a daughter's humorous hope for a mom desperately missed OK, so first things first …of course Mom has Vidal Sassoon himself doing her hair and is looking fabulous! Mom met Nora Ephron at orientation and thought she was a cool chick. The two of them hitched a ride to the party with Ferdinand Porche in his 911. The excitement and grandeur was beyond words. Everyone was still buzzing about their Secret Santa gifts. Mom got a painting of a tree next to a cottage, all signs point to Thomas Kinkade. Soon after arriving Nora made a beeline for Helen Gurley Brown. "Are you seriously wearing nylons in heaven Helen?" Mom is definitely wearing "pantyhose" in heaven too, regardless of their extinction on earth. To the squish squash of rubbing thighs she approaches the ballroom in awe. Spotting an empty seat at Henry Hill's table, she goes for it. "This guy has to have great stories" Even in heaven, the scene is reminiscent of high school; the jocks sit at one table, the politicians, actors and musicians all with their respective cliques. The champagne flows. In one far corner Robert Bork, George McGovern and Arlen Spector can be heard having a spirited conversation about the recent election. Daniel Inouye is clearly the most excited. Ernest Borgnine and Larry Hagman haven't budged from the buffet. Sally Ride has clearly had one too many Tangtinis and is chasing Neil Armstrong around with mistletoe. Richard Dawson leads a rousing game of spin-the bottle. Phyllis Diller is thrilled to be the only woman this round. Andy Griffith, Jack Klugman & Sherman Helmsley don't seem to mind indulging the harmless fun until Zalman King takes things too far.James Herr stops by to offer some potato chips. Oh boy Mom, I know you're a sucker for a man in uniform but don't go stormin Norman yet, he just got there! And now, the moment Mom and everyone else in Heaven's Class of 2012 has been waiting for…Don Cornelius introduces Whitney Houston and Donna Summer! Let the party begin. Mommy could not walk for some time, now she grabs Robin Gibb and dances the night away. She never sits down and sings along to every song at the top of her lungs with boundless energy. Adam Yauch is teaching her to rap though she has no clue who he is. Davy Jones stands on a chair for a better view. Free from physical pain and mortal concerns everyone is smiling & laughing. At last, Etta James takes the stage and slows things down. Dick Clark presides over the big ball drop while the room counts down in unison. The Class of 2012 has graduated and the calendar begins again.
I love my husband's family. When my husband and I first started dating, his family treated me as though I were already one of them. My husband became a widower the year before and I'd been single for much longer than that. Second marriages aren't always easy but when you have a family of in-laws that open their arms and accept you immediately, it makes life a lot simpler. While a few of his brothers were on the quiet side and others were more extroverted, they all were friendly and loving. The only exception was his sisters. None of them were introverted in the slightest way. When I say we were one big happy family, it's said with the absolute truth. Through the years, as each sibling's health weakened, communication became more important. The problem was that while they enjoyed speaking to each other, my husband is not a telephone person. In fact, he really hates speaking on the phone and avoids it as much as possible. Time past and now there are four of them left which includes my husband. While in my own mind, he should make more of an effort to call his sisters and brother, in his mind, he will when he has time. My husband is 80 and retired. I insist he can make time. He reminds me that he's too busy doing the gardening and general maintenance on the house. We don't live in a run-down, ramschackled house. It's 20 years old and in very good condition. He can take 20 minutes out and call his siblings. Unfortunately, he doesn't. I do. His remaining brother calls at least three times a week and leaves messages such as: “Hey, wanted to say hello and check in. Call back.” “It's me again. Haven't heard from you. Hope everything's ok. Call back.” “Uh, what's going on? Is something wrong? Call back.” “Come on, really? What's your problem? Call me back today! Damn it.” I give my husband the messages. He ignores them. No, he isn't angry with his brother. Their relationship is fine. It's my husband's problem with phones. The other problem is that his brother is an invalid, living in a nursing home, and has nothing to do. My husband keeps himself busy with yard work, and other things around the house. He never was one to sit still. There lies a good portion of the problem. His brother doesn't understand why Rich won't call him back immediately or why he doesn't answer the phone in the first place. Rich says his brother should find a hobby to occupy his time. Today, I found another messages on my husband's phone. I said, “Don't shoot the messenger but please listed to your brother's message.” He did. Then he grabbed the phone and said, “That's it! I'm going to straighten this out once and for all!” I tried reminding him that his brother lived over a thousand miles away, has no one to visit him, is easily bored. He's just looking to have someone to talk to. My husband remined me that he has things to do. One of his sisters called but is still trying to get used to her new cell phone. She kept disconnecting herself. She'd call and lose the connection. I'd call her back and she'd lose the connection. This went on for fifteen minutes and then I just didn't return her calls. I might try again tomorrow. I saw no point in telling this to my husband since there really wasn't anything to say. After that bit of thunder-rolling atmosphere involving my brother-in-law, I received a text from my other sister-in-law stating she was out of the hospital and staying with her daughter. I walked out the back door and said, “Jane called.” Before I could relay the message, he looked at me with daggers coming out of his eyes. I interrupted him. “Hey, just a quick message,” I began. “She's fine, out of the hospital, and staying with her daughter.” “Oh, ok” he said and calmed down. I know tonight, once dinner is done, he'll call his sister. Maybe I can even get him to call his other sister. At least, they'll be quieter conversations than the one he had earlier. Oh boy! It seems the older we get, the less patience we have. There are times when I could smack Alexander Bell on the head and say, “Why did you ever invent such a troublesome instrument?” There are so many times it comes in so handy but then there are other times!! As I walked away toward the house, my first thought was, “I'm not getting paid enough for this.” Then I realized, “Hey, wait! I'm not getting paid at all!”
