Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Snowed In 4

After a few deep breaths, I returned to the table. Mr. Henry took a large bite of the chicken. He finished chewing and then wiped his mouth politely. "This is really good. Maybe the best I've had. Lupe is talented. Why didn't you suggest this place for a meal?"

It stung. I chose places based on his agenda and listed preferences. Mexican was not on it and it was not near any of the places he was visiting. It simply would not have fit into his days. "I brought you here personally. I thought that was one step better," I retorted, trying to cover my frustration with humor and a smile.

"That it is," he said raising his glass to his mouth and taking a healthy drink. We finished our meals in silence. I kept trying to figure out where he could go. I tried a few more hotels to no avail, including The Park Place. Even they had booked all of the rooms, including the dignitary suite we had left. Jake, the young man behind the desk in the evening told me a couple of families opted to share the bill just so they had a place to stay.

Lupe returned to our table as we took the last few bites, mopping up the sauce with the remaining tortilla chips. "It was good Mr. Henry?"

"Very good. I was telling Sylvia it may be the best I've ever had. I can't believe she didn't recommend this place to me the first night I was in town." He smiled at Lupe and she played modest. I shrugged my shoulders.

"So, you are staying with Sylvia tonight I suppose?" I could have killed her in front of Mr. Henry. It would have been easy to drive the fork deep into her chest at that moment.

"Lupe, Mr. Henry and I..." Mr. Henry started laughing. It was a full laugh, taking up more space in the small restaurant than his imposing personality did in any of his meetings. It was thick and warm. It reminded me of my grandmother warming molasses before adding it to the batter of gingerbread cookies. The sweetness stayed with you long after the cookies had been devoured.

"Mr. Henry and I have not discussed the options," I said firmly once his laughter had subsided.

"Oh. Okay," Lupe said simply. She turned, taking our plates back to the kitchen for a quick wash.

"Sir, I have called every reputable hotel and some that I am not terribly familiar with. The storm has created havoc and their simply isn't anywhere for you to stay. I can offer you the guest room in my house. It's small, but warm and available. I could drive you to the airport as soon as Alan calls with the clear. I completely understand if you have other connections you would like to tap into. Just let me know who I can call for you." I hoped my offer sounded more genuine than it was meant.

"I don't know anyone in this town who I would enjoy staying with more. A clean room and warm bed sounds great. Thank you Sylvia. it is a very generous offer." I stood up quickly, banging my knee against the edge of my chair in my rush to get my coat. Tears sprung quickly. "Are you okay?" he asked, reaching out to offer to steady me.

"I'm fine. I'm fine," I said. "I am going to brush off the car and warm it up. Then we can head out. Do you mind waiting inside?" I asked.

"I'll just duck in back and pay for the meal," he said, reaching in his back pocket for his wallet as he stood.

"You can try, but she won't take it. She'll tell you family doesn't charge one another. Don't push too hard. You'll offend her pride and sense of family." With that, I turned and walked through the door and into the icy cold.

The snow had accumulated much more quickly than earlier. The flakes were very heavy and very wet. Before I had the windshield brushed off, I could feel the water trickling down the side of my face as it melted. My hair was saturated and beginning to freeze. I worked rapidly, stopping only to climb into the car to see how warm it had become and to call home. "Hi Alice. I am so sorry. I know it is late and the roads are bad. I am about 15-20 minutes away. Are the kids in bed? They are. Okay. Did you walk or drive over today? Did you put the car in the garage? Oh no, it's not a problem. I'm glad you did it. Can you pull it out of the garage just before I get there so I can pull straight in? No! Don't do it now. You'll have to wipe it off. Let's do this. I'll call you when I am just a few blocks away. You can just get in and leave. I'll be within sight of the house. The kids will be fine for that 30 seconds. No really, it's okay. All right. I'll talk to you soon then. Bye..... and Alice, thank you. You have been a life saver this week. I couldn't have pulled this job off without you. I promise to split my bonus 50/50. Okay. Bye."

I hung up the phone and hummed "I Wanna Be Sedated". The car was warm. My kids were in bed, probably sleeping. Somehow, I was going to have to explain Mr. Henry's presence to them tomorrow. I didn't get to have dinner or read to them tonight. Another failed promise that I can't make up to them. I hit the steering wheel and then went to get Mr. Henry. He was waiting by the door, Lupe not far behind him. "Gracias por todo!" I called to her, blowing her a kiss as I turned to escort Mr. Henry to the car.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Snowed In 3

I walked through the blustery wind again, working diligently to keep my balance. I knocked loudly on the front door. No one seemed to be inside. I knocked again, not knowing what else to do. Lupe cautiously looked around the corner. Upon seeing me, she came running to the door and opened it. "¿Qué hace usted aquí?" she said with a mixture of joy and concern.

"Hola Lupe!" I threw my arms around her in a grateful hug. "¿Está abierto? Debo entrar para un poco... con un amigo. Por favor."

"Si! Por supuesto!" Lupe had become a good friend over the last few years, ever since our children began kindergarten together. Her curly black hair framed her always tan skin. She was beautiful, hardworking, and kind to a fault. She should not have so graciously opened her restaurant just to house me. I should not have asked. I ran back to the car and escorted Mr. Henry inside.

"Es muy guapo," Lupe said as soon as he walked through the door.

I didn't respond to her statement. To be honest, I hadn't really registered if he was a handsome man. He was a client and there was to be no relationship outside of that parameter. "Lupe, meet Mr. Henry. Mr. Henry, this is my dear friend and owner of La Hacienda, Lupe."

Mr. Henry shook her hand. "It's lovely to meet you Lupe. I do hope it isn't too much trouble to have us here." He gave his close-the-deal smile and slid off his overcoat.

"No trouble at all. I would do anything for Sylvia. Now, what are you two doing out on the roads in this horrible weather?" Her accent, as always was heavy. Her vowels were just slightly off in their sounds. Even though her sentences were always perfect, I couldn't help but second guessing my understanding.

I looked at Mr. Henry. Confidentiality was a cornerstone of my job. I didn't know what he was okay with saying. "Sylvia has been helping me find my way around town while I did some business. The person who was suppose to drive me to the airport was unable to at the last second and I asked her to do me the favor instead. I've since learned that the airport has shut down. She suggested stopping here to figure out what to do next. She said the food was excellent." I was very appreciative he handled the situation. It was all true, of course, and not one word came from my lips so I had not broken any of the confidentiality clauses I swore to when taking the job.

"Well, don't stay too long. The roads are not going to get better tonight." With that small admonishment, Lupe disappeared into the kitchen.

Mr.. Henry looked around the dining area. There were maybe a dozen tables that could seat up to four people and three other tables that could comfortably seat six. The restaurant was clean, but a little run down. The bright wallpaper had faded a little. The pictures were ancient black and whites from when Lupe's abuela was just a girl. The restaurant was very quaint and quite popular for the neighborhood. I wasn't sure Mr. Henry saw the appeal.

