Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What's Your Story?

by Amy Platon

After dropping my daughter off at school, I came home to an empty house. And for a writer that is pure gold.

But today, I just had too much to do. So I couldn’t indulge. There were bills to pay, beds to make, clothes to fold (then put away). So when I got home, I knew I had to get busy fast in order to have a few minutes to write at the end of the day. Only fast didn’t feel likely, since I worked the night before, sluggish was a little more my mood.

So, I walked into the kitchen to the sound of the dishwasher working away at cleaning the dishes. I forgot that I had turned it on before I left, which I rarely do. Usually, I run the dishes at night.

But there was something consoling about the washer being on when I got home. It was the sound of - me too, you’re not alone, hey lady - we’re on the same team. That, for a mom, is pure platinum.

So I raced the machine. I tried to get my stuff done before the machine was done with its dishes. And it wasn’t that I wanted to beat the machine, that would be childish and I’m just not that competitive. It was more that I wanted us to be done together. Ok, so I did a teeny victory dance when I won.

But I think really, it’s a sound of things getting done, in progress, on their way that had me motivated to get going. Cause in my mind all I had to do was “finish up” the work, not “get started” on it.

And ain’t that the truth? Finishing up on the work is way easier.

So here’s a little nugget from my mommy bag of advice, if you can leave something for yourself, a little present for the future, then I say do it. Do it often. Start something before you go to bed so that in the morning you only have to finish it up. Leave the washer on, lay out your clothes, just make the sandwich for your kids lunch, so in the morning you only have to finish assembling it.

It’ll have you feeling rich!

Share the wealth. What’s your story?

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Monday, February 23, 2009

New Name, Same Great Stuff!

by Amy Platon

Hello Everyone!

I have renamed the Blog (Hope you like it) and as much as I loved the simplicity of "The Chronicles" I decided that continuity was of greater importance. I have purchased and it will re-direct to this blog also titled Scribble Ink Cafe. Makes it a little less confusing. For those of you who have this blog bookmarked (and nothing screams loyalty like a good old fashion bookmark) you will not need to do anything differently. Nothing will change. I'm starting to get more work in my local writing arena and is a little easier on the brain than the former.

Thanks to all of you who come here to read! I always look forward to your comments!

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Throw It to Me!

by Amy Platon

Have you made a perfect stranger smile lately? Well I have to say, since it’s my night job, I’ve not really felt compelled to try doing it on my days off. So, I guess I was in an especially smiley mood when I did what I did.

As usual, this story takes place in my local grocery store. *Imagine if I really had a life? Oh the stories I could tell.* I was planning to use a competitor coupon that gives me BOGO on fish fillets. To do that, I had to have the fish guy wrap up my three fillets separately. And he did, cause that’s his job.

And, I’m not really sure what came over me, but when he finished wrapping my first fillet in paper, I clapped my hands and held up my palms. He peered over his glasses at me. As if it wasn’t obvious, I shout, “Throw it to me!”

He looked to his left (over his glasses) then launched it right at my chest. I caught it and threw it into my buggy.

My smile was so big that infectious would be an understatement. He had made my day. “I’ve always wanted to do this!” I shouted. PS: Don’t ask me why I’m yelling.

He laughed (out loud) and tossed me the second fillet. “This is just like the fish market!” In hindsight it really wasn’t. I'm in Orlando Florida after all, not the Seattle fish market, but I was totally in the moment.

He threw me the third fillet and smiled his own really-big-infectious-smile and told me to have a good day. “Thanks!” I said and really meant it. “You’re the best!”

And he was the best. Because he played! Like kids, we played, perfect strangers and complete adults - we played.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit, I’m a little crazy - right out in public and all. But this was the best time I’ve had in a while. And even if it’s not your style to do something so bold, I say try! Just once, try it! *Sorry, I'm yelling again. It’s super-fun.

