June 28, 2010
Close Encounters, ME Newsletter, Vol. 3, Issue 26
Close Encounters of the Tornado Kind. A 100% True & Embarrassing Story
I’ve managed to keep this string of instances to myself for a bit.
I probably wouldn’t even be sharing now, except that it so significantly impacted my current psyche.
And because I was accidentally too honest last Saturday afternoon during a yard sale lull and didn’t want you all hearing this from someone else.
We got to talking about last week’s tornados. I marveled aloud at being able to maintain live-contact via laptop and cell phone texting as two storms passed through. “Tornado warning! Are you up? Turn on your radio.” Communications travelled even faster than the 70 mph winds as I announced my whereabouts just in case anyone had to look for me later: “In my bathtub: laptop, phone, ipod, purse, wallet, comforter, pillow, the cat & me. Another night of tornado warnings. Stations are giving conflicting reports, so… here we hang.”
About 3:20 am, I made the decision to disengage. Shut down the computer, silent mode-ed the cell phone, set the radio alarm clock that runs on batteries in case I still lost power somewhere in what was left of the short space of the night, curled my blanket around me, and coiled up pretty comfortably in the bathtub. On the edge of drifting into sleep, I heard an unmistakable sound that would have me shaking my head for days. I distinctly heard the Close Encounters communication theme. You know that note progression that resulted in supposedly intelligible intergalactic communication? Well, it was loud and clear - in my bathroom. It sent me into a bit of illogical panic. I immediately texted a friend who I knew happened to be riding the storms out in her bathroom as well: “I am so not kidding. Lying here & I hear Close Encounters notes. Not laptop or phone or ipod…wtf?”
Just to validate, I did another prompt electronic inventory: Phone - still silent. Computer - still off. Ipod not eaten by the cat – I know because (sigh, here comes the too honest part…) I lifted her tail and checked her puckered backside for musical emissions. Not that I have the Close Encounters sound track on my ipod anyway, but it was late, and there was excess air pressure, and I was somewhat confused.
I considered the theory that someone’s still active TV had ended up in my yard, not likely. Or perhaps, someone was watching the C.E. movie in their car due to their power being out – hillbilly, but possible. Either way, I wasn’t about to leave my sanctuary to check the situation. I credit myself with at least being smart enough to know that if I opened the door, Miss Fred would fly by me, long gone and unretrievable. There’s no way I could have corralled her back into seclusion with me, especially after my indiscriminate and insulting butt-check behavior.
I shook my head - nothing was rattling around in there, either. I was just about sure I had fabricated the tinkling tones, and was starting to mentally giggle when I heard the simple strains again.
I jumped out of the tub, and lunged for the phone just in time to see a fading message inform me that I was “roaming.” I was pretty sure I wasn’t, but then again things were looking a little muddled at this point. After some consideration, I settled on believing that Sprint has the dorkiest roaming tone alert system on earth, climbed back into the tub and settled down - uneasily wondering how and when Miss Freddie would choose to seek her revenge.
So, back to the slowest yard sale on earth…. To my weight-of-the-world-off-my-already stressed-out-fragile-psyche relief, it turns out that I was not the only one who heard those bars. My neighbor had been monitoring the weather channel when she thought she heard something recognizable but extremely odd. She knew it didn’t resemble a normal warning siren so she lowered the television volume via remote, and listened for a heartbeat or two. Not hearing anything except driving winds and rain, she re-upped the volume on the set. Suddenly, a bedroom door crashed open. A blur ran past her, flinging the front door wide open, as well. The Close Encounter vibes were so loud they had woken someone up, catapulted them from their bed, and driven them down the front porch stairs only to be left standing on the sidewalk in the turbulent dark night scanning the sky for alien lights.
I’m sure gonna miss my real-life neighbors when I move. And I really do appreciate my local friends in other neighborhoods who checked up on me, family and friends across the country who made me feel safer because they knew where I was, and am incredibly thankful for technological blessings that give us the chance to weather storms of any type as closely as if we were in the same room.
In this issue: Civil Defense Sirens, Close Encounters, "I'm a Scientist, Get Me Out of Here!", and Appreciation of the Good Things in Life.
Now posted: New Orleans, October 2009, Out Reaching Me
June 22, 2010
Thunder, Dogs & Practice, ME Newsletter, Vol. 3, Issue 25
I decided to give y’all a break from my micro-cosmic world of moving and packing. However, before I decided that, I gave myself a break from the same circumstances. I spent a delightful 2 days traveling mid-to-western Michigan in a minivan with a bunch of semi-strangers. Sounds like a mission trip, doesn’t it? In some ways it was, but without the destination of a disaster area and without the focus of fixing anything. And, as a bonus, I wasn’t in charge of anything.
