Friday, November 30, 2007

AWOL

Sometimes, you wish you had your own interweb.

I don't. It's part of my rent with my landlord, so, when his router dies, I find myself at the public library, doing all of my interweb stuff watching a clock because I only get 45 minutes of time and there is a line of people waiting to use the computer.

Hopefully, I'm back tomorrow....

Later, taters.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Trip, III


The snow was piled up higher than the car doors, higher than our hips...it was...deep.

Even Godmother and I knew what we needed to put on; chains. She had chains, something I didn't.

Snowchains are the devil's invention, horrid, loud clunky things that you attach to your front or rear tires, depending on the drive thingy of your car. We knew that much. That, however, was the extent of our knowledge. Cigarettes in hand, we pretended to read the directions while JL and Sherman sat in the warmth of the house and we huddled in the driveway, looking at the chains, at the tires, at the chains...

Finally, we had it figured out. She carefully rolled backwards over them and I hooked them on. We were ready. She loaded the trunk, I went to the bathroom again, child and dog packed in and we were off!

One thing was missing....an iota of common sense.

We drove west towards Boulder, to hit up the closest grocery store, liquor store and bank. The drifts were piled 10 feet high on the sides of the packed roads. We made good time, the chains clinking merrily on our tires, chatting away, pleased with our smart selves.

Albertson's parking lot was awash with waves of piled snow, we soared over them in the good ship Mustang, laughing hard, me giving a running commentary of our trip, JL chomping away on one of 10 packs of BubbleYum, the dog's nose pressed to his window on his side of the car, Godmother in her usual driving position of seat pushed all the way to the wheel, her mousefur coat (a purchase from a catalog, the coat bore a strong resemblance to the texture of mousefur, and in damp weather had a slightly rodent smell), sipping from her Pepsi can in the holder in the console between us. I had the big Tupperwear of homemade chocolate chip cookies at my feet, a few books, our many packages of cigarettes... we stocked up on goodies and schnapps--yes, we were good to go.

A news report said the roads to Denver were packed with cars... we'd spent a bit more time than we meant to at the store, and when we arrived at the bank, it was closed. No ATM's then, we had around $10 in cash between us, no time to go back to the store and get extra cash... making the decision to drive to the airport, we stopped only long enough for me to call my dad and tell him to call E and let her know we were hustling down to get her sacred daughter, whom she'd entrusted me to care for.

MM was E's pride and joy. She'd never traveled alone, she was cushioned, protected, cherished in ways I'd have sold a kidney for in my childhood. The only time she'd ever been abandoned was when the Great Ghost appeared during the Scarefest that summertime in Monroe, when G and I scattered with the rest, leaving her and D to fend for themselves. She'd been put on a plane and flown off to me, her older cousin, her only female cousin, to enjoy Thanksgiving.

She'd never been on her own before.

We sorta zipped down Hwy 36, to feed into I-25 to go to I-70.. oh, yes, we were happy campers. We smoked and gossiped and listened to the radio. We wondered what the loud clipping and clanking was from the chains, but, we knew they let us drive at 65mph on that snowpacked road, and we were happy!

I guess one of us should have rtfm at some point. I mean, fully read the fucking manual.

The traffic jam started 3 miles from the airport. Three stinking miles. Three. It took us three hours to go three miles. Of course, with the clarity of 20/20 hindsight, I should have walked it in, grabbed MM, and hoofed it back to a parked car. But, walk three miles? Where did I think I lived, New York City?? We stayed in the car, slowly starting to panic. JT read his comics, snapped his gum, I stealthily ate the cookies, and Godmother continued to sip on her Pepsi.

Knowing we couldn't afford the time nor the parking garage fees, she pulled up to the arrival gates, and I ran in, faced with 82,473 people. There, in front of me, was MM.

The gods were good.

We dashed back out, opened the trunk, and shoved her broken suitcase into the car, horns honking, people yelling... throwing ourselves into the Mustang and squealing out, the chains a happy tune to our careening car as it moved into the flow of traffic.

It was now 2P.

We drove a bit, found a payphone (remember those?) and called E, telling her all was well, she passed the word on to Dad ... who still expected us by 6P. It's a 4 hour drive... we had decided to not stop in Glenwood Springs...shame, really. We'd looked forward to that. But, we felt that hour or so would be better spent driving to make up for the silly traffic jam at the airport.

We glossed over the fact the entire Front Range had been slammed.

Godmother was the epitome of calm. She drove, refusing my offer to spell her in the task. We moved on the plowed, yet still piled with snow and packed with other cars, I-70. When we could, she moved her precious six month old car up to 60mph, otherwise, we crawled along. MM chatting away, JL talking to her, the dog sleeping, me eating cookies, Godmother sipping that Pepsi.

The roads continued to worsen. Going up towards Loveland Pass was horrific. We moved at a crawl, sliding even with our sturdy chains. I ate more and more, the kids grew silent as she and I continued to glance at each other.

MM hadn't brought any cash, only a check to give to my Dad for funds. We had enough money for gas, and that was it. Godmother and I live on the edge. The snacks were gone, and, like the Donner Party, we started to size each other up as the first meal for the group.

The dog huddled down under the coats to make himself a smaller target.

"I don't think those chains are working properly.", she said, when we slid for the gazillionth time. "I think we should stop and get them checked." as we careened down the west side of the Eisenhower Tunnel, a Ford tobaggon, barely missing other cars that had on chains and were in control.

We found a gas station that was still open at 10.00P.

To this day, when I pass this particular gas station, I let them know I think they are #1 in my book.

The 'attendant' had a look about him that said, "When my parents divorce, they will still be able to call each other sibling." He was playing with the air compression hose as, "Larry", the manager, directed us to the hoist.

"Chuck" (the names are changed because I've managed to block them from my memory) had Godmother pull the car onto the hoist. He never mentioned we should get out of the car. Never. Not once.

I won't even entertain the thought that neither of us, intelligent women in jobs that required us to think and wear suits and attend corporate meetings and where we made decisions that cost huge amounts of money that didn't belong to us ever said, "Gee, should we get out?"

Uuuuuuuuuuuuppppppppppppp we went. It was fun! It was exciting! We started to tip backwards!

"LEAN FORWARDS!!" I said in a calm voice. If you believe I was calm, there is that beach front property in Utah I have for sale.

All of us quietly leaned forwards including the dog. Imagine, if you will, a dark blue Mustang, on a hoist, in a cold garage stall in Dillon, Colorado... inside, two women, two kids and a dog... all leaning forward... beneath it, someone who should have been playing a banjo in the film, Deliverance.

"Well, looky here, here's your problem... you didn't put on the rubber holders for the chains!", he called out.

Godmother slowly opened her electric window, still leaning forward...and, no, I'm not kidding here. "What rubber holders?"

"Ayuck.. M'am, you must be funning me. The ones that keep it all tight against the tires, m'am. I'll fix them for you."

R.T.F.M.

Inside the car, Godmother said, "Pass the cookies."

"Ahh, there are no cookies."

"You made cookies, I smelled them last night. I want one of your fucking cookies."

I brushed the last of the crumbs, and with the solemness of Peter to the soldiers at the crack of dawn, denied their existence. At the same time, I shoved another well chewed piece of JL's BubbleYum into the, what I thought was by now, empty Pepsi can.

Godmother sipped and growled, "And, what the fuck is in my schnapps??"

Yes, we'd been driving with bad chains, and a woman drinking schnapps. No wonder she'd not been touched by the drama that had driven me to eat three dozen chocolate chip cookies. Cookies that now placed me at the top of the 'eat her first' list.

Chuck lowered us down, leered in at Godmother, and didn't charge us... in fact, he quickly waved us onto the highway.... later, we found out why.

"What a nice man!" MM said. MM is one of the happiest people I know. I don't know how we share DNA.

JL started to snooze. We carried on, still driving at whatever top speed we could reach, the roads dry now, chains clicking away, cigarette smoke again carrying words to the back seat that held two children. A bit like the road trips of my youth, only this was a car with laughter and jokes and tales of Godmother growing up on a farm, going to a one room schoolhouse, her way of dealing with the tragedy in her life makes her a keeper in anyone who has the great good fortune to have her in theirs.

11P. Clear skies. Clear roads, at long last. We top Vail pass, and see that valley below us. Once the summer pastures of sheep ranchers, now, over priced homes of the rich and famous sprawl about. We are on the downhill side, the storm is behind us, never having reached this far. Another three hours and we should be there.

I see something go flying by us down the hill, flashing in the full moon just as the car starts to make an odd sound.

"Godmother, you have a flat."

"No, I don't."

"Yes, you do, because that was the hubcap shooting ahead of us on the road."

The poor, dear car jerks then, hopping over to the side of the road, jerking in her hands. We pull over in the -15F weather, crisp, freezing weather that lulls you into thinking it is much warmer.

We have coats in the car, everything else is in the trunk...

