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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Blackberry Fist Bump

I drove to the cell phone store yesterday hoping to switch things around to lower my monthly charges. I opened the door and before it closed behind me, one of the customer service reps said.... "Good afternoon Mrs. Patterson!!" The little gremlin who often perches himself upon my shoulder whispered.... "It's never a good sign when you rarely go into the cell phone store, yet the customer service people know you by name." I told him to "Shut Up!".... The gremlin, not the customer service rep. I choose to believe he is enthusiastic about his job and wants to impress his boss by knowing his customers by their name, instead of believing he remembers me due the mishandling of my phone and/or having no cell phone savviness (is that even a word) whatsoever. I questioned if him knowing my name was a good thing, but then he said.... "You have a Blackberry" which he had kind of elluded to being uncool the last time I was there, then reached over and pulled out his Blackberry and we did the Blackberry fist bump. I'm not sure, but being body language savvy, I thought I detected an eye roll from the other 4 employees that were standing at the counter. And what does this have to do with anything you ask????? Nothing.... Nothing whatsoever....

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Death of Human Contact

I turned the corner coming home last night and noted to myself that our neighbors had a lot of company which was unusual for them. I dismissed it as none of my business and scuttled in the house to start dinner. Later when my husband came home he mentioned the amount of cars as well. We have lived in our home for 18 years, and our neighbors lived next door since before we moved in. They are about our age (with no children) which means they have fewer gray hairs than we do, but they are sweet and quiet. Neither my husband nor myself are ones to meet and greet like Ward and June Cleaver. We met them when we moved in and make pleasantries when we see them outside, but that has been the extent of our interaction. My husband was concerned that maybe one of their parents had died or something so I told him to check the local paper online. Not surprising there was nothing there so I suggested he check the online obituaries for the local funeral home. He called for me to come into the den and there on the computer screen was her obituary complete with a picture of her beautiful face. She died just yesterday  at only 55. It was like a punch in the gut. Our block is very quiet and everyone keeps to themselves.  Where was my old phone book? The one with friends, family and neighbors addresses and numbers I had back in the day of land lines, before social media. I dug around and found it and called the closest neighbor. To be honest, I didn't expect her number to still be in order. It seems everyone is abandoning their land lines for a cell phone that fits in your pocket.  I left a voice mail not expecting a response, but later she called me back. Yes, the death was sudden and unexpected. A routine outpatient surgery turned deadly before the surgery began. My heart is saddened and has a deep shadow of shame that I have not taken time to get to know the woman next door. In our world of social media and drive through confessionals, we've lost the human touch of the good ole days when you could borrow a cup of sugar from the lady next door and return the favor with cookies. Our connection to instant information and remote contact has in many ways become more of an isolation. Our access to everything has left us with nothing but pseudo friendships that can never replace the comfort of a hug, or a the ability to looked into the eyes of our neighbors to see the pain that can't be conveyed by a high definition screen.... And that my friend is a shame.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Apron String Heart

I pulled into our driveway in my cyber green Beetle.  A tiny voice in the back seat asked.... "Momma, are you going to make me move out when I turn 18 like you did Sissy?"  A little piece of my heart broke as I explained to my 8 year old that mommy didn't make Sissy move away, rather she grew up and wanted to go to college..... "Well I'm never going to college, I want to stay here with you and daddy." I knew he was struggling with his sister's absence; with 11 years difference between them, she had been a mother figure to him, letting him sleep with her so "Bubba couldn't smother him in his sleep" like he teased him of doing. His teacher had told me he was struggling emotionally with her move. She said he came to school every day and told her exactly how many days left until he would see his Sissy again; kind of like a child whose father goes off to war. He was most comfortable when the entire family was safe and accounted for each evening before he went to bed. If they weren't, he would inquire as to the exact time they were expected back.... "I just rest better when everyone is home." he would tell me. I poked my head in his bedroom the other night to tell him dinner was ready. He sat on the love seat holding his game
controller, his girlfriend sat beside him. His face is a gingerbread brown from working his summer job, but it is the same face that stared thoughtfully out the car window when I picked him up from daycare all those years ago. His bedroom walls that had been covered with band posters and teenage mementos, has been stripped bare. Boxes and packing supplies are stacked in the living room, waiting to be filled. In a couple of weeks, all his worldly possessions will fill a U-Haul and spirit him away to the City to begin his adult (or almost adult life). I think on some level, I thought he never would grow up and
leave momma and daddy, but the pulling force of independence and the opportunity to live close to his siblings is stronger than this mom's apron strings. I'm still not sure I've recovered from having his sister and brother leave, and now I'm preparing yet again, to set the child I've nurtured and loved, loose in a cruel world that doesn't have his best interest at heart. "I've done it before." I tell myself.... "I can do it again." But part of me wants to chain him to the past and never let him go as the other part of me fumbles with the knot of my apron string heart.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Stolen Slice of Pi

