Sunday, November 30, 2008

Once I Thought I Saw You In a Crowded Hazy Bar

Good lord, but I'm overwhelmed. I had a great weekend, I'm not saying I didn't. It just kept going and going and going. It was all great stuff, but WAY too social, and at some point today, I shut-down and napped. And everyone knows how much I heart napping. I also think I need to be placed in solitary confinement for a week, just to get over all this manic socializing I've been doing lately.

On Friday afternoon, I met my friend G. for lunch at Mickeys. He was in town from Virginia and I hadn't seen him for way to long. It was a brief lunch, but really nice. He seems happy and is in a great relationship and I'm so glad of all that. After that, I went running and then did something I swear I wouldn't - I went to the big scary maul on black Friday. It was pretty late in the afternoon, so it actually wasn't too bad, and my skin didn't even burn off or anything. Weird.

Here is a picture of some RAWK!

On Saturday, my family all descended on my house and it was loud and we did our early Christmas and ate Chinese take-out for lunch. One of my cousins was coming through town and decided to stop by with his family. It was nice, but man, I need a bigger apartment for when the family converges. Everyone was finally gone by 6'ish. I wanted to take a nap, but I had to start getting ready for the show at the Picador.

This is me and my friends and one guy I didn't know.

I putzed around and took my time, and finally made it to the show around 10. There were so many people in from out of town, and I was pretty socially overwhelmed. I had a great time. Mr. B. actually showed up and we had a good and necessary talk. DJ and her crew were there too, I didn't get to talk to them as much as I wanted. I also didn't get to take pictures of FMDM's band like I promised him I would, and I felt bad about that, but I have a good excuse.

These are my friends on PBR.

That's right. It's called the PBR tallboy. Because I was trying to save money, when I saw my friend Brooke with one of those in her hand, I figured that would be a really, really good idea. Crazy thing was, I was really really wrong. Like tequila, apparently, the PBR tallboy is never a good idea for me. So, after one of those, I was suddenly distracted and my bar ADD was on overdrive. I still had tons of fun and was very happy I made myself leave the house.

Back to today - now do you see why I needed to nap? Sure, I still ran a bunch of errands and drove the girls all over hell, but I didn't run or get groceries or a few other things I normally do on Sunday. I guess that means I'll be hitting the ground running at the beginning of this week for sure.

Friday, November 28, 2008

She Appears Composed, So She is, I Suppose

Okay. I am smack dab in the middle of a freshman in high school sleepover. As you can imagine, my brain is melting and my head is splitting open, so I'm pilfering from my old blog. Here is another one about that one guy I used to date...You know, since I was already on the subject the last couple of days. Ready?:

Earlier this week, I was talking to a friend of mine about relationships. He said he didn't think that any relationship ever truly ended. That even if you never saw that person again, you would still have a connection. The conversation got me thinking of the first boy I ever dated. Out of any of my relationships, I thought ours was the most compatible.

We were 19 when we met and for both of us, it was our first real relationship - the first time we lived with someone, the first time we moved somewhere with someone and the first time we were both willing to change plans for someone. I was still young enough, that I was sure my feelings for him could actually kill me. And he was young enough, that he couldn't admit he loved me without some kind of immediate qualifier.

"I love you...But there are many different kinds of love," he might say.

And since I was trying hard to be cool and funny about everything, (even though I wasn't fooling either of us) I would say something like, "And you love me like you love your dog?"

"Well, I wouldn't go that far. I really, really love my dog."

We broke-up when we were both 22. Neither of us had known what we were doing and we had made all of our mistakes on each other. According to my friend's theory, somewhere we still have a relationship.

I like to imagine that when we outgrew each other, we shed our old skins like snakes or cicadas. And the leftover shells of us are still together. Hopefully, at some point, I was able to get him to admit that he loved me at least as much as he loved his dog. And if he couldn't do that, then we would go through another round of shedding. Eventually, we would grow to a point where we didn't have to leave anything behind to be able to live together. I envision hundreds of husks in our wake. Would they dry-up and blow away, or would they remain, leaving a trail of our former selves? If I were a stronger person, I would follow it back and check on that fledgling shell - just to be reminded of the emotion that made love feel so terminal at that age.

Flash - Ah - Savior of the Universe

So, how was my Thanksgiving, you ask? Well, it was pretty good. Hanging out with my family didn't make us too crazy...Okay, maybe I better just speak for myself.

We ate and talked with the family and celebrated some kid birthdays we had to catch up on. Then we went home before we got too overwhelmed and tired. Too bad the big dog had to stay and tough it out.

My girls were the only older cousins who showed this year. They were outnumbered by the younger ones. Younger ones, who apparently were trained in the double light saber Ninja arts.

Poor Stinky seemed to bare the brunt of most of the Munchkin attacks.

She fought valiantly, but found herself overcome by constant, savage little people skirmishes.

Until she finally broke out her extreme wrassling maneuvers. At first she used what her uncle called a half Willie Nelson. Or was that a full Willie Nelson? Anyway, she took the ankle biters down and sent them flying, restoring order throughout the land.

Oh yeah, and there was a super cute puppy there too, so the story had a happy ending. Happy Thanksgiving.

I hope your day was full of food and well-fought battles...And cute puppies. Lots and lots of really cute puppies.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Weary Memory I Can Always See

So, do I look like someone's psycho ex-girlfriend? Wait. Don't answer that.

Okay, I know I've written a lot about my first boyfriend on here. It's not like I'm not over him or still pining or anything. It's more that he's probably the only healthy'ish relationship I've ever been in and most of my other relationships have been way more depressing to write about. I'm definitely not saying he was perfect, but he was a really good guy, and he put up with all my bullshit (and there was a lot) and even when he was grouchy, he didn't try to tear me down or take it out on me, and those are huge things. Mostly, we went through a lot of crap together from the time we were 19 until we broke-up at 22. Having said that, I would love to know what happened to him and my two best women friends from that time.

Before I went to California, I tried to google all of them, but to no avail. Many of my kind readers suggested I check Facebook, but since I didn't have one at the time, I didn't really get how it worked. Once I did figure it out, I tried, and still didn't find any of the three. I did, however, find Neal's brother on Facebook. Of course, it was the brother I never met while we were dating. He was going to college on the East Coast and our paths never crossed.

I thought about sending him a message, but it felt weird. What would I say? What if Neal thought of me as his psycho ex-girlfriend? Or what if he was married or in a relationship? I certainly wouldn't want anyone in his family to think I was stirring up shit. I hope he is happy in a healthy relationship. So, I left it.

