Mommy Hugs

sleeping-cher

It’s the smell of vomit on my shirt that wakes me up, or maybe its just the first thing that I notice.  Curdled milk and stomach acid combine to make a very unique smell which seems to follow me everywhere I go.  The source of the bodily fluids is still fast asleep; curled up on his side, with his chubby cheeks and rosebud lips making him look like a cherub resting from fluttering about on a pair of tiny wings. 

In reality, the baby is tired from chasing the cat, pulling all of the pots and pans out of the cabinets, standing up against the toilet and dismantling the nightlight from the wall which was somehow missed in the last round of babyproofing.  He continues to show us what he needs and wants, what he likes and dislikes, and how to be better parents. 

One of his primary interests is in ending all cell phone usage in his presence.  He reminds us to be present or else he will put a handful of ants in his mouth.  He keeps us accountable through inquisitive eyes that see and question all.  He keeps us selfless as we prepare him for the world and a future independent of diapers, rattles and pureed food but never free from mommy hugs, I hope.    

Sign Painter Needed

cubeThe interview started once we were all seated.  Two young women crammed next to one another behind one desk in a weird power sharing, conjoined-twins type of way.  

One of the heads asked, “Well, do you have any questions about the job?”

I checked my watch and confirmed that only one minute had passed since walking from the waiting room to the office that was separated from the rest of the cubicle farm by a few panes of glass.  It wasn’t as though I was applying to an advertisement that said, Sign Painter Needed.  The position was a little more complicated and the description was less than clear in explaining that travel was required but all work could be done from home.  

“Actually, I do have some questions, but first, would you like a copy of my resume?”

They laughed in-sync as one might expect conjoined twins to do; sharing the same sense of humor seemed natural for these fledgling sisters-from-different-misters.

“Everything is online now,” the second head explained like she was talking to an old-timer instead of someone who had only been out of the work force for six months.  “We have it all right here,” she tapped the side of her desktop computer, a trusted old companion.  

Obviously, its online, that’s how you received my information.  It’s a courtesy to offer, I grumbled silently to myself.  Instead of calling her a moron, I remained diplomatic and offered, “Why don’t we begin with reviewing the basic needs of the job and then we can go from there.”

The gals looked at each other and nodded in agreement.  Sounds reasonable, they telepathically said.  

With the three of us in the closed office, the air quickly grew thick and stale.  Why is there no air circulation in here?  I wondered as I half listened to the two gloss over the travel and clerical duties as they shared a laugh about potentially spending five hours at a copy machine.  

“Don’t worry, we supply the paper.”

When I realized that copy machine story was real, my interest seriously waned but they still twittered on like birds on a wire.

“That sums it up, any other questions?” the first head asked.

Aside from, where is the door, I only thought of getting home to my almond-eyed boy and not wasting another minute away.    

The Cost of Freedom

dog

After the rain stopped, a dog appeared from an alley.  It zig-zagged up the sidewalk, sniffed at a door with green paint that curled up in half-peels and then stopped to lap at a puddle of dirty water.

The dog was caramel colored with medium length hair that was darker in some areas where it gathered into mats between raw, bald spots. A frayed rope hung from its leather collar, a dangling reminder of the jail from which the dog had just escaped.

The dog moved with a heavy slowness, dragging the invisible weight of a broken spirit.  It had been too hungry, cold, and neglected for too long to start to heal in a day or two out of the yard.  In fact, freedom wasn’t so different from incarceration in the backyard where it had lived tied to a tractor tire for the past few years.  Either way, there wasn’t any food, clean water or anyone to give a damn if it lived or died.

He reflected the people living in the abandoned and dilapidated buildings along the cracked sidewalk.  They lumbered through life with their heads down, too sad, lonely and hopeless for too long.

No one came after the dog as it wandered into the distance, further from the yard and ever closer to an tenuous future that was certain to end with Animal Control or crumpled in an alleyway.  Still, freedom was worth it.

Borrowed Air

How to get lucky with the Lotto

mega mill

Sadly, our chance to win half a billion dollars ended two nights ago in California along with our dreams of paying off the house and student loans, traveling to exotic locations, starting a charity, and buying a monkey.  I was really looking forward to casually handing in my resignation notice with a “no real plans from here” kind of attitude.  Instead, I return to work and ruminate on how things could have gone differently.

I find myself thinking about the man who parks outside of the office in a beat up, old white car with dents that are well distributed around ugly and jagged spots of rust.  As he waits for someone to come out, he frantically scrapes away at multiple scratch-off Lotto tickets.  He holds them just outside of the window to allow the silver bits and pieces to flutter to the ground as he works towards the potential prize, hidden just one layer down.  What drives his urgency to finish the task?  Is he feeling a rush of adrenaline or is he in a rush to finish before his expected passenger arrives?

