Tabatha Deans

Bringing Integrity to the Written Word

Convenience my A**

I begrudgingly admit that technology has made a few things in my life easier. Specifically, I no longer have to pick up the phone, dial the number to my bank, then enter my twelve digit account number to get my balance. I simply pull it up online.

And over the past two days I have learned about this thing called a “convenience” fee, which implies our lives will be easier because of it. Or so I thought.

So years ago, if I wanted to attend a concert I was forced to leave my home and go to the local Smithtix, which was the service center at Smith’s grocery store, which here in Denver is King Soopers. If the ticket cost $30, I gave them $30. I took the tickets home and put them someplace safe until the night of the concert.

If it was a band I really liked, and wanted great seats, I could suffer the inconvenience of lining up at the record store at midnight the day the tickets went on sale. It was brutal standing in line with other fans, usually the band’s music blasting from a number of boom boxes. Eating and dancing and chatting about how exciting the concert would be. Oh, the horrible experience and inconvenience.

Then there was the worst possible inconvenience. I would be sitting home with a full weekend of boredom planned. Nothing to do and no money to spend. When horror of horrors, a friend would call. “My wife/husband/kid is sick and I can’t go to this concert. Do you want the tickets?” It was so inconvenient to drive over to their house and pick up the tickets.

Those days are gone now though, thanks to the concept that computers are the easiest way to do things. Here I must apologize for the length and detail of this post, but I want to make sure  every single establishment that has made my life “convenient” over the last two days gets their due recognition. So here we go.

Robert and I decided to go to the Luke Bryan concert at Dicks Sporting Goods Park. We’re not really Luke Bryan fans, but we are Little Big Town fans and they are his guests. So I go to the Dicks Sporting Goods Park website. Click on tickets. Purchase. So far pretty convenient. I am redirected to a web page for Altitude Tickets, and see that each ticket, which costs $39.50, will be assessed an $11.20 “convenience fee.” Oh hell no. I search the website for box office information, hoping I might just go down and pick some up after work. This is verbatim what I found.

“Tickets may be purchased for all events at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park through Altitude Tickets. Tickets can be purchased in person at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Box Office, by calling Altitude Tickets at 1.866.461.6556, or by visiting AltitudeTickets.com.”

Tickets can NOT actually be purchased in person. I could however buy the tickets online, and pick them up in person at the will call booth, for a small fee of $25. I carried on through the website, resigned to paying the $11.20 fee.

Turns out I had exactly three minutes to complete this transaction before the computer signed me out. This process involved answering two questions to prove I wasn’t a robot. Then entering all my personal information, then all of the credit card information and three more personal security questions. I failed miserably. Twice. Even with Robert sitting next to me and prompting me as we went, there was no possible way we could get it done in three minutes.

We realized that in order to get our tickets, Altitude was forcing us to a website called Flash Seats. So, being the relatively smart people we are, we venture into the Flash Seats website and created an account there. Then went back to Altitude and started the process all over again. Finally success!

The emails started pouring in that we now had an account with Altitude, and Flash Seats, and we had purchased tickets. And both sites had all of our personal and credit card information. None of the emails gave us an option to print our tickets. Finally we found in small writing that we now had to download the Flash Seats app on Robert’s phone in order to have access to our tickets. We followed the link they sent us, and could see our account and that we had purchased the tickets, but no bar code or option to print tickets.

Exhausted and frustrated, we went to bed. I wrote down three service numbers, a physical address and several confirmation numbers, and assured Robert I would return at the end of the day with tickets in hand.

I will spare you the gory details of my multiple calls to service centers. The end result was this: we either download the app and hope our phone has service at the venue, or bring the credit card we bought them with to be swiped, yet again, at the venue, or pay the $25 and pick them up at Will Call. There was absolutely, positively no way to print tickets. Simply couldn’t be done they said.

I get home and deliver the news to Robert, who is holding two pages of printed material explaining how and where to park, how to get there, and how if we use our new accounts we get $5 off on parking. But nowhere could they have printed a freakin’ little barcode for us to get in. And there was no sign of the app we thought we downloaded.

We clearly needed vodka.  Several drinks later and unsure if we had downloaded the app, I did find a details screen about the Flash Seats service we had been forced to sign up for. There were pages and pages of how to bid on tickets, buy tickets, trade tickets, transfer tickets, search for tickets, and confirmation that no tickets were refundable, however we could certainly give the tickets to someone else, after, of course, they sign up for the service, download the app and for a fee. Finally, ten pages down,  I found how to use our tickets at the venue.

