Sunday, December 31, 2006
The news has been full these last few weeks, but I'm so .. over politics that I can't bring myself to write about that. Okay, one thing...I'm really bothered that Saddam's execution was the lead news story yesterday morning, while Gerald Ford was #2. Shouldn't the death of OUR (former) president have been #1?
I'm sad about James Brown. I can't say I was a life-long fan or even know his music beyond the ones everyone knows...but that man had color..and spunk..and I'm sad he's gone.
My mom told me some things over her Christmas visit; she told me her "last expenses" were paid for, her living will was updated, and that she wasn't going to be sad anymore. My mom isn't unwell. She's 74, walks about 4 miles/day, and keeps up with my sisters kids with no problem. The sad part, that's about my brother, her oldest son, on January 5th he will have been dead for 3 years. While the family is healing, we still can't sit down at a table together without feeling his absence like a knife between our ribs. It's just too hard without him. I spoke to him last on New Years Eve 2003, we wished each other a happy new year, and exchanged I love yous. Five days later I was returning a phone call to the Fairfax County Police Department with a sick feeling in my stomach..just knowing this couldn't be good. I don't know if she'll pull it off, the not being sad thing. I can't imagine how she feels losing him, really can't even come close to it. For me, the sadness has been slow to go, but there are days when it's with me..like another person riding in the car with me and no matter how I try, I can't drop it off.
My friend Staci, who's a major source of inspiration (and laughter) for me, said her new years goal was "to live life hard" and I know just what she means. She'd argue the point with me, but this woman, she's fearless. I'll be spending the first weekend of the shiny new year with her and another friend (who will very possibly get us arrested or at least in a fistfight), learning to snowboard. I'm hoping along with some memories I take home some of Staci's fearlessness and zest for living in my duffel bag. She'll share, I know it.
So, it looks like I've got some work to do in the coming year. Maybe tonight, in preparation, I should just get some damn sleep.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
For those who read along that don't know the deal, here's a recap.. Wordsmiths posted a picture (below) and wrote the first paragraph of the story. Our task was to pick up the story and run with it, for another sad little 500 words. (FYI, sad and little were not part of the description - that's all me).
I dropped the box back into the packaging and headed for the shower. As my head began to clear I reconsidered the mysterious gift. Unusual yes, but not so unusual that it couldn’t have been purchased at any one of the dozens of New Orleans shops and stores found all over the french quarter. I’d start with the phone book.
More than two dozen phone calls and an hour and a half later I hit pay dirt. A young shop employee remembered a similar box being in the shop a week or more ago, but nothing more. The shop owner would be in later and should be able to give me the information I wanted.
I impatiently passed the afternoon, unable to finish anything I started. I kept finding myself staring at the box, running my fingers over it, tracing the outline of the dragon. Each time I touched the dragon, a warm, tingling sensation traveled through my fingers and up my arm, not uncomfortable but unsettling. I closed my eyes but still saw the red dragon, and then I heard screaming, and smelled blood, thick and fresh, and suddenly I was cold and very afraid. Dizzy, nauseous and a little out of breath, I jerked my hand back. I didn’t touch the box again the rest of the afternoon.
A bell announced my arrival into the patchouli scented shop. I walked around amazed at the cluttered shelves and tables stuffed and stacked with books, ornaments, figurines, dolls, not an inch of wasted space.
The voice came from the back of the store,
“So, you’ve come about the box.”
The man attached to the voice was as ordinary as cardboard. He was smoking a cigar and smiling, maybe laughing.
“Well, I was hoping you could tell me who sent it to me, it’s beautiful but I can’t open it and don’t really have any use for such a thing, but I should say thank you to the person who sent it and….” I trailed off, aware I was rambling wildly. This man made me uneasy.
“I sent it to you” he said, smiled, took another long drag of his cigar, exhaled, “and you can open it, in fact, you are the only one left who can.”
“Only one?” I asked confused, “what are you talking about, why me?”
Now he was laughing at me and not trying to hide it.
“You can open it, my dear, because you are his only surviving descendant”
Still confused, I dared not speak.
“The question is not can you open it, but will you?”
Saturday, December 23, 2006
How am I feeling today?
Like a Stone/Audioslave
Will I get far in life?
Cold Hard Bitch/Jet
How do my friends see me?
Just like Heave/Cure
Where will I get married?
Rollin.. Urban Assault Vehicle/Limp Bizkit
Quick, someone witty interpret this for me..
What is my best friends theme song?
What is the story of my life?
