Sorry, I’m over-blogging but baby stood up! Here they are! It’s glorious!
In Texas when you shop at Target or are checking out at the grocery store you will not hear, “May I help you?” or “Did you find everything you needed?” What you will hear every single time is, “You doin’ okay today?” It’s sweet because it focuses on how you’re feeling, not what you’re shopping for. And most people who ask it seem sincere.
Blacks and whites co-exist happily and peacefully here in Texas. We refer to each other as “black” and “white” rather than something more politically correct. I love that.
I was annoyed in the corporate world that I had to say “African American” and not just “black.” In a suburb of Los Angeles in the early 70’s I was in middle school while some lawmaker was trying to figure out race relations and instigated something called bussing. Black inner city kids traveled miles by bus to our suburban schools and white suburban kids traveled miles to inner city schools. My brother Sean was one who was bussed to the inner city while my sisters and I remained in our school. So, I had new black classmates and a gym teacher that semester clever enough to pair each black girl with a white girl and had the black girls teach the white girls to dance. Lucky me. The Bump wasn’t cutting it anymore.
That semester culminated with each black/white pair performing their dance in the gymnasium for the entire student body. It was kind-a like “Dancing with Stars” without any stars or TV cameras, 40 years ago. I don’t remember my partner’s name because we called each other “sister.” Her idea. After she reinvented my approach to movement, she and I choreographed a dramatic dance that highlighted the contrasting color of our skin and we won first prize. Amen, sister, wherever you are!
The first week we lived in Texas I noticed my husband Steve was dropping his clothes on the closet floor after work. He was in a new, high-level stressful job and he was on a learning curve. I was a wreck for my own reasons and that added to his stress. I didn’t nag him about dropping his clothes; I just knew he needed a low to the ground basket to drop them into.
I went to Target and was looking at one basket with a lid and another without trying to decide when a Target employee approached me and said, “You doin’ okay today?” I explained my dilemma, she eyeballed both baskets and delivering excellent customer service said, “Ain’t no man gonna lif dat lid!” Amen, sister.
Have I kept it a secret that I was a wreck for the first several months we lived here? Okay, good. Well, the foreman for the guy who built this house saw right through that secret. His name is Dicky. Apparently there are a lot of guys in Texas named Dicky. I just don’t get that. There is Dicky’s BBQ, Dicky’s Golf Shop, Dicky’s Dry Cleaning, etc. If you were named Dicky by your parents, why wouldn’t you just change your name? Why would anyone keep the name Dicky? What does “Dicky” conjure up in your brain?
Anyway, shortly after we moved in I was meeting with Dicky on various repairs needed in the house while the dogs were throwing up, toxic plaster was being blasted around the back yard by enthusiastic pool builders, god knows who was knocking on the door, the land line was ringing, the cell phone was buzzing, UPS was delivering something, someone on the roof was pounding and I was close to tears.
Dicky looked at me sadly and said, “Can I pray for you?”
I said, “Well, why?”
He said, “Because I can see you need to be prayed for and I am a conduit of Jesus and I’ll tell you why I know that.” (Fast forward 20 minutes here, please.)
I finally interrupted him and said, “Okay, whatever, go for it” mostly just to shut him up which of course had the opposite effect.
We were standing in my formal dining room and he put his hands on my shoulders, closed his eyes, bowed his head and began. Boy, did he know how to talk and pray.
I was dazzled for the first 7 minutes because he was so intuitive; he was nailing how bad thing were for me and he was praying for things I was really hoping for like balance, peace, meaning and maybe even joy in the not so distant future. After 17 minutes I was getting agitated, bored, annoyed and ready to have Dicky out of my house. He finally finished with a resounding something or other, which actually made me cry. I think I was crying because I was so happy he was finished but he, of course, thought it was because he was a conduit of Jesus and that I’d had a breakthrough. And in all honesty I do believe in the power of prayer and he was good at it, if a little long winded, and it was nice to have someone’s complete attention when I was in such bad shape.
So, I thanked him, he gave me a referral for a handyman about whom he said, “I’m sure he’s Christian, he’s sooo happy!” We hugged, he said God bless you, he left and I haven’t seen him since.
Toto, we’re not in Scottsdale anymore.
Texan’s feet must hurt. Maybe it’s the boots. There is a little foot massage place on every block just like dry cleaners. I guess it’s one way I fit in around here. My feet have always hurt. I recently discovered my new favorite foot place. It’s called Ya-Ya. I have no idea what that means. My Chinese reflexology guy who speaks no English whatsoever is named Mike. Probably not really, though.
One day I was at Ya-Ya and I was laying comfortably on my chaise lounge with a washcloth over my eyes listening to the calming sound of trickling water from a charming fountain and some eastern meditation music while Mike did his magic on my feet. The woman next to me was in paradise with her own foot person. Suddenly a young gal burst in the door, yakking deafeningly on her cell phone, told the person on the other end to hang on while she announced urgently that she had an appointment at 3:30 pm and as she was getting comfortable on her chaise lounge, took up where she left off in her boisterous conversation.
