Tuesday, June 29, 2010
I often wonder if I deserve the things I have in my life. Quickly I realize that I do not. But like Will Munny says: "Deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it." Clearly for me it does not. But in my moments that I mourn the man I used to be, I am reminded by Joan of whom I have become. And when reminded of that, I know it is Joan who tossed me the rope and rescued me to become who I am.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
What a terrific evening! I'm so proud of my friends, and all they've accomplished. I'd love for you to watch this and tell me what you think. Besides being ridiculously talented and hilariously goofy, they are wonderfully kind, awesome men. I can't wait to share their talent with you!!
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Now that Alan and I are moving, I can finally say out loud what I've been trying to ignore for over a year now. My current home town is an extremely unfriendly one! Seriously, I've never lived in a place where making friends was so difficult! Even at the organizations where I volunteer, although I feel I am well-liked, no one has really bothered to get to know me, despite my own attempts to do the same for them. For instance, at the senior center where I've worked for the past six months, a woman recently referred to me as "That Lady That Calls Bingo." She hadn't bothered to learn my name. In six months.
But, I'm a big girl. If we were staying, I'd have adjusted and persisted in finding some genuine friends. But since we're leaving, I no longer seem to be able to find the energy to try! I have, however, learned a valuable lesson from my experience here. Once I'm in my new home, in my new town, and eventually connect and make friends there, I will ALWAYS be the first one to reach out to newcomers.
I will be the first at the new neighbors' door, a plate of fresh-baked cookies in my hand. I will approach the new girl in my Zumba class, and bring her over and introduce her to my friends. If we're going out for coffee afterwards, I'll invite her to join us. When I'm working or volunteering somewhere, and a new girl is hired, I will make a genuine effort to engage in a conversation with her. I will ask about her family and her hobbies, and I will remember her answers. In short, I'll do all the things I wish someone here had done for me. You have my word!
I wrote the following post back in October, just a few months after we had moved here. At the time, I thought it was just a silly little entry, because I knew eventually I'd find the "kind, thoughtful" people. That wasn't really the case. See if you can identify someone in YOUR town like this:
To Every Teenage/Twenty-Something Cashier at the Grocery Store/Department Store/Garden Center Where I Shop: Yes, I know you don't want to be here, working for minimum wage so you can afford all that thick, black eyeliner and those low, low, low-rise, skin-tight jeans you're wearing. I know you've got much better things to be concentrating on, like the fact that you think your boyfriend may be cheating or that you may have just flunked your biology pop-quiz, stuff that's WAY more pressing than ringing up my silly birdseed and potting soil.
But here's the thing: this is your job. You're being paid to be here. And guess what? This is life! Like it or not, we all have to do stuff we don't want to do every now and then. Maybe you should join the rest of us, stop pouting, and ring up my stuff. And would it really kill you to smile once in a while? You don't even have to show teeth or anything, just a little turn-up at the corners of your mouth when I make eye contact with you and cheerily say, "Hi!" would be just AWESOME! And while I've got your attention, can you and I make a deal? If you promise to stop staring at my (adorable!) pumpkin sweater in horrified disbelief, I'll pretend that I can't see your ass-crack every time you bend over in those jeans you painted on this morning. Deal?
To the Guy I "Waved-In" When There Was a Line of Traffic Backed-Up at the Light: Remember me? I was the person in the copper Infiniti FX who watched you sit there at the exit of that gas station while SEVERAL cars drove by, refusing to let you merge-in. I'm the one who stopped, holding up all the angry, horn-blowing, selfish drivers behind me to allow you in ahead of me. I even smiled at you, remember?
You were so taken-back by the fact that someone was actually being courteous that you hesitated at first, wondering if it was all some cruel joke I was playing. You seemed to wonder if just when you attempted to pull out, I would rush ahead, laugh, and then point and shout "Sucker!" at you. But I waited, and you pulled in front of me. Remember how you mouthed the words, "Thank you," then smiled and performed the international "wave of appreciation" that all courteous motorists know to do when someone has been thoughtful? Remember? You don't? Huh. Maybe that's because you NEVER DID IT!!! Seriously! You couldn't manage a simple "thank you" wave? Really?
To the Elderly Woman Who's Shopping Cart Bumped Into Mine Because She Was Walking Briskly, Looking at Breakfast Cereal, Instead of in the Direction She Was Going: Hey, everybody's done that, right? No big deal! But you know what the rest of us do when we've hit someone so hard that their cart rolls back on their feet (feet that were particularly SORE that day from an intensely strenuous morning run!)? WE APOLOGIZE! Really, we do! We say, "Oh, I'm so sorry! What was I thinking? Are you OK?" Seriously, that's what courteous, kind human beings do! What we don't do, usually, is what YOU did, which is SCOWL at me for having the audacity to actually be standing in a public place, inhabiting the same aisle as you, shopping for corn flakes! The NERVE!!
