Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Dearest Mommy...

Those of you who have read my blog since its beginning and those of you who actually know me, have probably gleaned by now that my relationship with my mother most likely has not been the inspiration for the writers of the flowery and saccharine Mother's Day cards that rest so peacefully in their little slots at Hallmark.

For so much of my youth I thought my mother a martyr. As an adult, I know that at times she was. What I also know is that my mother was human and as such, made mistakes... sometimes colossal ones, and that much of the time in her effort to preserve "Self," left her offspring fending for their own emotional lives.

There were times in our household when we came under physical assault and often there were visible wounds left in the aftermath which we dutifully hid away from the rest of the world with pants and shirtsleeves. These times I remember vividly and even as an adult have found myself waking from dreams of them with tears soggying up my poor innocent pillow.

It is the space between those violent bursts though, where lies the real fodder for the therapists and psychoanalysts!

Our father was a fairly consistent verbal abuser and we could trust that and rely upon it. The physical abuse happened mostly in a flash of rage without much warning which would allow us to duck or run. We knew mostly where we stood with Dear Old Dad. But Mother...she was a different story altogether.

I shan't go into it all, for the stories are not the point. (Maybe I'll go into those when I'm thinking you need a good shot of misery because your life has just been going along too swimmingly for you to bear and you need brought down a bit so you can realize that life really can be a bunch of muckity muck.)

The gist of this entire tale is that in my mind, our mother abandoned us when we needed her most. The young innocents she brought into the world were forced to sit in the nest unprotected while the predators prowled and the storms raged about.

I've forgiven her for it, really I have. But my definition of forgiveness may not be the same as yours. In fact, it's probably not. My philosophy about forgiveness is pretty much, "Well,'ve gone and really mucked things up haven't you? I understand the reasons and even if I don't, well, it is what it is. But see here, I shan't be inviting you to do it all over again you understand?"

Things might have been a bit different had there been efforts on Dearest Mommy's part to uplift, heal, nurture or love me as I grew into adulthood, but from where I stood, she only ever gave me what she was willing to give, possibly only what she was able to give, and that was not enough. I wanted and needed compassion, acceptance and unconditional love. So, I found those things in Mr. Right and in my children and in those few people who are not related to me by any close DNA match, but who are most definately my family.

Have you ever seen the movie, To Wong Foo.. Thanks For Everything. Love, Julie Newmar? It's one of my favorites. I don't mean to be a spoiler, but near the end of the movie, Patrick Swayze's character has an opportunity to confront his disapproving parents to whom he has always given in and by whom he has allowed himself to be criticized. He very emotionally, in all of his drag queen glory, looks at them and says, "Your approval is no longer desired, or required." And, he meant it.

So do I.

Don't get me wrong. The absence of feeling the necessity of acceptance and approval from my materfamilias does not mean I don't love her, because I do. It isn't however, the lovey, touchy, squeezy, " mum's my bestest friend ever" sort of stuff. It's more along the lines of "Here's yer comical Mother's Day card because I'm masking my painful childhood memories behind this bit of paper depicting a happy little cartoon weiner with appendages and googly eyes," kind of love.

As a rather glum tip of my hat to that one measly overly-commercialized day reserved each year to acknowledge our mothers, I offer you this poem-ish sort of letter I wrote to my own Dearest Mommy. I don't think I'll be writing for Hallmark anytime soon. (No matter what Aunt H. says!)

(Oh...circa 2000. A year before the divorce. I was heavily pondering all of my relationships apparently.)

Dear Mom,

Compassion is defined as a deep awareness of the suffering of another
coupled with the desire to relieve it.
I have suffered in my life.
I have experienced pain that I have inflicted upon myself and have endured pain at the hands of those who were supposed to care for me and protect me.
My pain is both of my own creation and inherited from those who came before me.

Have compassion for me.

Love has been described as a deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection toward a person arising from kinship, or, and underlying oneness.
We are different in many ways.
We have different ideas, different political and religious beliefs and our philosophies on various subjects don’t often agree. But, we have a oneness and are bound together by the universal threads of humanity and by the fate of DNA.

Love me.

Acceptance has many definitions, all with an underlying meaning: "To receive, especially with gladness…to believe in… to understand." I am learning to accept myself and to understand that my flaws and imperfections make me human. I am learning that we are all unique and that there is beauty in the individuality that separates us. I have also come to understand that we are all a part of the web of life united by the sameness of humanity;
all struggling, living, dying, crying, laughing, and suffering.

Accept me.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Belle of the Ballroom

Many years ago in a lifetime far far away, I was employed as an apartment manager for an apartment building directly next to campus at Oklahoma State University. Every year during the summer before school was to resume, the university held what was called a Renter's Fair. At this event, apartment complexes from all over town gathered and set up booths in the Student Union Ballroom for the purpose of distributing brochures and information about their respective rentals, to incoming students. An Apartmentpalooza of sorts.

The management company by which I was employed selected three apartment managers from the staff to represent their various buildings for rent. Being one of the three selected, I gussied myself up for the event in nylons, a long navy blue skirt, white & navy blue blouse and sassy navy pumps. I was looking mighty fine, I was.

