The prodigal son returns. And he is hairy.

by Lorin Michel Thursday, August 18, 2011 10:37 PM

Justin and his beard returned from New York late last night. We picked him up at LAX around 9:30. He was supposed to land at 9:37; United brought him in early. Probably because they knew we were missing him and were waiting patiently. The flight landed and Justin sent a text: “just landed in CA!” We were already circling the airport, which was a disaster even at that hour, especially on the lower level where the arrivals come in. Usually we pick up passengers on the upper level because they haven’t checked bags. Justin was gone for three months; he had bags.

He came walking up to us in jeans and a sweater. It was nearly 100 degrees. He looked like a mountain man, with his hair slightly curly because it’s longer than usual. And a full beard. When he left, it was more scruff. But it’s come in thick and reddish brown. He wasn’t wearing his glasses, which we found out today is because he lost them, and he looked adorable. Handsome. Wonderful.

After a summer in New York, sequestered on Long Island at Gateway Playhouse in Bellport, the prodigal son had returned for two whole days.

Justin and Bethany in New York

Today we spent talking and discussing his future, including his new girlfriend, Bethany, who he seems quite serious about. We’ve talked to her on the phone and she seems lovely. Nice, funny, warm and OK with the fact that Justin’s parents are wild and crazy, that we laugh and joke, and drink wine and simply enjoy life. Even better, he seems to be OK with all of those things, to the point where he actually wants to bring her home to meet us at Thanksgiving.

Once upon a time, we embarrassed him. I’ve never been able to figure out exactly why, other than the fact that we’re parents and we laugh and joke, drink wine and simply enjoy life. I suppose when you’re a teenager, parent embarrass. I’m sure I was embarrassed by mine. Probably because I matured; I grew up.

Justin has grown up, too. Along with his facial hair, he also has a small gray patch on the back of his head, and may actually have the beginnings of hair loss at the crown. But that’s not what makes him older; what makes him older is his attitude. He has plans beyond tomorrow. He has dreams and goals. He understands the concept of future.

Tonight, he went with us wine tasting and shook people’s hands. We got take out and came home, poured a glass of wine and all sat at the table on the patio, beneath the electric lights that line the patio cover, listening to Soundscapes on digital music. We talked about his future, what he wants to do, where he wants to be in life.

Kevin and Justin, when Justin was 8 ... and bleached blonde

I think we’ve done a good job. He seems to finally understand the difference between need and want; he knows what he wants to do. He’s worried about what comes after college. When I asked him what that meant he explained: “When I graduate, I want to know that I have a place to go, a place to work. I don’t care if it’s as master electrician at Gateway but I want to have something secured. I don’t want to be fishing and floundering because it will get me through; I don’t want to be just at a summer stock. I want to be launched.”

We asked him if he wanted to spend time with any of his friends from the OP. He shook his head. He really just wanted to spend time with us, to talk, to enjoy his time at home. It seemed important to him, more this time than at any time before.

Our little boy has grown up. He’s a man, complete with a grown up appreciation and attitude, complete with beard.

When did that happen?

Justin and mom (and Simba), at Disneyland. He was 4.

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In search of happiness

by Lorin Michel Monday, August 1, 2011 10:16 PM

My friend Bobbi and I have this discussion quite often: what is happy and how is it qualified? I don’t mean happy during every minute of every day; that’s simply not normal. But overall. What does it mean to be happy, and if you’re not happy, is it possible to become happy?

It’s such an odd word, happy. It has a flat sound for what it means, unlike joyous which has a lovely, melodic note to it. Happy is to be delighted, pleased or glad. It’s characterized by pleasure and comfort; it can feel fortunate and lucky. It actually came to us from Middle English – not Middle Earth, which was decidedly unhappy – around the mid-14 century and was derived from haphazard, chance and fortune. The Greeks and Irish used it to mean luck, the Welsh to mean wise. I like it to mean contentedness.

Happiness is feeling good about work or a job. It’s about enjoying life, about embracing possibilities. Happiness can be found in spending time with friends and family. It’s a feeling that washes over a situation and a person, leaving behind a feeling that’s calm, sustained, joyous.

