…the best way out is always through

“…the best way out is always through.” Robert Frost, A Servant to Servants.

Long time ago we used to have a dwarf rabbit named Bugs, the first pet our family had that wasn’t a fish. When Bugs died, Spanky cried and asked me, “Will I ever get over this?”

She would get over this, I knew she would. She was only about eight years-old at the time, would she remember she’d had a pet rabbit at all? I didn’t tell her she might completely forget Bugs. Or forget this entire conversation when she learned about mortality.

Mortality, I’ll tell you when you worry most about that.

When a child is born, parents start a countdown. I’d like to think most of us, at the very least, want to live to see our child reach adulthood.

So on Spanky’s eighteenth birthday, I felt a great sense of accomplishment. She grew up with both parents, was never orphaned. I’m pointing out Spanky because she is the youngest. I felt the same about the other two but I still had the finish line on the entire parenting thing to think about.

What crept up on me the entire time I was raising my children was the flip-side of this countdown. They’re going to leave. Go to college. Get married. They have to. This is life.

And this is where things are right now and it has my mind in a complete state of fuckery and it hurts and this was a long time coming and I know I’m being selfish…

BUT

Will I ever get over this?

Discovered this Frost quote on a bathroom wall in a bookstore near the campus where Spank is going to college when I took her to orientation this summer

This too, same stall. Walls do talk.

Borders

I hate it that everyone in this town has tall wooden fences and I’d prefer not to have one, but if I didn’t, I’d have nothing to look at but the outside of a bunch of fences. So I have an extra tall fence. Eight feet of wood and a retaining wall that is three feet in some spots. Fucking fortress, it is.

Back in September and October I took on the great fence restoration project. For eight weeks, rain or shine, I was out there in my hobo clothes and hat getting that thing up to HOA standards:

One side done, now for the other on Twitpic

That’s the outside of the fence that runs along the side of my yard, the stretch my neighbors see. The side that is the most important today. The part of that big job I can’t stop thinking about for the last two days.

I don’t like these wooden fences for several reasons. They section off each yard and make the lots seem smaller than they actually are. They’re built for privacy, but since most people around here have two story houses, there’s always neighbor’s windows overlooking a yard. The fence then provides a visual framing for your neighbor’s viewing pleasure.

Like living in a fishbowl.

Even worse than that, it discourages friendship and contact with neighbors.

So while I was out there working on the perimeter of the fence (the outside of the fishbowl), I met a lot of my neighbors I’d never seen before. They’d drive by in the access alley on their way to their rear drive-up garages. Many would roll down the window to tell me I was doing a great job, to ask questions about how I was doing it, or stop and ask if I’d seen their lost dog. Neighbor talk that I’m not used to since there is hardly ever a occasion to see them in our self-exiled worlds.

After a while I had to ignore these people. I wanted to get this big job done before the winter set in, so I had my music and kept my earphones on most of the time.

Dan, the man whose garage lined up perfectly with that view of the fence in the photo above was always in his garage. I never could figure out what he was doing in there. It looked like he might be rearranging things, but nothing ever changed. Every day that garage looked just as messy as the day before.

I didn’t wonder if he was unemployed or if he might not feel comfortable inside his home with his family, or if he was lonely as fuck.

I didn’t jump to conclusions that he might be in there so he could stare at the ass crack hanging out my hobo jeans. No, I never caught him leering at me, but I still felt self-conscious about the way I was dressed, and how craptastic I look in a hat. I was also up a ladder most of the time and most likely grunting to reach tight spots.

I didn’t realize how lucky I was to have him there right over my shoulder in case I fell off that ladder. It never crossed my mind. What I thought back then was why won’t this guy just go away so I can stain my fence in peace?

I didn’t know until a couple of days ago that those were Dan’s last days. A month or two after the fence thing, he committed suicide.

How or why, I don’t know, but just before Christmas I was in the backyard and heard a shotgun go off in the neighborhood. I came inside and told everyone, but they thought maybe it was firecrackers since it was so close to Christmas and New Years. I know what a shotgun blast sounds like, though. So I sat in the backyard and waited for the sirens. All I heard was silence.

I’m convinced I heard Dan kill himself. Probably did it while no one else was home, thus the lack of sirens. In that garage.

It sucks that I didn’t know about my neighbor’s death until a month after the fact. It sucks that I didn’t talk to him more when I had the chance, while I was out there, of all things, working on a man-made border designed to keep people out.

I hate fences.

A murder of cake

As I was walking out to the trash with the turkey carcass, I got to thinking about an English wedding I attended. How did I get from turkey to wedding?

Well, at the wedding I noticed there was a tiny wedding cake, not nearly large enough to feed even a tenth of the people there. It seemed like a disaster waiting to happen. I could see that cake running out by the time the bridesmaids got their cut. That’s how small it was.

