Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Real quick

I'm losing my mind at work, trying to get everything done. I have literally 3 billable days left before we close for not only the month but also the year. If you don't know what I'm talking about, please see the last few posts. I don't even have time to link to them.

I feel like I am losing my mind, trying to compensate my personal life and my work life to make them mesh into something coherent. I wake up in the middle of the night, and if my son's school has a delayed opening then I can fold clothes until I can go to work at 6:45 and then leave to bring the boy to school at 8:30.

Now, at least, the boy is out of school until after the new year, so I can go to work extra early tomorrow, Christmas Eve. All that really means to me is another day that I can bill out work tickets.

Keep in mind that I am saving the whole Service Department's butts by processing this billing in the first place. They are the one's who didn't make certain someone could cover the lady who does the billing... By the way, she's doing much better, thank goodness.

So, Tuesday afternoon, Fancy is busting ass all day trying to do not only her job, but the billing lady's job, also. Fancy has only had time to train the temp to cover the phones and a few other things. Fancy is still issuing purchase orders and getting
interrupted every 30 seconds, while trying to bill.

I had to leave early, my sister needed to get to a doctor's appointment. As I was leaving, I threw a folder on the Service Manager's desk of billings he needed to approve so I could post them. He said, "Wait, I have something for you". My direct supervisor had given me a very generous gift card to local restuarant earlier in the day. I don't know why I assumed that the Service Manager, who's ASS I was saving by doing the Service Billings would have given me an equally generous gift...

The service manager pulls out of his bag...a chocolate covered apple, decorated by either his wife or one of his daughters, he doesn't really know.... Um, thanks? I was kind of hoping for a raise or something, but I guess a chocolate covered apple should do it.

While I was telling my son this story, telling him that he is welcome to eat the stupid apple, I made sure to make fun of myself, also. I called out, "Bitter, party of one."

He looked me straight in the eye, and said, "Mom, that's a party of three."

I thought he was being sympathetic until he revealed the three are "Bitter, Bitchy, and PMS".

Um, thanks, baby, for getting my back?

Monday, December 15, 2008

So, what's new with you?

Saturday I put in five hours at work cleaning up my desk so I could start training a temp to replace me while I go up to do Service billing. Saturday night I worked the Holiday Party, and had a really awesome time. Except my car broke down again on the way there. I was able to make it home, and was very lucky that my niece was already at my house and drove me to the party. I kinda had to be there as I had the list of everyone who was supposed to show up, and their meal choices and $300 in gift cards to give away as door prizes. The president and his new girlfriend drove me home. Which was a bonus - since I didn't have to drive, I took advantage of the open bar.

I not only got a filet mignon dinner out of the deal, I got an additional 3 hours of overtime. I consider that a win-win situation.

My landlord jumped my car yesterday, and I thought maybe it was a fluke that I had so much trouble Saturday night. Maybe I had left the lights on and that was why the battery drained while I was driving. I didn't make sense to me though. I don't think I even had the lights on during the day on Saturday, and why would it start, but then power down while I was driving?

Anyway, I started my baking yesterday, and periodically went out and started the car, with no problems. It started right up this morning, but it was dark and foggy and as soon as I turned the headlights on, it started having problems again. I was able to drop my son off at school, but barely made it out of the parking lot. Going 20 miles per hour, then 15, then 10 as it just kept dying. I made it around a corner where I knew I could pull off the road, put it in drive and it just died. I'm thinking maybe it's the alternator, as the battery is brand new less than a year ago. I have no idea, I don't know cars. I only know I had to walk to the nearest gas station and they didn't have a pay phone, so I had to beg to use their phone to call work and have someone come get me.

I had the car towed again to my mechanic, they'll let me know when they know what the problem is. I cannot stand the idea of another car bill the week before Christmas, but what choice do I have? Again, I'm very lucky that my company had a vehicle I can borrow until I sort out the car situation.

In the meantime, I'm keeping busy at work and at home. So far, I've made 2 batches of cashew brittle, 3 dozen chocolate chip cookies, 5 dozen black & white cookies, and about 100 chocolate peanut butter cups. I refuse to let anything knock me down. I'm like a punching bag, hit me and I'll keep getting up, saying "Is that the best you've got? Really, is that all? Cause I can take you. C'mon, let's go...".

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Warning: boring post ahead. A.K.A. I'm going to miss you all

I'm always way behind on reading and commenting on your blogs. I follow a bunch of people because I really like reading what you have to say, but throw one little wrench in the cogs and I can't keep up. I often read at work, and then in the evening when I get home. There will be no more doing anything personal at work anytime soon.

I work in a small office and we all cover for each other on vacation or sick days, if we can. I'm cross trained to cover for both the accounts receivable and the Service department accounts payable ladies. I haven't had to do either in a very long time, but I have meticulous notes. Good damn thing.

Our Service department accounts payable lady took the first week of December off to go to Mexico. No one covered for her because she's a work horse and control freak and insisted she could get everything done when she got back. She came back Monday and started catching up, but Tuesday she came in with what appeared to be a painful stomach virus. She couldn't keep anything down, and they sent her home. Wednesday she was admitted to the hospital with an intestinal blockage and they performed emergency surgery on her this afternoon. I don't have an update on how she's doing, and I really hope she will be okay, I like her very much and don't like to see anyone in pain. I also seriously doubt she's coming back on Monday.

Whenever I have covered for a co-worker for a period of time in the past, they hired a temp to do at least part of my job. At this point, they still haven't hired a replacement for the HR girl they "laid-off" 2 months ago. The lady doing the payroll on top of her normal job technically only works part time, so I've been picking up as much slack of her work as I can.

People were running around panicking when they realized that Not One Person in the Service department knows how to do the billing.
It's December 11th and NO service billings have been entered yet for the month. Monthly contract invoices haven't been issued, we've already got a two week backlog on work tickets that can be billed, and on Monday it will be three weeks.

They are stupid fucks for not thinking ahead, like nothing could ever happen to her, but I've got notes. Granted I haven't done it in 2-1/2 years, even though I have brought it up on numerous occasions that I'm rusty and she should throw something my way every once in a while so I could brush up. But hey, let's give it a shot.

I gloated for a little while, not at the fact that my co-worker is sick - I'm not that twisted, but then I got down to work. It turns out she was already behind when she left, and hadn't yet sent out November's invoices. Again, nobody else even knew how to separate them to put them in the mail. I spent all afternoon sending out hundreds of invoices. You can bill all you want, but if the invoices don't go into the mail, customers don't send those checky-money things back to us.

We'll see what the next couple of weeks bring, but I'm thinking I'm going to get some overtime for Christmas. Which is in two weeks. And I haven't started my shopping or baking yet. So if you don't hear from me, I'm either drowning in work, or drowning in chocolate chips, or I'm in jail because I've killed my mother.

Call 911 on January first, k?

I'm just sayin'...

When I posted last weekend about my favorite Christmas cartoon being The Year Without a Santa Claus, fellow blogger BeckEye left me a comment that her favorite was Santa Claus is Coming to Town. I had forgotten how much I thought I liked that one. It's been a long time since I've seen it.

Last night it was on the ABC Family channel and I decided to watch it. I was a little disturbed by the lyrics of some of the songs. The first one was, "If you sit on my lap today, a kiss a toy is the price you'll pay". According to Wikipedia, I'm not the only one that was disturbed by that. Most years when it aired on network television they edited that song right out.

The second song only bothered me in relation to the first because Kreepy Kris Kringle said it to the children while smiling his creepy smile, "I'll see you when you're sleeping, I'll know when you're awake, I'll know when you've been bad or good...".

Does anyone else think the producers/writers of this cartoon were pedophiles?

I couldn't find any video of the actual song from the cartoon, but see if this doesn't creep you out even more:

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Christmas memories

My all time favorite Christmas cartoon is the The Year Without A Santa Claus. My brother Jimmy and I both loved it. Our favorite part was when Heat Miser did his song and dance.

