Friday, May 30, 2008

Travels Via the MetroCard

Much time has been spent on the trains this past week.

It has given me quite a bit to look at, think about, listen to...

  • There was the woman on the N train, sitting across from me, who reached into her large purse, pulled out a bottle of lotion, and, after removing her shoes one at a time, carefully put the lotion all over her feet, rubbing it in over the soles, in between the toes, working it into the skin with long solid strokes. I was fascinated, doing my best to look while not looking. She was grunting with exertion, leaning over, one leg bent at a 45 degree angle, the foot resting on the opposite knee, working, rubbing, massaging her pasty white feet. When she finished, she put both feet on top of her shoes, to let the lotion dry, I suppose. During the process, a man had entered the train, and sat at an angle from her, opened up his brown sack lunch, and started shoveling in his odd smelling lunch. She looked up as she put away the bottle of lotion, caught me looking at her, and leaned forward. I was waiting to be chewed out, knowing I'd been caught staring. Nodding towards him, she said in a whisper to me, "Hmm, some people got no class, do they?", she said. I smiled weakly, and left at the next station, deciding it was best to wait for another train.
  • The station at 9th and 4th in Brooklyn is hell. Going from the R to the F train is miserable, you have to climb 47 flights of stairs. It's almost as bad when you go from one side of 42nd to Times Square... long, long hikes through airless tunnels, with some odd man who is making paper roses yelling how he used to be in data processing... one station in Brooklyn is the highest point in the MTA system... only a few of these places have escalators. Why doesn't the MTA have little sherpas to carry us up the stairs or down those long miserable tunnels? I'd tip a nice amount, trust me.
  • When it is late at night, please do not hold up the R train, and then have it suddenly go express, thus bypassing my stop, ok?
  • On weekends, why do all of the trains going anywhere near the Ferry stop running? Do you like seeing women in heels have to walk for blocks?
  • I rode so many trains and sat for so long on hard plastic seats on Thursday, my female parts went numb. I will say no more.
  • You know the temperature is too hot on the train, when you see the buskers get on, start singing, and say, "This is too miserable, I'm getting off."
  • I do love coming out of the tunnels when you leave Manhattan, and seeing sunlight or the lights of the city around you... it makes the whole ride more enjoyable.
  • Great fun can be had watching the cars ahead of you as you race through tunnels at high speeds on express trains. Watching the cars swerve opposite of the direction you are going is a cheap theme park ride for those of us who have yet to go to Coney Island. Throw in the buskers and the ferry and hey! a fun time for $2!!
  • How hard would it be to paint a white line, showing where the first five cars are on the 1 train, those magic five cars that stop for the ferry? That way, you don't have drunks (and me) trying to count as the train races into the stations.... you know if you are in front of the magic white line, you will get off and make said ferry. Think about it MTA....
  • Lastly, while you are thinking about it... hire me to announce over all the turnstiles, "Welcome to New York City! Remember, SWIPE AND GO! SWIPE AND GO!! The train is in the station, SWIPE AND GO!" Maybe people will do just that... swipe that card, and go...

If you believe that, I've a bridge you can buy in Brooklyn.... cheap.

The Sinking of The Titanic

It was a cold and bitter night, when the Titanic's side was ripped open, changing history.

I'd just taken her out of the box, and using the nifty electric pump, inflated both the upper and lower mattresses, put on the featherbed, my 800 count cotton sheets, the feather comforter, the embroidered quilt... all after a long journey to New York and my new apartment from Utah via New Orleans.

I was ready to put my tired bones into bed.

Pushing her into place, I didn't notice when she snagged on the spar of wood sticking out of the nook, didn't notice when it pulled on the heavy plastic, didn't notice until the WOOSH of air alerted me to a problem of massive proportions...

Klaxon horns went off... we had sinkage! I hummed 'Nearer My God, To Thee' as my new bed slowly deflated, a three inch (real measurements, not a man's version of three inches) gash in her side.

I was prepared, however.... I had duct tape.

This worked for a few months, with regular applications of fresh duct tape until, by good fortune, CF gave me an old repair kit, and I was able to glue and patch up the tear, reinforced with duct tape, thus giving The Titanic a firm surface once again.

No longer was I reduced to a routine of going to the bathroom, stumbling back, re-inflating the bed, going to sleep and repeating the process during the night.

Fortunately, I have a small bladder, which meant I had a good sleeping surface for the bulk of my resting time.

One night, I noticed a deflation sensation. What could this be? The major rip was holding up under it's 14 layers of duct tape.

Searching over the surface of the mattress, I discovered the culprit--two minute leaks in the seams of the top of the mattress...


Ah, but, I was prepared, wasn't I? I still had some magic repair glue and a full sized patch... this was no huge issue, I knew what to do.

Plus, I had a full roll of duct tape.

I marked where the holes were, and then quickly deflated the bed via the high tech air remover vent thingy. Smushing the last of the air out, I laid out my repair kit.... glue, patch, scissors, reading glasses, duct tape.... piece o'cake.

Note to self: when putting away tube of glue, remember to put a cap on said tube of glue to prevent glue from drying out.

I went with straight duct tape.

This worked for a good 45 minutes at a time, keeping the bed at full air volume. Again, thanks to my small bladder and the fact I convinced my body I was sinking into a nice full bed of feathers, I was able to sleep on The Titanic for a few months, with a minimum amount of fuss.

Finally, this past weekend, I'd had it... my friends and family were tired of hearing me say, "Hold on, I have to blow up the bed." when talking to them... it is my main place to sit. I was tired of watching films, and having myself slowly sink downwards, causing me to have to stop the film, fill the bed, and go again.

More than once, this occurred during a crucial plot point.

I deflated The Titanic, and again laid out my tools to repair the damage...

Scissors, duct tape, Elmer's GLUES EVERYTHING, the patch, reading glasses

1. Examine old markings.
2. Remove cap from glue tube. Note it has a solid thing covering glue.
3. Look for something to puncture solid thing.
4. Use scissors to poke hole.
5. Get phone call.
6. Go outside to take call, talk for 30 minutes.
7. Come inside to find glue now has a plug in it. Curse.
8. Use scissors to dig out plug, poking a hole in the side of tube in process.
9. Use duct tape to block hole.
10. Curse.
11. Smear glue on small hole on bed.
12. Pick up scissors to cut patch
13. Realise scissors are firmly glued together.
14. Curse loudly.
15. Pick glue off scissors.
16. Notice glue has hardened on hole on bed.
17. Throw scissors.
18. Get up to get scissors, realise leg has gone to sleep from sitting on it in cross-legged position
19. Do the wobble legged walk dragging dead foot to find scissors.
20. Lose glasses, curse a bunch.
21. Get everything together again.
22. Plug in glue again.
23. Get plug out, repair new hole in tube.
24-26. Curse manufacturer of bed, of glue, of scissors, their mothers and the unknown men who fathered them.
27. Pick old glue off flocked bed top.
28. New layer of glue.
29. Patch in place.
30. Duct Tape

I placed heavy books on top, then left for hours. Returning home, I removed the books, tested the patches, and all looked good.

I re-inflated the bed... no hissing. I cried a little with joy at this point.

I fluffed up the featherbed, snapped on clean sheets, the feather duvet... the light quilt, my pillows in crisp cases, I snuggled down and went to sleep.

Around 3AM, I woke up, sunk in the middle of the bed, most of the air gone.

I could buy a new one....but, I leave on the 25th of June, so, why bother? I'll just drink lots of water every night before I go to bed..up, bathroom, fill the bed, sleep.

It's worked beautifully thus far.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

XY's and Me

XY's and I are not meant to be.

Sure, I've had a few chances....the guy in the great suit with the umbrella, the man I shyly flirted with on the train, right before my boot heel slipped when I got off, and I ended up not only lying on my back, but, the engineer held up the SIR and insisted on asking overandoverandover if I was okay.

For a good month after that, I rode the bus home from the Ferry. I felt it best.

Oh, and the nice man who bought my coffee one day... he said I had a great smile.

