Holiday Reflection

"Charlie Brown" Christmas music is silently playing inside my head while I sit in the living room observing a tree loaded with lights but void of presents, gifts scattered around wing-backed chairs, the dog asleep at my feet, and an icy, wintry mix pelting the window panes.

A melancholy feeling surrounds my soul each Christmas following the unwrapping of gifts and the consumption of Monkey Bread (which is now nothing more than a few crumbs and hardening caramel on the platter).

I'm not sure if this feeling is because anticipation has dissipated or time has eradicated the sense of Christmas direction once present distribution and Christmas morning has passed.

Analyzing doesn't' change things. It's good to know the feeling always fades upon further reflection thanks to holiday magic and the enchantment of family.


Who Knows?

You know you're a writer-wanna-be when you have nearly brilliant ideas flash to the forefront of your brain but no additional intellectual abilities to actually develop those thoughts beyond a single, albeit sagacious, line.

You know you're a writer-wanna-be when, while cleaning off the top of your desk, you find scratch paper with one-liners jotted in bad penmanship and you don't even know if they're your thoughts or ideas gleaned from others' thoughts or works.

"A sense of dread held her heart like unwelcome hands."

"They said the same things over and over until her emotions caught up with her intellect."

"Should we only believe in miracles when it's required? If so, when is that? Christmas miracles are easier to believe in than everyday miracles."

"We do those around us an injustice by assuming they recognize our distress or elation."


I Remember ... in no particular order

I remember when ZIP codes were introduced and having to use them for the first time. I complained about yet another number I had to memorize. I think I was 10.

I remember when you had to step on a mat in front of the department store doors to get the door to "automatically open."

I remember when talking elevators and talking computers were only on the USS Enterprise in the television series, Star Trek.

I remember when you had to wait days and days and days while film was being developed and printed to see whether or not vacation photos were going to be any good. There weren't any LED screens providing instant gratification (except maybe on the Enterprise).

I remember when the local newspaper was delivered by ambitious youngsters instead of by the postal carrier (I remember the label Mailman). The newspaper's value is somehow diminished when pulling it from the mailbox, opening it and having credit card offers, junk mail, and utility bills drop from its fold.

I remember when you actually had to go to a store and buy vinyl records when you wanted to own a copy of your favorite song. I remember paying 75 cents for a 45 and, after purchasing, leaving the store, taking the bus home, going to my bedroom, turning on my record player and then listening to the song (and, of course, its flip side).

On a related note: Not too long ago I had to explain how records "played" -- in a continuous groove which required a stylus to pick up the sound -- and yes, there were "tracks" but you manually had to lift a needle and place it on the record for "track selection."

I remember Christmas 1961 when I received the blond, bubble-hair-cut Barbie with the black and white swim suit -- the only year the bubble cut Barbie was sold with the black and white swim suit. I can find the Barbie, but the swimming suit is missing. So are two of Barbie's fingers.

I remember thinking how stupid it was for adults to sit around the dinner table "remembering" and vowing never to grow so old I would dress like a grandma or waste time just remembering.

There are a lot of things I remember....


Never Enough

No matter how much time we have, it is never enough ... that's true of whether we're discussing work load or relationships. And no matter how desperately I want to write, my brain and my skills fail me, or at least limit me, because there's never enough ... time or skill ... take your pick.


The Garbage Truck

"Aging is not 'lost youth' but a new stage
of opportunity and strength."
Betty Friedan

There is truth in Friedan's statement, but I find a lot of effort is necessary when addressing opportunity, and strength isn't a reservoir easily accessed but a resource which requires some mining. Aging commands a whole new skill set and, at times, I mourn the simplicity of youth.

Yesterday, while sitting in the living room, staring out the north windows after reading the morning paper, I noticed three children walking down the sidewalk on their way to the bus stop. Driving down the street behind them was a garbage truck stopping every now and then to collect the garbage neighbors had set out on the parking.

As the garbage truck stopped at the driveway the children had just crossed, they all stopped, turned, and walked back to the driveway and watched as the newly collected garbage was being tossed into the back of the truck.

Not stepping off the sidewalk and in symphonic unison, they all leaned closer to watch the truck's jaws chew boxes and spent banana peels and black garbage bags in preparation for deposit at the local landfill.