Then, when I was going through some old photos recently, I found a few of Neal's childhood and high school pics that had gotten mixed in with mine. If it were me, I would want those back. It was also the perfect way to contact Neal's brother, hopefully without sounding like a scary stalker lady.

So, last night right before I went to bed, I sent him this:


We've never met, but I used to date your brother Neal for a couple of years in the mid-eighties.

After we lost contact, I discovered I had a few of his high school and childhood photos mixed in with mine.

If you think he'd like them, feel free to send me a post office box or address and I'd be happy to send them back his way.



And when I got to work this morning, I found this in my inbox:

Thanks Churlita. Neal will be very pleased to hear from you. I'll forward his mailing address soon. I hope all is well w/ you -Neal's brother.

Which I thought was really nice. Who knows if I'll ever hear any more. I'm sure his brother will have to talk to him to see if he thinks of me as his psycho ex or not and wants to give me an address or contact me. I guess we'll see and I'll definitely let you know if I hear from him. Whatever happens, I hope he's happy doing whatever it is he wants to do. It's what I want for all of my best friends - past and present.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Coming From Uranus to Check My Style

Here are some photos I took of my favorite art - low art at the Picador (Gabe's for all you ex-pats) beer garden.

Oh, kids. I can't even begin to express how tired I am. I've been doing the sleep-deprivation thing again. The only good thing about it, is that after a couple of days, I get kind of goofy and high from it. I sit at my desk and amuse myself by all the bizarre thoughts that come through my scary brain. It's like taking acid, but legal and I don't have that weird scalp tingling thing either.

I really love that they were smart enough to have someone (does anyone out there know who painted these?) paint the walls instead of collecting stupid drunk graffiti.

Thank the good lord that tomorrow is my last day of work this week. I wish I could spend the four days off resting and relaxing, but I have some miles to drive and some relatives to spend time with before I sleep. Here's how it's looking:

Tomorrow night, I'll just go running and then go to a store to get something for my cousin's kid's birthday. I have no other plans, except for that cleaning for an hour gig I'm still trying with varying rates of success. Yesterday, I got home from work and the city was out on the street working on the pipes. We were without water for most of the night, so I said screw it, and played video games instead. Oops

Thursday, the girls and I will head to Ottumwa to see the family. We'll drive back that evening, and depending on how I feel, I may stop by my friend K.'s Thanksgiving party. She said she would love me to come and bring some estrogen to what she is sure will be one big, testosterone filled, sausage fest

Friday will be my "get my shit together" day. I realize how delusional I'm being here. I really need a "get my shit together' century, and even that would only be a nice start. Anyway, I'm giving myself a day, and we'll see how that goes. Oh yeah, I would be VERY surprised if there was any Christmas shopping going on in my world.

Saturday my siblings should converge on my house for our annual Christmas celebration a month early. I'm sure there will be some eating and some opening of gifts involved, and then whenever they all leave, there might also be some hunting down of the remote control from wherever my three year old niece put it or where my sister hid it from said niece.

Saturday night is the annual Wanksgiving thing at the Picador. FMDM's band is playing and DJ said she was going to be there with some folks too. Mr. B. still says he's planning on showing up for it. I'm just going and having a good time no matter who shows or doesn't.

Hopefully, Sunday will be a day of rest for me. I will surely need it. Okay, lay down your holiday or resting and relaxing plans in the comments

Monday, November 24, 2008

I Can't Do the Talks, Like the Talk on the TV

Here's me in the Fall of 1985 at Standish and Hickey (hee hee) State Park right before we moved down to work at the ski resort.

Well, kids. It's late and so I'm going to steal a lovely Thanksgiving Day post from the old blog. This was written in November of 2005. It was probably the second week of blogging for me. Here it is:

It's Thanksgiving and we went down to Ottumwa, mostly to see my sister and her kids but my cousins were there too. The drive down, during the day was nice. We went through Kalona and saw a few Amish buggies trotting along. On the way home it was dark and I always stress out about the deer at night. Luckily, we didn't see any, but we did drive through a strange patch of fog. I know it was an optical illusion, but it looked like there was a big truck in front of us that just stopped in the road. I slowed way down and then realized that there was nothing there. Coadster saw it too and she is still sure it was some kind of apparition. She always thinks everything is haunted and to her it is totally logical that a Southeast Iowa ghost trucker would appear before us and then vanish.

Anytime I go on a roadtrip with my sister she asks me to make top ten lists or she has me tell her what my favorite thing, experience, person or whatever is. Especially when she's tired because it keeps her awake while she's driving.

So, while I was driving home and afraid I would nod off, I made myself think of what my favorite Thanksgiving was. I could think of plenty of shitty Thanksgivings I've had but I think my favorite one was when I was twenty. The guy I was going out with at the time and I had just moved to Big Bear Lake, California and gotten jobs at Snow Summit Ski Resort. We had previously been working for the California Conservation Corps up in Northern California, where we only got paid once at the beginning of the month and had to wait another week for our last checks. We had almost no money and were staying at our friend's parent's Summer cabin until we could get our own place. Earlier in the day, we took the shuttle van to the store and spent the last of our money on frozen eggrolls. It had just snowed and so we holed up in the cabin and ate our eggroll feast and watched The Twilight Zone marathon that was on one of the channels we were able to pick up from Los Angeles. At the time, we kept laughing at how pathetic we were, but now it feels like the perfect way to spend the holiday.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I Wanna Be Free to Know the Things I Do Are Right

My favorite bartender S. giving us a flash. After I harped him into it.

So, hey. What do you know? This weekend was almost perfect. All except for the part where I'm still broke, but luckily I live here where everything is cheap and most of the people are generous.

On Friday night, I stayed home like I said. I got some drunk texts from guys at the Dublin. Apparently, it was one of the bartenders birthday and they were trying to get people to come down to play. There was no way in hell I was going to leave my couch, except to transport Stinky and her friend to their social event and back.

I had tons of alone time on Saturday afternoon. Stinky had basketball practice and then she went to a friend's house for most of the day. I did very little of anything. I ran outside and even though it was cold, I came back so much happier than when I left.

On Saturday evening, I dropped Stinky off at another friend's house to play cards and spend the night. I made it to my the mojito party a little later than I wanted, but then I usually do. It was fun and much like what I expected. My friend Sara made some very strong but very kick-ass drinks. I didn't have a mint julep, and I only had one mojito, but as I've said many times before, I don't have much tolerance, so even one drink got me loopy. I talked to a couple of professors that I knew. One was a film production instructor and her husband taught photography classes.

