Monday, August 16, 2010

RE: (NPR) This I Believe, Love Oasis...

Love Oasis
Diane - Grass Valley, California
Entered on January 29, 2010

She looks at me shyly, from under her arm, making long swipes with the squeegee as she cleans the windshield. The middle-aged man wearing a white chef uniform is intent upon his mission of getting gas and so he doesn’t notice what she is doing. Sitting in the car, one gas pump behind them, I notice.

After a minute or two he seems to snap into the moment, taking in her and his surroundings simultaneously, registering a brief moment of surprise. As he goes in to pay she makes one last, clean swipe with a flourish and I spot the “76” station logo on her shirt, bringing to mind that welcoming, whirling orange ball in the sky, beckoning to travelers driving thirsty cars fueled by the American dream and an endless supply of fossil fuel.

Frequently traversing a variety-pack of states on summer vacations I viewed fueling stations as touchstones of humanity in isolated places. I’ve always been fond of that “76” logo, though my favorite, hands down, is still Mobil’s Pegasus, the winged horse. What’s not to love about a horse that can fly?

Me, who hasn’t been able to cry since my father died, this deed makes me cry. The simple gift of cleaning windshields, something everyone used to take for granted, represents an unparalleled rite of giving.

She makes her way over to our car and I’m grinning and crying at the same time, for all the world to see and, of course, she sees. I hear my husband’s melodic voice kiddingly say she can clean our window if she has nothing better to do. She laughs, coughs, and looks through the windshield at me. Now we are both at closer range. My tears pick up speed, coursing down my cheeks as the water does the same, running down the glass.

My husband gets in, turns to me and notices I’m crying, but he isn’t surprised. He says he thinks she wants money and I shake my head vehemently, no, pointing to her logoed shirt as an employee of the gas station.

As I watch her finish up our car ministrations I am suffused with feelings that I can’t quite fathom, but they run along the lines of humbling gratitude. I hop out of the car and we share a moment of silence before she wishes me a Happy New Year and says, “I think this is going to be a good year.”

“Me too,” I reply. Before I tell myself all the reasons why it’s foolish, I throw my arms around her, hugging her as though we’ll never see each other again and, of course, we won’t.

As we drive away, we leave her standing in the middle of the cement gas station island, waving at us as though we’ve just spent the holidays with her and I guess we have because it’s a New Year of hopeful promise. I believe in the power of these seemingly inconsequential encounters and their ability to connect us.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

RE: A Six-Word Memoir Celebrating Life...

August 12, 2010

I submitted a six-word memoir to the on-line version of Smith magazine and I highly recommend it! It's fun, immediate and affirming. Mine from today is:


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Strapped...Purse Comedy...


I’m a bit addicted to purses. Not to just any kind of purses, mind you. Showy and flashy ones. Plus, they have to be able to transport necessities and me to a happier place.

I especially love the purses with all of the scenes, cities and thematic extravaganzas on the front of them. I call these collectibles, “art on a strap,” perhaps coming soon to an art gallery near you.

I once overheard my eldest daughter telling her father, “It’s medicinal,” in response to his grousing query, “Why in the world did your mother buy a purse with a poodle on it?” I thought that was an apt and timely assessment of my purse attainment since I had just gotten done telling my husband to consider the purchase cheap therapy. Now we were on the same page, or is it purse? You get what I mean.

And my daughter’s right. I have only to gaze at one of my purses and I am no longer susceptible to any negativity. Even if I’m already in a positive frame of mind, then the concept works because each purse is an artistic extension and celebration of that “high on life,” thing. The only problem seems to be that my desire for these wondrous works of handbag ingeniousness is insatiable. Well, not the only problem.

On occasion, as I enter stores selling pocketbooks, I have had to hold my hands up as blinders in order to traverse the aisles upon aisles of exquisite specimens. Every so often, in a weak moment, I add to my collection.

One such acquisition being a 2004, auction-acquired, tan canvas number with cowgirls and horses all over it, festooned with tasteful sequins, beads and curlicued words that say, “Cowgirls have more fun.”

All right, actually, my mom bought this piece for me, so this didn’t represent a monetary challenge, but rather a social one. These purses get me into all kinds of trouble due to the conversational gambits that ensue.

I excitedly chose to drag this particular reticule with me to an awards ceremony during which time my daughter would be receiving an award.

I was at this event grappling with my high tech, nineteen-nineties, vintage video camera as I teetered on high heels and attempted to focus in on a child that at least had the same hair color as my daughter.

It was at this point that a gentleman near me decided to strike up a conversation. What he said was, “Are you a rider?” What I heard was, “Are you a writer?” To which I replied, “How did you know?” as though he was the “Amazing Kreskin,” so astounding was his ability to divine my career path.

As I took in his puzzled look, downward glance, and wife’s clasping of his arm to prevent him from speaking with me further, I figured out that he had been looking at my cowgirl clutch.
“Oh, rider,” I repeated, bobbing my head up and down in vigorous understanding. “As in riding horses,” I said, accentuating the alternate auditory meaning by pantomiming the riding of a horse. No mean feat with a video camera in one hand and a tissue in the other. He just nodded his head and succumbed to his wife’s grasping redirection.

Much more racy and less innocuous are the conversations that ensue when I carry my bag that features Las Vegas. We’ll go with a clean, though tired example of one of these interchanges which is usually delivered with a leer, “So what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, right? Am I right? Am I right? Anything that’s there?”

To which I respond, “Oh, yes, you are absolutely right. Are you planning on visiting Vegas in the very near future?
Link to THE UNION: