Thursday, February 26, 2009

Waiting in my Car for my Daughter

"I'm going to hold on forever..." The plaintive words float into my car from the old tan Volvo sitting next to me in the college parking lot. Thankfully this slender woman in the tight fitting hoodie likes slow, soulful music, not the amped-up subs cranking out gutter-mouth and girl-bashing with low base vibrations that hurt my heart quite literally. Waiting in my car for my daughter to emerge from her class at the local jc is always a dicey affair, musically speaking. There seems to be a lot of testosterone-driven anger looking for a good time, just hanging in the air there on any given day. My own taste in music runs more to New Age meditative reed pipe overlaid with falling water and bird song. I'd have better luck encountering a purple and green nerf herder.

Watching all the young people walk back and forth, some with their arms draped around each other, others looking lost and lonely, I am transported back some forty years to another life. Instantly the music playing in my mind is Beach Boys,  Credence Clearwater and Jefferson Airplane. I remember the feeling of having endless time and possibilities stretch farther than I can see. I remember the black despair and fear that I will never find real love. I remember my sense of dread over not finishing my homework in time and how that lies in my gut like a history textbook.  

"I'm going to hold on forever..." The song is about love but for me it brings to the surface memories of hopes, of friends, of dreams, of loves and of the paths taken and the ones relegated to the gossamer what-ifs of my imagination. All these are what I truly hold on to forever. 

Tailed by a Dog

I am taking a "Lowfat" writing workshop (Lowfat referring to short and very short stories) at the local college. The following is my latest keep-it-to-under-300-words tale I thought I'd share.

"Tailed by a Dog"

I climbed into my run down red Saab, fastened my seatbelt and realized I wasn't alone, or not exactly alone, anyway. Sitting smack in the middle of the backseat, facing forward, was a medium sized shaggy blond dog. Her tongue hung down, the tip like a round pink Necco wafer, and she panted quietly. I saw her face in my rear view mirror and her calm taupe eyes looked back at me. I could swear she smiled. Then she was gone.

I didn't think too much about her until she reappeared a few days later. This time I was walking in my neighborhood. I spotted her head as she poked it out from behind the corner of a hedge a few houses up the block. Of course, when I got there, she had disappeared. She began appearing more regularly over the next few weeks, often in the neighborhood, when I was walking, or in the backseat of my old car.

"I think we have a dog coming into our life soon," I announced to my husband one morning after another canine encounter.

"We don't need a dog."

"I know that, but I think one's coming anyway." I told him of my recent sightings.

"We don't have a car big enough for us, the kids and a dog," was all he said. But he hadn't seen this dog's smile.

A week later, out of the blue, we received an unexpected check in the mail. It was just enough for a down payment on the used minivan we'd been coveting. The following week, while running errands, I inadvertently drove past a pet fair. What the Hell, I thought, as I stopped to investigate. No surprise. There she was. She smiled as I approached and slyly offered me her paw.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Musings From the Mountain__Feb. 21, 2008

After a weekend of Spring-like weather snow is once again falling. A big storm is due in on Saturday. Oh yippie. While I love our house, and the fact that Jim has a good job, I find that life in Tahoe, at least in the winter, really saps my energy. Where has my spirit of adventure gone? Is it possible that it flew out of me in one large poof when I had that hard fall on the ice? Am I really that wimpy? Possibly so.

There is a man on the roof of the house across the street where my friend Linda lives. He is shoveling snow madly. Linda has discovered water seeping into her home and is now having trouble with mold. Workers have been at her house all week. First they had to use chain saws to remove the worst of the icicles. Now I guess they are trying to remove the three feet of snow that still sits on top of her roof before the next storm drops another two feet as predicted. Whenever we see Linda outside she is usually screaming at the top of her lungs, " I HATE this snow!" She lives by herself so snow blowing is a job she has to deal with alone. She seems a bit erratic lately. My theory is that the winters here are slowly driving her insane.

Last night as I drove Kristina to rehearsal we saw the lunar eclipse in the night sky at the end of our road. It was really quite beautiful. Then, as I lay in bed trying to fall asleep, I heard a pack of coyotes in the distance celebrating a fresh kill. Powerful energies surround us here. There is no doubt of that.

Kristina is working very hard on the college's musical production, "2 x 5", that opens March 6 and runs for two weeks. She is so proud and excited but she worries that no one she knows will get to see it--a hazard of living on this frozen mountain.

The man on the roof is making very little progress. It is snowing much harder now and every shovelful he pitches over the side seems to land on Linda's front porch or on the smaller roof over her front porch. The snow has now piled up and is blocking half of the window above it. I'm amazed the man shoveling hasn't fallen. Linda lives on the shady side of the street and the front side of her house is very icy. Oh, I think he's losing heart. Now he's sitting on the roof, holding the shovel with only one hand and chipping away slowly at the snow that has frozen. He's been up there all morning and has only managed to clear a patch that is about 4' by 5'. I give him another five minutes before he gives up.