Never in my wildest dreams, did I ever think I'd face an identity crisis. While it's true that for my entire life, I've had a nickname that has nothing to do with my legal name, I always knew who I was. When I became a teenager, the time arose for me to apply for my social security number. Yes, I'm that old - nowadays, a child is given a number upon birth. Back when I was born, that didn't happen. You “applied” for your number, usually at the age 16. You needed one so you could work, and the government collect their taxes. Being like most people, with forms and applications of every kind to fill out, it was easier to remember my number than to always retrieve it from my wallet. Things were simpler then. Only a few businesses owned computers and even they were limited. As technology expanded, computers became more popular. Before too long, many people were buying computers for their homes to keep track of whatever they needed to be kept track of. Then, the unthinkable, unimaginable, science-fiction-like tool began filtering in, not just for businesses, but homes as well. I'm talking about the Internet! When I was a kid, not even the most imaginative sci-fi movie maker entertained thoughts of the Internet. Now, most everyone who owns a computer wants an online service provider. Yes, there are still a few who prefer staying off-line. You can join clubs, do research, receive, and send mail, do online banking and a whole lot more to make our every day lives easier. The only problem is that almost everything you do online, requires a username and password. Maybe it isn't so much of a problem, but it can get complicated. Since these sites don't intertwine with each other, most often you can use the same username and password. At least, then, you can remember them, but some computer geek began designing problems that required more letters to your username and password. So, if you wanted to use mydog, suddenly, you'd need to write, mydoggy - or something similar. In many cases, four or five lettered words or names aren't acceptable. To make matters worse, some sites want you to include a number or two. In that case, you could write my1doggie. Or maybe, doggie1pet? There are a few people, like me, who prefer is using a variation of their names. Tom might turn out to be tommyboy. Angela could be angiebaby. That's fine until you get beyond the username. Now, add your password. Tommyboy might use loverboy as his password. At least until he signs onto a site that requires a number. Tommyboy might now be loverboy1. Does that mean he's the first lover boy or the only one? Hmm! Good question! What about those crazy sites that want you to put the number somewhere IN the letters? Suddenly, loverboy1, might turn out to be lover1boy. I registered with a site today that wanted eight characters - didn't matter the amount of numbers or letters as long as I used a full eight characters. Oh, yes, there was a stipulation! No two alike characters were allowed to be near each other. So, if tommyboy were to sign on to that site, tommyboy would have to have his name to tomyboyme or just use a completely different username. Can you imagine the dilemma my friend has? Her name is Lorraine. She likes to sign on using her first name and last initial, which is E. Her password is - or used to be - the last four digits of her phone number. So, how would she sign on with (user) Lorrainee, (password) 7111? Somehow, I don't think that would work! Before the Internet became popular, I never had a problem remembering who I am. My name was familiar to me as, well, my name! Now, every time I attempt to log on to an Internet site, I must first grab my small spiral notebook, look up the site's name, then find out what name I used when I registered. When I think that the Internet is supposed to make life easier, and more often than not, it does, my first thought after attempting to log on is, “What were they thinking?” In today's society, we have Internet Hackers who are determined to steal our identities or whatever else they can get their keyboards on. The Internet is no longer as safe as it once was, even with the use of our usernames and passwords. Don't misunderstand. I'm not really complaining too much about the Internet and its security, which now has become a nightmare, but as we get older, our memories begin to slip a bit. We aren't quite as sharp as we once had been nor do we remember as much as we once did. I realize that all these precautions in logging on the Internet are for our own protection. No one wants to be a victim of Identity Theft. On the other hand, though, I don't want to be a victim of my own Identity Crisis - which is something I feel I face every time I turn on my computer.
