Monday, December 31, 2007

Homecoming

I'm sitting in my new sitting room/office, admiring the results of a hard day's work. I think I have a comfy, damn near elegant retreat now.

I've actually been working all weekend. Yesterday and Friday I performed a major organizing miracle in my master bathroom and closet.

Today I swapped the master bedroom and sitting room. There is still one wall of my bedroom lined with books, notebooks and various miscellaneous piles. There is also one corner still cluttered with two small file cabinets and a few more piles.

The bulk of the heavy duty work is done, now I have only to sort through the piles and find a place for everything I don't simply trash.

It feels good, almost like I've finally come home. Now maybe I'll crawl out of my hole a bit.

Monday, December 17, 2007

at the end of the day

The day to day bus-i-ness of life has really left me feeling rather felt behind.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

a question

How is it that time flies and comes to a complete standstill all at the same time?

I can't help but wonder if it really is all just an illusion.

grrrr

I'm not sure which is worse, not believing contentment to be an attainable state, or wondering if it's simply slipped through your fingers.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

try a glass of wine

Note to self: Sleeplessness will occur even if cream is applied during normal waking hours.

Well shit. So much for that idea. I can never sleep well after applying the topical treatment, so tonight I figured I'd try something different and instead of applying it at bedtime, I applied it at around 7 p.m., hoping that I could have it washed off and snoozing happily by 1 or 2 a.m. Yet here it is, damn near 3 a.m. and I'm awake, my skin crawling, my stomach clinched.

So I've grabbed a glass of wine (new taste I've acquired) and a cookie and am hoping one of the two will make the uncomfortable sensations in my crotch ease off enough to get some sleep.

Monday, December 10, 2007

it's hot in here

This is just crazy! I've made cookies and sausage balls, but it's 80 friggin' degrees outside and my windows are open, so I haven't talked myself into putting lights on the tree yet.

It's like the endless summer from hell.

playing games

I've discovered a game on Pogo called Stack 'Em. It's a great source of mind-numbing distraction.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

It's very interesting to me...

...that we can have so many awakenings over the course of our lives.

And that each one only serves to expound on the last.

It's the circle of life Simba.

The other night I found myself floundering in my search for words to comfort my mom. She's stressed and depressed (but I digress.)

The best I could come up was "well damn, but look at it this way, it ALWAYS gets better."

It's the circle of life Simba; the ying and the yang; the wax and the wane; for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

"You know this. Life is going to get shitty sometimes. It's unavoidable. Shit happens, we know this. But it always gets better doesn't it? Granted, it will probably get shitty again later, but that's the one good thing about shitty, shitty ALWAYS gets better sooner or later."

Monday, December 3, 2007

ugh!

That's probably the best way to describe how I feel. Just, "ugh!"

I've been trying to get myself on a better schedule, one that includes getting up in the morning and going to bed before midnight and have been doing much better. I was up just before 7 this morning and was plowing through the work on my desk by nine.

By 11:30, I'd had enough so I loaded up my zip drive and came home. I've got a few phone calls to make this afternoon and a board meeting to cover this evening, but I'm free and clear until about 2 and yes, I believe I am going to spend the time snoozing!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

in case you were wondering...

I still haven't smoked a cigarette. I haven't even tried to sneak a puff.

In fact, I still have four cigarettes and a lighter in the glove compartment of my car. I just haven't wanted one bad enough to smoke them.

Tuesdays are usually the worst for making me crave a smoke. Guess that's because they are currently my high-stress, deadline days.

November 15, that's the day I stopped smoking. The Boy keeps up with how long it's been. I don't really stop to think about it. If I do, I consider rewarding the progress with a smoke. No need to think about it.

Hmmmm...a cigarette sure would be good right now.

Yes, but I don't smoke. **wink**

I started the treatment when I stopped smoking. I'm supposed to use it three times a week, but I skipped this Monday and last Monday cause the aching and the other side effects set in and it was a little much to bear on Mondays and Tuesdays. So I apply it on Wednesday and Friday.

No, I have not yet gone on "official stay at home medical leave". I'm trying to put that off for as long as possible, but I told my husband tonight that it's entirely possible I decide any day not to go into the office at all. If I can get it set up so I can access the office server remotely, I won't even have to go in on Tuesdays. I'll be able to do it all from the comfort of my home.

For now, I've got to get in the bed, cause I've got an early morning wake up call. Busy day tomorrow...both of our US Senators are coming through town tomorrow, one at 12, another at 1:30, then I hop into the car and head for the state capital, where I will stay overnight for a two-day training session for prospective political candidates. No, I do not consider myself a prospective political candidate.

Ew, it just occurred to me that I will be spending a lot of time sitting in class over the next two days. Yesterday was Wednesday and tomorrow is Friday. Hope the chairs are comfy!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

oh baby!

I've had baby on the brain.

My sister just brought a healthy baby boy into the world.

(Ok, technically she's not my sister, but I hate the term 'best friend', it makes it sound as though we're ten. Besides 'best friend' doesn't quite seem to do what we are justice. For the purposes of privacy, we'll call her Suzie, which is also the name of my beloved childhood teddy bear.)

I don't actually like babies. Don't get me wrong, it's not as though I dislike babies, I've just never been one to get particularly mushy over them. They cry, they eat, they pee, they poop, they sleep. (Ok, they do have adorable little clothes and softies and stuff.)

My own was the only one I ever really liked enough to be around, but I could never seem to get enough of him.

I'm actually kinda afraid of babies. They tend to make me nervous, kinda like when I'm in a big fancy house and I'm afraid of bumping into the table, toppling and breaking some priceless treasure.

So I don't actually have much experience with babies. The Boy is the only one under the age of two I've ever held or changed. Or at least, he was the only one until now.

(Sorry, I tend to ramble when I've got a lot on my mind, which is why I usually don't bother to write it all down.)

Suzie had an unpleasant pregnancy, filled with the constant worry of a mother's rising blood pressure. She was a trooper though, refused to let it get her down, and even pissed me off a few times, insisting on handling her shit on her own. She gets that damn pride from her daddy. Luckily she's a hell of a lot smarter than he is!

She wanted this baby so badly. Perhaps it was because she wanted it so badly, and not that she felt sick the whole time, that made us both worried so much that something would go wrong.

I kept telling her it was just the penis. "Of course you're going to gain more weight, it's the penis...of course you're going to be sick, it's the penis...of course it's going to be a difficult delivery, it's the penis."

All the while, I prayed. If God has "triage" angels, they probably got a real hoot out of the chick repeating "please God, let it just be the penis"!

I had never really seen Suzie sick before. Oh, I've been around for cramps, snotty noses, bad backs and even a funny woooshing sound that now lived in her ear, but this was serious sick. This was "blood pressure could spike up to the point of aneyurism or stroke" serious. I suddenly understood why, all those years ago, my husband told the doctor to save me if we could only save one. God meant for The Boy to be here, so they saved us both. I kept praying God meant for Suzie's little boy to be here too.

Suzie has spent an awful lot of time worrying about me over the years, worried about my health, fussing at me to quit smoking. This go around, I was the one worrying and I instantly felt like complete shit for every cigarette I ever tried to hide from her and every doctor's appointment I skipped.

The baby wasn't actually due until December 12, but I started telling her to keep her legs squeezed together and began answering her calls with, "Is it time yet?" the first week of November. She decided to fuck with me once by insisting that it was, so you can imagine the relief AND disbelief when, last Monday, it was finally time!

I picked her daughter up from 1st grade we could meet them at the hospital.

At 5:25 the following afternoon, Tuesday, November 20, Suzie delivered a healthy baby boy, weighing 5lbs., 3 ozs., measuring 18.5 inches long. Her husband and her mama were with her. (Her mama wasn't there for the first one, so that was extremely special.)

At the time, I was at the office, throwing a newspaper together on deadline, on the phone with her "blood-kin" sister, deciding who was going to call the hospital.

I felt much better about things later that night when I saw for myself that both mother and baby were safe. They got to come home Friday.

She lucked up (again) and didn't tear and says she isn't too awfully sore. She's just pissed cause she thinks she still looks pregnant! Hehehe, I know, I know, we expect the belly to go away the minute we have the baby, but it doesn't! We knew this, that's why they tell us to plan on going home in clothes we wore when we were 3-5 months pregnant, not clothes we wore right before conception, but it never fails to shock the hell out of us that we still walk out of the hospital with a baby belly!

It took the baby a day or two to figure out there's no more free lunch through the cord — that he can't just lay around in his mama's belly sleeping all day. Now that he has, everyone is home healthy and happy.

He looks like a little old man in his wrinkled up skin. I play with the wrinkles around his elbows and knees. It's amazing how much growing he has to do just to fill up all that skin, and almost scary to think of how quickly it will happen. Just like all little boys at the start of a growth spurt, he has big feet. He hates for you to mess with his feet and even wants to keep his socks on. He squeaks before he cries.

I loved him from the moment I knew he existed. Now I can quit worrying so much about him and his mama and go by him some cool socks!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

patting myself on the back

I think I may have my head screwed on right this time around.

I've made it through my first week of do-it-yourself cancer curing cream and only have a relatively small spot that's bothering me. Hehe, gives completely new meaning to "hottie"!

