Tag Archives: postaweek2011

You Can’t Take it with You

I love idioms—especially when kids interpret them in the most literal sense imaginable. Needless to say, I am thoroughly (and often shamelessly) entertained by the manner in which my children assign meaning to this or that age-old expression. So as a matter of course, I inject said blurbages into as many conversations as humanly possible. Case in point, not long ago I asked one of my nine-year-old charges to take a stab at the intended meaning of the phrase, “You can’t take it with you.” Of course, having recently experienced the insanity that is airport security she summed it up thusly: “It’s like this, Mom. If you have an elephant and you want to get on an airplane…someone’s definitely going to say, ‘You can’t take it with you.’” She then added with her patented macabre flair, “Or, if your head falls off and rolls away, you can’t take it with you.”

Feeling at once amused and defeated as the Explainer-of-All-Things-Inexplicable, I tried to remember that the smallish beings in question can be painfully loyal to words. But like a fool, I broached the subject yet again, attempting to make clear the muddied waters. “No, no, no. It means that we should enjoy life, enjoy what we have and stop worrying about not having enough money, because when we die, we can’t take it with us anyway. It’s like spending the whole day at the beach, building the most amazing sandcastle you’ve ever imagined—digging moats, carving tunnels and gathering all sorts of twigs and shells and clumps of seaweed to make it really special. And it’s terrific fun—this sandcastle-y stuff. Then it’s time to go and we have to leave it there, knowing that the tide will later wash it into the sea no matter how much we love it.”

For my efforts, I received nothing but a blank stare and a shrug of the shoulders—as if I had tried to simplify for her the theory of relativity. Apparently, the merit of idioms having any sort of “deeper meaning” was completely lost on her. So I gave up, resigning myself to the notion that some things are impossible to convey to those gleefully immersed in a world of literalness.

But it got me thinking—about the basic premise of the idiom itself. Money, power and worldly possessions will be of no use in Heaven. In a lot of circles, that’s pretty much a given. And aside from the obvious longing to “take with me” the people and pets I have loved in my lifetime, I really shouldn’t concern myself with other wants or desires. But I find such a concept wholly inconceivable. Intolerable almost. Quite frankly, there is stuff (for lack of a better term) that I can’t imagine leaving behind.

Like my refrigerator. Not its contents so much, but its surface—the one that is entirely blanketed with favorite photos, prized artwork and treasured keepsakes that chronicle our life together as a family. Seemingly every square inch represents a tiny window through which an unforgettable slice of time can be viewed. For all intents and purposes, it is a giant mosaic that depicts in glorious detail all that is meaningful and memorable to me—serving as a daily reminder that life has been good. I have trouble envisioning being separated from such a wondrous thing.

Nor am I fond of the idea of parting with my iPod. Or my beloved camera. Or my inordinately addictive cell phone—not that I anticipate feeling the need to call or text anyone, but because I’m quite certain I will long to listen to the voicemail messages contained within. Like the pictures, they are moments frozen in time, a bundle of words that carry special meaning for me.

Equally precious is my work space—not because of the vast array of self-absorbed writings stored on any computer there or the siren song of the Blogosphere, but because of the sea of photos, the abundance of heartfelt notes and the ever-expanding mass of rocks and drawings my kids have insisted I display in the vicinity of said device “…to help you remember me while you work, Mom.” Without question, I can’t bear the thought of parting with the stash of handcrafted “Hug Tickets” one of my progenies recently bestowed upon me either. Besides, the words “Usable at Any Time or Place” are inscribed therein—so why not Heaven, I ask.

And what about sandals? And delicious books? And pockets to put things in? You never know when you might need a dog treat or a place to store pretty pebbles. Heaven ought to allow such necessities to pass over the transom. Further, I cannot fathom leaving behind my wealth of childhood memories—or the ones I’ve harvested since becoming a wife and mother. Indeed, it would be a cruel twist of fate not to be able to instantly recall the way my children’s eyelashes curl while they sleep and the soft, warm kisses only the man I love can deliver.

