Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Thanks for the Mammaries

I think the biggest laugh I enjoyed in England this past April was from Jo's breast feeding story.

Well, it wasn't so much about breast feeding as it was about breast pumping.

Jo's dear darling boy is three, now. He is her first and only child. Before he was born, Jo was sure that she would be ready to go back to work a mere two weeks after giving birth. Her friends with babies warned her to wait until later.

She should have listened.

Jo works as a television hostess in the UK, most prominently for a travel channel.
She could at least handle a work meeting soon after the baby was born, she had thought, especially if she brought along her hand crank machine for expressing breast milk, the one with two separate attachments.

Jo told us that while sitting in the meeting, she could feel her breasts swelling gradually and growing heavier - as if they were inflating! She excused herself for a quick break and looked for the nearest public loo, expressing machine in tow.

She managed to find an empty restroom but the stalls weren't close enough to the electrical outlet. The machine's electrical cord was too short to extend into a secluded stall. She would have to risk it.

Jo mimed cranking the machine's handle while telling us the story, as well as applying the attachments to her topless self. She was not prepared, she said, for a strange man to walk in on her in such a state.

I imagine the look of shock on the man's face must have matched the level of shock Jo was feeling, once she realized that she was in the Men's Room.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Kindness of Vicky T.

I cannot honestly say that I've ever had a hard life. Sure, I've had some emotionally tough periods and a bit of genuine heartache - all in the distant past, thank goodness. But my life has been a happy one, for the most part.

On the one hand, I am extremely grateful. On the other hand, I wonder how inept I might actually be, not knowing how to cope with adversity?

I am still the Perpetual Pollyanna Pete, however, and I believe in focusing on any silver lining available. Part of my effort toward keeping a positive attitude is to be more mindful of how kind people have been to me my entire life. One of them was Vicky T.

Vicky was a counselor I had met up at church camp when I was about 15. She was a Sunday School teacher and I quickly became friends with the girls in her junior high group. It was natural to add her to my new list of pen pals before camp had ended.
Since Vicky was a sympathetic adult, I suppose it was natural to start bending her ear in my letters, mostly pouring out my hurt feelings to her about my father.

Vicky listened. And she responded. She wrote lengthy letters back to match my long letters of self-pity. I don't think I kept any of her letters but I remember she shared personal information about when her husband had hurt her feelings and how she thought we should respond, as Christians, to family conflicts.

Vicky had two boys of her own, both in elementary school when I was an adolescent. Now, as an adult, I am humbly grateful that she had taken the time to nurse my emotional pain. I am thankful that she made the time to guide me through some of my early teenage turmoil when she had a family of her own to take care of and worry about.

The last time I saw Vicky was during the end of my senior year in high school. I was anxious to share with her that I had been accepted into UCLA, as if to prove that I was a successful 18-year-old and all of my former problems had been solved.

Recently, I have been looking in the phone book and googling her name online to see if she is still living in the same area - and with no luck. I imagine her sons are now in their thirties, and that perhaps she is a grandmother by now. I wish I could find Vicky T. and thank her for having been so kind and sensitive to the younger me.

For now, I'll just try to remember how kind Vicky T. and others have been to me throughout my life. And I'll try to remember, even on a daily basis, to pay that kindness forward to anyone I happen to come in contact with.

Hopefully, it will help me to accomplish my goal of not wasting my space on this planet.

(the above photo is of Vicky and me at winter camp, 1982)