Category Archives: coworker

Predicaments

Standard

I have thought for many days about what would I have done

differently in an early February conversation during a break

at work.  So many times during my life I have stood up for a

situation or cause, only to find out later this alienated me from

a friend.

 

I was so excited and passionate about seeing the movie, “Selma.”

I have been taught that by being silent one is quietly accepting

another’s words or choices. This is not a good position to be in

when making friends. I feel that if my friends don’t think along

similar lines, it is not a strong friendship but one of convenience.

Over the past six years, I have built a close-knit group of people

who get along together, joke and lighten each other’s days at work.

 

 

My fellow coworkers, Tammy, Melvin, Felda and Mary Jane are

part of this group. We have enjoyed sharing weekend experiences

and expanding our minds in lively conversations. There are many

fringe friends who join in and stop by our table. I enjoy meeting

such a wide variety of people at my warehouse job. This is one of

the best positive aspects of my work.

 

It is not generally a good idea or tactful while in a work place,

to express controversial opinions. Yet, my table mates and I

have seen eye to eye on the subject of acceptance. Some of us

even voted in elections the same way. We started watching

some of the same t.v. shows to be able to share about these.

 

 

Little did I expect, someone I cared about would be making a

rather outrageous statement in response to a movie review.

Here are some quotations to lend support to my response.

 

 

“If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”

~Eldridge Cleaver

 

A longer version, expanded from the above thought includes

the following words which are also true:

“. . . but the perpetual human predicament is that the answer

soon poses its own problems.”

~Sydney J. Harris

 

The old Latin rule of the law of acquiescence would apply here,

“Qui tacet consentire videtur” means one who is silent is seen

to have given consent. To acquiesce is to accept or to comply.

 

I was mentioning how many things about the Civil Rights period

despite being raised in a conscientious and active participant

family, I had missed. I was describing one of the early details of

a particularly disturbing scene where children in a church were

killed in a bombing in the film, “Selma.”

 

Out of nowhere, my ‘close’ friend,  Felda said,

 

 

“We, in our country, believe in love and cannot ever understand

people who are raised in a “culture of hate.”

 

I emphatically agreed with this, thinking she was talking about

bigoted people who are ‘taught’ to hate people from another

group from their own. In other words, I was thinking she

meant to be talking about ‘whites’ being part of the ‘haters’

specifically, in the Civil Rights movement.

 

As I nodded and said, “I agree,” I noticed a quiet pause in the

conversation. Tammy (Ohio country girl) and Melvin, (son of

immigrants from an island off of Portugal) did not join in.

 

Felda helped me to realize who she was talking about by adding,

in a most definite direction I would NEVER agree with,

 

“Why do blacks get taught to hate whites in America?  In the

Philippines, everyone loves others. We were ‘slaves’ in our own

history, but we ‘don’t hold it against you.'”

 

Okay, now I knew where silence would not be appropriate. I

had to dig myself out of a hole, so to speak. I said that she did

not understand the trials, tribulations and how people who were

slaves, or had slave ancestors, were affected by their treatment.

They may have possibly been taught to ‘mistrust’ white people.

 

Inside my head for a moment, I thought possibly only coming

here to live in the U.S. (and marrying Jason, an American) in

the 1990’s may have given Felda less understanding of the

long history, prevailing ways and practices which continue

going on from when the Civil War ended in the 1860’s, into

the present. The other two of  her friends have always been

less outspoken and didn’t try to contribute or interpret what

she meant by her hurtful words.

 

I added,  “This is not how this conversation was meant to go.”

 

I had hoped that by talking about “Selma,” to help everyone

at this table understand why fear and distrust could become

part of a familial pattern of handling people. The small town

in Mississippi had many people showing their prejudice against

the blacks. I had especially thought the Filipinos (what they

insist on being called at work) would have empathetic feelings

coming from their own personal experiences of prejudice.

 

I looked at Melvin, who is sophisticated and warm.  He had

served in the Army, traveled Europe and was raised in an open

minded, accepting and loving family. He would give the shirt off

his back and has often been found this brittle cold winter, under

the hood of a fellow employee’s car trying to fix or replace a part.

Actually, the speaker of this unfortunate point of view, had been

‘only charged for car parts’ when she had needed four brakes

replaced by Melvin and other repair assistance.

 

I wondered why Felda had said this about blacks, without any

clarification? Did she intend to hurt Melvin?

The rest of the people at the table were either Filipino or

white.

 

Melvin shrugged. He knew it was pointless to mention that

this person who arrived in America, married an American,

may not completely understand the racial issues, tensions

and dynamics here in the United States.

 

Melvin felt my eyes on him, urging him to ‘speak up.’ Finally,

he responded by saying,

“My people are not nor have ever been descendants of slaves,

but I feel a lot of sympathy for the blacks here. I get the same

kind of attitude from whites as they do, I get followed around

in jewelry stores, I have been shoved while at a peaceful protest

rally by a ‘white supremacist’ cop and have been taken aside to

be shouted at. I would ‘never measure up to the white people’

in my Army experiences. This came from more than one officer

in the Army.”

 

Melvin quietly expressed his thoughts on a tough issue,

“I will share this additional thought: black people raised in the

South are different from black people raised in the North. To

be honest, unfortunately their perspectives are not the same.”

 

I went on a limb and put my thoughts out there for friends

who had included me in christenings, birthday parties and

delicious meals at parties where we sang karaoke together,

 

“I need to study your islands’ history better of what you call

‘slavery.’ I am not sure that slavery there was the same as

slavery here. I have the misunderstanding that your culture

may have a history of servitude.  Sometimes smiling when you

were crying inside, but this is probably inaccurate. Meanwhile,

I would never agree with your statement about the black culture

being raised to hate whites.”

 

As far as research, there are considered to be 130,000 to as

many as 160,000 people in the Philippines who are part of

sex trafficking, indentured servitude and this is from an article

on October 9, 2013 from the newspaper called, “The Manila

Times.”

 

I wished to re-emphasize my opening remarks to them.  I didn’t

realize the total impact on everyday activities of black people from

those who felt ‘superior’ to an entire race until recently. I heard

‘snippets of history’ in school. Like not being allowed to ride in

the middle or front of a bus, Rosa Parks ‘took a stand’ for freedom.

I saw firsthand the water fountains, restaurants and other public

buildings in the 1960’s. They were labeled, “For Colored People.”

I knew this must have been hard or rough on anyone living in

their skin color. We read together my kids and I about the

Underground Railroad and Harriet Tubman.

 

I just finished a great book by Tara Conklin, considered historical

fiction called, “The House Girl.” It has the legal aspects of the

reparation act for families of slaves.  Every other chapter is about

a young woman called “Josephine” who worked in a slave owner’s

house. She learned how to paint from her ‘mistress.’ Later, the

‘house girl’s’ art work is given credit to her owner. Learning is

ongoing.

 

I was truly interested and asked,

“How long ago in Philippines’ history were there slaves?”

 

“Selma” brought back memories of partial lessons for me.

It depicted Ku Klux Klan members, cruelty and ‘hate crimes.’

Who could ever wish to bomb churches and not allow people

to gather in protest?

It is hard to imagine but not right to brush uncomfortable

subjects under the table. Seeing these violent acts on film,

brought back how recently this had happened. It made me

wish to promote this movie, as I did last year when I saw the

fine film, ’12 Years a Slave.’

 

Felda, Mary Jane and May have not looked me in the eyes

since this happened. I continue to say, “Good Morning” and

ask how their family members are, ask how their weekends

went, etc. They give me short answers and have been sitting

at their own table, talking in their own language. I don’t regret

my words, but was sincerely meaning to defend Melvin, along

with my own grandchild’s heritage.

 

My oldest daughter’s son, Micah is 1/4 black. His father’s Dad

plays an integral link to his life and comes to family gatherings.

 

Micah has overheard their complaints about prejudice. We

talk openly about how his own father has been pulled aside

roughly by teachers, coaches and strangers. When he shows

his ‘independence’ it is sometimes considered ‘an attitude.’

This happened with my coworker and friend, Cheryl (who

recently lost her grandson to illness). She has been told, she

says that she “has a chip on her shoulder.”

 

Micah was in preschool when a fellow  4 year old asked him,

“Is your Daddy a terrorist?”

 

This fills my eyes with tears, my heart with sadness and my

mind with fear for Micah, too. It is ‘still out there.’ Even in the

minds of immigrants who feel that black culture is ‘filled with

hatred.’

 

Here is an update on getting an ‘excuse’ written for my eyesight

and concerns for safety while driving heavy equipment. My phone

call with my ophthalmologist left me without anything promised

in writing and another appointment made in April.

 

I visited the optometrist who seemed more interested in helping

me. She wrote a well thought out letter, including the reasons I

would not be a safe candidate for ‘heavy bulk’ at the warehouse.

 

She wrote about my lack of depth perception, my monovision

while wearing a close distance contact to read fine print and a

far distant contact to see far away. She mentioned my not being

able to judge distances, especially in the narrow passages while

driving backwards with the double pallet riding equipment.