It woke me up at 5 o'clock this morning, screaming for me to go soak in the bathtub, which I did. That left me comfortable enough to go back to sleep and petroleum jelly is currently soothing the lingering burn. Good news is, I get weekends off so I won't have to put any more on until Monday!

I haven't had a cigarette since Wednesday night — not even a puff, which is really saying something, especially since we ate at Olive Garden last night! I was in the smoking section, munching on appetizers and salad, drinking a fruity vodka concoction and my husband was beside me, puffing away, yet still I resisted!! Go momma!

Of course, this morning I did want to "reward" myself with a smoke, but again, I resisted!

Earlier this afternoon the husband brought home some patches so he could quit too, which should make it much easier for me to resist.

AND, even MORE exciting, he brought home a new vacuum cleaner so we can get all this damn black dog hair up!! Life is good.

Monday, November 12, 2007

happily ever after

Growing up, I always preferred the tragic, heart-wrenching tales to the "happily ever after" fairy tales, until that is, I found myself in the middle of the former.

My aunt couldn't understand why I was getting married and having a baby when I was supposed to be at college, preparing for greatness.

One of her friends, who happened to be a nurse at the hospital where The Boy was born, told her she thought we were just two kids who wanted a family.

Exactly!

As I assume most parents do, we talked about the life we wanted our son to have, the kind of parents we wanted to be and our fear of failing him somehow.

Those kinds of talks always seemed to end in a fight, not because we disagreed on how to raise our son, but because my husband refused the idea of living to see 25 and made certain to remind me of that whenever we discussed the future.

"Baby, you can't count on me being here then," he would tell me.

He said that he wasn't trying to be cruel, only practical, that he didn't want me to be disappointed when the future got here and he wasn't here to share it with me.

He was right. He died at the age of 24.

And at the same time, he was so incredibly wrong. Here I am, in our future, and despite his continued warnings, his continued objections, despite having "prepared" myself for his death, I am still bitterly disappointed that he's not here for our "happily ever after".

Sunday, November 11, 2007

his presence lingers...

Oh how I miss him!
My every thought — his face not far behind.

The Boy is looking more and more like his Daddy every day. It's hard.

People say that I should no longer mourn for him, that it is unhealthy to still long for his presence. I suppose they may be right. But that doesn't change anything.

The Boy is beginning to develop his stride. He has this way of pursing his lips when his mind is puzzling over something. His limbs are all stretching, becoming more defined with age. AND, he recently announced he was growing his hair out.

Thank you God, for not giving my child brown eyes!

"Momma, why didn't you want me to have brown eyes?"

I knew I'd never be able to say no to both of you.

The Boy has the shape of his Daddy's eyes — wide almonds, tilted slightly up in the outer corners. They are currently a deep sea green. They darken and deepen each passing year as the flecks of dark amber and brown multiply. His Daddy's eyes were deep, molten pools of brown. I often thought a person could drown in his eyes, and the heat from them could melt one completely.

The Boy longs to feel his daddy's presence, frustrated that he can't. I wonder if that's only because he hasn't yet recognized his daddy in himself, because I certainly feel his presence when I am with The Boy. It makes me miss him all the more.

Perhaps that is why I can so readily believe that the very longing for God is evidence of His presence.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

stating the obvious

A stupid man's report of what a clever man says can never be accurate, because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand.
- Bertrand Russell

If I were a true Southern lady I would clutch my chest and have the vapors upon recognizing the inherent truth of this statement.

I asked the fledgling debaters in the 4-H club to tell me who Bertrand Russell was and how this argument might be used effectively.

Perhaps we should all ask ourselves that often.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

how a song helped the paper keep its editor

I was driving into the office one morning, the windows rolled down, enjoying the crisp fall air. It was a normal trip to town, slowing down for suicidal deer along the road and offering a cordial raise of the coffee cup to the farmers along the way.

I had spent several long months debating whether I should simply quit my job, after a long line of unethical and highly immoral moves by the company. I kept coming back to all the phone calls and thank you notes I've received from readers over the years, but still I wavered between the obligation I feel to my readers, the community and my disgust for the corporation that signs my paycheck.

I was flipping through the radio station and heard this song. I haven't looked for a job since, although I have been approached by a few promising opportunities.

(Scroll to the bottom of the page to turn off the regular music)

startled out of a fog

The book I am reading, Come Be My Light, makes the point that the very longing for God is evidence of His presence in your life.

Over the years it has seemed as though every time I believe myself to be moving closer to God, feeling as though I have a stronger relationship with Him, or having a clearer understanding of what it is He wants from me, I find myself cast down into this dark vortex of longing.

I had long ago accepted that the haunting loneliness could only be eased by the presence of God, but it wasn't until I began reading the writings of Mother Teresa and her spiritual advisers that I considered the notion that it was God's presence in my life, not His absence, which made that longing so great at times.

For a long time I have viewed my earthly suffering as a penance that must be paid for my earthly sins, but I have been startled out of my most recent fog by several revelations.

1) If Christ paid the ultimate price for our sins then surely the trials we face here on earth are not punishment for those same sins, but instead either a calling from God drawing us closer to Him, or a temptation from evil that seeks to drive me away from Him and my faith in Him.

2) They say that storms arise in your life when you are closest to God and that by standing firm, your eyes and heart forever fixed on God, you will ride the storm out in safety.

I suppose the biggest obstacle for most of us is our need for instant gratification. No one ever promised that our life on this earth would be easy, or even tolerable, but we have been promised, a promise sealed with the blood of Christ, that we will eventually rejoin God. The only real question left isn't whether you can see God's blessings in your life now, but whether your faith is strong enough to believe in the promise He offered, even in the face of suffering.

not on little cat feet

I hate this! I can't even seem to find the words to comment on the other blogs I read regularly.

It's more of an overall funk than writer's block or some such mystical ailment.

I get like this sometimes and it can be difficult to shake myself out of it.

It would probably be much easier if I could at least identify what triggers it, but there doesn't seem to be any real trigger. After a few days it occurs to me that I'm not eating, which doesn't help my energy level at all. Before I know it, several weeks have passed in a fog.

During these times, my mind is in overdrive, constantly churning.

When I first noticed this drastic fluctuation in myself I thought it was a sure sign of mental illness and carried myself to a shrink. The boy was just a few months old at the time and I was terrified of him having a crazy mom.

I saw the shrink once a week for several months. Each visit I would insist I was somehow "fucked up in the head" and each visit he would insist that I was not suffering from bipolar disorder or anything like that but was instead suffering from chronic depression, which he said was the result of being "damaged".

Over the years, I've tried various anti-depressants, dietary changes, yada yada, but it never fails, once or twice a year I slip into this funk.

It's a never-ending cycle, one that many people do not understand. I've always been a "pull yourself up by the bootstraps, don't let life knock you on your ass" kind of girl, but it's not always so cut and dry. First the thick fog seeps in, muddying your mind and weighing you down. Then you begin to chastise yourself for not being able to see through the fog. Days, or even weeks slip by and you bemoan your inability to accomplish everything you needed to do in that time. You start beating yourself up for being depressed, which just makes you feel even more worthless, causing the dense fog to grow even thicker.

Then, something unexpected happens. A tiny ray of sunlight pierces through, reminding you of the world that exists outside of the stifling fog. You slowly begin crawling forward, suddenly aware that you're drowning in the darkness.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

time well spent

Sometimes the words do not come easily, or rather, the thoughts tumble over one another too swiftly for words to catch them.

And no Kate, I never seem to have enough time, but that's only because I waste so much of it.

I've been spending a lot of time with my son lately. He's growing up so fast. We got his report card today. His grades are all up and they say he's making the effort.

It's hard to watch your children grow up.

He's turning out to be a really good guy though. He can be a bit smart-mouthed, but he's learning the difference between funny smartass and asshole smartass and is beginning to be a good judge of when either may be completely inappropriate.

He made dinner tonight. I asked him to keep an eye on the stew as it warmed on the stove. A bit later he announced that dinner was ready and led me to a table where dinner was served.

I'm a lucky damn woman.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

heavy sigh

Wheww!!

Sometimes I just want to shout "STOP!! Let me off!"

Sometimes my momentum simply stops. As if the entire world has simply stopped spinning.

This is when I sleep.

And while I sleep I process.

I read a bit, I pray.

I regain my balance.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

prepubescent angst

It sucks to be 11.

I wish I could go to the school and smack around a bunch of 6th grade jackasses, but I don't suppose that would set a very good example.

The Boy had a rough week last week and, bless his heart, there doesn't seem to be any end in sight.

First, he lost his girlfriend. He was okay with that. What got him was the fact that the other kids latched on to the fact and have been teasing him unmercifully about it. Throw in the fact that in his three core classes, where he spends most of his time, he is the only one from his elementary school, surrounded by kids who all went to school together for years, who apparently are not very welcoming of "outsiders."

The Boy has never had a great deal of friends, but who really does? His best friend since kindergarten lives right through the woods from us and the two of them have stayed pretty tight. Thank God, otherwise The Boy would probably be ready to give up on middle school altogether.

This is the worst part of being a parent. The miscellaneous bits of paper, chewing gum and rocks found in the bottom of the washing machine are nothing. The colds, the scrapes, even the seizures — these I can fix, mostly. But to see my child suffering at the hands of a bunch of jackass kids who have nothing better to do than razz him all day — that kills me. I am left helpless.

