Archive | August, 2011

Siblings With Rivalry

29 Aug

I am mean.

Ask my children. They will tell you how mean I am. My daughter thinks I’m mean for any of a number of reasons. I’m mean when I won’t let her crash the neighbor’s family fire pit gathering. I’m mean when I won’t let her eat cookies for breakfast. I’m mean when I won’t let her spend her entire allowance on those stupid little Japanese erasers.

My son doesn’t tell me I’m mean anymore. Now, he uses more profane words, but I get the drift.

Maybe my kids are hung up on one parenting move I made, but it was for their own good. I swear!

We used to go to the pool a lot, almost every day, in fact. In Naperville, the big community pool is called Centennial Beach because they’ve dumped half a desert worth of sand at the shallow end. I would insist my children shower and change before getting themselves, and their sand, in the car.

My children continually forgot to put their beach bags in the car. Prior to leaving the house, I would remind them, very nicely of course, to put their bags in the car. Eventually, reminding them very nicely got old. They could remember their darned bags, I thought. I told them, “You are old enough to remember your bags. From now on, Mommy will not remind you about your bags.”

The first day of “get your own darned bags,” they forgot their bags. Two wet sandy children stood next to my car and expected me to allow them to ride home in it. I said, “No.” I found an old towel and a blanket in the trunk of the car and allowed them to wrap those around themselves.

The second day of “get your own darned bags,” they forgot their bags. Two wet sandy children stood next to my car and expected me to allow them to ride home in it. I said, “No.” They wanted me to get them the old towel and blanket. I said, “The towel and blanket are no longer in the trunk. They are in the laundry now because you needed them yesterday. You will have to go home naked.” They thought I was kidding. They were wrong.

All the way home, my son glowered at me, his hands strategically cupped over his naked boy bits. My daughter was still in a car seat, so had a little more coverage. She pouted, nonetheless. And me? I was doing my damnedest to keep from laughing out loud, all the while thinking, “I am bad ass! I am the MOM!!!”

My kids are nowhere near as good at being mean as I am. Siblings are supposed to be mean to each other, of course, and my kids have their moments. There was the time my son told his sister “I’m gonna kick your ass.” She replied, “I gonna kick you in da cwotch.” We all thought that was funny, even her brother. Probably not the proper response, but she was really cute acting all ninja-y.

A friend of mine says that her brother would wait until she was asleep, come into her room, grab her by the ankles and drag her out of bed all the way down the hall. We didn’t have much brother/sister antagonism in my house, other than my sister and me calling our little brother nasty names. He’s taller than both of us by at least nine inches, so we just call him by his own name these days.

The sibling warfare when I was growing up was mostly between my sister and me. We shared a room, probably a recipe for disaster. She was a neat freak; I was normally messy for a child. Ok, I was more than normally messy. I was a pig. Drove my mom and my sister nuts. Maybe that’s why my sister thought it would be ok to stick me with a pin. Or why, when we were in high school and had lockers next to each other, she looked at my outfit for the day, said, “You’re wearing that?” slammed her locker shut and left. I got back at her. One day I tickled her until she wet her pants, despite her screams that she was going to wet her pants.

My parents eased the situation between my sister and me by fixing up a downstairs room as a bedroom for her. With her own bathroom right next door, I thought it was really cool and was, of course, jealous. She felt like she was being exiled to the basement.

My husband and his sister went at it when they were young. One day, she was playing ball in the yard when my husband and his friends happened upon her. They grabbed the ball and played keep away from her. This was hardly fair, as they were four years older than her and she was only six at the time. She evened the odds by grabbing a big knife from the kitchen and chasing her brother down the street yelling, “Give me back my ball!”

The most creatively mean siblings I know, though, are my sister’s kids. They regularly insult each other, in a mostly affectionate way, of course. Primarily, it is my oldest nephew and niece who pick on their younger brother, calling him everything from an idiot to a diaper.

He gives back as good as he gets for the most part and specific instances are generally forgotten. He won’t forget, though, that when he was a little boy, his brother and sister had him convinced that he was from Mars and he was made of pooh.

He’s a young man now and most decidedly not a Martian made of doody. In fact, he’s quite handsome. Think Taylor Lautner, only better looking. That’s revenge enough, though his sibs continue to call him silly, insulting names.