We always joked with our mom that she looked exactly like Heat Miser, right down to the hair, and her dancing abilities. Only, he could sing better.
We didn't like their version of Blue Christmas, though. We liked Elvis's version much better.

Jimmy could be counted on to unbutton his shirt and flip up his collar to give us his rendition on demand, as long as Elvis was already playing, you know - backing him up.

I'm not really going anywhere with this, just reliving some good holiday memories and traditions.

Every year it's little bit of a tradition that we have a big sandwich lunch on Christmas day. When we were younger it was a treat for us to have a sandwich that had more than one piece of meat and cheese. We would make Dagwood sandwiches with a variety of meats, cheeses, breads, condiments, maybe pickles and roasted red peppers, the more the better. We always finished it up with a plate of Mom's homemade cookies.

One year, while my sister Bouf was making Christmas cookies, she and Jimmy decided to make something a little naughty. And they put it on Mom's dessert plate of Christmas cookies. Thank god she had a sense of humor!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas ornaments

MelO sent me something the other day that was like a Christmas themed Meme, email version. I don't want to bore you with all the specifics, but a portion of it caught my interest. It asked if I did the every year ornament collecting thing, which I don't. But I did it for my son when he was born.

I started buying a special ornament every year from the year that he was born up until he was 10 or 11. I tried to make the ornament special or specific to what he was really interested in that year. It went from Pooh Bear to Scoobie Doo to Star Wars, and everything in between. I stopped around 10 or 11 because there are only so many computer ornaments you can buy, and they aren't really varied - there aren't many geared toward the gaming community.

As my son and I were decorating the tree this past weekend, he proudly looked at it the whole thing and said, "All this will be mine in four years...". I had always told him the ornaments that I bought for him would be his when he grows up, maybe 18, maybe 21, who knows. But "all this"? Probably not.

I reminded him that I expect him to be in college in 4 years. If he wants to, he can take the fiber optic tree that Nana left behind for him when she moved to Florida.

Even when he's 21, he's probably going to be living with a bunch of guys who's idea of decorating a tree is throwing empty beer cans at it. Believe me, I've seen that. And you probably have, too.

I realized that while I had specifically been collecting ornaments just for him, I was also collecting them for myself. Almost every school year either he or someone close to him had made an ornament with his picture, or he and I had made an ornament together, or I had a picture of him that I made into an ornament for myself. In the meantime, my collection was growing with other sentimental gifts, an ornament from my Grandparent's tree, a fishing lure of my brother's, a handmade gift from family and friends, or an antique bobble that someone thought I would love. And I do. I love them all.

So, I suggested that maybe he can have his special ornaments when he gets married or something.

The rest, he's going to have to wait for until I die...

Every year I look forward to taking out these decorations for a tree, and find myself reliving some of the happiest times of my life. I think that is what the "holidays" are all about. Finding Joy wherever you can get it.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Max and Patches

Dr. Zibbs asked us to entertain him with some of our boring pet stories. I didn't really think I had anything more than the shit I post about my dog and cats, until I started reading some other people's stories on their blogs. That Damn Expat in particular sparked off a memory, and I had already had the photo out ready to be scanned. Also, I need to liven this place up a little bit, but thanks again for all of your comments about, you know, that which shall not be named.

When I was little we constantly had animals of all sorts and varieties coming and going in and out of our house. When my father was living with us, it was mostly dogs, and their puppies, but after he moved out, it was a free for all. My mother collected stray animals and humans the way other people collect stamps. And many of us children had the same inclination. We were constantly bringing home animals and the ocassional person, hoping she would let us keep them.

I remember my very first time I found a cat that was obviously homeless. I was 10, and she was living on a horse farm around the corner and behind the house we lived in. Every time I went to visit the horses, she would run up to me and wrap herself all around me, purring. I found out from the men who lived there that she had gotten dumped off as a kitten, she didn't really have a place to stay other than the barn, and they didn't feed her. My 10 year old heart was bleeding - she had to fend for herself?! I asked if it would okay if I took her home, since she obviously loved me as much as I loved her, and they didn't seem to have problem with it. This cat was so cool that she let me carry her home in a paper bag while riding my bike. I named her Patches before I even told my mother what was going on.

I don't remember there being a problem with bringing the cat home, and soon enough she was the next cat in the house about to have a litter of kittens.

At the time, we also had a miniature red long-haired Dauchshund. His name was Maximillian, and he was one of the cutest dogs on the face of the earth. I don't know if he just knew his place in the order of things in our house, or if he thought he was a cat, but all the animals lived in harmony.

My mother was working third shift then, so she slept while those of us who still lived at home went to school or work. The story goes that one day while she was sleeping, Max kept scratching at her bedroom door, whining. She got up and tried to let him in, but that wasn't what he wanted. She finally realized that he wanted to show her something, and as soon as she took a step out of her bedroom, he took off running. She followed him to the linen closet where Patches was in the middle of giving birth. He jumped around like an excited Uncle, proud to show off the event.

For weeks after, he lived in that closet with Patches and her babies, and she was perfectly happy to let him do so. He stood guard over the babies when Patches needed to go take care of her business, and he got visibly upset when they cried. It was an amazing cross-species experience for me. Here is a warm and fuzzy picture to go with it.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

It's not Mother's Day

I have to warn you in advance that this is ridiculously long, and really dark. Pass on it if you need to, this is not a humor only blog.

The nightmares started again last night. I think it might have something to do with talking on the phone with my mother last night and realizing she had manipulated me into letting her stay with me for 10 days over Christmas. And I didn't even realize what she had done until I awoke from a nightmare literally kicking "my attacker" who turned out to be a fat cat at the foot of the bed. At 4:30 in the morning I counted the dates on my fingers, and realized with a sense of panic and dread that I had agreed to 10 days.

Her summer visit turned out so badly this year that when she tried to manipulate me by saying, "oh, I guess I've overstayed my welcome". I didn't disagree. "Oh, maybe I should leave early", to which I also didn't disagree. So, she left early, with the vague threat that if she even did come back for Christmas, she would be staying in a hotel. I did not try to dissuade her.

I am not one to hold a grudge, and have remained on friendly terms with her, from 1500 miles away. When she told me in October that she would be coming for Christmas, but would be staying with my niece, KM, I agreed to help her book her flight. She, and my sister Shouf, are coming in on 12/21. Although she wanted to go back before the new year, there were literally no flights on Southwest except for New Year's Eve, late in the evening. Her 85 year old boyfriend understandably did not want to be out on the roads then to pick them up. Also, if they waited to go home until January 3rd, she'd save $100 a ticket. So that was what I booked.

I was grateful to my niece for offering to put my mother up at all, so when my mother asked if she could stay with me for a couple of days since she had prolonged the trip and didn't want to be a burden on KM for all that time, I said okay. I can handle a couple of days. I may have to hide in the basement so I can smoke and stay away from her, and I won't have access to my computer as it will be in my bedroom where I let her stay, I can handle a couple of days.

Let me take a brief interlude in the story to tell you about my mother. I don't think she's ever been properly diagnosed. Mental illness runs in our family with a mean streak, and I think she's got a combination of things going on. She's definitely been diagnosed with depression, but she also suffers from delusions of grandeur and possibly borderline personality disorder. I thought she was getting better over the years, being away from us kids and the stress we cause her, but this past summer made me think she's actually getting worse. Having been a psych nurse for many years, she knows how to fool people into hearing what they want to hear so she's on meds for depression only.

When she first shows up, everything is sunshine and happiness, but the more she stays, the more she warms up, the more she takes over. It's a control thing. The little zingers start. Then she starts to spread her stuff out all over every available space. Every surface in my bedroom where I let her sleep is covered, then the bathroom, then the dining room table and buffet, then the counters of my highly counterless kitchen.

Then the advice and lectures start. She never stops talking for a minute, so you never get a minute of peace anyway. In start the suggestions, then the critisisms of everything I do from what I buy at the grocery store to what I eat, how I raise my child, how I clean my house, how I spend my "money" (ha-ha). Then the crazy starts to come out, "those landlords of yours are no good evil Germans, I could tell the first time I laid eyes on her that her parents are probably Nazis. And Him. He's not a man of his word. How could he let you live in this dump telling you he's going to fix this place up". Said out loud on my back porch while the no-good-evil-Nazi landlords were outside, right next door in our shared driveway.

