Friday, September 24, 2010

Elephant Kissing & Defying the Stars: Not-a-Fortune's First Ever Guest Post

In lieu of the usual Friday post - don't worry, I'll be back tomorrow with a weekend update - I have a special treat for you: a guest post by the charming Cristina. This is the first guest post here on Not-a-Fortune. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think. I happen to love everything about Cristina's post- it's got fortune cookie superstitions, fortune, not-a-fortune, photos, and even a unique Chinese restaurant tale. 
“Then I defy you stars…”
~ Romeo,
Romeo and Juliet (Act 5, sc. 1)

Let’s admit it. We sometimes eat Chinese food just to get to the good stuff – the fortune cookies.  These little treasures are always the delight at our favorite Chinese food restaurant.  Of course, there are the usual jokes about ending each phrase with “in bed” and the secret winks I’ll give my husband. Each of us will go about discovering the fortune in individual ways. We’ve developed our own dance with fate when it comes to these slips of paper.

I refuse to be handed my fortune cookie; I think it is bad luck to be given my fortune.  I must select my own.  My husband will not, under any circumstance, look at his paper slip until he has eaten his entire cookie.  We’ve achieved tradition status with our cookie fates – we will not budge.  We each argue over which the best course of action is.  Nobody can tell us otherwise.  Until, that is, I once received this fortune:
"Don't kiss an elephant on the lips today."

Clearly there must be some mistake.  This is not even good advice let alone a fortune. I wanted a new one.  I demanded a new fortune. No fortune should include an elephant.

Our restaurant allows us to exchange fortunes. Just like that.  You don’t like the hand you’re dealt?  Exchange it.  You object to your fate?  No problem.  Just walk up to the counter and shazaam!  New fortune. It’s not even true defiance of the stars, really.  It’s just a simple exchange – no receipt necessary.  What an amazing concept! When life is hard we are able to just hand it in for a new one. When life gets tough, life gets a new fortune cookie.

When I got my elephant fortune I did think about how I should just be happy with it.  I thought about how, for some reason, there could be a cosmic fate attached to that elephant.  Then again, even if given a chance, I wouldn’t kiss an elephant.

I traded it in. I swapped fortunes. Defied the stars.  And wouldn’t you know?  This is what I received:
"Now is a lucky time for you - take a chance."

Maybe exchanging our fate for another wouldn’t be so bad after all.  I’m sure Romeo would have appreciated the simplicity.   However is this really what we want? To be able to simply exchange our life’s paths for another simply because we just don’t like it? It seems appealing sometimes, though the times in our life when it would be most tempting to choose another fortune are the times when we become who we are meant to be.  These are the times we look back and think, “I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.”

To be sure, though, I am still not ever going to kiss an elephant.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Fortunate Life

Just over two weeks ago I wrote about the passing of my dear friend Single Blonde in the City's grandmother. As SBITC and her family gathered in the days prior to Nana's death, a family friend brought them Chinese food. Several of the not-a-fortunes seemed as though they had been selected specifically for Nana's family that night, and SBITC shared them with me. I shared them with you here.

This past Sunday, I attended the memorial service SBITC's family held for both of her grandparents (the beautiful flowers pictured above are from the service). I had no intention of writing about it, but when my courageous friend stood up to speak about her grandparents' lives and all that she's learned from them I knew I had to because she had a very familiar, very small piece of paper in her hand: a fortune cookie insert! She explains the genesis of her remarks much better than I ever could, and you should visit her blog and read her post about the memorial service by following this link.

I will tell you that as soon as I saw that tiny slip of paper in her hands I dove into my bag and pulled out my trusty purple Sharpie* and jotted down the not-a-fortune SBITC received at lunch just hours before the memorial service:

"If you continually give, you will continually have."

She did not immediately connect this aphorism with her grandparents, as she explains in her post. The pastor who led the service spoke of her grandparents' commitment to servanthood, though, and SBITC knew this to be true.

I will leave you with something else I wrote down while at the memorial service:

Our lives are shaped as much by those who leave us as they are by those who stay.

*I adore ultra fine point Sharpies, especially in purple and red. For a list of my other Favorite Things, visit

Friday, September 17, 2010

Happy Constitution Day! (Friday's Fortunes and Not-a-Fortunes)

The Constitution of the United States of America was signed 223 years ago today. This is not at all related to today's post. I'm just getting tired of titling my Friday posts "Friday's Fortunes and Not-a-Fortunes." So there you go. Now you know that September 17th is Constitution Day in America. Don't tell me Not-a-Fortune isn't educational!

