Where I write

Where I write

January 27, 2016

Angels At the Table

     It was not just a slow night at the restaurant, it had been an entire week of zero business. The type of week where servers start thinking an hourly paid job with a regular paycheck sounds pretty darn fabulous. I'm told in Europe servers get a decent hourly wage, and after a week of minimal tips, I was thinking of relocating to Madrid. 

    Since a plane ticket to Spain was not in my budget, and I'd stocked everything in the restaurant there was to be stocked, and wiped everything that needed to be wiped, I was flipping through a magazine waiting for a table with my hope fading the nearer it got to closing time. I just wanted to toss in the cards and give up for the night. 
   While reading and waiting for the night to end,  I came across an article about Burt Reynolds. Here he is, many moons ago,  in all his hairy glory. I  became engrossed reading about Burt's financial woes which he blamed on poor investments and spendthrift women. A senior citizen now, Burt has to sell his Florida mansion. Not because he can't climb the stairs anymore though the writer said Burt has a problem walking.  One minute he's reclined on a bear rug naked looking, dare I say, cocky, and next he's shuffling around with a cane. 

  Right then I was feeling rather poverty stricken, and my feet hurt, and I could  sure relate to Burt. Well a little. I don't have a million and some dollar mansion to sell. Anyway, Burt said one of his wives, Loni Anderson, caused him the majority of his financial woes.  In this photo she looks angelic. Not the spoiled woman who demanded  expensive outfits each time she went in public. Or so Burt says.  We don't know Loni's side. 
   I was deep in this engrossing article of divorce and debt, when the hostess said I had a table. It was 15 minutes to closing. Every server in America will understand when I say I was about as happy to wait on the people as I would be a root canal. I had waited so long for a table, I no longer cared. I greeted the three women and wondered how fast I could feed them and get them to leave.
   The mother and two daughters were quirky and sweet, but they ordered water without ice. Nothing else to drink. Servers don't find this amusing, especially on a slow night when it's time to go home. Also two of the women split a hamburger. And for this I'm staying late, I thought.  They were lovely women, kept thanking me, and yet my mood was sour. I admit it. I'm not an angel. Though Loni Anderson in that photo above sure does look like an angel no matter what Burt says about her wicked ways.
   Speaking of angels, the women continued to be nice to me each time I refilled their water. Darn them. Then the mother handed me a velvet bag and insisted I pick out two angel cards. One with my left hand and one with my right. I gave up. I gave in and just accepted that I was there to be of service, no matter if I didn't make money, if I was tired, and it was late. And what do you know. I really enjoyed the three women.

    I got these two words. On top of all this, the women tipped me very well. I enjoyed them and we talked for awhile. After they left, I couldn't help think... what was the lesson? This wasn't just a random thing. It felt bigger than that. Important. 

   I like both the words. Grace reminds me of a power greater than myself, and who doesn't like relaxation?

  Before leaving I told my manager about my negative attitude  about that last table and then rest of the story.  I asked him, "What does it mean?" 

 My manager, who I think is one of the funniest, sweetest mangers ever, said he knew what it meant. "Don't be jerk."

    Yep. I was a jerk.  I have to thank my manager who I took this photo of during the holidays. He looks just as proud of himself as Burt once did.  I plan to keep the photo because not only does it make me smile, it can remind me not to be a jerk to people who just want to eat.

   In fact, I think my manager could compete with a young Burt Reynolds, at least in the hair department. 

January 8, 2016

Colors of the Year

Let me introduce the colors for 2016. Serenity on the left and that's Rose Quartz on the right. I had no idea colors of the year was ever even a thing, but  it is important to designers. This year is special because two colors were picked. Apparently I'm not the only indecisive person on the planet. But then, as one perennially happy friend likes to say, why not have both! 

The reason these two colors were picked is as follows:

I'm all for wellness and order and connection and peace. Who isn't?  I can think of a few people, but this is about color not politics. 

