Friday, May 28, 2010

WIN OR LOSE

I’m not a gambling woman. You won’t find me frequenting casinos or playing poker. Betting is out of my league, except for the occasional lottery ticket. No use throwing good money after bad. But three times a year… from the beginning of May until early June… we get a hankering for horses, at our house. This historic sport dominates our weekends. We become glued to the television set watching The Kentucky Derby, The Preakness and Belmont Stakes. You see horse racing is in my blood. My dear departed grandfather was more than familiar with a race track. He used to play the ponies, in years gone by. One of my earliest memories... is seeing him with a pencil, stuffed behind his ear, and a racing form in his hand. Just like him… my hubby and I try to pick the ponies, the day of the races. Instead of relying on the newspaper, like grandpa used to do… we scour the Internet looking for details on the horses, their owners, trainers and jockeys. We compile the data, print out the odds, and pick our favorites for the big day. We're in it, to WIN... but no cash exchanges hands. We do this for BRAGGING RIGHTS only. And we do it for FUN. On Derby Day, I follow tradition and wear a hat, downing a cocktail or two. But please... no Mint Julips, we hate them. Sorry Kentucky. During The Preakness, I lament about Black-Eyed Susans not really being in season. They use daisies with painted centers. My heart aches when I hear Maryland, My Maryland… it reminds me of home. Then, we anxiously wait to see the weathervane on top of the Old Clubhouse Replica, get painted with the winner’s colors. When The Belmont Stakes finally rolls around, a few weeks later... we already know... whether or not, there’s a contender for The Triple Crown. And we know... that this is the last leg of the season, for us... so we can’t help being a little melancholy, as we belt out the lyrics to New York, New York. This is it. Game On! “Start spreading the news”… “ To the VICTOR go the spoils“… to the LOSER… there’s always Horse Racing next year.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

OPEN OR CLOSED

As a young child my bedroom door was always shut tight. I could make a tent out of my sheets, hide inside and read books by flashlight, after dark. I could play dress-up with the clothes in my dresser. I could dance or lip-sync to the music blaring from my blue and white record player. I could watch the orioles and robins gather outside, my window. After I had gone to bed for the night… if I heard my parents talking… I could scramble out of bed, tiptoe across the cold hardwood floor and put my ear up against the great big door. Like a giant amplifier, the door seemed to echo their muffled conversations, so I could catch a word or two. When I got bored listening, I’d head back to bed, to sleep. The room was my sanctuary, comfy and cozy. But the reason why, was the door… it sealed me off from the outside world and allowed me to discover another one, where I ruled supreme. It stayed that way until I became an adult. Flash forward to the future. Things have changed. All grown up… I now sleep with the bedroom door wide OPEN. Keeping the door open allows me to breathe easier at night. Shutting it makes me feel claustrophobic. I don't know why? Maybe because it acts as a barrier. Or because it's so soundproof, you can't hear anything, outside the room. Curious how my perception has changed about that. Don't get me wrong...  I love my bedroom... but I just don’t want to be locked away from the rest of my house. As I've aged, the house as a whole, has become my new sanctuary, not just one room.  Several years ago… following an operation on my knees, I was forced to keep the bedroom door shut, so my cats would not bother me in bed, as I recovered. It was heart wrenching for them and me. UPSET by the IMMOVABLE object in their way, they scratched at the door, tore up the hall carpet and cried all night… making me feel worse than the pain from my surgery, or the knot in the pit of my stomach, from the room closing in on me. We got through it, but it was tough. I don’t want a repeat of that happening, no matter what shape I’m in.  I appreciate the fact that some doors must be closed for security or privacy. But as long as it’s just the hubby, the cats and I… this is an open and shut case. The bedroom door remains open. How about you… do you sleep with your bedroom doors open or closed?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

