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Thursday, Sept. 9, 2004 01:35 pm

Grace about town 9-9-04

Things have been better

Did you see that movie Pay It Forward? Kevin Spacey was in it, as were Haley Joel Osment and Jon Bon Jovi. Here's something funny about Jon Bon J. You're probably aware he's a big rock star. He used to have really big hair. I'd never actually seen him because of my general lack of musical experience for great swaths of my life.

Jon was on Ally McBeal for a while, playing a plumber. Friends who watched the show said, "That's Jon Bon Jovi, the rock star -- isn't it funny he's playing a plumber!" So I decided to do some checking up on him. I looked at some of his CDs and was fascinated at his huge hair. I mean, his hair was gigantic. But to me, he just looked like a plumber posing as a rock star.

But Pay It Forward is a sappy, maudlin, cloying movie that started out with a pretty good concept. Haley Joel came up with the idea of doing something nice for somebody you don't know. That random act would incite the beneficiary of the good deed to do something nice for somebody else, and so on, until the whole world would be turned into a mushy, happy, feel-good place, free of strife, war, pestilence (do we still have that?), and rotten movies.

As I said, I didn't care for the movie, but I did like the general idea they were going for. I prefer my messages to be delivered without the brick smashing over my head repeatedly, however.

So, my weekend. Bad beyond belief. I mean bad. I refuse to go into any details right now, except for a couple.

I was in Chicago, and for reasons of immense stupidity on my part, I left the lights on in my car for an hour, and therefore the battery died. I called AAA, and they promised that a jumper would arrive in an hour, but instead it took two. I sat there in the car, not able to do anything at all. I generally carry around with me all kinds of things to keep myself occupied because of my fear of getting bored: a book, paper to jot down important and critical things (which I promptly lose), stuff like that. But this time, no such luck. I chose not to read the owner's manual.

Instead, I spent my time thinking, letting my mind wander, just doing . . . nothing.

Doing Nothing is something we should strive for. It's similar to my Napping Platform, in which everybody gets a short nap every afternoon, the key difference being that you're conscious while Doing Nothing, giving your mind in its conscious state a chance to wander and drift, a chance to mull things or not mull anything at all.

This is a lot like a concept I've thought about for a while now, called Party in Your Head. It's important to take a break from things, and if you can't take that cruise you'd looked forward to, well then, party in your head. Free your mind. I always thought that partying in your head would probably involve taking a walk or something, but I now think that doing nothing is the purest form of the Party in Your Head.

The key is to do it voluntarily instead of being forced to do nothing because you let your car battery run down.

OK, another part of my Very Bad Weekend: I stopped at a Taco Bell in Aurora, and that night, back in Springfield, I realized that my wallet was missing. Just last week I was at dinner with my dad, who said, "Grace, do you always go around with your purse unzipped like that? You're going to lose something!" Dad: Always right, of course.

I called the Taco Bell and talked to the restaurant's manager, Lorena Melzoza, who had found the wallet and was worried about tracking me down. She couldn't understand why I hadn't called earlier. Very spacey, I explained.

We discussed ways of getting my wallet to me; Taco Bell has no policy for shipping lost wallets. I called Taco Bell headquarters, and they were polite but not helpful at all. So Lorena and I agreed that she'd send it COD. She had to do it on Monday, after she took her son to his first day of school.

I then got all kinds of dire warnings from friends and family about the potential for getting ripped off, and so on. At this point in the weekend, late on Sunday night, as a result of other circumstances, my faith in humanity had been pretty much rattled to the core, so I started to worry.

I called Lorena on Monday. She had taken the wallet to a mailing center, but they didn't do COD, so she paid the $25 to have them ship it next day by FedEx. She explained that the receipt was included in the box.

Wow. She paid for the shipping out of her own pocket and took the time out of her hectic life being a mom and working at Taco Bell to help out some woman she didn't know who is prone to losing everything of any consequence. The wallet arrived the next day, safe and sound.

So I say: Believe in other people for a change. Do something nice for somebody for no reason at all, except to do something nice. Lorena managed to change my attitude about humanity (at least for a few minutes), and that's quite an accomplishment. Go ahead, pay it forward (but don't rent the movie).


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