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Archive for June, 2015

So it finally happened. The day I always knew would come. The day I gave into a pushy pirate.

I was left alone and helpless – a single impressionable figure in the midst of a crowd. I did the right thing. I buried my face in my phone, didn’t glance his way, barely mumbled thank you when he shoved the dime-sized sample into my hand.

“Just let me show you one thing.” he pleaded. And that is where I made the mistake. Where I normally would have shaken my head and hurried on without bothering to be polite and responsive, I looked up. “No thank you, I am in a hurry.” I said. I don’t know what came over me. If I was feeling vulnerable after having battled the crowds at the store I had just left. Or, more likely, if I had been away from a mall for too long and had forgotten that the only way to say no to pirates, also known as salesmen, was to be rude.

“I know, I know – really quick, just one thing.” With a skeptical glance around me, I turned off the screen to my phone and he knew he had me. I feel like the hands motioning me toward his stand were more like tentacles drawing me towards my death.

I reluctantly took a couple steps forward so he could show me the “one quick thing”, and next thing I knew, his hands were in my hair. “What are you doing?” I wanted to demand, but my polite upbringing provided a barrier against the words coming out. He purred and simpered over me, as he showed me the flat/curling iron that would make perfect curls in my hair that wouldn’t fall out. “When you curl your hair, it never stays, yes?” He asks. I nod, truthful to the end. “You have thin hair” He says. “No, I don’t!” I defend myself, offended that the thick hair I am proud of was called thin. “Oh, you have thick hair” he quickly corrected himself. “It is just the strands – they are thin.They will stay this time.” He brings the attention back to the curls. He shows me how to straighten it out, assures me that it is the one product that doesn’t damage my hair. I think about just pulling away and running, but envision that going badly with a steaming hot flat iron entangled in my hair.

“You like it? You like it?” Again, I politely nod. “Normally $300, but today is [insert some random anniversary], so we have a special sale! We will sell it for only $189!”

“No thank you.” I am proud of myself for getting the words out. “The price is too high?” I nod again, looking wistfully at my hair clip placed just out of reach and the myriads of people passing us, oblivious to my desperate situation.

“Tell you what, tell you what. Just for you, I will give you [insert special person] price! I will bring it to [rapidly typing numbers on his calculator] $120!!” He flourishes, expecting hallelujahs and angels. “Uh. No thank you.” He looks as though I have just crushed his entire world, and feeling appropriately guilty, I let him straighten my hair out again, grab my clip and step away, my hair now my own again.

I begin walking away. “Wait, wait – one minute!” He calls after me. Once again, I ask, what came over me? Have I been away from crowds too long? Did I have an aneurysm? Did I just zone out? For whatever reason, I stopped and turned back. He hurriedly whispers to the other guy at the stand.  I glance stealthily behind me and begin inching back, thinking I should just walk away, and then thinking how rude that would be after I had already stopped.

He motions me back and, I will say, I pursed my lips to show my intense displeasure at being detained even longer, but politely step back towards him.

“I have asked my boss for permission.” he tells me in a low voice as if telling me a magnificent secret. “And – just for you – because I want you as a customer – I will give up my commission and give you this product for [pause for dramatic effect] $89.99.” He looks at me as though expecting me to break out in a wide grin, all my wishes and dreams come true.

I feel tired and defeated from all this human interaction. “Um. . .”

“But! But, in exchange, you must promise to recommend me to your friends! Pinky promise!” He holds out his pinky finger for a pinky promise. With confusion I look at it, and at him, my brain telling me to run, my imagination instantly amused at his quoting Despicable Me, my hair-that-never-curls looking at the curling iron, and the rest of me bursting with the need to be kind and polite.

I barely shake his pinky finger. In ecstatics, he shows me the multitude of colors I can get, types up my sale, and holds out his hand for a credit card, which I shamefacedly hand to him, sign the receipt, and rush away, hardly able to believe I just let myself get sucked into that, and looking angrily at my $100 purchase, thinking it had better work, and trying to think of the best way to tell my husband that I just spent that much money on a hair product I never use.

Husbands reaction as I begin telling him the story: Uncontrollable bursts of laughter, as he assures me that my story itself was worth the $100.

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As I sit outside in the fading light, I feel both restfulness and a bit of sadness fall over me. One never seems to come without the other. A sense of growing older and life passing me by consistently taps me on the shoulder, especially when looking over peaceful sights such as the sun sinking behind the tall buildings surrounding my little balcony. I seem to grown more frantic every day to do something with my life – write, learn, travel – anything – before it is too late. What I seem to consistently forget is that for me, getting older doesn’t equal too late. Getting older means, as Daniel reminded me today, one day closer to seeing God. To reaching the home I actually belong in. Just because I get to heaven doesn’t mean I have to stop writing or reading – doesn’t mean God won’t shower me with the ability to speak dozens of languages – doesn’t mean I won’t be able to see the Great Canyon. Heck, God may even show me sights He has created even more marvelous that men haven’t discovered. And most of all, it means I will no longer be growing older. I will be in an ageless body that has no concept of feeling the sadness of getting older. So why so much fear? I should concentrate on living every day in peace and joy – yes, doing my utmost with what God has given me, but remembering that it will never be too late for me, as a Christian.

