In Love with Pat Sajak – A funny little story

pat-sajak-wheel-fortune-2.jpg

As a child, I wrote my diary in code, knowing my mother would likely find it and read it. I swapped names, and made substitutions, just to throw her off the scent of what I was really thinking and feeling.

One of my first adolescent crushes, I referred to as Pat Sajak (the Wheel of Fortune guy), pulling the random celebrity name from my jumbled mind. To this day, I can’t help but smile as I wonder if she really thought I had romantic notions towards the middle-aged game show host?

Advertisements

Writing Prompt: What Would Your Happy Ending Look Like?

32140-425x282-BookCopyright.jpg

For a while I’ve been wanting to start posting occasional writing prompts to my blog. Just a question or two or a spark of an idea to hopefully inspire you guys to take up your pen/pencils/keyboard and write out your thoughts and feelings. Even if you aren’t a writer by profession like myself, writing out your ideas, beliefs, and emotions can be extremely therapeutic. I plan to post the prompt itself and then do a short writing response myself to the prompt to hopefully inspire you further or help you get to know me even better. So today’s prompt is…

What would you envision as a happy ending to your own life?

My response: If I could plan the perfect ending to my life, it would look something like this: Most importantly, I would die loved and surrounded by people who will genuinely miss me. I hate to think of hurting people by leaving when they want me to stick around, but it is much better than the alternative of dying all alone and having either no one to care or having a funeral where only the officiator shows up.

Secondly, I would like to go out a success. What does that mean to me? Not being rich necessarily, although it would mean not dying penniless or homeless or from starvation and lack of medical care. I would have enough resources to meet my needs and a few pleasures on a regular basis. I would die having left a large positive impact on the world, being respected for what I did, inspiring others to be more creative and compassionate, and having contributed to helping many people think about important things more thoroughly and reasonably.

Lastly, a good death to me would mean that all the people and things I loved and leave behind (family, friends, books, toys) will all have found good homes of their own and others who appreciate and love them as much as I did.

Dear Einstein, A Letter to a Beloved Lost Pet

12087985_950467538325337_1373750601470858706_n

Dear Einstein,

I’ve been dreading this for years. I knew when I chose to have so many cats that I would someday likely have to make a decision about whether to artificially extend one of your lives or try to save you from enduring unnecessary pain. Even so, when the decision had to be made, it was no easier, even though I had said for years that I would rather have to put one of you down than to see you suffer needlessly. This is the first time I have had such power over the life or death of a loved one and I hope it will be the last, although I know it probably won’t.

To be honest, you have been kind of a pain in the butt for most of your life. As a kitten you were a holy terror who had amazing powers of destruction. As an adult, you were a grumpy, angry cat who would often give a warning bite when petted the wrong way (pretty much anywhere but around the head). You were fun to tease because your reaction would be over the top within seconds. All I had to do was walk within a couple feet of you and you would start growling in annoyance. You were definitely the alpha male in this house and constantly reminded us of that fact. You reminded everyone of a regal lion, both in dignity and in your attitude of entitlement.

As we sat in the veterinary emergency room, making a decision about your fate, one of the vet techs came in and told us what a sweetheart you were. We laughed and said “she really doesn’t know you well, does she?” The fact that anyone would think that, told us how very sick you were. To be seen as cooperative and mellow just wasn’t in your nature. As I looked into your sad, blank face with tears running down my own cheeks, I knew I had to let you go. If we fought to keep you alive, you would have been miserable. I know you would have hated the long hospitalization, frequent medical procedures and forced medication.

Even had we went ahead with the treatment, the vet was blunt about the fact that you had six months at most to live and even that was highly unlikely. He told us the cost of treatment in dollars and that was certainly something that would have been a struggle for us, but the true cost to us was the misery we knew we would have to put you through just to keep you with us a bit longer. In good conscience, I couldn’t do that to you, because regardless of how mean and grumpy you could be, I love you with all my heart.

