19 March 2009

And Then, The World Changed Me

As I was laying on the couch yesterday, commiserating to myself about the searing pain in my shoulder and arm, my cell phone rang; it wasn't a number that I recognized, and irritation buzzed through me--I picked it up and asked the person if I could call them back from my home phone.

He obliged, and grudgingly, I dialed him back.

He introduced himself as a minister at a local church, and told me that he was calling because I had sent someone in to see him; he mentioned a name that I didn't know and I cut him off mid-sentence, "You must have mistaken me for someone else."

"No, ma'am, I have your business card. He said that you gave it to him."

And on a dime, my heart stopped.

I remembered him.

He had been standing near the entrance to a local grocery store and mall, holding a sign:

"Will work for food.
I have two kids."

I passed him on my way out of the store, my radio playing the song, "Coming Home", my sunroof open, the sun shining brightly for the first time in a long time. When I read the sign, I turned my car around, went back into the store, purchased a gift card, and took it to him.

His eyes watered as I placed it in his hand. "Hey, miss, I'll work for you. I'll do your lawn or help out with stuff."

I smiled back at him and told him to just pay it forward instead. He didn't understand what I meant--I explained to him that instead of him helping me, I wanted him to help someone else in need and suggested that he go to a local church and ask for people that might need assistance.

Then I asked him why he wasn't working--he told me he'd been laid off, and that he couldn't find work. I asked him about unemployment benefits and applying for assistance, and then he told me that, "He couldn't read real good and didn't understand the papers."

I hesitated, for longer than I should have, before I asked him to come with me to my car. I gave him my card, and wrote a note on it for him to take to the unemployment office, requesting that they give him an accommodation or call me.

Truth is, I didn't want him to have my name, or my number. I'm better at compassion than at closeness.

When I left, I wasn't sure what he'd do, for all I knew, it was just a story that he told, but I didn't give it much more thought other than choosing to believe what he'd written on that sign.

Turns out, he did go to a church.

Turns out, he did ask if he could help someone. He's going there this weekend, with his family, to clean up a large yard of a house-bound elderly woman who can't bear to sell the home that she's lived in her entire life.

Turns out, he was laid off, and did go to the unemployment office, where they did process his forms, and assisted him with finding the right person to help him apply for other aid.

And, turns out, that for as uneducated as he believes that he is, he read me.

"Also," the minister continued, "He wanted you to know that he gave me your card, that he didn't keep it. He could tell that you didn't want to give it to him, but that you did anyway."

Shame crept up my neck, into my face, and I could barely speak.

"I'm sorry, it's just that-", this time, the minister cut me off. "You did a good, good thing. That's what matters."

I thanked him and hung up the phone, looking out my window at the birds and the blue sky.

I remembered after I'd given him that gift card and driven away, I had thought to myself, "I'm going to change the world."

But it turns out, the world changed me.

10 March 2009

Wishing For Magic

"Hey, what happened to my magic?" Asked Little A this morning as we were taking Big A into school.

"It's raining--it takes a little bit for your magic to warm up when it's raining outside," I told her as I switched the song via my steering wheel controls.

"Oh! Yep. There it is," she squealed with delight.

Big A looked over at me and smiled, "I remember when I thought I was magic. Like when I thought I could open doors and windows and turn the radio station by pointing my fingers."

We both grinned at each other, each of us probably recalling some of those memories.

After about a minute, Big A quietly said, "Hey, mom."

"Uh, huh," I said, a little wary because of the tone in her voice.

"It's just that sometimes, I wish I still believed in that. You know, that I was magic. Like that the Tooth Fairy really was the one leaving pixie dust in my room and stuff."

"Right," I nodded wistfully, "Me too."

"Hey! What's wrong with my magic," Little A shouted from the back. "Why isn't it listening to me?"

Big A and I laughed as I switched the song, each of us watching the wipers moving across the windshield.

"Hey, Big A," I said as we pulled up to the school, "Magic is everywhere, it's just that sometimes it changes and you have to find it again. You still have it, it's just that it works different now."

Her perfect mouth turned slightly upward as she tipped her head, "Yeah. I guess so."

She turned and headed out into the rain as I sat in my car watching her disappearing shape; my mind frantically racing down the halls of my memory, searching for the day that she quit believing, wishing for the magic to bring it back.

09 March 2009

Jackass: The Update

It was 5:10 a.m. when I laid down in bed.

Big A was supposed to be getting up at 6:00, and then waking me up at 7:00. We had arrived at this decision when she'd awoken at 4:15 and found me still painting.

Except I woke up at 7:32. I ran to Big A's room, where she was blissfully unaware that she'd reversed her a.m. and p.m. settings on her clock. The rush out the door was ugly, but I did remember to grab the paint can.

When I walked through the door of the hardware store, the paint kid, whom from here on out I shall call Bill/Ted, was working.

"Oh, dude! I told my manager you'd totally be back!"

"Did you?"

"Yeah, turns out that you still have to do the primer-thing, but then it will only take one coat of paint after that. I totally got it wrong."

"Right. It was more like five coats--"

I was interrupted by the sound of him "shaaa-ing" and smacking his head.

"Yeah--I was like, oh, man, I totally told this lady that it would only take one coat and she was all, are you sure because I've never heard that before and usually dark paint needs primer and I was like, yeah, it's guaranteed and stuff and she was like, so I can get my money back if it takes more than one coat and I--"

"Please quit talking."

I'm not sure who was more surprised that those words came out of my mouth, him or me. I'm going to go ahead and blame it on the time change on Saturday, not sleeping on Sunday and the exposure to paint fumes.

