Tuesday, November 29, 2005

When I was a Kid

I am going through some early childhood photos.

Except for stepping on an occasional rusted nail and the threat of trench mouth, life seemed safer back when I was kid.

Even though we rode bikes without helmets and Dad drove the car while drinking Hamm's and none of us ever wore seatbelts.

Our parents thought nothing of us playing outside until dark. We'd leave the house in the morning to play and our parents only worried if we didn't come home in time for dinner.

When you're a kid, you knew how to have fun. I could easily sit in a sandbox with Tonka toys or gallop around the backyard using the plastic tops off of my mother's Aqua Net Hair Spray for horse hoofs. Hoppity Hop, Hula Hoops and Pogo Sticks kept me entertained for hours during the day and Mister Bubbles kept me in the tub long after my fingers got shriveled and wrinkled.

My huge dream was to have my own typewriter and type as fast as Ted Bessell's character, Donald, who played Ann Marie's boyfriend on the TV Show, "That Girl". So one year for Christmas I got my wish. But it only had a plastic type-wheel. I would spin the dial around to locate the letter I wanted and then press down on a single key to type. And, no, I didn't learn to type that year. Or even the year after that. But I kept the dream.

I didn't get a weekly allowance. So I would sometimes knock on doors and sing and play my ukulele to any neighbor that would listen. The night my parents discovered my early entrepreneurial skills, they were in the kitchen counting and recounting their money to make sure they had enough to take us to see The Out-Of-Towners at the local Drive-In Theater. Being kids, we would always wear our pajamas to the drive-in and when I pulled my pants down over my shoes to undress, the coins jangled out of my pockets from my musical afternoon. My parents were not happy when I told them about my clever money-making ways.

I didn't see "The Out-Of-Towners" that night. They dropped me off, instead, at old Mrs. Wilson's house. Her house smelled of mothballs. She had a dish full of hard candy that was stuck together and covered in cobwebs. I grabbed one, anyway, and the entire plate lifted up with it. The next day I returned the money to my neighbors. I hung up my music career and took down my baby doll from the shelf and tied her around my waist with a belt and rode her around on my stingray bike.

Every child knows oreos taste best if you separate the cookie from the filling before eating them and sandwiches taste better when its cut in half diagonally. And no matter how long you bake your brownies under that Easy-Bake Oven light bulb, they will still stay gooey in the center. And licking the frost from the tether ball pole isn't a very good idea.

There were somber moments of childhood. The day you learned your best friend in class was moving out of town. Discovering your green rabbit's foot you carried around in your pocket was an actual foot of a dead rabbit. Ice cream falling off its cone and not having enough money to buy another one. Holding a funeral for a dead snail. Losing a tooth and discovering the Tooth Fairy forgot about it and it was still under your pillow when you woke up the following morning.

I remember skating on my adjustable rollerskates which fastened to the soles of my shoes with hard metal wheels. And yet, no matter how tight I fastened the leather strap around my ankle, it would still get loose and send me into a head dive down the sidewalk scraping and grinding tiny pebbles and sand into my arms and legs. I wouldn't cry until I ran all the way home to show my mom. She would kiss it and pour Mercurochrome on it and I'd scream even louder. I never broke a bone, but who didn't envy the kids who broke their arms and wore a cast filled with tattoos and autographs.

I used to pretend I had a sprained arm by wrapping it up in an ace bandage and then safety-pinning my brother's diaper together as a sling to rest it in. Sometimes I'd even wear it to school and show it off in Show & Tell. A few years later, while scouring the back of an Archies comic book, I found I could order a FAKE cast! And so I did! I waited for the mailman every day for an entire summer to deliver that cast. By the time it arrived, I was sitting at a table, too busy to notice. I was typing on a used typewriter my mom gave me .... my fingers flying across the keys.

I realized I grew up a little bit that summer. Outgrowing the fake cast and growing into a really fast typist. I really did learn to type as fast as I dreamed I could.

Donald and Ann Marie would have been so pleased.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Live a life that matters

Ready or not, someday it will all come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises. No minutes. No hours. No days.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifce that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.
What will matter is not your competence, but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many people will feel a lasting loss when you're gone.
What will matter is not your memories, but the memories that live in those who loved you.
Living a life that matters doesn't happen by accident. It's not a matter of circumstances but of choice.
Choose to live a life that matters.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.
Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owed or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations and jealousies will finally disappear.
So, too, your hopes, ambitions, plans and to-do lists will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed important will fade away.
It won't matter where you came from, or on what side of the tracks you lived, at the end.
It won't matter whether you were beautiful and brilliant. Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.
So what will matter?
How will the value of your days be measured?
What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built.
Not what you got, but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success, but your significance.
What will matter is not what we learned, but what you taught.

