Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Club Scene

I am fortunate to have known my husband during the
"club-hopping" days of our youth.
Though we often traveled in different circles before dating, we both enjoyed (for a short time, at least) the electric atmosphere offered by a few Long Island hot spots in the eighties.
My favorite was a haunt called "Chevy's." It offered fifties music and memorabilia, oddly but successfully coupled with contemporary dance music. It housed several dance floors, and for those with more muscle than hustle, there were sports cages for pick-up games (pun intended) and televised major league events.
I left Chevy's at the same time as the closing crew on more occasions than I care to admit. Nonetheless, it remains a fond memory today, as well as a painful reminder that I have only myself to blame, for severing a once firm relationship between my bottom and a jeans size in the single digits.
I have always loved dancing and it remains one of the few physical exercises I don't despise.
If only there were dance clubs today, for forty-somethings who still respect big hair.
Sadly, Chevy's was leveled to make room for an expanding
auto mall.
Undoubtedly, amidst all that rubble and neon, went my waistline, hubby's rhythm, and my last can of Stiff Stuff hair spray.

Now, twenty-something years later, hubby and I will venture into a new club scene of sorts.
We will join the ranks of countless other Americans struggling to choose between Sam's, Costco, or BJ's Wholesale Club, where membership has its privileges.
We will utilize each of our one-day passes to carefully decide which membership best suits our needs, though "clubbing," as we called it, will require a few modifications;

Parachute pants and Capezio shoes will be left behind, in favor of lightweight fleece and comfortable sneakers.

Our focus will have shifted from available singles, to single snack packs at competitive volume pricing.

No longer amused by strobe lights or smoke machines, we will instead be dazed and confused as we venture past the high-def bigger/better/faster version of our (now seemingly insignificant) TV.

For a few hundred dollars, we might purchase all that is necessary to forego the communal appreciation (boom box style) of new tunes, and alternatively, purchase individual songs, imbed rubber buds into our ears, keeping our own playlists close to the vest for independent listening (and I'm guessing there won't be any dancing).

For those of us struggling to read microscopic playlists, preferring the larger formatted text of the jukebox, we might visit the Club Optical Center and drop a Ben Franklin or two for a BOGO sale
on bifocals.

And since it's unlikely that current club hopping will be followed by a pre-dawn diner visit, we might pick up a box or two of
Bubba Burgers (at 800 calories a pop, with no pre-burger workout on the dance floor) to throw on our new, pre-assembled,
self-igniting Weber grill, strategically placed near a ginormous display of Hanes Unisex Comfort Elastic Waist Sweat Pants.

After comparison shopping all of our staple items, we might head over to the Gourmet department to pick up a tube of Polenta and a box of Merlot.

If there's still room in the cart, we can pick up the newest self-help books from Dr. Oz and Bob Greene, taking care not to crush the Break-n-Bake Otis Spunkmeyer Cookies, or the
Cheesecake Factory Baby Cakes Assortment.

Thankfully, there should be extra room under the cart for the Roomba Robotic Vacuum and a case of Vitamin Water.

I might try to convince hubby to splurge on the Wii system complete with the Wii Fit Bundle; though our budget doesn't allow for much in the way of entertainment, and the 2 for $10 DVDs are so much more economical (plus, they come with free Movie Theater Extra Butter Popcorn).

Before we venture to checkout, I will grab my pen and notepad and do some comparison pricing for specific items as requested by my neighborhood friends.
These include, in no particular order;
Marlboro Cigarettes (carton), Crest White Strips, Hot Tools Ionic Hair Straightener, Sebastian Hair Repair Conditioner,
Jergen's Self-Tanning Lotion, Olay Anti-Wrinkle Serum, Slim-Fast Cappuccino Meal-Replacement Shakes, Immodium AD,
Red Bull 6-Pack, Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Tea,
DiGiorno Pepperoni Pizza, Pepcid AC, Hefty Lawn & Leaf Bags, and Scott's All Purpose Mulch- 25lb. bag.

Perhaps our club shopping adventure won't offer as much excitement as our club hopping days of yesteryear. But alas,
age and wisdom allow us to appreciate small, momentary pleasures in lieu of more grandiose events.

Thankfully however, some things never change;
I will have my I.D. at the ready for the cashier
because they always seem to ask for it.

They must think I'm not old enough to buy that box of wine.

This is my truth;


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Gettin' Our Merry On...

'Twas the Night Before Christmas
~ Frati Style~

'Twas the night before Christmas
When all through our home
The only creature not stirring,
Was likely a gnome

The stockings were sitting
On top of a crate
'Cause the kids were too busy
To help decorate

The TV was on,
With X-Box engaged
Now bedtime far off,
A new war had been waged

Dear daughter was texting
While reading a play
Neither hubby nor I
Saw an end to this day

When out in the street
There arose such a clatter
I jumped from the sofa
To see what was the matter

Away to the window
I hustled with speed
While Yogi kept barking
And eventually peed

The moon on the breast
Of our lawn--with no snow
Gave lustre to the fact
That our son did not mow

Then what to my wondering
Eyes did appear
But our good neighbor, Chris
With some tools, and a beer

Beside him there stood
A chubby, old man
With a fluffy, red hat
And a plug in his hand

It appeared he had one
Of those new, hybrid sleighs
That stalled, it would seem
As he reached The Fairways

An emergency landing
Was his only choice
And I heard him exclaim
In his jolly, loud voice

"Good golly, dear sir
Christmas is ruined, I fear-
I knew I should have taken
Those trusty reindeer !"

