Saturday, February 12, 2011

Egypt on My Mind

I feel like I ought to send a “Congratulations and Best Wishes” card to Egypt. I’m just not sure who to address it to (to whom to address it?) “To Random Person On the Streets of Cairo” doesn’t seem like it would make it there. Clearly, it would be rude to send a sympathy card to Mubarak, especially since the US did so much to support him. Maybe I should go out into the streets of my hometown and try to meet some Egyptian person so I can express my felicitations. But, while I’m sure there must be someone from Egypt living in the greater Metro area, it might take a long time to find that one person. And there may well be only one person. I know there was an Egyptian professor for awhile, but I heard he joined the demonstrations in Egypt and I’m not sure if the postal service could find him.

While I love my town, it’s not the most diverse of cities. Well, I mean, it’s diverse: you can drink Chai or latte or fat free organic free-range milk. You can have your hair in dreads or braids. You can wear Columbia or North Face. There are choices all over the place. I’m just sayin’ it isn’t a mecca for folks from the mid-east, Africa or super-far-south America. In fact, it isn’t even a mecca for folks from below the Mason-Dixon line unless they’re working on farms, and that’s a post for another day.

Back to Egypt. Don’t you have images in your head of people demonstrating outside of the pyramids, with sand blowing in their faces and camels hanging out in the background? I’ve looked at the pictures of Cairo and the celebrations, and I still think, “Aw, I wonder if the camels are scared. I hope no one falls off the Sphinx.” When someone says they’re going to Paris, I immediately form an image of the Eiffel Tower and a man with a baguette on a bicycle. As if there’s nothing to Paris but that one idea. Same thing happens when someone says Mississippi. No, I don’t think of the Eiffel Tower and bread. I think of a dirty river and a woman in a cane rocking chair with no teeth. The woman has no teeth. Well, the rocking chair doesn’t have teeth, either, but you know what I mean.

When people say California, I think of a boy with bleached hair and a surf board.

When people say Guatemala, I think of a friend I had, and how she and I would walk together, only she’d wear high heels and have makeup and nice clothes on, and I’d be in my two-day-old sweats with my hair in a pony tail. So, to me, Guatemala means women who “dar un paseo” looking like they mean to be seen.

When someone says England I feel cold and look for an umbrella. I also think of fat men in bowler hats. Do men still wear bowler hats in England?

When someone says Germany, I think of austere concrete buildings and schnitzel. I love schnitzel. I also think of cuckoo clocks and Julie Andrews and no matter how many times I tell myself that Austria is not Germany, I can’t really convince myself of that.

What other images come to mind? Australia: koalas and dry, dry, dry. I’m sorry, Australia, by the way. I’ve been thinking of Queensland and how it should be enough to have just one natural disaster at a time. You shouldn’t be threatened with typhoons, too. I also think of Crocodile Dundee, and I’m sorry about that, too. He isn’t the hottest thing to come out of the outback, but he’s the one that got “Australia” tattooed in my mind, so there you are.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Snow Drift

4 women. That’s the answer to the riddle: how many women does it take to get a car out of a snow drift? It took 4 of us, and if we’d had some warning, we would have made a casserole to send with the snow-driftee.

Of course, only one of us could drive because it was a stick shift.

But the rest of us dug, pushed, and swore. Actually, the driver swore, too. And I’m so proud of her.

All that Florida weather we’ve been having gave way this past week to sub-zero temperatures and 12 inches of snow. That’s a real 12 inches, as measured by a woman with a ruler (me). I love snow. I don’t care much for sub-zero, unless it comes in stainless steel and says “Wolf” on it. And I’ve been scaling back on the hot cocoa. I can’t remember why right now, but I seem to remember having a good reason.

I have a friend from Canada (“c”-eh, “n”-eh, “d”-eh) who loves to rant about, well, about anything. Currently, it’s about how in Canada they have sub-zero weather for 3 months out of the year and they still walk to school. I don’t say it out loud, but in my head I think, “Barefoot? Uphill?”

Even I, the bastion of close-your-mouth-mothering, couldn’t help myself the other day as I drove my from-the-garage, pre-heated, whinging children to school. “I never got a ride to school until I was 16, and then I scraped the snow off the car and drove myself.” I actually heard my children roll their eyes at me. And I could feel my mother rolling her eyes at me across the vast distance that separates us. “Really? Poor kid. Had her own car at 16 and had to drive it to school. Let me tell you about when I went to school...”

My youngest daughter thinks there’s a good chance her grandfather owned a dinosaur. If you ask her, she laughs and says ‘no’ but then she’ll get a look about her eyes and you’ll see the wheels turning in her head and you know she’s wondering if maybe, just maybe, he really did have a dinosaur that carried him to school on its back. You can see she thinks maybe the good ole days really were a lot better. But you wouldn’t catch her scraping the snow off a dinosaur if she had her own. She’d be a great friend in the summer, but as soon as the first flake fell, she’d leave the poor reptile curled around the house for warmth with a quick “see ya next summer.” She hasn’t given up on the cocoa. In fact, a couple of days ago she dug some dinosaur-age marshmallows from the cupboard, sunk them in a cup, and swore they softened up after awhile. She didn’t break her teeth, so they must not have been as hard as they sounded landing in the mug.