Running Free

Running Free

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

It's Good to Dream

I like to dream. Especially when looking at one bedroom apartments for sale in the Marais district of Paris. Especially since I know almost exactly where the apartment is located – given the accompanying photos shared with long lusting viewers such as myself courtesy of the The New York Times.

The beastly publication - said with all due respect -since one of my greatest pleasures is sitting in my striped ottoman on Sundays devouring the paper from top to bottom and front to back.

And my homepage on my web browser is set to The New York Times.

But they must shoulder some of the blame for my latest daydreaming and wondering with just how I can come up with a quick mil. As in million – as in Euros….wish I had a rich uncle right about now….Suggestions welcome…

Anyway, today’s front web page had a little section in the right hand corner of the website that caught my eye. Practically anything with the word Paris or Europe will catch the corner of these ol’ eyes, bifocals not withstanding.

With interest piqued I clicked on the link that took me into a world I knew and loved. A world I had become one with just a few short years back. I had walked these same cobbled rues and avenues with my dear Julie, a French daughter of sorts to me- a youngster who had lovingly shared with me this engaging treasure of Paris.

It was very cold as we passed the wonderful jewels of shops, so many tiny gems each sparkling and welcoming in their own Parisian way - the art and the sense of Bohemian joie de vivre.

In Le Marais I bought a pair of leather gloves from a little shop the color of pink taffy where the leather goods were made in the City nearby. The young girl that helped me spoke perfect English and looked like a porcelain doll from a high end catalog. While I do not have much occasion to wear my gloves given that I live in southern California, any excuse – that being a temperature dip to fifty degrees or so I do wear them - and think of Julie and the sense of energy and life that pulsed through every cobblestone we walked on. Every smell of bread and coffee, every well-dressed woman to the college student on his or her bicycle, to every smart car neatly packed into its proper place and time. I touched Le Marais and it touched me.

And now sitting at my desk, safe in the comfort of my little office, viewing the photos of this remarkable one bedroom apartment well, I got to dreaming. At least for a few minutes. Laundry as many of you know, takes no breaks and demands attention – all hours of the day, all days of the week.

And then I thought to myself, tsk, tsk, you have a lovely home that you should be so lucky to own given the uptick in foreclosures in my very neck of the woods. Indeed, some of the neighbors less than a quarter mile away were now stretching their necks ways above the cornfields trying to save their elongated gullets.

So truly, I am content. But as I said, I like to dream.

I can imagine myself humming a little tune as did Leslie Caron in An American in Paris, and I can pretend that I am she. Again, key word being pretend. To wake up and throw open my shutters after a restful sleep and smell the fresh baked croissants wafting up to my nose from the boulangerie down below. And look, over there, Madame Leroux walks her little poodle Fifi .

“Bon jour Madame," says I with a smile and a wave as she looks up and nods. There goes Monsieur Gidot with his bald pate shiney and smooth setting out his daily menu next to his boulangerie.

But all dreams must end. I wake up and remember that my fluency in French is limited to deux mots: “Oui” and “Merci” okay maybe three: “Non.”

The word my DH will surely use more than once in the course of any quackery I may try and throw his way about the smart investment a pied de terre in le Marais would be. One word he is quite fluent in:

“Non.” Imagine Ricky Ricardo telling Lucy, "No" and you can imagine the scene. All the batting of eyelashes will never work. And I have nary a trick that Lucy had- oh if only I did!!!

Ah, C’est la vie…

Join me in my dream if you dare:

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tolerance- Teach it- Preach It- Reach It...

Give us all a reason to love and care about everyone…not just some – this article hit home- I share it with all of my readers – pass it along- especially those of us with children of the same age as these two young little boys- their lives had barely been lived…

April 24, 2009, 3:04 pm

Two Little Boys

By Charles M. Blow

On April 6, just before dinner, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, a Massachusetts boy who had endured relentless homophobic taunts at school, wrapped an extension cord around his tiny neck and hanged himself. He was only 11 years old. His mother had to cut him down.

On April 16, just after school, Jaheem Herrera, a Georgia boy who had also endured relentless homophobic taunts at school, wrapped a fabric belt around his tiny neck and hanged himself as well. He too was only 11 years old. His 10-year-old sister found him.

Two beaming little boys, lost. To intolerance? Too tragic.

The sad ends to their short lives shine a harsh light on the insidious scourge of the homophobic bullying of children.

