Don’t Amitte Diem Either

© 2011 A. Krauss

As I write this post, hundreds of thousands of people have read Glennon Melton’s post “Don’t Carpe Diem,” and a good number of them have shared, liked or otherwise publicized that post.  For good reason.  Ms. Melton’s post was well written and poignant and, most importantly, it resonated with a decent-sized chunk of the population.  For those who haven’t read the post and aren’t interested in doing so now, the point was simply that parents are often made to feel as if they are doing something wrong if they don’t enjoy every moment of parenthood.  When I talk about parenting, I almost always find myself saying, “We’re loving every minute of it!”  I then immediately launch into a clarifying monologue about how we’re not actually loving every minute of it.  At the moment our kids are 2.5 and nearly 5.  It would be tempting to describe the 2.5 year old’s mood swings as borderline psychotic, but I fear that would be offensive to schizophrenics and people with bipolar disorder.  And the five year old?  Well, let’s just say she’s independent and strong-willed — attributes I like to think are indicative of her exceptional intelligence.  So, when Ms. Melton voiced the thought that no parent actually enjoys every moment, parents of young children across the globe raised a collective, “AMEN!”

However, I really wish she had found another name for her post.  (Then again, every time I see someone reaching MuchAdo because they’ve searched for “she put what up where” — which happens WAY more frequently than you might imagine — I question my own naming prowess.)  No doubt many of those thousands and thousands of readers will forget the underlying premise of her post — the need to stop and enjoy the truly great moments that come with parenthood and lose the guilt over the feelings of annoyance, or irritability, or outright rage that come with the many less-than-great moments — and simply walk away with the notion that not seizing the day really resonated with them.

The phrase that Horace coined has nothing to do with loving every moment in life, but rather embracing life — recognizing and enjoying the abundant wonderful moments and not mortgaging the present in hope of the future.  Life is complicated.  Most of us work hard, and are always working toward something.  It is far too easy to focus on those goals and lose the moment.  We focus on careers in order to create a better future for our children, but often at the expense of the moments we could be enjoying now.  We become hyper-focused on parenting — making sure our children know right from wrong, that they shouldn’t speak to strangers, that they should speak to strangers when Mommy and Daddy tell them to, that cursing is something Daddy shouldn’t have done but did anyway, etc. — often sacrificing the bonding moments for the teaching moments.  Of course, the teaching moments are important, and any parent who abandons the teaching moments whenever a bonding moment is to be had will soon regret that choice.

But each of us should strive to recognize and internalize each of life’s many golden moments and bask in that pretty light.  This year will mark the 27th anniversary of my mother’s death and the 38th anniversary of my father’s.  Being faced at an early age with the impermanence of life may have been the greatest gift my parents ever gave me.  I am acutely aware — often to my detriment — that life is a series of peaks and valleys.  When I find myself on the mountaintop, I try with every ounce of resolve I am able to muster to enjoy the view because I know it won’t last forever.  I often fail.  I often overcorrect — wondering why my time on the mountaintop has lasted as long as it has and fretting over when I will be plunged into the valley again.  But rarely a day passes when I don’t thank God for the many blessings I have been given.

That, to me, is the essence of carpe diem.  Don’t pretend to enjoy every moment, but make sure you enjoy all the moments that matter.  Oh, and stop cursing in front of your children.

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Top Ten Super Bowl 2012 Predictions

Inspired by Senator Jon Kyl’s dogged insistence on accuracy and fact-finding, the research staff at MuchAdo has meticulously combed through 40+ years of data and analysis to compile the following list of predictions for Super Bowl 2012.

1. Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth will read dozens of promotions for NBC shows like Smash and The Voice and The Biggest Loser with all the enthusiasm of a glossophobic delivering a eulogy.

2. Hardcore fans of both the New York Giants and the New England Patriots will be decidedly more coherent after several cocktails than they were before.  This does not include Boston Mayor Tom Menino.

3. Regardless of which team wins, Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady, will spend the next year atoning for making super model wife, Gisele Bundchen, go to Indianapolis.  Millions of men across the planet will still wish they were him.

4. Watching Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end, Brett Keisel, shave his beard will be significantly more entertaining than all but three of the $3.5M+ commercials.

Bearderrific!!!

5. Dozens of viewers will require medical attention after trying to determine whether Madonna’s plastic surgery, the performers from Cirque du Soleil, or Cee Lo Green’s outfit is the most disturbing part of the Super Bowl halftime show.  They will be thankful come Monday morning when they are the only people in America not singing “Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, yeah!” following LMFAO’s performance.

