Sunday, January 30, 2005

Material Girl

In the early 80’s my Mother’s youngest sister developed breast cancer. My Aunt lives over seas. My Mom was ready to move heaven and earth to be able to be with her sister in her time of need. It’s what sisters do.

It took a few weeks for my Mom to get all the details settled to be able to leave us and help out her sister. The typical things one must do to go over seas; ticket purchase, passport details, prescriptions for a few months, money, making sure Dad will be taken care of - you get the idea. As you can imagine all these plans were a bit harried due to the circumstances. The family here was concerned for Mom being that she has hypertension and doesn’t handle medical crises all that well. My Mom is a worrier; to the point of making herself sick. It’s not something she can control; it’s simply part of her make up.

So the day finally came and we sent Mom on her way. As luck would have it a friend of hers was also making the trip so at least she would have a travel buddy. Their itinerary was to leave BWI airport, fly to JFK International with a 3 hour layover then board their flight to Germany, switch planes there to the final destination.

I returned home later that evening to find my Father pacing irritatingly and my younger sister (Bridezilla) hysterically crying. My first internal thought was my God the plane crashed. I swallowed the lump in my throat and asked what was wrong? My Father informed me that while waiting in the transit lounge at JFK, my Mom was robbed. It was the classic bait and switch her purse was taken. The contents of the purse included her identification, passport, and her medication for 3 months, her ticket, and money - everything she needed to make the trip. I also found out that due to her determination and the fact that she had received her boarding pass prior to the robbery she had persuaded her way onto the plane. My Mom was flying over seas with no way of proving her identity except for the police report from JFK.
My Father’s fear was the unknown. What would happen to his wife once she tried to board the flight in Germany and how was her health - was her blood pressure sky rocketing at this point between her sister’s illness and the robbery. Thus the irritated pacing. So I turned to Bridezilla and asked what her problem was? Why the histrionics? She was upset because some of Mom’s jewelry was in the purse as well. WHAT?!?!?!

What you might need to know is that Bridezilla has a running inventory of all of my Mom’s baubles. I am not kidding. She has them listed with weight of gold, carat of gem, etc. The only piece of jewelry I could tell you about is Mom’s plain wedding band. These are not details I am bothered with. So the crying was over her list being altered in some way. Not the fact that Mom could possibly stroke out during the trip or maybe be detained in a foreign country or worse.

While I was on the phone with immigration officials and the embassy of my Mom’s final destination, Bridezilla was begging Dad to go to the bank as soon as it opened the morning so he could give her an inventory of the items that remained in the safe deposit box. Believe it or not, he did do that the next morning.

After hours of phone calls, I found out that if my Mom was allowed to board the plane in Germany and if she was able to get off the plane at the final destination, they would depose her and all would be well. She would then have to go about getting all her ID replaced. If they refused to let her board the plane in Germany, she would be placed on the next flight back to the USA and according tot he rules it would have been as if she never left the country.

We did have a multiple happy ending to this event. Mom made it to her sister safely and Bridezilla’s inventory list was only minimally affected. Crisis averted!

Friday, January 28, 2005

Previous Life of a Cat, the Power of the Evil Eye, Guardian Angel or Sheer Luck....

Maybe all of the above. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that my Mother survived a very serious car accident. Since last Friday, it’s weird how the little things just don’t bother me nearly as much or if at all. Perspective is a very powerful thing.

Besides the 6 broken ribs my 78-year-old Mother suffered, she is faring quite well. She is recovering painfully and pretty bravely if you ask me. It really is a miracle. The whole incident could have ended in so many varying horrible ways. In fact as I write this I am sobbing uncontrollably. I didn’t cry when I got the phone call about the accident or when I got my hourly updates from the family. I was anxious and worried and all the other emotions you endure, crying just didn’t happen.

Unfortunately, my Mom is not a stranger to major car accidents. If I am not mistaken, she has taken a helicopter ride at least twice to Shock Trauma. I wonder if she has accumulated any frequent flier credits? My older sister and I believe that in a previous life she must have been a cat. Call it superstition or fear but we really don’t want to go back and actually count how many close calls she has had and what number remains.

Mom has decided to not drive anymore. I really can’t say that I blame her. It will be a huge adjustment for her to have to rely or ask someone else for a ride. Thankfully she has that choice to make. Like I mentioned above, we are quite grateful that she survived. The rest is gravy.

