Saturday, December 26, 2009
Seeing as how I don't believe in fairytales of any sort, I've already told The Duchess that Santa is a bunch of hooey. Of course, I put it to her in more p.c. terms than that, but the message was clear.
Poor sweet girl. For the past month her head has been filled with Christmas movies on television, all of which feature Santa and or Mrs. Santa, pictures of chubby elves peering off every advertisement and songs about Jolly Old St. Nick being piped over the Muzak system in every store. She just can't quite reconcile what I've told her with the reality of seeing the fat bearded man at the mall holding children on his lap and looking quite obviously like Santa. She knows I've never lied to her, but she SEES him with her own eyes for hell's sake!
So I continue to play along and label her Christmas gifts with tags that read, "To: The Duchess, From: Santa." Rudolph gives her gifts, as well as Buddy the Elf and Vixen and Mrs. Claus are very generous as well.
As is tradition in our house on Christmas morning, Daddy reads the tag and hands the gift to the appropriate beaming recipient.
Daddy: "To The Duchess from Mrs. Claus!"
The Duchess: *squeal!*
Daddy: "To The Duchess from Donner!"
The Duchess: "Oh my gosh!" *squeal!*
Daddy: "To The Duchess from Buddy the Elf!"
The Duchess: "Buddy?!" *squeal
So on Christmas morning as The Duchess was nearing the end of unwrapping the ginormous pile of gifts bestowed upon her by various reindeer, elves and members of the Claus family, she looked at me and said, "Mommy...now go get the presents that you and Daddy got me!"
Mmmm hmmm. Those damn fairytales will screw you over every time.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Middle Sister has recently informed me of your latest drama. Once again, you have no job, no money, no food and are spending your days in your pajamas waiting for the eviction notice you know is inevitable.
Instead of being actively engaged in the pursuit of employment and housing, you are schlepping around your apartment complaining of feeling sick. No surprise. That's what happens when your body isn't getting the drugs it's used to ingesting. Such is the sorry state of a junkie.
You told Niece that your family hates you and that they are too judgmental. Only one of those accusations is correct. I don't hate you, but I most certainly have passed judgment on you. Your actions over the past several years have been pathetic and despicable. There has been much to judge.
For many years, Little Sister, you have been an addict. Because it is the nature of addiction, you have lied to everyone around you including those who loved you most. You have not only been a user of drugs, but a user of people. You will always be able to find drugs, Little Sister, but you will not always be able to find people who are willing to help you. Eventually they grow tired of giving you money, being lied to, listening to excuses and bailing you out of disaster after self-created disaster. They grow weary in their hearts of watching you self-destruct despite their many attempts at helping you.
When you stole prescription drugs from my home, it was the last straw for me. My husband and I had opened our home to you and offered you a new start. You had assured me that you were ready to begin a new drug free chapter in your life and I believed you. Within days, you repaid us for our offers of a place to live and help finding a job by stealing from us. After years of watching you make poor choice after poor choice and seeing the trail of burned bridges and human destruction you'd left behind, I was finished.
Our mother wouldn't, or wasn't able to turn you away. As she repeatedly gave you shelter both physically and emotionally, you used and abused her at every turn. She was the one person in your life who wasn't willing to give up just yet and you did nothing but take advantage of her and abuse her motherly compassion.
You certainly knew how to work the system, I'll give you that. Not only do I not understand the mind of an addict, I don't understand how a person can manipulate and connive with such ease. How did you escape going to jail when you were caught red-handed writing prescriptions for yourself on a prescription pad from the doctor for whom you worked? He'd given you the ultimatum of rehab or jail and you spent one hour at rehab. How many times have you evaded rehab now? Five...six? It's been too difficult to keep track.
While you were a minor, Mother had the chance to help you, but you did a fabulous job of convincing her that you didn't belong in that awful place with those messed up people and that you weren't one of them. She didn't have the fortitude to keep you in rehab long enough for them to help you and now it's too late. You are a thirty-four year old woman who is penniless, homeless and friendless. No one can force you to get help now. No one can make you clean up. Unfortunately, you have pissed away every opportunity you've ever been given and spit in every helping hand offered you.
You have done things I cannot imagine. They are the things I see on television shows and movies that turn my stomach. They are the degrading and pathetic acts of miserable junkies who live only to score their next fix. You have never once that I've known of, accepted responsibility for your actions. It's always been someone else's fault. Someone else made you do it. Someone else, someone else. Never you.
So yes, Little Sister, I judge you. I know where you come from and I know the opportunities you've been given and then thrown away. I know firsthand that your childhood was far from ideal, but it's bullshit to keep using that as an excuse. There comes a point when you must realize that you are no longer subject to the whim and will of your abusers and that you have choices to be made about which direction to take in life. You have chosen not to move forward. You are not even stagnant. You are humanity in decay.
There are pictures of you from your childhood that are heartbreaking to look at now; pictures of a sweet, cherubic and devilish child, full to the brim with loving adulation from her parents. Do you remember your first words? They weren't the typical first words of a child. They were, "I pitty." Translated as, "I'm pretty." You must have heard, "You're so pretty," a thousand times a day for the first few years of your life. Dad was in love with you and Mom referred to you as her "Miracle Baby." Sure, as was typical of Dad, once you hit puberty, he emotionally abandoned you as he did the rest of us, but you had a fierce and loyal ally and guardian in our mother. That is something that the rest of us grew up without. I consider you having had an advantage over us.
Regardless...whatever the perceived issues were that inspired you to make the brilliant decision not to finish high school, right down to the decision that ingesting drugs would be a swell idea, are not ones that the rest of us didn't have or that the rest of the world hasn't had and worse. The difference is that you had so many opportunities to right yourself and didn't take them. You had a mother who would do anything in the world for you and you abused her. Middle Sister has given you thousands of dollars over the years and attempted to be a confidant and friend and you have repeatedly taken advantage of her good heart and compassion. I have paid bills for you, given you places to live and helped you find jobs. In return, you have lied to me, stolen from me and abused my trust.
I have the odd and (to my husband) disconcerting ability to be able to break things down and compartmentalize them. I know that you are my sister and I have compassion for you, but I also know that you're an addict and I cannot knowingly expose my family to your lifestyle. Being "family" is not an automatic pass to use and abuse people simply because you share the same DNA.
Every now and then, those compartments break down a little and I have momentary flashes of fear. I fear hearing the phone ring one day and picking it up to hear Middle Sister's voice on the phone telling me that you are gone. Not the "gone" you are now, but the real and terrifying final version. When I think about it, I want to take you by your emaciated shoulders and shake you and tell you how selfish you are and and how your choices have affected us and that if you die, it will be the end of so many things.