Everyone in the world wants to be happy, but if you’re unclear about what you’re looking for, it can be impossible to find. It’s not a particular thing, it’s a feeling, a state of being. It can be exhilarating and peaceful, short term gained from external things and inner happiness that comes from acceptance of self, of living with purpose. Inner happiness is the hardest to find and the one Bobbi and I have spent our conversations discussing because it’s not about what so many think it’s about. It doesn’t matter if one has the newest electronics or car, or all the money in the world. There’s a reason why the saying “money can’t buy happiness” exists. It’s not even about having no worries at all, or lazing around all day in front of the television, or the computer. It’s deeper than that.

What I’ve found is that happiness means waking up every morning to enjoy the day, being grateful for the opportunity to explore that day. I love loving what I do and I like to think that maybe some of it makes a difference. I find happiness in having direction, and purpose, a goal. I find happiness in the way Kevin and I live our lives, together, with laughter and yes, joy. The smallest butterfly alighting a flower can make me happy because it fills me with peace, two squirrels fighting in the trees makes me laugh because it’s real; it’s an honest existence.

I find that the truest form of happiness comes from the soul, not the mind, and it is both a constant search and the exquisite feeling of not needing to search. It comes from choice and change, of finding strength in the positive. It’s satisfaction of self rather than material goods. It is at its core about being happy. It’s not something that can be described; it’s more nebulous. It simply is and when you have it, you know it.

I have great joy in my life, not every minute, but most often. And I choose to live it out loud by celebrating the little happiness-wrapped presents that arrive every day. A cool breeze at night, a great glass of wine, a talk with a friend, a phenomenal book, a tear-stained laugh; the sound of my husband’s voice, his laugh, Justin’s ‘Hi, mom!;” the smell of my dog’s fur. A good conversation with a client, a strong paragraph of writing; Saturdays. If you look and listen and open yourself up, you can find happiness where you left it. Deep inside. That’s where I found mine and where it continues to reside.

The importance of whine

by Lorin Michel Thursday, July 21, 2011 10:10 PM

I think of myself as a fairly positive person. After all, Live It Out Loud is about celebrating something every day. For 150 posts, 150 days, I’ve done just that, and it’s usually easy because I have a good life. I have a husband I adore, a dog who’s adorable – both of whom have an uncanny ability to make me laugh – a son who makes me proud, a family that is fairly normal by family standards, and friends who are amazing. I love what I do, I love the written word and I’m lucky enough to be able to write every day and get paid for it. I work out of my home, I work in shorts. I get to wear flip flops every day if I want. I blog.

But sometimes I need a really good whining session. A bitch, to complain, cry, moan, go emo, gripe, annoy, nag, nag, nag. Whining, as annoying as it can be, can also be cathartic. It’s human and real. I like to think it’s even useful. It allows negative emotions to escape from the confines of the body and dissipate into the atmosphere. I’m tired becomes I’m so completely exhausted. I’ve never been this tired in my life. I really hate being this tired. I’m just exhausted. Why am I so tired? And I don’t feel good. My throat hurts. I can’t go to bed and I can’t take a nap; I don’t have time. Waaaaa waaaaaa waaaaaa Can we order take out?

See what I did there? I turned a whine into an excuse not to cook and to get Chinese instead. Therefore whining made my life less complicated.

My husband might not necessarily agree. My whining makes his life more complicated because he has to listen to me. It’s a form of torture called whine boarding according to the urban dictionary. It entails being forced to listen to someone whining incessantly about any give topic. It’s high pitched and cat-like in sound. He has been whine boarded numerous times throughout our relationship. But that’s love and commitment. For better or whine.

The Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology recently conducted a study on the most distracting sound on the planet. Volunteers were asked to try to complete a set of math problems while wearing headphones. In the headphones they heard a variety of sounds: a toddler whining, a baby crying, baby talk, two adults in conversation, a screeching table saw, and silence. Which sound caused the volunteers to complete the fewest problems with the most mistakes? Whining. The researchers – Rosemarie Sokol Chang of SUNY New Paltz, New York and Nicholas S. Thompson of Clark University in Massachusetts – say that further information needs to be gathered to decide whether the particular melody, rhythm and speed of whining is inherently distracting to humans, or if it is a learned response.

