Friday, December 20, 2013

Fridays at First Day: Longfellow's Christmas Carol

I love Christmas songs.  I equally enjoy the hokey carols you hear repeated incessantly on the radio and the quality versions of Christmas hymns and classics.  There is certain music I need to hear each season to ensure I feel holly and jolly.  I need to hear Andy Williams sing, "and woop dee do and dickory dock and don't forget to hang up your sock, because just exactly at 12 o'clock, he'll be comin' down the chimney, down."

And while I highly doubt Andy was trying to portray a profound piece of the holiday with the world, some carols really reach deep and pull at our belief.  A Christmas song that has come to speak to me in recent years is, "I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day."  As a child, I just let the words float over my head and dance about the twinkle lights.  As an adult, I could meditate on its meaning for hours.

Today, over at The First Day, I give a mix of commentary and contemplation on this well-recognized, but maybe not well-known carol.


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Longfellow’s Christmas Carol


At this point in his life, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow had also survived his only two wives. The first died of a miscarriage, four years after they wed. The second died from burns sustained during an accidental fire that caught her dress. Longfellow, himself, extinguished the flames by smothering them with his body. He was so badly burned he could not attend his bride’s funeral. It is, therefore, not surprising that he ceases to praise the bells.  Read more.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Advent

I found the tracks
in the deep snow
between the trees.

In spite of facts
we did not know,
but prophet sees.

No one answers
as we waited
to feast or drink.

Watching dancers
breathless, baited
to float or sink.

Back surrounded
at the table,
a baby cries.

All dumbfounded:
not a fable.
Belief defies.


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This poem was written in response to this week's The Speakeasy prompt.  The first line and picture above were given as inspiration to write fiction or poetry.  This is my first poetic entry.  Constructive criticism appreciated.  Click on the button below to read the other fabulous writers who are hanging out there this time around.

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Friday, December 13, 2013

Friday's at First Day: How the Grinch Saved Christmas

As promised, I am blogging over at The First Day.  My posts continue to be Christmas-themed for this online magazine which focuses on arts, culture, faith and practice.  Today, I tell a sweet story about what one Christmas was like at my house.  It did not involve the Elf on the Shelf.  It involved the Grinch.  And it was something I will never forget.

Please follow the title link below to read my article in full.  And, as always, let The First Day (and me) know what you think.  

How the Grinch Saved Christmas
My mom claims that my dad has become “grinchier” over the years. When they were first married, he was still a giddy kid, the one that made Christmas special for the two of them each year. But, as people do, he has changed a bit over the years. He is no grinch, but I agree that fewer sugar plums dance in his head. So, one year, my mom, who coincidentally has gotten a bit jollier over time, bought him a miniature, plush, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” doll as a gift.  Read more...


Next week, my plan is to write a commentary type post on one of my favorite Christmas carols.  What are some of yours?  


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

This Year in Review: My Blog's First Birthday

December 11 marks the one year anniversary of this blog, Kristin Has Two Eyes.  And in case, after a year, you have yet to notice that the blog's title is a pun, please do so now.  I literally have two eyes on my face through which I observe the wonderful stuff this world offers me to write, and I also have two i's in my name.  As in, "How do you spell your name?"

"Oh, well, thanks so much for asking.  Kristin has two i's"

Over this past year, I have published 60 posts and drafted many others.  I believe my writing has matured over this time and I truly appreciate you all reading, commenting and being my audience.  I would not have grown without you.

The blog has been visited over 11,000 times and has received over 800 comments (OK, some of those where mine.)  I am looking forward to another 12 months of essay and anecdote, flash fiction and a bit of fun. If we are all lucky, The Video Game Voyeur will return in some fashion.  She obviously has two eyes as well.  Regardless, I hope you come along for the ride and invite others to jump on along the way.

Here is a sampling of some of the blog's "best" this year.  

Funniest: She Refused
Remember when I basically sat naked in the dermatologist's office?  Yeah.  That one.

Best Fiction: Sibling Rivalry
This post won me my first and only Speakeasy award this year.  

Most Recognized: Fortuitous Forty
This blog won me my first and only Jury Prize at Yeah Write.  And it landed me on the top 60 posts of all time over there as well.  It was also featured on Project Underblog, a blog dedicated to highlighting smaller sites like mine.

Most Viewed: I May Be An Idiot, But So Is The Lady At The Post Office
Somehow, this post has been hit over 1300 times.  WAY more than most of my other posts.  Maybe lots of people get online to complain about the post office?    

My Favorite: Uninvited
I don't know if this is my all-time favorite post, but it is right now.  It tells the story of getting to know a complete stranger, interacting with someone face-to-face in this busy, tech-crazed, rush of a world.  

And last, but not least, a great, big shout out to my fabulous friend M. Kendall Ludwig for my brand new blog design.  She always makes me look good.  If you need a "blog-lift" like I did, find her at CurlyRed.

Do you have any favorite posts from this year?  What would you like to see on the blog in the next?



Friday, December 6, 2013

Fridays at First Day: The Truth About Santa

I am thrilled to announce that I will be writing weekly for The First Day, an online magazine and quarterly print publication focusing on art, culture, faith and practice.  The content and collaboration excites me and I will be sure to share my "Fridays at First Day" each week here on my blog.

This week's post might stir up a bit of controversy, but more than that I just hope it gives you a glimpse into my life and how I am attempting to live it to the fullest.  Please follow the title link below to the rest of the article on The First Day and do not hesitate to comment over there, no matter how you feel.  Comments are always appreciated.


We still share Christmas stories and songs about Santa, but we don’t bring his character to life in the ways many parents choose to do. We don’t encourage our kids to write him letters or rile them up when he makes an appearance. We don’t build up the idea of receiving a huge pile of presents on Christmas morning. And, we never employ him as a behavioral tool, threatening that his affection would be based on “how naughty” or “how nice” the kids are during the year.  Read more.

Check back next week for another Friday at First Day, starring The Grinch!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Joy and Happiness

The tacky, plastic decoration must have sat out at least one year.  It is faded, no doubt, from the sun that shone through the bay window in the terrace kitchen.  I can almost picture it there.  After all, it was meant to sit where light would shine through it, the now dull colors ever translucent.

I remember buying it for them.  Choosing a gift for my grandparents from dozens of others laid out on tables set up on the school stage.  The heavy, burgundy curtains closed to protect the integrity of our workshop.  I bought my other grandmother a hat pin that year.  Not a pin for a hat, but a pin in the shape of one.  It was blue.

This gift is blue, too, a cool backdrop for faux-glass Santa.  I wonder if that influenced my choice.  Based on my cursive on the enclosed tag (they saved the tag - oh my heart) I was probably 8 or 9, maybe 10.  I doubt color alone could have swayed my purse.  Perhaps I pictured their window as I do now and knew they would have just the place.  Maybe not.

