Tuesday afternoon is never ending

(name that tune)

You know me, the eternal optimist. Little Miss Sunshine. (You wait. I’m going to scan a picture of little me in my coke bottle glasses AND write about my wacko childhood and then you’ll know why that film sang to me. Apparently, to a lot of other people as well.) Is that positive spin I put on things solely for your reading pleasure? Could be, but I think not. You don’t KNOW me know me but, by and large, what you read is what you get. Basically hopeful and energetic, sometimes lapsing into worry and unhappiness. Very ordinary. (I had a boyfriend years ago who used to say repeatedly, until it was meaningless and had become ordinary, "You are so special." And I would say, "No, just regular. " That was my comfort zone and I meant it.

So, on my worry plate right now:

The musician son. He’s got a lot of tour hassles and stress, he’s over extended and Hungry Howie’s swiped some of the band’s music for a national television commercial. They should get free lifetime bad pizza, right? He hasn’t been here to visit us in Florida yet because of his hectic life and you have no idea how much I wish I could get him down here and feed him for a few days.

(Since I started writing this about AN HOUR ago, when I could have sailed through the stream of thought in 15 minutes, I have gotten two calls from musician son, two interruptions from Rich who wanted to sit down and tell me how he had a full day of work and couldn’t be interrupted- he came back the second time to list for me everything he is doing and to schedule a time for lunch- and my step daughter is hovering in my space, trying to figure out how her day of spring break will shape up down here. When she visits here it is with a mind towards food, beach, using the car, food, beach, food, food. That’s because she is on spring break. When Abby comes over between classes it is with a mind towards food. Sometimes, I think a nice change of pace would be a giant plant named Audrey in the corner calling out, "Feed me! Feed me!" And no, there is no contradiction between wanting to feed them and being as annoyed as hell that they keep wanting to be fed, so don’t even go there.)

The main worry I have right now is that, while I am dealing with petty preoccupations, people I care about have big worries, big sorrows and I feel helpless to do anything. One of my closest friends sent an e-mail saying her 26 year old nephew had just died and she was trying to help her sister cope. Now I can’t raise her on the phone because her answering machine is off.

Another very close friend (you know how close when I say these women are BCMA- Book Club, My Ass) is swamped with serious illness in her family. Her sister-in-law is fading fast and a niece who has been more like a daughter, one she has practically raised, has been diagnosed with leukemia. This young woman is just about to celebrate her twentieth birthday. She is spending the month prior to starting chemotherapy giving herself fertility shots so they can harvest eggs because the chemo will probably render her infertile. Then, when she does wrestle this vile illness to the mat, she might still be able to have children. In her online care pages she writes that she hopes she can have another transfusion the day before her birthday so she will have enough energy to stay awake and enjoy the day while she prays for a bone marrow match. (Go get your cheek swabbed. It’s painless. If it was your child, you would be on your knees for every single person who has taken the time and care to do it.) Are these the things a twenty year old should have to be worrying about? And my friend’s distress…I can only imagine.

How about this: Yesterday I worked at the family shelter, helping with a children’s program. There were maybe a dozen homeless children and we provide activities for them while their parents-usually, momma-is out working and getting vocational training. It’s an excellent form of social service: children stay with their parent(s) in simple, very modest 2 room units in a safe, clean building rather than go into foster care. The family’s needs are met for between 60 days and a year (the longer stays mean enrollment in a serious program like nurses aide or computer training) and the parents save their earnings towards housing deposits and the things that are required for a fresh start. Contracts are signed, children are enrolled in school, chores are shared and excellent daycare is provided.

Still. These children are usually coming from crisis that has torn apart their lives, whether it’s domestic violence, eviction, or loss of family income. Sometimes, it’s been an ongoing crisis- substance abuse, children having children or simply the miserable cycle of poverty. Sometimes, it’s a single traumatic event.

We sat around the big table and read The Giving Tree and then every child got a plate full of nuts- peanuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts, coconuts, almonds, walnuts. We made a huge mess with crackers and hammers and coconut water and shells all over the place and we talked about the difference between nuts and fruits and legumes and drupes (now perhaps a child knows something you don’t…). In the end I sat with a small boy in my lap; he was quiet and sad on his first day in this new temporary home and he had the softest curls and the blackest skin and all my memories of that scent of little boy child were stirred. We turned away from the larger table and the lesson at hand and instead, we made a small walnut shell boat, filled with pine nut people and we set it afloat in a cup of apple juice.

