Nine things that will always be free

photo courtesy of morguefile.com
photo courtesy of morguefile.com

Lint. We don’t know where it comes from or how it seems to spontaneously appear out of thin air but no one has ever capitalized on this free resource (as far as we know) so grab all the free lint you can. Who knows maybe you’ll figure out a way to make sweaters and mittens from it.

Opinions. Like the saying goes……everybody has one. Often you don’t have to ask for an opinion because others will gladly tell you whether you like it or not. Warning: These free verbal projectiles are frequently composed of volatile and unstable materials, especially when uttered on social media channels.

Baby smiles and puppy dog wags. You do not have to have a baby or own a dog to get either. They are spontaneous gifts and you should savor each one.

Advice. Especially bad advice. Like opinions, is it offered without solicitation, covers a wide range of topics, and can be provocative. Caution: When accepting advice bear in mind that you get what you pay for.

Bad luck and trouble. This dynamic duo can appear without warning and is usually inexplicable. From nails in tires to cat fights in McDonalds you can get caught in the crossfire by simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Because of its indiscriminate nature do not dwell on it or it will grow –wondering why it happened to you will only encourage it to spend more time with you. Like dust and pollen, it is simply part of the flotsam and jetsam of the universe.

Germs. Like opinions and bad advice, germs abound. They are hard to see and live on every surface known to man. If you were to magnify these babies you’d run screaming in the other direction because they are the inspiration for horror story monsters and Halloween movies. They are sneaky and can get into your system at any time—hand sanitizer and soap are your friends.

Something on the Internet. No matter how things change or advance there will always be something ‘free’ on the Internet. Of course, often what is labeled as free on the Internet has been stolen or pirated from someone or somewhere else, so beware.

Sunlight and air. I’m not sure these two necessary for life items will always be free since the government loves to find ways to charge us for nature has given us. And you see the occasional article about some bozo claiming squatting rights on the sun – but until (or unless) a planet-wide biodome is put in place you can probably count on sucking up this stuff to your heart’s content.

Your own thoughts. Despite Internet data tracking and viruses – GPS, satellites, and spy agencies – so far, no one has managed to break into the human mind successfully (although many have tried). And based on current trends, soon, your mind may be the only private place left on the planet. So be kind to your mind, feed it daily with information, knowledge, art, experience and wisdom. Cram it full of things that expand its boundaries and enable it to travel to hitherto unknown regions. Protect it from strangers and never give anyone the password.

You’d think there’d be more than nine things that are really truly free. If I missed something be sure to point it out to me or add to the list.

Writer Chick
Copyright 2015

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Conflict

conflict, writer chick talks

I never liked conflict. Some people thrive on it. And, some even like to cause it so they can feed from it. I’ve never understood the appeal. Personally, I find conflict nerve wracking, nauseating and really counter productive.

I grew up in a large family, with two brothers and sisters and a set of parents who rarely saw eye to eye. Though in defense of my dad, he didn’t like conflict either. My mother on the other hand seemed to need it. I don’t know why—perhaps it made her feel alive. Perhaps the rush of adrenaline and the intense emotions made her blood course, her heart pound and imparted a sense of euphoria. It could be. Or maybe she was unhappy because the course of her life didn’t follow the path she expected. I learned in my adult years that my mother was a talented artist and I was shocked because there was never a hint of artistic desire displayed when we all lived under one roof. It saddens me that my mother didn’t pursue her art in some way. Although it does explain her almost manic encouragement of my writing.

Anyway, conflct…the family history certainly contributed to my abhorrence of it. Also if all that crap about being a middle child is correct, then by nature I’m a mediator, a peace keeper—someone seeking mutual agreement and happiness of those around her. Sounds nice in theory but the downside is that you turn into a pleaser, which is good for others but often works against you.

There is a difference between a pleaser and a doormat, although many miss the finer nuances. A pleaser attempts to accomplish peace, a doormat wants to be stepped on. A pleaser will sacrifice for the greater good, while a doormat sacrifices to acheive victimhood. You can’t piss off a doormat but you sure as hell can piss off a pleaser. And if you do, watch out. It takes an awful lot to anger a pleaser, to surpass their patience and willingness to understand and defer. But it can be done. And once you piss off a pleaser there is no more stubborn creature on earth.

