Running Free

Running Free

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Luck O' The Irish

Recently, I decided that I was losing my mind. I realized this as I tried to come up with the reasons why I had decided to go back to school and endure two years of grueling work – like five classes that start in a week. Why I was working two jobs – one that I really enjoy which doesn’t pay very much but is really satisfying in a much deeper way and another job that taxes my brain sometimes and makes me feel really dumb. And oh, then the reality of being a mom, chauffeur, wife and sometimes really bad cook.

I realized that trying to be all things to all people at all times means giving up things like matched pairs of socks and cold milk. Cold milk you ask. Cold milk I say.

And this is why I believe I have lost my mind. St. Patrick’s Day- a few days back arrived cool, crisp and clear. I made breakfast for the DS and prepared lunched for DH and DS. I readied myself for work after dutifully planting kisses on cheeks of said husband and son.
Off we trotted to our respective destinations in the wee hours on the day of the Irish. My son to school to learn the golden rule; my husband to work, from which he did not shirk; and me to play with my three year olds hurray!

So we went. And so I returned to the domicile four hours later where I began to unload the dishwasher and put the dishes away. As I opened a cupboard there grinning at me was a face on the side of the milk carton. I wondered what it was doing in there with the plates.

It was a half gallon container. Almost full. Now warm. It was supposed to be in the refrigerator. It was not supposed to be in the cupboard. I scratched my head and truly began to wonder whether I had completely lost my marbles, every single last one.

And this is when I decided to share my latest debacle with my dearest and bestest friend from years back (we are delicate in our doting age of agelessness and shall simplify refer to our friendship as entering a golden period). In any case, I lamented my inability to put a simple carton of milk back from whence it came.

On and on I yowled like a petulant child or a hungry cat. In either case, an email groaning is not a pleasant way to start one’s day or end one’s night. And this being St. Patty’s Day no less. I asked my dearest and best friend whom I shall call Karen Alice, if I was indeed losing my mind. And her answer is below. It says it all and it says why she is indeed my dearest and bestest friend (next to my Dear Husband of course who already has the number for the neighborhood men in white on auto dial – just in case…)

As told to me by Karen Alice:

"well...I'll tell you what my sisters told me when I WAS losing my mind: "No you're not, You're awesome, remember how good you are at______, do something nice for yourself, things will get better....

But on the off chance that you lost your mind and I find it, I'm keeping it... when Nathan was home for weekend and little cousins and such were visiting, the dishes were so high in the sink, I couldn't see out the window, there were so many pillows and blankets on the floor, I couldn't walk, my feet were so sore, but I still didn't get to bed until 12 midnight. and I call that a pretty good, fun weekend!

Maybe the leprechauns will put a wee little spring in your step, I've been warming up my best Irish Brogue all afternoon. Have a wonderful day my special lassie.

I love you,

Karen Alice St. Murphy

Now, I may be losing my mind, but with a friend like Karen Alice, I don't think I can get much luckier than that!

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Good Day

There is a recession going on around the world. We are all in its midst- well, at least I am- and most of the folks I know are as well. We are looking for ways to trim here, snip there.
It is a good thing in some ways. Forcing us all to reevaluate what is important. What really matters. What one really needs to get through not only challenging times but life in general. I am fortunate and I do try not to take what I have been given for granted.
I understand that everything can be swooped out from under one’s feet in the mere breath of a butterfly wing – whoosh.
I was reminded of this recently. I hosted a small brunch for some of my fellow writers. We had become chummy through the UCLA online extension program. We spent three months or what seemed like three months writing and editing each other’s work- all online in that mysterious netherworld of zeros and ones that we call the Internet.

We got to know each other’s styles and got to know each other’s lives a bit – sometimes with perhaps more detail than we cared to know, but part of taking an online writing class in the genre of personal essay is all about learning to share.

We had enough in common that four of us wanted to try and get together once the class ended. The fact that we all lived in southern California also simplified the possible connections as well. And so we did.

We began our 'ladies who write' gatherings over a year ago and we have kept them up – sometimes at someone’s home and sometimes at a restaurant or museum.

It has all been good. These women whom I shall refer to as “Dr. J”, “Lady T” and “Lady G” represent what the newly coined “fempire” world would look like. We may not be thirty anymore and we may not have the name Diablo or Cody as our calling card, but we are fun and mighty with words.

I stand in awe of "Lady G." who has not only finished her first book but has actively sent it out and has gained the interest of several agents. An amazing accomplishment. But she is also a might force of acting- the consummate professional and so amazingly beautiful in a most refreshing and real way. What? you ask - an actor who is real? What an oxymoron. In this case. No. It's the truth. She is the 'real deal.'
Moving on to "Lady T." She is what every good friend should be. A come, take charge and whip me into shape kinda gal. All with a smile and an amazing ability to create works of wonder out of a few bits of string and hemp. And her humor is unparalleled. To take the energy that spouts forth like a gurgling brook from her is to be in the presence of what it means to live and enjoy and to seize the moment. Oh did I mention she has two grown children and looks amazing. You know, that kind of sunny disposition female you want to hate...she is it. Except that you have to love her. At least I do. As do her kids and husband and the list goes on and on....

And then there is the patient curiosity of another writer whose mere presence is truly a reminder to taking life fully. Grabbing it tightly and holding on. I am most humbly reminded of this when “Dr. J.” enters a room. Imagine a soft warm glow of ethereal light bathing its surroundings with a sense of peace and calm. I guess this is what I feel when I am around this incredibly poignant and ever so talented writer. She has depths of understanding and life experience that she has made her own and her fabric- her life’s tapestry is rich in color and vibrant in texture.