As usual the other night, I was playing the damsel in distress with my husband because the wireless Internet needed to be re-set. The pizza dude had just delivered our pizza and we were settling down to watch Downton Abbey on the computer when I realized the wireless was more less than it was wire. So I asked him to re-set it, then I started feeling guilty about always asking him to do it (It's just that I'm not good with wires and stuff), and decided to go up and learn to break I mean do it myself. When we came back into the den our Mastiff was just sitting in the middle of the den like she was waiting for the show to begin. Mike took one look at his plate and noticed he had one slice of pizza less than he did when he went up
stairs. We both turned to look at her, but she sat there just as expressionless as only a dog can look. She wasn't licking her chops or drooling shoe strings out the side of her mouth. Then he examined the edge of his plate for the tale-tale of slobber that usually accompanies her eating and drinking. Sure enough, she was tidy, but not tidy enough, there was just a smidgen of slime on the edge of his plate. It was obvious by looking at her and the plate, she hadn't even bothered to chew (or there would have been shoe strings). She must have gently grabbed a piece that was slightly hanging off the edge of the plate and swallowed it whole. She slunk out of the room as he scolded her in his best "Mad Daddy" voice. I just snickered in the background because it was so sly and stealthy and she totally held the poker face until the scolding began. Who can blame a gal for a single slice of pi? He was just lucky that's all she got.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Old Technology

We all know people who just refuse to become accustom to modern technology and my husband happens to be one of them. He has never been a big phone fan to the point where it's just a given if it rings and he is the only one around, it just will not get answered.  To say that text is outside his realm, is an understatement. If had have a choice, I'd rather text than talk on the phone any time. So, last night I was in our room upstairs, trying to get on our wireless connection. It had gone down and needed to be rebooted. The modem is in my son's room so I text him and asked him to re-boot. Don't judge me.... Some people sit in the same room and text each other. He text me back and told me he wasn't home. LOL! Yes, I can be accused of many things, but being a hoover mom isn't one of them. Since I don't know exactly which button to push and tend to get irritated quickly with malfunctioning machines maybe even to the point of being overly aggressive with them, I needed my husband to do it for me. He was in the basement(man cave), without his phone,  doing important man stuff. I didn't want to walk down all the stairs so I had to rely on our old (86 years) intercom system. It's a multi-task intercom system, I know.... Who knew they had such a thing 86 years ago. I walked into the bathroom, opened the lid and looked down into the laundry chute. I called out his name and quicker than Jack Sprat, he answered. I told him what I needed and he was Johnny on the spot to help me out. Modern technology is great, but it doesn't help you take the laundry downstairs or give you a cool place to throw things (small siblings, family pets, etc.) just to see them fall. There is something to be said about the tried and true of old technology.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Somethins Terribly Wrong MaLadee

