Monday, April 27, 2015

Truth Be Told

A preacher had all of the children gathered up front one Sunday morning and was giving a children’s sermon on the topic of love and how to show others your love for them. He asked the group, “have any of you ever seen your Mommy and Daddy kiss?” 

One little girl quickly raised her hand and, much to her parents’ embarrassment, announced, “I’ve seen them do a lot more than kiss!” Before she could be stopped, she added, “I’ve seen them hug.” The congregation let out a collective sigh.

I remember being in Target with my daughter when she was maybe four years old. We found ourselves on the same aisle as an extremely large female shopper. Not to be ugly, but to paint a picture, I would estimate her weight in the 400 to 500-pound range. My sweet girl tugged my sleeve and said, “Mommy, that lady....” 

I tried my best to distract her and switch her attention to something -- anything  -- else. Just when I thought I was safe, I heard her sweet voice say, “That lady...” 

“Oh no,” I thought. “What can I do? Do I explain that she’s just a child and has no tact, no sensor? Do I feign a coughing attack?”

But then she continued, pointing to her stomach, “That lady has a yellow shirt, too.” Floods of relief engulfed me.

Recently, my daughter has been asking me about the nature of truth and if lying is really as bad as I’ve made it out to be. I’ve regaled her from an early age with the tale about the infamous wolf boy. Now, at 10+, she’s been asking if our family really does have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to lying, if it really makes God cry when she lies, and if her pants will actually spontaneously combust.

“Well, Babe,” I explained, “the thing with lying is once you start, it’s hard to get out. Lies kind of pile up and snowball. You tell another to cover up the first one and soon you forget yourself what the truth is.”

“Uh-huh...but what about small ones?”

Feeling confident, I quickly respond, “there’s no such thing as a ‘small lie.’”

“Well, what about if someone gives you a gift you don’t like? You told me I’m supposed to smile and say how much I like it.”

Damn. Why do they seem to listen more to the dumb and wrong stuff you say? “Well, I think what I meant to say is you’re not supposed to hurt the person’s feelings. You don’t have to lie, but you should still be gracious.”

“Well, what if someone says, ‘do you like my outfit?’ and I don’t. Then what?”

“There’s a nice way to answer someone truthfully without being hurtful. You can find something nice to say about just about anything or anyone. Maybe you don’t like the outfit but you like the color so you can say, ‘I’ve always thought you look good in blue.’ Or, if all else fails, you could say, ‘that’s maybe not my favorite style but you always look nice.’”

By this point, Little Bit had grown weary of our Brady Bunch moment and stopped listening and maybe had even left the room. But I was left pondering the topic still. My thoughts turned to a question that we’re asked almost daily -- “how are you?” The majority, the vast majority, of us answer “fine” but I wonder what percentage of us are actually, truly, wholly fine? I know I’ve answered, on occasion, “fine” when I was anything but. It just seems polite. No one expects you to truly answer, I don’t think.

I worked with a gentleman at my first job out of college who was old (probably 40) and he had a whole arsenal of answers to this question. “How are you, Bob?”

“Oh, right as rain!”
“If I was any better, I’d be twins!”
“Well, I’m above ground, so it’s a good day!”

Bob was an odd bird, but maybe he was onto something. By not responding with a programmed, “fine,” he told me he was listening. That he recognized I asked him a question and he was answering in kind.

Truth be told, most times when I answer “fine” to “how are you?” I am. For that, I am grateful and that’s no lie.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

I've Gotta Hand It to You


This quiz popped up on Facebook the other your finger lengths indicate your personality.

Taking a flattering picture of your own hand is like folding a piece of
paper in half more than seven times or licking your own elbow. (It can't be done.)

I’m a “C:  Peacenik.”  The article told me I was organized and conflict-averse -- both true. But what I really walked away with was the knowledge that not all hands are created equal. Here I’ve walked the Earth now for 41 years and I’m just now learning that everyone’s hands are not, more or less, made the same.

Several years ago, I was getting a pedicure when I received a surprise compliment from my technician. 

     “Yuh fee ah velly plutty.” (Translation:  Your feet are very pretty.) 

Surprised and embarrassed, I offered a quick word of gratitude and went back to my magazine. The compliment fell somewhere on the creepy scale with “1” being “you sure have pretty eyes” and 10 being “you sure have a pretty mouth.” I admit, I checked my feet out post-pedi and thought they did look nice and pondered some of the podiatric atrocities they probably see on a daily basis. 

You know one of the creepiest foot things to me is a man’s second toe. Boy feet, in general, are just yucko. How any woman can have a foot fetish is beyond me. They’re smelly, furry, and that second toe just has a mind of its own. If it’s not contorted and wavy, it’s stick straight and, often, it extends way beyond the big toe. Maybe that toe is like old mens' noses and ears, how they never stop growing. Gag.

Hands, though, I always thought were by and large the same. Unless you’ve been in a shop class accident, you probably have four fingers and a thumb. 

The thumb will get you car rides (if you’re into hopping in cars with shifty strangers). 