Did you ever notice that sometimes, the older generation are much more laid-back at festivities than young adults who are always tensed about appearances? I suppose the former's age gets muffins on them. It was my mother-in-law's birthday and the day I realised my mind's conscientious density was as lacking as that of a driver tooling his car with water instead of petrol. My family decided on celebrating the occasion at home. The guests for the fiesta included only people from the senior generation. It had been eight months since I was married into a Jain joint family. There were no pretences from them for a newcomer. Each of them were habitual around me. I tried being the same, only I was bashful. But being a discreet, weird, watchful, reflective thinker, only talking where may be necessary, I can say I went overboard with myself. Being the first amongst family and friends to get married, I had always been too apprehensive. The satisfaction of feeling accepted was my target. Even though I might have not needed to, I decided that the best way to express my adoration for the new folks was by impressing them by taking up the task of cooking all by myself with the secret ingredient of love, for the get-together. Earlier, cooking for me used to be all about melting cheese on bread, pun intended. Then I cooked only to find that no one ate it or it was too difficult or only to find that it looked like nothing in the photos of recipes on the internet. Over the years though, I had mastered ‘some' exotic looking dishes. It was a way to show-off my culinary skills and get a few compliments in my kitty. My sister-in-law and I prepared a menu for our little get-together. It all seemed easy (only someone should have told us that if it seems easy, we're doing it wrong). We went over it a million times, always trying to add something better to satisfy our guests and to make it part of the entertainment. Yes, food is the life and soul of the party here. Using the best of my knowledge in the area I tried and included the most delectable and colourful looking dishes to flaunt my skills. Well, cooking is like chemistry. Only by tweaking and mixing the most interesting substances do you get a reaction. In this case reactions would be appreciative or detractive. I sorted out the house to make it look neat before the guests arrived and kept all essentials like water, tissues and food. Sweating the vegetables for flavour, bruising herbs to bring out their full flavour and decorating it with a chiffonade of cilantro was all done. The appetizers which consisted of ingredients like paneer and bread were all prepared and the desserts and cake were baked – all in a birthday's work. It was now time to play the perfect host. A playlist that I compiled earlier with Indian melodies from the past started to buzz. A certain level of joy exuded while I greeted the guests. They hailed in return along with compliments about the décor, the clothes and the aroma of the special chemical tweaks from the kitchen. My timid nature came in the way and we all went about our own ways. Everyone was perfectly dressed. There were games and the whole bunch of elderly visitors enjoyed themselves as if to say nobody was watching them at the fiesta. There was a slice of merrymaking and story baking. The food was served, eaten and then I hit my head. I had liked the look and peel of the dishes but it did nothing to honour my mother-in-law. At the bake of my mind I hoped to turn bake the clock. It so happens that the celebrant didn't eat cakes, English-desserts, English-bread, cottage cheese or any dishes with ketchup which primarily constituted all of the dishes in the menu. My half-baked menu plan was a disaster! The quest to feel a certain way trapped my mind into ignoring the obvious. I expected a litany of salty complaints from my folks but to my surprise the whole situation was ignored. My kind-hearted in-law didn't eat anything but she discounted the situation. My fear of being judged was false. All I can say is that I'm lucky-fluky but that doesn't mean I did the right thing. I did bake a mistake. I put all of the attention to the taste of the food rather than the person who was supposed to be honoured with it. There was no change in the molecular structure and no chemical reaction. Like someone said ‘soiree' seems to be the hardest word. I can only remember one quote by Ben Tolosa- ‘Most jokes come from good intentions – and most mistakes too.' After all, tomorrow is another birthday.
MAKE YOURSELF AT HOME – AND HE DID My husband and I were delighted when we finally retired and planned to move into our new home in sunny Florida. We carefully chose the lot and builder and in the blink of an eye, six months passed, and the house was halfway completed. Wanting to be sure the construction went as planned, we began packing. Our goal was to rent a small house until it was time to move into our own permanently. Three of our four children were married, three of them with their own families. One lived in Connecticut, two on Long Island and ironically, one on the east coast of Florida. While it would be heart-wrenching to leave three children and their families behind, we were glad we still had a son and his family close by. A three-hour drive and we'd be at their door – or vice versa. That eased the tug on our heartstrings. The excitement of doing what we wanted and when grew. No more rising early and commuting to jobs only to face traffic again on the way back home – and all do it over again the next day! Retirement was looking really good. However, we promised our children we would visit as often as possible but also, we wanted them to see our new home. We volunteered to pay the airfare for their first visit to Florida. “Our treat", we promised” The sad part was that we could not get all four children to make the trip at the same time. Their work schedules just didn't sync. When the time came for each to visit, we advised them to pack lightly. We had a new washer and dryer and saw no need overloading suitcases especially when two of them had small children to worry about. Our youngest son took that advice to heart. We made the arrangements for the visit for Richie and his fiancé. As promised, he called as he left his apartment for the airport. We mentioned we wanted to check the internet for flight information so we would not be late picking up him and Christie. He said not to worry about that because he wanted to rent a car to experience driving around Florida. Richie always was independent, so we agreed. When they pulled into the driveway, my husband and I hurried out the door to meet them and saw he rented a beautiful, red pickup with a hard-enclosed bed. They opened the bed cover and our soon-to-be-daughter-in-law pulled out a small carry on case. Our son on the other hand pulled out two exceptionally large duffel bags. Jokingly I said to him, “What did you do bring all your dirty laundry?” He looked from me to his father and then back to me. A wide grin spread over his face as he said, “Well you did say you had a new washer and dryer. I just thought you might want to check it out, and break it in, so yeah I brought my laundry.” There was about two weeks' worth of dirty laundry. We hugged and had a hearty laugh as I showed him were the laundry room was. I showed Christie to the guest bedroom and she unpacked her clean clothes. Looking back on that day still makes me smile. After all, we did tell them to feel right at home and make themselves comfortable. He sure did as he spent the next two days doing laundry and we spent the next two days entertaining him and his fiancé while he did.
