The Big Chill

Brad Isaac, who’s now a software developer but apparently once had thoughts of being a comic, ran into Jerry Seinfeld one night and learned his secret.

One of the Seinfeld secrets, anyway; I’m pretty sure he has more.

It doesn’t seem any more or less exotic than anything else you might read along the lines of self improvement, but don’t break the streak has a particular appeal to me.  Crossing off one day at a time, noting the completion of something, seeing how a pattern is developing and wondering where it will take me is a kind of magic.  It’s letting the calendar do all the heavy lifting.  It’s winding the clock works and letting them go.  It’s a giant temporal lever to move a very specific world.  I could go on.

(If you don’t want to bother to click, Seinfeld took a large calendar and marked a red “X” on every day he did a task he had in mind, in his case writing comedy material.  The visual reminder kept him encouraged to not break the string of red-X days.)

Of course, I like this because I’ve been doing it for a while now, in a variety of ways.  Toward the end of last August, feeling a little desultory about my exercise habits, I decided to walk at least 5 miles every day for six weeks.  I did, too, and it made a difference, although I’ve been slacking off since then.  Still, not breaking the streak was enough to accomplish that little goal, and I can use all the help I can get.

There’s a real obvious downside, which needs to be talked about, and that’s breaking the streak.  This is the problem with streaks, after all; they only exist because of a perceived end.  So it’s important, to me, to understand what would happen when/if the streak is broken, which in most cases is nothing.  Climb back on the horse, make a new streak, set a new record, etc.  Don’t get all obsessive here; it’s a tool only.

I had several streaks in 2012, besides my autumn walks, and they all worked out just fine.  A few I managed for 366 days, even.  There are others I work on, simple things that need to be integrated into my activities of daily living, little maintenance things (throwing something away or recycling it is a big one; just one a day might create a huge difference in a year, or at least a path in the basement).

The negative streak – not doing something – feels trickier, but it’s been on my mind.  This is divestment, the way I think of it, getting rid of things that have some sort of hold, and get in the way, or at the very least are expenses I could certainly do without.  I’ve got a whole list of these, but they start to smell suspiciously like New Year’s resolutions.  Having a holiday for lifestyle change doesn’t sound like a good way to start improving, so I try to stay away from the calendar on stuff like this.

I saw a sale on ice cream the other day, though, a favorite brand, and bought a couple of cartons.  I make jokes about ice cream and its role as a vice in my life, mostly because I don’t have a whole lot in that area to tweak, and most of it is food I should be eating, instead of staying away from.  Besides, how can you argue with ice cream?

It occurred to me, though, that the pleasure I got from ice cream was mostly anticipation, the awareness that it waited for me at the end of a long, stressful or boring day; the actual eating was just so-so, and sometimes inspired regret, and who needs that?

It’s a small thing, then, one that has few positives, more negatives, and a lot of neutrals.  And while I enjoy a good New Year’s as much as anyone, the idea of tearing a page off an old year and beginning a new one – and there are plenty of things I’d like to accomplish before we reach the end of 2013 – the streak I most like to nurture is the practical one.  There are going to be setbacks, long weekends, short nights, sad days, big moments, interruptions.  It would just be nice to find one thing I could change, just to say I did, just to see what will happen.

I decided that 2013 will be a year without ice cream, then.  It’s less a habit than an indulgence, and there are times I’ve wandered away from the freezer section for weeks at a time anyway, or at least kept it to little Skinny Cow sandwiches, a couple of tablespoons of cold and creamy for moments when it feels right.  It won’t be a sacrifice.

But it’ll be a change, and I’m a believer in that.  Who knows where I’ll be in 365 days, or if?  I can’t imagine that skipping one dairy item is going to make a difference, except possibly in my obliques, but I’ve been surprised before.  This is the point, actually: Make the change, don’t break the streak, try not to think about it too much, and wait.

There’s always dark chocolate, anyway.  And tomorrow is another day.

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Counting Down, and Up

Today is the 365th day of 2012, which is the price we pay for February 29th.  That winter Wednesday seems far off now, but it stretched out this particular year, and like most years our first inclination is to think that wasn’t such a good idea.

It’s my inclination, anyway, but I have company.  I don’t see many highlights of the past year, lists full of amazing things that happened, although they did.  A guy jumped from space.  A robot thingy landed on Mars.  Voyager, after all these years, left the solar system.

Here on the planet, though, we seem to get gloomy, looking back.  We lost two Andys, Griffith and Williams, along with a bunch of other people who entertained, amused, enlightened.

