Living in the Question…

Staying in the not knowing is painstakingly hard. I hate it. Most of my friends do too.

I attempt to correct this unpleasantness with lots of figuring out of things. Making pro and con lists. Getting others opinions. Imagining into the future. Anything to know.

Living in the question is an act of faith. I have to trust that I will know when I am ready to know. That takes a tremendous amount of confidence…in me. It also means I must remain open to all possibilities, not just the narrow the options I have selected so I feel more comfortable.

My new daughter in law is struggling with some career decisions. She wants to know what she should do…now! She goes back and forth, up and down, trying to know the right choice.

I heard myself tell her that what she has to be willing to do is live in the question until the answer appears. I assured her it would.

I felt like the wise sage offering advise to the fair maiden. Advise born of 5 ½ decades of figuring out life…sometimes more successfully than others. Life takes its own time and its own route and we are best served by being willing companions to the ride.

I like knowing this.
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Putting on the Ritz….

You don’t know what you don’t know.

You don’t miss what you never had.

But once you know you can never not know.

So it was for me.

Tom and I celebrated our anniversary at the Ritz. I had never been before. I adjusted quite easily to living in the lap of opulence, my every want catered to. It was quite addicting.

Yet old habits do die hard. The first day I tried to clear my dishes at the included-in-the-price-of-the-room Club Lounge that offered elegantly displayed delectable light fare all day ending with dessert and cordials in the evening. I discretely determined self clean-up was not protocol when I couldn’t find the Panera-like silverware and dish bins. The cloth napkins and glassware also informed me I would not need to decipher a multi labeled recycle bin, unsure of where to dump the paper, plastics and compostables.

So, I graciously rose from my seat, thanked the server and strolled out of the keyed door acting as if I had done this since birth. Once out in the dimly lit, peacock feather ensconced hallway, I grabbed Toms arm like an excited child insisting we did that again. What an elegant treat. And it was free…in a way.

Because of the two weddings, two weeks apart, Tom and I decided to postpone our anniversary celebration until we could put our hearts into it.

Supporting that decision was a gift from Lincoln — the car maker. We recently bought a Lincoln MKZ Hybrid and because we had to wait 8 weeks for delivery, Lincoln gifted us with an overnight stay at the Ritz and $350 for expenses. Not bad, huh?

So we drove our new car to Boston, a city I have flown into on my way to Cape Cod, but IMG_1083never spent time exploring. We walked Boston Commons, today resplendent with a magical carousel of sea horses, roosters, and rabbits, but where public executions once were held, women were convicted of consorting with the devil and expunged and Matoonas, an Algonquian, was tied to a tree and shot. We found the intersection of Joy Street and Beacon Street where Oliver Wendall Holmes proposed to Amelia Lee Jackson by asking her if she would take the long path with him. He went on to say, “If you take the long path with me now, I shall interpret it that we are to part no more.” She accepted, saying, “I will walk the long path with you.” Tom and I reenacted this conversation as we walked their path. We explored the harbor, got ice cream cones and sat to watch young, virile, boy/men practice their skateboarding stunts on the concrete pier.

When we returned to our room, on the 12th floor over looking the city, we were surprised by a bottle of champagne chilling in ice, two fluted glasses and a plate of dark and white chocolate covered strawberries. Next to strawberries was hand addressed note, written in the expert penmanship of a 2nd grade teacher, wishing us a happy anniversary.

I was enchanted.

And disturbed.

I don’t know how much the room cost but the room allowance on the Lincoln voucher was for $750.00.  One night here could feed a small village.

I wanted to a find monument in the commons apologizing to the women and Native American that died due to ignorance and hatred instead memorials to war heroes. I wanted to challenge all of us at the Ritz for spending this kind of money on an overnight stay. I loved the opulence and felt its seduction. I felt concern for the young children, drinking the orange and thyme infused water in the lobby, that they would think this normal fare. And perhaps it is for them, but, I wondered, what happens if they cannot support themselves in this manner when they reach the age of self reliance. Will they resent the Red Roof Inn they take their families to on their vacations?

You can take the girl out of middle class, but you can’t take the middle class out of the girl. And, sometime I just think too much.

I gave space to my contradictions, knowing more about myself as a result and then let it all go, enjoying the hell out of our brief stay. Grateful for the gift and the tale to tell.