--author: unknown. (Received as a power-point presentation over the internet)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Free the Gingerbread Man

When I was a kid, I thought it was just horrible for anyone to eat a gingerbread man cookie. Whenever I would see them sitting on a plate, all dressed in scarves and buttons, I would try to set them free.

"Run away Gingerbread Man! Be free!!" I would whisper quietly. "You'll be eaten alive if you don't".

I'd leave the room because, just like dolls and toys, they only come alive when one is asleep or not aware of their presence. When I would return to the plate of cookies, sometimes hours later -- sure enough, there would be less cookies on the plate than before.

I couldn't have been more happy!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Cream of Broccoli Soup

A conversation that took place between two friends looking at a recipe for Cream of Broccoli Soup.

B: "Nooo, don't use that one! It's my grandmother's church cookbook. They're all really o-0-O-L-D and they might've forgotten and left something out."
J: (After quickly viewing it) "It looks okay. I think it's fine." (more silence as she continues reading the recipe). "Oh you're riiiight! They ARE senile! The recipe calls for half and half, but it doesn't say half of what and whaaat!"

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

How does one climb a ladder?

If anyone has wondered my whereabouts, I've spent the past ten days painting.

In Dallas.

I LOVE painting. I'm no expert at it, but I'm quite neat---for the most part. It's rewarding to see the transformation in the rooms.

The ceilings reach up to the second floor throughout the house. I don't think I've ever been more scared to climb a ladder before. I would dip my brush in the can of paint and climb all the way up the ladder and paint. But after a few strokes, I would need to climb back down to dip my brush back into the paint and climb back up.

Up and down. Up and down. Up and down.

Each time I would step up the rungs, my knees would hit the next rung above it. So I would have to climb the ladder sideways so my knees would extend over to the side of the ladder.

There must be an easier way. But the ladder didn't come with instructions.

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

The Broken Necklace

I just got back from clothes shopping.

Can pants getting any longer? I am of a fairly average height of 5'5 so why is the length so long, they fold at the bottom of my feet and stick out under the dressing room door! I heard a woman's voice say, "excuse me" as she stepped over them.

Quietly, inside another dressing room, I could hear two teenage girls talking a few feet away.
"Oh, m'gawwd, like that tee is rilly, rilly cuuuute. And it's just plain white, so no one will know you got it here, ya know?"
"Totally. Do you like these pants? Does it make my butt look small? Oh m'gaawwd, what is THAAAT on my face? Is that a pimple!?"
"I don't see it. Oh, yes, I do. Ewwww... get it awaaay from meee!"
"Why didn't you tell me? Oh m'gawwd, it's covering half my face!"
"Ewww, I think it just popped up. I would have seen THAT!"
"Let's get out of here. I could JUST die".
"Are you getting those pants? I totally love them".
"I love them, too. Not totally."
"If you don't love them totally, then don't get them".
"I WOULD totally love them, but I just don't like this pucker".
"What pucker?"
"This pucker."
"Ohhh m'gawwwd, now i see it! Maybe you can find another pair that doesn't have it!"
"Why didn't I see that pucker on you when you tried these on?"
"Like, I'm a little smaller than you..."
"I hate you."
"i hate you more."
"Did I just make that zit larger on my face?"
"Ewwww. Let's go. My mom's going to pick us up in less than five minutes!"

Just then, I pulled a sweater over my head. I had forgotten I had a small beaded necklace on. And, as I pulled, the necklace went with it. Out of the silence came loud pinging of the smalll colorful balls bouncing to the ground and spraying out everywhere like a clogged faucet!

"Oh m'gawwd! What is that sound?" One of the teenage girls shrieked.
"Is that the ceiling crumbling?"
"NoOoOoo, look! LoOoOok! Someone broke their necklace."
"Oh m'gawwd, how saaad is THAT!"

They gathered them up and waited for me to open the dressing room door to hand them to me. But I couldn't. The sweater was still stuck around my necklace.