Wednesday, January 31, 2007
We spent a lot of time talking, trying to figure out what the underlying cause was for her unbearable sadness. Is it school? Your boyfriend? Your stepfather? Me?
It was everything and nothing at the same time. There was no real reason. (And don't worry - we have gotten her help for this).
She just couldn’t stop crying sometimes, and she couldn’t help feeling like everything was a waste, like there was no point to anything. What’s the point of going to school? What difference does it make? All the things she used to dream about doing weren’t important to her anymore, at least not while she was feeling blue. Studying wildlife, going to college, traveling… who cares? Nothing matters. “There’s just no point,” she would say.
She would come out of it after a day or two, but when she was low, she was really low. And nothing mattered.
One day she was in her room in one of these moods, and she was flipping channels on her television. She happened to catch a show just as it was going to commercial break.
“When we return,” the announcer was saying in his smooth, baritone voice, “we’ll find out why everything is meaningless.”
Now this sounded like something worth waiting for. So she sat through all the commercials, waiting to find an explanation for everything she’d been feeling, the answer to all her questions, her new mantra. Surely someone understood how she felt.
It turned out to be a religious program. When they came back from the commercial break, the preacher resumed his sermon. “My brothers and sisters,” he began, “everything is absolutely meaningless.”
She leaned forward and put down her Mountain Dew. Speak to me father.
“Going to work everyday? Meaningless!”
“Amen!” she replied.
“Going to school everyday? Meaningless!”
“Nothing that you do in your life matters.”
She had finally found it. This was the justification she’d been looking for. All she really wanted to do was stay home and play Guild Wars and World of Warcraft and Zelda. And hang out with her boyfriend. And go to the mall. That was it. Well, the pizza place too.
It was like that music video where the little girl in the bee costume finally opens the gates to the place where all the other bee people are, and they welcome her with open arms and they dance to the music of Blind Melon.
“That’s what I’m talkin’ about!” She was on her feet now.
“The only things that matter are the things you do for God, and your personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”
She sat back down and resumed channel surfing. They almost had a convert.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
He was wrong.
Yes, we had stumbled home a tad tipsy that night. Well, I was a tad tipsy, and my stud was toast. The bars in Aruba are quite fun, and we were out there making the most of our vacation every night. Holding hands as we walked toward the rental car, my arm extended and drew near, extended and drew near as I walked along a straight path on the sidewalk, and Sean traipsed along a winding path alongside me.
He was grinning ear to ear. I drove back to the condo. We both passed out.
Sean got up in the night to use the restroom. Because he woke me up, I figured I might as well get up after him and do the same.
His trip: Stumbled over his shoes as he got out of bed, staggered into the wall, groped around in the darkness for the light switch, found the towel rack instead, gave up. Who needs a light anyway. Didn’t fuss with such trivial matters as lifting the seat. Peed in the general direction of the toilet. Maneuvered his way back to the bed and caused a bit of a commotion with the covers upon his reentry.
My trip: Tiptoed gingerly to the bathroom, opted not to use the light so as to protect my precious baby blue eyes, sat my ass down on a Very Wet Seat. Nothing I could do about it now… peed. Wiped off my entire ass with a towel from the towel rack, threw said towel behind the toilet so as not to mistake it for something appropriate to use on one’s face. Returned to the bed and reentered quite delicately, as always.
The noticeable lack of cursing and swearing told him that he must have hit the (very large) bull’s-eye of the toilet with his stream of piss dead-on. He fell asleep with the content feeling of a true winner.
I fell asleep feeling like a shower couldn’t come soon enough. Ditto for new sheets now, too.
In the morning, I nonchalantly thanked him for the lovely gift he left in the bathroom for me at 3am.
He was in shock.
Kind of like when you’re speeding at about 90 mph past a cop who’s sitting in one of those no-u-turn areas of the highway, and he doesn’t whip the car around, flip on the lights and come after you.
