Wednesday, September 30, 2009

There Was Something So Pleasant About That Place

Here is what it looks like to walk into a corn field this time of year.

I live in a town full of freaks and bizarre incidences...For the most part. On Monday night when I was dropping my daughter off at show choir, we saw an animal control vehicle parked on the side of the road. Across the street, a guy in uniform was emerging from a yard with a large black bird he was holding upside down. At first, I thought it might be a very big raven, but as he got closer, I realized it was a chicken. Then on Dorky's blog, he posted an article from our local paper about some weird rash of chickens running amuck around Iowa City. I never did find out if it was some kind of planned terrorist act by one of the groups trying to allow chickens in the city, or if a truck overturned somewhere.

Here is some dried corn.

On Tuesday, I was headed back to the office from the other building across the street. Some younger college aged girl stopped me, pointed to my basket and asked, "Hey, is that from CVS?" I was confused because I work for a state institution that likes to use acronyms for everything. So, at first I thought she was asking me if I picked up some forms she needed from a certain area. I kept asking her what she meant. Finally she said, "I work at CVS and people are always stealing our red baskets." She even stuck her finger in my face. Have I ever mentioned on here how much I hate it when people get in my face?

"Oh. Well, we've been using this same basket for the last 7 years at least...Since CVS was still called Osco. And I highly doubt the university would steal it from your store." She saw that I was really annoyed and finally backed off a little.

When I started to walk away, she said, "They may have taken it by accident, you know..." Um, okay. What is wrong with people? I'm sure there are crazy people everywhere, but it just seems that our town has an unusually high concentration of them.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I Got Bruises on My Memory

Here is a barn and and a camper and some outbuildings.

So, this frantic house hunting is taking up all of my time and energy. I looked at some houses today, and hopefully, I'll look at more tomorrow. I can't really write about it right now, because I haven't had time to process it. Instead, I will post my next story installment that began last week. Here it is:

The racetrack is made for adults. The fence that separates us from where the horses run is too high for me and Bill to see over. When the grownups get excited during a race, we stand up on the chairs to try to see, but the old men in the back seats get mad. "Sit down, you goddamn hippie kids!" One of them yells and then they throw their racing forms and plastic cups that used to hold beer at us and we have to step down.

We start doing this thing we do when we get bored at the track. Me and my brother wrap the bottom of our t-shirts around our arms to make a bag. We walk around the seats and pick up the stubs to the racing tickets and put them in the bags we made. When our bags get too full we take our arms out of our t-shirts and stretch the bottoms really tight. The stubs go flying into the air and we start again. Sometimes this is fun and sometimes it isn't, but we do it anyway. It's like the way I touch the cup of skin between my nose and lip. When I start, it helps me helps me feel better, then after a while my finger gets tired but it's hard to stop. That's what picking up the stubs is like and we keep at it until my Uncle Jack sees us.

"You guys are still here?" He asks and we don't say anything back. Instead we look down because we know we're not supposed to be here. "Maybe you should tell your dad to meet me in my office in ten minutes and we'll go to Riata Pass to eat." He's trying to sound cheerful, but I can tell by the way his jaw is stiff that he's mad.

My brother is going to tell our father we should go. I would, but I don't want him to be mad at me and my brother doesn't care.

"Hey, Dad," my brother says, but he's too quiet. He clears his throat and tries again. "Dad. Hey, Dad!" He almost yells and my father doesn't move. He just stares out at the racetrack even though there aren't any horses running.

Bill tries once more and my dad doesn't move and I get scared and I'm crying. I yell, "Daddy!" My father doesn't stop staring, but he raises his hand and shoos us away. Now we have to go back to our uncle's office and he will go get our father. We walk slowly, because we're embarrassed. Once I heard my aunt telling my grandma about how she saw my dad staring for hours and the way she said it let me know that he shouldn't do that. On the way to Uncle Jack's office, I ask my brother, "Why does he do that? What's wrong with him?"

"Who cares. He's dumb. Why do you even care?" My brother is flicking his middle finger against thumb the way he does when he hates my dad, so I don't say anything else.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Avenues All Lined With Trees

Here is a sign either pointing to Kansas City or showing you the way to the lead singer of the Sunshine Band.

I've always dreamed of houses. Big, rambling, impractical houses with secret passages and miles and miles of twisted hallways. At some point in every dream, I realize that I have an apartment, and so the big rambling house, really couldn't be mine. I wonder if I'll still dream like that if I actually buy my own home.

Today I met with the realtor and her assistant at lunch. They asked me what I was looking for in a house. I assumed they meant, what was I looking for in a home I could afford. I've thought about it a lot lately, as I obsess over the realty sites in my town. Ideally, I'd like a two bedroom bungalow with hardwood floors. It wouldn't have to be that big, as long as it didn't need a ton of work. I guess, if it were possible, I wouldn't mind one of those extra upstairs rooms that Stinky likes to refer to as a teen room. As in, "Hey, mom. If we get that one house, can that big upstairs room be my teen room?" I told the realtors that I didn't have to have a garage, but after being without one during the tornado, a basement would be very, very welcome. Oh, yeah. I don't need a huge yard, but I'd like enough of one to have a garden. I would settle for a decent Ranch style home too.