G. had called me before I left to tell me that she and D. were heading to the Dublin. I told her I'd sneak down for a drink in between my two other things. It was pretty slow, since most of the students have already left for the holiday. The people who were there were great. At one point I tried to badger my favorite bartender into flashing us his undershirt. For some reason, he was being all coy, so I said, "Just shut-up and do it, bitch." And then he obliged. Instantly, some woman approached us about joining the new roller derby team they were starting in Iowa City. G. and I thought it was hilarious. I said, you're just asking us because we're loud, tough bitches. She basically said, duh.

Sam bending Ed's ear for a tick.

I finally made it to the thing at The Mill. It was nice acoustic music and a lot of people I knew. After about an hour, I was more than ready to go. The Mojito was still kicking my ass. Luckily, one of the guys who goes to Supper Club was there and drove me and K. and her boyfriend A. home.

Today was so wonderful. Originally, I thought I'd spend most of the day cleaning in preparation for my sibings visit on Saturday. But then Coadster came home, and I picked up Stinky. The weather was amazing, so I ran my six mile route and when I got back, both of the girls were saying how they would love to see the movie Twilight. I realized that it was the first day in forever that the three of us were all home together. So, even though my house needed to be cleaned and I don't exactly have a ton of extra money, I said fuck it, and we went. I figured the mess would still be there when we got back, and we all needed a fun, relaxing day together. Damned if I wasn't right. We got back and the mess was there waiting for us, right where we left it.

I decided to do this new thing this week. I'm going to clean for an hour a day and see what gets done. I'll have all day Friday to finish it all up. I'll let you know how it worked.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

It's Like a Kind of Torture to Have to Watch the Show

You know how when you mix all of your paints together, they combine to make a weird shit brown color? Well, I'm going to attempt to put a couple of different blog projects together today and see if it turns to shit too. Sound good?

First of all, the Saturday Scavenger Hunt word today was chosen by the Woman With no Regrets. She chose Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. I wasn't quite sure what to do with that, but then I found a friend on Facebook and remembered that I had written a post about him on my old blog. That's when I decided to mix the Scavenger hunt with my imaginary Facebook letters to people with my stealing posts from my old blog. I figured that word reminded me of being a kid and I would just post a photo (unfortunately not taken by me) that also reminded about something from childhood, that just so happened to go with the other two things. Exhale. Okay, so here's the post I wrote in February of 2006 about my friend Jim:

At work yesterday, we got on the subject of Fraggle Rock. You know how it is at work when everyone starts talking about Fraggle Rock, right? And then we had to move straight to The Muppet Show and everyone did their Beaker and The Swedish Chef impersonation and then we all realized what an unhealthy environment the office was in general. Next I wondered how I'd ever get through the next couple of hours until I got another brilliant idea and emailed my friend Rachie and asked her to kindly walk over and shoot me in the head but she didn't oblige. I'm sure she was only thinking of herself and how she couldn't go to prison AND grad school at the same time. She's so selfish.

Once I finally resigned myself to being stuck in the office for the next hour or so, I figured the only way to deal with it was to crack myself up. Talking about The Muppets reminded me of a time about a hundred million years ago when I was walking in downtown Iowa City right as the Spring football game was getting over and there were tons of people headed toward the bars. A guy I worked with at The Mill named Jim must have been walking directly behind me and thought it would be really funny to yell, "Hey, bitch! Excuse me whore." I'm sure he imagined that I would turn around and we'd both have a good laugh in front of all the bumble bee colored Hawkeye fans. He didn't count on my boundless sense of humor (apparently, no one ever does).

I thought it would be funny to pretend I didn't know him and so I ignored him and the huge pack of people were looking at him all shocked like he was the biggest asshole they had ever seen - and that was coming from a bunch of drunk people walking back from a football game. He tried one more time, because maybe I just hadn't heard the first two names he called me. "Slut! Slow down!" Which only made me speed up. He finally had to run to catch up to me so everyone who already shunned him would know that he really did know me and was only being funny. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha fuckin' ha.

"Oh my god. You are so mean," Jim said when he caught up to me. "You really are a bitch. I never wanted to tell you this before because it's not very nice, but now you've forced me. You know when you walk, you look exactly like Janice from Animal's band on the Muppet Show. Not your face or hair or anything. It's more the way you guys move. Have you seen how she bobs her head and her hair moves with it? Oh, and she slouches just like you do too. That's what you look like when you walk."

So, now every once in a while when I'm walking down the street and I catch my reflection in a store window, I think, "Fuck. I really do look like Janice from Animal's band when I walk." I guess Jim had the last laugh on that one. Although, he moved to Chicago a long time ago and doesn't know I still do that so maybe we'll just call it a draw.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Cold Comfort of the In Between

Here is a photo of a truck that drove down Iowa Avenue one day. I think it's very Iowan, don't you?

Damn, but it's hard to blog on Friday night. Even when I don't go out. Really, all I want to do is, lounge around and stare at stuff. I'm glad I'm not going out, or would be the boringest person at the bar. Which may not be any different than any other night I go out, but I'm usually a little less brain dead on Saturday night.

Speaking of Saturday night...I think I might just go out after all tomorrow. K. wanted me to go to the Mill and see some people we know play music. I told her I was broke, so I.M. told me she'd see if she could get me on the guest list. Then my friend Sara invited me to a party on Iowa Avenue where they are supposedly making pitchers of mojitos and mint juleps. I have a feeling it could be full of artsy grad students, but that would be interesting too.

Okay, kids. That's all I can do tonight. RAWK!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I Tell You Something, I Know What You're Thinking

Here is a picture I took of a guy walking his bike across the street in Chinatown in San Francisco. As usual, it has nothing to do with my post. I just like the photo.

As far as I know, I don't have anything going on this weekend, so I think the easiest thing to do tonight, is to just talk about a boy.

The last time I talked to him, he said he had been playing the American Idol video game with his son and his brother's family. He had a bit to drink, but nothing too bad. He said the first song he sang was Billy Joel's "Still Rock and Roll to Me" and he had rocked it. He was facetiously beating himself up for getting cocky and thinking he could sing Earth, Wind and Fire's "September". He loved that song, he had said, but he ruined it because he couldn't hit the high notes. I told him he should have had someone punch him the balls. He said he wished he had thought of that.

