Monthly Archives: February 2012

GIRL, INTERRUPTED

“Julie, wait. You need to adjust your pants. You’ve got to look natural or you’re so busted. Now strap this to your waist and pull the top down over it. There, how do you feel?” Mary asks.

“How do you think I feel?” I ask sarcastically. “I mean it! I’m not even kidding! I know I said I’d do this and I’ll do it, but I’m really not in the mood.”

Mary smiles faintly and is about to speak, but changes her mind.

“Yeah, yeah”, I continue complaining, “I see that smile; you’re so funny. I mean it; just give me the damn bag already.”

I step outside and my eyes squint as the bright noon sun pierces them. I feel every one of the day’s 87 degrees as the sweat trickles down my back and underneath my arms. This is my first time and I’m hot, and cranky, and unprepared.

I jog slowly down the sidewalk and around the corner.

“I just need to get there and get this over with.” I grumble.

Upon arrival, I walk to the back of the small house and open the chain link fence. My heart races as I sprint into the backyard, grinding my alto voice and roaring from deep within.

“MMM!” I bellow, “Me want cookies! Big Bird sent me! He says someone has birthday today! Me want cookies!”

Within seconds, four year old children swarm towards me like happy, squealing, little honey bees.

“Hey! It’s Cookie Monster! Cookie Monster’s here! Yay!”

Some wrap themselves around my legs while others hang off of my arms like big Christmas tree ornaments. Within minutes I’m flat on my back in the grass, laughing and flailing wildly.

I pass out coloring books from my white bag and the helium balloons that I’ve been holding in my oversized, furry, blue hands.

My sister, Chris, walks by and I grab her butt.

“MMM, Momma! Nice cookies!” I shout.

She yells and slaps at me, and parents screech with childish delight.

Soon the kids line up to say goodbye. My niece, the birthday girl, a petite, precious little thing, hugs me firmly and looks up into my big googly eyes.

“I have your picture on my wall” she says earnestly in her sweet, tiny voice, “I love you Cookie Monster!

I tear up, swallow the lump in my throat, and take a breath.

“MMM! Cookie Monster loves you too! Me thinks you yummy like little cookie! Yum! Yum! Yum!” I say and hug her back.

Then off I go, trotting down the sidewalk back towards Mary’s.

As I make my way, a passing car slows and a little girl hangs out of its window shouting, “Hi Cookie Monster!”

I wave my big blue hand, do a little dance, and continue on.

Moments later, a woman comes from her home with her son and a camera and asks if she can take a picture. I am happy to oblige.

I arrive at Mary’s and change back into my civilian clothes.

Now, I head back to the party . . . . once again.

“Aunt Julie! Aunt Julie!” My niece yells with excitement as I enter the backyard, “Cookie Monster was here!”

“Oh right; sure,” I say hoarsely and brush right past her, “like Cookie Monster would really come here; you’re so funny.”

“Really! Really!” She shouts.

I wipe the sweat from my face with the back of my hand, gently push past the children, and plop into a lawn chair. I am overheated and exhausted.

I glance over at my sister. She smiles.

I smile back.

And wink.

It’s been a good day.

Categories: Adventures, Family, Holidays/Birthdays, Humor | Tags: , , , , , , | 27 Comments

AMAZING GRACE

I have no middle name. It should be Grace. Here’s why:

AS A CHILD . . .

When I was a baby, I fell UP the stairs. Instead of stitches, my mom taped my chin.

I learned that if you run into thick glass patio doors fast enough, you’ll bounce, and actually see stars.

While playing soccer in middle school, I got the ball and ran. It was surreal as I ran the length of the field, controlled the ball, (vaguely hearing the screams of those cheering me on), and scored! Yay me! But my moment of glory was short-lived. It was the wrong net and I had just scored for the other team.

All my family piled into the station wagon for a ride. I went straight to the back and sat in the open rear window with my arms resting on the top of the car. Unaware, my dad moved the car and “PLOP!” I fell right out and onto the street. I lay there in stunned humiliation as my dad took several minutes to notice my absence and return to retrieve me.

In fifth grade, I staged a sit-in. At noon, we dropped our books, left the classroom, and sat out in the hallway on the floor. (Hey, it was the 70’s!).

I camped out in the chicken coop at Westcroft Gardens with two friends. The police came out after being called by neighbors, questioned us, and asked only that we try to keep it quiet.

I once auditioned for the cheerleading squad. I stood before four judges and was so nervous that I said everything backwards.

I once ran down the hallway of our house with a paint brush protruding from my mouth.

I had English Lab where we worked on machines to improve various skills; one of them was musical and required headphones. I couldn’t hear myself as I SCREAMED with the songs during class.

I built a raft and set sail in the waters off of West River Road. I was about three feet away from the dock when I sank.

At Southland theatre I laughed so hard that my gum flew out of my mouth and into the hair of the girl seated in front of me!

