disclaimer or something

A mummy-hand holding, (former) biker gang affiliating, hippie influenced semi crunchy granola mom's ramblings and reminisings on an off-kilter life

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

It Will Be Alright

I keep telling myself, it will be alright. I keep caressing my son and telling him, it will be alright.

My son has a shy streak, the same streak that made me, as an infant, scream bloody murder if a stranger approached me. The same shy streak (and then some) that makes my dad a shut-in, refusing to leave the house for days, afraid of human contact. The same streak that started with my son playing coy, hiding behind his hands at about eight months old.

I thought it was a stage. I read books and blogs and found out that some children go through a shy streak at that age. I assured myself everything would be fine. it is just a stage. But then he began to shy away from anyone but myself or my husband. He would scream bloody murder if his grandma, someone he was once very close to, tried to hold him. Friends would reach out to hold my child and he would do a death grip onto my chest, bury into my boobs, and wail. It's just a stage, I told myself.

He is nearly two now. I got so used to his shyness that I didn't really notice it. I'd tell myself that he doesn't freak out when strangers approach him, like I did, just when they try and hold him. I'd push the thoughts of, "but wait, he is shy and scared around relatives and familiar friends" away, and just think, my little boy is perfect in every way. 

This last week, his shy streak became blatantly apparent. I can no longer ignore it. He went to daycare for his first time (sure he has been with grandma for a few hours here, gym day care an hour or two there...) and he failed, An epic failure. 

He got dropped off before sunrise, and cried and screamed past sunrise. Past snack. Past lunch. Through nap-time until my husband got a frantic call, "umm, please please pick him up. Now." from the daycare provider. That was day one. I figured, sure, separation anxiety, a new place, it is expected. 

Day two, hubby drops him off later and I get him in the afternoon. I can hear him screaming from across the street. I go in and he is a mess of tears and snot, blotchy red, and miserable. He didn't eat. Or drink. Or poop. Or pee. The daycare provider says, "yeah umm, he ran into walls. And the gate. And tried to escape out the door. He ran into everything. Repeatedly. He is going to be bruised all over." Now most moms would see this as a red-alert, that he is being abused or something, but I already am working with him on anger management. Instead of tantrums, he bumps his head into the wall. He's done this for a few months. But bumps all over? This proves he is quite unhappy at day care. But I've nowhere else for him to go, so daycare it is.
My sweet little guy, no matter what

Day 3, 4, and 5 all kind of blend in to one another. When being dropped off, he shook violently and looked distant. Afraid.  He again didn't eat, drink, pee, or poop. Just screamed. And cried. And bit his arms and his cheek until it gushed blood and he got sent home. By day five, he heard me walk in the door and just sobbed for ten minutes straight. I caressed him and whispered, "it will be alright honey. Mommy loves you. Mommy's here." till his sobs subsided and a smile began to appear.

I can't ignore it any longer. He just might have some kind of social anxiety problem. Like his grandpa. Like his mommy, You can't really diagnose, treat, or counsel kiddos this little so you just make do, and make adjustments. We are trying a co-worker's home later this week. Just my son, a baby, and my co-worker. A smaller, quieter environment  I feel bad, knowing what hell he might give her. I know I will be judged as the mother of that crazy baby no one can deal with. I know it could interfere with my career, meaning I'd have to quit my job that I just got after 17 months of unemployment, to stay at home again to raise him.

I pray that I'm over-reacting and he will be okay in a smaller environment. Yesterday, I called my best friend of life to give her my sob story, and to soothe my fears. She has worked in day-cares and social services and has a child with an anxiety disorder. While supportive, she said things I didn't like. Special needs daycare. How he never socialized with her or her son when we visited. How his language is a bit delayed. How he seems extra clingy.  How I'd get through it, but I'd better start now. Early intervention is key. Words like autism, developmental delay, panic attacks circled in my head.

I closed my eyes and thought. whatever it takes. It will take more day-cares and babysitters, days of no eating and head-banging. Coaxing and caressing, and lots of patience on both our parts. You can't explain anxiety to a 22-month old, you can only give support and understanding. You can only do, through trial and error, and lots of patience and time, what is right. I can come to accept that shyness is okay, anxiety isn't the end of the world, and that my boy is still perfect. Perfect for me. God gave me a boy that I can understand and support, even with a few bumps in the road or on the head. Whatever I do, it will be what is best for him. I wouldn't have it any other way but I went to bed full of worries.

Today, I toured a daycare facility. My stomach was in knots and I dreaded the visit all morning. We pulled up and I immediately tried to find thing I didn't like, or that my son would hate. I was greeted by a quiet, sweet woman holding a baby who whispered, "c'mon in." It was quiet, low natural lighting, and two one-year olds were playing with toys. The day care gal introduced me to a little girl and said, "she is very shy and cries around strangers or loud noises and is very clingy. She is over-sensitive." I felt like a weight had been liften from my shoulders by golden angels. This little girl acted like a mirror image of my son, She happily toddled around and began sharing toyd with my son, who would not leave my lap. He cried, but did not shake violently, and quietly bserved his surroundings. Right before we were about to leave, he left my lap and walke two steps to accept a toy from the little girl. He smiled. I smiled. The day care gal snuggled a little boy and offered my son a second toy. No crying. No shaking. No head-banging.

I found a place today that means the world to my son and myself. A place that works one-on-one with highly sensitive children, and doesn't just leave them to cry and harm themselves. A place like home away from home.

So anyone struggling with the placement of their child, or with a child with special needs, know where are angels among us.


My mother, the stranger

My mom on the right, at about age 30

One might think I was scared to go to Hawaii in the spring of '45, with the war still raging in the Pacific. One might think I was crazy to leave to a foreign island at age 20, pregnant, alone. But who cared? My brother was in Europe and had survived the war and was already liberating some Jewish prisoners or something, helping rebuild Europe and the like. And I was the unwanted child, adopted and with a feeling I was the second-favorite child. Time to lead my own life as a grown woman! I was going to see my fiancé (he was in the Coast Guard) and have my sweet baby in Hawaii like a proper lady should do. I certainly was not going to do it at home, with my parents, and get judged the whole time.

