Pillow Talk

March 28, 2012

My friend, River, is an inspiration.  She made a commitment to pray for a total stranger every single day of her life.  She chronicles this journey in her book, Praying for Strangers.  Responses from her strangers were all over the place; some happy, some sad, some gentle and some indignant.  She is clear about one thing though.  Her prayers may or may not have affected the strangers’ days and lives, but they did affect River.  After reading her book, I embarked on the same challenge.  I began stalking people in grocery stores and parking lots.  The post office is also a hotbed of people who really needed prayer.  Then I got lazy.  One night around 10:00pm I realized that I had forgotten to pray for a stranger that day and well…..it was 10:00pm.  What’s a girl to do? I was all cozy in my bed with a Garnet Hill catalogue nesting in my lap pondering how the organic bamboo tee shirts would look on me.  Feeling a little guilty, I closed the catalogue and placed it face down on the bed.  That is when I got my answer.  There in front of me was a toll free number for Garnet Hill, calling my name.  Available 24 hours a day don’tcha know!  Jackpot.  So I dialed.  Heck, I could even wait till 2:00am to do the deed.  But soon a woman answered with a perky, “Garnet Hill, this is Gina (or Jana or Jenna, I am still not sure) how may I assist you?”

“Uh, hi Jonah.  I wanted to ask you about the blue throw pillow on page 40.  Uh….is it nice?”

“Oh yes, it is beautiful!” she proclaimed. “The fabric has a nice texture to it. It feels soft even though it has so much texture.   I was thinking about getting it myself actually.”  She sounded downright euphoric.

“Oh.  Thanks.  Ok.”  I stammered.

“Would you like to place an order for one?” She politely asked.

“Nah.  Not now, but thanks.”  I muttered.   “But Gina?  There is one other thing.”

“Yes ma’am?”

“Well, every day I pray for someone I don’t know, so today you are my person.  I am going to pray for you to have a nice gentle life.” The line was quiet for a few seconds, but she probably doesn’t get this call every day.  Her empolyee manual offered no training for this particular nut on the phone.  Finally she responded.  My guess was that the call may be recorded for quality assurance…or something like that.

“Why thank you ma’am.  That is very thoughtful.”

“Yeah.  It is a little weird I know, but I really will do it.  You know.  Even though I don’t know you.  Actually, because I don’t know you.  Is there anything you want me to pray for?”

“No, nothing specific.  But thank you. Is there anything else I can assist you with today?”  Now she sounded sort of sad, like she was holding down a lump in her throat.  She did not sound happy about the pillow anymore.

“No, not right now, but thank you.  OK.  Well good night.  And thanks for the pillow information.  I will think about it.”

Then I hung up and thought about Jenna/Jana/Gina.  I wondered what her life was like.  She sounded content to be talking to people about pretty things in catalogues.  She probably sat in a room with lots and lots of other people who took orders.  My guess is that daily, she deals with some very difficult people as  she was sits staring at a computer.  I would not like that job.  Maybe she didn’t either, but you wouldn’t know it from her Customer Service 101 phone demeanor and her eagerness to help.  I’ll bet that someone told her to smile as she spoke to her customers, even though they could not see her.  I’ll bet she was smiling until I told her I would pray for her.  Then she wilted.  Was that because I had not bought the pillow, or because it made her think of the blessings that she needed while she sat at the telecenter?  I will never know, but I did pray for her that night.  And maybe it didn’t help her, but I think it helped me, because it was the first time that I thought of someone in her position as a person and not just a vessel through which I can get new stuff.  She was a human being with a soul full of joy and sadness, and a life full of people and paychecks.  Jonah/Jenna works in a thankless job where she never even gets to see her customers smile.  As I continued to pray for her I hoped that she would see lots of smiles all her days, and that she would be peaceful about everything that shaped her life.  I prayed that she wouldn’t get any jerks on the phone that day and that as she worked, her back wouldn’t hurt and she wouldn’t fear what the next day may bring.  As I prayed I began to realize that if the truth be told, my prayer for her was a blessing for me and that, my friends, cannot be found in a catalogue.

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Nice and Clean

March 23, 2012

 

 

When I am feeling way down-which doesn’t happen often, but when it does it is a bummer- I force myself to make a gratitude list.  The list is not just a recitation of material things that I have, for that is nothing more than a mindless inventory.  I try to think creatively of little things, little pleasures, little relationships, insignificant experiences that shape my days and make even a few seconds happier.  I drum up the things that appear out of nowhere unexpectedly and delightfully.  Not to go all Julie Andrews on you but really, a little list like this does serve a boo-hoo pretty well.  So here goes.  Today’s things I love to be grateful for, and am grateful to love.

