Day job

Good Night, Moon

moon

“I like to think the moon is there…
even if I am not looking at it.”
~ Einstein

I had a talk with God the other day.

It didn’t go well.

Probably because we broke up years ago and I spent the entire conversation reminding him of my disbelief every seven words. It was a disaster. The nuns back in Catholic school would have crossed themselves, prayed for my soul and then giggled behind my back at the pathetic irony of it. I knew it wouldn’t work. I knew it wouldn’t help. I knew it wasn’t the right entity to chat with…

Tonight, I remembered the rules. Remembered what makes an old gypsy tick.

Leaving four sleeping kids and a snoring Hippie all tucked away in their beds, I sneaked downstairs, grabbed my smokes and a hoodie, and stepped outside. I knew there wouldn’t be natural water nearby (the pool didn’t count). I knew it would be too dark to pick at the gravel on the side of the road and pretend they were real rocks.

But I knew the moon would be there.

It had been shining through the slats in the blinds upstairs, whispering to my insomnia like a secret lover. Reminding me what its embrace was like, how well it listened, how easily it soaked up tears. And I answered its call.

I’ve been all over the grid lately. Circuit overload, if you will. Pick an emotion… I’ve had it. They’ve all been competing for time and space and privacy with my chi. I’m out of balance. I hate being out of balance. I am the great multi-tasker, damn it. I can do it all. Because I’ve always told myself I can. My mother could, therefore I can—heroes are worthless if you don’t try to emulate them, right? But I’ve been off. My chi is all out of shape and my brain is being pulled a million different directions. I couldn’t talk it out because I couldn’t untwist it enough to even understand what needed to be said. I know I have three story lines fighting for pecking order and a petulant muse that will not be ignored. I have friends that need me. Things that are bothering me—some I can control, most I cannot. Totem poles of life and love and longing being chiseled and redesigned on a regular basis. Overload. And I unleashed it all in a rambling mess, paying no heed to the connections that may or may not exist between points—real or imagined.

The moon and I had the talk that was never intended for God’s ears. It listened quietly, never wavering, never blinking. It didn’t interrupt. It never laid blame or got defensive. It didn’t judge. It just was.

And it helped. It calmed the woman and bandaged the twelve-year-old. Because the gypsy knew it could. It would. Because it’s always been there, even when I’m not looking. It’s tangible (sorry God, Catholic school was fun but the science geek wins this time) and it’s the same moon that the first gypsy in my bloodline talked to on a calm night, long ago, filled with crickets and night birds… and overload. It’s the ultimate keeper of secrets. The shoulder that never gets tired of being cried on. A shining beacon of light when it seems dark. And the healer of broken gypsies. When there is no water for your toes, or rocks for your fingers to pick through, the moon will be there. Always.

It’s well past midnight now. It’s Thursday and I’m supposed to have written some pithy question to throw out at all of you for the weekly Garage Talk post. Instead, I will say thank you to something beautiful, just for existing (for the second time this week), go crawl back into bed and fall asleep to the sound of my best friend’s heartbeat, while the moon sings her lullaby through the slats. And in the morning, I’ll post this…

Originally I had “sans question” as the end of that last sentence. But on the coattails of a good night’s sleep, how about we toss this instead: When you’re out of whack, where do YOU go to fix your chi? What do you turn to? Is there a place or a thing that you can unload onto or just be at that will help it all untangle? Not a person—that’s cheating. Pick an inanimate band-aid and tell me why it helps. Why it heals.

Attack-Pick

ouch-voodoo-toothpick-1Bane of my existence.

Yes, that’s a harsh phrase. One I’ve used in jest over the years regarding this annoyance of the moment or that. One that was used to describe me by an ex-boyfriend for a while (*waves at Brian L*)—which I personally thought was a bit harsh. But I get it. I get the term. I get the usage.

And I have found the true bane of my existence.

See, the Ex used to always have toothpicks. It was a strange little habit he picked up from his father that I never really thought about or blinked at. Often, he would set them on the table near the ashtray with the intention of throwing them away later… and a cat or two would decide it was a new toy. Then I blinked and cared, because suddenly we were finding them everywhere. This was a humorous foible of the house and we made many a joke about it.

Until the day I stepped on one.

Now mind you, I didn’t just step on a flat toothpick. Oh no. Nor did I step on a broken one and poke myself with a jump and a start and an ironic swear word followed by giggling. Oh, hell no! I stepped on a broken one that had fallen into the carpet at just the right angle that it buried itself in the arch of my foot. You know, that tender spot that Legos, stegosauruses and other toys tend to find in the middle of the night. Yeah, that spot. And it required pulling out, with force, to remove. It was deep enough that it bled. And it sucked more than wet socks… which is a whole different blog regarding pet peeves for the feeble minded!

After that, they became my bane. If I saw one I floor I would point and scream, fearful of my arches and making a big deal out of it in jest with the family and threatening to stab the cats with one of the evil wooden spears.

