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Category Archives: humor

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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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.

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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.

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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.

It Bears Repeating.

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In light of this, the right to fight, I say this……….again.

Originally Posted:  May 10, 2011

We’ve all been asked what our top 10 movies are, right? While mine sometimes change depending on my mood or the barometric pressure, the following have consistently rotated in and out of that Top 10:

  • Braveheart
  • Jaws
  • Star Wars
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  • The Godfather, Parts I & II
  • True Romance
  • Aliens

First let me say I think it’s entirely possible I was a man in a past-life, and an aggressive, swashbuckling, womanizing one at that. But I digress.

If I look at just the movies above I ask myself what they all have in common?

  • Central alpha-male figures? Check.
  • Central alpha-male figures fighting against an alpha-male foe? Check. (I’m making the assumption that the shark in Jaws was a male. I will call him “Buddy”. And Nurse Ratched, well, Louise Fletcher created such an indelibly strong, frightening, gender-neutral character that at the very least she was the personification of “The Man”).

So they all have those things in common except….”Aliens”.

“Aliens”. Has there ever been a more kick-ass, archetypal, hell-hath-no-fury female character in film in recent memory? I think not. There have been attempted copy-cats, sure…but none that got is as right as Sigourney Weaver’s Oscar nominated performance as Ellen Ripley did in “Aliens”.

What fascinates me about Weaver’s portrayal of Ripley is she managed to bridge the gap between feminine and masculine power until you forgot the gender stereotypes, and with ease fit into the role of Earth-mother defending her child with the iron-will and steely courage of an unwitting soldier . And all the while….she looked damned sexy doing it.

The reason “Aliens” as a sequel worked so well is that it was no longer just an epic battle between humans and acid-blooded, 15 foot tall cockroaches with detachable, snapping jaws (ugh…still one of the scariest villains in moviedom if you ask me), but because this was a human woman fighting to keep her “adopted” daughter from dying in the clutches of the alien…and the alien, as luck would have it, was ALSO a mother defending her children…er…larvae. So you have all the action and suspense of a sci-fi thriller with the added bonus of watching the most epic of battles: two females defending the creatures within their care.

Remember Ripley’s line when she was in that gigantic robot-suit right before she deep-sixed the alien mother: “Get away from her you BITCH!” I mean, come ON…who doesn’t love a good bitch-slap???

I was thinking the other day about soldiers. Not famous ones like in the movies that I mentioned above, just grunts, troops. Just your average, every-day people who fight the wars that we’ve either told them to by drafting them, or asked them to fight with a pretty-please-with-sugar-on-top. People who go in and fight for the safety and security and well-being and national interests of people they’ve never met, on the orders of still other people they’ve never met. And all of those brave troops who actually fight in combat are only…men.

Why is that?

Has our testosterone-infused government establishment never SEEN “Aliens”?

I know, people, I know…Ripley is not a real person. And neither is the giant, phallic-headed cockroach alien (that we know of…), so I will clarify my question.

Um…just what IS the justification for not having female combat soldiers in the U.S. military?

I’m not a proponent of war. Not by a liberal-longshot. But again, I’m no pacifist. I simply believe that war of any kind should commence only when there is absolutely no other fucking option to protect the masses of innocents. When war, however, is warranted, why can’t a woman fight alongside a man?

Is it because we get our “monthlies”, our “friends” and that would make for an un-sanitary working environment? Because, you know, everyone knows how sterile and sanitary field barracks, and encampments and port-a-potties-if-you’re-lucky and ditches and caves and such are. If soldiers can carry around hand-held GPS’s, they can carry around some Tampax.

Is it because we’re emotionally unpredictable and emotionally fragile; that we can’t take the heat when we’re not in the kitchen? Riiiggghhht. Because everyone knows that while you’re in the heat of battle a woman would surely opt-out of the most hard-wired and primal of animal instincts which is to LIVE, and instead opt-IN for the lesser-known of the primal instincts which is to die while collapsed on her knees in the rubble, head in hands, shedding big, blubbery tears.

Is it because we’re…weak…physically in comparison to men? Now on this point I do not argue the merit itself; women, in most cases, are NOT as physically strong as men. But are we talking about one-on-one duels, here? Are we talking about a prison-yard scene from a B-movie in which the two opponents are encircled by the rest of the chanting group and made to fight to-the-death, or at the very least…to the shame?

