Archive for category: Idiosyncratic Celebrations

Passover: Oy, You’ll Get Such a Headache!

19 Apr 2008
April 19, 2008
Charlton Heston in Ten Commandments

Let My People Go (or you’ll get the biggest headache)!

When we were invited to a Passover Sedar this year my children needed to be reminded what it was all about (we don’t get invited to a sedar too often). My wife, trying to make it enticing wanted to tell them about the search for the afikomen, the traditional game of hiding of the matzah (ostensibly to keep the children engaged during the pre-dinner service). But in doing so my loving shiksa wife declared: “Girls you’ll get to hunt for the ibuprofen!”

Yes, as a child I remember when I thought the long Pesach Sedar was a headache. Well put my dear. but hopefully not this year.

The Bloggies

08 Jan 2008
January 8, 2008

Honor. Prestige. Wealth. These are some of the things that a Bloggie won’t bring you. But that won’t stop the Web from voting, because this is the annual non-profit competition that determines which blogs are the best of the best. Get ready to find out who the 2008 Weblog Awards are going to.

Who could forget this tribute on the fifth anniversary of Life Outtacontext two years ago. You say you never saw it?! (Click on image to start the movie. Quicktime 4.5 MB).

It’s awards season: the Oscars, the Grammys, the Golden Globes. But, what with the writers strike and the Globes show cancelled how will we get our fill of ego awards? Coming to the rescue: the Bloggies. What? You don’t keep tabs on Web awards?

I’m afraid my film chef-d’oeuvre is still on the editing room floor and won’t be ready for Academy Award consideration this year. Yes, of course it’s disappointing. L’année prochaine. Perhaps next year. In the meantime (and so as not to disappoint the tens upon tens of my fans) I would be honored to substitute that nomination for another: the 2008 Bloggies.

Writing on the oddities of late twentieth and early twenty-first century life for the past seven years –what would modern life be like without the antics of The Theatre of the Barely Socially Acceptable?– Life Outtacontext seems to have fallen through a few award cracks. Well, ok, all of the Web award cracks. But it’s a new year and with it I’ve embraced a new strategy: shameless self-promotion. I do what I must.

The pitch: consider nominating Life Outtacontext for a Bloggie. Some of my favorite categories: “Most Humorous Weblog,” “Best Writing of a Weblog,” “Best-Designed Weblog,” and my personal choice, “Best-Kept Secret Weblog (after all, after seven years Life Outtacontext appears to be quite the well-kept secret).

To cast your ballot you must nominate three separate blogs in any number of categories. So, while you’re at it, consider writing in Eye Level, my other blog baby, in the “Best Art or Craft Weblog.” Nominations close this Friday.

Psst, I’ll be sure to mention you in my acceptance speech.

Believing in Santa One More Year

23 Dec 2007
December 23, 2007

You might remember we dodged a bullet a few weeks ago over the Tooth Fairy. But the big question remains: does our youngest still believe in Santa?

Last week I got a voicemail from my wife: “I just thought you should know, on the way to school today your daughter announced she no longer believes in Santa Claus.” Well, I thought, it’s over and it seemed so easy. For the rest of the afternoon the weight of my bureaucratic day job seemed so light.

At dinner that night I angled for the confirmation. “So, mom told me you no longer believe in Santa.” “Let me get this straight,” she replied. YOU’RE the one who’s been eating the cookies I left for him?”

I hesitated. This was it. The power to end “it” had been handed to me and I could go either way. Time slowed to a crawl as I weighed our destiny. I could prolong her childhood dream or dash it and move her that much closer to her next life stage: teenage angst. No parental class or book could ever prepared me for this. I was on my own.

With a sigh of relief I admitted that, yes, I was the one eating her cookies all these years. “But what about those notes? she asked. “Me too,” I replied. I grabbed a piece of paper and a pencil. “See how I can change my handwriting?” I looked at her as she processed this new information.

But without giving her a chance to react her older sister chimed in: “Let’s do an experiment. This year don’t eat the cookies and let’s see what happens.” “Yeah,” my youngest said. “Let’s see what happens.”

“But I thought you told mom you didn’t believe in Santa anymore.” No, I said I didn’t believe in those store Santas anymore. They’re creepy.” I looked at my wife, her covert expression telling me I had indeed received quality intel from her.

