Monday, April 28, 2014

Failure to Launch

Four years ago I decided to change careers.  I had this amazing opportunity not afforded to others and I felt compelled to take advantage of it. 
I wanted to be a writer.
I wanted to write books, see them traditionally published, and become rich and famous.
Laugh all you want.  I knew the rich and famous part was a lark but this is where the “amazing opportunity not afforded to others” comes into play.
I get a comfortable, monthly, retirement check. It allows me to fiddle with this writing life. HoneyBunch says it’s a curse.  It makes me too comfortable.  I don’t have to rely on a paying job to cover bills, go grocery shopping, or keep myself in pretty, purple pens (my writing instrument of choice).
He says I am not hungry enough.
Between you and me, HB is only half right.  It pains me to admit it, but there is more to that truth – I am afraid to succeed.
I have several published friends and I’ve seen the glamorous writing life they lead.  It takes discipline to be a published writer.  It makes demands on their lives.  I’ve seen what they look like as deadlines approach – their emaciated, unwashed, myopic bodies.
No, thank you.
If I launch my manuscripts out into the cold cruel world, they might actually succeed.  I’ll get offered contracts.  There will be demands and deadlines, missed meals and lost sleep. I will have to work and work hard. 
I will have to produce, stand on my own, and face criticism.

My life is so much more comfortable here in the womb of retirement where I can pretend to be a writer and play act the writing life. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Pet Peeves – Gluten-free, Organic, and Resealable!

To prepare for this blog, I made a grocery list of all the things that I could remember had angered me lately.  I ended up with over thirty items.  It made me suspiciously in need of Anger Management, so I decided to reduce the list to ten.
Here they are in no particular order:
1.     People with no sense of cell phone etiquette.  Do you really need to be told to mute, put away, or not tape or take pictures without permission when it precludes interaction with another person?  When did a relationship with a phone take precedence over a relationship with another human being?
2.    People who befriend you only because they want something from you, opportunists who leech what they can and then move on, fat and sassy, after they have sucked you dry.
3.    Facial hair as I age.  Where did that come from?  I refer to the moustache that rivals the one my father sported for years, or the lone whisker that shows up at random on my chin, especially when I am trying to impress a new friend and they cannot focus on my charming wit because the lone whisker waves at them.
4.    My cowlick.  It has been with me since birth and is one of the reasons I have requested to be cremated upon my death.  For once, I get to win that battle.
5.    Loud, arrogant, obnoxious people who always turn the conversation around and make it about them instead of congratulating you or sympathizing or just plain shutting up and listening to your announcement.
6.    Toilet paper that unfurls to the floor when all you wanted was one swatch, especially when you are in a bind and have only one hand to spare.  Really?
7.    Penniless, unknowns who do not have two dollars in their wallets but who think they alone own the multi-trillion dollar USA roadways, and who then rage at you for trespassing on their property.
8.    Unsympathetic professionals (or employees) who have no sympathy (much less empathy) for their clients, patients, or customers, and act as if they are doing you a favor for waiting on you.
9.    People who marginalize others because of their ethnicity, age, gender, weight, etc. (I hate to be patronized or ignored because of my last name, my gray hair, my being female, or my not being a single-digit dress size.)
10. Packaging that is supposed to be “easy to open” and “resealable,” and ends up being neither and you have to hack it open like some fiend in a bad horror flick. Thank goodness for plastic baggies and rubber bands.
I could name several more but would prefer to hear from you. 

Name your number one pet peeve.   

Monday, April 14, 2014

Middle Child

I was the middle child in an Hispanic family, the one wedged between the oldest son and the baby daughter. A lot was excused from an oldest son, and who could resist the cuteness of a baby sister?

Me?  I was the proverbial chopped liver – lonely and abused.

I was also the oldest daughter in an Hispanic family.  I was expected to learn how to do household chores and learn how to cook. I was the little mama, the one who helps with the younger siblings.  Oh yay!

