Saturday, December 3, 2011

One more lesson....

And lesson number five, after I learn not to go out of the door without the keys in hand? Don't ever leave that window open again when I'm not home!

Gratitude for a Second-Story Man

Please tell me we have all done this: turned the lock on a door and then closed it...only to realize you're on the outside, the door is locked and your keys are in the inside.

This happened to me last night at about 10:30 p.m. I had gone out to put some trash in the bin, and without thinking, locked my new security screen door. Not the kind of security I had in mind, of course.

For a few minutes I stood there, shivering* in front of the door, looking at the cat, who was meowing as if to say, "you really screwed up," pondering the possibilities. I live next door to my landlords, but they're not night owls, and it was past their bed time. I really hated to wake them. I didn't have my phone, it was inside next to my keys. They live in a relatively large house and it's difficult to hear the doorbell or knocking in their bedroom, but I tried....for about five minutes.

So I stood on their porch and pondered some more, fighting rising panic at the thought of spending the night outside. I took a breath and realized that the lights and TV were on at the next door neighbors' and though I don't know them all that well, I realized I needed to ask for help. So I knocked on the door, borrowed their phone and tried calling my landlords to see if that would wake them. Nothing doing. Finally I sighed and told the husband, "If you have a phone book, may I borrow it? I'll call a locksmith." I was actually feeling a little proud of myself in the midst of abject embarrassment. I was problem solving!

He looked at me and said, "Oh you don't want to do that. Are there any open windows or any other access beside the front door?" I told him I thought I'd left one bedroom window open, on the side of the house where the window is on the second floor and there's no structure next to or below it, which always made me think it was safe to leave that window open.

He laughed and said, "I'll get in your window and open the door." My intrepid neighbor got shoes, gloves and a flashlight, put on a cap*, and we went to his backyard to get a ladder. He put the ladder over the back fence, trying to avoid ruining my landlady's roses, and then climbed over the fence himself, noting that it was harder to climb over than the last time he'd scaled a fence and maybe he should work on his flexibility.

Then he stood below my second floor window and sized up the situation. He called out to me, "Hey there's already a ladder here!" and before I could respond to say that it was an antique ladder and probably not sturdy enough, he'd climbed to the top and said, "This is feasible, not easy, but feasible!". A few minutes later the screen was off the window, he'd pulled up the blinds and climbed in. My hero! I went around and met him at the front the door, told him he could have whatever he wanted (well, within the boundaries of his wife's agreement!), and thanked him effusively. He was pretty nonchalant, as though this is the kind of thing he does on a regular basis (think of a cowboy saying, "tweren't nothin, ma'am." and shuffling).

Then he said, "Hey I should put your screen back on!" And he did, back onto that shaky ladder one more time, finishing the job.

I learned four important things:

1) Don't be afraid to ask for help.
2) The kindness some people show is simply amazing.
3) This guy's wife is really lucky!
4) I need to tie my keys and phone around my neck the minute I walk in the door to avoid ever locking myself out again.

Ah the joys of the post-menopausal memory fog.

*For those of you not in Southern California, may I please explain that to us, 50 degrees is cold! I could see my breath as I spoke (well whimpered with shame, actually). I did not have a coat on. Yes, I know this is not equivalent to you walking twelve miles to school in the snow, barefoot, uphill both ways. I know, Southern Californian's are wimps.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Rituals, Love, Acceptance and Rejection

My mama and I have a weekly ritual. I drive 50 miles to her house every Saturday morning. We nearly always have the same thing for lunch, and our conversations often revolve around the same topics. Sometimes I could swear we have the same conversation verbatim -- I have a sense of deja vu often.

On Saturday nights, I take mama out to dinner. We usually have the fine company of her lovely friend Anna Jean. Week before last we were on our own, though, and we decided to go to the Norm's that recently opened near her home. For those of you not from Southern California, Norm's is an institution, a modern day diner with hints of the past. The food is plentiful, pretty tasty, and reasonably priced.

As I wheeled mama into the restaurant she was afraid we'd wait forever because it was crowded, but there are more booths than tables, and since she uses her wheelchair whenever we go out, we often move to the front of the line since we need a table.

We'd been seated about five minutes when a young family with a baby came in and were seated behind us. Mama loves babies, so I told her that a baby had come in and she couldn't see him, but I'd make sure to wheel her in the best direction to say hi to him when we left. The father, a very proud papa, overheard me, and he brought the baby to meet mama. He took the three month old baby boy out of his carrier and gently held him against my mom's chest so she could not only see the baby, but feel him and smell that sweet baby smell.

I was holding my breath, first with the awe of the kindness of the young man. I didn't think I'd said it very loud, but mama is nearly deaf, so I must have. A man at the next table over asked the proud papa if he was going to show the child to everyone in the restaurant. And, that proud papa walked that little baby to every table in our section. Smiles everywhere, the brightest of which belonged to mama.

There was another reason I was holding my breath. My mama is nearly 90, and she was born south of the Mason-Dixon line in the early 1920s. Though she's much more aware and accepting of diversity than someone of her origins might be, she still holds some unfair stereotypes. The proud papa was covered in tattoos, the sort typically associated with gangs and/or time in prison. She didn't say anything except, "thanks, your baby is adorable." I exhaled.

