Wrappers from Packaged Cookies

Meditation, rumination, and consternation

Archive for the tag “Sabbatical”

Day 26 – Tombstone

Here lies Fred, the earth is fed. Six feet under ’cause now he’s dead.

Nora Ephron passed away earlier this week. Actually, if you happened to get your news through the filter of Twitter, she passed away, turned out not to have passed away after all, and then finally did pass away in the end.

But her death got me thinking about legacy – how someone might want to be remembered as compared with how they ultimately will be remembered. Make no mistake about it, Nora Ephron was extremely accomplished in her field… no, fields. A career spanning better than 25 years, playing a major role in bringing significant movies to a screen near you. She wrote scripts, she produced, she directed – sometimes she did two or all three of those things on the same project. She was talented and, often more importantly, she was bankable.

Was every movie a home run? No, of course not. Nobody bats 1.000. But even when she didn’t square up her pitch, she usually still made solid contact, spraying doubles all over the park.

So it was interesting seeing how people used their 140 characters to twemorialize her. How do you sum up her career? What’s the touchpoint so that people who didn’t know Nora Ephron by name would go “Oh, her? That’s too bad. I like her stuff.”? And when someone chose “You’ve Got Mail” as their touchpoint, it was especially interesting seeing over people jump all over them for it, as if the only acceptable choice was either “When Harry Met Sally…” or “Silkwood”.

Look, “You’ve Got Mail” is ubiquitous. It’s Sunday afternoon on TBS when baseball’s not in season. It’s Wednesday nights on W Network. It’s the “Law & Order” of movies; scarcely a day goes by when you wouldn’t trip across it on your dial. It’s also a perfectly fine movie. Better done the first time around, sure. A little formulaic, yeah. But it’s a movie very much of its time, with familiar faces, and a familiar meet-cute premise. It’s Wonder Bread. It’s vanilla ice cream. It’s comforting. And a ridiculous number of people have seen it, and watch it again and again every time it’s on.

So, what’s the matter with being remembered as the director, screenwriter, AND producer of a movie with that kind of pedigree, whether it’s the valedictorian of your particular class of work or not? Shit, there are literally tens of thousands of people who would be thrilled to have that as their epitaph.

Look, you live your life, and the people who cross your path are each going to take away their own memories of what your time here meant. All you can do is leave firm impressions with your footsteps and always keep pointed in the direction you want to be travelling. Do your best each day, and hopefully the gap between how you want to be remembered and how you ultimately will be can be spanned with a tiny hop rather than a suspension bridge.

What do you want it to say on your tombstone?

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Day 17 – Move Over

I’m back today from five or six days east on the 401 visiting our families. Other than at Christmastime, this was the first time in I can’t even remember how long that we’ve spent this much time doing the family thing.

I found it ridiculously relaxing, which is not the norm for me. It’s usually either too rushed or too quiet (family members reading this can make their own guesses). This time, I don’t know; it’s like we found the secret formula, the eleven herbs and spices of the family visit coating. Of course, I’m pretty much predisposed to finding almost anything relaxing these days – the lack of weekday 8:30 to 5:00 obligations will do that to you. But there was more to it than that.

Anyway, true to form, there was one part of the trip that I didn’t find relaxing, that I almost never find relaxing – the drive. Please, don’t misunderstand. I love to drive and, living in the city on the main public transit line, I rarely get to do it. I also like to drive fast. You can make your own assumptions about what I mean by “fast” but, suffice it to say that I’m in no danger of having our car confiscated if I get pulled over.

The problem with wanting to drive fast, while simultaneously having our entire trip take place on the country’s main highway for commerce, is that the car manufacturers haven’t yet installed the magic button that allows me to control the quality and the speed of the other drivers on the road. I firmly believe this will go down as one of the great tragedies of the modern age.

I don’t ask much of other people on the road. Keep an even pace. Stay inside your lane. Don’t slam on your brakes suddenly without a good reason. Most of all, every once in a while – just for the fun of it – take a look in your rear-view mirror. This holds true no matter what lane you’re in, but it’s especially true if you’re in the left lane. AKA, the passing lane.

Yes, it’s called the passing lane. It’s not the sit-here-going-110-until-you-hit-your-exit lane. It’s also not the pull-your-semi-alongside-that-other-semi-while-you-go-uphill-until-you-pull-behind-him-again-at-the-top lane. It’s the passing lane, the lane used by cars driving at a faster speed to pass other cars driving at a relatively slower speed. Simple concept, but one that’s critically dependent on an equally simple social contract. That’s right…

Slower drivers have to either move or keep to the right.

