Random Word Story # 32~ Moving Along to Nowhere

5211895183_cc7770c5dd_bcombatant…hard…fantastic…square…habitual…defector

Here is my story:

There was something dark about the store clerk at the new Dollar General. She stood with rounded shoulders, and a defeated look in her eyes, as I approached the counter to check out. I would have guessed that she was much older, if we weren’t face to face. She was not much beyond the age of twenty, as I would learn, yet had the demeanor of a lone surviving combatant from a long lost battle.

Her southern drawl set her apart even further.

“You aren’t from around here, young lady.” I said.

“No ma’am. I’m from Alabama. Been he’ ah for two weeks, or so. I’m hopin’ to bring my kids he’ah soon.”

“My… you have children? You’re just a young thing.”

“I was twenty last month and I’ve got three baby boys back home with my momma. Their daddies were scumbags and I cum up here and met the love of my life for sure!”

Her grin was bright and happy but the sadness in her eyes did not fade. She nervously chewed on the side of her tongue as we spoke. It occurred to me that she may have been a beautiful child, once upon a time. Her face was heart-shaped and she had large blue eyes but her hair, seemed as though it was as stressed as her posture, with frizzy ends on a carelessly gathered ponytail.

I saw her as a defector. She’d left her children, after all, while pursuing what I could only imagine was an habitual trail of scumbags. Without having to ask, she went on…

“Met James on the internet. He’s going to bring my boys up soon and we’re buyin’ a house too.” She grinned as her eyes looked through me to an imagined “happy place”.

“That is fantastic! A new beginning, in a new place. I’m happy for you.”

Then I noticed  scars in both of her thin eyebrows and one that ran along her chin too. As she packed my items, her hands trembled.

My, too quickly made judgement, softened as I asked myself, “Why  do so many young ladies have to live such hard lives?”. I felt the urge to hug her and to tell her that things would get better…that she would find her happy ending, but I didn’t believe the latter. Not everyone gets a square deal. Her children would probably have similar fates without the foundation of roots and family and I felt helpless, very helpless to remedy her troubles. In fact I, shamefully, wanted to get away from her as quickly as I could, as if hard luck and ignorance were somehow catchy.

She continued, “James will be picking me up soon and we’re gonna call my kids to tell them about our house. We ain’t been approved yet but we’re hopin’ to hear this week. That ‘ill be ten dollars and seventy cents ma’am.”

“Thank-you. Best wishes to you and James.”

That night, I said several prayers for her family. I held on to a glimmer of hope for her sons, realizing that they might have a slightly better chance to find stability, simply by not being  “beautiful” daughters.

It has, now, been six months … and I have not seen her at the Dollar General again…

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My other Random Word Stories were complete fiction. Sadly, this one, came from a true encounter that I had last Fall.

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My Handle on Anger

I don’t like feeling angry. It is an emotion that I have suppressed for most of my life. It sounds as though I think it has no value. It does. Problem is, I am unfamiliar with how to manage it.

I’m reminded of a scene from the Honeymooners. Ralph and Alice are arguing, as usual, about their finances. Ralph accuses Alice of not being able to handle money. Her brilliant reply:

“Of course I don’t, I’ve never had any practice!”

Well, that’s how I’ve been feeling about anger. Once released, though, it inwardly consumes me. Watching a Dirty Harry movie used to do the trick. I’d grit my teeth right along with Clint Eastwood as he squeezed the trigger. That “punk” was the embodiment of all the wrongs I had felt.

As a woman, my days are filled with tiny sacrifices. Martyrdom is not what this is about. I am very happy to create happiness and contentment, when I am able, but those little sacrifices serve as gasoline on my fire once anger comes out to play. It’s not important to list every single sacrifice. All you need to know is every single decision has a “pecking order” and I’m always last on the list. I KNOW…I don’t need to put myself there.

I care for kids…demanding little angels who are good reasons for some of my sacrifice. Believe me, I have a favorite comment for those who demand too much, too soon. “Do I look like I’m busy?” The problem with that statement is all too clear when I try to relax. “You don’t look busy now?” is what I will be reminded. And, the demand, although not granted every time, still rests on my shoulders as a demand.

Still, that alone does not anger me. But, with the daily demands ever fresh, my family comes home. Not only do I mange kids, I am command central for the family. “Any messages or phone calls?” “Where’s my blue jacket?” “When’s supper?” …you get the picture.

