The Lady with the Purple Streak in her Hair – True Story

Today I was going to write an entirely different blog post….about writing and love triangles…but I heard this true story today and felt I had to share it instead.


When she first walked into my office, I noticed she had silver hair….and a streak of it was dyed purple. Yes, purple. Not very common in most of the folks I’ve met over 50. This lady has a story to tell, I thought.

Her name often confused people. Lacy. It spoke of doilies, tea cups, frolicking in a field of daisies. People who knew her would often chuckle about the irony of her (of all people) owning such a name. She wasn’t dainty…and certainly never wore, never owned an article of clothing even touched with lace.

She was fire…ice…sharp…and when you weren’t ready for it that mouth of her’s would have you about crying your eyes out. Lacy would tell anyone exactly what she thought. There was no softening with her. If you asked her opinion (or didn’t ask), boy you’d get it and another thing coming.

Lacy was also known for something else. The way Micheal Phelps was created for swimming–a body literally made to slice through the water– she was made to make ivory keys sing. Music touches most of us and reaches to the deepest places in our hearts. But for Lacy, music–the piano, those black and white keys, were apart of her. Living without the piano was unimaginable. And gosh, was she a good pianist. Her fingers glided over those keys, and created music that would have you about crying your eyes out. (Lacy was good at making people come to tears one way or another…)

Rheumatoid Arthritis. 

The words just about knocked the wind out of her. But she was so young? Lacy studied the watery blue eyes of Doctor Paul, eyes hidden behind glasses so immense, so thick, she was sure he would be blind the moment he took them off. They held a look of pity which made a flash of anger shoot through her body. He reached out his hand and touched her shoulder, another gesture of pity. The shot of anger now become more of a steady stream pulsing through her body. She whipped her shoulder out of his clutches and stood up. “No, you’re wrong.”

“I’m so sorry, Lacy. Truly, I am from the bottom of my heart,” Dr. Paul said, his usually calm voice near cracking.

“I’m only 30 years old! You have made a mistake!” She could fill the anger flooding her cheeks, turning them red.

Dr. Paul looked down, shaking his head.

“You know what? I think I need to see another doctor, who ain’t as blind as a bat!” She grabbed her jacket while stomping towards the door. “You and those big, thick old glasses need to retire. But then you may need a job after how much you’ll be paying me when I sue you for giving me the wrong diagnosis!” Her anger fueled her out the door, past the shocked looks of nurses and patients who felt the floor tremble with how hard she slammed the door, and all the way through the parking lot of people who seemed to have made it their life’s mission to get in the way.

She sat in her car, her heart pounding. She turned on the ignition and gripped the steering wheel. “You’re gonna be fine, just fine. That old bag has no idea what he was talking about,” she told herself out loud. A twinge of guilt surfaced at the look on Dr. Paul’s face. He had been her doctor since she was little girl. She closed her eyes, forcing the vision out.

“You’ll be fine,” she whispered again, her eyes fixing to her hands as they gripped the steering wheel. She imagined the ivory keys of her baby grand, the cool feel of them beneath her fingers. “Just…fine.” She burst into tears.

Lacy, now 30 years later, said this was the moment where things got dark. For months and months she wallowed, despairing at the cruel dish life had given her to eat.

Then something happened. It was like a light shone into the blackness. She had a choice. “I was could crawl deeper into this black hole and die, or I was going to make the most of it.”

She chose to make the most of it. She said, “One thing I got from my father is determination. I couldn’t quit.”

Today, she dyes one streak of her hair purple for fun, she played the piano, and still played it beautifully (and still made people cry). In September she is moving to Africa for six months! She didn’t let the bad things in her life take charge of it. She also said her disease has made her more compassionate than she ever thought she could be, and in doing so perhaps saved many relationships she may have lost.

Charles Swindoll said, “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it…we are in charge of our attitudes.” 

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A few paragraphs from Book II!

A few paragraphs from my second book! This has a small glimpse of one of my favorite characters: Miss Sadie Bee.

