Sunday, 29 March 2009

Spanish Angels

I’m uneasy on ordinary days.

On ordinary days a simple tick of a second hand irretrievably changes everything.

On ordinary days, you’re moved in an instant from one place to another,

Your return path erased as if it never existed at all.

I’m uneasy on days of crystalline skies with goodwill on their horizon.

“There were seven Spanish angels,
At the alter of the sun.”-Willie Nelson and Ray Charles, Seven Spanish Angels

I prefer foreboding days with aphotic clouds, threatening lightning or a prodigious twister.

On dark days, you prepare for tragedy that never comes.

On ordinary days, tragedy accosts you in the most surprising of ways and never in the same way twice.

On ordinary days, things happen.

A fishing trip goes bad,

A wave washes away two lives.

On ordinary days, the small things last forever.

“There was thunder from the throne.
And seven Spanish angels,
Took another angel home.”-Willie Nelson and Ray Charles, Seven Spanish Angels

Friday, 27 March 2009


Monday while I was having my toes painted yellow, you fished.

On choppy waters you caught six.

(How many fish fry’s did I enjoy as a child in your home? Too many for me to count.)

Monday while I was having my afternoon latte, you were swept into the choppy water.

The lake had been your friend for all the years of your life, but on this day it selfishly claimed you for its own.

(Why can’t I get that song you used sing after Thanksgiving dinner out of my head? You know the sad one about the senoritas and the crosses and the sun?)

Monday while I drove home, somewhere under the water you roamed.

Did you know you would see your beloveds no more? Did you know we missed you right away?

You could not have heard us searching for before we even began you were gone.

Today we forced the cruel lake to return your body to us.

Your life it will keep.

Monday I had my toes painted yellow.

Never again.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Naughty Stepford Mommy

I participated in the PTA’s “Lunch with Mom” yesterday. Logistically, it was a stretch, but since traffic is much lighter during lunchtime than it is during rush hour I was able to make it work. My husband, he got to do “Breakfast with Dad” at 7:15 Tuesday morning. You know dads have to work so they get to do breakfast with the kids instead of lunch. I’m sure it’s occurred to the Stepford PTA that lunch with the kids might be tough on a mom’s schedule—this is why lunch does not begin until after the morning gym classes are over. They are very considerate.

In the middle of a driving rain storm, I pulled the Palinmobile into the school parking lot on two wheels. No worries. I had on three-and-half-inch heels to keep myself above the puddles in the parking lot. I was two minutes late, but was able to navigate the office sign-in Nazi, I mean secretary, and make it into the cafeteria with my daughter’s McDonald’s Happy Meal before she had completely convinced herself I was not coming.

She and I sat at the PTA table that was decorated with a tablecloth and flowers. My daughter chose two of her friends to eat with us—one girl and one boy. I know both of these children well and I can say with all honestly that I adore them both. I don’t say that about most children, but I really dig these two kids. They are kind, bright, and very funny.

As we began lunch, my daughter’s girlfriend busted into a monologue about how irritating her older brother is, how much trouble he’s been getting into at middle school, and how he only discusses his issues with their father, rather than their mother, because “Dad gets all that boy crap and doesn’t freak out like Mom.” I muffled a snort.

Then my daughter’s other friend decides to chime into the conversation. If my daughter one day marries this child, I will be insanely jealous and worried at the same time. He is a seven year old player and he plays me like a fiddle. He has shaggy brown hair, bright blue eyes, a sly grin, and is missing two of his front teeth. In short, he’s a lady killer.

He leans in really close to me and says, “Hey, Miss Kristi. You know what I did at lunch yesterday?”

I said smiling, “Noooo, what?”

He replies conspiratorially, “I got up from my seat and got some ketchup packets without asking the teacher. And I didn’t even get caught!”

I snickered and said sarcastically, “You weren’t being naughty were you? I would have a hard time believing that.”

To which, much to my genuine surprise, he says, “Nooooooo, Miss Kristi. YOU know I would NEVER be naughty. I don’t say the F word like the third graders do. You know the F word? F - U - C - K? I would NEVER say that. Now that’s naughty.”

After almost choking to death on my chicken nugget, all I could muster was “Well, yes. That would be.”

