Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Am I the only one who thinks that there is nothing more irksome than to have someone utter the oily little phrase “I hear what you’re saying” in the midst of an argument, disagreement, or discussion? To me, it’s about as useful as advising an un-calm person to “Calm down.” (Has that ever worked, do you think?)
"I hear what you’re saying.” Of course you hear what I’m saying. Unless you’re deaf or temporarily distracted by an explosion in the background, you hear what I’m saying because I said something and your ears received the vibrations. By the way, this vapid little phrase is usually accompanied by a knowing, earnest look, which is also irritating and deserving of a slap across the smug little face spouting it, but that’s a subject for another time.
The key here is the use of the word "hear" rather than "listen." 'Listen" implies more than the act of receiving sound through one’s ears. It implies concentration, an honest attempt at understanding, and other ethereal nuances – sympathy, empathy, caring, wisdom, love. No consideration is required in hearing. Listening is all about consideration.
Hearing is, well, just hearing. Listening takes effort and attention and compassion. If you were really listening instead of merely hearing, you’d be as sad/crazy/angry,/depressed/disappointed/surprised/whatever as the person trying to communicate with you. You’d get it. You might not agree with it. You might have another side to the story. But you’d get it because you were listening, not just receiving vibrations to your eardrum, stirrup and anvil-thingys.
This smarmy phrase is touted by anger management people and psychologists as a bland response panacea that is supposed to reassure the person you’re “hearing.” So spouses, friends, clergy, teachers are encouraged to let little I-hear-what-you’re-sayings punctuate stressful conversations. Doesn’t work for me. As soon as someone pulls out the old IHWYS, it confirms to me that they do not have the desire or capacity to listen to me. They’re probably thinking about what they’ll have for dinner tonight or whether they remembered to send that email or wondering when in the hell this conversation will end. "I hear what you’re saying."
Remember this. If you “hear” what I’m saying, I’ll probably “hear” what you’re saying, too. Except that you don’t really want me to hear what you’re saying. You want me to listen to what you’re saying.
Are you being heard or listened to?
Monday, July 30, 2007
Now, profanity is fine for a Lenny Bruce nightclub act. And let's face it - I'm no Pollyanna and see the need for a good "shit" and "damn" every once in a while myself. But, really, I do try to find a more honorable way of communicating to the outside world most of the time. I wish others would make a little effort, too.
I find it embarrassing, especially when parents of small children can't carry on a conversation without a good peppering of obscenities. There's a language lesson that'll stick, I bet. Those words just don't carry the weight that a more selective use of the old Anglo-Saxon 4-letters would. It's all meaningless - and (still) offensive - now. Such a lack of respect for fellow travelers (and yo' chirruns, and yo' mama).
And I'm tired of hearing it.
Here endeth today's profanity rant.
I looked all over for a photo of Dan Ackroyd's Tom Snyder character on Saturday Night Live but couldn't find one - stay tuned. Ooops - found it (albeit very small). I often get the SNL skits mixed up with the real deal. There wasn't much difference.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Now, all I need is to be gorgeous, come from a family with lots of money, and find a guy with witty Nick Charles repartee. I'm certainly willing to go the extra mile with sleuthing and drinking.
Make yourself happy, and watch a Thin Man movie or two. Bottoms up!
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Had the day off from work yesterday and spent most of the time "P/pottering." Did manage a few errands but was most contented keeping my nose in the book throughout the day and night. Couldn't read the last 100 or so pages fast enough.
Still have a few questions, though. You know where to find me if you want to discuss.
OK. Back to the real world now. I'm heading to a bookstore with some of the suggestions you gave to my question a couple of weeks ago "What cha' readin'?" I'll let you know what I find.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
As you can see I hit the jackpot today - huge bunches of dill, basil, and mint, plus some lovely tomatoes, green beans, and a right nice cabbage.
Umm-um! I'll be eatin' fine for the next few days!
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
A Friday night in winter of 1962. I was spending the night with my twin-friends, Sharon and Susan. They had a great set-up - the top floor of their house belonged to them. Huge bedroom with a walk-in closet, their very own bathroom (sigh), a study/sewing area. Our job that night was to go upstairs and keep the noise-level down since the twins' parents were having friends over. One of those mystical (to a 10-year-old) adult Friday night gatherings.
Anyway, we did our job - the keeping quiet part - and called it a night after watching The Flintstones and 77 Sunset Strip, gorging on Fritos and Cokes, and talking ourselves silly. I'd brought my new Santa-delivered transistor radio for its entertainment value, of course. (iPod excitement can't even begin to compare to a turn-of-the-60's transistor radio! Woo-ee!)
