In Search of the Eternal Buzz

My older brother, who is way cooler than I’ll ever be, used to drive a ‘76 Monte Carlo hot rod. On the back bumper was a sticker that read, “In Search of the Eternal Buzz.” As his younger sister, I gathered that search involved fast cars, beer, and babes. Much older and a little wiser, I’ve discovered that the buzz is as unique as the buzzed. As Cole Porter points out, ‘I get no kick from champagne, cocaine, or a plane, but I get a kick out of you.’ To each his own, right?

I’ve had quite the range of experiences in search of my own eternal buzz. Some healthy, some not. Some legal, some not. Some safe, some not. Fast, slow, expensive, free, large groups, alone, far away, right at home. I’ve come to find my brother’s life motto is another way of describing the concept of flow. It’s not about the end result, but the journey. It’s about living in the moment so deeply that nothing else exists. Leaning in with open arms, heart, soul, and mind.

I’ve also learned there are a lot of buzzkills out there. Avoid them. They are speed bumps that need to be swerved around. Some people just don’t like that others are happier than them. Misery loves company, and all that. Buzzkills are narrow-minded enough to think their way is the right way, the only way. But I’m rubber and they’re glue…

Some people are lucky and find their buzz early in life. Some are old and gray before their search comes to a blissful end. Either way, it’s important to keep looking. And once you find that buzz, just keep buzzin’.

So in my search, I’ve found that I love adventure. I love writing. I love traveling. I love food. I love wine. I love learning and knowing things. I love good stories. I love when things are clean and organized. I love puzzles. I love being able to fix things. I love music. I love my dogs. I love nature walks. I love cool air. I love to be entertained. I love to play. I love Christmas. I love the fall. I love to laugh. I love when the ocean or a mountain comes into view. I love the moon and the stars. I love my home. I love my family and friends. I love God. I love my daughter. And I love me. Every day I make time for something or someone I love, and so every day I catch a buzz. The more I focus on what and who I love, the longer my buzz lasts. Voila! It’s as easy that.

So what gets you buzzed?

Toy Boom

My daughter and I took a trip to the NC Museum of History in downtown Raleigh yesterday afternoon. One of their many fascinating exhibits teaches about the “Toy Boom.” Going back in time to consider the impact of play is right up my alley!

Before arriving, I hadn’t realized that the toys on exhibit were from the 1950s & 60s. Some I recognized from my dad’s stories, like an Erector Set. Some were still popular when I was child in the 80s, like G.I. Joe, View-Masters, and Gumby, and some of the toys are still hits with kids in 2021: Slinky, Twister, Mr. Potato Head, Candy Land, Barbie, Frisbee, Legos, Etch A Sketch, and Silly Putty. I was excited to find Mouse Trap, considering Santa dropped one down our chimney this past Christmas. Related to Christmas, a virtual Sears Christmas catalog was on display. My pen would run out ink before I could circle every toy I wanted.

My daughter and I learned a few things within the toy exhibit. I was relieved to see her confusion over the toys that promoted gender roles in society. For example, there were two separate “What Shall I Be?” board games about what career to pursue; the one for boys had pictures of astronauts, football players, and doctors, and the one for girls had pictures of flight attendants, socialites, and nurses. It was a nice segue to the exhibit downstairs about the suffragists.

What I learned was that some of the toys were developed and promoted with ulterior motives in mind. My takeaway was that our government recognized the benefits of learning through play; toys make learning more fun, and some of these new toys could eventually help to support our race for space and wartime efforts.

The exhibit also exposed the impact of commercial advertising once televisions replaced radios as a form of entertainment. The baby boom, economic prosperity, and an influx of televisions combined to make a great recipe for consumerism. Nowadays, kids eyes are still glued to screens: TVs, tablets, and smartphones. They see the advertisements, but it seems harder to peel them away long enough to actually play. My hope is that we adults remember how much fun we had with our toys, and spend more time sharing that love with our kids.

Head Heart Hands Health

For a couple years of my childhood, I participated in the 4-H. For those of you who don’t know what it is, 4-H is a youth development program that is part of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) Cooperative Extension System (CES). NIFA is an agency within the United States Department of Agriculture. CES is part of the Land-Grant University System, which was created with the intention of increasing educational opportunities for the working class population, especially farmers and ranchers. 4-H helps to prepare youth for work and life by teaching useful skills through hands-on experiences.

I grew up in a rural town, a farming town. The town’s area is about forty square miles, and there are over thirty farms. There were also fewer than 10,000 people living there when I was growing up. In addition to all that, the World Wide Web didn’t go live until I was in Middle School, so the skills youth were learning when I was a child are a bit different than the skills youth are learning these days, especially during the remote and virtual learning days of Covid-19.

So what did I learn in 4-H? I signed up for sewing, cooking, photography, and dairy. I really enjoyed sewing, and to this day I say I’m going to get a sewing machine and try my hand at it again. I’ve had plans to make a t-shirt quilt for, oh, I’d say close to 30 years. I made a skirt the first year, and a jumper the next. I liked the puzzle part of sewing; following the pattern, making individual parts, and then piecing them all together.

Cooking was fun, but I learned more about cooking by hanging out in my mom’s and grandma’s kitchens. I learned even more from working in the hospitality industry for 25 years. Following a recipe is easy, but making a dish unique and tasty is where the challenge lies, and what requires experience. I definitely have experience in eating! I remember completing an assignment in my early elementary years that asked what my favorite subjects were. I wrote “lunch.”

I loved my photography class. I had taken photography as an activity at my summer camp, too, so I already knew I would enjoy it. I still have dreams of being a photojournalist for a food magazine. In that dream I can travel around the world eating delicious foods, taking pictures of the meals and locations, and then writIng about the experience. I guess I should buy a camera. Everything seems to be digital and captured on iPhones these days, but one of the best parts of photography was developing my own pictures in the dark room. I was, and am still, envious of the woman who led the 4-H photography class; she had a dark room in her house! Maybe I’ll have a she-shed dark room at a future home of mine.

Dairy was quite the memorable experience. I was assigned a local farm and a calf to walk. I would walk my cow up and down the center of the barn. All of the adult heifers were facing away from me, so I was always paranoid that I would get donkey-kicked by a cow. We also learned to clean their hooves and give them hair cuts. When people ask me about where I grew up, I like to tell them I walked cows as a way of describing where I’m from. I won first place in Showmanship at the county fair. I loved that trophy with the gold cow on top. I also won first place in the clipping contest. What’s a clipping contest? Whoever does the best job cutting all of the cow’s hair in less than 10 minutes wins! It cracks me up just knowing things like this exist.

4-H exists to help youth to develop skills that they can use to support their homes and communities. Although I don’t take care of cows or sew anything other than buttons, I did improve upon life skills like problem-solving, reading and following directions, finishing what I start, and creative thinking. I loved the experiences, especially the ones I probably wouldn’t have otherwise had, like caring for cows and developing my own photos. I hope to get my daughter involved. It’s a good thing 4-H helped me to develop time management skills, too!

What clubs did you join as a kid?