Oprah has a name for this…….

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Not everyone has the opportunity to experience a full-circle moment in their lifetime – that epic twist of fate when something you had spent so much time dwelling on in your past creeps up on you in your present.  I had one of those moments today.

I am a product of the 80’s.  I was never a slave to the hair and poorly-chosen fashion (most days) but the movies of the 80’s live on in my current reality.  I can recite those movies verbatim and I recognize a bit of myself in each one of those iconic movie roles that I watched as an impressionable teenager.  And though there were fleeting moments of seeing similarities between the starring roles and my teenage psyche, I always felt a deeper connection with the weirdos, the poets, the dreamers.

It was this truth that bonded me to Andrew McCarthy’s character, Kevin,  in St. Elmo’s Fire in 1985.  Though his role was meant to be a bit of an outcast, Kevin was the definition of how I saw myself in those days.  He was a creative soul, misunderstood on many occasions but he held true to himself.  Unlike me at the time, Kevin knew who he was and, although he struggled, in the end he wasn’t afraid to be that person.  He wanted to describe what he saw in a myriad of ways.  He wanted to describe life by every little detail and not just watch it go by.  He wanted to write.  And he was going to see his way to his future on his battered Underwood typewriter.

That line stuck with me.  It haunted me, actually, and I have seen that written line in a loop in my head for many years.  Like a headlining banner at a movie theatre,  the words “battered Underwood typewriter” scrolled incessantly around my brain.  The image of that machine, the clacking of the keys, kept me bonded to that dream of writing.  And now that image has become a reality.

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In a moment of complete serendipity, I have been gifted an Underwood typewriter.   I have been given a battered, plunking, beautiful, historic typewriter that could write chapters of its own given the chance.  Its stories are burned into the keys.  Its ribbon holds a wealth of ideas and the rest is not history, but my story.  It is up to me to cajole the remainder of the tales from this relic.  This battered Underwood typewriter could be the one thing that reminds me that I can write and, just maybe, will help me get to the next stage of my writing success.

 

Is an omission of truth really like telling a lie to your parents?

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It’s interesting to see how life has evolved over the last twenty-five years.  I’m certainly not going to tout that I walked uphill to school both ways in the snow in bare feet but there are some long-forgotten truths about things that happened when we were surviving our impressionable years, some that our parents were oblivious to…..and for good reason.  Back in the days when having no seat-belts and driving under the influence were acceptable, there were some essential unwritten rules shared by siblings and friends.  The most important being – “Things that happen in your teenage years, stay in your teenage years”.

But, after the Earth had orbited the sun a sufficient number of times, I felt a little more comfortable regaling my parents with a few of the stories that happened in the good ol’ days since I had a nice cushion of “time gone by” and didn’t think I was eligible to be grounded anymore.  The sealed records had been expunged, the statute of limitations had expired and I was ready to open the locked vault that contained evidence of our teenage shenanigans.

Running with scissors would have been a much more acceptable behavior and a much easier tale to share over a cocktail or two but my folks took everything in stride, just like I knew they would.  All things considered, after leaving a 19 and 15-year-old home alone while they went to Florida, they were not as shocked as I thought they would be to find out why the kitchen linoleum had tiny burn holes directly in front of the stove (it wasn’t the bacon) and why the giant satellite dish was perched at a precarious angle at the top of the steep hill behind our house.

My brother and I, for all intents and purposes, were respectful human beings and responsible kids.  My parents knew our friends well and we were trusted to roam about town in our pimpin’ ride – the Pontiac Acadian.  If I had to guess, I would say my brother had a Rum and Coke held firmly between his legs (maybe not so responsible) when the little blue car crested the hill.  It was winter and the steep decline was more than treacherous.  All of the defensive driving techniques my dad taught us could not have prevented the outcome of this evening.  The momentum carried them down the hill and my brother strategically maneuvered the tiny car as it tipped on its side and wedged itself between a tree and a telephone pole at the bottom of the hill.  My brother “stuck the landing”.  All of the occupants were completely unharmed and the car, that only weighed about 100 pounds, was pushed out, righted and driven away with minimal damage.

acadian

(ours was a 4-door, but you get the idea)

After spilling the goods to my parents, a little bit at a time, they seemed unnerved.  I always wondered if they had known these things all along and were just waiting for us to come clean.  Was the omission of truth a lie?  Were we terrible children for wanting to shield our parents from the world?  Was it wrong to want to keep them in their safe little bubble?  Only time will tell.

