Saturday, October 27, 2012

One of Those Days, and Then Some...

(Originally posted as a note on Facebook August 2011) Thank you, dear spoonful of chocolate-peanut butter ice cream, for being my friend in need right now, my comforter, my confidante. Even though you and I both know you are as fair-weather as they come--with your come-hither, frosty cocoa smoothness and teasing ribbons of peanut delight that will tomorrow be only a memory on my tongue, but a bold reminder of your deceitfulness on my scale--I will selfishly let you soothe me for now, as I attempt to erase those parts of today that were less than perfect. Which was pretty much every part of today. Dare I recap? I had a wonderful weekend full of reunions with wonderful people from my pretty wonderful past. But, of course, with all the activity and fun comes a lack of normal sleeping patterns, which in turn makes me very cranky. Add to that the worrying over my lovely children--whose behavior is age-appropriate only on Long Island and pretty appalling in the rest of the country, except for maybe certain sandy parts of New Jersey--and you basically have a recipe for disaster. Or at the very least, a severe case of Brainfartitis. Brainfartitis is usually accompanied by the blues, and sometimes exacerbated by them as well. And so it was this morning, when I needed fifteen minutes upon my arrival in the parking lot of work to sit in my car and sob my eyes out into a tissue that has probably been used several times before for nasal stalagtite removal. Once I gathered myself together, I walked in the building, sat at my desk, and proceeded, as always, to turn on my computer and pretend I know exactly what I'm doing. During my lunch hour, I drove through McDonalds to get a salad. Opening my wallet, I realized I had left my debit card in the small purse I used for my reunion Saturday night. Thankfully, I had some cash on me and used that. After I left work, I went to an appointment with my chiropractor, who proceeded to manipulate my stomach so enthusiastically, Brainfartitis was--for the moment--replaced by Assfartitis. It was not pretty. Thankfully, he's either deaf or just a darn good sport. So when we finished, I wrote him my last check in the checkbook, and went on my way to get gas. For the car, that is. I pull into the self-serve gas station and open my wallet to get out my debit card. Which, of course, was still not there, and was still in my little purse that I took to my reunion. Scrounging up ten dollars, I paid for my gas and took off to go to the food store to get cold cuts and something for dinner that now needed to cook at the speed of light, being that it was almost 7pm. Going into the supermarket "just to get something for dinner" is almost never a reality in my life. There will always be at least five or six other things I will see that I need. And I know this about myself, I really do. But I still take a hand basket instead of a cart, because I am and will continue to be in severe denial about my food shopping habits. I put in my order for cold cuts at the self-serve kiosk, and move along to stuff my basket with a box of gluten-free crackers, a can of cannellini beans, two boxes of pasta, two packages of chicken sausage, and two loaves of Italian bread. Passing through the refrigerated items, I remembered my son exclaimed there were no drinks this morning, so I picked up two containers of orange-strawberry-banana juice and attempted to add them to my basket. NOT. Stuffing one under each arm, I hear my deli order number being called, and I make my way back to retrieve my cold cuts. Most people, I find, are generally polite, even here NY. And so it was when I squeezed my way through the ordering line at the deli counter to pick up my order. One gentleman moved up a few inches, another moved his cart back a few so I could get through. However, the real evidence of their cordial-ness was most definitely their ability to bite their lips and turn their heads away at the sight of the woman with two containers of juice under her armpits trying to stuff 3lbs of meat and 1lb of cole slaw into a handbasket that had met its full capacity two loaves of bread and a package of sausage earlier. If you've never seen a container of juice tossed by one's armpit onto a conveyor belt, you haven't lived life. Times that by two and toss in a handbasket full of nosh, and you have the Stop n Shop Olympics gold medal winner in the form of Lisa Hyman. The young checkout girl announces that I owe $47.62, and I pull out my wallet to take out my debit card. That is still not there, and still in the little purse I took to my reunion. Panicking, I suddenly realize I have my checkbook and ask the girl if I can write out a check. "Of course," she says...and as I open my checkbook, the vision of me ripping the very last check out and handing it to the chiropractor begins to manifest itself right before my eyes. You know, the thing about Brainfartitis is that usually, you are the only one who knows you have it. Most times, the symptoms of Brainfartitis can be easily covered up with an artful manipulation of words, or just plain ignorance. However, this was not the case at the express checkout today. Not only did the checkout girl bear witness to my severe bubble-headedness, but so did the bagging boy and the five customers standing in line behind me. I think I heard an actual jaw hit the ground two people back. Throwing excuses left and right at the young girl who honestly could not care less, I finally asked her "What do I do?" She called over a manager who very kindly told me "it happens" and that they would hold onto the bags until I came back with some sort of acceptable payment method. Their only stipulation was that I do, indeed, come back. I imagine the last few people who "it happened" to might have been too embarrassed by their own sufferings with Brainfartitis to even show their faces again at the local Stop n Shop, which truly holds "Cheers" status within the small town it resides in. I did eventually run home, grab my debit card, and go back to retrieve my groceries. Later on, I breathed in a sigh of relief as I walked into the house and ate some tuna fish my husband made (it was too late to make chicken sausage at that point). Later, after he went to his Wing Chun class, I sat down with my computer, a cup of tea, and some chocolate-peanut butter ice cream he had bought me the previous night. Just as I was beginning to veg out, there was a knock at the door. I opened it up to find my sons two friends there. As I invited them in, they good-naturedly joked around with me, teasing me about my son. At that moment, my Brainfartitis kicked in full gear, and I did not notice until I saw his tail out the door that my dog had run out of the house to "visit" with the next door neighbor's dog, who was strolling by with his owner. Let me state for the record that my dog loves people. LOVES them. Other dogs, not so much. And if that dog is bite-size, like my neighbor's dog, things could get ugly. Which is precisely why I ran out of the the house screaming my fool head off like a lunatic. There have been many times in the last 14 years that I have wondered if my neighbors thought I was strange in some, there was not doubt in my mind. Thankfully, there were no injuries, not even a scrape. it turns out I'm a heck of a lot scarier than my dog, and I am certainly much louder. However, I didn't stop shaking for two hours much for relaxing. Is there a cure for Brainfartitis? We may never know. But the best treatment for it is definitely a good sense of humor and a few deep breaths. Works for me...most of the time.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

