Thursday, February 25, 2010

Small Bites of Happiness

My life has been not much short of chaotic lately. Not by my own choosing, but sometimes decisions are made for us, and we just need to follow the path through brush and thorns before we get to the clear road. I have not been able to keep my very organized routine of a life; my mind is in 1000 different places at one time, and I feel like I am spiraling out of control sometimes, trying to follow a hectic schedule and to accomplish 100 things a minute, which is what’s expected of me.

I have no routine for meals, cleaning the house, bill paying and seeing friends anymore … It’s just a rush to the finish line every day.

And some days (most days) some things don’t get done – which makes tomorrow’s “to do” list longer and adds more stress and self criticism on me …

So, because I move mechanically lately, and never think anymore – very unlike me – I have been forgetting the simplest things … For everyone that knows me, it’s common knowledge that I never forget things. I have a dear friend back home who says about me: “you are the kind of person who never loses an umbrella”. I just don’t. I rarely misplace things. I rarely forget to do them at all.

Well, because of the whirlwind I have been thrown in lately, I have been forgetting a lot. A lot more than I forgive myself for. A lot more than I find manageable! I forget everything from putting my watch on in the morning to paying the cell phone bill, or the power bill, from emailing friends to eating dinner … Long, short time memory – doesn’t matter …

It took last night’s happening to jerk me to my core though. It’s a small thing, maybe, for some, but it was huge for me. I went to the grocery store, late, after yet another consecutive, 11 hour work day. Before I was rushing home to house chores at 8 PM, and I checked my purchase out myself, I also drew some cash out of the machine, at the cash register. Only, at the very end, after I picked up my receipt and before rushing out to life again, I forgot to pick up the cash from the machine.

I forgot so “well”, that I didn’t actually remember that I didn’t pick it up till this morning. Looking back on yesterday and trying to think about what I did, I could never remember actually picking up the cash from the “cash dispenser” as the machine calls it. So, I panicked and hated myself for it.

Dubious that Harris Teeter will trust my story, receipt in hand and all, I went back to the store today, to see if I could recoup the money I meant to withdraw. It turns out that a Good Samaritan customer found the money in the dispenser and turned it in to the attendant. Yes, they needed my receipt, and they needed to check the video tape to see if the times concur, but they gave me the money the customer had returned.

They told me also that this is very rare: if the attendants don’t find the cash themselves (in which case they are required my their job to turn it in) and it’s the customers who found the cash, they almost never return it.

It was not a lot of money to some ($40), but you have no idea how grateful I am today for that kind stranger out there, with a clean conscience and a good heart that returned the cash. In the chaos of what it is my life today, this small thing of forgetting my brain one more time would have been enough for me to brood in low self esteem and self-fed-up-ness for another week or so.

In the land of negativity and sometimes hopelessness that I live in lately, there was this beautiful rainbow this morning. Life can and is beautiful, after all. Even by small bites. And this good deed was my reminder. Thank you, kind unknown person: you will never know how much you helped!

And I know to put on the brakes for now, and think twice, hopefully, before I act. Even delayed in my thousands of engagements, taking the time to do them right the first time will work wonders for my sanity. Even through random brushy woods, one must step slowly, carefully and ... mindfully.

Monday, February 22, 2010

About a Song

After two years ...

“The loss of a friend is like that of a limb; time may heal the anguish of the wound but the loss cannot be repaired.” (Robert Southey)

This week’s been hard. This week, of every February, has been very hard for the past … three years. It bears the mark of one of my most amazing friends , whom I (and the rest of the world) have lost to a brain tumor in 2008. Or should I say, it bears the mark of his diagnosis (in 2007) and death, a year later?!

Things are never pretty when death comes, and they are certainly more ugly when it comes to sever a young life. They are unbearable when it hits so close to home, as it was when Jeff passed, two years ago.

In two years, things have not changed much. For me. I still miss him every day, just the same. I miss his smile. And his dimples. His humor and wit, his healthy laugh. His down-to-earth-ness. His class. His ever so proud left handedness. I still miss our arguments and our dog walks… I miss his passion for living, most of all. His gusto with which he threw himself at each day. His complete lack of wishy-washy-ness. His determined driving.

I stop for a moment, every night to pray for his strength, wherever he is, just like I promised him two years ago. I still listen to his voice mail – the last one he left me… I miss him still, with this sharp pain in my chest, when I want to share sports or political news with him, or when I take a trip or when I have to tell him what else is new in my life. This sharp pain of a sigh when I reach for the phone to dial his number, and I catch myself - he’s no longer there.

