Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bad Dog, Bad Fish, Bad Writing

What do all of these things have in common?  They usually stink.  The dog rolls in something long dead.  Fish is often sold several weeks after it was caught.  And writing?  Some of it, some of mine, just stinks because it's written carelessly, quickly and with no thought to the reader's ease.

The fix?  Wash the dog, trash the fish, and dish the words you mean to say and make it count for something.

What prompts this topic is the abundance of poor writing, language and spelling on that quintessential Blather of the Masses known as Facebook.  Many people simply believe a post like

"... . have a wonderul Easter adn remember, Jesus wouold've died if it had JUST been for you.  God is gud!...."

is "about the message not the messenger."  No, no, no, no and positvely NO!  This shitty writing says more about the messenger than their Curriculum Vitae.   If I write "God is gud," are you overwhelmed with the depth of my faith and loving demeanor?  I sure as hell hope not.  You should be appalled by my utter lack of initiative to give half a rat turd about my communication skills.

My first thought when I read a poorly composed post is that the messenger is a flippin' numptie and then my eyes roll so far up in my head that it hurts me.  My second thought is that he or she hasn't read a book since their last year of schooling.  Jumping to a recognized cognitive insufficiency like dyslexia doesn't even flicker over my dumb-shit-o-meter.  Rather, I conclude that this person doesn't care about what they say, who their audience might be or if their message even gets through.  They just want to blather about nothing and everything - - much like I do only with reasonable employment of decent grammar and spelling.

What does this say about me as a person?  Am I a bad person for "missing the message" and focusing a baneful eye on the shit-for-brains moron who believes every word out of their mouths is golden?  Perhaps.  More to the point, it says I know that words have power.

Words become images in our minds.  Language incites us to a myriad of emotions as we read, talk with someone, listen to our favorite music.  Care enough to let your words bear the weight of your meaning.

"Use what language you will, you can never say anything but what you are."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, August 13, 2012

To Dream Perchance to Pee...

Pee dreams.....everyone has them.  You're in the middle of a crowded party and suddenly there's a toilet and you need to pee.  So you do, in the middle of the party with chatty non-curious people on all sides and on a toilet that has "problems."  It's either full of something, missing its seat, or looks like a giant sauna box where your head sticks out and you converse with folks whilst doing Number One.

Sometimes in my search for relief in these dreams, all starts out perfectly well and sane.  I'm seated comfortably and then notice that the walls have turned to clear glass or there are people having a conference behind me at a large table that's only just appeared.  Or I'm sitting in my sauna box and three or four other people are sitting in their sauna boxes around me.  And the toilet paper is the size of a twin sheet and made of neoprene.

Why, I ask myself, don't I just awaken and go to my own little space to take care of business?  Well, where would be the fun in that?  Apparently the Minions of Morpheus would rather I start peeing in the dream, wake suddenly horrified in my bed and feel around for evidence of it being real.  I can hear them laughing in my head as the shreds of sleep waft away with me trundling down the hall to my little space.  After all, the Minions only get six to eight hours of sleepy-time gamboling a night and they must make the most of it.

The mind works in mysterious ways.  You can have a pee dream that takes you all the way to emptying your bladder into a toilet located in the middle of a busy intersection set atop a twenty foot pillar, but you can't get the swarthy prince or comely princess to get to third base in the sexy dreams.  Damn you, Minions!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

"Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep...

Or not.  Mostly I'm tossing, flailing and squirming; trying to get comfortable while my mind is very uncomfortable.  

It's been nearly two weeks since I was let go at my job in order that "I might find happiness" elsewhere.  The sense of betrayal continues to overwhelm me.  As the Sandman seeks to shut my little eyes and fill my dreams with visions of the sugarplum tree, the Death Squad at my former workplace, Bollocks & Psychos, Ltd., walks with cloppity shoes inside my head.

In hindsight, I realize all the signs were there:  once friendly and trusted co-workers avoiding me like the plague, Mr. Milquetoast (the only decent guy) giving me squinty side-long glances as he hurried past, none of the office sows piling into the doughnuts I'd brought in that morning, and the complete serene calm of Pisser, the office manager.  She was getting her way and life was good for her.

Yes, I'd been on the Death Squad of B&P, Ltd. myself in the year I'd been there.  I'm not proud to either admit it or know what I did to relatively innocent co-workers.  The typical day for the Soon-To-Be-Fucked-Up-The-Ass started out much like any other with all of the rest of us scathing bitches having full and complete knowledge of her fate.  Soft strains of the Jaws theme song would commence around 4:30 p.m. and we, the horrid and conniving puds, would wait in gleeful anticipation of the other cloppity shoe dropping on ol' STBFUTA.  Ha ha HAH!  

The saying "What goes around, comes around" has been permanently affixed on my psyche since I left that day.  I reaped what I'd sown.  If time could be turned backward, I would have refused to participate in the awfulness no matter what the personal cost to me.  

I knew my day of reckoning was inevitable.   You swim with sharks, eventually you will get eaten.  Nom nom nom...

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Please, Sir, I Want Some.... to continue telling me in certain and ambiguous ways that I am defective and unfit for normal work-a-day worlds - - each and every one of them.

It would appear that my marked inability to work in the "regular world" should have been sufficiently clear by, say, 1990.  Taking tongue-lashing after ass-kicking from humans and the Cosmic Frying Pan in the Sky, one would think I'd have "gotten it" by now.  Hmmm?  But, I go back repeatedly and beg for the whack on the head.  Much like Oliver Twist asking for another bowl of hideous slop, I knew the outcome of my continued returning to a regular workplace.  Ol' Ollie probably knew the slap to his head was but an arm's length away, but he had a hunger for more.

So am I stupid?  Not hardly.  Stubborn?  Well, yes but not always in a good way.  A do-gooder with a heart of gold who believes she can change not only the world but her Self each and every time she goes back to the hum-drumity of the work-a-day life?  Pffffftttt!....yes, that's what I think or always thought.  That the next place would be better, different, "the thing."  Only I was still the same person trying to fit into an environment I had no business entering, much like a sex addict in a convent.

I once had a boss tell me bluntly that no matter where I went, if I was planning on doing the same damn thing in another location, I would fail.  Each and every time.  I mistakenly thought he was just a self-righteous and brilliant S.O.B. who couldn't be bothered to go get his OWN SANDWICH from 100 feet across the parking lot.  But he was right and we both knew it.

My hunger will only be assuaged by taking a leap of faith that the writing life is mine.  This is a lonely, scary existence, knowing this.  God, the Universe, Mother Nature, the Cosmic Frying Pan in the Sky - - they all know how I feel.  And they laugh.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Here I Sit...Brokenhearted...

I'm not exactly brokenhearted.  Mostly just bewildered.  That's right, I am once again unemployed.  Was it my fault?  Well of course it was - - mine and several others.  I am happy to bear the blame, but not without first editorializing about the who, where, why and 'cest wut ler fuk.

So, first and foremost, I can be an insufferably arrogant bitch when I am forced into a position of subordination by a work-douchebag (i.e. someone with no credentialing in your occupation but operating under the belief that they are smarter than you).  My not-so-inner jackass screeches to halt, stamps its teeny hooves and glares in utter defiance from behind my lovely blue eyes.  I'm starting to think that people can actually see my not-so-inner jackass, whom I will now name Gokissmyassi.  (She's Native American like most primitive totems and beings-of-inner-power.)  Pride goeth before a fall, you say?  To each his own, but I'd rather fall and get up a million times than be walked across for fear of stepping outside my comfort zone.

