While in the process of updating dilettantelife.com,
I’ve run into some technical issues with the member
and registration pages. Please bear with me while
I work out these problems. It should hopefully be
resolved within the next couple of weeks.
I was in a Saturday morning rush and had to go to the ATM machine. Of course, there were two cars ahead of me, so I daydreamed a little, while trying to be patient. Grabbing my card from my wallet, I mumbled what I had to get done, and tried the Vulcan mind meld to hurry up the other cars.
Finally! My turn was here and I had to be quick. Now, I go to the ATM
a lot, so I know the button routines by heart, or at least I thought I did.
Pulling close to the machine, I inserted my card and held my finger
over the touchpad to be at the ready. The first screen asks if you
want instructions in English or Spanish. Well, my finger was over
the wrong button, and I hit Spanish by accident.
Holy Shit. Do I have to start over, and waste time?…or was it time
to learn Spanish? My fingers have muscle memory and usually
know what comes next. But, I was so thrown off by the mysterious
text on the buttons that I drew a blank. I had to decipher what
my options were. I know the word Si, so that was a start.
I had to trace my steps to figure out what screen I was on
until I could make out the withdrawal button, upper left
side. Bingo! I hit the right one. A screen with numbers
popped up. I was doing good, I know how to read numbers.
I plugged in $30 and hit enter (or whatever the word is in
Spanish), and my mission was complete.
For a minute, I was half expecting Pesos to come out of the machine.
Luckily that wasn’t the case. I drove away feeling really stupid, but
glad I got my money and didn’t start a new transaction after my
error. I would have lost 2 minutes of valuable time that I didn’t
have. Or, suck it up, like I did, and pretend to be Spanish speaking.
Either way, I got my money.
qué tengas un buen día
I deleted someone’s video card by accident the other day. I felt horrible; actually drenched with guilt. How could I have done that?… I questioned. Someone’s work just gone without explanation. How will I explain this to them? I was trying to be efficient, I downloaded the clips I needed and just wiped the card clean. I was concerned. Did I do this on purpose? Was it just unexplained human error?
Maybe I was wiped. Tired. Overworked. Wiped out like the video card. Can a person’s brain be too full? Am I doing too much? Are we so bogged down, that we can only see what is right in front of us? I felt like at the moment, my work was more important; at least subconsciously. I had a mission, a checklist of things I had to get done. And, I got it done. Good for me. But, there are others to think about. And I didn’t think…at least not for more than a moment.
Job, kids, spouses, etc. keep us on our toes. Juggle or fail. Avoid getting wiped out, or the rest of the dominos fall. Well, I caused someone else’s dominos to fall. And, for that I am sorry. I don’t know to what extent I effected them, but their work was gone and I was the reason.
I was forgiven, when I confessed my error. But, I know it was just because I’ve been wiped out. I couldn’t honestly explain that to her without being achingly vulnerable. I matter-of-factly stated what happened and waited for a response. I hated myself for being so detached, when inside I felt horrible. She accepted the situation and moved forward.
I’m trying to make it rain in my personal life, my professional life and everything in between. There’s no room for error, especially when the error effects others. I have to avoid being wiped. Being tired or complacent reeks of failure, a situation I have to avoid. Keeping others in mind is as important as the breath that I take, and I have to remember that.
I have learned from my mistakes.
It is the light she seeks these days
Passing me over, not even a side glance
She walks towards the glistening until it tickles her face
When her gaze has moved from the dark
Her eye lids gently shut to transform the light into something less assaultive to her brain
She is awkwardly still, as if anticipating a warm embrace
she no longer tolerates from me these days
Perhaps I have become dull from what I seek
On rare occasions she invites me with a tug
Trying to drag my heavy body from the brine to see what she feels
An invitation I decline
It is not enlightenment I seek these days
Foodie Saturday Field Trip (FSF): Wegmans
Jamie and I decided to reduce our cabin fever by taking
a ride to Wegman’s yesterday.
It had everything the heart desires,
where dishes come true. We loved
the amazing selection of seafood
and meats. And, don’t get me
started on cheese, which my son
once said, is,”like heroin for
women”. I may need to go to rehab.
I had eaten a couple of Eggo waffles before take-off and was
somewhat satisfied. I’ve learned the hard way,
not to go shopping on an
empty stomach. But, this
wasn’t shopping, it was
a food fantasy. If I
hadn’t eaten, it would
have been pure gluttony.
This crossed my mind at
the checkout, as I
realized if I was hungry,
the bill could have the
potential to challenge
the national debt.