Then something peculiar happened. The newlyweds cut the cake, each had their ceremonial bite and put the rest on the table. Then. No one ate any more cake.

So I had to ask someone. What is the deal with the cake? Is a fake or something?

I was told it was indeed a real cake and I was very welcome to have some but I would likely spit it out, that’s how bad this cake was.

I went over and took a closer look. It was a freaky color, burnt orange or something like that. A rich fruit cake. Rich! They told me it was a tradition to serve it at weddings in England and no one ever eats it, but they do it because that is how it has always been done.

What a murder of cake.

Tradition sometimes just doesn’t make sense. And that brings us back to the turkey.

I hate turkey. The taste, the smell, and then the leftover meat that is wasted. I have decided I will never cook another one again. If someone insists on having it, I’ll cook a turkey breast. But no more full birds.

As for the English, what I find really funny is how beautiful their cakes are. Look at these I photographed through a bake shop window in York in 2005. I apologize for the quality of the photos.

I love that castle cake.

And the cute bears in a tub.

Oh, what a murder of cake photos…

What Happened to Deborah

Dammit I’m not one to poke around online and see what is going on with classmates from high school, but I was looking for an old friend and ran across a class roster that mentioned a classmate of mine was dead. Not the one I was looking for, hell, I haven’t even thought of her since high school.

It doesn’t say what happened to her, and I don’t know anyone who would know, so I Googled her name and got nothing. She might have died before there even was a Google.

Deborah J. was my first school friend, and we started first grade during the early years of desegregation in the South. Our teacher had just come back from maternity leave and asked us two girls to stay in for recess to do some makeup work. That is when Deborah and I made friends, during that recess period. When the teacher returned and caught us giggling, she accused us cheating.

I don’t even think we knew what that was, cheating, but Mrs. S pulled out a wooden paddle and called us to her desk. She looked at me and said I could go outside. She didn’t spank me. I waited just outside the door, out of sight, and I heard the three loud smacks she gave Deborah. The little girl came out of the classroom, stoic, but when she saw me waiting for her, a smile stretched her face. I didn’t understand why she got hit and I didn’t, but I had a pretty good idea it had something to do with her being black.

No one liked Deborah, not even the black kids. Everyone told me she was just too damn mean. She might have been mean to them, but to me, she always had my back. She’d also sit behind me in class and braid my hair over and over again. She was studious and didn’t like it when any of the kids misbehaved in class, so maybe a bit too straight laced and strung up too tight. But a cheater she was not.

Anyway, I hadn’t thought about the paddling since it happened. The knowledge of her death brought back that memory. I’m just realizing now that the teacher had probably been on maternity leave for a couple of years as pregnant women were not allowed to teach back in those days. I’ve read they had to take two years off for that.

So this day she returned and kept us in for recess? Her first day teaching in a desegregated school. Deborah, I think, got spanked for more than just being black. She got it for having the nerve to make friends with a white kid.

That is what happened to my friend Deborah. May her soul rest in eternal peace.

Patience SVP

I stood out on the patio in the dark, the cool breeze rushing past me and through the door, over to Blane, who was sitting on the sofa watching tv. I’d gone out there because I could hear a helicopter. I know a care-flight when I hear one.

I think I do, the heli pad was just outside the ICU backdoor, and when one approached or left our hospital, the unit would go silent, the nurses and patients would freeze, even the machines seemed to hold their breath for a moment.

There is a term for this in French, when a crowd goes quiet all of a sudden, “Un Ange Passé,” which literally translates to “An angel passed.”

Anyway, I get this thumping in my chest when I see those helicopters and a million thoughts race through my head. Usually deep dark fears relating to my own life, such as, are they transporting some teenaged driver from a car crash? I’m feeling this phantom ache for some parent out there who might be suffering the unimaginable.

And just as the copter passes directly over us, the blades frantically chopping air, Blane says what he always says in his very best fake British accent,
“You, Yes You, Stand Still Laddie!”

And I laugh as though this is the very first time I’d heard it because he’s just taken me out of a place I didn’t need to be.

I don’t think he knows the mental dynamics of the situation. Why I laugh at that one consistently, while his other ten or so other canned jokes barely cause a change in my facial expression. Like the Kevin Bacon one. Every time he sees that actor he says, “Bacon and eggs.” Blane doesn’t even have to be around, if I see Kevin Bacon, I hear it in my head. I try not to show that it drives me nuts because I am certain he is testing my patience.
Twenty-seven years to the day, and I haven’t cracked.