Mercedes shook her head. If she thought about Kale Desmin one more time today she may as well start a fan club for him, complete with jackets and autograph signings. He was such a mystery and one she wouldn’t mind solving…at least in her wildest dreams.

She looked back at Sadie Bee’s dark, probing eyes, wondering if she should confess everything to the cook. It was after all, just the two of them in the kitchen, as it usually was every morning. It was a tradition, almost; Mercedes and Miss Bee would come down earlier than the rest of the staff, drink coffee and talk about whatever random subject was running through Miss Bee’s mind. This morning had Miss Bee sharing how she was certain mice were intelligent creatures. She said, “They got to be sorta smart if theys can manage to get cheese outta a mouse trap and not set the darn thing off.” She glared at the scrawny tabby cat lounging in the corner in a patch of sunlight. “You useless, you knows that?” Shaking her head she took a sip of her black coffee. “Sometimes I sees this one mouse, he be the leader I think, he just look at me…like he’s challenging me. It ain’t natural, that’s for sures.”

Mercedes hesitated. How she wanted to let out her secret. It was like steam trapped in a tea kettle. Sadie Bee could be trusted, but the problem was the entire house (other than Pearl and Mrs. Tyson, of course) hated Kale. Mercedes would have to bring him up in a roundabout way. “I was just…thinking…about Ka–Mr. Desmin,” she let the name hang in the air.

Miss Bee’s face scrunched, the same way it had when she found mouse droppings in the cupboard. “Why would you be thinking on him?”

“No particular reason…” Mercedes started. She drummed her fingers on the table. “But I wonder what his fiancé was like; I wonder if he loved her; I wonder why he left her.” She looked off again, reimagining the pain in Kale’s golden eyes as he spoke of the girl.

Miss Bee grunted. “Child, that man didn’t love her. No man that loves a girl would just leave her stand’n there to be publicly humiliated.”

“But–I wonder about the facts…” -Pg. 27 (Book II)

Hope Everyone is having a great weekend!

When life doesn’t do as we say…thoughts on waiting

Sometimes, dreams don’t come true when we want them to. Sometimes, waiting can be the most impossible feeling. Sometimes, we wonder if life will ever take us where we want to be. Sometimes, life takes us where we need to be.

I have had an interesting month…full of potentially life changing decisions. At the start of the month I have to admit, I looked at the lives of my friends around me from college and turned green with envy. Among all of our lives, I felt least successful and sort of trapped. When I was little and thought about being 26, I imagined myself traveling the world, married, having a successful career, and of course at least one book published. I was a big dreamer!  As we grow up, we realize that certain dreams can’t come true as fast as you hope and life doesn’t exactly “do as we say”.

So what do we do in the middle of waiting for our dreams to come true? A thought hit me last week. I had made the decision to turn down a job offer where I saw certain dreams of mine suddenly in reach. After my decision, of course I was like, “Crap! I totally threw my chance away!” And I really wondered if I had made the right decision. I thought to myself, Autumn, true, you may have been unhappy at work, but you would have had this…and that…you wouldn’t have been in this horrible phase of constant waiting.

stuck in traffic

We humans are impatient creatures. I mean…we LOATHE waiting for things. Take being stuck in traffic, for example. No one in their right mind says, “I LOVE traffic jams!” We all hate them! We left the house a happy and kind person and then suddenly turn into a roaring (green) beast, waving our arms, shouting, honking, about to mash things hulk. Most technology these days all has the same goal: to be faster.

I was hit with the thought, life will be full of waiting…no matter what we can invent…we will have to wait…it is just life. So what do we do, while we wait? Abraham Lincoln said, “Whatever you are…be a good one.” No matter what phase you are in life, be good one, strive to give your best. No matter what job you have, find what little ways you can excel and even learn. No matter if you are married, engaged, single, or dating be the best one…be the type of person who you would want. No matter if you are a national best seller or a writer which whom no one knows your name…don’t make any excuses, give it all you got. Waiting for things can actually be a gift. Maybe we aren’t given things now because now we aren’t ready for them as a person. Maybe if we got all of our dreams at the snap of our fingers we wouldn’t have the experience, the growth to succeed with them. Learn to take the wait and do all you can in that time so when your dreams come true, you’ll be ready. You’ll take those dreams and fly.