I have always loved Tuesdays; it's arguably my best day of the week (sorry, Friday). Some of the best things in my life have happened on a Tuesday. Maybe my love for this particular day of the week was born from the fact that I was born on a Tuesday, a tiny bundle of wrinkled pink flesh that had to fight for every breath she took. I know this because my mother is also a very good storyteller. This particular Tuesday I walked into the hospital where I worked in very high spirits. Because right along with telling stories, I was also passionate about patching up broken bodies and minds. The corona virus pandemic had kept us busy, overworked and under-rested, but considering the world statistics of morbidity and mortality, it was a good day to be alive and healthy! Our changing room was rife with laughter and bad jokes which were being steadily doled out by Claire as we shared a pack of juice and a packet of biscuits while getting ready to take over the shift. Claire was a fountain of jokes; she had the unique talent of drawing humour out of anything. We sometimes asked her why she didn't pursue a career in comedy, her answer was always the same, delivered with the best poker face I'd ever seen; “I have to learn how to resuscitate anyone who might choke on my horrible jokes first!” This delivery was our favourite, and it always had us in stitches. Claire's husband had been injured in a construction accident a couple years ago, so she had to take care of him and their two kids without help while pulling twelve to fifteen hour shifts. Claire never came to work without her brightest smile and her best worst jokes. These people, the men and women I had been privileged to fight this viral war with, they were the best. And as I looked around at them, I recognized the tightness in my chest for what it was; it was gratitude. “Mimi, why do you look like you just ate a sour grape?” that was Vivian, perceptive, sensitive Vivian who made the best snacks and the best impressions of anyone. “Maybe it's your weak attempt at doing Claire's bad jokes; it leaves a funny taste in my mouth.” The responding laughter was immediate and boisterous. Vivian massaged the dark circles beneath her eyes as the laughter died down, her mother had Alzheimer's, and some nights were worse than others. Last night seemed to have been one of those. We could always tell from the tired lines around her eyes and the eye bags. Those bags- she claimed- added character to her laugh lines. The silence that followed was an acknowledgement; it was time to go in. Our little slice of calm was over, and the storm was ripe for placating. The ER was my favourite place to work, everyday brought hundreds of unique, beautiful stories of flawed and vulnerable people, at a pace that was startlingly fast and forced me to keep up. This Tuesday, I was assigned to the ER. With my protective equipments in place, I headed to the triage station. I could feel the adrenaline rush, the sweet staccato beats of my heart and the blood roaring through my ears. This Tuesday would be as good as they came. The morning went by in a blur. A couple of teenagers in a domestic accident, an elderly lady in hypoglycaemic shock, a toddler with severe dehydration and a middle aged man who lived alone and had suffered a heart attack. Every case, every story was a brush stroke of gray in varying shades imprinted on my thoughts. This was why I could explain jaded in a million different stories. By mid morning, my Hazmat suit was getting itchy and constricting. This wasn't unusual in itself; it was the fair price we had to pay for being the first line of defense against potential Corona virus cases. What wasn't usual though, was my vision. It was dancing, and there were hazy edges to it. I floated over to my desk, feeling like a giant cotton ball but I don't remember sitting down. The next time my eyes opened, some colleagues were peering down at me. Wait, why were they peering down? Right, I was in a bed with an intravenous line in my arm. “Lay back down nurse, you don't want to topple over.” It was Dr. Ahmed, the resident ER doctor. He had been standing off to the side making notes and peering down at me. “I feel fine already, let me up.” I reached for the IV line in my arm and was met with a slap and protest from my colleagues. “Don't let me restrain you!” Claire threatened, her brows drawing up in a way I had only ever seen it do when she did the rounds in the ER. My response was a chuckle. There was a dizzying amount of talking going on around me, and instructions being thrown around. But I did get one thing from the head nurse and Dr. Ahmed; I was not getting out of that bed today, and I was taking the whole week off for strict supervision and bed rest. It's a good thing I lived alone so there was no one to worry about my week long absence. I guess this Tuesday was one of my not so popular ones.
Since becoming inherently laid off; my time has become deluded with ambition, and hurtles. As I recap this summer; I engulf the memories then chased down with the idea that winter will be slightly better. If I'm fair; I can't emphasize enough how hassling it was trying to solve fractions; repeating steps multiple times with my daughter. Not to mention; the encouraging YouTube links that entails the directions from the lighthearted teachers. Needless to say, the links rarely ever worked. From juggling several online services to accommodate the different subjects. To video uploads demonstrating exercise regiments for phys ed. To google meets that never happened, due to inactive codes or, unsupported software. Then there's the "cat chewed my computer charger" so lets add two weeks of completed online learning from my Android. The uncertainty of school due to Corona-virus is unsettling. Although saddened to have reached the end of the school year without experiencing the awe of 5th grade continuation. We made it through the first hurtle.. Working for a full-service hotel; one would think my employment was salvageable. Wrong! I've been laid off since March 18th, and months later; my phone still hasn't rang. Hotel chains were effected widely due to the pandemic. Business trajectory is on the decline for the remainder of the year. Fortunately, a predominant congregated mix of lefties and righties stamped the approval of providing us fellow Americans extra financial assistance. What, you thought I was gonna to complain? I'm content with the gesture. Though somewhere in between the minimum weekly deposits and constant runs to Walmart. My cup remains half full. During this down time, I danced around the topic of self doubt. Becoming apprehensive to what my next steps would be. I mean, I now have goals that were put on hold because of the pandemic. I'm not sure how I see myself coming out of this pandemic. How do I manifest my potential so that I come out on top? Just keep my eye on the prize, and keep writing. Sadly, the death of George Floyd detoured me from writing. Another unarmed black man dies by the hands of police. Not only that, but to experience the silence of particularly close white acquaintances is baffling. To know that discussing racism will continue to be evaded and contradicted; by not only justifying wrongful actions, but persecuting the victim according to his past. People are so closed minded. I felt anger ten times over. I felt shame, undesirable. To think Facebook was appropriate for expressing my thoughts. I should've known better. The rant and raving over Black Lives Matter, to Anti-fa, to disbanding the police. It was unending, one sided arguments. I will never get to where I'm going, if I keep feeding the very entity that's distracting me... so I got my ass off Facebook. My husband is German and Irish, so as an interracial couple it is important to use the moment instead; to enlighten, openly discuss point of views with my family. Living in St. Cloud MN. My family and I were honored to attend one the memorial for Floyd. To see so many people from different walks of life, come together; is heartening, and powerful. As a mother of a black child , I am afraid of what lies ahead for my daughter. I can only teach her, until she's come onto her own. Until then, I where my crown triumphantly for her. Well, as I stated previously; I got my ass off of Facebook, and put my focus back into writing. I was finally able to complete my screenplay now copyrighted and registered to the Writers Guild of America West. Day and night, weekends, five drafts later... I finally did it. Although attending the writers conference in Austin TX was the plan, however that dream was crushed by the NAZI alias known as Corona-Virus. As if it wasn't easy enough to become discouraged as a writer. All in all, I've conquered the hardest part...completion. Afterwards, a road trip sounded fairly accommodating after being on lock down. Ehem! COVID. We packed the Kiddos, rented an SUV bound for Fort Myers Florida. It was a day and a half journey across seven states. Wisconsin blows. To arrive at our beach front hotel, with ocean side restaurants. The sun; miserably hot, the ocean warm enough to bathe, and not think twice about the bull sharks that lurked just where the shallow clashes with the dark cold. Fortunate to make it back home safely before the fleeting surge in corona cases. Well worth the trip. Back home, and anxious to write more driven than before. Two screenplays in the making. With unemployment ending soon. I'll eventually apply for suitable work, until I am updated from my current employer. As of now; work is not promising, but what can I do. Optimism is key. Also, since mandating wearing masks; I've gotten acquainted with my breath. Lets just say... I almost blamed someone else. We'll just leave it at that.