Get In The Car Ministries puts a great deal of emphasis on the outcomes of our assignments. But it’s usually not physically installing vinyl siding or floor tiling or the roofing repairs we are referring to. Those are only the means of achievement. The goal is to complete projects, thereby effectively taking them completely off the oppressive “to do” yoke of those whose physical lives have been in shambles. There are also two sub-culture emphases. One is that sharing our GOD-induced desire for service with others restores their faith in people and in GOD. The other is to support that those who serve on our teams so that they come to their own thunderbolt understanding of how it is that they ended up with us in the first place.
Well, the thunderbolt was mine this trip. It struck me after spending 24 extremely comfortable, fun, and funny hours with these particular five ladies. Having spent the previous day shopping, eating, shopping, eating, shopping and eating, on Sunday morning we found ourselves sitting outside the Golden Brown Bakery in downtown St. Joseph. Under the watchful eye of “Homer” one of St. Joseph’s interactive art “Hot Diggity Dog” project sculptures, we were sipping coffee, munching sweets, solving our problems, solving world problems, and finding reasons to laugh along the way.
On the surface, we didn’t have anything specifically in common. In fact, it seemed we were closer to having nothing at all in common. All five of my companions are mothers of Autistic children; I have never been a mother. All are happily married, and able to good-naturedly grouse about their spouses. I don’t have a spouse to good-naturedly grouse about anymore. I do have plenty of experience being the sibling of a mentally challenged person, and well, there were plenty of funny husband-ism stories I could relate to. There were a few I could share, as well. One involved a Beagle puppy, a 2 year old Jack Russell, a no longer stray 5 year old black cat and a drastic misinterpretation of the word, “No.”
The major lesson that boomed through my heart was this: While we may have not traveled common paths, doggedly traveling our own paths has made us commonly stronger, steadier, more self-assured, practically non-judgmental, able to laugh at the drama, happy to be in the present and in each other’s presence.
Being able to give is an art form. Being comfortable accepting what is given is a struggle for well-tried, self-sufficient women like us. I believe our GOD-given, minivan-driven mission was to practice and polish our "give and accept." I believe this particulat team has it mastered. I also believe I want more practice time - can't wait to do it again.
June 15, 2010
Gifted in Distraction, ME Newsletter, Vol. 3, Issue 24
It’s been a week of random thoughts. From stun guns to office supplies to hair color, then from progressions to Bose, the relationships seem vague and jumpy at best. But, I think sometimes GOD is a better distracter than we realize.
For example – I am never listless or list-less. I don’t have time for the first, and couldn’t survive without the second. Oh, I suppose technically, I could survive, but I really do thrive on lists and without them who knows what I might miss along the way.
Writing all those little and monumental tasks down can be self-intimidating, but the reward of removing an item from impending status is apparently an addictive high for me. Sometimes, while I’m creating a list, I get stopped by a word. Sometimes, it’s wondering about a dual meaning, alternate spelling, the origins, or where I last heard or read it.
Distraction is a positive force to be harnessed, though. It can bring you back to the present, which sounds like an impossibility, but here’s how it works. You can take yourself out of a situation, and then put yourself back in, peacefully. This week’s Take 10
Meditation class provided a do-able example. You’re driving, your mind is racing, traffic is stopped; frustration is building. Ask yourself three questions.
Who am I? Where am I? How can I participate?
Name yourself – silently or aloud. Announce yourself – silently or aloud. Participate – silently or aloud.
I am a driver. I am in an air conditioned car. I participate by taking in my environment, saying “wheat grass lines the road.”
I am re-distracted by the results: head swiveled, breathing returned to normal, tightened grip relaxed.
Where did those other thoughts dissolve to? Where did those briefly abandoned worries go?
It’s like that when I am listing. I veer off task to participate in a purposeful and specific distraction; leading me down a different path for just a while, then, bringing me back with an enthusiastic clarity for the task at hand, having been gifted with a mind-expanding exploration.
I thank GOD for the distracting random thoughts and the incentive to follow them.
And, I thank GOD for the email and note pad capability of cell phones.
Otherwise, I might forget these moments, and not be able to pass them on to you.
Here’s to all our distractions, and the celebration that should follow each and every one.
In this issue: Progression, Hairdressing, Stun Guns, and Bose.
New Orleans, October 2009: Real Wealth of Sharing & Caring
Humor, That’s Random: Office Supply & Demanding
Humor, That’s Random: Hair Today
In case you missed the prequel - I posted an urgent dilemma on facebook the other night.