Children can’t see their budding lives through the long lens of wisdom - the wisdom that benefits from years passed, hurdles overcome, strength summoned, resilience realized, selves discovered and accepted, hearts broken but mended and love experienced in the fullest, truest majesty that the word deserves. For them, the weight of ridicule and ostracism can feel crushing and without the possibility of reprieve. And, in that dark and lonely place, desperate and confused, they can make horrible decisions that can’t be undone.

For as much progress that’s been made on the front of acceptance and tolerance of all people, regardless of our differences, enough hatred remains–tucked in the crags and spread about the surface–to force Carl and Jaheem into the abyss.

We should commit ourselves to ensuring that their deaths are not in vain, that their lives are the last page in this sorry chapter of our development as a people. And, the first step in that direction is to fully understand the scope of the problem.

In short, homophobic bullying is pervasive. It disproportionately affects black and Hispanic kids. A new study suggests an apparent link between bullying and suicide. To wit, black and Hispanic adults who are gay reported higher “serious suicide attempts” than their white counterparts, most of those attempts taking place when they were young.

Let’s look at the data:

According to a 2005 report entitled “From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America” that was commissioned by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, students are more likely to be subjected to homophobic bullying than bullying for most other reasons …

We, as a society, should be ashamed. The bodies of these children lay at our feet. The toxic intolerance of homophobic adults has spilled over into the minds of pre-sexual children, placing undue pressure on the frailest of shoulders. This pressure is particularly acute among young boys who are forced to conform to a perilously narrow concept of masculinity. Or else. My colleague Judith Warner put it best in an online column that she posted after Carl’s death:
“The message to the most vulnerable, the victims of today’s poisonous boy culture, is being heard loud and clear: to be something other than the narrowest, stupidest sort of guy’s guy, is to be unworthy of even being alive.”

Well, no more. All people are worthy just the way they are, the way God and nature made them, the way they see themselves through the truest eye of the soul. We must teach every child, nay every person, that the greatest measure of our own humanity is the degree of human dignity we afford those from whom we are different. A smile, a kind word, a handshake, a hug, understanding and compassion – the simplest acts of goodness can bridge the widest chasms.
These little boys deserved our love. Instead, through the vessels of our children, they were shown our scorn. We failed.

Carl and Jaheem, I will never forget you. I am the father of 11 year-old twins. I will give them extra hugs and kisses tonight in memory of you. I will teach them to be even more tolerant, in memory of you. I will make sure that they know that I am always there if they need an ear or a shoulder, in memory of you. I will let them know, when the waters get choppy, that the storm will always pass, in memory of you. And, I will make sure that they know in no uncertain terms that whomever they grow up to be, I will love them always and forever. This too I will do in memory of you.

We will soldier on in your stead. You rest in ours.

(It should be noted that to my knowledge neither child had self-identified as gay or bisexual at the time of their death, but now it matters not. Whomever they would have been is forever lost to the grave.)

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Friday, April 24, 2009

New Home for Mama

I got to thinking last night. It being my birthday and all. And the fact that the world was mad at me for perceived infractions along the line of not being able to provide a hot dog at nine o’clock at night to a small person. It was time for bed. Not eating. Dinner had been several hours earlier and he had a bag of starburst during the movie we had just come home from watching at the theater.

Thus, a strong string of rants and groans and grunts ensued from said small person’s mouth. It got me to thinking….what would it be like to find a secure, safe place with three square meals a day where I didn’t have to do laundry, didn’t have to worry about bills, didn’t have to worry about unsolicited telemarketers calling me at inopportune

Wouldn’t have to think about keeping the car maintained- where all of my medical needs would be covered and I would be given a supply of clean clothes – uniforms even - where I wouldn’t need to be concerned about labels and keeping up with the latest fashion trend.

The more I thought about this scenario of another world I got to thinking that maybe just maybe, I could finagle a way into the system of permanent healthcare, food rations, good security and no bothersome phone calls. I might even have access to a library where I would have time time to actually read a book...Heaven....

I wouldn’t have to worry about laundry or feeding other folks and making sure that the refrigerator was stocked. I wouldn’t be expected to plan outings and day trips and provide hot dogs to wayward offspring at inopportune and somewhat late hours.

Nope, the more I thought about this idea the more sane and rationale it is beginning to sound. I think I will place a call to our local branch of the government penitentiary and see what qualifications they need for me to become a member.

“Hello, my name is _______________________, I just turned a ripe ol’ fifty and would like to know if there are any openings in your facility?

