Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Little Brown Beggar

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Like air freshener, with a mop and a couch attached

Every now and then, if you are lucky, you might find that someone will listen to you. And you might find that someone says that they just want to know you, faults and all, if you would just let them know. And they remind you when you do that they are there because they are your friends, and they love you.

I feel pretty lucky to receive what I got last night. Lucky enough to know that no matter what I do, a friend is there to at least try and understand.

As much as I preach honesty, I've failed lately when it comes to my own reflection. I've held accountability to the mirror of hypocrisy, to be sure, but not so with honesty. Last night I sat with two people who reminded me that even when we mess up, there are some friends who choose to stick around.

Why? Because they can see the best of me and, because of that, they are willing and actually wanting to understand when I put forth the worst. I cannot scare them, they know me, they love me.

Isn't that amazing?

To them I say again, but this time here, Thank you.

And, in unfortunate JIB speak, to them I also say this: salad vinegar does work the same as malt vinegar.

Ha! Imagine that.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Not everyone appreciates the scent of a Spring rain

Heading to my car, I am walking behind two women I work with, one who has brought her young son to work for the day. He's talking loudly about something that I don't catch but smile to myself when she explains to him that he needs to keep his voice down in the building because people are working.

When they walk outside, he straggles behind her, says, Mom, it smells like...

She interrupts, Yes, it smells like rain. It rained while we were inside.

He continues, a bit exasperated, No, Mom, it smells like a big giant farted out here.

Monday, May 29, 2006

With bowed head

Outside my window, the flag hangs. I cannot look at the flag without feeling proud of my father, without recalling the lessons he gave me about respecting the flag, and honoring my country.

Today I look at the flag and think of another father. Of my friend whose father I never met. He died while defending his country, our country, my country. I think about him today. I say a prayer for my friend. I say a prayer for the many many others who have lost their lives in combat on behalf of our country, for their families and for the children who grow up missing a parent as my friend did, and yet remain ever so proud of their sacrifice.

Stantis, Birmingham News

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Open my eyes


life is budding, blooming, growing, stretching


all around me, everywhere
something new


Something beginning


A life shining in the glory of its own color





Thursday, May 25, 2006

Till the sun breaks down

His name was Thom Hunter. He was 42 when he died. That is all I know about him. But there's a bit more to know about someone else. Someone in particular loved Thom Hunter. And that someone had a plaque placed on a bench in Central Park, near Strawberry Fields, on which were these words: Though lovers be lost, love shall not; and death shall have no dominion.

No credit was given to Dylan Thomas, but considering how small a plaque, there was hardly room.

And Death Shall Have No Dominion

And death shall have no dominion.
Dead mean naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan't crack;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
No more may gulls cry at their ears
Or waves break loud on the seashores;
Where blew a flower may a flower no more
Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
Through they be mad and dead as nails,
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion.

I cannot forget that bench I saw three weeks ago. I keep thinking of it, imagining the morning sun lighting the metal plaque, making it shine against the dull and worn wood of the bench. I picture someone sitting down a moment, taking a minute to catch their breath or reflect, as we did. Or the bench sitting empty in the night, its sentiment ever-present, yet its words silent and unread. I think about a man I never knew, and a stranger who loved that man, and I wonder what was their story. But I do not wonder why or how I came across that particular bench. When we walked away, I smiled at what I knew. The end of life does not mean the end of love - death shall have no dominion.


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A face like that


The wealth of Bill Gates and Lawrence Ellison combined could not come close to even one tenth the value of this girl of mine.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Greek Mythology 101

The story goes that after making wings from leather and wax, Daedalus warned his son Icarus to be careful when he was flying, not to get close to the sun lest his wings would melt and he'd tumble to the sea.

Be careful not to burn your wings when flying so close to the sun.

What does that mean to you?