 
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Now I know how Eve felt, I had to have that apple…

I witnessed something very odd yesterday. A loose line of women, standing outside the door of a small shack-like building, waiting patiently while holding a previously on-line acquired entry ticket — permission to step foot over the threshold — talking quietly, like they were in a sacred place, comparing past purchases which they fondled lovingly on their wrists.

Hell I didn’t just witness it. I experienced it. I was one of them. Standing in line. Waiting. Growing anxious with anticipation hearing the stories of the women who had come before me as they exposed their wrists, stacked full by years of making the trek to purchase the latest Cape Cod Bracelet. I tried to sneak a peak into the wooden building, able to see only a few glass cases with shining objects calling to me across the distance. Patricia…PatriCIA…PATRICIA…I was intrigued and caught in the spell.

As Debbie and I made it to the threshold we were told to wait there, no craning our necks to get closer to the holy grail. The woman behind us, who was a seasoned veteran at this, quietly warned us about the keepers of the gate, the centennials of the hand made bobbles. “The sales women,” she said, “are not very nice.”

So there I stood. Part of me chomping at the bit to be permitted permission to enter the garden of Eden — the stores name is…wait for it…. East of Eden. Each hand made piece is stamped EDEN. That is how you decipher original Cape Cod Bracelets from their imitation counter parts.

The other part of me was amazed at myself and my fellow women. We were begging to spend our money, cajoling the Knights of Templar to show us the gold and silver. We had to have it. I mused with Debbie, then and for several days later, the marketing masterpiece they had concocted. Tickets to enter the store where grouchy women make you feel grateful for their attention. How did they do this?

I found out about this place earlier in the week while renting kayaks. The young woman at the counter had on a great bracelet. It was a fish. I admired it. She then introduced me to the phenomenon of East of Eden. “Get a ticket,” she said, “You can’t get in without one.” Of course I went home and googled the store, read the website explaining the need to obtain a ticket at least 2 weeks prior to visiting. The tickets for this season, however, were gone. Huh. Doesn’t that make me want it more? Brilliant.

I told Deb about the fish bracelet I had seen, knowing she would love it and to find out if she knew anything about this place. She didn’t, but suggested that tomorrow, while Tom and Jamie were golfing, we head up there. Sure, why not? I had to see this place.

We map quested the address and after some pulling into wrong driveways we found it. No signage on the road. I guess the Garden of Eden needs no advertising.

We slunk our way up to the woman standing in the front lawn, obviously in charge with her note pad and pencil. With our eyes averted we humbly explained we had no ticket and we understood if we needed to leave but we had heard so much about this place that we had to come.

She sighed a heavy sigh, looked us up and down, and said since the line was not too long we could join the others.

We had been granted access to EDEN.

It looks a bit like a serpent in this picture...hmmm

It looks a bit like a serpent in this picture…hmmm

We each bought a piece. After all that how could we not? I bought the fish bracelet with an onyx eye. Debbie a fish ring, a traditional Cape Cod ball ring and a pair of earrings for her sister’s birthday.

The rest of the week we admired each others acquisitions as well as our own. We had succumbed to masterful marketing, entered the Garden of Eden, ate of the fruit and returned triumphant with treasures.

 

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Show Down in Savannah

We left Savannah Island at 9:30 am to begin the first leg of the 12 hour trip north to Pittsburgh. Our plan was to leave early so we could get to Savannah by 10. We had some last minute shopping to do. Tom’s favorite Broughton Street men’s store was having a moving sale and he wanted to check out. I had seen a folkloric, Haitian steel drum mermaid that I wanted to pick up for what is becoming my mermaid collection.

Finding parking was impossible. Little did we know it was graduation day for the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). We circled and swore for over a half hour. Finally we saw an open spot, but it was the wrong way on a one way street. I decided our best course of action was for me to jump out and stake our claim. I would hold it, Tom would circle the block to come at it the right way.

There I stood. I should have had a flag. Perhaps a Union flag. I felt  proud claiming ownership of this metered space.

Until…

A HUGE Ford 150 roughneck truck, the color of the eyes of a blue eyed Barbie, pulled up and began to back into where I was standing. I waved my arms while yelling, “WHOA.” He kept coming. The top of his tail gate was the height of my armpits.

Years ago I had a similar vehicle versus me encounter. It was at the kids bus stop. One of the neighborhood dads would drive his kids and wait with them until the bus came. When the bus arrived, his kids would jump out and run, with all the other kids, to the waiting bus. Despite the bus’s blinking red lights and protective arm stretched out like a mom reaching across the front seat, this dad would pull out and take off down the road.

