Come on, really?

Okay, people, tilt your chin waaayyy back, ’cause I’m up on my soap box!

Picture this… Yesterday I’m in the salon getting ash blonde put on my brown roots when this young woman walks in the front door.  She has a cell phone in one hand, a giant Burrito Beach burrito in the other.

Young woman:  “How much do you charge for extensions?”

Owner of the salon – who happens to be taking a break behind the receptionist’s desk:  “It all depends on what type of extensions you’re looking for.”

She doesn’t hear his response because she’s too busy talking on her cell phone and eating her burrito.  Finally, with a look of complete exasperation, she turns back to the salon owner.

Young woman: “Well?”

Owner: “I’ll wait until you’ve finished with your call.”

Young woman: “I just want to know the cost of extensions.”

Owner: “And it’s a complicated answer.  I’ll wait until you’ve finished with your call.”

Young woman:  “What?  You don’t want my business?”

Owner: “No, ma’am.  I don’t think I do.”

Needless to say, the woman shoots her nose in the air and charges back through the front door, her resounding “Hmph!” and a few of her ruffled feathers the only evidence she’s been there at all.

As I’m cheering, the owner turns to me and, sadly shaking his head, he says, “Now she’ll go on-line and post a review saying how rude I was.”

It struck me then… he’s absolutely right.

That young woman was completely oblivious to the fact that she was the obnoxious one, with her duel conversations and brazenly divided attention.  So, that begs the question:  Have we grown so used to technology, with being able to connect and converse with more than one person in a single instant, that we’ve let it interfere with good, old-fashioned, common courtesy?

Answer:  Yes.  Unfortunately, I think we have.

So, in the name of good, old-fashioned, common courtesy, I’ve compiled Julie’s Eight Commandments of Cell Phone Etiquette.  Drum roll, please… er, burning bush, please…?

1.)  Thou shalt not talk on thy cell phone while engaged in face-to-face conversation. Come on, folks.  It’s all about direct human interaction.  We remember what that is, don’t we?

2.)  Thou shalt not text on thy cell phone while engaged in face-to-face conversation. For validation of this point, refer to commandment number one.

3.)  Thou shalt not talk loudly in public. We all know the conversation you’re having is super important.  No need to broadcast it at 100 decibels.  “Can you hear me now?”  “Yes! But we wish we couldn’t!”

4.)  Thou shalt not talk about personal topics while in public. You know the types I’m talking about.  “Oh, my gawd, girl!  He was, like, all ____!  And I was, like, all _____!”

5.)  Thou shalt put thy ringer on silent/buzz while dining out. There’s nothing worse than enjoying some good food, fine wine, and stimulating conversation with family and friends, only to be interrupted by a loud, tinny-sounding version of the Black-Eyed-Peas … tonight’s gonna be a good night…’cause tonight’s gonna be a good, good night… “Well, it was, but because of your cacophonous ringtone, I’ve lost my train of thought.  Thank you, you giant dill-hole!”

6.)  Thou shalt not check thy phone while in a movie theater. I don’t care if you’re ringer is off.  Lighting up that blasted screen is distracting as H-E-double hockey sticks!

7.)  Thou shalt not text while driving. Statistics prove this is a no-brainer. So that’s all I’ll say (Mishell)…

8.)  Thou shalt be mindful of Facebook tagging. Yes, I know you look fantastic in that photo, but I look like Quasimoto.  So thanks for making sure all my Facebook pals get to see it.

 

Let me know if you agree, disagree, or have more commandments to add…

Is it possible that going to places like the one pictured here will soon be the same as traveling to France to view ancient cave drawings, or flying to Vatican City to see 10th century Roman scrolls?  Are books, in their tangible form, about to pass from our modern lives into the sepia-colored nostalgia of history?

I ask this question because I, an aspiring author, am thinking of doing the outrageous, nay, the unthinkable. I’ve put it off for years.  Religiously, mutinously I’ve stuck to my guns.  “No, no, no!” I’ve ranted at anyone foolish enough to question me on the subject, “I will not stoop to the plebian vulgarity of quenching my thirst for the written word through electronic means!”