According to Ms. Chang, a whine is “telling you to tune in. Nobody wants to sit around and listen to a fire engine siren either, but if you hear the siren go off, it gets your attention.” It’s the same with a whine. It’s saying pay attention to me, I need you to listen to me; help me, I need you. With a really annoying voice or cat-like sound.

I’m not a psychologist but I know enough, intuitively, to know that we need to indulge the whine inside every once in awhile just to know we’re human.

Yeah. That’s why. Really. Waaaaaaa. Waaaaaaa. Waaaaaa.

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What happens on date night ends up as a blog post

by Lorin Michel Friday, June 24, 2011 11:42 PM

My husband and I go out on a date on Thursday nights. It’s our way of reconnecting at the end of the week, of spending time together doing something we both really enjoy. We get to talk, and laugh, tell stories, sometimes complain. Most importantly, we’re not working.

Last night was date night and we have both had just a horrendous week of work. Too much to do with much of it not going right and thus not getting done. I’ve also been in several meetings and any time I’m not in my office, I’m not really working. While I’m getting more work to do – always a good thing – having to fight traffic to get somewhere, meet, and fight traffic to get back is not productive.

Kevin had a number of deadlines that weren’t being met because his programmers were late on site development and that meant clients were going to be unhappy. Maguire has been a little under the weather. We were both a little down. We thought about not going. But ultimately decided to go anyway just to get out of our space.

I’m so glad we did. We went to The Wineyard, a little wine tasting place in Thousand Oaks where they have vineyard specific tastings on Thursday night. Often the winemaker is there so we can ask questions and learn about a particular vintner’s thoughts as to how he or she makes wine. Last night, the tasting was Boeger, a little winery northeast of Sacramento on the way to Lake Tahoe. They tasted four reds ranging from a Barbera to a Primitivo to a Zinfandel to a Syrah. Interestingly the Primitivo is actually a zinfandel vine from Italy but it’s processed differently and tastes nothing like a California zin.

As we were sitting at a pub table near one of the windows I happened to notice a black BMW with a vanity plate. I said to Kevin I thought I recognized the plate but I couldn’t place it. There weren’t a lot of people there last night; usually it’s packed. Kevin ventured over to the counter to get some bread and cheese and when he came back to the table he informed me that there was a lady selling jewelry and that I should go see if anything struck my fancy. It was mostly silver and some pieces were very cool. I decided I really liked a bracelet and my husband promptly bought it for me, along with a pair of earrings. I was feeling special.

The people at the table beside us got up to leave and must have heard us talking. They stopped by and we struck up a conversation about wineries and how fabulous it is when you can go to new places and drop someone’s name to get specialized treatment. Often when you do this, especially if you know about wine, suddenly the person who’s pouring the tastings will reach under the counter and pull something out they reserve for true wine lovers and connoisseurs. The man we were talking to introduced himself, gave us his card and told us to use his name at several local places we hadn’t yet been to, particularly a place up in Lompoc, north of Santa Barbara, called the Wine Ghetto. We love it already because of the name. This man and his wife looked so familiar to me. They said their goodbyes and soon we saw them get into the black BMW with the familiar license plate. We finally realized that we knew them from the ‘hood here in Oak Park, and that we had first “met” them when they stopped at one of our garage sales several years ago. The guy at one point was even interested in hiring Kevin to build his website.

Small world.

The lady from the jewelry table stopped by with a business card and we talked to her a bit. Turns out she’s friends with one of our neighbors across the street. It was like OP-neighbor night at The Wineyard.

Came home and Kevin’s developer who had been horrifically late on a project called just before 11 to announce that he had made tremendous progress and was close to being finished. Crisis averted.

Mark Twain once said: “Do something everyday that you don’t want to do; this is the golden rule for acquiring the habit of doing your duty without pain.” Last night we went out even when we didn’t want to and it ended up being one of our best date nights ever sharing stories with new people and just enjoying each other’s company.

Tonight friends will be arriving shortly and we’ll celebrate the end of a long and stressful week with good food and yes, more wine. Next Friday, I’ll be in Maryland, celebrating with a friend I haven’t seen in 20 years. Kevin asked me today if we’d recognize each other. I have no doubts whatsoever. True friendships transcend time and space, and I am blessed to have several friends – including my husband – who do just that.

Welcome to the weekend. Make it a good one.