 

Her professionalism and need to be clear, may have included

details which won’t help my cause:

“Robin’s peripheral vision and depth perception would be

greatly improved by wearing single vision distance only

spectacles instead of contact lenses. Obviously, if the patient

is in a warehouse, she should be wearing safety spectacles.”

 

I have been wearing contact lenses throughout my six years

at Advance Auto Distribution Center. I am most confident

while reading the tiny UPC codes, picking the correct items

to place into bins, hampers or gaylords. (Containers which

are actually huge cardboard boxes for Open Stock and used

in heavy bulk on top of a wooden pallet and plastic pallet.)

 

I won’t change to regular glasses to carry out my job nor to

bifocals. I am not sure I would be as confident in performing

my job with single vision glasses. The reason I chose contacts

was because I used to have to take off my glasses to read the

fine print, use the RF’s (tablet computers) and now, new piece

of equipment,  a Bluetooth computer on my arm.

 

As my good friend, Jenny, honestly suggested work may try

to force me to use glasses and go to work in heavy bulk.

I am ‘screwed.’

 

My ophthalmologist who had told me he could not write a letter

until I came in for another appointment. I will hold out for Hope.

An April letter request will hopefully include all the parts that

Dr. Wagner wrote without the details suggesting I switch to

glasses or ‘safety spectacles.’

 

Thanks for your concern about my work situation with my

vision and cross training into heavy bulk work once again.

When I tried this for eight weeks of a summer, I managed

to run into metal racks, back into a pallet on the shipping

floor knocking the products over and wearing my nerves

into a frazzle.

 

I need to find a way out of this physically demanding area

without leaving my job. I have a much better salary than

other positions listed in the newspaper and have finally

earned three weeks’ vacation this year. If necessary, as many

have mentioned, my being fired for refusing to go to heavy

bulk may be my ‘release’ to a better solution. There were such

great and positive suggestions from all of you. Thank you.

 

 

If you have had a stressful or awkward situation at work

please feel free to comment and add to the conversation.

 

All in One Day: Thank God for Small Favors

Standard

From being called, “honey chile'” (which is a short cut for “honey

child,” with a Southern twist) to “m’am,” Wednesday was quite a

unique day. I expressed myself, much to the chagrin of my boss

and boss’ boss about work and it seemed like I might have to be

looking for another job.

 

It was “one of those days!”

 

The upswing were the nice labels given to me, they brightened

my mood and took me outside of my own discomfort and nervous

feelings, too. But. . . this didn’t happen to me, until the end of an

extra long day.

 

This would have been nice to have landed on February 2nd, where

the imaginary day would have played out like the actor, Bill Murray’s

day did in the movie, “Groundhog’s Day.” I would have loved to have

been in the young woman’s shoes in the fun and new Hallmark film

shown on television, “I Do, I Do, I Do.” The woman gets to have so

many ‘do-overs’ that she learns to dance, a foreign language and

manages to marry the ‘right’ man in the end.

 

No, my week started with us paper-picking, which is a tedious

process that you fill hampers with car products which normally

you get to see lights lit up which I smile and say, “Pick 1- A” and

then put one of the products under the light into the “A” tub.

 

The ‘system’ was down. It was a long day. As I was turning in my

indirect time sheet which is like a daily log of the up’s and down’s

of my workday, explaining ‘time gaps’ by saying I was ‘cleaning’

which may entail drying a stack of wet, snowy hampers before I

could use them or ‘research,’ which means checking if the stocker

put the right products into the correct slot.’ My most used one is

called, ‘warehouse,’ while I may have to open packaging of eight

scented air fresheners to place one in the bin, or may have to

count out sets of 24 that the stocker dumped out of the boxes,

which is a Royal Pain, when the stores are having rush orders of

asking for 72 or 96 in my six hampers I am pushing along, while

filling on a line.

 

Anyway, after handing in my answers to the ‘Essay Test,’ I was

told I was going to have to start using a wrist computer with a

Blue Tooth feature, which would tell me orders across a screen

and it weighs between 5 and 6 pounds. This may not be a big

deal with some of my younger and possibly bigger coworkers,

but it is strapped onto my left forearm and there is a gadget

which you attach to two of your fingers to scan with. This is used

in a work area that I often mention is not “Pick to Light” but it

involves pushing a cart where you place four hampers up and

down rows in a place called the “Mezzanine.” I have used in this

area for the past six years a Tablet with a scanner. I like this,

since I can play imaginary ‘store keeper,’ scanning products and

placing them into bins.

 

The Tablet, unlike the arm computer, is put on a rack attached

to the cart and has large writing,. You can see the next product’s

location, as you push the cart down the aisles. This is one of

the ‘fun’ places I finish many of my days in a few of the zones.

On our short Fridays, Melvin and I try to beat each other by

running around corners.

if you have ever read, (yes, Mike Lince has often said this is

like a Lucille Ball show, where the center character is me!)

 

I was upset, but managed to say, “Okay, if I must learn this

new tiny printed screen and heavy weighted thing placed upon

my arm, I will try my best.”

 

Two days later, since I did adapt emotionally well to the blue

tooth computer (not so well to the numbness of my thin arm and

wrist area) and was doing fine in what companies consider MOST

importantly: My performance rate was at a 95%.

 

The manager decided to burst my newly found ‘bubble’ and add

on Wednesday; a FEAR. Yes, folks, Robin is afraid to go back to

Heavy Bulk.

 

I am one of three people left in the Bins Order Filler position since

I arrived six years ago. When others have been used and abused by

being asked to daily “cross-over” and “help” heavy bulk, I had done

my eight weeks’ training, failed by running into racks and tipping

pallets of stock over by bumping them in the shipping lanes and had

to be written up with three warnings.

 

My old boss, Jake,  the one I have declared “my very best boss ever,”

(over any teachers, principals or superintendents) due to his ability

to stay calm and be such a patient leader to a variety of people.

He is gone, off to a better position, but he was there during that

disastrous summer fiasco!

 

Jake had finally written me up for the third time, taken a photograph

of the ‘ding’ in a metal rack left and let me stay permanently in the

area of Bins. Now, if you stayed with me through that Hemingway-

esque description and length of run-on sentence, I will tell you I said

to my current boss, and then my boss’ boss,

“I hate my job!”

 

As I dragged my feet down the long walk from Building One to

Building Three later in the day, my coworker, Nick, slowed down

on his center riding pallet rider, the very one I never hoped to

drive again to say,

“Hi Robin! What’s going on, I never see you looking at the floor

as you walk. “(I am not making this up, he is such an intuitive

and kind young man, I have really asked him more than once,

“Do you have a divorced father or widowed grandfather who

would like to casually date me?” He always smiles at this kind

of compliment to him, too.)

 

I rolled my eyes and told him,

“They are really pushing me to cross-train or retrain again and

thinking about placing me in Heavy Bulk with the likes of you!”

 

As I talked to him briefly, I went into my plastic Zip Lock bag

and found the new Juicy Fruit Starburst Gum with tangy cherry

flavor to hand him three pieces. This is an ongoing ‘help keep

the young people around,’ ploy and he gave me a broad smile

in return,

“Thank you so much, Robin!”

 

When I mentioned my appalling and inappropriate employee

behavior to my best friend, Jenny, after work on my cell phone,

she said,

“Oh no! Robin you cannot talk to your bosses like that!

You will get fired!”

 

I answered her, my best friend and retired teacher I dearly love,

“Jenny, you would not last a day in this job. I have adapted, I have

stuck with each request for six long years and I am going to try to get

a better work excuse out of Heavy Bulk from my ophthalmologist.”

 

She replied, “This will just get them to start writing you up over

and over again, until you have enough ‘Points’ (you can get up

to 10 before being fired) to get legitimately fired. Your talking

in such a disrespectful way will get you terminated.”

 

My attitude to the whole thing was to say in response to my

long-time friend of over 20 years, approaching 25 was to say,

“I don’t care anymore.”

 

So, I went above my boss’ boss to the newly positioned CEO

on Wednesday. Ted was someone we have all known who has

risen from the ranks of Order Filler in Florida, having taken

business courses and getting a Bachelor’s down there. To be

finally receiving a Master’s degree (online coursework) and

being recognized for his leadership and good work ethic.

 

I asked Ted a simple question:

“How do I get my eye doctor to write me a prescription you

and others will understand? I have submitted one that has

explained I had narrow eye glaucoma, have had laser surgery

and now wear contacts to help me see the tiny bar codes on

the products and to the best I can with these, see far down

the lanes in the Pick to Light and the Bins area in the Mezz

and the Green Bins areas. It says plain as day in my files,

written with the idea of driving a fork lift and pallet rider,

that I cannot see out of one of my eyes well enough to back

up into shipping. It expresses these two elements: Robin

lacks depth perception due to her monovision.”

 

Ted studied me, he is a fair man, after all. He then put his

hands into a prayer ‘posture,’ and asked,

“Could you get your ophthalmologist to write a clearer

prescription which describes our different equipment?”