In order to get the tax credit, the realtor said I had just about 3 weeks to find a house in my price range. Eek! That doesn't give me much time. They seemed pretty confident that I'd be able to find something and they were going to get back to me on when we can actually go out and start looking. I'll keep you all posted on the process.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Are You Thinkin' of Telephones, and Managers and Where You Got to Be at Noon?

This is what parts of Iowa look like in the Fall. Look. I finally got around to taking some outdoor pics today.

This weekend was packed with so much stuff, it felt a lot like a clown car. So, in the interest of now trying to fit it all into one blog post, I will use a nice little series of numbers.

1.) I got off work at noon on Friday and met with a loan officer. He pre-approved me for a home loan. Yea!

2.) I called my brother to get help on what to do next and how all this house buying stuff was supposed to work.

3.) I got the name of a realtor and contacted said person. We set up a time and place to meet on Monday to get the ball rolling.

4.) I went to the dentist to get my teeth cleaned. The dental hygenist praised me on how well I took care of my teeth. It made me wonder how bad some other people's teeth must be and then I promptly shuddered.

5.) After Coadster got home from cross country practice, we went out for steak to celebrate Stinky's birthday. It was very, very good.

6.) Once I got Stinky to her friend's house and Coadster was getting ready for bed, a friend invited me to come over and drink some beer. This particular friend just happens to be extremely knowledgeable about almost everything I'm interested in. So, it was great to have someone to talk and get excited about everything with. And since this friend also makes me laugh harder than anyone I know, it was a perfect end to my day.

Here we are with the birthday girl.

1.) On Saturday I looked at a bunch of on-line real estate sites that the above mentioned friend sent me. I picked out the houses I was interested in and sent the list in an email to my realtor.

2.) I ran my six mile route and felt really strong.

3.) Did some cleaning and made lunch and ran kids around for much of my afternoon.

4.) Missed the early beginning of my friend J.'s birthday because I was busy on mom duty.

5.) Caught the last half of J.s birthday down at the Dublin. I knew it was going to be an interesting evening when my friend G. and I were walking toward the Dublin and two guys stopped us and told us we looked like we were having a rough night. G. had just stepped out of the shower and it was barely 9 o'clock. We both started laughing our asses off. The two twenty something year old boys then decided to follow us down the stairs where we did our damnedest to ignore them. They finally left.

6.) Another group of our girlfriends met us down for some drinks. At midnight, I was starting to turn into a pumpkin, so I let all the girlies know I was leaving and offered everyone rides. Most of my friends took me up on it, and I was able to safely taxi all my friends home.

B. throwing himself at my friend G. ....Again.

1.) On Sunday I got up and went to the running shoe store, only to find out they didn't open until noon. Wah.

2.) I ran my 8 mile route in my old shoes. The weather was warm and windy - my favorite.

3.) I got home and decided to ride my bike for a bit. I ran into my neighbors and stopped to chat with them. One of my neighbors just did a triathlon last May for the first time, so she had some good advice for me.

4.) Rode the rest of my bike route and finally took a few pics.

5.) Tried to give Stinky a lesson in driving a stick shift. She can drive a car with an automatic transmission, but I have a stick. She couldn't get the hang of it and she started getting frustrated. So, we decided to stop and try again another day.

6.) Went to the store, did some cleaning and made breakfast for dinner. (waffles, bacon and fruit) Stinky was in heaven.

Triathlon training this week:

I ran 42 miles.

I biked 10 miles.

I still haven't done any swimming (do you like how I avoided the whole swam/swum dilemma?)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Home, Where My Thoughts Escaping

Now I'm resorting to boring photos of water and trees.

This week I finally decided to get my shit together and actually go talk to banks about getting a home loan. Tomorrow I'm taking a half day of vacation, but before you go getting all jealous, let me tell you that I'm going to talk to two different lenders and then going to the dentist. Yeah. Now, how jealous are you? That's what I thought.

I've spent a lot of time on the internet this week looking at lender and housing options and my head might just explode before I get anywhere near buying a house. My brother said that I'd get a loan, but it might not be enough for what I want and where I want to live. I'll probably burn some more vacation time next week talking to a couple more lenders. My friend who talked to me about this a couple of weeks ago, told me to shop around, so that's what I'm doing. I figure if I don't get what I want right now, I'll still be in the place I am now, but much better educated. And where I am right now is just fine. I love where I live, it's just that I'd rather stop throwing money away, and I have very little time to try to get that first time home buyer tax credit. I'm just going to throw it all up in the air and see how it lands.

But enough of that. It's the weekend. Woot! After all the practical crap tomorrow, the girls and I will finally go out for dinner to celebrate Stinky's birthday. I'm not sure what else I'm doing tomorrow night. The girls may have plans with their friends after dinner, and I'll just decide when I know their schedules.

On Saturday, I'd like to do another double work-out running and biking. If it rains, I'll have to change that around and maybe swim instead. My friend G. gets back on Saturday night and she has told me she expects an email from me waiting for her and to go out on Saturday night. So there. I might be ready for a beer or two. I feel like I'm working really hard parenting and training and writing and researching home loans and Iowa City properties, that I'll be very ready to blow off some steam on Saturday if G.'s plane gets back in time for that.