After recently playing a few numbers in the Mega Millions, I understand the man better in my own burgeoning fascination with gambling.  We play to win and in that ever-so-unlikely chance of winning, there is an excitement about a new life and potential change requiring no work, like losing weight without diet or exercise.  It’s a fantasy for the lazy or over-worked.

On the night of the drawing, we carefully weighed our options.  Play and win, play and lose, or don’t play and definitely don’t win.  My hubby explained our odds of winning quite simply, “We are more likely to both get struck by lightning.”

So it wasn’t an impossible dream.  I frequently see lightning and signs of past strikes in tall trees and power lines.

With a boosted confidence in our winning potential, hubby was commissioned to buy a few tickets, given the money and sent out on his mission to be completed with all due haste.

Fur coats, diamond dust lotion, fancy cars and trips were just the beginning; we were going to start a school, a homeless shelter and a bad cat rescue.

And then we lost.

Maybe we got carried about with the dream, and surprisingly, I wasn’t even that disappointed when I discovered that we didn’t hit it big. I expected to lose, but suspended that belief while scheming during the night of the drawing.

The fun was in the dream, it was in the possibility of winning and that we had a shot at a different life, the same as the thousands of other Dreamers who took a chance and bought a ticket(s) for mega millions of dollars, and in retrospect, it was worth every cent of the investment.

Elevated

elevator

While waiting outside of the elevators, a crowd gathered.  I clutched the strap of my purse with one hand, slung over one shoulder, and held my lunch bag with the other hand.  I tapped my foot and looked at my watch.  The work day had yet to begin and already I was impatient and irritated when the doors finally opened.  We surged forward, each claiming space inside of the silver walled box with grungy floors and orange glowing buttons that promised of predetermined destinations.   

A man with a briefcase leaned against the wall across from me, a woman held a coffee in one hand and another woman peered inside of an oversized purse as the doors closed. A couple with dirty shoes stood shoulder to shoulder and stared straight ahead as the doors closed.  Just before the doors slid together, a hand appeared in the empty space and triggered them to reopen. 

“Damn it,” I whispered under my breath, like any normal jerk in a hurry who was running late because of his or her own poor time management.     

The man with a briefcase groaned, apparently not one to hide his emotions, as a blue barrel of trash rolled into the elevator followed by a man wearing a wireless ear piece into which he spoke. 

“Yeah, I’m getting on the elevator, hang on. I might lose you.” 

The trashman smelled like smoke and grease from McDonald’s drive through.  He rested a hand on the edge of the trash barrel, lined with a plastic bag, “No, still here,” he laughed.  “So that sonuvagun just showed up at mama’s place…” he continued.

The elevator was already filled with enough people to equally distribute the available floor room.  There was no fear of bumping into another occupant or violating another’s personal space until he arrived.  Yet, we still moved out of the way to make room for the trash barrel as it continued to move forward, partly out of decency and partly out of necessity to avoid conflict, and the barrel keeper didn’t seem to mind if we were crushed or displaced in the process.  

As I squeezed between the man with dirty shoes and the woman with coffee, the contents splashed over the edge of the cup as the elevator lifted to the next floor, I felt a sense of nostalgia for the time when trash travelled via the service elevator, when people cared about the wellbeing of others, and when it wasn’t so damned hard to get from the first to the fifth floor.

Real Life Monsters

monster

Once a year, we open our door, flip on the light and wait for monsters to visit.  We welcome them, in spite of their threats of tricks and unreasonable demands to smell their feet, with candy.

It’s my husband’s favorite holiday, far surpassing that of Thanksgiving or my birthday.  He prepares in advance by selecting special treats, canceling any plans that don’t involve passing out fun sized candy bars and waiting in excited anticipation. 

This year, he positioned himself by the door with a bowl of candy.  He cracked his knuckles, stretched his arms, and bent over to touch his toes and stood back up like he was preparing for a half marathon.

“We’re in for a big night, we have to be ready.  I can feel it,” he explained with unexplainable certainty as the clock ticked towards six o’clock.

Sure enough, a steady stream of visitors arrived shortly after the designated start time, one after another.  The first friends of the night were a cluster of superheroes with shiny, plastic masks and capes. 

They stood on the steps outside of the door, while holding orange pumpkin baskets and called out in unison, “Trick or Treat.” 

A group of golden wig wearing princesses followed closely behind the boys.  They gave a respectful thirty seconds to allow the superheroes time to walk down the steps and onto the sidewalk before bounding up to the steps to the door.  Their parents waited at the edge of the sidewalk, close enough to give a pseudo impression of independence or to rush in at a moment’s notice.

