Sunday, September 13, 2015

No Pictures, Please

The Tuesday before my son went back to school I took him and one of his friends to the beach. After slathering them with sunblock I released them to play. As I watched them racing toward the waves I made sure I was safe from the sun's rays, and then popped a few grapes into my mouth. I pulled up my Christopher Moore novel on my Kindle, and read for a little while. Every now and then I looked up to make sure I could still see the boys. Tuesdays are rarely busy beach days, so they were easy to spot. They were involved in some elaborate game that involved crawling and occasionally rolling across the sand. Eventually I would be too hot to read, and I would join them in the water. I was sure I would hear all about it then.

The thing about the sun, and the sound of crashing waves, and reading, is that it will put a tired mom to sleep in no time. I woke up with my mouth wide open, and checked myself for drool. Had I snored? Had people walked by me and laughed? Where were the kids?! I scanned the beach and easily located them. I checked the time. Whew! Not so bad. It had only been ten minutes. Nobody drowned. I wasn't burned. Everything was okay.

I walked into the water, and let the waves wash over me. I leaned backwards, and thought of my Uncle David teaching me to float on my back when I was a little girl. I gazed at the sky, and listened to the sounds of happy boys playing. It was such a perfect day - the kind you hope you'll always remember.

On my way out of the water I made my way to the boys to let them know we'd be leaving in about ten minutes. My son hopped up and excitedly asked me if I wanted to see what they'd been drawing in the sand. Of course I did! He was so proud as he took me to the first masterpiece. I let out something between a scream and a laugh. It was a giant penis! He looked at me like he didn't understand what I was upset about. I quickly used my feet as giant penis erasers. I was furiously scrubbing its existence off of the sand, when I recalled how the boys had been crawling all over the beach. I asked my son if they'd drawn any more. Of course they had. He hopped over to the next giant penis. I looked in his direction, and I saw a line of giant penises pointing out to the horizon. I quickly ran to the next, and the next, and the next. Some of them were "shooting power pellets at Pac-Man!" I was mortified, but I was laughing hysterically. What kind of mother was I?!

Now, I don't worry that I'll ever lose my memories of that glorious day. Its perfection is seared permanently in my mind, and it looks like giant sand penises. 


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Table Six

I keep feeling the need to get some of my life as a waitress off my chest. Weird things happen to waitresses. People expose themselves in our presence in ways you wouldn't believe. Really, we see the best of humanity and the worst of humanity, right there during the lunch rush. With our pockets filled with crumpled straw wrappers and granules of artificial sweetener we devote our time to strangers, ensuring their glasses are perpetually full, their needs all met before they've even voiced them. We serve them, and then we judge them, as soon as we see what kind of a tip they've left us.

Table Six certainly didn't embody the worst of humanity, by any means, but she sure left an impression. She was an Australian visiting her friend here in Savannah. She was slight, and her head was covered with a silk scarf. The whole potentially dying of cancer aspect of her softened the blow of our incredibly uncomfortable interaction. She was vacillating between the vegetarian plate and our local steamer clams - two vastly different dishes. I recommended the clams, but admitted it wasn't the healthier of the two options. As I stood at her table, answering her questions, poised to write down her order as soon as she made her decision, she reached her hand out and patted me on my tummy as she said, "Well you can eat anything you like since you're eating for two."

Be nice. She's dying of cancer.

I heard my mother's voice in my head. "Stand up straight, Anna." I looked at Table Six and, with my smile still on my face, said, "no, ma'am, that's just the result of my poor eating habits combined with my poor posture."

As I straightened my back, and sucked in my tummy, she smiled and said, "Oh, you're right. It does rather disappear now that you're standing up straight."

Every time I had to stop at her table she would say something like, "You really are quite slim," or, "Please, don't go changing your eating habits. You're really lovely."

Tip: $10.00 on $55.00.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Back Where We All Began

Holy moly! A loooong time has passed since my last entry. Why haven't I written, you may not be wondering? Well, frankly, things sucked for the last little while. Who wants to read about adventures that suck.

Now that things are turning around, or now that I am trying to turn my attitude around, I feel more like writing. Maybe you'll read. Maybe I'll just come back to all these musings later and cringe or laugh or cry, or whatever.

So, my family is now living in Savannah. Where we all began. This is the city that stole our hearts when we were young and fresh-faced. Not world-weary and bedraggled. This is where we bought our first home, where our son was born and learned to walk and talk. We love this place.

