Friday, October 17, 2008

Family Bonding With Catalogs

In this world where we seem to be going paperless - email instead of handwritten notes, online bank and credit card statements, even virtual checks - why do we all still get so much junk mail? Most of the cleaning I do when I attempt to straighten things up around here is the removal of junk mail from every horizontal surface in the house. There is a lot of it. I often wonder what the success rate for junk mail is. What percentage of responders is necessary to make it worth while for the retailers to bombard our mailboxes with advertisements that clutter our minds and tables?

Unsolicited catalogs are a different story. I love to look through catalogs - Levenger, Yarn Barn, L. L. Bean, Acacia - it doesn't matter which one. Perusing catalogs provides the thrill of the chase without any real temptation to buy. Sometimes looking through catalogs allows me to come face to face with the absurd. I often find myself asking questions like "Do people really buy these things?", "Does anyone really need that?", or "Who do they think can wear that other than that model in the picture?"

That last question struck me as I sat looking at the Victoria's Secret catalog while eating a piece of fudge left from last weekend's trip to the State Fair and having just had a plate of nachos for dinner. Obviously it is not me who is going to be wearing that thong I saw in the catalog! If the truth must be known, I'll take fudge over a thong (or a thong figure) any day!

It was not so much the contents of the Victoria's Secret catalog that caught my attention, but the way it came addressed - to the Elliott Family. I am all for encouraging family values, but I don't think sitting around the dinner table and discussing the merits of the push up bra verses the full coverage bra is the best means to family bonding, though around here some interesting conversation may ensue. In a household of open minded and open mouthed girls, the potential conversation starters sparked by the catalog are endless.
  • Hey Dad, would guys rather see the wild side of a girl in a leopard print bra or the soft side in pastels?
  • It sucks that none of the cute bras come in my size! Could I have a breast reduction as a graduation present? A girl on the soccer team got one.
  • Do you think polka dots will make my rear look big?
  • Why do they call those boy shorts. I hope I never see a boy wearing them!
  • Why would any bra that comes in that size need to be padded!
  • How do I know whether I should buy the push up bra or the bra with subtle lift?
  • Do you think the lace ensemble with the garter would look funny under my rugby uniform?

Obviously all of those Republicans who advocate more family time around the dinner table do not get the Victoria's Secret catalog. Or, they don't share it with the rest of their family.

I sure do miss the Sears Christmas Wish Book!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Getting To Know One Another

I am part of a women's group at church that has been meeting since early in the summer to study Christian formation. During our four months together, those of us in the group have gotten to know each other and ourselves a little better. The course consists of a six book series. We began the second book today. Someone (none of us currently in the group) decided that it would be a good idea to bring in a new person to facilitate the group. In my opinion, which no one asked for, this was a poor decision. Because if this, much of our time today was spent "getting to know one another". With the exception of one person, our new leader, we all know each other well enough to continue comfortably in the group. Nonetheless, we were asked to pair off and learn something about our partner that no one knows and then share that with the others.

I hate this kind of thing! I hate party games too. Unfortunately my partner could not use either of these things as something no one knows about me because I am such an introvert that if she had tried to pass them off as a surprising fact she would have been laughed at hysterically.

So what did she say about me? She asked about my life as a musician - a teacher and composer - as well as as a writer. She then inquired as to which was more fulfilling to me, writing music or writing words. I think that she was surprised when I responded that at this point in my life, writing words is more fulfilling. In the last several years I have not written any music that I am willing to let anyone hear. Although, in the last two weeks, I have begun work on something new. It is only about sixteen measures long right now and in its embryonic stage, but it is more than I have composed in a long time. Perhaps this is the beginning of a phase of music over words. Or, maybe I should write a song so that I can work with both. Something to think about . . .

