Archive for the ‘Just For Fun’ Category

The Lunch Gods

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

In a happy turn of events our good friend Robert* who used to work at the same company as GAP now works at the same company as I do.  Robert has been a friend of ours for many years, but as GAP’s colleague the two of them had spent significantly more time together and had developed a pretty finely tuned lunchtime routine.  Now that Robert and I are in the same neck of the woods we are finding a periodic lunch routine of our own.  However, Robert has some very specific ideas about when lunch should be scheduled and he is doing his best to train me.

I crossed some sort of invisible line a couple of times by IM-ing him at 11:25 asking, “Hey, do you have lunch plans?”  He always did and I was on my own.  No harm, no foul.  But he took the opportunity to explain to me that he “takes lunch seriously” and doesn’t plan it at the last minute.  So another time I messaged him for lunch “later in the week” and was confused when he said he didn’t want to commit to plans so far in advance.   I left all future lunch plans in Robert’s hands, as I was clearly not up to speed on his rules.

Then last week he explained to me how one should go about planning lunch.  (It’s a miracle I’ve made it this far in life…)  Per Robert’s Rules of Lunch, prime lunch-planning time is between 9:45 and 10:30.  You do your part to corral a group, and if the group doesn’t materialize then you don’t force it.  You have to leave it to the lunch gods.  On that particular day I was excited at the potential that GAP might join us for lunch and mentioned to Robert that I planned to call GAP to see if he would be able to make it.  I was shut down – instructed not to push it.  As it turned out, GAP was not able to make it and I was disappointed.  But Robert told me to trust in the lunch gods; that sometimes plans fall apart and you think you’ve been hung out to dry and then the lunch gods pull through with something better than you could have planned yourself.

The lunch gods pulled through.  I was still disappointed that GAP couldn’t come, but because he had to bail we also bailed on our plans to meet at the nearby Indian buffet.  This meant as we were driving to a nearby Five Guys we drove past a little dive-ish looking Thai place and Robert mentioned in passing was good.  ”I could go for some Thai,” I said, because good Thai can be hard to come by in this part of the country, so we flipped a U and went back.  And let me tell you, everything about that lunch hit the spot.  It was a gorgeous day and we were able to snag an outdoor table.  The service was good and my yellow curry was great.  Robert’s Pad Thai was also terrific.  We had great conversation, and it was a great outing.  Robert was quick to point out that the lunch gods had in fact pulled through.

This whole zen philosophy of the lunch gods does not necessarily prompt a paradigmatic shift in my approach to making plans, but it is a good reminder.  For someone who a planner by nature, there is something to be said for letting things unfold without manipulation.  There is something to be said for giving chance, fate, the lunch gods, what have you, to get a word in edgewise and turn the tables in unforeseen and delightful ways.

I’m sure the lunch gods won’t always pull through.  There will be plenty of days when I end up getting a veggie burger in the company cafeteria.  But if I give them the chance the lunch gods will show up from time to time, and I will be glad that Robert taught me how to listen for their call.

*Not his real name.

Christmas Tree Karma

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

They gave us the wrong tree.

We picked out a tree that was about eight feet tall, very full, and needed a bit of pruning at the top.  When we got home the tree that we saw when we put it up was also about eight feet tall, but was very slim in silhouette, and not especially burdened by a profusion of branches.  (Read: a little on the scrawny side.)  GAP and I looked at each other and jointly decided to make our peace with this tree, mostly because loading it back atop ye olde SUV, carting it back to the tree lot, and having to pick out another tree all over again was really more than we could muster.  “It will look better when it’s trimmed,” we told ourselves.  And for the most part we were right.

This was not our first misadventure with this particular tree lot.  And, truth be told, we’ve had some bad tree karma coming our way for a while.  Frankly, I’m surprised it took nine years for it to make its way back to us.

