these iconic figures had a place in my formative years, even if I did not fully recognize it at the time. Some people would consider them "only" entertainers, who have no true impact on our daily lives, but those people could not be more wrong. Ed, Farrah, Michael-- they are part of what made me who I am today, pieces of my childhood that are now lost, but will be cherished forever.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Fans and Friends

I'm thinking today of Brian Keith, the actor likely most widely known for his roles in Family Affair and Disney's The Parent Trap (the original from the 60s, not the more recent remake). Of course, he was acting long before and long after either of those things, and the work that has endeared him most to me was the role of a crusty old judge in the 80s series Hardcastle and McCormick. Several years ago, my fondness for that particular television show led me to search the internet for anyone who might share my interest, and I was fortunate enough to find an active Yahoo group devoted to the show. That has turned out to be one of the best moments of my life.

I know; I can hear you now: "Huh? Finding a fan board about a show that's a couple decades old ranks as one of the high points? Really?" Yes, really. See, it's not so much about the fan board as about the fans themselves. I've been lucky enough to have made some dear friends from that group, and we've shared some experiences I'll never forget. In addition to the many hours simply chatting online, and the countless emails exchanged over a wide variety of topics, we also banded together to sponsor Brian Keith for a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. That little endeavor took over two years of our lives, but was worth every minute. Then a few of us joined forces to write and publish a book-- a viewer's guide to the show that had brought us together in the first place. Not the next Great American Novel or anything, but still a book, which was definitely a big check mark on the to-do list.

I think sometimes the internet gets a bad rap-- that when thinking of online relationships, folks conjure up images of sad little people pecking away in a darkened basement, or predators lurking, waiting to pounce on unsuspecting victims. I'm not naive enough to think those things don't take place, but that's not all there is to the great world wide web. My two best Hardcastle friends are in Illinois and Washington, but I've got others in Florida, Texas, Connecticut, New Jersey, Canada, Scotland, Australia, Greece, Hungary . . . the list goes on. That's the good side of online relationships. We're all normal people (relatively speaking!); we've got jobs and families and other interests, but the miracle of the internet lets us get to know people we'd otherwise live our lives without, and that can't be a bad thing, even if something as frivolous as a television show brought us together.

Which brings me back to the actor. It was Brian Keith that originally drew me to watch Hardcastle and McCormick. I'd grown up with him in those famous roles of his, seen him in other movies and on TV, and always enjoyed his work. So when he began a new series way back in 1983, I just had to watch, and that has led to so very many good things. So, on this sad anniversary of his passing, I am remembering Brian and all the joy his work brought over the years, and I'm thanking him for the friendships that work made possible.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Beginning Again

Several years ago, Yahoo! rolled out their 360 page-- an introduction to social networking sites for me as well as them. One of the things it offered was a blog feature, and I decided to give it a try. In my lifetime, I'd never been very diligent about keeping a "diary" or journal of any kind, so I was skeptical. I was sort of impressed with myself for keeping at it close to six monhts.

Then, just a couple years back, I made another attempt to get back in touch with my inner blogger-- an international trip seemed like the perfect opportunity. But while I was away, things happened here that chased all thoughts of idle chatter from my head, and still the blog sat.

But now Yahoo! is redesigning their site to something new and improved, which will have the end result of deleting the old blog site. Somehow that seemed wrong. Even if I haven't visited with these old posts in a long while, I couldn't quite bring myself to let them just vanish into the ether. So here they are, preserved just a little bit longer. And, maybe the true end result of Yahoo!'s tinkering will be a kick in my pants to get fingers on a keyboard on a semi-regular basis. There's no denying that writing--about anything-- brings with it a certain happy freedom. Also no denying that when I don't write for a really long while, I get decidedly not happy. Maybe this can change all that.

And if you'd like to come along on the ride to happy freedom, I'd be glad to have you.

An Old Friend (Sept. 26, 2007)

Oh, I've been away from here for a long, long time. Those who know me probably know that all my spare time of late has been devoted to the STAR for Brian campaign, ( and most everything else has gone by the wayside.

But now I'm getting ready to take a trip that will take me away from home for a whole month--which sometimes seems like a lifetime-- and I got to thinking about the very real need to stay in touch. I'm going to be on the other side of the world from my loved ones--Manila-- so a regular phone call is going to be difficult to schedule, not to mention costly. And that's what reminded me of my 360 page. Several people have said, "Hey, be sure to send a postcard or drop me an email.", so this seems like a good way to keep several people up to date at once. (And, thankfully, the world wide web really does work all over the world!)

And besides keeping people up to date, I've certainly never been to the Philippines before, and it occurs to me there really might be some interesting things to talk about. I guess we'll find out together.

All About George (June 28, 2006)

A few months ago, my best friend, Kim, brought me a dollar bill. It was just a standard bill, a little rumpled, but pretty typical. Except that it had a stamp on it. Several stamps, really, though they all said pretty much the same thing:

Track this bill at

Well, how intriguing is that?

So, anyway, she hauls this dollar bill around for a while, saving it for the next time she comes to see me. And, of course, as soon as she gives it to me, I have to know what it’s all about.

Turns out there’s a website where you can enter in the serial numbers of all your money, and if someone else has entered it before, you can see where it’s been. And, of course, if someone enters it after you, then you can see where it goes. Now, how cool is that?

Of course, I had to put all my bills into it right away. And I wrote the website on some of them, hoping that as I sent them back out into the world, someone else would be intrigued, too. (Don’t worry; I checked the Treasury regulations about defacing bills, and it turns out the bad stuff is pretty much all about the intent to make a bill useless, so I think I’m in the clear.)

Well, anyway, it was a little bit discouraging. None of my other bills had any “history”; I was the first person to enter them into the database. And, on top of that, this new hobby really made me realize how much of a cashless society we’ve become; I found myself trying to remember to spend actual money. But, still, I really find this whole idea very, very cool.