The Boy is losing his patience, and I'm waiting, with bated breath for the principal to call because I'm pretty sure my boy is going to end up flying hot on one of these little punks. He has one of those dangerously misleading temperaments. The Boy comes across as calm, cool and collected, but inside he is a seething mix of anguish and anger. It all bubbles beneath the surface, waiting to erupt. I just hope he doesn't hurt anyone.

Yesterday The Boy told them he didn't care what they thought of him, because he had plenty of friends outside of school, including a bunch of officers from the Sheriff's Office. The others kids called him a liar of course.

"Am I going to have to send the SWAT team down there," I asked The Boy as he recounted his tell.

His eyes grew wide and he smiled, "You could do that?!"

"Well I probably can't get them to storm the school in their ninja turtle girl, but I'm sure a couple of the guys would swing through to drop something off for you."

At that moment, I was The Boy's hero.

And it beats the hell out of me going and strangling a bunch of shithead little kids!

*yawn*

It is entirely too early!

There is something innately wrong about being up before the sun. I don't even get the joy of seeing a beautiful sunrise when I manage to drag myself from the bed this early. The house is surrounded by trees, so there is no horizon, simply "up". It will be close to noon before the sun makes its way over the trees. Perhaps that is why I prefer to sleep until noon.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

great song

This is such a great song...Zakk Wylde, Way Beyond Empty...(you can scroll to the bottom of the page to pause the normal player.)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Five things

Kate has tagged me to reveal five things...so here we go...

5 things found in my room:

1) A bayonet from an old German rifle that my mom bought The Boy at an auction. It was confiscated immediately under the general, all-purpose "you'll put your eye out with that thing" umbrella.

2) A Red Rider BB shotgun and a seemingly endless supply of BBs (in my room for the same reason as #1)

3) My grandfather's riot stick from his days on patrol in the police department. It is now affectionately known as my "booger bopper" and lives by my bed, should someone make it past the three dogs. (I suppose #1 and #2 could always serve as back-up.)

4) An old Army trunk that has been spray-painted matte black and marbleized silver filled memories of my first husband to pass on to The Boy when he is older.

5) My super comfy bed with it's super soft sheets, a mountain of pillows and a cheap Wal-Trap comforter. (I love my bed!!)


5 things I've always wanted to do:

1) Go to college.

2) Work as a counselor. (which explains #1)

3) Be a stay-at-home mom who cooks supper every night watches the Price is Right on TV every morning.

4) Go skinny-dipping. I don't really know why, it just seems like fun.

5) Make homemade bread. (sheesh, I'm so simple)


5 things in my bag: (yes, I cram a lot of stuff into a pocketbook)

1) A quick reference guide of important "who to call, what to do and what not to do" tips for reporters covering bio-hazard, pandemic and terrorism emergencies.

2) A digital camera, complete with case and back-up battery and a super slim notebook.

3) Various cords, including the charger for my iPod, an adapter for my cell phone charger and a USB cord for God only knows what.

4) Three tubes of chapstick (along with two tubes of barely tinted lip gloss and a compact, none of which I ever use, but as a woman, I have this overwhelming compulsion to keep them in my purse.)

5) A large bottle of ibuprofen because I have a husband, a son and a job.


5 things found in my wallet:

1) Newspaper clippings (one is the obituary of a friend who died nine years ago, the other is my parents' wedding announcement.)

2) A certified copy of my birth certificate (I'm thinking I need to put this somewhere safer, but every time I put something up so I won't lose it, I can't find it.)

3) My checkbook, check register, savings account register, my son's savings account register, and a handful of debit card receipts.

4) A piece of paper with a list of super important numbers in case my cell phone decides to act stupid.

5) A key to police-issue handcuffs (don't even ask!)


5 things I’m currently into:


1) eBay!! My checking account has my mother to thank for that one.

2) Speech and debate. I'm leading a 4-H club on communications trying to fill in the gaps left by the local school system.

3) Word Whomp! This is a highly addictive game at pogo.com that my husband and I play every night and yes, we have both been shouting out words in our sleep!

4) Country music. I was raised on good old rock-n-roll, but find myself listening to mostly country stations now.

5) Baby clothes, baby toys, baby blankets, baby shower decorations and nursing gowns. My best friend is having a baby soon and I'm on a baby kick. After looking at nursing gowns for her, I've decided I need one just because they look so comfortable.

Now according to the rules, I'm supposed to tag five other people for this, but I'm going to break the rules and advise anyone reading this to give us a glimpse into their five things.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

staring you in the face

I love it when things just stare us straight in the face...even my "daily literary quote" is urging me to take action:

"Take rest; a field that has rested gives beautiful crops." — Ovid

mmm-hmmm...I really needed to hear that.

rant

I am trying very hard not to be bitter, or angry, or hurt or just downright bitchy.

But I am consistently disappointed in people. For every kind deed, every glimpse of goodness in folks, there is someone waiting in the wings to remind me just how much people suck.

Currently that person is my overpaid, under-worked staff writer. It's my fault though. I have made the mistake of spoiling my entire staff and they have often mistaken that kindness for weakness, but at the moment, given the circumstances, I'm having a hard time viewing someone else's laziness as a simple character flaw and instead am taking it quite personally.

Although I have been warning my staff in recent months that a leave of absence was virtually eminent, apparently my staff writer never thought I would actually go through with it and now that she knows I fully intend to take some time off, she is angry. She doesn't seem to take into consideration the fact that I have actually offered to give up half my salary to bring another body into the office in my absence, someone who can help catch all the pictures, cover some of the meetings, etc. Nor has she taken into consideration the fact that in spite of being the highest paid staff writer in the entire company, her workload is considerably lighter than that of her counterparts. She has also not taken into account that I have delayed this decision for over a year, against the judgment of my oncologist and my family and why have I delayed? Because I was worried about the effect my extended absence would have on my staff.

She is now in a flat panic, not because she is afraid she can't cover things in my absence, but because she is afraid of the extra effort it will require. Effort, which apparently she is unwilling to put forth.

It's sad really. I learned a long time ago that it is in these types of situations, when it's time to step up to the plate, that you truly discover the best and worst in people.

By company standards, staff writers are expected to churn out 8-10 stories a week ad paginate a minimum of four pages every week. In an effort to make up for the numerous shortcomings of the company itself, I have allowed my staff writer to enjoy a much calmer, less stressful schedule that normally consists of 3-5 stories a week and paginating one page. She has enjoyed a flexible schedule that has allowed her to come in late and leave early and did I mention that she is the highest paid staff writer in the company? She makes more than many of our editors. She is now trying desperately to hurry up and find another job before I can take my absence. Needless to say, she is not at all considerate of the situation that will leave me in.

I have always tried so hard to live the Golden Rule, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you", but every now and then some selfish bitch will crawl out of the woodwork and make me want to smack her.

Monday, October 15, 2007

it may very well be time

It may very well be time for me to take a leave of absence.

It may, in fact, be long overdue.

I started working when I was 16 — slinging burgers in the local drive-thru. When The Boy was a baby, I pulled ten to sixteen hour shifts in a greasy diner, slinging eggs, washing dishes, and wishing my stomach would stop hurting. When he started school I started filing and answering the phones in a doctor's office, and wishing my stomach would stop hurting. A few years, and a hysterectomy, later I landed at the local paper in my hometown. My stomach doesn't hurt at all like it used to, although when I'm tired or stressed, or not feeling well, I can almost feel the old contractions.

I have not been kind to my body — so many sleepless nights, spent worrying, waiting, working, writing. Caffeine, sugar and nicotine getting me through each day. Weeks on end when the simple act of eating seems too much a bother, and a waste of time besides. Did I mention I smoke? And drink heavily on occasion?

And so now I have this whole cancer thing going on. Obviously, the first thing I need to do is make some sweeping changes in my lifestyle — Ugh! I can sense this is going to take a great deal of willpower and that stuff can be so very hard to come by!

In order to prolong, or at least minimize, any sort of further disfiguring surgery, I'm going to have to spend about 12 weeks in absolute misery, my entire crotch in searing flames. I'm really hoping the flu-like symptoms will go away as I get further into the treatment.

Four weeks into the sixteen week course I was done for — too dizzy to focus, my entire body aching, and the ever present flaming twat.

No, I'm sorry, call me a wuss, but I cannot function very well like that and I certainly don't want to be running around town dealing with people.

I've talked to the company's president and the owner's wife about the situation and they agree and are willing to work with me to where I keep most of my salary for the duration while I do a minimal amount of work from home.

It's certainly not as good as sitting off in a cabin in the woods, but at least it can be done now. I suppose it's official, here's my four week (roughly) notice. I will be taking a medical leave of absence and you folks will just have to make sure a paper gets put out each week.

Yes, it may be time indeed.

when you ignore important instructions

When you ignore important instructions, you have to expect some fallout I suppose, but damn!

I use a certain hair removal lotion on my legs to keep from having to shave everyday and last night I had the bright idea to try some on my underarms as well. I completely ignored the "test this product on a small area if you are using it in a new location" warning and liberally applied the lotion to the delicate skin under my arms.

I should add here that I am not a "sensitive skin" kind of girl — I don't usually bother with shaving gels or lotions and have never had any kind of reaction to anything on my skin.