In 2003 GAP and I were engaged.  He was living with a good friend (we’ll call him Matt) who was also in graduate school.  I was living alone a few miles away in an apartment that I would soon share with Matt’s fiance (we’ll call her Carrie).  The boys’ apartment was huge (and drafty…) with ten-foot ceilings that practically begged for a large tree.  We wanted something that would scrape the ceiling, but in the interest of pinching pennies (I was “underemployed” at the time, and the other three were all living off of student loans) we settled for an eight foot tree.

At the conclusion of our joint trip to the tree lot (run by the local Optimist Club, I should note) Carrie went into the little tent where the cashier’s desk resided.  She told the very cheerful and very old man that we had picked an eight foot tree.  He gave her the price and she wrote him a check.  It wasn’t until we were back at the apartment decorating said tree that we realized we’d ripped the sweet old man off.

“You know, I was really surprised at how cheap our tree was,” Carrie told us.

“Really?” we asked.  “How much was it?”

“Eight dollars and 64 cents,” she said.


“Yeah.  I was shocked too, but he asked how tall it was and when I told him eight feet he said, ‘eight-sixty-four.’”

At that point we all did the math and realized what the man meant was, “An eight-foot tree is sixty-four dollars.”  The Optimists, like most other lots charge by the foot.  At eight dollars a foot we had shorted him roughly $56 dollars.  We thought about going back and paying the difference.  Then we looked at our figuratively turned-out pockets and thought again.

In return for our inadvertent stunt we swore loyalty to the Optimists for all future tree purchases.  And we’ve never bought a tree from anyone else.  I think about this story every year.  (It is better if you know Carrie, who is truly one of the kindest and most honorable people I’ve ever known.)  And I thought about it again this year when I told the sweet, old man that we’d selected an eight-foot tree and he said, “Eight-seventy-six.”

I don’t really have a moral to this story.  It’s just a story that I like to tell.  It makes me feel some connection to an otherwise pretty generic tree lot.  And it makes me think of a wonderful time in our lives that we were fortunate to share with some very dear friends who have since moved out of state, and whom we miss very much.  When you get right down to it, I think that’s a lot of what Christmas is supposed to be.  Not so much the ripping off of charitable organizations headed up by senior citizens.  But acknowledgment of all the good in our lives, and fond memories of Christmases past.

Christmas is a happy time for us.  And we are very lucky that it is.

A Well Informed Electorate

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

This is sort of a cheat post because I’m getting ready for much of my extended family to start getting into town to celebrate SSP’s first birthday.  But I had a thought that piqued my interest, and I’m curious about your perspective.

I was chatting with my sister the other day who mentioned that she’d just dropped her ballot into the mail.  She lives in Oregon, which is one of two states that permits voting by mail.  Ballots are mailed to the homes of registered voters about three weeks prior to an election, at which point voters fill them out and return them either by mail, or at a designated drop-off location.  She mentioned in passing that voting by mail has facilitated some of the most informed voting she’s done.

While voting by mail doesn’t necessarily change how she might vote for a race as big as the presidency, it has a lot of impact on how she votes in local elections and on various ballot initiatives.  Rather than showing up at the poll, finding herself unfamiliar with various propositions, and then not voting on them, she reads them on her mailed ballot, researches them, and then casts her vote.  I find this to be a wonderful antidote to so much of the uninformed voting that I suspect goes on.

I wonder, though, if this “do your homework” approach is just a quirk of my sister’s.  She’s a highly academic person with a strong proclivity for studies of all kinds.  So it’s not surprising that she would go about it this way.  But would you?  Do you think your votes would be better informed if elections were conducted as a take-home, open-book exam, rather than a pop quiz?

Thunder Up!

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

Do you know what tonight is?  Do you?  Tonight is the first game of the NBA Finals.  And guess what has two thumbs and actually cares?  This girl!  That’s right, boys and girls.  Gale, who has never cared a nit about professional basketball in her entire life has become an avid fan in the past three weeks.

Why this new and unbridled enthusiasm?  I’ll tell you.  One of the teams in the NBA Finals is the Oklahoma City Thunder.  That’s right.  One of the teams in the Finals is from my home state.  It’s a Christmas miracle!

