Saturday, December 30, 2006
I do fine with assignments. Tell me what to write about and I can whip up a story in five minutes flat. But leave me to my own devices and I struggle for hours with characters and genres. It's miserable. I envy painters; they never have to look at white canvas. Just paint the whole thing black and then add color over that! But a writer can't paint the screen, or the journal, black before writing. We are left with either blank and unforgiving pages, or pale blue lines underscoring words we haven't penned yet.
And here is my husband, grammatically challenged as he is, showing me how easy it is to come up with a subject, characters, settings, plot-twists! It's unfair. How can a man who doesn't know a semi-colon from an apostrophe come up with a story to tell? How does he tell it? And I, who should probably limit myself to editing others' prose, cannot come up with one opening line.
Even the computer is against me! My spellcheck won't open. I apologize to the two readers I know I have, as well as the ones my ego tells me I must have. Now if you'll excuse me, this has-been has three chapters left in Dorian Gray to finish. Good night.
Monday, December 18, 2006
Remember, Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of a child born from a woman without the touch of a man.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Boy has this year gone by fast. It's hard to imagine it was a full twelve months ago that Grandpa got frostbite sitting drunk on the lawn waiting to catch the neighbor stealing the newspaper. But he's been blessed this year, with the good lord guiding him through his surgeries and Jesus holding him up as he learned to walk without pinky toes.
This has certainly been a busy year for us. Angie's in chemo again, but the doctors are telling us she may be able to keep the leg this time. And after months of exhaustive testing, we have finally learned who the father of Judy's baby is and are expecting the first child-support check any day now. I suppose most of you already know that a combine fell on Bert last November, but he is expected to regain the use of his arms again by spring, and may even be able to get off disability if the ACLU lawyers can convince the local McDonald's to lower the fryer to a wheel-chair accessible height.
We thank all of you who came to Sherry's wedding this spring, and who supported her in the divorce the month before. She seems to have finally found the right man in Jim, and we hope that with his love and support that she will be able to stay clean for good this time. She plans to get the help she needs just as soon as she can find a qualified clinic more than 500 feet from any schools or daycares so that her new husband can come visit her on weekends.
Yes, we certainly have been blessed this year. And we thank all of you who continue to keep us in their prayers. Let's all ask for the strength we will certainly need to drive cross-country to visit Jordan in Leavenworth, since we still can't get Shawn's name off the no-fly list.
Wishing you all a blessed Christmas Season,
The Smith Family
Saturday, December 16, 2006
To ask a question, post it as a comment to this or any future advice-related post. I will answer all posts no matter how stupid or insignificant the question, so anything from "How do I get crayon off the walls?" (toothpaste and a toothbrush) to "How do I come out to my parents?" (just tell them, but have a back-up place to crash if you'll need it) is okay to ask. I may not have the answers to everything, but then again if you're willing to ask advice over the internet, neither do you. I do have, however, an endless supply of opinions, as well as tons of trivial facts stored away. And I of course have plenty of free time and a google homepage.
So line up, send me your questions, and eagerly await my wisdom and advice. I expect exactly no comments to this post, but I will answer them if I get them.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
The problem with declaring "Happy Holidays" and "Season's Greetings" a war on Christmas, is that no one is actually aiming at Christmas. A war is when one side shoots at the other, not when one side refuses to throw flowers at the other. The "holidays" part of "Happy Holidays" includes Christmas. It just doesn't exclude Hanukkah or Kwanza or any other seasonal winter holiday. Refusing to exclude a large portion of their customer base does not constitute declaring war on Christianity, Christians, or Christmas. It's just common business sense. And more, it's common courtesy, something the religious right seems to have abandoned long ago. Which brings me to the next, and probably oldest, battle in the current War On Hanukkah.
Jesus Is The Reason For The Season! Oh that's arrogant on so many levels. For one thing, the season is winter. And it's more the Earth's orbit than Jesus that causes that. Another thing, this was considered the holiday season by many people long before Christ. It was Hanukkah in the Jewish world, which happens to come on December 16 this year (and will actually begin on December 25 in ten years), and it was Yule in most of Europe. In fact, the modern date of December 25 was only declared to be Christ's birthday by Christians trying to convert the European pagans. Let them have their winter holiday; just change the purpose to one we like better. That's where the tree and the garlands of berries and the yule log come from: a holiday celebrating Nature. One more arcane piece of trivia: That Heavenly glow around the Virgin Mary's head showed up in paintings coincidentally when Christian iconicism started to replace paintings of an equally glowing sun-god. But the point is this: Jesus is NOT the reason for the season, not for everyone. And even to those who celebrate Christmas it's not always about Jesus. I celebrate Christmas. I have a tree and stockings and I put out cookies for Santa. But despite the heirloom nativity, I do not celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday. Christmas to me means so much more than that. It is a time for family and giving, peace on Earth, goodwill towards man, and hope. Christmas to me is red-faced babies gumming sugar cookies. It's the look on someone's face when they open that one perfect gift. It's watching my eight year old daughter carefully choose what she wants to buy her Dad based only on what she thinks he will like best. It's spending two hours boiling cream and sugar down to caramel with her, and then tying ribbons around jars of the candies for teachers. Christmas to me is about togetherness, a break from our differences, a time to relax and celebrate life and hope.
Maybe if the Bill O'Reillys of the world would be willing to try that, maybe if they would make a batch of caramels or a plate of cookies instead of a political statement one year, they may actually get it. Happy Holidays isn't a code for anything, and it's not a passive aggressive attack on Christmas. It's just wishing people, all people, happiness on whatever holiday they might have. And wishing others happiness regardless of their religion, is what I always thought Christians were supposed to do.
Monday, December 04, 2006
*For a hint, scroll down to my very last post.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
See, Bush is bad for the country. I firmly believe that and have never seen any evidence to the contrary. But Bush was good for the Democratic party. Bush did more for the democrats than Kennedy ever could have. And so we won. But now, Bush seems to be conceding a lot. Rumsfeld got canned, Bush has been playing nice with Pelosi, all in all he's a better president now than he was. And that's unfortunate, because this nation has a short memory and in two years, the hatred for his party that got the dems into Congress won't be as intense. And that increases the chance of another Republican president. If he would just keep equating valuing soldiers' lives with siding with terrorists, if he would just keep spouting bullshit about Stay the Course vs. Cut and Run, if he would only consider continuing to mindlessly bash all democrats, liberals, gays, non-Christians, etc, for another two years, we might have it made. But no, now he will have to tone down the stupidity and limit himself to Borat-like idiocy in speeches. He's not going to declare himself The Decider anymore, and that hurts the Democrats.
I'll admit it, I voted almost exclusively for Democrats, the only exception being a local election where I knew the candidate (what party ties can the Regional Superintendant Of Schools have anyway?) so I am to blame too. But what choice did I have? Vote for Republicans? No way. And that's obviously how voters across the country felt as well. But Bush seems to have some reasonably intelligent advisors now, and he seems to be listening to them. History may even end up remembering him in a full-length bus, against all evidence. I believe it is important in the long run for Bush to "stay the course" in his own view of Iraq. Two more years in Iraq under Bush could get us out of there six months after the inauguration. If he starts to waver though, we may end up with another Republican who would probably keep us there throughout another term.
I support taking action against North Korea; they actually have the bomb, and they shoot it at us. Sure, they miss, but they shoot it. But we had to be in Iraq, because maybe Saddam had some kind of weapon. But when Kim admits that he has nuclear weapons, and he tries to blow up Hawaii for fun, The Decider, now sharing his toys with the Democrats, decided to take swift action, and cut off Kim's supply of iPods.
The problem is the Republican defense philosophy, which is somewhat similar to that of a drunk chick in a trailer park. Saddam pissed off Bush Sr, so Bush Jr runs out screaming "My name is Inigo Montoya!" and starts pulling down statues all over Iraq. I believe the war cry was "Oh no he di-int!" (possibly with some sort of Zorro-like finger snapping). George Bush took to war like a woman in a Rikki Lake audience. And the rest of the Republican party seemed to eat it up like a Jerry Springer audience. Basically, in the world of talk show metaphors, I place the Republicans in with the paternity test and cheating husbands programs, while the democrats are somewhere between Dr Phil helping a dysfunctional family and Tony Danza interviewing Emeril. We're not as violent, but also not as bold at times.
I believe in diplomacy, and if that really doesn't work, I feel there is a time when troop deployment should be swiftly employed. I feel that getting soldiers killed should (gasp) be the last resort, not the first. War seems to be nothing more these days than a contest to see who will let more of their own people die. It's not technology; I'm not sure when the last time was that we didn't have a picture of our enemy shaking hands with a former US president. Our enemies are killing us with weapons we supplied them with. It's all very Orwellian. They're our allies! Uh...We hate them now, always have.
