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.