My parents had high expectations for all of us.  Both of them were highly intelligent, and they suspected the same from us, so they demanded nothing less than A’s in school.  They sometimes overlooked my brother’s B’s (cabeza dura), but I was hounded and condemned to hours of study if I dared to bring home anything less than a straight A.

My parents, especially my mother, didn’t care where or when she scolded me. Often it was out in public – in front of my friends or classmates, loud enough for everyone to hear and see.  A proud and independent child, I resented being corrected in public. It only increased my rebellion and determination to get out of there as soon as I could.

I decided I would never have children. But I did – three of my own. 

What did I learn from my upbringing?

One, regardless of birth order and how easily it can be to play favorites, don’t.  Give time and be fair and equal to all the children.  All three of mine had equal amounts of responsibilities but I also shared my time with each of them.

Two, it is okay to have expectations from each one.  An education is non-negotiable.  So is going to church. I tried to impress on my three that school is not just a social hangout; we also want a good transcript and a diploma. If A’s were not accessible, then a passing grade would do (but I knew what to expect from them).

Three, I never corrected them out in public.  We waited until we were in private – our home, the car, or the closest public rest room.  If they hoped and prayed I would forget by the time we got to some place private, their prayer was never granted.

I hated being a middle child.  I hated being ignored except for when it came to chores or responsibilities. It broke my heart to see my parents lavish attention on my brothers and sisters and treat me less. Because of it, I am aware of when it happens to others.


Monday, April 7, 2014

Believing in Angels

I cannot remember when I didn’t believe in angels.  I grew up Catholic; need I say more?.  Angels were everywhere.  Angels fill our literature, our art, our architecture, our music; but we weren’t the first to claim their existence. Long before Judaic, Christian, or Islamic beliefs mentioned angels, their existence is recorded in the monotheistic religions that preceded them.
The belief in angels has been with us through the ages of time, but have I ever seen one, with my own eyes?
I have encountered several unusual experiences, but my “angels” know I frighten easily, so they try to be a lot more subtle and subdued than those depicted in art or literature.
As a child, I suffered from night fears but a framed picture hung on my bedroom wall of a beautiful, benevolent, golden angel with a magnificent wing span protecting two small children. It kept my fears at bay. As a teenager, I carried a “holy card” with the likeness of the Archangel Michael on one side and a prayer on the other in my bible. He too had an impressive wing span, but this was a fearsome warrior angel.  With his stern face and righteous sword, he protected me from the evils of the world.
In the summer of 1998, I slipped and fell in an isolated parking lot.  I lay there on the scalding hot pavement with a shattered right kneecap. There was no one nearby, so I yelled for help. Before long a dozen people appeared.  One person retrieved a blanket from the trunk of his car and tucked it around me. A woman lent me her big, floppy purse to lean on while someone else called 911. A crowd encircled me to provide some shade from the blaring sun. They chatted with me and comforted me, some making me laugh. Later, as the EMTs lifted me onto the ambulance, I turned to thank them, but the crowd had disappeared.  When I muttered my disappointment, one of the attendants said only two people had been with me, but they took off as soon as the ambulance had arrived.  What about all the others?
Another time I woke from a deep sleep; someone had called my name. I remember feeling their breath on my face.  I was newly divorced, alone in the house, and it was late at night, but in the dark I saw a light down the hall in the kitchen area. I thought it was one of my kids, dropping by for a late night visit. As I approached, the light dissipated like when a car passes by on the street and its lights travel across the dark room inside the house.  I saw movement near the patio door, and I noticed it was unlocked.  This time I saw the form of a man standing outside my door. A stranger. I quickly turned on the patio light and the person fled. I double checked that all the doors were locked and set the alarm system. I slept on the living room sofa that night in case the person returned. That night has always baffled me. Someone called my name, wanted me awake and in the kitchen, and wanted me to know that I was in danger.

I have had too many such experiences to attribute them to luck or coincidence.  I give full credit to my angels.