I read somewhere that our siblings are far more influential on how we turn out than even our parents are. I like to think that the teasing, name-calling, pin-poking and knife-chasing are part of learning how to get along in a world that isn’t always kind. It’s Mom’s and Dad’s job to make home a safe, loving refuge. It’s our sibs’ place to ensure we’re tough enough to handle life outside that womb.

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Lifus Interruptus

22 Aug

Theon trudged through the snow . . .

The door to my bedroom flew open. Theon stopped trudging through the snow. I closed the book on my finger, holding my place.

“Mom, what do we have to eat?” my son asked.

“The same things we had the last time you asked. Go look,” I answered.

“Meh,” he said, shutting the door.

Theon trudged through the snow . . .

“Mommy, can I watch TV in your room?” my daughter asked, opening the door then climbing into my bed.

Theon again stopped trudging. I closed the book on my finger.

“Where is your daddy,” I asked, it being 9:00 p.m., a half hour past her bedtime, and it being her daddy’s job to put her to bed.

“He’s downstairs, playing cards on his computer.”

“Husband,” I shouted. My daughter ran from the room, forgetting to close the door.

Theon trudged through the snow . . .

“I checked,” my son said, having returned from his foray in the kitchen, “we don’t have anything to eat.”

Theon stopped trudging through the snow again as I closed my eyes and willed my son away. I decided to ignore him. My son, not Theon. Theon started trudging again. My son didn’t leave.

“I’m bored,” he said.

“Theon trudged through the snow,” I said.

“Can we watch TV together?”

“Theon trudged through the snow,” I said, louder.

“We haven’t had mother-son bonding time in so long,” he pleaded.

“THEON TRUDGED THROUGH THE SNOW!” I shouted. He persisted. My son, not Theon. Theon was losing the battle for my attention.

“Pweeze, Mommy?” begged my bearded, 15-year-old son, puppy-dog eyes looking up at me, as he had flopped down on the bed beside me.

Theon stopped trudging as I set the book down to watch TV with my son.

While my son may have insisted that we hadn’t had mother-son bonding time “in so long,” the same scene plays out every night.

I no longer live a life. I live lifus interruptus.

When I lived alone, I never really thought about interruptions. Oh, the cat would have a hairball here and there and I’d occasionally get an unwelcome phone call. But the advent of the answering machine and, subsequently caller ID, freed me from unwanted distractions—except the hairballs, of course.

My husband was the first to bring interruptions to my attention, as in I would make them and he would resent them. I didn’t think of my comments on his monologues, I mean, contributions to discussion as interruptions, but lively responses to his thought-provoking speech. He thought of them as interruptions. I tried to stop inserting lively responses. Eventually, I was able to allow him to completely finish expressing a thought, holding my lively responses in abeyance. Unfortunately, by the time he had completed his thought, I had forgotten my lively response, leaving me responseless. This led him to believe that I was uninterested in his thought. In fact, at some point in his thought, I had a thought of my own that connected to his. So that I could remember my own thought, I stopped listening to his and began repeating my own in my head, over and over again. At that point, I figured out that I had figured out how to interrupt him without interrupting him.

My children will interrupt anything, at any time.

Making a dinner that my son has been grumbling for for hours? He’ll interrupt three or four times to ask when the dinner will be ready. I remind him that it will be ready much more quickly if he’ll stop interrupting me to ask when it will be ready.

Talking on the phone? My daughter will interrupt to provide further proof that she will grow up to become a molecular biologist as she points out a wound smaller than the point of a pin. My son has learned that phone calls are only to be interrupted if he is bleeding or on fire.

Locked doors don’t deter my children; they have discovered that knitting needles are effective in unlocking our locks. I discovered their discovery while taking a bath.

There are levels of interruption, as well. Recently, I realized everyone in the house was occupied. I snuck up to my office to write. I wrote 23 words. Only 23 words before my daughter interrupted me. I don’t even recall why, because immediately, my son interrupted her interruption to tell me he was bored or hungry. I don’t remember which.

I have grown so accustomed to being interrupted that I have developed the habit of leaving off the last word of sentences. I refuse to believe that this is a memory issue caused by my age. No, I have gotten used to not being able to finish a sentence, so I never finish sentences any more. It may be that I won’t even be able to speak at all soon. Last night, I opened my mouth to speak just as my son said, “What are we having for dinner?”