He talked and talked and talked and said all those things he had been saying for too long, but never acting on. I asked him what he wanted from me, really. He said he wanted everything. He wanted a relationship. I wasn't buying it, because I had heard it all before. I might have been born at night, but not last night. I told him that it had almost been a year. It was ridiculous to try and have a relationship with someone if you only saw them once a month, once a year wasn't even a friendship. He said to give him three weeks. He said by then things would calm down. He'd be done with his probation at his new job, get a raise and finally be able to quit his second job. In three weeks, everything would be better.

I wasn't stupid. I didn't count on it. I even vowed not to contact him, if he didn't contact me. And he didn't contact me that whole three weeks. On the weekend where everything was supposed to work out, I didn't hear from him. My friend K. did though. He called her and left her a voice mail message of him singing "Rio" by Duran Duran. K. said she thought he was really singing it to me but he was too scared to call me. I said, whatever.

After six weeks, he still hadn't contacted me, and I was pretty much over it. After two months, I didn't really think about him that much anymore.

Then this Sunday, K. told me he texted her to say he'd be here for the Wanksgiving show at the Picador, the Saturday after Thanksgiving (exactly a year since the first and only time I ever saw him). She texted him right back to ask him if he let me know that. He said he didn't think I'd care. I told K. I'd text him to find out what the hell was going on.

I sent him a text that said, "So, were you just going to be a punk ass bitch and not tell me u might come 4 Wanksgiving?"

Him: We haven't talked in a while n I haven't been reliable in the past so I figured you wouldn't give a shit.

Me: I'll always give a shit. I just know better than 2 expect 2 much.

Then he didn't text me back. I waited a couple of hours and still no response. I needed to know what he was expecting when he came to visit. I texted him again. I told him I hoped we could still be friends and that I hoped he wouldn't be weird to me, because I wasn't going to be weird to him.

He texted back and said: No weirdness. Everthing's cool.

Me: Good. If u actually show, Itll b great 2 c u.

Him: Smart ass. I deserved that.

Then we texted back and forth some more until I told him I had to go. I think I will be okay just being friends with him. It could be really good to see him one last time, a year after we met, to close the other bullshit up and start being just friends.

My friend K. said if she were me, she'd dress to kill and bring a date, preferably the 28 year old guy who's had a crush on me for six months'ish. I told her, that while I'm not above making a guy eat his heart out, I don't like to play games with people's feelings. So, I'm thinking I'd dress to kill and not bring a date.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

And I Warn You Now, The Velocity I'm Gathering Will Knock You Down

It looks as if I'm running out of photos to use for the blog. I'm such a wuss about the cold, that I don't get out like I was doing when it was warm and nice out.

Today after work was crazy busy. I thought about trying to run, but I didn't have a lot of time before supper club, so I wimped out. Instead I finally finished The Book Thief. I started and stopped reading that book for over a year. I'm not sure why, I liked it, it was just that I'd set it down and something would come up and then I'd forget I was reading it, and then I'd get back to it, and something else would come up...Anyway, now it has officially been read, and I may just go back to another novel, I've been the same thing with - White Teeth, by Zadie Smith. I also have George Saunder's CivilWarLand in Bad Decline to read. I guess I'll just have to see what kind of mood I'm in tomorrow.

We went to The Hilltop for cheese fries for Supper Club tonight. They were greasy, good and cheap. Just how I like 'em.

I got home in time to help Coadster get ready for her trip to Ames, Iowa tomorrow. She leaves school in the afternoon and will stay in a hotel with the other All-State kids until their concert on Saturday night. We all went to see her last year, but this year, her dad is the only one going. It's just not fair to make Stinky hang around for 12 hours on Saturday again.

It will be just me and Stinky for the next few days. It's weird to think that in a year and a half, it will be just me and Stinky wandering around our apartment all the time. I can't imagine it.

Both of these photos were taken on Halloween. I couldn't tell if this woman was wearing a costume or some kind of decorative hair ornamentation.

Tomorrow night should be another busy one. I'm going to try to run, make dinner and then take Stinky to basketball practice. While she's there, I'll meet some friends to watch the Steelers at The Vine until Stinky's done with practice. Then I'll stop by and do a cameo at the bowling alley for my friend John's birthday. I can't stay long, but I at least want to flip him a bunch of shit and make fun of him, so he knows I'm still his friend. It is his birthday after all.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

When You Were Just a Young Girl and Still in School

Here's a photo of a weird 70's looking building where the Cambus stops by the Rec Building. Of course, this photo has nothing to do with my post.

I have been a bad sleeper lately. So, tonight I'm working extra special hard at getting my ass in bed at a decent hour. Hopefully, tonight I won't get a drunken text sent out to everyone on his phone by my friend C. letting us know he's coming to town on Thursday night, like I did last night at one in the morning. Jaysus, Mary and Joseph. Oh yeah, so in the interest of an earlier bedtime, I'm posting another thing from my old blog. It's kind of a companion piece to my list of cheesy 70's music from last night. There is one little change I will add to it, I've had some nightmares in the last couple of years since I wrote this.

This was originally written in April of 2006:

When I was a kid I was terrified of everything. At an early age, I was scared of the Wizard of Oz (especially that one scene - you know, where Auntie Em turns into the witch in the crystal ball?). Then I was afraid of the Vietnam war. After a while, my mom wouldn't let me watch the news because it freaked me out so much. They kept showing little kids all bloody and crying. I also thought that every clock I heard was a ticking bomb.

Then when I was about 7 or so, The Exorcist came out. Everything about it terrified me. The commercials were torture and the soundtrack...Oh my god, Tubular Bells made me want to buy a new umbilical chord and reattach myself to my mother. For years after, I had horrible nightmares about the devil. They were always the same. In my dream, I would be possessed by the devil and then realize I was in a dream and think I woke up, but I was really still asleep and then satan would hold me down and cover my mouth so no one could hear me scream.

It was partly my fear and partly my hyper-spazziness (I'm pretending this is a word), that kept me from sleeping when I was younger. I would lie in my room and hear my mom out in the living room either painting and listening to music or too tired to do anything but stare at the TV. As long as she was awake, I was fine. After she went to sleep, then Linda Blair, the Viet Cong and satan could all get at me. Most nights I would be so scared, I'd end up sleeping in my mom's room anyway.

In college I finally saw The Exorcist for the first time and I did think it was scary. But then I watched the second one and it was so cheesy and laughable that it took some power away from the original. Plus, the fact that Linda Blair dated both Rick Springfield and Rick James made me feel more sorry for her than frightened of her (it also steered me away from dating anyone named Rick).

