Humor

A baby story – my version of the tale

J&EMy partner Bashert is writing a series of exposés on our journey to have a baby (Yoda). She is amazed by all the wonderful responses she is receiving. I’m not surprised at all. She can tell a story, that woman. She pours all her heart into what she is regaling and lays it on the line, warts and all.

I am reading right along with all of her other fans. It is funny to read about my life from the outside. Sometimes I laugh, sometimes I sit and make note of things I had forgotten and sometimes I revisit very angry moments. It was a roller coaster ride for sure. If you haven’t read her exciting tales of the road to motherhood then pop over to her site: www.bashert04.com.

I was teasing with her when she told me with wide eyes how many hits she had in under an hour the other night just after she posted another segment. I joked that maybe I should write my own version of what went on. She said why not? I thought about it and decided, why not? So I present to you my side of the story – our baby story.

 

We Meet

We met in college. In 1995, at the age of 34 and seeking some source of sanity, I returned to school to finish out my Fine Arts degree I started back when the dinosaurs roamed about. I was two years into a very nasty divorce and custody battle that would eventually drag on for another eight years. I was emotionally and physically scarred and needed a place to help me feel good and right about myself.

Learning had always been a refuge for me, but starting over was hard. I was so socially removed, I barely spoke above a whisper and held everyone at arm’s length. To say that I tried to keep to myself is a radical understatement.

Bashert was ahead of me in the program despite being nine years my junior. A couple of years earlier, she fought to gain her independence from an abusive father and get into college. Fighting hard for things is a major theme in Bashert’s life – keep that point in mind as we go through this story. She knew no strangers; she had friends and acquaintances all over campus.

As a sculptor, Bashert had no love loss for two-dimensional work. Give her some clay to play with and she is a happy camper. Back then the closest thing she came to painting was applying glazes to her ceramic creations. I had the reverse situation. Three-dimensional work and I just didn’t get along – never did; I still have the pinch pot I made in third grade as testament to that fact, the poor malformed little thing. No, give me paper and pencil and I was in heaven.

I never really painted before taking that class, but oh, it was love at first stroke! The way the paint moved across the canvas, pushing and pulling in a beautiful dance of negative and positive spaces. The sharp, piney tang of turpentine and the mellow musk of the oils were heady perfumes for me. And the colours – oh, the colours! The painting studio turned out to be my home. There was only one thing out of place there – Bashert.

It would be suffice to say that painting and Bashert didn’t get on, but add in that we later found out she was pretty much colour blind, that sealed the deal. At the time, I just thought she had been sent into my life to be yet another punishment for whatever hellbent life I had lived earlier. Shy to begin with and emotionally crushed on top of that, I did not know what to do with this girl.

I would arrive at the studio to find her sitting cheerfully at my station with a big grin on her face announcing that she “borrowed” some of my cadmium yellow or a cleaning rag or any number of other supplies. She would chat away as I tried to start my painting day and tactfully extricate myself from her. But she had worked it out so that her painting station was right next to mine and the badgering never ended. Often I would find myself staring in wonderment that she couldn’t get it that I was yearning to left alone.

Get it, she did not and the barrage of questions kept coming either about myself or ultimately about how to paint her images. “How would you do this one?” What colour should I use?” “Could you just take the brush and show me how?” My reply was always, “It is your painting.” I think this made me more a challenge to her. I remember going to my therapy sessions and telling the doctor in an exasperated voice, “That girl has some serious boundary issues!”.  I was already dealing with a vindictive ex-husband to be and a hormonal seven-year-old daughter, another aggravating person was the last thing I needed in my life. On some level I think I was relieved when the class was over just to end the torture from Bashert.

But remember what I said in the beginning? Bashert knows how to fight hard for the things she wants and for some unfathomable reason, she wanted to be my friend. She didn’t give up.

We went on a university sponsored trip to Washington, D.C. and she made sure that I couldn’t bury my nose in my crossword puzzle book on the ride up. She asked me to help her with the art gallery at school where she worked putting up monthly art exhibits. She asked for rides around town to her various other jobs, despite the fact that she hated my 1968 Mercury Cougar muscle car. I loved that car…sigh. But that’s another story.

All the while we were together, she would talk. And talk. And talk. Slowly, oh so slowly, those rides became stops and the talks became conversations, long conversations that lasted into the wee hours of the night. The aggressive girl with the boundary issues taught me how to be in the world again and somewhere in the midst, miraculously became my first friend in almost 15 years.

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Peas Under the Plate

I owe my mother apologies for many things done or not done over the years, but I believe high on the list should be a hearty, “I’m sorry” for the repeated utterance of the following three little words:

“What’s for supper?”