"Where does she live?" he asked suddenly, still looking around the room.

"Her family has two places. There are a couple of bedrooms and a bathroom above the restaurant and they live with her sister a few blocks from my house." The Latino culture was very open and even in New Saga got places through empesas, or who you knew. Your connections were more important than education in their way of thinking. Mr. Henry would be a powerful person to know.

"I guess that explains what she is still doing here," he said. Just then, Lupe waled out of the kitchen holding a bowl of tortilla chips and smaller bowls of salsa.

"What can I get you to drink Mr. Henry?" She sat my water on the table.

"I'll have a water too. Is the kitchen open?" he asked, genuinely curious.

"Yes, but I choose what you eat. You just tell me spicy or not spicy, kay?"

"A little of both if you have something that is quick and easy." She smiled at him, pat my hand and disappeared again.

"I'm sorry Mr. Henry. I need to make a few phone calls to get things set up for you. Do you mind if I step away for a few minutes?" He nodded his agreement and pulled his briefcase back to him, opening it up and taking the same stack of papers he was reading at the hotel out. I stepped into the kitchen and called Alice first. I let her know I would be late again. She was, as always, good natured about it. Still, I felt my heart breaking. I could hear my kids in the background giggling. I really wanted to see their smiling faces too.

Then I called every hotel I had in my speed dial. Everything was full. Lupe gave me the telephone book and I quickly scanned it for quality hotels. I was told the same thing by everyone. "I'm sorry. We are full due to the weather conditions/ cancelled flights." There simply wasn't any place for him to go. I had no idea what to do with him.

Lupe walked by, carrying two plates of mole pablano polo, one of my favorite dishes. Somehow, she makes the sauce both spicy and mild. I knew Mr. Henry would enjoy it. After returning to the kitchen she said, "He stays with you then. You have the extra room. He should be like family now. It's been a long time of work, no?" I did not want Mr. Henry staying with me, but at the moment I had no better ideas.

Snowed In continued....

He was standing at the elevator. I walked to him and pushed the down button, keeping my eyes averted down as I scolded myself for my behavior. In all reality, he had done my a favor. I'd be home earlier now. That meant seeing more of my kids. I swallowed my pride and gave Mr. Henry a small smile. "My car isn't anything fancy sir, but it is safe and runs well. I'll have you to the airport about the time you had planned on departing. I'll call the airport and have them let your pilot know you are running a bit behind, but that he should be ready for departure as your things are being loaded into my car."

He smiled at me with more friendliness than he had only a few minutes earlier. I suppose it is easier to do once your wish has been granted. "That won't be necessary. Alan knows my departures are variable. He's a good man. He'll be ready and waiting."

I returned his smile. "Very well then." We stepped between the elevator doors that had just slid open. He turned to face the door, his being square in the center and his presence reaching to the corners. I pressed the button marked 'L' and then moved to stand in the corner behind him. The first time I had done this, he had questioned why I didn't stand next to him. With a blush rising in my cheeks I had quickly explained the uneasiness I had in elevators. He had nodded his acknowledgement. He never asked or glanced back after that first day.

When we reached the lobby, I suggested he have a seat in the busy bar and have a drink while I readied the car. As he sat down, I ordered him a Martini and then went to get my car. The parking garage where I had parked was just across the street. I didn't have a room at The Park Place and wasn't an important dignitary or other person. This restricted my access to the heated parking under the hotel itself. I stopped by the guard station and received my pass for picking Mr. Henry up at the sheltered drive up. Then I headed for my car, praying there weren't spilled french fries or apple cores on the floor of my car.

The wind was blowing so hard it felt like I was being repeatedly slapped in the face. The snow was wet causing the sidewalk to feel icy. I was relieved that Alan understood we might be late for any number of reasons. Slowly, I made my way through the mid-winter storm and to my car. I pulled my keys out of my purse and started up my Sedan. I turned over and purred to life like a trusted pet. I glanced around the car. No old food, but some dirty socks and a basketball. While my car warmed, melting the thin ice from the windows, I picked up the items the kids had left in the car and put them in a corner of the trunk.

I started singing an old Ramones song and watched as the words "I wanna be sedated" seemed to freeze in the cold air, suspended in time for just a moment. My smile grew as a memory of my son, then four years old, told me to stop blowing exhaust at him on a similarly cold day. I remembered laughing at his question, feeling unsure if I should just enjoy the interpretation or take away the mystery with an explanation. That was back when everything was right with the world. I felt chilled and climbed into my car, still singing.

"Mr. Henry, the car is ready. Your things have been loaded. Shall we be on our way?" I said as he finished his last swallow of his Martini.

He licked his lips, threw a $20 on the table for a tip, and stood up pulling his briefcase out of the seat next to him. He stopped for just a moment, looking at me intensely. "Earlier, I made an assumption that you would take me to the airport. I'm sorry. I just want you to know that I really do appreciate it. Thank you." I wondered if this is how he won so many things in life. That statement delivered with so much intensity and what felt like genuineness made the last of my anger evaporate.

"It's really okay. I only live a few miles from the airport and this will actually get me home earlier." We walked out of the bar together. I showed him to my car and opened the passenger side door for him. It must have been an odd experience for him as he hesitated just slightly before carefully sliding in. All week he had been in a beautiful town car: the silver exterior buffed until it shined, leather seats, enough leg room he could practically lie down, all the controls at his fingertips, and a driver who's responsibility it was to cater to his every whim. My car certainly didn't fit that image. The thick layer of salt from the roads made the bottom portion of my black car look discolored and dirty. He might be able to fully extend his legs out if he pushed the front seat all the way back. And so on.

I climbed into the driver's seat. "I suppose it isn't what you are use to."

"Not exactly," he said with a slight hint of humor in his voice. A small smile tugged at the corner of his lips.

I pulled out of the parking garage slowly. The amount of traffic had slowed to a trickle. Slowly, I maneuvered down the four blocks from the hotel before turning left. The roads were slick and I found myself fearful of traveling much over 15 miles per hour. We rode in silence for the first 20 minutes, making it less than half way to the airport. The snow seemed to be falling thicker than before, making visibility difficult at best. "I think I have counted 13 accidents now. How far do you think we have gone?"

I laughed. "Maybe five miles. We have about another seven to go."

He seemed surprised. "It looks and feels different from the back."

I laughed again. "My guess is if you ever have this opportunity again, you'll find it a very different experience. The weather is rarely this uncooperative." The car slid, skidding into the lane next to us. I stopped talking and concentrated on gaining control of the vehicle. Mr. Henry also became very quiet. "At least we didn't become number 14," I said to break the awkward pause that had dashed between us during the skid.

"Take off is going to be a bitch," he said. Had I not been driving, I would have looked at him. I had never heard him swear in the few weeks I had worked with him. I wanted to see what emotion had inspired such a strong word. I forced myself to keep my eyes on the road.

