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It Was In The Cards

I am not sure how many of us were freefalling it in the back of the station wagon.  At least four of us, maybe five.  Us cousins.  The children of my father and his identical twin brother, just hanging out – zipping along the highway doing 85, tumbling around in the back of the truckster with nary a seatbelt – or seat – in sight.  I am reasonably certain that the back hatch window was lifted and propped open also.

1977.  The year of living dangerously.

It was a nice, bright sunny day.  I was 9 years old, all the cousins younger than me, all of us without a care in the galaxy.

We had been prepped for this outing for a while by the twin fathers.  We were going to see a space movie.  Really, the twin fathers were in this for themselves and we were just tagging along for the ride in the accidental-death-and-dismembermentmobile.

The point is we were going and we were all excited.

This was not the first movie I had seen, but it is the first movie I truly remember seeing.

I remember the opening.  The blackness of space.  The gazillions of stars.  The introduction of the saga drifting off into infinity.  My father reading the words aloud and saying to himself “That is so cool…that it’s a long, long time ago”.  I remember saying “No, this is the future.”  And he whispered excitedly “No, it’s not.  It’s a long, long time ago”.  Huh?  And without the rest of the world even knowing it I experienced my very first mind-fuck at that very instant.

During the ride back afterward, crammed in the back of the wagon and hopped up on the speedball we had just seen, we were all already fighting over who would get to play each character when we got home.  The music kept playing in my head.  That music – one of the best movie overtures ever.

Later that night I would write in chicken scratch in my diary with a worn down pencil, “That was the best movie I have ever seen in my WHOLE life”.

**********

 Whenever one of my parents would go to the White Hen on 79th street, my sister and I would shout “Get me something, okay!”  Which of course meant, bring me some candy okay?  Or we would beg to go with them.

One night my Mom took me, and I went straight for the candy.  And maybe a Tiger Beat, depending on who was on the cover.  If it was Leif Garrett I was in.  Shaun Cassidy I was out.

Over by the candy, I saw them.   I got really excited and brought three packs over to my mother at the counter.  Please can I get one or all of them?  I got one.

I got in the car, opened it up immediately, shoved the chalky, steel-hard gum in my mouth and rifled through the cards.  They were shiny and stuck together from the newness.

And there were stickers too!  Oh that was so cool.

From that point on me and The Hen were BFFs.  More…needed more.

Over and over and over and over I would go through this same ritual.  Sometimes it was very disappointing because I would get duplicates.  Lots of duplicates.  I would give some of those away, or trade them with other nerds.

But once in a while, I’d get the mac-daddy I had been coveting.  And when I had them all, I started over.

I kept them all meticulously lined up in the left-hand corner of the bottom drawer of my dresser.  For years.  And years.  And more years…grade school, high school, college.  I loved them.  I would keep them forever.

**********

 After graduating from college in 1990 and going out on my own in 1991, my parents decided that after 18 years it was time to move out of my childhood home.  I went back to pack and it was a bittersweet day for all of us.  My sister and I went into the basement with my parents and started reminiscing about all the good, no…great, times we’d had in that house and how much we would miss it.  It then occurred to me that I would never live in the house my family was moving into.  It was emotional.

All of my stuff was packed.  And I had a LOT of stuff.  If something held even the slightest sentimental value to me, I kept it.  Boxes and boxes and tubs of memories were closed up.  One in particular held the contents of my bottom dresser drawer.  It was the most important box.  It was not going with me, though, because I was super poor and living with two roommates and storage was whaaat??

So off went my bottom drawer in the safe and loving and extremely responsible arms of my Mom and Dad.

Yessssssss.  Sure it did.

**********

 

Off I went to begin living my exhilaratingly spectacularly interesting life.  I was busy, man.  I would visit my parents of course, but never really thought much about where my junk was until probably a year later.

“Hey Dad where are the boxes from my room?”

“In the crawl space”.

Yeah, that damned crawl space.  Do not buy a house without a basement for chrissakes, I chided them.  But they didn’t care.  They did it anyway.  They did not want to have a basement that would just accumulate junk.  So instead they got a scary, dank 3-foot high hole in the ground in which to accumulate junk.  Come onnnnnn.

So I crawled like vermin into the pit of despair looking for something, I forget what.  Once down there I remembered.  I need to get those cards so that I could hold them close to my bosom whenever I wanted.

I looked.  And looked.  And bashed my head on a beam.  And seethed four letter words like (earmuffs) shit, damn, fuck and son-of-a-bitch.  Cuz guess what?  There was no bottom drawer.

There were no cards.  I really felt sick.

I felt like I had lost my best, inanimate, shiny-paper friends and I was PISSED.

I immediately hissed “Dad”.  I knew it was him.  He has a little more than OCD when it comes to clutter.  He does not like it.  And he did not like the boxes that pretended to be clutter-free.  He did not trust boxes.  And I just KNEW he threw them out while cackling through an evil, snarling, laugh….”Gone, Gonnneee, GONE!!!!”