Most of the time, though, I have men like David, who used to be a busker in the W. 4th Ave station for the 'V' and 'F' station (what have I said about the 'F' train?). He's moved and currently is working the 14th Street station, by Union Square.

David plays, um, himself. Yes, he is David, the Human Percussion Machine. He ties hunks of cardboard on his legs, and a pie tins on his knees, and he hums and sings slightly off-key in time to the, errr, music. He had great sound in the tunnel on W. 4th... I haven't asked him why he left yet. Lately, David's been a little, well, off. He's wandering quite a bit away from his chair and his collection bin, and slapping that pie tin, humming and chanting and singing. I always ask how he is, and he says, "Fine, m'am... how's you?" I say, "Fine" and I drop a dollar in his jar. He tells me I'm a nice lady, and goes back to playing himself, as it were. I worry about David, he's wandering pretty close to the tracks... both physically and mentally. I wonder if I'll get off the 'R' one day, and he won't be there. I'll be put into a position of having to listen at each station after that, to see where he settles... I don't have much time left to do that...

There is the ex-Marine down on Wall Street. He asks for money, politely, saying thank you when you put some in his hat. He wears his jacket, with the patches showing where he was stationed. We've chatted some... he was in Desert Storm, his youngest brother is in Iraq. He can't get any help... nothing really they can define that is wrong with him, he gets the deep blues, and can't hold a job. He left his wife, came to New York, and he begs. Sometimes, he will go to a shelter to sleep... sometimes, not. We've talked about the war, what happens to young boys at war... he knows about the Jarhead. When I can, I put $5 in his hat... we hug and I go to meet CF for lunch. He yells out he has my boy in his prayers... I keep him and his brother in mine. He, too, was missing the last time I went down that street, and I wonder where he is, how he's doing.

On Monday, I saw Passing Strange, a play so intensely moving for me, I cannot find the words to wrap around the emotions it evoked. I can say, the message that the journey to all you want and need in life begins within resonated with me, and I suggest it to all... if nothing else, get the CD... it will shake your world. A small, talented cast, a set that consists of a table and five chairs, some musicians that overwhelm you with their music, a book that is personal.... yes, it moves you. On the way home, I rode the Ferry with a number of Navy men, a few who let me know that even though I'd been told by the Jarhead not to speak to any 'Squid', they were okay because they were officers and had great respect for the Marines.

That made me laugh.

When I was leaving the train, a young man stood, watching every female who walked towards the stairs, saying to each, "Jasmine?" Each woman shook her head, "No."

He was 25 or so, all in black. His hair was in a carefully done Mohawk, the colour zig-zagging down the grouped masses, in shades of deep red to startling yellow. He looked as if Jackson Pollock had been reincarnated as a hairdresser... a bad one. The spikes were so sharp, drawn to a crisp point, he is someone you'd want around in a disaster. I'm sure he could have opened a tin can of beans with that hair if needed... I didn't see a bit of flesh on his ear edge not pierced, with huge spacers on the lobe itself. African tribesmen would have wept, knowing he'd outdone them. Those odd metal spikes were embedded above his eyebrows, his nose, eyebrows and all around his lips were pierced, under the lip, over it... he was a TSA nightmare.

Thinking about what lay beneath his leather jacket and pants.... I imagine his nether parts were named "Prince" for a reason.

I was the last person to walk down the station linen pants, white shirt, maroon leather shoes with 3" heels (yes, I can clean up). He looked at me, gulped, and before he could open his mouth, I said, "No, I'm not... but, wouldn't you shit if I were?"

We both started laughing, and he walked me down the stairs to the street, each of us going a different way... it made for a nice ending to a good night.

My last man? My C of course.

We did homework today, had snack, looked for four leaf clovers, discussed Tasmanian devils, and he asked me what did dinosaurs feel like. Our day was finished off with our favourite youtube video.

Makes you want to dance, doesn't it? We did.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Indiana Jones~In The Beginning

I have to get this out of my system.
Beware, there are spoilers.


(Opening shot: Two multi talented, wealthy film director/screenwriters, once again discussing their oft discussed collaboration to follow the successful Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom in the falling dusk of a northern California summer.)

George: We have to do something.... Harrison isn't getting any younger. And did you see that commercial he did about the Amazon forest? There goes any chance of a topless shot. I mean, he had his chest waxed!

Steve: I winced when I saw it on youtube. But, yeah... something. Connery hung up when I called him. We have to go with the father/son thing on the other side. He's too old to stick with Nazi's... I like Nazi's as the bad guys, and what religious thing can we use now?"

George: I've been thinking... we could go Cold War, use Cate... I love the whole Louise Brooks look, and I always had a thing for Natasha Baddenoff from Rocky and Bullwinkle. Area 51, Nevada..... "

Steve: Wait a minute, you've got something there. I've got set stuff left over from ET and Close Encounters... some plot lines I didn't use...

George: There's a definite group of script pages I have from Star Wars, for Yoda. Frank Oz is busy, but, I have the rights to the lines. I think we are on to something. We can really cut costs, and Kathleen will love that!

Steve: FUCK!! Let's go all the way!! I loved Tarzan... use him, too! And Phantom, we'll use Phantom!!

George: Listen to this one, "They live in the spaces between spaces". Huh??? Huh??? Pure gold.

Steve: Fuck, George... that rocks. Whoa, we can even have him fly though...get this..atomic explosion...and, Indy flies through the air in a fucking lead lined ice box!!

George: Steve! Brilliant! Oh, and toss in a flash of the 'Ark'... call the son, wait..Mutt!! Tie in the dog name thing!! Pass the bong...and call Karen Allen. We'll get her cheap.

(they high five and smile as the sun sets over the hills to the west)

My rankings? Indiana Jones 1,3,4.... never see 2.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

LOL Diner

What we have here is your basic diner.

It is the brainchild of my friend, GolfWidow... a simple place, where you can sit and have food and laughs, and buy a little reminder of your time there.

There is but one problem... Like the University of Okoboji, which has wanted to build som..a fe..a building for a number of years, there is no LOL Diner. There is, however, a great story behind the need for one, the desire for one... why one should exist. The LOL Diner is only in the business stage plan.

Right now.

But, with the help of the kind hearted people who one day want to sit and have this menu:

dey b steelin' mah frahz
i haz a corm
rolf wafflez
i made u a cookie but i eated it
tiny medium bukket

om nom nom

It will happen. That or I'll stop cringing when I see words spelled that way.

You can actually contribute towards this dream... by wearing items of clothing with LOL DINER on them.

I plan on purchasing one. One day, my dream is to work there.

Really, it is.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Film Is PG-13 For A Reason

I may do a full review on Indiana Jones, I'm not sure I have it in me.

I know this much.... parents who bring their 7-9 year old children to a weekday 1.30 PM PG-13 show, when there is school, should be glared at. The film has a rating for a reason. When they bring a horde of children, and let them run wild, should be glared at twice. When they bring a horde of children, let them run wild, and talk so much that I cannot Hear. The. Dialogue.

They need to leave.

In spite of numerous complaints by the five adults who were oh, so, happy before the aforementioned horde showed up, they were not made to leave.

I missed portions of the film, the level was that loud.

On my departure, the moms were standing about, chit chatting. I walked past, and one made a comment, about my shushing the children.

She said I was rude.

Rude? Me?

I used my stage voice, the one that is level, lifted and carries without being anything more than a normal voice.

"Your children ruined our (gestured to the others behind me who were leaving) film going experience. They were ill behaved, loud and out of control. That is your doing. Why weren't they in school?? No film is worth missing school. And, you still don't have them under control, look at them."

One stepped up. "You are just rude!"

I looked her up and down, raised my eyebrow and leaned in. "Madam, I hope your children have nightmares tonight."

I took my refund, and went home. There are two words for these kind of people; Video Rental. Sometimes, I'm not a nice person.

Today was one of those times.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Cars, Trips and Things That Go Bump In The Night~ II

We stood, my Mawma and I, and waved goodbye.