I would be forever grateful to have her back.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Shock was apparent in my voice as I almost squawked, "How did you get this number for HER?!" I barely listened as you explained quickly that you got your information from "several different sources" and that you would remove our home phone number from your call list.
The second I let the handset drop back into its resting place, an overly loud, "SHIT" uncontrollably escaped my lips. I'd allowed myself to lose my composure and had let an opportunity slip right through my fingers.
So, here goes. This is what I SHOULD have said to you while I had you on the line.
"Are you fucking KIDDING me?! You're calling MY house NINE years after my husband divorced this woman?! You're interrupting the morning with my family so that you can try to collect a bill from a woman who hasn't EVER had this phone number and who has NEVER lived in this house?! Have you ever heard of the fucking INTERNET?! Try typing her name into Google and you'll find out where she works. Open up Smartpages.com and type in her name and you'll find her address and phone number. Take a quick peek at her credit report (which you friggin' have access to, you a-holes) and you'll get just about any piece of information you need. But noooooo. You track US down several states away in our new home and call US on a Saturday morning to try to collect a debt from HER. UnfreakinBELIEVABLE.
And, oh. Remember when I had my car accident two years ago and had just come home from the emergency room in an immobilizer and was loaded on painkillers and you rang our doorbell at 2:00 a.m. to repossess HER car? Yeah...you remember. You rang the doorbell on my ten month old home that my husband and I had just built, in order to repossess a car that we had never owned and knew nothing about that was registered in HER name. Sure. I know how you got our address. Her name was listed as a former owner on the car I'd just wrecked. Did you hear that? FORMER FUCKING OWNER! If she'd FORMERLY held joint title on the car, but no longer did, why in the hell would she be at the current address listed on the title?!
You people are not only assholes, you're moronic idiots who have no grasp of common sense and who don't even possess the intellectual ability to use the simplest forms of modern technology. In less than five minutes, I located several of her former employers, found out where she currently works, where she lives and what her phone number is. I also found that she's on Match.com and on Facebook, both of which list her location and other personal information.
We've paid all of her bills we're going to pay. Nine years and almost $40,000 later, we are free from any financial obligation ever tied to her. We've endured nine years of letters in our mailbox addressed to her and nine years of phone calls from collection agencies trying to track her down. We made it through the financial shit storm SHE walked away from by filing bankruptcy. We paid debts that weren't ours to pay and at times we were almost crushed by the burden of it. We not only survived those years, we came out on the other side and have thrived in spite of it.
So, Mr. Collection Agency, if you ever call us again, I'm going to be much more coherent and I'm going to tell you EXACTLY how to find her, including drawing you a fucking picture if I have to.
Have a lovely day, and...fuck you."
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
You were among the very first who allowed me into your lives and who opened my eyes, mind and heart. You showed me without even knowing it, what I had somehow always known; that “gay” and “lesbian,” are just labels, not definitions.
In your homes, I have seen your family pictures hanging from the walls and they remind me of the pictures strewn around my home. “We are all brothers and sisters,” those pictures whisper.
You have shown me wit, intelligence, humor, compassion, friendship and generosity beyond measure. Together, we have laughed, cried and behaved sillier than adults probably should. You have literally doctored my family and I with compassion and diligence and you have visited me in the hospital when I was scared and in need of a comforting hand. You have defended me when I was incapable of defending myself and I am forever grateful.
We have remodeled bathrooms together, danced together, cooked for each other and shared the most intimate contents of our hearts. You have taught me more than you will ever know.
What you have taught me in part, is that being “gay” or “lesbian” is no different from being “French” or “American.” Those labels give one only a minute bit of insight into who a person actually is. They absolutely do not define you. What you have taught me, is that by keeping my heart and my mind open, the world suddenly becomes a much larger place filled with possibilities for creating friends and adding to my family.
Because of you, I now have so many other beautiful men and women in my life who make me smile and touch my heart. Without these dear and darling humans, my life would be such a drab and boring place to live. They have welcomed me into their homes and hearts with open arms and I just cannot thank them enough. I hope we have many, many more wonderful times together.
Your true colors shine through and I wish the world could see your light for what it is. My heart breaks for the injustices that stifle you and which attempt to deny you the pursuit of happiness. Please know that I stand with you, hand in hand, in your quest for equality.
To Kyle and Jeffery: I love you as though you’re brothers from another mother. I take pride in your successes and anguish over your losses and stumbles. I will always be here to hold your hands and go through it all with you, if you will allow me that privilege.
To Eli: There are things about you I will never forget. I ache that you are ill and that your time on the planet has been far too short. I hold in my heart funny and beautiful memories of a funny and beautiful man.
To Brian: Your generosity and warmth is amazing. You are kind and loving and thoughtful beyond reason. I’m so glad to call you “friend” and so happy that you are a good and loving partner to my Jeffrey.
To Mark and Denise: You two define “family” in such a beautiful way. Even through the exasperation and frustration I know has been felt at times you always know at the end of the day that you love each other without question. You have pulled together in extraordinary ways to care for your parents with love, humor and compassion. You are both wonderful and talented human beings whom I admire greatly.
So lovely people...thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. You have added color, joy, love and humor to my life and have taught me invaluable lessons. I love you all.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Quite frankly, I haven't felt like I've had much to say. There is a tremendous amount of riff-raff bloating my brain cells, don't get me wrong. It's just nothing I feel is useful or worthwhile or worthy of putting pen to paper as they say. So many of you are hysterical, witty, wise, kind, compassionate and downright genius that I've been feeling quite sub-par as of late. On top of that steaming pile of unworthiness, I still haven't shaken the autumn blues. I'm not quite sure it's even the blues anymore. It seems to be a mish-mash of self-loathing, a dash of depression, a big ol' heapin' helpin' of self pity and an entire truck load of dismay and disillusion at the state of our country and our world.
Ready to off yourself yet? Or maybe just push me off a bridge? Well, then. Here's a little happy for you and and attempt at reminding myself why things don't entirely suck.
I got a new puppy! She's an adorable little mutt. She's 1/3 Bichon Frise, 1/3 Yorkie and 1/3 Dachsund. Here. Look.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
For the past several days (Weeks perhaps? Who knows?), The Duchess and I have been like mommy and baby bat, holed up in our cave. We've built mountains out of wadded up tissues, sweat through fevers, become so dehydrated our lips cracked and coughed so hard our ribs are bruised.
Fingers crossed...I think we've survived the worst of it.
The Duchess lost two pounds and I managed to somehow gain two. What the hell?! (This once again goes to prove that my body hates me and is maliciously plotting against me.)
I think I'm back. To be perfectly honest, I just looked at how busy you've all been over the past several days and I have no freaking idea how I'm EVER going to get caught up with my reading! Can you all just send me a brief summary of what you've written about so that I can peruse it at my leisure? No? Damn it. I see how you are.