Let’s face it, the list of reasons that women are given for not being allowed to engage in combat is a mile long: we’d distract the men with our feminine wiles (sorry, now that DADT has been technically eradicated – FINALLY – the issue of enticement shouldn’t hold water in terms of women/men either), we’re not courageous enough and too cautious (sorry, I’m here to tell you that courage has nothing to do with testes)…and ohhhhhh, just not enough time for the rebuttals to the faux-justifications.

In the end, hard-core military traditionalists, and well…most men… will tell you simply that a woman doesn’t harbor the necessary aggression, stamina and mental fortitude to fight in battle for the love of country. It’s not “in us”. Or to put it succinctly, “Dude…you’re a GIRL!” To those people I say: Have you ever actually seen a woman fight for someone she cares for? Someone she loves? Her honor? Her child? Would you ever want to be on the receiving end of her wrath, especially when that woman is armed with an AK-47 or a grenade launcher? Would you??

Women are nurturers by nature. I believe this to be true. It is not in our nature to voluntarily commit to harm others, regardless of the reasons.

But let me tell you this: love of country’s got nothing on love of family, of child, of personal honor. Look, women should rule the world. That is a given. War and all of its atrocities would eventually cease to exist in that scenario (another post for another day)…so let’s take baby steps.

You put a woman out there on the front lines, a nurturer – and I don’t give a damn what she’s the nurturer of back home: a child, a cat, a parrot, a goat or a plant – and she will fight like a man.

She’ll give new meaning to the term bitch-fight.

Seriously. “Aliens”. Just consider adding it to your Top 10.

Dissonance.

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It was my favorite kind of day in Chicago. Sweatshirt and shorts weather, the perfect combination. Like chocolate covered pretzels – just sort of perfect in its dissonance. I knew when I woke up that morning I would call in sick to work. I was not sick.

It was 1997.

I did not know what I wanted to do that day, only that it was a morning I simply could not allow the same routine to exist.

I laid in my bed trying very hard not to allow the creeping feeling of guilt to lie on the pillow beside me. I instead allowed the just-fuck-it side of me to yawn and stretch and wake up. I said Hi! It’s about time you showed up, and I left a voice mail for my boss with some thinly veiled reference to things coming out of both ends of me…must have been something I ate…I should feel better tomorrow.

I lived alone. I sat up wishing I had a destination but was motivated to get up despite not having one.

I could tell through my curtains it was hazy outside, cloudy. And cooler than it was warm. This was good. I did not want the pressure of having to do something typical on a beautiful, exceedingly warm nearly Fall day such as ride a bike along the lakefront.

I stood up and got a head rush and waited for it to pass. I almost never wore my robe. But this morning I closed my bedroom door and took it off the hook. It was green, emerald-green. It is still green and I sometimes still wear it, but that was maybe the 5th time I’d ever put it on. It felt so nice and warm, and then I slipped on my slippers.

Taking probably seven steps I was standing in the middle of my living room. No noise except the vague sounds of traffic outside. I wished, deeply, that I drank coffee because that would have been the first destination. But I don’t drink coffee and never have. It sucks to not drink coffee, I thought to myself.

So I peed instead. No, man, not on the living room floor. I managed to get to the toilet. As I sat on the cold seat I thought, smelling coffee or bacon right now would be nice.

Done, I went to my refrigerator. Which was at the back end of my very long clothes closet. Which was of course just off the kitchen. So acceptable was this peculiarity in my 20’s.

Diet Pepsi was my poison, my caffeine. It is still so awesome. I opened a can and started to drink and took a step back.

The nice thing about having your refrigerator in your closet is that you can stand and stare at both and think…everything in here sucks, and have it apply to both your clothes and your food.

I made a slight belching sound and shivered at the coldness running down into my stomach.

I moved a box of crackers to get to a pair of my shorts. Then reached overhead and moved a box of stage makeup I’d had since high school to get at the comfy grey sweatshirt with no logos or words on it.

I took those and my poison and schlepped into the bathroom and got undressed. I started the shower while simultaneously brushing my teeth. I had to run the cold in the sink to ensure the hot in the shower would stay hot for longer than three minutes. I honestly have no idea if this was a factual cause and effect. But it happened once, and so I continued to do it for luck. My shower water needs to be just shy of scalding.

