culture · Cussing · Kids · Parenting · skating · Swearing

Please Weigh In

That’s my son about to unfold a Christ Air into the sunset. In his dreams.

Going to a skate park is number one on his list whenever he is asked what he would like to do. We are fortunate to have 3 pretty awesome ones around us. The one above, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, sadly is not one of them.

My two boys love their bikes, scooter, and rip-sticks, and are pretty fly on those on a skate park, no pun intended. I feel their excitement mounting after we park as they retrieve their wheels and put on their helmets.

But I’ve found that there’s a darkside to all this, again, no pun intended (the darkside is the bottom side of your skateboard). See, my guys are groms or grommets. In other words, they are ams. (Newbies for those looking at me cock-eyed). They don’t have very fancy moves yet. The goal is to become a sick ripper. This is risky business so you must avoid slams which could have deleterious outcomes such as a swellbow. Incidentally, my boys have broken about three bones apiece and not a one at a skate park. Another important goal is not to be a snake, i.e. a person that cuts other people off.

buck

 

The older kids at the park make me think of swaggering young bucks sprouting horns. They dominate the park with their glorious moves, and worse, with their attitudes and crude language. We learned pretty early in our skate park career that they love to hear themselves talk. It’s very strange to me to hear expletives coming from young mouths. They seem to be trying it on for size and coolness. They overuse  it and try to outdo each other.

It also bothers me at some deep level. A few years ago, I told my boys what the main cuss words in the culture were and what they meant. I also made it abundantly clear that they were not to use them. There was no need for them and there were many, many alternative words to express oneself.

I am curious to hear various adults’ approach to this problem (if you consider it a problem) in public. Please weigh in and share how you do or would handle handle kids swearing in public, particularly in the absence of their parents or responsible adults. I am particularly interested in more creative approaches than glaring at them or banging their heads together.

photos retrieved from:

1. goodfreephotos.com/united-states/california/los-angeles/skate-park-by-the-ocean-in-los-angeles-california/jpg.php on 10/16/2017

2. https://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-young-buck-deer-nub-horns-black-eyes-wet-nose-brown-white-fur-image58792408 on 10/17/2017

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/risky/

 

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Aging · Caregiving · culture · Death · Family · Humor · language · Money · Relationships · sad · Thanksgiving · Work

Burying the Cat II

JD darted from the church and into his car in record time. Drenched in sweat, he felt like he would pass out. After he’d got a grip on himself, he reached into his front pocket of his stiff new Bi-Mart jeans for the infamous phone.

He stilled his shaky hands and flipped the little gadget open, muttering at it the whole time. 6 missed calls in 2 minutes. It was his elderly client Lynn. He pushed call.

She answered immediately. “Halo JD.”

He could tell something was very wrong. “Are you okay? What’s the matter?”

“It’s not good.” She said. He could tell she’d been crying. “Can you come?”

“I’ll be right there.” He started his car. He raced the familiar 25 miles there and let himself into the house, scared stiff. “Lynn!” he called gently.

She sat on a chair facing away from him and he hurried to her. When he got to her, he stepped back in utter dismay. She was cradling a very dead cat!

She started bawling when she saw him. “He was very sick this morning when I woke up. By the time I showered and called the vet, he was dead.” She sobbed helplessly.

He was aghast. He was tempted to say, “Is this why you called me?” but she couldn’t hear anything over the sobs anyhow. She reached out an arm for a hug. He leaned in and tried very hard not to touch the cat. “It’s okay, Lynn. I’m so sorry.”

She held him for a long time. So long his back started to cramp. Then his stomach started growling again. And that cat, he was certain he could feel it squirming, or winking at him. Or something.

Two hours later, he helped her out to a spot where they had decided Gumby would be buried. He set a chair up by the old magnolia and  scraped a perimeter for the hole. Once she approved it he got to work digging  a hole, 2 feet by 2 feet. He gritted his teeth at having to dig with his weekend clothes on, but he couldn’t very well go back home  to change at this point. The rhythmic strike of the shovel followed by the thud of the moist dirt landing was punctuated by Lynn’s soft sobs. Strike, thud, sob. Strike, thud, sob, sniffle.

