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Fig Newtons

I arrived early for my first day at the L. Community Center, an after-school center in a low-income housing development in Alexandria, to take care of paperwork and get acquainted with the facility before the kids arrived. Miss Angelica, the program director, was setting up a snack on the peninsula counter of the kitchenette. The Capital Area Food Bank supplies the snacks, and they like to make sure there’s some nutritional value. She poured half-cups of Juicy Juice, and set two Fig Newtons on each napkin. When I started to open another box, she told me to wait so we don’t have to waste them. Huh?

Her goal was to get each child to take at least two bites of a Newton.

Apparently, the children are so used to such highly-processed foods (colored, salty, or loaded with HFCS) that Fig Newtons are simply repulsive to them. I was skeptical. I’ve never seen a group of after-school kids who wouldn’t scarf down whatever was in front of them. From Brownie Scouts to Shakespeare Troupe, I’ve been a snack mom enough to think I know from hungry kids! But she was right, of course. While a few of the kids were eager and enjoyed their snack, most had to be cajoled into even having Newtons near them on the table. And I saw lots of rejected chewed up bits on the napkins later.

I’ve heard at least a dozen different languages in most every school I’ve visited, but this little detail gave me a peek at the reality of the very different worlds we live in.

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These things happened today.

My mother slept with a morphine grin on her face after having her hip replaced yesterday.

I sat in the window-seat reading a stream of consciousness first-person description of the 1945 Dresden firebombing.

Miss Charmichael, the Alzheimer’s patient across the hall who doesn’t know that she had surgery or why she’s in the hospital, continued to cry, “Oh, it’s oh. Oh, it’s oh. Oh, it’s oh.” in that voice that’s somewhere between the sound of a child, an elderly person, or perhaps a cat.

Farther down the hall, Mr. Price was having his first physical therapy session and screaming with every move.

This was probably the time for me to take a little walk to the lobby for some coffee.

When I got back, people were running down the hall. Code Blue in room 515. I stood and tried to be invisible as doctors, nurses, and technicians sprinted by. A woman in street clothes stood blank-faced and crying in the hall.When I finally got by, and back into my mother’s room, the last one on the hall, she was still sleeping peacefully.

I came home tonight to spend a night in my own bed. As I was leaving the hospital, dark had just fallen on a hot and humid day. The lavender beds were freshly mulched with pine and their scent was rising. I sat on the sidewalk and put my face into them to breathe my first real air in 36 hours.

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You know your life has changed when you get upset because your schedule can no longer be arranged around your afternoon nap.

I'm still here, and thinking, but no time for writing in the blog. I don't want this blog to turn into one of those in which we read about the excruciating details of someone's boring daily life. I've gotten a commission for a large number of knitted baby hats, as well as a couple of freelance publications jobs on tight deadlines. And since one thing I cannot do while I knit is read, and I get paid for both types of work when the job is done, my time is tight.

I'm cooking some ideas for future writing in the back of my mind, though, while I'm doing the mindless stuff.

Hey! Now would be a great time to set up your feed, if you don't already have one, so you'll know when all of your favorite blogs are updated. Just click the button under SUBSCRIBE in the sidebar. ==>