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Just a Rainy Day

So it rained on Monday. I knew the forecast called for rain, and yet, I looked out the window and determined that if it wasn’t raining right then, the likelihood of it raining during the time I was walking to and from work was pretty nil. And I was right! for about 90% of the walking time. I was safe all the way to work, and most of the way back . . . until I had JUST hit that SINGLE spot where there as no more shelter to take the last block and a half home. And then I felt a drop. Oh, well – just a drop – right? It will start sprinkling, and I will be home maybe a tiny bit damp, but not too bad, right? Not right. After that drop, it turned into a deluge. Just like that. By the time I got in the door, my shoes were pretty much shooting out water every time I stepped, and I looked like I had dove into a pool just for the fun of it. My husband had a solution when he saw me. He hugged me, expressed appropriate sympathy, and pulled out a king sized Symphony candy bar for me. 😀

The next day, when I saw rain still on the forecast, I took appropriate cautions. And brought my umbrella. Which, I might point out, is brand new, and looks suspiciously like a parasol.

My umbrella!

But it is an umbrella! I promise! What I don’t promise is that I won’t ever use it as a parasol as well. 😀 What can I say? Victorian at heart! I was both excited for the chance to use it, and a little shy about how old fashioned it probably looked, even though I had just purchased it at target a few weeks before. And so I ask you what I told myself. What is wrong with a little old fashioned? What is wrong with emulating styles you find pretty, even if they are a little out of date? Other people do things like – wear jeans that are falling so far down you can see their underwear (yuck!), or jeans that purposefully have holes cut through them. Or – well, you get the idea. For my part, I much prefer being a little old fashioned and emulating that style from back when people actually cared about looking nice. So no matter how much my heart pounds with fear of other people judging – I am going to keep – well – keep trying to be myself. And wear pretty clothes that make me happy.

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Not going to lie, I am nervous to even put this on my blog because I know it is awful. But it is the first story I have actually completed in probably years. So, I thought I would take a deep breath and post it anyway.

This story was in response to the Writer’s Digest Your Story Competition #66. Not that I have an illusions about this winning or getting anywhere other than the bottom of the pile – but, again, at least I wrote something.

Prompt: Write a short story of 750 words or fewer based on the following prompt:
Mommy, I don’t like this.

“Give it to me!” “No, it’s mine!” My children’s angry voices reached me from their bedroom as I leaned down to pick up the toys left on the floor from today’s play session. I sighed inwardly, and only hesitated a moment before deciding to wait and see if they worked it out themselves rather than rushing in to break up yet another fight. Both had woken up on the wrong side of the bed this morning and it had been a very long day.

As I moved to the toy bin, I heard their cries get louder. “You had it ALL DAY! It’s MY turn! MOMMY!!!” I dropped the Legos in the Lego bin and turned to the Barbies, still hoping they would work it out without assistance. “You’re mean! You’re always mean! You would be nice if Daddy was here!” My heart constricted as I heard my little boy’s reasoning, and the long day finally fully caught up with me as I sank to my knees on the carpeted floor, my heart heavy as it echoed my child’s wish. If only Daddy were here. I felt an unnatural heaviness in my arms as I reached out to pick up the next toy, but couldn’t find the strength to actually pick it up. I let my hands rest on the ground as I stared at the floor, both unwilling and unable to force myself to rise as I fought to keep the exhausted tears back, and re-construct the wall around my heart that always fell too easily. At least not until there was no one awake to hear me cry and the darkness overwhelmed me alone in the large bed. Then it wasn’t worth the effort to keep the wall up.

“Well, he isn’t here! Daddy is NEVER here!” His sister’s harsh tones pierced me, and evidently her brother as well, as I heard the thump of a small hand hitting something- or someone – hard. “OUCH! MOMMY!! DAVEY HIT ME!” My children’s need for an intermediary overruled my lack of fortitude as I forced myself back up and walked toward my children’s room as slowly as if my legs were made of cement. I didn’t want to see their little faces, full of accusing tears, staring up at me and silently demanding to know why their daddy wasn’t here anymore. Everytime I saw them cry, my mind would flash back to when we had our final fight – the one that had climaxed them all – and he had driven away. My children seemed to know something was different that time because they had gone running to the door as he slammed it behind him and stared out the window, tears welling up in their little faces that time too. Davey had summed it up for all of us as he turned to look at me that night as his daddy’s truck disappeared over the hill. “Mommy, I don’t like this.” “Me neither. Me neither.” I mumbled in response yet again to the memory. But I hadn’t known how to fix it. How to fix what I had said – what he had said – how to erase everything that had happened between us. It was too much. So I hadn’t tried. And he hadn’t either. A week of silence had turned into a month, which had turn into six months. It was too late now – what could you say after six months of silence to erase the hurt that had had such a long time to stew?

My hand reached for the doorknob just as I heard my daughter’s voice, suddenly quieter. “Why are you cryin’, Davey?” “Cause you are mean!” my little boy sobbed. “No I ain’t. You are the one who hitted me!” Her voice resonated with indignance. “But you said mean things.” Silence. Then. “I’m sorry, Davey. I was just mad.” Silence again. I peaked inside. Susanna had her arms wrapped around her little brother. “I forgive you.” He whispered, and hugged her back.

I shut the door again silently, unheeding of the instant tears that spilled down my cheeks, struck with the simplicity of their exchange. It was the most beautiful demonstration of love I had ever seen. I walked back into the kitchen, and stood there. Then I reached for the phone.

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