Five years ago, this
summer, one of our boys made an off-hand comment about homeless people being “scary,”
and I realized our privileged children needed an opportunity to rub shoulders with
some of the more vulnerable members of our community. We started serving dinner
at your shelter on a monthly basis.
As volunteers, we
have served families with young children, older couples, adolescents the same age as
our own boys, and young men and women dressed in work coveralls or collared
shirts. We’ve also served the folks we expected to see when we began, people who
hold signs on street corners, and the gentleman in the stocking hat we pass
each Sunday as he enjoys a cup of coffee in our church lobby.
We’re not demonstrably
religious people, but we tend to find volunteer activities that conform to our values,
which happen to align with the teachings of Christ. He’s the one, you’ll remember,
who directed us to “love one another.” He also said something about “that
which you’ve done to the least of these you’ve done to me.”
supposed to be an “onto” and a “thy” in there, but you get the point.
We’ve received far
more than we’ve given in this effort. I’m almost embarrassed at my satisfaction
in the hearty thank yous and well wishes and wide smiles we get as we pass trays
across the counter.
1: a Japanese sect of Mahayana Buddhism that aims at enlightenment by
direct intuition through meditation
2: a state of calm attentiveness in which one’s actions are guided by
intuition rather than by conscious effort
When Colin told me about his English teacher the other morning in the
kitchen, he didn’t get very far into his story before I teared up and had to
As he was telling me about some classroom bullies and the object of
their derision, I had a vision of a second- or third-year teacher, someone
young looking enough that it wasn’t uncommon for other faculty to stop her in
the hall and ask for her pass. Someone who didn’t yet have the chops to stand
up to the jerks in her classroom, snotty adolescents who wore their earbuds
through a lecture and made snide remarks about her under their breath.
She’d had a Zen garden, Colin told me. One of those kitschy palettes with sand and polished stones and a teeny rake I guess people use to do their teeny meditation sessions, stacking stones in teeny piles and raking teeny lines in the sand. One by one the stones went missing, and then the rake. Then one morning, students filed in to find sand scattered on the shelf and the floor below it, the palette overturned.
“I wonder what happened?” one of the snotty teens had the nerve to
Ten things I wish someone would invent to make traveling easier
One of my chic-iest friends posted an Instagram photo of a little, clear plastic clutch she’s going to start using for travel in place of the standard Ziploc the rest of us plebs employ to schlep our lotions and shampoos and other liquid stuffs onto airplanes.
At first, I thought “isn’t that just the coolest thing!” I mean, we’re all just one kitschy plastic tote away from either looking our put-together best or coming across like a crazed hoarder unloading a packed lunch all over the TSA belt. Amiright?
So, I whipped out my credit card and went to the website straightaway, and found out those cute, little totes the size of sandwich bags are a whopping $88 bucks apiece. Which is when I decided I’d stick with my non kitschy ways for a little while until I win the Lotto or something.
… But it made me think about other travel conveniences I’d come up with if I have the extra cash, a really sharp inventor brain, and some free time. Unfortunately, I’m a little short on … well all those things, but I’m going to share my ideas in case there’s an inventor type among you with the corresponding money and spare time.
Because, you know I’m a …. (let’s all say it together, now …)
Warning: This is not a good post for those who have issues with open conversation about private parts, i.e. I’m sorry for all the buttholes
If you’re wanting to be talked out of a tattoo, it’s probably just common sense that a 19-year-old isn’t the best person for the job, right? I mean, not that I expressly wanted to be talked out of a tattoo. I’d been thinking about getting one for a long time.
I had no particular reason why, but lately I’ve been feeling like if I was going to do it, sooner would be better than later, before collagen loss makes it near impossible to find a smooth stretch of skin anywhere on my corpus.
I actually almost got my first tattoo a while ago, at the tail end of a girls’ night out when we all know the best decisions are normally made. At the last minute I bailed on my friend Steph, as she was getting the teensiest of meansiest of little hidden tattoos of all time: a ladybug leaving a little trail of dots behind it.
It was an act of supreme bravado and massive chutzpah on her part – that little ladybug – and I’m sorry for my lack of participation. Still, Steph’s tattooing taught me a few very important things about true friendship:
That you shouldn’t abandon your friend at 2 am in a tattoo parlor if you don’t want to hear about it over and over again for the next ten years, and
Tattooists won’t work very hard to convince a person to not spend good money on a teensy, little ladybug tattoo even if said teensy, little ladybug tattoo is so small it’s going to eventually end up filling itself in and looking like a menacing freckle, and
Doing your homework and making the act of getting a tattoo a little more deliberate than ducking into the nearest ink shop after five hours with your girlfriends at Grainey’s is a good thing, as is not holding people responsible if they end up deciding to bail, Steph.
