Saturday, November 27, 2010

Geek Fashion

Oh, the things you can find when you have six hours to kill in an airport. There I was in Toronto Pearson International Airport, on my return trip home from a fabulous two weeks in Paris. Perusing scarves, magazines, souvenir coffee cups and makeshift hockey paraphernalia when I came upon it...just the coolest thing, ever.

The Sock Monkey cap! I tried it on. Admired myself in the mirror. Oh, tres chic! I had to have it. My 19-year old niece, however, was of another opinion.

"Oh Aunt Elly," she groaned, shaking her head. "You are SO never going to find a date wearing that thing."

As if to punctuate her prediction, at that very moment a nice looking guy walked by the shop and glanced at me in my headgear. When we made eye contact, he rolled his eyes, shook his head and smiled, the universal language for, "Lady, you are SO never going to find a date wearing that thing."

Didn't care and didn't matter. I couldn't wait to make my purchase and bring home my coveted cap. Which I did, and which I now wear every frosty night while walking my dogs.

Love me, love my Sock Monkey cap. And if he doesn't? Well, he's probably not my type anyway.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Trunk Full of Turkeys and Hearts Made of Gold

So there I was last night, enjoying an impromptu invitation to join friends for dinner at this cozy little Italian bistro near my home. We were all in a pretty joyous mood, laughing, sharing our Thanksgiving plans, and just relishing the deliciousness of friendship embellished with a tasty meal.

However, my three friends were just a tad more giddy than the occasion might warrant. In fact, it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that they were bordering on being deliriously happy. Okay, so yeah, I'm a ton o' fun to be around, but really folks, you're making me blush.

Then I learned the reason behind their high spirits.

On Tuesday, the trio went to Safeway and purchased 16 turkeys. Then, after learning just how many turkeys can be squeezed in one 4-door sedan, they delivered the fowl goods to Second Harvest Food Bank in San Jose. Thanks to my friends, more than 100 homeless people will enjoy a traditional turkey dinner today.

But that's not all.

Then, my friends rolled up their sleeves and devoted all of Wednesday to baking cookies. A lot of cookies. Chocolate chip. Peanut butter. Oatmeal raisin, White chocolate macadamia, toffee bars, Christmas spritz cookies, Ginger snaps and brownies. When they were cooked (both the cookies and the chefs), they consolidated the sweet treats in little baggies, tied each one with a cheery custom-made "Happy Holiday" greeting tag, and made another delivery: this one to Open Heart Soup Kitchen in Pleasanton.

On this Thanksgiving Day, I'm especially grateful to know people like these three, who helped deliver Thanksgiving to the less fortunate. Or people like my other friend, who remembered our four-legged friends with her generous jaw-dropping donation to an animal rescue shelter.

I don't think it's bragging to say that my friends make the world a better place. They certainly make my world better.

Making every day, indeed, a day for giving thanks.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Am I Forgetting Something?

Certain memories are burned in my brain, and one biggie is the first time I ever saw the Eiffel Tower.

It was late November, 2006 and I was visiting my good friends, Deb and Richard, who were spending a month in the City of Lights on business. One foggy evening we were in a cab driving to something that I'm sure involved cheese and wine, and I was peering out the window trying to absorb as much as I could in spite of the fog. Suddenly, voila! There it was. Emerging from the mist, right in front of me, was that iconic symbol of Paris ablaze in twinkling lights. It truly took my breath away.

And it was just as awesome the second time I saw it this past September. In fact, my best friend, Pam, and I were at the Eiffel Tower and one of 2000 people evacuated when a bomb threat was phoned in. Another memory definitely etched in my brain.

So last week I'm flipping through an old photo album circa 1992, perusing pictures of my various travels: there I am climbing Chichen Itza in Cancun, Mexico; slinging back a Guinness in Cork, Ireland; plugging my ears next to Big Ben in London, England; posing on the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France; hiking a muddy trail in Quito, Ecuador and floating on a gondola in Venice, Ita....

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Back up.

I took a double-take, not quite believing my eyes. But sure enough, there it was. Or rather, there I was, wearing post-1980s quarterback shoulder pads and big hair, posing next to the Eiffel Tower. On the Eiffel Tower. Underneath the Eiffel Tower. Near the Eiffel Tower.