Work Dreams, gotta love ’em

Have you ever had a “work” related dream? You know the type of sleep where you feel like you are still…at work…all night long and when you wake up you are beat?

I have had these type of dreams many times. Sometimes it is just a dream where I am late to work, like 7 hours late. Other times I am surrounded by infinite piles of paper work that I have to get through before a certain time.

My favorite work dream I ever had, came of course, from the zoo I worked at. During my days at the zoo, I had always prided myself on being able to make PERFECT ice cream cones. I had it down to a science. My cones where huge and perfectly balanced. I could even get that little curl at the top of the ice cream. One day people literally were pouring into the restaurant chanting, “I scream you scream, we all scream for ice cream!” They weren’t really chanting that, but there were A LOT of people who ordered ice cream. I made HUNDREDS of cones that day. At the end of it all I was covered in sticky ice cream goo and I never ever wanted to see another waffle cone in my life. I ended up working a catering event, making my day a whopping 13 hours. When I got home, I desperately needed rest. I showered off and tucked myself into bed, thankful to be able to finally stop moving my aching legs and arms. I fell asleep within a few minutes. I would be refreshed and ready for another day of work in the morning.

However, my night was less than restful. For hours in the night I dreamed I was making ice cream cone after ice cream cone. Chocolate, Vanilla, Twist. Waffle cone. Cake cone. Cup. Would you like a cherry on top? At 3:00 AM I woke up, exhausted and my mouth parched. I walked to the kitchen to quench my thirst and returned to my bedroom (that I shared with my twin sister at the time) and got back into bed. I lay in the pillow trying to empty my mind of all things zoo and ice cream related. Suddenly a voice pierced the relatively silent night (other than the snoring coming from my parents’ room, which was on the other side of the house! My Mom always said my Dad’s snoring sounding like he was sawing down a forest).

It was just a few mumbles at first then out came words that sounded like a foreign language, perhaps from the Amazon jungles. I giggled. It was Andrea, fast asleep across the room in her bed. I always wanted and have tried to successfully have a conversation with someone while they were sleep talking, get them to reveal their secrets. So far I haven’t been successful. This particular night I was too exhausted. I had my own ice cream nightmares to worry about. The mumbling continued. Then, at last I could understand a few words.

“Ch-o-co-mmmmm. MMMMM.” “W-would you like chocolate, v-v-vanilla, or twistssss?” Andrea mumbled, her voice sounded into a groan.

I laughed. Chocolate, vanilla, or twist? Was Andrea being haunted by ice cream dreams too? She had been there at the zoo with me, had experienced the entire ice cream mob.

“Would you like a w-w-w-affle c-co-ne or c-cake coooone?” She continued after a few more moans and sighs.

I was laughing. Poor Andrea! I half expected her to sleep walk over to an imaginary ice cream machine and make an imaginary ice cream cone.

In the morning I asked her casually, “So, how’d you sleep?”

“Uugggg. I felt like I was at work…ALL NIGHT LONG!” She said, groaning.

I told her about how she slept talked and how I too dreamed of ice cream. We laughed together about how both of our nights were haunted by a monster, a Freddy Krueger, called Ice cream.

What has your last work dream been like? Do you sleep talk? What’s the weirdest thing you have said or heard a friend say? 

Have you ever laughed at someone else’s misfortune…that YOU caused??

And you tried not to laugh, you really tried, but it could not be helped. The laughter came out in suppressed waves of giggles and then finally erupted into flinging your head back into the air or hugging your stomach that hurt because you could not stop laughing. You kept trying to stop, but you were no longer in control. You felt like the terrible person you were.

This is one of those stories.

