I am no longer blogging here at Little Nuances, but I would love for you to join me on my author website www.leewarren.info.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Identifying Loneliness

Several years ago I read a book called Losing Julia by Jonathan Hull and I still think about several passages from the book.

Here's a brief blurb describing what the book is about from Amazon.com: "In a nursing home in California, WWI vet Patrick Delaney is fighting new battles: against old age (he's 81), stomach cancer and the knowledge of his encroaching death. This earnest, elegant first novel takes the form of Patrick's diary, in which he details the humbling infirmities of an aging body and looks back at the defining moments of his life--the war itself, when he lost his best friend, Daniel, and the brief but intense love affair he had 10 years later with Daniel's grieving lover, Julia."

One of the passages that has stuck with me is Patrick's view of loneliness as he spends his final days in a nursing home. Here's how he describes it:

It is said that life is too short and that's quite true, unless you are lonely. Loneliness can bring time to its knees; an absolute and utter standstill.

I've always judged places and times by how lonely they felt. The entire Midwest, for example, strikes me as horrifically lonely, Indiana more so than Wisconsin and Wisconsin more so than Ohio or Illinois. Coasts are dependably less lonely than inland areas while the warmer latitudes are noticeably less lonely than the colder ones. Hardware stores feel lonely while bookstores do not. Mornings are lonelier than afternoons, while the hours before dawn can be devastating. Vienna is lonelier than Paris or London, while Los Angeles is lonelier than San Francisco or Boston. The Atlantic Ocean is lonelier than the Pacific while the Caribbean is not lonely at all.

And then there are nursing homes.

I like how Patrick didn't feel the need to elaborate about what made all of these places lonely. They were his experiences and and apparently he wanted to keep them to himself. All of us could make such a list and I've had one swirling around in my head for a while.

Here's mine:

Short solo drives around town are lonelier than long solo trips. Watching television alone is lonelier than watching a movie alone. Sitting in airports is lonelier than sitting in ER waiting rooms. And listening to the radio is lonelier than listening to a favorite CD or MP3.

Mornings are fine. Afternoons, not so much. November and December are lonelier than the other ten months. And Mondays are lonelier than the other six days.

Chicago is much lonelier than Memphis, Santa Fe, Amarillo, or Naples. Denver is slightly lonelier than Kansas City or Minneapolis. And Fargo, well, I was too young to remember.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday Tidbits

I enjoyed my first cigar last Friday night with a group of friends--all of whom are experienced cigar smokers. My sole desire was to get through that one cigar--which I was assured was top of the line--without inhaling and dying of smoke inhalation. With the bar set so low, I was successful, and while I can't say that I enjoyed it, I didn't hate it either.

As further proof that my endorsement of certain television programs leads to their cancellation--usually immediately after I start talking about them, October Road is on the ropes. ABC offered the show to Lifetime and Lifetime turned it down. This bummed me out even further because it could mean that the show is so sappy that even Lifetime won't take it, but that challenges my manhood so that certainly can be the case. I did find one report that says the CW is thinking about picking up the show, which would be a good move for them since none of their shows draw five million viewers per episode like October Road does. So, I'm keeping hope alive.

This was a busy work week, but I had a lot of fun. I was the guest on the Genuine Christian Singles podcast for an hour and had a great conversation with Nicole, the host of the show, about the single life. We discussed topics in my book, Single Servings, and various other issues that singles face. I think the podcast is supposed to be up on the GCS website over the weekend if you'd like to hear it. I also led a chat room discussion about blogging this week, using information I cover in my Blogging 101 e-book, and I have received several nice responses from people who were in attendance. Beyond all of the fun, I've been buried in paperwork, and that's not so much fun, but a necessary part of doing business.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Audio Recording Predates Phonograph

Have you heard about the ten second recording from 1860 that American audio historians found in an archive in Paris recently? You can read more about it on the NY Times website where you can also listen to the actual clip (in which a girl sings a portion of "Au Clair de la Lune").

This predates Thomas Edison's phonograph by 17 years. But the funny thing is, the man who captured those ten seconds, Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville, invented the phonautograph to record human speech visually (with squiggly lines on paper) that could be deciphered later. He never really intended for it to record the actual sound so it could be played at a later time. But somehow scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory converted the squiggly lines to actual sound. Talk about mind-blowing.