Magnificent television is a rare commodity these days. Several of my friends had suggested that I watch "Downton Abbey" which is a British PBS Series. I bought the first season and watched it on my Kindle and... I was hooked. It's set shortly after the Victorian era, with beautiful scenery, amazing costumes and an inside glimpse of the life of the rich and those who serve them. One of my favorite movies is "She's Having a Baby" starring Elizabeth McGovern one of the main stars in "Downton Abbey". Warning: RABBIT TRAIL.... The best line in the movie, which also stars Kevin Bacon is.... "Grouper.... It's Grouper." (so stinking funny!), seriously look it up. End of RABBIT TRAIL. My husband has also become a big fan of the show. In an effort to catch him up, there are signs I may have overloaded my fragile system with the British series. The first indication of Downton Abbey overload is the voices in my head now speak with a British accent. "Perhaps you've scrunched too many episodes in, in such a short while MaLadee." Oh crap, now I'm starting to write with a British accent.

Monday, July 15, 2013

From Earth to Heaven, Happy Birthday Ritchie

He came into this world without my knowledge, yet his presence altered my heart and my life in an unprecedented way. When we met, he was a mystery, yet strangely familiar. Looking back to the past  things, are so much clearer.  He was his father's son in his communication skills, or lack thereof. His younger half siblings used to stare in awe at how alike he was to his dad. He was tender with his sister, would follow my oldest son into mischief and was protective of his baby brother. Although he held many characteristics of the men I love
most, he was uniquely himself. I'm sending Happy Birthday wishes from earth to heaven's doors on what would have been his 33rd birthday. Happy Birthday Ritchie, your family misses you.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Outside the Box

"Life is a mystery and not everything folds up neatly to fit into boxes." 
-Liz Weil

The surrounding walls are rigid. They have been erected from years of feeling inadequate and unworthy, criticized and betrayed.  Life has added layer upon layer of hurt and mistrust on a shaky foundation of questions. The walls of the box are decorated with mementos of hurt and disappointment. The window to the outside world is clouded by distrust and the criticism of others are shaped by hurt that decorates the walls. Completely unable to step outside, the box becomes a prison, without recognizing who the captor is... Yourself. Distrust and suspicion holds everyone who wishes to reach into the box at bay. A facade of cheerfulness that doesn't quite reach the eyes is held for everyone to see. A parade of pride and boastful claims of compassion is a banner waved high, yet words of criticism belies the fact and are as bile that flows freely from a wound that will not heal. Offer a mirror so one can see? Play the notes that are etched upon their heart so they can hear how the music reflects the bondage they don't recognize they're in?  Or just let them be?  Fault is found in each one of us, yet one who has never had a need for forgiveness (the perfect I suppose), does not recognize the need to forgive. Within each of us lies a seed of potential; not just potential for the very best, but also potential for the very worse.  Until one stands on the brink of great expectations and find themselves fragile, where they thought themselves strong. Until one understands life has the potential, to hurt you until all your fragile strength is gone. Until one is humbled by the fact that the righteousness they believe they stand upon, is nothing but a pedestal from which they can fall, can they truly have empathy for the failure of others. Before criticizing the woman on the street, ask yourself if you have ever fallen short of perfection. Before judging the man, who in his arrogance has strayed, ask yourself if you've ever been guilty of self-centered behavior. Before shaming a teen who has wondered into a world of drugs, ask yourself if you've ever rebelled.  A young woman found with child but no husband, who are we to judge. The vantage point  from a box full of hurts and unresolved wounds, is a narrow tunnel which reflects little light. It's easy to see the rough edges of others, without noticing the rose colored glasses perched upon the bridge of ones own nose while looking in the mirror. Empathy and forgiveness comes from surviving a fall into an abbess so deep and dark that you cannot recognize yourself. If one has been to the abbess and survived, the only god thing that can be taken from it, is the multi-dimensional ability to look at the actions of others and recognize that most hurtful behaviors, are inflicted by those who are hurt. The layers of the wall are sloughed off by tears that are shed from returning from the abbess with a new understanding that the faults seen in others, are merely a reflection of the scars upon our own heart. The redemption of the cross is where the fountain of bile is bound and replaced by rivers of living water. The gift that comes from having been forgiven, is a true desire to extend forgiveness, charity, and compassion to the ones who deserve anything but. When a hand of forgiveness is extended from one who was wounded to the one who inflected the wound, the walls come tumbling down. Life outside the box is a vulnerable life indeed. The imperfection recognizes the imperfect, not just in others, but first in themselves.  Yet when one has a true desire to forgive, they gain the ability to love  the healed and appreciates the scared.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The One Next to You