I told you mine, now you tell me yours! Post your comments (here) and share what you’ve done to make a perfect stranger smile!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Live Long and Coupon!

By Amy Platon

I was strolling the isles of my grocery store, enjoying my child-free existence and taking my time, reading the labels, searching the deals, when “What do you think of that dog food?” pierced my thoughts.

I turned around. “My dog has lots of allergies and organic food is just too expensive. I was thinking of trying that one too. Have you used it?”

I looked down at what I was holding. It was the Rachael Ray Beefy-something-or-other Bits . “Oh,” I said, “My dog has allergies too so I just give him beef based food, no chicken. He likes this one pretty good. I’m really buying it because I have a $2.00 off coupon for it.” I said as I gestured at my accordion coupon-file.

The lady nodded and then referenced her coupons.

I couldn’t help but admire her system. This, I thought, was a professional. I knew they existed, but I had not seen one in the wild.

My eyes widened as she flipped through her photo album right to her dog food coupon section. Her system was flawless. Everything was displayed and easily accessible. I was in awe. “Wow!” I said. “That’s quite a system you got there!”

She raised her head, “Oh this, yeah, well I have a family of five so I don’t have a choice. I get them from the paper, Internet, and I buy them.” Appropriate, I thought, coupons feel like family to me too. I should get them an album.

Wait, what? “You buy coupons?”

“Yeah. If it’s a product I’ll use, then I’ll buy twenty of the coupons for like four bucks.” Huh, I thought. I always wondered where the really “good ones” got all their coupons.

So, since I was in the presence of a complete expert, I couldn’t help myself but ask, “Do you ever have any problems using two coupons for the BOGO deals here?”

“Oh no.” She said, “If I do, I march right to Marc (the manager) or whoever’s on, Gary, Ross, whoever, and I tell them they need to get their cashiers trained right. I’ve been doing this since this store opened and I know how it goes. Just, that some of the cashiers are new.”

I nodded my head. “My favorite is when they give me the reason why they won’t accept it. Like it’s a new rule or something.”

(I’m referring to what Tracey and I call the rogue cashier. The one who enforces her perceptions on how couponing should go, not what the store endorses. Rogue. I can say it to my guru and she knows just what I mean.)

“Well,” she said, “You get a manager.” It was just the pat on the back-support I needed. It was the pep talk that the coupon sites can’t give. I was so happy to have another couponer in my own grocery store.

Then it occurred to me, what if we had a symbol, a graphic that would signal to others we’re around. You know like when you waive to other boaters, or other Jeep owners, or other red hat ladies; I mean I guess those ladies waive to one another. Right? Or why would they get all dressed up like that? So anyway, I think I have just the symbol! And until my husband can design it for us, I thought we could have a hand signal in the meantime: Spock’s sticky V fingers…Live Long and Coupon!

The question is, should it be the *real* Spock fingers or the one pictured above? Leave your comments!

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Poetry Anyone?

Wind and Winter
by Amy Platon

He brings me the scent of flowers when we meet again in spring.
And I accept his apology.

I throw open the windows and doors and I invite him in, so he may billow through the linen draped panes.

He fills my mouth and intoxicates my lungs.
I am happy and infatuated,
as he changes me for that moment in time, and I stop to take notice of the day.

I welcome him in shorts and a tank top-but I tie my hair up as if to say no.
Because, I remember for a moment how vicious he is in winter,
and how he will leave me desperate and forgotten in June.

But for that moment, we reminisce about autumn and how he brought me nature’s symphony as it floated through the trees on a cadence he conducted for me.
And how he had me adoring the leaves as they danced and fell like snow to the ground. They scurried across the lawn and against the fence.
They chased away my memory.

In autumn I smiled as he whispered at my neck.
And flirted with my hair.
He caressed my skin and begged the sleeve off my shoulder.
He frisked my skirt and brushed against my legs, like a cat that courts my hand.
I stopped him then to go about my day.
I left him at the door.