"I've discovered an awful truth: I'm too old for electric-blue hair, and too young for grey-blue hair. What to do?"
Many viable suggestions came back at me. Lots of sage advice. Warnings that pink is now out of style but burgundy would do. Green mowhawks, red, purple highlights. All very good ideas. More than a few thought to mention powder blue. I actually found the notion of a baby blue bob quite appealing.
I responded to my 14 self-appointed (with provocation) internet fashionistas with another post:
"Ladies - you're all so lovely and creative! I have a 9:30 appt Saturday @ Salon Meridian. If I make there on time after driving into and through MIS race weekend traffic without pulling my hair out, chances are good that it will not end up being a respectable mid-40's drab color. In honor of the upcoming Traverse City Wine Tasting Weekend, a "Merlot" color might be quite complimentary. However, you just never know. "Grape" may win. :-)
Let me tell you - my stylist is amazing. Although "stylist" is such a thin word for her talent. Not only does she consistently remodel my thinning hair to look fuller, but she also is a color genius. She snipped me into an even shorter version of my usual cropped pixie, perfect for summer non-fussing. Then, we started talking shades. After a few minutes of non-atypical indecision on my part, my miracle maven met my eyes in the mirror.
“You know,” she titled her head. “I think this color suits you.”
“You know,” I tilted my head. “I kinda like it, too.”
“This is a custom color,” she emphasized. “You can’t get this from a bottle.”
I nodded slightly, and with a throat clearing nervous little giggle laughed at my own inner chipper voice slinging off someone else’s words: “It’s a pip of a color!”
The name of this remarkable one-of-a-kind pip-color? “New Natural”.
You’re all completely at a loss right now trying to come up with a mental picture of exactly what that color might be, right? Natural, of course, is not a conducive descriptive when it comes to the roots of my hair, the roots of which are a mystery to most.
I was born with the lightest possible honey blonde wisps that required taped bows and dresses for many years so that I would not be mistaken for a boy. Somewhere along the way, my hair thickened and developed into a fine chocolate brown curtain – stubbornly stick straight when curls and big hair were the popular style.
Somewhere else along the way (it’s hard to tell when since Ms. Clairol and I have been such good friends for so long), my mysterious true-color cap has trended into a tortoise shell auburn that strangely compliments my eye shade. Perhaps I should clarify that the interesting variegated color of my hair more than exactly matches the color of my eyes - as they are now. Again, in a progressional fashion – widely bright blue for a few years, deeply ebony brown for a bunch of years, now dark wheat sprinkled with flecks of gold and burgundy, encircled by contrasting - but complimentary - come-lately mossy-green rims.
So, “natural” it is, and probably will remain.
Naturally highlighted with a few adorably placed natural sparklers, due to my naturally (but very slowly in proportion to reality) progressional age.
Although, truth be told, I second–thought the situation and snapped up a multi-use sample of electric blue spike gel… just in case I feel the need to be recognized by family and friends.
June 11, 2010
Office Supply & Demanding
Last night on the way home, the vanpoolers and I were listening to and thoroughly enjoying the 7th CD of Janet Evanovich's book, Hot Six. The entire numerical series has been really quite amusing and takes the edge off the inevitable impediment of and then departure from our work environments. Bounty Hunter Stephanie Plumb needed to re-up her cache, and went to rifle some stock from the bond office supply cabinet.
Among the usual sticky notes and manila folders were automatics, semi-automatics, bullets, a few stun guns, and a supply of handcuffs.
Now, I don't necessarily see how having bulleted weapons could positively impact long-term office relations. However, stun guns and handcuffs - those might help. So, I'm thinking... all office supply cabinets should be stocked this way.
With easy access to stun guns, I imagine most employees would think twice before being snippy, cranky or downright demanding. Perhaps, ultimately deciding to be intensely more civil to each other on a regular basis.
How about we use handcuffs to curtail those perpetual smoke breakers and vending machine wanderers? Cuff 'em to their desks. They'd not only be more productive, but they’d be a lot healthier, too. Reduce the cost of benefits, resulting in raises for all! Bet I could get a grant to study that.
As far as the magnums are concerned... solely for morale purposes, I wanna be in charge of stocking the cabinet with mondo bottles of Moscato: to be used with morning Manosas… I mean mimosas… at my discretion, shared only with the people I really like.
Hmm, perhaps I'd better rethink the stun gun availability part.
June 08, 2010
Misnomered, ME Newsletter, Vol. 3, Issue 23
You know what? Packing is more painful than I thought it would be.
