Archive for July, 2012
I love doughnuts. Cake, glazed, old fashioned, French…it doesn’t matter what kind. I love them all. That’s why when my husband came home late one night with a box filled with a dozen delectable Dunkin’ Donuts he had purchased while in Chicago on business, I thought I had died and gone to pastry heaven. We don’t have a Dunkin’ Donuts within hundreds of miles of our home so this was a rare and magical treat.
After Ron placed the giant orange and white box on the kitchen counter in front of Stella, Noah, and me, I lifted the lid and let out a gasp. The doughnuts were lined up in three glorious rows – chocolate, cherry, filled, sprinkled, cake, glazed…a virtual fairyland of fabulous treats. Because it was bedtime and I didn’t want to increase the chances of adding a layer of “doughnut top” to my ever-expanding “muffin top,” I decided to wait until the next morning to begin feverishly devouring the box’s contents. Since Stella and Noah had overdosed on chocolate chip cookie dough earlier in the day and hadn’t yet come down from their sugar high, they agreed that they also wanted to wait until morning before gobbling their share of the loot.
I didn’t sleep well that night. I dunno why. Maybe I had work on my mind. Bills The creepy animal that has been lurking in our back yard this summer. Or maybe it was just pure excitement over the lovely box of doughnuts that were waiting patiently for me in the kitchen. All I know is that by the time the sun came up, I felt horrible and was exhausted from hours spent tossing and turning. ”How will I get through this day?” I asked myself as I rolled out of bed and plodded downstairs to make a pot of extra-black coffee.
I had almost forgotten about the Dunkin’ Donuts box on the counter where I had left it the night before. I excitedly started my coffee and retrieved a plate from the cabinet for my long-anticipated doughnut. I could literally feel the smile spread across my face as I slowly lifted the lid and peered inside.
But wait. What the…?? I could see movement in the box. Lots of movement. In fact, it was extremely busy in there. I leaned in closer to see that my delicious, gorgeous doughnuts were now covered with a giant frickin’ layer of ants.
I felt my pulse accelerate and my breathing became labored. “No… no! This just can’t be!” I exclaimed gasping for air. I picked up one of the glazed raised and eyed it yearningly. “Could it really be that bad?” I asked myself. “After all, I’m sure millions of people around the world have eaten an ant or two. Maybe I can just…” I tried brushing the bugs off the doughnut but the attempt was in vain. That one alone must have had a half million ants on it. Hungry ants that clearly liked doughnuts even more than I do.
I tossed the ant-sprinkled doughnut back inside, closed the lid, and and sprinted out to the trash with it. .
I spent the next few hours that day in a trance, wondering where in the heck the ants had come from. Were they in Ron’s truck? Hiding someone deep within my kitchen? Had they hitch hiked all the way from Illinois deep within the Dunkin’ Donuts box? All I know is that as quickly as the gazillion ants had appeared in my kitchen, the moment I whisked the box into the trash I didn’t see another trace of them.
Later that day, I stopped by the grocery store’s bakery counter to purchase a lackluster clear poly container of doughnuts. The only thing they had were some pathetic-looking chocolate iced donuts and a few white ones that looked like they were dug out of some old lady’s attic. The woman behind the counter informed me some dude had just stopped by and bought nearly all of the best doughnuts they had and that’s why the store didn’t have many left.
Yeah… that guy must have had an ant problem at his house that morning, too.
I believe there are very few people who are extraordinary enough to be labeled a “hero”. Certainly, those who save or help others such as firefighters, police officers, paramedics, or medical pioneers qualify for the honor but often times, those society has deemed as being a “superstar”, “celebrity”, or “hero” gain admiration purely from their good looks, acting ability, or because they made the winning goal at the big game.
In 2007 I heard about a South African athlete, Oscar Pistorius, the world record holder for sport class T44 in the 100, 200 and 400 meter events. At the time when I first saw his name in the news, he was training to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics despite the protests of individuals who believed he had an “unfair advantage” over other athletes – or at the very least, that he may harm someone if he ran amongst a pack of other sprinters. So what makes Oscar Pistorius so different from other athletes? Pistorius is a double amputee who sprints using Cheetah Flex-foot carbon fibre transtibial artificial limbs – thus his nickname, “The Bladerunner.”
In March of 2007, the IAAF changed competition rules thus prohibiting Pistorius, and other individuals using prosthetics, from competing with “able-bodied” athletes stating in its amendment that was to include “any technical device that incorporates springs, wheels or any other element that provides a user with an advantage over another athlete not using such a device.”