The sneezes are still exploding out of me too frequently to make for a happy and cootie free keyboard, but I'm hoping that another twenty four hours will clear up that nastiness and I'll be back to my old self again. Hm. I wonder how long I'd have to wait to come back as someone else? Possibly someone more humorous and with a better attitude. I don't know if I can wait that long. See you soon.
Monday, September 28, 2009
After clicking on the ad, I laughed so hard I could barely breathe. I sat there with tears in the corners of my eyes trying to read the ad to Mr. Right, but I was laughing so hard I couldn't speak.
I'm seriously contemplating responding to the author of this ad to let him know he made my day. For a few inexplicably hysterical moments, my blues morphed into a rainbow. One painted by clowns. Drunk clowns with no thumbs.
If you don't find it funny, please don't tell me or I'll have to seriously reconsider our relationship.
Date: 2009-09-28, 8:46PM MST
i am looking to buy a trained zebra.
if not a baby zebra so i can train it myself.
i love zebras and i would love one as a pet
pleasse let me know if you or anyone you know has a zebra for sale
i would gladly appreciate it.
thanks in advance.
- Location: queen creek
- it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
Friday, September 25, 2009
Fall also carries with it a dirty little secret. For twenty-one years, this secret has held me in its clutches and it shakes me, rattles my brain, and thrusts me viciously into a deep dark hole for a few weeks at the onset of every autumn. I am always aware of its approach and of its presence, but I seem to be helpless against the tentacles that lash out at me and which inevitably seize me in their grip, temporarily paralyzing my joy.
It was Halloween night, 1988. I was five months pregnant with my first child and living in a
studio apartment in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I knew exactly one person in town and my then husband, who was in the Army, had just left for California on a month-long training exercise. Having only recently turned twenty, I felt deeply alone and more than a little depressed that my beloved Halloween was being spent sitting in an apartment desperately hoping that trick-or-treaters would be on enough of a sugar high to hike it up three flights of stairs to come visit me and my massive bowl of candy. No such luck.
I'd almost given up all hope of having any little devilish costumed visitors when there was a knock at my door. My heart raced a little as I jumped up and grabbed the bowl of candy. I opened the door and there stood my uncle. I was confused. I'd seen this particular uncle a total of maybe six times in my life and now there he stood. I smiled a bewildered smile and invited him in. My head was swirling. This uncle had a reputation in my family of being kind of jokester and as a kid, I'd always liked him. So, although a bit befuddled by his sudden presence, I was happy to see him.
We sat for a few minutes discussing what his kids were dressed as for Halloween and I think the weather was mentioned. I don't really recall what was said because I had a constant voice in my head that kept saying, "What is he doing here? What is he doing here?!" The answer came almost immediately.
My uncle looked at me and with the casual tone usually reserved for inquiring of someone as to how they're feeling or how they're enjoying the unusually mild weather, and said, "Your mom called and thought that I needed to come over to be with you so that you'd have family here." I thought, "That's odd. Mom knows that my husband just left for a month and that I'm lonely, but I don't think I'm so distraught that I need a long lost uncle to come sit with me." And then...he said it. "Your dad killed his girlfriend and is in jail." I sat there stunned. Then, slowly I smiled. This was a joke. My prankster uncle was playing a joke on me. I think I said something like, "What?" And, I said it with a smile on my face.
My uncle never took his eyes off me and said, "Your dad shot his girlfriend. He's in jail and your mom thought that I needed to come over and be with you when you found out." I knew he was serious. I don't remember anything else. Somehow, over the course of the next couple of days, I managed book a flight to Oklahoma. I'd never done that before and don't remember making all of the calls to talk to the airlines and to my mom and sisters to arrange to stay with them for a month.
The month of November was spent with my family and from what I can remember; we barely spoke of Dad and what had happened. My mother didn't speak of him because just a couple of months before, she and my youngest sister had fled Illinois where they and my dad were living. Life had become unbearable and my mom had discovered that my dad was drinking...again and was having affairs...again, so my mom had loaded up the car and taken my sister and high-tailed it out of there. Needless to say, she wasn't in the frame of mind to be discussing my dad.
At some point while I was in Oklahoma, my mom received a call from the people who owned the trailer that my parents had lived in while in Illinois. My dad was a horse trainer and moved twice a year between Oklahoma and Illinois with the racing season. The couple who owned the horses he trained had provided a small mobile home that could be transported back and forth twice a year. The trailer was from where my mother had fled, and in which, my father had committed murder.
According to the owners, the police had released the trailer after having gathered all of their evidence and they had brought it from Illinois, back to Oklahoma. They were now calling to see if my mother wanted to sort through it and take any of her belongings before they had the trailer destroyed.
To this day, I have no idea why my mother went to that trailer. But, go she did. And...she took me with her.
Had the handprints on the walls been smaller, they would have looked not altogether unlike those first finger paintings that children make by dipping their hands in paint and pressing them onto paper. But, these handprints weren't small. They were exactly the size of my father's. And, instead of the bright primary colors of children's paintings, these handprints were brown. The color of brown that only exists after blood dries.
The handprints traveled, in reverse, through the kitchen into the bathroom and up the tiny set of stairs into the bedroom. We followed. I wish we wouldn't have. As we walked into the little bedroom, we walked smack dab into the scene of the crime. I've never seen anything like it and hope to never see anything remotely similar again. The human body produces an immense amount of blood and shooting someone in the head with a shotgun has a way of quickly and violently dispersing that blood.
As I turned around to head back down the stairs, the handprints on the wall were now facing the correct direction.
My mother picked through the closets and cabinets and filled up a small box with belongings to take away with her. We stopped by the horse barn on the way to the car and my mother stood and cried and patted the horses. She couldn't and wouldn't allow herself to cry for my dad and for all that had been lost, but she sure as hell could cry for those beautiful beasts that she loved. She knew that she'd never see them or my dad again, but those lovely animals had never hurt or betrayed her. This was her goodbye.
My goodbye was still far off in the future. My father was sentenced to twenty-six years in prison. He spent thirteen of those years behind bars and I spent those thirteen years writing faithfully, accepting collect phone calls so that I could spend a few uneasy moments every month or so speaking to my father, and sent small amounts of money when I was able. I ordered books that my dad wanted to read and had them shipped to the prison and acted as his receiving agent for packages containing book and letters he sent out of the prison when they would make him thin out his possessions.
Strangely enough, my goodbye came after his release from prison. It was in autumn. That's a different story though.
People who know me well and know my story, have asked me how I can still love autumn. How can I not? If anything, I appreciate it more and really relish each little lovely thing about it. I have not managed to escape the psychological impact of what happened in my family, but find it only mere coincidence that it occurred in the Fall. If it had happened in the winter, it would be unbearable because winter depresses me anyway. Spring or Summer...who knows? I suppose there's always something with which you can associate an event. I have two daughters with birthdays in the spring and my birthday is in the summer, so no matter when a tragedy occurs, there's always something there to remind us, isn't there?