We continued to ride in silence for another 20 minutes. The silence was broken by his ringing phone. "Yes," Mr. Henry said into his phone. A moment later, I saw his hand fly up to his face and pull down it, stretching some of his features. "I understand Alan. Call me as soon as something changes." He sat his phone down in his lap. he sat quietly for another minute before speaking. "Sylvia, that was Alan. They have restricted all arrivals and departures until after the storm lifts and they can clear the runways. He's spoken to the top people at the airport and no exceptions will be made. I'm afraid I need your help in finding a place to stay."

If I could have closed my eyes I would have. Instead, I drove past the sign pointing the left turn I should have been taking to the airport. "It's nearly dinner time," I said. "There is a Mexican restaurant about two blocks up. It's a very small family owned place. The food is really good, if you like Mexican. We could stop there and order an appetizer while I make you a reservation." My words sounded tight which made sense as my throat had begun to close in order to choke off my tears. I'd be missing dinner with my kids again. I didn't know if I would even be reading stories. I needed to call Alice.

"I love Mexican," Mr. Henry said.

I pulled my car into the La Hacienda's parking lot. The snow was deep and only a few lights were on. I knew the owners well and hoped they would let me use the restaurant as an oasis from the storm. "Why don't you wait in the warmth of the car while I make sure they are open," I said. Mr. Henry nodded at me and reached for his briefcase.

Snowed In

I'd started working as an ambassador to the wealthy moving into the city of New Saga. My primary responsibility was to make sure my client's stay or settlement went smoothly. In other words, I was a short term Executive Assistant. I made reservations at the best restaurants, knew which band was playing at which club, ensured transportation was always readily available, and whatever other interest or whim the person I was to cater to was met. In cases where the client was moving into town, I also advised on buying homes in the best neighborhoods with the best schools and other pieces that would need to be integrated into daily life. The last three weeks, I had been working with Mr. Henry.

Mr. Henry was a very popular man. He had more money than anyone I had represented before. He was finicky, demanding, and completely unaware of what most people's lives were like. He merely had to lift a finger and someone was there to take care of "the thing" needing to be addressed. He was also a genius in his field. By 18 years old, he had already made a quarter of a million dollars. By the time he turned 21, he was a multi-millionaire. His estate is valued in the billions now that he is in his late thirties. His attitude and his wealth intimidated most people, but it didn't stop them from wanting him involved in their projects or from inviting him to their social events in hope of a contribution.

Mr. Henry was generous with his money. He had a strong belief that everyone deserved a basic level of living through decent wages, the availability of effective and efficient social service programs, access to health care, and education. Based on his agenda, I think that is why he was in town. He spent time at the universities, with government officials, a number social workers from various state departments, and some grass root efforts. He lunched with big business and small business owners alike. He talked with the homeless in the parks and on the streets and then proceeded directly to a hospital or clinic to meet with the directors. It was almost as if he was running for president, except he made promises and immediately acted upon them and he never traded his views for a better offer to support something that he didn't feel strongly about.

In truth, I was fascinated with his work ethic and drive. It was the social events in the evening that I loathed. For most of my client's, my day ended after I had walked them to the waiting limo and given detailed instructions to the driver for the evenings itinerary. Mr. Henry insisted I attend all of his events. "He trusts you to be able to get him out of places he doesn't want to be and to handle any issue that comes up on the spot," Franklin Lee, my boss, had told me on the third day of my assignment. "You'll be generously compensated and I'll not assign you to another client for an extra week." He closed the conversation.

The extra money would be helpful and the week off sounded nice, but it didn't make up for the disappointment I heard in my children's voices every time I called and told Alice I would be home late and to put the children to bed. Sometimes it felt like I was always putting them on the back burner. At those moments, I would confide in my closest friend Johanna. "You are the best parent I know. Your children always come first to the point that you suffocate yourself. It would do you some good to take some time for you and to give them a little space," she would say. I knew she was right, but it didn't stop that little nagging voice from telling me my kids needed me and that I was damaging our relationship.

It was my last day working with Mr. Henry. The last minute details had been addressed. In forty-five minutes, his driver would be dropping him off at the airport and thirty minutes later, he would be taking off. I missed my kids very much, having seen them very little over the last few weeks. The minutes seemed to be ticking by slowly, mocking my desire to be home and pushing my professionalism to a breaking point. I stood in front of the floor to ceiling window watching the snow come down and swirl into the street below, slowing traffic to a crawl. The airport was only twenty minutes away, but it could easily take an hour in this weather. Mr. Henry's plane would probably be delayed for a short time.

I picked up my cell phone and called the car company. "Yes. This is Sylvia. I am calling on behalf of Mr. Henry. He would like to know if his driver will be here soon considering the weather conditions. He still expects to be to the airport on time."

"One moment please Sylvia. I am going to contact the driver and see how long before he arrives. Mr. Henry is staying at..... The Park Place, correct?"

"Yes. That is correct." there was silence as the operator switched to the other line to contact the driver. I continued to watch the snow swirl and the cars inch slowly up the street. i glanced at the time. 4:53pm. I probably wouldn't make it home until 6:45pm. At least I would have time to play a few games with the kids before reading hem to sleep.

"Clarence says he is on his way. He is about a mile away, but with the weather and the traffic, it will take him another fifteen minutes at least." Silently I worked through the logistics. Mr. Henry would arrive at the airport about 10 minutes late. It would still work. I would need to inform him of the delay though. He would want to know.

"Thank you. Be sure to have Clarence park in the sheltered garage and to call upstairs as soon as he arrives." I hung up the phone and walked through the hotels five room suite in search of Mr. Henry. The surroundings were luxurious. No expense was spared. The water glasses were rimmed in gold. Every vase had intricately cut designs in its heavy crystal walls. The drapes were heavy velvet. The furniture was pristine. The curved wood was polished frequently. Although it was a welcome change at first,now it made me miss home even more. I preferred the mess of my aging and well lived in home to this museum of fashion.

I found Mr. Henry in the small sitting room outside of his sleeping quarters. He was sitting on the long red chaise, his shoes on the floor and his feet propped up on the seat while he poured over a thick folder of papers. "Excuse me Mr. Henry, if I may interrupt?"

"Yes Sylvia. What is it?" he said without ever glancing up. The window was open and I could see the snow glisten as it passed through the soft lights from the building next door. It seemed to cast a holy light around Mr. Henry. I had been so impressed with his abilities that it seemed a fitting picture.

"I've spoken with your driver. He is about a mile away and should be here in fifteen minutes. However, with the weather conditions, it will put you about ten minutes late arriving to the airport. I thought I would let you know and see if you wanted me to communicate anything to the pilot."

He glanced over my shoulder at the clock. "No Sylvia. Alan knows to handle everything without a call. Thank you though." He was reading through his reports before finishing his sentence. My phone vibrated against my hip. I stepped out of the room and into the living room before answering it.