I guess there's a first time for everything and I guess that's why they put those silly warnings on so many products.

My underarms screamed their protest to the hair removal product and yelled at me for my stupidity most of the night. Hmmm...I wonder if the "do not apply to broken skin" warning on deodorant applies to me now.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

puppy love

I had one of the best "aww" moments of motherhood Friday afternoon.

"So, um, there's this girl at school who likes me," The Boy told me after I picked him up from school.

"How do you know she likes you," I asked.

"She wrote me a note, see," he responded, digging the note out of the pocket of his jeans and handing it to me.

So the child who will not bring home letters from the PTA allowed me to read the very first "I like you, do you like me" note from a little girl. I was beyond touched!

The Boy went on to tell me all about the girl — they are in most of the same classes, eat lunch together everyday and she apparently has a way of waving while offering a bright smile and quiet "hi" that my son thinks is extremely cute.

"Uh oh," I responded when he told me about another little boy who hangs out with them.

"What," The Boy demanded.

"Oh nothing," I said quickly, not wanting to ruin The Boy's moment.

"No, if you know something you need to tell me so I'll be prepared," The Boy insisted.

I asked if the other little boy liked her too, mentioning that, if so, the little girl may change her mind often about who she liked.

"No, he likes her best friend, and besides, she's not that kind of girl," The Boy replied confidently.

He grinned and turned bright red when he admitted that yes, he liked her too.

"So does this mean you have a girlfriend," I asked innocently.

"Yes I think so, but I haven't told her I liked her back yet."

"Oh I told her I read the note," he responded to my questioning. "I just said that she didn't have to write it down, she could have just told me, but she said she was scared I wouldn't want to be her friend anymore if I knew she liked me."

And so it begins. I hope she doesn't break his heart any time soon.

ugh!

Maybe I shouldn't bitch about not being able to breathe since I haven't quit smoking.

Between the drastic change in temperature, the dryness of the air, the dust, and the smoke — my airways are clogged. I have discovered Tropicana sugar-free orangeade and will buying some more tomorrow to take in some extra fluids.

I will however bitch about my teeth. Maybe that's why I've been craving ice cream lately. I lost a chunk of the backside of one of my bottom left molars. The tooth doesn't hurt, but the rough edges of the hole are shredding the shit out of the side of my tongue.

Throw in a sore throat, chapped lips and a stuffy nose and it's no wonder I don't feel very attractive.

I so wish I had not always looked at dental care as a frivolous expense. Guess I know what I'll be getting for Christmas.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

fall arrived in the middle of the night

The seasons have officially changed in here in my part of the southeast. Yesterday the temperature soared into the mid to upper eighties and this morning I wake up freezing and learn we are expecting today's high to be in the mid to upper sixties.

My sinuses are pissed, but after an excruciatingly long, hot, dry summer, I'm glad fall has finally decided to drop in.

Monday, October 8, 2007

make the call

I have often wondered if this endless longing isn't simply a driving need to be closer to God.

And I have pleaded for Him to drive the aching loneliness from my soul.

I'm left with only theories...and all the questions that go with them...

Perhaps I have simply not given enough of myself to Him. If so, how do I give more?

Surely He is not just a comforting thought. If I were to no longer doubt His love for me, would this incessant throbbing cease?

Perhaps I do not pray hard enough or often enough. Maybe I'm doing it all wrong, maybe I'm praying for all the wrong things. Is there a "right" way to pray?

Perhaps I am simply too sinful and have been deemed unworthy. Are any of us truly unworthy of His love? Am I simply being punished in this life so I am not in the next? Am I just a spoiled and selfish child?

Sunday, October 7, 2007

hooked

My Momma has me hooked on eBay.

It all began innocently enough as she asked me to look at a few items she was watching for Christmas presents for the family.

Then I discovered they had quilt squares. It didn't take me much longer to discover that they had pretty much anything one could ever want. I've now purchased two sets of quilt squares, a set of Rosary beads, an old photo for my Momma and, at the moment, am closely watching an old twist cookie press for my Granny.

I won't even try to describe all the items currently on my "watch list". No wonder Momma spends so much time on eBay!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

sixth grade hero

The Boy handed out his first black eye today, and yes, I am proud.

The other kid had it coming — little shit is always going around pushing and shoving people, popping them in the back of the head, tearing up their stuff.

It is important to note that The Boy, being rather small compared to most of his peers, has frequently been at the mercy of other, larger jackass little boys who like to push and shove and pop people in the back of the head. He's never really bothered to defend himself, figuring the bigger kid could do some major damage.

Today was the day The Boy decided he was tired of getting pushed around.

Two classes of kids were walking laps around the field in PE class this morning when this kid walks up and punches The Boy in the back. IN THE BACK!! How shitty is it to punch somebody in the back?!

The Boy turns around, tells the kid to "back off" and keeps walking.

The little shit punches him in the back again!

The Boy stopped, turned around, punched the little shit right in the face and kept walking.

"I was aiming for his nose, but I missed and hit him in the eye," The Boy explained sheepishly. "I was waiting to see if his nose would start bleeding, but it didn't. His eyes got real watery though."

Hahaha. I'm sorry, call me barbaric, but I love it!

A lot of the other kids who are always being hassled by the little shit cheered The Boy's stand.

The kid came up to him later in the locker room and just stood there looking at him.

"What," The Boy demanded. The little shit just turned and walked away.

Way to go Boy! No, you should never be the first one to throw a punch and you should never hit a girl, but just because you're one of the good guys doesn't mean you have to take any shit off anybody! I was so proud of him for standing up for himself and even more proud of the fact that he remained in control of his temper, even when hauling off and knocking the shit out of some guy! If it had been me, or his daddy, we would have flown hot and beat the snot out of the little shit. Not my Boy, he just pops him one good time and walks away.

I asked him if his knees were knocking as he did.

The teachers didn't see it so he hasn't gotten in trouble for it yet but everyone was talking about the little shit's black eye for the rest of the day and I figure his mom will certainly want to know what happened. I almost expect a phone call from the principal tomorrow.

I just hope The Boy doesn't get his ass kicked tomorrow.

But, at least he got to be the hero of sixth grade today!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

in case you were wondering

In case you were wondering what I've been doing with my time...

I spent Saturday morning prancing around a street festival in a big, heavy gray squirrel costume. It was hot as hell and I now have a stronger appreciation for the endurance it takes folks to walk around in heavy gear!

After I changed back into the neighborhood editor, I ate some ice cream, took some pictures and talked to folks.

Then I ate some more ice cream, and stepped up to the microphone in front of a huge crowd to name this year's honored farmer.

After that was over, I took some more pictures, talked to some more folks, ate some more ice cream and changed back into the shorts and t-shirt I'd worn under the squirrel costume.

Then, I got into the dunking booth. I'd never been in one before and don't particularly like water going up my nose, but I was quick to pinch my nostrils shut so it was actually pretty fun.

Needless to say, after all that exertion, I needed some more ice cream!

Saturday night was spent nibbling and chatting at my cousin's 40th birthday party.

I spent most of Sunday sleeping, washing clothes, drinking milk and eating cereal.

Apparently I'm on a milk kick. I think it's "sympathy cravings". My best friend is pregnant and has just reached the REALLY pregnant ice cream stage!

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go drink a glass of milk and go to bed. I was up early today, worked late and am supposed to be getting on an "adult" schedule so wil be getting up early tomorrow.

hmmm...

I notice I have been accumulating a lot of "draft" posts — random, often incomplete, almost abrupt, thoughts that have haunted me recently — scraps of paper in electronic format.

Seems I've been shoving most of them in an electronic drawer lately. My apologies.

Monday, October 1, 2007

changes

Why are hair salons never open on Monday? I wanted to get my hair cut, but the one girl around here I trust with scissors is off on Mondays. *sigh* Oh well, I guess I'll have to wait until later in the week.

I wonder if all women chop their hair off when making life-altering decisions.

My hair is currently extremely long, all one length and THICK!! By the end of the week, it will most likely be shoulder length and in layers. It's just time for a change.

I am hoping that since sitting on my butt at home no longer looks like a viable possibility that there will be a change of careers in my near future. I've applied for an executive director position with a local non-profit operated by member churches. The position seems like an answer to a prayer.

Everyone keeps asking me what will happen to the paper if I leave, but honestly, I no longer care. I hate to disappoint my readers, but I refuse to continue compromising my principles by working for such a slimy company.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

what a week!

This has been one of those seemingly endless weeks.

Tomorrow, I start my new "get up every morning" schedule. It should greatly increase my productivity.

Monday, September 24, 2007

session expired

That's the shitty thing about weekends — as soon as I'm rested and a bit rejuvenated, they come to an end.

I had wanted to share the story of a boy I loved dearly who died recently, but I got to rambling and didn't get around to it.

And now I need to go to bed. I've got to work tomorrow and I'm expecting an early morning wake up call from a perky blonde, who has generously agreed to try to help me get on a healthier sleeping schedule by waking my sorry ass up in the mornings. I just had to promise not to cuss her out when she calls!

revelations

Every now and then God reveals, in perfect clarity, some of the intricacies of His plan.

