Monday, November 30, 2009

Soaking up the holidaze...

There’s something to be said about returning home for the holidays; to the place where the people who know you best can say just the right thing to turn on your happy face or hit the button that turns you red with anger. One minute you’re laughing and the next your younger brother is making a joke about that adolescent girlie mustache you once had above your lip. During the holiday season this is more than sibling rivalry: it’s all out war with both of us digging deep, hoping to find the most humiliating story we can and share it with the rest of the family.

This rivalry also extends to my young nephews who can show absolute adoration for one another, then flip in an instant by slugging and tugging when no one is looking. Add to that the sugar buzz that comes with holiday treats and you’ve got full on laughing and crying from “Jojo keeps tickling his nuts!” to “D-man punched me in the stomach!” It probably didn’t help that I bought each of them fake poop as a present. They are boys after all; plus I figured my coolness factor would fly off the charts. What I didn’t anticipate was their non-stop re-enactment of taking a rather tough bowel movement. Next time they’re getting a fish.

But this wasn’t a holiday weekend filled with just nuts and slugs. For about an hour each night there was a calmness that settled over the house. What was this power that lulled little children into a mesmerized state of Zen? What could make little kids and adults laugh together in unison over the same joke? Well, his name is Spongebob Squarepants and I have new admiration for him. Years ago when I first discovered this somewhat flamboyant fictional cartoon character while visiting friends, I turned in amazement and whispered “is Spongebob gay?” to which my friend replied, “We don’t discuss that because it doesn’t matter either way”. And she was absolutely right. It doesn’t matter if he’s straight or gay because when his buddy Patrick comes prancing on the screen in fishnet stockings igniting laughter among a family of all ages, you can’t help but appreciate the humor on so many levels.

And the moral of the story this holiday season? Young or old, straight or gay, mustache or not? Family is family, regardless of blood, and when you have the opportunity to be together and share in the moment, take advantage of it.  Because these are the folks who will always be there for you, poop or no poop. 

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Monday, November 23, 2009

The Age Old Game of Lying...

When I was a kid I couldn’t wait to get older. Now that I’m 42, that’s not the case so much anymore. But this week the age game seemed to play a starring role in my life. First, a friend confided she wasn’t sure how she’d react to turning 50, even though she’s years away. Then, another scolded me for asking a mutual friend her age, saying “you should never ask a lady her age.” What is that all about anyway?  Why not?  

The climax came when I discovered a guy I met shortly after moving to Portland had lied about his age. I’d always suspected it but now that I was certain, I couldn’t help but think “Really dudeman, this is how you start off relationships?” Shaving off five years of his age meant he was almost ten years older than me, not just the four or so I was led to believe. Which explains a lot… like the blank look he got on his face when I talked about watching The Jetsons every Saturday as a kid.    

The biggest thing about this to me is: why lie? What purpose did his lying achieve? Was he that insecure and sensitive about his age?  Are we ALL too sensitive about our ages? 

Obviously there’s a difference between lying about your age and refraining from revealing it. Regardless, I try to see age as just a number and I’m a friend to all numbers. Sometimes it’s a good thing, sometimes it’s not. When I was 27, I asked my 9-year-old neighbor if she thought a guy I liked might like me back… to which she shrugged and said, “I don’t know. I’m nine.”

This week I had friends over for a spaghetti dinner. Our ages ranged from 26 to 42. The weekend was consumed with college football surrounded by friends and lots of strangers. The ages probably ranged from 5 to 75. And every single one of those ages is perfectly fine. I’m a firm believer that having friends of all ages keeps us young. 

Life is short and the aging process is inevitable. Perhaps it’s our responsibility to represent our age whatever that number may be. Besides, no one gets out of here alive and the longer we’re here the older we get. So why fight it? Embrace it. Own it. Just don’t lie about it. 
 
 
 
 
 

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Cool, hip and almost fearless...

I’ve always thought women who ride bikes on dirt trails are cool, hip, and fearless. And given the chance, I figured I’d try to be one of them. My friend Vicky is one of those women and this week she drove from Northern California to come visit me. She was also writing a piece for singletrack.com, an online magazine geared toward the bicyclist. In my opinion, it doesn’t get much cooler, “hipper” or more fearless than that.

Our plan was to ride a dirt trail at a nearby park. It sounded easy enough and it was… until we rode up to a single track and decided to give that a try instead. A single track is a dirt path typically only the width of a bike. But that’s not how *I* would describe this single track. This one was skinny and muddy and, frankly, I thought I was going to die. As I wobbled, weaved, and panted my way uphill, I silently prayed I wouldn’t fall into the rock-filled creek. Vic was cheering me on from the top. I, in turn, was secretly cursing her for making me do this. But in truth, when we got back to the main dirt drag, I felt exhilarated.  