I confess, I couldn't really see the mechanics of the truck's operation, but that's what I envisioned while watching the children in their statuesque pose watching the garbage disappear into the belly of the truck.

The truck drove off, the mesmerizing moment evaporated, and the children continued on their journey to the bus stop.

All because of a garbage truck - a routine vehicle on its weekly rounds participating in an event adults usually ignore.

Youth's fascination with the ordinary - I'd like to bottle it and introduce it to the adult world.


Scholar Envy

Why do certain memories pop up when they do? What triggers that part of the brain to open a door and release an item which has been buried for years? I'm not referring to recall due to trigger devices such as a smell or perusing a photo album, but to memories that appear unexpectedly, apparently without external prompting, totally out of the blue. (But can something truly happen out of the blue? Another query for another day.)

Perhaps I shouldn't be wasting my time pondering this perceived trivial event. But when one wakes up in the middle of the night with a memory which had been formerly buried in the deepest recesses and now appears crystal clear at the forefront of one's brain, as if the event had happened just yesterday instead of decades before, it does cause pause.

Why now? Is there a hidden meaning? Is there a sixth sense phenomenon at play? Should these impromptu memories cause concern or actions or be written off as a result of deep sleep? And yet, doesn't the subconscious actively influence?

If I were a scholar, perhaps I could answer these questions....


Sunday Afternoon

The sun is shining, towels are drying, dishes are done, the dog is sleeping, all televisions are silent, and Allison Krause and Richard Plant are "Singin' the Blues" while the Raising Sand CD spins. Sunday afternoon... and interesting mix of responsibilities and relaxation.

When I was a kid, homework was the primary activitiy of Sundays following Sunday School, Church, and a noon meal at the Amanas or Bishops. Just like clock work, to spew a cliché.

It's interesting to me, seemingly void of effort, how routines evolve. The same events turn over and over Sunday after Sunday while time dictates activities' definitions. It's no longer homework but home work. And it's still difficult to concentrate while the beat goes on...


Facebook Phenomenon

I finally succumbed to the pandemic and created a Facebook page. There wasn't really any pressure unless hearing “shock and awe” in responses of "you don't?" when answering 'no' to questions of whether or not I had a Facebook page would be considered pressure.

Now that I’ve had this networking, community presence for a few days, I have to admit I'm curious as to the fascination of having such a presence. Where is the appeal of having information and comments posted on a wall so friends can find you and post their comments which appear not only on your wall but theirs as well? Why is it so fascinating to research different applications available and then see what it’s really like to utilize them? And what an enormous amount of time dissipates while all this transpires!

It's easy to understand my confusion to this phenomenon. I have described for years the appeal of a hermit lifestyle … expressed the comfort felt while envisioning a cabin in the woods, neighbors miles away, off the beaten path with groceries and necessities delivered to my door (ordered, of course, through the required high-speed Internet connection). And as far as the time element: I barely find time to comment on my blog or those I follow and can only seem to find time twice a year to update personal web pages. And then there’s the computer time associated with my employement.

Still, virtual presence exists even without the cabin in the woods. Maybe it's because of the hermit-like atmosphere while typing away on the computer in my office, all alone, listening to the furnace cycle on and off, sipping a cup of hot tea after placing an online order to replenish office supplies through my high-speed Internet connection.

Maybe it's a desire to find lost friendships that spawns this networking community and the allure it generates. Maybe a desire to recoup lost time plays a role in the psychological addiction. Maybe I wouldn't question the fascination if my "wall friends" included someone other than those with whom I communicate regularly.

It's a mystery...


It's a New Year

Somewhere between January 1, 2008 and now, I lost November and December 2008. I vaguely remember the holidays. I do remember, while smelling a roasting turkey and rummaging through the kitchen drawer in search of the potato masher, wondering what happened to September. By definition, time doesn't stand still and yet when did time's definitions evolve to the point of emulating NASCAR speeds? It still feels like the beginning of November; but I see by looking in the lower right hand corner of my computer screen it is already January 13, 2009 ... nearly half of January escaped my grasp at some point. So, Happy New Year, granted, a bit belated.