I will no doubt vote democrat in the next presidential election. But the primaries will be tough. Hillary may be the best for the job. I don't know since I'm pretty far from New York and New York senators aren't really publicized much here. But if we run Hillary against some handsome guy in a suit, I fear we'll have no chance. The female thing will screw her a little, sure. But having Bill standing behind her at the podium? Having every smear add focusing on her judgment in just staying married? Without Bush on our team I don't think Hillary can win. And make no mistake, Bush is on our team, in a strategy sense. He's the kid the coach puts on the field after betting on the other side. He's the guy who runs the ball into the wrong end zone. He's the best asset the DNC has.
Friday, December 01, 2006
The problem is, I don't shop at Kohl's very often. I'm not even sure there's supposed to be an apostrophe in the word Kohl's. So what would I do with $50 store credit? I called Jame. I figured, what single mother of three couldn't use some extra money during the holidays? So yesterday, we went to Kohl's.
The local Kohl's has the men's department up by the check-out counters, and Jame and I happened to spend quite a while deciphering men's jeans. Relaxed fit. Straight leg. Boot-cut. Straight boot-cut?!? We were working our way to the checkout lines when out of the corner of my eye a figure on a mannequin stand moved. I screamed.
Jame "What the hell?!"
At this point the lady on the mannequin stand (actually a big wood block with carpet nailed to it) jumped and stared at me.
Me "Um, I thought I saw a mannequin move, but it was just her."
I turned to the lady, who had already un-screwed the poor manequin's arms and stripped "him" to the waist, and asked the burning question.
Me "If the mannequins have molded hair the same color as their 'skin', why do they have nipples? I mean, it's not like the designer was going for realism." (You thought I was going to ask something else, didn't you.)
Mannequin lady I don't know. Why do they have privates?
Me They don't! Really? They have privates?
ML Yeah, sort of.
Now who could resist know what "sort of" means? So I did the only logical thing. I hopped up on the little carpeted wood block, pulled the waist of 'his' Dockers back, and peered into the shadowy depths of the mannequins pants.
As yet unnoticed high school science teacher only four feet away in the checkout line Charlene?
Uh oh. No one calls me that.
Jame Mr Buikema. Hi!
I felt my face grow hot and slowly stepped down off the mannequin stand, humiliated, and turned around. Sure enough, my old science teacher, and his wife, were trying not to laugh. And for the first time in years, I was blushing.
Mr Buikema was a good teacher, and a great guy. I flunked his class for two years writing poems during lectures, and he got me into a writing class. I never turned in homework, and filled out computer-graded test forms in Morse code, but he let me run my own experiments in the back room after class (I made elemental crystals). He understood that not everyone was passionate about the same subject he was, but he encouraged a thirst for knowledge no matter the subject. He cared about students, not scores. And he was always willing to demonstrate the answer to "Does sulfur melt?" by setting it on fire, thus enabling the entire third floor of the school to evacuate for the afternoon.
Jame and I explained as best we could just why I had been peering down the front of a male mannequin's pants, and as Jame started handing her purchases to a clerk Mr Buikema asked me how my daughter was doing. I told him about her, and her problems in school (due to being advanced), and he said she sounded like me. I believe his words were "What else could you expect when her mother has a 140 IQ?"
I don't remember being tested, I really don't. But I was always being tested for one thing or another. Remedial classes because of my grades, advanced classes because of my standardized test scores, and of course the California tests they made you take every two years. I always scored high (except for math; I suck at math), and eventually quit paying attention to whatever they said the test was for. I liked tests. I liked scoring so high while flunking school. It infuriated my mother, which was a pretty major goal back then. But a hundred and forty? That's pretty high. I think Mensa only requires 135. So I called my mom last night and asked her.
Me Did you ever have the school test my IQ?
Mom Yeah. I think it was your freshman year. I can still remember getting the call from Mrs. Armstrong (evil incarnate guidance counselor) that you got one of the highest scores the school had ever seen.
Me Huh? I what? You never told me this before.
Mom Well it didn't matter; you were flunking anyway. Besides, scores are subjective. They don't mean anything.
Me Yes they do. They mean I was smart!
Mom I always told you you were smart. I said all the time that if you just applied yourself.... (at this point I tuned her out, a rather rude habit developed by hearing the 'potential' lecture so many times in my life.)
So basically, I am a freaking genius and nobody told me. I'm kind of pissed. I mean, every kid gets the "you have so much potential, if only you'd just apply yourself" talk. Hell, even my brain-damaged little cousin gets that talk, and she's 16 with a first grade reading level and no memory skills. But the highest score the school had ever seen?! I think that might have motivated me a bit, had I known. It definitely would have provided me with some self-esteem. Probably would have kept me from dating so many future felons.
I wonder if I can get those test results now. Maybe I could join Mensa. Maybe I could finally realize my potential. Maybe I could discover why mannequins have those nipples after all. As for what "sort of" privates are, you'll have to figure that out on your own. There's no shame in peeping a mannequin; even geniuses do it from time to time.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Saturday, November 18, 2006
But lately, I have been back to my regular MD, and I have, sort of, chronicled my stints with Straterra and then Effexor again. Well, Effexor ended up giving me a new side-effect this time, one I decided real quick was a deal-breaker. So I again called my doctor, after only a month of taking 75 milligrams a day, and asked to be switched. He put me on Wellbutrin and told me I could switch right over from the Effexor with no tapering off. I specifically asked him and that's what he said. All was well for two days. The side-effect from Hell even went away on the second night without Effexor. But the next day...
It was Friday, and Jame came over like she does most Fridays. (It just works out that she's in town those days so we have our girl-time then.) But after about three hours of trying to understand our men and our children and the sock-kleptomania of most major brands of dryers, I started to feel odd. I had already spent a good fifteen minutes relating to her a dream I'd had the night before that just wouldn't leave me once I'd woke up, and I had decided too that perhaps three cans of Mt Dew were too much as I could NOT sit still and felt incredibly jittery and anxious. And she had also commented that during a brief visit the day before, I had become violently angry while retelling a petty argument I'd had with Tom, an over-reaction I hadn't even been aware of. But now, I felt like I was having a heart attack. I was nauseous, but only when I moved. (Imagine motion sickness from walking.) And I had the most distressing feeling I have ever had. I felt like my heart and possibly my lungs were vibrating. Jame took my pulse and it was fine, but I felt this sensation of having nervous organs. I later described it as having restless leg syndrome behind my sternum. I was laying on the couch motionless and trying to describe to Jame how I felt (not so much sick as just weird) when for no reason I burst into tears. Horrible sobbing for maybe three minutes, and then done, like driving into and then out of a torrential storm. But I didn't feel sad at all. My emotions didn't cry, just my head.
I tried to call the doctor's office, after Jame googled "Effexor withdrawal" and found hundreds of horror stories, but I kept getting a busy signal. So Jame drove me to the clinic and demanded I see a nurse. The nurse had never even heard of Effexor withdrawal (I told her to just google it someday) and looked it up in her PDR: not much mentioned there but dizziness and nausea. I told her of all of my symptoms, some of which, like the dream, I would never have linked to medicine if I hadn't read about it online. Seems dopamine floods can cause incredibly intense and vivid dreams and nightmares. So now, I have orders to spend the next five weeks tapering off of the effexor, almost as long as I was on it in the first place.
The moral to this story? Don't take Effexor. There are dozens of anti-depressant and anti-anxiety meds out there; you don't have to take this one. And research online before you fill any psychiatric prescription. I have read in the last 24 hours that Cymbalta and Paxil withdrawal can be just as bad. Regular MDs aren't trained very much in the use of these drugs, and the drug companies aren't all that eager to share the details of how awful their drugs can be, so these doctors don't even know about all the risks. They are almost as much a victim as the patients are.
One bright side, though. Uncontrollable nausea makes it easy to quit drinking, a task I've undertaken for the sake of my marriage.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
But I was naive. While it's true that I no longer strive to attract attention from strangers, that I don't scan the room anymore when I enter a bar, I have discovered what so many wives before me have learned. Keeping attention may be more difficult than attracting it. Once a man has seen you face down in the toilet, once he has watched you climb into bed in ratty period panties (You girls know what I'm talking about), once he's seen the goop you put on your face, it's hard to imagine him forgetting it all, no matter how much make-up you put on to go out.