The ten second audio clip of the girl's voice is scratchy and hard to understand (probably because I don't speak French) but it feels like a portal was opened to the past for just the briefest of moments and we were allowed to hear something nobody in that time period could have imagined we'd hear--their voices.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Marcel Proust: On Second Best

A couple of weeks ago, I watched a television interview with novelist Jeffrey Archer. During the interview, he quoted Marcel Proust (a french author who lived from 1871-1922) as saying: "Most of us end up doing what we are second best at."

I don't know if what Proust said is true or not, but what he said does intrigue me.

Does it mean that we chase the thing we are best at, but get another offer along the way that is close enough to the real thing to make us think we are involved in the activity we love, so we accept it? Does it mean that we don't actually enjoy the thing we are best at once we've had time to explore it, so we search for a variation of it? Or does it mean that none of us are ever really happy with what we do because we always believe we are supposed to be doing something else?

Maybe it's a combination. I don't know.

What do you think?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Rod Laver

Over the weekend, I watched the Pacific Life Open tennis tournament on television. During one of the matches, the camera focused on Rod Laver who was sitting in the stands as a spectator. I was so impressed by that. Yeah, he received an award during the tournament, and he lives nearby (the tournament is played in Palm Springs, CA), but at heart, he's a fan of a game he hasn't played professionally in nearly 30 years.

Laver is probably the greatest tennis player who has ever picked up a racket. He won two Grand Slams (winning all four majors in the same year) in 1962 and 1969 and no other player in the open era has even done it once--not even Roger Federer. I never got to see Laver play. He retired in 1979 and that was about the same year I started watching tennis, but I've always had a respect for what he did on the court. Seeing him as a fan of the game makes me admire him even more. 

The television announcers for the Pacific Life Open said that Laver respects modern players and that's obvious. He's 69 now and it would be easy to hold a grudge against modern players who earn far more than he did. He won just $1.5 million in his career--slightly more than what players receive for winning the US Open just once in our era. But holding grudges apparently isn't his style. Seems like he'd rather just enjoy the sport for what it has become, which in my opinion, is a great attitude to have about life.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Waving at Strangers

I pulled out of my driveway yesterday and headed for church. Just a couple of blocks from my home, I saw a woman walking on the sidewalk. She had a lonely sort of look to her and by the time I drove past her, I was thinking that I should have waved. But that can be taken the wrong way in a big city--especially when a man does it to a woman he doesn't know. I have to tell you though, some social norms, like this one, really bug me.

My Dad's side of the family comes from small town USA. As a kid, I'd go visit relatives in small Arkansas towns. Everybody waved at everybody and it gave you a sense of security. At least that's what it did for me. Sometimes I drive to a small town in Nebraska to visit a friend and his family. Everybody I drive past waves at me, regardless of whether they are in their vehicles are just out working in the yard. I've gotten used to it and I try to wave first. A few years ago, one of my aunts died (she lived in a small town in Iowa) and after the funeral, on the way to the cemetery on an old lonely highway, traffic from the opposite direction pulled onto the shoulder and waited for the funeral procession to go past. Such a show of respect moved me.

In a world in which most people are lonely, such simple gestures could go a long way to fill the gap that most of us feel with humanity. It's easy to feel inconsequential but it's just as easy to feel acknowledged and respected if we could ever get past the notion that we are supposed to pretend that we don't see each other as we pass on the street or share the same elevator. The next time I get the feeling that I should wave or smile at a stranger, I'm going to do it. I don't know what kind of reaction I'll get, but I think it's worth the risk.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Friday Tidbits

On Monday, I told you that I was doing an experiment regarding how much sleep I need each night. I tried eight hours two nights, seven hours one night, and six hours one night. When I slept eight hours it took me longer to wake up each morning--almost as if I'd been under anesthesia. But when I only got six or seven, I was tired throughout the day. That wasn't the case when I slept eight hours...so I'm thinking that I should put up with the cobwebs and sleep eight hours every night.

A blog called "City Room" on the NY Times website ran a blurb and a link to the post I wrote earlier this week called "Perfect Brooklyn." If you just started reading Little Nuances as a result of that link, welcome. I'm glad you are here.

