Wednesday, February 3, 2016

How I Almost Flashed The Fire Department



                                                                           


I originally wrote this story almost five years ago when one son was still in college and the other was in law school. Though they've grown into confident young men, I'm still as insecure as I've always been which brings us to Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group. Be sure to visit this talented group of welcoming writers.

    How I Almost Flashed The Fire Department

As I eagerly awaited my boys arrival for summer break, I did a quick sweep of their bedrooms, and went to check on the condition of their bathroom. It desperately needed a mini makeover. A couple of fresh coats of paint, and a power wash for the tile, and the bathroom would be ready just in time for them to turn it into a frat house. 

The next day the painter arrived on time, and everything was going smoothly. The walls required sand blasting, because they needed to smooth down the stenciled cowboy designs I had painted in 1994. Hey, I didn't want their delicate noses to inhale dangerous paint fumes, and I also didn't want them to develop a taste for beer, before they were even double digits. Now was the perfect time for a change; while still keeping  their allergies at bay. All was calm, until the smoke alarm sounded off.  

After I turned the alarm off, I called the alarm company to tell them that the sand blasting must have tripped it. They told me that the firefighters were already on their way. Before I hung up, two fire trucks were in front of my house. I nervously apologized, and they were very gracious and understanding.

Two days later, our handyman was scheduled to clean, re-grout, and seal their  bathroom tile. He came a half hour early, before I had taken my shower.  While he was working in one bathroom, I was showering in the other.  As I was drying off, I heard faint beeping sounds. I quickly put on a faded pink towel robe that was fastened by an unreliable Velcro panel, and opened up my bedroom door. Now the noise was growing louder, and I ran into the hallway to turn off the alarm. Then I frantically flew down the stairs to get the phone number of the alarm company. I was so relieved to have reached them in time. Now I needed to head back upstairs to get dressed.  

After I put one sock on, the siren sounded off again. I quickly fled down the stairs, to look up the access code. Then I remembered that the handyman's assistant was working nearby in the first floor bathroom. He pretended not to see me, but I know he also caught  a glimpse of my towel robe, gently brushing up against my single tube sock. Meanwhile, the head handyman was trying to clean all of the dust out of the smoke detector, as I was coming up the stairs. Once it was put back together, my Groundhog Morning started up again. 

Before the fire department graced our doorstep again, I held on tightly to my repulsive robe, and pleaded with one of the handymen to  go outside and apologize for wasting their valuable time. Then I finally convinced the alarm service to temporarily disarm the system. They told me that this whole incident could have been prevented, if the painter had covered the smoke detector with a plastic bag. I'm sure this ordeal made both handymen welcome their wives with a passionate embrace.

That evening my oldest son came home from school, and actually noticed that his bathroom had been painted. He liked the bold color of the accent wall that will serve as a constant reminder. It's just a shade deeper; a spicier version of fire truck red.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

IWSG: Calling for a Happy New Year


                                                                       


Welcome to the first Insecure Writer's Support Group of 2016. I would like to wish everyone a very Happy and Healthy New Year. The older I get the more I have trouble remembering who I called or sent New Year's wishes to. I'm also not sure exactly when the cut-off date is. Do I continue signing my emails Happy New Year through the end of January, or does it become annoying after the 15th? 

Hopefully, members of Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group  will be able to weigh in on the subject. In the meantime, I've done a little research of my own.

I noticed this year was more competitive than usual when it came to texting. Mini-me emoji cartoon texts were circulating and I had to get in on the action. When I thought I chose a fitting Happy New Year text complete with stars and sparklers, one of my friends texted back a look-a-like emoji bedazzled in an evening gown and pearls. It became a battle of the texts and those who couldn't create their own Frankenstein emojis fought back with killer family photos, or exotic vacation scenes. I decided to take a break from texting to make some actual phone calls.

Here's where my research comes in:

  • Father's Day is the busiest day for collect phone calls Snopes. 
  • "We found that Mother's Day is far and away the most popular day to place phone calls across the world, registering more calling traffic than any other holiday, including New Year's and Valentine's Day," according to Reuters.

On January 1st, I called my mom to see if she had a good time at the retirement home's New Year's Eve party. She said, "Are you kidding? Everyone went to bed by 8:30." Then we talked about what everyone wore and who got indigestion, until another call came in.  

Mom: I have another call, but I can't find the button.
Me: The call waiting or "Flash" button should be somewhere on the top of the phone. 
Mom: Nope, it doesn't have it.
Me: Of course it does. It's a brand new phone, and we showed you where it was before.
Mom: I'm telling you it doesn't.
Me: Maybe your caregiver can help you find it. Why don't you ask her?
(10 minutes later)
Mom: She can't find it. I'm telling you I don't have it.

Eventually Mom hung up the phone, and the person who was trying to reach her finally got through. It was my brother and yes he knew exactly where the call waiting button was.

Afterward, I went upstairs to relay the story to my husband. I was just about to unleash my frustrations when I heard him skype-shouting to his mother in Israel:

"I said Happy New Year, Ma! Can you hear me?" (He kept repeating this over and over at louder and louder decibels. Finally, I heard him shout to her caregiver) 

"Put the earpiece under her hat so she can hear me. (10 minutes later)  Okay, now put it in her ear."