Meanwhile, the giver of candy generously continued to pass out handfuls of candy as the night went on, and the visitors began to arrive by vehicle instead of on foot.  They came from nearby neighborhoods where it’s not safe to knock on a stranger’s door and visitors are not welcomed with smiles and snacks. 

We watched as an old van with a missing tail light and a wide array of dents puttered past our lookout point/house and pulled off to the side of the road to unload what seemed like 10 or 20 kids.  They organized and dispersed as quickly as a group of sugar-crazed and costumed children are able to do under the direction of an over worked and exhausted set of adults.

They came to our house twice, assuming we wouldn’t notice perhaps because they were in disguise.   With each visit, they held out their little bags and baskets, and some said thanks and others simply ran off once they had a few pieces of candy. 

A straggler arrived after the group’s second visit, close to the end of the approved trick or treating hours, a tiny child with an eerie green glow to her face.  She wore a mop on her head, dyed the same color, covered with cotton cobwebs.  It was an elaborate but low-cost costume that was hard to forget.  She was accompanied by her mother, a woman in a black hoodie with a huge purse on her shoulder.

“You can pick what you want,” the Candygiver leaned down and offered the dish of treats to the little girl.

Her brown eyes shone in the night, catching the porch light and reflecting it back like two cosmic stars.  She reached into the dish with a pudgy green hand and grabbed a packet of Runts and Gobstoppers.

“Good choice, those are my favorite.”

The man nodded in encouragement, the green creature smiled up at him for a brief second of human connection.  She glowed a brighter green, invigorated by the praise and strengthened with his kindness.

Then the little girl’s mother swooped in and smacked her hand, “Those are choking hazards.”  

The woman glared at the man with butterfly wings for eyelashes that made their own wind with each flutter.  The little girl dropped the hard candies and stepped back; she stared at the Candyman in anger at his betrayal.  She wasn’t sure what a choking hazard was but her mama’s tone told her all she needed to know.  Candyman was a bad man.      

“Shame on you,” the woman said as she reached into the candy dish extracting no fewer than five bite sized Milky Way candy bars with orange and black striped artificial nails.

She shook her head in disappointment as she dropped the candy into her daughter’s bucket and went back for another handful of candy.  This time, she included the dangerous Runts and feared Gobstoppers in her claw and dropped this loot into her purse.  Grabbing her daughter’s hand, she marched down the steps and sashayed into the darkness of the night. 

Until next year.  Farewell and good luck, little green monster. 

A pig is a pig is a pig

tcp

On craigslist, there are an abundance of sugar gliders, pit bulls, exotic birds and other worn-out novelty pets looking for their fur-ever homes. Forever or fur-ever, makes no difference.  It all means the same thing, a peaceful transition from one home, overrun with unwanted people and pets, reeking of urine and hopping fleas to your home, calm and clean, for now.

Papers of authentication, be damned.

After my normal daily review, I was all set on the adoption of a grizzled, one-eyed tom cat, appropriately named “Winks” when a new posting caught my attention for a teacup pig. I almost wrote that the post caught my eye, but it didn’t feel right after introducing and abandoning Winks so quickly.

There was a picture of a creature peeking out of blanket-nest with a pink nose and a pair of tiny, squinting eyes. The photographer caught the piglet at just the right angle and lighting to appear perfectly charming.  It was no bigger than a kitten, fuzzy and pink, certainly no swine.

My heart was won. Sorry Winks, but I’m about to be a teacup pig owner, I thought to myself.  This little guy has all the right stuff.  It is smart, potty trained, likes to cuddle and loves cats.  Could this be too good to be true?

Then, sure enough, I noticed at the bottom of the post a few simple words of warning, “Do your research. While small now, this teacup pig does have the potential to grow larger than a teacup.”

Ah, how the truth set me free.

Teacup pigs are actually baby pot belly pigs.  They can keep growing until they are four years old and can get to be 100 to 120 pounds.  These so-called teacup pigs can live up to 18 years old and cost several thousand dollars a year for food, vet bills, and proper space.  Maybe more than I bargained for?

On a second look at the photo, the piglet was already bigger than a teacup, approaching the size of a mug and soon to be bigger than a gallon of milk.

The writing was on the wall; the pig would outgrow our small house and likely sit on at least one of the cats. It would break down the flooring and furniture, disrupt the peace, and eat up all of our leftovers and snacks in addition to its own pig-food.  It would have been a gross oversight on my part to ignore the line of caution and pursue the adoption of Teeky, the teacup-for-now, but soon-to-be-regular-sized-sow.