Alice fiddled with the latch on her Coach key chain as she sat at her desk waiting for the phone to ring. Why she even bothered, was a whole other story. Of course no one was calling, it was 7 a.m. Everyone knew the corporate big wigs didn't roll out of their martini, steak and hooker fueled hangovers to lug their girth to work until at least 9 a.m. Plus, it was a Friday morning and everyone knew that Thursday nights were the new Saturdays. Still, she had to be there. She was the low girl on the totem pole in the sleek, shiny New Vision offices. Morning phone duty rotated once a month among the youngest assistants and even though she had some age on her colleagues, she was new at this job, having bounced around from temp agencies to sugar daddies throughout her twenties. Yawning loudly (because really, who was listening), she drained the last of her coffee. Last night was epic she thought, but having recently crested over the hill from 29 into 30 it was getting harder and harder to bounce back like she had in her younger years. Eyeing the empty coffee cup, her gaze wandered beyond her cubicle towards her manager's office and then down the hallway where the EVP of human resources enjoyed his pristine corner office digs. For once, she was not lusting after his river view. The break room was situated at the end of that hallway and she desperately craved another cup of coffee. Could she leave her post for no more than five minutes to brew some Green Mountain in the Keurig? It wasn't her grande-nonfat soy latte, but it would do the trick. Toying with the idea while absentmindedly twirling her frosted locks she attempted to distract herself from her exhaustion but it was too overwhelming. Glossing over the stacks of invoices waiting to be entered into a spreadsheet, she ignored the angel on her shoulder; that had morphed into the voice of her obnoxiously chipper millennial manager stressing just how important morning phone duty is. “The markets are open across the globe at all hours; it is pivotal that someone is there to field calls and direct any messages to the EVP as soon as possible...Your role, though small, keeps the company going…blah, blah, blah.” Looking at the devil and praying to the caffeine Gods she sprinted down the hallway. When she returned ten minutes later, having not anticipated a lack of non dairy milk products, she was already pondering her plans for that evening. It was only when she grabbed her phone to jump on Instagram that she noticed the red message light blinking aggressively on the master phone at her desk. She barely noticed as the coffee dripped over the invoices and down the edge of the table.
Each day of this quarantine is a little different. Some days there is energy and motivation, and other days there is beer with lunch. I am trying to manage my anxiety around reopening the world by continuing to stay at home as much as possible and see new people as little as possible. However, I did go to a small business craft store with my daughter the other day and was pleased with how they were making sure people couldn't sneeze on one another. It required suiting up with gloves and taking a sanitizer bath, but I felt safe and it encouraged a great conversation with my daughter around how we as humans will always learn to adapt to new situations. Today was a day that I woke up and thought, " Ugh, what am I going to do to fill the time between now and when I get to go back to sleep?" I wanted to just stay right there and not move until bedtime, watching episodes of Shrill or Bob's Burgers until my eyes were tired and eating bags of chips in bed until I realizing that I would now have to get up to clean the crumbs off of the sheets. But I have kids. My daughter has an open-air farm camp she needs to get to so she can stand in hula hoop away from the other kids while wearing a mask and trying to socialize, (see? we adapt!), and my son is 5 so he obviously needs me to come running into his room first thing in the morning so he can sing me the chorus to "Africa", (he prefers the Weezer version, sorry Toto), while still laying in his bed. So, staying in my own bed and being lazy all day isn't even an option. If it were an option, I would be horribly judged by everyone reading this because that would mean that my children were exposed to too much screen time, whatever that magic amount of "just enough" is, I have no idea, but I am sure a day of Bob's Burgers is probably past that point. Some days I get ready as if I were going to see people and wanted to impress. But like I said, each day of Covid living is a little different, so there are also the days where I decide I am fine the way I woke up and everyone else can shove it. Today, I am sure that putting on makeup would AT LEAST help pass the time, but I think I will save it for when I am super bored. Later, I will probably have to stand outside for an hour, minimum, while watching my son ride his bike up and down the street; a daily ritual that he will never get bored of and that makes me want to set something on fire. After that I will probably start a loaf of sourdough bread to feel like I contributed to the household economy and then let my son have screens for too long so that I can read/take a shower/stare at the wall for a while, and not have someone climbing on me or shooting me with Nerf bullets or yelling for me to come and take the arms off of his lego men. And tonight, after eating a dinner that my husband made and the kids won't eat, I will sit in bed with my husband and watch TV (finally) while the kids fall asleep in their own damn beds. When I wake up in the morning it will be a different day and I will wonder what I will do to fill the space between waking up and going back to bed. For now, it's lunch time and I think I am going to have a beer.
Is it just me or does the thought of going on a cruise ship immediately make you think of the part of "The Life Aquatic" where they get boarded by pirates or the scene in the "Titanic" where Leo is chained to a pipe and water is rising up around him? Knowing my luck, I would be on the cruise ship that was boarded by pirates while it was sinking and be somehow trapped in the room with the pipes. Cruise ships are a hard pass. Is it just me or does the thought of your neighbors being upset with your chickens make you wake up at 6:30 in the morning just to run outside and "shush" them while they strut around the coop screeching/boasting about the eggs they just laid or the eggs they're planning on laying, and then when that inevitably doesn't work you end up giving them all of your rice cakes so they don't wake up everyone in a 3 mile radius, but the thought of getting rid of said chickens makes you nauseous with guilt? Is it just me or is that sound outside probably a murderer? Is it just me or are these WEB MD diagnoses making it sound like I either have the common cold or the bubonic plague? No inbetween. Is it just me or do awkward moments in a TV show or a movie cause you to get up and leave the room with excuses like, "I have to go pee, you don't have to pause it for me," or " I am going to make 5 batches of cookies, leave it on, I can watch from the kitchen," ? Shows like "Extras" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" are basically reasons for me to get things done around the house so I can avoid seeing other people make asses out of themselves. Is it just me or should we give these pickled beets I canned last summer to someone else so they can act as my poison tester. If they don't die after eating them then maybe I will open the other can. But what if they lied about opening them just so I wouldn't be upset that they hadn't yet? Or what if THAT jar was fine but MY jar is actually filled with botulism? Is it just me or is it too late to become that kind of parent that doesn't give their kids screens? And if I take screens away do I have to replace it with something? Or can they just figure that shit out themselves? Is it just me or is my Memoji prettier than I am in real life? Is it just me or did that prescription commercial just quickly list about 500 ways it could kill me, making me want to remember the name of it just so I can tell my doctor what I DON"T want should I ever develop the ailment that those middle aged, white collar, housewives had? Is it just me or did the cat puke in my sandals on purpose? Is it just me or did I say that thing that one time and everyone still remembers it and probably hates me? Is it just me or...?
My lovely, ever patient wife went to town today. The mid morning sky was chromed in classic Montana blue as a summer breeze performed a Burlesque fan dance through the forest. She had some errands to run, and needed a well deserved break from her retired husband's manic rants. Not a quarter mile from our off-grid cabin, she witnessed a mountain lion take down a small Whitetail. The muscular cougar stretched across the gravel road, -seven feet whiskers to tail tip- caught the deer by the shoulder and snapped its neck. The attack was quick, efficient and both creatures disappeared before her SUV passed the spot where it happened. Nature is like that, succinct. My wife adjusted her sunglasses, checked all her mirrors and proceeded down the mountain. Four blind curves and two cutbacks later she watched as a towering Larch fell on top of a single-wide motorhome, crushing it into the ground. The huge conifer bounced two times before settling in a cloud of clay dust and pine needles. A lone man carrying a running chainsaw walked out of the brush and threw his hat on the ground. My wife shook her head, not bothering to stop and ask if he was alright. The smashed motorhome looked like a cross between an accordion and a bow tie. Today it was a motor home, tomorrow a pick-up truck. Those type of incidents happen all the time. The second most told story at Wednesday night bowling league only overshadowed by someone's latest hunting story. About a mile from the Teddy Roosevelt steel bridge, linking the East side of the Kootenai river to the West and connecting the forest to the town my pro-life sweetie swerved to avoid mashing a squirrel and blew a tire instead. After steering her SUV to the side of the road, and waiting for the gravel dust to settle, she got out and examined the tire. There's no cell phone reception in the mountains, even this close to town. The only reception spot is in the Southwest corner of the grocery store parking lot. My sure-to-be canonized spouse had to walk the last mile into town. Fortunately it was a beautiful day, sunny, warm but not hot and the forest smelled of wild flowers. She crossed the bridge, stopping momentarily to admire the emerald clarity of the river running beneath. The Kootenai “chameleons” from a milky jade to a deep jade in spring, transforming into a sparkling emerald in the summer and swirls into a deep serpentine green in the fall. The aesthetic never gets old. In town, positioning herself in the Southwest corner of the grocery store parking lot, my sweet love first called the tow service, TAZ towing, and Bobby the owner -a slight of build cartoon character- said he'd pick up the truck right after his lunch at Jacks diner, they were having his favorite, roast beef on toast, gravy and mashed potatoes. That announcement prompted tiny growls of hunger in my wife's stomach. Ignoring the pangs, she next phoned her friend and church buddy who lived south of town for a ride home. The woman said she'd be happy to pick my wife up at the store. With that confirmation, my resourceful honey proceeded inside for some grocery supplies. The check-out computer was down again so the cash registers had to be operated manually. A common occurrence for a technically challenged, small town. A half hour later she stood outside, a plastic bag in each hand and her saddlebag purse hung on her shoulder. Her ride back home was uneventful. Our bullmastiff Tassie raised her head off the couch and made a quiet chuff, and that's how I knew my wife had returned. I walked into the kitchen to refill my coffee cup as she entered the back door. “Hey hon, how was your foray to town?” She set the bags on the counter, dropped her purse on a chair by the door, then went to the glassware shelf and pulled down a cocktail glass. “What cha doin'” I asked, as it was not quiet our customary “booze O'clock” yet. “What does it look like I'm doing? You ask the stupidest questions sometimes.” “I dunno, we're out of vodka.” “Then give me the scotch.” I poured her two fingers and she made a casino Black Jack signal to hit her again. “I take it something happened?” “Nope.” she said taking her four fingers of scotch to her favorite recliner, “Everything was fine. Steins was having a 10lb meat sale.” I peaked out the backdoor window and noticed her truck missing and the taillights of her friends car headed down our long drive. I took a moment to study my wife's profile as she relaxed in her chair and sipping scotch. I admired the calm and content features of the woman who left the big city, learned to gut and dress livestock, qualify 98 out of a hundred target hits with a semi-automatic, garden and can everything from turnips to bear hump, take care of my parents, three dogs and a cat and still strong-arm me into marrying her after 20 years common law. I sipped my coffee and didn't ask anymore questions. I love my wife, she's a rock.
