Monday, February 28, 2011

Oh! Light bulb!

Last weekend the fish tank light burned out, and since then I’ve been on a mission to locate one that illuminates Sassy and Marmalade the way that the old one used to. We’ve purchased one that makes the water appear blanketed in sunlight (but made the water appear bathed in poo) and another that is supposed to enhance their colors (but only turned the water pink like Barbie’s mansion). Neither, however, brings darkness to light the way that the old one used to.

Sassy and Marmalade are two, very fat, very spoiled goldfish that dance at the front of the tank each morning as I start the bread toasting in the toaster. Sassy is orange and white and the oldest of the two. Marmalade is all orange and when we got her, she was about the size of a quarter. Now she’s almost as big as Sassy and round like a gumball. In all reality, these are Princess’ fish, but I love to see them dance and beg for food each morning. Makes me all happy inside and secretly I dance, too. (It’s cute. I shake my butt, just like they do when move their fins back and forth. If anyone ever videos this and sends it to You Tube, it will go viral, because white girl can dance! Holla!)

Why is it so darn difficult to find the right light bulb? Isn’t a light bulb a light bulb? (By the by, try writing light bulb consecutively three times. After awhile, light bulb doesn’t look like it’s spelled correctly. What’s up with that? Light bulb. Light bulb? Hmmm…odd.) The fish tank looks so bleak without the proper light. And incorrect lighting is no different. The right light makes all the difference.

The same can be said of life. In our darkest hour, a single flame burning brightly cannot reveal the correct path to resolution. Instead, it simply allows us to take our next step. (Or keep us from bumping our head on the nearest surface.) When our surroundings are completely dark, we don’t know if we’re safe, about to fall, or about to run into a wall. (Or for some of us – who shall remain nameless – the walls simply jump out at her for no good reason even when there’s plenty of light. Okay…we’re talking about me. Nurse Betty would’ve called me out for that as soon as she read it, so I had to fess up!) But a single light bulb, or in this metaphor, a single epiphany, can make everything seem crystal clear.

Each day we have the opportunity to learn from our experiences. You thought I was going to say “mistakes” instead of “experiences” didn’t you? Well, I firmly believe that there are no real mistakes, just opportunities to learn and apply that knowledge in the future. Like, when my car mysteriously ends up in front of a donut shop and a bag of happy sprinkled donuts is sitting in the passenger seat next to me screaming in fear of the impending ravaging, I’ve learned that a milk chaser cuts the sugar so much better than a coke. Things like that, you know?

Okay, so maybe I’m not talking just about the proper donut ravaging technique. (Or am I? Muuuuuuaahaaaahhhhahhhh!) We all know that past experiences can shape the way we react to our current surroundings. The right light can make all the difference when faced with darkness, though. In the morning, bright sunlight can seem oppressive to weary, tired eyes. And in the evening, the setting sun turns everything golden and fiery, with shadows appearing where buildings and trees once stood.

But when the sun is straight up in the sky, during that perfect spring day when it appears that the trees have taken a deep breath in and exhaled giant blossoms, the warmth blankets your face and feeds your soul.

That’s the kind of light that shapes you.

That’s the kind of light that gets straight to your heart and points you in the right direction. And suddenly, you know what you need to do.

Or in my case, the light points me to the nearest donut shop. Cue screaming donuts.

Shine on, my friends. Shine on.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Perception Versus Reality

How many of you out there have that one friend who makes each aspect of their life seem downright perfect? And how many of you know differently? Just as I suspected (because I'm awesome like that) - we all have that friend. He or she has the perfect spouse, the two car garage, the 1.5 children, and they make an exorbitant amount of money. They take dream vacations and have absolutely nary a worry or concern in life. Sigh...if only my life could be that perfect, you say!

Well guess what, boys and girls? It ain't all happy puppies and kittens behind closed doors. Chances are there's debt, there's marital strife, and overall discontentment with life. I'm not calling anyone out here, so don't start thinking I'm pointing any fingers. Although, if you feel like this resonates personally (again, because I'm awesome like that), I encourage you to eat a big plate of humble pie and take control of your unhappiness.

I've had this concept of "perception versus reality" floating through my head for a week now - don't make any comments about the lack of particulate matter beyond that one errant thought - and it wasn't until yesterday that I figured out what it was all about. What we perceive as reality isn't always truth, and social media outlets and personal airs often prevent people from seeing what is truly taking place on the inside. What would happen if we all simply wore our own heart on our sleeve and told everyone exactly just how it is?

In short, we'd have chaos personified! Think Something To Talk About with Julia Roberts. Remember that one scene at the luncheon where Julia's character starts unravelling the long laundry list of indiscretions these ladies had been hiding? Well, what if we took a more modern approach and posted exactly what was on our minds to our Facebook account? Let's pursue that, shall we?

Imagine a sunny Tuesday morning, sitting at your desk, just catching up with friends and family over Facebook. All is perfect in the world. Birds are chirping outside, the cherry blossoms are blooming, and the maid is doing your laundry. Chocolate, donuts, and ice cream have now become calorie- and fat-free.