So, in any event, I go on vacation the week of my birthday.  Yippity for me - - I'm 48 and unemployed!!!  Whilst on vacation, I am alerted to the fact my employer has posted an opening for MY JOB on a popular Maine job search engine.  Well, howdy doody, you spineless motherfuckers.  I go look and yes, yes it is my job.  And it reads in part:

"...We are looking for someone who can think outside the box for patient satisfaction.  Candidates must have a consistent work ethic and be drama free. ...We need someone who can multi-task with a smile.  Advancement opportunity and benefits."

Say, I would love this job!  No, wait - - it is my job but they've described it in Utopian (i.e. horseshit) terms and it now appears there is "advancement opportunity".   I might note here that two of the senior employees have been salary-ceilinged since shortly after the turn of the century.  Apparently "advancement opportunity" means "if you don't like it, you may opportune yourself to advance to the exit."

Let's address this line for line shall we?  "Thinking outside the box" is what got me fired.  I thought for myself and each time got a milque-toast tongue lashing from our manager, whom I will call Pisser.  "You should have asked before you..." was her pat response to me when I took initiative.  My co-hort in the lab was back-handedly volleyed "it's a problem when a pony thinks they're a horse"-type response to his taking initiative to solve a client's issue.  Does it sound like "thinking outside the box" is healthy for an employee in this establishment?  Mmmm, no.

The new lamb for slaughter must also "have a consistent work ethic and be drama free."  Perhaps this flies in the face of our own office manager quitting her previous job willy-nilly because she "got mad?"  And as for "drama free," let me just say that my office was Bitchfest Central.  Pisser, herself, would come in to bitch unceasingly about a certain hiring partner whose pantyliner was perpetually stuck to her pubic hair.  The other lead bitcher/drama mama, whom I will call Wilhelmena, also spent considerable oxygen to gasbag about the awfulness of her job, her husband, her mother, and said panty-liner-constricted boss.

Let's not forget that they also require "someone who can multi-task with a smile."   Does this make anyone else feel unprotected or harangued around their nether regions?  Such a pat line, designed to intimate that the previous employee went around growling and scowling the whole time.  I've always said the employee who gets ousted is the Villain Extraordinaire until the next employee gets ousted.  I wear the badge proudly.

My recent "praying" for a fortuitous whack on the head from the Cosmic Frypan in the Sky to guide me to my next great thing has come to being.  CLONG!  Now being forced back to the keyboard, to my writing, to a path of intense fright and second-guessing my alleged talents, I still feel happier than I've felt in the past year.  What will come of it?  It may be like the famous quote by Samuel Johnson:

"When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully."

I have felt the ground slip away beneath me.  The death of illusion is complete.  Now I hope to fly.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I Am Not My Brothers' Or My Sisters' Keeper

...and I'm sure as hell not responsible for their whiney-assed kids' problems, right?  Right!?  Okey dokey, here's my take on it.

"Mutual Reciprocity" breaks down as "You scratch my back and I'll scratch your's."  More finitely, it is the give and take in any relationship that make bonds that don't break easily, or conveniently, when the going gets tough.

The mutual reciprocity I want to address here is in my own very large family.  I've been kicking this around in my head forever, but some recent spewing of drunken rhetoric by the youngest family dipso set me off afresh. 

For background, I am the youngest of nine children.  My now antique mother was quite scandalously married twice, having two children by a rather abusive, alcoholic and ignorant man, divorcing him - also very scandalously - and then marrying my father and proceeding to have {GULP!} seven more children.  

My two oldest half-sibs could have been my parents at more than twenty years older than me at my birth.  We basically grew up with my half-sister's kids and I am auntie to several nephews and nieces who are older than I am.

My oldest natural brother was 18 when I was born.  He was married and had twin girls of his own when I was not quite five and they came back to Maine to live with us for awhile.  He and his wife shortly thereafter had a little boy and divorced, and we all lost track of one another. 

Now that we're all adults and life has taken its toll on us, the blame has started.  It actually started a long time ago, but only recently has it come to a boiling pointing of fingers and gestures, accusations hurled and ultimatums laid down.  

Here's the gist, at least as I see it.  These few nieces and nephews expect me and my siblings to "do something for them."  We are expected to somehow make up for the losses they suffered as children for all the divorces, their parents' substance abuses and various sufferings.  As siblings to their parents - even though we were children and are virtually the same age as these now whining adults looking for "justice" - we are being looked at as the "Ones to Blame for Everything That Life Did Not Give Them."

My cool brother said to me that one of the nieces angrily said to him, "What did you ever do for me?!"  He remarked laughingly to me that he didn't know he had any sort of obligations and golly gosh, what had she ever done for him?

Well, no shit, and that's my point.  I cannot comprehend what it is we, as their parents' sibs were expected "to do" for them?  Does that strike anyone as stupid?  And does this give them the freedom to feel slighted all these years and blame their aunts and uncles for their crappy childhoods?  Don't get me wrong - they blame everyone on earth, but we're closer and can be actually scorned in public.  It's harder to make everyone on earth feel badly because those people truly don't give a shit about these whiney little pukes who stopped their emotional growth at age "whatever."

And here's some more truth:  I grew up in a house of nine people, ten when my oldest half-sister was home when I was just a baby.  We had one bathroom.  My father worked his ass off and Mom kept things running at home.  To say that we were poor doesn't even say enough.  Mom suffered from severe depression and when my two older sisters graduated high school and left to make their own lives, I was nine years old and thus began the darkest days of my young life.

There is a huge misconception amongst the older nieces and nephews that our lives were a bed of roses.  This is a dream, a lie, a construct they made up to get them through their darkest days.  Sorry to burst your bubble, kids. We had it as hard as you did, just in a different way.

I will always love these "kids" because they are my brothers' and sisters' children, just like they will always love their brothers' and sisters' children.  But I owe them nothing else.  I cannot make up for what their parents did or didn't do.  I can't bring back their childhoods or make them feel whole where life tore them apart. It's not my job; it's theirs.

Now, if I could only make my self believe my sober rhetoric and stop feeling guilty that my love for them clearly isn't enough to make them whole.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Revival of: When You've Got Nowhere to Turn, Turn On The Mask

When You've Got Nowhere To Turn, Turn On The Mask, originally published 12/1/2009

Now I'm profaning Truman Capote's diabolical quote, "When you've got nowhere to turn, turn on the gas."  I prefer my more passive(-aggressive) adaptation.  It's less immutable, but no less fatal to the Self.

I have a hard time with masks, meaning they won't stay on my face for more than the blink it takes me to have a contrary thought.  I once worked for an attorney we'll call "Sir Knowsalot."  He sought to help me by instructing me that I was "so smart I should be better at playing dumb."  [Insert gigantic pause here.]  Hmmmm.  Yeah.  'Not sure if his eyebrows have grown back yet for the scathing look he was given for that remark.

