Sunday, January 20, 2008

For I am their leader, and there they go

Being the eldest I was always in the middle. I was the one that babysat so the rest of the kids saw me as middle-management, yet when something went wrong I was punished as one of the kids. I sat with the kids at the holiday dinners and in the middle seat of the station wagon on long drives. We lived next door to my aunt who had four kids, we had five kids in our family and one of my mom and aunt's best friends had five boys, all younger than me. Yeah, 14 kids and I was the eldest.

On our street we had the Vetriceks and right down the way the Hansons. From those families have come police officers. Chuckle. Could have predicted that from the games played. Anyhow, back to me. I led the fourteen of us (plus whatever neighborhood gang was there) up hill and over dale. We combed the woods from 19th and Irving to 25th and up to the Column. We knew where the overgrown long forgotten gardens were and each spring had the best pick of flowers to sell door to door. Each day we wanted to we could sell about $15 worth of flowers, which back in the day was quite a bit. Each older kid would team up with two of the little kids and go door to door using the little kids to hold out the bouquets and look up adoringly. I don't remember ever setting a price on those flowers. People just gave us whatever they wanted to.

We would also organize parades. "Give a hoot don't pollute" was very profitable for us. We would make cardboard signs and hang them around our necks, with various slogans regarding polluting on them. Then half of us would have kazoos and the other half would have cymbals, blocks, and an assortment of other noise makers. We would parade up and down 19th street screaming, "GIVE A HOOT DON'T POLLUTE" until one of the neighbors came out and gave us fudge sickles or money to run down to Public Market for treats. We thought it was in praise of our efforts! Ha, ha, ha, ha!

In the evenings we would put on "shows" and charge admission. One of our most popular shows was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It was very, very dramatic and we were asked to perform this one many times, to my recollection. My parent's and aunt's friends were duly impressed and paid us for their tickets. We even gave this performance for a Tupperware party or two!

Imagine my surprise when one of my sisters called me a while back to ask if she was having a horrible dream or if I had actually really and truly made her blow a kazoo in a Give a Hoot Don't Pollute parade! Made her? You begged me to be in it, was my memory. You have got to be kidding, was hers. You threatened our lives if we didn't. She's crazy, always has been.

Now, that shook me up a bit. A leader doesn't like it when the troops have different memories. This was a glorious memory of our childhood. Checking in with other members of our past and it seems that quite a few of them have been discussing things on their own and coming up with an unauthorized history of 19th street. According to some, these events were embarrassing! According to some, they were traumatic, needing years of therapy to get over! According to some, the little cuties were unhappy with their cut of the flower proceeds and are thinking of a class action law suit after all these years.

What the? It wasn't about the money, it was about fun, camaraderie, being with the big kids! Sheesh. Look where they are at now. One of them has a PhD and is head of her department working for the state of Hawaii and runs triathlons, owns her own house there! Another owns a home in Bellevue, blocks from Microsoft, head of PTOs, organizing marathons, go-to-guy for the school's money making ventures, another is the very first white person to hold tenure at the private school where he is teaching in a foreign land, another was head of her division at Boeing making mother boards for 747s, two more are in rock bands cutting cds as their part time jobs, full time one's a pastry chef for an eatery in downtown Seattle and another is an electronic technician. Thank God, none are in Hollywood writing a movie. No Jeremy, you are not.

I mean if not for the creative childhood "we" had together who can tell where they would be now? At home, in Astoria, watching television, writing on a blog?

Hey! Hmm, like my eldest has been known to say, "My mom always made it easy to leave home."

Monday, January 14, 2008

Blush of Winter

The other day I went into one of the small local stores where the counter was a couple hops, one skip and two jumps from the door. As I waited my turn I heard the door behind me tinkle open, the bell above chiming in the next customer, and then, ever so slightly, a tug at the bottom of my pant leg. My stomach did a little flip.

A wave of deja-vu floated over me as I contemplated how I was going to handle my exist, should the need arise. With fear and dread I slowly and ever so slightly peered down my leg and slightly behind me. To my utter relief a little white fluff ball of a dog stared back up at me. Its owner apologized if her dog was being overly friendly and I waved off the apology, so relieved that it was a live animal that I was assaulted by and not the dreaded pair of static cling underwear.

A long, long, long time ago (I swear it wasn't last month) I went into one of the local stores with a counter a couple hops, one skip and two jumps from the door. I went and stood at the counter and the door swung open behind me and my pant leg was tugged and I turned to see what it was, only to be humiliated by the sight of one toe of a pair of pantyhose being snagged on the opened door and the other obstinately attached to the inside of my pant leg and all the middle part stretched out in between.

Its not like you can deny they are yours. One end's attached itself to you. It is in your pant leg. A million thoughts ran through my head. Do I try explaining the morning's rush? Do I swear I yanked the pair of pants out of the dryer just before leaving the house? They are clean pants I swear it, as are the nylons, that's why there's static cling! Neither are Fabreezed hamper dwellers! Do I pretend I don't notice, maybe no one else will?

As if in slow motion, I just remember those nylons stretching, stretching, stretching and still the toe didn't come out of my pant leg. I reached down and yanked on it and it came free on the end snagged to the door. Quickly I wadded it up, refused to look at the person at the door and turned to the counter. "I wondered where they had gotten to," I said. "Will, now you know," the counterwoman replied. I made my purchase and left.