I am left in awe by these revelations. I marvel at the intricate pattern the Maker has created — the delicate interweaving of ourselves with others and the enormous impact seemingly "chance" encounters can have on our being.

There are many intersections, parallel points and blind curves along our path.

Most of us constantly question God's will — seeking clarification on the message and the means, longing to know the intent.

We beg for God to "cut us a break" and pray for what we believe we need for eternal bliss. The Rolling Stones would tell you, "you can't always get what you want, but you get what you need."

Even a bunch of old rockers know the deal — there are times in our lives when it seems as though our prayers go unanswered, but sometimes unanswered prayers are just God knowing best, and sometimes He humbles us by revealing the sheer mastery of His plan.

This can all be extremely difficult to remember when we're in the midst of all life's bullshit or sinking in utter desolation and feel like we just need a break from the whole damn thing. It is especially during these times that we must cling to the hope left with us during these moments of revelation.

bitter truth

One cannot accept the existence of God without also facing a bitter truth...

The existence of God, and the acceptance of that existence do not erase human suffering.

I have screamed to the Heavens, cursing my God for allowing His children to endure such heartache and begged Him to allow me to understand His purpose behind it.

There are those who say we brought such suffering upon ourselves. Some say that our suffering is a test of our faith, or the path to enlightenment. We are reminded during these times that it is "God's will" but rarely is the righteousness of that will apparent to us.

Perhaps The Boy had the best answer to why a loving God would allow such horrible things to happen.

"Maybe He figures we need to experience the same kind of suffering Christ did in order to appreciate Heaven," The Boy explained from the back seat of the car.

A year after The Boy, who was also not raised in the church, shared such insight, I begin to read Mother Teresa — Come Be My Light, which is a collection of her personal writings that reveal the dark night of her soul.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

beautiful recognition

There is something inherently beautiful about death — a soul slipping from the physical decay of this world, offering a parting promise of eternity.

I was not raised in the church and struggled with my faith for years. It was not the "miracle of life" in having a child that left me doubtless of God's existence. No, it was the comforting presence that filled my car as I followed the ambulance that carried my husband's body.

There are those who would say it was merely an illusory product of a mind distressed.

However, I recognized it immediately as the presence of God.

Over the next few months, as I prayed fervently for my husband's soul — that he may be forgiven his earthly sins and his soul be allowed to remain in the presence of God — I could often hear his footsteps, catch a whiff of his cologne, or even feel his arms around me. Eternity suddenly stretched before me, offering its sweet promise and this life suddenly seemed incredibly short, yet somehow maddeningly slow.

God reveals a lot in death, if our hearts are open to recognize it.

stubborn ass

I've always been a stubborn ass and seem to insist on learning things the hard way so it really shouldn't surprise me that The Boy is the same way.

He's only been back in school four or five weeks and is already grounded for having a 'D' average in social studies. His teacher says he would have an easy 'A' in that class if he would just do the work. Of course, making matters worse, The Boy tried to delay my knowledge of the matter by not giving me the note the teacher sent. Luckily, the teacher sent me an email the next day when she The Boy couldn't produce a signed copy.

It reminds me so much of all those report cards I brought home with notes about how "she is a gifted child but is not working up to her full potential."

Like me, The Boy is stubborn and hasn't yet been presented with a good enough reason to "waste his time" doing things that he "doesn't want to do". He's willing to take the bad grade, willing to take the consequences of losing privileges and being assigned extra chores. Incentive programs are not enough to encourage him to do the work required of all the other students.

I keep trying to tell him that yes, homework is intended to offer a review and practice of material gone over in class, but it is also intended to encourage him to develop a good work ethic, which will be crucial to his survival after "leaving the nest".

Eh, he shrugs it off. He's not much concerned about it. I hope it doesn't end up biting him in the ass too hard.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

need a laugh?

Laughter is indeed the best medicine and can certainly be extremely infectious...

If you need a laugh, (and don't we all,) pause the tunes and play this video.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

*yawn*

The past couple of weeks have really kicked my ass! This time of the year is always a nightmare at work because we have a huge annual project on top of the normal daily grind so I've been working insane hours.

I just need to finish tying up some lose ends at the office tomorrow. Then I can get some rest and recharge a bit.

This weekend I will write — share some things that have been rattling around in my mind lately.

Monday, September 17, 2007

in awe

The sheer enormity of it all leaves me breathless.

"It was like he'd had the breath knocked out of him."

They say that God never gives you more than you can bear and that there is a reason for all things even if you don't understand it at the time.

It is almost overwhelming when it all unfolds before you, when you catch a sudden glimpse of the intricacies of this life, when you recognize the parallel paths our lives have taken.

It leaves me in awe and utterly speechless. Although I know that soon, once I've allowed it to sink in a bit more, this is definitely a story I need to share.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

too tired for words

It's been a long time since I've cried this much.

And I don't think I've ever cried this much in public. I tried desperately to maintain my composure, but I couldn't control the steady flow of tears.

This entire week has seemed so surreal — the fire and then, Monday night, the unexpected death of a friend.

There is so much I want to attempt to put into words, but I've spent the last four days putting out a 14-page paper and a 24-page tab, preparing for a mass distribution next week, going to funeral homes and funerals, and crying.

My eyes are so tired they hurt. Maybe after a good night's sleep my eyes, and my soul, will be able to bear putting it all into words.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

random thought

All mourning is not so much a longing for what once was, but a sad, wistful sort of longing for what once could have been.

Monday, September 10, 2007

when the job gets tough

It just hurts my heart.

A friend of mine called this morning and left a message asking that I call her as soon as possible. She said it was an emergency. Her husband just died two weeks ago. She found him in his truck on one of the family farm roads leading home. He'd had a heart attack.

She was devastated. They are a very close-knit family. Their son, 21, still lives at home and their daughter lives just down the road. Their daughter's ex-husband even still lived on the family farm. In spite of the divorce, the two remained close friends, forever bound to one another by a 15-year-old son and a 12-year-old daughter.

My heart hung in my throat as I listened to her message this morning. Two weeks ago, she had not referred to her husband's sudden death as "an emergency". Something was horribly wrong.

She was awakened, at 3 a.m. this morning, by the frantic screams of her granddaughter and two other little girls who were banging on her door.

The three young girls were in a panic, screaming hysterically and breathless from their long run through the woods in the middle of the night.

There was a fire.

The cedar house that my friend's son-in-law had built back in the woods had become completely engulfed in flames. Her granddaughter had escaped the fire along with a friend and the daughter of her son-in-law's girlfriend. The girls were physically unharmed except for the scratches and bruises their feet and ankles suffered as they ran barefoot through the woods to safety.

However, her grandson, her son-in-law and her son-in-law's girlfriend all died in the fire. Their bodies were burnt beyond recognition.

There are many heavy hearts in this small farming community tonight. There is a woman who has lost a grandson so suddenly after the death of her husband. There is a little girl who recently lost her granddaddy and has now lost her daddy and her brother to a fire that so nearly claimed her as well. And there is a woman, who so soon after losing her own daddy, tries to comfort her little girl while mourning the death of her son.

To hell with the paper plates and plastic cups. This time I showed up with vodka, chocolate chip cookies, super soft Kleenex and a big huggable terry cloth pillow. My heart broke for them and I begged God to offer them the comfort I could not. I spent most of the day with them before coming home, giving The Boy an extra squeeze before I sent him off to bed.

Kate asked me recently if this sort of thing, this empathy that I have for others, built me up or dragged me down. I'm not really sure how to answer that. All I know is that it hurts my heart.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

the sewing machine

Ok...I have a list, kinda.

I am, after all, a great believer in the power of lists. Everything seems a bit easier when you have a list to work from. Lists, or rather the "checking off" of each bullet, can also instill a great sense of accomplishment.

It's a shame that, often, the very task of committing a list to paper is so daunting.

At the moment I have a pretty decent list (in my head anyway) of the various pieces of clutter around here that MUST go with me when I head north...

My sewing machine and sewing basket is on the top of that list. Funny thing is, as much as I've always wanted to make quilts, Christmas stockings, curtains and such, I've never really done a lot of sewing even though I've owned a sewing machine for almost five years.

I used to watch my granny sew on a machine, but I never really learned how to operate one. I also have very fond memories of cold winter mornings spent in front of a woodstove with an elderly neighbor as she quilted, sharing her stories with me as I waited for the school bus.

But it was the ratty old blanket of an ex-boyfriend that really taught me the basics. His great grandmother had made it for him when he was just a child, but after years of wear and wash, her hand-stitching had become badly deteriorated. A heavy panel, backed in soft brown cotton and topped with a patchwork hodgepodge of cotton fabric, it was the most comfortable blanket I've ever slept under. No matter what the season, that blanket was always enough to keep you warm and never too much to make you hot. It could cure insomnia, ease a broken heart and sometimes I even thought it did amazing battle against cold and the flu.

But that damn blanket was falling apart! I would wake in the night, startled by my foot becoming trapped, having become hopelessly entangled in the torn and ripped fabric of the quilted top (which was actually the side you wanted touching you as it always seemed cooling, soothing against your skin). Sometimes, as you struggled to make the blanket envelope two people, you heard the sickening rip as more stitches gave way, or the fibers of the fabric holding them begrudgingly let them go, too weakened with age to put up much of a fight. We pulled scraps of fabric from the washing machine the one time I insisted on washing it.

