A DIFFERENT POINT OF VIEW

Tonight I told my daughter Kristjana that I might write a blog from her perspective.

"How are you going to do that?" She asked.  "You don't know my point of view." 

I gave her my half smile and a look that says, "You foolish, foolish foolish girl. I am your mother, after all."

Kristjana is a standup comedian. She signed with Comedy Central last year but she has not decided how serious she is about this new venture. To her it is something she just likes to do for fun and to meet guys. She is secretive about her performances because she does not want us there, and I know why. She uses our family as fodder. Let's take a perfectly innocent, normal, real life situation and view it now from Kristjana's point of view.

THE SET UP
A few weeks ago I was looking and calling for Kristjana. I walked downstairs, knocked on the bathroom door then walked in. Kristjana had a towel wrapped around her and was just stepping out of the shower.

"Oh there you are, Kristjana. What are you doing?"

"Mother, I am having breakfast at a sidewalk cafe in Paris. What do you think I am doing?" I am getting out of the shower.  When you walk, uninvited, into the bathroom and you see some one dripping wet, wrapped in a towel, stepping out of the shower, you should not have to ask them what they are doing."

If someone had waltzed in on me comedy would not be what flowed from my mouth.  I knew that comedic material was just oozing out of her. I could just hear her on stage...

....In most families showering is a private affair. It takes place behind closed doors. The person taking the shower generally gets naked. They feel comfortable getting naked because this is the one place they don't expect visitors to come calling.  Apparently this is news to my mother. Nothing is sacred to her. After all she saw me naked as a baby. She gave me my first bath.  News flash mother. A few things have changed over the last 30 years.  My mother walked in  the bathroom the other day while I was dripping wet and obviously just stepping out of the shower.  Does she apologize? Does she say excuse me, or even pretend that it was a mistake? Nope. She looks me square in the eye and asks, "what are you doing?"  Apparently, someone dripping wet and naked is not a big enough hint for her.



















SOME QUESTIONS ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN OTHERS


 
I don't know who's idea it was but someone finally realized that since fathers had a very active part in conception, they should be allowed in the delivery room for the big moment and the agonizing hours leading up to it.  Fathers being allowed in the delivery room opened the flood gate for a lot of changes over the years.

When I had my first baby things were simple and my questions were simple. Where is the nearest hospital? Is the baby finally going to come out? What will it be? What will I name it if it does finally arrive. Finally, if it's a boy will I circumcise?  

My two daughters-in law, Kelly and Danae,  and my youngest daughter, Briana each recently had their first baby.  Their choices were endless. How many doctors should I interview? Which hospital should I go to? How soon can I find out what sex it is?  Should I immunize?  Danae and Kelly chose to immunize. Briana--no immunization.  Danae and Kelly chose a doctor.  Briana--a midwife and water birth.  Danae and Kelly chose to let the hospital dispose of the placenta. Briana--she had her own ideas on that subject.

Let's take a moment to discuss placenta disposal.  In my day, we did not eagerly ask the nurse if she would keep our placenta on ice so we could take it home and eat it. If my nurse had politely offered it as an option I may have very impolitely asked Rick to pick it up, throw it in her direction and let her wear it home.  Today  however, it is the new vogue. Briana considered it a rare delicacy that would be yummy and very healthy in a breakfast shake..

Gerald, her husband while happy to be allowed in the delivery room was not so thrilled with the whole placenta parfait. Since he wasn't the one going to eat it however, he reluctantly obliged and toted it to my house where Briana would recuperate.  While I was more than willing to let Briana and my darling little grandson into the house  I was not at all eager to welcome anything else in that had dropped out of her body.

Of course, no one had considered who the artful caver of this delicacy would be. After much loud and vigorous discussion that went like, "GROSS... DON'T LOOK AT ME, ...I AM NOT A SURGEON", Briana finally said she would do it.  Just as she was about to take the plunge Gerald reluctantly manned up. Briana had manned up and had the baby after all. It was the least he could do.

He didn't exactly have any labor  pains during the  chopping process but his nearly digested dinner made several serious attempts at an encore appearance.  Finally, the nastiness was over and all the ice cube trays were in the freezer so they could be conveniently popped into Brianas morning smoothies for several weeks to come. 

Now we come to the one question more important than all the others.