 

Exasperated, I told Ted that I would try but added that

he could look up My Summer from Hell, that I spent in

the Heavy Bulk radiators, struts and tailpipes area and

how I was ‘wrangling stuff far bigger than I was’ and how

I lost my Summer bonus, because I was not able to drive

backwards in the narrow lanes on the shipping floor.

 

Ted listened, I give him that.

Again he repeated that I needed a more specific excuse since

“everyone” was being cross-trained back into Heavy Bulk.

 

As I left, I mentioned this fact,

“When I interviewed for this job, I was told I would just

be in the area of the bins and never drive abt equipment. I

did give this a ‘shot’ and failed miserably. How is it that

two of the last older colleagues may use knee surgery and

shoulder surgery to count as good excuses but when I

am afraid of hurting others, using equipment I am not

very capable of handling, due to the safety concerns you

would think that my eyes would be every bit as ‘good’ an

excuse as theirs. . .  I will call Dr. Pappas, leave a detailed

message and hope for the best.”

 

When I left work, I was discouraged. I have really tried

there. I went into the library this time driving directly

there and not parking in the front lot of my apartment

building, trudging here and back by foot. I just wanted

to read and post an upbeat message on Thursday or

Friday. No complaining or ranting.

 

Into my second hour of writing my Premio Dardos post,

I was asked while immersed in my writing by two young

men a question. I had to ‘shake off my dream world of

blogging’ and listen. They looked rather upset and worn

around the edges. One was in a ball cap and the other was

holding two skate boards,

“M’am, would you be able to give us a ride?”

 

I glanced at my neighbor, a woman who is a nurse who is

doing online training, often in the library. She looked at me,

raised her eyebrows, her head turned towards me, back of

her head towards the ‘boys.’

 

I told them I was blogging, needed to be here about an hour,

but afterwards I could drive them. I pointed outside through

the glass partition that separated the computer room from the

lounge chairs and cubicles that people tutor students in and

also, set up their private laptops to do their work,

“If you want a ride, I will try to do what I can as fast as I can,

so you may only have to sit out there for 45 minutes. Where

am I taking you?”

 

Their response reassured me it would only take me 15 minutes

out of my way and it was an older, more familiar territory to

me. Sometimes I just use my ‘gut’ and I did this time. I used

to live there on this street, where the corner had a bakery and

a hair dresser, side by side with a leather works shop. It was

more of a positive way to end my day, than to focus the whole

time on my dumb job problems. I probably wrote distracted

and shortened comments on Wednesday to my fellow bloggers,

since I was really fuming inside. (The repeated rant I kept

carrying in my head, interrupting my writing flow was,

“How much more of this can I take, Lord?”)

 

As the young men walked away, I noticed one has droopy

drawers, which is what is still considered fashionable among

some of the teens around Delaware. It looked like Kanye and

sometimes other rappers still think it is okay to wear, too.

 

The nurse looked at me and asked pointedly,

“Do you KNOW those boys?”

 

I replied, “No, but my son used to ask people for rides,

sometimes still relies on others for them.”

 

She grabbed my arm, not too tightly but more of a warm

touch,

“Honey chile’ you should not give boys or men you don’t

know rides. I will pray for your safety tonight.”

I looked at her computer and saw she was finished with

her program and she handed the headphones back into

the computer room aide. I told her thank you and I did

appreciate her caring about me.

 

I decided to finish up and leave the computer room, go

to the bathroom and give the ‘boys’ a ride. I looked at

them with the one boy having his cap pulled over his face,

slouching in one of the leather chairs while the other, who

had asked me looked up expectantly, asking, “Are you ready

now?” He nudged his skate boarding partner and told him

to get ready to go. I found them waiting outside the women’s

restroom, probably figuring I was making a ‘go at leaving

without them, ‘ but I never purposely go back on a promise.

 

I went to my car and they stood outside while I unlocked it,

asking if I minded their smoking one cigarette while it warmed

up. I didn’t mind and made a joke telling them I had to take a

few moments to clear a seat in the back of the car, adding that

when I had gone to Cleveland to my Mom’s I was given a few

odds and ends to put into my own crowded apartment. I tell

many people about my using the trunk as a kind of ‘shed.’

 

When they got into the car, the one who has asked for the

ride and had been in ‘charge’ of the skateboards said such

a nice compliment,

“Thank you, m’am, we asked probably a dozen people, men

and women in the library and finally were about to give up

and we saw people in the computer room and there you were,

being so kind to us. We would have waited, it got so cold all

of a sudden. Hope you didn’t rush on account of us?”

 

I asked their names, the one who was the speaker of the two,

more outgoing and friendly said,

“My name is Hudson and he is Shane, we went to high school

and have also gone to the JVS. (This is shortened version of

Joint Vocational School, where high school students learn

a variety of skills.)”

 

I told him, “I paint children’s names but have only painted one

‘Hudson’ for the past thirty years and never painted a ‘Shane.'”

 

Shane perked up in the back, looked at my eyes on him through

the rear view mirror. He told me that it was taken as a nickname,

from a movie his grandmother liked, that his real name was

Richard and that Hudson was really named William.

 

I told him I loved the movie, “Shane,” had he seen it?

 

Shane told me he had more than three times watched it with

his grandparents and had made his friend Hudson watch it, too.

 

When I told William that his name was really a nice one and

that Kate and William are making their royal rounds in the

world. Why didn’t he stick with this name? He responded by

saying he ‘hated’ to be called, “Billy” or “Willy.”

 

I told him Will Smith was a cool guy and he carries his name

well.

When I asked what jobs they were going to work in or what

were their hopes for the future, William/Hudson told me he

had learned to cook at JVS and that Richard/Shane had taken

computer classes and was having a hard time finding a job in

that area.

I told Hudson that my son is a morning kitchen manager and

cook at Son of Thurman and it is a great paying job with a good

work environment setting. Explained how James has been in

wonderful places after he finished JVS, like learning how to

be a ‘sous chef’ under a European, German chef and has been

a kitchen manager for another restaurant, as well as plenty of

other ‘worse’ paying and poorer atmosphere places, too.

 

Hudson exclaimed excitedly,

“I know I have heard of James! He is a friend to one of my

older brothers!”

 

All of a sudden, this was a ride meant to be had. It was one of

the best moments of my week. I am getting teary eyed as I type

this, just thinking if I had said, “No, I don’t give rides to strangers.”

 

When I got into my darkened one bedroom apartment, I turned on

ivory colored decorated warmer of scents that my friend Jenny gave

me for Christmas, switched on  the lights on my little tree with birds

and nests, with red and white calico ties on the branches and gazed

at my dining room table in the living room with the burgundy runner,

burgundy covers on my chairs and the lovely pewter candle sticks, with

three large Valentine’s Day cards and several small ones

from the grandies on the table, suddenly. . .

 

“all was right with the world.”

 

 

 

 

* Musical selections:

Here are a few songs which crossed my mind later.

1. “These Days,” by Foo Fighters.

2. “One of These Days,” sung by Emmylou Harris which

talks about being a woman and finding peace.

3. “One of These Days,”  Tim McGraw’s version is about

being bullied and finishes with such a poignant, touching

line, “some day you’re going to love me.”

4. “One of These Nights,” by the Eagles.

5.”These Days,” sung by Rascal Flatts.

6. “These Days,” performed by Jackson Browne.

7. The way people connect in our small town of

Delaware reminds me of John Mellencamp’s song,

“Small Town.”

 

*Art suggestion:

If you would like to see an adorable drawing of a child

throwing up fallen leaves illustrated by Mary Englebreight,

check out this by writing, “Thank God for Small Favors,”

it comes up with a special picture.

 

 

 

 

Baldwin Wallace site: 2015 International Film Series

Standard

You better believe I was excited to be asked by my sister in law,

Susan who is a Dean at Baldwin Wallace University to attend

two of the many diverse international films shown over this

past weekend. The series was held from February 6 – 14th.

The two movies were so disparate they don’t even seem to

belong in the same world we live in. One was more factual

and sad in its depiction of culture, class structure and society.

The other was one that left you feeling strong, independent

and yet vulnerable to feelings about relationships. Both had

a similar thread of how choosing the ‘right path in life’ can

make a difference in life’s outcomes.

 

The Chinese film was called, “Tian Zhu Ding,” which translates as

“A Touch of Sin.” There were four ‘acts’ with true stories embedded

within the plot. The news stories were results from tragic incidents.

The film ends by circling back to a few of the main characters. Each

individual portrayed a character who either committed violence or

were affected and changed by the actual happenings.

 

The countryside setting in the beginning of the movie displayed

beautiful snow-capped mountains and the outside of a coal mine.

There are many struggling people in this remote town. Someone

is offended, and ultimately angered, by the owner of the mine.

You do not find out until another section of the movie how far

this man will go as he takes out his revenge.

 

Part of this true story includes two men being shot and killed

going down the mountain on their motorcycles. It looks to the

observer to be a possible ‘hit job.’ I think this part of the first

story gives the viewer the sense of,  “Life is futile.” This random

act of violence against the two men just made this section of the

film feel more desolate.