And, I should digress for just a moment and say that it’s pretty indicative of why Kim and I are friends that she knew I’d think it was cool. Everyone else has just thought it was kind of goofy.

So, why am I telling you this now? Because I just got an email from the site telling me that one of my bills was just re-entered. Yippee! It didn’t go all that far—just to our neighbor state of Texas—but I still think it’s pretty neat. Now I’m connected, however peripherally, to a complete stranger. Very cool, indeed.

Summertime in Oklahoma (June 12, 2006)

Yeah, so it's a couple of weeks before the summer season officially begins. But no matter what it says on the calendar, you can always tell when summer really rolls around. This morning, I heard the weatherman give this forecast:

"The good news is there's a front moving in this afternoon, and that's going to cool things off quite a bit. Expect a high of only about 94 today."

Hah. Well, thank goodness for cool fronts, eh?

Generation Gap (May 10, 2006)

It’s my fault, I’m sure. Somewhere along the line, I’ve failed my son. I’ve wanted him to enjoy all the new-fangled technology this day and age has to offer, but I never wanted him to become jaded to things from a simpler time.

It all started innocently enough, really. We were browsing the bookstore, and he was complaining for at least the hundredth time that there wasn’t anything to read, and I was asking for at least the fiftieth time (because sometimes I just ignore it) what he thought he was looking for. The closest I ever got to an answer was, “Something different; these things are all the same.”

Okay, so we finally found two books that he would settle for. One—whose title I’ve forgotten already—had a red cover with an upside down dog pictured, and a fairly bizarre snippet of a description. He declared that suitably “different”, and thought it might be interesting. The other was A Stranger in a Strange Land, which he only took grudgingly, and told me flat out he’d probably never read. We’ll see about that.

So, are you wondering yet how this all gets back to him being jaded by today’s wizardry?

Well, as we continued our day’s errands, I continued the conversation, trying to determine how we could spend an hour and a half in a bookstore and he could find little or nothing of interest.

“So,” says I, “what is it about the books you’ve enjoyed that made them different?” He’s fourteen, so, of course the answer was, “I dunno.” But I didn’t give up.

Since I’d heard at least ten times that day that Dan Brown should write more books, I said, “So what is it about The Da Vinci Code that’s so spectacular?” To which all I got was, “It’s not the same as everything else; it’s completely different.”

“But what’s it about?” I insisted. “I mean, down deep, isn’t it just a regular old mystery/adventure?” (I haven’t yet succumbed to the hoo-ha surrounding this book, though the kid keeps telling me I should read it.)

“Well . . . yeah, but it’s different. For one thing, the guy isn’t a cop or anything.”

Ah. Now we were getting somewhere. When I probed just a little bit more, I was finally told that the main character was just a regular guy—a college professor, no less—who goes out in search of the Holy Grail.

I cracked up. “That’s not totally different,” I told him, “that’s Indiana Jones!”

“Nuh-uh,” he protested, but, having never seen the epic saga of Dr. Jones and his compatriots, he was really in no position to make much of an argument.

So, I declared to him that Raiders of the Lost Ark was one of the best movies of all time, and, even though that wasn’t the adventure where Indy went looking for the Grail, we should watch it. The kid actually rather likes Harrison Ford, so it wasn’t a difficult sell.

But, that’s where the real problem began.

Later that night, while I was reveling in one of my favorite movies ever, he was painstakingly telling me how cheesy the special effects were, how fundamentally different Indy is from Dan Brown’s protagonist, and why the film would probably be a flop if it were released today.

Now how did that happen? How is it that when all I wanted to do was expose him to the wonders of the internet and iPod, that I somehow turned him against something so fundamentally pure as a classic Steven Spielberg romp? Not that I shouldn’t have seen it coming, I suppose. He’s never liked Jaws, either, and he’s always believed that the last six Star Wars films were better than the first three.

Clearly I have my work cut out for me.

What's Playing (April 27, 2006)

I think I've probably mentioned before how much I enjoy music. I like to have the radio on all the time, and while I definitely have my preferences for musical genres, there are all sorts of songs that jump up and strike my fancy.

Usually, I’m drawn first to the lyrics; I like a song that has a story to tell or a point to make. But every once in a while, the words aren’t the first thing to jump out at me. Sometimes, a song is just a pleasing little ditty to hear on the morning drive, even if it takes me a while to figure out what the heck they’re saying. There’s a song out now that fits into that category.

“Bad Day”, by Daniel Powter, has made its way onto my list of favorites. I get a warm fuzzy feeling whenever I hear it on the radio, and it puts a little smile on my face, which I think is maybe what music should be all about.

If you'd like to watch the video (which is cute, by the way; matches the rhythm perfectly), just click here:

But, I was having a hard time with the words, so, if you’re like me, and you like to actually know what’s being said when you’re listening along, here are the lyrics:

Where is the moment we needed the most
You kick up the leaves and the magic is lost
They tell me your blue skies fade to grey
They tell me your passion's gone away
And I don't need no carryin' on

You stand in the line just to hit a new low
You're faking a smile with the coffee to go
You tell me your life's been way off line
You're falling to pieces everytime
And I don't need no carryin' on

Cause you had a bad day
You're taking one down
You sing a sad song just to turn it around
You say you don't know
You tell me don't lie
You work at a smile and you go for a ride
You had a bad day
The camera don't lie
You're coming back down and you really don't mind
You had a bad day
You had a bad day

Well you need a blue sky holiday
The point is they laugh at what you say
And I don't need no carryin' on

You had a bad day
You're taking one down
You sing a sad song just to turn it around
You say you don't know
You tell me don't lie
You work at a smile and you go for a ride
You had a bad day
The camera don't lie
You're coming back down and you really don't mind
You had a bad day

(Oh.. Holiday..)