How about you all? Do your weekend plans involve working hard or playing hard or mixing and matching?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ain't It Hard When You Discover That He Really Wasn't Where It's At

Here is a picture of my brother when he was very young. One of these days I'll actually take some pics, so I don't have to keep recycling these old ones.

So, remember how I posted part of that story I entitled 1969? Well, since I'm reworking the whole thing, I thought I'd get all crazy and start posting it from the beginning. Chronological order. Weird. I'll try to post it every week as I work on it. Just a reminder, it's mostly fiction with some fact or someone's memories thrown in for fun. Here we go:

I am eight years old today. My mom had to work, so we will have my party tomorrow. My dad was supposed to get my cake and decorations but he wanted to stop at the track for just a minute and now I think he forgot. Bill says not to worry about it. Our mom will take care of it later. She will be mad, but she'll get everything I need for my party. Now, Bill says we should go watch the races for a while and I can have my birthday tomorrow.

We go to tell my dad that we are going up front to see better. He is watching the horses. The old men at the track call them ponies. When there is a race going, he won't look anywhere else until the last horse crosses in front of him. Sometimes he won't look up then. He will just stare and stare. He won't look up even if I stand in front of him and scream right in his face. I know because I did it once and he didn't blink. He doesn't do anything when we say where we're going, so we know we can do whatever we want now.

My father used to work at the racetrack taking pictures of the winning horses. I don't know why he doesn't anymore, but my uncle still does and that's why we get to sit in the VIP section. VIP doesn't mean vice president. When I tell my brother that's what I think it means, he calls me stupid and now I don't think that anymore.

"It means very important people," Bill says and laughs the way he does when he hates my father. I know better to ask why it's funny that we sit in the very important people section.

That's probably more than enough for now. Tune in next week when our heroine braves even more family dysfunction at the racetrack...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Is This the Prize for Having Learned How Not to Cry?

I don't have any photos of me actually working at the clinic, but this recycled photo was taken at that same time.

I've been on kind of a roll with the writing lately. I was dormant with it for so long, that now I feel very much awake and full of ideas. I work them out a lot when I'm running or riding my bike. I seem to think better when I'm moving. So, I'll be posting bits and pieces of some of the new stuff I'm working on and the old stuff I'm reworking.

I wrote a little about Stinky's illness yesterday. I worked at the clinic at the same time and many nights I slept at the hospital, woke up, and walked down the hall to work at the clinic all day. So, I started working on a piece about advocating for patients and then suddenly being on the other end of that. Some of it is fiction and some isn't. Here's a bit of it:

My primary doctor told me that my main job was to make "nicey nice" with the patients. That doctor was an incredible gynecologist and surgeon, but not much of a people person. I was actually, surprisingly really good at making "nicey nice". I was never disingenuous or condescending. The tough part was distancing myself enough so that I didn't absorb every heartbreaking situation I experienced, or I'd end up in the fetal postion sucking my thumb at the end of eash day. It was a line I found myself crossing over way too often. Usually, I just tried to find out a little bit about the patient and help them the best I could. So, when my doctor would leave a room and say, "Hey, can you help me out? I've just explained her limited options to her about a hundred times and she doesn't seem to get it. Can you go in there and help her understand and come up with a plan? Thanks. Oh, and we need that room, so do you think you could do all of that as quickly as possible?" I would do just that.

Making "nicey nice" included many different scenarios. Once on the way to entering a room for an older woman's appointment, her daughter-in-law stopped me and said,"Hi. I'm sorry to bother you, but I just wanted to fill you in. She just spent all of last year fighting cancer, and she has reached her saturation point with being poked and prodded. If there is any way you can help her calm down for this, I'd really appreciate it." I got lucky with that one. When I checked out her chart, I recognized her last name. Both of her sons were lawyers in town and hung out at the coffee shop where I used to work. While my doctor poked and prodded her, I asked her if she wanted to hold my hand (which she definitely did) and then said,

"So, lets talk about how great your boys are..." That took her mind off of everything else and she handled the procedure really well.

Since I could speak Spanish and there were only two interpreters in the whole hospital, sometimes I would get yanked out of procedures in order to translate. It could get tricky, especially when someone pulled me out of a room and sent me down to the infertility clinic to talk to an EXTREMELY traditional Mexican couple about how to prepare for a semen analysis. For the life of me, I couldn't remember the Spanish word for mastur*bate* right off the top of my head.

Sometimes making "nicey nice", was really more like making "meany mean". I was doing a blood draw on a pregnant prisoner and before I even put my gloves on she said, "Just so you know, you'll never find a working vein. I've been slamming crank for so many years, I bet I've blown every one I had." I resisted the urge to put 12 gloves on each hand and started checking her arms. I found one on her left arm. It was just a little deeper under the skin than I normally had to go. As she watched me stick the needle in and fill the tubes, she suddenly got way too excited. "Wait! Where the hell did you find that!?"

"Are you kidding me? I'm not telling you. It's one thing to screw yourself up with that crap. I'm not going to help you poison your poor baby."

