Monday, September 28, 2009

Would You Prefer A Black One With White Stripes or a White One With Black Stripes?

I decided to have a look at Craigslist tonight because there's always something interesting or funny or completely inappropriate to be found. I'm so glad I did.

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

(Maybe he could train it to do this?)

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Not So Equanimous Equinox

It has been no secret the extent to which I am enamored with autumn. There isn't a single thing about it that I don't adore. My love for this time of year probably oozes out of my pores and I couldn't hide it if I wanted to.

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

Orange You Glad It Wasn't You?

CRAP. It's now officially the 15th of September. Half the month is already gone and much to my shame, I've only managed to post one blog.

Once again, I've allowed myself to get caught up in the news (if you can call it that) and let my bloomers get in a twist. What is WRONG with me?! I have a self-imposed rule of not engaging in debates with others about politics or religion and I have broken that rule on several occasions during the past couple of weeks. I'm here here to tell you that I've had a very stern conversation with Me and may have even kicked my own ass a few times. I have promised Me to knock it off and get back to doing what Mr. Right always tells me to do. "Just hush up and sit there and look pretty." (I'm going to really catch some shiznit for that one.)

The tizzy I've been in has had me so mind-numbingly befuddled that I forgot to tell you about The Great Hair Incident. This one goes down on the books as one of the greats. Or...the worsts. However you want to look at it.

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.

I arrived at my appointment with The Duchess in tow. I was going to be there less than an hour and the Duchess l-o-v-e-s to go to hair salons, nail salons, shoe stores...anywhere there's girly stuff. She's an angel that way. Behaves marvelously. So, off I went, explaining to my stylist exactly what I wanted. Ms. Thing who was all of 21, smiled and said, "Do you want your roots done? The gray is starting to really show through." Well, hell. I debated for a minute or two while studying my roots and then, of course, opted for some color to be slapped on my head.

Ms.Thing proceeded to squeeze a bottle full of chemicals into my hair that smelled like it could peel paint off a barn. She massaged it into my head, patted it ever so sweetly, then...left. Apparently, she'd double booked herself and had another client to tend to. This did not bode well. As I read a magazine and listened to The Duchess make up hundreds of nonsensical knock knock jokes at which I pretended to laugh hilariously, I watched the clock's hands almost seem to go backwards. Ms. Thing finally came over and checked on me and said, "Five more minutes." She went back to her other client and came back in thirty minutes. I'd been there an hour and a half and, over an hour of that time, I'd been sitting with smelly goo in my hair.

By the time Ms. Thing came to rinse out my hair, my scalp was itching and burning a bit. The Duchess followed me over to the sink and as my hair was being rinsed out, she kept saying things like, "Oh, Mommy! Your hair is so pretty" and, "Mommy, your hair matches my shorts!" Her shorts were pink. Oh, shit.

Back in the chair, the towel came off and sure as shootin', Mommy's hair was pink. Damn. Ms. Thing made quite a production about asking me if my "hair pulled red." What?! I guess that's beauty school speak for, "Does your hair naturally have red in it ma'am?" Deciding loudly that, "This just won't do, " she proceeded to squeeze another bottle of goo into my hair. Thirty minutes later, she returned from her other client to check my head which was now whimpering and whining a bit. (Or, maybe that was me.)

Off to the sink we went for another rinse. The Duchess leaned over the chair next to me and said, "Mommy...your hair looks like the sun!" In my head, I was dropping the f-bomb like a sailor on shore leave.

Back to the chair with the towel off and now...Mommy's hair did indeed look like the sun. The kind of sun you see in picture books about the Old West where a cowboy and his horse are headed into the sunset and there's a lovely tangerine glow blazing over the horizon.
By now, I'd spent 2 1/2 hours in the chair. My stomach was growling and I was nervous that the Duchess would soon be growing restless. Quite frankly, between the hunger pangs, worrying about The Duchess and the ever increasing feeling that my scalp was going to spontaneously combust, I was a bit of a wreck. My foot began tapping incessantly and I couldn't seem to control it. Not only was I having minor heart palpitations about the state of my hair, I couldn't keep my eyes off of the poor girl who was Ms. Thing's other victim. She'd been sitting in a full-on foil hair do under a dryer for about an hour now. I had visions of us clinging to each other and crying as we sat in our jail cell together for the beating death of one, Ms. Thing: beauty school dropout.

