Sunday, July 29, 2012

Wake Up Call

The rooster crows early and all day long and I am up with him before my alarm.  He runs from me now but I wait for him to turn one day and protect his hens, for me to be the one to run.  His imposing stance, the spiked comb, flapping wings and arched neck, his dominance over the others is clear.  I know the rooster at a glance.

There is also an oddball among them this year.  She resembles the others slightly and then diverges to her own breed.  She is quiet, submissive, I assume she'll lay.

I think I have a motley crew.  They are healthy enough and then there is the white one from last year whose legs are white too.  Was she always this way?  I can't remember, I don't think so.  A chicken's version of gray hair maybe.  She lays well.

And so we wait for new eggs.  The little, half-sized ones that surprise though we expect them and let out "aww's" at their cuteness.  I wait too for the rooster to come at me with ferocity and a frenzy of feathers and wonder what I'll do when he does.

We can see summer's end now.  We mark it with the close of camps and vacations and chickens about to lay and SCHOOL written in big letters on the calendar.  I stand in hot baseball tryouts and schedule piano lessons and gymnastics.  We savor last days at the pool and wonder about teachers.  The baseballer is nervous today and I for him but this is the life from which we cannot shy away.  It is here, right now in front of us to be missed if we let it slip by out of fear or apathy or inattention.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


I wave at all the cars when I run.  I used to be about a fifty percent waver and tried to save my energy for those I thought would wave back but I found out quickly there's no way to predict a wave.  I also figured I was being stingy with my cordiality.  But not being a Southerner, nor hailing from a rural area I wasn't sure what to do.  I'd not read the manual on proper wave etiquette or how to pronounce "egg", "oil" or "water" the Southern way, or learned in school that the South had really won the war.  I am and always will be what my husband reminds me I am:  a foreigner.  Besides, sure non-wavers were waving right and left and that messed up my system.  Now I always stick up a hand.

Folks in trucks are usually good for a wave, women are typically unreliable unless they know me, teenagers aren't much better, they're usually too busy speeding, talking or texting to pay attention.  I run by a very busy still segregated country church whose patrons have yet to wave.  On the contrary, farmers always wave.  Doesn't matter if they're in the manure trucks, the hay trucks, on tractors, sprayers, you name it... Farmers.  Wave.

I sometimes run by a kid on his dirt bike who waves like crazy and tells me to say hello to my son.  We have a little back and forth and I tell him I will and then forget about half the time.  The sweat and pounding takes something out of a person.  The up and down jostles my memories and stirs them up and spits them out.  They leak through my pores with the sweat.

Heathen that I am, I was running instead of going to church Sunday morning, waving at all the churchgoers with their hands stuck to their seats and steering wheels.  One lady was reading the newspaper while I was looking for God out there in the steam on the road with the cows and the dogs and the old farms, running down the middle of the road the way I like.  I had started much too late and it took all I had to make it seven miles as the temperature climbed toward a hundred.

Truth is, I don't really want to see anyone on the road, less opportunity for judgement.  You're either too fat, too skinny, your butt jiggles, your form is off or you're crazy for running in the dead heat of summer.  Or maybe you should be in church instead of out there on the road with the bicyclists.  Everyone has an opinion, especially the non-runners.

I have my own:  there's more to be learned from personal challenges and either failure or triumph than putting forth no effort at all.  And solitude, seven miles and no headphones is a good time for coming to terms with oneself, even if it takes repeated attempts.  Come to think of it, maybe some folks don't want to see me either.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


I panicked in the nail salon.  My girls had begged me for months to take them and I had finally relented.  Nervous and not knowing what to do I took them to the young receptionist, put my hands on their heads and said, "two children's manicures please".  She motioned for them to pick out the color they wanted and then to each have a seat.  I fixed a fake smile and pretended to be interested as I helped them choose their colors.  Relieved when my part was over I sat down to wait.  The chemical smell was overpowering and stung the inside of my nose, the back of my throat and I was sure I could feel it singeing my brain, right behind my temples.  I imagined it would give me cancer if I stayed too long and felt immediate pity for the women who worked there.  I glanced around and saw them as some sort of overlooked, socially accepted slave trade and I'm pretty sure it showed on my face.  Overworked and underpaid, managed by some fat cat man who, for this particular salon, happend to be on vacation for the next "month or so", I overheard the receptionist tell someone who walked in.  I saw the polish on the wall and all the money in the drawer that pays for its application as going to fund his lavish vacation to his homeland and my stomach knotted even tighter.  I texted my husband for comfort.  No response.  I texted a friend to lift me from my spiral of misery.  She called.  Her cackle of laughter filled my ear and I had to step outside so no one could hear what I was about to say.  (Sweet relief from that god-awful smell!)

"That is so funny!" she said.  "What the hell are you doing in a nail salon?"  I filled her in on the details, how I felt I was depriving the girls of some girl-thing I was supposed to allow them to participate in and how if I didn't I'd end up screwing them up somehow but that I wanted no part of it.  "I bet if you stuck your feet in that tub and had a really good pedicure you'd enjoy it," she said.

"No way, no how.  No one's messing with my feet, no thank you.  But now I know what to get you for Christmas."  What I hadn't told her and what had set my heart to racing and made me feel the most like running out of the place in a full sprint screaming wasn't just the manicure, the thought of the sweat-shop-like stereotype I'd imagined (whether that's true or not), the focus on vanity and creating a facade, it was all of those things combined plus one more.  After a few minutes of sitting and waiting a second receptionist walked in, the shift relief for the first.  The two girls stood uncomfortably close, face to face over the podium at the front in a soft, friendly, sweet conversation.  They were young, teenagers, pretty and obviously good friends, perhaps even sisters or cousins.  I could feel their bond from where I sat.  It was pure, innocent and uninhibited, like watching music.  I squirmed in my seat.  Fire went up my back and into my cheeks.  Intimacy such as that between two females was so foreign and unnerving that I was on the one hand envious and the other terrified.  The past immediately reached forward through space and time to taunt me and I was ashamed about all I hadn't learned.  The phone had rung at just the right time, my easy escape and ironically it was my old friend who knows practically everything about me.  Fortunately I lived through the experience and my daughters had a wonderful time except for one thing.  As we walked through the parking lot to leave my youngest asked, "Mommy?  Why didn't you get your nails done?  Next time you have to."