This week's round-up is quite diverse. I'll begin with this graphic, shared with me by the divine @scarletscribe:
It's from I'm Ben Warheit, a tumblr blog.

Another actual fortune, also shared with me via twitter:

"A bold and dashing adventure is in your future."

I hope @Streetlights94 tells me all about her adventures, whenever they happen!

My stylish friend LT (who's now on twitter - yay! - follow her @LTsaywhat) and her hubby had dinner at Chinatown in Westlake (Austin, Texas) last week and she sent me their fortunes. That's right- they both received actual fortunes.

Hers: "A cheerful message is on its way to you."

His: "Plan for many pleasures ahead."
(As LT noted, her husband's fortune "was just too easy in the dirty joke department.")

I received an actual fortune this week, too: 

"You will have an exciting business adventure."

This led my friend @amydaugustine to comment, "Please tell me you're not going to add the traditional 'in bed' to the end of that one..." Again, it's just too easy.

I'll wrap up today's post with the ONLY NOT-A-FORTUNE of the bunch, from Boogrock:

"Minutes are worth than money. Spend them wisely."
And speaking of minutes, if you have an extra one or two, go to and vote for him to be the new co-host of San Antonio's 94.1 KTFM.

That's all for this week. Thanks to everyone who contributed to this post. Have a great weekend and

Saturday, September 11, 2010


I've titled this post "Wisdom/Fortune" not because it's the most relevant title - though it is - but because it's the title given to the picture where I originally saw it: WonderLust.

The not-a-fortune on the left reads, "Love is the only medicine for a broken heart."

The fortune on the right, "The one you love is closer than you think."

Thank you to SBITC for alerting me to this photo/blogpost.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday's Fortunes and Not-a-Fortunes: I'm on a Roll!

I don't know if you're ready for this: today's Friday round-up constitutes my third official weekly post. That's some kind of record. (I won't say what kind. I'll leave that judgment to you.)

Y'all know I love food-related cookie inserts, right? UnScurvyGirl sent me this, from And it's an actual fortune (of sorts).

Continuing with the food theme, a friend from high school we'll call Twintelope received this not-a-fortune today:
"Reach for your dreams. Start with the spring rolls."

Another high school chum - whose new blog is foodcentric and fabulous (check it out HERE) - tweeted this to me:
"Your individuality provides a light for others."

I had Chinese this week and received a perplexing not-a-fortune: 

"If winter comes, can spring be far behind?"

Clearly, the answer is "no." Yet I can't help but wonder if there is a deeper meaning hiding in that little piece of paper.

I'll round up today's round-up (see what I did there?) with two not-a-fortunes passed on to me via twitter, the first of which is also a question. Susan's new favorite not-a-fortune is "Well, why not? Admit it, you're intrigued." Ha! Her previous favorite? "Soon, and in good company."

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Not-a-Fortune Reminder

"This instant is the only time there is."

One of the blogs I follow, Kind Over Matter, posted this photo along with the following quote today:

"The other day a man asked me what I thought was the best time of life. 'Why,' I answered without a thought, 'now.'"
~David Grayson

I saw this and it reminded me of my own motto: "Life is too short not to be happy."

Go out and enjoy your day!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Nana-Fortunes: Tribute to a Lovely Lady

Those of you who visit Not-a-Fortune on any sort of regular basis should be familiar with my dear friend Single Blonde in the City. She is dealing with the impending death of her beloved grandmother, a gracious, beautiful woman with whom she is incredibly close. Nana has lived with Alzheimer's disease for some time now and though SBITC has mentally prepared herself for what is to come, this is understandably a difficult time for everyone involved.

Last night, a family friend brought dinner - Chinese food - to SBITC's family as they gathered at her parents' house to await the inevitable. While a couple of cookie inserts (not-a-fortunes) were quickly discarded "because we didn't need any of that nonsense last night," six of them "stood out as being significant in a very special way." SBITC says she and her family were able to relate all of the following "Nana-fortunes," as she dubbed them, to her grandmother:

"Don't repay a kindness, pass it on."

"A beautiful person is with you, confide your problems."

"Luck is coming your way."

"There is a true and sincere friendship between you both."

"The principle business of life is to enjoy it."

"A pleasant surprise is in store for you."

SBITC wanted to share these cookie inserts because even during this trying time she felt "the good fortune of receiving such kind sayings that truly seem to define who/what my grandmother is, and what is in store for her." 

I thought about ending this post with a quote about love and loss, which would be a perfectly reasonable choice. But then I remembered this Carolyn Heilbrun quote and I realized it's ideal for my friend SBITC, who has had some ups and downs the past few years that I've known her (who hasn't?) but whose strength and courage and resilience has never ceased to amaze me. SBITC, I wish you and your family peace.