Okay. That was just a VERY rough draft of a part of the story I'm working on. I'm sure it will change and morph a hundred times and hopefully, it might even be readable after a while.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sixteen Candles Make a Lovely Light

Here is Stinky as a baby. I wouldn't be surprised if she was trying to push the swing to make it go faster and higher.

Well, kids. it's time for another mushy, gushy birthday post. This time it might even be extra special cheesy for a few reasons. The first is that my baby is turning 16 this year, and once she starts driving, there's no telling whether any of us will be around for her 17th, and if we are, I might be writing that post from my new digs with the nicely padded walls.

Here is Stinky a few months before she got sick.

The second reason is because February of this year marked the 10th anniversary of Stinky having meningitis. In March she got sick with very similar symptoms, and since we were told her chances of getting meningitis are higher because of her first incident, all of those feelings came back to haunt me. Luckily, it was a false alarm, but I was surprised how much Stinky remembered from that time. She still knows that hospital better than most of the people who work there, I bet.

Here is Stinky at my family reunion in Breckenridge. She might be just a little off.

I feel very lucky for every day I've had with her...Although, with her tendency for boundary pushing, I have to really remind myself sometimes. No. She's a great kid. She's goofy and silly and quirky and all of those things I can relate to. And if nothing else, I think her illness has taught her to grab life with both hands and not just appreciate every day of it, but make it her bitch.

Stinky at her dad's house on Halloween. It's her favorite holiday and this was her favorite costume. She got to combine being creepy with wearing a "pretty" dress. She went as a dead bride that year, and all day at work, I was afraid her school was going to call me and make me change her into something a little less offensive.

This year, like the year she was born, Stinky's birthday falls on the first day of Fall. It also just happens to be her favorite season. She loves the changing of the leaves and football season and especially Halloween. When my girls were little, my brother who is also a fiend for Halloween, used to send us a huge box of Halloween related crap every year. We had spider webs, spiders and bats hanging from every room and Stinky would plan her costume out for the next year, the day after.

Stinky driving her sister insane, which is a job she takes very seriously.

This will be a tough year for Stinky in some ways. She's been trying to prepare herself for a while for her sister graduating and moving out of the house. At least she'll finally get her own room, but I have a feeling if it were up to her, she'd still rather share it with Coadster.

So, Stinkyjandra Luz Maria. Happy sweet 16th and happy Equinox and and happy September 22nd and happy first day of Fall! I'm so thankful I get to spend it with you.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I Don't Know Where I'm Running Now, I'm Just Running On

Here I am next to a gigantic foam finger. It's part of a promo we're doing to get students involved in campus activities. I'm not sure who thought seeing a guy walking around campus dressed like this would be motivating, just know it wasn't me.

So, kids. This weekend turned out differently than I had planned. Coadster babysat for Mr Creekside Review and his wife on Friday night. Their son is adorable and sweet and Coadster loves hanging out with him. She said he was quoting Kung Fu Panda all night and that just happens to be one of her favorite movies too. It sounds like she had a great night.

Stinky asked if I'd take her Homecoming dress shopping, so I did. She didn't find anything she really liked, and I was too tired to keep going, so we went home and started watching Quarantine. As I've said before, I do like a good zombie movie. Too bad Quarantine wasn't one of them. I hate it when the plot is driven by people being stupid. I couldn't even finish it, I was so annoyed with it. Stinky had already seen it, was exhausted and had to get up early the next morning, so we were both fine with turning it off.

Saturday was a very active day for me. I went for a long bike ride on Saturday morning and my 6 mile run in the afternoon. I swear, if I didn't have to work an office job, I'd start every morning off with an hour or two long bike ride. It felt so great.

Around 7:30, my friend D. called me to say that she and our friend E. had just been hanging out at the Magic Bus during the game, were heading down to the Dublin and wanted to know if I would join them. Ah, what the hell. I waited for Stinky to get off work, and then dropped her off at her friend's house and headed down. I'm glad I did, since there were a lot of people I knew there. Of course, by the time I got there, E. was already heading home with her husband, but D. was there for the duration. A little before midnight, I got a call from a friend of mine asking me where I was. She was having boy troubles and wanted to know if she could come down and talk to me about it.

I really don't think I'm the best person to talk to about that, since I haven't been in any kind of relationship in forever. It just seems like in most of those situations, people really need to vent, and I'm good at lending a supportive ear. At one point, she asked me what I thought she should do. Basically, I just told her to be honest and open about how she felt and what she wanted and let him know what was bugging her, without making him feel like he was being attacked. That's about all the advice I have. Wouldn't it be great if everyone was just open and honest and let people know what they wanted as diplomatically as possible? How refreshing would that be? (and I'm not just talking about relationships. It would be really great at work too) I suppose the tough part with that is everyone figuring out what they want and not changing their minds.

Where was I again? Oh yeah. Saturday night. Anyway, I tried to help as much as possible, but I was really tired. Luckily, that particular friend only lives a block away from me, so we were able to continue our conversation while we walked home together.