Expect to start seeing these two colors on everything from walls to coffee cups to rugs, and beyond. The great color Gods also said that these colors were chosen because they promote "gender equality or fluidity." Or, in simpler terms, come on people let's all get together. Sorta like a song from the 1960s. 
Thinking about these serene 2016 colors, made me reflect upon the colors that defined my youth. Harvest gold. It was everywhere from kitchen appliances to shag carpet.  It was matched with dark wood cabinets which have lately returned to fashion after some years of being snubbed. One thing to be said about harvest gold, no matter how dark the inside of the house was, and many of those 1960s ranch-style tract homes were like caves, one could always find the fridge glowing in the night. 
Avocado was another color one couldn't avoid. Everyone had at least one avocado something in their homes even if it was the TV trays. (For those too young to know what TV trays are... google it as you do everything else.) The man hightailing it out the back door likely doesn't even notice that the laundry appliances are avocado. They could be red polka-dotted for all he cares. He's thinking about his two martini lunch. His wife is doing the breakfast dishes. If she's lucky she has an avocado green dishwasher to match the washer and dryer. Gender equality hadn't been invented yet.
Colors we once thought were pretty darn cool changes in time. This living room from the late 1980s is proof. I once thought those  swirling colors on those high back chairs, the gold light fixture, the glass top table, was modern and pretty. It looked to me like a  mark of success to have this  dining room.  Now I sigh. So dated. And yet some of those color tones in the room look like, oh my, serenity blue? 
Maybe things don't really end. They just fade away for awhile. This is a kitchen, as you can tell from the pencil skirt, gloves, hat and other garments worn by the women,  from at least 50 year's ago. The appliances are called rose quartz. Sound familiar? So maybe everything does come back, one must just live long enough to see it happen. Perhaps Oscar Wilde's famous statement, "familiarity breeds contempt" can work the opposite. 

Stay away long enough and, like serenity blue and rose quartz, popularity and admiration will come again. For everything there is a time and a season. Another old 60s song.

 Who knows. Next year Harvest Gold might be lighting up our lives. Never say never. 

Happy 2016. Keep it colorful. 


December 17, 2015

Impermanence

      Each year around Christmas on Central Avenue in Phoenix the trees turn golden and drop leaves. This path is the bright spot in my world right now. Some of you who don't live in the desert might be thinking, big deal.   

    Check out the photo below. This is the geography of the desert. Talk about being able to see for miles and miles.
     For Phoenix is a desert no matter how many high rises replace cactus or fancy hotels displace rock. Of course, Phoenix neighborhoods now have paved streets and not a stage coach or a horse in sight, though I've met a cowboy or two. Why there's even grass with flowering plants. Still, it's a desert. Central Avenue is the only street that I know of in Phoenix with a path that you can walk and admire the color and shuffle your feet in leaves for a few weeks.

    The weather cools only briefly in the desert. It's a quick chill, the leaves drop on few of the trees, very few, and before you know there are green leaves. It's time to don flip flops and sleeveless shirts and plant a garden. Then summer, but I'd rather avoid such talk while reveling in the joy of Arizona.
   Christmas in Phoenix is like this rare golden tree. It comes and it goes fast. For some non-holiday people, having Christmas over fast is a good thing. I understand that not everyone is thrilled with decorations and colored lights. For whatever reason, for those experiencing illness or loss, financial woes, finding the Christmas spirit is difficult or impossible.   
   But for myself, and for a lot of people, the holiday season feels too rushed. We find ourselves wanting to savor each moment, to slow things down, make all the festive fun last, just as I want the far and few between Phoenix trees to stay golden. It all seems to go faster and faster as the years pass. Life goes into overdrive.
    My real Christmas tree is the same. I know its lifetime is brief. Knowing this makes me want to stay home just to admire its beauty. Work and stuff like walking my dog Darla keeps getting in the way of me sitting on the couch staring at the tree all day.  Knowing there is a fast approaching expiration date on my Christmas tree increases my appreciation. In a few weeks it will loose its all its needles and it will end up in the recycle bin, but oh how beautiful it looks now. 