I know it's possible; it's how I see Tom. He walks around the house in his boxers, expelling air from every orifice as though he were an untied balloon, but when he puts on those tight jeans, or that black t-shirt that's just a bit too tight in the shoulders, or when he grows his beard just because I like it, all of the farting and belching and genital-scratching is forgotten: he is the sexiest man alive.
So I try. I try to do all the little things you read about in women's magazines. Wearing nothing but his white suit shirt with the sleeves rolled up? Did it. Yawn without baring any teeth? Did it. Wear perfume to bed? Did it. But none of these generalized strategies worked. In fact, the suit shirt thing was so cliche it made him laugh. What an ego boost that was! The fact is, I didn't marry any of the guys who answer Cosmo's "What Is Sexy?" surveys. I married a Nebraska farmboy turned trucker, with his own fantasies. And finding out what they are has, and no doubt will continue to be, a long and surprising process.
I wear contacts. I have for ten years now. But my eye doctor told me that because my prescription is so strong I need to have a back-up pair of glasses. The basic gist of it is that if I were to get an infection and be unable to wear my contacts, I would be too blind to do anything unless I had a pair of glasses. So I went and spent the $200 and then, in some pathetic attempt to justify the price, wore them for about a week. When Tom came home unexpectedly and found me in a pair of square black plastic frames, with my hair piled on my head in a clip because it wouldn't do anything else that day, I was mortified. I looked like crap and I knew it. But he grabbed me and kissed me, and then looked down at me and said "Hello Teacher." For a full decade I'd been wearing contacts because glasses hid my cheekbones, and striving for long thick Cindy Crawford hair, and this was what turned him on? I filed it under "Men make no sense" and went back to reading articles on how to keep a man's interest.
So yesterday, when I went to pick Tom up at the truck, I deliberately wore a blue blouse (the color he says I look best in) and my tightest pair of jeans. (The magazines do say to pay attention to what your man compliments you on, and Tom is an ass-man.) But I was a little surprised when Tom told me he had a shirt he wanted to see me in, and tossed me something from his backpack; his old high school football jersey. It must be some teenage fantasy to see his girl in his jersey (he never really had a high school girlfriend: too shy). The funny thing is, I'd never dated an athlete back in school; I'd never even wanted to. But part of me must have been jealous of the cheerleaders in their boyfriends' huge letterman jackets, because wearing Tom's football jersey almost made me feel like a schoolgirl dating the football star.
I'm not going to stop reading the articles and I'm not going to stop trying to replace images of flu-ridden me with ones of sexy me. But maybe someday I will finally figure out what makes Tom tick, and then I can stop wasting money on thongs ("They always seem to come up too high") and low-rider jeans ("They make everyone's ass look short and wide") and start buying things that work for him. Until then, does anyone know where I can find a schoolgirl outfit that won't expose a thirty year old too-soft belly?
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Thank you for contacting me regarding the Pledge of Allegiance. It is good to hear from you. Representative Todd Akin introduced H.R. 2389, the Pledge Protection Act of 2005, on May 5, 2005. H.R. 2389 amends the federal judicial code to deny federal courts jurisdiction over any claim involving the interpretation of the Pledge of Allegiance or its validity under the Constitution. I am a proud cosponsor of this legislation. Those seeking to eradicate the acknowledgment of God from the public square undermine the foundational principles of our nation. In drafting the Declaration of the Independence, and the Constitution, the Founding Fathers looked to "the Law of Nature and Nature's God." Judeo-Christian moral principles cannot be divorced from our national history without rewriting history. Yet, that is exactly what many judges are trying to do by manipulating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to make historically absurd rulings like the recent cases banning the pledge of allegiance because of the phrase "under God." H.R. 2389 would prevent these types of ruling by preventing federal courts from deciding cases involving the Pledge. On June 6, 2006, the House Judiciary Committee reviewed H.R. 2389, but it failed to report the measure out of committee for consideration by the whole House. Please rest assured that should this or any similar legislation be considered in the future, I will give it my utmost support. Thank you again for contacting me on this issue. Your input is important to my work here in Wahington.
Donald A. Manzullo
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
(The Declaration of the Independance?!)
(Is foundational even a word?!)
So I sent this email in response, which I am posting here as an open letter to Mr Manzullo, in the hopes that somehow, he will see it:
Dear Mr Manzullo,
Do you even read your email? Does anyone in your office do anything more than scan the subject lines? You were elected to REPRESENT the people, yet you ignore what we say! It is obvious from your reply to my previous letter (see below) that you have no idea what the hell you were replying to. The words "under God" were ADDED to the pledge in the 50's, they are absolutely no reflection on the founding fathers or their intentions. They were added as PR for the fight against "Godless Communists". I was asking that you try very very hard to see this issue from the other side. This world, and this country, are NOT Judeo-Christian. The U.S. is Judeo-Christian-Muslim-Buddhist-Hindu-Pagan-atheist. And ALL people should be represented equally. Your religion should not be pushed on my child any more than mine should be pushed on your kids. How long would this very debate rage on if the words in question were "under THE gods"?
I may have only one vote, but so do you. And I can assure you that when I enter that booth next month, yours will not be the name I cast my ballot for. This is the second email I have received from you that has blatantly shown that you have NO concern whatsoever for what your constituents say. I do you the honor and show you the respect of reading the form-letter tripe you send me. Show me the same respect, you worthless hollow party-line slave.
Recently reminded of why I register Democrat
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Regardless of your personal feelings on the subject of the Pledge, does it bother anyone else that this guy obviously never even read my email? I mean, sure, he's probably a busy guy, but shouldn't he have some staffer whose job it is to read through emails and reply with an appropriate response? If the thing had said, "Fuck you you liberal commie," at least I would have known that he read it. But this "Thank you for your support" bullshit is ridiculous! This is pretty much the same letter I got from him after my gay-rights email. These guys are supposed to represent US, the people in their districts. It's sad enough when no one is surprised at headlines outing them for corruption or bribery or adultery, but this is a new low. It's an election year! Isn't this the one time when they are supposed to at least pretend to care what we think?
Politics is a sore subject for me. I watch the news, my google homepage is full CNN, MSNBC, and Reuters, but it never ceases to amaze me how much stupidity there is in our nation's capital. Corruption is, sadly, par for the course. But the contradictions these guys will spout off within the same speech, the BS they expect us to believe, is the single reason why the ONLY talking head I will watch anymore, is Jon Stewart. Remember that guy in school, the tall one with the letterman jacket and clorox teeth and IQ of 20? That guy runs our country. That one guy, cloned in a secret Washington laboratory, is running around in a pinstripe suit carrying a briefcase full of mad-libs to pass the time during filibusters.
Every year my kid gets President's Day off. Every year she spends the week before the holiday filling out workbooks and reading stories about cherry trees and log cabins and wooden teeth and slavery. In 200 years, who from the last century is going to be added to those workbooks? Is Clinton going to be? Nope, too scandalous. Either President Bush? Nope, too stupid. (Plus, one puked on the Prime Minister of Japan, which was really funny but not quite respect-worthy.) I truly believe that the only president who will ever be added to President's Day will be the next "first". The first Jewish president. The first black president. The first female president. But they don't do anything noble anymore. Lincoln stood up for what was right, against popular opinion, by ending slavery. No president today will stand up for anything unless they have fifty financial supporters and a hundred lobbyists holding them upright at the podium. Equal rights for gays? We need a popular vote. But go to war? Well the oil companies and weapons manufacturers say it's cool, so let's do it!
What we need to do is ban all political ads, all campaign tours, all financial contributions over $50. Give the polititians a LOT more network and radio airtime, and hold a LOT more debates, with questions submitted by the voters. Take away the negotiations over what can be asked and what can't, and fine them talk-time for anything negative they say about their opponents. Redesign the system so that ANYONE can run for an office, without having to fund cross-country tours and ad campaigns. Make it easier for an average guy to get his position out without having to tow a party line to secure party endorsement. Presidents used to be the best of the population. Now they're whoever has the money and the connections to play the game. That's why, in my opinion, we have such door-mats running the country.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Goth is black lipstick and dyed-black hair, heavy black eye-liner and nail polish, a perpetual scowl, cynicism and anger. I wasn't angry, I was just a loner, an outcast. I wasn't goth. I wasn't one of those kids with black hair and blond roots, with peel-off wrist scars and red contacts. But now I wonder...