And there had better be snowflakes in that place of eternal rest. And raindrops and sunshine and moonbeams and birds—great flocks of them that move as one, dipping and diving together, a massive collection of tiny, black specks that dot the skies in the distance and make great whooshing sounds as they pass directly overhead. Mark my words; I’m coming back if the aforementioned “stuff” isn’t there and I’ll be putting a note in God’s Suggestion Box, ever the discontented disciple.

Idiom or no idiom, I want to take it with me.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (still chortling over my friend Trish’s twist on the ever-popular idiom: “We drop the ball in this household so often…it’s a Frisbee.”)

Copyright 2010 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Mushy Stuff

An Affair to Remember: A Passion for All-Things-Digital

Makeshift Cell Phone (w/ Texting Keypad and Pics of Endearing Pets)

Checkout lines depress me lately. Not only because a goodly share of today’s merchandise seems exorbitantly priced and fairly superficial, but because I’m hard pressed to remember the last time someone actually counted back my measly change—placing the bills and proper coinage into my ungrateful little hands in a piecemeal fashion. Which is sort of pathetic. It seems that clerks can punch keys and bag wares with great fervor and efficiency (some with the suggestion of a smile even), but when it comes to making change in the aforementioned manner (which would imply both humanness and intellect), many are sorely lacking. Instead, they routinely shove a wad of cash in my direction, eager to inspire my swift departure, completely insensitive to my need for order and convention.

Perhaps I would do well to step outside myself, though—to view the matter from a cashier’s perspective. I mean, why bother learning the menial task when a machine can spit out the correct sum instantaneously? To make throwbacks like me happy. That’s why. I happen to like the notion of reliance on someone’s mind as opposed to someone’s software. Call me crazy.

That said, I fear we’re creating a generation of individuals who can neither think nor do for themselves. Despite the best of intentions, technology appears to be making us both deplorably unimaginative and woefully dependent. Indeed, it seems odd that the best and brightest of our time—the independent thinkers who can be credited with some of the most awe-inspiring inventions designed to improve life—have enabled society to slide, perhaps unwittingly, into the abyss of perpetual neediness. How ironic.

Heaven forbid we attempt to function without our beloved gadgetry—the stuff we’ve allowed to seep into our pores like a drug, rendering us wholly incapable of resisting its allure. Our Smart Phones and Google TV. Our eReaders and Internet Tablets. Our iPods and iPads. Digital this and digital that. And let us not forget our dear TomToms and Garmins, the insanely addictive devices designed to guide us to the familiar and to the frighteningly obscure, because, of course, no one can read an effing map anymore. Gone are the days of marking desired routes with a big, yellow highlighter and tallying mileage to derive ETA’s—which, oddly enough, always left me with a gratifying sense of accomplishment. That’s code for: I was able to adequately address the infamous “Are we there yet?” queries by handing my brood said marked-up map and suggesting they put their heads together and figure it out.

Makeshift Cell Phone (Flip Style w/ Fancy Flower)

By the same token, it would appear that kids are no longer able to entertain themselves (given the techno-laden wish lists to which I’ve been privy, and the vast amount of time my heathens spend on PhotoBooth). In any event, the message being delivered to our impressionable youth via the media is slightly disturbing: BE VERY AFRAID OF BOREDOM. ELECTRONIC DEVICES PROMISE A NEVERENDING STREAM OF AMUSEMENT AND COMPANIONSHIP. Thank you very little, Nintendo, XBox and Wii. My children now think it’s uncool to play with Barbies, to climb trees and to devour books. What’s more, they’re fairly enraged because I won’t let them have cell phones. Gasp! So they crafted their own. Complete with penciled-on keypads and cameras. Oy.

Moreover, I’m troubled by this new age of texts and tweets—the one in which pithiness is not only embraced, but celebrated. I worry about future generations and their collective ability to compose thoughts—never mind complete sentences and properly spelled words. Quite frankly, the whole “short message system” makes a mockery of self-expression. It urges us to cut corners, to mutilate words, to discount grammar, to stop short of saying what needs to be said, TO THINK IN 160 CHARACTER BURSTS—which is wrong on so many levels I can’t begin to express my displeasure. Granted, I’m hopelessly addicted to both texts and tweets, however I have standards and an abiding allegiance to the written word. Translation: My tweets are long and rambling and my texts are veritable tomes that make the geeks at Verizon cringe.