So, Dear Friends, if I've not been commenting on your posts and you haven't seen me around The Land of Blog much lately, now you know why. Some years hit me particularly hard for some reason and this year really knocked me for a loop. But, I feel the upward movement of my soul as it struggles to break free and I am waiting with hopeful anticipation that very soon, my days will be spent not in some quiet secret mourning, but in joyous celebration of living.
Monday, September 14, 2009
In an effort to begin my 41st year looking and feeling like the cougar that is Me, I decided to get all of the hairs on my head, colored, clipped and coiffed. Ooh la la. The hair gal I'd been using and whose work I really dug, up and moved shop to some hell hole out in the desert that required directions like, "Turn off the pavement onto the two-lane dirt road..." Uh uh. So, I made an appointment at a kind of upper end-ish chain salon that I'd been to before and, from which, had walked out with really kick ass hair.
She snipped, clipped, thinned, textured and every other verb they learn in beauty school and then proceeded to blow out my hair. By this time, I almost literally couldn't see straight from all of the chemicals affecting my contacts. My head felt like it had been tenderized with one of those primitive meat mallets and my stomach was in complete revolt. I forced a smile, paid my bill and got the hell out of there.
A haircut will accomplish that, right? Right....
Sunday, September 6, 2009
From the time of my earliest memories and well into my twenties, the dreams maintained a fairly constant theme. I would hear my parents running and as they ran, they would scream for help. Panicked, I would chase after them, only catching glimpses of them now and again. We were always running through dense foliage. Most often, I remember running through what I perceived as a jungle full of thick hanging vines and having to jump over fallen trees while trying to avoid being snagged by the tangled undergrowth. Although I can't tell you what it looked like, there was always some sort of giant beast chasing us. Almost always, at some point during the panic of trying to catch my parents, I would come upon a trap in which they had been ensnared. The traps were not unlike those rigged by the castaways on Gilligan's Island where a hole has been covered with thicket, just waiting for an unsuspecting native. Sometimes the traps were nets that swooped my parents up and suspended them from the trees. Then, of course, there was the quick sand. Again, just like the Gilligan's Island variety.
I would reach my trapped parents and they would be yelling for me to help them. Knowing that The Beast was not far behind, I would stretch out my hand to reach them and to disentangle them, but then, the beast would be upon us and I would run.
There wasn't much variation from dream to dream. Always running, always the unseen beast chasing, always panic and always the overwhelming feeling of impending doom. And, never ever, could I save my parents.
Of course, it doesn't take an immense amount of brilliance to analyze those dreams. That terrible and frightening unseen beast did eventually catch my parents and it ate them alive.
I had dreams into my early thirties about The Beast chasing only me. At some point, after years of extremely hard work on Self, some really great therapy and the shot of confidence that was gained from finally trashing the garbage that was my marriage, I dreamed The Dream one night. Having tired of running, I turned around and faced The Beast. I don't remember what I said exactly, but I remember screaming at that beast until he turned and disappeared into the thicket. I've not had the dream since.
I understand it all now and I've processed it. Occasionally I think about it and feel a little sad. Some of the sadness is for my parents, but most of it is for Little Me. I had no idea what all of those dreams meant, only how they made me feel. And, how they made me feel...was afraid.
Try as I might, I can't quite pin down the exact number of years I lived with a packed suitcase under my bed. I know it was at least two. I now refer to them as the Hobo Years because I'd seen a picture in a storybook of a man who hopped trains, carrying a stick with a red bandanna tied to the end. The purpose of the bandanna was to hold his lunch and he carried it over his shoulder as he walked along the tracks. I thought this was a brilliant idea, so in my suitcase I'd prepared quite a lovely stick and bandanna lunch sack. Also contained in the suitcase were my two favorite stuffed animals, a change of clothes with extra socks and underwear, a notebook and pen so that I could write home and a book. The book would get rotated day to day or week to week depending on what I was currently reading. If I had to flee my home at a moment's notice, I certainly didn't want to miss out on how my book ended.
The suitcase was kept under my bed at arms length. Every night when I got into bed, I ran through the drill of closing my eyes and pretending that I heard an intruder. I would grab my glasses that I kept directly next to my pillow, throw them on and reach my arm under the bed to grasp the handle of the suitcase. I would make slight adjustments to the position of the suitcase and re-run the drill until I was satisfied that should an intruder come into the house, I and all of my most important possessions, could make it out of the door in mere seconds.
My memory doesn't recall if my parents even knew about the existence of my escape case. I vaguely remember a sister or two rolling her eyes at me and referring to me in derogatory terms usually reserved for the mentally handicapped. I didn't care. I was going to be damn well ready for the day that I needed to run. If anyone was left in my house after I'd high-tailed it out of there, they could look forward to a lovely handwritten note from yours truly.
When I was eight years old, my family moved from Illinois to Oklahoma. For some reason, having my suitcase under the bed within arms reach just didn't cut it anymore. I decided that if an intruder came that he would most likely come into the bedrooms first and murder all of us where we slept. The only solution I could think of to avoid being chopped up while I slumbered, was to sleep under the bed with my suitcase. That way, the murderous intruder would make his way through the house sawing up everyone in his path without ever detecting me. Once he was satisfied with his cruel handiwork and moved on to his next unsuspecting victims, I would be free to grab my suitcase and get the hell out of that house of horrors.
The more I ran this scenario through my head, the clearer it became that I was not doing enough to ensure that the vicious killer who was certain to arrive at our house any night didn’t detect me. So, I began to conceal myself even better by packing myself under my bed with every stuffed animal I owned. My nightly drills now consisted of getting nice and comfy under my bed, checking the position of my suitcase and glasses, packing myself in with stuffed animals and adjusting them and re-adjusting them until I was satisfied that if someone looked under my bed, they would just assume that some lunatic was maintaining a gigantic stuffed zoo for dust bunnies.
Specifically when the Hobo Years ended, I do not know. Eventually, I began sleeping on top of my bed again and my suitcase was checked less frequently and then never. My fears remained, but I managed to deal with them and my behaviors altered as I developed new coping skills to deal with the residents of the asylum I called home.
I cannot say that there have been no residual effects from being chased by The Beast, because that would be untrue. I still have little quirks and habits that make me feel safe, like sleeping with the blankets completely up around my neck no matter how warm it is outside, or making sure that I don't fall asleep with my foot hanging over the side of the bed. But, for the most part...I've escaped. And, though I worry too much about things I shouldn't, I know that I am finally free.