Goth has become emo, and I'm afraid I'm too old to know the difference. If it can change like that so much, and self-proclaimed goths can react to being called emo the same way I react to being called goth, then what came before? What was in the early nineties? Is there really much difference between Marilyn Manson and Alice Cooper? Same shades of make-up, same black and blood imagery. What about Korn and Megadeth? I try to envision myself at sixteen and to look at myself the way a stranger might have. Ripped jeans, black shoes and shirt, black coat, long hair in my face, notebook under one arm and a perpetual cigarette clamped between my fingers. Was I just a depressed kid, or was I goth? I was blond and I never wore make-up or nail polish but then, that goth scene hadn't really started yet. Maybe the Darlenes and Ally-Sheedy-Breakfast-Clubbers and I were goth, for the time. I thought I didn't fit a mold, somewhere between head-banger and grunge. But maybe I just had to wait a few years (okay, fifteen) to see my label.
It's kind of funny. Imagine if all of those dark and moody dyed-black girls out there knew that sometimes, goths become housewives and drive minivans and marry high school jocks. I know I wouldn't have believed it. But then, Tom wouldn't have believed he'd grow up to marry a goth either. The joke's on us, I suppose.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
I believe, like many Americans, that the focus of this scandal, is not where it should be. A man, political party affiliation aside, abused his authority and the respect of these kids. It should NOT matter whether he went for boys or girls, or whether he was abused by a priest when he was a kid, or whether or not he is gay. Who he would choose to form an adult relationship with most likely has nothing to do with what sex he preys upon. Most sex offenders are, by far, heterosexual men. It is easy to see a sexual behavior one feels is 'wrong' and then assume that person must engage in other behaviors seen as being equally 'wrong'. Gays have been linked to child abuse, beastiality, rape, etc for generations, with little to no evidence to support those links. It also should not matter that Rep. Foley was molested by a priest, if his claims are to be believed. Many people are victimized in some way in their lives and don't go on to repeat that abuse. If suffering abuse was a viable excuse for becoming an abuser, every person who had ever been mugged would be out stealing wallets. If prior molestation has formed an attraction for teenage boys in Mark Foley, it was still his choice to act upon it.
Also, the term "pedophilia" has been tossed about by just about everyone during this mess. But the fact of the matter is, Mark Foley has not been shown to exhibit any pedophilia. That's right, NONE. Pedophilia is a psychiatric term, not a legal one, and this situation doesn't fit the definition. Pedophilia is, literally, a sexual attraction to or romantic love for a pre-pubescent child. In other words, once the kid hits puberty, it is impossible for that child to become a victim of pedophiles. They simply wouldn't be a suitable victim; their body would be too adult to appeal to a pedophile. Pedophiles want baby-fat and hairlessness and a complete lack of all secondary sex characteristics. And just like those female teachers who have been in the news so much in the past few years, Mark Foley never went for kids young enough to classify him as a pedophile. These kids are at an age where they have developed sexual urges, where they were capable of consent. A sexual attraction to or romantic love for a post-pubescent adolescent is classified as ephebophilia. It is not a predatory behavior so much as it is symptomatic of stunted emotional growth. Ephebophiles, since the age of cultural pederasty, generally relate to their chosen partners as peers. Did you read the instant messages from Foley to the page? Those were not the speech patterns of an adult. Mark Foley views relationships and potential partners through the eyes of a teenager. He is not out to teach or control a child, he is out to find a partner on his own level. To him, a 52 year old man would be as inappropriate as it would be to the average teenager. (Which makes me wonder about the kids he was chatting with, if they weren't just blinded by Foley's congressional status.) In fact, the age of consent in Washington is reported to be sixteen, meaning that no crime may have even been committed. Mark Foley exercised incredibly poor judgment, and no doubt took advantage of his position of authority over these kids, but he should not be categorized as a sexual predator.
For the democrats to throw around terms like preying and pedophile is just ridiculous politicking. For republicans to throw around terms like homosexual is the same. Both are trying to make Foley the poster-child for the other side. "Foley is a republican, so republicans must have protected him." "Foley is gay and he hit on kids. More proof that gays are evil!" (The assumption there being that democrats are the gay-friendly ones.)
This whole thing is a mess, and has been beaten to death already. I just wanted to put out there the fact that not everyone is falling for all of the trash that's being put out there. Personally, as long as he's not persuading anyone to be with him, if he's not using status or authority to convince anyone to do anything they would not normally do, and as long as whoever he's with is of legal age, I don't care if Mark Foley moves to Massachusetts and marries the youngest guy he can. Obsession with youth is nothing new, especially not for men in their fifties.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
The glint of a smile you’re seducing the ages
Made up to perfection a mask for a fool
Setting the scene with all that you do
Sing your siren’s song and you lure them in
Cashing your checks it’s your business of sin
Such smooth seduction you have your choice of takers,
Playing at love you’re the queen of heartbreakers,
You spin a new web a true black widow female,
Holding their hearts it’s emotional blackmail,
You kept his soul captive when he’d take it back,
Think another’s conscience can provide what you lack,
You thought that you broke him but you gave up too soon,
He’s built his strength back again and won’t fall for your tune,
I won his heart once and I won’t give up now,
I may not have your talent but I do know how,
To show him the truth of all that he is,
To show him he’s better than your viper’s kiss,
For all of your beauty the charm that you flaunt,
There’s nothing you have that he needs or wants
He’s seen through the smoke that you blow to disguise
The fangs in your smile,
And the truth of your lies
Monday, October 02, 2006
Saturday, September 30, 2006
I got to know the Navy recruiter through a coworker who was trying to enlist. She never did make the weight limit (Hah! I hated her.) so the recruitment process took a long time, and the recruiter came in pretty often. Petty Officer Steven Daugherty was a big guy, pretty soft-spoken, and never tried to recruit me. I liked him. He even offered to look at my car one night after work when it was making funny noises.
In hindsight, maybe that was a bit of a come-on, but I was nineteen and he was in his thirties so it never occurred to me.
So I drove over to the little rental house the Navy gave him and he looked at my car. I don't remember what was wrong with it, but I remember we talked for a while out by the curb and he invited me over to hang out some night. Thus, a beautiful friendship was born. Steve wasn't like the guys I knew. He was a big guy with the lingering remnants of a Kentucky accent, but he wasn't a redneck. He drank wine, not beer. He was a vegan. He lit scented candles to relax and listened to jazz. Yeah, I thought he was gay at first, too. But nope, he was straight, and still is to the best of my knowledge. Over the course of a few months we became pretty close friends, with me often driving straight to his house after work to watch TV and hang out. It was all flowers and puppy dogs until the damned Navy screwed it all up that fall.
They stationed him in Chicago!! At the Great Lakes Training Base in Chicago! Steve would now be working with school kids as some sort of Navy youth outreach program. Chicago is only about three hours away, so it wasn't as bad as it could have been, but still. Chicago! I grudgingly agreed to help him move and on a Friday night in January I left work and drove to his place to do my part.
He had rented a trailer and had it filled by the time I showed up, so I settled in for a three hour drive up and around Chicago, to the suburb of Gurnee. Not that I'm all that great at suburb geography, but to this day as far as I know , Gurnee's only real strong points are a giant outlet mall and a Six Flags theme park. I instantly resented this town that was stealing my friend and cursed it under my breath. Shouldn't have done that, because it turned out to be a rather vengeful suburb intent on drawing blood.
For the next hour or so Steve moved furniture while I handled the light stuff: couch cushions, pillows, his stuffed Roadrunner collection. But eventually I ran out of soft and cuddly things to carry and had to move on to more ominous loads, like framed art and suitcases. And an empty twenty dollar file cabinet from Wal-mart. Like I said, it was January, and by now about 3:00 in the morning, and the walkway from the curb to the door was dark and icy, but I'd walked it a dozen or so times, so I wasn't worried. Not that it wasn't awkward trying to watch my step with my arms wrapped around a file cabinet, but I did it. Never slipped once. But you know that little bump at the thresh-hold to a building, the strip of metal easing the transition from cement sidewalk to carpeted hallway? Yeah, that thing kicked my ass. I caught it with my toe and came down hard on my knees. Luckily though, the edge of the file cabinet broke my fall, on my face.
Steve saw me go down and asked me if I was alright. I took stock and was relieved to note that I hadn't bitten through my tongue and said yes. But, and I don't know why, I instinctively rubbed my chin with the back of my hand. It was at that point that the blood started flowing, dripping down my neck and off the end of my chin to pool on the ground. Steve panicked. I asked him to get me something to hold against the cut and he raced inside. And what does a great defender of our country bring you when you've split your face open? A two by two gauze pad. Yeah. That took about three seconds to soak through, and then Steve got an old t-shirt for me. I told Steve to go ahead and keep hauling in furniture while I cleaned up. I went into his bathroom, wet a corner of the shirt, and applied pressure to my chin until the bleeding slowed enough that I could see the cut. I saw skin, and fat cells, and bone. And then, in the most dignified fashion possible, I burst into tears like a little girl. Not from pain, or the sight of blood, but out of frustration at the absurdity of the situation. I couldn't just help a friend move like a normal person. No, I had to bust open my face and get stitches and make the whole night about me.
