Friday, December 31, 2010

western union

So, today I tried to send money to a friend via the online Western Union process. Let me see if I can list some appropriate words that would all fit into a description of my experience:


I could go on.

So, this is what happened:

I went on the Western Union website to see how to send funds to someone. My first step was to set up a profile. When it asked for my phone number, I entered my cell phone number, because that is the number I use for everything.

I then set up the payment, entering my friend's name and the city. Then I entered my bank account information. When I clicked on the button to complete the transaction, I got a new screen that instructed me to call their customer service number.

I called the number provided and spoke with a woman who was very difficult to understand. She was speaking very fast and I don't think English was her native language. I tried to understand what she was telling me. It had to do with my phone number. They needed to call me to verify that I was really me. I told her that we were speaking on the phone that she would need to call me on, so I didn't see how that would verify my identity. She explained, but I couldn't understand. I asked her to slow down and pronounce each word carefully, but she made no change to her speech. Finally, I asked to speak with a supervisor. She put me on hold and I waited. There was no hold music or anything else to confirm that I was on hold. I kept looking at my phone to be sure I was still connected. Then there was a click and when I looked at the phone, I saw I was disconnected.

I called the number again and got a different person. I gave her the transaction number and she looked it up and told me that the transaction had been canceled because my identity could not be identified. I asked her if there was any way to re-activate the transaction. She told me no, that I would have to start over again. I thanked her and hung up.

Back on the website, I entered a new transaction. This time, when I clicked on the button to finalize the transaction, I got an error message. I called customer service again. This time, I got a third agent. I explained what was going on. She indicated that my phone number needed to be a land line that was listed in my name at the address I had indicated for myself in the transaction. I gave her my land line. She asked me to hold. When she came back, she indicated that their third party verifier could not verify my phone number. I asked what that meant. She said either my number was not listed OR the address was different. While still keeping Western Union on the line on my cell phone, I called 411 on my home phone and asked for a listing for myself. Information had no trouble confirming that my name and address matched.

I asked the Western Union agent for a supervisor. The supervisor explained to me that because their third party verifier could not verify my phone number, that they could not allow my transaction to go through. I explained that I had no trouble verifying my phone number by dialing 411 and wondered if he could do the same so we could complete the transaction. He indicated that he could not do this. So, once again, I was told that my transaction would be canceled. We ended the call.

At this point, I decided to go out on my bank's website and just create a check to mail to my friend. I was shocked to find B-O-T-H Western Union transactions posted as debits to my account. The total was just under $1000. I almost fainted. I called the Western Union customer service number and explained my situation. I was told that I would have my money back in 1-2 weeks. I explained that this was totally unacceptable. I asked for a supervisor.

The supervisor indicated that she would call my bank and take care of the issue. While I stayed on the line, she called my bank. She explained to the customer service agent at my bank that the transactions had been canceled and asked him to take the authorizations off my account. My bank's customer service agent said he could not do that at her request. The request needed to come from me (the bank customer). I spoke up and said I was on the line and that I was making the request. My bank's customer service agent indicated that I would need to call back and enter my identifying information, then ask to speak to an agent. The Western Union agent disconnected us from the bank agent.

She dialed the bank again. This time, I entered my SSN. The bank's automated voice began to repeat my SSN back to me and the Western Union agent. I interrupted before the whole number was repeated. I indicated the the Western Union agent that I did not think that this was a very secure way to handle the situation. I told her I would call the bank directly. I ended the call.

I called my bank, got through to an agent and explained the situation. The agent indicated that I could not request that the authorization be removed, that only Western Union could do that. I explained that another agent had indicated the opposite. I asked for a supervisor. I was placed on hold until once again, I was disconnected.

At this point, I have almost $1000 being held from my account and my friend still has no money from me. I decided that I should wait a bit before I call anyone again. I might have a stroke if I allow myself to get any more upset than I am at this moment.

Suffice it to say that I will NEVER use the Western Union online site again and I will tell everyone I know to avoid it like the plague.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

invisible and irresistible

About twelve years ago, I made fun of an older colleague because it was clear that she was drawing her eyebrows on her face and I thought it looked ridiculous. The person I was talking to made a funny face, which I now think meant, "just keep on living". This morning, as I was drawing on my own eyebrows, it occurred to me that life truly does teach you everything you need to know. Sometimes life just takes its own sweet time.

Each time I can't find my car in a parking lot, for instance, I remember another colleague who once offered me a ride to my building because it was raining. I accepted and followed her up and down multiple aisles in a parking lot before she remembered that she had parked in the OTHER lot. I finally gave up and ran to my building, getting soaked in the process. I stopped telling that hysterically funny story when I started losing my own car.

I also remember pointing to older, chubbier women and whispering, "shoot me if I ever start to look like that". I'm not sure whether to be thankful for the fact that none of my older friends own guns or that they have simply forgotten my unnecessary, rude comments. Because I look like that. I look just like that.

The year I became permanently invisible to gorgeous young men was a transition that has been difficult to accept. I'm fortunate that the same man who found me irresistible at age 20 still finds me so at age 52. He apparently still thinks I am the same size as well, judging from the items he purchases in size Petite Small. (This is both charmingly sweet and annoying.) But turnaround is fair play, so I still find him irresistible too.

Now I am on the sharp lookout for the next stage of life, so it will not catch me off guard. My brain tells me that it isn't possible to really prepare. Each change will hit me square between the eyes, just like it does everyone else. Heck, aging on Sims3 was a shock! How do you turn that off, anyway? You can't. Just like you can't turn aging off in real life. Just jump in and hold on for dear life!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

philly serial killer

The Philadelphia police think there is a serial killer on the loose in the Kensington area of the city. Two bodies have been found so far, and one woman has reported surviving an attack that is similar to the modus operandus of the two other victims. It's early for the police to be trying to make such a connection, but I suppose they want to be sure that they get the warning to potential victims. Scary!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

demanding air passenger amazes and amuses

If I had the ability to personally thank the idiotic young woman who provided the entertainment on my trip home from Miami, I certainly would! There I was, in seat 26C (when my reservation had indicated that I would be in 6D), seething about the fact that I was in the LAST ROW of that darn airplane, with my boarding card mocking me by claiming that mine was a CHOICE seat on that U.S. Airways flight. The plane took off and the entertainment began.

A young Asian woman climbed out of her middle seat a few rows ahead of me, and came down the aisle towards the toilets. She was wearing skin tight jeans, a short sleeved t-shirt and a baseball cap covered in pink sequins and rhinestones. As she approached, the gentleman seated just in front of me stood and joined the short queue for the toilets. The young woman made a loud noise, similar to one that a Beverly Hills teenager might make if someone offended her in some way. "Uh!," she huffed and rolled her eyes. Instead of standing behind him, she plopped down into his seat and began to complain loudly about the ridiculous wait that she had to endure in order to use the toilet. Three more people joined the queue while she whined and complained. When a flight attendant happened by, the young woman stood up, stopped her and demanded to know why she could not go use the toilet in the first class section of the airplane. The flight attendant, having probably answered this question about a BILLION times, politely answered the young woman. "That is RIDICULOUS!", the young woman responded. The flight attendant simply walked away.

The cartoon about the Angry Little Asian Girl (drawn by Lela Lee) popped into my head. At this point, I could contain myself no longer and I burst out laughing hysterically. The young woman looked at me in shock. I think she imagined that she might have a sympathetic audience. I said, "You've been watching too much reality television." She just looked at me as if I was from outer space. At that point, the short line moved forward and she stepped into a toilet. Now I don't want to speculate as to what she was doing in there, but at least nine people, including a young father with two children in tow, entered and exited the other toilet before she finally came out. As she returned to her seat, she talked loudly about the ridiculous inconvenience of the airplane toilet.

Since this pathetic young woman was occupying the middle seat in the back of the plane, I doubt very seriously that she was entitled to any rock star treatment, but she certainly behaved as if she was entitled. I thought about the unhappy life she had ahead of her. Nothing will ever be good enough. Nobody will ever satisfy her. Food will be returned. Service personnel will be berated. Shopkeepers will be taken to task. She is destined to leave a trail of unhappy people everywhere she goes.

Or - maybe she will grow up. I hope so! Life is far more pleasant when one is kind to people and one expects kindness in return. The older I get, the more I see that the attitude I bring to each day is such a huge factor in how that day turns out. The more I can talk myself into a happy place, the easier my day seems to progress. I hope I don't forget that as I get older! If I do, please remind me!

Saturday, October 30, 2010


This is a beautiful grave marker that I spotted while riding past a cemetery in Emmaus, PA. I thought it was so beautiful. I was in the back seat of the car, but I yelled out, "I want to take a picture of that!" Emily Jean drove around the block and returned to the spot. I got out and went over to take the photo. When I got closer, I still thought it was a gorgeous carving of Jesus. But I was shocked to see a huge bird dropping on Jesus' head. The poop had trickled down into the hand of Jesus. I took the picture anyway, thinking that I would eventually think of the perfect thing that this was a metaphor for. But it still hasn't come to me. What do you think?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

happy birthday to me

Fifty-two does not feel particularly momentous. In fact, it feels an awful lot like fifty-one. The cake candles do not burn brighter than the previous year. This year however, the cake was accompanied by a fire extinguisher, thoughtfully provided by an employee. That was new!

So what fresh ideas pop into my head as a way of marking this annual recognition of time?

I would like to suddenly become wealthy. But even as this idea pops into my head, simultaneous thoughts rush in. 'Be careful what you wish for! Your wealth could be a legal settlement for paralysis! It could attract bad guys who kidnap you and then murder you after they get the ransom! It could be in the form of lottery winnings which might attract crazy people bent on destroying your new, wealthy lifestyle! It could be profits from that newly published novel, which attract a stalker who imagines you as his soul mate!'