When I left to come back to my life where I don’t have to work, where I have a second home to come to in the winter, where I fuss about souvenirs, I sat in the car for a while and I felt bereft and helpless. That eased some as the evening went on and I could talk to Rich about the day but still, I’ve been kind of sad since then.  Sad that I have such small sorrows and other people don’t.

Today is Bud’s birthday.  I called him last night and he gave me the full rundown on his take on the Oscars. He said he likes Ellen Degeneres; she’s a happy dancer in his opinion. He hasn’t seen any of the movies and I told him I thought he would enjoy both Little Miss Sunshine and The Departed and we can rent them on video while he’s here. That way I can leave the room for parts of The Departed. Then for some reason, neither one of us could remember the name of "that Jewish comic who used to host the Oscars" but we were both right on the edge of it. The second I hung up I remembered and dialed right back and yelled, "Billy Crystal!" Bud yelled back, "Merry Christmas to you, too, but don’t you mean Happy Birthday?"

Yes, Bud. Happy Happy Birthday. I’ll feed you cake the moment you get here.

(And if YOU are my 100,000 visitor you have to sing Happy Birthday to Bud out loud, right where you sit- and let me know about it so I can thank you)

35 responses to “Tuesday afternoon is never ending

  1. Well, then I DO hope I’m your 100,000th so I can sing – although you might with you hadn’t asked! Today I have laryngitis. Happy Birthday, Bud!!

    Vicki, you write so well. I can sympathize with kids who want fed all the time and some who don’t, but need to eat more, and relatives and friends with dire illnesses, but I could never write about them the way you do.

  2. That was supposed to say “wish”.

  3. I’ll sing him happy birthday, even if I’m not your big visitor.

    Those little sorrows, are what keep you connected and able to be present with those who have big sorrows. Of this, I remain convinced.

  4. I’m singing and crying. We have no idea, do we.

  5. How will we know if we are your 100,000th?

    Your little sad boy– such beautiful writing and I know he is a real boy out there and adjusting and struggling and that makes me feel sad too. So many stories. So many.

  6. Happy Birthday Bud!!! And many more!

  7. I have no idea how to tell! So,I’ll just come by to wish Bud a Happy Birthday–and let you know that I am normal too. I try to be very thankful for what I have, but find myself worried about kid things,job stuff, etc..And sometimes I get stressed and negative. I don’t like having a COLD! That makes me want to curl into a ball and do nothing that I should be doing.

  8. Mr. 100,000 here, singing “Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday Favorite Step-Father, Happy Birthday to you!”

    Also, Little Miss Sunshine should have won ALL the prizes. What a gas.

    And, finally, what’s a f**king drupe, you Over-Educated Psychoanalyst? God, the things I put up with…..

  9. 100,082 happy birthdays!!! typed by monkeys!!! on Typewriters!!!

  10. Can’t these college girls cook?

    I see heartbreak kids every day. What you are doing at that center is so very important. What I see over and over again is the single mom losing her son to “negative” influences at middle school/puberty.

    A low income, dadless son has only a 50/50 chance in my experience.

  11. The Giving Tree…that is so one of my favorites when I did therapy at the clinic. It’s such a good book.

    And yeah just like FC said, why are you having to feed these gals? Isn’t there a fridge and pantry where they can get themselves food? Although, as a bad penny who likes to go home and bother HER mother for meals…I can’t really talk now can I 🙂

    ANd Happy birthday Bud! I know I’m a lil late but better late than never!!! Isn’t that how it goes?

  12. I have struggled with ‘guilt of success’ a lot. Seeing others with so little when I have so much. A friend asked me once that if I lived in poverty and suffered, would it ease the suffering of others?

    Happy Birthday Bud!!! I have a terrible singing voice, but I will do it if need be!

  13. Staphen is in Tokyo again. If he were here he could sing. Happy Birthday Bud!

    Nyssa came home and cooked for us at Christmas. She now knows how to do a turkey (which is more than I can say) and chicken parmigiana and catfish. OK, so she only cooked twice for us; but that was two times more than usual!

    I try to count my blessings each morning… but if I don’t find a position soon, I may be trying to get on at McDonalds or Walmart.

  14. I came by last night, but I needed time to think about all this.

    I often have the feeling that I have gotten away with something in life, and that someday Fate will strike me with some horrible blow because it is my turn. It’s not that I haven’t ever grappled with hard times, but my safety net of family and friends and lucky circumstance is so tightly woven that I have always felt up to the task of coping with whatever has come my way.

