Archive for August, 2012

What an adventure

I had a discussion with a friend recently about why guys and girls our age aren’t married. It was entertaining and cathartic — and long.

Do you have 12 hours to spare? No? I didn’t think so. If you ever want the complete list, I’ll compose a novel for your reading agony. For now, though, I wanted to post about a thought my friend shared and a video clip that addresses the problem he pointed out.

My friend believes that among the many stumbling blocks that crowd the road to matrimonial bliss is a rather large, Hollywood-sponsored boulder. Think Kathleen Kelly and Joe Fox. Mary Fiore and Steve Edison. Buttercup and Wesley.

Yes, friends, we’re talking about romantic comedies. Those chick flicks that we willing label as cheesy but secretly hope are based on real events. Plenty of girls fall into the chiseled arms of handsome strangers (who also just happen to be doctors) every day, right? And all boys respond to a woman’s every request with “As you wish,” don’t they?

While I like to pretend that my feet are too firmly planted on the ground to hope for a sappy, cinematic meet-cute, I think my friend was right. To a certain extent, the media we guzzle affects what we expect out of a man — and a marriage.

It’s true that pretty much every rom-com fills our female heads with visions of unattainable partnership perfection. I’m willing to admit it. But today, as I read an article about movie moments guaranteed to make you cry (you’ve been warned), I came across this clip from “Up.” And it was the perfect antidote to my warped visions of wedded bliss.

I think if I watch this nine-minute love story enough times, I’ll be able to undo years of sugar-coated silliness. If you’re married, I’m sure you can relate to some of this couples’ joys and heartbreaks. If you’re single, I think you’ll appreciate the reality check.

It’s a sweet, sad, meaningful adventure.

Running away to home

As a child, I mastered the art of running away from home. Our house in Boston had a large front yard that slopped steeply up to the sidewalk, and at the top of the hill there was a rock, which was just the right size for a 7-year-old to hide behind.

I remember sitting behind that rock on numerous occasions and smugly picturing my parents’ terror at finding me missing. Hidden from the view of the wrap-around porch, I imagined them searching local bus stops and wandering the tree-lined streets, frantically calling my name and promising extra desserts and later bedtimes if I would only agree to come home.

Most of these rebellious episodes ended after about five minutes. That was all the time it took for me to realize that the only place I really wanted to be when I was feeling hurt or confused was home. (I think I also realized at some point that my blond pigtails popping up from behind the rock consistently gave me away.)

This weekend, change and bothersome grown-up problems made me feel like I had been crouched behind that rock for far too long. I felt the pull of small-town sunsets, my queen-size bed and Mom’s cooking, so I ran away to home.

It was far from a logical decision. The four-hour trek through tumbleweed fields to a place where I only lived for a few years while attending college didn’t make much sense. I could hardly stay on the right side of the road as I attempted to see through stress-induced sobs, and I could feel work emails flooding my inbox. There was a moment when I wondered if I should turn around.

But when I walked in the door of our red-brick rambler, I knew I’d made the right decision. The same sense of warmth and acceptance I used to feel in my childhood home was just as strong in our Idaho abode. A love note from my 10-year-old brother was waiting, along with a wallet and matching necklace and bracelet made out of neon tape. That’s when the sad sobs turned to tears of joy. (Now I understand why kids’ crafts make mothers cry.)

There’s a picture that hangs over the entryway doors in our house that captures perfectly the reason running away to home was so appealing. The saying in the picture is a quote from the Bible (Haggai 2:9): “… And in this place will I give peace.”

Having places of peace to run to is a blessing, and I have to tip my hat to my parents for making our home one of those places.

What are you places of peace? I hope you have a moment to runaway to one of them this week.

The perfect workout

A few months ago, I saw this video, which features two of my favorite things: dancing and New York. I hope this isn’t news to anyone — my favorite things, not the fact that I watched the video.

I drive 30 minutes to my Zumba class five nights a week. Crazy? Yes. Worth it? Totally. (Check out the incredible Teresa, if you need convincing.) And don’t get me started on New York. The mere mention makes me want to walk outside and hail a cab for 66th between Madison and Park. It just sounds so classy, doesn’t it?

I’m afraid our main form of public transportation in SL, TRAX, won’t take me as far as Manhattan, so I’m satisfying my city cravings by sharing this video with you.

Behold, a way to dance anytime, anywhere: dance-walking. For those of you who are worried that I’ve been blinded to the social awkwardness of this activity by the catchy beat of Carly Rae Jeppsen’s “Call Me Maybe,” fear not.

I know he looks ridiculous.

For those of you who worry I might take up this embarrassing toe-tapping trend, too late. I’ve been doing this not so discreetly in restaurants and grocery stores for years.

Muchness

Have you seen Tim Burton’s 2010 remake of “Alice in Wonderland”? It’s characteristically bizarre, fascinating and off-putting, but a particular observation by Johnny Depp’s convincingly mad Mad Hatter about Alice has stuck with me:

“You used to be much more … ‘muchier.’ You’ve lost your muchness.”

I love that word: muchness. I think we all go through phases when we get stuck in ruts and lose sight of our dreams, our goals and our sense of wonder — our muchness. Does Alice’s quote from the equally outlandish but somehow charming 1951 animated film ring a bell?

“I’m afraid I can’t explain myself, you see, because I’m not myself, you know.”

I’ve certainly felt this way before. Sometimes I lose my muchness in the midst of the keyboards, apps and semicolons that make up my career. Other times it seems to be drained by my own tendency to worry and live in the extremes. In general, though, I think my muchness naturally diminishes a just little bit every day, and if I don’t make an effort to keep it around, the decrease becomes not only perceptible but detrimental.

The good news is, muchness is very similar to those 20 pounds you lose on a week-long cayenne pepper and maple syrup cleanse: it’s not lost forever.

This week I’m making a concerted effort to rediscover and reclaim my muchness. I’m trying to reincorporate activities into my life that help me expand my talents, deepen my knowledge and appreciate everyday life.

Here are some questions from Oprah’s (Don’t roll your eyes. You know you love her.) “Where do you find joy?” quiz that have helped me in my quest to be muchier. Here’s to hoping they help you, too.

  • When I was a kid, I used to love  ____________
  • I’ve always wanted to become really good at ______________
  • I can lose track of time when I’m ______________
  • Nothing clears my head like _______________