Pleasers don’t like to fight but if forced into a corner no one goes toe to toe better than a pleaser. Patience and understanding does not equal weakness. Truth be told if you try to force a pleaser, they can make shock and awe look like child’s play. And then you’re going to see some serious conflict. So yeah…conflict…hate it but I don’t run from it either.

copyright 2010

You Know You’ve Gotten Too Fat When…

fat lady

Way back when I wrote this post, “You Know You’ve Gotten too Fat When…” It was very popular (go figure). Due to technical difficulties, among other things, the original post was lost. I try here to recreate it:

You know you’ve gotten too fat when:

1. Your closet is divided into fat clothes and skinny clothes and the skinny clothes are pretty dusty.
2. All your jeans have elastic in the waist and even those you can’t button.
3. The dishes rattle when you walk into the kitchen to get a snack.
4. Your room mate has put a padlock on the fridge and won’t give you the combination.
5. The lady at the airport check in counter gives you two boarding passes – one for you and one for your ass.
6. Your ass has its own zip code
7. When you attend dinner parties, the hostess always waits until you leave the table to offer seconds.
8. Your nickname is Godzilla
9. Cleveland won’t allow you entrance anymore because they are afraid you will eat it.
10. You’re ambidexterous – also known as a two-fisted eater.
11. Your ‘baby fat’ could supply enough fat for ten babies.
12. As soon as you get into your car it becomes an instant ‘low rider.’
13. At the last 5K run you registered 2.5 on the Richter Scale.
14. When you wear your yellow dress, people mistake you for a school bus.
15. The employees at Home Town Buffet cringe when you walk in the door because they know they don’t have enough food.
16. You’re on the McDonald’s ‘watch list.’

As usual, feel free to add to the list.

Writer Chick

Fresh Start

Fresh Start

It has been pointed out by a friend of mine recently that one of the things we can do when all has gone to shit is to wipe the slate clean. Meaning nobody has any marks for or against them – all is beginning from square one and off we go.

This year I have been witness to some very incredible things – some which I quite frankly can’t believe and am still getting my wits wrapped around (witness the most inexperienced candidate in history is about to become the leader of the free world), some quite devastating, some fun, some surprising and some just downright annoying. Looking back over the last year and the events contained in it, makes me want to adopt this fresh start philosophy.

Because the truth is, that no matter where I started out and how I meant things to go, they didn’t – no matter what my intention was, things did not go that way, no matter how much I wish I could change yesterday I can’t. And after a while, don’t you really have to stop lamenting about your mistakes and bad decisions? You have to let go of whatever is annoying you about things and move on, right?

I think so anyway. The great thing about fresh starts is that you can stop making excuses and quit worrying about all the many ways in which you fucked up. You can throw all that crap in the junk drawer of your mind and move onto, hopefully, bigger and better things. It’s sort of a baggage reprieve if you will. All that baggage of guilt and bad past experiences that you’ve been carrying around, you can just dump. As though it never happened. Well maybe not quite that but you get the idea.

I actually think maybe it should be a law or something that at the end of each year everyone is required to stop holding any grudges they may have, cease and desist and being pissed at anybody they are, apologize to one and all for any stupid or fucked up things they’ve done, forgive everyone who screwed them over and then move on. We’re all friends again, the hard feelings are gone and we all have a new lease on life. Wouldn’t that be a cool law? Actually, no we better not make it a law because then someone will figure out a way to make it a big fucking bummer, which we have plenty of already. Maybe tradition is a better idea?

So, anyway, here goes. I officially forgive anyone who has pissed me off or hurt me this year; I officially apologize to anyone that I treated badly, upset, hurt, worried or just pissed off in general; Any grudge I have been harboring is hereby dissolved; and I grant myself and anyone I know a fresh start where I and they are concerned.

I feel better, how about you?

Road Trip Part Deux

The last time I took a road trip was when I had a huge mental lapse and decided to move to Florida. I did write a post about it but I think I was still suffering post traumatic traveling syndrome when I did. Let me give you the Reader’s Digest version. Bad break up, needed a ‘change’, hey, Florida sounds good. Sold everything I owned, including two antique cherry dressers that I refinished myself, my favorite impressionist print of all time, a great chair and blah blah blah.

