Tuesday, December 27, 2011

To Write a Classic

Over the years, (oh God I’m actually old enough to say ‘over the years'), I’ve written about the movie IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, don’t worry this is not a belated Christmas post. Anyway, that movie has been in my mind because of the season so I thought I’d write about it again because for me, many years ago, watching it was life changing. Whether you think Capra’s flick is over the top and sentimental means little because the core of the movie, that each one of us has worth and impact on others, is eye opening.

I remember the moment in my life, almost 1am, watching the movie by myself, decades ago, when the scene, Clarence takes George to the graveyard and shows him his brother Harry’s grave.

“My brother saved 2000 men on that transport,” George shouts at Clarence.
“Every man on that transport died because you weren’t there to save Harry,” Clarence shouts back.

I literally gasped because of the power behind the meaning. Turn left, turn right, pull someone back up on the curb as a semi speeds by, hit the brakes instead of running the red light as a schoolbus full of kids crosses the intersection, or save your nine year old brother from drowning; you just might save thousands.

It’s hard to imagine the impact we have on others. For writers we sometimes are able, through feedback and comments from readers, realize the impact of our words, because someone tells us, “What you wrote changed my life.”

I had someone tell me that once, it involved a father and a son and a reconciliation spurred by something I wrote. Words written with no more thought than, it’s suited the essay and I knew it would be published, changed those men and how they related to each other. I’m proud of that, I mean, I’m really proud of that.

A few years back one of my pieces was published on Christmas Day and soon after, I heard from friends who said their priest read from it during mass. A PRIEST and I’m not even catholic. I thought about all those sleepy people sitting in their pews aching for the perfect Christmas words to set right, or enhance their lives, and then the priest reads my words. WOW. Actually most of the folks were probably hoping for the mass to be done so they could go back home and doze on the couch.

I know, as should every writer, that our words have power. So…after I watched the movie, again this year, I thought about attempting to write something as important as IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. That story is based on the short story, THE GREATEST GIFT, written by Philip Van Doren Stern, which last year, I found and read. Needless to say, but I will anyway, I liked the movie better.

To write something as moving and as powerful seems like an impossible task but I am going to try. I have come up with an idea and have started the project. I am writing what I want to read, what I wish someone had already written, because at one time in my life I needed someone to say the words I'm writing, to me. I have lived what I am writing about; it changed my life, and my perspective on it might just help alter someone else’s.

Once the story is finished I am wondering where to gently place it. For that, I wait. When the time comes I will know.

For George, his story illustrates how the simplest of acts has profound meaning. In my story, believing in the divinely-absurd creates a path through unfathomable loss.

Happy New Year to all. May we all find meaning in our actions.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Query Quick Pick

Okay, so I purchase a lottery ticket, ‘quick pick’ of course. I figure, let the computer do the deed. If I pick the numbers, no way would the balls get sucked up into the slot in my favor, right?

So I walk away from the store, dreaming of what I would do with my winnings. Would it change my life? Maybe, if the winnings were big enough, sure. So I go on my way with the glimmer of financial success percolating to the surface every now and then, giving me a sense that everything will be alright…not if, but when I win.
That’s the part about lottery tickets that’s so nice. The anticipation that maybe life will get a little more comfortable, that we could relax and not have to work so hard.

The anticipation is what I live for because the outcome of being the winner is so far off, I am convinced all I have is the dream, but wait.
I do have some control, I can change my numbers, I can stack the deck because I keep on, keeping on. (If you can call two bucks a week keeping on.)

So I got to thinking, playing the lottery is like querying but with more control because I get to pick the 'write' numbers.
Yeah, I love the lottery...of words.

Hey, anybody got a dollar I can borrow?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Retail Rant Day Two

My retail rant continues.
Here’s a question for you…are you one of the patrons who might spend over a hundred dollars on non-essential goods and then when asked to donate one-dollar to a charity, you answer no?
“I’ve already donated,” they say. Oh really, so you donated a dollar and you can’t donate another, which feeds families or helps fight cancer. After purchasing an end table, a chair, three towels and bath salts you can’t come up with less than one-tenth of one percent for charity?
Everybody is collecting for charity this time of year and yes many are generous but the ones which act as if giving a buck is tantamount to organ donation ticks me off.
That table they bought, the chair, towels and bath salts…bad karma I say. If you buy and don’t donate, bad karma will follow your purchase.
So how about the customer buying a necessity like food, should they give? Well, if you’re buying diapers, milk, bread, hamburger helper, condoms and toilet paper, I’m thinking maybe you can’t actually afford to give more than once, but if your cart is loaded with four bags of chips, three bottles of soda, two magazines, and grapes at $3.99 a pound than shoot the partridge in the pear tree and donate a buck.
And the bitch of it all…any of us, from Mercedes drivers to Cruise goers, any of us could have the tables turned and we’re left standing at the door of the Food Bank. Think about that. Drop some corn flakes in the food donation box today, it’ll make you feel better and the karma in your own cart won’t give you indigestion, it will make you glow.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Retail Rant

Waving a roll of zebra wrapping paper over her head, as if it were a Starwars Light-sword, the well-coiffed matron in hot pink and lime green spoke with authority.
“I need more than one roll of this God-damned paper. What do you expect me to do with only one roll? Someone find me another one…now.”
Welcome to where I work, ‘retail-hell’.
On the verge of telling Ms. I-have-nothing-else-to-worry-about-but-paper what she could do with her one roll of God-awful-ugly Christmas wrap I decided to go back to my department and make pretty with the dishes. That’s what I do, make pretty, with anything that has to do with table-top and kitchen.
I used to like my job but not anymore…something changed this year.
The American buying public has become demanding, arrogant, rude and above all, they are slobs. I watch as they destroy packaging, man-handle the merchandise and then purchase an unopened pristine box of whatever they cannot live without.
My department has a large display of boxed glasses. Every Monday morning one of my first tasks is to recover that area. Wine glasses are lined up on the shelves, removed from their boxes and compared. The customers do not put back what they take out. Cleaning up after customers is part of my job but I can’t help but think, that these adults were not taught to clean up after themselves, or they are just plain lazy. I bet they don’t make their beds and their underwear is left in a circle on the bathroom floor where they step out of them. (I found a pair of clean white granny panties on the floor in the cookware aisle once.) Their kitchen sinks are full of dishes too. I shudder to think when the last time was they changed their sheets.
I used to like the public; I don’t anymore probably because I’ve been in retail too long and because this economy’s spenders take way to seriously, image over practability.
Where I work there is no recession.
By the cart load folks are purchasing that which is about what looks good, and impresses, because where I work not a damn thing is needed. The 99% are camping out trying to make a statement, unemployment is at an all-time high, people are living in cars, children are going to bed hungry and we are at war, but where I work the well-coiffed matron does not have to walk around with a roll of zebra wrapping paper up her ass because a dedicated employee, who dismisses being treated like shit because she needs her job, found a second one.
Just one more satisfied customer. Ain’t retail at holiday time grand?
(It took me two years to realize that the granny underpants in the cookware aisle must have been stuck inside a ladies slacks from the dryer because how else could someone drop their drawers and walk away commando. This enlightenment came directly after I removed a sock from inside my pants leg on the way to work one morning.)