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He SHOOTS, He…almost SCORES — 2013 Goals, not Resolutions

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I’m the Wayne Gretzky of goal scorers…

well, let’s make that goal “makers”!

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100% of shots

I don’t DO New Year’s Resolutions…but I DO do New Year’s GOALS.

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GOALS

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I grew up a true stereotypical Canadian male — hockey courses through my veins. Which, as a blood-sucking lab technologist, it’s good to know that something runs through these old venous pipes.

I learned early on at 5 or 6 years of age that there are lots of contributing roles that can be filled by a fine hockey player. There is the defender who drops fearlessly, crotch or face-first in front of opposing goal scorers as they release a powerful slapshot towards the net.

There is the enforcer, who with his/her brawny intimidation and slurs against opponents’ mommys, beckons tears from the players of the other team, taking them off their mindset of scoring goals.

There is the playmaker who dipsy-doodles like an Olympic figure skater before slipping the puck to the another player who blasts it past the goalie.

And then there is the pure goal scorer, who pops the puck into the back of the net with staggeringly awesome consistency. I began my childhood hockey career as a fantastic goal scorer. Mostly because the other 6 and 7 year olds could barely skate, much less shoot a puck straight. Anyway, with each year passing, the other kids got better and faster and stronger. I learned to love cookies and got slower and fatter. I slowly migrated back to becoming a defenceman who gets the frozen puck slammed into his face and groin.

Almost anyone who plays or admires the game of hockey wants to score goals or see lots of them. Goals win games. Goals win the hearts of the cheering, adoring fans. And it’s goals that coax the panties off the young blonde Barbie-hockey groupies who hang out in cold city or prairie arenas each winter, looking for that strapping hot, hard, stick-toting stud with the “moves like Jagger”.

Lick the stanley cup

WARNING to HOCKEY GROUPIES…don’t do this outdoors in the middle of winter…

So it’s probably that last point that inspired my lifelong path from scoring great hockey goals to great goal-setting in life. It’s all about reaching for Maslow-like “self-actualization”. Goals are something that I’ve taken from the hockey arena and dropped squarely into the middle of my own day-to-day lap. I remember faintly the lessons of my Grade 13 physics class — when I wasn’t too busy staring at Charlene, the ever-so-sweet brunette ahead on my left — relating to Newton’s First Law that states,“an object at rest tends to stay at rest”.

Newton describes me to a TEE. I’m not like YOU. I like to rest. I like to stay at rest. I am so lazy.

But the best way to get me off my butt is with a good challenge, a GOAL, not through a New Year’s resolution. You may forcefully state that it’s semantics, but I believe that goals and resolutions have a slightly nuanced difference.

A RESOLUTION is “a firm decision to do or not to do something“. Like quitting smoking, or gaining enough weight to get on The Biggest Loser, or not licking flag poles in the winter, or starting a blog once I can think of something important to say.

From the practical perspective, most resolutions work from a negative point of view…”I won’t do this”, “I won’t do that”. By the second or third week of January…you’ve stumbled, you’re toast and the game has been lost until the following New Year, a full 11 and a half months distant.

A GOAL is “the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result“. Goals, unlike resolutions, come at you from the opposite, or more positive, perspective. A goal should be very specific and achievable – making a goal of growing an extra finger on the top of your head to flip at annoying drivers without having to turn around is laudable, but not achievable.

A goal sets a desired result that you go for unceasingly, like paying down 20% on the mortgage, or not paying your personal trainer more than $100 for sex, or convincing 2 friends to start smoking so that you feel less lonely. With goals, you generally have the whole year to work towards an objective that stretches you beyond where you are now, and hopefully to a level that you think is ALMOST unachievable for YOU.

funny-life-goals-internet

At the end of 2011, I sat down at this computer and wrote down a list of those things that I hoped to accomplish in 2012. Honestly, I bombed totally on a few…BUT…I struck gold on a few others.

Following is a sampling of where I skipped unerringly along the Yellow Brick Road, and others where I swerved like your Drunk Uncle on New Year’s Eve.

So, Where did I strike LEAD?