Falling sky things

by Lorin Michel Thursday, June 23, 2011 11:02 PM

I was in the kitchen last night, minding my own business, probably cooking or at least preparing to cook. Kevin was in the bathroom, just finishing a shower. Maguire was in the living room in his usual position, splayed on the floor, snoring and drooling.

I raised my glass of wine for a sip, since in my kitchen and in my house, evening food doesn’t happen without wine; it’s not civilized. Suddenly, something somewhere in the house crashed and crashed hard. I turned, curious. And called out to my husband: Honey?

No response. I put my glass down and walked to the doorway, expecting to see him sitting at the foot of the stairs tying his shoes. He wasn’t there. Maguire, however, was where he was supposed to be.

Kev? A little concerned now. He came strolling out of the bedroom; he had heard the crash, too, though didn’t seem terribly concerned. We could find nothing downstairs where the majority of the house spreads, so Kevin trucked upstairs since whatever had fallen from the sky seemed to resonate from on high. Nothing in the loft office, he reported. I sipped my wine, doing my due diligence. Silence from above. Anything, I asked?

“Looks like the showerhead broke off.” The bathroom upstairs, off of Justin’s old room now known as the guest room and the guest bath, has been under gradual renovation. We’re redoing the floor, we redid the vanity; replaced the showerhead.


This is not the first time we’ve had things fall unexpectedly from the sky inside the house. There was that one day many years ago when I was on the phone, luckily with Bobbi, and there was a huge crash in the house, I hung up quickly and dashed out of my office to find that the 1948 Roadmaster bicycle that we have suspended up above the foyer, on the bridge that holds the duct work from the A/C and more, had broken free of its moorings to land with a loud bang on the marble floor below. I was just happy that Maguire, who often lays directly under that bridge in the foyer because that’s where his kennel once resided, was out in the backyard, sleeping.

Then there was the time that Kevin was on the ladder in the great room on a Thanksgiving morning, the top of the extension resting against the high beam, when the ladder slipped and my husband crashed down, hitting the wine table, destroying his ankle ligaments and rendering him nearly crippled for life.

Shortly there after, in January, as we were watching the series finale of Sex and the City, sitting opposite one another, Kevin on the couch, me on the love seat, the coffee table between us, there was a loud crack. Both of us looked toward the fireplace, and the huge mirror that was on the wall reaching from the mantle to the ceiling. We both watched in horror as it peeled away from the top of the wall, at the ceiling, as if in slow motion, finally pulling away in total to crash between us onto the coffee table, splintering into a million pieces of glass that flew across the room, destroying the couches, demolishing a potter’s bowl purchased in an art gallery and a clock shaped like an electronic ice-cream cone. Once again and luckily, Maguire was outside.

When anything crashes these days, my first thought is: Where’s the dog? He doesn’t hear anything anymore so he wouldn’t hear anything falling from the sky; he’d just feel it if it landed on him. It’s one of my biggest fears, and I celebrate the fact that he has not been harmed by any of these things falling from the sky.

Last night, the only thing that fell from our internal sky was an inconsequential showerhead, easily replaced with a trip to Home Depot.

And undoubtedly a star or a thousand, somewhere, someplace in the world and the universe. 

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A brief history of wine labels

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, May 24, 2011 10:32 PM

I’m not generally a big fan of labels. We tend to use them to define people and I like to think that people are beyond such easy categorization. But labels do serve a very real purpose when applied to products and especially to wine. They allow you to know exactly what’s inside a bottle, where it came from, and may even tell you a story about how it was made. It’s called the marketing blurb. And it is there to make you feel good about what you’ve purchased.

When it comes to wine, the feel good part is fairly easy. I have been drinking wine long enough, and have learned enough about it through visits to wineries, discussions with winemakers, reading and tasting that I know what things I like to see on a label. I’ve mentioned that our current fascination is with any red sporting the year 2007 on its label, especially if it’s a Syrah or a Cabernet Sauvignon or Franc. I also look for wineries whose quality I know is superior. We’re partial to California wines, and Napa Valley and Santa Ynez specifically. Certain regions of Napa are best: Stag’s Leap and Rutherford produce great grapes. We always stay away from any labels saying Coastal because we know the grape quality is inferior.