Someone had to save the blanket. So I dug around in the closet and found the small plastic box filled with the needle and thread of my junior high cross-stitch days. (See, being a pack rat DOES come in handy!) My fingers soon remembered the soothing, repetitive poke, slide, poke, pull motion and I began flying through small, evenly spaced stitches. They were even almost, kind of, in a straight line.

The more I stitched the more the old stitches ripped in the night. I couldn't keep up with the unraveling.

So I went to Sears and bought myself a cheap Singer sewing machine, referring to it as a Mother's Day gift to myself. I brought it home, pretty proud of the fact that I actually owned a sewing machine...I just needed to figure out how to use the damn thing! After referring to the diagram in the manual countless times, quite a bit of cussing and trying to hold my mouth just right, and two phone calls to my grandmother, I finally rejoiced in a properly threaded needle and my first successful practice run using two pieces of scrap material!

I can do this, bring me that blanket!

I thought he was going to cry when he saw me take the scissors to a small section of the brightly colored patchwork.

I spent hours on end at the kitchen table using that sewing machine to piece that jigsaw puzzle back together, adding new scraps of soft cotton fabric when necessary. I took that patchwork top apart section by section, salvaging as much of the original material as I could. (Incidentally, since she too was a pack rat, my ex's mom was able to provide the "new" material from her basement.)

Within a month, the old blanket was in one piece and even survived the washing machine. I felt such pride in my handiwork, but bemoaned the tiny spot where I misjudged a measurement, resulting in a little "knot" of fabric at one seam.

I haven't used the sewing machine since then. We broke up a few months later, having waited three years longer than we should have to do it, but the next time I got sick, he brought the blanket for me to use.

Damn I miss that blanket!

(Ok, I admit it, I did squirrel away a few small scraps of the material not strong enough to handle another twenty years of regular use, but hey, I figured somebody might need it one day!)

Sunday, September 2, 2007

slight snag

It has suddenly occurred to me (as I was sorting through the contents of a closet) that I have accumulated quite a bit of stuff over the years. I am, after all, a pack rat by breeding.

When I was growing up, the contents of my great grandmother's basement rivaled the selection of any thrift store. If you ever needed anything, it was always a good idea to check the basement first. I have several pieces of furniture that came from that basement, but it was also a good source for board games, glass jars, lamps, aluminum pie pans and the occasional forgotten treasure.

"Oh mother, why do you insist on keeping this junk," my grandmother would ask as my great grandmother, who hit adulthood right around the Depression, squirreled away safety pins, baggie ties, plastic cups, scraps of fabric, gift bows, wrapping paper, etc. etc.

"You might need it one day and then you'll be glad I'm keeping all this junk," the old woman would say with a huff.

Sure enough, the day would come, when we had to ask if there was a big sheet of plastic, a toilet paper holder or an extra broom down in the basement. There usually was.

As I begin to go through my closets, in an effort to consolidate as much as possible, I argue with myself.."I don't really use this....but I might need it some day."

I may need to rent a small storage building so that I can appease the pack rat in me while achieving my goal of moving as little as necessary.

on the road again

I've been climbing the walls of my life recently.

This is hardly a new phenomen. Seems I have spent most of my life in longing and a good deal of it in mourning.

As I child I hid in my bedroom, immersing myself in the stories, poetry and music of others and escaping through my own when the urge became unbearable.

As an adult, I have longed for the same...to hide in a little house in the middle of the woods, to immerse myself in the stories, poetry and music of others and to allow myself that escape through my own.

This next move will allow me just that...filling me with that same thrilling rush I've felt so many times before, when I simply walk away, towards a better life.

I was fifteen when I walked away from school one day and walked away from my life. A few months later, after spending only one more night in that trailer, I got into a car with a trash bag full of clothes, a backpack full of books and notebooks and my pillow. I was driven six hours south to another state and dropped off. I started school and got a job.

A year and a half later I got on a plane with a suitcase full of clothes and a backpack full of books and notebooks to fly back to my home state, settling in a town 45 minutes from "home". I started school and got a job.

Just after graduation the following year, I packed up my car with a suitcase and a wicker trunk full of clothes, a backpack full of notebooks and a box of books and went to a nearby town to start my family.

Six years later, my family shattered by death, I went back "home", just a few minutes from that old trailer.

In a few months, fifteen years after I first walked away from my life here, I will be getting into another car with my clothes, my books and my notebooks and I will go six hours to another state. Only this time I will go north and this time I will be driving.

I will hide in a little house in the woods, where I will immerse myself in the stories, poetry and music of others and I will allow myself to escape through my own.

Maybe then the longing and mourning will cease.

Friday, August 31, 2007

not so cuckoo for mac & cheese

There is a dusty old cuckoo clock hanging on the wall over in the old trailer.

It's been silent for more than a decade.

But during my youth, that was an annoying damn clock!

cuck-oooo —— cuck-oooo ——
cuck-oooo —— cuck-oooo

The cuckoo clock lived on the wall just down the narrow hall from my bedroom. At least it was facing the living room, in the opposite direction of where I was trying to sleep.

Not even the loud rock-n-roll or the drug and liquor induced shit-talking and laughter of weekend card games could drown out the racket of that infernal bird.

cuck-oooo —— cuck-oooo —— cuck-oooo —— cuck-oooo

It would startle me, as I stood, in judgment, in confrontation, in fear, at the end of the hall.

To my left was the kitchen window, the single plant in the house hanging in front of the nicotine clouded glass. It's leaves were covered in the sticky, dusty film that seemed to cover everything else in the house, yet that plant lived in the kitchen window for years.

To my right was the little metal kitchen table. It looked like it belonged in a 50's diner with its yellow top and grooved silver sides. It was a cool table. But above it, hanging directly to my right, was that blasted cuckoo clock.

It would startle me, as I stood there, my mother staring me down from the living room, neither of us speaking because one of us had asked an unanswerable question.

cuck-oooo —— cuck-oooo —— cuck-oooo —— cuck-oooo

That stupid ass bird probably saved me once or twice. Sometimes my daddy would get sidetracked on some rant about "that God-damned noisy fucking loudmouth clock."

It was momma's clock. He had given it to her for Christmas or their anniversary or some such gift-giving occasion.

cuck-oooo —— cuck-oooo —— cuck-oooo —— cuck-oooo

My seat at the dinner table faced that stupid bird in a box. I'm not really sure why I had a seat at the table, it's not like anyone else usually sat at the table for dinner. I sat watching that clock, eating quickly so I could go back to my room, back to my stories.

I could hear the scrape of forks on their plates and the mindless chatter of the television in the living room behind me. Sometimes all I could hear was that bird.

cuck-oooo —— cuck-oooo —— cuck-oooo —— cuck-oooo

My parents loved cheese. They believed that there were very few foods on the earth that couldn't be vastly improved with cheese. They ate cheese on everything. A meal was simply not fit to eat without cheese. And since they were poor and cheese is not cheap, meals often included cheap, "powder and noodles in a box", macaroni and cheese.

It made me gag. The strong smell of the imitation cheese and the noodles that reminded me of those soft plastic grapes I'd chew on at my grandmother's house — all mixed with this gooey, not quite creamy, substance that completely permeated the inside of your mouth. It was disgusting. I absolutely hated it. I would gag, tears welling up in my eyes as I struggled to swallow it down.

Despite the fact that
cheap "powder and noodles in a box" macaroni and cheese has little or no nutritional value, my parents insisted that I eat a substantial portion of it each time it was served, which, as I have said, was often, as my parents were incredibly fond of the nasty shit.

cuck-oooo —— cuck-oooo —— cuck-oooo —— cuck-oooo

That damn bird mocked me for hours on the nights we had macaroni and cheese. Because no, I was not allowed to leave the table until I was done eating my healthy portion of that vile concoction. No, I could not have extra green beans instead. I could have both, but I was going to eat that macaroni and cheese because that was a part of the meal that was fixed and I was going to fucking eat it no matter how much I cried and whined about it. Now shut up and eat.

cuck-oooo —— cuck-oooo ——
cuck-oooo —— cuck-oooo

One day I decided I wasn't going to eat anymore of that damn macaroni and cheese and figured there wasn't a lot they could do to make me. I started throwing it away. Finally,having grown tired of wasting perfectly delicious "powder and noodles in a box" macaroni and cheese, my parents simply stopped putting it on my plate.

And I started eating my dinner in my bedroom.

The cuckoo bird didn't take my rebellion well. It became erratic, throwing out a random, tired cuck——oooo ———
cuck——oooo every now and then as though it were tired of trying to tell us something we refused to hear. It finally fell silent.

I will always believe my daddy killed that cuckoo clock, even though sometimes late at night I still hear the damn thing.

But I absolutely refuse to eat macaroni and cheese.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

is it over yet?

This has been one of those painfully long weeks. And of course, as it usually is when time seems to be at a standstill, I don't feel as though I've accomplished a damn thing.

I float through so many of my days on autopilot. I offer something close to appropriate responses when I must interact and even manage to muster a cheerful disposition most days, but as I go through each of the motions, my mind wanders to another place, another time.