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

IWSG: The Ups and Downs of Elevator Etiquette


Mom celebrating her birthday with her grandsons; beloved son, and uncaring daughter

It's hard to believe that this is the final IWSG post of 2015. I'd like to thank Alex J. Cavanaugh for four wonderful years of hosting the Insecure Writer's Support Group, and encourage everyone to visit the rest of the talented bloggers. 



 Before Thanksgiving my mom hadn't been feeling well, so I told her that I was worried about her. She responded, "You don't worry enough."

We also had a discussion about the Barnes and Noble commercial with Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga.

                                                                 hollywoodreporter.com

My mom loves the commercial, and couldn't get over how wonderful Tony Bennett looks. She asked, "Did you see his mask?"

When I tried to explain that he wasn't wearing a mask she didn't believe me. I told her he must have a fabulous plastic surgeon, and that the photographer probably used a special lens on his camera, and other tricks with lighting. After she still didn't believe me, I started second guessing myself, and Googled everything I could find about the commercial. And people wonder why I don't have time to blog.

The next day, she told me that he wasn't wearing a mask after all. When I asked her what made her change her mind, she replied matter-of-factly, "Your brother told me."

Last Sunday we celebrated my mom's birthday by going downtown to see the holiday decorations, and have dinner. This had been the first time that my mom had seen her grandsons' apartment since they moved over the summer.

They frantically cleaned to make sure it would pass inspection, and my mom only found fault with a shower curtain that was in perfect condition, but it was "nothing special." Of course, I bought that shower curtain for one of their housewarming gifts.

There's never a dull moment in my family. My brother can always turn everything into a learning experience. Since my older son works in one of the tallest buildings in the city, and both boys live in a highrise apartment he's been teaching them proper elevator etiquette. For some reason, my husband has always been a first out of the elevator, first in the buffet line kind of guy, but my brother has taken both my boys under his wing with this task. After a few quick elevator drills, we worked up an appetite for dinner. 

Later while my husband was getting the car, we went back to their apartment to pick up my mom's birthday present.  Then a large unkempt man sporting pajamas while out walking his dog, joined us in the elevator. We all noticed that he had pressed a higher button, and tensions mounted, as we tried to silently plan an exit strategy with my mom's wheelchair through his massive structure and canine companion. 

When we reached our destination, the man and his dog walked out of the elevator, and politely held the door open so we could safely disembark. We thanked the kind gentleman who had passed the elevator etiquette test with flying colors. 

As we were heading down the elevator, we ran into an old neighbor who was very nicely dressed. I told her we were out celebrating my mom's birthday. She raved about how lovely she looked, and proceeded to ask her age. My mom's expression quickly changed, and she said that we had to hurry to the car, because my husband was waiting for us. That woman had failed the elevator etiquette test big time.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

IWSG: Oops Mom's Done it Again


                                                                       
 


It's time for another monthly meeting with Alex J. Cavanaugh's  Insecure Writer's Support Group, where writer's unleash their inner fears about everything from publishing problems to meddling moms.

Shortly after I began writing for a local online news website, some of my friends and family congratulated me. My mom said she was proud and excited for me, but I could tell that something else was on her mind. When I asked what was bothering her she replied, "Don't your blogging friends miss your stories about me?"

Here's what happened a few days later during a phone conversation:

ENI:  Mom, I just wanted you to know that I have a phone interview in a few minutes, so if you need to call me back, please wait at least an hour.

Mom: What if it's important?

ENI:  Is there anything important that you'd like to discuss now?

Mom:  I can't think of anything.

ENI:  Okay, then if you think of something else, just hold onto that thought for an hour until I'm done.

She agreed, and called me back fifteen minutes later during the interview to tell me about a great new movie.

Another instance occurred when Mom called while I was on the other line with a friend. I told her that I would call her back soon. Twenty minutes later, she was slightly agitated that I hadn't returned her call. I explained that I was still talking to my friend.

Mom took it well, and said, "I'm sorry that I'm only your mother and you can't find time to even talk to me on the phone. I'm sorry to bother you. I'll be fine. Goodbye."

Recently, I was out with my mom, and I checked my phone for messages. I immediately responded by emailing my editor, and followed-up with a call to the city manager's office.

My mom sat waiting with a drink and a snack while I finished my brief phone call. Then she said, "Why did you have to get back to them right away? Why are you such a pushover? I don't know why you let people take advantage of you like that."


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

IWSG: Lost and Found this Summer





Let's begin where we left off in July when our sons were moving in together. and I was lost in my empty nest. Shortly before the big move, I found a wonderful position as a reporter for a community news website that covers the North Shore suburbs of Chicago, Daily North Shore.  Selected stories are also featured in a weekend print edition.

I spent the rest of the summer losing and finding my way back again. Fortunately, Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group, always welcomes us back with open arms.

