Thursday, May 27, 2010

No Need for Body Counts

No, this isn’t an anti-war rant…although I could go there easily.

Recently a musician died that I once had a passing acquaintance with as we both grew up in the same town. I had a closer relationship with someone who once had played in several of his bands. Upon hearing of this musician's death we discussed how sometimes when one is rising to fame and fortune, others are left behind, sometimes unfairly and often not in the nicest way. Even though apologies eventually are extended and accepted – or at least that was so in this particular case – the truth is, it still happened and it still sucked.

A few days after this discussion another friend of mine and I were talking about another person’s rise in the corporate world. I cautioned my friend against blindly trusting this woman and my friend’s response was, “Well, she never would have gotten the position she has without leaving some bodies behind.”

Hmmm. Have we become so calloused as a society that we believe it is perfectly OK to leave behind a body count on our rise to success?

Certainly I can’t be the only person left who believes that not only can a person become successful without negatively impacting the lives of others, but the only folks who DESERVE success are those who don’t forget the ones who got them there, who remember what it’s like to walk in the shoes of others, who don’t let the money go to their heads, and who remember to give back as much as they take.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Expectations (and Blessings)

Typically, my expectations of others are low. It’s easier for me to expect less; I’m disappointed less often that way.

Recently we’ve been absolutely BLESSED with the kindness of others when Chris had surgery to replace his weary knee. Because of my seizure disorder, I do not drive. Offers for rides to the hospital and later to the rehab facility were abundant. Every morning my phone rang with someone new asking … Did I need to go get groceries? Did I need a ride to the post office? Any prescriptions I needed? How was I getting out to see Chris that day? Was I interested in going out for lunch? Were my library books due back?

I learned how to say “yes”, which is not as easy as it may seem. I hate to impose on others, but I found that, as I like doing for others, others liked doing for me. And I enjoyed those glasses of wine with Mary Ellen, catching up with news of Janet’s grandchildren and her new camp, breakfast with Vince and listening to him read his latest work, eating Josh’s peanut butter cookies, visiting with Mark and Alice, running errands with Kathy, hearing Tim telling me what Rupert did when he spent the night with McKinley, laughing with Sharon about how well we make lemonade out of the lemons life hands us, venting with Denise and running into all our neighbors when I was walking Rupert who asked about Chris and offered rides or whatever. And then there are my many Internet friends who sent wishes and kept me company when I couldn’t sleep, and my musician friends who soothes me with their tunes. My son and his oldest daughter supported me via text messages, as is their way.

BUT….you must have known there was a ‘but’ coming…..surrounded by such support I allowed my expectation to be raised and to include everyone around us to treat us as we would treat them in a similar situation. We are truly blessed to have friends we treasure and family we love. This includes my mother-in-law. My husband is an only child. We have taken ‘Mom’ on two cruises (we paid)….including our honeymoon cruise….and on several vacations to Manhattan and other places. When she had surgery a couple of years ago, we took very good care of her….we wanted to do so, no questions asked, we took time off from our jobs and did this willingly and lovingly. Not because it was expected of us, but because we wanted to.

She did take us to the hospital the day of his surgery and did drive me back and forth the three days he was in the hospital. She also took Rupert for me the first day Chris was in rehab so I could spend the day there with him. I won’t say she made this easy in any way; she has a way of letting you know that it is an inconvenience for her (she wanted to be mowing her lawn instead one day).

Chris was told he was going to be released on a Friday and wanted her to take him home. (Don’t we all want our mothers when we’re not feeling well? Even I want my mother when I’m not feeling well, and believe me, she was a piece of work even when she was sober!) The MIL lives five minutes from the rehab facility. We had planned to have her pick him up, call me when they got close to home so I could take the dog for a walk, they could get Chris settled in at home and then I could bring Rupert in and he could get all excited about his favorite toy’s return home after two weeks away without any worry about Rupert knocking Chris down or jumping up on him. The MIL agreed. Then the release day was moved up a day early. When I called her to tell her this, she said she was “too busy” to do it that day.

“Too busy” really meant that she had an appointment three hours later than the time he was being released. It would have taken her twenty minutes to drive him from the rehab facility to our place, then another half hour at the most to drive back home. So we were asking her for an hour of her time at the most. Why did she need three hours before her appointment? She needed to make sure she had enough time to do her hair and makeup.

The truth is, she was “annoyed” (I could use other words here) that we had friends who helped us out…..and we were able to call one of those friends (thanks, Tim!) who brought Chris home last Thursday. Yesterday, Chris called her to let her know he was doing OK. She made a comment about wondering why he hadn’t called her sooner. Good thing I wasn’t the one on the phone as I might have said, “Phone lines work both ways.” And then in the course of their conversation she tells Chris that his aunt died while he was in the hospital, but she “didn’t want to bother him with the news then.” She hasn’t spoken to this sister in twenty years or so, but Chris and I have seen her and we would have liked to have known. I would expect a mother to act differently.

