Outside the Window

 

Sitting in a meeting

Listening with intent

Suddenly, I notice

A more interesting event

 

Outside the window

Gnawing with delight

A squirrel with a treasure

Enjoying every bite

Squirrel 1

 

It becomes impossible to focus

On the meeting taking place

As I am drawn to this creature

Feasting on every taste

 

So, I stop the conversation

And all eyes turn toward me

I call everyone to the window

To check out the sight I see

 

Not sure what they expected

As they gazed out at the tree

But I realized at that moment

They weren’t as impressed as me

Advertisements

Grandma’s Ice Breakers

Living is a high rise means that you spend quite a bit of time riding in elevators.  I sometimes see familiar faces; however, usually I stand among strangers.

The time we spend together is often awkward as we count moments.  Usually, I find myself staring at the floor or watching the numbers descending overhead 15, 14, 13…2, almost there.

One of us may break the ice with a comment about the weather like, “Wow, sure is cold out there!”  The other nods and agrees.  “Keep warm.”  Such elevator talk is so dull and predictable.

My grandmother seemed to have an interesting way of breaking the ice during awkward moments.  I remember being a teenager traveling with her and my older brother on an Amtrak train heading from Chicago to Salt Lake City.  There were hours and hours spent smelling diesel and looking out the window at nothing but flat land racing past.

There we were all crammed into a train car with seats facing each other.  Suddenly, my grandma blurted out, “So, is anyone constipated?”  After a moment or two of being frozen with embarrassment, I replied, “What?  Why would you even ask such a question?” She looked rather bewildered and a little hurt and shared that she was only trying to make conversation.

Why couldn’t she just comment about the weather?

After all of these years, her memory has inspired me to try to be more creative with my elevator talk.

For instance, sometimes I say to a person getting off the elevator before me, “Thank you for joining us for the ride.” Breaking the silence during the ride with, “I’m so glad we have this quiet time together,” usually gets a chuckle or two.

It also makes the ride a little more fun when the doors open revealing a new person and I say, “Hey, need a lift?”  It is more fun riding with people who have smiles on their faces rather than blank stares at the floor.

Perhaps, I’m working my nerve up to someday blurt out, “By the way, is anyone constipated?”  After all, they say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

 

Our Roses

March #SOLC17 Day 22

sol[1]

We all have our favorite books.  One of mine is The Little Prince.  Actually, my best memory of reading it was in my high school religion class.  I chose it as the story that I would analyze and share my interpretations of the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

I don’t remember the details of my report or what grade I received.  However, I did walk-away from that exercise having a new perspective on the value of commitment and patience for those individuals that we care about.

“People where you live,” the little prince said, “grow five thousand roses in one garden… yet they don’t find what they’re looking for…  And yet what they’re looking for could be found in a single rose, or a little water…”

“Of course, an ordinary passerby would think my rose looked just like you. But my rose, all on her own, is more important than all of you together, since she’s the one I’ve watered. Since she’s the one I put under glass, since she’s the one I sheltered behind the screen. Since she’s the one for whom I killed the caterpillars (except the two or three butterflies).  Since she’s the one I listened to when she complained, or when she boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing at all. Since she’s my rose.”

The author’s lines about a garden of roses makes me think about the abundance of people in the world.  From afar, everyone looks pretty similar.  So, what makes certain folks so special in our own lives?  Of course, blood plays a role.  We don’t choose our family.  However, we do feel a special bond with some relatives more than others.

There are some friends and family members that we will protect from physical and emotional harm at all costs.  Even if we don’t agree on some issues in private, we will defend each other in public.

There are those for whom we overlook their faults because the gifts they bring to us are so much more important.  In fact, their ability to overlook our faults and misgivings time after time is rather spectacular.  We can even spend long periods of time in silence, yet we clearly know each other’s thoughts; therefore, words are unnecessary.

My favorite lines from Antoine de Saint-Exupery are when he wrote, “It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.  The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they are felt with the heart.”  More than 40 years after that religion class, I still stop and think about his words.