About a Boy

The young man squirmed in his folding chair--slouching, turning, sitting up straight, until he finally turned the chair around and straddled it, his tattooed arms folded on top of the back rest. His leg bounced up and down fervently, moving so quickly that his entire body seemed to be vibrating. His dirty-blondish hair was covered in a baseball cap with a rim that at first faced forward, then sideways--first to the left and then to the right--until it found its final resting place facing down his back. As I observed his somewhat uncomfortable behavior, I wondered if his demeanor was just as awkward. It was my first night at a church meeting intended for people with “broken” lives due to addictions, disorders, family issues, and any other of a hundred reasons we as people fall apart. I was attending at the request of my husband, who had been going to these meetings for just over a year to deal with some of his own demons.

I listened intently as various members of the group shared their experiences; some painful, others triumphant. And then the young man spoke up. I can not remember exactly what he revealed that night; I only remember that the young man who I first judged as being a hyper, vague, “tough guy” was nothing more than a kind, vulnerable, struggling boy whose main concern seemed to be not hurting his parents any more than he felt that he already had in his life. My heart broke for him and his struggles. My husband introduced us after the meeting. His name was Tim.

Over the course of the next few months, Tim would attend our weekly meetings with his parents—two lovely people whose devotion to their beloved son’s healing was nothing short of remarkable. Although Tim seemed to be in a state of uneasiness throughout each meeting, he would become amiable and funny once it came to a close. His charm and humor were endearing, and when my daughter, Kayla, started to attend the meetings with us, I knew that Tim would be appealing to her as well.

Kayla and Tim hit it off almost immediately. After one of the meetings about two months ago, Tim ran up to me with the enthusiasm of a five year old, his blue eyes lit up like a child on Christmas morning: “Can me and Kayla go bowling??” he asked. They both giggled like kindergartners, a far cry from the 23 year old boy and 19 year old girl that they were. “Of course!” I told him. “And how nice of you to ask my permission!” I said, almost sarcastically. Tim said thank you, my daughter said good-bye, and off they went.