I may not be wealthy, but I have a rich imagination.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

words, glorious words

On NBC's Today Show recently, Katie Couric used "zeitgiest", "kismet moment" and "American psyche" all in the same sentence. And suddenly I understood, for the very first time, why liberal Democrats (or progressives) lose the rest of the country. We like our intellect a bit too much. We love words and people who don't know words are intimidated. So they do what they did in high school. They create their own circle and they tell the smartypants people that they can't come in. Yes, I know. This is an extreme oversimplification. I don't care. I had a kismet moment. HAHA

Sunday, August 29, 2010

oya and sophia

People often ask me how I happened to choose the pen name OyaSophia. I was actually pretty deliberate about it. I wanted to be inspired by the stories and images of Goddesses. Since I knew nothing about Goddesses, I did some research.

Oya is the Yoruban Goddess of storms (or fierce winds or tempests). She is often depicted handling a tornado or some lightning. She is all about change and transformation. She is a Warrior Queen. What a wonderful muse for a writer! Oya is also a nurturing, protective mother. Anyone who has been a mother knows the overwhelming power you feel when you believe that your child is in danger. We would do anything to protect our babies. This is the power of Oya. But by herself, she was a bit too fierce. So I added Sophia.

Sophia is the Gnostic Goddess of wisdom. She is often presented as the most grounded of the divine. In the Gnostic Gospels found in Nag Hammadi, she was presented as the third manifestation of God, but was later altered to remove her feminine identification and transformed into what we now think of as "The Holy Spirit". (She also appears in many other religions, but is most powerful and wise in the Gnostic tradition.) Some people believe that Leonardo Da Vinci painted her just to the right of God in that famous Sistine Chapel painting that shows God reaching out his hand to Jesus. Go take a look!

Together, Oya and Sophia represent wisdom that comes from going through a storm. I often write to try to make sense of situations that I have weathered. I'm eager to learn.

Goddesses are symbols of the divine aspects of the feminine. Too often, women disappear from religious stories, or are regulated to minor roles. Any woman who has made it past childhood can tell story after story after story of women who have transformed situations, who have persevered, who have held each other up, who have swiftly and fairly meted out justice, who have stood tall in the face of danger, fear, the unknown or simply in the face of change. We know, instinctively, that women are powerful. I love the Goddesses because they represent our feminine power.

When I see the name OyaSophia on my blog title, it inspires me and humbles me. I am more careful about what I say. I am more aware of the responsibility I have as a woman and as a writer. It can't just be about me. My writing has to also be about how the reader may or may not be transformed. I hope that I am inspired by Oya and Sophia. I also hope that the inspiration will reach through my words and inspire others to be in touch with their creative side!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

the pantry

The pantry in my Memphis home was huge. As a result, I could never find anything. Now, in my off hours, I am unpacking the boxes packed by the moving company and I'm finding many duplications of goods. I count five cans of diced tomatoes, three cans of tomato paste, four cans of cream of chicken soup and so on.

Not only does my tiny new home in Eagleville, PA lack a pantry, there is very little cabinet space in the kitchen. I have far too many things to fit in the space!

In my preparation to move from 4000 square feet to 950+ square feet, I was so busy paring down my furniture and accessories and clothes, that I failed to consider all of the stuff in that pantry. But all of these duplications makes me consider whether this isn't a good lesson for my life.

Is it possible that I have so much that I fail to see what I have? Are diced tomatoes symbolic of some other blessing that I have in abundance that I fail to be thankful for on any given day? Am I, in fact, seeking what I already have?

This is not the first time I have been faced with this lesson. When my son was six years old, I was running late one wintry morning and raced out to the car, only to find it covered with ice. I wanted to cry and silently complained to God as I scraped the ice from the passenger side of the car, "Could you not send me an angel who would do this for me?" I meant a partner in life, of course, a man who would scrape the ice from my car and do so many of the other tasks that husbands traditionally do. As I felt the full force of my bitterness flowing from me into that ice scraper, I glanced through the hole I was creating and noticed my son's sweet face smiling brightly at me through the hole he was creating in the ice on the other side of the car. I already had an angel. I smiled back and felt ashamed. Count your blessings, my grandfather used to tell us, count them - every one.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Then, there they are. The letters from his time in Iraq staring back at me from the cardboard box where they have been stored for these many years. I look at them, debating whether to open and read them again. I know that re-reading the letters, and, oh look, there are some greeting cards too from after he got back, will bring a huge sadness because ... well, because Jamie isn't walking on this Earth anymore. And I missed time with him, so busy with my own life.

I decide to open and read one card and pick one up at random. It is a Christmas card, no envelope, so I don't even know the year. But the content tells me it is after Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He is in the Golden Knights and he is headed to Arizona for off-season training. He is 8 months with his current girlfriend and things are looking promising for this relationship. His phone is changed because he was getting collections calls for two people he didn't even know. And he loves me and misses me.

And then I cry, mourning the loss of my friend again, wishing I had known that he needed a friend, needed me, towards the end of his life, wishing I could have been there for him. My mind goes through our long friendship. In college, when he longed for me, I was in love with someone else. Then, years later, after my divorce, when I was ready to love him back, he spiraled away from me. Then we just settled into a friendship. We were pen pals through Desert Shield and Storm. He wrote some of the most amazing letters ever. I can't read them right now. Maybe in a few years.

I hold him in a special place in my heart. He was my precious friend. Desperado. Jamie. I love you, sweetheart. Rest in peace.

Friday, July 23, 2010


The last few weeks in Memphis were pretty hectic. There was a going away party at work, complete with bar-b-q and all the trimmings. (Thank you, Phyllis!) There were projects to complete at work. There was a week spent with the guy who will be pinch-hitting as the president of the campus until a permanent president is named. There were many, many private conversations with students and employees who had warm things to say to me.

Meanwhile, there were conversations with landlords (attempts on the Memphis end and success on the PA end), utility companies (both ends), and moving companies (estimates, then the actual planning with the company selected to handle the move). There was a new home for Scamp, the little dog that I found back in December. (Thank you, Marcus!)

Then the last day of work was upon me! More conversations with very special employees and precious students. I turned over my keys to my wonderful Office Manager and carried the last of my belongings out to the car. I drove away, not feeling sad about my departure. It felt right.

Saturday and Sunday, I flew through the house like a tornado, packing up all remaining crap that I did not want. All kinds of people came by in response to my three new Craig's List ads. More books and clothes and furniture went out the door. All of the empty boxes from my move to Memphis were picked up by a young couple moving to Texas. (I had held on to them, just in case I was financing my next move. You never know!) I also packed up my belongings that were going with me in my car, including my Grandmother McClarin's Limoges.

On Monday, the packers arrived. They worked fast. I finally heard from my Landlord, who gave me phone numbers for carpet people and cleaning people. I warned him that I might not be able to get everything done. He reassured me that he could put a lockbox on the door and the people he had recommended could come and go even if I wasn't there. Monday night I stayed at a hotel since everything was packed. I left Joe at the house because I figured it would be less stressful.

On Tuesday, the truck arrived and the movers carried all of my stuff out. The carpet guy came and I paid him almost a thousand dollars to replace the carpet that Scamp had damaged. (That was an expensive stray!!!) Then 1-800-GOT-JUNK arrived to pack up all the remaining crap in the house and garage. Whew!

On Wednesday, I did some cleaning at the house. Then I visited Comcast to turn in my cable box and the post office to complete a change of address. I took Joe to the hotel and he immediately burrowed under the bed covers.

Thursday, I hit the road! Joe was not a happy camper to find himself back in the cat carrier. Like a fool, I decided to drive all the way to Staunton, VA on the first day. I was trying to aim for the halfway point, but I couldn't find a cat-friendly hotel, so I kept getting further down the road. I didn't make a reservation though. Instead, I left it open. I figured if I got tired enough, I would be willing to sneak him in to a hotel that was NOT cat-friendly. But I did make it. The last 45 minutes was really hard. Ten hours was TOO MUCH for me for one day.

I thought it was appropriate to listen to gospel music while I traveled through the mountains of Tennessee. Joe's meows punctuated the music as he sang the kitty blues. It sounded kind of like this:

"I am a poor (meow!) wayfaring stranger, traveling through (meow!) this world of woe. Yet there’s no sickness (meow!) no toil or danger (meow!) in that bright world to which I go."

The hotel I ended up at was a but dumpy, but it was serviceable. Joe did not like it at all. He was jumpy the entire time we were there. I've seen lots of stories on bedbugs lately, so I was VERY paranoid and checked the bed closely. I called Daddy and he said that I really needed to go have breakfast at Mrs. Rowe's. I carefully set my alarm so I would have time to do that and still get into the Philly area before rush hour. I went to sleep with visions of Mrs. Rowe's spoon bread dancing in my head. Unfortunately, I forgot to change my clock from Central to Eastern time, so I got up an hour later than I intended. Sigh.

One visit to McDonald's later, I was on the road. My car's GPS routed me through Washington, D.C. When I ran MapQuest prior to my departure, it routed me through Harrisburg, PA. The D.C. route was a killer, with tolls galore. Maybe there would have been as many tolls going the other way. I will have to reactivate my E-Z-Pass account now that I am back in toll booth country!

Now I am safely esconced in my hotel room in PA. I called my mover after I arrived and was told my belongings won't be here until some point next week. That means I need to get comfortable in this hotel room. Joe is happy here. He is sound asleep beside me.