I woke up early on Sunday and felt okay. I had a migraine on and off since Friday afternoon. So, I thought I might finally be in the clear. A friend suggested I check out the local triathlon to see how it all worked. I headed over there and he was so right. It was really cool to see it in action. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera, so you don't get to see the guy who competed in a kilt or the other unregistered guy who snuck in to run the 5 k in jean cut-offs. Sorry. (or maybe I should say, you're welcome) Before I left, my migraine had come back full force, so I wasn't able to swim laps today. Darn.

Tri training this week:

32 miles run.

22 miles biked.

0 laps swum. (is that right? swum? swam?)

I realize that I still haven't done any swiming yet. I'm planning on working that in more when the weather is bad and I can't run or bike outside as easily.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I'll Be Here All the Time...I Can Never Quit

Here is a mini disco ball on a table full of abandoned cups.

So, I went to Coadster's cross country meet today. I know it makes me a dork, but it got me all excited about racing. Her team is huge and great and really supportive of each other. Before the race started, all 70 girls got in a big circle to help each other gear up. One of the moms and I double dog dared her husband to get in the middle of the circle and do the worm or break dance. He said he didn't think it would be worth the therapy bills he'd need to pay for his daughter. I guess he had a point.

My friend G., the activities director and my link to society will be out of town this weekend. She's always great about getting me out of my house and makes plans every Saturday. She's really good for me that way. As I've said before, most of my interests are pretty solitary endeavors and I do need my alone time, but when I don't make myself socialize, I live in my scary brain too much and it makes me even weirder. Who even knew that was possible? Right now, I don't have any social plans for this weekend. If someone calls or texts me and asks me to do something, I'll definitely consider it. I just haven't actively sought anything out is all.

I think I'll use this weekend to regroup and take care of my house, both literally and in that literary gothic sense where it represents my psyche. Which is just a fancy way of saying I'll be cleaning and working on my shit. Coadster is babysitting for my blogging buddy at Creekside Review on Friday night. Stinky and I will have some alone time together, but we haven't figured out exactly what we'll do with it yet.

I'll have to wake up early on Saturday morning to get Stinky to her job and Coadster to cross country practice. Then I'm going to try to ride a hilly route some of my cyclist friends told me about. It should be really pretty this time of year too. I need to be back to get Coadster from cross country practice to the same job where Stinky will be working. Then later in the afternoon, I'll do my 6 mile run.

Saturday night is an open slate. I'll let you know what I do with it. Finally, on Sunday I plan on doing my first lap swim. I will definitely start out very slowly and work on increasing my distance throughout the Winter.

And what of you, good blog readers? What are your weekend plans? Will you be charging into the middle of a group and break dancing, or taking baby steps before you start really going the distance?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Everybody All Around Me. Shakin' Hands and Sayin' Howdy

Here are some people at the beach. A place where I'd like to be right now.

So, you know how I'm kind of socially retarded, right? Well, today it seemed like everyone else was even weirder than me. I was in an alternate universe, where I was the normal person...Okay, I won't go that far, but there were people walking around the planet who made me look almost normal.

The minute I stepped on campus, I realized the Gideon bible guys were out in full force. They are generally nice, polite, older gentleman in suits. I've worked at this particular institute of higher learning for many, many years, so I know the drill. I take the first little green book offered me, and wave it at all the other guys trying to give me the same thing.

When I got up to my building, I noticed a guy standing in front, looking toward the sky. At first I thought he might be looking for the hawk that used to fly around the museum across the street, but he was looking past it. I approached two other women who work in my building and asked, "So, is that guy just trying to see how many people he can make look up this morning?"

"No. Margaret said she asked him what he was doing and he told her he was looking for the moon so he could see Jupiter. If he wanted to see all that, you'd think he would have started a little earlier...Like before sunrise," one of my co-workers replied

* * *

I think I've told you that after lunch I walk across the street with a little red shopping basket to pick-up all of our afternoon computer print-outs. Well, today I noticed a car politely waiting for me to cross the street. I didn't pay much attention to it, until the driver yelled out the window, "City High cross country! Wooooo!" I looked up and realized the guy was my friend and co-worker T-Rip's boyfriend and he was referring to my Facebook status update. Then I remembered that I saw a Facebook reminder for him too.

"Hey! Happy birthday, M!" I said. As I walked into the other building, I wondered if we would have said anything to each other besides hi, if Facebook didn't exist.

* * *

Finally. Today when I was running, two. Count 'em, two different guys I didn't know held up their hands so we could high-five each other as we passed. What the hell is that? I'm all for waving and saying hi, to fellow runners, but I have no desire whatsoever to slap their sweaty palms against mine. You know? I'd like to issue a no contact order between me and passing runners I don't know from here on out.

Soooo, how was your day?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Here's a Little Ghost for the Offering

Here are some pretty flowers that have nothing to do with my post. What else is new?

Okay, I went back to my old short story vault and pulled out part of a different story than last week. I posted this a couple of years ago too. So, I apologize to any of you people who have been reading my blog for the last three years or so...Actually, I should probably apologize to you every day, huh? Anyway, this is pretty much pure fiction. I'm too young to remember the moon landing. (believe it or not) and so I made up a bunch of shit around it. Too bad I forgot I wrote this. It would have been perfect during the anniversary in July. Here goes:


Tonight is a big deal. My dad keeps telling us, “Kids, remember this. This is a very big deal.” My brother rolls his eyes and walks into his room. I stay in the living room so I can be where everyone else is. I’m afraid to miss it. It is a very big deal.

