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Monday, April 18, 2011

What It Sounds Like When a Two Year Old Capitulates

Last Friday, Peabody and I had one of those lazy pajama mornings that I love to hate/hate to love, and when lunchtime rolled around I yawned out, "Whaddaya want for lunch, love-buggie?"

"Nanno n cheeee!" he gleefully responded. (Macaroni and cheese, of COURSE.)

Since we didn't have all the fixins' for nanno n chee on hand, I dressed myself in real clothes from the waist down, covered my pajama shirt with a fleece pullover, tossed the boy in his carseat and the two of us set out for the tiny grocery store around the corner.

Lately when we're out driving around, Peabody keeps up constant chatter about everything he sees out the window as it goes by and I'll confess, I really love hearing his little chipmunky voice but I don't always pay the strictest attention to what he's sayin'. I'm hearin', as they say, but not LIST'NIN'. And so he'd been talking for a minute or two about something before I realized he needed my input when I heard his seeking, "Wight, Mama?"



"Mmm hmmm ... Hmmm? Oh hold on! Wait, say that again, Peabod."

"Dat CAR YA (car wash - he LOVES the car wash) oh-er dere. Mmp go a car ya, Mama? Go a car ya? Leeeeeeeeeeeeez, Mama, leeeeeeez?"

"Yes!" I said, "That's the car wash, buddy-bear. But right now we're going to the grocery store to buy you some noodles and then we're going home to make macaroni and cheese to eat for lunch and I'm gonna let you stir-stir-stir! We'll go to the car wash another time."

"Mmp go CAR YA!"

"Later Peabody. Maybe Daddy will take you to the car wash tomorrow. Right now we need to go get our things and have our lunch."

And it got really quiet. I thought he was probably gearing up to rip into one of his crying, tantrumming melt-downs but instead, the silence was finally broken with a resigned, "Okaaaaaaaaaaaaaay. Memmermiiiiind car ya."

Whew.

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Friday, April 15, 2011

on distance



I'm amazed at how much people can write, and coherently, too, in five minutes!

I didn't type a single letter until my timer had already zipped off over a minute and a half. A time-limit like that seems to stymie my creative flow. (Heaven knows I'm never normally short of words!)

But distance is a constant theme in my life, with my family and roots nearly a thousand miles away, my husband driving an hour and a half each way to work and back, and oh, then there's this graceless, toxic grey distance in which I encrust myself when the sunshine-and-shadow-play of human vulnerability lays me too bare for a day.

So I wanted to open the tap on distance and see what might begin to trickle out.

start:

the distance between two souls is elastic.

my bosom-friends live across the ocean and across the river and across the country, but stay as close as a pillow to an ear, and wrap around my life like the softest blanket.

and here, practically in my pocket, women live their lives and carry their burdens and laugh and love in the next rooms over, yet remain far away as diamond stars.

stop.




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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I Wrote the Draft of This Post on Two Sheets of Bounty and the Inside of a Mounds Wrapper.

I write here because there is never any paper in this house.

I write my shopping lists and phone messages and scribble verruh important notes to myself on corners of take-out menus, used junk mail envelopes, the back of my checkbook, or torn off scraps of paper bags, because real, proper paper, sticky notes, legal pads and the like? Those do not belong to me. They are commandeered immediately upon crossing the FriedOkra threshold by my elder child, who is learning to write (FUN ET ICK LEE), and also enjoys the drawing, and apparently enjoys, more than anything else, making me crazy.

I KNOW you know what I'm talking about.

A few weeks ago I went into Hobby Lobby (angel song) and in my Cloud 9 rambling, roving, sighing and cooing wander-about, I happened across a big, fat, fancy, phonebook-thick pad of beautiful, crisp, brown houndstooth note paper, tied with a big, fat, red grosgrain ribbon. It sang to me from its shelf in a chorus of angel-voices, narrated by a subtle undercurrent of sultry Hey baby, where have you been all my life and You feel it like I do, and you know it... We were made for one another. My fingers burned and ached to caress this paper, to boldly scratch my mind's contents onto it, to jot and doodle and scribe and ponder from edge to edge, corner to corner.

And it was on SALE.

Kismet!

So I took it home.

And as I pulled it out of the bag and placed it ever-so-lovingly on my desktop, I saw my daughter fall in love, and feel the same burn and ache in her fingertips that I'd felt a few hours before.

And I GLARED AT HER.

And I said:

THIS PAPERRRRRRRRRR IS MI-I-I-I-INE! DO NOT TOUCH IT. DO YOU HEAR ME, CARRIE ALEXIS FRIEDOKRA? YOU. DO. NOT. TOUCH. THIS. PAPER. IF YOU TOUCH THIS PAPER -- EVEN ONE PIECE OF IT -- THERE WILL BE EXCRUCIATINGLY BAD CONSEQUENCES FOR YOU.

And she looked at me like I'd lost my mind.

(I suppose it was warranted.)

BUT! Her silence indicated complicity. And I knew I'd made my point.

So I went about my business. And for WEEKS, I sat at my desk every day. Out of the corner of my eye, the paper beckoned and teased, but I was waiting for the right moment, the right thought, the perfect opportunity, to make my first mark on its pristine and perfect surface. It couldn't just be any old phone number or date and time. It had to be a major thing... a special thing... this was my special note pad!

Three days ago I had the amazingly rare opportunity to a) plan menus and b) grocery shop by myself. And I decided. NOW IS THE TIME! I'M GOING TO MAKE MY SHOPPING LIST FOR THIS SPECIAL TRIP ON MY SPECIAL PAPER.

