Monday, March 19, 2012

On Second Thought, Maybe It Matters

This marquee has absolutely nothing to do with this blog. I just dig it.
On second thought, maybe it matters...

I want to begin this week’s rantings by thanking all of my faithful followers who took time out of their hectic days to complete the online ballot and vote for me in our local rag’s Best Of contest.  (and to hell with those of you who didn't!!) jk.
As I excitedly went online the morning of March 15 to check the results for "best blog"  I can say that I was not surprised(or thrilled) that it went to Mark C. Anderson and his food blog, Edible, for the 2nd year in a row.
Okay, I can understand that the nation loves food more than trailer trash, but what I can’t understand is how a newspaper can sponsor a contest and allow their employees, and in this case, an editor in chief, to be eligible for the prize.  Any credible contest excludes affiliates, their family members and households from entering or being eligible.  But of course The Monterey County Weekly is not The New York Times; a fine paper where proper and ethical rules of protocol for contests are followed.  Hey, I’m not fumin and certainly not throwing my flamingos across the yard.
I’m actually not a sore loser.
On the contrary, I love food too. But reading all about the fancy dancy restaurants in Monterey, Carmel and Pebble Beach, over and over again, just isn’t my cup of Lipton if you know
what I mean.
It got me thinking though.
What matters?  What truly matters?
So, what am I doing right now?  I guess I’m pondering the “what matters” and the “what doesn’t matter” in life.  And winning a small town paper’s lil competition is teeny weenie on the big daddy scale of things, I suppose.  If the sun were over a yardarm, this current pondering might rear its ugly head; even converge on comical hysteria.  However, it’s only 9:00 a.m. and caffeine has a much calmer
affect on me than booze.

So, does it matter that Encyclopedia Britannica, whose first editions date back to 1768, ceased the printing of its books this week?  On March 14, 2012, the company went public saying it would continue publishing online but its paper edition would no longer be in production.
It’s a sign of the times, I reckon.  I mean, who goes to a bookshelf and strums through a set of encyclopedias to look up a fact?  You just “Google it” right?  The Google Wizard has become the man behind the curtain in the land of Oz.  He knows all. He only competes with the Yahoo Wizard.
And much like rotary phones, 8-tracks and human contact;
Encyclopedias are now a thing of the past.  After two hundred plus years, the last page has been turned.
But does it matter? 

The Bad Girls Book Club met last week to drink wine, eat ravioli and oh yes, discuss the book which can sometimes be an after-thought for us!  We read Ursula Hegi’s novel Sacred Time; about family secrets, relationships and what mattered in the lives of a family growing up in an Italian neighborhood in the Bronx beginning in the 1950’s.  Filled with Pall Mall cigarettes, Holy Communion, veal parmesean and those Sunday gatherings where everyone danced, argued and talked over each other and ate so much they had to unbutton the top button. And it all was precious; all of it  “sacred time.” 

I finished the book only 2 hours before we met; therefore, the characters and images of a time long forgotten were fresh in my mind.  While reading, I had stumbled over boulder of a quote, three-quarters of the way through the book, that left me thinking, thinking, thinking…
Aunt Floria, while on a journey of self-discovery to "the old country" said,
"Miracles are merely misinterpretations."
Never one to remain silent, I spoke up and of course my words came out like I was some sort of heathen female dragon breathing flames of atheist dogma.  Seems I agreed with Aunt Fiora and all my gal pals disagreed with Aunt Floria and me.  This catapulted us into our own sacred time; jabbering, yelling, pouring more wine, talking over one another and discussing whether miracles are misinterpretations? Personal interpretations? Whether they actually exist or not.  
And if they do exist,
Do they matter? 

  1. A surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is considered to be divine.
  2. A highly improbable or extraordinary event, development, or accomplishment.

