I Am What Happens to Your Stuff

I called my brother the other day and reached his voicemail. He must have still been at the burial site and couldn’t pick up. I was waiting at the country club trying to find out how soon everyone would arrive from the cemetery so I could let the chef know when to bring out the food. The sooner the better, I had a five year old to pick up at a bowling themed birthday party at 1:30.

It was Saturday and I was working. I had three children with me because there was a minimum of 35 for food and we were crossing our fingers to get 25 at the funeral and lunch. I figured somebody has to eat all those stuffed shells and beef tips, it may as well be us. When you reach 94, you’ve outlived most of the warm butts who would normally attend your services. It happens.

This is what I do. Everything and anything, from funeral luncheon arrangements to disposing of storagebelongings, including but not limited to, clothing, food, china, furniture, vintage Pfaff sewing machines, decorative plates and mid-century blaupunkt radio turntable liquor cabinets that everybody and their brother’s grandparents once had displayed prominently next to their chenille sofas. And jewelry. Jewelry is nice.

I search for hidden cash in ancient Tupperware containers and in envelopes taped under dresser drawers. The treasure hunt makes up for the times I must empty disgusting fridges and clean up other people’s bathrooms. They don’t make rubber gloves large enough for that.

Over the years I’ve found money and cut gems, massive amounts of vintage jewelry and enough bows to top Christmas presents for the rest of my life. I don’t get to keep anything, except the bows, and the dryer sheets and loads of tissue boxes. But, all in all, it’s not such a bad way to make a buck.

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Longer than the Line for Snow Crab Legs at the Chinese Buffet

I dragged myself out of bed this morning a few minutes late, so while I was still brushing my teeth my daughter came in to the bathroom, sat down on the toilet and proceed to tell me her Once Upon A Time (TV show) related dream from the night before. Every. single. detail.

sigh

My children all tend to be long-winded – it may be related to the fact that English is not their first language so the older ones struggle with being concise; however, if I’m honest with myself, I fear they get their long-windedness from me.

I was a long story teller as a child, as my brother likes to remind me. I especially liked relating every plot detail of a movie that I had recently watched to my captive family (usually in the car.)

tarzanWhenever one of my children starts in on a long story I think, this is for all those times I subjected my family to the entire storyline of an ancient Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movie or something grotesque I watched on Saturday morning’s Theater Bazaar.

Actually, I think all your bad habits from childhood get rained back down on you when you are a parent. Wet towels on the bed? I can still clearly remember getting punished for leaving wet towels on my bed around age twelve. I wasn’t allowed to watch TV for a week. This was lauraespecially painful because I was watching Little House on the Prairie and my no TV week fell right when Laura and Almanzo were falling in love. Dang it. I was sorely disappointed to miss the best part and I surely learned my lesson. No more wet towels on the bed.

As I walk through my house each day picking up towels from beds and floors and the living room couch, I think, yep, I did this to me.

To my mother and to anyone I ever subjected a long tale of a movie plot (or if I left a wet towel on your bed), you’ll be happy to know, it’s all come back to me. All. come. back. to. me.

And then some.

On the upside, at least the kids are bathing…

Five-Minute-Friday-4

This post was inspired by the word, LONG, and was written alongside of a whole bunch of other bloggers writing for Five Minute Friday. Link up here.

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Longing for the Apocalypse

It’s no secret that I love a good Zombie flick. Maybe they resonate with me because I consider myself a survivor, so much so, that I would never consider participating in a “Zombie Run” or the like because,

A. I would never want to “be” the zombie (I’m a Survivor of course.)

B. I have no desire to run from zombies – if you can’t kill them, what’s the point?

Since we are coming into that zombie time of year (October and the return of The Walking Dead) I decided to research Zombie origins to satisfy my curiosity. I am in no way an expert and my “sources” have been gathered exclusively from the wonderful world of The Internet, and my own brain.

Zombies can be classified into two categories:

Category A: Zombies: Corpses raised from the dead by magic or witchcraft as by Haitian voodoo.

Category B: Zombies: Fictional undead creatures originally found in mythical literature, such as that age old classic, the ancient Mesopotamian Epic Poem – Gilgamesh, where we are told “the dead will go up and eat the living.” Or, in more recent centuries, Shelley’s Frankenstein or the novelette’s of H.P Lovecraft. These undead creatures appeared in fictional written and oral traditions until the 20th century when the zombie genre expanded to include film and TV (i.e. 1968 Romero classic, Night of the Living Dead.)