Sandwiches packed, the cooler refilled, the car left holding my parents settled in their usual positions and the GC ensconced along with new comic books with the back seat all to himself. It was my time to fill with cousins, and my aunt and uncle who lived nearby. I would go for Friday night sleep overs and play tag and go fishing and swim in the bayou with a gaggle of kids our age in their neighborhood; my cousin G much like me, M who was more social, and MM the baby...all of us yelling and screaming and playing games. Dad's sister, my Aunt E, although not a warm woman, gave me a gift I will always be grateful for; she was the first person to take me to live theater, and she made sure I went to the library on a regular basis.

My MawMa and I wrapped summer around each other. She told me of her life as a young woman, we went downtown every week, had lunch at Luby's, rode the bus. I would walk to the store and buy things on her 'credit'. I would read and she would say her prayers and we would nap in the afternoon...we are Sicilian. Mass and a huge family meal every Sunday. She catered to my odd food fancies (hello, Asperger's!) even when I wanted spinach every meal for two weeks. We had a tea party on Tuesdays', when I'd dig into the 'dressup' box, and wear make-up, and knock on her door and we'd bend our pinkies. We watched Lawrence Welk and I'd sing to her through the fan and we'd dance. She'd comb my hair, I'd comb hers and she'd tell me of her father, who once floated on a spar for a week in the Gulf of Mexico following a ship wreak. She could never speak of his death of Spanish Flu in 1918 without crying. I knew she played piano for the silent films. My best friend lived next door....we made mud pies, read under the mimosa tree from a huge chest of comic books, and drove her brother mad playing 'Heart and Soul'. They were summers that bled into each other, of heat rising from the streets, the smell of fresh linen, the ice cold taste of lemonade in the shade of the carport in the early evenings, and sleeping to the sound of a fan as moved back and forth in the night.

Are you wondering, Quin, how is this about one day, about the time by which I measured all the other days of my childhood?

Usually, my time to journey home from my sojourn was in mid-August. This particular year, both siblings were in existence... in fact, all of us were in existence by then, Aunt E's three and the three of us. And, the return came early, on my birthday, at the end of July. We were their only cousins, so, getting together was always a good time.

My Uncle was an architect, and their house was amazing, with things found back then that builders didn't start putting in until recently. Shaped like an inverted U, with the master suite forming one side of the 'U', my cousin's bedrooms the other side, and the main portion of the house the flat part facing the street. There was a huge yard, that contained trees ,a croquet area, a treehouse and a large rose hedge that lined part of the back alley. Towards the glass walled atrium from the house to a brick patio was a huge oak tree with a fire pit. It was perfection in any child's eyes.

My birthday dinner was held the night before our going back to New Orleans, everyone under a large fan in the dining room. These joined meals held great interest for we children. Our eyes followed the adult conversations, especially since my mother and my aunt disliked each other with an intensity that was barely masked. Each had their own way of doing battle, Mother's voice soft, Aunt E's acid tongue could etch her words in steel...both voices coated in Southern tones. Slowly the other conversations would dwindle as they took each other on--Aunt E sipped her scotch, Mother had her gin and tonics... the barbs grew in sharpness. Cigarette smoke curled up to the slow moving fan as we all leaned back, making way for battle done by two true Steel Magnolias, eying each other down the dinner table with the same firm gaze Lee and Grant gave during the War.

"Why, P... what a clever little frock. I didn't realize people actually wore that style. Do you usually wear it when you sit around peas?" Her smile never quite made it beyond her perfect teeth.

"(polite laugh)I'm surprised you can see the style! I mean, you are still putting your scotch in your coffee every morning....aren't you?" Butter. Wouldn't. Melt.

Ice crystals filled the air. We never need the air conditioning turned on when they were together.... my father and uncle would roll their eyes, we children would giggle and my grandmother would leave the table and go lie down with a cool cloth over her eyes. Oddly, they had a begrudging respect for each other that remains to this day.

Dad and Sonny left the women to amuse themselves by seeing who could inflict the larger wounds, and went outside to start a fire in the pit under the oak tree. My dad gave his "Come here or die" whistle, which forced my cousin, G and I to forgo our anticipated evening activity of avoiding people and reading in solitude. Adding insult to injury, we were made to watch our youngest siblings, D and MM and join the group around the fire. To make up for this affront, we were offered the gift of s'mores and ghost stories.

It was almost a fair trade.

Along with the herd of family came a few neighborhood children, the Barr twin, Hershey and Candice (yes, those were their names) and two others who go nameless into history. We all settled down with sticks, marshmallows, shadows and stories.

Years of being in the Boy Scouts had honed my father's story telling skills so he knew when to drop his voice, when to hit you with the punch line, causing you to jump, even when you knew every word by heart. Food was forgotten, marshmallows burned in the fire, chocolate melted on our fingers as we listened to the story of the hook man and the lovers lane couple...his versions of Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft were retold for our pleasure... our eyes gleamed in the firelight. Sonny excused himself during all of this, and none of us paid any attention to his leaving.

A full moon rose over the roof of the master suite, illuminating everything with that deep silver glow you find in the South in the summer. By this time, Mother and Aunt E had put aside their differences, but not their drinks, coming out to sit on the patio, smoke and listen to my dad's bass tones. All you could hear was my father's voice as it rose and fell, the open mouth breathing by the younger children, and the occasional slap to kill a mosquito.

He was in the midst of a hellish story about zombies... we heard it....a moan. Not just..a moan. It was...Deep. Reverberating. Lifted from the depths of a harrowed soul. Gurgling. Rising to a grinding cry....and it came from... behind us. Dad stopped talking, his voice carried a note of fear...and there it was--again. Deeper. Louder. Closer? We turned as one, and There, on the roof....over the master bedroom. Silhouetted against the moon, it stood, in a dark cloak held out, with a white face, and The laugh of all the lost souls of time issued forth from it's mouth!

There was a collective gasp so solid, so severe, so sharp, the leaves on the oak we sat beneath moved downwards. Nothing else moved for a nanosecond...until on the exhale of that gasp came a scream from ten throats in a variety of tones as we surged upwards and scattered, adrenaline pumping, walking on coals, on my father, G and I walked over our charges, leaving them to fend for themselves. His brother, M, and the Barr kids went down the alley to the Barr home... later to be found hiding in the pantry with a knife and praying the rosary. The nameless kids ran though a rose hedge, causing huge gashes in their arms and legs, leaving scars and forever ruining the roses. The GC went directly up the tree, having to be helped back down later....the nearest branch was seven feet off the ground.

We never figured out how he managed to get up there.

As I lay under the farthest corner of the bunk beds, I could hear laughter... from my father who was slapping out the coals on his pants from his tumble into the pit, from Sonny who slipped and fell off the roof.... I believe the women peed, they laughed so hard. Now, I firmly believe everyone should laugh at least once in your life so hard that you pee, however, I'm not so sure it's when your children are fleeing in terror. It took an hour to find everyone and calm them down.

It was the day, the time by which I measured all the other the days of my childhood. It was a story that always made my dad laugh. A story that, no matter how things are in my family, can make us start to smile when one of us begins a line with, "Remember when Sonny got on the roof..."? To go to that time when two men plotted.....

A time when our hearts fluttered while we scattered with frightened delight into a firefly filled July night.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Cars, Trips and Things That Go Bump In The Night~ I

Bill from Gainesville startled me when he said I write about life.

After some thought, I'm afraid he's right... only, I don't write it in a funny way, or catching the sharp edge of it; I don't dwell in the exciting parts, I do not make this a better world...those in the list on the left side do all of those things. I tend to actually make this an "i was here" blog, as much as I'd love to think I don't. Hell, look at the title: Fuck Me Dead~ Life, at least my version of it.

Bad grammar, but, it's the truth.

Today was a tough day, and I am not done with the ramifications of all that occurred. DebB's cool head came through, and she put things into motion that may have changed a life. She will always be in my prayers for that mitzvah.