It was a big claw-foot tub that you almost needed a step stool to get into, and like every morning I showered I prayed, please don’t let me die getting into this thing because that would be a shitty and embarassing way to go.

While washing my hair I had two epiphanies: 1. I wasn’t even hung over and really wanted an Egg McMuffin. And 2. I was going to walk around my neighborhood and take pictures all day.

I was taking a photography class during this timeframe and I was suddenly excited that I had found the perfect justification for this day of hookie.

I rushed through my shower. I put my utilitarian underwear and bra on, khaki shorts and grey sweatshirt and blow-dried my long hair into a screaming knot. Instead of brushing it out in clumps I threw it up in a clip. A little makeup. Very little. Some blush and my ever-present lip gloss.

I was moving quickly now with purpose. Back into the hunger-closet to get my backpack. And then into the barely there little corner storage thingy in my bedroom to get my camera.

I opened the bag and began flipping through all the unused rolls of film. Yes, film. Film. The stuff Kodak used to make. Do they still make it?

Black and white. Sweet and salty.  Black and white.

I took two rolls. One Fuji and one Kodak, because I had just learned the difference between the two. I’m sure it was some subtly profound difference – but I couldn’t tell you now if you paid me.

I loaded the camera with the Fuji. I guess because it felt more exotic and leant itself to the possibility of something really cool happening. Fiji. Fuji. It’s how my mind works.

Shoved some crackers and keys in my bag, and walked quickly to the door. I banged my knee into the door jamb having not taken into account the backpack also needing to get through the opening.

Motherfuckkkkkkker, I whispered.

People had to go to work, after all, and I didn’t want to wake the poor bastards up. Skin was torn away from my knee but not bleeding so I slammed the door behind me to vent my anger.  Wow, so loud. I might as well have yelled MOTHERFUCKER at the top of my lungs.

I decided to walk North onto Broadway toward the not as nice part of my neighborhood and meander around in concentric circles from there. I had no idea if I would find anything which would be worthy of my Fuji. But there were some things. There were.

I stopped at Graceland Cemetery.  Cemeteries are usually beautiful to me and this famous one was no exception.  Through a chain-link fence bordering off construction I focused my paltry 35 mm lens on a tombstone.  Frankenstein.  That’s all it said.  Frankenstein.

A beautiful old church was being shredded apart with a wrecking ball, but the entire stained glass wall behind the altar stood alone.

Two ancient men smoking pipes and speaking to each other in what I assume was Polish.

A mobile HIV testing van.

And more, all worthy of my fictional gastrointestinal issues.

But I cannot find those pictures.

I have one.

The chain locked doors of a Pentacostal church which oddly held only evening services according to a sign on the lawn.  Two comically goliath doors were chained together.  Trying to keep the sinners out or keep them locked in?  From a half block away the wooden doors loomed absolutely black in color, shaded by an ornate archway, with the chains barely visible in the muted sun.

I knew the shot I wanted but it would not be easy to get on my manual camera.  It was a long exposure with no tripod.  I needed to hold very, uncharacteristically still.  I set my F-stop, adjusted whosas and whatsits, took a deep breath and held it in, then clicked the shutter three times.

Film.  There was no instant gratification.  No immediate affirmation of a job well or poorly done.  I waited over a week to get my photographs back from the developer.

It turned out exactly as I had hoped.

They were all worth it.

The Egg McMuffin was salty.

This, though, was my sweetest thing.

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The Salieri Complex

After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible…is music. – Aldous Huxley

Music is just so powerful.  I cannot explain it.  How can something so logical and perfectly understandable on paper be transformed into pure emotion and feeling once translated via an instrument?  I shake my head.

That scene.  The one from “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”…the one where scientists go to India to record the phenomenon of people chanting and singing the same sequence of notes over and over again.

That scene gave me chills the first time I saw it when I was a kid.  It still does today.  It was just a few notes.  But it evoked a very strong feeling when sung in unison by hundreds of people.

That was a weird example to get at what I’m getting at.  I am tired.  It has not been a good day.  What can I say.

I am not a musician.  I never have been.  I wanted dearly to be able to play an instrument when I was young; the piano or guitar…something.  I learned to play the Recorder in grade school like most other kids at that time.  (Incidentally, I can still play the theme from Star Wars on it).  But I never did become proficient on any instrument.

