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Monday, April 30, 2012

Thirteen Black Garbage Bags/Oscar The Bear

Another Monday. The weekend, unhappy but productive. I kept telling myself, "Bring it home, Baby!" about the clothes/organization project. James came over and his eyes popped to see the quantity of clothes I had washed, folded and organized. And yeah I resented having to do it - none of it was my clothing. A promise to be home last night to go through the piles and make final selections - no show. Then a text saying we could do it bright and early this morning - but this AM not in their bed. The project had to be done today with my birthday party looming. I reached the end of my rope with being blown off over and over again. So, just a few hours ago, I bagged up thirteen large black garbage bags of clothing and took them to the charity drop off box - all of it. Fireworks as you can imagine but choices were made by default. Pleasure was chosen over responsibility resulting in consequences. I'm sad it played out that way - I had hoped for and envisioned a collaborative, productive, positive approach to the clothes problem. That didn't happen - I got stuck holding the bag as usual - thirteen of them.

I'm feeling very sober, sad and disappointed in a lot of people these days. To start, forty (count 'em) people didn't respond to my birthday party invitation even with a reminder. It's really easy to respond - all electronic so you just "click, click" and voila, response logged! Friday, I sent a second reminder and then reached out to each person individually. I shouldn't have had to do that. And what does it mean?  That people don't value me or my efforts? Starting to think that is the case. People don't ignore people they really care about. I've been ignored a lot lately - calls to my sister, texts to friends, e-mails to people I really care about. Seems I'm mostly the person who reaches out and makes stuff happen - if I stop doing that there will be very few people in my world. Hurts.

So, let's be cheerier! Thursday I promised you I would share James' writing with you. And, OMG, it's brilliant! Remember, as I said before, he thought of this and wrote it in only fifteen minutes. The prompt was a headline from the NYT, "A Surprising Risk for Toddlers on Playground Slides." You will be amazed!
“I dunno, Billy. It doesn’t seem safe.” 
“Sure it is, you big chicken,” Billy said, flapping his arms in the universal gesture of implied cowardice. “I been down it a thousand times.” 
Jack glared over his shoulder at Billy, squaring his shoulders and taking a deep breath. The ladder for the slide seemed to rise a least a mile into the air, puffs of wispy cloud painting the top rails with beads of dew. The slide itself was a mighty corkscrew, twisting and turning like the abused DNA of a radiation scarred mutant from the Saturday afternoon monster flicks. Harsh steel gleamed in the sunlight, blazing away in the summertime heat. 
“My momma says these things are dangerous,” Jack said, one foot already on the ladder.
“Don’t be stupid,” Billy sneered. “Look, I’m telling you, the bear at the bottom of this thing is mostly tame and he’s old. You shoot out the end, bounce off of him, and than run. He’ll never catch you.” 
Jack shook his head. “I’m not afraid of old Oscar, ya dunce. I helped raise him from a cub when your dad hit his momma with his semi-truck 10 years ago.” 
“So what, are you afraid slide trolls? You have the fifteen cents for the toll, don’t ya?” 
“Of course I do. After what happened to Jeremy and Susie last year. Hell, Susan was only a nickel short and now she has to write everything left -handed.” 
“Well, it can’t be the pit of carnivorous fire ants at the half-way point.” 
“No, no. I’m wearing wool socks this time. Everyone knows fire ants can’t stand the smell of wool.” 
“And you know,” Billy said,” the troop of rabid baboons left earlier this year. The only thing you’ll have to deal with is a little baboon poop, and that’ll wash right off.” 
Jack nodded, his face settling into a grim line. 
“I know, I know, I know all that. I’m not even worried about the asexual goblin king right before the last turn. You know the one, don’t you Jack? He knows fashion, reads Cosmopolitan, and just wants to be friends” 
“Well, than, what is it, Jack?” 
Jack sucked in his gut, straightening his spine and rising to his full heights of four feet 7 inches.
“My momma says these things are covered in germs.” 
“Yes, germs,” Jack said. “She says the average slide is covered in little kid poop, stem to stern.” 
“Which part of the slide is the stern?” 
Jack shrugged. 
“So, take a bath when we’re done than. No get up the ladder and slide.” 
So up the ladder Jack went, and down the slide he sailed. He expertly flipped his fifteen cents to the slide troll as he skittered passed, flew past the fire ants, which shied away from this wool socks (fire ants being repulsed by the smell of wool), avoided being drawn into conversation with the asexual goblin king, and even refused to get so much as a speck of baboon poop on his dungarees. 
And out he flew from the mouth of the slide, to bounce on the soft fur of Oscar the bear.
And this is where Jack’s trip down the slide took an unexpected turn. It was true that Oscar was old, not the young, spry cub he used to be. IT was true that Oscar, the year before, had been slow and easily outpaced by the young children. 
But this year Oscar had watched his diet, and began working out when the children were not around. 
Oscar speed was surprising to young Jack. Surprising indeed.
James has this posted on his blog which is packratnest.wordpress.com.  I think you'll agree he is a phenomenal writer. But ha, ha, not as good a Scrabble player as me! We've been playing a few times a week and I win routinely which really pisses him off because he aspires to play tournament Scrabble - he figures if he can't beat me, he isn't good enough. Last night he introduced a timer to the game and he wants us to use only words in the official Scrabble dictionary and not do what we usually do, which is look up an occasional word. I prefer the relaxed approach but I'm willing to play ruthlessly if that's what he wants. In that vein, after he left last night, I memorized all the legal two letter words. Did you know there are non-consonant words like aa, ae, ai, oe, oi? And there are a handful of acceptable non-vowel words, hm, sh, mm. My freaky-ass memory should hold me in good stead as I apply it to learning tricky, useful Scrabble words.

Challenge today is embracing the Monday. If you're less than thrilled to have the weekend over and feeling enervated, remember that even Monday's deserve their due. Yesterday as I faced an unexciting day with lots of chores, I said to myself, "What does this day have to offer me?" Then I smiled to realize the answer, "Nothing."  Had to rephrase the question, "What do I have to offer this day?" Hated the day. Hated the weekend, but I packed it full of productive living. These days, though, feeling so sad - it's hard not to think of how happy I was a year ago at this time. But this Monday is still precious - it is a gift even if it's cold, damp, rainy and depressing. Effective people, according to Stephen Covey, do not let their efforts be affected by the weather. Hang in there with me and let's make today productive even if it's not filled with warmth.


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