We stood there for an awkward second.

"Is your manager here?"

"Yeah. I'll go get him." He started walking away when he turned to me and said, "But he totally said he is not refunding your money."

"I'm totally sure he did." To which Bill/Ted gave me a thumbs up; apparently mistaking my sarcasm for an act of unity.

I tilted my head to the side to get a view of the two talking. Bill/Ted made what appeared to be a circular motion with his pointer finger by his head, which, to the manager's credit, he did have the wherewithal to slap away.

I waved and smiled at the manager, as though to signal, "Yes, I am probably as crazy as he is saying, and you will be coming to talk to me and give me my money back."

The manager smoothed back his hair and began walking towards me, Bill/Ted in tow. He had probably been quite the lady killer back in the day, and had the potential to still pull off some excellent moves while masqueraded by the smoky atmosphere and dim lighting in a bar. However, it was Monday, and the lights were florescent, and I was freaking out that maybe I had drool on my face from my solid two hours of sleep and that it would be hard to taken seriously were that indeed the case.

"Hello there."


"So, I hear we had a little mix-up."

"If by mix-up you mean that I was told that this was guaranteed to cover in one coat and I bought it and then stayed up until 5:00 this morning applying coat after coat, then yes, I guess you could say that 'we' had a mix-up".

"Right. Well, I think Bill/Ted told you what happened--that paint is actually guaranteed to cover in one coat without first using a primer."

I just stared at him.

"I guess what I could do is go ahead and refund you the $12 extra that you paid for that gallon."

As soon as he said those words, the telepathic conversation between he and I went like this:

HE: I should not have said that.

I: No, you should not have.

HE: You are going to kill me.

I: Your sense of perception is far greater than I would have given you credit for.

HE: Yeah, I've got six ex-wives, so I have a real good sense of imminent physical danger.

I: Your vocabulary is also much better than I'd have expected.

HE: Wife Three. Professor. Wanted to marry a bad boy, but then couldn't handle it.

I: Right. Okay, where were we? Oh, yes, I am going to kill you.

HE: Will you make it fast and merciful?

I: As fast as my painting project last night.

Then, out loud, he proclaimed that he had an idea. Bill/Ted glanced up at him, eager to hear what he had to say. I could pretty much envision the manager telling Bill/Ted that he wasn't about to refund some lady for a gallon of paint, etc, and I think that is what fueled Bill/Ted's great interest in the upcoming proclamation of his manger.

"I know you probably don't want to think about this, but you're probably going to need to paint some other things, right?"

I nodded my head.

"How about a gift certificate for two cans of paint and some brushes?"

At that moment, what I really wanted was Bill/Ted to come to my home and apply five coats of paint to a wall without sleep, but the thought of all of Big A's Cheetos coming up missing stopped that little fantasy.

"Throw in a can of primer, and you have a deal," I said.

"Done." He reached his hand out and shook my navy-blue coated palms.

Then he turned to get the certificate and gave Bill/Ted a wink, as though to say, "And that is how you handle the ladies." Bill/Ted nodded his head.

Truth is, by that time, I'd calmed down and the fumes had worn off and I reminded myself that I had a house with walls to paint, and that within those walls live people that I love more than life itself.

I've got it good.

And I've also got it in any available color that I desire, with primer and brushes to boot.

Hey, Jackass

Yes, you.

You lying little punk who sold me the navy blue paint that was an extra $12, insisting that it would cover in ONE COAT and that it was worth it because I wouldn't need a primer.

"Totally", to quote you as I raised my eyebrow in disbelief.

Guess what?

Yeah, it's three o'clock in the f-ing morning and I have to put on YET ONE MORE coat, which would make it coat FOUR--which would make it three over the "guaranteed" one coat that you sold me.

I hope beyond hope that your ass is working in the morning after I drop off Big A at school.

Because you WILL be looking up that "guarantee" and you will be refunding me my friggin' money, and if there happens to be another chickie-poo in there with a cut-off t-shirt in the dead of winter that causes your eyes and mind to wander while I'm trying to talk to you, I swear that I will smack you with the son-of-a-bitching paint can that I will have in my hand.

And that is a "guarantee".

06 March 2009


Time, you thief.

To have held this baby in my arms, and then, in just the blink of an eye, to be looking at this girl--this young lady--to think that I once carried her within me.

How could you?

Know you nothing of ache within your chest that yearns to hold her tight, just one more time--to sleep just one more night with her snuggled up against you?

Have you not awoken one morning to find the last of her baby fat gone and wept all day?

Do you know the feeling of stumbling down a school hallway, unable to breathe or see, having just waved goodbye to your daughter on her first day of school?

What is it that you think you would sacrifice of yourself to keep her free from knowledge of the real world and the pain within it, if just for one more day?

Are not the lines upon my face and creaks within my bones enough for you?

Must you take her as well? Must you continue to take each day and give back to me one less moment of her childhood?

Have you no pity?

To give us these moments, these smiles, this pride, and so quietly ebb up on us, and before we know it, you've cleared out our most prized possessions with not so much as a warning, leaving us with rooms strewn with jeans and lip gloss and softball gloves; rooms that just yesterday were filled with cribs and baby blankets.

Can I not keep you out? If even for a day?

This is how it should be, I know.

This is what every parent would hope and pray for: a daughter, healthy and beautiful, growing into such an amazing being.

I know this, of course.

But it does nothing to ease the young woman within me, standing with a baby in her arms, trying to keep out the thief at the door.


Posted by Picasa