I promise I don’t snore. I can keep my room clean and will follow all the rules.

What was that you ask? Am I crazy?

Well, I haven’t been certified but maybe you can help assist with that….”

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What would you do....


...If your new favorite pair of Taryn Rose shoes got peed on by your really nice neighbor's really cute little poodle...

(A) Cry?
(B) Say "oh, no problem" like I have plenty more where these came from (HAH!)
(C) Discreetly place your foot in the grass to try and wipe off the fowl stench and stain

...If your wonderful vanilla latte from Starbuck's blew up in the microwave (in the teacher's lounge no less) as you tried to reheat it?

(A) gulp back tears
(B) lap up the liquid as it ran out of the microwave and all over the counter
(C) run to the cleaning closet and get as many towels as you could to mop up the mess and get rid of the evidence before you were accused of trying to blow the place up

...if you started a load of laundry and when you went to take out the supposed clean clothes noticed a peculiar lavender color to everything including the jeans....

(A) Yowl as you realized the culprit of the color change was a tres tres deep purple suede jacket by Ellen Tracy that had been purchased more than a decade ago and was now really vintage and earmarked for DRY cleaning only....
(B) laugh and say "Oh well!"
(C) tell your son that purple is the new white.....

All in a day's life of "This could only happen to me."

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Blind, Batty and...

I wish I were a bat. Or at least had the ability to see with my ears as a bat does. It would have been very handy the other evening driving home from an Easter celebration with friends. The friends live about an hour away. But for some reason, this particular Sunday night meant that 80 miles away was a two and a half hour road trip.

I was the designated driver. I had bought my driving glasses. Without them, I am close to blind. But my glasses make the world clear and sparkly new again. Except, something was wrong with these particular glasses- they seemed to be rather, well, frosted, I don’t really know how to describe it other than to say that I couldn’t see anything other than fuzzy shapes and blurry cars.

I did not have any alcohol in my system – I had stuck to water- and one Buck’s Fizz – more than seven hours earlier. So I knew it couldn’t have anything to do with spirits of the liquid variety. I was perplexed and more than a bit baffled.

My DS had quietly decided to take a respite and was blissfully sleeping in the passenger’s seat and DS was right behind him- figuratively and literally. My driving partners would be of no use to me on this night I could tell.

If I were a bat for example, while my eyes would be small and poorly developed, with visual acuity, I would be able to use my vision as an aid in navigation especially at long distances, beyond the range of echolocation. And goodness knows echolocation would have been most mightily appreciated on what promised to be a long sojourn home.

I felt like Edith Wharton’s character Ethan Frome stuck in a heavy New England snow storm, unable to see more than a few inches in front of him. Luckily, my life has no parallels to his and I was in a car and not a horse drawn wagon.

However, the wagon might have moved more than the fifteen miles an hour I moved for close to thirty miles of the drive home. I guess that in hindsight (no pun intended) it was a good thing given that I lacked vision, night goggles that worked and echolocation.

Well, we made it home in one piece and none the worse for wear.

The next morning I trotted down to the optometrist where I had just purchased this pair of glasses a mere two weeks earlier. The optician was perplexed. Imagine what I was.

I had after all, purchased three pairs of glasses – two of which were for distance- one being a pair of sunglasses, the other a pair for night time driving. The third pair was, I must admit –a pair of – gulp- reading glasses.

Now given that these three pairs of glasses had cost more than a few pennies, I was less than satisfied with the state of affairs. Especially when the call came in a day later telling me that the so-called pair of distance glasses actually contained my reading glass prescription.

“Imagine that,” I said to the optician. “Lucky for me traffic was moving at a snail’s pace for much of the drive home.”

Of course billows of apologies were proffered across the telephone line. I hope that when they come back to me the glasses are the way they are supposed to be.

Bats have it pretty good in my opinion.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Spousal Semantics

I like to walk. In the morning, at night. Both are good.
My DH likes to walk – sometimes. He says he likes to walk in the morning and also in the evening.

The only problem is the semantics of the terms ‘morning’ and ‘evening.’

You see, to me morning means before 6:30 a.m.

To my husband, morning means after 8:00 a.m. I should caveat that walking for my husband is a weekend activity. He is after all, the breadwinner in the family. I am the maker of peanuts (but not the ones causing all of the salmonella poisoning). My earnings are more like peanut shells now that I think about it. But I digress.

