Thursday, November 21, 2013

What Does the Fox Say?


Dog goes woof   Cat goes meow  Bird goes tweet and Mouse goes squeak...
Cow goes moo  Frog goes croak  And the elephant goes toot...
Ducks say quack and fish go blub And the seal goes ow ow ow
But there's one sound no one knows


She's baaaaack. 
Actually, she never left. At least she never left my heart or yours. Right?

Today, The Cousin and I went to the library. Just her and I and, what seemed like, a million snotty nosed 2 and 3 year olds that drove me nuts, reminding me that I'm much more qualified, these days, to be a pole dancer than a pre-school teacher.
GAWD! It was like a nut house and the only sane one?  The Cousin.
Calm, cool, collected and VERY well-behaved, she patiently waited her turn to participate in Miss Linda's interpretation of the children's story "There was an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly." (Weird messages throughout, but all in the name of rhyme, which I abhor.)

I gotta hand it to Miss Linda. Day in and day out, dealing with a room full of out-of-control toe-heads that do far more than just wiggle on their carpet squares. These punks throw full-blown, screaming tantrums and the moms, every once in a while, look-up from their IPhones.
I pray to God that Linda isn't a volunteer.
The Cousin and I positioned ourselves on a multi-colored beanbag.  She insisted on sitting on the patch of blue fabric, because blue is now her favorite color. (Man, I was worried it was going to be pink.) We were both poised on-lookers, and every once in a while, she leaned into me and whispered, "Valerie, what does the fox say?" Her giggle is infectious.
This is her new joke and her new favorite video. And that's right. She calls me "Valerie" now.

The days of "Wallery and roses" are long gone. Caillou too. (Thank you, Jesus!) She's shedding Elmo and Caillou like an old coat and turning to Madeleine and YouTube fox videos.
She's growing up.
She doesn't need my hand to get out of her car seat, nor an extra offer of support to climb 3 flights of stairs. Today, along with her usual books and movies, she wanted to check out a book to read to her new baby sister. Now that's maturity, people!  It's as if Superwoman has emerged out of the ashes...
Yes, I am now, and forever more, "Valerie" to her and together we will conquer this library story time madness, one screaming toddler at a time. 

And then we'll get the hell out of dodge. Have a little beverage. Chat about the old days. And read her new addiction, one square at a time!

She's a cool kid with a cool outlook.
We all should be blessed with this much curiosity and zest for life:

See a pile of fall leaves, jump in them just to hear the C R U N C H !  


Plop down in the middle of our shadow, simply because you want to "touch it!"

As adults, we've lost that "zest for life."  Seems we go about our daily routines, rituals and obligations required of us at such a pace, any zest that remains is just in the lemon peel of our cocktails.
Seems we've also lost, what I often refer to as, "the art of conversation."  Look in your mailbox. Any cards, notes, letters from friends or simply bills and consumer ads?
Now, look in your email box.
Less and less, right? How about on your voicemail of your phone? Any calls from friends lately? Maybe, but not as much as a few years ago. Lots of texting to converse and lots of Facebook to share stories, opinions and pictures. The idea of calling a friend, on a regular basis and meeting at a cafe to "catch-up" or sharing recent photos, offering a hug (real arms not virtual)...
Those times are less and less. 
I propose to you, that this lessening, is removing the zest from each of our lives. 

So, what does the fox say? 
Call a friend today! Meet on an unknown trail and take a walk with that friend or by yourself.
Sit smack down in your shadow! Put a box, from your remote control car, on your head and pretend it's your helmet!

Play the video at the beginning of my blog, and dance around your living room!
Locate "The Cousin" inside yourself! She's there waiting.
Let her soar today!

P.S. Next week... Interview #5 with Mina; a polished gem who's a very long way from home.
Stay tuned in, pals.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Good Shit Coming Soon!

                              I'm writing some good shit, coming your way soon buckeroos .... 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Julio, I See You

If you're anything like The Cousin, you're an observer of life. You walk through the world like a hushed shadow, but your eyes are in a constant state of panoramic.  It's a comfortable way of being for her. It feels like an old, soft, washed-out pair of denims; the ones you want to wear every day, even if they haven't been laundered in a while...
Stop. Take notice. Process. Ponder. And for god's sake, perform these tasks in silence because when you're out in the world, the world is much too noisy.

I never was that kind of kid. I couldn't adhere to such characteristics in adolescence nor adulthood either. Speak first. Shove entire size 8 shoe into mouth after.