The Zombies that fascinate me are the second category, fictional creatures. I believe voodoo, witchcraft and satanic forces exist in this world. Demons are real. I have first-hand knowledge. They are not funny. They are not cool. I do not choose to derive pleasure from anything satanic, nor will I ever. But that is a topic for another post.

When I refer to zombies, it is the creature who, usually by the introduction of some sort of infection or virus has killed the host (i.e. – the human is dead) and the zombie virus now inhabits the body. There is nothing satanic or demonic at work, but rather a super nasty, and deadly, disease that utilizes a corpse.

So what is it exactly that fascinates me (and literally millions around the world) about the zombie genre.

Could it be the Fear of death?  Does our fear of death present in such a way that not only do we fear our own deaths, but we take it a step further and fear those things that are dead? Possible.

Yet, I do not fear death. On the other hand, I definitely do not want to get eaten alive. That would be horrible. Zombie or shark or remote jungle cannibal – really, who doesn’t fear getting eaten alive?

As I considered my fascination with the zombie genre a little longer I realized that it was not so much the zombies themselves that fascinate me but rather, the idea of Apocalypse that I find most often goes hand in hand with modern zombie stories.

If I were to ask a stranger on the street, to define “apocalypse” I believe most would define this word to mean a specific catastrophic event in which the world as we know it is destroyed and the ensuing struggle for survival in the aftermath of the event (i.e. zombie virus, Biblical prophecy, world-wide death due to flu virus, world war/bombs, collapse of the internet/electricity, etc…) Truthfully, this has become the modern definition of the word.

However, the original meaning of the Greek word, apokalypsis (apocalypse) according to Strong’s concordance is:

def 

The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon describes apocalypse to mean:

  1. laying bear, making naked
  2. a disclosure of truth, instruction
  3. concerning things before unknown
  4. used of events by which things or states or persons hitherto withdrawn from view are made visible to all
  5. manifestation, appearance

It seems to me, the essence of apokalypsis (apocalypse) is the action of something that was once hidden and is now being revealed.

As in: Jesus revealed God to man.

“Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father?”’” John 14:9

If this is the essence of apocalypse, no wonder millions are fascinated with it. What is more deliciously frightening than the unknown?

I believe we have deceived ourselves into believing that what we know is all there is, and what we do not yet know is simply, undiscovered – yet, discover-able by us. However, on some level, the thought of an unknown, the revelation of that which we have never known before, or ever could know on our own, terrifies, exhilarates and ultimately utterly fascinates us.

We search for truth in that which is not true (like zombies taking over the earth) because there is something inside of us that knows there is a veil over our eyes, that there is more than we could ever come to know on our own short of a some sort of miraculous unveiling.

I suppose my fascination with the zombie apocalypse genre is more than just your everyday, common fascination with creepy stuff; I believe it is a longing for the revelation to, at last, be revealed. A crying out of my flesh and my spirit, in my own unique way, for the restoration of how things were meant to be. It is a longing for an end of this temporary existence and a stepping into the eternal existence with God, through Jesus, that has been The Creator’s intention since the beginning of time.

Call me crazy, you won’t be the first, but it won’t curb my longing for the apocalypse.

 

These are my thoughts, I proclaim freely that I am no expert, just a simple soul who loves Zombie stuff and longs for the day when the veil will be removed and all will be revealed.  I welcome discussion and corrections!

I am no Greek or Biblical scholar, but until today, I did not realize that the Greek word for apocalypse was used in the Bible. (Rom 16:25, 2 Cor. 12:7, Gal. 1:12, Eph. 3:3, Rev. 1:1 to cite just a few locations.)

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Don’t Tinkle in That Toilet

On Thursday I am having guests over for dinner. As you can imagine, this week has been, and will be, a flurry of cleaning and cooking.

Growing up, my Mom was not much of an entertainer, but on those rare occasions when my Dad convinced her to have people over, my Mother insisted on cleaning our home from top to bottom in preparation. At 74, she’s still the same way.