Hawaii was under martial law, swarming with US military personnel , shipping out soldiers towards Japan and bringing their bodies back, dead or alive. But I didn't think of it that way; instead, that I was to start my life in Hawaii, if only I could get there. Unless you were a military person or family member, Hawaii was off limits.. It looked like I might have my baby in my childhood bedroom after all. No thank you.
One evening, my cousin who was a Lieutenant in the Air Force, came to dinner. I whispered to him, "Can you get me to Hawaii?" And by gosh, he did. Hawaii needed a troop transport plane, and I was the sole passenger surrounded by jumper seats. I even got to steer the plane for a moment, as it soared over the blue expanse of the Pacific. I thought that was quite swell, and I didn't even get queasy, which was a surprise for my pregnancy.
My husband and stayed at some simple hotel next to the stately Royal Hawaiian, both used for military housing. Nearby was a restaurant catering to the more elite men and their wives of the military, the expats, the few wealthy Hawaiian natives, and they were hiring a cocktail waitress. I had never worked before, yet I was bored sitting in a hotel all day while my fiancé did whatever military men do all day. I decided to apply and got offered the job on the spot! While I was too young to drink, and pregnant to boot, I enjoyed the fun atmosphere of the bar, with people winding down and letting loose after all Hawaii had been through, Pearl Harbor and the like. The military men came in crisp and fresh and left giggling, the elite women with their bouffant hair and pearls sipped drinks and disappeared into the night, and I served drink after drink until my shift was up. It wasn't anything too special, living in Hawaii. Sure, I had some fun, but I was to be married and have a family, so I had to act my age, I just worked, went home, slept, and repeated the process. Little did I know, Hawaii would matter to me again.
In summer, I married my fiancé in a simple ceremony at the hotel, with lots of servicemen in attendance. I knew very few at my wedding, surrounded by men in white uniforms. I didn't even write my parents, what with my brother coming home, and me, the second-best child, the Hawaii runaway, pregnant out of wedlock, I was on my own. 

Back in California with my first baby
My husband and I remarried in the states and set up home in California and raised three daughters. When my mother passed in 1977, I decided it was time to find my real mother and father. The Hall of Records was about to close for lunch, and an intern was there who illegally let me look up my birth. I jotted down names, went from library to library, and pieced together my mother's life. She was a social butterfly of the high society, all over the newspapers for being the belle of the soiree so to speak, a woman surely held to too high of esteem to have had little old me. I found the phone number of her best friend of decades, nearly dialed her number, and got scared, Call me chicken ,but after a lifetime of being teased for being "unwanted", I now feared speaking to my mother. My daughter got the guts I lacked, and called, and through the grapevine she found my mother. We spoke on the phone once, and sent a few letters to one another, but after a lifetime without her, what do you even say? Where do you even begin? We kept our letters brief, small talk and simple pleasantries, not like a mother and daughter relationship should be. She was kind of cold and business like, yet took the time to send me a photo of her and return my letters. It wasn't until I penned my second letter to her that the address looked familiar. I racked my brain and was struck with the answer. Her address was a block the restaurant I worked at in Hawaii. Being a social elite lady, I surely can say she came to my restaurant, as it was the place to be in Waikiki, a kind of place she meant to be seen in. But with three decades come and gone, I could not say if I remember her at all. I was young, naive, busy working and planning my life, so the patrons' faces looked all the same. Would I remember a woman with my grown daughter’s frame, my color hair, a familiar giggle? Would she have recognized me, as someone vaguely familiar, maybe reminding her of her sister? If so, she never mentioned it. I likely served her many times, touched my birth mother's open palm to accept a tip. I bet we looked each other in the eye at some time and never knew. Perhaps we were not destined to know, to meet, and to find one another. 

join us at the speakeasy...you know you want to!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

perspective: exersize and what you can/cannot do

My husband's best friend was in the special forces andcwas injured by an ied, and has some metal plate in his neck. No, he does not get radio signals.So there was this Ride 2 Rexovery bike ride from San Francisco to Santa Monica this week. The news loves a creepy, sad, gruesome story so it kind of escaped the radar. Injured vets were sponsored to ride bikes...bicycles..from San Fran to Sants Monica, a 450 mile journey in a week.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Today sucked

It sucked hairy rocks.
It sucked goat hairs.
It sucked suckier than suck.

My son only ended up in daycare half the day yesterday, Hubby had to pick him up, he was beyond inconsolable.
I ended up taking him to the doctor,'/s and he was diagnosed with thrush.

So today sucked cause my son was in daycare from11-4 and cried basically the entire time. When not hysterically crying, he was clicking things to escape or body slamming things. He seriously is covered in bruises and it breaks my heart. So I researched the issue and the trusty Internet is all, some kids just never adjust. They just can't be in daycare. Great. No one ear can watch him.

So work....really sucked. It began on and then the students enter the room. We begin note taking and the laptop freezes. Then the projector overheats. 30 minutes wasted. No alternative assignment cause I had to teach that topic today or else, and I do not have a textbook or any materials yet. So it was PowerPoint or nothing. So the students are then crazy afterwards cause its all, hi I am your new teacher and hey look at that umm...since noting works, and I cannot give other work , sit there for a half hour.

So I am beginning to learn names but with up to 38 per class, yes, 38, and kids purposely tricking me and switching seats, I am f&ked.

So then we have another class. A little better except one kid will not sit down. With absences and the like, he is one of three names. He won't tell me which is his and no one else will. He refuses to take out the note book. I can't sent him elsewhere or write him up since I do not know who he is.

Everyone talks over my voice or any student presenting anything.

They only get grades for tests and essays and even then, specific ones so I can't give a pop quiz or essay or other shut up assignment. Cause they won't do it.

So then there's a fire drill with a confusing map. 2,000 students or mor plus staff exit two doors. It is a log jam situation and classes separate due to simple physics. My class loses me and vice versa. In the swarm, I have no clue who my students are since I have seen then twice before, and am still unable to differentiate "hey are you in my 3rd or 4th per class? Or do you just really look like Billy?" Any student from another. I maybe recognize 1/3 of my class plus others from other periods. I think. Maybe.