What? This Old Thing?

6. Neither a Super Bowl win nor a Super Bowl loss will make Rob Gronkowski more intelligent or better at speaking Spanish.  Either one will make him more attractive to porn stars.

7. You will consider, but ultimately resist, force-feeding Cheez Whiz and Buffalo wings to that one annoying party guest who feels compelled to say, “Isn’t there anything healthy to eat at this party?!?”  You will have made the wrong choice.

8. Giants coach Tom Coughlin and Patriots coach Bill Belichick will scowl.  A lot.  [Ed. Note: In all fairness to the research staff at MuchAdo, coming up with ten whole things isn’t as easy as it seems.]

9. Baltimore Ravens kicker, Billy Cundiff, will spend the entire Super Bowl praying that Patriot’s kicker, Stephen Gostkowski, or Giants kicker, Lawrence Tynes, shank a gimme worse than his AFC Championship gaff so people will stop referring to boneheaded mistakes as “Cundiffs.”

10. Someone will feel compelled to read this blog post aloud at a critical moment during the Super Bowl, and they will be hoisted on the shoulders of their friends and lauded as a hero.  Seriously.

Community Organizing . . . Kinda Like Obama, but Not Really

When I started MuchAdo, I gave absolutely no thought to a MuchAdo community.  At that time, the only “community” I envisioned  on MuchAdo was sitting across the room from me doing a crossword puzzle.  It turns out that there are a decent number of you reading MuchAdo (well, a decent number compared to one), and the best part of this experience, by far, has been the (mostly) kind words from people reading my silly posts.  Well, that, and reading the search terms that sometimes land people on MuchAdo.  (Suffice it to say I am second guessing my decision to name a post “She Put What Where?!?“)

So, in the name of community building, I’ve added some options for folks who are interested in following MuchAdo.  Just click on the “Instant Happiness” button (you’ll see it if you’re logged in to your WordPress account) or enter your e-mail address on the right side of the page (if you’re not logged in or don’t have a WordPress account).  Plus, if you like what you’ve been reading, I’d love for you to share MuchAdo with others.  It has been somewhat shocking to me how many complete strangers have found MuchAdo and stuck around to read a bunch of posts (especially when they were looking for something MuchAdo clearly isn’t offering).  If you want to refer readers to the site, you can give them the address (http://muchado.me) or click on the Facebook, Twitter or Press This buttons at the end of each post. 

Finally, feel free to leave comments on the site.  I’ve gotten a lot of feedback outside of the site, but it would be great to see more comments on MuchAdo.  Something tells me the MuchAdo readers (seriously, I’m pretty sure there’s more than one) will enjoy interacting.  Something also tells me that I may regret encouraging this behavior, but isn’t that what the internet is all about — making regrettable decisions for the whole world to see?

Thanks for reading.  I’ve really enjoyed this whole blogging experience and look forward to hearing more from you, the MuchAdo community!

Joel Stein* Reads This Blog . . .

A Mulletted The Joel Stein

That’s right. Joel Stein, general funny guy and frequent contributor to Time Magazine, the Los Angeles Times and a number of other A-list publications, reads this blog. The Joel Stein. Or possibly The Guy Who Responds To Joel Stein’s E-mail (let’s call him “TGWRTJSE”). Now, I would love to tell you that TGWRTJSE just happened to hear about MuchAdo while standing around the writer’s workshop (that’s a thing, right?). Or that the internet buzz about MuchAdo has reached a fever pitch. And I would really love to tell you that I did not, in an act of supreme douchery, write to The Joel Stein simply because his e-mail address (or rather TGWRTJSE’s e-mail address) is prominently displayed on his website, www.TheJoelStein.com. Sadly, that is exactly what I did.

Unfortunately, not being an e-mail-a-celebrity kind of guy, I had very little that I actually wanted to say to The Joel Stein (or to TGWRTJSE). However, it occurred to me that given his penchant for the funny, The Joel Stein might actually send a funny response to an e-mail from a random stranger (is there any other kind of stranger?). Or that he might be prone to hire someone who would send a funny response to an e-mail from a random stranger. (What is the opposite of a random stranger anyway? A particular stranger?)

I suspect I would feel like far less of a tool had I written what I imagine is the standard fan letter. (“Gee, Mr. Stein, I think you’re super neat.”) Instead, I proceeded to tell The Joel Stein (or TGWRTJSE) that after a week of writing a blog I was prepared to stand in for him should he need a week off from Time Magazine. I may also have implied that doing so would be a major step back in my career (which is to say that I said exactly that). But, TGWRTJSE being the class act that he is, responded with the following message:

I enjoyed your site. It’s full of stuff about art and photography and smart people stuff. Therefore, I will not let my editors know about you in case they want to replace me with something smart.

