Don't Be No Checkun!
Saturday, January 10, 2009

For the Thanksgiving holiday, we went off to the mountains. A lovely time was had by all...well, except for the two trips to the E.R. thanks to raging fevers and raw throats that turned out to be bronchitis for two of the ladies. 

I'm not sure why, but the part of the country we were in, did not have any walk-in clinics. Perhaps modern medicine is still looked on with some suspicion by the mountain folk and so clinics don't thrive up there. Maybe they're still patching up their broken parts and ailments with pastes made from roots plucked off the mountainside. 

Hey, I'm all for that. The worst sinus infection I've ever had was flushed out by some little black pills a Chinese herbalist gave me in San Francisco. We communicated through sign language. Me, pointing at my forehead, moaning, "Pain. Pain."  She nodding confidently, as she handed me a mysterious jar of pills that smelled like fish flakes and black licorice.  

I know, Yum.

Without going into any stomach-churning details, suffice to say my sinus passages were free and clear within two days. Herbalists have been practicing their brand of healing long before Western Medicine decided they were the experts. I believe in their power to cure.

In between illnesses, we managed to scramble up some fun. We ventured into the city where the sidewalks were swollen with other Thanksgiving pilgrims hunting for souvenirs, a little Putt-Putt, and the World's Best Fudge. As we were strolling, we witnessed an awful but car-crash-captivating sight. I'm not sure how well it'll translate on paper, but I'll give it my best shot.

At the foot of the ski lift, an older woman was imitating what I thought to be a mighty good chicken imitation, flapping her bended arms and crowing, "BAAK-BAAK-BAAK!"  A boy, around twelve, was standing there, inexplicably whirling around in a circle and crying. His, what I assumed to be mother, was standing a few feet from them yelling and I mean YELLING, "DON'T BE CALLIN' HIM NO CHECKUN, MAMMA! HE'S JUST AFEARD OF HEIGHTS, THAS' ALL!"

I stopped in my tracks, once again, stunned at the vast and colorful degrees of child-rearing methods in the world. 

My family, being not the most politically correct and or appropriate group of human beings, found this scene HYSTERICAL! The retelling of it makes them double over in laughter every time. I will admit, they say my spin on the accents and my chicken imitation are the best, so do not think I am above them in any way. I only hope that little guy was not scarred for life. I worry that he will develop an inordinate fear of ski lifts or perhaps even worse, his checkun-squawking grandma. But, even at this poor boy's expense, this has become my family's new catch phrase.  

"Don't be callin' me no checkun, Mamma!"

And as I begin this journey, I find myself really feeling this phrase. Because, to be honest, I'm scared, deep to the bone scared. 

I have always been a safe girl. 

I buckle when driving. I do not chance roller coasters that make me feel I will go flying into the sky. I wear a really dorky helmet when I bike ride or roller blade. And I will never, ever take a helicopter tour of anything.

And now I feel like I'm stepping off a cliff. 

Writing a novel was exhilarating, challenging, frustrating, fantastical, and safe. Now, to put my words out there for anyone to read, I am shaking in my high-heeled boots.  

I am now a risk taker and I say those wise mountain words over and over again to reassure myself, "Don't be callin' me no checkun, Mamma!"

Today's song to download: Patty Griffin's "Heavenly Day." Dang, I love that Patty Girl. This song is so lush and gorgeous it will guarantee you a Heavenly Day. It epitomizes this Saturday here in central Florida. The sky is crystalline blue. It's 70 degrees. We've got soccer games and then later, dinner with good friends, good wine and guaranteed laughter. Heavenly Day. 

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