Despie my dislike for group sharing of this nature, I thought I would be a good sport and share a few things about me that you don't know and probably really don't care about.
  • Though I was a Navy brat and always lived near water, I don't like seafood. For many people a dislike of fish has to do with never having eaten fresh seafood. Even when it is fresh I don't like it. Occasionally I will eat tuna salad but I'm not sure that really counts as seafood.
  • I am seriously claustrophobic. There better not be too many people in the elevator with me, my clothes can't be the least bit tight, and CAT scans of my head require lots of good drugs! Oh, and no middle seats on the plane.
  • I have a sock obsession, particularly funky striped hand knit socks. And, I don't much care if the funky stripes on each sock match.
  • I like to do the New York Times crossword puzzle every day even if the Friday puzzle makes me think I am a candidate for remedial education rather than MENSA.
  • I do spell fairly well. Spelling errors on the page are the result of feline assistance. The cat does not spell well; she just likes to randomly type. In fact, she bites my hand when I try correct her spelling mistakes.
  • It is fairly difficult to embarrass me. I have embarrassed myself so many times that there is little that anyone else can to make me turn those multiple shades of red.
  • I don't like nuts in my ice cream, brownies or circle of friends.
  • My idea of sexy lingerie is pajama bottoms with duckies on them and a T-shirt. (Like my socks, they don't match either.)
  • I have more crayons than my kids do and I am not afraid to use them. I have signed birthday cards, graded tests and written notes to my kids' teachers with crayons. I do use the grown up colors like robin's egg blue, chestnut, and apricot. For the most important documents I resort to the more mature colors, the now retired ones, like blizzard blue, maize, or magic mint.
  • Diet Coke is my drug of choice.

That may be more than you ever wanted to know about me.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Thank Yous

Tonight I went to Target to get a few necessities like toothpaste and deodorant. I was with BK who was looking for bulk birthday cards to send to the 100+ people in our parish who celebrate October birthdays. As we approached the stationary aisle, I saw a wash of red clearance tags. This is our lucky day, I thought to myself.

Have you ever really thought about how ridiculously expensive cards are? The average Hallmark greeting card costs between $2.50 and $3.50, and we complain about gas that is selling for $3.50 a gallon. (Actually, we filled up for $3.18 a gallon tonight. Gas was on sale too!) Whay are we willing to pay so much money for something that is more than likely going to be thrown away in 24 hours or less? At least with the $3.50 spent for a gallon of gas you can travel a few miles. Even a $3.00 cup of coffee at Starbucks seems like money that is better spent. This is all a whole other issue. Back to the birthday cards . . .

So we got close to the wall of cards and the massive number of red clearance tags and began looking for the best deal on birthday cards by the gross. OK, they didn't come by the gross. They came 8, 10, 20, even 40 to a package. As I surveyed the bargain cards, I realized that none were birthday cards; they were all "thank you" cards. What's up with that? I was suddenly struck with the realization that most people don't send thank you cards or notes anymore. If you are lucky, you will receive "a short email to say thanks for . . .", but most of the time, it seems like thank yous are forgotten. This is a sad deteroration of society today.

I can remember as a child having to sit down on Christmas afternoon to write thank you notes for my Christmas gifts. I never questioned the fact that I was being asked to do this. To this day, I still feel the need to convey thank yous, but I must admit that I am guilty of sending the quick email more often than not. I'm sure this is why there were so many thank you cards on clearance; nobody uses them anymore.

Several of you have commented on my absence from blogging in the last month. It is confession time. I have been a journaler for a long time. Prior to becoming a blogger, I handwrote, not typed, all of my journal entries. What I noticed about my own journaling practice was that when the going got tough, I stopped writing; I stopped writing at precisely the time that I probably needed to be writing most. Seemingly, that habit has carried over into my blogging as well. Life is a little screwy for me right now and I have backed away from writing, something I really don't like having done. I need to be writing and I want to be writing. I must say that what may follow in the posts of the next few months may not be the most insightful or profound material that has appeared here, but I will try to be consistent, or at least inconsistently consistent, with posting.

I owe thank yous to those of you who have taken the time to ask if I am OK and to tell me that you miss the regular posts. I probably should have invested in some of those clearnace thank you cards and hand written each of you a personal note. I didn't. However, please accept my heartfelt thank you here. Your care and concern mean a lot to me.

I also owe thank yous to many friends, both close and not so close, who have offered me care and support. "Thank you" seems like so little to give them in return, though these words always seem to evoke a sincere smile or a "your very welcome".

I am reminded on a daily basis how important it is to acknowledge the things in our lives for which we are thankful. Perhaps if we had to sit down and offer thanksgiving by sending a handwritten personal card for all in our lives that we are thankful for, even the gloomy and seemingly empty days would not seem so bad. Every day brings with it something to be thankful for, even if it is just waking up in the morning. Think about what things today deserve a thank you note from you.

Thanks for reading!