**********

 At various points over the following 9 years, the topic of my most prized possessions would come up.  And it always went the same way:  I would either ask again where they could be or go back down and look for them again, then I would be mad to the point of tears when my Dad would say so cavalierly “Oh for God’s sake, I did NOT throw them out!  I’m sure they are somewhere.  You are so dramatic”.

Number One:  No shit.  I was an actor.

Number Two:  HOW COULD YOU THROW OUT MY SHIT!!!!!!!

For those of you wondering why a grown woman made her parents responsible for her most prized possession….I say “I do not know”, so just shhhhhhhh.

Oh, sure, my father and I managed to break bread together and continue a cordial relationship.  And to the untrained eye everything was super great!  My mom would try to back him up, but she knew as well as I did that he probably chucked them off the moving truck before you could say “Help me, Obi Wan…”

For 9 damn years these cards would come up in conversation, several times a year.  It became a joke of sorts.  TO EVERYONE ELSE.  When there was nothing else to do and everyone was bored someone would think “Hey, see that big, red Fisher-Price button over there on Laura’s head??  Push THAT!”

But life chugged along, and I pushed past the clearly first-world pain of it all.  And I gave up.

**********

Christmas Eve, 1999.

The Eve was always so much more fun and looked forward to than Christmas day itself.  My Grandma and Papa were both still alive then.  We all had fewer wrinkles and less Ben-Gay usage.  We ate my Mom’s famous fried smelt and my aunt’s famous pizzelels, we laughed with cousins.

And, we opened presents.

We were all pretty much done, and then I got one my sister did not get.  My mother throughout our entire lives treated me and my younger sister as if we were Bizarro World identical twins – getting the same number and mostly same actual gifts with only minor variations.  I understand this practice now that I have three sons, especially since the disastrous Present Counting of 2012.  My mother is a genius.

My sister did  not get this present though.  There was a note attached to this one for me – and my Mom said to read it out loud to everyone.

 IMG_3841

 

 

Then this:

 

**********

My parents and sister knew what was in there of course.  It is my sister you hear busting a gut at my reaction.  My dearly departed Grandma can be heard laughing throughout.  Further in the video my cousin says “I’ve never seen anyone go so crazy over Star Wars cards”, and my brother-in-law said to my sister “That’s a little dramatic isn’t it?”.  And my sister, who usually rolled her eyes at my Thespianism, said “Nah, that’s for real”.

Back in 1999 my parents had gone down into the crawl space the same they did every year to get the Christmas tree.  While down there my Dad opened up some box that I had miraculously missed every single damn time, opened it up and called to my Mom…”Look what I found”.

**********

They are not really worth much.  Lots of kids kept those cards.  Lots of collectors had the forethought to keep those cards in pristine condition or in their original wrapping.  But that’s not really the point, is it?

It is the tangibleness of memories that made them so special to me.  I like time machines.  Plus, they are just badass.

They now sit in that same box on my dresser, in plain sight so I can keep my eye on them.  Sometimes I bolt awake in a cold sweat, panting hard…”Where are they, where ARE they???”  Ugh, I don’t.  But I really should.  Once in a while I take them down and show my boys, who now love Star Wars as much as I do.  When they ask “Mom, can we play with your Star Wars cards!”, I turn into Clark Griswold passing by and waxing poetic about the St. Louis Arch as Russ and Audrey excitedly ask to go into it….”No”.  Sure, of course when they are older and more responsible in their 30’s.  What, am I CRAZY??

**********

That was the best, most awesome Christmas present I have ever received.  If someone had asked me what the odds were that I would ever see those cards again I would have said, really super not good.  But as any good Star Wars geek would have reminded me, “Never tell me the odds”.

Sometimes what is lost can be found.  Sometimes your parents and family truly know what is important to you and don’t chuck your memories off a moving truck.

I should have kept the faith.   I am so fortunate.  So lucky.  My family is pretty great.  A powerfully good force in my life.

“Here’s lookin’ at you, kid”.

(No.  Wait…)

“You talkin’ to ME?”

(Nope.  Hold on…)

“I see dead people”.

(Arghhhh, that’s not IT…)

(Ah, here it comes…) 

HEAVY-HANDEDNESS FAIR WARNING EARMUFFS ALERT:

May the force be with you.

IMG_3852

 

The Instant-Replay. Again.

Re-posting. Just because…

hippielib

I was working from home that morning.

My boss had recently approved my request to become an official participant in the company’s telecommuting initiative.  Two days a week I got to wake up, roll out of bed, put on a pair of pants and a t-shirt, schlep my lucky-ass to the bathroom for some minimal personal grooming and hygiene, saunter over to the frig for my ritual morning Diet Pepsi, meander my way down the hall to our home-office to boot-up the computer and start working from home for the remainder of the day.  Ahhh, man was that nice.

