Friday, March 20, 2015

Gone to the Dogs

We are in our first year of high school lacrosse, and so some of the other JV moms and I have put together a carpool.  The other night I had driving duty, which entailed picking the girls up from practice, taking them to the team pasta dinner, and then bringing them home. The meal was at a varsity player's house, and several varsity moms were providing the food.  It's a fun, team-building event.

Anyway, as I drove from practice to the dinner, traffic was bumper to bumper.  I asked my daughter how long the dinner would last, because I really didn't want to get back in the soup if they planned to eat and run. She told me that I should leave and come back (of course) but ultimately, we compromised on me sitting in my car outside the house. This way, I was not imposing on the busy hosts, and I would not be late picking up.

We pulled up to the house and the girls jumped out.  I positioned my car in a good spot, rolled down the windows, and proceeded to wait.  Within minutes, I noticed a sweet, white Chihuahua running through the yard and out into the street, just as a large work van whizzed by.  I realized that there was no invisible fence, as the dog then left the yard and started trotting down the street.

I took a moment to assess the situation.  The dog seemed to be in mid-life, and may have been confused. With the girls going in and out of the gate of the back yard, it easily could have escaped undetected.  I then took another moment to grapple with the decision between saving the dog's life and embarrassing my daughter.

Morality prevailed, and I opened my car door and called to the dog.  Having recently watched a series of animal rescue videos on YouTube, I knew the proper way to earn his trust and calm any fears he might have about strangers.  It didn't take long, and I was pleased with my success.  I put the dog on my hip and carried him up to the front door.  And despite his short-lived freedom, I could tell he was happy to be going home too - he gave my face a few enthusiastic, wet puppy kisses.

I rang the bell and waited timidly - I am still getting to know these moms, and I knew they weren't expecting me.  As the hostess walked up and opened the door, I had trouble reading the look on her face.  Was it concern over her dog getting out?  Was it stress from the interruption of feeding a horde of hungry girls? Putting on a big smile, I brightly said in a sing song voice, "Did you lose your dog?"  :)

Her response cleared it up for me. "That's not my dog."

A deep abyss of mortification opened wide in front of me.  The aging family treasure I thought I had snatched from the vice grip of death suddenly morphed into a yellow-eyed, disease-ridden stray whose privates were rubbing up against my shirt.

"Oh. Whose dog is it?"
"I don't know. I think it lives in that cul-de-sac, but I am not sure.  It just runs around a lot."

Huh, look at that. The dog doesn't have a tag.

Returning to consciousness, I realized she was talking, "Well, I could bring it in the backyard, but my dog would go berserk."
"Um, I think I will just send it on its way."

And with that, I set the filthy mongrel down and turned to begin the long walk of shame back to my car. Clearly, I needed to burn my clothes and find a sanitizing station as soon as possible.

"Why don't you come in and eat?  We have plenty."

Knowing my fate as the team idiot was already sealed, I tucked tail and went inside, making a lame joke about seeing a raccoon that I could bring in as well.  All of the hostesses were perfectly lovely, but I knew I could never see any of them ever again.

Driving home, the girls found my story funny, and I believe my daughter felt so sorry for me that she forgave my breach of etiquette.  As for the little white devil, he better hope he never sees me again - I will go all Cruella de Vil on his @$$.

Until next time, keep crowin' and when in doubt, stay in the car!!!


Friday, March 13, 2015

And I Quote

In our house, we play a lot of sports.  There is always a practice or a game - I just sit in my car and wait for someone I know to get in.  And not only is it hectic, but it is demanding.  Both of my kids are now at a level of play where they are experiencing true competition, where coaches are no longer required to be fair, but to win. There is a constant pressure to earn your spot on your team over and over, and over, again.

In my day, sports didn't really gear up until high school - I don't remember locking in with an agent by 3rd grade.  But here we are, and there it is.

My kids have set goals and are working to achieve them.  And just like any other humans, they have good days and bad.  But every time they walk out the door, I like to arm them with the right words.

"The only person you should try to be better than is the person you were yesterday."
"Work until you no longer have to introduce yourself."
"Once in awhile, blow your own damn mind."

As the legend goes, when my Great Grandma was in her child-bearing years, she kept baby names in her apron pocket.  Every time she gave birth, she would pull a name out and bestow it upon her child.  They were excellent, hearty, full-bodied names, like Beulah Exolona and Ruby Leota.  In that spirit, I keep photos of Pinterest quotes on my smartphone, so that I am ready at a moment's notice to produce creative word genius.