Pistorius didn’t concede and in 2008 competed in a series of scientific tests revealing that although he may be advantaged on straightaways, he was disadvanted at the starting block and around turns. Pistorius appealed the IAAF decision in court and the appeal was upheld.
Pistorius never did qualify for the Beijing Olympics but continued to train during the years that followed. Just a few weeks ago, on July 4, 2012, Oscar Pistorius received word that he had earned a spot on the South African Olympic team and would be the first athlete in history to compete not only the Paralympics, but the Olympics, as well. His first event is slated for August 4th when he will begin participating in 400-meter heats.
His elated tweet that followed this announcement read:
Will be in @London2012 for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games! Thank you to everyone that has made me the athlete I am! God, family and friends, my competitors and supporters! You have all had a hand!
Oscar Pistorius is a hero on many levels. What others may have seen as a disability, he clearly saw as a challenge. He overcame adversity, worked endlessly, and fought for what he believed was merited not only himself, but for other physically challenged athletes that deserve the right to compete right along side “able bodied.”
There are other heroes in the story of Oscar Pistorius, as well. His parents, Henke and Sheila Pistorius, deserve an vast amount of credit for the success of their son. I can only believe that in light of his incredible accomplishments, his parents have always been at the sidelines cheering him along - not only at the running track, but in life as well.
So, come August 4th, I will be watching television and reading tweets – waiting to hear news of triumph. But I guess in my eyes regardless the outcome, he’s already a champion.
Oscar will be competing in the 400 meter and 4 x 400 relay at the 2012 London Olympics.
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You may remember my post from a few weeks back when Stella and I were interviewed on WNYC’s nationally syndicated show, “The Takeaway.” The title of the segment was “Summer Jobs Dwindling for America’s Teens” and covered the difficulties teens have finding a job in today’s market (I don’t mean to be redundant by mentioning this again but need to recap it so you understand Stella’s desperation). When spring semester ended for her at the University, Stella followed my
demand advice and found not just one, but two summer jobs so she could earn a wad of cash before returning to college in fall. One job at “Airball” promised 1-2 days per week and the other working for “Jan Sailor Toft”, 12- 20 hours. Perfect!
Stella was busy working for a few weeks, but that didn’t last long. After each retailer continued to hire the parade of miscellaneous girls skipping through their mall doors, she and a string of her fellow employees began getting scheduled for a whopping zero hours a week. Yes, ZERO. Often times when she actually did get scheduled for a meager shift here or there, she’d receive a phone call a day (or in the case of Airball last week, 55 minutes) ahead of time telling her she didn’t need to come in and could take the night off. To add insult to penniless injury, “Airball” required her, and a few other employees, to do a “call in” at 3:00 p.m. on specified days of the week to see if they were needed for that evening’s shift. In other words, Stella would be forced to keep her evening wide open “just in case” “Airball” realized they were understaffed and needed an extra person to come in and bail them out of their scheduling mess.
And did “Airball” ever actually ask her to come in when she did one of these ridiculous call ins? Nope. Did she receive on-call pay? Nope. Just the satisfaction of …well…nothing, I guess (although she’s gotten really good at dialing a phone every Monday afternoon; something totally unique to add to her resume).
She’s hunted for a new job but has come up dry so, being an awesome mom with lots of fabulous advice, I told her that times like these call for creativity and ingenuity. Since she has an artistic knack and is pursuing a fashion major anyway, she began selling shoes and swim cover-ups – really cute ones — that she decorated for both kids and adults. She’s sold dozens but is still pretty much hyperventilating at the prospect of being short on cash this coming school year (She’s a fashion major. Duh. She needs money for trendy new clothes, makeup, and assorted baubles).
Not to worry. She continued her enterprising ways… and cleaned the change out of all of our car’s coin holders, dug deep into the bowels of the family room sofa cushions, and belly crawled under her bed. She resurfaced with $22.46 in change.
Have your kids, come up with some ingenius ways to earn money? If you have college-aged children, what have they done to earn a buck or two or are they struggling to find work, also?
If you’re a manager or owner of a store or business and you understand (cough, cough) where shops like “Jan Sailor Toft” and “Airball” are coming from with the overhiring thing, scheduling employees for zero hours, the absurd call-ins, or cancelling shifts please share. I’d love your perspective on the situation.
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