There was no time for recharging
Santa's sleigh was quite stuck
And good children-- now sleeping
Were sugar-plum-out of luck

"Don't worry, dear Santa,"
Said Chris, with a smile,
"I'll build a new engine
In just a short while;

I just need to gather
Some additional parts,"
As he set off to find
His son's scooters, and karts

I pulled on my wellies,
Handed hubby his coat
And we set out to help them
(though our chances, remote)

Our kids, now quite curious
Ran out with bare feet
And trailing behind them-
Yogi peed in the street

A crowd soon did gather
And in all the commotion
No one noticed that Santa
Slipped Yogi some potion

As Chris tinkered with tools
Neighbors looked on in fear
Then our dear son exclaimed,
"I have an idea !"

He ran back to the house,
Though no one knew why
And seemed to return
In the blink of an eye

He gave Chris a carton
With his X-Box inside
Then said, with a smile
"Go ahead, pimp his ride."

Chris nodded and laughed,
While the neighbors all cheered
Some even shared cocoa,
And cookies, -- and beer

Their spirits were light
Like the down of a thistle
To know Santa's sleigh would
Have new bells and whistles

Chris spoke not a word
But went straight to his work
And added new features
Then turned with a jerk;

He exclaimed, "Santa's sleigh
Is really quite groovy,
He has lasers, and sound,
And can even watch movies !"

Dear hubby and daughter
Held spotlights for Chris
As he made last adjustments
So nothing was missed

He started the engine
And revved it quite loud,
Though louder still
Were cheers from the crowd

Santa cheered right along
With his hands on his belly,
That shook when he laughed
Like a bowl full of jelly

We all loaded his gifts
Back on to his sleigh-
In no time at all,
He'd be well on his way

Quite suddenly Chris
Slapped his hand to his head
And the look on his face
Was one full of dread

Said Santa, "What's wrong?
I can't even guess !"
Then Chris did reply,
"I'm afraid there's no GPS !"

"Good gracious !" Said Santa
"Tis a problem, I fear-
There was no need for maps
When I had my reindeer- "

"But for journeys worldwide
A course I must chart..."
Then dear daughter approached him
And spoke from the heart-

"No worries, Santa Baby,
I've got your back !"
Then she slipped her new cell phone
Into his red, velvet sack

"Just call my home phone
If you need help with the maps,
There's like a million-
Listed under Map Apps"

He hugged her, and thanked her
Then motioned to me-
I leaned in to listen
As he whispered his plea

I agreed to a favor
Though the pleasure- all mine
Then he looked at his watch
And said "Well folks, it's time !"

He sprang to his sleigh,
To our dog, gave a clap
And faster than fast
Yogi jumped onto his lap

He attached some fake antlers
To Yogi's small head
And we knew it was magic
When his nose glowed bright red!

Both daughter and son
Stared with wide eyes
And Santa assured them
"I'll have him back by sunrise."

To the neighbors, he waved
And with Chris, he shook hands
As he set off with toys
For far away lands;

And we heard him exclaim
As he drove out of sight-

"Merry Christmas to all,
And to all, a good night !"

This is my truth;


Wishing you a happy, healthy, holiday season
And many blessings in the new year-
Merry Christmas!!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Step Up To The Plate- But Skip The Humble Pie

I am a lover of the English language.
I try to make good use of it, but sometimes I fail miserably.
I seem to have difficulty with "H" words. For years I believed the definition of haste was the exact opposite of what it is. The word sounds slow to me. If I came across the expression "make haste,"
I assumed it meant to slow down. I was in my thirties before I discovered my error. The same is true for the word hale.
My husband has used the expression "hale and hearty," to refer to someone healthy and robust, which never made sense to me because hale sounds sickly to me, maybe because it
rhymes with pale.
Most people wouldn't lose any sleep over these mistakes,
but I'm not most people.
Words that get me flummoxed are the ones I try to use most often. I'm a glutton for punishment, I guess.