But most of those on the in memoriam lists had long and full lives, as my father-in-law did, who passed away on Nov. 6.  We all have to leave.

On the other hand, there was Aurora, and Sandy Hook, and the calendar starts to look a little grim.  Add in the other Sandy, and any number of weather events across this country alone, a depressing unemployment rate, wars, rumors of wars, MRSA, only eight more episodes of “Breaking Bad” – I don’t blame anyone for being gloomy, looking back.

So why do I feel optimistic?  Not in a hope-for-humanity, ‘tis-the-season way; I mean in a civic way only, a community way.  I can’t pin it down, but I have a good feeling.

On the other hand, it could just be the season after all.  Or the Seahawks, who are surprisingly good.  Or the weather today, which is drying out for a spell and showing signs of sun.

But I’ll take this new year, see what comes, and hope for more hope.  That’s the way I’ll start it, anyway.  I’ll let you know in 366 days.

 

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Finding The Key

There is no bucket list.  The term irritates me, even, but probably because of the movie, which looked so bad from the trailer alone that I wanted to summon the spirit of the young Jack Nicholson just so he could see what time and fame had wrought.

So there’s that.  But there’s still not a list, a set of dreams that I’ve shoved aside for a better time.  I can’t even conceive of such a thing, and I’m not without an imagination.

There’s a situational list, or maybe an ambience list, a mood list, something.  There’s an emotional place that would be nice to be, and once there who knows?  Travel, socializing, vegetables: All is possible, I think, if I could only stumble into the correct time of life.

This isn’t productive, though.  If I want to go to Scotland – and actually I would like to, and Wales, and Penny Lane – I can’t wait to be in the right mood.  I will have to plan.

I’ll accept, then, that there’s a time of life – right now would be good – when I have to ask the ultimate rhetorical, existential question: If not now, when?  That’s how you out of bed in the morning, boys and girls.  Nothing like picturing a future that eventually will not have you in it to focus the mind.  Maybe I just don’t want to think about buckets.

With this always hanging around somewhere in the recesses, I was innocently reading somebody’s idea of potential goals for the new year (yawn) when I came across a site teaching music theory.

The story of how this subject provoked me, way back when, is still buzzing around in my brain, but the short version is: There was a period in my life, around the age of 13, when I became strongly attracted to the idea of learning the secrets of music.  I eventually hung around musicians a lot, married one, fathered one, and wandered personally along the edges.  A little singing, a little doodling on the piano.

But there was a mystery there, to me, and it was intriguing, and once I learned there was an actual theory behind the whole thing, with terms like “supertonic” and “perfect fifth,” I decided that someday I’d like to explore that.  Not to play an instrument, although I get enjoyment out of the piano, and if I had the discipline to re-develop calluses I’d play my guitar more.  Not to sing, or sight read better.  Just to know the secret.

So I looked at this site, and bought a couple of their apps, little training programs and explanations.  I told my daughter, the music teacher, along with my wife, the music teacher, and under the Christmas tree?

A textbook.  From Beth.  I mean, are you serious or not?

I’ve decided to open this, then.  Maybe devote a period of time each day, seeing if I can unlock the code, learn the intervals by ear, have the occasional eureka moment and drive my wife crazy.

It will mean absolutely nothing.  It won’t make me a musician, or more musical.  It will just be one of those things, one of those things I always meant to do and never have.  Again: There is no bucket.

Just a book.

But I suspect I’m going to conjure up the spirit of a younger me, someone alive in the early 1970s, when Jack Nicholson was a real actor in really good movies, someone who glimpsed an interesting subject and then got distracted, and 40 years later asks an existential question and finally gets an answer.

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Sweet Mystery of Life

I’ve been grazing in Candyland lately, a typical holiday state of being, not worth mentioning but that’s never stopped me before.  The few sweet things I can actually make myself I consider preemptive strikes, a way to desensitize myself, and it never works.  I bake the bread, roll out the cookies, temper the chocolate, and give this all away to unsuspecting friends, and somehow I’m rewarded by thousands of mysterious calories in return, milling about on my countertop, as if waiting for a concert to begin.  I practice drone warfare on these, wandering by, looking down from above and striking quickly.