Even as an adult, I still had the scary devil dreams. They were almost exactly the same ones I had when I was eight. Then when I was 31, I got divorced and became a single parent. I was always the last one awake in the house after that, but somewhere in there I stopped having nightmares. I can't even remember the last time I had one. I'm not sure what changed, but I'm totally cured of them. I'm still frightened of things - right now, the tornado sirens are my biggest fear...I'm also ascairt of boys, but unfortunately, none of them have kept me up all night for a long time.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Because There's Good in Everyone and a New Day Has Begun

Here's another recycled picture of me in the 70's. Look at that lovely gold velvet chair and that paneling behind me. Pretty.

So, I have this friend who foolishly told me he secretly liked pop songs from the 70's and 80's. I asked him if he wanted me to make him some mix CD's of that kind of music and he said, "yes, please." I bet after he gets some of this music, he'll never ask again. Most of the Mixes are already made, so it will just be a matter of burning them. I did make another one for him tonight.

I know I've mentioned over and over again how when I was a kid, I had a hard time sleeping and so my mom let me listen to the radio to block the scary noises that I would hear and was sure were bad guys trying to get me. In the 70's late night radio included a lot of the more mellow, singer songwriter stuff of the decade. It was my comfort music. Just in case you're wondering, I know that most people think this music is bad and wrong. I get that, but to me it was my best friend and savior in the wee hours of the morning when everyone in my house was asleep and I would enter the darker places in my brain.

So, here's my scary list. Feel free to hate me all you want:

1. "How Long" - Ace.

2. "Year of the Cat" - Al Stewart. My sister actually owned this album and if I worked at it, I could probably remember the lyrics to every song.

3. "Ventura Highway" - America. "Horse With No Name" was a bigger song when I was a kid, but for some reason, I don't own that song. Oh yeah, I remember why now - it's annoying. "Ventura Highway" was part of my fantasy of growing up and moving to Southern California and living the life I imagined my Malibu Barbies must live after I put them away in my closet.

4. "The Courtship of Eddie's Father Theme Song" - unknown artist. While this technically isn't a song that was played on the radio, it was one of my comfort shows when I was a kid.

5. "Ode to Billie Joe" - Bobbie Gentry. Didn't they make a movie about this song with Robby Benson in it, or did I just dream that? I'm sure I had a lot of interesting dreams about Robby Benson in the late 70's.

6. "Superstar" - The Carpenters. Mr. B. once told me that he loved both Olivia Newton John and Karen Carpenter. I understood Olivia Newton John, because almost every guy I know who's in his mid-thirties seems to have a crush on her, but Karen Carpenter? His response was, "She plays the drums and she has that voice." Okay, I guess I kind of get it now.

7. "How Can I Tell You" - Cat Stevens. I'm a huge Cat Stevens fan and Todd Totale was just talking about this song on his Glam Racket Blog.

8. "King of the Road" - Roger Miller.

9. "Rhiannon" - Fleetwood Mac. This song reminds me of when we first moved to the Chicago area and my sister and I had to take turns sleeping on the floor. I would listen to WLS at night on my sister's portable radio with a built-in record player.

10. "Wichita Lineman" - Glen Campbell.

11. "Sara Smile" - Hall and Oates. For some reason, guys want to sing this song to me, even though my name starts with a T and is pronounced like star. I guess it's because the only other song with my name, is by the Knack and not that many people know it.

12. "Fire and Rain" - James Taylor.

13. "Miracles" - Jefferson Starship. It seems like this band got worse and worse with every name change. By the time they were just Starship, they stunk so bad I couldn't even stand to listen to them. But I do love this song.

14. "Operator (That's Not the Way it Feels)" - Jim Croce.

15. "Rocky Mountain High" - John Denver. I don't think we need to get into my childhood obsession with John Denver again, do we?

16. "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" - Paul Simon. There was a time right before junior high started where I would hear this song and fantasize about moving to New York and being cool and hip and funny like the Saturday Night Live people.

17. "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" - Steely Dan.

18. "Lorelei" - Styx. Because we lived in the South suburbs of Chicago in junior high, I don't think I could make it through a day without hearing Styx in the late seventies.

19. "Chico and the Man Theme Song" - Jose Feliciano. This show used to come on on Friday nights. My mom would get paid that day and we'd go grocery shopping at Smitty's and come home and watch it. I loved Friday nights back then.

20. "Summer" - War.

There ought to be enough ear worms in there for one post.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

In The Air I'm Sensing a Change in the Weather

My girl crush's dancing shoes, retired for the night.

Sooo, the rest of this weekend. What about it? Well, it was a lot of things. A lot of good things, a lot of mellow things and then some confusing things that I'm still trying to sort out.

I forgot to tell you on the Friday post, that I never got to hook up with the karaoke machine. Which is okay. I had enough fun without it.

On Saturday, I got the girls to work and back. Of course, I wasn't working on much sleep, but I soldiered on. My sister called to tell me that she and her family were on there way to see us, and we all went out for lunch. I got my three year old niece to tell me several times to quit copying her. So, I figured my little kid harassment duties were completed for one day.

By Saturday evening, I was exhausted. I finally took a nap by around 7 and didn't wake up until around 10. I got some texts from friends about fun things happening out and about town, but I was in for the night.

I watched a DVD of Tropic Thunder. I think it was one of those movies where I heard too much hype, but I wasn't all that impressed. The beginning was pretty funny and Tom Cruise was really great, but I didn't love it.

I stayed up too late talking on the phone, so I got a late start on Sunday. I took the girls to the mall and then came back home to go running. It's harder to get out there and run when it's cold out, but once I do, I feel a million times better. There's something about defying the elements in the Winter and getting regular exercise, that helps my mood like nothing else. I started out so pissy, and thinking of excuses to run my shorter route, but by the time I hit the two or three mile mark and my iPod played Queen and David Bowie's "Under Pressure", followed by The Hollies "Bus Stop", Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" Tom Petty's "I Need to Know" and Vampire Weekend's "A-Punk", I was ready to run for hours.

When I got home, I had a voice mail message from my friend K. They were all at my friend J.'s house watching the Steelers play. It was great. There were wings and enchiladas and this vanilla pudding with bananas and nilla wafer dessert dish. Mmmmm. Best of all, the Steelers won again.

I guess now, I should go get ready for work tomorrow. Let's relive our fun weekends in the comments as a way to get through Monday. 'Kay?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right

The Saturday Scavenger Hunt Word was chosen by K_Sara. She chose the word lacuna. Here's the definition for all you all: 1. An empty space or a missing part; a gap.