Maybe this is why this song (see link below) spoke to me so loudly. One morning, this past week, I was driving, like I do every morning, by the hospital. And just like I do every time I drive by the hospital, I thought of Jeff. The minute my car stopped at the light on Elm Street and Northwood, this song came on, and I swear I had this out-of-worldly feeling that he turned this song on the radio himself, just for me.

The time stood still for the five minutes the song played, and I swear I could hear him breathe next to me, in the passenger’s seat. It was eerie. It spoke to me because I felt like I heard from it the very words I could say to him. Now, and always. I cried, as I drove off, and as I have learned to do for the past two years: just move on, one day at a time, as life would have it, with the past, and the pain inside of my heart.

Rest in peace, Jeff , and thank you, again for the gift of you. Because of you, Februaries are never going to be the same, and neither will my life; but then again that is the true mark of a great man: they live and die to make a difference.

Love always, your G. A.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Dress, by Any Other Name …

I feel about weddings like most people feel about “don’t shoot me” orange clothes: they might look good on some people, but not on me!

For some odd reason, I have never liked the big, fat, party central type of weddings. And more than the huge parties where people you don’t know get fed and drunk on your life savings, I hate the dresses. Like I said: I hate them for me. A white, puffy dress that looks like belongs in the 18th century does nothing for me. It’s uncomfortable, it’s too white, and you can’t drink your coffee comfortably for fear of not spilling and ruining the day, and on a terribly short person like me it looks ridiculous!

And I never understood why women want to look like in a masquerade ball on their wedding day! It’s the beginning of your new life: will you look like a jester in your new life? Or will you look like you, every day?! I want to be me. Me, at my utmost. And I am never me if I am uncomfortable.

A guy can wear a suit, which is something they (some) wear every day. Women have to wear “gowns” and not breathe during their wedding. Now, I have an issue with that! It’s a principle issue here! Somehow, what’s good for the gander … you know what I mean! And yes, I know this is a minority’s point of view. But it happens to be mine.

So here I am, hating all this, and trying to put together the wedding and buying the dress for it … I have managed to keep the wedding the way I have always wanted: small and symbolic, not huge and blurry. But the dress is giving me nightmares! For the millionth time, people in Retail, I do not want a GOWN! No gown! No puff! No train! No lace! NO! NO! NO! I want a dress I would not wear to work, so a little bit more chic than that, yet comfortable, as if I could wear it anywhere. I don’t want to be afraid to sit, or stand in it, I don’t want underwear showing, nor have to lose 10 lbs to fit in it. I want it simple, elegant, small and HERE! NOW!

And finding a white or an off-white or a black-and-white dress that’s my size has been virtually impossible! I find the right cut in the wrong color everywhere. Always the wrong size, but I have even stooped low (for the budget oriented me) and talked myself into alterations … I am a nervous wreck ! I dream about wearing nothing on the big day but a rain coat! I have nightmares that my dead grandma (who was a very, very fashion-savvy seamstress and spoiled me rotten growing up because she would custom make everything I wore the way I wanted it!) is scolding me about my dress … I started to hate my stature and my body and people in retail stores.

And Holy Mother of Jesus, are those bridal stores intimidating!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You get a “consultant” (?!? – please, people, I have bought clothes before, all right?!), you have to see yourself in the mirror with 10 thousand strangers fighting for the mirror space, gawking and looking at you! And please, don’t tell me there are no petite brides left in the world! You have TWO size 2 dresses (a bit big for me, but like I said: alterations) in one cut, and one full aisle of size 18W! Really??? That’s what most of the brides out there wear?! Oy!

And the prices! Oh, Lord! So, you cross the aisle in the bridal gown area, you pay at least $400 for a white dress. The same dress, in yellow, across the store, for brides’ maids, is $100! I might not be a fashionista (or whatever kids say nowadays), but I know common sense!

And asking advice from your friends and family is even worse, because you don’t want to disappoint and you know you will when you’re not main stream about these things. And every one of them seems to just see herself in front of the altar when they share opinions on dresses! Has no idea that this is ME, ME- who hates weddings, ME- who hates dresses, period, ME – who hates puff, ME - who is looking for a dress! So much help is that! I am sure they mean well, and I admit I have quirky and unusual taste … but honestly – I got no help there …

I am exhausted! I am not quite sure what I’ll wear, but I can tell you – it will probably be an impulse buy once I have reached my limit. The most important thing about the wedding is that I have the right man. And that’s a definite. And I know he is the right man because he, also agrees with me on “small wedding and a comfy and simple dress”. And also like me, he doesn’t believe in what “you should wear on your wedding day”, but in “wear what you want. Always.”. So, I’ve got my mainstay for the wedding. Everything else, including the dress, is just haphazard!

