Thursday, December 23, 2004

‘The perfect gift?’ It’s a stretch

What do you get for the woman who has everything? And what if that woman is your mother?

That was the challenge facing Mrs. Zoom and I this holiday season. We started out by asking ourselves what Mom needed. The answer was: not too bloody much. Mom is not wealthy, but neither is she currently suffering. We’ve spent the last few years adding to various collections she has built up, but really — how many teddy bears, stuffed dogs and heart-shaped charms does one really need? And then, my wife the genius came up with a great plan.

We would surprise Mom, it was decided, with dinner at Capisce, a swanky Italian restaurant at the top of our 30-story Hilton. We would follow that up with a limousine ride through downtown Springfield, as Mom has never ridden in a limo before.

The plan went off without a hitch. We had a lovely dinner (supplemented with two bottles of Chardonnay) and a magnificent ride (complemented with two bottles of champagne). By the time we tipped the driver and sent the white 2003 stretch to Mom’s house, Mom was lit. I was happy to contribute, as Mom has been intoxicated perhaps three times in the last 12 years.

Of course, this led to one of the funnier verbal missteps of the evening.

When Mom got home, she called us and thanked us profusely. I let her know it was principally Becky’s idea, which led Mom to declare, “Now I know you REALLY love me!”

What makes this funny rather than tragic is that Mrs. Zoom and my mom actually have a pretty decent in-law relationship. At any rate, it’s much better than the traditional wife/meddling mother-in law archetype. I’m sure my mom KNEW my wife loved her. It was the Chardonnay-and-champagne cocktail talking.

Still, when Mom made her proclamation, my wife couldn’t resist the temptation to roll her eyes a bit, while I mimed a Homer Simpson head slap.

Speakerphone is a wonderful thing.

Happy holidays.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

E-mails of the dead

Dead Marine's kin plead for e-mail

Wow. I really don't know how to feel about this one. I know Yahoo is going to take a PR hit for this, but they really have a point. And what if there's something in his e-mails the Marine in question would never have wanted his family to know? Tough times lead to tough calls.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

His suit's red for a reason

MSNBC contributor Erik Lundegaard offers up this shocking revelation: Santa Claus is a Republican and conservatives are using Hollywood to cram a message of faith down our throats during the holidays. How dare they?

Monday, December 13, 2004

If you're down-and-out, look down .. and out

I had to come to work early this morning. I was consulting on a video shoot for which I had penned the script. The video was to be delivered by two of our marketing honchos from the 6th-floor office of our Chief Marketing Officer.

The darkness of early morning combined with a bitter winter wind did nothing to lift my spirits as I made the five-block roll to work. Neither did the fairly extensive rewrite we had to make once I arrived. But as I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, I happened to glance out the CMO’s picture window. The darkness was giving away to a pre-dawn gloaming, and the cityscape, dotted with twinkling lights, was shifting from nothingness to silhouette to full view. I was awestruck.

It’s not that Springfield, Ill., has breathtaking scenery (although when she’s dressed up for Christmas, the old girl has the charm of an elderly woman dressed in her finest Sunday go-to-meetin’ clothes). But I’ve always found that an aerial view of the city gives me an immediate sense of peace. I’ve pondered why, and the only thing I can come up is that a bird’s-eye view reminds me that, no matter the chaos in my life, the world keeps on moving along. Traffic rolls on, day turns to night turns to day, and thousands of ant-sized people keep on making a living.

So if you’re overwhelmed, might I suggest elevating your perspective. If you’re afraid of heights, I suppose you’re screwed. But what better time to get over it?

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Red or blue -- it's all about the green

This really ticks me off.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t check my ethics at the door when I go shopping. If I ate tuna, it would only be dolphin-safe tuna. And I don’t want to support a company that has unsafe or unfair labor practices.

But come on … withholding business from a company because of the political party it supports? That makes about as much sense to me as refusing to enjoy the talents of Green Day or The Dixie Chicks because of their political views. Heck … perhaps I should start asking for proof of party registration before I befriend someone.

Of course, this is America, and you have the right to support your political party through your purchases. That’s the beauty of a free-market economy.

Just don’t complain about the polarization of our country when you’re checking your receipts to see if they’re “red” or “blue.”

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

About this blog

When I was young, and idealism and wit flowed in and out of my body like oxygen and carbon dioxide, I wrote a column for my college newspaper called Intro to Sykesology. Behind the oh-so-clever title lurked … well … some oh-so-clever articles that, as I look back on it now, were prototype blog entries. I was bright-eyed and ready to take on the heavy issues: why Valentine’s Day sucked, how aliens used squirrels to spread campus gossip … the important stuff. I thought, I wrote, I was published, and it was good.

Fast forward 14 years. I’m staring at my bedroom ceiling wondering exactly how someone who leaves college determined to write The Next Great American Novel ends up writing envelope stuffers extolling the virtues of auto insurance. Have I surrendered my dream? Or will I be satisfied with the horseshoe approach to life fulfillment: I’m writing for a living, and that’s close enough?

And then, I think of the Chinese New Year wish I buried early last year – the first time I ever celebrated a Chinese New Year. “I want to make a living writing about things I enjoy.”

It’s a good wish, and it’s too early for me to give up on it. And, maybe this blog is my way of rediscovering the joy of writing.

At the very least, it’s an excuse to drag that oh-so-clever column name out of the attic. Welcome to Graduate Level Sykesology. Let’s roll.