As I prepare for my own guests, I am mapping out the priorities of my To-Do list in my head. It only makes sense that cleaning the bathrooms comes last on the list, obviously, and I wouldn’t dream of touching them until an hour or two after my last child walks out the door for school on Thursday.

bathroom 1

In my childhood home there were three bathrooms. Two were in public areas and one was hidden. Through my parents’ bedroom and on the other side of their walk-in closet was one, single bathroom that was available for use. On party days, the hidden bathroom was the only bathroom we were allowed to use. In fact, we never even considered tinkling in the downstairs Powder Room or Upstairs Bathroom before a party. Stinking one up or leaving poop streaks on the newly scrubbed toilet bowl was an offense punishable by means we could only imagine. The truth is, we had no idea what the punishment would be for defiling an already pre-party cleaned bathroom.

No One Had Ever Done It.

At 41, I have four children of my own. It all makes complete sense now. Hanging a “Do Not Use” sign on the downstairs bathroom door on entertaining days seems the most natural thing in the world.

Tell me I’m not the only one…

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I Got This

car

“Lord, Help me to be a safe driver for my children.”

That’s a weird prayer.

Definitely one I’ve never prayed before, but last night as I was driving through my little town with two precious angels in the back seat, I suddenly found myself praying those words.

That’s weird, I thought. I’m an excellent driver with an excellent driving record. I’m not known for being reckless, I don’t text/drink and drive. I don’t get distracted or turn around and discipline my children (even if they need it) while driving.

When I drive, I just drive. Carefully.

For an all-around good driver, it seemed like a strangely random prayer.

Not 60 Seconds Later while driving on a slightly larger road I saw headlights coming out of the darkness, straight at us. For a moment I was utterly bewildered. At last, my brain accepted that a car was being driven on the wrong side of the median strip – he was driving southbound in a northbound lane. MY lane.

With plenty of room to spare I pulled over to the shoulder and laid on the horn (s/he should know s/he’s doing something utterly wrong) and kept driving.

There was no screeching of tires, or close calls, but it was a very dark strip of road and a potentially dangerous situation.

That little, random prayer suddenly made sense. Do I think my little prayer saved us? No. Not at all. It just seemed to be God’s way of reminding me that,

He sees where I’m heading. He knows everything that is coming at me – and He’s like, I got this.

“Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save,
    nor his ear too dull to hear.” Is. 59:1

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Joy in the Noise

joy noise

I send them off with a “Walk fast” and “Don’t be grouchy.” At last, there is silence. But these first few moments of quietness as I watch them walk to the street corner are merely an illusion.

The truth is, if I were to lock myself in my bedroom and hide my head under my pillow, silence would be as illusive then as if I were to seek it in a Bombay train station.

The main culprit is my internal assistant, AKA – my brain. And I talk to myself. A lot. Much to my children’s chagrin. For years my daughter thought I was talking to Jesus. Actually, I’m just working things out in my head.

While I am working them out, I like to walk our local bike path and just be quiet. No iTunes, or audio books – just me and my brain in the “silence.” I talk to God for a while. I think. I blog in my head. Here too, the silence is an illusion just as it is in my home, or car, or church or anywhere else. A whole day of duties awaits me and the internal assistant is an expert at keeping my mind a step ahead, preparing me.

Bingo 1000

Though I labor, she is never satisfied. After the cleaning and shopping and Halloween Bingo playing and more cleaning and office work and dinner out and more Halloween Bingo, I LONG for silence and solitude. I bundle the children off to the upstairs and say, “Stay.”

The truth is,  I am raising four girl humans and they talk. A lot. Usually at the same time. Sometimes they get annoyed that a sister is talking at the same time as them. Then they whine. Then they stop talking because they are whining because they want to be talking.

My head spins like a Bingo cage.

I become aggressive in my search for silence. From a floor away I still hear their shrill tones raised in play (?) argument (?) It won’t be long until I hear, “MOM!” cried out from the top of the stairs.

Do they need me? Doubtful. They just want to know I’m around.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I occasionally wonder if the silence I seek is even out there. Would I need to be stranded on a boat alone in the middle of the ocean for weeks and weeks with no sound save the lapping of the waves against my raft to find the silence? Would the internal assistant finally use her vacation days? I wonder.

I wonder what I would find in the silence.

I wonder if I am capable of silence. I’m not talking about survival. This is Life. This is living. It’s parenting, providing, creating, building relationships, resting, loving.  I think about what would have to occur for me to find a place where my mind was free to be silent, were it possible. Would I give up conversations in the car with my children – the place where the most significant and meaningful discussions in our family occur? Would I give up nights of Halloween Bingo when I should be cleaning or working (or blogging) to find it?

At what cost would I obtain this illusive silence?

