Monday, July 22, 2013

Good Samaritan Moments

I've been a little uptight this week. (Alright, my husband could rat me out, so let's be honest--I've been REALLY uptight this week.) Today was supposed to be the climax of a lot of that stress: the moving truck was coming, and I would finally have all my stuff . . . along with the task of finding a home for everything.

And it didn't come. And then they said it would. And then they said it wouldn't. And then they said it might. And then it didn't.

Let's just say I was not very happy.

So, at the end of this mess, I'm driving home from picking my girls up from a friend's house (who had kept them from 7:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. while I was stuck waiting around for the no-show truck), and I notice the rush-hour traffic slowing down near the light ahead. I'll be turning left, but I see a couple of cars in the "straight" lane swerve into the left turn lane and then back out of it to continue straight. "Either a newbie driving stick shift who stalled, or someone's car's broken down," I think. 

As I pull into the turn lane, there's one car ahead of me. The light's green, but traffic is thick from the opposite direction, so I know we won't be going any time soon. Accordingly, I turn my attention to the car causing the trouble.

It's an older, tan sedan, a little ahead and to the right of me. I can't see the driver, because I'm right in his blind spot, but I can see the smoke coming from under the hood. "That'll ruin your day."

Suddenly, the passenger door of the white car in front of me opens, and a man gets out. He looks to be in his early twenties, white t-shirt, jeans, flip-flops, scruffy cheeks, and a long cigarette dangling from his teeth. He comes back and motions for the driver of the other car to open his door. The door opens, and I see the arm of an old man, spotted and wrinkled and thin, gesturing as they talk. The young man nods once, then goes to the back of the car and starts to push. His own ride pulls out of the intersection, leaving space for him to push the tan car into the left-turn lane. 

I watch as he slides in his flip-flops, takes them off, and proceeds in bare feet to push the car into the lane in front of me. Seeing a gap in traffic, he bends down to start the car rolling once more, hoping to make it through the intersection, but the ground there is no longer level, and he struggles to get it rolling.

Just then, jumping out of a hastily-parked mini-van on the corner and running across two lanes of traffic, comes a woman, twenties or early thirties, dressed in knee-length hot-pink shorts and an electric blue t-shirt. She smiles a quick greeting and gets ready to push, but the light turns red. 

In my rear-view mirror, I see the couple in the truck behind me hop out, the wife running around to the driver's seat, and the man, in a plaid button-up shirt, walking past my van to take a spot beside the neon woman. 

And then, last but not least, jogging across the crosswalk from the other side of the intersection comes a soldier in full uniform, who arrives just as the protected-left light comes on. Together these four strangers lean into the car and easily roll it around the corner, laughing as the car picks up speed and they have to stop pushing or fall on their faces. The old man lets his car roll off into the grass, out of the way of traffic, and as I roll past, the young man with the cigarette is going to talk to him once more.

And just like that, all the stress of my day is gone, purged by witnessing this moment of humanity, of strangers reaching out. 

Those four people, such a contrast in appearances next to one another, stood together not because they were friends, but because each chose not to say, "Oh, someone will help him," or "I bet he has a cell phone." They simply got out of their own vehicles and did what needed to be done.

It didn't change the world. But I smiled the rest of the way home. 

I tend to avoid the news, because it always makes me depressed. I need stories like this to help me keep my faith in my fellow man. What "Good Samaritan" moments have you witnessed lately?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Starting Again

I wander through the mostly-empty rooms, stepping over plastic Easter eggs the girls found and scattered all over. I see a few bags of clothes, some pots and pans loaned us by our landlady, a couple of camp chairs. We're in a new home.


This is our eighth residence in the five years we've been married; the eighth place where I've stood, looking around, wondering just how our life will mold to fit this new living space.

This time, though, for the first time, I'm not starting a new semester, pregnant, both of those at once, or holding a young baby. As I look around at this adorable little house, the first place we've ever rented where we didn't share at least one wall with neighbors, I'm both nervous and excited.

I could actually unpack all the boxes. I could hang curtains. I could MAKE curtains.

For the first time in our moving history, I'm seeing these types of things not as things I should do, or wish I were the type of person who would do, but as things I can and will do.

I know myself. I tend to get overwhelmed when faced with a large project, such as unpacking/organizing a house. But this time, part of me keeps saying, it'll be different. Not just because circumstances are different, but because I'm different.

With every move I've done a little better, become a little more of a homemaker. With every move I've felt a little more drive to actually hang pictures on the walls, or put clothes into drawers. And with this move, more than any other, I can feel myself stepping into the role of keeper of the home.

I'm sure I'll still get overwhelmed when our things get delivered (tomorrow morning, yikes)--but I'll work through it. I've gotten a taste, these last weeks in an empty home, of what this place could be. Now I just need to make it into that.

I bought fabric for the girls' curtains. Purple and sparkly. I'm going to do this.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Looking for readers

Cover credit: Nate Hebbert -- Drawing/inking; Ryan Cooley -- Coloring/cover design

Dear friends,

I've been working on this book for the last 2.5 years, and I plan to eventually start pitching it to agents/editors. Before that, however, I'd like to do at least one more round of 10-or-so readers. If you're interested in being one of my guinea pigs, please leave a comment either here or on facebook, and I'll send you the file. Here's what I'm asking as far as feedback:

1. Where did you lose interest?
2. Were there things you didn't understand?
3. Were there things you just didn't believe?
4. Who was your favorite/least favorite character?
5. Was there anything you particularly liked (so I don't accidentally change that in a rewrite)?

Thanks! (Now here's hoping I get some takers...)