Okay, sure, I admit I’m the first in line for a new iPod with its gargantuan storage capacity the likes of which I’ll likely never fill in this lifetime – what am I, a DJ?  Yes, it’s true I covet the newest smart-phone with all its bells and whistles and limitless APPS.  Of course I pestered my husband into buying me the latest VIO laptop with the copious software updates which will, undoubtedly, be démodé by tomorrow morning.  But purchase an e-reader?

Never!  (Imagine my fist raised in righteous indignation.)

Of course never is turning out to be a very long time…

Earlier this week I set out to read Atlas Shrugged in a day.  And that’s exactly what it took me.  A whole day.  21 hours to be exact.  Anyone familiar with the novel will understand why it took me this long and why I was determined to do it in one sitting, but I digress.  Typical of me, eh?  Anyway, so there I was, book the size of a small dining-room table in hand, engrossed in the characters, the prose, the ideas and my wrists really began to hurt from holding the darn thing up at about hour number six.  (Can it!  I’m getting older, but that’s not the reason my wrists were killing me.   Read the above description of the book’s dimensions.)  Not only that, but as a person who can finish an average-sized novel in 3-4 hours, the problem of consuming 3-squares while continuing to read has never really occurred to me.   It did this day, about the fifth time I dropped a forkful of food on a page with nearly microscopic print.  For the first time, to my utter chagrin, I thought, “This would be a lot easier with an e-reader…”

Gasp! (Now imagine me clutching my heart, vigorously shaking my head in dismay.)

How, how,  how can the electronic version of a book ever compare to the real thing?  How can a glaring white screen and impersonal digital words ever measure up to the feel of paper sliding between my fingers or the musky smell of ink lingering on the page?  How can an ugly plastic cover ever replace the beauty of a tooled, leather binding?  I like to dog-ear pages and underline passages, write ideas in the margins…  I can’t do that with an e-reader.

And yet…

And yet it would be so convenient when undertaking a task like Atlas Shrugged. It’d make traveling so easy, and my husband would no longer be tempted to kill me because he can barely stuff my carry-on into the airplane’s overhead bin due to the multitude of books I insist on bringing with me.  It would be so wonderful to be able carry along my entire, extensive library, and so… I’ve surrendered.

And if I, a staunch heretic against electronic books, can succumb, who does that leave to carry on the battle?

Hemingway, Venice (1954)

 

Oh, joy!  Oh, sorrow!  A literary agent is interested in representing my book.

Now the question becomes: Will a once enjoyable hobby simply become a – gasp! – J.O.B.?

I’ve heard it said, when you begin to turn a profit, an avocation ceases to be a pleasure and transforms into… well, work. Of course, I’m putting the cart before the horse, counting my chickens before they’ve hatched, and so forth and so on with as many idioms as you can imagine. Getting an agent by no means guarantees my novel will ever see the mechanical wonder that is a printing press.

But what if it does…?

Imagine me sitting here, biting my nails, giddy with the idea that someone thinks I’m “good enough, smart enough, and dog-gone-it people like me.”  (Thank you, Stuart Smalley.  Personal affirmations work so much better when they’re coming from someone else.)   An then imagine me sitting here, biting my nails, terrified that this is it, that the joy I derived from writing this first novel will somehow morph into anguish and teeth-gnashing and hair-tearing and… and more nail biting as I try to turn something fun into something commercial.

“Sit down at a typewriter and bleed?”  Really?  Is that what’s in store for me?  Oh, god.  Ernie, please say it ain’t so… 

Me, Venice (2007)

Posted by: Julie | June 11, 2010

Until everyone comes home… – USO

“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”  – George Orwell

csa20060908094936customul5.jpg Soldiers image by Google_028

Image by Google_028

I sleep peaceably in my bed at night.  It’s something I’ve taken for granted most of my life.  But over the last few years, I’ve come to comprehend exactly how precious and rare that actually is in this world, how unaccountably lucky I am that my deepest fear in the moments before my head hits the pillow involves that strange statistic pertaining to how many spiders the average person unknowingly swallows during sleep over the span of their lives – seven, really?  And by the by, how the heck did scientists determine that?  What sort of sleep studies were they conducting and, more importantly, where?  Just so you know, I’m envisioning the test cases were living in the wilds of Indonesia or somewhere deep in the Australian bush, because I absolutely refuse to believe that, statistically speaking, I’ve swallowed 3+ spiders already.  But I digress…