Or when you try to toss someone a can of beer from the cooler at a party, and it accidentally hits someone else in the back of the head because your aim sucks, and they don’t totally kick your ass (sorry Chuck). But then again, maybe you get away with the beer thing because you’re pretty cute and a good kisser. But I digress.
So anyway, the next night, when I got up to use the bathroom in the condo? The toilet seat was lifted.
And I fell in.
I guess I need to use the light.
Monday, January 29, 2007
Okay, I admit it. I love the sound of Spanish names. Italian names too. Actually, anything other than the very American sounding name I have. Russian names are awesome.
We are at our favorite pizza joint, and my daughter Mandy and her boyfriend have joined us for some slices. My mother-in-law happens to be there that night too, and she comes over to say hello.
As she is recounting the events of her day, another regular stops in, an unusually graceful man named David. His teeth are a crooked mess, but he is the most impeccable dresser, he is always clean-shaven, and his strut is made for the catwalk. He is such an animated character. We love this guy.
So he stops by our booth to say hello as well. Sean introduces David to his mother.
“Well!” David declares. “You have such an exotic look about you! I would have thought your name was Margarita!”
He says this with much flair. He even rolls the r.
“You can call me Margarita if you want to!” Sean’s mom says with a wink.
Mandy leans over to me and whispers, “I want him to name me!”
Sunday, January 28, 2007
I was out of money except for half a roll of laundry quarters, so I spent 8 miserable days living on 50-cent vending machine brownies because they were the cheapest things I could buy. I was so incredibly lonely and homesick, with nothing to do but study Calculus and eat brownies in eerily quiet solitary confinement.
After I had finally taken my test, I dashed across campus to my room and franticly crammed everything into my duffle - Champion sweatshirts and jeans and boots – with the urgency of a fleeing criminal. I phoned the cab that would transport me from hell to the bus station. I couldn’t wait to be home.
But luck was not on my side… the cab was late, I missed the bus, and I had to wait for 3 ½ hours in the terminal for the next one.
The place was deserted - the entire town was deserted. And I was on the verge of tears, stranded in a vast sea of empty chairs.
I noticed him from across the rows of fallow seats and I was sure that he was headed straight for me - this old man, plodding slowly but deliberately in my direction. Why were people always so drawn to me? Why did old men and little girls and everyone in between always seek out my company and compassionate ear? It has happened all my life. I think sometimes my openness is a yellow banner, waving merrily for all to see.
But there’s no welcome mat laid out before me now, I thought, with my narrowed eyes and my miserable grimace.
And here he was, on his way to disturb my angry little cocoon. Oh, I was in a wretched mood. He had the nerve to ask me if anyone was sitting here, motioning to where my heavy duffle was perched beside me. The place was barren. There were hundreds of seats to choose from. But I got up and dragged my bag to the floor and slumped back down, not saying a word.
The old man, with his scraggly beard and dirty clothes, smelling like coffee and cigarettes, was undeterred. He sat down and started to talk to me.
With a toothless smile he told me about his 88th birthday, 10 months prior, when he decided that he hadn't seen enough of the country and yearned to do so before he died. So he sold his things, boarded a Shortline bus in his hometown of
He was on his way to
We talked the whole three hours in the terminal, and we sat together on the bus and talked for two and a half more until I reached my stop. I wished I had some money to give him, but I did have a few spare 50-cent brownies from the vending machine. And he was so grateful to have them.
Saturday, January 27, 2007
“The one by the bunny pen.”
“Did it hit anything?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
I continued working for a few more minutes. Then it hit me… is that the one where the squirrels live?
I got up, put on my sweatshirt and my boots, and went outside to take a look around. Sure enough, the top of a tree had fallen off, and it was the one I had been worried about. It had been one of those trees with a hole in the trunk up toward the top, and I had often seen squirrels running up to the hole or peaking out of it.