At home a little while later, my husband and I heard a gleeful ruckus coming in the front door. Tim and Kayla bounded in, laughing about a joke only they were in on, and looking for something to eat. My husband was very comfortable around Tim, and didn’t care to change his stunning outfit of sweat shorts, black socks, flip-flops, and a very hairy chest. Upon viewing this lovely sight, Tim snorted, “HEY, SEXY!!!”, and we all broke out in a fit of laughter. Before long, Tim and my husband were having a “moonwalking” contest in the kitchen. Gas was passed and being blamed on the dog. In all of this craziness, I thought to myself, “I have never seen Tim in this light-hearted before. What a far cry from the person I thought he was the first time we met. He’s truly one of a kind.” The kids decided to watch a movie, and my husband and I turned in. I felt happy and at peace that my daughter found such a wonderful friend. I felt hopeful for Tim and encouraged by his journey to find God’s true peace in his life.

Sadly, Tim passed away in his sleep last weekend. As a person of faith, I struggle with the question of “why” and the feeling of “it’s not fair”, and every other thought that goes through one’s head when a young person dies. It just seems so very wrong. The only comfort I can find now is the knowledge that he was truly seeking God every week at church and at the meetings; he was letting go of the demons that took control of him for so long. He was in a place of preparedness to meet our dear Lord…I’m not sure if he was in that place a year ago, or if he would be in that place a year from now. But for today, in the here and now, he was.

Tim lived life on the edge. He was extreme in everything he did: some things were fun, such as surfing and snowboarding; other things could almost border on destructive. But the one thing he did to excess—the ultimate extreme—was love his family. And my soul aches for them today, as the object of their love can no longer be physically seen and touched, but only felt inside of their broken hearts.

As I looked at the grave site—the grey metal coffin, covered in surfer and skater stickers from top to bottom, the rainbow of flowers strewn all around it, and the sun gleaming on it so brightly that it hurt my eyes—I had a vision. I saw Tim looking down at all of us with a huge smile on his face, saying, “That is the most AWESOME coffin!!”

…And he was the most awesome person.

God bless you, Tim. You will be sorely missed.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Nurture, Nature, and Hoping for the Best

We all know that children are like gardens; each child is as different as a lilac bush and a tomato plant, but they all require certain care in order to grow to their full, unique potential. And although in most cases, we will reap what we sow, we also have to figure in those months of drought, or those seasons of locusts that threaten to destroy what we've carefully tendered for so long. In the case of teens however, the season of drought could be a dehydration episode from a week-long losing streak at beer pong; and we all know the "locusts," those friends/boyfriends/girlfriends that seem to want nothing more than to take our precious flowers and eat them alive. But somehow, we manage to get through it. Finally, it's time for the harvest; the bountiful cornucopia of knowledge, maturity, confidence, and independence.

Sunday, we dropped my daughter Kayla off at college. Well, "drop off" seems a bit minimal. It was more like we moved her and every ounce of her belongings in, and all that was missing was the chihuaha. My Elle Woods wanna-be seemed as though she was completely taking over her double-dorm room (oh, excuse's not a "dorm", it's a "student residential hall" or some nonsense like that), and I feared that Kayla's very sweet roommate and her family might think my daughter a tad high-maintenance. I personally never viewed her as such until that day. Sadly, most of what she brought were items that both her stepmother and I felt that we could not live without...I could pretty much guarantee that we could have made it up in one car instead of two if we had just stayed out of the packing end of it. But alas, there is a bridge and a toll between Kayla and the rest of us, and I guess we just wanted to make sure we could avoid paying $5.00 each way just to bring her a lint roller or some triple antibiotic. She's pretty much all set.

So here I am, wondering where on earth the last eighteen years of my life went, and reflecting on whether or not I nurtured her as well as I could have, should have. The subject is really moot. I think we all do the best we can at a job that has no formal training and doesn't even come with a manual. We wing it, and we hope for the best. And I might say that right now, I'm happy with the way Kayla blossomed. I look forward to seeing her in full bloom someday, and she has many wonderful seasons ahead of her.

Now, onto my real garden of soil, weeds, and hopeful plantings. The strawberries are coming along as expected...I did get four or five tiny, sweet fruits back in June, and I think that's appropriate for a first planting. I hear that next year, they'll be taking over my yard. The grapes did not fare so well; as a matter of fact, they were looking rather anemic this morning. I decided to feed them with some makeshift plant food: egg shells, lettuce bottoms, lemon skins. I have no idea what I'm doing, but it sort of resembled compost in its early stages. I'm hoping the vine thinks it's yummy.