In my heart, I know this is one of the things he admires most about me. He says both of his parents had absolutely no patience while he was growing up. So, if I ever did explode, it would kill off something magical for him. I would never want to do that to someone who can make me feel like I’m in a Pink Floyd song. Ever.

Massive Failure

I dropped Spanky off at her driving school only to be called back to pick her up because they had over scheduled drive times. Now if she had cancelled, I would have had to pay a $25 cancellation fee. I know this because I had to pay once when Kara went to that same school and had to miss an appointment due to illness.

So I drove back over there, walked in with my big sunglasses on and told the reception that they owe me twenty five bucks. The lady laughed. I didn’t. There were a bunch in people in there and I could hear a little snickering.

Finally someone said, “She’s right.”

Hell yeah I’m right.

Twenty five dollars is not really what I wanted. I only needed to make a point that if I had to pay up for missing, they did too. So I made a deal with her to schedule two drive times (you have to fight for those, believe it or not, and can only make one at a time and they have to be two weeks apart).
I got two for next week. Yay!

After that we took off for Ross, a store that reminds me of a garage sale of never used items of clothing, shoes, and various housewares. Bargains on crap we don’t need.

One of the reasons they sell name brand things at bargain prices is because the product was a massive failure. Spank and I like to look at items in there and come up the reasons these products failed. Most of the time, the item is just fuck ugly.

Like a white shirt with three gigantic buttons on the front.

The suitcase that rolled in every direction but had skulls and crossbones all over it (I almost wanted that).

Funny screw ups are fun to spot. Look at the animal texture baby book:

photo

Didn’t even bother to match the hair color.

Check out the scribbling on this doggie tee:

photo

Gangsta dog?

What’s coming next is such a massive failure of catastrophic proportions, I don’t know why they didn’t take this out to the trash and burn it.

Fire the people who worked on this shit too.

Seriously, it’s the worst thing I have ever seen and I swear I did not move this product to another area to make it “display better.” This is exactly how i found it.

(I almost didn’t post this, it is sooooooooooooooo bad)

But here goes. The Product Failure of the Year. Of ever, maybe.

photo

That. Is. A. Lunchbox.

Dr. Lecter? Dr. Lecter?

I had a toothache that came on gradually then suddenly and had to have an emergency root canal today. My general dentist referred me out to this endodontist, an Irish guy who looks and sounds exactly like Anthony Hopkins.

Wait, no, hang on.

Anthony Hopkins.

That’s him!

Dude has to know it too. I do realize Hopkins has a beautiful Welsh accent, and Irish and Welsh are not the same, but to a scared Cajun?

I was laying there being all still for the xrays when he snuck in silently behind me. Out of nowhere his face is right there beside mine and his voice a few inches from my ear, “Hello.”

Just like Dr. Lector says it, but without the “Clarice.”

I am not exaggerating when I tell you I jumped six inches out of that chair.

Cause see, last night I tossed and turned all night trying not to think about how that guy would remind me of this once he put on his surgical mask:

Before he did that, I got them to run me a truck driver dose of Nitrous, which in the end made him seem more like a leprechaun than a liver/fava bean kinda guy (that shit is the The Shit, that laughing gas).

As I was leaving he asked me send him a post card. I asked him if he preferred Athens or Santorini and he said, “You’re not really going to send me a post card, everyone says they’re going to send me one and I never get any.”

I hardly ever send out postcards, but I will this time for one main reason. While he was working on my tooth he said, “I can see what’s causing your pain, I’m removing it right now.”

That’s magical to me.

Soft Edged Questions

I have this real estate license requirement where I have to take a continuing ed class every couple of years. That is due now, so I found one that allows me to study on my own and take the test online.

Just after signing up, I had to fill out a verification page. It had these supposedly simple questions to which only I would know all the answers. These same questions will randomly pop up while I’m taking the test and I’ll have 15 seconds to answer or the test will shut down. This is just to make sure it is me and not some person I paid to take the test for me.

Easy enough, right?

Well, the first question was. What year were you born?

It got a little tricky with the second question.  What are the last four digits of your phone number? Which phone are they talking about, my home, mobile, or business number? Okay, I’ll have to remember I gave them my home one. Fine.

Third. What city were you born in? Well, that is a very long name and sure as shit they will ask me over and over again and I’ll be fighting the clock to get that typed in there.

Fourth. What color are your eyes? Well, hell, that depends. Some days they are green and some they are blue. Even my driver’s licenses through the years aren’t consistent.

Five. What is my favorite movie? Ah, crap, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” is too much to type. I’ll just say “ET,” but that’s a lie. Or did I say “AI”? More on that later.

Six. Month you were born in? It should have been May. Damn.

