Thursday, October 15, 2009

Where's my TV guide?


I suppose this falls into the category of not appreciating the marvels of modern technology
just as we all curse the microwave from time to time for making us wait four minutes to do what it took our moms all day to do. But, dammit, I want to know where my TV shows are and when they start again and why they just up and disappear for six months at a time after only four new episodes!

Back in the days of three networks and your fuzzy, local "educational channel" The New Fall Season was an exciting part of autumn that sort of made up for having to go back to school. All the new, exciting shows and new episodes of our old favorites splashed across our snowy black and white screens one after another all on
the same week!

Now it seems that shows come and go like unexpected guests. When I find one I really like it disappears and I don't know if it's gone for good or if it's just on "hiatus" and will pop back up in January after I've forgotten what it was all about.

And, that's another thing... Why all the serial dramas? If you don't see the very first episode and be sure to watch them all in order you can't figure out what's going on except that everybody in the show and everybody else who watches it is keeping some big secrets from you. It's like walking into a movie theater ten minutes late and missing the exposition.

I know, I know...

Unlike my "good old days" I'm not only watching TV in glorious, High Definition, forty-seven inches of vivid color, I have three hundred channels from which to choose and a wonderful machine that lets me watch whatever I want whenever I want and skip all the commercials.

I just want to know what happened to Men In Trees.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Redefining relevance


At twenty I attacked my life dreams the way I had pounced on Christmas presents just a few years earlier. The future was forever.

By thirty I had created a family, a strong identity and an impressive professional reputation. The world was my oyster.

Turning forty brought me the good-natured joshing of my many friends, family and colleagues who had come to admire and respect me. I was at the top of my game.

Fifty was a bit daunting. My father died. My kids were grown and gone. Friends of my youth were away on their own adventures. Work was more of a challenge but life, overall, was comfortable and easy.

Time remained, I told myself, to do things.

Now that I’m pushing sixty I find myself struggling to remain relevant. In my own mind, at least.

For the first time in my long life, I’m neither the rising star nor the top dog. I’ve started the inevitable, slow slide.

And I begin to wonder, for the first time ever, how much time I have left.

There. I’ve said it aloud.

One phase of life ends and another begins. I get it. I always knew it was coming.

But I’m still not quite ready.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Spontaneous felicity


There is nothing in life more exciting than impulsive action.

It's that phone call you get on a dull Saturday afternoon from a good friend directing you to "grab a toothbrush and a clean shirt, we're headed to Tahoe to raise a little hell!"

It's deciding to call a few people and tell them to come on over right now because you're going to grill some meat and make some margaritas.

It's deciding to go east instead of north.

When our boys were still young Carolann and I took them on a cruise.
That's a pretty exciting vacation for an eight and twelve year-old. But when we returned to port in Los Angeles after a week of great food and fun on the Mexican Riviera the letdown was palpable in all of us. We were happy, just not ready to end the vacation. Not quite. So, rather than drive straight home to Sacramento as planned we decided to take the boys to Disneyland as long as we were in Southern California anyway.

Off we went!

That evening in our motel room, as we tucked our happy, tired boys into bed, that letdown feeling started to return. I picked up a map and looked at it for a couple of minutes.

"You know," I told my wife, "the Grand Canyon is only four hundred miles from here." And that's where we spent the next night.

Carolann and I have done this at least three times. We're great vacationers. We're just not good at ending them.

Once we were sitting in the Honolulu airport waiting to board our return flight. When the announcement came that the flight would be delayed we took it as an omen, blew off the reservation, phoned work and told them I'd need another couple of days and then we left the airport for another day and evening in paradise.

Another time it was a driving vacation that took us to Idaho, then north to the fabulous Canadian Rockies and across to Vancouver. On schedule to return home in time to go back to work in two days, we suddenly headed west instead of south because driving the Oregon and California coastline is so much nicer than I-5. And it added a couple of impulse days to our vacation.

The luxury in spontaneity is in breaking schedules and commitments. It is reminding yourself that you are free to do as you please whenever you wish.

It has been too long. I'm ready to do something impulsive again.

The problem is, you can't plan to be spontaneous.

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