So after more than two hours of work online and on the phone, this is what the convenience fee has gotten us: We arrive at the venue, look for the line that says Flash Seats. Show our phone, credit card and ID to whoever. After they have verified that we are indeed the people who purchased the tickets, they will reach down to their little portable machine and guess what?

They will spit out two ticket stubs for us.

Which we will then take to an usher and be shown to our seats.

Convenience my ASS!

 

 

 

 

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September 9, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bus Family II

Bus Family II

The O bus is always full of characters. It travels the length of Broadway, which is a major North/South road that runs from downtown to Highlands Ranch, and is full of Mom and Pop stores, bars, restaurants, antique stores and marijuana dispensaries.

I was on the last leg of my journey home, and watched as the regulars boarded the O at the Englewood station. First came the young man I call the Thug. He’s about 25 and wears baggy shorts, a funky ball cap askew on his head and walks the gangsta walk. Actually he has a legitimate reason for the walk, since he wears a knee brace that actually hinders his stride.

Next came a middle-aged man who walks with a cane. I call him Grimace, because he always has a look of pain on his face. I can’t tell if he’s genuinely in pain or just has a scowl about him. They both took a seat at the front of the bus.

Then Construction Guy got on the bus. He’s tall and about my age, and always has his orange construction vest on, shorts and dirty work boots that come just high enough up his ankles to allow room for his electronic monitoring anklet. He never smiles or acknowledges anyone when he gets on, and heads directly to the back of the bus.

We all settled into our usual seats, and politely ignored each other. A few stops down the road a young man got on, early twenties I’d say, and very, very buff. The kind of buff that not only shows muscles, but muscles on top of those muscles. He was carrying a case of water and as the bus began to move he grabbed onto the bar by the front seats, dropping his water and bumping into Grimace. He didn’t apologize, and as the bus went down the road he opted to keep standing right in front of Grimace, periodically bumping his legs. Grimace finally asked him to take a seat, and the young man bent down and got right in his face and placed one finger in front of his lips and made the “Shhhhhh…” motion to Grimace.

The thug sat up a little straighter and Grimace’s eyes squinted. I could feel the level of testosterone quickly rising. Grimace stared at Buff Guy, and the driver encouraged him to sit down. Without breaking eye contact, he took the seat across from Grimace, and again made the “shhhh..” motion. I was already sitting two rows back from the two, but at this point two other women sitting in the front got up and moved to the back, and a couple with a young child got off at the next stop. I checked both of them out to see if there was any sign of a gun, and was pretty sure they didn’t have one, so I rode it out.

The tension continued for another couple of stops, then Grimace pulled the cord signaling he needed the next stop. As soon as he pulled the cord, Buff Guy stood up as if he were also exiting the bus, and stood in front of the door waiting to get off. But when the bus stopped and Grimace got up to leave, Buff Guy just stood in front of the doorway, blocking his exit. Of course Grimace just pushed into him, trying to force him down the stairs of the bus. Buff Guy braced himself and didn’t budge. The Thug got up and threw his weight into Buff Guy as well, and a full on scuffle began. Buff Guy against the two handicapped men.

The bus driver stood up to help, and suddenly Construction Guy came running from the back of the bus to offer his assistance. He realized Buff Guy couldn’t be reached from there, so he came to the back door of the bus and got off, then went around to the front and pulled Buff Guy down the stairs and out of the bus. Of course Buff Guy tried to run back onto the bus, and as Grimace and the Thug made it off the bus, it looked as if they were going to go to blows.

But the bus driver and Construction Guy held them apart, and the driver pointed out that Buff Guy probably didn’t want to go to jail for assaulting two guys with handicaps. Buff Guy argued, but Construction Guy got in his face and reinforced the bus driver’s sentiment. “They’re handicapped for hell’s sake! He wears a cane and he has a leg brace!” That seemed to snap Buff Guy out of it a bit, and reluctantly he hung his head and got back onto the bus. The driver and Construction Guy made sure Grimace and the Thug were okay, then they got back on the bus. Construction Guy sat next to Buff Guy and made sure he minded his manners until he got off the bus a few stops down.