Steve found me sitting on the edge of the tub, crying and holding the shirt to my chin. I told him I needed stitches and he asked if I was sure. I showed him my stark white jawbone to convince him (ever see a 200 pound career military officer turn green?), and he agreed to drive me to the hospital.
As we drove around Gurnee, aimlessly looking for blue signs with white H's, he mentioned how unfortunate it was that he didn't know where any hospitals were except of course for the one on-base. It really should have occurred to me that the only Navy training base in the country would have doctors, but it hadn't. I asked Steve to please take me to the base, pointing out that if they wouldn't sew me up they could at least give us directions to the nearest hospital. So of we went, at by now 4:00 am, to see if his ID would get me on-base.
It did, and as we explained our predicament to the pimply faced recruit behind the desk, I noticed more recruits peeking out from behind the corner. Young recruits. Male recruits. Recruits who had not laid eyes on a civilian female in weeks. The guy at the counter went to defer with his colleagues and it was decided among them that yes, they would be more than happy to sew my face shut. This decision, however led to a new problem. How to set up an unprecedented billing system. Since the base clinic only treats enlisted people and their families, all for free, there was no program to enter my billing information into. However, the guys with the needles and thread were quite eager to get me behind their curtains and so Steve was left to try to help out the poor sailor who was beginning to realize that thinking with your anchor sometimes leads to rash decisions.
My time behind the curtain wasn't so bad, although when I learned that the only corpsmen on duty were a week away from taking their suture tests I started to rethink the decision to stop by. And when they expressed such shock at the amount of lidocaine it took to numb my chin only to be told by a passing nurse that they were jamming the needle in too far and letting all of the juice run right back out of the wound, I experienced a moment of fear. But with one guy holding my hand to comfort me through the flushing of the wound, one during the injections, and yet another during the actual sewing, it was okay. An hour later I walked out the door with six very carefully places stitches under my chin and one pretty gruesome blood-stained t-shirt to show my friends.
When I went to the ER clinic back home a couple weeks later to have the stitches pulled (the amateurs had made them too tight for me to get my own scissors under), I asked the doctor how much he would have charged for six sutures. He gave me a rough estimate of $200. Eleven years later, I have yet to see a bill from the Navy. But I know that somewhere in the computer system up there, my maiden name and my old address are listed with a balance due, and everytime CNN reports on some military spending expense audit, I wait for a bill to arrive.
Monday, September 11, 2006
I recently came across this question on an obviously straight man's personal political blog. The post had started out about Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter, Mary Cheney, but went on to conclude:
"This opens up a whole lot of chicken or egg questions. Clearly, the average lesbian is less visually attractive than the average heterosexual woman, but is that because lesbians work less at being attractive because they don't have to compete on looks as much because women are less picky about their mate's looks? Or do lesbians not want to try to make themselves look attractive because that's a feminine thing to do and they tend to be more masculine in persona? Or are lesbians, on average, simply less feminine looking because of hormonal differences? Or are they just less attractive looking overall, rather than specifically less feminine-looking, and find they can attract a better mate in the lesbian market than in the heterosexual market?"
Notice the photo the blogger had up as an example of Mary Cheney's unattractive looks. If you care to google her though, you will find that the man had to sift through two pages of very feminine and attractive photos of Ms. Cheney to find this one. Now that's what I call objective evidence!
Regardless of the biased shown by Mr. iSteve, I find his confusion to be an interesting topic. I have been asked, most likely because of my less than heterosexual (more than heterosexual?) leanings, this very question. Why are gay men girly and lesbians butch?
Well, the obvious answer is; they aren't. It's an overwhelmingly generalized stereotype that doesn't apply to EVERY homosexual. But let's let that go for now. There are Jack McFarlands and Carson Kressleys and even Austin Scarletts out there, just as there are KD Langs and Martina Navratilovas. So why, you may ask, is it that a tiny little piece of identity should have such an impact on a person's appearance and mannerisms? Let's assume for the moment that the two are in fact linked, and that a straight Austin Scarlett wouldn't wear ruffly shirts and eye make-up.
The best explanation I can come up with regarding masculine lesbians, and one that certainly has applied to me in my own life, is that being feminine is a hassle. To put it pretty bluntly, smooth legs and flowing hair can be a bitch to keep up with. And other women understand that. So if I don't need make up and long done up hair to attract a man, which lesbians don't generally care about, then why not just cut the hair short and skip the mascara? I know plenty of 100% straight women who often threaten to just shave their heads on bad hair days. And honestly, how hard would it be for any woman to give up shaving her legs, or at least go longer between shaving, if a man wouldn't complain about it? Not that all 'butch' lesbians have hairy legs, or that all women with hairy legs are lesbians, but some do and are, and that's one reason for it.
Now, as for the flaming gays out there, I can only speculate. Sadly, American patriarchal society is more tolerant of that which arouses men than that which threatens or confuses them, so lesbian chic is a reality. I can only begin to imagine how it must feel to realize that you will never, no matter how macho you try to be, fit the mold the world expects you to. After all, no matter how strong, how successful, how much of a "man's man" you may succeed in becoming, as long as your spouse has a penis it just isn't going to work in a lot of people's eyes. I imagine it must be frightening to wonder how many of the men in your life will distrust or abandon you. But I also suspect it may be more than a little freeing. When you accept that you simply cannot be macho, the pressure to try to be, I would assume, disappears, and with it the taboos against a lot of other things. I mean, after you drop a bomb like "Dad, I'm gay," how bad can it be to announce later "Dad, I style hair," or "Dad, I'm a decorator,"?
I may have married a (wonderful) man, but I can still remember what it was like to come out of the closet. I lost friends, I was threatened, I was scared. But also, being a bonafide "freak" gave me the courage to be myself. All of the ways I felt strange and different before that moment, my taste in music or books or clothes, paled in comparison to what I had just made known. I was lucky, though. I was a girl. The boys at my school eventually discovered how much it could boost their reputations if only they could be the ones to "change" me. I got asked out by a lot of football players that year. And once the girls realized that they could easily take me in any fight, they kind of liked the idea of a girl who wouldn't compete with them for guys. The year I came out turned out to be the best year of high school for me. Of course, all it took was one really hot guy to make me question myself all over again, and come to the conclusion that I didn't need to be gay, or straight, or anywhere in between. I didn't have to fall in love with people based on their gender. I had a freedom not many people have; gender didn't matter to me. Manly or girly, male or female, none of that turned me off. I was free to fall in love with someone based on who they were inside, and I never took that for granted. I have been with hairy legged women and men who wore panties, prissy femmy women and sweaty working men. And I have learned that it takes a lot more courage to be yourself in spite of pre-assigned gender roles than it does to shave things and fix things and wear things just because you're expected to.
I have a lot of respect for Mary Cheney, and for her father. Sure, I still detest Dick's political views, hunting skills, and just about everything he stands for on a professional level. But in a career field where conservative public opinions can make or break a man, he hasn't denounced or turned his back on his daughter. And out of that tiny glimmer of respect, I will refrain from making the obvious "Growing up with Dick Cheney as a male role model, gee I wonder why she's gay" comment.
Friday, September 08, 2006
Well, I kind of just want to see what people may think of my writing, as well as perhaps hone my talent a bit. I need practice and since I have NO clue as to what sort of fiction I want to write, I decided to just try and relate interesting moments from my life, in story form. At least, I hope they are interesting to someone other than myself.
So I will probably still vent my not-so-humble opinions on current events and such, as I was doing when I started this blog. But I will also be putting up more stories.
Here, I'll let the first one to post a comment decide what I write next:
How An Argentinean Frycook Eluded Citizen's Arrest
Why I Owe The United States Navy $200
Escaping Shabubba in Not-Aunt-Nancy's Cabin
Those are the choices. Like I said, the first one to comment gets to pick. Unless no one comments, at which point I will just randomly choose some piece of drivel from my mind and ramble on about it. It's called having a personal writing style.
There were two voices, one male and one female. I recognized Jame's instantly, but who was the guy? Jerone, the Able twins' little brother? I listened for a second and decided it wasn't him. Jim then, Jerone's friend who also lived there? Nah, not him either. It wasn't until I heard the speaker called by name that I realized that right here, in this room, was Jamie Drolema. But still, I stayed "asleep".