Monday, August 31, 2009
If you're not already brain dead from listening to or reading about the insanity that seems to have stricken a multitude of citizens in this country, spare a few cells won't you?
A couple of weeks ago here in Phoenix, President Obama took a break from his family vacation to hold a town hall meeting on the subject of national health care. Within minutes, live coverage of the event was being broadcast to media outlets all over the country. The images were shocking. Camera crews were capturing video of several people outside of the event who were carrying firearms. Some of these firearms were large semi-automatic weapons.
Sure, I'd seen the coverage of the lone gunman at another town hall meeting in another state who calmly held his sign carrying the quote about watering the tree of Liberty and toting a firearm strapped to his side. Although frightening, he had a license to carry the gun and was behaving in a non-threatening manner and making no threats other than the one implied by his sign. It was directed at no one in particular (although we know to whom it was directed) and he didn't behave in an aggressive fashion. I completely disagreed that he should be wearing a firearm at or near an event where our nation's leader was speaking, but apparently the CIA knows their stuff and seemed to have it all under control.
But, to see images of multiple people wearing firearms standing outside a venue where our President was speaking, was astounding to me. (I wonder how these fine, upstanding Americans would have reacted had people dressed in Muslim garb toting licensed weapons shown up to protest?) And, these images were being recorded just miles from my home. These are the people among whom I live. And worse.
After some investigating by people who had an interest in knowing who these gun slinging folks were, it was determined that at least one of those fellows was the parishoner of a church in Tempe, AZ, called Faithful Word Baptist Church. The pastor of FWBC is Steven Anderson, who it turns out, is a self-proclaimed pastor who actually has no credentials whatsoever, except what his church's website states as an ability to "recite from memory, over 100 passages from the Bible. " Steven Anderson is crazy.
Steven Anderson is crazy because he has allowed religious fervor to poison his mind. Steven Anderson is crazy because the day before our President spoke at that town hall meeting in Phoenix, he stood before a congregation and gave a sermon he titled, "Why I HATE Barack Obama." He stood before his congregation and quoted passages from the Bible (from memory, no doubt) to support him in his belief that the President is evil and should be killed. He passionately and with conviction, laid out the reasoning behind wishing death to the President. He rationalized why Mrs. Obama should be husband less and why Sascha and Melia should be fatherless, and he used the Bible to back him up.
So, the next day...filled with the impassioned words of his pastor's sermon still ringing in his ears, Mr. Gunslinger shows up at the President's town hall meeting in Phoenix with a semi-automatic weapon slung over his shoulder.
Many a debate between myself and others has been engaged in on the topic of gun control. I'm a lover, not a fighter and I'm all about peaceful protest and making love, not war. I know there are many people in our country who think they need/deserve/have the right...whatever...to pack heat. I disagree. Our forefathers believed in arming citizens for the purpose of forming militias in order to guard against foreign insurgents. The "right to bear arms," or to possess them, has become inseparable in our nation's mind, with the right to form a militia.
Add into this mix, a big heapin' handful of religious zeal and fervor, and you've got yourself...well...Iraq. That's right people. We're not any better. We're not "the greatest country on Earth." WE are the same as THEY. Yes, THEY. Those "crazy" people who believe in jihad. You know the ones. The ones who can't separate their religious zeal from their political agenda? WE who try to export "democracy" to other nations whether they ask for it or not. WE who could care less about the horrific genocide occurring in other lands, but who will rip your heads off and blow you to bits if you dare mess with our fucking oil supply?
Don't nay say me. When your religion becomes your foreign policy, you're in for some real trouble, my friends. And now, it appears that religion has become our internal national policy. The "far right" who constantly yammers on about hoping that our president fails and who call him a racist and a socialist and compare him to Hitler...ask them how many of them are also devoutly religious. I don't have to poll them, because it's already been done. The overwhelming majority of those who hope to see our president fail...or worse...also proclaim to be religious.
By no means am I saying that only religious people are fanatical and it's only religious people who wish our president ill will. What I AM saying, is that religion brings with it, by its very nature, the possibility...and raises the probability of fanaticism.
I realize I run the risk of alienating some people. So be it. I cannot and will not continue to sit idly by and watch the crazies take over my country. Mr. Right will not hear of me joining the group that will be picketing Mr. Anderson's church next Sunday, so I am peacefully protesting via my blog.
And, just to offer a bit of contrast to the hateful and venomous words of the "Christian" in the video, here are some words written by a fellow political liberal and atheist. (You know...the people the religious right think are the crazies.)
Monday, August 24, 2009
I use the word "girl" because it's still very much the way I feel. Not that I don't experience moments when I feel womanly, because I most certainly do. I know that I'm an adult and for the most part, behave as such. But, the vision of Me that I hold in my mind's eye is one of a girl. I am still the girl who sometimes laughs too loudly and occasionally snorts when trying to stifle it. I am still the girl who dances with abandon (while sucking in my womanly tummy) and who still seems to be able to "shake it all night long."
Thursday, August 20, 2009
While going through the frustrating nightly ritual of attempting to drop off to sleep, my noggin swirled with thoughts about the last blog I'd read. Bloggy Friend, Reya , wrote a lovely post about a transformative moment in her life. It was one to which I could completely relate as I'd had a very similar experience in my childhood. But, every time I thought of a moment that I felt had transformed me, the naysayer that always resides on my shoulder shot it down as being too boring or not really transformative enough.
In putting my thinker to work on determining which moments in my life had truly transformed me, I quickly realized that books were a recurring theme. I have books on the shelf in my office that have my handwriting inside the front and back flaps. As I read some of those books, epiphanies would zing about me like little lightening bugs and I would hurriedly catch them and scribble them down before they escaped my grasp. Occasionally, I will pull those books off the shelf and open them and read those thoughts which I felt so inclined to record at the time. Most of them still resonate and I am reminded of the lessons learned at those times in my life.
So, after thinking and thinking and straining more than just a bit to come up with a moment which transformed me, I must tell you that I couldn't do it. All I could think was that my life has been a never ending series of moments which have transformed and changed me into the human I am today.
In an effort to be true to the Meme, I will go back to the beginning and tell you what I feel was the genesis of all transformation in my life.
In the beginning...there were books. Books I could not read.
My parents and teachers thought that I was learning disabled as a child. I was made to sit at the front of the class because it was the only way for the teacher to try to hold my attention as I was always looking down at my desk, or staring off in the distance, lost in my own world. I wrote with my face almost touching the paper and couldn't write, read or spell up to grade level.
One day, when I was about six, my mother and sisters and I were all in the bathroom at our house. My mother dropped something on the floor and asked if I would pick it up. I searched and searched and told her that I couldn't find it. Slightly perturbed, she exclaimed, "It's right there!" I got down on my hands and knees and searched and still I couldn't find it. My mother looked at me and said incredulously, "You can't see it?!" When I responded that I couldn't, it hit her like a brick. Her daughter couldn't see.