After dinner, I wheeled her across the parking lot to the new Super King supermarket. She said very quietly, "He didn't want those. They made him get them," referring to the tattoos. I leaned over and kissed her cheek and murmured, "probably so, Mama, probably so."

We walked into Super King, a large and brand spanking new store with many products marketed to the Latino majority in her town. Mama had just been so amazing about the proud papa with the tattoos, and she loves the Latino family who live across the street from her and keep a loving eye on her. When we were in the bread aisle, I picked up a loaf of Bimbo brand bread (Bimbo is a teddy bear and the label on the bread was in Spanish). Bless her heart, she refused to let me buy Bimbo brand bread for her. She was not interested in any bread called Bimbo, because all good feminists know that it's not good to be a bimbo. I just had to chuckle while I looked for "American" bread.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

We come to understanding in our own time

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."
~Steve Jobs

This past weekend I turned 54, only two years younger than Steve Jobs at his passing. His quote, widely read, makes me feel, at turns, nervous, lost, vulnerable, and hopeful.

I understand that my time is limited. According to someone's statistics I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 days left. There are no guarantees, of course, and I may have only one day left. I'm swayed by another thought of Jobs, about asking himself if he had only one day left would he still want to do what he planned to do that day. I think about that often.

Outwardly I have lived my own life, and yet I know how much I have lived a life in the shadow of other people's (mostly unmet) expectations of me. I've spent many years following my heart while ignoring my intuition. And, I don't know what I want to "become."

I wonder if that is because I am already what I am meant to be or because I'm afraid that I can't really become what I want to become. I'm not sure either of those sentences is accurate. Perhaps my understanding is just coming later than it does for many people. That one day I will understand seems to be the truth, and I have to set aside my worries, fears, self-perceived inadequacies and stop listening to the voices of others to hear my own voice. I trust that I have my own voice and my own understanding. I am content to practice patience so that I may listen to it.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Brave? No, cheap!

I saw my hairdresser today. I stopped dying my hair in May (meaning I stopped covering up my naturally grey hair), and had it cut very, very short. I suppose it did take some courage, but honestly, the every three week maintenance became an expense I no longer wanted. A haircut once every six weeks is much more convenient and affordable.

At the salon, a woman walked past me and said she wished she was so brave, and my hairdresser and I laughed. When I told my hairdresser that about 98 of every 100 people I see ask me why I decided to dye my hair "blonde," she said, "I wish you had blogged about this whole episode of your life." Then we debated why so many people are convinced I dyed my hair blonde, had some more laughs, and tearfully admitted we both do miss the every three weeks visits, but this is good, too.

Meanwhile, I'm seeing the whole "blonde" thing as funny, and I'm going to find out if it is true that blondes have more fun. We'll see if I blog about that...grin.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A brand new, shiny year

I've been terribly remiss about posting, haven't I? The two of you who actually read this may need reviving from the shock of seeing a new post!

The Holidays came, and thankfully, went. I used to comment to a friend that I basically held my breath between Thanksgiving and and the second of January. 2011 is shiny and new, and I'm determined to consider it thus as long as I can, at least the shiny part. Maybe I will be able to breathe between next Thanksgiving and next January 2nd.

I've been sidetracked with some back pain, family stuff, return to work, concern about some of my people who aren't faring as well as I wish they were. I've been saddened beyond words by the recent events in Arizona.

Although one can (and many have) argue that no politician's views are directly responsible for the actions taken by this lone gunman, I do think that violent rhetoric is out of hand and influences individuals more than we know. Violent rhetoric doesn't leave room for compromise or any form of bipartisanship. Retreat to our not-so-neutral corners doesn't accomplish what we need accomplished for our society and for the world. Even people with diametrically opposed views such as Tip O'Neill and Ronald Reagan could be civil. They could also live with crafting and supporting legislation that, while not perfectly aligned to either party's views, got things accomplished. I really only want to hear the phrase "locked and loaded" on the TV show What Not to Wear, where the hosts are commenting about appropriate undergarments and jacket styles for very well-endowed, bosomy women.

I believe I heard on some tv program that bullets are about two cents apiece. It used to be that statesmen (what's the right word for the 21st century, women? Statesperson I suppose) were also common. Now they seem in alarmingly short supply. How I would love to see that quality return to our lives. I would also like to see some sane gun reform (to my gun toting friends who don't even read this, note I did not say gun "control.") Is it really unreasonable to have to wait to buy a handgun? Is it really unreasonable to prevent civilian gun users from having extra round magazine clips and purchase of unlimited quantities of ammunition?

Moving on, I've also been inspired by many blog and twitter posts, and while I somewhat agree with those who think the whole "one word" buzz is limiting, and I like to be multi-faceted, I have picked one word as a main theme for this year: LOVE. I want to love fiercely this year, and so far, I have. Now I have to consider how to love fiercely as a Virgo, having always been a Libra. Do we really have to believe there are now 13 astrological signs?

14 days down, 351 to go!