The conversation, very hushed so as not to awaken me, went on undisturbed. "Where the hell is this coming from? I'm getting married today."
"I always liked you. I just never told you because there was supposed to be time."
Oh dear. Jamie was trying to talk Jame (yes, it was a complicated sentence for me too) out of marrying Charles! And since I was her best friend and the only person who apparently even knew Jamie Drolema was here, the responsibility for saving her fell squarely on my very hung over shoulders. I rolled over onto my other side, as if in my sleep.
"Shhhhh! Is she waking up?" He sounded almost panicked.
"I don't know but who cares if she does? I'm not the one who snuck into the house to ruin a wedding!"
I did that smacking-the-mouth thing people do when they start to come to, both as a sign that I may soon sit up and also because strawberry wine coolers produce a particularly nasty sort of cotton mouth, and resituated myself so that my feet were pressed squarely against the back of the couch. I had no plan, but I would have to save Jame soon. It was clear that the appeal of Jamie was wearing her down.
I laid still just long enough to hear Jamie say a few more words and then mumbled. Then I mumbled again. "She talks in her sleep," my best friend explained.
"What?" she asked me.
"Am I asleep?" I mumbled.
"Yeah," Jamie answered. "You're dreaming."
At that point I opened my eyes just enough to take aim, pressed against the back of the sofa with both feet, and launched myself vertically to where Jamie was crouched in front of the chair Jame sat in. Although I hit him full force, he didn't go down as expected. I ended up flat on my back on the floor with him towering over me with a look of shock. I said the first thing that came to mind.
"I can't be asleep. In my dreams you don't duck."
Jame burst out laughing, Jamie snorted in disgust, and I attempted to untangle my legs from the blanket that had flown with me from the couch so I could stand up and maybe be of further assistance.
"Hey, could you leave us alone for a minute here? I kind of wanted to talk to Jamie," Jamie said to me from his new (safer?) spot behind the chair. I saw Jame shake her head and knew that I would have to sacrifice even more dignity to get her out of this mess.
"Um, actually, I wanted to ask you a question." I had wanted no such thing. What I wanted was to see those white shorts on the floor, but the odds of that happening now that he knew I was awake were akin to the odds of me winning the lottery without a ticket. "Uhh, er, could I have your autograph?"
"Yes, well uh, I was wondering if I could have your autograph. Here, let me get a pen." I ran into the kitchen wondering if I could have possibly come up with anything more lame, and grabbed a pen and the front of a friend's birth announcement out of my purse, then rushed back into the living room as fast as I could. Unfortunately I had slept in my socks and so I slid across the hardwood floor and fell, for the second time that morning, squarely on my ass. I reached up and handed the paper to Jamie with a solemn look on my face that was supposed to convey dignity but apparently only added to the oddity of the situation. They both burst out laughing and he signed my paper.
"Hey Chuck have a nice dream." How sweet.
I spent the better part of that morning shamelessly coming on to Jamie, rubbing his shoulders and complimenting him and otherwise sacrificing all personal dignity to keep his attention OFF of seducing Jame. All in all, it worked. Jame married Charles that day at the courthouse without incident, I got Jamie Drolema's autograph which I still keep in a hat box in the top of my closet, and Jamie got the much needed foresight not to pull over when flagged down by singing drunks on the street.
I mentioned to Jame a few weeks ago that I still had the autograph from that morning. She told me that Jamie lives in a small town about half an hour north of here and that someday we should go up and find him. I don't know. I saw him at a local Walmart a few years ago. The years hadn't been that good to him and his eyebrows had fused together. He just wasn't the Adonis in white shorts that he used to be.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Jame had been dating Charles, a guy she met on the riverfront and initially talked up only because she thought he looked like Tom Cruise (remember, he wasn't crazy back then), for almost a whole year. He was the perfect catch for an eighteen year old small town girl. He was attractive, relatively nice to her, and her parents hated him. Naturally, she had to marry him. I got the call as I walked in the back door of my father's house. When Dad handed me the phone and said, "Jamie's torturing some guy," I knew instantly what he meant.
"Get into town. I'm getting married tomorrow and the bachelorette party's tonight out at the twins'." Of course, I had to go.
An hour later I sat in the living room of Nicole and Noralene Able's mother's farmhouse, a wine cooler planted firmly in my fist, wondering what constituted a bachelorette party where no one was old enough to buy alcohol or enter a strip club. It turned out that I wasn't the only one pondering that particular subject. After an hour or so of watching Eddie Murphy Raw, we got bored and decided we needed a stripper.
Now, at the advanced state of genius reached only by newly adult drunken females, we knew this to be a very easy task. If you want to see a penis all you have to do is ask, right? So I ran to the phone, looked up a number, and called the single most attractive guy in town; Jamie Drolema. And since, befitting his status as such, he wasn't home at ten p.m. on a Friday night, I left a message on his answering machine.
"Hi Jamie. This is Charlie. Jame's getting married tomorrow so we kind of need a stripper out at Ables' place tonight. Call us when you get this message. We're pooling our money right now as I speak." How could he possibly turn down the chance to stand naked in a room full of women and make some money to boot? Yep, a fool-proof plan.
Except, he never called. And we ran out of wine coolers. And since we weren't old enough to go buy any wine coolers, we had to find someone who was. And in town, at Jame and Charles' apartment, there were men having their own pre-wedding party. Men who could purchase booze. So we all hopped into Jame's car and headed into town.
Now, Jame and Charles were living in an apartment over a bar on Main Street at that time, and they had no phone. So there was no way for us to let the guys know that we were there, and for some reason the idea of knocking on the door was too taboo to consider. A woman couldn't just barge in on a bachelor party. But the window was open, so we decided to try to get their attention that way. So we sang. Loudly. And very very poorly. You've Lost That Loving Feeling, sang by four drunken teenage girls on a deserted street in the middle of the night. It must have sounded pretty distinctive, because soon ALL of the windows of all of the apartments over the bar were full of people watching us. By the time we got to "Now it's gone gone gone, whoaaaaaa" and started in on the shaboom shaboom sounds, Charles came running out into the street to try to convince his future wife to stop embarrassing him.
As I mentioned, this was a very deserted street, but being Main Street in an "Official Illinois Main Street Town" there were plenty of newly renovated antique-looking streetlights, so when one lone truck came rumbling down the road, I noticed it pretty quickly. And in the unashamed manner found only in towns so small that everyone knows one another, I looked to see who was driving it. It was Jamie Drolema, our preferred amateur stripper. So I flagged him down. He pulled over and I explained how the occasion required male public nudity and since he was the best-looking guy in town, could he volunteer his services for an hour or so? Chuckling, he promised to think about it and then drove off to wherever it was that he had been headed to before I flagged him down.
Charles agreed to buy us more alcohol, Jame drove him to the store and back, and all of us girls returned to the farmhouse north of town to resume drinking and watching vulgar stand-up on VHS. We were doing a pretty good job of pretending we weren't bored an hour later when a figure emerged from the shadows behind Jame's chair and stood in front of her.
With his long dark hair down over his shoulders and his arms crossed against his naked chest, wearing only a pair of brilliantly white shorts against his very tan skin, Jamie Drolema was sex incarnate. And between his height and the height of Jame's chair, eye level was a very good place for her to be right then. Jame's mouth began to move, but no sound came out. "Take it off. Take it all off," she mouthed.
"What? Speak up," Adonis said as another figure emerged from the shadows. This one wore a look of amusement on his face, a face that looked more than a little bit like Tom Cruise.
"Jame!" I said a little too loudly, trying to distract her. I didn't want to piss off Charles, but I also didn't want Jamie to get in trouble with her fiance the night before their wedding. "Jame! This is funnier than you know. Trust me, this is funnier than you know."
Thankfully, Jame realized that if I was doing anything to keep Jamie Drolema in his clothes, something must be going on. She turned around and saw Charles, the tension was diffused, and the guys left. The twins gave me some grief about ruining Charles' joke, but I didn't care. I was just sad that I hadn't gotten to see those very white shorts sitting crumpled on the floor.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Tom golfs. Gee, you say, a white republican approaching middle age who golfs? How can such a thing be true? But it is true, take my word for it. He golfs and so I thought perhaps I could learn to golf too. This is not an unprecedented idea. I used to work with a woman ( horrifying woman, always picking on me) who met her second husband, went to the driving range with him one day during the early "Oh I can't stand to be away from you for a minute, Snookums" phase of their relationship, and somehow ended up hitting 300 yard drives consistently.
