Monday, January 26, 2009

Penguins and Peacocks

I was so excited to see penguins living down the street from my new home that I called all my friends and told all my family members about what I had seen.

Everybody always throws buckets of negativity on my news.

PENGUINS?! PENGUINS???? They snarled.

Yes, penguins, I insisted. Just a couple of blocks from my home live lots of penguins. And get this – there's even an albino penguin.

I'm sure at this point everybody was wondering just how that might look, because what I meant, after all, was peacocks, not penguins. It's just like when I call my dishwasher the microwave. I don't mean microwave. I just say microwave.

Reminds me of the time a friend of mine and I played hangman (see drawing). How could she not guess (it was so obvious) "potato couch"...

I think the synapses that make connections in my brain are cross-wired. I used to wonder why nobody understood me. Now I know.

Over the weekend I had the chance to visit a friend I hadn't seen in a long time (sadly, this is the way it is with ALL my friends). Barbara handed me a little gift, a penguin (see red arrow above), to remind me of the difference between that and a peacock. Just so happens she was the friend who caught my hangman mistake.

I should probably label all of my appliances too, so that I can relay the information correctly. 

By the way, though I tell everybody that I do, I really don't cook in my dishwasher. 

Friday, January 23, 2009

Just call me "Your Fatness"

I learned something yesterday that I had been considering for some time – that my children are all liars, as are some of my grandchildren.

How do I know this?

Good question.

Lamenting for years about how my tummy had grown to mountainous proportions, I heard comments like, "Oh, mom, stop. You're not fat," or, "You've had four kids, what do you expect?"

Now you might think that last statement was confirmation that my exponentially extended belly was in fact enormous, but the comment was usually followed by, "You're  not fat."

I realize that everybody was just trying to be polite (translation: to lie), but I wanted the truth.

Yesterday I got it when my four-year old granddaughter patted me on the belly and asked, "Grandma, are you pregnant?"

Yes, Audrey, I am. I call my baby, "Tumor." Sadly, he will never be born and I will have to carry him around with me for the rest of my life. 

I fantasize about poking a needle into the flab then vacuuming it like liposuction. I am, however, afraid I might pass out when the needle opens my skin, and when paramedics find me, they will see gelatinous blobs of fat that seeped out of my body. Reminds me of Oprah Winfrey with her wagon of fat. I couldn't do that to the paramedics.

Wonder what would happen if I ate only sunflower seeds for the rest of my life.

One positive thought I can take away from all of this is that while I may look like I'm ready to give birth, I must at least took young enough to be able to do so.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Barack Obama's first night as president

We all have our little personas we present to the world. I imagine the president is no different. What we see in public is not what his wife or children see in private. They probably all let loose a little when nobody else is watching.

And so, when I imagine what his first night as president must have been, after he and his wife read their children books, tucked them in, and put them to bed, this is what I imagine:

Barack and Michelle embrace each other, as Michelle flirts, "Welcome home, Mr. President."

Then they race to the presidential bed, jump on top of it and bounce up and down, alternately chanting as they jump, "I'm the president," "I'm the first lady," "I'm the president," "I'm the first lady," ... 

Until they collapse in each other's arms, the new President of the United States and his First Lady.

Well, that's what I would have done.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Barack Obama's request

When President Kennedy was elected, he asked us to ask ourselves what we could do for our country. To most of us, it seemed to be a daunting task. The country was, after all, quite large, and those of us who are still alive were mostly children.

Now we have a president who is asking us – and showing us – how to give of ourselves. 

I am reminded of the time my friend Clare and I decided to "give of ourselves." We had been talking about it for years and finally decided that this time we would help out at a homeless shelter. My kids, after all, would be with their father that Thanksgiving, and her kids were grown.

We convinced a local shelter to allow us to cook Thanksgiving dinner for the residents. Though we were told it wasn't necessary, we pushed and we pushed until finally the woman relented.

Clare would play piano for the residents while they looked on, forgetting their troubles, and I would supply each of them with one of my newly made t-shirts that said, "I think; therefore I am...a woman." We would find joy in the giving.

That Thanksgiving morning, Clare and I arrived with turkey, tons of vegetables, the makings for stuffing, and desserts. When we arrived, three of the families left so they could share the holiday with relatives.

What? Relatives? Why were they living in a homeless shelter?

The two families that stayed behind mostly ignored us while we set about finding pots and pans. By the time we started peeling potatoes, the last two families left. 

And so, there we were, two woman sitting in a homeless shelter eating Thanksgiving dinner alone.

I called Clare when I got home to ask if she was watching what I was watching on television. There they were, thousands of homeless people standing in lines at local shelters while helpers spooned potatoes and stuffing onto plates.

And then I remembered I had left behind my box of t-shirts. When I went back to the shelter to retrieve them, I discovered the residents had taken them so they could use them as Christmas presents. 

Well, at least somebody was wearing them.