I arrived at the Student Union Ballroom which now contained a hundred or so tables around its perimeter, and found my spot. Next to me at our table was a tall pretty girl named Shannon who I'd met before but didn't know well, and who managed a premier property that our company managed. We chatted throughout they day as we handed out information to hundreds upon hundreds of students.

About half-way through the day, I decided that a trip to the ladies room was in order and walked down the long corridor where it was located. Having properly taken care of business, I checked my hair in the mirror, applied some lip gloss, and decided to go back to the ballroom to retrieve my hairbrush so that I could touch up my coif.

So, back down that long corridor to the ballroom I went, passing students and smiling all the way.

I arrived at my table in the ballroom and turned by back to the center of the room and leaned over in order to access my purse where my brush was contained. From my left, I heard Shannon quietly say, "Amy..." I was quite intent on digging through my bag when I heard her say more loudly, "Amy!" A bit agitated now because I was having difficulty locating my hairbrush, I looked over and furrowed my brow and said, "What?!" She paused for a moment and then said, "Nothing."

It was at that moment, I felt the breeze. It was also at that very moment, I heard the giggling. As I raised myself to an upright position, I became acutely aware of the reason for the breeze...and the giggling.

The entire back of my skirt was tucked into the top of my pantyhose.

Yes, Friends. I had navigated the entire corridor of the O.S.U. Student Union Ballroom with my skirt gathered up into my knickers and then unknowingly pushed the limits of public decency by turning my derriere to the center of the room and leaning over at the waist so that my full moon could not help be viewed by the entirety of students gathered there and possibly even some sharp eyed astronauts that might have been happening by in their little shuttle.

I was, of course, completely mortified and looking to place blame for this shameful behavior on anyone but myself. In my most quiet scream, I inquired of Shannon, "Why didn't you tell me?! She looked right back and said, "I tried, but you were being bitchy so I thought I'd let you figure it out for yourself."

Well, alright then.

The worst part of this humiliating fiasco was that our company required us to go back to our apartments after the fair so that we would be available to speak with and hopefully rent to, all of the students who had gathered information and were interested in our apartments. I rushed home and changed clothes hoping that I might be unrecognizable to anyone who had witnessed the rising of the full moon earlier in the day.

Alas, 'twas not so.

I responded to many inquiries that day, some about the apartments I had for rent, but all of which began with, "Hey....were you the lady at the Student Union who flashed the ballroom?!"

Footnote: Shannon and I became best friends and remained so. To this day, she is still the person in my life who will tell me like it is and respond honestly when I ask, "Does my ass look fat in these pants?" I love that bitch.

Monday, April 27, 2009

I ♥ TV Land

My cutesy wutesy sweet baby cakes cockatiel, Darwin, is learning to whistle the theme song from the Andy Griffith Show and I must tell you, I'm much more thrilled than is proper. I find myself telling relative strangers about this astounding aviary feat with an excited voice and possibly a bit of giddy hopping around.

Since realizing that it is actually the tune he's whistling, I've been madly encouraging it by playing the song over and over on the computer. I can tell he really gets a kick out of it. He does. He's also figured out that if I'm out of the room and he starts whistling it, that I'll come blazing down the stairs to stand in front of him and "ooh" and "ahhh" and tell him what a pretty bird he is and what a good sweet boy his mommy thinks her Little Chicken is.

Have I ever told you that I sometimes channel Barney Fife? Mr. Right fancies bringing it to my attention when I do, although it's something seemingly out of my control. Barney was always my favorite even though I wished Andy could be my dad and that Opie could be my cute little red-headed brother. Andy took life a little too seriously, but Barney...he was always up for a good time.

I have have only had two celebrity sightings that I can recall. One of which was in a fancy schmancy restaurant in Dallas where I was standing with Mr. Right while waiting to be seated. I sensed someone standing next to me, but paid no mind until Mr. Right ventriloquized through his teeth and said, "Yook to yur yeft." I gave him my best furrowed brow look that said, "Are you completely senile?" Now that he had my attention, he gave me the international symbol for "look behind you" which is basically a crazy eyed, crooked mouthed head jerk upwards. Ever so subtly, I turned and encountered a pair of legs in pin striped pants. As my eyes traveled about four more feet upwards, they landed upon the face of Steve Harvey. That's it. Then he was whisked off to a private room, never to be seen by me again.

My other encounter was my favorite for a couple of reasons. The first being that this was a guy I really liked and the second being that I actually had a verbal exchange with him.

It went down in 1987 at the Collinsville Hilton Inn just across the river from the St. Louis airport. I was working as a front desk clerk and growing weary of my sassy little bow tie and starched skirt at the end of my shift. I was getting ready to run my nightly reports when I heard a man say, very shyly and subdued, "Excuse me." I looked up with my permanent Hilton Happy Face and looked dead straight into the eyes of Gilligan. That's right. Bob Denver. (No...not John Denver...Bob Denver. John Denver had a bowl haircut, glasses and sang Rocky Mountain High. Bob Denver slept in the top bunk above the Skipper and ruined every plan ever concocted by the Professor to get off the island.)