I started looking around on the ground to see if there were any injured animals. It wasn’t long before I saw a baby squirrel. It was laying across a rock. Poor little thing. I went over to it and picked it up (squirrels do not carry rabies). As soon as I touched it, it started squeaking in a panic. It was alive!
We searched for about an hour, as the sky grew dark and the driving rain soaked us to the bone. But if we had missed one, surely it would have died of exposure and dehydration. We found 4 in all, but we searched long afterwards to make sure we looked between every fallen branch and under every bundle of oak leaves.
The first thing we needed to do was warm them. They were so cold. I got an electric heating pad and put it in a box. I put a sheet over it the pad and turned it on. The babies piled up on each other like puppies, soaking up the heat.
The web has a lot of information on caring for orphaned baby squirrels. Some of it is conflicting, but for the most part: (1) Keep them warm. (2) Keep them hydrated. (3) Try to reunite them with their mother.
I kept them for three days. I spent long afternoons reading a book out in the yard - far enough away so as not to frighten the mother, but near enough so I could watch over the box of baby squirrels I had placed at the base of the tree, hoping she would come back for them. I gave them a sugar/salt/water mixture from an eye dropper every 4 hours, even at night. I cleaned all of the fleas off of them. I checked on them all the time.
Finally, I gave in to the fact that the mother was not coming back for them. She must have gotten spooked when the tree fell. Squirrel mothers are generally extremely loyal and doting. But I was completely out of energy.
I called a local wildlife rehabilitator, and she agreed to take them in. When I delivered the box of squirrels, she said they were in fantastic shape and they would do fine. And they were just opening their eyes.
I gave her a donation toward food and supplies. Wildlife rehabbers pay for everything out of their own pockets. And now I realize what exhausting work it must be.
I’d like to try to remember her, and send her donations every once in a while. I believe in the work that she is doing and appreciate that she does it.
Friday, January 26, 2007
So my boyfriend helps him find a job at his company, and we even find an apartment for rent in our building and hook him up with that too.
Rich descends upon the west coast with two big brown suitcases full of crappy Champion sweatshirts, ripped stone-washed jeans, assorted toiletries, and magical dreams of making it big in the movie business. We take him to Nordstrom’s for a stylish silk shirt and pair of black pants, which was the required California business ensemble at the time. Oh, and a pair of new shoes.
I let him borrow my car for his first day of work. I clean out all the toddler toys and baby bottles and old Cheerios so he looks more professional. I tell him he has to leave my daughter’s car seat in the back though, because it’s a pain in the ass to take out. No problem.
So here he is, riding down Sunset Boulevard with the windows wide open, silk shirt fluttering in the wind, on his way into Hollywood for his first day on the job. The sun is shining, birds are singing, palm trees are beckoning on either side of the road, inviting him to join the masses of the sun-kissed beautiful people. Long-legged girls are walking around wearing enticing sundresses and tantalizing heels. He has found it at last: his own little slice of L.A. heaven.
This is a dream come true.
Rich is stopped at a red light at the corner of Sunset and Beverly. A red convertible something or other (hey, I’m not good with cars) pulls up on his left, and he suddenly notices that two hot chicks are smiling at him and giggling. He puffs out his chest like a western lowland silverback and then, with all due coolness, he gazes over his shoulder at his cooing admirers, lowering his Ray Bans just enough to give the lovely ladies a flirtatious wink.
This makes them squeal with delight as they drive off, their long golden locks billowing out behind them.
He is basking in the rays of pure awesomeness. Could this day get any better?
Moments later, his shiny red balloon of bliss pops, flies around the sunny sky in erratic loops and then quickly descends into the shadowy depths of the nearest storm drain.
Yes, in his school-boy excitement for his first real day in L.A., in the anticipation of what amazing possibilities are in store for him at his impressive new job, he hadn’t noticed that the CD player is blasting Barney tunes for all the world to hear.
“Clean up! Clean up! Everybody, everywhere!