The volleyball hit the ground and bounced over the fence for the third time. All four of the women erupted in snorts, giggles and belly laughs. Our men on the other side of the net, stood quietly composed (like they always do), as one of them went around the fence into the neighbors yard to retrieve the ball. The longer it took, the harder we laughed. We laughed and laughed and laughed until I thought I was going to spew the hamburger I had just eaten. We must have looked like a group of the three stooges trying to play volleyball with each one making excuses for missing the ball due to... "My bad knee, my bad hip, my sore side?" yet there we were, causing a neighborhood ruckus and playing with childish abandonment
(which is what keep you young). With the four of us doubled over in laughter, gasping for breath  and trying to maintain bladder control, one of the girls said.... "We've been through a lot together." No truer words were spoken. We've raised kids, dealt with toddlers, teens and college, We've worshiped, wept, vacationed, supported each other during times of convalescence, encouraged each other through difficult times, cheered each other on in new endeavors, complained, fought and faced each triumph and trial that life has thrown in our path with what I'd like to say was elegance and grace, but truthfully much of it was done barely holding on by our finger tips (or so it seemed). The thing that has kept us moving forward was knowing we weren't alone. Much like volleyball, when the life aims the ball at you and you're not sure you can get it, it's good to know the one next to you has it covered.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Big Bang Theory

Last week was all jacked up due to the 4th of July falling on a Thursday. I'm always grateful for a day off, but having Thursday off made it feel like we had two Mondays in one week. Two Mondays are never a good thing unless the second Monday happens to fall on a Friday, then that's totally doable. On the 4th of July I was watching TV when I noticed Sailor Girl (my very large mastiff) acting a little anxious. It was pretty early in the afternoon, so I noted to myself that she probably needed her doggie Xanax before dark. Before I left the house for my walk, I opened her cavernous mouth (I can stick my arm in up to my elbow), and plopped in 3 pills to settle her down before the fireworks began. I was just finishing up my walk when my phone rang. It was my husband wanting to know when I would be home because he couldn't get Sailor to settle down... She kept trying to climb in his lap. When I got home, he had her in our bedroom, laying quietly on the floor, panting like a puffed-up blow fish. He told me to go ahead and shower because he wasn't leaving her side until I was ready for bed. When I finally made it to bed, I let her snuggle up next to me. He walked past the bedroom and saw her on his side of the bed and told me in the uber authoritative (hehe) voice, that she needed to be off by the time he got out of the shower. Every evening for the rest of the week we went through the same ordeal as everyone seemed to have a continuous celebration throughout the weekend. Last night I was relaxed, laying in bed, reading a book when she exploded through the door like a vice squad in a crack house. She scared the dickens out of me! She walked over to my side of the bed and nudged me with her nose so I walked her downstairs and opened the back door. She just stood there. I told her how ridiculous she was being and walked her to the back of our property where she typically does her doggie business. On our way back to the house I tried to explain to her that she was suppose to be strong and intimidating and my ultimate defender... Not a big wuss who is afraid of a few firecrackers and too afraid to walk to her potty spot in the dark without someone there to hold the flash light. I thought when I bought a Mastiff, I was getting more bang for my buck, but I got more buck than I did bang. Maybe if you just looked at her you might think different(I hope).I guess that's what you call my Big Bang Theory. I it's lame, but it's all I got right now.

