Friday, January 29, 2010

Expiration Dates

    There it was, way in the back of the refrigerator, an unopened container of sour cream. Exactly what I needed to top my spinach and mushroom quesadilla - yummy!

But DANG IT!!! The expiration date was like 8 months ago. I opened it anyway. It’s sour cream for goodness sake. It’s already sour. Surely if it had never been opened it’d still be good - right? WRONG. I’ll spare you the details. Sadly I had to toss a full container of sour cream in the garbage.

    That happened about three days before I was scheduled to jump out of an airplane for an episode of MidlifeRoad Trip. It got me to thinking about expiration dates.

Like it or not, all of us have an expiration date. But unlike sour cream, we don’t know when it is.  Any doubts I had about skydiving vanished as I thought of what a waste it was to throw away an unopened container of sour cream.

When ever my expiration date rolls around, I don’t want any unexplored opportunities, unfulfilled experiences or unchased dreams left in my container. I want my container empty with the insides licked clean.

There’s something about Midlife when your hair starts graying, your bones start aching and your… you know … starts you knowing, that makes you start thinking about your own mortaility.

This is one of my favorite poems of all time. I think it puts expiration dates in their proper perspective.

The Dash Poem
by Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak

At the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning to the end.

He noted that first came the date of her birth
And spoke of the following date with tears,

But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth

And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own,

The cars, the house, the cash,

What matters is how we live and love

And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard;

Are there things you'd like to change?

For you never know how much time is left
That can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough

To consider what's true and real
And always try to understand

The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger
And show appreciation more

And love the people in our lives

Like we've never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect
And more often wear a smile,

Remembering that this special dash

Might only last a little while.

So when your eulogy is being read
With your life's actions to rehash

Would you be proud of the things they say

About how you spent your dash?

© 1996 Linda Ellis

Monday, January 25, 2010

Contemplating Murder

I’m in really nice resort / conference center in Tampa, FLorida. I never intended to write a real-time blog but it’s 3:10 a.m. and I can’t sleep.
    I can’t sleep because I have a roommate.
    My roommate is snoring.
    My roommate is snoring, loudly.
    My roommate is J.D.  Lindman. J.D is the executive producer of the Midlife Road Trip show. We have a busy production schedule later in the morning - much later. When on the road, we often room together in order to share expenses. J.D. has become one of my best friends in the world.
    Friendship aside, J.D.’s snoring is unbelievably annoying. I am contemplating using the pillow that is no longer of use to me, to shut J.D. up - permanently.

     I’ll be right back.
    Didn’t go through with it. I couldn’t live with the guilt of snuffing out a friend. Besides, I’d have to pay for the whole room myself. I think I’ll get a shower.
    Be back soon.
    I remembered to wash behind my ears. Even in the shower, with the water running, I could hear J.D. snoring. He hasn’t always been this bad. That can’t be healthy. He needs to get something checked. I think I’ll wake him up.
    Back in a few...
    I guess I’d better put some clothes on first. If a naked man woke me up at 3:40 a.m., Im not sure what I’d think. I certainly wouldn’t room with him again. I’d better get dressed first.
    Where are my socks?
    This is the first time I have ever written anything naked.  I’m actually feeling very creative; I’ll have to remember to try this next time I get a case of writer’s block, unless it’s one of those times when I’m writing in a hotel lobby.
    Should probably get dressed.
    Don’t look.
    O.K. I’m dressed now, but I’m not sure how I’m going to wake J.D. I have an idea, but it’s risky. I’ll let you know how it goes.
    Pray it works.

    It didn’t work like it did in camp. I filled the ice bucket with warm water and tried putting J.D.’s hand in it. He spilled the bucket all over the bed. He didn’t think it was funny, but at least he’s awake now. In fact, he’s taking a shower. He thinks it’s somewhere around 6:30 a.m. He wants to go to breakfast as soon as he gets dressed.
    I’m going sleep, y’all.  