So leave it to me to think that if Skari Shari can do it, I can do it too. After all, I have no known talents so I must have hidden talents, right? But alas, golf does not seem to be one. I do, however, have the unsurpassed ability to hit the tee out from under a golf ball, all the time swinging my entire body around in a full circle, and all while carefully keeping my knees slightly bent and my hips bent but not too bent. I have perfect form, I just can't hit the damn ball. Well, I can hit it some of the time. I can hit it into the creek ten yards away. I can hit it into another ball only three yards away (which would come in handy if only there were a golf / billiards combination sport). And I can hit it between my feet and behind me some thirty-odd feet. But I cannot hit it anywhere near the cute white signs marking where a decent drive is supposed to go. I can't even hit it in the right direction.
I had visions of Tom standing behind me, his arms around me, his hands over mine, teaching me how to follow through with my swing. What I got was grabbed from behind only once, and told my grip was all wrong as he twisted me like an owl's head, leaving my bra crooked when he let go. The rest of the time he ignored me to hit his own bucket of balls, only watching me long enough to snort at my attempts to HIT THAT DAMNED BALL! Yes, he snorted. At me. His wife. His loving and supportive wife who only wanted to play this damned game to be closer to him and who became increasingly frustrated and ended up digging little hamster graves four inches behind the tees.
My dream of being part of a husband and wife twosome, golfing our way across the country by way of beautiful expensive PGA approved courses, has been dashed. At best I can hope to be the half drunk bored housewife who takes lessons twice a week from the local has-been club pro. Too bad I have morals too high to hire some hot young blond stud to teach me.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
It's not the old excuse that they're aloof, or that they poo in a box indoors, or that they scratch up the furniture. It's not hairballs or unprovoked extended-claw pounces from around corners, or even allergies. I don't particularly want a cat because cats are biologically unable to distinguish between that which is alive, and that which is dead. Also, cats develop romantic attachments to other cats, similarly unencumbered by the ability to determine presence of life, and enamored cats like to bear gifts.
Now if a cat were to try to impress me with a bottle of wine, if some horny tomcat in the neighborhood wanted to ask for my cat's, err, paw in mating with, say, a lovely flower arrangement, I would have no problem. But no, it's always something disgusting, usually a mouse in some state of decay. But even that isn't the worst possibility. No, the worst is what I was given, long ago, by a little furry suitor of my pet's.
A little backstory here. I was nineteen, working second shift, and living with my father. My father's attitude toward home repair was not to fix anything unless it specifically inconvenienced him. So when our cat, Pixel, attempted to let itself into the house one afternoon by running and leaping headlong through the porch screen, he left the hole there for her further use. Also, to cut down on air conditioning costs, he would turn off the unit and leave the back door open when he went to work at 4:30 a.m. This never really bothered me, since we lived in a pretty safe neighborhood, so I never asked him not to leave the back door open while I, his teenage daughter, slept peacefully until noon.
Anyway, back to the cat. Pixel had eyes for a neighborhood stray. Obviously the stray had once been a pet, as he had no problem with walking up to my father and I, rubbing against our legs and tangling himself in our ankles should we attempt to go inside. He would even follow Pixel in through the hole in the screen, but had never ventured through the door into the house proper. He was a polite, or vampiric, sort who would not enter unless invited. We approved of their union.
So one day, as I was snoozing peacefully, I heard a screech. Not a scream, not any sound I had ever heard before (or since for that matter), but a screech. I woke up and glanced around the room in time to see a vague blackish blur race under my bed. Under the head of my bed. Under my head! I grabbed my glasses, put them on, and gingerly bent to peer under the bed, imagining all the time a cacophony of voices yelling "Don't look under the bed!" like every horror movie audience since silent films. And under there I saw, quite clearly despite being upside down, what I can only describe as some avian demon rushing toward my face, screeching at the top of it's little bitty lungs.
I bolted upright and glanced at the doorway, in the general direction of a hissing that had, up to then, been drowned out by the death squawk of a mangled sparrow. The boyfriend cat was crouched, hackles up, tail fat, ready to pounce. I jumped out of the bed and rushed the door, frightening the cat into running through the kitchen, out the open back door, and through the cat-hole in the screen. However, having been awakened from deep slumber by a Sylvester and Tweety reenactment, I was not at this point thinking clearly. I DID have the foresight to shut the bird in my room, but not to grab any clothes on my high-stepped flight from the bed. I quickly summed up the situation. I had a possibly rabid definitely defensive bird trapped in my bedroom, I was too cowardly to do anything about it, and I was naked. I did what any logical nineteen year old girl would have done. I called my ex-boyfriend and told him there was an angry attack bird under my bed and would he please be so kind as to come rid me of it. He would? Great, I'd be waiting for him naked in the kitchen.
Whyever would he have doubted my sincerity?
Despite his unfounded doubts, he showed up a few minutes later, and I told him the entire sordid tale while leading him to the bedroom. I had had enough time between the call and his arrival to piece together what must have happened before the bird got to my room that day. A trail of feathers led throughout the house, with a noticeable larger grouping in the living room. I figured this was where the bird had regained consciousness, since I doubt the cat drug it struggling through the porch screen to impress me and/or Pixel, and began the merry chase which ended with me being forced out of my bed at the crack of noon.
As my ex surveyed my room and found no bird, I was faced with a new fear. What if he couldn't find it? What if he decided I'd simply called him as a pathetic attempt to seduce him and win him back, and he left? What would he think of me? What would he tell people? Who then would get rid of the bird?! I had to join the hunt.
After looking everywhere, behind each shoe in the closet, under the dresser, in all the corners, I moved a chair out from against the wall, and heard the screech. I jumped three feet back into the wall while my hero of choice threw MY FAVORITE bedspread over the bird, carried it outside, and set it gently on the ground. I thanked him, sent him off, and took a loooong hot shower to wipe the fear of bird germs off me.
After Pixel ran off with her Romeo a few months later, I never got another cat. I never wanted another cat. Dead mice laid at my feet are bad enough, but the thought of one more maimed bird rushing my face in the morning is enough to keep me from ever being a cat owner again. Ever.
I have writer's block. There, I've said it. "My name is Charlie and I have writer's block." I've had it for about, oh, fifteen years. I want to write something that will be printed, in someone else's chosen font, and bound with glue, not staples or paperclips. But you see, aside from this blog and the occasional psychiatrist-assigned journal, I can never think of anything to write. The task is too daunting, too overwhelming. Write something other people will like. How can I do that? I have a hard enough time piecing together an outfit other people like. I always did well in school with writing assignments, because the teacher gave me a topic. All I had to worry about then was characterization and setting, getting the people through the prescribed situation. But on my own, I can't choose a plot. I can't even choose a genre. I have too many possible ideas running through my hypomanic possibly ADD-riddled brain and once caught and inspected, they all seem to kind of suck. Coming of age novel? Sure, but coming of age where, and how? On a beach, in a city, in a box, with a fox, I cannot do it Sam I Am! Romance novel? Sure. I can write flowery prose and euphemistic smut. But then I imagine that I get published, and my book is out with a shiny cover and sepia toned pages, and so naturally my family reads it. I mean, I'm a published author now, what kind of mother would she be if Mom didn't read my book? And how can I write three page love scenes, how can I pen the words "quivering member", knowing my mother is going to be reading it? Or my brother's girlfriend? Or any number of assorted individuals from my life? So I nix the romance novel idea. Comedic Adventure? I think about that one most of all. I loved Dave Barry's novel, and I think I could write one as well, but then comes the plot question. Just what exactly is the adventure. Crazy characters I can do. Bizarre situations are no problem. But having it all come together in a cohesive pattern? That could be more difficult. That's what I'm hoping the writing classes will do; teach me how to slow down and organize my thoughts.
Maybe I just have to take Joe The Peacock's advice. Write because I love it, not because I want to sell it. Maybe I should take my iconic cousin Chandos's advice and start with a short story. Maybe I could just write a bunch of stories randomly and then send them out as a compilation. Ahhh, but then again, I'm thinking of the publishing.
EDIT: Chandos, don't hate me for calling you iconic. Really, it's a good thing.
In my hometown, the schools used to be set up in three age groups: K-5, 6-8, 9-12. I vividly remember the feeling of dread that filled me for most of fifth grade. In fact, fears of losing my locker, forgetting the combination, not finding my classes, (not to mention changing before gym class) got so bad that I developed a stress-related off-shoot of OCD called trichotillomania. In layman's terms, I got so stressed I pulled my hair out.
