How To Be An Optimist

There’s a saying: We make plans; God laughs.

Whether or not you believe in God, truth of the matter is that we’re not in control of our lives. If you think you are, just wait. One day you’ll see what I’m talking about. Certainly we have to make plans and decisions to tackle day-to-day life, but occasionally the gods/stars/planets/marshmallows fall out of line and all goes astray. Marshmallows? Ok, who knows what has to align, but how you respond to unfortunate situations is what really matters.

It is possible that once or twice in mylifetime I might have been accused of being a pessimist. Only in the last few years (under the loving tutelage of my husband) have I learned how to turn limes into margaritas. In the past three years, we have spent about six months in Costa Rica. In the past few weeks, I have had several chances to whip up a pitcher of optimism.

Let me offer you a taste test:

1) If you hate tarantulas, but happen to find a fine example of one in your bathroom when you are home alone, killing it with a broom handle will give you an enormous sense of accomplishment.
2) If you have trouble digesting gluten, you will find that a caveman’s diet (meat and fruits and vegetables) is very healthy. Man lived like this for thousands of years–yes, without pizza or beer.
3) If you create anything (e.g., a novel) on a computer, and said computer gets stolen, you will learn the absolute necessity of backing up your work.
4) If said thieves steal ALL your electronics, but spare your life and limbs, you are one lucky sonofabitch.
5) Once said thieves have fractured your sense of goodness in the world, you will learn to be safer and smarter. In fact, you will learn to hire a security guard with a shotgun.
6) If you love, love, love to sit quietly in the morning, sipping amazingly delicious coffee while over looking the Pacific Ocean, but said security guard wants to tell you all about his life and his country-in Spanish–because he has spent the last 12 hours walking the perimeter of your villa while you watched David Letterman in subtitles and got eight refreshing hours of sleep, then you will learn that your guard might be the best Spanish teacher you will ever have.
7) If you wake up one morning to the smell of smoke from the wildfires approaching your villa, you will learn how the infrastructure of a country such as Costa Rica actually works: Do it yourself, and help your neighbors. What did you think the damn garden hoses were for anyway?
And lastly,
8 ) If you think that The Good Life involves a villa, an ocean, tropical weather, and tequila, you will learn that there’s no place like home. AND, all of the above can be excellent material for your next novel.

Adios, Costa Rica.

Seven Things

Seven Things

Oh how do I get myself into messes like this? A dear, dear friend (i.e. An innocent Twitter acquaintance who I beat out in a live LitChat auction and have felt an obligation to ever since) tagged me for a chain mail list: Seven Things You Don’t Already Know About Me. So here goes… in no particular order.

1. I love office supplies, specifically pens and pencils. It’s an abnormal thing that goes back at least to 2nd grade when I used to steal the big, fat chalk from my school. Perhaps I should have known decades ago that I was meant to be a writer.

2. I say all the time that I hate TV, and yet I watch way too much of it. I deserve ridicule.

3. I would never admit to farting in public (please see the list of aforementioned dear friend Kelcey McKinley). If I were alone in a room, and let out a stinky one, then someone else walked in, I would try to describe the horrific decayed animal I had just found and disposed of the minute before they walked in.

4. When I was ten years old, I owned a horse named Brandy. The cowboy who worked on the ranch where I kept it used to sing the song “Brandy” to me, and I was in love with him.

5. Number 4 was about the same time that I used to eat every spec of an apple—core, seeds, stem—just to gain attention from other little girls who also had horses. And once, I carried a huge western saddle 6 blocks to school at lunch time. It weighed the same as me.

6. My motivation for becoming a famous writer is so that I can buy a house in Santa Barbara.

7. That whole Karma, what-goes-around-comes-around thing better be true now that I played along with this If You Don’t Do This You Will Go To Hell list. Of course, this is the first one I’ve ever done; I usually delete them immediately. So maybe I hope it’s not true…