 

  1.  I love the way my fingernails and toenails feel right after I have trimmed and filed them.  The best treat is to do this right after a nice bath, then climb into bed and rub them under  the sheets.  Ahhhh.
  2. I love the smell of freshly cut grass.  So many people either live in a place with no grass or they have no means by which to cut the grass.  This little springtime pleasure is a treat to my senses and would be an extravagance to someone not so fortunate.
  3. I get a real charge out of making the first crack in a serving of Crème Brulee.  My husband and I negotiate over who gets to do the honor. Like ice on a pond, a nice crisp, light cccrrrraack!
  4. I am grateful that any time I want it, day or night, fresh clean water is at my fingertips.  All I have to do is turn on the tap and voila!  No long walks to a stream or pond, no toxicity, no fear of critters.  Just clean, safe, convenient water.  What an unsung  luxury.
  5. I am grateful for real honestoGod SPF sunscreen.  When I was a child, no such thing existed and my fair skin paid for it summer after summer.  Ouch! We did have hats…and some lotion called “Shade,” but nothing like my good old #70.
  6. I am grateful that I live in a neighborhood where children still play outside after school.  The street is safe and these particular children are being raised by adults who encourage cartwheels, lemonade stands and jump ropes over video games and ipads.  The giggle sounds of these youngsters playing fills the hood and it sounds like music to me.  I love my neighbors.
  7. I am grateful that, for the most part, all my body parts till work.  Arms, legs, eyes, ears, fingers, toes, etc. etc.  Yes, things have moved around and fallen a bit.  Sags here, wrinkles there, extra lumps and bumps all over, but whenever I get fixated on that, I turn my focus to the fact that everything still serves me well.  If I want to walk to town, I just do it.  If I want to pick up a Frisbee and throw it, I simply follow my desire. Not everyone is so lucky.
  8. I love the way my little friend Freweini laughs.  She is a small child but she laughs like a truck driver.  The sound is deep, long and it flutters.  I also like the way she pronounces my name.  Dohhhhnagey.  It almost sounds like Donut Gay.  I love it and I love her.
  9. I am grateful that I no longer concern myself with what others think or say about me. Good or bad, their words and thoughts are none of my beeswax so I should keep my nose out of them.
  10. I am grateful that I no longer feel the need to look great all the time.  Nature and age have taken their toll as well they should.  I can be proud of the wrinkles that I earned.  And here is a news flash for you. No one is really looking at me at this point in my life.  At a certain age, the pressure to dazzle should be lifted and, praise be, in my world it has been.  The way i see it, as long as I am really clean and really nice to people, I shouldn’t worry about how my figure looks in my jeans.

So, that is my list for this week.   If I start to feel a little whah-whah, I will refer to it.  And maybe tomorrow, even if I am feeling great, I will make a new one.

Space Junk

March 13, 2012

I just ate an entire box of Buttery Toffee Crunch ‘n Munch.  The only reason I ate it was because I couldn’t find the Screaming Yellow Zonkers that I really wanted.  They are next to impossible to find these days.  Jeez.  Back in the day one could find them at every convenience store in town.  But today, even the scariest Dollar General won’t have them.  What happened?  And while we are on the subject, I miss my Space Food Sticks. A couple of those babies and a pop of Tang after school and I was good to go.  Me and Buzz Aldrin.   We were ready for the moon baby!  Yeah, those were the days.  Does anyone else ever think about Space Food Sticks?  You know,  the little snack thingies that looked like the rawhide chew sticks you give the dog?  They came in several flavors and were each wrapped in the lightest possible weight aluminum looking wrapper (for space travel you know).  The paper made a celestial twinkly noise when you opened them and any kid at school who had them in their lunch bag was a bit of a rock star.  Ah, the good old days.  My mother packed them in my lunch because she didn’t want me consuming “that garbage they serve in the lunchroom.”  Hilarious.  Don’t get me wrong.  My mother was actually pretty persnickety about what we ate.  I was told to always fill my plate with foods sporting bright colors.  Red, green, orange, yellow.  And she didn’t mean candy; she meant fruits and veggies of course.  Our freezer was never stocked with ice cream or popsicles, and our pantry had not a whisper of the goods my friends boasted about.  You know, Oreos, Fritos, marshmallows.  My friend’s mother, who had five children at the time, kept everything and anything they wanted in the house.  If I had five kids, I would do the same thing.  To my mother, I kept my mouth shut about the inventory over there, but I knew where to get the hard stuff.  My mom would not have gone for it.  Oh no, we only ate treats that were home baked like my grandmother’s coconut cake that looked like a snowball, or my mother’s individual cheese cakes with cherries on top.  Strangely however, she was my dealer for Space Food Sticks and Tang.  I guess she figured that if it was good enough for the astronauts…… well you know.  The Zonkers  I discovered on my own once I was old enough to drive.  Had to keep those puppies under wraps (no pun intended) because they were bright yellow, and not fresh from the ground, therefore must have been “full of poison dyes.”    I stealthily kept them tucked under the front seat of my Ford Pinto.  Additionally, by three o’clock every afternoon of my high school years, I was laying down cold hard cash on the counter of Woody’s Grocery store to get my fix of Pepsi Cola and Zero Bars (my friend told me that because they were not chocolate they weren’t bad for your skin).  Whatever.   That was on the days I didn’t head to Rush’s for a corn dog and a Cherry 7 Up, or to the Zesto  Drive In for a chocolate dipped vanilla ice cream cone.  On odd days, I would sit hunched over in front of the TV watching Gilligan’s Island while picking stars, clovers, moons and hearts out of my secret stash of Lucky Charms.  A different day might bring a visit from a couple of Ding Dongs with a milk chaser (for calcium).  Ahhh.  Those were the days.  It is no wonder my brain cells are gone.  Fried from the preservatives.   The funny thing is that these days, I am a real snob about my food.  No pre-packaged poison for me.  Only fresh, organic, local, home-made goodies for me.  I even grow some of my own produce and make my own yogurt.  But I have to admit that every once in awhile, my taste buds get a hankering for a Space Food Stick.  Too bad, for they are gone from this earth (sorry I can’t help myself).  And yes, this is sad but, it is good to know that in a pinch the Crunch ‘n Munch isn’t half bad.

