Wednesday, December 24, 2014

My Favorite Kid Christmas

As I've noted before, mine was a very lean household. My dad, thinking obviously kids don't need to eat or have new clothing, never really managed to pay child support. Back then, the state wasn't really a partner in making parents pay, so my mom never took him to court to up the amount. As she said, "a larger chunk of zero is still zero." It made for a number of lean Christmases. My grandparents would help by getting me clothing and necessary items, a bit more than my cousins, so my mom could focus on the fun stuff.

One Christmas I wanted a particular doll, a doll called Velvet.  She had blond hair that would be long, but then you could turn a dial in her back, and her hair would get short. Depress a button where the belly button would be, and voila, long hair again. I was mad with desire for this doll. It was horrifically expensive in relation to my mom's budget. I don't know how or where she found it, but she found one in horrible shape. The hair was matted, she didn't have shoes or clothes. Garage sale? Maybe. I don't know.

What my mom did was put her in a dolly chair one of her friend's husbands had made, and she wrote a letter from Santa and attached it to Velvet. The letter said Velvet was almost left behind because the elves hadn't quite gotten her ready in the Christmas time crunch, but Santa heard her crying. When Santa went to her, Velvet lamented that she'd never have a little girl to play with, because next year was just too late. Santa hurriedly took Velvet with and gave her to me, because she knew I wouldn't mind, and I would take extra special care of her.

Of course, I did. Velvet stayed in my possession long after other dolls were given away, and I still have the letter somewhere. For my mom, a logical, reasoned, absolutely by the numbers kind of person, it was the best Christmas gift I ever got.

Monday, December 22, 2014

You Can Take the Gal out of Chicago. . .

But we all know you can't take the Chicago out of the gal. Ugh.

For the most part, I've enjoyed living in the south and the truly massive life changes that have gone along with it. I think we've adjusted pretty well. I've slowed down my speaking speed, counting to ten between sentences and after someone else speaks to respond. I've accepted I WILL run into someone I know at the Winn-Dixie and around town, which means no errand is as quick as I hope it will be. We've all tried all kinds of new foods (jambalaya and chicken stew get thumbs up, gumbo TOTALLY depends on the recipe). I've even started saying hello to complete and total strangers, just because they're walking a few feet away from me (that was a hard one for this suspicious former Chicagoan).

The one issue I'm having troubles with is the lack of desire to problem solve when things go wrong. I mean, that's right in my wheelhouse. I aim to be a problem solver. Here, I get a shrug of the shoulders and a "what ya gonna do" look. I almost had a full-on conniption fit at Autozone Saturday. Good thing this town is small, and there were only three witnesses, two of them employees.

Our car needed a new battery. We charged it to get it over to the place, Scott paid, and THEN they told him they didn't have anyone to install it because they couldn't leave one person alone in the (empty) store. Fair enough. He had to go to work, so he brought the car home (only a five minute drive), told me to run over there after 9am. I waited until after 10, arrived, was told they still didn't have a third person and got THE shrug. I asked if they knew when third person would arrive. The shrug. I said I really didn't feel comfortable going home, since I had to charge this to get it here, but I also couldn't wait all day. The shrug. Then the counter person made the mistake of telling me "Don't know what to tell ya, baby." I KNOW sometimes the "baby" is a southern thing, like "honey" or "sweetie" but I snapped. I actually had to walk outside and take deep breaths.

I then went back in, where I informed the staff they needed to get the manager on the phone by any means necessary (turns out HE was the one who was AWOL), that I would be getting a discount refunded to me, and that if workers could stand outside the store with the door open EIGHT FEET away from where my car was in the parking lot to SMOKE CIGARETTES (three in the time I was there), then they could dang well put my battery in while I held the door and kept watch over the lone employee. I insisted I would keep her safe from the four customers who had swarmed the place in the time I'd been there.

Luckily, there did not have to be a showdown, as an employee who was scheduled later happened to come in early, and he put in my battery. He actually started in fright when he looked at me, and he was about 6'6" and 350lbs. He actually had to swap out the battery for a more expensive one, because their computer was wrong. I assured him the manager was picking up the difference. The shrug AGAIN. I hate the shrug.

Adjusting, it's a work in progress.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Combat Naps

I am the keeper of the clock, the sounder of the alarm. I also sleep like I'm a Navy SEAL taking a combat nap, in little blocks, literally anywhere. Back in the day, I was bored waiting while a buddy was flirting with a guy at Neo in Chicago. I fell asleep on the carpeted risers and had to be shaken awake, music was blaring, and I was near sober at the time.

My alarm goes off, and I wake up everyone in turn, except my Uncle Bob, who has his routine.  He's pretty much on the other side of the house, but because there's only one shower, we have a lovely syncopated dance of people in and out of the bathroom. It's been working. Knowing we have a very regimented system, that often commences with my directive to people under the age of fourteen to "eat breakfast! brush teeth! Move! Move! MOVE!" he was concerned when I seemed to be still lounging in bed ten minutes after I should have been. He waited another five minutes, then came to wake me up. In error, I hadn't set my alarm, so I'm glad he did.


Uncle Bob had never awakened me, and he wasn't really aware of my sleeping habits. He gently shook my happily sleeping shoulder. I jumped up, again, like a Navy SEAL in full battle mode, out of bed in one leap, looking for the proverbial fire to put out. I scared him, and rightly so. He told me next time maybe he'll just call my phone.