I was housebound for a while, sidelined with an unexpected case of shingles. During one incredibly boring Friday, I did what any logophile would do; I cracked open my dictionary to a long list of "H" words and began reading them. By the end of the "H" section, I began to lose interest and my mind wandered off to other, more interesting subjects, like Christmas shopping.
Before I closed the big book however, a small group of words knitted closely together on the page prompted me to think about the holidays (another "h" word, interestingly enough).
The words humble, humble pie, humbug, and humility appear relatively close together in Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.
In my mind, humbug and pie are as common to Christmas as turkey is to Thanksgiving.
Most of us have a general knowledge of these words and I'm guessing most of us try to be humble and avoid, when possible, behaving like humbugs. But it was the definition of humbug, so soon after the one for humble, that got me thinking.
A humbug is described as "a person who passes himself off as something he is not; an attitude or spirit of pretense and deception." After careful consideration of these two words, I realized that though humility is necessary in many circumstances, it is ill-applied during the holiday season. In certain circumstances regarding ones Christianity, by being humble, we essentially become humbugs.
Allow me to explain.
I call myself a Christian.
And each year, just before the official holiday season kicks in, and before the Black Friday sales flyers arrive, I remind myself that Christmas is much more than overspending, overextending, and overeating. I make a mental list of all the things I should be doing to honor the birthday of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. These include making charitable donations, volunteering my time for a worthy cause, attending mass, encouraging my family (and myself) to remain mindful of the true meaning of Christmas, and taking a more zen approach to a season that has the potential to turn from merriment to mayhem in seconds.
Thus far, I have a few Christmases under my belt, and I'm pretty sure I've left more than a few footprints on that road to hell.
And though I blame no one but myself, the clarity of my intentions becomes quite clouded as I comply with a culture of shoppers who demand little from the giants of retail, and fall prey to the urgency of consumerism.
We Christians tend to believe that God is everywhere, and yet on one of the holiest occasions of our faith, for which we drop billions (collectively), the Holy Family seems to be M.I.A.
Most of us don't need a wake-up call from the ghosts of Christmases past. I'm guessing that the majority of shoppers, Christians and non-Christians alike, are well aware that retail has a no-room-at-the-inn policy for worship-worthy sentiment.
And let's face it, commercialized-Santa is a sleigh-load more fun than St. Nicholas, isn't he?
Modern day Santa has no strings attached; he's a jolly guy who gives great gifts, and he's temporary. A true Christian however, recognizes that he's about as satisfying as a fat-free dessert; enjoyable with no guilt, but inevitably leaves you wanting more.
We Christians may score points for such awareness, but this is exactly where humility gets us into trouble.
My dictionary defines humility as "the quality or state of being humble; not arrogant or assertive; expressing or offered in a spirit of deference or submission; apology; insignificant, unpretentious."
Admittedly, this is one ugly shoe that fits me pretty well.
At a time when trend says that God should be uninvited to our schools, meals, and general conversation, I am unwilling to accept that He and His Family be removed from our holiday celebrations. But let's face it, defending religion can be uncomfortable. No one wants to be a killjoy at the holiday party, and those cute cards with generic sentiments save us a few bucks because they apply to all of our friends without offense.
And so, I suppose that puts me among the ranks of humbugs;
I have tasted that humble pie, and resisted the urge to speak up in defense of Christ-mas. Shamefully, I have patronized retailers who dress their stores to the nines with nary a Creche in sight. I have even been drawn to seasonal commercials filled with merriment, humming along to tunes that make no reference to any holiday, taking political correctness to a whole new level of shamelessness.
And while we're on the subject of shame, let me assure you, though it's clever marketing, there is nothing holy about the angels in the holiday advertisements of one lingerie retailer.
I'm pretty sure there are no socioeconomic boundaries to this seasonal apathy either. Our town suffered a string of robberies during the holiday season last year; thieves primarily stole
blow-up holiday ornaments from well-decorated homes. Not surprisingly, the few that remained unharmed were inflatable Nativity scenes. Officers suggested it was more an act of indifference than respect, not to mention that religious decorations offer little opportunity for resale.

So where does that leave us?
You will glean what you will from my discourse and
make your own judgements.
On a personal note, I intend to take backward strides on that road to hell by correcting the error of my ways, if only in baby steps.
Perhaps I will start by becoming more aware of those establishments to whom I surrender my hard-earned pay.
I will be more conscious of those who acknowledge and return a "Merry Christmas" over a "Happy Holidays."
I will make Christmas Day the focus of our celebration instead of the end result of harrowing holiday chaos.
And I will skip the humble pie when the opportunity arises
for me to speak up in defense of a holiday none of us would enjoy,
were it not for the hospitality of an innkeeper, and the strength of
one Woman who believed.

Merry CHRISTmas!

This is my truth;


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Shingles Hell

A Rash I Did Not Know
To My Forehead Made Its Way
Erupted Into Blisters, Then
On My Eyelid It Did Stay

The Doctors Gave Me Meds
Said It Soon Would Go Away
But The Pain Got Worse
So I Have To Curse
'Cause It Just Won't Go Away


Shingles Hell

Shingles Hell

Intense Pain For Three Days
It Should Have Stopped
When The Blisters Popped
Now I Fear It's Here To Stay

Shingles Hell

Shingles Hell

Shingles, Go Away-
When I Scratch The Itch
It Hurts Like A Bitch
And That's All I Have To Say!

(Now re-read and sing to the tune of "Jingle Bells")

This is my truth;


P.S. And yes, I'm on pain medication :)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Haiku for You

Humility wanes
In autumn you brag to me
Japanese Maple

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thankful For A Free Country

Veterans Day

Quite honestly, I have no business writing anything about
Veterans Day.
Folks who live under rocks, like me, are best kept silent in matters relating to patriotism and politics.
It's not that we don't have appreciation and respect for the men and women who so nobly and selflessly protected our country,
but simply that we don't pay close enough attention to
why they were called to serve.
Having said that, I feel compelled to expound on the subject.

Admittedly, I am apathetic.
I pay little attention to current political trends and I know little about our elected officials.
It is a fact of which I am not proud, but I am unmotivated at present to correct the error of my ways.
In matters of war, I can offer only that I am completely opposed.
My narrow minded view stems not from my response to recent reports that our nation is further from world peace today than it was a decade ago, but instead from an innate sense that there is always a better way.
It is a rare occasion that finds me entangled in a discussion about such matters, for I avoid extrapolating and risking the exposure of my naivete. But when pressed to do so, I share my unaffected belief that if castration were a real and present consequence of instigating armed conflict, fewer men would hasten
to pick up a rifle.