My point is: I enjoy a peace and freedom that doesn’t seem to cost me a thing.  (Can-it, you literalists who are rolling your eyes and calculating the individual price of the world’s second largest standing army.  I’m talking about personal sacrifice in the grander sense.)  But since I’ve started volunteering for the USO, it’s become glaringly apparent (in my face in a way it never was before) that there are many Americans who have made that personal sacrifice, who are making that personal sacrifice.

Sitting at my little desk, answering the phone and the questions of those new to the big, bad Windy City, I’ve overheard Vietnam vets swap stories that would turn even the most stalwart of constitutions, telling their tales with a stoicism that humbles me.  But, really, what else can they do?  Staying locked away in their homes and screaming to the walls about the horrors of war just isn’t an option.  Life goes on, after all.  Still, those horrors are indelibly written across their weathered faces, there  in the slightly wounded look that haunts their aging eyes.

I’ve seen a World War II veteran, bent and ravaged by the passing of time, comfort an anxious nineteen year old soldier about to head back for another tour.  He dispensed sage, soldierly advice, “Stay alert,” and gave – just by his mere physical presence – hope to his modern counterpart.  Because in that veteran’s cloudy eyes and wrinkled skin was the promise of a possible future.  The promise that maybe that young soldier, too, might come back and live to a ripe, old age.

I’ve seen a young girl come in with her mother to have her yearly picture taken by her father’s engraved, white, ceramic star.  The hand-sized star hangs on our tribute wall – a little space in the local USO branch dedicated to our fallen service members.  The man whose name graces that star has been gone for seven years now, and the girl has no doubt changed from a giggly, pony-tailed toddler to a sullen, texting pre-teen.  And as much as she’s been transformed by the passing years, conversely that star always remains exactly the same.  An unchanging, tangible representation of him.  The man, the soldier, the father she’ll never truly know and likely barely remembers.

So, despite your political views or your stance on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan  – because that last one is surely a Charlie Foxtrot (see, I’m even picking up on the lingo) of the likes we haven’t seen in decades – remember that those who fight the wars are not the ones who start them.  Shake the hand of a veteran, or retiree, or active service member, because it is their service and sacrifice that has made this country what it is.  A safe place.  A place where you can sleep in peace at night.

Soldier_Hug.jpg Soldier Hug image by AshleyRau

Image by LadyBlue

SoldierMom.jpg soldier hug image by CyberBlondeY2K

Image by CyberBlondeY2K

soldier_hug.jpg soldier hug image by susan71458

Image by Susan71458

Posted by: Julie | June 5, 2010

Rain, rain, don’t go away…

Picture032.jpg very rainy day image dul-apo-amic

“Don’t threaten me with love, baby. Let’s just go walking in the rain…”  or at least that’s what the incomparable Billie Holiday sang in her rusty, crooning voice.

Now I didn’t go walking in the rain today, or singing for that matter – though if I had Gene Kelly’s moves with a lamppost I might have endeavored to give it go.  No, what I did today was do exactly what everyone should do on a day like today.  You know the kind of day I’m talking about.  The kind of day that doesn’t actually rain consistently but threatens to rain constantly.  The kind of day where fiercely sullen clouds hang lower than the tops of the towering Chicago buildings and obscure their highest stories until it appears as if man has built a mammoth steel ladder leading straight up to heaven.  The kind of day where the screeching sea gulls quiet their raucous calls and hunker down together on the beach beyond my window to form a white and grey blob that looks like a giant feathered Rorschach test.  Yep, it was that kind of day.  And yep, you guessed it… I did nothing.