Monday, May 22, 2006

To one person in particular who does not need to be named here because she knows who she is and she'll recognize this


What should be on the poster as well, but got squeezed out by the Welcome Home part, is the sentiment, We're proud of you.

(Note: This poster is a fine example of the adage, It's the thought that counts.)

Friday, May 19, 2006

Paying the price

She chased the ball and swam in the pool for three solid hours Wednesday night at my Mom's house. That left her a little tired and a lot slow moving on Thursday. Thursday night, her boyfriend (previously referred to here as the strappingly handsome Yellow Lab named Isaac) was delivered to our house for four fun-filled days and nights of racing to see who can finish their dinner first, knocking items off tables with one wag of the tail, and rearranging furniture and rugs in mad fight over a previously ignored squeaky toy that has suddenly become the "must have" item of the moment.

Last night when I got home from dinner, the inside of my house was completely upside down, including a turned over dining chair, couch pillows and even one cushion on the floor, and the magazines and tv remotes scattered around the floor after being tail-launched from their previous spots on the coffee table. I can only imagine the party they threw, but at least they were smart enough to get rid of the beer cans.

When we went to bed, Cheyenne's mission was to make sure that Isaac knew that she would be sleeping on the bed, not him. Once she was on the bed, she walked around it making her wrinkle-nosed, teeth-showing faces at him. Good natured sport that he is in his position of being completely wrapped around her little dew claw, he looked up at her lovingly and wagged his big yellow tail, thump, thump, thump on the carpet. In response, she lunged toward the edge of the bed and growled at him.

Not two seconds after I turned the light off, she tapped into some energy she'd been saving for just the right moment and jumped from the bed to the floor because she wasn't quite through with him. He didn't take that lying down, so they played and circled and stormed around my bedroom in a unison of blur that was remniscient of the rogue tornadoes I used to watch blowing through the cotton fields in Lubbock, Texas. Fascinating to observe, but you want to keep your distance.

This morning, it was evident that a good night's sleep couldn't even make a dent in replenishing the drain from the activity and play of the past two days. She looked like she was going to call in sick on a Monday morning after a long weekend of doing things she'd never tell her mother.

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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

If you're happy and you know it, roll

It's a toss-up as to who enjoyed the park the most last night, the little brown dog or I, but I do know that I didn't get anywhere near as dirty as she did.


Happy girl!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

No fun

Two things that are no fun at all:

1) Being stuck at the office when the weather is as dreamy and perfect as one could ask for in this city in this month.
2) No one has accepted the meme tag I shot their way this morning.


You can't always get what you want

Yesterday, I received a meme on the Yahoo email connected to this site. Normally, I'd blow it off but but two things were simultaneously taking place: 1) I was curious, and 2) I had a bit of time on my hands. So let's play the game, shall we? The instructions were to Google your name + needs, see where it takes you and copy the first ten results. Here3 goes.

Alison needs males for her art (Alison needs mail for her art)
Alison needs naps badly (This is a known fact)
Alison needs to see her leadership is not simply a service she is performing (Say what?)
Alison needs Colette's help (I hope I get to meet her soon so I can get the help she has for me)
Alison needs a sugar momma (Indeed)
Alison needs to have confidence that her wishes will be respected especially as she will be feeling vulnerable and powerless
Alison needs to have an idea of what buildings she likes (por que?)
Alison needs to speak up to elected officials (I guess the yelling I did at the tv last night does not count)
Alison needs to make decisions along the way
Alison needs to multiply the coffee recipe

That Alison seemed so needy, so I went back and googled Alison wants...

Alison wants him back
Alison wants none of it (Depends on what "it" is)
Alison wants a roommate (Not true)
Alison wants to know why Joshua keeps asking her about the time (I think that Joshua is hanging out with Colette)
Alison wants to know exactly what she's apologizing for
Alison wants to do 30 things (At least)
Alison wants her black coat back (True)
Alison wants to know (and don't we all?)
Alison wants to remain at home
Alison wants to ride on a white horse (It you wanna ride, ride the white pony)

I've never seen my name so many times. It makes me feel dizzy. And a bit narcissistic. And a tad psychotic. But still, some of it is true in the same sort of odd way that fortunes or mood rings can be true. And that part was a bit fun.