I open the trunk, piled with MM's loose clothing, our cases, her skiis... I open it, and lose my held in temper.

Clothes fly, cases, skiis.... I am yelling into the dark night, "ARRRRRRUUUUUUUUUUUGH!!! FUCK ME DEAD!!!!! BUGGER ME BACKWARDS!!!! JESUS. MARY. JOSEPH AND ALL THE SAINTS IN IRELAND!!!!!" Yes, I covered all my bases.

It got worse...how? The trunk light was broken by a shoved in ski. I take a lighter, looking for the spare, pulling it out. Okay... jack. Jack... jack... there is no jack.


I also couldn't find gloves or scarves after my fit... I have socks on my hands and long underwear wrapped around my neck in the cold.

Rapping on the driver's window. "Godmother? Where is the jack?"

"Oh, I took it out. The skiis wouldn't fit." She has this smile. You can't kill her.... you want to, but, you can't.

I started to flag down a car... it's 11P. I've got socks and long underwear on... who is crazy enough to stop?

A guy who has been smoking some major weed, that's who. He picks me up to take me to the nearest exit.. when I climb in, JL takes down his plate number, in case I don't return. This is a smart child.

Stoner and I return, rented jack in hand, to the Mustang where my posse awaited us to fix the tire.

Now, how I ended up being 'Dad', I'll never know, but, Dad I was, and Dad I continued to be, socks and long underwear in place, albeit on the outside of my clothing.


Stoner placed his car so the headlights shone on the driver's side of the car, allowing us to see the flat, and what had to be done. He allowed his slight...totally high male chromosomes to take the jack and place it under the back bumper in order to raise it to change the flat tire. Rickety--Rickety--Rickety He worked that pump handle hard to lift the car up and get us on our way.


"WAIT!", my voice screeched though the night air. I grabbed his arm stopping the manly process of changing our flat tire.


"Dude," he said, falling into my Dad trap, "what's the problem?"

"Um, the bumper is coming off." I pointed, showing how the heavy duty jack was merrily pulling the bumper up and off the car, leaving the car itself still in place on the ground.


We both surveyed the damage and jointly said, "Fuck."


Moving the 47 lb jack to the side of the car, we carefully placed it and started to jack up the car... it moved up and the side of the car started to cave in.

Yeah, well, at least it moved up.


As I'm standing there, holding the lug nuts for Stoner, the engine starts up.... the exhaust blowing into our faces. "What the fuck?" said Stoner, glaring at the exhaust pipe.

"I'll go check, hang in there." I replied, noticing he really didn't mind the exhaust in the least. I moved towards the driver's window and knocked politely. Godmother lowered it two inches exactly, blowing a plume of cigarette smoke out as she did.


"Yes?" she said, smiling that smile.


"Um, Godmother... did you notice we're back there, near the exhaust pipe?"


"Well, yes. But, JL is cold, you see, and he wanted the car on." This made complete sense to her.


"Tire. Driver's side. Exhaust pipe. Our side." I was speaking slowly, one word at a time.


"Ah huh. Well, I was smoking, and I had to air out the car, and then he got cold."


"Um, I'm out here in a FUCKING PAIR OF SOCKS AND LONG UNDERWEAR WRAPPED ON MY HEAD AND YOUR FUCKING CAR CAME ON IN MY FUCKING FACE WHILE I'M CHANGING YOUR FUCKING TIRE!!!! TURN! OFF!! THE!!! CAR!!!!"


"Well, okay."


The car shut off, and we finished the job, throwing the tire that has an embedded tire chain in the back side of the tire (thanks, Chuck!)in the trunk, piling in the skis, the luggage, the loose clothing, all of it on top. Stoner left, leaving me to remember we had the chains on one tire. They had to come off.


I struggled to remove the little rubber thing put on by Chuck, then managed to get most of the chain off.


Most of it... not all of the it.


We had to then drive to the exit to return the 47lb jack, and see if they'd remove the chain... which was attached to the axle, and thus whipping across the highway like some Road Warrior weapon, taking out a Volkswagen and two Harley's as they tried to pass us.


The nice man at the gas station undid the wrapped around chain and didn't chide us, letting us go, seeing the pain in our eyes and the anguish in my face, patting us on the back, not charging us for the damage to his jack.


We arrived at my dad's at 3AM, shattered, tired, wanting nothing more than a drink and a warm bed. Dad provided us with both.


The rest of the weekend went swimmingly, my best friend and my father bonded, becoming life long friends, that Dad loved dearly until his death two years ago today. MM had a great time skiing with Godmother, JL found a Marine to tell him about life in my Dad, all of us had a great time that weekend.


The trip home was exciting in a lesser sense.... we left and had to go back... cars were upside down from the inch of black ice on the road. We made green chili and spent another day in Grand Junction to the thrill of JL who basked in the attention of his hero and the anger of our boss who had two of her three marketing people gone. We drove home Monday, slowly, carefully, using our the last of our cash to fill the tank and finally arriving in our beloved Boulder, where we stalked though the aisles of Albertsons, eating food from the cans (we had a thing for kippers) moaning in joy.

We drove the back roads home, chattering away in the darkened interior of the battered Mustang, grateful to be almost in our comfy home, a new Duralog ready to be burned... and Godmother remarked we were lucky to not have had an accident.


"Well," I said, "You know most accidents occur within five miles of your home."


With this, we spun out and into a ditch.


I'm not a good person to have in your car, I guess... and should change my name to Cassandra. Luck was still with us, Luck with a broken leg, perhaps, and a bad case of leprosy, but, luck nonetheless... and a guy with a big 4x4 stopped by and pulled us out.


The wrong way.


The Mustang drove at an odd angle on the last two miles home, battered, bruised, the wheelwheels eaten up by the abusive chains, the entire back panel bent in from the industrial jack, the rear bumper lifted up and away from the frame of the car, missing a custom hubcap. The front end was now totally out of alignment. I'd gained ten pounds from the chocolate chip cookies, and Godmother gained a liking for sweetened schnapps. JL grew to hate car trips, but, not for the same reason I did.


We slid into the garage, adding a final scrape on the passenger side, opening the house door to the sound of the phone ringing. Godmother scrambled to answer it, sure it was Godfather, checking to see if we'd finally arrived home.


It was L, a friend, doing just that, and Godmother settled into a chair, these horrible chairs on pedestals, that were in the kitchen... a kitchen that has since been redone, but back then was wallpapered in silver and bright green and yellow.


Not a place to be when you were hung over, I assure you.

She sat down, lit up, and proceeded to tell L of the trip, getting into the groove, warming up to the tale, settling into the story.... when I sat down, weary of it all....

....and my chair broke, throwing me onto the floor.


It was a tale to remember. The best of times, the worst of times. A story I've told a zillion times...and never embellished. How can you possibly embellish this story?




This was for Godmother, whom I'll see in a week... her husband, Godfather... two friends who have always been there, for the last (mumble a number of years here) and, for my Dad... who died two years ago today.


Miss you Daddy. Every day.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Trip, II





It was a snowstorm people still talk about.

We went to bed to the sound of swirling winds, slamming snow, and that certain comfort of knowing you are safe and warm under a down blanket with a furnace roaring away.

We awoke to a full on blizzard, complete with eerie silence, snowplows tearing down the highways, drifts five feet deep against the house, and work canceled.

Being the women we were, however, we scoffed at snowshovels. We sneered at salt. We snickered at the mere idea of going into work, even if the location we worked at was no more than a mile away from our cozy home with the pretend firelogs snapping merrily in the fireplace. Why burn real wood when we had DuraFlame?

The snow finally let up a bit while dropping close to three feet of the white stuff on our area alone. We couldn't go to work, but, we could trudge to the local store, where we stocked up on the necessities; cigarettes, Pepsi, popcorn and some actual food for JL.

I placed a call to my father's sister, E, to see if my cousin, MM, would still be flying in to visit. Stapleton, the forerunner to DIA, planned on being up and functional long before her flight was to arrive the next day, Wednesday, one of the busiest travel days of the year...so, yes, all was a go.

Sludging back, cigarettes going, we discussed our course of action. We'd go into Boulder and get chains (ohhhhh!! there's a good idea!) and some food at the real food market, go to the bank for cash (this is an important part of the story) do one or two other errands, drive to Denver, pick up MM, who was 15 and had never traveled before, then head out to Grand Junction. If we left our house by 10, we'd easily make her arrival time of 11.30AM, we'd saunter in, pick her up at the gate, and we'd make Grand Junction by oh, 5P at the very, very latest...7P if we let JL and MM take a fast swim in the hot springs pool in Glenwood Springs.

I don't know what we were smoking.

Somehow, the winds whistling around us were ignored. The still impressive flurries that settled into huge mounds of snow didn't seem to make a dent in our travel plans or cheery holiday manner. Scary to think a few years later, I would be the manager of a corporate travel agency, and after that, Mr. Neebes would put me in charge of a BigName's travel accommodation's for ACTF, a story that one day may be told....or not. We'll just say when that happened, I wasn't impressed by anyone's name, although the plans came off without a hitch.