After all, what we love most about life is not our possessions or accolades, it is the care and compassion that we feel from others.   I am so grateful for those who treat me like their “rose under the glass.”  Moreover, I need to remember that what I appreciate most can be found in a single rose and a little water.

Tempting Fate!

March #SOLC17 Day 21

sol[1]I spend a great deal of time in the car driving on expressways.  My daily work commute, weekend activities, and visits to my mom involve a lot of back and forth between the city and the suburbs.

More than ever, I am starting to feel like I am tempting fate with each trip.  How can it be that so many drivers have forgotten the rules of the road?  Are texting and surfing on phones more important than being aware of the vehicles around you?

When I pull up alongside a car and see a person looking down at their phone, I usually toot my horn to bring them back to the task at hand – DRIVING!

I realize that people have places to go and things to do.  However, is their destination more important than mine?  Isn’t it a priority to arrive in one piece?  In the last couple of years, I have been rear-ended twice.  Both times the driver behind me was looking at his phone.

In a world where multi-tasking is routine, it is important to remember that some things need our full attention, and one of those is – DRIVING!

 

My American Idol

March #SOLSC17 Day 20

sol[1]

March 20, 1969, 48 years ago today, Janis Joplin and the Kozmic Blues band opened at Winterland in San Francisco.  Two days earlier, Janis appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. She had just left Big Brother & the Holding Company and was beginning her journey with a new band.

I’ll never forget the moment I heard “Piece of My Heart” for the first time!  It was a crisp Saturday morning in late September of 1968.  I was 10 years old.  I was at my friend, Kim’s house where I hung out regularly.  We were running through her kitchen where the radio was playing, heading up to her room when I heard “Come on, come on, now take it… take another little piece of my heart, now baby.”  I stopped dead in my tracks.

I had never heard a woman’s voice sound so rough and so bold.  A female rocker?  I ran to the K-Mart four blocks away and bought the album, Cheap Thrills.  That October, the album reached number one on the Billboard charts and remained there for eight consecutive weeks.  I listened to it over and over again.  My friends and I sang in front of the mirror with a makeshift microphone.

As the months passed, Janis became my favorite singer.  I never got to see her sing live. I was young and unfamiliar with the concert scene.   I am not sure if Janis ever even performed in Chicago.  It is also a pretty safe bet that my mom would have never allowed me to go to her concert anyway.

However, I watched clips of her performances on television.  On March 18, 1969, Janis made her debut on the Ed Sullivan Show.  That was when you knew someone made it to the big time.  That July Janis appeared for the first time on the Dick Cavett Show.  Again, my eyes were glued to the TV set. After all, everyone in America watched Ed Sullivan and Dick Cavett. Remember, there were only a few stations.  It wasn’t a hard sell.

On August 17, 1969, Janis took the stage at Woodstock at 2:00 A.M.  I watched the news clips later that week.  There was no one like her.

In 1970, she appeared two more times on Dick Cavett.  I was 12 years old and in the 7th grade.  I heard her tell Dick that she was going to go to her ten-year high school reunion in Port Arthur, Texas.  She said that she was despised by her classmates and town residents.  She was extremely mistreated, so she looked forward to going back as the person she was now.  How could anyone not adore her?

I never saw such an “in your face” woman before.  Janis became my idol.  I didn’t know about her drug problem.  I only knew that she was different.  She looked tough.  She exuded confidence.  She had talent.  She didn’t follow the stereotype of what a woman was “supposed” to act like.

On October 4, 1970 Janis was found dead at the Landmark Hotel in Los Angeles by her road manager.  I remember sitting at home on the couch, drinking a bottle of Coke, and eating Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (which would explain my weight problem today) when I heard the news report and felt the devastation run through my body.  My idol was dead.  How could this happen?  She was so young, so incredible!

Four months later, Janis Joplin’s album Pearl was released.  The record included, “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Mercedes Benz,” and “Get It While You Can”.  Again, her album was at the top of the charts for more than two months.  Once again, I made my usual trip to K-Mart to buy Pearl.  I listened to it over and over again.  Over the years, I repeatedly bought all of her albums on 8-Tracks, cassettes, and CD’s.