Sometimes the system goes on the blink
And the whole thing turns out wrong
You might not make it back and you know
That you could be well oh that strong
And I'm not wrong

So where is the passion when you need it the most
Oh you and I
You kick up the leaves and the magic is lost

Cause you had a bad day
You're taking one down
You sing a sad song just to turn it around
You say you don't know
You tell me don't lie
You work at a smile and you go for a ride
You had a bad day
You've seen what you like
And how does it feel for one more time
You had a bad day
You had a bad day

Had a bad day
Had a bad day
Had a bad day
Had a bad day
Had a bad day

Catchy little thing, isn’t it?

It's not like on TV (April 14, 2006)

Sometimes it seems there just aren't enough happy endings.

Wednesday, our local news reported that a teenage girl had been kidnapped in Kansas, and was perhaps being brought south into our state, so everyone should be on the lookout. As it turns out, she returned home safely, and then the story seemed to be why Oklahoma didn't issue an Amber alert. But by Thursday, the girl had admitted the whole thing was a hoax. And really, that's better than a child having been held against her will, but then you have to wonder what kind of turmoil is going on in her life that faking a kidnappping seemed like a good idea at the time.

But, unfortunately, that story became old news quickly here in OK when Thursday evening we did issue an Amber alert for a local ten year old who was missing and believed kidnapped. Sadly, for whatever reason, the girl was believed to have been a runaway for more than 24 hours, so the widespread notification was going out horribly late.

So, you spend your commute time looking for the described vehicle and reading the flashing highway signs to see if there are any updates, and hoping to God that the worst thing that happens is that it turns out to be another hoax.

But, the small town police chief just held his press conference and reported that the child's body has been found. They do have a suspect in custody, and they're still "early in the investigation", but it seems that what little information they gathered yesterday for the Amber alert actually turned out to be unrelated, so they don't have a single idea why this little girl had to die.

And I don't know why we can't get just a few more happy endings.

Buy me some peanuts (April 7, 2006)

Well, it’s that time of year again. The smell of freshly cut grass, the sound of the vendors hawking their peanuts and beer, the bright white of newly laid chalk lines, and the unmistakable cry of, “Play Ball!”

For my friend, Owl, baseball season puts her in some sort of state of Nirvana, or something. Which is good, really, because everyone should have a passion. For myself, it’s not quite that remarkable, though I have to say that there’s nothing quite like a balmy spring evening at the ballpark. Which, here in Oklahoma, is to say that there is—quite literally—nothing like it. Allow me to explain.

Our local AAA team has their home-stand opener this weekend. Yesterday was opening day, and it blew in with dry, warm winds that filled the air with Oklahoma red dirt, not to mention the haze of smoke from all the surrounding wildfires. Of course, the planned fireworks display was cancelled. I was congratulating myself on my foresight in not purchasing tickets for that day, but rather waiting for the Friday night game instead.

Things were looking pretty good this morning, too, but the cold front blew in about four hours before game time, and a short rainstorm about an hour later. It was maybe fifty-five degrees or so at first pitch, but still windy and overcast, so it felt much colder. By the time the fourth inning forecast rolled around on the big screen, it would be dropping down to forty before the game was over, with wind about 25-30 mps, and gusts around 50 mph. Oh, and they were predicting more rain. And, of course, tonight’s fireworks were cancelled, too.

As it turned out, the rain held out until the bottom of the fifth; we made it until the top of the eighth. Personally, I would’ve stayed for the last out, but my husband and son had been ready to go since about the second inning. So, since our hometown boys had finally managed to put together enough consecutive plays to first tie the game, then actually take the lead by four, I gave in and we headed out.

So, why, you might be asking yourself, would I subject myself and my family to such a miserably uncomfortable evening for something that I’m not even particularly “passionate” about? Well, I’m not sure I can explain it really, but maybe it’s because there is a something extremely cool about that moment when you’ve just gone through the gates, and threaded your way through the crowd on the concourse, and you get that first glimpse of the field before you. It’s kind of magical, really, and I think that every time.

Or maybe because, even though I have often lamented the fact that we don’t have a local Major League team, the beauty of the minors is that you can let the family sit in the decent seats without breaking the bank. It’s nice to be able to sit close enough that you can hear the players out there muttering to each other, even if what they’re muttering about is the stinking weather.

Or maybe it’s the roller coaster of watching your boys give up the first run, and then the second, and the third, and just when you’re trying to work yourself up into “Oh, well, it’s only a game”, they break out and they’re clawing their way back on top and you’re cheering them to victory.

I think it’s all of that, plus hot dogs and Cracker Jacks.

And tonight, after we had moved up onto the concourse to get out of the rain, I was sitting alone (husband and son had gone to seek warmth around a propane heater), and our mascot, Rowdy, came and sat down with me for a while. We clapped for the home team, and he was there when we tied it up, so we got to dance and cheer together. Where else are you going to get to celebrate anything with a giant red bird?

Really, it’s not hard to see why this is the American pastime; it’s great fun. It’s simple, and pure, and even in the cold and rain, it’s got hot dogs and silliness. What more could you want? So, come on; everyone join in:

Take me out to the ballgame; take me out with the crowd . . .

In Search of a Medical Miracle (March 26, 2006)

I need a cure for 14.

Not for my son; I figure he’ll grow out of it. For myself, though, I begin to have serious doubts of survival without some sort of intervention!

Carpe Diem (March 10, 2006)

A call came into our office today that made me stop for just a moment and think. The caller was the surviving relative of a gentleman who passed away the same day he had activated his account with us, and she just needed to finalize everything. If that doesn’t make you stop to contemplate the whims of fate, I’m not sure anything would. I mean, here’s this guy, just going about his business. He’s got a family, friends, a job, all the normal stuff; he’s just living his life. He went to a store and bought a cell phone, for crying out loud.

And then, in the blink of an eye, there’s an accident, and it’s all over. His family and friends are mourning; whatever career aspirations he had are done; and someone is left to call and cancel the cell phone.

Those are the moments when you’re suddenly grateful, the moments when you realize maybe you should be nicer to the folks you know, tell your family you love them more often, do the things that bring you joy. Time is fleeting, and we should enjoy it while we can. Someone could be canceling my cell phone tomorrow; I’d at least like them to know I got to use it first.