In searching for a simplistic, non-denominational definition for the word, I think the above comes close to my liking.
Yet, in the circle of my closest pals last week, I felt I was standing alone, and not for the usual reason of
being a lesbian from a trailer park. This time because, as scary as it is to say in a crowd, I might not believe in a "divine being" or God or miracles.
That's a lot of strikes against me; even in a comfortable circle of cool, loving and progressive women,  but I just can't wrap myself around the whole turning water to wine or the Virgin de Guadalupe appearing to the masses multiple times over centuries.  It's science vs. spirituality;  it's the tangible, provable vs. the faith-card.  And book after book after book has been written in support of both.
So, does it matter; whether we believe in miracles or not?
I think believing in miracles makes us feel safe, comfortable and adds hope to the clouds of hopelessness that hang over us all in our day to day lives.  
But we use the hell out of the word "miracle."
"It's a miracle Johnny passed algebra."  "It's a god damn miracle my cat found his way back home after being gone 3 years." "Her miraculous recovery has left her cancer-free." "Such a miracle Arnie didn't freeze last night, cuz the temperatures dropped to below 30."

Possibly each example can be explained...
Johnny passed algebra because his aunt hired a tutor.  The cat found its way back home because of good instincts and a few scraps of food hand-outs along the way.  She became cancer-free after years of a special diet, exercise and a strong genetic make-up.  Arnie didn't freeze on the street because someone gave him a down comforter."

But whether there is a measured explanation or just an open heart filled with faith...
Does it really matter which side we're on?
Maybe. Maybe not.
Perhaps, whichever way we look at the occurrences in our lives and the lives of those we love,
is absolutely perfect for each individual.  And maybe what truly matters is being okay with it; not only with our own personal beliefs, but okay with someone else's.  Like maybe it does matter, to some, that Jesus Saves and Fried Apple Pies are only 49 cents.
Coexist. Hmmm..Isn't there a bumper sticker?

I think what matters in this theatrical performance called Life which, in my view, is not a dress rehearsal,   are those little things that I mentioned at the start of this piece; which clearly has gone off on some weird, reckless tangents that may cause understandable confusion and quite possibly the need for Advil.

Those things like rotary phones, paper books and human contact.  Well, maybe not rotary phones but what about calling someone or taking them out on the town when it's their birthday, rather than simply wishing them a Happy Birthday on Facebook?  Or sending a friend a card, through snail mail, just to say, "Hi" rather than sending a text? Or thumbing through the pages of an actual book; physically touching the words that touch you?
Do those things still matter on the giant ladder of importance or are they all just things of the past?
At the end of the day, I think, yes they matter.
And I think it's about taking the time.  The time to say, "I love you" in person.  The time to prepare a nourishing meal rather than go through a drive-thru.  The time to choose the "right" card that fits the personality of that special friend.  The time to volunteer at an organization rather than press a button to sign an online petition.  Taking the time to put 'human' back into humankind.
That's what we all crave.  That's what we all need.  And quite possibly, those types of things could feel like miracles for many folks. And that is what matters.
And you know what, my beautiful peeps?
All of this matters so much more than winning a silly contest
in a small town rag.


Monday, March 5, 2012

Move Over American Pickers

I come from a long line of trailer trash, as you know.  I say that with utmost pride. 
We ‘trailers’ hold in us the ability to persevere through harsh economic times, family feuds
and liberals moving into our parks everyday. 
We've learned to endure. Cope.
The ‘trailer’ in me slips out occasionally with a “gettin’ instead of ‘getting’ or a ‘y’all’ now and then.  My bloodline and roots are blatantly visible when my partner and I do our weekly yard saleing in order to keep our side business, VW Upcycling, up and running.
VW Upcycling
2 girls buying junk at cheap ass prices; then doing whatever it takes
to make the crap unique and aesthetically pleasing, and after doing so,
selling it for hella profit.
Minimum 200 % mark-up.
Primary goal is to sell to “shi shi” folks on the bay.
Green company.  No support of large chain stores. No waste in landfills.

VW Upcycling is the modern day Sanford and Son.  For those of you still in diapers, Sanford and Son was an American sitcom and a smash hit created by Norman Lear.
It first aired in 1972 and featured a father and son team who owned a salvaging business.
VW Upcycling is a couple of dykes buying crap then 'upcycling' it in order to pay the rent. 
My dad loved Sanford and Son.   Redd Foxx was the only thing that made my pop laugh out loud in those days.  He’d plop his fat ass in his recliner while my mom, my brother and I, with our bowls of Neapolitan ice cream in hand, huddled together on our vinyl couch; all eyes glued on the console. 
When Fred Sanford would engage his favorite ploy and feign having a heart seizure, whereupon he’d look toward the heavens and call out to his late wife, “I’m comin, Elizabeth! This is the big one! I’m comin!” my dad would let out a belly laugh that could be heard blocks away, totally scaring the shit out of the three of us.