I cried when I got to Florida and pretty much cried every day until I left. To say I hated it was putting it mildly. My conclusion about Florida was that it was simply a swamp that the critters were trying to reclaim and as far as I was concerned they were doing a damn good job of it. Did you know that mold grows on everthing there? Seriously. My butter even grew mold on it. That’s just scary.

Anyway, so I quickly put everything in reverse and went running back to California and practically kissed the ground when I crossed the border. I decided at that point that the next time I left California (as I knew I would) that it was going to be for a much better reason – and so there is.

Although there are some similarities, such as I’m selling most of my stuff – hey if you ‘re in the neighborhood, drop by the garage sale – although nothing treasured, strictly utilitarian stuff. I am driving but in a much better, more comfortable car and have a driving partner. There are are a lot of ‘unknowns’ about where I’m going. Never been there – don’t know a thing about it, not really. Of course my trusty pets Maggie and Boodie will be coming along, so I’ll have at least two other friends.

The differences of course, are many. For one thing I’m not running away from anything (except maybe smog and bad drivers). It’s not about becoming invisible, it’s about enriching my life, making my life bigger, better. I’m not surrendering, I’m celebrating.

I have a feeling this will be no repeat of Florida actually it’s more than a feeling – I know it won’t be.
It will be a road trip to remember, punctuated with funny stories, new sights, snap shots, and joy. I can’t wait.

Is Change Always a Good Thing?

You know, the election cycle is stepping up and even if you are trying to ignore it you’re getting wapped over the head with it on a daily basis, anyway. Unfortunately. I admit, I haven’t been paying close attention but one thing that I can’t seem to get away from is that favorite theme of politicians – change. All kinds of slogans come from this humble and common word, such as: A Time For Change – We Need a Change – A Change is Gonna Come – A Real Change.

Okay people, let’s get real. First of all, the concept of change has been used by politicians ever since Sam Clemens started writing editorials for the Mudville Gazette. Apparently, this word, change, has mystical and magical powers. A candidate utters it and suddenly whatever bullshit they happen to be pushing is instantly believed. Particularly if the audience is composed of young, impressionable adults whose whole lives are based on change, largely because their hormones haven’t stopped fluctuating and they haven’t yet entered the real world of bills, taxes and obligations. It is a luxury of the young to be idealistic without any reality thrown into the mix. Yes, change would appeal to this crowd to be sure.

But how about the rest of us? Do we really want change? And if so, what is it we want to change? We have 5% unemployment – which when Bill Clinton had close to that number he was said to be an economical genius – is it really unacceptable simply because a conservative is in the Oval Office? How about the fact that we haven’t had an attack on our country since September 11, 2001? Do we want that to change? Whether or not you agree with the war, are you really upset that we haven’t had a repeat, large or small, of 9/11? Okay, now what about the economy – the Dow Index has reached record highs – the likes of which we have never seen before, nor ever expected to see. Do we want it to go down to a nicer, lower number? How about tax revenues, they too have hit highest evers (because of the tax cuts), do we want less of that? We’ve de-burkah-ized millions of women and now those same women get to go to school, teach and even vote. Is that something we want to change?

Now, I know some of you are going to come back and yell at me about the price of gas and the real estate market. However, those things are changing all the time. And isn’t it change that we want? And also, sorry, but both of those are private industries – the housing market was poised to crash starting about three years ago – it simply finally caught up with itself. There was another about a decade back. It’s cyclic, as is the cost of oil. The fact that traders have managed to convince people that unrest in the Middle East equals a shortage of oil is actually laughable when you stop to consider that we get a mere 13% of our oil from that region of the planet. Our primary source of oil is Canada and Mexico, neither of which appear to be in a state of unrest, nor look to be developing nukes to blow us up. And too, my feeling is that likely the same people who are all freaked out about the price of gas are the same dodo’s who vote to add a tax to gasoline prices every time they want some public entitlement program. Those programs aren’t free and yes, you are paying for them and yes, likely you voted to pay for them, quite possibly because you didn’t bother to read the fine print on the proposition before you voted for it. Reading is a good thing. Know what I mean?

How about small changes? Say you have a favorite Trader Joe’s or drugstore that you like to go to. But every time you go in there, they have moved the eggs and coffee and forget about finding the toilet paper. Is it better that you had to spend an extra 15 minutes in that store because somebody changed the layout of the place? Or when your boss decides it’s time to change and downsizes his staff because the government has changed something, that makes a staff of 25 unaffordable for him? Is that good? Or when your spouse of 15 years decides that he/she might like a newer, prettier model. Do we like that change?