Wish you Were Here/Pink Floyd
again, oddly appropriate.
What is/was high school like?
Drop Dead Legs/Van Halen
How can I get ahead in life?
Dried Up, Tied Up and Dead to the World/Marilyn Manson
I'm not sure, but I think my IPOD just told me to go on a killing spree..
What is the best thing about me?
heh. funny. that.
How is today going to be?
Pretty Fly (for a white guy) /The Offspring
What's in store for this weekend?
Dance with the Devil/Breaking Benjamin
oh..good.. something totally different.
What song describes my parents?
What song describes my grandparents?
Just Like You/Three Days Grace
How is my life going?
What song will play at my funeral?
No Sleep Til Brooklyn/The Beastie Boys
So, does this mean Hell is in Brooklyn?
How does the world see me?
Jump Around/House of Pain.
Will I have a happy life?
Um, yeah, there's a surprise.
What do my friends really think of me?
Do people secretly lust after me?
Say Goodbye/Theory of a Deadman
How can I make myself happy?
Tuff Enuff/The Fabulous Thunderbirds
What should I do with my life?
Eye of the Tiger/Survivor
Will I ever have children?
What is some good advice for me?
How will I be remembered?
Whiskey in the Jar/Metallica
Apparently as a whiskey-swilling lush.
What do I think my current theme song is?
Mic Check/Rage Against the Machine
What type of men/women do you like?
True that. You must be able to SPEAK. Oh, and spelling totally counts.
What does your man/woman love about you?
The Beautiful People/Marilyn Manson
shut up. I'm totally going to wait til you stop laughing.
What song do you secretly love?
Tainted Love/Marilyn Manson
I'm totally busted.
What do you want to do tomorrow?
Love Her Madly/The Doors
Now that is a surprise. Apparently I'm playing for the wrong team.
Thanks Biff, for the mindless entertainment. I needed that. Besides, it's way better than doing dishes. blerg.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Last Thanksgiving one of my sisters and I traveled to his my dad’s newly built home in Omaha for the holiday. Anytime a sibling offers to make this trip with me I jump on it. As I said, I love him, but being the only ‘new’ thing to focus on is far too much for me. I want some dispersion of all that crazy talk that’s going to happen. This particular sister is a great one to take this trip with because she’s the sibling that has always managed to maintain a peace with him that the rest of us have struggled with throughout our relationship with him. She’s also really funny, especially after a glass or two of wine, which, make no mistake, is another necessary ingredient in a successful trip to Omaha.
In the bathroom off the kitchen my dad has a plaque that says “I wasn’t born in Nebraska, but I got here as soon as I could”. So, normal is at a premium in these parts.
I started Thanksgiving day by going out for a run. I admit, I get a kick out of my dad shaking his head at me over his morning coffee cup and paper as I head out the front door, he thinks runnings proper place is boot camp and can't figure out why someone would willingly do it. When I run in Omaha, I’m amazed by the wind – it’s just different there, I can totally buy a windstorm that picks up a house ala Dorothy style. My dad shakes his head at me over this too, and usually says something like “we are in the goddamn plain states, what did you expect?” Ah, the cheery loving bosom of family.
After dinner, sister, step mom and myself clean up, do some dishes and settle around the kitchen table with a bottle of wine. Dad follows the American tradition of falling asleep on the couch. Upon awaking, my dad decides it’s time for sister and I to learn some things. He comes into the kitchen pours himself a glass of wine and plunks two hand guns down on the kitchen table. Try not to be alarmed at the alcohol/handgun combination. A lecture in how my sister and I as single women who live alone follows. We apparently should ARM OURSELVES, and if the GD airlines weren’t run by Nazis he’d give us these two pistols to take home. This lecture ends with him saying if our homes were invaded by PUNK BASTARDS who think IT’S THEIR RIGHT TO TAKE WHAT YOU’VE EARNED we should barricade ourselves in a bathroom and when they (the punk bastards) get to the door START SHOOTING. He goes on to tell us how prepared he is to defend his home against home invasion. Apparently, my father has enough guns in his home to arm a small country. Some are secured in a 300 pound guns safe in the basement, the rest are hidden all over the home.. just waiting for PUNK BASTARDS to show up and challenge my 75 year old father. Trust me, these PUNK BASTARDS will be very sorry if they stumble into my Dads quiet suburban, and yes, heavily armed, home.
As I recall my sister and I said things like “Yeah!” “Punks!” and “Great idea, dad”. Lecture finished, daughters impressed, Dad went back to his spot on the couch and commenced cussing at the football game.
