Friday, 22 December 2006

Thursday, 21 December 2006

My Twelve Days of Sickness (Sung loosely to the tune of 12 Days of Christmas)

May be sung very loosely to the tune of Twelve Days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: A lovely kiss that came packaged with a sneaky head cold.

On the second day of Christmas my calendar gave to me: A meeting where I wasn’t needed, but I didn’t find out until I got there, stuffing tissue up my nose, while I quietly spread my plague, through the accoutrements of this common head cold.

On the third day of Christmas my meeting gave to me: More work than I needed, putting me way behind in my holiday shopping, while I still cough, sneeze and feel terrible, I wish I felt like doing something , anything…if only I didn’t have this head cold.

On the fourth day of Christmas my shopping gave to me: Only enough energy to shop online for all, after I try in vain to finish all my work, I’m feeling a bit feverish, the monitor is blurring before me, if I only could stop sneezing, I really hate all this coughing, I’m going to swear off
kissing, because that’s how I got this lousy head cold.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my online adventures gave to me: a mass of confirmation emails that send my inbox over quota, an alarmed call from the credit card company, a headache from all this coughing, oh boy I finished one project out of twenty, and I just can’t seem to kick this head cold.

On the sixth day of Christmas my fever haze gave to me: A load of Christmas gifts on my doorstep (didn’t I ship those elsewhere?), the stack of work that just keeps growing, if only I could have a little nap, I feel like I’m slowly dying, all from this irritating head cold.

On the seventh day of Christmas my creditors gave to me: The option for more credit, in case there was more holiday shopping, spam from online stores I’ve never heard of, a phone call from our holiday pet-sitter, saying they can’t pet-sit, the cold vacating my head for my lungs, another headache from coughing, sigh…I’d feel so much better if I could just kick this cough from the lousy head cold.

On the eighth day of Christmas my cough has given me: Sleepless nights that send me to the ER where I snagged some dopey cough syrup, oh great I have bronchitis, the pharmacy charges forty dollars for a tiny bottle of medical miracle, but I went home and drank it anyway, only to find it didn't work, now how am I supposed to sleep, I'm tired of the couch, and all this from that annoying head cold?

The ninth through the twelfth days of Christmas are a fuzzy haze: the details are a little sketchy, it’s all because of the cough syrup that started with a kiss and that led to a lousy head cold, and yet I'm still coughing, nothing seems to work, I'm still spending time on the couch, now I've got an inhaler, I wish it would all go away, I'm feeling really sorry for myself, uh oh Peter's coming for a kiss, and I'm afraid he'll give me another head cold.

Monday, 18 December 2006

Spam – Congratulations, you are a winner!

By the time you read this, I will have responded to the 187 daily e-mails that I’ve received for as long as I’ve had an e-mail account. And all of these e-mails proclaim I am a winner. I’ve given up the fight and am claiming all of my prizes. I have tried to live a humble life, but can do so no longer. They said I am a guaranteed winner, so I’ll no doubt write to you next from the shores of a fabulous tropical island, dripping in diamonds while I sip frothy cocktails.

Here’s the plan: first, I’ll respond to all the guaranteed cash winning e-mails. That will net me an assured $756,434, and that’s just today’s mail.

Next, I’ll begin an itinerary that includes every trip that I have been guaranteed, every airline ticket, celebrity filled cruise and African safari. From a week’s worth of e-mails, I figure Peter and I can circumnavigate the globe about three times before we run out of gas, so to speak. And even then, the thousands of dollars in promised gas cards should help out a bit.

I will outfit myself in all of the free clothing, shoe and jewelry gift cards that have been promised me by the likes of Nieman Marcus, Tiffany & Co., Juicy Couture, Abercrombie & Fitch and Nine West. Every card promises a $500 shopping spree. I don’t know about you, but I love a designer that cares enough to just give their stuff away.

When Peter and I return home from our extensive travels, the latest in electronics will be waiting for us. Because of all the free cell phone offers I’ve received, Peter and I will be able to give cell phones to every deer and squirrel that lives in the woods surrounding us. We may have to give away any number of plasma televisions, as there are only so many rooms in our house, and these companies just won’t stop guaranteeing me a new television.