One night, about six long weeks into her visit this past summer, I was sitting on the back porch smoking and she cornered me. I don't know what had crawled up her ass and died that day, but she started laying in to me about everything under the sun that she could think of to criticize me about. Other than getting in the car and leaving, I had no where to go. She was already occupying my bedroom, she had me cornered on the back porch and the living room I was sleeping in doesn't have a door on it. What was I going to do, lock myself in the bathroom? While I had tears rolling down my face, I very calmly asked her to stop, stop now. She kept going, holding me emotionally hostage, and seemed to be enjoying the attack mode. I don't like being unkind, and she knows it.

I finally told her she needed to go to bed, NOW. When she kept going, I said through clenched teeth, "You Need To Get The Fuck Away From Me, NOW, Mom!". She looked at me like I had slapped her in the face, and she went in.

I didn't really sleep that night. She had the temerity to call me at work the next day, all sunshine, "Hi, Honey! How are you?" I replied with a flat, "fine". "Oh, I see, nevermind". And the bitch hung up on me.

When I got home from work, I couldn't even look at her, nevermind talk to her. I made sure everyone had dinner, and went outside to my back porch. After a while, she walked down the stairs and went out to my little table and chair set at the end of the driveway to call her boyfriend. I could hear her gaily conversing with him, but after a while it sounded like the conversation had taken a turn for the worse as she was angrily yelling things, and then it sounded like she was sobbing. I know for a fact she doesn't pull this side out for her boyfriend, so I peeked around the hedge, and sure enough the phone was down on the table and she was angrily muttering and sobbing to herself, theatrically holding her drink up to her forehead every couple of minutes or so. In full view of all of my neighbors including the landlords.

She finally decided she had milked that scene for all it was worth, and came up the back porch with snot dripping down her face, "uh-huh, gasp, uh-huh, gasp, uh-huh" sobbing up each of the six back stairs. "Mom, are you okay?" "I'm fiiiiiiine." Oy, flash backs to childhood. So much fun.

I waited as long as I could before going back inside, but I finally had to pee. As soon as I opened the door, I saw the empty bottle of Adivan strategically placed on the kitchen counter. I knew she had had a couple of gin and tonics, and didn't know whether the bottle was truly empty or whether she had tried to overdose. As I walked through the dining room, she came flitting down the stairs in one of her see-through little nighties. Not a pretty sight to see from an overweight 70 year woman with knockers down to her knees.

I asked her where her slippers and robe were. She replied, "who cares, Who Cares, WHO CARES?" in this loud sing-songy voice. Keep in mind she is a diabetic who should never have her feet exposed, also the image above should never be exposed. I pointed my finger right in her face and said, "Knock it off Right Now. I will NOT have you traumatize My Child!".

I made sure she hadn't overdosed, and she went to bed, finally. Again, I didn't sleep that night.

Again, she called me at work the next day, knowing I couldn't respond, and told me she was so sorry, she didn't know what had happened. She must have "lost her mind" or something, she couldn't believe how she had acted and was there any way I could forgive her. All I could come up with was, "I can't talk about this right now, but we need to talk about this later." When I got home, and again made sure everyone had dinner, I pulled her out back and straight out said to her that her mental instability was affecting my mental stability and I would not have this in my house any longer. Period. I asked her about her meds, which she seemed to be taking, and I flat out told her they needed to be adjusted.

On top of that, she started some weird shit were she pretended to flinch everytime I came into the room after that. Like I was going to HIT her or something. It was totally demented. I've never hit anyone in my life.

Then she started the shit about leaving early. Okay, bye-bye. I'm done, I've had enough. When you start to fuck with my ability to take care of my kid, nevermind. I'm already a bad enough mother, I don't need YOUR help.

So, where were we?

My mother called over the weekend, but I didn't have time to talk to her. I literally have to carve out a chunk of time because she never stops for a breath, and I really hate talking on the phone. I called her back last night only because I needed to tell her something important, which I was finally able to do after 15 minutes of her rambling.

We talked about this and that, and I asked about the scheduling for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Just so I can have an idea in my head as obviously everything is going to revolve around her as usual. She actually said, I shit you not, "Well, Christmas might be frugal this year, but my present to all of you is that I'm actually going to be there". I almost threw up in my mouth. But again, I don't like to be unkind, so I started saying, "uh-huh, uh-huh", trying to wrap up her self-absorbed show so I could get the fuck off the phone. Before I knew it, she had suggested that when my niece KM brings her over for Christmas she should just stay at my house. "After all, it's just a couple of days...". I agreed, blah, blah, blah. Set Me Free From This Phone Call, Please, Lord...

I awoke at 4:30am this morning counting my fucking fingers. December 25 to January 3 is 10 fucking days. I don't know how I am going to survive.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What a bunch of turkeys

The company I work for gives us turkeys every year for Thanksgiving. Not little cheesy ones, either - these suckers are almost 25 pounds.

Almost every year there are a couple left over for whatever reason, and the shop guy brings his and the extras to a battered women and children's shelter. Last year, not only did we not have any extras, we didn't have enough. It didn't make sense because the lady who does the ordering accounts for every single employee, and orders a few extra just in case. On top of that, even though she orders for herself, she is a Jehovah's Witness and never takes hers. They chalked it up to an error in calculation and this year did it a little differently.

She ordered for every employee, including 2 people out on disability, including Opie's family, even including one for the cleaning guy. Then she ordered 8 extra. With her turkey, the shop guy's turkey, the prez's turkey, and another lady who's out of town and asked for her's to be donated, that should have been 12 extra.

They were personally delivered to the construction guys out in the field or out on disability. There was a list of names to be checked off as each office person or service tech took their's, honor system style. Not everyone got their's by the end of the day, so they were all put into the fridge. This morning there are only 2 extras left.

There are some understandably furious people in the office today. How much free turkey do you really need? 25 pounds wasn't enough you greedy bastards? With the amount of money the people around here make, it is unbelievable that they would even think about taking more than one. I cannot imagine the sense of entitlement you would have to possess to be able to take an "extra" turkey literally right out of a homeless child's mouth.

It's despicable and I'm disgusted.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I published this by accident. I wrote it weeks ago, but then my Gram died and I didn't want so much death on my blog. So I kept pushing it back every week, I would put the next week's date on it for "Wordless Wednesday". I meant to hold off until after Thanksgiving, but put today's date on it instead. It stays up, now. Sorry for the bummer, but I guess this was my subconscious telling me to remember what I am thankful for this week.

In September, one of our field guys died in a tragic car accident. His jeep went off a back road in a torrential rain storm and hit a tree. He was not wearing a seat belt and was thrown from the vehicle. They had to have a closed casket.

This kid was literally one of the nicest people I have ever met. He always had a smile (the kind that lit up his whole face) and never a bad word. I'm not just saying that. He was so sweet and well liked, the guys nicknamed him Opie. This from a pretty rough crowd - most of the nicknames given are not flattering. The loss felt throughout our small company was immense.

I think one guy summed it up gracefully when he said, "God must have had an incredibly special building going up in Heaven to have called him home so early.". He was 31, and left behind 2 young children.

I was asked to get quotes to have hard hat stickers made, maybe with his initials or something simple. I suggested OPIE instead, and it was met with a resounding yes. Every single employee in possession of one of our hard hats now proudly bears a memoriam to one hell of a guy.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cold, or just old?

My internal thermostat usually runs pretty high. At the first sign of heat and humidity, sweat starts pouring off me at an alarming rate. I'm not joking, I don't even wear makeup in the summer because as soon as I put it on I start sweating it right off.

In the winter, I almost never turn the tstat above 62deg and I'm usually still running around in a tee-shirt. That was the way we grew up, conserving money. If you were cold, you needed to go bundle up. Christmas presents were almost always warm bathrobes or those blankets that you zipped and snapped around you (I believe mine may have been Holly Hobby), with the occasional electric blanket thrown in.

