Friday, December 19, 2008

I’m sitting in the Hard Bean Coffee Shop in the historic Annapolis harbor, just after 7am. I’ve dropped my young diva off at St. John’s College for the first of her ten holiday shows. I’ve never been down here for coffee in the morning. It’s a different crowd: fewer tourists, more regulars.

This brick town looks pretty at Christmastime. There’s a big lighted tree in the traffic roundabout, the masts of the sailboats bobbing in the harbor behind them. Windows are hung with red-bowed wreathes. Shop windows with white lights seductively display their best dressed gift ideas. The city has covered the parking meters with festive red bags, gift wrapping free parking for the holiday shoppers. A red bow passes the window on the neck of a big yellow retriever pulling a nautical matron.

I noticed a sign posted in the window that I knew you’d want to see for tomorrow’s Santa Speedo Run. Apparently tomorrow, a battalion of scantily clad Santas will be enjoying a brisk mile jog through Annapolis’ historic district.

Although the run is at 2, registration begins two hours prior accompanied with “libations.” At 1:45, participants will “strip down and file out to the street.”

The fine print of the poster has some advice:
Obviously a Speedo-like bathing suit is required. Women, bathing suit (2-piece if possible, but not mandatory.) Holiday colors are preferred. Please, no thongs! We know you have the body to pull it off, so why prove what’s obvious? Santa hat, beard and other holiday flair at your discretion.

I hate to miss it, but perhaps some things are better left to the imagination.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I am going to cheat today. I was sent this lovely, unattributed holiday story in an e-mail. I hope it warms your heart as it did mine.

Christmas with Louise

As a joke, my brother used to hang a pair of panty hose over his
fireplace before Christmas. He said all he wanted was for Santa to fill
them. What they say about Santa checking the list twice must be true
because every Christmas morning, although Jay's kids' stockings were
overflowed, his poor pantyhose hung sadly empty.
One year I decided to make his dream come true. I put on sunglasses and
went in search of an inflatable love doll. They don't sell those things
at Walmart. I had to go to an adult bookstore downtown.
If you've never been in an X-rated store, don't go. You'll only confuse
yourself. I was there an hour saying things like, "What does this do?"
"You're kidding me!" "Who would buy that?" Finally, I made it to the
inflatable doll section. I wanted to buy a standard, uncomplicated doll
that could also substitute as a passenger in my truck so I could use the
car pool lane during rush hour.
Finding what I wanted was difficult. "Love Dolls" come in many different
models. The top of the line, according to the side of the box, could do
things I'd only seen in a book on animal husbandry. I settled for
"Lovable Louise." She was at the bottom of the price scale.
To call Louise a "doll" took a huge leap of imagination. On Christmas
Eve and with the help of an old bicycle pump, Louise came to life. My
sister-in-law was in on the plan and let me in during the wee morning
Long after Santa had come and gone, I filled the dangling pantyhose with
Louise's pliant legs and bottom. I also ate some cookies and drank what
remained of a glass of milk on a nearby tray. I went home, and giggled
for a couple of hours.
The next morning my brother called to say that Santa had been to his
house and left a present that had made him VERY happy but had left the
dog confused. She would bark, start to walk away, then come back and
bark some more. We all agreed that Louise should remain in her panty
hose so the rest of the family could admire her when they came over for
the traditional Christmas dinner.
My grandmother noticed Louise the moment she walked in the door. "What
the hell is that?" she asked. My brother quickly explained, "It's a
doll." "Who would play with something like that?" Granny snapped. I had
several candidates in mind, but kept my mouth shut.
"Where are her clothes?" Granny continued.
"Boy, that turkey sure smells nice, Gran," Jay said, to steer her into
dining room.
But Granny was relentless. "Why doesn't she have any teeth?"
Again, I could have answered but why would I? It was Christmas and no
one wanted to ride in the back of the ambulance saying, "Hang on Granny,
hang on!"
My grandfather, a delightful old man with poor eyesight, sidled up to me
and said, " Hey, who's the naked gal by the fireplace?" I told him she
was Jay's friend. A few minutes later I noticed Grandpa by the mantel,
talking to Louise. Not just talking, but actually flirting. It was then
that we realized this might be Grandpa's last Christmas at home. The
dinner went well. We made the usual small talk about who had died, who
was dying, and who should be killed, when suddenly Louise made a noise
like my father in the bathroom in the morning. Then she lurched from the
pantyhose, flew around the room twice, and fell in a heap in front of
the sofa.
The cat screamed. I passed cranberry sauce through my nose, and Grandpa
ran across the room, fell to his knees, and began administering
mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. My brother fell back over his chair and
wet his pants. Granny threw down her napkin, stomped out of the room,
and sat in the car.
It was indeed a Christmas to treasure and remember. Later in my
brother's garage, we conducted a thorough examination to decide the
cause of Louise's collapse. We discovered that Louise had suffered from
a hot ember to the back of her right thigh. Fortunately, thanks to a
wonder drug called duct tape, we restored her to perfect health.
As each of you gather with your family during the holiday season may the
thought of this bring a smile to your face.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My kids have been up to some fun activities. Topping the list was last weekend's Light-a-Boat Parade in Annapolis.
40 something sail and power boats went all out, decorating their boats for the holidays and sailed them in and out of Ego Alley right at the historic downtown docks of Annapolis. They entered with the Sea Scouts and even spent the night on their boat in the harbor. How fun, eh? They are on the smaller boat with the blue lights and the Santa in the fedora.