He pulled his bandana from his pocket, wiped the sweat off his brow, threw the shovel off to the side and jumped out of the three foot deep hole. Lynn had wrapped Gumby in one of her towels and JD slowly reached out to receive it. He was met with a visceral wail and she clutched tightly at her stiff but beloved pet.

JD stood by trying not to the think of the tamales at his house that his friends were probably devouring without him. He didn’t want to deny her this precious moment with Gumby but he had spent all day yesterday preparing them and his cousin cooked them while he was at church.

He cleared his throat and placed his hand on her shoulder after she wiped her nose on the sleeve of her pink polyester robe. “Honey,” she started, “I don’t that’s deep enough. I don’t want coyotes and racoons digging him up. Let’s make it a little deeper.”

He jumped back in and dug first one foot, then two feet deeper. Unfortunately this also meant he had to make it wider than two foot square. He put his foot down when he was chest deep and she mistook his tear for sympathy. “Gumby always loved you so very much,” she said wanly, rocking him back and forth.

_______________________________________________________________

“Donde estas?” yelled his cousin, Pablo trying to make himself heard over the loud music in the background.

“I’m coming from buying tulips and heading to Lynn’s house,” JD replied. “Hide me a bunch of tamales.”

“Tulips? What about the tamales? Estas loco? ” Pablo scratched his head, sure he’d heard wrong.

“Hide me 6 tamales. I’ll be home soon. I think,” and he hung up, exasperated. There was nothing like missing a tamale fiesta at your own house.

She’d decided she needed tulips on the grave so that she had something pretty to enjoy when she sat by the chair she’d had him cement under the magnolia tree. That had taken another hour and a half but she just had to have those tulips. They were Gumby’s favorites, she said. She had him lay them out, first one way then another before settling on  a third configuration. He buried them then set up some rockery that the tulips would adorn.

He pulled into his driveway at 6 p.m. to find folding chairs, dirty dishes, and beer bottles strewn across his front yard and no one in sight. He was the epitomy of mixed emotions as he stood there his eyes going from this mess to the wad of cash Lynn had stuck into his breast pocket “Please take this,” she said as she hugged him goodbye.  “You’re a better son to me than my own. He’d have told me and my cat to go to hell hours ago.”

JD counted it 5 times. Nine hundred and Forty dollars.

tulip2

https://wordpress.com/prompts/deny/

Christian · culture · Faith · Humor · language · Mishaps · We've All Done It

Burying the Cat I

JD is sitting on my porch at dusk and my husband and I are howling with laughter. I only catch half of what he is saying. I miss the second half of what he is saying because of his exaggerated Mexican accent, and the other half because he won’t pause for his audience to recover from laughing. Wait how many halves was that?

Anyway, he sets his Modelo down, which is his signature gesture for another good story; all before we even catch a breath and recover from the last one.

He’s been in the States for many years but loves nothing more than telling tales about growing up in Mexico or his experiences in the States. He’s an amazing landscapist with many clients who love him and have used his services for as long as he can remember.

About 5 years ago he was sitting in church trying to keep his stomach from growling. He folds over, bear-hugging his abdomen and trying to be inconspicuous. See, it’s a tenuous task finding the position that settles a sonorous gut. The louder it is, the longer it takes the priest to wrap things up. Just when you think you have it under control, you move a millimeter too far to the right which makes the entire intestinal tract trumpet like a dying elephant.

People beside you shift uncomfortably and clear their throats as though that’s any help. The teenagers in the pew behind him started snickering and couldn’t stop. The young mum in front of him turned around dramatically and, glared at him while smacking her gum. As though THAT was any help. “So sorry,” he mumbled, making the sign of the cross and trying to look anywhere but at her. Of course he was sitting in the middle of the pew and would have had to disrupt 30 people to get up. He closed his eyes tightly and prayed that the Living God would slay him. Or slay all these gringos around him. Something. Anything.