So imagine my surprise this year when the cold snap hit and I can't get warm, no matter I do. Granted, it is colder than normal for this time of year, so maybe I just haven't had time to adjust, but I think it's deeper than that. I right now have the tstat set to 64deg, I have on socks, slippers, sweat pants, a long sleeve tee under a sweatshirt, and a velor robe protecting me from my leather and metal chair. And I'm still freezing.

I don't remember ever feeling the cold like this before. Oh, I felt it in different ways. My hands don't work as well in the winter thanks to carpal tunnel and arthritis. My hips and knees hurt a lot, especially on the stairs - but as my doctor pointed out to me a few years ago, those are Weight-Bearing joints. Yeah, fuck you very much, Doc. Helpful. I've got a new doctor now - ha!

So what is it? It's not just at home, I feel it at work, also. Is it age? I'm not technically that old, but I feel like I'm 70. Do I need to get a rocking chair and a fire place and take up crocheting? Do I need to start planning my retirement to a warmer climate?

Next thing you know, I'll be complaining about those youngsters and their loud music, while shaking my cane at them hollering, "Get off my lawn, you hoodlums!".

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

General whining, way too much personal information, and stuff

Whoever said that money can't buy happiness obviously has never laid awake at night worrying about how to keep the heat on when it's 13 degrees outside. I know it wouldn't make me spiritually happy, but not having to worry about money would definitely cut down on the stress level.

To say I am struggling financially would be putting it mildly. I'm not talking unsecured debt, I don't own a credit card. I'm talking basic living expenses.

I knew I really, really needed new tires before winter hit, but every week I'm already robbing Peter to pay Paul, juggling shut off notices and trying not to be late on the rent. I also needed a tune-up on the car, but have been putting everything off until the last possible moment. That moment arrived at about 11:30am on Tuesday.

I was backing out of my parking spot at work, put the car into drive and heard:


or something very similar to that. I turned the radio down, threw her in park and sat there for a minute. Certainly I didn't hear that correctly, must have been something on the radio. I tried again, but didn't even get past reverse before the horrible noise started again. This time, when I put her back in park she was still rolling. Not a good sign. I turned the car off, put on the emergency brake and found a big strong man to push the car back into the parking spot.

I called my mechanic, whom I totally trust. He coincidentally went to work at the little business I bought the car from who financed me. I just finished paying the car off the month before I had to start making payments on my son's tuition. My mechanic told me to have the car towed and he'd take a look at it. I don't have AAA, but my sister does and she let me borrow her member number. The tow was free as it was under 5 miles.

I got the news this afternoon. It was not the transmission as I had feared, but both front drive axles were shot, and the car could no longer be driven on those tires. When he told me the price, I couldn't breathe for a minute, like someone had kicked me in the solar plexus. When the lungs started functioning again I said, "let me call you back". I grabbed a cigarette and my ball-sac, and headed out back into the shop where I could smoke and talk in relative privacy.

I called back and asked for the finance guy. I explained the situation and asked if there was any way they would finance the repairs, offering my title as collateral. He agreed, as long as I brought a down payment to them on payday. He went as low as he could on the weekly terms, but I still have no idea how I'm going to do it. I'll figure it out as I go along, I guess. I told him while they were at it, throw in a tune-up. What the hell, it's only money, right?

Here is where I'm going to stop whining and realize how lucky I am. I am lucky that I was in my parking lot at work when my car broke down, and not doing 65mph on the highway, stuck in the middle of moving traffic, stranded without a cell phone. I am lucky that my sister has AAA and was willing to let me use it. I am lucky that I work less than 5 miles from my mechanic and didn't have to pay for the tow. I am lucky that my company not only had an extra vehicle handy, but were willing to let me borrow it indefinitely. I am lucky that the shop guy was thoughtful enough to go out and fill the vehicle with gas on a company card. I am lucky that the auto place was willing to finance a repair charge that would have been impossible for me to come up with all at once.

I know we're all struggling in one way or another. May your struggles today be made a little less hard by the people around you. I know I'm being corny, so I'm going to take it a step further with an old nursery rhyme that just popped into my head:

"Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat. Please put a penny in the old man's hat. If you haven't a penny, a ha'penny will do. If you haven't a ha'penny, then God Bless YOU."

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The five of us

There are very few pictures of my siblings and I together that aren't staged. There are a few group shots at a professional photography studio, more often with our children thrown in. Or there are awesome shots of our children, but not much with us. There are few in between. We have a million pictures taken of each other, but not of all of us together - only us, without one of us looking drunk or somehow not up for the picture.

The window of opportunity officially closed when my brother Jimmy died in 1993, at the age of 26. My sisters and I swore we would never take another group picture of "us" if he couldn't be a part of it. And we stuck to it.

After my grandmother's memorial, last weekend, I found pictures I did not know existed. I scanned them and sent them to my sisters, who also had never seen them before. They were from our grandparent's 50th anniversary in 1984. They are awesome. My sisters are smokin' hot. And I am, well, I am 13. I swear I got prettier. From the left, it usually goes Kouf, Bouf, me in my May Day dress, Jimmy, and Shouf.

Kouf, are you wearing a white satin jumpsuit? With black "fuck me pumps"?

Bouf emailed me from Arizona to tell me that she remembered buying that dress. In a size zero. Bitch...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Gram's memorial

My Grandmother's memorial service was yesterday. She died very peacefully on October 21, four months before she would have turned 100, and she wanted everything to be the same as when her husband died in 1984. No wake; just a cremation, memorial service, and scattering the ashes off a ferry in Long Island Sound.

I honestly thought that because I really didn't have much of a relationship with her, it would not be a big deal. I would fulfill my familial obligation out of respect for her, and it would be over. I guess I'm more sentimental than I thought, and I shed a few tears for the old battle axe.

The memorial service itself was beautifully done. I'm sad my father couldn't make it up from Florida, but he's still not physically able to travel. My Aunt C, who was Gram's only daughter, is the one who has taken care of everything for Gram for years, and planned it all down to a tee. Both my uncles got up and read passages, the hymns were gorgeous, and three of my cousins offered eulogies. The eulogies were all well thought out, and 2 of them lovingly poked fun at her. One of my cousins said it best when he said (and I'm paraphrasing), "If I just painted a rosy picture of my grandmother, I wouldn't be doing to justice to who she really was." Another pointed out that "she was a difficult woman". But they all were able to talk about good memories they had and lessons they learned from her.

After the memorial, we went back to the assisted living facility for a reception in the dining room. It was a very simple affair, highlighted by extended family and friends sharing memories, and a ton of photo albums.

When all the other people left, Aunt C asked us to go back to Gram's apartment and go through the remaining possessions and take whatever we wanted, or that we have given to her, or held sentimental value to us. In addition, Gram had a Hummel collection that she had written a list of years ago, assigning one to each member of the family that was alive at the time. No small task considering she left behind 4 children and their spouses, 13 grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren, and 2 great-great-grandchildren. I was incredibly touched that she specifically left something to my son.

What I treasure most is being entrusted with the pictures. I promised to scan them all and put them up on the family website I started, so everyone can share them.

Today, my sister Kouf and I drove to New London for the 11:15 ferry to Fishers Island. 15 of us boarded the ferry, with Gram in a backpack getting her last free ride. There were probably only 5 other people on the ferry, besides the crew. I cannot tell you what a beautiful day it was. It was windy, but the sun was shining and the swells were only about 4 feet. Considering what Long Island Sound could have been on a November day, we agreed that Heaven was smiling down on us this day.

My uncle had called ahead to make arrangements. As it was off-season, they were willing to accommodate us. About 2 miles off Fishers Island, they slowed the engines and allowed us down on the lower deck that would have been full of cars peak-season. We gathered around in a circle as my aunt recited one last poignant reading. My uncle handed the biodegradable urn to my aunt, and she simply said, "Goodbye, Mom" and tossed the urn over the side, along with a huge wreath of pink and white fresh flowers. We all rushed along the side and then to the end of the ferry, watching as the current took the urn and the flowers away. We waited until we could no longer see it, and then we dissolved into group hugs and tears.

