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Not too many years ago we had a huge snowstorm on this very day. The ultimate April Fool's joke. It was a great time for kids, no school, one last chance to use the sled they'd gotten for Christmas, and for the adults, a chance to really see what part of town the politicians lived in, as evidenced by the snow removal patterns. Most of us were left to shovel out as well as we could since the snow removal budget was long spent, but not our elected officials, they got plows, sand, and salt. I guess it's a perk.
My kids are counting down the days until we go to that paragon of childhood fantasy: DisneyWorld. My in-laws received a small settlement in a case and decided to take themselves, their only two grandchildren and the grandchildren's parents (hubby and me) on vacation. So, in just 12 days we're jetting to Orlando for a whirlwind tour of Disneymania. We arrive late afternoon Sunday and depart early Friday morning (screwy hours due to last minute planning by the mother-in-law) leaving us a mere ninety-six hours to see all the Mouse can conjure up. The kids are too excited to function.
One of our cars failed the state emissions inspection today. It needed a new muffler. No big deal. It also needed a set of pipes which attach to the muffler. Bigger deal. Every time we go on vacation something in our house or car breaks down irreparably and needs to be replaced. New exhaust system: four hundred fifty-five dollars and a side note saying that while the car now passes inspection, it may need a catalytic converter soon. Great. Add that to the list of things to deal with later. Auto mechanics must be the biggest leaches on the planet.
Spring is returning. In our yard, the daffodils and tulips are pushing their vibrant heads towards the sky and drinking in the warmth of the sun while the hyacinth, not yet blooming, is stretching its emerald leaves. A snow shovel leans dejectedly on a fence. In the park, dandelions litter the outfield of the baseball diamond while fresh chalk lines slice the lush green grass. Children swing and slide and climb, their lazy winter muscles remembering the jump rope songs and falling into a natural rhythm. Birds sing and dogs frolic; even in this urban area the rebirth is felt.
Today I find joy in a simple cup of tea. Boiling water, a mug and a tea bag, some sugar and a splash of milk. Nothing fancy, no infusers, no bone china cups, no herbals, no accoutrements. Just a steaming hot cup of tea, a quiet house, no pressing appointments or errands to run. Every day should have a few moments like this. Fifteen minutes of peace can be refreshing, inspiring, invigorating, and relaxing. Tea calms, coffee awakens, tea winds down, coffee winds up, tea says slow down, coffee says hurry up. Tea is the ahhhhhh, coffee is the ughhhhh.
This afternoon was spent at a birthday party for my daughter's friend. The party was held at a local indoor swimming pool and was attended by 16 kids, mostly girls and a few boys. At six years old, they are not self conscious enough to care who sees them in a bathing suit, whether they say the right thing or speak to the right people. There is no ridicule of those who can't swim as well, there is no poking fun if someone feels safer just sitting on the edge. These days are numbered. Soon they'll become aware of themselves.
Every day that passes brings more ugliness. The child abuse scandal in the church is rocking Boston daily with new allegations, revelations, denials and condemnations. The Cardinal is looking more sinister every day. He has no credibility, no integrity, no shred of decency left. He has proven through his words an actions that the maintenance of the church's hierarchy is more important that the protection of children or the prosecution of criminals. This man KNEW of the abuses in the instances of several priests and did NOTHING but shuttled them through from parish to parish. There must be justice done.
Hollow words, empty sentiments. Why doesn't he just shut up? Too little and far too late for most people, including myself. Cardinal Law has never come to the church I grew up in to apologize for sending John Geoghan, known pedophile and child molester, to the parish. I doubt he ever will. He goes to his little pockets of support and preaches his sorry litany of apologies and mea culpas but doesn't dare venture into the parishes he harmed the most deeply and permanently with his inactions. He hides behind his mitre and chasuble and bows his head down low.
Its strange how we can associate smells with one particular thing. For example, the smell of horses always reminds me of my grandparents house which bordered a farm. No matter what context I see horses in, whether it's a circus or a police horse manning a parade route in the middle of the city, it conjures up my grandparents' house in my mind. Baking bread, no matter what kind, takes me right back to my other grandmother's cozy kitchen. She always baked bread in the winter and I can still taste it though she's been dead nearly 5 years now.
How can you have an entire load of black laundry my mother-in-law asks one day as we pass in the cellar where the washing machines and dryers are. I never gave it much thought, though anyone who knows me, knows I wear black a lot, frequently, okay pretty much daily. Why? I don't know. It's easy to match with? I'm too lazy to coordinate? I hate bright colors? It hides dirt and other kid hazards well? I'm in mourning? I don't know I just like it. If you wash black clothes inside out, in cold water, they stay blacker longer.