I looked at Mr. Denver and gracefully blurted out, "Oh my god!! You're Gilligan!" What could have got me a scowl and a poke in the eye, actually resulted in my getting a huge smile and a very polite, "Yes! Thank you. Most people don't recognize me these days." He was kind enough to give me his autograph (actually he just signed his check in sheet) which I saved, and then regrettably lost during the transient and gypsy like fourteen year phase called my first marriage.

When my oldest two children were young and we would take car trips, they would as children often do, become restless and beast like. At these moments, I would say, "Would you like me to tell you a story?" And no matter what their response, I would tell them a story. In my best Mystery Theatre voice I would begin. "Just sit right back and you'll hear the tale...the tale of a fateful trip, that started from this tropic port, aboard this tiny ship...."

Then, when in protest they would shout, "That's not a story, tell us a real story" I would say, "Okay, okay. Sit back and relax because this one is just going to kill you." I would then use my best Story Lady at the Library voice and begin. "Listen to a story 'bout a man named Jed. A poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed. Then, one day...he was shootin' at some food and up from the ground came a bubblin' crude. Oil that is. Black gold. Texas tea...."

I loved the Beverly Hillbillies because Granny reminded me of my own Granny Hazel. She was full of spit and vinegar and was like a tiny stick of dynamite. I also loved that the Clampetts were completely without knowledge of anything modern day or contemporary and thought that the pockets on the pool table were places to put their silverware and napkins. To this day, I still occasionally refer to doing math as "cypherin" and refer to my over sized cereal bowls as, "Jethro Bodine" sized.

All of my television watching experiences were in black and white. The aforementioned programs all began in black and white, but even after they were filmed in technicolor, I saw them in black and white. Sentimental philosophising, you say? No. My parents never once owned a color t.v. until I moved out of the house when I was seventeen. I moved out of the house in 1986. (Or more accurately, the household moved away from me, but that's an entirely different story.)

Television lost it's allure for me for many years after finding out that all of the shows were in color but I was still seeing them in black and white. It became my preference to spend my time outdoors where the real technicolor was or in the house behind a chair playing telephone operator with my sister, Inga, using the Sears catalog as the phone book. I was so out of touch with TV Land in fact, that when I moved for the first time from the country and in to town when I was eleven or so, I almost gave my middle school Speech and Drama teacher a heart attack.

Mrs. Bondurant was her name and she'd developed this evil plot to destroy me. Quite hateful of her I must say, because this was literally my first day of class in this new school and here she was trying to do me in.

The exercise involved the class breaking into four or five groups and picking a piece of paper out of a hat. Each paper had the name of a television program on it and each group was to concoct a little skit and act it out as the characters from that program would.

My group chose first and I stared in horror at the paper. I was utterly clueless as to what the program was. I quietly said, " mom doesn't let me watch that show." My fellow classmates looked at me with pity and politely drew another slip. Again...horror. Clueless again. I made up a silly excuse and they now, a bit disgruntled, plucked out another slip. (Well now, what was I to do? Who in the hell were the Munsters and how was I going to pull this one off?)

I'd never seen a single program that was on those slips in the hat. I've since made up for it and live out my viewing life in TV Land primarily in re-runs. I've now seen the Munsters (which I could have lived without) and just about every other show ever made. I'm nocturnal and the people who program t.v. must have discovered that animals such as myself love old re-runs because that's what plays in the late night hours.

There are a few shows that I can say with relative certainty, I've seen every episode. I'm a bonafide connoisseur of M*A*S*H, an avid Cheers fan, a lover of Frasier, a devotee of Will & Grace and the youngest Golden Girl.

To you, Maude...Dorothy...Bea, I thank you for your contribution to TV Land. You brought laughter to millions, including me. I'll never forget that "cuter than" rhymes with "intra uterine" or that cheesecake is the best cure for just about anything. You will be missed.

So, does anyone have the theme song to The Brady Bunch done up all whistley like? I can't go having my Little Chicken being a one trick pony.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Underneath It All

Some people (and I shan't go shouting out names) have the impression that I'm pessimistic, unhappy and altogether fraught with terminal angst. It is my desire, duty, to dispel this horrible and vicious rumor!

Here's the problem. And, to be perfectly honest, it's not a lick of a problem for me. It's only a problem for those who don't know me or understand "where I'm coming from." (Yes, that was below mediocre grammar, but I'm taking artistic license here. My 12th grade English teacher told me that it's perfectly acceptable, so bite me.) The problem is, that I actually entertain myself by being bitchy and or melodramatic. I'm kind of a self-contained, one woman acting troupe, and all of the actors are Me!

Maybe it's because my parents never bought toys for me, thereby forcing me into either laying around listlessly conjuring up menacing ways to seek revenge upon them, or into developing my own obscenely saucy and clever little world where I was the star.

Or, maybe it's because my childhood was riddled with events too overwhelming and unhappy for my teeny undeveloped brainbox to process so I learned to use humor as the train on which I would eventually ride out of Crazy Town.

