Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What is it about April?

How appropriate that during a month that's historically one of our most violent, the SCOTUS should rule in defense of people who make videos that perpetrate cruelty to animals.

I would wax on about this, but my friend, Jack does
a much better job than I could.

Oh, and it's Hitler's birthday too.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Eternal Sunshine

A few weeks ago I spent two days driving a U-Haul truck from Texas to Colorado. Somewhere on the outskirts of Fort Worth I got stuck in a snarl of traffic about two in the afternoon. Certainly not what I thought of as rush hour, but I was so out of the groove on rush hour I didn't know anymore. I got jumpy sitting and waiting and having people cut in front of me as I inched forward in a really large vehicle with poor visibility.

A few minutes later I spotted a WalMart and immediately started fighting to exit the highway. By the time I found a parking place and walked around the truck, made sure nothing weird was poking out of the back, I was so ready to get into WalMart that I practically ran in the door. Pavlov has nothing on these people. I hustled in and noticed they had a McDonald's (don't they all), and I had to get one of those McCoffee drinks with a couple of extra shots.

This trip to WalMart was more than a respite from the highway. My youngest child was about to have a birthday, and she wanted a "big girl" bicycle. I knew WalMart in the city was going to have a much better selection than WalMart in the boonies. I was right but not entirely. Then I had to wait quite a while for someone to help me after I hit the pole buzzer. I always feel like a crumb when I have to ring a bell or buzzer to get service, and I had to stand there for a while before I overcame my self-consciousness about looking like I think I'm someone important.

A teen boy finally appeared. He was very polite but didn't know much about the bikes. Thankfully, the boy and I muddled through it together, and once I made my choice, he easily took it down from the rack and even offered to get me a few bucks knocked off the price. He and I decided to take the bike through Lawn and Garden, which usually doesn't have a long customer line. Plus, I could park the truck right outside the door and load it without blocking traffic.

While I was waiting in line with the boy, I kept trying to look outside to see if the traffic on the highway had cleared and wondering whether I would make New Mexico before it got really late. I didn't want to come over Raton Pass late at night. It's not usually a terrible pass. But it still has a treacherous feel, and I'm always relieved when I'm over the state line in Colorado even though home is another eight hours.

When it was my turn, the cashier smiled at me and a young man in his 20s stepped up to the end of the counter near her and nodded his head at the bike and asked in almost a musical tone, "Is that a birthday present?"

I looked at him out of the corner of my eye and said, "Uh, yes, it is."

Then he asked, "Is it for a girl or boy?"

I was a little irritated 'cause I was in a hurry. I could see the traffic had cleared and some people in the store had told me rush hour usually starts around 3:00 pm, but I answered his question.

Then he grinned and asked, "When's her birthday?"

I answered as I was putting my credit card away and nodding at the cashier, and he said, "And what year was she born?" I was really getting perturbed at the incessant questioning, but I was polite and told him. Before the date was barely out of my mouth, he said, "Oh, she was born on a Tuesday!"

I finally looked at him fully and said, "Why yes, she was."

He grinned and said, "I'm autistic, but I'm good with birthdays. Yep, yep. yep."

"Yes, you are," I said.

"Want me to do another one?"

I smiled and said, "Sure."

"Just be sure to tell me the year."

"Okay," and then I asked him about my son's birthday.

Again, before I barely finished, he said, "He was born on a Tuesday too!"

I laughed and said, "You're right!"

I asked him several more dates and he was always right, and we could have played this game all day with the cashier and the boy as audience. But I knew they needed to get back to work. I quickly introduced myself to the young man and he told me his name was Kevin. I said, "Do you work here at WalMart, Kevin?"

"Well, yeah, I guess. I'm not sure what I do, but they pay me."

"I know what you do. You cheer up people like me and these people you work with." I noticed as I spoke the cashier and the boy were smiling and nodding their heads.

Kevin kind of ducked his head, and I shook his hand and said, "I'm glad I stopped, and I'm glad I got to meet you!" He pumped my hand vigorously and grinned and I grinned back.

I could not stop smiling as I walked to the truck, loaded it and then crept onto the highway. I was halfway home before I stopped. That was almost three weeks ago, and every time I think of Kevin, I grin.

Kevin, wherever you are, God Bless you! and I know He does.

note: I don't know a lot about autism and certainly don't know if Kevin is really autistic or if someone just told him that.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

She Glittered When She Walked

A dear friend of mine died thirty-six years ago, and I have wanted to talk about it for a long time. But capturing her has always eluded me, and I want to do her justice. I'm not sure this will do her justice, but I don't want to wait any longer.

She was like a beloved character from a novel who gives you a warm feeling and makes you hate for the book to end. Two years older than me, she was the sister I never had, and I followed her around and hung on her every word, and those were often quirky. She had a way of looking at life that I've never encountered again, and I wish were still in the world. Her zest for almost everything seemed uncontainable, and she frequently brought light into a room and defined it for everyone.

I loved the way she put everything in her terms. Even her terms of endearment. Anyone who was an object of affection, no matter how young or old, was referred to as "old skinny leg." Maybe that's a common expression somewhere in the world, but I've never heard anyone else use it, and I'm not sure I ever want to. I still hear the sound of her voice when she said it.

This week I'm thinking of her because Monday was her birthday. When I hear or see April 5th, she's immediately in my head laughing and talking. Her head is cocked and she's making a crack about something, and I hear myself laugh. I've had to content myself with reliving those moments and wondering what she would have been like as she grew older and married and had a family or whatever it is she would have done. But that's never going to happen, and I still mourn it.

When she was seventeen, she gave up on life. One day after school she shot herself in the head. Her dad found her, and of course he was never the same after that. Her mother never seemed to have much reaction until about ten years later when she killed herself too.

I don't know what particular pain Jan was suffering, but I know the kind of mental anguish that can tempt someone to think ending things is the only way to get some relief. It's a horror to be in that state, and the real tragedy is that it doesn't have to be that way. There is relief that doesn't require self-destruction, but it does require bowing. Bowing to something greater than ourselves. Something filled with more light than ourselves. I don't know if Jan had done that and just lost her focus, but I hope she did. It's the only thing that really alleviates the grieving.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

For My Fellow Inmates

You know who you are.

So I read Venetia, and now I'm listening to the audio book, which is as wonderful as everything else I've listened to. Is it possible to wear out an MP3 file?

For the uninitiated, I'm referring to the voice work of Richard Armitage. You've never heard of him? Oh, most people haven't, but maybe that will change. He is an incredible actor who has an extraordinary voice. Anyone who can make me like audio books has something going on.

Scene from North and South

I thought my first post on RA (as his fans affectionately refer to him) would be more lofty. Sorry, but it's just gushing this time around. I'll try to redeem myself later with some heady analysis. Maybe there's an audio equivalent of microexpressions? :D

In order to help anyone reading who doesn't understand the affection, I give this for your listening pleasure:

And a big thank you to the wonderful Angela for making this video.