Not end well...
Smiles. We have been talking about smiles lately...as least I have. And the importance of a smile a day to keep the bogey-man away.
Well. Then there is this. You know I am honest. You know that I try to make you smile. To help you take a break from the zombie apocalypse. It is Halloween Season after all. The hour of Trick Or Treat is upon us. When tiny tots emerge as Ernie, or Ariel or as Dora, the fiendish troublemaker in Nemo. Knock knock. Who’s there...ooh, we say...aww...how sweet...how about a little treat?
However, these days, some folk seem to think that Halloween is celebrated EVERY day and they prank and trick and scare us all. Who are these nut cases dressed up in costumes scaring us all to death? Clowns roaming the streets in France. Sesame Street characters parading through NYC. It is difficult to separate reality from fiction. A trick on us for sure, and surely not a TREAT. Shame on you. Grown ups are supposed to shine a light on the path, keep the children from harm, and wait patiently on the sidewalk. And no sir, I may need glasses, but the beer can in your hand does not remotely resemble a UNICEF can, and no I do not have any spare change.
But I am here. I am here to help you stay the course. To keep your head in the right space. The right place. Where reality meets Never Ever Ever Land.
And I Never Ever Ever....
...can understand why, when I do something truly technologically brilliant, I end up in the middle of a police bust.
This is a true story.
The names have been changed to protect the innocent.
The innocent would be ME and I cannot change my name, but I can tell you that if I was wearing my yellow wellies...I might have known better. Might have missed all the excitement. But as a true and accurate reporter, I must heretofore offer you the exact, true to life, Who and What and Where and When.
I have a new phone. I have limited usage...limited options...because I know better. I know that the more options, the more I am able to get myself in trouble. And if I limit my own limitations, I keep myself and YOU much much safer. So consider this a PDA...a Public Display of Affection. Do Not Do What I Do. Learn people, learn from my mistakes. The error of my ways.
All I wanted to do was to Show Off. To be a Technological Up-To-Date Whiz Kid. I wanted to send a photo with my text message. I am embarrassingly emotional with emoticons, possess oppositionally defiant opposable thumbs and tend to omit my SELF from my Selfies.
So there I sat, in the parking lot of the Quik Trip this afternoon and lovingly, tenderly and with a pure heart, tried to attach a photo to a text. A big jump into the deep end of the texting pool, for a Minnow like me. I sat quietly in my car, with the windows rolled up and donned my swimming goggles. My very yellow, very mellow Minnow Mermaid swimming goggles. I struck a pose, aimed my phone at my face, and took a magnificent shot of the gas pump.
All right then. Let's do that again.
Goggles. Yes. Camera Ready. Yup.
Click. Click. Click.
Ha! Got it. Well, not GREAT Ansel Adams picture perfect, but a reasonable facsimile of me.
Nope let’s see... compose message...add funny comment...attach photo...hit Send!
Success!! Yes. Yes. Yes. I am a yellow goggled synchronized text and attachment sender. I have done swimmingly, so to speak.
I look up. Smile into the rearview mirror ready to give my very solitary and successful self a webbed swim glove high five...and instead...the flash of red lights...the Woo Woo Woo of sirens closing in...not one Patrol Car but seven...the Canine Unit on the ground... prowling dogs straining against their leashes for the scent of a perp.
Ask yourself, as I did, WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?
It was just a test...a texting test...an Emergency Broadcast Test of the Texting System. The National Everybody Knows More Than Me Texting Test.
And now...Oh No! I am surrounded by police cars. And I am sitting in my car in the Quik Trip parking lot wearing goggles. Yellow neon colored goggles in the middle of the day.
I throw up my gloved hands in surrender.
I resolve NEVER to do it again.
I am innocent.
I was just Trying.
Trying to be Technologically Gifted.
To be hip. To be cool.
And now I am going to be arrested.
An arresting development.
Oh dear me. O what have I done?
A bank robber.
They are looking for a bank robber.
Down the street. A snatch and grab.
He wasn’t wearing yellow neon swim goggles.
He was just looking for CASH.
They are not looking for ME.
They are looking for HIM !
Time to slowly put down the goggles and to back away....
Just back away....
Back away from the photos and the texting and the....
Maybe I should put my arms down...