Whatever the reasons, I yam what I yam, and I yam at the very core of Me, a happy, if not slightly goofy (possibly very more than slightly), bit of a girl. I say girl, because I've not quite grown up and into my age as of yet. At least not the real Me.

My alter ego is quite the serious minded and terribly organized multi-tasker who keeps her house as tidy as a pin, her children neat, clean, fed, hugged and kissed, her husband patted on the head, loved, seduced and the bills paid and everything running like a well-oiled piece of domestic machinery. My alter ego is all woman, she is!

But underneath those womanly knickers, there's a cute little pink & white polka dot pair (no...I don't really wear two pairs of knickers, Silly Reader...) emblazoned across the bum with, "I ♥ Geeks." And yes, my knickers really do say that, so you see? You can tell who I really am by taking a peek at my unmentionables.

And where pessimism is concerned, I don't consider myself as such. I do have the habit (and a clever one at that, I think), of always preparing for the worst. My philosophy is that if I've prepared myself for the world to explode in a giant blast of some sort and it ends up only letting out a slight burp, then, woo-hoo! In the event that it actually does end, well then now...I'm prepared, aren't I?! I consider myself to be optimistic about the prospect of the possibly horrible inevitable. But trust me, if the world does come to an end and you've been flitting around like a jolly little Polly Anna, it's my door you'll want to come banging at. My cupboards are fully stocked with enough toilet tissue and canned goods to keep a small army happily clean on their undersides and properly full in their bellies for quite some time.

Let's assess for a moment. Have I covered everything? Oops. No. The notion that I might be unhappy hasn't been dealt with yet. Right-o.

I am not unhappy, although I'm not always happy. Get it? I can't very well walk around with a grin plastered to my face now can I? That would just be a flat out filthy lie! The point is, that I make a conscious choice to be happy and even when unhappy things happen, it doesn't diminish my ultimate joy which lies at the core of Me. Yes, I may bitch and moan and behave in a most melodramatic fashion, but's mostly for my own entertainment. I soon get over it and laugh at myself and think, "Silly Girl! That behavior was quite unbecoming. Now shape up and get on with things!" And I do.

Terminal angst. Let's get to that one. Utterly and irrefutably not Me.

Flashback eight years or so and it was my photograph there beside the words, Terminal Angst, in Mr. Webster's dictionary. Life was a wretched wreck and the Humor Train had been long since abandoned and an entirely different train had taken me straight back to Crazy Town. Flashfoward a few years, and it's a different life completely. Almost as though I'd stepped into someone else's beautiful silky slippers, unbeknownst to them, and assumed their enchanted identity. Amazing what a year or so with a Buddhist therapist, a divorce, some serious chutzpah and the right partner can do!

There. I think we've covered it all.

In my February blog titled, Getting to Know Me, I listed out several things that I thought might help one, well...get to know me. You will quickly surmise when perusing this list that, "This lady is a right nut job," but I suppose there's a lot you wouldn't know about me after reading that list as well.

It can be difficult, when reading one's blog, to determine what the true nature of that person is. After all, the computer screen behind which we all sit and type is a most excellent disguise.

So, here I am in all my glory for you to have a look at and spin around and take a gander at my knickers.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Letter to My Daughter

Dear Snotty,

Friday was your 13th birthday party. It should have been an occasion for much happiness, but instead, I spent the evening fighting back tears and then completely losing the battle and giving in to them.

Every year for the past three years or so, you have complained about the ideas I've had for your birthday parties. But, always after much ado, we come to an agreement and in the end, I manage to pull off a smashing affair.

So, this year I braced myself again for the storm and it swept in as usual, battering me and threatening to do me in. You wanted to take six friends to the mall and go shopping, eat dinner and then spend the night terrorizing a hotel room. (Where DO you come up with these ideas?!) I suggested something more low-key, like a party at our house. At the very mention of it, you went into whiny crying mode and sat on the couch with tears and mucus streaming down your face. A bit of overkill on your part, don't you think?

I explained to you that I'm fairly certain that none of your friends were expecting the grand hoopla you were envisioning, due to the fact that their parties which you attended, didn't even so much as include an actual invitation inviting you. Nor did they involve going anywhere, doing anything and only once included an actual cake!

So, we sat and planned together and came to the decision that you could invite five friends to come over after school. We would eat pizza, go see a movie at the theater, come home and decorate birthday cupcakes, and make ice cream sundaes with the works. To top off the evening, they could all sleep over.

Last Sunday evening, I stayed up late filling out detailed invitations for you to give out at school on Monday. Bedazzled invitations. Really cute ones that cost $2 each. Invitations in which I asked parents to please R.S.V.P. so that I could plan accordingly for food, movie tickets and travel. Invitations to which not one single parent bothered responding.

So, unbeknownst to you, I spent the week travelling from store to store hunting down the lime green and dark purple decorations you'd requested. The Duchess and I burned through a tank of gas going to hobby stores, party stores, malls and grocery stores shopping for the things I thought would make your party fun and memorable for you.

By the time you and your friends piled through the door after school on Friday, I'd already spent six hours of the day cleaning, baking, shopping and decorating.