Back to the story.

Mounds of snow. Piles. Hills. Children swooping on sleds. My dog, Sherman, so named because he wasn't ugly enough to be called Grant, chased after JL, both of them burrowing in snow caves and tunnels.

Sherman was a mutt, a wonderful, amazing dog that I still miss to this day. Part terrier, part traveling man, he was, without a doubt, the smartest dog I've ever known... everyone who ever met him wanted him. Even the Godmother, and she didn't like dogs. He was well behaved, perfectly housebroken, he understood everything you said. When he died, I was bereft, and it wasn't until the Terrier that I really loved a dog like that again. While they frolicked, she and I decided it would be best if she let her new boyfriend, the once and future Godfather, know of our travel plans.

He, wonderful man that he is, laughed so hard at hearing we were going to drive to Grand Junction over not one, but a number of high mountain passes, he almost couldn't breathe.

"Oh, sweetie," he said, in his very, very proper WASP accent, since the Godfather's family goes back to those people who first walked off the Mayflower, "Sweetie, are you two crazy?".

Well, yes, but, we don't like to be reminded. We huffed a bit, and said it was what we promised to do. My father had purchased a turkey, ffs.

"He'll understand if you don't go over. You three girls come over here with JL and Sherman. We'll have a great holiday here."

Now, understand, Godfather has silver and crystal and furniture that has been handed down for 400 years. He gave amazing parties. His house was in the center of Boulder, it was lush, it was comfy, he was, and is, a dear, dear man.

Thing is, he called us... 'girls'. Sometimes, he slips.

"No, we'll be fine."

Oh, how we hoist ourselves on pride!

The only positive thing about not going to his house is, we have this tale we still tell.

The next morning broke clear and sunny, bright on the mounds and mounds and mounds and moun... you get the idea. Snow as far as the eye can see. The roads were plowed clear since the machines hadn't stopped for 24 hours. Our neighbors sidewalks were clear, as they hadn't stopped shoveling or salting. We were... well, we had one area stomped and shoveled enough to back a car out.

Now, both Godmother and I had each purchased a new car at the same time, in fact, that is kind of how we started talking to each other... our new blue cars (I told you she had to have whatever I had) were parked next to each other in the parking lot. Mine was your average car. Hers, oh, hers was a souped up Mustang. Sleek. Upgrades galore. Beautiful. (again, remember these details)

We went into the garage on that Wednesday, to pack my car, a basic but cute Datsun to drive over on our road trip.

As stated in prior posts, I hate road trips. I hate them with the passion of a thousand suns, being forced into them as a child, sitting in the back seat with the GoldenChild, while my parents honed their skills as combatants in the front, never knowing when the battle would spill over onto me, I lived in fear of those times, and trips taken in later years with my ex did nothing to improve my feelings about enclosed spaces and internal combustion engines.

I sucked it up, figuring I was going to be with my best friend, her son, a cousin I love and my dog. What could go wrong?

A flat tire.

I had a flat. And, we had no idea how to change a flat.

We stood there, looking at it... and smoking.

"Well", said Godmother, "Fuck that. We'll take my car."

We moved the things into her lovely, spanking clean Mustang, and backed out of the garage.

We were off.

It was 10.00AM. on Wednesday.

Grand Junction was roughly 6-7 hours away, with the side trip to the airport.



We arrived at 3.30 A.M. Thursday morning. What happened in between makes up Part III.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Trip, Part I

Thanksgiving is a time of taking trips, isn't it?

We go over the river and through the woods... we fly in big ol' jet airliners...we go riding in a car car... someone goes somewhere in order to spend time with someone on Thanksgiving, even if it's getting on the train to the ferry to the 1 to 42nd to the shuttle to Grand Central (yes, I should have walked over to Bowling Green and taken the 5... we all have 20/20 hindsight) to the Metro North to places north in states we can't spell without FireFox and it's wonderful spellcheck.

There, we spend time with friends or family or with luck... people who are both. We eat chestnut dressing (for the first time) in my case, or, in my New Orleans clan's case, we have the following:

3 turkeys
1 ham
25 lbs of potatoes
rice and gravy
gumbo
2 kinds of dressing
dirty rice
mac and cheese
4 kinds of casseroles with vegetables in them
yams
stuffed artichokes
stuffed mirlitons
6 different pies
bread pudding (although it wasn't my famous recipe)
4 boxes of pastry
various salads

They do eat quite a bit down there... then, there were the pitchers of sweet tea and the gallons of coffee and hours of gossip.

My meal was smaller, and just as good.

Last year, I went to Texas, and had a great meal... I was weak, recovering from nuclear meds, and managed to consume a fair amount of food to help me in the recovery process.

Then, there was The Trip.

I was living with The Godmother, it was a time of bad clothing, bad hair, and working for the man.

We worked in a large corporation at another large corporation that needed on site support. There we were, five marketing people and nine installers in the middle of a sprawling complex outside of Boulder, Colorado.

The Godmother had a house with an extra room, I needed a place to live... it was perfect for us if I rented from her, and for $100 a month, I did just that.

We clicked from the beginning, The Godmother and I. She can make you laugh like nobodies business, and has a laugh, as all my friends do, that will pull you into her world.

She was a widow, something you didn't find very often... a few years older than I, with her son, JL, who put up with his mother and I and our various strange ways. We both smoked like trains back then, who knew we shouldn't around him? She'd promised me we'd have a great social life on weekends... we spent it in our bathrobes, smoking and drinking diet Pepsi, and this was pre-nutrasweet. She would broil, then peel, then saute huge Anaheim chili peppers... serving them up with sour cream and tortillas...

....for breakfast.

She made (and makes) the best damn green chili ever. Again, we'd have it for breakfast. We'd make runs out to this horrible rickety shack out in the middle of a field at midnight because it had a Pepsi machine. She'd trust JL and I to sit in the car while she climbed the steps and put the quarters in, standing under the bare light bulb.

He and I would quickly jump into the seat, working the clutch and gears, backing the car out, driving as one person, while she ran behind us yelling.

It worked every time.

Before you feel sorry for her... let me tell you, this woman is a master of cruel jokes.

  • I heard a noise in her kitchen, which was at the other end of the house, a falling over of a pan, a crunching of something. "What was that?", I asked. "Go look.", she said, from the comfort of her bed where she was smoking, talking to JL and I. "No, it's your house, you go look." She muttered, getting out of bed, all 5'3" of her, clenching her cigarette in her teeth, buttoning up her robe as she marched down the long, midnight dark hallway. I climbed into bed with JL who was as big a chicken as I was. Deep quiet. Suddenly, moans and cries were heard. Her voice, catching on words, begging an unknown person to let her live, let her be... it... it.... hurt. You could hear her coming down the hallway, her fingernails digging into the drywall... she was crawling, crying in pain, moaning... moaning. JL and I dove to the bottom of the bed, under the heavy quilt, quivering in terror. We flattened out, trying to look like wrinkles in the bedcovers. "No, no, NO...", she wimpered, her voice rising on the last word. "Please, it hurts so..." she fell into the room... we heard her hit the dresser, fall to the floor.... pull herself onto the bed. She whimpered a bit... a little sigh left her, then, a gasp... a wince of pain. "Just... don't hurt my baby, my son", her voice ragged in it's terror, harsh with the screams held back. At this point, up piped the voice of her beloved baby, her son, who said, "Take her, we don't know what you look like." She laughed so hard, she peed on us.
  • We were in Target, it was Christmas. Both of us hate crowds, it was packed, and we both were wheezing in the need to just. get. out. I had gone to the bathroom, we had a full cart, the lines were enormous, and we were walking up front to become part of one of them. "Damn. Damn, DAMN. I forgot I told JL I'd get a frame for his school photo so he can send it to his grandparents.", she said as she stopped and literally stomped her booted foot. "FMD, Godmother", said I, "Then, let's get it done, I want to go home!". We moved towards the frames and I asked the size she needed. "Ummm. 4x6." Then, she stood to one side, watching me as I scanned the fronts of the frames, looking for the size. Remember, this was when they used to have the pretend people in the frames, with the frame size printed on the picture. "Wait.. not metal.. I want wood." I fmd'd again, and shifted my gaze to the wood, leaving her leaning on our cart holding presents, our coats, and purses. Scanning.... scanning.... scanning.... and..wait a minute. (the following is my thought process during a 2 second time period)That frame, it can't be, it is, it looks like Godfather. In that frame. How can it be? It looks just like him, it really does. Did they find some old film and print his photo? I always wondered if that's what they did. No, that's not like him, that... that... that's him. It's Godfather! What I was saying was, as I pointed to said frame was, "Godmother... it's.. it's... Godfather!" I turned at this word, to see her bent over the basket, convulsing in laughter. She'd set up the photo when I was in the bathroom, secure in my OCD'ness that I'd pick it out. She went from laughter into coughing, and then... I left her. I picked up my coat and purse and left her. Never piss off the driver.

