Wednesday, February 11, 2009


i did hear a loud pop; but i made a mental excuse for it.
and then i heard a hissing sound.. the exact same sound as when my car tire rolled over broken glass some ten years ago, and was going flat

but i made a mental excuse for the hissing too, and just kept going. gave the kind man at the gas station my bankcard and filled the tank.

only the hissing sound got a little louder, and my son said, "where is that sound coming from anyway?" -forcing me to take a closer look and listen.

"nope. it's not gas going through the pumps.. i wonder what it is?" -and i leaned in toward each tire on my hybrid, until

"FOUND IT! hey kids.. you might want to call your friend and tell her we're gonna be a little while."

apparently i had driven over some large chunk of very sharp metal debris left by a construction truck or something. there it was.. this big chunk of mysterious sharp silver sticking 2 inches in and 2 inches out of my driver side front tire creating a hisssss sound the likes of a dozen snakes in heat or hungry. (or angry? whatever makes them make that sound..)

and i had four kids in tow. four kids all anxious to get to the mall and spend some hard earned cash. "now what?" my daughter cries, all put out of shape, "how long is this going to take?"

and i said.. "don't know sweetie.. could be hours, could be days, could be weeks. hard to tell write now. but i tell you this.. far as flat tires go, couldn't happen on a nicer day or in a nicer place."

and that's the truth. my truck was safely stuck at the beautiful, historical coast gas station on main street in downtown pleasanton. so my daughter and her 2 friends were free to walk around and shop, and my son and i sat on a bench outside of sincerely yours gift store with a couple fresh hot slices of vegetarian from new york pizza across the street.

sit, eat, walk, shop. -and "help is on the way!"

the saturn vue hybrid does not come with a spare tire, but i do have road-side service, and after yelling "flat tire. flat tire! FLAT TIRE! FLAT TIRE!" into the computerized recorder twenty times, a real human being answered my call and sent a tow truck our way.

that's when things got interesting. scary~interesting.

my daughter and her friends thought the whole thing was quite fascinating and clicked away pictures with their phone cameras, and created mini-videos with their flip video camera thingies, but i kept feeling nervous

there was somethin' not write.. about the tow truck driver. but i couldn't name it. he looked professional enough.. he seemed to know what he was doin' -but there was no paper work involved; none. zero.

he didn't ask my name, for my drivers license, he didn't ask for me to sign anything. -just loaded my truck on his tow truck, explained how he couldn't fit all of us, and asked where my truck should go.

"the saturn dealership in dublin," i told him.

and he just kind of stared at me.

"do you know where that is?" i asked him

"no," he says, all mysterious. "i don't usually work this area"

"well, do you want me to tell you how to get there?" i ask

"no. i'll find it."

and we were eye to eye.. but it all seemed so strange. "don't you need me to sign anything?"

"no." -all mysterious again.

and before i could say much more, he had his engine running and was ready to go. so i gave some directions anyway as he drove off

watched my sweet, precious little black hybrid disappear down main street with a complete stranger. and no paper work.

my car is being stolen. write now! i thought. it's being stolen. that man has just taken my car to who knows where.. he's probably on the freeway by now, then he's going to tuck it in some big garage where they repaint, change the license plates.. that kind of thing

i just got swamboozled! -and what an idiot i'm going to sound like when the police start asking me questions

"well didn't you suspect something when he didn't ask for your license?"

"no sir.. well, kinda.. i did.. i did. but it seemed like i should trust him. he was in a big yellow tow truck"

"well didn't you suspect something when he didn't ask you to sign some papers?"

"no sir. well, yes.. i was nervous a little bit.. but he had a uniform form on officer! and that big yellow tow truck.. he seemed legit"

and i imagined the look on the officers face as he looked at me with pity and disbelief -how could you have missed that?! he's thinking

meanwhile.. a real phone call comes in. it's the dispatcher following up on my call for help. she says, "the tow truck driver should be there in about 18 to 20 minutes"

and this is when I KNOW for sure my beautiful black hybrid has been stolen by a fake tow truck driver in a fake tow truck driver shirt. oh my God.

in a high pitch, nervous whisper i say, "he was already here?."

and she responded pretty cool about the whole thing, she said, "okay.. that's faster than we thought, just wanted to make sure service arrived" -or something like that. -and then i knew she was in on it too.