So, that said, I'd like to tag Ghost, Sass and Reading. Have fun.

Taking it back into first person, I need (and want) to go now. Later...

Monday, May 15, 2006

How to make me happy

He turned 18 today. I miss him but he's where he should be, in an environment that secures his future, with people who are guiding him in ways we were unable to. This time last year, I wasn't sure he'd see his future. Now I know that sometimes we have to start over and sometimes those times come just in time. That's his case.

We spoke yesterday. His voice was clear, strong, happy. He said to me that he made me a garden stone for mother's day. He went on to say that even though I'm not his mom, he appreciates everything I've done for him, and he loves me. On my end, I held the phone and wiped a tear from my eye. A happy tear. Our conversation skimmed across the surface of other things - school, pizza, his sister, Cheyenne - and then landed on his birthday. We talked about his decisions now being on his own shoulders of responsibility and he talked about how it sounded frightening at first but now it's starting to feel good. I reached to wipe another tear. When we were getting ready to hang up, he said, I love you Aunt Alison. Happy Mother's Day.

I speak with him every Sunday, but yesterday, the last Sunday of his 17th year, that was a special conversation.

Mother's Day

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Consider this

My strength and my weakness race against themselves. Strength is winning but weakness draws its need, wants the voice, wants the attention. Weak is powerful, but strength is enduring. Weak has the voice; strength the wisdom. It's hard but not impossible, easy but not simple. Repeating in my head are the words, Slow and steady wins the race. I want to speak to my father. His number is still programmed in my cell phone, Dad Cell. Does that mean he's still here in some way? No. It means he was here. I cannot delete the number. I've asked friends to delete it - no one does. Probably that's best.

There are other issues going on, other brewings fighting for attention. I roll my eyes. Life is too short to listen to the wind.

She's upset with me. She cannot remember the details, says I chose against her will. Why would you do that? She's forgotten the reasons. I made the right choice but to tell her why, to go over it again, might be necessary to clear my name but it would hurt her. So I take the knife. She doesn't know it's his birthday, and she doesn't know how hurtful her words. I promised him, so I let it slide. Off my skin, but not my heart. It lands, I cannot deny.

It's times like this, when everything is clouded and muddy, when conjecture muscles into the mind as fact and conclusions and opinions are drawn, times like this that I doubt myself and I doubt my heart. I want to go to him. Father, I need some advice... what would you do? What would you say?

I pause and listen. Silence.

Figure it out, I tell myself.

Blow it off. That's what he would say. Don't let your wings get weighed down.

Zero Five One Zero, Five Ten, Tenth of May, May 10th

At Walgreens I’m buying the cards of May. Mother’s Day, the Boy’s 18th birthday, my brother’s birthday. I stand before the selection of cards for Fathers. Today is his birthday. He would have been 82 today. Would have been.

He used to shake his head and say, Save your money, when I would ask him what he wanted for his birthday. When I was a child, I’d make him coupons out of construction paper and crayons: On them I’d write Good for One Car Wash, or Good for Raking the Yard, or Good for one Back Rub. The one that said, Good for a Kiss and a Hug, all over which I'd drawn happy faces and hearts, that one he saved. I decorated a box for him one year, by deco paging images I’d cut out from his magazines. He didn’t say a word about my cutting up his magazines, instead he made a big deal about how much he loved the box. I beamed with pride. That box stayed on a shelf in his office for the rest of his life. It’s still there.

