Shaking myself back to the present I do what I always do when I'm feeling unsettled, I pour another cup of coffee and pick up the phone. If I spent half the time doing something sensible as I do talking on the phone I'm sure by now I would be fluent in another language or be able to tell the difference between Sunnis and Shiites.
My first call is to Barb, my preppy stylish almost neighbor. I say "almost neighbor" because even though she has one of the most stunning homes of anyone I know it is on the wrong side of California Street. Mind you, it is three blocks away from my house which is on the decidedly right side of California Street, but we must have rules. Barb asks me how Beloved Husband is doing. She is referring to his "happiness" venture. I call it (out of earshot) his hardware store, because it seems every man has a "I know, I'll just chuck it all and open a hardware store and be happy" fantasy. It is in fact a burgeoning on-line wine business. Between bouts of suicidal despair he seems quite happy, and I tell her so.
Barb and I have a special relationship. We are both skirting the edge of the Pacific Heights group of women who are beautiful, intelligent, well-dressed and managing various homes, children, schools and good works. The difference is I am trying to do it on a hardware store salary (mind you, only one home, limited good works and beautiful and well-dressed is debatable). Barb is doing it on a trust-fund she would prefer to keep intact (messy divorce last year) and an up-and-coming interior design business. Her east-coast sense of style allows her to get by with her uniform of black pants and black sweater (not to mention her jewelry collection from an accommodating grandmother) and be the most chic woman in the room.
It is now a little hard to hear Barb because I have my finger in one ear and the phone scrunched in the other. My five year old is hurling insults at his brother that would be impressive coming from a 15 year old (which is in fact where they came from). Beloved is holding Oldest Boy by his hair and bellowing, "I hope you and Barb are quite comfortable, but I NEED SOME HELP HERE!" Barb and I quickly sign off. I consider whether I want to take the indignant, "I am a grown woman who does not need anyone telling her when she can talk on the phone" attitude, or the more realistic, "it is now 10:30 and I realize I haven't done jack-shit" apologetic route. I decide not to push the issue and stalk, head held high, into the kitchen to make breakfast.
After Mohammed's death in 632 Islamic leadership passed to Abu-Bakr as-Siddig, one of Mohammed's closest companion. Some felt this succession was not legitimate and the title of caliph (spiritual leader of Islam claiming succession from Mohammed) really belonged to Ali ibn Abi Talib. Ali's claim was supported by the fact he was cousin to Mohammed, Mohammed's adopted son, his first convert (age 9) and married his daughter, Fatima (ibn Ali really covered all his bases). Both sides claim Mohammed's support. Supporters of Abu became Sunnis (majority). Supporters of ibn Ali became the Shiites (minority).
Now that it is all clear, go have a cup of coffee and start making those phone calls you've been neglecting.