A lot of my friends didn’t like working from home.  They found it isolating and difficult to stay on-task, what with all of the diversions that could be found at home, like…not working.  Not me.  I loved it.  My job as a Manager at that time was a tedious one in…

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It is ON.

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So I am sitting across from my colleague, Dan.

He is a nice guy.  We have always liked each other.  We have a good working relationship; friendly, full of good, mostly-appropriate workplace humor.  More so I am full of my brand of humor and he is humored BY me, but still.

As it stands now, I have something he wants and so he is sitting in a chair in front of my desk beginning to grovel appropriately for something unrealistic he needs, in an unrealistic timeframe for an unrealistic client.

I enjoy his groveling so I let it continue because it makes me happy. He knows he may not get what he wants because I am no shrinking violet, but that getting there is half the fun.

Dan does not know me very well, but well enough to know this is the fun little game we play.

We begin our meeting, becoming more engrossed in the particulars of what he needs and when he wants it, and then things get a little tense when I push back on his requests.

My back tenses slightly.  You know, because I have now gone from playful-humor mode to biting-humor mode so he knows who he is dealing with.

It is now that the fireworks begin.

At a certain point in our banter, I feel an instantaneous flash of a spark in the lower part of my belly.

At that precise location, the heat starts gurgling.  Not roiling yet, just gurgling, like the little tiny bubbles in the pot of water over the flame on the stove that crawl up the sides, harbingers of what is to come.

Dan and I lock eyes, still negotiating with fervor like I watched my Dad do when I bought my first car.  The air between us is suddenly electrified.

The gurgling has now spread to my upper abdomen and is working its way to my slightly heaving chest. I am breathing imperceptibly faster.  Or is it perceptible??

The bubbles on the side of the pot are traveling upward faster…my neck, my arms…and now my heart is pounding.  I shift in my seat.  The words between Dan and I are still flowing uninterrupted.  But what is unsaid – is a lot.

My thighs are feeling the effects now, and I put my hand to the back of my neck and tilt my head slightly toward a training manual on my desk, in a valiant effort to draw Dan’s eyes away from me and what I am truly feeling.

And now, God, it is in my cheeks, my eyes…my face.  Continuing to talk and remaining focused on the task at hand is not impossible, but it is not without effort.

Dan is now looking at me with obvious interest.  With growing intensity.

This acknowledgement between us that something is happening is now undeniable.

I try to collect myself while speaking, as I slide my hand slowly across my desk a mere few inches from Dan’s hands – increasing my volume so he locks eyes with me again.  He clears his throat.

My left hand reaches knowingly for the small, worn and slightly misshapen steno pad next to my phone.  Dan mimics me and pushes his legal pad forward and lifts his pen to begin writing.

As he writes I stare at him, wondering if he knows what I am thinking, if he feels the charge in the air.

With the steno pad now in front of me on the desk, I slide my hands up to the back of my neck, lift both of my arms and softly, slowly lift my fairly long, brown hair up from off of my back in a flawless, sweeping motion.  My breathing is noticeable, my pulse quickening.

He looks up from his writing.  He is nervous.  I am nervous.  So much unsaid.

My left hand is holding my hair up off of my neck, and my right hand gently brushes my forehead, my temple, my upper lip, coming to rest on my chest just above the buttons on my summery blouse.

Dan notices this of course, but he pretends he doesn’t.  I pretend not to notice that he is pretending not to notice.

Dan touches the top of his collared shirt, brushing his neck with his forefinger.

My right hand reaches for the steno pad, no pen in sight.

I let out an audible though not entirely inappropriate gasp as I lift the pad and part my lips in anticipation of the bursts of wind that will cool my skin on fire – when I begin to fan myself like a Southern belle rockin’ away on her porch in August.

Dan looks at me.  He stumbles on his words and makes a feeble attempt at humor while staring at me fanning my face, chest, and the nape of my neck as I tilt my head forward.

He swallows hard.

I swallow hard and then decide to interject with something incredibly meaningful to us both…”How ’bout them Cubs?”…as we are both Cub fans.

He is thankful for the reprieve of the intensity between us, as am I.

He tells a story involving himself and a friend at Wrigley Field, and I giggle in awkward delight at how funny it isn’t, while appreciating his grasping at anything to avoid what is happening between us at this moment.

I am sure that what is going through our minds is similar…this is the office.  We are colleagues.  This should not be happening.  How will things ever be the same between us again?  Will anyone else notice what we are sharing right now??

I let a whispered sigh escape as I continue to fan myself slowly with tendrils of my hair wafting back and forth with each stroke.  I shift in my seat, moving my legs to the side so they are uncovered by the desktop.

Dan can take it no longer.  I see it in his eyes.  He needs to speak the words so far unspoken.

“Are…” he clear his throat, “…are you okay?”