So then we are lost and the map is oriented incorrectly and we line up in the wrong place. We are the last to line up and it is obvious. We are to line up somewhere between the 30-40 yard line but it is all full so we go to he 20th, as my. Line screams, new teacher over here, confused, wrong I every way, fire her.

Then we wait. We are to sit in single file line by classroom for an hour and a half. No potty breaks or talking to a friend three lines over or any activities or anything. Yeah freaking right. Add in an at risk population and voila recipe for disaster. My students won't sit. Without a seating chart, I only know maybe 5 names. I can't give them any "punishment" and they know that. No one can give referrals in the drill and cut isn't like you can give them work, call home, or anything. So kids begin to wander and not just my class. Two students went missing between the class and the field. My roll is taken away and I am sure the principals are gong over, yup she lost two kids who could lose two kids in the funnel two exits 2000 kids on their first official day? Geez, I mean anyone could keep track of 38 strangers on a field of 2,000 strangers, fire her!

So more wander. Again they're mostly strangers to me and so my line of 30-something is more of a clump, being the last line, unbound by the divisors of other classrooms. I keep the same basic number of kids but lose some and accumulate new ones. We're to have a buddy teacher, but no one knows who mine is. No one comes fort roll. Other teachers tell my students (or whoever they belong to) to sit down in a line and where is your teacher. Even kids I can assuredly tell you aren't mine point at me since I am new. I decide to spend our pointless time just making sure whoever is in my line, well, clump, is safe. If they leave it, not my issue because I cannot leave my line to chase after them and I can't call their names since I don't know them.

Finally the bell rings.

I nearly rolled into a ball and wept.

The first teacher quit after a month. Then there was a sub till a teacher void be found. Me.

I hope I last. Breaking a contract is like...suicide. You will never get a job again. Ever. But today sucked. If my son can't do daycare I will have to quit. If tomorrow isn't any better at work.....

Grr. I have taught before and it hasn't been the bad. Only when I was a sun with no power was it like this.

Oh And my pay, I get paid a certain yearly total divided monthly. Lets dream here, 120,000 yr or 10000 month. Since I didn't work for two, wasn't hired yet, my total is 100,000. 10,000 month. So the payroll tells me you won't be paid till December and then you get $5000 .
Huh? I get paid a month late for half if what I earned?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Sweet Sounds of a Chainsaw

I am serious when I say the whirr of a chainsaw is soothing. I have thought as much since I was three, when my mom silk screened STIHL (a chainsaw manufacturer) on a tee shirt for me, and dyed it pink. Cause just like my newly spray-painted trucks, pink marked it as "girl". My dad didn't have any boys, just a tomboy girl, his little shadow and little mini self. At that young age, he was not just my dad but my best friend and idol, so I wore my STIHL shirt with pride, a little girl, her dad, and his chainsaw.

My dad suffers from sociophobia, so holding a regular job has never been practical. He loves to be outdoors, one with nature, so when I was an infant, he became a freelance forest entrepreneur. Yep. He cut down dying trees and sold firewood along the highway. He made a small seasonal income, babysat me, and taught me all about the dozens of tree species in the forest.

From what I piece together from vague memories, photos, and stories is that my mom worked full time and he was a stay-at-home dad at the time. He'd rope me into the front seat of our jeep truck (don't fret folks, this pre-dated seatbelt and child seat laws) and we'd drive along dusty forestry trails for what seemed like hours. We would find our "spot" and I'd be gently set onto an old blanket atop the pine needle strewn earth with our dog by my side, as my dad went off, within seeing distance, and chopped down trees, shorn off stumps, dragged already downed dead limbs towards the truck. I would sit quietly and pet the dog while watching my dad, the birds, the clouds in the sky. I was always and still am a quiet, introspective, nature loving girl and I am sure these experiences helped shape me. The whirr of the chainsaw, the scent of pine sap, and the gentle rays of mountain sun filled me with a quiet joy.

Being a man of nature and a Native American culture nut, my dad felt it was wrong to take down trees, even dead ones, for they housed little creatures and created loamy soil for the wildflowers. To show his respect, and to give back what he took, he might place a raven's feather at the tree site, or scatter a handful of wildflower seed on the fresh earth.

A sprinkling of feverfew in bloom by the creek, a cedar with his and my initials carved into the trunk, a rock we climbed for a view of the ponderosa pines below...every corner of the forest reminds me of my childhood and of my dad, the nature man.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

New job jitters

I have a new job! I am responsible for directing the lives of the youth! No. You do not need to hide your children.

After 17 months of no job and basically no hope, I got a job offer. But not having worked for 17 months, not having taught since May 2010 I feel like I am entering the workforce for te first time. I have first day of school jitters. I know I am competent am awesome and bla bla but I'm anxious dammit.

I voiced a teeny bit of my apprehensions and questions in an online forum. BIG MISTAKE. Here I get to put on my big girl panties and I leaked. Figuratively. Apparently, us teacher folk are omniscient and perfect and while treated crappy, we are led to super human status.

So this post is to say, if you have a day of pre-work jitters, you are NORMAL. Okay?

But my jitters might verge on an anxiety disorder. Yeah it runs in the family so what?

I wanted to know when I started. Sure, I was told by HR, show up next Monday. They have like 40 schools so they don't know when I show up. I contact the school to no avail. First impressions are much too important, and I didn't want to be "that annoying gal that kept calling us" so I sought some advice. This meant, to the super kind forum folks, that I lacked common sense, problem solving, intellect, or stability. Dude, seriously?

So again it is ok to have questions and concerns.