some savvy criminal mastermind messed with the phone lines.. made service calls go to a different number.. had a fake tow truck, fake tow truck driver and a garage with a pit crew of criminals waiting to kick into action

i just got screwed by an incredible car-stealing operation and so now what? now what?

i called saturn. "hey.. can you guys do me a favor and call me when my truck arrives. -and can you let me know how long before the shuttle guy gets here.."

and the saturn shuttle guy.. jeremy. the man who was supposed to pick us up and get us to the saturn dealership. -he was taken his sweet, sweet, time. claimed the other shuttle guy got laid off.. "i'm the only one," he tells me, "i can pick you up after i finish my lunch"

"after you finish your lunch!" i don't say, "my truck is 60 miles down the 680 by now!" i don't say either. how many people are in on this anyway?

because in the streets i come from, jeremy is obviously the ring leader. -my mind goes back to the gym i once belonged to.. yeah. it looked like a gym. acted like a gym. took your cash for membership like a gym. -let you take a few step classes like a gym, but then;

gone. just like that.

the whole gym was gone! wednesday people were on the bikes, and the treadmill machines, i was dancin' to my hearts content in the step class with some 20 others, and then thursday

"why won't the doors open?" -and i leaned in to get a better look through the glass windows and the en-tire place was empty. nothin' but ripped up carpet, and not much of that.

they up and ran with everyone's membership money! the whole gym just disappeared! -and after the shock of it, came the amazement: how could anyone lift and move all that equipment over night? how many were there? how clever.

anyway.. they never found 'em, the gym money thieves. no one got any money back; just another one of those tough life lessons. -and based on the amazing feat of those criminals, a fake tow truck car stealing operation seemed like, why not

and so i prepared for the worse when jeremy finally arrived. -and i told him how nervous i was.. that my imagination was getting away from me

and my only little bit of hope came from how he laughed at my story. but that was it. he laughed a little. he didn't, i must point out, say anything like -that could never happen.

"hey girls," i hollered to the back seats, "did you get the tow truck driver and the tow truck on your flip video camera thing?"

and they did. -so at the very least, i would have pictures for the police officers.

but THANK GOD i didn't need pictures, videos or eye-witness testimony, because just shy of arriving at the saturn dealership they called me to confirm my truck had arrived.

and there she was, all shiny, black and beautiful, just as i had last seen her..

the girls.. my daughter and her two friends.. they took this time at the dealership to pose and model in the various convertibles and take lots of pictures

hit up the vending machines for candy.. chit chat.. text each other, antagonize jack, the outnumbered boy.

i, meanwhile learn, that the tire my truck needs is not in stock, will have to be ordered, and therefore a rent-a-car must be ordered. -and they were about to give me the old song and dance from service days past.. about how they don't have any saturns .. "they all went out this morning.." -so i'd end up with a puny, smokey smelling, used steel box on wheels from an outsourced rental company

i said, "you said that last time.. that's the same story i heard before"

and so, to his credit, he hopped on the phone to the dealership write next door. -and after some basic paper work, i left with one very happy boy and three middle school girls all giggling, screaming and snapping pictures in our new black H3 hummer.

polar opposite in every way but color from my little saturn hybrid.

"turn up the music mommy!" "roll down the windows!" "don't you love it!"

and i said,

"turn down the music! roll up the windows! everyone be quiet and very still. i have to concentrate!" -and i real careful adjusted the sideview mirrors; real careful adjusted the rearview mirror. tried my best to acclimate to all the buttons and knobs

and i tried to pull out, but it looked like i might take the front off of another hummer in the lot, so i had jack get out and help me navigate. then another man came over to help me manuever out.. and then with a little turn here, and a tiny bit of gas there

i went up over a curb but otherwise got us out safely.

and we were three hours late, but we picked up the third friend still patiently waiting and made our way to stoneridge mall for the president's day sales.

"mommy! you have to pick me up from school in this!" my daughter shouts

"you are not the car you drive!" i said. -and i tried to recite my own poem which would have been quite impressive and perfect in the moment; but that was the only line i could remember

besides.. ever~green, beloved. -so i just gave up.

it was really fun to see them all so excited. -made the whole flat tire and my over-active imagination a strange type of blessing.

adventure & pictures for them; story for writeous mom.

and the way it ends.. is like this:

the very next day, i returned the hummer, kissed my hybrid and felt all write with the world again.

the end.