As you stood with your friends in the kitchen, you asked if I could take Monica home before the movie. I was quizzical.

Monica? Why isn't Monica going to the movie with us? Oh...wait. I hadn't filled out an invitation for Monica. Monica was being sprung on me. So, now on top of having five teenagers in my care whose parents didn't bother taking sixty seconds out of their busy schedules to pick up the phone to call me and say, "Yes! My daughter can come and thank you for inviting her", I had a surprise and unplanned for sixth guest. No biggie. I know how to fly by the seat of my pants.

So, I smiled and sweetly asked if Monica had permission to go to the movie because if so, we'd love to have her come along. In response, you turned on your heels and headed up the stairs with your posse.

I stood in the kitchen for a moment. I wondered if you'd noticed the green and purple balloons everywhere, or all of the ribbons I'd curled, or the special cupcake stand I'd purchased especially for the occasion. I wondered if you'd noticed that I'd divided the kitchen into stations. One for cupcake decorating, one for ice cream sundae assembly and one for snacks and drinks. I wondered if you had one inkling of how many hours and dollars you'd just turned your back on.

Pizza arrived and you ate without a word to me. Your friends thanked me as they ate and they seemed to be having fun.

We piled into the car to go to the movie and when we arrived, as you'd requested, Mr. Right, The Duchess and I sat nowhere near you and your friends. Earlier in the week you'd insisted that The Duchess not even be allowed to go because you thought she'd beg to sit with you and your friends and ruin your night.

While I was at the snack stand purchasing drinks for we outcasts, your friends came up short on funds to make their purchases. So, I swooped in and bought them a giant tub of popcorn and drinks for all of you to share. They thanked me profusely and went happily back to their seats.

As I chauffeured you all home, I was never spoken to and grew weary of all of the whispering behind me, so I cranked up the radio a bit and entertained myself with some tunes.

Upon arrival at the house, you decided that it was time to decorate cupcakes. A few minutes in, I asked if anyone was ready for sundaes and a couple of your friends said that they were, so I started dishing out ice-cream. You got out of your chair and walked over to the sink where I was and said, "We're going to do sundaes in a few minutes. You can go."

A week's worth of running around, a bucket load of money spent, a day entirely devoted to making sure that things were just perfect for you...and I was being dismissed.

I'll admit that my middle aged hormones have not been completely behaving for the past couple of days, but I don't know if I can totally hold them accountable for the tears that welled up in my eyes.

When it was time for you to open your gifts and I was allowed back to take pictures, The Duchess excitedly asked you to open her gift. She'd picked it our herself, personally written and drawn on the card she'd picked for you, strong armed me that morning into buying a Sponge Bob Square Pants balloon to attach to it and now she was beside herself with anticipation. She ran over to stand by you so that as you opened your card she could show you how the bottom of it folded open and turned into a 3-D flowerpot and how the top of it looked like flowers. She told you excitedly of how she'd picked it out herself.

As you pulled the necklaces she'd picked for you out of their paper, you made a mumbled comment about them being nice and, "thank you." The Duchess walked around the table, climbed back up on her chair and said, "I thought maybe you would like me if I got them for you."

I actually had to put down my camera and hold on to the counter. My heart was breaking inside my chest. I looked at you and said, "Isn't that sweet? Do you have anything to say to your sister?" You just looked at me and said in your best Snotty voice, "I said thank you!"

And the tears won.

When you and your friends went to your room after you opened your presents, I spent an hour or so in the kitchen putting things away and cleaning. I calculated in my head the hours and money spent on your day. I thought about how terrible a parent I must be to deserve being ignored, unappreciated and dismissed. I thought about how it seems that no matter what I do, it never seems to be good enough for you.

By the time I'd tucked The Duchess into bed and told you and your friends for the last time that it was after midnight, "quiet down," my heart was heavy, my eyes were wet, and my head hurt.

I know that you are a teenager and that there are a million hormones racing through you and that you probably down deep inside somewhere resent me for divorcing your dad when you were five and that you think I'm a complete dork. I know these things, but it doesn't help much.

Sometimes the human being that is me, aches and cries over your rotten behavior. Sometimes the Mom that can be kicked around and abused gets cracks in her exterior and becomes susceptible to pain and heartache. Sometimes it is difficult to remember that the insolent teenager in front of me was once the sweet little girl who wanted nothing more to sit on her mother's lap and snuggle up and read a book.

So, happy birthday, Snotty. Behind that clumpy mascara and the name brand shirts you insist on having, I know who is really there. And I wish that little girl, much much happiness.



Saturday, April 18, 2009

Love From the Land of Blog

Tonight has been not so very grand as I would have liked. I'll tell you about it soon.

It's after midnight and I came down to my office downstairs to shut down the computer. (I'm lying my filthy arse off. I came down because I'm hopelessly and shamelessly addicted to blogging.) Anyway, when I opened my blog and was wiping away the embarrassing streaky stains of mascara from my cheeks, I noticed that there was a note from my Bloggy Friend, Andrea.