Every night the same inquisition. Every night the same stares of anticipation. Every night the same dread. What’s for supper?

My Mom faced this eternal (infernal) question each night from four children, a husband and various and sundry pets who passed through our way for thirty years or so. Bless her little heart. I wonder if she, like I now, wanted to slap a frying pan upside someone’s head when those three little words came out?

Mom made do. I admire that and wish I had more of her “do”. She made supper and we ate it (with the exception of my younger brother Ernst, who subsisted on peanut butter & jelly sandwiches for 18 years, but that is another story). We had a meat, a veggie and a starch every supper. She made it work, whether we deserved it or not.

When we asked “what’s for supper?” I’m sure there were plenty of turned up noses at times, but the menu she worked out is what we got. There was no ditching the kitchen and heading off to the nearest fast food establishment. Going out was for special occasions and with dinner guests numbering from four to six most of the time, it was rather expensive, too.

We lived on my Dad’s one salary. Mom made it work. Some nights we had Spam patties as the meat source, other nights we had round steak that had been split in half lengthwise then pounded out to stretch. There were other nights of fried chicken or pork chops and mashed potatoes (not applesauce).  Looking back those must have been the times my parents were more flush, but it didn’t matter, we partook of what we had, which is not to say we ate it all – no, I remember clearly trying to hide peas under the rim of my plate and I’ve heard stories of my brother Stavro covertly placing items behind the refrigerator.

Supper was the time the family regrouped. All were called by the rallying cry, “supper’s ready”! Off went the t.v., down went the books, the telephone conversation was cut short, play was halted and we all came together.

We had marvelous conversations and learned of each other’s daily lives. We told stories, passed on new knowledge, played word games and made plans. Occasionally, we would fight, but most of the time we laughed, a lot. Supper became less about the food and more about the time spent together. It was something I think we took too much for granted. Another apology owed to Mom.

Maybe that’s the “do” I’m missing. Even in the worst of times, Mom found something to make for us so that we could sit together and eat. She may have wanted to conk each one of  us on the head for asking what’s for supper, but she didn’t and we survived to ask another day.

Perhaps I need to take the message more to heart. The t.v. needs to go off, apps turned off, Yoda called in from play and make supper the focus it should be, our family reconnection. Stretched paychecks and crossed schedules need to take a backseat to the preparation of what’s for supper. Nothing says I can’t resent the question, but everything says I can make it mean something else.

Thank you, Mom.

Shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen

I am vacation this week and as it is hard to get off my night time schedule, I have been fortunate enough to see a good bit of the Olympic coverage. It is thrilling to rally around a favorite team or just marvel and the strength and abilities of each world class athlete.

I have just one bone to pick. It’s not the synchronized swimming nose plugs, or the beach volleyball bikini butt slings or even that guy that licked himself before the race, no I have an issue with the Japanese men’s gymnastics team.

In a sport that is all about clean lines and perfection of form, the Japanese men’s hair is a little jarring and I’m not talking about their tousled moptops. I’m talking about the stark, black shock of underarm hair that flashes out with each arm raise. Even Danell Leyva, who has a 5 o’clock shadow at 10 in the morning has less hair than these guys. Seriously.

Call me picky or overly Americanized, but it’s very disconcerting for me to watch those guys running down the mat, muscles at the ready and then up goes that arm and then all I can see is a forest of dark hair shimmering against an otherwise clean body. My brain is filled with thoughts of sheep shearing and Marine buzz cuts.

I’m not saying that all athletes need to be as shaven as the swimmers, but dang guys, someone give the Japanese gymnasts a pair of trimmers.

Photo by Gregory Bull / AP

The Games Begin and It’s Not About Food Deprivation

Let the games begin or so we thought. I’m sorry London, but the opening night’s ceremony was disjointed, overly long and kinda creepy. The opening film was much like the beginning clip in the movies when you are optically strapped in a roller coaster and told where the waste receptacles are located.  Kenneth Branagh strutting about surrounded by six or seven Abraham Lincolns doing a very strange version of the cabbage patch dance was just plain odd. It took forever for those dang smoke stacks to rise and what was with the giant baby?

Each host country has its own issues with the ceremonies. Canada is still living down its giant beavers and Atlanta hangs its head over that embarrassing walking blue sperm, but last night? As one of Bashert friend’s said, one needed a PhD in British history to understand what was going on.