My first photo was from San Francisco when we walked from the financial district to Chinatown. The only real gap between buildings in the city are streets and alleys. That's the problem I've had when I lived in cities before - that space never seemed big enough for me.

Here's me walking through a downed tree in King's Canyon. The insides were gone, so we were able to walk through the missing part of the tree. It almost looks like a gigantic key hole, doesn't it?

Here is a row of fencing creating lacunae. Usually focusing on the absence of a thing can be bad, but with fences, the gaps can mean freedom.

She's Got Legs, but She Forgot How to Use 'Em

Well, shit, kids. It looks like I done fucked up the whole NaBloMe thing already this month. Did I even make it halfway through? Hell, who knows. What I do know, is that I had a lot working against me.

First of all, I wore these polka dot tights out tonight. Do these tights look like the kind of things you'd wear if you seriously thought you'd get home by midnight to blog? No, they certainly do not.

Secondly, my girl crush was in town. What? Did you expect me to leave the dance party early? Impossible.

Then, not only did Poptart come to town, I had a special guest appearance from the frozen tundra that is the UP of Michigan. That's right, Rachie drove down too. That brings the tally to Three fun friends visiting.

Here's Poptart being so cute that I don't want to go home early. I blame her.

We also had a lot of hair learnin' to do. Did you know this guy puts Elmer's glue in his mohawk to keep it perky like that?

Plus, the bartender chicks were totally hot and who wouldn't want to stay a little longer to talk to them? No one, that's who.

And what of the guys?

I think the guys seemed to really dig me. I would hate to disappoint them by depriving them of my presence. I'm not a total asshole.

So, yeah. I screwed up and now I'm not officially a NaBloMe participant, but I think I'll still keep trying to blog everyday for the rest of the month anyway. Maybe next Friday night I won't have so many obstacles in my way. Maybe.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Music Can Be Such a Revelation

Here are three pics of the same thing, just closer and closer up. First we see the metal locker looking things from a distance.

So, this afternoon I got hit with a migraine. I hadn't had one for a while and I think their absence made me cocky and not nearly cautious enough. I ignored the signs until it was too late, and then, BLAM! Next thing I knew I was practically running home from work, so I could take my meds and lie down long enough to let them work. I'm lucky because I have meds that work. Yes, I missed running at the rec building tonight because of my brain pain, but after an hour, I was able to get up and make dinner and clean my kitchen and bathroom and take Coadster to jazz choir practice and listen mostly, but sometimes do a good job pretending to listen to Stinky prattle on about basketball practice and what dress she wants to wear to the Winter formal and her plans for the weekend. And for all that, I'm thankful.

Then closer.

I'm also thankful that my migraine hit me tonight instead of tomorrow. Want to know why? Well, I'm going to tell you anyway. On Friday, not only is my girl crush coming to town, but Poptart is coming to visit from Chicago. I am so excited for those two to meet and to bring Poptart down to The Dublin to join in all of our shenanigans. I know she'll fit right in.

I'm not sure what the whole plan is, but whatever it is, it should be fun. On Tuesday night, my friend J. instant messaged me to ask me if I left a karaoke machine on her porch. I told her if I had a karaoke machine, I would keep that damn thing for myself. As far as I know, they still don't know who left it, but I'm sure we can put that thing to good use tomorrow night after we get home from downtown. I'm just going to share a little secret with you right now. I've never done karaoke before in my life - ever. I don't know why, it's not like I would ever try to avoid it. I think karaoke has just been avoiding me. It probably knows how obnoxious I can get, and it doesn't want to encourage me. I'll let you know if karaoke and I finally hook-up this weekend.

Then, even closer still. I don't know why I'm so fascinated by different perspectives of the same damn thing, but I am.

The last time Poptart came into town was two years ago. She just happened to show up on the weekend where Coadster had her first show choir performance in the afternoon and then there was the What a Load of Craft show at the Picador and The Santa Crawl all over downtown. She even stayed on Sunday and went with me and the girls when we chopped down our Christmas tree and then went with to see our cheesy girl movie. Sadly, this weekend won't be quite so action packed. Although, Poptart is good at giving and taking drunken dares when we go out, so I know we'll still have a blast.

And your weekend? Does it include drunken dares and karaoke, or are you above all that?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Oh, You Cuss Around Women and You Don't Even Know Their Names

Here are a couple of scenic shots I took by the hospital.

Okay, if you read my blog at all, you can't be surprised that I'm a total lame-ass. Tonight, I'm tired. I didn't sleep very well last night for no reason in particular, and I've decided to lean on my new favorite crutch these days and put up another post from the other blog. This one was written in January of 2006 when Coadster was in 8th grade and it's a bit of a rant. Shocking, I know. Anyway, here we go:

I kind of have a thing for water towers. For some reason, I find them interesting.

Since I've been talking about lists the last few posts, I figured I'd add one more thing. Actually, I wasn't talking about lists per se - I was talking more about why I don't make lists but then I made a couple and so now I'm worried people may start calling me organized and screwing up my whole M. O. What's next? Will people start calling me tidy or girlie or rich and forcing me to start a campaign directing them to the picture in the previous post where I was wearing chaps and running a chain saw to dispel the evil rumors?

So, on with this topic of lists which happens to be very timely in my house. Some kids in my daughter's class compiled one of those horrible lists that have probably existed since the beginning of time. It named off about 2o of the girls in 8th grade and attempted to cut them down. Instead of the crumpled piece of paper that went from sweaty hand to sweaty hand in my school, this kid used a blog site called the "bitch site" to post all the disses. In true junior high form, each girl listed had something wrong with them; either they were hot but crazy or cool but ugly. Any well endowed girls were accused of stuffing their bras, some girls were described as fugly and the worst were the girls that were "fat fugly bitches who smelled bad". Coadster was on there. She was described as ok but ugly. I told her that was bullshit. Guys in junior high will call a girl ugly because they think it's the worst insult they can give. She was just surprised anyone knew her well enough to add her to the list at all.

I did control myself from saying, "Coadster, you tell those boys that they're shallow stupid assholes with low self-esteem. You let them know that you're mom thinks you're beautiful and they should all go straight to hell!" I really wanted to say it, but I knew that if I did, Coadster would roll her eyes so hard that they would never come back down and we'd only see the whites for the rest of her life. Instead I said, "Don't give them any power by posting a response. If everyone ignored them, they'd stop because it wouldn't be any fun." She promptly disregarded everything I said and spent a half hour composing a scathing comment on their site. I'm sure I would have done much worse if I were her age.