Maybe I should rethink the surrender scenario and just go...
Pride surely doeth goeth before a Fall...
And I have fallen...and escaped...
Just in the nick of time...
Before I got nicked...
For wearing yellow goggles in the middle of the Quik Trip parking lot...
I am not a Perp. I am a PERPetual over-my-head-out-of-my-depth-in-need-of-water-wings-to-keep-from-going-under, rotary phone afficionado sculling into the rising tide of technology.
So I bury my goggles in my gym bag, throw the car in reverse and back away slowly before the dogs get a whiff of the scent of an elderly not so proficient textee and sink their teeth into my thigh...
Are you smiling yet?
Giggling at my expense?
Well you should be, ‘cause I was.
The Minnow is Free!
And no one needs to know...
I...I am the Minnow...and outside the pool a complete and total innocent...
Emoticonally challenged and lacking the oppositional thumbs to text.
However, as I head for home, my fertile imagination generates what could have would have might have been....
This Halloween I think I will slowly back away from the phone,
turn off the porch light and hide in the bathroom...
Just in case the SWAT team turns up.
I know...I tried.
We older folks simply feel better,
when we have a firm grip on the world around us.
Thursday, October 16, 2014
Little Comic Relief
For A Very Serious World...
Thank you Jim Gaffigan. Thank you for the belly jiggling snort inducing hold your sides until you hurt laughter. I needed that. We all need that. An intravenous fast and furious log in transfusion of our sense of humor. A reminder that a smile requires less muscles for those of us who avoid the stair master and can barely find the energy to turn the page, to hush up, or to remember that life has two sides.
Positive and negative.
If you have not met Jim Gaffigan, let me introduce you. We met on Comedy Central during a trial run on Sirius Radio in my car on the road to endless errands on a boring afternoon, when I lost my way in the new super screen full of instructions and supposedly easy one touch unexplored new vistas accompanied by a woman named Siri. Siri and I have never met, but her voice creeps me out and I prefer to choose my own forms of entertainment, so I punched in and there he was...in the middle of a monologue on dessert and we instantly bonded. Right there, in the car, my private space, my sole place to be myself. To pick my nose or eat handfuls of M&M’s and no one the wiser. Instead, there I sat, with my driver’s side heater warming my buns, a slight blip in screen choices, but oh so perfect as Jim’s voice entered my head and did me good...sooo good.
I laughed out loud.
He saved me. Jim Gaffigan saved me. From the man in the tan SUV who veered back and forth across the double line, who I approached gently in my lane, only to see him texting with one hand and smoking a cigarette in the other. Neither hand on the wheel. The driver behind him honked, and this ambidextrous fool managed to give him the only non-engaged finger he managed to free up while fluidly texting and flipping ashes out the window.
Enough. I muttered to myself. Enough. Bad news. On each and every station on the radio...on the TV...on the Internet...over and over and over and enough and enough and enough. And now this mad man weaving in and out of my life, a dangerous real life risk in a world filled with real life really close by oh my oh my oh my risky day after day after day disaster.
And then there was Jim.
I forgot. How to smile. How to laugh. Not at others but at the simplest laughable highly comical indisputable snorting milk out of each nostril nonsense. The funniness of every day, day to day, moment by moment side splitting silliness. The human condition. The hysterical human condition that marks us all as the punch line to a joke. This is lunchroom comedy. Remember how you laughed with your friends in the cafeteria over absolutely nothing or in the middle of a chemistry class, when you couldn’t straighten up, let alone answer intelligently on any subject because you could barely catch your breath?
This. This is Jim Gaffigan.
At least for me. Maybe not for you.
I won’t link to his You Tube videos out of respect for his hard earned efforts. But you should.
Or buy his book....My Dad Is Fat
Or his latest prose...Food:A Love Story
Because we all need a laugh and we need a laugh that is not at someone else’s expense.
Clean. Family. Funny. Oh so funny ha ha ha ha ha tee hee hees.
Or maybe you have your own giggle box.
Your favorite jokester, comedianne,
Perhaps a child. a niece, a nephew, a neighbor, a student, grandchild... perhaps you are just sitting one day at a table eating some kale fries or something, poor you, vastly more healthy but ick, and the timbre of the air is fractured by the ting ting a ling...the laughter of a child nearby, an uninhibited rollicking rock and rolling gigglefest...and without thought or reason you smile along in a silly simulation...and your world is for once at peace.