   Somehow impermanence, knowing that things will end soon, makes me want to pay more attention. I get lazy about things that seemingly will last forever. Of course, nothing will. As I walked down the golden path on Central Avenue today I thought about this and then I thought about my dear friend Selma. I've kept her photo. I find myself unable to let go of images of people I've loved. It's as if I'm hoping to find some forever in the photo.
She's on the left and her aunt Lejla is on the right. This was taken on Selma's last Christmas. She died of a brain tumor and never saw another Christmas tree again. I think about Selma and really try to remember how impermanent we all are and that to appreciate every minute of Christmas, no matter my troubles, real or imagined.

For this is the only one that counts. The golden now. 
  

November 24, 2015

The Golden Purse

     So I was at the dentist this week getting my teeth cleaned. I set my purse on the counter and climbed into the reclining chair.
    "That's quite a purse you got there," said my dentist.
    "Oh," I said with a small laugh. "It's gaudy." Then I proceeded to tell him about the purse until he started lecturing me about  flossing and brushing my tongue. I like my dentist, but I wish he wouldn't hold a mirror up to my face and make me stick out my tongue. Have you ever looked at your tongue? Trust me. Start brushing.
   After I provided some details about my purse my dentist, who really is a nice guy, he said, "That's great. You have a story to tell."

     I told him, as I have told other people, that I bought the gold purse in an antique shop in a small town north of Phoenix called Prescott. I splurged and paid $15. The purse, made in California,  is in excellent shape which is credit to the United States. In other words, it wasn't made in China and sold at Walmart. It was like brand new. Those jewels sparkling in the desert sun are sewed on tight. The purse has a musty smell, as if was kept hidden  in a woman's closet for years waiting for just the right moment to use. Then the woman died, and the kids sold it at an estate sale before it landed at the antique shop. Or maybe not. No matter. It's mine now. In all it's jeweled glory. 

  

     Still, I haven't told my dentist, or anyone else, the entire story. People have lives to lead and don't have all day to chat about purses. A shame. 

     When I was in high school, I saw what I thought was the most beautiful glittering  purse in a mall shop window. It was a life-changing purse, gold and sparkling. I could have worn it with this shirt and it would have matched.  It was boxed shaped, with a long gold link chain strap. I have never seen a purse like it anywhere again. Ever. One of a kind.  It was near my 16th birthday, and I begged my mother to buy it for me as a gift. It was more than she could afford. We went to the mall again, and there it was, still in the store window. More begging and she relented. That birthday I got my gold purse. I never used it. 





 I never took it to high school and walked down the halls with it proudly on my shoulder. Instead, it sat in my closet. I would take it out now and then and admire its dazzling perfection.  It was so bright. It reminded me of the sun. It was too much. I was afraid to take it to high school because, well, it was gaudy. In those days everyone was wearing fringe, suede and bell bottom jeans. I was afraid to be different. My mother never asked me why I didn't use the purse. A few years later, after she died, I moved far away from home, and the purse stayed behind in the closet. It was sold at a yard sale when my dad died. My golden purse that I never once filled with makeup, loose coins, a mirror or a photo of my mom, gone forever. Until I found my jeweled gaudy purse this year.

  Flash forward to 2015. I was standing in a line waiting to order food at a Panera Bread. I noticed two teenage girls giggling and whispering a short distance way. They were looking my direction.  I surveyed my attire. I wore black shoes, black pants and a black coat with minimal flourishes, just a little bling. I was perplexed. I wondered why in the world the teenagers were laughing at me. Then I knew. It was my purse dangling from my arm. They were giggling at my golden jeweled purse. For one second I was 16 again. I wanted to shrivel up and run out the door. This second passed. I smiled. Thankfully I remembered who I was. I was so glad those girls made fun of me. Truly. For I knew then that these whispering teenagers could say nothing behind closed hands that would hurt my feelings enough to keep me from using my purse. The entire restaurant could laugh at me. I was holding on tight to my gaudy self. I had my lesson. When the student is ready, the purse will appear.



    I wish I could go back in time and have my first golden purse again, but that ain't gonna happen. Four years of high school is enough punishment for anyone. Besides, I don't think any teacher should have to endure me in algebra again. 

    Instead I will keep my golden purse in my heart, and on my shoulder. I will worry less about conforming, especially with my writing career where I can be insecure and where I often try too hard to be accepted. 

  I think to best serve the world it's important to let our golden light shine. Even if people laugh. Keep shining.