Presently the system settled down and he leaned back with tentative relief, grateful that no one was going to have to be slayed. He leaned back on the blue metal chair on my porch and took a swig of his Modelo. He set it back down on the concrete and lunged forward to continue his story.

“Then, I’m sitting there when the rosary starts and my phone begins to vibrate. Holy chit!” He muttered under his breath and instinctively grabbed his stomach then realized that was the wrong number. He went for his left front pocket, shooting his leg out like a viper, and swatted at his phone as if to kill it. The whole pew was vibrating and he noticed several people also going for their pockets. But his zipper was vibrating too so he knew he was the culprit. He finally smacked the right button and it stopped.

He stared forward, now cross-eyed, his heart racing. He could see a blurred priest gesturing, “In the name of the Padre, and the Madre,..” and the phone started to vibrate again. “Hijo de…” he started to mumble, his chest heaving and his hands now so shaky they couldn’t find his pocket.

Bubble Yum in front of him whirled around and said, “Oh my gosh!”

“So sorry.” He repeatedly automatically, beads of sweat and blood falling from his face as he stopped the phone. He grasped his rosary trying to keep up with everyone else. “Santa María, Madre de Dios, ruega por nosotros pecadores, ahora y en la hora de nuestra muerte.” Just before he said Amen, his stomach AND his phone went off at the same time and he didn’t know which one to go for first.

He would have launched his phone through the opened stained glass windows onto on-coming traffic if he could reach it for all his fumbling. Or at this irritating woman in front of him who was still glaring icily at him.

By the time he finishes this story he is writhing on the little blue chair that’s threatening to fold on him.  His right knee is on the floor and his left leg is jutted in front of him as he reenacts his desperate attempt to reach  his  phone. The husband and I are wiping tears from our eyes and trying to catch our breath as he reaches under the chair for his Modelo and drains its contents.

“That’s why I don’t go to church anymore, man.” He concludes as he pulls himself back onto the folding chair and grabs another beer.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/launch/

Brothers · culture · Family · Humor · language · Nature · Relationships · Teasing

I’m Not a Fan of Yellow

My friend Shawn is a lovable, flavorful character. A mouthful sometimes. A potentially annoying mouthful.

He’d traveled to Namibia to visit his in-laws whom he only got to see every few years. Several women were in the kitchen wrapping up dinner – there’s nothing quite like a kitchen full of African women. Kwaito music was bumping rhythmically in the background and they occasionally paused their stirring to join in a catchy refrain or sway their hips in choreographed harmony, then burst into laughter, omwikos flailing boiling stew in the air.

Shawn sat in a small living room with 7 other guys at his brother-in-law’s new house. The overstuffed, extra firm couch was almost completely covered with colorful handmade doilies that kept falling to the floor and having to be retrieved. They were arguing loudly about politics, talking over each other, and laughing. Any tentative statements made were promptly challenged and severely scrutinized.

Shawn, a rather verbose character, was the only American in the room, surrounded by locals. Shawn talks. A lot. He has few verbal filters and is bold beyond belief. Admittedly, he had been on good behavior, afraid of being the ugly American. The men kept asking his opinions and he was careful, as his wife had tutored him,  not to take center stage and pontificate, which is his preferred mode. Topics flitted from one to the next and he presently got distracted. If he wasn’t the center of attention, he got distracted.

He was looking around the stark room in the house whose construction was almost complete. He could still smell the cement and the single coat of pale yellow paint on the wall, painted at the last minute to impress the guests.  He thought long and hard about this set up and didn’t notice the entourage of women walking into the room bearing food. He proclaimed absently, studying the walls, “I’m not a fan of yellow.”

His words fell like a giant catfish jumping out of murky waters and flopping onto a muddy beach with a splat. Everybody gasped and swallowed hard in unison. Eyes grew to the size of small plates, extremely embarrassed, and in utter disbelief. Hearts sank and no one dared to look at Mike, the heretofore proud home owner.