In fact, the Internet people care so much about me winning all of these treasures that they’ve made sure to contact me no less than an emphatic sixty-two times each, just to make sure that I’ve been given enough warning. It’s only when I receive that ominous ‘final notice’ that I give in and claim my prize. It’s like I’ve given them every opportunity to give the prize to someone else, but they really want me to have it.

I’m thinking of hiring a personal assistant just to write thank you notes for the flattering kindness I receive, every single day, via my sweet e-mail in-box.

I guess if I was a smart girl, I’d quit daydreaming and maybe adjust the spam settings on my e-mail account before I climb out of my designated spot in the Matrix into the cocoon of wealth.

And really, maybe I shouldn’t be so greedy. Give me your e-mail address, and I’ll share the wealth by forwarding them to you. After all, there’s always tomorrow’s batch of false hope. I’m happy to share.

Thursday, 14 December 2006

What is Christmas About For You?

Are you ready for the holidays? Are your lights up, is your shopping done, your travel plans, meal plans and gift lists finished? If you are ready, you’re a freak of nature that I envy.
It won’t be long before stress piles up over the who-what-when-and-where of buying Christmas gifts for those we love.

Millions of dollars will be spent on stuff: gifts, food, alcohol, decorations, travel. Our credit cards will be full of finance charges for the new high balances, and the true “joy” of the season will show itself.

Isn’t that a lovely thought?

Let’s go back about two thousand years for a moment. Originally, this holiday was about peace, wonder and hope. About being unconditional and celebrating the season for what it really is, man made or not. Take an example from the Wise Men.

Gold, frankincense and myrrh; they may have been considered rare, high end gifts of the time, but what are frankincense and myrrh? They are both resins -- dried tree sap. Can you imagine? Dried tree sap for the King of Kings? Those Wise Men had some nerve. Today, Jesus would get an I-Pod, a 50-inch plasma screen television and an Escalade, all pimped out and ready to roll.

But, Jesus doesn’t need all the big stuff, and really, neither do we. Tree sap was good enough for the Big Guy, and it should be good enough for us.

So, at the risk of crashing the Canadian economy, I want to pose a challenge to all of us crazy people running around trying to make those we care about happy with ‘stuff,’ temporary happiness that it is.

Make this season about family, friends, unconditional love and acceptance of everyone in every circumstance. There’s really no good reason that we need to approach bankruptcy to make Christmas ‘worthwhile’ for everyone we love.

Since just about all of us do not rank as prophets or kings or saviours, what right do we have to demand more than what is freely given to us by people that love us? Why are we so selfish, so disappointed when we don’t get what we ‘want’?

It’s time we teach ourselves, teach our children (and let it make an impression this time) that Christmas is not about the presents, nor should it ever be.

Celebrate that your family surrounds you, that your belly is full, and that you have any gifts at all under your gorgeously decorated tree. Celebrate your health, your sense of humour, and the job that you have to pay for all this Christmas stuff. There are entirely too many people who have nothing to celebrate at all.

Although there are many charities to choose from, why not choose a holiday random act of kindness for a change? Think of those less fortunate than you, and give anything of your time, talents or treasures.

You’d be surprised how warm last season’s coat will keep someone who has nothing to warm them at all.

Wednesday, 6 December 2006

"Save the Cheerleader, Save the World"

If anyone watches NBC’s Heroes on Monday nights, you’re very familiar with the above phrase. I’m also guessing that even if you’ve never seen Heroes, you’ve heard the phrase somewhere, even if it’s only in a passing ad for an upcoming episode. NBC says that their gem is a show about “Ordinary people discovering extraordinary abilities.” Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?

The cheerleader is pretty much indestructible, but remember she’s the one they have to save. The Japanese man bends time and space, the Congressman flies, the artist can paint the future (and it looks bleak, folks, let me tell you.). The cop can hear others’ thoughts, the Internet stripper has a nasty evil twin and an ex-husband with some weird liquid-rubber-melting-through-walls thing. The male nurse? Well he can pick up anyone else’s powers when he’s near them. It certainly doesn’t sound like there’s much boredom with this crew. This is why we watch it.