A pig is a pig is a pig.

With such a clear warning, why would anyone ever bring one into their home and expect something different?

pg
Oversight

Blogging on the Clock

It’s Friday afternoon.

I’m working hard at hardly working, as the maintenance man who comes through every so often encourages me to do with his upstanding example.  He passed through the cubicle farm earlier, with a hammer shoved though a loop in his pants and swinging an empty bucket.  His whistle carried through the thin cube walls and alerted me that a worry-free individual was approaching.  He gave me his usual wink and nod, indicating that we are players on the same team.  This was no time to start looking busy. 

I have a clear view through my supervisor’s office, because she is clearly not in the office on a Friday afternoon, to the outside.  Although I can only see the tips of leaf-barren trees, the sun is out and the sky is blue.  If I stare long enough, I’m sure a bird will pass by but I don’t have time for that.  Now I have to get back to looking busy because one of my hard working colleagues is approaching.  

Luckily, I have a gift; I can hear the difference between regular loafers, like myself, and the industrious employees who might not take kindly to my compromised work ethic.  The hard workers, like the one approaching, are noisier and easier to detect because they multi-task as they travel about the office.  This one always shuffles papers and wears heels that click and clack a notification of her approach.  However, on this fine day, she is wearing athletic pants that swish as she power walks through the office. 

The clock is ticking away the minutes towards my freedom.  I watch the green glowing numbers slowly change, like a prisoner counts down the years to his release.  My gift must be weakening because a slacker just snuck into my cubicle for a few last minute discussions about her weekend plans. I never heard her soft little bedazzled flats until it was too late and she was behind me, reviewing my “case notes.”

Do you have special talents that get you through the long work day?  Cheers to perfecting your gifts so you too can covertly blog instead of whatever you are supposed to do.  Really, what else is there to do on a Friday afternoon, other than catch up on my favorites and write a little post.

Signing off for the day and wishing all a great weekend spent working hard at hardly working.

Sometimes instead of working…

Image
Sometimes instead of working, I try to devise new inventions. 
 
Out of these hundreds of good ideas, it will just take one to take off to fund a life of leisure in the Florida Keys.  It doesn’t have to be a particularly brilliant idea.  No, this it just needs to be more useful and efficient than whatever thingamabob or doohickey already exists.  I’m thinking of Velcro, double sided tape, i-phone covers, cat-box deodorizers, and the reusable K-cup pod, for a few good, but not brilliant examples. 
 
The main problem with already invented inventions is that I’m not the inventor. To be honest, if I was the source of anything like the cake-in-a-jar or postcard app, it likely never would have left our apartment.  Like a diamond in the rough, it would have remained in a lined notebook, useless as a lump of coal in an energy efficient society.  Outlines and detailed explanations of how it might look and work would be left amidst scribbled poems and words to look up later.  Stains from a misplaced tea cup and dried droplets from a juicy apple eaten over the paper would be my inventor’s trademark by which I could identify my work.  Of course, I would need those identifiers in the event that the notebook ends up in the trash, a bum fishes it out of the dumpster, and goes from rags to riches with the outline of my invention. Not to worry, I’m sure the lucky dumpster diver would see the error in his plagiarizing ways and offer a fair share of his profits back to me.
 
I know I’m not alone in this fantasy of coming up with the next big thing.  It has a following like the Hoosier Lottery; you have to play to win and everyone wants to win.  I hear my friends and family frequently say, “If only I could have come up with that (insert the newest thing here), then I could go (insert awesome vacation/future retirement location here) or open my (insert imaginary business that will never happen here).”  These types of statement are not said out of jealousy or with bad intention towards the originator.  Rather, I think it comes from a place of regret and frustration at one’s self for not having had the insight or motivation to chase “it”, whatever it may be, down. 
 
There is one person I know who spends more time than I do at this abstract and intangible treasure hunt.  After being struck with inspiration, she called me last night to discuss her newest big idea.
“It’s like this place,” she began.  “Where people come together and they read something that I write and can leave comments.” 
 
It was sounding like something familiar, but I let her continue.
 
“I want to create this meeting place for people of like minds to come together to be inspired and to share their inspirations. I’m going to call it…..(dramatic pause)…. Inspired.”
 
It’s a blog, you are talking about a blog, I thought.
 
And then I kept thinking, this is how is all starts. 
 
It just takes one idea, a little luck and the motivation to do the necessary work to turn an idea into an invention good enough to pay for a life in the Keys.  It takes guts to be shot down, time to develop, and endurance to hang onto the vision.
 
Don’t worry B, we’ll get there soon enough.  In the meantime, I better get back to work.