Sunday, October 13, 2013

Home again, Home Again, Jiggedy Jog

As weekends go, this one was whirlwind. I've discovered it's hard to relax in just a couple of days. One  has to unwind, and unhook (something I thought I'd never have to do) and get comfortable to relax. Maybe it can be done in 2 weeks instead of 2 days.

I was constantly aware of my "rich" surroundings. More so than the ambiance. I'm not used to an affluent lifestyle. I found people watching almost as much fun as at an airport.

I noticed

  • lots more children than I expected. Only one appeared to be particularly out of sorts. 
  •  a wedding procession take place, which always conjures up thoughts of hope and promise. I was impressed that the bride and her maids were able to walk down a short flight of steps, and across a swath of grass in high heels, carrying flowers, looking ahead and not down. 
  • a lone bagpiper on the manicured green lawn behind the "Lodge." I guess he was entertaining the porch sitters - the kind you'd expect to see on a southern porch in the early evening. Ladies wearing hats, a goblet of something mildly alcoholic resting on the table near a bowl of dried hydrangeas and calla lilies; men in tan linen jackets gathered in threes looking over the golf course; a young girl in an ankle-length smocked dress, lace anklets and Mary Jane shoes; her older brother, in a plaid Polo shirt, khaki pants, and loafers - a miniature of his dad; silver buckets filled with ice, champagne flutes filled just close enough to the top of the glass that the bubbles don't overflow
  • how the noise level of a bar picks up as dusk rolls into evening, when drinkers switch from cool drinks to glasses of malted Scotch or shaken martinis
  • one must acquire a taste for cold gazpacho, pimento cheese, and heated Brie
And I noticed that even while carrying a phone with a GPS I managed to get lost while walking straight out from our cottage, taking one right turn, heading down the beach, then returning the same way I came. If you are scratching your head and wondering how this is possible, I am too. Seriously, am I that directionally challenged. My first mistake was not wearing any shoes. The no man's land between the grassy lawn and the sandy beach is a minefield of dried sea oat branches, cracked shells, and stickers. 

My second mistake, or actually the first, was not checking which cottage I would be walking back to. From the beach view, they all looked alike.  Yes, it would have been wise to carry my key with me as well as my phone. It would also be wise to figure out how to use the phone so that when I'm calling my Sweetie to come rescue me, it dials his regular number, not SOS.  Now we all know that it actually was an SOS but I was not ready to admit that to the beach patrol.  After wandering through an underground garage with no exit other than the way I'd entered, across a couple of unfamiliar looking lawns, and stopping to pick stickers out of my feet I got back home. Only to find myself locked out, and the phone still dialing SOS every time I plugged in Sweetie's number. I was hot. I was sweaty. I was sandy. I wanted in, in the worst way, so I did what any girl would do, right? I decided to climb over the patio railing (never thinking for a moment that I might not be able to hoist one leg over and not get stuck, or that the back door might also be locked). Yes, it was highly possible the police had already been summoned by my repeated phone calls. Just as likely that anyone seeing me climb over the patio might think I had unlawful intentions (think about it, if you were going to break into a place, it would be much easier to try to explain your way out of being caught in the light of day, instead of the dark of night, right?) I breathed a loud sigh of relief when the door opened and I stepped into the cool living room with no Swat team in sight. Once my breathing returned to normal, I went through the front door to retrieve my things. Out walks Sweetie, wondering where I've been. He'd gotten my message(s) and believed me to be lost! Ha!

Even though, Sweetie did not witness me climbing over the railing, he told me this morning the thought of it is high on his Best of Sea Island list. I think at the top of mine would be the way one of the hotel greeters talked to Sweetie as if he really is Santa. Others look - children either turn their eyes away then peek back over their shoulder, smile or just stare - Shamika wanted her picture taken and told us this  sweet story about how excited her 2 year old daughter (who had just undergone her 3rd open heart surgery) was going to be about seeing her mama with Santa. About the only thing that could top that would be Bella, spying me from across the room, smiling and making a beeline for my arms. Good Golly, I love that baby. 