Dance of the Couch Potato (March 2, 2006)

So, here’s a secret: I’m a couch potato. I mean, seriously. A card-carrying, flag-waving couch potato. Give me a book to read, a program to watch, a website to browse, a fic to write, whatever. I’ll be happy. But try to put me into some kind of physical activity, not so much. I’m not athletically inclined, both because of ability and interest. So, all this combines into the fact that it’s hard for me to find some kind of exercise that I enjoy.

The one exception to this has always been the fact that nothing makes my heart pump—and my feet move—like music. Put me alone in a room with the stereo cranked up, and there will be some serious working out going on. But you notice I said “alone in a room”. I don’t want to be intimidated by others being around when I’m working up a sweat. I could’ve been really interested in the aerobics classes that became such a rage back in my youth, if it weren’t for all the people there. Really, they had everything: decent music, enough room to move around, and someone to guide you through a few steps so you didn’t end up looking like someone having a seizure. It could’ve been great. I might’ve even gotten over the idea of the people, if only all the people in the classes weren’t the perpetually cheery Barbie types who had mostly been fortunate enough to be born that way and really didn’t need to work out at all. I’ve always thought that gyms should have classes just for us fat people. But, I digress.

Anyway, the organized classes didn’t work out, so I got myself one of those miniature exercise trampolines. Really, with that thing and the Footloose soundtrack, a person could really get in shape. Then, later on, it was Richard Simmons and Sweatin’ to the Oldies. That was great. But all these things get monotonous after a while.

A few years ago, though, I discovered a great thing: they have dancing machines. They play music, and they show you arrows so you know which way to move your feet, and all you have to do is follow along. But, there is a problem with these wondrous contraptions: the only place I’ve ever seen them is in arcades. So, not only are they surrounded by people, they’re surrounded by young people who surely would only laugh and point when the old lady tried to get on and bust a move.

But more recently, I discovered that there are home versions that connect to video game consoles and play on your television. Well, what could be better? I put it off for quite a while, but a couple of weeks ago, I finally broke down and bought one. I mean, what the heck? My son had a game system he wasn’t using anymore, and I had at least one extra set of connection ports in my television; it seemed pre-ordained.

So now, whenever I get the house to myself, I power it up, pull out the dance mat (and the microphone, as this one has the added bonus of being a karaoke game, as well), and I go to town. Some of the music isn’t exactly up my alley, but enough of it is that I can find something to use. And, I have to keep the dance difficulty set on only the second level so far, but I’m getting better, and I hardly ever completely miss the arrows anymore. I mean, it’s not exactly Fred and Ginger—heck, it’s not Fred and Ethel—but it sure is a lot of fun. But, shh. That has to be our secret. I wouldn’t want to give up my couch potato card.

The Simple Things (Feb. 26, 2006)

You know, sometimes it’s easy to spend a lot of time focusing on the negative stuff in life. I mean, really, there’s just a lot of . . . well, crap that goes on from day to day. But, on the other hand, there’s also an awful lot of good stuff, too, and, every once in a while, it can’t hurt to think about that. Here are just a few recent examples . . .

Today, we visited our local library system’s annual book sale. It’s a huge thing, held at one of the state fairground buildings; hundreds of thousands of books, all laid out for browsing. And the best part? Cheap prices that are easy to keep track of: paperbacks for fifty cents, hardbacks a dollar. And, if you’re in the mood for a grab bag, you can get a whole box of books for five bucks. So, we browsed around for a while, picking up the odds and ends that would strike our fancy, and—of course—one grab bag. We got home with a grand total of fifty-eight books (at least fifty of which are hardbacks) for the ridiculous sum of $24.50. How much fun is that?

A couple of weeks ago, the first season of Hardcastle and McCormick—one of my favorite television shows ever—was released on DVD. Oh the joy of crystal clear video and a nicely restored audio track, even if it is mono. And, rumor has it that the other two seasons will be released before year’s end. Very cool.

While browsing the net the other day, I ran across an uplifting story about a high school kid in New York who got to have a very special moment. My friend, Owl, says it’s just proof of the existence of God, and she may be right about that. Click here to decide for yourself.

Next week, my best friend, Kim, and I are going to have a girl’s night out. We’re gonna go see Rascal Flatts in concert, probably have some really excellent Mexican food, and all in all just have a good time. And how great is it that the concert coincides with the date of our anniversary? We’ve been friends now for . . . um . . . she might have to help me out here. Twenty-three years? Maybe it’s twenty-four. (Sorry, Kim.) Either way, it’s a relationship that pre-dates our current jobs, our kids, even our significant others. When people talk about the type of bedrock relationships that see you through life, this is what they’re talking about.

Yesterday I worked my last regularly scheduled Saturday for at least a few months, hopefully longer than that. There’s just something about working on the weekends, when my husband and son are home, that really bothers me, so I’m glad to be getting a break from it for at least a while. And, to make it even better, when I left for work yesterday morning, there was a herd of deer on my front lawn. Well, okay, not really a herd, but there were four of them, and there’s just something sort of cool about seeing wild animals out in the darkness of your own front yard.

So, those are the things that are making me smile today, and that’s really only the tip of the iceberg. I’ve got a lot of good stuff going on, and it really just never hurts to stop and remember that from time to time.

Virtual Life (Feb. 16, 2006)

Maybe it’s my age, but I’m still regularly astounded by the internet. My kid takes it all for granted, but that’s because he’s never had to spend hour after hour in a dark library digging up some obscure reference for something or another. Gosh, the information and ideas that are readily available at the touch of a button are just amazing.

More amazing to me, though, is the idea of the people at the other end of the cyber-line. You know, there are folks I consider friends that I’ve never even seen, never heard. It’s quite possible that we could pass in a crowded airport and never know each other. (Except that I am a pretty big believer in that intangible something that might make us pause and say, “Have we met?” But I digress.) Anyway, I consider that a true miracle of technology, bringing complete strangers together and giving them a forum from which to build a relationship from nothing but a single common bond. Again, my kid seems to think that’s all pretty commonplace. He’s never amazed if I’m sitting here in Oklahoma, exchanging messages with someone in Chicago or Australia or Washington; he is amazed that there are people anywhere who share my interests.