Anyway, back to my conversation with Jack about the prospect of a tattoo:
“Look, you’ve been thinking about it for a long time,” he said. “It’ll say something that means a lot to you, it’s going to look great and you’ll never regret it.”
I thought those were deep thoughts from someone who had yet to see his twentieth birthday and I told him so.
“Well, you’re a pretty big chicken for someone who’s already hit her fiftieth.”
I figured if I was going to do this thing, I’d do it with him, our resident expert. When Jack was 16 and wanted to get his ears pierced, we knew the tattoo question was right around the corner. We leveraged the piercing thing against the tattoo thing in order to get a little advance notice about any tattoo plans and made him pledge to listen to whatever advice we might have about the design and the placement of said tattoo. … And long story short he now has five tattoos, and I don’t remember being part of a lengthy discussion about any of them.
We scheduled my tattoo session for right after a Rotary meeting and I couldn’t sleep the night before thinking about size and placement and fonts and what would happen if there was a typo and whether laser removal surgery was really as painful as I’ve heard. In the end, I went in and did it and I think it looks great and it only hurt a smidge.
My tattoo artist’s name is Gonzi (I have a tattoo artist now guys!), and he likes women’s butts. I know this because of the illustrations plastered all over his work station area. That’s his flash – what we tattooed folk call the stuff he specializes in. Turns out Gonzi really likes imagining women’s butts in all kinds of situations, clothed and unclothed and with or without flowers.
And while I think Gonzi is a very good artist, he needs a little instruction on anatomy, because even though I haven’t seen very many unclothed derrières from that angle, I can tell we have a little disagreement on where the butthole actually goes.
Gonzi’s business card is a drawing of a woman’s butt with flowers growing out of it. It’s thong-wearing butt, so thankfully no awkward conversation about butthole placement has to happen right up front when he’s making business connections. The flowers are confusing to me, but it’s an art thing, so I don’t need to understand, I guess. Overall, it’s a very nice looking butt for business purposes.
… And this probably constitutes a record for the number of times I’ve used the word butt in one post, a fact I’m sure has earned me another listing on one of those porn aggregators, and I can’t decide if that’s a bad thing because I don’t care to associate with people who search for porn, or an okay thing because I appreciate whatever drives up the ratings.
… And by the way, if you are here for the buttholes, may I just suggest this one post about pineapples which has nothing to do with porn, and very little to do with pineapples either, but neither of those things seems to matter to the porn aggregators, so I must be missing something. My stats show if you come here for the pineapples, chances are you’ll keep reading, which I like to think means that people who search for porn have more depth than I’ve given them credit. Or else they’re just really bored and looking for something to fill the time.
If you’re wondering what I had inked permanently onto my forearm, it’s my family motto: Aut Augere Aut Mori, which is Latin for “either action or death.” It’s kind of morbid, but something I’ve always thought was a good motivator for getting me up off my own butt when I’ve started to feel a little down in the dumps about anything.
A friend of Mike’s asked him why I didn’t have his family motto tattooed on my arm which led Mike to doing some research and coming up with nothing. No motto for the Markley clan. Now he’s telling people his family was probably out doing all the work and fighting all the wars while my family was coming up with the right way to describe all things in catchy, little mottos.
Which is probably a really good way to describe our marriage, now that I think about it.
Jack’s now looking forward to coming home from college for the summer because he said something about getting matching tattoos and I didn’t think to tell him I’m not getting any more. It’s not because the whole butthole flash stuff has turned me off, either, in case you’re wondering. I’m happy to recommend Gonzi.
It’s just if you want a woman’s butthole tattooed anywhere on you, you should be prepared for anatomical imperfection.
I had the weirdest experience recently. I finished a meeting and had to be across town for another meeting right on the heels of my first meeting, only the first meeting finished early, so I got to my second meeting early. I’m rarely early. Actually, I’d give it about a 50% chance I’ll even be more or less on time to anything.
I have plenty of redeeming qualities. I can stick to a tight budget. I am probably the World’s Best at Parallel Parking (seriously, I should have a mug made with that). I talk to dogs. I cover my face when I sneeze. I stay hydrated.
I am also chronically tardy. Sometimes it’s only seconds late, sometimes a teensy bit more.
But not this time. This time I was maybe 15 minutes early, which kinda felt like I could fit another whole meeting in there. I thought I could use that time to check email, or else say hi to another friend in that office.
I took my stuff to the conference room, where any plans I had were thwarted when I was waylaid by members of the group I was set to be meeting with – in the future, mind you – who were also early.