One morning I had had enough. I casually stood in front of his car, sipping my coffee, waiting for the bus to arrive. The bus came. The kids ran. He put his car in gear and headed toward me. I planted my feet, looked at him through his windshield, pointing to the blinking bus to make my point. I knew I had the law on my side.

He kept coming.

I remember thinking to myself, “He is gong to hit me and it is really going to hurt.” Regardless, my feet didn’t move. I was riveted to the spot. He began shouting at me. I shouted back. By the time we were finished making our points, the bus had left. I stepped aside and let him pass.

So it went with the large southern man in his over sized, compensating for something, truck. He informed me, through his rear cab window, that I couldn’t save this parking place. I told him I could…because I was… little did he know that where I come from people save parking spaces, quite frequently, using plastic lawn chairs. I explained, over the roar of his engine, that we had been looking for parking for half an hour and I was waiting for my husband.

His face got redder and he raised his voice to bully level telling me that since he was there, with his truck, he gets the spot. I explained since I was there first, I get the spot. All the while, I was on the phone with Tom, directing him to the cross streets and explaining that a very mad guy wanted our place, so he had to hurry.

Again, my feet were stuck to the pavement. It wasn’t even a conscious choice. I remember thinking, possession is 9/10’s of the law, as my body stood her ground. I told Tom, as my heart pounded, “This Southern guy, in his big truck, is going to hit me.”

Call it chivalry or perhaps Southern awhner, but when truck dude heard that he yelled, “ I’m not gonna hit you.”  With that he gunned his engine and peeled off. “Damned Yankee,” I imagined him cursing as he stepped on the gas.

Tom found me a few minutes later and slipped our sleek new Lincoln hybrid quietly into the spot. I was glad to see him.

As we gathered our things to go shop, the owner of the tanning salon across the street came out and said he had seen the whole thing.

He congratulated me for holding my ground.

Perhaps it was my Southern blood bubbling again.

Y’all come back, ya hear

 
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I will ask, I will, I will, I will…

A couple of months ago I went with my friend Babs to hear Linda Babcock, the Carnegie Melon author of Ask For It.

Ask For It is about how women can use the power of negotiation to get what they really want. It explains that we don’t get raises, promotions, or parley good employment packages because we don’t ask. Men do. The book provides story after story of women not asking and therefore not receiving.

I read most of the book and practiced some of the exercises strengthening this asking muscle in myself. As a result, I negotiated a higher rate of reimbursement with an insurance company, Tom and I bargained $2700 off our new car, and I sold some items on Craig’s list getting my asking price.

I was proud of myself and my new skill. I had asked and It had paid off. But it hadn’t come naturally.

Two weeks ago I went shopping with my future daughter-in-law for my mother-of-the-groom dress. Now you must know, there is an etiquette, generations old, to consider in the selection of this one dress. I will save the details for another post.

Today I want to tell you a different story.

While Lauren and I were shopping for my dress, I spotted an adorable, white sequined dress, that reminded me of her–she loves sparkle. I didn’t show it to her since we were on a mission involving me and I didn’t want to derail the process. As we walked to the next store we talked about the rehearsal dinner. She mentioned she wanted to wear white and she wanted it to be sparkly. We immediately turned around and retraced our steps to the store we had just left. I knew this was her dress.

She tried it on and it was one of those OMG moments. She looked beautiful, sexy, and very happy in this sweet, little (very little) dress. She turned to look at herself from every angle in the full length mirror, her smile getting bigger and broader. It was her dress. We both knew it.

Then she looked at the price tag. Her face fell. $320.00.

“I can’t spend that much on a dress just for the rehearsal dinner.”

I became one of those dangerous women to shop with. “You could also wear it on your honeymoon and on New Year’s Eve, you could even wear it out on the town. It will never go out of style.” I worked to convince her.

Her smile returned slightly, but I could tell she wasn’t sold. I admired her sense of fiscal responsibility, but I really wanted her to have this dress. I offered to give her $100.00 toward it. She said no, she couldn’t do that.

She continued to argue the pros and cons of spending too much on something she really wanted. I knew this place in myself and did not envy her. As she took off the dress it seemed she had reached her decision.

Then, from my seat in the dressing room, I watched her drape her dream dress over her arm and walk up to the sales girl that had been helping her. “I really love this dress, it is my dress, but I can’t pay $320.00 for a dress right now. Is there anyway I can have a discount?” she asked.