Our first ride was at the sushi
counter. The color of the
sashimi was so bright, it was
like twinkling lights, without
the twinkle. The only time I’ve
seen sushi that fresh was when
a store most likely bathed it
in sulfa. This was the real
deal. There was a silent
stand-off between getting the
tuna or salmon, which ended
We were ready to tear ourselves away from the sushi station when
a little girl, maybe 9 yrs old, said to her mother, “look Mommy, a
squid.” I turned and gave Jamie a gourmet-smirk, and
cued eye rolling. There in the case sat a fresh octopus, clearly
marked in black magic marker lettering (on a piece of wood
for authentic presentation) OCTOPUS. Don’t get me wrong,
I love children. I especially love children that can read. But my
youngest son wasn’t much older than her when I brought an
octopus home for dinner. He was like a little Shackleton, braving the
tentacles and figuring out how to not only cook it, but survive the
experience. He cooked it, ate it and loved it. I chickened out.
The dog ate the head.
The alluring light emitted from the
hundreds of cases was almost too
much to handle. It was like the
opposite of a magnetic force field.
We spent some time examining the
different kinds of pate. Jamie is
going to make a Beef Wellington,
and a pate lined crust is critical.
Each pate looked like the other,
but I felt the need to look like I
was discriminating. They didn’t have
what he was looking for, and we
both found ourselves looking at the section below pate, to the
caviar. He asked me if I wanted caviar, and again, I felt an air
of snobbiness come over me. “Not really” I said. I thought
that if you were going to buy caviar, shouldn’t it come from
Moscow, Paris or New York? The packages looked fancy enough,
but I pictured myself in a cashmere cape, strolling into a little
shop in Paris taking samples, and politely ordering a generous
quantity for a dinner party with a few of my classy French friends.
We slowly backed away from the pate, and let the crowd lull us
to our next target.
There is so much to write about the experience, but I encourage anyone
who is feeling frozen and hold-up in their house to go and check it out.
You don’t have to be on a pate mission, or looking for anything you
can’t pronounce. Just have fun, pick up dinner, and most importantly
DO NOT GO ON AN EMPTY STOMACH.
I went home to a place I’ve never been. Mountains confronted the sea, with only small cottages dividing the two. Roads were narrow with sheep crossing, slowing the pace of a racing mind. Passing a sign that said, “Amazing Grace Country”
didn’t do the landscape justice. The dewey air and the dramatic clouds loomed over you, up and over a mountain gap, winding and forbidden. The village below a world away, covered in drizzle and filtered light. Quiet and content.
From afar, white dotted meadows speak another language. The bleeting is absorbed into your subconscious like music you can’t get out of your head. Tractors bounce through the country roads looking like they have no place to go. The terrain is rocky and rough, smelling like an earthen musk with hints of heartache. She lost so many to America.
All of my grandparents wanted to leave the lovely fields. Poverty was a shadow
that walked next to them every waking hour. A better life seemed possible, seemed
real. I walked the damp fields, feeling happy that I was able to marry stories
of childhood with this place. A true connection was born, not imagined. My
mind and body finally followed my ancestors, who had been waiting for me to
I sigh when things go wrong. What can I do now? Let me think.
I sigh when I’m happy. So many possibilities. Can it get any better?
I sigh when I’m completely frustrated. Where do I turn?
I sigh with delight. My love brings me to happy tears. Laughter soon follows.
I sigh with the weight of the world. So tired at the end of the day.
I sigh to feel my own breath. To feel that I’m alive.
Easter Sunday approaches with dew in the air and buds on the trees. The day brings friends and families together to celebrate the unofficial arrival of Spring. Candy dishes are full of jelly beans and the chocolate bunnies sit on the counter with a shocked look on their face. Easter baskets are long gone, as far away as the kids live now. No need to put them out. The religious enjoy the spiritual meaning of the holiday. Us? Well, we attend Mass and would actually like to eat our jelly beans while listening to a good sermon, but that might be frowned upon.
Every since we got back from vacation, we started to attend Sunday Mass. I don’t know why, but I thought it was the right thing to do. Growing up Catholic, we both were religiously educated and received most of the sacraments. And, as we got more and more involved in life, kids and work, that part of our life slipped away somehow. Some people do a good job incorporating spirituality and life, but obviously we weren’t one of them. There always seemed like there was something else we had to do, or a place we had to go instead. Church didn’t fit into our schedule.
So here we are, a month into re-introducing ourselves to religious ceremony. Sermons are good, people are nice, but the benches are hard. We usually arrive early and just relax before the organ signals showtime. Looking around, we notice a lot of people we know. Feels kinda’ homey. We’ve even started to be recognized by the Pastor. It’s all about who you know, even at church. The choir starts singing a song that he recognizes, but I don’t. I know most of the prayers, but the hymns are touch and go.
My eyes start to droop. We woke up super early to go to the 8am Mass, and it’s just hitting me now, that this is actually the middle of my night. Good Lord, 8am! How can any sane person, or sane Catholic be to church so early? My head drops and I’m out like a light. Let the snoring commence. Right here while Father Anthony gives his weekly sermon. My companion nudges me awake and I’m incredibly embarrassed. I’ve made a commitment to my religion, but can’t stay awake for it. I’m going to burn in Hell.