As a child of seven, I used to sit in church and dream of one day preaching. My friend marveled that I was so inspired at that early age. “It wasn’t really inspiration”, I explained, “I just thought I could do it better.”

AND AS AN ADULT . . .

While at a restaurant, I anxiously walked in high heels across the slick, glossy dance floor, and as I made my way I could feel my shoe slip out from under me. I managed to sort of flap my arms and regain my balance, and then casually proceeded back towards my date, hoping he hadn’t noticed. I looked over at the waiter standing nearby. He smiled and gave me a thumbs-up.

My friend is tall, blond, and lives in Hawaii. His Fb profile picture is of him posing with a group of his Hawaiian friends. The first thing I say after 30 years? “Hey, which one are you?”

I had a fourth date, (which I now fondly call, “The Perfect Storm”), and we had a bad argument. I told a friend that halfway through our fight I wanted to kiss him really hard on the mouth. With exasperation, she questioned this. “He really rattled my cage!” I said, “I guess it doesn’t matter if it’s a good or a bad rattle, it’s just been a really long time since anyone’s shook me up like that!” (I later wrote about his dog).

I moved into a new house and heard about the cranky old man who lived across the street and always hollered at the neighborhood kids. So, while at the market one day, and in the spirit of friendship, I picked up a dozen ears of fresh corn on the cob for him. When I delivered them, he took the bag, thanked me, and then gave me a gigantic toothless grin!

While my in-laws were visiting, I went to check on dinner. I opened the oven door and saw that I had left my oven mitt inside and it was now in full flames. “Honey, please come here.” I said. He mumbled and kept chatting with his folks. I glanced back to the small fire within and asked, “Honey, really, could you come in here?” Again, he mumbled and dismissed me. Watching this small bonfire grow ever larger, and now in full panic, I screamed, “FIRE!” (He promptly extinguished dinner).

I received a set of gardening “Dial-A-Meal”-type cards in the mail and decided to grow tomato plants. I studied the cards and pruned the plants as instructed. After several weeks my husband wondered why there were still no tomatoes. “I don’t understand it” I said, “I pruned them just like the cards instructed. I removed every single flower that came in!”

I crossed the busy street of Griswold during my lunch hour and got the heel of my shoe stuck in the sewer cover.

One time I wore one blue shoe and one brown shoe to work.

I slipped on the ice while trying to get into the car, and I slid right under it.

I confessed my crush to my dentist while under the influence of nitrous oxide.

My apartment building has very thin walls and while lying in bed one night I heard some strange sounds coming from the guy upstairs. “I think Pete got a dog” I said to my cat that was lying next to me. We both listened intently. It wasn’t a dog.

I baked bread for a dinner date. It was so misshapen and hard, that later I hollowed it out, shellacked it, and turned it into a planter.

A first date took me to see big time wrestling and during the show someone from the upper balcony leaned over and threw up all over him. Between the splashing sound and his look of horror, I laughed. (I never heard from him again).

It is by the grace of God that I’m here to share these stories. I hope that you have enjoyed them. Love & blessings to you all!

Categories: Humor | 22 Comments

THE RIGHT SHOES AND A BOX OF BANDAIDS

Recently, I heard, “Oh, Julia! You’re so strong! You quit smoking after 30 years, you overcame a lifetime of prescription drug addiction, you quit drinking soda, you lost so much weight, you’ve had so many losses and you’ve let go of so much pain!”

I just smiled.

“I love you, you silly fool, but ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Look at how incredibly WEAK I was! I smoked three packs of cigarettes a day for over 30 years, I popped pills and lived in a fog to escape from life, I ate my way through 195 pounds of comfort food, and I clung desperately to my bitterness and grief. I was one of the WEAKEST people I ever knew!”

Strength is a choice.

You don’t have to be born strong, or be a rock star, or be someone incredibly noble, and you don’t have to be super extraordinary. All you have to do is decide . . . and try. And it starts with one single, tiny, baby step in the right direction. Sometimes it’s literally putting one foot in front of the other and remembering to breathe while you’re doing it.

You know what? There IS something worse than making a mistake and falling down, and that is not trying at all. Shoot, a little humiliation and a skinned knee aren’t going to stop this old gal! Besides, I’ve learned to wear humiliation pretty well; all it takes is the right shoes and a box of Band-Aids!   

So, friends, while you’re out in the world today, if you encounter someone who is a bit too loud, or kind of pushy, or really obnoxious – try to remember that those people are usually the MOST frightened and insecure of all. Try to be patient and not to judge them too harshly. Remember, sometimes being brave and being strong have to be learned and practiced. Maybe we can teach by example through kindness and patience?

And if you’re afraid . . . that’s okay, I’m standing right next to you; just take my hand.

Categories: Addiction, Grief/Healing, Humor, Inspiration/Motivation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 54 Comments

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