Did you ever find a good pen? Not necessarily an expensive pen, though there is nothing like writing with one of those, a Waterman fountain pen is the epitome of elegance, but I digress. Did you ever find a good pen? A nice weight, smooth flowing, non-clumping ordinary ball point pen. The kind that makes it easy to just write and write and write and not have to worry about blobs and blots all over the paper. Just a nice pen that functions as a pen should. A simple well constructed instrument, not fancy or special just decent and efficient.
I'm in a fog. Words, sense, sentences aren't happening. I think I've caught a bit of the kids' excitement, coupled with trying to get all the details in place, pack the clothes and toiletries, arrangements at the kennel for the dog and cat, park passes, transportation to the airport, have the mail held at the post office, it's an endless list of chores. Observations on life or reflections on the ordinary are not forthcoming. My mind is weary of keeping track of it all. I'm rambling, a habit I detest in others and try to avoid. So I'll shut up now.
The anticipation is palpable. The kids are restless and unable to sleep. Tomorrow we depart for Florida. They've packed their bags with books and crayons to pass the time on the plane. They've counted their carefully saved cash reserves and they've offered to do small chores to make another dollar or two. They've laid out their clothes and shoes, taken baths and brushed their teeth. They can talk of nothing but the Tower of Terror, Space Mountain and who is tall enough to ride what. We've read stories and listened to the radio -- Radio Disney, sleep still eludes them.
I hate the airlines. You'd think after the travel panic following September 11, they'd try to be punctual, courteous, attentive or maybe just civil. But no. First our flight gets bumped up three hours, then after getting to the airport the requested two hours in advance, our flight is delayed an additional hour. The first leg is uneventful but we have a three hour stopover before the second leg. We finally arrive at our destination and despite leaving three hours earlier than originally scheduled, we're still twenty minutes later than our original plan. An inauspicious beginning, I hope it improves.
Walt Disney was a genius. His films are legendary. His artwork is known worldwide. But, he was a fucking genius because he was the mastermind behind the theme park and corporate whoring. Today brought us to The Magic Kingdom in Florida, the epicenter of merchandising and name exploitation. Disney's characters emblazon everything from shirts to mugs, paper cups, baseball hats, shot glasses, shoelaces, pens, everything. The temperatures were high, the prices were astronomical, the lines were long, the employees were so saccharine sweet it was nauseating. They end every conversation, no matter how trivial with "Have a Magical Day!" Puke.
Another trip into corporate prostitution. This time it was Disney/MGM Studios. This place was more older kid or adult themed and wasn't half as vomit inducing as yesterday's adventure. We rode the obligatory Tower of Terror, which I found amusing and virtually everyone else found scary. The highlight of the day was the Lion King Festival, a live action show featuring dancers and acrobats in minimalist abstract costumes. The low point, rain! It only last about twenty minutes but the proliferation of Disney rain gear was staggering. Best event: Fantasmic! a laser and film show projected onto walls of water.
Animal Kingdom. Over hyped and over advertised as the hands down best animal park ever; a lofty and misplaced assertion. The safari ride was just okay and the animal trek was disappointing. As I should have anticipated, animals hate the heat as much as people. Most of them sought refuge under trees, behind rocks and out of sight. My husband and son ventured into DinoLand, a trip back in time to the Jurassic era -- yeah, great, that one broke down one minute into the ride trapping them for fifteen minutes in front of a charging animatronic stegasaurus. Next stop!
Last day, Epcot. When I was last here, 23 years ago, they were just framing the big silver ball. Now, the big silver ball houses a space ride, inside, air conditioned and out of the blazing sun. The high point of this trip is the world wide tour where one can walk through the marketplaces of China, Japan, England, France, Germany, Morocco, Italy and Mexico and sample the architecture, food, beer, wine, and shopping wares from each area of the world. My kids loved this place. Hopefully, someday, we can take them to see the real capitals of the world.
Homeward bound. More airline hassles, more delays, more hostile people: airline employees and customers as well. I hate humans sometimes. Rude, pushy, miserable, selfish creatures. Sigh. Arrive home an hour later than planned, wait forever for a taxi, rush to pick up family dog and cat at the kennel. Then the fun part: four or five loads of laundry and a trip to the market to pick up essentials! Finally, it's done, or as done as it's getting and I crash into bed for the first decent night's sleep I've had in a week. Its good to be home again.
