Sunday, November 27, 2011

Embracing the Holidays!

Red and I had a wonderful Thanksgiving with my family. We shared an amazing meal, potluck style, with the star of the day being a turkey, perfectly roasted by my beautiful niece. A good time was had by all and a true sense of gratitude overtook me. That propelled me into the Christmas mood and I ventured out for my first shopping outing yesterday, with Red sitting on my shoulder.

Red: Wow! We got a lot done in just a couple of hours.

Kathy: Yep, about half of it, I think.

Red: I love the Scooby-Do Bowling Set for James (my grandson)!

Kathy: Me, too! The kid’s got tons of toys, so I have to find something different to make sure he doesn’t already have it.

Red: I’m pretty sure you’re safe with that one. Hey, what about that lady that gave you the dirty look for talking to her?

Kathy: (laughing) She wasn’t the only one! Man, what a grumpy group! Did you catch the lady who abruptly turned away when I said the sweater she was holding was pretty?

Red: Yeah, well, there are a few people who don’t appreciate your social butterfly ways under the best of circumstances. Then throw in holiday shopping and you’re a goner.

Kathy: Oh, so you’ve noticed? (innocent expression)

Red: (knowing look) Yes, I’ve noticed. I’ve also noticed how much you enjoy creating butt puckers in uptight people.

Kathy: Who? Moi? Never! Just trying to spread the holiday love.

Red: Umm, hmm! Well, you might want to give them a big smile and “Happy Holidays!” rather than commenting what they’re buying, what they’re wearing or showing them something you’re buying. I’m just saying.

Kathy: (pouting prettily – I’m sure it was pretty pouting) Oh, okay! You’re probably right. Besides, I can just talk to you instead.

Red: (laughing loudly) Yeah! Well, we’ll see how long it takes for them to call the authorities and have you dragged off to the asylum.

Kathy: Ah, well. I’m still going to have a great holiday shopping season. Time for round two. Are you ready?

Red: Coming!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Twitter’s Just Not That Complicated

Okay, I think most people will agree, Red and I are both generally positive people. But there comes a time for complaints.

Kathy: So, in the last two days I’ve had two people who wanted to know why I followed them and one of them wanted to know if she’s on a follow-list for writers.

Red: Um…isn’t the whole point of Twitter to follow and be followed?

Kathy: Yeah! So, it’s not just me, right? It is insane to sign up for Twitter and then get insulted when people follow you. Right?

Red: No, it’s not just you. You got it right. Hey, so what about that twitter validation service? What’s that all about?

Kathy: Again, I DO NOT understand. What are you being protected against in someone following you. Or even if you end up following a robot unintentionally. You can’t figure out by the tweets that they aren’t a real person? Of course you can.Then you just UNFOLLOW them.

Red: I can tell by the capital letters that you are really irritated. Can you keep it down a bit?

Kathy: Oh…sorry. But really, a couple of months ago I had a couple of real doozies that I had followed. One frat boy who didn’t like me tweeting about my blog and books. I told him to unfollow me, but he spent the next three tweets telling me how rude and inconsiderate I was. My response to each one was – “Unfollow me, please.” He didn't. Then, of course, I was forced to unfollow and block him.

Red: What about the second one? Wasn’t he just rude?

Kathy: Yes, he was - extremely. I had a blog post about list makers and he felt it necessary to tell me that list makers are as sexy as a rusty fireplug - ad nausem. Really? Seriously? This is what you spend your time doing? Finding people to harass on Twitter?

Red: What did you do?

Kathy: I told him politely (although I really wasn't feeling the polite thing) that he needed to do something about his problem and then unfollowed and blocked him.

Red: Why do you think some people are so resistant to unfollowing people?

Kathy: I have no earthly idea. To me, one of the best things about Twitter is being able to build a stream of people who make my day better in some way. Hopefully, the people that follow me get something back, too.

Red: (laughing) Maybe it’s that service that posts tweets about who unfollowed who?

Kathy: (now laughing as well) Maybe! Who knows. Isn’t that just the most ridiculous thing of all?

Red: It’s pretty weird. Here have another Bloody Mary (handing me a glass filled with the yummy red liquid heaven and a stalk of celery).

Kathy: (taking a sip) Ummm.

Red: Feel better?

Kathy: (closing my eyes) Much! Thank you.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Being a Man-less Woman

Red and I were discussing how odd it is that in today’s liberated world so many women find it tough to be without a man. Now, bear in mind, Red has her Joe and I have been unattached for a couple of years now. So, it might heat up a little out on the veranda.

Red: I just don’t see why you don’t even try anymore!

Kathy: Try what? To catch me a man? Then what am I going to do with him.