I smile wryly at him, squinting my eyes slightly.

“Yes, Dan, I am okay.”

He breathes deeply, moves in closer to me and says, “Are you sure?”

Our eyes meet.  I move in closer…our faces just a foot or so apart now.

“Yes, Dan.  I am sure.”  I say with sweet deliberation.

“Oh…I…I, okay…” he stumbles, and shifts uncomfortably.

I interject, longing to speak the words we both want to hear.

I move even closer, Dan’s eyes narrow now for a second.  He is anxious.  No one is around.

“Hot…” I say with the beads of the boiling, roiling water from the pot on the stove now glistening all over my body…”Flash”.

“What?”  Dan asks a little too loudly.

“Hot.  Flash”.

We look at each other for what seems an eternity.

“Menopause, Dan.  Hot flash.  There I’ve said it”.

Dan leans back in his chair, tilts his head back and lets out a boisterous “Ha!  Wow.  Thank God, I thought you were sick and getting ready to throw up!  I’ve been sitting here this whole time trying to figure out how I could grab your garbage can just in case!”

As the roiling stops just as suddenly as the gurgling began, I laugh, dropping the steno pad and picking up a well-placed napkin to begin swabbing the comical amounts of sweat pouring off of me in embarrassing places.

“Yeah.  Well, it’s just menopause.  And this, my friend, is what it looks like.  You are watching biology, the cycle of life, the wonder of Niagara Falls – right in front of you all at once.”

Dan chuckles, “Just glad you’re ok.   That was definitely a show.  Thanks, man!” as he proceeds to get up and walk away.

“Ha…yeah, you’re welcome!” I say faux- jovially, adding the tag line of “you little fucker” silently to myself.

“Oh, Dan!” I yell after him, “Remember that deadline will not work for us – I cannot be flexible with that”.

He laughs and shakes his head “Ohhh damnnn, I thought I’d sneak that in since you weren’t listening with all that going on”.

“Hey”, I say with a hint of chiding, “Here’s the great thing about women, I can simultaneously sweat like a hog farmer through my clothes due to my lady bits working in overdrive AND AT THE SAME TIME listen to and absorb everything you are saying…which is more than I can say for your half of the species the majority of the time.  So you know what’s ON?  My deadline.”

“Yeah”, he smiles, “Okay fine.  Sorry.”

“Yeah.  That’s right!” I say rather loudly with pretend/serious indignation as he walks away.

I stand up letting my hair down with a flourish, straightening my skirt and lifting my now damp blouse away from my skin.

Little fucker.

Is it hot in here??

Oh it is on.  The heat is most definitely ON.

Proof? Hi. I’m Pudding.

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Sometimes you just move along in your life, plodding through.

You wake up.  You go to work.  You do homework with your kids.  You grocery shop.  You watch TV.  You do laundry.  You go through writer’s-block.  You pay bills.  You eat dinner.  You….wait.  Back up.

Writer’s-block.  Ahhhh.  Yesssss.  The block.

Six months for me.  Not so much a block but more of a crater filled with alligators and swarming hornets that you cannot jump over until you get some mother f’ing pictures of one simple f’ing event in the life of your child that you should remember and can’t and that everyone close to you vaguely remembers and makes you feel like a dolt for not remembering but cannot supply you with even a shred of evidence that it happened.

I tend to like things wrapped up in neat little bows.  Pretty, frilly bows.  During the last few years of my life I have learned to let go of this urge, this need, this desire.  Bows, whether on top of a package or on top of life, suggest that what’s inside are perfectly planned for happenings and that they were perfectly executed…and now in order to brag to the world about how perfect the package/life is – I will exclaim it to the world with panache.  And the proof is…this bow.  See!

I do not believe in bows any longer.  I have accepted that anything worth anything in my life has come to me in a box wrapped in the funny papers and held together with duct tape:  initially you look at it and think, gee this present very likely has crap inside.  But when you open it there sits a diamond ring.  Or cubic zirconia.  Either way, in the end it is pretty.  So much good in my life has been wrapped in funny paper and duct tape.

And that is okay.  It is good.

But I write in a circular fashion in my head.  As a writer I cannot escape the need to beginning-middle-and-end things in my brain so I can put the bow on top.

It seems so stupid but the truth is I haven’t really been able to write anything because in my last Pulitzer Prize winning post “I Doubt It”, I kind of left it open-ended in my head.  Like a “to be continued”.   I thought the follow-up would be quick and painless.  I would have received a flood of pictures and then I would post them – awww such a cute little tag-post to wrap everything up – and then I could move on to writing other more worthy random posts as I saw fit.

But the proof never came, man.  No pictures.  No video.  No specifics at all about my son Boo’s baptism.  And until I got that I realized I just couldn’t write a damn thing.

So, as stated before, you plod along.

Then one day just a short time ago you are demolishing your nasty old bathroom with a flamethrower and some grenades, and you get a text message.