Monday, December 15, 2008

I should be doing so many other things right now. My guess is, you should be too, eh? But hey, all work and no play....

After reading the Washington Post today, I was thinking of "Farewell Kisses."

Surely you've heard the story about an Iraqui journalist throwing his shoes at George W, while shouting, "This is your farewell kiss!" A horrible insult with a comic dimension to it from Western eyes. I understand that it is a terrible insult in the Iraqui culture, but I admire someone who can so clearly express their emotions in a relatively non-violet way. I'm sure he'll face serious consequences; of course he should. I can't imagine anyone hassling him in jail over it though. I'm curious to see what happens to the guy.

I have rarely felt moved to be so demonstrative. Once or twice though.... But who could inspire me to hurl my Birkenstocks? I bet the gesture would be a great release! So much more emphatic than just giving someone the finger. I'll have to remember that one.

I wonder what will happen to that pair of shoes. Will he get them back? I guess they will be entered as evidence. I wonder if the shoe will fit the assailant?

Have you ever been mad enough to throw your shoes at someone? Looking back, can you think of a time or two when you wish you would have though of it?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I've been meaning to tell you all the things I love about yoga and my dear instructor, Linna.

Yoga makes me feel relaxed, strong, and healthy. I credit yoga with my recovery from my broken ankle over a year ago. Yoga is cheaper than physical therapists and massage therapists, although there are times when those are necessary. I feel as if I've had a massage after yoga. I've stretched muscles that I didn't even know I had.

I've been going to Linna yoga classes, the ones she holds in the sanctuary of our church, for about two years now, or has it been three? I am learning about how to line up my chakras and lock my mulabhanda. I know how to do many animal poses: dog, pigeon, eagle, dolphin, fish, cat, camel, monkey, and one of my favorites - child. I love the warrior poses. They make me feel powerful and beautiful.

Linna describes the exact position of each body part with clarity and creativity. For example, she told us to hold out our hand as if we were offering someone a cookie, but she added, "it's your cookie. You can take it back when you want to."

Sometimes I'm going right along with the pose and then she describes something impossible. I think, you can't do that! But then I look around and there are people in the room doing it. Amazing.

Sometimes I have twisted up into a pretzel and she says, "Now relax and enjoy the pose." Really? But over time, I am learning to find comfort in these challenges, learning to breathe and let go, learning to honor my body.

Even after three years, Linna introduces new poses that surprise me. I realize I am only beginning to learn the secrets of this practice. But there's no rush. Linna is a patient guide. She doesn't overload. She reminds us not to ruin our poses with trying to achieve too much. There's no prize for bending the farthest or holding the pose the longest.

Although I love the tranquility of Linna's beautiful home studio, I do love practicing yoga in the sanctuary. When I am able to quiet my monkey mind and meditate, I can feel the power of the spirits that have been opened in that room. It may sound crazy, but I can feel the earth spinning underneath me. I feel my place in the universe and all those ad contracts, the laundry, the carpools, they all fade - at least for those few moments when I feel connected to the universe. In the quite of yoga, I can focus on one of the religious symbols in the room, or the rough stone wall, and consider God, often more powerfully and deeply than I ever do in formal religious services.

Now, I take my yoga with me. Or maybe I should say yoga tugs at my sleeve all the time. When I'm stuck in traffic, I practice yoga. When I have a few moments between tasks at home, I breathe deep and swan dive, feeling the benefits of the stretch and the changing flow of my circulation. I have taught some poses to my children as I have seen they have needed them.

If you haven't ever tried yoga, I hope you put it on your list of things to try. Although I often feel the effort in my muscles the next day, anyone can do yoga because it is so flexible to your needs. My 70 year old father enjoys yoga. I've seen our preacher at yoga in his street clothes, like he was still working in his office and just decided enough was enough. My fellow yogis are all ages, shapes, and sizes. Linna makes sure each of her students can find their own personal level of benefit.

There's more I could tell you about Linna and her many offerings that have improved my life, but this post is getting long enough. I'll tell you more later. Or you can check out her blog or website. I hope you all have someone like Linna in your life who brings you health and peace and strength.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Boy can December get busy!
Mom posted a great description of my little one's chorus performance at the Kennedy Center. The Ex had the best seats and got this great picture for me. She's smiling at her grandma and siblings who were "embarrassing." Looks like she's enjoying their shenanigans in the balcony.

My oldest daughter got her first real job as a hostess and food runner in a nearby restaurant (of course, adding another shift to my taxi schedule.) Her initial adorable anxieties brought back memories of first days on other jobs I've had.

I got fired - very publicly, from my first job as a telephone interviewer. Seems they needed to make an example of the caller who was interviewing the wrong respondent. I was about my daughter's age because it was before I could drive and I had to call my mom to come get me. I remember sitting out on the curb after getting yelled at in front of all my co-workers. What a memorable misery.

Another early career catastrophe came as a waitress at Bob's Big Boy. I was much more experienced and mature - probably 17. It was a busy Saturday and the orange juice fountain ran dry. I quickly looked in the walk-in and found a big tub of already mixed OJ and refilled the fountain, serving the first glass to my customer. He quickly - and angrily - called me back over, wondering what kind of sick person I was to serve him raw eggs in his juice glass.

You know, eggs can get real frothy in one of those fountains. Boy were a lot of folks mad about that mistake! And was it ever hard to clean up that error.

Any stories from your earliest employment endeavors?