 

The town tries valiantly to display a friendly and positive reception

for manager and his wife. A noisy, discordant band, cheerleader-like

people wearing costumes and one loud, angry and discontented man

await the arrival of the mining company boss, who is also part of the

royal family. The main problem making the miner seethe and stew

is that if the family can afford a plane which arrives on the runway

where the gathering is prepared to entertain them, then he feels the

manager should pay the workers better. The disparity between the

classes seem to be the root and meaning behind this part of the film.

 

Later after the film, there was a reception where one of Baldwin

Wallace University professors said they do have unions in China.

She speculated possibly not in the rural provinces, though.

 

The small town’s welcoming committee and reception is declared

over by the manager and the crowd disperses. There were a few

people who shook hands with the manager and tried to ingratiate

themselves with him. His wife doesn’t shake hands but smiles and

appeared aloof. The royal manager of the coal mine ends up beating

the upset man with only his wife and his pilot as witnesses. This

is due to his having embarrassed the royal manager by expressing

his disapproval of the way the mine was managed.  Being ‘called out’

by a subordinate on his wealthy habits in front of the group threw

him into a rage.

 

This poor soul is so badly injured he must go to a hospital.

 

The second story is one where the injured, malcontent man visits

a woman who he has loved since he was young. You can see from

their facial expressions how much they care about each other. She

has been married for some time. She stops preparing dinner and

leaves one of her sons in the kitchen doing his homework. The

film never shows the two in any of unfaithfulness. The viewer

assumes it is unrequited love.  It appears they have never followed

through with a physical affair. The woman won’t leave her husband

but does explain to the man she has known her whole life that she

has loved him since young. She would go with him, if only he would

change. She says he will never amount to anything, only in Chinese

translated into English subtitles.

 

There is a possible theme of redemption in the beginning of this

story. The audience may feel there could be hope for this man who

is distraught and not taken seriously in his coal mining job. It seems

like the man is thinking about changing his ways. He does have a

wife, it is revealed and she is going to have to live with the haunting

vengeful acts he chooses to commit.

 

Unfortunately, he is angered by this hardened  position of his

childhood sweetheart. He goes on to commit atrocities, killing

more than four people. The scene where he gets his rifle and goes

to the royal palace is almost unbelievable. It made me feel like I

was watching a Quentin Tarantino film. This true news story is

not given a date or time but the review and article about the film

describe this as an actual murderous series of events.

 

The married woman in this story will re-appear in the fourth story.

 

The third story is one with a couple of young people. The central

character in this ‘act’ is one young man who is trying to get out

of the coal mining town. He has a friend he contacts using his cell

phone, who affirms there are more jobs in the big city. The friend

upon his arrival calls a man who comes to pick him up in a fancy

car. He is taken to a place of entertainment where young people,

both men and women, are given costumes to wear.

 

They are paraded in front of potential ‘buyers’ of their ‘human wares.’

One strange element is a shortened version of an Army uniform with

the bellies of the young girls displayed and they do ‘march in’ and

the visitors sit on rows of couches ogling them.

 

The clients may buy ‘time’ with the youths or buy ‘acts’ performed,

(implied but not seen.) This becomes sad since the two attracted to

each other, spend time while they have a day off from work. They try

to act like a normal couple on a date. There are smiles and moments

where you have the belief, or hope this may be the first happy ending

of the three stories shown so far. They spend time looking at things at

a local market, see statues of Buddha the young woman is interested

and the ‘boy’ purchases one about a foot tall.  They go to a parking lot,

where they sit in someone else’s car, kissing while the Buddha is shown

left on the hood of the car as rain begins to fall upon the windshield.

There are symbolic meanings to several parts of each story.

 

The girl reluctantly tells the young man she has a three year old

daughter. She poignantly express when you work in the ‘sex trade’

you really don’t believe in love anymore. Her mother is raising the

little girl.

 

This ends the first half of the 3rd story. . .

 

There is another young woman who is working in a public sauna.

This place is where sexual favors can also be bought. She is ‘only a

receptionist’ she tries to explain her employment position three

times to a couple of men who are trying to persuade her to engage

in paid sexual favors.

 

Both these stories come to violence. In the first one, the young

man throws himself over a balcony many stories high in the city.

He had just gotten off the phone with his mother complaining he

had not sent money since he left the coal mine. You sense he had

hoped to find a good job and make enough money to send home

to support his mother. This compounded with the disenchantment

with the city, the reality and rejection of the young girl sends him

into making his final choice.

 

The second story in this section of the movie, has the accosted

young woman lashing out with a knife and attacking, defending

herself against the two male potential rapists. The word, “no” and

slamming the door three times against them did not stop their

attempts to change her mind.

 

Once the man is bloody with several stabs into his chest and arms,

the other man runs away. She leaves the establishment in bloody

clothing and is seen wandering out on the road leaving the city in

the dark.

 

The last story shows the woman from story number two having

left her husband to become a ‘preacher,’ in the form of a street

performer. She must have decided the violent rampage of her

childhood love was a turning point. There aren’t any explanations

for the film’s character’s actions.

 

Sometimes, there was silence in many scenes.

Conversation seemed more to move the pieces of each story

along rather than connect people together.

 

The performance play has a religious revival tone to it. The main

female entertainer is asking members of the audience to come

forward and ask for forgiveness. The message in this seems to be,

‘Your actions will help you to find your path in life.’

 

The wife of the disgruntled coal miner who killed the royal couple

(who also managed the coal mine) in their palace is present. Along

with the young woman from the sauna. She had just come from a

“Fortune 500”  company (displayed on the sign by the tables of

job interviewers). In this scene, the young girl has shorter hair,

wearing a simple outfit. This is not thread bare, but the attitude

of the female interviewer shows disdain towards her. She didn’t

have the necessary qualifications, both educational and experience,

to get the position. She walks dejectedly with her head looking at

the sidewalk out of the building and heads towards a park.

 

Following the sound of the play leads the unemployed woman to

come across a performance upon a small stage set up in the park.

 

There is a feeling of hope amongst the participants in the play.

Their exuberance is catchy and they seem to impart a purpose to

their presentation. Several aimless people have wandered upon

the colorful scene.

 

The city onlookers listen to the motivational messages given.

Those who have felt like life has become too daunting and

overwhelming. It ends with an open-ended optimistic sense

of well being.

 

I would say the fourth story’s theme is about redemption.

 

This Chinese film was every bit as violent as any of ones made

in the United States. I had a preconception that it would show

resolutions made and more detailed explanations given for the

intense situations in the four stories. The outline of the plot lets

the viewer know there will be “four shocking and true events.”

 

The way the stories are ‘strung together’ doesn’t make it easily

understood.  If you don’t play close attention, it might be hard

to determine each character as they are not always wearing any

distinguishing clothing.

 

If I had been at home watching this on a DVD, I would have

rewound it more than once.

 

If any movie is possible to remind you of this film to one of ours,

I would say, “Crash.” That film took several story lines where they

converge into situations. Characters were loosely drawn and then

acted and reacted to the events in each movie. This Chinese film,

“A Touch of Sin,” is reminiscent of the way lives unravel and

become disconnected.

 

The director named Jia Zhangke has written and directed two

other films that a reviewer considered, “Masterpieces.”  They are

called, “The World” and “Still Life.”

 

A movie reviewer for the magazine, “The New Yorker,” Richard

Brody says, “This is one of the best and most important directors

in the world.” In a brochure for the film festival, others label it as

“daring,” “poetic” and leading the country of China, after the real

life crimes, into a period of “self-examination.”

 

I thoroughly enjoyed the Chinese reception with various dishes of

noodles with vegetables, sushi rolls, egg rolls and fortune cookies.

There were some kind of custard wrapped desserts which some of

us wondered if this were a contribution of ‘cannolis’ representing the

Italian food.

 

Since the last movie we saw was from Italy.

 

I listened and was humbled by deep thoughts the Chinese movie

drew out of professors and visitors.

*I would not recommend watching this powerful movie due to its

feeling of hopelessness and despair.

 

Here are a series of thoughts I wrote down before I compiled

this into a ‘review’ on “A Touch of Sin:”

1.  A diabetic injects himself with insulin and proceeds to eat

noodles.

2.  The only two pieces of art work were a beautiful Tiger and

the Mother Mary holding Jesus. The costumes of the band

players and the different plays within the film were gorgeous.

3. Taking justice into his own hands, the one who was beaten

by the royal who managed the coal mines, was accompanied

by waving a wall hanging of a tiger over his rifle.

4. Discontent/Dissent/Inequality of the masses was a recurring

theme throughout the film.

5. A “Fortune 500” company is in the 4th section of the film

and it is titled, “Oasis of Opportunity.”

6. The three languages spoken in China are given as Mandarin,

Shanghai and English.

7. Everyone, at every level in the film, has a cell phone and

modern technology is apparent throughout despite poverty

in the mining village.

8. The scene with a man whipping his horse was upsetting.

9. Taking justice in their own hands seems to be the way

those who felt their lives were unfair was their only way

of equalizing their lives.

