Category Archives: Confessions

Married People Conversations

Some of the best and strangest conversations I have ever had have been with my husband. We often find ourselves initially discussing relatively mundane topics that somehow morph through a series of crazy twists, turns and strange lateral leaps of thought, into something much more bizarre. I love it when that happens, and it happened again today.

We were driving back from eating dim sum with friends when my tummy started to rumble. Now, we love dim sum. In fact, we often crave it. But there are two dim sum meal aftereffects that we can always bank on—a trip to the potty exactly 1 hour later followed by a food coma shortly thereafter. This is why we never make definitive plans with anyone for several hours after eating dim sum. (We learned this lesson the hard way.)

This of course lead to an entire discussion around (you guessed it), poop. My husband said that pooping is the great equalizer. I agreed, but said that only works if you can visualize the person “in the act”. There are some people who I just couldn’t imagine on the throne and some that I very easily could. (Which was a little weird even to me.)

We ran through a few names to test this theory and to see if we could determine why we could picture some people on the potty and why other people we couldn’t. Here was our short analysis:

People we can picture on the can:
George Clooney – He’s a jokester and very accessible. Easy to envision. He probably also owned a fart machine or whoopee cushion at some point.

Prince – He always looks a little dirty and unkempt to me so picturing him on the commode isn’t that difficult. Note: Hubby couldn’t (or wouldn’t) picture this one.

Any U.S. President after President Theodore Roosevelt with the exception of Presidents John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan. These two great men are icons, and icons do not potty in my mind.

The Presidents that served after Theodore Roosevelt are easy to picture in the bathroom, probably because it is one of the few places they could actually be alone. The exception would be President Lyndon Johnson who rather than interrupt himself mid-speech, would notoriously leave the door open when he went to the toilet so that cabinet members could watch him as he sat “doing his business”, issuing orders and so forth. (Seriously, you can google it.)

Any heavy metal rock singer – Too easy.

Anyone we know personally – Past bosses, friends, grocery store clerks, baristas…we don’t discriminate, we can visualize you all. (Sorry.)

Albert Einstein – He seems like a fun, down to earth genius that had a sense of humor. I bet he wrote formulas down on toilet paper the way some people jot ideas on restaurant napkins.

 

People we can NOT picture on the can:
Ryan Gosling– Did you see him in Crazy, Stupid, Love or The Notebook? I don’t even want to try. Envisioning him on the “john” would require demoting him from the pedestal he stands on in my mind. No way.

Gwyneth Paltrow – She seems so lady-like, squeaky clean and thin. I better she never eats and therefore never poops. (Although, she has published a cookbook, so I may be wrong.)

Any U.S. President before President Theodore Roosevelt. I think I just can’t picture any of our country’s forefathers in an out house or worse yet using a chamber pot. Too unpresidential for me to wrap my head around.

Any religious figure – Cleanliness is next to Godliness. Picturing religious figures having such a biological human experience is off-limits. (And may even be considered sacrilegious, so I’m not going there.)

So, our conclusion is that it’s “mostly” a great equalizer with some very important exceptions. We also determined that there are some discussions that we can only have with each other. (And everyone in the blogosphere.)

Photo Credit: Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi

Photo Credit: Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi

Jesus Took The Wheel

I was making my usual morning trek to Starbucks, where I like to sit and write while enjoying a low-fat vanilla latte. My mind was blank as I drove down the all too familiar roads—I guess you could say I was operating on autopilot. Just as I was pulling into the parking lot, I surprised myself by saying out loud, “This isn’t where I want to be.“ I found myself steering the car to The Good Shepherd Catholic Church which was just a few blocks away. This was completely out of character for me since I haven’t been a practicing Catholic for over 25 years.

I had recently read a book called, “Medjugorje: The Message” by Wayne Weible. It tells the true story of a Protestant being personally called by the Blessed Virgin Mary to experience and write about the six visionaries in Medjugorje who have been receiving daily visitations of the Blessed Mother since the early 80s. This simple book had a large impact on me, so much so that I called my mom and asked her to please find and mail my rosary to me so that I could begin reciting it. (Yet another Catholic ritual that I haven’t participated in since I was a child.)