So, this is the woman we would leave in the dark, running in her little red robe, holding the cans of Pepsi, cursing us out at least 3 times a week....

This is the woman I turned to and said.... "Hey, my cousin wants to come out for Thanksgiving from Monroe. Let's go see my dad in Grand Junction. It's only a five hour drive!"

This is the woman who said, "Sure, why not!"

It seemed like such a great idea... we'd take my new car, not hers, put her son, my dog, take along road trip food and drinks, pick up the cousin, and hit I-70 all the way to Grand Junction...we'd leave on Wednesday morning, since the big plant was closing down early for the holiday.

Piece o'Cake.

Tuesday, the biggest storm to hit the Front Range in 50 years rolled in, and Boulder alone was slammed with three feet of snow and 60 mile an hour winds at one point.

What the hell? We decided to go anyway.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Art of Sorta Zen




Sometimes, you find something someone else has written, that saves you from writing yourself.




Austere has this on her blog:


I have a strange sense of disquiet about this year.
Not been able to trace the reason, though.
Spectator- quality distance.
Perhaps all one can do is to remain calm: physically, emotionally, spiritually.



It bespeaks my life over the last year.



The last year has been one of introspection for me... at the same time, I've jumped into the fire in a number of ways.


A year ago, I had realised my Adam's apple had moved when I was putting lotion on my neck. It was only 20 minutes later, I remembered I didn't have an Adam's apple. I knew from that moment I had cancer, before I saw a doctor, had a test, a scan, a drop of blood run. I knew.


I was right, and had my knowledge confirmed when C and I were in New York where she was on job interviews, where she and I saw Wrecks, and I stood in a doorway, took the call telling me to come home, come home now, and cried quietly.


I finished out my holiday, went back, went to the hospital alone, and had my operation. I had an unique connection there, during the operation itself.... that kept me from feeling intensely alone in that most terrifying operation I've ever had. I still do not understand how or why, I only know I was given a place to go, that let me feel peace and security. I have only shared the full story with the person involved and it still makes me shiver with the intensity of the touching of souls that can occur in life. I went into the operating room knowing what alone is, and I came out knowing I wasn't.


I had to wait six weeks to go into a place where I could have the nuclear medication needed to fight my cancer. Six long miserable weeks, where I grew sicker and sicker.... weak from lack of a number of things in my body, unable to move towards the end... at one point, I remember lying there, freezing, not wanting the sheets touching me because the weight was more than my skin could bear... I woke up, knowing I had to go to the bathroom... and knowing I didn't have it in me to lift the sheet off the two pillows holding it off my poor, tired body.

I was there, and I actually thought, "I wonder how much a catheter costs?"


This time last year, I took two pills... they were robin's egg blue...nuclear medication...as I stood in a lead lined room, a technician yelling at me;


"TAKE THE TOP OFF THE BOTTLE, AND DON'T TOUCH THE PILLS."

"What?"

"DON'T. TOUCH. THE PILLS."

"What?"

He stepped closer. "THE PILLS. DON'T TOUCH THEM WITH YOUR HANDS. THEY ARE RADIOACTIVE. THEY'LL BURN YOU."

"Burn me? I'm supposed to take them inside me, but, they'll burn my skin?"

He nodded at me as if I were a pet who'd just learned a trick worthy of getting me on Letterman.

I took the pills.


They stuck to my lip, leaving a small scar on the inside... they stuck to the back of my throat, scarring there, and when they hit my empty stomach, they burned a hole there that still bothers me when I have certain foods or I'm worried...holes in stomachs, like holes in souls, don't go away, it seems.


I was put into my car (I'd driven myself... you don't ask someone to drive you somewhere when you will be glowing on the way home). It was rather neat that I set off the Geiger counter in two rooms as I walked out of the special section of the hospital. I was sent back home to let the medicine do the work it is meant to do...something that used to be done in the clean room of a hospital. Insurance won't cover it now, you go home, you contaminate your home, your clothing, your city water supply.


In my little area alone, I was one of six people that day having this procedure done. Think about that, my friends. How many people are in a big city, going home, going to the bathroom, flushing down radioactive waste into the recycling bins of your drinking water.


Scary, isn't it?


The other thing they don't tell you is you hallucinate. Oh, what fun that was! I thought myself to be a number of things, and I made sure I told everyone I knew everything I'd been made privy to know. I was Carlos Castaneda, with nuclear medication, not peyote my mind opening drug of choice. To this day, I refuse to read any of the letters I sent out.


Forgive me, any who received one.


You wait. Days of waiting, while your body is poisoned and you grow even weaker, and you take 15 minutes to walk from your bedroom to your sunroom, you are too weak to even cry from the exhaustion you feel getting there. You knit one. A few minutes later, you purl. Yeah, it sucks. Still, I had an easy cancer, and I knew I'd make it, because I refuse to do what anyone tells me I'm going to do, and I was not going to have it show up anywhere else, regardless of my age, the condition of my tumour or anything else.


At the end of the treatment, when TheInvestment chided me for sitting on a blanket to protect him and HRH from radiation ("Gee, Mom, shame people in Hiroshima didn't think of blankets."), when I was able to move faster than a speeding sloth, I went to CL's house for Thanksgiving, to pass the one year anniversary of my Dad's death.


I had to carry a letter from the hospital, since I set off the dirty bomb alarms at the TSA check points. This was one chipper point of the entire ordeal. I did resent having to have a wheelchair, because I looked okay. People glared at me, being pushed in the chair, seemingly healthy, along the pathways, avoiding the long holiday lines. I wanted to carry a sign that said, "HEY, I HAVE CANCER!" in apology.


They wouldn't let me.


It was then, during all this time, I decided to make changes, and I made them in a big way.




I gave up my very safe life back in the Land O'Utes, where I had a huge safety net of friends, a financial budget I could live with, a home and car and my oh, so, beloved children around.



I was able to do the family holidays, bright crisp snow in the winter, clean air, my wonderful, wonderful play festival every summer... the actors and designers and directors there that made my life complete in many ways. Orion sharp in the sky to look at every night.



I could take trips to New York on occasion with friends, seeing four plays in three days, dashing about like mad... yes, things could be done.



Instead, I took a deep breath, I packed up and I moved....far away from everything and everyone I know, into the unknown.


I faced what I had with The Oddship... After my move, I finally broke down and offered my all, my heart, as I'd been asked to do, being told I was needed in that one's life... to lower my walls.... to open up.. and was turned away...I was wrong, and, I thought I'd die from the hole in my being.



I lived alone, totally alone, for the first time in my life... and I didn't crack.



I've made friends, worked hard, found out I've talents I didn't know I had.


The new friends I've made....some via work I've found here in the city, from K to PM some via the internet, some via this blog... and those are listed on the side. I may be part of the collective "me,me,me".... I'm good with that. Bee gave me the gift of Six Sentences and her trust. Rob there gave me the encouragement to write, S2 (talented, wry and giving of herself always) pokes me to continue, making me think maybe I can write..that I have a modicum of talent somewhere, Peter is going to run the Amazing Race with me, Amber encourages, Andrea reminds me actors are smart and Bud reminds me I should take better care of myself... R adopted my son and I...as did LaEmpress. Prince and I continue to agree to disagree on certain playwright/directors. Yes, I've been lucky in the internets.



I've been lucky, too, with The WeatherGuy who makes me tea, and will marinate a beautiful steak, then stand in the rain to grill it for me. He didn't flinch at the cropped hair when I took off my hat; I know he's truthful in his comments he likes it better than the old curls. He pours us amazing 21 year old scotch, makes me laugh, and says he understands and will support my declarations I'm going on the wagon from relationships, my friendship is more important to him. He put pillows around said wagon so my fall from it didn't hurt too much... laughing at my blustering just enough so that my ego wasn't bruised. He's okay with the fact that we have this strange relationship; I respect him even more for that.



I have my old friends, even more important because they are far away, and they cheer me on, loving me in spite of all my oddness, all of my strange ways, my bluntness, my inabilities, my abilities, they are there for me always, giving me a foundation to push off from, to fall back upon, they are the family I've chosen in life.

My children remain in place all over the place... loving me deeply, liking me in spite of myself, believing I can be whatever I choose to be... the place we usually find ourselves in support of them. I'm lucky that way.



I struggle still with The Oddship, where we speak of only being friends, with that friendship in place, as we move around walls we both hold sacred. However, we move forward, and that alone gives me great joy. Sometimes, I think this will be my greatest friend, or my saddest loss in friendships.