Since my stuff is not going to be delivered tomorrow, I plan to drive over to Allentown to visit my Dad. But my first task for tomorrow is to go to my apartment complex and pay the deposit and pick up my keys. I can't wait!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

two saturdays remaining

This is getting hard! I have two Saturdays left before the packers come and I still have a TON of stuff to sort through. I just refuse to take this crap with me! My greatest enemy is procrastination! I start something, then get distracted, then sit down to take a break and time passes ... help!

Monday, June 21, 2010

so help me god

I have an old friend with whom I've recently reconnected on Facebook. His son was sworn in to the United States Army today. My friend was pretty upset because the Lieutenant in charge of the swearing in gave the soldiers a choice about whether to end their oath with "so help me, God". My friend is a conservative, a blue collar worker and he believes strongly in the Christian faith. His post ended with the statement "the liberals are taking over".

After I read my friend's post, I thought about a book I had read entitled So Help Me God: The Founding Fathers and the First Great Battle Over Church and State, authored by Forrest Church. The author cites numerous historical documents that show quite clearly that separation of church and state was an issue way back at the birth of our nation. It has never been a settled issue and probably never will be. Although I had no hope that it would make any difference whatsoever, I added a comment suggesting that folks interested in this issue might want to read Church's book.

But more interesting to me were the comments that other friends added to his post. One friend added the comment, "or less government interference in personal beliefs". At first I thought she was giving a contrary opinion to his. To me, less interference would mean that each person would decide for himself/herself about whether to add "so help me, God" to an oath. But after a few other people left comments indicating how disgusted they were at each enlistee being given a choice, she added another comment, "Is this America?"

I don't think she was even aware of how contradictory her two comments were. On the one hand, she was suggesting that the government stop interfering with private religious decisions. But on the other hand, she was indicating that she would like the government to force every person enlisting in the United States military to end the oath with "so help me, God". None of the commenters said anything contradictory to this train of thought. My comment came as close as I dared without risking endless flaming.

This is the problem with debates like this. Most of my friends, who are admittedly liberal to one degree or another, would state their opinion, then follow it with a statement that indicated that they would be fine with all people deciding for themselves. My few conservative friends are absolutely adamant that everyone should think like them. And many of them go on to add that anyone who doesn't agree with them is anti-American, evil, unpatriotic, anti-military, stupid or some other negative description. Insults usually fly in the direction of anyone who disagrees. And facts are NOT WELCOME.

The TEA Party, for instance, feels they are "Taxed Enough Already" and are protesting wildly all over the country. When you point out to them that some of the largest tax cuts for the middle class have been passed by Congress within the last year, under a Democratic president and a Democratic-controlled Congress, they refuse to believe it. For them, Democrats mean MORE taxes, so they do not want to be confused with the facts.

I am absolutely amazed at this failure of grown men and women to read and do their own research. They blindly repeat the conservative talking heads. There are probably times when I am guilty of believing the liberal talking heads, without doing my own research. But most of the time, I want to see the evidence with my own eyes. That's what we should ALL do, in my opinion. Demand to see the evidence!!!

Sunday, June 20, 2010


The week of July 19th will be the week that I relocate to Pennsylvania. There is so much to get done before then. It seems such a short time ago that I was going through this process to get ready for my move to Memphis. Moving is exciting, but it can also be really annoying!

Step One

Find a place to live in Pennsylvania. This is COMPLETE! I'll be living in a small apartment in Norristown, PA.

Step Two

Contact movers. Schedule walk-through to get estimates. I have to provide three estimates to my company. Then they will tell me which mover to use.

Step Three

Schedule PACK date for packers to come pack all of my stuff. Schedule LOAD date for the day the movers actually load my stuff on the truck. Schedule DELIVER date for the day the movers actually deliver my stuff to my new apartment.

Step Four

Sort and categorize. Am I packing it, selling it, throwing it away or giving it to charity? I am EXTREMELY thankful that my friend (Holly) has agreed to come to Memphis to help me with this project. My home is almost 4000 square feet and I am moving into a 1000 square foot space. I am thrilled to be down-sizing, but I am also fearful that I will not get rid of enough stuff.

Step Five

Yard sale!!! Holly is helping me with this too.

Step Six

Throw out or donate anything that doesn't go at the yard sale.

Step Seven

Packers, loaders do their thing.

Step Eight

Clean that house!

Step Nine

Contact all utilities and schedule shut off dates.

Step Ten

Submit change of address to post office.

Step Eleven


During this same time period, I have a school to run, employees to supervise, problems to solve, a trip to New Jersey for a conference, a trip to North Carolina for a family reunion and two animals to deal with. I have still not found a home for Scamp, the Toy Fox Terrier who appeared in my neighborhood in December. I simply can NOT take him with me, so I am afraid I am getting closer and closer to an inevitable trip to the animal shelter where he will almost certainly be euthanized. Very sad!!!

This should be an interesting time!!!

Friday, June 4, 2010

oil slick & tar balls

The cruise I took last week followed a track around the island nation of Cuba. So, from Fort Lauderdale, we took a short jaunt to an island in the Bahamas. Then we sailed around the Eastern end of Cuba and tracked back to the west towards Jamaica. Then we skipped further west to Grand Cayman. A little past the southwestern tip of Cuba, we stopped at Cozumel. After leaving Cozumel, we sailed back east across the northern coast of Cuba, just east of the Gulf of Mexico for a full day at sea.

There was a period of time during that sea day that I sat out on our balcony looking out at the ocean. It was the last day of the cruise, which always brings some sadness. I was gazing down at the water when I noticed that the surface of the water had a strange sheen to it that I did not remember ever noticing on any of my prior cruises. I stood up to take a closer look. My neighbor happened to be out on his balcony. He asked me, "Does that look like oil to you?" It did. I nodded my head. The pattern in the sheen could not have been the result of just water.

Watching CNN coverage of the oil spill off the coast of Louisiana, one would think that it is not possible that we could have seen oil on the water that far south. But I truly think that we did.

This morning, tar balls began washing up on the beaches of Pensacola. If you've never vacationed on the west coast of Florida, this may not bring tears to your eyes like it did mine.

I am completely amazed that there are multiple people who shamelessly pontificate about the harmless nature of this oil spill. "There is always some oil naturally spilling into the ocean from oil sources." "Five years from now, this oil spill will have been naturally absorbed." "The liberal media is already running the sad pictures of the birds covered with oil, all designed to convince people that this is a catastrophic event." Logodaedaly usually amuses. In this case, it just makes me furious.

My prediction is that British Petroleum will ride this out with very little consequence. I do not trust politicians to hold BP accountable. And I believe that lawyers could keep any final decisions in stasis for years and years and years.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

May 30 - travel day

Disembarkation is always an interesting affair. Nobody wants to get off the ship. Everybody wants to stay. So people are tired and crabby and not looking forward to the travel day. Princess has a wonderful disembarkation process, however. They divide everyone into groups based on how and when you are scheduled to leave the port city of Fort Lauderdale. Each group is assigned to a different part of the ship and when it is your turn to go, a crew member simply tells you that you can go. This REALLY beats the old system of people scattered randomly throughout the entire ship and the intercom being used to make announcements about who can now leave the ship. That was chaotic.

I had purchased bus transfers to the Fort Lauderdale airport, so we were in one of the earlier groups, scheduled to disembark at 8:10 a.m. So I set my alarm for 7:00 a.m. The alarm went off at 7:00 a.m. Unfortunately, my attempt to hit the snooze button actually turned the alarm off. Fortunately, I woke up on my own at 7:40 a.m. After scurrying around like crazy people, we actually arrived at our appointed waiting area a minute or two prior to them telling us we could go.

Sam had purchased a small knife in Mexico and the ship had confiscated it. He was told that when he checked himself off the ship that a little alarm bell would ring and that the crew member could quickly look in the computer and see that the alarm signified that they were holding something. Since they knew the time and place of our departure in advance, they had his purchase waiting at that location and presto! We would be done. So, when the little alarm sounded, we were not startled. And he stepped to the side to collect his purchase. But when I checked out, the little alarm sounded again. A crew member stepped forward and asked me for my name. I told her. She explained that she had been asked to escort me to the United States Customs agents. My heart skipped a beat. The Princess crew member escorted me (and Sam) all the way down the exit to the area where you collect your suitcases, then on into the Customs area. The Customs agent asked me for my passport, my customs declaration and any proof of purchases. Luckily I had all of that ready! It seems that the cost of my little bauble had put me into the "must pay duty" category, but since my purchase was duty free, it was much ado about nothing! And we were allowed to go out the side exit, ahead of the 100 suckers who had been ahead of us in line. Yay!!!!!

It was at that moment that I realized that I had accidentally thrown our airport bus transfer tickets away the night before. So, we got in the taxi line and rode to the airport! Then the fun REALLY began! Our ship held about 3500 people. But there were several other ships that arrived that morning. So several thousand people converged upon the Fort Lauderdale and Miami airports simultaneously. Can you say MADHOUSE? I warned Sam in advance, but you have to see it to believe it.

The Fort Lauderdale airport has solved the problem by only allowing folks to check in two hours in advance of their departure time. The rest of us found floor space and got ready to WAIT. Sam and I were soon joined by the young couple we had met at the wine tasting, then climbed Dunn's River Falls with. They are such a fun, interesting, SMART couple. We sat together for a while. Then Sam was able to check in and go through to the gates for his 12:30 p.m. flight. A little while later, the couple was able to check in and go through to the gate for their 1:30 p.m. flight. Left to my own devices, I quickly made friends with a young man on my left from Philadelphia and two girlfriends on my right who were from Memphis and would be on my flight. We all enjoyed conversation so much that the time flew by. Then it was time to go through for our 4:30 p.m. flight. Yay!

