Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Foreign Object

It was a beautiful Friday.  The end of a very long work week.  With nightly rehearsals. 

I was beat.

And ready for a weekend.

As I drove westbound on I-26, I slipped off my shoes, and turned on the soundtrack of The Addams Family.

I had to learn the words to “Move Toward the Darkness”.  I had been fake singing at rehearsal the night before.  And may have been caught.

I relaxed further by resting my left foot on the dashboard to the left of the steering wheel.  

Which is not dangerous when you're as flexible as I am.

I listened.  “Move toward the darkness.  Welcome in your pain.  Let each foreign forest.  Offer you its rain.”

I stopped the CD, rewound and sang along.

I sang perfectly until, Let each foreign object.  Offer you its pain.”  Crap.
Then I noticed the dashboard.  There were two indicator lights on.  OMG! There goes my weekend!!!

But I couldn’t tell what the lights meant.  It wasn’t the tire light.  I knew that one.  Or the door ajar.

How would I ever learn the words to this stupid song if I had to take my car to the dealer???

I called Dave.

“I have 2 indicator lights on my dashboard.”

“Great.  Which ones?”

“I don’t know!  I can’t see without my reading glasses.”  I squinted.  “One looks like a car is skidding and the other is some kind of letters.  ECO.  What’s ECO?”

Dave, whose automotive IQ is possibly lower than mine, had no clue.  We decided that I should drive the car home - carefully - and we’d take it from there.

I played Move Toward the Darkness and attempted, in vain, to learn the lyrics.  Foreign forest.  Foreign forest.  Foreign forest.  

I pulled into the garage singing, “Let each foreign forest.   Offer you its pain.   

No! RAIN!!!!”
I turned off the car and pulled out the 2013 Elantra Owners' manual.  I put on my reading glasses and looked up "Indicators" in the index.  I then turned to page 4-51. 

There it was.   ESC OFF indicator. 

I read the paragraph. To turn off the ECO indicator, push the ESC OFF button which is located to the left of the steering wheel.  Right next to the ECO button.

That I had inadvertently turned on with my foot.

I walked into the house singing, “Let each foreign forest.  Offer you its rain!”

“What?” said Dave.

  I said.  “Just fixed my car.  By myself.”

And I continued.  “Only at our lowest.  Can we rise above.”

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Stamp Fairy

Linda left for Marine Boot Camp eleven days ago.

My brave daughter, who is "too tired" to take our dog Kevin for a walk if she has had fewer than 10 hours of sleep.  

Whose bedroom consistently looks like it has been struck by an F5 Tornado. 

Who has to take a nap if she sneezes.   

Who has, on occasion, come home missing a shoe.


And who has never made her bed.  In her life. 

As you might imagine, I am a wee bit worried about her survival at Parris Island.

I’ve been engaging with the Parris Island Facebook Group for the families of the recruits who are in Linda’s “company.”

This Facebook group has been a lifesaver for me.  The administrators provide details about what’s going on each day and what to expect in the days to come

But what’s even more helpful (and therapeutic) are the posts from other families.  The people experiencing the same struggles as I am.

I read a post from a distressed Mom who cried herself to sleep in her son’s bed the night he left.  And  from parents who never got the call saying their son or daughter safely arrived at Parris Island. 

These parents, like me, live in a world of angst and worry.  All are baring their hearts to complete strangers on this wall.  We’ve become a virtual support group- BFFs from across the country.

Our latest fears relate to addresses.  Word started getting out that some parents had their kid’s addresses and some didn’t.  Those who didn’t were rightfully worried that their kid would be the only one not getting a letter from home. 

As you can imagine, the posts on this wall are oozing with emotion.

We’re talking Nicholas Sparks ooze.   


Until Megan M.’s post. 

Now to be fair, Megan M. is young.  Perhaps the girlfriend of a recruit.

In the midst of these highly emotional posts, Megan writes, 

It made me laugh out loud.