Red: Well! If I have to teach you that…

Kathy: (laughing loudly) That’s not what I mean and you know it. I’m too busy to have a man. I work full time and write every spare minute. I hardly have time for myself, let alone a guy.

Red: I just don’t think it’s good for your health! You know I wasn’t much interested in men after Mac died either, but I met Joe and everything changed.

Kathy: I know, I know. And it’s not that I’m a widow and can’t move on. You know I’ve dated in the past. It’s more about having priorities right now – but then again; I’ve never met a Joe, like you have.

Red: He is pretty special(she answers dreamily). But still!

Kathy: (chuckling now) Don’t you think my family and friends have tried to get me interested in dating again? I’ve heard this from too many people. Seriously, I don’t have time for a man.

Red: What if one comes along who’s just right?

Kathy: (Smiling widely) I’d probably find the time. But honestly, I'm not counting on that. In the meantime, I’m perfectly happy by myself.

Red: What about the movies? Don’t you want someone to go to a movie with?

Kathy: Well, first of all, I’ve got you and I don’t have to buy a ticket or popcorn for you.

Red: That doesn’t count and you know it.

Kathy: Secondly, I actually like going to a movie by myself and I like going to restaurants by myself. I love people – you know that – but I’m fine by myself. Now stop this.

Red: Okay, you’re the boss. I guess if I piss you off too much, I’ll end up with people trying to kill me again?

Kathy: Oh, that’s already happening. The question is whether you get away safely. Don’t mess with me! (serious face for 10 seconds, followed by a big smile)

Red: Okay, okay – I’ll take your word for it – you are fine as a man-less woman.

Kathy: Finally! Now, let’s get back to the bloody marys and this amazing view.

Red: Here’s to being with a man if that’s what you want and without one if that’s what you want. (lifting her glass)

Kathy: Cheers!

We fade out to the sounds of laughter and clinking glasses.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Macy’s and Gimbels Revisited

Hopefully, most of you will be familiar with the 1947 Christmas classic film Miracle on 34th Street. In it, a very young Natalie Woods plays a child who has been taught by her mother not believe in Santa Claus. However, when Kris Kringle himself takes over as the Macy’s Santa, she comes to believe in him and therefore Santa Claus. This belief is the miracle at the heart of the story.

I took away another miracle within the story at a very young age. At one point, Kris Kringle tells a mother that Gimbels has the toy her child wants for Christmas when Macy’s does not. At first, the store management is upset, but when the woman declares that she will always be a loyal customer because of this act of referral and publicity goes in Macy’s favor, Kris is hailed as a genius. I think this is as good as it gets in the miracle department.

About ten years ago, I opened a consignment shop and I made this a habit of mine – sending customers to other consignment shops that I knew carried what they wanted. My parents, who have been in the antique business for nearly 25 years, do the same thing.

First, it just makes sense. If you don’t have what the customer wants but know who does, why wouldn’t you tell them? For fear they’ll find the other competitor? So? The next time they are looking for something they are far more likely to come to your place first because they know you’ll refer them elsewhere if you don’t have it.

Second, it’s the right thing to do. I believe if I live my life always at least trying to do the right thing, more often than not, I will manage it.

So, why am I revisiting this old film now? Because I’m concerned by what I see as competitors nipping at each other’s heels on Twitter, specifically writers – probably because that’s my thing.

To be brutally honest, there are many thousands of writers on Twitter right now, all pursuing the same basic dream, many of whom have been inspired by John Locke’s success story – selling 1 million eBooks in 5 months. We all want to be the next Locke – plucked from the many and settled down into our own private dreams, usually a variation of this one – a worry-free, monied existence, finally able to write to our heart’s content rather than work for someone else in a day job. We want this so bad it hurts.

Non-writers out there are begging for the same opportunity – financial freedom. Twitter is the portal to this golden world. Pen a bunch of yearning dreamers up in a confined space like Twitter and you’re bound to get a few scratches and in-fights.

But here’s the thing. We will not all make it. Some will. Some won’t. I contend that “It doesn't matter if you win or lose, it's how you play the game.” – a famous but unattributed quote. Going back to the film, it was when both stores – Macy’s and Gimbels – rose above themselves and began to cross-refer that they both did well.

So, here’s what I propose. When we are lucky enough to find a great writer or fantastic product or funny blogger – or whatever – let’s go out of our way to help promote it or them. Retweet their messages or do an original tweet about it yourself. In that manner, we all do better.

In the end, we live or die as a group anyway. If Twitter remains a positive force, people will hang on to it, help it grow. If it withers away from a plethora of criticisms and negativity, we all lose.

Through lifting each other up, we perform our own miracles every day.

PS - you will find this same post on both my blogs. I want it to reach as many readers as possible.