This is where it got weird. I had the chance to witness first-hand what early people do with all the time they have when they show up early. This was a rare and valuable opportunity to witness another species in its natural habitat.
Ultimately it was really disturbing.
I mean, you guys, this is what they do: they freaking talk about being early. They revel in it. It’s weird.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been to a baby shower before.”
This was Mike’s confession to me as we were walking up to the door to our friends’ home, Saturday afternoon.
Had I realized this earlier, I would have though of some way to punk him. Maybe made up some fake baby shower etiquette to share with him in the car. But, right then, on the spot like that, I couldn’t think of the right thing to say that would freak him out just enough for us to laugh about it later, but not enough for him to bolt. These things take some finesse and the look on his face had me worried.
So I just shrugged.
“There’ll probably be mimosas.”
The mom-to-be greeted us with a huge smile, wearing a flattering, floral print dress. Back when I was that far along with either of my pregnancies, you’d likely find me in a baggy pair of overalls that gave me the profile of Uncle Jesse on Dukes of Hazard. On alternate days I’d switch between one of the two knit tops that still fit. On dressier days, I might wear shoes. I could go on like that for a couple weeks.
I love scary stories. Love, love, love them. Until they get the better of me.
The only time I ever got in trouble for reading anything I wasn’t supposed to was in the fifth grade. It was a loaned copy of TheAmityville Horror I kept hidden under my pillow until I could finish it. The night I did, I woke up my parents around 2 am to tell them I couldn’t sleep.
They were astonishingly unsympathetic. And I still get creeped out by flies on the window.
I’ve always thought I could write a satisfyingly scary story, except that if it was any good I’d probably lose my marbles a little. The process is the problem. I get this little nugget of an idea, and then I mull it over for a long time before any writing happens. I’ll think about it while driving, or washing the dishes, …. taking a shower … or waking up at 3 am and its pitch black and I’m sure I’ve heard something ….
I have a fairly decent imagination, you guys. I don’t trust it not to freak me out. I won’t stare too long down a dark hallway. Is that the vague outline of a misshapen midget axe-murderer, or a coat on a chair? I can’t listen too intently to silence without wondering if I’m hearing a faint scream for help.
What are you doing for the eclipse? That’s the question of the day around here.
I’ll tell you what we’re doing … I don’t know what we’re doing.
Which means we’re probably doing nothing, if we haven’t made plans by this point. Depending on the the time of day, that answer could bring on either intense FOMO or a sigh of relief.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know we have this thing coming up. August 21, right about midday, for about twenty-seven seconds (or thereabouts, I don’t really know and haven’t looked it up, but it’s not going to be long), the sun will be entirely blocked from the sky. Or almost entirely blocked, depending upon your vantage point.
And if you’re not already within the PATH of TOTALITY (which sounds like a perfect name for a disaster movie to me – I’ve used all caps to convey the proper gravitas), I’m sure you realize you’re going to get there only by navigating your way through a ton of traffic to a place where there’s no parking or toilets and probably the only things gracing the shelves of local grocery stores by the time you arrive will be single bladed razors and cans of Spam that expired in 2013.
I think it would really be nice to have some notice when a panic attack is due.
Like something on my calendar, so I’d know, for example, that at precisely 4am Mountain Time this coming Tuesday I would wake up wondering how much longer we were going to put off replacing the broken microwave, followed by my letting brain wander down various other rabbit holes that have to do with what is otherwise broken or incomplete in my life.
I might try to get to bed a little earlier if I knew I had that 4am thing looming. Maybe decide to actually get up then, instead of laying there, staring into space. I could do some laundry or something. You know, multitask.
A friend of mine wondered on social media recently whether she was of an age to start feeling like a “grown up,” and whether the fact she doesn’t most of the time has something to do with not having kids.
“Does having children make you feel more adult?” She asked.
I’m guessing my friend also had one of these unscheduled appointments, recently.
After the winter we’ve had, I don’t think it’d be too much to look forward to Spring as some sort of relief. But, uh … nope. I mean, just look at this:
Photo by Tim Merrick
On the bright side, we haven’t had to do any lawn watering yet, which is weird because it’s mid May, when everything’s usually veering toward brownish and crispy. But the early freeze last winter broke our sprinklers (as well as a big hole in our bathroom ceiling), so now we have time to figure out how to fix that… and … I can’t remember where I was going with that whole upside thing.
On the downside, we have a river at flood stage running through the middle of town, and winter storm warnings (a month before summer, you guys!) to the north and east of here, which makes escape pretty difficult.
It really isn’t any wonder I’m thinking lately about how ready we’d be for disaster and whether Mike had the right idea when he put together our collection of bottled water and canned meat last winter.