Call me a rebel.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2010 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Rantings & Ravings, Techno Tripe

January: A Fine Time for Resolving to Do Something about Those…Um, Flaws

Jettison. If I accomplish but one thing in the coming year, I pray to God that it involves discarding that which I no longer need, want or will ever use. Otherwise my humble abode will be featured on A&E’s Hoarders in the very near future. I’ll be the crazy lady in the corner, babbling incoherently while clutching a dilapidated pot holder or some such foolishness. My husband will be the nut case hermetically sealed to a bucket full of antiquated tools—mumbling something about the very real possibility of fixing our antiquated schlock. And thanks to the wonder of DNA, our children will be the ones refusing to part with their dear playthings: good ol’ Headless Barbie and her charming beau, One-legged Ken. Furthermore, our closets, basement, refrigerator and beloved garage (i.e. the Home for Wayward Toys) could use major purging as well.

Attend. When it comes to parenthood, I would do well in 2011 to talk less and to listen more. What better way to acquire vitally important information from my increasingly private-ish progenies? For instance: Evidently fourth-graders “…don’t need help with their tangles anymore, Mom,” and apparently the aforementioned smallish beings are also perfectly capable of choosing their own library books, lunch menu items, friends and (gasp!) love interests. However, it’s rumored they still benefit from occasional (read: very nearly constant) reminders to flush toilets and whatnot.

Nurture. In my mind, success as a parent is defined in a great multitude of ways, but among those I value most are these: to cultivate within my children an enduring love of books, a willingness to stretch not only their muscles but their minds, a desire to explore the unfamiliar, to embrace change and to reach out to those who are less fortunate in this world. If 2011 includes steps that take me the least bit closer to achieving those goals, I will consider the year a glowing success. Moreover, if, during that same time frame, I happen to stir within my heathens a compelling sense of duty as it relates to the aforementioned flushing-of-the-loo, all the better.

Unearth. It’s a brand new year and an ideal time to rummage around this chaotic place in the name of recovering that which was tragically lost in the field—like my sanity, fortitude and inspiring tolerance of kid-related tomfoolery. With any luck, I could also awaken from the depths of dormancy my ability to bring order to my world (i.e. just once I’d like to find my stupid cell phone without having to wander aimlessly or—Heaven forbid—dial my stupid self).

Actually finish something. Here’s hoping 2011 will inspire me to “…open up a can of getting-it-done,” like that do-it-yourself ad so cleverly suggests to people like me who probably rifle through their pantries in search of said can. I’d also like to finish a stinking movie, a book, a household project that may or may not claim my sanity, a slew of yet-to-be-signed-and-mailed holiday cards—before the actual holiday, an email with a string of coherent sentences and/or a slightly brilliant 140-character tweet.

Read. That’s right. I’d like to think that the coming year will hold for me more time to read…between the lines, people’s minds, my dog’s pitifully vague I-have-to-pee signals and books, of course. Justin Halpern, David Sedaris and Sloane Crosley mostly—because I simply can’t get enough of their irreverent brand of humor. In fact, if I happen to meet an untimely demise in the next 365 days, for the love of God, please see to it that SOMEONE tosses the collective works of the abovementioned in with me before anyone lights any damned oven.

Yearn. As is the case with embarking upon any new year, I yearn to be healthier and happier in 2011, more spontaneous and unfettered. To get more sleep and to eat more vegetables. To spend less time with my gadgets and more time with my family. To be a better cook and citizen. A better friend and confidant. A better soul mate and lover. A better daughter and eradicator-of-dust-and-disorder in this circus called home. A better scheduler-of-events, listener-of-troubles and giver-of-love-and-guidance. A better mom in so many ways.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (resolving to make January the start of something good).

Copyright 2011 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Home for Wayward Toys, Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, The Natives are Decidedly Restless