One of my oldest, bestest friends,TheGodmother, who has always felt she has to compete with me, the one that would buy the same coat (once, we got drunk and wore each other's coats home.. how drunk were we? She was a size 6, I was a 12... we didn't notice...just put on the coats and went home) just because she haaaaaddd to have the same thing. If I lost weight, she went on a diet. We compete all the time. She is the Jarhead's godmother, thus the name, and her husband is HRH's godfather. She is my sister of sisters. And, as usual, she had to compete with me... only, this time, I wish she'd let me win a battle. She announced she weighs less than I do... because she has colon cancer.



Yeah, I wish she'd let me win this time.



If we find out it's spread, because they missed it on her scope two years ago, if it's spread, I'll move back West for a bit, to help out while she is in chemo and such. Why? Because she'd do it for me. Because she has done it for me. Because no one can annoy her as much as I can.



Through everything; my problems physically, spiritually, emotionally... moving, dealing with issues never mentioned here, friends, family... for once in my life, I've remained calm. Oh, there have been a few times of running like a chicken that's been run over by a Volkswagen, but, for the most part... I'm good.



In the end, it's the best we can hope for. It's all I ask for, all I want or need.



Well, that and a few other things, but, those are deeply personal, thanks.



Keep my friend in your prayers, please. That would mean more than I can say, more than I would ever want for me, more than I can ever thank you for, all 47 of you.



Thank you. And, thank you Austere, for summing up my last 12 months so perfectly.... it's appreciated.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Gimme a Cup O' Joe, Straight Up!

What happened to just coffee?

The WeatherGuy dropped me off to pick up a cup o'joe while he ran do take care of an errand I didn't need to take part in... the local 7/11 was my destination (let's be honest, it's the only place he can drop me off, and know I'll find my way back.. and even that was with him saying, "Stop looking out the window, pay attention." He's a good guy, the WeatherGuy)

It's cold here today, overcast, perfect for a hot cup o'joe. We'd already had tea, still, I loves my cup o'joe. There were pots and pots and pots of coffee brewing, I knew I'd not have to worry about running out before I got there, even with the line of folk pouring their morning fix.

It was then I focused on the names of flavours on the handles.

Kona. I can do Kona. Decaff. Okay, sometimes I can see Decaff. Extra-Robust. Gotcha. Irish Creme. hmmm, I prefer any kind of flavour to be limited to the creamer, since flavoured coffee starts getting weak.

I like the spoon to stand up in the cup and say, "YES!" when I stir in the sugar.

It was then I noticed.... them. The boutique group. Wild Blueberry. Apple Crumb Cake. Strawberry Creme. Raspberry Chocolate. Blackberry Muffin.

Apple Crumb Cake? Who drinks coffee called Apple Crumb Cake? What do you eat with it, Coffee Ground Muffins to even it out?

What was more amazing is, these pots were going fast.

"Yum! They made Wild Blueberry today!", said a woman in a powder blue track suit to her friend. "I love this stuff!" They both giggled, and poured 24 oz cups, then added sweet and low with skim milk.

Ew.

I think she caught my slight disapproval by the drop jawed, incredulous stare I was wearing, my own pot of 'Dear Lord, Save Me, It's Morning!' coffee tipped to be poured that I'd then season with sugar and 1/2 and 1/2, thank you very much.

Now, that's coffee.

I don't care if people want to drink this stuff, however, I think they should be hidden away, made to sneak about, buy it from dealers. Let them go to the Evil Corporate Giant to get that stuff. Little uber coffeehouses in the Village, where waiters named 'Raoul' or 'Willoughby' take your order, pursing their lips when you stumble over the name of the house special, which in reality is a simple hamburger with fries. Hightail it to a place where you are charged $14 for that cup of coffee, watered down and flavoured with some odd thing. Real coffee drinkers shouldn't have to look at something called Apple Crumb Cake coffee in the morning, nor at any time of the day.

Especially at at 7/11... the last bastion of real coffee in America.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Short Cut

"Wot did you do to 'ur hair?"

Sadly, I can't type in dialects. Sweeney Todd, speaks in one. Moroccan, to be precise. He actually sounds a bit like Fronk in Father of the Bride, only more, well, Moroccan.

Last Saturday, I was called two hours before The Audition to go audition.

I live on Staten Island... The Audition was down on 6th and 23rd. I had to race to get there, including showering, dressing and doing something with my, by that point, growing out of control hair.

I've never had good hair... it's curly, fine, meh hair. Since the cancer thing, it's only gotten worse, causing me to want to pull it out....but, that would only make a bad problem worse, therefore, it's grown longer and longer...the humidity here helps it stay curly and I discovered hats.

Those things have helped..... some.

I'm in the bathroom, my hair is wet... even with the mist in the air, I knew it wouldn't curl enough to make a difference.. it was going to....

Wave.

Lie there, waving at me, at the casting people, at the camera.

I had no choice. I picked up a pair of kitchen shears, and I whacked it. Chunks of hair fell into the sink, onto the counter, the floor, on my face. Wisps fluttered about as I measured as best I could, trying to do a sort of a razorish sliding motion with these dull kitchen scissors to 'pop' the hair shaft, the way Michelle did with her real razor when she last cut my hair back in the beginning of August.

With pomade and the large amount of moisture in the air, I curled.

Since then, I've not gone anywhere but the commercial itself, and there, the hair and makeup people smiled bravely, and did what they could with my mangled locks.

When you see me, on the MEGATRON, pretend my hair looks fab, okay? I mean, we are pretending I'm standing in my own living room, so, the hair should be a snap.

So, yesterday rolls around, and I take the 90 minute trek into the city to see Sweeney Todd.

Off came my hat....and the look on his face. Well, I felt ashamed.

"Wot did you do to 'ur hair?"

He circled me, picking up pieces, bits..... sighing.

In New York, I go to Astor Place to get my hair cut... I like it there. Chairs everywhere, cheap cuts, it's warm and cozy and Sweeney Todd is there.

He slaps a cape on me, still muttering. We joke about his accent, he tells me I have to write a check for a million dollars for the repair work he has to do...

....and he gets the razor out.

This is where the name comes from.... he will cut your hair with a good, sharp razor. Not too many hair cutters are proficient with a razor, which does give a completely different cut. Oh hair like mine it makes a world of difference.

He worked and worked and worked.

Muttered words, a sworn promise from me to never touch my hair again. Laughter over what I'd done.... " 'ur' lucky it's curly. Odderwise..."

He finished.

I have high cheekbones. Dark eyebrows. A dimple in my left cheek (upper one). I know all of this now, and so will you.

Why?

Because Mia Farrow in her film debut in Rosemary's Baby and I have the same haircut.


I've never had my hair this short in my life. People did stop on the street and tell me it was a great haircut.

I've never had that happen, either.

I do know Sweeney Todd told me I can now throw away my hats, " Dey won't be needed, ur hair looks so good!"

Maybe, but, I do need them, Sweeney, I do!!

My head is freezing.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Brooklyn Cowboy Rides On

I used to be a Nanny.

Yes, me. Imagine! I worked for C, and took care of her three children in Brooklyn, dealing with steam heat (oh! how I miss that!), brownstones, the real joys of Hasidim neighborhoods (the house across the street has 23 children in it. Yes, 23. You never hear a peep.) All of the fresh vegetables on 86th Street, the D train... all of it.

I'm helping her out a bit, filling in as Nanny Quin again until she finds someone to do the job on a permanent basis. The kids and I get along, and it's an easy thing to do.

I had one thing I looked for every day, when I walked the youngest two children to school... and when I had to walk towards the same area, I kept an eye out, to see if he was still around, if the winter hadn't taken him away, if he'd survived another season here in New York.

He was.

The Brooklyn Cowboy.

He's still there, a yellow plastic cowboy embedded in the asphalt on Bay two and a half steps from the curb.

He's one of the old cowboys, the kind that sat on a horse, with very bowed legs, his chaps embossed in plastic, his trusty Winchester at the ready. The ten gallon hat remained firmly in place, no matter how hard he rode Blackie or Rusty or Bob out on the Plains looking to protect the wimmenfolk and turn the West into civilisation.

I don't know how long he's been there.. he was rising out of the asphalt before; now, his surface area is larger, but, he's wearing thin and you still can't remove him...I don't know if he was there and the last layer of asphalt is worn down so he's showing again, or, if he was put in on top of the last repaving, an offering to the steamroller gods. I can see squatting on the sidewalk, after carefully placing him on the hot asphalt where he's trapped like some modern Mastodon in a flat version of the LaBrea Tar Pits... waiting...waiting.... having the huge steam roller pass over his sturdy body that survives the heat and the weight, feeling the black grit cool around him, and there he'd be, for you to pass over on your way to school or the deli, until one day, you aren't there anymore, you've moved on, something you kept him from ever doing.

One day, someone with cowboy boots is standing there, dodging traffic, taking a photo of your offering, options floating in her head as to how your cowboy ended up as part of a street in Brooklyn.