I’ve gained 10 pounds since Thanksgiving, then, a pretty normal holiday accomplishment, a combination of a sugar glut and spotty exercise.  Part of the latter is busyness, but mostly it’s the Northwest weather, also pretty normal.  Our spectacular summer didn’t ease us into autumn at all.  We had 75 days of sun followed by 75 of rain (not really, but close enough), and that was enough to change an energetic lifestyle into one less so.  My stationary bike has no excuse, but lately it’s started to look more and more like a fancy clotheshanger, so this is contagious.

None of this bothers me, even thinking I’m such a creature of habit that I let the calendar affect my waistline.  Ten pounds is an allowance for a long year, even one less traumatic than in the recent past, and it gives me a goal.  If the camera adds 10 pounds all by itself, and since I’m supposed to be in front of a camera come July, then my work is cut out for me.  Laid out for me, something.  It’s good to have goals.

I have other ones, but suddenly I see sun outside my window here.  Whatever the next 75 days hold, I’m pretty sure sunny weather is not going to be common, and with a relatively free day ahead I’m thinking there are some goals that need to be accomplished outside, where sugar is hard (but not impossible) to find.

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The Thought That Counts

The last time I got to spend some quality time with my mom at her home, we watched several episodes of “The West Wing,” which she seemed to enjoy a lot.  It was a good show.  And I kept it in mind.

So when I noticed that the entire series on DVD had been priced to sell, slipping down from the stratosphere where it had been living for a few years, I sent it off to her as a Christmas present.  I’m not much of a fan of old-fashioned removable media, as opposed to streaming, but that’s a minor point compared to what I imagined to be hours of entertainment, with 45 disks.  I was happy to get lucky with a gift I thought someone would enjoy.

And on Christmas morning, I checked my Netflix RSS feed and surprise, a gift for all of us.  All seven seasons of “The West Wing” are now available to stream.  On Christmas morning, you understand.

The benefits to a sense of humor are many, a gift that keeps on giving in a way, and very much appreciated.

——-

There should be a name for the week following Christmas, something clever and wry, something apparently beyond my creative abilities this morning.  I’m as much a slave to the stupid calendar as anyone, seeing a human, totally-made-up segment of time as a Fresh Start, and these seven days are too vague for me.

The Penultimate Week doesn’t quite work, but that’s what it feels like.  There’s been stress here, the daily, trivial stress of the holidays and a daughterly visit and church stuff and Christmas, in addition to watching the weather and paying the bills and getting the mail, and so of course there’s always a sense of relief, a break from intensity.  I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.

I tend to remain pretty even, actually, given that what passes for work in my case sometimes never goes away, for which I’m grateful.  My last two 2012 checks should arrive this week, barring a surprise royalty payment I’m unaware of, and as pathetic as they can be I’m grateful for some form of employment.  This has kept me busy, in fact, for the past 10 days or so, through most of Beth’s visit, through all the excitement, through The Night Before and The Morning Of, through yesterday and today until I can pace off three days without much on my plate.

Time to think, maybe.  As I say, I can pretend that January 1 is a new day as well as anyone.  There are tricks I’ve learned this past year I want to work on.  I can manufacture goals and create lists in my sleep.  There are books I want to read and theories I want to learn.

Mostly, there are days to plan, and mostly one of them at a time.  I woke up Christmas Eve under the gun, with too much to do and not enough time, and set some sort of personal record in column writing, finishing in under 45 minutes, not particularly coherent but there you go.  I seem to be imperfect.

The gift of days was on my mind, though.  God, grant me the capacity to be grateful, and to fill them, and to take some time to stop and think about all of that.

And about a name for this week.  It’s on the tip of my tongue, really.  Maybe tomorrow.

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Wednesday Archives

Wednesday has been Column Day for 11 years, and over 11 years some stuff will happen. My rule of thumb is that one should not re-read oneself unless one is willing to pay the emotional price, which usually involves groaning, but at least it’s some sort of record of what I was thinking, or not thinking. Some of these are collected in my books, but I’ve decided to ignore that for the time being and just find one from the past, every Wednesday, and post. If not for your edification, then mine. Groans are acceptable.

From December 29, 2004.

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“You’ve been watching too much Charlie Brown,” my son told me the other day, and I knew what he meant.

I was attempting to instill a little Christmas spirit in the boy is all.  Actually, what I was attempting to do was persuade him to come to church with me on Christmas Eve, but I threw in some philosophy for free.  And he was having none of it.

He wasn’t playing Grinch.  He just understood, as you do when you’re a teenager and you’ve got the world pretty much figured out, that there’s a lot of hype, not to mention a little hypocrisy, this time of year, and he was being a pragmatist.  He knew that there was a build-up and there’d be a letdown, so he wasn’t getting all that worked up.