But I digress. My purpose here is to acknowledge those who relinquished the frivolities of civilian life for the austerity of military life, so that we may be afforded those freedoms we
so often take for granted.

I am proud to be an American, and I know that life would be far different were it not for our ancestors who fought so valiantly to protect our rights and freedoms.
I am honored to be the grandchild of one who served. I know little of his sacrifice however, because his stories unfolded at a time when I was too young to understand.
By the time my interest was piqued, his flag was folded and presented to my grandmother, and his stories buried with him.

Today, my limited knowledge affords me the opportunity to
know what it means to be the aunt of a grown child, a son of
U.S. Airforce personnel. He is a young man, dear to my heart who has spent time in our home while his mother served in remote places on less friendly soil. In spite of a demanding military career, she has raised a fine son.
The sacrifice however, has not been hers alone.
Intermittently, I have watched him grow from boy to man and I have witnessed his struggle to find a single definition of home.
Denied the "normalcy" a childhood in civilian life affords, he demonstrates a maturity and stoicism uncommon to his peers.
These days, he enjoys campus life, far removed from base housing and the rigors of military life, but no less affected by, or
concerned for his mother's safety in a new locale on foreign soil.

Where sacrifice is concerned, I am humbled by the dedication of our men and women in uniform, but no less grateful to the families of those who serve. For theirs is a sacrifice made without the freedom of choice, at the mercy of a government who affords such valiance a day of honor and recognition, but little else.

Perhaps it is time for me to reread the history lessons I committed only to short term memory through the course of my education.
By understanding the annals of our nation, I might be better able to digest the current state of our affairs.
Or, I could just go back under my rock.

This is my truth;


"In free countries, every man is entitled to
express his opinions and every other man
is entitled not to listen."

~ G. Norman Collie

From "Famous Quotes About Democracy"
The U.S. Constitution And Fascinating Facts About It
~ Terry Jordan

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Poe(m)

I expect that I am not alone in my amazement when I happen upon someone who bears a name so strikingly appropriate to his/her profession that I am forced to stifle a giggle.
I wish I had kept a running tally of these instances because I believe a book of such folly would be quite entertaining.
For now, the following poem will have to suffice:

What's In a Name?
A Poe(m)

Downtown there is a pastry shoppe
Once owned by Sally Baker

Dear Father had his soles repaired
By a gent named Rick Shoemaker

The nurseryman on Main Street
Goes by the name Jim Holly

So, surely you must ask yourself
Are these names by fate, or folly?

How often have I met someone
And played this mental game
Believing it no accident
That one's profession suits his name

In bygone days a name was given
That spoke of one man's trade
But today's Coopers, Smiths, and Tanners
So rarely tell what hands have made

Yet still I pause to wonder-
If names are truly meant to be,
Why is it then
That Edgar Allen's
Surname had no t ?

This is my truth;


Tuesday, November 3, 2009


On my dining table, under a circular piece of glass
sits a small oak leaf.
I am determined to preserve it.
The glass disc is the only remaining evidence of my gourmet cheesecake pan. It serves as the pan's foundation and was involuntarily separated from its springform ring last Christmas.
Though alone it serves no purpose, I refused to discard it, believing it would someday prove useful.
When time allows, I will Google leaf preservation techniques.
Perhaps my oak leaf will find its way into a shadow box and eventually, onto my bedroom wall to serve as a reminder of promises made.

This leaf and I have only just become friends.
I noticed it on my way to work this morning. It is small and unassuming.
In fact, if placed between two more vibrant, spectacular foliage specimens, it would likely go unnoticed. If not for the irritating clicking noise it made, caught beneath my wiper blade, I might have missed it completely.
Had I noticed it before merging onto the highway, I might have extracted it with nary a thought for its significance. However, I chose to err on the side of caution and wait for a safer
opportunity to remove it.
At some point along my course however, I gave pause to consider one of two possibilities; either this leaf was attempting to break free, or perhaps instead, was holding on for dear life.
Closer inspection forced me to accept the latter, recognizing the strength of this seemingly fragile specimen as it battled the elements of its ever changing environment.
Neither wind nor speed had managed to force it free.
In that moment, I realized how alike this leaf and I might be;
both of us plagued by the uncertainty of how our journey
would end.
I hesitate to speak of what this leaf has endured for we have only just met, but I dare to speculate; I understand well the uneasiness that so often accompanies simple souls, as we grasp for solid foundation while life moves so swiftly around us.
I expect that this leaf has seen and endured transformation; none of which has been voluntary. Undoubtedly, it has watched friends fall, while others have drifted away.
In its short lifetime, it has aged through many capricious seasons.
I wondered, did this leaf know when it broke free from its sheltering tree that at times, the journey might seem impossible?
So young and seemingly misguided, would it be ill-prepared to face the challenges of unexpected weather?
For most of us, only life experience affords us the knowledge that often a comfortable, warm breeze signals the arrival of a pending storm. Clearly, my leaf had not lived long enough to know most things.
And furthermore, had this leaf ever considered the purpose
of its own existence?

