Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Other Side of the Lemonade Stand (aka The Canary in the Coal Mine and Other Aviary Atrocities)

The food truck vendor was even more charming than usual tonight.  When asked how my day had been, he was not satisfied with my brief but courteous "meh", he wanted to know more about why it had been so.  As sincere as he was, I still wasn't sure how I was going to explain to him the source of my lament, which just so happened to be:  "I didn't stop at the lemonade stands."

See what I mean?  Even you look perplexed.

I will try to explain.

Many years ago (like 39) I spent a blistering summer afternoon watching my first lemonade stand fail miserably. As I sat there and watched car after car drive by without stopping, disillusionment began to creep in. So I did what little kids everywhere do when they don't understand grown-up behavior...I promised myself that when I grew up, I would stop at EVERY lemonade stand that I passed.

I will confess, over the years I have broken more promises to little me than I have kept.  Like "I will always shop in the Juniors section" or "I will never ground my kids".  But this one has been different. In fact, it's almost impossible to break. Just the frenetic energy alone that erupts when these young entrepreneurs see a car actually pulling over is enough to make you keep coming back for more.

That is until today, the day that I was just too busy and too stressed to stop.  It was a big day for the stands too. It was the season opener to end all season openers.  It was the first day of summer break PLUS the first day of high temperatures which equaled THREE lemonade stands on my way to and from my errands. It was killing me.  But I passed by every one of them like the traitor that I am.

And I think I could have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for that stupid bird.

So there I was driving and minding my own lemonade-less business when a bird flew out in front of my car.  He was doing that little kamikaze-dive thing that they do sometimes. That thing where they give you a heart attack as they swoop down in front of your car but just when you are about to hit the brakes they pull out of it and fly off laughing to tell their buddies. Right?

Well, not today.  Today the dive was followed by a small thud, or maybe it was more like a thip, but whatever it was it was the sound that little bird heads make when they clip your windshield.  It was the thip of karma. It was the thip that called me out and told me that by not being true to myself I had just unbalanced the universe.  And it came with a question: Was I really that attached to my little stress-fest?  It was 39 years later, and there I was still not understanding grown-up behavior...and this time it was my own.

I learned my lesson, this time from the other side of the lemonade stand.

You know, you don't even have to drink the lemonade. Sometimes it is rather questionable.  But you do have to stop and be a part of the magic of that time honored childhood tradition and all that it symbolizes.  You are giving them more than a quarter and taking more than a cup.

You will see what I mean.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

My Brain Woke Me Up at 2:30 to Tell Me This

You know a great place to be?  In my head.  There lie all my memories.  Wow.  My  memories are amazing!   And also in my head are all my ideas and fantasies.  Oh the things that could be memories, if only I had the guts.  My brain has such grand ideas, almost reckless.  But my heart is always saying “No way, that might hurt. What if you’re the only brain that thinks it’s a good idea?”

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Charlie Hebdo....What's the Score?

"What's your take on Charlie Hebdo, Rosemary?"

It was a fair game and it ended in a tie.

The artists and writers at CH were by no means heroes.  They were bullies, may they rest in peace.  They were very sophisticated, I will give you that...but they were bullies nonetheless.  Their insistence on picking on certain groups was not motivated by some idea that by doing so the world would be a better place. They chose their targets by identifying where they would touch on the most nerves.  Get the biggest reaction.  The biggest adrenaline rush.  If there were no extremist Muslim groups and no death threats, etc. the taunting would have ceased long ago.  The fun would have ended and they'd have been shopping their portfolios and manuscripts around a long time ago, in fact, most of them made their real bread and butter through other publications anyway.

Afterall...it's fashionable to hate the Middle East, and just as delicious to worship French artists and liberals.  It was trendy to idealize the Hebdo victims.  But let's not forget that they were fighting bankruptcy for years.  The French, who aren't as easily romanticized by all things French (for obvious reasons), were not supporting this magazine before the attack.  They were largely ignoring it and it was dying a slow death. 

"But they stood up for their rights, I'd rather die standing up than live kneeling down."  Fine.  Then make cartoons about things like human trafficking and texting while driving, things that really do damage peoples lives irreparably.  Push the limits.  Call out big time criminals by name and their mindless devotees by their shame.   Don't worry...they will probably want to kill you too, if that's what twists your skirt.

"So  are you condoning violence and cold-blooded murder?"  Of course not; no hitting...that's always been my rule.  So the blood-thirsty bullies finally hit the mean-hearted bullies back.  What did you think was going to happen?  It's a tie now.  All's fair play in my book when it's bully vs. bully.

Poking at someone's sore spot until they explode, does not make you a hero. It takes no strength to do that.  Showing kindness, respecting differences and uniting people, on the other hand,  is heroic, SO INCREDIBLY heroic that it takes super-human powers to pull it off most of the time. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

When You're That Tired

"We're at the hardware store now.  We're buying a paint brush."  she says softly and reassuringly.

"Oh...ok."  I reply as I make a conscious effort to process this information correctly.

"Do I have pants on?"  I ask.

"Yes, you do."  She kindly replies.

"Ok...then let's do this."  I commit.

This is one of many conversations that I have had recently...with myself.  You see, when you are that tired, as in sleep deprived for 10 consecutive days kind of tired, things become a little foggy and were it not for mental self-examinations such as the one above, there is no telling what awkward situations you may find yourself in.  Like the time after the birth of my third child in which I found myself at a grocery store check-out stand, blouse completely unbuttoned down to the navel.  I had left the house, driven the car, crossed the parking lot, traipsed through the isles and stood in line...all with my blouse unbuttoned.  Fortunately, we lived in the city at the time and I'm sure that not only had they seen worse, but on a regular basis as well.

From a Fitting Room in Target

Part I

Only a few days remained before the big day; our first wedding!  Our oldest daughter would soon become a Mrs.  Exhausted from all the preparations and running around, I leaned against the outside of the dressing room door and waited while my youngest daughter, who was 14, tried on a new bra inside. 

"Mom, it's all twisted...help me."

She unlocked the door and I stepped in.  What I saw was certainly twisted, but it wasn't the bra strap that had caught my attention. It was her back.  From the depths of my soul, a gasp began to rise up, but my guardian angel promptly clapped her hand over my mouth and stopped me from making a huge mistake.  You see, if your mom hasn't seen your nakedness for a few years and then the first time that she does see it she gasps, or even worse, cries...that's some bad body image juju for sure.

So I pushed back the tears and redirected my focus to the errant strap.

Two days later we were sitting in a doctor's office.  Diagnosis?  Scoliosis, 44 degree curve. Recommendation? Surgery.