So, obviously change for its own sake isn’t necessarily a good thing, nor is it often even necessary. Sometimes, it’s downright destructive.

So, when I hear these candidates yammering on and on about change and how they are the merchants of change it gives me a shudder. An honest to God, clutch in my gut, because let’s face it, when was the last time a politician came up with a change you liked?

When they say change, I say: What change? How will you change? Why are you changing it? Why is it better than what we’ve already got? And the ever popular, What makes you think you’ll be able to change it?

What about you? Anybody out there know what all this changie-ness is all about? What are they a-gonna change and why? And can they actually do it?

WC

A World of Our Own?

Technology is a beautiful thing. The conveniences it has given us and the simplicity it has made of once tedious work is nothing short of miraculous. But, in the words of one of my readers – are we enjoying the technology or is it enjoying us?

We have so many gadgets to give us creature comfort that we nearly never have to leave the house. As long as we have a computer, a phone, internet connection and a credit card we are set. We could easily begin to feel that really there is no one else in the world for all of the digging in we do in our little nests. We cocoon to coin a popular phrase.

It is any wonder that when we are actually out in the world our behaviour is less than amicable? We squeeze into spaces, nearly sending the car behind us in a ditch, but don’t notice because we have the a/c, stereo system and the cell phone going. We screech down residential neighborhoods at 3 a.m. with our music so loud it’s breaking crystal in someone’s house. We cut into line and don’t see the dismayed looks on other line mates’ faces. We yak to our friends while the movie is playing. Talk on cell phones anywhere, allowing all to hear everything there is to know about our lives, relationships and troubles. Our children run rampant, like wild animals through shopping malls, restaurants and groceries stores because we don’t believe in suppressing their desire to be free beings, even though they are giving everyone else mild heart attacks. We plug in our Ipods and giggle, gaggle and bang out the drum line on the table top, never noticing that the racket is bothering others.

All because of technology? Or is it us? Have we become so embedded in our own toys and gadgets of convenience that we no longer see the other people in the world. Or know that there are other people there? And when we notice them, are we confused by the strange or angry looks, the rude gestures? The stunned, gaping mouths?

It has been said of previous generations that it was all about me. But I’m wondering if that is a thing of the past or the present. Is the me generation still alive and well? If they lost their technology tomorrow, would they have the people skills and thinking skills to survive, to work in tandem with others and make it? Or would they just sit in a corner crying because they can no longer plug in, tune out and float in a world meant only for them? I wonder. Do you?

Summertime and the Livin’ is Easy…

For as long as I can remember one of my favorite songs was Summertime. Whether it was Lena Horne or Otis Redding, or anyone else who could belt one out, singing it. I think it’s one of the best songs ever written because it so thoroughly expresses the feeling of summertime. The hot days and mean summer sun – the fragrant balmy nights – the lazy, languid movements of sun-kissed skin. Oh yeah.

It’s been very hot in my little burg and though it drives most people inside to find the solace of air conditioning and bad television – it makes me smile. It makes me think of my dad and watermelon and eating giant beefsteak tomatoes on the front porch. Swatting away the flies and trying to catch the juice before it drips down your chin and onto your nice white tee shirt.

Of dangling toes in the cool comfort of a country lake. The symphony of butterflies, birds and bees that hover and dart in the garden, serenading and gliding – a cacaphony of color and songs piercing the cloudless blue sky. Of softie ice cream cones in the darkened livingroom, the fan rattling and television down low. Of sitting in the window when I should have been sleeping and listening to the crickets as they sing out the stars scattered across a darkening sky.

Of picnics and parties. Rollercoasters and cotton candy, apples dipped in sweet, chewy caramel and a sheen of oily sweat that never goes away until the weather breaks. The air so heavy with water that refuses to turn to rain.

Of my new keds, red and unblemished. Scraped elbows and new adventures along the railroad track, discovering rocks and trash that were treasures to us. Iced tea sweating and leaving a ring on the table, putting it to my forehead and how cool it felt there. Streaks of blonde hair glistening the mousey brown of winter.

It makes me think of all these things and more. I guess you could say I am a child of summer. I need the sunshine to live. I never want it to end.

WC

Is it All About Ego?