I thought a lot about the differences between the haves and the have nots on this trip. How some people were draped in a monied style/attitude/appearance like the moss on trees. I wondered about the how the old South plantation owners and house servants have evolved into a different/yet similar hierarchy. How some made it work, and others didn't let the name-tagged uniform hide generations of being less than. I thought about how out of my economical league I am with the people I work for, yet the only thing that seems to matter to either of us is their precious daughter. I looked at three tired mom, this morning. Dads were playing golf, babies down for a morning nap. I thought about being able to spend time with them and be trusted with their children. In the end, I decided, it's not the money that counts, its the love. And that comes in all shapes, sizes, socio-economic levels, colors, religions, sexes. Some may think it's money that makes the world go around (especially now that the government is shut down) but I still believe it's the love. 

Here's to being love in every situation you find yourself in.
 Love is where you find it. 
Merry ME




Saturday, October 12, 2013

Not In Kansas Anymore. (or Florida, as the case may be.)

Little did I imagine that being a nanny could to lead to perks that didn't involve baby smiles, lullabies, deep belly laughs, laundry basket rides, and snugly bottle feedings.

Sweetie and I have come along on a weekend getaway to Sea Island, GA.

Think:

  • Causeway from the mainland - the kind you'd be stuck on if you tried to evacuate in a storm
  • Blue skies and pink sunsets
  • Palm trees, weathered oaks dripping in Spanish moss, nature trails, bike paths, 
  • Gentle rolling waves kissing the beach under a crescent moon, sea oats, and dragon flies
  • Hotel the size of Buckingham palace,  "cottage" the size of Tara
  • A pool that winds around rock outcroppings, 
  • Golf carts to take you where you want to go, uniformed room service attendants, complimentary cheese tray and bottle of wine
  • Patio dining (accompanied by biting sea gnats or carrier flies as Sweetie calls them - the kind that might carry you off if you're not careful), buttermilk coated fried shrimp, Vidalia Onion dip, creamed corn hushpuppies, enough wait staff hanging around that you needn't worry about dropping your napkin, and some of the best iced tea I've ever had (not sure if it's the tea, or being served in a mason jar). 
  • Babies, toddlers, and enough paraphernalia to go with them to outfit a day care center.
  • Mamas advising each other
  • Daddys multi-tasking a) phoned in doctor visits, b)listening to sports on TV c) watching babies d) texting e) eating f) drinking
  • Nanny's quarters - a separate cottage, king sized bed not made for old people with bad backs, 7 pillows on the bed, TV, WiFi, ceiling fans
  • Work: 3 hours of listening for babies to awake while parents dine 
Needless to say, we're a bit out of our element. 

Love is where you find it.
What Santa does on vacation
The shrimp boats are a'comin
A room with a view
A girl could get used to this kind of living.
Merry ME


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Ick Schmick

I had kind of a rough morning. Feeling now like a nap to sleep away the ick. Hmmm, I wonder what I've done with the ick cream Tina sent me.

First of all, I noticed a little tiny frog right next to Suzi's food bowl. I've notice a couple other frogs who have dried up and gone on to the great frog pond in the sky. I didn't want the same thing to happen to this one.  I tried to cup my hand over him, but this guy had obviously been training to win the Jumping Frog of Calavaras County gold medal. He hopped across the kitchen in two blinks of a frog's eye, with me following on all fours, trying to catch him.  He got himself under a shelf, through a crack and behind the trash can faster than I could crawl to to the same can. Aha! I figured he was cornered and I'd be able to rescue him and win his life long gratitude.  To my great dismay, the little green guy had vanished. He was nowhere to be seen. I'm hoping he ran around me while I was moving the  trash can. If he got himself back to the middle of the kitchen while the cats were still asleep, he had a 50/50 chance of making it to the back door.  I really didn't want to think of him in the roach trap or dishwasher. I felt defeated by the tiniest of amphibians. (Unlike the way I felt last night when doing the same chase. Only then I was doing a dosey doe with a cockroach with a shoe in my hand. Every time I swatted, I missed and the roach gained on me.)Who knew bugs could be so darn fast?