Sam Mellinger, a writer for the Kansas City Star, has a baseball blog called Ball Star. He's currently running a roundtable discussion between several Royals' bloggers, myself included [I'm beginning my fifth season blogging about the Royals over at Royal Reflections]. If you are interested, here are a couple of links to the first two rounds of questions and answers at Ball Star: Ball Star Roundtable, Part 1, Ball Star Roundtable, Part 2.

I'm loving my new car! Well, I'm just leasing it...but still. It's nice to jump in, turn the key, and know it's going to start. And if it doesn't, then it's somebody else's responsibility.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The 80s Are Back

In the past couple of weeks, I've seen and heard several references to how ridiculous shorts looked on men in the 80s. I couldn't agree more, even though I was one of those men who wore them.

The clothing that was popular in the 80s doesn't have many defenders-- even among those who actually wore the big hair, and the super short shorts, the spandex pants, and the neon colors. I'm not going to even try to defend such things, even though it was my decade. I had the long hair (with bleached out tips) and the fake black leather jacket and even the cowboy boots. I suspect I looked more like Meatloaf (the singer) on a bad fashion day than I did anything else. But you live and you learn and you laugh and then you wait for the next trend to come along and get to laugh some more.

I've had a chance to do a lot of laughing in recent years. The current generation thinks that their fashions are "it," much like we did back then. As if titled baseball caps, "shorts" that go down to the ankles, and pants that sag much further than ought to be legal are going to stand the test of time. To some degree, they might--much like every other fashion, they all seem to make a comeback at some time or another. And in my opinion, that's where the irony lies.

80s fashion has made a comeback in the last couple of years. I remember when I saw the first signs of it in 2006. I saw a young woman, probably no older than 20, wearing a skirt with leggings underneath. Initially, I thought she might be on her way to an 80s party, but then I started seeing more young women dressed like her and I determined in my totally inept fashions sense sort of way that 80s fashion must be back, at least to a degree. I'm not expecting to see any guys wearing short shorts any time soon.

I've lived long enough to see trends come and go and come again. And I lived long enough to realize that my generation didn't "get it right" (as if that were even possible). Every generation thinks they have it right until they look back at the pictures twenty years later.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Dance the Night Away

I just started reading Grace (Eventually) by Anne Lamott--the third book in her thoughts on faith series. This one seems less angry than the second book, Plan B. Anger has it's place and it seemed to work in Plan B, but it's nice to see that she was in a different place when she wrote the third book.

I read a chapter yesterday called "Dance Class," in which Anne and one of her friends decided to help another one of Anne's friend's to lead a special-ed dance class. Anne doesn't seem all that confident in her dancing ability, which makes her willingness to help lead a dance class even more special. And she made this insightful statement: "I know that humans want and need exactly the same thing: to belong, to feel safe and respected. I also know that we don't live long. And that dancing almost always turns out to be a good idea."

I love that thought. Dancing almost always turns out to be a good idea. When I think back on all of the times I have danced, I've had a blast. And I'm not a good dancer. But I love to do it anyway. I've danced at weddings, in nightclubs, at prom and homecoming, and in various other places...and Anne is right. It was always a good idea, for so many reasons: for the memories it created, for the freedom it explored, and for the sense of belonging that I experienced.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Perfect Brooklyn

If you are a bowler, then you are probably familiar with the term "Brooklyn." For those who don't know what the term means, it's the word that's used for a ball that crosses over and hits the "wrong" pocket. So for right-handers, the ball hits the pocket for left-handers, and vice versa. I did a little checking to see where the term may have originated. Didn't find much, and I can't really confirm this, but according to Yahoo! Answers, here's one  answer "The term originated from New Yorkers having to 'crossover' from Manhattan to Brooklyn. Thus a shot that 'crosses over' goes to the other side of the pocket and still produces a strike!"

Years ago, one of my friends, or maybe it was me--I can't remember--came up with the term "perfect Brooklyn." It's an oxymoron since by definition, a ball that goes Brooklyn isn't where the bowler intended and therefore can't be a perfect shot, but at the same time, it is still in the/a pocket and therefore, in theory the pins ought to go down. Of course, the spin on the ball is opposite of what it should be, etc., but still, if it's there, then our theory is, the pins ought to fall. Once in a while I crack the guys on my bowling team up by complaining that my last shot was perfect Brooklyn, but the pins still didn't fall.