So, I'm going to treat myself... the following is something that combines subjects I've wandered though this month... cars, trips, fear and my dad. It's in two parts, I apologise for that. I wrote it first as a story about my father to the Oddship... I tweaked it some, and on 2 June, I put it out in public for the first time on what would have been my Dad's 80th birthday. I've tweaked it again.... it's long, I promise that much.

I can also promise it was his favourite story about our family.
I love the book, The Road.

One line that stays with me, is when the father says, "....this was the time by which he measured all other days of his childhood."

I spent the bulk of my summers in Monroe, Louisiana, where my father's family had moved when he was four. My time to measure "...all other days of my childhood" was one evening in one of those summers, during an event plotted by my dad and my uncle.

My father was the eldest of his siblings, followed by his brother, Dominic, who died just before he turned five and my father was seven, the baby of the family was their sister, E, younger than dad by four years. The Summer started with our annual road trip to Monroe, which began the day before Dad's birthday, in order for him to be there with his mother, a wonderful, odd, Sicilian woman who loved him deeply, and who built her life around his well being. I was, as the eldest grandchild, her secondary purpose in life, therefore, dropping me off was a ritual, consisting of an hours long drive ending with an enormous meal that we were expected to consume when we arrived, no matter everyone was dead tired.

These are the rides that gave me such a dislike of cars, such angst even to think of them, that until I could control the steering wheel, I not only grew ill at the idea of road trips, but, of cars in general. I survived them when I held the wheel because I controlled the entire thing; I pointed, drove and was done as quickly as possible. I still hold them as something to do only when pushed, when I have absolutely no other choice.

To me, they were moving steel jail cells that encased my at the wheel, mother making bologna sandwiches on white bread with that nasty pinkish sandwich spread, chips, warm Barq's, and my mother's Golden Child, who always ignored the magic line down the middle of the back seat and encroached on my space. By the time my youngest brother was around, we had a station wagon, and the entire back area belonged to me and the luggage. Wonderful Samsonite making a barrier around my pillow and books and imagination that allowed me to survive, to ignore what was in front, to drift away.

In case you've not caught on, I was not a social child. In the train of life, I lived in a Private Car.

My side of the backseat contained my books, a pillow, a shared blanket and the Barbie I refused to play with. Since we often travelled to the home of someone who had a daughter, and I would not be allowed to sit and read in some small area, or up in a tree the way I felt I should be once I arrived, I knew I'd have to be 'social' and I knew I'd have to do the Barbie thing. She was put into the car for the trip, complete with her wardrobe in the nice shiny black case with the white 'BARBIE' in script on the front. My Barbie had a black haircut, and her head fell off on a regular basis. Actually, this made it easier to dress her.. I just popped off the head, threw on her clothes and there you are... instant out-of-proportion female body to aspire towards in your near future, including breasts with no nipples. Personally, I loved my Ken and his embossed jockey chance of sex education from Mattel! He, too, had body issues...his arm wouldn't stay on, so, eventually, I pinned up the sleeves on one side with little gold pins, and pretended he was a war veteran.

I wasn't good at Barbie.. my imagination didn't go down those lines. My Barbie was content to lie in her box and not talk to the other Barbies. She, too, was a Private Car dweller...she was a thinker, I said. She had little books I'd made her, and they were in her case. Neither Barbie nor I were popular. So, this was on my side of the invisible line...a line as solid as steel to me. On the other side was the GC's tonka trucks, some army guys and a colouring book with colours.

Oh, and it held the Golden Child himself.

My Dad would drive like mad down the two lane highway, both he and my mother smoking like trains, talking over the sound of the wind as it came through the wing windows. Mother's voice an Mississipppi accented flow of sound...Dad's a responding grumble... hashing out the day and week and eventually, their lives together, working themselves up to arguments that would do Edward Albee proud... They really were masters of that biting cruelty. The funny thing is, when she tells it, they were speaking sotto voce, and we didn't hear anything. However, I remember fights, smoke, JuicyFruit gum and Estee Lauder Youth Dew perfume, all crammed into that interior, swirled, smashed, sinking on me... any of those scents still makes me ill, especially when confined to a car.

The trunk of our Chrysler held their overnight bags-small suitcases, they only stayed until the morning after Dad's birthday-my big case for the summer, and the Coleman ice chest....packed with ice to keep the muffulettas from Central Grocery for my MawMa along with the olive salad in a separate container, cannoli from Brocato's on Carrollton, and Creole cream cheese... all her favourites from the city she was born and raised in. Sometimes, we brought boiled crabs or crawfish, if they were available on the way out of town, in shacks along the road on the bayou.

There was no air conditioning in our car. When we complained about the heat, Dad's standard joke was that we had 475 conditioning.. four windows down, doing 75MPH. For as long as the light held, I read, my book pressed close to my nearsighted eyes. Sometimes, I'd watch the fields go by...wondering who worked in them, what they looked like, how their lives went, seeing the shacks in the middle of cotton fields, with lines of clothes stretched out behind them. I'd watch the corn fields go by, loving that the rows between looked like the long legs of someone running as we drove past. Sometimes, Dad and I would sing, stopping only when the GC or Mom joined in... to say they couldn't carry a tune in a bucket is the kindest thing I can say.

That was the only kind of stopping we ever did. Those signs would be there, 'Come see the Beau's Alligator Farm! Biggest 'Gator in Five States!! Only Cruel Parents Wouldn't Stop Here!!' We didn't stop. 'Only 14 miles to the next Stuckey's!' Since we never stopped at one, to this day, I never understood the appeal of Stuckey's. Dad would not be swayed from his schedule. He actually made schedules for our trips, timetables a train conductor would envy. The trip from New Orleans to Boston one June still gives me nightmares... we camped out the entire trip, pulling a trailer. Camped out. For over 3000 miles. That trip alone constitutes it's own story. I don't camp anymore either. "NO RESTROOMS FOR 50 MILES!!" That didn't work, either. The only thing Dad found acceptable to stop for was to refuel. If you didn't have to pee when he stopped at that time, you were out of luck. To this day, the sight of a gas sign makes me have to go to the bathroom. Oh, and we went to every single Civil War site there was. He always stopped for those. Friends had Mickey Mouse tshirts, we wore Stonewall Jackson on ours. They went to Six Flags over Texas. We worshiped at the shrine of Jefferson Davis.

Hours would pass, and the GC would start to complain his stomach hurt. He'd alternate the complaints with kicking the back of Mother's seat. Eventually, her hand would swing over the bench seat, swatting at whomever she could reach. GC stayed curled up, I was leggy and had to stretch my feet to rest on the back of the front seat, so, I took the swats. I'd have to pinch him in retaliation. It seemed fair to me. He'd scream as if, well, soundly pinched. This would be the point where Dad would yell at Mother to deal with the situation, he was trying to drive, goddamnit, and she would yell back.. then, she'd turn around and bend over the seats, swinging away.

I've always said the behaviour of children in cars has decreased with the removal of the bench seat. No longer do you see cars hurtling down the highway with some mother's bottom framed in the windshield as she dealt with the recalcitrant children in the back seat of the family sedan...add to this is the knowledge that there was a good chance she wore a girdle and stockings, balanced a lit cigarette, kept her high heels from puncturing any of the upholstery and never smeared her lipstick proved her dexterity in this job. Truly, this is a lost art form.

We followed Louisiana Highway 61 (thank you, Bob Dylan) up through LaPlace, Baton Rouge, St. Francisville, Sarpy, connecting to another two lane highway, all of them dark, cutting through the small towns, we could smell magnolias and poverty when we stopped those few times, the milky beauty of one unable to override the weight of the other. Running to the bathroom, our feet would crunch on the crushed shells that make up so many walk ways in the lower portion of the state. We'd breath in the heavier bayou air, fearful of the shadows formed by the single yellow lightbulb, the moths that caught in my hair, the men who leaned against the RC cooler and spoke in some patois we didn't know, and of what we swore were alligator eyes staring out from the slime covered water.

Back in the car, and depending on the length of the trip and how bored he was, GC continued to work on his real or feigned carsickness with the deft touch of a master.