We all breathed a sigh of relief when he left, and the bus driver apologized to us ladies for having had to see such a spectacle. I don’t understand male ways, but it seemed to me that this group had created the best possible outcome for this situation.

So here’s the kicker. Buff Guy was wearing a T-shirt from some anti-violence youth campaign with a slogan printed on the back.

Hearts not Hands. Make good choices.”

Hmmm….

September 3, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Bus Family

One of the great benefits of riding the bus is the chance to read a book, daydream, listen to music or just generally get inside your head. The regional buses are pretty good for napping as well, which I usually do as I listen to music on the way to Longmont every Monday to see Jessica and Petra. The humming of the tires and the swaying of the bus can have a hypnotic effect, and it’s not uncommon to be so engrossed in relaxing that you miss your stop. It’s not a matter of if this will happen, but a matter of when.

There’s a physical reaction that occurs when a stop is missed, and it’s pretty easy to spot the symptoms before the rider actually speaks out, which they always do, usually in the form of some kind of curse words. It must be some kind of muscle memory, because our bodies sense that we have traveled too far, and sends a message to our brain. The first sign a rider has missed their stop is the look of confusion as they lift their head from their book or take their earphones out. They look around the bus, then they lean over to look through the windows at the surroundings passing by. They they look to the front of the bus at the bus number and the next stop that is displayed on a lighted screen. It ultimately ends with a desperate look to fellow passengers, and the question of “where are we?”

At that point, the bus comes alive with suggestions of back-up plans. Which bus to take at the next stop, whether to ride on and wait for a turnaround, or sometimes the bus driver just stops at an unauthorized spot to let the traveler off. I once had a driver on the 27 bus who knew we would be going through a detour, but none of us did. When she left the station and turned the wrong direction, all of us reacted the same way, and as she looked in her mirror at her bus full of panicked faces, she laughed and laughed.

Last week as we were nearing my stop on the L bus in Longmont, I noticed the driver was not in the left-hand turning lane, which took us the two blocks over to my stop. I figured he was taking a detour, as he had done earlier to get us through some construction. As we traveled through the light, all the passengers looked up and took notice. We looked at each other questioningly as the driver drove farther from our stop.  “Aren’t we supposed to turn here?” One asked. “I thought so, maybe we’re on a detour.” Offered another. We went another several blocks before the lady in front of me finally spoke out.

“Driver, weren’t we supposed to turn there?” Halfway through her sentence the driver let fly a cuss word. The look on his face was the same, well known look of passengers who had gotten so absorbed in their thoughts they forgot to get off the bus. He quickly pulled into the left turn lane and headed back toward our stop, apologizing all the way.

“On Hell. I’m so sorry. I totally spaced that turn.”

“No worries.” We told him. “It happens all the time. Thinking about something good?”

“Music.” He named a specific song that I was not familiar with. “I played it for my teenager the other night and he wasn’t impressed. I was trying to figure out if I played it wrong, or if I could do it better.” He apologized again as we neared our stop.

We all reassured the driver as we exited the bus that it was no big deal, it had happened to all of us, and jokingly told the remaining passengers to keep an eye on him to keep him on the right track.

Bus family, they always have your back.

 

 

 

 

 

August 27, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Responsibility

It was another exciting Grammy day with Petra, and the playland at McDonalds was hoppin’ with activity. Most of the older kids had gone back to school, so the place was full of grandparents and smaller children. My little charge was sporting a new dress, compliments of her Aunt Mihyun and Uncle Nathan. Unable to decide which pair of flip-flops best completed the ensemble, she was wearing two different flip-flops, and was adamant about placing them neatly in the shoe bin.There was another young girl with an equally puffy dress, and she and Petra took turns jumping off the step and watching their dresses fly up. I think they believed they were flying. A trio of older children showed up, and the girl, about seven or so, immediately took to Petra and the other young one, and as happens with little and big girls, they quickly formed the dynamic of the older girl helping the younger ones scale the slide, crawl over the fences, and generally being at their beck and call.

I relaxed and sipped my diet Coke and took the chance to do some people watching. The older girl had two brothers, pretty close in age, with the older boy being around eight or nine. I think they were involved in a child exchange, as the mom sat in the lobby and the father came in to have lunch with the kids. After eating, the man stood up and announced he had to get back to work, and the kids hugged him and he left the playland.