The strained, stunned silence in the room was pierced by Joe slamming his bottle onto the glass table as he choked over spewing beer. He had  warm beer coming out his nose and eyes. He didn’t know if he should laugh or cry. He had argued for days with his brother Mike to not paint the room and just yesterday, Mike had spent what felt like hours at the local hardware store deliberating over what color of paint to buy. Never mind they only had 6 selections. Like a keDecember Boss, Mike had ridden his bike proudly toting 2 gallons of “Egg-yolk Yellow,” dodging muddy pot-holes, garbage, and mangy dogs on his 30 minute ride home.

Shawn’s wife Maureen narrowed her eyes and inhaled deeply and then her distressed, heavy chest sank in slow motion and just kept sinking. Her eyes told his that he had erred greatly and that he was a dead man sitting. If she wasn’t holding a tray of food she would have hurled her high heels at him and clocked him right on the bridge of his crooked nose. She shook her head slowly and narrowed those eyes further. Her lips began to furl tightly, controlled by an unseen drawstring, and to quiver with rage.

No one in that room will forget those moments till the day they die. There was no recovering from this one, even for my astute friend who can normally extricate himself from just about any situation with his oratory skills. It changed the mood of the entire rest of the vacation and the trajectory of Shawn’s life.

Fast forward 3 years and her family is bursting out of the vehicle after travelling across the world to visit Shawn and Maureen in the States. It was a glorious fall afternoon and the foliage was stunning to behold. Joe was the first guest to get out of the car. He yawned dramatically and inhaled the crisp air, then shivered in the cold breeze. “You guys said it wasn’t cold!  You mean it’ll get colder than this? Mxm!” He exclaimed. His brothers shuddered in agreement as they streamed out of the car and stretched their cramped legs. Along with the others, Joe hastily grabbed a random suitcase from the trunk, flicking a stray welcoming leaf from his shoulder. They all raced into the house, certain a blizzard would sweep through at any minute.

No sooner had they stampeded indoors and dropped the suitcases in a tall pile, than Mike blurted, “Etche muntu! I thought you are not a fan of yellow, man!”  He held his arms out defiantly circling the yellow room. Everyone else, rubbing their arms vigorously to warm themselves, burst into laughter.

“What are you talking about?” Shawn asked, cocking his head curiously.

“What is he talking about?”, choked Joe incredulously.

“What is he talking about?”, gawked Maureen.

That set the tone for the rest of this visit, and my poor friend Shawn spent a pouty fall feeling picked on; while Maureen juggled the fine line between letting him face the consequences of his often tactless speech and helping him preserve some semblance of dignity among his in-laws.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/leaf/

Aging · culture · Health · Humor · language · Relationships · Work

There’s a Dead Duck Out There

Robert was a rough-hewn character. He lived in a nursing home outside of Melbourne where I worked as a caregiver.  We heard him before we saw him. He walked with a cane which he leaned into heavily. “Old injury from the war,” he explained, when I asked about the limping hip. The cane tapped a beat on the tiles on the floor and the metal on the sole of his shoe kept rhythm. 

He wore the same shoes every day. “Worn ’em forty years, mate. That’s a good shoe right there,” he explained academically, tapping at the toe of his right one with his cane. “It’s been there for me through the good and the ill.” They were made of very old brown leather and he meticulously polished them every morning. Even the insides had a high sheen with a dark outline where his toes nested. His room had the distinct smell of the Kiwi shoe polish he used.

It was rough being an international uni student and not only having to work to fund my schooling but adjusting to culture shock as well. The job wasn’t much to speak of. A friend had recommended me for it and I’d decided to give it a go. I was grateful for it but it was certainly grunt work. The hardest part was thinking I spoke English but having to learn a whole new version here.

I tied Robert’s shoe laces, and chuckled as he told he about the ‘deadorse” and “wilted rabbit food” he was served for dinner last night. “Where’s the lamb around here? Or how about some roo for supper?” He complained. I liked this crusty man but would like him even better if he quit scratching his nuts  in front of me. He did it every time he put his shoes on, “Only thing is, these shoes make me itch my budgies.”