"Ohhh, my head. Let me put my head in your lap, Sis."


I knew what would happen. I'd have to keep the window to a crack, and not move. Since it was too dark to read, I dreamed, and wanted to be left alone.


The front lines of war started again...usually, they had both left directly from work to start to the trip, and were tired from the get-go. If we'd picked up seafood, it was starting to waft into the interior of the car, and there were always mosquitoes buzzing about, since Mother wouldn't allow the front windows to go all the way down. Dad would tell her to do something, anything to shut up that highly pitched sound. Mother and I would have the "why do I have to let him by me because I said so but why he will throw up on me no he won't yes he will do it or I'll beat you" discussion. That ended it, and I had to allow him to cross that line, and put his head in my lap, and proceed to complain every time I breathed.

That wasn't the main strategy, though. Oh, no...that was just the tease to the Big Show. He'd wait until he was really starting to feel ill... when he could time the amount of smoke in the car, that the two combatants in the front seat were at a breaking point, the fact I could no longer read.. and we were between two rest stops, neither within easy driving distance. He'd sit up, and scoot back, huddling on his side.. gagging. I knew it was coming. I'd curl into my corner, as tight as I could get.

"Momma.. he's going to throw uphe'sgonnathrowuphe'sgonnathrowup." My refrain didn't halt, as he inched his way back over, holding my eyes... working it.. working it.. and when he got right on me... up it came. On me. On Barbie's case....well, granted, that was no loss. On my books. On my side of the magic line. Mission accomplished, he'd burst into tears and move back over to his pristine seat, looking wan and pathetic.

He was a master.

Dad would curse and yell, Mother would shout back he should have stopped at the last rest stop... the car careened over and slammed onto the kudzu covered shoulder while I sat still, arms extended from my body, in the remains of sandwiches, chips and Barq's. Doors were opened, he was pulled out, cleaned up and comforted..then I was changed, the whole time, the fight continued, low, sharp, edged with smoke and Wrigleys.

When done, the car aired, clothes changed, the stench lingered. All windows were down now, in spite of Mother complaining about her hair. The ice chest was moved inside, to his wheel well space, pillows put there, a little bed made, the blanket over him. At least I knew the line was solid now. We both started to drift off, the front seat voices truly lowered, the words marinated in distain, showing us how not to be married. Their tone was rhythmic, and we'd fall asleep to the lullabye of the arguments we knew by heart.

As his eyes slowly closed, CG looked over and smiled. Even now, I have to hand it to him.. he was good.

We slept on, by 1 A.M., the car would slow, bump over the curb, the porch light would be on... she'd come out....running to Dad, throwing her arms around him, kiss his face, her arms pulling us out of the back seat. Holding us, one arm on each, a tight nod to my mother who was of Irish descent, and not good enough. It didn't matter my PawPa had been Irish...he was dead, and therefore now sainted.

We ate, sitting beside her, falling asleep on the table. I was carried to 'my' room, everyone else shared the big spare. This was my room, always. It was ready, my little fan already going, the cotton sheets crisp and white and ironed. The books were lined up, the dresser drawers empty and sprinkled with lavender. My PawPa's photo was on my nightstand, the one with me sitting on his lap...

My summer was there, to start in 36 hours, when they left.

I could wait... my freedom started then.

Letting Go

I awoke early this morning.

I often have vivid dreams, in full colour, in black and white--the tie in is, they are vivid, so much so that when I wake, I have a difficult time separating myself from what is real.

My father died in November of 2005, just after Katrina struck New Orleans, he sat and watched his beloved city go under on the news, yelling at CNN. I lost him, however, a few years before, when Alzheimer's started to claim him.

HRH has had the good fortune to have her 'closing', her good dreams with my father in them... where they spoke and she knew all was well with the man she loved deeply, who loved her in return.

I've only had one, brief dream of my dad... it was an odd one, and in it, he brushed me off... not wanting to talk as I so needed to told me all was not done with us yet.

Early this morning, I had a long, long dream full of people I've not thought of in ages, of symbolic things (I wish I understood dreams!)....some made sense, as when The Investment picked me up, and my phone would fall apart...he's having problems rebuilding a car, I wish I knew what to do, he has no one to guide him.

Sometimes, I wish I hadn't focused on only being a mom.... and found someone to be a good dad for them.

The dream was all over the place--a puppy that wore a diaper, people from my past, huge black outs, a lamb I saved from jackals, a huge banquet inside with barren wasteland out...the main crux of it was this--my dad was there. He was eating dinner and talking and drinking and laughing... when this big dinner was over, we walked out, discussing all that had gone on, as we were wont to do... when a woman came over and said, "Aren't you dead?"

Dad responded, "Yes, but, I'm still here, so, I'm not sure what the hold up, I'm enjoying myself."

He was in great shape, his eyesight was perfect, he could hear, he walked his usual upright posture, but, no cane, his head of curly, white hair was still there, his full beard was back, and the glint to his brown eyes, it showed his mind was back to being a catalog of everything, his wit crystal sharp. We sat down and continued our discussion of why the A bomb being dropped really did save more lives in the end.... when the woman approached;

"They simply haven't found you... those who collect."

At that point, I looked over, and a nice man and woman were walking our way, and I knew. I put my arms around him, and said, "Please, let me keep him this way...just awhile longer."

They shook my hand, introduced themselves.... I could have a few moments to be with him, not even time to call my brother out...but, what they would give me was access to his memories.

Suddenly, I had all of his past, right there... perhaps it was things he'd told me, I don't know. I saw him going backwards, his pride in his grandchildren, saw him weeping when my mother left,the struggling to go to college and work and be a father... because he never thought he should have had children. The fulfillment he had in his education. I saw him in the Marines, in Korea, as a young Eagle Scout....I could see him as a teen, sleeping on his right side, dreaming of a girl he liked, smiling...there he was, still so sick with scarlet fever, sleeping in a train car, listening to his parents weep, knowing his younger brother, Dominic, was lying in a casket in the box car instead of him. He blamed himself the rest of his life for Dominic dying. Years later, he always said The Investment was how Dominic would have looked and acted...they have the same face at the age of 5, the same droll ways and the same birthday...who knows? I saw him as a baby, my MawMa's face bending over him, putting olive oil, her remedy to give good, thick hair, onto his scalp... making a curl.

He held me close, as he was only able to do in his later years... like me, not good with knowing how to touch. I turned to call to my brother, D, and....

.... he was gone.

I woke up, crying. I woke up because I miss my dad. We weren't this close family, it was hard and harsh and I was fortunate that I learned to love him as a friend, as someone I wanted to have for my dad.

I was fortunate I learned to do what he liked, that we had the same basic personality, that I understood how he functioned. I was fortunate I had him around the last years of his life, even if he was cranky, in love with Judge Judy, and had lost the will to live.

Perhaps it's his birthday coming up.... perhaps it's going back to where he died... perhaps it's many things I've still not dealt with, I don't know.

I only know, I woke up, crying... again a little girl.

And missing my dad.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Go West, Indeed

Moving time is creeping up.

Last year, I went west for a short period when HRH married, to put the house in order, have the Garage Sale and then, head back to New York, where I had planned on staying...having sold almost everything I owned, put my house on the market, figuring I'd be set here in New York.

Recession hit. My little House in the Land O'Utes didn't sell, and, I am heading back home to live there. As much as ich bien ein New Yorker, I can't carry on living on grits.

Now, I'm going back, to live on real food, in a fairly empty home. Remember the Garage Sale, and selling pretty much everything I owned??

Things change.

I will go from walking one kind of canyons to another.

I will find myself no longer surrounded by eight million of my closest unknown friends, where it takes me two hours to go five miles but, by 20 stoplights, and everyone I know in town is within a ten minute drive.

One Starbucks in town, instead of one on every corner. Not that it matters, I drink my coffee at a friend's shop on Main Street.

For once, I won't have a pet of any kind... this alone will be something to adjust to, not having even the glaooming rat chewing puppy upstairs who is currently snoozing on my leaking inflatable bed, her head on my feet... this will take getting used to.

