Attack of the Killer Sock-Eaters

Why is there often only one sock? WHY? 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Inspector

My family is famous for its stories.  I can't remember a family gathering where we haven't rehashed old adventures, lovingly taking every moment apart, enjoying the humor, the absolute ridiculousness of some of them (ask my sister about the time she set off a bank alarm, or my mom about the time she drove away from a 7-11 holdup. No, really!), passing each story down to the next generation, who actually hang on every word even though they've heard these stories a million times before.  My brothers and sister are masters at the art of verbal story-telling.  My older sister and brother work in tandem for stories from their childhood, doing impressions, big arm gestures, pausing at just the right moment before the climax, like magicians unveiling the disappeared woman.  Even though the audience has seen it a million times before, they still cheer for the well-executed reveal.  My younger brother's stories are a little different, but every bit as entertaining.  He has the story of the time he accidentally offended Usher (he had no idea who this "Usher" person was who was talking to him), the time he was wandering around New York and a modeling agent came up and asked him to lunch in Manhattan, and the time he ran into and had a long discussion about piano with then Cardinal Ratzinger, two weeks before he became Pope Benedict XVI.  My brother's stories are always new, and always amazing.  I enjoy, but also envy the ability of my family to weave words into tiny jewel boxes, capturing moments in time, and painting them so vividly that everyone around feels as though they were there, living the experience with them.  It is occasionally difficult to be the type of person who is more comfortable mulling over words and then setting them to paper in a family touched with the gift of the Blarney. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that this is something I obsessed about.  As we waited to board a plane at Dulles a few years back,  I bemoaned my lack of story-telling spontaneity to my husband for probably what seemed like the millionth time, and he finally pointed out that the rest of my family members are much more extroverted than I am, and are more willing to engage total strangers in conversation, which is where many of the best stories come from.  (My mother is famous for this, and we still crack up about the time she ended up asking a woman she had rear-ended to join her at church.  The woman came back to the Catholic faith, and had all of her children baptized and her marriage blessed.  She and mom still exchange Christmas cards.)  I decided that he was right, and resolved to talk to the next stranger I met.  As fate would have it, Husband and I were seated separately on this flight, on opposite sides of the aisle, so instead of asking if we could exchange seats, as I normally would, I engaged the man next to me in conversation.  He told me about his recent trip to visit his new grandbaby, and how hard it was to get time away from his busy job (which required him to fly all around the country) to go visit his kids as much as he would like.  Intrigued, I asked him to elaborate on this jet-setting career of his.  I was excited!  I had hit pay dirt on my first foray into extroversion!  I imagined all the possible things he could be:  a pilot, a U.S. Marshall, oooooh! maybe he was one of those concert promoters and I could score free tickets AND a good story out of this.  I wondered if he knew Usher.  "Weeeeell," he said in this slow, easy drawl, "I'm a rock inspector."  Huh?  I had no idea where this was going, but I forged on, "That sounds interesting - what exactly do you do?"  "Weeeeell, I travel around the country and look at rocks."  Maybe he meant diamonds?  No. "I go to different quarries, and look at the kind of rocks they're diggin' up."  Apparently, he mistook my shell-shocked, slack-jawed expression as an invitation to just delve right into the high-intrigue, exciting world of looking at rocks.  Over the next hour, I was regaled with stories of gradation, the depth at which you get different quality of rock (apparently part of his job was to look at the samples and decide if a particular vein of rock was worth following deeper?), and the different uses to which all these rocks were put.  My ears perked up at that last one, but no, there was no discussion of marble flooring for the White House, or granite countertops for high-end luxury apartments in Manhattan, really it was all about gravel for paving, and occasionally, how you could use different grades of gravel to fill the holes right up with no asphalt at all, because THIS gravel was so fine, it just packed right in!  At one point in the flow of gravel-related conversation, I glanced over at Husband, who sat there silently shaking with laughter.  I vowed retribution with my eyes, and returned my attention to the rock inspector.  I will say this for the man, he was extremely knowledgeable about his job!  We parted ways at the end of the flight, and he seemed to have genuinely enjoyed regaling me with all the nitty gritty details of rock inspection.  I filled Husband in on all the details, and vowed to stick to introversion from that moment on. 

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Soooo, Apparently Ignoring a Blog for 5 Years Is a "Fail"?