Lately, I've been thinking that life sometimes feels like perfect Brooklyn. You do what you believe you are supposed to do and you do it to the best of your ability and either you miss the mark or something happens that is out of your control and it throws your plans off course, but somehow your efforts cross over far enough to hit the pocket on the other side. And sometimes the pins even carry and you get a strike. At that point, you can either hang your head in shame or your can jump up and down and celebrate. I'd rather celebrate. How about you?

Monday, March 17, 2008

How Much Sleep Do I Need?

I can fall asleep almost anywhere, anytime. Some of my friends joke that I fall asleep in the middle of their sentences. Nothing against any of them, but when it's time for sleep, my body shuts down. The funny thing is, I rarely feel like I get enough sleep. I think that's why I fall asleep so easily. As soon as I stop, I'm out.

I've never really tried to figure out how much sleep I need. Instead, I have always allowed my schedule to dictate how much sleep I get. So, I'm trying something different this week. I'm going to sleep for different amounts of time each night to figure out which amount works best for my level of alertness and productivity the following day. Then I'm going to try to stick with that amount.

Will I follow through with my plans? I don't know. The honest answer is, it probably depends up on how many pressing deadlines I have. But I do think it would be a good idea to get my sleep straightened out so I could be more productive, and conceivably, even more healthy.

How about you? How much sleep do you need each night? What happens if you don't get it?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday Tidbits

I've had a rather eventful week--most of it good, some of it funny.

I got a text message from a friend the other night saying, "Haven't heard from you yet. Why is that?" To which I replied, "What do you mean?" Turns out that my name is right next to his son's name in his new smart phone and I got the text that was intended for his son around curfew time. For a minute, I felt like I was being called to the principal's office.

My cell phone rang on Wednesday morning and I didn't recognize the number of the person who was calling. I picked it up and heard a familiar voice. It was one of my high school buddies who is currently serving in Iraq. The wonders of modern technology! This is the second time he's called me from there. Obviously, he can't tell me much about his own life, but he was especially interested in how things were going back home, so I filled him in as best I could, and told him that I can't wait for him to come home so we can grab a steak together. Sounds like it could happen soon.

I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago about the passing of William F. Buckley Jr. I've noticed something rather odd since his death--the bookstores I've visited are carrying extremely limited numbers of his offerings on the shelves. I'm not into conspiracies, so I'm not even suggesting that. But when an author dies, his or her words become finite, and as a consequence, maybe more valuable. And it seems to me that more people are interested in an author's work after he or she dies, so why not make Buckley's work available in mass--at least for another couple of months? Yeah, I could order it from Amazon.com, and I certainly order my fair share of books online, but I still prefer to buy books from local bookstores whenever possible.

I told you last week that my car was on her last wheels. Thankfully she didn't give out on me this week and I was able to get her to a dealership to take advantage of an ad one of my friends saw in the newspaper. I ended up leasing a new car for less money than I would have dreamed possible and I couldn't be happier about it. It even has a jack for my iPod.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Wind in the Wheat

Seven or eight years ago, I met with an editor to discuss a novel I was working on at the time. It was about an aging rock singer who pushes everybody he is close to out of his life to chase his dream of returning to the top of the charts only to realize that success hardly matters if you have to do alone.

I told the editor what my novel was about and before he even looked at it, he told me I needed to read The Wind in the Wheat by Reed Arvin. He told me it was out of print, but I tracked down a copy and was blown away by what I read.

The book is about a piano player named Andrew Miracle who has a gift that people want him to share with the world, when in reality, he knows that his piano playing only hits its stride when he is playing in the context of a worship service. I want to share a few paragraphs from the book that moved me greatly, hoping it will move you too. I'm not even going to set the scene for you. It's not necessary:

There is a great divide between good playing and great playing. The worst musicians are unaware that this distance exists, and they fumble their way through magnificent literature, oblivious. Most players sense this divide, however, and they know which side of it they are on. A few of these determine to struggle their whole musical lives to reach the side of greatness by practicing and working harder and harder. They end up impressing their friends and colleagues with their machine-like mastery of difficult pieces. But they know that they are not great. They know it because for a few moments, moments they will remember and cling to for the rest of their lives, they have actually crossed that divide. For a shining moment they understood, and they wept and played and believed in their greatness. But they were cast out again, and no amount of struggling would bring them back across.