This is what it said:

" Now, I would like to recognize a woman who I think is absolutely entertaining, witty, and a great storyteller. I look forward to stopping by Amy (Uncensored) everyday and I think she deserves this award. So, Amy, this one's for you!"

And then she proceeded to bestow upon me, my first and only bloggy award. Take a look see for yourself then if you don't believe it!

True confession stinking self pity flitted right out of my little brain and my heart suddenly became bucket loads lighter.

So thank you, Andrea. You truly made my day. (It's 12:09 a.m. here, so I'm not entire day will be ever so much lovelier because of your random act of kindness.)

That Andrea, she's a keeper that one. Stop by and see her at

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Stop, or I'll...Put my Car in Drive!

There are times when my brainbox verges on exploding into zillions of tiny pieces. One such moment came last Saturday evening on a ride home in the car with Mr. Right.

I let myself in for things. I really do. I sometimes long to be one of those wives who keeps conversation to a minimum and who just bustles around happily letting her man do the thinking, oblivious to the fact that her skull actually contains a bit of gray matter of its own.

But, alas...I'm not one of those women. *Sigh*

So as usual, when there is a bit of silence between us in the car, I ask Mr. Right if he's heard or read any of the latest news. (I ask out of politeness because Mr. Right doesn't read anything if it's not related to school or work. This being said, Mr. Right still seems to know most everything about anything and challenges me at every turn.)

Earlier in the day I'd read a news story regarding the absolutely frightening rash of mass murders that have occurred in the past couple of months. The headline of this article, which was expounded on within the text, was something along the lines of, "Killers All Had Licenses to Carry Guns."

Mr. Right and I have had a few brief conversations about guns and the issue of gun control in the past and we are on utterly different planets with regard to the issue. Just to be clear, I take the position that fewer weapons in the hands of fewer people would make the world ever so much lovelier. Mr. Right takes the position that every human being has the right to be armed and dangerous.

So, why you ask, did I bring up the latest headline on that fateful Saturday drive? My only defense is temporary insanity. I'm going with the Twinkie Defense.

Anyway, it went something like this:

Me: "So did you read where all of those mass murderers had legal licenses to carry their guns?"

Mr. Right: "Hm. So?"

Me: "Well, obviously that says something about our current protocol for obtaining guns. It's seriously flawed."

Mr. Right: "You can't tell if a person is crazy when they go to get a gun permit."

Me: "Exactly. That's why we need a better system."

Mr. Right: "If you had your way, no one would have guns. The fact of the matter is, if you take guns away, people who want to kill will find other ways to do it."

Me: "That's a chance I'm willing to take."

Mr. Right: "Taking guns away isn't going to change people who want to kill. They'll just do something like use their car as a weapon."

Wait...did you read that right? Yes. You did. He actually said that people would use their cars as weapons. This is where my brain began to reel.

Me: "WHAT?! You mean to tell me that you actually believe that a guy who opens fire in a school and kills thirteen people, if not given access to a weapon, is going to drive his CAR into the school and run over thirteen people?!"

Mr. Right: "Yeah."

Before I continue, let me explain something to you. This kind of nonsense makes me lose all control over the ability to control the octave in which I speak. It also prompts a dialogue to begin running in the background of my brain. A little voice starts saying things like, "Oh my god! He's actually insane! I've married a loon! He's crazy! Oh my gosh...maybe I'm crazy! No! I'm not crazy, he's crazy!" This voice can be quite distracting whilst I'm persevering in making my point, it can.

Me: (At several octaves higher) "That's one of the stupidest things I've ever heard! That ranks right up their with your buddy W telling me that we shouldn't allow homosexuals the right to get married because the next thing you know, people will be marrying goats."

Okay, yes. W really said that. In W's mind, if two gay people who are in love and committed to each other enter into legal marriage, then the natural progression is that people will attempt to legally marry their farm animals. Makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

Yes. If you're INSANE!

By this time, Mr. Right had dug in his heels and, as usual, would not admit that he was stretching ridiculousness to it's capacity. I accused him of playing Devil's Advocate, which he does quite often, and to which he will never admit.

As we pulled into our driveway, I was yelling things like, "I REFUSE TO SPEAK TO YOU WHEN YOU'RE BEING STUPID!" and "I'D REALLY LIKE TO SEE SOMEONE HOLD UP A CONVENIENCE STORE AT CARPOINT!" Loverly.

I must learn to keep my mouth shut. It would drastically curb the recurrence of events such as this, would most certainly stifle the urge to get in my car and take out a herd of goats and very probably keep that little voice inside my head from yammering so loudly that I'm forced to yell over it to be heard.

Oh. Yes. I'm the only one who hears that voice, right? Sorry then.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Easter Bunny Sucks and Santa is Dead

Yesterday morning, The Duchess woke me up two hours early in order to announce that the Easter Bunny had indeed arrived. Well, fancy that.

As she tore down the stairs to retrieve her basket from its place on the hearth, I used the time to close my eyes and hope for some kind of sleep miracle that would cause me to instantly fall into a deep slumber from which I could not be awakened until I was properly rested. And by rested, I mean sometime next week.