Recently, my brother told me about the TV show, American Pickers.
Opening: The series intro is narrated by Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz:
“I'm Mike Wolfe. And I'm Frank Fritz. And we're pickers. We travel the back roads of America looking for rusty gold. We're looking for amazing things buried in people's garages and barns. What most people see as junk, we see as dollar signs. We'll buy anything we think we can make a buck on. Each item we pick has a history all its own and the people we meet are a breed all their own.
We make a living telling the history of piece at a time.”
Amen, Mike and Frank.  Amen.
And what I love about American Pickers, in addition to sharing
the same passion as these boys for earning a decent living, is their sidekick Danielle.
Danielle's a tattoed spit-fire who knows how to charm the pants off ya. And I like that.  The show airs on The History Channel due to its self-proclaimed title as “Antique Archeologists.”  
I watched two episodes and knew instantly that I was ‘one of them.’  ‘One of them’ meaning: a backwoods, pre-fab kinda girl who enjoys the simpler things in life like little sparrows chirping in the early morning, a golden sunset on a country pond and ripping folks off by selling junk disguised as treasure.

This week was an excellent week at VW Upcycling.  We’re rollin in the dough which means we can now afford to buy the free-range, no nitrate hot dogs and also buy tickets to see the derby girls kick some ass in Santa Cruz.  Here’s just some examples of the treasures we’ve kept out of landfills:
Purchase Price: $5
Upcycle Price:$25

Purchase Price: $10
Upcycle Price: $185
(Delivered to San Jose)

One thing that we ‘trailers’ have in common with folks like you is we are resilient.  We take the damn bull by its horns and ride it baby.  We don’t wait for opportunity to come a knockin, but rather, we sniff it out like a hound sniffs out a coon.

Purchase Price: $3
Upcycle Price: $45

We always have an organized plan.
We do our research or “homework” as we like to call it.
And although we’re old-fashioned, we do use mapquest in order not to backtrack.  You see, this saves on fuel, which btw is at $4.47 a gallon in our neck of the woods.  Timing is everything. We make our list according to start times and locations.
However, we disregard the NEB (no early birds) requests and get there as early as we damn well please in order to work our magic and get some real bargains.
Once our Chevy pickup is loaded, we make a drop at home, take a quick potty break and then get back on the road. Time is money, honey.
Usually it’s a good day and we score big, especially if it’s not raining.

The week that follows the shopping frenzy, is spent in the garage fixin, gluein, stainin, changin hardware, and sometimes “airin out” an item if it has a mothball or mildew fragrance to it.
Then comes the staging and the photographs.  This is my forte.
I take photos of the “pieces” from various angles and post them on Craigslist.
Then we wait for the callers to phone in.  And hot damn do they ever!
It’s a win win and the way I see it, the world needs more “win wins.”

Once in awhile, I come across an item of high quality and prestigeous value;
an item whose beauty and worth make it far more valuable for me to retain it
rather than sell it.

This past Saturday,
I came across one of those items at a bargain price.
I got the vase for a couple bucks and the gin for $5.  The seller informed me it retails for $40 a bottle, and because he was a UK native and wearing Banana Republic dress slacksI believed him.
I got home and Googled it and here’s what the experts had to say,
“The Chanel No. 5 of the category is Plymouth English Gin. Made for two centuries at Black Friars Distillery, the ultra-sophisticated spirit is distilled in a copper alembic still using pure grain spirits, soft Dartmoor water, and an infusion of seven, highly aromatic botanicals. A quick sniff explains Plymouth’s enduring popularity. The gin has an exuberant citrus, spice, and juniper bouquet, and a light, seamlessly smooth body. Its vibrant, skillfully balanced palate fills the mouth with the flavors of strawberry, coriander, orange, and lemon zest, which gradually tapers into a graceful, distinguished finish.”

When you aren’t born with a silver spoon in your mouth;
I mean when you fall into that class that pays 25% tax instead of gotta find ways to make ends meet.
You know what I’m talking about. 
Hey, if you’re looking for a nice piece of furniture, give me a ‘shout out.’
Or stop by for a bubbly glass of Plymouth botanicals on the rocks.  I’d love to see ya!