Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Meet me at my office

I am actually sitting in a coffee shop, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf on Coast Village Road, writing this blog. This is about my 110th blog that I've posted on The Coffee Shop Diary and it is the first blog that is actually being written in a coffee shop as opposed to being about a coffee shop or about wishing I had a coffee shop. I am just enjoying a cup of tea, chai tea to be exact, with it's exotic spices, a splash of cream and one stick of honey. Can't get much lovelier than that. You might be wondering why I am having tea when I am always talking up coffee. To be honest, I already had my coffee this morning. From Starbucks. Yes, Starbucks, so shoot me.

Today it is a bit overcast and that makes me happy. You can only have so many days of sunshine, of absolutely beautiful weather before you beg the skies to give you a little darkness, a scattering of clouds, a little chill so that you can stay inside and not feel consumed by guilt. When the weather is as beautiful for as often as it is here, you sometimes feel the pressure to be outdoors, to be more physically active. I on the other hand prefer to be more mentally active. I like to take my frequent walks but I don't take them too seriously. By that I mean that I don't wear walking shoes (I still wear my cowboy boots), I don't wear any kind of athletic clothing, no iPod in ear, no counter on my belt telling me the miles walked or the calories burned. It doesn't matter to me. Perhaps it should, but it doesn't.

As I sit here, the place is pretty crowded, and I can hear tidbits of the conversations at the nearby tables. Lots of women here, lots of foreign accents, words swarming around like "oil", "taxi drivers" and "real estate". It sounds like they all have a lot going on in their lives, like they might be among the chosen few. Well, of course they are, I am sitting in Montecito, California, the home to the likes of Michael and Kirk Douglas, Ty Warner, Drew Barrymore, Carol Burnett, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Gods right hand woman, Oprah Winfrey, just to name a few. I am here, so I am hopeful that I am among the chosen few as well. Needless to say, the conversation consists of subjects that do not include trips to Costco, hamburger noodle casserole and PTA meetings (not that there's anything wrong with that!), but I must confess it does make for more interesting eavesdropping.

I use to think that the people who brought their computers or sat for hours in the coffee shop were nothing more than posers. That for them the coffee shop had become a replacement for the bar scene (for those of us too old or uncomfortable to be hanging in the bars; Man, those were the good ole days!), but now that I have been coming to my new favorite WiFi spot, I find that there is comfort in the dull roar of conversation, the smell of the coffee, the energy of the people coming in and out and surprisingly, I get a lot done. It is wonderful, free office space just for the price of a cup of tea, or coffee, or decadent pastry. You really can't beat that now can you? You can even have your clients visit you at this office. I am seeing it all around me, many little business meetings going on.

The best part is that you are not alone and yet you can be completely alone. It is like being in your own home, in a different part of the house, you can hear the family talking, the clanging of pots and pans in the kitchen and it feels warm, safe and comfortable. Like fried chicken and mashed potatoes, even amid the foreign languages and the strangers faces, it feels like somewhere I know, from long ago, a connection, a sense of belonging.

After all these years of their existence, I am still always amazed by the success of the American coffee house. I have always considered the coffee house to be a place for me to get coffee, to meet friends, to dream of owning one, to spend an incredible amount of money on my daily habit. But now that it has also become my new office, along with all my other (un)poser office mates, I wonder if they will let me bring in a more comfortable chair?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Ghost of Christmas Past

What the flock were we thinking? The holidays had barely been laid to rest, just a mere three weeks ago, and already visions of sugar plums began dancing in our next years heads.

I have no money, or at least not money that I need to be spending on fake flocked Christmas trees in the month of January. But what are you going to do when leaving Nordstrom you are besieged by the post holiday prop sale? Right outside of Nordstrom on our innocent walk back to the car, there they were, right on the sidewalk. Christmas trees, garlands, fake reindeer heads, birdhouses, backdrops and LED lit branches. Marked down to just about nothing, they were practically giving them away! Practically.

