Dreams of an extraordinary writer

Thoughts, sometimes rants and abstract conventions, from a writer extraordinaire... From business to marriage and relationships you never know what you'll find here - tune in!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Halloween isn't just once a year!

My husband and I attend quite a number of formal events together, almost at the rate of 1 or 2 per month. Certainly around the winter holidays, that number increases significantly for November, December and January. This has been an ongoing part of my life for almost 10 years and his life for almost 5.

While we enjoy the general level of polite electricity in the air and seeing people we haven't seen for a while, often since the same party the previous year (there is little overlap in party attendees for the functions we attend), we are inherent people watchers.
And, what we see, observe, watch and follow is at times down right laughable, other times it is merely a sad commentary on life in general.

There is one constant -- everyone has a different sense of style, everyone has a different sense of their body type and unfortunately, not everyone knows the difference. There are also the wanna' be's -- the pretenders who think they have the authority and knowledge to pull something off, like the very formal function we attended this past weekend.

This event started early and appropriately many men wore white evening jackets/tux jackets. But they wore them for the entire evening, not appropriately changing to black after the cocktail hour -- Even if the sense of style may not be 100%, doesn't anyone remember Sean Connery's evening attire in all those 007 movies? He would never be caught dead in a white dinner jacket at 10PM at the baccarat table! And they certainly wouldn't wear a white evening or diner jacket with a colorful neck tie!

We'll not even get into the issues with women and dress here... All I could think about was Cameron Diaz' role in In Her Shoes and how desperately some of the women in this world really do need a good fashion consultant/buyer.

The bottom line this weekend however, was a mutual promise made between my husband and myself that we not let the other go out in public, especially to a function like the one we were at, looking like sausage stuffed into too small a casing, or in something that just is not flattering, no matter how much honest between us might hurt. It's kind of reminiscent of being on a beach at a Club Med resort almost 30 years ago -- several men in their late 70s and early 80s were wearing very skimpy speedo bathing suits. Not a visual you want to savour in your memory, not a visual you even want to be exposed to.

Face it, if you have the proper attitude, everyday is Halloween... Whether that be at every local shopping mall, whether that be at nightclubs, whether that be at formal events... Personally, I like to know the person inside the oft' times inappropriate wrapping.
Happy Halloween all.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Delicate business matters

I have never been one to ask people for money. Even as a child when I'd loan someone a quarter or dollar, I could never bring myself to ask them for it back at a later time if it was not offered to me in repayment on a timely basis. As an independent business person, however, this definitely can get in the way of making a profit.

So, where does one balance the demand for funds with the requirement to remain curtious? The problem in a virtual business setting dealing with clients all over the world is collecting that other half... it's not like you're in a face-to-face situation or that you can go down the block or across town and sit on their doorstep or camp out in someone's office until you leave with a check in your hand.

While contracts are used for all projects, enforcing them is just as hard as collecting receivables is. Especially for smaller amounts between $100 - $300. For projects less than $100 payment in full is required at the start, but for projects in the middle range, I get the sense that people who are unscrupulous do not see the sense or necessity of paying a balance to someone who is not local because of the costs and headache involved in trying to take them to small claims court for the balance...

As someone who was raised to be honest at all cost and who has a strong sense of integrity, I find this discouraging.

I guess it's time to enter a FAQ page on my website that spells out my general business terms; which may or may not be superceded by those stated in a contract...

Have a great weekend - as for me, I'm going to send Guido to San Diego to collect an overdue receivable.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Too old for drama

Approaching 50 this year is creating great reflective episodes for me and changes. Of course, a heart attack will do that to you too, so I'm not quite sure which one precipitated the reflection, but being health minded I'm relating it to my age.

I'm going to go off on a rant about how men age more gracefully than women -- not with the way I've seen most men aging these days, I think the tide is seriously shifting... But I am making subtle changes. I'm facing the fact I have had to change my makeup of all things from the more intense to the softer tones -- not for the sake of reducing wrinkles which thank heaven there are few, but for overall appearance... My skin just doesn't have the youthful dewiness to it anymore - and I'm playing around a bit more with haircolor - some for fun, more to find the shade I like and that is appropriate for me...

Clothing on the other hand - well, let's just say I'm still dressing like I look; in my 30's -- and I'm finally having fun! I'm fortunate enough to have the figure, perhaps not as tight as it used to be - now when you try to bounce a quarter off my butt it doesn't exactly bounce, but it doesn't get lost in the folds either! I still cut quite a figure in the same hip-huggers my parents wouldn't allow me to wear 40 years ago.

But more important than the outside is the inside - I'm actively pursuing my dreams and even wrapping intermediate goals around them in order to achieve what it is I'm seeking. I'm actually becoming patient in what I refer to as my old age... Mind you patience was NEVER one of my virtues. I think some people might interpret my patience now as a form of stuffing my emotions, but upon reflection, it's actually patience on my part - granted often mixed with a certain level of angst, but patience none the less.

And perhaps the biggest change is that I realize I'm just too old for drama -- the drama other people create in their lives and draw you into, the sagas of woe that continue like a soap opera with daily phone calls updating you on the latest tale of sorrow. Taking a step back while still being emotionally supportive is huge.

The only place I like my drama, thank you, is on television or at the theater.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Stepford cities

I live in a Stepford City. I know, there has been no official movie out with that title, other horror films have skirted the issue, but I live in the real life embodiment of a Stepford City. Lawns are perfect; families only drive brand new shiny SUV's -- if you drive an older car that is a sedan you are totally out of place and looked down on, literally and figuratively, by the other drivers on the streets. Streets are always clean, even the highways are washed regularly; street lines are repainted for crispness and a fresh appearance with unnecessary regularity --

However -- and this is the big however-- and where the horror part comes in for me --

People who live in Stepford are not considerate. While they may have the large expensive house that contains little to no furnishings, they may have the SUV, they have their requisite 2+ children enrolled in the better schools, they have their dogs groomed, they even have their SUV looing like it's never had an ounce of dust or road dirt on it -- BUT THEY ARE RUDE!