It was another summer day at the zoo. We had just experienced what we termed “A Rain-Forced Rush”. A Rain Forced Rush was the unexpected and sudden visit of thongs of people filling the restaurant do to rain. On a day that had been already so busy our food supply was nearly wiped out, we were unprepared for the sky to turn gray and thunder to rumble and drops of rain that sent a literal mob of people that were all “Hangry”.

People of all shapes and sizes squeezed into the restaurant, exceeding the max capacity by a crazy number. They filled practically every corner of the place, and it didn’t help half of the them were manning monstrous strollers that were practically the size of a smart car (you know those strollers with three wheels and enough seats for the entire family to be pushed around in). Kids were screaming, adults were screaming. It was madness.

By the time the people were done with us we had about two ice cream cones, a hotdog, and a squeezed beyond recognition bag of cotton candy left over.

Then! There is was! The sun! Breaking through the clouds the sun beamed into the restaurant signaling the rain storm was over and we were saved. The people left just as quickly as they came (so quickly I was afraid someone would be trampled!) and in their departure a disaster. Cups strewn across the tables and floors, red cherry slushy mixture and melted ice cream puddled the floor, napkins here there everywhere, tables and chairs upturned, mashed French fries and half eaten corndogs littered the area.

Our manager knew that the day was rapidly coming to an end and there were still nearly half of the staff that had not gotten a break. He sent them all on break and the rest of us unlucky ones who already had our break were on clean up crew.

I had the wonderful task of tending to the trash. There were about 10 trash cans, each of them filled and overflowing and foul. I put gloves on and moved from trash can to trash can, lugging the 30 lb. filled bags back to the backside of the restaurant where the dumpster was. trash

For my story to make sense I have to quickly explain the room where the dumpster was. It was like a mini “garage” attached to the end of the restaurant.  The dumpster was elevated about two feet above the small walkway, I’m not sure why this was done but I can tell you it made tossing trash into it quite the exercise, especially for those of us who are short. Opposite side of the dumpster were two chairs and a bucket for cigarette butts, this was our lovely “break area”. Not even a coffee corner! Haha! Most of the time I ate outside, I mean facing a trashcan while you are eating your lunch is hardly appetizing.

Once I had gathered all the trash bags in a nice pile I set to work on getting them into the dumpster. I greeted my friends Will and Mike who were on break and occupying the two chairs in the “break area” and joked about how I was going to have crazy arm muscles after all of this heavy lifting. I had an art to how I got the trash in the dumpster, I perched on the edge of the stairs that were the same height as the dumpster and tossed the trash bags in from there. It was an angled toss, but I had become an expert. Quickly I tossed in bag after bag, feeling disgusting by the revolting smell that seeped from the each bag. Mean while Will, the Zoo’s jokester was making joke after joke and laughing in his usual way.

Every now and then you will get a trash bag that I call a “juicer”. Juicer trash bags are the worst because like the name implies they are filled with “trash juice” (an unholy mixture of all liquids that are in the bag…diaper juice, oil, ketchup, soda, ice cream, slush, etc.). I picked up the bag, it was the last one! When I picked it up, I didn’t notice the bag was punctured and trash juice was spilling onto the ground. At the exact moment Will opened his mouth widely, roaring with laughter at some joke Mike cracked, I tossed the trash bag into the dumpster. All I saw was a reddish brown juice fly through the air. And splash! It made contact with it’s victim.  The juice flung across Will’s face…and into his wide open mouth.

It was like everything was in slow motion for a few seconds. Me and Mike stared at Will in shock…and then at each other. Did that just happen? Will’s eyes were huge and filled with the most awful look of horror. The red juice dripped down his face and his open mouth was frozen in position.

Mike said, “Dude…”

And I…began my apologizing. “Will! I am so sorry! Oh my gosh, I’m so so so so sorry. I can’t believe….bahahahahahahahahahahaha!” The laughter began to take hold of me. My voice began to shake and my body trembled because the laugher longed to escape. Finally I couldn’t hold it in any longer. Wild laughs exploded out of me. I felt awful but I couldn’t stop! I tried, but I just… was rolling.

trying not to laugh

Trying not to laugh

laughing

Not succeeding…

bursting into laughter

laughter has taken over

Will got up, groaning in horror and ran to the dish washing sink and using the commercial sprayer sprayed his mouth and entire face off.

