Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Lighting the Way

          “Pitch black” in my house doesn’t exist anymore. I can see nearly all aspects of the inside of my house after it’s dark, really dark outside. I can clearly see my completely black cat stealthily traverse my bedroom when it’s 2 a.m., or where the tiny play balls are scattered about the carpet in the living room. Even the outdoor patios are somewhat lighted with the outside lamps on the streets. I’m not sure if this lack of darkness should comfort me or piss me off.

          Have you noticed there are no completely dark rooms late at night when nature’s call (yet again) draws you out of the comfort of your warm and cozy bed? Have you ever noticed all the electronics lighting the way through our night’s life? It used to be that we could easily break our necks by running into a door left ajar or a slipper kicked out of its normal location. Or, without as much light, we could more effectively scare an unsuspecting partner…hehehe.

           Even when the power goes out, there are enough battery operated electronic devices, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, alarm clocks and cell phones to illuminate the entire area below my loft. I only need candles during a power outage because I can’t read by the red glow from the battery-operated digital clock next to my bed.

           There are 25 indicator lights that radiate 24/7 in my home. I’m still not sure if this fact comforts me or if, when I venture into my infrequently called upon environmentalist attitude, I consider this a waste of earth resources.               

           Why are all these tiny indicator lights on and do we really need them?  Sure, they don’t do any harm, and perhaps I’m the only one out there who even thinks about their presence. I wonder how much I’d save in electricity if these lights weren’t on all the time. Perhaps not much. I guess it’s good to know that the smoke detector is operational should a fire occur. How did this increase in brightening occur?

           This "lightening" of our nighttime hours has been gradual. First, I guess, were the phones with their small red indicator lights and, of course, the time displays on the stove. But as I look around in my home, these lights are in the company of a dozen others I’m paying to keep burning. Probably not a big deal, but an illumination that while I’ve grown used to I still wonder where we’ll be led next in the “day timing” of our nighttime.

           How many lights are on all the time in your house and does this bother or comfort you? Perhaps you could, dare I say it, shed a little light on this subject? (groan).

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Friends: What kind of a friend are you?

          I don’t think I’m a fabulous friend, but I’m a better friend than I used to be. Do you agree that being a friend – the kind of friend people want to have around – takes work? That doesn’t seem right, but I know it’s true for me. Some people make friendship seem so effortless. It doesn’t come natural for me. I have to review and perfect my friendship skills constantly.

           I’ve never had any formal friendship training, which is the stuff you’re taught as  a child…turn the other cheek, respect and put others first, do unto others…yada yada. Instead I was taught to be competitive with others, including my sister and my playmates. The message in our household was, “Don’t let them get ahead of you, or get the best of you and always watch your back.”  As a result, I was convinced others were out to take advantage of me or make me look bad. I always had to be on my guard which makes building long-lasting friendships a difficult task, at best.

           Throughout my childhood I had two unequivocal friends that I never questioned. The first was my cocker spaniel, Sparky, and the second was my relationship with books. Neither of these ‘friends’ would criticize, one up, or judge me. I spent lots more time with them than the flesh and blood varieties of “friends.” Because my dad was in the military and the family moved every one to three years it was easy to perfect a fa├žade of friendship without doing the substantive work to develop true alliances.

           Another roadblock in my friendship journey was being taught ways of being in the world with men but not about how to be friends with other women. I was nearly 21 before I realized that the other half of the population was worth befriending. I’ll never forget the first time I could say I loved a woman friend. Being a confirmed heterosexual, I was surprised to acquire the depth of feelings for a woman co-worker who I visualized as a role model in exposing me to the rewards of female friends.

           Christine was nurturing and kind, and had no ulterior motive in getting close to me. She inspired me to look differently at the people in my life. Through her, I learned to acquire and entertain women friends. For the first time in my life, I felt alive and worthy and not so suspicious of women around me. There must have been other women who lacked early friendship development like I did because I’ve run into them throughout my life and we’ve compared notes about being guarded around other women and unsure of their sincerity.

           Okay, so this doesn’t mean that now that I’m all grown up I’m this expert friend and people – both men and women – are clambering to have Antonia for a friend. As a matter of fact, judging from recent events, I’ve got a long way to go in perfecting my technique.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Baseball 2012

          Quick! Before it gets all winter soggy on the West Coast (as soggy as it ever gets in the sun-drenched state), let me close the book on baseball for 2012.

