paradox of our times

  we have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, but less time; we have more degrees, but less common sense; more knowledge, but less judgement; more experts, but more problems; more medicine, but less wellness.

  we spend too recklessly(鲁莽地) , laugh too little, drive too fast, get to angry too quickly, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch tv too often, and pray too seldom.

  we have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. we talk too much, love too little and lie too often. we've learned how to make a living, but not a life; we've added years to life, not life to years.

  we have taller buildings, but shorter tempers; wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints. we spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy it less.

  we've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor. we've conquered outer space, but not inner space. we've split the atom, but not our prejudice; we write more, but learn less; plan more, but accomplish less.

  we've learned to rush, but not to wait; we have higher incomes, but lower morals. we build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies, but have less communication. we are long on quantity, but short on quality.

  these are the times of fast foods and slow digestion; tall men and short character; steep profits and shallow relationships. more leisure and less fun; more kinds of food, but less nutrition; two incomes, but more divorce; fancier houses, but broken homes.


  rain of seattleit's a sin around here to not thoroughly enjoy every moment of every golden day. it's embarrassing to answer, "did you get out and enjoy the sunshine this weekend?" with "no, i stayed inside." co-workers frown and exchange suspicious looks; apparently i'm one of those rain-loving slugs(懒汉) .

  i tried lying, but my pale complexion gave me away.

  another mark in rain's favor is that my body doesn't betray me when it's cold and damp outside. throughout the winter, people wear several layers, with perhaps several extra pounds here and there. in june i dig out my shorts to discover my thighs resemble cottage cheese. i dread buying a swimsuit, as consecutive(连贯的) horror and humiliation make me cringe(畏缩,奉承) in the dressing room.

  even my tastebuds(味蕾) prefer the rain. when it storms outside, it's time for steamy hot chocolate or even a soothing(抚慰的) toddy. people devour hot, hearty meals, with lots of potatoes and savory(可口的) sauces. this type of eating evaporates when the sun comes out; suddenly everyone offers salads and ice water and expects it to be satisfying.

  it's time to publicly acknowledge that i love the rain, how it transforms my house into a cozy(舒适的) caves where i can spend the afternoon cooking and dreaming. it seems nobody else will admit to a love affair with the rain, nobody else will groan when it's hot outside and join me in a rain dance.

  when the sun comes out i do greet it with a smile, slipping sunglasses to my purse and pulling a tank top out of my closet. yet my comfortable sweaters and warm slippers beckon, making me wish for another wet, chilly afternoon. when the rain returns, i will grin even more. am i the only one?


  a chilling thrillmy new school's ski trip seemed like a good idea to my mom, who was holding up the slick new ski jacket she'd just bought for me. mom must have imagined me-her seventh-grade daughter, carly—and my new rosy—cheeked friends sipping hot chocolate beside a roaring fire. maybe she thought i'd spend the weekend dashing through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh(雪橇) , bells jingling.

  after all, she knew i couldn't ski.

  "so? you'll learn," she said, conveniently forgetting that i was nearly ten before i could manage a two-wheeler.

  "but i don't really know anybody...," i said, afraid to admit the whole truth. i'd been in school for months and still had no friends.

  "and what better way to get acquainted?" she said.

  obviously i had no clue.

  after hours on the bus with rival boom boxes blaring the entire length of the new york state thruway, we finally arrived at the slopes. the wind chill made the temperature feel like ten below, so i distributed the tubes of lip balm my thoughtful mother had sent to prevent chapping(龟裂) .

  after my classmates smeared on smudge-proof all-day protection, i snapped photos, the proof mom wanted that i was having fun. my best shot was of some guys on the football team. their lips had turned hot pink.

  my ski lesson went well. i learned how to break skis. bindings snapped off under my uncoordinated legs.

  "it's ok," the instructor said. "that's supposed to happen. sometimes it keeps you from getting hurt."


  he pointed to the plaster cast on his ankle. "avoid the moguls," he said.

  "real estate moguls(雪上技巧) ? developers who turn mountains into ski resorts?"

  "nah," he said. "moguls are mounds of snow. bumps on the slope."

  he repaired my skis and sent me toward a rope that was mysteriously moving up the mountain.

  "stick with the bunny slope," he said.

  "is the bunny named godzilla?"

  my pink-lipped classmates, who were either seasoned skiers or fearless fools, had deserted me and raced for the lift lines to mounts denali, rushmore, and vesuvius. i shuffled to godzilla's leash(皮带,束缚) , tucked in my lucky scarf, and grabbed on.

  the icy rope slid through my mittens. my frostbitten fingers gripped tighter and harder but to no avail. fidgety four-year-olds stiffened up behind me. as i turned to apologize, a knot reached my hands and dragged me up the hill with the force of a tidal wave.

  it was only fitting that beach boys music started blasting out of the speakers in the lodge: "surfin' usa". little kids in goofy hats surfed by me on snowboards. slush swooshed into my face. my nose dripped into my lip balm.

  higher and higher i went up mount bunny until i reached the peak from which, theoretically, i would ski down.

  i wiped my nose and surveyed the situation. i considered riding the rope back down, but the snickers from the snowboarders would be too humiliating. peer pressure is a terrible thing, especially from kids half your age.

  i reviewed what i'd learned. the instructor had said to point your ski tips together to stop. he called it "snowplowing." where i'm from, we use a pickup truck with a giant blade in the front.

  he kept saying to "slalom" down the mountain, a term i later realized means to zigzag. frankly, i thought he'd said "salami." i figured they had a gourmet deli on the hill. all these people would need to eat.

  with this wealth of knowledge, i slid off. i followed the tracks of the child who'd gone before me. since her ski tips eventually plowed together, i stopped. no problem. turning, however, took some maneuvering. i couldn't seem to do it.

  finally i squatted, figuring that the closer i was to the snow, the easier it would be to fall. skis together, aimed directly at the ski-lodge door, i zipped down the hill.

  the cold air suddenly turned fresh and exciting. i felt like an olympic champion. at long last, the thrill of skiing! that my eyes were frozen shut only added zest.

  i snowplowed to a stop and entered the lodge. my cheeks tingled from the warmth of the crowded room, and the biggest, most ridiculous smile took over my face.

  "i'm still here," i said, practically bragging(夸耀) to the crowd. they didn't erupt with applause, but they didn't pelt me with snowballs either. actually, nothing had changed. just my attitude.

  without thinking twice, i went up to marie, a girl from my math class. "hi, i'm carly," i said. "fracture anything yet?"

  we'd been studying fractions all week, but she missed the common denominator of my joke.

  her face reddened. "they had to stop the ski lift so i could get on," she said. "i wanted to die."