No one crosses the divide by struggling, and no one passes through it by practice. There is only one bridge across. It is the bridge of abandonment, and it is built of helplessness, and of courage. Great playing is given over to the music utterly and completely. It is abandoned and willing. It is calm and it is shrieking. It is weeping and laughter, and more than anything else, it is love.

That night Andrew closed his eyes and began to play. He gave himself over to his gift, and let one note follow another. He let whatever music roamed within him play itself out, go where it would go, with no thought to cloud or filter. It was soft, and it hurt; it was loud and impregnable, like a fortress. It was the proud dance of a peasant girl. It was his father, dead. It was the wind, for a frightening moment, blowing up the skirt of a classmate in fifth grade. It was drought. It was his first kiss. For a full half-hour Andrew road the piano like a horse. He cajoled it and caressed it and pushed through it because it fought him, and he would not be denied its secrets.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


"My parents, and librarians along the way, taught me about the space between words; about the margins, where so many juicy moments of life and spirit and friendship could be found. In a library, you can find small miracles and truth, and you might find something that will make you laugh so hard that you will get shushed, in the friendliest way." --Anne Lamott, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith

I often try to convey a simple truth to my soon-to-be 18 year-old niece about the concept of margin. By allowing margin, you make time to enjoy life. Leave early for an appointment, anticipating traffic and other problems, and if all goes well, you can use the extra time to get to know somebody you wouldn't have had the chance to talk to otherwise or to read a chapter in a book you haven't had time to read or to examine a painting you might have otherwise ignored.

But margin is deeper than that. Pick up several books that are close to you and flip through them. Assuming you didn't grab a picture book, nearly every page you glanced at was full of words. But I would bet that at least one of the books was more aesthetically pleasing. And I would bet even more that the reason your eyes were drawn to that particular book was because of its margins. The words had room to breathe. If you are the type of person who underlines passage and/or writes notes in the margins, you were already dreaming about touching your pen to the pages.

Give me a good book with nice margins all the way around the pages and a G2 pen and I'm set for an hour of bliss. I'll laugh, maybe cry, think, fret, dream, get angry, and hopefully relate--all while I'm jotting notes in the margins and underlining passages that hit home. On my best days, I'll go back and read those passages again before I close the book. On my worst days, I'll still be glad I partook.

Margin is an invitation to express ourselves. Margin excites and inspires and gives hope. Margin expects to be filled with words or tears or finger prints or wonder. So, be on the lookout for margins. Create them if you have to. And when you see one, never let it go to waste.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Re-arranging My Desktop

The top of my desk is full of paper of all sizes: a baseball schedule for my beloved Kansas City Royals, a list of phone numbers of editors I work with, printed spreadsheets for my business, and various other things, like writing tips. I have all of these slips of paper taped to my desk and I have a clear plastic desk cover over the top of it all so my information is always readily available...and the cover keeps it all neatly packaged and safe from things like coffee spills or hair balls from my cat. 

But once in a while, the information becomes obsolete and I have to replace it with more slips of paper. The problem is, sometimes baseball schedules aren't the same size as last year; and sometimes I need to add a new list of phone numbers and the list doesn't fit anywhere, and I keep coming up with things to track in spreadsheets, and there certainly isn't any more room on my desk to display the printed versions.

So, once a year or so, I pull the plastic cover up, and detach everything under the cover and I re-arrange it all so it fits--ditching the things I no longer need. The stuff that doesn't fit ends up on the wall. When I'm done, it looks like I have it all together, which is so far from the truth it's ridiculous. I have a system in place for my business, and I'm continually streamlining it, but when it comes to organizational skills and keeping up with ever-changing things like schedules and contact information, I struggle.

I'm looking at my desk right now and it's obvious that I need to consider removing the plastic cover again for a little re-arranging session. I can't help but see a parallel to life in the mess though. I do everything I can to put things in order. I even go so far as to put a nice plastic cover over everything once it's organized. For me the cover looks a lot like my determination, if it actually had a physical appearance. But then I spill the proverbial cup of coffee and I find out that my determination isn't nearly as good at protecting my plans as the plastic cover on my desk.

