Saturday, February 26, 2011

24-Hour Town Has Its Perks

Another installment in my quest to find the best of Las Vegas.

I say I want the quiet life that a small town offers; a place where you can see the sky darken naturally;

not one neon lit so that the stars hardly shine.

But I have to say, when I do find myself living off the grid I know it will be a culture shock and one that will take a little getting used to.

Living in a large town, especially one that boasts that it never sleeps, I have gotten used to the convenience of things. I’m a night-owl, but I do like the idea that if I need something, say cold medicine or a bite to satisfy a craving, I can find it at any given hour of the day. Just last week I decided to check out the neighborhood thrift stores. It was 7:30 PM. There are three close to my house: two Goodwills and Deseret. I knew Goodwill stayed open until nine, but I didn’t expect the Mormon-operated store to be, but it was. And I wasn’t the only one on the lookout for good deals; all three stores were packed with shoppers.

Just another example of what I’ll miss when it comes time for me to Leave Las Vegas.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Dream Weaver

The past few mornings I’ve awoken with the remnants of my dreams still fresh in my sleepy mind. I’ve been having some doozy dreams, too; they are vivid and really “out there.”               

One was inspired I’m sure, by my DVRing of the Johnny Depp, Helen Bonham Carter film, Alice in Wonderland. Another, by glimpsing a cover story of England’s Prince William and his bride-to-be; the dream had me surrounded by English people. Well, that dream could also be sparked by my college lectures; I’m teaching students about the American Revolution. Whatever the case, I’m logging some really interesting dreamtime and enjoying every slumbering minute.

As is the case with most dreams, I work out lots of everyday issues and psychological distress while I’m asleep. For a really long time I dreamt about my grandmother’s house. I was lost inside and couldn’t find my way out; I went from room to room looking for something. I used to have flying dreams but they stopped long ago and I miss them. The dreams I have when I’m under a lot of stress are not in the least bit helpful; in fact, they cause me to wake up more stressed than ever. These dreams have me remembering that I have animals in cages in my yard that I have forgotten to feed and clean. Hundreds of animals await my attention and the guilt I feel at neglecting them has me tossing a turning as I attempt to check on their welfare.

I keep a notebook close at hand to write the details of dreams I remember, especially those I believe have a message for me. Just like my decades-old journal, I can reread my notes about dreams I had years ago and am able to recall them as if they were dreamt the night before.

I wonder what purpose my documentation of my life and dreams serve? Perhaps when I’m an old lady I’ll find comfort in the memories I’ve chronicled, both conscious and unconscious. I doubt anyone but me will care about them; I don’t expect them to be enshrined in any museum when I’m long gone.

No, my dreams and thoughts serve only me, allowing me the opportunity to enter a time machine of my own making and relive moments that are I would otherwise have long forgotten.  I'll keep writing them as long as they keep visiting me, and maybe someday their messages will be easy to interpret.  In the meantime, I'm enjoying the escape.  Dream on. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Happy 100th Post to Me - and a new idea!

As many of my blog readers know, I’ve been planning on an exodus from Las Vegas.

Just read past posts like "Happiness is in the Eye of the Beholder" and "There's no Place Like Home".

I would have thought it would have happened by now; I told my husband when we purchased our current home, “Fine! I’ll move there but we are only staying 2 years!” That was six years ago, come this May. With the current economic status and the housing market, it doesn’t look like we are getting out of town any time soon. So, I’ve made my mind up to find the best of Las Vegas and learn to appreciate it as my, I can’t believe I’m saying this, home town.

It’s not that I don’t know how the great things about Las Vegas, I do; it’s just it’s not the kind of place I ever saw myself in for long. But, here I am and ever the optimist, I've decided to find out the best of Las Vegas. Negativity has never been my style and I expect this project will improve my attitude significantly and make the waiting much easier to bear.

I came up with this idea months ago and have gone a few adventures since. My intent was to start another blog, one titled “Leaving Las Vegas: the best of what I’m leaving behind” or something like that. However, the prospect of starting a whole new blog and keeping up on it just didn’t appeal to me. In fact, I started to hyperventilate, a condition I am prone to when I get overwhelmed with gotta-dos. Instead of a separate blog, I am going to add a blog a week (or two, we’ll see how it goes) exclusively for highlighting Las Vegas and its hidden treasures.