There I go again…..raising my expectations.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Ahhhhhhhhhhh, yeah. Three days in the woods and a couple of nights where I actually slept all night and I’m a new person. It doesn’t matter that hubby is still fairly crippled by his knee replacement, although doing well. It doesn’t matter that Rupert may have caught one Frisbee too many while we were out there and hurt his jaw. It doesn’t even matter that he’s been puking ever since we pulled back into the driveway back here in the city. Or that it’s 80 degrees and humid here. There was a moment of respite this weekend in the woods when the sun was shining and it was sooooo quiet all we could hear were robins chirping. Ahhhhhhhhh. We’re doing it again soon.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Leash Laws

I walk Rupert on a leash. For most of the year, we are walking city sidewalks in a busy part of the city early in the morning when there’s often a school bus stopping at one corner and folks who are late for work rolling through stop signs at other corners. When we walk later in the day, the streets are full of office workers racing back home.

Rupert walks well. He’s on a retractable leash and has been trained to sit whenever we say “wait”. He also does this without any verbal command at any corner; sometimes he does it when he sees someone coming at us that he’s not too sure about. He’s a wonderful judge of character.

He is very aware of other dogs, particularly those who are not on a leash. He immediately goes into protective mode, baring his teeth, barking at them, placing himself between me and the loose dog. These dogs, at least in our neighborhood, are often smaller dogs. One neighbor has three of them and often walks them on the same path I walk Rupert, all at the same time, all off leash. Another neighbor has two small dogs she lets out in her front yard without a leash. Her yard is somewhat hidden so we often come upon them and do not know they are out there doing their business. (Rupert isn’t fond of surprise encounters, either.)

Here’s my problem. These dog owners have an issue with me. The woman with the two yippy dogs snapped at me this week that I needed to get my dog under control (he was sitting and barking at her dogs at the time) and the man with the three dogs off leash yelled at me this morning that I should walk on the other side of the street because one of HIS dogs might run into the street to get away from my dog.

There are leash laws for reasons. I obey them. Rupert loves to be off his leash and would no doubt walk by my side, do his business and we’d have few problems. But I wouldn’t want to chance his running into the street after a cat or his chasing after another dog or doing anything dogs are apt to do. Why don’t other dog owners feel that way? It’s not “mean” to keep a dog on a leash. I think it’s lazy on these other dog owners’ part NOT to follow the leash laws. And I am never going to alter my route because someone can’t be bothered to teach his three dogs to walk on a leash. In fact, I’m going to report him. It just might save the life of one of his little poochies.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Heavy Silence Today

Usually I welcome empty rooms and time stretching ahead of me without obligations that translates into hours left for writing or knitting or simply sitting still and thinking. But today I’ve had news of the death of two friends from long ago and for some reason, I’m not able to simply tuck this information away and move through the day again.

I’ve seen neither of these people in several years. One moved on to fame and fortune and would probably not have remembered me now. The other was a former boss I was once glad to have moved on from, but also happy that she once gave me a chance to prove what I could do. Neither were relatives or lovers. Both were more than passing acquaintances, less than best friends. Still, I am mourning them today, unexpectedly.

I am remembering quick smiles, guitar licks, cigarette smoke, crazy drives on winding country roads, chocolate milk shakes, auditors, changing ribbons in calculators, dances at St. Mary’s and PTO meetings. And two folks who made their marks on the world in their own way. I shed tears for them both today, even though they might have walked past me on the street all these years later. There was a time when we shared moments of our lives, moments that led me to where I am now. They are part of my landscape, part of the tapestry I’ve made my own. I will not forget Beverley or Ron.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sweet Sounds at Sugarpearl

If you’re lucky enough to be in the Hawley-Green neighborhood of Syracuse on a Tuesday or Thursday around lunchtime, drop by Sugarpearl at the corner of N. Crouse and Burnet (plenty of parking in the lot shared with Ra-Lins Department Store across the street) and list to some amazing music while enjoying a tasty lunch, too!

Sugarpearl offers vegan food so delicious you forget that it’s so good for you. I’ve become addicted to their power burgers. Once you eat one, you’ll never be satisfied with what anyone else serves as a veggie burger again. Plus…they have non-vegan offerings; try the Beastie Boy, a dynamic roast beef sandwich that is much more than a mouthful.

On Tuesdays you’ll be treated to cover songs and originals by Melissa Clark. Melissa plays everything from the Beatles to Johnny Cash, Paul Simon to the Kinks, Mary Chapin Carpenter to John Fogerty. Her originals have such a spark; you’ll notice other diners stopping conversations to listen to her compelling lyrics. And that gal sure knows her way around a guitar! She’ll have your toes tapping in no time!

Joanne Perry takes the stage on Thursday, playing her originals, too. Her songs stick with you; you’ll be humming them later in the day. Joanne’s voice will charm you. She often has special guests join her for a song or two, and that's always a treat. Who might it be this week? Wendy Ramsay? Dana “Short Order” Cooke? A member of her band “Joanne Perry and the Unstoppables?” Or another local singer-songwriter who happens to stop by for lunch? You never know.

Support you local musicians. Drop a coin or two into their tip jars, that’s how they get paid for this gig. Brian Francis plays on Friday. And Sunday there is a brunch with live jazz. Yeah. Drop by. Listen. Enjoy. It’s a touch of Greenwich Village, right here at Sugarpearl.