Once the lights were out, we kept the radio on - very softly - while the get-together continued downstairs. I heard lots of songs on the radio that night, but for some reason "Stranger On The Shore" stuck in my brain, attaching itself to our musings on what adults did at parties and what it would be like when we grew up. We had all sorts of plans and ideas. And all of that talk was infused with the Acker Bilk music on the transistor radio.
How does so much stuff get wrapped up in an old song? Well, it does. I'm sure there's some kind of psychological, sound-memory thing firing off between my dendrites, but I can't help but think there's more to it than just some scientific explanation.
I've had the best of all possible lives (well, except for the money part). I've done things that I could've never imagined at 10 years old while listening to a scratchy-sounding transistor radio on a Friday night in the winter of 1962. I've gone way beyond the wife and school teacher I thought I was destined to be.
Still, I keenly remember the visions of what adult life would be like. And reality is so, so different. Not many Holly Golightly-black cocktail dresses and witty, intelligent adult conversations at city-fied parties. But it's more than that. There was something bigger. Some big adult secret world that I imagined as a child, only to grow up to find that world doesn't exist the way I'd dreamed it would be. I don't dwell on this stuff, believe me. Just when I hear that song.
So much stuff bundled up for me in Acker Bilk's "Stranger On The Shore." A lost, enticing, oh-so-cool adult world dreamed up by a 10-year-old girl listening to a song on a transistor radio in the lavender bedroom of her best friends in the winter of 1962. That loss is why the song is so sad to me.
For those of you who don't know or remember the song, here's a 1988 version of Bilk playing his tune:
What's your saddest song?
"Thus showing that God's mercy is boundless and his forgiveness overflows . . . (voice drops - good place to end here) . . . like a mighty river to the sea . . . (OK, voice drops again - second good place to call it quits) . . . with all the company of Heaven celebrating the return of the lost lamb . . . (please, put a period here, sir) . . . forever and ever . . . (this has to be the end!) . . . and ever . . . (oh, Lord, make him stop) . . . and ever . . . (help!) . . . amen."
Those of us in the small congregation have been tricked so many times in the final 2 minutes of his sermon that we all hesitate to add our own "amens." We come to a consensus, eyes communicating "do you think he finally ended it?", then feel free to continue with the service.
Ever have a teacher or co-worker or uncle who just hates to end a sentence? It's particularly painful when you're a captive audience, in church or a classroom or a committee meeting. Nowhere to run. Torture! (But they're usually nice people, otherwise.)
Monday, July 23, 2007
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Oh, Tammy Faye,
We're sorry to see you go.
Your shoulder pads
And out-lined eyes
Live on, though you're no mo'.
With big ol' hair,
Your gifts stretched wide and far.
Preaching and singing,
A style all your own
Made you a TV star.
Beneath the make-up
And runny mascara
Beat a heart we know was true.
Our very own
Was good-hearted through and through.
Oh, Tammy Faye,
Oh, Tammy Faye,
An era now has passed.
May the Great Make-up Artist in the Sky
Give you Eternal Rest (and no-run mascara) at last.
Tammy Faye Baker Messner (1942-2007)
A televangelist. But a fun one.
But, God willing, I'm not scheduled for another road trip until mid-September. Hallelujah!
While I do love traveling and I'm so fortunate to get to get to go to wonderful places, I'm just plain tired of spending so much time away from my bed, my books, my dog, and my funky New York Upper-Upper-Upper East Side 'hood.
I'm looking forward to the first week in August, when I take a week off to indulge - and it is indulgence! - in the glories of New York City. I plan to hit lots of places I've wanted to see - Ellis Island, Wave Hill, Empire State Building (no, I've never been to the top of the ESB), Katz' Deli - plus revisit old favorites like Chinatown, Brooklyn Bridge, and Central Park. Tiffany's. I can get some real theatre deals, as well - so you know I'll be pattin' my foot to a Broadway musical.
Sometimes, home is the best place to vacation.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Yesterday evening's steam pipe explosion in Midtown caused all sorts of chaos and weirdness here. It happened just before 6pm at Lex and 41st, exactly the time and almost the place I pass daily on my way to Grand Central to catch the subway home.
But I worked from home yesterday, so I was safely tucked up in my little apartment in SpHarlem and luckily avoided the raining poo of underground hot sludge.
Minor inconvenience this morning - no subway trains stopping at Grand Central, so I just hopped off at 51st and walked down to 44th/2nd to work. No prob. We're due for torrential downpours this afternoon, so the evening walk probably won't be as pleasant.