The next day, my step mom had to run some food over to a member of her church. Apparently the wife of this family had had a liver transplant and the church had organized meal delivery for them. She tells me I should come, apparently these people spend a fair amount of time rescuing dogs and have quite a pack. Eager to get out of the house and with the lure of paw pads and wagging tails, I was in. In the end we all piled into my dads truck and headed out, fried chicken and sides with sister and I on the back seat. As we head down one rural mid-western road, my dad hits the brakes and shouts “Look Girls, there’s a dead deer!” Now, I admit to looking at dead animals when I pass, but not with this level of excitement. Sister and I exchanged a puzzled glance and made nice affirmative noises. Dad seems appeased, but then says “We’ll have to stop and look at that when we come back”. More puzzled looks pass between sister and I.
As promised on the return trip, Dad pulls off the road at the scene of the crime and insists we all get out and check out the dead deer. Sister and are completely flummoxed, and I at least am somewhat alarmed. We climb out of the car and watch as our father lifts the head of the deer by the antlers, clucks disapprovingly, and says “Yeah, he was a big buck”. Dad puts the head down and we all walk back to the truck. If my sister and I hadn’t had years of practice laughing silently we would never been able to make it back to the car without explaining to our father what was so damn funny. I’m not sure we even knew.
At home later that winter and shopping, I found a nifty wine opener that had all these exclamation points following the words "ergonomic" and "easy use" so I picked a couple up. My step mother suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and I remembered how she struggled with the one they had when I was there. I got a nice phone call from my step mom thanking me and telling me how much she liked it. Winna! Winna! Chicken dinna!
This past spring I tried to call my dear old dad on his birthday, and couldn’t reach him. He’s not usually difficult to track down so I called my sisters and asked if they had spoken to him. My oldest sister says she has, and everything is okay now, but the house was struck by lightning the night before and burned to the ground. He and my step mom were able to get the dogs, some family jewelry and THE CORKSCREW out before losing everything else. That’s right. They saved the corkscrew. The house and all of the contents are ashes, but the corkscrew made it.
We all need priorities people.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
As in, I think I need to do the equivalent of breaking up with her.
She was the first person I met when I moved to NC that I actually wanted to hang out with outside of work. As I suspected we did have some really good times and shared some laughs. I got to tour Mayberry with her.
Early on I saw the warning signs but I held out hope that it wasn't really going to be a problem.
Turns out it is a problem.
I shouldn't be surprised and I definitely shouldn't be hurt. But here I am, both of those things.
It occurs to me that I can't even whip out the 'let's be friends' stand-by because, well, she's turned out to be rather bad at that, which is why I need to break up with her in the first place.
It also occurs to me that I've never done this with a girlfriend before. I've lost touch with people, drifted apart from people, physically moved away from friends I then didn't keep in touch with..but never have I felt the need to say to a girlfriend 'hey this didn't work out..good luck'
I don't even think I know how to do this. I'd almost like to hope that I don't have to, that I can just not do anything, but I know she's going to call tomorrow and behave as though everything is just fine. I can even tell you what time she'll call me.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Tonight I'm thinking about the men I've dated this year. Now, here's an area that could use a big overhaul. In no particular order here's how DATE '06 went.
1. The engineer-guy. At dinner before our meal was served, he went into a diatribe about the chemical difference between equal, sweet-n-low and splenda. Shut.Up. No, Really,Shut.UP. A full hour later, I've eaten my dinner and spent the last 10 minutes trying to decide how to pretend I have food poisoning. Before I could feign GI distress, he decided that being I'm a 'dog person' I might be more interested in how dog food is manufactured. Turns out he was wrong. Dog food is not any more interesting than artifical sweetners, hard to imagine I know, but true.
2. The hit-man. I liked this guy, he was more than a little rough around the edges, but I liked him. He made me laugh - a lot. Not a manufacturing or chemical compound discussion in site.
On our third date, after dinner we went back to his house and proceeded to get hammered. I remember putting a movie in the DVD, but have no idea what it was. He then proceeds to tell me that his real job is a hit-man for the Mafia. The other job is just a cover. He may need to "take off" at the drop of a hat, or eventually he made need to "make a run for the border" and "disappear completely". I remember thinking that I needed to make my own "run for the border" immediately, however I had ingested a LARGE amount of alcohol and knew driving would be a very bad idea. Not to mention, if what he was saying was not just some weird delusion, he might whack me if he knew what I was thinking. So, being the resourceful girl I am, I kept feeding him drinks while I switched to water. He passed out. I sobered up and got the hell out of there. Take the cannoli. Leave the gun.