"This is Sylvia, ambassador for Mr. Henry. How may I help you?" It was how I always answered the phone, substituting the correct client's name as the weeks passed.

"Hi Sylvia. I'm calling on behalf of Clarence, Mr. Henry's driver. There has been an accident and Mr. Clarence is unable to pick him up. I understand that your time frame is very tight and between that and the worsening weather, we will be unable to get another driver to you. I know this will cause you and Mr. Henry some difficulties." I tried to interrupt. Mr. henry had to have a driver. This was not a trifling thing now was it something I couldn't rearrange on such short notice. My argument went unheard or worse, ignored. She continued on, anxious to get off the phone. "To help compensate you for the difficulties, our services for this past week will be free of charge. We do hope you and Mr. Henry will still use our services in the future."

I hung up without a response. For the first time, I was out of ideas as to what I could do. She was right. This would cause a great deal of difficulty. There wasn't a reputable company close enough to be able to get Mr. Henry to the airport on time. The weather pretty much guaranteed it. I took a deep breath and turned around to inform Mr. Henry of the predicament. I was surprised to see him standing in the doorway. His coat was on and his briefcase was in hand. "I see the driver will not be coming."

"Yes sir. That is correct," I said. "I can begin calling around for another car, but I doubt anyone will pick up the job."

Mr. Henry smiled at me. "It's okay Sylvia. How many times have I said I can trust you with anything? I'll just have you drive me to the airport before going home. My things are already downstairs. I'm sure a bellboy will load them into the car for you." The ounce of relief I had felt at his smile now felt like several pounds of pressure pushing down on my shoulders.

Me? Drive him to the airport? it was an outlandish assumption! I mean, I did live relatively near the airport and it would only be an extra half an hour at most, but that was most certainly not in my job description. I was angry at the mere suggestion that I should act as his personal driver. I was silent for too long. "I wouldn't ask if it wasn't vitally important that I be in California tomorrow. I understand how inappropriate it must seem to you."

He really wasn't really asking that much of me. Then again, he wasn't really asking me. It was an expectation. I turned my back to him, letting my professionalism crack just a little. Picking up my coat I said somewhat coolly, "Then we should be headed out. You'll be nearly twenty minutes late getting to the airport now." He walked passed me in his King of the World manner. As I closed the door, the lights went off from the hotel across the street and the snow looked heavier in it's absence.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

On the Way To Work

On the way to work, I noticed a white Toyota on the side of the rode with its emergency lights flashing. I could see a woman standing in front of the car, waving her arms at every car to pass-by. My brain told me to keep going. My heart told me to stop. My foot wasn't sure what to do as it applied pressure to the brake and my car began to slow down without the promise of stopping. I looked at the old broken car as I drove by. A small child was sitting in the back. I saw a brief glimpse of dark pigtails and wide open eyes.

I pulled off at the next exit just to reenter going the other way. I repeated the process at the next exit until I came across the same white car. I pulled over. "Oh thank God!" the woman yelled before I had rolled the window down.

"How can I help?" I asked without opening the door.

She walked quickly to me, glancing over her shoulder at the car and what I assumed was her little girl. "My car just died. I have my baby girl with me. She is only two and it is so hot out here, I am worried about her getting sick. Can you take her somewhere cool until the tow truck gets here?"

Certainly a two year old wouldn't be a threat to my safety. My sanity perhaps, but not my over all well being. I agreed to take her daughter to the mall, one exit and a few blocks away. We exchanged cell phone numbers. I strapped the little girl, Natasha, into the borrowed car seat and headed for the mall. The young woman began to cry. She hugged and kissed her daughter and thanked me a hundred times for opening my heart and helping out. I watched the woman wave in the rear view mirror until she was out of sight.

After an hour, I called to check up on the woman. I was irritated to receive a message stating that the phone number I was trying to reach was out of service. I tried a few more times. Another hour went by. And then another. I knew that waiting for a tow truck could take a couple of hours, but I was starting to worry. Where could she be? I fed Natasha dinner. It was Sunday and the mall would be closing in an hour.

When I called my boss to let him know the situation, he said I could make up the hours on Monday, my typical day off. I was starting to wonder how I was going to get my own things done when the mall security guard approached me and told me I would have to leave. As I explained the situation, a sadness moved across the guards face and the realization that Natasha's mother was probably never coming back occurred to me for the first time.

We called the police. As I drove back home, I noticed the white Toyota was gone. There was no sign it had ever been there. I began to cry at the travesty of the afternoon. Natasha was a sweet girl. She deserved a mother who would love her. I made a vow to make sure she ended up with a great family. I saw that vow come through, even though I could not take her myself.

*** Imagination Prompt Generator ***

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Three Men

I can't believe I am stranded on a desert island. I'm not sure what to hope for more. To be alone with a volleyball as my only social comfort or to see other survivors or habitants and be fearful of living Lost reruns. I have only seen a few clips from the show, but it seems to be a highly stressful experience.

I start to walk down the shore, looking through the few things that have washed up on shore. There is nothing useful. Then I see the silhouettes of three people huddled under a palm tree in the weak dusk light. Their movements are large and dramatic; their voices raised high in alarm. I approach cautiously, trying to understand the conversation. Finally, I am close enough to start making out features. I loose my breath.

Their clothing is tattered and faces are dirty, but I would recognize them anywhere. I am a mix of emotions: star struck and hopeful. We will be rescued soon. These men are far too important not to be searched for. I want to make my presence known and wish I had a mirror or at least a sexy little dress on. Instead, my appearance is as wrecked as theirs.

"Hello?" I call out in a questioning manner.

John Cusak looks at me. His dark hair is a mess making him that much more attractive. I can't help but offer a small smile as thoughts of him producing and starring in the book I plan to write about my experience. Johnny Depp looks up from his seated position. He's a beautiful man too. His exudes a calmness that makes me feel safe. He's an avid sailor so maybe he will have some ideas of how to get help. And then there is Craig Furgeson. He is smiling at what I assume is the absurdity of the situation. At least he will be able to keep us laughing at the situation.

Who needs food and shelter with such great company? I release my breath and take another step forward.

*** Seven Days, Seven Questions ***

Bad Day

As I lay on my cot, wondering what had become of my fellow travelers, I heard the beating of drums in the distance. I closed my eyes. The first person had walked with the captors calmly. She hadn’t tried to struggle at all, assuming she was being brought in front of the leader of the tribe to explain our sudden appearance. The next few people went timidly, looking back over their shoulders, a tell-tale fear in their eyes. The last two had struggled. Kicking, shouting, screaming, and being beat down until they were unconscious and unceremoniously dragged toward the sound of the drums.

The drumming became more intense. Low chanting had begun to float through the heavy jungle vines and find their way to my ears. It wouldn’t be long before they reached a fevered pitch and three strong men from the tribe would come to escort me to the drums, like all the others had been. The chants would end and I would walk silently to the solitary beat of a drum, one that would mark time in seconds. Step. Step. Step. It would demand.