  • Visit Ireland…NOPE, made it to Scotland, but not Ireland.
  • 100 Pushups non-stop…Not even close. I only made it as far as 41 on March 12.
  • Overall Financial Net Worth Return of >15%…Only halfway with a total return of 7.9%.
  • Run a sub-4 hr marathon…Missed again. It took me 4:35 to complete the Vancouver Marathon.
  • Write and Publish 1 article in the Globe and Mail “Facts & Arguments” section…I did submit an essay, but I’ve yet to see it in print.
If I can do 10 pullups, so can you!

If I can do 10 pullups, so can you!

And the GOLD?

  • Hold a Yoga plank for 5 minutes Non-Stop…Knocked that one off just a couple of weeks ago in mid-December…whew…killer!!
  • Try 2 “new-to-me” sports…Check. Did Tai Chi on a Yangtze River cruise in China in March. Snowshoeing in nearby mountains in January.
  • Visit Spain and China…Check (October) and Check (March)!
  • 10 Pullups (Chinups) Non-Stop…Check. Only barely accomplished TODAY!!
  • Increase Charitable Contributions by 10%…Check. or is it Cheque?? Both UNICEF and International PLAN got a 10% raise this year.
  • Start a Blog and write 2 new posts each week…Check…sort of. I did initiate this blog, but cut back to 1 entry per week about a month ago to concentrate some more time on music and songwriting.

Now 2013 sits before us, beckoning teasingly and holding hope for each of us. They say you should share your goals as a way of holding your feet to the fire. Telling others adds subtle pressure, helping to keep your motivation levels way up there.

So, my friends, I’m putting some of my 2013 list of goals out, here and now. I know you’ll be supportive, and not laugh TOO much in those areas where I crash spectacularly. Many still laugh raucously (and ever so cruelly!) at my earlier talk of retiring at 35, then 40, then 45…then…well, you get the point. Here I am at 55 years, gainfully (and happily I might add) employed in a medical laboratory.

GOALS for 2013

  • Pay off investment loans in anticipation of debt-free retirement in 2014
  • Bring blog posting total to 100 and views to 7500…today’s blog entry is #39 with 2,383 viewings to date.
  • Write 12 songs…one per month.
  • 20 Pullups Non-Stop.
  • Take cooking classes in Spanish-speaking country (Argentina/Costa Rica??)
  • Try 2 more “new-to-me”sports (eg. kettlebells, curling, paddleboarding)
  • 100 pushups Non-stop
  • Purchase 12-string guitar
  • Overall Net Worth Return of >15% -(investigate more underanalyzed small cap stocks, follow arbitrage opportunities)
  • Increase Charitable Contributions by 10%
  • Grow larger vegetable garden and process more for winter use.
  • Run 2 Half Marathon races (sub 2 hrs)

I keep my list of written GOALS on my desktop of the computer as a continual reminder, a strong motivator, and a Hannibal Lecter-like fear factor facing directly at me every day. We all have our core values, passions, and purpose…goal-setting is my way of reaching and stretching myself forward in those directions that are paramount to me.

I am the lead actor and director in my own life’s production. There are those who wake up each morning and cheerfully improvise their lives like a “Second City” performance. For me, spontaneity, joy, and enthusiasm are found on the rehearsal stage when I’m extending my limits in search of the goals I’ve set for myself.

new-years-resolution-magazine

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Five People I’d Like to Have for Christmas Dinner 2012

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turkey-protest

HURRY…kill the turkey!

The year end is approaching quickly.  And this means that many of us spend the long, dark wintry days turning inwards (especially us Introverts!), becoming introspective, seeking meaning and reason in life. Do you think there’s more to it all than Facebook?

This search may be especially true for those of us who don’t put our trust in a higher power or being. Not believing in a deity and/or afterlife compresses the time allotted for finding significance to our existence. After all, to us heathens, existence and eternity usually means something like 40 up to about 90 years, really not a whole lot of time after you make your bed, eat breakfast, brush your teeth, and sleep. Turn off the TV I tell myself, time is running out. Time management for the atheist is the #1 priority right after food and sex!

So I say…

Damn you Christians with your eternal time in heaven with all of your loved ones and no worries about global warming.”

Damn you Muslims and your reward of 72 (some say only 40) virgins.”

Damn you Buddhists and your Nirvana and reincarnation.”

I won’t damn YOU Jews since you’re a bit confused on the whole afterlife side of things already, so why should I make you suffer more consternation with my words.”