That exhilaration lasted until we got back to my house, because that was when I found out that several of my former CNN.com colleagues had been laid off that day. The live, streaming news service known as CNN.com Live was no more, or at least it was not going to be the way I’d always known it. Having worked at the network for nearly 15 years, I had witnessed layoffs before but this one hit really close to home. CNN.com was the place I had always felt most comfortable. And although I had left on my own in June, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would’ve been like had I stayed. I will always cherish the few pictures I have from my dotcom days.   

 One thing is certain:  there is life after CNN… and so far it’s pretty awesome. Anything is possible and there is so much out there to see. I mean, who would have thought five months after leaving the network I’d be trying something I never even put on my To Do list? Here I was in the Pacific Northwest; riding my bike on a single track, eating dirt, wearing dirt, and actually enjoying being one with dirt. For a brief moment in time I was cool, hip and almost fearless.

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Monday, November 9, 2009

Call me superstitious...

I failed the knowledge portion of the Oregon driving test this week. I mean, who knew passing a person on horseback who’s raising his hand means the horse is nervous? And how many horses use Interstate 5 anyway? Add on top of that a $60 ticket for accidentally parking in a loading zone, then finish out the week with a flat tire after running over a nail, and there you have my unlucky week. Why all this misfortune? Simple: A black cat had crossed my path as the week began.  

Mind you, I have nothing against black cats as pets. It’s just when they cross my path, I get a little unnerved. 

Normally I would have turned the car around to avoid the situation altogether. But I had a friend with me and the last time I did that with a friend in the car I had to listen to him call me “crazy” all the way home.  

Well crazy is as crazy does and I’m not crazy. I just try to protect myself. It’s sort of like self-insurance, really. I knock on wood, avoid walking under ladders, and tend not to pick up pennies that are tail side up. But I wouldn’t describe myself as extremely-fundamental-superstitious. After all, I no longer lift my legs when crossing railroad tracks.   

And the week wasn’t all doom and gloom. From the street sweeper cleaning up the leaves to my friend Sarah, a poised and pretty woman, replacing my upper radiator hose in just minutes, there was plenty of positive too. Other moments included hiking up Multnomah Falls, catching sight of a rainbow after days of rain, and walking to Mt. Tabor, a few blocks from my house, to check out Mount Hood and a gorgeous sunset. 

Wandering around the park, I reminisced about the week that was and realized there were some lessons to be learned. First, study the driver’s manual first because twenty-six years of driving just doesn’t cut it. Second, failure comes in all forms. Deal with it and prepare to give the state of Oregon another five bucks to re-take the test. And finally, black cats wandering the streets of my neighborhood need to stay out of my path. Really, it’s for their own good. After all, I still haven’t passed that driver’s test yet. 

Writer’s note: this week’s blog is dedicated to my late cat Fatboy Sly, a fun-loving mostly black cat.

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Monday, November 2, 2009

So old school it's new school.

I’ve often heard and said that duct tape is a must have in every single woman’s home. My admiration for this type of tape is pretty high up there. I mean, I’ve used it for everything from weatherizing my house to securing the front of my HVAC system! A month ago I decided to use it to stop a leaky radiator hose under the hood of my car. I figured if duct tape has always held up for me before, why would it ever stop? But, as will be the case with high expectations and delusional bliss, my duct tape was finally letting me down by coming apart and melting right off the hose. I guess every relationship does have its limitations after all. 

 The end came Halloween night on the way to a party with friends when, of course, we were all dressed in costume and ready for fun. We managed to temporarily fix the car problem, (with said beloved duct tape, of course), but the future of Subie remains uncertain. Though I do still love the tape, I’m not sure I can trust it anymore. 
 
 
 

The next day, with my friend Sarah visiting from Atlanta and without a reliable car, we took our friend Chris up on his offer to go sailing along the Columbia River on a gorgeous November day. With Mount Hood prominently featured in the background, the sheer beauty of our surroundings reminded me why I moved out here. Looking around, I also noticed how Captain Chris was surrounded by four single women on his sailboat… and can only assume he might be enjoying the beauty of his surroundings as well. 

This took me back to a conversation earlier in the week while visiting friends at their home as they taped their weekly podcast for Geek in the City www.geekinthecity.com. The scene was so old school it was new school! Sitting around later, they told me about a former radio host who used to advise guys on how to pick up women. For example, he would tell them to find ATM receipts with large balances, write down their numbers and hand them out to the ladies so they’d be impressed by their financial status and return a call. Seriously? And this worked? According to my guy friends, it did.  

So I guess my advice to my single gal pals is to be very wary of guys who hand you their number on an ATM receipt with any kind of balance showing.  I don’t care what they say: that’s just kind of ridiculous. But then I remembered that all my gal pals aren’t the type to be led by big balances anyway. In many ways, these women are like me, just trying to find ways to keep things together in life… most likely with some nearby handy dandy duct tape. 

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