So, I clean up the mess, print new pieces of paper, grab any new pieces of paper I need to add, and then I try to figure out how to make it all fit. Again. Frankly, I don't like that process. But I'm learning to accept it and to not freak out when it happens. I haven't run across some magical formula that helps me to to accept it. I guess I've just finally reached a point in my life in which I've seen enough change (for the better and for the worse) that I see it as part of the normal flow of life, and just acknowledging that helps.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Old Dictionaries

I was in the car yesterday with one of my sister's and her daughter when my niece told me that she needed me to look up a couple of words for her when I got home because her dictionary didn't have the words in it and she needed the definitions for her homework. That led to a conversation about dictionaries (I use electronic dictionaries now) and for some reason, an old memory popped into my head.

In grade school, I used an old thumb indexed concise dictionary that was spiral bound. I described it and my sister said she had it! She told me that I had written my initials on every page, and I sort of remember doing that, but I have no idea why. When we got back to my sister's house, she gave me the dictionary and it was like getting a little piece of history back. Here's a picture of the cover (and it's exactly the way I remember it!):

Here's a picture of a couple of the pages I initialed:

And you want to hear something funny? Both words my niece needed to look up where in that old dictionary.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Friday Tidbits

The week didn't start out the way I had planned. I woke up on Monday morning to the hacking sounds of Midnight, by beloved soon-to-be 18 year old cat. She lays on me at night and before I could get her off of me, she coughed up a hairball. At least, there was a comforter between us so it shielded me from what could have been a rude awakening. Well, it was a rude awakening, but it could have been worse.

Now that I'm listening for funny one-liners by sports announcers I'm hearing all sorts of them. Heard one this week from a baseball announcer who said, "That was a Linda Ronstadt fastball--Blue Bayou." You probably have to be a baseball fan to get it.

I had to have my car towed to the dealership again this week. Appears that the car is on its last wheels. The mechanic said he's only got one thing he can try and if it doesn't work, it's time to get another car. I'm grateful that he's being honest, but I'm not thrilled with the idea of car-shopping again. Maybe it won't come to that.

The last time I had a car die on me (as in I needed to get a new car), my laptop at the time died one day prior to my car. Ironically, I've been seeing signs of old age in my current laptop and I can just see it dying when my car does again. What are the chances? But I think I figured out one of the problems with my laptop. My 60 GB hard-drive only had 1 GB of space left, so I cleaned out a bunch of old files and freed up nearly 10 GB, so it seems to be running smoother.

Next week is another week and it'll come with its own challenges. Thankfully, this week's challenges are nearly in the past.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Stand Alone by Me

This past week, ABC aired a new episode of October Road (one of my favorite television shows) that I can't get out of my head for various reasons--one of which I want to explore here. The episode, called "Stand Alone by Me" starts with a flashback to 18 years ago, showing five neighborhood boys, all whom were 10 years old, being rescued from neighborhood bullies by Angela Ferilli's sling shot. But the boys didn't care much about the slingshot. What they really cared about was the girl behind it. All five of them had a crush on Angela. 

But then her family moved three towns away and after finding out that she has a "boyfriend" in her new hometown, they lose track of her. Fast forward 18 years. One of the five friends, Nick, reads an article in that paper that says Angela died in a car accident and it throws all of them for a loop. After Angela's funeral, as the guys are leaving the cemetery, they figure out that Angela's husband was the same kid she called her boyfriend all those years ago and here's the conversation they have about her and her husband:

"Wow, he was her meant-to-be," Owen said.

"Yeah, we never stood a chance," Nick said.

"Maybe if you think about it, maybe we've been searching for Angela Ferilli our whole lives," Eddie said.

"You think?" Owen said.

"I know I have." Eddie said.

"If you think about it some more, maybe you guys have already found her in what you've got waiting back in the Ridge," Ikey said.

Ikey's words send all of them back home with a mission to repair their broken relationships. These five characters had to experience something drastic and dreadful and heartbreaking to make them see the beauty of the people in front of them.

I'm pretty sure all of us could learn something from that.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Singing Postal Worker

I go to my local post office at least once a week, sometimes more, to mail manuscripts I've critiqued or edited. So, I see the same postal workers nearly every time I go in. One of them is a man, maybe 55 years old, who is slower at processing customers than molasses in the middle of a January snowstorm. But once people seem to get to know him, they are accepting of him.