Christmas 2012 will be unusual in my world as this will be the first time in 27 years that we’ve not had all or most of our 3 kids at home. They’ve provided the meaning to the season for so long, that I’ve forgotten that there were other reasons, you know… all of that birth of Christ child stuff and Wise Men and Shepherds and HOHOHO and pretty girls…oops sorry, I’ve slipped off on a Charlie Brown tangent. Blockhead!

Since the Christmas dinner table will be extra light on offspring this year, I’ve decided to enjoy a very special Christmas meal serving up 6 courses of my most appealing and satisfying guests from now and days gone by.

centennial-james-a-michener         Trinity by Leon Uris

Course 1 – Appetizers

With Authors James Michener and Leon Uris…a dinner that starts with appetizers should be filled with creative ideas and thought to whet the appetite. These guys aren’t literary heavyweights. But they have written a huge volume of amazingly researched, diverse, and well-written historical fiction covering all parts of the world. I devoured their books in earlier years. And today I’d love to bite into some of their ideas on the writing process and organization. I’m astonished by those who can be so determined to focus and deliver a huge body of work in one lifetime. Sure they’re old white guys, but inspiration comes in all colours, ages, and genders. I also loved radically individualistic Ayn Rand’s ideas in my younger days, but just can’t bring myself around to her level of narcissism at this point in my life. Fortunately, just looking in my bathroom’s mirror and seeing the “funhouse” image it reflects back is enough to keep me grounded at this point in life!


Course 2 – Soup

Mom photo

With My Mom...Warm and inviting and full of goodness, this soup course will be my visit with a Ghost of Christmas Past. It will be wonderful to have my Mom at my table this year. It’s been 39 years since she died and I was last able to sit at her table and share in the Christmas feast. She made the BEST roast potatoes. Like any good, doting son, I’d want to tell her how much I love her and miss her after all of these years. As the first person I encountered in life who showed me unconditional love, I would want to tell her about my successes and mistakes, knowing that she would listen, but not judge. And I’d want to tell her that she gave me the grounding and support I needed to go out and make a pretty damn good life, despite all of my fears and worries (Mom was a HUGE worrier herself). And I’d want to apologize to her for not knowing the basics of CPR when she needed it back in 1973.

Course 3 – Salad

Warren-Buffett-ninja

Buffett is my favourite ninja…

With Legendary Investor Warren Buffett…what would a Christmas buffet be without a Buffett? Well, not overly filling, but chock full of nutritious thoughts and concepts. Buffett is known as the Oracle of Omaha, and probably the best investor of this generation. He’s also such a folksy kind of guy. It should be fun to have him at the table, telling little stories about life and making great stock investments. It’s not very often that you meet people who are highly intelligent and independent-thinking who can also relate to people in a relaxed and personal way. Making billions of dollars, almost all of which will go to charity when he dies, while playing a silly NINJA makes him my kind of guy.   Buffett can take a story about a one-armed baseball player and an Iowa chicken and make a heartfelt parable of it that relates directly to the reality and oftentimes insanity of the investment world.

Course 4 – Main Entree

obama_clinton

With Former U.S. President Bill Clinton…Clinton needs to be the main course because, despite his personal foibles (I’m buying you pants without a zipper for Christmas, Bill!), he’s one of the most substantial minds in the whole wide political world. Clinton, like Obama, is one of the seemingly few rational and caring political-type Americans out there today. Clinton can spontaneously dissect just about any complex world issue and bring to it a common sense approach and potential solution. There are many minds out there to admire, but Bill Clinton’s is at the top of my list. One discussion with Bill and I’ll be feeling overfull this Christmas.

Course 5 – Dessert

With Actress Reese Witherspoon…dessert should be a light, fluffy, and sugary sweet confection. The perfect dessert, like fine wine, also has an underlying layer of complexity and depth. This is why I’ve invited actress Reese Witherspoon to this occasion rather than my gut-instinctive initial choice, Pamela Anderson. The Queen of Jiggle, Anderson is just too much fluffy cotton candy that leaves me feeling sickly nauseous after consuming. The first lick is sensually encouraging, but a few bites later you can only feel regret. I like Witherspoon even though she isn’t my favourite actress… she is sweet and light, but hidden behind her fluff-laden translucent facade is a woman of some core substance. She has a nice finish on the palate that leaves me satisfied and wanting more.

pamela anderson

Jello served in two cups…

Perhaps you'd like "FUDGE"?....