He felt he was right to instruct me thusly.  After all, his mask was hereditary, like the buckteeth or insanity often seen bestowed upon the privileged, or on royalty in particular.  I guess by then, age 25 or so, I should have learned to never leave the house without a mask or the majority opinion well in mind, thus securing my place amongst the obscure.  But something kicked within me, and it wasn't Sir Knowsalot's love child.  It was rage at being told to play dead.  It was my not-so-inner jackass that braced its feet and brayed "Kiss my hairy cruppers!!"

Twenty years later, I say aloud I don't wish to be obscure.  The obscure turned on Capote's gas years ago, failed to light it and don't yet realize they're dead from the neck up.  F--k obscurity and f--k the attorney who told me to play dumb.

Friday, February 4, 2011

I'm Blaming Julia Childs...

Today I bought, rather, my beloved bought an 18" strand of lovely rosy cultured pearls for me for Valentine's Day.  Only he doesn't know it yet.  He'll notice them eventually, at some point before Valentine's Day and I'll tell him that's what he got me and gosh, aren't they beautiful, and doesn't he have fabulous taste, and aren't they just what I wanted?  He's so smart.  I love him for letting me do this thing over and over again.

But, so it IS Julia Child's fault, all of this.  The pearls, I mean.  Yup.  I just yesterday watched "Julie & Julia" and there she was with her pearls, and then Julie Powell had to get pearls. Well, then I had to get pearls.  It's all very logical.

I love the way they grace my collar bone, skimming my neck line, and make me fall in love with my truest Self again after such a long absence of hardly recognizing I even exist.  I realize, once again, that I'm no grunge babe, no hippie maven, and goth ain't never been my thang.  I've always been the kind of girl - - who'm I kidding, I'm nearly 47 - - I'm a string-of-pearls-kind-of-woman.

Any one of you who really know me would agree.  Of course, I swear like a pirate, I work at a dirty job as a landscaper, and I can throw back booze with the best of the louts.  But at my core, at the end of the day, no one considers me one of the guys or even one of the "gals" probably.  Sadly.

I not long ago related a story to an old, dear friend of mine where I'd sworn viciously in front of my new co-workers and how they'd been so shocked and how my boss had laughed so hard, seemingly in shock, tickled to death that I'd said something so vulgar.  My friend replied, "Well, Toni, it was like the princess swore."  I felt frankly stunned when he said that.

I chalk this "princess" estimation up to not having enough intuition or his bullshit-o-meter being on the fritz.  It makes me think of a story I heard a while ago about Mary Travers of Peter, Paul & Mary.  Peter spoke in an interview about her, saying how a review spoke of her cat-like movements on stage while she performed and that she had read that and laughed out loud about it.  He went on to explain how nervous she was on stage, giving her these twitchy habits and making her move jerkily when she sang that others misread as "cat-like."  She was glad, however, that the reviewer found her cat-like movements appealing, even sexy, but it was utterly by mistake that they occurred at all.  It gave her credibility where she felt vulnerability.

My "princess" personna?  It, too, is false, but I daresay it has afforded me more protection and credibility than I could adequately measure over these many years.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Serendipity + Synchronicity + Supercalifragalisticexpialidociousality

Serendipity + Synchronicity + Supercalifragalisticexpialidociousality...  Put them together and what have you got?
"It would happen that I've quite fortunately discovered I'm not only vastly brilliant, but I'm hiding behind my delicate beauty to allow you to feel like less of an ignoramus in my presence."
Isn't that delightful?

I love language, its nuances, difficulties and stickiness.  Much to my beloved's chagrin, I adore finding and pointing out typos and poor language uses in signs and printed media, on television in the weather reports and such.  And, it's not because I'm a pain-in-the-ass-know-it-all, though some would choose to differ.  I find it comforting that I'm not the only person with her hands on the wrongs keys for a solid five minutes of typing without looking up from the text [insert woman screaming obscenities at the top of her lungs] or dangling this or that grammatical element by its dipthong.

So I'll just admit it:  I read the dictionary and encyclopedias when the moods strikes.  I am, in fact,one of "those" people.  I'll go to look up one thing and end up reading through all of the E's or whatever.  It's sad, I know.

Our Mom's most famous saying, after "Go out and play before I kill you all," was "Look it up."  She just simply didn't have the time to help each and every one of her seven children with every definition and explanation and still get dinner on the table.  As annoying as this was for us at the time, this latter directive came to be an invaluable tool in molding my personality to be an utterly independent researcher. As for the former directive?  Let's just say I still know when to make a graceful exit.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

...and All that Prophetic Jazz

This was my astrological horoscope for yesterday, June 18, 2010:

CANCER (June 21-July 22): You need to make some serious changes to satisfy both personal and professional associations. Reconstruct the way things have been in the past and you will realize what needs to be done to make the future better.
Now, I used to be the kind of person who read my horoscope religiously [smirk] every single day, sometimes twice a day from different sources just to make sure I was on track. As time went by, I sifted through all the chaff to find the truth and philosophy I liked and could relate to. I finally settled down to make my peace with the Universe and practice My Thing. It's surely not Your Thing, but that's okay - - at least with me.

This horoscope, however, was after-the-fact-prophetic. Earlier that morning I discovered my intuition was correct, dead-on in fact, that I was not going to get the job with my dearest friend, Toughy the attorney. The silence had been deafening from his end and I knew in my depths that the coup was complete, that decisions had been made behind his back and he would be the last to know.

What I cannot change about the past is my past. I cannot change the depression I suffered after my car accident; it wasn't my fault and it simply happened. But my medical history was an open book to the powers that be and I was determined to be unfit for duty for my dearest friend, to return to my former career in that firm, and set him right in his direst time of need. Some, like the Maine Labor Board, might consider that Harrisment of a sort, and in case you didn't know, it's highly illegal to ask a new hire to reveal any medical information about themselves.

However, if an entire medical history from a car accident case is:
  • already there for the picking and choosing of facts;
  • for the sole purpose of eliminating a candidate for employment because she's gone batshit; and
  • if said perusement can be denied by all culpable parties - -
  • well, you get the picture.

    [This is strictly my hyperbole, for the record, you cowards...just try me.]
I had gotten the news that I was never in the running for consideration on the drive to my mother's house to pick her up for her hearing aid appointment, and before I read the horoscope in the local newspaper. I was pretty teary-eyed about the whole thing but swallowed it whole in order to present a smiling face to my mother.

And, so here I am looking sort of dumbfounded at this finger-wagging horoscope in the hearing aid guy's office, waiting for my mom to get her adjustment. I'm trying to bend my already addled mind around this two sentence blurb. Should I not have even tried to recreate the past by going back to an old career? I'd had serious reservations about returning to law all along; I was only considering it for Toughy's sake. I was a jackass specialist as well as legal assistant and paralegal. Until Toughy came along, that's who I was hired to tend. And, working for lawyers is an art. You know the art that looks like the splatter a hefty Hereford could create after a large meal of corn and oats? That kind of art.

Today, I'm stuck in neutral; moving neither forward nor backward. Toughy and I are likely in the same mode. The Universe is forcing his hand to decide and make "some serious change" and "reconstruct" just like me.

I think I'll go for a long walk and try to find grace in all this confusion.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Baring the Blackened Sole

These blackened soles of mine have traversed many the highway and bi-way, rumbling past hitching seraphims with trembling thumbs only half-heartedly exposed beneath their cloaks. I've tread there and beyond, baby, and only sometimes and rarely am I reminded of my somewhat naive and vaguely sordid youth and past when I get a faceful of someone else's.