Mom says it should be mine.  I gave it to them and now they are gone, from the house at least.  Pop lives in a tiny apartment now and has not gotten this stuff out in years, anyway.  I don't want it, but I don't want to get rid of it either.  It wouldn't feel right.  I should just recycle it and let it give back after doing nothing for years in a box.  It's too junky to donate, I think.

It's message is nice if not a bit redundant.  The panel next to St. Nick reads, "May the joy and happiness of the season be with you."  Joy.  And happiness.  Wishing you profound and superficial emotions this holiday.  That feels right.

Maybe I do keep it.  Or maybe I just keep the note with my script.  I can't decide.  The last thing I need is another thing.

But here is the real gift: returning it to its original box to put the decision aside, I get a whiff of the terrace kitchen.  

I am keeping it.  The whole ridiculous thing.  It smells exactly like them.  And that makes me happy.


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Feeling "holly jolly" over at Yeah Write again this week.  Click on the button below to check out some other writers who blog and bloggers who write.  It'll make you happy - might even bring you joy.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

She Shook My Hand

Peas.  I was feeding him peas.  Paw prints.  There were blue paw prints on his bib.  The rest was a blur.  A blur of brown sweaters dotted with dancing glasses filled deep with red wine.  The house was warm, cozy, I guess, and swimming in a din I did not discern.  All I could see was my very young son in a very old high chair eating chunky baby food.  All I could hear was everyone else enjoying themselves.

"Shaun and his new girlfriend are here."  My husband's voice snapped my glazed eyes into focus and I turned my head toward him.  He looked so good in a fresh cranberry pullover and dark blue jeans.  I needed to go shopping.  I had nothing nice to wear.

I returned my attention to the pureed peas.  My cousin always had someone new to show off during the holidays.  I was not particularly amused and I pretended my interest was not piqued.  When they finally entered the kitchen for introductions, I leaned back in my chair, crossed my legs and casually waved the baby spoon.   

"Hi, I'm Lindsey!" She was impossibly tiny and tan, busty and blonde.

"Hi."  My eyes met hers.  They were blue, too.

After a rush of pleasantries flush with compliments, the air settled and I could smell the peas, again.  My husband leaned in close and whispered, "What was her name?"

"I already forget.  It's not like we will need to remember.  He'll bring someone else to Christmas."

* * * * *

Peaches.  I was feeding him peaches.  Snowflakes.  There were gray snowflakes on his bib.  I was sitting near the radiator and could feel both its warmth and the draft from the window.  My hands were cold.  The radio had just begun to play "White Christmas" when the phone rang.  It was my dad.  

"Sweetie, I have some terrible news.  Shaun and Lindsey were in a car accident."

"Lindsey?"

"Shaun's new girlfriend.  You met her on Thanksgiving."  My dad paused, probably displeased.

"I remember her, of course."

"Shaun is fine, well, he is not hurt, but Lindsey...they flew Lindsey to Shock Trauma.  She is in a coma."

My mind reeled in rewind, replaying that one moment I met her.  Her hair was in a bun.  She put her arm around my cousin.  She kissed my baby on the head.  She shook my hand.  She smiled.  Her eyes were blue.

"They were on their way to Aunt Sherry's for dinner or something.  It was last night, when it was raining.  Shaun was driving his truck.  It happened on Highland Parkway and Front Street."

I couldn't process what he was saying.  I shook my head to make sense of the words.  He was driving.  She might die.  But, I would never forget Lindsey's name now.

"Where?"

"On Highland, in front of the Dunkin' Donuts."

From that day forward, every time I drove past that street corner, I thought of her.

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This piece is a work of fiction loosely based on a true story and written in response to a weekly writing prompt.  Four and a half years ago, my cousin and his new girlfriend were in a car accident.  The real life Lindsey is alive and well, but I am unclear how well she is.  All I know was that her head injury was severe and her recovery process long.  She and my cousin did not remain together.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

They Gave Me an Assignment

I liked school.  I was good at school.  I worked well within the constrains of syllabi and assessments.  And so, when I was asked by the editor at The First Day, a new online and print magazine devoted to arts, culture, faith and practice, to submit a piece on attending a recent conference, I was tickled pink.  I had an assignment. 

I am already hopeful I will write for this site again or maybe even regularly (fingers crossed.  I love assignments!).  It would be an honor to join the "cast of characters" already populating this website's list of writers.  I feel passionate about issues of faith and appreciate having a safe place to discuss them, one that crosses backgrounds, cultures, and denominations.

If you haven't already done so, please read my post, published today.  Please also peruse The First Day site in its entirety.  No matter what your belief system I am confident you will find something there that speaks to you.

As always, I am grateful for your readership and feedback.  The First Day feels the same.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

It's Tuesday. What Is It To You?

To most, today is just a regular old Tuesday.

Many are off to work and school.  Many are staying at home to care for kids.  A few are staying home to care for parents.  Some are enjoying their coffee and the paper as they always do.  Some are just home from work and bee-lining for bed.  Most people are thinking nothing more of this day than any other.  Deep down, they are probably grateful.    

But, keep in mind, when you meet someone today (and any day, for that matter) that we never really know what kind of Tuesday they are having.

It just might be the day their son was born or their dog died.  It could be their first day of retirement (though probably not.  Who waits to retire on Monday?) Or their morning could have brought bad news, or a promotion, or a good grade, or not much of anything out of the ordinary at all.

Or, this day could just possibly be the day on which they celebrate a unique tradition established at least 10 years before with a history more than 30 years in the making.  A day they prepare for with creativity and silliness.  A day that, to them, symbolizes the official start to the holiday season.

It could be Walnut Tuesday (though probably not.  Who celebrates that?).

Happy Walnut Tuesday, Everyone!!!


Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday Morning Gratitude

I just got home from my morning walk with our new dog, Tucker.  I haven't written about him, yet.  Or about our buddy boy Ben, our pup of 8 years, who we lost just two months ago.  I think I am still comprehending just how much a dog means to it's family.

Tucker is a wonderful dog and, like Ben, a gift.  He gets me up before the girls and it's been a healthy time for me.  Often, as soon as we venture  outside, I feel an ease in my step.

This morning, the warm breezes tickled the many fallen leaves and roused them to dance alongside our legs and feet.  As Tucker first started to sniff about, I took in the sky, already pale blue and beautiful, dotted with freshly baked baguette shaped clouds.

And then, with the winds, they soon separated to reveal a sudden shock of light.  The moon, still wide awake and bursting with a glory I have never seen, seemed to appear just for me.  A tiny gasp escaped my lips, Tucker's ears flapping the grass under me.  I was struck still in awe.

"Thank you, God," I said.