Yes, I was pleased to see him still there, still bright yellow, still holding his own.

I used to love my plastic cowboys.

They came in packages with a thin cardboard top, hole in the center to let it hang on a rack... with cowboys and horses (my favourites where the black horses, they just looked sassy), some of the cowboys with rifles, others with a lariat frozen in perfection, ready to lasso that dogie, and very the politically incorrect (although not at the time) Indians in full war regalia.. war bonnets flowing down their backs. Their horses only had blankets, you had to be careful to not mix up the horses until you started to lose them, or, as usually happened, one of the extended legs of the perennially trotting mounts would have a leg weaken from the constant galloping it did to the stick fort and finally fall off, causing a burial. In our case, we broke up the monotony of the day by melting them with a magnifying glass and the New Orleans sun.

The cowboys never walked correctly when you played with them... the fixed legs made it difficult to be menacing when advancing towards each other in a gunfight, therefore, you did this rocking back and forth motion as they moved forward...not very menacing at all when you think about it. Add to it their wimmin folk were usually some Kewpie doll that towered over them, causing Napoleon complexes... thus leading to huge numbers of gunfights, now that I look back on it...and it was all very surreal.

My cowboy was always named Gary. I had a thing for High Noon....I passed the name onto my yellow cowboy in the asphalt. His tenacity fit the name better than any other plastic cowboy's ever did before.

The pack would almost last the month of August, that time after my trip to Monroe. They made it though the Bermuda grass under the trees, the forts built in dirt, the dogs making off with horses or a scout or two. Eventually, you were left with some chewed up pieces, which went off to die to the outside toybox, and finally were thrown away when my MawMaw grew tired of the smell of old socks, flip flops missing chunks that had been left behind on the bark of various trees we'd climbed, and the tired remains of plastic cowboys.

I was glad to see Gary was still there. That he was holding strong, brighter than my photo showed him to be last year, defiant in his refusal to disappear into the road, into the atmosphere, not going into that last sunset.

I leaned over, planting my own cowboy boots next to his, and wished him well.

Then, I jumped quickly out of the way of a bus, that cheerfully rolled over Gary's face.

Gary will survive these streets.... he's part of them, a Brooklyn Cowboy, happy in his asphalt bed, content to be smushed daily, waiting to be seen by someone else aside from me, I reckon.

Yippie-ki-yo, get along little MTA bus.

The Gig

Things going on, me on national television, a major meme.

No, I won't be giving details, sorry.

Still, I've got to pick out three outfits, to have the wardrobe designer go over them with me... I feel so, well, special, and special in a special way, not a special, special way.. but, well...


It's not a big deal, the important thing is, it's a paying gig. Odd being paid a nice amount, and I am talent, not crew.


Pay is always, always good.

Monday, November 12, 2007

My New Home...Writingwise

If interested, I'm now to be found as the Entertainment reporter at

CityChicMag


My last review was edited, a bit... but, for the most part, it's me.


Editors do what they do...and, that is that.



Oh, the film, "Juno".... also won Best Film at the Rome Film Festival, which isn't mentioned in my review.


booya, Diablo.

Veteran's Day

I walked my neighborhood today, and didn't see a single flag out.

Back in the Land O'Utes, I know they were fluttering from the front porch or put into the holders on the street in front of almost every house in town.

Here, nada. Nothing. Bland. Blank. Bare.

I was surprised, to be honest. After 9/11, we all sort of looked to New York as the flagship, as it were, of all things patriotic; not only is the Statue of Liberty here, but, Ellis Island, the idea of tenement living, immigrants, melting pots, America. The striking blow against this country, an attack on us, against us, on our land...

Not a single flag did I see.

I wear my My Son is a Marine pin that R gave me. Well, that's what he is, the Jarhead, a Marine. He's an irritated one right now, trapped on an aircraft carrier, when he's a man who likes to be in the open air. He calls the Navy men 'squids' and vows none of them had best come near him when he's back on the solid earth.

Now I know why there was so much tension when HaHa and Oob and I saw the two groups circle each other last Spring during Fleet Week.

The two groups simply grow to ha..strongly dislike each other after months together on the ship.

I think about these young people, serving in the military, especially in this day and time. I've expounded on my feelings there, that the generation I was part of, our disdain for that area of life is gone now, we have softened, changed, grown to understand and accept. Our children have moved into the armed forces, for reasons we don't understand at times, those of us who avoided the draft, or prayed our friends would have high draft numbers, who saw the green cami as a bad colour no matter the season.

Now, they come forward once again, joining for those personal reasons, stepping up, stepping forward, saying the thing you don't want to hear, "Mom, should anything happen, should I not come home, know it's because I was saving a buddy."

I don't cry. I'm the Mother of a Marine. I suck it up.

I think of him, in his dress blues, in his cami's, in his dress tans... my blue eyed son, my darling young one.

And, I accept, it is, indeed, a hard rain that's going to fall.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Pro


He was 22.

I'd been walking, stopping off deliberately in the deli next to the Evil Empire coffee shop to buy a cup of, um, coffee.

I'm defiant that way.

He was sitting on the sidewalk, reading Trout Fishing in America, a book I've not seen in, well, forever. Richard Brautigan gave me one of my favourite sayings in my verbal world..."I'm up shit creek without a pair of snowshoes.", so, I felt compelled to stop and talk.

It wasn't just the book, it was the luggage, the blanket on his legs, and the sign that said, "STRANDED IN NEW YORK CITY. PLEASE HELP!"

"Why are you stranded?" I gave him the cup of cocoa I'd gone back inside the deli to buy and sat next to him.

He looked startled as he took the cocoa. It was cold yesterday, crisp in the city, the drizzly air contained to Staten Island when I'd left hours earlier to make the audition.

"Ummm, well, me and my girlfriend, we came here and things aren't working out. She went back to our place in Ohio 'cause we could only afford one bus ticket, so, she took it and we found out we'd been evicted from our apartment there. So, she came back here. Now, we're on the streets."

"Have you gone to the shelters?"

"Yes, we sleep there. Problem is, you can't get a job without a license to drive and stuff.", he continued, sipping and accepting donations into his cup.

"Why New York? It's pretty miserable here in the winter."

He went on to tell me how they'd met in high school, dropped out together to see the country. They had hitchhiked and panhandled over the width of the U.S., making it to 35 states. He knew the number because she collected little pins and put them on her coat.

He said he'd been to Bryce Canyon, and he was in a little town near there, and he loved it, they almost stayed, but, they knew no panhandling would be allowed. I laughed, and told him I had a house there.

Small world.

He looked so cold, you could see some warmth returning to his skin from the drink. His mouth was ringed with cold sores, and his hands were chapped... and it's early in the year, still. Mommode kicked in, hard. I was starting to think of leaving him my gloves, my last $5.00.

He asked me the time, said he'd be leaving soon, to go to get his girlfriend.

He worries about her. She has a temper, and gets into fights with people. If they say the wrong thing, she'll "... be in their face. I can't have her picked up again. She is small, but, she can punch hard. It's never her fault, though. People just pick on her, you know, say the wrong thing and she has to defend herself."

She was on another corner, near Central Park. They didn't panhandle together, they made more money this way, split up.

He worries until he sees her at an appointed time and place.

"We try and get to the shelters early, get a bed next to each other. I go to the Apple store and check my email, send stuff to my mom, let her know I'm okay and shit."

I asked if he'd gone to craigslist, looked for gigs there... told him he didn't need to have a license, that you can find occasional jobs doing labour.

He said he'd not thought of that.. and his eyes drifted to make contact with people walking.

As he talked, telling me of what they'd done while traveling, how they'd gone from city to city, with no real destination, settling on New York because of the free stuff they could score, the medicine, the housing, the hands dropping money in his cup...

"So, you really aren't stranded."

"No, not really. We just score better here in New York, you know."

I stood up.

"Yeah," he said, continuing his talk, "I don't like having change. At the end of the day, I put what I make into bills, then I dump the change into cups of, you know, the 'real' poor people. I share."

He smiled up at me, as if I should pat his head.

I walked away, glad I was only out a cup of cocoa. I guess everyone has a profession, I have joked that panhandlers are a union gig, and it's a tough union to join.

I think I met the local steward.... who went back to his book, and looking pathetic, and holding up a sign that was a lie. He did this, and I walked away, angry I'd been suckered in. Angry I struggle at times, the same way my friends do, and this...this... faker and his anger issue girlfriend more than likely make more than I do.

Still, was he any more dishonest than sales clerks who say you look great in that fushia skirt in order to make a commission sale or the hucksters who push a designer bag on you? Or a President who says we need this war? Was he what he was made to be by his background, or something of his own creation?