At any rate, Shorty is alive and well and still working in Midtown Manhattan, steam-pipes from Hell or not.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
- What cha' readin'? Are you in the middle of a good book? Do tell.
- It's vacation time. Going someplace special or staying close to home? What are you most looking forward to during your time off?
- Sick of hearing about anybody? Spill the beans! Who do you wish would take a big dive into oblivion?
- Who's bugging you at work? You don't have to name names, just tell me all about the office creep/bully/slothard.
- When was the last time you went to a really good restaurant? Tell me about it, hon, and let me live vicariously through your dining experience.
- What's your favorite way to waste time (besides reading Shorty PJs)? Can you fool anyone into thinking you're actually working while doing your time-waste thing, or is it blatantly obvious that you're goofin' off?
- If you could tell off anybody in the world right now, who would it be and what would be the gist of your verbal smack-down?
- The meaning of life. Go on. What do you think?
- Who put the bop in the bop-shu-bop-shu-bop? And on that same note, who put the ram in the ram-a-lam-a-ding-dong?
- What's under all those bubbles, Joan dear?
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
I'm in the midst of pulling together a huge work-related event for next year. Yesterday was spent in an all-day design team meeting, hashing out ideas and giving assignments to everyone. Well today, one of the team members has emailed me no fewer than nine - 9! - times, and he's still at it! Aaargh!
No reason for it. Haven't asked for anything today or required any sort of communication. I mean, we had about 8 hours of it yesterday. Give it a rest! Let it sink in! Let me get some work done!
I don't mind a simple "Great meeting yesterday. Looking forward to working with the group." Or even one long email containing all of the random thoughts at once.
But no. One-liners are shot my way every couple of hours. Stop it. Now. Go to bed. And don't let me hear from you tomorrow, either, unless I need specifics out of you. Save it for later.
Damn! Another one just came through! It's gonna be a looooooong year. Sigh.
I think that an unexpected villain is the scariest, don't you? Say, when a Robin Williams goes all hermit-y, calm, and voyeuristic in a film. It really ups the creep-factor.
The same is true for a comfy, aunty-like woman in pink tweeds with a syrupy smile who has a pen that carves onto your hand whatever you write on paper. Ouch! (It was scarier and more painful reading about it in the book of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but it was still hard to watch on the screen.)
My point is, though, that the villain-against-type is more disturbing than anything you need to use "Expecto Patronum!" on. So, Voldemort's a piece of cake compared to Dolores Umbridge, in my humble opinion.
I had two Sunday school teachers and an elementary school teacher that looked just like Umbridge, all perfect twin-setted-up, hair teased just so, neck full of pearls, hands folded like a lady. Fortunately, none of my them had Umbridge's sadistic streak, though they did come across as rather insincere. And were probably leading double-lives as kittens-with-whips.
So, good job, Imelda Staunton, for a very excellent villain portrayal of Dolores Umbridge!
Besides Dolores, one of the best parts of the film was the breath-taking broomstick ride over the Thames through London. Wowser! And it's always fun to see how the cast has grown. Sniff! I'm so proud!
On the other hand, so much of the book (the longest at 800 pages or so) had to be compressed into the film-time that some of the important threads were lost. Guess it had to be done, but I wonder if and how those threads will be reclaimed later. Ah, well. Never mind.
Now, on with the countdown to Saturday, when I'll have to close my eyes and ears to the internet and television until I read the final installment of Potter. Don't tell me the ending!
Monday, July 16, 2007
Then it hit me. This is it! This is a perfect way for airlines to remind folks of airline-travel behavior.
Picture it: the flight attendant does the old ". . . your nearest exit may be behind you" spiel, then shows an entertaining movie trailer. Something humorous, yet threatening that lets passengers know the rules of the game. Oh, I don't know, something like:
- "The guy behind you will shave your eyebrows if you recline your seat too far back."
- "Your child will be stuffed into an overhead bin if he/she runs up and down the aisle or kicks the back of another passenger's seat."
- "The parent or guardian of such a child will be slapped then stuffed into the overhead bin with his/her lovely child."
- "Any appendage that encroaches on the seat/s next to you will be chopped off with a sharp ax and tossed off the plane."
All set to cute music, of course. Harsh? Cruel? Only people who don't travel by plane much will think this is over-the-top. Anyway, the trailer would be a very wink-wink-smiley-smiley, just joking really sort of thing. Still, enough to make people wonder "Hmmmm, better stop hogging the armrest, or else."
Can you tell that I'm not looking forward to yet another trip to Columbus, Ohio, on Friday?
