Auditory Illusions     

Photo Auditory Illusion

She was a well-dressed, middle age woman and when she smiled and leaned in to speak to me, I was taken off guard. “…I like your boobs…” she said. Never wanting to appear impolite, I remember responding with a very faint “…Thank you…” It wasn’t until the conversation continued that I realized she had actually said “…I like your boots…”

This has happened to me more than once. In grammar school, I proudly sang the national anthem at the top of my lungs each morning. I was absolutely crushed to hear that Josė, who I had imagined to be a new U.S. citizen, was really not being sung to at all. I still like my words better: “…Josė, does that star-spangled banner yet wave…”

While scientists label it an auditory illusion (a sound trick similar to an optical illusion), I’m pretty sure it’s just the comedic side of my brain having a little fun at my expense. Studies have actually shown that the brain does in fact have a funny bone. It’s located near the right frontal lobe just above the right eye. I instead picture hundreds of miniature comedians impatiently awaiting their turn to audition and deliver one liners.

Years ago, when Mr. Wiz* and I were discussing our wedding, we were in a quandary as to what to do. Having both been married before and now owning a business together, the guest list was increasing with each mention of the subject. A leisurely Sunday brunch at our favorite restaurant seemed like a good time to broach the subject. Our quick banter soon became heated. When his fruit appetizer appeared, it gave him the idea to try and diffuse the situation by uttering that old pun. “…Cantaloupe? … he said, grinning.

What he did not know at the time, was that I was probably one of the few people to not be in on that joke. I understood him to say “…Can’t elope….” After that, Mr. Wiz says all he can remember is me jumping up, kissing him and thanking him for wanting a wedding. He was still dazed, as the event took on a life of its own and wedding plans were in full swing by that afternoon.

Neurologically speaking, my system becomes nervous at the thought of those sound waves traveling from my ear canal to my ear drum. I only hope that my concentration levels are at a heightened state, so that those vibrations transmitted to my brain become words that I can live by or laugh at.

*Who’s who? See “Cast of Characters” on the “About” page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mom Mental Telepathy

Photo Mom Mental TelepathyAs part of my polka dot collection, (which is unfortunately quite meager due to my lack of success in polka dot item location tactics), I have a photo of Big A* in a polka dot frame. Every morning, all my advice comes spilling out to the photo of his smiling face with no interruptions; a mother’s dream. I wouldn’t dare share this with him directly. These are the things that would make for less mother/son phone calls. I am content to utilize mom mental telepathy.

Mr. Wiz* is my witness. Time after time, he has overheard my mother/frame conversations and then was stunned when a conversation with Big A revealed my thoughts/suggestions almost verbatim. I wonder if Mr. Wiz ever fears that he will awake one morning to see the kitchen crowded with smiling photos of him, along with family and friends, all framed in dots of polka, unaware that they will be telepathically transported to my realm.

There’s no need to worry. As mothers well know, it’s mainly our children that we feel the need to guide, protect and nurture, whether they want it or need it. Sure, you might get away with a few quick sprays of holy water as they exit your home, but they’ll catch on sooner or later. Telepathy offers you the ability to dial in at any time, speak your peace, then hang up with the same speed that you would when a telemarketer calls.

Studies have proven that you can exercise your telepathic ability. Have you ever thought of someone and then been surprised that they’ve suddenly contacted you? Has a premonition come true more than once? When I was in high school, I would telepathically zero in on my boyfriend. The next day, he would say how he couldn’t get me out of his mind and kept driving by my house, wondering where I was. In this particular case, I used advanced telepathy. By intermingling it with an observation and parking my car around the corner, I was able to create havoc in my boyfriend’s brain (caution: due to the brain cell circuitry of a teenage boy, proper training is recommended before embarking on this course of action).

I’ve passed my practice on to a few moms lately and they have all thanked me for such a noninvasive way to be invasive. Mom mental telepathy is the new helicopter parent without the blades. It’s a voodoo doll without the “voo” and the doll. It’s just a way to help persuade your child to “doo.” So, use your powers wisely, use them for good and above all else; be careful not to let your mom in on it.

*Who’s who? See “Cast of Characters” on the “About” page.