Every few weeks, many of my friends and I get together for lunch. It's been a habit of ours for several years. When my mom moved in with us, I decided to include her in these activities. Mom soon became a favorite member of our group and the women looked forward to hearing her tales of things past, her times in America when she was little and emigrated with her mother from England, but mostly, the antics of her middle child – me! My friends vied for the opportunity to sit next to mom and encourage her speak her memories. Mom always obliged. Knowing mom was nearly blind due to severe age-related macular degeneration, our lunch group made sure mom received all the care and attention she needed. One luncheon started during a beautiful, sunny morning. We met at the restaurant just around 11:30am. However, by the time we were getting ready to leave, the heavens opened, and a torrent of rain was pouring down. We debated trying to make a run for our cars or waiting out the quick-moving Florida rain. Looking at mom, we took into consideration since she was wheelchair bound racing her through the rain wasn't something advisable. The decision was made. We'd stay a bit longer and order dessert, something we dieters rarely do. That day, we'd make an exception. As we looked at the dessert menus, I asked mom what she'd like. Without hesitation, she said, “I'd love a big piece of Strawberry Shortcake!” When the waitress arrived to take our latest orders, I asked for the strawberry shortcake but with two forks.” I had to at pretend to watch my calories! Our orders started arriving at our table and everyone oohed and aahed at each plate. The waitress placed the strawberry shortcake in front of mom. She squinted at it trying desperately to see it and then asked what it was. “Mom, it's the strawberry shortcake you said you wanted” Mom looked perplexed and in a loud voice said, “Why on earth did you listen to me? I was only joking. I don't even like strawberry shortcake!” I ordered a slice of apple pie for mom and I ate the strawberry shortcake. But despite the extra and unneeded calorie intake, we all had a great time and hearty laugh at mom's sense of humor. Yes, mom ate all her apple pie and asked if we could make one once we arrived home. “Mom, you are joking, right?” I really had no idea. Then, in front of the entire group of women added another of her zingers: “Of, course I am” she said, “Everyone knows you can't bake applies pies! You always manage to mess them up. We'll just stop at the supermarket and pick one up for later.” Now, all these years later, whenever I see a piece of strawberry shortcake, it reminds me of mom and the day she ordered hers.
My dad stood in the kitchen as he watched Mom concentrating on the refrigerator door. “Mary,” he said quietly, “If you put one more magnet on that refrigerator, the door will be so heavy, it'll fall off!” Mary said, “Guess I do have quite a collection, don't I?” “Frank”. Do you remember when I bought this one?” As he stepped forward to have a better look, Mom pulled it small magnet off the refrigerator and handed it to him. It looked like a miniature egg beater. “I bought this right after Margaret was married. Remember?” She took it from him and sighing deeply continued, “We visited her new home and stopped for gasoline on the way. I saw this and decided it would make the perfect piece of memorabilia. We were so proud of her. Young, pretty, smart, a good husband and a new home!” Dad stood mesmerized as he recalled that trip. “Maryland” came from the first time they visited my younger sister after she moved down south with her new husband. “Montauk” brought back the memories of their first vacation alone after their children married and moved away. She never removed the next one, just pointed to it. In a voice that almost sounded like a whisper, Mom said, “I'm sure this will break if I try to remove it but look. It reminds me of the day, Margaret visited and announced she was pregnant.” “Our first grandchild! What a memory! I can't begin to explain how thrilled I was. Remember, Frank?” She looked at him through misty eyes. “After Margaret and her husband left, you drove me to the store so I could buy some wool. I was so excited to begin knitting a hat with the matching sweater and carriage blanket. When I approached the cashier, I saw this cute little plastic baby bottle and knew it needed a new home – on my refrigerator!” Dad remembered and he, too sighed. “So long ago, Mary and yet, it seems like yesterday. How old is Ken now anyway? 19?” “Oh my, Frank, no!” she said as she smiled and gently and affectionately stroked his arm. “He's all grown up now, He's almost 24 and our little girl will be 45 in a few months.” Dad, in a bit of shock, grabbed the back of the nearest chair and wanted very much to sit down – yet the magnets pulled at him as if he were a piece of metal. “Go on,” he encouraged Mom while trying to pull himself together remembering that he was 45 years old when his first grandson was born. Mom remembered the reason she bought each one. For instance, the tiny telephone. It was about 2-inches high and one inch wide. It was hard molded plastic, but if you picked up the handpiece and pressed its small cradle, the device emitted a sound replicating the ringing of an old-fashioned telephone. Mom said she got that from the 5 & 10 cent store during its last days of business. The magnet held her eyes as she looked back in time. “Remember how we would walk down the avenue and I'd stop in for some material to make the clothes for the children?” He remembered. He also remembered, that it was in that store, that old five and dime, where they bought their first full set of dishes – one piece at a time! That store closed their doors for the last time back in 1968, but Mom still has her magnet. “Do you remember this