The voices were ascending. I swallowed although my mouth was dry. The leaves outside of the hut rustled. I stood straight, emphasizing my height, in the middle of the little hut. I could hear the unmistakable sound of the wooden end of the spears scraping against the ground. I took a deep breath, filling my lungs with the stale breath of the room. The door slid open and a masked person peered inside, its clawed hand summoning me forward. I realized it was going to be a very bad day.

*** One Minute Writer ***

Thursday, March 25, 2010

An Essay for a Netbook

Tell Us How Our Libraries Have Impacted Your Madison College Learning Experience

As a non-traditional student, I am taking my education far more seriously than I did as a traditional student. I am stimulated by the environment and frequently challenged by the class work. I find myself putting more effort into studying and taking pride in being a part of this community. However, I did not start out feeling this way. I had been out of school for many years when I found myself sitting at my computer reflecting on my college days as a traditional student and nervously tapping my pencil, wondering what my on-line class would be like. I was riddled with anxiety about my ability to do well. It was the library system that both supported and pushed me to do better, thus opening the door for an extremely positive educational experience.

The catalyst for exploring the library and its resources came in the form of an assignment. I was to work with a small group of students to produce a well written paper dissecting the weaknesses and strengths of an employee handbook. The logistics seemed overwhelming at first and the three of us bitterly complained about how unfair this assignment was for an on-line class. Finally, we accepted the reality that we would need to find a way to make it work. The library provided a convenient place for everyone to meet to share opinions and knowledge. There were ample easily accessible materials that supported our ideas and the overarching project. It was a very positive experience and I continued to use the library as a meeting ground for other groups.

It wasn’t until my third or fourth class that I was asked to write a paper alone. Having always had the support of a group, I found myself feeling uncertain of my ability to write a paper outside of the team effort I had come to rely on. I spoke of this to a classmate I had worked on previous projects with and he told me about the wonderful experiences he had with the writing center. I made an appointment. The writing center staff was extremely professional and knowledgeable. This service proved to be invaluable to the writing of that paper and to my self-confidence as a capable student in every area.

I began visiting the library to look through additional reading materials teachers had recommended or articles they had placed on hold. It became a home away from home, one I would visit when I was early for class or when class ended early and I wasn’t ready to go back to my house. I started reading more, learning beyond what was expected of me. I became addicted to research and my personal library at home began to fill up with genres besides fiction. I am quick to share these resources with others. In that sense, the MATC library has made it possible for my experience with education to extend beyond the boundaries of the campus and learning community.

The library system was central to helping me build the confidence I needed to succeed academically, providing materials and space essential to supporting a quality education, and making it possible for students to learn beyond what a classroom can offer by encouraging social relationships through common interests and goals. All of these things combined have made my Madison learning experience the absolute best anyone can expect.

*** This is for a real contest. I don't know that this will be the final draft, but as I have less than 24 hours to 'fix' it, I doubt much more will be done to it. Oh.. the rules real quick: the title is the prompt, must be between 500-600 words. That pretty much sums it up. If you read my blog, please leave feedback in the comment section! I need your help! ***

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Am I Still Writing?

A friend of mine asked if I am still writing. I am! Just not as often or as well as I would like to be. I am spread too thin with responsibilities. My kids, my husband, my dogs and all the unwritten nuances that make those things come together into a functional (or dysfunctional) family life fall on my list of things to do or to take care of. Oh. And I should be in there somewhere too.

It doesn't just end with that. I also have the responsibilities associated with taking classes. There is my dance class one day a week and the Spanish class I take two nights a week. The practice, the homework, and the other things that need to be done to progress or achieve success are things that don't fit in until everyone is asleep. At least some of this doubles as "me time", although sometimes I think it sucks time away from me rather than it being mine to hold on to.

Occasionally, like every day, I have an urge to be social outside of the people I have singed up to spend time with by marriage contract or college acceptance. Less than occasionally I get to actually follow through on that. I love having those opportunities and greatly enjoy my time with those others, but leading up to that point I question if it is the best use of my time. There are always a million other things I could be getting off my t-do list. (Seeing friends is always the best choice. Contemplating otherwise is more of a way to face the inevitable non-checked items on my list.)

I guess I could be more precise in my response. Am I still writing? Yes. Are you?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I think we should buy stock in ketchup... specifically Heinz. My son eats very little without it. If its a meat, it needs to be smothered in it. If it is fried, it needs to be dipped. If it goes on bread, better spread it on thick. If it is practically any other kind of food, he'll experiment with the proper proportion. If it can't be mixed with ketchup, it simply doesn't go in his mouth. I wonder how much a stock costs.

*** One Minute Writer ***

Troubled Teen

She thought she had been struck by cupid's arrow. She had never experienced the sensation she had when she looked at Josh. Maybe band camp wouldn't be so bad after all. She walked over to him and smiled weakly. "Ummm.... hi Josh," she said. Her mouth was dry. She would have been willing to drink a bottle of mouthwash if it meant her tongue didn't feel like sandpaper in his presence. She watched him tug a little harder on the head of a gnome, trying to pluck it from his camp counselor's garden. The counselor had nailed it to a stake and buried the end deep.

He looked over his shoulder briefly. "Hey."

She felt the heat rising from her feet, up her legs and into her abdomen. It made her feel nauseous, dizzy, confused. Is this what love felt like, she thought. She stumbled forward slightly. Her bright red golashes glowing bright against the slightly damp color of earth. "Hey." she responded, her vision clouding everything but Josh out of her sight. She felt herself sway. I'm weak in the knees. It's a fairytale!

Josh looked over his shoulder again. "Are you okay?" he asked, forgetting the gnome and reaching for her instead. She could feel the heat rising up her chest and into her face. She was having difficulties breathing. She couldn't believe what a strong effect he was having on her. She swooned. The last thing she saw was Josh leaning over her and the last thing she felt was his lips pressing against hers.

At least, that is the way she preferred to remember it when the other kids at band camp taunted her. She kept this story alive inside of her using it mentally fend off the taunts of the other kids who had learned what happened. Maybe one day, she would be able to use it as the opener to her explanation of how she found out she was allergic to porcupine quills.... and why she would never attend another camp in the mountains again. For now, she had to endure the teasing and hateful words that teenagers are so good at conjuring up.

*** Seven Days, Seven Answers ***

Monday, March 22, 2010

Shopping Bag

I stood in line, my cart overflowing with boxes, meat, produce, and soda. I waited patiently as the older woman at the head of the line handed over her fistful of coupons then wrote out a check very slowly. The woman in front of me guffawed and the man in front of her shifted his weight from one foot to the other impatiently. None of the other lines were shorter. It didn't matter. I wasn't in a hurry.

The older woman handed over her check, wished the cashier a good day, and slowly ambled down the rest of the lane, supporting herself on the raised side of the conveyor belt. The man stepped forward, handed over a small blue box and paid quickly. He passed the older woman who had just made it to the door. "Maybe seven," I thought.