Another thing that called us home is our amazing friends. When we arrived we moved into a tiny and disgustingly filthy house. We made one phone call to ask for help, and we had a host of people over, helping us clean the place in preparation for our move. I'm talking about cleaning cockroach feces off the baseboards and out of the cabinets, and covering everything with a fresh coat of paint. Half the people who showed up I'd never even met before. In the midst of the grueling labor I was able to look around and smile, knowing we were in a good place with amazing people. And several days later, when we pulled up in our U-Haul, a dozen or so folks showed up to unload it. Within a couple of hours our living room was decorated, our beds were made, our kitchen was completely stocked with donated groceries, and we were moved in. These people are ridiculously wonderful! 

My dear friend Trish recently loaned me the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. It's difficult for me to make it through much of the book at one time because I am inevitably reduced to a blubbering mess. Ann is insightful and eloquent, and I feel inspired by her challenge to slow down and list the tiny, everyday things that are masked by our sadness or business or distractedness. I'm not numbering my list, but Trish and I challenged each other to write down three things we are thankful for every day. If my attention to my blog is any indication, you know I'm not diligent about my list. But, most days I pick up Ann's book, and find something to write about. The more I practice the act of gratitude the more I look forward to it every day.

I started to write today because I was going to grumble about my life a bit. I am stuck at home, not making money for the second day in a row. There's a polar vortex (or is it an arctic storm?) hitting the south right now. What does that mean? Here in Savannah it means it's very cold (but not freezing) and rainy outside. Honestly, it seems like a poor excuse for people not going out to eat (and not tipping me). Anyway, that's not the most important thing for me to talk about. It's comical, but I'm not feeling terribly shaken about it, now that I've written about how life really is good for my little family right now. Yes, there are things that are scary, no I'm not making enough money, but in this cozy, clean home, with its fresh paint and the family-friends we have here, I am grateful. It is enough.

Friday, March 9, 2012

A Nighttime Drive

Last night was supposed to be prime viewing for the Northern Lights.  Solar flares had the potential to destroy our electronic equipment and give people even in the lower forty-eight a light show.  Jerry was super tired after a long day at work, but I begged him to perk up, plied him with coffee and earl grey tea, and got him to agree to a drive away from town where we'd stand a better chance of seeing the lights.  We bundled Victor up, got some hot chocolate from a drive through, and hit the road.  At which point Victor started grumbling.

He was convinced we were going to get in another wreck.  My child has become the world's worst backseat driver.  Slow down.  Watch the road.  Don't drive into that snowbank.  He was tired and wanted us to go home.  What's the big deal about stupid lights in the sky, he wanted to know.  I told him about when I was a little girl my mom and dad packed us a nighttime picnic (complete with the ultimate treat - Capri Suns!), and we drove out to the middle of nowhere to wait for Halley's Comet.  My memory of that night is very romantic, but I wonder if my parents had to contend with two whiny children in the backseat all night long.  Maybe they were asking themselves why they were dragging us out to the middle of a field late at night.  Maybe they considered leaving us in the middle of that field late at night.

We made it as far as Peter's Creek, which is a 30-45 minute drive from Anchorage, and stopped at a park.  Because last night was a full moon we could barely see the lights in the sky, but it served to let Victor run around for a minute and stretch his legs.  He found the Little Dipper for me, and I pointed out Orion's Belt and Cassiopeia.  That pretty much exhausted my knowledge of constellations.  Also, it was maybe 1 degree outside.  As we were driving home the lights suddenly became very clear.  Of course, without proper equipment there is no way to get an amazing picture, but they did show up a bit.    

They became astonishingly clear as we were driving on the highway, so I took a couple of pictures with the window down.  Victor didn't even complain about the cold wind because he was too distracted by Jerry's sudden stop on the side of the road.  He was screaming at the top of his lungs as I took this next picture.  I was yelling something along the lines of, "Victor, be quiet!  If you say one more thing about dying you're going to get a spanking!"   

Here the car is stopped.  Victor was suddenly quiet as the three of us stared, slack jawed, at the celestial display.  

When we got home Jerry and I laughed because the sky was filled with the lights.  You couldn't ignore them.  It looked like someone was spreading them across the sky with a paintbrush, and then shaking them off the canvas to start over again.  They swirled over our heads like they were mocking us.  Reminding us that our plans are silly and laughable.  