An eye appointment was scheduled, a trip was made and glasses were ordered. I remember my mother crying in the optometrist's office when she realized that I couldn't even read the big "E" at the top of the eye chart. I'm sure that countless memories of her chastising me to "pay attention" ran through her mind and made her ashamed.
The day arrived to make the trip back into town to pick up my glasses. After they'd been properly fit to my face, we headed back home. From the back seat of the car I stared in amazement at the world around me. I shouted to my mother, "What are those?!" She couldn't figure out what I was talking about. "Those green things! What are they?!" It took her a moment or two to realize that I was seeing the individual leaves on the trees as we passed by them. It was the first time in my life that I was actually seeing each leaf instead of a fuzzy green blur stuck on top of of fuzzy brown trunk.
From that moment forward, I became an excellent reader, practiced penmanship constantly and won more than a few spelling bees in school. I excelled in my studies and became a chatterbox who always made good grades, but whose teachers wrote, "Talks too much in class," or something of that nature, at the bottom of my report card.
It seemed I couldn't get enough of books. I spent countless hours of my childhood reading under trees, on my bed, in cemeteries, in the car or on a mound of grass in the middle of a stream. When my family finally moved into town for the first time when I was about eleven, I had a library at my disposal. Katie bar the door! I helped Nancy Drew solve every mystery that ever came her way, knew every single move that Laura Ingalls Wilder ever made and went on exciting and wonderful adventures with Heidi, Anne of Green Gables, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.
As I grew, I began to question and wonder about the world a bit more and that, coupled with my rebellious streak, led me to begin reading books that had been banned by schools or libraries. I wrote a letter in protest to the local paper when I found that my beloved Tom Sawyer had been pulled from the shelves. I read Vonnegut, Salinger, Golding, Faulkner, Tolstoy and Trumbow.
After marrying at the ripe old age of eighteen and having my first child at twenty, my misery was palpable and I began to search books in the quest for answers as to why I was so unhappy. The religion in which I'd been raised wasn't providing any answers, only raising more questions, so I poured through books on world religions and philosophies. The first time I read Siddhartha, was most certainly a moment which transformed me.
Life moved forward, dragging me with it and still I searched. Books led me to finally seek out a Buddhist therapist who led me to believe enough in myself to end a disastrous, painful and damaging marriage. I had fought and struggled and inflicted pain both to myself and those around me and I had endured more pain than I felt I could bear.
As I stepped tenuously out into life as a single parent, I continued to read and it was during this time that epiphanies struck me with startling frequency. It was as though I'd been walking in darkness my entire life and suddenly, someone was pulling up the shades and throwing the windows open to let in the sun.
At this point in my life, I have found my path to peaceful and joyful living. My reading now consists mostly of books about history, government, politics and biographies of those who have gone before. I break it up now and again with a novel or writing by someone I find humorous enough to make me laugh and remember that the world is not always the frightening place I read about every day in the news.
My books keep me informed, they educate, enlighten and remind me to keep questioning and always learning. Through the written word of those brilliant and beautiful minds who saw fit to put pen to paper, I have indeed been transformed.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
It's quite possible that I have Multiple Personality Disorder. Wouldn't that just be a kick in the pants? It might go far in explaining why some days I feel like bona fide altruistic Polly Anna who can barely restrain herself from hugging strangers, and other days, feel like I want to beat the ever living crap out of every other person I meet. Crazy much?
So, Mr. Right fixed my "t" (unfortunately, that's not a filthy euphemism for anything) and, now that I have a perfectly functional "t" I have no desire to write a damn thing. I'm in a funk. A slump. A funky slump.
We've been through this before folks, so you know what's next. It's time to sweep the corners, brush out the cobwebs and shake the rugs. The old brain box is due for a cleaning. So, in no particular order, let the freak show begin.
*I wonder if beautiful people know that they're beautiful? They must, right? How can you have two fabulously sparkling rows of teeth in your face, a copious mane of perfect hair, the chiseled cheekbones of a supermodel, the lithe body of a young Greek goddess and look in the mirror without saying to yourself, "Hello there, you stunning creature?" Bless their perfect hearts, but sometimes I wish they'd all break out into horrible disfiguring rashes. Just sometimes. Now is one of those times.
*Once upon a time, I worked at a mortgage company far far away. During slow times, my young co-workers and I (They were young. I was not) used to look at the clock and count the minutes down until lunchtime. After lunch, we'd count the minutes down until the end of the day. One day, Young Co-Worker Chad, at several decibels higher than his normal speaking voice exclaimed, "OH MY GOD!" We all turned to stare at him like the lunatic we presumed he'd quite suddenly been turned into. Gently, so as not to startle him with loud noises, we asked, "What?!" He said, "Don't you see what we're doing?! We're committing suicide?!" Young Co-Worker Chad went on to expound upon his epiphany. "By wishing for time to pass more quickly than it does, we're wishing our lives away! How many days of our lives do we wish away waiting for something in the future to happen? We're slowly committing suicide!" That was ten years ago and Young Co-Worker Chad's words still ring in my ears. I think of them every time I find myself saying, "I wish it would hurry up and...." Deep, Young Co-Worker Chad. Real deep.
*I'm a horrible scientist. Repeatedly, I've attempted to conduct an experiment and repeatedly, I've failed at seeing the experiment through to its end. The experiment goes as follows: I allow Mr. Right's bathroom trash can to become completely full. I wait. As the trash begins to fall onto the floor, I pick it up and squash it all down into said trash can, thereby creating more space than was there previously. I wait. As the trash can reaches maximum capacity, debris begins once again falling to the floor. I wait. Debris begins to pile up around the overflowing trash can. Q-tips are now bouncing off the pile and landing in various locations around the trash can. Some bounce up and land on the edge of the bathtub. I wait. No I don't. I empty the trash can. I have yet to discover the exact quantity of piled up garbage lying in the floor that is required to motivate Mr. Right to actually empty the trash. I suck at science.
*As we've previously discussed, (actually I've just ranted and raved and you've ever so politely and patiently listened) reading the news makes me crazy. Lately, what's really making me crazy is the fact that there's not much news actually being reported. Our president isn't really a U.S. citizen?! Oh, my! *gasp* It's nauseating to read about these ignorant and uninformed people running around and screaming that the sky is falling. It's even more nauseating that their screams are being reported as actual news. What would be real news is this: A Republican and a Democrat would hop on an airplane and fly to France. They would meet with the French authorities in charge of that country's health care system and they would gather every shred of information available from those people and jump a flight back to the U.S. Then they would tailor a health care plan for our nation based on their findings and present a bipartisan bill to the Senate. And, what would really be news would be if our senators and congressmen and representatives...you know...our elected public servants would lay aside their greed and gluttony and quest for power long enough to pass that bill into law because it would be for the greater good of the citizens who elected them into office. Now, that would be news worth reading.