By 7:30 a.m. the day is half over, the birds have been chirping, the bees have been buzzing and I have gotten two loads of laundry done – folded if I am on a real roll. I like to get up before the sun and get busy, stop and smell the flowers, listen to the gentle stretch of the leaves as they unfurl their strong green tendrils and wake to another day. I like to become one with the morning. I like to say hello to the bunnies nibbling sweet grass near our home. I like to listen to the soft coo of the morning dove gently wake her spouse.

And speaking of spouse, I do have a technique I have used for years to try and gently coax my DH from the ether world of deep sleep. I give him a gentle kiss on the cheek and a gentle massage along his back.

This is where once more, semantics differ. What I refer to as a gentle loving kiss upon the cheek of my slumbering beloved, my DH refers to as a ‘power suction peck.’
What I refer to as a gentle nudge, DH refers to as an SSR which stands for ‘shake, rattle and roll.’
Now, being that he is of the left hemisphere species and I am of the right hemisphere species, we sometimes are left in a quandary.

By the time my gentle attempts at rousing DH from his supine state take hold, the sun has placed herself high in the sky and is beaming way too bright for this fair skinned maiden to even fathom walking in her Vitamin D-enriched rays.

‘Not to worry’ I console my DH who by now is bright eyed and ready to start his day at an hour where most of the work of the early morning has been done and stowed.

“We can have an evening constitutional,” I say to him with a loving and caring smile.
Being the patient and obliging husband that he is, my dear sweet DH agrees. But the look on his face sometimes is more like someone in a state of well, kidney stone passage.
And thus, the day passes.

Until the appointed walk time. For me night is 6:30, 7:30 p.m.

For DH, it is anything up until the point of actual darkness. Semantics.

I try and explain to DH the wonders of an evening constitutional: the owls calling to each other, the moon silently making her entrance into the night sky. Not to mention the silence of moment, with crickets as a sweet serenade and backdrop to the growing peace of the evening.
But alas, semantics once more creep into the moment and I must bat my lashes such as they are and croon sweet nothings to ask my DH to accompany me on a walk through the trails that surround our home.

It is lovely and calming and very Zen - but alas, once more, the two shall be but ships passing in the night, one heading north, the other heading south.
Recently, my DH and I were on the walking trail that parallels our home and one of the garage doors was open letting us peer in where we were greeted by the sight of a very large television screen and a man on an exercise bike, or maybe he was sitting on the couch. My eyes being what they are, it was hard to tell.

“Now that is what I call a set up,” said DH.

“A place to escape from all the noise and chatter inside the house, a place of one’s own, where you can do what you want, when you want…”

Indeed, I thought to myself.

He didn’t need to say another word. I got his message. Virginia Woolf I am not, but I am happy to walk by myself in the peace of my own company.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Good Day

When my magic carpet left me stranded in the middle of motherhood I really had no idea what kind of ride I was in for. After all, corporate life – deadlines, meetings, business plans, stats and travel were the life that I knew. These things were all containable, all identifiable.

So when Magic Carpet took a wrong turn, and took me along for the ride, I had no idea just how wild a ride it was going to be. If I had only known…

And now here I am, eleven years after the start of the ride that has me here today, waxing philosophical and a bit regretfully at just how quickly time can, and does pass. I have been on an eleven year journey of growth and discovery thanks to the young man in my life known as my Dear Son (DS) for short. Of course his being here today would not have been possible without the “ahem,” generous contribution from my Dear Husband (DH.)

And as we sing Happy Birthday to our DS and give him hugs, telling him just how proud we are of all that he has done in his decade plus in this world, we, well, me anyway, stand in awe of what we have created – and what I have not yet broken.

I realize just how fragile little minds and bodies are. I give thanks to the angels and gods and goddesses who have deemed me worthy of a bit of luck and happenstance to thus far not have poisoned my son with my awful cooking, snipped off a wayward digit, or left him unattended in the shoe department at Bloomingdale’s.

Hard to believe. Even harder to do- I am better off not thinking about it too closely- which is what I have learned from my DS. To be in the moment. The dishes can wait- they just sit there anyway. Staring at you- mounds of goop and dried egg. Not very inviting if you think about it. So much more fun to play a game of hide and seek or cards or these days, Scrabble. And I don’t win. Sigh…

I have learned much from my son including the fact that patience isn’t so much a virtue as it is a necessity. That hugs are cheap, easy and ever so comforting. Sunshine is made in a smile from a child.