Postscript:
Contrary to recent rumors, I do not hold a doctorate in the field of polka dotology. However, I do independent research in my spare time on the subject and am intrigued by its history. According to Wikipedia, the dot part comes from the Old English word “dott”, which means speck. It’s the polka that is a mystery to historians. Did it come from the dance craze that took Europe by storm in the 1800s? Did polka dancers wear dotted costumes?  No one can say for sure and the polka dot continues to baffle us as it creates its special spot in history.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sibling Revelry       

Photo Sibling Revelry

No one seemed to know why so much time had gone by since we were all together, but it didn’t matter. We were here, right now and from the first hugs, it seemed as if we just took up where we had left off. There’s a magic in that; it’s that fast-forward gear to life that glides right over the past with all its crevices and back alleys and propels you to the clear, open vistas of the present moment.

Fun loving matriarch that she is, it was JC* that brought us together. It’s hard not to be all in when you are invited to the warmth of Austin, Texas in March. This was not her first rodeo, but it would be her guests’ initial experience attending one. Everyone was urged to bring their inner cowboy and cowgirl and dress for the occasion.

There would be seven of us: my New York sister and her son (note to self: remember that inviting a younger person means smooth sailing with any possible technology questions and glitches), my brother and his wife (law, shmaw; a sister-in-law is just like a sister), JC, Mr. Wiz* and me. With JC doing the planning, Mr. Wiz doing the driving in the seven-passenger car we would rent and me, all too eager to get started on the spreadsheet that would document and guide us through each day’s plans, there was no doubt that a good time would be had by all.

The days went by much too quickly. Funny stories from childhoods past intermingled with present day discussions of our lives. We learned that we were all foodies, were very health conscious, worked hard to be physically fit and still had no concept of potlucks nor had any inclination to participate in one (not a thing in and around New York City where we grew up).

My sister brought a special guest and with much fanfare introduced Zippy the monkey. A popular stuffed animal at the time, we could not believe she still had him after all those years. His new clothes (complete with a cowboy hat just for the occasion) helped to hide his shopworn look. We agreed it was fortunate that he could not talk or many a childhood faux pas would have been unleashed.

Once the floodgates opened, we all shared our favorite stories about my dad. After passing away so many years ago, it was testament to our love and devotion to him that he would still be so admired and thought of daily. What better tribute than that?

Though we agreed that we don’t really look alike, we decided that my sister resembled my dad and we saw his strong personality in her (we laughed to think that she was my dad in a dress). Though my brother looked more like our grandfather, he had that strength and determination inherited from our dad. I looked more like JC, but was a composite of both parents, personality wise.

When it was time to say goodbye, it really didn’t feel like a farewell. It seemed as if we were just getting started, restarted and it was one of the happiest days of my life. We instinctively held hands for just a minute and that old feeling came back and overwhelmed me.

The sibling connection is a strong one. It can withstand anything that confronts it. It’s a private club with lifelong membership. It’s a connectedness to the past, present and the future. It’s a feeling that, wherever you go, whatever you do, there is a fan club out there with your name on it.

In time, we plan to include our children in our get-togethers and reintroduce them to the family that almost got away, but was saved by a spirited, loving mother, a rodeo and the strong bond that time could not destroy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Who’s who? See “Cast of Characters” on the “About” page.

 

Thanks Austin, for Inviting me to South by Southwest

Photo SXSW

I still can’t believe that NASA forgot to mention to me that this space telescope would be at the 2017 SXSW.

How can we live in Austin and not experience South by Southwest? I fall asleep doing some positive thinking as to how that might happen. The very next morning, a new pal texts me with a link to free events and says to be sure not to miss them!

South by Southwest (SXSW) is a yearly event held every March in Austin, Texas. It is known for its music and film festivals and conferences that focus on what’s next in music, film, culture and technology. People travel here from all-around the world and proudly wear the badges around their neck that they have paid anywhere from $825 to $1250 for.

As if the city isn’t already alive on any given day, during SXSW the excitement elevates. Pop-up events are held all over the city, then gone the next day, only to appear at a new location. Music is playing everywhere, there is a great vibe on the streets and you never know what experience awaits you around each corner.