Monday, February 09, 2009

THOUGHTS ON PRAYER by [and for] (me!) sandra, tvgp

i'm not baptised, and until the past couple years, never attended church regularly, am not bible literate, BUT

i have ALWAYS prayed. talked to God about anything and everything. -and not just when i felt desperate or upset, although i do pray with more passion during crisis

but i say thank you prayers, ask question prayers, help others prayers, and even..

"dear God.. unnoble prayer coming through.." prayers. -and i say it anyway.. share my unnoble thoughts and trust God will filter

but i confess a certain guilt when the prayer is for me.. -when i'm praying for the day-to-day for me and not for the life of near death others.

elizabeth gilbert captured this with such authentic charm in her masterpiece memoir, eat, love, pray.

-and i've just tried to find it to quote directly, but it will take too long, i have so much marked up and highlighted-

in short.. she wants to pray for a more peaceful divorce.. but in the face of war, cancer, poverty, homelessness, aids..

isn't it somewhat selfish and indulgent. does not God have bigger things on his heavely and overflowing plate. it can feel silly; embarrassing. and so she gives her prayer many prefaces and preludes of apology and then is out with it..

and i've done the same. "relative to the many simultaneous crises going on.. dear Lord.. this might lean on the selfish, silly side.. but i need your help..."

and i checked with my sister.. i said, "do you think it's okay.. to ask them at church to pray for me, for an agent and a publisher, given the bigger problems.."

and she said, "ABSOLUTELY YES!" -and i really do feel like i could use any and all the help i can get, so i braved the embarrassing and wrote on the connect card and placed it in the offering plate at church last sunday.

and if i can be so honest.. i rather forgot about it after that in the busy~ness of weekday life.

and then just yesterday, i'm sitting and listening to pastor mike, quite invested in the message, smiling at the beautiful doodles my daughter draws on her pamphlet

whispering thank you prayers out loud with everyone in attendance, when my sister turns her pamphlet over and points at my name with a smile

and tears fell immediately from my face. -at the sight of it. the reality that people might actually be praying for me

and i remember not too long ago.. our friends were listed.. john and azi. john had suffered a heart attack.. then had a rare condition of another sort, and complications post surgery after that. i would not be exaggerating to say everyone was apppropriately bracing for the worse.

like sometimes.. the prayer switches from one for healing.. to one for the strength it will take to handle a loved ones passing

and i'm not sure behind the scenes exactly who or how many people from the church were praying, but guess what

john is home today. out of the wheelchair and walking again on his own.. recovering "miraculously"

and i know there are LOTS of people responsible for his healing.. his wife, 911 dispatchers, paramedics, nurses, physicians, surgeons, physical therapists, family, friends, his own drive and desire

but his wife azi said, "couldn't have done it without the prayers." -and i believe that to be true. and i feel compelled to point out also, that they are not members of centerpointe church. azi is muslim, and i'm not sure about john..

but doesn't matter does it. the prayers, meditations, love come unconditionally.

and that's the part i'm trying to remember myself write now:


as in, we don't only pray for you on the condition your life is at stake.

i've come to believe the only condition required for them to pray for you is this:

that you dare to ask.

and praying for doesn't always = getting.

-remembering here when i dared to the front after service for group prayer some time ago.. in crisis again over my livlihood...crying.. asking for help.. and then experiencing an unexpected peace

and the job i hoped for at the time never manifested. -but the tension and anxiety lifted and

i've carried on sense without any sense of great loss or suffering

in fact, i can't remember write now, why it felt so crucial at the time.

my favorite thought has come to be, "God redirects us with loving purpose"

so at the same time i'm praying write now, and asking others to pray for me.. to land a literary agent and publisher; for God to shine through my God-given gift for creative non-fiction

i also surrender. accept that if it happens, it's with God's blessings. -and if it doesn't

it's God redirecting and guiding me with loving purpose.

as is being done for all of us, all the time; this i do believe.

"hallelujah! amen! and thank you!" love, ~s.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

THOUGHTS ON AN ETERNAL LIFE by (me!) sandra, tvgp

sometimes i'm tired. so tired. tired, scared, frustrated, exhausted.

then i sit at church on sunday and the pastor starts talking about eternal life. -how God promises us another life after this one

and i think:

you know. that's not really a good selling point today.