This is a big deal to me because Oklahoma had never had a professional sports team until the Thunder (formerly the SuperSonics) up and relocated from Seattle four years ago.  (Because, really, when you pit those two cities against each other, OKC wins every time, right?)  And I’ll be perfectly honest and tell you that until the Thunder started plowing their way through the playoffs I still wasn’t paying much attention.  But in the past couple of weeks being from Oklahoma has been really fun.  We’re doing something well!  The nation is watching!  And my home state is making us all proud!

GAP says this now-that-they’re-in-the-Finals-I’ll-be-a-fan approach is what they call, um, er, “jumping on the bandwagon,” but I don’t care.  It’s not often that a girl gets to be proud of being from Oklahoma.  I have a lot of affection for my home state because it is my home state.  But in recent years it seems I’m usually making some sort of half-hearted apology for it, rather than walking around proclaiming my heritage.  (Incidents like this one and this one are to blame.)  These past few weeks, though?  I’ve claimed it with pride.  Along with all of my other fellow Okies, I’m ready to “Thunder Up!”

However, amidst planning Game 1 viewing parties and reading about how Kevin Durant made “the leap,” I’ve also given some thought to fair-weather fandom.  As many of you know, I’m a huge Cardinals baseball fan; a from birth Cardinals fan.  That’s usually pretty easy though.  The Cards are an amazing franchise with a storied history and some incredible seasons in recent years.  Being a Cards fan is a lot of fun.  (Moreso than, say, being a Cubs fan…)  But I know a lot of people who slog through one after another losing season because they are loyal to their team.  And I don’t knock that.  It’s hard core and it takes faith and humility in vast quantities.  But I am here to say that I think there’s no shame in jumping on the bandwagon of a winning team.

Sports, when you get down to their essence, are games.  ”I’ll bet I can throw more balls into this bushel basket than you can.”  We play them and watch them because they are fun.  Sure, in today’s world they are huge industries too.  But once upon a time they were all merely pastimes played for amusement.  Despite whatever extent to which our identities may be wrapped up in our teams, I think we should always be able to participate in sports – either as a player or a fan – just for fun.  And if that means riding the coattails of a winning team, then so be it.

Obviously, I hope the Thunder win the NBA title.  But more than anything, I hope I have a lot of fun watching the games.  I’m here for a good time.  No more.  No less.  So bring on the pizza and Cokes and cheers and jeers.  I have a team and I’m loving my view from the bandwagon.  Thunder up!!!

And Now With a Dose of Reality…

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

I’m pleased to introduce, once again, my sister Anne.  These days she’s writing for Heart of Gold Girls, which is a wonderful site dedicated to helping girls pursue their goals.  She’s guest posted here once before and can always be counted on for a thoughtful and/or pithy response to popular culture.  In conjunction with the hundredth anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic Hollywood is all a-twitter with the 3D re-release of Titanic the movie.  Anne was quite the fan of the movie when it was released, and today she’s here to provide her view of the film as someone who has successfully survived adolescence.  Thanks, Anne!

I was a part of the demographic that made Titanic an international success.  I wish I were the demographic that flocked to an edgier, more hip groundbreaking film.  Pulp Fiction, perhaps.  But nope.  In 1997 I was a cliché with no shame who saw Titanic 5 times in the theater.

I could defend myself.  I could tell you, for instance, that despite its totally lame dialogue, Titanic restored the grand tradition of epic films a la Doctor Zhivago or Gone with the Wind. But who am I kidding?  I spent over 16 hours of my life seeing Titanic on the big screen for primarily 3 reasons…

  1. The love story
  2. Leonardo DiCaprio in a tux
  3. Kate Winslet’s clothes

But how about today?  Does Titanic hold up over time for this former swooning 17-year-old?  In an article for The Huffington Post, a kindred Titanic groupie saw the 3D version, and compared her thoughts while viewing the movie at age 12 to her thoughts as a now 26-year-old.  I haven’t seen the 3D version yet, but I popped in my VHS(!!!) copy of Titanic the other day so I could do a similar comparison.  Here are my thoughts:

Age 17: I wish people still dressed like that.
Age 32: Kate Winslet looks uncomfortable in those corsets.

