Friday, April 23, 2010

Current Events

Current Events

By Allison Adams 04-19-10 / Submitted to The Greeneville Sun on 04-19-10

Those of you with college-aged kids know that this time of year is their “Crunch Time”.

They are facing deadlines for research papers, class projects, and required convocation hours. As a result, they are sleep-deprived … even more than normal.

They are in the middle of strategic negotiations with next year’s prospective roommates for next year’s prospective housing.

They are using the barter system and living on pocket change because they’ve already spent every penny from this semester’s Campus Cash card.

Meanwhile, the ugly Final Exam Monster lays waiting for its next victims.

No pressure.

Last weekend, when I showed up at my daughter’s dorm room for a quick visit, I was not really surprised to discover that she was in dire straits.

When I asked if I could visit her restroom after my long drive, I learned that she and her roommate had run out of toilet paper days earlier, and were borrowing on an as-needed basis from the next-door neighbors (who were also running dangerously low).

Her printer cartridge was out of ink, so when she needed to print a document from her computer, she sent a few SOS text messages to friends, and then dashed all over campus to find a buddy who could print it for her.

The air conditioner in her car blew hot air. Her bicycle had a flat tire.

She offered me some peanut butter-on-a-spoon, and water from a Brita-filtered pitcher, which I was smart enough to politely decline.

She said she was too busy with schoolwork to take care of superfluous items like car repairs, and a flat bicycle tire, or shopping for food, printer ink, and toilet paper. She said she was living inside a bubble filled with school-induced stress and strife.

Woe was she.

“At least you’re not Polish.” I offered.

“Wha ….?”

“The Poles – well, actually the whole world – is mourning the loss of Poland’s president, his wife, and dozens of Poland’s top political and military leaders. They were among 96 passengers who died in an airplane crash. They were on their way from Poland to Smolensk, Russia, where they were to attend the first ceremony to honor the memory of 20,000 Polish who were massacred there 70 years ago. The irony in this tragedy is not lost, as this was the first time in history that the Russians had acknowledged this anniversary.”

“That’s horrible!”

“Yes, it is. And now there are world leaders who are trying to get to Poland to pay their respect for the lost, but many can’t get there because of the volcanic ash cloud.”

“Wha …?”

“There was a huge volcanic eruption in Iceland. Among other things, it produced a gigantic cloud of volcanic ash, which has invaded a good bit of the earth’s northern-most atmosphere, making air travel impossible in some areas.”

“No way!”

“Not since 9-11 has there been a larger air-traffic shut-down. Thousands of people are stranded in airports all over the world.”

“That’s awful!”

“Yes, it is. That natural disaster seems to have temporarily eclipsed the 6.9 magnitude earthquake that took place in China. There, thousands are dead and missing.”

“Oh my gosh!”

“And those poor mining communities in West Virginia are reeling from the worst mining disaster since 1970.”

“I’m afraid to ask. What happened?”

“A mine explosion killed 29 miners.”

“Oh no!”

“Yes. Sadness has also fallen upon the Cherokee Nation. Wilma Mankiller, the first female in modern history to become Chief of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, and the first female to lead a major Native American tribe, passed away earlier this month.”

“Oh, how sad!”

“Yes. It sort of makes the reaction to the whole tomato debacle seem silly – don’t you think?”

“Oh my gosh, what happened to the tomatoes?”

“About 80% of the tomato crop in Florida froze, leaving very little to supply the demand. What there is available now is substandard, and very expensive.”

“The tomatoes froze?”

“Yes, dear. I’m afraid they did.”

“Suddenly the fact that I’ve been living sleep-deprived inside a stress-filled bubble, without a few necessities, seems so trite.”

“Just try to keep it all in perspective.”

“Oh, I will.”

“Now, what do you say we get out of here and go buy you a brand new roll of toilet paper?”

“You just about had me.”

“I’ll throw in a new printer ink cartridge.”