But as I enter what society has termed "middle age," I'm morphing a bit... Stop. Take notice. Process. Ponder. Listen. Bite tongue. Learn something.

When I look around at humans, I readily see both kinds: the observers and the engagers.
I want to be more like The Cousin. I've encountered so many people, whose names will go unmentioned, that tend to feel they have a lesson to teach us all. It's a common occurance. Have you ever been sharing something of your life; perhaps a situation, an opinion, a dream, and I'll be damned if "the engager" fires back with an answer (THEIR answer) which usually has everything to do with THEIR experience, THEIR opinions and THEIR advice. They seem to know that you'll be better off listening to THEM. It's as if, while you are speaking, you can almost see their response-words excitedly dancing on the tip of their moist little tongue, which is poking out of their half-opened mouth.  THEY ARE NOT LISTENING TO YOU! They're preparing, editing, revising their script for THEIR next reading, which translates to a lecture.

If you're not born with the gift of listening and observing, you have work to do. One of the reasons I'm interested in interviewing people, is I want to improve my listening skills. I want to cross over to the observer side of life. I want to follow in The Cousin's footsteps.

There's a man who sits on the brick ledge in front of the downtown post office. It's difficult to determine his age and ethnicity. People who live on the streets appear older than they actually are. Weather, I suppose. Weather and worry.
He's sun-drenched from years on the street. His face is leather brown, his hands boney and curled.
He's quiet. He doesn't have a sign with words like ANYTHING WILL HELP or GOD BLESS YOU. He's always hunched over in his layers of jackets, the color of Army fatigues. When he does look up, his eyes cut through me like the point of a serrated knife. Sometimes, I observe him from across the street. I notice people walk right by him. Most do not give eye contact.
They look right through him.
He's faceless to them.
They look down or pretend to be on their IPhones or turn their heads the other way.  It must feel more comfortable for them to remain in their own world; a world where hungry, homeless, drunk people do not exist. When I have a $5, I give him a $5. When I have a single, I give him a $1.
He always says, "Thank you." That's it.
I like that.

I know that my small amounts of money won't get him off the streets. I also know the streets might be exactly where he wants to be; as comfortable for him as the soft, old jeans I spoke of earlier. I know he may spend his money on booze or something else that makes some people hesitate to give anything. He's quiet. That's my draw to him. Something inside of him is shy, distant, discreet.  What was he like as a child? Did he start out lively, talkative, sure of himself, only to be hushed, crushed by someone or a chain of events?  If I gave him $20 bucks, if I knew his name, if I offered him a hot meal and a shower...It would all be a band-aid and yet, he sits in my neighborhood, hunched over and silent.

That nudges me to inquire about his story because he has one.  They/we/you/me...we all have one.

I pretend his name is Julio. I imagine he was once a vibrant child who loved to play with trucks. I wonder if he had dreams of being a football player or a musician.
I ask myself, is he a father, and if so, where are his kids? Did he abandon them? Do they hate him? Or are they looking for him but he cannot bring himself to re-appear in their lives, not in the state he's in. Was Julio in Viet Nam? Desert Storm? Did the sound of exploding bombs and the sight of death snatch his sanity?
Why do I give a shit? Why this unexplainable fascination of mine?
I actually don't know. Not really. Maybe it's because no one tells his story. You tell yours. I tell mine. We tell our stories everyday. We share our daily lives through social media, by phone, at cocktail parties, on long walks with friends.  How easily we forget that we are constantly sharing our daily lives, our "memoirs" if you will, with others and from that sharing, we get recognition, validation and even pleasure from the interactions with others...
Engage. Observe. Share. Listen.

I have this fantasy about asking him to sit with me at a small outdoor cafe next to the post office. Have a lunch together. Tell him the truth; that I want to ask him questions about his life in order to better understand my own. I would ask him what he would charge for his time. I would ask him his name, so I wouldn't have to refer to him as Julio.
That's where I'm at. I almost did it Tuesday. Then I chickened out. Today I have free time, but there's laundry to do, and there's always tomorrow.  Right? You see, these are the hiccups that stand in my way. If you told me this exact fantasy, I would whole-heartedly encourage you with a zealous GO FOR IT! I would tell you there's nothing to fear but fear itself and all that bullshit and I would be behind you 110%!  Yet, here I sit in my own angst puddle of uneasiness and self-doubt, while thousands of folks' stories go untold...