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Course 6 – Cheese and Wine

With Singers/Songwriters Carole King and James Taylor…it takes two to finish this delectable Christmas dinner because they’re inescapably intertwined for me. After a large repast with so much to digest, some harmony is needed in this course for settling purposes. Other beautifully harmonious cheese and wine pairings could be Simon and Garfunkle, Karen and Richard Carpenter, Don Henley and Glenn Frey, Lennon and McCartney, Milli Vanilli (just kidding there!). But ultimately, what better finish could there be to a meal filled with symbolism and meaning shared with friends and relatives than with a blending of voices in “You’ve Got A Friend”? Whenever I’ve been “down and troubled”, a touch of musical melancholy from either of these two feels like rays of warm sunshine on the first sunny April day.

TaylorKingJT Carole King Now
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Finally, the anxiously anticipated Christmas dinner is done, the turkey has been deboned and made ready for the next week’s soup and sandwiches. There’s an awareness of satisfaction in knowing that we’ve made it through another year, however tumultuous or sensational.  A year filled with events that made us jubilant, made us cry, made us impatient, made us content, made us angry, made us appreciate.
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So. Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy Kwanza, Splendid Solstice…whatever you choose to pay tribute to, I celebrate with you and I can only hope that your gala feast with whomever you’d like to share it, is SPECTACULAR!

UGLY Ducklings Become The SWANS

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It was the Age of Innocence.

There was a time when little girls were just…little girls. They weren’t creations of Victoria’s Secret, or Estee Lauder, or Valentino, or Hugh Hefner.

I think I discovered girls in Mrs. Putns’ Grade 1 class at Glen Echo Elementary School in Hamilton. But I didn’t discover the right girls until much later.

Larry Grade 1 Glen Echo 2

Grade 1 Glen Echo School 1962…me in bottom right holding the ‘S’…

Kindergarten and Grade 1 girls in my classes played hopscotch and hot-pepper skipping rope with all of the fanciful rhyming verses that went with it:

 Ice cream soda pop , Lemonade Punch,

Tell me the name of my honey-bunch .. A, B, C, D ….

girls-jumping-rope

We boys played tag and road hockey and Red Rover. They didn’t like the same things we liked, and yet there was something about them that made us just want to chase after them, hit them and pull their hair. These were the heartfelt signposts of love in the kindergarten fraternity. I think the girls knew this, but we boys were woefully ignorant of any deeper meaning to our intentions.

We told everyone including our best buddies that we hated girls, but who were we kidding. Girls were different, but they were a GOOD different and we wanted a piece of their action.

These curiously perplexing creatures were usually smart and attentive, often pretty like spring daffodils, they wore colourful wool plaid skirts and white tights that they were always yarding up. We hadn’t experienced hormonal tides just yet. So while we wanted their attention and to interact flirtatiously, we didn’t really know until a few grades later what the outcome of the flirtation involved. It was innocent, and it was exciting.

But we were young and we were boys which meant we could often be callously cruel to girls. Just like we would be savagely heartless to the boys we called fags and homos later in high school. Bullying was an expected repercussion of showing up at school most days.

female-bully

We teased the pretty girls for sure. But it was light-hearted and harmlessly playful teasing. The, shall-we-say, less appealing or less cute girls received a much more vitriolic approach. Not only were they less mouth-wateringly tempting in our boyish eyes, but they often came with strange sounding names. My  school was in an area that attracted many European immigrant families from places like Italy, Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Ukraine. I grew up with girls named Zdenka, and Bozica, and Jadranka, and Eunice, and Gunta. We didn’t even TRY to pronounce their last names.

It was the cutesy little blond girls with pig tails named Dale and Cathy and Linda and Anne that drew us in like slightly confused moths to a flame. We were smitten and as the years went by we sent our best buddies across the playground to ask if they would be our “steady”.