After I calmed down from losing the frog,  I watched this perfectly wonderful video posted by my friend Po on our mutual friend Ter's FB page. Check it out, cause really, if you're in the need for some rain, but there is none in your forecast, it gives you everything a storm can give you without the wet.

Then I noticed a privacy issue. As often happens I assumed it was meant for me. I was pretty sure it stemmed from something I'd posted. Except it really wasn't an assumption. I'd posted a picture (a really cute) picture without permission. There would have been no problem receiving the permission. The problem was that I didn't ask. It flummoxed me (Sweetie suggests I use this phrase instead of calling myself stupid) that I didn't ask. I'm used to my life being an open book. I forget that doesn't mean everybody wants the same thing.

Let me say I felt horrible. Mainly embarrassed. It feels like standing in the middle of Times Square naked with a big spotlight shining on you. Maybe Heidi Klum or any of the other actresses on the cover of Redbook Magazine who are over 40 and lost a ton of weight and toned up and now look covergirl amazing wouldn't mind the limelight. I do. I especially hate it when the light comes from my own dumb actions.

Feeling embarrassed makes me cry. It makes me want to hide. It makes me want to run to my mom and have her tell me everyone makes mistakes and everything will be alright. (I don't think that ever happened, but doesn't mean I don't still think it might.) It makes me want to bake, then eat, a whole batch of chocolate chip cookies. The last thing it makes me want to do is want to fess up and apologize. Not that I don't feel sorry, I just don't want to be seen as flummoxed.

I suppose this would be where my mom might also tell me, that being a big girl is doing hard things, especially when we are wrong. That saying I'm sorry, please forgive me is an important step in growing up.  The little girl inside me hated this advice, but the big girl I am (and now, sadly, my mother stand-in) knew this is what I had to do. And when I did it, tears I tried to hide inched down my cheeks but the heaviness on my shoulders eased. Turns out my assumption was a bit off the mark, which also helped. Still, I have to be careful how I use FB.

It begs the question, why do I even mess with FB? What would it be like to shut the thing off. Maybe the time I spend there could be better used writing snail mail, or doing back exercises. I'd miss pictures of Gracie, and some interesting Huffington Post articles, and updates from my children, nieces and other friends. Is that enough to keep me hooked? Yeh, I think it is.

Back to my morning ... following the FB debacle, I read something posted to bring about awareness of Domestic Violence. The words broke my heart wide open. Sadness + embarrassment = the start of a poopy day.  Then I realized I'd left my wallet in my other work bag, so I was at the mercy of my friend Tasha at Subway. She let me use my debit card for a $3 purchase. Maybe this should have added to my embarrassment but lots of people don't carry cash, so no big deal, right?

On the plus side of my morning, I noticed the way the sun glistened on spider webs lining the concrete bridge supports. I cross that bridge almost every day, I've never noticed even one spiderweb before. Maybe it was the angle of the sun, or the spiders were having a bridge convention, or the traffic was so slow I could take in the view. Whatever the reason, it was pretty cool.

Then I noticed how good it felt to let a van from the lane next to me squeeze in front of me for a right hand turn. As random acts of kindness go, this may not have been high on the list, but it made me smile. Then I got to work, I was greeted by Caroline's sweet, sweet smile. A baby smile can sure take away the blues.

Since my day really didn't have any place to go but up, I'm glad to say it got better. I think it had something to do with being in the company of people I really like. Even though I wasn't naked, girl talk took the limelight off my inward chastising. Lesson(s) learned.

How was your day?
Merry ME


Friday, October 4, 2013

Looking for Answers

Ed. Note: I thought I posted this a few days ago. Wonder why it didn't happen?


Your mind will answer most questions
if you learn to relax and wait for the answer.
William S. Burroughs

Yesterday while waiting for the rest of my writing group to gather for our 9:30 meeting, I listened while a tutor helped a student. She explained to him the difference between a question and a statement. He caught on pretty quickly that a question needs an answer. Questions like "Where's your coat?" or "Are you hungry?" are fairly easy to answer. It's the hard life questions I have trouble with.