The pointer shows direction or intent, gives credit, and explores. 

The middle finger, I feel sorry for. He’s the tallest one, commanding respect with just his size, but he’s relegated to naughty gestures and occasionally removing something from the corner of his owner’s eye. 

The aptly named ring finger indicates its owners availability and marital status. 

And then there’s the the youngest sibling, it’s a little wild, does its own thing, picks its nose and doesn’t care who’s looking, and lives on the periphery while trying to maintain familial ties. It’s true shining moment, though, is during High Tea. Pinkie can class it up when the situation calls for such a thing.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

What Makes You Happy

I stumbled across this article this morning at 1:30 a.m. I’m not a college student or a third-shift employee, so you might wonder why I would be up at this time. Two words:  drunk bear. My husband was snoring. That woke me up, but I was prepared to dig in, throw a pillow over my head, and persevere. But his cacophony of sounds awoke the hounds, who, in turn, kicked me like hyper kangaroos, readjusted until I had no blanket, and then started grooming themselves. Defeated, I decided to get up. 

After catching up on Facebook and Instagram and then hopping over to see what was going on in the actual world, I found this article about what makes people happy. This made me take a moment to be thankful and count my blessings:  

I went to bed with a full stomach, even if I didn’t get to stay in bed with it.

I have a bed.

I have a house which holds my bed.

And so on and so forth.

Here are a few more of my favorite, if not less essential, things:

A 20-year-old pair of jammy pants I have that feel like very high quality sheets.

My Sunshine and My Girl

Our four furry family members.


Fruit Tea.

The smell of old books. And new books. Oh, and especially text books.
I have a social studies book from my 5th grade year and I still enjoy its smell.

So, what are some of your favorite things? I can't wait to hear.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Clinging to Life

I went to the grocery today and, when I came out, there was this thing on my door handle. You won’t believe me, but I was too freaked out to snap a picture of it. I’m not an entomologist, but it was a cross between a moth, a seahorse, and a praying mantis. I kid you not.

I did what any rational adult would do and first I admonished it. “Go on. Get off!” I yelled in the Publix parking lot at my door. It just sat there. I mustered up the nerve to try to blow it off the handle and it just smiled back. After a few moments of standing in the lot beside my car, yelling at the driver’s door and alternating between looking disgusted and verbally abusing this thing, I did the second most rational thing an adult would do. I walked around, entered from the passenger door, and climbed over into the driver’s seat. In a dress. Suffice it to say, I don’t like bugs.

Unless they’re the occasional wasp or stink bug, I regularly employ the “catch and release” method of dealing with bugs who invade my territory. Oh, and all bets are off when it comes to spiders. But otherwise, I’m quite empathetic and humane and figure I wasn’t the One who gave them life so who am I to take it?

As I drove off, I kept one eye on the road ahead and one down at my door handle where I could see his little wing flapping in the breeze. “Just let go, guy,” I willed from the safety of the car’s interior. “Come on, this looks like a nice area. Fly away.”

I so desperately wanted him gone, that I went down a side street I knew would be deserted so that I could accelerate up to 45 or 50 miles per hour and, hopefully, leave him behind. It worked. Man, he put up a good fight, and towards the end, it actually looked like he was holding on with three of his hands and waving good-bye with the other. Ultimately, though, he was blown from my door and, in my mind, met up with some kinfolk, some other praying seamoths, in this little neighborhood I zipped through. At least, that’s what is going to help me sleep tonight.

As I drove home, though, it occurred to me, aren’t we all like this little guy at different times in our life? We think we’re safe. We think our feet are planted on terra firma, and then the proverbial rug is pulled out from under us. We find ourselves in the midst of a storm and all we know to do is hold on. And when we can’t hold on any longer, then what? We let go. It’s kind of our only choice. But even in the act of letting go, is it not possible to cling to the one thing we’ll always have...hope? Hope for a better tomorrow. Hope that we meet up with some friendly faces, even if they have transparent bodies and huge wings and a nose. (I swear it had a nose.)

My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.Psalm 63:8

But you are to cling to the LORD your God, as you have done to this day.
Joshua 23:8

You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him.
Deuteronomy 13:4

Curious Pandora accidentally released all the evils into
the world, closing the lid to trap only Hope.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The "Oh, You Shouldn't Have" Tree

I don’t know if I hate The Giving Tree because I see qualities of myself in the eternally benevolent tree, in the impossibly greedy, selfish boy, or if it’s because this book is just plain depressing.

The fact of the matter is it’s just not one of my favorites. It wasn’t a favorite of mine growing up and now, as a parent, it’s not one of my go-to reads with my own child.

The illustrations of the boy, one of the two central characters, are way off. He is first introduced as a young boy of under 10 years of age. 

Boy, age appx. 8 years old
Coincidentally, this was the last time the boy is seen smiling. Ever.

Hanky Panky under a Tree
Note: Over the course of the boy's life, which by all accounts is several centuries, the markings on the tree never move up. Shenanigans!