Thank you, everyone, but mostly Aa., for putting up with my extra-neurotic self these days…

Monday, February 08, 2010

Super Bowl 1,2,3

I remember to this day how I found out about the Super Bowl. I was on my first Transatlantic flight from Europe, on January 19, 1998. The guy next, to me, Sari, and I struck up a conversation and he was introducing me to American culture, as he, as an Indian immigrant, had learned it. So, he told me: “In a couple of weeks, there is a big American celebration. It’s called the Super Bowl Sunday. And they show on tv the final game of the NFL (that’s American football) game. People get together, have food, and it’s a big party. You’ll like it”. I have no clue what I did for my first Super Bowl. In fact, I have no clue what I did for the first four of them or so … After those years, I have always tried to do something: get together with friends, or strangers, go out on my own at a Sports bar and just enjoy the atmosphere and the food and just watch it, what have you.

I still don’t agree with Sari that it’s a “big American celebration”, certainly not like Fourth of July and Thanksgiving are! But it is something, I tell ya, definitely a reason to get together over snacks and cheap beer, a time where all the living rooms of America feel like a live stadium!

It’s a day where even people that have no clue about football (like yours truly) or never watch it for a minute during the year (same yours truly) become a fan of some team, for some reason. All of a sudden, things make sense to me on the field, and I know what going on. Most of anything: I know who should win! Usually, “my team” never wins!

This year, there was not get together and no going out to feel the adrenaline rush of others at the sports bars of Greensboro for me. I watched it from my couch. Alone. Well, with the cats. And when you’re alone, your mind works, and comes up with totally useless things to ponder on. I have three notes to make about The Super Bowl.

1.0 What in the world are they ever going to do when Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen all the Rolling Stones and The Who and all the other old bands of Europe and America are going to all die?!?! Who is going to play the half time show? Pray tell me? Since “the Janet” incident ( I have been watching this show for new stuff and nothing. Same thing goes for the Grammys, really: if U2, Dave Matthews, Bon Jovi, can’t or won’t play anymore, we’re in trouble, people!

So, bring up all your advanced tech, 21st century special effects commercials during the Super Bowl, we’re still stuck in the 60’s at half time! I am all for variety, and I really love the 60’s, but it does say something about the current music status – if you can’t “trust” a decent music (not exhibitionistic, cheap and mediocre and nothing but noise) band to do the job. What are the kids supposed to relate to at half time? Oh, that’s right, they’re texting during that time. I forgot! *eyeroll*.

2.0 And speaking of commercials. And of America. For the life of me, I cannot understand why overall, the entire American population (regardless of sex, age, background etc) flips through commercials all year round, and tunes in by millions to watch them at the Super Bowl. They even invented tv systems where you can fast forward through them, during the year. You folks realize that the advertiser is after the same thing both times, right? Folks tell me “oh, the Super Bowl ones are good!”. Really? Maybe I have worked in marketing and I am jaded, but to me a commercial is a commercial. I see good, even outstanding, commercials during the year, too, that are clever, and deliver the message with clarity, while they are fun and creative. Take the e-trade commercials, for instance. Not sure if they premiered on a Super Bowl night, but they have played for years, and they are awesome. Same thing with In my opinion. For years, I fail to see the humor, the (extra) brains or the attraction in Super Bowl commercials at all. I did have a favorite this year, and as all the feeds in the nation proved it today, I was not the only one. It was, of course, the Doritos commercial with the little boy! But it didn’t kick it out of the ball park for me. It was just a clever (and cute) commercial. Period. And yes, I knew that was another sport!

As for the others, I never understand why year after year, we have the same sponsors, too, at The Super Bowl: Coke,, Budweiser, and! If this is such an “American celebration”, what does this say about America?! We love sugary drinks, we’re constantly looking for jobs, we love cheap beer, and we would like our website to be hosted by a hooker! After a thorough consideration, that is not such a crooked picture after all, I guess.

3.0 The third note I had was more of a personal nature! I am thinking looking for a party on Super Bowl might not be such a good idea after all. Not that I am a snack hog or anything, but when you watch it alone, there is plenty of double dipping allowed in the salsa! Oh, yeah!

Oh, and “my team” won this year, too! That’s double pleasure, I guess.

Anyway, I am glad it’s over, so now people can close the “Holidays” chapter and start buying homes, as they say, and another American myth I am testing. It’s what I am waiting for next, anyway.

And the Super Bowl 2010 commercial that made me chuckle