Age 17: I wish I had red hair the color of Rose’s.
Age 32: I hope my daughter ends up having red in her hair. My ship has sailed.

Age 17: Leonardo DiCaprio is hot.
Age 32:  Thanks a lot, Titanic. Because Leo was stalked by teenage girls after Titanic came out, he never played heartthrobs after that. Please, oh please, let the new Great Gatsby be as good as I want it to be. Maybe he’ll be pretty again. No more J Edgar please.

Age 17: Jack seems kinda nerdy when he shouts about being “King of the World”.
Age 32: Good instincts, “Anne-at-17”.  It was indeed nerdy. Your cringe was worthy.

Age 17: I just love Kathy Bates; she’s so nice and friendly.
Age 32: Kathy Bates is always a hoot! Should I start watching Harry’s Law? Nah.

Age 17: I hope I meet a wandering artist someday and have a wild fling.
Age 32: How on earth do they think they’re going to travel the world if they’re broke?

Age 17: Jack is so fun-loving, getting Rose to dance an Irish jig!
Age 32: Jack can pull it off, but Rose looks like a doofus dancing that faux jig.

Age 17: Eeek!  Kate Winslet is really gutsy to show her breasts like that!
Age 32: Clearly Kate Winslet had not nursed any babies when she shot this movie.

Age 17: Ugh, I have to watch the ship sink now.  The good stuff is over.
Age 32: Oh god, I forgot they killed off that old couple in bed together.  I can’t watch.

Age 17:  Why doesn’t Jack try harder to climb on that friggin’ board?
Age 32:  Why doesn’t Jack try harder to climb on that friggin’ board?*

Age 17: What a dramatic gesture throwing that necklace into the ocean!
Age 32: Throwing that necklace in the ocean served no purpose whatsoever. It ticks me off.

Age 17:  I must buy the soundtrack.
Age 32:  Did I really buy that soundtrack that sounded like Enya but wasn’t Enya?

And, with that, I need to find someone willing to go see it with me again in 3D.

*I’m with the Huffington Post on this one…

Did you love Titanic or hate it?  Leo-lover?  Am I alone in thinking James Cameron should find a screenwriter and stick with the special effects?

Going Crazy. Keeping Calm

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

In Britain in 2009 the saying “Keep calm and carry on” was everywhere.  I don’t really know what the genesis was, but it was officially a “thing.”  Since then the saying has been adapted countless ways (my favorite is “Keep calm and act like Kate Middleton”), and my sister found an ironic take on the phrase on a greeting card.  She snatched it up and waited for the right opportunity to send it.

Knowing full well that SSP is slowly killing me with all these overnight feedings, she decided I was the most appropriate recipient.  So last night, after kids were tucked in and my belly was full of risotto and ice cream I opened the mail and found this card from her.

Since we started SSP on cereal last weekend she wrote that she hoped that by the time I received her card he’d be sleeping through the night.  And if not, she recommended that I follow the advice on the front of her card.  It lightened my mood instantly.

Then, in a happy twist of fate last night SSP only woke up once.  Imagine it!  Today I only feel somewhat sleep deprived, which is a vast improvement over incredibly sleep deprived.  Things are really looking up!

So, in response to Anne’s very apt mailing, I created a poster of my own which I think perfectly encapsulates my approach to life these days:

Thanks, Anne.  As always, you know just how to lift my spirits!  I love you.

Missing the Anticipation

Monday, March 5th, 2012

If you know me at all in real life, you know I’m a fan of Tivo.  (Or, more accurately in my case, DVR.  But as far as I’m concerned “Tivo” is to digitally recorded video as “Kleenex” is to facial tissue… But I digress.)  GAP was the one pushing it when we climbed aboard the Tivo bandwagon several years ago.  But today I am the bigger evangelist.  I love the thing.