Meanwhile, I was telling him about living in the moment, finding the joy, etc., prompting the “Peanuts” reference.  So I went by myself.

It was a very nice service, by the way.  Two congregations shared the night, so I got to hear the Christmas story from Luke told in both English and Korean.  It seemed appropriate for Christmas Eve, maybe even necessary, not just the music of two languages but the gathering of people from different backgrounds and customs, countries and traditions.  It seemed a good way to spend the evening.  A Charlie Brown moment, maybe.

I spent the rest of Christmas Eve following another tradition of mine, which is trying to stay awake.  Living with a couple of church musicians means a late night, and many a Christmas Eve has seen my wife and daughter arriving home after 1 a.m. and Dad on the couch, having barely made it through Clarence getting his wings and now producing some interesting respiratory sounds.

Christmas came and went, as my son knew it would, but it was still fine.  A roaring fire and a few surprises under the tree, then the traditional lazy day, listening to music and trying to figure out how to cook a rib roast.  All in all, I spent Christmas doing pretty much what I always have.

I spent the day after reading hate mail.

You might be surprised what people will say in an e-mail to a complete stranger, unless you’re the type who writes that sort of e-mail and then I guess you know.  This was in response to an essay I wrote, a fluff piece, poking a little fun at politics in Washington.  I would have thought there was nothing offensive in there other than maybe some jokes that weren’t all that funny, but apparently not.

There were insinuations and accusations, a few rants and some name calling.  It was vile.

It’s happened before.  It’s probably impossible to write for publication these days, particularly if it falls in the “opinion” category, without spurring someone with an ISP and a little time to vent.  You develop a thicker skin or else get out of the business.  These were remarkable, though.  Mean, even.  Enough to wipe that stupid Charlie Brown grin off my face.

I don’t answer these, not usually.  Occasionally I’ll argue a point with a reader, but mostly I let them have their say and just lose a little more faith in human nature.

It was an ugly year, and I don’t see any signs of it getting better.  I’ve whined enough about this in print, about how we seem, in this country, to have lost our perspective, particularly when it comes to politics.  If you read letters to the editor in just about any newspaper, you know what I’m talking about.  It’s reminiscent of the old saying, “It’s not enough to succeed; your friends have to fail, too.”  Not only are we sure we’re right, but any opinion that differs from ours is bad, evil, rooted in disloyalty or stupidity or Satan.

And it was doing this, skimming through angry e-mails on Sunday afternoon and keeping one eye on the headlines, that I got a little perspective back.

As of this writing, there are 23,000 dead in south Asia following the tsunamis resulting from the most powerful earthquake in 40 years, which hit at 4 p.m. our time on Christmas.  That number will likely go up.  Beaches became mortuaries, villages disappeared.  Islands are gone.  Nature doesn’t take a holiday.

So the question of who gets to be governor seems a little superficial at the moment.

And as far away as it was, and as mind-numbing as the images and horrific statistics are, I know this has struck us here at home.  I think about the Indonesian friends of my wife, the Indian man at the convenience store, the family with relations in Thailand.  We felt it too.

So I can get over a few stupid e-mails.  I can be grateful that we had a nice Christmas, and that I talked with family in other parts of the country.  They are safe, for the moment, as am I, and I’m grateful for that, too, knowing what’s important, knowing what I have, and knowing that at4 p.m.on Christmas Day, the only thing I was worried about was the roast.

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The Gospel According to Dudley

“The good news to a hungry person is bread.”  — Desmond Tutu

I’ve baked bread for various church services for 15 years, I guess, and it never gets old, by which I mean the degree of high anxiety I put myself through.  This is the time it won’t rise, will overbake, will underbake, will burst into flames and disappoint hordes of hungry Christians.

It never does, of course.  It’s always fine.  Hard to mess up bread, but still I’m convinced I will.

——-

My entire day, in fact, was spent under stress, too many things to accomplish and the fear that I’d forget at least one of them.  In the end, though, words were written, bread was baked, cookies were all counted out and packaged up, shopping was done, church was attended, and Julie and I watched “The Bishop’s Wife,” one of our favorites.