See, I believe the focus should be not so much the dirt we "get on our hands" as the history, mystery, and experience we receive as a gift from daring to go where "angels fear to tread." It is the only place we get perspective on other people's lives. Sometimes, we get a glimmer of truth about ourselves but usually not until much later.

All that I am began in 1964 and ended here today, so far. All the good, the bad and the really unsavory stuff I've done, I believe I've both benefited from and paid dearly for along the way. When I finally met my truest love, my loving husband, I felt that I had "evened the score" on my Karmic dance card. I'd hurt and been hurt and finally I was back at zero and had a clean slate to work from. I could feel the Cosmic Cast Iron Frying Pan in the Sky hovering above me, waiting to swat the back of my head if I screwed up this time but I was now older and wiser. I knew I had gotten to a place in my life where my future could be grand.

All the suffering, inflicted by others and purely self-inflicted had been working toward this moment in time. It had prepared me for the love of my life; this thing I'd been dodging and unprepared for was finally mine to have. I deserved it. And, here I am many years later, content with my truest love, my husband, my life settled down and peaceful.

In order to be completely honest, completely human and "there" for my Self and my dearest friends, it is imperative that I never again forget my blackened soles and the dangerous paths I tread with my quivering angel hovering a step behind and whispering "Don't!"

Thursday, June 10, 2010

You Gotta Know When to Hold 'Em, Know When to Fold 'Em...

How does one approach the job market nowadays? Can there be any room whatsoever for bargaining, negotiation, or "feeling one's oats," as it were?

The reason I ask this very broad question is I'm really struggling with specific facts about my Self, which make me feel proud and a little self-righteous, if you want the whole truth:

I'm nearly 46 and I have an excellent resume that clearly stands out in a crowd. I am well-spoken, mature (when the mood strikes), and make an excellent first impression. I am well organized, can work for any jackass on the market with ease and professionalism, and can learn any job quickly and easily. These are FACTS about me.

Okay, facts aside and despite all of these glorious things: I have been unable to find a job after applying for between 45 and 50 jobs since I quit my job in September 2009. I have applied for jobs ranging from "Unemployment Specialist Hearings Officer" (hey, they sent the referral TO ME) to cleaning lady at the hospital (now you know what that would entail, right?).

I cite my age above because I feel I'm beyond certain types of jobs like working at McDonalds in a paper hat or hustling plates at the local diner in orthopedic shoes and a threadworn blue and white poplin waitress get-up. I would rather clean up hospital ickies than do either of those jobs.

Hundreds, no thousands of college grads are pounding the pavements for real and in the computer ethers, debt-laden and possessing papers that should be getting them through doors that are shut fast against them. Those people with jobs aren't budging and the companies who are downsizing are not rehiring. They are simply making do with less workforce.

And, here I am thinking I should be able to negotiate because I'm valuable. WOW.

Even as I write this and see how crazy it all looks and sounds as I read aloud, I'm still convinced I should be able to negotiate something better for my Self - because I'm valuable and I know it. Pride goeth before the fall, eh? Well, shit even after I fall down I'll still be rolling around screaming, "...but I'm valuable!!"

Thursday, June 3, 2010

You Can't Cry Foul If You Aren't Playing The Game...

Of late I find my Self reminiscing back in time when I was about eleven. This was when I realized my parents were no longer sleeping together in the Biblical sense. Mom had "cut Dad off," as it were for reasons that still mystify me some thirty-five years later. I know this because it was pretty obvious that they'd drifted apart, plus Mom told me, quite confidentially in that icky mother-daughter way that results from mommies losing their grip on who they are and what role they actually perform in their children's lives. She pole-vaulted the line from Mother to unwelcome and untrustworthy confidante in one fell swoop. At age eleven, I became the adult in our relationship. My mother could no longer be trusted to act as an adult, take care of me properly, or be confided in.

Many years later when Dad finally sought out the affections of another woman, Mom flipped out. She was incensed that he could "cheat on her like that." I was older then with a sensibility that sympathized with Dad's loneliness and anger at Mom. "Cheat on you like what" I asked her? My very handsome father who had seven children with my mother wanted to be with a woman who found him attractive and wanted to have sex with him. It was just that simple. After A DECADE of denial, hostility, criticism, and inattention Dad finally decided to go find a woman who actually wanted to talk to him, to find him irrepressibly funny, and to walk down the street with him at dusk in complete silence listening to the peepers and watching the dancing fireflies. And to have sex - lots and lots of life- and soul-affirming sex. My darling husband says that "even a hundred year old man wants to have sex." I'm sure he's correct.

Mom screamed that I didn't understand and she was one hundred percent correct. I obviously wasn't an insane sociopath like she was. To this day, I will never understand how Mom or any other person can treat their spouse like a cuckhold for years, sometimes decades, and then be surprised and angry when their husband or wife finally breaks down and finds someone else to love them - mind, body and soul.

Mom called all the shots in the marriage. It was her way or no way. Black or white were your two choices. She even had the nerve to try to bring all of us kids over to her side of the issue, succeeding only with one kid in making Dad the bad guy. Most of us recognized that although Dad wasn't perfect, we knew what Mom had done was just wrong in a marriage, or on a basic human level. Mom would threaten Dad in subtle and not-so-subtle ways that his fighting her or his telling us the truth would result in a loss of his children.

How do I reconcile this now that I'm much older, married, and looking at life with experienced eyes? I see it the same exact way I did when I was a kid. Mom was wrong and there was no fixing that. Dad wasn't "right," but he ended up giving up an important part of his real life for his kids out of fear he would lose us. Mom had no right to cry foul for Dad's infidelity. She treated him with incredible hostility with zero explanation.

I recently forgot about this life experience I've just chronicled when I was dealing with a very dearest friend's life event. I was called upon to use my intellect, powers of reasoning and love for him. Instead of doing these very things, I reacted to the hysterical rantings of a sociopathic woman. See, I didn't know any of her backstory, like I knew my mother's or I would have...waited. I let my friend down in a big way by not trusting that that he was fulfilling that very important part of his life that had been denied him for a decade.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I Dreamed Last Night I Was On A Boat To Heaven....

...and by some light I had brought my flask along. And, there I stood nicely passin' out the whiskey, but the passengers they knew right from wrooooonnggg!!! And....the....people all said sit down, sit down, you're rockin' the boat!!!"

This is an excerpt from a song in "Guys and Dolls." We performed this show at my high school "back in the day," which would be some ten thousand plus days ago in actuality. I guess I've always been a "boat rocker." It's my nature. I'm a rule breaker, but you'd never know it by looking at me. I look quite docile. Ha, Hah! Fooled you didn't I?

What I'm facing and concerned with right now is going back to work - - in law. This surprises me and frightens me at the same time. While a decade ago a new legal secretarial/paralegal position wouldn't have given me two seconds thought or grimace, now I'm feeling sincere trepidation.

Why? Because I am a "boat rocker," and a dyed-in-the-wool rule breaker. I act and then ask for permission later. That's who I am; it's how I am. My motto is "It's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission." I swear to God that this is my credo and I am known for it, and oh so much more.