EVERYTHING CHANGES

Four months ago, I became the facilitator to a support group I attend with my daughter. We meet every Wednesday evening at the hospital for about an hour. It gets us out of the house and gets us talking about our problems. I got the job because the lady running the group, quit. She found it too time consuming, and it was interfering with her real job. She had only been there six or seven months herself… (the facilitator before her, had a nervous breakdown.) I’m not sure why, but I offered to step in and take the reins. Shortly after I stepped into her shoes, I began to understand her dilemma. It is an overwhelming responsibility, to be in charge. There is so much to do, to take care of business. Emails to answer, ads to place, phone calls to decipher, brochures to gather, handouts to copy, etc. Plus all the time it takes to do these things. Each week is a crapshoot. There is no way to determine who will show up and who won’t. Sometimes we have a full house and other times, less than a handful. Building attendance has been a BIG problem. It’s easy to get discouraged when you show up each week, but nobody else does. Sometimes when people, show up, they want to talk and things just naturally flow, throughout the course of a meeting. Other times, my job to MOVE the meeting along... becomes very necessary. I try to incorporate stories from the national and local news, along with information from the Internet, to spark conversation. Some nights it works and some nights it doesn’t. When things are moving slow as molasses... and the hour seems longer than a day, I want to pull my hair out. I can’t force these people to share, if they don’t want to. But without their input, we have no meeting. So… I’ve found, by offering to end the meeting early, they either agree to say goodnight, sooner than intended... or the conversation usually picks up again. When a session goes well… I can see the appreciation in folk’s eyes. And I’m humbled by the notion… I’m helping, just a little. Unfortunately, things went terribly wrong, last night. A random incident changed everything. Because of confidentiality, I can’t go into details here. But generally speaking, someone had a meltdown and became threatening. It was frightening. I handled it as well as I could, given the circumstances. But since I can’t control who is permitted to attend the meetings... the fear is, something like this, could happen again. To be frank, I don’t get paid for this gig and it isn’t worth risking my life, or the lives of others. I don’t want the emotions it triggered in everyone there, to resurface on another night. And the hospital doesn’t want to be liable. So… with a heavy heart and the hospital’s encouragement, the group will be disbanded. I am devastated for all who participated. I’ll miss the regulars and the free valet parking… but to tell you the truth... I'm happy to be retired once again.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

LINKLETTER MOMENTS

 Our family is proud. The granddaughter… complete with PURPLE gown, cap and tassel… marched up the aisle and collected her 2010 diploma, graduating from PRESCHOOL, this week. It was a tender moment filled with tears and smiles. The ceremony held all the 'Pomp and Circumstance' of an older crowd, and went off without a hitch… unless you want to count all the shout-outs, and waves, from the kids on the stage… to moms, dads, and grandparents, in the audience.
 
Before the event… on the big screen in the auditorium, the Preschool played a montage of magic moments from the past year. In it, teachers asked each student, now that they were heading off to kindergarten… what they wanted to be when they GREW up? With serious conviction each stated their goals. Their answers were typical Linkletter folly. Some just wanted to go to kindergarten. There was the little boy who wanted to play baseball, forever, for the high school team. Another boy… wanted to become a TRANSFORMER, because of the movie. One girl wanted to work where her mommy worked. Another wanted to be a mommy. I LIKED that one. It’s a noble profession, if I do say so myself. There were an endless array of children that wanted to be firefighters. When asked what their job would entail… they answered, simply… “To BURN down buildings.” A few wanted to be scientists or doctors, so they could help people. Others wanted to be teachers. One or two superheroes emerged. And then there was the little girl who stated unequivocally, she wanted to be a MERMAID… the reason why… because mermaids get to SWIM.
 Curious what my granddaughter was going to say, I anxiously waited for her response. The teacher asked, and she said, “A cop. I want to be a cop.” I gasped. This came as a BIG surprise to me. It’s going to take grandma a while, to wrap her head around this one. I NEVER want to see that precious child, in the line of fire. Of course, I’ll love her whatever, she decides to be, in the next eighteen, or so years. But.. I’m betting she changes her mind, sooner, rather than later. Especially, because the follow-up question to her was, “What do cops do?” My granddaughter just sat there, looking kind of puzzled, with no response. Bad guys – Beware! With a little coaxing, she figured it out.