But yeah then my mind starts going. Like a kid the week summer is ending, I am freaking. How will I get used to waking before dawn? How do I set an off-day alarm on y iPhone? What if it doesn't go off? What will traffic be like and will I get there on time? How much time do I give to drop my son off for his first week sniff sniff of full time day care? Who will be more of a wreck from the separation, me or him? What if he gets sick or goes feral? What I there's a wreck on the way there? What if my room key doesn't work? I suck at using keys! The contract said temporary leave replacement so do I lose my job when whoever comes back? I have had over a dozen jobs in under a dozen years, often I am rid of due to the seniority I lack and can't get, will it happen again? Will I get along with my co teacher? Cause I am a nice girl but if my experiences with college roommates are any indication of sharing with people... Crap will I suck l, having not taught for so long? How will the students trick the new ie teacher? Will the staff like me? How will I balance work, grading, meetings, half hour or so commute each way, family time, me time? Will I love my job? What kind of school culture will they be? Will I say something stupid? Will I dress wrong!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The World is on its Elbows and Knees

I awoke to the jarring sounds of my phone ringing.
"Hello?" I mumbled, nearly interrupted by my normally stoic mother's voice, yelling frantically, "get out now, the mountains;" her screams became sobs as she whimpered out, "something's wrong, it's all over, the world,they-" and the line went dead. I didn't try to call back, I just grabbed my keys and ran to the garage, didn't close the door as I pulled the car out.

The city streets were nearly empty, being three in the morning and all. Nothing looked awry but my mother meant business, that much I knew. I had never heard her cry before. I began to worry, would I find my parents? What was happening? Would they even make it to- my thoughts were interrupted by a bright flash and I instinctually pressed the accelerator, red lining to the hills, staring straight ahead and seeing nothing.

The first light of dawn greeted me as I bear right, down a dirt road into the cold winter forest. I piled some brush around the car, keeping an eye on the road. I sat inside and prayed, and no one came. After two days, an old diet coke under the seat was not enough sustenance. I had to go to the city.

I left on foot under the protection of the night; I could barely see to make my way but I hoped the invisibility would protect me. Sore from walking, dehydrated an exhausted, I collapsed under a bridge in the outskirts of the city, the babble of the city canal putting me to sleep instantly.

It was the smell that woke me. Putrid, earthy, alarming. I looked to the river and it looked off color, sort of red. Thinking of the saying, "red sky at morning, sailors take warning", I looked to the sky but saw only gray. Horrified, I looked down to confirm what I saw and it was worse. The red river churned and in it, bloated corpse bobbed. A haggard looking man was walking along the sloped canal wall, dragging a moaning body. In the haggard man's other arm was a bloodied leg, of which he took a grisly bite. I was scared stiff and his eyes began to scan the horizon hungrily, approaching my direction. I bolted, the sounds of banshees crying and thousands moaning filled my ears.

I saw a large silo with the door ajar, and figured I had nothing to lose. I went in, shut the door, and was in a stories tall large room, nearly filled with some fine sand like substance. It was quiet. The screams by the river could not be heard. I hid in a corner as an unmanned train car approached the top of the building. The train car dumped more sand in towering pile. The train seemed to be somehow sentient, searching for something, scanning. I held my breath until it passed. Whenever I heard the ghostly rumble of the train, I held my breath.

The silo has no other sounds, no smells, no real color but shades of gray. I watched the sand pile up like a sand timer and felt utterly alone. I shivered in the cold as an indescribable desolation came over me.

That's when I realized it. I somehow knew I would be the last. The last human on the planet. Absolute despair overcame me and I closed my eyes, letting death overtake me.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fate doesn't call collect

You'd think I'd notice mental illness from a mile away, what with my family being the reason for Prozac and all. I had grown up understanding and experiencing every bit of the DSM IV, the handbook of psychiatry. Nope. Like everyone in my family, I was entranced, enamored, entrapped by it.

Or maybe I can blame naiveté; having not had my first kiss until nearly 18, I was a late bloomer in the dating scene and just so excited to have a boyfriend in college that I didn't see it.

I saw him as a charming, spontaneous, adventuresome type. Before we even dated, he picked a friend and I up for lunch and we ended up on a two day excursion through the High Sierras. Another time, we drove to the state border just 'cause. Other times, he'd show up without warning, dressed to the nines to take me to dinner. Sure, sometimes we'd go days without seeing each other, or he might cancel a date, but I was busy with school and he work, so I understood and just enjoyed our fun time together more. I was hooked.

It all started with a phone call. My boyfriend had gone for a late night walk in the nearly freezing rain. That alone should have let off bells and whistles, but it didn't. I found it intriguing and charming, remembering splashing in the puddles and catching rain on my tongue. I fell asleep that night to the sound of pouring rain.

My phone rang, waking me at midnight. I braced myself to pock up the receiver. Nothing good happens after midnight, and collect calls are even worse. On the other end, I could hear teeth chattering from the cold, and guttural sobbing sounds. A weak, familiar voice whimpered out, "help". The voice was that of my boyfriend. I felt terrible, helpless, as I didn't have a car or way to get to him. The call progressed and through the sobs, one thing was apparent. He was suicidal. We talked and talked, about life, love, God, the future. The cries of desperation became a soft whimper, the rain in some supernatural sense calmed to a patter. As his collect call ran my monthly income down to nothing, I told myself this was just a bump in the road, and that I had to stay with him because, dude, I had just saved his life. I was his reason for living. I had done this before, when my grandpa would call, drunk, a gun to his head. I would try to decipher a drunken cockney slur and tell him I loved him and hand the phone to my parents. I was four. Grandpa survived. So did my boyfriend. It would be alright.

I received other phone calls, full of lies and harsh words, fueled by intoxication and untreated mental illness. I was trapped in a relationship for fear he'd kill himself, or worse, me.

I finally realized he never wanted to get help, and I could do nothing to stop his self destruction; all I could do was save myself. F*ck love, I had to love myself. Through meditation, art, a few set backs, I left him and began to heal.

I met a wonderful man who had been on the periphery all along, but I'd been blind to his presence. He didn't see me as broken, ugly, unworthy like I felt. He saw me as an intelligent, caring, awesome person and encouraged me to be myself. To forgive myself. To move on. To blossom.

I sometimes wonder why I had the year from hell, how I nearly lost myself. Sometimes fate does not give you answers, it just shapes you as you move along. Sometimes things happen for a reason unapparent to us, but worth it in the end. Somehow, I am where I am now, happier than can be measured, and I am whole again. So if you are in dire straights, know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Just keep seeking it and moving forward. You are strong, beautiful, amazing.