Tucker and I continued on, along our normal route.  And despite discovering well into the walk that the poop bag had a hole, I was full of joy.  I was so content in the simplicity of the moment and the quietness of the morning.  I pondered how I could bottle my mood to swallow again later, whenever I would need a good grounding dose of my blessed reality.

There had to be a way to harness this 1.21 gigawatts of joy.

I am confident it is always there for the taking, but I overlook it so easily.  I get caught up in complications and let the dust they kick up settle over everything.  I walk on, but head down and in a fog.  Little shocks me awake like this morning's moon.  

As Tucker and I rounded the corner for home, the moon was no longer visible, but my answer suddenly was.  I had come full circle and found myself standing where I started.  And what had I done?  What had put this day on the right path?

I said, "Thank you, God."


 

Monday, November 11, 2013

My Kingdom for a Squeezy Yogurt

Today was a "hang-around day" as the girls and I call it.  My preschooler was home sick and so errands and outings were put on hold in exchange for paramount pretending and a healthy amount of television.

We played "resturnaut" (restaurant), "checker" (store) and celebrated everyone's birthday at least once with invitations, cake, tea and presents.  Overall, besides being extra intense, it was an enjoyable day.  My youngest refused to nap, I took my on-duty power shower at 5pm, and I never unloaded the dishwasher, but all of that is fine with me.

I just don't want to get sick.

Because Friday, I get to pretend to be grown up.  I get to catch a train to New York for a day-long conference.  I get to wear clothes I haven't worn since I was working.  I get to network with other like-minded women.  I get to hear perspectives from some of the most innovative Christian thinkers and writers today.  I even get to visit with a lifelong friend and eat multiple meals in real "resturnauts."  If I had a beret, you might just catch me tossing it into the Manhattan air as I stroll down the bustling streets.

And while I know that God has me right where He wants me, I obviously continue to struggle with being "just a mom".  It can be challenging to accept serving "squeezy yogurts" as Kingdom work.  I know I could be doing even more to serve this world and those who live in it.  The question is: should I?

Coincidentally, the conference is all about Women and Calling.  What roles are women meant to have in this world?  Any one they desire?  How do we balance work outside the home with that for our families?  Do we "Lean In"?  Do we "Lean Out"?  Do we "Shake It All About?"

Because, clearly, despite our best efforts, we cannot do it all.  But, for some reason, I still try.

Like today, I got an email from the conference requesting a title, bio and headshot to enhance our online presence at the conference.  I immediately attempted to mentally craft my response in the whirlwind that is lunch, laundry, naps, and pooping shenanigans during naps.  And since I wasn't in the best head space, I came up with something along the lines of:


Mommy (Miss Kristin) is never alone.  She can be found constantly correcting her "clients" both two-legged and four.  When everyone is actually sleeping she spends her free time planning for positions that she gets paid absolutely nothing to fill.  While Kristin met her husband in college, she barely recognizes who she remembers she was at that time. She will always be a "Balti-moron" at heart even though her husband's successful career may move them away one day.  Her happy place is at her blog, Kristin Has Two Eyes (which are probably closed.  Shh.  She's napping.)


But, don't fret.  This is what I submitted instead:


Kristin LeFeber is a stay-at-home mom to her two young girls.  She leads both an adult house church and the preschool ministry at New Hope Community Church in Pikesville, MD.  Prior to domestic life, Kristin earned a B.S. in Education from Grove City College and worked as a Marketing Coordinator for the city of Baltimore where she and her family still live.  She can be reached at www.kristinhastwoeyes.blogspot.com


Wish me (whoever I am) well. Like, literally. I really don't want to get sick!


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Stealin' and Four-Wheelin'

I am not a risk taker.

And so, every year I turn down the opportunity to go four-wheeling in the woods surrounding my college roommate's central Pennsylvania cabin.  My husband usually goes out and I did go with him once.  I didn't dare drive.  I rode behind hugging him tight and clamoring through clenched teeth, "I don't like it.  I don't like it."

But this year, I was motivated to go again by jealousy and a beautiful day.  See, I completely trust my husband and while he is far from an experienced four-wheeler, I didn't hesitate to let him take our daughter out for a little ride. When they returned they excitedly showed me the view from the top of the hill behind the house and I knew I wanted to see it, too.

The view I just had to see for myself.
And so I went.  Camera strapped tight to my back and helmet strapped tight to my head, the hubs and I made our way through the trees that glowed golden in the fresh autumn air.  At the top, we stopped to take pictures and relax a bit, finally on vacation from our kids and our cares.  

City girl four-wheelin' in the country.
Enthused by reaching the summit and comfortable with our girls safe at the cabin with our friends, I actually asked for more.  We headed off back down the mountain and found a large corn field to explore.  After awhile we stopped again to get artsy fartsy with our camera because that's what you're supposed to do when you go four-wheeling, right?

Artsy fartsy feed corn.
And then, before I really even knew it, I plucked this and another ear of corn as a souvenir.  We don't grow much corn in Baltimore and I ignorantly believed taking two ears of feed corn was akin to picking two dandelions out of the cracks of someone's driveway.

It is not.

Within seconds of hopping back on the four-wheeler, a red sedan screeched off the road and approached us on the trail.

"Who are you?" the woman demanded as she emerged from her car.

"Uh, uh," my husband stammered, "We are friends of the..."

"Kellers!" I offered, remembering my friend's parent's name first.  I pointed back in what I thought was the general direction of the cabin.

"Eh heh." The woman grunted.  "I see.  I also see you have helped yourself to some corn.  Eh."

I clutched the ears, a bit buttered with guilt.

Chivalry is not dead and my husband came to my defense.  "Oh.  Well, we just thought they would be nice for decorating."

We did?

"Heh.  Fine."  Flashing us one more threatening hairy eyeball, she left.

It is unclear where she came from, but she certainly ended our fun.  And I am not sure whether she taught me to take even fewer risks or to take a few more.  But I do know that our door looks smashing this season.





Back over at Yeah Write where writers blog and bloggers really write.  Click on the button below to read the other awesome posts linked up this week.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Community and My First 5K

It was a beautiful morning to run.  The air was crisp and cool.  My ankles felt strong.  I had on my new Ravens t-shirt.  And best of all, I was surrounded by friends.  Friends who, like me, were eager to get moving and excited to be able to follow through on what we had been pledged to do: run 3.1 miles in order to raise money for a family seeking asylum in the United States.

The family was there to cheer us on.  Our families were there, too.  Some of us had been running for years and others, like me, had just started.  But we all felt confident we would finish strong and we all did.
Everyone crossed the finish line in under 30 minutes.

I loved running in a group.  The motivation and morale can not be beat.  Yes, time alone is therapeutic and not to be denied, but I know I ran my best today.  We chatted about the route and compared gaits.  We waved to the cars that let our little posse pass and decided it was because we looked so official in our donated numbers.  We encouraged each other on the hills and sprinted side by side when the end was near.