I ask him if the sermon was nice, as we walk to the car. He said it was. We drove to get coffee and had a few laughs. I really felt bad for sleeping, especially when I was looking forward to a little Catholic wisdom dropped on me. Now, the only option I have, with my little problem, is a secondhand sermon. Shorthand. So why go at all, if I wasn’t going to get anything out of it?
So, I made a decision. If I was to continue to go to church, I wouldn’t go to the 8am Mass anymore. The odds of falling asleep were just too high. I can attend the 10:30am Mass and do just fine. I will stay awake. I will open the missalette and follow the hymns I don’t know. I will pretend to know the prayers that I don’t. I will listen to the sermon and try to be a good Christian. What more can I do?
Easter is here and it’s Spring! Whether you are religious or not, enjoy time with your family.
Don’t eat too much candy, and remember to get enough sleep.
A Hand Twists to guide
The other holds firm to work
The imagination sees
Lil’s bedroom gave no indication that the former sun room was makeshift in any way. The area rug next to her high loft bed and homemade quilts absorbed the rays of light through the blinds. There was little physical mention that the family once gathered here, except for some neatly stacked games and stuffed animals stored along a few walls. It was comfortably furnished, providing Lil with precious dignity and the privacy they wanted to gift her in this tiny house.
I peeked into Lil’s room, silently observing her morning routine. She hiked up her nightgown to her upper thighs, as she sat on the edge of her bed. Holding each sock in front of her, she looked at it for a moment and dressed each foot, one at a time. Then carefully unlacing her sneakers, she repeated the sock routine with each shoe. She slowly tightened and tied them, tucking the extra laces in the side, above the arches. Every part of this ritual was new to her. She stood up and looked at the pants on the rocking chair with a quizzical expression. I thought this was a good time to greet her, and see what I could do to help.
She was diagnosed a few years ago, while she was still actively swimming and in the midst of her husband’s illness. She loved her cats and she loved her family but soon everything would slip away. She cared for her husband as best as she could, but would forget to turn things off, and would often drive to unknown locations. Her daughter once received a call from a gas station manager telling her that her mother was there and confused. He said that he understood because his mother was ill too. It didn’t attack Lil all at once. No, that would be merciful. It just creeped into all their lives, as the family looked for answers to this dreadful disease.
“Hi Lil” I said as I entered the room. She said hi, without any emotion, not knowing who I was. I had met her several times, but didn’t expect any recognition or greeting. My job was to just take care of her for this sliver of time. I suggested we take her shoes off, and get her pants on. I knelt down and undid her laces, as she watched with confusion. She was cooperative, but guarded, so I tried not to create stress for her. I told her who I was, as she gave me a blank stare.
My eyes were burning, as we made our way to the kitchen. I knew there were cats in the house, but I would only be there for a little while. Her breakfast sat on the center island, made by her daughter, Brenda, before she left. I ushered Lil to the table, where there family photos were stacked. I could tell that Brenda had put these here for her to look at. She just sat with her head down, looking like a child who had been punished.
“I have some breakfast for you here”, I said.
She didn’t reply, so I brought the french toast over to her hoping that she would eat.
“Would you like some coffee”, I inquired.
She looked at me with suspicion and slowly said, “What is coffee”?
What is coffee!!!! It was at that moment that I realized that her life had been stripped of not only memory, but the knowledge of basic enjoyment, like a hot cup of coffee. How could someone not know what coffee was I wondered? Then I thought, how can I have a basic conversation with her? I can’t ask her what she likes to do, or how her day was going. She had no idea. This was something I hadn’t really thought through.
So, in a desperate attempt to communicate, I decided to sing. I started to sing a silly song to try to engage her. Lil perked up and told me that when she was a little girl she sang in the church choir. Her enthusiastic description of her memories came flooding back, almost like she was waiting all week to tell me. As we continued to sing, I started to dance, which amused her. Lil got up and started to side step and move her arms. I could tell she was enjoying herself. I had finally gotten through to her. I reached a part of her that was happy and somewhat familiar.
Brenda returned home as we were in mid-chorus, so she joined in. We had a lot of laughs all while my eyes began to itch and swell (damn cats). It was time for me to leave, so I finished my coffee and gathered my things. Brenda thanked me, but I didn’t feel like I deserved it. The pleasure was all mine.
As I drove off, I realized what an incredible gift I had received that day. I had to strip my thinking down to the very basics, like singing a song or tying a shoe. It was like caring for a toddler, but slightly bitter sweet. I had to be gentle and understanding of who Lil is, while knowing who she was. It was a blessing to be asked to care for her.
Lil has been gone for a few years now, but I hope to remember that day, while I drink a nice hot cup of coffee.
Thank you Brenda.