The woman in front of me moved forward. Her few items rolled down the belt just behind her, the summer sausage bumping into the cheese and crackers. She gave the clerk a strained smile and slid her card through the machine, glancing quickly at the large clock on the wall.

"Eight", I thought. "Same as 40 cents." I unloaded the front of my cart, placing my reusable shopping bags prominently at the front. I put the rest of my groceries on the belt, looking up to make sure my bags were being used. I paid my $118 bill and smiled. At the bottom of my receipt was a credit for .40 cents. At least I earned a little cash and balanced out the other customers waste.

*** One Minute Writer ***

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Getting Some Sleep

I sat at my desk and watched the clock turn to midnight. There were no bells or bongs, just the silent knowledge that I should have been in bed a long time ago. Still, I had so much to do. The computer hummed loudly next to me. My eye lids felt heavy and my back ached. Just ten more minutes I told myself, knowing it would be a lie but still attempting to put some kind of deadline out there. I took a deep breath and looked at my list of things to do.

Send pictures to Erica. That could wait until tomorrow. It would take too much time to pick out the good ones, try and crop the okay ones into something better, and resize them so she could actually download them.

Send pictures to Sharon. Ditto. It would have to wait until tomorrow.
Write an entry on your blog. I hated to disappoint my fans, but I was tired and nothing in my mind was begging to get out and onto paper. Hmmmmm....... I didn't want to push it off until tomorrow, but knew even if I wrote something I would not be proud of it. I would just push it further down the list and hope an idea would come to me.

Study espanol. I could do that. It would take longer without someone to double check my work or give me immediate feedback, but I could do it.

I opened up the internet site where all of the homework was to be completed. I finished filling in the blanks, conjugating, and guessing at true and false questions. Tengo sueno I whispered to myself. The truth was I was exhausted not just sleepy. Still I pressed on. Finally, I made it to the last three assignments. I began watching the video about the importance of soccer in Spain. As usual, it was boring. I rested my head in my hands and concentrated on the heavily accented and occasionally slurred English.

I yawned, pulling oxygen deep into my lungs. My eyes closed and I felt my head fall forward. I jerked up, shaking my head slightly to help regain alertness. I rewound the video a little and began to watch it again. Still my head began to fall forward. I paused the video. It showed I was half way through it. I stood up and walked to the sink, filling a glass of water and then returned to my seat.

I stretched and then settled in for the last half of the video. I had to pay attention. There was always a quiz following the vid....

I felt a gentle tapping on my shoulder. The sun was streaming brightly through the windows. A little man was bouncing around the screen, repeatedly informing me "Malo". My son was asking for something to eat. It was just after 8am. I glanced at the screen again. It showed 28%. Great. I had failed my quiz miserably. I must have fallen asleep on the keyboard. There was nothing I could do about it now. It was time to start a new day. I would just have to add 'Ask Teacher to Reset Quiz' to my To Do list. The list that never seems to shrink.

*** It's too late and I am too tired to be writing. Sorry! ***

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

On Saint Patrick's Day

"Like all good fairy tales, our magic ends when you are deep asleep, dreaming of next years treats and tricks," is the note left behind by our friendly neighborhood leprechauns each year. My eldest reads the green glittery letter to his sister with the use of a magnifying glass. After all, leprechauns are tiny magical people, no taller than a Smucker's jar of raspberry jelly, so their writing should be really tiny. And they are very quick too! We never catch them in their mischievous acts, such as turning water into Leprechaun juice or making the letters taped to the window flip every time we go in or out of the house. Nor are they ever caught dumping the koolaid down the drain or cleaning up all of the crepe paper left behind after the children are in bed. The only reminder that they visited is the small pot of shiny pennies and single gold dollar coin left behind with a trace of gold dust.

*** Seven Days, Seven Answers ***

Monday, March 15, 2010

On Hold

I don't know that any area of my life is truly on hold. I am not working and therefore not making any marked progress in my career, but I hesitate to say it is on hold. I prefer to think of it as a detour due to construction. I am busy building my children's lives while they are still young enough to build a framework of moral and ethical character around. I am learning more about who I am as a person and not being defined by the effort I would put into a job. I am training for that eventual day when I do return to a career that does not involve my family so intimately. For now, I am by-passing a corporate run life in exchange for the small non-profit of my family and I like it.

***One Minute Writer ***

Chuck's B-day

Chuck Norris sat in the kitchen-acting-as-a-green-room waiting for his turn to be interviewed. It was a gag for his party guests. He was told it was all the rage by his grandson and decided to go along with it. Who knew? Maybe it would be fun to reenact this part of his glory days. He heard his guests laughing and cheering in the other room. Letterman was on a role. Chuck ran his finger along the side of the cake, scooping the sweet icing into his mouth and savoring the melting sugar crystals. If someone asked about it he would take the blame. He was 70 today. No one cared about the diameter of his waist or biceps anymore. He could indulge in the things he had restricted himself from most of his adult life. He took another swipe and then heard footsteps nearing the door.

"Hey Grandpa," his grandson said entering the kitchen. "This Letterman guy is rockin' the house. You're up next. Ready?"

"You bet!" Chuck responded.

"Great. Grab a napkin on your way out. Grandma is going to be mad if she sees the icing on your finger."

Chuck smiled at his eldest grandson. He pointed his clean finger at him gun-style and winked. "Thanks whipper snapper." He walked over to the sink and washed his hands quickly. He grabbed a napkin and ran over his mouth and chin, just in case there was some evidence there as well. He'd take the blame, but wasn't about to admit to it unless questioned.

He walked out of the kitchen, across the formal dining room and into the living room where Letterman introduced him to the crowd of friends and family that had gathered to help him celebrate. The room erupted in applause. Letterman escorted him to the makeshift stage that had been constructed specifically for this purpose. Chuck sat down heavily in the blue overstuffed chair.

As Letterman sat down behind the desk, the room quieted. "Chuck Norris everybody." Letterman said to another round of applause. Chuck smiled and waved, trying to ham up his role and entertain those who had gathered. It was answered by whistles and approving shouts. Slowly, the room quieted again and Letterman continued with his spiel. "I have to say that I have always wanted to interview you. I'm a little flabbergasted to be sitting here with you so if I stumble and make a fool of myself, just remember I'm star struck and I am not this much of an idiot most times." Letterman paused briefly for the smattering of laughter and applause. "How are you?"

Chuck smiled at this all too common question. he knew no one wanted to hear about his aches and pains or medication regiment. They wanted everything to be fine and dandy so they could move on with their uncomplicated lives. "I'm 70 and feeling like I just finished a great fight scene. Except it's a fight scene where I lose." he flashed a toothy dentured smile at his family and friends and winked. It took the edge off his words and everyone laughed. It's what he expected.