I spent most of the day the purchase payment for my house credited to my bank account in a weepy state. At first I thought maybe it was because the opportunity to back out had receded. Not that I ever wanted to back out. I really need this move. However, I’m not entirely ready for it, either.
I guess this is the appropriate time to interject my apologies to anyone I may have offended due to being starchily offended by rote comments regarding the changes I have chosen to pursue. I have repeatedly been offered the following misnomers for my actions:
“You’re making a brand new start.”
“You’re getting on with your life.”
“It’s what Jeff would have wanted.”
It’s not possible to start over, but it is possible to continue on in a more “healthy” manner.
I’m not getting on with my life – I’ve been living in the present since the day my past died.
It is not at all what Jeff would have wanted – he would have wanted to be here doing this with me if it was what I wanted.
However, semantics aside, this is my situational analysis. I suppose my solid rejection of these standard niceties is due to the underlying notion that they are surreptitiously implying that I shouldn’t feel guilt.
I’m giving up a daily commute which has been robbing me of three hours a day for over ten years. I feel absolutely no guilt over that.
I am giving myself more time to take care of myself, relax and expand my world. I feel absolutely no guilt over that.
I have made arrangements for some things to continue on without me, uninterrupted, and to no one’s disadvantage. I feel absolutely no guilt over my departure from those duties.
So, what exactly is it I am feeling? Stress ? Sure - selling, buying, moving. Regret? Sure – I’d rather not have to be at this point in my life. Sadness? Sure – this particular vignette is winding down.
E-conversations with friends have led me these self-written reminders:
Chapters are only short sections of our lives. Each chapter has a prequel and a sequel. They're all connected, and flow with reason and rhyme: All in good time; all in good time.
I have been paused a while in that small blank space that signifies a turn is due. I will be shuffling the page corner, and am anticipating the story’s continuation in exactly four weeks. My hope remains intact because I know this chapter won’t stand alone, and I know there’ll be a sequel.
All right. Now, back to the origin of this note: in order to distract the tears, I stop packing long enough to log onto facebook, searching for something either brain numbing or heart lightening. There on my profile page, I find the following verse for the day: The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people, and your household and go to the land I will show you. - Genesis 12:1.
Well, then. I guess that's that. I’m going. It probably won’t be at all what I had in mind, but it’s where GOD has led my heart – leaden for so long, longing to be buoyant.
In this issue: Misonomer, Continuing Forward, Corrugated Cardboard, and Corn Starch
Now Posted: New Orleans, October 2009, On a Personal Note
June 01, 2010
Fringe, ME Newsletter, Vol. 3, Issue 22
“A funeral is one of the few times when we give completely of our love without expecting love in return.” Unknown
“Every day should be like a funeral.” jakorte
I went to a funeral Saturday, not for the one who had passed but for the ones who are still here.
For the one, it may seem that I am (at best) only a fringe friend… a friend of a friend.
For other I am more than a friend, more like a sister.
As a spectator, I believe this may have been the first funeral I have ever attended that I have not been emotionally invested in: meaning, I did not know the deceased.
So, why did I go? Because sometimes you meet someone who you just get. Someone you can see yourself in, and someone you want to be. I doubt very much I was born with an extra bit more sensitivity to other’s pain than normal, but through the years I’ve both accidentally and forcibly had to hone that skill. I’ve used it quite bit, had to draw on its reserve. There have been times when the pain has been my only driving force.
I wish I had met the woman who was laid to rest. She read real books, questioned everything, held herself strong in her faith, and loved writing letters. She wrote eloquently, and with humour. She was humble, but had the fire to not be ignored. She was 89, and yet we had so much old-fashioned-ness in common, I caught an uncomfortable glimpse of how I must seem to the young people in my life.
I thinking I’m seeing myself a lot more like I really am these days. Four years older than the year I thought time would stop, and looking it lately, too. At least that’s what my mirrored eyes are telling me. Anyway, about being a fringe friend - in my world there isn’t really isn’t such a thing. It’s only the way I describe those that I rarely see, don’t see often enough, or may not have spent any more time with than a few volunteer hours once.
If you’re reading this note, you’re permanently on my list of people I would do most anything possible for. Even if I don’t know you well, or if you’ve come to this message via a friend, or a friend’s page – that means somehow you've found your way into my fringe. You’re a part of the edgy border, splashing decorative color and texture onto an otherwise minimalist framework.
If you’re reading this note, be assured: GOD loves you, and so do I.
In this issue: Brookside, Fringe, Decoration Day, James Garfield, Garfield the Cat.
Now Posted: New Orleans, October 2009, One Week to Go.