I was nearly lost in the darkness but now I wake every day surrounded by light.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

the colorful characters of my hometown

My dad collected the oddest of friends. Some guy came to our house once, high on something, and had od'ed. He passed out in our yard and the ambulance came. He lived.

Then there was crazy William who everyone in Town remembers. He was homeless, and my dad and I would bring him food in the winter, because living in a snowy forest with no shelter sucks, and food makes it a bit better. Crazy William was one of the tinfoil hat kind of guys, always talking about "them" and how the tin foil blocked out their communications. No joke. He also had a huge machete knife sword thing with Jesus engraved on it. Call me the crazy one, but isn't Jesus kind of the antithesis of huge sharp weapons? He also told my mom to tell the neighbor to cut down the trees in his yard, because they housed government ninjas.

Then there were the Marks. Crazy Mark and One-Legged Mark. Both were nuts, but you had to differentiate them somehow, and one was just plain crazy, the other, crazy and missing a leg. Crazy Mark also claimed tinfoil and shiny things blocked out or frightened "them". We had to hide our mirrors, tinfoil, and good silverware when he visited or he'd steal or try and barter for it. Which makes me wonder, what is up with crazies and tinfoil? And one-legged Mark, to my recall, was a nice guy.

My mom was making some recipe once, where you mix cream of whatever soup with tuna and cheese and wrap the goo with frozen croissant dough and bake, with a cream of whatever dipping sauce. Sounds gross, but they were like sh1t on a shingle meets tuna melt in a handy handheld pocket version. With a little white trash mixed in. My mom 6565`recently was thinking about the recipe and couldn't find it; googling5`5ish cakes" does not do you well. We called them fish cakes because one-legged Mark was over for dinner, perplexed and initially disgusted by my moms "f%ing fish cakes", which set the family into the giggles. Fish cakes. We envisioned pink frosted salmon cakes and chocolate cod cream pie. So anyways...today my mom calls me because for years, she had forgotten it was one legged Mark who had named my mom's concoction. It was one of those things where something is at the tip of your tonguecand suddenly you remember it. So hubby and I are driving and a call comes through blue tooth. "It was one legged Mark, he named them fish cakes," my hubby looks at me like OMG your mom is nuts so I chime in, "oh I remember him! How did he lose his leg." And my mom explains he was a bassist in "Metallica or something" and lost his leg in a motorcycle wreck, got addicted to pain killers, and because the crazy one legged Mark. I then kind of giggled because we would know if one-legged Mark had dropped by for a visit when we were not there, because you'd see the path to our home, mud or snow covered, with one line of footprints and one line of ski-pole poky prints. See one-legged Mark did not have a real prosthetic but some home made one, or at least a home made foot (hey he could have lost the prosthetic foot and not the leg, right?) So he had the bottom of a ski pole for a foot. He said it gave good traction in the winter. Again, no joke.

So I HAD to google this one legged Mark guy. Know what? One legged Mark, bass player Mark loses leg, or a myriad of related combinations did not beget what I wanted. Seriously ,there are billions of web pages and none about one legged Mark? So here's to you, one-legged Mark.

beyond threadbarren

Again, a brief disclaimer- laptops dead, my nook is like that kid that failed French except nook failed html code. Twice. He is an IT school dropout. So my blog formatting and spelling, editing, all that will suck. Blame my nook. At least he isn't in the back alley snorting glue. Yet.

So my friend over at http://getoffmyroads.blogspot.com and I got addicted to http://yeahwrite.me and then she decided we'd do our own blog challenge. This weeks topic is, favorite clothing.

Most teens will sneak into their room and secretly smoke a cigarette or watch a naughty movie or whatever. While certainly not naive. I was "straight edge" as a teen, never did drugs, and generally listened to my parents, weird, I know. However, I did sneak into my room to do something taboo and I am ashamed to admit it. I wore a dress. Yes, I am female so why is a dress so taboo? Well, it made my look like a hobo or street child from Oliver Twist meets a prostitute an I loved every threadbarren, see through, dusty thread of the damned dress. It was a beige voile sun dress with flowers, reminiscent of curtains a grandma would have, but for some reason that dress transformed me (even if in my own crazy little head) into something awesome. My flat-chested, 74 lb middle school self, with scraggly hair and pimples, became a super model in that dress...well, so I thought. I felt good in it and self esteem goes a long way in middle school, even if it is fabricated. As I progressed through middle school, I went from the shortest skinniest kid, to the second shortest kid, thanks to Michelle Kwan. No joke, before she ran off to the olympics, she was in my science class and for the first time ever ,I was the second shortest. Then she left but an amazing thing happened. Girls stopped growing. Meanwhile, being a late bloomer, I shot up in height and by my senior year, I stopped growing and reached a whopping height of 5'4". My beloved dress, however, did not grow with me. By my freshman year, it barely covered my panties region, and had tears from it not quite fitting in girth. It smelled like an attic and was so threadbarren that I feared if I sneezed, it might disintegrate. My parents were disgusted by it, and it was showing more of me than anyone but a pedophile wanted to see. We had an intervention and I was told to throw it away. I, like any bad addict, lied and said I did, but I continued to wear it in secret, in my bedroom, for at least another month until one day, I went to put it on and riiiiiip. The sleeve tore off, taking some chest with it, and I sadly had to throw it away for good.