"I think someone needs to rewrite that scene. Chuck Norris does not lose." Letterman responded. Chuck tilted his head back and genuinely laughed. He would give almost anything to feel different in his body. "So, I have this list of facts here on my blue cards and I was hoping you would elaborate on them."

Chuck sat straighter in his seat. There had been no rehearsal and he didn't know what to expect. There were some shady areas in his life and he was hoping he wouldn't need to defend himself now. He'd cleaned up his act years ago, but every now and then a skeleton came tumbling out and he found himself on the defensive. He grumbled an agreement, nodding his head sternly.

"Here we go then. It says here that Chuck Norris makes onions cry." Letterman stopped. He looked very seriously at Norris and said, "Is that true?" The room filled with laughter. Chuck felt himself relax. There would be no skeletons, just goofy things people had said about him. It was light banter.

Letterman continued to raucous laughter, Chuck joining the crowd and occasionally adding a comment or two.

"Chuck Norris can slam revolving doors."

"When Chuck Norris does a push up, he isn't lifting himself up, he's pushing down the world."

"Ghosts are actually caused by Chuck Norris killing people faster than death can process them."

"Chuck Norris can build a snowman out of rain."

"Chuck Norris can drown a fish."

"Chuck Norris's calendar goes straight from March 31st to April 2nd: no one fools Chuck Norris."

"A cobra once bit Chuck Norris's leg. After 5 days of excruciating pain, the cobra died."

"Chuck Norris doesn't read books. He stares them down until he gets the information he wants."

"The most honorable way of dying is taking a bullet for Chuck Norris. This amuses Chuck Norris because he is bullet proof."

As he climbed into bed that night, he smiled. His 70th birthday had been pretty good. It dulled the aching in his bones. He felt good and looked forward to celebrating his 71st birthday. "Those whipper snappers were right," he though as he drifted off to a medication induced sleep.

*** Prompt from Seven Days, Seven Answers. Chuck Norris facts from mirror.co.uk ***

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Not Quite the Same

How do I not fit in with the family I grew up in? I can't answer that in a minute. Even the abbreviated list is too long. My husband said I should just say that I am awesome and they are not. Funny, but a bit left field.

How do I not fit in with my sisters and parents, huh? Well, I moved away from home, developed opinions of my own, and have balance in my life and relationships. Oh, and all of the nuances that fall within those too broad categories.

*** One Minute Writer***

Saturday, March 13, 2010


His red sweatshirt stood out against the faded old brick siding and the dark colors of the other's winter coats. He had a dirty green backpack slung over his shoulders, the seams straining to keep the items inside. His arms were loaded with books. Text books I knew even though I was too far away to read the spines. A cigarette stood straight out between his clenched teeth and smoke escaped in thin streams out of the side of his mouth. His eyes were focused on the sidewalk just in front of his feet. I stared at him openly without any fear of being noticed.

I was caught by the sight of him. Somehow, he seemed out of context. He didn't fit in with the images I had conjured up of college. But he was there. As real as my own flesh and confusion. Why was he there and why was I bothered by the sight of him? What was it that he was taking away from my experience? We passed on the sidewalk. He unaware of my presence and me obsessed with the sight of him.

It's been 3 weeks and his presence still haunts me even though I haven't seen him since. I don't have any answers as to why. I need to see him framed against the building again. I need the opportunity to study him. I've begun to think about how to make that happen.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Half and Hold

"Alzheimer's is worse for those not inflicted, but forced to watch. A progressive disease that devastates those around the inflicted and leaves the inflicted standing in a thick fog, but otherwise unharmed," she had explained to many of her research subjects and their families. Lauren could feel it moving in her, the dampness settling into the deep recesses of her brain, slowing her thoughts and obscuring some memories completely. She worked diligently to hold on to her memories, using all she had learned in her studies of the disease and bargaining with God to let her keep the most important ones: her children's names; the joys and frustrations they brought her over the years; her own name; and an identity she could recognize as hers. In return, she would sacrifice her body and the other half of her mind. Just let me keep these few things, she prayed silently. It was a prayer she fervently wanted heard and ultimately knew would go unanswered.

*** One Minute Writer***

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Winning... And Losing

I didn't know I'd entered a contest. I thought I was just doing my third grade homework. The directions said: Write a story and include illustrations. I wrote about a small house and the people who lived in it. I remember the kitchen had black and white checkered linoleum (not that I knew that is what it would be called at the time), bright yellow walls, orange curtains swept to the side of a window that framed blue skies and part of a cloud. In the middle of the color chaos was a table set for breakfast. I won the Young Authors Award for my grade level. There was a small ceremony held in the school cafeteria. The three winners of each grade sat on the floor, waiting to receive their prize.

I was 14 when my grandmother's house burned down and with it, the only copy of the book I had. I am still saddened by the loss of it.

*** One Minute Writer ***

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My First Job: lawn, robot, yellow, spork

We stood on the lawn, my co-workers and I, desperately trying to keep our heels from sinking into the sodden grass. Our table had sunk into the mud so that we had to reach to our mid thighs to pick up the product. None of us were happy standing in our bright yellow uniforms, but we kept our lips curved up and our voices chipper as we showed the wonders of the "spork." Many people stopped by, amused by the idea. It was likely we would earn a good commission, that is if the batteries in the little singing robot at the table next to us died.

*** Seven Days, Seven Answers ***

Monday, March 8, 2010

It's a Miracle!

I heard him crying out in the dark. The moans grew louder, the pain and discomfort more obvious. I laid in my bed staring at the ceiling, waiting for my son to wake up and call out that he had to go to the bathroom 'really bad.' He never did. Still, I watched the clock for just over an hour before my daughter stumbled her way into my room demanding to be snuggled. I obliged happily. Shortly after sharing snuggles, she said "I have to go potty Mom and I am hungry." Quietly we slid out of my bed and went into the bathroom, my son's moan floating across the hallway once more.

As my daughter and I emerged from the bathroom in order to forage for breakfast, my son called out. "Mom, I'm hurt! Come help me!" This was unlike him and I walked down the hall a little faster than usual. I turned the corner to his bedroom only to find him sitting naked on his bed and cradling his feet. "My foot hurts really bad mom. There is a red line on my toenail and it hurts really bad." Tears cascaded over his cheeks as he lost control of his emotions, sobbing louder than he had moaned.

"Can I see your foot?" I was concerned. I knew his daddy had put him into footie jammies that were too small for him. I was afraid the elastic may have cut off some of his circulation or pulled up one of his toenails slightly. At the same time, I wasn't too worried because he was know to over exaggerate every little pain. To be honest, I had suspected he was unusually tactilely sensitive.

My request was met with more tears and sobs. Slowly, we worked out a deal that I could see his toe as long as I sat on my hands so her knew I couldn't touch it. Sitting on my hands, he uncovered his foot and rotated so I could see the devastating injury. There was a small red line cutting across the middle of his nail. It looked as if he had bent his nail, causing some minor bleeding. I took pity on him and helped him dress, reassuring him that his toe did not need to be involved in the process and would be perfectly safe.

