Windshield duet

Writer Beth Mende Conny's meditationRainy and cold, in the 50s but feels like the 30s. Grey skies have a way of deceiving the body.

Bundled in a heavy jacket, I sit in my car waiting for the light to change. My iTouch is playing, but I don’t know the song’s name or artist. It’s one of those wild-card songs a friend has passed along and swears I will love, even though she, herself, doesn’t know the singer or title. But it’s a catchy, indeed, sunny tune, and for a moment my windshield wipers swish to its beat.

I love when this happens, this sudden alignment of music and mechanics. For a few seconds, life feels purposeful, everything in sync. Magical.

But then the light changes and my wipers get wacky, and I’m back to feeling cold. Nonetheless, I know that if I am patient and attentive, I’ll hear the wipers cycle back and play in time to the music, a miraculous duet.

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The Techno-eeek

Here I am learning how to take a pic of myself with my iPhone.

I am writing this post not to share a thought or experience or to achieve some goal but simply to get over my fear of writing a post.

I’m not afraid of the words themselves. I’m a writer, after all; I live and breathe words. It’s the damn techno stuff: the choosing of categories and tags, the scheduling and uploading, the cringing when I realize I’ve linked to the wrong site or posted a photo that have nothing to do with my subject matter.

What can I say? I’m a techno-eeek!

I am of a generation who remembers when a “mouse” was still a four-legged creature and “Pads” were things you wore when you got your period. I remember the feel of a pen in hand, it’s fits and starts and strike-outs; the precision required to fold a sheet of paper in neat, sharp thirds so it fit snugly into an envelope. (For those who don’t know what an envelope is, think of it as a really, really small, flat, paper pillowcase with a flap.) And I remember chaperoning my envelope to an actual mailbox, confident it would get to its destination, be it crosstown or cross-country. Continue Reading →

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What makes a wisdom tooth so smart?

Do the questions your kids ask leave you sputtering, stuttering and groping for answers? Well, sputter, stutter and grope no more. Here are pat, authoritative answers to some of their most common inquiries:

Question: What makes a wisdom tooth so smart?

Answer: That’s an excellent question, and I’m sure your father would love the opportunity to answer it. Run along and find him.

Q: Where did I come from?

A: The mall.

Q: Can I have a baby brother?

A: Start saving up your allowance and we’ll see.

Q: Why do I have to clean my room?

A: Because the Environmental Protection Agency has just added your room to its Superfund list.

Q: You said I came from the mall; my friend Mary says she didn’t. How can that be?

A: Well, I guess you’re old enough now to know the truth. Mary’s mother shops at the more expensive stores downtown. Continue Reading →

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Staying upright

by Beth Mende Conny © 2012

My sister and I grew up in a two-room apartment on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. My mom was a single mom and this was all she could afford. I mention this not to tug on your heartstrings but to get you to imagine how tight space was.

Understandably, my mom had to set limits on the number and types of toys my sister and I could have. Stuffed animals, board games, skates — no problem. A bike? No way.

But it was also no big deal. None of my City friends rode bikes. We had just as good a time skating, playing tag and handball, and climbing monkey bars.

Flash forward a few years. I’m a junior in college and have transferred from a City college to one in Upstate New York, and I am surrounded by kids who grew up in suburbs and small towns. They all know how to bike ride. They ride to and from campus, to the mall and parties. They even ride in groups, just to hang out.

It was embarrassing to not do what most kids learned to do at age five or six. With the exception of my best friend, Madge, I kept the secret to myself and made excuses when people asked if I wanted to ride somewhere.

Flash forward a year. It’s my birthday, and I’m feeling the need to mark it in a significant way. But how? I’m considering my options as I pass a bike stand on my way into the Student Union. Among the dozens of 10-speeds is an ancient three-speed Schwinn with a for sale sign: $25. I, of course, am not an expert on bikes, but it’s got a seat, handlebars and two wheels, and I think: “Well, this is my birthday, and I am looking for something significant …”

I tracked down the girl who owned it—she happened to be working in the student health food coop—and I bought it on the spot.

Next, I tracked down Madge and she agreed to ride it home for me. (We lived off campus, and there was no way I was going to attempt my first bike ride in broad daylight.)

Later that night, when I was sure most people were in for the evening, I walked my Schwinn to a side street, lowered the bike seat so that my sneakers were flat on the ground and just sat. And sat. And I kept wondering: How could two wheels hold up one body? What if I fell?

I thought about friends, bike riders all, who were taller and heavier than me who managed to stay aloft, and I could think of none who had ever broken an arm or run off of the road.

“Oh, what the hell,” I thought and began coasting, lifting my sneakers a couple of inches off the ground to get a feel for how things worked. Up the block, down the block. Again and again. Then I put one foot on the pedals. Up the block, down the block. Again and again.

And then the moment of truth. “Now or never,” I thought. But really what I was saying was, “Stand up to the fear, or walk away.“ The thought of walking instead of riding away was unacceptable. I would lose self-respect.

I kicked off, coasted a bit, put both feet on the pedals and then — a miracle. I rode. Up the block, down the block. Again and again. Simple as that. The Schwinn held me upright. I didn’t break my arm. And I understood, truly understood, how wishing and doing can be a life-changing duo. They create momentum. They engender faith.

Now, by way of disclosure, let me say this: Bikes still scare me. I don’t ride often, and I keep my seat low so I can brake with my feet if I have to (and have a death wish). I could try to get over this fear but I’ve got others to deal with. I have, in fact, a hierarchy of fears, and I’ve got to pick and choose my battles. Bike riding is not one of them.

Still, I remember the momentum, the wind softly brushing my cheeks — and how two measly wheels, powered by faith, can keep a person upright.

 

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Enjoy!

by Beth Mende Conny

Life is a gift, bow-tied and ready to be opened. There, nestled in tissue paper, is your true self aching to be enjoyed. Enjoy.

Also to be enjoyed: A free downloadable of this art and quotation (right click to save to your computer). Fits a 4 x 6 frame.

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