All of this rolled in my head, while I walked from 23rd down 6th, looking for bus stops, not paying attention that the traffic was going the opposite way from me, moving uptown as I walked downtown, feeling the air grow colder as the sun dropped down behind the mountain range I live in now, listening to the call of the wild tourist as it sang out "Which way is it to South Ferry?" and for once, not giving directions ("Take the 'R' to Whitehall... the station is just there"), ignoring, as always, the pedestrian signs on the street, making my way down to the old stomping grounds by the Soho Grand, only pausing to talk to Josh at the front door, and coming to the realisation I needed to go to Broadway to find my bus.

I was still pondering it all, the decision to be a bum, to let society take care of them, to happily be dirty and sickly looking in the hope people like me would help him out, relying on the fact we would do just that, when I went past someone collecting for the Homeless in New York, and I gave them my $5.00.

The bus arrived, I climbed on, and found out my all powerful MTA card didn't work on the express bus. A nice driver, however, overrides that, and I was given a free ride back home.

I guess we all get free rides of one sort or another. Leaning back in my seat, opening In Cold Blood, looking out over the water as we drove over the bridge, I had to ask myself...

Am I any different, or, just better dressed, and thinking a free bus ride is a small thing in the big picture?

With that in place, who was I to judge them?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Journal of the Week

I did have a long winded post...

My day... blah blah went downtown to audition for something... blah blah couldn't find the bus... blah blah walked from 23rd down 6th to Canal before I remembered 6th ran one way...

The opposite way from where I was walking and needed to go.

Add to this my never-ending-MTA-card doesn't work on the express bus... and I was allowed to ride in the AM by a driver who didn't tell me, and in the PM by Juan, who didn't care and did tell me. A never-ending-MTA-card that covers trains/ferry/bus/express bus is $160 a month. However, the express bus had me in downtown in 45 minutes vs 90 minutes.

Something to think about.

I saw a ton of things I want to mull over, and talk about later.


Until then, it's the (oh, how I wish I could get an echo machine for when I say this!)

JOURNAL OF THE WEEK!!

Yes, that time when I direct my loyal readers to someone else's home page, which is always far more interesting than my drivel... trust me.

Today, I'm setting you up with the Queen of Dry, The Empress of Wry, my friend....

GOLFWIDOW


She befriended me months and months ago, with this acid humour and a way of not letting you feel sorry for yourself...she dragged her mother, L'Empress, into the city with her to meet up with Lisa and Deni and I for lunch... and I was sold.

In the bargain, I was semi adopted, and also got to meet R, who in turn has a great blog, but, it's a locked one... so, I can't refer you there.

Her space here will come.


For now, here is someone who has given me the honour of letting me call her my friend, GW.


Word.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Hats in the Belfrey


Hats.

I was always one to scorn hats... turning up my nose that has a very straight bridge, and isn't meant to be turned up. To do so actually means I have to look down it's length, a skill I've perfected over the years, allowing me to give the Icy Glare. This look has served me well in life, causing cars to stop in their tread, children to stop whatever wrong they are doing, and tourists to swipe and go when they hit the station, without questioning why or where they are going.

I did not like hats. Not big hats, small hats, baseball hats (which had their own special place in my book of hat hell), large brim, snappy brim, red, blue, black, feathered, sequined, knitted (even by me) or with cute pom poms on it... they were horrible.

Sure, maybe I hated hats because I can't wear one. Perhaps it was a deep seated envy that caused me to watch Fergie's wedding, and sob quietly in a corner of my sofa, huddled there not over the pomp and circumstance (and the hideousness of that dress, not to mention her bad hair and the Queen.. who dresses that woman? What is in that purse? A digital camera? A novel by Barbara Cartland?) but, overcome by the plethora of hats, the dignified wave that happened when everyone stood and their heads tipped and bowed with all that haberdashery on display.

My sister/friend, Loo, wears a hat. She does a great job of it, having that certain panache, that ability to match the colour to her outfit, never feeling self conscious about the fact she has a huge amount of stuff on her head that isn't hair.

Of course, she's English, so, that helps.

I even refused to wear those baseball caps when I had a Jeep.

Why? Because I looked stupid, that's why. My face isn't shaped to wear a hat, my head is kind of, well, different, and one ear doesn't lay at close to my head as the other. As a child, my mother taped it to my head.

It didn't work.

I have high cheekbones, and, well, all in all, I look silly. No, I do. Ask my friends. I would put on a baseball cap, and they'd laugh and laugh. Yeah.

The other reason? Oh, it's even simpler....

Hat hair.

That was the other reason. Hat hair. Who wants it? I have enough hair issues to not want hat hair, and once you've got hat hair, you are stuck with the hat on your head.

When I moved to New York City, life changed.

I discovered the beauty of the hat. I embraced the hat. I rolled in my collection of hats, I counted them, made sure I had one in each colour group, and I wore them proudly.

Why?

Because it rains. It sleets. It snows. It is windy, sunny, clear. Because you walk out the door and get stuff, well, right out the door. So, who wants to get in the shower, wash your hair, put in product and then wait for it to dry/blow dry it?

You put on a hat!

The amazing, wonderful, darling, cute-as-a-button hat!

Berets, paperboy, baseball (yes, it's a cap, but, don't split, well, hairs), race car... all kinds! Knit, cashmere, felt... they slip on and slip off, allowing you to look good when you go outside to either pick up coffee or attend a film. You insist you look good, and as long as you don't pass reflective surfaces.. you can retain that delusion.

I do.

I even went to lunch with The Weather Guy... and I wore a baseball cap.

Yes, me.

I'm thrilled to death with the invention of the hat. I may even start wearing some of my vintage ones, when I go to a place where I can wear a pair from my collection of vintage gloves.


What? You don't wear a hat? FMD Get with the fashion...





P.S. My editor in chief was interviewed today... it's a nice read. Hurrah, Emily!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Things I Believe In

Darfur


WGA Strike



United for Peace


Feed the Hungry
(simplified)




Please list the things you are passionate about....

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Kiss Me

Life changes.

With that, things move on, people move on with no regrets, much affection still in place and I've nothing more to say as far as that goes...

I have expounded on kissing in the past... how kissing is almost sacred to me, and in a sense far more important than the act of making love.

Perhaps the following helps... it is, for me, the most intense, sensual, deep kiss I've ever seen in all my years of film viewing... hell, in my years of kissing, it takes the cake. Every time I see this scene, I sink into it, sighing.

If we could all be kissed like this, just once... well, we women would kiss far more often...with a bigger payoff for everyone involved.

Trust me.



What? It's TUESDAY?

A day off.

I was at a loss as to what to do with myself. Okay, I'm lying. I had spent the night at C's house, content in the fact I'd completed the call sheet for today.. listing hospitals, flight arrangements, shots, wardrobe, props... all of it ready to allow them to run and gun today. So, I knew what I was going to do today once I completed tomorrow's call sheet... nothing.

Tomorrow, they have a day off, and I have to put things together for the following day... and so it goes.

I'd decided to take the bus over the Brooklyn instead of the train/ferry/train/train thing. I saved an hour of mass transit time, keeping the same amount of walking time. This is fine for now...come cold weather? Well, my neverendingmta card will be used more than the only whore in a cowtown.

Okay, that even made me go "EW".

The new bag held it's fill... and reminded me why I don't have big bags... you fill them. Two scripts, a laptop, a change of clothes, pens, pencils, phone charger, laptop charger, coin purse, extra glasses, the bag of peppers and cucumbers I bought in Brooklyn, a few other sundry items and I was hauling at least 47 lbs of stuff. I walked like the Tower of Pisa with osteoporosis.

I am currently saving for a new laptop... a small laptop. At this rate, I should have one by 2015.

While walking and riding on the bus, I had a number of thoughts based on things seen...

  • Who had sex on the sidewalk and left behind a used condom? It's not as if it's a dark street...it's pretty busy, with street lights and neighbors who have those blow up pumpkins they will soon change out for blow up holiday decorations.
  • Have you ever noticed that when you have your palm read, they tell you, "You will have a long life." They never say if it's a healthy one. You could walk out of that place and be hit by a car and live to be 107 in an iron lung.
  • Do they still make iron lungs?
  • When you buy a Napoleon to eat for snack later on in the evening...don't put it under your laptop in the questionable leather bag.
  • Why do some stores only advertise in Russian or Arabic? What if I want to buy something there? I'm looking at these places, thinking, "Well, I may want (fill in the blank) but, I don't know if they have it or if they have it and I don't know." It makes my head hurt.
  • Why do banks charge $2.50 at their ATM, and McDonalds only charges .99 cents?
  • Why isn't there a cents key on the keyboard anymore?
  • When did school uniforms get so short?
  • I saw two yeshiva students walking ahead of me down 86th. They were discussing kosher snacks at a certain corner bodega. One was in smart, knife pleated pants, crisp white shirt, long dark coat and a hat on top of his yarmulke. His earlocks were smoothly curled, and tucked behind his ears. His friend was rumpled, pants low on his hips, no coat, no hat, his yarmulke slipping over... no earlocks. I wondered if he was the 'bad boy' of the group. Sort of a gangsta Hasidim with his low hanging pants and no prayer shawl, yo! A convert, perhaps? Who knew?
  • The bus is 90 minutes faster than the train, and you can look out over the bridge. This is fun.
  • When some lady says, "Is that your bag?" do not automatically reach for the bag next to you. The person it does belong to will snarl and say, "Do. Not. Touch. My. Lunch." From the condition of the greasy bag and her glinting eyes, I had no intentions of doing so. In fact, from the look alone, if it had been my bag, I'd have left it there.
  • Cold in New York City isn't cold in the West. It's colder. I'll leave it at that.
  • Remember when sleeping at a place not your own, don't put a glass of water where it will spill on the bed soaking you in the middle of the night.
  • I like horsechestnuts. I like how they look, the way they fall from the trees, the sound they make under your feet. I now have one on the windowsill of my house to remind me of the days outside, with the crisp air, the perfect red in the leaves, the hint that something is around the corner...but, right now... it's perfect.
  • Having your phone ring, and seeing Miss Sof's name on the caller ID.