I imagine it would be more than I am willing to sacrifice. The joy in the midst of the noise sustains me.

This is life. This is a journey. I suppose I must walk a little faster and try not to be grouchy along the way…

TuesdayI was inspired to write this post for Tuesday at Ten. Prompt word: Silence. This post was difficult for me to write, I had to push myself to make it happen and that’s not bad. Reflecting on silence helped me obtain a smidgen of clarity in my usually cluttered mind to focus, not just on what inspires me and flows outward all on its own, but to work with minimal inspiration and create something that is still me. Whew.

That Person

I’ve become that person.

I’m not exactly sure what elements in my life have banded together to create this person that I have become but I think living in third world countries and being a single mother have certainly contributed.

Long story short: Last night I took my iPad to a kiosk in the mall to be repaired. Over the summer the glass got stepped on, broke and I subsequently tried to fix it at home. Bad idea – I messed up the wifi receptor and had to have it replaced.

After being thoroughly rebuked by 16 year old Ron at the kiosk, “In the future, never try to fix this at home.”  I was given a quote of $65 to replace the wifi thingy and to clean off some remaining adhesive and restick the glass. Thirty minutes to fix.

Thirty minutes later he hadn’t even started. I had all four kids with me. In the mall. sephThey had already raided Sephora and were covered in make-up. Loads of kid homework and exhaustion were looming at home. The best decision seemed to be: go home and pick up the repaired iPad the next morning. Young Ron said that was fine and that, no, I did not need a receipt.

This morning when I returned to pay, a different man charged me $75 for the job. $75. WHAT! I was quoted $65. The man talked to the kiosk owner on the phone again and again but the owner refused  to budge on the price.

There was nothing left for me to do but wait. I was told the boss would be there in person in 20 minutes. *I seriously considered plopping down $70 in cash ($65 + 7% sales tax) and taking my iPad and leaving. If he said anything I was going to reply, “Arrest me!” and walk off. But the ATM only gave out $20s.*

I knew the owner wouldn’t be there in twenty. Still, I stood right there in front of the guy at the kiosk for 20 minutes. He became increasingly uncomfortable. Then I waited 10 more minutes and when the guy still would not charge me $65 for the repair, although I asked him, I spoke to a security guard and asked where I could make a complaint.

$10

I want my ten dollars!

While I was writing out the complaint at Guest Services, the owner finally arrived. He had kept me, a customer, waiting for 40 minutes. For $10. The owner then called Ron and asked how much he had quoted me the night before (wait, couldn’t the boss have done this 40 minutes ago?) The owner hung up and charged me $65.

I own my own business. The amount of money that I could have made in those 45 minutes at the mall had I been working is MORE than the $10 I was fighting for. I actually lost money. But, you see,  I have become that  person. I knew I was being scammed. The owner of the kiosk assumed that I would grumpily pay the extra $10 in order to move on with my life. He was wrong.

He had no earthly idea that he was dealing with that person, although he probably has a more colorful name for me.

I suppose Single motherhood, Being a woman and Vast experience overseas in bargaining and rip-off techniques have formed me in to that person. I stood up for my ten dollars. I stood up for all our ten dollars. In the end, I felt really good.

Kind of silly that I just wrote about my “Good Morning” Mission yesterday. Oh well,  you can follow the crazy on bloglovin’

The “Good Morning” Mission

walk 3

On clear days when I walk westward I get a view of the skyline of Philadelphia.

I love walking in the morning. My town has a marvelous, 2 mile “bike trail” running right through the center of it. It was built to cover the old railroad tracks no longer in use, so it truly does – run right through the center of town.

walk 1

No matter what the weather or which direction I’m walking, I do enjoy my little path.

Since writing my post, Everyone is Friendlier than People from New JerseyI’ve been more determined to greet passersby as I walk on the path or am out and about. In a sense, it has become My Mission.

Everyday as I walk the path I make an effort to say, “Good Morning” to the people I pass. This is a lot more awkward than you’d think it would be.

I once passed an old gentleman from behind and as I was lapping him I greeted him with a warm, “Good Morning.” I walked to the end of the path, swiveled around and started heading back East. A few minutes later the old gentleman and I passed again, this time we were walking toward each other. When he saw me his face brightened and he said an enthusiastic, “Gut Morningh” with a heavy accent and a smile.

I don’t think he recognized me from the front, and although this could have been a somewhat awkward situation, my heart was gladdened to think that my initial “Good Morning” to him a few minutes earlier had created a positive chain reaction. 