Why Megan, don’t you know it's the Stamp Fairy who brings stamps to your house? 

But she doesn’t go down the chimney like Santa. Rather she slips in, elusively, through the dryer vent, and gracefully descends to the desk, where she carefully places the stamps. Sprinkled with magic pixie dust.

And Megan, if you’ve been a good little girl, the Stamp Fairy will bring you fun stamps.  Like Harry Potter.

But if you’ve been naughty, the Stamp Fairy may bring you some Jesus stamps.

(Just say a couple Hail Mary's over the letter before you mail it.)

And if your grades are not up to par, she will probably bring you an Albert Einstein stamp. 

Now, perhaps I’m being a bit hard on poor, unaware Megan.  Who most likely used up the last stamp without her parents knowing it.

Because guess what? 

Megan’s post was a welcome distraction from my fears and anxiety.

It reminded me to look for the humor in this crazy whacked out existence.

So, yes, Megan, there is a Stamp Fairy.  She exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.

Let’s just hope that there’s also a Basic Training fairy.

And Linda finds her.

Friday, April 8, 2016

The United Club

I was giddy with excitement.  I had the key to a magic kingdom in my wallet: a segregated sanctuary for the snobs.  

I mean the elite travelers.

I’d been carrying my Free One Time Use of the United Club for more than 6 months, just waiting for a chance to optimize its value.  A 5-hour layover at Dulles on the way to the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop? 

Hell, yeah.  No gate seating for me!

I put on my best “I’m hot shit” face as I walked through the mahogany doors.

A woman sat guard at the desk that stood between me and the United Club.  I smiled and handed her my United Club card. She asked for my boarding pass, my drivers’ license, passport, dental records, fingerprints, and my 6th grade report card. 

She then eyed me suspiciously and asked a trick question, “Who do you want to win American Idol?” 

“Dalton… I mean, Duh… I don’t watch American Idol.”

She smiled and said, “Welcome to the United Club, Miss Clyde.

As I descended the stairs into the wonderful world of the United Club I had an epiphany.

I should not have gone to breakfast first.  Because there is complimentary breakfast in the United Club.  

I just spent $5.00 for stinkin’ orange juice that is F*R*E*E to the elite members of the United Club.  Like me.

No worries.  I helped myself to a cup of hot chocolate.  Not Nestles Hot Chocolate.  Ghiradelli Hot Chocolate. 

(Gate seaters drink Nestles Hot Chocolate.  From styrofoam cups.  United Club members drink Ghiradelli.  Served in fine china.)

I looked around at the other elite members.   They were a quiet bunch.  Reading the Wall Street Journal or watching the business channel on the flat screen TVs. 

No HGTV in the United Club.  Or Project Runway.

Wait.  What’s that?  A room in the back of the United Club with workstations!  And phones!  And a printer, copier and fax machine!   

An office for the Nerdling.

I set up shop.  I fit right in, hardly working working hard on my laptop.  And I had 4 more hours to spend there!  The perfect environment to write a blog about the United Club.

I took several laps around the space, attempting to look important.  I studied the departures board and noticed that I had 3 hours and 50 minutes until my flight.

There were newspapers scattered about.  Wall Street Journals and the New York Times.  No People Magazines in the United Club

Damn.  I wanted to read about Ben and what’s her name from the Bachelor.

I returned to the departures board.  Only 3 hours and 45 minutes until my flight. 

I looked around again at the other elite members sharing “our” lounge. 

They were boring. 

Then I had my second epiphany.  If I wanted entertainment, I’d have to go to the gate.  The United Club had no fighting kids, no fashion don’ts, no middle-aged slobs spilling mustard on their shirts, nobody singing off-key with earbuds in their ears.

No nose pickers.

I packed up my laptop and headed out of the ridiculously boring United Club.

But not before filling my purse with some snacks to take to my gate seat.

I deserved them.   After all, I am a United Club member.