Sometimes I try to live like Oprah. You know, “fully aware”, “present in the moment”, “living my best life”, and all that jazz. I’ve done visualization to lose weight, (SEE yourself thin), practiced escaping from home invaders (don’t fight over personal belongings; if the bad guy wants the toaster, give it to him- but first, eat your bagel) and of course, I practiced Oprah 101: I read “The Secret.” “The Secret” is all about thanking the universe, God, the sun- whatever your deity of choice, for the good things in your life. Then asking said deity for more good things.
If you have a crappy life, try another book.
The idea is to focus on the happy and ignore the sad. I was mostly happy. Until I wasn’t. To recap: closed successful business, aimlessly roamed the house while eating bread and chocolate during the day and used the grapes in Cabernet Sauvignon as a dietary supplement. Oh, and my Grandmother died. I was unemployed, lonely, fat, in mourning and had a hangover. That about sums it up. The jury was in: I needed FUN. I’ve suffered before. Suffer Lite, I call it. Pain from too much exercise, pain from general irritation and pain from childbirth. (I had C-sections sponsored by morphine. Don’t hate me.) This pain was different. It came on slow, but had the power to swallow me up. It was a silent pain and the worst part was I was getting used to the feeling. We were alone together all day, just me and Low. Low can be company. Not good company, as it turns out. Any company that has you alone, lingering over the knife drawer while contemplating a warm ciabatta is a sign. Other signs: your local baker knows you and offers to name a cupcake after you because of your spending habits. Also, if your actual nickname is ‘cupcake.’ I may have
learned heard about this.
It was time for some fun.
Immediately after the ciabatta incident I got down on my knees and did the Full-on-Secret schpeel. In the kitchen and facing the setting sun I said “God, I don’t know what I am supposed to be doing right now. I just know that things are harder than they need to be and I’ll take the next fun thing and run with it. Oh, and thank you for keeping the planet safe from nuclear annihilation.” Don’t forget the gratitude. Oprah says the universe loves it.
Sometimes, though, The Secret doesn’t work right away. You have to wait. I waited a baguette laden month until a random Tuesday when Spencer, one of our twins, asked “Mom, can I get a hamster?” My initial reaction was Ewwww….rodents. I’ll pass. But then I remembered that I needed fun, and what could be better than a big fuzzy mouse? Also, I made a promise to the universe and I’m pretty sure it keeps track.
Suddenly, I was excited. I don’t know that I was having fun exactly, but it was a start. I brushed the breadcrumbs off my shirt and we jumped in the car and headed to the local Petco. The smell in Petco is nasty. It’s a strange reptile, aquarium, unwashed people with groomed dogs smell. But I breathed out my nose and in my mouth because it was in the name of fun. Spencer knew exactly where the hamsters were and within 15 seconds had staked his claim. “This one is mine.” The hamster looked like Chris Farley. Other hamster shoppers were milling around and my competitive streak kicked in. “Boys, stay here and guard, I’ll get the hamster lady.” I eyed a man and his daughter drawn to Spencer’s hamster and gave them an intimidating look. Hey Buddy, go buy a fish. Oh my God, did I just say that out loud? It’s a good thing I’m having fun. Parker, twin #2 picked a hamster also and we spent, dare I say- a fun hour choosing cages, cardboard shavings, food and exercise wheels. $182.35 later and I was having even more fun. Although it could have been shoppers-high.
Once we got home I was surprised how doting Spencer and Parker were. They had listened carefully to the Hamster Lady’s instructions and constructed their cages with care. Spencer named his: Tobias Hamster (with a silent H, apparently he’s Spanish). Parker chose a girl and named her Loretta. Besides the fact that one was Spanish and the other Italian, the differences between the hamsters was immediately evident. Tobias is a teddy bear hamster. All fuzz and impossible to resist. Loretta looks like Rachel Maddow. Once they were in their new habitats Tobias quickly went to his wheel, spun himself silly for an hour, ate with abandon and promptly fell asleep in his food bowl. He was a disheveled, adorable mess. Loretta didn’t have time to play on her wheel. First, she investigated every corner of her cage, presumably checking for safety hazards. After lowering the readiness alert to DEFCON 5, she loaded her cheeks with dried corn, buried them away from possible intruders, then made a nest of shavings high up in her plastic treehouse. Loretta was all business, but Tobias- Tobias was having fun. The twins and I were sucked into their little hamster world and watched them all night.
Trevor, our seventeen-year old came home late. He seemed to be relieved, finding me with a book, instead of sharpening the bread knives. After checking out the twin’s room, he ducked his chin and raised his eyebrows at me. “What the heck are those things? Did you just decide, ‘Today we’re getting hamsters?'” In a flash I realized that my lifetime of planning every detail showed the kids that I wasn’t up for spontaneity. That’s no good. I had to show them that when things get hard, and they will- that you can’t wait for an invitation to be happy. I was going to be more like Tobias and less like Loretta.
Sometimes you just have to party hard and fall asleep in the food bowl. Maybe that’s the secret.
“Yeah.” I said to Trevor, “get on the fun train.”
Author’s Note: At this writing bread has been banished in favor of apples. They may be in a pie, but it’s a start.