A few seconds later there was an incredibly loud wailing sound coming from the back of the playland. Myself, and several other Grammies, instinctively covered our ears as we realized someone had breached the security of the playland doors, and the increasingly loud sound was that of the emergency alarm, letting us know someone had tried to escape. The kids scattered like rats, each one running to their guardian with scared looks on their faces. Petra immediately took a seat next to me, and looked at me with eyes that said “I didn’t do it.”

None of the kids seemed afraid, but they all seemed to naturally know that someone had done something wrong, and it was important to them that it be known they hadn’t done it. They looked at each other wide-eyed and accusingly. I noticed the young boy I had seen with his father earlier stood nervously by the door. His cheeks were red with embarrassment, but he didn’t flee. His eyes darted around to all of us, probably looking for whoever was in charge. I expected him to split as soon as no one addressed him, but he nervously paced back and forth in front of the door. I finally made eye contact with him, and he seemed relieved to confess his sin. He was clearly afraid of whatever consequences came with opening a security door.

“I did that. That was me.” He said, on the verge of tears.

“Aw, well, it was bound to happen. No worries,” I tried to make him feel better.

“I was saying good bye to my dad,” He explained as the alarm continued to blare. He stood his ground even as he looked around, waiting for the authorities to come take him away for committing such a horrendous crime. Finally, the lobby guy who cleans the playland, an elderly gent, sauntered into the playland and slowly worked his way across the room to the door. He inserted a key, turned it and the alarm ended. It clearly wasn’t the first time someone had opened the forbidden door, and I don’t think he even cared who did it.

But that young boy did. He was adamant about owning up to his mistake, and equally adamant about taking any punishment that came with it. He stood directly in front of the  older man and confessed again.

“That was me. I did  that. I was trying to say good bye to my dad.” He waited silently for his punishment.

“Well, don’t touch the security doors.” And with that, the old man went back to work and the young man breathed a sigh of relief and a big grin spread over his face. He had owned his crime, confessed to his sin, and was let off with a warning. He had to feel pretty good about himself. He had done the right thing.

Our country’s leaders, celebrities and athletes could learn a thing or two about maturity and integrity from this young fellow. And he wasn’t even ten years old yet.

August 19, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Family Traditions

I don’t remember how old I was the first time my parents took me and my siblings camping at Spirit Lake. I do know I can’t remember ever not going to Spirit Lake in the summer when I was a kid. So I’m going to say it’s been about 40 years that I have been participating in this family tradition. For the past 20 years I have been taking my own daughter,Jessica, and the past two years have included the attendance of my granddaughter, Petra.

Spirit Lake is not for everyone, as the air is thin, there is no running water and cooking breakfast can be a morning-long event. Coffee is made over Coleman stoves or an open fire, dinner often involves a stick and some sort of processed meat, and the main source of entertainment is a trip to the lodge to see what everyone else is up to. There is no reason to rush at Spirit Lake, and the altitude has been blamed for killing brain cells, thus removing any thoughts of stress, angst or irritation of everyday life. Life is good there, and sometime in my life Spirit Lake became “my” place. All of my friends have made the trip with me to experience the magic, at least once, although apparently not everyone is as enchanted with the place as I am.

This year’s trip began with some mild drama, as Jess and I vehemently argued with the navigational app lady who sent us circling the I-70 on ramp rather than just getting us on our way. After a little cursing, wondering and a few blocks, we turned her off and relied on Jess’s atlas. We had a relaxing drive across Colorado, en route to pick up my childhood friend Kathy. Kathy is one of my trusted “Grand Council” members, and has had a great influence on Jessica’s life. I knew this trip would not only be entertaining, it would be epic.

This trip was a “girls only,” at least for the first four days. After which time Robert and Jess’s significant other would be joining us. After stopping in Vernal for food and provisions, we headed to Spirit Lake in separate cars. I had Petra in tow in hopes she would nap along the way, and Kathy and Jess tied up some loose ends in town. As soon as I turned off Highway 191 onto the road to Spirit Lake, I rolled down the windows and inhaled the fresh air.

The next few days were pretty much the ultimate Hen party, full of hours sitting around the fire, hiking through the woods, cooking, cleaning up and generally doing a whole lot of nothing. Petra made friends with the little girl whose parents were running and living at the lodge, and we made friends with just about anybody who passed our campfire. We took our annual boat ride, which involves me protesting loudly and adamantly about my fears and the lack of safety of boats. Jessica won, as usual, and I found myself with a death grip on Petra as the four of us rowed about the lake. Naturally Petra was not okay with me holding onto her life jacket, and insisted I “move away” so she could sit by her mom and be a big girl.