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Writing for Leno

    Being raised in the Bible belt, I was a taught that it is a sin to brag. I have always felt that whatever level of success I attain as a writer should be attributed to what I have written, not for whom I have written. I want my writing to stand on its own merits.
    That said, one of the Midlife Road Trip producers insisted that I should at least mention I had written material for Jay Leno, of Tonight Show fame. She said that it would not be bragging if I mentioned how I now look back on those years with a great sense of humility - which in all sincerity, I do.
    Right now, my life’s work is guiding others through their midlife journeys; showing them how to live their lives to the fullest, without regrets; encouraging them to take chances and fulfill  their dreams. How can I be an encouragement to others without sharing a personal experience of a time when I threw caution to the wind in pursuit of my dream to make the world laugh?
    So I guess it's not  bragging if my intent is to encourage others, right?  I think this letter received from Mr. Leno, shortly before I decided to pursue other endeavors, conveys the nature of our professional relationship. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Please Don't Kill Me

I have always been a little off, a little twisted. My momma says I was a handful growing up. If somebody says you’re a “handful”, it’s just a polite, Southern way of saying you are a pain in the butt.

I debated whether it is O.K. to say “butt” because I’m not sure if it is a cuss word or not. But then I remembered what the King James Bible calls a donkey, and I figured it was all right.    

My momma is a very intelligent woman; she has her Master’s Degree in early childhood education. While I was growing up, she tried everything she knew to get me under control, but I was still a handful. Eventually she decided to have me  evaluated. She arranged for some “professionals” with legal pads to visit my school and observe me throughout the day.

These experts told Momma that I had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – ADHD, which is just a big, fancy, clinical way of saying I was a “handful”. Momma already knew that, but I guess we had good insurance and  she wanted to have it confirmed.

I still remember the first time Momma ever talked to me about ADHD; she was so kind and loving. She sat me down, took my little hands in hers and looked into my eyes. Then she pinched my cheeks real hard so I’d look into her eyes. 

“Honey, you have a condition known as Attention Deficit….Look at me….Attention Deficit Hyper…LOOK AT ME!… Hyperactivity Dis…. Just take this little pill RIGHT NOW!”

“What’s it do?” I asked.

She knew I was too young to understand the chemistry behind it so she said, “It will help you to grow up to be big and strong and live a long life!”

Frightened, I asked, “Will I die if I don’t take it?”

She said, “No, honey, no. You won’t die... But somebody might kill you.”

After all these years, I am taking myself off my ADD meds. Midlife is the time you give your self permission to be yourself. I’m not sure that I am myself when I’m on the meds.

As I transition back to my natural ADD glory, I’m not sure what I’ll say or what I’ll do, but it will be me who says is and does it. Just please know that it is never, ever, ever my intent to offend anyone – except maybe the Amish – but that’s only because I know they don’t read my blog.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

CRAPPY New Year!

So here’s what happened. After church, a group of us headed into Atlanta for some Thai food. I voted for Mexican  because I knew that this particular Thai restaurant didn’t have wi-fi to support my Twitter addiction.

Since I couldn’t tweet and eat, I left my 3-month-old, 17”Macbook Pro in the car. Even though we were in a “safe” part of town, I wisely hid my laptop on the floor of  the rear passenger seat. And then to be extra safe, I covered it with my leather jacket.

When we returned to the car, we found a shattered window. But we didn’t find my laptop or my leather jacket - which obviously fled the scene in shame for not fulfilling its leather jackety duties of protecting my laptop.

I then uttered my first cuss word(s) of the new year, which is OK because I didn’t make a resolution not to cuss. Besides, screaming "Happy FAMOUS New Year to me! DARN it! shucks, Shucks, SHUCKS!" doesn't have the same therapeutic effect.

We called 911, but since no one was bleeding, we were given a low priority. After waiting for two and a half hours in 26 degree weather, I called 911 AGAIN to report hypothermia and frost bite, thinking it might move us up in priority.

While I was on the phone, an officer finally arrived. He told us that particular parking lot was hit 6-8 times per week. He said that the thief was probably a crack-head who traded my $2,800 computer to his junkie for a hit of crack.

Had the officer told me that the thief had traded my laptop for a hit of crack AND a hooker, I’d have felt much better knowing that I wasn’t the only one who got screwed.

On the off chance that whoever took my computer is reading my blog, please know that I will buy you a whole week’s supply of crack and hookers for it’s safe return - maybe even a month's supply! I don’t really know the current market price for either.

NOTE to everyone else reading this blog: Please be advised that my missing laptop had a current version of Photoshop and many personal pictures. So any unflattering or compromising pictures of me that EVER appear in the internet, are probably just the work of a creative druggie.