We didn’t make it to the torch lighting ceremony or to hear Sir Paul sing. With all the commercial interruptions made by NBC, what was probably two hours in person was stretched to something like four over here. The announcers kept making the comment that the march of athletes was moving at a record pace; sure couldn’t tell it as a home viewer in the USA. Two countries, three commercials, three countries, four commercials…

It wasn’t all bad. The bit with the Queen was cute. Who knew she had such a sense of humor to play along in public? Our biggest attention grabber came from Rowan Atkinson. Call us lowbrow, but his slapstick was funny. I will never look at “Chariot of Fire” in the same light again. The firework rings were pretty cool too.

NBC’s coverage hasn’t improved greatly. I mean, we are five hours behind the action, why in the world are they stuffing the program with inane material? Ryan Seacrest reviewing the number of tweets the Queen received was by far one of the most most frustrating pieces I’ve seen in a long time. I understand having to pay for the programming, but really? Seacrest? Can we vote him off?

What the next two weeks, plus will bring no one knows? Phelps defeated! USA number one in qualifying for gymnastics? China and Australia winning gold medals in swimming? So many possibilities, so much talent. Good luck, good health and good sportsmanship to all the contestants. Make the Olympic Gods proud! Maybe they will be pleased enough to send down a lightning bolt to take out Seacrest.

Bones

I’ve been going to see the chiropractor for about a month or so.  I’d been to one many, many years ago after a car accident and it seemed to help.  I thought I’d give it a go again since I’m lopsided from walking with a limp for so long.

The twins who run the place are very gung ho on the proper placement of the Atlas bone. This is the top cervical bone in your neck – the one that your skull is supposed to rest serenely upon.  Apparently, mine is out of whack because I am not even close to serenity at the moment.

They have a funky machine that looks as if it going to deliver a lethal stab into the base of your skull.  What it does is gently adjust the degree of angle in the Atlas.  No more, “take a breath, relax and try not to think that I’m about to snap the hell out of your neck” stuff. Nope, just a gentle, almost unfelt tap.

My Atlas has been reset oh, six times now.  I’m guessing the little bugger is quite happy being crooked. It just won’t sit still and every time they adjust it, I end up with these excruciating bothersome muscle spasms between my shoulder blades.  You know the kind where that’s pretty much all you can think about?

I was dancing with Yoda yesterday and with every move my back had it’s own little disco party. Today, I’ve been attempting to study for my Archaeology final, but the spasms in my back are making me wonder if I need my own forensics done.

Victim:

Female: approximately 50 years old

Height: feet touch the floor

Weight: filled out

Race: hasn’t run one in 30 years

Teeth: still her own, although they could use a whitening

Body shape: filled out

Musculature: apparently doesn’t eat spinach

Handedness: both there

Scars: emotional and physical present

Past bone injuries: two screws in right ankle; one slightly skewed Atlas

Findings:

There was a crooked woman and she walked a crooked mile,
She found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile.
She bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse.
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.

Until she underwent chiropractic manipulations and ended up in worse straits than before.

Anyone know a good masseuse?

Let My People Go

Seder Plate by Gary Rosenthal

Tonight, at least in my part of the woods, begins Pesach – Passover.  The time we all get to enjoy The Ten Commandments and for some unknown reason, Fiddler on the Roof.

Tonight all over the world Jews are gathering together to take part in a centuries old tradition; a Passover Seder to recall the Exodus – the escape of the Jews (Hebrews) from Egypt.

A true traditional seder lasts an eternity. Seder means order and traditionalist keep to that order.  It involves the telling of the story, asking questions and partaking of certain foods at specific times. The real meal doesn’t come until after the story has been fully told. Four hours into the seder and all you’ve had to eat is some parsley and horseradish.  It makes for a long night.

Many homes, including ours have adopted a somewhat shorter version of the story, so as to not have the kids up to all hours of the night, hungry, bored and cranky.  Works for the adults, too.

So here for your edification is the story of Passover – Bedlam style:

Jacob brought his sons into Egypt to escape the famine in Canaan.  Son Joseph was a big mahker in Egypt and set his family up in Goshen, apart from the Egyptians (see Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat).

After Joe died, little ol’ Egypt and its new Pharaoh seemed to forget about the contributions he and his people made to Egyptian society and became jealous and suspicious of the Israelites.  So like all despotic rulers, he made them into slaves.

Somewhere in this mix, it was predicted that a boy would be born to lead the Israelites to freedom. So, again like any good despotic ruler, Pharaoh passed an edict that all newborn boys of the Israelites be killed. Fun stuff.

Now, being a crafty Mom, Yocheved, put her boy Moses in a basket and sent him down the Nile hoping a good family would pick him up.  Moses hit the jackpot and was picked by the nurse of Pharaoh’s daughter.  He was adopted into the royal family.

When Moses grew into a young man, he observed an Egyptian beating an Israelite (Cecile B. DeMile seems to think it was an old woman), Moses got a little beside himself and killed the Egyptian.  And like any teenager who has pulled a major “oops”, he ran away.