People from all over the world come to Spirit Lake, and most of them begin their conversations with “last time I was here.” One morning I was taking a short cut along the stream toward the lodge to get some water, and as I came around a corner I came within about ten yards of a giant male moose. Moose are a common sighting at Spirit Lake, and my family  has had several run-ins with them, but this was my first up-close encounter. I slowly backed away and headed up another trail, which took me directly through another camp. As I reached the edge of the camp I came upon two young boys, about eight or nine I would guess.

“Sorry,” I said. “But there’s a moose in my path so I have to go around.” The oldest of the two got a scared look on his face, his eyes got big and he looked toward where I had just come from.

“When I was here last year there were 50 mooses.” He said enthusiastically.

“Oh wow, that’s a lot,” I said.

“Yeah, and I wasn’t scared at all.” He said proudly. “But this year, I asked Siri about moose,” He paused and blew out a breath dramatically as he ran his fingers through his hair. “And Sheeeesh. Sheeeesh.” It was clear Siri had taught him about his previously unknown dangers of moose. He quickly went the other direction, back toward his camp and the safety of his father’s supervision.

The trip gave me plenty of time to ponder. Mostly about my life. My life now, my life when I was younger, and my life when I was young. There was a moment when Jessica and Petra were standing out on the dock looking into the lake, that it was clear to me each phase of my life, at least vicariously, was present at Spirit Lake this year. I remembered being there as a child, then as a young mother in charge of a child, and now as a grandmother in charge of a young mother who is in charge of a young child. The dynamic kind of blew my mind, and brought tears to my eyes. It’s long been said that “the minute we are born we begin dying,” and naturally as I grow older I can’t help but fear my ultimate future, which, like everyone else, ends with death.

But watching those two–my child and my grandchild–standing on the dock, I was overcome with a sense of peace, almost joy, as I realized that ultimately I will never be completely dead. I caught a glimpse into the future, and saw generations upon generations standing on that dock. Parents holding their children’s hands, and the little one saying “Mommy, tell me again about Grammy Deans…”

 

 

August 11, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Real Courage

Every time I take the 66 bus I can’t help but ponder the meaning of courage. Or, more specifically, my lack of courage.

The 66 serves a route that is heavily populated by blind people. (Or visually impaired for the PC Nazis.) Nearly every stop from where I board on Broadway to the Littleton downtown light rail station involves a blind person getting on the bus. They all seem to know each other, and which stops they get on, because they greet each other and take seats in the front as they discuss their plans for the day, politics, tell jokes or even trade friendly insults with each other. When we arrive at the station, they all pile off the bus, thrust their white canes in front of them, and march across the busy street to get to the light rail. I used to be frightened for them, now I am just in awe of them.

And I can’t help but wonder if I would have the courage to wander out into the world without being able to see my surroundings. I’m pretty sure I would not. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a strong person. I can get stuff done and I can handle a lot of situations, but I really don’t think I would prosper if I ever lost my vision.

Today I boarded the 66 bus an hour later than usual, and the blind people had already been delivered to their destinations. I sat alone on the bus, wondering about their daily lives and a little sad I’d missed them. Then we pulled up to a stop on Littleton Boulevard, and I saw the tip of a white cane come through the front door of the bus. The woman who stepped up was one I’d seen before. She was pretty and usually laughing. She carefully tapped her cane along the seats before settling in the front.

Today, there was something different about her. It struck fear in my heart, while at the same time bringing a tear to my eye at the thought of her courage. She had her usual heavy backpack on, but strapped on her stomach was a baby of about 8 or 9 months old. The baby was facing toward me, and was adorable. I noticed the woman took a little more time settling in, mindful of the precious package she was carrying. The baby had a lot of dark curly hair, and large brown eyes that seemed to take in everything around her. She was seeing everything her mother could only hear.

