Showing posts with label Fun. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fun. Show all posts

15 November 2012

Distractions



by Deborah Elliott-Upton

Distractions are everywhere. Sometimes, I just want to sit and read, but other things prod me from doing what I want. As an adult, a parent, an employee, I am forced to be responsible.

Reading has to take a back seat and wait its turn, I remind myself.

As an American, I was responsible in making sure I was aware of the politics in the election year (which began immediately following the last presidential election). That took some time away from frivolous "fun" reading.

Debates to watch and discuss with those whose opinion I admire and deciding who I wanted in the White House for the next four years meant I allowed my to-be-read list to vacation a while longer without me. I voted. The country voted and the electioneering ceased (sort of). Bickering will likely continue until the next presidential election, but that seems to be the way of politics. I, however, can move onto the next important things in my life.

With relief, I head back to the book stack on my nightstand. I think while I was busy with life, it multiplied like rabbits. There seemed to be more, and then I remember dear friends who gifted me with their newest "must-read" they wanted to share. I see the book I had gravitated to following a coffee date with another writer at the book store cafe. Another nonfiction to better my life scrunched next to my water pitcher is now garnering my attention. All are inviting, but which to read first?

While I am pondering, I decide to check my e-mail. I'm awaiting news of a sale to a magazine, but when that particular e-mail isn't in the queue, I let my fingers wander down the list in hopes of something that really interests me, but all I see are claims to make my penis larger (good luck with that one!), send me photos of single people in my area (I'm very married!) and web site sales that I may have purchased from once a long time ago (If I haven't been back, I am probably not interested in your merchandise!)

Still, the Internet has dangled its distraction and before I know it I am headfirst in social media.

When my stomach growls, I glance at the clock and am surprised to see it is past lunch. I have spent too much time finding out where my friends ate lunch and seeing photos of said lunch while I obviously missed mine.Very little good has come from my time "checking in with my pals" only to see what restaurants they preferred today.

Already online, I decide to take a short break and get something to satisfy my cravings and refill my coffee cup. The snack is another diversion as I end up cleaning out the vegetable drawer. While I'm in the vacinity, I shove a load of laundry into the washer.

Back at the computer, I promise myself to stop dawdling and get to work. When I find I am on Google yet again, I tell myself I will find something to ignite an idea to help me write the Sleuthsayer column. Instead, I am distracted away from writing ideas to read a short article about how to better invest my time and energies to uncomplicate my life. This seems like something I should research, but in the end, it is simply the same-old, same-old: make a priority list, stick to it, pat yourself on the back. I wish I had the time back while I was procrastinating in disguise. Guilt creeps over me like syrup on a waffle. Nothing to do but shake it off and vow to do better with time management.

I make a decision to give it a try. I sit down and prioritize everything I need to do for the rest of the day.

I have placed reading at the bottom of the list. It is certainly not really at the bottom of my list, but it seems so selfish to not finish up all the "chores" of life before giving into the relaxation to sit and simply read.

Life is supposed to be full of living and yet, I am filling it with loathing chores and relinquishing true enjoyment to the margins of my existence. Why? Because that's what I am supposed to do? Who says?

I leave the computer, put the washer load into the dryer, turn my cellphone off and refill my coffee cup. Returning to the list of Things to do Today, I grab a red pen and deliberately re-number the list from top to bottom giving priorities a massive shake-up.

Tomorrow I will read first and squeeze in the "have-to's" later. There is always time to finish the laundry. NOT reading is wrong. As Queen of my own kingdom, I decree a new law for myself: I will begin each day with reading something fun or entertaining or instructional. I intend to keep the content varied.

I am not completely throwing caution to the winds; there are a few rules to keep the whole thing more honest. The reading must come from my nightstand stack. I can't allow myself to buy new until I read what I have. And, yes, I do have to do the laundry eventually.

I reach for the mystery magazine. I will read just one story and then I will see what other Sleuthsayers have to share.

After that, I am required to do something on the To Do List that originally took precendence. That seems only fair.

I feel in control and better already. What a wonderful way to start each day.