3. The cowboy.This one started off with a bang (Getcher mind outta the gutter) we really hit it off. Then came the date where he asked me back to his place..and I went. At the door I got the obligatory bachelor "my place is a mess" comment. I remember laughing it off. I think it was the smell that made me stop laughing. "Mess" to me, means assorted mail, newspapers, books etc., carelessly tossed around, a stray shoe on the dining room table, some dirty dishes in the sink, dusty furniture, floors that need vacuuming . This is what Merriam-Webster would define as early american crack house. Fast-food bags everywhere (and possibly, not completely empty, and partially accounting for the smell) a dining room table ( I think) so covered in dirty dishes, dirty clothes (again, juding by the smell) that I am still not sure there was a table, I just refuse to believe ANYone could have that much foul smelling laundry and distinctly furry flatware. The couch I was politely offered a seat on, leaking sofa cushion stuffing and covered in stains of I don't want to know of what kind. I was speechless. The last straw was the roach that scurried across the coffee table that the cowboy gallantly squished with his sock-clad foot that sent me out the door, my last thought that I didn't want to know what the bathrooms in this place looked like. Ew.
4.The army guy. I liked this one too. He was a little on the quiet side, but sometimes I'm just in the mood for a guy that knows how to shut up. We went horse back riding, and tossed back a few beers together. His weird schedule kept us from seeing much of each other, but when we did get together, it was good. I told a girlfriend that was visiting during the period I was dating this one that I felt bad that I couldn't get more excited about him. There wasn't a single thing wrong with him, I just didnt' get the butterfly thing us girls get. I stuck it out until after being "missing" (his words not mine) for like 18 hours, he sent me a creepy, freaky, stalker-in-the-making email written in the third person asking if after two dates, didn't I think I should be checking in with him? As Tif said "Jason couldn't find Cravey; and Jason was sad".. Ew. Crreeepy.
5.The boxer. Very cool guy, very sexy. Impossible to keep up with. Between his constant flying back and forth to New York to see family and his on again off again work schedule. We just couldn't connect. That and his preferred method of communication was email. So we'd make tentative plans for friday night and then he'd be unreachable, until Saturday morning when I'd get an email "how about tonight" and usually some form of accusation that I was toying with him and not really interested in him... Whatever. Next.
6.The radio guy. Wow. Sooo cute. So Funny. Sooooo high-maintenance. I now know what men are complaining about - what a pain in the ass. This guy would call me every night and talk to me for hours. If he couldn't reach me he'd leave messages, he'd page me, he'd email me. I was exhausted two weeks in. Fuggedaboudit.
7. The Aussie. I admit it, I totally fell for the accent. Perhaps this is a cautionary tale for meeting men online. When the calls start rolling in 6, 7, 8 times a day and before your second date he's talking about how he's going to spend three nights a week with you--the warning signs aren't just showing they are bashing you in the freakin' head.
Here's a glass raised to better things in '07.
Seriously, how much worse can it get.
On second thought, do not answer that.
Wednesday, December 6, 2006
The first time for the usual, ' I just moved to the state and need to transfer all my crap' visit.
At that visit, I thought it interesting that all the men working at the NC DMV in Cary, were clones of each other, all older men and wearing these awful uniforms.. kind of a weird 1970's police officer/mailman combo, complete with skinny tie and black-backed name tag (last name only, of course).
So after being pulled over for exceeding the speed limit for the triskillionth time since becoming an NC resident, I and the nice Apex police-man discovered that sometime in the last few weeks I've lost my driver's license. Not in my wallet, not in my checkbook, not in my glove compartment, not anywhere in my car (although there is an un-opened yoplait yogurt under the passenger seat - oh joy) but alas, no driver's license. The nice Apex police man let me go (the first time that's happened since becoming an NC resident) as long as I presented my new driver's license within 48 hours.
My kindly supervisor let me leave at lunch yesterday to go to the DMV for a replacement - this time I went to a different office.
This visit, there were all women in the DMV, all in the same horrible uniforms, and all sporting sparkly blue eyeshadow and yes, WINGS..ala Heather Locklear in her "Sammy Jo" days on Dallas. Disturbing. What's happening? Is there some code in NC that the office must pick an 'era' and all employees must oblige and style hair and make up to fit that era? Do they leave the office each day and re-enter 2006? Is there some sort of shower-in/shower-out policy like in a clean lab? It can't be that these women all just happen to prefer this style and all work together can it? I am concerned.