Who starts a wood chipper at 6:00 in the morning on a weekday? Who leaves their dogs out baying and barking day and night? Who lets their dog poo on the greenbelt without picking it up with the poo bags that are right there on a post for them to grab? Simple answer.
The people of Stepford.

It's been along time since I've felt I belong in a city where I happen to live for one reason or other. But it's obvious I don't belong in Stepford... My husband and I own a perfectly functioning 10 year old pontiac sedan, we do not have children, we call our dogs in when they start barking and rarely leave the dogs out unsupervised for more than two minutes, we don't mow the lawn before 9:30 or after 6:00.

Stepford needs a community wide lesson in consideration.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Where have all the flowers gone?

Along with thousands, perhaps millions, of other viewers this weekend, I had the opportunity to see Peter, Paul and Mary on a PBS special retrospective of their work, their lives and their music. Somehow folk music touches my soul in a place nothing else can. I listen to The Weavers, Peter, Paul & Mary, The Kingston Trio or others and for some reason or other, sit and bawl like a baby. So for approximately three hours I sat in front of the television staring at a very healthful looking Noel (Paul), a slightly weary looking Peter Yarrow and a grossly overweight Mary Travis wondering, truly, where have all the flowers gone?

Their music is still just as inspiring as it was 40 years ago and their voices still blend, but the quality of their voices that many are still hearing is not the reality of what their voices truly sound like now -- it's but a memory taking over and fooling the mind. In other words, do I really want the PBS video of the program? No. Do I want to remember Mary Travis as a young woman with an incredibly clear voice? Absolutely. Do I want to know that Mary has become as overweight as she is and be reminded of how her weight has disfigured her face? No. Will I always cherish my album from their 25th anniversary? Absolutely. I truly think that was the last time they sounded as close to having their original sound in recent years.

I remember about 15 years ago I heard Dion at a state fair; he couldn't hit the notes anymore and it was a sad sight and sound... He wore a cap to hide his thinning hair, his voice was weak and the thrill was gone. Sometimes some things are best left when they do fade out.

So, do I cry knowing that Little Jackie Paper grew up too, that Puff the Magic Dragon is no longer breathing fire and is desolate and alone in his cave, perhaps growing weary and dying due to a culture that will never know him the way I did? Or do we all have that special place in our hearts along the shores of Hannalee that we can go back to every now and then to visit, recharge and play on Cherry Lane?

So even though it's springtime I still wonder: where have all the flowers gone?

And now, I'll try to dry my tears.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Order of the seasons

One thing about living in Colorado - for all it's majesty and extraordinary beauty, we don't get to truly experience the splendor of the change of seasons -- as a matter of fact, it feels like we only have two - Summer and Winter. Spring lasts perhaps a day, and even then you can't be certain until sometime in June that it won't snow again until October... Fall is much the same, we get perhaps one week of leaves changing color, sometimes as early as late August to signal an early winter frost - and then within a week leaves are already falling off the trees...

I was quite purposeful this year about experiencing spring. On my daily walks from early March on I was watching the buds form on the twiglike trees along the greenbelt and explode forth with greenery -- due to one of those Colorado weather things we experienced a massive unseasonal blizzard in October last year which seriously damaged almost 75% of the foliage in my city -- so, some of the trees are not responding well this spring; yet none-the-less, I've been patiently watching... watching and waiting for the trees to green up while it's been in the 80's already for weeks.

Driving home today I noticed many other trees already had their spring flowers of crimson, white and lilac -- so much beauty yet so little time -- within weeks the summer like sun will cause the blossoms to wither away -- again, getting right to the heart of summer.

We even re-installed our window air conditioner this morning -- testing out a new location to try to cool the entire house -- we'll see what happens my friends.

In the meantime, stay cool, stay comfortable, put on some shorts, tank top, sandals and sunscreen -- Summer's here, at least in Colorado, at least until we get our final snow storm for the season...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Fire and Rain

This morning was a bit chaotic - lots of morning chores to do, including taking hubby to work so I could have the car later in the day when needed -- on the way home I was listening to an oldies station and heard a song that took me back 47, almost 48 years - but the memories were as vivid as if they happened but an hour before...

7th grade. A time of horror and a time of new beginnings for me.... mostly horror from the other kids in junior high teasing and taunting the teacher's pet/geek that I was... But my memory path this morning took me to a peaceful and wondrous moment... Music was my life, my escape. Our teacher, Miss Cooper favored me because of my personality and my musical abilities. I was also favored by some of the upper classmen in the school, especially the music department. One girl, a 9th grader (ooooohhhhh, how cool is that to a 7th grader, huh?), Sue Carlson sat on the edge of the auditorium (in those days, another name for the gymnasium when needed for assemblies or recitals) with her guitar and played Fire and Rain -- my first introduction to James Taylor. I was amazed that she could sing so well on a solo; that she played the guitar so well and that there was this wonderful music that didn't belong to Rogers and Hammerstein or Paul Anka that had depth and meaning.

While most of us, at least those who were interested enough to follow the comings and goings, the drug use and rehab, poor performances and returns of the legendary greats, of which I consider James Taylor to be one, this morning I wonder what happened to Sue Carlson and Miss Cooper.

Have a great day; perhaps listen to "You've Got a Friend" and think of how special true friendship really is.