Friday, July 13, 2007
So eschewing (don't you love that word?) a list of unlucky things in my life on this Friday the 13th, I'll list some of the lucky stuff.
1. Lucky in family. Got a great one, no doubt about it. I was blessed with terrific parents, brothers and a sister that made (and continue to make) life fun and interesting, a close extended family (cousins, aunts, uncles - the whole bit), and last, but top of the list, an exceptionally wonderful daughter. Ups and downs there may be, but we always hang together.
2. Lucky in friends. Still close to a handful of childhood buddies - no putting on airs with them, I tell ya'. Plus, I've gathered wonderful, amazing friends along the way - from my Turner Broadcasting days and my other workplaces, All Saints' Church, various neighbors and cohorts. Each and every one has enriched my life in incalculable ways.
3. Lucky in work. I landed in a big pot of jam when I signed on with Turner in 1975. Who knew it was to become an entertainment empire? But I was there at the almost-beginning, and got to grow with the place. With my stint as a teacher and with Perkins & Will, I worked with great folks and learned so much along the way. And now The Episcopal Church gives me the chance to meet incredible people and try my hand at work that makes a difference in the world.
4. Lucky in health (though I cringe to put this, since it might be a "kiss o' death"). I have been pretty darn healthy over the course of my life. I could stand to lose a few (OK, many) pounds, but beyond that, I have energy, eyesight, hearing, hair, and I'm still breathing. As for the wrinkles? I've earned 'em all, so "no, thanks" to Botox.
Plus, I get to live in New York City.
Plus, plus, I have today (Friday the 13th) off! How lucky can you get?
Thursday, July 12, 2007
The rules are simple…Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.
So. I think this will be kinda boring for you, but here goes.
1. Habit: Bath/Book/Bed. Has to happen, or it takes me forever to get to sleep. The routine starts with a good soak in a hot tub (usually working Sudoku, and yeah, it gets wet, but so what?) to relax me. Next, I always, always have to read - even just a couple of pages - before I can sleep. Only then can I call it a night and rest.
2. Habit: "Lots of lemon." Applies to iced tea and water. I cram 4 or 5 wedges (gently squeezed) into my tea and water. But funnily enough, I don't (usually) put lemon in my hot tea.
3. Habit: Fiddling with my hair. It drives other people crazy, I know (they tell me about it), but I constantly run my fingers through my hair - mainly to keep it out of my face. Sorry, everyone.
4. Habit: I constantly check my bank balance. Before the days of online banking, I'd call the automated number to check it. Now, I just go to the computer. This obsession has something to do with my ex-husband, I think. ;-)
5. Fact: I'm a boring gift-getter. My friends and family complain that I always request the same things when asked what I want for Christmas or birthday. Books (or bookstore gift card). Notecards. Bubblebath (citrusy, minty, or lavendery - not sweet). Candles. Sure, there are other things I like, but I need an infusion of the above once or twice a year to keep up my supply!
6. Fact: I like my food spicy. The hotter the better. I roam the world in search of the hottest sauces and peppers. I appreciate that there may come a day when my stomach can't take it anymore, but till that day . . .
7. Fact: I don't play along with chain letters/emails. Oh, the retribution I've brought down on my head for being the one to break the chain! I've lost millions! I've caused the death of thousands of children, soldiers, and cancer patients! I'm a disgrace to humanity! Just be forewarned, if you send me one, the chain will break.
8. Fact: Autumn is my favorite season; summer my least favorite. Winter surpassed summer a number of years ago. (Cold weather, hot tea or chocolate, Christmas, snow, fires in the fireplace, cozy blankets - yum!)
OK. That's it. I'm sure I'll think of better things as time goes on, but this will have to do for now. I'm tagging anyone out there who wants to be tagged.
The truck usually made its appearance right after lunch or in the late afternoon (but well before dinner), and the system worked best if you had several kids in the yard - a couple to flag down the truck and a couple to run inside to get the dimes to pay for the luscious goodies.
Mr. Hunky Man would slow down as we waved our arms and jumped up and down, wildly gesturing that money would be forthcoming from right out that front door there - just wait! The tinkly music continued to pierce the air. Oh, the anticipation that music caused for a bunch of tired, dirty kids!
The inside crew would run into the house yelling, "The Hunky Man's here! The Hunky Man's here!" I don't recall a time that the dimes weren't scrounged up, so out we'd run with the coins in our hot little hands.