Jim. James. Better, Mr. Gaffigan, sir, as we have never met, is a parent like me. A father of five. And it is from this mundane day to day nary a full night’s sleep environs, that he paints on his artist’s canvass with the same pure honesty and spirit as if finger painting in chocolate pudding, then licking his fingers with a smudge of chocolate on his chin and a grin. A sweet sweet treat of comic relief with which no OTC painkiller can compete.
The laughter man cometh.
As a former schoolteacher, and having deep respect for the hard bone crushing efforts of artists everywhere, coveted by others, copied by some, I swear to you that this an endorsement of the highest level, and definitely not paid. Let’s just think of it as a sharing of a smile.
For what Jim has is the gift of child sight. The unequivocal and very vocal truths children utter at the top of their lungs in a crowded restaurant, that knock parents to their knees, and leave the rest of the customers in a smothered fit of hysteria.
I know. I have it too.
It never happens out of our sight line, but rather, on the drive home from soccer practice or in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner with unruly and somber distant relatives pointing out the lumps in your gravy with their supercilious tones and the tines of your Great Aunt Sylvia’s hand me down forks.
For me, one afternoon, driving home from soccer practice, my son asked innocently. “Mom, what is a fake orgasm?”
Like the man I met on the road this morning, and with considerably less dexterity, I swerved into a parking lot and calmly met his gaze.
That’s it. One word. Parent Rule #1...always wait for more information before answering a leading question.
He asked me again. Same question. No explanation. So I did the right thing. I carefully and anatomically correctly answered and collapsed with my forehead resting on the steering wheel.
Timing In Comedy Is Everything.
He looked at me and as if my biology made no sense to his naive little brain... asked one more time...”But why Mom? Why would she, the operative word she, do it?”
Before I could answer, his younger brother, nose buried in a book, being what I thought was much younger and much more oblivious to the discussion at hand, looked up and our eyes locked in the rearview mirror. He laid one hand on his brother’s shoulder, glanced at me and replied...
“To please her mate.”
I wish I could tell you what happened after that, but I honestly think I fainted.
The point is, at the moment, not funny at all, but in hindsight, even as I relate it to you now, I can barely type as I am still grinning and holding my sides.
Mr. Gaffigan makes it look so easy, standing up there on the stage, the corners of his mouth already winding up for the first pitch, and then bam! he connects with his audience, because they too, whether they would ever admit it or not, have child sight.
The punchline here, is that we all have child sight, for we were once children, and wherever we go and whatever we do, the children will always find their way home. To the heart of the matter. To us.
For your sake and mine..
I hope you are much better at explaining than I am.
In the meantime, keep your hands on the steering wheel, your eyes on the road, and the child in you, alive and well...
Child Sight Is 20/20
Friday, October 3, 2014
Snap! The sound of my single solitary solo still firing neuron. It is wrapped in gauze, sprayed with healing aloe, surrounded by a barbed wire fence with sentries on twenty-four watch. I could say in a cliche'd way, that you are on my last nerve, but the truth is I will not let you or any other interloper near it.
Because I am a survivor of a four week ride in a bucket of bolts,
a junker, a rattletrap wreck which will now and forever more be remembered as...
The Albino Turd
I struggled to come up with words to describe this hard fought journey, but frayed nerves led me to sleepless nights, gnawed fingernails, and rather unnatural keening noises. The neurons in my addled brain and damaged psyche led me to some distant rarely accessed chat room in the bottom drawer of a file cabinet in the basement storage unit in the flashbulb memory department under the heading “useless but retrievable data”.
Thus. One single thought. One memory flash.
The Albino Turd. The pinpointedly accurate nickname of a four wheel wreck of a car, a friend in college drove, pushed, repaired and dragged over four years to cross the finish line at graduation.Of nondescript color and a foul smelling interior no dinky pine tree deodorizer hanging from the rear view mirror could dispel, the Albino Turd was unreliable, often in need of repair, overlooked by thieves and reviled by passersby. It did, however, like the turtle in the race with the hare, cough and sputter and crawl to win the race.