Kouf and I hugged and cried until the engines started back up and they made us go above. We all still stood right at the top of the stairs, watching the waves even though we couldn't see anything any longer. We marvelled that the urn didn't sink right away, even though we knew it would float for a couple of minutes before filling with water. We joked that the old bird was stubborn even in death, and would somehow find her way over to Lord's Point, where she and Gramp had lived for so many years. We even joked that we hoped Aunt C had put her name and number on the urn so that when it showed up on a beach, someone could return Gram's ashes to her.

And that is how we will heal. We shared an incredibly intimate moment together, and immediately diffused it with humor - that is what we do. I will never forget how beautiful it was.

I took pictures. The bright blue thing amongst the flowers is my Gram's ashes in the biodegradable urn. Rest in peace, Gram, I think we honored you today in the best way we could have, and I hope you know it.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Will I never learn?

When my son joined the football team at his new high school, he only had one year of midget football under his belt, and that was 2 years ago. The less experienced kids don't get as much time on the field, but it doesn't seem to bother him. It didn't help that for a week during practice he didn't have a helmet. He thought he had lost it and didn't say anything to me about it. I knew it was sitting in the trunk of my car, but didn't know he needed it. That was the week they started practicing tackling and running plays, which they wouldn't let him do without a helmet The extras they ordered hadn't come in yet. That was also the week they assigned first-string positions.

He loves the exercise every day, the weight training, the pasta party Fridays, and just generally being part of a team. There are 3 teams, Freshmen, JV, and Varsity. The older kids watch out for the younger ones in the hallways and during study hall and lunch. It's nice to be a freshman and have a senior acknowledge you in the hallway, right? There are only about 750 kids in the whole school, and they are pretty tight. I think we had over that number in my graduating class at Public High.

I've only missed 2 away games this season - of course those were they only 2 games they won. My son suggested maybe I should stay away more often... They are just starting to really come together as a team, with 3 games left to go. Not many of them had a lot of experience, and the coach only has so much to work with. Being such a small school, only 19 boys signed up. You can tell some of them are really into it, and so frustrated by their losses. My kid is just happy to be there!

I was at the game this past Friday, and let me tell you, those kids put their hearts into it. It was a really great game, they played hard and tried out some new strategies. There were some really excellent passes and catches. I walked around taking pictures, and at one point in my wandering up and down the sideline I came across a fellow mother who was video taping the game. They try to video tape as many games as possible. At the next practice they review the tape as a team and Coach gives them feedback. At the end of the year, from what I understand, some technologically advanced parent splices them into a Best Of dvd for each player to have as a keepsake.

So, I'm talking to the videotaping mother, just chatting about the game in between plays, and she asks, "Which one is yours?" I tell her he's number 35, and she looks out to the field to try to find him. I say, "Oh, no, he's on the sidelines - where he usually is". And then I look down at the video camera in her hand and start to panic. "Oh my god! Are you RECORDING?!?!"

Her eyes went as wide as mine as she pulled the camera up to her eye in what seemed like slow motion. Sweet relief, she had stopped recording in between plays. "Good thing", she said, "cause I don't know how to rewind this thing!". "Yeah, good thing, cause it would have been a tragedy if Coach's video camera accidentally got broken!".

Why can I not just once in a while think before I speak? Especially when there is a video camera around?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

WWJD, Halloween style

My son and a group of his friends went trick-or-treating together last night in an affluent section of town where one of them lives. I was pretty amused that both he and that boy wore Hillary Clinton masks, bought separately and unaware of each other. And no, he wouldn't let me take his picture, the little stinker.

My son brought his athletic bag to hold his candy, and came home with it filled. The thing must weigh 10 pounds! I checked it out this morning, it was unbelievable. I've never seen such an assortment, nor have I ever seen so many full sized candy bars. The boy will never want to go trick-or-treating in the ghetto, again; although this should be his last year of trick-or-treating, anyway.

We were talking earlier today about what a good time he had. They covered about 3 miles of territory to get all that candy. Then he told me that some people had left a bowl of candy on the front porch, honor system style with a sign asking to please just take one.

"And did you all just take one?"

"Hell no, mom."

"But, J, that's cheating!"

I look at him, still in his pajamas - a WTFWJD shirt and Family Guy Stewie flannel pants. His eyes are puffy from sleep, and he looks like a big, huge version of my little boy. When I hug him, my head doesn't even come up to his shoulder. But that doesn't mean he's too big for me to try steer him in the right direction.

"J, what you did was wrong. What would Jesus do in that situation? I mean, really, look at the shirt you're wearing. What the fuck would Jesus do?"

"If he was in a group with his friends, he would probably have done what we did. Run to get as much candy as you can before anyone else got there."

"No, J. Jesus would have taken just one...

And then he would have performed a miracle so it would be enough to feed the whole crowd." As I was saying this, I was also using jazz hands.

He had to turn and leave the room.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Retail Therapy

If you've read my blog recently, you might know that my son and his first girlfriend broke up a couple of days ago.

Any one who knows anything knows that the therapy for a break-up is.... SHOPPING!

We had already needed to have our hairs cut, so that was where we started. Then we went to BJ's and got junk food. In Bulk.

Then we went to Walmart. I had already planned to buy the boy some new things, and he didn't ask for much. We kind of roamed around and saw whatever caught his eye.

Nothing quite grosses a young man out more than his mother asking for the insert from his new package of underwear. But seriously, check this guy out. What the hell is he packing?

Here are a couple of really cool things that he picked out for himself.

What can I say, the kid has great taste.

After that, we carved pumpkins in the dining room. It was kind of awesome.

After carving, I made a great dinner, bloody rare T-bones.

Then I roasted the pumpkin seeds.

Do you wanna see our Jack-0-Lanterns?

Here is a scary kitty:

Here is a scary....um, penis?

Friday, October 24, 2008

My kid is pretty cool, sometimes

My son and a young lady started casually "dating" over the summer. I met her mother briefly once at a summer party. She and I email each other every once in a while, mostly about stuff to do with our kids. I was amused when she sent me a joke email that I thought was rather risque to send to someone you don't really know. Especially a fellow Catholic school mother. SHE doesn't know what a heathen I am.

My son let me know yesterday that he and the young lady had broken up. I talked to him about how he felt about it, and he actually talked back to me, which was pretty nice given that he's a 14 year old who has a hard time communicating his emotions. I also told him it was too bad because I really liked the young lady's mother. He said he was cool with it if I wanted to continue being friendly with her. As a matter of fact, he was probably more cool with it since they had broken up than he was when they were together. He felt pretty awkward when he found out the first time we had emailed each other.

Last night I got a new email from the mother:

"Very good video."

Oh yes, she did. Two weeks after I happily supported Connecticut legalizing civil unions for homosexuals.

I forwarded her email to my son with a note, "so there goes a potential friendship, right down the political tubes".

He emailed me back, "What, can't you be friends with a conservative?"

Out comes my lecture mode. It's right up there with my over-react mode, my always say the inappropriate thing at the wrong time mode, and my give way too much information mode.

"Of course I can be friends with a conservative. But I don't think I can be friends with someone who doesn't even for a second ask my political views or know anything about me before sending me messages about such highly charged issues such as pro-life and homosexuality and marriage and family.

I know that the way I have raised you with the Catholic religion as your base may make our beliefs differ from each other, sooner or later. I will never regret the education and moral basis and moral code that the Catholic school system has provided to you.

You and I may not always see eye to eye, as long as we agree to respect each other, and each other's opinions.

I am extremely pro-choice, have never been married and am a single mother. If you are still reading this, sweetie, know that my choice was to have you, even when others were advocating abortion. It was MY CHOICE, and I chose life. I have never had an abortion, I don't know that I could. But I wholeheartedly support a woman's right to choose what to do with her body, with her life, with her womb.