12 June 2012

Wedding Bell Blues


By David Dean

June is the month of brides and I've just returned from a wedding.  As I've grown older I have found that I attend more funerals than weddings...which I deeply regret.  Weddings are one of the last bastions of open bars and bad dancing, and for people like me that spells fun.  Most people like weddings, I think.  It's one of the few ceremonies left that both attendees and participants mutually enjoy.  It's an optimistic occasion in every culture and faith; full of youth and exuberance, hopes and expectations.  And people look better at weddings--there are pretty girls dressed very prettily and men in tuxedos and suits.  Have you noticed that almost every man is improved by a tux?  The seventies may have provided the exception to this rule.  I understand the bridesmaids gowns are usually cringe-inducing, however, the selfless manner in which the chosen few submit to them is very charming and brave.  I mostly come away feeling better about people and favorably impressed with the rising generation.  The open bar may play some small part in these perceptions.

Not all weddings proceed in the effortless, swan-like, manner hoped for by the bride's proud parents.  Usually this occurs during the reception, and sometimes in spectacular fashion.  I have never attended one of these wedding train wrecks as a guest, but I have been involved with one or two professionally as a police officer.  It's very uncomfortable, and in one instance, tragic. 

As there are always the exceptions to the rule, so it is with my mention that people are mostly happy at weddings.  Some are not.  On such occasions the open bar tends to be a bad idea discovered too late.  Passions run high at wedding receptions, and they are not always amorous ones.  And once the libations begin to flow, speaking one's mind to total strangers feels almost compulsory.  Sadly, these strangers are often related to the shortly-to-be-unhappy couple whom the critic has decided to publicly indict, or offer unsavory, and inappropriate, commentary on.  Bad dancing is quickly replaced with equally poor, but vigorous, fighting skills.  These martial displays appeal mightily to the young testosterone-charged, and well-lubricated young men in attendance, tux or nay, who quickly choose sides and join the fray.  Police are called by management.  The expensive nuptials become just another Saturday night at bar break.

It does happen.  I've responded to such a call and can attest.  It makes a good story for the grandchildren someday...perhaps.  The bride's mother  is never the same, I think.

On one occasion, officers of my department had to return several times to the hotel where the reception was held to put down flare-ups.  These went on well after the reception and raged from room-to-room into the wee hours of the morning.  It was something of a Hatfield-McCoy wedding though everyone did go home at the end of it all.

This was not the case during one reception.  In this instance, it was held at a seaside hotel during the autumn and all was going well until one of the bridesmaids husband decided to go swimming.  The day before had been very stormy and the ocean was still churning when he rushed onto the beach, stripped out of his shoes and shirt, and dove in.  This was after the season and no lifeguards manned the beach.  He was last seen swimming due east--directly out to sea.  When I arrived the wife was hysterical and screaming for me to send my officers into the water after him.  One of my men volunteered, but when I took in the condition of the sea and learned that the last time he had been seen with any assurance had been twenty minutes prior, I said no.  This was very hard to do, but I couldn't risk another man's life under the circumstances.  Naturally, I did activate the Coast Guard and fire department, which also had some boats available.  It was a fruitless search that went on until dark.  I found him the next night having washed up with the tide.  I was grateful that he was unmarked.  The sea can do truly terrible work on those it claims.  It was a small mercy for the wife and family.

Weddings would seem to be a good setting for a mystery story, but I'm not aware of very many.  Perhaps I've just not come across them.  My education is sometimes spotty.  Certainly there are the requisite ingredients available: passion, drink, love, sexual tension, and that certain, "I can't be held responsible for my behavior" attitude amongst many attendees.  Additionally, as the receptions often involve hotels and overnight stays, further intrigue is possible throughout the long night.  I might try writing one someday.   

In spite of my "on-duty" experiences, I still like weddings very much.  They make me feel younger and more hopeful.  As for honeymoons, well, that's another story, isn't it?  You don't get invited along on those very often.  But crime, violence, and tragedy, stalk them as well if the news is to be believed--husbands vanish from cruise liners; wives go diving with their husbands and don't come back up.  It would seem the institution of marriage is fraught with peril from proposal to final parting.  Perhaps this explains the falling marriage rate.

Whether it does, or doesn't, it certainly provides potential grist for the literary mill and food for dark thought--devil's food wedding cake perhaps.