And before I realized, fall became winter and he had changed his mood.
The trees stood bare and lifeless. He had stripped them looking for me.
I draped myself in long wool coats, as if to hide from him.
I covered my head with a hat and buried my hands in mittens,
But he already knew the color of my bones.

I escaped for a moment into a toasty coffee shop, but I could still feel him pacing outside.
I met with warmth, and we took a table by the window.
I felt his jealousy peak at the thought of my infidelity.
As I left, he rushed through buildings to be at my back.
And he followed me home.
I slammed the door, shutting him out.

As I warmed my hands by the fire, I remembered secretly longing for summer.
Where in June I will remember him in absence.
When summer’s still air, balmy and thick, has to be pulled by my lungs through my mouth.
He knows I will find myself wishing he were there.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Patriotically Impaired

By Amy Platon
Just after 911 I polled some people for an article I was doing. I didn’t publish it back then, because, well you’ll see.

“I don’t have a flag.”

It struck me off guard. Because in a sea to shining sea of responses, I was getting used to people nearly reciting The Pledge of Allegiance when I asked, “What does the American flag mean to you?” But here was an American man, living in Washington DC no less, telling me he did not have a flag. “Why?”

“I don’t need to wrap myself in the American flag to show my love for my country. Don’t misunderstand me, I support our leadership but the flag, it’s starting to take on the feel of a corporate logo rather than a national symbol.”

The wind picked up. I looked around at the hazy clouded skyline at huge billowing flags on flagpoles, tiny stick flags that flickered on passing cars, and others that draped from buildings barely hanging on. They were begging me to believe in them, any one of them.

The man’s honesty continued. “My emotions are mixed and what I should feel for that flag comes and goes.”

A few years later I looked again at our country’s skyline. That flag I saw hanging was exhausted and battered. It was desensitized, the meaning lost. But we grasped to retrieve it. We propped it up on poles and hoped to give it life again. We blew into it to prove to ourselves it still worked. We taped it, nailed it, stretched it, pinned it, all to say, “See it works. It works!”

Don’t get me wrong, I know the flag we were trying to achieve:

- “I’m in tower one. There’s been an explosion. We’re gonna try and leave. I love you.”
A flag is raised.

- “Ladies and gentlemen go back up stairs. You’re safer there.”
A flag is raised.

- “No ma’am I don’t know what caused the explosion, but it has been contained. Do not use the elevator!”
A flag is raised.

- “Me and two other guys are going to try and stop them. I love you.”
A flag is raised.

Soot blankets everything and everyone. But among the collapsed buildings, gray steel, gray sky, gray ash, a flag is raised.

Even though this symbol, brings us to our knees at half staff, lifts us up in a national crisis, pushes us back as it symbolizes suppression for some Americans, and propels us forward as we defend our right to feel safe in our own country, in that moment a burst of red, white and blue was exactly what this nation needed to see. It evoked emotion from a pure place within us.

It could have been preserved, but then there was that issue of terrorism. Anger descended on us. The need to see only red consumed us. And with our flag displayed like a Superman logo, our government pushed itself through a confused crowd and herded the troops.

Now, we look back at an empty skyline, brush off the tears, and forge on. Our car-mounted flags are long unraveled from the turbulent wind.

I am from that quiet generation, the one that doesn’t speak up unless we’re sure about the answer.

I’m hesitant to say this, but I too didn’t have a flag. I think it’s because I don’t necessarily want to be defined as an American, but rather recognized as a human being and resident of this world. Perhaps that would give my life value to those in other countries. The American flag became for me, a symbol of war. Then I wonder what will our flag mean to us in the future? How will my children see it? Can it evolve? Should it?

So the ruble is gone, and so are the flags. Which has me thinking maybe others are as torn as I am.

But there is a breeze on the horizon. I can feel it. I’m almost ready to fly a flag. But if there were any statement I feel compelled to make it would be to fly a new flag, one that represents us all.

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