I admire your straightforward, take-no-crap attitude and the fact that you were never afraid to be yourself and stare any enemy down. I admire your intelligence…Einstein was definitely a fitting name for you. I loved the precious moments when you would be uncharacteristically loving and sweet (mostly when you were sucking up or asking for something). I think of you every time I open the door and you aren’t there trying to sneak out. It is these things, these precious memories that I will carry with me now that you are gone. I love you and miss you. Goodbye, my sweet Steiner.

Thank you “Fifty Shades of Grey” for making my life look great

collection-fiftyshades-gallery_0

So today I decided to go see the Fifty Shades of Grey movie. Tuesdays are bargain day at our local theater so I figured it would be the best time to go if I bothered to see it. I didn’t want to drag my husband to the movie because he hated the Twilight series for having no plot…and the Fifty Shades series makes Twilight look downright complex. I skimmed through the first two books of the Fifty Shades series and made it about halfway through the last book, so I did have an idea of what I would be in for with the movie.

First off, let me say that some of the others who showed up for the movie kind of surprised me. As I expected, there were groups of women, a few couples and quite a few single women like me there (this is the first time I’ve gone to a theater all by myself and that was actually kind of liberating in a way). What surprised me were the few single men (because this is billed as such a “chick flick”) and the 70 & 80 year-old women who came, one of whom (an adorable little old lady) sat right beside me. For a moment I felt like I was seeing the movie with my grandmother and that kind of threw me off balance a bit!

Anyhow, as I watched the movie, it was pretty much what I expected, a somewhat tamed down version of the book. Although I do understand why many women don’t like this series and think it encourages stalking, unrealistic expectations and domestic abuse, I don’t feel quite that strongly about it because there is consent. Anastasia may seem stupid in many ways and definitely makes some questionable decisions, but she is a consenting adult. She has quite a few chances to walk away and doesn’t do so. I know she seems innocent (maybe too much so for living in today’s world) but she does know what she is getting into, especially once she is given that contract to study.

As for Mr. Grey, I can see some of why the character is appealing to some women. He is rich, good-looking, can be sweet at times and represents a sexual fantasy fairly common to both sexes (that of being dominated or dominating someone else). Those aren’t the things that bother me. He is undoubtedly somewhat stalkery and controlling…but again, Anastasia’s character chooses to allow that to have him in her life. What truly bothers me about Mr. Grey’s character is how he is so messed up from his own abusive history that he wants to actually hurt women. He wants to cause pain. To me, there is nothing sexy about that. I know that there are those who like the BDSM lifestyle and enjoy a certain amount of pain…but I doubt that most true BDSM practitioners would want to cause pain to someone who clearly does not enjoy it or go beyond their partner’s pain threshold. I can see why the BDSM community hates this portrayal of their sexual fetishes.

As the movie neared its end I was surprised to see women in the audience around me crying. I sat there and wondered why they were crying. Were they frustrated and annoyed like me because Anastasia wouldn’t just say the safe word or yell stop? Were some of them victims of abuse in the past and this triggered that as they saw Anastasia cry miserably in pain? Were they simply feeling sad that Grey’s character was so messed up emotionally? Did they feel for Anastasia’s character, who clearly felt humiliated and heartbroken because the man she loved carried so much pain that he had to make others feel that pain? After the credits started, I heard cries of “is that it?” and “what the heck?” from others in the theater. Guess they hadn’t read the books.

As I got in my car and drove home, the main feeling I had was that I am so THANKFUL to have a husband who is not emotionally or mentally messed up like that. I’m glad that my husband has never once wanted to hurt or humiliate me. In fact, if anything, he would do anything in his power to prevent me pain or to take it away when I am suffering. So thank you Mr. Grey. You made my husband look even more wonderful and made me deeply thankful for what I have. You made me realize how strong I am because I never would have put up with your crap in the first place (had I been Anastasia that would have been one short book!). In the end, I guess fantasies are ok and maybe fun to indulge in to an extent, but nothing beats a good reality!

