Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Simple Things

It's the simple things that make us laugh out loud. Take, for instance, every time that I open my laptop to find that the girls have set a new screen saver and programmed a new exotic sometimes eery voice that announces the time at the top of every hour. I nearly jump out of my skin at 11 pm after every one is finally asleep and I log on only to hear a voice emerge from my computer that says slowly, this time in the accent of a British Airways flight attendant, "It is now 11 o'clock…"


Before this trip to Houston she also changed my screen saver from Luke in an empty Christmas box circa age 6 months - grinning with his first two lower teeth under the Christmas tree. Instead I now have a black pug on a kelly green background. Who's pug? Lord only knows. Annalise loves funny looking dogs. Also new to my screensaver is an electronic post-it. A running tab that simply says: "Amelia's Christmas List." I decided to click on it, even though it was Halloween.

"Amelia's Christmas List: Inexpensive and Simple Things" read the header.
1. Golden Hands Tiger Paws (no idea but there was a clue 'get off amazon' [sic])
2. "13 Gifts" (a book for tweens) by Wendy Mass
3. Duct tape (which until recently was usually called 'duck tape' and is used to make friendship bracelets or to tape Luke's mouth when he says 'shut-up', which he does…a lot.)
4. Neon Converse (sneakers) pink,green
5. New Leotard(s)
6. ITunes gift card
7. Patagonia or Northface jacket (poor kid, doesn't have a winter coat…because she keeps losing them).
8. A Jagwear Leotard (i design it)[sic]

Then there were the:
"Expensive things i probably won't get"
1. Blinders 4 my room (poor kid still has the 'temporary' paper shades from Home Depot that we put up when we renovated the house 5 years ago. All she wants are black out shades because the sun shines brightly into her room each morning. Personally, I have put on blinders to the fact that we have no shades or curtains anywhere in the house. Every time I think of getting those Roman shades made the cost paralyzes me.)
2. a trampoline or a pull up bar (unlikely unless we move to Rockville. I still have a balance beam in my living room from last Christmas thanks to Uncle Barry. Fortunately, it was covered in brown ultra-suede so it matches my couches. I know Barry is planning on a set of uneven bars this year because Amelia is now placing first on the beam with a 9.4 last weekend at the Judge's Invitational, but she needs some work on the bars.)

Poor Amelia. She reminds me of the Little Match Girl sometimes.

Then there is Annalise who informed me just the other day that even when she acts like she is in a bad mood in the mornings before school, she is still very happy. She says she can't help it. She is our Tina Fey. Second City watch out. I am thinking of taking her out to L.A. for Noreen Fraser's Comedy Cancer Fundraiser on Nov 19 to see Will Farrell and Amy Poehler but don't know if I can swing it. I love Noreen. She has raised so much money and attention for cancer research. She took her own breast cancer diagnosis and has built a foundation that does so much good for so many. She and I instantly bonded when we first met because we both recognized in each other women who had so much to do and so little time. We both go to sleep at night hearing the tell-tale clock ticking in our heads. We live 3 days to every one that appears on the calendar. We are energized and exhausted all at once like so many cancer survivors whom I have met. Nancy Brinker comes to mind.

As I am flying back from Houston with Greg from our most recent appearance to talk about "This Burning Land" I laugh out loud as I read an old issue of "The Atlantic" and the woman in the throes of 'peri-menopause' who is describing how she lies awake at night and a random name, in this case 'Brian Hong' pops into her head. She can't place the name but it haunts her. Was he from the insurance company? She knows she was supposed to call him back. She can see his name clearly on a memo post-it. She racks her brain as the clock hits 4 am. And then she remembers. He is from a charity group that helps homeless young boys in San Pedro south of where the author lives in Los Angeles and he has written to her beseechingly to come and speak for free to the group of young males, but the author who is feeling as overwhelmed as the rest of us has not responded to the e-mail - one of dozens that daily slip between the cracks unintentionally. But at 4 am the name haunts her because she knows that she prides herself on responding promptly to the e-mails that flood her blackberry. I imagine her dragging herself from bed sitting by the light of her LED screen answering Brian Hong's e-mail. Thus is the state of modern life. Unending e-mails that weigh on us. Not enough time for the simple things.

It's 10:47 pm and I am just home from work after leaving Houston at 6 am this morning, spending the day in the Pentagon and attending a dinner for the International Center for Journalists Annual Awards dinner. The honorees tonight: Rocio Gallegos Rodriguez and Sandra Nieto of Juarez, Mexico and Thet Sambath of Cambodia, who spent the last 10 years documenting the Killing Fields. They were three of the most unbelievable journalists I have ever heard speak. Their bravery beyond anything I have ever witnessed. Examples of singleminded pursuit of truth with no regard for their own personal safety. I felt like I was watching 3 angels who literally every day walked through the valley of the shadow of death. It was extraordinary.

So even though there aren't enough hours in the day or in a life, there are still enough. Especially, if you focus on the simple things.