Seven. How many siblings do you have? That was the hardest question on there and it caught me by surprise. I just sat there for the longest time without a clue. What do they mean? How many I used to have, or how many I have left? I don’t even remember what answer I gave, 2 or 4. What sort of fucking question is that anyway? That is exactly when I forgot the movie lie I told.

Eight. What is your hobby? Who has one hobby? This is screwed up.

Nine. What state do you want to retire in? That’s it, I’ve had it with sentences ending in prepositions, I’m supposed to learn something from these people? I don’t want to retire at all, ever, much less commit to a place. I’ll have to tell another lie. But which state? Screw that, I put “bliss.”

Ten. What is your favorite food? Hmmm. I could say, Cajun or be more specific with boiled crabs, but wait, fried oysters are awesome too. 

I’m so screwed, I’m going to flunk the easiest questions on that test.

She Smokes Cigarillos

There’s a woman (50ish) who walks the perimeter of my neighborhood every evening. She walks the other side of the brick wall which goes on for another mile or so, the side that lines the six lane thoroughfare.

She’s a tubby Asian or Latina woman who wears a pancho almost every day of the year. Her long dark hair is somewhat matted, her face, moon-shaped and weathered.

The first few times I saw her, I was pulling out of the neighborhood. It was dark and she appeared out of nowhere, like a phantom, right in front of my headlights as I was about to hit the gas.

It’s not so much that she seems to jump out of thin air that’s so scary. It’s the lunatic grin on her face that has my knees knocking.

I’ve seen her at the stoplight waiting for traffic, same blank stare, same grin.

Lately she’s been hanging out by the drugstore. I passed her on the sidewalk there a couple of weeks ago and later regretted not having the time to say hello to her. Fact is, neither one of us acknowledged the other. I was in a hurry and she was in her own world.

Yesterday evening as I drove into the parking lot of the drugstore I saw her sitting on the sidewalk. I parked right in front of her and just sat there for a second. She was hitting on a long thin cigarillo, every breath a puff, as if the stuff wasn’t killing her fast enough.

The way she was sitting was one of the most awkward positions I’ve ever seen. She was stooped with her feet turned outward (like a ballerina’s feet in first position).

I got out of the car with my camera and asked if I could take a photograph. Her arms were in a panic, waving through all the smoke as if to say, “No, no, no,” but she kept staring out into infinity along with that big grin on her face.

So I left her alone. (I would only have taken a photo of her feet.)

I’ve worked with the insane before. It is the area where I feel the most discomfort, not because I’m afraid of what they can do to me, but because I know at any given time any one of us or our loved ones could become one of them.

Without a Guide

Despite his alcoholism, my father was a brilliant man. He was in the Army Intelligence, so he had to be smart. It was that part of him I patiently waited to come out day after day. Walking home from the school bus, I used to wonder, What I am I coming home to today?

He wasn’t abusive, it’s not that. He did tend to have depression and would sometimes accuse us of things we did not do or complain about things we did not do enough of. The thing is, the alcoholism was a mask that went between what was an amazing person and the rest of the world. He would turn into this obnoxious and embarrassing person. Sober, he was a quiet and pensive man with an endless amount of patience.

That was when I had a real father. He had worked all over the world and knew so much about so many different cultures. I was fascinated with this. Still am. He was the sort of person to step off the trail or go past the “end of road” sign and explore The Beyond without a guide. He especially liked seeking out nomads in the deserts of North Africa and in the jungles of South America. I greatly admired his fearlessness with regards to the world and The Unknown.

dad-in-tunis

This is a photo someone took of my dad in Tunis

At home however, the things he did know caught up with and devoured him. Too much time to think about them, I guess.

One trip he never talked about was that two year hitch in Korea. The War. We always thought that was the thing that made him drink.

If my father was working Stateside, he was extremely unhappy and restless. He was always mumbling, “I want to work overseas.” That was his mantra. But we never thought he was trying to outrun us. He wasn’t.

One time, he tried to take us with him. When I was fifteen, we were inches from moving to Spain. Everything was lined up, he had a place there, and the details sorted out. He was working in Libya at the time and the plan was for him to meet up with us in Spain during his off days. At the last minute something happened between the US and Libya and the entire thing was called off. Americans were forced to leave Libya, so he lost that job.

So I never did get to travel abroad with my father. Not physically. Through his stories and thousands of photographs, I did. I also inherited his restless spirit, that need to explore new places, new people, to get the flock outta here.

After I became a nurse, when I’d get new issues of my nursing mags, I’d skip all the way to the back, to the ads about traveling nurses. I looked at all the different places I could go and daydreamed. There’s been a worldwide nursing shortage for a long time and I worked with a lot of nurses who did this thing.

All I could do was dream though, Blane always had the higher paying job, so his career plans trumped mine and eventually I stayed at home to raise the kids and quit nursing.