To me, at that age, I think I wanted desperately to be able to express my feelings and emotions with clarity and beauty, and doing that through music seemed to me the most natural way to do it.

I couldn’t play an instrument to create music so I thought “I’ll be a singer”.  See, often theatre and singing go together.  I wrote songs and tried singing them.  Only, haaaaaa.  I can’t sing.  I suppose I can hold a warbly tune, but only when it is comedic value you’re looking for.

I cannot cry for you, Argentina, but I can probably make you split a gut.

I found other outlets for my burgeoning expressiveness instead; theatre, dancing and writing.  I was moderately successful at these things in that they temporarily fixed my “fix”; the desire to express myself.  These things were such a high for me, but with the highs come the lows.  And during the lows, there was music.

I was so disturbed after watching “Amadeus” for the first time and thought, “Oh boy.  I know I should identify with Mozart here as the protagonist, but I’m thinking it’s really Salieri.  I get him.”

The scene in which Salieri as a very, very old man is recounting his experiences with Mozart in a time long gone by, and Mozart’s unparalleled genius in creating music and the ethereal emotion it evoked, and how he – Salieri – only wanted a small piece of the divinity he believed Mozart possessed in serving as a conduit for such sounds.

Why, God?  Salieri begged to the Heavens…why have you given me this desire but not the ability to communicate it through music?  Why??

Salieri believed it to be a punishment from God himself that he possessed the pure desire to create musical masterpieces but could not, and that Mozart while seeming to care very little for his God-given talent, could.

Salieri felt imprisoned by this desire, wishing for it either to disappear, or, the ability to magically mutate it into musical glory.

He did not receive either wish.

I identified with him very strongly.

Music has defined my life in so many overpowering ways, as it does for many people.

Certain songs take us back to a specific moment in time, a place.  Sense memory through music has proven one million times  more potent to me than that of smell, touch or even sight.   I am not alone.

Haven’t most of us heard a song that puts us instantly back into the arms of a person we loved and lost or even won, to the point where we can truly feel them, smell them, touch them at a very specific point in time?  The examples are endless.

Music is time travel.

Music speaks more clearly, more resoundingly, more universally…than any other form of personal expression known to man.  I state this as fact, not as opinion.  I dare anyone to argue this point with me.

I cannot create music, but throughout most of my life and certainly throughout the last couple of years, I have depended on it heavily to help me express or fully realize what I am feeling or thinking during times of pain or contentment or confusion or joy.

My iPod is like my own personal, little therapist.

I guard my aloneness with swords and arrows and slingshots.  I do not need much of it, but I do need it.  I crave it.  I must have it so as to bring order to chaos.

And when I am alone and my world is out of focus, skewed, wrapped in gauze…I search for sounds.

I was just searching on my iPod for something by Prince, or Bowie, or Gabriel or who knows who.  Searching.  I’m not sure how I do feel or want to feel at the moment, so the search has been difficult.

Sometimes, music picks you.  Sometimes it helps pull you out of the haze, or at least keeps you comfortable while you are in it.  And once you can get past the envy that you could never write something so simple and yet so transcendently beautiful, the fog lifts if only for a little while.

I wish I had a permanent soundtrack following me around; subtle and yet enhancing the backdrop of my life, keeping me company and alerting those around me to my moods and where my heart and head are at.  It would be so helpful.  No explanations needed.  You’d hear the music and just know.

And no one would have to talk to you in order to say “Jeez, she’s such a bitch today.” or “She is super happy!” or “Oh my God she is so SAD.” or “Nice attitude on her.  Whatevs.”  Because you would hear it a mile away.  No need for words.  It would prevent a lot of potentially uncomfortable encounters.

Perhaps Apple will invent one of those personal soundtrack devices some day.  For now, I will have to be content with ear buds and a soundtrack only I can hear.

Sometimes the music just picks you.  It is definitely not Prince, and it’s not Mozart.  But there it is.  I am suppressing my inner Salieri.

Surrendering to my inability to create something so simple and beautiful, while allowing it to take me mercifully to a place without gauze.

Billy Joel knows what I’m talking about.

Put on “repeat”.  Sleep……………………….

Dear Diary. 2.

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Back by popular demand!

That’s not true.  No one has demanded it.  It’s just something you say.