Meanwhile, I watched, still laughing.

Will did forgive me

….eventually.

What kind of hugger are you?

What Kind of Hugger are you?

This past weekend I was caught up in thinking about hugs and huggers. It started off because I had one of those blue days where I was just sad and I felt like I was in desperate need of a hug, which then led me to think even more about the many hugs I’ve experienced and given along the way. And then I ended up coming up with the following categorization of huggers.  Where do you fall in the list?

Sider slider – We have all experienced or even delivered this kind of hug. Sider sliders are slick. You reach out to hug them and somehow you end up getting a squeeze around the shoulders, from a side angle. The side sliders keep it safe. They don’t want to be rude, but they also don’t feel comfortable with full blown hugs.

awkward side hug

The Pros- The Pros are confident huggers. They know just how much to squeeze and exactly how long to hug. They usually keep it casual with a small tap on the back that seems like the “this hug is ending” signal. The Pros can read people like a book-they know who to hug and who not to hug.

 Hugaphobic – This category describes an individual who would spray raid on someone, anyone who attempted to hug them. If you have even attempted to hug an individual in this category, you probably remember that dreaded feeling that you were on the verge of death the moment you wrapped your arms around the person, but it was too late to pull back. You were committed. And once you survived the encounter, you will never make the mistake again.

no hugging

The Free Hugger- The individuals in this category of hugging probably own a “free hugs” t-shirt. No not really ;). These people walk around fearlessly giving hugs. In fact, don’t expect or even try to leave the presence of a free hugger without getting a hug. They will come find you. “I will find you….and I will hug you.”

photo credit: coolspoters.com

photo credit: coolspoters.com

Anaconda Hugger- Anaconda Huggers believe in squeezing love into people. Once you are in the grip of an anaconda hugger, take a deep breath- it may be the last breath you get to take for the next few minutes. Anaconda Huggers are usually people with huge hearts…and strong arms.

Oh Wait! You are just an Acquaintance Hugger- Huggers in this group aren’t much for hugging people they don’t know very well, but they will do it. If you have ever been on the other end of a hug delivered by a person in this category you probably remember reaching out for a firm hug (because you’ve watched them saying good byes to their friends and they give them firm, back slapping hugs)  and then felt them just slip away and the hug is over before it even began. You walk away literally feel like you’ve just been hugged by a mannequin that thought you smelled bad (and thinking I thought we were friends!).

Awkward hugger- Individuals in this group feel lost. They don’t know when to give a hug, when not to give a hug. They don’t know how long to “embrace” so it is either too long or too short. They don’t know whether to give a side hug or a full hug…and usually it ends up being a weird combination of the two. And the poor awkward huggers can’t recognize a hugaphobic when they see one….it can get ugly.

hug


 

Out of all of these categories of huggers I am a little bit of an awkward hugger and the Oh Wait! You are just an Acquaintance Hugger. Hugging friends and family is something that just comes naturally but,…I don’t know you… I don’t know you very well…I just don’t know what to do! To hug or not to hug?

We should all try to hug more. Hugs make us feel safe, they make us feel happy, they make us feel loved. If  you aren’t comfortable hugging everyone, that’s OK! Hug the people close to you…hug them more often. We all need hugs (even those of us who don’t really like getting them!)…we all need to know we are cared about. The Huffington Post has an interesting article on the health benefits of hugging called, “7 Reasons Why We Should Be Given More Hugs”. find it here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/27/health-benefits-of-huggin_n_5008616.html

When your alarm throws in the towel

My eye lids slowly blinked open. I felt like I just woke up after spending three months in a vegetative state.

How I look waking up..

How I look waking up..

Even though darkness filled the room, I started to hear the zoom of the first wave of the morning rush. Sigh. I would have to wake up soon. I wondered how much time I had, if I was lucky it was the earliest crowd heading for a long commute to DC. If that were so I still had 2 blissful hours to sleep. It certainly was dark enough and I was certainly tired enough.

