Monday, August 31, 2009

Letter to Santa

Dear Santa,

I know it's been a few years since I've written. Thankfully, you haven't forgotten me. The vacuum sweeper you brought in 1986 was truly splendid, as were the ones you brought in 1993, 1998 and 2004.

I'm not writing to complain (I've already written to Hoover twice). I do appreciate your continued generosity and thoughtfulness. Household appliances don't come cheap, I know, and besides--any guy who's willing to clean up after eight reindeer who've consumed 1,000 tons of carrots in a single evening is OK by me!

But as we approach fall, I thought I'd get a jump on all those greedy children. Although I'll pass on the Hannah Montana House, I've been thinking a few toys might actually be nice after all this time. Sadly, my mother sold off many of my favorites at garage sales ($2.50 for a prime condition Easy Bake Oven? I still haven't forgiven her). And my sister DC confiscated all my Barbies to use as voodoo dolls (I was too terrified of her to complain).

So, here is a list of my favorite toys from my childhood, which I've concluded would have new purpose and merit for a middle-aged woman. If the elves can't make these, Wal-Mart probably sells them cheap, and I promise not to tell the unions where you got them:

1) Sting-Ray Bike with Banana Seat: Because why is it that, as our butts grew bigger, the bike seats grew smaller?
2) Rock'Em Sock'Em Robots: After forty-five minutes of listening to a client's rants, even a pacifist wants to knock someone's block off.
3) Mystery Date Game: But don't bother including the "Dreamboat" in the white tux. He was a goober. Give me the scruffy-looking "Dud" date. Honestly, you know all girls are attracted to the bad boys.
4) Easy Bake Oven: Cooking's never been as much fun since. And I need to make peace with my mother.
5) Creepy Crawler Oven: Can you make the goop liver-flavored? Because goopy edible creatures probably don't have the same horrific crunch as the live moths and spiders the cats now enjoy eating.
6) Magic 8 Ball: I'm way tired of making important decisions. I'd rather leave it up to the wisdom of a toy plastic ball. Sherry: "Shall I get that colonoscopy?" Magic 8 Ball: "My sources say no." Well, OK then!

If you can't bring all of these, a gift card would be fine. But no gift substitutes please. My vacuum sweeper, when I last used it a month ago, appeared to be working fine.


P.S. I have been a very good girl. Well, I have broken very few commandments. OK, so at least I've never been actually indicted.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Wishful Thinking

It's Friday afternoon, and I sip my thankfully endless supply of Diet Coke and glance at the clock. The Time Gods clearly are not on my side. The workweek might never end, and I will remain here, slumped semi-consciously over my desk, awaiting the elusive weekend. FOREVER.

I've done this for weeks, and as it dawns on me that it is nearly September, I realize I've spent most of the last few months wishing the summer away.

In fact, I've done this for years. Not just praying for the workweek to fly by, but for huge chunks of time to pass quickly. Cold, dark winters that I could barely tolerate, in anticipation of spring. Half my childhood, when my foremost thought was to be grown, independent and free. My sons' teenage years, which pounced upon me with a vengeance. I wished them, frantically, over and done. And then suddenly, inexplicably, they were gone.

I realize, looking back, that I've wished half my life away.

Sure, there were moments I wanted to retain forever--to keep frozen in time in my memory. Standing before the altar, in a satin white dress, saying with confident hope, "I do." Sitting at a six-year-old son's piano recital, even with his flawed chords, as I glowed with motherly pride.

But simple joyous moments, like those, are few. The weeks and years that hold challenges, apparently, are more apt to be swept off into a discard pile, readily thrown aside and conveniently forgotten.

As I enter the throes of middle age, I find I'm less inclined to wish away my life. Because the seemingly turbulent times still offer something which can benefit me-- some nuances or gifts--however cloaked with momentary distress they might be. If nothing else, they are simply a notable part of my life. And every moment of my life, now, is somehow consequential.

I wish that every remaining moment of my life is a happy one. But if not, I'm just happy for every remaining moment at all. Time passes more quickly than we can ever fathom, and suddenly, we yearn for what we once had but is now gone. I don't believe in regrets, and some day, I hope, I'll appreciate even the most formidable moments in my life.

Or maybe that's just wishful thinking.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Matters of Great Importance

I have a strict ritual each night before I go to sleep. I wedge my body in bed among the pile of cats, prop myself up against a couple pillows, and make a To-Do List.

The list generally consists of mundane but necessary tasks for the next day: Make dentist appointment, trim bushes, clean cat hair off the bedspread. Occasionally, I even compose a list of lists: Make grocery list. Do list of bills. Write list of island vacation destinations I can't afford.

The average person might mentally organize these tasks. But without a written itinerary, I'm likely to sink into the couch, staring vacantly at a cobweb in the corner of the ceiling and pondering, "Wasn't there SOMETHING I was supposed to be doing?" Perhaps I'm ADD, or a bit OCD. (Could it be both, one compensating for the other?) The point is, if I don't put everything in writing, carve it upon Sherry's Stone Tablet of Commandments, I'm not likely to follow through.

Lately, I've listed two items consistently each day: 1) Walk and 2) Write. (Not to be achieved at the same time. Though I am a multi-tasker, I'm forced to keep both hands on Ringo's leash in order to salvage the lives of small animals we pass.) After several consecutive weeks of this routine, even the most disorganized individual would have these activities engrained forever. Yet I continue to scrawl them on my nightly To-Do List, and dutifully check them off once accomplished.

Why? Because they are currently Matters of Great Importance.

We all have priority goals. This list (a mental compilation for those who aren't ADD/OCD), is fluid, changing as our lives change. For me, getting in shape and finishing a new novel have recently taken top rank. I still need to accomplish numerous other items on my list each day. But walking and writing, these two things necessary to reach my top goals, take precedence over a multitude of others.

In one of the most memorable movie scenes ever, Jack Palance tells Billy Crystal in City Slickers that the secret of life is One Thing. "Just one thing. You stick with that, and everything else don't mean shit."

"That's great," replies Billy. "But what's the one thing?"

"That's," Jack tells him, "what you have to figure out."

Other than general survival, I'm not sure there's simply just one thing. But we all need to narrow down our goals, pinpoint exactly those which are most important to us at any given point in our life. Choose what matters most. Tell ourselves the steps we need to take to get there.

And everything else, the hundreds of things we need to do or want to have, should fall below those priorities.

Want to buy a new house? Then a Caribbean cruise drops down, way down, on the list. Want to lose weight? Then that frozen pina colada, sadly, may have to lose out in the list of priorities.

Whether they're written in ink or simply stored in the forefront of our mind, life goals must infuse our daily thoughts and dictate our agendas.

The Matters of Great Importance to us are just that. The rest--even the momentary enjoyment of that tempting pina colada--don't mean shit.