Some time later Kaden, my oldest grandson, asked me if he could use our frozen berries and make a smoothie.  Moments later he called with a question a 17 year old should never have to ask. "Grandma, is this frozen raspberries or is this Auntie Bries placenta?" 


MY NAME IS NOBODY


I don’t know another person on the planet as bad at remembering names as me. I can’t use my age as an excuse either.  My first recollection of my incompetency occurred in college. I was so excited for this particular first date.  When I introduced us to my my roommates date, I gushed.  Hi, I’m Mike Moses and this is my date, Jane Still. Total loss of cool. 

Years later I taught a large Sunday School class which included my son and his friends.  Each week I'd  forget some names and would write them on the board so I could  remember them.  One Sunday, after teaching this class for a year, I walked into the classroom and my mind went completely  blank.  I couldn’t recall one name—including that of my son.
Who knows where my mind goes when I meet people and why, two seconds after an introduction, I cannot recall their names.  I am so busy smiling, and thinking of something I like about them, that their name enters some black hole in my brain and disappears.  

Some people practice techniques that are supposed to help. Like this.  Think of the name of the person you just met. Assign that name to something you can relate it to and put it in a silly sentence. Now, does it seem rational to tell someone who can't remember a single name, to change the name you can't remember anyway and then make up and memorize an entire sentence about it?


What if I met someone named Liz and associated her as, Liz the lizard likes leopard leotards. I would probably forget lizard and think,  salamander.   They both soak in the sun. Sammy salamander soaks in the sun, hence Samantha. Even if I did remember the name Liz I would always picture her in leopard leotards. 

If I was required to think all that silly stuff when I met someone for the first time, I would stand there stupidly trying to think of something to think about instead of smiling and saying hello. 

One method I do find effective, when I can't remember a name and don't want to say, "hey you," I come up with a substitute nickname.

"Hey Babe, Cutie, Darlin', or Sweetie.  Hey Stud, or hey Guy are a little more awkward but still better than, hey Whatcherename."  

When I became an author, calling people Babe, Stud, or Cutie just wouldn't cut it when friends asked me to sign their book. I was forced to memorize a different strategy. One that would not make me look like a socially inept freak. 

One day my husband's cousin, I can’t remember his name, approached me with a book that he wanted me to sign. He gave me a big hug and asked me to sign his book.  I smiled and went for my strategy.

“Who do you want me to write it too?”
He gave me an odd look and said. “My wife.”

I gave him a radiant smile.  “How do you spell that?  I want to be sure to get it right." 

He looked at me like my head had turned into a turnip and sprouted horns, and slowly spelled.  S…A…M…
It was one of those, oh where is a 9 point 0 earthquake when you need it.

SPRING CLEANING





                                                      


 I had one simple goal when I woke up Saturday morning; get my eyebrows waxed. To the  average person who gets their grooming done once or twice a month this might seem like a trivial task.  

Personally, however, I don't seem to think about grooming until my annual spring cleaning.  Clean your house, wax your face.  Prune those grasses, shrubs and bushy brows. My problem is that I can never go the same place twice because my neighborhood shops go out of business.  Perhaps the yearly de-forestation of my face is a deal breaker.

Saturday, I was working so I thought about asking some friends where, and if, they get their brows done. "How often to you get your eyebrows waxed?"  “Are you going to get your eyebrows waxed soon?" "Do you wax your eyebrows yourself or have it done?" 

Maybe I was just sensitive because of my own unibrow, but it  didn't matter how I worded it, it sounded bad.  I may as well come out and say. “Hey, you should really think about cleaning up all that scraggly stuff growing where your eyebrows used to be." 

I had an hour before I figured shops would be closing so I decided to drive down the strip on my way home and see if I could find a hair salon. Apparently, the new trend is to ditch the waxing and hone in on the fingernails because every other shop was touting manicures.  Then I remembered  the little shop that had just opened up a few blocks from home, Miranda's

I pulled into the parking lot. They were still open.  I hurried, hoping they would have time to clean me up.  I read the sign on the door.  That's unusual. Why would they need my ID?  I opened my purse to pull out my wallet,  pushed the door open, and stepped inside.

Little boxes of green leafy plants covered the counters.  I didn't ask about eyebrows. I didn't give them a chance to say what I knew they would say.  I simply gave a sick little smile, backed out the door and asked myself.  "What was I smoking."   