The next time we see Boy, who should, by all accounts, be a young man in his early 20s, he has the posture and facial features of someone twice that age. From here, it’s all downhill. 

I'm ready to build a house. I've also completed my AARP application.

Boy should be in his 30s maybe, longing for a home of his own, but he looks more like the Grumpy Old Men in The Muppets

No, I don't want your apples. I don't have any teeth!

After he’s built his house, Boy comes back needing wood for a boat, presumably to celebrate his retirement, but he looks not a day shy of 100. 

Finally, Boy makes one last visit to Tree to reflect on life and, I imagine, how rotten and selfish he’s been, and he’s a shriveled, pruny shell of his former self.

"That's OK," said the boy. "I don't know where I am, how I got here, or why I'm talking to a stump. I also appear to be wearing a onesie."

Since the book was written in 1964, Boy missed President Kennedy’s challenge to all Americans to ask not what the Tree can do for them, but rather what they could do for the Tree. If you ask me, they both had a good run. The Tree and Boy, not JFK. Tree realized many different ways she could help others and reinvented herself more than Madonna. Boy, with his insatiable greed and desires, went on to live a long life. Judging by the illustrations, he gave Methuselah a run for his money.

Now this is just my opinion. I am neither a children’s author nor an illustrator, so take my   feedback as what it is...a candid review of a joyless story featuring a martyr and a turd.

The end of the book and the end of my joy.

Monday, April 6, 2015

And We're Back!!

The last time I wrote a blog entry was roughly five months ago. Coincidentally, that’s pretty much the exact last time I worked for “the man.” You know, the last time I had a desk job. I still work these days. Just for myself and not so much at a desk. And I’m still part Haitian or teenager as I have many part-time jobs that pay terribly (chauffeur, stylist, tutor, chef).

These last five months have been absolutely Heavenly. I’ve loved the freedom of working from home, spending more time with my family, being present for things like homework, being at school with the “A-list moms,” and having more time to be told by my child how I’ve ruined her day/life. What took me 100%, completely by surprise was the fact that I would have less hours in a given day than when I was chained to a desk. Take this blog as “exhibit A.” I wrote it daily when I worked a 40-hour, 8-5 job. Now that I work a 102-hour, 6-‘til job, I don’t have time for such luxuries as writing a blog no one reads or drinking a cup of coffee while it’s still hot.

I used to see these adorable, tennis-skirt-wearing Moms bopping around school, wearing their lipstick and whining about how they had to cut their barre class short today and were running late because the landscaper didn’t trim the shrubs like the right Disney characters and I (maybe-not-so-) discreetly rolled my eyes and thought to myself, “you should walk a mile in my ridiculously uncomfortable pumps.” I envied them. I wanted to sit on the couch in the mornings and sip coffee, watch morning shows, talk to the neighbor over the clothesline...wait, I may have fallen asleep watching The Waltons again last night. Anyway, I always pictured stay-at-home Moms as having an endless amount of free time and just cavalierly skipping through their days with unabashed freedom between the hours of 7:35 a.m. and 2:50 p.m. 

Now I know the truth. I know that those seven hours and 15 minutes FLY by like a new box of Girl Scout cookies. I feel like I drop off at school, have 15-20 minutes, then I’m right back there for pick up. When we get home, we have a snack, knock out homework, play, I feed everyone who comes up to me and looks hungry, we walk dogs, I run my back room Chinese laundry, clean the kitchen for the third time, and collapse in front of the TV approximately 20-40 minutes after I’ve gotten Little Bit to bed. This is my dream and I’m living it.

It sounds like I’m being sarcastic there, but I’m actually not. It is a dream and one for which I longed for a long time. I guess my point is “we’re all in this together.” That and I now know the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side. It’s actually not grass. I got over there and it’s astroturf. Yes, it has it has it’s own quirks and eccentricities, but there are equally awesome benefits. So, as with life, enjoy the good parts, be appreciative and thankful for the things that go well, and stash all of the others parts in the kitchen drawer. You know the one.

Author’s Footnote:  For this foray back into blogging, this one entry took two hours. Not consecutive, balls-to-the-wall writing, but still two hours. I got up approximately 17 times while trying to knock out a few paragraphs. “Have you started dinner?” was asked as soon as I sat down. Three more sentences and the oven beeped. A paragraph later, I wondered why the dogs were looking at me and then noticed their empty bowls. Mid-sentence, they let me know they needed to go potty. The dryer buzzed and I thought I'd try something new and get the clothes out after just one cycle and before they wrinkled. I reminded Little Bit she needed to write in her “Student of the Week” journal, which is presented as some achievement, but is actually “Mommy Homework.” Then I had to spell/confirm spelling for seven different words and remember every meal we ate since Thursday night. I felt noble and righteous as I chastised, “remember when I said, ‘you should write in that thing as you go along so we don’t have to play the “what did I eat nine meals ago?” game?’” but then, as almost always happen, I felt like a giant turd so I hopped in the WABAC and remembered, “oh, we went to Chick-Fil-A.” Now, all I can think about is lemonade.