They didn't tear the guys apart individually but instead made a list entitled, "Gay Ass Faggots" and put about ten boy's names under it. I'm not sure if the "gay ass" part was supposed to be as opposed to "straight ass faggots" or if the guys on the list had heterosexual arms and legs and only their asses were gay. If I hadn't already told Coadster not to comment, I might have left one myself to ask for clarification. Then I thought about entitling my own blog post, "Lists and the gay ass faggots who make them" but I didn't want someone who didn't know me to think I was serious. I don't really think that way, I just make fun of people who do.

The thing that kills me about all of this is that the whole listing off of the ugly bitches and sluts in junior high has existed forever. I'm sure that some of those early cave drawings were really pictures of the fugly fat Cro-Magnon bitches who smelled bad. Will we ever evolve away from that kind of shallow, insecure tearing apart of our peers in junior high? Sure, now they use a blog instead of a crumpled piece of paper, but the sentiment is still unchanged. So, really all we've done is created better devices in which to dispense the same, stale, cruel, pubescent torture.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I Was Working as a Waitress in a Cocktail Bar

Here is my friend Jeff's profile picture on Facebook. It could possibly be the best profile pic ever.

Tonight I'm going to start this new thing. Who knows if I'll ever finish it, but I like to at least start things. So, I'm still obsessing over Facebook. If you'd like to tell me I need a life, you'll have to get in line, and believe me, it's longer than you can imagine. The thing that's so crazy about Facebook, is how many people from almost every part of my past are on it. I told my friend K. she should get on it, and then a friend of hers from high school emailed her about it, and once she did, she realized they had a whole group just for people from her high school class.

So, the thing. Remember I said I was going to start a thing? Okay, what I really want to do, is write little notes to each of these people (some I haven't spoken to in well over twenty years) and tell them the things I remember about them, or miss about them or the thing I got from them that really made a difference in my life. Yes, I know. Actually doing that, would be weird and possibly creepy. So, I decided to take a person here or there and write all those things about them here on my blog, where they probably won't ever see it. Is it still weird and creepy? Yes, but hopefully they'll never find out.

The first one I'm going to write about is my friend Jeff. Ready?

Dear Jeff,

I can't remember the first time I met you. I knew your sister Tam and then when I moved back from California, we started hanging out and along with our friend Lia, were almost inseparable for a few years there. We had a class together, taught by the most boring man I've ever met. We were both at about the same spazzy, ADD levels, so we decided to take turns going to class and then sharing notes. Except, you never went, so I would go and share my notes with you and then you'd lame-out and finally, I just went all the time and gave you my notes. I couldn't even be annoyed with you.

Hey, remember that one time they had the Kurt Vonnegut hoax? I don't think he lived in town anymore, but he came back to visit a lot. Then there were suddenly fliers all over town that he was going to give a reading on the Pentacrest. We skipped our classes and hung around for a couple of hours, before we and however many other hundreds of people realized we had been duped and Kurt wasn't showing. We both appreciated the prank and you said next time you were going to do one, but you'd tell everyone that Judy Blume was going to read from Are You There God? It's Me Margaret instead. I told you I'd still skip classes for that and you told me I better.

You were also there the time I swallowed mace. Earlier in the day, my friend Mary Beth, showed me her key chain and asked me if I wanted some Binaca. Then later that night when we were really drunk at the Foxhead, I was thinking that I hadn't tried Binaca in a long time and sprayed what turned out to be mace directly into my mouth. Yeah. Tears instantly came out of every pore and orifice on my face. Craig was tending bar and there was a cute girl ahead of me, so I knew I was never going to get a glass of water from him. I went outside where it was 20 below zero, and you followed. You tried to act all concerned, but the second you saw that I was not only fine, but laughing through my tears, you said, "Oh thank god. Because I didn't want you to see me laughing my ass off if you were really hurt." I was fine 10 minutes later and then someone drove us to Donutland in Coralville where you continued to tease me about it for the rest of the night while we ate chocolate fudge donuts.

We both graduated in December of 1990. I think you, and Mary Beth Eastwood and I were all putting our English BA's to good use slinging coffee for minimum wage. At that point, we lived across the street from each other and you and Mary Beth used to come over in the afternoon and lament our joblessness together. We used to sing "Don't You Want Me" to our potential employers at the top of our lungs on my back steps.

The last time I saw you, was when you came to town shortly after I split from my husband. I told you why, and you said, "I knew it had to be something bad. You usually put up with more shit than anyone I know." I'm sure it was true. My girls were three and five, and you had never met them before. You got them so spazzed and riled up, I didn't think I'd ever get them to sleep after your visit.

When your sister came to town a few years ago, she talked me into riding the last day of RAGBRAI with her. You just wrote on my wall and told me you were coming to visit me next Summer. I can't wait to see what kind of crazy, spastic shit you'll get me and my daughters into then.



Monday, November 10, 2008

If You Don't Expect Too Much From Me, You Might Not Be Let Down

Here is a little old bug in a very large parking lot.

I've got two things tonight. Let's see how mercifully short I can make this.

2.) Remember when I told you about how my friend K. tried to pick-up a guy for me on Friday night, but wasn't very successful? Okay, so then this morning, I'm walking to work when I get a text from her that says something like, "OMG. I think the failed pick-up guy is in the paper today."

When I finally get a chance to check, I see that not only is it the same guy, but he is a teacher at my daughters' school and worked on a movie with my ex-husband. Awesome. I was laughing at lunch with a co-worker about how annoying this town can be that way, and she said, "Well, if he's one of your daughter's teachers, I bet student teacher conferences could be pretty interesting."

"Yeah, " I said. "I'd walk in the door and he'd say, 'I was going to talk to you about some of the problems I've been having with your daughter, but now that I see who her mother is, I think she's doing surprisingly well under the circumstances.'"

My co-worker then tried to get all silver lining on me and responded, "At least your life is funny..."

"Yes, and if it gets any funnier, I may have to develop a drug habit."

2.) On Friday night, I was getting ready to go to the store to pick-up a few things and I asked Coadster if she wanted a treat while she watched her movie. She told me she did and in this really hokey, down-on-the-farm kind of voice told me she would like "some kettle poppin' corn." Something about her saying it that way, instead of calling it popcorn, made me a little crazy. I did that thing I do when I get grossed-out where I scratch my head with both hands to try to reach my brain.

"What was that for?" Coadster asked.

"I don't know. For some reason, you saying 'poppin' corn' just really bugged me. Aren't there any things that people say that make you irrationally crazy at all?"

"When Stinky says, 'for cereal' instead of 'for serious'? That kind of thing? Yeah, that drives me crazy," Coadster said.