THE LIST

I don’t know if my husband starts to feel neglected when I haven’t written anything about him for awhile or if he just gives me good material unintentionally. Thanksgiving is almost here so asked him to pick up a few groceries for me. My list was short and I went over it with him carefully before I sent him out the door, list in hand.

It wasn’t long until I got the expected call. “Jane, you had the list last. You forgot to give it to me. You need to go over it again to make sure I have everything.”

I am certain he left it in the car but until he goes back and finds it, it’s obviously my fault. I rummaged through the garbage where I had thrown my scratch copy—the long list that I had to pare down so he wouldn’t be overwhelmed.

“Parchment paper.” I read.

“I got that.”

“Turkey.”

“How big of a turkey?”

“Big.”

“How big?”

We have only been buying turkey for about 35 years. We never buy one less than 18 -20 pounds. “Big, hon.”

“I got an 18 pounder. Is that big enough?”

“Yes hon. Now, did you get vanilla ice cream?”

“Oh yeah. The gallon or the good kind?”

I had already told him what kind at least three times when I made the list. “The good kind, hon.”

“Well, I’m not in that aisle yet.”

“Carrots, potatoes, lettuce, apples.” I sighed.

Wait, I got all that except the apples. What kind of apples?”

”The cheapest.”

“I’m in the baking aisle. What did you want there?”

He couldn’t have told me that in the first place! “Icing sugar.”

“Oh, that’s right. You wanted a lot. How much again?”

Hello, we had that conversation too. The man couldn’t remember anything. "Twenty bags. It’s going to go up in price and I want some for storage. Make sure you get the two pound size.”

“They don’t come in two pounds. Lets see…Hytop, oh, here’s the two pound.”

“While you’re in that aisle get five boxes of devil’s food cake mix.”

“There is no devil food. There’s angel food.”

“There is devil’s food. If not, any chocolate cake will do. Just make sure it’s not brownies.”

“Jane, I don’t like chocolate cake. Do you want yellow cake mix?”

NO! I don’t want yellow. I want chocolate!”

“But I don’t like chocolate. Here’s some more angel food.”

“I don’t care if you don’t like chocolate. I have yellow and white and angel. I want chocolate.”

“Oh here it is. Devils food. How many do you want?”

I am now gritting my teeth trying to be patient. “Five.”

“OK, now what do you want?”

“Apples, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberries and walnuts.”

“I have the potatoes. How many sweet potatoes do you want?”

“Just one, medium size.”

“How come you want sweet potatoes? I can’t find them. Oh, here’s yam’s. Do you want yams or sweet potatoes.”

“Yams will be fine. Get yams.”

“Do you want two? Oh this ones’ broken I’ll get another one. So two yams?"

I grunt. “Yes.” Then shove a pencil in my mouth and bite down hard.

“Now, what kind of apples did you want? What do you want them for, to eat or to cook?”

I pry the pencil out of my teeth. “We are going to eat them. Get an assortment.”

“What kind?”

“Whatever is cheapest! Did you get the cranberries?”

“Where are the cranberries?”

“Walk to where the lettuce is. They are to the right of the lettuce.”

“What kind? There’s three kinds.”

“The one’s in the bag, Rick.”

“How many do you want? One bag?”

“Yes dear, one bag. Don’t forget the walnuts. Get them in the bulk food section.”

“Do you have any idea how annoying you are to shop for?” Rick said.

It was a good thing I had taken the pencil out of my mouth or I would have choked to death.

“What kind of walnuts do you want—spiced, salted, canned?”

Canned! Canned! Who buys canned walnuts. There are no canned walnuts in the bulk foods. It’s bulk! I’m annoying! I was biting huge chunks of flesh out of my cheeks. “Raw walnuts, about one pound.! Don’t forget the ice cream.”

“The gallon or the good stuff? Oh yeah, the good stuff. Anything else? Janie, are you there?"

“That’s all.” I manage to choke out. I was stuffing Kleenex into my mouth to staunch the flow of blood.

The next day Rick and I had another little conversation. Turns out the list was on the seat of the car, just like I knew it would be. I decided to read my blog to him before I posted it, to see if he could redeem himself in some small way. It was not to be.

“So, now do you see how annoying you were?” I asked after reading my story.

“Jane, you are not specific, you just tell me to pick up a few things.”

Hmmm, perhaps I could have included a map of each aisle in relationship to all the exits.

“Rick, how much more specific can I get than telling you to buy five boxes devils food cake mix.”