Who thought all those burned bridges would catch up with me one day? Hmmm? I sure didn't.

My land is bare of chattering folk, the clouds are low along the ridges and sweet's the air with curly smoke from all my burning bridges." Dorothy Parker

Ol' Dot sure knew, didn't she? What advice would she give me today, with all my trepidation? She'd tell me to f--k off and get the hell away from her until I grew a pair, in all likelihood. Ah, the days before Prozac...poor Dorothy.

But, the question is, do I really care how I'm "known?" No, I really don't. [Insert self-satisfied smirk] As I told my pal, Toughy today, I'm still quite pretty with a disarming smile, quick wit and possessing a nice rack. I can get away with almost anything with men. With women, I'm the kid sister, funny, kind and sincere. I'm a sister and a woman. If I'm playing anyone, it's the men, just like all women - we get what we want but we all stick together in the end. Sorry guys, someone had to tell you what you already knew.

Will I be okay? You bet I will. Dressed to the nines, ready in every respect, wanting this for my Self and for Toughy who needs me like the Sun. Wish me luck.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Language, people!!!

My husband asked me what the southern guy said on the commercial for "Swamp Loggers" last night. I replied that he said "Mnnggrrhhhh flagarutty naglard, bida glangyrupy yup dare streem." Or at least that's what I heard. He said, yeah that's what he heard too. We still have no idea what that really means and that's okay; it's not radio and we'll get to see what they're talking about. Several fellas on this show are always subtitled because there's no way in hell you're going to figure out what they're saying. 'Could have something to do with the five disparately-spaced teeth and the wad of chew floating around...'just sayin'.

Now I fully realize that "the South" is a different country with a different language, much like the Midcoast is also a different country requiring an occasional interpretor or twelve. Our lovely Southern-belle neighbor, Solana often turns to me for a translation or two from my beloved hubby.

While watching "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" the other night, both Hub and I distinctly heard the detective say to the perp, "Hey Sputum Booger Head!!!" Now, that's not really what he said of course but it snapped us to attention. We looked at each other quickly in disbelief and then roared with laughter once we realized we'd both heard the same thing. The detective actually said "Hey, put 'em behind your head." I actually think he did say "sputum booger head" and they just left it in to see if anyone would notice. Seriously.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The B.I.T.C.H. (Beautiful Intelligent Talented Charismatic Humorist) is Back...

...from St. John, Newfoundland. And, can I just say right now, I LOVED this trip except for the dry-drunkard, know-it-all, Little-Man-Syndromer that we were semi-forced to drive to the Manchester Airport with and then subsequently fly with to and from St. John, Newfoundland. Let's call him...well, "Dog Shit on My Heel" is just too long - appropriate, yes, but too long. Geez, this is a tough one! How about "Scrappy?" A little guy, always looking for a fight, yet small enough to kick like a football.

Okay, my idiot tolerance is very low and that is not my fault. It is genetic. I come from a long line of Scottish-Russians with giant bony heads, tippy-in Eskimo tailbones (it's true - call my chiropractor), and an extremely low tolerance for stupidity or light-weight drinkers who can't put down a fifth of Scotch or Vodka without puking or passing out - - or worse - - sharing.

So here's Scrappy, about my height, all of 5'3", weighing a buck twenty soaking wet, with "dirty fighter" written all over him. He's totally going to go for your eyes and your nuts, and not necessarily in that order. So, Scrappy starts out in the car ride to Manchester by asking me - NO BY TELLING ME that I voted for Obama. Well, you pesky little dick head, you. This "man" is a business associate of my hub's, and not one he particularly likes and I know this. However, I can hear my lovely and demure mother's voice in the back of my head telling me to be polite or she'll knock my block off. So I'm polite against all odds and desires. I respond through smiley gritted teeth with a constrained-yet-politely-sarcastic response, and he changes topics all on his own to the fishing industry and starts ranting and raving. I glance over at my utterly tolerant husband and I see his eyes are rolling around in his head, so I'm satisfied that I'm not alone in my misery. I am silently wishing, however, that my car didn't have one of those new "Get the f--k out of the trunk free" glow-in-the-dark safety pull tab devices.

Blah, blah, blah, we finally get to Newfoundland after fog and delays. Scrappy and my sweet hubby get off to their fishing workshop just fine and I stagger jet-lagged and sleep deprived off to bed. Shit-heel keeps on doing his dry-drunk routine, telling me I smile too much and querying "just why I am so happy?" Well, just keep talking jackass and you'll f--k that all to hell eventually.

On Day Four, he finally pushes it to the edge of beyond. At breakfast he says, and I quote, "I know too much." [Insert meaningful and knowing tilt of the head and jutted chin....] Oh, spare me and just jump, you asshole. He's not jumping; he's sitting at our breakfast table in the Marriott dining room. He begins ranting for fifteen minutes ending by saying rather loudly "You should be involved in this too, Joni!! You can't hide your head in the sand, you know!," See, I've been just eating my breakfast during this tirade, basically ignoring him, and that's gotten Scrappy's diaper all wet, poopy-filled or up his crack. What I'm getting at is he's been made to feel like no one's listening BECAUSE NO ONE IS LISTENING. Now, at this point I quietly get up from the table - - seriously, I just say nothing and get up - - and go into the little computer area where I send off a missile of an e-mail to Abella spewing expletives left and right with a speed and pressure that would turn carbon into diamonds in a nanosecond. Upon finally returning to the table, hubby and I are exchanging looks that any carbon-based life-form would recognize as meaningful, but Scrap-meister actually has the cahones to say "I think I made Joni mad" and "I think your wife is angry at me." He says both of these things at least twice each. Can you even f--king believe that? Well, it's true. At this point, my hubby suggests that we both return to the room before he leaves for his fishing workshops that day.

Okay, I'm not made of stone. We return to the room and my resolve crumbles. I begin crying and now hubby is FINALLY showing some anger at this jerk. I've been trying so hard not to be rude to this guy for my husband's sake, and just for general mature polite behaviour's sake. All of this appears to escape Scrappy's notice or concern. To call him a Neanderthal would be an insult to evolution. This guy was "shit on a rock and hatched by the sun," as my sweet and demure mother would say.

Luckily for me, St. Johns, Newfoundland is a treasure of a town, and they have magnificent hiking trails just blocks from the hotel. At all costs, I must clear my psyche of anything and everything having to do with this morning's unpleasantness, so I started off for the Sentinal Hill hike. Not for the faint of heart, scared of heights, weak of knees, or badly out of shape, this hike is all business.

The first sight I encounter is Cape Spear, the northern-most point in North America. By way of background, this is the very first day of four that the sun has even shone, and it is forecast to be short-lived. This hiking trail is alive with people of all ages and all abilities. The wind blows mightily across these barren rocks and the beautiful pewter and feather-white sea. I have to fight to keep my footing just to take a picture or two once atop Sentinal Hill, which I find kind of funny but have no one to share my silliness with. Bracing my feet as far apart as they'll go without committing an act of treason to my hamstrings, I take glorious pictures of the ocean, skyline and carefully restored architecture. The buffeting wind is enough to, as my witty and articulate Dad would say, "Blow a sick whore off a piss pot." Ah, such a poet! How I miss you, you funny, quirky man.