Then along comes Carol with a writing assignment. We are supposed to make a list of 100 questions. Anything from why does Sweetie move things around in the kitchen to why don't we furlough Congress to what does God do when he's on vacation. 100 is a rather daunting number of questions, but given 2 weeks I figured I could do it. As it turns out it is better to do it all in one sitting. I missed most of her explanation so I don't the whole point of the assignment.

I believe it is like the vision boards I wrote about the ladies making in the mountains. Somehow, through the power of the Universe, the pictures told a story that sometimes even the visionary didn't expect. BY asking the questions in one sitting, you give your brain/muse ample time to get the everyday questions about things that are bothering you, like when am I going to get the oil changed in my car? Maybe that takes up the first 30 or 40 questions. As you keep at it, says Carol, the deeper the questions will get. In the end, you might see a pattern or have a creative response to them.  When we come back together, we'll have part 2 of the assignment, so that's all I can tell you now.

Scratch all that. I got distracted by a crying baby and Barney - an ear-splitting combo - and didn't get this published. In the interim, Carol O'Dell wrote a post HERE. You may want to read it straight from her.

My first question will be when am I going to find enough time in one sitting to ask 100 questions?

Fast forward through the day to the time when Sweetie and I were eating dinner. He told me about a conversation he had with a social worker about talking to kids and getting them to talk back. I can't quote him, so I may not have it exactly right. She said kids as old as 10 or 12 cannot answer why questions. For example, ask a troubled kid why they just knocked the socks off the kid next to him and he won't be able to tell you. He/she will probably give the universal sign for  I don't know ... shrugged shoulders.  But say to that same kid, I can tell you're angry, let's talk about it, and you're likely to get a conversation going.

I found the whole thing interesting. I couldn't help but wonder why three times in one day, the topic of questions came up for me. It felt kind of woo woo. Naturally I asked Sweetie about it. He seemed to think I must be looking for a lot of answers in my life. I wouldn't have said that before the Universe brought it up, but I think maybe Sweetie may be right. I wonder what it is I'm wondering about.

Maybe finding the answers is as easy as asking the questions.
What's on your list of questions?
Merry ME

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Progress?

I thought I'd come home from the mountains all rested and ready to write, write, write. If not the great American novel, at least a daily blog post. I spent most of Sat. trying to fit back in and reclaim my space. I sat in my chair all afternoon working on my final recap of the trip. Here it Tuesday afternoon and I haven't come near the keyboard.

I had a heart-breaking, come to Jesus conversation last night, that left both parties feeling kind of raw. The kind where my sadness and anger get all topsy-turvy and I get all dizzy trying to listen, talk, and feel at the same time. Have you ever been swimming in the ocean and been blindsided by a gigantic wave you weren't expecting. Before you know it you're caught up in the roiling see, praying for a foothold so you can get your head above water and take a breath. That's kind of how I was feeling last night.

I realized that somewhere in the conversation I started to shut down. That's what I've always done when conflict comes knocking.  Turn everything off and retreat. The difference this time, is I watched myself. From somewhere in the back of my head came some words I'd heard several times during the week. This isn't your problem. It's belongs to someone else.

Then I had another realization. For as long as I can remember, a difference of opinion meant only one thing. The other person was right. IN order to keep the peace (avoid conflict) I had to acquiesce acquiesced. Giving up and giving in was always easier. (Not counting the years of depression it caused.) So while I wanted to runaway, and/or say something along the lines of "you're right. I'll do it your way" those behaviors didn't work for me.

While it didn't feel great at the time, after some down time, I figured out I didn't feel as bad as I thought I might. Oh sure, there's a part of me that waits for the other shoe to fall. That's another thing I want to work on. Living in the moment instead of waiting and worrying.

It's all new behavior for me. I hope when I go home tonight and walk in the back door, I'll feel the same peace. Not scared. Not worried. Not anxious about a confrontation.

Awareness is the first step to change.
Merry ME