He loved to talk about his wife. “We raised chooks up north,” he said,  pointing to a grainy photo of  her in her bathers on his old dresser. “She was always full as a boot on the amber fluid.” She was a good distraction while I helped him get dressed, otherwise he’d tell me to nick off. He called me a stickybeak and a perve when I first started.

I shook my head as I left to attend to a buzzer going off in room 24. “I’ll never get over this place.”

Robert loved to walk outside after brekkie. I’d been there about 4 months when he came clicking by the nurse’s station one day. I was enjoying my job well enough and getting a good handle on this culture.  “How ya going Bob? Beautiful day out out there.” I said, replenishing towels from the laundry cart.

“There’s a dead duck in the parking lot,” he announced, adjusting his hat without looking at me. He kept walking.

“Oh dear.” I said, and went back to my towels, thinking it was a good thing the garbo would be here tomorrow.

All of a sudden, my cart was pushed by a nurse of larger build in a tight uniform, running faster than seemed possible for her size. I was thrown against the wall like a rag-doll. She was yelling orders as she ran outside and my fellow off-siders were running behind her in pandemonium, dodging wheelchairs and their occupants. “What was going on?” I asked after I caught my breath, frantically looking around and wondering if I should run or hide. 

Turns out a female resident had fallen in the parking lot and Bob had saved her hide with his announcement! So much for my cultural competence…

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/grainy/

Aging · culture · Daughters · Family · Fathers · Grandchildren · Grandparents · Joy · Teasing · Uncategorized

Daddy Blue

My friend Faith sent me an email with a sweet story about a man who returned home for a neighbors funeral. The neighbor had greatly influenced the young man’s life in the absence of his father. Towards the end of the story was the statement: “every night someone thinks of you before they go so sleep.”

That brought immediate tears to my eyes and made me think of my dad. I call him Daddy Blue.

It all started with him calling my son James “Soldier Blue” based on a costume he was wearing. So James turned around and called him “Guka Blue, boooya!” (Guka is Kikuyu for grandpa.)

“James!” I chided him sharply for his disrespect.

Guka grabbed James by the wrists, turned around and said to me, “Mummy Blue arrest Soldier Blue.”

I said to him, “Daddy Blue, you started it.” James had the last laugh.

_______________

That was 5 years ago. We call each other across the world every couple of weeks.  As soon as he answers the phone, I say, in a singsong tone, “Daddy Blue.” He chuckles and says, “Aaaaaw, Mummy Blue.”

We chat about events and his health. “Have you been to therapy Dad?” I ask, knowing the answer.

“Not yet, Mummy Blue. I will.” It’s his lame attempt to placate me. I call him a naughty amputee and he says it’s no wonder Soldier Blue is so naughty. “His mother has no respect.”

He asks after my family and tells me how he thinks of me every day. How proud of and happy he is for me. We have a twelve hour time zone difference so when I’m getting up, he’s heading to bed and vice versa. He says, “Well, I’m getting off the day bus and getting on the night bus now. You enjoy the day bus. I’ll sleep happy because you called.”

_SJD1041 We sign off. “I love you Daddy Blue, over.”

“I love you Mummy Blue, over and out.”

Happy Father’s Day dad.

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/the-little-things/

culture · Family · journaling · Relationships · Spiritual

Baring the Soul

I just completed journaling my life for the last 7 years in one volume!

I visualize myself at 94, rocking rhythmically on a squeaky pine chair. The sun is warm against my wrinkles and my weak eyes are closed as I listen to a granddaughter reading me a story. The story of my life. I love to tell stories and as I review it, I’m learning that the story of my life is a darned good one, and well worth recording. Here it is on page after page: details documented, interactions interpreted, dreams divulged, frustrations unfurled. My very soul is bared.

7 years is a long time. It’s long enough to forget specifics, which makes it extra delightful to read and recall events that I was once positive I would never forget. I began journaling as a teenager. I started with a day planner and​ entered what was going on in my life from day to day. Thirty years later and thousands of miles away, those puerile entries are priceless memoires. If my house was to catch on fire, I’d run for those tattered books before putting clothes on.

