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Sally’s Sticky Situation

15 Sep

Sally’s short stubby fingers grazed over the gum packages in the candy aisle at the grocery mart. She touched blazing red packets, tropical fruit covered boxes, and striped rainbow packages.

“What’s it going to be today, Sally?” announced a familiar voice. She followed the voice’s trail and landed on the owner of the grocery store, Margaret, a middle-aged woman who was twirling her long, black, straggly hair.

Sally could never make a quick decision as to which pack of gum she was going to buy with her weekly allowance money. “I’m not sure. I’ve never tried the gum with the fruit in the middle – maybe I’ll try that one this week. But, my friend Tommy told me that this one blows really big bubbles,” said Sally, holding up the Big Chew pack.

“Hmm…that’s a tough decision, Sally,” Margaret answered back, not offering any help to the young 10-year-old.

Sally squeezed shut her big blue eyes, circled her short arm in the air two times, and then pointed to a spot on the rack. This was her reliable method of choosing a pack of gum if she couldn’t make up her mind. Her rounded finger pointed to the pack with the fruit in the middle. She clapped her small hands together and rapidly picked up the pack of gum. Sally’s hand reached up to the counter and plopped down a dollar in change.

“See you next week!” chimed Margaret in unison with the bell above the exit door.

“Bye!” Sally waved over her shoulder as she bursted out of the mart. Sally ran the entire three blocks home and approached the back door of the house, that led to the kitchen, out of breath.
“Where have you been?” questioned Sally’s mother, with a stern look on her weathered face.

“At The Corner Store, getting some gum.”

“Go clean up for dinner. We’re having chicken cutlets and mashed potatoes tonight – your favorite.”

“Yay!” exclaimed Sally as she started to strut up the stairs.

“Go get Lisa – she’s doing her homework.”

Sally’s sister, Lisa, was sprawled out on the floor, next to her unused pine desk, surrounded by papers and books when Sally barged into her room. Sally was only 18 months older than Lisa and they were always mistaken for twins. Their closeness in age and resemblance in looks was as far as the bond between the two of them stretched. Lisa and Sally were always in an unspoken rivalry. Whether it was playing sports, reading, or playing the clarinet – the competitive list between the two could scroll all the way from The Golden Gate Bridge to the Statue of Liberty.
“Hey butt face, Ma said to clean up for dinner.”

“Yeah, yeah. I’ll be down in a minute.”

“You ready for the race this weekend?” Sally was talking about the big track meet that her and Lisa were competing in that Saturday.

“Yep. More ready than you’ll ever be!”

Sally was not as good of a runner as Lisa. Sports – that was one arena that was not her strength. Sally could read Judy Blume’s Superfudge three times over by the time Lisa could finish it once. Sally could breeze through her math and literature assignments with ease that Lisa did not contain. But Lisa – she could outrun Sally any day of the week and that constantly haunted Sally.

After dinner, Sally laid in bed staring at the ceiling filled with glow-in-the-dark stars, contemplating how she could win the race. She rolled over on her side and came face to face with the newly bought pack of gum that neatly sat on her nightstand next to her glass of water.

That’s it! This is my best idea yet! Lisa can’t win the race if she can’t run in it at all! Sally jumped out of bed to grab her sneakers. She walked them over to her night stand and plopped down on her bed. She grabbed the fruit-filled gum and started chewing three pieces at a time. Then she pulled the Pepto-Bismol pink-colored gum out of her mouth and started to stick it on the bottom of the white shoes with sparkly blue laces. She was already through her new pack of gum and only filled one sneaker’s worth with the sticky sweet treat.

Sally glanced over at the pink porcelain pig poised on her dresser. I’m going to have to break into my piggy bank to get the rest of my allowance. I’ll go right after school to The Corner Store tomorrow.

And that was exactly what Sally did to deepen the plot against her sister and Saturday’s race. Margaret, standing as tall as a beam pole behind the cash register, was surprised to see Sally back so soon. Sally always went in once a week, never did Margaret see her two days in a row.

“What are you doing back so soon – the fruit-filled gum was no good?”

“No – it was great! I’m back for more!” Sally ran to the candy aisle, grabbed the gum, put the change on the counter, and ran out the door. She was a whirlwind of energy trying to finish her scheme to make her sister lose at something she never placed lower than first place.

“Bye!” Margaret yelled to the Road Runner image bursting through the door.

