Saturday, March 26, 2011

Unsolvable Mysteries

Who doesn't love a good mystery?  The cable channel ID has built it's entire programming around it.  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie and Mary Higgins Clark all staked their careers on it.  I love a great mystery and lucky for me, I get to live one every day of my life.

For instance, why are the cabinet doors and drawers in the kitchen always left standing wide open?  The main suspect, my son Milo, claims to not even know that the house came with a kitchen.  Who else could it be leaving everything standing open?  The dogs don't have that capability.  The husband, Davis, and I are the closers, not the openers.  Strange, right?

Where do all the socks go after they've been put in the laundry room?  They never seem to make it out of the dryer and for the life of me I can't find a matching pair anymore.  Mysterious.

Can somebody please tell me why the oven has developed a vendetta against my family?  Although I follow all the guidelines: correct temperature, timing and to cover or not to cover, my bread and biscuits still come out scorched.  What a conundrum.

Life these days is full of all these little mysterious happenings.  It keeps me on my toes and guessing what's next.  Pens that get up and walk away by themselves, possibly.  Or, candy that enters this dwelling and quickly disappears, maybe.  Actually, the disappearing candy happens a lot around here.  I know for sure who the culprit is on that one, but I'll never tell.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

How To Tell If You're Irish

How can you tell if you're Irish?

Your mother and sister recoil in horror when you confess to using instant mashed potatos.

A very serious thing is treated like a joke. 

If you say, "I'll make a long story short" no one believes you.

Although you don't know the words to a song, are off key and out of tune you sing anyways.  And, seriously consider trying out for American Idol.

Your family tree is populated with the names Mary, Margaret, Catherine and men named John but called Jack.
Before a family reunion you have to be reminded who isn't speaking to whom.

A wake for a family member is a party by any other definition.

The only way to get a tan is if it's sprayed on.

You've often wonder why people say, "quick tempered", "hot headed" and "stubborn" as if those were bad things.  That's just being passionate about what you feel and think.

The Gift Of Gab?  Oh yeah, you've got it.

The Sunday morning church service is also an aerobic workout. Stand. Sit. Kneel. Turn to the right, shake hands.  Turn to the left and shake. Bow your head. Now, kneel, sit, and stand again.

There's a good chance that somewhere in your home is either a small picture or plaque with the words of a blessing, something with a shamrock on it, or a cross.  Or all three.

Hold the gravy, you take butter on your mashed potatos.

You've always got dance fever.

Feud is just another four letter word for love.

It takes an hour to say, "Good-bye" at family gatherings.

Intensely loyal, generous, friendly and helpful you hate to say, "no" to someone needing a favor.

You love to tell people that you're Irish.

It's March 17th.  Everyone's Irish today!

For my grandma, Geraldine Catherine O'Connor, a masterful storyteller and proud Irish woman.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Call Me

It's hard to imagine that once upon a time someone actually declared the telephone "a worthless toy".  And, I'm not talking about my husband, Davis, although if I asked he would probably agree.  No, back when Alexander Graham Bell showcased his invention and tried to sell it to Western Union he and his speaking telegraph were ridiculed.  Laughed at.  If I had been there I would have embraced it with both hands.  Through out the years, in all it's various forms, it's been the telephone that's never very far from my fingertips.

Back in the day phones came with a round dial. A finger poked into a hole bearing a number and had to spin the dial all the way around, wait for the spinning wheel to come back to it's original spot and then move onto the next one in the sequence.  By the time a person got through all seven digits of a phone number they had forgotten who they were calling in the first place. And, talk about the colors - white, pea soup green and mustard yellow.  When I was growing up we had one phone, a white one that sat in the dining room.  Every conversation anyone had was listened to and commented on by everyone else in the house.  Most of those comments consisted of, "Stop talking so loud, I can't hear the T.V.",  "How much longer are you going to be?  It's my turn." and  "Hang up or I'm hanging up for you."  All right, most of the time the comments came from me and were directed at my siblings.  Except for the last one.  That came from mom.  And wasn't said so much as it was yelled.  The day my parents installed a second phone jack in their bedroom and we were going to be able to have a conversation in total privacy was a happy day for the family.  We all gathered around the man installing it and anxiously waited, arguing over who would get to be the first to use it.  My mom won.  She called my dad at work and said, "Hi, hold on a minute, I can't hear you over the kids.  They're using the phone cord to tie each other up."  Over the years we upgraded to keypads that could be pushed, phones in every one's bedroom, the cordless, and finally the amazing mobile cellular that was the size and weight of a half gallon of milk. 

Then came the fateful day my husband and I decided that in the interest of saving money we would cancel the house phone and use just our cell phones.  Which wasn't a problem in the beginning.  We had thousands and thousands of minutes.  Everything was going along fine until my friend began texting me.  I resisted texting for a long, long time.  Mostly because I felt like I was to old to say things like, "LOL" and "TTYL".  Eventually, I taught myself how to text back and was hooked.  I could text her all day long at work and never get in trouble for being on the phone. It was great.  Until my husband opened our cell phone bill and let me in on a little secret.  Our plan didn't include texts and all our conversations were costly.  Hundreds of dollars costly.  