Anyone who knows me for a split second knows I wouldn't support a message that includes the term "Evangelical Christians". No matter how many flavors you put in the Kool-aid.*

I love you,


p.s. file this under way too heavy of a response for a flippant reply"

*note to Zibbs, I wrote this email last night, before I saw your Kool-aid post today. Coincidence? Or is it something in the water?

I just watched the video again. Since last night, it looks as though the link has been edited. There are now 2 versions floating around, the second is less inflammatory. I found the original on YouTube.

I love the part about protecting sacred life from conception to "natural death". When the Christian George W. Bush was the governor of Texas, didn't that state carry out the death penalty more than any other state ever? Also the part about America being built on Judeo Christian values. While that may be partly true, wasn't the country also founded by people from many different cultures looking to escape religious persecution? Weren't many of the original colonists Puritans and Quakers? And isn't it in the Constitution that all men are created equal? Add the Civil Rights Amendment, in which all men, being created equal, should be extended the same rights and liberties - shouldn't that mean even the men that want to marry each other?

This was the reply waiting for me when I got to work this morning, "Bah, you know I'm not Conservative. Highly from it. I agree with mainly all your political beliefs, except for swearing at the tv when Republicans are on. And she just assumed that since you were sending me to *name of Catholic school removed* that you were probably some sect of Christianity and held the same beliefs as her."

Do you see what he did there? In a few sentences he not only talked me down, but sympathized with me while trying to be fair to the other party. This kid is wise beyond his years. Maybe HE should go into politics.
Although he'll never get far when they start researching his crazy family.

If you are a Christian, an Evangelical Christian, or a Republican, please know that I respect you and your opinions. I hope you will do the same for me. It is, after all, still a free country.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Grandma, 02/26/1909-10/21/2008

My grandmother died today. She was 99, almost four months exactly to the day before turning 100.

She would be the first person to tell you that she had outlived herself, she was ready to go five years ago. I would like to believe that it was because she was such a stubborn old bird that she made it as long as she did.

I would like to tell you that she and I had a good relationship, or a relationship at all, but we didn't. I would like to tell you that I am broken up about this, but other than being sad, I'm okay. We have known for weeks, if not months, that this was coming.

She was failing, and the best qualified, most appropriate people were there taking care of her. She was not in any pain, or suffering. She and her only daughter, my Aunt Cynth, had made arrangements years ago not to resuscitate or prolong her life in any unnatural way. She was made very comfortable in her own apartment in an assisted living facility. When she could no longer eat or drink on her own, Hospice came in and made her comfortable.

She died at peace, with her dignity intact. That would have meant a lot to her. She was an incredibly dignified lady. That is how I choose to remember her.

I hope you find peace, Grandma.

Is there a therapist in the house?

I had the strangest dream last night.

I realize mid-sentence that I am talking to a group of people in a school hallway, and I'm dressed in a Catholic School uniform. I'm telling this group of people that because I should have graduated 20 years ago, but got my GED instead, I thought it would be a great idea for me to start as a Freshman with my son at his high school. I made sure we weren't going to share any of the same classes, and in my dream he seemed fine with the idea. Which is not how it would have gone down in real life.

I'm walking down hallways and up and down staircases, completely lost. It's not my son's school but my public high school. And no one else is in uniform, not even my son. I can't find my binder with my schedule that tells me what room I'm supposed to be in next. I find myself in a locker type room going through my locker frantically searching for my schedule. Just as I realize my backpack is not mine but my son's, the V.P. of the company I work for starts admonishing me for being late for class. I tell him that I don't know what class I'm supposed to be in, or where I'm supposed to go. He tells me I'm supposed to be in Algebra and that I should have planned better, been more prepared.

I go out into the empty hallways again trying to find my algebra class. Just as the bell rings and kids start pouring out of classrooms, I look down and realize I am completely naked from the waist up. Kids start pointing and laughing, whispering behind their hands, "hey, isn't that Mrs. Schmancy, J's mom?". I duck into the next doorway which I think is the girl's bathroom but ends up being the boy's locker room.

I hide in a stall until the next bell rings. Luckily, when searching my son's backpack I find one of his polo shirts, I'm bra-less but not longer topless. I decide I better go to the nurse's office and complain of female problems to get sent home before this day goes any more wrong.

When I get to the nurse's office, it seems to be set up as a flu-shot clinic for seniors. I ask for the nurse and the lady asks me if I'm here for a flu shot. I'm not that old, bitch. The nurse must have sent me home because the next thing I know I'm running across the lawn as fast as I can to get away from that place.

That's all I remember. Which is a lot because I never remember more than bits and pieces. This is wrong on so many levels. Am I envious of my son having such a good high school experience so far that I want to go back and change my own? Even though I am obviously an embarrassment? And old?

What the fuck?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Say it ain't so, Joe

The summer after 7th grade we moved to a house in a section of Mansfield, Connecticut called Eagleville. For a couple of months before school started, the only person I hung out with was the boy next door, Peter Kitts.

He was a sweet, if a little strange, young man. But I was a sweet, strange, young woman. These were innocent times, 1983, I was 12, he was 13. We offered each other friendship and exploration, both of us having come from different places, neither of us having really fit in before. It was a short, special time where we weren't judged by our peers. We were free to just hang out together and be ourselves.

I had come from a town where I was definitely considered to be on the low end of the social totem pole. I basked in Peter's admiration. He had come to Mansfield just a year earlier from an Ashram. I had never heard of such a thing, and was fascinated. He also told me his real name wasn't Peter. When his mother married his step-father, Steven Kitts, he and and his brother were given the opportunity to pick their own new names, with their step-father's last name. Hence, Rivers became Peter, Leaves became Jimmy. I remember telling him, "What a coincidence, we both have a brother named Jimmy!".

Peter turned me on to soccer, computers, and music totally different from what my siblings listened to. Hello, KISS. He would sing Stray Cats Sexy & 17 to me and change the words so it fit. He couldn't wait until I turned 13 so it would it sound better.

Does this bring you back?

When school started, I was very lucky that I had already met someone who could introduce me to people. Peter had friends at the middle school, and they welcomed me in. But they were all boys. And, eventually in my eyes, they were all geeks and nerds. I craved to be part of the popular crowd.

I met up with one of the popular girls and she and I made fast friends. The more I fell into her clique, the less I hung out with Peter and his friends.

All good things eventually have to come to an end. And they did for Peter and I. By the time I finally turned 13 for him to sing that song to me, we had shared our first kiss, and also our last. I'm not proud of the way I treated him, but I'm honest about it. My 13 year old self saw bigger and better things on the horizon and broke it off with him.

Here are some pictures from that period. This first one is the only picture of Peter and I, in our shared back yard.

Next is a picture from our eighth grade production, Annie. I loved that the music teacher thought to spread the lead around. Annie was a different girl in every scene. I got to sing "Tomorrow" on stage with a live dog.

The rest are 1984 eighth grade year book photos.

Peter and I shared a love of singing. However, after we broke up, we never had anything to do with each other, again. Here we are in a Chamber Singers photo. He's first row, second from right. I'm second row, fourth from left.

Here are the 1984 Cheerleaders for Mansfield Middle School. I'm first row, first on the left. Hello, feathered hair, cuffed jeans, button down oxfords and Dock Siders.

I moved again the next summer. Peter and I never spoke, again. Imagine my surprise when I saw his high school graduation picture in Rolling Stones magazine.

I've followed him for many years, but I have no claim to his fame. I haven't heard a song about me, or us, but I really think he should write one about his first kiss. In the meantime, he was kind enough to friend me on MySpace, but other than replying, "wow, is it really you?", he's too busy with his real life to chat with someone who was a rude bitch to him 25 years ago.

Say it ain't so.

I remember his kitchen in Eagleville looking oddly similar to the one in the video. Also, Peter's friend, Justin, is in the Chamber Singers picture right behind him, but one to the left. Justin is still his friend, from what I read on the internet.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Speaking of putting my foot in my mouth

I went out Wednesday evening and got 2 cards for boss's day, one for my supervisor and one for the prez. There were only 2 funny boss's day cards at the cheapie place I went, and I couldn't decide which card to give to which guy. I just turned them over, wrote a name on each envelope and sent them around in folders to be signed.