Now that they have both passed and have access to all of the details of our lives, my brother and I may eventually be in for a long overdue time-out when we are all together again!

And how does that make you feel?

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Lately, the internet has been laden with posts and strong feelings about the Elf on the Shelf phenomenon.  What seemingly started as an innocent way to get children to behave during the month of December has morphed into an epic competition to see which parent can get more creative with the benign holiday character.

Many blog posts and articles have been written with very strong emotion regarding this cherubic creature.  Parents either love him or their contempt is so strong that they hold ill feelings towards those parents who embrace his presence.  Some argue that he is the Elf on the Shelf simply for that reason.  He may stealthily maneuver his way around the house in the darkness to take refuge on another shelf but that is his only purpose.  Others, holding tightly to their innovative genes, have created a list of 101 ways the Elf can get into mischief during the night.  Spoiler alert – most of those creative ideas require extensive clean-up the following morning although I’m sure the children would be thrilled to see what a mess the Elf made while they slept.

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Had my life been different and I had kids of my own, my children undoubtedly would have been in therapy either during or shortly after the Christmas holidays.  I blame my choice of reading material but my sense of entertainment tends to lean towards the macabre.  Picture Dean Koontz or Stephen King finding indecent ways of displaying the Elf and you have entered the world that my Elf would have had to endure.  There would have been crime scenes, possible Elf DNA and an abundant amount of Police tape.  This is the stuff that my dreams are made of, the stuff that helps me write my book.  But this is also the stuff that would have a child sitting in the waiting room of an analyst’s office at least once a week.

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For those of you able to remember to innocently and creatively display your Elf each evening after your children have fallen asleep, I applaud you.  You are creating memories that your child will inevitably pass on to their children.

As for me….perhaps I will get an Elf next year and track his bizarre habits in a journal.  CSI – Elf on the Shelf.  Hmmmm…..I may be on to something……stay tuned.

 

 

Finding the colors

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When sadness overwhelms us,

Mother Nature is there

to help us find beauty,

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to make us stop and absorb the moment,

to find peace in memories.

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to find the lining of colors

in an emotionally gray day,

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and to make us see the spirits,

free in the sky,

 to feel their presence and find our smile.

Redefining traditions and stocking up on tissues

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With Christmas rapidly approaching, my resolve to not spend the entire holiday season in tears is very strong.  It is going to be tough this holiday season without my mom but we have been doing our best to redefine some of the traditions we have known for so long and create some new ones.  I had carefully delineated a plan of not leaving the house, but that seems to be going off the rails so I’ll have to do my best to keep a brave face.  I’m sure a few tears will leak from the corners of my eyes and stain my cheeks but that is to be expected and will certainly be understood by all who see those tears fall.

Holidays are about tradition – whether adhering to old ones or beginning new ones.  This year will be a bit of both.  My mom’s famous Grasshopper Pie will surreptitiously make its way to the table after our feast of turkey and our best attempt at her stuffing.  But because of work schedules, our Christmas food bonanza and subsequent turkey coma will be on the 23rd so that will be the first of the changes for this year.

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My brother and his family will attend the church service on Christmas Eve (I don’t think I can get through that step this year) and we will meet afterwards to show the newly purchased or creatively engineered ornaments to adorn the Charlie Brown Christmas tree my mom loved so much.  We will tell stories of why the ornament reminds us of her and take turns sharing our memories.  I may even sneak into town and hide in a quiet driveway somewhere to watch Santa Claus go by on the fire truck.  I don’t think I can let that tradition go and I know a few tears will find themselves frozen to my face before the truck has passed.