Another time I was walking up some stairs at a rather nice event and attired appropriately. I was wearing a draping evening gown, a style that I had never worn before, and we were going up some stairs that were placed rather closely together. The stairs were wide but not very well lit and I was going up chatting away with a friend of ours, with our husbands following behind (chatting as well but they like to call it talking, men don't chat). As we talked and walked (or rather climbed) I began to get shorter and shorter, but because I was so animated in what I was talking about I really didn't notice until, suddenly, I couldn't bring my knee up to walk any further. I had walked right up inside of my dress as we climbed the stairs!

My husband had noticed and, apparently, (or so he says) had been saying, "Um, honey, um dear, your dress, your dress!" There was a line of people behind us who had to wait as I backed out of my dress and shook everything back into their proper spots.

So, you see, I was quite justified in being relieved in the store the other day to see it was a dog, and not a piece of my clothing, that was accosting me. Dogs I can deal with, I just can't seem to win when doing battle with pieces of my clothing.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Urban Legends

I love a good ghost story, but it annoys me if someone really believes it. I really dislike urban legends, mostly because so many people believe them just because someone has written them down. Just because someone wrote it doesn't make it true. Sometimes I wonder if an Egyptian chuckled as he carved a hieroglyphic, knowing full well some jackass 2,000 years later was going to believe that the Pharaoh may have been a hermaphrodite just because he said so.

I love the people who send me forwards, a lot of cute stories come and so often its a love note that means, "thinking of you" from some really busy people. I don't have any friends who have nothing better to do than just forward many dozens of posts each day. With each story that I get I still feel the need to check snopes or urban just to see the status of the story.

How come, even when the story even started out true, people couldn't leave it alone? What is this perverse need that people have of taking a story that is true on its own merit and embellish it to make it a lie? Take the story of Dr. Howard Kelly. A very nice, wealthy, doctor who lived in the late 1800s to mid 1900s, billing rich clients a goodly amount so he could write off the charges of those less fortunate. A wonderful story in and of itself.

Why couldn't someone leave well enough alone? They had to tweak the story, make him an impoverished youth working his way through medical school who repays the kindness of a young woman years later when she comes to him for medical treatment of a rare disease. Don't you think his real story is more important and valid for today? A legitimate and practical way for a doctor to practice now, than to wait for impoverished people to aspire and find a way to attend medical school?

This is not, by any means, a slam on the dear friend who sent me the email. You have to know by now that after I appreciate the story, I have to look it up and see if its true. I always have to know, to the best of my ability to research it or find out, what the truth of the matter is. For those who don't believe in God, that may seem a contradiction of my belief in the divine. I can only assure you, it isn't.

However, isn't that what life is about, in part? Ascertaining for our ownselves what "is", what "matters", and what we are measuring that all by? Atleast, that's what I think for me.

I do love many of my uncle's and friends' forwarded jokes and riddles, etc. I was reading one out loud to hubby, trying to convince him of its merits. "Why is "Bra" singular and "panties" plural?" He responds, "Because bra is short for brazierre. " I give him the wife look. "That's not the point. Why don't you call it braz for short?" He gave me the puzzled husband look, "How would I know, no one asks me what to call undergarments." In frustration that he's not getting it I try to reason with him, "Think about it honey, have you ever said, 'I am going to put on my panty' instead of 'I am going to put on my panties'?" Completely deadpan he replied, "I can honestly say I try not to ever say either of those things."

I don't know if I was laughing harder at the fact that he had such a serious face when he said it or the fact that he said he "tries" not to say either of those things! Ah, my Yogi Berra, and no, none of you can have him. Then he called me the weirdo!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Time bandit

I spent today in reflection, anticipation and some regret. Time seemed to stop today, something stole it hid it away, allowing me to spend the day in suspended animation, neither going very fast forward or spending too much time dwelling in the past. In some ways it was tranquil in our household but also it was amusingly loud and disturbing. All televisions were going, which is very, very unusual. Most often, no televisions are going. Sometimes, in the evening, three televisions will be going. One in our bedroom as my husband is watching a hunting or fishing program, one in my father's bedroom as he is watching his sport's program and the one in the green room that everyone else is watching. Today, all of the televisions were on and they were all on a different football game. They even had the cable hooked VCR projecting on the wide screen. Yeah, for four adults to wander from room to room, catching any game midway through. Sports central.

I spent the day reflecting on my future. Yesterday was spent mostly in tears. Tough choices having to be made, and I do hate being an adult. Today was spent happily contemplating what my decisions meant and how to proceed and getting rather excited as opportunities started unfolding. Of course, I made sure no bridges were burned this time, as I do sometimes burn bridges (hard as that may be for some to believe).

Without spilling beans too soon, I am excited about being part of something almost from its ground floor. I think it is something that is desperately needed in this community, be a force of good (ouch, that sounded like we were going to be a justice league or comic book crusaders or something) plus I will get to use some of my education before I lose it, permanently. It's someone else's baby and I only play a bit part, but it is a good role and will be fun and a lot of work. I hope I am up to it and not a disappointment.

I am not one for New Year's resolutions, mostly because if it is something everyone else is doing I don't want to do it plus, this isn't my new year, that happens March 21st so I don't need to worry about making lists that I will purposefully screwup on day two. Today, it did feel nice to wake up to 2008. I would like to travel more, worry less, enjoy what I spend money on more and spend it with my husband more often. I would like to love more often, be less angry but be more persistent in seeking answers and results.

Is a wish list the same as resolutions? Goals? Aspirations? Whatever. I hope it happens. Sometimes writing them down helps focus, sometimes it lets me see how stupid, naive or on target I am. Time will tell. Tick-tock, it appears time has started up again.