Joel

Decidedly nicer than, “Dear Condescending Ass, Your writing is amateurish and formulaic. Joel,” wouldn’t you say? I won’t fault TGWRTJSE for not getting past the home page of MuchAdo (let’s just say that the traffic patterns of MuchAdo are not all that hard to divine at this stage of its development). I’m just happy that he stopped by, read a few of the category topics, and sent a nice message. And I choose to believe that The Joel Stein, either as a result of having one too many margaritas or because he lost a bet with TGWRTJSE, will visit MuchAdo (again). So, Joel, if you’re reading this, thanks for the nice message. And the offer still stands, I’d be happy to stand in for you any time. I promise not to write anything smart.

[Note: The Joel Stein’s new book, “Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity” comes out May 15th. You might want to buy a copy.]

The Supremely Talented Cecilia Paredes

Every now and then you come across an artist producing works that just make you scratch your head. (In a good way — as in, “How does she do that?” or “Why does she do that?” or “Why am I so remarkably untalented?”) Cecilia Paredes is one of those artists for me. Check out her series of camouflage self portraits and note the part of the linked article that says Paredes “paints her own body” for these images. Taking the photos would be an accomplishment. Painting the model would be astonishing. Painting, posing and photographing yourself? Crazy! I cannot imagine the time and patience (not to mention the talent) it takes to complete any one of these images. Check her out!

20120124-232615.jpg

Cecilia Paredes “Siren in the Sea of Roses” 2011

A Few of My (Least) Favorite Things . . . (Part 2)

Dear Passenger Behind Me in the Parking Lot,

Hey, I’m just writing to make sure you’re not upset with me.  It seems you may have misunderstood my intentions this afternoon.  I assure you that I meant no harm as I backed up to let another driver pull out of her space.  It seems that your boyfriend/husband/friend was in a hurry to get somewhere.  No doubt there was a snow emergency that could only be resolved by a Jeep Grand Cherokee plow.  I’ll admit that I’ve never seen a Jeep Grand Cherokee with a plow attached, so it may be that I violated some Soccer Mom Plowing Association’s code of conduct in my attempt to be gracious to another driver.  If so, I am deeply sorry.

But clearly I did something to upset you.   I thought it was nice of your boyfriend/husband/friend to abandon his attempt to pass me once he recognized that doing so might slightly inconvenience the poor woman pulling out of her space. No doubt when you drive a plow, you become acutely aware of the positives and negatives of driving your plow into the side of a car.  I’m assuming the negatives outweigh the positives, but I’ll admit that is just a guess.  Now, you might be worried that I was irritated by the fact that you stopped in a way that prohibited me from backing up further, but the truth is, the woman backing out had plenty of room to perform a 14 point turn.  And anyway, what’s life without a few challenges, right!

However, when you got out of the Grocery Getter Plow and called me an “a$$hole,” it occurred to me that you may have been upset.  I want you to know that I did not take it personally.  As I said, I’m quite sure I did something wrong.  Could it be that the woman I was letting out drives a Subaru Forrester with a plow attached?  Oh my, I certainly hope I didn’t give your arch plowing enemy a head start!  By the way, if you are at all worried that I am upset, do not give it a second thought.  In fact, I was quite happy for you.  Based on the way you tottered out of the cab of the “plow” and back in again, it looked as if you got quite a cardiovascular workout (not to mention the increased heart rate you were probably experiencing from the apparent anger), and I think the medical experts will come to the conclusion some day that that’s a good thing. So good for you on getting a leg up (slowly, but that’s OK) on that one.  And if you are at all concerned that your boyfriend/husband/friend was at all mortified by your behavior, I say, “Pshaw!”  I would guess a little guy like that is quite literally incapable of escaping the thought that he has been given more than he could ever have prayed for with a girlfriend/wife/friend like you!

Watch This Now . . .

This behind the scenes video of  a commercial shoot for Canon Pixma printers is nothing short of stunning.  It is amazing what they did with a super high speed camera outfitted with a macro lens.  Did I mention one of the guys in the video has the title “Biochemist / Photography?”  I don’t even know if that’s a thing, but I think it’s kinda cool.  It’s three-and-a-half minutes I think you’ll find was well spent if you are at all into photography.  Or cool stuff.  Or “ink explosions.”  Or spinning cameras.  If none of that floats your boat, I’m sorry, but there’s nothing I can do for you.