You see, the Easter Bunny put lots of effort into going to the bank to get $5 bills to stuff into brightly colored plastic eggs for Grumpy and Snotty, the drugstore to purchase makeup suitable for The Duchess, to Super Target for candy for all of the little wretches and to approximately six other retail stores in order to completely overdo the entire consumer driven Easter story to which we Heathens subscribe. This was, of course, on top of all of the other duties the Easter Bunny normally has. When not being the Bunny, he is scrubbing toilets, running errands, vacuuming and chasing around after a very flouncy bouncy four year old.

Needless to say, by the time Easter morning rolled around, the Bunny was tuckered out. Although tired, the Bunny was also proud of a job well done and was awaiting the ebullient shouts of glee soon to be bellowed forth by the three recipients of the overflowing baskets.

What came next, rocked the Bunny to his very core and will forever change his little sugar coated bunny heart. What came next, was the sound of The Duchess.....crying.

As I sat with camera in hand to catch this special moment in the life of The Duchess, she pointed to Snotty's basket and inquired, "Who's basket is that?" When I told her it was Snotty's she burst into tears.

Me: "What's the matter?!"

The Duchess: (pointing to Snotty's basket) "I want that bunny!"

Me: "THAT bunny?! That's a tiny little bunny. Look at your bunny. It's big and has a pretty dress and hat on! The Easter Bunny picked it out especially for you!"

The Duchess: (with tears in her eyes) "My bunny is the very ugliest bunny EVER!"

Well, Damn. The Easter Bunny really stunk it up this time.

In the ensuing brouhaha which basically involved me attempting to convince The Duchess that her bunny was the most beautiful rabbit ever produced in a sweatshop by underpaid workers in Taiwan, and her crying and coveting her sister's $3.99 stuffed bunny, Snotty showed up and took one look at her basket and said to The Duchess, "I don't want my rabbit. You can have it."

Sure, I could have been pissed that twice in the same five minute period, both of my daughters had completely insulted my ability to select appropriate stuffed animals for them, but instead I chose to see the silver lining. The Duchess wasn't stuck with the very ugliest bunny ever. Tragedy averted. Thanks, Snotty.

Later in the evening as I was putting dinner dishes away, The Duchess asked me, "Mommy, is the Easter Bunny for real?" Without skipping a beat, I said, "No. Mommy is the Easter Bunny and Mommy is Santa Clause too."

The Duchess: "Oh."

And that's that.

The Duchess in her Easter regalia, after the tragedy had been averted

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Choosing Joy

The end of my Age of Innocence - 1979

When asked about my childhood, my first impulse is to declare it as "dysfunctional" or "unhappy."

It cannot be denied that my upbringing was less than ideal. It was at times physically abusive, most all of the time emotionally abusive, and all of the time impoverished not only in a financial sense, but also in the sense that there was seemingly never enough love and affection to go around.

In keeping with my resolve at the beginning of the year to reclaim my Joy, I decided to take a broom and give the corners of my mind a good brisk sweeping. In doing so, I've discovered that although there are many unhappy and damaging memories from my childhood, there are also some jewels strewn among the debris.

*When I was not yet in school and was the only child at home during the day with my mother, I remember her making homemade bread. My favorite memories of this are of her braiding the bread, which I thought was just beautiful, and of her giving me my own little piece of dough so that I could bake my own loaf. I love the smell of homemade bread to this day.

*One of my earliest memories is of tasting baby aspirin. You know, the little orange Bayer ones? I think I probably faked being sick a hundred times just so I could get those little orange bits of delight.

*My Gram Colclasure made the best homemade ice-cream in the world in my opinion and I always got to sit on the bucket while Pa churned it. As payment, I would get the first scoop of ice-cream. I will take the taste of Gram's banana ice-cream with me to the grave.

*My Gram also taught me about hunting 4-leaf clovers. In southern Illinois, there is no shortage of clover and I spent hours on her farm in quest of the ever elusive 4-leafer. Anytime I spy a clover patch, I always get down to look...just in case.

*My Pa and my father were both professional jockeys. My father became a trainer after he couldn't ride professionally anymore and so for the better part of my life I grew up on racetracks and horse ranches. I learned not only a great deal of respect for those beautiful animals, but a true love for them as well. I still can't enter a horse barn without inhaling deeply and taking in their warm and lovely smell.

*One of the delightful things about having parents that were too preoccupied with their own lives to pay attention to what you were doing, was being able to run wild from morning 'til night. We always lived out in the country and our entertainment was the rowdy and rough play of little country bumpkins running along the train tracks, digging clay out of the cliffs by the stream so that we could make tiny pots and dry them in the sun, climbing on barn roofs, climbing up trees and running barefoot through acres and acres of seemingly giant rows of corn stalks. Sometimes I still miss the feeling of damp dirt between my toes.

*In southern Illinois, there is also no shortage of blackberries. They grow wild and we had vast patches of them in the woods down the road from our house. Buckets in tow, we'd spend the day picking and eating, eating and picking. Inevitably, we'd all end up with chiggers all over our bodies and spend a couple of miserable days trying to rid ourselves of them with every hideous home remedy my Granny Hazel had in her book of magic potions. The reward was homemade blackberry jam. There's nothing quite like it.