one?” she asked in a brighter tone of voice as she took it off the refrigerator. It looked like a small snail shell – no marking and faded with time. Taking it from her for a stronger and closer look while trying to peek inside, Dad saw what looked like dried grass. Then he remembered. “Yes, I sure do!” he said triumphantly. It was indeed a small snail shell which brought back a flood of memories. Mom was sure his smile spread from ear to ear. “You bought it during our first family vacation at Virginia Beach. We rented a large beachfront house for a week and invited Margaret and MJ and their families. We had such fun and the grandkids loved being so close to the water.” It took a while, but one by one they recalled each memory. Years past and with each one, dad became more observant with the arrival of a new magnet - sometimes more than one. Secretly, he wrote down the occasion associated with each one so that when the memories began to fail, he'd be able to relate the reasoning behind them all. Mom and Dad are gone now but the memories linger on more than just pictures in some old photo album that eventually gets stuck up in an attic. Through her declining years, her visits to shops for magnets slowed considerably but every now and then, while out with a friend or relative, she'd find one and insist it needed a new home - hers! And no, the door never felt off mom's refrigerator, but through the years, Mom had had to rearrange the magnets to make room for more. In fact, during the course of her lifetime, she even had to begin placing some on the side of the refrigerator. While these many magnets may never carry a business logo or an easy to find phone number, they sure do tell a story- a great story that will never change with time - the story of Mom's life.
Imagine My Horror! I was running late. The mornings I didn't have to go to work, always seemed more hurried than usual. I quickly applied my make-up and, within ten minutes, was heading to my dental appointment. I thought a traffic light was a safe place to search for any make-up flaws. As I slowed to a halt in the line of cars, I pulled the sun visor down to look in the mirror. Then it caught my eye. A gray hair—no, three of them! Beside my left eye, at the temple, were three white hairs. I pulled them up; I pulled them down; I tugged them to the side. Surely it was just the sun glistening off my golden blond hair. The light was green. Shock and disbelief dominated my thinking as I blindly followed in the line of cars to the next stoplight. Again I pressed the brake deep into the floor as I slapped the visor mirror down. There could only be one thing worse than finding gray hairs on the left side of my head. Holding my breath, I slowly looked beside my right eye. Four gray hairs—shining brightly like beacons in the sunlight. No, it can't be! This can't be happening to me! I am blond—I do not get gray hairs! Having always looked younger than I was, the thought of aging had never occurred to me. It just hadn't. I'd gone along in bliss, ignorant to the inevitable. Now at forty-one years old the reality was slapping me across the face; across the temples to be exact. As I glared into the mirror I kept moving my head from side to side, up and down. I waited to see if the gray hairs would suddenly turn blond, but no, they wouldn't change. Imagine my horror! Again, a green light. For the next two lights I yanked at the hair at my temples—my temples! Men get gray at the temples. It looks good on them. I'm sure by now the driver behind me realized I was in a crisis. He honked his horn, signaling the light was green. “This can't be happening,” I said to myself as I grabbed my cell phone. My husband was unavailable so I left a message. “Jerry, I'm gray! Call me!” I had to lament to someone. I called my brunette coworkers to share this terrible news. “Betsy, I have gray hair!” I wailed. “You what?” Betsy recognized my voice but had never heard such urgency in its tone. “I have gray hair! I was just at a stop light and I have gray hair! Seven of them!” I could hear Betsy yell to our thirty-year-old co-worker Stephanie, “It's Kelly. She says she found seven gray hairs!” Then I heard her laugh, “Yeah, she's freakin' out!” Turning her attention back to the phone, Betsy said calmly, “It's because of the stress you've been under lately, Kelly.” “Will they go away when my stress goes away, Bets?” I implored. “No. You'll just get more.” “Gee, thanks Betsy!” To add to my anguish, Stephanie informed me that she had more than seven gray hairs in her pubic area alone. You get gray there, too? That certainly didn't make me feel any better. I tossed my phone into my purse. “How come no one ever told me these things?” I muttered. Those seven gray hairs – The Beacon Seven – were becoming a menace and clouded my thinking. I parked my car and numbly walked into the dentist's office. As I lay back in his examining chair, my hair fell straight back. He positioned the bright light over my face, and for a split second I was sure I saw a look of alarm and repugnance in the eyes of the dentist and his assistant, as they were no doubt shocked by the Beacon Seven. Ashamed, I didn't dare mention them. Obviously these professionals had learned to hide their disgust of such matters. Still, I'm sure they were amazed that someone so terribly youthful—and blond—as I, could have these Seven, mocking gray hairs. Yes, they were staring. I was sure of it. On my way home I kept going over my options. For years I had smugly said that I would dye my hair red, if I ever got gray hair. Then it hit me. I am not getting gray hairs! No! Those Seven are just God-given platinum blond hairs filling in my natural ash and honey blond streaks. Yes, just platinum. They are the Platinum Seven. What a relief! No, blonds do not get gray hair. I didn't think so.