I picked up my phone and squinted at the blinding light and read 7:25am. I closed my eyes, shook my head. I must still be dreaming. There was no way it was 7:25, if it were true I would have to leave for work in 5 minutes. I reopened my eyes, forcing them to look into the light.

7:26am.

I paused for a moment, staring at the time in horror. I had set the alarm for 6:30am. I had set the alarm and I had turned it up to the highest volume, I was 100% certain. Then the phone buzzed and went dark. It buzzed again, almost angrily sounding; a small box popped up on the screen announcing that google play was shutting down (definitely was sleeping,  not playing fruit ninja), next it buzzed with the message that messenger was forced to close (I didn’t even have it open), after it announced that the phone was pretty much throwing in the towel, quitting everything.

7:27am.

Then it hit me-Autumn, you have to leave for work in 3 minutes, why are you staring at your disloyal phone?

The adrenaline kicked in and I flew out of bed and ran to the kitchen to check the clock on the microwave, just in case.

Still 7:27….wait no, now it’s 7:28!

I let out a little scream and dashed to my room to throw on some clothes. I should note that, I’m that employee with the special parking lot for perfect attendance and always being on time. Haha. Not really! But I really strive for punctuality and always being at work on time or early. This could not be happening!

I looked at my reflection in the bathroom mirror and winced. My hair was wild, like I had been riding in a convertible for hours….in tornado alley. Already 7:31, I had no choice but to braid it. I thought that might look a little more put together than a pony tail. Braid done. Next was the makeup, I had fallen asleep still wearing my make up so now I had mascara crumbling on to my cheeks and eyeliner smeared under my eyes.jack sparrow I looked like Jack Sparrow, pretty much. I tried to scrub it off, but then I remembered that my eyeliner is water proof. The smudges became even thicker. And it was 7:34 now. I was frantic. I grabbed the eye makeup remover and wiped away the dark smudging the best I could and reapplied mascara over the crunchy stuff already on. Now my eyelashes looked like tarantula legs. At least it is near Halloween, maybe I could get away with it. 7:36. I needed to leave, and of course I couldn’t find my shoes! I saw my hot pink flip flops in the corner, but no I couldn’t wear those to work and definitely not on a freezing drizzly day. 7:37. The hot pink flip flops were on my feet and I was finally out the door.

When I got to work I ran into my office and closed the door, I had for the most part slipped in, unnoticed and I was on time! YES! Now all I had to worry about was avoiding people and at least I could be grateful that my boss had just left for vacation yesterday.

Several hours into the day, I had a spare moment so I slipped into the bathroom to help tidy my appearance. I looked in the mirror (with better lighting than my own) and it was bad. With my straggly braid and frightening eyelashes and drippy makeup I looked like I had just been on set in the Hunger Games. There was little I could do but once again utter a prayer of thanks that at least my boss was on vacation.hunger games

I was back in my office when I heard the deep voice rumbling through the hall ways. It can’t be. Oh! But it was. The voice grew louder and louder. He was headed my way. He popped into the door and I said a chipper, “I thought you were supposed to be in a car heading to the beach!” My insides were squirming, praying he would stay near the door and at least not catch a glimpse of the hot pink rubber flip flops. He greeted me saying he had forgot to tell me about a detail he had for a project I would be completing in his absence. He was bringing his dog to the kennel and decided to just drop by the office, since it was on the way. The dog was with him and everyone knows I love dogs so I had to go over and pet it or he would know something was up. I got up from my desk and my hot pink flip flops were exposed.

I waited for something, a comment about the unprofessional, blindingly neon pink shoes. But he didn’t say anything!What a relief! Perhaps he was lenient because he was headed to the beach himself? Well, I set the alarm on the radio clock…hopefully that won’t quit on me!

Have you ever woken up late and had to scramble to get to work? Would you rather be late or wear hot pink flip flops to work? (I am questioning my judgment on this…maybe I should’ve taken a few more minutes? But I HATE being late!)