Wine labels can be works of art. Colorful, expressive, and eye-catching which is key because most people are not wine connoisseurs. They like wine and they know what kind of wine they like. White wine drinkers like a Pinot Grigio or a Chardonnay. Then they begin drinking reds but start with lighter varietals. Pinot Noir, Merlot, Burgundy, Chianti and Shiraz before graduating to Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Syrah and Cabernet Franc. But they don’t always know specific wineries or vintages so a great label can make a sale.

Wine labels have been around for centuries. They first made an appearance in Greece around 4000 BC when wine was considered a gift from the gods, especially the god of wine, Dionysus. King Tutankhamen’s tomb contained wine jars with wine labels. They had enough detail to meet some present day label laws including the name, the year and amount. Many wine labels that came after consisted of writings on parchment tied to the neck of a bottle with twine. By the 1700s, labels were designed on a stone. Ink was then applied and a roller transferred it to paper. By 1798, lithography had been invented and wine labels could be printed in mass quantities. As winemakers gained more and more pride in the quality of their wines, creating the perfect label to show it off became more and more important. Designs and especially color became prevalent.

1950 was the year that things really began to change. Thanks to an Italian law dictating that certain information had to appear, each label began to show the wine producer or brand, the bottler, the region and country of origin, quality classification, vintage year, bottle volume, alcohol content, sulphite content and a warning label that pregnant women shouldn’t drink. Many also carry the marketing blurb though it's not mandatory.

Several years ago, Kevin and I started to dabble in wine making. We bought some rudimentary equipment including carboys, storage containers, a corker and more. Our first batch was a cab-merlot blend, the second was a straight cabernet. Each batch gave us about two cases. It wasn’t great, but it taught us a lot. Interestingly we’ve let several bottles age in the wine cellar and they’ve recently gotten much better.

Our wine needed a label. Our friends Roy and Bobbi designed one for us and it’s fabulous; all about the look, the color, and the shelf appeal. If we ever make the big time, we’re going to be in the running for label of the year. I just know it.

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A brief history of wine bottles

by Lorin Michel Monday, May 23, 2011 10:46 PM

When last we left our courageous wine drinkers – that would be Kevin and I – we were raising a glass and toasting the light after discovering the glorious history of wine. Today it only makes sense to continue that exploration by taking a look back at wine bottles and how wine came to be stored in those long, cylindrical, easily binned (stacked) works of art.

The first winemakers of Mesopotamia and Egypt used clay flasks to store their liquids. The oldest wine jar dates back to 5400 – 5000 BC and includes the vineyard’s name, the type of wine and the vintage. Wine jars were used for thousands of years, through the Grecian wine trades, until the Roman’s got into the game. Among the many things the Romans developed while in power was the art of glass blowing. Glass was quickly found to be a good medium for storing wine because it didn’t affect the wine’s flavor and was easy to see through so drinkers could see how much was inside. That part hasn’t changed. What was difficult was maintaining bottle size consistency. This explains why buyers would bring their own containers to market and buy a measured amount of wine to be carried away in their own container.

As time progressed, so did bottle making. Colored glass was introduced in different shapes and sizes. Many of the original wine bottles were onion shaped because they were the easiest to blow, but wine makers and merchants soon discovered that longer, flatter shapes were better for storing wine on its side. By the 1800s, standard-sized bottles were introduced. Depending on the region, 700 ml or 750 ml were chosen, with the maximum size standard bottle being around 800 ml. Magnums and other special sizes didn’t yet exist.

As for corks, we thank the Brits.

The word bottle comes from the old French word boteille by way of the vulgar Latin butticula and the late Latin buttis meaning “cask.” These casks eventually became more standardized in terms of specific shapes for specific varietals. Burgundy style bottles have sloped shoulders and are generally used for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. High shouldered bottles, known as Bordeaux style, are used for Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec. Hock style, very tall and thin with sloped shoulders, are for Reislings and Gewurztraminer. Then there is the Syrah shape. Big, fat, heavy, sitting low and steady, with shoulders that slope practically to the counter. This is my favorite bottle because it’s my favorite wine. Its bottle matches its personality perfectly.

“Good wine is a necessity of life for me.” I wish I could take credit for saying that because it’s how I feel. But it was Thomas Jefferson who gave voice to my feelings so many years ago. I like to think that one of the fathers of our country, the author of the declaration of independence and the third president, was drinking a nice red as he said that. Poured from a beautiful bottle.