The remainder of the trip was uneventful as Scrappy had been neutered, of sorts, coming to some realization all by his little teeny tiny self that he'd overstepped the bounds of normal and polite human interaction. Or possibly he'd spoken to his wife on the phone, relaying the situation to her, and she'd told him what a f--king dolt he was. Hard tellin'.

We plan to return to Newfoundland next summer when we can really spend some time vacationing, hiking and mellowing out with the warm, welcoming people. And, next time we'll make a point to get "screeched in" and become honorary Newfoundlanders by kissing the cod, downing the Screech, and reciting the requisite phrase: "Long may your big jib draw the ol' cocky, mate!"

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Hardest Thing, Revisited

In all honesty, having a husband like mine who has been silently supportive of whatever it is I wish to do has been my silent undoing. This is the hardest thing about quitting a job, finding a writing life and following it.

His loving support has allowed me to wallow, fritter, dither, dally and every other word that literally means "f--k around" while he works diligently to make our lives happen.

Never before in my relatively short lifetime have I been afforded the luxury of being able to not work for a living, make a paycheck, bring home the bacon. Only now, my greatest fear has been realized in that ennui has set in and I'm playing Farmville and Fish World on Facebook more than I'm writing or being creative in my own thoughts. I've turned into the worst case scenario that I can even imagine, and I'm actually encouraging others to follow suit! Cest wut ler fuk do I think I'm doing with my life? Raising imaginary pixel sheep and grapes?

In my own defense, life has not been generous in that we've lost my husband's aunt and one of my sisters within days of one another, along with his mother being in and out of the hospital. These distractions have been a mighty influence on my ability to function creatively and my "little plantation" has given me many hours of simple and mindless enjoyment when I couldn't stand to speak or think in ways that were appropriate or without a measure of grief that others just don't want to see or be around. Pixel cows and chickens are happily fed by weeping women.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Hardest Thing

The hardest thing? As Stephen King and other well-worn writers would say, "a supportive family." Very bad. A very, very bad thing. They "love" you whether you pass or fail, so THEY say. I think that might be some kind of softsoap or "horseshit," as Tom Hanks likes to say.

I've been away from my writing FAR too long, my snarkiness too long; my bitterness and sarcasm, along with my soulful crooney doopy-doodling. Too bad, once again. People love the gamut of writing; I love to write what I love to read. And so I do what I love.

Take for instance today. I bought a car. This car salesman Jonathan Hindend (or Jack Ass for short) apparently thought I would appreciate his being rude to the On-Star man in the Philippines because I told him he was bullshitting me when he told me some BULLSHIT. I did not. I apologized to this man named Dan in the Philippines once Jack Ass was out of the car and gone for good. Dan from On-Star said it was no big deal. I assured him it was to me and apologized from the bottom of my heart. We continued installing and talking about the benefits of my On-Star and ended amicably. I'm sure he felt better for the interaction. I know I did. The last thing I want is some guy making minimum wage in the Philippines feeling bad about some car salesman being a twinkie to him for no good reason.

Okay, I'm way off track. The hardest thing to getting back to work is a supportive network of family or friends that says "it's okay" when no one will hire me. Me? My resume kick's ass, perhaps a little too much in this economy and in this "neck o' the woods." 'Story of my life.

I've come to the conclusion that I'm no longer going to be "sorry" [imply whiney sarcastic tone] that my resume looks better than most. I'm no longer going to be sorry that my interviewing skills make the average person twitchy and I end up asking most of the questions after the first two awkward minutes. And, I'm going to wear my very nice Bulova pearl-faced and diamond watch next time. I want a job and I'm going to stop apologizing for being who I am. Maybe that will actually work?

That being said...

I'm heavily considering a return to law. Yes, I've said it. Now it just has to happen.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Joy of Joblessness

I'm finding there are certain joys to being aimless, feckless, and jobless. I have time to take our grandsons, Taylor and Adam, and their first cousin, Jacob, during school vacation. Taylor is ten, Jacob is nine, and Adam has just turned seven.

The other grandmother, "Nanny" a/k/a Marie and I took the kids on an extended "field trip day" yesterday that began with bowling. We talked smack to the kids all the way there, saying that two old women were going to "kick their tiny hineys all the way up between their shoulder blades." It was hysterical listening to the retorts from the back seat. We told the boys that when they lost, and they would, we'd buy them nice frilly pink and yellow Easter dresses at Wal-Mart to go to lunch in as a penalty for being LOSERS!!! This got them going big time and they shouted back they'd rather go naked, they were going to win because we were girls and they were men, etc. and giggling up a storm.

We stopped at Dunkin Donuts on the way there because Marie and I needed coffee to brace ourselves up with. Has anyone else ever seen a boy child with a head no larger than, say, an oversized cantaloupe shove more than half of a Boston creme doughnut into their mouth? And still be able to chew? Well, I It was something like watching a boa constrictor eat a baby gazelle in one gulp. Little kids are so weird.

So we start bowling - - the big balls. Adam, the littlest one, picks out a 12 pounder because he likes the color. The guy running the front desk very kindly and surreptitiously places a 7 pounder onto the ball return with a wink at me. Adam quickly discovered he liked this ball a whole lot more than the other one due in great part to the fact he can actually carry and throw it. I don't believe Adam weighs much more than 60 pounds soaking wet. The kids are having a pretty good time. Jacob is the best bowler with his long arms and legs. He's also much more deliberate and patient. Marie and I are jumping around and whooping it up at every little victory. We're embarrassing the kids as much as possible until they beg for the quarters we brought for them so they could play the arcade games and get as far away from us as possible.

After bowling, and kicking some tiny hineys - hey it was three against two - we had lunch and then off to check out a buffalo farm out in West Bath that I'd passed going to my tax guy on Monday. That was an event for sure. The boys were all bravado and talking about manure and how gross the buffalo were, hooting and clanging around on the fence at them. That is, until the leader of the pack whom I'll call "Gargantua" showed up from down pasture. This fella weighed in at a ton plus manure weight on his fur. He started snorting loudly and eyeballing us, sidling around, wanting to know why we were looking at his harem. The kids were standing right up against the fence when this began and asked, all happy like, if the buffalo was farting. I said no, that he was snorting at them. Then to their great delight, he started licking his tongue up into his nose and that started off a whole volley of disgusting little boy comments.

Suddenly Gargantua snorted really loudly and charged about five feet toward the fence. I have never in my life seen three little boys move so fast. I turned to look and Taylor was all the way up next to the road, Adam had dashed behind Marie, and Jacob was nearly back to the car some 25 yards away. Long legs win out every time. That ended our buffalo viewing for the day. On the way back to the car, we did pat some nice beef creatures and have running commentary from Taylor on manure. It's amazing the fresh perspective children can give something as simple as cow poop.

On the ride back, "someone," it might have been me, started trouble by winding a big squishy green ball into the back seat at three little heads. Hey, they taunted me by saying I wouldn't do it. Poor Jacob, was right in the middle and got most of action square in the forehead. We had to stop once the ball got lodged onto the back deck of the car out of reach. You never heard so much delighted giggling and shouting, but the car stayed completely under control, all you concerned parents. I can throw a ball and drive, just don't ask me to change a CD and drive. And, they started it.....