By day’s end, I have a goal, a picture in my head, of me with a book on my couch. I hang on to that picture. The phone may ring…the dog needs to go out and in and out…I may finally sit down and feel sweet release only to notice I have misplaced my glasses OR that the kids have found a unique place for them. All this, I assure you, I can handle.

Then, my husband turns on the TV. He skips from one political propaganda station to the next. A commercial for the ASPCA comes on. I try not to listen but I cannot completely tune it all out. NOW, I’m angry!

It wasn’t one single event but the sum total.

I guess the part that is so sad is that I don’t show it. But lately, there is so much buried that there’s no room for more. I won’t ever take it out on the kids or dog. I’m tempted to take the batteries out of the TV remote though.

I feel better now. Just from the release of my anger in writing. I don’t like to feel angry. I am a very tolerant person. But, if you feel the need to cross me, there’s a poignant question you should ask yourself:

Do you feel lucky PUNK?

Random Word Story #19~A Mother’s Touch

South façade of the White House, the executive...

South façade of the White House, the executive mansion of the President of the United States, located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. Español: Fachada sur de la Casa Blanca, la residencia oficial del Presidente de los Estados Unidos, situado en 1600 Avenida Pennsylvania en Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Random words generated at creativitygames.net

My words today are:

puppet…committee…inn…farm…tie…chimp

Here’s my story:

A gimmick is all that it took these days. Dolly was running her own campaign. She was determined to become the first female president of the United States. If anyone proposed that her name was too cutie-pie, she was prepared to remind folks of the famed first lady Dolley Madison.

Dolly was starting her journey by embracing her differences and defining herself. Oh yes, her approach was sexist. A chimp in a suit coat, tie and diaper, adorned her poster with the slogan,” Time for a change?”

Heck, the men would laugh and the women could identify and the animal lovers? Well, they were also included.

As a stand-up comic, Dolly knew that comic relief was what her beloved country sorely needed. Comedy was the most powerful, feel-good unifying force. She was tired of the bickering and half-truths. Dolly knew that you could say anything if it was funny. Time that the populace learned to laugh at themselves and move on.

Hmmmm…How could she work the idea of a movement into the diaper theme? Aw crap…she’d think of something. HA!

Her committee of followers had set up her first press conference at a New England inn. She had decided to wear clothing in only shades of purple. Red,White and Blue were combined and so, too ,the whole nation would become with her leadership.

Of course, the date chosen for her debut was Mother’s day. It was her hope to have mothers unite on her behalf. No more “smoke and mirrors”. She was no one’s puppet either. Just a mom who could do better than those chest-thumping boobs have done.

Dolly chuckled when she delighted, once again, in the image of the chimp AND that diaper. As long as she tapped into the frustration of average Americans, her agenda of improvement would carry the day.

As she prepared to take the microphone, Dolly looked from the podium out over the orchards on that farm. The trees were ancient and yet still orderly and fruitful. Her eyes filled with tears, just for a moment. She was going to remind herself of the orchard throughout the business of campaigning. Old yet orderly and fruitful…how she loved her country. A mother’s agenda is selfless . Her mission to create self-sufficient citizens is universal. Her love cannot be compromised.

She began her speech. ” I am a mother, a proud American and a woman. I’ve learned to diagnose illnesses, I am most capable of remembering moments and I know how to ask for directions. A mother is a child’s first hero and I want to be our country’s hero! Take my hand …”

A funny thing happened…I was engaged.

Are you one of those people who “engages” others? You know, eyes forward and making contact with those folks who have their eyes up.

That’s a marvelous way to have fun and ,of course, learn.

After my early morning blogging fun, I went to the grocery store. Living in a small city, I recognize many people and come to feel that I know them. My first sight was a young man soliciting credit card applications for his bank. He was standing at the entrance. I shouted out to him,”Selling cookies?” When I reached him. We shared a laugh and he followed me into the store. As we walked in, I offered him an “opening line” that might be useful in engaging the next person.

“Did you know that it is International Women’s Day? That is a tidbit that you could use when opening a conversation with customers.”

He said,” Wow, I didn’t know that. Thanks.”

The lady walking in behind us joined in. “I just found out about the event from an email this morning. My friend in Europe told me. It’s a BIG deal over there.”

Then the lady and I shared our dismay that the interest seemed low in the US and went about our shopping.

This happens often with me. Rarely, is “running to the store” uneventful or boring. I cannot seem to walk around without engaging people. There is a line between engaging and stalking though. A brief exchange is all anyone wants or has time for. I’ve had just a few instances where an especially lonely soul wanted to come to dinner! Thankfully, those are rare and an engaging person gets a sense about who to talk to after a while.