Did our experience stop us from giving? Of course not. Probably only one one-thousandth of one percent of all people who give of themselves find that nobody is around to receive what they are giving. Clare and I fall into that group. Thank you, PRESIDENT (as of today) Barack Obama, for reminding me that giving is joyous (and sometimes funny)!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Emails and Clutter

As of today I have 905 unread emails sitting in my account. Before I complete this blog, I will probably have 910 unread emails. I would estimate that 800 of them are from my mother who, after retiring, discovered the joy of forwarding. It doesn't matter that she forwards to me the same email over and over again. She is my mother. How can I throw away anything she sends to me?

The problem? I can't throw anything away. Even my spam folder sits at 1699 and counting. I have trunks filled with mementos I never look at. I just know my kids will find humor in sifting through saved coloring pages after I die.

Honestly, if my kids, when they were little, gave me something with that gleam in their eyes that said, "I made this especially for you, Mommy," I HAD to keep it.

Even the ones with no names or dates on them, even the ones with only one scribbled crayon mark, if I threw them away, I would agonize over the loss for days.

My excuse for being a slob was that I lived in very small apartments that had no place to put anything. One day, with clothes and papers strewn about, a friend looked at me sympathetically and offered me advice. "You know what I do when I have to clean up in a hurry?"

My eyes lit up.

"I throw everything into a box and sort through it later."

Amazing. And it just so happened I had a huge walk-in closet that allowed me to hide a box.

Until it got to the point where I was exchanging my smaller box for a larger one and a larger one and a larger one... And then one day, like a diamond sparkling in the sand, it appeared in the alley behind my apartment. Somebody had thrown away a refrigerator box! I raced into the alley to retrieve it. I loved that, "throw everything into a box" idea. It was the sorting through it later that bothered me.

Clothes were a problem too. They sat in piles on the couch. I never thought to buy hangers because I thought they cost something like $10 a piece. When I discovered how inexpensive they were, I bought hundreds of them. The only problem that arose was when I moved in with one of my daughters and her kids. I slept in a makeshift room (one I had built when I lived there) that had no closet. I had the hangers. Now I had to buy a closet.

So here it is, years later. My house is in order, my clothes are hung up, and the boxes have been exchanged for trunks filled with photos, crayon colored papers, memories, and ideas. And my inbox? It sits at 907 right now. How do you throw emails into a box? Oh well.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Day In My Life

Last Saturday is a good example of my day-to-day life. I awoke at 6 a.m. to no electricity. Couldn't find my flashlight. Couldn't find my lighter either. I should have taken the time to learn how to apply makeup in the dark. I could have pretended to be blind. Now, applying makeup in the dark would have to be added to my SKILLS I NEVER LEARNED list.

The world outside was completely void of light. It was true after all – the world really was coming to an end and my neighborhood was the first to go.

As I looked into the abyss that was my neighborhood, I knew I had to be the one to call Com Ed. It might take hours, but somebody had to do it. However, my electric home phone didn't work. So I grabbed my cell phone, which has numbers that don't match up to letters on my home phone – the letters for "1" on my cell phone, for instance, are "ER" – not to be confused with Emergency Room. Holding my lighted cell phone up to my home phone, I dialed 1-800-EDISON1. FINALLY after what seemed like hours, I was talking to a real person. 

Sadly, she reminded me that I must have moved because I no longer had Com Ed as my provider. Oh, yeah. 

Fortunately she knew who that provider was, because she used to live in my neighborhood. YEAH! My luck was changing. Here is my conversation as I remember it:

Yes, I'm calling to report an outage.
OK, thanks.
So...when do you think we'll have electricity?
Well, to be honest, we don't consider it an outage until at least three people call. You're the first to call.
But the entire neighborhood is without electricity, and I've been up for more than a half hour talking to Com Ed.
Why were you talking to Com Ed?
It doesn't matter. Can you turn it on?
As I said, it takes three calls and you're the first.
But what if nobody else calls?
Sorry, that's our policy.
Can I hang up and call you back two more times?
Oh, you're in luck. Two more people just called.
Yeah, lucky me.

After I found the flashlight, the lighter, the oil lamp, my clothes, and my makeup, I went out to my ice-covered car. I body slammed it open, turned it on, and waited another half hour to thaw it out. And then I did something I had never done – I ice skated – in my car – out of my neighborhood. Apparently salting roads is a thing of the past. Costs too much. So where are the wheels with ice blades, I wonder?

The further north I drove, the more blizzardy the conditions became. But I got there, said Happy Birthday, Mom, ate a taco, drank a margarita, and left. 

By the time I returned I needed more gas. So I pulled into a gas station, pushed the "pay inside" button and waited (and waited and waited) until a voice came over the loudspeaker that said, "you can't pay inside at that pump." OK, so I pulled out and drove to another pump, where the exact same voice said the exact same thing.


They just lost a customer (like they care). I'll never go there again (like they care). 

By the time I got home I had electricity and it would be close to a week before I had no water. Did you know that pipes can freeze in less than a minute? UGH!

Stay posted.