My mom has set up the card table so she can put all the food she made on it. My grandma and my Uncle Jack and my Aunt Lee are coming over. My Aunt Lee is divorced and everyone says it in a whisper like it’s secret and we can’t say it around her because it might make her feel bad. Her daughter is a year older than my brother. She will never play with me. After they get here, my cousin goes off with my brother and they shoot things with their slingshots. I don’t even try to tag along because I know they will start shooting at me.

My mom touches or winks at me every time she comes out of the kitchen with potato salad, or Jello or bread or deviled eggs. My dad likes very dark bread and brown mustard, so we always have to have it, but my mom doesn’t make me eat it or I’ll throw up. He also eats peanuts in the shell and all of our ashtrays are full of empty shells. There’s almost no room for cigarettes or ashes.

Once the whole family arrives, my dad and my Uncle Jack talk about politics and everyone tries to get them to change the subject because they don’t agree. There is so much cigarette smoke everywhere that my eyes burn.

Nobody is walking on the moon yet. They are all just watching the news, which I’m not allowed to see because when they have the war on the news, I get scared. I once heard a ticking clock and thought it was a bomb and ran out of my parent’s room screaming. So, I’m not allowed to watch the news.

I finally get so bored, that I go into my bedroom and play with my wedding paper dolls. There is a bride and a groom and you can change their outfits for the wedding and later for the honeymoon. I hear a thunk. I know that my brother and my cousin have hit my window with a rock. I think I might tell on them, but the grown-ups are loud and drinking beer and I don’t like the way they act.

My mother comes in my room to wake me up. I fell asleep and now the groom’s tuxedo wedding outfit is stuck to my face. She picks me up and carries me into the living room. I sit on her lap to watch the man walk on the moon. Everyone is quiet and serious, but I watch my dad instead of the guy on the screen because I’ve never seen him like that before. He is staring like he usually does, but this time he seems happy – like he’s far away from our cramped and smoky living room.

Okay, that was another snippet of a story I need to rework. I think I'll keep this in the first person though.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sit On Your Hands On a Bus Of Survivors

Here is the back of a boat house.

I thought I'd do another quaint writing exercise this week on the nature of pain. What was last week's again? Oh yeah. I talked about touching a dead body when I was kid. One of these days, I'll surprise the hell out of all y'all and write about rainbows and unicorns. Of course, rainbows are just illusions and unicorns creep me out, so I doubt my take will be very sweet. If you only know me from my blog, I swear to god that in real life I'm fun and happy and hopeful.. It just seems like writing brings up the dark sludge in me. Here it is:

You are quite familiar with physical pain. It used to be part of your job. When you would assess patients with pain complaints, you knew just what to ask them. Was it sharp and stabbing, radiating or crushing? On a scale of one to ten where 10 is the worst pain imaginable and one is normal, how would you rank your pain? (just another reason to hate math and numbers)

You've felt it yourself. Mostly through your migraines. That sharp stabbing pain in your sinus cavity so intense it makes you throw up and pass-out, getting dragged underneath a buggy and losing layers of skin on your left leg, and 36 hours of labor. On a scale from one to ten where ten is the worst pain imaginable, you'd give those a 20.

The crazy thing about physical pain, is that once it's gone, it's hard to remember what it felt like exactly. Which is probably the only reason women have more than one child. You know it hurt, you know it was unpleasant, but you can't make yourself really feel it again even minutes after it's gone.

Emotional pain is a different beast altogether. Years and years after you've experienced it, you feel it exactly like you did the first time - sharp and stabbing in your stomach, crushing your chest and radiating throughout your body.

And now for something completely different...I'm going to take a weekly count for training purposes: This week I ran 41 miles, rode only 10 miles on my bike and sacrificed my lap swim to a Stinky girl's stomach flu. My iPod played a few songs I hadn't heard in a while tonight too:

1. "Mirror in the Bathroom" - The English Beat.

2. "Jump in the Line" - Harry Belafonte.

3. "Love and Destroy" - Franz Ferdinand.

4. "Bombs Over Baghdad" - Outkast.

5. "Somewhere Only We Know" - Keane.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

You've Got to Want to Succeed

Here is a group shot, so you can see tons of scary 80's wear.

Man, I wish I had an extra day for this weekend too. It's been great, I just always try to pack so much into it. I'd love an extra day to get it all done.

So, Friday? Well, at first both the girls were going to drive to the town a half hour from us to watch the football game, then neither of them were going. It finally went down that Stinky went to sleepover at a friend's house and Coadster stayed home with me. We got a pizza delivered and watched a movie. She had to take the ACT test in the morning, so she wanted to just shut her brain off before she had to crank it up in the morning. Of course, that means I didn't get to read as much of my book as a I wanted, but I try to take full advantage of any time I can get with my girls. I'll for sure finish it this week, though.

As you all know, you need a seriously ozone depleting amount of Aquanette to host a successful 80's party.