But, as amazing to me as it is that people can find enough common ground in the ether to become friends, it is more amazing to me that some folks can find so little common ground that they somehow become almost enemies. I mean seriously, can you really form a valid enough opinion of someone you’ve never met to work up true animosity? I don’t know how. An annoyance? Sure. An irritation? Absolutely. But, jeez, something brought you to the same place to begin with; there is a tiny piece of commonality somewhere. You’d think that alone would be enough to maintain a relationship that consists of nothing more than pixels on a screen. But, that just doesn’t always seem to be the case, and it is truly amazing to me.

So, to my virtual friends: thank you. And to any virtual enemies: I wish that it were different. And to virtual strangers: heck, what’re you waiting for? Drop a line and say hello. The results might be amazing.

Finally the weekend, and things are looking up (Feb. 11, 2006)

First, I should clarify that my current work schedule includes split days off, so “weekend” for me typically begins Saturday evening around six, and ends abruptly around four-thirty or five Monday morning when I drag myself out of bed to do it all again. But, I took half a day off today so that I could drop in on my nephew’s seventh birthday party, (the kid one) then later this evening, the family all got together and went to dinner to celebrate in a more grown-up fashion.

You know, sometimes life just gets into a mind-numbing routine, nothing more than a grind, and you can really start to feel beat down by the everyday annoyances. I’ve been there for a week or so now, just in a funk. But, there is very little that’s better for re-centering than an evening with family at the local casual dining establishment, laughing over the stupidest things, probably making far too much noise, and watching a child happily putting together his newest Lego creation.

So, the weekend is now in full swing. I’ve got just over twenty-four hours of freedom. I might sleep in just a bit tomorrow, we’re planning a visit to Borders, maybe I’ll manage to get some writing done, and, I’m anxiously counting down the days until the release of Season One of Hardcastle and McCormick on DVD. (the 14th, for those who don’t know). So, yeah, everything definitely looks better on the weekend. I’m gonna enjoy it while I can.

To Save or Not To Save (Feb. 2, 2006)

A couple of days ago, I thought it was time to clean out my inbox just a little. I never get rid of stuff, because I always think I might need it again. But I decided to give it a try. I didn’t get very far, though. You know how it is, you start glancing through to make sure you don’t really need what you’re about to throw away, and the next thing you know, you’ve used up all your time reading stupid little electronic jokes or something.

So, today I decided to buckle down. I tossed out 1439 messages. Seems like quite a feat to me. But, even with that, I’ve got 1748 remaining. And don’t even get me started on the messages I’ve actually got categorized into separate folders because I know I don’t want to part with those. I tallied them all up, just out of curiosity, and if you include my sent items (because I don’t delete those, either), I have a grand total of just over 6500 messages.

I’m pretty sure there are others who are in similar situations, so it’s not that I’m the only odd one out here. But still, I think it might be some kind of strange manifestation of OCD, or something. I’d ask you to write and assure me that I’m not the only one suffering this bizarre malady, but then I’d just have more messages to store.

A bit of Relief (Jan. 28, 2006)

It’s raining! Seems like such a small thing, one you can easily take for granted. But I think the last rain we saw around here was . . . um . . . Halloween, if I remember correctly. It’s been too long, that’s for sure. So today I will give thanks for a gift from Mother Nature.

Bah. (Jan. 21, 2006)

Sometimes I hate my job. And more importantly, sometimes I hate who I am when I’m there.

Hodge Podge (Jan. 19, 2006)

It’s odd sometimes, the way the mind works. The things we think about on a given day can be so varied, and have so little relationship to each other. Heck, sometimes they don’t even have much relationship to those of us doing the thinking, but it doesn’t stop them from running around our brains. Here are a few things that’ve crossed my thoughts in the past week or so.

  • It’s been unseasonably warm this winter in my part of the world, and very dry all last year. We’re way below normal rainfall amounts, and wildfires have been sprouting up all over the state. Seems sort of ominous somehow, when Nature just keeps doing weird things.

  • And, speaking of Nature, I have a friend whose daughter moved away a few months ago. She wanted to find someplace with a nicer climate and no tornados, which makes sense. The odd part is that she chose Portland, where it has apparently rained for the past 38 days, and they routinely deal with the threat of tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanic eruption.

  • It seems Brad didn’t really call Jennifer to tell her that Angelina was pregnant before the news was released to the media. My God, what is this world coming to?

  • The compressor on our heat pump went out last week. Unseasonable weather or not, we still have to have heat, so the guy’s coming to replace the unit. I wish it could’ve waited until I had my holiday bills all paid.

  • Another friend of mine went to the doctor last week and got some potentially scary news. We’re all just waiting for a final answer, but he’s in my thoughts and prayers.

  • A man in California just had a car returned to him that was stolen back in 1969. Without doubt, this is very cool, but does he have to repay the insurance company now?

  • I’ve played Powerball twice now in my home state, and I haven’t hit the jackpot yet. What’s up with that?

Well, that’s enough of that. And if you’ve read all this and are now wondering just what the point was, don’t forget that I started out warning you that it was odd.

Music and Memories (Jan. 5, 2006)

So, I’m driving along yesterday, radio on, of course, when I realize I’m singing and bopping along to—of all things—Karma Chameleon.

Karma Chameleon? What the heck? Talk about your blast from the past. Gosh, that seems like a lifetime ago. I hadn’t even met my husband yet, and we were going to have to roll into a whole new decade before my son would be born. Oh, yeah, definitely a lifetime ago.