The most important thing to focus on, especially this year, is that Christmas is about family.  My brother, sister-in-law, my nephews and the family and friends scattered around the globe will always be the presence and the only presents I want during the holidays.  And somewhere during the festivities, I know that my mom and dad’s eyes will be looking at us through those twinkling lights and sharing those moments with us.  That is a tradition that will never end.

 

 

 

Retail therapy and really sore ribs

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I knew it was going to be a fun day twenty minutes after we got in the car.  Driving through town with my girlfriends, we passed a minivan with the hood up blocking the entire windshield.  It wouldn’t have been such an odd site but the van was still driving along the other side of the road.  And that is how the day’s adventures began.

Even though we live in a very small area, we rarely get to see each other.  So the four of us banded together and hit the highway for a day of shopping, drinks and much laughter.   There is a palpable energy in the air when this particular pod of women gets together.  We are so anxious to catch everyone up on what has been going on that we talk over each other quite a bit but when “K” starting telling a tale from the retail job she has, the three of us stopped to listen to her story about the underwear sniffer.  This man habitually frequents her store to spend precious moments skulking through the ladies under garment section, stopping occasionally to bury his nose in the latest design of Fruit of the Loom.  Super creepy, but for some reason it made us laugh hysterically.

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We got to our favorite store and shopped like it was our job.  We filled the back of the SUV with our new treasures and decided it was time for lunch and a glass of wine.  The laughter continued over lunch and the man seated at the table behind us took great interest in our group.  He was completely harmless, a regular at the restaurant, but he certainly seemed eager to join in the fun.  He regaled us with a few tales of his own and, before he left, presented us with a Tim Horton’s gift card.   It was such a sweet gesture and we enjoyed some coffee and sweets on the ride home.

As the adventure was coming to an end, we were gathered in the parking lot where we had met earlier that morning.  It is routine to see what everyone else bought and as the cloth and yarn were being passed, a precious item (valued at $1.99) hit the pavement and broke.  The sound of ceramic shattering coupled with a slow-motion “oooooohhhhh nooooooooooo” made us burst into gales of laughter.  Here we were – four women in our 40’s and 50’s coming completely unglued in the Walmart parking lot.  Walmart shoppers were doing their absolute best to get as far away from us as possible.  Sideways glances were noticed but ignored by all four of us.  Our main goal was to not pee our pants in the middle of a busy parking lot.

Once I was able to breathe again, I wiped the tears from my eyes and collected myself.  This was the day I have needed for a long time.  This day, full of laughter and old friends was literally what my doctor had ordered for me to get me out of my funk.  And the icing on the cake of this day was finding out where NOT to shop for underwear!

Walken in a Winter Wonderland

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I have admittedly been in a bit of a funk lately.  The holidays seem to be approaching at the speed of the new Maglev train in Japan and I have been trying to avoid the thought of them.

And then I saw it…..the ad for the live production of Peter Pan starring none other than Christopher Walken as Captain Hook.

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If you are a fan of Walken, as I am, you know how great he is to watch and to imitate.  His disconnected thoughts and speech patterns make for great entertainment.  I am not dismissing his awesome talent as an actor or a dancer, but Mr. Walken does make great fodder for TV show hosts and actors to share their impressions of him.

or this one…

(wait for 1:51 on this one)

I’m sure the performance will be great.  He is, after all, a professional and a very talented one at that.  But this is live TV.  There is no room for error.  There will be no Director yelling “cut” and doing a retake of the scene.  I’m sure it will be flawless.  But in the back of my mind, I will be longing for that moment….that one little hiccup that will create a slight deviation in the programming and where the nuance of Christopher Walken will fill the void.

The minutes are ticking by slowly as I wait for the fun to begin.  Live television…Christopher Walken…..these are my Pennies from Heaven.