If the Shoe Fits…

I feel guilty for not keeping up with my daily slices. I didn’t intend to slack, but life happens. Grades are coming due, Easter is hatching quickly (I’m hosting), and I’m catching the inevitable “thing that’s going around”, so, sadly, I slacked on slicing. Ah, life. Never a dull moment. In any case, laughter is important, and I’m wearing your laugh for the day.

As mentioned, I’m not feeling too well. It was worse last night. I even had a legitimate fever. So I battled it with some good ole Tylenol and sleep. I awoke to insensitive paws asking me for food. They did not care that I was not feeling well. Ferris and Whiskey were fed about twelve hours ago, and they wanted their breakfast. And so, my day began…

Breakfasts, lunches, clean clothes, brushed teeth, hair and makeup, sky blue schoolbag, and last, but certainly not least, shoes. I slip on a left. I slip on a right, fish out my keys, and head out the door.

As I’m driving I feel sleepy and a little “off”. Yellow sun sparks a headache, and I realize that I forgot to take some Tylenol before I left. Darn. I wanted to win this battle against the bug. Ah well. Maybe a coworker will have something.

I get to work, sign in, and proceed down the hall to the teacher’s lounge. In addition to the tiredness, the “off-ness”, and the aching head, a new feeling comes over me. It’s an odd sensation that one leg is longer than the other. I think to myself, “Wow, I must really be coming down with something.” Of course, I look down to check that both my legs are indeed the same length, and what I see makes both humor and humility wash over me.

I'm not sick, I'm just a ditz...

Two different shoes.  A black moccasin, and a black dress shoe.  The dress shoe has a slight heel.

Alas, I’m not sick… I’m just a ditz!

 

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Beep. Beep. Beep.

“Beep, beep, beep, beep…” shrieks my alarm clock. Why? (Beep!) Where did the time go? (Beep, beep!) Didn’t my head just hit the pillow a blink ago? (Beep, beep, beep!) Why must you beep so much?

Ugh, it’s time to hit the snooze button. What? It’s certainly not time to get up. I reach for my phone, and jab it’s flat face until the obnoxious screeching stops. I feel annoyed. How dare the alarm that I set disturb my slumber. The nerve. What an annoying way to wake up. Who invented this thing, anyways?

Nothing good can come from waking up to such an annoying sound.

Usually I don’t have to wake up to the irritating, repetitive beep of my alarm clock. My alarm clock is usually orange and furry. The time change must have goofed his internal clock too.

Normally I wake up to a paw smacking me in the face, and I do mean smacking. It’s also annoying, but the second I open my eyes, I’m rewarded with purrs, headbutts, and kisses. My non-furry alarm clock doesn’t do that. So, I can’t stay mad. It’s like he’s saying, “Wake up NOW, HUMAN!” My eyes open. “Oh… are you awake? That’s wonderful! Did you know I love you so, so much? Please feed me.” If I try to close my eyes again the face smacking naturally continues. Ferris knows what’s effective.

This morning, however, is the morning after the spring time change. Spring forward, and fall back. We lost an hour of sleep. It should be 4:45 a.m. This is too early. I look around for my furry alarm clock.

Ferris is asleep on the pillow above my head. He’s laying on his side, and I can hear him purring in his sleep. His paw is stretched out so that it’s touching where my head was laying. Whiskey is actually cuddled in Mike’s arms, sound asleep. It’s picture perfect. Who actually sleeps with a cat snuggled in between their arms? My boys.

I guess I was wrong. Something good can come from enduring an irritating, enthusiastic, repetitive beeping sound. I would’ve missed this moment. What a sweet wake up.

My 1st 29th Birthday

We celebrated my fiance’s 33rd birthday this past weekend. Before cutting the cake my future mother-in-law asks me, “How old will you be in May, Mar?”

“I’ll be 29.” I respond.

She stares at me for a moment. “Really, 29? Or…” I stare back, genuinely confused for a moment. She finally asks, “Is this your first 29th birthday?”

“Ha! Yes, this is my first 29th birthday” I grin, “but probably not my last.”

They still ate their sandwiches.