I sat in awe. There was no sale rack or discount sign in the window, this was clearly a this-season dress and Lauren still thought to, was comfortable enough to, ask for a price reduction. My mouth hung open. Wow.

The young women cheerfully explained that if it was Lauren’s birthday month she could have 20% off. Lauren shook her head slowly, “My birthday is in July,” she confessed. The sales girl looked at me, “December,” I reluctantly admitted.  “My fiancee’s birthday is in March,” Lauren offered, hope laced through every word. I confirmed this, saying it was true, I knew because he’s my son. I guess I thought a mom in the mix might help…I really wanted to help her get this dress.

“Okay, have him come in before the end of the month and we can give you 20% off the dress.”

It was March 31st.

My mind was racing. There had to be a way. Finally, I suggested we call him and he could send a picture of his drivers license with proof of his March birth — the perks of modern technology. The now weary looking sales girl said she would need to ask her manager.

She came back with a bounce in her step. The manager had approved the discount without evidence of someone in our family tree having a March birthday.

Lauren paid for and walked out of the store with her dress. All because she asked.

And she didn’t even read the book.

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I should be…

A friend of mine recently returned from a trip toThailand where she volunteered, for a week, at an elephant sanctuary, caring for elephants that had been rescued from the tourist and logging industries. I listened intently as she told her stories, her excitement was contagious. I felt my desire to plan my own trip; even my willingness to tolerate the 25 hour flight that she said was worse than horrendous. I wondered if Tom would be interested in going with me. I quickly knew the answer and began considering my list of traveling friends that might want to join me.

Marcie described the beauty of the location of the sanctuary, the plight of elephants, and imagesthe amazing 4’8” woman than conceived of, created and managed the place. Apparently this tiny woman also rescued 200 dogs from the flood in Bangkok in 2011. Marcie said the dogs followed this woman around like the Pied Piper, as did the elephants.

I was enthralled. I was also busy doing mental math, robbing Peter to pay Paul to finance my trip. I had to do this. Elephants have always brought me to tears with their giant tenderness and sense of family. They have been one of my animal teachers.

Marcie detailed the responsibilities of the volunteers. She talked about the ditches they dug in the sanctuary; about the 45 minute trips, standing in the back of a pickup truck driving to the corn fields where they cut and baled the corn for the elephants to eat; how, after baling the corn, they lifted the bales onto their shoulders and carried them to the waiting pickup, heaving them into the truck bed. At the end of the 8 hour day, in 100 degree heat, the group rode on top of the bales back to the sanctuary. Marcie described the scenery, from her place high atop the bales, as magnificent. I felt worried that she could have fallen off.

My excitement had begun to wane. I pictured myself there. With the elephants, in the corn fields, doing these chores. Just thinking about it made my back hurt. I questioned myself if I would have the strength to lift corn stalks to my shoulder, carry them to a pick up bed and throw them in? I doubted my stamina to do physical labor all day in the tropical heat. I imagined how sore I would be at the end of a day. I was already sweating.

I began to feel old. Very old. And weak. Maybe I wouldn’t go after all.

I comforted my wounded self image by reminding myself that I used to I lift and haul like an Amazon woman. If a washer needed to be moved, wood hauled and stacked, a room images-1rearranged, a house built, a driveway shoveled, or a septic systems cleaned, I was your gal. I did it all. I took pride in my physical strength and my willingness to do-what-it-took to get a job done. It assured me I was not my mother’s daughter, who was a pampered princess. As a child, her mantra to me was, be careful you, you will hurt yourself.

I decided at an early age I would be strong.

Listening to Marcie I began to feel my physical vulnerability for the first time. Had I become my mom? I stewed on this for a few days. It occurred to me that I haven’t mowed a lawn in 4 years — and am really okay with this. How Tom insists on carrying the heaviest of the grocery bags into the house and I let him. How, sometimes, I even ask him to open the pickle jar because I don’t want to re-injure my hand.

OMG. Have I become a wimp?

I decided I would make myself go to Thailand. Maybe for two weeks. I would prove to myself I could still survive hard work…and misery.

Then it occurred to me, like a light bulb turning on as you open the refrigerator door — What if I didn’t want to do heavy lifting any more? What if the question was not, could I, but, did I want to

My wattage increased with the brilliance of this question. I was so busy not being mom, that I never asked myself, Did I want to be an Amazonian? Perhaps sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t.