Halfway through my drive, as I observed the magnificence of foliage in unison, I realized this was likely too much to expect from one single leaf.
I pondered the possibility that perhaps I misjudged my new friend.
The thought occurred to me that maybe this leaf spared little effort fretting over an uncertain future, and instead channeled its energy to remain anchored during an unpredictable, yet exhilarating ride.
In this fleeting moment of clarity, I made a pact with my new friend; I promised both of us that if it held on tightly and arrived at our destination intact, I would work diligently toward change.
Though the odds were against this leaf not blowing away, the hopefulness I felt for my little leaf could prove to be the catalyst for a much needed personal transformation.
For far too long I have known an intimate relationship with fear.
By dwelling on the missteps of an uncharted past, and the uncertainty of the future, I have willingly accepted paralysis in place of present living.
I know firsthand the worry that befalls parents of almost-grown children; not fully understanding who they are, and wishing so desperately for who they might become.
As a daughter of aging parents, I am overwhelmed by a sense of urgency to stop time in its tracks, to recall every word of wisdom shared, and to preserve the lifetime of love and support they have afforded me.
I know intimately the sensation of free-falling when relationships change, the nest grows empty, and self has no obvious definition.
I am familiar with the restlessness that accompanies an insatiable need to control, and the inevitable sadness of defeat.
That leaf, weathered and lackluster, keenly aware of the possibility of sudden departure, was still holding on enjoying the ride.
And though time has stolen some of my own flexibility and sheen,
I too want to enjoy the ride.
I long to experience those sensory joys I so eagerly embraced before worry and practicality consumed me.
Though my birthdate tells otherwise, I am a child of autumn.
You can keep your primary colors, your pastels, and your jewel tones, for none have moved me quite like the colors of fall.
Not long ago, the smell of woodsmoke coupled with foliage at its peak could bring me to happy tears.
I recall autumns of my youth spent perfecting my ability to whistle through the cap of an acorn.
I rejoiced at the sound of crunching leaves underfoot.
And now I am left only to wonder where that joie de vivre
has gone.
I suspect that like me, and my leaf, it is a little bit lost.

It was my own unexpected pleasure to arrive at work with
my leaf, battered but intact, resting beneath the wiper blade.
As I attempted to remove it, I nearly tore it in half.
How surprised I was to find its papery skin anchored by such a strong and pliable stem.
I placed the leaf in between the pages of my datebook with the intent to preserve it, and made my way into the office.
For most of the day, I considered my potential instability for having made a pact with a leaf.
But this experience only reinforces my belief that sometimes, in moments of absurdity, we learn a great deal about life.
Upon my return home, as I placed my leaf under glass, I considered the most obvious messages my commute had offered;
Though at times we may feel small and ordinary, each of us possesses incredible strength and resiliency.
When our foundation is strong, we are able to endure what seems impossible. And maybe, it is how we respond in those moments when we feel trapped or afraid, that determines the quality
of our journey.
Should we be forced to take an unexpected detour, we might, by our own acceptance of all that we cannot control, learn to
enjoy the ride.
But perhaps the greatest lesson came when I observed that under glass, my leaf seemed to possess a new vitality and luster.
At one time, that circle of glass, separated from its familiar support, seemed useless.
But recognition, if only by one, gave it new purpose.
And purpose it would seem, is the cornerstone
to self preservation.

This is my truth;


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

About a Boy and a Telescope

I sat next to Zachary at a recent charity bingo event. At first, I didn't realize he was part of the family for whom the event was being held. He was focused on his Nintendo DS, pausing only occasionally to take a bite of what he described as
"really good pizza."
By all accounts, Zachary was a normal, eight year old boy and I assumed he was just like all the rest. However, as the evening unfolded into countless B-9s and G-53s, it became evident to me that Zachary was in fact, the brother of Casey; a three-year old boy suffering from Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), a potentially fatal, genetic skin disease.
The mission of the evening was to raise enough funds for Casey's family to defray mounting costs for medical treatments and travel costs for his frequent visits to a Chicago hospital.
Casey too, was present. He wore bandages from his wrists to his shoulders with only his tiny, pink fingers exposed. His neck brace, though seemingly restrictive, did little to halt his curious exploration of the crowded cafeteria. I witnessed an incredible
tag-team effort by his loving parents and extended family, as they divided their energy between Casey's inquisitive wandering, the demands of their infant daughter, and the attention needed by Zachary and his bingo boards.

During some intense bingo competition, Zachary and I became friends.
I asked him about sports and school work, and he spoke of space and dinosaurs, and his ability to play the trombone. He seemed wiser than his years and his behavior was exemplary for a boy of his age.
He told me (more than once) how badly he wanted to win the telescope that sat nestled among more elaborate and expensive items on the prize table. He spoke of discovering new planets and stars. I imagine that to most of the night's participants, that telescope was nothing more than a ubiquitous shelf item found in most local toy stores.
To Zachary however, it was so much more.

When the games officially ended and we were allotted time to place our raffle tickets in the appropriated prize baskets, I placed all of mine in the one marked "Telescope", as did Zachary.
As the announcers prepared to call the names and ticket numbers of winners, Zachary and I crossed our fingers and legs in hopeful anticipation.