I have even begun interrupting myself. In writing this post, I have found it absolutely essential to take a bath, Google how to clean sticky dirt from a stair rail, attempt to clean a stair rail, start dinner, make a cup of tea, read some of a novel, and put away my daughter’s clean laundry. It normally takes me two hours to write a 1,000-word post. So far, I’m at 3 ½ hours. Not a good trend.

The worst of the interrupting avalanche is in my bedroom. It’s not what you think. I haven’t been able to sleep through the night since my kids started sleeping through the night. In addition to getting up to use the bathroom, I am now awakened by the need to either remove the covers or replace the covers. Every night, usually three or four times, I am treated to the sensation of my internal temperature regulation mechanism (ITRM) being nudged up a few notches. Covers off. Soon after, the ITRM gets nudged back . . .too far down. Covers on. Repeat. Of course, I still need to replace covers due to spousal cover removal. It’s covers off, covers on all night, every night.

On top of it all, I’ve developed insomnia. I look at this as a blessing though. At 2 a.m., I’m unlikely to be interrupted, no matter what I’m doing. Finally, Theon can trudge through the snow to wherever he was going.

© Copyright 2011 by Janice Lindegard, except Theon trudged through the snow Copyright George R. R. Martin

Two Steaks, Twenty Dollars and My Mind

15 Aug

When I moved to Naperville, I hated not knowing where I was. Oh, I knew where my house was in relation to the major highways, but I didn’t know the city the way I had known Oak Park. To be fair, Oak Park covers 4.7 square miles directly to the west of Chicago. Like Chicago, its streets are straight, running north/south or east/west. Naperville covers 35.5 square miles. There are a handful of straight streets, mostly in the older, downtown area. In the newer sections, and there are lots of newer sections, the streets have been designed to curve and wind gently through the rolling countryside, I suppose to make up for the fact that all of our houses look exactly alike. Actually, there isn’t much countryside left out here and any rolling is manmade.

Naperville seems to specialize in streets that take you right back where you started. In my own neighborhood, there are numerous “courts,” or cul de sacs. You enter and exit from the same point. That’s actually pretty straightforward. More confusing are the “circles,” which are streets that have two points of origin. My husband, who routinely blew off our street when we lived in Oak Park, would appreciate it if we lived on a circle. Then he’d have two chances to get driving home right.

For a while after we moved, knowing how to get Target was sufficient. Soon, though, I wanted more mastery over my geography. With no lake to serve as a point of reference, Naperville proved a geographical nightmare.  So, I would get lost. On purpose. What with the circles, cul de sacs, unincorporated areas and streets that change names mid-street, it’s pretty darned easy to get lost in Naperville. Obviously, I always found my way back home.

I haven’t always been lucky in loss. Frankly, I’m a world-champion loser. I am resisting the urge to write, “Just ask my kids,” but, clearly, I am losing that battle with myself. See? I really am a loser.

I have lost all kinds of things. Recently, I lost two steaks. They were big fat rib-eyes, grass-fed, that I snatched on sale at Whole Foods. In the pantheon of things that will stop your heart cold, rib-eyes are up there with an air embolism and Tori Spelling without makeup. I make myself believe that, if I buy them at Whole Foods, the good I do the Earth balances the evil I do to my body in a sort of personal health “cap and trade” program.

I got the steaks home and then they disappeared. For days, I rummaged through the refrigerator and the freezer hunting down the steaks. Eventually, I gave up, assuming I’d find the steaks the same way I found a pound of hamburger I lost when my son was a baby—by smell. But, the house didn’t start smelling like the stockyards on a summer afternoon so soon enough, I forgot the steaks.

I don’t just lose meat; I lose money. Now, I’m not talking about making bad investments. I don’t need to invest one cent to lose money. I lose money just by letting it out of my hands. The problem is that I don’t let the money out of my hands in a controlled, habitual manner. If I were to take money that is given to me and immediately place it in my wallet, I would not lose money. But I don’t, thinking that if I do, I will then spend the money. So, I put money all over the place. I put it in my back jeans pocket. I put it in my jacket pocket. I put it in the cupboard with the coffee cups. I put it on top of my clothes drawers in the closet. I put it in any of the three or four pockets inside my purse. I put it on counters, in drawers, in cups, in nooks and in crannies

I love winter, but not because the snow is pretty and covers up all the ugly gray drabness that is Chicago after autumn. I love winter because I find money in just about every pocket of every coat I own. The first few weeks of winter are like winning the lottery. Every day, I find anywhere from one to ten dollars waiting to make my day. So far, most of the money I’ve lost has come back in due time. Still, there is a twenty-dollar bill floating around the house somewhere.