I immediately had mixed feelings. How safe was it to take a baby out into the world when you couldn’t see? What if they got lost? What if she stepped out in traffic? How could she possibly keep that baby safe? What if?… Well, obviously my prejudice was showing, and I reasoned with myself pretty quickly that like any other mother she was capable of taking care of her child. Perhaps she was even more aware of the goings on around them, due to a heightened sense of hearing and smell. Perhaps she was even a superior parent because she could sense dangers long before we ever would. She nuzzled her nose in her baby’s hair, and the baby smiled and cooed. Obviously they loved each other. I wondered if the mother knew she and her daughter didn’t share the same color of skin.

When we exited the bus at the station, I was worried about them crossing the street. I hung back and followed them off the bus. This time, instead of the woman sticking her cane out into the street and heading boldly into traffic, I followed her as she walked down the sidewalk to the crosswalk. She stopped, unaware that I was stalking her. Where I would look both ways for cars, she did the same, only with her ears. She tilted her head slightly toward the left, then toward the right, listening for the sound of cars. I sensed her hesitancy, and jumped at my chance to help.

“Are you crossing here?” I asked. She seemed relieved.

“Yes. Funny how the cars never seem to stop.”

“Yeah, but we’re good to go now,” I said and she followed the sound of my voice into the street. “Your baby is adorable. She’s made my day,” I said.

“Thank you,” She said as we hit the other side of the street. She was beaming like any proud mother, and I was suddenly just a little bit jealous of the adventure they would be having for the day while I reported to the office for mundane labor.

July 27, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Holy Hail!

It was another scorching day in Denver. Thankfully I spent the day inside the air-conditioned donation center, and reluctantly left the cool comfort to begin my journey home for the day. The temperatures had come down a little as the clouds rolled in, and I was enjoying the change as I stood on Monaco waiting for the 65 bus. Clad in shorts and a tank top, I began to worry a little as the clouds got darker and the bus officially became late. Summer storms can roll in quickly, and I cursed myself for having switched bags and not putting my rain jacket in the bag I was now carrying. As the first rain drop fell it became a race against time. If the bus showed up immediately, I would still have time to make it to the Hampden light rail station, where there was a tunnel and shelter from the rain. A young girl with big hair joined me under the tree as we waited for the bus, and just as the rain began to really fall we saw the bus pulling up to the light.

Less than a quarter mile down the road the rain turned to hail, and within a half mile the hail was the size of my thumb. The pounding on the top of the bus sounded like the ice balls would come right through, and outside the scene was a white out, but with hail so thick we couldn’t see. The hail grew bigger and bigger, and the bus driver began pulling over to pick people up who were not waiting at the bus stop, but were just trying to get out of the brutal hail. One woman was dressed only in a small sun dress, and when we stopped for her she was crying and nearly hysterical. We stopped to pick up two women, one older and one with special needs. They had several suitcases and a rolling cart. As soon as the driver opened the doors two male passengers jumped off the bus and rushed out into the storm to help the women with their luggage.

The sound was unlike anything I had ever heard before, and as a collective people we were all stunned and unsure of what to do as we pulled into the station. Other travelers boarded with looks of fear and dismay, and one gentleman was rubbing his shoulder where the hail had hit him. We all had a hard decision to make. Should we get off the bus? Or just stay on it and keep riding around until it stopped. Myself and another young man decided to make a run for it. We had a few yards of open space, then down two flights of stairs, and at the bottom was a tunnel where we could take refuge to wait for the train. He looked at me and I looked at him and together we ran off the bus.

And Holy Hail! The first few seconds were not that bad, but then I felt the chunks of ice hit my shoulders and the back of my legs. It was a searing hot pain where they hit, and some of them were jagged so I was sure they were tearing through my flesh. Halfway down the stairs I regretted my decision. As I hit the bottom of the stairs and the entryway to the tunnel, it was like a scene out of a horror show. Dozens of people were standing just inside the tunnel, ankle deep in water and hail. They encouraged us as we ran toward them, and the masses parted to let the newest refugees into the space of safety. Some of them had looks of sympathy for us on their faces, while others clearly thought we were fools. An older man offered me his handkerchief to dry off with, and as I wiped down my arms I noticed huge red welts where I had been hit. Others gathered around to tend to our wounds, or more accurately to see the damage.

We huddled in the tunnel as the carnage continued above us, the sound was so loud we couldn’t hear each other speak. Body language was all we had to communicate. I saw young men helping the elderly people, and business men huddling with the families and little children. Two people had taken up post at the top of the stairs, and hollered down to us below whenever a train came along. As soon as they announced the E line to Lincoln was pulling up, myself and dozens of others ran up the stairs to board the train. Once again safe and moving in the direction of home, we laughed and shared our horror stories with those on the train. Despite the welts and one small scrape on my leg, it was a great experience to see my fellow humans come together, especially after all the violence that has occurred in the world lately. There was no race, sex or age in that tunnel. There were only people. People being beaten and held hostage by hail.