I will return to a real bed. I have to admit, I am looking forward to not blowing up my bed on a regular basis.

I am moving from what is seen as a 'great' deal in New York, a nice sized basement apartment with free utilities and WiFi (and amazing landlords) to a house for the same price. I am giving up R and C... that part makes my heart hurt.

I gain The Investment and HRH and a gaggle of Neebes children and two Cheeky kids, each with their own delightful way about them.

I will take C home in my heart. He will always own a piece of it.

The WeatherGuy stays here, too... having taught me much. We are always in touch, and he still makes me laugh. My Oddship.. well, that is something fragile and beloved and each of us respects what the other can do, is thankful for the other's presence, and we stand back...I'm not sure why.

The films I see will no longer be nicked offline, but, once more, I'll sit there with my kids or Sisterwife, at the Church of The Cinema 8, where you can see a first run film for $4.50, and get the BigAssBucketSpecial (large re-filled popcorn, two large re-filled drinks AND a candy, thankyouverymuch) for $10.00. My thighs quiver at the thought.

I will go from nothing of mine, to a full yard, that needs planting and love and with luck, will again flourish. No more looking out over the skyline....instead, I can sit on my front swing, behind my iron fence, and look over 100 miles of open land, to the mountain range beyond. Clear skies and Orion are there, waiting. I won't see stars at the Waverly Inn or on Broadway, mine are above...

I still have three more plays to cram in, then, I'll be working on three plays. I am the Prop Goddess....I am not allowed near power tools. One flat still bears my blood because of said tools. Some think it is cursed, much like King's Mangler.

The ferry and subways will be a thing of my past, I-15 and the perfectly laid out streets of Utah will be my present. Norma and I will learn each other again, I will remember she is not drivable in the snow, and that I know more curse words that I know here, bringing them forth when people forget simple things like turn signals or to stop for a stop sign. They will learn that now I call everyone in the world, "Jack".

It's a 2366.72 mile drive, give or take. It may include a side trip to Texas, to pick up a friend there. Nothing like an extra week of driving to the woman who hates cars. Otherwise, it's I-70 straight to Utah, with a stop off in Denver to see the FMDkids there, then, a left turn on I-15, head straight south for 90 minues, and I'm home.

Home. At least for a bit.

You never know where you are going to land, do you?

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Okay, it started here.

Then, it went here. I don't know those people...but, I DO know WP. So, in spite of taking all precautions, I have a mild case of "Add Something To This".

Each section is in colours, which lets me play with part of the whole blogthingy that I seldom play with... then, I get to tag some people, and one of them has to do something, and they have to tag people, and eventually, it dies.

Without further ado:

Story Virus

From Splotchy, who started this thing:

I had been shuffling around the house for a few hours and already felt tired. The doorbell rang. I opened the front door and saw a figure striding away from the house, quickly and purposefully. I looked down and saw a bulky envelope. I picked it up. The handwriting was smudged and cramped, and I could only make out a few words.

He passed it to Bubs, who wrote...

I looked up and down the street but didn’t see any delivery truck, or any car for that matter. No FedEx, no UPS , no creepy-looking porno'd-out conversion van with a half-assed delivery service sign taped to its side. Nothing. It's like delivery man just disappeared. I stepped back inside, re-set the deadbolts and took a closer look at the envelope.

Mentally I ran through the checklist of letter bomb warning signs. The handwriting on the envelope, smudged and cramped as it was, was laid out in a tiny, obsessively neat block lettering. It practically screamed recently-de-institutionalized loner with time on his hands. No ticking or whirring sounds, that’s good. No odd smells, no leaks or stains on the package. Check. Weight seemed evenly distributed, that’s good too. I decided to open it.

Inside I found a plane ticket to Pensacola, a business card for a lawyer in Niceville, five crisp $100 bills and a four page handwritten note. Well. This was different. I poured a cup of coffee, threw some meat to the dogs to stop em barking, and sat down to read.

Then, Write Procrastinator caught it, and typed out:

Now I knew that Niceville is the home of Mullet Festival and by that, I mean the fish and not the god awful hairstyle. Also, Elgin Air Force base was just a hop, skip and a jump from there, but beyond that? I’ve never been in that part of woods nor do I believe that I knew anybody down there.

The four page letter was a missive from my friend from the first Gulf War, Henry Lemon. The lay out of the four pages was odd; the first page said “this money is just a small example of the money to be had.”
The second page said “opportunities and riches abound here!”

The third said “I know that I can trust you to keep this in confidence, but if you somehow have changed since the time we saved each others lives? Know that there is far more money to be made than what is in this envelope.

The fourth page said “now, get down here as soon as you can. I need a good and loyal man, that I know will have my back.”

Being a sharing kinda guy, he zipped it my contribution is as follows:

Sadly, the only good and loyal man who would have his back was our mutual friend, my roommate, Hal Stuef, but, I figured, fuck it, and took the plane ticket, the money, packed a bag and left.

Settling into my seat on Good Luck Sucker Airline, I had a drink and a couple of bags of their famous bagged snack nuts. Sure, the bags read PanAm, and there was that musty scent to them... but, you got hooked on the flavour. Some said it was a rare mold that built up in the snack bags—whatever, they were a sought after snack. One that let you forget the time, space and on occasion, you saw the face of God.

Tying my seat belt snugly around my waist, I cranked the window closed and hoped I didn’t have one that whistled this flight. I relaxed, the PanAm snack nuts had that effect, and closed my eyes, I thought about what was ahead…. Henry, good ol’ Henry! After this long, it would be great to see him again! The last time we’d been together, we were both wearing girdles, bras and running for our lives. Yeah, those were the days, my friend!

I turned to my seat partner, Gandhi, and mentioned the white outfit he had on was rocking. He nodded and said it was a little somthing he'd put together for the flight.

Next thing I knew, we were landing...


So, off it goes....


Prince, because he can go on and on about Zac and I can't discuss the artists I think are amazing

The Dramatic One

Coast Rat

Add your bits here, and on your own bit of cyberspace, and tag or whatever. I am now clear of my virus.


Friday, May 16, 2008


My overactive imagination will be the death of me yet.

Walking down the street tonight, I could hear the tail end of an argument between a woman standing in the doorway of a house I passed, lights on in the room behind her, sounds of a family inside muffled.... and the man who stood below her, one foot on the last step... rain drizzling down on him as he lifted both his head and his voice to continue what had obviously been going on before I came upon them.

"Don't come here again without telling me first, you know the Court Order!", she hissed, I could see her gripping her elbows with the opposite hands, in the classic outraged stance.

"You are going to fuck with me once too often... you've done it now, you fucking bitch!"

The challenge was given as I crossed the far end of their lawn, "What are you going to do about it, pussy?".

I cringed, waiting for the MK-47 (is there such a weapon?) to come blasting out, blowing her and me into the next world in a spray of bullets, knowing I would die because she had pushed his buttons once too often.

Thankfully, she just slammed the door in his face.

I worry all the time about being sliced and diced by unknown assailants who slide in at the last minute into the drugstore, as I'm waiting, the only person there, buying a box of pretend Kleenex and a Mounds bar. While I wait, fidgeting in the dim light as the clerk calls for a price check, I imagine the NYPost headlines the next day:


"We didn't even know they still made the clear barrel Bic Pens", says the Staten Island Police Chief, who wishes to remain anonymous. "I was pretty shocked, I can tell you. So, I made sure to pick some up for my son. The CSI unit said the blood should clean off pretty easily."

I tremble when I go from the train to my little flat on a dark and stormy night, knowing in the shadows, zombies lurk. Beneath the sounds of the leaves scuttling across a lawn, I can hear their shuffling feet and their huffing breath. Well, maybe not the breathing, but, well, you know... there is a reason I keep my hair short, and it's not just because it's bad hair. All of the people with long hair...they can grab it when you are running, and they shuffle behind you. Think about it, everyone with a mullet....aside from being a poor hairstyle choice, you are prime zombie food. Cut your hair! Organise before they rise!