When Sally’s family went to sleep that night, Sally climbed out of her big comfy bed and put the new pack of chewed gum on the bottom of the other sneaker. She then tip-toed into Lisa’s room and slithered like a slippery snake into Lisa’s gym bag where she replaced her sister’s star performer sneakers with the rotten gum soled shoes. I got her now, thought Sally with a mischievous smile spreading across her chubby chipmunk cheeks, she won’t even be able to step over the start line.

The next morning was race day. To her dismay, Sally’s gym bag was gone. “Mom, where is my race stuff?”

“I already loaded up the car. C’mon we’re running late. Go brush your teeth. We’ve got to get a move on, girls! Lisa…do you hear me?” Sally’s mother screamed, intending to reach the top of the stairs, but easily could have been heard in the neighboring town.

Sally was nervous the whole ride to the race. She started to feel sick with regret. It was like a wrench was lodged in her stomach trying to tighten up a loose bolt that wouldn’t budge. Maybe she did something wrong. Her sister didn’t deserve this kind of treatment when Lisa never really tried to harm her. There was no turning back now. The victim and her culprit were already on their way to doom.

The car screeched to a halt in the elementary school parking lot. Sally unbuckled her seat belt and grabbed her gear.

“Wait,” whined Lisa, “That’s my bag. See it has my name on it,” Lisa’s long finger was pointing to the black duffel bag.

“Oh, you’re right,” said Sally, who was reluctant to hand the bag to an overly excited Lisa.

Sally was in a cold sweat on the side of the track tying up her laces, while trying to wipe the ice cubed drops falling from her brow. Her sky-blue eyes never left Lisa, who was doing the same thing as Sally, but instead was surrounded by other team mates laughing about a joke someone just told. Sally carefully considered her options and decided she had to tell her sister about the tacky adhesive on the bottom of her glorious sneakers. Sally leapt up and steadily put her shoes on the hot steamy pavement. Within one second Sally’s face hit that same blacktop.

Her evil plot to ruin her sister’s running record backfired like an old truck producing smoke from its tailpipe. What Sally did not know, but figured out in that split second, was that her bag with her personalized name tag was in Lisa’s room the night before. The bags were mistakenly switched from the last track meet and the sticky shoes went into Sally’s bag. Her personal treasure, the gum she desired to purchase each week, became her own worst enemy.

Sally craved for no one to look at her so she could slowly peel her pancaked face off the pavement. There was a ringing in her ears and when she finally cleared the fog out of her eyes, she could see everyone laughing at her. Those weren’t bells in her ears, those were hyena-like shrieks flooding the stadium. Her eyes went blurry with big tear drops and as she wiped her eyes with the back of her bloody hand, she saw another, more polished looking hand in front of her face. Like someone putting a needle to a balloon, Sally slowly let out the air of her lungs.

Lisa looked like an angel to Sally, with a halo of light shining around the crown of her head. Every one’s laughter stopped as they watched the sisters walk arm in arm out of the stadium. Lisa found the closest bench and sat Sally down.

“Are you OK?” asked Lisa with a furrowed brow of concern.

“I’m fine. Thanks for your help back there. Lisa, listen, there’s something I have to…”

“Why in the world is there so much gum on your shoes?!” Lisa shrieked.

“Well, that’s what I was going to tell you,” and with a long pause Sally told the entire truth to Lisa.

“I can’t believe this. You’re my sister. I…I…can’t even believe this…” Lisa stammered.

Lisa started running toward the stadium. The first round of races were about to start, so she jumped in line with the other runners. She broke a personal best and the school record in that race.

Sally missed Lisa’s win that day because she was wrapped in her own self-pity on the lonely bench outside the stadium. After the race, Sally attempted to make amends with Lisa every day but Lisa refused to even look in her despicable sister’s direction.

It wasn’t until a few weeks after the dreadful day of Sally’s decline that she finally stepped foot into the place that brought so much success and joy to Lisa’s life. Touching foot in the stadium was Sally’s attempt to reconcile with Lisa and, in a way, step into a place in Lisa’s heart again.

This track meet was different than race days of the past because Sally wasn’t in her blue track clothes; instead she was sitting next to her parents as a spectator. Sally couldn’t find Lisa and was searching all over the track to see where she stood in line with the other runners. A familiar voice that she hadn’t heard in what seemed like years questioned, “Want a piece?”

Sally glanced up at Lisa’s dark, lean silhouette that was blocking the sun from hitting Sally’s baby blues. Bashfully, Sally looked at the pink pack of gum hanging from Lisa’s long elegant fingers, “Um, no thanks. I gave that stuff up a little while ago.”

With a grin and a nod, Lisa ran off to the track. Sally watched her sister bounce down to join her teammates; all the while, Sally was beaming a wide toothy smile that could have stretched from The Golden Gate Bridge to the Statue of Liberty.