Amazingly, as is common in Colorado, when I hopped off the train at the Arapahoe station to wait for Robert, the sun was shining and the only reminder of my harrowing ordeal was the sweet smell of wet earth and warm summer sun.

July 16, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Slip Slidin’ Away…

I saw a thriller movie many years ago about the past being erased. As it was erased, somehow people and the planet began to disappear. I don’t remember the entire plot or outcome of the movie, but I do remember it made me really think about what the past is. It was breathtaking to me to realize that the past is merely memories inside our own heads, supported only by photographs and written words. It was disconcerting to me at the time, but Jessica was still young and I lived in the constant chaos of surviving, without much free time to ponder. I buried the thoughts in my mind and carried on.

And now I find myself at an age where I probably have more past than future in my mind. Don’t get me wrong. I’m healthy and plan to live another forty years at least, but from what I understand about the mind there’s only so much room for data, so eventually memories and knowledge will be pushed out to make room for new. Are we able to determine what stays and what goes? How do we preserve our most precious memories?

On a daily basis I visit memories of Jessica throughout all stages of her life. I remember when they first laid her in my arms. I remember when she started walking and ran into the corner of the wall, giving herself a huge goose egg in the middle of her forehead. I remember when she was four and would only wear dresses, and I remember running through the mall minutes before closing time to shop for her prom dress. It seems like just last week I walked into her hospital room after she had given birth to her own daughter, Petra. As I looked into the face of my granddaughter for the first time, it was like looking at Jessica for the first time. A new lifetime of memories had begun. A lifetime that I know I will not be around to see to the end.

Now I enjoy a stable life with little chaos, but which allows me plenty of time to ponder. Which is more important, preserving my past or creating my future? Is there a way to do both? Is it a simple fact of aging and evolution that some things will be forgotten?

During my youth all of my struggles were physical, tangible things. Paying the bills, getting the car fixed, raising Jessica and dealing with whatever life threw my way. It seems my middle-age years are destined to be full of internal challenges, which in a way are much harder for me to handle. I’ve never been really comfortable dealing with myself, in my own mind, it’s easier to focus on others and their struggles. So I suppose the time has come. I can’t deny it any longer. I’m officially middle-aged. It’s time for me to start doing brain exercises and crossword puzzles.

Forever the optimist, I can think of a few positive things about entering the second stage of life. Thanks to Mi Amante I am now a card-carrying member of AARP, which gets me discounts at dozens of places. I’m also able to pull off wearing brightly colored pants. I can get away with being as contentious as I like, or eccentric as it’s called at my age. And the accessories possibilities are endless!  I will be able to wear macaroni necklaces made my Petra, and funky earrings and trinkets just for fun. And let’s not forget the gaudy holiday sweaters.

June 4, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

To Pee or Not to Pee

To pee or not to pee…That is the question that is dominating the internet, news programs and dinner conversation this week. I understand that some may have concerns, and I won’t judge or speak to their convictions, because I truly believe everyone is entitled to their own reality. Even if it includes being creepily concerned with other people’s body parts.

And, to be honest, I have had concerns about the bathroom situation in the United States for quite some time now. Peeing is something we all have to do.Most of us are lucky enough to have access to a bathroom, but I often wonder about the homeless man who gets a ticket for peeing in the corner of a parking lot. I have no answer for managing bodily waste from homeless people, but should it be illegal to perform the most basic of human functions?

As for discrimination, I think all women can agree that we have suffered from unfairly long lines for the ladies room. Especially at any kind of large event, when we start plotting before half time/intermission. Should we leave a few minutes early and try to beat the rush to the bathroom? Or should we wait until the break is almost over and hope the line has dwindled? There’s something disturbing about standing in a long line, doing the pee pee dance, waiting for the next stall to open up, all the while seeing that there is no line for the men’s room. I don’t think it makes any sense to have ANYONE doing the pee pee dance when there is an empty toilet anywhere within use. Why have we segregated ourselves this way? Why are there not just bathrooms. Bathrooms for peeing and pooping. No matter who you are, when a toilet opens up you should be allowed.

