Monthly Archives: April 2014
“…I just had the most TERRIFYING experience of my ENTIRE LIFE!!”
This is not how you want to start a conversation, any conversation, with one of your grown children.
Unfortunately, you don’t always get to choose how these things go. In fact, let me just say that you never get to choose how these random phone calls go.
And now, the rest of the story…
ME: WHERE ARE YOU???
BABY GIRL: Everything is fine….now
ME: What happened?
BABY GIRL: I locked Cutie-Pie in the car!
(It’s in the 80’s here, and the interior of a car gets really hot..really fecking fast)
BABY GIRL: I was leaving Crossfit, and I put her in her car seat and then laid the keys on the driver’s seat, and then put the backpack on the seat, and I don’t know…
(she starts crying)
ME: Is Cutie-Pie okay?
BABY GIRL: Yes, she’s fine.
ME: How long was she in there?
BABY GIRL: Ten minutes! Ten minutes, Mom!
ME: So tell me the rest.
BABY GIRL: Well, after I realized what I’d done, I ran to get “K” (K is her older sister and they Crossfit together), and then when we couldn’t find an open door we ran across the street to the Police station that happens to be there – thank God! – and they called the fire department.
ME: And how did the firemen get inside?
BABY GIRL: They took this thing that looks like a tire pump or something and put it in the door frame and pumped it up, then took a wire thing and popped the lock. It didn’t damage the mini-van at all.
ME: Luckily…but you can replace a vehicle.
BABY GIRL: I know…
(she starts crying again)
ME: And how was Cutie-Pie?
BABY GIRL: Very hot and sweaty, but she was just grinning at everyone. Probably wondered what all the fuss was about.
ME: Did the firemen check her over?
BABY GIRL: You know, Mom, I didn’t even let them. The minute the door was unlocked I slammed it open and grabbed her and hugged her and she kept saying, “You okay, Mommy?”
ME: Awwwwwww…so sweet. And she’s okay now.
BABY GIRL: Yes, now…but I’m still shaking.
ME: I can imagine, but remember some things. You didn’t panic. You acted fast, you knew what to do, you kept your head and Cutie-Pie is fine.
BABY GIRL: You’re right..you’re right.
ME: And what have we learned?
BABY GIRL: NEVER put the keys ANYWHERE, except in my bra.
And that was my Wednesday.
How was yours?
My Easter began with the traditional pre-Easter chewing of the door frame by our suddenly can’t-be-without-us rescue GSD on Saturday night, and proceeded to the traditional splish-splort-what-the-feck-is-going-on foray into the flooded bathroom and sewage back-up into both tubs/showers, followed by the now traditional monsoon minutes after the kids finished the Easter egg hunt. In between, there was one seriously wounded knee (mine, it met the enemy – the dishwasher door – and was soundly defeated) multiple loads of laundry as every towel in the house was called into service, mops, bleach, gloves, more bleach, paper towels, more bleach, one $320 plumber bill (snaked the sewer line, no roots found so he thinks we are okay), one black eye (granddaughter, meet plastic car in your brother’s running at full speed hands), one spilled soda all over the floor, table, rugs, and one collapsed table – one side decided to call it a night long before we were ready, and that’s when the drink got dumped on the floor, and it ended with hubby and I collapsing into a totally exhausted and so sore we could barely move heap. I need a vacation from my holiday…stat.
Most every time I go out in public, I end up with a story.
Earlier this week I went to a local Sprawl Mart to get a few things for the office.
It was a simple shopping trip.
But, we are a talking about me here.
I got to the self-checkout lane and rung up my purchases. I swiped my credit card, and that’s when things went horribly awry.
The screen read “Processing…Please Wait”, and it stuck there.
The helpful cashier monitoring the self-checkout lanes came over and tried to cancel, tried to suspend, tried…everything.
It didn’t work.
Instead, it got worse.
Slowly, I noticed cashiers and customers alike up and down the checkout lanes mashing buttons and cursing the gods of shopping as purchases were stuck in limbo.
Apparently, I’d broken Sprawl Mart.
Finally, after many minutes, one manager with long false eyelashes and nails started mashing on buttons at her console and the gods of shopping released their death grip on the machines.
I finished my transaction and booked it out of there.
I got in my car and noticed I needed gas, so I stopped at the nearest place and as the gas was pumping I decided I needed a vat of soda from their vast fountain selections.
I filled the vat with ice and diet soda, went to sit it on the counter so I could pay, and my miscalculations as to the height of said counter led to soda-launching as if from a trebuchet.
The now-drenched clerk waiting to ring me up stood there blinking at me, pieces of ice and rivers of soda running down her hair, face, shirt.
“Well, at least it’s diet…so…umm…you…uh…won’t….be…you know, sticky…” I mumbled as I backed away, intent on
reloading refilling my vat…because, dammit, destroying the world is thirsty business.
When I came back to the counter, I had a new
victim clerk waiting to take my money.
I paid, and got the hell out of there.
And this is why we can’t have nice things, and why I shouldn’t be allowed out without a chaperone.
There are many days I’m thankful for the Internet.
Finding such beauty is one reason.
Is texting and driving. I’ve never been touched by this type of tragedy, but I do everything I can to raise awareness, and hopefully prevent any of this from happening to anyone..ever again.
(no gore, just thought-provoking and heartbreaking..better grab the tissues)
“What is all this?”
The question startled me as I stood staring at the shelves laden with wildly overpriced ground coffee.
“This?”, I asked the dapper looking elderly gentleman standing before me.
“Yes”, he replied his accent very thick, but I was unable to tell just where he was from though it sounded Middle Eastern to my untrained ear.