But my fig tree...aahhh, this is the trophy of my yard. I don't know why I plant
ed it...something to do with my late grandfather growing figs most of his life, and no one carrying on the tradition (the same goes for the grapes...I planted them with the hopes of resurrecting his tradition of growing his own fruit and making his own wine. Why this skill was never passed down through the generations is beyond me). I was never particularly close to my grandfather--he passed away at the ripe, old age of 92 when I was a teen--but I'm really starting to appreciate how he lived his life. He grew his own food, and he consumed it. Of course, he also started each day with a supposed concoction of whiskey, raw eggs, and sugar. But hey, he was still standing on his own two feet until he died...

I digress. Back to my figs.

As I've mentioned, I wasn't sure if I'd like figs, but after reading about their nutritional value, I decided I was going to have to eat them whether they tasted
good or not (for example, figs contain the highest overall mineral content of all fruits: a quarter-cup serving provides 244 mg of potassium, 53 mg of calcium, and 1.2 mg of iron). Although the newly-planted tree only produced about 15 fruits this year, next year we should be plenty prepared to can, preserve, and just plain eat these tasty, nutritious little dumplings. I'm feeling very hopeful, and I feel like I really accomplished something this summer. Lots of things, actually.

Now, if only I could figure out the task of pruning and protecting this tree (which I have to do with items such as burlap, I hear). But that's another story f
or another day.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Fresh, New Start

Over the last few months, my appearances on Blogger have been short, not always sweet, and very sporadic, to say the least. When I started dabbling in the Wonderful World of Blogging, this was not my intention. I vowed to create and post an article at least once a week; looking back, I did briefly accomplish this. However, general interest topics were becoming more and more elusive to me, and all this writing about myself started to seem a wee bit self-centered and--dare I say it?--narcissistic (those of you who know me, know this is one of my favorite words to use to describe many people here in my neck of the woods). It was all about me, me, me...or rather, my problems, my problems, my problems.

At one point in the not-so-distant-past, I was feeling very depressed and did not want to bring my relatively upbeat blog down into the abyss of I simply chose not to write at all. I "closed up" my blog with a farewell that included expressing my hopes to rekindle some of my artistic ability and turn it into (hopefully) something that might lead me towards a real career doing what I love. That never materialized, and the people closest to me noticed. Some of their attitudes may have even bordered on pity. It was quite embarrassing.

In time, however, I realized that the only way for me to get back on track with my life was to make some drastic changes to it...some of which were not at all easy or comfortable. But the most vital alteration to my day-to-day existence was my decision to quit my job after three fairly secure, routine years. The position had become one of stress and frustration, all of which I was taking out on my family and even my friends. Something had to give, and it had to give at once.

My relationships with the people surrounding me are precious; I have taken the time to feed these relationships, care for and nurture them, and I have been rewarded with a bounty of love and trust as a result. I took the time to sow this love and trust carefully and abundantly; unfortunately, I found that I also had to take time to do some pruning. I had to weed out anyone or anything that I felt was harmful and destructive, and would cause strangulation of what I considered to be strong roots.

What I reaped has been priceless. The quantity of relationships I once had may not be there, but the quality of the ones that have remained will carry me into my old age. With my resignation, the concern over my relationships was taken care of. One down, a few more to go.

As for my art, I have something in the works that should be ready for copyright in the next two weeks. I believe in my project with my whole heart, and have taken steps to market it internationally via the world-wide web.

Two down. Are there more?

Yes, there is this one thing. I still love to write. I still love to blog. So with the advent of my return, I have decided to try to take the blog in a different sort of direction (for me, anyway). Instead of whining about family relationships, delving into world issues, and being overly-concerned with my financial future, I have decided to journal my attempt at getting back to the root (pun intended) of what I really love: nature, growth, and simplicity. I have decided, along with my husband, that the time has come to make all those "dreams" I have written about a reality. Just because I can't have my country home right this minute, doesn't mean I can't start to learn how to do everything I want to once I do live there. Although there are many things we long to acheive, one of them is trying to learn how to self-sustain. And there ain't no reason on earth I can't start practicing right here on Long Island!

This spring, I planted several Italian Essentials, as I like to call them: tomatoes, basil, parsley, oregano, grapes, and a fig tree. This is my start. This is my pre-school, or perhaps even my kinder-"garden." By the time we own that country home, we'll practically have master's degrees on everything important, like how to store vegetables and fruits for winter use, to that most crucial of subjects, Wine-Making 101 (admittedly, I doubt I can self-sustain without a nice red). Today I even started to make my own compost and joined an international home-gardening community web site.