Then I got divorced and the toothpicks went away. It was actually kind of funny the day I saw one and realized I hadn’t for a while.

galentoothpickAnd now they’re back. See that picture? That’s my keyboard at work. That’s Papasan’s idea of funny. Because when I told my boss’s father (who refuses to retire and keeps coming to work and probably always will) about the toothpicks when I saw him with one, he turned it into a game. A game I didn’t think was funny at first, considering I run around the office barefoot every day, even in the winter.

But when I realized I never found one on the floor—only behind his ear, in his mouth, or strategically placed on my desk (such as in the keyboard)—I began to play back. We now have toothpicks jabbed into corkboards, holding up calendars and my personal favorite, all Papasan’s messages are stuck to a toothpick on his wall like an order in a restaurant on that little silver skewer they keep on their counters.

It’s funny now. It’s a game now. But you know what they say… it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye steps on a toothpick!

30 bucks & a basket full of chocolate

oilbadI was supposed to go to Wisconsin this week. I was supposed to have coffee with old friends, crash with ex co-workers, visit the old dayjob, see my grandmother and my Aunt and Uncle, and celebrate my mother’s birthday. Oh yeah, and the kids were supposed to see their father.

That didn’t happen.

Why? Because Murphy is a bitch and the Universe is his tool—or is that the other way around?

Packed and ready, armed with a full box of Kleenex for this annoying cold I decided to wake up with and Bob’s iPod full of “keep me awake” music, the kids and I left the house. We stopped for snacks and cash for tolls. Gassed up, got Mountain Dew pumping through the co-pilot’s blood, and hit the road… on time. Yes, I was shocked. Yes, they were shocked. That was a first.

That should have been a clue.

Just before the first tunnel (an hour out) I looked down and saw “check gauges”.  Hmmm… Well, the brake light is on but it’s always on because it’s got some twitch the service guy said wasn’t a problem. Ok, whatever… Wait. A. Minute. Battery gauge fine. Gas full. What the heck is the problem with the oil gauge? Call the hippie!

“So, my oil gauge runs high but the oil is fine, it’s just a gauge problem. Does your truck have the same issue but shows it low? Or am I really out of oil?”

“Ummm… no. You better stop and check that.”

“Crap! Ok, we’ll stop as soon as we can.”

Of course, I’m on the turnpike. There are no gas stations. *zoom* There’s a service plaza on the other side of the divided highway, that’s not fair! We drive another 45 minutes to find something on our side. Ok then, we’ll check the oil and be fine.

No, first we’ll fight with the damn hood! Eaux. Mai. Gawd! Call the Hippie, again.

“Really? What the hell is the trick with the hood?!” Wiggle it, he says. Fine. And after 15 minutes of beating, pounding, shouting, screaming, and swearing—and some of that from the nice man that stopped to help the poor woman and two children—we finally get the hood open. I didn’t notice until later that I had bent my claddagh ring all to hell beating on the hood.

And the oil is fine.

What the hell? Ok, it took us forever to get the hood open. We’ll start the truck and check it again. Hmmm… still not bad. We’ll add some and call it good. Start the truck and check the gauge. Ahhhh, it’s where it should be. Well, that was fun. Off to Wisconsin we go!

A mile down the road the gauge jumps like it’s been goosed and bottoms out. Cue the horrible grinding and ticking from the engine. Pull over on the turnpike and call the Hippie again.

After an update and some discussion, it’s decided that I need to stop again and double check the oil. Even though I didn’t see a spill or leak, we need to know. And then I need to turn around. This trip isn’t happening. This is the oil pump or vacuum seal or godknowswhat, and I can’t play this game of “unknown engine troubles” for 19 hours. I don’t want to have the engine blow in the Michigan deadzone and be stuck with a dead truck & 2 kids in the pitch black without cell service or an open anything for a hundred miles. I vote no. And we don’t trust my truck enough to just swap and make the trip in the other vehicle. And of course, there’s no way I can rent a vehicle this week or borrow one from anyone. Crap. Ok…

“Call your father…”

They talk to their dad. I talk to their dad. Yup. Trip canceled. We’ll just have to figure something out later for a visit. It wasn’t on purpose and it can’t be helped. Nope, no one’s angry, just disappointed. Kram’s eyes glass up and George gets that hateful PMS look on her face. I have to do something.

“Ya know, I had plans too. I was going to see friends I haven’t seen for ten years and we were having a party for your grandmother.”

Two blank gazes greet me. It’s all about them. I realize that. Fine, we’ll try humor.

“Ya know…” An eyebrow cocks at me. “How about I buy your happy? I have all this cash for tolls and you guys are off the rest of the week. How about I give you each a twenty for spending cash and we color eggs for Easter and we make the best of it. I know you’re too big, but do you want Easter baskets?”

“Make it thirty and you’ve got a deal.”