Since we are in the height of their respective seasons, I have been flipping through my camera roll more than usual.  The challenge is, how to continue to provide fresh motivation to my kids on the sports roller coaster? What goes down must come up?  The only thing you have to fear is fear itself?  At least you didn't throw up?

I can't draw on my own athletic experience, because it consists of two middle school basketball practices and a single season of tennis my freshman year of high school.  I then succumbed to the asthma, at which point Coach Coffee told my teammates, "That Alison, she is sorry."

But what I can draw on is my own desire to be proud of myself, to truly feel I have done my best every day. I encourage that with my children, even though I don't exactly know how to achieve it.  That's an entirely separate Pinterest board ...

"Be gentle with yourself, you are doing the best you can."
"When something goes wrong in your life, just yell 'plot twist!' and move on."
"The Mad Hatter: 'Have I gone mad?'  Alice: 'I'm afraid so. You're entirely bonkers. But I'll tell you a secret.  All the best people are.'"

The best quotes get right to the heart of the matter, and bring us just a little extra enlightenment. Will they help us run faster, score more often, and win MVP?  I don't have scientific proof.  But the right words can tap into a universal feeling or need, and give the reader a bit of comfort that the world is with them, in good times and bad.  And, just like a fortune cookie, they can often bring a pleasant surprise.

Until next time, keep crowin'!

Thursday, March 5, 2015


My Sunday began with a man on a unicycle and ended with a man in a kilt.  I know these are signs from the universe, I just don't know what my next move is.

My husband and I had decided it was time to replace my 14-year-old car.  Not only was it falling apart and smelled, but you just can't get into the good carpools with a two-row car.  And I need good carpools.  I literally have kids at sports practices and games literally every single night of my life.  I use the term "literally" because it is burned on my brain after the last carpool with my daughter's lacrosse teammates.  They literally said literally about literally 30 times.

As we were driving to CarMax, I began feeling the early warning signs of a panic attack. This came on for several reasons - I hate the car buying process, I hate change, and I hate that I cannot handle the car buying process and change.

As I was deep breathing, we pulled up to the dealership, just in time to see a 57 year old man with a hemp-induced beard casually rolling along the highway on his unicycle. This was clearly a red flag, so I turned to my husband and said, "We need to abort."  But he held my hand ever so very tightly onto the gear shift and we pushed through.

So, what defines "a sign"?  Is it a hippie on a one-wheel bike?  Is it the country fried wisdom on the tire store billboard?  Is it the dream at night that seems so real you think it actually happened?

I once had a classmate in an improv acting course who told me that she was intuitive. Intrigued, I asked her what she could tell about me.  She said that I believed that I received secret messages from the newspaper.  Well ....

I am inclined to disagree with the lady, but not because she may or may not have been a wackadoo, but because I don't believe I receive signs - I believe I LOOK for them.  Signs of aging, signs of weakness, signs of  trouble at every turn. Clearly, I take all signs as bad ones.

This is where the man in the kilt comes in. About 9:00 o'clock Sunday night, after a long, stressful day of organizing and shuttling and errands and lists, my daughter and I drove to the Kroger for just one more thing.  As we were walking in, a man with blue hair in a fully-accessorized kilt came walking out.  I tried to telepathically urge my daughter to make a sharp u-turn.  But, when I looked over at her to convey this warning, she was smiling. What I took as a sign of clear and present Braveheart danger, she viewed as a quirky little nugget in an otherwise mundane errand.  However, as a disclaimer, I should mention that she once tried to take a selfie in front of a drug arrest in a park, and when deciding on an elective for school, she was sold on Forensics when told fake blood would be involved.

But still.  I found our different perspectives so interesting, and realized that perhaps I should take a chapter out of her book.  Why couldn't the funny little out-of-context men actually be nice signs?  Maybe the universe wasn't warning me of something wicked this way coming, but warming me up for something good? Is it possible that I am missing the whole point?  Or do I just need to adjust my dosage ....

Like I said, I don't know what my next move is.  One thing I do know is that I am going to try it my daughter's way, and attempt to look at the world, and people, with more trusting eyes.  And I am definitely going to start reading the newspaper again.

Until next time, keep crowin'!