While waiting to exhale, I could think of nothing more than the unfairness of it all; how terribly cruel the world can be-
a world where a lively toddler who smiles and cheers at the very mention of pudding, must suffer a painful illness and regularly endure having his fragile limbs wrapped into restrictive cocoons.
It is the same cruel world that forces an eight year old boy to sacrifice the time and attention he so needs from his parents for the sake of his brother's unforgiving disease.
And this same world spares no sympathy for loving parents who are spread too thin emotionally, physically, and financially, to allow for grievance or self pity, which none would begrudge them.
So humbled by the presence of this family, I became keenly aware of the atrocity of my usual complaints.

After what seemed like an eternity, the announcer called the
ticket number for the telescope.
Sadly, neither Zachary nor I had the matching ticket. Though I expected at least some expression of disappointment, Zachary took it in stride. He immediately turned to his brother Casey and said "I hope YOU win the prize YOU want."
As a parent myself, I am all too familiar with the emotional meltdown that so often accompanies childhood disappointment.
I still marvel at Zachary's maturity and his ability to handle unexpected loss.
On his behalf however, I was unwilling to accept defeat.
After some discreet, gentle persuasion, the young man who won the telescope generously gave it to Zachary. He offered that he placed his ticket in that basket as an afterthought and was glad to give it to someone so deserving.
Zachary was shocked speechless by his kindness. His parents couldn't express enough gratitude for what he had done. Those of us who watched the scene unfold were positively giddy.

The event was a great success and generated more revenue than expected. Zachary's parents were humbled by such generosity. They carried Casey around to individually thank each of the event's organizers.

As Zachary departed with his family, he was smiling ear to ear, bearing the heavy weight of the boxed telescope by himself.
Though many offered, he refused assistance. His father proudly announced that Zachary regularly carries his own trombone to lessons.
The symbolism of visualizing this small boy bearing such a heavy burden was palpable.

As I drove home in silence that night, I knew I wasn't alone in my concern for Zachary and his family. I offered prayers for Casey's healing and for the strength his family would need in the weeks and months to come.
I wanted nothing more than for Zachary to discover that new planet; one where illness and uncertainty have no presence.
But the fact is, whether or not that new world exists, we live
in this world; one in which blessings and misfortunes are abundant in equal measure. And we, as humans share a responsibility with
our fellow humans to celebrate the joys and share the burdens.
How easily we can isolate ourselves into believing that charitable corporations can take the place of human interaction. Though supporting these philanthropic efforts is paramount to medical advancement, we must not lose sight of our communal responsibility.
Had a donation check been submitted to DebRA (Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa Research Association) in lieu of hosting Bingo Night, I might have missed the opportunity to meet Zachary's incredible family. It is also unlikely that those funds would have directly met their immediate needs.
I am proud to be part of a community that embraces families like Zachary's.

Still today, I smile when I think of Zachary's expression as he received that telescope.
And though most of us left empty handed, our hearts were full
and at the same time, maybe even a little bit broken.
Isn't that what being human is all about?

And sometimes, life's greatest lessons come to us
in the most unusual ways.
This one just happens to be
about a boy and a telescope.

This is my truth;


Monday, October 19, 2009

Shots Fired

I won't, I shan't
No- I- will- not
I will not get
that damn flu shot!

Media tries
Though media fails
To convince us
We'll have all that ails

Shots- we've heard
Around the world
Are meant for every
Boy and girl

And adults too
Must vaccinate-
For those who don't
The risks are great

To scare tactics
I shall not succumb
Does the CDC
Think we're that dumb?

We've heard of those
Unfortunate few
Who got the shot
Then got the flu

So I stand firm
And I resist
No flu shot !
And no flu mist !

I'll rely on cures
Of yesteryear
Like chicken soup
And tea, and beer
(okay, maybe not beer)

Should I have fever,
Cough, or chills
I'll take my multi-
Symptom pills

And climb into bed
For a nap, or two-
Soon enough I'll
Be good as new

Wait, hold on
What's that you say-
A new report
Is out today?

Supply cannot
Quite meet demand?
And too few shots
Have they on hand?

Quite suddenly
The tide does turn
For we who read
And listen learn
Tis the early bird
Who gets the worm!

Perchance we may
Be turned away
So hurry! Hurry
Out today-

Call your doctor!
Call your nurse!
Get the keys
And grab your purse!

Sign in here
And claim your spot
Until you've had your shot!

On second thought-
I think not

This is my truth;


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Get a Wife

I've said it before and I'll say it again;
I need a wife.
This is not a solicitation but instead, a simple fact.
Though happily married to my husband of 20+ years, I recognize the advantage of such a partnership.

I recently compared the difference between being married to man or woman, to the differences between driving a vehicle with manual transmission or automatic.
Manual transmission (man) requires more effort, it requires constant communication between car and driver just to get from point A to point B. The ride is bumpy, and extended driving will likely ruin a good pair of shoes.
Automatic transmission (woman) is relatively effortless, provides a smooth ride, allows for multi-tasking (thanks to cup holders), and never requires you to manipulate a stick to reach your destination.
Essentially, the car (wife) does all the work, with nary a thank you on the horizon.
Despite your temptation, ignore what appear to be obvious metaphors.

I assure you I am only referring to those household chores that somehow arrange themselves in an unfair division of responsibilities. I offer that women are like automatic transmissions simply because they get the job done with little chaos or confusion.
Men, though capable, require a great deal more effort and encouragement (read: coaxing, badgering, threatening...)
to reach the same destination.