Imagine if you will, sitting down to a casual lunch of salad and sandwiches and sweets and of course chocolate covered strawberries- and homemade carrot cake (courtesy of "Dr. J.") and chatting for hours - and hours. Delicious. It was just an amazing flow of conversation on topics of every shape color and weight. And with four different mouths all chatting and sharing there were a thousand more thoughts roaming and waving hands here and there- and we laughed and we shared and we even sniffled a bit.
And it was all good. Like life should be when we are surrounded by beauty and acceptance and honesty and truth. The simple things really.
"Lady T" said it best, “Because despite all that is going on, it is the continued creation of friendships, communication and aesthetics that give value to this life…”

And thanks to the kindest efforts of My DH and DS who poured punch and picked up the food for the soiree, we had a moment bathed in happy warm goodness.

I am indeed a lucky gal.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Two for the Road

There are those out there who know that I am really ‘out there.’ And there are those that think I just think I am really ‘out there.’

But little do they know. If they had to live within the confines of my four walls well then perhaps even after a mere few hours they would realize that the misplaced bottle opener, the half full carton of milk inside the cupboard with the dishes and the dangling pair of mismatched socks in the hall closet are just the tip of the iceberg so to speak.

Try as I might, when my brain starts doodling in a host of dizzying directions the outcome is often hilarious, often unfounded in reality and often, way too often, embarrassing for at least one member of the family.

In a recent episode it was Dear Dear Son (DS). We were meeting friends at the San Diego Wild Animal Park for a photo caravan where we were promised an up close and personal look at white rhinos. We would be allowed to feed them and have a photo taken from the safety of an enclosed truck with a heavy looking deadbolt.

We hopped aboard our trolley of sorts and that is when my gaze drifted downward to the floor of the vehicle. I was scanning feet for some reason unbeknownst to me when I thought what I was seeing was a mirage- so I rubbed my eyes and tried again. In and among a pair of sandals encasing some rather organic looking toenails, a pair of scuffed black boots and a pair of better day sneakers in a washed out shade of salmon, was a pair of sneakers on two legs that I thought was truly creative.

The sneakers, both Nike with the tell tale spiffy Nike boomerang were in two colors. On one foot was a white Nike with a blue boomerang. On the other foot was a slightly dirtier shade of white sneaker complete with a red Nike boomerang.

“How interesting,” thought I. “That is indeed a fresh and new twist to individuality.”

I was musing over this clever and creative take on not being a slave to the fashion masses and let my gaze move upward to the proud owner of this fashion du mode. And that is when I squawked ,“argh.”

Both the tour guide whose name was Jamie and my husband who had been giving me a gentle snuggle as he sat next to me on the bench of our truck looked at me.

My DS was the owner of the mismatched pair of shoes.

At that moment he looked over at me and grimaced.

“Thanks Mom,” he said.

I could share the rest of this story but by now we had reached the innards of Rhino land and I was trying to retrieve my digital camera from the jaws of a very hungry baby white rhino whose mouth was anything but baby like…..

Never a dull moment in my life….

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Oops...I did it again...

I haven’t done it for a while. Come to think about it, it has probably been six or seven months. Maybe even longer.

It’s not like I haven’t been tempted or thought about it, frankly I have tried to avoid situations where I am prone to possibly committing the act.

What act is that you ask? Oh, silly me. I thought you knew. If you have ever been inside a Trader Joe’s store or a local Albertson’s and possibly even a large department store, then you more than likely are in the know and just don’t know it.

Like the time you reached into the freezer section to grab a bottle of milk and whoosh, like a blast of cold air you turn back to your cart to find it has mysteriously, magically, maybe not so magically – disappeared.

Thanks to – yours truly – the cart snatcher.

Now, in my own defense, I will admit that I am not the best at paying attention to what I have placed in my cart or were I have actually left the four wheeled jalopy as I in my own personal quest for organic low fat milk or free range eggs cluck like a chicken examining packaging and expiration dates. I truly can get caught up in the moment and then deposit my items in the nearest cart.

Often not realizing the nearest cart may not be my own.
Until well, take for example yesterday. I was in my neighborhood Trader Joe’s in search of milk. The three half gallons I had bought a mere two days before had disappeared from the homestead. And since I don’t drink milk as a rule, then it had to be the boys in the house – my Dear Husband (DH) and my Dear Son (DS). They need their calcium and must have strong bones.

I was browsing through the Greek yogurt selection in search of the honey flavored one which was my personal favorite. I scored a couple and headed back to my cart- or what I thought was my cart. I didn’t have much time before needing to pick up DS from school so I made a quick maneuver between two little ladies with droopy stockings and a toddler who had had one glass of juice too many when I felt a small tug at my sleeve.

“Excuse me, but I think you took my cart by mistake.”

I turned to see a black haired woman with licorice eyes smiling at me.

“Oops,” I said. “I am so sorry. I have a bad habit of doing that.”

And as I glanced inside the belly of the cart I realized that pork chops and ham would not be items making their way to my house any time soon. And the cat food and cat litter should have been a definite tip off.

“No problem,” said the lady as she steered her cart as far away from me as possible.

“I guess I better go and try and find my cart now,” I said.

And I trotted back from whence I came- the freezer section. There standing forlornly against the free range eggs sign was a cart with a head of orange carrots peeking out from the spokes of the cart. I could see the green carrot hats flopping dejectedly over the side of the front seat of the carriage. And poking up from the rear of the cart were three bottles of milk and two yogurts.

“Oh joy,” I thought to myself.

I noticed that there seemed to be a gap between myself and the rest of the patrons in the store. As if someone had spread the secret that the cart snatcher was on the loose. Beware; guard your cart with your life.

I looked around furtively and did a double step to the checkout counter praying to the grocery gods to let me sink into the floor like any second – like now…..