JC* is always up for an adventure, so Mr. Wiz* and I invite her along. We are glad we get an early start because there is a lot out there for us to explore:

  • A young man dressed in an authentic sailing outfit from 1845 invites us to view a premiere of the new AMC show The Terror. As we enter the shipping container and seat ourselves in a boat, I am wondering what good could come from a ship called the HMS Terror.
    All of a sudden, it’s dark and the screens all-around us feature excerpts of the thrilling story of a British Royal Naval expedition in search of the Northwest Passage. If the sounds and sights don’t make us feel as if we are really there, the cold air blowing and the snow falling down on us really does!
  • Feeling like we are in need of a respite, we opt to visit the Yonomi Townhouse next. There is nothing like touring a smart home and learning about all the gadgets that can make our lives easier or just more bizarre (a light show in your living room?!) after visiting their complimentary open bar.
  • The sounds of a DJ lead us to our next stop. We are invited to have a MAC makeup artist touch us up, then head onto lavish photo sets decorated like a private jet and a yacht and told to pose as if we are high-rolling imposters, just like the new Bravo show The Imposters.

We can’t stop now; we’re feeling very trendy, so we’re off to the Wellness Expo:

  • I won’t lie to you, I am very fussy about food and politely decline anything that is being offered. Touted as scientifically modulated, energy healing, fueling body, mind and spirit and clean eating, I wonder why the samples are all mostly khaki green in color.
  • Though we could not convince Mr. Wiz* to enter the PeaceBox with us, JC and I did share the experience. We first choose from one of eight temporary tattoos called “Mindful Marks.” These are placed on us (arm or hand) as a reminder of our meditation intention. I must say, it really brought out the latent rebellious streak in me. I wore it proudly, missed it when it washed away a few days later and wondered deep down inside if I actually might be a candidate for a tattoo.
    Oy vey, not another shipping container! This time though, we are promised that this one is actually a studio that teaches meditation and mindfulness techniques. Once the headphones are placed on our ears, we close our eyes and relax. After 15 minutes, we rejoin the world feeling totally renewed.
  • We finish the day with a visit to Bulletproof, a cutting-edge food and beverage company. The oxygen bar is a new experience. It is said to remove toxins from the body and strengthen the immune system. If nothing else, it makes me feel energized and invigorated, which I now blame for my decision to try the Vibe Plate.
    Signing the release should have been the hint that I needed that this was not your grandmother’s way to increase blood flow. The last thing I hear as I step on to a large square of metal is “…If you experience dizziness, just bend your knees…” The on button is triggered and it activates “my natural reflexive response to vibrations 25 to 50 times per second.” Knees bent, I signal for an immediate stop to “the engagement of my muscles in a consistent and controlled manner.”

I can only attribute my heightened state of light headedness for accepting the sample of coffee with butter that is handed to me next. I don’t even drink coffee and am not sure that anyone has the right to drink butter, so I’m still perplexed as to how it all happened.

Deciding it best to call it a day and end our SXSW adventure, I stroll away with visions of the new edgier version of myself dancing in my still woozy head. It is the shouts from Mr. Wiz and JC that bring me back to reality. And remind me that I am walking the wrong way home.

 

*Who’s who? See “Cast of Characters” on the “About” page.

 

 

 

Ex; Why?

Photo Ex Why

It was one of those ladies room encounters that was not unusual. We were washing our hands at the same time and she said “…I like your haircut…” “…Thanks, I like your boots…” I replied. We both smiled, wished each other a nice evening and she exited.

Mr. Wiz* was waiting for me outside. His face was ashen, as if he had seen a ghost. “…The woman that just exited the ladies room was my ex-wife; haven’t seen her for years…” Theirs was a college marriage that, according to Mr. Wiz, only lasted a few minutes. In actuality, it ended two years after it began. Before we knew it, she had blended into the crowd and was gone.

That chance encounter brought back a flood of memories and for the next couple of days, we both shared stories of our past marriages; silly stories, funny anecdotes, hopeful beginnings, sad endings. That led us to one of our favorite discussions. We loved to tell each other our version of our first meeting and how our relationship developed.

Curiosity got the best of us. Mr. Wiz decided to Google his first wife. When no information came up, he put it behind him and moved on. That prompted me to also give it a try, but what I saw stopped me in my tracks.

It was an obituary. I stared at it for a long time, thinking it could not be the right person, but then I recognized the names of his deceased parents. It was sudden; a heart attack. I read it over and over again in disbelief. In all the time that had gone by, I had forgotten his middle name, forgotten his new wife’s name, forgotten he had two daughters.

For the next couple of days, it was all I thought about. Did he have a happy life? Was he kinder to his second wife than he was to me? What had he looked like later in life? I thought about my ex-family: an ex- mother-in-law, an ex- dog and an ex-grandfather (his dad’s father) who was always a favorite of mine. To this day, each time I look for a recipe in the basket he gave me all those years ago, I think about him.

