May 11. Sell Yourself in 10 words or less.
Empath. Wife. Mother. Mother-in-law. Grandmother. Caretaker. Teacher. Editor. Writer. Dreamer.
[Note: The challenge, for me, included using the same part of speech for each word.]
May 12. What Do You Miss?
I miss college. Let no Fate misunderstand me: I don’t wish to return to my late teens and early twenties, but I’d steal the naïve confidence and raw energy of those years if I could. I don’t wish to meet professors’ deadlines or tolerate my mentors’ varied quirks, but I’d join in free and open discussions to ask, answer, learn, and grow. That’s what I miss most, the company of people who treasure ideas. They read more than they watch, and they take the pulse of their nations. They are just a little bit arrogant because they breathe rarefied air, the kind that wafts through trees and buildings without the taint of commerce. College dwellers exist in a world apart. They don’t build or make, they dream and design. In that world beyond the college campus, people get and go, picking up and dropping off kids, commuting to and from work places. They gather news in snippets—the five-minute interludes on the local music radio station, pronouncements from TV anchors and pundits, headlines without accompanying stories, and the local FOXbot. Some of what they hear may sound intriguing, even alarming, but they have a duty to be physically fit so they run, a duty to earn so they work, a duty to raise kids so they do. College kids have a duty to learn; that’s it. They live in an oasis where people nourish their minds and dream of grand cities on hills and in valleys, of the general welfare, and of people who can and do fulfill their promise.
May 13. Issue a Public Apology.
I learned to listen and let go, but before that lesson lassoed my brain, like a rattler, I’d issue a quick warning before striking for the softest part, a pulse point, where I released my toxins. Little guys representing bigger guys were often victims. I know those little guys don’t set policy, determine practice, or even think much about either, I suspect. They simply follow the rules handed down or look for another job. But they are the ones standing between me and that big guy, the one who decided that advertised sales weren’t really in effect until the customer paid full price. Then the sale price would be added to his store card, if the customer possessed one, but the reward was not coin for coin; it was in the form of points that would accumulate until some date in the far distant future when the customer would enjoy a fraction of the promised savings. The young man who had the unhappy shift requiring him to explain all this to me looked like a bunny staring into the grill of a semi-tractor bearing down upon him as I reacted to this bait and switch trick, adding as a final coup de grâce that he should be ashamed. He didn’t understand, and I’m pretty sure, never blushed an ounce of shame through his veins. Neither did the young woman who couldn’t comprehend basic math. She told me I owed $85 for 6 identical items valued at $3.25. I advised that there must be a mistake in the total, gently reminding her of her multiplication tables, explaining that 6 x 3 is not 85, but 18, that 25 cents is one-quarter of one dollar so six 25-cent values equal 1 ½ dollars, bringing the total before tax to $19.50. The young gal must have struggled through multiplication because she told me that I’d forgotten about the tax. I lobbed to her volley, advising her that no city or state taxes at rates greater than 100%. She blinked. My tone grew sharp, louder, finally drawing the attention of her supervisor who put pencil to paper and struggled. She tried a hand-held calculator and finally read $19.50 on the screen. Then she turned to the computerized cash register where she discovered the young gal had not closed out prior sales; she was running a total, adding each customer’s purchase to the preceding sales total, proving that the young cashier just lets the machine think for her and never questions its conclusions. Still, I’m sorry for snapping at her, that boy, and all the other little guys who’ve been my targets over the years. I now try to make amends by treating cashiers differently. I rarely feel the need to prove I’m right and remember I’ve made plenty of mistakes so when a cashier says, as trained to say, “Good afternoon. How are you?” I answer with “I’m fine. And how are you?” Many tell me and add, “Thanks for asking.” If there’s an error, a misunderstanding, or a problem, my standard reply is “No problem.” I’ve replaced impatience with patience, irritation with understanding--except, of course, with the one major exception for us all: cell phone company representatives. Those folks have signed on to work for devils to bedevil and befuddle us with rates, data use, packages, gigs, and gigabytes. They deserve what they get.
May 14. Ten Things That Make Me Happy
- · The heartbeat of the earth, heard in ocean waves waxing and waning.
- · The company of my husband, my personal cheerleader and life coach.
- · Memories of my daughter’s childhood while in the company of her and her daughter.
- · My granddaughter whose every discovery and achievement awakens joy unrestrained.
- · Lakes placid, cold or warm, mirrors for the bluffs above.
- · Hilly terrain where trees stand tall, dark against the snowy ground and indistinguishable one from the other when full and green.
- · The sudden reappearance of lace upon the trees, stark and bare until the sun gives them permission to explode in new growth.