So, save the cheerleader. Okay, I get it. In the show, the self-healing, blonde ball of bounce is the common message, and somehow, if she’s dead the world is coming to an end. Apocalyptic end. Kaboom. All because of a dead cheerleader?

If I wanted to let everyone think how deep and philosophical I was, I’d go on about how we all need to save the cheerleader in us, the little “Yay team!’ crew that’s in our soul and pops up to tell us when we’ve done well, even when nobody else notices. That would probably be a good thing to write about.

But instead, whenever I watch this show, I ignore the deeper meanings, sinister undertones and the Big-Brother-isms, along with the growing body count. Instead, I am caught up in the wonder of If I had a superpower…

Seriously. Would I use it for good or for evil? What superpower would I want to suddenly discover I had? The mind spins with possibilities.

There’s mind-reading, that could work. But who wants to hear the negative stuff, and what if it’s (gasp!) about me? No, thank you. Besides, I’d never want to know what my friends really think of my collection of Uggs.

Flying? What a rush that would be, but I’m way too clumsy. Add wings to that and it’s a natural disaster. Still, it might be fun to try, just to say I did it.

What if I could bend time and space? That has serious potential. It brings a whole new light to if-I-knew-then-what-I-know-now…yes, my plan is formulating now. Oh, I’d better be careful with that one. The brief taste of the dark side was a little heady.
Maybe that’s why I don’t have a superpower. Whether I remember everything I read or am suddenly super-flying-monkey-woman, with great power comes great responsibility, and I probably just couldn’t handle it.

I guess I’ll keep practicing at being a ‘regular’ human. It’s been forty-one years and I’m still tripping over things. Maybe when I get this walking thing down I’ll get a promotion.

Sunday, 3 December 2006

A Day In The Life of Wick

I owe my kitten. She made me forget all about a really crummy week just by being her eight-month-old-grey-tabbied self. Watching Wick look at the outside world as if everything in it is her personal play toy made me realize that life is too short to stress over things I can do nothing about (computers, etc.).

There is something about the effervescent joy of a kitten. There is nothing that doesn’t fascinate or entertain Wick. Everything is fun for her, and if she could laugh, I think we’d hear it often. She sure hears ours often enough, and much of it is because of her.

On this day, our friend Rueben comes to help with a ladder and a leaf blower when we’re ready to clean the eaves. I am sure that Wick will take her long, white-tipped tail to quieter territory where she can bat at a blade of grass when Rueben’s machine roars to life, but when that blower fires up, Wick doesn’t run away. It’s almost as if she knows what’s coming, and she can’t wait to be a part of it. I can see the gleam in those expressive green eyes from here.

A season’s worth of leaves and muck has me covering the barbecue and backing up slowly, eying the roofline with trepidation. The wet, black leaves begin to fly and I scamper. Wick is braver than I am, as she runs towards the storm of decay.

My bad week fades when Wick starts chasing those falling leaves. She jumps high (an impressive four feet or so) into the air to catch an unsuspecting victim before it hits the ground. She misses, but makes up for her kitten-clumsiness by executing a perfect back flip with a half-gainer and twist, landing a 10.0 dismount that impressed even the squirrels in the trees.

Before the first gush of belly laughter is out of me, she’s jumping again and catches her prey. The black leaf lays limp in her teeth. She stands as proud as any jaguar on its kill. She trots towards me, head held high. She drops the leaf in front of me and waits. I reward her as if she’s brought me the head of Osama Bin Laden on a plate (rewarding Wick is important, because we’re hoping, eventually, she’ll bring us the heads of dozens of field mice on a plate.).

When she feels properly praised, she’s back at it, and I forget all about whatever bothered me so much about last week. I am half tempted to join Wick in her leaf romp, but I don’t think I’d relish the taste of mouldy leaves much.

I can pretty much guarantee that tomorrow will hold some kind of stress. But before I let myself get all caught up in the worries of pleasing everyone with a job well done, I’m going to grab the laser pointer and watch Wick chase it as she always does, never giving up hope of one day catching that elusive pinpoint of red light, no matter how many walls she smacks into in the process. After all, laughter is the best medicine for a bad day.