I picked up my cell phone and called Mr. Right and asked him to high tail it in my direction the very second he could leave work. And, because he is indeed Mr. Right, he assured me that he would wrap things up a.s.a.p and come to the rescue of his fair tangerine-haired maiden.

After consulting a couple of other stylists, Ms. Thing informed me that she was going to put a "toner" on my hair. She also informed me that because she had totally crapped up my hair (not what she said, but what I was thinking), she would only charge me for the cut and not the color. I looked at the clock. Three hours into this and I hadn't even had my hair cut yet.

"Toner" in place, I sat and waited. Again. Then, back to rinse. Still orange. Another toner. Better, but still resembling the glow emitted from a Napalm drop in those Vietnam movies.

By this time, Mr. Right had arrived to rescue The Duchess and take her for drink. (She was treated to a Sprite although I think she much more deserved a vodka tonic for all she'd been put through.) Ms. Thing was hovering over me asking if the color was okay so of course I lied and told her it was. I'd been there for three and a half hours for hell's sake. It was time for a cut.

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.

Mr. Right convinced me not to touch my hair until the next morning. "Let it rest," he said. I have no idea what that meant. But, I let it rest.

The next morning, I showered and washed my hair. It still reeked and my head still hurt. I exited the shower, towel-dried my hair and began to style it. It didn't work. One side flipped under perfectly and the other side went in three different directions. still glowed orange. Finally, I turned and held a small mirror up to check the back of my head and noticed for the first time that I had a huge, almost black patch of hair, right at the back of my head. Ms. Thing had colored the underside of my hair in back, four shades darker than my normal hair color which was now twenty shades darker than my current day-glo tangerine blond. I'm somewhat embarrassed to tell you that I looked like a hooker.

I cried. Then I called Mr. Right and cried. Then I called the salon manager and cried.

Long story short, (HA!!! My loquaciousness cannot be stifled!) a lovely stylist named Elizabeth, managed to do a decent job of removing the orange and patching up the horrifically unbalanced layers in my hair and didn't charge me a thing. I tipped her twenty bucks for her time and for managing to not make my hair fall out.

My hair turned out so light that my roots started showing almost immediately. And, I still had the black patch in back. So, this past Saturday morning, I'd had enough. I reached up to the top shelf in the closet and pulled down the box of "Champagne Blond" hair color. (Preference by L'Oreal, because I'm worth it, dammit.) Mr. Right almost stroked out. "What are you DOING?! Your hair is going to fall OUT!" I was willing to take my chances.

Twenty-five minutes later, a rinse and a blow dry and ta-da!! Hair that no self-respecting hooker would be caught dead with. It looked damn normal. Unfortunately, I have no skill in cutting hair, so I haven't been able to rectify the lousy cut. I have, however, been seriously contemplating cutting it all off and starting over. I look great with short hair, but Mr. Right has been exercising his Constitutional right to peaceful protest.

I shall take Mr. Right's wishes into consideration, carefully weigh my feelings about growing my hair out all over again (it's an excruciatingly long process), consider all of my options, then go get my hair cut like Halle Berry's. Uh...yeah. I wanna look like this:

A haircut will accomplish that, right? Right....

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Great Escape

The dreams came with relative frequency. At least that's the way my memory tells it. They were the fitful dreams that came in the night and only disappeared when the sun came up over the horizon. You know the ones. The ones that are so real you can feel the blood pumping through your veins and your legs burning from the exhaustion of running all night long. The ones that seem to last as long as the curtain of night is drawn and the ones that keep visiting you no matter how many times you wake up drenched in your own sweat trying desperately to close the door on them. Yes...those dreams.

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.