Dang it, this time I'm determined to just do it. And I really think I will.

Many thanks to my inspiration for this post, Simply Me. Her PA garden (not to mention her pure, easy, country hospitality) makes me long to be a better person, let alone a better gardener. I want to eat and share home-grown salad every day, not just on weekend getaways!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Lesson...I Think

I killed two birds yesterday. Not one, but two.

Of course, it was an accident. I didn’t intend to render my feathered friends lifeless in one split second, but it happened.

I was driving along a side street with four of my individuals. I was in my company van, which is actually a 2008 Honda Odyssey, and not an immense 15-seater which one would usually expect me to be driving, considering the company I work for. We had just finished shopping for an elderly man, who is housebound, and were on our way to drop his groceries off to him.

As I coasted slowly down a side street, I noticed two birds entwined in what I assumed was a mating dance of some sort: flittering up and down, twirling around, and generally lacking any concern for the rest of the goings-on in the world, namely a van driving down the street.

And then it happened.

As I opened my mouth and spoke “Look at those silly birds!” they careened uncaringly down towards my wheel well. I heard a slight thump, and then took a large gasp of air.

“Oh no, I think I hit the birds!” I cried. As I peered through the rear view mirror, I saw it: a small wing sticking up from a brown lump in the middle of the street, almost as if it was waving “bye-bye.” My individuals were partially worried, but willing to keep on driving. I, however, had to turn the van around to view the horror of what I had done.

As I pulled up, I did not see two bodies, but one conglomeration of feathers and guts. Relieved that one bird possibly escaped this torturous demise, I rolled down my window to grieve over the one with less luck.

And then I saw them…legs. Not two, but four. I had killed these birds so heinously that their little bodies actually blended together as if they were one. Which quite possibly was their original intent, but I assume in a much more rewarding and satisfying way.

I’m still trying to figure out the lesson here, or the irony. I’m not having much luck, though.

Sort of like the time I decapitated a squirrel on Halloween, just as little ghouls, goblins and princesses were starting to appear in the streets in their quest for treats. I ran it over after it played “red light, green light”, going back and forth in the street, when it finally ignored the command of “red light” and decided to keep on going anyway, heading for my car on the driver’s side. I slammed on my brakes and noticed that it didn’t come out on the passenger side as I had hoped. I turned to look out my window, wondering if anyone had actually witnessed this murder firsthand. I saw two little old ladies in their lawn chairs at the house next to me, their mouths hanging open with painful looks on their faces.

“…He didn’t make it, did he?” I asked them.

They shook their heads “no.”

“…I ran him over, didn’t I?”

They nodded their heads “yes.”

I got out of my car and nearly passed out from the carnage. I’m not even sure what happened to the top of his head…all that was left was his bottom jaw and the rest of his body.

The ladies kindly gave me a garbage bag and a roll of paper towels. I picked up the poor little varmint and put him in the bag (and he was a hefty little critter, too…I’m betting he weighed at least five pounds). I know I could have left him there, but I figured it would be a really bad “trick” for the kids to see as they crossed the street from one house to the next. I cried as I threw him out in my garbage pail on the side of my house, and whispered a small “I’m sorry” to the universe.

Again…what was the lesson here?

I know they were only animals, but to take a life is ghastly even so. Yes, I am the person who will try to scoot the bee out of the house before I spray it with hair spray (hey, it works, and it’s not as poisonous as Raid). I am the person who cried uncontrollably when I saw the rat dying from the food he ate in the trap the county had placed in my yard. I have a definite fondness for all of God’s creatures, sometimes to a fault.

Perhaps these things happen to remind us of how precious life is, and how quickly it can be over. Maybe God allows his lesser creatures to be sacrificed so that we can be awakened to the relationships that are dying around us, the relationships that could end in a split second and won’t ever be healed because of our pride, our stubbornness.

I know I have a few of those relationships in my life. I’m sure we all do. I’ve been reflecting on how to mend them, how to restore them to their original beauty. But just as the critters made bad choices that hurt them, this is how it is in life as well. The birds’ lifeless little bodies will never be separated and the squirrel will never get his head back. So we have to accept it, mourn it, and bury it (…or at least throw it in the garbage). And then we move on.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

On Reflections and Good-byes

“Do we have a plan?” I turn my body around from my comfortable right-side fetus position and roll to face my husbands inquiring eyes.

Sleepily, I ask him, “What do you mean, ‘a plan’?”

