Thursday, May 19, 2011

fire train

Betty Ann

Fire train rumbles by, waking me up from a dream about a dog. That dog was crying cause he couldn't find his supper dish. He was rooting around the kitchen floor, sure he had it there a while ago, but now it was gone. His mournful little whine was the sound of my dream, slipping rapidly away as my eyes come open.

I don't have a dog.

My nightgown is sticking to me, like my hair to my forehead. A full moon lights up the bedroom and I see that Frank hasn't come back yet. I look at the wind-up clock sitting on the table. It's 12:11 a.m. Well, maybe he went to drink some beers with his buddies. That's alright.

The smell of something rotten drifts into my nose. I should have taken that garbage out back. I sit up, swing my legs over the side of the big brass bed and feel around the floor for my slippers. My right foot finds a slipper. Now where is - there. I stand up, feeling an ache in my lower back. I lay one hand against my lower back and dig in a bit with my fingers as I shuffle through to the kitchen.

Sure enough, that smell is last night's fish supper. The heat has gotten to it and it's smelling up the place. I draw the bag up out of the plastic trash can and pull the ties to close it up tight. I tie those in a knot and open the back door. Out on the porch, I listen as the last of the train clanks around the bend and fades away. The big outdoor trashcan is just a few steps away and I head that way with the bag. I'm setting the bag down in the can when I see him.

He's taken a folding lawn chair and carried it down to the side of the lake. I can't tell if he is sleeping or just sitting. I call out to him, quiet-like. "Frank?" He doesn't move. I take a few steps in his direction. I speak a little louder. "Frank?" He turns his head towards me. "Hey, Baby." He reaches out a hand to me, beckoning me to come closer. I walk towards him. When I get there, I take his hand and he squeezes, but he is staring out over the water. He's still dressed in the clothes he had on when he left the house a while ago.

"What are you doin out here, Frank?" I ask him, worried he's still angry about the words we exchanged at the supper table. It was a stupid fight and I'm sorry that I brought the subject up at all.

Out on the lake, a fish jumps up and splashes back into the water. Maybe the moon has fooled that fish into thinking it's daytime. Frank pulls me over until I'm standing in front of him. A welcome breeze blows lightly across our bodies. The night sounds are all around us. I hear a dog barking way away from us. Is that why I was dreaming about a dog? Frank looks at my face and smiles. "I love you.", he says, and I watch as one tear leaks out of the corner of his eye and slides down his face.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

wear pink!

There were over a thousand women in the room at the Atlantic City Conference Center. We came in every possible size, shape, age, stage of life, career, etc. We were all there to attend the 2011 New Jersey Governor's Conference for Women.

I ate my continental breakfast with two women I was meeting for the first time because I had not yet located the five work colleagues I was meeting up with at the conference. We shared information and chatted about what had brought each of us to this event. In a lull in the conversation, I marveled at the sound of all of those women's voices. It was such a beautiful sound to me. Women are so powerful and strong, I thought. I smiled.

Our speaker at the breakfast was Kim Guadagno, Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey. Her message for the day was "wear pink". I'm still not sure what she was getting at. She also told us to wear high heels. Apparently when she was a Sheriff, she was told that she really shouldn't wear pink or heels and it got on her nerves. Maybe she was trying to tell us to be true to ourselves and to be feminine, even if we were in traditionally male roles? Anyway, she was cheerful for an early morning speaker!

I found my colleagues and we spent a few minutes looking over the program, deciding who would go to what session and chatting about work. All five of these women are strong and caring people. We all have very different personalities. But we all care about our students and are very loyal to our company. It was a joy to spend even a little bit of time with them. I know that they would do anything for me and I would do the same for them! What a wonderful feeling!

My first session was entitled, "Release the Entrepreneur Within". There were three speakers and a moderator. The speaker who REALLY stood out was Barbara Smith O'Neal, Regional Director of the New Jersey City University Small Business Development Center. Barbara clearly knows what she is doing and did a marvelous job outlining some of the more important aspects of starting your own business. (Full disclosure: I really misunderstood the intent of the workshop, probably because I did not read the description! I was expecting a talk about keeping your entrepreneurial spirit alive despite the fact that you may be working for someone else. Clearly, I was mistaken! I have no desire to open my own business!!! That is hard!)

The best speaker of the day, at least for me, was Trisha Meili. She is the woman who came to be known as "The Central Park Jogger" in 1989 after she was brutally attacked while out for a run in Central Park. This session was entitled, "Resilience". Every chair in the room was filled and many people (including me) sat on the floor or stood along the walls. Trisha started us off with some breathing exercises, which was an interesting touch. (It made me want to investigate meditation.) After that, she simply told her story and the many blessings she had encountered along the road to recovery from her injuries, both physical and emotional. Hers is an incredibly inspiring story. She tells it in a soothing voice that is very easy to listen to.

Our luncheon speaker was the amazing Star Jones. I was prepared to dislike her based on how she has been presented on this season of The Apprentice. I should have known better than to trust any edited image on television. She was very humble, but she made it clear that she has high standards for herself and for others. Star spoke about reinventing yourself when the need arises to do so. She called it "Plan B". She spoke about women's remarkable ability to bounce back from adversity or disappointment. She used examples from her own life. I really appreciated her message. And yes, she alluded to the troubles she had with NeNe! It was pretty funny, actually.

My last session was "Retirement Can Work For You!". Again, I should have read the description. This session was about NOT retiring!!! People are living to be much older these days and often start whole new careers after they retire from the first one. I cannot imagine anything worse!!! I didn't stay the whole time.

All in all, it was a great experience! I hope to return next year.

There was one embarrassing moment. (How could I avoid it???) I caught the heel of my right shoe on the hemline of my left pants leg and fell on my butt in front of my colleagues! Leave it to me. They hoisted me to my feet and I shook it off. But hours later, I am really feeling where parts of my body made contact with the sidewalk. Ouch! I'm worried that I am going to be even more sore tomorrow. Time will tell!

Monday, May 2, 2011

osama bin laden is dead

From the comments section on a CNN report of Osama bin Laden's death: It wasn't him. We need to see a picture. Obama interrupted Celebrity Apprentice on purpose to make Trump mad. Obama is making the whole story up to try to get re-elected. Obama had nothing to do with this victory. It's suspicious that they 'buried' him so quickly. Obama is taking credit for what the military did. We want a DNA test result. Etc. Soon, Trump (or Palin or Bachman) will be suggesting a conspiracy theory - or simply an anti-Obama message - that will echo some or all of these ideas.

I never cease to be amazed at some people's need to demonize or minimize our sitting president. It seems that there is nothing he can do that is right. Often, these are the same people who suggested that criticism of Dubyah was 'unpatriotic' because we were at war and we should all support our president when we are at war. Right. Now, it's patriotic to disagree with the sitting president because we are in America, where we can freely disagree!!!

I'm glad that Osama bin Laden is dead and buried. I'm proud that President Obama gave the order to take him out. I'm proud of the Navy Seals who pulled off this mission, and the many service men and women who put their lives on the line every single day. I'm proud to be an American!!!