But wasn’t life simpler then, when it seemed you could tell an awful lot about a person just by how they felt about Boy George? And, oddly enough, it seems I like the guy’s music more now than I did back then. It must be that haze of nostalgia that makes everything seem better than it really was. But it brought a smile to my face to hear it, and what more could you ask of a song, anyway?
Sometimes I think a little stroll down memory lane can be good for the soul. If you want to listen yourself, and see if the nostalgic haze helps for you, too, click here:

New Beginnings (Jan. 1, 2006)

Maybe it’s just the cock-eyed optimist in me, but don’t all things seem possible at 12:01 am, January 1st?

Not a creature was stirring (Dec. 25, 2005)

There’s always a moment—though I usually have to be up really late or really early to find it—when everything is calm. The presents are wrapped; the garland is strung; the vacuum has been run. There’s nothing more that can be done to prepare, at least until it’s time to put the turkey in the oven.

And in that moment, the only light in the room is coming from the Christmas tree; the only sound is a soft carol on the radio (currently, Perry Como and “Do You Hear What I Hear?”), and the only worry is that maybe I should be using this time to sleep. But I always decide that sleep can wait, because at that moment I know that all the hustle and bustle was worth it, and everything’s going to be great. Really, life doesn’t get much better than this.

Last Minute (Dec., 24, 2005)

Why is it, despite all my best intentions and attempts at planning ahead, that I invariably have things to do on Christmas Eve?

I love it when a plan comes together. (Dec., 23, 2005)

I did my holiday shopping almost entirely online this year. It was very convenient. Of course, it did make browsing for the right gift a bit more of a challenge, but it was mostly okay. And, just today, on my front porch when I returned from the grocery store, was the very last item that I needed to wrap and place under my tree. Cutting it a little close? Well, yeah, and I was getting a bit worried. But all those little elves at retail and shipping establishments everywhere are working overtime right about now, and they got it done. I really do love it when a plan comes together.

Whoo-hoo! (Dec. 19, 2005)

Well, here’s something completely goofy: I’m having a moment of personal celebration, so I’m shouting it out. But, I’m not gonna say what it is I’m celebrating, because . . . well, because it’s sort of personal. And, because it would make something that’s really sort of important to me seem demeaned to less than it really is. And because you’d all probably think I was crazy, anyway.

Curious? Well, still can’t tell ya.

But, it’s not quite as secretive as, “If I told you, I’d have to kill you”, so don’t get too worked up. It’s more in keeping with, “If you say it out loud, it won’t come true”. See? So I really can’t say, else I might not get to have any more moments of celebration, and we wouldn’t want that.
But, I’m sure many of you contributed to this moment without even knowing it, so I thank you for that. And, for the one person who probably does know what I’m talking about, I’ll add that I made it with just over ten minutes to spare.


A Fan's Loss (Dec. 17, 2005)

I’m a TV-aholic; I’ll be the first to admit it. When a program is good (and sometimes, even if it’s not, but just really strikes my fancy for some reason), I’ll be a loyal viewer forever. I’m one of those people who will ponder why characters do what they do, cry when things go bad for them, and clap happily when things go well. I just really love television.

Then there is the cast. I am not one of those people who has trouble distinguishing the actor from the character. But, when there is a show or character that I really connect with, then those performers become somewhat important to me. They begin to feel like far distant relatives, or something. Maybe like someone you’ve been introduced to once at a family reunion years ago. You don’t know them, but they sure seemed like a decent enough person, and you certainly wish them well. And, when the word comes back through the family grapevine at some point that the distant relative has passed away, you feel a moment of sadness. It can’t really quite be described as grief, because you don’t have any true connection to them or their lives. But, still, you can’t help but feel that something has been lost.

This is how I’m feeling today. John Spencer, one of the talented stars of The West Wing, has passed away. I’ve been watching that show since it premiered six or seven years ago, and I was hooked from day one. And John Spencer was one of the few cast members I was familiar with already, since I was also a big LA Law fan back in the day. But, intelligent writing and a strong ensemble cast have kept me tuning in week after week, and he was a major part of that.

As a person, I offer my condolences to Mr. Spencer’s family and friends, for they are the ones who will truly have to cope with this unexpected tragedy. As a fan, I have to wonder how the show will deal with his loss. And, in both cases, I can’t help but feel that something has been lost.

On the other hand . . .(Dec. 14, 2005)

When I took the DVDs back to Wal-Mart today (because I found them cheaper elsewhere), they didn’t ask a single question. Wham, bam, thank you, ma’am; here’s your sixty bucks. You gotta love that sort of service, even from a place that shanghais me into spending far too much to begin with.

What is it with Wal-Mart? (Dec. 13, 2005)

Really, what kind of hold do these super centers have over people? Or at least, what hold do they have over me? I went in there today needing only some blank DVDs and a few trinkets for my son’s stocking. So how is it that I walked out with $300 worth of stuff? Now, granted, that was a cart full of things, but my DVDs were only $60 and the stocking stuffers were maybe $20, so that’s over two hundred dollars worth of impulse shopping. How does that happen? Even if it was a lot of stuff—and a lot of gifts, I might add—that still seems a bit crazy, even to me. I’m pretty sure that there’s some kind of subliminal, hypnotic type message that plays from their PA system continually, and that they really crank up the dosage during the holidays. That’s really the only thing that explains it, don’t you think?

Me and My Avatar (Dec. 11, 2005)

So, my friend, LML, once commented on the way we come to mentally identify with our avatars. I laughed, because I could relate to the truth of that statement. I mean, I spent precious time choosing just the right look when I created mine. She’s a little bit idyllic—she needs to gain at least fifty pounds, and she’s currently standing in front of more snow than I’ve ever seen (and I mean cumulatively, by the way)—but even so, it’s still me.

I hadn’t realized how much I’d come to identify with her until today, though. And what prompted that realization? I got a haircut yesterday. And, you guessed it: today, when I saw my avatar, she got a change, as well. I think I’m glad I don’t intend to have any more children. I’d hate to be the one who had to start lobbying Yahoo for a pregnant avatar.