Saturday was crazy busy and that was mostly my fault. Lately, I've been feeling great and in good shape and it affects everything else with me, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally too. I REALLY don't want to lose that over the Winter. So, I thought a good way to keep me on a roll, was to decide to do a triathlon next year. I hate to be bad at stuff, so I'm thinking if I commit to a triathlon, I'll keep up with training work-outs all Winter long and I'll stay in shape, which will keep me happy and well-adjusted (well, as I can be, anyway). I guess we'll see how that goes when the snow and ice starts flying.

Anyway, I added biking and swimming to my running and it cut into my time to do other things, but by Saturday afternoon, I was flying high on endorphins - my drug of choice.

Here was my 80's party attire.

On Saturday night I went to the 80's party and it was all different kinds of fun. Everybody made white trash casseroles, and there wasn't just Mad Dog 20/20, there were Bartles and Jaymes wine coolers too. Yeah, they covered all the bases.

Many of my favorite people were there. I had my few beers, did some Molly Ringwald from The Breakfast Club dancing and had great conversations. I spent a lot of time talking to a woman who I've known for a while, but not very well. She and her husband buy and flip houses and she was telling me she thought I should buy my own home. It's something I've been kicking around for a while and this wasn't the first time anyone's ever told me that. Since she's in the business, she had a lot of great knowledge and advice about which banks to go to and how much a mortgage payment might be, depending on what I borrow. In other words, she was awesome. Of course, I have almost a whole year left on my lease, but I might start getting a little more serious about persuing it.

Here are my pink and black Vans - the best part of my outfit.

By midnight, the keg was dry and half the party was heading to the Dublin and the other half was staying and sitting in front of the fire. I decided it was a perfect time for me to head home. So, I said my totally tubular goodbyes and walked to my abode.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

And We Can Dress Real Neat From Our Hats to Our Feet

Here's me at the ass-end of the 80's. Good lord! Check out my hair.

So, tonight was a really odd running experience. I think I've told you about 8,421 times before that I've been running the same route for over twenty years, right? So, a lot of people who live along it, think they know me, even though we've never spoken before. It's great for safety reasons. As I was running today, a woman stopped me to tell me she thought I looked incredible. Normally, I don't like to stop at all during my run, but if I had to, I suppose there are worse reasons. Then a bunch of people I don't know waved or "Woo-Hoo'ed" me. By the time I hit Summit Street, I saw a guy riding a bike with his kid in a trailer. He waved, and I waved back with no recognition. He looked at me more closely and I figured out that not only did I know him, he was dating my friend Marla and was there when Coadster and I had the horse and buggy accident. I hadn't seen him since the John Irving reading almost two years ago. Talk about synchronicity. Weird.

Hey, is it the weekend already? Sweet! It snuck up on me, so I haven't really thought about what I'll do tomorrow night. I'm sure it will be something crazy and exciting like staying home and reading and listening to music. I still haven't finished Razor's Edge yet, but I'm at a really good place in the book, so I'm hoping to finish it this weekend.

Saturday my friends are having an 80's party where that decade dress is required. Which could really mean anything. I went through so many different phases back then. I can promise you, I won't be caught dead in a sweater vest and there's no way in hell I'm cutting my bangs again just for the occasion. I might just wear straight leg jeans, a Clash t-shirt, a pair of Chuck Taylor's and tons of black eyeliner, because that's what I wore for much of the mid-eighties anyway. My friend K. is talking about back combing her bangs and making her hair huge, and I can't wait to see that.

My girl crush is coming into town for it too. So, it should be a lot fun girls and silliness - my favorite combination. Who knows? Maybe I'll get a little crazy and bring my camera to document it all

Now it's your turn. What do you have going on this weekend? Will you be running around your town seeing ghosts from your past, or will you be reliving your glory days?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

It's Just the Fear of Losing You

Coadster in her bright pink hip spica cast shortly after the accident.

So, I've been inspired by a friend to start writing again...No, really writing. Not just jotting down blog posts in twenty minutes to document them for some fabled later date where I will have copious amounts of time to produce actual fiction. So, I pulled out my folder of old stories from when I used to try to write almost ten years ago. I hadn't looked at most of them since then, and rereading them now, kind of made my stomach hurt, the writing was that bad. Luckily, it wasn't all horrible and I think I can actually build something out of what I have.

Since I mentioned the horse and buggy accident yesterday, I thought I'd post a little of the story I wrote about that to piece together what actually happened. I posted it once a couple of years ago too, I think. I had a severe concussion and I was 27 years old, and I wasn't sure if I even had a baby and if I did if she was still alive. So, you can read a little of this and see me at my spazziest. I know. Frightening. I think one of the big problems with this story is that it's in the first person. It was important for me to piece together in that tense, but it doesn't really work as a story. So, here is part of the original and if I think it's worth rewriting, I'll post the same snippet in the third person when I get it done.

Just for fill-in; we were on the buggy with this woman named Marla who worked with me at the coffee/ice cream shop. A guy named Arlen was driving the buggy when the horses got loose. We just happened to be going down a steep hill at the time. Ready? Okaaay!:

"Ah Hell," Arlen says. I see the horses running off, no longer connected to the buggy. Arlen is yanked out of the wagon still steadfastly holding on to the reins and trails behind the horses before he is left with a dislocated shoulder and broken arm in their wake. The buggy keeps going faster.