And then there’s the dilemma of the handicap stalls. Going into the handicap stall often brings judgement, even if there is not a handicapped person waiting. Should we leave that toilet empty, just in case? I do not. No disrespect for the physically impaired, but I think standing in line is part of life, impaired or not. So, given the chance, I will use whatever toilet is available, as soon as it is available, and the only situations I’ve ever encountered in a public bathroom is the errant toddler who breaks away and peeks underneath all the stall doors, or the newly endowed drunk woman who feels the need to flash her new breasts to every woman in the bathroom. I wouldn’t necessarily call either harassment.

I remember the bathroom on the hit show Ally McBeal was a unisex bathroom, and that seemed like a radical concept at the time. Now, I think it makes perfect sense. No his, hers, theirs or others. How about just “bathrooms.” Doing your business next to another person with just a thin wall separating you is pretty gross in general. Does it really matter if it’s a woman or a man doing the deed next to you? I think not. If everybody used the same bathroom it would cut down on the concerns of many. If mom, dad and child were all in the same bathroom, there would be little chance for abuse. If we were all in it together we could police ourselves, and cast out any pervert who may be lurking in the stall next door.

So, instead of using bathrooms to divide us, let’s use them to unite the poople, I mean people.

 

 

 

April 30, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Shame on Me

It is a common occurrence when venturing to downtown Denver to be repeatedly asked for money by panhandlers. When I lived downtown the first person who asked me usually ended up with the little change I had in my pocket. I used to write profiles of homeless people who were vendors for the Denver Voice newspaper, so I have come to not judge anyone, since many of their circumstances were tragic and unavoidable. There are of course always a few youngsters who are clearly on the streets because they can’t be bothered to get a job, or are living “free” like America promised them.

This day was no different. I was headed to Longmont to spend the day with Jess and Petra, and boarded the free mall shuttle to take me to Union Station, where I would catch the L bus. The shuttle has a row of seats that run along the back, allowing riders to look toward the front of the shuttle. I took a seat near the back, but along the side, and made myself comfortable. Shortly into the ride, an older man who was sitting in the back seat, looked directly at me and I prepared myself for my defensive response.

“Do you have anything to eat?” He asked quietly.

“I’m sorry, I don’t,” I responded automatically. He gave the tiniest nod and looked away.

The problem was I DID have something to eat. I had a whole lunch bag full of homemade pizza with chicken and artichoke toppings. I had an entire baggy full of fresh grapes, and I had a couple of cookies and a yogurt. I had plenty of food, and it certainly wasn’t the only food I would have access to that day.

I felt horrible. I watched as he lowered his head to his chest and appeared to fall asleep. He hadn’t asked me for cash. He had only asked me for the most basic of human needs–food. I tried to remember the last time I was hungry. It was a few weeks ago, and I was certain I would faint doing the most mundane tasks around the house if I went another moment without food. I wondered if sleeping abated the pains of an empty stomach, as I watched him and fought back tears. His clothes were mostly clean, as well as his gray hair and face. He didn’t appear to be homeless, perhaps he was just hungry.

Even after these thoughts, I am ashamed to admit that I still debated at all whether or not to give him some food. I thought about what I was willing to part with. The pizza was not that great, but was homemade and looked impressive. The grapes are natural fruit, so that seemed like the best idea. The yogurt and cookies I intended to share with Petra so I ruled them out.

I continued to watch him until we were two stops away from Union Station. Sad and ashamed, I moved into the seat next to him, and pulled the pizza out of my lunch bag. I touched his hand lightly and he lifted his head, opened his eyes and looked at me. They were the watery, cloudy eyes of an old man, like those of my grandfather. I fought back tears and tried not to think about what circumstances had brought this man to the point of asking for food from strangers.

“I have some homemade pizza,” I handed him the bag. “I’m not the best cook, but it’s fresh.”

He took the bag eagerly, and carefully opened the ziploc.

“Thank you, it looks really good.” He took a bite and looked at me with those watery eyes, and praised me as if I had just served him some filet mignon. I was a fine cook, he said, in between bites, which he truly savored–I like to think it was really delicious, and not just his extreme hunger that fueled his compliments.

We chatted as he ate a piece of pizza, then it was time to get off the shuttle. He thanked me again and disappeared into the crowd.

 

 

April 21, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments