Unpretentious

“I’m impressed by people who use vocabulary in a way that is interesting but not pretentious,” my husband said to me tonight.  I was happy to hear that, he deals with lots of A players but some B players in many markets around the country.

Steve is President of a huge mortgage lending company, and was in Portland, Oregon to visit with his regional manager out there.  He wants to debrief all of his trips and actually his entire work life with me.  I love it and I help him a lot and always have.

“What more detail about his communication skills impressed you?” I asked.

“He chose the right words at the right time and tempered the entire conversation so there was truth and honestly but no drama.”

“Wow,” I replied, “that is something. So many people are dramatic, manipulative and misdirected so it’s great you have that guy in Portland.”

“Yes,” he said, “he’s one of the good ones. I might promote him soon.”  We then talked in depth about how and where he could be promoted and when that might happen, who he would replace, who would replace him, etc.

“Steve,” I said, “do you think you have impressive and excellent communication skills?”

“No,” he said, “I think mine are adequate and they get the job done, but yours are impressive, excellent and exceptional.”

 

 

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“OUCH!!”

“Ouch, oh god!” I exclaimed.  “OW!”  Helen made consoling sounds but kept on working.

I was born with several congenital abnormalities and as a result I’ve had more surgeries than the average person and maybe a few more aches and pains.  Big areas are my hips, low back and since taking up pickle ball my shoulder and elbow.  I probably play more pickle ball than I should although who is to say?  (Is 14 hours a week too much?)

She calls it “Korean Massage” but what Helen does is outrageously deep tissue muscular therapy.  It keeps all my parts working and I see her twice a month.  She is a master at her craft and if the issue is muscular, she can fix it.  It might take a while but she will do it.  Her Christmas card to me said, “Thank you for letting me keep your body updated.  Happy Christmas.”  I supplement her work with regular stretching so I can joyfully and addictfully continue playing my sport.  (I take the creative license on my own blog to make up words!)

Helen is Korean and trained in her country and in the US.  She is soft-spoken, subtle, graceful, highly intelligent and respectful.  When I enter her space she performs a slight bow.  I return the gesture.  Her English is coming along but isn’t fluent.  We have a wonderful time together.  I am very good at understanding accents and I’m very patient and persistent in trying to understand what she is saying and we’ve made huge strides in in our communication.  She tells me I’m “opened mind” so she feels comfortable as we go back and forth until we understand what the other is saying.  We do all this while she is expertly finding any and all areas on my body where my muscles might be sore, tight or utterly killing me.

I look forward to seeing Helen every other week but I don’t look forward to the pain.  As I drive away however, I am pain free so it’s worth it.  Today as she worked on me I was saying “Ouch!! and OW!”  At these times she models a deep breathing technique and I can hear her and begin doing it myself.  Sort of like Lamaze for childbirth.

Then this gentle soul quietly said, “You say ouch and ow, some people I work on say son-of-a-bitch or mother fucker.  I know what son-of-a-bitch means but what about mother fucker?”


Anti-Social

“It’s a lot easier being older,” my husband said the other day.

“Why?” I asked him.

“It’s easier making decisions. I put more value on my time and what I spent it on so that expedites my decision-making. I don’t spend time with people I don’t want to spend time with or do things I don’t want to do.

I had to laugh. Indeed, he and I are not the most social people. He said that humans are hard wired to be in tribes and groups and that we somehow missed that wiring. We have an inner circle of people we like spending time with, even in Dallas now, but we generally have no interest in meeting new people. Steve works long hours and we also love to spend time alone together.

Shortly before Christmas we were standing on our driveway at our new house in a gated community and a neighbor whom we had not met walked by and said, “Oh, hi! Are you the new neighbors?”

“Yes we are,” I said.

“Oh great! Then we’ll see you at the annual Christmas party up the street!” she exclaimed.

“Well,” I hesitated, “I’m not going to say we are anti-social….”

I heard Steve chuckle behind me. He loves that I’m the more vocal of the two of us and handle these types of things.

“…..but we just aren’t the type of people who like to meet new people,” I finished.

Her demeanor changed slightly and then she blurted “Oh, I totally get that! There is hardly enough time to see the people we already know!”

“Exactly!” I said, “Nice talking to you and have a great evening!”

After that exchange, I didn’t want to say nice to meet you.


Where Ya At??

“You have amazing diction and enunciation,” my new neighbor and friend Ann said to me. “You should be a public speaker!”

“Well, thanks. And for the record, I was a public speaker for years and taught public speaking one on one to senior executives,” I said.