Oh, the Possibilities (Dec. 9, 2005)

I love bookstores. Seriously; is there any other place simply brimming with such a variety of ideas? Well, maybe a library, and they’re good, too, but the whole feel is different. Maybe it’s the idea that you could actually own some of these ideas, instead of just borrowing them for a while. Or, maybe it’s because spending money can be so much fun; that’s probably closer to the truth.

Anyway, I stepped in to a Borders store yesterday. My sister works there, and I was dropping her off from lunch. I didn’t particularly have anything I definitely intended to buy, and certainly nothing I needed. But I was still there an hour later, with a couple of things in my hands—holiday gift finds, what joy! And, twenty minutes or so after that, I realized there wasn’t really time to get all the way home and then back to the school to pick up my son, so I figured I might as well browse a little more just to kill the time. And, oh, the things I saw.

Dr. Phil has another bestseller; no surprise there, I suppose. And, it appears I am woefully out of touch with the current Sudoku craze, but there must have been at least a dozen books, and a dedicated end cap. There was an intriguing title called A Short History of Nearly Everything. Oh, and there was this book, five hundred pages if it was one, containing nothing but names. Names of every origin you could imagine. It was a reference for writers to help choose character names. Wow.

So, when it was finally time to leave, two hours after I walked in needing nothing, I had maybe six things in my hands, and a whole list of things to look into more closely next time around. Of course, I’m proud of myself; the things I bought were gifts. Well, except maybe for this one collection of short stories that sounds pretty interesting; it might end up being a present to myself. I’d never heard of it until yesterday; I found it in my browsing, but sometimes the best things come to your attention unexpectedly. That’s what I love about bookstores.

Milestone (Nov. 27, 2005)

My son shaved today for the first time. I think it was more momentous for me than him. Though I was the one who pointed out to him that fourteen is probably a bit too young for facial hair, it seems to me it’s also a bit too young to be growing up. I swear, it was just yesterday that the only mustache he had to worry about was puréed bananas. Where does the time go?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Bedlam! (Nov. 26, 2005)

I live in a college town; been here almost my whole life. And, it’s a school that has the good fortune to have a pretty decent football team. You know what that means: Saturdays in the fall, nothing is more important than how the team is doing. Home games multiply the frenzy, and, nothing tops the hoopla every other year when we host the big in-state rival.
This is the year it’s a home game for us, though the talk seems to have been toned down just a bit this year. That’s driven by a few factors, no doubt. First, it’s a “rebuilding” year for us, which means we’ve not had our normal success. Then, of course, it’s the holiday week, so folks have had other things to occupy their time. And, last but not least, we lost a real squeaker of a game last week, and we lost it on a call that—after finding the right camera angle—the entire sporting world seems to agree was absolutely incorrect. Oh, well; that’s the way the cookie crumbles sometimes, and it wasn’t gonna make much of a difference anyway. It’s not like we’re going to the national championship this year. Heck, we’re not making it to the conference championship game.

But, still, it is Bedlam, and they are the home team, so my thoughts are with them today. And besides hometown loyalty, well, have I mentioned that husband and son are in attendance for this afternoon’s game? Dinnertime will be much more enjoyable if we come out with one more number in the W column. So, wish me luck. Bragging rights and domestic tranquility are at stake.

Oh, and by the way, go, Sooners!

So Many Things (Nov. 24, 2005)

I love Thanksgiving. Family and friends gathering to talk, laugh, eat, play games, eat some more. You know how it is. And, of course, it signals the official start of the “holiday season”, which is always exciting.

Mostly, though, I like any day that has a built in excuse for reflecting on the good things in life. Seriously, we tend to get caught up in all the negative stuff; seems like that’s all we ever talk about, and it’s nice to have a day every now and again where it doesn’t seem too corny just to stop and say, “I’ve got an awful lot going for me.”

So, here’s my mental list for 2005, though it certainly isn’t all-inclusive. It’s reaffirming, somehow, to take a bit of time to give thanks, and I hope you’ll take a few minutes to think through your own list, too.

  • My family (every last, goofy one of them)

  • My friends (ditto)

  • The patience of friendship (because there are folks I don’t talk to nearly enough; but I love you, Kim and Tanya)

  • Health

  • A nice place to live

  • Food to eat, today and every day

  • My job (hard to believe, but it has its moments, and something has to pay for life)

  • Music

  • Memories (because there are family and friends no longer with us)

  • Star Trek (yeah, TV, I know, but seriously; have you ever really watched it? There’s a lot to learn.)

  • The dark of night with about a million stars shining above

  • Writing (when I do it, it keeps me sane; when someone else does it, I get something to read)

  • The redwood forest (because it is a beauty that makes you feel absolutely connected to the world and yet totally insignificant all at the same time)

  • The internet (no, really, it’s amazing. Besides, without it, I wouldn’t have some of those friends I mentioned at the top of the list)

  • Laughter, especially from my son

  • Today

I should be sleeping (Nov. 23, 2005)

Today was the day I was supposed to get to sleep in. I’m not working, and I don’t have to take the kid to school; oh, happy day. So why was I awake at 5:15 this morning? Probably because my dear husband is not so fortunate, and was up getting ready for work, and some combination of tooth brushing and closet searching sank into my brain. But, I dozed; didn’t really wake up for another half an hour, but then that was it.

I argued with myself for ruining my carefully planned relaxation; lay there for a while, wanting to sleep. Finally got up and took a nice hot shower, then laid down again. I thought the cool, wet hair together with a nice warm comforter was the perfect sleep combination. Hah.
Probably, my body is trying to point out what my brain would like to put off for a while: I’ve got some things to do today. Primarily, house cleaning. There will be visitors tomorrow. Oh, and I need to make some cookies. (Don’t get too worked up, just slice and bake. Martha Stewart I am not.) I'm supposed to pick up some pies. Gotta check the cameras and make sure the batteries are fresh and the memory sticks are empty. And I bought a new graphics card that my son has been badgering me to install, so that’s penciled in, too.