It was the rare and very courageous boy who would make the direct approach to express his love wishes. This was early diplomacy at its best. Once the arrangement had been made and agreed upon by both sides, the brief courtship then got underway. At the next recess or lunch break, the conventionally-handsome couple would be found wandering the playground, holding hands and being admired and sometimes jealously hated by the other kids. The affair would usually last two or three days and then dissolve like strawberry Kool-Aid in cold water.

swan

And then something quite strange happened in early high school (Glendale was its name). I learned something very important about the physical maturation of girls. And it was more startling to me than the swelling of breasts and curvature of hips. Health classes in which we boys snickered throughout had forewarned me about the expected, and gloriously welcome feminine changes. The nasty and unexpected part was when all, or at least most of the ugly ducklings that I and most of my pals had cruelly teased, transformed into delicate and beautiful swans over the period of a year or two. Faces and bodies remodeled, rejigged, and reorganized themselves. Awkward features morphed like larvae into radiant butterflies. Beauty emerged where we boys least expected it and it was time for our reckoning.

My bridges were burned.

I paid the price for the evil I had unleashed in years gone by.

My earlier cruel deeds of teasing, mocking, and ridicule now came back to haunt me. My teenager hormones were swelling to a high-school crescendo. I wanted the attractive girls, both the cute ones from earlier days (who often didn’t seem as attractive as they once had) and the newly-minted swans with fresh appeal. I wanted them badly. In a savagely cruel twist, the same hormones that were responsible for pumping blood in enormous quantities to regions below my waist, were also triggering ugly, pus-filled facial eruptions that I couldn’t hide from.

My pre-adolescent sweet looks were tumbling into an abominable reversal and I was becoming the UGLY Duckling!

And maybe worse, the new swans weren’t teasing or heckling me as I had them earlier, they were merely ignoring me. SOME…ANY… attention would have been better than none at this point but I became invisible for the next 3 or 4 years of high school. WOE was me!

Shakespeare couldn’t have written a more heart-rending tragedy for an adolescent young man.

It wasn’t until Grade 12 that I finally began to emerge from my well-deserved visit to the penalty box. A new maturity and understanding of peoples’ dignity was developing. Any tease left in me became more sophisticated and gentle. My face, though still somewhat pimply, began to take on  more manly proportions and appearance. The old and new swans with whom I had grown to this stage, never really came around to the realization that I could be a keeper. My bridges had been truly burned.

But fortunately, brand-new swans blew into my realm who had never experienced my earlier, less comely stages. I was now an unknown entity with no history of cruel intentions or pock-marked face to recall. It was like starting kindergarten all over again, and I was older and a smidgen smarter this time.

Larry Grade 13 3

Me…A Grade 13 grad with just a few pimples and a new attitude…

Finally I was able to swim with the swans, of all types, again – but I wasn’t only graduating from academic high school. My education in life and people had now begun. Pretty swans still had their appeal, but there was a greater depth to relationships than just the beautiful plumage. The complexities and richness we encounter daily when we trace our lives by passing through others’ was beginning to settle in.

And here I am decades later, a whole lot wiser (in some ways!), yet still working daily to fashion poetic rhyme and reason of the people, the words, and the images from my past.

Dear Santa…or Sinterklaas…or Pere Noël…or Babbo Natale…

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Virgina Santa letter

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How are you and Mrs. Claus? Are you and the elves ready for another Christmas? This must be Christmas 551 coming up for you … am I close?

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This past weekend I pretended I was you…

I hope you don’t mind.

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I HOHOHope my belly laughs were as good as yours Santa…

I pulled on your special red suit and affixed a fluffy white beard and a big pretend tummy. I have to admit I felt a bit nervous and pressured going into the gig. “Now what are all of the reindeers’ names again? Blitzen and Tony Danza and Margaret the Vixen…” played over and over again in my head.

A swarm of cute little poppets rushed up to me and gazed at me with hope and adoration and expectation in their eyes. Children have pretty high expectations around you Santa and there is a monstrous sense of responsibility in representing you. Who wants to screw up the magic that is Santa Claus in childrens’ eyes? I’d hate to mess up and discover myself on your — or maybe worse, a bunch of children’s — naughty list.

You have one of the glory jobs of this entire world. It’s tough and the expectations are North-Pole high, but everyone, especially little tykes, love you. You can make it onto anyone’s party invitation list. Why, politicians, movie actors, rock stars, and famous writers have a lot of admirers. Tons of people love George Clooney, millions admired Mother Teresa, Oprah Winfrey is a huge icon, and outside of the USA just about everyone loves Barack Obama (Sorry to you Prime Minister Harper!). But by the same token, they ALL have their detractors and boo-bears.