Clean up! Clean up! Everybody do your share!”
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Here’s what I’ve discovered:
- Watching the sunset is a relaxing nightly ritual.
- Jerk Chicken from the hut on the beach is yummy, even though it kinda burns my mouth.
- Baby lizards half the size of your pinky enjoy hitching a ride on your warm shoulder.
- I be fond of the Jamaican accent. Ya mon.
- Little tightly wound braids are difficult to unravel from long hair.
- Reggae music is quite addicting.
- Pina colada tastes good any time of the day or night.
- The drug dealer in the boat gets irate when resort security chases him away, but he always comes back. “Pssssst! Do ya smoke ma’lady? Ganja...”
- Manta rays look very large as they glide under your raft.
- When a smooth talking Jamaican man takes me by the hand and is unwavering in his belief that I would love a wooden sculpture of a turtle, I buy a wooden sculpture of a turtle. I even buy a wooden sculpture of a rabbit. And an anklet made of beads in the colors of the Jamaican flag. I consider buying a drum and some mixed reggae CD’s made by his son who is a DJ, but I somehow manage to break free from his spell before I can completely empty my wallet into his hand.
- The addition of a wooden turtle and a wooden rabbit puts your luggage above the weight limit.
- People are happy when they’re naked, and it’s very easy to make friends with naked people (yes, I was at that resort).
- Naked is fun!
- I enjoy dressing up in crazy costumes for theme nights (and I look simply divine in a toga).
- No matter how fantastic the vacation, there’s no place like home.
One love. One heart. Let’s get together and feel alright.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
I’ve never liked them. I feel so claustrophobic in them, like I’m being strangled. I get all hot and sweaty and nauseous. And who the hell wants to look like a turtle?
When I was in nursery school, I had to stay home for a week while I was getting over the measles. Soon afterwards my school was going on a trip, and we were going to take the train to get there. I don’t recall anything about the trip. The only thing I remember was that my mother said I had to wear a turtleneck that day.
I was already dressed for school, but she sent me back to my room to change into one of these torture devices. My dear mother said I couldn’t go on the trip unless I wore it. She had me under the impression that the turtleneck would prevent me from spreading my highly contagious disease to the other children. In retrospect, I wonder if I was really over the measles at all? Maybe she just didn’t want to miss the trip. She was the chaperone, after all.
I finally went to my room, to the bottom draw of the dresser (the one that always stuck and was hard to pull out), and there they were: two pristine (read: never worn) white turtlenecks. One had delicate little yellow flowers on it, and the other had precious little pink hearts. I hated them both. I cried on the train.
I loved the 80’s. We all stretched out the collars of our oversized sweatshirts or cut them right the heck off, a la Flashdance. I stretched all my t-shirts out too. Nothing touched my tender neck. Life was good.
In college I even broke up with a very handsome boy named Benjamin because of my neck phobia. He was a good kisser. Killer blue eyes too. I was in love. We were in my dorm room, lying on my bed, talking and chatting and getting to know each other. We both liked the new song by Janet Jackson - he would say “Miss you much” when we hung up the phone. He was hot.
He said he couldn’t have anything touch under his chin. “Really? Omigod! I can’t have anything touch right here, at the base of my neck. Freaks me out.”
“Like this?” And my big, handsome, square-jawed boyfriend, he pokes the VERY SPOT, with his great big pointer finger (yes, big hands too). When I regained consciousness, I told him to get the fuck out.
Fast forward a good decade later, when I was riding in the truck with my dad. We’re discussing crappy Christmas gifts, like ugly sweaters and such. I told him I hate those socks that have individual compartments for each toe. They make my feet itchy and clammy. Freak me out. “And turtlenecks,” I say. “Turtlenecks with candy canes on them and stuff like that. A turtleneck is horrid enough without putting stupid stuff all over it.”
“Uck,” he chimes in. “I can’t stand turtlenecks. I can’t have anything touching my neck.”