    I feel so overwhelmed at times with the bare plain fact of other people’s grief and tragedy juxtaposed against my charmed life. I feel as though I seriously have no right ever, EVER, to complain or feel sad about anything.

    And yet, I can whine.

  15. Hey look! I wrote a post in your comments.

  16. You are just the kind of snowbird we Floridians like to have around. I can overlook them clcgging up the roads, keeping me out of my favorite restaurants until June and taking up the appointments at the doctors office when they give back to the community. I love winter visitors who volunteer! That little boy may not remember your name or face, but he will remember the feeling of being comforted and loved for the rest of his life. That is an investment of the best kind. On his behalf, I say, thank you.

  17. your description of that little boy is beautiful…I’ll sing for you or Bud anytime.

  18. Oh my gosh I think Typepad likes me agaIn. AllelujaH. I can comment!

    But I already commented on this in my email!

  19. Tell Bud Merry Christmas for me, and give those kids extra hugs from me.

  20. You’re trying to bait me here, oui?

  21. Wow. Over 300 people already. But Happy Birthday to Bud all the same. Smooches dear. I’ll be off to Santa Fe before I see St. Pete. *sigh* Sounds like you have your hands full anyway. 😉 Love love.

  22. Lets share the Feed Me plant, I need a break. sometimes, even though I know Jenny’s life will work out and that her problems are really small and actually to be envied by plenty with REAL problems, its easy for me to focus solely on her and what bothers her and where her weaknesses are keeping her and and and..Perspective is a good and necessary thing.

    You’d be glad I was not the song bearing winner. I sing great in my head, but there is a sad disconnect between brain and vocal chords. However, Beverly was tempting me with spring training games and a convertible ride through Florida. I might sing then. Want to go?

  23. Teach me how to bait.

  24. A lot of things I can relate to in a positive way here, despite some of the gloom: Little Miss Sunshine (great movie), Little Shop of Horrors (great play and soundtrack), the Giving Tree (great children’s book), Ellen DeGeneres (funny, funny woman), etc.

    And how about those Wolverines pinning a loss on the Spartans. I KNOW you were just kidding about becoming a Spartan fan when you commented on my blog. That would be like Bush giving up and joining Al Qaeda. Well, maybe not as bad, but something like that.

  25. I love The Giving Tree; I love your descriptions of what you do all day; I love the people you love just because you love them; most of all, I love YOU.

  26. Happy Bday Bud! I hope i’m not the 100K visitor because I can’t sing on tune, and that would be one awful present for him to hear me howling,er.. signing.

    Loved your pics in the post below, I’ve got to get a decent set of lenses one of these days@!

  27. O, I forgot: “See How They Run” by Paul McCartney.

  28. I’ll sing anyway. I don’t need no dang number…


    And happy day to you too, friend. You are surely not ordinary. You have a gift that shines like a light inside your great big heart. You can say you don’t see it but we do.

  29. I know, I know. Tuesday evening is neverending, but now it is Saturday evening, Mr. Rhett has hit a deep, deep depression due to a lack of Sophie infusion and he is driving me to the insane asylum with his constant needy presence. Knock, Knock…. hello… hello… is anybody back there?

  30. Vicki. You are not regular. You are extraordinary!

    I know how you feel about those kids wanting to be fed. It never ends. I have a sinking but happy feeling I’ll be feeding kids for the rest of my life.

    Worry worry worry. I really try not to worry so much but I do. There are some mornings, no – many mornings when I wake up with a feeling of dread and the first thoughts in my mind are the things I have to worry about. Some mornings are really bad and others are OK. Our kids will be fine in the world but we still worry.

    I find that blogging takes my mind off my worries for a while during the day… In my posts, I complain about things in a lighthearted way which helps me cope. The serious concerns are always on my mind, though.

    I know I shouldn’t complain so much when there’s a little boy with the softest curls sitting on your lap and worrying, too.

    Happy Belated Birthday to Bud! And I agree with him – Ellen is really a happy dancer ;o)

  31. Are you out having some peanuts and CrackerJacks?

  32. A very happy birthday, Bud!

  33. Vicki? Are you there? It’s me. Raehan.

    I think it’s time you updated us on Bud’s birthday. We sang for him, we should hear how it went.

  34. Song – Lady Madonna

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