Friend #1 Status Message (In Happy, Perception Land) : My kids are beautiful little trinkets from heaven. I found it so funny that they colored me a picture today...and who cares if it was on my new duvet?
Your Response : Why yes, I'm so very jealous. You have the perfect children! So cute!

Now back to reality... Let's try this again. And with a bit more oomph!

Friend #1 Status Message (In Reality Land) : My bratty, undisciplined children just ruined my new duvet! If only I were a better parent, and hadn't been polishing off that last bottle of red, maybe I wouldn't have been so oblivious!
Your Response: Your children are truly undisciplined and I can't stand being in the same room as you because of it. You are a lush.

Ahhhh....Better! Okay, so truth hurts. And it's not always pretty (like me), but what's the harm in telling it how it is? I refer you to my Hallmark greeting card writing BFF, and the post entitled "I'm Sorry You're Pissed".

And that got me thinking. What happened if we did the same thing in the dating world? He he he he he....

Imagine a brisk Saturday night at the local date night restaurant. A blind date between a boy and a girl commences. Let's listen in on their conversation...

In Happy Land:
Girl: I haven't had a date in 18 months, but that's ok. I've really been working on me, and my career has been keeping me quite busy!
Guy: A little "me time" is good. How about we order some food and get on with the evening?

Meanwhile, back in Reality Land, things are a bit different.
Girl: I haven't had a date in 18 months. The aliens keep kidnapping me and my four cats for their experiments back on Glargon 4. Do you speak Vulcan? Because I'm an international Star Trek ambassador and I'll need you to be able to understand me during our mating rituals.
Guy: See ya!

Right. Okay, maybe hiding one or two parts of the crazy is a smart idea when you're dating someone new. Just don't hide the important stuff, like Star Trek memberships and alien invasions. We all put our best foot forward and try to make the best impression on our prospective match. And sometimes it takes a second look to really see the true beauty of another person. Other times, you can sense the "stranger danger" ahead of you!

So what's the moral of today's story, boys and girls? Well, besides the fact that I'm awesome. (Holla! ...or Challa, as a nod to my BFF when I make fabulous french toast out of the oh-so deliciously dense, eggy Jewish bread and smother it in macerated strawberries.)

Ahem...I digress.

The moral of the story is that we all have a little honesty that is lurking behind the shadows, just waiting to take the bloom off of our proverbial roses. Life isn't always that rosy, no matter what kind of spin we throw on it. Your friends have their own drama at home and they would love to hear how rotten your life is too, just to take their minds off of their own crap. Ever hear that misery loves company? Sure you have. So open that bottle of red, give your kids some crayons, and invite your best girlfriends over. It's reality time!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Too Uncool For Words

The scene: This morning, 7:45 am, in the Living Room. Princess had finished getting ready for school, I was sucking down the last of my coffee to give me that much more of a caffeine high before I headed off to the gym. (Squirrel!)

Princess: Mommy...

Me: Yes, Bubba? (My newest pet name for her, derived from "baby". You have to say it with Martin Short's accent from Father of the Bride.)

Princess: (Doing her best Karen Walker impression, pointing awkwardly at me with a disgusted look on her face.) You''re not going to wear that to my poem recital? Are you? (The fear in her voice was as thick as a cake donut with no frosting to cut it.)

Me: (Dressed in workout clothes, hair pulled back, no makeup...literally disgusting.) Bubba, when have I ever gone anywhere in public looking like this? I'm always put together. I can't exactly go to the gym looking like a movie star.

Princess: I'm just sayin', Mommy. I wouldn't want you to embarrass yourself in front of my friends.

Me: (Inside, thinking that I'm so gonna ream her for that one someday. Think of something creative! Think, think, think. Aha!) In that case, I'm going to show up in my jammies and bunny slippers.

Princess: (Fear, pure fear on her face.) YOU WOULDN'T!

Me: (Smug as hell, knowing I just won this discussion.) Don't think I won't. And I'll call you Bubba in front of your friends. Doesn't embarrass me in the least. And guess what, sister? I don't have a problem embarrassing myself. I do it all the time. It's fun! Remember the heelies? (Side note, slipping on a pair of heelies just after eating a big plate of beans is not a good idea. Think coordination and need to hold in your core in order to balance, then add a side of gas... Yeah, do the math.)

Princess: Mommy, please don't!

Me: (I'm winning, I'm winning! Na na na na na na!) Then don't make fun of my gym-fab outfit here. Check out the stylish Nike's and my aerodynamic ponytail. It's the hotness.

Princess: (The guilty, worried look on her face is just priceless. Ha! I'm one smart Mommy.) I just don't want to see you this way at school. Please don't wear your jammies to my recital. (She starts heading toward my closet to pick out my clothes for the day, as if I'm incapable of putting together a decent outfit on my own. Wait a tick...The tables are turning. She's suddenly winning. Crap.)

Me: I'm not going to wear jammies or gym clothes to your recital. I'm going to look like a respectable Mommy. And don't be picking out clothes that make me look like I'm going on a business trip. (That's when she pulls out an outfit that was even better than I had in mind.)

It's official. I'm uncool and my daughter has better fashion sense than me. And so it begins....