And Finally, To Every Man, Woman, and Child That I Have Passed On the Sidewalk or Trail While Running: I'm the girl wearing the black running pants, Cleveland Browns t-shirt, and unattractive bandana around my head. My "weapons" include a heart-rate monitor watch and a wash cloth I use to wipe the sweat off my face. When I make eye contact with you as I pass, nod my head and wave my hand slightly, cheerfully saying, "Morning," I'm simply greeting you. I'm not trying to "hook-up" with you, sell you something, or rape you. Would it really kill you to give me a simple nod back? I promise I won't follow you home or stalk your children at the bus stop. I'm just being friendly. And the truth is, when you completely ignore me like you always do, never acknowledging my presence, even though I run by you EVERY day, well it just hurts my feelings! There. I said it. (Seriously, is it the bandana that's off-putting?)
Wow! That felt GREAT! I hope this has cleared-up any questions you all may have had about how to behave like courteous, caring human beings on this planet. I know you've been waiting on pins and needles for me to give you these very instructions, and that you will now rush right out and implement all my excellent advice. Well, all I can say is-- You're Welcome!!
Thanks for reading!!
Friday, June 18, 2010
My only excuse to offer is that I've been a little distracted, as Alan and I have recently learned that we'll be moving once again.
It's all for positive reasons. Although we've only lived in our current home for a little over a year, Alan's company is transferring him to a much busier area, and one that is highly coveted by his colleagues. It's near Nashville, TN, where Alan's company's home office is located. The offer was a tremendous testimony to the fantastic job he's doing, and proof of how pleased the "Higher-Ups" are with his work. As soon as our current home in York, PA sells, we will be packing up and heading back down South.
I, on the other hand, lived in the same home near Cleveland, Ohio, from the age of six months until I left for college at eighteen. My brother bought that house from my parents, so I can still visit and recall the wonderful memories created there. So, you can imagine, I'm not as skilled at the whole "uprooting process" as my dear husband. I love this house, as well as the birds and critters that visit daily and have helped make it "home."
Billy Joel wrote a song that expresses this much better than I. This is an oldie of his, called "You're My Home," and this particular video is from a concert back in 1976. He's not an awesome performer, and I hate that he NEVER smiles, but my hope is that you'll focus on his lyrics, because they are tremendously lovely.
"Well, I'll never be a stranger
And I'll never be alone.
Wherever we're together
That's my home."
Gets me every time!!
So, my dear friends, I promise to try harder, but I'm afraid I'll continue to be a tad distracted in the coming weeks. Please bear with me! In the meantime, let's watch Billy together and think about the awesome people in our lives that remind us what's really important, OK? (You may have to click and go to stupid YouTube again, but I promise it's worth the effort!)
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Here's the thing, though. I run just about every morning, I have for the past twenty five years or so. I rarely miss a day. But I hate it.
I've incorporated sprints, hill repeats, the works. I wear a heart rate monitor and gage my workout effort and calories burned. I'm actually pretty fast. But I hate it.
We made a move recently from Florida to Pennsylvania because of my husband's work. One of my only three demands issued upon moving was that he buy me a treadmill, so that I could continue running throughout the winter months. But I hate it.
Here's the thing: I run to keep my dress size in the single digits. Period. Throughout my life, I have searched (and searched!) for a more effective cardio-vascular exercise form that increases my heartbeat and burns fat as efficiently as running, and have found none. Cycling, aerobics, elliptical machine, stair-master, Zumba, swimming, Nordic Track, yoga, circuit training, all have failed in comparison. Running, quite simply, gives me the most "bang for my buck." I can run for 3.75 miles in 30 minutes and burn more fat than pedaling for an hour and a half on the bike, no matter how fast I go.
A few years back, my sister, Laura got involved in a running group that trained for the Chicago Marathon. She LOVED it, and told me I needed to enter races in order to find running fun, as she had. I was skeptical. I told her the term "Fun Run" seemed like an oxymoron to me.