The run was fun.

The run was successful.

The run raised nearly $2000 and will provide an amazing, faithful family the relief they need as they wait through a lengthy process.  A process during which they can not work.  This family fled their homeland out of fear and basically with only what was on their backs.  The least we could do was run a few blocks and raise a few bucks.

And how did we do it?  By combining our skills and resources.  By tapping our networks.  By fully embracing community at its best.  A community of which I am so proud to be a part.

Me and my parents who have always taught me both to give back and to stay fit.

The six runners who ran for relief.  Thanks for a fabulous first 5K.  Let's do it again sometime!
I also want to thank all of those who donated and coordinated behind the scenes.
After all, not everyone was "born to run."





Friday, October 11, 2013

Running the Run for Relief

In high school, volleyball practice always began with 25 laps around the court.  Slapping the shellacked wood floor like lemmings, we ran in constant circles.  While I played volleyball with true dedication for four years, I routinely fudged my run count.  Yeah, I did most of it, but I never ran it all.

In college, I enjoyed working out in the campus gym.  I continued my strength training from my team sports days and often utilized the stationary bikes.  I never ran.  I never even used the elliptical machines.  Running like a dinosaur is still running.  In fact, I think besides the occasional dash to class, I did not run for any length of time after the required mile during freshman year fitness and wellness class.

But, for some reason, I laced up my nine-year-old New Balance sneakers and took off around my neighborhood early on Labor Day.  And I really liked it.  (Don't fret, I have since purchased new shoes and may even require different ones.)

For weeks, I would wake before my alarm.  I would skip down my front steps in anticipation and don my headphones.  And then I would breathe in the luxury of my run.  I could hardly believe it myself.

But, the honeymoon ended.  Both of my ankles started to ache.  More and more mornings had to be sacrificed for early meetings and rest for my feet.  No huge loss.  I probably took things a bit fast in the beginning and am paying for that now.  I still enjoy running and will continue to do so.

The problem lies in the fact that, during my enthusiastic "early days" (six loooooong weeks ago) I agreed to run a 5K to raise money for a family near and dear to our church.  This 5K is eight even shorter days away. And I still have never run 2.5 miles let alone 3.1.

So.

After we return from our weekend in the woods where the hills are too treacherous for me, I will do my best to prepare.  After nearly 10 days off, I am eager to get back out there and pound the pavement.  I feel healthy.  I feel motivated.  People have paid for me to run this thing and that means a lot to me.  My hope is to raise even a little bit more.  My goal is to run the entire way.

Wait.  The Run for Relief has nothing to do with me, in the end.  True ministry should only be about the people you are serving, right?  Well, God has a groovy way of using ministry to serve everyone involved.   I have seen that firsthand on several missions trips and service projects.  Really, God will reach you.  Even if you do not have the true heart of a servant.  Even if you have selfish ambition.  I know physically, mentally and spiritually preparing for this run has changed me.  Even when I have made it about me.

But most importantly, I know the run will help the family we care about, even if in just a small way.

Thanks be to God (not me.)    

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perserverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of our faith."  Hebrews 12:1-2a


www.ournewhope.org/runforrelief

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Just Another Rainy Thursday

It rained ALL DAY.  In fact, it is still raining.  Thankfully, I thought to schlep out in the middle of the day to retrieve firewood and let it dry out.  As I write this, my fingers and toes are toasty from our first of many fires this season.

The rain made the morning a bit mundane.  Neither the kids nor I were feeling all that energetic or creative. They had some success playing games together.  I tried to get a few things done around the house.  My blatant disregard for my children during these brief intervals caused them to immediately crank and fuss and, all of a sudden, no game was good enough.  I put on Diego.

The rain rewarded us in the afternoon with extended quiet time.  I got my work done.  I read my book.  I listened to the sound of the rain against the window and then realized that was all I could hear.  My oldest rarely actually sleeps during nap time anymore and that is just as well.  We all get our breaks even though mine is to the soundtrack of her constant narrative.  But, today she had looked very tired and I was glad she had succumbed.  Our upcoming weekend will be busy as was our previous one.

Just as I dozed off myself, I heard her cry out in alarm, "Mommy!  Mommy!"  I knew she had woken up, confused in a fuzz after midday sleep.  I scaled the steps in that quick way only someone who lives here can, and found her sitting up on her bed.

"It's OK, baby, " I whispered, my other baby still down.  "You fell asleep today.  You feel weird?  Come here, lie back down with Momma."

She quickly obliged and told me she was cold.  I wrapped us both tight and she snuggled deep into my arms, her face to my chest.  Only a few minutes later, she was fast asleep, her cute lips slightly parted, her breath sweet on my skin.  I was in heaven, cradling her little body and stroking her soft, orange hair.

I closed my eyes, but then she shifted abruptly and I knew it would end.  I looked down at her and found her looking up at me in genuine surprise.

"Mommy, why are you in here?" she asked with a smile.  "I didn't know you were here."

I started to explain what had happened, but the longer I spoke the more concerned she looked.  So I paused.

And then, my four-and-a-half-year-old angel, baby doll peed all over herself, the bed, and me.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Mr. Mel

I first noticed the gold limousine when I stuck my nose out front to judge that morning's weather.  Initially, I thought perhaps Mr. Mel, the older man who lives across the street, had treated himself to a Groupon and was going to be chauffeured all around Baltimore like a king just for kicks.  But soon, unfamiliar figures arrived, lining their cars behind the limo. They emerged dressed in black and greeted each other with quiet handshakes and hugs.

All the same this funeral flock was a lovely sight to watch.  The young, fresh and tidy taking somewhat sophisticated steps into the reality of life.  The old, a bit beaten, but bold, relying on others to steady them to do this yet again.  It was comforting to see Mr. Mel had more than physical shelter from the storms.  

As time passed, I began to wonder for whom they all gathered.  I worried, perhaps, it was Mr. Mel's son who I had seen visiting from time to time.  I considered calling out to even those I did not know, but hesitated.  Shouting, "Hey, who died?" across the yellow lines was probably not proper, after all.

Mr. Mel had yet to be seen, but I knew he was being well cared for, no matter who was gone.  His friends and relatives enveloped him.  Some entered his home from the front while others walked around back. I pictured him sitting inside at a table with a checkered cloth, drinking tea, all of their hands on his somber shoulders.

After our morning routine of coffee and Candyland, my youngest and I prepared to color the sidewalks.  Mr. Mel's door opened just as ours did and I searched for him in the small crowd.  As the mourning wave flowed down the yard it was he who saw me first.  Following his lead, I walked toward him and we met in the middle of the street.  I gave him a big hug and kissed his freckled cheek.

"Mel, what happened?"