Panic almost ensued as other women walked by, did a double take, turning their heads in our direction and spilling those words that can bond a woman to a woman faster than Zsa Zsa's husband can bond his eyes together, "Are those things for sale?" Yes, yes! Woman were on their cell phones calling their husbands in for backup. "Bring the pickup honey", we've got trees for days. And husbands obediently showed up and without so much as a question, quietly began lifting and loading the trucks.

Now my sister Pam and I kind of wavered as to whether or not we should make any purchases. Back and forth, really, should we be spending what little cash we had on Christmas trees? Fake Christmas trees in January? Especially since her husband Steve had been working for the past two days cleaning out the garage, packing and stacking Christmas items up in the rafters, and complaining about how much "stuff" they had. Just a week ago he had reminded Pam that she shouldn't be spending, they needed to save up for their summer trip to Germany. But the tinsel and glitter got the better of us. So, I guess we wouldn't be calling Steve to bring down the truck. In fact, if things went according to our soon to be devised plan, we would hopefully get home, he'd be busy watching the 49 game, we'd kill the motor as we pulled into the driveway, almost as quietly unload, place the trees and garlands somewhere in the garage and if he noticed them later, act like they had been there for years! Yes, that will work!

Well, it didn't work. The trees were heavy and as we carried them out of the car they lost much of their flocking and lots of their berries. Our clothing was covered in flocking, the back of the car was covered in flocking, the sidewalk, the carpet, the evidence was everywhere. But luckily he was a good sport. Maybe because the game was on and the 49ers were winning.

Remember the song "1999" by Prince? "Two thousand zero zero party over, whoops, out of time ~ so tonight we're gonna party like it' s 1999" ~
Well, as we all know, the world didn't end, the year 2000 came in with nothing more than a whimper, and we were all still here. And now we have the Mayan calendar predicting the end of the world on 12/21/2012. Now we know Prince wasn't right and it is likely that the Mayan's won't be right either. But. . . what if they are? What does that really mean? For one thing it means that we wouldn't have another Christmas to celebrate (party over, whoops, out of time) but we would have the month leading up to it. Twenty one days to be exact. Twenty one days of pure Christmas bliss, lights, candy canes, gift wrap, sugar cookies, and trees! So this will not be a wasted purchase, in fact it is more like a necessary purchase. Bring on the lights, the berries, the LED branches with their little birds and birdhouses ~and if the world doesn't end in 2012, I am definitely getting an unflocked tree in 2013.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Road warrior

My ridiculous life ~ I didn’t realize it was so ridiculous until I started dating again in my mid 50's, which that in itself is ridiculous enough. Recounting my history to others not only signaled to them that I might be a bit unstable, but it was rather disconcerting to my own ears as well. I knew deep down, or maybe it wasn’t even that deep, that my life sounded a bit flaky, like I really didn’t have much focus, that I jumped from one thing to another in traditional monkey style. It was almost like I was telling a story about some long lost crazy cousin or friend of a friend. But it was my story. To hear me recite my past, out loud, made me feel a a bit foolish, a bit skeptical of my own trustworthiness and character. Like perhaps I hadn’t taken my life seriously enough, like perhaps I thought I had a whole lot more chances, opportunities and life than was actually ever granted to one person in a lifetime.
When I was younger I was always attracted to those who marched to their own bass drum, who walked the road more rocky. And I guess in my own way, I followed in their footsteps and walked that same path. I did most things in a backwards fashion according to the rules of society, without giving things much thought, without planning much for the future. Always believing that I had several guardian angels hovering around to take care of me, to swoop me up in their overly large marshmallow soft angel wings should I trip or fall. Always feeling protected, I was rather invincible in a very careless way.