10. Smoking occurs in buses, trains, restaurants and hotel

rooms.

11. Men dress as women to entertain in the fourth story.

12. The movie left me feeling very dissatisfied and discontent.

*No violence was taken on my part.

 

 

“Viaggio Sola” is called, “A Five Star Life.” It actually is not the

same meaning as the Italian title would be, “Traveling Alone.”

This is a fun spirited Italian movie about a woman who is one

of those ‘mystery shoppers’ or ‘customers’ to elegant and formal

hotels around the world. The time she is in an Asian country

watching on the veranda a lovely belly dancer while sipping wine

and looking across at a man also a guest at the hotel is an example

of escaping reality.

Her own apartment is sparingly decorated.  Her sister is married

and has two girls. Her brother-in-law plays for the Italian symphony.

She takes her nieces out to eat once in the movie, along with making

reservations of adjoining rooms for their accompanying her on a

special trip.

The girls like checking the mattress for bed bugs, counting towels

and the other parts of the reoccurring list the women orally goes

over as she types the answers into her laptop.

The girls ‘act up’ and use toilet paper in the bathtub which brings

out the character’s lack of understanding children’s impulses. She

yells briskly at the girls, which later one of them can’t go to sleep

and ‘wants to go home.’

The voice over narrator throughout this film is telling the elements

of a proper “5 star” place.

There are amusing times when the main character is disembarking

from a trip to greet a good guy friend at the airport,  where she offers

to ‘cook dinner,’ which he makes a disdainful expression which is

comical, like a, “You know you don’t know how to cook!” look.

While at his apartment, you notice he has candles and nice cooking

utensils as he prepares her a meal.

 

There are a few monkey wrenches thrown into the Italian film’s

plot line, which I won’t reveal because I do recommend this film.

 

It is beyond the simple story drawn here. It is not at all negatively

completed as the similar George Clooney film, “Up in the Air” was.

That movie ending was quite disconcerting, since I saw a future in the

romance being shown between George’s character and an airline

hostess.

 

In the Italian film, “A Five Star Life,” you will see gorgeous scenes of

the following international cities:  Paris, France, Gstaad, Morocco,

Berlin, Germany and China. Each has lavish hotels and delicious meals

displayed to wish you were the person hired to critique and be pampered.

 

 

 

Bizarre Happenings and A New Beginning

Standard

Two Coworkers’ Stories

 

The first subject matter is my friend, Amy. I have some doubts about

the man who doesn’t like to be kissed on the mouth. But, guess what?

They have made incredible arrangements and plans for this new year.

Amy and Roy are heading to Missouri. Not just any town, but a fine

sounding one with the name of New Amsterdam.

 

They found online a three acre farm, barn and fences to hold their

horses in. If you remember I have posted about Amy’s horses, Spirit,

Sapphire and Lokie. Roy has a wild horse which puts Spirit’s wildness

to shame! His name is Lickety Split. But they call him “Split.” Doesn’t

his name show imagination and doesn’t it conjure exactly what this

horse tends to do?

 

Anyway, Roy and Amy have made more plans than I could imagine in

such a short time. They have given notice at the place they rent to live

in Cardington, they have told the barn that houses their horses they

will no longer be paying for their stall or feed fees. Amy has ‘put in’

for a transfer to a Kansas Advance Auto Distribution Center about

a 45 minute (one way) drive. She has over fifteen years in working at

the good ole’ D.C. #23 here in Delaware, Ohio.

 

I have my fingers crossed, since there are a few doubts, concerns and

worries for such a huge under-taking, relocating and a new job, to boot!

If you are one who sends prayers or well wishes into the air and don’t

mind including Amy and Roy, you would make me feel much better.

(When more than one are gathered in His Name and pray, sometimes

mountains can be moved!)

 

In honor of my sweet Amy, please listen to these two songs:

Pure Prairie League’s song, “Amie.”

Carole King’s song, “So Far Away.”

I shall miss Amy, but we are connected since she likes my posts and

reads my blog.  Plus, since she has email and a cell phone we can stay

connected. One way or another!

 

My other story is much more intriguing and less worrisome. My good

pal, Tammy has joined me for lunch, along with first and second breaks,

for almost 6 years now.  She has two big cats, along with the feral kitty

who has become tamed and one English Shepherd dog. She has a good

boyfriend from years and years ago. I wrote an old love story post about

them. Tammy and Mike, the “Fencepost Buddies” love story.

 

Anyway, her sister and brother in law have a neighboring house which

has been through a lot of trauma in the family. They have had the same

family living there and there have been rumors associated with this farm

‘homestead.’

The farming family had an open door policy recently giving away

all of their household belongings. The farming equipment was sold

in a public auction.

The house and furniture are considered ‘haunted.’ Her sister took

three intriguing antique trunks and two tall vintage dressers.  She

felt very ‘lucky’ to have not had to purchase these beautiful ‘finds.’

 

She shared one of each of the trunks and dressers with Tammy.

 

Here are the strange things that have happened in Tammy and Mike’s

house since they brought the furniture into their home. There have

been several times when one or both of the couple have felt unusual

‘presence’ and an accompanying cold burst of air. They have had

times where they left the house with all but one light left on, only to

come home and find the entire house ‘lit up like a Christmas tree!’

 

The weirdest things have been pull chains on fans, which when they

would turn them on normally, like in the summertime it would be at

the light switch since there are ceiling lights on every fan in almost

all the rooms of their house. They shut EVERY fan off, by pulling the

chains in November.

 

The fans should not ‘turn on’ when you turn on the overhead fixture,

just the light should go on. Both parties, Mike and Tammy, are

adamant they are not trying to prank each other with the lights or

fans.

 

No one can explain the recent way a curtain pulled out into a bulging

shape either. Nor can they understand why when Mike was taking

off his breathing mask to prevent sleep apnea, it was hurled out of

his hand. He felt a tug or pull on the mask.  More than once!

 

Someone at work suggested shouting these words,

“Go into the Light!”

 

Another gave some herbal or natural remedies to cast out demons.

 

So, my good friend Mark C. who works in my building and is in

the area below me often in the Aerosol Room knew someone to refer

this couple to about the ‘haunted’ furniture. His good female friend

named Ruth has a son who came and toured the house. He felt the

‘presence’ and also, when the lights were out, thought there was a

‘ghostly shape’ in two areas of the house. He is one of those ghost

hunters who has a website, too.

 

The trunk and the dresser are gone now. Ruth’s son hauled it away

to keep in his barn. He has a group of associates who want to use

some kind of machinery to detect ‘ghosts’ or ‘spirits.’

 

When she was adding things for the table of my coworkers, Tammy

told us that “rural legend” around her small town (not Delaware,

Ohio) ‘they say that this homestead has been in the family for quite

some time. The story goes that the wife of the farmer went mad

and the granddaughter who inherited the farm is in her thirties

and been institutionalized in a mental hospital.’

 

We all kind of shivered, thinking about the implications that the

women in this family may have been tormented by something

inexplicable.

 

Tammy says there was a moment recently that both Mike and she

were sitting watching television and the dog ran up the stairs and

into the bedroom barking.  Both of them looked at each other

with a little bit of ‘fear of the devil’ in their eyes.Neither one chose

to go upstairs and investigate. Mike called to the dog to come,

while they didn’t even bother to discuss the implications.

 

Tammy said their living room curtain is not bulging anymore with

the shape of someone hiding behind it. Instead it made a weird

circular motion where it rustled along the carpet, when the house

was quiet and she was reading a book. She looked up and saw the

curtain sway, then rise up and whisk sideways. Finally, it was pulled

back. In mid-swing of the curtain, she tried to film it with her cell

phone. In the middle of the noiseless house, on the short ‘video,’

you can hear a clattering. We all noticed it and asked Tammy about

this, she answered:

“I got up to see what was going on, since both the inside cats were

on the sofa with me and the dog was at my feet.  I just wondered

what the noise was. It was not in the hall nor the upstairs, it was

in the kitchen.  It stopped as I approached it, but for one brief

moment, I felt like it were the sound of plates bumped together.

There were no plates in my sink nor did the sound repeat itself.

If Mike weren’t here to verify the lights and the fans, during past

incidents, along with the startling shape of the bulging curtain, I

would not believe any of this.  As it was, he thinks the dishes

clattering is highly suspicious of  ‘more aggressive behaviors.’ He

believes me and does not think I am imagining it. We talked about

this out on the road, in his truck. It is so weird but we sometimes

wonder if there is something which could ‘listen’ to us in the house?

 

What if the ‘ghost’ or ‘being’ is still in my house?”

 

I looked at Melvin and Felda.  Both appeared a little spooked looking,

as I felt goosebumps rise on both my arms and the hair on the back

of my neck stood on end.  Melvin’s family believe in voodoo,  as

well as my Filipino friends.  I am not sure Tammy really has any

‘beliefs’ but she really thinks strange happenings are going on in

her country house, despite the furniture being taken away and put

away in Ruth’s son’s barn.