He sings showtunes and golden oldies and he asks customers trivia questions while he tends to their postal needs. During this past Christmas season, I stopped in and he was singing "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire," which added to the Christmas spirit.

Yesterday he asked a woman, "What state has the most private golf courses?" At first, she snapped her head back as if to say, "Why in the world are you asking me this question?" Then she smiled and said, "I don't know" before venturing a guess that I couldn't hear. Unfortunately, I couldn't hear the answer either. I really wanted to know.

After the trivia question customer was taken care of, the postal worker began to sing "I dream of Jeannie," but it wasn't from the television show, at least I don't think it was (because that theme song didn't have lyrics, did it?) The song he sang is an old song I'd heard before, but I have no idea what the rest of the words are or who originally sang it. I only know that the customer who was standing at the counter looked at the guy as if he'd flipped and I almost burst out laughing. I bet the customer had a nice laugh about it later.

I love little slices of life like these. They make forgettable moments memorable.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Are You Going to Blog About This?

Had a funny thing happen during lunch yesterday. A friend picked me up and before he stopped at the restaurant, he stopped at a new go-cart racing track to take a peek inside. The place would have been a dream if I'd have been 30 years younger. We checked it out, he promised the staff that he would bring his son by soon, and we headed for the restaurant.

At some point during our meal he jokingly told me that sometimes he's bummed out if I don't mention one of our experiences in a post here. He said something along the lines of, "And I took you to the go-cart place thinking something cool would happen (because I'm a big NASCAR fan) and then you'd blog about it. But instead, nothing happened."

Usually people are leery of ending up as blog material and I understand that. I assure friends that I don't use names and have no intention of painting them in a bad light. And I usually ask people if it's okay if I blog about a certain situation. I think by taking all of these precautions that it has eased people's minds and has made for some fun experiences--often leading to one friend or another asking, "You're going to blog about this aren't you?"

Monday, March 03, 2008

Independent Bookstores

I've never really been an independent bookstore kind of guy. No real reason, other than because they are usually in out of the way places and tend to have odd hours. But, in theory, I've wanted to support them for some time. My friends and I went to a new independent bookstore on Friday night and we had a great time. The first thing I saw when I walked in was a shelf full of books from local authors. Usually chain stores relegate the "local authors" shelf to the back of the store or to some out of the way place that customers rarely frequent. So, two steps into the store, this business had my attention.

The "suggested reads" shelf was close to the local authors shelf and I enjoyed perusing it -- even bought a book from it called "Blogging Heroes." They had a shelf or two of classic literature and a nice reading area for kids -- built up to look like a palace. And toward the back of the first floor, they have a wine-bar, where they also serve coffee and offer several meal selections. I don't know much about wine, expect that I like it white and sweet. The barista/bartender suggested a certain white wine (no idea what it was called) after I told her about my taste. I bought a glass of it and headed for a table.

The table had a black tablecloth, which is a little more upscale than I'm used to. And the seats were cushy. My friend's and I sat around and discussed books and pretended to fit in while I swirled my wine around in my glass and pretended to know what I was doing. I remember several scenes from the movie Sideways in which Miles, a wine connoisseur, swirls his wine to "let it breathe." I don't know why it needs to breathe, but hey, if it needs to breathe, I'm going to let it.

We finished our drinks, and checked out the second floor. They have meeting rooms that are available to the public for free. The first room we walked by was full of women wearing red hats who were drinking tea. I found out that they are called the Red Hat Society. Here's how they describe themselves on their website:
The Red Hat Society began as a result of a few women deciding to greet middle age with verve, humor and elan. We believe silliness is the comedy relief of life, and since we are all in it together, we might as well join red-gloved hands and go for the gusto together. Underneath the frivolity, we share a bond of affection, forged by common life experiences and a genuine enthusiasm for wherever life takes us next.
From there, we examined more bookshelves on the second level. We checked out the fireplace and the plush chairs they had available for customers. And we couldn't pass up the opportunity to examine the bottles of win they had for sale upstairs either. We had no idea what we were looking at, other than prices (the most expensive was $350 for the bottle -- we steered clear of those), but it was fun anyway.

So, I'm making plans to drop off my books one day in the next week to be displayed on the local author's shelf by the front door, and I'm really thinking that the place would be nice to put into our rounds of bookstores that my friends and I visit most weekends. Now I'm just hoping that it stays open.


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