Unfortunately it was probably French. But seeing as how brilliant he was in all other matters, and because California had not yet begun to grow grapes, I’ll give him his Bordeaux.

I celebrate the wine bottle. I celebrate its ability to transcend time, and to allow the most phenomenal wines to age beautifully without growing old. If only we were all so lucky.

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A brief history of wine

by Lorin Michel Sunday, May 22, 2011 7:46 PM

Centuries ago, a beautiful girl from the harem of Jamshid was banished from his kingdom. She was distraught and decided it was time to end her life. Much like Shakespeare’s Juliet, many centuries forward, this girl chose an elixir she thought was poison. She arranged her pillows so that she was comfortable and when found, would be at her most lovely. Then she raised a glass to her lips. But a funny thing occurred. The poison turned out not to have deathly consequences, but did have intoxicating effects thanks to abandoned grapes that had fermented. She took her discovery to the King who accepted the girl back into his harem and thereafter decreed that all grapes grown in Persepolis be made into this lovely spirit.

It’s amazing what a glass of wine can do to make a bad situation better and a good situation fabulous.

Since that girl’s accidental discovery, grape-growing, wine-making and wine-drinking have been a human fascination. What began in ancient Persia sometime around 8000 BC and in other nearby regions between 6000 and 4000 BC is now a world-wide phenomenon. Then it was the drink favored by royalty and priests. The ancient Egyptians, as they so often did, pioneered the documentation of the process of wine making, describing the harvesting of grapes and the drinking of their juice on stone tablets. From Egypt, wine went to Greece where it became part of literature, mythology, medicine, and leisure. Italy got into the game when the Romans took vine clippings from Greece, and vitus vinifera, the European grape, became the basis of today’s great wines soon there after. Wine developed in France, Germany, Spain, and Portugal. Soon, grapes were growing in Mexico, Argentina and North Africa. Australia and New Zealand eventually followed.

America got into the act in the 19th century though it was generally thought that our wines were of inferior quality to those from legendary wine regions like Burgundy and Bordeaux, France. Then Chateau Montelena, in Calistoga, California won first place at the Paris wine tasting event in 1976 for its 1973 Chardonnay, and Stag’s Leap won for its 1973 S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon.


The first wine book was by Jofroi of Waterford, a Latin-to-French translator from the 13th century, whose catalogue detailed all known wines in Europe. It was the go-to guide for academics and counselors for years.

All of this points to one fact: people are crazy about wine. I know we are, and anyone who reads this blog knows Kevin and I are avid red wine drinkers, and partial to heavy California syrahs, preferably from 2007. It was an exceptional year for weather, allowing the grapes to grow and ripen at their own pace. When they were harvested, pressed, fermented, barreled and finally bottled, the end result was and remains nothing short of spectacular. I suspect they’re similar to those 1973 vintages that won in Paris and put Napa Valley officially on the map as a premier wine producer.

Wines come in many varietals, from white to pink to red to dessert to port to cooking. Retail sales have increased by as much as 50 percent lately, and wine tasting rooms have popped up all over the country. It’s good for the economy, for trade and cross-cultural interactions, and even religion. Noah of Noah’s Arc fame produced wine at the base of Mount Ararat. Jesus Christ was said to have turned water into wine.

Galileo, the 16th century Italian physicist, mathematician, philosopher and astronomer, once said: “Wine is light, held together by water.”

A man who knew so much about science and the universe couldn’t be wrong. It’s no wonder that he advised popes.

Tonight I raise a glass to Galileo Galilei, to the Persian harem girl and to all who developed the art of wine. When the light hits it just right, and the color dances in its glass, I’m fairly sure I can still see history in the making.

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Feeling rapturous

by Lorin Michel Friday, May 20, 2011 6:47 PM

To experience ecstatic joy and delight, complete abandon, and generally so happy you can hardly stand yourself. That’s what it means to be rapturous. It’s positive, influential, wondrous; a true celebration. I don’t feel completely rapturous often. I don’t think it’s normal, but it does happen, and mostly on Friday afternoons like today.

The reason for my rapturous feeling is easy to define. It means I’ll have a couple days of playtime, finishing up some projects, doing some writing, cooking and enjoying some very fine wine.