Saturday, April 10, 2010


By Allison Adams 04-04-10 / Submitted to The Greeneville Sun on 04-05-10

“I can explain everything.”

“Sure you can.”

“Well. To begin with it was Sunday morning. You know I don’t do Sunday mornings very well.”
“I am aware that you face certain challenges on Sunday mornings.”

“Challenges? I believe I could manage to land a man on the moon with less difficulty than it takes me to slide myself and my family into a pew.”

“Your family was in the pew on time.”

“Right. Well, technically I wasn’t late. I was just momentarily delayed.”

“Is that what you kids are calling it these days?”

“I almost didn’t make it at all, you know.”

“I know.”

“When I woke up on Sunday – plenty early, I might add – I wasn’t feeling very well.”

“Yes – I know. I’m sorry about that.”

“No problem. So – anyway – I got to thinking about the plans for the morning, and became even more distressed. You know that since it was Easter Sunday, Mahmaw and Papaw had decided to make the 90 minute drive up here so they could join us at church, and then go out for lunch afterward. It was a chance for them to visit with their precious grandchildren and celebrate Easter, too. Easter’s a big day!”

“Yes – I know!”

“Of course you do. Anyway. Mahmaw and Papaw are getting up in years. Coping with change-in-general has become harder for them. Following detailed and sometimes complicated instructions, sticking to tight schedules, all the while managing to maintain a certain degree of flexibility, is more difficult for them than it once was. Add to that their need to navigate the Papawmobile through relatively unfamiliar territory, and you have a recipe for …”

“For an adventure?”

“Not exactly the word I would choose, but I’ll go with it. I was super stressed. Thank goodness my dear husband had taken the bull by the horns and hatched The Plan.”

“The Plan?”

“Yes! It was a covert operation. We didn’t want Mahmaw and Papaw to know that their visit required some strategizing. The Plan involved my husband and at least one of our young-adult children leaving home in advance of the church service. They would intercept Mahmaw and Papaw in the Papawmobile, beneath the church carport. My husband would take over parking the Papawmobile while the designated adult-child escorted Mamaw and Papaw into the sanctuary, using the most easily accessible route – which in our church is no small task, I’m telling you.”

“I am aware.”

“Its all uphill.”

“I know the place.”

“Of course you do. So. Anyway. My husband would meet everyone in the sanctuary after he had successfully parked the Papawmobile. After the worship service, my husband would reverse the plan, and then he would drive them, and any of their precious grandchildren who happened to be involved in the general grandparental herding process, to the next destination.”

“Out to lunch?”

“I know. It seems so, but we really do have our wits about us most of the time.”

“I was referring to the next destination.”

“Oh. Right. Anyway, on Saturday night we all huddled around and listened intently as my husband reviewed The Plan with us. He had thought of everything, including omitting me from having any tangible responsibility for anyone, except myself. Sunday’s aren’t my best day, as I touched on earlier.”

“Sounds rock solid.”

“Yes. It looked really good on paper, but I guess we were so focused on making sure we got our sometimes absentminded Mahmaw and Papaw where they needed to be without major incident, that we overlooked one thing.”

“Making sure you had all of your children present and accounted for?”

“Yes. That would be the thing.”

“How long did it take you to realize you’d left your son behind at church?”

“Oh, you know … not long. We knew it the minute Mahmaw and Papaw pointed out that he was missing.”

“Absentminded Mahmaw and Papaw?”

“Did I call them absentminded?”

“Yes, you did.”

“Sorry, Lord. My mind was absent.”

“You’re forgiven.”

“In hindsight, I guess we should have had vehicle assignments.”

“Couldn’t hurt.”

“I’m thankful that my son was such a good sport about it all. He called us to let us know he’d managed to hitch a ride from church with another family.”

“He’s very resourceful.”

“Let’s just say this wasn’t his first rodeo.”

“Everything turned out all right in the end, Amen?”