Friday, June 26, 2009

Before You Judge Me, Try Hard to Love Me

Those are lyrics from Childhood.

When I was a young girl, I was a figure skater. I was at the arena pretty much every day after school. I remember one day, a day like any other, one of my skating buddies asked me if I had the new Michael Jackson album. I said "Who's that?" She couldn't believe I hadn't heard of him. She told me how cool he was and my response was, "Is he white?"

I have always remembered that day and I will probably always remember yesterday. I was picking Freckles up from her last day of school and we were driving home. I turned on the radio and they were playing Thriller. I turned it up and we were all doing the car dance (the one where just your upper body moves because you are strapped in your seat). We were happy and smiling and then the announcer came on and said that he had died.

I was, like everyone else, in disbelief. I didn't know what to think. I was kind of sad but wasn't sure if that was overreacting. Over the last day and a half, I have heard so much of his music on the radio and have realized, no, I'm not overreacting. This is a big deal. He was an icon for my generation. His songs were anthems of my childhood. Thriller was the first cassette I bought with my allowance.

As I look at all the controversy that surrounded him in the latter part of his life, all I can think of is how we saw a man who really needed help but never got it. We don't know what was going on with him but we do know that he was thrust into the spotlight at a very early age and stayed there ever since.

So I am allowing myself to get misty-eyed and watch all the news and entertainment shows. I feel that a part of my childhood has passed into legend and I am sad. I choose to remember the Michael Jackson that rocked my teenage world.

This morning on the radio, one of the announcers paid tribute to him and I have to quote him because I think he really got it right. This is from C.R. Nichols from Joe FM:

"There is a sweet joy in his music that he never seemed to find in his life...You can never escape when the person chasing you is you...We remember what we want to remember and we so very much want to remember that magical man that set our hearts and our feet dancing decades ago when we were young."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

An Ode to My Dad

Once there sat a big brown chair. This chair was not filled with stuffing but with memories. It was filled with stories told every night while a little girl and her dad sat in the chair. It was filled with popcorn from movies watched together. It was filled with grape pop, which the little girl was careful not to backwash! It was filled with spaghetti and meatballs, which was the dad's specialty. It was filled with spruce tree needles from the many trips out into the forest to select the perfect Christmas tree.

As the little girl got bigger, she decided she didn't need the chair anymore. She grew up, moved away and started a family of her own. But there was always a longing to get back to the chair. Now, she has a little girl of her own who fits perfectly into the chair with her Pappa. It is a new chair, red not brown. But the stuffing in it is being replaced. It won't be long until it, too, is stuffed with memories.

The girl now smiles as she watches herself in her daughter, curled up with her Pappa for a bedtime story. She wants to say thanks to her dad, who has always loved her even when she didn't love herself. She wants to thank him for always making room in the chair for her, even when she was supposed to be in bed.

Thanks Dad. I love you.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tell Me How You Really Feel

The other day I had a strange encounter with a sales clerk. At the end of the sale, he said "Have a good day." Okay, nothing odd about that. I replied, "You too!" Again, normalcy prevails. And then he responded, "I'm trying," as he walked away with his head hanging down. I was a little taken back. What do I do? Do I just leave the store? Do I ask him if everything is alright?

The next day I was at the grocery store and the clerk asked me how I was to which I responded "Fine. How are you?" She then began to tell me her story in great detail. I found my inner dialogue telling me to back away slowly...

So why do we use phrases like "How are you?" and "Have a nice day"? Are they just greetings or are they something more? In my mind, whatever they were, they seem to be nothing more than a pleasantry. But what do we do when someone actually answers the question??

It caught me off guard and reminded me once again that there are a lot of lonely people out there. Maybe I should look at these instances as a chance to reach out. I didn't take the time to engage either of these people in conversation. Too absorbed in my own to-do list.

What are your thoughts? Should we just ask how people are doing as a greeting? What do you do when someone actually tells you?