I stopped to eat some chicken fingers and the two girlfriends from Memphis joined me. We talked and laughed until it was time to board our flight. We all agreed that we wished we had met two years ago when I first arrived in Memphis! They were so much fun.

Two sad notes today: A passenger died on the girlfriends' cruise ship. (I can't remember which ship they were on - not mine.) They had none of the details. And a crew member committed suicide by jumping overboard during the Oasis of the Seas voyage this week. He was a 45 year-old assistant waiter from St. Vincent & The Grenadines. Royal Caribbean declined to give his name, but they apparently have security footage showing him taking the leap. The ship apparently missed one of their ports of call because they were searching for him with the assistance of the U.S. Coast Guard and the Bahamian authorities. Very, very sad!!!

The flight was uneventful. I found my car, got in and received an immediate reminder that I was almost out of gas. I asked the attendant at the exit where the nearest gas station was and she told me. I then drove in that direction, found a gas station and attracted quite a bit of attention because I really stood out! I got 5 gallons and moved on!!!

At home, I found an incredibly affectionate cat, a pile of mail and NO FOOD. So now I am on my way out to get something to eat.

Thanks for joining me on my travels!!!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

May 29 - at sea day

I woke up this morning at 8:30 a.m. Sam was still asleep so I decided to close my eyes for a few more minutes. The next thing I knew, the phone was ringing. It was the spa wondering where I was for my 10:45 a.m. appointment. I looked at the clock. It was 10:50 a.m.!!! How in the heck did that happen???

I rushed upstairs to the spa. My hot stone massage felt rushed and rather perfunctory. It wasn’t the worst massage I ever had, but it was close. And, because I had pre-booked, I was charged the full price rather than the Today’s Special price that everyone else that booked at the last minute got, which gave them a $30 savings. I made up my mind to stop pre-booking massages. From now on, when I cruise, I will book only when they have specials that I am interested in receiving.

Sam had already had breakfast by the time I got back, so he went to get me a hot dog and Coke. While he was gone, I watched dolphins cavort in the water next to the ship. They are such graceful creatures. I tried to take pictures, but I kept missing their jumps. All I captured in the pictures were the splashes!

Sam and I watched TV together for a short while. Then we got ourselves together and went to the final Bingo game because the $2000 jackpot MUST GO!!!!!! (Jane and I won the big jackpot on one of our prior cruises, so I know it is possible!) Sam and I did not win. But one of my cards was only two numbers away from a win - darn it!!

After Bingo, we went to look at jewelry and I bought myself a little bauble. Sam went to the pool for one last swim and one last chance at catching some sun. I went to the cabin to start getting packed - boo hoo!!! You have to put your bags out before you go to dinner. Deciding what to KEEP is tough. You need something to wear that night and something to wear for your travel day and something to sleep in, plus assorted toiletries. I solved the problem by purchasing a rolling computer bag which has room for about one or two nights worth of clothing. I love this new bag!!! So, I figured what I was keeping and packed the rest. In the process of sorting through everything, I threw away all of the papers that had accumulated throughout the length of the cruise. Unfortunately, I threw out our bus transfer tickets that I had carefully purchased in advance. But I didn't dicover that until the next morning.

Sam returned from his last pool visit and started to pack up his things. Once we both had our bags in the hall, we left the room for our last dinner. On this night we shared a table with a delightful British mother and daughter. The mother was a bit older than me and the daughter was about six years older than Sam. They were wonderful dinner companions - my favorites of the entire cruise. Sam enjoyed talking with them too. The only really negative aspect of this final dinner of the cruise was something I am now referring to as "The Flan Incident".

As we were enjoying our entrees, I couldn't avoid noticing that a table for ten next to us were all served Flan for dessert. I was very excited because I absolutely LOVE Flan or Creme Caramel or Creme Brulee. But when it came time for us to order dessert, I did not find anything on the menu. Flan is a permanent fixture on the room service menu, so I figured this was how the table next to ours had gotten it. So I asked our waiter if I could have a Flan. Our waiter said that I could not have a Flan because it was not on the menu tonight. Puzzled, I pointed to the table next to ours. He explained that this had been arranged in advance. I stated the obvious - that Flan is always available on the room service menu, so must be in the kitchen, so couldn't he please just go get me one? He excused himself. I was happy, thinking he had gone to get me a Flan. Nope! The Head Waiter presented himself. Is there a problem, says he? Yes, I say, there is no Flan on the table in front of me! The Head Waiter explains that Flan is not on the menu tonight. Had we arranged something in advance, he could have accomodated us, but since we did not, he is unable to help us. Knowing that this is ridiculous, I ask if I can use a house phone to call room service and have them deliver some Flan to me at our table. The Head Waiter was not amused. I finally gave up. I should have asked for the Maitre d', but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I have spent thousands of dollars between cruise fare, airfare, spa treatments, my new bauble and multiple coffees, sodas and alcoholic beverages, but I could not have a Flan. Ah, such is life ...

After dinner, Sam went out and I settled in to the cabin to get some sleep because I knew the travel day would be crazy. I was right!!!

Friday, May 28, 2010

May 28 - Cozumel

This morning I was down at the coffee bar getting a Vanilla Latte and Sam tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around and he was with two friends I hadn’t met before. He gestured in my direction and said, “This is my Mom.” One of the two girls didn’t even look in my direction. The other one looked over at me as if I was a distasteful looking slug and turned away again. I looked at Sam with a “You have GOT to be kidding me” look on my face. He shrugged. I said, “Ohhh-kayyy” and turned my back to them as my drink arrived. Behind me, I heard one of the two girls shout, “Bye, Mom!”, in an incredibly sarcastic tone. She was very lucky that she was out of sight by the time I turned back around, because I think I probably would have felt compelled to teach her some manners. The waiter asked, “Are those your children ditching you for the day?” I replied, “That was my son and a couple of skanks he probably just met.”

After I got my Latte, I went up to the breakfast buffet. I fixed my plate and went in search of a table. The tables are usually all taken, but you can choose to join a table, if you don’t mind sitting with people you don’t know. Usually this guarantees interesting conversation and you might even make new friends. I spotted a table with six chairs that had only two people, a couple, sitting at it. I asked if I could join them. They said yes, so I sat down. They then proceeded to ignore me the entire time I sat there, which is most unusual. Since this was happening immediately after the incident with Sam’s “friends” ignoring me, I developed a bit of a complex, but thankfully it only lasted for the time I was at the table. When I was finished eating I stood and politely thanked them for allowing me to join them. They just looked at me. Some people are very odd!

I spent most of the day in the Sanctuary. When I couldn’t avoid the sun anymore, I came back to the cabin and caught the latest James Bond movie. That Daniel Craig is a great James Bond. Interestingly enough, we have a Head Waiter in the Da Vinci dining room who is a dead ringer for Daniel Craig, but a bit older and not as svelte. He enjoyed being compared to him, however! He said he was on a secret assignment.

As we left Cozumel, the ship turned and I had a view of the sunset over the ocean. It was an incredible sight. I took some pictures, but none of them really did justice to the event. At one point, I glanced up at the bridge and saw an officer filming the sunset. When the sun had completely disappeared, all of the passengers that had been watching broke out in spontaneous applause and cheers.

Sam came back to the room at about 7:30 p.m. and we got dressed and went to dinner. He was nursing a mild hangover. To my left at the table were two sisters who were about my age. To their left was a couple who were in their sixties. To Sam’s right was a young couple about his age, maybe a little older. The older gentleman was in his cups quite a bit and slurred through everything he said. He had seen two beautiful German girls the night before while he was sitting at a bar and he told us about them about ten times. Each time his wife would just roll her eyes. I’m sure she wanted to throw her water glass in his face. Frankly, I wouldn’t have blamed her!!! I wanted to do it myself! The sisters were wonderful. I really enjoyed talking with them. Sam left the table after dessert, followed shortly by the young couple. I was enjoying conversation with the sisters, but the older gentleman kept butting in with unrelated topics, including – what else – the beautiful German girls. I finally excused myself and got up from the table.

As I began to walk away, I heard the older gentleman call out to me. “Ma’am!” I decided to pretend that I did not hear him because the last thing I wanted was to get cornered by a disgusting, old, drunk man. He was persistent, however. “Ma’am! You say you’re a college president. We need a college president!” I continued walking quickly, hoping he would give up. “Ma’am! Ma’am! Ma’am!” I was walking so fast that he had to be running to keep up with me. I heard him tell someone, “I can’t catch her.” I reached the entrance to the dining room, “Ma’am!”, went out the door and made a quick right turn to the back staircase, then a quick left turn to the elevators, skirted right to the shops and practically ran to the casino. I didn’t hear him shouting at me anymore. But I still didn’t slow down. I wound my way through the casino, then to the next set of elevators, walked up one flight of stairs, then paused to catch my breath. I think watching that James Bond movie had an impact on me because I felt like I had outrun some secret agents!

Back in the room, Sam was stretched out on his bunk listening to Mike’s IPod. He had decided to stay in. I told him what had happened with the man. He was equally disgusted. We watched a little television. He fell asleep before I did, but I wasn’t long behind him.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

May 27 - Grand Cayman

Today was a beautiful day. Sam went ashore with friends. I stayed on the ship in the Sanctuary. Time seems to stand still in that place. I had the attendant turn my lounge chair towards the outside of the ship so I could look at the beautiful ocean, the shallows and the beaches beyond. The colors were just fantastic. As the breezes blew across the water, turquoise would turn to azure and then to a light navy blue, then back again. Turquoise stripes generally marked the more shallow places, but the colors seemed to move across the waters at times. It was lovely.

Sam and I had dinner tonight at Sabatini Restaurant. Our reservation was for 8:30 p.m. and we did not leave the restaurant until 10:15 p.m. Sabatini has an interesting concept. You select your main course. Then they begin bringing you every appetizer in the place. You can take as much of each as you wish. For your reading pleasure, here is a list of the appetizers:

Prosciutto E Melone – Italian Cured Parma Ham Sweet Peppered Melon

Porcini All’ Olio Vergine – Porcini Mushrooms, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Roasted Garlic Puree

Calamari Fritti – Crisp Fried, Tender Calamari, Parsley, Sea Salt and Citris Aiolo

Zucchini Dorati – Battered in Buttermilk and Parmesan, Chili and Anchovy Romesco

Bresaola Della Valtellina – Air Dried Beef Fillet, Arugula Salad, Shaved Parmesan

Insalata Di Gamberi E Carciofi – Tender Shrimp and Marinated Artichoke with White Truffle Oil

Polpettine Di Granchio – Devilled Crab Cakes, Roasted Chili Remoulade, Scallion and Red Radish

Flan Di Ricotta All’ Aglio Dolce – Ricotta Cheese and Elephant Garlic Flan, Beet Root Leaf, Sun Blushed Tomato

You are then offered soup or salad:

Brodo Di Pollo Con Fagioli – Chicken Broth, White Beans, Garden Fresh Vegetables and Baked Ciabatta Crouton

Zuppa Di Pomodoro Con Frutti Di Mare – Tomato Soup, Grilled Shellfish, Gremolata and Lemon Confit

Insalata Mista Profumata Con Aceto Balsamico E Cipolline – Tender Baby Field Greens, Pepperoncini, Chi-Chis, Pecorino and Shallot Vinaigrette

Then comes the pasta course. There are two types and you are offered both:

Ravioli Di Ricotta E Tartufo – Hand made Potato and Ricotta Ravioli, Truffle, Reggiano and Burro Fuso

Pappardelle Al Sugo Di Funghi – Wide Egg Noodles Simmered in a Mushroom Veloute, Tender Asparagus, Baby Spinach and Fresh Tomato

Then, choose your main entrée from these:

Branzino Al Forno – Roasted Chilean Bass with a Whole Grain Mustard Crust, Lemon Asparagus. Mustard Green Salad

Grigliata Di Scampi – Broiled Langoustines with Tomato, Spinach, Capers, Potato and Champagne Butter

Aragosta Alla Griglia – Grilled Cold Water Lobster Tail, Pumpkin Risotto, Brown Butter Lobster Sauce

Petto Di Pollo Ripieno – Stuffed Supreme of Chicken, Truffled Whipped Potatos, Oven Dried Tomatoes

Capesante Alla Griglia – Jumbo Sea Scallops Seasoned with Pepper and Galliano, Truffled Tomato

Gamberoni All’ Aglio – Sauteed Tiger Prawns over Creamed Polenta, Fried Cauliflower, Basil Oil

Lombata Di Vitello Arrosta – Carved Chop of Piemontese Veal, Mushroom Ragout, Barolo Glaze

Finally, help yourself to a dessert. Choose as many as you wish:

Crema Al Caffe – Espresso Crème Brulee, Star Anise Biscotti, Armagnac Foam

Torta Di Agrumi Con Frutti Di Bosco – Citrus Tart, Chocolate Ribbon, Orange and Balsamico Essence

Tiramisu – Tia Maria Soaked Lady Fingers Layered with Sweet Mascarpone Cream

Semi-Freddo Al Chocolato Bianco Soffice E Limoncello – White Chocolate Mousse, Limoncello Cream, Honey Tuile

Crostata Di Lamponi Con Menta E Frutti Di Bosco – Raspberry Frangipane, Macerated Wild Berries, Fresh Mint Coulis

Zabaglione – Whisked to the Music of Andrea Bocelli, Scented with Marzala

I did NOT make up that last one! Sam and I were so stuffed with the appetizers that we skipped soup and salad and went directly to the pasta course. By the time our main dishes arrived, I could only take two or three bites of my scallops, and Sam only had two bites of his lobster. Our waiter asked if he could deliver our desserts to our room and we gratefully accepted. So, MUCH LATER, we enjoyed the Espresso Crème Brulee and another dessert that I never really figured out. It looked like a piece of chess pie, but that was nowhere on the menu.

A visit to Sabatini Restaurant is a must-do. It is definitely worth the upcharge, but go easy on the bread and appetizers. You will want to eat the main course and the dessert!!!

May 26 - Jamaica

All the way up until 5 minutes prior to our departure, I was undecided about whether to go or not. Part of me wanted nothing more than to laze around in the Sanctuary again. And my sinuses were killing me. I had a little snot production factory going and no medication could shut it down. It was (and still is) disgusting. But finally, I decided that I had already paid for the excursion. And it would be fun going with Sam. We would have that memory forever. So I pushed myself and off we went.

We exited the ship directly onto the pier and walked up a little hill to where all of the tour buses were. We found our guide who pointed us to the correct bus. On the same bus were two friends that Sam had been hanging out with. (I think they are actually a good bit older than Sam, but they refused to say their age when he asked.) One of the two girls is, I think, quite enamored with Sam. He is clearly not interested in her and is lukewarm towards her. But Sam’s lukewarm is still warm and many girls have been fooled into thinking he was really into them. I always want to warn them, but I keep my mouth shut. His love life is his business and his business alone. His heart is back home, I believe.

Our bus set off and headed towards some caves that we were scheduled to explore. The caves were not nearly as cave-ish as we expected. In fact, at one point they were privately owned and the front portion of the cave was used as a disco club. At one point, we walked down 65 steps to look at an underground lake. I almost died coming back up those 65 steps. I had to stop at the top, heaving for oxygen. I was so hot that I had to take my shirt off. (I had my bathing suit on underneath.) Yikes! I am really out of shape. We had to crawl on our hands and knees to get out of the cave. Had I known that, I would never have gone in! But crawl, I did!!!

Our next stop was the famous Dunn’s River Falls. This spectacular waterfall drops down at multiple angles until it meets the ocean. Several years ago, I visited Dunn’s River Falls with my Mother. But we traveled over by catamaran and it deposited us on the beach where the climb begins. This time, our van driver actually deposited us at the top of the falls at the park entrance. Sam had always planned to climb the Falls, but I was undecided. But that 65 stair climb had convinced me that I had better skip the climb up the Falls. Luckily, there is a path that goes up the hill just beside the Falls. So I got to watch Sam and his group climb the Falls. Unfortunately for me, it began to rain during the climb and I got SOAKED from head to toe. I was really hating that and was complaining bitterly. But then a moment happened. I was leaning against a fence and the rain was falling on me and I leaned my head back and just existed – in that moment. I smiled so big. I am in Jamaica, in my bathing suit, with a warm rain falling on me. This was one of those “far-away-from-home” moments. So beautiful. It only lasted for a moment and although I tried, I couldn’t get it back.

After we returned to the ship, Sam took off again to find a place where he could have a Red Stripe beer and some jerk chicken. I went to take a nap. I was so tuckered out from the outing that I stayed in the bed until the next morning.

May 25 - at sea day

Even though Sam was out late, he woke up before I did. He took off to work out at the gym. I put my bathing suit on and headed up to the Sanctuary where I alternately read my Kindle and dozed. At around lunch time, Sam came and joined me and we had hot dogs and hamburgers together.

At 1 p.m., we attended a Cruise Critic meet & greet, where everyone brought bottles of wine from their home states. (I was unable to find a drinkable wine from Memphis, Tennessee.) That was an enjoyable gathering of people. We met a few new people who had not attended the first CC meeting.

At 3:30 p.m., we attended the Maitre’ D’s wine tasting. On each table were several plates with assorted hors d’oeuvres to pair with each wine. The wines included:

1. Veuve Clicquot, Brut. “A full-bodied robust sparkler.”
2. Pouilly-Fuisse’, “Medium-bodied, dry with fruity flavor.”
3. Chardonnay, Cuvaison, Carneros. “Aromatic with aroma of white peach, spice and apple with complex tropical notes.”
4. Murrieta’s Well Meritage. “With aromatic flavors of plums, black cherries and hints of herbs. This Meritage is subtle and sophisticated. It’s a medium to full bodied wine consisting of 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Pinot Verdot, 7% Cabernet Franc and 5% Merlot.”
5. Silverado Cabernet Sauvignon. “Aromas of berry, vanilla, spice and dried herbs. A medium to full bodied wine that has juicy mouth filling flavors of sweet fruit and oak on a long, lingering finish.”
6. Opus 1, Mondavi-Rothschild. “A much sought-after California wine, Opus One is made in the best of French traditions through a joint venture started between Robert Mondavi and Baron Phillipe de Rothschild – and its fame speaks for itself.”

The two that I loved were the Pouilly-Fuisse’ and the Opus One. The Opus One was smoooooooooth. We were joined at the table by two couples, one Sam’s age and one my age. There was also a guy there by himself, but I don’t think he spoke English because he never said a word. At one point the conversation turned to the show from the previous night. The young guy said, “Was anyone else as offended by that as I was?” I replied, “Thank you!!!” I felt so much better knowing that I wasn’t the only one.

