I Need Your Brains On This One

A dear friend of ours is in the hospital. She is not ill, her father had a stroke (or two) and she is staying with him. There is so much involved here that it is exhausting to think about going into in this note…suffice it to say that it is virtually impossible to be of any help to her or her family whatsoever.

We work with her too, so we have 21 people asking us daily what they can do. Tina’s mom is friends with the family as well, so there are requests to support from that angle too. And we are not even in contact with all their friends…the church…the community…you get the idea.

The thing is, I know she and her mom need stuff. There is so much stuff weighing on them right now that they just cannot figure out how to offload any of it. Really what they need is an “assistance coordinator.” Someone to come in and figure out what they need and coordinate it.

“Looks like you need someone to hang out with your daughter for an hour and a half once a day while you commute back and forth from the hospital.”

“Looks like you need someone to wait in line for you to turn in those forms.”

“Looks like maybe you need someone to make up a basket of easy-to-eat foods in a basket that you can just pick up and swallow whole for times when the nurses come in and you can have a 3 second break.”

“How about someone does your laundry?”

Things like that. Because organizing and writing down a list of things people can help you with is daunting…and then you have to ask. Why has no one ever thought of this?

How about you? You got any ideas for me? Everyone out there who has ever been in a situation where you could not begin to imagine how to wrap your head around what you need and ask for it…now’s the time.

What can I do for my friend? What have we not thought of?


…then I tell two friends, and so on, and so on…

I got my hair cut and colored today.

As I write that I am wondering what that statement brings up in you. Getting my hair done is always a very sensory rich experience. It verges more on entertainment than simple cosmetic maintenance.

My quietly alt hair personality is created in a funky little house in the Heights in Houston by Sharon. Sharon’s room is bathed in natural light, so if there is artificial light (and I imagine there is) I don’t remember it. It is pretty, but not spa-like. So you feel a little pampered, but not like you should have brought your purse dog with you and gotten her hair dyed to match.

I walk out with my hair impossibly soft falling against my face. It is wonderful. I love the feeling of swingy newly cut hair.

(What you can’t really see in this shot is that my highlights are burgundy. I love them.)

I once heard a story on This American Life about someone shaving their head. The way he described it was amazing. The feel of the breeze on skin that has never felt the breeze… the rush of water over an exposed scalp…the sensation associated with exposing skin that has never been exposed. He did it on a lark for a story and now does it once a year to recapture the feeling. I think my jaw was dropped the whole time. It sounded incredible. I wish I had the guts. I swear the thought brings tears to my eyes.

(By the way, if someone has heard what I am talking about and has a link to the story…I would be sooooo grateful for the hookup.)

Would you shave your head for the sensation alone?

A Yellow Balloon

Today I was in a meeting on the 26th floor of what used to be the Enron building. I was in a meeting with some pretty serious folks talking about some pretty corporatey stuff. Ten of us in the room and four people joining the meeting via conference call and some online collaborative tool. I was talking through a presentation and guiding the team through a series of questions to refine the content when a yellow balloon floated by the window. It floated between our building and the building right next door. I stumbled over my words and was grateful when a conversation started without me at the table for a moment so I could watch the balloon drift by. I was the only one who saw it…at least the only one in our room. It occurs to me now to wonder how many people saw it in other offices in either building as it drifted up between us.

It was like something in a movie. I could see the balloon and the reflection of the balloon in the glass in the opposite building. Everything all glass and steel around us, except for that balloon. It was beautiful.

I wish I worked in the kind of world where I could have stopped the meeting, stood up and shouted “Oh My God! Look! How cool!” But I don’t. I am respected for what I do, but what I do is not considered to be very important in the big scheme of things. In fact, it is considered to be a little “touchy feely” by many. One moment of “Lookie lookie! A balloon!” could totally seal the deal on that. So I sat, grateful for the chair I had chosen at the table, relieved I was able to resist jumping to my feet with excitement and thrilled to have had the opportunity to see a yellow balloon floating by on this very serious day.

Wild Weather and Grandfathers

Three nights ago I laid down on the ground and watched the lightening light up the clouds above me. I have been wishing for storms lately. Not rain. Storms. The kind of weather that puts everyone on edge. Big crashes of thunder. Electricity lighting up a dark, wet sky. Wind that howls until it matches the wildest pain you have ever felt. Heavy drops of rain that almost sound like hail as they fall on your roof, your grill, the leaves on the trees.

There was no storm that night.

The ground was not even wet that I lay on, though we enjoyed a respectable little downpour not five miles away at dinner. I laid down in the grass and wondered how much time goes between me feeling the ground on some part of my skin. Between shoes, floors and concrete…how much do I really feel of the ground?

Looking up into the gentle show of the sky, I remembered a time sitting on the front porch with my Grandfather in Florida. He loved the weather and was mesmerized at how, from the vantage point of his front porch, he could watch the electrical storms cross the sky in the distance. I felt it too. It was so beautiful and intense.

So, I let my thoughts go to him completely. It’s funny how you can miss someone more as you grow older. There are parts of him I understand more now that I could have possibly understood then. And many more parts that I am sad I missed knowing as an adult. He died when I was in high school. I thought about that too.

I realize I don’t really know what he was like. I am piecing together the impressions of a child and guessing what that means. I could ask, I know. But no one could possibly tell me what I would have noticed about him as an adult. Only I could know that…if I had the luxury of knowing. But tonight I allowed myself the space to guess.

And tonight I am thinking about him again. Sitting in our new house I am thinking I would so love to call him up on the phone and celebrate the storm bearing down on us. If I could find the whiskey in this mess of boxes, I would break it out and raise a glass to a real mess of a storm…and to my grandfather, who taught me to love the drama of big skies and wild weather.