A new work schedule has me running helter skelter in an attempt to get it all done.
I've lost my mind and purchased two crock pots (if you've followed my food blog, you know how I feel about crock pot cooking).
I've resorted to doing laundry at midnight, and Febreze has become my new best friend.
Though I look forward to weekends, most are spent playing catch-up for the sake of chores left incomplete during the work week.
I am left with the daunting task of disrupting marital bliss in exchange for domestic partnership.
When I ask my significant other for help around the house,
a dark cloud descends upon our humble abode and strange things happen.
Whites turn to gray.
Hamper towels smell like ass.
We dress for floods.
We eat a lot of toast.
The dog loses weight and won't leave his bed.
Need I go on?

And so once again, I am left to ask that age old question:
How do working women get it all done?
I've been told it's an unfair/sexist question because working men share the same household responsibilities we do.
I believe that.
I believe that there are men who voluntarily turn on the vacuum, separate lights from darks, throw in a load of wash, prep a casserole, and walk the dog.

I'm inclined to believe however, that most of those men are married to women who, unlike me, never get tired of driving stick.

I need a wife.

This is my truth;


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Play Nice

Play nice. How many times have we heard that same sentiment?
As a parent I can attest to having spoken it, whispered it with gritted teeth, and occasionally even shouted it, for the benefit of my own children and their playmates.
I'm not sure I could have coined a more effective term on my own (though for the sake of proper English, I might have chosen
"play nicely" as an alternative--but if it ain't broke...).
Oddly enough, many seem to believe this age old command should be limited to the sandbox or the classroom, but I would argue that these two words would serve as an invaluable addendum to workplace policy.
I'm guessing for most of us, there would be little challenge in producing the names of a few ill-mannered candidates who might find such a policy limiting or unfair.
Naturally, those most offended by such policy are likely the ones in greatest need of reform.

But what does it mean exactly, 'play nice?'
An internet search offers unlimited results. At the risk of overstating the obvious however, I would offer the following three simple tenets:
Play nice = Be kind. Be fair. Share.
Though the former two might be open to interpretation, the latter is most definitive and in my opinion, most effective.
Quite simply, sharing ones resources is a boon to workplace civility.
Especially when said resources include candy.
I suppose there is plenty of statistical heft to support my claim should you wish to confirm my findings.
Admittedly however, I am one of the "see it to believe it" skeptics.
I've seen the efficacy of such a practice and therefore,
I believe in it.

Allow me to explain.

I am a new employee to a fairly busy office.
On any given day, the foot traffic to which we are exposed can potentially make or break the mood of a generally cheerful staff. Too often it seems, that a crotchety, abrasive few who have occasion to visit, would otherwise deposit the negative aura that tailgates them, leaving it to contaminate our happy place-- were it not for the brilliance of our fearless leader.
The habitual positivity of our immediate staff might likely be attributed to a wise, caring boss who understands that people, young and old, are in need of three fundamental things; consideration, compassion, and candy.
The latter, offering instant satisfaction is resolved by strategical placement of an ever-full basket of assorted confections.
The basket sits at the immediate entrance to our office, allowing for the dissipation of bad mojo, even before those affected cross the threshold to where our staff resides.
It would seem as though their negativity is synonymously peeled away with the unwrapping of each confection.
The candy not only offers to quell a potentially melancholy mood, but it also serves as an opportunity for interaction and dialogue. Every hand in the basket is greeted by one of our staff and very few attached to those hands fail to respond.
Most often, the end result is that visitors leave happier than when they entered, having been momentarily distracted for the sake of
pleasant chit-chat and a much needed sugar high.

I know what you're thinking; this is all too simple, right?
I'm not suggesting that free candy is the answer to world peace (though it might be worth discussing). I am simply suggesting you consider revising workplace behavior to include a happy element to be shared with others, preferably one that is easily digested.

What perplexes me about all of this, is why anyone would want to include the candy-basket on the list of recession-induced cutbacks; an ugly prospect brought to our table time and again.
Unless of course, those initiating the cutbacks can be identified as the currently degreed and empowered playground bullies of yesteryear.
If that's the case, then I considerately and compassionately have
only this to offer:

Play nice people, play nice.
And have a piece of candy.

This is my truth;


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Technology is in the Crapper

I like technology.
I'm an online shopper.
I am TiVo-dependent.
I text (therefore, I am).

I've heard tell that technology is good for business.
I would argue that some business is best left behind,
and spared the upgrade of technological advancement.
Case in point: the automatic flushing toilet.

I have to believe that I am not alone in my distaste
for such an atrocity.
I take my bodily functions rather seriously.
I do not wish to eat before I'm hungry, nor do I wish
to wake before I am well rested.
Similarly, I do not wish to have a toilet dictate
appropriate time or conditions for personal waste removal.

Recently, I found myself held hostage in a
workplace bathroom stall.
So perplexed by proper use of "Rest Assured" paper toilet seat covers (as there are no visible instructions), I was flummoxed into a race against the clock between a prematurely flushing toilet
and yours truly.
Each attempt to secure the paper cover to the seat, with the (poorly perforated) flap safely detached and hanging from its center (a step you shouldn't omit unless you are curious to
know what it would feel like to piddle naked while sitting on
a paper plate), resulted in untimely flushing and unwarranted theft and disposal of said seat cover before my fanny
ever hit the seat.

This sequence of events was repeated until the white metal box was void of seat covers, and only after I noticed a sign that reads: "Please do not dispose of sanitary napkins or excessive amounts of paper in toilet."
My understanding is that these newfangled flushers sense motion and thus respond accordingly.
Apparently, flipping the bird does not create enough motion to trigger waste removal.

And so, I resorted to my tried and true method of papering the seat with two minimalist torn sheets of toilet tissue, with one modification--I had to fool the toilet into believing its victim was safely seated in order to suspend flushing.
Attempting to outwit a toilet seat is no easy task when my new wool trousers are dangling dangerously close to the bathroom floor. Keeping them suspended requires a spread-eagle-tippy-toe technique that might be a boon to calf muscles but hurts like a bitch after any length of time.
I considered papering the seat after sitting, but that would have been counterproductive and hardly sanitary.
After one failed attempt, I developed the 'hover-to-cover' method of toilet seat paper protection.
By squatting over the toilet seat as though I was about to sit, I was able to paper its surface with no unnecessary flushing. The only drawback to this method, is that you are essentially papering the seat backwards which lends itself to haphazard placement of toilet tissue.
At that point, if I wasn't already so exhausted, I might have tried squatting over the seat facing the toilet, properly placing the paper, and then attempting a split-second-hopscotch-half-turn and landing seated, properly facing the door.
I can only aspire to such calisthenics.

By the time I was safely seated, the urge to pee had passed,
but I wasn't about to give up what had now become
'the safest seat in the house.'
As I waited, I pondered whether or not the men's room was privy to the same folly in regards to flushing and papering.
When I finally returned to my post (relieved and exhausted),
I discreetly asked a male colleague about men's room amenities.
As it turns out, their facility is standing room only, save for one traditional commode equipped with an automatic flusher. However, there are no "Rest Assured" receptacles to speak of.
In fact, he had no knowledge such a product exists; which begs the question, are we the sole recipients of such complex toiletries simply because we are the smarter sex?
Perhaps that is fodder for another post, but I would argue that
intelligence is hardly the issue where restroom amenities are concerned.
The bigger question to ask ourselves is this:
Have we really become a culture too lazy, or too preoccupied to flush our own toilets?
I dare suggest we have.

And if that's the case, rest assured,
I'll have the calf muscles to prove it.

This is my truth;


Monday, October 5, 2009

I Need a Little Happy

As our entire community mourns the unexpected loss of our neighbor and friend, a forty-something, happily married, mom of four boys, I struggle to find some semblance of normalcy on my least favorite day of the week, Monday.
Perhaps Monday (or any other day), should be my new favorite day, for the simple fact that I wake up.
It beats the alternative, doesn't it?
Grief is a funny thing.
Really, as funny as it ISN'T --it is.
It makes us reexamine our own shortcomings and forces us to appreciate, if only for a short while, those blessings we might well have misinterpreted as burdens just days before.
The mundane chore, the seemingly dead-end job, and even that derailed friendship are seen in a new light of hopefulness.
And I have to ask myself, am I that naive?
Dare I believe that I might cheat death by simply loving more and living better?
I know the answer to that, just as you do, and so I hold strong to my faith and convince myself that even the smallest changes will point me in the right direction.
Self-renewal however, does little to quell the sadness of an untimely loss-- precisely why I started my day today looking for a little happy.

On any given day, I have a running mental list of all those tasks I should have completed, but didn't.
Somehow, that list never seems to get any shorter.
Today, I completed one of those tasks.
Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of my list.

I chose the happy task of sending my sister
(newly relocated to Georgia) and her betrothed,
a Best of Luck in Your New Home gift (though two weeks overdue).
I took the safe route and sent a gift any transplanted New Yorker would love--a box of bagels shipped overnight from an uber-popular Manhattan bakery.
These are the real deal, complete with Manhattan price tag. What should have been an easy order however, turned into a phone-a-gift fiasco that I won't soon forget.
Apparently, multi-grain bagels aren't as popular as I expected where gift-giving is concerned.
My request for "healthier" bagels (yes, I'm aware of the oxymoron) prompted redirection to management and a long enough hold time for me to compose a little ditty to be penned on the enclosed gift card.
At first, I questioned the political correctness of my sentiment, but my phone hostess, 'Amaryllis,' seemed unruffled as I recited my breakfast-napkin prose and so, for the sake of feel-good folly, I made no revisions.
Before I leave you with my jaunty rhyme, I need to explain that the happy part of this task wasn't simply the joy of wishing my relocated sister a bright future, but also a celebration of the past; a past once dismissed as fond but hopeless memories.
Once high school sweethearts (followed by a twenty-two year hiatus), my sister and her betrothed have reconnected, recommitted, and seem more in love than they were in the days of tacky leisure suits and buffalo sandals. Their love story is the stuff great movies are made of.
I would be hard pressed to find a more perfect couple, or one so deserving of a big dose of happy.

Perhaps their reunion might serve as a lesson for those of us who grieve.
Whether we grieve for a lost friend or a lost friendship, it is never too late to remain hopeful.
Though hopefulness cannot bring back our loved ones, or even mend fences, it is the catalyst for healing.

And I'm hopeful that hopefulness will put me on the fast track to happy.

This is My Truth;


*I know you've been waiting with bated breath-
Here's the sentiment as it appeared on their gift card:

"To a shiksa and her goy
Who very soon will wed
We wish you decades of joy
And breakfasts in bed."