(I also went to get the supervisor gift cards at Hooters that we all chipped in on. He loves their wings. Riiiiiight. How funny would it have been if when I walked in I asked for a job application instead of gift cards? I'm sorry, m'am, they don't make orange hot pants in that size.)

Thursday morning, my best work buddy, Jane, wasn't in her office. Our supervisor said she wouldn't be in, so when the cards came back to me I signed for her. She had contributed to the supervisor's gift card and I wanted to make sure he knew that. His card read something about how we couldn't decide what to get him for boss's day, so we all decided what he would like best is if we took the rest of the week off. I wrote, "Jane would sign if she was here!".

Two hours later the prez sent out an email saying Jane had been placed on administrative leave until further notice.

I'll just be sitting on the floor in the corner with both feet in my mouth for the rest of the day.

p.s. Is this irony or just coincidence? I can never remember. Damn Alanis Morissette!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

This is where I get it from

I tend to put my foot in my mouth more often than not. I'm one of those people that can always be counted on to say the wrong thing at the right time and make an ass out of myself. If you're one of the people on whose blogs I randomly leave stupid comments that make no sense, then you may have already guessed this about me.

I recently read back one of the comments I left and wondered, "what the fuck was I talking about?". If I was wondering, I'm sure he was, too. On another lady's blog, I almost incited a riot when her sister wanted to kick my ass over an inappropriate comment I made about her daughter (that I thought was funny as hell, but her sister didn't get). I've actually decided to back off on the commenting so much because of these and a few other goofs, and especially not commenting while drinking. But that is not the reason for this post, just setting up the story that helps explain that I come by this honestly, it's in my DNA.

This is my mother's story, I'm just borrowing it.

After my parents divorced, my mother was still invited to all of my father's family's functions. My mother and her sister had sort of grown up with my father and his siblings and she counted my father's sister as one of her best friends. When my father started getting serious with the lady I call Bee, he decided he needed to introduce the two of them in a neutral setting. He took them both out to dinner.

My mother was understandably extremely nervous. My parents had been married for almost a quarter of a century, and she had never loved another man but my dad. She didn't date after the divorce, either. Now she was going to meet the woman my father was moving in with, a woman at least 10 years younger, and have to face this woman at every family function in the forseeable future.

They got to the restaurant and made nice-nice, small talk. My father can be charming when he wants to be. They ordered a round of drinks and continued chatting politely about nothing that mattered. My mother was still nervous, and slammed her first drink. My mother is not a big drinker. My father seemed very surprised by this and asked her if she was ready for another. Apparently my mother was just as surprised, because she looked at her empty in astonishment and replied, "Oh my, I think I have a glass in my hole".

This broke the ice for the rest of evening, and has become a classic example of the verbal dyslexia that runs rampant in the family.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Oh no, not again!

I live on a pretty busy road, about 5 houses up a small incline from a major intersection with an even busier road. Across from my house is a little road that leads into a maze of little post-World War II era homes.

This morning, I had to pick up my cousin who lives in the subdivision across the street to do some stuff. As I was pulling out of my driveway, I noticed a toddler on a plastic tricycle, pushing himself along the sidewalk of that street across the way. While I was waiting for traffic to clear so I could pull out, I watched him turn the corner, still on the sidewalk, but onto my very busy road. I look around and there was not an adult in sight. This kid could not have been more than 2, and he's pushing himself down the hill toward a major intersection, binky firmly in mouth. It didn't even look like he could reach the pedals.

I throw the car in park and run across the street, down the hill after him yelling, "little boy, little boy, hey you on the big wheel, STOP!". I caught up with him just around the time he stopped and looked around at me, about 30 feet before the intersection. "Hey, buddy, where's your momma?" He just stares at me with his big brown eyes, binky still firmly in mouth. "I know you're not supposed to talk to strangers, so it's okay not to talk to me, but let's turn around and go back up the hill and find your momma, okay?" He starts pushing himself backward, then turns it around and we start going up the hill, together. I tell him again, "I know I'm a stranger, but you're on a very busy road and you could get big boo-boos. We need to find your momma." How creepy does that sound? Add that I wanted to show him a puppy and feed him some candy and I could have just stolen him. Luckily for him, I don't like children.

Right after we turn around, I see a couple walking toward me, but it turns out they are not his parents. We keep going up the hill with me telling him he's doing a good job, trying to help him steer, pushing him up the hill and taking over the handlebars where I have to because he keeps trying to go off the sidewalk into oncoming traffic, until we get to the corner across from my driveway.

I look around and see a lady down that side road and across the street and yell to her asking if the kid is hers. Nope, not hers either. As I'm leaning over the kid and asking him if he knows which house is his, does he know where his momma is, my next door neighbor yells, "there she is!".

There is a lady walking up from the intersection, she looks vaguely familiar, but I can't place her, and she's way too old to be the kid's mother. She's saying something that doesn't make sense about going the wrong way when she was looking for him and had to go around the block. All I heard was yada-yada-yada. I said, "Sorry if I stepped on your toes, but he was headed down the hill toward the intersection". She says, "Did he put his brakes on?". I was flabbergasted. "Uh, no, he was pushing himself, not pedaling." Do those things even have brakes?

She gets to the kid and smacks him on the arm. "Bad boy, DANGER!" She pulls the kid off the bike, swats his rear-end and tells him he's walking home. "Bad boy, do you know how much trouble you are in?" I'm watching this with my jaw dropped open in disbelief. She finally turns and thanks me, but I could not reply.

I'm thinking, "you stupid cunt, why were YOU not keeping a better eye on him? You didn't even know which way out of the driveway he had gone! He could have gotten run over or stolen!". I have never been the kind of person to interfere with how other people want to raise their children. To some people that might seem wimpy, but I also don't go out of my way to poke bears with a stick. Especially when the bear already seems a little crazy. I wanted to punch her in the face, quite honestly, and I am not a physically violent person. Oh, sure, I get the impulses, but I don't act upon them.

It didn't help that the kid kept staring at ME with those big brown eyes while this was going on, like "I thought you told me we were going to find my momma?". Even when I crossed the road and got in my car, I looked over and the kid was still staring at me. He never cried, he never uttered a sound during all of that. All I could do was wave to him, and drive away. Because what I really wanted to do was swoop that baby into my arms and bring him to my house and feed him chocolate milk and sugar cookies until his momma really did come get him. And maybe get him a kitten. Again, it's a good thing I don't act purely on my impulses.

I was still shaking when I got to my cousin's house. She was kind enough to hug me and tell me I had done the right thing, and that she probably
would have punched the lady in the face. She and I did stuff for the next couple of hours, and I eventually stopped thinking about it.

After dropping my cousin off, the quickest way home is to go down the street I mentioned earlier across from my house. As I always do when passing by the house that I almost stole the cat from, I looked over to see if the cat was in the yard. Holy Mother of God, it was the same lady! That was why she looked so familiar. I almost stole her cat last year, I almost stole her grandson this year.

One of these days she is going to call the cops on me. And I don't know how I'm going to defend myself.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Keep it in your sneaker

After my father, Horhay, moved out of my mother's house he was a fleeting presence in my life. He was supposed to have custody of those of us under 18 on an every other weekend schedule. But for the most part, it was not enforced. It would have gotten in the way of his drinking. No one wanted to get in the way of Horhay's drinking. By the time I was 14, I was the only one left under the age of 18.

My father was living with a woman, Bee. I will not say much about Bee, other than she was younger than my father, and had no children of her own at the time.
I have to say that she tried with me, and I did not usually repay her very nicely with my teenage hostility. It must have been quite an adjustment to suddenly have teenage step-children, and also step-grandchildren calling her Grandma Bee.

(On a side note, they eventually married and had a child together. When my little brother was born, I was 16. Kouf was 26 and her husband was the same age as her step-mother. My little brother was born with 2 nieces and step-niece, all older than him.)