MOM:  Check your email!!

I didn’t though.  I was wearing enormous protective goggles, gardening gloves and one of those little white placebo face masks which not so much protect you from Mt. Saint Helen-sized plumes of dust as filter the dust out so that what you do breathe is just super PURIFIED dust.  I would get back to her.

I got back to my demo work.

The phone rang.  Then it rang again.  And again.

Good Lord.  Someone must be dead.  Off come the gloves, mask and pins back in grenades.

ME:  Hello??  What’s wrong?!

MOM:  Did you check your email?

ME:  No, Mom, I’m destroying the bathroom.  What’s going on?  Did somebody die?

MOM:  What??  Who died?

ME:  I am asking you!

MOM:  What?  No one!  (Excitedly)  Did you check your email?

ME:  No, why?

ME:  Just check it!  I think you will be very happy!

ME:  Okay, but can’t you just tell me what it is??

MOM:  (BIG sighhhh, exasperation)  Just CHECK IT!!!!

ME:  (arghhh)  Geez.  Okay, I’ll call you back.

Here is what she sent me:

Once a lowly, store-bought pre-decorated carrot cake.  Until I got the tube of blue frosting out and transformed it into....this.

Once a lowly, store-bought pre-decorated carrot cake. Until I got the tube of blue frosting out and transformed it into Boo’s “The Traditional, Non-Traditional Sanctimonious BAPTISMAL Carrot Cake”

And this:

This is Boo.  This is Boos' Catholic baptism.  This is Boo at his baptism being held by his Godmother.  This is Boo being held by his Godmother while I am sitting next to her also in the picture.

This is Boo. This is Boos’ Catholic baptism. This is Boo at his baptism being held by his Godmother. This is Boo being held by his Godmother while I am sitting next to her watching the picture being taken and smiling for it as if I were a normal, fully functioning human mother.

And this:

This is Boo actually BEING baptized.  In the act of being baptized.  By a priest.  In a church.  With his mother, me, watching as if  lobotomized in the background wearing the purple blouse holding his brother.

This is Boo actually BEING baptized. In the act of being baptized. By a priest. In a church. With his mother, me, watching as if lobotomized in the background wearing the purple blouse holding his brother.

 

And…this:

This is me holding Boo on the altar, with our family all around taking a group photo after the ceremony. I cropped it to zero in on Boo's feet.  There are no shoes on his feet.  No booties on his feet.  No nothin' on his feet, in church.  And he's wearing white pajamas.  Pa-JAMMM-ahhhs.

This is me holding Boo on the altar, with our family all around taking a group photo after the ceremony.
I cropped it to zero in on Boo’s feet. There are no shoes on his feet. No booties on his feet. No nothin’ on his feet, in church. And he’s wearing white pajamas. Pa-JAMMM-ahhhs.

 

And there you have it.  It happened.  I can see it.  I can see Hippielib’s little barefooted, pajama-wearing hippie baby at the event I doubted ever happened.

And you know what?  I still don’t fucking remember it.  I was there.  I mean I can see I was fucking THERE.

But was I really?  I dressed my kid in white pajamas, with no shoes, to attend the first Sacrament of his spiritual life in a house of worship.

Those two years of my life described in “I Doubt It” , they’re gone.  They are so gone.  But thank you Mom, for coming through with the proof and making me think someone was dead in order to surprise me with it.

While I no longer believe in bows, and am not at all sure what that says about my spiritual worthiness, I do believe in pudding.  Pudding tastes good.

I like pudding.

 

 

I Doubt It.

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I am not a very good Catholic.

For far too many reasons I will not go into now. I will post about those another time, but here’s a preview:

 Reason #1: I did not get married in a church, but instead in a hall normally reserved for the funeral luncheons they book from the cemetery across the street – quote from the caterer:  “Oh it’s so nice to be doing a wedding instead of a funeral!”; and which was officiated by a lesbian, non-denominational minister, on the day of the worst storm and flooding of the year.

That I am now a couple of months shy of finally being divorced is no mystery to the faithful among us.

But this week I was sitting in church for the mandatory parents’ meeting regarding my oldest son’s upcoming Reconciliation and First Holy Communion.

Reason #2: It has been so long since I have gone to church for an actual mass that I thought to myself…when the hell did everyone start commonly calling “Confession”…”Reconciliation”??.

ANSWER:  Since 89,000 B.C.  That’s when.

I have a lot of problems with the Catholic Church and religion in general, but still, just because I will most likely burn in Hell doesn’t mean my kids have to. I thought I would at least do the bare minimum and give them the biggies I was raised to believe in, to ensure Heaven  for them some day.  And the first of those biggies is baptism.

It is INSANE to me that people could ever actually think if a child is not baptized and they God-forbid die, that they will not go to Heaven. What a load of crap. But hey – rebellion is owned…not given.

Therefore I had my oldest child baptized.