Rapturous is the adjective form of rapture, which means extreme pleasure, happiness or excitement. It’s from the Latin word rapere, meaning to take away or snatch out. Which leads me to the end of the world, scheduled for tomorrow. Actually, the rapture is scheduled for tomorrow; the end of the world, or as my friends have been referring to it “EOTW,” isn’t until sometime in October. I don’t think I’ve seen an actual date though October 2 comes to mind.

As anyone who has read past blog entries knows, I don’t subscribe to organized religion. I was raised catholic but consider myself recovering. I prefer to think of myself as spiritual, though have both friends and family who are churchgoers and somewhat religious.

Jan Luyken’s etching illustrating The Rapture in Matthew 24:40

The Rapture is an event where hundreds of thousands if not millions of true believers will suddenly be taken up to Heaven. It will precede the Second Coming of Christ and the EOTW. This isn’t the first time the Rapture has been predicted, and it will not be the last. We already have one to look forward to in 2012, as predicted by the Mayans. Biblical scholars initially discovered the concept sometime in the 18th century. It’s in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, and references appear in the 1395 Wycliffe Bible, the 1525 Tyndale New Testament, the 1568 Bishop’s Bible, 1587 Geneva Bible, 1611 King James bible and the New English Bible, translated from its original Greek text. The first rapture, to occur on October 22, 1844, was predicted by William Miller. There’s also one predicted for 2060, by Sir Isaac Newton, in case the one for tomorrow, or the one in 2012, doesn’t happen.

There have been countless books and films devoted to this concept, including the highly disturbing The Rapture starring Mimi Rogers. Episode 354 of The Simpsons, entitled Thank God, It’s Doomsday, has Homer miscalculating his rapture prediction and ending up being the only one taken. When he vandalizes Heaven, he is immediately returned.

I don’t expect anything out of the ordinary to happen tomorrow, largely because I don’t understand why God is so mad at everyone. I can understand wrath being directed at really bad people and politicians, but am I really that awful just because I’m not a rapt believer? I work hard, love my husband, son and family, consider myself a fairly decent friend, adore my dog. I love good food, good wine, good times, none of which are considered illegal, harmful to anyone or bad. In general I’m feeling rapturous about life. I hope to be celebrating that feeling for quite some time.

Of course, if I’m wrong, I want to thank you all for reading and commenting. And God bless. 


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Let the chips salsa where they may

by Lorin Michel Thursday, May 5, 2011 11:00 PM

On the morning of May 5, 1862, four thousand Mexican soldiers drove Napoleon the III’s army and the traitorous Mexican army hunkered down in Puebla, Mexico, from the city. It had all begun when the French landed in Mexico some five months earlier on the pretense of collecting Mexican debt from the newly elected government of President Benito Juarez. But Napoleon liked his new digs south of the U.S. border and decided he’d stay. He’d conquer.

Eight thousand strong, the French attacked Mexico City but the Mexicans were waiting. Under the command of Texas-born General Ignacio Zaragosa and Colonel Porfirio Diaz they attacked back, all 4,000 of them, and when the battle was over, the French were fairly defeated and the Mexicans were victorious.

And so we celebrate the fifth of May with our Southern amigos because an American was instrumental in their liberation. Of course, to reciprocate, thousands of Mexicans crossed the border after the attack on Pearl Harbor, wanting to join U.S. forces. Many also volunteered during the first Gulf War.

We celebrated Cinco de Mayo tonight in a converted Taco Bell. It’s now a wine tasting place called The Wineyard. It really only resembles its former self if you look hard. It’s fairly well stocked with bottles of cabernet sauvignon, sauvignon blanc, pinot noir, zinfandel, syrah, chardonnay, malbec and more. It’s a wine bar, with pub tables amidst the racks of varietals. They serve cheese and crackers now, not cheese quesadillas, and there’s not a shot of tequila to be had.

Still, there’s a little bit of irony to be found in the idea of celebrating the liberation of Mexico City some hundred and fifty years ago inside a reformed Taco Bell, tasting wines from Clayhouse in Paso Robles, enjoying the sun as it set beyond the hills of Thousand Oaks while munching on some festive chips and salsa.

All I can say is Yo quero Taco Bell!


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