I have a hard time with how utterly rude people can be with cell phones but this was preposterous. Ya-Ya is a dark, quiet, serene environment where patrons go to have a reprieve from the stresses of life. This woman was almost shouting.
I instantly sprang from a horizontal position to a vertical one and said with force, “Excuse me!! This is completely unacceptable!!”
All the Chinese reflexologists giggled nervously and dropped their eyes. The lady next to me gave me a thumbs up.
“Oh! I have to go, Roxanne. I’ll call you later,” the loud mouth said as she hung up the phone. “Uh, oh, sorry, uh, sorry….”
“Thank you,” I said. And I lay back down. (lay? layed? laid? lie? David Goldberg, help me!)
As we were paying, the woman who had been next to me thanked me for my boldness. I told her ten years ago I might have seethed quietly with my anger but as I’ve gotten older when I know in my heart it’s dead wrong, I don’t hesitate. Now, in retrospect that sounds strong AND courageous! (See my last post!)
The part of town I live in is called Preston Hollow. People here love to put signs in their front yards. You’ll see signs advertising the birth of a baby with the name and birth stats. Then of course they’ll be another sign saying “And big brother, Kyle!!!” so they don’t piss off the older kid by giving the baby all the attention and signs. I’ve seen a sign in front yards that says, “Mad For Plaid!” I had to ask Steve about that one and it’s about a local high school with a Scotsman as its mascot. Another important one says, “NO! Not in Preston Hollow, you don’t!!” It’s an angry sign in front of every 3 or 4 homes here. Apparently there is a developer who wants to build an 8 story building here. But, it’s sounding to me like these neighbors will have nothing to do with that kind of horseplay!
Finally, the one that was everywhere when I was at my weakest when we first moved here said, “Be Strong AND Courageous!” I think it’s a bible verse because it had all those numbers and symbols at the bottom which, correct me if I’m wrong, allows you to find it in the bible if you want to read it in addition to reading it on the hundreds of signs all around the neighborhood. That sign made me angry.
“NO!!” I would scream at that sign. “I can’t be strong OR courageous right now!! I’m trying as hard as I can but I can’t!! I would if I could, okay!?!”
I was so busy preparing for our move from Scottsdale and my husband Steve was swamped in his new position with Prime Lending in Dallas that we had to buy a house and buy it quickly. I flew out to join him here and we did it in one day. The realtor had only a few houses lined up to show us after I nixed anything over 5000 square feet. Steve wanted a new build and it’s hard to find one smaller than that in the neighborhoods we liked. So, we have a brand new, gorgeous 4800 square foot house and it’s considered modest by Dallas’ standards. The media room is so big my mom said we should put in an ice skating rink. Then later when she heard through the grapevine I really wanted an elephant she said, “Perfect! They have room for it!”
The move was beyond stressful, nervous breakdown kind of stressful. The culture shock was beyond belief and I found myself completely disoriented. Steve was working long hours and traveling so I was mostly alone dealing with dogs sick as dogs, me sick as dogs, me with 18 mosquito bites and allergies so bad I was positive I had lung cancer. Then there were the projects I was overseeing; building a pool, installing landscaping, removing a rotted out 60 foot Red Oak tree from our front yard and grinding out the roots (I decided to save money and did that one myself), planning interior design and getting the technology in the house orchestrated which, as everyone knows, is rocket science these days.
There I am taking that pesky, rotten tree down.
Anyway, one day this guy was here; I can’t remember what he was doing but it had something to do with paint.
“Where is the leftover paint?” he asked me.
“There isn’t any,” I said. “They didn’t leave extra paint, extra tiles, nothing!”
“That would be very unusual,” he said.
“I know,” I said, “I’ve owned a lot of houses and there’s always extra paint and tile. But I’ve been all through the garage and there is nothing there!”
“It wouldn’t be in the garage”, he said, “It would be in the attic.”
“I don’t have an attic,” I said.
“Yes you do,” he said, “All newer homes have attics.”
“No they don’t!” I demanded. “I’ve had several newer homes over the years and none of them have ever had attics!”
You’d think after living in the house for over two weeks I would have noticed a pull cord hanging a quarter of the way down between the ceiling and the floor from a trap door in the upstairs hallway. But I didn’t.
When we first moved here we were driving down the main drag and I was looking at the compass on my FJ Cruiser and I said, “That’s weird, you’d think a major street like this would run North/South; this runs Northwest.”
“That’s why it’s called Northwest Highway,” Steve said.
I don’t know where they come from but after it rains there are ducks swimming in tiny, little puddles wherever they can find them. You can see them at the side of the road, in the middle of a field or in someone’s side yard. It’s so sweet the way they find what they love and need wherever they can. Do humans do that? Or, do we worry and obsess that our puddles are too little?
You see a lot of Lexus’ on the road. The people here love them because they rhyme…well, you know…
Everyone sells fried chicken. I mean everyone; even Whole Foods. In Texas, fried chicken fits squarely into the health food category. That works for me.