Well, not nothing.  In point of fact, I actually did quite a bit.  But not everyone would agree with that assessment, especially given our society’s nearly manic tendency to Go-Go-Go, Do-Do-Do.   You see, none of my activities added to the gross national product.  Nope, not a one of them.  Gasp! What they did do was something much more meaningful, because all of them added to my own personal delight.  And that’s something I don’t think we do enough of anymore.  Add to our own personal delight.  Somewhere along the way we succumbed to the misconception that it’s self-indulgent to spend a day doing nothing more than what catches our fancy.  If we aren’t at our jobs, then we strive to be industrious in some other way.  We clean the garage, do the laundry, or rotate the tires.  Anything so long as we’re doing something. Something productive.

But not me.  Not today.  It was a gloomy, rainy, wonderful day, and that’s all the excuse I needed to throw off the shackles of what’s expected of me or, more importantly, what I usually expect of myself.  Today I didn’t fold that load of laundry that’s sitting in the dryer.  I didn’t go to the gym and work out.  I didn’t take the dog for his walk and I didn’t run the vacuum.  Nope.  I left all of that undone.  Double gasp! Instead I cooked breakfast and read a book.  I watched the History Channel and a couple of old movies that made me laugh.  I played tug-the-teddy with the Cooper Dog and sat on the sofa with my husband and talked.  I ordered sushi and wrote this blog.  It was all frivolous and all fabulous, and I don’t feel the teeniest, tiniest, littlest bit guilty.

My dog has emotions…

Some of you may scoff at this notion, but in my humble opinion that means you’re either not dog owners or you’re the kind of dog owners who leave your dogs in the backyard, only to interact with them when it’s feeding time.

But I’m sure those of you who’ve actually lived with a dog, those of you patently patient folks who withstand being panted on incessantly in the hour before feeding time because the domesticated canine has developed some insanely precise internal clock when it comes to both chow-time and walk-time, those of you who are awakened at 3 o’clock in the morning because Fido suddenly has an insatiable itch somewhere around his jingly-jangly collar that takes fifteen minutes to alleviate, those of you whose wooden floors are scarred from doggy nails, whose baseboards are ragged from the puppy-phase, whose rooms are cluttered with discarded chew toys and tug toys and squeaky toys, would agree with me.

My dog has emotions.  No question…

Take for instance the first time I ever met Cooper, although his name wasn’t Cooper then.  I don’t know what his name was, but he certainly had one because somebody had potty-trained him, taught him to sit and stay and fetch.  But for reasons unknown to me then and now, Cooper wound up in the pound.  And he was desolate.

I went to the animal shelter that day to pick out a puppy, something cute and cuddly that I could mold into the perfect companion.  Then I walked by this one particular cage and noticed a beautiful, full-grown yellow Lab.  I stopped and knelt down.  He didn’t bark or wag his tail.  In fact, he didn’t even get up.  He just lay there and looked up at me with doleful brown eyes.  I pointed to the sticker on his cage and asked the nearest employee why his was pink while all the others where white.  “He’s on the short list,” she told me with a stoicism that can only be found in a pound-worker.  “If he’s not adopted in two weeks, he’s gonna be euthanized.”

Needless to say, I signed the paperwork then and there.

The minute I coaxed him out of his cage and into the parking lot, he was a completely different dog.  It’s as if he somehow knew he’d been spared.  He jumped and barked and ran in circles.  He licked my face the entire drive home.  And once there, he stuck to me like glue, my furry little shadow from that day forward.

From desolation to elation in one fell swoop of the pen – and the requisite $50 adoption fee.

Not that there weren’t moments of confusion and sadness to come.  For the first few months, my husband and I would find ourselves carrying on a conversation when suddenly Coop-Dog would jump up and gaze at us with such intensity, his big square head tilted.  Obviously we’d used some word that sounded like something that had meaning in his previous life.  We’d repeat what we’d said, trying to figure out what’d caused him such excitement, but we never seemed to get it right.  He’d eventually sigh mournfully and lie back down.