It was such a great day. A reminder of what it's like to be a kid and just laugh and have fun, act silly and smile until your face hurts. Or bowl until you can't lift your arm over head the next day. What I'm happiest about was the kids asking their father if they could come back again the next day even before they'd left yesterday afternoon.

I think this is the greatest job I've ever had.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Haiku! Gesundheit.

Once again my hearing is not up to par. While driving back from Brunswick the other day, I thought my beloved husband said:

"That c--ksucker must have some kind of death wish."
I abruptly turned in the drivers seat and said "What the hell did you just say! Who has a death wish?" I'm thinking someone's flipped us off or whatever. He said, "Toni, I said, that hawk sitting up there must see a fish." I busted my chitterlings, people, and was unable to tell him for a few minutes what I was laughing about. He hates this with a passion and gets very grumpy. He says I'll laugh at anything, which may or may not be true, but this was funny with a capital FUH.

And, so anyhow, not only is my hearing shot, but I cannot remember what the hell I'm doing from one minute to the next. I put some garlic bread in the oven at 400 degrees. Remember this temperature as it is vital to the story, okay? My darling is late getting home from shrimp dragging; it's after 7 p.m. so I'm a little frazzled. He comes in and I dish up a very nice dinner, we dine, wash the dishes and chat awhile before trundling off to bed. The whole while I can smell something burning like toast, and I realize I haven't turned off the oven. Simple enough.

I awaken the next morning at 4 a.m. with a start, realizing that I never took the garlic bread out of the oven for dinner the night before. I leap from bed - why I don't know - and dash into the kitchen. What I find are two extremely large croutons at this point, drier than a old maid's...tears.

The next night, I left the lovely and highly coveted bread stuffing from the lovely roast chicken in the microwave overnight and had to toss that out the next day around 2 p.m. when I finally discovered it. That was a bummer. My bread stuffing is phenomenal. I nearly cried.

Menopause brain? Ennui? I think I'm off in my own little world much of the time, staring and absorbing my surroundings, "writing them," as it were. I've turned into quite the little geeker of late, giant purse that can hold my new read, Elizabeth Berg's "Escaping Into the Open," my notebook and pen, along with all my "girl" stuff. Pretty quick I'm going to have to have the voice recorder to record all my jaunty little thoughts as they pop up 'cause I'm too damned important/lazy/artistically fartzy to use a pen.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

...again at the beginning.

My mind is like a rogue toddler on a mission to destroy the entire household by whatever means necessary. I used to be a champ meditator. Nothing could break my concentration and now I can't focus for two seconds, much less sit with my legs crossed for five minutes without pain. I've lost my mental edge along with my physical flexibility.

My favorite focusing technique is Caroline Myss's mantra from her book, Anatomy of the Spirit: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing. The point is to focus on the chakras, or the body's energy centers, from first to seventh, imagining them "light up," with their requisite colors and repeat for each one in order:

All is One
(Red, Base of Spine)

Honor One Another
(Orange, Reproductive)

Honor Oneself
(Yellow, Solar Plexus)

Love is Divine Power
(Green, Heart)

Surrender Personal Will to Divine Will
(Royal Blue, Throat)

Seek Only the Truth
(Indigo, Third Eye)

Live in the Present Moment
(Violet, Crown)

This is my preferred method because it doesn't require complete stillness of my body. Combined with the physical exertion of walking, it allows my mind to come to great conclusions unhindered by the day's stresses. Not being the "omming type," I can barely commit to sitting down and watching a DVD all the way through without wandering away to find something else to do. My doctor describes me as a "Type A-," an accurate description.

I loved meditation for the "afterward" and the portals of creativity it opened for me. My level of awareness became profound and my dreams prophetic. The Minions of Morpheus and I were on actual speaking terms. I began this practice during the time I worked in law, seeing pictures of dead people intermingled with pictures of fellas lying on picnic tables sporting the glory of their erections. Meditation was the outlet that offered me peace along with the clarity I used to write my earlier poems and work.

Lately my dreams have been about day-to-day things. I particularly recall a dream where I was tearfully telling my husband that no one would hire me, that I'd tried to get all these jobs, it wasn't my fault - - as I pulled moldy hotdogs, chickens and cabbage out of the cupboard. Then I dreamed that I was really taking my aggressions out on someone I couldn't name or know. There lurks a part of me that feels remiss in not being a viable wage earner and also some anger or disappointment in my Self for being talented and qualified for so many things yet unable to get hired. Yeah, I've joined the 10% National Unemployment Club.

Those dreams stick with me, along with the feelings they produce, and halt my creative flow big time. It has even stymied my colorful, hyphenated swearing capabilities of which I am legend. Now, that's hitting below the belt!

So we start again at the beginning. All is one.

"Healing requires far more of us than just the participation of our intellectual and even our emotional resources. And it certainly demands that we do more than look backwards at the dead-end archives of our past. Healing is, by definition, taking a process of disintegration of life and transforming into a process of return to life." Caroline Myss

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Say What?

I am perpetually mishearing things. Last evening on the news I distinctly thought I heard the reporter say that:

"a man awoke to find a big menacing guy standing in his bedroom with a pickle and he was scared for his life..."
I said to my loving husband, "A pickle?!" He said, quite exasperatedly, "No (you blithering idiot), a PIT BULL." Well, I started to laugh loudly and uncontrollably and could not stop. Being shot a look that would singe the hair off a slathering wolverine's hiney and send it ky-yiying into the wilderness, I got out of earshot of my beloved and laughed myself silly.

Running through my mind were all of these scenarios of what harm could befall someone at the hands of giant man armed with a pickle. "Ye gads! Is he going to shove that up my ass or down my throat?!

Anyway, I started thinking back over the many times that I've busted a gut listening to people sing lyrics to songs and discovering that they, too, were guilty of mishearing words or entire sentences. The substitutions were often completely ridiculous. I and others sang them this way for decades with the crazy lines fully intact. A co-worker of mine made up a screwball, and somewhat black humored line to "I Like Pina Coladas." The real chorus goes:

"If you like pina coladas, and getting caught in the rain, if you're not into yoga, if you have half a brain. If you'd like making love at midnight, in the dunes on the Cape..."
To which she sang: "If you'd like making love at midnight, in the dew suffocate."

That spun my head around in a hurry. I let her in on the secret of the correct wording since she'd only been singing it wrong since 1979.

I pulled some classic mishears off the Net for you, enjoy:
  • Somewhere over the rainbow, weigh a pie (Wizard of Oz)
  • Every time you go away, you take a piece of meat with you (Paul Young, Every Time You Go Away)
  • The only boy who could ever reach me was the son of a pizza man (Dusty Springfield, Son of a Preacher Man)
  • Doughnuts make my brown eyes blue (Crystal Gayle, Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue)
  • The Ants are My Friends (Bob Dylan, Blowin' In The Wind)
  • I can see Cleveland now, Lorraine has gone (Johnny Nash, I Can See Clearly Now)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I Still Have All My Marbles

It's true, I do. I still have all my marbles from childhood, sixty-two of them. They sit on the windowsill in a wire-hasp Ball canning jar where I can see them every day. Now both the jar and the marbles would be considered valuable antiques. They range from pee-wee all the way to the big guys. They are my memory-makers. When I look at them I remember my days at Welchville School, a four room school house, where we actually played marbles, skipped rope, and all the other things kids did during recess in the early 70's.