"I lost my mother.  She was 102."  His words were calm and proud.

"God bless her," I said looking right into his eyes and then nodded to those looking on.

I suppose we did make an odd looking pair, the two of us, in the middle of the road.  Mr. Mel is a tall, black man, a retired police officer, who smokes a pipe while he waters his lawn.  I like to think of him as a social Boo Radley who watches over my family during the day.

"You know what my mother said?" Mr. Mel egged me on.

"Tell me, what did she say?"

"She said keep looking out for those little girls."

I was stunned.  "No, she didn't," I remarked, unsure how she knew.  Perhaps she had seen my daughters draw chalk, or ride bikes, or smile and wave at Mr. Mel.  But, I didn't remember seeing her.

He smiled.  "She did indeed.  And I will."

After another strong hug, I watched him walk back in his dark gray suit.  As he turned to settle into the car I took note of his bright crisp, white shirt and dapper red bow tie.  A big little boy all dressed up for his momma.  My heart sat sad, yet soared.

They say "good fences, make good neighbors," but I think standing face to face makes better ones.  Mr. Mel's mom, you must have been one special person.  Your son certainly is.    


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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Oh, The Places You'll Go

She sank into the depths of her memories.  Warm, salty air filled her lungs.  Emily savored the freedom she felt in those deep breaths.  The ocean waves sprayed her with blessings from beyond as her long dark hair danced upon her shoulders.  From the tops of these cliffs she could see for miles.

Emily cocked her head and smiled.  "Hey babe, remember when we were in Hawaii and we watched the sunset standing out on those large rocks?"

"Nope."

"Oh come on, yes you do.  We were standing up above the water, but the waves would still splash us a bit."  Emily dropped her arms to her sides and wiggled her fingers.

"I remember watching the sunset from the marina.  Oh man, and we saw that one yacht called The Codfather?  Remember that?  It was waving an Italian flag and everything."

Emily remembered the marina.  And the yacht.  Friends they stayed with in Honolulu had a boat and the views from the docks were lovely.  But she was somewhere else.

"No, that's not what I am picturing in my mind.  There were definitely cliffs and dramatic waves and no one else around.  It was peaceful, but I recall being a bit afraid.  Maybe I'm thinking about something from our trip to California to see Julie?"

Julie loved hiking and exploring.  Clearly this would have been the type of adventure her sister-in-law would have taken them on.

"I really don't think so, hon.  I would definitely have pictures of that."

Emily knew he was right.  In fact, she had twisted her ankle playing tennis their first day at Julie's and spent the remainder of the visit poolside.  It was fantastic, but incomparable to the thrilling terrain she could not shake.  

"Gah!  I feel like I'm going crazy.  It's so vivid.  How can I not place it?  What could I possibly be thinking of?"

"I don't know, Em.  Could it be someplace you went as a kid?"

Emily furrowed her brow and grimaced, "Right, like my family would go somewhere you had to schlep up rocks?  Puh-lease we went to the Jersey Shore every summer and you know it."

"Well, of course I know it.  I'm just trying to help.  Hey, maybe you're remembering a dream you had?

And then as certainly as it felt out of reach, it all came rushing back.  It hadn't been a dream, but a construction of her imagination nonetheless.  The echo of the caves, the insecurity of the coves, the rough feel of the canoes, even the smell of the wild dogs.  And while Karana eventually leaves the island in the book, Emily had kept her there in her mind.  At last, she knew where she was and she was so happy to have returned to the Island of the Blue Dolphins.

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This work is a piece of fiction written in response to a weekly prompt.  Click on the button below to read the prompt and the other awesome writers who hang out there.  Or, better yet, join us at the best gin joint on the web.
  

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sibling Rivalry

Something between the rocks glinted in the morning sunshine.  Danny impulsively jabbed at the mystery object with the scuffed toe of his navy blue sneaker.  In doing so, he discovered it was merely a small silver push pin, no doubt a fallen soldier from the telephone pole that stood tall at the end of his gravel driveway.  Perhaps the lost kitten had been found, or the yard sale a success.  Either way, the push pin's job was complete for now.  Danny plucked it up and absentmindedly put it in the pocket of his zip-up hoodie.  He had decided what to do.

"Mom!" he yelled toward the front of his house, "I'm going out on my bike!"

"Ok, sweetie.  But be back by lunch!  Your brothers need milk."

With his hands already on the handlebars, Danny hung his head in defeat and sighed.  "You want me to pick up milk?"

"Yeah.  I'll pay you back."

Danny settled onto the seat of his bike after a few initial pumps of the pedals.  The cool, autumn air tousled his hair and calmly encouraged him.  He would stop at the store on his way home, no big deal.  He had plenty of time.  He flew past the school and made a wide turn onto Walnut.  Even his lanky legs knew what he had to focus on first.  After years of churning turmoil, today was the day.  Danny Ellis was going to tell Katie Evans that he liked her.

He had ridden to her house countless times before, mostly because he couldn't think of anywhere else to ride.  One time, he offered to come to her house to work on a school project.  They had sat close together on the bench at her kitchen table and written a play about photosynthesis.  He played the plant.  She was the light.

Another time, her parents had employed him to take care of their cat while they were away over the summer.  He got to ride to her house almost everyday.  He ran his fingers over her furniture, smelled the soap at her sink, stood in her room, laid on her bed.  He would never forget those few weeks.

Danny parked his bike on the sidewalk and leaped up the now familiar front steps.  He knocked on the door and waited, nervously working his fingers.  The snapping sounds he made bounced around the large, covered porch where he had once taken shelter from a sudden rain shower.

"Oh, hey Danny.  Are you looking for Shaun?"  Katie's dad pushed up the sleeves on his chocolate brown sweater as he reached to open the screen door.  "Wanna come in?"

Danny looked at his sneakers and then back up.  Cracking his knuckled he replied, "My brother?  Shaun is here?"

"Well, actually he and Katie are out on a walk together, but I bet they'll be back soon."

Danny's mind reeled, but he finally managed to mumble, "Uh, thank you.  I, uh, have to go to the store for my mom."

"Ok, bud.  You take care.  See ya around."

As Mr. Evans turned to shut the door, the cat scurried up to Danny, rubbed herself against his corduroys and then meandered over to a bike parked on the porch.  Shaun's bike.  Focused as he was, Danny had overlooked it before, but there it stood.  It had gotten here first.  Danny buried his hands into the pockets of his zip-up hoodie.  He had decided what to do.

He jammed the push pin right into the tire of his brother's bike.  Five times.  One for every brother he had.


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This piece is a work of fiction inspired by a weekly prompt.  Click on the button below to read the prompt and the other amazing writers who post flash fiction and poetry there.
The Speakeasy is open...