That same year, at Alan's restaurant convention in Vegas, the planning committee announced that they'd be holding a 5K run the next day, and encouraged all employees and their spouses to enroll. In Vegas. You know, hot, dusty, DESERT Vegas! Alan begged me to enter. I said no. He told me he'd buy me a cute new running outfit if I did. So the next day, when I showed up at the starting line in my cute new running outfit, I was a little amazed at how nervous I felt. I guess the butterflies helped, though, because I won! Yep. First for the ladies. Got a medal and everything! Alan proudly hugged me as I crossed the finish line. And as I gave him a sweaty, dusty hug back, I sweetly whispered into his ear, "Never again!" Because I hated it.
I subscribe to Runner's World Magazine, and in it the various authors discuss how when it's raining buckets outside, or the temperature is below freezing and the sun hasn't even come up yet, they still can't WAIT to lace up the running shoes and head outside! Freaks. All of them! Because the truth is, I'm out there running in the rain, cold and dark, too. I'm just the only one saying, "Boy, this really SUCKS!!"
So we've made our peace, Running and I. We tolerate each other quite well, I think. I give Running 30-60 minutes of my day, and in return, it gives me a healthy, low fat body and a glowing report from my physician every year. But I think we're both in agreement, no more stupid races. Those things are just ridiculous. Stupid. (Wanna see my medal?)
Thanks for reading!!
Thursday, June 10, 2010
this post I wrote about the visit Alan and I recently made to Ireland, the home of my ancestors. We've been back from that trip six years now, and I can honestly state that it's still the most beautiful place I've ever seen. I remember, as we drove through that gorgeous emerald countryside, thinking about the horrible potato blight that ravaged the land back in 1850. Desperate and starving, many families had no choice but to leave their family farms and the home of their ancestors to make a new life, in the United States and other neighboring countries. As I stood and marveled at those breathtaking rolling green hills, I couldn't fathom how difficult it must have been to leave a place so beautiful.
"And if there is gonna be a life hereafter
And faith, somehow, I'm sure there's gonna be.
I will ask my God to let me make my heaven
In my dear land across the Irish Sea." Nice!
The "share" factor has been disabled in this video, so when you click "start," it will ask you to click again, to watch it on YouTube. It's a tiny hassle, but I promise you it's genuinely worth the trouble! Please enjoy...
Sunday, June 6, 2010
So what do you think of my new template? I miss my former one, but it completely crashed and burned, and is no longer available! Sigh! I've put this one in temporarily, but may keep playing with it! Keep checking back!!
Here's another repost. But it's a lesson I, in particular, could really use right now. I wonder if you do too:
Here's another repost. But it's a lesson I, in particular, could really use right now. I wonder if you do too:
Today I'm going to write about another favorite yearly trip that Alan and I take. Every July for the past ten years or so, we point the car south and drive until the road meets the ocean, in Key West. We love to go in July because this is when the town hosts their annual Hemingway Days, in honor of their famous one-time resident, Ernest Hemingway. It's AWESOME!!
The highlight of the festival takes place at Papa Hemingway's favorite drinking establishment, Sloppy Joe's Tavern. This is where they hold the extremely popular Hemingway look-a-like contest. Believe me when I tell you these men are SERIOUS about this competition! Picture a bunch of burley men with grey hair and beard, dressed head to toe in safari-wear. The contest lasts several days and includes a key-lime pie eating contest, talent show, and the "running with the bulls" race (the latter is performed using shopping carts dressed to resemble the livestock of Pamplona. It's a MUST see!!).
We love Key West and the flavor of that eclectic city. One year we decided to really explore the history of the place and took several tours of the old homes there. Key West boasts a rich history, particularly during the nineteenth century. This was an era when shipwrecks occurred daily on the island's off-shore reef. It was a time of pirates and yellow fever, slave ships and Indian wars. There are many huge mansions there built solely from the spoils of treasure found off of those wrecked ships.
There's a fantastic old cemetery there where you can wander amongst the crypts of the town's most famous citizens. The engraving on some of the headstones gives you an idea of the true character of Key West and it's inhabitants: "I Told You I Was Sick," "Devoted Fan of Julio Inglesias," "Good Citizen for 65 of his 108 Years," and "At Least I Know Where He's Sleeping Tonight."
That same year we decided to take a boat ride on the Yankee Freedom to the Dry Tortugas National Park, located seventy miles west of Key West. Here you can find Fort Jefferson, one of the largest coastal forts ever built. It became a prison during the civil war, and even housed the famous inmate Dr. Samuel Mudd. He's the doctor that was charged with conspiracy for treating the broken leg of John Wilkes Booth after he assassinated President Lincoln. It was a fascinating, beautiful trip, but one that soon became extraordinary when we boarded the boat to return back to the Keys.