*I've put The Duchess on a waiting list for a charter school. The more I learn about these schools, the more I like them. I pulled the philosophy of our local charter school off of their website. It goes like this:
"Our philosophy is to:
*Train the intellect
*Instill a sense of pride in and respect for self, others, and country
*Equip students with the necessary skills to become decision makers and problem solvers
*Prepare students for the world outside by challenging them to compete for achievement of standards in the classroom
*Develop an atmosphere of tolerance and acceptance of all students regardless of physical appearance and culture"
What?! A school that actually focuses on the intellect and on teaching children to make decisions and solve problems?! And, on top of that...a school that teaches tolerance and acceptance?! It can't be, you say! In America?! We don't value intellect, we value football! (Just look at teachers' salaries vs. NFL players' salaries) We don't value tolerance, we breed intolerance! (Just ask African Americans, women, homosexuals and a myriad of other American citizens who have had to fight for their basic civil rights) Well, that's what I said too, but I'm hearing otherwise. I adamantly refuse to put my child in a school that has a religious based philosophy and public schools are increasingly giving me cause for great concern. So, we'll sit on the list and wait. And, hope. Hope that there is still an avenue in this country that can be taken which will lead to a truly good education in an environment where intellect is valued, tolerance is expected and achievement is based on academic success and not athletic prowess.
*I just found out that my niece is baking a girl muffin. Delighted is what I am. Mr. Right's side of the family is short on girls and needs substantially more estrogen in order to achieve proper balance. Today's discovery of the gender of The Muffin has triggered my shopping gene (yes, all chicks have one) and I have the desire to leap off my chair this very second and hit the streets with wallet in hand. I shall restrain myself (somewhat) and try very much to not go overboard. I actually believe I have an Overboard Gene, so this will be a challenge. I find it completely unfair that Niece lives in Texas and I live in Arizona. *sigh* I'm hoping that as The Muffin grows, that she will look forward to the little boxes and envelopes postmarked "Arizona" that arrive in her mailbox. I hope that Niece will explain to her that, yes, Aunt Amy is a wee bit "off", but that she loves her and wishes she was able to spend time with her. And, I hope that when I do see The Muffin, that she will give me little fist bumps or flash me a tiny "peace" sign so that I will know that she knows, I'll always have her back.
Okay. Maybe this has helped. We'll see. Grumpy and Snotty have arrived home from school and my peace has been shattered and chaos abounds. I hope to be back in the game, as they say, and back to my Bloggy self again.
As always, thanks for listening. You're truly dears, you are.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
As I have been going through the excruciatingly painful process of typing this, another key has completely fallen off. It's the one that perches directly under the period key. So not only can I not type a "t" when I want, but every time I go to add a period, the wobbly key underneath lodges itself under the period thereby preventing me from ending a sentence.
I may have a heart attack.
There is another laptop I can use, but it's older, more cumbersome and doesn't have all of my files loaded on it. Apparently, I'm going to be forced back into the Dark Ages and use that four year old dinosaur. (That's kind of sad isn't it? Four years old and you're already thought of as having aged out of the game. Poor Computersaurus.)
Let me get this figured out. It will require a bit of foot stomping, a lot of whining, more than likely some cash and a whole bucket load of whimpering.
But, as always, I will overcome. Maybe. *sniffle*
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
No matter. With regard to blogging, I think I'm kind of proud of this number. When I began this blog, I had no idea in what direction I was going. The simplest explanation is that I merely wanted a place where I could write down some thoughts, vent a little, rant a lot and just have a bucket in which to dump some of the thoughts that seem to always be taking up room in my brain and mucking up the old gray matter.
The determination was made early on that I wouldn't write every day unless I had something to say that I felt was worth writing. I also didn't want blogging to be about my children all of the time, or to be a journal of every mundane daily event. More than anything, I wanted it to reflect who I was at that particular moment and to act as a ruler of sorts, for measuring my personal evolution.
As I look back, I see that my writing styles have altered from time to time and that very often, my mood has changed. (Go figure!) Sometimes I'm a bit embarrassed, and other times I laugh at myself and think what a goon I am. Mostly, I see that I am indeed an evolving human being and that I'm happy with the direction in which I'm traveling.
One of the amazing things that has happened along the way of my journey through The Land of Blog, is that I have been introduced to some truly wonderful people. Many of them merely make me laugh, and that is a gift in itself. Others have shown me to view things from a perspective other than my own, and for that I am grateful. There are those who have told me that I am courageous and are always encouraging me to speak and to let my voice be heard. How can I repay that?! And some of these same people and more, have inspired me to not just hope for change in the world, but to be the change.
So, this 100th post, Dear Friends, is dedicated to you. I dedicate it to you because your words of encouragement strengthen me. Your expressions of friendship bring joy to me. Your humor lightens my spirit and deepens the lines around my mouth which give me character...right?! Your unbelievable generosity amazes me and your loving hearts and kindness inspires me.
Angie: You astound me. A book a day. I know you're hoping that someday you'll be famous for it, but I'm betting you're going to be famous for the world's first gluten free, sugar free, peanut free and chocolate free, peanut butter cup.
Inga: What can I say? I'd follow you anywhere. The gifts you give to me, I cannot fully express. I love you, Sister.
Tessa: You are nothing short of magical. You're beautiful and talented and generous beyond imagination.
David: Nothing more to say than two words: Writer Extraordinaire
Dawn: You make me laugh and say, "Oh boy! I can relate!" And, your witchy wares and devilish doo-dads make me just plain happy.
Cubil: Your point of view is always interesting and sometimes different than my own. You help me expand my horizons.
Karie: Keeping up to speed with what's going on with one of my favorite people is a joy. I'm so glad you invited me in.
Fragrant Liar: Still clueless as to why I don't know your real name. Probably because you're afraid I'll stalk you. Regardless, your sass and your wit remind me so much of myself, how could I not love you?
Angela: From across the ocean, you encourage, teach and amaze me. Your open heart, generosity and zest for life prompt me to keep searching for ways to become a better Me.
Hutchins: Your writing makes me laugh and also touches me deeply. Reading about you and your beautiful family further and firmly convinces me that we are standing on the right side of the battlefield where the fight for equality rages on.
Andrea: I can almost always relate to what you're saying and enjoy so much hearing your point of view. And, by the way...where in the hell have you been?! I miss you. Come back.
Cynthia: As one of my newer Bloggy Friends, I so appreciate your encouragement to keep writing and I'm always interested in what you have to say.