Or perhaps it is my heart that roams those long corridors of my memory. Heart, mind, soul — I can scarcely tell the difference between them these days and wonder if I ever could.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

all grown up

Ok, The Boy has made it through the first two days of middle school! He did not get lost, he did not have trouble opening his locker and no one shoved his head in a toilet. In fact, it appears as if The Boy is going to really enjoy middle school.

Maybe I can relax now.

He just looks so grown up standing in front of the school in the afternoons, waiting for me to pick him up. I guess he is.

Monday, August 27, 2007

every momma's fear

The Boy starts school tomorrow — middle school — and I can't sleep tonight.

Sixth grade. I met his daddy in the eighth grade. He'll have a locker, and time before and after classes to hang out with people. I remember myself at that age.

Things could go really well, or it could all go horribly wrong.

I can't help it, I worry about The Boy. This is when he will have to start making a lot more of his own decisions. He knows right from wrong and, most of the time, really wants to do what's right (provided it doesn't require a great deal of exertion on his part.)

There will be plenty of girls who think he's cute, and plenty of guys who want to beat his ass.

He knows I love him — that I will defend him if his actions warrant it and stand beside him even if they don't.

I hope he knows I believe in him but that he can come to me if he's unsure.

I hope he cannot see how nervous I am for him — how fearful I am that I have somehow failed him.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

just doing my job

Today was one of those days where it was clear to me that it was time for me to get out of the newspaper.

Funny thing is, I wasn't even working today.

No, instead, my day was much like how I wish workdays were. A young man who is going through a rough breakup with his long-term girlfriend awakened me at 10 a.m.. He needed to talk, needed confirmation that he was reacting appropriately and most of all, needed to hear someone tell him that everything was going to be okay.

I get a lot of calls like that. They always say "thank you," but I keep telling people I'm just doing my job.

A bit later, I enjoyed some complete "zone out" time watching a "psychological thriller", did a load of laundry and took a nap.

Another friend called later in the afternoon as I was starting a second load of laundry. She'd found her husband dead of a heart attack along a farm road and had just returned home from the hospital. I quickly bathed, threw on some clothes and headed to her house, stopping on the way for paper plates, cups, napkins, plastic utensils, toilet paper and Kleenex. (I don't know if it's like this everywhere, or just the South, but when folks die, people start cooking and bringing all kinds of food to the home of the bereaved and I'm a firm believer that nobody should have to watch dishes in the midst of everything else going on. As for the toilet paper, I just have a thing about running out of toilet paper and when you've got that many people parading through your house, using your restroom and crying, you need a good supply of toilet paper!)

So anyway, I ended up staying over there until late tonight, just making sure everything and everybody was tended to.

I finally made it home and back to my couch about midnight, but I didn't have long to wait before my phone rang. This time it was an ex-boyfriend having some serious relationship issues with his current girlfriend. He needed to talk, needed confirmation that he was reacting appropriately and most of all, needed to hear someone tell him that everything was going to be okay.

Just before he went to bed, my husband commented that it was real nice of me to go over there like that.

Just doing my job dear, just doing my job. Now if I could just find someone willing to teach me to do it well and pay me to do it, I'd be set!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

how long is forever?

A very long time ago, or at least it was a long time ago in relation to the number of years I have been on this earth, I promised someone that I would love them forever.

He responded, in an almost sardonic manner, that forever is a long time.

Yes it is and yet somehow, forever doesn't always seem to last quite long enough. We are warned that nothing lasts forever and yet no one ever warned us that some things do.

My love for others for example, apparently does indeed last forever.

The problem with a love lasting forever, is that we don't and our circumstances don't, leaving us forever longing for that which didn't last long enough.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

the mac & cheese saga that wasn't

I recently posted 8 Random Facts About Me, to which Maria commented there seemed to be a story behind the fact that I have a strong aversion to mac & cheese.

Yes, there's a story behind it, although I'm not certain you could say it was a very interesting story.

By the way, if you haven't yet met one of my favorite bloggers, Maria, allow me to introduce you to her through her blog, Just Eat Your Cupcake. With a sharp wit and a touch of whimsy, Maria shares insightful posts that leave us feeling as though we have been hugged by a friend. Her blog is a great escape when you need to add a little sunshine to your day.

For that matter, check out all the folks I like to read. There's a handy list to your left, unceremoniously entitled Shit I Find Interesting. I really need to change that title.

I'm sorry, I know I was supposed to be sharing the mac & cheese story, but I just realized I'm really tired and have to put together a newspaper tomorrow so I think I'm going to go to bed instead. Hopefully I won't dream of heaping helpings of mac & cheese. Maybe I'll share the mac & cheese story tomorrow, but not until after I catch up on all my favorite blogs...

Friday, August 17, 2007

sometimes i really wonder about my momma

She came to me this evening (again), feeling really small and discouraged because she hasn't found a job yet. As usual, I did everything I could to try to make her feel better about the situation, including helping her apply online for a couple more positions and offering her a drink, which quickly turned into three or four.

Obviously I am not going to get Momma drunk without having a few shots myself.

It was a good visit, one of those where I felt a connection with my Momma and actually believed she might be hearing what I had to say. Of course, it is the "good" visits with Momma that leave me feeling so drained!

There are a few topics considered extremely dangerous for the two of us to discuss, not the least of which being my sophomore year in high school. That was the year I left home. It was also the year I lost my virginity to a child molester.

Tonight we ended up on that topic.

I commented on an alert I had received about a sex offender moving into the area. It was a sex offender I knew, because his sister was a very good friend of mine. He had raped her repeatedly, violently, for years. Their mother knew, and did nothing. They were utterly worthless human beings. Not the girl, nope, she had some golden in her. She just needed somebody to love her.

Momma told me that she was completely ashamed and humiliated to be at all involved with those people during the search for us and that she was mad as hell I had put her in the situation to where she was in any way involved with them. I apologized, again, for fucking everything up for everyone.

"Well you know Momma, when I left for school that day I had every intention of coming back, did you know that? Did you know her mom had taken her to the jail and made her apologize to that son of a bitch for ruining his life. We skipped school and then she got freaked out and refused to go home. I wasn't going to leave her there by herself. Yea, I was planning on leaving anyway, but not until my birthday and I was going to tell you first. I sorry you had to be around those people.

I spent a week in those woods. It was one of the coldest, snowiest winters on record around here. Momma said she remembered her neighbor bringing her some vegetable soup because she didn't know where her kid was and it was about to snow.

*Laugh* "Damn, I would've loved some of that soup! I was busy trying to warm up crackers and cheese over a candle and burning my biology notes to stay warm."

Three weeks before my 16th birthday I left my house to go to school. I have spent one night in that house since then. It was a year and a half before Momma spoke to me and then it was only because she had to.

"You know Momma, he never knew where I was either. My leaving had nothing to do with him."

She reminded me that I had seemed as though I didn't believe it or just didn't care, a week or so before I left, when she and daddy told me what my boyfriend had done to a little girl.

I wonder if she heard me tonight when I told her that no, I knew as soon as they told me that it was true. It had explained so much of what I had believed to be so wrong. I wonder if she heard me say that I remembered her laughing, mocking, asking me how stupid I could be. I wonder if she realizes how small that made me feel.

I wonder if she questions how her 15-year-old daughter could mistake being fucked by a 19-year-old, who didn't understand the word "No" and had in fact had molested a 6-year-old little girl, for love and somehow even be grateful for that "love".

I wonder if she'll ever be the one to apologize. And I wonder how much it would really matter if she did.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

yes, i'm a complete bum...

I'm sitting in my office, my elbows propped on a stack of what we will call "shit I really should have done yesterday", surfing the net and daydreaming.

We're heading for the beach tomorrow, but my mind is already there. In all honesty, my mind probably spends 90% of its time there, or at least somewhere other than where it's presence is required at any given time.

We're actually going to spend two nights down there this time as opposed to our usual one night quickie that leaves us exhausted, so it feels a lot like an honest to goodness vacation! We're even taking tomorrow off work!

Since it was about 5,000 miles overdue for an oil change, I did not think my truck would really appreciate being forced to drive four hours and back so I did the smart thing and had the oil changed, fluids topped off, tires checked, yada yada. Now I just need to tidy up the checkbook (after all, it would help to make sure we had money to pay for the trip before we set out), call about the room and pack. Of course packing for the beach, even a 3 day, 2 night trip takes all of five minutes. My beach bag stays in the car, ready to go at all times, so I've just got to throw a couple changes of clothes and a toothbrush into a backpack and we're set!

*Sigh* And I guess I really should attend to this stack of "shit I really should have done yesterday", but first I think I'll take a quick smoke break! ;-)

tag!

So I'm killing some time at work the other day, checking out some of my favorite blogs when I spot this list...8 Random Facts About Me...perfect! Everyone loves a good list. Maybe the attraction is that lists are one of the tools we use to try to bring some semblance of order to our lives...list of classes taken, list of jobs, wine list, list of ice cream flavors, a list of pros and cons, list your favorites.

I got to the end of the list and discovered its author, that Foul Bastard David, had politely requested I share 8 Random Facts About Me!

Hmm, this could be dangerous, or at least incredibly boring for others to endure, but here we go...