The Woman on Ellis Street

20 Jul

There’s treacherous turmoil written all over her beautiful face
Yet she sits on the scorching sidewalk with such poise and grace
Shoeless, filthy and only her suitcase by her side
She’s fearlessly contemplating how to stay alive

Who’s this mystery woman alone on Ellis Street?
What brought her to this dirty place, in the deadly heat?
Was she a successful businesswoman months ago?
Or a drug abuser that hit an all-time low?
How did she slip and fall among the homeless each day?
What’s stopping her from finding a home, a place to stay?

Embarrassed for her, strangers avert their judging eyes
They dismiss her so not to witness her pitiful demise
No passersby offer her a single slice of hope
They make the mere assumption that, on her own, she can cope

She pays no attention to the soulless people walking by
Instead she gazes off with a sudden spark in her eye
Standing up tall, she snaps her bags in her right hand
She quickly walks toward her own destiny, an unknown land

This mysterious woman is never again seen on Ellis Street
It’s solely hopeful that she conquered her own defeat

A Peace of Mind

16 May

The woman with the ocean eyes is on the train again today.
She is looking out the window and already sailing away
To a place that holds no judgments, hostility or despair
And it is where hatred, cynicism and greed are rare.
How long will it take us to get to where her ocean eyes drift?
Months, years, decades, centuries…if only someone knew the rift…
There is a quick flicker of hope in her luminous blue-green eyes
Looking for a world that will reduce evil’s enormous size.
She snaps back to reality when a stranger lamely begs for change
Realizing the figment of her imagination will never remain.
The sorrowful beggar thinks twice before asking her again for another dime
When he sees her ocean eyes fade and her face shift into another paradigm.
The hopeful woman tries to scream her hidden message across the vast water and land.
She silently yells for a better place that won’t sink deeply into the grainy sand.

Garbage for sale‏

30 Apr

I was walking out of work today and the city was unusually quiet. No one was bustling to their cars like they normally do at 5:15 in the afternoon. The only sound was the whistling of the wind ripping through the vacant streets. The wind was sensationally strong and the sky was painted with a pink pastel. I looked down at my feet and saw I had a piece of newspaper wrapped around my ankle. As I reached down to untangle the comic strips from my once-clean slacks, I saw tons of other trash dancing around the streets – a beer can, a cigarette butt, a drug dealer – no, I didn’t really see that but it honestly would not have been that unusual for downtown Atlanta. As I was saying, everyone’s dirty garbage was swirling around the city at high speeds. People’s vices that typically result from issues with their jobs, school, or relationships were all coming at me like a hurricane.

I know everyone in the world has hardships and I wish I could make all those worries vanish by just snapping my fingers up in the air, saying “Make it work!” like Tim Gunn on Project Runway. But, unfortunately it doesn’t happen like that. Sometimes people have to play the game of life just like the board game – the one with the little blue and pink pegs that are supposed to represent people that cruise around in multi-colored cars, which carries the player from college life to retirement within a matter of an hour. By spinning the wheel continuously in Life, you advance to different spaces and eventually win the game by landing on Millionaire Estates. In real life if you keep spinning the wheel (or keep trying) maybe you will get to a place that will bring whatever your true happiness may behold. If you take care of yourself and find the place that holds your treasure, you will be better equipped to help others in reaching that same point in their life. Thus, we’d have fewer problems and less garbage hanging around.

We all have to keep living day to day by stepping forward and walking toward our vision of life. So, if we have to keep moving forward and we can’t go back in time, why not clean up some portions of our life to make it better along the way?

I think it is time we clean up the streets of our mess and get rid of the trash that is floating around so we can enjoy life a little more. But be sure to flick the speck of dirt out of your own eye so you can see where you’re going and you can better help others. And watch where others are stepping so they don’t end up with the funny pages wrapped around their leg.

Are you there electronic gods? It’s me, Alison.‏

19 Apr

Dear electronic gods,

Everything has been going wrong lately and I need your help.

A few weeks ago, my 2004 black Nissan Altima, who I like to call LaFonda, was acting funny. LaFonda was making a “glug, glug, glug” sound and a jerky motion when I was braking. In case you are a man reading this (because I know we speak a different lingo when it comes to cars), the wheel was shimmying whenever I would come to a stop. Whether you speak the language of Mars or Venus, it turns out that LaFonda needed new brake pads and shoes. Fine, no problem, that happens to all cars eventually.

