Friday, October 2, 2009

Note to Self: Cancel that Trip to Bangladesh....

In Bangladesh, a farmer who single-handedly killed 83,000 rats (yes, you read right) received a color television set from his nation as a reward. Maybe someone should give him a copy of Disney’s Ratatatouille, just for kicks.

Honestly, these types of stories illustrate just how blessed we are to live here in America. There may be 83,000 rats in Washington DC, but I bet most of them work for the government.

The abject poverty and lack of basic human resources in Third World countries are unimaginable to most Americans, even those who live in our forgotten Appalachian Mountain towns. America’s worst cities and poorest neighborhoods offer more opportunity than Third World countries could ever hope to have, even within the next half-century.

Of course, having opportunity in America doesn’t diminish the suffering of children in Camden or Detroit or Chicago or East Los Angeles (or any broken city) who’ve learned, by example, that drug-dealing is an acceptable livelihood and that they cannot rise above the violence and pain they witness every day. I mean, at least they have color televisions (just kidding).

God Bless America— even the rats in Washington. For even on its worst days, America is still the best country on earth.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Jingle Boo, Jingle Boo, Jingle All the Way ...$$$

Yay! It’s October, boys and girls, and you know what that means?

That’s right! In three short months, Santa will be here! Have you started your Christmas list? What’s that? You don’t even have your Halloween costume? Never fear, kiddies. You’ll find all kinds of super-heroes, ghouls and Grim Reapers, uh, just behind the Nativity scenes on aisle 12.

Whatever happened to basking in the glory of autumn?

Way back in the 1970’s, when I was just a lass, Halloween was given its just dues in the world of retailing. Candy corn and plastic pumpkins were on supermarket shelves October 1st, and we had the entire month to peruse the costumes and taste-test the chocolates or the carmel apples that Mom used to give out. The anticipation of the holiday was encouraged by ads in newspapers (remember those?) and was punctuated by the changing of seasons and the first falling leaves.

Today, in our fast-forward-gotta-see-it-touch-it-have-it-buy-it culture, big-box stores ply us with black cats and witchy chachkas just after we’ve had our first official barbeque. (Put down the flag and pick up the axe, please.) Frankly, I’m disgusted by it, but I know this insidious change in the way we live and shop has been building for decades. Because, unfortunately, “living” and “shopping” have become synonyms for the American public. Today’s economic meltdown had its roots in our buy-now-pay-later mentality, which, of course, was encouraged by putting Santa and his reindeer on display in a store near you before Labor Day.

Can’t we just take the holidays as they come? Can’t we just celebrate and revel in the changing of the leaves, the passing of time, and the signposts of the season?

Do we really need to buy ornaments for the tree before we’ve even bought the Thanksgiving turkey? The retailers think we should.

But I say, “Boo!!!”

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

And You Thought Oz Didn’t Exist… (or what we can learn from Chinese dwarves)

The Lollipop Kids are alive and well in southern China. You heard it here first. Chinese dwarves have set up their own village in Kunming to escape discrimination from “normal-sized” people in China.

The little people, all under 4 feet, 3 inches, now capitalize on their small stature by dressing like fairy tale characters, living in mushroom houses, and performing musical numbers for tourists. They are tired of being exploited by others, so they decided to exploit themselves. In America, we call that self-promotion, entrepreneurship, or turning lemons into lemonade.

We should all take a cue from these little people with the big ideas.

When you can’t really “fit in,” play the hand your dealt to best advantage—or create some new rules for yourself.

It’s the mantra of every caregiver who has figured out a way to be happy even though the burden of caring for a loved one with special needs or illness sucks the light from their eyes on bad days. It’s the winning strategy of people who’ve escaped dead-end jobs by daring to dream that they were on the cusp of something better, if only they just tried. And it’s the way that underdogs win pennants, Super Bowls, and American Idol.

Get out of your own way, the little people say. Find your own fairy tale costume. Oz awaits you.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Frustration - An Unlikely Inspiration

The name for this blog evolved from 45 vulgarity-laced minutes of searching for "good names" to bestow upon my latest creation.

I descended into madness shortly after discovering that the name, "Why bother," had been taken by someone named Mark who made no entries, but opined, "I just don't understand any of it. It just all seems so pointless." Props to you, Mark, for helping me birth my blog.

For the record, yes, I am crazy, but not any more than the average Joe (or Jane). If you've ever wondered why we are constantly reminded that life is not fair and why so many Walmart shoppers seem to have enormous butts — and have had these thoughts within seconds of each other — you are likely an "average-league crazy" like me. If you're looking to do something different with your life, and haven't been able to because of excuses, obligations, guilty pleasures, or watching every episode of Dancing with the Stars or The Biggest Loser with a bowl of ice cream on your lap, you may be just as crazy as most of America. And as equally frustrated.

Frustration will do good things for most people. When we're pushed to the edge, it often makes us reconsider what we want, what we need, and how the hell we can get it. This blog is a start. Hope you'll keep reading as we journey through the land of thoughtful, insightful procrastination together.