But some people mildly enjoyed the last “Dear Diary” post so here is a little follow-up.

And yes, Mom.  I used aliases.

November 15, 1980 – 12 years old

Today I almost got hit by a car.  I was on my roller skates and went down a driveway pretty fast out into the street and the car didn’t see me at first and just missed me.  I was so scared.  I can’t believe I wasn’t killed.  So just in case I die soon I decided to make a will:

To my mother and father:  I leave everything in my scrapbooks and all the pictures of me I have so that they can keep their fond memories of me.

It was pretty presumptive to assume their memories of me would be fond ones.  Ah, I guess.  I was a pretty good kid.

To my sister:  I leave everything I own, which is all the games and toys we played with together so that she might remember me.  I will always remember her.

Brings a tear to your eye that I would remember my only sibling, doesn’t it?

To my Grandparents:  Anything left over, because I love them too.

After giving my sister everything I own, “anything left over” wouldn’t be much.  But hey, it’s the thought that counts.

Also, when I die I promise to contact all of my family and friends and tell them all about Heaven.

I promised.  And I meant it.  I remember thinking that everyone else who had ever lived and died just wasn’t trying hard enough to contact their friends and families from the Great Beyond. 

It really burned my ass because I truly believed they were all stone-cold slackers.

**********

November 29, 1980 – 12 years old

Tomorrow we are going to put up our Christmas tree.  I’m so excited, I can’t wait!!  (Oh, and by the way the 52 American hostages have been in Iran for 392 days now.)

I’m getting presents soon! (World War II is over).

I’m getting presents soon!  (They’ve discovered a vaccine for polio).

I’m getting presents soon!  (Americans landed on the Moon).

Christmas (and current events). 

Priorities.  Gotta have priorities.

**********

December 28, 1980 – 12 years old

My Mom told me about the birds-and-the-bees today.  Gross.

First she asked me if I knew anything and I said “No!”, but she got the wrong idea, because I already know everything there is to know.

Ohhhhhh dear GOD I remember that day.  The day every kid dreads.  The day every PARENT dreads. 

It is just a dreaded day overall. 

No one wants to hear it and no one wants to talk about it.  But there it was staring me in the blushing, queasy face.

"The Talk" never, ever, ever, EVER looks like this.

“The Talk” never, ever, ever, EVER looks like this.

I had just come home from a slumber party at a friend’s house, and I swear to God I just knew it was going to happen that day.  I walked into the house and my sister and Dad were suspiciously absent. 

My Mom was sitting in the den doing some cross-stitching or something (maybe subconsciously of something phallic – I don’t know – just to work herself up to it) and I knew it was coming.  It was a coordinated attack.

I tried to sneak past her but she said “Hey, come here.  Let’s talk.

I froze, my tongue stuck out of my mouth in a dry heave and my eyes rolled up past my eyebrows and into the back of my brain. 

In the name of all that was Holy, what more could she teach me that the after school special-esque/Tampax-sponsored menstruation movies they show you in 6th grade PLUS the movie “Sooner or Later” with Rex Smith hadn’t already taught me??

Nothin’.  That’s what.  Nothin’!

Yes, folks. He was 17. She was 13. 1-3.  What the WHAT? I was never much into blondes. But he did make me want to take guitar lessons from a babe-a-licious, kind of androgynous, man/boy.

My Mom did a fine job in the end.  She really did.  She’s the best.

Even so, through no fault of her own, I have a vague recollection of blacking-out after hearing each of these words pass my Mother’s lips: 

  • sperm
  • excitement
  • ejaculate…and
  • lovemaking

**********

September 2, 1980 – 12 years old

Well I’m in Junior High now.  7th grade.  A lot happened over the summer.  After John, I liked Jim.  What happened was I told this one girl that I liked Jim but I shouldn’t have because she has the biggest mouth in town.  So she told her brother Dave and Dave used to be Jim’s best friend so of course he told Jim I liked him.

“…Take it, MacDonald…”

**********

July, 1981 – 13 Years old

Finally I’m a teenager!  I can’t believe it!  What a great day.  I got my own room, a clock radio, a gold necklace, a cake and then dinner!  I think I like my room best of all though.  Now I have all the privacy I want.

1.  Apparently I felt it was very nice and super-special that my parents fed me on my 13th birthday. I don’t remember food being doled out as a special treat reserved only for landmark days, but perhaps I don’t remember because of the memory loss induced by severe malnutrition during the other 364 days of the year.