I wondered why a former spouse and everything that goes with them is called an “ex”? I realize that it’s a past relationship, but the prefix denotes such finality. For many, a divorce with children is just a new way of family life. When we move, it’s not our ex-home. When we change careers, we don’t usually refer to our old job as our ex-job. How about substituting the word “former”? All our life experiences need to stand up and be counted, so that they can be blended in that big cocktail shaker of life and poured out into the world, making us the person we are right now.

I remembered that, as the marriage to my high school sweetheart was sadly coming to an end, only one of the many friends we had ever spoke to me again. That forced me to wipe the slate clean and kick-start my life all over again. I thought about the last thing he ever said to me: “…Next time, I’ll find someone ordinary…” Left-handed compliment that it was, it actually gave me a newfound confidence.

I looked up, told him that I forgave him and hoped he had taken advantage of the do-over he was offered; I know I had made the best of mine. Then, as we do when we come to the last page of a book, I closed that chapter of my life and tucked it away, not willing to reread it over and over again, but not willing to tear out any of the pages either.

 

*Who’s who? See “Cast of Characters” on the “About” page.

 

The Dos and Don’ts of a To-Don’t List

Photo To Dont List

Creative example of a single mom’s to-do list

It was the perfect hostess gift; an artfully designed to-do list. If you want to make me smile, present me paper in any form; a pad, a journal, a notebook. There is something about a blank page that is so enticing. It invites me into myself. There, in my own quiet world of thoughts and emotions, I find joy by intermingling words into just the right form of personal expression.

It will probably come as no surprise that my Mondays always start out with a well-crafted to-do list. Under the headings of “Call,” “Do” and “Go,” are the tasks that I will look forward to checking off as they are accomplished. No more than a week’s worth of undertakings are addressed and can easily be accomplished. There is always a master list lurking in the background which provides material for the future, to be allocated into manageable segments.

So, it was with reckless abandon that I considered thinking outside the box and creating a to- don’t list. This single list would provide a handy way to remember all those things that I continually promise myself not to do and could be updated as needed. It would prompt me to keep close those comments and ideas from others that had sparked such enthusiasm in me the first time I heard them. A brief peek would keep me on the right path, progressing forward:

  • Don’t look back
  • Don’t procrastinate; just do it (thanks, Nike)
  • Don’t overthink
  • Participate, don’t anticipate (sage words from a new friend)
  • Don’t waste time
  • Don’t let perfection control me
  • Don’t stop learning
  • Don’t let expectations define me
  • Don’t put my head up when swallowing pills (kudos to Kim for that one)

By year’s end, I may be subjected to a few extra paper cuts, but I am content with what I have accomplished. What’s on your to-don’t list?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lindita Light

Photo Lindita Light

I don’t even drink diet soda, so I was surprised that it would provide me with so much inspiration.

I am very aware that I have a tendency to go overboard. In every aspect of my life, I am able to overwhelm myself by mixing perfectionism with determination, then adding a dash of rumination. I can ruminate the heck out of any situation, replaying and rehashing every aspect of the issue at hand. The black sheep of the problem-solving family, rumination only serves to overcomplicate matters and leave a bad taste in your mouth.

It was time for me to take it down a notch and become a lean, mean, less minutiae-oriented machine. I would try to create a lighter version of myself; same sweetness and effervescence, but tastefully more carefree. I giggled to myself and called the project “Lindita Light”; “Lindita” after the name that my Spanish grandmother called me (adding ‘ita” after a name indicates affection) and “light” after soda performing with a sugar stand in.

So, it was with great confidence that I began my daily practice of paying more attention to becoming a lighter version of myself. I found that there was no magic potion, no elixir that would instantly transform me. On the contrary, it was a day-to-day struggle to remain steadfast to the promise that I had made myself.

Little by little, I seem to be making progress. Now, when I become transfixed on a subject, I am able to distract myself by doing something that requires focus. I tell myself that I can be determined and the best I can be without overdoing it. Though, at first, it was hard to swallow that I might be a bit of a micromanager, I work at holding my tongue and try not to impart my opinions to anyone at any time, whether they want them or not.

In the midst of my undertaking and while researching for this post, I stumbled onto something that inspired me to persist. In the early 1900s, a carbonated beverage called “Moxie” was trademarked and was the first mass produced soft drink in the United States. Coincidence or a sign to continue to drink in all I can, in order to become the best me I can be?