|You Are New York|
Cosmopolitan and sophisticated, you enjoy the newest in food, art, and culture.
You also appreciate a good amount of grit – and very little shocks you.
You’re competitive, driven, and very likely to succeed.
Famous people from New York: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Tupac Shakur, Woody Allen, and my husband, Eric.
I’m such a weather wimp. And the worst thing about that is that I know that I am, and I’m unwilling to change. Or maybe it’s knowing that hale-and-hardy types in the rest of the world are rolling their eyes at me for being such a wuss.
But I assure you, I’m not alone. Where I live, we go crazy whenever it rains – even when it’s still warm, which is usually the case.
Witness: Outside my window, there’s a downpour goin’ on, an unusual weather pattern for typically sunny SoCal. As a result, weather reporters and news stations are on heightened alert:
“Breaking News! It’s raining! Here, in the Southland! So before heading home on your evening commute, be sure to tune in for our Storm Tracker reports of who’ll get wet, and when!”
I have to run some errands this afternoon, in advance of a trip. But instead, I’m snuggled up in an afghan, inside, because I’m afraid to step outside and get wet.
Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent – for some, a season of sacrifice leading up to Easter. Traditionally speaking, it’s a 40-day opportunity to ditch the distractions that keep us from achieving our life’s purpose, to get rid of the obstacles that stand between us and our best selves.
But a friend of mine (hi, Linda!) just announced that she’s giving up Lent itself this year – at least in its traditional form. “Instead of thinking about what I should give up,” she explained, “I’m making a list of things to which I’m willing to commit.”
I like this approach: it’s all about adding to, not subtracting from life. So next to my computer, I’ve posted my favorite quotation, as inspiration for Lent and for writing — and for all of my life.
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffective. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of things issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.
Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.”
I’m a native Californian, Orange County born and bred. But while my feet are firmly planted in the West, my connections branch out from there.
I’ve spent a great deal of time in the South, for example, so I’ve got deep-rooted friendships in – and affection for – that region of our country. The result? Over time and by example, I’ve become a cultural hybrid of palm tree and magnolia, a quirky combination of “Hey, how’s it going’?” and “How’s your mama ‘n ‘em?”
So this week, the ironic confluence of Mardi Gras and the six-month anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, my blog entry’s a shout-out of admiration and support for my sisters in the South.
I’ve learned many valuable life lessons from my Dixieland friends, some taught symbolically through their individual expressions of Mardi Gras traditions: The crowning glory of finding the small plastic baby Jesus baked into a Kings Cake; the delicious decadence of Fat Tuesday, a last opportunity to “eat hefty” before the dawn of Ash Wednesday; the collecting of beads, each color representing closely-held values; and the sharing of family recipes for great gumbo, whose secrets often lie in the roux.
But more recently and by direct example, these Steel Magnolias are teaching me something very valuable: how to maintain grace, dignity, and resiliency – come high winds or high water.
So I’m hereby producing a mental Mardi Gras parade in their honor, a rolling tribute to the Southern women who’ve successfully weathered (triumphed over!) last season’s storms. And in my mind, I’m playing the “bead game,” tossing them these symbolic gifts:
Purple beads, representing justice. May sunlight serve as disinfectant for the political impurities and social injustices exposed by the storms, and may it also serve as a spotlight for the important work they’re doing to address those concerns.
Green beads that stand for faith. I pray that each of them will be tangibly rewarded for their deep, abiding belief in the power of prayer, combined with a personal commitment to doing the hard work. I share their faith that livelihoods, homes, communities, and traditions can and will be restored.
Gold beads, signifying power. Not in the form of backlit, bloviating speeches by policy wonks; but rather, a roll-up-the-sleeves, dig-deep-into-the-pockets kind of commitment by politicians and private citizens who are willing to put their collective muscle behind putting things right.
White beads, serving as long-distance kisses. May they heal your hurts and reaffirm your connections.
As the “parade” passes by and last year’s troubles fade into the distance, may the lives of each of my friends and their families be blessed with the fulfilment of this traditional Mardi Gras wish: Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez (Let the good times roll)!
I often find my inspiration for writing in unexpected places. For example, here are two photos from yesterday’s walk down the beach boardwalk:
First, a luxury yacht moored in the marina next to the place we had coffee.
Second, a more modest fishing boat, flanked by a great blue heron with stiletto-thin legs.
I’m not a professional photographer, so the pictures aren’t perfect. But I’m thinking that the imagery might be useful for a segment of my book.
Well-heeled? Hmm…I’m ready to write.
Cyber-sleuths, fellow writers, and information junkies take note! There’s a new site for us in the web neighborhood: Zillow.com. While Google’s great (some say the gold standard) for Internet snooping, Zillow zooms much closer, literally speaking, to the streets where we live.
Enter Zillow.com into your browser, then type in the address of a person you’re profiling. Voilà! – instant and voyeuristic access to satellite images, financial histories, and physical features of that home. If you’re curious, you can Zillow your home and those of your neighbors, or you can zoom in on the home specs of your business partners and celebrity crush. It’s a no-fee entry into people’s private quarters, yours included.
But all this access comes with a caution, let the browser beware. (For example, the description for my home omits some cool features, which ultimately brings down its price. Doesn’t matter to me, but inquiring minds, ahem, may want to know.) So if you choose to use Zillow, make note of their disclaimer — in lawyerly language and laid out in all caps: “ZILLOW.COM PROVIDES THE SERVICES ‘AS IS,’ ‘WITH ALL FAULTS’ AND ‘AS AVAILABLE,’ AND THE ENTIRE RISK AS TO SATISFACTORY QUALITY, PERFORMANCE, ACCURACY, AND EFFORT IS WITH YOU.”
Happy house hunting!
Fast Fact: Rhinoceroses have the thickest skin of any terrestrial mammal, and the thickest skin in relation to their size, of any animal. The skin on their backs and flanks can be 1 inch thick.
Some days, in order to get my ideas out of my head and down onto a page, I have to silence my inner critic and ignore, for a time, my imaginary audience. I have to concentrate on my writing, without worrying about reactions.
Today is one of those days. In order to gain forward momentum on a sensitive subject, I’ve covered myself with a proverbial thick skin. I think I’m going to call this Rhino Writing.
Photo credit: http://7art-screensavers.com