Thursday, August 16, 2012

Secret *quote* vices *end quote*

I have a confession to make, a revelation of a secret vice.

That got your attention, didn't it?

Well, don't get too excited. My addiction is rather mundane compared to most. You see, I'm obsessed with words. Or more specifically, the clever way in which words can be put together.

I like to read and I love to write, but despite what some may call my taste in books ("sleazy sex novels" being the most disparaging remark which I took in good humor considering the source) I am pretty picky about what I enjoy. I've been known to toss aside any number of tomes because, after reading only a few pages, the urge to whip out a red pen and edit what I've just read is so fierce I can't bring myself to finish it. I used to force myself to plow through books to the bitter end no matter how much I disliked them. But now I've decided that's just a waste of my time. I'm not sure if age has made me wiser or just shortened my attention span. Probably a little measure of both. Well, actually a little of the former and a whole lot of the latter, but that's a discourse for another day.

What I find even more addictive than novels is quotes (which, now that I think of it, probably relates to the short attention-span issue). I have just over half-a-dozen books filled with quips of everyone from Bud Abbott to Emile Zola and it never fails that if I pull one from the shelf to hunt something up I end up spending hours reading through pages and pages of witty, profound, hilarious, perceptive sayings. The fact that the majority of them are from people who lived in another era only makes them all the more charming. It’s like the thinking man’s (or woman’s, in this case) mindless entertainment.

Here are some of my favorite… from some of my favorites:

I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite. G.K. Chesterton

Cats are like Baptists. They raise hell and you can never catch them at it. Mark Twain

The difference between death and taxes is death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets. Will Rogers

A real Christian is a person who can give his pet parrot to the town gossip. Billy Graham

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Albert Einstein

No matter how calmly you try to referee, parenting will eventually produce bizarre behavior, and I’m not talking about the kids. Bill Cosby

Many a man’s tongue broke his nose. Seumus MacManus

A woman is like a tea bag – you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water. Eleanor Roosevelt

And this from The World’s Best Epigrams c. 1924: The reason there were fewer wrecks in the old horse-and-buggy days was because the driver didn’t depend wholly on his own intelligence.–Boston Post

Friday, March 25, 2011

There comes a time when you have to let go...

A friend of mine has been blogging about spring cleaning. Well, more like – as she calls it – purging, i.e. getting rid of years of accumulated stuff. Right now she is struggling with parting with her teddy bear collection. Which reminded me of my own experiences in this area.

When things started to get financially tight for us and I knew we were also going to have to downsize, I began to sell off some of my treasured dolls. My great-aunt had the most glorious assortment of dolls you could ever imagine. Hundreds (probably thousands) of them, all museum quality. And since her daughters noted my fascination with them, they would present me with one of my own every Christmas. I took very good care of these dolls and I cherished their beauty – and the love with which they were given to me.

My own daughters, however, had never been much interested in toys that weren’t meant to be played with and my granddaughter, I’m told, is into dinosaurs, not the traditional girly stuff. So off they went to various collectors across the country. It was a comfort to know that the ladies that bought them really did appreciate them, some even going so far as emailing me to tell me as much after they’d received them. And it was a relief to know we’d be able to pay some bills during those months.

The other night “The Middle” aired an episode where the family decided it was time to uber spring clean. It was hilarious to see everyone’s take on it, not to mention the end results (of not getting rid of quite as much stuff as they planned to or should have).

What was really strange was Sue (the teenaged daughter) had a set of hot rollers that she just couldn’t bear to part with. She claimed they had feelings and in order not to hurt them, she rotated which ones went in the front of her hair every time she used them. She also said she had to jiggle the plug for the thing to work.

Yes, that is weird in and of itself, but beyond that, what caught my attention was I had that exact same set of rollers! I even had to jiggle the plug to make it work – that is, until I got lucky enough to find a new cord for it.  I don’t know where the set designer of the show dug those up but mine are at least 30 years old. Yes, I had them and I still have them and they still work (yeah, they don’t make things like they used to) and I even use them on occasion.

In conclusion, some might criticize me for the stuff I’ve parted with. After all, it’s no secret I’m a type-A perfectionist with over-zealous organizational tendencies who often spouts the motto, “When in doubt, throw it out.” But I assure you, I do have a sentimental side and there are things that I will not part with no matter what. Practicality, however, usually rules the day.

To paraphrase the Godfather: sell the dolls, keep the rollers.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Can I see some ID, please?

Everyone has an identity.

No, not like a driver’s license or even a credit card with your picture on it. I’m talking about how you perceive yourself. It comes out in all sorts of ways. Your hobbies, what you read and listen to, how you dress, even your email address or 
the screen name you use on the internet.

For example, it’s a pretty sure bet that the gal in your office who listens to Alan Jackson and wears cowboy boots with her trendy leggings is a country girl at heart, despite the fact that she’s never even been on a horse and was born and raised in Los Angeles.

And we’ve all spotted the guy driving the lifted Hummer sporting a New England Patriots decal on the bumper and a Rottweiler in the passenger seat. Despite his being of average height and slight build, he obviously sees himself as larger than life.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying any of this is good or bad. It’s just a fact of life. If you don’t believe me stop and take a look at yourself.

Okay, I’ll go first.

My screen name is “Lady Writer”. That and the fact that you are reading this reveals my avocation and the hopes and dreams I have for a future career as a published author.