As I pulled out of the parking lot, all I could think was that I had been called out by a second grader. I’m a very, very naughty Mommy, indeed.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Time Warp

I’m not a baby boomer—my young parents were part of that generation. I’ve never found a niche in Gen X, although I supposed technically that is my generation. I’ve been intrigued by my contemporaries who dropped out, but way too responsible to try it myself. The pursuit of the almightily dollar has been a hollow one for me. I have felt out of sync most of my life. I felt old when I was young and now that I’m older, I feel young. I’ve been frugal in the midst of excess and excessive when scarcity was the rule of the day. I’ve been a liberal almost washed away by a tsunami of conservatives. I’ve been outspoken when most have remained silent and sadly silent while those around me have banged their gong of ignorance. I’ve searched most of my life for my place. I was probably the most content during the Clinton years when I falsely believed we as a Nation had turned a corner. Then came W. And with W came an uprising of thought that just about turned my mind inside out. I stumbled around for eight long years looking for something to make me feel better.

If you’ve read any of my writing, you know that I went temporarily insane last year. The insanity began around the time of Obama’s race speech. This speech enticed me into drinking the heroin known as blue kool-aid. It’s true what they say. Try it once and you’re hooked. And so I was. All through the summer, I was high on NPR, MSNBC, and the NY Times. I drank at the fountain of Keith Olberman, sometimes more than once a day.

I decided to detox over Labor Day weekend while on my family’s annual trip to the lake, but the damned Republicans would have none of it. They went and nominated Sarah Palin the very Friday I was to enter rehab. I secretly snuck into my family’s cabin every chance I got for a hit off the TV. It was never enough. I longed for the drive home so I could listen to the radio for two hours straight. It was a downward spiral I knew could only be cured by election day. Funny thing was … Election Day didn’t really help much. Maybe it was the Inauguration I needed. Nope … that was not the cure either.

Here was my problem. The Clinton years were haunting me. Just when I felt some joy about Obama’s election, some hope about the future, some pride in what we had all accomplished, a voice whispered in my head, “at most, you have eight years.” Oh, what buzz kill it is when your voices refuse to come along for the ride.

Then something remarkable happened at church over this last weekend. No, God did not speak to me. I’ve apparently offended Him somehow and He has not been on speaking terms with me since, well, ever. Nope, our communications are strictly one way and if I am to be truthful, I suspect most of the time my calls get dropped. It happens. Anyway, I’m sitting in my usual spot this weekend enjoying the sermon entitled “Outrageous Grace.” Grace happens to be a concept I’m all about, so I was very interested in what my beloved minister and dear friend had to say on the topic. And just when I thought my minister was about to wrap up the sermon, he did something outrageous. Certainly very outrageous for Stepford. He pushed the bounds of conservatism just a tick past the progressive mark (Okay, okay, liberal.) And he had the nerve to do it while standing right there in the pulpit. It was all I could do not to jump up and shout “Amen Brother!” or “Hallelujah, Thank ya Jeeesus!” Lord, if only I had had a tambourine! My minister, God love him, showed my congregation a video of the Gen We Declaration. And I was captivated. And momentarily convinced I was born twenty-five years too late. That explains a lot.

You don’t know Gen We? You better get acquainted. They are coming, they are organized, and they are unlike any generation we have ever seen. Members of Gen We were born between the years of 1980 and 2000. I could outline their Declaration, but I don’t posses the writing skills to do it justice. You should read it for yourself at Familiarize yourself with it, get comfortable with it, and accept it.

Gen We will soon be the largest voting demographic in our nation. They will achieve this milestone … wait for it, wait for it, in 2016. (I can almost hear the Hallelujah chorus.) In ten years, Gen We will make up 50 percent of the workforce. They are smarter, better educated, less partisan, less religiously dogmatic. They are globally focused, racially mixed, and environmentally responsible. They are technologically brilliant and righteously angry about the state of the world. Oh, and they are determined to take it on. And I, for the life of me, cannot see anything on the horizon of the Republican party that will appeal to them. Suddenly those annoying little buzz-killing voices don’t have so much to say. And guess what? I’m the proud mother of not one, but two members of Gen We.

Perhaps my place has been in Gen X all along. After all, its Gen X that gave birth to Gen We. And I could not be prouder of the generation I see coming. And I not only intend to cheer them on, but join them to fight for, repair, and heal our world. I love the line in the movie the Shawshank Redemption where Morgan Freeman’s character says, “Get busy living or get busy dying.” Gen We is about to get busy living and I’m going to be right there with them.