It is appropriate, as well, as this blog posting is my 100th post! That’s cause for celebration because I have a really hard time sticking with things; just read my post, ADHD and My Family Tree.  As I hope to have a book written and published sometime before my foot step into my grave, this blog was, and is, a way for me to approach the work in small, do-able bites. Once again I have a great friend who believes in me to thank for pushing me to write a blog, check out this talented, funny, and generous women, Linda Lou. She’s a hoot and saw something in me that I couldn’t see myself; talent and something worthwhile to say. I told Linda that she is going to be at the top of my book’s acknowledgment page, a promise I hope to keep soon.

Now that I’ve rambled on and on, it’s time to share a few of my Las Vegas experiences. Stay tuned for more to come. 

Great band playing at the Paris Hotel and Casino, 10-2010
Meeting Mr. Tony Curtis (June, 2010).  He kissed my hand!
Getting invited to see The Shades of Sinatra tribute group, 2-2011
Night before Halloween on the Las Vegas Strip - really!


Sunday, February 6, 2011

The "What Ifs" of Life

Life is chock full of “what ifs.”

At present I am in southern California, a place I called home for ten years when I migrated here from my home in western New York. I spend a lot of time here in Simi Valley and Moorpark, where I lived on over 30 acres of open land before it became a city park backed by a major shopping center. Every time I come for a visit I am reminded of my years here and sometimes wish I still called California home. What if, I often wonder, I had been able to come up with the money to purchase the land before it was developed in the name of progress? I can tell you that the money that was so hard to come by back then in the late 1980s would have quadrupled by now. Only if I’d not been too poor!
My girls in the yard of our Moorpark home, circa 1983
It’s easy to look back over one’s life and question the choices we’ve made. Regrets, in my opinion, are a waste of time; but reflection is a worthy activity.

I’ve had people ask me, “what if your parents had lived?” To that I’m pretty sure of my answer: I would no doubt be a devoted daughter still living in the same small town that I was born in. I come to that conclusion based on seeing my cousins doing just that. Although I seem to have inherited my mother’s gregarious nature, I am pretty sure I would not have strayed too far from home. But, who knows?
Batavia, New York
When I was trying to get into the exclusive Exotic Animal Training and Management Program at Moorpark College, it was more chance than determination that saw me succeed. I was in Spokane, Washington at the time the letter inviting me for an interview arrived at my New York address, so I was not aware I needed to respond before my spot was taken. The assistant director of the program, Lynne Doria, was just about to do just that when she happened to mention me, someone she didn’t even know, to her then-boyfriend, a guy who happened to come from Buffalo, New York, same as me. He prodded her to “give the girl another chance.” The second notice made it to me; I got my interview and my spot in the program. What if I’d missed that shot? All I can say is I am so grateful to that man I’ve never met.

Performiing in EATM's Big Top Circus, 1979

What ifs can drive you crazy!

What if I’d been born an Afghanistan woman, not a free American?

What if the guy who offered me a ride that I naively accepted on a walk home from school in junior high, who reached over and stroked my leg hadn’t stopped and let me out when I said, “That’s my house! Let me out!”?

What if I’d never allowed my first husband to convince me to marry him? I would not have the two amazing women who made me a proud Mom in my life. Nor would their offspring be here to give me great joy.

What if I had not trusted myself enough to go back to school? Would I fall back on being a waitress for the rest of my life? I know I wouldn’t be writing. I would not have the opportunity to research and teach, as I am doing now. The choice to put myself out there with the risk of failure was frightening, but oh, the benefits I’ve reaped.

Yes, what ifs are fun to reflect upon and provide a wonderful opportunity to see life’s journey from then until now. There are, to be sure, moments I wish I could take back, roads I almost wish I’d traveled, but as I mentioned I don’t believe in regrets. And, hey, there are a lot more choices ahead of me where I can contemplate future “what ifs.”

For everything you have missed, you have gained something else.
Ralph Waldo Emerson