I worry every bit of rat or mouse poo will give me Hanta Virus. I'm not sure what Hanta Virus does, but, I know I'll get it.

Mosquito bite? Each of my 4762 bites is surely infected with Nile Virus.

If any skunk in existence has rabies, it's the one that makes my Utah backyard his home.

During a storm, I can actually see the tree limb being struck by lightening, and falling on me, leaving me helpless on the deserted street.... with no life alert bracelet to activate.

Put me on a ferry, and I will build any number of stories, good or bad, about those around me... people have moved after I've stared for too long. Maybe it's the fact I have cried on occasion, and whispered, "I'm so sorry!".

When someone is sick, I let them die, have the funeral, and bury them...especially my children when they were young. HRH was very ill as a baby... that, I think, was a protective thing on my part. I did it in my head, so, should it have happened, I was ready.

I live in my head far too much at times, I see shadows and monsters and when Steven King's 'Salem's Lot came out, I actually hung a crucifix over my bed and had a jar of chopped garlic (it was all we had in the icebox) next to my bed. They could come in and suck the blood of the Godmother and her son, but, I'd be the Survivor.

I do the entire scenario in my head....plot, script, voices, cast and crew. I even include food services and a union rep. If nothing else, I try to be considerate for all of those contained in my cranium creations.

I have always been this way... as a child, I would pray every night for God to NOT pick me to be one of the chosen for the Blessed Virgin Mary to appear to, in order to be made holy and one of those who would be sainted.

First of all, I was nearsighted, and I'd have to get right in her face to see who it was.... this does not make a good first impression on the BVM. There she is, hovering above the floor in your bedroom... roses at her feet, and you are on tiptoe, nose to nose saying, "Who ARE you?" I don't see her taking lightly to this kind of treatment.

Secondly, my long held, and oft voiced, belief that it's bad luck to be chosen. You tell someone who tells someone and next thing you know, you are whisked off to Rome, spilling the Holy Secret to the Pope, who puts you into a Convent where you wear cheap wool or worse yet, polyester, and you have to remain silent and ask for forgiveness for the world's sins. Then, you die young of consumption or anal fissures or huge gaping wounds or something equally gross. You don't get to have fun things like Tourettes or pretend Tourettes and scream and throw yourself about and have people say, "Oh, isn't she holy spouting off all those curse words!".

Up side? Fast track to sainthood, bypassing even Mother Theresa.

It was a real fear, ask my family.

I used to fear someone breaking into the house and killing us all. I felt it was best to be the survivor, who would bravely carry on. That plot, too, was in my head.... the murder, the police, the funerals.... I'd cry. But, I had to survive first. The question was, how to do it?

My bedroom was on the ground floor of our house in Colorado. On the same floor was a minute (5x5) bathroom my mother decorated in white, cerise and chartreuse. This included one full wall of foiled wallpaper in those colours that reflected in the mirror hung under a bright white light.

I don't know why.

We never knew how she found wallpaper with those colours in it, to be honest. I do know you didn't want to turn the light on when you came home drunk, to find the wallpaper suddenly swirling about and reflected in the mirror, all pinky purple and a green that is best seen in a liquor bottle. Trust me on that one.

It also held the laundry room. That held my salvation.

I practiced waking up, something I can actually do when I wish, at a particular time.. go figure... I would wake up, and snap the covers on my bed, stealthy creep out the door which I kept well oiled, slide down the hallway, and into the laundry room. There, I eased open the dryer and curled up inside the dryer, pulling the door shut.

I was safe while my family was being slaughtered upstairs.

My dog learned to ignore me, I had never moved much in my sleep.... a habit I learned young, and sleeping with my maternal MaMaw, with whom I shared a bed for a bit, and who told me things under the bed would pinch me--actually, it was her--so, I lay in one spot... I'd roll out, creep out, slither my17 year old, 5'7", 108lb frame down the hall, into the dryer and PRESTO!!

Sole survivor. Outwit. Outlast. Outplay. Who needed Jeff Probst?

This remained my clever scheme until the night I dozed off a bit inside the was warm in there. I was brutally awakened by my mother, who had come in late and decided to do a load of laundry... she opened the dryer to put in the wet clothes and found me; curled up and asleep.

"Quin Anne...what in the hell are you doing??"

I screamed, my voice echoing in the enclosed space. I think I peed a little in fear.

It ended my dryer plan... I heard her go upstairs muttering to my father "I'm telling you, there is something wrong with that child." She also told everyone we knew about finding me in the dryer.... not seeing my brilliant plan, only finding amusement in my being curled up with a few towels and a bra.

I'm still impressed I fit.

I quit putting my feet near the bed when I get in it... again, demons under it...when I was around four, and it's something I still don't do.. you never can tell, and I'm not going to look to confirm if the old lady was lying or not. That also stops me from letting any portion of my hands or feet go from under the covers.

All I know is, one day, I'm going to have my imagination going, and something is going to happen...

And all of you naysayers will be proven wrong with thinking me wrong.

Just remember, he who laughs last is really screaming in fear.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Wandering Ranter, I

What is pretty?

I watch America's Next Top Model... yes, I know, go on, call me whatever, but, I like the show, and whomever 888770 is on youtube is, I want to thank you... without them, I'd have had to go without my fix since I've moved... all of my television viewing is done via my trusty laptop.

Plus, watching it via youtube lets me skip past the blah blah parts and get to the important stuff...the shoots, the judging, and Miss J taking the voted off model's name every week.

This year, I rooted for Lauren, the tall lanky model who had never worn heels from Brooklyn, and Whitney, the model who announced she had "...boobs, hips and a booty, and I'm proud of them. I won't change for anyone."

Lauren made it fairly far in the competition, then failed when it came time to do a commercial... the camera and memorising lines did her in... she was not moved on to be ANTM.

Off came her name from the jacket.

I put all my hopes on Whitney, even though she was in the bottom two on four occasions. She ate like a normal person, she was built like a normal person... she was proud of her body, full and rounded and lush.

She won.


Pretty, um, special.

I also have tickets to see Neil LaBute's new play, reasons to be pretty, as part of my MCC membership. It's the third in a trilogy that started with The Shape of Things, and moved on to Fat Pig--all three plays about America's obsession with looks.

I don't know when I'll see the play, I've not made my reservations yet... I admire LaBute, I find his work to be sharp, he digs down and I find connections to my own life, especially in last year's production of In a Dark, Dark House, that often set me back... I wonder if he has read my secret diary that doesn't exist, listing my fears and emotions from my childhood.

His wit can cut wounds so deep and quickly, you don't know they are there until you see the blood dripping. The man can write. So, I'm anxious to see pretty... a point.

I have to ask myself, after watching ANTM.... what is pretty? The premise behind the LaBute play is a comment made by a man about his girlfriend... well, let me quote:

"Greg's tight-knit social circle is thrown into turmoil when his offhanded remarks about a female coworker's pretty face (and his girlfriend's lack thereof) get back to said girlfriend........."~Playbill

There is more to the plot line, but, this is the part I'm focused on, and am thinking of, along with Whitney and her win on ANTM.

What is pretty, and what are the reasons to be pretty?

There were a huge (no pun) number of comments made about Whitney's success on the show, all focused on her 'plus' size. The fact she has a stunning face, even sans make-up, was often put aside.

I've seen photos of the two actors who play the women in the play, and neither are near the word plain or average. How do you act 'plain'?

We focus so much on looks, in this country especially... that it is an obsession. From the moment my children were born, my mother spoke of how beautiful they were. Granted, I think they are lovely... but, I did my best to raise them to see their full potential, not a face. They are your basic people... with features arranged in a pleasing fashion. They are also bright, talented, loving, witty and they put up with me.

I was not brought up in the same way. I'm not going into it, my children do read my journal... my past pain isn't necessary to make a point... what does need to be said is, in a place, in a country, in a world where how you are perceived can actually create the way you live....when no matter how you actually look..,.the face/body you see in the mirror is the one you carry in your head... words said to a child linger on into adulthood, and sometimes never go away.