This I want to go overseas thing became my mantra, but not until after my father died. I didn’t need to have a job abroad to travel. We could just go there. And we did, many times. Always took the kids with us, too.

I can’t say I took them to all these places because that is what I wish my father had done with me. I don’t wish I had a childhood like them.

I’m glad I didn’t go until I was an adult and wanted to explore all these new places. It is very different when someone takes you somewhere versus you taking them along.

I still have these daydreams about being a traveling nurse. I haven’t worked in the field in years, but you know where I see myself one day? On a medical sailboat (it exists) that travels the world giving immunizations to people in remote locations.

Not all of my dreams are nomadic in nature. I also fantasize about sitting at a typewriter in a cottage somewhere in the English countryside writing a novel. About what, I don’t know, but the image is in my head along with one of me in a wooden house near the French Quarter doing the same thing.

None of my “visions” have me here where I sit writing this blog post. Not one.

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That is a a photo one of the girls took of me on this trip.

Who are these people and how did they get in here?

I have a casual household. People come in and out all the time, especially on weekends, so it’s not too unusual to go in the kitchen and see a stranger digging in the fridge. Usually it’s a friend of Kara’s. Or a friend of a friend of hers.

Sometimes it’s a mix of Kara’s and Spanky’s friends. I can usually tell who they belong to by their look. Kara’s entourage has a punk edge while Spank’s are studious with natural hair colors.

Last night there was some big fight on Pay-Per-View, so Blane said he was inviting a few people over. I’m always cool with that. Sometimes I go up there and watch with them, other times I let the guys hang out while I do my own thing in another part of the house.

Nobody expects me to entertain on fight nights. That’s Blane’s thing. He’ll grab some snacks and beer- Guys are so much easier, they don’t expect much and the house doesn’t even have to be tidied up before they come.

So last night I let a few of the “regulars” in and directed them upstairs then went to my room and hit the treadmill. Turned the music up and stayed on that thing for about an hour. Took a long bubble bath… Unboxed my new light stands I got for Christmas… Then I went into the living room to read.

I noticed an unusual amount of noise coming from upstairs. Screaming, clapping, stomping… So I’m sitting there and this guy and a girl appear out of nowhere, people I’d never seen before, and they asked me where they could go to smoke.

I couldn’t figure out who they belonged to. They looked a little to old for Kara or Spanky, but too young to be a part of our gang. Then some more people wandered into the living room. People looking for other people I didn’t know. And this house, it is huge, with two staircases and an unpredictable floor plan. That is one of my favorite things about having people over. Watching them walk around lost and disoriented.

So I went up to the media room to talk to the guys and realized this wasn’t a small group. It was a house party. About thirty people. Most of them were guys, but there were a few women.

I felt awful, really awful that something like this was going on in my own house right under my own nose and I didn’t even know it. I didn’t hear them all come in because I had my earphones on and was exercising. I wasn’t expecting it either. Gee, I hope these people didn’t think I was some sort of freak loner. I did join them for some video games.

The Only Curse That Ever Worked on Me

I was the only person my paternal grandmother seemed to like. About my father, she used to say, “I should have pinched his head off when he was born.”

We didn’t see her too often due to the miles between us. Once every couple of years or so. But when she’d see me, she’d always look me over real hard, smile, and say, “All my friends say you look just like me.”

I always knew this was why she liked me. She’d parade me in front of all her friends at the beauty shop, the ladies circles, the this, the that, anywhere, just so she could have them tell her again, “Oh yes, Lottie, she looks just like you.”

Maybe she was like that because she never had a daughter. She was a refined lady. She knitted, quilted, embroidered, and knew all the rules of etiquette. We were all pretty much barbarians according to her. I was always asking my mom, “Why do you keep lighting those matches?”

So when I was about nineteen years old, my mom and I went to visit her. Mom told her about the quilt I started making after picking up a magazine with a pattern in it.

I thought for sure she would say “Oh, you’re just like me,” or “That’s wonderful, you’re my favorite person in the world,” or something like that.

What she said shocked me. “You’ll never finish it.”

I, not too experienced in sewing and having never seen a person actually work on a quilt thought she must know something I didn’t know. She was an experienced quilter, had an infamous silk embroidered quilt in a box under her bed which we got to see progress every single time we went to visit.

My quilt, to this very day, looks exactly as it did on the day she cursed me.

quilt

I never put another stitch into the thing. I don’t blame her really, I shouldn’t have been so stupid to allow what she said affect me. As time went by, the curse wore off, I did believe I could finish it, but along with the changes in me came changes in my tastes. I stopped liking the colors in it.

Still, I always wondered why she would say such a thing to me. Why did she doubt my abilities? Was it because I wasn’t a refined lady?