And for the first couple of years, anytime we’d see an elderly gentleman with grey hair and a robust belly, Cooper would pull on his leash, insistent to get to the man.  Once there, the tail-wagging would inevitably lose its fervor and the ears would go down.  Dejection in every line of his body.  Of course, we postulated this meant his previous owner must have been a portly man of advanced years.

So, yes, my dog has emotions.  And if that doesn’t convince you, try this one on for size…

Two weeks ago Cooper and I were taking our daily walk in the park.  It’s a big park, completely fenced in, so it’s safe to let Coop-Dog off leash.  It was a good walk, a long walk, and near the end he started following his nose – as so often happens.  I let him “hunt” as I continued on toward the main gate.  Once there, I turned to see that Cooper was still at the far end – about one and a half football fields away – with his nose to the ground.

I whistled.  It was time to go home.  His head jerked up and he ran toward the lake.  Wrong direction, Coop-Dog.  I whistled a second time.  He looked right, left, then raced back toward the north end of the park.  Again, wrong way.

Now, Cooper’s a senior citizen, nay, let’s just call it what it is.  At twelve, he’s in his dotage.  His eyes and ears aren’t what they used to be.  It was obvious that with the wind blowing around he couldn’t make out which direction my calls were coming from.  So I began ambling back toward him.  I whistled a third time.

And that’s when the panic set in.  I saw it happen… and heard it.  He started toward the lake again, running like I haven’t seen him run in years, all while emitting the most heartrending, broken bellows you can imagine.  God, it was horrible, those sounds I hope to never hear again.

Of course I immediately scrambled after him, yelling his name.  When I got within in a hundred yards, he finally spotted me.  I wish there’d been a cameraman there to film us, in slow motion, as we raced toward each other.  It would’ve brought a tear to even the most jaundiced eye.  And when we finally met in the middle?  Unfettered joy, that’s the only way to explain the front paws on my chest and the warm, wet wash of his tongue on my face.

Yes, my dog has emotions.  The purest of emotions.

They’re here…

No, I’m not pulling a Carol Anne.  This blog won’t end with a very short woman telling you to go into the light.  When I say, “They’re here,” I’m talking about those glorious days where it’s summer in the sun and winter in the shade.  Where you sleep with the windows open because the breeze is so sweet and fresh.  Where you wake up with such a feeling of… expectation.

My very soul cries out, “Happy days are here again!”  I want to run and skip and laugh and… sow?  Okay, so that last one must be some kind of ancestral memory, some sort of coding in my DNA, because I live on the thirty-something floor of a downtown building, which makes the planting of anything besides a few flowers in some clay pots more than a bit of a challenge.  But I digress… My point is, it’s springtime in Chicago!

And yes, I know all of Dame Nature’s creatures are happy with this change in the weather.  But I don’t think anyone quite gets it like a Chicagoan.  You have to have lived through months of below freezing temperatures.  You have to have experienced thirty mph north winds screaming off of a frozen Lake Michigan with such force they threaten to flay the very skin from your bones.  You have to have had to maneuver around giant grey-tinged snow mountains piled precariously high by the plows, always careful lest you fall victim to a sidewalk avalanche wherein your remains won’t be found until the thaw.  You have to have ruined nearly every pair of decent shoes you own from the build-up of salt on the roads and walkways.  You have to … well, you get my point.

I’ve spent today collecting a series of snapshots chronicling the signs that it’s officially springtime in Chicago.  So without further ado… okay there’s a little more ado…

Though you may think this first photo is of my slightly pudgy dog, look again.  What’s important to note is the green water fountain he’s drinking from.  The Chicago Parks Department has enough confidence in the warming trend to have re-installed the fountains!  Happy, happy, joy, joy…  Oh yeah, and all the world is blooming.


Lake Michigan is once more pristine and blue.  Hard to believe it was an angry grey ice-pack only a month ago.  And a few intrepid folks have already taken to the beaches – though they’re pushing things if you ask me.  And I can’t fail to mention the jugglers who are once more practicing their art on the wharf.