A couple of years ago I made an observation which I found startling. I worked for a couple of fellows who were very talented artistically, but where awful businessmen. The constant juggling and borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, drove me, their general manager, nuts.

I couldn’t understand how they could operate that way, much less live that way. Yet, they did and managed to pull off some very impressive things.

I also have friends who have done what I considered to be some very risky stuff and came out the other end on top. One friend in particular has become quite successful and it’s funny to me because I knew them when, so to speak and remember many times in the not too distant past when they would have been happy to be working at McDonald’s.

I became curious about this thing called success and so I started to really watch them, the boys and my friend, looking for some common denominator. One, which, apparently I lacked. I started to really listen to the things they said, how they dealt with others and there general approach to life.

What I found was that my friend and the boys and in fact, as I thought about it, anyone I knew personally who was or had been successful was ego. I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way. But they all do/did have quite the ego. They all believed that they were somehow superior, better, more capable, smarter, talented (you name it) than most other people.

This really floored me. Just to realize that the difference between constantly trying and getting nowhere and succeeding and ultimately getting what you want, was about having an ego that in some cases, actually lied to you. Sometimes quite often.

I looked around a bit at other people whom I didn’t know, to see if that was the deciding factor. I certainly found many examples. Madonna is a good one. She is marginally talented – accept for her dancing which used to be pretty good, and may still be but I’m not up to date on what she’s doing these days – yet she is one of them most famous and successful women in show business. David Letterman, a very popular talk show host, who clearly has a big ego – and not that talented. On the funny scale he rates about a 3, yet he’s making a bagillion dollars a year while many of my blogging friends who are hilarious are working 9 to 5 jobs. John Grisham is a another example – his writing style actually causes me pain, but everything he writes sure do make good, formulaic movies which of course make millions of dollars.

So far, it seems to be bearing out.

But here’s the rub – what am I/we supposed to do? I even tried to sort of emulate my friend – walk with a struth and swagger, think of myself as hot shit and all I got was my little voice chastising me for being a jerk. I try to cop an attitude and people just look at me and laugh. It’s pathetic really.

Since I’ve been on this quest to get an agent and somehow manage to do the impossible and get published it’s been beating up what little ego I have. In fact, my ego is so sore that it can barely move. Yet, I know that is what I need. I need to act and believe like I’m hot shit. Be confident though nobody in the world wants to represent me or publish me. Know that they are all wrong and I am right. Quite the challenge. Possibly the impossible dream. But what’s a Irish Catholic girl from the Midwest to do?

Nope, I don’t know the answer. But I do think I’m onto something. So starting today, I will practice my affirmations, come up with ego boosting mantras and look down my nose at as many people as possible. I will act like I have a million bucks in the bank and I don’t need a thing. Act as though I am motivated by ambition alone. LOL. Think it will work?

WC

Mystery Plant

As some of you may know, I’m an avid gardener. Not the Martha Stewart type though, who knows all the latin names for things and the special soil and fertilizer amendments – I garden by the seat of my pants. It’s an organic thing, if you will – I do what feels right and often I yield good results.

This year, my garden has been incredible, the weather has been perfect and the bugs and birds are barely bothering the plants at all. In fact, I’ve only lost two plants which is really amazing.

I’ve planted tomatoes of several varieties, summer squash, onions, bell peppers, lettuce, cucumbers, turnips, radishes and even a spontaneous string bean plant came up out of nowhere.

Then there is this plant. It started out as a little seedling and it looked so cute, I thought what the heck, I’ll let it grow and see what happens. The above is what happened. It looked an awful lot like my cucumber plants so I assumed that it was a cucumber plant and let it be. You can never have too many cucumbers in my mind.

About a week ago, I noticed this:

And I knew it wasn’t no stinking cucumber. Over the last several days this mystery fruit/vegetable has continued to grow into:

and

and

I’ve actually come to believe that I am growing watermelons. Or some kind of melon. But I can’t for the life of me explain it. I never planted any watermelon and I never had any watermelon seeds, yet, the fruit on this baby grows by leaps and bounds each day – the largest one is a bit bigger than a softball as of today – and looking more and more like a watermelon.

Anybody out there care to hazard a guess? I’m dying to know what I’m growing and I simply cannot be sure. So, feel free to lob your guesses my way. The winner may end up with a fedexed melon in a few weeks.

WC