Reason #3: I kind of forgot to get a “real”, professional baptismal sheet cake, ran out the day of the ceremony between the ceremony and the party – before all the guests came over – and bought a small, round carrot cake. Complete with two little orange icing carrots on the top.

Me and my girlfriend then ridiculously, hastily wrote in icing on the top “Happy Baptism!” or something like that and then drew a cross on it. Yessss ma’am.

Then my second child.

Reason #4: I hate those little white suits babies are supposed to wear for baptisms. They look like funeral suits and they seriously Creep. Me. Out. I hate them.

Hate.

So my second son wore a white Polo shirt with khaki pants to his ceremony.  Stay classy.

Then there was my last born. BooBoos. Boo for short.

A month or so ago me and the kids were camping with my parents. As my mother and I sat alone by the campfire a feeling of unease came over me in a powerful, sickening way. It had been brewing for weeks and I could no longer avoid confronting it.

I was drinking Scotch that my father had given me. It was so good and it was starting to relax me. I was getting all loose.  I realized that I had to ask the question out loud no matter how unfuckingbelievably embarrassing it was.

“Mom?” I asked sheepishly.

“Yeah?” She replied.

Big, deep breath from me.

“So…” nervous, fake, bad sitcom actor laugh, “So…did I have Boo baptized??”

“What?” she said.

“I…did I have him baptized?”

“Of course!” she blurted out. “Of course, yes you did.”

“Oh good.  (Loooong pause).  Yeah, see…did I though?? Did I really??” I said, wishing the reason I was asking it was because I was drunk and not mentally ill.

“Yes…so and so was there, and you had the party and you got the cake and…” she continued.

“No” I interrupted, “No, those things happened at NONO’s baptism…not Boo’s”.

“Oh”. She said looking down at the fire. “No, you definitely did. I would have been ON YOU if you hadn’t. You did. How can you not REMEMBER THAT!? He’s only 5 years old!” She nervously laughed. (Loooong pause).  “Oh my God…DID you baptize him?”

Now I was making her doubt her sanity, her religion, her very existence!

“Shit”. I said.

Yes. Super Shit.

You see, I went on to explain, the thing is…the thing is…hmmmm…the thing is that I remember almost nothing from the first two years of my two youngest sons’ lives.

My middle and youngest sons were born 13 months apart with my oldest son being only two years older than my middle….and that entire time period, from the birth of my middle child until my youngest was about 10 months old, is a blur of breast-feeding, exhaustion, breast pumping, exhaustion, trying to force feed and force naps and force any sense of normalcy into my life.

My most vivid memories of that time are of standing at my kitchen counter, dressed like a hobo, hyperventilating and trying not to freak the FUCK OUT at the three little boys I was trying to just…keep…alive.

That night at the campground I finally had to admit to someone that I might as well have been lobotomized for all I remembered of the infancy of my children.

I told my Mom that I had a very very vague recollection of looking at my 4 or 5 month old Boo and thinking, yeah I need to call the church and get him baptized. But then I hooked myself up to the electric milker and I blacked out for probably another oh, six to eight weeks.

I knew who I had chosen to be his Godparents, so I finally said to my Mom, “I can’t stand it.  I have got to text his Godmother. She will know”.  Yes the non-mother will know!

Oh the shame. Seriously.

It was 10 pm and I was going to text my friend who I asked to be his Godmother and was going to ask her if MY son was, indeed, baptized.

Big swig of Scotch. And now I was just laughing at the pathetic-ness of it all. Shame took a backseat to the black hole in my head that needed filling.

Here is our text exchange verbatim:

ME: Ok. Don’t think I’m a freak. I’m drinking. (Sure, blame it on the booze).  But me and my Mom cannot remember if I had Boo baptized. You are the Godmother…but did I baptize him?
(See how I threw my Mother under the bus there? See how I did that? WE cannot remember.)

HER: YES! LOL!!!
(Yup. Rip roarin’ laugh out loud funny. For HER.)

ME: Are you sure?? I can’t find even one picture from his baptism. We are laughing. Are you really sure??
(Subtext: Please tell me you are as big a douche of a mother as I am and that it’s natural to not remember significant life events of your children).

HER: I got him a book. There are pictures!! I swear I’ve seen them. I got him a book to put memories, cards, etc of the baptism in. Real nice.

ME: It’s like it never happened. That whole year was a blur! lol

Uh huh.  L   O   L

I didn’t even know what memory book she was talking about.

I wanted to stand up like Pacino’s Lt. Colonel Frank Slade and wail into the night sky, “I’m in the DAAAAHHK HERE!”   But I would have spilled the Scotch.

Sweet Jesus. For weeks I had looked for even one picture of that day and I could not find any. Not one.

Did I burn them? Eat them?? Did I hook them up to the suck-o-matic torture device and SUCK them clean of their very imagery???