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Immerse Yourself

I was sitting as I often do, one daughter under my left wing, one daughter under my right.  My husband was crouched beside our bench, poised to capture each moment with his camera.  The sun shone warm and bright across the pool and the faces of those standing in it.  We all waited and watched the water in wonder.

During the ceremony, my four-year-old looked up and whispered, her eyes sparkling, "I like this mommy, but..." Her mouth turned serious, "I can't get bath-tized."

I smiled.

I have no expectation that she make a life-long commitment to anything (or anyone) until she is at least 45.  I considered telling her she couldn't get married either, but since I never want my children to feel inhibited in anyway I responded logically instead.  

"Why not, sweetie?" I asked, stroking the peach-fuzz on her sweet, little arm.

"Well, because I don't want to go under the water."

Ah.  The preschool mind revealed yet again.

But she's right.  One can not experience full-immersion (being dunked, not drizzled) baptism if one does not want to go all the way under the water.  In my maternal interpretation: she's not ready.  In my experience: she will know when she is.  And I'm not talking about making a commitment to follow Jesus, I'm simply talking about literally putting her entire head in the pool.

Doctrine, faith, even spirituality aside, I believe we are all "bath-tized" throughout our lives.  Anytime we know we are ready for that next pivotal thing and we go ahead and take the plunge, we are made new.

Now, I am not talking about the tinier things in life like how I knew today that I was desperately ready for a new drain board because the one I had was nine years old, I never liked it in the first place and it was covered in permanent crud completely unacceptable for freshly washed dishes.

I am talking more along the lines of changing jobs or careers, reaching out to an estranged family member, embracing a new hobby or removing those proverbial training wheels you have been relying on for too long.

I just wrote an essay in which I describe the bravest thing I have ever done.  At that time in my life I felt weak and scared.  But, I felt ready.  I knew deep down in my belly button that my circumstances were convicting me to change.  And thankfully, I was given the strength to take the risk.  

When my daughter is ready to put her head completely under the water, she will know.  She will feel hesitant, but she will take the risk regardless.  And it will change her.  The entire pool with begin to open up for her.  She will be made new.

As the service concluded, the sun inched further behind the trees and the older kids inched closer to the water's edge.  The air had been refreshed.  And after only a simple phrase, "the pool in now open" the patient children of our church jumped in to celebrate.  



Friday, August 30, 2013

Meeting Mike Rowe

I had the opportunity to meet Mike Rowe (the Dirty Jobs guy) this summer.  And while I did not know who he was by name until a few weeks before I ended up shaking his hand, it was exciting nonetheless.  I got to chat with him briefly about where he grew up and about the foundation he has recently started.  And I learned that Mike Rowe and I have at least two things in common: we are both from Baltimore and we are both very proud of our dads.

See, I didn't meet him on the set of a Toyota commercial, or while traveling to San Francisco where he lives.  I met him on the campus of Essex Community College in Baltimore, Maryland.  Because he, like me, was there to see his father perform in a community theater production.

Now, I don't know John Rowe's history with acting, but I know Thom Peters'.  In high school, my dad discovered the stage and continued to pursue his love in college by majoring in drama.  He even embarked on a graduate degree in play writing, but left early to come home to my mom and start a family.  Dad left acting behind shortly thereafter and while he would occasionally recite Shakespeare and continued to religiously recognize the birthday of the great bard, his days of playing Macbeth were done.

But about six years ago, something must have bit him in the butt.  Maybe old Willy Shakes himself appeared to him in a dream.  My dad decided, after a nearly thirty year hiatus, to audition again.

The first few auditions didn't result in any parts, but he persevered until the right part came along.  Four summers ago he landed a leading role in two different plays and I got to see my daddy on stage!  It was thrilling to finally watch him do something he had always loved.  It was as if I got to meet my own father again for the first time.

Since then, my dad has performed in several more plays and I have eagerly attended each one.  And one of those times, I got to meet Mike Rowe.  Because he, like me, is just a good kid from Baltimore who is very proud of his dad.

The 2013 cast of "Social Security" at Essex's Cockpit in Court.
My dad is wearing a red tie.  Mike Rowe's dad is wearing a bow tie.
Read a review of the show here.


Mike Rowe and me after the performance.

Monday, August 26, 2013

In The Terrace Kitchen

Gram presides over the simple terrace kitchen from her place at the table, the one closest to the sink.  She always expects you meet her there for a hug and you never let her down.  As soon as you sit adjacent she places her strong, weathered hand over yours, her freshly painted nails blazing against your youthful skin.  Her finger tips stick gently to the plastic table cloth as she releases to reach behind her for the fridge.  You want nothing but a tall syrupy glass of sweet tea and a tuna sandwich on white bread.  Gram has already mixed the tuna just the way you like and Pop has made the tea.  After all, they knew you and your family would be there.  It's Sunday morning after church.

Through the screen door and the layers of chain link, you watch a few kids playing in the alley.  They ride small bikes up and down the concrete, whizzing by the seven or eight row houses you can see while you eat.  You'll probably stay inside and play cards with Gram or any other cousins who may also come by.  Or you will go in the back by the washing machine.  They have no dryer here.  You'll set up the ten wooden pins for your sister to knock down.  She'll take aim from across six or so tiles of linoleum, cream and evergreen.  

The expansive canvas awning shades the kitchen all day, but it is hot and you go back for more tea.  Gram smiles while you sip it, happy to have you here where she always is.  Pop sits by the phone. You won't hear it ring, though you will hear him shout out, "hello."  The screen door up in the living room slams and random family descends.  It's fun to see who it will be, who this Sunday morning will bring, down the stairs into the terrace kitchen.

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Even today, my memory feels clear though it may soon fade away.  Pop will not live here much longer.  It's time to move on after 56 years.  45 with her, 11 without.  The last time I saw her in this kitchen it was a few days before I went back to school.  She got up from the table, walked to me on the stairs in long, white shorts, the kind she often wore.  She handed me an envelope with some money for books, maybe snacks, some cash for my final year.  I'd be back soon.  I'd see her on break.  

But I didn't.  She was gone. 
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Gram presides over the simple terrace kitchen from her place at the table, the one closest to the sink.  She always expects you meet her there for a hug and you never let her down.  

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This piece was somewhat inspired by a recent trip to visit my daughters' Grandma.  I hope to write a piece on that as well soon.  AND, I'm linking up with Yeah Write again, finally.  I've missed hanging out there.  Join me!  Click on the button below to read some fascinating writers, or better yet, post your own piece.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Notion of Procreation

I'm going to cut right to the chase.  Introductions are for the weak at heart.  I've been thinking about having another baby.

Please note that I said "I" and not "we."  Fret not, should I decide to go three rounds I would definitely "do it" with my husband.  After all, he has a good job and a proven track record of making cute kids.  But, so far, I think I am alone in this contemplation process.  Zach is still wary of "risking three girls."  On the other hand, neither of us are ready for him to get the "big V" so the notion of procreation continues to taunt.  