 

“All I want is some peace and quiet. I wish this issue would be

resolved,” my good friend and coworker, Tammy lamented.

 

Do you have any suggestions for Tammy and Mike?

(They really don’t want to sell their house!)

 

Here are two songs to represent my feelings about the bizarre

happenings in Tammy and Mike’s house:

“Strange Magic,” by Electric Light Orchestra.

“Witchy Woman,” by the Eagles.

 

I love both of these songs and had not heard them for awhile.

Hope you enjoy the playlists and don’t forget to send some

silent positive thoughts out into the universe for Amy and Roy.

It couldn’t hurt to do this for Tammy and Mike, too.

 

Celebrating a serendipitous happy morning moment for me,

while driving to the library I heard this ‘new song:’

“Roller Coasters,” sung by the ‘indie pop’ band, Bleachers.

I found this to be really catchy and a fun song, reminiscent

of older pop songs.

 

Would you consider listening to just one more song?

I am off for the day on an adventure with my good friend, Jenny,

who is a retired teacher. We did not have to work today, ‘lack of

work!’

Yippee!

Hope you have a fantastic weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

Moving Ahead to Don Gay Apparel

Image

My coworker, Josephina, who goes by “Joe” among her friends

outside of work and “Fee” here at the warehouse, was sharing her

hopes for her wife and children to have an abundant Christmas.

Since the past two weeks, our hours have been cut, I have been

worried about those who have waited to purchase Santa’s gifts,

but cannot offer to help out anyone, unfortunately.

Fee was telling me about a publication on Monday, saying I

“should check it out.” It is called, “Outlook” magazine, which is

on the free newstand outside our library interior doors. This

would be like the ‘foyer’ of the building, where there are a few

public notices for clubs, organizations, and other public service

announcements.

I took home “Outlook” and was amazed at the multitude of very

interesting articles and information for the holidays presented

within a ‘magazine’ for Gays, Bisexuals and Lesbians. I was so

enthralled with the subject of music, since the ‘stereotype’ of

this magnificent group of human beings, is they love their

musicals and ‘show tunes.’ The articles about famous local

people and famous national people who have recently ‘come out’

had my attention, too.  The recipes for cocktails and yummy

appetizers had me interested and copying a few down. It is a very

informative and well-rounded publication. On the cover is a lovely

photograph of Bette Midler. Her article is titled,

“Divine Intervention.”

Do you remember when Bette Midler wore corsets and was on the

wild side, as “The Divine Miss M?” She made a lot of friends in the

gay and lesbian community, singing in the Continental Bath House.

I still consider her attractive, liked her G-rated family movie with the

theme of being an unprepared grandmother, “Parental Guidance.”

Her songs, “God Is Watching Us” and “The Wind Beneath My Wings,”

are on my all time favorite Top 50 songs.

 

Why did Fee send me to pick this up? The better question is,

“What took me so long?”

I have had a long history of having many gay friends, particularly

the guy who took me to my high school prom, along with both of

my brothers’ good and oldest friends. My youngest brother met

his friend in running clubs. My ‘older,’ one who is only 18 months

younger than I, had not noticed his high school friend who was a

wrestler and also, accompanied a group of us to my brother’s

high school prom, until college when he ‘came out’ to him.

 

Speaking of ‘coming out’ there is a well researched and presented

article on this subject in “Outlook.” It is addressing the idea of

trying this over the holidays. I would say letting relatives who are

younger know about your personal choices, but wait to inform

ones who are older. This is a ‘tricky minefield,’ and why make

the  holidays uncomfortable?

 

My friend, Fee, told me a few interesting facts about her life,

along with her girlfriend’s, too. Most people think that she and

her girlfriend are just living together to save money, to share

co-parenting with another woman and also, their long lasting

friendship. Fee also shared her growing up years with me, over a

sparsely populated break time. We had chosen to go to break later

than most of the order fillers. She is a grown version of Campbell’s

Soup kids. I would describe her as a past redhead, more blonde now.

She told me about how average looking she had been, how she did

not have much confidence and how being in a steady relationship

with her first boyfriend led to her marrying him. She says she had

lack of self esteem. Fee was friends with Jessie, her current partner,

through many years as Jessie was married to a friend of her husband’s.

I was glad to hear that there was no history of abuse on the part of

either of their husbands against them. This traumatic experience

can sometimes draw people away from being heterosexual.

My coworker Karen and her Suzie experienced this, individually

although not necessarily conclusive proof of most gays or lesbians.

 

In the case of the men I have known in my life, they ‘knew’ it, all

along but fought their desires to be with men, wanting so badly to fit

into the ‘normal’ society.

 

Fee told me their children are so happy they are a family. Some of

the kids remember the turmoil while they had fathers in their house.

Jessie was the ‘brave one,’ Fee told me. She ‘came out’ and told her

she loved Fee.  Fee still has a Granny and an “Auntie” who don’t

know that the two roommates are lovers. Fee also did give our work

insurance a ‘thumb’s up,’ since they do cover same sex partners for

medical, dental and vision insurance. Fee would like to get married

to Jessie. She says their wedding announcements would say a silly

and joyful declaration (like):

“Jessie is my girl,

Joe is my guy.

Together~

Jessica and Josephina

are one happy couple,

One happy family.”

Jessie embarrassed me a bit, but mainly since we work together, I

would not want to picture any of my coworkers’ romantic lives…

But Fee told me that the two of them take turns leading the family,

doing certain chores like cooking and cleaning, depending on their

busy schedules, She went a ‘step farther’ to share with me,

“Jessie likes me to be the ‘guy’ and I don’t mind wearing the pants

in the house, but sometimes I want to be the ‘girl’ who gets their

bath drawn, back and body parts rubbed and all those delicious

moments.”

Since I was sad to hear that a male college student got beat up

recently in the news, for holding hands and kissing in public,

I wished to ask her a personal question about prejudice. She told

me a shocking thought, that she “felt luckier to be a woman who

chooses to be gay, since men have it harder, it is not as easy for

society to accept men who are gay.”  She continued to surprise me,

by saying,

“It is easier to be a ‘gay woman’ than to be of a different race. You

know you can ‘hide’ your sexuality, if you choose, but I feel bad since

the world is still a harsh place to be if you are of color.”

Fee told me to go ahead and put the musical lists that I found in my

post, as long as I focused on a song that she and Jessie love and feel

says it all:

” Waiting on the World to Change,”

John Mayer,

“Continuum”

album,

2006.

 

How could I not include the fine and exquisite list of holiday songs,

recommended by the “Outlook” media magazine?

This is an excellent and eclectic list. Hope you will enjoy this and

it is much more encompassing than my short list of favorites on

another post.

1. “Blue Christmas,” by Elvis.

2. India.Arie with Trombone Shorty, playing “I’ve Got My Love

to Keep Me Warm.”

3.  Kenny G. and Dave Koz, “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow.”

4. Idina Menzel (of “Frozen” children’s animated film fame and also,

original cast of “Rent” on Broadway) singing the songs

“Holiday Wishes”

“Do You Hear What I Hear?”

“All I Want for Christmas, is You.”

and ** Original song written by I. Menzel, with Walter Afanseif

and Charlie Midnight, “December Prayer.” (The critics say this is

wonderful.)

5. Harry Connick, Jr. singing an original song, “When My Heart

Finds Christmas.”

6. Barbara Streisand, (recommended her whole album),

“A Christmas Album.”

7. Human Nature, “The Christmas Album,” with the songs that

they highlighted as, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”

and an original song, “Mary’s Boy Child.” (I need to listen to

these original songs recommended very soon!)

8. Dave Koz, “The 25th of December” album. One song that

caught my interest was “All You Need is Love,” from the Beatles,

of course:

Sung with Stevie Wonder, Gloria Estefan, Richard Marx,  Heather

Headley and Johnny Mathis.

9. Any Christmas songs sung by Johnny Mathis, they absolutely

loved and recommended. The nicknamed J. M.: “Mr. Christmas!”

The favorite on the list of mine is, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time

of the Year.”

10. The Singing Bee brought us “Pentatonix,” which is an all

a capella group of singers. The song that is their original holiday

song is, “That’s Christmas to Me.”

11. Take 6 (band) plays “He is Christmas.” An original song to be

listened and appreciated.

 

The fun and lively Christmas Concert for my granddaughter’s (Lara)

Fifth Grade Chorus had these songs on their program:

1. “Yankee Doodle Boy/ Kid From the U.S.A” written by John Jacobson

and Alan Billingsley.

2. “Colors of Winter,” written by Amy F. Bernon.

3. “All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth,” by Don Gardner and

arrangement by Sally K. Albrecht.

4. “March Pat-a-Pan,” accompanied on the flute by Ana Moder and on the

hand drum by Stacy Lemke, Chorus director. The song was arranged by

Audrey Snyder.

 

I enjoyed the four songs sung by the Sixth Grade Chorus:

1. “Jubilate Deo,” an old traditional “round” song, no author or lyricist

given.

2. “Hava Nashira,” Israelis Folk Song, arranged by John Leavitt and

accompanied by Laura Lenhart on the clarinet.