Marcie assured me I would be physically able to do the work she described.

The question has now become, “Do I want to?”
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I just went for salad and got a life lesson….

On my way to work I stopped at the grocery store, heading directly to the salad bar, my habituated lunch choice. Once there, I noticed a woman standing a few feet from the earth-friendly paper boxes I needed. It looked as though she was simply waiting for her friend, who was a few feet from her at the bread counter.

I said, “Excuse me,” to her, paused momentarily, and then stepped between her and the much needed salad box. As I pulled the top box from the stack, she said, “Well, pardon me.” Accent on the WELL.

I felt the agitation in her voice. She was telling me I had rudely moved into her space. I held my breath and felt my own irritation with her as I recognized this as a choice point. How do I choose to respond? Do I apologize for my perceived affront or do I assert my intention? I took a moment.

I often base my decision, in these awkward moments, on my mood at the time. I am not proud of this method of determining my next move. I know I should base it on the highest good for all man and woman-kind. I should engage with her and explain myself. I should be nice. I should be relational. I should. I should.

Instead of what I should have done, I went with my tired, pissy and in-a-hurry mood. I responded with equal exasperation. I spoke over my shoulder to her, “I said excuse me.” Accent on the SAID.

She responded,”Well, I didn’t hear you.” Accent on the WELL, I DIDN’T HEAR YOU.

By this time I was half way down the first side of the salad bar. I had my spring mix, grapeimages tomatoes, peas and was scooping-up some chick peas, answering her in my head, “Well, is it my job to make sure you hear me? How am I supposed to know you didn’t? Why didn’t you just move when you saw me headed for the salad boxes?”

I was working myself into a fit. How dare she!!!

Another choice point. Do I say any of this to her? Do I share my grumpy disposition further? Or do I save it for later when I need to I argue with Verizon about this months’ bill? I wasn’t sure I wanted to unload on a random woman at the salad bar.

As I was contemplating my next move and heaping coals on my defense, her friend came quietly up beside me. “Please let me apologize for my friends behavior,” she said, “she has dementia and this is not a good day for her.”

I was mortified with myself.

I looked this woman in the eye and told her it was really okay, I understood and thanked her for telling me.

I was ashamed. I was also extremely grateful I kept my indignation to myself; fully aware that my silence was not due to my niceness but to my indecisiveness.

I finished making my salad. Quietly. Humbly. I began to judge myself, telling myself what an awful person I am for being mean to a woman with dementia. Why couldn’t I just be nice? What was the big deal? So she said something snarky, couldn’t I have just risen above it, been my higher self?

As I moved toward the 10-items-or-less check out line, I stopped at the baked goods to bag a chocolate chip, pecan cookie, not that I deserved dessert after my bad behavior, and found myself standing next to the same two women. I overheard their loving interaction with each other. I was touched. I noticed how the woman that that approached me took care of her friend. They, too, were after something sweet.

In that moment of feeding our mutual sweet tooth’s, I felt our mutual humanness and fragility. I recognized how our humanity is sometimes the good news and other times the bad news.

I realized I can, or will, be my highest self…unless I am not. But, it is my job to take responsibility for both. Most of us are really trying doing our best. Everyday. Sometimes our best is lovely. Sometimes our best is not so great.

If I keep that in mind, I will be gentler with your humanness…as well as my own.

Humbly Yours,

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Decisions can be hard…

Assignment #2. In 5 minutes write down 20 experiences you have had in your life. Pick the one that has the most interest to you and write for 15 minutes without stopping. Do this 3-4 times. Then pick one of the free writes and develop it into a personal essay.

Here is the one I choose to write on..

I know I could have found a more psychologically astute way of deciding the fate of my marriage. Wisdom from an elder aunt. Perhaps an article in the Huffington Post. Maybe a TED talk about how to decide when to end your marriage. Hell, even a Dr. Phil episode. In the absence of such guidance, I was left to my own devises. I did what I knew how to do.

Several years earlier, Pete and I had separated for 6 weeks, a trail separation…of sorts. He rented a recently renovated, off season vacation cabin. It was lovely. A small stream ran along side the back deck and bedroom. At the end of the 6 weeks he moved back home. I was glad for the illusion of being happily reconciled.