Not YOU Santa!

There’s a continuous stream of static concerning the over-the-top commercialism and crassness of Christmas, yet again and again you stay above the fray and are left unscathed by any critics that hunt the scent of controversial blood in the frigid, winter air.

And unlike religious prophets and apostles, no one ever suggests that you are probably a woman, or Jewish, or black-skinned, or a socialist. You don’t have a crew of spin artists out there smoothing out the bumps and scrapes that are directed your way, and still you get great PR year-in year-out.

How do you do it?

Well, after walking in your boots (and beard) for an hour or two, I think I have some ideas as to why you consistently top the global popularity charts. I hope you don’t mind me sharing the reasons why you make it onto everyone’s “NICE” list:

  • You don’t over-expose yourself…and I don’t mean that in the dark movie-theatre creepy kind of way. You show up once a year for a couple of weeks, and then we don’t see or hear about you for another 11 months or so. We don’t see you in TV commercials, movies, magazine ads, and tabloids every week or two. I’m pretty certain I’ve seen your enormous untanned tummy on some Caribbean beaches in post-Christmas relaxation though…the “all-inclusive” unlimited beer you quaff keeps you rotund for your job, I’m sure!
  • You are EVERYMAN. You don’t take political or religious views that would polarize you to one side or another. Gay, straight…you don’t care. And even though you come on the day that represents Christianity’s holiest day, you stay separate and apart from the religious side of things. I never see you popping up in Nativity stable scenes along with the lambs and wise men with a HoHoHo, or lighting the Hanukkah menorah. You don’t broadcast a message to the world like the Queen or the Pope on Christmas Day…just a simple “Merry Christmas to All, and to all a Good Night” as you fly past our rooftops is your classic annual message. It works for you!
  • You are dignified and mysterious, but fun-loving (HO HO HO!) and gentle. I do have to say you have a bit of a potential image concern on the “Naughty and Nice List” side of things. But kids and parents seem to forgive you for this as you never REALLY ever put anyone onto the naughty side of the ledger. Please be careful here Santa, this could tarnish your image if you were seen to be too judgmental.
  • Unlike almost every group that is run or headed up by men that interact with children, you’ve NEVER EVER been suggested as a touchy-feely pedophilic monster. You’ve always been a gentleman and this gives us all hope in a world filled with too many tragic events. I admit that when I played you this weekend, I was pretty careful not to touch the wee ones TOO much, or insist that they sit on my lap. Both hands on view all of the time makes a safe Santa (and kids)!

Cover of "Miracle on 34th Street (Special...

  • You are the quintessential bearer of HOPE. Anything and everything are possible when we think about or talk to you Santa. You have powers that bring people of all stripes together. In Miracle on 34th Street, when Natalie Wood wants her Mommy to marry and make John Payne her Daddy and buy a house where they can live happily ever after, you set up the conditions that make the dream possible. We all want to believe that you are capable of making our wishes come true. And every year, just as night follows day, our hopes rest in our belief in, if not the true person that is Santa, at least in the belief that a magical spirit exists within us all to make our dreams reality.

Until this past Saturday, I don’t think I ever knew how really special and important you are Santa. After wearing your robes for just an hour or two, I now realize that a germ or two of Ebenezer Scrooge and the Grinch have lived inside me. It may take more than one attempt at living inside your world to kick Scrooge to the curb, but I feel like I’ve awakened anew on Christmas morning after being visited upon by the Ghosts of Past, Present and Future. And I think I’ve breathed in the wondrous feeling the Grinch experienced:

Well, in Whoville they say that the Grinch’s small heart grew THREE sizes that day.”

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Have a wonderful Christmas Santa, but go easy on the cookies…we need you around for a long time to come.

Your faithful elf…

christmas-scene-santa

I Should Have Been Born A Woman…

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Nora Ephron is responsible for the crush I used to have on actress Meg Ryan.

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when harry met sally restaurant            Meg ryan orgasm

I’ll have what she’s having.”