I made it home, opened my email, and found a nice gift from TheBee.... free food!

Good way to end the journey, good way to end this post. Can't ask for more... well, you can, but, this is good enough for me.

Monday, November 5, 2007

That Was the Week That Was


Last week of Pre-Production, first days of the shoot.

Chaos, time, travel...it all meant no sleep, no posting, nothing but chaos in a controlled way.

I did have time to note a few things while dashing from home to the train to the ferry to trains to trains to the office to locations to sit for 147 minute long hours.

  • Love your crew- This one isn't hard...I've been lucky that way, I seem to fall into crews that jell together in a great way. The CD (costume designer), the SD(set designer), HR(her assistant), TP (the producer), PM, who found the stooges and the rest of the 'talent' (the main talent, she didn't find, and he's just a prop that eats) and my man, AD (assistant director) and I are a team. The rest are nebulous beings who drift around, but, the core of us are there... TP floats in and out, however, he has our backs (I hate that saying, you need it in a film). The AD? I'd walk through fire for him. We call this little number, "Heaven's Gate: The Documentary". I'll say no more. I've switched from scripty to 2nd AD, and I'm loving the new job. You have to love or at best like, and respect these folk. And, yes, we have our 'inside' joke... and we use it.
  • Bathrooms- You have to find them on set, off set. I prefer public bathrooms against the wall, so you can set down all the bags and such that you have with you safely. Always have a small purse size package of tissues with you in case there is no toilet paper...and I also have hand cleaner. The toilets on the ferry are NOT a good idea in the cold months. They are even colder than the air, thus, they are welcome for one positive thing, and one thing only; they are guaranteed to wake you up if you are still in that "Gee, I wonder what I put on this morning?" stupor when you sit down. If you are leaving the set and have the I'm not really ready to wee, it's a nudge, not an urge yet, wee anyway. By the time you are getting close to Penn Station on your journey on the 4 to the 6 to 42nd to the 7 to the 1 to Penn to have to walk to stage rehearsal.... you will wish you had.
  • When Possible, Work in Michael Moore's Production Office-You can be sure of two things:Lots of medical supplies and a really big take out/delivery menu file.
  • People who will make you whip your head around even when you've proclaimed Ich Bein New Yorker! -Last Wednesday, upon being given revision 472 of the script, the AD and I were walking towards the station down 57th street from the Production Office. Coming our way, in a jaunty stride, was a squeaky clean man, wearing naught but a smile and a pair of navy blue jockey shorts. Since he didn't have on shoes or a shirt, I doubt he was going to dinner.
  • Purses on the Street-Hello, my name is Quin. I am a purse whore. I've mentioned this before, I'm saying it again. My budget allowed for either a)veggies or b)fruit. I bought a new purse that would hold my laptop and two scripts. It is a rich turquoise, I bargained it down $30 by getting two other women to seal their purse purchases (and all of us walking away from one dealer en masse to the one across the street) allowing us to all have a nice price. I wheedled the seller down, we all had our, ummm, leather bags (we were located next to a falafel cart....I wonder if the leather had anything to do with the meat sold with the pita that day) and I am again carrying a huge bag. But, it's a cute one.
  • Watch Where You Walk in the Street- Asking directions from a post office employee is always a good idea. When you back away from the truck, make sure you look down. Otherwise, you will suddenly realise you are standing on a feather, which makes you realise there are the remains of a slow pigeon just at your heel, which makes you do the HOLY-SHIT-IT'S-A-SQUISHED-PIGEON-WITH-BLOOD-AND-GUTS-RIGHT-THERE dance all over the street to the great amusement of the locals.
  • Farts-Here is a news flash. Farting in public can be heard. To the man sitting across from me on the SIRR last Wednesday... pretending you didn't hear yourself toot your version of van cliburn playing Tchaikosvsky's 1st Piano Concerto doesn't mean we didn't. Another hint: standing in a doorway tooting away? Remember, someone (me) may come out of that doorway behind you to go, oh, I don't know, outside maybe? Do not walk up the stairs from the train, making a toot on each stair without checking to see if there isn't SOMEONE BEHIND YOU, JACK!
  • The Ocean-The WeatherGuy took me to see the Atlantic Ocean upon my request last Tuesday. Next time, I'll ask to go when it's light outside. He did point out where it was...I saw dark, and took his word. I appreciated the fact he drove far out of his way to show me. The time would have been better spent, I think, at Costco. Or at least, more productive... although I did enjoy the air. And, I saw stars.
  • Spiders-In the days back in the Land O'Utes, my children, HRH and TheInvestment and I had a ritual with these beasts. The finder issued the battle cry, a mighty squeal of distress. We do not believe in the torture or the crunch of smushing. The other two raced to the scene of combat with weapons, a can of hairspray and a match. Huddled together, we sprayed and lit said spray, frying the spider. We then did the dance of victory, dashed upstairs and watched 'Mansquito' on our DVR. Now, I am alone. While leaving a message to a friend, I saw one... the message went like this: "Hey, when you get a chance HOLY JESUS, THERE IS A SPIDER THE SIZE OF A YUGO ON MY CEILING!!" I was forced to deal with it alone. It was moving slowly towards me on a string...downwards, sneering at me, knowing my troops were far away. Little spider telegraphs had told it of my past murd..kil...removals of it's mates. What was I to do?? I only had pomade and travel approved spray! DAMN THE TSA!! It had me backed into a corner... it was it or me. I took it out with a copy of The New Yorker. I rock.
  • Flirting-I suck at this game. When trying to walk with my usual stride away from the train at my stop, it's best to be careful. My brown boots have a slick heel. What does this mean? It means that knowing I was being watched by the nice man I'd been chatting with, I did that usual stride, allowing my boot to slllllllllllliiiiiiiiiiiiiddddddddddeeeeee putting me on my ass. If I was in the back car I tend to ride in, fine. I was in the front car. They stopped the train, and the engineer jumped out. "Are you okay?" "Um, yes, fine... go away" "Do you want help?" Everyone (aka 'Him') is standing there, looking. "Go. Away." "I can call for... " "GO AWAY!" My boot is scuffed, and I now have to wear dark glasses when I ride the train, scouring it for faces that I saw at the windows.
  • The 1 Train. WTF? There is one train directly from the Ferry into the City. The 1. People will mow you down to dash down the stairs to reach it....only to see the doors close on an empty train as the smiling engineer pulls away. There are signs posted that should read: "The 1 Train will not run at any time convenient to anyone in New York. This means on weekends, when we have it posted it will run, on days with weather above or below 50 degrees, in months with a vowel, or if we are in the mood". That, my friends, should be the posted sign. Instead, they read, "Between midnight and 5 AM, Saturday through Monday, the 1 will not run". Fine. When does it stop running? Oh, around 9P.M. There you are, on the platform, and you see it on the 2 platform. Why? WHO KNOWS? You run under the station, to the 2 platform, and it's back on the 1. So, you take the 2 down to 14th, and wait. No 1. A 2 shows up, you take it... it's packed. You get off on Chambers, because why should any train run to the Ferry, no one lives on Staten Island. The Ferry is late, your card won't work as a transfer any more.. and if you want your $2 back, mail your card in right away. Yeah, like I'm going to do that. My usual 90 minute journey home took 3 hours. I could have flown home to New Orleans by then. Yes, 90 minutes to go 4 miles.

I love New York.


Thing is, I really do.


With the doc going on the road, I'm moved up in the pecking order of the film, I'm now 2nd A.D. I think this means I have more work, at the same low pay. Do I hear the Peter Principle at work?

Off to do one of my new 4,762 forms. The upside? I'll be riding the R. To the D. To Brooklyn.



Booya.

Friday, November 2, 2007

It's Friday Already??

What a week.


And it's not over.


So much to say, no time to say it.... I have to be awake in five hours.

Ghah!