I really shouldn't complain. I was in and out in under 30 minutes the proud owner of a nice, shiny new NC driver's license, horrible picture and all.
Sunday, December 3, 2006
In the mail, for my birthday, a friend sent me a book, and although I'm nowhere near finished, the chapter I just read this afternoon resonated with me. The author(s) are talking about finding *your* people, your chosen family. As I mentioned earlier, I have a pretty big biological family and an even larger, chosen family. This fall I have been feeling particularly close to these chosen family members, defying the geographic challenges inherent with these friends. My connection to these people often surprises me, but it's so overwhelming that I cannot question it. There's a cliche, that I hate (does anyone like them?) but it keeps making random appearances in my life.
It is what it is. And so it is.
The book contends that you have to be on the lookout, because *your* people are hard to find. I don't agree.
These people seemed to simply fall into my life, occasionally, when I needed a friend, but not always. In retrospect, I hope that at least once, they were the ones in need. I hope I was just the right friend at just the right time. I can think of no other praise as good as this.
Perhaps I am just maudlin, this the day after the marking of my "annual continuation day" as Katie Robinson used to call it., after all I'm a respectable 20-17 now, isn't that old enough to be maudlin?
Easily, the first person and longest standing member is Lace.
Claudia and I worked together for a few years, and never once during that time saw each other outside of work. The day I resigned we exchanged phone numbers and became instantaneous members of each others chosen families. I spent every major holiday with Claudia, her husband and her house of cats, and eventually the dogs. I can remember her first Christmas with Bartleby as clearly as if it was yesterday. I remember the mothers day her family decided to hash out the sexuality of a certain family member -- with me right there. I suppose I should have been embarrassed, but I instead I just felt lucky, and loved. I used to look forward to my birthday just because I knew Claudia would cook me some fabulous Martha Stewart-esque dinner complete with a flaming dessert. She taught me how to cook, usually over the phone, there were many times I'd call her and give her a list of what I had in the cupboard and she'd direct me over the phone and Walla! Dinner! She taught me loads of other things, but by far, the biggest and best lesson was just how to be a better friend to others and to myself. I remember when she quit her secure-corporate job to start her own business, she told me she was going to "follow her bliss" - ten years later, her business is still a raving success. Apparently, there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Megan struts - she's got that kind of presence, she comes into a room and all eyes go to Megan. She's the friend you have that you can't figure out why someone like her is friends with someone like you. You know? She taught me to sing my name when running up hills got hard. Sometimes, when it really sucks, I sing her name. I think of Megan when things are hard, Megan, who cried when I ran across the finish line, who washed my tired and blistery feet in ice, who trusted me to care for Princess Myra. She's sharp and quick, and never fails to make me laugh even when you just can't imagine anything being funny. On the hottest day EVER while waiting for a baseball game to start, with screaming children on all sides, Megan will be the first to remind me that there is no crying in baseball.
Eileen and Red were friends first. I followed along and never looked back. Eileen is 10 times smarter than I could ever imagine being. She's like Einstein smart. She's a true 'Type A' personality, nothing she does is done slowly, or without the proper amount of planning, precautions, maps, a compass, a flashlight, a bag of handy-wipes and a bag of trail mix. In the event of a true threat of nuclear war, I'm moving to LA, this woman will dig us a tunnel, build us an underground dirt house, find the right amount of protein and carbohydrates (in non-exposed to the radiation bugs, of course) and in her spare time discover a cure for radiation poisoning for the rest of 'above ground people'. Yeah, she's that friend. I know in my heart if I ever need her, she'll move the Rocky Mountain Range to get to me.
The friend that sent me the book is Staci. I told her that I felt like she was the sister the universe forgot to give me. We found each other through running. We both share the illness that is defined as a love running. She's a bskillion times faster than I ever will be, but this is the girl I run with in my heart. She warns me that her positive attitude gets annoying after awhile. I think she balances my darkness. She challenges me to not settle for anything. On the day after my 20-17th birthday, I am going to take her up on that challenge. I may very well end up going ass over tea-kettle and landing with a mouthful of artificial snow, but I will not let her down.
I do not know how I've held on to these people over the years, or why they've held on to me. My life would not be as rich without them and I wouldn't give any one of them up without a fight. This kind of connection will not be defined by the completion of the human genome. It simply is what it is.