Still today, I belt out Janis’ songs as I drive down the road.  I wonder what it would be like if she had lived.  I know that I would have finally been able to see her in concert.  If I had the chance, I would have purchased a meet-and-greet.

I’ll never forget how she changed my view of women and their possibilities.  Janis helped me develop into an independent woman with confidence and drive.  Observing her on stage helped me break the image of a woman as helpless and dependent.  I wish that she were alive today so that I could tell her she impacted me.

 

Death of a Cannoli Salesman

March SOLSC17 Day 19

sol[1]

Did you ever want something so badly that you could taste it?  No pun intended, just because the word cannoli is in my title.

Well, a friend of ours, Vinnie, is about to do something that he has always wanted to accomplish, and I am so proud of him.

Vinnie is one of the most spectacular servers at City Winery.  Vinnie has a gigantic Italian heart!  He loves everyone he meets and becomes an endearing friend in just seconds.  Vinnie has been writing a play for years.  He spent most of his free time creating a script for a “someday” performance.

When Vinnie turned 35, he became very ill.  He found out he had Leukemia which is a cancer of the blood cells.  For a while it was touch and go.  He spent about a year in the hospital receiving treatments.  Finally, his disease went into remission, and he was able to spend the next year recovering from home.  While he was recuperating, Vinnie kept working on his play.

I think what pulled him through was Vinnie’s amazing, positive attitude.  He focused on healing, gaining his strength, and keeping his mind buzzing with creativity.  Slowly, he was able to go back to work a few hours, then a few days at City Winery.

Well, the good news is that Vinnie has returned to his full time position.  Regardless of his traumatic last couple of years, he never stopped thinking about his dream.  Finally, Vinnie’s “someday” is about to come true!

Vinnie’s play Death of a Cannoli Salesman is going to make its debut next Sunday on the stage at City Winery Chicago.  All of his friends are going to be there for his premiere!  Of course, we will be in attendance and ready to laugh at the genius of his comedy and probably cry with delight that he made it through the darkness to the bright lights of the stage.

Next Sunday, Vinnie will be able to taste victory.  This will be a slice of life that Vinnie and all of us will never forget!

 

 

The Show Must Go On!

March SOLSC17 Day 18

sol[1]

Last night, we went to City Winery in Chicago to hear the music of Howie Day.  By the way, City Winery is the best venue for a concert!  It is an intimate setting with such crisp sound.

Everything was going so well.  Howie was mixing it up with some old and new songs.  He told some stories between tunes that made you chuckle.  Our table was along the wall, toward the front of the room with many tables and people behind us. The concert was sold out.

Suddenly, we heard some chairs moving across the floor. We turned around to see several people stand up and hover in a small area.  As I craned my neck, I could see a woman lying flat on the floor.  The manager, Ryan who is always incredible, flew over and knelt down by the woman offering her comfort as she began to regain her awareness.  Later, I found out that a nurse and a doctor who were in the audience darted over to offer their services.

Howie Day glanced that way, knowing that something was happening; however, he played on.  From the center forward, most of the audience was unaware of the incident.  By continuing to play and sing his heart out he was able to keep the focus on the stage.

Shortly, paramedics entered through the side emergency door.  They used flashlights and quietly assessed the situation.

Howie played on.

Next, three police officers walked in to ensure that everyone was okay.  Again, they used flashlights.  Everyone spoke so quietly that it was barely noticeable.

Howie played on.

Within minutes, a couple of paramedics went outside and returned with a stretcher which they converted into a rolling chair.  They helped the woman sit, and they rolled her out unobtrusively and headed to the ambulance.

Instantly, the chairs were returned to the tables, and the fans in that section returned to their seats.  Everything went back to how it had been before the occurrence.

Through it all, Howie played on.  I noticed that he had refrained from telling stories between songs.  He would finish one song and quickly began another before the clapping completely ended.

He must have been distracted and concerned throughout the situation.  He must have wondered if the woman was okay.  I’m sure many things were racing through his mind.  However, you would never know it.  He kept the eyes of the audience on him.

Howie Day and Kathy

Howie was a pro!  He followed the golden rule of performance, “The show must go on!”