Monday, July 20, 2009

Chickening Out

I swear on a stack of Bibles that this really happened to us tonight…because really, who can make this stuff up?

“What do you want for dinner?” I unenthusiastically ask.

“I don’t care. What do you want for dinner?” My husband echoes with indifference. “Do you feel like Chinese?”

“No!” The biggest yells from the backseat, “I just had Japanese for lunch.”

“I want a restaurant.” The littlest voice pipes in from her car seat.

“You just want chicken nuggets…and we have some of those at home.“ I point out.

“No, I want a restaurant,” she insists.

“What are you going to order at the restaurant?” I query.

“I want…(dramatic pause) chicken nuggets.” She answers honestly.

So, the decision is made that my husband and I are going to get something for us and we would cook nuggets for the kids at home. We pass a sign on the highway for a chicken joint that we used to frequent, years ago, but we often laughed about the fact that they never really had the chicken that we ordered.

“We’d like the 8-piece chicken meal, mostly drumsticks please.” My husband yells out the window.

“Spicy or mild,” the box squawks.

“Mild, please.”

“So 3-piece chicken meal?”

“No, 8-piece meal with mostly drumsticks please.”

“A 2-piece meal?”

“No,” he looks over baffled at me as I try to stifle my giggles. “An 8-piece meal with mild drumsticks.” He enunciates.

“Come to the window please.” The frustrated woman requests.

As we drive around the corner, we cannot help but to laugh at how ridiculous that attempt at a fast-food order was. We get to the window and the woman pulls on her headset explaining that she cannot hear very well. We place our 8-piece order once again and she leaves the window for a minute.

“We only have 3 pieces of chicken right now. It will be 12 minutes for the rest of the order.” She explains.

“I think we should just go get something else.” I lean toward the car window to say.

My husband thanks me for making the decision to abandon the ill-fated trip to the chicken restaurant that too frequently does not have chicken, and we belly laugh all the way back to the highway. As entertaining as our attempt to get chicken was, we are back to our dilemma of needing to find some food for dinner. We head toward our temporary condo home and eventually decide on another fast food restaurant that is one of our favorites. It is known for its chicken bols and burritos and we get excited about our change of craving.

The kids and I stay in the car as my husband heads in with my order. I find myself talking with the kids and I realize that my husband has been gone longer than would be expected. I glance toward the door and I don’t see him headed toward the car, but I note that there are a lot of people in the restaurant. I chat a little longer with the kids and then, sans husband, I look back at the door and I find him silhouetted by one of the windows.

I joke with my oldest, “If they are out of chicken, I will absolutely die.”

Several more minutes pass and eventually my husband emerges with a bag of food and a look of utter disbelief.

He shakes his head as he gets back in the car, saying, “Well, I’m not sure what we’ve got in here, but the good news is, I didn’t pay a dime for it. Unbelievably, they ran out of chicken.”

“What? You have got to be kidding! That is nuts!” I laugh.

My husband told me that he had ordered our dinner and when it was apparent that they were not going to have enough chicken for our order, the restaurant employee offered my husband beef instead, and now, completely out of principle, he told the worker that we were really planning on being able to have chicken for dinner. After he was told that he would have to wait ten minutes, the manager informed my husband that our dinner would be free, and for all the effort that we went through for our chicken, it only seems right.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Reading the Tea Leaves

Glasses of lemonade and tea. Check. A plate of cookies. Check. A laptop set to run through power point presentation. Check. Children in the basement with a movie set to go. Check. Manuscript in hand. Check. All that I needed were some bodies to fill the seats we had set up in my grandmother’s living room, and I would be ready to run through my first book presentation.

It is a scene reminiscent of the numerous tea parties I attended that got me here in the first place, but I am the one in the hot seat this time. I am relieved to see some of the faces who attended a tea party at the start of the project, and I’m thankful for the new additions who have come just to listen to the reading. At every research party I attended, I was the note-taker and the interviewer. I never shared my story, nor the darkness that motivated me to make changes in my life, but the readings are the story behind the project.

Each time I read the first chapter I am thrust back to that difficult time in my life and in my marriage, but it does seem to be getting easier each time I let a little more of it go. So much has changed and I am at such a better and happier place than I was six years ago, that I had to reassure my listeners today that I have moved well beyond the malaise of those memories. The chapters after the first one are about how I built back what was broken and mended what was weak, as well as what I have found that will be important for the years ahead, but that is not what I read today.

I was unaware during the reading that one of the women had started to cry, and I guess when the story is sad, it is an okay thing to evoke that kind of response. Over the course of this project, I have learned to expect the unexpected, and now that I have started the readings, I should be just as prepared for surprises. Some will be better than others, and I have no doubt that, as I diligently pursue publishers, I will be disappointed with rejection, but I feel safe enough to stick my neck out. There are too many women who have supported me along the way to not land softly on those hard rocks ahead. My gratitude is very real for the women who came today and offered words of support and encouragement. This project is moved by the engine of such women, and it is for them and because of what they do for me, that I hope to have a chance to see this book in print someday.