We will figure it out Mom. Get well soon!!!

Sunday, January 23, 2005

2005's First Snow Storm

I was going to write a post about the various embarrassing ways dog owners brace their pooches for the cold. Then I realized that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones. You see I have a senior dog that needs to wear snow booties to be able to enjoy the white stuff that has accumulated in our area over the last 24 hours.

Dexter loves the snow. What he doesn’t love are the balls of snow that form between the pads of his paws. Last year I purchased some booties for him and after wrestling with him for 10 minutes to get the damn things on, he would not move. He stood there frozen in either awkwardness or shame. Probably a combination of both. Once I was able to drag him outside and he started prancing around in the snow without his paws freezing, he was one happy elderly golden retriever. It certainly beats the old days where he would just lay down in the snow and wait for me to pick out the snowballs.

The things we do for our furry kids. I am thankful that Dexter embraces the snow with vigor. His normal routines are not disrupted by the white stuff. I just came in with Dexter after a hearty walk. We ran into a neighbor who was distressed by her dog’s snowstipation. It appears poor Paco cannot or will not poop in the snow. He does look stylish however; a fleece lined suede number. I am sure Dexter is thankful that besides the booties he is not required to wear any other snow gear.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Helpful Hints from Wicked H

It is not advisable to stage a revolt in the middle of DC during the week of Inauguration ever. Especially during rush hour when most streets are closed for the upcoming festivities. It is further imprudent to threaten to blow up your van that you refuse to remove unless your friends’ immigration issues are settled immediately.

Please, buy a clue.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Tsunami Relief Concert

Was it just me? Or were most of the artists off key, I mean waay off.

Sure the whole thing was a very noble cause but for some reason it did not move me nearly as the 911 concert did. Maybe it’s sensory overload. I know it isn’t apathy. I did my part and sent my donation long before the concert was even organized.

It’s sad to me that all the devastation of the tsunami leaves me numb now. I am hoping that 2005 yields more happiness around the world.

Happy MLK Day!!

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Cows, Flatulence and Physics

During my sophomore physics class, it became abundantly clear that the portion of my brain that processes 3 dimensional thinking and the ability to decipher word problems was left out. It is one of the reasons my dream of becoming a physician never came to fruition. Of course the fact that I was more of a relaxed versus aggressive student played a big part as well.

I did extremely well in the physics lab class, which is a really good thing. At least in the lab the 3 dimensional deficiency was overcome with the models that we used. Also the lab consisted of 30 students where it was less intimidating asking questions. I was not apt to interrupt a lecture with 450 other students present to ask a question. I have tried to erase most of this experience from my memory banks as I try to do with unpleasant events in my life. However, I will never forget the final exam for that class.

I attended the University of Maryland - GO TERPS!!! Back when I was there the physics department was so big that the final exam took place in Cole Field House, the basketball stadium. The students were seated strategically to avoid cheating with a piece of ply board on our laps as make shift desks. The test was handed out and we had 2 hours to complete it. To my horror the test consisted of 25 word problems. I did my best to plod through the exam.

I had an outer body experience right after I read question 15. The question was this: A cow is grazing in a field. There is no wind. 250 yards behind and to the left of the cow sits a young boy reading a book. 250 yards behind and to the right of the cow sits another boy writing in a journal. If the cow expels gas which young man will smell the odor first? I cannot make these questions up; this truly was question 15.

I calmly wrote down my answer complete with expletives, got up, gathered all my belongings and turned in my exam. Shortly after that I dropped my pre-med minor. It just was not meant to be.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Never Let Them See You Sweat

I have never responded well to those who like to push buttons for the sheer pleasure of getting a reaction. I am not sure how I developed my credo however I am quite good at not giving anyone the reaction they are trying to illicit. I am not sure if this is a learned behavior for me or if I was born with it. I’ll let you decide.

I carried a pacifier and blanket around well into age three. I honestly don’t remember it being an issue for my parents. It became an issue at an afternoon tea party that my Mom took me to. I may have been the only child there, I don’t remember those details. I do know that all of the women there had known me since birth. I refer to them as pseudo Aunts still. One in particular was very bothered by my pacifier and blanket. The entire time we were there she kept berating me about how I was a big girl and that I should be embarrassed by my blanket and pacifier. She was relentless. I, of course, did not show any type of reaction other than having a firmer grasp on the blanket and maybe sucking on the pacifier with vigor. She finally gave up and went back to the tea party festivities.