That evening, Sam and I had a reservation at the Crown Grill. It was formal night, so we dressed up a bit. Sam wore his nice shirt and jacket with his jeans. He looked nice. I wore a black dress with a feather-light jacket patterned with beautiful abstract designs in red, orange and black. We had a wonderful dinner. We had tiger prawns for an appetizer. Then Sam had a salad and I had the Black & Blue Onion Soup, which is a French onion soup made with blue cheese. Why did I think I would like that? I don’t like blue cheese. For the main dish, I ordered the Maine lobster. Sam ordered the Brazilian lobster AND a porterhouse steak. Our side dishes were asparagus and a wonderfully tasty au gratin potato dish. For desert, Sam chose a S’More themed dessert and I asked for the sampler, which was a tiny portion of every dessert on the menu. Yummy!

After we left the restaurant, we happened to pass by a photographer, so we paused to have some spontaneous photos taken. We still haven’t gone to see them!

Sam went out with his friends again, although I noticed he did not stay out as late as he had the previous night. He told me the next morning that the club was dead. It was just as well since the next day was our stop in Jamaica!!!

Monday, May 24, 2010

private island

Now, where was I? When last we met, it was just after sail-away and I was happily at sea. I had a late afternoon nap. Then Sam came to wake me up to get ready for dinner. We had Anytime dining, so we went to the Da Vinci dining room and took the first available table. I had a British couple to my right. Then, to their right were two men together, from Phoenix. Sam had a couple from the USA on his left. The British couple and the two men barely said a word. I kept trying to pull them into the conversation, but they would answer whatever question I asked, then they would clam up again. The couple to Sam’s left was very talkative, however, so the meal was not a complete bust. The food was mediocre again. I think that Princess has really dropped the ball when it comes to food preparation in the main dining rooms.

After dinner, I went on back to the room and settled in for the night. My sinus infection is really kicking my butt and I wanted to take some medicine that I knew would knock me out. Sam went out with his friends and was out until the wee hours of the morning. I am so glad that he is having a good time!

Day One of our cruise took us to Princess Cay, the cruise line’s private island. It is a beautiful little island, which I saw only from the ship because after I got a pedicure, I gratefully claimed my padded lounger up in the Sanctuary and settled in to read and snooze. I mostly snoozed all day. At lunch, I ordered a hot dog and French fries, which was just what I wanted. It was delicious. I read most of one book on my Kindle. The Sanctuary is so quiet. My lounge chair is very close to the massage cabana, so I enjoyed the soothing music that was being played for the massage client. Sam went ashore and hung out with the friends he met at the Cruise Critic meeting.

That young man is a marvel. He makes friends so easily. He finds something in common with every person he meets. This morning at breakfast, we joined a Hispanic man at his table. Soon, we were joined by his friends, an African-American couple who are newlyweds. The husband is in his 60’s and the wife is in her 50’s. They told us about their courtship and how they fell in love. She has two older children and she has an 11 year-old daughter, who was with them. We had wonderful conversation with them. The wife, Gloria, said that she hoped we would meet again. I told them that the odd thing about being on cruise ships is that once you have a conversation with someone, you then see them over and over and over again and each time feels like you are greeting dear friends from years gone by. True to form, we have seen them several times since and have even exchanged Facebook information so we could become FB friends.

That evening, we went to dinner with Sam's friends, a young couple from Ohio. We were seated with two other couples. A Russian couple who emigrated to the United States about twenty years ago sat to my right. To Sam's left was a young couple from Colorado who were celebrating their 5th wedding anniversary. The Russian couple live in Phoenix. Since Sam and I lived in Phoenix for a few years, there was much to discuss. And since my mother and sister live in Colorado, we had quite a lot to discuss with the younger couple too. It was a fun dinner.

After dinner, we attended a stage production featuring Motown music. It was positively frightful. The entire cast was Caucasian. At one point, one cast member came very close to being in blackface. I was horrified. I kept looking around to see if anyone else was offended. I wondered how any African-American people in the audience might be reacting. At the very least, I am quite sure they were all in agreement that White people should not put on a show featuring Motown music. Those poor kids just had no soul! And quite a bit of the music was in a key too low for the main singers to hit the lower notes. The band was great, however!!!

After the show, I went to bed because it was past my bedtime.  Sam went out with his friends again. He was out pretty late and told me later that he had an absolute blast.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


The sail-away party is behind us and we are happily at sea.

Yesterday was travel day. I got up at about 7:30 a.m. because I wanted to go ahead and take Scamp to the Pet Hotel and I knew I would need to fill out some paperwork when I got there. But first – breakfast! Scamp happily accompanied me on a McDonald’s run, then scampered around the back yard while I ate my breakfast and drank coffee out on the patio. I was looking forward to a relaxing day because my flight wasn’t scheduled to depart Memphis until 3:30 p.m.

After breakfast, I started getting dressed for the day. I stopped suddenly because an inner voice said, “go ahead and check in for your flight on line”. I’ve learned to listen to that voice! When I pulled up my itinerary on Delta’s website, I found that my Memphis to Atlanta flight had been canceled. IEEEEE! The next 90 minutes consisted of me frantically rearranging travel plans for me and for Sam.

My new flight was scheduled to leave 90 minutes EARLIER than my original flight, because I now had THREE flights instead of two. I hadn’t even packed yet! I rushed Scamp over to the Pet Hotel. There was no time for a pedicure. I would just have to get one on the ship. I threw everything into the suitcases, hoping that my rush would not cause me to forget anything. Then it was time to go to the airport. When I arrived at the airport, I looked down and noticed that my gas light had come on. (That should make for an exciting journey home.)

On my flight to Nashville, I sat next to a Baptist preacher’s wife. She and her husband were relocating to Louisiana from Nashville. She lamented that one daughter did not attend church. I lamented that my son’s life had gotten derailed by an accident. We both agreed to pray for each other’s children. Her daughter’s name is Amy. But I am not praying for Amy to go to church. I am praying for Amy to find God, in whatever way she needs to do so.

Sitting in Nashville, I watched CNN. Part of the headline news was that the U.S. State Department had issued an advisory for Jamaica. I wonder if this will affect our itinerary. I suspect that it will not. I was a little hungry and spotted a Neely’s, which is a little restaurant. I love the Neely’s in Memphis. You may know the Food Network show based on their cooking. (Is it “Down Home with the Neelys”?) Anyway, I ordered a pulled pork sandwich that was HORRIBLE. It was about 80% fat and gristle. The meat that was there was overcooked and the BBQ sauce was just bad. I threw it away after about 2 bites.

Before I knew it, it was time to fly to Atlanta. I had an empty seat beside me. I arrived in Atlanta and headed to my new gate. I found Sam sitting in a bar next to our departure gate. We sat at the bar, drinking beer (Sam) and wine (me). Then we ate some chicken fingers. Yummy!

On our flight to Ft. Lauderdale I sat with a young couple who were FUNNY. They had a very animated conversation about a Redbook magazine that she had brought. He was hysterically funny, reading aloud from some of the articles, which he found absolutely silly, which of course they were. He kept asking, “Is this for real?” They were a very cute couple.

We claimed our bags, with me expressing absolute delight that mine made it through two plane changes. We headed out to the curb and found the Comfort Inn Airport/Cruise South van and off we went to the hotel. We arrived at our destination almost immediately and I knew that this was not the same place that I had stayed last time. Clearly I had made a mistake when I made the reservation. You can take your pick of any of the following descriptions for this place: 1. DUMP!!! 2. Dilapidated. 3. Disaster! It was really the pits. Sam kept telling me that it was perfectly fine for one night, but I thought it was just awful. The room was not in good shape. The “continental” breakfast was barely serviceable. I was very glad to get out of there!

We took a taxi to the terminal the next morning. Our driver was from Brooklyn and talked non-stop from the time that he picked us up until the minute he dropped us off. He was very entertaining. Once we arrived at the terminal, we found the Platinum embarkation lounge and waited our turn to board. It wasn’t long before they called us and then we were on the ship. I made a bee line for the Sanctuary. This is a section of the ship where you can reserve a plush lounge chair for the whole cruise. I think I was the first person there and I grabbed the two loungers that I wanted.

Then we went over to the buffet and had mediocre food for our lunch. Sigh. I’m on vacation and so far the best meal I’ve had was the chicken fingers at the bar in the Atlanta airport!!! Oh well. Next we walked to make reservations at the Crown Grill for Tuesday night and Sabatini’s for Thursday night. Those will be excellent meals!!!

After the muster drill, Sam and I grabbed a frosty beverage and enjoyed a bit of the sail-away party. Then we ran off to meet the folks that we had gotten to know on As I write this, Sam has gone off to the bar with some of the folks his age and I am relaxing before dinner. The movement of the ship is so soothing. I think I might hear a nap calling me!

Friday, May 21, 2010

packing day

To be precise, it is laundry, last-minute shopping, packing, pedicure and give instructions to the house/dog-sitter day. Naturally I am procrastinating about all of the tasks I still need to do. I do have that first load of laundry in. But I still need to get myself out the door. I am really very talented at doing nothing, if the opportunity to do nothing presents itself.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Moving to Memphis has meant getting used to living with tornado watches and warnings. This really didn't mean much to me until I lived through a few situations. I have made one very important observation. Every other type of severe weather is something you gradually become conditioned to. Your first exposure to a lot of snow is frightening, but you are better prepared for the next time. Your first hurricane warning is terrifying, but you learn to create a kit of materials and how and when to evacuate. Tornado activity is different. There is really nothing you can do to prepare, very little warning and survival seems very random. As a result, anxiety levels INCREASE with each exposure.

