Archive | December, 2011

Great Expectations

29 Dec

Unlike my high school peers, I devoured Great Expectations.   Fifty-nine chapters in a three-day Dickensian binge.  Pip, Miss Havisham, Magwitch, the whole lot.  Intrigue, deception, and, yes, expectation.

We need expectation in our lives — that anticipation of something new, something better, something “more.”  It fuels our dreams, feeds our souls, and offers hope for the future.

But unreasonable expectations will crush us.

It’s getting to that time of year when we take a look at the past with an eye to the future — the would’a-could’a-should’a time.

Most of us say next year will be different.  And for most of us, it won’t.

Why?  Because our expectations exceed our ability to achieve those expectations.

We make wishes with no foundation, no basis of support.  We don’t have  reasonable expectations and a plan of action to accomplish those expectations.

Try something different this year.  Instead of making wishes, take a look at your glass.  What’s missing?  How can you fill it?  What can you do to  achieve just one realistic expectation?

Wouldn’t you like that win?

My expectation for you — and my gift to you —  is to ask you to read Max Erhmann’s Desiderata.  If you haven’t read it, read it now.  If you know it but it’s been a while, read it again.  It’s worth it.

Be gentle with yourself.  Be cheerful.  Strive to be happy.

Dutch

18 Dec

People can be remarkably candid with complete strangers.  Case in point: this recent conversation with a woman in the checkout line.

“Dutch.  He said, since it’s a first date, he wanted to go dutch, and was I okay with that?

“I said yes, that sort of made sense, but something didn’t feel right.  He asks me to dinner, then says he doesn’t want to pay for it.  What’s that all about?  He can’t afford it?  I’m not worth a $20 investment?  If he couldn’t or didn’t want to spend the money, why suggest dinner at all?”

I watched her face as she mentally processed what she was saying.  She told me about other failed relationships, and how she wasn’t quite sure where things had gone wrong, but she was tired of it, and things had to change.

There were two themes that became more apparent as she talked.  She wanted a guy who would be honest with her and not put on any pretense, and she wanted someone willing to make an investment in a potential relationship.

“Is it wrong to want that?  Is that really too much to ask?”

She didn’t really want an answer, nor did she wait for one.  She paid her bill and left.  I’ll probably never see her again.

But something important happened in that conversation.

She clearly identified her glass.  She knew how large it had to be, what she wanted in it, and, just as important…

…what she didn’t want.

Dutch.

Half-price – Update at bottom

10 Dec

I got a Groupon the other day for half-price sky diving lessons.

Yes, sky diving.  I kid you not.

Personally, I’m not  inclined to throw myself out of a fully-functioning airplane at 5,000 feet with only a tablecloth to break my fall.  But if I were, I’d want some reassurance  that I will not become a Rorschach test on asphalt.

The idea of half-price lessons — with the implied half-price instructor that goes with it — doesn’t exactly engender the kind of confidence I need when my life is on the line.

There is a lesson in here.  It could be something about not living a half-price life or a caution against having half-price confidence in yourself, or cheating yourself by using a half-price glass instead of the one you want.

But I’ve been living on half-price sleep lately, so I’ m going back to bed.

Do me a favor.  When you figure it out, tell me what is, okay?

Thanks….

PS: This just in…

Not to be outdone by their 50%-off sky diving brethren, I got a Groupon today for 51%-off trapeze lessons…

Do I hear 52?  Going once…

Hair today, goon tomorrow.

4 Dec

Success comes in the unlikeliest forms.

I have a love-hate relationship with my hair.  I love it when the stylist does it and I hate it when I can’t get it to do what the stylist did.

Obviously, the unsuccessful factor here is me.  She can do it.  I must be a  goon not to be able to manage my own hair.

It’s not like I haven’t tried.  Every time I get it done, I ask the stylist what she used, and she tells me.  Sooner or later, I follow up on those suggestions.  I’ve got curling irons, flat irons, touch-up irons, hair driers, ionic brushes, ceramic brushes, boar bristle brushes — even curlers!  And let’s not forget the gallons of goop in the form of mousses, root lifters,  sculpting gels, hair spray, and “finishing compound” which I swear belongs in the hardware store.

All to no avail.  I would never master the capricious art of coiffure.

I was success-less… until last week.

I’d gotten a cut and repeated my standard procedure.  Again, I was disappointed with my results the next day. (Note to self: remember Einstein’s definition of insanity.)

In desperation, I went to yet another stylist and finally asked the right question.  “Can you show me how to do something with this?  I don’t need a cut.  I just need some lessons on how to fix my hair.”

I give credit to my female-offspring escorts who managed to stifle themselves as the stylist looked at her oh-so-obviously ignorant client with a look that said, “You don’t deserve to have hair, you clueless old bat.”  That would be me, the clueless wonder.

She spritzed my hair, explained gently how to use a round brush, applied yet more product (which I bought, ignoring Einstein) and then said the magic words.  “Now… well, now you just play with it.”

What?

You play with it?  There’s no magic here?  No arcane master technique known only to licensed cosmeticians and drag queens?  You dry it, curl it, put some goop in it to help hold it in place, and PLAY with it?

My girls nodded.  “Yeah, Mom, you just play with it.”

I was expecting greatness and untold secrets, the wisdom of The Way™ to do my hair.  I was not expecting to be told to simply play with it.

Of course, I didn’t believe it.  But, dang, if it didn’t work!

Funny how much easier it is to find success when you’re asking the right question.  I kept asking what she used, not how she used it.

I finally used the right glass.

PS: Hair today…

M. O. U. C.

1 Dec

I had an epiphany yesterday.

An epiphany is a Moment of Unusual Clarity – with apologies to The Princess Bride, which you simply must watch for some great, campy fun.  Yes, it was a book first, but how can you resist? “Youngster” Cary Elwes (“As you wiiiiiiish”) and swashbuckling Mandy Patinkin (“You seem a decent fellow.  I hate to kill you.”) lead a stellar cast including Robin Wright (“What about the R.O.U.S.es?”),  Wallace Shawn (“You’re trying to kidnap what I’ve rightfully stolen!”),  Chris Sarandon (“I’ve got my country’s 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder…”), Christopher Guest (“You’ve been chasing me your whole life only to fail now?…How marvelous.”), and Andres the Giant (“I didn’t mean to jog him so hard.”).  And let’s not forget Miracle Max and his wife (Billy Crystal and Carol Kane)…. or a young Fred Savage (“Is this a kissing book?”) and his cantankerous granddad Peter Falk (“Keep your shirt on and let me read.”).

Now, where was I?  Oh, yes, my M. O. U. C.

Well, the fact is, I’ve forgotten it.  Poof! Gone, just as quickly as it came.

And that’s okay.  It happened.  Like the other M.O.U.C.s in my life, if it happened once, it will happen again.  The next time, it will be stronger and more powerful, and I’ll be able to make at least part of it stick and put it to good use.

For now, I’ll wait until it comes to me again.  I’m content with that.