*My Granny Hazel was a world class pack rat. Every nook and cranny of her house was stuffed full of This and That. When she ran out of room in her house, she managed to fill an Airstream trailer in her back yard with more of This, and even more of That. The really great thing about this from the standpoint of a kid, is that you could build a slammin' Halloween costume at Granny's house in no time flat. She had hats and wigs, scarfs and coats, shoes and fishnet stockings, make-up, gloves and any other wondrous thing that you could possibly want or need. During the time that my family lived in close proximity to my Granny, my sister and I would win or place in our school's Halloween parade every year. It made Granny so proud when I brought her my first place prize of a shark tooth necklace. After that, she'd try to outdo herself every year.

*My Granny Hazel also had a big wooden bridge that crossed a giant deep ditch in her yard. My sister and I played Billy Goat's Gruff every time we visited Granny. It was the most fun and sometimes a little scary! Years later when I was much older, I went to visit Granny and asked her where that giant ditch was with the big bridge over it. I'd looked in the yard and didn't see it. She said, "Well, it's right out there, right where you left it!" When we went to look together, I saw it. It was a rinky dinky little ditch with a tiny little bridge over it. It had seemed so big and mysterious and wonderful to a seven year old. I'm so glad I had visited my Granny because it was the last time I ever saw her alive. But, I wish I'd never seen that ditch. I liked it just the way it was in my seven year old memory.

*When my family moved from Illinois to Oklahoma, we moved to a horse ranch and the ranch owner just happened to have two sons who were the ages of my sister and I. Instant friends! We had so much fun on that ranch. We learned how to build intricate mazes out of hay bales in the hay barn and at the end of those mazes were secret forts where we could hide away from the adult world. And, who said painting fences isn't fun?! Four kids, paint brushes and gallons of white paint on a hot summer day? It's a sure recipe for loads of fun, four really white kids, and poorly painted fences. At the end of those days though, fishing off the dock and ending up in the pond to cool off was a treat. This was also where I learned the difference between a good persimmon and a bad one (still makes me pucker just thinking about it), how to drive a riding lawnmower and the joy of spinning cats in buckets on a hot-walker. (If you don't know what I'm talking about in that last part, I'd be happy to tell you, but if you're a cat lover you might not want to ask.)

The days on that farm in Oklahoma were the last of my happy memories of childhood. I was growing up and life for my parents was on a downhill slide for the next several years until it all ended horribly with reverberating consequences that ripple through us all still.

I actually have more happy things on my list, but I won't bore you with them all. I'm glad I made the list and I'm glad that they took up an entire page. It's not possible to weigh them against all of the bad memories and see if there is a weird sort of balance there, because there isn't. It's almost as though the good memories and the bad memories are two separate movies that I have running through my head.

If I look at it like that, I can choose to replay the one I like the most and let the other just slowly disintegrate until there is nothing left but a wee bit of something that I can stick in my pocket and pat gently now and again.

"A childhood is what anyone wants to remember of it."

Carol Shields

Monday, April 6, 2009

Two is the Lonliest Number

One night after closing down the Grapevine bar in Dallas, Mr. Right and I, along with our friends, Kyle, Eli, Jeff and Brian, hit the IHOP for some post-partying grub. We all piled into a giant booth and checked out the menus for the biggest baddest artery clogging breakfasts we could find. It's just what you do after downing gallons of frozen peach Bellinis and shaking your groove thing.
So, there we sat looking at the menus and something astonishing caught my eye. Right there on the menu in a national chain restaurant, was a typo! I looked up and said, "Oh my gosh! They spelled "two" wrong!" As everyone looked at their menu and tried to find the error, my eye caught the same error in another place...then another! "Oh my gosh!" I said. "They misspelled "two" everywhere!" Eli leaned in and said, "Where?!" I pointed to the menu and said, "See? Right there!" Eli looked and paused for a minute. "They did! Oh my gosh!" Mr. Right looked at us quizzically and said, "Where?!" I said, "Everywhere! They spelled "two" wrong everywhere! Look! They spelled it T-W-O...!"

In my head, I was reading the word "two" as though it were pronounced twoh. I blame the peach Bellinis. Anyway, the second I said it, I knew. All the boys looked at me and erupted into raucous laughter.

Jeff, who laughs like The Count from Sesame Street couldn't contain himself. Tears ran down his face and he was leaning out of his chair holding his stomach. I punched Eli in the arm because he was now in hysterics and he was the one who thought "two" was spelled wrong too! Kyle was squealing and banging on the table as Mr. Right sat and looked at me with that look. By this time, I was laughing so hard at Jeff laughing that I went into Silent Laughter Mode. I had tears running down my face and was holding my stomach, but no sound was coming out of my mouth.

We must have looked like a bunch of fools. But, we didn't care. It was one of those moments where there was no one else in the world but us. Six friends in a pancake house, laughing until they cried.

To this day, every time one of them calls me and tells me that they went out to eat, they tell me that they had twoh of something.

I love you guys, and....I miss you so much.