The mallard ducks that roost beside the lake have all paired off.  And they’re not the only ones.  Ah, amour is in the air.  And let’s just admit right here and now, nothin’ says lovin’ like a Labrador finally being allowed to swim…

The tourists have returned with their gawking and picture posing and walking against traffic, with their noisy boat rides and big-assed multi-person surrey carts that take up the entire bike trail and cause near chaos amongst the single bike riders and joggers.  They eat our food, clog our sidewalks, and soak up our temperate spring weather.  But wait!  They didn’t suffer through January and February.  Still, we love them… most of the time.

But during those times when I need to get away from the tourists, I just pop out to my sundeck.  Up here it’s just me and the view – and a cold drink silently sweating in the sun.

And then there’s the return of the buff, shirtless men to the bike trail.  One word: MEOW!  By the by, they probably thought I was some kind of crazy stalker when I snapped these photos.

Although, if you ask my husband he’ll say he prefers this type of view…

Perhaps Mark Twain said it best, “It’s spring fever.  That is what the name of it is.  And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”

Posted by: Julie | March 21, 2010

The demise of the love letter…

Mark Twain to his wife Livy on her 30th Birthday:

Six years have gone by since I made my first great success in life and won you, and thirty years have passed since Providence made preparation for that happy success by sending you into the world…


Robert Browning to Elizabeth Barrett on the day of their wedding:

I am all gratitude and all pride, that my life has been crowned by you…


W.A Mozart to his wife Constanze while away performing:

Adieu, my love, my only one.  Do catch them in the air – those 2999 and a half  kisses from me which are flying about, waiting for someone to snatch them up…


Oscar Wilde to Lord Alfred Douglas:

Most loved of all loves, my soul clings to your soul, my life is your life, and in all the world of pain and pleasure you are my ideal of admiration and joy…


I’m reading the Love Letters of Great Men and, oh, the passion!  The stark and flagrant beauty of the prose!  I get lost in the words, the emotions, and then I can’t help but wonder… in this era of email and social networking and text messaging, what will become of the love letter?

Consider if you will a common text message (or facebook post or email): Hey! I gotta go.  Luv u!  C u soon.

And compare it with Ludwig Van Beethoven: You, my life, my all, farewell.  Oh, go on loving me and never doubt the faithfullest heart of your beloved, Ludwig.  Ever thine.  Ever mine.  Ever ours…

Okay, okay, so no one actually writes like this anymore.  And isn’t that a crying shame?

Still… that first example I gave you?  It’s an instant message from me to my husband.  Yeah, I know, it’s sadly non-verbose.  I’m shaking my head while reading it.  Yet in my defense, had I sat down to write him a proper goodbye letter, it surely would’ve included more aureate language, certainly better spelling, and hopefully a lot more true and honest emotion.  But that’s just my point.  I’ve never written him a proper letter, be it goodbye, love, or anything in between.

So I ask, despite all we’ve gained through technology, is the ease with which we communicate causing us to lose something monumental – namely the grace and artistry of putting pen to paper, of carefully arranging our thoughts before eternally adhering them onto the page?

You may argue it’s just as easy to write a really powerful, heartfelt email.  But, come on, there’s something… I don’t know, sacrosanct about an actual sheet of paper filled with a loved one’s own handwriting.  You can trace your finger along the words and know a beloved’s hands made them.  You can lift the page and inhale the unique aromas of tart ink and earthy paper and know they are the same smells that swirled around the sender.  A letter is a tangible representation of emotion, a concrete bridge from giver to receiver.  You can collect letters, wrap them in fine linen, tie them up with a favorite ribbon, secure them in an old trunk in the attic to be taken down and reread when feelings of nostalgia assail you.

A file on your hard-drive isn’t the same.  In my mind it can never be the same.

So adieu, sweet love letter, adieu.  Sadly it seems – in your truest form – your time has come and gone.

I was on the elliptical machine.  Contemplating.

Something about the monotonous, nearly mindless movement of my body allows my thoughts the freedom to wander.  And as I dutifully took my legs and arms through that… what would you call that motion?  It’s not quite skiing, it’s not quite running, but some strange combination thereof.  Anyway, as I put myself through that, er, skunning? motion in order to try to diminish the effects of that big piece of chocolate-banana-oh-my-god-that-went-right-to-my-hips cake I had for dessert last night, I couldn’t help but notice the young woman on the stair-stepper in front of me.