So apparently this shit’s hereditary. Don’t worry, I’ll never make my daughter wear one, even if she gets the measles.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
But one warm summer night, he was lying on his back on an old weathered picnic table down at the river, talking with a friend, gazing at the stars. A bright light zipped across the entire sky and stopped on a dime, zipped in a different direction and paused, and then took off in a 3rd direction.
A few moments later, he hesitantly asked his companion, "Um.... did you see what I just saw?"
After a pause... "Um, yeah."
I've always believed that life must exist on other planets. Considering the vastness of the universe, it seems absurd and egotistical to think that we would be the only ones. And it seems so improbable.
I've always liked this quote:
"To consider the Earth the only populated world in infinite space is as absurd as to assert that in an entire field sown with millet only one grain will grow." - Metrodoros
Somewhere out there the conditions exist for life. Probability would state that it exists in many places other than our planet. Primitive life may exist in thousands of places, intelligent life perhaps in hundreds.
I wonder if they’d be more intelligent than we are? Reminds me of that song by Porno for Pyros: We’d Make Great Pets.
Friday, January 5, 2007
So as we’re riding along in the truck, Sean starts complaining that he must have gained weight because his jeans seem too tight. “Well, it is that time of year,” I tell him.
We start talking about our upcoming trip to Jamaica. He mentions again how tight the jeans are. I start to tell him about the funny thing the dog did.
But it was back to the jeans again: “I grabbed the right ones, right? Yeah, these are the new ones.”
“Yeah, they look like the new ones”
“I don’t know why they’re so tight.”
“Do you have a hard on?”
“Well then maybe you did gain weight,” I tell him. “So anyway, when I went to let Scruffy in, he just dove head first into the door. He didn’t even wait for me to open it. He just head-butted it and fell on the sidewalk.”
As I’m talking, there’s a tearing sound. The unmistakable sound of fabric ripping. I look over to see the waistband of a pair of Hanes tighty whitey’s being yanked up out of the jeans. He’s gotten it up over one arm, and he’s working on getting the other arm through.
“What are you doing?” I say this nonchalantly, as if this is a common occurrence with this guy.
He starts silently convulsing at this point. The waistband is pinning both of his arms to his sides and he’s still driving the truck. He’s trapped and doubled over in a fit of laughter.
Derek Zoolander made it look so easy. If we were to be pulled over right now, I think they could definitely pin him with a Driving While Ability Impaired. Perhaps if Sean could display a flawless Blue Steel the officer would let him go with a warning.
Yes, Blue Steel is our only hope, because Sean was wrapped in a tighty whitey straight jacket and cackling like a madman.
But with a few more tugs he finally wrenches himself free. My commando husband victoriously announces that the new jeans feel great.
We drive the rest of the way with a shredded pair of tighty whitey’s flying from the antenna.
Thursday, January 4, 2007
I made a run out to Kohl’s. They were having a really good sale on something that I really really needed. Okay, so I didn’t really need anything; I just love Kohl’s. And I wasn’t really aware of what was on sale at this particular moment, but Kohl’s always has great sales, and I felt it was important to find out what was going on over there.
So I had my purchases in hand:
- a pajamas set that consisted of a little red tank top and comfy bottoms covered with polka dots (I love polka dots)
- oversized cheap sunglasses (I love cheap sunglasses)
- a funky new necklace (I love funky necklaces)
As I mentioned, these were things I really really needed.
I found the shortest line. There was a little boy in the Kohl’s shopping cart/stroller contraption directly in front of me. He was about 4 years old, and he was facing my direction as his mother emptied her purchases out of the other side.
The child was staring and smirking a little. I smiled.