My daughter is hanging on with dear life to that fantasy just a little bit longer. But at least we don’t have to make a last minute trip to the mall to find one of those jolly old (and creepy) store Santas.

Giving Thanks for the Ride

22 Nov 2007
November 22, 2007
riding my bike

Thanks for the ride!

Thanksgiving: a uniquely American holiday. We’re supposed to stop what we’re doing long enough to remember and appreciate the good things and good people in our lives. No multitasking allowed, unless it’s basting a turkey and making a pumpkin pie at the same time.

Sometimes it’s hard to be thankful for the big picture items: our good health and our good families. They’re just “there” as they should be, as we want them to be forever. Giving thanks for these parts of our lives should be a year round endeavor if we can stop just long enough year round.

Today, I’m getting the chance to focus on a small thing. The weather in DC this Thanksgiving is stellar. It’s in the 70s! Too late for Indian Summer, it’s an anomaly. And like rain, the leaves are falling with the warm breeze. By now I have usually completed my annual leaf-gathering rituals and am giving thanks for that on this day (while doctoring my rake-induced sore arms and blisters). But this year last summer’s drought has delayed their fall. Our fall.

It’s so warm I’ve decided to take a bike ride. I haven’t ridden my bike on Thanksgiving since I lived in L.A. People are walking and running in their shorts. Everyone is in a good mood. And it seems the grounded leaves have left a path just for me to follow. I could live with more of this but the forecast is for falling temperatures, down into the 40s by this afternoon. Weather is so transitory around here. Growing up in Southern California, we just assumed the weather would be moderate day-to-day and so we forgot to be thankful for these perfect moments.

I pull over on the bike trail to take a deep breath. It’s a musty, woodsy smell the cold weather usually tries to hide. Today I’m thankful for the warmth and the chance to take advantage of it. But with the realization this blissful state is so temporary I take the deepest breath I can muster. The heat of the sun on my face, my autumnal commune with nature will have to last me till next spring. And I will need to remember this moment for a long, long time.

Because I Could

01 Aug 2007
August 1, 2007
My iPhone at Half Dome

My iPhone and me at Yosemite’s Half Dome. What would Samuel Morse have thought? “What hath God wrought?” John Muir would probably have agreed. My email message documenting this event: “We are blissful at this altitude.”

Just returned from a little road trip with the family (more on that later). Starting in Las Vegas we drove through Yosemite, then on to the Garlic Festival in Gilroy and finally to San Fran for a wedding. Of course, this was the maiden voyage for my iPhone and I was eager to see just where I could use it.

The highlight of the trip was taking a hike to the base of Half Dome in Yosemite. And lo and behold, AT&T was there! Just because I could, I had to send an email to my fellow workmates in our Information Technology office from Yosemite Valley documenting this technological first.

That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

On Becoming “That Old”

20 Jul 2007
July 20, 2007

I’ve been outted. At our monthly all-staff meeting the other day, before attending to the business at hand, I was asked to stand. It was my birthday and I found myself the center of attention. Suddenly, in that way-too-bright spotlight someone asked how old I was.

Instinctively, I dodged the question with this quick retort: “Well, my children think I’m 45.” The group laughed and finally, I fessed up: I was 58. I said it proudly as only a card-carrying AARP member should. A low-level gasp permeated the room, finished with a touch of polite applause. My years of workplace subterfuge had finally come to an end.

Every year I am faced with the same dilemma: I want to look forward to celebrating my birthday just so: perfect gifts and the perfect adoration from family and a few close friends, just like I did when I was seven. Remember when the month leading up to your special day was exciting? The night before you counted down the hours to your birthday party. Okay, I’ve matured just a bit and like to give a little back each year.

But as I inch ever closer to gizzerhood, this tick in time doesn’t fit me as well as it used to. Like the zillions who have come before me I will reply when asked how it feels to be a year older: “I don’t feel any different.” And like my predecessors I will ask myself: “How did I get to be so old?” I fingered the gold watch they would give me on retirement.

Gifts from my coworkers trickled in throughout the rest of the day; people stopped me in the halls to wish me a Happy Birthday and some stopped by my cubicle to marvel at how well preserved I was. More than once I heard “I am shocked, totally shocked you are THAT OLD.”

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