Friday, November 13, 2009

Triscadecaphobia? I'm Afraid Not!

Greetings and salutations a grand "Happy Friday the 13th" to one and all!

I realize that for many folks today is a day of potential gloom, doom and otherwise bad things. However, for me, today is a great day as, well first of all, it's Friday and secondly and more importantly, it's one of the few times a year I get to dazzle folks with my use of the word "triscadecaphobia" (a.k.a. fear of the number 13) My favorite teacher of all time, Ms. Sterret Ann Frank, taught me this word some 22 years ago after discovering that my favorite number is, in fact, the number 13. Ever since then, whenever a Friday the 13th rolls around, I smile and think very fondly of her.

Ms. Frank passed away a few years back from Alzheimer's. She was an amazing, vivacious, tenacious and brilliant woman who became a true role model for me. So, in honor of Ms. Frank, today we shall all pause and enjoy thirteen facts about my beloved number 13...both the good and the bad:

1. On Friday, October 13, 1307 the Pope of the church in Rome in Conjunction with the King of France, carried out a secret death warrant Against "the Knights Templar".

2. Christians consider Friday as the day on which Christ was crucified by the Romans.

3. In Ancient Rome, the citizens dedicated the 6th day of the week to their beautiful Goddess Venus. Eventually this day evolved into Friday, and was considered to be the luckiest day of the week.

4. According to Norse lore, Loki was the 13th god in the Norse pantheon. More specifically, Loki was believed to have engineered the murder of Baldr, and was the 13th guest to arrive at the funeral. This is perhaps related to the superstition that if thirteen people gather, one of them will die in the following year.

5. The number 17 is apparently Italy's unlucky number, because in Roman digits 17 is written XVII, that could be rearranged to "VIXI," which in Latin means literally "I have lived" but can be a euphemism for "I am dead." Okay, so this isn't the number 13, but I just wanted to prove that not everyone hates the fear other numbers. HA!

6. It is the smallest integer with eight letters in its spelled out name in English.

7. In Hinduism, on thirteenth day of death a feast is organized. It is believed to be organized for the peace of the departed soul.

8. In Judaism, 13 signifies the age at which a boy matures and becomes a Bar Mitzvah.

9. Triskaidekaphobia, as a word, was coined in 1911.

10. Friday the 13th has been considered an unlucky day since the 1800s. Geez, you'd think we'd get over it by now though, eh?

11. Alex Rodriguez (began wearing it upon joining the New York Yankees), Dan Marino and Wilt Chamberlain all wore the number 13.

12. Colgate University also considers 13 to be a lucky number. They were founded in 1819 by 13 men with 13 dollars, 13 prayers, and 13 articles. In fact, the campus address is 13 Oak Drive in Hamilton, NY and the all men a'cappella group is called "the Colgate 13."

13. I was 13 years old when I skipped school the one and only time in my life. According to legend though, my Mother knew I wasn't there in under 13 minutes after the first period bell rang. Drat!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Life's Lessons

If there is one thing I've learned as a parent it is that I grow as a person right along with my kids. For me, this week has been a true testament to that theory of thought.

The week started out great! All kids were dressed and ready for school Monday morning in record time! Now knowing how OCD I am, you might think every day runs this smoothly, but alas, we don't typically hit our collective Girl Power groove until about Wednesday most weeks; so to have us all in synch and moving along like a well oiled machine on a Monday morning was a treat indeed!

However, my excelling Monday dreams were dashed around 12:20 p.m. when my cell phone suddenly began vibrating and the name of one of my daughter's school appeared in the caller id. "Uh oh!" was my first thought! The very calm school nurse on the other end of the phone explained that my daughter had taken a hard fall on the playground while running and jump roping. Most children would dare only attempt ONE of those tasks, but not my over-achieving, take no prisoners sir!

I quickly got someone to cover my 1:00 p.m. meeting, loaded all my stuff in the car and drove as quickly as possible, within the posted speed limits of course, to her school. Upon arrival I gazed upon the most pitiful of sites for a mother...a little one, who clearly had just composed herself a few moments earlier, sitting in the nurse's office bandaged up with an ice pack on her eye.

After gathering up my child and all her belongings, I took her home and got her all situated on the couch for an afternoon of recovery. Movies....check! New ice pack....check! Tylenol....check! She snuggled up to me and began the recovery process while I finished my workday from the house. By 6:00 p.m. that evening she was right as rain and was proudly sporting a lovely purple and blue eye.