I used to give him paintings I’d painted, words I’d written, decorative clay bowls I’d make in art class or at camp. These are the gifts I remember, the gifts I gave him when I was a child. Of course as I got older, I would buy him things but it’s still the gifts I made that he cherished and displayed. As my interest and abilities in photography developed, I returned to making him his gifts, framed enlargements of photos he admired, pictures of his dog, his hunting property, or the self-portrait I took years ago. Those too were displayed in his office; the self-portrait he carried in his suitcase when he traveled. In its silver 8 x 10 frame. When I asked Mom why Dad traveled with a photo of me, she said, He’s proud of you; he likes to show it off.

In New York last weekend, Mom awoke in the middle of the night and asked, Is Dad here? I told her that he was not. She was confused and a bit upset that night, said the she guessed he couldn’t make it. I stayed with her until she fell back asleep, holding her hand, telling her it was okay. I felt him close by, and I promised in words unspoken, I’ll take care of her, Dad, I’ll take care of her.

I’d like to say out loud, Happy Birthday, Daddy-o. And there’s no reason I cannot, but for not wanting the words to go unheard. But still I'll give him something, something I’ve made: A promise. I will take care of her, Dad. I will always take care of her.

Monday, May 08, 2006

We heart New York

Dear New York,

As I sit here in this pretty hotel room with pale green and cream striped wallpaper and thick green flowered curtains and pretty English prints of pugs on the walls, I should confess that I've poured my coffee out and am now drinking a glass of Veuve Cliquot. Why should today be different than any other day we've been here just because we're leaving in a couple hours?

I'm still coming down from this morning's rush of being starstruck over someone other than Stevie Nicks but seeing Katie, Matt and Al in person was, well, pretty damn cool. Giada de Laurentiis was an added bonus. That's what I kept saying, anyway. Sharon could only nod because her eyes were transfixed on the goings on at the Plaza so really I think she was more starstruck than me. Mom couldn't have cared since she prefers not to see the hour of 8:00 in the morning and only mumbled, Have a good time, when we set out for our adventures.

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Hands down though, the coolest was going to the top of the Rockefeller Building, or Top of the Rock, as you like to call it. We both agreed that the views were more spectacular than the Empire State Building, since you can see the Empire State Building and then walk to the other side and see all of Central Park. Plus, that elevator ride up, with the glass ceiling, that was pretty wonderful, except for the part about it also being terrifying because I'm not sure that I ever again want to see the inside workings of an elevator shaft when I'm traveling 76 stories. Still though, with only five other people up there with us, it was quite a treat and we felt as if we had our own private showing.

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All in all, you've been a lovely host and we've enjoyed every minute of our visit. I just have one question for you. What is your secret about the french fries that you serve with everything including breakfast and that are the most delicious, most magical, crispy and yet still soft french fries we've ever had? We'd like to know that secret. Unless, of course, it's that you fry them in goose fat or horse fat or something equally disgusting. That, we'd not like to know.



A Texas who'll return

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Molly, Gucci, Tiffany, and a nice surprise from Waldorf

Molly is her name. She's about 16.5 hands, wears a coat of white and has a broad chest to match her broad haunches. Her mane is long, her nose soft and her eyes dark. Our coach driver told us that Molly is quite the lady, a great horse. Molly pulled our white carriage through Central Park, past the skating rink and the carousel, around the hill by the dairy, past all the tulips and daffodils, and down the path across from the homes on the Upper East Side. A clear and sunny Sunday afternoon in New York, and everyone it seems went to the park. Not only did we enjoy watching the roller skaters and bike riders, the sun bathers, the children on the swingsets, people walking their dogs and the couples strolling together, but we relished being part of the scene itself. Mom smiled and pointed out certain spots she recalled from her childhood while we hung on her every word feeling lucky she was sharing her memories, and that we had our own personal tour guide.

