LIFE: IT HAPPENS!
This column was born out of a comment my editor made about my blog. First of all, let me explain. I call my longtime friend “my editor” because he looks at everything I write with a razor-sharp eye. He can always point out a more concise way to express an idea, or zero in on careless spelling, punctuation, an ambiguity or cliche. The only problem is, it’s usually after I post.
The other day, my editor said, “So what’s the deal? You’re not following your own theme on your blog. If it’s entitled, ‘Amy’s Adventures,’ your readers will expect to read about ‘Indiana-style adventures.’ But now you’re blogging about other aspects of your life. Don’t you think you should change the title?”
I thought about it for a little while and went into protest mode.
“Nope.” I don’t want to change the title of my blog because this is how I view life, whether I’m sharing a story that happened when I lived abroad going on travel escapades, like Indiana Jones ( for example, on my go-native Ecuadorian jungle tour) or I’m relating something that happened yesterday here at home. “I still want to write about the everyday challenges life throws at me.”
Let me kick into dictionary-gear for a moment. Merriam-Webster defines an adventure in a couple of different ways. The first says that it’s “an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks.” The next one defines it as “an exciting or remarkable experience.” These describe my life at home and abroad. My editor insists that my life is filled with more “misadventures,” than adventures. These are simply defined as “mishaps or misfortunes.”
Okay, let’s face it…Life happens.
It’s how we view it that makes or breaks our day, right?
It all boils down to ATTITUDE.
So in this column, I’m going to write about the events that happen (ed) to me that strike me as hilarious, somewhat dangerous, exciting, or a mishap-turned-around. In other words, ADVENTURE-TUDE.
Some stories might be characterized as Indiana-Jones type of adventures while others plainly fall more into the Lucille-Ball category of misadventures. There’s never a shortage of material when you have vision and hearing limitations. God made the human spirit resilient, and, at least in my life, there are very few things that I can’t laugh at–or at least some aspect.
Let me give you an example…I called up a friend of mine and asked how how she was doing. She said, “Same old, same old, putting out lots of fires these days.”
“Yeah, my dishwasher’s broken. Gotta get that f ixed. Then there’s the cable guy. He didn’t install it properly, so he’s gotta come back…”
“Ooooh. I get you. I’ve been putting out fires, too.”
Around 7 am a morning a few days before that phone call, I was heating up some soup to carry to work in my thermos. It so happened I also had a big plastic GLAD baggie, situated precariously close to the burner. As I stirred the soup in my typical careless way, I splashed vegetables and liquid all over the plastic bag.
“Ah!” I said as I slapped the baggie with my dishcloth. The movement caused the bag to float into the burner and it caught on fire, along with the dishcloth trailing behind.
“Oh no!” I searched frantically to locate something to put out the fire.
I grabbed the largest object next to me–a roll of paper towels.
I dropped it as the whole roll caught on fire.
A paper bag! Not sure what happened to my rational mind at that point. I grabbed it and threw it over the baggie. Too late I realized that the white bag contained little blue cut-outs with Spanish expressions printed on each square. The bag flamed up. Everything inside caught on fire!
It had taken me hours to cut out those expressions for the students to work with.
“Ah … Ahhhh! Aughhhhh!” I said flapping the tea towel at the bag.
It only fanned the flame.
Just my luck, the ragged ends of the tea towel caught on fire!
I threw a cool whip container of crackers at it. Bad aim. It ended up between the skewered soup pot and the flame.
The fire was taking on a life of its own. Flames leaped out in crazy designs out of the burner. They melted the plastic. The white bag turned into black charred paper wafting upward.
I let go of the bag, unsure of my next move. My heart thudded against the walls of my chest cavity, sounding like a frenzied Native American drummer pounding out a warning to his tribesmen of an imminent attack.
Too late. Too late. Tooolaaatetootootoolate.
My alarmed screams added to the authenticity of the impending danger.
I scrambled to pull dishes out of the water basin, and tipped the suds and water over the raging orange f lames.
I grabbed the basin, refilled it a couple of inches and doused the remaining flame.
That time the scorched pan, the melted plastics, the burned crackers, a charred light bulb and the many cutouts littered the area. Black charred paper wafted around the kitchen. Even the tip of the cupboard door had melted from the fire.
I gave myself a few minutes to calm down.
My brother wandered into the bedroom. “Did you burn something?”
Mom will have a heart attack if she hears about this mishap. She’ll think I was going to burn the house down. I’ll never hear the end of it. “Um, no. Just some … toast.” I ventured, standing in the doorway to my kitchen, preventing him from seeing the elaborate mess.
“Smells like more than that,” he said, suspiciously. “Are you ready to go to work?”
“Just a couple of minutes. ”
As I surveyed my kitchen, I impulsively grabbed what remained of the charred cut-outs, the light bulb, the burnt cheddar cheese Nips, and a few other remnants, and even part of the soup label. I swept everything else into the sink and covered the dish basin with a towel to hide it.
That afternoon, a few students pulled out the contents from the paper back I’d stuffed everything into. (I’d brought quite a lot to go around). In groups of four and in Spanish, my students had to create a story using the charred remains. One student looked unknown words in the dictionary, another kept track of the time, a third wrote down a simple story they all created and a forth reported it back to the class. They were all hilarious.
Finally, I explained what really happened in simple Spanish.
Lots of animation.
Lots of laughter.
To this day, I don’t know if my bad vision caused the accident, or if I caused it simply by my careless placement of the plastic baggie or fanning the flames by the paper products…or all three.
I’m certainly not downplaying the dangers of fire and navigating carefully around the kitchen.
I’m just coping with everyday life.
It had all the elements of an adventure … danger, excitement, unknown risks, even financial risks (regarding the cupboard door and burnt pan). Of course, the misadventure leaped out of the experience, too, along with the flames.
I’m so grateful God quickly gave me the creativity to spin it into a usable activity for my Spanish class. Flying by the seat of my pants. They had to incorporate the remains of those Spanish words in their story, which brought a lot of giggles. I also could share my own clumsiness with my students–which allowed them to see their teacher on a less-than-perfect level–and bond in a different way.