After mum passed away, I was cleaning out one of her bedside drawers when I stumbled upon a diary she had written in. She didn’t express feelings but simply jotted down events. Some where are mundane as how many piglets were born or that the vet came and immunized the cows. Others were simple yet ran deep as a well. “Michael was hit by a car today and went home to be with the Lord.” I never once saw her sit to write in it but I am so grateful she did. There’s something spell-binding about seeing words in her  handwriting.

I have a sister that lives across the world and we mail a journal back and forth. She’ll write entries of her life for a few months then mail it to me. I’ll do the same and mail it back. Needless to say, I wait for it with bated breath. Sometimes it’s years before I get it.

Looking back over the years, I am struck by remarkable obstacles I have overcome. I marvel at some of the same battles I am still fighting as I grow as a person. In some ways I am a completely different person and yet in others, I haven’t changed a bit.

I write details about people’s lives that might be embarrassing to them so I wouldn’t share my journal details with anyone while the concerned parties were still alive. Within reason, I feel a protective obligation to those people, especially since they can’t very well defend themselves.

Taking time to contemplate and document my life propels me to live the remainder of it at full throttle. If you have considered journaling, I would highly encourage it. Start simply and don’t over-think it.

Here are some tips from a lifer:

1. I used many small books when I was younger and have since learned to use a large book so I end up with just a few volumes. Find a large, good quality, well bound book that will last for decades. It could end up being a valuable family heirloom for generations.

2. Don’t feel pressure to write every day or even every week. Snippets of your life and thoughts are quite sufficient, even months apart.

3. Always write the date including the year. I go as far as to date every page in case the book should somehow come apart.

4. Simply write what you did, who you did it with, where you went, and how you felt about it all. It may seem insignificant in the moment but in years to come it will ignite important details of memories. I write prayers in mine and address them directly to God. My journals really read like a letter to Him. You can address yours to a person or even simply, “dear diary”. (I’ll write dd for dear diary.)

5. Write as much or as little as you want. Sometimes I write a paragraph, other times I write pages upon pages. Divulge as little or as much as you want. Always consider the possibility that nosey eyes will find and read your journal against your will. That said, be true to and honestly express yourself. This is a very powerful therapeutic tool and will be as impactful as you are genuine.

6. I sign each of my entries for fun. I still use an old signature that I started using as a teenager and don’t use anywhere else.

7. On the outside or inside of your journal, write the start and end dates. This makes them easier to organize in the future.

8. Create a journal station where you park your book. If you can, attach a pen to it so you don’t have to spend time retrieving one. It can be your bedside,  by the bathroom,  or by your comfy chair. Mine ends up either at my bedside or by my chair. I’ll take it with me when I travel but I’ve learned I rarely journal when I am away from home. My thought is that I will have time to get caught up.

9. Pick a time that works well for you. It may be before bed, first thing in the morning, or in the middle of the day after the kids are off to school.

10. Attach meaningful letters or pictures to your journal. Birth or graduation announcements, wedding invitations or photos, and eulogies are wonderful to revisit years down the road.

Don’t get so busy journaling that you forget to live your life!

 

 

Christian · culture · Faith · Relationships · Spiritual

As I Am

Consider that your concept of God is one of the most important things about you. It determines how you view Him. It determines how we view ourselves and others around us.

I am learning that in many ways I have created God in my own image and to my measly understanding. I pick and choose aspects of Him that suit my fancy and dismiss those I assume to be irrelevant or to be demanding of me. I am a long way from seeing God in His fullness and as He offers Himself to me in the bible.

As a result, mine is an anemic, impotent God. Polished but hollow. Like my life. Ouch. I must be honest with myself: that is the reason I fret, fear, and I’m consumed with the affairs of this world and my position in it. That is why I have little regard for the widow and the orphan, the poor, the lost, and the hurting.

Many times in my life I have learned that He is very powerful. Time after time He has proved Himself strong, faithful, and true. For me He has saved, healed, provided for, called, delighted, delivered, comforted, encouraged, gifted, strengthened, chastised, revealed, lifted up, taught, … the list is endless. When my heart is inclined towards Him, as a plant to the light, I see all this clearly and catch prismatic glimpses of Him in His brilliant awesomeness. Deep calls to deep.

