Thursday, December 13, 2012

Steffanie's Shoes

Last Friday night, my friends and I went to a party for work, which was lavishly decorated with edible decor.  My friends Lisa and Steffanie stood before one of the tables, admiring the chocolate artwork that would be thrown in the trash at the night's end. After hearing Lisa admire the shoes, Steffanie waited until her friend was no longer looking and charmed a staff boy, about 18 years old, to let her stuff this gigantic high-heeled dessert into her purse, which she presented to Lisa later as a gift.  "Let's eat it!" Steffanie said later at a small after-party gathering. "We'll cut it up and have a piece. It would feed all of us."  Lisa, ever nostalgic, said, "No, we should preserve it forever. Put it in the freezer."  "Why wait?" Steffanie said, with a shrug of her shoulders.

This small story hopefully tells you a lot about Steffanie Ross.  At 25, she worked with the mentally ill while saving money to go to graduate school to learn more about people with disabilities so that she could become an advocate.  She did not wait for someone to fill the shoes she knew needed to be filled.  She saw a need, and she addressed it.

On Monday, while Steffanie was delivering papers to one of her mentally ill patients, that patient stabbed her and left her in the street.  Shortly thereafter, she died.

The problem with memorializing someone is that the writer almost can't help but gloss over the details that made that person "real."  The memories you have of the deceased turn into Chicken-Soup-for-the-Soul fodder.  The result is a kind of untrue, saint-like story of what made a person human.  Besides the grief, that's the reason I hate funerals.  So I'll tell you a few other things about Steffanie too, and when I'm dead, I hope you do the same thing for me.  She had a mutt-collecting addiction.  She cried whenever she saw horses, and if we ever passed a horseback riding establishment, I'd have to listen to a 15 minute tirade about animal abuse, no matter how many times I'd heard the same speech before. One of her favorite pizzas was this pistachio pie I always found gross.  She liked Fifty Shades of Grey for reasons none of us could understand, and she had a soft spot for curmudgeons like my friend David, her partner, whom she met on an internet dating site.  She was constantly searching for a different story about how they met to tell people, but she could never come up with a convincing one.

I'm not sure why I've told you any of this, except that I want you to know there's a hole in the world now.  That there are shoes to be filled that can't be.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Midget Tyrant's Shoes

So it's been about a year and a half since my last post, and the reason is simple: I had a kid.  So, any spare time I had was spent -- hahahahahaha spare time. That. is. hilarious.

There's no way I can really retrace what has happened in the last year or so, so I'll start with today.  I'll start with shoes.

My son is 15 months old now, and the only word he can say clearly is "shoes."  Admittedly, this is adorable, but it's also a source of confusion. Most of my conversations with my son sound something like this:

Me: Jackson, do you want a banana for breakfast?
Jackson: SHOES!
Me: I don't understand. You have shoes on. Do you want toast?
Jackson: SHOES! SHOES!
Me: Maybe you want soybeans and steak!
Jackson: SHHHHOOOEESS! This is usually said as he tries to fall out of the highchair, reaching for the blueberries I'm eating on my plate.

If I let him down, having watched him stuff a bowlful of roasted carrots down his pants, he'll march into the pantry and point directly at the Cheerios box.  "Cheese" he says, turning to me. I test him and give him cheese rather than cereal, which he smashes between his tiny fingers and rubs into the floor.  Exasperated with my ignorance, he points to the Cheerios again and says louder,  "CHEESE!" He sounds a lot like a punk kid talking to an elderly person who refuses to get a hearing aid.  I get a vision of life 60 years from now.  If I don't respond quickly, he usually mutters "Dee-snatch" and gives up.  I'm not sure what "dee-snatch" is, but I'm guessing he deserves a swat on the backside for saying it. 

This routine repeats itself often in my household.  My kid has reached a point where he knows what I'm asking but he can't say what he wants or needs. This causes him so much frustration that he picks up his fat little feet and stomps around the dining room in a circle for a while, only to come to a halt before me in the kitchen, his hands behind his back like a really tiny diplomat, waiting.  Andrew calls him the "midget tyrant."

We recently taught him baby sign language for "all done" which has kept him from launching his plate across the room to signal he is finished with his meal.  This came in handy at the end of a 10 hour day at Disney when, totally exhausted, Jackson turned to us as we waited to ride a Mickey Train and waved his tiny hands in the air close to his face.  He couldn't speak but I finally got what he was trying to say. "All done," he was saying. "All done with this heat, this crowd, these tired moms and dads and babies."  "Me too, kid," I said. And it was nice, for both of us, to be understood.