My point is all about taking an active interest in people and your day. It’s fun and makes for a fellowship in your community. I like friendly people.

Power Doesn’t Look Good on Women

I’ve been wondering why there really haven’t been any exciting women candidates for president. Hillary Clinton was very qualified but “came off” as cold and unfeminine.  Michele Bachmann was an “easy on the eyes” (I know it’s a sexist term but it’s used for both genders.), ball of fire, but came off as a dimwit.

I started to consider the women who impress me most. The qualities that they share are wit and humor. Might we need to turn to comic women in order to fill the presidency?

Erma Bombeck certainly was wise and womanly, with wit. I imagine a President Bombeck offering her best wishes to another world leader over a successful heart transplant. She’d be able to imply, “He was always a heartless creep and this doesn’t change a thing.” while maintaining diplomacy. Americans would love her for the “inside joke” twinkle in her eye.

Yes, I want a funny woman to be president!

All kidding aside, the first woman president of the US will have to come from outside of politics.The political arena just doesn’t produce appealing candidates. Our country isn’t ready for women who appear powerful.  Sorry folks, appearances do matter quite a bit. Getting there is half the battle. I propose a sweep. Let’s search through the Women, Humorist, Writer and Scholar arena for presidential material.

 A woman can carry the sea shell that her 20 month old randomly handed her on his first trip to the beach in the green Ford that she bought for $1,900.00, in 1972, from the neighbor and always know exactly where it is. About time we give her a chance at managing a nation. Lord knows, she already manages everything else.

Join the celebration of International Women’s Day !

We Need Each Other…

There are many jokes about the many ways  by which men and women misunderstand each other. They are ALL funny because they are mostly true.

If we avoid anecdotes pertaining to individuals in our lives and concentrate on what seems to be really basic differences, the discussion can be quite interesting.

As an student of human behavior with many years of observations of young children, I think the most striking difference in the sexes is how we deal with frustration.

Boys most often blame forces outside of themselves before blaming themselves. Girls are much more likely to react in the exact opposite manner. If you believe that this is true, it’s no wonder how women are often emotionally misused by their spouses. Women accept blame and Men tend to blame.

Seems so simple but I believe if we consider the natural role of the sexes, men=providers/women=caregivers, there is good reason for the contrast.

First, anyone who thinks human beings can be type-cast entirely is naive.

Second, if you are not willing to believe that we evolved from and are a specialized kind of animal, you need not read further.

Third, these observations are just that, and not intended to favor one sex over the other. In fact, this whole piece is intended for us to understand and accept that we are different yet equal.

As hunters and providers, males would be less effective if their nature was to wallow in self-doubt. Being headstrong and confident are the best qualities for hunters/protectors/providers. Women, as caregivers, would be less effective if they were unable to empathize and use  emotionalism in their strategies. Tending to others requires a sensitivity and willingness to sacrifice their own comfort more readily.

Bottom line men and women, need each other. Their roles are not as clear cut in our modern times. I believe the striking differences in our basic philosophies are fading too.

Laugh we must, as our roles redefine themselves through further evolution!

What I Lost and Want Back

Go get ’em girls!

rachel # 10 fielding

Back in the day, I was a pretty good athlete. That was a time when women’s sports was in its infancy.

My particular talents were inspired by the “girls needed to be better than boys in order to play with them” concept. I was.

In sixth grade,the boys were short a “man” on the basketball court one day. I was asked to play. With my heart in my throat, I knew I needed to shine for the good of all girls. I kept up very nicely. The new found respect I received was intoxicating.

The male teachers must has been talking, after the fact,because I received quite a few thumbs-up in the hallway the next day.

By the time I was in 7 th grade, I had a bit of a reputation as a “girl jock”. The teachers were planning a teacher/boy football scrimmage and we were discussing it in Math class. Our Math teacher was also a boys coach. The question of the dimensions of a football field came up.Our own famed quarterback offered the answer of 100 yards X 53 yards. Oh boy! What a moment followed when I interjected the correct dimensions of 100 yards X 53 and one third yards.The Math teacher threw his chalk in the air while muttering,”Unbelievable.”

I went on to enjoy a High School career in field hockey, soccer and softball. We did not have uniforms or manicured playing fields but we were the first girls team to get one bus trip for a local scrimmage with the Williams College women’s team. It was a start.

Nowadays, women are respected in athletics.

I like to think it is ,in part, because of young women like myself from the 60s.

I do miss that thrill of victory and the physical agility that I once had. My hands are very arthritic now. I’d really love to shine once again!

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