The pictures on the walls of my humble abode and the jars of sea shells on my shelves are evidence that I love the beach and if you could peek at the photos saved on my computer you’d know without a doubt that my favorite actor (i.e. celebrity crush) is Johnny Depp.

My car’s personalized plates are evidence that the afore mentioned obsession has led to one with pirates and the stations programmed on the radio will tell you that I’m a Christian with a propensity toward classic rock.

I’m not a girly-girl. My usual attire is jeans and a t-shirt, though sometimes I’ll trade my tennies for studded clogs or kicky sandals. But when the occasion calls for it, a classic skirt and blouse combo with a wide belt and sexy platform pumps can really give me an ego-boost. As for my features, I’m always pleased when people tell me I look Italian (which is one-quarter of my heritage). 

So, yes, in my inner-most fantasies I’m dressed in my favorite Michael Kors ensemble, zipping around in my little red Fiat, heading from my beachfront cottage in Laguna Beach to a meeting with Jerry Bruckheimer to discuss turning one of my many best-selling novels into a movie. Oh, and after that my husband and I are planning to jet off to our villa in Venice. Johnny and Vanessa are coming over dinner.

Now… how do you see yourself?


Saturday, February 19, 2011

10 things I've learned after moving to Orange County

Not everyone is rich… Well, duh. We live in the OC and we’re not rich. In fact, where we’re at, the cost of living really isn’t all that different than Yucaipa.

…And they certainly aren’t all snobs. In fact, I’ve been delightfully surprised at how friendly and courteous the people we’ve encountered are. And I don’t know if it’s the economy or the area, but store clerks seem to be genuinely happy in their jobs.

People seem more informed and are definitely more conservative. To prove it, we have the OC Register – a truly intelligent and interesting newspaper!

The OC is far more culturally diverse than I expected. Having spent plenty of Saturdays at Disneyland or other fun places, I knew many Asians and Middle Easterners live here, as well as Anglos, African-Americans and Hispanics. But I’ve been surprised when people talk to me with Eastern European accents and I’ve overheard many families speaking German or Italian. It’s fascinating and I love it!

Restaurant selections are better. There’s more than just Del Taco, Taco Bell, Taco Tia, Mi Tortilla, Jose’s… well, you get the point. And there’s a Baskin Robbins in every town!

However… while there’s quite a variety of places to shop, Fresh & Easy and Wal-Mart are a little more scarce. Not non-existent, just a bit out of our way. Plus, Yorba Linda doesn’t have a Barnes and Noble, they have a Border’s. Make that had a Border’s. Yep, you guessed it – ours is one of the ones that’s closing.

Yes, the freeway traffic is a mess. The 91 is a parking lot going east at quitting time, which makes it tough for us to get involved with midweek church activities in Corona. Holiday weekends? Fuhgetaboudit! But you learn to have patience. And you vow that – despite the sporty image and fun of driving a stick shift – your next car will definitely have an automatic transmission. At least the side streets are no worse than those in the IE.

The weather is much more temperate. While this year all of SoCal has had extreme conditions, the summer wasn’t quite as hot where we are now, nor does it get anywhere near as cold at night as it did in Yucaipa. Plus, the air is more humid. Not as extreme as on the coast, but enough that my hair and skin don’t feel as dry and when the temps dip, they don’t feel quite as chilly.

Thunder in a canyon doesn’t sound the same as it does in a valley. Don’t know the science behind it. Can’t exactly describe the difference. But it’s noticeable and it’s weird.

Finally, I’ve always wanted to live in Orange County and here we are. Actually, I’ve always wanted to live at the beach. We’re not quite there yet, but this is definitely progress and... I love it here!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Learning from Solomon's mistakes

I think I suffer from adult ADD. My focus is so shattered that my brain begins to feel like a pinball machine. Each night as I lay in bed, trying to fall asleep, I beat myself up over all the things I didn’t accomplish that day. Then I assure myself tomorrow I’ll do better. I start the day with the list I’ve mentally compiled and prioritized the night before. Then I grab breakfast and a cup of coffee and turn on my laptop. And that’s when things begin to unravel.

The problem is the constant battle between what I need to do and what I want to do. A tug of war, you might call it, between my inner child that yearns to explore everything and anything that catches my fancy and my adult sensibilities that nag at me to tend to my seemingly endless and most times boring responsibilities.

One of the casualties of this train wreck is my time with God. There are days I check my email to find I’ve let a week’s worth of daily devotions slip by unread and I can’t figure out how I let it happen. Reading about Solomon in 1 Kings 11:1-6, I think I’ve discovered a clue.

Apparently a king who had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines wasn’t so unusual back in the Biblical times before Christ. But where Solomon went wrong was taking women that worshiped foreign gods, something the Lord had expressly forbidden him to do. And just like Mark Twain’s humorous story about Brigham Young, they all had their own agenda. Next thing Solomon knew, his attention was fractured and his devotion to God was forgotten.

Not all distractions are bad, just like not all of Solomon’s wives worshipped idols. But if the king had used the gift of wisdom God had blessed him with rather than letting his libido do the talking, he would have saved himself a lot of headaches (imagine being yammered at by 1000 women) and divine punishment.

And similarly, if I make my time with the Lord my number one priority the true importance of the distractions that call to me will become clearer and things will more easily fall into place. As Paul says in Romans 8:6, “So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.”