Observations on Florida, or at least on the Disneyized Orlando area. First it's too hot. Its only April and it was in the high 80s and humid every day. For this northern girl, that's simply too much. Second, it's too crowded. There are far too many people in too small an area. Third, there are an inordinate amount of obese fat people who utilize the rentable electric scooters at the theme parks. There is nothing wrong with most of these people except that they are disgustingly overweight and unable to lug their own body around without assistance. End of rant.
The owl and the pussy cat went to sea in a beautiful pea green boat ? I loved that story as a child. On a street near my house were some old scraggly trees with roots that cracked through the sidewalk. They had stood in place longer than the sidewalk or the street and probably even most of the town. My grandmother told me those were bong trees, like in the story. They were my magical bong trees, gnarled and knotted like my grandmother's strong hands. Twenty years ago they felled the bong trees to clear the area for condos
Each day I watch him amble from car to car, a raggedy sign spelling out his story. Stranded and homeless and hungry. His clothes are shabby but clean and his face weathered by a life which has not been kind. Whether fate or his own foolishness has brought him to this point, I can't say. His is an old soul who has endured more than a soul ought to in thirty or so years. He is increasingly thinner with each passing week. A walking shadow, a living ghost. One day he isn't there and I know he won't be back.
Sometimes she just watches him sleep. She aches to clasp him to herself and draw him forth, knowing he will surrender to her desire, yet she only gently caresses his strong shoulder, the small pot belly, a tradeoff acquired when he quit smoking, the soft hair on his chest. She can feel his heart beat under her hand and the rhythmic rise and fall of his breathing. She will kiss that firm line of his vertebrae and nestle herself against his back and legs. She will not wake him. She will join him in his slumber. They will awaken refreshed.
Something inside me is heavy today. Not crushing, not anguished, just heavy and tinged with sadness. My grandmother's death five years ago always stings a little, even now. She and my grandfather had eight children and when the youngest was not quite five, he was killed in an explosion aboard a navy ship. She met and married a man a few years later. For a while she was happy again but he was an alcoholic and eventually his demons got the better of him and they divorced. She was a single mother before it was fashionable. She was my friend.
The catholic church has finally offended me to the core. I've had issues with them and their draconian methods for years, but this latest abomination is beyond outrageous. Their unwillingness to seize control of the loose cannons within their own ranks and their blatant comments stating so are offensive to me as a woman, a mother and human being. These alleged men of God have forgotten the smallest members of the church that they pledged their lives to in favor of maintaining their own corrupt and largely impotent positions complete with pomp, silly hats and pageantry. Their blindness is corrosive.
Your disappointments crush me and your lack of self-confidence breaks my heart. I wonder where it comes from and how I can make you see yourself the way I see you. I know you are bright, intelligent, curious and questioning. I know your body language often belies your frustration with stupidity and politics. I know your occasional apathy stems from the same source. I also know that you are too smart and that scares the shit out of them. I'm angry with them for weak excuses and limp management skills. Corporate impotence infuriates me. I hope it stirs you up.
Stupid car. As predicted our schlep luck has struck again. Automobile needs a new catalytic converter. Manufacturers brand, nine hundred dollars, after market generic brand, two hundred fifty dollars. No brainer there. The part is now on order, hopefully, including labor and other piddling fees, the total will be under six hundred. If so, stupid vehicle will cost just over one thousand dollars this month. Just what we need after taking a vacation. Murphy's Law, (whatever can go wrong will, and at the worst possible moment), you'd think marrying out of that name would render that law invalid. It doesn't.
Music is one of the greatest gifts in life. Whether your taste runs romantic or Ramones, music fills something inside and it influences how we feel. A song, a lyric or even just a riff can transport us to another place, or city, year or day. Music frames the moments of our lives like snapshots in the airwaves. Turn on the radio, scan the channels andrevisit the first movie you saw with a boy, your senior prom, your first car, your wedding day, yesterday and every other irrelevant yet important minute of your life comes surging back into your memory.
Thirty five years on the planet. No huge successes, but no huge failures either. Not exactly where I planned to be, but also, different and better than I'd hoped. Same husband for twelve years now (and still happily counting), two great kids -- a boy and a girl, a comfy part time job with great hours and long weekends and time to be there after school and for special events, parents are alive and well and of the non-interfering type, two sisters one far and one near but both close, a brother-in-law and two nephews to round out the picture.
Its been the subject of the month, but still, I can't let it go. They've reached a new low. Yesterday, Cardinal Law asserted in a legal brief that in at least one particular instance the victim (at the time a six year old boy) and his parents bore some responsibility for negligent behavior in the molestation charges being brought against the diocese. Yes, he claims, the child enticed the priest and the parents left the child in a circumstance where the actions were allowed to happen. Well done Cardinal Law, that's the way to win people back, blame the victim!
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