I had obviously seen the freakin' Eiffel Tower.

And not for the first time in 2006 as I thought, but in 1992. And yet, I have no memory of it whatsoever. Nada, zip, zilch. None. It's not like I had experienced a temporary coma or was slipped a roofie. I distinctly remember that day trip from the cruise I was on: strolling cobblestone streets, drinking coffee in an outdoor cafe, checking out designer stores and bakery shops, absorbing the city's amazing ambiance.

But that big pointy thing with the twinkling lights? Hmmm, seems to have slipped my mind.

This makes me wonder: what else might I be forgetting?

Did I forget about getting married or having kids ? I've always wanted to try bungee-jumping, but heck, maybe I already have. The idea of me as a flaming redhead has intrigued me, but for all I know, been there, done that. And I like the idea behind Mormon polygamy, with one husband sharing several sister-wives (you take him tonight, sis. I feel like soaking in a candle-lit tub with a glass of wine), but it could be that I already have a dozen sister-wives packed away somewhere. Wondering why their sister-wife with the flaming red hair has skipped her turn at Friday night dinners for the past ten years.

Maybe she's spent this time doing memorable things, like bungee-jumping off the Eiffel Tower. Not that she'll remember.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Did You Hear the One About...?

Love this joke told by one of my favorite writers, David Sedaris, on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and shared with me by one of my readers (thanks Dominique):

"A man is in his house. It's late at night and he's about to go to bed when there is a knock at the door. He goes to the door and there is a snail who says, "I'd like to talk to you about buying some magazine subscriptions." The man is so furious that he kicks the snail away as hard as he can, slams the door and goes to bed.

Two years later, there's another knock at the door. He opens it up and it's the snail, and the snail says, "
What the fuck was that all about?"

WTF indeed. The answer to which I'm convinced explains most of life's mysteries.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Happiness and the World Cup (er, Series)

So I'm reading "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin, a popular book, website, blog, soon-to-be TV series and breakfast cereal prize (okay, I lied about the last one) that apparently everyone from Alaska to Zimbabwe knows about.

Except for me, that is. So much to read, so little time, and I've never been into that help-me-help-you type of stuff anyway. If you're the second person who has never heard of this book, here's the plot lifted from the inside dust jacket:

"Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon....the days are long, but the years are short...time is passing and I'm not focusing enough on the things that really matter. In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project...test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier."

The Happiness Project was a gift from my caring friend Deb, who might have been sharing a subtle concern about my current level of happiness. She knows how difficult this year has been as I mourned the sudden death of my mother (14 months later, I still choke up just writing those inconceivable words). Deb wants to see a genuine smile return to my face and I have to agree, it would feel good to feel good again. The weight of sadness can be unbearable.

To my surprise, I like the book. The author is smug at times, a little coy, but the advice she dispenses is invaluable. A lot of it is plain common sense that we already know (be polite and be fair). But apparently, in these crazy, hectic, online, plugged in, stressed out days, a reminder is in order because her happiness franchise has taken off like gangbusters.

And what's a "gangbuster" anyway? But I digress.

Anyway, I'm following her tips and trying to be a better and happier person. Not always succeeding, but at least cognizant of my actions. That's why yesterday, when I received a donation request from The Humane Society, I wrote a check. Normally at this time of year I discard these pleas because I have three different insurance premiums all due on December 1st. And right before Christmas, no less. Ouch.

But this time I remembered one of Rubin's tips, which is "be generous." And The Humane Society was my mother's favorite charity. So what if I have to budget a little more than usual? It felt good to mail that check.

Rubin's research also disclosed that "an unexpected present gives people a real boost." This was confirmed when, just hours after mailing my donation, I learned that I had won The World Series office pool. Never mind that I don't follow baseball and had, in fact, referred to the games as The World Cup. I added my dollar to the pool just to be a team player and came up an office winner.

But it felt like more. On this day I tossed out a bit of goodness and got some back in return. Unexpected, unanticipated, but delightful nonetheless.

It felt like a sign, a message from the universe telling me that it's okay to feel happy again. More importantly, it's time.
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