I said it to him and then he said it to me. And I’m OK with that.

I take My Mission seriously but the following is a list of people that I Do Not say “Good Morning” to:

  • Dog walkers whose dogs are in the middle of a poop. (This happens more often than you can imagine.) I figure these people must be humiliated enough watching their dogs take a dump and probably are wishing for invisibility. I sure would be. Therefore, out of consideration for their remaining shreds of dignity, I walk right by without a greeting and pretend to see nothing.
  • People with ear-buds in. This is a struggle. I want to say “Good Morning” but I know they can’t hear me. I try to make eye contact and smile instead.
  • People I’ve already passed once and already greeted. Awkward. I don’t make eye contact
    weird me

    mini half-mouth smile

    until I am a few feet from them and then I look over for just the teensiest instant and flash them a mini half-mouth smile. I have this down to an art form. It means, I acknowledge you. We passed and greeted each other 9 minutes ago. In fact, we pass and greet each other this way every day. I’m on A Mission, you see.

  • Groups of people walking together in conversation. What is the etiquette here? Do I interrupt? I’m 50/50 on this one.

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I Named My Daughter After a Barbie Movie

If you have girl children you are probably aware of the World of Barbie Movies.

Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper

Barbie: Fairytopia

Barbie Fairytopia: Mermaidia

Barbie as the Island Princess

Barbie in ‘A Christmas Carol’

The list goes on and on. The premise is the same, Barbie, an actress, is playing these various rolls and therefore she is not known as “Barbie” but by some other name in the movie.

12 bIn 2006 a movie, “Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses” arrived in India as a Christmas gift from my mother to my two (at that time) daughters. Barbie is playing the third oldest of the twelve sisters who falls in love with her cobbler (the guy who makes her shoes). Spoiler: They get married. It could totally happen.

For two months Barbie and her eleven sisters danced across our TV screen until February when we packed up the little girls and traveled to the US to give birth to Baby #3.

     Indian culture demands a boy child and, after two female children, hopes were high that Baby #3 would be a BOY. It is illegal in India for an ultrasound technician or Doctor to reveal the sex of a baby to the parents (- too many female children aborted. Sad, true story.) Later, by the time I had an ultrasound in the US I was past 36 weeks and it was difficult for the American technician to determine the sex of Baby #3.
    Up until this point, my husband had forbidden me to discuss or even think of girl names for Baby #3, I suppose he thought we would jinx it. Therefore, as my due date loomed near, we had not a single name for a girl child.
     Although the technician could not definitively determine baby #3’s sex, she did say that she was 75% sure the baby was a girl. This was enough for me to push for a girl name discussion on the drive home. The husband was amiable and never really minded having girls and he immediately suggested “Jennifer.”
    Ack! I am a child of the 80s! Jennifer is a great name but sadly OVER used in the era of my youth and I could not help but recoil from the name (my sincerest apologies to any Jennifers or Jennifer mothers reading this – I’m just keeping it real.)  However, being the compromising sort I immediately offered the name, “Genevieve” for consideration.
     Genevieve had never been on my Baby Name List before that moment but it just popped out and it was still “Jen” and I liked it. A lot.
      So did he. A few weeks later we held a precious 8lb Genevieve in our arms.Gen
  Three months later we packed up our growing family and returned to our Indian home. It wasn’t long until Barbie was once again dancing across our TV screen.
     I distinctly remember standing in the kitchen of our little house one evening and overhearing the sounds of the TV in the other room.
     “Genevieve…” one of the movie characters said. Huh? What? I rushed into the living room.
      It was true.
    I had named my child after Barbie’s character in Barbie in the Twelve Dancing Princesses. And I didn’t even know it. Subliminally the name must have been circulating in my head for months, waiting to for its chance. Sigh. As humiliating as this confession is, I do LOVE the name Genevieve and I wouldn’t change it if I could. I suppose I should thank Barbie, not just for delivering such a great name, but also for saving me from a Jennifer.
     Thank you Barbie.
  In a side note of more weirdness, my oldest daughter’s name is “Eve.” It took me a whole year before I realized the connection. Genevieve and Eve. Sigh. Duh. Sigh again. Yes, it’s weird. Yes, it gets confusing around the house – which one am I calling…  I have no excuse. 
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    (I apologize for the horrid formatting and lack of paragraph spacing – WordPress is freaking out on me. 😦  )