Bucket Brigade

March 9, 2012

 

A few nights ago I attended an event unlike anything I have ever even had knowledge of.  A friend of mine, who was actually my piano teacher when I was seven, performed as a singer in a cabaret setting.  What was unusual about this you ask?  Well, for starters, she is not a professional singer and for finishers it was not a real cabaret.  My friend Lois, whose vintage is a hop and a skip ahead of mine, decided to fulfill a bucket list item.  She wanted to sing floozy, bluesy love songs to a room full of people while a sexy piano danced tinkley notes around her sweet serenade.   So she did.  She fashioned  a community arts center as her venue, recruited a seasoned pianist, found the perfect black dress, invited her nearest and dearest fifty friends and sang her heart out.  Table cloths and wine polished it all off.  Keep in mind that this woman is a looker.   Statuesque and dignified, she stood in the front of the dusky room sporting a halo of lush silvery blond locks, piercing blue eyes, and full, pouty lips that dripped songs like honey.  Her audience was enchanted.  We sang along, she made jokes.  We applauded and she shot us a grin.  We threw her a whistle and she snickered with joy.   All in all, the evening was more than a sentimental moment for her.  For any of us who ever had a dream, and that is all of us, it was inspiring.  It was invigorating to see this woman who is so full of life and so full of joy giving it all she’s got so that she could live a dream for a night.  Boy oh boy.  It made me wonder how many of us left the parking lot that night thinking about our own dreams, desires and ambitions that had never been realized.  How many people drove down the road on their way home and thought, “Hmmm, maybe I could…”  And maybe we could. Who is to say that one of us cannot find a way to see Paris in the springtime.  Why could one of us not set a compass on learning to tap dance, or building a canoe or (weird, but this really is one of mine) attending a bris. Hopefully, each of us who listened to Lois croon that night considered what we would do if only we could.   Hmmmm….what if…..what if?  We should all ponder such possibilities, and if Lois didn’t crank our engines on that front, then nothing will.  So congratulations Lois.  And thank you for waking up a little piece within each of us that may otherwise have never been stirred.

Dream Weaver

March 2, 2012

I had a terrible dream last night in which my generally appealing husband did some awful, terribly shameful things. I woke up in shambles feeling betrayed, disrespected and taken for granted, not to mention tired.  As I opened my eyes, there he was PRETENDING to be fast asleep (possums do that you know).  Not for long though, for I prodded him and shook him until he opened his eyes.  “I had a nightmare last night and you were awful to me!  You were very, very bad!  I couldn’t believe you would do such things!”  “Wha??? Wha??? Why are you shaking me?  What’s wrong?” he pathetically croaked.   I stormed out of the room to the coffee maker as I trailed a disgusted, “I can’t believe you!  Please get your own coffee.”  I pouted and presented a frosty shoulder all morning as hazy visions of the previous night’s script played over and over in my head.  I fixed my own coffee with yummy frothed milk and nutmeg on top just the way he likes his and breezed past him waving it under his nose as I floated by with my nose in the air.  He treaded lightly, for he has experience with the terrain here. “ I am sorry about your dream, but I don’t know…”   “Oh it is clear to me that I would not dream such things unless you planted some seed of suspicion.  You must be up to something that you are ashamed of or I wouldn’t be picking up on it.  What are you up to?  Is there something you need to tell me?”  He rubbed the sleep from his eyes.  “I don’t know what you are talking about.  I just woke up.”   “Well how nice for you, I snapped. “ I feel like I didn’t sleep a wink I am so upset.”   He weighed his next response carefully before he parted his lips.  “What did I do in the dream?  I am sorry but I do not know what you are talking about.”  He slithered out of the bed and started towards me.  I glared at him.  “I really don’t want to discuss it right now.  I have to go to Pilates.  I need to stretch…maybe that will help.”  I quickly pulled on my standard black leggings and top, departed with a nutmeg latte and a stiff attitude in hand, and spent the next hour relieving the tension that my thoughtless, clearly selfish spouse had created in my soul.