I lose my keys, but everyone loses their keys. I lose whatever book I’m currently reading at least two times per day. I’ve found them all sorts of places, like in the gazebo, under the dining room table, in the car. Once, I found a paperback on a shelf under the sink in the bathroom.

Something I’ve never lost, though, is my mind. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder sometime after I had my son. I’ve been treated for depression. I’ve been treated for dysthymia. Never, in all the years I’ve been treated for my myriad of mental maladies, have I misplaced my mind. Frankly, there were times I wished I could. I was naturally curious then when I discovered iCarly, the kids’ show on Nickelodeon, would be airing an episode titled “iLost My Mind.”

I was warned that this episode would present a terrible picture of mental illness and institutions that treat it. Mental health support groups implored parents to boycott the show. Of course, my daughter wanted to watch it. So we did what we’ve always done when my kids wanted to watch something I was pretty sure was crap. We watched it together.

“iLost My Mind” is crap. I did not say, “I told you so.” We did talk about what was funny and what was not. Not funny: dirty walls with signs on them saying things like “Don’t eat the puzzle pieces” and “Friends don’t kill friends.” Funny: a male character dressed up as one of the other character’s moms. My daughter admitted that she understood that delusional people don’t act the way the characters in the show did but she thought one of them was funny anyway. And, we talked about how people with mental illnesses are a lot more like her mom than the characters in the show.

I found the steaks. They were delicious. I have no idea where the $20 went. Perhaps my son knows. And my mind? Firmly and permanently ensconced in my skull.

© Copyright 2011 by Janice Lindegard. All rights reserved.

Dead Squirrels and Anger Issues

8 Aug

I was making my daily “survey the acreage” walk around my home last Friday. First morning cup of tea in hand, I walk a circuit either from front door to back or vice versa. Along the way, I make note of things that need attention, but since I have nothing to make the note on, I usually don’t remember the thing that needed noting until I’ve noted it several times.

This particular morning, I hadn’t even left the house and I already knew something wasn’t right. I looked out my front door and saw a grey lump in the middle of the sidewalk. “Hm,” I hm’d, “someone left one of Pogo’s stuffed animals outside.”

Pogo, our dog, once brought me a present of a dead baby rabbit. Since then, he’s enjoyed a series of stuffed faux wildlife. He delights in grabbing the critter in his teeth, then whipping his head back and forth until the poor thing pops its stitching. More than once I’ve come into the family room to find a limp, drool-soaked faux hide lying in the midst of a mountain of fluffy white stuffing.

A closer inspection revealed there was nothing faux about the wildlife on the sidewalk. Doing my best “Ducky,” I deduced that the squirrel, due to the relatively intact state of the body and scant amount of blood, had literally dropped dead out of the parkway tree onto the sidewalk. Removal, I further deduced, was a job for Animal Control.

Animal Control informed me that wildlife removal was my responsibility. Period. Oh, they gave me the helpful suggestion of using doubled grocery bags, garden gloves and a shovel to secure the dead squirrel and then said I could just drop it in with my normal trash. I balked at this.

When my dog, which I own, dropped a dead bunny, which he killed, onto our deck, which is in our back yard, I put the dead bunny in my trash. It stank more than stink can stink by the time the trash was collected some days later. Surely, removing a wild squirrel that fell from a publicly maintained tree onto a publicly owned sidewalk is the responsibility of the public. Nope.

By this time, the cul de sac was filling with children playing in various vehicles. One was being pedaled as quickly as its toddler driver’s legs could pedal it straight toward the dead squirrel in the middle of the sidewalk. I warned the parents, saying I’d get to the squirrel as soon as my skin stopped crawling. Then, a miracle occurred. The dad offered to dispose of the squirrel. I looked at him as if he were insane. He said, “No, really, not a problem!” He was sincere; his eyes gleamed. I looked to his wife. She said, “Oh, he gets rid of dead animals all the time!” At this point, I figured it was not just convenient to have him remove the animal, but indeed it might be unwise to deprive him of the pleasure . . . of helping a neighbor.

Squirrel dispatched and it being my daughter’s birthday, I started cleaning up the house in preparation for family festivities. At some point, the phone rang. There was something else going on in my life at the time that required me to lower my defenses just a bit. Otherwise, I never would have done what I did. I answered the phone, even though the caller ID said, “Private Caller.”