3. “Gloria Tibi Domine” written by Greg Gilpin.

4. “Peace on Earth/ It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.”

 

 

Are there any other songs you would like to include?

I am always happy to feature music and especially

recommend your looking

into the original songs

on this list.

Music connects our senses,

gets us up and moving,

it builds emotions

and brings

couples

closer.

If

we

could

only get

the world

to connect

so easily

it would

be a

better

place.

I am ‘off’ to see the “Fantasy of Lights, ” after I pick up my oldest

daughter, Carrie with her two boys, Skyler and Micah.

We plan to go see Santa Claus and eat a dessert out.

(Wouldn’t hot chocolate and cookies, pie or cake be scrumptious?)

 

Rolling with Laughter

Standard

Coworkers are my source of humor and constancy in my daily routine.

We tend to miss each other over weekends, sometimes I feel it is due

to our being ‘displaced’ from our lines of preferred professions. All of

my fellow table mates at lunch and break were in other jobs before they

came to work at the warehouse.

When Melvin went off to Massachusetts, the week seemed to drag

forever.

 

This week, just the first three days already, have been hysterical. He

regales us with tall tales of lobster 3 or 4 times eaten daily. He is also

teaching us more and more about the Army life he led.

 

You may remember a long ago post about Melvin being raised by

parents from an island. By the time they came to America, they had

chosen Massachusetts as their home. I think the link, “cous cous” may

connect you to that story. . . We feel this is an interesting ‘thread’ that

connects the two of us. Since my Mom’s parents were both immigrants,

meeting on a street corner in New York City, but choosing to live in

Connecticut. My Grandpa’s father had chosen Massachusetts, where

my Grandpa went to school and his sister lived there, once adults.

Grandpa had moved away from there to go to the engineering or

‘technical college’ in New York City. He knows we both like many of

the New England specialties, too.

 

Melvin had been a good student in school. He decided to go into the

Army to get a ‘free education.’ Instead, he found his true interest or

“calling” in cooking. He did not go to culinary arts institute. He went

to Germany while in the Army, where he had an amazing time learning

about German food preparation. Then, he followed this with his next

tour of duty being spent on the Army base in Hawaii. Where native

fresh fruits are part of the daily Army diet. He excitedly described to us

at break today, they are also cut specially into shapes like lotus flowers

and birds, presented on the platters as ‘garnishes.’

We pursued this culinary specialty subject awhile, “Not in Officer’s

Club, but Mess Hall grub has garnishes?”

“Yes,” Melvin intoned then elaborating, “The different things you

can create varies from vegetables to fruits. A large melon, zucchini,

radishes or apples you make sliced criss-crosses, blanch them in

boiling water and quickly place them in icy water. The hot water gets

them to open up like a lotus blossom.”

He added, “Did you know that the Army never adds new amounts

of a food to an older dish?” (You know how while at a buffet or a

salad bar, they add more potato salad to the old? Nope, this NEVER

happens in the Army dining room!)

 

So, Melvin brought me the delicious German wine last year, which

he mentioned that in Germany at Christmas, the shops downtown

have little tables of treats and ‘shot glasses’ of drinks. They also warm

their wines and give out tastes of these. He contributed to my sense

of ‘culture’ while I shared this with my Mom and family last year.

Mom said a toast in German, which was one about health and love.

(My Mom’s mother was born in Germany. She told me to thank

Melvin. He had bought this on the Rickenbacker Air Force base,

as a gift to me. So thoughtful, you can see why he is a ‘keeper,’

when it comes to friends!)

 

Another morsel he shared with us was of an Army skill he acquired

while in Germany. He informed us they would bring in huge blocks

of ice and there would be one skilled ice sculptor who would create

lovely centerpieces for Army banquets at holidays. He apprenticed

and learned this amazing skill.

Again, we asked Melvin, “Do you mean ordinary Army enlisted men

would have banquets with carved ice decorations on their tables?”

We were incredulous. I am hoping there may be some enlisted men

from the past, who will confirm this outlandish ‘story.’

Really, please let me know. . .

“Yes,” Melvin looked and sounded like he had the Bible and would

“solemnly swear that this was the truth, the whole truth, so help

him God.”

Melvin then proceeded to tell us about mountains, ski cabins and

other etchings in his German ice sculptures. Then, he decided to

mention how he created elaborate Hawaiian ice sculptures with

volcanoes, trees and ocean waves along beaches. He had learned

how to, sculpt detailed floral arrangements out of ice. We wished

he had photographs but we believe his stories.

 

So, when Melvin got back from Massachusetts, we listened to how

he and his ‘my lady’ had lobster omelets, lobster rolls and lobster

linguini. He emphatically repeated this annoying part (we were

jealous, that is why we were annoyed), “I ate lobster 3 or 4 times

a day!” Upon repetition,  we still did not roll our eyes, since he was

entertaining us quite brilliantly. Never a dull moment at the good,

old warehouse with Melvin around.

 

Melvin’s accent had changed over his one week “Back home, out East.”

He vocalizes the sound of his “r’s” to “h’s” so his car was a “cah.” You

could close your eyes and imagine a Kennedy speaking. He sounds so

“cultured.” We tell him he should take his “lady friend” to England

and get their full ‘edification.’ Come back with a British accent. Then,

being the dramatic ‘ham’ that he is, he put his little pinky out and

pretended to hold a tea cup and saucer. He attempted an imitation

British tea party, exclaiming “Cheerio, my deah ones, we need to

order some crumpets and scones.”

 

Melvin told us how offended he was McDonald’s thinks “frappes”

sound like “frapays” while most New Englanders know “frappes”

rhyme with “wraps.” The real ‘frappes’ are delicious old fashioned

milk shakes made of real ice cream and whole milk, with flavors with

real chocolate syrup or real whipped cream. It makes me think of the

rants that began with this funny question, “Don’t you understand the

words that are coming out of my mouth?” from the two movies, with

Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker in “Rush Hour’ (one and two.)

 

Whenever Melvin opens his mouth, we laugh. He is full of spirit, likes

to tease and pull your leg. There is always a chance,  at any moment,

for his voice to  become high-pitched and indignant about something.

This is what he calls his “Ohio homey’s” slang and attitude.

 

The story Melvin finished with was about his days of being the Head

Cook at the Marysville Penitentiary. He claims that at any point in

time, you could run into a sister of a male inmate, while she is in

the female cellblocks. Or a mother! There was a special occasion,

where the Warden had arranged for a comedienne named, Monique,

to entertain the inmates. She is a known African American stand-up

comic, who uses ‘blue’ (vulgar) humor in her sketches and anecdotes.

Melvin smiled wide, snorting while remembering some of the skits

or jokes she told.

Melvin finally stopped laughing and  said, “The Warden got up from

his seat in the front of the room, apparently unaware of her type of

humor, with a bright red face, looking down as he walked to the back

of the room, quietly exiting. Everyone clapped and hooted, encouraging

this Monique to ‘carry on,’ with her crass jokes.”

 

I had a chance to change the subject at second break and told my

good friends that yesterday was the 51st anniversary of Push Button

Telephones. (I had already decided to post about the serious subject

of Malala and her Nobel Peace Prize.) So, you are finding this fact

out a day later than my coworkers!

 

ATT first presented these new phones to Pennsylvania residents on

November 18, 1963. The original Push Button phones had only ten

buttons, while in 1968 they added two more buttons (#) and (*). This

squared off phone replaced my favorite old fashioned  rotary phone.

Going along with the raucous humor and our improved mood, since

it was our Melvin’s long-lost return, we used our fingers to squeeze

our noses, to make our vocalizations to sound nasal and together

we imitated one of the greatest comedians ever, Lily Tomlin, by

chanting:

“One ringy dingy, two ringy dingy” and so forth, making the funny

character of the old time operator from variety shows of the 60’s

of “Ernestine,” come back alive. Tammy and I were rolling while

Melvin, who is a great imitator of voices, was pretending to be

the character.

 

In honor of Melvin, though, I will tell you his favorite singer is not

who you would expect. If you remember my post, “Someone Saved

My Life Today,” you may remember Melvin loves Elton John, so

does his girlfriend. The songs he says are ones that get him up and

dancing are:

“Honky Cat” and “Crocodile Rock.”

Melvin is one ‘hep cat’ who knows how to ‘jive!’

 

“Pet Peeves”

Standard

How aggravating!

How annoying!

Nuisances.

If you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

I have some gripes to express. Hope you will tell me what your

main ‘beefs’ with other people are!

 

1. “Repetitive complainers.”

You give advice to help them.

You try a different piece of advice

the next time.

You feel like you are ‘spinning wheels.’

Finally, when none of the thoughtful

approaches you have given to these,

‘whiners,’ you give up.

You hope they find someone else to

listen to them:

“Just because I am nice, doesn’t mean I want

to listen to you!”

 

2. “Sloppy parkers.”

Everywhere you go, there are ones

who feel their prize possession requires

two spots. Why not add to our relief and

your longer life, by parking far out in

the boondocks? Walking is so good for you

and your ‘car is safe’ out there!