Perhaps this has quite a bit to do with life as a parent of young children.  I’ve heard my parents say many times that they have no idea what pop culture was doing in the ’80s because they were busy raising children.  I suspect that the same lot would have befallen me were it not for the magic of Tivo.  (Because really, who has time to set a VCR to record anything that isn’t earth shatteringly important?)  It is because of the magic “record” button on our remote that I am even slightly up to speed on current television shows.  Nevertheless, I am about to bite the hand that feeds me.

I miss the anticipation of watching shows in real time.

I remember in college how we all looked forward to congregating in dormitory and frat house rooms to watch Friends after dinner.  I remember one sorority sister who amazed her suite-mates because she was able to shower within the time span of a commercial break.  (Remember commercials?)  I recall that in my early twenties I made sure to leave Wednesday nights open so that I could watch The West Wing as it aired, and phone GAP (we did the long distance thing for a couple of years) as soon as it ended to rehash it.  The only show that I’ve watched in real time since we got Tivo was LOST and that was only because the suspense from week to week was completely unbearable (and because it conveniently started well after IEP’s bedtime).

I started thinking about all this because it occurred to me the other day that I don’t even know which days of the week some of my favorite shows air.  I think How I Met Your Mother is still on Mondays.  But The Big Bang Theory may have been moved.  Thursdays, perhaps?  And my favorite show of the moment, New Girl (“… really any type of chut-en-y“)?  I have no idea when it’s on.  That didn’t use to be the case.  Even today, 25-ish years later I can tell you that The Wonder Years aired on Tuesdays and The Cosby Show aired on Thursdays.

I miss getting excited about a new episode of a favorite show.  I miss looking forward to it.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love that I can sit down on nearly any evening and at least one of the shows I like is magically waiting for me to watch in my own time.  Because honestly, were that not the case, I’d miss most of it.  Still, though, there’s something a little isolating about it.

When everyone can watch a show at their own convenience almost no one watches it in real time.  (Sports are the obvious exception here.)  And when no one watches it in real time that collective, water-cooler moment the next day is substantially diluted.

None of this is breaking news.  But sometimes I notice little cultural phenomena and feel compelled to comment.  I have fond memories of looking forward to some of my past favorite shows each week.  A working mother of two young kids doesn’t really have the bandwidth to set her clock by the TV Guide anyway.  But I still miss the subtle excitement of the bygone time when I could.

The Makings of a Super Bowl Halftime Act

Monday, February 6th, 2012

“Madonna?  Really?  They couldn’t get somebody more current?” I asked.

“There aren’t really any big rock stars anymore.  None of the current people could carry it.”

“But isn’t she over 50?”  I asked.  (Fifty-two, it turns out.)

“Yeah, but she’s definitely a big enough star.”

This conversation between GAP and me went back and forth for a few minutes.  He contended that today’s Top 40 artists just don’t have the star power or gravitas to headline a Super Bowl halftime show.  He conceded that a few of my suggestions were valid – Lady Gaga, Beyonce, and Justin Timberlake (though lately you’re more likely to see Justin on a movie screen than hear him on your weekly countdown).  But beyond those three, I agreed, it was hard to come up with someone who had a substantial enough reputation to carry the weight of the performance.

But why is this?  The music industry is still cranking out hits.  We’re still buying their music.  I still turn on the radio almost every time I get into the car.  I wonder what’s wrong with today’s stars.  And yet there’s something about, “And now your Super Bowl Halftime show starring TAYLOR SWIFT!!!!” that just doesn’t quite do it for me.

Out of curiosity we Googled the recent halftime acts.  For the past ten years they have been:

  • 2011 – Black-Eyed Peas, Usher, and Slash
  • 2010 – The Who
  • 2009 – Bruce Springsteen
  • 2008 – Tom Petty
  • 2007 – Prince
  • 2006 – The Rolling Stones
  • 2005 – Paul McCartney
  • 2004 – Janet Jackson, P. Diddy, Nelly, Kid Rock, and Justin Timberlake
  • 2003 – Shania Twain, No Doubt, and Sting
  • 2002 – U2
  • 2001 – Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Aerosmith, N’Sync, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, and Nelly

The sweeping majority of these were nostalgia acts.  But why?  Not everyone who watches the Super Bowl is over 45.  In fact, it’s probably got the most diverse demographic of viewers of anything on television.  Young, old, rich, poor, male and female.  There is very little filter.  So why the trips down rock and roll’s memory lane?

My theory is this: Madonna wasn’t always Madonna. Twenty-five years ago she was a punk girl from Michigan with bleached hair, lace gloves, and a dream of making it really big.  It took a long time for her to become the legend that she is today.  Twenty years from now Katy Perry may be an intergenerational pop music icon.  But for now she’s a cute girl with a string of hits.  We’ll have to wait and see what her staying power is like.  It takes a bigger and more lasting career than most “of the moment” stars have to offer.

The other reason I think most of these acts are a generation old?  Remember what I said about the Super Bowl being the great demographic equalizer?  The event planners have to cater to a huge range of people.  If they put Katy Perry up there my mother would say, “Who’s the girl with the blue hair?” and head into the kitchen for some friendly chit-chat between halves.  But even your average 12-year-old knows who Madonna is, and might stick around to watch.

I think it would be a fascinating job choosing the Super Bowl halftime act.  Who’s big enough and has broad enough appeal?  Who is available and whom can we afford to pay?  Which songs from their catalog will they play?  And so on.  Usually I just sit there and eat more guacamole while I watch.  But last night I started thinking about the strategery behind it all and it got interesting.


A Little Bit About Myself – Part 2

Friday, September 16th, 2011

Last year on my birthday I broke away from my usual M.O. and instead of writing about my thoughts and reflections on some topic that had been on my mind, I wrote about myself.  Given the introspection afforded by pregnancy, I’ve been writing about myself more than usual lately.  Nevertheless, I thought I’d carry the tradition forward this year and provide a few more fun facts about myself.

So, without further ado, here is a little list of things about me, which you may not have already known.