Lee: Still trying to figure you out a bit. Sometimes I think by your writing that you're in your 20's and at other times, I think by the way you go on, that you must be much closer to my age. Er...you know...30's. *ahem* It matters not, but I do enjoy your daily grind. Oftentimes your intellect soars so far above mine, that my eyes haze over for a minute or two. Dumb it down, will ya?
Tonjia: Yours is another viewpoint which, like a pendulum, swings wildly between one I can relate to and one from which I try to learn.
Rosaria: The story of your coming to America is so wonderful and then to go on and dedicate your life to the often thankless job of teaching, well...wow. Having your perspective and wisdom interjected is something much appreciated.
Dangerous Pages: I've had a pin for ages that reads, "I read banned books." When I landed on your blog, I was smitten.
Reya: You're the cool aunt I never had. The way in which you view the world around you is so interesting and your photographs? Amazing. Your perspective is one that teaches me.
Dr. Maithri: Also a new friend, but one who I'm so honored to have. To me, you are beautiful in every way and your light shines so brightly that it has reached me from across the sea.Your work is awe inspiring and I am so grateful that human beings like you exist.
It's an interesting concept and if you've been actively blogging for awhile, you've begun to see how we travel in packs or cliques. We log on to a blog that we find interesting, only to find that someone we know from The Land of Blog is already following that blogger!
Although I have Bloggy Friends in Africa, Germany, England and other wonderful and interesting places, the blogging phenomenon seems to have proven the notion that it really is a small world.
Today I noticed that I had written a total of 98 posts thus far along my journey into the Land of Blog. I thought to myself, "Self...that's pretty cool. But, I wonder how long it will be until someone I know in "real" life, "meets" someone I know only from blogging?"
Well, kiss my grits and slap me silly, but it happened today. Today! I was completely flabbergasted and without words of any kind for a minute or so. Of course, I'm sure some sort of sound came out of me seeing as how my mouth was hanging open like an airplane hangar.
I logged on to my mother-in-law's blog and was scrolling through the comments and there it was. Fragrant Liar. I couldn't believe it. How did this happen?! The universe has tilted and worlds have collided!
At first I felt shocked. Then I felt confused. What the....?! Now I just feel weird. What's this? What's going on here, what's happening?!
My finely delineated and compartmentalized world has had the ink of its Sharpie perfect borders smudged and smeared and there are no longer Family Blogs and Bloggy Friend blogs. Holy hell.
You see, I draw mental lines around things. This is here and that is there and everything has a place. Nice, neat and psychotic, no?
I can see you there, sitting smugly behind your computer screen thinking, "This one's a freak, she is. Why does this have her so bamboozled?" (Wipe that judgemental smirk off your face, will you? It's SO unbecoming.)
This one's going to take some working out. I may have to call a therapist. (Nooooo...I am not already in therapy, thank you very much. What are you implying?!)
Thursday, July 23, 2009
At one point during our game, Snotty decided to make up a little game as well and set about attempting to teach The Duchess how to play 20 Questions. Snotty explained to The Duchess that she should think of a word and then whisper it to Mom. Then Snotty would try to guess what the word was by asking questions. "No problem!" squealed The Duchess and then excitedly thought of her first word and whispered it to me. The word was "truck." It was nothing short of hilarious to listen to The Duchess respond to the questions Snotty was asking in order to guess the secret word.
This went on for several minutes and then...it happened. The Duchess leaned forward and whispered, "Mom...the word is penis!" I looked at Mr. Right and started laughing. Of course, that set The Duchess off and she looked over at Snotty who had her ears covered so that she wouldn't hear the secret word and squealed delightedly, "It's PENIS!" This revelation prompted Snotty to start laughing and now that the four of us were laughing loudly enough to drown out Grumpy's Ipod, he pulled out his earphones and inquired what the deal was. The Duchess, in her best sing-song 4 year old voice, sang out loud and proud, "Penis, penis, penis!!"
To passers-by, we must have looked a sight. Four road weary people surrounded by luggage, rolling down the road laughing hysterically with tears streaming down our faces, and one incredibly delighted four year old waving her green apple Blo-Pop in the air while screaming the word penis.
I'm pretty sure I've lost yet another Mother of the Year nomination, but what the hell. Who needs a trophy when you can have a memory like that?
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Going to Pa's house almost always meant homemade ice-cream and turns swaying on the hammock. Hummingbirds stayed well-fed in the feeders he and Gram put out and I remember vividly, sitting on the front porch at Pa's drinking Gram's homemade lemonade and listening to the buzz of the hummingbirds. Such was life at Pa's place.
I was in my thirties when Pa first saw an ATM machine. My sister and I were going to take him and Gram to lunch and we pulled up to an ATM to withdraw some money. Pa was confused. "Well, where's the money come from?!" Pa had only dealt with the teller, whom he knew by name, in the bank of the little remote rural town where he spent the latter part of his life.
My grandfather had been a professional jockey in his younger days and therefore was diminutive in stature. I loved how small he was. He was the perfect kid-sized grandpa. He was big enough, however, to hold me down and tickle my feet until I laughed so hard I cried.
My Pa taught me how to tie my shoelaces.
Pa also taught me, without words, what love looks like. He and my Gram finished each other's sentences and she knew exactly what he was pointing to at the dinner table and would pass it to him without a word being spoken between them. They spent over fifty years loving each other.
Pa developed Alzheimer's a year or two before Gram passed away. Alzheimer's is a vicious and vile beast that brutally robs both the victims and those they love. When Gram could no longer care for Pa on her own, he was moved to a nursing home. I think it's what did Gram in.
At Gram's funeral, Pa seemed very lucid. He stood over Gram and cried and spoke softly to her. At the cemetery, as they lowered her casket into the ground, he cried and touched her casket and said, "Goodbye, Sweet Mama." He knew she was gone, and that was about the end of him. His mind faded fast, but his tiny body refused to quit.
Last week, Pa began refusing food and water. We knew it was only days before he would leave us. On July 19th, at 4:12 a.m., Jake's body had finally had enough.
His death marks the end of an era in my life. The Era of Grandparents. He was the last and I'm trying to adjust my brain to the reality that I am without grandparents.
The adjusting process has been going on for a while now. As Nancy Reagan once said, Alzheimer's is, "the long, long goodbye."
I didn't know Jake the man, really. I only knew Pa. And, the Pa I knew had a life worth celebrating. He and my Grandmother left us beautiful warm memories and the knowledge that we were loved. I couldn't ask for a more wonderful inheritance.
My grandfather's funeral is today. If I had just one more chance to be with him, I would ask him to to turn the crank on the old ice-cream machine one last time while I sat on the quilt that covered the bucket. I would tell him how much I loved him and how the memories that he and Gram made for me are the most cherished of my childhood. I would reach out to him, fold my arms around him, kiss that beautiful old leathery cheek of his and whisper goodbye.