I guess I never outgrew the ‘question-asking’ phase most curious toddlers go through. When I was five I was asking enlightened questions of my teddy bears all the while studying Barbara Walters on our undersized black and white TV, vowing I’d depose her one day. After all, questions like ‘What’s it like being green?’ and ‘Do you envy Winnie the Pooh’s merchandising prospects?’ were certainly more riveting than ‘If you were a tree….’
I’ve tried inserting my “Cali questions” -- as they’ve been coined by friends over the years -- into interviews I’ve conducted with presidential candidates, celebrities, renowned musicians, and ‘real people’ subjects for shows I’ve worked on. The mainstream TV agendas, though, have made that tough. I recall a moment with a famous actress many years ago. It was the end of a long day of press interviews and I asked a whimsical question about what she’d want waiting for her if she were to open a treasure chest. It was a theme prompted by the film, and she seemed genuinely pleased to be taken off the rote track. She thanked me. That exchange was the exception. And my question lists have grown.
This is where you come in. I ponder this stuff often. The 'whys' and 'hows' didn't melt away with my 6th birthday ice cream cake. On some days the answers seem clear, while other days they elude me.
A few times each month, I will pose a new query. If you’re inspired, please share an anecdote, a lesson, a secret, a thought. Break out a missive from your journal. Get your friends involved. Read others' replies. This is about communal curiosity in all its cyber anonymous glory!
Cali’sQuestionCafe: Listen more, talk less. Attention span required.
Maybe we can collectively find some answers….
Two weeks ago I celebrated my birthday – although with all the assorted festivities including a decadent work party, cocktails with friends and a special beach getaway, it felt more like a celebratory birth week.
During the evening of my birthday, bookending the moment at precisely 8:36p all those years ago, when my mom, high on nitrous, pushed me out as my dad eagerly smoked cigars and made phone calls, I was out with my immediate family and four of my closest friends.
Partially plied with nice wine and good appetizers, I was overtaken in one moment with the fact that I could love 8 people so purely and so uniquely. They are all such utterly high quality, creative, special, warm, capable and menschy beings in whose company I always feel filled up. I was so moved that I decided it was high time to toast them.
Which I did, although not very eloquently.
A few days later while drinking cocktails on the comic book-like ‘beach’ of Governor’s Island, just across the harbor from lower Manhattan, the subject of friendships came up. We talked about friendship between couples, and the fact that women tend to find more holistic fulfillment in their girlfriends while men get a smorgasbord from different friends.
So with that I pose QUESTION #17: ASIDE FROM YOUR SPOUSE OR PARTNER, WHO IS YOUR CLOSEST FRIEND AND WHY? DO YOU POSSESS AND GIVE THE SAME BACK TO THEM?
For the last five weeks, I have been blissfully roaming around the Pacific Northwest during a seasonal work hiatus. I fell in love with the area while working here last year for a few months and wanted to expand my radius. It’s been such a luxury being on my own schedule amidst stunning beauty -- floating timelessly through the days, discovering special places, meeting new people, and seeing old friends.
It’s also been very self-indulgent. So much so that I’ve refrained from talking about it too much or gloating too readily on the Granddaddy of Self-Indulgence: Facebook.
Indulgent why? Because I’ve been able to sate (most of) my major ‘food groups’ -- nature, hiking, biking, travel, intriguing conversation, and plenty of local wine and culinary delights – on a daily basis. I had a moment the other day where I envisioned myself in proper toga regalia to aptly suit my little moveable bacchanal. I feel like a character from “Eat, Pray, Love”, without the divorce.
All this said, I’d like to think I’m not that shallow and that gout is not my final destination. I write about it here because I was thinking that while I have drained my pockets on all these momentary, perishable delights, I have not spent one penny on anything permanent. No souvenirs, no gifts, no airport magnets. Only experiences, be it bike rentals, unmatched flower-infused cocktails, whale-watching fees and freshly caught coho salmon.
So I ask you, QUESTION #16: WHAT SPLURGE BRINGS YOU THE MOST GLEE? DO YOU PREFER AN EXPERIENCE THAT VAPORIZES BUT IMPRINTS ITSELF IN YOUR MIND? OR AN OBJECT THAT HAS SHELF LIFE FOR YEARS TO COME?
(I'm not fishing for confessions of materialism. This is about the distinction between fleeting and permanent. Abstract and tangible.)
Feeling a little bit of the collective malaise? Worried about the future, the state of your finances, how you're going to land a job after being unexpectedly laid off? You are not alone. As the expense of sounding like a Pollyanna, I'd like to think once we weather this societal earthquake, which I believe we will, that an exciting, clean canvas awaits us where we will create a new kind of lifestyle devoid of
all the ugliness that landed us here in the first place.
In the meantime, our health, families and friends take on more sacred proportions than usual. So I ask you to 'kvell' (one of my favorite Yiddish words) in ....
QUESTION #12--WHO DO YOU COUNT ON MOST TO MAKE YOU SMILE THESE DAYS, AND WHY?