Like I said, simple. I’m sure you feel like quite the daredevil going 113, grandma, but when there’s no other car ahead of you, and I’m behind you looking to go 135, the system breaks. I get stuck going 113, or 110, and so does the lady behind me, and the guy behind her, and then the temperature inside my car starts to approach the ridiculous heat outside. External forces are holding me back, keeping me from getting where I want to be at the pace I want to set.

Anyway, I’m home now. Vacation’s over…

I’m ready. I’m ready to go faster. Get out of my way. With all due respect, move over, before I run you over.

Day Three – Labels

I am a man.

I am white.

I am Canadian.

I am a banker. Or am I?

I am a sports fan.

I am intelligent.

I am sarcastic.

I am funny.

I am even sarcastically funny. Or is that funnily sarcastic?

I am a singer.

I am an actor.

I am a partner.

I am a son.

I am a brother.

I am Liberal.

I am liberal.

I am socially awkward.

I am a writer.

I am short.

I am extra-large. Except when I am large.

I am average.

I am above-average.

I am a friend.

I am a mentor.

I am shy.

I am half full. I am half empty.

I am a realist.

I am hopeful.

I am tired.

I am fortunate.

I am afraid.

I am whelmed.

I am less than I ought to be.

I am more than I believe I am.

I am what I am, and that’s all that I am.

Day Two – About Earwigs

I hate earwigs. No, not the bugs, although, don’t get me wrong – I hate the bugs too. I remember having a lot of earwigs on our porch during the summer when I was growing up. You’d open the mailbox, or grab the screen door handle, and there’d be one there. If you were unlucky enough to get it on your hand, you’d almost always get pinched too, which was just the worst. But I digress.

No, the earwig I’m talking about is a song. You know the song. That song. THAT song. You hear it through someone’s headphones on the streetcar in the morning. You catch just a snippet of it in the background during an ad on TV. Sometimes, it’s enough for someone just to say the title, and that’s it – you’re buggered. It gets into your head, and then you just can’t get rid of it. You hear it all day long, over and over. You find yourself humming it while standing on-line at the grocery store. It’s burrowed right in there. Like an earwig, see?

If you’re someone who likes to while away an evening with some karaoke, as I am, then earwigs are practically an occupational hazard. Guaranteed, at some point during the evening some drunken idiot is going to get up on stage and sing that song. THAT song. The awful top 40 radio hit – past or present – with the hook. “Friday”. Anything by the Spice Girls or S Club 7. “Call Me Maybe”. Oh, by the way, Ms. Jepsen, Carly Rae is a perfectly nice name – why do you want us to call you ‘Maybe’ instead? That is what you want, right? Otherwise, surely there’d be a comma in the title of your song, wouldn’t there?

Anyway, what was my point here (after three paragraphs, I damn well better have a point)? Oh, yeah. Last night at karaoke, somebody sang “So Far Away” by Staind. You might be familiar with the song. It’s from the sensitive ballad portion of their oeuvre, by which I mean there’s a chance you heard it on the radio at some point, as opposed to most of their music, which you’d only have heard if you’d been fool enough to buy one of their CDs. “So Far Away” has now been stuck in my head for almost a full day as I write this.

I don’t think this is your usual earwig though. Some of the lyrics actually resonated with me a bit. Yes, the lyrics to a Staind ballad. Shut up – I know exactly how ridiculous it sounds. I present for your consideration the first verse:

This is my life
It’s not what it was before
All these feelings I’ve shared
And these are my dreams
That I’ve never lived before
Somebody shake me
‘Cause I, I must be sleeping

This is day two of the rest of my life, and it’s decidedly not what it was before. Or, at least, it’s not so far. It’ll be up to me to decide whether that holds true or not. This is the chance to get it right, perhaps the best chance I’ve had in decades; if I’m lucky, maybe even to chase the dreams that I’d never lived before.

And… my introspection tank is empty. Let me just leave you with this – “I’m too sexy for my love. Too sexy for my love, love’s going to leave me.

Happy earwig.

Day One

I’m on staycation. At least, that’s what it feels like so far, anyway. You know – you take a week off from work, but you don’t go away anywhere. You just roll out of bed whenever, settle into the couch, maybe find a Law & Order rerun on Mystery. You eat when, and if, you get hungry. Get dressed? Well, sure, if the spirit moves you, I suppose. It’s certainly not a prerequisite, though.

So, yeah. Staycation. For today, that’s what I’m telling myself. Luckily, I’m easily suggestible. Tomorrow? I guess we’ll deal with tomorrow when it comes.

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