Well, a few days later I was walking to my car after a long day’s work and I was excited to go release some stress at spin class, but to no avail LaFonda wouldn’t start. Her lights started flickering like something possessed in the movie Poltergeist. Her battery was dead. OK, I know that also happens to all cars eventually, maybe not in the same week as the brakes failing, but I can deal with that.

Seeing as I had a lot of stress in my life due to the car, I got on the treadmill to let out some pent up energy. I was listening to my iPOD and after only a few songs it froze – it turned into an icicle, which didn’t help my workout since it provided about the same level of satisfaction as a sharp piece of frozen water. I tried it a few days later while I was walking on the trail at the park and it did the same thing. It suddenly had become exhausted after playing just the twelfth song. It turns out the iPOD needs the exercise more than myself.

I then proceeded to load a new album onto iTunes even though my iPOD had been hijacked by a demon spirit and would not co-operate. Lo and behold, the computer would not load the entire album because it had run out of disk space. Fifty MEGAbytes left on your hard drive won’t get you very far.

Now, before you go on to believe that I bring this on myself because I am terrible with the way I handle my appliances, let me stop you. I have had the same cell phone for the past two and a half years, which should probably go in the Guinness Book of World Records under “The Last Person in the World to still have a Cell Phone with the word ‘Cingular’ on it.” In addition to that, I have had the same camera for two years, the same microwave for three years, and the same TV for nine years, just to name a few examples. So, even the most skeptical of minds can see that I’m pretty good with handling electronics, contrary to what one might believe.

So, nonetheless, I was on my computer trying to free up disk space and I started deleting programs that I haven’t used in a long time. The computer said that I had not opened Quicktime in four years, so I deleted it. And along with that program, iTunes vanished. Apparently, iTunes runs off of Quicktime – so into thin air disappeared all of my songs.

A few days later I was vacuuming my apartment with the Eureka vacuum that I bought less than a year ago (while singing “Lola, L-O-L-A, Lola” – that song always gets stuck in my head for a few days after hearing it on the radio) and all of a sudden it took its last breath. It was like the vacuum had sucked in all the air it could and refused to finish the chore. The dirt canister was full, so I emptied it out and plugged the vacuum back in, thinking that would solve the problem. But it did not.

Then, the icing on the cake was when I went to use my hair dryer on Monday morning and it would not turn on in any electrical outlet. It, too, had died, may it rest in peace.

So to sum it up, in a few weeks time I’ve had a spastic car, a lazy iPOD, an obese computer, an asthmatic vacuum, and a suicidal hair dryer. Now, I know I did something to piss you off for all of this to happen. But, I did not mean to do any harm to you, electronic gods, or your minion appliances that are so abundant in our everyday lives. So, please, I beg of you, make everything function again. I promise to be a loyal servant in your kingdom of technology. Thank you.

Your appliance-less servitor,
Alison

I see your true colors shining through

13 Apr

There is a significant chance that people’s behavior at the gym correlates with their true personalities. Not one single ounce of their demeanor is masked by false pretenses while working out. I solely base this hypothesis off of my own observations. I was at the YMCA yesterday and as I was getting off the elliptical I see this woman in spandex and a cut-off t-shirt on the bike. She is older than my 24 years of age and probably in her late 40s. Let’s call her Deborah, because I feel like it is appropriate for her appearance. An older woman dressed like someone who just finished an 80s music video usually isn’t an odd sight at 6:30 PM at the gym, but Deborah is doing something unusual that catches my eye. She is pumping her fists in the air as if she is punching out Mike Tyson in the boxing ring and she is speeding on the bike like the Wicked Witch of the West. I brush it off and think maybe she is just having a hard core work-out. So, I go to the women’s locker room to lift free weights. I try to turn on my iPOD and it is dead – no chance of bringing it back to life even for one song – it is completely dead. So I start lifting weights in utter silence, counting the reps in my head: one, bicep curl; two, this is only 10 pounds; three, I wish I was at home right now…and in walks Deborah. She has headphones on and the music is blaringly loud. Her headphones are screaming the words “Let’s get physical, physical…” and above all, it is the techno version. I know this because I can hear the rapid bass through her headphones. So, now I have this mental image of Deborah at the club pumping her fists in the air, with her fingers clenched around glow sticks, as she is moving her feet in the motion of peddling a bicycle, all the while this techno version of Olivia Newton-John’s famous song is pounding a rhythmic beat in the background. I smile to myself because no other song would be that fitting for someone like Deborah. Now, I know you’re thinking that I don’t even know Deb. But, after observing her behavior in the gym after about 10 minutes, I feel like I’ve known her for a lifetime.
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