I guess I should stop bitching and focus on my blessings. Okay. Here goes.

It is wonderful having my family all home at the same time as I don't have wonder what is going on in their lives. Unfocused worry is awful.

We have a beautiful home and a bit of money in the bank.

I am really enjoying my writing class.

We have Internet access and good computers so we're not as isolated as we might be.

I have a great car to take me up and down the mountain.

I'm not the man on the roof across the street.

Views From My Window __ Jan. 19, 2009

Hurtling through space in an asteroid field, 3CPO tells Han Solo that the odds of surviving a direct hit from an asteroid are 3000 to one. Han tells 3CPO, just before turning him off, "Never tell me the odds." That scene has been replaying in my head a lot lately as I've been looking for a job.
One of the ingredients of finding a job is desire. I have the need, and in a roundabout way, need creates desire. But I must admit, as I scroll through the want ads and see what is listed, I am rather low on passion or desire for the jobs I see. Unfortunately, the mental list I've been keeping for years of jobs I would NOT want to do is very long and growing daily.

$10/hr to stand on a corner waving a giant arrow advertising a sale at a store going out of business is rather high on that list even if it does have the whimsical job title of "sign spinner". I hold no disrespect to those stalwart folks who have that job--quite the opposite. I just hope the new president has a grander vision in mind for putting people back to work.

During the Great Depression, my mother told me, she owed President Roosevelt's job creation program for one memorable job she held. While she was thrilled to be working at all, she found this job to be particularly challenging. Her task, eight hours a day, five days a week, was to paint the eyes on little wooden pigs whose backs were covered with tiny holes designed to hold toothpicks for hors d'oeuvres. (She told me these pigs were popular during the forties but I've yet to find one in any antique or junk shop--maybe they ended up as firewood or got shipped to some third world country like much of our cast-off polyester clothing has.) Mom struggled daily to keep the pigs' eyes looking friendly, rather than loopy or demented, but she told me when she went to sleep at night her dreams were populated by weird little piggy eyes. Yup. That's another one of those jobs I'd rather not do.

Emptying port-o-potties is another job high on my list. Tax prep, yet another. The list, I'm afraid, goes on and on and on. But long ago I learned to "never say never." It is amazing how often I've found myself doing things I would never have thought I would do.

Here I am, sixty years old, looking for work during the worst economy since the Depression. Joblessness is at an all-time high. Yes, I have read the papers and listened to the doom and gloom on the TV. Like Han Solo I am choosing to shut off the noise. Never tell me the odds. I mean, after all, where would President Obama be if he had listened to the odds?

We are on the threshold of change. If conditions can line up to cause the perfect storm then there is every reason to believe that our new president is facing the conditions which can create the perfect dawn of a new reality in America. Finally, people are ready for bold action and positive change. I am hopeful. Yes, there are plenty of naysayers but I think that those holding the energy of hope and goodwill have grown to the majority. I count myself among them. Never tell me the odds. If a black man can get himself elected president then a sixty year old woman ought to be able to find a job she can stomach in a dicey economy. We can make it through this asteroid field. I can--yes, we can--make good things happen.

Views From My Window __ Iguanas, Jan. 18, 2009

This morning I heard a report on The Weather Channel that, due to a cold snap in Naples, Florida, people there should be alert for iguanas falling from trees. Yes, you heard that right, iguanas. Now The Weather Channel is not usually my go-to source for interesting news but I have to say, this story certainly caught my attention. Apparently iguanas like to sleep in trees and, if the weather gets too cold (less than 40 degrees, I'm told), they go into a deep sleep and their feet lose hold of the branches and they fall to the ground. I looked it up and iguanas can reach a length of six feet. Can you imagine how you might feel just walking down the street, daydreaming, minding your own business and boom--a giant iguana lands at your feet? Or even worse, lands on top of you? Now that would be one embarrassing way to die. You might make the evening news but what a way to be remembered. "Poor old Auntie Tricia, killed by a falling lizard."

In South Lake Tahoe, where I used to live, there are so many pine trees that at various times during the year you will hear a snapping sound overhead and then a pine cone will come crashing down to the ground. I'd hear the "snap" and freeze, never knowing which tree the missile was coming from. I used to feel, at times, that I should be wearing a helmet when I was out working in my yard. Even icicles would sometimes fall with loud, thunderous sounds and I have thought it was odd that just walking outside to the mailbox could feel so dangerous. But those dangers aside, it never, ever crossed my mind that an iguana might fall from the sky.

Maybe Chicken Little might have been taken more seriously had he lived in Naples, Florida.