And I did! And Bean watched me, carefully penning each item on the list in dark, rich, black ink which this just-rough-enough paper grabbed and held beautifully. My hand flicked i-dots and t-crosses and curled fancy y and g handles with confidence and artful grace. I am certain, people. SURE AS I WILL TAKE MY NEXT BREATH. That the child watched enraptured with the process and my absolute, sheer joy in the sensation of this pen and paper, and at that moment, took complete leave of her senses.

Again, totally warranted!

And I finished my list, tore it off the pad in one motion, across the perforation in a fast rip that sang out a short HURRAH! of efficiency and accomplishment. And I folded that list and tucked it into my purse, all the while with Bean's two eyes watching me, riveted.

I walked away briefly and returned.

To find.

This girl.

WRITING.

ON A TORN OFF SHEET OF MY PAPER.

And my lips went white with rage.

Through gritted teeth I reminded her: WHAT DID I TELL YOU ABOUT THIS PAPERRRRRRRRRRRR, CARRIE ALEXISSSSSSSSSSSS? ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO BE WRITING ON THIS PAPERRRRRRRRRRRRRR? ALL I WANT IS ONE THING!! ONE. LITTLE. THING! TO BE MINE. CAN I NOT HAVE ONE THING OF MY OWN? HUH? WHY ON EARTH ARE YOU WRITING ON MY PAPERRRRRRRRRR?

And she sobbed out, "I couldn't hellllllllllllp it, Mom! I had tooooooooo!"

And I continued to shout and snort and breathe fire at her as I stormed to her side and looked over her shoulder at MY PAPERRRRRRRRR!

And she had written:

To my famlee and frins:

I love Mom.

I love Dad.

I love Pebode.

I love Kathrin.

I love Kyle.

I love my famlee and my frins.


And my heart exploded. And she cried big old tears and ran up to her bedroom sobbing.

And I am a monster. An insensitive jerk. (I AM!)

And also possibly a complete wimp.

And now we're sharing MY PAPERRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.

Sigh.


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Friday, April 1, 2011

New Life, Day 366

The FriedOkras have been very busy this week enjoying a Spring Break staycation, hence the no-blogging of late. I miss y'all though!

Just wanted to pop in and share a huge milestone that just makes my heart want to hop out of my chest and run around jumping and leaping and giggling and hugging strangers and kissing babies.

Today is the one year anniversary of my amazing friend Meagan's first day of life AFTER BREAST CANCER. And I'm happy to tell you that amidst all the bad news and sadness that 2011 has been dishing out with wild abandon, there's this bright ray of gorgeous sunshine: Meagan celebrates this day (and every day!) vibrant, healthy and full of optimism and hope.

Puh-raise the Lord and pass the pink ribbons, people!

Two weekends ago my 3-Day team, Cure or Bust, hosted our main fundraising event for the year, a big ladies day with lunch and Bunco and prizes and a gigantic silent auction and raffle drawing for over 180 items donated by area businesses. It was an absolute blast. We had 180 ladies in attendance and we raised about $20,000 to fight breast cancer.

(I know!)

We still have money to raise to meet our goal, but WOW! $20,000!!!

To me, the most meaningful part of the whole event was listening to Meagan talk about her experiences this year as a breast cancer survivor. You see, I spent the year feeling happy and full of joy and feeling like we'd beaten the toughest monster out there. Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case for Meagan, who ended her battle with cancer a year ago today only to be dragged into an even tougher fight against a more sinister monster: FEAR.

Oh, how I wish I could share her exact words with you. She so eloquently detailed her heart's struggles to move on with life and the menacing, constant rumble in her mind of that thunderous sentiment: WHAT IF? She worried about missing out on seeing her children grow up and become adults, never seeing her daughter in her wedding dress, never holding the tiny, sweet bundles of her grandbabies for the first time. She wondered daily if she'd get to live the dream of growing old with her life-long sweetheart, her husband John.

For a long time, Meagan kept her fears to herself. I've spent some somber hours pondering how lonely she must have felt and berating myself for not stepping up and ASKING Meagan during those months if she was feeling afraid. I think a huge part of me wanted to believe she WASN'T afraid at all, and that if I asked her the question, I'd plant a seed that would grow into fear that hadn't been there before. But, of course she was fearful already. Of course.

As the year progressed, Meagan finally discussed her fears with her husband and doctors and the ladies in her church small group. Receiving their prayers and support and assurances helped her feel less alone, and reminded her that no matter what happens, she's going to have plenty of people (and one magnificent God) to help her handle it. The final outcome is that, for Meagan, this anniversary marks the end of Year One without cancer, and the beginning of Year One without fear.

I will also tell you that Meagan has been a huge support to my family as we've dealt with the fear and sadness of Owen's battle with leukemia. She's answered so many of my questions, given me so much encouragement and hope, has kept up with Owen's progress and been one of his loudest cheerleaders along the way. The day I got news of Owen's diagnosis, Meagan was with me (along with several of my other close friends) as I cried and worried, and she shared the story of her own fight, as a teenager, with lymphoma. When I thanked her for sharing her own experiences, she told me that she felt blessed to be able to help me as a result of her own struggle.

Meagan will walk again in this year's Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure as a member of Team Cure or Bust. Strong, healthy, beautiful, smart, compassionate, and finally free of fear, she's celebrating her complete healing by giving her own time and energy and heart to create a future without breast cancer.

I am so proud of her, and I know that I'm deeply blessed to have her as a friend.

Photobucket
Meagan and her daughter, Skylar, on the day of our Bunco event.





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