Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ode to a Coffee Urn

It really is the simple things in life that matter most.

Last Saturday I was felled by what I thought was food poisoning, but have since come to believe was a stomach bug. In the spirit of "amaze, surprise & delight", I'll spare you the gory details. The bottom line is that it's taken a week to recover, and to move beyond eating broth, rice, and Jello.

It's been years since I've been sick like this, which may be why it's such a powerful reminder of the small, daily joys I usually take for granted. Like walking across a room without feeling dizzy. Enjoying the smell of frying onions without getting nauseous. Drying my hair without feeling so weak I need to sit on a stool. Eating what I want, when I want. And savoring my morning cup of coffee.

So today I offer up my gratitude for the simple things in my life. The things so often overshadowed by the spotlight-grabbing stuff. Here's to waking up in a warm, cozy bed. With the cat kneading the quilt beside me. A good book on the nightstand. And wrapping my hands around my favorite mug...brimming with coffee!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ho-Ho-How Long Before Those Holiday Decorations Disappear?

Yesterday was President's Day. By my count that means it's been 59 days since Christmas came--and went.

"Went" is the key operative word here. As in "Over." "Kaput." "Finis."

And yet, as I drive the five or so miles to and from work, the suburban streets are lined with houses amazingly ablaze with holiday lights. There are dozens of doors decked with dead wreaths. And front yards still strewn with the sad remains of inflatable Santas or giant plastic creche figures, some toppled sideways and half-submerged in snow.

Call me crazy, but seriously--what's up with that? Has the endless onslaught of wintry weather duped people into thinking it's still December? Has light deprivation left everyone too depressed to get out there and take this stuff down? Or do they think that at this point they might as well leave it up, since Christmas will be here again before they know it?

All I know is this: there is nothing more depressing than the sight of a house sporting St. Patrick's Day shamrocks in the windows and surrounded by a fence strung with dried-up evergreen garland--punctuated with droopy red velvet bows.

Come on, people--waiting much longer could result in a head-on collision between Rudolph and the Easter Bunny. And we wouldn't want the kids to witness that--would we?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Real Love

“Barbie, we may be plastic, but our love is real.” Ken

It’s Valentine’s Day. The day Ken finds out if Barbie’s going to take him back.

No, I’m not making this up. According to various media sources, Ken has mounted quite a campaign to win her heart. A total makeover revealed during New York’s Fashion Week (plastic helmet hair no more!). A lead role in the Oscar-nominated “Toy Story 3.” A special cupcake created by the famed Magnolia Bakery (who knew Barbie had a sweet tooth?) There’s even a website where you can cast your vote—should Babs acquiesce or carry on as the iconic single gal?

I doubt I’d have given any of this a second thought if it weren’t for this quote about real love. Allegedly it’s one of many Ken posted on billboards in Manhattan and L.A. True or not, the idea that love can be real or fake is what got my attention.

Barbie came on the scene when I was five, so I am one of the zillions of girls who helped fuel her penchant for epic romances. I pinned my hopes and dreams onto several generations of Barbies, playing out my obsessions with everything from pink satin ball gowns to a beach house in Malibu. Personally I thought Ken was a dork from day one, so I fancied Barbie falling for my heart throbs—guys like Paul McCartney and, later, Jim Morrison.

It’s been decades since I thought about any of this, so I missed the memo in 2004 when Barbie threw Ken over for an Aussie surfer. And it’s come as quite a shock to read that this iconic couple has known each other for 50 years—especially since they haven’t aged one bit. But what sort of love do they have if, after all this time, he’s still trying to win her over?

Real love is exactly that: real. You either love someone or you don’t. Love is intrinsic. There’s no wondering where it came from or worrying if it will last. It settles in and doesn’t leave—no matter what. When Jim asks “Do you still love me?” I’m always taken by surprise. Why wouldn’t I? Love is forever. It’s that simple.

One of the newspaper stories contained a footnote that said Barbie and Ken have never married. This doesn’t mean their love isn’t real—but it certainly points to a lack of willingness to do the heavy lifting required to have a real relationship.
Sadly, real love has little to do with forging a successful relationship. This takes skill and selflessness. Courage and compassion. Patience and politics. It requires a willingness to give in and the strength to not give up.

I have friends who say that as long as the benefits of staying outweigh those of going, the relationship is worthwhile. But sometimes all the good intentions in the world can’t stem the rising tide of disappointment, anger, and resentment.

Love and longevity don’t always walk hand-in-hand. But over time I’ve learned plenty about the value of doing the work required to keep a good thing going. For 50 years, Barbie and Ken’s relationship has been fueled by the powerful imaginations of kids all over the world—and yet, as of this morning, they are still living separate lives.

Maybe it’s high time they roll up their sleeves and stop relying on others to make it happen for them. Enough with the billboards and cupcakes. I hope the years have taught her that independence doesn’t keep you warm at night. And that he’s come to realize he can’t get by on looks alone.

Have they got what it takes? Well, I went on that website and voted “Yes.” Because in the rock-paper-scissors game of life, real love beats plastic every time.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Waking Up

I'd almost forgotten how simple a thing as the sun coming up can be so uplifting.

Maybe it seems so because today's sunrise comes on the heels of yesterday's onslaught of steady rain and bone-chilling cold. Because the resulting invisible ice caused me to walk gingerly, unsteady and slow as an old lady. Or because the nasty weather led to so many changes--or was it discussions about possible changes?--in the plans we'd made to fill our Saturday, that it totally wore me out.

Whatever the reason, I'm more grateful than usual to see blue skies. Even though, when I lower my eyes, I see that a solid blanket of snow still covers everything. And ice cycles threaten to impale anything (or one) below. Even though I still feel exhausted from yesterday's endless debates about whether or not to go into the city to see our friend Rosemary's cabaret show. How we'd get there. The back and forth. The last-minute cancellations. The grumbling about the cost. The restaurant choices. And through it all, that insidious freezing rain.

Despite all of that--here comes the sun!