Apparently, some Cuban refugees, trying to make their way on a make-shift raft to Miami, had drifted west and landed on the shores of the Dry Tortugas. Our country has a "dry foot" law regarding Cuba, in that if a refugee makes it to land, they are allowed to stay (after being processed by our government). Since transportation to and from the Tortugas is limited, they announced to us passengers that park officials would be escorting the Cubans back to the Processing Center on Key West by way of our boat. I'll tell you this, it was hard not to stare at the faces of those tired, relieved men. I thought hard about the intensity of the journey they had just endured.
But our surreal trip was not over. About a half an hour into our boat ride back, the captain again made an announcement. He said we'd notice that the boat was going to slow to a stop for a moment while they paused and performed a brief, two-minute ceremony off the back of the ship. I tore myself away from the exhausted refugees to see what was going on. Apparently, the parents of a long-time Key West fisherman were onboard. Their son had recently lost his battle with cancer, and they had with them an urn that contained his ashes, along with the gold medallion he always wore. The father held in his hand a paper with the exact latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates of where his son requested his ashes to be scattered.
The boat stopped and a crew member helped the elderly couple onto a small platform nearest the water. They both bowed their heads, then cast the contents of the urn out onto the crystal clear, windex-blue water. The last thing they tossed overboard was that gold medallion. As they both turned back, tears streaming down their faces, I struggled for something to say. There was nothing. So as the woman passed, I grabbed her arm, looked her in the eye, and gave her hand a squeeze. She patted my hand and said, "I'm just glad it's finally over." Indeed.
I returned from that trip to Key West with a different attitude. I kept
thinking about how brief the time is that we get on this earth. Seriously, it won't be long before they're giving museum tours of OUR homes, saying, "Here's the kitchen where they typically prepared the family meals. Notice the archaic microwave oven and twenty-first century juicer."
I love Dead Poet's Society, the movie in which Robin Williams portrays John Keating, the eccentric prep-school professor who challenges his young male students to live life to the fullest. My favorite scene is at the very beginning, where he takes his class out to the school hallway where a row of trophy cases stand. In them are old photos of students from many years before. Mr Keating tells the boys to lean in and get a good look at them. "Peruse the faces from the past," he says. He points out that the boys in those photos are just like they are now, "Same haircuts...full of hormones...invincible...eyes full of hope." But the only difference, he tells them, is that all the boys featured in those photos are now "fertilizing daffodils." They are all dead, and someday everyone standing there in that hallway would be joining them. "We are food for worms, lads." With that in mind, he asks his class to lean in and listen to what those boys want them to know. "If you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you...'Carpe Diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your life extraordinary.'"
My Dad's sisters kid him that he still has the money he received for his First Communion stashed away in a drawer somewhere. He is ridiculously reluctant to spend his hard earned money. My mother suggested recently they spend some of their vast savings and take a cruise. My seventy-five year old father refused, citing that they needed to save that money FOR THEIR OLD AGE!
I know times are hard out there, and I'm certainly not suggesting we all blow our savings and rush off to invest in an Alpaca farm somewhere (unless that's what you really, really want to do!). But since that trip I've decided to focus more intently on making minutes count. Before they sprinkle my ashes or create my hilarious tombstone (I'm still working on my inscription!), I want to make sure I've left no stone unturned. I can assure you, those five Cubans on a makeshift raft decided they'd had enough of living under a cruel dictatorship and did something about it. Talk about seizing the day...
I'd like to think that starting this blog was a version of applying this practice. I was terrified to do it. When I initially created the blog, I didn't provide a space for comments, I was convinced I was making a large fool of myself. Now I love the feeling of accomplishment it brings me. I'm so grateful for the way old friends whom I haven't seen in decades have rushed to offer encouragement and support for this endeavor. Seize the Day. I love how the interpretation isn't "Gently grasp the edges of the day and give it a little tug." No! Seize it! Grab it like a shoplifter and RUN!!
The worms await us, dear friends. I challenge you to make this brief journey worthwhile. Do the thing that you fear the most. Book the trip you've been meaning to take. And while you're making travel arrangements, may I suggest the sunny, eclectic island of Key West? You won't regret it!
Thanks for reading!!
- Anything Fits A Naked Man
- Nashville, TN, United States
- Welcome to my blog! I'm Joan, a former actress attempting to reconnect with my first love of writing. Join me as I ponder my Irish dad, sweet grandma, GPS dependency, hatred of the Hallmark channel, and other insightful topics that make you go, "Hmmm..."
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