Later that afternoon when we got back home, I went directly to the kitchen trash can. I opened the lid, turned to my Mom and told her I no longer needed the pacifier and blanket and I threw them away and replaced the lid. I never asked for them again nor did it affect my sleep patterns or security issues.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

The Ambiguity of Depth

Do you remember when you were in college and you found yourself asking “when will I ever use this in real life?” I personally found myself asking that question numerous times while struggling through physics – don’t even get me started on that right now.

In retrospect, I figured I would be using most of the knowledge gained in my psychology classes. What I didn’t predict was that Dexter, my dog, would prove the depth ambiguity theorem. Please, allow me to explain.

I had just moved into a rental house in rural NC and had left Dexter with friends during the ordeal. Why stress the dog out as well? After getting things organized enough for Dexter to join me, I brought him to our new abode. He spent a good hour trying to figure out how the old scents co-mingled with the new surroundings. I was busy unpacking the kitchen. In most southern homes the main entrance is through the back door. It took me a while to get used to front doors not having sidewalks that lead up to them.

In this house the back door was in the kitchen. Also a southern staple if I am not mistaken. The floor was covered in linoleum with a black and white checkered pattern, each checker was 2 square feet. Exhaustion had set in so I was ready to call it a night. I wanted to let Dexter out one last time before we turned in. I called him and he came galloping around the corner, took one step onto a white square and froze. I have never seen him come to a dead stop like that. He became a statue. I could not figure out what was wrong. I looked into the kitchen to see what had spooked him, I found nothing. I tried coaxing him with treats, sweet talk – nothing worked. He was not going to move off that square! I literally had to drag him by the collar across the kitchen floor and out the door. Once he hit the threshold of the back door he was back to normal. I was still clueless.

Of course trying to get him back into the door and across the kitchen floor was even harder. I really was too tired to fight with him. I went outside with him and we both came back into the house through the front door. He was happy, tail wagging the whole bit.

The next morning it all became clear. I had inadvertently left a throw rug on the kitchen floor when I let Dexter out. By the time he was ready to come in, the throw rug was missing from the kitchen. He froze again. Dexter thought he was going to fall through the black checkers on the floor. Depth Ambiguity.

How did I solve the problem? Throw rugs the length of the kitchen. That in and of itself made college worth it. Well not really, but it sounded good anyway.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

The Wisdom of Little Mermaid

Let me start off by wishing everyone a prosperous New Year. I made a resolution to not stress out about the lack of posting every day. I am happy to report that so far, I have been able to keep that resolution. Phew, glad when the pressure is off.

On New Year’s Day, my 9 year old niece and I were taking the long way back to her house. It is one of my quirks to take the longer route if the mood strikes and anytime I have quality Wicked and Little Mermaid times the mood is always good. She was telling me about a bullyette in her class at school. From the many scenarios I have heard from her parents and the accounts she gave me herself, it seems like this bullyette has major issues. Unfortunately, she is taking them out on MY NIECE. The quandary is this: the bullyette is very intimidating and when she doesn’t get her way she tattles. She tells the teacher that Little Mermaid is being mean to her. The teacher then has a conversation with my niece and her feelings get hurt. Some progress has been made in that the teacher has separated the two, they no longer share a table/desk. However; the browbeating continues and it is stressing out my niece.

I had some advice for her. I told Little Mermaid to ignore bullyette. Little Mermaid said that if she did the retribution was to be pulled aside by the teacher and told not to be mean. To which I suggested that Little Mermaid let the teacher know that she chose the high rode by ignoring the troublemaker so that all her energies could be devoted to school work. She should further clarify that bullyette is distracting her and by ignoring her she is not being mean, rather being diligent about her studies.

After a long pause, Little Mermaid asked me if I was sure about the advice. I asked her why she was hesitant to go with my suggestion? She reminded me that I was the one who had to wear her chewing gum on her nose, during lunch in the cafeteria while seated next to the teacher in the 7th grade. I hate when my indiscretions are thrown back to me. I defended my actions by stating that since I was such a trouble maker when I was her age I was able to learn by mistakes and pass my wisdom onto her. I certainly didn’t want her to repeat my mistakes.

Good save – right?