- · Dogs loyal and loving, their eyes the windows to their souls.
- · Cats on laps, their coats like silk under my fingers.
- · Birds on high, soaring, circling, and riding the currents.
May 15. A Day in the Life (preferably with photos)
Prufrock measured out his life in coffee spoons. I measure mine in the hours between walking the dog. I no longer open a door and let the dog into the yard out back. I’ve moved to a condo where I have no responsibilities for anything outside my door. I venture out only to enjoy the air with my dog.
He prances, his nose up in the wind, headed in a straight line for some place that meets his needs according to criteria only he knows. I walk briskly behind, listening for bird songs and breezes. When the wind blows especially fierce at our backs, he often stops to sit down, apparently nonplussed by the wind mussing his fur. I giggle, and he looks up, studying my face to see if my laughter is directed at him. He’s sensitive that way. He pants a grin, then resumes his upward and outward-bound motion.
In between these forays into sleet, drizzle, snow, downpours, icy wind, and warm breezes under a benign sky, I read and write except for three mornings each week when I swim for my agility and pleasure. On a fourth morning, I attend a weight loss group where I’m trying to grab a bit of health while learning, at last, how liberating it is to eat wisely. On the fifth of five weekday mornings, I dabble at cleaning, but the dog and cats and I don’t make much of a mess.
On weekends, my husband joins me at the lake. He’s driven many hours to be near me, to enjoy this life he imagined for us, but he has yet to tear himself away from work that gives him purpose and plenty of income to support two houses until the big one with a yard sells. We dream about being together for hours between walking the dog and of being together while walking the dog. I hold my breath for that day when he’s here full-time. I’ll have to amend my routines, adjust anew to his Monday through Friday needs and wants. I’ll have to allow for his noise replacing my quiet, but he’ll be here for those rare monstrous storms that flash upon the hills and crash through the cove. His company will be welcome then, and I look forward to those sudden reflective discussions that reveal surprising facets of this man to whom I’ve been married for more than thirty years.
He’ll also walk the dog in the rain, offering for me to stay inside, warm and dry. Sometimes I’ll accept. But the dog will need to walk again--at least four times daily, and I’ll remember all the other dogs that have paraded through my life as I cherish this one, this one that gives me structure after retiring from a lifetime in schools as a student and later, a teacher. This young dog is not a substitute for a weekend husband or for my dear child or for the delight that my granddaughter brings, but he is happy here and that makes me happy, too.
May 16. Something Difficult About My Lot in Life
My husband longed for another adventure. He just wasn't finished trying new places or accepting new challenges. Even though he’s ridden more than 100,000 miles by motorcycle up and around mountains, as far north as Canada, and across the desert to LA, he searched for one more road to follow.
He tried to lead me to retirement in Mexico. We leased a casa perched on the side of a mountain in the middle of the jungle during the rainy season. Mosquitoes as large as bats attacked me and left him alone. Worse, something unseen cleaned its nest every morning, pushing dung and detritus from the grass roof above our bedroom to the tile deck below. In the kitchen, at night, a red-eyed crab dared me to approach while inside our bedroom, a spider as big as my palm watched me sleep from the ceiling high above. None of this disturbed my spouse at all.
Failing to persuade me to move to Mexico, he next proposed that we move to a place where we could look at water every day, and we have--except that we’re not together. He’s still in our home surrounded by land, working and waiting for our home there to sell, joining me on weekends only, while I make a home in this new, strange, beautiful place, a rural home very different from our years in a large city, a place so quiet that the songs of birds are distinct and welcome.
Still, I am mindful that being uprooted in pursuit of an adventure and being alone five days in every week are temporary states, that I had choices, options, and opportunities before arriving at this temporary difficulty. I also have work and companionship even if much of it is in text-messaging. I have confidence to go new places, meet people, and try. Others are homeless, jobless, and alone without relief. My little difficulties are nothing when I consider the difficulties that others face. My lot in life is bountiful. I can’t complain.
May 17. A Favorite Photo of Myself and Why
This is a piece of a photo snapped by a friend of the groom at my daughter’s wedding, an evening that seemed to fulfill her dreams for the moment when she declared her love before family and friends, when she began to share her life with the trumpet player who’d stolen her heart one New Year’s Eve when she was but 16. He was two years older, and she was inexperienced in matters of the heart, but she seemed to know that she would marry him and that they would be happy. They are and five years later, so is their baby girl, about to enjoy her first family celebration, a birthday party in her honor.
Read other responses to these prompts at http://storyofmylifetheblog.blogspot.com.
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