And, yet, here I am, doing none of that. I’ve checked my email, and browsed the news headlines on Yahoo. And, when I finish this, I think I’ll do some beta-work for a couple of folks. I know, none of that is really on my to-do list today. But, hey, according to my plan, I was going to be asleep for another few hours, anyway.

1000 Words of Truth (Nov. 19, 2005)

Unfortunately, this particular post is not complete. The accompanying photos have been misplaced somewhere by the hands of time, but I still wanted to archive the text.

So, I was uploading some pictures today from last year’s Trek Expo, and fooling around with the editing tools on my computer to try and turn the photos into something more than floating heads. (If you’ve never been to a con, let me tell you that there appears to be some type of concerted effort to prevent fans from getting decent pictures. Dim lighting, dark backgrounds, and dark clothing all conspire to make the photos less than perfect.)

Anyway, as I’m trying to get something close to okay, I’m reminded of the idea that “the camera doesn’t lie”. Now, folks much more clever than I have written many essays pointing out the inherent fallacy in that statement, mostly having to do with differences in choices different photographers would make while shooting the same object. Okay.

But, the thing is, when we talk about the “camera”, we’re actually talking about their end result, the “picture”. And in today’s digital age, heck, just about anybody could manipulate the end result. Look at these pictures and tell me; who was really on stage? who was to the left of whom? and just how blue were those clothes, anyway?

Just something to keep in mind the next time we’re persuaded to accept something as “true” just because we saw a picture.

Well, I meant it at the Time (Nov. 14, 2005)

When I was younger, I made a promise to myself: I would never become one of those “old folks” who launched into diatribes of varying topics but that always began, “Why, back in my day”, and ended, “What is this world coming to?” No doubt, this promise has been made for countless generations past, and will be made for countless more to come.

But I had cause to think of that just this morning when I made a brief trip into town and saw Christmas wreaths hanging on the light poles on Main Street. Now, before you start checking your calendar, let me assure you that you didn’t misunderstand. There are Christmas decorations hanging in my hometown. And, I’m certain the city workers didn’t put them up yesterday, being Sunday and all. And Saturday, we had a home football game, and nothing interrupts the flow of traffic on those days. And back one day further, Friday was Veteran’s Day, so it’s unlikely they were hung that day, either. So, logically, that means those wreaths have been hanging since Thursday, November 10th, at the latest.

Now, I love holiday decorations as much as the next person, maybe even more than many. But it used to be that you had to wait until after Thanksgiving before you got to see them hanging around town. That’s always seemed pretty reasonable to me. Let’s at least deal with the major holidays in the order they appear on the calendar, with no skipping ahead.

I guess I should’ve seen it coming. I mean, I was in Wal-Mart last month, shopping for Halloween tidbits, and just one aisle over from the fake blood and scar tissue was the row of stockings and tree tinsel. I tried not to make too much out of it then; I mean, these are retailers, after all. It’s their job to push the envelope of marketing as far as it will go. But now my local government is in on this travesty, too, and I am appalled.

Not that we couldn’t all use a little extra time of Peace on Earth, and all the meanings of the holiday season, but I’m talking about the completely secular festivity of it all. That’s the part that’s only fun because it’s unusual, because it doesn’t happen every day. It’s something to look forward to and be treasured. How special can it be if it’s in our faces for 60 days out of the year? And, yes, I know, it’s been creeping up, getting a little earlier each and every year. But at this rate, it won’t be long until we’re bringing down the flags from Labor Day and immediately replacing them with those darned wreaths. And my future grandkids are likely to believe that the holiday season begins just after watching the last burst of the local fireworks display, which seems unfair, somehow.

So, yeah, back in my day, we only had a month of Christmas decorations, but it was a month filled with joy and wonder, because we wanted to hang on to every fleeting moment of it all. Now those moments aren’t so fleeting anymore, but they’re also beginning to lose some of their joy. And, I can’t help but wonder, what is this world coming to?

So it Begins (Nov. 10, 2005)

So, I’ve been playing around with creating this page here on Yahoo! Just goofing, really, no point to any of it. But, at the top, there’s a mostly blank space that only says, “Start a blog”. It’s taunting me, I think. Making a mockery of my indecision. To blog or not to blog, that is the question.

I think back on the few times I’ve tried to keep some kind of diary or journal. And, notice, I did use the word “tried”. I wouldn’t say that those undertakings have been of the successful sort. And why is that, do you suppose? I mean, like most people, I have plenty of thoughts every day; it’s not like I couldn’t write them down. But, upon reflection, I think I never pursued my journals very diligently because of my preconceived ideas of what they should be.

First, I strongly believed that anything labeled “Daily Diary” should have a daily entry, and I will be the first to admit that I am not the most structured person in the world. So, right away, there’s pressure involved. Don’t let the day end without putting something in the diary, for God’s sake. Who knows what might happen if you do.

Secondly, it seemed to me that if you were going to take the time to actually put something in writing—preserve it for posterity—maybe it should be at least a little bit important. And I will also be the first to admit that I live through plenty of days without anything particularly “important” taking place.

But I think maybe that’s where I missed the boat.

It occurs to me now that journals aren’t really for posterity any more than blogs are really for the masses. Sure, a great-great somebody might dig a journal out of an attic years from now, and complete strangers might be browsing the net and stumble upon a blog, but so what? Any type of journal—electronic or otherwise—is about the writer. It’s about taking a moment and saying, “Here’s what I thought about that”. There aren’t any rules. Journal keepers can write what they want, when they want. If they don’t have anything to say today, well, by golly, they don’t have to say anything at all.

And, as for being important…well, maybe I’ve expanded my definition a bit in my old age. Because now it seems to me that if something is clattering around my head with enough gusto to want to come out and be seen, maybe that’s important enough. I mean, it’s the little things that make up a life, right?

So there you have it: my newfound approach to journal keeping in the modern world. I’m the boss. I get to choose what goes in, and when. It’s liberating; no pressure at all. And, best of all, I no longer have to be taunted by the blank spot at the top of the page.