I figured it out yesterday by chance.

I was pulling out all the Christmas decorations, going through boxes I haven’t been through in years. I should’ve figured it out right here with these reindeer my grandmother made.

reindeer2

It wasn’t until I got all the family heirloom stockings together, those from Blane’s and my sides of the family.

stockings

The blue one was made by one of Blane’s great aunts. The other two by my grandmother. All three are of the same fabric handmade by two people of roughly the same age around the same time.

My grandmother never finished hers. Look at those cross hatch stampings on the stocking at far right. Those are supposed to be beaded. It’s supposed to have sequins all over it.

And that explains why there are only three reindeer. 

And most likely why she said I’d never finish my quilt. Not only did she believe I looked just like her, she believed I was just like her.

What’s the Deal with Bokeh?

I’ve seen it before in movies but never knew it had a name. Bokeh.

Bokeh is an out of focus point of light you’ll see in backgrounds of photos. When I joined Flickr, I noticed there were groups dedicated to nothing but bokeh. I also noticed some photographers do only bokeh photos. And photos that have that stuff have a gazillion adoring comments.

There is some in this photo I took, but it is not ideal.

bokeh2

Here’s an excellent bokeh photo someone has over there.

So I wondered, what’s the big deal?

I thought about some of my favorite moments in film and the images that flashed in my mind were ones that had bokeh in them.

A moonlit kiss on a porch with a fuzzy moon as a backdrop would be a good example.

But I don’t have one to show you.

Then I thought about some dramatic moments of my life. Bokeh in the background. Like when my son was born and his face was the only thing I could focus on because they gave me a powerful hallucinogenic drug.

That’s when I really got it.

Secondhand Payback and a Hundred Thousand Years of Life

So Blane’s cousin and his eight year-old daughter left and now I can speak freely of the torture we have been through over the last 48 hours.

Maybe I’ll think of a nickname for this kid by the end of this post. Right now all I can think of is Clifford.

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She’s been here before and I’d heard all sorts of grievances from Blane and kids, but around me, she’s an angel. She draws pictures for me, gives out free hugs, tells me I’m her favorite “aunt.”

The thing is, she has ADHD and by the time I wake up, the kid’s meds are working.

Before that, she goes to every room but mine and wakes everyone up. How she does that is the nefarious part.
She jumps on the bed and yells, “Cock-a-doodle-doo!”
Shakes a tin box full of coins while standing just out of arms reach.
Yesterday morning was a pretty good one, she dragged Spanky’s floor lamp right over her head and shined it right in her face. Spanky told her, “Get out or I will punt you, Kid.”

Why doesn’t she come in my room? I think it’s because the dogs are in there and they growl if anyone comes near the door. Brave guard dogs, yay!

So yesterday afternoon we decided to take the light rail into Dallas to see the King Tut exhibit.

For about twenty minutes I had to watch the kid while her dad and Blane were fighting with the bandit kiosk for tickets.

She kept running up and down the ramps, tightroping the edge of the train platform, climbing the rails like a monkey…

Now I have a really healthy set of nerves, my little brother was ten times worse. But Blane and Spanky never had younger siblings. They aren’t used to this. Blane himself probably has ADHD, I’ve heard some stories from every single relative about how he was a hammerheaded nerveen.

So Blane at least deserves it. But me? No way, man. When the kid kept unzipping my purse I told her there was a badazz snake in there. Nipped that shit in the bud.
Kid: What does it look like?
Me: It’s poisonous, you want me show it to you?

Telling her that story made her only want to “hang out” with me more. After about ten minutes into the forty-five minute train ride I asked her dad if he gave her a speedball or something.

That’s when he told me he forgot to give her her meds. Oh. Boy.

I felt sorry for all the people around us. Most of them would just get up and move. So the seat in front of us was empty when the gangsta-looking dude with the scowl and doo-rag strutted onto the train and plopped himself right there.

I was fine until that moment, I swear, I was like Mother freaking Theresa of feral children, but I knew this wasn’t good. I begged the kid to go sit with her dad. Offered to let her dig in my purse and play Old Maid with my credit cards, anything to get her away from that dude.

Of course she constantly kicked the back of his seat. What I can’t believe is that he didn’t put a cap in my ass when she elbowed him in the back of the head. Twice.

That was the train ride there.

The Tut exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art was better than expected. There was gold, gold GOLD everywhere. And you know how I dig shiny stuff.

I was surprised with the level of detail in all the pieces, exquisite inlays of ivory, wood, and stone. Almost everything had hieroglyphs on the backside of them. I was especially impressed with the one spell wishing Tut a “hundred thousand years of life.”

And got all existential in there. His spell is better than ours, it ends in about 97,000 years. We get eternity. I mean, what are we going to do in the afterlife in all that time?