"Most important, she has become braver as she has aged, less interested in the opinions of those she does not cherish, and has come to realize that she has little to lose ... that age above all is the time when there is little 'they' can do for you, very little reason to fear, to hide, or not to attempt brave and important things."
~ Carolyn Heilbrun

Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday's Fortunes and Not-a-Fortunes, Part Deux

On Friday, August 13th, I said I was taking a cue from my friend j at Zebra Sounds and writing a Friday round-up post. Since then, j has changed her format and is no longer writing Friday round-ups. She's now doing a "best of j's week" post each Friday, which is well worth checking out (just follow that link above). I could write a "best of A's week" post, but it wouldn't necessarily be about cookie inserts and, let's face it, that's why you're here. 

Happy Friday!

 I'll start off with a not-a-fortune frequent contributor Single Blonde in the City received (and deemed "lame"):
"You create your own stage and your audience is waiting."
She received this while traveling for work this past week (in her oh-so-favorite Texas town of (h)El Paso), where the Chinese food was bad and the not-a-fortune was worse. However, it may have been a reminder to be on time for her post-lunch presentation, which I have no doubt she rocked. 

A childhood friend of mine received a not-a-fortune that he labeled "pretty weak" (perhaps his not-a-fortune should spend some time with SBITC's not-a-fortune):
"Every wise man started out by asking many questions."
My take? In the realm of fortunes and not-a-fortunes, it's not so impressive. It's probably not a bad way to look at gaining knowledge, though.

My twitter friend Caroline sent me this little gem:

"Something wonderful is about to happy."
The grammarian in me should be upset about this, or at least find it amusing (and by amusing I mean, "our entire civilization is going to end because no one can form a grammatically correct sentence using less than seven words.) However, I've been in such a good mood this week that my usual cynicism is on temporary hiatus. Weird, I know. I find this actual fortune oddly compelling.

My parents came to visit last weekend. We had Chinese food Friday night. (I should have written a separate post for that but I didn't. We were busy.) We went back to a restaurant we hadn't been to in a couple of years. The food was quite good, as we remembered. The fortune cookies are kept in a large bowl by the door and you have to remember to pick them up on your way out, a fact my mother commented on more times than I'd like to recall. Needless to say, we remembered.
[Photo taken in Cabo, June 2010 - unrelated to fortune cookies but I needed something to break up the massive amounts of text in this post and thought you should be able to see how cute my parents are. Pretty cute, right?]

None of us received fortunes. Here are our not-a-fortunes, though:
"The greater part of inspiration is perspiration."
[This could have been predicting the future in some way, as the next morning we all set to work wrangling my new front yard and boy did it involve perspiration.]

"Not having a goal is more to be feared than not reaching one."

"A smile is a curve that can get a lot of things straight."
[This last one was my not-a-fortune. It's not original; I've received it before, as have others. However, I think it was timely.]

I'll round up this Friday post with an actual fortune from last night. I received what I can only imagine is the fortune meant for a mountain climber:

"Soon you will be sitting on top of the world."

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Homer Simpson, (Not-a-)Fortune Cookie Writer Extraordinaire?

About a week ago, two of my friends who are also Not-a-Fortune contributors contacted me to say that The Simpsons episode in which Homer visits a Chinese restaurant, complains about the unimaginative fortunes, and then becomes a cookie insert writer was airing. This prompted me to divulge that I had never seen an episode of the longest-running American sitcom (also the longest-running American animated program and, as of 2009 when it surpassed Gunsmoke, the longest-running American primetime entertainment program). And as of this posting I still have not seen an episode, even episode four of season thirteen, "A Hunka Hunka Burns in Love," in which one of Homer's actual fortunes ("You will find true love on Flag Day") makes its way to Mr. Burns and, presumably, hilarity ensues. Though my not having seen this episode is not for lack of trying. It was not available on youtube due to proprietary concerns (which is why you are not able to follow a link to view it here). Also, in case you're wondering, I have not seen any of the other episodes because my mother did not allow me to watch The Simpsons as a child. Something about language and that less-than-perfect kid Bart. In fact, when my best friend in the fourth grade gave me a perfectly good journal and stickers adorned with Lisa and Bart's faces, my sainted mother removed them from the house. Yes, readers, I have been deprived. 

However, thanks to those who keep afloat, you have not. Here are some of Homer's fortunes (and not-a-fortunes):

"You will invent a humorous toilet lid."
"You will find true love on Flag Day."
"Your store is being robbed."

Thanks to UnScurvyGirl and Jonesy for alerting me to this pop culture reference of which I was unaware.