Admit that you can be prejudiced…

43c-prejudice

I know this is a sensitive subject, but I want to be honest about it. First off, I know that the last thing anyone wants to admit to is having a racist or prejudiced thought. For some reason, we think that if we have a wayward thought or idea about this subject even once in a while that it automatically puts us in the company of the KKK or other hate groups. However, I believe that if we live long enough, all of us will have at least occasional prejudiced/racist/stereotypical thoughts or ideas. It is unfortunately a part of living in the culture we exist in. By pretending that we never have these ideas, we are actually making the problem worse, not better. If we could identify our prejudiced or stereotypical thoughts and recognize them for what they are, then we could consciously decide to change those beliefs and ideas. That is the way we could really get rid of the damaging effects of prejudice.

For instance, most of us have at least some stereotypical beliefs. Even positive ones (like that Asians are all super smart or that African Americans are better athletes) are still stereotypes. I admit that I occasionally have stereotypical beliefs, so when I do, I have to consciously grab them and think them through to decide whether they are really true or not. For instance, watching the news makes it easy for me to think that all conservatives look down on the poor and are greedy. Of course, this is not always true, but it is a stereotype I see frequently. On the other side, I know many people stereotype liberals as being wimpy and lazy. The trouble is that most of the time these beliefs are not critically analyzed and we only look at one side of the story (the one we happen to agree with). We are all victims of bias and perception, but we refuse to see it.

As a child, I honestly do not remember prejudice or racism. I grew up in an urban Indiana neighborhood that was very much a melting pot. My elementary school was probably at least 50% minority, although back then I never even thought about that kind of stuff. My mom dated guys outside of her race and for a while one of those guys was like a second father to me and lived with us. My older sister’s first real boyfriend was from a minority as well. I think my first real look at prejudice came around the age of 11 when I moved to a small town in Georgia. In this small town minorities were rare and in my middle and high school, racism definitely existed. Most minorities stuck to their own kind. There wasn’t a lot of intermixing and the town was almost set up in a segregated fashion (clearly marked minority neighborhoods and even a separate cemetery for non-whites). This new culture was certainly a shock to me, as were some of the hateful comments I heard. Of course, these people would have denied being prejudiced if confronted, but behind the scenes they were definitely not shy about their beliefs.

As an adult, I definitely try to be open-minded and not stereotype people or groups, but I will admit that I am not perfect. For instance, one night I remember my husband and I going to a local White Castle and noticing that we were the only “white” people in the crowded restaurant. I hate to admit it, but I experienced some momentary discomfort and just felt kind of “out of place”. However, as I sat there, I thought about the fact that minorities probably often find themselves in this kind of situation. I’m used to looking around and seeing lots of other people who look like me, but many others don’t regularly have that experience. Thinking the issue through, truly gave me an entirely new perspective and made me sympathize with those who often find themselves surrounded by others who are different from them in some way.

I’ll also admit that the first time we took in a foster child from a minority that I was a little more anxious than I should have been. When we accepted that foster placement, we didn’t even know he was from a minority, so when I first saw him I was surprised a bit and also a little worried. My first thoughts were to question whether I could do a good job raising someone from a different culture, however, once the child moved in and we got to know him it was soon clear that underneath the exterior differences he was just like every other kid we had taken in. Soon I was going to bat for him against others who were stereotyping him or treating him like he didn’t exist.

In the end, my point is that when we do have thoughts or experiences that bring out the “prejudice” or “racism” hidden inside of us, it can be an opportunity to learn and grow if we face it head on and think things through. However, if we just sweep it under the rug and pretend it doesn’t exist, we only help to perpetuate the problem.

Maleficent movie review – Disney keeps heading in a good direction

Angelina Jolie in "Maleficent"

Angelina Jolie in “Maleficent”

Recently I went to see Disney’s new film “Maleficent”. At first I wasn’t sure if I wanted to see it because I have never been an Angelina Jolie fan, but the movie pleasantly surprised me. I love the backstory – getting to see Maleficent’s childhood and why she grew up to be a “villain”. I have always adored stories of revenge and redemption, and Maleficent definitely fits into that category.