“A PLAN,” he stresses. “You know, like, for our future. We spend all this time ‘dreaming’ about what we want and what we’ll have, but what do we actually do that will lead us to having it?”

He did have a point. I have spent so much time writing of my dreams and desires on this blog, but have yet to put into place any sort of plan of action to help make them a reality. In my half-awake fog, I asked him if we could talk about it in the morning. He looked concerned, his eyebrows lying arch-less, straight across his forehead showing an emotion that was not quite describable at that moment. He swung to lay on his back and stared at the ceiling. I closed my eyes and fell asleep within seconds, not giving much more thought to his query.

On Sunday mornings, I enjoy watching Joel Osteen, a “smiling” pastor who some find more inspirational than gospel-driven, but someone who makes me feel good about the future nonetheless. In my area, he is on several different television stations consecutively from 7:30 a.m. until 9 a.m., of which I usually catch the 8:30 showing on USA network. I turned the T.V. on in my usual fashion, stirring my husband enough to make him sleepily give me the remote, and lowering the volume so he can quickly go back to sleep.

This morning, however, he did not go back to sleep. As a matter of fact, he sprung up in bed and said, “Make it louder!” After Joel’s usual introduction that included a mild joke, he immediately went into his sermon…which just happened to be all about “having a plan for your future.” He described such things as identifying what are merely fantasies and what are actual God-given dreams; he urged his listeners to write down their plan of action for one year, five years, ten years, even twenty; and he gave examples of how sometimes sacrifices have to be made in order to make the changes necessary to move on in life and to achieve your goals. This is the point in the message where his words started to hit home for me.

What some of you might not be aware of is that I was given a gift from God. Well, over the years, I have been given many gifts from God—my children, my husband, my friends. But what I’m talking about is the gift he gave me that was ingrained in me from the moment of my conception. I was blessed with the ability to draw and create, the gift of artistic ability and imagination. I would be remiss if I did not mention how I’ve spent years pushing this gift aside—it would even become a burden sometimes—and how I took for granted the complements and praise that I would receive for my creations.

About two years ago, I found a folder full of drawings and paint designs from a brief stint I held at a local college twenty years prior, majoring in art. I pulled out sheets of paper with characters that I had created, some that almost frightened me at their irony (the tiny island with one lone palm tree in the middle of the ocean with several cartoon sea creatures conversing around it; and the various vegetables with faces, arms, legs, and even names that I had created around the same time. For those of you who are lost right now, I’m speculating that I could have had a hand in creating “Spongebob Squarepants” and “Veggie Tales” had I believed in my own artistic ability when I was younger). I began to realize that by ignoring my gift, I was quite possibly throwing away the opportunity to have a very successful future.

And so, at this time, I have decided to make the very large sacrifice of discontinuing my blog until further notice. This decision makes me extremely sad, as I feel that it has been an outlet and a source of inspiration to me for the last year and a half. Reading all of your blogs and “blogging” with my “blogging buddies” has been a gift and something I looked forward to on an almost daily basis. I have learned so many different things from all of you, each one heartfelt and cherished. Although we’ve never met, I feel as if we’ve been friends for years. And it saddens me more than you know to have to give up this wonderful community of gifted writers and dear human beings for now.

I have decided to make the attempt to push myself a little farther, to force myself to grow. I can not sit back anymore and believe for a day when my dreams come true; I have to be pro-active and make them happen myself. I will consciously take the time I’ve spent on my computer, and turn it into something that I hope will become very productive for my family, and most of all, for myself. I know I have success up my sleeve. It’s time for me to pull it out.

So farewell—for now—my dear friends. I have come to adore each and every one of you, and I will be sure to check in with all of you every now and then. You have all inspired me, and I am lucky to know such wonderful people. God bless you.

(Please feel free to drop me a line now and then at I would love to hear from you!)

Friday, January 18, 2008


I used to think I was a woman of little patience. As a matter of fact, “God give me patience” was a daily, if not hourly, mantra of mine ever since I gave birth to my two children (and acquired two new ones from a remarriage).

As life moved on, and those stressful incidents still occurred (does any parent get through the child-rearing years unscathed?), I became frustrated that all I seemed to do was ask for patience, and all that seemed to happen was that I encountered more episodes in my life that required, well, patience.

And then my “Eureka!” moment happened. How would I know that God was giving me patience unless it was tested? What I should have been praying for was, “God, please just let me sail through life without a worry.” NOT.

Let’s fast forward to my current position as a lead activities coach, working with developmentally disabled young adults. If ever there was a job where one’s patience would be tested, this is it. Although most of my individuals are adept at performing their duties and interacting appropriately in the community, there are occasions where one of them will not handle a situation in the best manner (for instance, this week on my birthday, one of my individuals pulled my hair and slapped me because I honked the horn of our minivan to prevent someone from backing into us). But in actuality, they are not the problem. It’s the general public that I need patience with.

Today, while I was food shopping for a senior citizen with four of my individuals, I encountered impatience at its finest—and it wasn’t expressed by me. After our last item was scanned at the register, I told the young cashier that we needed five packs of cigarettes—Kent 100’s, to be exact. The young man got his manager over, and she unlocked the cigarette cabinet. She perused up and down, across and diagonal, to locate even a single pack of our desired brand—but no luck. She explained that all they had were regular Kents (since I’ve never been a smoker, I had to ask her what the difference was). I inquired as to whether or not they could be returned if he was not happy with them. She told me she would check, and she’d be right back.

As I turned around, I noticed a woman had unloaded her groceries behind me. She looked at me in a somewhat annoyed manner, and I graciously told her that I was sorry for any delay I was causing. The cashier looked at me and said, “Your total is $41.50.” I politely told him that I was waiting to see if I could purchase five packs of cigarettes, and I couldn’t pay yet. With this, the woman behind me scowled, “Can’t you just pay for what’s there, and pay for the cigarettes later?”

(I felt my heart start racing, and my blood start pumping. She didn’t really just say that, did she?)

I politely told her that it was impossible for me to do that, being that the senior citizen we were shopping for only gave us one check. She scoffed at me and said, “Well, he shouldn’t be smoking, anyway!! Why don’t you just get him another brand??”

(Okay, did she just say that, too? My blood starts pounding in my ears to the beat of my now-dashing heart.)

I finally looked her in the eye and said, “Ma’am. If I was shopping for your father…and he was all alone in a studio apartment…and he gave me a list of things that he wanted, and I was responsible to purchase them for him…wouldn’t you be happy that someone cared enough to get exactly what he wrote on his list?”

With complete disgust, she exclaimed that everything was “ridiculous”, and she didn’t have time to wait there any longer. She abruptly started throwing her items back into her cart, and then backed out without looking, crashing into another woman who was unfortunate enough to stand in Checkout Aisle 9. She turned and looked at this other woman, snarling that she shouldn’t bother waiting there, and that I was taking too much time (happily, the other woman just shrugged her shoulders and gave her a blank stare). As she gave me one last, nasty look, I looked at her and said, “Ma’am, instead of becoming all upset over being in line at the supermarket, why don’t you look at it this way? Maybe—just maybe—you were meant to wait. Did you ever stop to think that because you had to wait behind me a few extra minutes, I may have prevented you from having a car accident later in the day?”

Well, that was about all she could take.

She said something about “rude”, and stormed off into the sea of carts waiting at Checkout Aisles 8, 7, and 5.

For a moment I stood there, astonished. Here I am, explaining to her that I’m shopping for a man who is unable to do it himself. With me, I have four individuals with special needs, two of whom are very obviously handicapped with Down ’s syndrome and Cerebral Palsy. And with all of that in consideration, this woman could not even spare three minutes out of her selfish time. Let’s be real; who doesn’t wait in line at the supermarket? Isn’t it a given?

Ironically, the second she stomped off in her rage, the manager came up to me and told me to purchase the cigarettes; they would have no problem returning them as long as we had our receipt. We paid for everything with the single check the man had given us, got our receipt, and walked toward the exit.

As we strolled down the exit aisle, I couldn’t help but wonder if our friend, Ms. Uptight, was in the midst of checking out (as the woman who was behind her at Checkout Aisle 9 was almost finished doing). Gleefully, I spotted her standing behind not one, but two people at Checkout Aisle 7. And better than that, she spotted us.

Walking through the parking lot, it occurred to me: Perhaps all those years of praying for patience had finally paid off. Although I may have gotten more instant gratification from throwing a bagel at her head and telling her to jump off a bridge, I held onto my dignity (and the dignity of the individuals I was with). I was proud that I kept it together. And in the end, as un-dignified as this may sound, I came out on top (in other words, I *WON*!)…