“Yes!” Ann said, “I knew it!!  We kinda destroy the language here in Texas, don’t we?”

“Well, yeah, in some ways, you do,” I replied.

Ann is highly educated and was an educator herself for years and years.  And, she is a Texan through and through.

I will never say “ya’ll”, “fixin’ ta leave”, or “jus’ sayin’” no matter how long I have to live in Texas! I mentioned in a post a while back that I have been complimented here in Texas on my accent. “It’s an intelligent accent,” one Texan told me. However, I’ve also been reprimanded.

“Ma’am,” a bartender once admonished me when I complained to him about inconsistencies, “don’t ever try to apply correct English grammar to Texas slang.”

I’m from Southern California and my mother was a stickler for the spoken language and corrected my siblings and me constantly as we were growing up. That has been a blessing. We’re all well spoken and the language section of entrance exams were always a walk in the park for us.

Dangling participles are my mother’s worst enemy; I adopted that enemy and my friend Debbie suffers for it. Or, at least she used to. (If you don’t know what a dangling participle is, shame on you. At in the horrid sentence Where are you at? is a dangling participle. The correct sentence would be simply Where are you? There is nothing dangling in that beautiful and concise sentence.  I can think of a few things that are very nice dangling, participles are not one of them.

After I knew Deb for nine or so years, I finally felt comfortable correcting her when those danglers resonated in my body like an electric shock. I explained to her why she might want to stop it and for about eight months she made a heroic effort. One day however, she simply stopped. I called her on it and while I won’t repeat her response here, (I just remember it had an “F” in it) I knew it was time let Debbie be Debbie. Debbie will probably be Debbie in the comments section of this post.

Anyway, back to my new friend Ann. My friend Tim and I were returning from the vet when we let my two dogs out of the car off leash just as a woman I had not yet met in my new neighborhood was walking by my house with a small dog. For some reason, my 100 pound golden retriever Troy, hates small dogs. He raced over barking, growling and crouching like he was going to take that dogs head off. I was screaming, Tim was balancing a huge box of light bulbs we bought on the way home in his arms and the woman was trying to coordinate the confusion, her dog and the leash, which was becoming dangerously wrapped around her legs. I’m no spring chicken and I knew she wasn’t either but I later learned Ann is 87 years old.

To my horror, she went down. Onto the rough pavement. I raced over and grabbed Troy by the collar and dragged him into the house while Tim did what he could to tend to the woman on the ground and a very frightened little dog. I ran back out apologizing profusely wondering if she broke a hip or worse.

“I’m fine!” she said, “I love dogs and I understand dogs; I just want to go home,” and off she went up the street. Tim and I were both shaken but relieved to see she seemed to be walking well.

Tim went to visit her immediately to be sure she was okay while I went in, got online and sent a huge bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolates to be delivered that same day to Ann’s house. Another lovely concept I learned from my mother. The next day I received a beautifully handwritten note from Ann and we have become fast friends visiting each other often.

So jus’ sayin’, ya’ll. Since I’m not fixin’ to leave Texas anytime soon, i’m so grateful to have my beautiful friend Debbie waiting for my eventual return to Scottsdale, Arizona, my wonderful friend Tim who helps me with so many things here in Texas, my new friend Ann in my new neighborhood and my amazing mother’s influence in the person I am today.

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Prostitution and Crack Cocaine

“Something is really weird over there,” I said to my husband Steve. “Those cars in the driveway and in the street are the ones I see at various times during the week in the driveway when she isn’t home.”

“Well, it is Thanksgiving. Maybe those are her friends or other single mothers celebrating together,” he replied.

“Who celebrates Thanksgiving with the shades drawn?” I asked.

“Well, we don’t know the layout of that house,” he said, “Maybe they’re in the backyard.”

“They aren’t in the backyard,” I said, “I can see the backyard from the upstairs bedroom and I already checked.”

“You checked?? Why are you so obsessed with this?” he asked.

“It’s the house right next door. Those cars are in the driveway at all weird times during the week. I just wonder what’s going on in there. I was telling the lady who owns the tree trimming company about it when she was here and she thought it might be a crack house or a prostitution venue and told me to call the police neighborhood watch division,” I said. “I mean, she’s been in Texas a lot longer than us; maybe she knows something we don’t.”

“That’s a bit of a stretch,” Steve said. “I really wouldn’t worry about it until you have far more evidence.” Then he went out for a run.