My parents being antique dealers passed down to me many valuable things that I cherish and not because of their dollar value. My Staffordshire dogs, the oil on glass painting of birds in cattails, and a Mary Gregory cranberry glass bottle, are but a few of my prized possessions. When I look at them now, I remember my history and family history. For more than twenty years, I watched the sun rise on the white china dogs, the western sun shine through the cranberry bottle, and the sun set on the painting. I remember how old Mom and Dad were when they gave them to me. Therein lies their value.

Breaking down life into material objects, there are few of such great importance worth truly loving, fighting for and keeping close until our passing. They are things that continue to give you something today from the past with one look or touch.

"No memory is ever alone; it's at the end of a trail of memories, a dozen trails that each have their own associations." Louis L'Amour.

All of us kids have items of Mom and Dad's that we treasure with a lifetime of memories attached securely to them. My sister, Leelee-Bop has the massive twin chalk pastel river scenes of Scotland that hung on either side of the picture window in the living room from the time my older siblings were very young. They have now been restored to their original beauty and hang majestically in her home. I know when she looks at them, time flies through her mind from birth to now, along with recent memories made with her husband. I see them in my mind's eye as I write. Thinking of them reminds of me of watching "Kolchak: The Night Stalker" with Dad, as they hung behind where the television sat. Do you remember that show with Darren McGavin? Dad would always first berate us, "Now girls, I'll watch this with you, but don't you go to bed on me before this is over, okay?" We'd always promise vehemently, and half the time skedaddle off to bed after fifteen minutes. It was so scary, but naturally he'd be hooked and have to sit up until 10 p.m. to finish watching it by himself. Poor Dad. I wonder if L-Bop thinks of that when she looks at those pictures? Well, she will now.

I love the things that remind me of Mom and Dad, of growing up in the big old house with the strangest assortment of things you could not imagine. We had potato guns, trucks full of mattresses, trunks busting with silks and satins. My first wedding dress was a plaything my sister and I dragged out of an old trunk. My marbles didn't come from a store, not one of them. They came from "somewhere in time." Like my memories.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Some Letting Go, Some Holding On

How do we let go of life? At forty-something? A friend has metastasized cancer now in their lungs, spine and liver. This person has battled, done all of the treatments their doctor recommended to them, and still they are facing death before Spring perhaps, and most certainly by Summer's end. The body has surrendered. Or so the doctors say. I have to say that, you know. It's the only way I can manage the awful truth, that perhaps the doctors are just plain wrong. Dearest God.

My chest tightens with blood running cold at the the thought of a such a diagnosis coming my way. I'm forty-something my Self. The thought of dying doesn't bother me so much as, first and foremost, leaving my husband alone, and second, leaving my book unwritten. There are certainly other considerations; my mother witnessing her youngest baby dying before her. I couldn't do that to her; I'd rather make up a story of traveling far away and forcing every one to go along with it for her sake until her passing.

Hearing of someone in the Great Circle nearing their own mortality is breathtaking. I hug my own body, my Self, and thank God, the Universe, Allah, Buddah, every single possible god and goddess who would hear me that I live and continue to walk and breathe and love my husband and my family. As I'm writing my husband came rushing in here to whisker kisses all over my neck, face and lips and then rush out again with a devilish smile on his face. He tells the dogs "I ran in to kiss your Mama." The tears spring hot into my eyes, thinking of this soul who is dying as I rejoice in my life, my every cell burning with love and hope for this unbelievably wonderful life I own for today and for now, if not for tomorrow.

"The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware." Henry Miller.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Hole, Woke, Open, Old, Toe, Oh

Hole, Woke, Open, Old, Toe, Oh: these are not tough words to spell. However, four of these words can either be spelled differently and/or have two different meanings. These are spelling words that our seven year old, first-grader grandson, Adam brought to our house last night to work on. Adam and Taylor were spending time with me until their dad and my husband got back from shrimp dragging.

As I made my World-Famous Chocolate Truffle Cookies, we three worked on these words, spelling them out, writing them down, and making sentences out of them. The promise of these decadent cookies upon completion of six sentences did the trick. There was, of course, quite a bit of stalling, talking about Indiana Jones, Legos, the Titanic and other boy-related things, but we finally got the job done.

This is obviously hard for Adam even though I tried to make it as fun as possible. So we also talked about how truly difficult the English language is to learn. I wanted Adam to understand it's not an intuitive skill, and to not get too frustrated with himself. I compared it to learning a new video game. He practices, he gets better. Simple. I don't believe he'll ever really love reading; it's not his "thing." But Adam's imagination and intelligence are keen and he will find his niche and brilliance elsewhere.

Taylor is much more intellectual at nearly ten years old and we talked about being from Africa, Germany or Japan and the difficulty of learning English as a second language. He said with great conviction that "he was glad he was born in the good old USA." He sounded like a pitchman and I had to a squelch a little laugh, and smiled really hard at him instead. He's so darned smart and cute, not that I'm at all biased.

The kids then settled into the living room with their snacks to watch a movie, "Major Payne" in the hour or so before their dad got home. As I listened to them laugh hysterically over every utterance of the word "turd," I worked on dinner pondering the construct of learning to read.

By the time I was five years old, I could read and oh so much more. That's the extreme value and utter downfall of being the youngest in a very large family; you are sponge to so much information. I was listening to Joe Cocker, The Beatles, and Petula Clark for music. Books were read to me and my next older sister, Leelee-Bop by Mom and older sisters. I was looking at Life Magazine and National Geographic, playing Super Spirograph with my high school age sisters, and hearing about Vietnam and everything else at the dinner table. And this is where Joni the Barbarian began.

At kindergarten, I wondered why I was sent someplace with so many stupid kids, and that's the God's honest truth. That first day, there were kids peeing their pants, crying for their mother, and then there was me. When the teacher told us to first outline our clearly outlined picture with black crayon, I distinctly recall muttering "I'm not doing that." That was for the dumb kids who couldn't color in the lines and it would make a mess. I was a teacher's nightmare, but thank God I was cute! No shit and no kidding; I saw what happened to the unruly homely kids. These were the days when corporal punishment was IN, baby! As it were, Leelee-Bop and I should have both been moved up a grade immediately, but back then they didn't do that stuff.

By the time I was in third grade, I was reading Anya Seton, Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart and the like; Mom's romance and mystery novels. She tried to direct me to Charles Dickens, but I found him confusing. That's kind of funny, isn't it? She really must have anticipated quite a lot from me at eight years old. Dickens was where reading ability and actual comprehension fell apart. Anyhow, we had tons of books, including lots of Readers Digest Condensed Books. That's where I found Jack London's, Call of the Wild. Wow, what a book! I was probably ten years old when I read it.

"If we succeed in giving the love of learning, the learning itself is sure to follow." John Lubbock.

As I see Adam struggling like any seven year old to learn the written language, I yearn to help him more than I know is possible. I wish I could tell him how to fall in love with the written word. There is no explanation. Self-discovery is the only way.

"For one who reads, there is no limit to the number of lives that may be lived, for fiction, biography, and history offer an inexhaustible number of lives in many parts of the world, in all periods of time." Louis L'Amour