The transition to high school was made easier by the knowledge that I wasn't the only one intimidated by the prospect of navigating three floors of hallways and stairs in the three minutes between classes. But the summer before my senior year, I moved. I, like so many other children of divorce, moved from one parent's house to the other's, and ended up in a much larger school. By this time I was seventeen and old enough to kind of disguise my trepidation. And I was sure that I could find my classes simply by looking at the room numbers on my schedule. I was wrong. This was a very old school, one which had been built on to and remodeled several times. This school had wings, odd little hallways that shot off at strange angles from the main building, and hidden stairways that led only to one or two rooms per floor. Take the wrong turn and instead of Algebra, you could end up walking out of the supply closet in the Art room. But I made it, with plenty of odd new-kid glances, and graciously offered directions from fellow students which more times than not led me to freshman remedial PE rather than the Political Studies class I'd asked for. And when I finally walked out of that school for the last time, I swore I would never be a new kid again. I would never, ever, attempt to navigate the halls of a new school for as long as I lived. This is no small part of why I never attempted college.
But now, out of a desire to find some direction for my life, I am going to break that vow. I am going to take some classes, in not one, but two, separate colleges. It's only two classes, and they offer no credit hours toward any sort of degree (in fact, I found them only in the paper flyer that comes mass-mailed every fall offering yoga, basketweaving, and "E-Mail For Seniors"), but it's enough to revive that dormant hibernating beast that is my Fear of Educational Architecture.
I have a theory, and I have no proof to back it up aside from my own intuition. But I believe that the same architects who design hospitals and clinics also design schools. Those are the only two sorts of places where walking out of a room presents you with a hallway which looks identical in both directions at the same time as looking nothing like where you were when you entered the room! I could add government office buildings to the list, but they usually come with little placards on the walls, written in no less than five different languages, complete with arrows pointing toward various departments. In fact, if you're lucky, English will only be the second or third language from the top. (Is it really that hard for Hispanics to figure out that POLICE and POLICIA mean the same thing?)
So here I am, trying to figure out how to sign up for two classes on the one 5x7 sheet of newsprint in the Personal Enrichment Courses flyer, and wondering if at thirty I will finally be capable of finding my way to one class in a community college. After that, I'll worry more about the hundred mile drive downstate to find one more class in a different community college. All this is in hope of refining my writing abilities to the point where I'll be able to read my own work without cringing.
Ahh, to be half the writer Joe The Peacock is.
Edit: My mother has decided to take the same local course I'm taking. Apparently it bothered her having her drop-out daughter proofread her college papers and find so many errors. So I guess she can help me find the classroom.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
So far the Strattera makes me very tired (non-stimulant is an understatement) but it's too soon to notice any difference in mood or energy level. Whether it's Strattera or Zoloft or something else, I hope something works. My kid doesn't need to be raised by a bitch.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
How To Annoy Me:
Praise Quentin Tarantino. Have you ever seen Jackie Brown?
Refer to Samuel L Jackson as a genius. "Muthafucka" is not genius. It's tourettes.
Say "irregardless" (Mom!)
Say PIN number or VIN number. The N stands for number!
Say ATM machine. See above.
Smash all my stuff up at the store just to fit it into one cart. Face it, hon, we are that family.
Ask to borrow a tampon. Ewwwwwwww.
Hit redial when your call is met with an instant hangup. Obviously I hit Talk and Stop simultaneously for a reason. I'm trying to nap, here!
Give me the "I'm sure your child is very bright" look when I tell you at parents' night to test my kid's reading. She reads Shakespeare and she's 8. Do the math.
Diagnose my PMS and/or period. Even if it is that time of the month, I still have a viable complaint.
Say "Hon?" and then wait 2 minutes before asking the question, then get upset that I forgot I was supposed to be listening for something.
Give me a dirty look for wearing slippers to buy beer. You're lucky I'm not in a robe.
Give me a dirty look for having dogs that bark all day. I could let them out all night.
Give me a dirty look for buying my kid a cell phone. She pays the bill for her line out of her allowance and it's not my job to make you look generous.
Ask my honest opinion, then get upset when I give it. Next time think before you ask.
Insult my side of the family. That's MY job, thank you very much.
Come home from Wal-Mart with acne medication and diet pills for me. You really don't want to see your next birthday, do you?
Get upset when I send singing waiters to you six months after your birthday. One word: Eureka.
Watch a show I've been waiting two weeks to watch with you, and then delete it from the DVR. Wonder why I sent those waiters to you?
Answer a question as if I should already know the answer. "Well you know he died last summer." Yeah, that's why I asked what he's up to.
Write "would of" instead of "would have". There's a line between phonetic and ignorant.
Tell me gay is a choice when you're straight. And you would know how, exactly?
Watch The West Wing religiously and praise its characters, and then vote republican. Tom, you make no sense!
Pretend you don't know what "OS" means on the honeydew list, or why it's on there three times. Oh you know, alright.
Put out a mousetrap ten minutes before you leave for California and then tell me over the phone to keep the trap because they cost a whole 25 cents. Get real! Like I'm going to pry a mouse corpse out from under a wire to save a lousy quarter.
Refuse to explain to me why my keyboard has no key for the little slashed through c sign for cents. You're the computer help desk!
Be American and call soccer football.
Be American and stick arbitrary U's into words. (colour, flavour, favourite)
Tell me I look like Dave Mustaine. I've heard it before and it's not a compliment. (Anyone under 30 even know who Dave Mustaine is?)
Insist upon calling me Charlene, because it is my real name. No one argues with Bob or Rich or Don, don't argue with me.
Ask if you can use my bathroom when what you really mean to ask is where it is. I will tell you "No."
Throw my lawn furniture into a heap against the side of my house. If I pay you to mow, doesn't that make me your boss?
Say that dandelions aren't flowers. Lawn-nazi.
Point out that I have dark roots. Really? I have mirrors too.
Point out that I have gray hairs. See above.
Refill my wine glass when I'm not looking. I'm trying to keep track here!
Say "You know what? Nevermind." You can't do that.
Give me parenting advice when your kid lives in a trailer with five kids and a worthless boyfriend, or is on the sex offender registry. I mean, come on!
Look at me funny when I bring my trash to the curb at 9:00 am in my bathrobe just as the truck gets there. Maybe I'm too busy to do it any other time.
Ask me if I'm worried about Judgement since I'm not a Christian. No, are you worried about your next life?
Believe that Angelina did NOT break up Brad and Jennifer. She may be charitable and hot, but she's still a homewrecker.
Come home from two weeks on the road and then immediately clean the kitchen. Just what are you trying to say?
Get mad when you find a load of jeans permanently wrinkled into a knot in the dryer. The buzzer is broke and I forget.
Wonder why my best friend knows about our sex life. Uhh, cause I'm a chick?!
Call women my size chubby and then tell me I'm sexy. Yeah right.
Say "ironical". The word is ironic.
Say "eera". It's pronounced aira.
Question my useless stores of pointless facts. Like I remember exactly where I read that only female mosquitoes drink blood, and no I don't know what the males eat.
Imply that I'm a disappointment to Mom. Nice breathalyzer, is it attached directly to the engine or just the ignition?
Complain about taxes and follow it with "This is why I don't vote." Don't vote? Don't bitch.
Allow your kid to come over and ask mine to play half an hour before lunch. If I have to feed her it's officially babysitting, and I will send you a bill.
Complain about having a large chest and then tell me I'm so lucky not to have to worry about it.
Play gangster rap loudly with your windows down, right in front of an elementary school! I don't care how tough you are, be human.
Try to tell me there's a difference between a racial slur ending in a and the same one ending in er. I'm not buying it. Ho and Whore are the same, so is that.
Put spam comments on my blog. No I don't find religious conspiracies interesting. If you're not commenting on the post, don't comment.
Give my neglected flowerbeds sad looks. Most weeds do eventually flower, you know.
Say "I could care less." Really? Because I couldn't. Think about it,
Tell me you can't do anything about the unedited ganster rap your students play in front of your school because the street is public property, and then hassle me when I light a cigarette out there. Make up your mind!
Become rich and famous and then endorse products you obviously don't use. Like I'm going to believe that Sarah Jessica Parker dyes her hair at home with a kit she bought at Wal-Mart.
Send me pro-war chain mail. I don't need an inbox full of "Re: Fwd Fwd Fwd Fwd" messages ending with animated flags, eagles, or fireworks. I support the troops, not the war, and there is a difference.
Say "progressive" as though it were an insult. How can progress be bad? Perhaps those who dislike progressives should be called regressives.
Talk about getting your pet "spaded". Spayed, past tense of spay.
Repeatedly attempt to fly into my ear and then disappear when I grab a fly-swatter. One day life span, my ass!
Somehow find a way to respect a president who says "nucular".