When I’m feeling down I keep a few funny moments in my brain on reserve. Funny moments from the past that make me crack a smile no matter how down I’m feeling. For example, there’s the time my brother told my niece, his daughter, to go take a poop, because she was passing gas at the dinner table. Yes. It might not be our family’s proudest, or classiest moment, but you have to admit… you didn’t see that coming, and, though it may be immature, fart jokes are funny. I bet, if you were feeling down, you cracked a smile just now. You’re welcome.

Here’s another funny moment, from my past, that I keep on reserve.

The year was 2004. I was seventeen, and working part-time, after school at a Subway. After 4 p.m. only two people were needed to finish the night, and close up shop at 9 p.m. My coworker, Zac, and I were closing this night.

A few hours go by, and the store is quiet. We catch up on all of our work; dishes, cleaning routines, preparation for tomorrow morning. We decide that, as customers do come in, we’ll just take turns making their sandwiches. So, we sat around, and talked about those things teenagers talk about; crushes, bands, and school.

A couple walks in, and it’s my turn, so I wash my hands, and get ready to take the customers’ order. I put my gloves on, say my “Hi, welcome to Subway…” piece, and begin to take the orders. Now, I had been at Subway for nearly a year now, and I thought I was an expert. I was even trained to cut bread the “old” way with the piece of bread coming off the top before they changed it to the lazy way, where you just slice the bread open from the side.

So, thinking I’m hot stuff in my Subway apron, I expertly grab the foot long wheat bread from the cabinet, and proceed to slice it the new, lazy way, apparently without even looking. Red blood stains the bread. Weird. The bread is bleeding? Wait a second… Ever notice how sometimes the pain doesn’t come until your brain realizes that you were actually hurt? Alas, while slicing through the bread, I accidentally sliced through my hand too! Ouch! There it is!

You know, when you risk your life everyday, playing with knives to make people sandwiches, accidents are bound to happen. When they do, you just do the best you can. The customers could see that I had cut myself, so I just apologized to them, went in back, and asked Zac to take their order while I tended to my wound. He did. He washes his hands, restarts their order, adds the meat and cheese, and proceeds to the veggie area. Everything is going great, until…

His nose twitches. Twitch. Twitch. He turns his head to wipe his itching nose on his sleeve, but to no avail. Twitch. He’s making that face that people make when they have to (twitch) sneeze, and it just won’t come, but it’s sooo close! Once again, when life happens, and you’re on the job, you just do the best you can. As I’m watching I see Zac put his hand up, turn away from the food, (in my direction) say, “Excuse me,” and, “ACHOO!” Ah, relief. He sneezes so dramatically that he’s actually bent over, and all is well… but, oh no, no it’s not.

With Zac facing me I can see that something is hanging down from his nose. Ew! His head lifts slightly, and his eyes meet mine. In the split second our eyes meet I can tell that he has absolutely no idea what to do.

So, he does what any sixteen year old boy would do, obviously. After taking a millisecond to sort through all of the options in his head he decides to literally yell, “SNOT” and runs to the back to get a tissue!

Before I can even say a word to him, he looks me straight in the eye and starts repeating, “Mariel, I’m not going back out there.”

“Zac, I’m still bleeding!” I retort.

“Mariel, I’m not going back out there.” he pleas.

“Zac, I’m bleeding!”

“Mariel, I’m not going back out there.” Over, and over again. This intellectual conversation lasted for at least a minute.

“Oh my God.” With a roll of my eyes I finally suck it up. After all, the show must go on.

I wash my hands, quickly put a band-aid on, follow up with three pairs of gloves, and make the customers new sandwiches, this time without a hitch.

Maybe it was one of those moments that you “had to be there” for, or maybe you laughed right alongside me as I shared this piece. Either way, I hope it made you smile, because retelling it makes me literally laugh out loud.

I know she’s awesome, but please don’t take her yet…

Every morning, on my way to work, I say a prayer. It’s not a proper prayer. My hands aren’t folded, and I’m not kneeling at a pew or my bedside. I’m driving, so my eyes are open. (I mean, I believe in guardian angles, but that’s just asking for trouble.) Still, it’s a prayer. I have a routine that I go through; my family: Mike, mom, dad, brother and his family (another Mike, Alison, Niki, Blake, Logan, Cole), sister and her family (Alaina, Lou, Peyton May), pets (I could name them, but this would turn into a book); my work life: students, coworkers; and practically family (friends): Iny, Greg, Sam, Target Jim, Julie, Matt, Becky, Dustin, Jo Ellen, Bob, Erin, Nathan, Tony, Stephanie, New Jim, Bridgette, Old Jim, Hillary, John, and Nicole. (Too many Jims.) I pray for happiness, health, and safety for all of these people. I pray for a positive day, and more. You get the idea.