Private Caller said he was looking for Alan Zachary. I asked Private Caller for his name. He said he was looking for Alan Zachary, that he had a package for him. I asked him for his name. He asked me, “Are you, like, Mr. Zachary’s wife or something?” I said that I was not like Mr. Zachary’s wife, that I was indeed Mr. Zachary’s wife. Finally, he told me he was John Lynch, that he was with the IRS and he had a package to deliver to my husband. So I said, “Well, deliver it.”

“Yes, m’am,” he said, “this is what I am trying to do.” John Lynch had a foreign accent, so it came out more like “thees ees what I am trying to doooo.”

“Fine,” I said, “deliver the package.”

“M’am,” he said, “Thees ees a cashier’s check. We are trying to deleever eet. You need the code.” Code? I thought. Since when does the IRS use codes? Fear, yes. Codes? Foreign accents? Refusal to identify self?

“Who are you?” I asked. At this point, I figured he knew that I knew that he was a scam artist, but this was a day that started with a dead squirrel, so I played through.

“M’am! I am telling you! I am John Leench. I am trying to deleever a package to your husband.”

“And I’m telling you to deliver the freaking package,” I said. I may have used a different “F” word.

“M’am,” John Lynch said, “you have anger eessues.”

I started to tell Mr. Lynch that he had some nerve calling me to scam me and then accusing me of having anger issues, but he kept interrupting me to tell me that I was behaving like a child and that I needed anger management classes. So I hung up.

The phone rang again. I was in another room. I let it go to voicemail. Then it rang again. Maybe it was the dead squirrel, maybe it was the other pressures in my life, I picked up the phone. It was John Lynch.

“Hello, m’am,” he said. “You must stop acting like a child. I am trying to deliver the package to Mr. Alan Zachary.”

I decided to have a little fun with Mr. Lynch. I did my “I am the most reasonable woman in the world” routine and asked him to repeat everything he had already told me. I promised to speak with my husband and get back to him. John Lynch breathed an audible sigh of relief and told me that he worked for the Treasury Department. He gave me a 202 area code number where I could reach him. “Oh,” I said, “I thought you were with the IRS.”

“Yes, M’am. The IRS and the Treasury.”

“And what did you say your title was?”

Silence. I heard John confer with someone.

“I am the manager, m’am.”

“And what department do you manage, Mr. Lynch?”

“The Treasury department.”

“The whole deparment?”

“Yes, m’am.”

“Where are you, Mr. Lynch?”

“At the Treasury department.”

“No, where is your office? Where are you right now?”

John put his hand over the receiver for a moment, then came back on the line.

“I am in Flareeda,” he said, with the emphasis on the “ree”.

“I’m afraid I’ve never heard of that. Where are you?” I asked.

“Flareeda, m’am. Flareeda. It’s in the US.”

“Oh, you mean Florida,” I said.

As I signed off with Mr. Lynch, he told me to be sure to get some anger management classes. I told him something he could do to himself, then phoned the Treasury Department Fraud hotline.

My day did not improve after hanging up with Mr. Lynch. My daughter accused me of treating her birthday as if it were any other day. I got a nosebleed as I stepped out of the shower. I sneezed my lunch all over my hand. I had an upsetting conversation with a friend. My computer froze. I realized I had neglected to invite my father to the family birthday dinner that evening.

Still, I made it to the end of the day. My daughter had a lovely dinner at her favorite Chinese restaurant with (most) of my family. I unwound with a cup of tea and a slice of bright blue birthday cake.

After everyone had gone, I checked voicemail.

“M’am,” John Lynch’s voice said, “you need anger management classes. You have anger eesues.”

Maybe I do, I thought. But I got through a day that included a dead squirrel, a delusional Nigerian scam artist, a nosebleed, a pouting Birthday Princess and a hand covered with lunch sneeze. In the end, I was surrounded by family and there was a smile on the Princess’ face. Not a bad end to a pretty bad day.

Zen In An Ear Of Corn

1 Aug

When I was a child, I believed that one was either Catholic and Republican or went to hell. When I grew up, I chose hell. Actually, I chose to become a Buddhist and a Democrat. Same difference.

