Monday, March 22, 2010

Getting Over It --- Whatever "It" Is

I've just been reading Deepak Chopra on happiness.  You know what that means.  I've gotta get over something.

I might be getting a little hypochondriac-ish.  Gotta get over that.  But I have a lot of stuff going wrong with me.  I was playing on my Wii and stretched a tendon in the arch of my foot past the point of no return.  That's a kick in the pants.

What if I'm on my way to dowager-ville?  Some people gain weight in their hips or thighs.  I might gain weight on my back!  Up high.  Oh no!Quasimoto!  With hips and thighs.

I've got a a floater in my left eye.  It does as its moniker suggests, drifting in and out of my field of vision just when the six pack abs commercial comes on.

My mood - mostly okay.  I quit saying, "Fine," when people ask how I'm doing.  Partly because George Carlin said it's inane to say "fine," and partly because I've realigned my responses to more nearly match reality.  "Fine" could be overstating it.  Sometimes I say "groovy."  I haven't been truly groovy in many years, but I enjoy the reaction.

But am I happy?  Sure.  Except, the more I know the less lee-way there is.  Smaller margin of error.

I remember in The Big Chill, Mary Kay Place is talking to JoBeth Williams about the men she meets.  She says with her experiences she can size men up in the first 10 seconds after she meets them and know whether they're worth any effort.  JoBeth says, "Well, at least you give them a fair shot."

That's me.  I can zero in on the salient pretty quickly now.  With age and experience comes insight, sometimes mistaken for wisdom.  It just doesn't take that long to size up the newest ride and figure out if it's worth buying a ticket.

But often enough I'm wrong, and I love a surprise.  For example, I can cook!  I'm pretty good at it.  Who knew?  Check out The Flavor Bible

I still hang out with kids for the wonder.  Dogs and cats rock.  Simple and deep all at once. 

Often joy comes in the familiar:  Seeing my husband peek around the living room corner again this evening.  Returning to Yellowstone.  Watching The Sixth Sense the sixth time.  Replaying Achmed the Dead Terrorist and laughing like an Alzheimer's patient.  "Silence! I keel you!"

Can you hear me Deepak?  I'm happy I tell you.  I'm over it, whatever it was.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I'm from Oklahoma. Read: Scotland

I had the honor and privilege of attending a swearing-in ceremony for 1303 new citizens of the United States of America yesterday.

I sat in the balcony of Oakland's Paramount Theatre, an Art Deco icon.  The Art Deco Style is defined by eclecticism, a perfect metaphor for a melting pot.  Families and friends of the imminent citizens from 105 countries surrounded me along with gilded curtains and walls, sweeping images of man and nature. 

We watched a video about Ellis Island.  I saw the face of my great great grandfather on the screen.  Or someone who looked just like him.  Like most American citizens, I descended from immigrants. 

We sang the National Anthem together with tears streaming down our faces.  We put hands on our hearts and pledged allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.

We heard a man from US Citizenship & Immigration Services speak seven languages with ease.  I marveled at his facility, but the young woman seated next to me said, "I think this should all be in English.  They're becoming American citizens, after all."

I thought about my great great grandfather and wondered what resistance he encountered in New York and Missouri.  And my great great grandmother, and my great grandpa.  When those people who got here first looked at my family, did they see human beings?

Many years ago, I took in a stray kitten.  Tiny, filthy, and on the verge of becoming ferrel, she had been taunted and battered by the young boys living in the apartment below mine.  After weeks of coaxing, she finally allowed me to lift her into my arms.  Shuddering with fear, she clung to me as we ascended to my apartment.  She lived with me for 16 years.  Lulu. 

In Lulu's 13th year, a wet, ragged, and desperate kitten found its way to the crawl space under my house.  Of course I took her in, if only for a few days to find her a new home.  To my surprise, Lulu didn't just resent the new kitty, she actively stalked her and attacked her at every opportunity.  "You don't belong here!" she seemed to be saying.  "Go back where you came from!  This is my house."

I guess Lulu forgot her own history.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

OJ at the Smithsonian

I haven't heard back from the Smithsonian yet.  I sent them a clarifying question:  How do you determine which artifacts to acquire and display?

'Cause I was wondering about O.J. Simpson's suit.  What in blue blazes makes my beloved Smithsonian Institution want that?

There's a clear reason, I'm sure.  My beloved, my esteemed Smithsonian doesn't go around like a drunken lotto winner buying up stuff because "wouldn't it be cool?"  (My brother bought a hearse once.  It was pretty cool.  We had fun driving around thumbing our noses for a while.)  But the Smithsonian has a good reason...just, what is it?

I was thinking of the "Trial of the Century" angle.  So while I'm waiting for them to clear this up, I did some research on famous trials. 

OJ's not the only murdering SOB who generated a media dominating courtroom escapade.  Charles Manson, Scott Peterson...but don't they all belong in Madam Toussaud's Wax Museum exhibit of the macabre?  Surely not the Smithsonian.

There's a difference between dictionaries, in case you didn't know.  Some are dictionaries of Standard American English.  Others are dictionaries of common American usage.  The former shows us the best, what we should strive for.  The latter simply shows us what is. 

I thought the Smithsonian would display the Standard, the highest achievements, the proudest moments.  Yes, American history and culture aren't totally comprised of nobility and glory.  We have to know who we've been and where we've failed.

But OJ Simpson?

All right, I watched the trial.  I watched.  I might watch it again someday like I might watch the "mystery" of Marilyn Monroe's death, or Helter Skelter.  On MSNBC Investigates.  On E! Most Shocking Celebrity Crimes.  I'm not above it. 

But the Smithsonian is.