Although it may seem like a lot, as I mentioned, it’s a routine. So, when I start my prayer, in my head during my drive, my brain sort of goes on autopilot, and it really only takes up a few minutes of my drive. In fact, my brain goes in such an autopilot mode, that I realized I barely think about it anymore. I just say it. I realized this today, when my normal programming was commercially interrupted by a brainwave reminding me of someone who needs to be added to my routine. Adding or subtracting someone is such a pain. It takes like a week of conscious thinking until I really get it down, and then I can go back on autopilot. Ugh, conscious thinking! …But, this person really needs to be added.

It’s sadly ironic that my Aunt Tina, of all people, should have such an illness. Aunt Tina, who is a vegetarian. The health nut. The gardener. Aunt Tina, the animal lover. The volunteer. The every-Sunday-church-goer. Aunt Tina, and all her five feet of fury, who still commands a noisy room at the sound of her booming voice. The Frankie Heck/Patricia Heaton look alike. Aunt Tina, with her loud, distinctive, happy laugh. Her shoe box brownies. Aunt Tina, who would be happy to show you that she can still do a one-handed cartwheel at any given moment, even in her fifty-something years of age. It’s no wonder God is considering “Jefferson-ing” her. I hate to sound cliche, but it just seems totally unfair.

So, at the very end, I add my Aunt Tina in the mix of my routine. I pray for her to make a quick recovery from her surgery, and for the spots on her liver to come back benign (they don’t). I pray for her infield to be strong, and for us in the outfield to be supportive. I pray for her to beat her cancer, and I really hope that she does.

Last year I lost my last grandparent. I lost my Papa M. I’m officially grandparent-less. It was really hard for me to say goodbye to my Papa. It was just before I bought my house. He would’ve loved to see it. I tried to show him, during one of his last days. We came for that… last visit. I showed him my pictures, told him what was in each one, described the ugly wallpaper in the best possible detail, and told him our remodeling plans. He was unconscious, but, I like to think that he heard me.

Although it was heartbreaking to lose my last Papa, it seems like a natural thing. He was ninety-something. He had a good, long life, and, sad as it may be, I feel like grandpas are supposed to be something that you say goodbye to. Losing a grandparent is the first experience with death a lot of people have. It’s sad, but it’s something that you’re supposed to go through.

The thing is, now that they’re gone, who’s next? Family hierarchy would dictate that parents, aunts, and uncles are next. It makes sense. Some of them are grandparents. Well, I’m just not ready for that stage in The Lion King’s circle of life.

Besides, Aunt Tina isn’t a grandparent. She still needs to see Ryan, her oldest, get a girlfriend. She still needs to help Dylan, her youngest, get to college. She still needs to go wedding dress shopping with me. She still needs to meet my Whiskey! She still needs to bring her shoe box brownies to all of the family occasions. She’s still got a lot to do.

So, every morning, on my way to work, I’ll put my request in with the Big Guy. I’ll just ask, humbly, and honestly, “I know she’s awesome, but please don’t take her yet. We’re just not ready for that stage.”

Green light!

“WE’RE RUNNIN’ WITH THE SHADOWS OF THE NIGHT,
SO BABY TAKE MY HAND IT’ll be all…”

Red light.  Act normal.  Play with the radio.  Ooo!

Waiting…

Green light!

“MAMA, OOOH, DIDN’T MEAN TO MAKE YOU CRY,
IF I’M NOT BACK AGAIN THIS TIME TOMORROW,
CARRY ON, CARRY ON,
AS IF NOTHING REALLY MATTERS..
TOO LATE…
MY TIme has come…”

Red light.  Look around.  Press every radio button.  Aw, this is a nice song…

Waiting… Green light!