Probably my favorite thing about the movie though is that Disney continued their recent trend of not relying on the prince to “save the day” or to save the “poor defenseless female”. Looks like Disney finally has caught on that many women and little girls want to be strong, independent, feminine and loved all at the same time.

Like “Brave” and “Frozen”, “Maleficent” features love that is both redeeming and sacrificial…but it isn’t a romantic love relationship that appears the strongest. In “Brave”, the most important love relationship throughout the movie was Merida’s relationship with her mother. In “Frozen”, the love of sisters took center stage. I won’t spoil “Maleficent” by revealing too much, but once again, it is not romantic love that saves the day. I am so thrilled to see that other loving relationships are finally getting the attention they deserve. I have nothing against romantic love, I am happily married myself. But I have always believed that other kinds of love can be just as strong, if not stronger. Acts of true love between family members, friends, pets and occasionally even strangers can make as much of an impact on a life as any romantic relationship.

I hope that Disney continues to explore love in all its many forms. As for “Maleficent”, if you haven’t seen it yet, I would definitely recommend it. It is surprisingly sweet and funny, with good acting and lovely visual effects. Know that it does not follow the earlier Disney version of Sleeping Beauty exactly, but it is an interesting and magical story on its own. Don’t think of it as “replacing” the old classic, but instead, just telling another side of the story.

Seeing kindness, sacrifice and love in a Wendy’s dining room

Image

“Simply Love”, watercolor 6″ x 8″

I must look like an approachable person, because I often get random strangers coming up to me and starting the oddest conversations or just saying random things out of the blue. This often happens when I am having lunch at a fast food restaurant for some reason. I have had strangers come up to me and say all kinds of things, from the construction workers at Arby’s who accused me of skipping school and wouldn’t leave me alone until I showed them some ID, to the elderly man at McDonald’s who came up to me and said that he just had to tell me that I was “one of the most beautiful girls he had ever seen in person” (I must admit when he said that I thought he might need new glasses lol). I’ve had other strangers start random conversations with me about religion, politics, food, cats…and lots of other stuff I just don’t remember right now.

However, today’s chance encounter at Wendy’s was even odder than many in the past. I was sitting in the Wendy’s dining room, eating my french fries and working on puzzles in my word games book, when I noticed someone standing over me. I looked up to find an older African American gentleman who was dressed a little eccentrically (he had thick chains hung in an X shape on his chest over an old faded rock t-shirt). He handed me a quarter, smiled and walked away. I looked at the quarter and at his back – a little confused. Never had a stranger just walked up and handed me a quarter unless I had dropped one or left it laying somewhere. A few minutes later, I noticed him standing over me again. “Are you a school girl?” he asked. “No, I graduated,” I answered (not bothering to say that I had graduated about 13 years ago). He handed me another quarter. I thanked him and told him he was very kind and he smiled and walked away again.

A few minutes later, I was about to throw the rest of my food away (just some leftover fries) when he stopped me and asked if I was going to throw the fries away. I answered yes and he asked if he could have them. I started to hand them over, when another man (a Caucasian businessman from the looks of him) overheard our conversation and asked the elderly man if he had any money for food. “I had fifty cents, but I knew that wasn’t enough to buy anything to eat, so I thought I would give it to this sweet young lady in case she needed it,” he answered.

I was a little stunned by the whole exchange and not sure what to say, but the businessman jumped up immediately and took the old guy up to the counter to get him some lunch. I looked at the quarters and realized that even though I had wondered why anyone would give a stranger two quarters, that this had been all the man had to offer and he had wanted to give me something as a gesture of kindness. I thanked the businessman for his kindness to the elderly man and headed out for my doctor’s appointment which was next door. When I told my doctor about the encounter, he was pretty sure that he knew the older man. He explained that the man lived nearby and had some mild to moderate mental disabilities. You just never know who you will meet in this world or how they will impact your day.