  1. As a rule my hair isn’t thick enough to let it get very long.  However, it gets very thick when I’m pregnant, so I’m currently growing it out because this is my one chance for it to get long enough to donate.  I’ll chop it all off right after the baby is born.
  2. Because I plan to donate it, I haven’t colored my hair in almost a year.  I’ve been surprised at how much I like my natural color, but also surprised at the number of grey hairs I’ve had to pluck.
  3. I can’t wait for the weather to cool off enough for me to start roasting marshmallows over the stove after dinner each night.
  4. When I was pregnant with IEP we found out that we had a colony of bats living in our attic.  It was one of the creepiest experiences I’ve ever had.  I don’t recommend it.  (Thankfully none ever got into the house.)
  5. When I was a kid my favorite birthday dinner menu was macaroni and cheese with little smokies.  I still love macaroni and cheese, although my penchant for tiny sausages has faded.
  6. Lately it isn’t uncommon for me to go to work with stickers of Sesame Street, Dora the Explorer, or sporting equipment stuck to my body.  They are IEP’s rewards for successfully using the toilet and when the novelty of the poster on the back of his door wore off he decided that it was fun to stick them on me.  I love looking down and seeing his little imprint on me all day at work.
  7. I haven’t read a single book since June.  I find it highly embarrassing, but I just don’t have it in me right now.
  8. All summer long I’ve resisted the temptation to try McDonald’s swirly frozen lemonade concoction because I feared I’d get addicted and didn’t want to worry myself with all the extra calories and sugar.  But now that fall is setting in I think it’s safe to try it because I suspect it will be going off the menu soon anyway.
  9. Over the summer I replaced loose powder and pressed blush with tinted moisturizer and cream rouge and I don’t think I’ll ever go back.
  10. I am incredibly curious about this baby, what kind of a kid he’ll be, and how he’ll be similar to or different from his brother.
  11. The picture above was taken as part of a larger family photo shoot in May.  By the end of it IEP’s face was completely covered in red dye.  Those pictures of him are some of my all-time favorites.
  12. Every day on my right hand I wear a white gold and diamond ring from Tiffany that I won in a classical radio station raffle drawing when I was 25.  I actually won a watch, but I was able to exchange it for the ring.  I get complimented on it a fair amount and I love telling the story of how I got it.
  13. I’ve been feeling pretty good about myself lately because people keep telling me that I’m a cute pregnant person.  But I always have to confess that they haven’t watched me try to put on socks.
  14. My favorite Jewish holiday (I’m not Jewish) is Sukkot.  I love going for walks in the evening and seeing all the Jewish families out enjoying one another’s company.  It makes me feel good about things even though it’s not a part of my own culture.
  15. I have no idea how I came up with 33 entries for this list last year.  I’m calling it quits for now and will add to the list throughout the day.
  16. Was one of my favorite birthdays.  Getting my drivers license was great, but I have especially fond memories of my birthday party.  My dad took me and several girlfriends on a camping trip and it was one of the most fun parties I had as a kid.
  17. I haven’t ridden a horse in more than a year and that makes me kind of sad. 
  18. I still have all of my wisdom teeth, but I’ve only ever had three.  The fourth never came in.
  19. Not usually one for extensive retail therapy, since I was about five months pregnant I’ve had the insatiable urge to go shopping.  I think there’s something about not being able to shop that’s making me want it.  I’ve mostly placated myself with shoes, but I think I may go on a little bit of a bender come spring.   
  20. When eating out I almost always order dessert, and I almost never order a chocolate option.  I will go for something caramel or fruit based over something chocolate every time.  Bread pudding, tarte tatin, berry cobbler, here I come.  Flourless chocolate cake, you do nothing for me.
  21. The one exception to my general disinterest in chocolate is a chocolate bundt cake that is made from a spruced up devil’s food cake mix that other people go nuts for, and which I never grow tired of.
  22. I worry that lists like this are completely indulgent and self-absorbed, but I make them anyway because I love reading them about other people.

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Monday, July 18th, 2011

If you are a 10-ish-year-old boy named Will from St. Louis, the whole “back to school” affair that’s coming up in a few weeks just got a lot more exciting.  The end of day camps, and cannon balls, and chasing down the ice cream truck are about to draw down for the year.  I suspect this would be a huge letdown for most little boys.  And perhaps it will be for Will too.  But when Will goes back to school next month he will likely be asked, in front of all his classmates, what he did on his summer vacation.

Will will sit patiently while he listens to stories of grandma’s house and Disney World and beach trips from his classmates.  And when it is his turn Will will stand up and say, “I danced on stage with Bono in front of 56,00 people.”  And with that statement Will wins the summer vacation sweepstakes.   (Assuming, of course, that Will’s pint-sized classmates grasp how unlikely and how awesome such an event is…)  I’m pretty sure nothing tops that.

I think we have defining moments in our lives.  For most of us they include things like wedding days, childbirth, professional conquests, and sometimes tragedy.  But many of us also have little moments of fortune that create huge memories.  Things like catching a home run fly ball, or winning the science fair, or getting pulled up onstage by Bono for the better part of “City of Blinding Lights.”

I don’t know what kind of impression his rock star treatment will leave on young Will.  I know that I was beyond excited on his behalf.  I know that I will remember him walking around that stage with Bono holding his hand.  I know that it was an experience that millions of people around the world might dream of, but that Will himself may not understand that for a number of years.

But that’s the thing about these defining moments: what is pivotal for one person may not be for another.  We all interact with the world in our own ways, and are impacted by things differently.  That’s part of what makes life so interesting.  Will may go on to have an astounding life in which an onstage appearance with Bono is merely a footnote.  Or he may think back on that moment filled with adrenaline and excitement for the rest of his life.  I’ll never know.  But today I’m thinking back on some of the more pivotal moments in my life, and they are making me smile.