“Coffee. Overpriced coffee.” I said, smiling, and thinking he’d move along I went back to looking at labels.
Lately, I’ve tried to pay attention to what I buy and attempt to buy things labeled “Fair Trade” whenever possible. I know tea, coffee, and chocolate are just some of the products popular for this practice and I do my best to help support local farming in my small ways.
“Oh, yes. Everything. Everything, it costs so much nowadays!” he exclaimed, and it became apparent he wanted to talk to this stranger he’d just met in the coffee aisle of our small town grocery store.
I smiled at him, “That’s the truth, for sure.”
“Why, I can remember when you could fill your shopping basket with fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and milk and spend $25 or $30!”
I, too, remember those days and nodded in agreement.
“Nowadays, it’s $300-$400 to feed a family fresh foods!”
He ended every statement with hand gestures, sometimes throwing both up in the air, sometimes clapping them together.
He was adorable.
“Where are you from?” I asked, intrigued by this gentleman.
“Palestine.”, he answered, “and when I came here, America it was heaven!” This last statement was punctuated by both arms going straight up to the sky as his eyes misted over.
I felt the catch in my throat.
Why don’t all people born and raised here feel that way?
“Yes, when I came here I came to Chicago and I could not believe the people…OH! They were all so wonderful. Now, not so much. I do not even know my neighbors, and I know people are busy, but it seems all of America is different now.”
I touched his arm and said gently, “Not all of America. Not you, right? And you are American, aren’t you?”
The misty-eyed man clasped his hands in front of his face and said, “Baby, you are America, too. And I love you!”
We both giggled.
He proceeded to tell me that he’d come to America in 1966 as a single 33-yr. old. He worked two jobs at first to help support his family left behind in Palestine. He had been a diesel and farm equipment mechanic all his life. He married a Palestinian woman, and had a son and two daughters.
His brothers, one a chemist, one a lawyer, followed him from Palestine in the early 70’s and eventually they brought their mother here, but after a couple of years she got lonely for the old country and went back home. She had passed away not long after returning to her homeland.
“Oh, but the British! They stab us after World War II,” he railed, his face darkening “they told us we would have a homeland after the war was over. That we must be patient, but they lied and stabbed us. And the Americans could do little. I blame all of Europe.”
“All of Europe?” I smiled and his face softened.
“Not everyone, but we should have the homeland.”
I know little of the Palestinian struggles, but when he told me that it was much like the story of Native Americans I understood a little more.
“Yes, we welcome the Europeans, the Jews, all of them. We share our land, we teach them to farm, and they kick us out.”
I stood there, watching a man in his early 80’s, almost 75 years removed from the perceived betrayal, and his passion and fire were palpable.
It dawned on me that challenges in the Middle East stem from hurts and betrayals that span centuries, and are so entangled it is impossible to completely understand, or remedy.
“So, you came to America.” I said, trying to steer him away from the dark corner he huddled in.
He smiled brightly, “Yes, yes I did and I love America. I love it more than Americans.”
You got that right, sigh…
“Well, not all Americans,” I countered, feeling a little defensive despite basically agreeing with him.
“No, not all. There’s you, baby. And you have renewed my hope.”
“I’m not alone, you might be surprised.”
“I hope so, baby, I think you have shown me something. But everyone is so busy, I do not even know my neighbors.”
“That’s true. We’re all so busy anymore.”
We spoke of front porches, and neighbors who watched out for each other’s kids, and times when there wasn’t a new fear around every corner.
Then, the conversation turned back to prices and wages.
“It is not fair, the wages down here.” He said, as he held his hand, palm down, about two feet off the floor, “and the prices way up here.” He said, holding his other hand high up over his head. “It is not fair.”
“I agree, but it is a price we pay for our free market system.”
“Aaah! In the old country, a strong leader would say LOWER THESE PRICES, and it would be done!” He pointed after every word for emphasis.
“Yes, but that’s not the way it’s done here. That is not our system of government; it is not in our Constitution.”
“Yes, well maybe a strong leader. Mr. Obama, he tried, but the Congress, they tell him NO! But, he is not strong.”
I couldn’t argue that point, nor disagree with it.
“It wouldn’t matter, it’s not our way of life. Isn’t that why you came here in the first place? So you could do anything you wanted, be anything you wanted? Make your fortune?”
He beamed, “Yes, yes I did. But, it hurts my heart to see my children and grandchildren struggle so.”
“Me too,” I said, “but remember, they too can make their fortunes and be anything they want. This is America.”
He grabbed my arms with his amazingly strong hands, and planted six kisses on each cheek.
“You, you are America and I love you baby!” He said, the tears really welling up now..in both of our eyes.
“Thank you, sir. Now be sure to instill a sense of history in those grandkids while you can. You are a walking history book, and they must learn from you.”
“I will, baby, I will.”
“It was so good to meet you.” I said, as I began to walk away, “maybe we will meet again.” (a distinct possibility, as this is a small town).
“I hope so, baby, I do. Have a wonderful day.”
And then, he was gone, walking spryly down the aisle and I stood there trying to catch my breath for a moment.
What a rare privilege I’d just been given! Had I served him well? Had I made a good impression for my fellow Americans?
I hoped so, because I was certain that Charlie had done the same for his fellow Palestinians.
Sometimes a random picture reveals so much….
Two of my precious grandchildren.
An enchanted granddaughter, and her brother the always-in-motion blur just to the left. In one frame, my daughter captures a moment in time – or so she thinks.
What she really captured is the essence of her children, at this particular moment in time.
It’s a rare, magical, perfect moment.