Sunday, February 19, 2012

I Have Really Got to Clean Out My Car

So, today was an interesting day.  On the way to church this morning I hit a patch of icy road (well, okay, so the whole road was icy), and lost control of my vehicle.  I found myself careening toward the oncoming lanes of traffic, and thought, I've got to turn my wheel.  Anything to avoid a head-on collision.  I turned my steering wheel to the right, and wound up sliding toward the right side of the road.  I managed to hold the wheel steady and maintain a straight line.  I purposely drove into a snowbank to avoid a terrible accident, and when I came to a stop, the angle of my car caused it to flip over on its side.  Nobody was hurt, and it looks like my Jeep is probably fine (minus a side view mirror), but I had it towed to the shop just in case.  I'm feeling incredibly mortal after this week, incredibly grateful for another day to keep living, and grateful for the people who I share this life with.  

Several people stopped to make sure we were okay, helped us climb out of the side of the car, and waited with us for the police to show up.  The police officer didn't write me a ticket since nobody else was involved, and there was no property damage.  Victor was suspended by his seatbelt in the backseat, so he may wind up with some bruising from that, but we are totally fine otherwise.

The worst part about it all, really, is that I am a total slob.  My car was filled with all kinds of embarrassing detritus that went everywhere.  My coffee spilled all over me, so my hair froze as I was waiting for the police and tow truck.  When my car was back on its four wheels I went to get some belongings out, and my mascara, which had landed on my coffee-soaked window, was embedded in the now frozen coffee, so it was stuck there, unmoving.  One of the ketchup packets that I hoard in my center console had exploded, and my car's interior reeked of ketchup.  Very embarrassing.

I don't even feel remotely upset about the accident.  I have only felt extreme gratitude for how flawlessly it happened.  I mean, if you're going to careen across three lanes of traffic twice, and flip your car on its side, then to walk away completely unscathed, and leave everybody else on the road safe and sound, how can you complain about that?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Worst Parents Ever

Jerry just helped Victor get into his pajamas.  And by helped, I mean held him down and forced his squirming legs into them.  The problem: Jerry picked out a matching pair of pajamas - dino top and bottoms.  Victor NEVER wears matching pajamas.  It's like his policy.  Victor's response: through tears, Victor said, "you're acting like mean foster parents!"  Moments later, as I was sitting down to publish this amazing quote, I saw my son streak through the kitchen to the living room, wearing mismatched pajamas.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Little Perspective

For the first time since February 8, 2004 I find myself completely alone.  Well, the dog's here, but she doesn't count.  My husband and my son both left for vacationland early Thursday morning.  Vito will be gone for almost a full month, and my heart is breaking.  My plan for the summer was to be attending a class to become a Certified Nurse's Aide (CNA), which would have kept me plenty distracted from my son's absence.  Now, I am not taking the class, and my boredom leaves me to slip into despair from time to time.  I honestly feel like part of my self is missing.  Who am I without my son to share breakfast with?  Without his body breathing in the next room at night I feel like I'm searching for something I know I have no hope of finding.  I hear the neighborhood kids' footsteps on the stairs and expect my son to burst into the house needing me to get his bike out for him.  I burst into tears at least once an hour.    

Meanwhile, in the real world, mothers in Somalia are walking for days, maybe weeks, in search of food and water because they are in the middle of a famine.  Their babies die in their arms, and they just leave them on the side of the road and continue walking, searching for sustenance.  How do they keep living?  How does a mother keep living when she loses her child?  How can I feel so sorry for myself when nothing is actually wrong in my world?  What a wretched girl I am.  

So, now I'm gonna trade in my sorrow for joy.

Things I am grateful for:

Vito is safe at his grandparents' house in Atlanta.
Vito will be seeing our dear friends, Natasha, Nico and Matteo on Sunday.  
There is a wonderful little boy who lives next door to Papa and Tots, who has made fast friends with my son.  His family has a Wii.
Grandparents who love my son.
The tremendous planning that Tots put into Vito's time with them.      
The ability to immediately give to charities online.
People with the gumption to follow through with their ideas and bring food, water and healing to people in scary lands.
Beautiful, sunshiny weather outside my door that's going to last until 11:00 tonight.
The use of my legs for the walk I'm about to take with my dog.

Here I go . . .