You'd think I would learn from that dress, but you'd be mistaken. In college, I discovered the glory that is blue jean skirts. I could stay cool in hot weather, look kinda girly, but still feel tomboy-like. And everyone knows jeans go with EVERYTHING. Nothing to wear with a reindeer Christmas sweater? Nay nay, you have the jean skirt! Sparkly pink tank top? Goes with the skirt! Metallica tee? Yup, sure, pair it with the skirt. (Yeah my fashion sense sucked.) I gained the freshman 15 (umm, 30, thanks to all you can eat pasta, pizza, and soda at the University cafeteria) and I had to buy a different jean skirt, but who cared, right? After a steady diet of pizza and beer I somehow lost a few pounds and had to buy yet another jean skirt. I found her at Marshall's. A bit fluted at the bottom, made of sewn together strips of jean fabric, she was a classy knee length a-line with flair. I could gain or loose a few pounds, and no matter what, she magically adjusted and fit. I wore her in college, with my bad fashion sense, and beyond, into marriage when my fashion began to redeem itself. I wore her into a terrible time of fashion when no one had jean skirts, but hello, jeans are timeless people. Timeless. She began to shed threads at the ends, warp and curl, fade, but like an old wine, she was awesome, better with age, I told myself. I recall when I was pregnant, of course, she didn't fit, but I recall the day I could fit in her again an it was marvelous. Like reuniting with an old friend. But fate would separate us. My hubby said I looked like a hobo. But I wore her some more. I started to get sympathetic looks from strangers when wearing her, so, in my old ways, I began to only wear her at home. Well ok I might have worn her to check the mail or get gas but I lived in a town of drugged up hillbillies so it was ok. Or so I told myself. Vacation time came and I packed her for my trip to Chicago and hubby put his foot down. We had an intervention and I sadly retired her. But guess what? Thanks to the atrocious 80s styles coming back, jean skirts are en vogue again! But I am not ready. No one will ever be as good as THE jean skirt. Every skirt is flawed. Too stretchy, too short, too dark, ugly with gold buttons. Apparently, I am not ready to move on.

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Visit To Hell

(Ignore typos and formatting please, my laptop is dead and my nook hates blogger and html code etc) ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________I have always been intrigued by atrocity and genocide. No, not in some Charles Manson fashion, but more in awe of the strength of the human spirit despite all odds, and, in justaposition, the incomprehensible ability for man to abuse others, and enjoy doing so.
In college, I had the opportunity to travel during the month of January with my classmates and one of our university professors, taking a course in whatever, wherever. My senior year was upon me and I yearned to go somewhere, anywhere. There were two courses; Spanish in Uruguay (available only to Spanish or Latin American majors and minors, drats) or Austria. Sure, Austria looked gorgeous on a postcard, but it kind of didn't interest me. Growing up in an area modeled after Switzerland in order to attract tourists via cheese factor, and the fact that German food made me think, "yuck", I could have thought of many more places I would rather go. But, with no more opportunities avaialable, I booked it last minute.
Our course in Austria was Interpersonal Relations, but we got other educational opportunities like watching a marionette show or going to a concentration camp. My curiosity got to me, and I emotionally prepared myself to visit the site of utter atrocity, Mauthausen.
We entered through a castle-like building, one that felt kind of institutional, as if a school or hospital tried to emulate a castle, on a budget. The architecture did not say, "enter and die", more just "yup, we were built by the government but wanted to look a little fancy". As we walked up a stone staircase, I couldn't help but think, "this place is kind of pretty", a thought I wanted to supress. The wintery snow had mostly melted and you could see homes nearby, fireplace smoke dreamily puffing into the winter skyscape. The camp also featured sculptures, part of a post WWII memorial to the lives lost, which made it feel more like a museum than a place of death. Many buikdings had been destroyed or built over, so all you saw was mostly crumbled ruins. I stood over by a hill near a quarry where people worked themselves to death, and it just didn't look like the place where atrocities happened. I always imagined a desolate field of swampy mud, treeless plains, coal smoke stained everything, endless train tracks. Instead, you saw a picturesque village among rolling hills. But then, it struck me. These gorgeous homes and orchards, cobblestone lanes and clock towers, all looked onto the death camp. Unlike America, land of the new, you weren't looking at tract homes but rather hundreds of years old homesteads, homes that were there when the camps were occupied. These residents had to have known something, but were probably scared to death of speaking up. That saddened me the most.
As we left, we passed a newer part of town that was built after WWII, atop little satellite death camps. A haunted, blood stained earth had become newer homes and grocery stores. A sign advertised a Mauthausen McDonald's, and I felt queasy. I did not eat the rest of the day, as I thought of a restaurant built over the ashes of children, a restaurant with food, something the people in the camp dreamed of as they died from famine and exhauation, or worse.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Time Flies

My husband was perfect, dreamy.

Which reminds me, I have very vivid dreams. People say, "oh, so do I" but they are wrong. Dead wrong.

My dreams will contain the textures of a scratchy wool sweater, spine tingling chills of fright, the smell of pine boughs at Christmas, the marshmallow-burnt taste of fire toasted bread. My dreams are nearly real, almost too real.

I met my sweet husband as I was finishing college, and went to escape to a cafe to have a cup of coffee to make it through finals. Out of seemingly nowhere, a handsome man appeared next to me and said, "excuse me, do you have the time?" I was taken aback, not sure if he meant literally or figuratively, so I pulled out a chair and said, "Yes, 1:30." We began to chat about the art of Da Vinci, the ideas of Aristotle, real "nerd stuff" my mother blamed for me never having dated. "Get your nose out of a book, or you'll never land a mate" she said, tsk tsking me. A year later, this magical man, too good to be true, married me.

It was then that I began to dream that I could fly, except it was not flying in the normal sense, more like leaping, hovering, travelling all at once. I would be walking in my neighborhood at a fast pace and suddenly my long stride would pick me up off the ground, like I was levitating, and carry me dozens of feet. I never felt so free, and wandered about like a toddler learning to walk, but staying close to home, close to the familiar. I never went past the stoplight down the road, staying away from the desolate outskirts of town by the woods.

One night, tired of flying near home, I went past the stoplight, "running a red" and leaping over the field of flaxen grass. I could smell the hay scent in my hair, and feel the grass tickle my toes as I landed. It was then that I realized there were no sounds, no rustling breeze, no chirping of crickets, nothing. I grew scared and flew home as fast as I could, except, it wasn't home. The giant oak out front was gone, the kitchen was now at the back of the home, the curtains were no longer white. I walked to my bedroom, weary, and found my dear husband gone. I called his name gently, but then more frantically, throwing up the now mahogany closet doors, flipping on the wrong light switches, and he was nowhere to be found. Exhausted, I collapsed into my bed, sobbing into not-my-pillow.

I awoke from my dream but the house was still not my own. I ran towards the field to try and make things right again, and felt compelled to keep running and flying into the far woods, to envelop me in the beckoning darkness. I landed hard from flying, my foot tangled in a root, and THWACK! I fell to the ground, my breath knocked from my lungs, my vision blurry. My eyes fluttered shut and darkness overcame me.