“I woke up in tears,
With you by my side,
A breath of relief,
And I realized,
No, we’re not promised tomorrow,
SO I’M GONNA LOVE YOU,
LIKE I’M GONNA LOSE YOU,
I’M GONNa hold you…”

Alas, another red light.  Waiting. The proverbial old lady crosses the street.  People watching.  Play with the tuner dial… Oh yes!

Green light!

“I’M SAILING AWAY,
SET AN OPEN COURSE FOR THE VIRGIN SEA,
CAUSE I’VE, GOT TO BE FREE,
FREE TO FACE THE LIFE THAT’S AHEAD OF ME,
ON BOARD I’M THE CAPTAIN,
SO CLIMB ABOARD,
WE’LL SEARCH FOR TOMORROW,
ON EVERY SHORE,
AND I’LL TRY… OH LORD, I’LL TRY,
TO CArry on…” (Oh come on!)

Red light.

Apparently I need a beard…

I have two furry children.  Both are orange tabbies.  Both were strays, and, oddly enough, both have the same estimated birthday of August 28th… just 13 years apart.  Ferris is thirteen, and Whiskey is a whopping six months old.

I love my cats.  I might love them more than normal people love their cats, but I’m okay with that.  I’m one of those people.  A cat lover.  It could be worse.

Ferris, being thirteen, and I, being twenty-eight, have been through a lot together.  We’ve been through high school, prom, old boyfriends, college, jobs, my engagement, and a home purchase… just to name a few things.  He’s always been there for me when I come home.

So, it’s no surprise, that I’m spoiled by him greeting me at the door, everyday. It’s our thing.  I come home.  I open the door.  He meows at me.  I put my things down, and pick him up for a little “hello” cuddle.  No matter how simply good or bad my day was, Ferris will be there, and I will pick him up.

Whiskey, on the other hand, is a rambunctious, unpredictable, kitten.  So when I come home, sometimes he’s there, and sometimes he’s not, and that seems fitting… or so I thought.  When he’s there, I usually pick him up, after my routine with Ferris.  When he’s not, I chase him around the house until I catch him, pick him up, give him a quick “hello” cuddle, because I don’t want him thinking I have a favorite.  He might think that.  You don’t know. Again, I’m a cat lover.

Typically I get home after my fiance.  He’s a teacher too, but with a few more years than me under his belt.  So, he is versed in the sorcery that is getting out of work at a decent time, whereas I am still figuring out this magic.

Anyways, for this day, I beat him home.  After the day I had, I needed to be at home.  So, I was.  I opened the door, Ferris meowed at me, I put my things down, and picked him up.  I kissed his head, and pet him.  He purred, and nuzzled my shoulder with his head.  So sweet.  It’s totally unjustified that to my extended family he’s earned the nickname of “The Bad Meow”.  That’s a story for another day.

After a few minutes I put him down, and begin my search for the wild Whiskey so as not to play favorites, of course.  From the foyer I hear the sweet sound of something being knocked over in the next room, and I know instantly where my little furry baby is.  So, I walk into the family room, and find my kitten, who is on the table behind the loveseat, grabbing Hershey kisses from the candy dish with his mouth so that he can bat them around the room with his paw as evidenced by all of the other candy on the floor.  Why do I spend money on cat toys?  He runs and I eventually catch him, gracefully, there’s no need for details here.  I didn’t chase him around the table with Benny Hill playing in the background.  Then, I begin to force a quick “hello” cuddle upon him.  Finally, after my totally normal cat-greeting routine, I plop my big butt on the loveseat, and begin enjoying some of the undisturbed Hershey kisses in that same, reachable candy dish.

After a hilariously inappropriate episode of South Park, my fiance comes home.  I think I’m funny, so I yell, “Mom, I need more cheesy poofs!”… And I think I’m going to hear laughter, so when I don’t, the next natural thing for me to think is that something is horribly, horribly wrong.  There really is no in between.

I get up.  I walk to the foyer, and to my surprise there is Whiskey, in Mike’s arms, purring like crazy, and licking his beard.  Oh, and pausing every now and then to nuzzle Mike’s face with his own.

“Aw, how sweet!  Look at how much he loves you.”  I admire.

“Yeah,” Mike responds, “he always greets me like this.”

It was adorable.  It was also an outrage.  Apparently I need a beard.