Picture this:  Early twenties. Wasp-thin waist.  Boobs that sat up perkily and waved a happy, ‘hi, how are ya?’.  Skin so smooth and unwrinkled it seemed to glow.  She was the picture of youth and health and beauty.  Yet every couple of seconds she checked her hair in the mirror, adjusted her little gym outfit – Yes, it was an “outfit.” Worlds away from the stained t-shirt, frayed sports-bra, and baggy shorts that I’d mindlessly thrown on – and frowned at the minute wiggle of her thighs.

Time and again: check hair, adjust outfit, frown at thighs.

And as I watched this behavior repeat itself, I couldn’t help but glance at my own reflection.  And the image that met my hesitant gaze was… well… it was pretty okay.  Sure the body isn’t quite as tight and toned as it was ten years ago.  I’ll be the first to admit something terrible happened to a certain part of my anatomy around my 30th birthday- I’ll give you a hint, it starts with an A and ends with a double S.  And don’t ask me because I can’t pinpoint what changed exactly, all I know is it just lost its, uh, jioe de vivre.  But despite this I’m more confident, more comfortable in my own skin at 33 than I ever was at 23.

So why is this?

Some of you might say that with age comes wisdom.  Or perhaps you think that as I’ve grown emotionally I’ve come to understand physical beauty isn’t the end all/be all, that there are far more important things in life.  Or maybe you just assume I’ve decided to grow old gracefully.

But, ehem, I think it comes down to something far less cerebral.  In point of fact I simply don’t care.  I’m okay as I am.  33 and fabulous.  Now why I had to live nearly three decades before I came to realize this is a mystery.  But there you have it.

Having said all that, I must admit I religiously slather on the anti-wrinkle cream at night, and I’d still rather look like this:

Unfortunately, while I’m willing to jump on the elliptical machine in order to work off the big piece of chocolate-banana-oh-my-god-that-went-right-to-my-hips cake, I’m not willing to forgo that piece of cake altogether.  Which means there’s a little extra jiggle here or there, but, hey, I’m okay with that.

33 and fabulous, remember?

Posted by: Julie | March 10, 2010

Why is the grass always greener?

I was daydreaming…

Not – I’m ashamed to admit – about world peace or the end to global hunger, but about winning the HGTV Dream Home in New Mexico.  While living there in southwestern splendor, I fantasized how I’d write the next great American novel, make the equivalent of a small country’s GNP, and retire to my own private island.

And as I watched Cooper (for those of you not in the know, he’s my chubby yellow Labrador Retriever) lift a leg over a melting pile of grey-tinged snow, I asked myself, “Why are dreams always about the unattainable?”

I remember watching a movie, The Life and Times of David Gale, where Kevin Spacey’s character lectures on a quote from Pascal.  “We are only truly happy when we are daydreaming about future happiness.” And I couldn’t help but wonder, if this is really human nature, if at our core we’re incapable of enjoying our own green grass because we’re constantly craning our heads over the fence to covet our neighbor’s, how can any of us hope to achieve true satisfaction and contentment?  If we’re told to be careful what we wish for, not because we might get it, but because it’s inevitable we won’t want it once we do, what’s the point?

And then I realized our lives are not measured by what we’ve attained in terms of our fantasies and wants, but by the impact we have on the people around us.  Those fleeting moments of compassion, rationality, forgiveness, perhaps even a little self-sacrifice are the things that will live on long after we’re gone.  In the end, happiness comes from valuing the relationships we’ve cultivated.  For me it’s good friends, a supportive family, and a stalwart man determined to stick by my side even when I’m going a little bit crazy – I admit, albeit reluctantly, it happens now and again.

And the HGTV Dream Home?  Come on now, who wouldn’t want to whip up a nice mushroom risotto in this kitchen? Let a girl have her frivolous little dreams…

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