I note that we lost two good actors yesterday, Jack Klugman and Charles Durning, both of whom had long, rich lives and gave us pleasure, although Klugman seems to be getting the lion’s share of attention.  It’s Durning, though, who impressed me more: His harried cop in “Dog Day Afternoon,” the lovesick (unrequited) father in “Tootsie,” but mostly as Holly Hunter’s dad in “Home For The Holidays,” one of my favorites.  Watch his character creation in that film; a goofy man, really, just looking for some peace and a family dinner together, some football and a nap.  Loved me some Charles Durning.

And some Cary Grant.  There’ve been lots of angel portrayals over the years, some goofy ones too, but nobody was as cool as Grant’s Dudley.  We commented off and on during the movie last night, nitpicking some of the theology and special effects, and totally immersed at the same time in a pretty simple story, and for good reason.

The tag of “The Bishop’s Wife,” the hook, the storytelling point, is supposed to be bittersweet, how a divine creature succumbs to an all-too-human emotion, falling in love with a woman.  Talk about unrequited.

But it seems minor, this plot, or it struck me that way last night.  This charming, suave angel, completely efficient and accomplished, is captivated by humanity.  “If only people would act like human beings,” he says, not bittersweet at all, just hopeful.  There is such hope for us, he feels, and he comes to earth to intervene a little, push a little, work a few tiny miracles, but mostly to deliver a soft message.  Love one another, he says.  Forget the other stuff, the big cathedrals and the busyness of life.  Just find some joy, and love each other.

A Christmas movie, in other words.  And a happy one to you and yours, too.  There is good news to hear.

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The Best Christmas Ever

I’m a Christmas Eve shopper, one of those desperate men you’ll see in the mall, darting in and out of stores with a panicked expression, arms full of bags containing things no one could possibly want.  I hate crowds and I hate shopping, so logically I delay it until it can be as miserable an experience as possible.

This leads to errors in judgment, of course.  These make great stories for my family.  My wife has probably forgotten the diamond studs, new bathrobe, and stereo system I’ve given her in the past, but she’ll never forget the year I bought her a lovely sweater from apparently the Extremely Large Ladies rack (the tag said “medium;” I just thought it was supposed to be big).

It was after one of these last-minute excursions, walking through the parking lot at Alderwood Mall on Christmas Eve 1990, when I noticed something in the air.  It was cold and there were dark clouds in the sky, and I was in the process of trying to remember which car I had driven to the mall when a snowflake landed on my shoulder.

Snow is part of our Christmas liturgy.  Scrooge shuffles through it and George Bailey runs through it, screaming for someone to recognize him.  It’s Currier and Ives and Budweiser commercials.  As a teenager I used to crawl on the roof of our house and stare at the sky on Christmas Eve, waiting for a sign of snow.

Considering I lived in Phoenix at the time, I had a better chance of getting hit by an asteroid, but hey.  I’m a mystic at Christmas.  I believe in miracles.

In 1990 I was justified.  I opened my eyes Christmas morning and looked upward through the blinds on the window and saw snow.  Lots of it, just streaming down.  After all these years of waiting, it felt suddenly strange, almost an aberration.  There were several inches on the ground when we got up, and it snowed all day long.

(If you don’t remember this White Christmas, I should note that it tends to snow in my neighborhood more than others.  Seriously.  You can ask my neighbors.  Sometimes it only snows at my house.  This is because we are God’s Favorites.)

Snow on Christmas seemed an appropriate ending to a good year for us.  It was a happy, affluent time, with my business going well, my wife’s career blossoming, my daughter in kindergarten, and my 10-month-old son wandering around the house, finding all sorts of things and putting them in his mouth.  I sometimes think of it as The Best Christmas Ever.  And sometimes I wonder about that.

Seven years earlier, it was a different story.  My wife and I had just moved to Seattle, and we lived in a one-bedroom apartment on Capitol Hill with no furniture except for a bed and a TV.  We were cold all the time.  We had no phone.

We also had no money, and it looked like a bleak Christmas.  On Christmas Eve I walked up and down Broadway, wondering what I could get her for the few dollars I had.  After I settled on a book I’d found for half price, I came back to our apartment and she was gone.  An hour or so later, the intercom buzzed.  I went outside and there she stood, next to our car…which had a Christmas tree strapped to the roof.

She’d found this tree for a dollar.  It wasn’t a pathetic Charlie Brown one, either; it was lush and full.  We set it up in our empty living room and decorated it with the few ornaments we had.  It was our first Christmas together, and we knew there would be others.  We listened to Christmas music on the radio and danced around our tree, waiting for the future to happen.