During my periodic pondering (and yes, I tend to have waves of baby fever monthly.  Eww gross, stupid hormones), I have compiled a list of reasons related to why one might choose to add to their family. However, I can't quite nail down which of these reasons are good reasons for having another baby and which ones are not.  Maybe we should just get a puppy.    
  
Or, maybe you can help me sort it out.  Here, in no particular order, are the reasons I am weighing for having (or not having) another baby:

1. If I have another one, I'll probably just want another one  
In some respects this makes absolutely no sense and in other respects it still makes no sense, but it graces the list nonetheless.  I will try to explain.  I love watching my daughters interact and they have become very close already.  I expect this will result in equal amounts of affection and downright hatred over the years, but that's what siblings are for, right?  If I have another baby it will be at least 3 or 4 years younger than it's closest sister.  Clearly, if I have another one, I'll probably just want to have another one.

2. I'm only 32
Is it really time for my uterus to shrivel up and die already?!?!  Did I really completely sacrifice the integrity of my chest, stomach and thighs for two measly children?!?!  

3. What else do I have going on?
Yes, I keep plenty busy with the two beautiful children I have, our lovely home, responsibilities at church and the like.  But in just a few weeks, #1 goes back to school for 12 hours a week and in just a year both of them will be in school!  Do I really need all of that amazing time just to write wit to send your way?
  
4. I just got my maternity clothes back from a friend 
And some of them are kind of cute!  When you are pregnant you allow yourself to wear things you would never be caught dead in otherwise: horizontal stripes, shirts with attached collars, tops with words like "Loading..."  Plus, maternity clothes are soooo comfy (save those awful torture pants with the full panels.  As if you don't feel full enough with another person living inside of you.  I loathe a full panel, if you know what I mean.)  But, a chance to wear new used clothes...  

5. My babies are getting so big
They are growing up so fast.  I spend hours upon hours upon hours upon hours with them, and yet, some times it is still not enough.  I am better because of them.  I understand life and love and letting go all the more because God gave them to me.  What more might I learn?  

What are your reasons?  Do they sound as crazy as mine?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Warning: If I Really Like You I Might Throw a Ball at Your Head

Today's clear skies, bright sun and cool breeze have soothed my soul and inspired me to write for the first time in a long time.  This summer has kept my body busy and my mind bustling, but the constant humidity has kept active creativity at bay.  Like many of you, the weather can affect me deeply.  I seem to write best in the winter when I am a bit moody and brooding.  The warmer weather wears me out, leaving me little mental energy to compose.

The artist in me wants to let go and allow myself to roll on the waves of whimsy my muse unfurls.  Time and space matter not in the creation of true delight!  The perfectionist in me is embarrassed that I have yet to set a hard schedule against which I write no matter what.  All of the little lemming letters must bow to my heavy handed quill!

So, listen up Right Brain and you, too, Left Brain.   Let's pump the brakes and get a long, shall we?  We are going to work together and get back to it, ya hear?

All summer, I have considered entering the annual "Life Lessons Essay Contest" sponsored by Real Simple magazine.  I feel I have a compelling answer to this year's question, "What is the bravest thing you have ever done?" and I know that the exercise of drafting the piece would be therapeutic regardless of the end result.  (In other words, I am not banking on winning the $3,000.)

But, let me be honest.  I can't just blame my lack of alliteration on the rain.  I fear I have literally become scared to write.  Yikes.  I really like writing.  I want to be a writer.  And right now my inclination is to throw a big red playground ball at writing's head and run away giggling.  Writing is not the bravest thing I have ever done.

Thankfully, summers usher in maturity and like new boobs on a teenager I am busting back into the blogosphere.  I'm going to look writing in the eye and say, "Hey there, wanna dance?"  And then I'll probably form my lips into some dumb pouty expression, stop to take a selfie and set myself back a few months.  But, who cares?  I am in love with writing and I don't care who knows!  Writing will be the bravest thing I have ever done.

I'm not going to write my essay about that, though, so don't worry I won't submit the word "boobs" to Real Simple (at least I don't think I will).  I'll get back to you with the actual essay answer soon.  It's due in mid-September, after all.

In the meantime, I am curious, what is the bravest thing you have ever done?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

This World

Pinks and oranges highlighted the rooftop of the strip mall.  The sun was beginning to descend on this part of the first world.  I, too, was clothed in warm colors, a fun dress to show off to my friends.  Nearly late for our regular dinner date, I grabbed a few precious minutes to shop.  My flip flops flapped with purpose down the breezeway to Pier 1.

Three boys hovered by the entrance, one nearly a man, the others just kids.  They had a telling look of loitering about them.  I slowed to a stop and then braced for their approach, my shoes echoing a final clip clop.  Had I removed my dark glasses they would have read my haste, but I tried to stand open-minded.

"Would you like to donate to such and such club, a group serving underprivileged youth?"

"What are you accepting?" I asked with choice words.  Eyeing the canned food at my feet, I considered the market down the way.

"Cash."

Given no time to question, I felt forced to receive a chubby hand and a bright smile.

"Hi, my name's Curt.  Nice to meet you ma'am.  Are you able to help at this time?"

"Why no, no I am not.  I'm sorry.  Not right now.  I have no cash on me."

"There's an ATM over there."  He pointed.  I stared.

Flip, clop.   "No.  Thank you, young man."

A quick turn of the store and I quickly learned they did not have what I hoped to find.  But, I lingered to keep a watchful glance through stacks of wine racks and over seas of glasses and mugs.  The boys were still there and I didn't dare want to deal with them again.

I managed to slip by while another woman in the wings scavenged in her bag to feed them.  Fleeing the scene, I overheard the staff giving notes to his flock.  "Be sure to say underprivileged.  You get more attention that way.  Did you notice how the lady stopped when I did?"

Clip, flop.

No doubt there was a need, this great nation is full of them.  And, it is a necessity to care for our own.  We all have light to shine and time or talent or treasure.  But, right then I decided buying a goat for a girl across the third world feels a hell of a lot better than this.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Uninvited

With a warm chai latte at my lips, I scanned the bookstore and breathed in the comforting spice of leisure.  In my periphery, an eager cursor blinked at the ready on the screen.  My right ear took in the sounds of an awkward date: paper cups shuffling, superficial chuckling, recent dreams failing to conjure conversation.

And then in my left ear,

"How do you like your Chromebook?"  

I blinked.  I choked on foam.  "Oh, uh, it's great.  Perfect for what I do."  I sputtered.

Curiosity came closer and began to read my words.  My words.  I closed the laptop.

"It's also nice and sleek.  Very lightweight.  See?"  I waved my computer back and forth a bit.  Perhaps he would pick up on the subtle symbolism of my actions.  