In the meantime, my mother – who is a whiz at family genealogy –  had the brilliant idea to look through her online records of our family in which she adds baptismal information, and corroborated the corroborator’s texts.

Apparently this event took place.

I dunno.  I have serious doubts.

This feeling is like the worst black out you’ve ever had from an all night college bender where you wake up at 6 am face down on the floor of a Taco Bell wearing a tiara, a Flashdance sweatshirt and moon boots you’ve never owned, when the last thing you remember happening took place 19 hours earlier.

(That probably never happened to me by the way.  All I am saying is with several billion people on the planet the odds are pretty high it has happened to someone).

I suppose I will have to cave and ask my ex-husband to look through the thousands of pictures he has on his hard drive for evidence. I am sure he will get riiiggghhht on that for me.

So there I was, sitting in church this week, reminiscing of lactation and profound memory loss and thinking, you know, I really identify with Doubting Thomas.

Maybe a TV news crew filming the Reconciliation/Communion?

Reason #5: I sometimes want proof.

And to my very first point, as a Catholic that is hard to reconcile.

Woodchucking.

Posted on

I have a pretty bad cold. I have been hard core sneezing all day. Which sucks.

I have a new laptop with a big screen, so I can write again. Which is nice.

The keys on the keyboard seem smaller than average or off center, so I am always placing my hands on the wrong keys like this – ehivh divld. Which sucks.

I was excited to find a bag of icing-coated animal crackers in the closet and I am shoving them into my mouth. Which is nice.

I cannot taste them. Which sucks.

I also found a bag of baby carrots in the fridge and put some into a bowl to substitute the icing fest, thinking since I cannot taste anything I might as well eat something healthy. Which is nice.

It turns out that even when I cannot taste something I will still eat the fattening crap. Which sucks.

I just sneezed four huge sneezes in a row and my brand new laptop launched off the couch and did not explode. Which is nice.

I am out of tissue, so I am alternating using one-ply, magician’s evaporating toilet paper and razor wire, er, paper towels, to wipe my nose. Which sucks.

I am super happy that Fall is coming to the Chicagoland area. It is my favorite season of the year. Which is nice.

Fall only lasts fourteen hours in the Chicagoland area. Which sucks.

I love libraries and I returned seven overdue books to our newly renovated library, and sat and listened to music. Which is nice.

The fines I have forked over for overdue library books over the past two years paid for the new library renovations. Which sucks.

I needed to do laundry tonight. But instead I did not. Which is nice.

Tomorrow at work I will be annoyed all day that I have to keep pulling up my last-resort-granny-panties because I did not do laundry. Which sucks.

Earlier at the gym I watched Sean Hannity make himself look like a tool yet again by discussing the insidious evil behind Miley Cyrus’ twerking. Which is nice.

My brain has retained the word “twerking” and I used it in a sentence. Which sucks.

I have decided to discontinue the use of razor wire in wiping my nose, so the searing pain in my face has lessened. Which is nice.

I am dangerously close to being out of toilet paper and may seriously have to start using leftover, blue birthday crepe paper streamers to blow my nose. Which sucks.

I have written several dumb, filler posts just so that I get my money’s worth for buying this blog’s domain name, and this is the dumbest one by far. But I wrote something – and it makes my poor little pestilence ridden body happy that I wrote anything at all. Which is nice.

Tomorrow I will regret that this hunk of lard is out there on the interwebs and associated with me in any way. Which sucks.

Still, I am going to completely disregard my own pride and hit publish, trusting that the next thing I write will not include words that mean furiously gyrating the hips to simulate the sex act with a teddy bear. Which is nice.

Ears plugged up now. I cannot taste, smell or hear. Only my Mr. Magoo vision and carpel tunnelized sense of touch remain. Crepe paper everywhere. Blue??…You’re my Boy, Blue!! Disorientation and panic setting in. God. The panic. The end is nigh. Which sucks.

I am still laughing because earlier I wrote “which shucks” instead of which sucks. That made me think of whichshucks, and then woodchucks and then about how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood, and that made me think of the commercial with woodchucks chucking wood into the water and, I don’t know. It just seemed…funny. Yes, okay. Time for me to snuggle up fully vertical for optimal nasal drainage – with my lover Nyquil. That is his last name if you want to Google him. He knows what I like.

Which is nice.

White Noises.

Posted on

I’ll be honest. I hate following traditional directions. I am a landmark kinda girl. Don’t tell me go North two hundred feet and turn East following Route Fifty-Sixty and then Route Fifty-Sixty turns into ShutYourHole Boulevard and then blahblahblahdeeblahblah.

Tell me turn right at the tree with the rope tied around it, slow down at what used to be the supercool theatre back in the day but is now storefront with a painted baby buggy on the window, do a U-turn at the point where you can see they had to paint over the white lane lines, look for the slightly taller than normal fire hydrant and then….

Yeah. That’s how I like it.