In 2001 we separated again. This time more seriously. He rented a dull apartment with a years lease. The plan was clear. This was to be a “working” separation, not to end in divorce, but to solve my 20 year long dissatisfaction. We agreed not date other people.  We continued with weekly marital therapy. I was hopeful this would work.

At the end of the lease Pete came home. Our relief was palpable. I am not sure our love was. I just know I wanted it to be.

A year later we were back where we relationally started. I was full of blame, silence and not so veiled hostility. I began to notice my fantasies while driving my commute to Pittsburgh…maybe this will be the trip that the oncoming truck crosses the grass medium and hits me. I didn’t really want to die, I just didn’t want to be here anymore. I was desperate. I had been for a while. I was finally letting myself feel it. I couldn’t imagine making the changes that were needed to afford me my happiness. So these fantasies filled in.

About the same time I had begun working with a new doctor. During one of my visits, while we were discussing an “area” in my left breast that was of concern to her, she asked if it were possible that I might want to “check out” using breast cancer as my way to go. I straightened my back defensively, pulling myself away from the chair. She assured me she held no judgement. She simply wanted me to be conscious of the choice I may be making. She knew I was unhappy. We had talked about it in previous visits. I had told her that my marriage was empty. That I lived in a remote area where I was lonely. That I was overwhelmed, anxious and very, very sad. I settled a bit back into my chair. I agreed to think about it.

I don’t believe we give ourselves cancer or any other illness. I do believe that illness is a wake up call, an opportunity to make changes in ourselves and our lives. So I let myself get curious. What if I did want to check out? What if I got breast cancer? Breast cancer was certainly an honorable way to go. No one could fault me for dying of cancer and leaving 2 kids behind, but they could judge me for blowing up a 23 year marriage and family.

What if this was my unconscious plan?

I decided my kids would fare divorce better than my death, so on Halloween morning, 2003, I knew it was time to deal with me…this…it. I had to decide whether or not to end my marriage. So I did what I knew how to do.

On two small pieces of paper, each the same size, I wrote STAY on one and PREPARE TO LEAVE on the other. I knew I wasn’t ready to leave-leave, because of the kids, but I was ready to begin to prepare myself.

I folded each precious piece of that white note pad paper exactly the same way. Over the years of developing this technique I found uniformity important to prevent conscious or unconscious choosing (resulting in invalid conclusions). I cupped the prophetic  squares in my hands, said a prayer for wisdom for the highest good for all involved and tossed my pending future together. I opened my joined hands a bit wider asking the Divine to allow my answer to leap to it’s freedom. I shook a bit harder.

Within seconds one hit the floor.

I stared at it. My fate was in it’s folds.

What if it said Prepare to leave? My heart caught. Could I?

What if it said Stay?

In that moment I knew. I was more afraid of the words stay than leave.

I had my answer. I knelt down and gingerly opened the folded white paper.

Prepare to leave.

10 months later we separated and then divorced…for good.

 

For good.

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So, like my mother before me…

Tom and I left for Washington, DC last Friday afternoon in the snow storm. A good friend of Tom’s was retiring and we were going to his party. We rented a small SUV that Enterprise bumped up to a mega bus-free of charge. At first Tom complained about driving a F@*#ing truck, but soon settled as the road conditions worsened.

imagesSomewhere mid Pennsylvania we stopped for gas. While we got out of the car Tom shared his Uncle Paul’s remedy for dirty, icy windshields. Coca Cola. “Oh,” I said, casually thinking that was the stupidest thing I had ever heard. First, because Tom and his Uncle Paul are from Georgia, what do they know about snow in the deep south and second, Yankees make wind shield wiper fluid that works amazingly well.

As I walked into the convenience store to use the bathroom, Tom yelled, “Get some Coke while you are in there.” Tom doesn’t drink Coke so I gathered he wanted me to buy the sugary drink for windshield purposes. “Are you serious?” I yelled back. Sternly, more sternly than is usual for Tom, he yelled back, “YES and get a big one.”

As I headed to the soda case I concerned myself with the definition of big. Was he planning to dump the Coke into the wiper reservoir or simply splash it on the windshield? I decided if it were the former I would put my foot down on his southern solution. Every Yankee worth her salt knows soda in the wiper washer system would  gum up the works. But, if he felt better following Uncle Paul’s example and splashing Coca Cola on the window, I would keep my mouth shut. I selected what I thought was a middle of the road size bottle, too small to empty into the fluid keeper, but large enough for Tom to believe I was taking his and Uncle Paul’s sage advice seriously.