The other ones, who go hand in hand with

these special car owners, are the ones who

bump your car with their door.

“My car is ‘special’ to me, so please use your

manners!”

 

3. Potluck ‘no shows.’

When the list is passed around, they add their

choice of homemade dish or dishes. They are

sometimes able to give a very good excuse for

not following through, lack of participation.

But, there are a few who ‘slide’ into line, get

a plate and you absolutely know they could

not even bring $2 hot dog buns or $1 pop.

Everyone has one ‘free pass’ I feel at our work

potlucks, but I know of a few who have NEVER

brought something to share.

“Come on, don’t you feel a little guilty about

not bringing anything?”

 

Family potlucks are different, I like to bring

extras, to cover those who have run out of time

or are short on money. Again, it is okay to bring

crackers or fresh produce out of one’s garden. . .

“Love means not having to bring anything but

oneself.”

 

4. “Borrowers.”

I have several in my work and apt. buildings.

Sometimes, it is no big deal, a quarter for laundry,

an egg or a cup of sugar. A little something, over

and over again,  does add up, though.

I have given once a week 25 cents to someone at work,

in a month it is a dollar…

If I need to borrow, I always come back the next day

and return the money. Mainly, due to my age and

forgetfulness, I do this.

The next time I shop, returning the egg is at the top

of my list of ‘things to do,’ sometimes adding a couple

of cookies or whatever I have noted they like.

Those borrowers are~

“Nickel and diming my good nature away!”

Please give back!

 

5. “Ride Takers.”

I like to help out, I honestly do. But there is someone

who actually had me take them through the drive-thru

and did not offer to buy a pop or iced tea on a long, hot

day!

When I have sometimes chosen to slow down and roll

down the window, seeing someone I know walking, that

is my choice. But there are now 2 people who linger at

our lockers, waiting outside having a cigarette or just

standing by my car, to get their rides.

Recently I have developed a thicker skin and have said,

“I have somewhere else I have to go, after work, which is

going to take me a different direction.”

Offer something to repay kindnesses.

 

6. “People who don’t know how to whisper.”

If you ever see the Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James

Gandolfini, someone put this right into the script!

That movie, “Enough Said,” includes few of my little

‘pet peeves’ that others do, that get on my nerves.

In the movie, it is actually a date at a movie theater,

where James’ character is not able to whisper but

uses a normal talking voice. If I really liked (or loved)

someone who did this, knowing they were not able

to do the quiet voice, I would just have to watch DVD’s

and use the ‘pause’ button, often! I cannot stand it

when there are people talking loudly for more than

a minute or two, at the library. I try to not glower or

give them my ‘mother’ or ‘teacher’ stare.

Try to refrain talking, if you have been told you have

a loud whisper.

 

7. “Frequent Guests/Rare, if ever, Hosts.”

Now, I may be’ treading on thin ice’ on this subject.

I know that I tend to have people come over and I

do enjoy their company. I loved this much more

when I lived in a nice, big house!

There was a certain friend who had been to my apt. about

3-4 x monthly, which means at least 40 times in one year,

making the total of over 80 times in two years. She thinks

she is saving me from driving her direction, a few miles

away. Once she comes over, she is hard to get back out of

my place. Worse still, is sometimes when we have made plans

to go somewhere, I will try to meet her at the door. She had

started to come early, though. Then I have her sitting in my

apartment watching me put on my makeup.

I guess this sounds funny or petty. I have picked her up at her

mobile home, which I can see from my car, that she has a nice

place, pretty curtains and some landscaping. I have NEVER

been asked in, before or after our times out. I have hinted by

saying, “If you let me come over for coffee sometime, I will

have a better idea of what kind of gift I may buy for your

birthday or Christmas.”

By sitting in my apartment, I have given her a sandwich,

cookies, chips, coffee, tea, pop, a few glasses of wine and

even, accidentally her spying my Godiva bag of chocolates

on a shelf when I opened the cabinet to get something else

to give her, I have felt ‘forced’ to share my chocolates!

This is ‘horrible’ to admit, but I have started saying,

“Let’s drive separately, I will meet you at the movies (or

wherever we have determined we should go together.)”

Take turns with your friends.

 

8. “One’s Situation is Always Worse Than Yours.”

I don’t think that I dwell on my misfortunes, in fact it

is only when a circumstance resembling my own comes

out in a conversation, will I mention how I have handled

my personal challenges in life.

This example is more easily described as, “Debby Downers,”

or “My Life Sucks More Than Anything You Say Is Going On

With Yours.” My daughter calls them, “Negative Nancy’s.”

While in high school, my Mom noticed this about a good

friend of mine, she even felt that it was her place to tell this

teenager that she needed to be able to ‘rise’ above some of

her circumstances and really, try to find some kind of ‘silver

lining’ in her life. Mom also started a little bit of silly passive

aggressive behavior, I am sure it went unnoticed by my girl-

friend. When the friend would call, she always asked, “Is

Robin there?” My Mom would say, “Yes.” There would be

dead silence. My Mom would wait it out. My friend would

finally ask, “Can I talk to her?” Mom, (English and Spanish

high school teacher) would say, “I suppose.” Tick. Tick. Tick.

Finally she would say, “May I speak with Robin?”

As my Mom was generous, she would often ask this friend,

who really was sometimes annoying (even) to me, “Would you

like something to drink?” The answer, invariably was, “Yes.”

My Mom would list a few choices, if it were the weekend, they

included juice, milk, iced tea or pop. This friend seriously

would say, “I don’t care.” My Mom would sit down and not

pursue the matter again, until the next time she came over.

I did not get to the point of giving her up, until we were in our

fifties. I was so understanding of her divorces, I was so helpful

with painting designs on her walls and her granddaughter’s

dresser. I understood that she has fibromyalgia, I volunteered

to weed armpit-high weeds, cleaning her basement and her

kitchen for her son’s high school graduation party. I served

the food, having brought two side dishes and a graduation card

with enclosure of money. Even when I worked two jobs, I was

able to spend time with her, since I did feel that she had few

people who cared about her. Her own sister would not invite

her to holidays. Her father would come down and take her out

to eat and then drive back to Cleveland. (Her mother passed

away when we were adults and parents of our own children.

I attended her mother’s funeral and she attended my Dad’s.)

Then, one holiday she showed up with her son and his girlfriend

uninvited for a Thanksgiving meal. I opened the door and then

closed it partway saying, “Maybe I should check with my parents,

this is possibly my Dad’s last holiday with his grandkids.”

I kept them waiting on the front doorstep. My Mom offered to go

and tell her, “No, this is beyond rude.” My oldest daughter said

she would go to the door and say, “Sorry this isn’t a good time.”

Finally, my ex-husband went to the door and I heard him say,

“Holidays are not times to show up unexpectedly. Thanks for the

kind thoughts about my father-in-law’s cancer. (She did not say

a word about him at this time.) Happy Thanksgiving.”

(Myex’s Christian upbringing came to the forefront, for which I am

ever grateful.)

When he came back to the living room, having heard his deep voice

carried into the living room, my Dad said, “Who was that woman?

Are solicitors allowed to come on holidays?” We all chuckled and let

the funny Cracker Barrel fish sing its silly tune, which we tended to

have for his last Christmas, too. (“Take me to the river…”)

 

9. Last but not least- –

“People Who Root for the Opposition.”

Those who have lived more than 20 years in a state,

who may have been avid fans of another state’s team,

note that sometimes you may have more fun, if you

decide to ‘switch alliances.’

I have a friend who lived in Michigan for all of three

years of her life. Karen will not wear any Ohio team

shirt days, she is always there with her blue and gold.

I totally understand people who were dislodged from

their homes or who grew up for years in a location but I

will say this, my parents grew up as Cincinnati Fans.

They both attended U. of C. liked Cincy Bengals and

Cincy. Reds, too.

They moved to Cleveland, immediately purchasing

all the Cleveland gear needed to support their new

home town. I am not sure whether anyone will find

this amusing, but I think that being in Ohio Wesleyan’s

back yard, I bought an OWU shirt, black and red. I

still wear my BGSU t-shirt and zip-up orange jacket. Just

while visiting Bowling Green or up in Cleveland.

While walking around Delaware, Ohio, I enjoy supporting

the university and being a ‘townie!’

I just have to wonder, when everyone at work is wearing

scarlet and gray, why not indulge in a purchase of an OSU

t-shirt? Why not wear the blue and maize at home, in front

of your television? But I don’t think this is a big pet peeve,

after all, we have lots of fun talking about Cleveland,

since you lived there, too. WE enjoy talking about the good

old Terminal Tower, Ghoulardi, The Ghoul, Big Chuck and

Houlihan… Why not get a Cleveland Browns’ shirt or a

Cleveland Indians’ t-shirt?

“Commit to your Home Town or Home State.”

Now, that I have taken too much of your time up in my list

of ‘pet peeves,’

What’s one of your ‘beefs?”

Who gets your ‘goat?’

Who gives you ‘grief?’

Come on now…

“Let’s Dish!”