For reasons that shall soon become apparent, I am not an organized person. I am the product of two worlds colliding with a quiet, WASP-like implosion (you know, without the Protestant, or the fine bourbon). My mother, God love her, has, after nearly 50 years of marriage finally figured out that in order to be places on time, one must leave one's house BEFORE the required arrival time. My father, who is actively earning Purgatory Points every time my mother is late, is mostly German. That's right, folks, he's descended from a line of people so freaking organized that they invaded France TWICE. In the same century. The point is, that their unholy union resulted in me (and my siblings of course, but whose blog is this anyway?). That means that at my core, I know that in order to be some place on time, I need to give myself 15 extra minutes to get out the door with my three (yeah that's right, it's been a busy five years, hardy har har) kids, because the good Lord knows that it is never as easy as just putting on coats and shoes and walking out the door. Case in point: yesterday my husband calls while I'm out gardening with the kids (a major accomplishment in and of itself, and one NOT likely to repeat itself this year) and asks me if we would like to come get him at the metro and have a nice day out, seeing as he has gotten out of work a little early. Well, HECK YEAH! It's a gorgeous day, the metro is a 20 minute drive away, maybe a little less when there's no traffic, and we've got 45 minutes before my husband's train arrives. However my son and daughter have been gardening for the past two hours. They are covered in dirt, leaves, etc., I didn't shower this morning because, well, gardening! After having three kids, I'm a LOT less vain than I used to be, and will often leave the house with unwashed hair, if it's not too bad. However, there is now what I will call gardening detritus in my hair, because my daughter's aim when she flings dirt with her little pink shovel is all too accurate, and my son got a little over-enthusiastic when it came to shaking the dead leaves off our giant azalea bush. But, I figure, the older kids can change their clothes themselves while I wash out the twigs and dirt and change the baby. The first part of the plan works well - with minor quibbling, the kids are in less encrusted clothing and sent downstairs to wrestle on some shoes. My hair is clean and wrapped in a towel to dry a little while I change Baby Girl...look at me, all time efficient and stuff, letting my hair towel dry a bit before I hit it with the hair dryer....OH DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN, WHAT IS THAT UNHOLY SMELL???? No, she was just wet, right? RIGHT???? Why is there a giant baby-poo colored patch on my bed? Why is Baby Girl's back wet and gross to her neck??? 20 minutes later, I am blow-drying my hair (really at this point just so I won't look like a crazy person and scare all the nice businessmen at the metro), finally, and hollering for the kids to meet me by the door as I rush downstairs, I am greeted by my oldest standing by the door in his bare feet. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the SIX YEAR OLD had somehow interpreted my direction to go put his shoes on right now as, "in your own good time, when you finished drawing, or whatever". My daughter's shoes were on. They were on the wrong feet, but they were on. She's three. FINE. I will yell later, and right now I can use the time that he's putting on his shoes to crate the dog (did I mention the dog?). Finally we tumble out of the house, 5 minutes before my husband's train is due. But, there is hope! Traffic is light, so we get there "only"10 minutes late. I pull in, and almost immediately get a text from the love of my life, "BTW, train late, don't rush." This is my life. And this is why my blog is five years behind.

Let the Tears be Shed

I wrote this at a very difficult and different time, and on another blog, because I thought it was too sad to go with my perky pink background. However. I am not organized enough to have TWO blogs that I ignore, so here it is:

Let the Tears be Shed

Two weeks before the tragedy at Virginia Tech, another life was lost. There was no national outcry, no day of mourning - this was a very private death. My child died before I even had a chance to see her because I miscarried at 13 weeks. There was no reason for it, there was nothing that I could have done differently to keep my child alive, she just slipped away and I didn't even know it until I ended up in the emergency room, listening to a doctor I didn't know tell me how sorry he was, but...
On the surface, there doesn't seem to be much of a connection between the unseen, peaceful death of my child and the very public, brutal deaths of the students and teachers at Virginia Tech. However, when I was allowed to go home, the order sheet that went with me was very specific, "Do not make any major decisions." In other words, my grief and pain were so deep that any decision I made would not be based on rational thought, but a kneejerk reaction to what I was feeling. My doctor was telling me to take time to mourn, to grieve the baby I would never hold, and the potential that was lost with her. On the surface, the two incidents have almost nothing in common, but if one looks deeper, he will find that the reactions of politicians, pundits, and all the rest of us are based on grief, rage, and the feelings of complete helplessness that horrific acts bring out in everyone. This is not a time for decisions, for political parties to forward their agendas on gun control or security. This is also not a time for blame, as there is so little that anyone can do in the face of determined evil. This is a time for mourning. Lives were brutally taken away, great potential was snuffed out in an act of violence so horrific that our minds can't even wrap around it. We are not ourselves right now. Pain and loss cause us to react, rather than reason, and that is how we humans are. Don't minimize this tragedy by trying to tie it up in a box that fits an agenda. Acknowledge that this is something we are all suffering, and give us all time to grieve, and time to learn how to heal.

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