I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face as I paid for the Coke. Perhaps they didn’t make blue liquid in big bottles in Uncle Paul’s day. I climbed up into the passengers seat, jammed the Coke into the too small cup holder, and off we went.

About an hour later we ran out of wind shield wiper fluid.

“Where’s the Coke?” Tom asked.

Trying desperately to hide my grin, I un-wedged the bottle, “Here.”

“Open your window and throw it on the windshield.”

Silence. (I couldn’t speak.)

“Throw it on the windshield.”

Okay, he was serious. This man from Georgia; who I just bought an Icelandic temperature rated down coat because he is always freezing “up north”; who does’t know when you run out of wiper fluid you turn the wipers off so the road grime doesn’t smear into an opaque curtain across the windshield; who drove minimally in the snow before he met me with my 4 wheel drive CRV because he drove an adorable little convertible that couldn’t get out of the driveway in the rain, wanted me to stick my hand out the car window and throw Coke.

I instantly flashed to my childhood.

When my family took road trips we did not stop to pee, dad refused. Instead there was a handy dandy “pee pot”, aka mayonnaise jar, we used when nature called. On one particular trip I had to tee tee, that’s we called it. Mom climbed into the back seat, held the pee pot for me and I tinkled. After I filled the jar mom reached the bottle out of the front seat window and tossed the liquid. My pee aerodynamically found the first available opening, the back seat passenger window, where mom and I sat. We were covered in tee tee.

Dad, who was from Alabama, stopped the car.

So like my mother before me, I opened the window and threw Coke on the windshield. However I began laughing so hard it was difficult to do. I held really tight, calmed my self down and tossed. Boy Jov it worked. The 6 inch by 6 inch, upper right hand corner of the wind shied, where the coke hit at our high rate of speed, cleared. Unfortunately we still could not see the road in front of us.

I suggested we stop to get the blue stuff they sell up north for times such as these.

Tom agreed. Then took a sip of Coke.

Still grinning,

waxseal2

 

 

 

Another New Year’s Resolution

I have been wondering about my New Year’s resolution for 2013. I usually have several in mind by now, something to do with time management, a regular spiritual practice-which will bring me into the present moment and of course the ever constant, increase my gym attendance. Some years my New Year’s pact has included writing a book, learning to debone a duck, a la Julia Child, find the best hamburger in the world, and learn to type. Sadly these were not consummated.

In 2011 I changed it up. I resolved to sign my name neatly, every time, after I swiped my credit card through the payment pad in the drug stores, grocery stores, clothing stores, I frequent. My thinking…it would slow me down in the check out line so I would remember to breathe at least once that day, as well as, act as an experiment, of sorts, determining if I could, by the end of 2011, master the art of legible touch screen signature signing. I did rather well with this, 2011 was one of my more accomplished years, resolution-ally speaking.

In 2012, I know I made some, unfortunately I don’t remember what they were.

I have been wondering what promise to shepherd into 2013. I composed some birthday declarations earlier in December, so I feel a bit resolution redundant.

However, I just read an article http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/good-news/chain-reaction-tim-hortons-goodwill-183517438.html that gave me a possible idea for a new, never before done by me, New Year’s intention.

Once a week I will pay a kindness forward. 

(If this were a movie and you were listening to the soundtrack, a needle was just pulled across the vinyl record. EEECCCCCHHHHHH)

All my failed New Year’s resolutions pass before my eyes. Unfulfilled promises to myself. Disappointments felt as I reread the lofty list, written by me, a well meaning, albeit naive, woman on the last night of the year. High hopes not reached. To further my shame, if I tell all of you I am going to commit to this weekly practice and I wimp out or forget or just don’t want to do it anymore, my ignominious rout will be public.

Perhaps I should simply pledge to put gas in my car each week and have another successful year.

The good news, or the bad-not quite sure sometimes-is I am not one to turn away from a challenge. I have thrown the resolution quantlet at my feet. I accept my challenge.

In 2013, I will pay a kindness forward, I will offer random acts of kindness, I will attempt to make someone’s day more pleasant…at least once a week. And I will keep you all posted on my progress…or lack thereof.

Would any of you like to join me by sharing your resolution for 2013? Putting it in print  certainly ups the ante. (Again the good news and the bad.) And if you do, I won’t feel so “out there” by myself…nothing like a little New Year’s guilt.

Wishing you the year you dream of,
waxseal2