I am an average, plain woman. I am not going to curdle milk or anything, but, I'm not going to stop traffic. There was a long time in life where I railed against my fate... I have a mother who is still, in her last quarter of life, a beautiful woman. My Aunt A is like her, both with the strong Gaelic facial structure that allows them to grow older and stay beautiful. My mother exudes pheromones like nobodies business, I've gone out with her, and seen men bypass me to flirt with her...

I do not have this gift.... or is it one?

Here is where I stand... I'm okay with how I am, finally. I wish we didn't raise up younger and younger girls to the place where I see 10 year old kids trying to look 15. I wish men (sorry guys!) didn't put the burden on 'mature' women to struggle to look younger, because they seek out young women instead of realising it is okay to date and have relationships with someone your age. I wish we could be more like the Europeans, and grow old with grace and joy... I wish we wouldn't say to our daughters, "Well, at least you have nice eyes."

I wish I'd stop wanting to put my breasts back where they used to be, and understand that using scotch tape to hold my upper eyelids firm and taunt by pulling them up and taping them to my forehead really isn't going to work... and people aren't saying anything to me because this is New York... and I ride the 'F' train... and people on the 'F' train are strange. The reasons to be pretty still niggle at me enough, I do want my breasts back higher... my eyes are fine. I pretend the tape isn't there, and the hell with those who say it is.

So, Whitney won ANTM, there is a final play in a group whose second offering I never want to see again, because it made me sob in pain.... and I give up on America accepting we are what we are... be comfortable with it, why doncha? More interesting is, this applies to women far more than men.

I saw a dating test online once... I answered the questions the same way, as a man and as a woman.... I only altered one area... the amount of money made per year. Being a mature woman, my chances in the dating pool were slim, even though I listed myself as making over $100K a year. As a man, I was hawt.

I guess even cash can't make up for some things.

What is pretty? Why is pretty?

Shakespeare said in Love's Labours Lost

Good Lord Boyet, my beauty, though but mean,
Needs not the flourish of thy praise:
Beauty is bought by the judgement of the eye,
Not utter'd by the base sale of chapmen's tongues.

(and you wonder why it's taking me months to read his complete works??)

I think Margaret Wolfe Hungerford (no relation to our Margaret) said it best:

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

I guess she forgot that if you aren't pretty to begin with, no one looks to see if what is behind the face is interesting, witty, bright and true.

Shame, really.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Wheels On The Cars Go Round and Round


I am not a fan of this beast--I've stated this before, I'll state it now, and in the future, I'll wave the nozzle of the gas pump I'm at (with luck I'll remember not to be holding down the pumping thingy) and say it again.

I grew up in the days before seat belts. I actually remember my car had a little steering wheel on it, and a yellow horn in the middle of it. I don't remember much else years 1-3, but, I remember that. It hooked on the back of the great bench seats that were essential in keeping control of children in the back seat.

I rode with two people who weren't fond of each other. This condition never improved in my life with them.

The cars changed, the addition of two younger siblings were put into the mix....but, they didn't change.

I found comfort sitting in the wheel well area of the backseat... back behind my father's seat, I'd soak up the heat from the floor, refusing to move even in the summer when it was almost unbearable. I loved the safety of the space. I suppose it was the same reasons I liked to lie under my bed... enclosed spaces made me content. For as many years as I was able to squeeze into that small area, I'd curl up there, resting my head on the hump which I was pretty certain some genius had built just for me... I was upset when I finally grew too leggy to fit, and had to move up to the seat itself, which brought on it's own set of problems.

Lying there, the words coming from the front seat wove and drifted above me, a cloud far above my head, only a few sifting down to my level, the rest flowing out the back windows along with the ash and poisons of their cigarettes, the open window ventilation carrying everything out-- cleaning, for a moment, the air I breathed of both sets of toxins.

Our cars changed over the dad was a Chrysler man, the models changed, the maker stayed the same. It helped his cousin had dealerships.... he stayed with that line of cars until he discovered Toyotas.

It was the same time he grew out a beard and started wearing jesussandals. He was a radical like that.

I hunched in a corner of the back seat of our various cars until we bought the station wagon, a godsend to me.... I was allowed to take over the back section, complete with the rear facing seat, for myself. If we were traveling, I piled the suitcases around me for protection--what did Ralph Nader and those people know about little white dummies flying around in case of an accident? I had Samsonite protecting me! On long journeys, I drifted into a self hypnotic state, reading and falling into the worlds I read about, becoming every character, wondering whose voice was in my head, as the words ran through my brain. I watched the road, from my back facing position, not wondering what was ahead, I was always interested in the there and gone. I could sit and drift and let the history of our trip roll out behind me, voices and words from the front a blur.... I was very happy that way.

I still do car trips best as a driver... and I do them by getting in, pointing the car in the direction it needs to go, and getting there.

You have not lived until you've driven from Denver to New Orleans in a van in July with a control freak for a husband, a fused neck in a brace and five children under the age of 14. If you can, try and lock your 3 year old in the car at some point during this trip, making sure she remembers it in detail, and tells everyone how you tried to kill her. Add in a brush with a hurricane and it all adds up to a great time.

I've had cars of my own....a Jeep that hit a skunk at one point in it's life, causing me to sell it; whenever it got hot, the stench filled the interior. And, let's face it, I am not a Jeep kinda gal. I had a Corvair. Damn you Ralph!!! I had a Karmin Ghia, with a Porsche engine. It was cute and sweet and it was murdered by a 1975 Dodge that hit me broadside at 60 mph. Someone was watching over me while I flipped in the air twice. There was the 1973 MBG-GT. The 1989 Mazda RX7. The single year cars, most of them used, all driven by a woman with a lead foot. I moved onto vans and the SAAB 900, and the ubiquitous minivan, Norm. Currently, I have Norma--lovely, safe, loves her mechanic, Norma Desmond.

I didn't like any of them... steel boxes that trapped me on a road I didn't like, that brought me memories I couldn't block. I want go where I have to go, without an internal combustion engine. The past rises up to smother me, in ways I cannot deal with in a practical way. Thus, when I find myself in a car, I try to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible. Oddly, I've only had three speeding tickets in all my driving life. Even delicious road trip food doesn't help--who can not love crispy Cheetos and diet Pepsi? Stopping at the delights of side shows along the lines of the recreation of Stonehenge made of cars or the biggest ball of twine in Minnesota can only slightly make me do the happy dance. I will admit I'm a sucker for postcards and really bad magnets, but, that's about it.

There's a great chance I'm going to end up doing a road trip in June from New York to the Land O'Utes to move my stuff back there.... a road trip. In a small car. Days driving. Granted, it will be with The Investment, and I get to choose the music, and we'll do the stopping and stuff. Still, it's a road trip. In a car.

And, I. Don't. Like. Cars.

Monday, May 12, 2008

One Last MeMe

Write Procrastinator gave me this.

It's the last one I do...

Ten Years Ago:

I was struggling to raise my children on my own. I attended law courses on state grants to write my own briefs because I couldn't afford an attorney, I was depressed, and I burned furniture in the winter. Good times.

Five Things on Today's To-Do List:

1. Watch "La Vie en Rose"
2. Write something....oh, does this count?
3. Laundry
4. C & R day!
5. Pretend I'm productive

If I Were A Billionaire:

You mean when I'm a Billionaire (and now I have that stupid "If I Were a Rich Man" tune in my head)

Three Bad Habits:

1. I squeeze toothpaste from the middle of the tube.
2. I talk in films, doing the six degrees of separation thing and complaining about continuity.
3. I will not eat in front of people I don't know.

Five Places I've Lived:

1. Colorado
2. Mississippi
3. Arizona
4. Louisiana
5. New York

Five Jobs I've Had:

1. Demonstrating how to play a dulcimer at a shop in Grand Lake, Colorado.
2. Cooking lunch for a bank's employees
3. Production Stage Manager
4. Travel Agency Manager
5. Bingo Goddess

I'm NOT tagging.