Though I have yet to discover if I will indeed go to hell when I die, my choices led to at least one hellacious family dinner. I had come to visit my parents wearing a “Mondale-Ferraro” button on my coat lapel. During dinner, the discussion turned to politics. I swear I did not start it! My mother, bless her heart, was Southern. She taught me right. I do not bring up politics at the dinner table, but I sure went there when talk turned to taxes and prayer in schools. The conversation ended with Dad walking out and Mom telling me, “I just wish you prayed, honey.” My husband, on hearing this story, said that Mondale and Ferraro were a waste of a family feud.

Apparently, my Buddhism is less troublesome than my politics. Once I told Mom that Buddhists do, indeed, pray, she was cool.

I think my Buddhism goes down easier because Buddhism is easier on the non-practitioner than it is on the practitioner. What’s to worry about from a peaced-out, meditating, non-violent vegetarian? Getting to the peaced-out, meditating, non-violent vegetarian state is much harder.

Before I had children, the meditating and non-violence were easier. The vegetarianism? Not so much. My metabolism seems to require regular doses of high quality protein, otherwise known as “meat.” My children believe that eating meat makes me a bad Buddhist. But I read somewhere, and I am not making this up, that some good Buddhists eat meat. It’s one of those “angels dancing on the head of a pin” arguments. You ponder and obsess about whether or not eating meat makes you a bad Buddhist until your obsession with determining if you are a bad Buddhist actually makes you a bad Buddhist. Better to shut up and eat your meat.

While the vegetarianism was always a challenge, meditation and non-violence were a breeze. You can meditate for hours when you don’t have any distractions. In fact, there are Zen teachers who create distractions, like whacking their students on the back with a stick.

Now that I have children, I have no need for a Zen master to whack me on the back with a stick. If I’m busy folding laundry or cleaning the kitchen, my children can be completely occupied with other things, like video games and Selena Gomez movies, things that I would not be able to pull them away from if I stood in front of them naked screaming, “We’re going to Disney World!” But if I settle into a lotus position—really more of a pansy position now that I am over 50—they will be on me like ducks on a June bug.

No, I don’t need a Zen master anymore. My children are my Zen masters. I discovered this when my son was three. We had been out doing errands. He was being a great little errand runner. I had gotten everything done that was on the list. I was ready to get us both home for a snack and a nap. He was not. He was so not that he executed the Plank Maneuver when I tried to buckle him into his car seat. Those of you who’ve had children can skip the next paragraph; you know what the Plank Maneuver is.

Children learn, somewhere around the age of two, that they have the ability to solidify every muscle, tendon and ligament in their tiny bodies and that they can do this at will. In the Plank Maneuver, the child solidifies all of the above mentioned body parts all at once, turning his body into a human two-by-four.

It is hard enough buckling a three-year-old into a car seat. Buckling a plank is impossible. The belt is not long enough to accommodate the plank and the plank is not about to bend. Still, I struggled mightily with the plank. I wanted nothing more than to get home and I was going to get home if I had to bend that kid in half, breaking every bone in his stubborn little body to do it. Then, I realized I was thinking of breaking every bone in my child’s body . . . not literally, of course. So, I stopped fighting. I accepted that he wanted to climb around the back seat of the car. Because he also wanted nothing to do with me—I think he caught the “nice mommy has left the building” vibe—I decided to call my mother. I had a lovely conversation, uninterrupted. My son explored the car to his content, got in his seat and let me buckle him. We went home and had a nap.

My children aren’t the only Zen masters in my life now. Without much time for meditation, I’m working on turning running into a meditative practice. Unfortunately, cyclists on the trail I use have a tendency to zoom up behind me unannounced, scaring the peace right out of me. I curse them roundly in my head, thereby further ruining my Zen state. I decided to switch tactics. Instead of cursing the cursed cyclists, I would try blessing them, using the words, “May you live in safety and be happy.” At first, the blessing tended to come out as “May you live in safety and be happy, jerk.” This did not achieve the desired state of calm. I progressed to wishing them safety and happiness through gritted teeth, minus the epithet. I’m up to hoping they live in safety because then I’ll be safe. Room to grow.

I was at a family dinner recently and started a discussion of Zen masters. I related the plank incident and asked the others who their Zen masters were. My brother-in-law said, “This corn.” We laughed. I realize, now, that he was the Zen master at the table. Being present, fully present, in the moment is what Buddhism is all about. How much more present can you be than thoroughly enjoying an ear of summer sweet corn?

May you live in safety and be happy.

© 2011 by Janice Lindegard. All rights reserved.

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