    When Harry Met Sally

I think it was Ryan’s cutesy little nose and her transparent fragility and vulnerability, not her ability to fake a great orgasm, that drew me in. God, she was as adorable as a fluffy little puppy! But it’s the death of Ephron earlier this year that reminded me that maybe I should have been born a woman…

Certainly I’ve got all the right junk down below for AMAZING manhood (I say modestly … TMI you say emphatically!). I could go on and on here but I’ll try to stay on point, OK?  I love to watch and play manly sports like hockey and football. I don’t think that I display effeminate characteristics in style of dress or mannerisms. I feel a STRONG attraction to women and NONE towards men.

But I find that many of my thoughts and opinions and interests roll into shore along currents that most of us might think of as feminine.

Men are supposed to have a passion for swearing, hunting and drinking lots of booze, while eschewing things like shopping, reading and gardening. Real men vote Conservative or Republican, not the Liberal or Democratic bearing that attracts my vote and those of the majority of women. Tough manly studs admire violent Action or Adventure movies and TV shows that star chunky behemoths like Chuck Norris and Sylvester Stallone who run and dodge bullets and explosions with the casualness of me picking up a latte (oh, and real men don’t drink lattes either!) at Starbucks. Men avoid genuine personal conversations that deal with emotions and relationships- I prefer to dive right into the nitty gritty of the heart.

And it’s in this realm of emotions and relationships that Ephron found her calling and strengths.

So… Who’s this Nora Ephron I’m talking about here? I’ll bet many more women than men could answer this question.

noraephron_merylstreep

Nora Ephron and Meryl Streep

Ephron was a fine American blog, book, and screenwriter, and director of what most would use the term “Chick Flicks”. Her tally includes movies like “When Harry Met Sally” “You’ve Got Mail”,”Sleepless in Seattle”, and “Julie and Julia”. Something else she was famous for was once being married (of three marriages in total) to Carl Bernstein, one of the Watergate-exposing journalists that resulted in President Richard Nixon’s resignation.

I’m going to really miss Ephron and the humour that she mined from human relationships. Because despite the drama and traumas that exist within any couple-type relationship, there is just a boatload of funny stuff that goes on, some intentional, and a whole lot accidental.

Who hasn’t had an argument with their significant other over something as trivial as the proper way to slice a tomato, or from which direction the toilet paper should roll (on top, or underneath), or whether that wagon-wheel coffee table should be ditched? Ephron could turn these sorts of simple things into movie hysterics. Perhaps because of her own life experiences she created characters who desperately wanted the enchantment and longing and harmony that makes us all idiots in the love domain.

wagon wheel when harry met sally

Most of us live lives similar to those of Ephron’s characters. Ordinary people going about our day-to-day existences. Searching for meaning, connection, and love in a busy and impersonal world that often passes us uncaring or uninterested on street corners and shopping malls and offices, or in today’s more-connected world, on Facebook or eHarmony.

Thoreau said, “Most people lead lives of quiet desperation, and go to their graves with the song still in their heart.” I don’t know if any of Ephron’s characters discovered the song in their heart, but they all seemed to live lives of quiet desperation and were searching for an escape route or at least a respite. More often than not, that search began and ended with a human connection.

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The overwhelming reality of most of humankind’s romantic relationships is a spellbinding launch of euphoria and then a harrowing finish that doesn’t truly end with “’til death do you part”. For most, the narrative pendulum swings between some inexplicable sense of ecstasy and grim anguish. Very few of us cherish the storyline that ends with hard feelings and tears. Ephron led us down sinuous romantic pathways, and despite the tears shed along the road, always had us leave the theatre with a sense of elation and hope in our hearts.

I don’t know the exact reasons why I have a more-feminine mindset. There’s probably some deep-rooted psychological undercurrent that could be hooked and brought to the lake-surface of my mind by years of analysis and a few tens of thousands of dollars. But then it could be just because my mother was the parent that took me to my hockey games and teacher interviews, or it might be that I was unselfishly housed and fed by my saintly sister while I went to high school and college for four years after my Mom died. Or…maybe I’m just a serendipitous genetic artifact, like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.

Anyway, I don’t lust after you anymore, new Meg Ryan  (sorry Meg, your plastic surgeon has turned you into someone I don’t recognize). But it’s because of women that attract me like you and Nora Ephron that, in the end, I’m really happy that I wasn’t born a woman…

I’m content to just think like one sometimes!

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Streep as Julia Child sings “YMCA” in JULIE & JULIA…