Now a bit older and still doubtful on the wiser, I admire those people who always had direction, that knew what they wanted to “be” early on. I am always surprised to hear that someone knew what he or she wanted to do with their life when they were mere children. My friend said to me the other day, “I always knew I wanted to be a dentist”. Since he was nine years old! Who does that? Well, apparently many more people that I ever imagined. I just never ran with those types of people in my youth. No, I hung more with the “butterflies are free to fly” crowd. And I have a butterfly tattoo to prove it. I"ll admit it, it is not that attractive almost 40 years later. Not that it was ever that attractive then. But truth be told, we might not have had a firm grip on our future, but what we did have was a whole lot of fun in our present.

But as silly as my life has been, as abstract and distorted as it may sound, it is my life, no apologies necessary. We all reach the end, right? We just use different road maps getting there. Maybe if there is such thing as life after life after life, I will get to go at it again. Try a different path. And who's to say, if in my next life I know at 9 years old that I want to be a dentist (or baker, candlestick maker) and I turn out to be a dentist, I might very well be longing for that life of forks in the road, detours, and ridiculousness, all the while boring someone at a little cafe table, telling them my life story.
"A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are for." –John A. Shedd

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Pillow Fight

Most good pillow fights involve two or more people and at least a couple of pillows. For me, no such luck. My pillow fight consists of just me and my pillow. And this fight can go on all hours of the night. Actually it usually involves two pillows. I fight with one, punch it, twist it, turn it, slam it and finally throw it across the bed and start all over with the other pillow.

The pillow. Such an important part of our lives. We spend so much time with it and like a spouse, if things aren't working out, if we are waking up each day grumpy, with a headache, and suffering through our day due to a lack of sleep, we should probably consider trading it in. But the quest for the perfect pillow is so difficult. I have bought down pillows, foam pillows, the tempurpedic pillow, pillows for back sleepers, pillows for side sleepers, tried stacking pillows, and it makes me regret the day I threw out the one pillow I had been content with for so long. And the main reason I got rid of it? Because it was old. It was still completely comfortable, but it was old. And I had just unfortunately read an article about bed mites. In the article it said; Beds are a prime habitat. A typical used mattress may have anywhere from 100,000 to 10 million mites inside. (Ten percent of the weight of a two year old pillow can be composed of dead mites and their droppings.) Eww. So I knew there had to be many sharing the bed with me. This creeped the living bejesus out of me. So just like that, out she goes, and I'm off to purchase a new, bug free pillow where I could rest my head each night without worrying about little creepy things crawling into my ears. I haven't been able to find an adequate replacement for that perfect pillow yet.

Once you are a bit older, and sleep is a little harder to come by, the pillow becomes our new security blanket. When you are little you take your blanket or your stuffed bear with you, now everyone I know brings along their pillow to any type of sleepover, whether it be to a hotel, or the home of a friend or family member. Sometimes we bring them in the car just for a long drive, sometimes, even on a plane, if we can fit them in our carry on. They play an extremely important role in determining how our day will start out. Even if we are sleeping on a terrible mattress it can make it somewhat bearable if the pillow is a good one. My mother always brings along her pillow, as ratty a thing as it is, my sister, same thing, each time I see their pillows I ask them "Is that your pillow?" But I get it. They are that important to us, that hard to find. And once you find something that helps get you through the night, it is foolish, almost reckless, to get rid of it. This of course excludes things like substance abuse, sex with strangers or strange people in general, or watching episodes of Jersey Shore or other disgusting "reality" shows into the wee hours of the morning.

So today I am off to find a new pillow. I know the task at hand will not be an easy one but I am determined to find, if not the perfect pillow, one that comes close, one that I can live with easily. And after it has aged a bit, been through many washings, I will not just throw it out. In a perfect world, there would be no bed mites, (or for that matter any bugs, disease, bad hair days, death, destruction, bitter coffee, lumpy mattresses, etc.) but I mean really, those little mites are microscopic, how bad can it really be? Some people share their bed with the entire family, some with their pets, these are little tiny mites. So this time, when I find the perfect pillow and can once again get a restful sleep, I'm just gonna make room for all of us.