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The cab driver that drove us to Tavern on the Green read the newspaper WHILE HE DROVE. This time it was my turn to be sitting in the front seat fearful for my life. I don't know what Mom was doing but I'm sure she was holding on tight just because she knows what cab rides are like in this city. Sharon found a pair of Gucci sunglasses in the back seat and was too busy nodding to her good luck to be aware of the danger that we were in. The sunglasses she found ROCK in the way that only Gucci can do, which is to say with bling, but an understated, sophisticated bling. Sharon has found three things on this trip: a dime, a dollar bill, and the Gucci sunglasses.

At Tavern on the Green, we were seated on the patio at a table beneath an enormous Sycamore tree with planters of tulips at its base. I couldn't believe that we got that table from reservations made on the internet but there we were sitting outside with the sun shining down on us and our Mimosas. We were as giddy as the group of girlfriends at the table next to us and as happy as the little girl we gave our balloons to when we left the restaurant later in the afternoon.

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After brunch of Eggs Benedict and Mimosas, we took a cab to Tiffany's and wandered three of the five floors with about five hundred other people and two elevator operators, a job that just yesterday Sharon and I discussed as being one of the most boring jobs someone could have. Well, that and toll booth operators. The operator in one of the elevators was a woman who had a handkerchief in her gloved hand and when she pushed the buttons, she used the handkerchief to cover her hand, though I'm not sure why. She didn't seem to be too happy a person but then again it could be her job.

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When we got back to our hotel, what we were quite surprised and very pleased to find waiting for us was a bottle of champagne on ice, a plate of chocolate covered strawberries and a birthday card to Mom on behalf of the Waldorf Staff. Perfect and apropos, as has this trip been.

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Of cab drivers, Barbaro and birthday gifts bought under the influence

In a city known for its particular brand of rudeness and hurry, we have not dealt with one bartender, waiter, man on the street, person in an elevator, attendant, cashier, or person in general who has been anything less than friendly. Well, okay, there was the one cab driver who drove us to Sardi's for dinner and when we first got into the cab said he had never heard of Sardi's and when I told him it was in the theatre district, snapped at me that the theatre district is a very large area, and tossed a book of restaurants in Sharon's lap so that she could look up the address - which, by the way, is as ridiculous as a cab driver in Houston not knowing how to find Reliant Stadium. But what's the fun of a cab ride in this city if you don't get to experience the surly personality or the speed-demon, horn-honking drivers? We got the later on our return home last night. That guy got us to our hotel in about two minutes, taking the same roads that the earlier driver had used on the 10-minute drive to 234 West 44th (which, by the way, is where Sardi's is, in case you need to tell a cabbie some day). Mom gripped the door handle with one hand, and my hand with the other, and Sharon later told me that she was too afraid to look where we were going and had to look at her feet the whole time. I'll admit that I held my breath at certain points. That cab driver didn't say a single word to us, which I think is due to the supreme level of concentration necessary to drive like he does.

I was trying to think of a MasterCard ad to describe what it felt like to watch the Kentucky Derby in the upstairs bar at Sardi's with my arms around my mom and my friend standing beside me, but all I can come up with is the Priceless part. Certainly, it was one of those bubble-to-the-surface moments of happiness I'll not soon forget.

When we arrived home last night, after Mom went to sleep, Sharon and I were overtaken with the need to drink wine and champagne in one of the numerous bars here at the Waldorf. And then we were overtaken with a need to go shopping. And in a strange turn of events, I did not buy anything for myself. What I did buy was an Escada outfit for mom to wear to her birthday brunch today. And what's priceless about that was when she woke up this morning, she asked me, What do you think I should wear today? I picked up the gift box and said, How about this?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Four hours as a tourist in New York on a Saturday morning

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At the New York Public Library, we sat at a table with our coffee, and said profound things such as, I can't believe we're sitting here drinking coffee at the New York Public Library.

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A sign in the lobby of the Empire State Building told us that visibility was 25 miles and from how excited we got when we read that, one might have thought we had just been told that Santa Claus himself was up there waiting for us.

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Flowers at Rockefeller Center

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Around Central Park, and at Strawberry Fields

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