So now I wonder about the best Christmas ever.  We could fit that first apartment in our basement now, and there are dozens of ornaments and lots of furniture and, at last count, eight phones.  There are packages under the tree.  I wouldn’t want to go back to 1983.  But still.

“Somehow Tim gets thoughtful sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant for them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see.”

There is something about the memory of two people, alone and poor in a strange city, that makes me think we somehow touched the soul of Christmas that year.  It makes me think of a manger.  It makes me think of waiting for miracles.

It’ll probably rain this Christmas.  It’ll still be Christmas.  George Bailey will get his life back and Clarence will get his wings.  The Grinch’s small heart will grow three sizes.  And Tiny Tim will not die.

And I will be reminded that miracles do happen, and are worth waiting for.  That family is more important than furniture.  That hope abounds in the human heart, that service to others is our greatest calling, that peace is worth praying for, and that, through half-closed eyes, the rain can sort of look like snow.

—-

(Originally published on Dec. 24, 2002)

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Listing

As I try to finish everything I need to finish (work stuff today before a friend comes over to watch the Seahawks game, column due tomorrow, have I actually walked into a store and done some Christmas shopping uh-oh), I have this sense that I need to stop and look back at 2012.  If for nothing else, to write that column.

And while I wonder about that, I’m trying desperately to avoid lists.  We are a community of lists, now, and particularly now.  Top videos, films, photos, cats, more cats.  Fun, maybe even useful, but overwhelming.  I don’t want to do lists.

Still, I found this one, and it amuses me this morning.  The site structure is a little annoying, but if you can put up with that, it’s fun to see how good writers have the best revenge.  My favorite:

I never saw anybody take so long to dress, and with such little result. – Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest.

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I love a good animated GIF.  This is probably my favorite site, although there are lots.  The other day, in a mood, I wondered about how difficult it would be to make one.  Turns out not that difficult.

John being a cat.

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Errors and Omissions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve made jokes for years about developing serious relationships with UPS men and women, a result of working at home and having no life to speak of.  I pretty much lied.  There is no relationship.

I mean, they’re busy.  They run up my steps, toss a package on the front porch, and head back out into the world.  But they’re here a lot; an educator’s life involves lots of packages, mostly books and music.  And I’m always only a click away from toys.

And never in my memory – which is questionable, as always – have I had this current situation.  A gift was ordered, late but not too late for the efficient Amazon folks, who conveniently live in my neighborhood more or less.  This item, ordered Wednesday, was due to be delivered yesterday, but instead came on Thursday, just a quick hop over from Bellevue, a few miles away.  I got a text message telling me it had been delivered, although at first I thought it was referring to something else.  Eventually, though, it was clear enough: Package delivered, “Front Porch.”

Somebody’s front porch, maybe.  Or some fantasy porch, some virtual porch.  Not mine.

So let me say for the record that UPS was of absolutely no help.  Their customer service chat program was down.  I stared at that 800-number for a while, but it’s Christmas and God knows what kind of music I’d have to listen to for the hours I’d probably spend on hold.

Trying to file a claim for a missing package led me into a loop, an aberrant algorithm (I’m guessing) that kept shoving me back to where I started.

So I went to the source, Amazon, and immediately got results, as expected.  Online chat?  It started within 30 seconds.  The answer was quick, too: So sorry. Will send a replacement.  Will make it one-day delivery so you get it on Monday.

I’m starting to doubt, actually, that this is true, since I didn’t get it placed until late afternoon yesterday, but we’ll see.  It might be a slightly late Christmas gift, which we can live with (or John can live with), but I can’t help thinking about the missing package.  Has it disappeared into a quantum physics waveform of probability, not here, not there?  Is it stuck in a continuity loop, always getting close to my porch and then back in the truck?  Is it in the Dead Zone, or the Neutral Zone, or the end zone?

Or is it being enjoyed by some neighbor as I type, graced with an early gift by virtue of having an address with similar, but not exact, numerals as we do?

None of this particularly bothers me.  Mistakes are made.  I made some with this, opting for the convenience of doorstep delivery instead of driving 10 minutes away to a big box store for the same thing at probably the same price.  I could have ordered it earlier; it wasn’t a last-minute idea.  I could have recognized the text message for what it was, noticed that it wasn’t there, jumped on this Thursday afternoon instead of waiting an extra day.  We make errors.

What bothers me is not knowing, and suspecting that there might be someone in my neighborhood selfish enough to keep a misdelivered package, and mostly the thought that, at some point next week, I might actually have two.

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