Looking at this graphic from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, you can see that Memphis is smack in the middle of recorded tornado activity. Ya'll, it is SCARY here during tornado season! I have a weather radio at my college campus that was provided to us by the state of Tennessee. It beeps loudly whenever a weather warning is about to be announced. When that loud beep sounds, everyone stops what they are doing to come over and listen. Last year, a tornado took out the side of a local department store that is halfway between my college campus and my home.

I spent part of a recent Saturday hunkered down in a closet with a cat and a dog. All kinds of thoughts went through my head while I sat in that closet. I thought about the fact that I had no water in there. If we did get hit by a tornado and we managed to survive, but were trapped, we would be in bad shape. After the warning was lifted, I put some water in that closet. I look at it every time I go in there to select my clothes for the day. The more time that passes, the sillier I feel when I look at that water. But I haven't moved it yet!

Each place I have lived has required mental adjustments. I will never forget watching a dust devil, like a mini-tornado, cross the road in front of my car in Phoenix. My mouth hung open as I watched it travel. It was small, so I wasn't scared. Shortly after that, a dust cloud moved across the valley. By then I was safely home. I looked out the window during the worst part and I could not see the building that was just a few hundred feet away. There was a street light next to my building and it looked like rain was blowing in front of that light, but it was just dust.

Yesterday, a terrible storm descended while I was driving home from Nashville. I was about 45 minutes from my exit when the severe thunderstorm warnings began to play on the radio. I watched the sky get darker and darker. Then the rain just dropped out of the sky like a ton of bricks. Traffic on the interstate slowed to about 20 mph. Every car had its blinkers on. It was terrible. When I felt my steering wheel pull to the right, I knew I was getting a flat tire and I thought to myself, "Really? In the middle of this horrible storm, I'm getting a flat tire???" But I suppose I might have been lucky that it happened while we were driving so slowly. It could have happened while I was driving 70+ mph.

So, I limped off at the next exit and found a little Mom & Pop store. I had to spend the night at a creepy motel because the tire place wasn't open until the morning. And I am safely home now. But the anxiety of the whole situation was exhausting! I must tell you that everyone I met along the way was very nice! I kept thinking I was in a horror movie. My imagination is so vivid, that each person I met was a potential axe murderer. I think I was the only guest at the motel. I was too worried about serial killers to think about bedbugs, although I believe the latter was the greater danger. When the wind picked up later in the evening, I did have a moment to think that it would really be sad if a tornado dropped onto the motel while I happened to be there. Just for kicks and giggles, my cell phone was dead. Isn't that just a recipe for a classic horror movie???

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

oh, arizona

In September 2002, I moved to Arizona to begin working for the same company for which I work today. (Obviously, I am happy with the decision I made!) Having spent many years in the South, I was very accustomed to the constant presence of racism and hatred. In Georgia, this typically would come in the form of outrageous statements made by Caucasian people while in my presence. They assumed that I would agree with whatever was being said, until I made sure that they knew otherwise.

What interested me about Arizona, however, was that the racism was not aimed towards the few African-American people who lived in the Valley of the Sun. Instead, the outrageous statements made by Caucasian people were aimed towards Mexican-Americans and/or Mexicans. Again, I think people thought I would agree, until I made sure that they knew otherwise.

Let me be clear. I'm certainly not suggesting that ALL Caucasian people made outrageous statements to me. In fact, very few did - in Georgia or in Arizona. And I will freely admit that I heard African-American people say things that were openly hostile towards Caucasian people. But I also witnessed many events over the years, that opened my eyes quite a bit. Posted here are just a few. There were many, many more.

Let's go back to 1975. Friday night, riding around in a car with four friends. Two of us are Caucasian and three of us are African-American. We stop to put air in a tire. This is rural North Carolina and the store we stop at is closed. The next thing we know, two cop cars pull up with blue lights flashing and the three African-Americans are thrown to the ground. I and the other Caucasian person are asked if we are okay. Because I am only 16, I don't have any sense and I begin yelling at the cops that they are idiots. Obviously, this does not go over well. Once they figure out that we are not kidnap victims and that we are not attempting to break into the store where we had stopped for air, they let us go. I am furious. My African-American friends, having survived similar situations on multiple occasions, are amused at my reaction.

Fast forward to 1988. A wealthy friend of mine, an African-American, is walking in the Buckhead neighborhood of the city of Atlanta, from point A to point B. Although he is wearing an expensive hand-tailored suit, expensive shoes and is quite well-groomed, he can hear drivers locking their car doors as he passes by. He describes this to me shortly after arriving at his destination. I express indignation. He shrugs his shoulders. He is insulted by the sound of the car locks, but for him it is par for the course.

Fast forward to 1989. I am attending a conference in Jackson, Mississippi. I am one of a handful of Caucasian people from Georgia attending this conference, along with quite a few African-American colleagues. Quite a few states are represented at this meeting and each state has its own hospitality suite. Our suite is the dance floor. We are having a wonderful time, enjoying each other's company, laughing, talking, dancing and playing cards. Suddenly there is a commotion at the door. We all look over and a deputy sheriff is standing at the door to our suite. He is gesturing wildly and yelling at a member of our group. I get up and walk over to see what the problem is. The deputy sheriff is yelling that "you people might get away with this loud partying on your side of the tracks, but you're not going to come over here and be all loud and out of control". Our combined group is spending more money in that hotel than that deputy sheriff will probably earn in his lifetime. He is spitting as he yells. Up close, he is an ugly man, inside and out. One phone call to management removes his ugly butt from our presence, but he has dampened our spirits. It is a reminder that racism can never be behind us.

Fast forward to 1991. I am traveling in a car with my boss, on our way back from a business meeting. It is dusk. Suddenly, the blue lights are flashing behind us. We pull to the side of the road. The police officer signals my boss, an African-American man, to exit the car and walk to the front of the vehicle. My boss complies. I now have a birds-eye view of the cop, who is a Caucasian, screaming at my boss and shaking his finger in his face. This goes on for quite some time. My boss is a brilliant, well-educated man. He stands mutely as the cop screams at him. Finally, he is allowed to return to the car. He gets in and stares straight ahead, breathing slowly. I ask, "What the hell was that about???" My boss shakes his head, turns to me and explains that the cop was upset because one of our headlights is set at an angle that makes it appear to be on bright. He claimed that he spotted it while he was traveling in the opposite direction and turned around to chase us and stop us. This is an obvious lie. We are on a major interstate highway in downtown Atlanta. Even if he did spot a car with a headlight as he described, by the time he turned around at the next exit, we would have been much farther down the road. My boss has been pulled over for DWB - driving while Black.

(Don't jump to the incorrect assumption that I think law enforcement is the problem here. Over the years, beginning in college, I have known and loved many, many law enforcement officers. Just like any profession, there are mostly good people and a few bad apples. Power in the hands of the few bad apples is what causes the problems.)

Fast forward to 2010. Arizona has passed a law that requires people to carry their citizenship paperwork with them. The law also requires police officers to ask for the citizenship paperwork in certain situations and take action if the person asked is unable to produce the paperwork. As I learn about this new law, I am not thinking about abstract concepts such as illegal aliens or political division or even racisim. I am thinking about people in Arizona that I dearly care for - real people - Nadia, Joe, Juana, Anna, Elizabeth. I know what is in store for them. I've lived in Arizona.

What is surprising to me is that intelligent Caucasian people don't seem to get it. They think the Arizona law is about illegal immigration. It's not. It's about car doors being locked when a Black (or Brown) person is coming. It's about being pulled over for DWB. It's about being too loud on this side of the tracks. It gives an excuse for abuse. And anyone who doesn't realize that has never experienced institutionalized racism - or has forgotten, maybe because remembering is too painful. So when I see dear friends joining Facebook groups like "I support the Arizona legislators", I cringe, just like I did in those situations above. White People Behaving Badly - WPBB - is just something I can never get used to.

Monday, May 3, 2010

may day

My Mother (Jean Jones) was the Associate Dean of Students at Brenau College (now Brenau University) in Gainesville, Georgia from 1968 to 1973. Each year, the students celebrated May Day, including a May Pole which they danced around, weaving long ribbons about the pole. A May Queen was crowned. I wonder if they still do this today. I used to have a bunch of photos of one of those celebrations, but I have no idea where they are now!

It does seem that 2010 is moving at the speed of a bullet train! That is good news when looking ahead to a vacation that begins on May 21st. Yay! It is NOT good news when trying to reach certain benchmarks at my college. I am now DREAMING about these benchmarks at night. If that doesn't show my dedication to the job, I don't know what would!

There was a terrific storm this weekend. I spent part of the weekend hunkered down in a closet with my cat and dog. That was not fun since they are not friends. The dog wants to PLAY. The cat wants nothing to do with the dog. So it was a constant, "Scamp, NO. Scamp, SIT. Scamp, LEAVE JOE ALONE." But each time the weather folks said "take shelter NOW", I obeyed. In the end, we had some pretty heavy storming and a lot of water, but not much tornado damage in Memphis. Outside of Memphis, several people were killed. Nashville had record-breaking rain and massive flooding. Public schools are closed today in Nashville.

The BP oil slick has now reached the barrier islands off the Louisiana and Mississippi coastlines. This is just plain ugly. And it is going to get worse before it gets better. The people in that area are just barely emerging from post-Katrina recovery. They did not need this!!!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

imagine if the tea party was black - tim wise

I've never re-posted an entire post from someone else. But I could not ignore this. It is an eye-opener!!!

"Imagine if the Tea Party Was Black" - Tim Wise

Let’s play a game, shall we? The name of the game is called “Imagine.” The way it’s played is simple: we’ll envision recent happenings in the news, but then change them up a bit. Instead of envisioning white people as the main actors in the scenes we’ll conjure - the ones who are driving the action - we’ll envision black folks or other people of color instead. The object of the game is to imagine the public reaction to the events or incidents, if the main actors were of color, rather than white. Whoever gains the most insight into the workings of race in America, at the end of the game, wins.