2.  It seems that I was actually trying to decide on this day which was the more awesome gift:  a clock radio OR my own bedroom (in which I no longer had to sleep with my little sister).  Hmmmm.  Choices, choices.

That clock radio was awesome, though.  It was digital.  And the numbers were blue. 

And as bright as the face of the Sun. 

But not so much this kind of sun…

As this kind of sun.

It took me three weeks to figure out how to lessen the supernova brightness on that stupid-ass clock.

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September 2, 1981 – 13 years old

8th grade is pretty hard.  And don’t think I’m feeling sorry for myself.  (Even though I am).

I couldn’t fool myself or keep a parenthetical secret from myself.  I was my own worst best-friend.

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August 26, 1981 – 13 years old

I am starting to gain a little weight.  I usually weigh about 106 lbs, but yesterday I weighed 110.  Today I exercised though and by 10 pm I weighed 106 lbs again.

I am highly skeptical of this entry.  My idea of exercising at that time was doing some cutting-edge leg lifts a-la those soft-core porn (I’m sorry…I meant legitimate work-out videos) they used to air on Showtime; the ones where the women were all either intertwined with each other and licking their lips and stuff, or very creepily into…themselves.

So unless I was sweating it out in the wrestling sauna at the old high school, sigh, I did not drop four pounds in eight hours. 

110 pounds.  Egad.  I kissed that bitch goodbye a long time ago.

Alright, I’m including this one just, cuz.  Seriously.  Come on.  (Skip to about 1:08).  Yessss.  So very, very aerobic.


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February 28, 1985 – 16 years old

My sister and I have been planning for a while to get my mom a message recorder.  The cheapest ones we’ve seen are like $70.  We always plan on getting big things for presents and then we end up with no money, and people get no gifts and everyone is sad.

How about a nice scented candle?  Maybe some earrings?  A homemade, moist and delicious Duncan-Hines cake from a box?  No way.  She birthed us and it was either the moon or nothing for my Mother. 

A 30 lb answering machine costing a week’s pay from me and a month’s allowance from my sister – or nothing. 

Better to make her and everyone else we knew sad on their birthdays with no gifts at all than to get them something shitty and cheap and yet personally thoughtful. 

THAT’S how much my sister and I loved my mother and the people around us.  That’s how we rolled.

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March 12, 1985 – 16 years old

Nothing much happened today. Unless you want to count the fact that he smiled at me.

I remember that day.  That was a great day.

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March 13, 1985 – 16 years old

Last week went great, this week is terrible.  I’ll probably fail my chem test tomorrow.  Oh well.  Life goes on.

Sure.  Yeah.  Life goes on.  Who cares.  So what.  I could see the bigger picture.  Wise beyond my years, knowing success or failure was in my control and ready to accept the blame if failure should come to pass.  Ho hum.  Life goes on.

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March 14, 1985 – 16 years old

I did fail my chem test!  Shit.  I have no time to study, or do ANYTHING, or see my friends because of this stupid play I’m in!

See, where I went to high school they physically forced you to act in these plays that sucked up all of your study time and energy and made you chronically unavailable to your family, friends and boyfriends. 

Way to man-up, Blamey Blamerson.

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July, 1985 – 17 years old

Well I’m 17 today.  It’s the first time I’ve been home for my birthday in a long time.  I went downtown with some friends (which my parents didn’t like to begin with) and then I came home 45 minutes late so of course they were PISSED.  They told me I only care about myself and that I screw around and keep pushing and pushing them.  They were over-the-top mad.  So ridiculous.  Me and my parents are beyond hope.

I had forgotten how awful my parents were to me.  I should have gone through the emancipation process as I had planned shortly after turning 15.  

Were they dumb?  Didn’t they remember no kid had cell phones then (it was 1980freaking5…hello??)  and that a teenage girl should be allowed a minimum of an hour grace period on her birthday curfew even with no notification of any kind that the grace period will be enacted? 

On the drive home via Westbound I-55 I remember very distinctly looking at the city from the passenger side and thinking just how beautiful it was and what a great time I’d had. 

And then it occurred to me just how fucking dead I was going to be when I got home. 

Eh.  Yin and Yang, my friends…Yin and Yang.


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