The train ride back wasn’t so bad. The kid expended a load of energy fingering up all the glass in the museum. (she tried to pry open one of the glass encasements!)

What kept her busy was she found the pole that you can hold onto if you don’t want a seat. She’d climb it and slide down. Spin around it. I looked at her dad and said, “Watch out dude, payback is hell.”

Got to the car and the kid refused to sit down unless she was sitting with her feet under her. Shoes all over the seats of Spanky’s new car.

Why did she want to sit like that? Oh you will die when you read this. She rolls up her underwear to make them look like she has thong like her mom and apparently it hurts to sit with them all bunched up like that.

What’s Coming?

I took Spanky shopping at the mall last night and noticed for the first time it was too easy to find a parking spot. Walking through the parking garage, I got this eery feeling. There’s only one day of the year when it’s easy to park. Super Bowl Sunday.

That’s long gone.

Getting into the mall, same thing. No people. And it was quiet. Spank and I just looked at each other, like, when are the zombies gonna jump out at us?

We passed by the Helzburg Diamonds shop and I thought about that robbery there over the summer. A gang of guys crashed the jewel cases with crowbars and made a major grab right there in broad daylight. They had a video of it on the news so it wasn’t hard to recreate that scene in my head.

I hate malls. They are so incredibly depressing even when full of people, but when it’s empty, the melancholy just creeps into my soul and hangs around like dampness in a basement.

We didn’t buy a thing. Spanky found the dress she wanted for the dance but didn’t feel like buying. I guess it’s contagious, people not buying, you don’t want to buy anything, either.

I worry like hell for all those people working in there, maybe they won’t have a job very soon. Stuff like that bothers me.

Here’s the Thing

I was painting that room we hired those guys to finish, you know, the one where the guys ran off with the money and never finished the job? Yeah, that room.

So I’m in there and Blane Jr. comes around for a visit. He asks if I’m getting the place ready for Our Clan. We laugh a bit and talk about electronic bolts and some wild scenarios. Secret passwords and spy stuff.

I ask him if he understands I’m just kidding about all that. He just gives me this smile, like, maybe. He has the best poker face in the world and I just can’t know anything off his look.

Just skimming through the news channels watching the journalists hyperventilate makes me ill. They all bark out, “Never seen anything like this before.”

Really? Shit, you don’t have to be an economist to understand what’s been going on. Take a look down your street. All your neighbors spending money they ain’t got on crap they don’t need. Money they will never be able to pay back. Look around. Everybody has everything. Nobody does without. Not like they used to. But hey, it made the economy look badazz, huh?

Lenders are happy to put these people in debt. They make heaps off each loan they create, and it’s not really their money they’re lending.

Maybe I’m not talking about your neighbors so much as I’m talking about mine, I live in the wealthiest large city in America. On my drive to work I’ll run across at least five Hummers and two exotic cars with vanity plates. Could be their money. But it’s probably yours, the money you have in the bank that they borrowed on their good credit. (You want your Hummer back?)

I’m not talking about the poor or the needy. That’s not what’s causing the mess. It’s the middlemen. The regulators and the bankers.

I wish I could tell you all I know but I have this rule about not writing about the job on the blog.

So here’s a good tune for you tonight, “New Frontier” by Donald Fagen. Funny the A-bomb is based on an implosion. Song still works for me.

Our Fierce Clan

I was up yesterday morning watching the financial channels before the markets opened. Although I no longer trade stocks, economics fascinates me. Specifically market behavior. 

So there are a bunch of talking heads on the tv looking afraid and using words like “meltdown,” “collapse,” “crisis”… Stuff like that does not make me panic. I might add I don’t have money in the market.

Later in the day I get to thinking the what ifs of a total financial collapse. What if everyone’s savings were wiped out suddenly? If the dollar went down to nothing. What would we do? 

I look around this place and wonder what I could sell. Hmmm. I get Blane in on it and at first the topic makes him feel uncomfortable. Then we talk about how owning nothing has its advantages and could be liberating. He says we’d need guns. Hunting, you know. Food. We could live off the land. We’d have to stay together in packs. Roam the Earth like a fierce clan. 

We talk about our other skills in a less harsh situation. Nursing. Hmmm. People always need that.  Blane says there would be nothing to pay me with. He’s sticking with the apocolypse scenario. Okay, I tell him I’d keep our clan healthy. Engineering. Now that’s useful. Blane knows how to make energy from wind and make motors and stuff. He can make anything and it always works. His friends call him McGuyver.

Mostly we just sit around and make jokes about this meltdown scenario thing. But I think, really, there is no one I’d rather be stuck with if that stuff really happened. Him and our kids, of course. Our fierce clan.