He limped out of his bedroom, my daughter following closely behind in case he needed assistance. As soon as he made it to the end of the hallway, he began running around the banister which divided the living room, kitchen, and dining room. "Look mom! It doesn't hurt anymore! I can walk and I can run. I don't think I can ride my bike though because its different than running and walking."

"Uh-huh." I said. "It's a miracle! Thank the Lord Jesus for his healing powers." I threw my hands in the air. My daughter copied me, thanking the Lord Jesus and throwing her hands to heaven in a salutation of praise.

After a lot more running and the preparation of our breakfast applesauce, breakfast bar, and milk, we all climbed into our chairs. All of the joy we had about the miraculous healing disappeared as he kicked his toe on the chair leg. My son was in great pain once again. I was just lucky that daddy walked through the door at that minute. After a quick explanation of the momentary miracle and new bout of tears, I left the room to finish getting ready for work. I returned just in time to witness the second miracle.

My husband was sitting at the table with a piece of wadded up tissue, cautiously running it over the top of my son's toe. "See." he said as my son's eyes and mouth grew into large ovals, "It's was just a little bit of left over toe nail polish. You're fine."

"Wow Dad! You're grawesome!" my son said. He grabbed his plate, put it in the sink and immediately jumped on his bike, showing off his new physical prowess. I was tempted to praise the almighty for his everlasting healing power, but knew it would be just as legitimate to thank the inventor of nail polish remover.

Great Expectations

Sometimes I feel as if the whole world is against me and I have to remind myself not to be so paranoid. After all, most areas of my life are quite pleasant and some excel well beyond good. The real issue, I am rediscovering, is that I have very high expectations for myself and I transfer these expectations to others. Maybe it is not fair to ask others to meet a bar that I have set for them based on my abilities and preferences of behavior. But I have set it there and I want it to stay there.

Most recently, my supervisors at work have thudded against it. It's not the first time, nor is it the second time. Truthfully, I can't even remember how many times I have been let down by their inability to vault over the bar. So, are my expectations just too out of reach?

I've worked with several organizations that happily told their employees of the high quality work they should expect from management and supervisory staff. I've been one of the people on the bragging end. Most of the time, I have seen people in these positions carefully upholding their end of the typical employment deal: You do your job and I will provide the support you need to do it well. Sure, everyone, including myself sometimes find themselves caught in red tape or personal muck that makes it difficult (and sometimes impossible) to achieve the goals. But to constantly feel like management is failing their employees means something is wrong.

Let's look at my most recent situation. I work with preschool aged children in a variety of capacities. One aspect of my job includes taking some of these children away from the primary care area and teaching them pre-sports skills such as teamwork, cooperation, leadership and fundamentals like taking turns and dribbling a ball. When I first started, I never signed my children up for other classes because I couldn't be there to both drop them off or pick them up. I was told by the head of the department that my co-workers still within the primary care area would be responsible for ensuring my child made it to or from class if I wanted to sign them up for specialty classes.

So, I've signed them up for classes. My daughter misses approximately a third of her classes and is late to another third. My son would miss more than half of his classes if I didn't take the responsibility for getting him there even though I am not typically in his area of the program. Is it a surprise then that upon returning to the primary care area I would be upset that my daughter missed yet another class that I have to pay for? When I asked why she didn't go, the supervisor on the shift said she was busy and I should not expect her to make sure it happens. Her supervisor was there and said it wasn't the staff's problem if she doesn't go, it was mine. If I didn't like it, I should take it up with the head of the apartment. This was proceeded by "airwashing" of their hands and literally walking away from me. One of the staff standing in the area them walked over and said, "I'm sorry it was missed. From now on, I will make a point of getting her there. I'm really sorry."

Am I wrong in thinking that should have been more or less how the conversation went from the beginning? Shouldn't the supervisors said that they were sorry she missed her class and that we should work something out to make sure she is getting to them? Shouldn't I be offered a refund for the class every time they fail to get my kids where they are suppose to be? It's all within their ability. Concerning the staff who took it upon herself to act like what I would expect a supervisor to act like, I wish I would have been able to say thank you with more sincerity.

I'm blowing it all out now, moving beyond this and taking the high road. At least, I am trying to.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Oh, What To Do

I want to keep writing, but as of late, I am lacking the motivation and inspiration to do so. I don't know that I have the right answer, but I have been considering my options. I could stop writing for a week or two and see if I am recharged, if fondness makes the heart grow fonder. I'm afraid I wouldn't come back. I've considered switching from mostly fiction to non-fiction, almost an essay style with the twist of writing my own thoughts. To an extent, I have been trying this when I can't find a prompt that I even remotely like.

The action that I am considering the most is to move my blog from being very private (with only 4 people having access to it aside from myself) to making it public and advertising it. But I am afraid. I am afraid that a friend may read it and take the tiny aspect of something that really happened that I put into my story and then twisted it to be something very different, personally and become quite upset. I am afraid that people will see my most recent work, much of which I am not happy with. It's not so much that I am afraid they will see it because they WILL see it as I won't change any of it. I'm afraid that they won't look past it and see that there are some good entries. I'm afraid that I won't be able to get anyone to read it and that my desire to write will decrease even more as my hopes for feedback fade.

So what should I do? Take a chance? Suck it up? Ponder longer? Try to get through the dry spell and then make a choice? I don't know. Maybe, I should set a deadline, kind of an ultimatum for myself, and then go with opening my blog if I am still sitting on the fence. Again, I don't know. Hmmmm........

Saturday, March 6, 2010


She was gliding across the floor, rising and falling with the beats, her body echoing the emotion wrapped around each beat, filling out the moments in between. She could feel her dress flow around her, the air tickling the tops of her thighs as she spun quickly and then snapping at her ankles when she would stop suddenly, only to stretch further than anyone could imagine was possible. Always pushing just a little further, setting herself apart from other contestants.

She loved the sporadic applause. The feeling of her heart racing, even though she had only been on the floor for a few minute,s reminded her of racing across her father's fields in the Spring. Her long limbs reaching long into the next step, the power behind each step propelling her into the next one. There was no better memory from her childhood.

The music ended, her smile stayed, but her breathing became heavy and labored. The energy burnt in that two minutes was equivalent to running a mile or two. She bowed to the audience, prepared to do it again in a few seconds. Ready to take the floor.

Someone bumped into her. "Oh, excuse me," said the woman dressed in a purple ballgown. Joanne looked up, but it didn't matter. The woman was gone, her full skirt fluttering behind her as she raced to the entry line with her partner. Joanne let out the breath, surprised she had been holding it again.

Her reality dawned on her as she attempted to angle the wheelchair further under the table and out of the way. It wasn't her dancing. Not anymore. Not ever again. Unless she continued to dream about it, like she did every time she watched her daughter spin gracefully around the floor.

*** One Minute Writer ***