So as DS enters the next decade of his life- ‘offically a ‘tween’ as he has coined himself, I look forward to the ride. I have learned to strap on the seat belt. Take a deep breath, keep my eyes open and expect the unexpected. After all, that is when the truly best surprises can be found- when one least expects them.

Happy Birthday DS - may you have many more.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Goats and Pie

Goats and Pie.
Who woulda thunk?
“Not I,” said the little mousy wife trying to stay alive and out of mischief”
“Not I,” said the big brown bear looking around for a chair.
“Not me,” said the hen again and again.
Goats and Pie…as in pie a la goat?
As in goat a la pie?
Either way….it would be best to say bye bye…

Okay now that those of you brave enough to read beyond the first line are scratching your head wondering where did the original goofy gal go? No worries. I am right here, scraping the egg off my face, pulling the twigs out of my hair and the sprigs of feathers from the bottom of my feet. And to think this is just the first week of my low residency MFA program…only 103 weeks more to go…What joys and treats you are in for my dear loyal readers!

Fear not, I have gone just a bit loopy my friends and fellow Thespians. But I must share with you two recent happenings that left me sitting on a local street corner sans shoes - singing, squawking really, for my dinner- actually a cup of coffee - I made ten cents, and a fellow crazy person donated the dollar to me to purchase said beverage. (story for another day- someone remind me…memory of the ol’ gal ain’t what it used to be.)

Why you ask was I sitting on a street corner? Well, when you have nothing left but dotty thoughts of apple pie and goats well, where does one turn? To the street my friends, to the streets.

It began on a recent afternoon around 3:00 p.m. Dear Son had just come home from school. Imagine if you will.

The Scene:
Scruffy mousy mom sitting at keyboard pecking out a story upstairs in her office.
Door slams from somewhere below.

“Hello Mama!” a familiar voice bellows.

“Hello My dear,” the mousy mom bellows back down at her young son. “I will be down in a minute dear,” she quickly pounds a few keys and hits the “save” button.

Next Scene: (The family Room):
Mousy mom bounds down stairs and plants a west kiss on sweaty cheek of young ward who smells like a wet puppy dog.

Sweaty young son is plopped on leather oversized couch drinking a bottle of water watching a basketball game on television.

“Hey Mom,” sweaty young son asks.

“Did you send in my form and money for the apple pie?”

Mousy mom stares at young lad and questions:

“What form, what pie?”

Sweaty young son turns off television and gives mousy mom a long stare with two pools of dark chocolate in which water appears to be cresting the dam.

“What are you talking about?” Mousy mom (aka yours truly in case you haven’t figured that out) asks in disbelief.

Young son stares at crazy lady with paint splotched oversized oxford shirt and bleach-splotched sweatpants and socks complete with holes where big toe peeks out unceremoniously.

“Mom, Miss A. says is it the best pie in the world. Everyone in the class is getting one. I was the only name she didn’t call when she read out the list of those who had sent in their forms and money.”

“Well, okay then” says I in mock agreement. “But please, may I ask you, when did you develop a craving for apple pie? I can barely get you to eat the apples I put in your lunch. And while we are talking about apple pie, since when do you or I or Dad for that matter eat pie? When was the last time you saw a pie in this house?”

The dam broke. I was faced with a ten year old soon to be eleven crying buckets because his mousy mother had neglected to send in a form for an apple pie that was going to cost fifteen dollars. And we don’t eat pie. At least I wasn’t aware we did.

But there on the couch in front of me sat the young lad telling his mousy old mam that he loved apple pie…I guess it must have been with his other mother that he ate the aforementioned apple pie.

I sighed. It was a losing battle that I was happy to let go. I would give in and let him buy a pie which I must admit, I was curious to see exactly how it would make its way home on a 2-hour bus ride. Might be worth the humor factor- cheaper than a movie ticket. And I was even more curious to see who would eat this supposedly ‘to die for’ pie.

…Just when I thought things couldn’t get more surreal, I read an article on The New York Times home page

that shared with me that the most populous meat the world over is: GOAT. As in horns and bleating and head butting four legged, hooved creature. I am heading toward complete vegetarian and now this- goat? I guess I learned too may nursery rhymes in preschool including Baa Baa black sheep and read too many stories about Billy Goat Gruff to ever fathom (gulp) eating such animals.

Anything with eyes is circumspect in my book when it comes to food.

Speaking of eyes…Apples don’t have eyes do they?!...