“I hate you,” he hissed at me. “I really do… I hate you.” His black eyes were narrowed and his lips were a thin tight line that slowly separated into a chilling smile. I thought his little pointer finger was going to start chanting REDRUM. Besides the fact that he appeared, in my non-expert opinion, to be the evil twin of Damien (the child from the Omen movies) he obviously had never learned:
- Respect for Elders
- The Golden Rule
- Don’t Talk to Strangers
I checked out the mom. Yes, that’s right. I blame the mother when a child is a brat. Doubly so when he’s a creepy little psychopath in training. What would possess him to speak to me that way? She looked like your average 30-40 something year old (I’m terrible with age), perhaps a little frumpy and scowling a bit. I couldn’t help but wonder what goes on in that house. How does one create such a mean and belligerent child?
I wanted to say something to her, but what would I say? Your child is speaking disrespectfully to me? Why is your son so creepy? What’s wrong with this kid? No matter how sweetly I utter the words, I just know anything I say will be taken as an insult.
I ignored her spawn lest he retaliate with a malevolent curse upon my family, or perhaps a kick in the knee.
It has been said that we each have the kind of children we deserve. So I called over to the mother, “Hey lady, you must have been a frickin’ nightmare!” I think only said it in my head actually. I don’t think she heard me.
I pretty sure Damien did, though. I broke out in hives.
Tuesday, January 2, 2007
Butchie is a yellow lab with an extensive vocabulary. There are over 100 words and phrases that he responds to. Especially words that relate to his favorite foods, like ice cream, and French fries, and pizza. But that’s not the part that really gets me. I know my mutt is smart.
There’s also the little clock in his brain, which tells him that it’s time to take Mandy to school. He’s waiting at the front door at 7:15 every morning, even on school vacation days. But not on the weekends. Never on weekends. But that’s not the part that gets me either.
The thing that really gets me is when he picks up on my thoughts. How does Butchie know I’m considering taking him out on the leash when I haven’t even summoned the ability to get my ass off the couch yet? He just stands there looking at me with those pleading eyes, wagging his tail hopefully. And it’s not like we go for a walk every day. Most days I just let him out the back door to sniff around the property. Walking on the leash is not something that he can predict.
It’s as if I can’t even entertain the thought of walking him, or taking him for a ride in the car, or getting us some ice cream unless I’m planning on following through. Because he sure knows how to work the puppy-dog eyes, and he’ll stare at me intently until I finally do it.
The other thing that gets me is when the dogs communicate with each other.
When I got married 2 years ago, Butchie got a stepbrother: a cockapoo named Scruffy.
One night we were awakened by the sound of scratching. It was Scruffy, pawing at our bedroom door to wake us up. Since he never does this, generally sleeping downstairs in the living room with Butchie, we figured he must really have to lift a leg. No one really appreciates his frequent offerings of dog pee on the hardwood floors. So this was something worth attending to.
But when we got up to let him out, there was Butchie waiting at the bottom of the staircase, looking up helplessly and panting louder than Fat Albert on a treadmill. Butchie has arthritis and cannot climb the stairs to the bedrooms. HE was the one who had the midnight emergency.
Scruffy was just the messenger. He went back to sleep.
So did Scruffy read Butchie’s mind? It’s possible of course that he simply understood Butchie’s pacing by the front door as a cry for help and did what any good brother would do. Or maybe Butch told him to go upstairs and get us.
That’s it! What if Butchie is actually planting ideas in my head? What if HE’s the one who wanted a walk, or the ride in the car, or a bowl of ice cream, and he planted the seeds in my brain??
That might explain why I keep ordering pizza.
Monday, January 1, 2007
It’s New Year’s Day, and I am home alone. My daughter slept at a friend’s house last night, my husband has already gone to work, and I am sitting here wondering what to do with this rainy cold afternoon.
I could take down the Christmas tree. It would be nice to get all of the ornaments and doodads back into the big blue bins and get the house back to normal.
I could look at that "list of ideas" (resolutions) I made for myself a few days ago. Email someone? Call a relative? Start cooking up something in my crockpot?
Nah… I’m officially declaring today a day of rest. Thank goodness for Ibuprofen.