Tuesday, July 27, 2010


The screensaver for our kitchen computer is comprised of pictures from our iPhoto library, which scrolls random photos across the screen in what I’m told is the “Ken Burns Effect.” I don’t know from Ken Burns, but every now and then when I sit down at the computer to check my email or my Facebook page or some other mind-numbing and equally unimportant activity, like Googling the lyrics to a Lady Gaga song, I stop and just watch the story of our lives float by.

It’s a happy story and every time I do this, I’m reminded to be thankful for everything we have.

Okay, so our everyday life—full of errands and squabbles and bills and messes—is not always so consistently happy, but this is my point. Who takes photographs of unhappy things? Most people stick to photographs of the good stuff. Christmas card photo out-takes notwithstanding, our photo album is full of mostly happy memories.

So I enjoy sitting at my kitchen computer and watching the illusion of the totally happy life float by. It’s hypnotizing to see all the Christmas mornings and vacations, school plays and get-togethers with friends, Halloween and birthday parties. Whenever the screensaver eventually goes black, I get sad. (Don’t tell my husband, the Energy-Star Nazi, but I’ve secretly extended the time span the screensaver will play.)

However, the photo album as screensaver also has its downside. Like trying to explain to guests why we have a picture of a chicken bone on whiteboard (Science fair project. Don’t get me started.)or a really dark and grainy picture of the moon (husband, digital camera and new telescope) or why, at that particular moment in time, I’m hiding under the kitchen table (a vacation photo of me in a bathing suit scrolled by.)

We resisted going with a digital camera for a long time, so our electronic photo library doesn’t start until 2003. However, once we made the switch, I can’t believe I ever resisted. Now, I fret about when I’m going to find the time to scan-in all the photos from all the old photo albums we have. No small task, since I just counted forty-one of them. We do, occasionally, pull one of the old albums down off the shelf and look through it. But only occasionally.

With our screensaver, the memories float by every single day. I can’t think of a better way to be consistently reminded of all the good things in life. Especially on the days when things aren’t so rosy, like when the kids are hungry for dinner because it’s seven o’clock and my husband’s stuck in traffic on his way home from work and the back porch grill is on fire (and my neighbor across the alley is watching me from his upstairs bedroom window, I’m sure critically and with 911 on speed-dial, because I don’t have a Y chromosome and what am I doing out there in the first place?) And it’s on days like these it’s nice to be reminded of how perfectly a Thanksgiving turkey turned out, or how a homemade birthday cake tasted delicious, in spite of the fact my husband and children thought it took two boxes of Betty Crocker cake mix and two cans of frosting to make a single double-layer cake. It may have looked like an illustration from Dr. Seuss, but who could argue with all that chocolate?

This is why I enjoy allowing myself to become hypnotized by our screensaver. It gives me many little reasons to be happy every day. And as Lady Gaga might say:

Not sure what it means
But this photo of us
It don’t have a price
Ready for those flashing lights

You know, if I were to ever Google the lyrics to "Paparazzi" or something.

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