I opened my mouth to say something and stifled the giggle that was about to come out. He was serious. My sweet little Monster drinking, girl ogling boychild was bribable. His deadpan expression was serious!

“Keep mine at twenty and make me a chocolate Easter basket. And I mean chocolate. No jelly beans, no froo-froo candy. Nothing but chocolate and Easter grass.”

Again, I thought of smirking. Then I looked in the review mirror. She was serious, too!

“Really guys? I’m gonna buy your happy with thirty bucks and a chocolate Easter basket?”

In unison, “No.” Then George finished the thought for both of them. “This still sucks… but that will ease the pain.” She flashes a smile at me in the review mirror, “and yes, we’ll make the best of it.”

“Deal.” We’re going to get our butts home and bribe the kids to not take this out on me—sounds like a plan.

I started the truck. The oil gauge was normal for a minute then bottomed out. The sounds are unnerving but not uber dangerous sounding. I slowly pulled back onto the turnpike and hoped for an exit, not a wayside, so I can check the engine and turn around.

Another 40 minutes and we find an exit, with a gas station—yay! Pull off, pay the toll, get to pumps and turn off the truck. Breathe. This sucks.

Pop the hood. Not! I fight with hood. Mechanic fights with hood. 2 men in camo fight with hood. Young wanna be stud fights with hood. I start truck out of frustration to show the mechanic what the oil gauge is doing. It does nothing. It’s normal. I bang head on steering wheel.

It doesn’t sound bad. The gauge is working. Quick! Let’s get it home. Crawl out of the gas station and back onto the turnpike. Everything seems ok. The guage is fine. The sounds are fine. Hmmm… thank you, Murphy?

Then the gauge does this neat fluttering trick. The heavens open up and it starts raining. The gauge bottoms out and the ticking starts again. I swear under my breath and clench my jaw and the steering wheel, thinking “2 hours… I can do this for 2 hours.” And the peanut gallery begins his interrogation.

“What happens if there’s no oil.”  Ok, we’ll put this in simple terms for him, right?

“The engine blows up.”

“Blows up?”

“Well, yeah. No oil equals no lube equals gears grinding and angry engine stopping.”

“Stopping like it just turns off and we coast, or stopping like the engine falls out and we go flipping into the ditch?”

“Ummm… so what’s on your iPod, any movies?”

He knew the tactic. And in turn, I learned that my son works just like I do—when there’s undue stress that you can’t control and someone else is dealing with it, take a nap! He was unconscious within minutes… just like I did to the Hippie on a previous trip when the horrible lightning storm was making me nervous.

Crawl my sorry ass and broken truck home. Pull in and just breathe. Nugget comes running out to greet us and I give her a huge squeeze.

“So, it appeared we’ll be spending Easter with you… is that ok?”  I think she screamed “yes” or something, there were giggles and volume, that’s all I know for sure. Sauce never did come out. Eventually, a Hippie came strolling from the house. He had the same look on his face that my father would have had. He acted just like my father. He was all business. “Tell me what happened again. ”

We covered everything again and I showed him the video George took on her phone—yes, that image up top is real. We smoked. I called the mechanic and made an appointment for today. Emailed and called my mom & sister to cancel my participation at the party. Emailed & texted old friends that I won’t get to see after all. My cute sniffle turned into a horrible head cold, so I took NyQuil and said F. U. to the day from hell.

Murphy is still a bitch, the Universe still has a wicked left hook, and sometimes “check gauges” isn’t a metaphor. Sorry Julz, Joans & ChiChi. I’ll catch you all next time. Oh… and Happy Birthday, Mom!

ps. Just as I’m about to post this, the mechanic calls, “How do I open the hood?”

Agrabah

Ah, Salaam and good evening to you worthy friend. Please, please, come closer…  Welcome to Agrabah, city of mystery, of enchantment, and the finest merchandise this side of the river Jordan—on sale today, come on down! Heh, heh. Look at this! Yes! Combination hookah and coffee maker… Oh wait, this isn’t Agrabah. It’s still the internet, it’s still a blog, and even though there’s a genie of sorts involved and java in Aladdin, this is not a Disney film, this is coffee talk!

Let’s play an old game… three wishes, and ixnay on wishing for more wishes! I’m not a high maintenance girl. I don’t really care about name brands and shiny things. Lately, I’ve been chanting my wishes like a mantra in hopes the universe would notice little ol’ me among the throngs. I knew my three wishes: Find a job, find a house, be happy. Unfortunately, much like my to-do lists, wishes are often crossed off when obtained, only to make room for whatever the next thing might be—cross off one, add two. I got the house, I got the job, and I’ll be damned… I’m happy. So what do I wish for now? hmmm… I’ve got some ideas.

What about you? What are your three wishes, right now. Not next week, not next year, but right now. What three things would make your world a shinier place if the universe provided? And remember… be careful what you wish for!

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