Restoration


Scanned Image Before Photoshop


After

I’ve been scanning and doing a little restoration on some old photos. I’m still learning loads about what works best, but as you can see this one needs a lot more work. It was overexposed and either the inks have faded or the photo album it was in did something to it, I don’t know.

The thing is though, doing all this brings back old memories. That is me at the age of about six just after having my tonsils removed. I didn’t always look so grumpy. The reason I chose this photo is I want to tell you about that mailbox behind my right shoulder.

I remember being tall enough to open it, but not being tall enough to see inside of that box. It was a magical mailbox to me because every so often people in my family would get presents from that box.

There was a doll I wanted, a beautiful ballerina doll named Dancerella and she had a pink sparkly crown. When you stuck your hand on the crown, this doll would pirouette. I didn’t tell a soul I wanted this thing, not sure why, maybe it was because we just didn’t ask for things. But I wanted that more than I’ve ever wanted anything (material) before or since.

And I was damned sure it would come via that mailbox. So every day for months I would go to the mailbox, open it, walk over to the oak tree nearby and stand on its roots to get the height I needed to see inside. Day after day, I was disappointed. No ballerina doll.

Then my dad got into a horrible car accident. For my mom, five kids and a broken up husband were too much to care for. So my aunts who lived four hours away came in to help the situation. They were taking the oldest three of us. I was sitting on the steps between the two aunts and they were asking me which one I wanted to go live with. I was confused, but I liked the idea that they were fighting over me.

One aunt had five kids. Three of them girls, one my exact age. The other had only two. One girl, and she was younger than I. Spoiled. Somehow that aunt was the one who convinced me to go live with her. On the way there I realized my mistake. The other aunt had kids swinging around on the ceiling fans like monkeys. It was like a fun house. What was I thinking, going with the one who had two spoiled kids?

Maybe I felt that one wanted me more. Aunt Lorica treated little girls like dolls. Her kids were adopted, thus way harder to get. It was her I chose. She would comb my hair and style it different ways. She bought me pretty dresses. She would also clean my ears out every single night. That was torture because she was convinced I had a piece of paper stuck in my ear. She saw something white in there and had this ice pik looking thing she used to try and dig it out. Very painful and she never got anything.

My spoiled cousin had everything. Every doll you could imagine, even some on shelves we were not allowed to touch. Most importantly, she had that Dancerella doll.

When Christmas came around I didn’t think Santa would bring my presents there, so when asked, I would just say I didn’t want anything. Come Christmas day, however, guess what I got?

Dancerella. With a sparkly blue leotard. She was even prettier than my cousin’s. Best of all, she was mine.

About the ear situation. The white thing my aunt was seeing was an infected eardrum. It got to the point where I was going deaf and reading lips (a skill I have to this day). That’s when my aunt took me to the doctor who said my tonsils were causing all the ear problems. I got my tonsils removed and got to move back home with my Dancerella.

My spoiled cousin and I ended up becoming best of friends, like sisters, and I would spend entire summers with them as a teenager. My aunt is still alive and lives down Bayou Lafourche. They’re evacuating right now because of Hurricane Gustav and going to my mom’s house. I sure would like to see them all, but the hurricane is headed toward my mom’s as well. It just won’t be as bad there.

For those of you who know my mom is in the hospital for tests, so far they haven’t found anything and she might be going home tomorrow. She’s feeling much better and sounds good too.

Blue-eyed Horse and Other Oddities

Have you ever seen a blue eyed horse? I didn’t know they existed until I saw one today.

I think she’s pretty.

I was listening to Fall Out Boy’s cover of Micheal Jackson’s “Beat It” today (go see, it’s worthy) and thought about something from a long time ago. My Board of Nursing exams.

This test was either a full day or two full days, I can’t remember exactly, but it was quite stressful and took an incredible amount of concentration. We were all in this giant room, hundreds of us applicants from all over the state, seated at long tables. Anyway, not too far from me was a major distraction.

A Micheal Jackson look-alike sitting for his Board exam. He had the Gerri curl, the tight pants, the red zippers-all-over jacket, the shoes, and that one glove. It was stunning, as Jackson was quite popular at the time.

First thing to happen was this massive download of Jackson’s songs into my needed more than ever brain. Oh my. Then I kept looking over at him thinking what it might be like if that dude was my nurse. Moonwalking into my hospital room. Followed by the Thriller zombies. The floor tiles lighting up as he stepped on each one.

Along the lines of oddity, here’s another one of my all time favorite videos. It is Christopher Walken dancing to Fatboy Slim’s Weapon of Choice. It is flat out bizarrrrrrre. He even flies at the end.

Okay, the video won’t post, :::click here::: to see it.

I can’t watch it without laughing.