Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Emergency Auxiliary Services

Remember "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty?"  It was a short story published by James Thurber in 1939 and then turned into a movie with Danny Kaye in 1947.  It tells the tale of a regular Joe who spends his time daydreaming about an exciting alternate universe, full of danger and heroics and adventure.  He is not the boring old man who watches life from a desk chair, but the military general, the wrangler, the renegade.

If only.  I sometimes think that I am the Mrs. Walter Mitty.  If you could see what I have accomplished in my "other life," you would be duly impressed.

Today, the tornado sirens went off in our neighborhood for hours, starting at 8:00 a.m. While my kids were engaged in duck and cover at their schools and my friends were in their basements, I fearlessly kept typing away on my computer, taking calls from my boss.

Boss: How's the weather your way?
Me: Well, the sirens are going off.  But I'm not scared.
Boss:  OK. So, getting back to this eblast ....

Courage! And yet, no tornado appeared.  My mettle was not tested by a flying house, and I did not get to save Oz.

Two days ago, my good friend and neighbor was lucky enough to be on the scene for a car fire.  Ah, how I wish it had been me!  She got the news of the fire, ran outside, triaged the situation and grabbed her fire extinguisher.  There she was, with a guy named Larry, squirting foam on an overheated van.  The drama!  The adrenaline!  She was even there for the fire trucks and big hose.

And I missed it.  No hero's parade or honorary badge for me.

One of my greatest regrets is not becoming a Police Woman of Atlanta.  I could do it, I know I could.  Never tell me no.  My college boyfriend told me I couldn't handle being sorority President, and so I didn't run, and guess where he is now?  Who knows, but I bet it is somewhere very, very bad.  And I am President of Something (truly, I am - visit MAT AWARDS).

But I never pursued the police business, because if I can't even watch a scary movie, how am I going to be a cop?  I once considered joining the Citizen's Police Academy, but I lazied out.  And then I was in the car last weekend with my daughter's new lacrosse coaches, and guess what?  One of them was in the POLICE RESERVES OF OHIO!  A volunteer police department where he got to go on foot chases and stake outs and make arrests and such.  I practically salivated over his stories.

Sigh.  What is it that appeals to me about natural disasters and violent crimes?  What is in my nature that is itching to get out and save the world?  Like poor Walter Mitty, I can't pull the trigger, and am  left with only my dreams.

This won't stop me from always being on high alert.  Like the Bloodhound Gang from 3-2-1 Contact (google it pre-70's babies) or Dr. Who, I am always ready for adventure.  Always available to call 911.  Because they know me.

So into the blind wild I go ... hoping for a big moment, just like Walter.

“No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

Until next time, keep crowin' and looking for trouble!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Upside Down Frowns

My friends and I are at an age where sometimes the roof caves in - we have personal health decisions to make or a parent suddenly needs our care or a friend hits the wall and needs help getting back up.  Several of my friends in the neighborhood are dealing with such things, and I struggle with how to help.  Of course, a listening ear, a home-cooked meal, or childcare is always on the list.

But, since laughter is apparently the best medicine, I would like to offer some things that have made me happy.  Maybe they won't elicit a smile at first, but when someone needs to lighten the darkness, I hope they'll bookmark these gems.

When you are having a bad day, a clever prank can chase the clouds away, and freak some people out in a funny way:

Need inspiration?  How about one of those unexpected, amazing reality show auditions, where the human spirit triumphs:

And, I'm sorry, but if Ellen Degeneres doesn't do it for you, then I'm out of tricks: 

That's it, that's all I've got today.  Sometimes - all the time - life is about the people around you, and finding a way to be a blessing where one is needed.  I hope that when the people in my life hit hard times, they know they can count on me.

Until next time, keep crowin'!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Nu Beta

Happy New Year!  I'm a bit late with these greetings because I have been as sick as a dog for the last week.  It has circulated around my family since December 21, and now, on January 8, we are still sniffling and hacking.

And while Christmas itself may have been a germ fest, luckily we were all well enough for a big trip we had planned for New Year's.  We took four neighborhood families for four days to my parents' mountain house in North Carolina. 

It was refugee-style living as we put each family unit into a bedroom and left them to their own devices.  There were children in closets, mamas on the floor, and lots of overlap on the sofa.

The trip itinerary included skiing and tubing.  Now, there are two things my friends learned about me on this trip. 

1.  I don't liked to be touched.
2.  I am afraid of heights.

I overcame the close quarters because we were with such jovial company.  The heights, thing, however, was another story.

On the day of skiing, I rode with the pack to the lodge.  I filled out the waiver and got my boots on.  I walked to the bucket and got my poles.  And then I stood, ski's in hand, and watched all of the children, ages 3-13, take the beginner class.  My compadres, however, jumped on the lift and started their day of flying down the mountain. 

As the sun hit mid-sky, I summoned up my courage and took the ramp up the bunny slope.  Time to face the demon.  I slowly shuffled my way over to a quiet patch, and looked in the belly of the beast.  Several times before, beginning in high school, I had put on those death shoes and debated the pros and cons of going down ice on a toothpick, but never had I actually taken the plunge.  And I was still wearing the yellow ski jacket that I had in high school, albeit a little snug and out-dated now, which had never felt the rush of wind across its sleeves.

On this day, I tried a little sideways trial run at the top of the hill, and after encouragement from the children and my husband, and with a very deep breath, I took off my skis and headed back down the hill.

No way, José.

Just ain't going to happen.  And my friends made it OK.  They asked me if I was good, if all was well, and then they acted like this little phobia thing was no big deal.

The touching thing, however, they had a ball with.  They decided to apply pressure treatments on a regular basis, and would sit on me or give me big hugs or squeeze my toes.  And then there was the farting.  Lots of gas encroached upon my personal space on this trip, but I won't name names.

Because when you are in a fraternity of brothers, you don't rat anyone out.  You don't post on Facebook the photo of a skinny man in a jock strap or tell people who burped like a sailor.  You have secret handshakes and passwords, and you help each other's kids get breakfast.  And you pretend not to notice each other's crazy parts.

It was one of those trips that could have gone sour very quickly, 17 men, women and children in a small space.  But it didn't.  It actually went incredibly well, and we all kept marvelling at that fact.

You see, I live in a neighborhood that has become an exception to any rule.  We have made so many friends with other couples, and our kids count their best friends among the cul-de-sacs.  It is stronger than any college sorority, and as wild as any fraternity.  I call us Nu Beta, which pays homage to our neighborhood initials.

All are welcome. We hold rush each summer poolside, and if you can handle sangria in the daytime and enjoy dancing to hip-hop on weekends, you could be our next pledge.  So brush up on your card games and come on by.

Until next time, keep crowin'!