I woke up in my real bed, in my real house, relieved to have ended this terrible nightmare. I rolled towards my husband and pain shot through me, my leg was bloddied and swollen. Then, I saw it A note scrawled in my husband's messy printing filling up a torn piece of paper. It read,

I clipped my wings and flew home. Do you have the time?

happy dance

Brevity is not my forte. But here goesm I have a job! I know little more, will find out details tomorrow I hope. I am excited but also beyond nervous, after 17 months of no work I feel like I don't know anything anymore, or something like that.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Just Like Crazy Aunt Alice

  I have been told by my aunt that I remind her a lot of crazy Aunt Alice. Aunt Alice was my paternal grandfather's mum, a woman of Irish ancestry from the filthy tenements of Port Glasgow,Scotland. People called her crazy, reminiscent of that crazy cat lady person the townsfolk sort of ignored or avoided. My family seems to like to speak in vague terms or just ignore information all together, so I am not fully sure why she was "crazy". And who wants to be told they are like a crazy, nearly ostracized, deceased relative?

To this day, no one can seem to tell me why I remind them of Crazy Aunt Alice. And why was she crazy, you may ask? All I can find out is that she had premonitions. Somehow, saints or people destined to be famous can have them and the Catholic Church makes them special, but a regular Catholic lady has them and she is nuts. But come to think of it, I must be nuts too, cause I have dreams as well. I recall as a child, visiting my grandma's home in my dreams. I viewed the scrubby dry hillside behind her yard of avocado trees, suddenly scraped up by a bulldozer, and a cherry tree in bloom. Weird, I thought, that hill doesn't have a cherry tree and the hill is intact. A few years later, I went to visit her and lo and behold, there were the claw marks from a bulldozer, freshly upturned dirt and a tiny cherry tree. Apparently the bulldozer had left minutes before my arrival.

My premonitions or whatever did not occur to my knowledge for many years, until I was in college. I had a dream where I was driving over a hill, past a logging road on the right, with a hill sloping downwards on the left, a barn and home, an apple orchard shrouded in mist. A few months later, I went to visit my boyfriend in Canada and we went for a drive along a desolate mountain road, a place I had never been, a place that was really a nowhere of a place. We rounded a bend and I gasped. I told him that after the logging road ahead we would see a barn. I explained everything in exact detail before we got there.

I also had a few silly premonitions where the event happened the next day. A sparrow hitting the cafeteria window and dying, and that exact thing happening like I had hit replay, as I approached the cafeteria for breakfast. My toilet overflowing with raw sewage, and a broken sewer emergency the next day.

I have had a few dreams that were so real that it was hard to differentiate them from reality. One was of my father dying, and it was so incredibly vivid and real that I could not shake the funk the next day. I called my mom to be sure my dream was not true, and she informed me that my dad had began the 17 hour drive to come visit me, but had turned back and gone home an hour into it, racked with anxiety. I cannot help but wonder if he, too, tapped into Crazy Aunt Alice and knew something was wrong; perhaps, had he driven, he'd have passed away. When my mom cautiously informed me he'd not make it, knowing I would be upset, I breathed a sigh of relief. Sure, he wasn't visiting, but he'd be home, under her watch safe and alive. Because you never know when a dream is a premonition until it comes true. I have to treat every nightmare with extra caution and fear, for the nightmare could be reality.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Don't Light My Fire

Image courtesy of the original Lorax film.
And yep. Evacuating a forest fire looks and feels
like this. I feel ya' Humming Fish. I really do.
The smell of burning wood evokes the joys of summertime to many but, for me, nothing else strikes as much fear.

I grew up in the tinder box that is the forests of Southern California, which make the news yearly due to devastating forest fires. These events scarred my psyche, giving me nightmares about tsunamis of flames engulfing my home and killing my pets. My nightmares and reality have made me hyper-sensitive, like a wild dog who can smell fire before anyone else.

I remember a few times as a child, watching the flames climb up from the valley below, sirens blasting, smoke choking the air. Panic. Packing what we could into the car, not sure if we'd ever see our home again. My home was like a family member, keeper of all my memories and secrets. Toys forgotten, books left behind, everything I ever knew could be gone in a flash. We would often evacuate in minutes, racing to leave before the police came door to door or via helicopter to scream “get out now, you can't stay here”.  Our early exodus was before the rush of tens of thousands of residents on one winding road, rushing out, tempers flared, eyes filled with tears. The exodus was reminiscent of the scene in the original Lorax when all the furry creatures leave the town behind.

In high school, a fire started near my town over the weekend. Surely we were evacuated and school was cancelled. The fire came so close to my best friend's home that her yard was scorched, and our other friend's home was barely saved by a desperate father who helped the firefighters save his property surrounded in flame. My break from school was not enjoyable, not knowing if I had a home to go home to afterward. I remember scavenging for relics afterward, finding burnt timbers and scorched hoses, helmets and coats from the firemen. We played in the smoky embers, and filmed some silly apocalyptic film lying in the smoking dust like dead people. It was our way of dealing with things.

The snaking flames inch towards my home
The Old Fire hit my hometown in 2003, burning over 91,000 acres and taking 6 lives and 1,000 structures with it. I did not live in the forest, but remember watching it from the valley, as this gorgeous glowing orange snake of destruction inched its way forward, like Satan himself wiping the forest away. I remember watching the news in horror, watching homes I knew (Oh my...there goes my school counselor's home...) burn before my eyes. My mother had been evacuated and we drove her around a bit to try and get her mind off the fire. She was a mess. She had only a few belongings with her, whatever she could grab quickly.  She sat in the back seat of our car frantically calling people, clutching her purse with shaking hands wet from tears, voice wavering, spitting out nonsense words. She would call me and say that the neighbor's uncle's grocery clerk's friend said the fireman had tried to save her home and couldn't. Then a call that her pet peacocks were heard a mile away, safe for now. Then, that the home was perfectly safe. That it was someone ease’s home, someone we knew and I grew up with. Conflicting stories, hearsay  strong emotions and the thoughts of loss clouded any truth and made it utter hell.  My parent's home was left intact and the peacocks were found, but our town was never the same. After the fire, I toured the outskirts of the areas destroyed from the fire, and still to this day have not gone into the neighborhoods destroyed, for fear of strong emotions. A childhood friend's home, the place we went sledding, the tree we hid behind, all gone. The fires were over, the town scarred, and life went on, for a while.