Friday, July 5, 2013

4th of July.... Hotter Than a Firecracker

The 4th of July started a little early this year when a co-worker suddenly appeared at my desk with a bag of chips and a bowl of salsa.... "You're my last tester." she told me with a proud, yet somewhat evil grin..... "Oh!" I tried to act excited... "What have we here?" even though I could clearly see is was chips and salsa... "Homemade salsa!" she said a little too eagerly. I grabbed a chip and hesitantly dipped it in the salsa and popped it in my mouth.... In hindsight, I should have asked if any of the original "testers" were still alive and breathing, but I thought that would be rude."Yummm, I said with a mouth full of chips, then I took another bite. I swallowed and told her how good it was and then it hit me like a nuclear blast.... The burning all the way down my throat.... "Geeze, it's a little hot, huh?" I said... She just shook her head and told me it was her mild version, then she spun on her heel and headed out of my office. I grabbed my Dr. Pepper and attempted to wash the delicious yet terribly hot salsa down. The only thing drinking accomplished, was to help it slide through my system.... And I mean all the way through my system. I could feel
the burning when it hit my stomach and I felt every twist and turn it took through what had been, up until that time,a perfectly normal colon. The outcome was a final explosion of biblical proportions, that I'm pretty sure included a mushroom cloud. "I've been poisoned, I swear to God it felt like someone had poured liquid acid down my throat. I emailed her and told her I was certain I had blisters EVERYWHERE and suggested she provide the recipe to The Department of Defense in case our nation decided to disarm all of our nuclear warheads.... With her secret weapon, we'd still have a mind blowing way of subduing our enemies. Another suggestion would be to use it in lieu of water boarding. I could think of a host of ways it could be used to "extract" sensitive Intel from terrorist. I can just imagine her in her kitchen wearing a hazmat suit instead of an apron,chuckling to herself as she mixed her concoction of liquid fire. It's been over 48 hours and I'm just now getting the feeling back in my tongue.

Monday, July 1, 2013

100% of You

This week I had lunch with a dear friend. We went to the hospital, not because the food is great (it can be and they have a Chick Fillet), but because the dining room is huge so we wouldn't be crowded and we wouldn't have to scream over the the noise like you do in some restaurants. I had made a list on my phone of things I wanted to tell her since our last lunch. I texted her to remind me I had put it on my phone, or I would forget to get the list out.... Yes, this happens to me with a grocery list as well, which makes me wonder if it all goes down hill from here with my memory.... RABBIT TRAIL! The chattering began as soon as she picked me up and didn't slow down until I stepped out of the car and back into the office. We had a lot to say to each other. We got our food, picked the table farthest away form everyone else and continued with our conversations.... As in pleural because between the two of us you cannot get a word in edge wise so we both just plunge in with both feet and often and let our wisdom, opinion and our epiphanies splash all over one another. Not to mention we both talk like Italians (with a lot of hand waving and acting our different parts).... I've often thought it would be more than a little entertaining to be an outsider watching us converse. I think I only took a couple of bites of my food then pushed it aside because I had a lot to talk about and didn't have enough time to eat and talk without spitting food all over her and that's just plain rude. As we were leaving she noticed I was wearing the new skirt I had bought when we went shopping. She also noticed that the split in the back of the skirt still had the little knot they put in them when they are in the store so we stopped in the hall so she could cut my string loose. I had dug my pocket knife out of my purse, she had handed me her coke and was bent over lifting up the hem of my skirt so she could see the string. About that time I heard someone say.... "Hi Jackie, are you having fun?" We both looked up said hi and laughed because I know it must have looked a little strange. She said.... "I just saw her bent over with her head up your skirt and wondered."  What could I say... Except.... "Welcome to a day in the life of Jackie... And yes, I'm sure I'll be blogging about it later." She laughed, walked on and my friend took care of my string and we continued to the car. When I got back to the office I felt like a weight had been taken off my shoulders, it was so good to get those things (both good and bad) off my chest, just be able to talk to a friend who hears and understands my woman thoughts. I thought to myself.... A friend gives you 100% of their focus when they are in your presence and you give them 100% back. Wouldn't it be refreshing in our technologically advanced world, if there were more people willing to focus 100% on the person they are with when that person has something they need to say? It seems with so many things vying for our attention, we rarely give anything or anyone 100%. Our society now reflects our inattentiveness but we're too busy to notice the loss and are laden with too much apathy to care.