I might be a little OCD and the truth is I was and have been obsessed with whatever is going on next door. The woman who lives there is named Marisol. I remember that by thinking “aerosol”. She’s probably late 30’s and is a single mother of a young boy. They are rarely home and I suspect they sleep over at a boyfriend of Marisol’s most nights and that part is fine by me and is also none of my business.

The problem I have is that during the week, when Marisol’s car is not there while she is working I often see one or more of three cars parked in her driveway. They are a black Suburban, a white SUV of some kind and a black Audi. I’m convinced something sinister is going on, yes, like drugs or prostitution.

I wasn’t cooking for Thanksgiving as we were going out so when Steve went running, I sat down to read on my comfy chair in my downstairs office which has a huge picture window looking out to the street with the big, beautiful trees (take note: I said “beautiful” regarding something in Texas!!) and Marisol’s driveway. At around 4:00pm I heard her front door open. I threw my book, jumped up and leapt to the window. A man walked out, went to the street, got into the black Suburban and drove away. Hmmmmm, I thought.

I retrieved my book and sat back down. Five minutes later I heard the door open again. I threw my book, jumped up and leapt to the window. A woman walked out, got in the Audi and drove away. I knew it!! I thought. There’s a prostitution ring operating over there! Wait till I tell Steve!!

My book was starting to look a little disheveled. But I sat back down and found my way to the page where I left off, began to read and I heard the door again. My poor book.

This time an older man walked to the white SUV. I was thinking he seemed a little old to be involved in prostitution. Maybe he was a senior pimp? He unlocked the car and got a small cooler out of the back seat then walked back to the house and put it inside the door. He then walked back to the car and got a second cooler, went in the house and closed the door.

He’s replenishing the drugs for the prostitution ring, I thought. What drugs have to be kept cool? Heroin? Crack? Is crack the same as heroin? Wait, crack is cocaine of some kind, right? Different than heroin? I’m sure all these drugs have to be kept cool and that is why he has them in coolers. Now he is going in there to transfer them from the cooler to the refrigerator for the next trick. (Aren’t you guys surprised I knew the word for a prostitution transaction was “trick”?)

My thoughts were interrupted by the tone 0f a text coming in to my iPhone. It was Steve saying he’d stopped for a coffee and asking how I was doing. I told him I was fine but had a LOT to tell him about the house next door when he got home.

This time my book got a break because I hadn’t sat back down. I heard the door and zipped over to the window. Out walked the older man, an older woman each holding a small cooler and……Marisol and her son.

“Okay, mom, dad, drive safe! Enjoy the leftovers!” she said with a smile. “Tommy, say bye to gramma and grandpa! And Tommy, did you say bye to Aunt Sarah and Uncle Bill before they left a few minutes ago?”

Just then Steve walked in. “So, what’s new next door, Sherlock?”
I had to eat crow.
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The Bitch From Hell

“She’s a bitch from hell,” my new neighbor said as she pointed to a house up the street the very first time I met her. I didn’t say anything because first of all, I was shocked but also I was clueless about the neighborhood politics and for all I knew the bitch from hell was standing right in front of me. “And, she has breast cancer which I think turned her world upside-down,” Dinah continued.

“Well, yeah,” I said, “maybe that’s why she’s a bitch from hell.”

“No!” she said, “She was like that before! And the guy in that house there,” she said, “is some kind of recluse. He’s an attorney and the only thing in his house is books. Tons of books and I’m pretty sure he’s gay. And those people next to your house recently got married and I’ve heard they scream and fight constantly and their dogs are a nightmare! Everyone including the mailman hate those dogs! The only reasonable one lives there but she’s a renter and you know how that goes; she’ll be gone before we know it!”

Dinah was so busy throwing the neighbors under the bus that she failed to notice her 70 pound dog Trevor, by way of greeting, was trying to hump my 100 pound dog Troy. I think that’s a way obnoxious male dogs attempt to establish dominance. Troy would have none of it and quickly set things straight. I was proud of him.

As it turns out, Dinah is not a bitch from hell; it’s just her personality to tell it like she sees it. I like her a lot. I see her often at the park walking Trevor while Troy and I play Frisbee and she always comes over for a little chat.

“Andrea,” she said one day, “what’s up with Troy?”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Every time he sees Trevor he stiffens up and growls aggressively. It’s like he doesn’t like Trevor.”

“He doesn’t like Trevor, Dinah. During the neighbor blow by blow the first time I met you Trevor tried to hump Troy and it pissed him off and I don’t think he is ever going to get over it. We are just going to have to live with it.” I said. “By the way,” I continued, “did you notice the bitch from hell moved out and the renter is still here?”

“Yes,” she said, “thank god!”