So let’s begin.

Imagine that hundreds of black protesters were to descend upon Washington DC and Northern Virginia, just a few miles from the Capitol and White House, armed with AK-47s, assorted handguns, and ammunition. And imagine that some of these protesters —the black protesters — spoke of the need for political revolution, and possibly even armed conflict in the event that laws they didn’t like were enforced by the government? Would these protester — these black protesters with guns — be seen as brave defenders of the Second Amendment, or would they be viewed by most whites as a danger to the republic? What if they were Arab-Americans? Because, after all, that’s what happened recently when white gun enthusiasts descended upon the nation’s capital, arms in hand, and verbally announced their readiness to make war on the country’s political leaders if the need arose.

Imagine that white members of Congress, while walking to work, were surrounded by thousands of angry black people, one of whom proceeded to spit on one of those congressmen for not voting the way the black demonstrators desired. Would the protesters be seen as merely patriotic Americans voicing their opinions, or as an angry, potentially violent, and even insurrectionary mob? After all, this is what white Tea Party protesters did recently in Washington.

Imagine that a rap artist were to say, in reference to a white president: “He’s a piece of shit and I told him to suck on my machine gun.” Because that’s what rocker Ted Nugent said recently about President Obama.

Imagine that a prominent mainstream black political commentator had long employed an overt bigot as Executive Director of his organization, and that this bigot regularly participated in black separatist conferences, and once assaulted a white person while calling them by a racial slur. When that prominent black commentator and his sister — who also works for the organization — defended the bigot as a good guy who was misunderstood and “going through a tough time in his life” would anyone accept their excuse-making? Would that commentator still have a place on a mainstream network? Because that’s what happened in the real world, when Pat Buchanan employed as Executive Director of his group, America’s Cause, a blatant racist who did all these things, or at least their white equivalents: attending white separatist conferences and attacking a black woman while calling her the n-word.

Imagine that a black radio host were to suggest that the only way to get promoted in the administration of a white president is by “hating black people,” or that a prominent white person had only endorsed a white presidential candidate as an act of racial bonding, or blamed a white president for a fight on a school bus in which a black kid was jumped by two white kids, or said that he wouldn’t want to kill all conservatives, but rather, would like to leave just enough—“living fossils” as he called them—“so we will never forget what these people stood for.” After all, these are things that Rush Limbaugh has said, about Barack Obama’s administration, Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama, a fight on a school bus in Belleville, Illinois in which two black kids beat up a white kid, and about liberals, generally.

Imagine that a black pastor, formerly a member of the U.S. military, were to declare, as part of his opposition to a white president’s policies, that he was ready to “suit up, get my gun, go to Washington, and do what they trained me to do.” This is, after all, what Pastor Stan Craig said recently at a Tea Party rally in Greenville, South Carolina.

Imagine a black radio talk show host gleefully predicting a revolution by people of color if the government continues to be dominated by the rich white men who have been “destroying” the country, or if said radio personality were to call Christians or Jews non-humans, or say that when it came to conservatives, the best solution would be to “hang ‘em high.” And what would happen to any congressional representative who praised that commentator for “speaking common sense” and likened his hate talk to “American values?” After all, those are among the things said by radio host and best-selling author Michael Savage, predicting white revolution in the face of multiculturalism, or said by Savage about Muslims and liberals, respectively. And it was Congressman Culbertson, from Texas, who praised Savage in that way, despite his hateful rhetoric.

Imagine a black political commentator suggesting that the only thing the guy who flew his plane into the Austin, Texas IRS building did wrong was not blowing up Fox News instead. This is, after all, what Anne Coulter said about Tim McVeigh, when she noted that his only mistake was not blowing up the New York Times.

Imagine that a popular black liberal website posted comments about the daughter of a white president, calling her “typical redneck trash,” or a “whore” whose mother entertains her by “making monkey sounds.” After all that’s comparable to what conservatives posted about Malia Obama on last year, when they referred to her as “ghetto trash.”

Imagine that black protesters at a large political rally were walking around with signs calling for the lynching of their congressional enemies. Because that’s what white conservatives did last year, in reference to Democratic party leaders in Congress.

In other words, imagine that even one-third of the anger and vitriol currently being hurled at President Obama, by folks who are almost exclusively white, were being aimed, instead, at a white president, by people of color. How many whites viewing the anger, the hatred, the contempt for that white president would then wax eloquent about free speech, and the glories of democracy? And how many would be calling for further crackdowns on thuggish behavior, and investigations into the radical agendas of those same people of color?

To ask any of these questions is to answer them. Protest is only seen as fundamentally American when those who have long had the luxury of seeing themselves as prototypically American engage in it. When the dangerous and dark “other” does so, however, it isn’t viewed as normal or natural, let alone patriotic. Which is why Rush Limbaugh could say, this past week, that the Tea Parties are the first time since the Civil War that ordinary, common Americans stood up for their rights: a statement that erases the normalcy and “American-ness” of blacks in the civil rights struggle, not to mention women in the fight for suffrage and equality, working people in the fight for better working conditions, and LGBT folks as they struggle to be treated as full and equal human beings.

And this, my friends, is what white privilege is all about. The ability to threaten others, to engage in violent and incendiary rhetoric without consequence, to be viewed as patriotic and normal no matter what you do, and never to be feared and despised as people of color would be, if they tried to get away with half the shit we do, on a daily basis.

Game Over.

Tim Wise is among the most prominent anti-racist writers and activists in the U.S. Wise has spoken in 48 states, on over 400 college campuses, and to community groups around the nation. Wise has provided anti-racism training to teachers nationwide, and has trained physicians and medical industry professionals on how to combat racial inequities in health care. His latest book is called Between Barack and a Hard Place.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Scamp snoozes beside me on the sofa, twitching and running in his sleep, little "mphs" escaping from the side of his mouth as he runs after - or runs from - whatever he is dreaming about. Should I shake him and wake him up? Is it a nightmare? Or is he happily chasing his brothers and sisters, now gone from him forever? I should get him a companion. No! I can NOT have a dog! The only reason I have him is that he suddenly appeared in the neighborhood and I have not been able to locate his real owners.

Last night, I dreamed I was living in Atlanta in a small apartment that had a private garden behind it. (Is that even possible?) I was sitting in the garden on a lounge chair, talking with my friend Holly. My dreams always feature me, happy, somewhere other than here. It's probably just a reaction to the daily stress of my current job.

Lucid dreaming is when you are dreaming, but you are aware that you are dreaming. That hasn't happened to me in a long time. The last time was when I was living in Phoenix. It was extremely disturbing. I dreamed that I woke up and opened my eyes, but could not move. There was someone in the house with me. The person, a male, came into my room and I was terrified, but could not move or scream. This type of sleep paralysis is much-described and studied. There are lots of studies about it, but no definitive answers.

Have you ever had this experience? Were you frightened?

There are a lot of song lyrics about dreams and dreaming. Here is These Dreams, from Heart:

The sweetest song is silence that I've ever heard.
Funny how your feet in dreams never touch the Earth.
In a wood full of princes, freedom is a kiss.
But the Prince hides his face from dreams in the mist.

Here is I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables:

I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving
Then I was young and unafraid
And dreams were made and used and wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung, no wine untasted

Here is I Dream, I Dream, by Babyface:

I dream, I dream
I dream of you
All day long and all day thru
I dream, i dream oooh baby
I dream of you
All day long I dream of you

Here is Dream a Little Dream of Me, by Louis Armstrong:

Say nighty-night and kiss me
Just hold me tight and tell me you'll miss me
While I'm alone and blue as can be
Dream a little dream of me

What is your favorite song about dreaming? What did you dream about last night?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


(You have to say those words really fast and with a nice rhythm. It's kind of a song. It means, "There is no point in getting worried about it. Just let it go." It can also mean, "Whatever!")

She came home from work and was immediately hit in the nose with an odor that she could not identify. So she walked through the house sniffing, first in the laundry room (did she leave some damp clothes in the washer too long), then in the kitchen (was something left out on the counter), then in the bedroom (did the cat pee on the pile of dirty clothes) and finally in the bathroom (had the dirty towels in the hamper finally ripened to a funky smellfest). Nothing jumped out and identified itself.

She heard the faint sound of the Isley Brothers. She dug her cell phone out of her purse and flipped it open. Before she could give a greeting, her Mother started talking.

"Dear Girl, I have been trying so long to reach you, but you simply will not answer the phone! Your sister told me that you were having trouble at work and I told her that people never appreciate when they have someone who is committed and always attempts to go beyond the call of duty."

"Mom, I am not having trouble at work."

"Nonsense, your sister already told me. I am coming to take you to lunch tomorrow and you must tell me all about it."

"Mother, there are no problems at work right now, Everything is fine! But there is a problem here at home."


"Yes. There is a terrible smell in my apartment and I can not figure out where it's coming from."

"Choo-nally-picky-picky-simba-folly-bum, darling."

"That is easy for you to say, Mother. You aren't smelling it right now!"

Her Mother did not respond. "Hello?" There was nobody there. This could mean only one thing. She was on her way right now.


Why did she say anything? Now she would have to stand by while her mother searched the entire apartment to try to find the smell. And before she left, her mother would extract a promise from her to attend some event, the sole purpose of which would be to introduce her to an eligible doctor or lawyer or some other similarly "suitable" man, when in fact she would actually be more attracted to one of the waiters! Bother!!!