8 Random Facts About Me

1) I can't stand to have my feet touched! Please don't rub, caress, kiss or tickle the toes or feet. In fact, don't even look at them! To help prevent you from looking at them, or being tempted to breathe near them, I will keep them covered in socks most of the time. I will sleep in socks. I will even carry socks in my purse if I happen to be wearing sandals to the doctor's office. Oh and I should point out, it's not just my feet, I pretty much don't like feet in general so please don't shove them in my face, ask me to touch them or expect me to stick my hand inside your dirty sock to unroll it. *shudder*

2) I once got swimmer's ear from spending an entire summer sitting in my bathtub, reading. (Incidentally it seems I also passed the time that summer "ooh-ooh-oohing" along to Fine Young Cannibals' "She Drives Me Crazy". The lack of A/C sucked, but the accoustics in that bathroom were incredible!)

3) I have a complete lack of motivation...regarding pretty much everything. It's not that I don't have plenty of things I WANT to do, or would like to do, or NEED to do. I just have an extremely hard time making myself get off my ass to do any of them, even the things I WANT to do. Then I feel like crap for never really accomplishing anything.

4) I hate macaroni and cheese! I don't mean I prefer not to eat it, or it's not among my favorites. No, I HATE mac and cheese! It is one of the vilest dishes that ever came out of a box. (Ha, no, not even the homemade kind!) The mere smell of it makes my stomach recoil. Bleh! Even the thought of it makes my lip curl in disgust!

5) The only language I understand is English and I'll never claim to have a firm grasp of even that one. I have a vague, kinda sorta working knowledge of Spanish and Latin but modern computer code is gibberish and numbers aren't much better.

6) I have a tattoo that no one ever sees. (No, not there, or there....get your mind out of the gutter!) I have the word Eternity above a thin, black line that encircles the ring finger of my left hand. I've had it for about seven years now, but most people don't realize it's there because my wedding rings cover it. Every now and then the rings will shift and someone will catch a glimpse of the ink and ask me about it. It's actually a pretty crappy tattoo. I had such a hard time finding someone willing to do a tattoo on the hand, much less all the way around a finger, so I didn't really get to be picky about who did the damn thing. Doesn't much matter, it serves it's purpose.

7) I once walked back into Wally World and waited in line at the customer service desk to explain that I owed them money because a cashier had accidentally not charged me for a $40 item even though I had left the store with the item in my bag.

8) I can't sing (doesn't stop me when I'm alone), can't dance (doesn't stop me when I'm intoxicated), can't whistle or play an instrument and do not consider myself to be particularly entertaining. I have, however, been known to make my best friend shoot ham biscuit out of her nose. Ha! ;-) Now THAT's talent!

Alrighty then, there you have it, 8 Random Facts About Me! Woozles! But wait, apparently there are some sort of rules that go along with this list...I'm supposed to now politely request that 8 other people share random facts about themselves on their blogs. However, I'm not really sure why that has to be a rule, and while I was tickled someone would care to know 8 Random Facts About Me, I'd hate to make anyone else feel obligated to share, but I'm sure to enjoy reading any that should pop up on blogs I frequent. ;-)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

hmmm...

I'm not sure whether I am more hurt or grateful that my husband had very little to say about my blog after telling me a couple days ago he had "found" it.

I never really "hid" it. In fact, its existence has been common knowledge, it's even bookmarked in the browser, I just didn't bother extending an invitation. He said he was glad I had a place to "write things out". When I probed deeper about what he thought, he simply added it "wasn't a bad thing."

Now on one hand, I'm hurt that he's had nothing more to say about it. Yet on the other, I am almost grateful for his silence, as this blog has reminded me how much I love pouring out my heart under the cover of darkness.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

do you ever see red?

My vision tends to get a bit blurry when I'm angry.

I try not to get very angry very often. Unfortunately I have a very short fuse and it has been a very long week.

Over the years, there have been many days I thought my office to be positioned directly over Hell, but throw in the record high temps, which really suck in the humid south), add a huge glass window in an old, non-insulated building with crappy ductwork and I quickly become quite certain that I am not only NEAR, but very much IN Hell.

Oh, and did I mention that I work for a REALLY shitty company?

I would like to think they don't TRY to be that shitty, but I no longer have any faith in that.

I try to assume the best of people, until I am proven wrong, but I am proven wrong so often.

I have a friend who looks at it a bit differently. She avoids being so disappointed in the failings of others by believing, not that everyone has an inner goodness, but that deep down people suck, so she is always pleasantly surprised when they don’t.

I’ve tried the cynical route and it really doesn’t work well for me.

So for now I'm going to go stew for a bit and sleep. Perhaps when I wake I will be calm and have a clearer understanding of how people find it so hard to do the right thing, even when the right thing seems so easy.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

i'd much rather be writing....

It can be so frustrating to have so many things you want or need to do.

Right now, at this very moment, I have all these things running through my mind that I'd love to type out. I'd also like to re-read Sebastian Moore's book The Inner Loneliness to try to discern anything I missed the last time. I would like to be cleaning my house. Yes that actually falls under "like" versus "need". I just don't like doing it when I feel I have to or when I have too much other stuff to do. I'd also like to be stocking up for winter and raising a few chickens.

Instead, I have to go get some much-needed sleep because I have to go to work tomorrow and put together a paper that attempts to be honest with a bunch of people that don't really want the truth.

Oh well, thank goodness for all the little things that make the waiting so much easier!

hereditary sin

I hear a lot more planes than I used to. I'm not sure if there's really more of them or if I'm just hearing them more.

On the morning of August 6, 1945 the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan and suddenly all the rules changed.

The President said the atomic bomb heralded the "harnessing of the basic power of the universe".

The "harnessing of the basic power of the universe"!

I can't believe this is a thing we were meant to do. It is not our place to harness the basic power of the universe. I have a very dear friend who would argue that point, saying that God gave us the ability to do so because He wanted us to do so. When that fails to sway me he tries an alternate approach and says we were made in His image, that we should seek to be like Him, seek to be Godly.

Now I didn't go to church with any sort of regularity, so I am certainly no expert, but I was under the impression we were suppose to be more like Christ, not God. We were to be obedient, loving, servants of God. We were to bring others to him. I don't remember anybody ever advising I needed to be God-like.

Anyway, that is not the particular circular discussion I meant to rehash here. I usually end it by reminding my friend that he is an agnostic, so that without a firm belief in God, he can't very well even begin to offer to prove that God wants us meddling in the "harnessing of the basic power of the universe".

No, I had originally been thinking about the concepts of original sin and hereditary sin. Kierkegaard, Sebastian Moore and all the rest of them have wasted many a weighty word trying to explain rationalize such a simple concept.

Original sin? Hereditary sin? Do we really suffer for the sins of our fathers?

Certainly we do. Haven't you looked around lately? Some would say that is our cross to bear.

Friday, August 3, 2007

simplicity



I glance around as I move through the rooms of this big house. There is really very little that I feel I should take with me. Most can be sold, or given away or stashed in my great grandmother's basement if nothing else.

I believe I will take the bookshelf — the one my great grandfather made, the cat tea serving set of my great grandmother's, most of the books, and the music — you know the real comfort items.

I will definitely take the heavy coffee table of my grandfather's. I always hit my head on its top when I'd visit and lay beneath it. That table has spent the last twelve years in my home, with my hauling it from house to house. I still bang into it all the time, only now it's my shins instead of my head.

There's a box of pictures, a box of notebooks and the trunk.

When I met him, my husband (the first one) lived very simply. He had a guitar and an old Army trunk of "stuff" — clothes, books, candles, shoes, music, and candy, whatever.

When he died, I fit what I could of his into the trunk, whatever felt most like his "stuff" — you know, clothes, books, candles, music, and candy, whatever.

I had already packed for the boy, and myself but left most of it behind in soggy, wet piles. I had no interest in picking through what remained of the life we shared.

We leave with no more than what we bring when we come.

I loaded up the car, locked the trailer door and left. I called a group of his friends and asked them to go take what they wanted of the rest. No I didn't care what they did with it. I just never wanted to step back into that house again. As far as I was concerned, the whole thing could burn, and I'd just as soon it did.

I rode through the trailer park once or twice after that. My mind's eye always saw the flashing lights as my car rounded the curved incline. A couple years later I rode through again, horrified to see that flames had caused the metal sides to melt and drip from the frame, exposing the bedroom to the world. There was nothing left of the rest but a shell.

For the first time since the day I left, I parked in the driveway and headed toward the door, which stood wide open, revealing the charred interior of the living room. The narrow porch and tiny front lot was littered with stuff that had been thrown out by firefighters. It looked as though someone's family had left with much less than what they had when they came.

The neighbor's kid said it had burned a few months before — that the furnace had exploded.

"Naw, won't nobody there to get hurt," he responded to my curiosity. "But a man did die there once....a couple years ago....mama said he was real young...had a wife and baby too...don't nobody know what happened to them...."

"Yeah, I know, I know, you stay out of trouble," I rattled overtop of his childlike, second-hand version of the story. I quickly got to my car and backed out of the driveway, leaving that place one final time. I made my way back down and around the hill, back to the left, over the bridge and took a right on the main road. I finally stopped when I reached the end of it, lit a cigarette and turned on the radio. Jim Morrison's voice came alive in the speakers, "C'mon baby light my fire..."

I took a drag, turned the radio up and continued on my way, laughing hysterically at the sheer simplicity of it all.