Fiction Writing and Other Oddities

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Life Lessons

I hope you're not expecting anything mega-brilliant. Since I usually blog on what I've learned about creative writing, tonight I thought I'd list a few things I've learned over the years. Nothing earth-shattering. Some are just plain dumb. Many are things that any normal two-year-old could have figured out. Several items are shopping-related. J

(Note: I don't really want to endorse one product over another—but some things have just worked out for me, and I believe in sharing.)

So, drum-roll please, here are a few things I've picked up over my vast number of years on this planet.

Product That Just Work

  1. Crocs. I've lived a lifetime with blistered, bleeding feet—particularly when I took the advice of shoe store salesmen and got my feet measured and bought the most expensive running shoes in the place. And then, to compound my misery, lately my feet have started swelling and getting hot. Until I found Crocs. No more blisters. No more calluses. No more taking my shoes off to get through security in airports. Little happy feet.
    1. Hint: buy those gel insoles and put them in your Crocs. It's like an extra layer of, ahhhhhhhhhhhh, cushiness. It feels so good I want to cry. It also keeps your socks from getting caught on the Croc nubbies and twisting as your walk.
    2. Related hint: buy those socks especially created for people with diabetes. I don't have diabetes, but I have to tell you, socks created for people with that condition are unbelievably soft and comfortable. And if you wear them with gel insoles in your Crocs, you will bawl like a baby in relief.
    3. Final, related note: Who care what it looks like? It's comfortable.
  2. Plastic sled thingies from They are just these long, oblong sled thingies that are sort of wagon-shaped except without the wheels. They come with a nylon rope for the handle. We unhooked the nylon rope and slipped a foot-long length of old hose onto the rope, and then reattached the rope so that we would have a nice, soft, flexible handle to grip (instead of just the nylon rope). And what is this good for, you ask? GARDENING. I can't tell you how many wheel barrows and wagons I have broken over the years. Flat tires, broken axles, broken handles—not to mention the wheel barrow's complete inability to cover rough terrain (like downed trees in the woods, for example). Then we got this sled thingie and wowee! I can drag a hundred pounds of dirt around like nobody's business and it slips over fallen trees in the woods, uneven turf, over rocks, and even over those stupid brick edgings I was unwise enough to use to encircle my garden. Suddenly, I can move anything, anywhere. There is no barrier this thing can't slip over. If I can get over it, this sled can slide over it, too. I use it to haul plants, dirt, leaves, yard junk—you name it. And you can use a couple of bungee cords to hold very large stacks of branches to the sled while you drag them away, too. It's the best garden implement under $50 I've ever seen. Other places probably sell similar sleds—I just never checked out other places. So check out Cabelas. I think it's actually meant to haul dead things out of the woods, but what the heck—it's great for gardening. And it's plastic so it never rots or needs oiling or air for the tires or anything!
  3. Doggie poo for new gardens—if you have a dog that loves to dig, just scoop up some of its "little doggie by-product" and put it around any new plantings or freshly turned over garden plots. It will keep your dog from digging there or pulling up your lovely plants. While this isn't an actual, commercial product, it works.

Personal Grooming

  1. You can buy really, really expensive toner, or you can use witch hazel. The results are the same and witch hazel is cheaper.
  2. You can buy really, really expensive "spot products" for those occasional breakouts, or you can take a cotton swab, drench it in rubbing alcohol, and dab it on your blemish twice a day (or more if you wish). Your blemish will go away as fast, or faster, than it would if you used a more trendy product.
  3. Baby powder makes a great face powder if you are very fair. In fact, it does a better job of hiding pores than a lot of expensive, commercial products.

Life in General

  1. You're better off with someone your own age after you hit 50. Yeah, I know—you don't have to tell me about all those great relationships with others of disparate ages. Here's the thing. As you get older, life just keeps getting more and more humiliating. You wake up at 2 a.m. and can't get back to sleep—but you inexorably fall asleep at 3 p.m. You have colonoscopies, things cut or burned off your face (or other areas of your body), age spots, hair loss, sagging skin, dietary issues, reading glasses—you name it. I have to tell you, if you're with someone roughly your own age with whom you can share the reading glasses, compare prescriptions, eat the same diets, and in general are going through everything you're going through, it is an unbelievable relief. It's nice just to be able to share all the discomfort, pain, trials & tribulations with someone who is experiencing the same thing. You're not alone. You don't have to hide anything. You're not becoming weird and creepy. You can grow weird and creepy right along with them.
  2. Right along with the previous item: try to look good, but be honest, 50 is not even close to being the new 40. 40 is 40 and 50 is 50. And if you're 50 and trying to pretend to the world that you're 40, well, get over it. I believe in staying fit and looking as good as you can, but I'm not trying to make people think I'm something I'm not, mostly because I don't want the embarrassment of explaining later that, no, I'm not really 40. You can't hide your age forever: and as Popeye says, "I am what I am." And there is a lot less stress when you actually realize it. Just take a deep breath and let it all out.
  3. Smile. That's almost, like, the answer to Life, the universe, and everything. Just smile—it's turning on the light switch to the soul. All of a sudden, good things start coming your way. You're more popular. People think you're nice. You'll feel better. It's shocking and amazing.

Lastly, go and read a good book with a happy ending. It'll make you feel better. Trust me.

That's it for tonight. My little list of miscellany.

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