As I have been told, over and over again, key words and meta tags are essential in driving a website forward. True.
So here are my key words for this blog right up front and in bold lettering.
When one is on life support and in need of repair, technical support is the lifeline we all reach for. Well that, and perhaps a stiff drink or two or three. Although, doctors and healers tend to frown on dirty martinis free flowing through the IV in an emergency.
Technical support is NOT a seventeen page menu of options and numbers which lead you to another menu of options until the battery on your phone runs dry.
Technical support is NOT possible if there is a language barrier. Support is a two way conversation. It requires patient listening and the conscious desire to be of help to the person who is yearning for it. Help me please. Something is broken and I cannot fix it on my own. Yes I have read the manual, followed the directions, waited on hold for ten, fifteen, twenty minutes. But there is still a spinning whirling dervish in front of my face and...please hold for the next available...another neuron bites the dust as the connection is dropped.
Technical Support is NOT practical when the technician speaks in thirty second geek bytes, then sighs when you ask for a repeat.
And Technical Support is NOT a please help me email, or text or call that is never answered, returned or acknowledged. When invited to a conversation it is kinder to RSVP you are not coming ever ever ever, than to just not SHOW UP, ever ever ever.
Once upon a time, in a blog long ago, I told you that my father, clad in his one and only ripped-at-the-knee suit pants, gathered me close, after my mother sewed on a patch and said...everything in this world, my love, can be mended. Everything.
So I come to you now, to tell you what True Technical Support Is.
In the past four weeks, I have spent forty-seven hours (yes, I kept track) with True Technical Support. Shawn, Isobel, Eric and Daniel. Stephan and Patrick. One on one, step by step, patient, uninterrupted conversation. Giving me time to slow down, and time to catch up. Teaching me, guiding me through the steps back to wellness. They supported me. Me.
How do I know?
Because in the midst of hours of trial and error and try try try, oh man I want to cry, they said these actual words...
Don’t worry. I won’t leave you till we get this fixed.
There is an answer. We just haven’t found it yet. So let’s keep looking.
I know it’s 10PM and you must be tired and I should stop because TECHNICALLY we close down at 10PM, but what do you say we give it one more half hour.
We have to wipe it all clean and start over one application at a time. Are you ready to take a chance of losing it all, with the hope that if we take that risk we can build it back up better than ever?
So I took the risk. And lost everything. And went to bed in tears. Knowing in my heart that no one was really going to call me back. I patted my Albino Turd of a computer, pulled the plug and cried myself to sleep.
But the next day, I called back, and there they were...waiting for my call and ready to try again.
Then finally a face to face, one on one, fine tuning event lasting two hours and ending with a round of Genius High Fives and grins all around. The color returned to the screen and to my face, and the stench of doom and gloom, replaced with the sweet smell of success.
Tender Loving Care
Morale Building Support is good for business.
A Rescue Remedy. An Over the Counter encounter with dinged up, slightly dented, bumped and bruised, hanging by a thread, on the edge of the ledge, moment of care. A reminder that there is a neuron worth saving, a kind word worth saying and a thank you note in writing.
So, my friends, out there in the garden, I have missed being with you, but am so grateful for the opportunity to make new ones.
I asked last post, for a date with Han Solo, and ended up with Yoda, the Ewok Village, and the entire Star Wars Technical Team.
But I must be totally transparent, as the turning point, the moment I regained enough nerve endings to see clearly, even without my reading glasses, came in a galaxy quite near by.
In the midst of the throes of what I considered to be very personal anguish, a life threatening event, I ran head first into real life, real anguish and someone needing more than technical support. A young mother of three, her sweet head, hairless and uncovered, staring into the mirror of the Beauty Salon, her best friend, the owner, lovingly penciling in tiny sketches where her eyebrows should have been, and a touch of color to her chemo faded cheeks. Single mother of three. Breast cancer. Double mastectomy. Allergic reaction to chemo. Lost her job and her benefits last week.
Who does she call for technical support?
But there it was, all around her. The photographer leaned in to catch her in the most flattering light, and the stylists gathered round to put the finishing touches on a Facebook Page on her behalf. A contest to help with donations.
Extra Tender Loving Care.
It’s October. Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Everything can be mended, he said.
We won’t leave you till we get this fixed.