Yet this same heart routinely deposes Him when I want my own way. I am like a spiritual brat, stomping and throwing little spiritual hissy fits. I am like a spiritual diva – entitled and self-absorbed. I am goddess, hear me roar. At those times God is, at best, an on-call consultant. I clean up shop because the consultant is coming, then when the crisis is over, it’s back to sloppy business as usual.

Falsely, I believe that I am what I do. I must remind myself that I am a far cry from my accomplishments, my efforts, my resources, my strengths and failures. The error here is to project this thinking onto Him and just see Him as an improved version of what I am. It is imperative that my concept of Him correspond as nearly as possible with who He truly is. Otherwise all else is idolatry – a view of God as other than He is and a subsequent substitution with what I think He should be.

A. W. Tozer prayed, “They that know Thee may call upon Thee as other than Thou art, and so worship not Thee but a creature of their own fancy; therefore enlighten our minds that we may know Thee as Thou art… Amen.”

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/polish/

culture · Humor · language · Uncategorized

Clazy Making

I belong to the Kikuyu tribe which is notorious for many things. Among it’s highlights is what Kenyans used to call shrubbing. Shrubbing is taking English words and Kikuyunizing them (or converting them so they contain distinct traits of a tribal language.) It is no fault of mine that I frequently say “clazy”. It’s one of my favolite shrubs.

Kikuyus swap most of their “r’s” for “l’s” and vice versa, hence, “the rion is at the liver,” doesn’t mean that the king of the jungle is now eating the organ but that he’s slaking his thirst.  The trouble for outsiders trying to decipher our speech is that some Kikuyus swap the  letters 100% of the time while others are part-timers. There are also words or parts of words that remain unchanged, for example, “I leally enjoy brogging.” It’s always “leally”. Never “learry.” That would be lidicurous.

Of course one can never tell exactly what the admonition “Ret us play” is. If the minister says “Prease play,” you watch to see if he brings his hands together before you jump up, whooping and horrering; whereas if the teacher says, “Ret us take a blake and pray,” she’ll probabry open the door and ret the students out for lecess.

The most faburous thing, of course, is that we are notolious for doing this with full confidence and autholity. We are tluly an amazing tlibe. We lerish the aduration and adolation of the world and they are tickled pink at our verbal plowess.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/pink/

 

 

culture · Humor

“When I had Jury Duty…”

Last week I had jury duty for the first time. We were there from 7.20 am to 5.07 pm. I was enthralled with the process though I ended up sitting in on a rather petty case. What a thorough, involved, and fascinating process. And to think this happens every day across the country.

An army of citizens, some licking their chops, others outraged reorganized their lives: childcare, work, carpools, co-workers, school. For me, all this because Her Majesty walked out of a J.C. Penny with $64.00 worth of make-up.

It was the second time I had  been summoned. It’s my privilege. The first time, I called the night before and was dismissed. I had mixed emotions and felt somewhat rejected. I consoled myself, “Better to be dumped now than to show up for nothing tomorrow.” Four phone calls later, my life was back on track. This time after tiresome instructions on the voice-recording, numbers 160-299 were ordered to show up. I was number 299. Again, mixed feelings.

I’d received a sweet text from a  friend I hadn’t connected with for a while and I carried some writing paper with me to court. She got a twelve page hand-written letter.  Why don’t we hand write letters any more? It must be amazing to get one!

After a tedious check-in and registration process, a judge came in to speak to us for ten minutes. He thanked us for putting our lives on hold. “Even the brain surgeon who tried to tell me he had a surgery scheduled couldn’t get off the hook,” he said. “No one is more important than anyone else.” I got a mental picture of myself on a literal meat hook, flailing hopelessly. Is that what this was?

The throng was whittled down to  about seventy people for 3 cases. As expected, some were relieved, others miffed. I couldn’t look any in the eye, unsure if I was fortunate or condemned to hang. Twenty four of us headed to one courtroom, up three flights of stairs, down long cold hallways, around corners. All marching in tense silence.