There’s not much to run away to in Egypt even back then.  Moses ended up in an encampment of  sheepherders, headed by Jethro (and you thought he was just a galoof on Beverly Hillbillies).  While getting back to nature, Moses takes a wife, Tziporah, who just happened to be Jethro’s daughter.  Always reaching for the top that Moses.

One day while out shepherding, Moses is mysteriously called to a mountain whereby he encounters a burning bush that is not consumed by the fire. Okay, so this is where some faith comes in – through the bush G-d instructs Moses to go back and lead the Israelites out of Egypt.

So, Moses goes back recruits his older brother Aaron and storms the Pharaoh’s place.  He demands the release of the slaves or else. (“Let my People go!”) Pharaoh of course says, or else what and Moses, armed with a mighty potent staff shows him what – nine times.

For those of squeamish nature, skip this section.  Moses brings forth nine plagues. (When telling this part of the story, you get to dip your finger in your wine and put a drop on your plate for each plague – kids like this part).

  1. Water turned into blood – I’d be good there.
  2. Frogs – my sister would be good there.
  3. Lice – parasites, my worst nightmare.
  4. Wild animals – and we are not talking Disney safari here.
  5. Pestilence – dictionary example is Bubonic plague, oh goodie.
  6. Boils – ow.
  7. Hail – ow again.
  8. Locusts – crickets on steroids, ever get one down you shirt? Shiver.
  9. Darkness –  talk to the people in the extreme north about no light for extended time.

Pharaoh being an idiot, again as most despotic rulers are, said no each and every time until the tenth one.  G-d struck dead all the Egyptian first born.  (When Yoda was very little, the firstborn just got really sick.)

The schmuck finally got the message on that one.  Pharaoh in his grief, relented and let the Israelites go.  They fled hat in hand.  – “No time to let the bread rise, Yacov, we gotta go!”

Pharaoh woke up when he realized basically his entire workforce was getting away and took chase after them.  He thought he had them cornered at the Sea of Reeds (Red Sea), but dang if Moses didn’t take that G-d charged staff and part that sea.  The Israelites scrambled across and Moses closed the sea on the Egyptian army.  Only Pharaoh survived to see Miriam dancing with her tambourine in celebration across the waters.

The Israelites were free.  Dayenu.

From this point, the Israelites wander for some time, about 40 years, go through some faith issues and are given the Torah – the five books of Moses and entry into the promised land (minus Moses).  They lead a life of happy urban and agrarian society for many years until the whole persecution thing starts over again.

End of story. Let’s eat.

Add an orange and an apple to your plates this year and celebrate freedom for us all. Happy Passover!

The King and I

Sometimes I think about Elvis.

I know it’s an odd thing just randomly thinking of Elvis.  Its not like he’s a major topic of conversation around the house.  I don’t even know if Bashert likes his music.

What sparks these ruminations, I’m not sure.  Perhaps I catch a snippet of a song on the radio or a phrase from one his songs.  It’s not as if I knew the man, but think of him I do.

The life he led was crazy and he used some of his fame to do stupid things, but I’d like to think that underneath it all Elvis was a nice guy.  Who knows what we would do in his place? I like to think that I would make a better deal of things – you know, Oprah style, but if I was ‘suddenly’ given everything I never had as a kid when I was younger, who knows?  What would you do to maintain?

My family lived in Memphis for four years during the mid-sixties.  We visited Graceland a couple of times before it became a fortress.  I even dipped my hand in the swimming pool.  My Mom says someone came out of the big house and spoke to them about something – probably along the lines of please leave the premises.  We wonder now if he was in residence that trip.

This Polaroid is from 1964 and that’s me on the standing on the bench in my red and white dress.  Hard to see, but that’s my sister, brother and great-grandmother in front of Graceland. Don’t we look excited?  Who knew this would be the home of a legend?

I used to sing Wooden Heart to Nenè back when she was just Munchkin to me.  I barely remember the movie G.I Blues, but the song makes a great lullaby. It’s kind, gentle and surprisingly sweet for a German folksong.

That’s how I like to think of Elvis when I think of Elvis – kind, gentle and surprisingly sweet.

Can’t you see

I love you

Please don’t break my heart in two

That’s not hard to do

‘cause I don’t have a wooden heart.

And if you say goodbye

Then I know that I would cry

‘cause I don’t have a wooden heart.

There’s no strings upon this heart of mine

It was always you from the start.

Treat me nice

Treat me good

Treat like you really should

‘cause I’m not made of wood

And I don’t have a wooden heart.

(words and music by Wise, Weisman, Twomey, Kaempfert)