For various reasons, I stopped going to Mass when I went away to college. I considered myself more spiritual than religious. In fact, I often referred to myself as a Spiritual Mutt since I was attracted to elements of several different religions, yet didn’t formally practice any of them. I have always believed in my heart that we are all praying to the same God, we just have different roads leading us to Him.

But today the road was undeniably leading back to my Catholic upbringing.

The main church was locked, but I discovered a small side chapel that was open. Inside, it was completely quiet and very, very charming. There was only one other soul there besides me, and she was quietly praying the rosary, oblivious to my presence. I sat down and started flipping through the pages of the church missal to see if I even remembered the flow of the Mass. I was surprised at how easily it all came back to me. I also noticed that a few of the words and responses had changed. You know you have been away from the Catholic church for a long time when the Vatican has made tweaks to the Mass during your absence!

As I was re-familiarizing myself with the Catholic church, I noticed that several other ladies had entered the little Chapel. About 5 minutes later, the church bells began ringing, announcing the noon hour. It was unexpected and beautiful. Almost immediately the women stood up and began praying aloud. Not wanting to stick out like a sore thumb, I popped up too and joined them as best I could. When they finished, music began softly playing through the speakers. Just one beautiful, instrumental song and then silence. It sounded familiar, but I couldn’t quite place it.

I paused for a few moments and then stood to leave. I attempted to genuflect and quickly realized how out of shape I am when I had to struggle to get upright again. It was just one more reminder of how long it’s been since I’ve been to church. Kneeling and genuflecting was not this difficult or painful when I was a child.

On my way out, I quietly approached one of the women and asked what the noon prayer was called. She smiled and said it was The Angelus. Sitting back in my car, I had to look up The Angelus on my iPhone. It was worth a Google.

Turns out, it’s a Catholic prayer to Mary honoring the Incarnation. It is traditionally recited at 6am, noon and 6pm. French painter Jean-Francois Millet’s famous painting bears the same title. It features two peasants pausing in a field during sundown to say The Angelus. It now resides in The Louvre Museum in Paris.

Photo Credit: From Wikipedia, Jean-Francois Millet’s “The Angelus”

Photo Credit: From Wikipedia, Jean-Francois Millet’s “The Angelus”

I don’t think it was a coincidence that I was there to experience The Angelus. It felt like it was meant as a gift. I made sure to say thank you.

 

 

1 Part King Missile / 3 Parts Jewel

King Missile, “Sensitive Artist“ lyrics: “I don’t go to recitals anymore, Because my hearing is too sensitive, And I don’t go to art galleries anymore, Because there are people there, And I can’t deal with people, Because they don’t understand me. I am sensitive…I am a sensitive artist…“

Today, as I was sitting out on the balcony eating my breakfast burrito (which tasted amazing by the way) I started to think about the novel that I have recently begun writing. I so desperately want to share the basic plot line with people to get their reaction but I know that will only serve to give me a temporary high and then will ultimately result in curtailing my progress. To many this may seem counterintuitive—positive feedback should mean an increase in productivity and a resurgence of creative energy. Not so with me. At least, not at this stage of the creative process.

If I share my ideas and concepts and I get a great reaction, then I’m elated. “They think I’m talented! I don’t suck. I knew this was a great idea!” And then 30 minutes to an hour later, a great sense of malaise sets in. Somehow I’m no longer excited about the project because my thirst for validation has been quenched. I also realize that sharing the completed novel with my previously exuberant friends, will no longer elicit the same over-the-top reaction, since I’ve removed the element of surprise. And then I will be left thinking, “I was right, I suck. This was a terrible idea! Maybe I can become a Starbucks barista. I hear they have good healthcare insurance.”

Much to my displeasure, I thrive on positive feedback and instant gratification, and wince at long, grueling tasks done in a vacuum with no cheering section. Worse yet, I positively shrivel up and cannot proceed creatively if surrounded by negative, critical judges and cynics. This doesn’t mean I can’t take constructive criticism or that I can’t work long hours alone. It just means I am a sensitive artist, and if you want to get the best work out of me you better play nicely.

Now, as with most human characteristics, our biggest flaws can also be our biggest attributes. Since I am so sensitive and often insecure about my own talent, I make it a point to build up the confidence and dole out praise (where deserved) for other people. Wherever I am— Starbucks, the grocery, the vet clinic—I am actively searching out opportunities to commend others on a job well done. If I have a particularly talented wait staff at a restaurant, then I compliment them and ask to speak to their manager so that I can tell their boss what a great job they are doing. If I see a child pick up some trash off the ground and deposit it in the garbage can without being asked, I thank him or her for their thoughtfulness. It never seems to amaze me how much a little recognition can brighten up a person’s spirit. This is especially true of adults who so often seem desperate for someone to simply acknowledge them in a positive light. They aren’t looking for a trophy or a blue 1st place ribbon, just a simple “thank you”, “good job” and, “I really appreciate all you do.“

In Jewel’s song, “I’m Sensitive”, she says:

“ So please be careful with me, I’m sensitive
And I’d like to stay that way.

I have this theory that if we’re told we’re bad
Then that’s the only idea we’ll ever have
But maybe if we are surrounded in beauty
Someday we will become what we see
‘Cause anyone can start a conflict
It’s harder yet to disregard it
I’d rather see the world from another angle
We are everyday angels
Be careful with me ’cause I’d like to stay that way“

So as it stands right now, I figure I am 1 part King Missile’s, “Sensitive Artist” and 3 parts Jewel’s, “I’m Sensitive.“

I’m working on developing a thicker skin and a more open heart. I’m sensitive and I’d like to stay that way.

Soul Wilting Cure

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The Topsy Turvy planter has sat in my garage for two years before I finally blew the dust off of it and planted some tomatoes, jalapeno and herbs last week. Excited by visions of bountiful crops that would lead to many future tomato salads and marinara sauces, I decided to plant more vegetables. Last Sunday, I practically skipped my way into the Home Depot to buy plastic planters, Miracle Grow potting soil and seedlings of eggplant, green and red pepper. I raced home and immediately transplanted them into their new larger homes, taking special care to keep the roots intact. I gave them enough space, water and fertilizer to grow big and strong, and then set them out in the sunlight. I stepped back and admired my handiwork, the tiny plants looked so happy and full of promise, as they stood at attention facing the sun.

The next day, I went out to tend my new vegetable garden and I was shocked to find my little plants wilted and sprawled on the dirt in complete and utter surrender. They looked so sad. My little plants started out with nothing but potential. They had everything they needed to be fruitful and prosper, but they gave up before they even began. It was all just too overwhelming.

I can totally relate.

I’m at a crossroads now in my life where I need to decide how I want the next half of my life to look. Some call this a mid-life crisis, but I’ve decided to coin it “My Intermission”. My mind races 24 / 7 rehashing the same old self-doubting, non-committal dialog: Do I want to try to be a children’s book author? Do I need an agent? Can you make enough money doing that? What are the odds of success? Should I self publish? Maybe I should go back to school for my Master’s Degree? Should I try a completely different field? Do I have the talent, skills, connections to be successful? Do I have the time and stamina for a radical career change? Will I make enough money to be able to retire comfortably? Maybe I should just play the lottery? Round and round and round I go until I just collapse on the sofa and surrender, having not resolved a thing. My soul is wilted.

Last night, instead of sleeping, I began to try to think of a way to counteract my spiraling insecurities. I tried to think of the 5 best compliments I had ever received. It’s easy for me to rattle off the most hurtful or insulting things that I have ever been told, but I struggled to think of great compliments. Slowly (very slowly) they came to me. I was surprised to realize that I would have to cull my list down to get the Top 5, but I did, and here they are:

Top 5 Best Compliments Received To Date:

5. “You’ve Got Some Talent.“ — Martin Macdonald, former boss

This may seem like a rather lame compliment, but you would have to know the source to fully appreciate it. Martin was the advertising equivalent of Simon Cowell from American Idol. He was a smart, opinionated, often crass and obstinate, loud Scottish blowhard. He had a deep respect for the creative product and only surrounded himself with great talent. I learned a lot from him, and our agency created it’s best work under his tutelage.

4. “You can tell this is a house full of love.“ — The Plumber

The toilet was running and the kitchen drain was clogged, so we caved and called the plumber. There were other ways we wanted to spend our anniversary weekend, and buying a new toilet for the master bathroom was not really the most romantic of gifts, but we made the best of it. We joked that it really was a typical “Jeff & Becky” moment. The plumber was our “guest” in our home and we enjoyed speaking with him while he worked. As he was leaving he asked us what our secret was to a great marriage. We told him—marry your best friend, laugh a lot and have two equally good TVs in the house.

3. “You have such a happy glow about you every time I see you. It’s just wonderful.“ —Restaurant owner

There was a wonderful little restaurant by my old apartment that I used to frequent. I would chit-chat with the owners each visit, asking about their day and how business was going. One day, I saw one of the owners as I was driving past the grocery. I honked and waved, and to my surprise he came over to chat. As I was saying hello, he interrupted me to say how much he enjoyed seeing me and that I had such a “happy glow”. The genuine look on his face and the warmth of his eyes sold the line, and I was on cloud 9 for the rest of the day.

2. “You’ve got a good brain.“ — My husband, when he still had “boyfriend” status

Being told you have pretty eyes or a great smile is very flattering, but also fairly generic. How many girls get told from the cute new guy they are dating that they have a good brain? It was Kismet. And since he was the most talented and creative person I knew, those 5 little words carried a lot of weight. That compliment landed him second place on this list, but first place in my heart.

1. “That Becky, she’s a really good kid.“ — Dad

My dad is 87 years old and has advanced Parkinson’s Disease and dementia. Being a daddy’s girl, it’s been incredibly difficult to watch this once joyous, vibrant, loving, intelligent man slowly disappear. On one of our last visits it became apparent rather quickly that he thought I was my mom. I was heartbroken that he didn’t recognize me as being his only child. Out of nowhere, he said, “That Becky, she’s a really good kid.” I smiled and said, “You think so?” Dad replied, “Yes, of course! Don’t you?”

I’m working on it. 🙂

Just Like a “Runny Sack”

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I thought for many years that I might have a slight speech impediment. My fears were compounded when I started frequenting my local Starbucks. When ordering my coffee they would always ask for my name, so they could write it on the cup and call me when my order was ready at the counter. I never heard my name called in a timely manner and would have to always ask them the status of my order. Turns out, my order had been sitting there getting cold all along—it just had the wrong name on it. Instead of “Becky” being written on the cup, it said either Betty, Betsy, Vickie, or my personal favorite—Ecky. (Really? Who has ever heard of someone named Ecky?)

I thought after frequenting the same Starbucks for so many years that they would eventually learn my real name. Just to be sure, I signed up for a Starbucks Rewards Card which I proudly present at every transaction. It earns me free coffees, but even better, it has my first and last name printed in bold, all caps so they can clearly see it. I haven’t had my name misspelled or misinterpreted since.

Now, I think I may have traded my speech impediment for a hearing impediment. I am a child of the 80s and I love listening and singing to the best of retro rock on my Sirius XM car radio. (A big thank you to my husband for buying it for me!) I often make my husband chuckle because I enjoy “singing“ the instrumental portions of the song. I like singing the lyrics too when I know them, or when I think I know them.

Yesterday while running errands with my hubby, I was singing the AC/DC song, “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”, only since I wasn’t as familiar with the lyrics, I was singing, “Dirty Deeds Thunder Cheek”. I had no idea what the lyrics meant, but I was having a good old time singing, so who cares? My husband was killing himself laughing.

Later, “Take Me Home Tonight” by Eddie Money came on. I started belting out the chorus:

“Take me home tonight
I don’t want to let you go ’til you see the light
Take me home tonight
Listen honey, just like a runny sack, ‘Be my little baby.’ ”

If you know the song, then you know it’s not “just like a runny sack”, it’s supposed to be “just like Ronnie sang, ‘Be my little baby.’ ” Again, my husband was in stitches and quickly proceeded to Google the correct lyrics and their meaning. Turns out, the lyrics are referring to Ronnie Spector and the Ronettes singing, “Be My Baby.” And as all ladies my age know, that song was featured in the epic love story, Dirty Dancing. Those lyrics I know!

So either I have a new hearing impediment, which is entirely possible now that I am in my early 40s, or the singers of my generation just didn’t articulate very well. I guess it doesn’t really matter, because I enjoy singing even if I sing the wrong words and completely off-key. I also really enjoy making my husband laugh. He claims he’s laughing with me, but I think we all know better. So Jeff, this one is for you!

“The night we met I knew I needed you so
And if I had the chance I’d never let you go
So won’t you say you love me
I’ll make you so proud of me
We’ll make ’em turn their heads
Every place we go
So won’t you please

(Be my be my baby) Be my little baby
(I want it only say) Say you’ll be my darling
(Be my be my baby) Be my baby now
(I want it only say) Ooh, ohh, ohh, oh”

–“Be My Baby” sung by the Ronettes (and me)

Ronnie Spector and the Ronettes (Photo Credit: thoughtontracks.com)

Ronnie Spector and the Ronettes (Photo Credit: thoughtontracks.com)

 

Confession of a Non-Hoarder

I’m fascinated by the show, “Hoarders”.

My husband finds the show depressing, but I find it thrilling. Part of the intrigue is in getting an inside peek into someone else’s life and home. Call me a voyeur if you’d like, but I’m certain I’m not the only one. Haven’t you ever peeked in someone’s medicine cabinet before? Took a quick glance at a sibling’s diary? Eavesdropped on someone else’s conversation? It’s okay, you can admit it, we’ve all done it at one time or another. It’s human nature to be curious about others and to wonder if their lives are better, happier, more interesting or more fulfilling than ours.

I myself am not a hoarder in the traditional sense. Matter-of-fact, if anything, I am a “serial purger” of all things except, “creative ideas”. I have oodles and oodles of ideas jotted down in sketchbooks, notebooks, on loose sheets of paper and restaurant napkins, dating as far back as 1995.

Book ideas, jewelry designs, clever items to be sold on Cafe Press—I’m constantly coming up with creative ideas for anything and everything. I used to think it was a curse, possessing the ability to generate a plethora of great ideas but not having all the skills or know-how necessary to bring them to fruition. And then I had a moment of complete clarity.

I had a dream that I was attending a series of amazing, extravagant parties where famous authors, movie stars, fashion designers and the like were in attendance. They all seemed to either know me or were clamoring to meet me. Mostly, they kept thanking me profusely, but I had no clue as to why.

They all wanted my business card, so I was handing them out left and right. I was certainly enjoying the attention, but didn’t know what I had done to deserve it. It wasn’t until I handed out my very last business card that I was able to flip it over and finally read it. “Creative Muse for Hire” was written in bold letters above my name and contact information. It turns out that I had shared my ideas with these amazingly talented people and they had become wildly successful implementing them. 

It was the best life-affirming, ego-boosting dream ever!

So, I’m not really a “hoarder” of any kind. I’m simply a “Creative Muse”, who fortunately married a “Creative God”, and together we are working on bringing to life a few of my ideas that we can share with the world. (And hopefully become “wildly successful” in the process!)

Banner Creation:  BannerQueen.com

Banner Creation: BannerQueen.com

Almost Paradise

Tony Award wining actress Sutton Foster. Photo credit: http://alanbaltes.wordpress.com/tag/sutton-foster/

Tony Award winning actress Sutton Foster. (Photo credit: http://alanbaltes.wordpress.com/tag/sutton-foster/)

I have a girl crush on Sutton Foster.

I have a girl crush on the “Bunheads” TV sitcom character, Michelle Simms, played by Sutton Foster. Michelle is a disillusioned 30-something Las Vegas showgirl, that marries a persistent suitor who promises a cushy life in his coastal town of Paradise, CA. Once in Paradise, Michelle discovers that her new husband still lives with his dance teacher mother, the strong-headed, Fanny Flowers who is not at all pleased that her son has eloped with a Sin City stranger. Throw in a bunch of sharp-tongued ballet students and an odd ball mix of “local yokels” and you get the basis for this breakout sitcom on ABC.

What do I love about this character, Michelle Simms? Well, she’s beautiful, leggy and talented—that’s a given. More than that, she is absolutely hysterical in an honest, quirky, fast-talking, “I have writers scripting every word” kind of way. She feels like a modern-day Mary Tyler Moore, and I would love to be friends with her if I was 5″ taller and about 100 lbs. lighter.

While I love the show, there is one story line that really bugs me. One of the young teenage ballerinas is now living in her own apartment without any parental supervision. Her parents divorced and left her in “Paradise” to care for herself. To add to the absurdity, her apartment is GORGEOUS! It has amazing architecture, custom tile work and is obviously decorated by an expert. To top it off, the girl who resides there cooks gourmet meals and throws elegant parties complete with homemade party favors. However, she never seems to attend high school. At least we never see it. Maybe it’s perpetually summer vacation in Paradise?

On what planet would this ever really happen?

Remember the TV show, “Friends”? They hardly ever worked, because they were spending all their time drinking bowls of coffee at the corner coffeehouse. Yet, they managed to afford some pretty cool apartments, trendy clothes and haircuts, and a couple of international trips. Did they all just carry enormous credit card debt or did they all receive gargantuan inheritances from long-lost relatives?

Or what about “Dawson’s Creek”? Joey graduates college and immediately lands a job as a New York book editor and lives in a swanky high-rise apartment. Yeah, right! Katie Holmes could afford that apartment, but not Joey Potter.

Photo credit: YouTube

Photo credit: YouTube

So, I’m left wondering if TV shows and movies are giving people an unrealistic perception of the world, specifically, when it comes to career, salary, life-style and relationships.

I have single girlfriends that I am absolutely convinced believe that “romantic comedy love” is real love. Sorry to burst your bubble ladies, but you are going to be single for a very long time if you are waiting for a Nicholas Sparks-style romance to unfold and maintain for the long-haul. (For those not in-the-know, Mr. Sparks wrote The Notebook, Dear John, Message In A Bottle and a bunch of other sweep you off your feet epic romance stories turned movies.) 

I hear people all the time say that they want to “settle down” and not just “settle”. Well, let’s finally “settle” a few things here.

This is life, and it’s not perfect. Deal with it.

Every job, person, or thing has it’s flaws. Life is unscripted and unpredictable. Most big problems can’t be neatly solved in a 30-minute time slot, and real, sustainable relationships aren’t built over a 2-hour whirlwind courtship. Only a very small percentage of people can afford luxurious NY apartments out of college and they usually have job titles like movie star, rock star or “reality” television celebrity. And even these elite folks have to work to keep their current lifestyle. And yes, they too have problems like the rest of us, they just appear more glamorous.

I have a girl crush on Michelle Simms.

I have a girl crush on Sutton Foster. I’m sure like her character, she is beautifully flawed and funny. She probably doesn’t have all the answers. I know she’s currently single, works diligently at her craft and has achieved much recognition for all her hard work. I admire her, and her TV character makes me smile—a lot.

If Sutton ever wanted to hang out and drink bowls of coffee at the local coffee shop, I’d be happy to ditch work and go. I bet we’d have a lot to chat about.