We had to stand in order and not swap positions. We had to sit in order. We had to scoot along the bench in order. The case was quickly introduced: the state of Oregon vs. Her Majesty. Why the state of Oregon I will never know. J.C. Penny must have been busier than the brain surgeon. My tax dollars at work.

6 potential jurors were called up to the jury box (I really should have learned what the technical terms here are, now that I am an expert in the field.) The defense attorney stood and immediately tried to put us at ease. It wasn’t working. Her Majesty sat beside her twirling her hair and trying not to look nervous. It wasn’t working either. The attorney spent 30 minutes getting us to relate to the client.

“Have you ever taken something that’s not yours? Of course you all have. And what really, is stealing?” She wore an ill-fitting suit. She looked like she’d be more comfortable surfing or bungee-jumping in a jungle wearing an old t-shirt, cut off jeans, and worn Tevas. She looked like the fun big sister who’d vouch for you and save your hide. Mr. Prosecutor, on the other hand, was serious, well coiffed, eagle-eyed with a hooked nose to match. He meant business and had plans for the royal snollygoster who was smacking her royal chewing gum.

They both engaged us and made sure we all responded to various questions and scenarios they set up. The judge thanked and assured those that would not be selected that we had not wasted our time as this was an important part of the process. Presently, they began to choose jurors.

The lawyers write something on a small piece of paper and the clerk shows each of their papers to the other. Each nods and the clerk walks it to the judge who excuses one of those in the jury box. Yup, he’d wasted his time. The next potential juror is called up to the box so there are always 6. I pick  my back-pack and jacket up off the floor and scoot to the right.  The lawyers write on another piece of paper which is then showed to the other. They nod and it’s walked to the judge. Another is excused. Pick up, scoot. And again. And again. I’m called up to the box. Pick up, walk. Juror number 5. All the rest that haven’t been called up are thanked and excused.

The non-committal mugwump beside me is elated to go home.

Specifics of the case are presented. We are sworn to secrecy and to not touch our cell phones till after the case. More instructions and it’s noon. Lunch time. We will reassemble in an hour. Really? I have never felt less productive in my entire life. It had taken 5 hours to get to this point. In my mind, this could easily have been about thirty minutes worth of work.

Lunch feels like it’s four hours long and we’re all sitting on our hands in anticipation with thirty minutes to go. We’re prohibited to say too much to each other about the case.

The afternoon goes like I thought a jury duty shivoo should. Rapid-fire questioning. Witnesses, cross-examination. “For the record, please pronounce and spell your first and last name.” Objection, hear-say. Sustained. Her Majesty whispers repeatedly to Jane. Being a documentation Nazi, I am appalled by the store security and the shoddy work they did and reported. They omitted important details. We watch surveillance footage. Eagle-eye is on his case and the case is clear. Theft III. Correct person, correct date, intent established.

Back in our chambers, we deliberate for close to an hour. There are strong feelings and opinions. I am not convinced about intent as some are. We turn it over this way and that. The physician in the group is also unsure. The ex-marine is bumfuzzled. The nurse and manager are certain she meant to steal the merchandise. The retiree would really like to go home. It’s 4.54 pm. We can come back tomorrow. This isn’t majority rule. That would be easier. But we must all agree. Did she intend to? The store could easily have done a much better job convincing me of her guilt. They did not. They punched holes in their credibility. We wish that along with making our decision we could wag our jury finger with some strong words for Her Majesty.

We buzz the clerk at 4.58pm. At 5.03pm the judge pronounces her not guilty. I feel sorry for the prosecutor. Of all the people, he actually did the best job, but he could have done better.

I can’t wait to share this day with the world. I quickly learn that everyone I tell I just had jury duty immediately says, “When I had jury duty…” and launches into a twenty minute tale of woe. I guess they didn’t get to tell anyone their story when it was fresh.

I suppose I’ll have to wait till someone tells me they just had jury duty and then I’ll jump in and say, “When I had jury duty…”

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