          I am a fair weather fan, but MY TEAM WON the World Series! The GIANTS won and it was so much fun to watch their journey, which started in April. Yeah, no, I didn’t watch any games way back in April or even in May, June or July because (see above) I’m a fair weather fan. What does that mean exactly?

          That means about mid-August, when I’d log onto my computer in the morning with my wake-me-up, one and only cup of coffee, I might swing by the sports page on MSN and see 1) where the Giants were in the standings and 2) where the Dodgers were in the standings. All Giants fans hate the Dodgers and, even if we’re not doing well, there is some comfort in having the Dodgers not do well, too. You don’t need to be a fair weather fan to know this. I’m sure states that have more than one national team have a similar situation with rival teams.

          Anyway, it was back in August when I started to get familiar with the stand-out players:  Posey, Sandoval, Cain. I became interested in their personal information as well as their baseball prowess. Sandoval has a weight problem so I was hooked on him immediately. Posey was a star from the 2010 Series that they won, but he had hurt himself severely in 2011 and was fighting his way back courageously in the current season.

           As the Giants continued to pull ahead of the pack (including the Dodgers), they made some critical player purchases and got some great people: Pence and Scutaro to name two. In addition, there was plenty of drama.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

How to be Wealthy

I'll bet you're thinking I'm going to present some lengthy and detailed diatribe about a manner of garnering, investing and saving money. After all isn't money tantamount to society acknowledging our true wealth? And isn't wealth the 'true measure of a man'? If that's what you're thinking you might as well stop reading right now.

Money is only one measure of wealth. Sometimes people don't feel wealthy enough with our US currency but feel the need to buy currencies from other countries to round out their portfolios and stave off any economic shifts that threaten their well being. Don't get me wrong, dollars in whatever form: cash, stocks, IOUs, foreign currencies, etc., are good things, and I personally feel the more the merrier. BUT, I also believe you can be an extremely wealthy person without a lot of mullah.

I think my mother measured her wealth in terms of vodka and slippers as we found 6 gallons of vodka and 30 pairs of unworn slippers in her house when she passed away. And she wasn't even a hoarder... in the traditional sense anyway! If things like her stashes are what exhibits true wealth then it'll be mayonnaise for me....I've got several jars in the pantry and can get a little twitchy when I'm down to just one or two. And this spoken like the mostly vegan that I am. Ha! There are other things too: I have to admit I feel more satisfied when I've got 8-10 rolls of paper towels stockpiled. I can take on the world!

I love and collect paper, particularly expensive Asian paper. While I can scream and beat my chest and rant and rave when the bill for my car registration comes, I've got reams of paper that cost me a fortune and that I will probably never do anything with except look at. It's what you value that makes you feel wealthy, no?

Continuing the paper theme for me, I have lots of books - real paper books, not electronic versions, and they make me feel wealthy. I have an entire wall in my office lined with shelves filled with books. I have sold a ton of used books too, and the $3.50 I've gotten for 10+ boxes of books is real mad money for me. Obviously, I'm not talking dollars and cents kind of logic here.

Okay, I've covered the 'stuff' of wealth. Now let's look at a less tangible commodity.

In my opinion, the value of friendship is an excellent and altruistic way of measuring wealth and showing how to be wealthy. At parties where I'm being feted - yes, there have been a couple of those occasions - I look around and feel wealthy... I am thrilled by the wealth of having these people stand by me, and I envision that now infamous Academy award speech of Sally Field, "They like me. They really like me." Nothing exemplifies the bounty of a life, to me, more than the number and character of friends one can count on to be there for you. Granted, this group would be greatly reduced if I was having trouble and needed help moving, for instance, instead of providing food and drink. Seriously though, I've always felt friendly people are an unquantifiable measure of one's wealth.

Dollars and cents come and go; it's good to measure wealth in other ways. It's also a good thing to look at different options available around wealth so we don't feel so stuck in this crappy economy. I know how to be wealthy, and it doesn't involve saving or hoarding.

What is your true wealth? What makes you feel 'full' and able to stand strong in harsh economic and emotional times?