Last month I was at the library researching an upcoming event when I found myself heading over to the local author book shelf.  I was very impressed to learn that William Goldman the author of A Princess Bride, Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, and All The President's Men, is also from Highland Park, IL. I couldn't believe that our little poetry anthology shared the same shelf space with this two-time academy award winner.

I combed through the section a few times, and Old Broads Waxing Poetic  was nowhere to be found. Suddenly, my whole life flashed before my eyes. Someone had actually checked it out. I wanted to personally thank this person for selecting our book, and find out what they did and didn't like about it. Okay, I just wanted to hear the first part.

I decided to approach the librarian. I explained that I couldn't find the book, and asked her to check the return file. She insisted that the book was still on the shelf, and we searched for it a second time together. Then it hit me. The library was selecting a book of the month for the upcoming fall poetry readings. Surely our book was under consideration, and put in a special place for safe keeping. I kept that thought to myself, as the librarian continued her search.

Finally, she decided not to mince words, "The book is missing. No one has checked it out. I've never seen anything like this before. It's simply lost."

I don't remember if I laughed, cried or a little bit of both, but I do know that I found my way home in one piece.



Wednesday, July 1, 2015

IWSG: Back To The Empty Nest Again



One might call my older son a prince among men, as he and his little brother will shortly be moving in together. Though the boys were four years apart in school, I couldn't be happier that they get along so well. Of course, now that my younger son is officially leaving the nest after moving back in with us when he graduated from college last year, all of my insecurities are starting to pile up again.


This brings us to Alex J. Cavanaugh's, Insecure Writer's Support Group, a safe haven for bloggers to release their inner fears to an encouraging  and resourceful group of writers from all over the world. 


After my younger son moves out, some of my deepest fears include:

  • Who will side with me when my husband and I have an argument?
  • Who will watch my favorite shows with me when a sporting event is on TV?
  • Who will make me the best hot fudge I've ever tasted on sundae night? 

  • Okay, I made up the first two, but he really does make the best hot fudge, though he only makes it on rare occasions now, as his favorite saying about eating anything unhealthy is, "I'm not going to put that in my body."

    Both of my sons have big hearts, and are always there to help out in any situation. Whether my younger son is teaching me core strengthening exercises to help my back, or my older son is helping me troubleshoot with my computer on the phone while he's in the middle of work, I can always count on them.

                                                                     

    When they invited my husband and me to go apartment hunting with them, they promised that we'll often be invited over after they move in. We are extremely proud of the young men our sons have become, and their close relationship is the greatest gift of all. Though the fact that they're looking to hire a cleaning lady, who isn't me, is an added bonus.


    *Note - I'll be taking an extended blogging break to help our sons move, and to work on a new project. I really appreciate all of the support that everyone's given me throughout the years. I'll try my best to visit during the next several days. Wishing everyone a wonderful 4th of July weekend, and I hope to see you all at the end of the summer.


    Tuesday, June 23, 2015

    The Fools of the Road

                                                                                     
    shivajavarma.wordpress.com


    Recently, we were driving into the city for dinner with another couple. We were seated Flintstone style with Fred and Barney in the front, and Wilma and Betty in the back. All of a sudden, a car that didn't have its headlights on started to pass us. I encouraged our friend to signal the driver by honking or flashing his lights. He simply ignored my suggestions, as he and my husband continued their conversation.

    On the way home, another incident occurred. This happened on the expressway while Fred was trying to change lanes. The two hot rods were going head to head to prove who was King Of The Road, and our friend was determined not to let this young punk take over his title. As Wilma and I were hanging on for dear life, Fred and Barney were conspiring to teach this guy a lesson.

    After we knew we were out of danger, I brought up dinner, and maybe a bit of lunch, before I said, "What's the matter with you Fred, and Barney? You boys are just as guilty. How can two grown men with families waste all this time drag racing with a maniac, when you couldn't even help another driver who forgot to turn on his lights?"

    Then Fred replied matter-of-factly, "That guy was just playing a twisted game. He purposely drove without his lights on, so that the first person who flashed his lights would become a moving target for them to shoot. How could I risk getting us all killed?"

    Barney said that he had also heard stories about those gang related shootings. I told them the whole thing sounded absolutely ridiculous, and that by signaling to the driver it could prevent future accidents. The subject quickly changed, and Fred had us all laughing the rest of the way home.

    The next morning, I was rummaging through the Sunday paper when something interesting caught my eye. I grabbed my husband, as we called our friends to tell them to pull out the Motormouth Rides section of the Chicago Tribune. Coincidentally, someone else  was reluctant to help drivers who didn't have their lights on for the very same reason that Fred had mentioned. This was Bob Weber's (Motormouth) response:

    "This is an urban legend that, as far as I could find, goes back to 1993. Despite such stories bouncing around, this is not part of a gang initiation. Please don't let unfounded rumors prevent you from being a good Samaritan."

    Fred and Barney were also surprised to read this article only a day after the incident had occurred. Hopefully, this will result in them becoming more courteous drivers, instead of acting out their road rage. At least they both said, "You were right Julie, I mean Betty." I think "You are right," is the new "I love you."


    *A repost from March 2014.