"See? It's like the word 'moist' too. That's another one."

Stinky was listening in and said, "Moist? That drives you crazy? Really?" Then, of course, it was made very clear to me exactly why I should never have reavealed one of my weaknesses to my two teenaged daughters, "So, Coadster. What did you want from the store again?'

"You know, just some poppin' corn... Actually, I'd really love some moist poppin' corn..." Coadster answered.

"Seriously, you guys have to stop."

"What? Coadster just said she wanted some moist poppin' corn. What's wrong with that? In fact, I think I might want some moist poppin' corn too. Mmmmm, moooiiist..."

Now, what was I saying earlier in this post about developing a drug habit?

Sunday, November 09, 2008

I Ain't The Worst That You've Seen

So, in addition to bathrooms and fire escapes and old barns, I also like to photograph train tracks.

Friday night was fun and all, but I was still sick, even though I tried to pretend I wasn't. I had the worst sore throat ever when I woke up on Saturday morning and I was weak, weak, weak. I dropped the girls off at their job and I went straight back to bed and slept until after one in the afternoon. Jaysus, but that was a lot of sleeping. The rest of the day for me involved more sleeping and lying around. Luckily, the weather cooperated and was sufficiently cold and shitty, that I didn't even have to feel bad about not leaving my house or changing out of my jammies the whole day.

Here are the tracks for that passenger train that goes to Kinnick Stadium.

Around 3:30'ish the girls came home from work and they were freezing after standing outside for however many hours hawking Hawkeye stuff. Coadster went straight to her room to take a nap, but Stinky wasn't quite that tired yet. The friend of mine who burned those movies for me, also gave me a gallon jug of really good apple cider, so I made Stinky and myself some toast and heated some cider and put cinnamon sticks in it and we did some lying on my bed with lots of comforters and watched the first Adams Family movie together. Then she fell asleep.

Here are the stairs closer up that lead to the parking lot at Kinnick. I guess I should also mention our win to Penn State this weekend. The kids in town seemed to be really excited about it.

On Saturday night I was still sick, so I made some soup and had more hot cider and watched The Hulk movie with Edward Norton and Liv Tyler. I never saw the other Hulk movie, so I don't know what that was like, but this one seemed a lot like the series from the 70's. I loved that show and Bill Bixby. There was even a scene where Ed Norton was watching The Courtship of Eddie's Father on TV and Lou Ferrigno played a security guard at one point too. Very cool.

Here are the steps on which to board said train.

Today was a little better, but I still wasn't 100 %. At around 2 I went to see Coadster's show choir thingy. It's called works in progress, and it's really more like a dress rehearsal for the two high schools in town. Coadster is really good at the dancing and smiling and singing all at the same time. Can you imagine me trying to dance on bleachers and smile, instead of making that horrible dance face I always seem to have? I guess it would at least be funny.

Speaking of funny, the other high school performed Van Halen's "Jump" as their closer, and it cracked me up on so many levels. I tried to imagine going back in time and taking the band aside and saying, "Hey, guys? You may be flying high now (some of you in assless pants) but you might want to see what you can do to make this song more show choir friendly, because this is your last album together and 25 years from now, high school kids will be dancing around in poofy hair and sequined outfits and actually flashing jazz hands to your rock. That's right. Oh, David Lee Roth? You'll have a lounge act in Vegas eventually, and Eddie, your hot young wife will be in a series of Jenny Craig commercials. Okay, have a nice day, dudes..." It would probably be almost as bad as if I told them they had to pick the brown M & M's out of the candy dish by themselves.

Well, I better try and hit the hay. I've been used to getting hundreds of hours of sleep in a day and I'm sure going to work tomorrow will kick my ass all over the place. Night, night.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Eliminate the Need for Water, Replace it With a Safe Shell

Here is a photo of water hitting the rocks by the Golden Gate Bridge.

This week's Saturday Scavenger Hunt word was brought to us by Tara at Eclectic Spaghetti. She chose water. Which was perfect for me, because I still have tons of vacation, ocean pics, and I happen to love water.

Here is a photo of some kids towing a really long, really slimy piece of seaweed on the beach at Half Moon Bay.

With all of the cold and freezing rain and a little snow we have here in Iowa right now, I'm really missing this Summer's trip to California and all that beach time we got.

Here are some scuba divers in Monterrey Bay.

I also thought I'd take this opportunity to steal another post from my old blog. It's a little piece about my more negative experiences with water. As you probably know by now, most of the things I love, can tend to be a little dangerous. Okay, let's dive in, shall we?:

Here are a mix of sea lions and birds on the rocks at Monterrey Bay.

I love water. I always have and maybe that's why my near death experiences have both been drowning incidents.

As kids in Arizona, we all looked forward to monsoon season. Sometimes, it was the only rain we got all year. Once, it didn't rain for several months, and when it finally did, even the Mormon kids got to go outside after 8 p.m. to play in it.

When the streets flooded with rain we would sit on the curb and let the cars splash all the dirty, oily water off the road onto us. We also loved to have boat races in the gutters. My best friend Skip and I would find twigs and start at a particular place on our street. We'd race our twigs as far as they would go before they got caught in a big pile of tangled debris and we had to start again.

One day the water was particularly high and we made it all the way around the corner and onto Horn Street which was way busier. I was walking backwards, just ahead of the twig-boats because I was winning and really excited. Once we got to the next corner, I was suddenly sucked into a drain where the manhole cover had come off. I couldn't see or breathe very well in the muddy run-off. All I remember is that my friend Skip's hand found my arm and was able to pull me out against the force of the rushing water. I know I should have been indebted to him forever, but my friend Marcia and I stuck rocks down his pants where his butt-crack was showing the very next day.

I was four years old at the time of my first near drowning. My brother and I were both learning to swim at the same time. Back then, my Uncle Jack had been recently divorced and was living in an apartment building with a pool. My uncle was working with us on our swimming lessons that day. He left me to hang on to the side of the pool while he went over to my brother. At some point, I got tired of waiting for him to come back and I simply let go. I think it was the only time in my life when I didn't spaz the second I was in danger. I calmly sunk to the bottom of the pool, and when my Aunt Merilee saw what happened, she jumped in after me. She was of a heavier build and was fond of wearing those big, floral muumuus. I have no recollection of what happened after she saved me. Did I cry? Did my parents cry? Who knows. It's all eclipsed by the image of my Aunt Merilee's gigantic dress opening out like a parachute once she hit the water.

Finally, here's a guy fishing.