The next afternoon when she got home, she asked to go outside and play with her friends. "Sure baby," was my reply. I began reminding her of the boundaries of playing all know the drill I'm sure...."stay between our house and the black car", "don't go in the street", etc. My daughter, very politely, cut me off by placing her hand on my arm and said, "Mom, I know it's hard to let me grow-up, but you're going to have to try some time."

Sigh, and there it was! THE moment I had been dreading and hoping wouldn't arrive until my child was at least 30 years old. Mom? Not Mommy? Wasn't this the same child I had just nursed back to health 24-hours earlier? Wow, apparently she's not a baby any more.

Two days prior to this moment, she announced to me that she had discovered "the truth" about Santa Clause and the Tooth Fairy. As I sat there pondering the moment, I began to acknowledge all those little hints that I had been denying up to this point: picking out her own outfits (which now resemble outfits I've seen on Disney and not a Gymbore catalog), fixing her own hair, refusing to hug me in public, etc.

I guess you could say this was a trail blazing week of new adventures and experiences for both of us then. She took another tumble along the path of growing up and learned a valuable lesson about concrete, and I took another step towards letting go a little bit more in order to allow her to live and grow via her own path.

Just as learning not to run and jump rope is often a lesson one can only learn through personal experience, as is the lesson of embracing the gradual process of accepting that my little girl is growing up.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Fall-ish In Dallas

Yep, it's that time of year's Fall in Dallas; my favorite time of the year! Fall in Texas is a different thing than Fall up in the Northern states. No here, the leaves don't change into vibrate reds and oranges before they get gently swept away by the incoming crisp Arctic blows. Here the leaves hang on until about mid-November and then give up and over the course of about, oh I don't know, a weekend, die and spiral to the ground in an uninspiring mess.

Nope, you can't use the leaves as a gauge here because Nature works a little differently in Texas. Around here, we don't really have what most would call "the true four seasons". Always needing to be bigger, we don't settle for just four seasons; instead we have six "temperature and activity ranges". I guess if you had to compare it to places that have "the true four seasons", it'd go something like this:

Spring - A four week period when it's about 80 degrees and it's truly beautiful and enjoyable to be outside; flowers are in bloom and the air is amazing! Women get pedicures, men begin preparing their grills and children begin clamoring for the pools to open.

Post-Spring - A four week, Texas only season, observed when the rest of the country is still enjoying moderate temperatures and we begin crawling into the 90s and sneezing all over the place because everything is truly in bloom now. The pools are now open and conversations are beginning to compare droughts of years past as residents brace for the upcoming months.

Summer - The sixteen week period in which the damn mosquitoes are frigging everywhere and the air is sick with the smell of Deep Woods Off! It's so hot that all most women can muster is a ponytail and flip-flops for "dressing up". Children only hit the pools during the early morning and late evening hours because, well, the water is virtually boiling...but hey, for some reason it's a great excuse for men to BBQ! And I mean why're already hot, why not hang out around a grill loaded with a multitude of marinated meat?!?! It is during this period that thermometers in these parts will max out some where around 104 and most Native Texans will begin harking for the return of Winter in order to catch a break from the oppressive heat and drought.

Post-Summer - The eight week period directly behind the never-ending drought previously referred to as "Summer" in Texas. This is the period in time when our temperatures fluctuate between 98 and 75 on any given day and every cricket within 1,000 miles will magically migrate into our great state and begin camping out on the sidewalks, streets and entryways of our buildings and homes. Everything that died, or went into Summer-hibernation, during the previous sixteen weeks due to drought will suddenly wake back up because it will start raining as if ordered by Noah himself. We will all once again begin sneezing all over the place as if it were Spring due to the sudden re-blooming of everything and the flip-flopping temperatures. In case this still doesn't sound familiar to any of you, this section of time is sometimes better known by it's more formal and beloved name of "The Beginning of Football Season"!

Fall - The two week period when it is once again amazing to be outside and we are finally safe from any potential pollen, ragweed or other hay-fever inducing particles. Women will ditch the pony-tail look and will once again begin to curl and straighten their hair as there is no longer a fear of instantly frizzing when stepping outside due to the heat and humidity. During this time men will begin preparing for hibernation during what is commonly called "post-football season" or "football draft season".

Winter - Ahhhh Winter...yes here this is known as the 18 week period when everything will once again die, including the mosquitoes and bloody crickets, and we will break out our heavy coats and sweaters (because to us 40 degrees might as well be the actual temperature for freezing water). Children will begin praying for "ice days" and school closings. It is during this time of year that you will most often hear Native Texans spouting the question of "Geez, how many more weeks until Summer is back?"