Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Worst Are Full of Passionate Intensity

She lives in a bushy area of the sidewalk next to a four lane road that we travel every day on the way to The Rooster's school.

Her four shopping carts are filled with plastic garbage bags and storage tubs.

She is always wearing a sweat stained, gray t-shirt, blue jeans and a backwards baseball cap.

Her carts and belongings are often strewn up and down the sidewalk in front of the U-Store-It facility, one of the nicer business establishments on this lonely, industrial stretch.

I'm puzzled by her presence there. She's alone, far from downtown - way out in the county.

The only things nearby are a grocery store, a funeral home and, about a mile up the road, there's a small county hospital.

Every morning and every afternoon my children look for her and ask about her.

Why is she always there? Why doesn't she have a home? What does she do when it rains?

I have found myself wondering lately if we should stop and offer help. Maybe the children would learn something about compassion...

We've yet to stop. I'm tentative, hesitant.

Though the organization I work for serves the homeless, my focus has always been on youth and education.

I don't have any direct experience with this issue.

At first, I think it's the approach that worries me.

What would I say?

I visualize myself trying.

First, I find somewhere to park my ridiculous mini-van, unbuckle my children from their car seats and march the three of us over to her like the Von Trapp family.

And then what?

What if it all goes horribly wrong in front of my kids?

I can think of a thousand reasons not to approach her.

Morning and afternoon we pass her and I finally realize why I've been stuck on this one.

I've been thinking about stopping for all the wrong reasons.

This homeless woman isn't there to teach my children a lesson.

If I can't stop and offer her help simply because she might need it, then I shouldn't bother stopping at all.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Why My Husband Is So Darned Appealing

When he receives obvious spam, like this...

-----Original Message-----
From: Maria Levy Mwanawasa []
Sent: Monday, August 16, 2010 3:17 PM

Subject: Hello

Hello Dear,

I know this mail will come to you as a surprise since we haven't discuss it before, but kindly bear with me at this moment. I have a special reason why I wrote you first in the dating site. My situation at hand is miserable but I trust in God and hope you will be of my help. My name is Maria Levy Mwanawasa. I am 22 years old and I held from Zambia, I am the daughter of late President Levy Mwanawasa, the former President of Zambia. My beloved father died on the 19th of August, 2008 in the French Hospital after he was hospitalized for a stroke. well, You can read more detail about they death of my late father here.

I am constrained to contact you because of the maltreatment which I am receiving from my step mother and my uncle. They both planned to take away all my late father's treasury and properties from me since the unexpected death of my beloved Father. Meanwhile I wanted to travel to Europe, but she hides away my diplomatic passport and other valuable documents. Luckily she did not discover where I kept my father's File which contained important documents.I am presently staying in the Mission camp in Burkina Faso. I am seeking for long-term relationship and investment assistance.

My father of blessed memory deposited the sum of $6.4Million US Dollars in a local bank in Burkina Faso with my name as the next of kin. I had contacted the Bank to claim the deposit but the Branch Manager whom I met in person told me that being a refugee my status does not permit and according to the local law and the agreement between my late father and the bank does not authorize me to carry out the operation. However, he advised me to provide a trustee who will stand on my behalf. Please I need your Assistance in this regard. I had wanted to inform my stepmother Mrs. Maureen Mwanawasa about this deposit but I am afraid that she will not offer me anything after the release of the money. Therefore, I decide to seek for your help in transferring the money into your bank account in your country or any safer place. while I will relocate to your country and settle down with you.

It is my intention to compensate you with 30% of the total money for your assistancend the balance shall be my investment in any profitable venture which you will recommend to me as I have no any idea about foreign investment.

Please your kind reply is need and I beg you to maintain absolute privacy because my stepmother is seeking for me to provide infrmation on the account details for retrival of the money.

Yours Sincerely,

Maria Levy Mwanawasa.

He responds like this....

-----Original Message-----
From: K, Man of The House of Joy
Sent: Monday, August 16, 2010 3:28 PM
To: ''
Subject: [POSSIBLE SPAM] RE: Hello
Importance: Low

The poetry of this moment, this unbridled act of generosity, this happenstance is so incredible that I have broken out in song. I sing for the generosity of the human spirit. I sing for the good fortune you should choose me. I pray my words of thanks soar to the ears of God.

This luck is made more incredible by the unbelievable happenstance that I knew your father well. We spent many an evening relaxing after a fine meal on the patio of the presidential palace in Lusaka, discussing the human hardship in Zambia and in Africa. He demonstrated great insight into the human spirit and evinced such compassion. He remains a great hero of mine.

I weep knowing the cruelty you must endure at the pampered hands of your Uncle and step mother. Godspeed to you.

I will gladly share with you any and all personal information that might effectuate our happy business cooperation.

While it has been awhile, I think I can recall enough Bemba and Nyanja to offer my good wishes in your home tongues. "Zee pinga war galun ta fisna."


Monday, August 02, 2010

They Were Strangers to You

“Mommy, do you have a Dad?”

“Yes, Roo. Pop is my Dad.”

She was quiet, thinking.

“But Grandma Seattle un-married him.”

“They did get un-married,” I said, using her language, “but he’s still my Dad and she’s still my mom and they still love me the same as when they were married.”

She was quiet again.

“What did it feel like when they got unmarried,” she asked.

“What did it feel like to me? I was sad, I guess.”

“How was it sad?”

“Well, things weren’t the same.”

“Like what?”

“Well, like Christmas. We used to all have Christmas together, but after they decided not to be married, I had to choose where to spend Christmas – with Grandma Seattle or with Pop.”

“Who did you choose?” she asked.

“I took turns for awhile,” I said, “and now we all have Christmas with Grandma New York so I don’t have it with either of them.

“What did it feel like when you got a new Dad and a new Mom?” she asked.

“What do you mean by new mom and new dad, Roo?”

“What did it feel like when Grandma Seattle and Pop decided to marry other people?”

“You mean when Grandma Seattle married Mark and when Pop married Nana?”

She nodded.

How did it make me feel? I wondered what to say.

My mom’s (now-ex) second husband was both physically and emotionally abused as a child.

The bruises of his early years seemed to remain forever purpled beneath any cocksure hide he ever tried to wear.

I think my awareness of this made me more tolerant of him - especially at times when I otherwise I might have found myself impatient with the way he repeated things he’d already told me or came across as the foremost authority on whatever was being discussed.

What does it feel like, she asked...

My father’s wife talks a lot -- more when she’s nervous or anxious.

She’s often both nervous and anxious.

She’s kittens and rainbows to my sushi and gourmet coffee. We’re both clichés, but not necessarily complimentary ones.

My Dad’s wife has ideas about the way our ideal relationship should look.

I think she wishes I would let her to provide me with comfort and closeness like a second mom or at least a treasured confidant, but it’s not something I need or want from her.

I don’t feel that kind of connection and I don’t pursue it.

I think she routinely feels rejected and hurt by me though it is not my intention to make her feel that way.

I am grateful for the companionship and care she provides my father.

What did it feel like when they decided to marry someone else?” Roo wanted to know.

A long time passed as I struggled with how to respond.

“They were strangers to you,” she said, somehow finding the right words on her own.

It did feel like that, strangers suddenly part of my family.

“I don’t want that to happen,” she said in earnest.

“I don’t either,” I assured her.

My mind drifted to the impending separation of our close friends.

Soon they plan to tell their children, friends of our children, about their decision to separate.

We will have to talk about it with our kids too.

I will have to find the right words because while I support anyone's decision to end a marriage and trust that the choice has been made for good reason, I lament the way it causes the little ones to fret.