yep I'm two-timing yeahwrite with yeahwrite
Meanwhile,  I had gone to college, been married, and moved  near my hometown again, surrounded by forest. A fire came near my home, flaming tongues of fire were in the canyon below me, and we got the requisite knock on the door to evacuate. There weren't any available hotels for miles, so we had to drive 60 miles to find a place to stay, a place full of other evacuees. I recognized cars and family name bumper stickers, faces of people from the grocery store and the like, and the smokey scent and eyes of uncertainty. Again, we were lucky and our house stood unscathed.

A few years later, being nearly the present time, I had a child, lost a job, and a bunch more random drama and decided I did not want to deal with devastating fires again, among other bothersome events that come about living where I lived. So now I live in the 'burbs with plush lawns, cement, Stepford Wives style people (ugh) but guess what? Sure a fire can still destroy my home, but it is much less likely. And I haven't had a fire nightmare since. But, I can still smell a fire no one else can, and can recognize evacuees like nobody's business.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

f#$%ng call centers and customer service

I get it. Call center reps work hard and I would never ever want that job. Ever. Regardless, I HATE them. Sure, hate is a strong word, yes, yes it is. Purposely. ---- So I called my 401k or 403b or WD40 or C3PO (gosh I hate acronyms) because I wanted to withdraw some funds.....much paperwork, faxes, a month later, lost in the mail...I am back at it again. Except this time, you know, because waiting a month and having money gets lost in the mail wasn't enough, this time; they claim my social security number does not exist. You know the one I have had for a handful of decades. The one I used to call in about my withdraw before and after they lost my freaking check. So I rather firmly said, yes that is my social security number ,I am not mistaken, fix it
So. We also switched banks. We had some bill that went through and they did the no funds so let's charge you a no funds fee. I mean, here you are unable to pay a bill so let's take more money from you cause you don't have money. That's some common sense for ya. So then, I have an account with my parents from high school that I haven't used in over a decade. So they take money from my mom. Oh no you didn’t! Yeah. They did. So we straighten that crap out after they claim they need all parties’ signatures. Mine notarized and theirs in person. Umm my parents live 14 hours away buddy. So after some bickering we fix that and I go in to get a statement. Except I cannot get my statement because I am not on the statement. I have my id, my bank card, an old statement, and the computer shows I am on the account but since the statement lacks my name, I can't get it You know, they can charge my mom instead of calling us and saying "hey a bill went through, can you pay it?", you know, get all 007 and find an ancient account I am tied to to get money, but since my name appears on everything but the statement, I cannot have it. Then she hands me the statements of my mom's, you know, the account I got myself off of since I haven't used it in a decade? The account I am no longer on, I got access to. So today we get a humongous verizon bill and hubby is all, "da fuq ?I paid them and then your mom's account paid them. Call them." So I oblige as, if we paid them twice, and they say none, it makes me mad. So I call and the guy acts like I am stupid and a liar. He asks for me to reference my bank statement for the ref number of the payment and I am all, umm no one will let me have my statement but we paid, he says ," you paid or your husband.". I respond that my hubby did, since we switched banks and everything went funky, he was better at figuring it out. Then he has the f$%&ing balls to say. “Are you sure? Maybe your husband really didn't pay the bill, maybe he lied since you don't have the statements". Seriously. He said my hubby lied to me. I'm all, I know we paid it because I have withdrawal charges or whatever, from my account and my mothers, charges that you took from us so dangnabbit we paid you. Ugh.

my homies poop here, and tan chest hair

I found a new blog to follow, and it inspired me to blog about the not so golden state. A lifelong native, I have some hatred towards it, and hubby says, "the grass is always greener on the other side" and I am like, yeah, cause they get rain and so summers are green!" Seriously, I had no concept that so much of the USA is green in summer...naturally. sure, Oregon is (the Western, populated half) cause it is a temperate rain forest, duh. But boy was I in a shock for it being green from Maine to Virginia, Missouri to Michigan, and probably other places I have yet to go. Anyways, whoa, off track there missy. I was reading a blog and wanted to write my own version except I could not have written it better...it is like she snuck into my head and read my mind. So check it out at heatherchristenaschmidt.com/2012/10/02/the-worst-part-about-california/ which I will attempt to turn into a real link when off my nook. The only thing she forgot? The graffiti. I have been to Gary In, NYC, Wash DC and nothing tops them but my part of the golden state. Not only are walls covered in a human version of dog pee (tagging), but trash cans. Sidewalks. Parking spots. Every sign. Flood basin creek things. Trees. Fences. Cars. Roofs. Gas pumps. And my favorite? The freaking toilet seat. They tag the freaking toilet seat, I guess to mark where their gang has the privilege to poop cause nothing says prime real estate for a gang turf war than a dingy, sticky floored, hope I don't catch something, convenience store bathroom's toilet seat.
–But alas I will be here for life. Why? Well it is not easy to move when you own property, and moving costs money and sucks. Add in some of hubby's in laws here. And the biggest part....? Hubby likes it here. I don't get it. He has traveled the world, lived in probably a dozen states and a handful of countries, and chose here. Why? Oh. The weather. He hates the cold, so snow is a no-go for him. He said if he ever had to go somewhere else, it'd be Texas. His dream is to live in Palm Springs and sit on the porch and get a bronze tan, complete with chest hair and gold chains. No joke. His dream is sun and heat all day every day. I tortured him enough making him live where we got actual winter, and he complained every day, and so that is done with. Back to trash strewn, hot, politically insane, criminal filled, toilet tagging la la land. But hey, visit here! Everyone else does.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The dark side

I have joined the dark side by now having both an iPhone and twitter account (my twitter stuff is to the right and down. Follow me please?)