“Well, is devils food always chocolate? Can’t it be white like angel food?”
No! Devils food is always chocolate.
“Ridiculous.”

I suppose he means me. I am the ridiculous one for not explaining to him that devils food cake mix is chocolate not white. One would think he just got off the boat from China and this was his first trip to an American grocery store.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone and don’t forget--do your own shopping.

QUESTIONABLE ENDOWMENTS



Everyone born into this world has at least one talent. The question is—do eccentric accomplishments fall in the same category as talents? In other words, are some gifts better appreciated when you don’t share?

I have one of those, what I consider, ‘better appreciated when not shared,’ talents. My husband feels differently. He thinks the sheer magnitude of my gift is extraordinary. I, on the other hand, felt that my talent was best concealed until after I had a big shiny diamond on the fourth finger of my left hand.

The first time I exposed this rare gift Rick was so flabbergasted that when he could finally speak it was with whispered reverence.

“I was wrong. My cousin Lonny is not the person in the world most worthy of being recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records. He would bow to you.”  I assume I was supposed to feel flattered.

My talent isn’t something I can command. It imply explodes from me. Last week when it burst forth, Rick was once again astounded “Honey, do you practice when no one is home?”

“Of course, every time I wash a dish or clean the toilet I reward myself by rushing to the mirror so I can watch myself perform. Some days I practice so much it’s hard to get anything else done” Rick can be so ridiculous! A few days later, however, I even amazed myself.

Rick is a cherry addict and one night I joined him in eating enough cherries to keep a small, third world village in fruit for the entire winter. All of a sudden a monumental bubble started in my big toe, rolled through my body like an avalanche, over all my organs, and exploded through my mouth.

The titanic explosion lasted a full sixty seconds. The windows rattled. The bed swayed. Rick choked and spewed half chewed cherries and pits across the room. When the bed finally stopped rocking and rolling he swallowed the few remaining cherries in his mouth and said, “Don’t tell me you’re not practicing.”

The moral of the story is—it’s better to burp and bask in fame than hold it in and explode in pain.







A LESSON IN ANATOMY

‘It’s like riding a bike, you never forget.’ That’s what people say when you do something like drive a stick shift for the first time in twenty eight years. It’s meant to encourage you. However, while you might not forget how to ride a bike, there are some things that have changed. The why.

There are many reasons people decide to take up bike riding in their later years. Insanity isn’t necessarily one of them. Personally, I was drawn to the exercise. When you get to be my age, exercise isn’t just for fun, it’s for survival--and insurance that your body will still work right when you need it thirty years from now.

The price of gas is also a motivator. Have you noticed more people bicycling these days? It was a big decision to buy a bike but a friend tipped the scales for me. She mentioned that she had been riding her bike twelve miles a day to work and back. In two months she lost twenty pounds and saved sixty dollars in gas. I dragged my husband bike shopping the very next day.

The most embarrassing part of buying a bike was trying to find the right seat. When I was young I never gave a second thought to comfort. That was back when that area of my anatomy was firm, tight and shapely. I can’t pin point when it happened, but wham, one day it went from being a compact little shock absorber to being just plain shocking.

I was alarmed when Rick tested the biggest seat in the store and still wasn’t happy. I think he wanted something as big as the saucers that you sit on to slide downhill in the snow. I could picture him whacking people on the sidewalk with it as he drove by. Fortunately, they talked him into a comfortable, more aerodynamic seat.

My biggest concern was buying a bike with enough speeds—one that would gear down enough to ride up a simple incline without humiliating myself by having to get off and push. I should have been concerned about simply making it out of the parking lot without fainting from exhaustion.
It wasn’t until after we bought our bikes that I had my vanity attack. There is absolutely nothing attractive about having a chunk of plastic wrapped around your head. And the havoc it plays with your hair! The question was, did I want to face my grandchildren as a vain hypocrite? There is one redeeming thing in owning a helmet. If I do have to walk my bike up a hill nobody will recognize me.

Despite the humiliation of a helmet, and the fact that each bike cost more than our first car, our bike purchases were a great investment. It didn’t take very long to graduate from an exhausting ride around the parking lot, to riding 18 miles to Castle Rock and back. While we haven’t saved much money in gas yet, we have enjoyed another miracle. My husband actually likes waking up early and riding together every morning. And I always thought it would take an earthquake. As published in CRR July 15, 2012


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