Between the ages of 12-14, I started spending a good amount of time over there on the weekends. They let me drink beer and smoke cigarettes, and sometimes Bee and I would smoke pot. Sure I had to listen to the drunken screaming matches sometimes, but it was like staying with a kinda cool aunt. It also gave me the chance to get to know my father, whom I previously only saw on holidays.

At one point, my father decided to give me "the talk". It went something like this - Keep It In Your Sneaker. Already long knowing about the birds and the bees, I still had no idea what he was talking about. My mother had given me the clinical version in fourth grade. Anatomically, I had nothing to keep in my sneaker. Do they really have thingies that are long enough to keep in their sneaker? Does it hurt when they walk?

Asking for clarification, I was told, "All a boy wants to do is get in your pants. Look at me, I'm a 48 year old man and I'm still trying to get into the pants of anything that moves." Um, thanks, dad. That's a visual image I'll never be able to get out of my head.

I pretty much have had no idea what Keep It In Your Sneaker meant all these years until I started searching around on the net recently. It apparently refers to being a kid and your parents might tell you to put money or keys in your sneaker. Keep it out of sight so no one can get it/steal it. More broadly used to mean keep a secret, keep it on the DL but in a much more Leave it Beaver way. (Yes, I did just manage to put the word beaver on a post about the sex talk.)

Has anyone else heard this phrase? Especially in reference to sex?

How did your parents explain it to you?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Part 2 of Seamus and the brain tumors

This is Part 2 of Seamus and the brain tumors. Here is Part 1. I would highly recommend you read Part 1 first, or it will not make any sense to you.

I showed up on Sunday to take Seamus to lunch. When I rang the front doorbell, all kinds of dogs started barking. Seamus's sister told me that this was not a good day for him. Apparently the paper had printed the wrong date the day before. Seamus looked to the paper to tell him what day it was, and was highly agitated that it was Sunday two days in a row. He could not, would not let that go. His sister said he would probably obsess about it till the next Saturday. Also, the noise level in the house was driving him crazy. When I showed up, he could not even acknowledge my presence because he could not find his Yankees hat. He could not leave the house without his Yankees hat.

We then went on the puppy issue. Seamus ranted about the Goddamn dog that could not be trained properly in this house full of other dogs and all those kids. And the dog didn't like to do his business outside, especially in the rain, and was constantly running off to visit the neighbor's dog up the street.

When he was ready to go, his sister suggested that after lunch I maybe take him shopping, he likes to go shopping. I had no problem with that, Ocean State Job Lots was right around the corner from where we were going to lunch, we could putter around there for a while and give her a break.

As we're walking out the door, Seamus calls the dog over and picks it up. I suggested we leave Brute at home because he wouldn't like being shut in the car while we were in the restaurant. I was informed that Brute goes wherever Seamus goes, and does not get left in the car. Huh? We're going out to eat, you cannot bring a dog into a restaurant. Seamus countered that you could bring a seeing eye dog into a restaurant. But, I pointed out, that is different. His sister just shrugged it off and said that they tell everyone it's an
anti-seizure dog.

As Seamus was getting visibly
agitated by this, I agreed to keep the peace. But I warned him that if there was any trouble at the restaurant, the dog was going back to the car. Seamus, are you going to put a leash on the dog? Nope, don't need one. His sister handed me one, just in case.

He wrapped Brute in a sweatshirt to bring it into the restaurant. We got a booth way in the back, the place was packed. Seamus put the dog on the seat next to him, covered in the sweatshirt and admonished the dog to "lay still and be quiet, you little fucking bastard" while flicking the dog's skull so had I could hear the thump across the table. Now
I was getting agitated.

Brute keeps poking his head out from the under the sweatshirt, and keeps getting flicked on the head for his efforts, with Seamus leaning over and saying through clenched teeth, "knock if off you little motherfucker" and other sweet things along those lines. He kept saying to me over and over, "do you know what it's like going from perfection to this shit?"

After the food came and we were properly distracted, the dog makes a run for it. I was up and running after it before Seamus could even react. People were staring, but no one that worked there had seen anything. I hand the dog back to Seamus and suggest we put him in the car now. Seamus proceeds to ignore me in favor of flicking the dog at least 5 times while muttering angrily, and puts the dog back on the seat under the sweatshirt.

The dog waits about 5 minutes before he tries it again. I'm now trying to get around little old church ladies to get at the dog who ran under their legs. He almost made it to the kitchen when I caught up with him, and immediately proceeded outside and I put him in the car.

Seamus wasn't happy with this decision, but too fucking bad. On top of it, he was also being a royal prick. Gone was any hint of the wonderful sense of humor he had, and he was outright insulting more than once. After lunch was over, I couldn't believe it had only been an hour. I had promised his sister I would keep him out for a couple of hours, so off to Ocean State Job Lots we went.

They both behaved themselves there and the store didn't give us a hard time having Brute in the carriage. We came to the pet section where they had little doggie sweaters and jackets. Seamus got it in his head that he wanted the dog to have a raincoat because the dog wouldn't do his business outside in the rain. Of course, they didn't have any. I offered to take him to the pet store around the corner.

When we got to the pet store, Seamus opened his door and before he could grab the dog, it took off running, across the parking lot and down the sidewalk of a very busy four lane road. Seamus takes off running down the road and I hop back in the car and follow with my hazzards on, hoping the dog doesn't run out into the road. As luck would have it, about a 1/4 mile down, all traffic was stopped at a red light, and the dog unbelievably crossed all four lanes of traffic
in the crosswalk, and into a major shopping center.

The more we chased him, the more he ran. People were stopping, trying to help, it was a major traffic cluster fuck. Finally, a half hour after this started, all the way on the other side of the shopping plaza, some lady had a container of gold fish crackers for her kid that she shook to get Brute's attention and while he was eating them, she grabbed him. She looked at us to see who to give the dog to, and I said, "oh please, please give him to me."

When we got back to the car, I went to put Brute in the back seat, but Seamus wasn't having any of it and wanted the dog up front with him. While the dog was on the floor, Seamus started stomping his feet at the dog, muttering that he was going to break the dog's mother-fucking legs. I had finally had it and told him to STOP. That is ENOUGH. I put the dog back into the back-seat and we drove back to the pet supply store.

I am apparently nothing if not a glutton for self-punishment, but I didn't want his sister to have to deal with the rain coat issue if I could fix it before I dropped them off. It took less than about three minutes for us to get from the parking lot where my car was to the parking lot where the pet store was. When we pulled up in front of the pet store, Seamus casually said, "Wow, it feels like we were just here." I'm thinking, thank God, he still has a sense of humor, and I look over at him with a great big smile on my face, ready to believe this has been a bad dream of a day. He was being totally serious. I needed a minute to wrap my brain around that one.

I said, "Sweetie, do you really not remember what just happened?" He said, "No, should I be upset about something?" "No, absolutely not, there is no reason for you to be upset, about ANYTHING."

I made sure Seamus had Brute in his arms before we got out of the car this time. We went into the pet store, where they did not have any raincoats, or any doggie clothes of any kind. They tried to explain to Seamus that it was May, they do not sell dog clothes this time of year. Seamus very loudly tried to explain to them that it rains all year round, which I thought was a valid point. This went on for a little while before I was able to get him out of there.

On the way back to his sister's house, I told Seamus I would try to find a raincoat on eBay for Brute. The second we got back to his sister's house, he again didn't have the dog in his arms before he opened the door, and the dog went running up the street to visit its friend.

I went right into the house and gave his sister back the leash and gave her an update and was ready to be out of there. Seamus was so agitated by the dog that when he got back he couldn't say goodbye to me. I called a couple of days later to let him know that I had ordered a raincoat for Brute, but he said it had already been taken care of.

I may be a terrible person, but the truth is that I cannot even remotely deal with this. That was May and I haven't called him since. I know myself, I don't have the extra empathy capable of handling this on a regular basis. I don't even know how he is doing and feel so guilty about it that I am ashamed to call and find out.

What would you do?