Liz Wolfe | listening
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I just threw away $75 in Borders gift cards. Before ultimately admitting defeat, I had confidently gone to barnesandnoble.com to redeem them. I recalled that B&N had taken over when Borders had gone out of business, so I assumed that they would accept my gift cards. Boy, was I wrong. Annoyed, but still determined, I did some internet research to see if anyone would accept them, or if I was in fact out of luck. The only results that seemed to surface were accounts of people who were also looking to redeem their cards, and the answer was always the same: NO. In the midst of my research, I chanced upon an article published on a financial advice site that was encouraging people to redeem their cards back when Borders was initially going out of business. The article was written in 2009. Really? I had had those gift cards on my desk for more than three years?

A hot cup of coffee. Crispy, almost burnt toast. An uncomfortable sense that I’m already behind in my day. The only thing missing in this flashback to my childhood is the sound of bleating lambs coming from the basement, awaiting their breakfast. I half expect my mother to turn the corner into the room, berating me for still lingering at the table instead of mixing up their vanilla-smelling milk concoction, made from powered Real Imitation Milk.

I ended 2013 uncharacteristically grumpy. I felt on the brink of tears or anger for much of the last couple of weeks of the year, without really being able to identify why. I found it depressing to look back at the year, knowing I didn’t accomplish all I wanted to, finding small solace in the few milestones that I could recollect. I’m not quite sure where I think I should be by now, but my feeling of dissatisfaction lingered and made me an unpleasant person to be around.

A hot topic in the news these days is why the “1%” have such a disproportionately large amount of accumulated wealth in comparison to other 99%. Perhaps you’ve seen the video that went viral (almost 7 million views to date) that demonstrates this with impressive graphics and mind-boggling statistics.

Growing up, my father, two sisters, and I took many road trips to visit relatives for summer vacations. I remember spending long hours in the car reading, singing, playing or just looking out the window as the cornfields went by. Because of these fond memories, I looked forward to having children of my own, packing up, and hitting the road on some adventures. One husband and two children later, I have had a few fun road trips with them, though they don’t quite look as I imagined them to be. For one thing, while my children are avid readers, they expect that on a trip of any length that they will be watching DVDs. As a result, not a lot of scenery watching happens. Also, it occurs to me that perhaps they are not quite as enamored with the journey as the ultimate destination.

When I was a child, we had a family friend who we would often visit on Saturdays. They had a wonderful big old house, and being scholarly types, had bookshelves full of books. There weren’t many there that were kid friendly, but one day I came upon a hardbound collection of Wonder Woman comics. I would spend hours poring over the stories of this amazing and heroic woman. In later years, when Lynda Carter starred as Wonder Woman in a TV series, I felt like I knew her personally.

My mother used to say, “It’s always something.” I’ve been looking forward to going upstate for quite a while. Jon and I both took extra measures to prepare for the trip so that things would go smoothly and we could make that oft sought after early departure. As a self-admitted “time optimist” I’ve historically been caught running around, crazed and harried, while tensions mount between me and my family members. I was bound and determined to break from this historical experience today.

My husband Jon’s grandparents lived right around the corner from him while he was growing up, and I was lucky to have met Jon while they were still alive. During the early years of my relationship with Jon, it was a form of entertainment to go to his grandparents’ house and have them show us their collections. This was not your average every day collecting. This was extreme collecting. Salt and pepper shakers. Shot glasses. Drop crystals. Little figurines. Beer mugs. Dolls. China. Linens. You name it, they had it -- or 10 of it.