I remember the little things. My brain likes the things I am not supposed to remember.

I often forget a name but I almost never forget a face.

I have been watching TV and will pause the screen when I see an actor, just some schmo in the background who has worked in other shows as a schmo in other backgrounds who I cannot place immediately. And I wait. And I wait. Until it comes to me. And 99% of the time it does. I might not remember his name (although I would guess it’s Joe), but I will be able to tell you the other eighty backgrounds he’s worked in.

When I see someone at the store, or gas station, or driving down the street who I just know I know but cannot place – I obsess on that person until I get it. And 99% of the time I do.

It could be the guy who was in line behind me at the Jewel two weeks ago and sneezed so I looked at him and blessed him. Or the woman who parked next to me months ago at the gym who opened her door and got out while talking loudly on her cell phone, so I noticed her.

I am a little weird so if I see the sneezing guy again much later, let’s say at the dry cleaner’s, I would say “Hey, Sneezing Guy! I was in line in front of you at the Jewel! I blessed you! Remember me?” Because to me that is the sort of thing I remember so why wouldn’t he.

And he’s all like “Uh. No. No I do NOT remember you, Freak.”. And then he pepper sprays me.

It is the stuff I remember.

I was looking through some old photo albums the other day. Pictures I have seen many hundreds of times. Pictures dating back 5, 10, 20+ years. And as I’ve done hundreds of times before, I look at the backgrounds of them. Pictures from 35 years ago…the main subject matter is a given; me and my sister in front of our childhood home.

I long ago memorized what we were wearing, the tilts of our heads, the shadows we cast. But I have also memorized the backgrounds. The things that aren’t supposed to be important to the shot, the stuff that is simply supposed to serve as the irrelevant backdrop.

I see the small smear of white crayon on one yellow brick to the right of the front door. I remember it. My sister had drawn on that brick one day and she got in trouble for it. In the picture you would probably mistake it for a glare of light. But it’s crayon, and it stayed there until the day my parents moved out of that house forever.

Then there are the crowd shots. Me and family or friends in front of national monuments, buildings, scenery…in crowded places, with people who over the years have evolved into the main focus when their job was to hang there as faded, white-noise enhancements to – us.

I notice the people, the mundane, nameless faces in the background merely caught by my camera in a split-second of borrowed time. But there they are, and I know their faces and expressions so well that if I ran into them on the street tomorrow I would stop, tilt my head back, close my eyes and wait for it to come to me.

My eyes would flash open fiercely with awe and excitement as if I had just invented the toaster, and I skip happily up to angry-looking-woman-wearing-a-yellow-shirt-and-pale-blue-baseball-cap-looking-behind-off-to-her-left-while-standing-to-my-right-at-the-Lincoln-Memorial-in-D.C. and say with all the familiarity of lifelong friends…….

“HEY!!! Angry-looking-woman-wearing-a-yellow-shirt-and-pale-blue-baseball-cap-looking-behind-off-to-her-left-while-standing-to-my-right-at-the-Lincoln-Memorial-in-D.C….how the hell ARE you?! Man it’s been, what, 19 years?? Oh, mannnn, it is good to SEE you again!”

And then that bitch would pepper spray me too. Or maybe taze me, I don’t know. She definitely looked pissed.

It’s funny. That woman is perpetually, forever, frozen in time to me as pissed off. I have made up reasons for that in my head over the years: her kids were lagging behind. Her husband was bitching about being hungry. She had just discovered her wallet was stolen. She realized that she was in D.C. when her flight was supposed to have landed in Seattle but now she was trying to make the best of it.

I will never know that reason, but I would know her.

Background people in photos have always fascinated me. They are not photo bombs because they aren’t even accidentally the focus, and yet I focus on them anyway.

They do not know they are a part of my life as I view it through the prism of frozen memories. Thousands of those people over my lifetime, trapped in my subconscious as they were caught on film. Burned into my memory.

Then I think, how many pictures am I in across the world, just hanging out in the background? Sneezing. Shoving a hot dog in my mouth. Looking bored. Yelling at someone. Laughing.

Is there a picture on a mantle in England of the happy couple in front of the Coliseum in Rome, and not so far back and a little to the right is me looking frustratingly through my fanny pack for my passport?

In photos that are incredibly important and meaningful to people all over the world, is me. Doing something. Or nothing. Innocuously. Or maybe even conspicuously. But I am there, unknowingly emblazoned in their brain as a forever part of that one frozen moment.

And you are too.

I am telling you right now, I want you to know that if you ever come running at me like a linebacker in the mall and say “Oh my GOD! Girl-scratching-her-ass-with her left-hand-while wearing-sunglasses-and-jean-shorts-and-striped-tank-top-with-her-right-hand-on-her-right-hip-in-front-of-the-Golden-Gate-Bridge….holy SHIT…how the hell ARE you!?!”….

I will not taze you, Bro.

I will not taze you.

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