So, we found a new plan that included unlimited texts but very few minutes.  I haven't heard the voice of a loved one since.  Texting does have it's draw backs.  For instance, it's hard to decipher the tone of a voice from a text.  Is that person being sarcastic?  Or sincere?  How will I know unless we text the words, 
"Are you sure?"
"I'm sure." 
back and forth the rest of the day?  I am of course talking about a conversation that could apply to any I've had with my friend, sister, neighbor.  All women.  My texting conversations with the men in my life are a lot like the one I had with my husband recently while he was at work on break:

Me: "We have to figure something out with the fence.  Echo has tried to get loose and attack the 2 Golden Retrievers behind us and the new puppy next door.  And that was just in the past five minutes.  Also, I realized that we don't have the cheese I need to make dinner.  We aren't having enchiladas. I kind of feel like ordering a pizza, but we're trying to not eat out so much so what do you think?  Milo got in an argument with me over doing his homework so he's grounded from video games.  Make sure you don't let him play any.  And don't forget tomorrow is my meeting at the library."

Him: "K."

K?!  That's it?  I pour out my frustration over our wayward dog, belligerent son, lack of foresight in planning the dinner menu, question what we should about that and also a quick reminder while I was thinking of it, in a message that took four separate texts to transmit and in response I get a "K".  In fact, I have received this "K" from both my brothers also. 

The cell phone billing statement highlights the differences between my husband and I in a way that fourteen years of marriage has never managed to.  I'm a talking, texting fool.  My phone number is the one that uses up all the minutes we are allotted and has an embarrassing amount of texts going in and out.  In contrast, his number has only a few calls listed, none of them lasting more than five minutes and the only texting done is in response to mine.  They all say the same thing. K.  And, we're k with that.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Why Ask Why

"Why on earth would you do that?"

It's a question that I was asked recently.  To be honest it's a question that I get asked a lot.  But, this time the question was coming from a lady in the writer's group that I belong to and it was in regards to writing a blog.  She was curious (or maybe dumbfounded) as to why anyone would want to put their whole lives out there on the Internet for anyone to read and comment on.  I get it, even though I didn't have a good explanation for her. The reason the blog began is no longer the only reason it continues. 

Exactly one year and three weeks ago during an appointment with an orthopedic doctor for my bum knee the doc began quizzing me about headaches.  Do I get them a lot, what they felt like, etc.  I'm not sure what I was doing to prompt this line of questioning, but I answered his questions even though I didn't know what it had to do with arthritis in the knees.  It didn't.  He told me that I should leave his office and immediately contact my physician to get checked out for an aneurysm.  Very calmly, I said I would.  Then sat in my car and had a major freak out. 

Long story short, I ended up in the hospital with a suspected stroke.  There was no aneurysm and as it turns out it wasn't a stroke either.  The neurologist diagnosed inflammation of the brain.  Which is not any fun.  Aside from the bedside visit from my long dead grandparents.  Which may or may not have been a hallucination.  All I know is that I couldn't answer the hospital staff's questions of what my address was and what year we're in.  And I began to cry.  And I became very frightened.  One thought that kept circulating through all of this was of my son.  I couldn't have anything go wrong with me.  I had a little boy to raise.  So I prayed.  I prayed very hard.  And at one point I swear I felt a hand holding mine and when I looked my grandma and grandpa were right there.  And letting me know everything would be just fine.  In the end it was, of course.  But, not without some scary moments.

It's very hard to explain the confusion that went along with this.  I began heavy doses of antibiotics for seventeen days.  During that time it often seemed like I was in another world.  Once I called Domino's to order a pizza and unknowingly gave them my maiden name, although it hasn't been my last name for thirteen years.  Another time I forgot my name all together.  I thought I was lost in my sister's neighborhood when I wasn't.   The very worst thing though was when a technician making conversation asked about my son. 

"How old is your little boy?", she asked. 

I had no idea.  It was like my brain was a chalkboard.  A blank chalkboard.  Sometimes, if asked something like my zip code, I would see a jumble of numbers on the chalkboard and have no idea how the numbers went together.  But, that day when she asked about my boy all I could picture in my head was his face and no data to go along with it.  During my clearer moments I worried about if it never went away.  If I would always blank out on questions.  What would my son think as he grew up?  How would he know what he means to me?  That what he is to me is everything? 

So the fog lifted, or as much as it ever was going to anyway (I've always been a little flaky) and it became time to set things right with all the new insights about life that was obtained through all this. 

Step One: Figuring out what's really important.  Duh, that was easy.  My son.  My husband.  My family.  But, also my writing.  Most specifically my dream of being a writer.  I decided to go for it.  A book about selling your work recommended writing something everyday and suggested a blog as a way to hone the craft of creative writing.  So I researched blogs and decided two things.  One, it would be a great way to improve my writing.  And two, it would be a great love letter to give to my son.  One day he will be without me.  I'm not going to live forever, but through the writing I do on my blog it's almost like I can.  He will always have a part of me to pull out and read and hear my words of love and devotion.  That's my hope anyway.

Step Two:  Learn and grow, learn and grow.  I'll never be done doing this.  One thing I've learned is that the reasons I started this blog are not the reasons it has evolved this past year into what it is.  My readers have changed it, changed me.  My family were the first people to read it.  I have learned how much I love them over this past year as I write about them in the posts Life Cycle Of A MomAll The Things I Never Knew and Sibling Revelry.  The past year I have grown in my confidence and that has a large part to do with the community of bloggers that are out there in the world, reading my blog and leaving me kind comments.  Those comments have changed me and my blog.  For the better I hope.

So, one day after I got to spend a great day just being alive and hanging out with (almost all) the people in the world that I love most, doing one of the things I love so much (we were snow tubing down those slopes):

when the lady from the writer's group asked me, "Why?" all I could do is stutter and shrug.  Why ask why?  I'm a "why not?" kind of girl myself.