Then the real fun began. What to choose? What to choose? A banana Popsicle? A Push-Up? An Eskimo Pie? Fudgesicle? Dreamsicle? Ooh-ooh-ooh! Aaaaaaaahhhhh! Whatever we chose was always just the right thing for the moment. Then the Hunky Man would continue his slow drive through the rest of the neighborhood, where other children were waiting to flag him down.
Once we'd made our choices, we'd gather on the front porch or steps to unwrap the cold-delights and happily slurp ourselves into oblivion for a few minutes. No wonder our mothers didn't mind ponying up the cash. A little peace and quiet for a few minutes was worth the price of a few dimes.
We'd have to hose down afterwards, though - our bodies striped with trickles of chocolate or cherry or grape. And the tell-tale colored moustaches gave away what flavors we'd chosen for the afternoon.
So, where did the term "Hunky Man" come from? Who knows? I think an actual "hunky" was what my mother and her sisters called an Eskimo Pie, so maybe that's why they referred to the guy as the Hunky Man. Or maybe there was an ice cream brand called Hunky. Not sure. Or maybe they found the guy good looking and had us all fooled (thus, the term "hunky")! At any rate, it does seem to be a term peculiar to our family.
But man, oh man - was there anything so fine as that summertime tradition of flagging down the ice cream truck, making the decision about your treat for the day, and settling down with friends and family to indulge in a little sweet, cold goodness?
Or am I just showing my age?
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Monday, July 09, 2007
I don't even like the song, particularly, but the whole thing is cringingly humiliating for all involved. (Really, Beach Boys - way to sell your souls!)
What can we do to stop the blatant misuse of the music of our teen years for incontinence ads, retirement planning commercials, and wheelchair promos? It's embarrassing. Stop it. Now. Or I'll be forced to create a flatulence medication commercial set to "Louie, Louie." And it won't be pretty.
Here. See for yourself (but don't watch the whole thing, for goodness' sake!):
Sunday, July 08, 2007
Now, you know I couldn't experience cross-country air travel without a complaint session. But no. No. No complaints. Just a suggestion.
You know how we have format radio? R&B only. Hip-Hop only. Oldies only. (The downfall of radio in my mind, but I digress.) So here's my idea: Format Air Travel. Here's how it would work:
KidAir: Families traveling with children 10 years old or younger must take KidAir. It would also be open to everyone else (few takers, though, me thinks), but if you are 10 or younger or are traveling with little darlings, this is your new mode of air transportation. The little dears would be free to yell, scream, cry, throw things, run up and down the aisles, throw up junk food - all the things they do on regular airlines now, but parents and grandparents wouldn't have to even give the illusion of controlling their sweet offspring (as if they do, anyway).
ProAir: Reserved for seasoned travelers - business or otherwise. Must present well-used passport and show proof of frequent-flyer miles on at least 4 different airlines. Sorry occasional travelers going to Hawaii for the first time, ProAir is not for you. You will be taunted and driven from the gate if you even attempt to board. And boy, does the security line move! ProAir travelers know the 3-1-1 and to take their laptops out of the case. (If you don't know 3-1-1, then ProAir won't even take your reservation.)
PartyAir: For drunken football fans and teeny-bopper spring breakers. A more generic version of Hooters Air, PartyAir would cater for bean-brains of both genders and all ages (11 and over, of course - otherwise, see KidAir). Liquor would be free-flowing, everyone could talk as loud as they want, laugh till beer comes out their noses, wear bright Hawaiian shirts, and generally irritate people however you see fit. Woo-hoo!
SleepAir: You get on, find your seat, go to sleep. No noise. At all. No movies, no safety announcements, no annoying pilot travelogue telling you you're flying over the Grand Canyon - no noise period. You may read a book as long as you do it without turning on a light or making noise turning pages (so no magazines - too noisy). Shhhhhhhh! You're on SleepAir.
OK. That's my contribution to the enhancement of air travel. Sorry. Can't do anything about on-time departures/arrivals. Or weather delays.
Thursday, July 05, 2007
And just look! I leave Lil Sis alone with the hooch-purchases for a split-second, and she's sampling the goods. Ah, well. I do owe her something for her hospitality this week, so I don't mind sharing. Oh, and thanks, Dewey and Marilyn, for driving us around to the wineries and other scenic sites. We had a wonderful day!
After our wine tour Lil Sis and I took it slow and easy on the 5-hour drive from Lompoc to Yorba Linda. OK, we did stop at In-and-Out Burger, plus TJ Maxx to get me a swim suit, but what really slowed us down was the traffic through Los Angeles. Murder! Our system was to drive as fast as we could until we reached the next traffic jam - first on 101, then 60.
No wonder we've spent the last two days floating around the pool.