"So, what do you do?  You know, that it's perfect for."  He stood firm, yet casual at my side.  He wore a white pageboy cap and checkered Vans.  He held a newspaper, a pencil and Rolling Stone.    

"Well, I like to write.  I blog a bit."

"That's cool.  I studied journalism."

"Ah."

"Yeah..."

"Do you do that now?"

I spoke the question with hesitation, but I was readily welcomed into his answer, a world I could not have imagined for myself.  No amount of precious alone time would have given me what he did.  

"Right now I am a dishwasher at my father's house.  He has terminal cancer.  My mom died when I was 14.  My sister is a doctor.  My dad is ashamed of me.  English is my second language.  I also speak an outlawed Iranian dialect.  Things were going well until 9/11.  It's hard for a hairy brown guy with a Persian name.  I went to college in Chicago.  I don't know what my goals are.  No one has asked me that before.  I guess I want to realize my full potential.  You go to church every Sunday?  You actually like living here?  Raising kids is a huge responsibility.  I want to be a father some day.  I am good at running a tight ship.  It's not like running a ship?  Maybe it is for the man?  I wish I had more friends.  True human connection is a lost art.  I've never had a girlfriend.  My family is ashamed of me.  It's like George Carlin once said..."

I didn't know how to ask him to leave.  So I asked him questions.  Eventually, I asked him to sit.  He nearly declined.  For one hour and fifteen minutes I shed skeptical and then sympathetic glances in the direction of my uninvited friend.


The bookstore closed.  I plodded to my car wrapped in the cool, evening air and exhaled any remaining frustration.  Under the glow of the streetlamp, I finally stood alone, my bag and my cardigan hanging by my side. I stared at the ground and tried to unwind from my time to relax. As I looked back up,
the story started to form. Easily overshadowed words began to flow through my mind and circle my soul.

I didn't get to write that night.

I got to write this.


Monday, May 20, 2013

Integrity Without Dignity

Matt's mobile number lit up my phone's display and I knew baby Angela must be here.  Like her older brother, she had arrived weeks ahead of schedule, but in my mind she was right on time.  Hearing her father's voice brim with joy and picturing her fresh life in her mother's arms gave me strength.

I had been "fake fired" the Friday before.  Informed that this was just not working out, I was encouraged to find a better fit somewhere else.  My boss gave me one week to decide how long I needed. 

My thoughts swung from slithering out to demanding to be kept on until my own baby was born.  I went from zero to six months every hour, every day, for a week.  It was emotional.  It was exhausting.  But, I finally decided.   

Readying myself for our meeting, I bear hugged my notepad, looked to the drop ceiling, and repeated the decision in my head, "My plan is to stay on two more months.  This will give me sufficient time to wrap up this season's big event and find a new job."

My cube was my corner, but it was time to enter the ring.  In her office, I was faced by my boss as well as her favorite employee, a fellow forty-something female incapable of finding a satisfying position of power in the for-profit world.  I could almost smell the cougar pee.  

I was going to speak first.   I needed to speak first.  I didn't get to speak first.  She didn't let me speak first.    

"Kristin, before you tell us what you have decided, we've been thinking..."

No, no, no.  My decision.  My decision.  This was my decision.  Let me make my own decision.

"We are going to consider this past week the first of your two weeks notice.  Next Friday will be your last day."

A powerful pink haze shocked my system.  I was going to have my first baby soon.  Maybe my baby would be a girl, too.  My mind clouded over.  I stared straight ahead.  I may have smiled.  I probably said something.  I always say something, but this time I am not sure.

"Why don't you head back to your desk and send us a list of your open tasks?  I'll have a copy of the severance terms on your chair on Monday." 

Decompressed and finished with the requested email, I hit "send" with vengeance.  Somehow I had been fake fired and then forcefully fired in seven short days.  And all I had was seven short days left.  I exited in a huff to seek solace in McDonald's and then my friends.  

But I returned to serve my sentence with all the integrity I could muster.  I signed my severance package and delivered it in silence. I stayed for eight full hours Monday through Friday.  I finished everything on my list and more.     

I packed my stuff.  I planned a trip to meet baby Angela and I physically moved on.  But nothing more.

I had nothing left.  I had let them take my dignity away.
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Friday, May 17, 2013

It's All Fun and Games Until You Forget Your Feminine Protection

My little life is often boring, but it is always busy.  When you are a mother to young children you never sit still.  You are always answering questions, refilling cups, wiping things, kissing things (hopefully not the same things), packing bags, unpacking bags, and forgetting what you really needed to do in the first place.

On a recent evening, my husband and I were playing a round of "let's barely graze lips as you come home so I can get the heck out of dodge."  Normally, this is an exciting whirlwind for me.  I run around fixing my hair and macaroni and cheese simultaneously, stepping into neglected heels and the dog's water bowl.  The light at the end of witching hour tunnel is often a fun time away with my friends.  I am happy to endure the pain for the resulting pleasure.

This time, however, I was off to my friend's grandmother's viewing.  And I was late.  Not that viewings have hard start times, but the last thing I wanted to do was show up at the end of the evening viewing.  More quick kisses and I was off, driving my husband's manual transmission like the wind, feeling carefree, despite the destination.

About halfway into the 30 minute drive I got a cramp.  Not in my leg from shifting, but in my lower abdomen, in my uterus to be exact.  Rewinding the movie in my mind, I replayed the scene where I had used the toilet with a toddler around my thigh.  Yup, I had forgotten.  Not my phone, or my wallet, but my tampon.  I had forgoten to put in a new one.       

Short of fishing for the string at 60 mph, I needed to make sure.  I tried a squeeze check.  Was it in there?  I couldn't tell.  I did a few more kegels and considered my options.  I definitely could not brave the viewing without protection.

I could ask my friend for a tampon when I arrived, but that certainly had to be a breech of etiquette.  Besides, my friend was super athletic and hadn't had her period in years, that jerk.  It also seemed unlikely that any of the other guests at a 90-year-old woman's viewing would be flush with feminine products.

So what did I do?  I called my mommy, of course.  My parents serendipitously lived minutes from the funeral home.  Mom told me she was indeed armed for such a battle thanks to my sister's visit and, of course, I should swing by.

As I busted through the familiar back door in search of my quick fix, Dad greeted me.  "They have bathrooms there, you know," he said.

I guess daddy still doesn't want to accept the fact that I get my period.  Apparently, even I am in denial sometimes.  And honestly, I don't blame him.  I am certainly not looking forward to when my girls get theirs.

Minutes later, mission accomplished and mishaps minimized, I made my way.

Being a mom (even when you are not with your kids) is an adventure.  Most of the time I am prepared.  Because, well, it's all fun and games until you forget your feminine protection.
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