"Shit!" Marla yells and jumps off the side. Coadster and I are alone. She is crying. I think I am too. We are going too fast now for me to safely jump. The horses are gone, so I figure at some point we'll reach the bottom of the hill and stop. I have to press my feet hard to the floorboards to keep us from getting propelled out of the buggy. I feel my stomach fall and I wish it would drop to my feet to add weight.

This is where things get hazy. It feels like we're flying. I can't hold onto the floor any more and out we go. I can see it all in slow motion and I know exactly where we'll land and how it will feel. I try to keep Coadster in my arms but she starts to slide down my front. When we hit the ground I hear a strange crunching sound and taste the strong iron of my own blood in my mouth. Everything goes black and disappears.

I wake up and hurt. All I know is pain. I panic. There is something awful that happened. I am very familiar with this feeling of dread. There is a loud wailing far away. It is somehow comforting to hear but I don't know what it is. Something very bad has happened. I'm too tired to think and then things get dark again.

I come to again and see Marla. She's crying. She is standing between two ambulances. "At first it looked like the wagon ran over the baby, but then I realized that it was just the white sweater she was wrapped in. I probably shouldn't have picked her up, but I wasn't thinking too clearly. Is Coadster going to be okay?" She is talking to a paramedic. I'm afraid to hear the answer.

I'm stopping it here, because this post is already way too long and you all know the answer since she's seventeen now, and I've bragged about her several times in the last month. I think you get the idea anyhow, it basically sucked and was really scary. The end.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

No One Knew Me, No One Knew Me

Another recycled photo of me in pigtails in white with my cousins wearing their best disco shirts.

What the hell. I guess I'll just talk about Facebook again. As I've said before, I both love and get annoyed with it. I don't really even know a lot of my "friends". People ask me to friend them, and if we share other contacts, I usually just do it. I moved around a lot and sometimes I don't remember all the people I've worked with, lived by or waited on. So, there are a lot of people I may or may not know asking me to play Mafia Wars or accept their Little Green Plants, or go to their musical events. Sometimes it all gets a bit too much for me and I stay off of Facebook unless I get a message or someone comments on my shit.

I have a hard time staying mad at Facebook, however. For one thing, it is physically impossible for me to carry a grudge, for another, it has also been really great for me by reestablishing old friendships and staying connected with current friends and family. I'm not the best at calling or emailing people, so I can use my 15 minute breaks at work or my lunch to wish people happy birthdays, "like" their photos or links and comment on their status updates.

This week Facebook has been really weird for me. I found the friend who's parents owned the acreage where Coadster and I got into that horse and buggy accident when she was a baby. I'll talk more about that tomorrow. Tonight, though? Tonight I got a request from my best friend when I lived in Chicago.

My mom died right before Halloween when I was in fifth grade. Shortly after that, we moved from Arizona to live in a suburb on the Southside of Chicago with my aunt and uncle who apparently found it very difficult to be nice to us. I really needed a friend and I found one in Cindy. She was the only other nerdy, book reading girl like me in my new school.

At one point, she asked me to tell her my favorite book and she would read it and tell me what she thought. She told me hers, but it was Harriet the Spy and I had already read it. I told her the title of my favorite book at the time. When she came back from the library, she said she couldn't find it anywhere. I asked her if she checked with a librarian and she said, "Yes, but she looked through the card catalog and said they didn't have a book called Tequila Mockingbird anywhere in the library." after I told her the real title of my favorite book was To Kill a Mockingbird, she read it and loved it as much as I did. We were friends until I moved to Iowa right before ninth grade and I hadn't seen or heard from her since. I guess Facebook and I can still hang out together after all.

Monday, September 07, 2009

I Have to Learn How to Live or I'll Die

Here is some graffiti.

I think I'm going to do a weird, morbid writing exercise tonight. It's what I can remember, with a little artistic license thrown in - you know how I usually do it. Enjoy:

I had never been to a Mormon wake before. I don't think I'd actually been to any kind of wake before. I remember going to a priest's funeral once, but it seemed big and impersonal. This Mormon wake was small and contained and there was a dead body right there in the room with us.

I met him before and talked to him when he came to our house to pick my brother up. In fact, I had just seen him a few days ago. My brother was in the Big Brother/Big Sister program and they gave him this guy. He was a bishop or a deacon or whatever Mormon's call their higher up guys. He seemed nice, but I never had time to get to know him. I don't even remember his name. I wonder if my brother does?

He picked my brother up to go to a Big Brother/Big Sister picnic at Lake Pleasant. I don't know what else happened, but I know that a bunch of them decided to swim out to an island. When Bill got there, he couldn't find his big brother. No one else could either. His big brother never made it. He drowned on the way there, after swimming right next to my brother.

So, we were at his wake and it was very small and his dead body was right there. His mother came up to us. She wore one of those big, several layered buns on the top of her head. She asked, "Did you say goodbye to him?" I assumed she was talking to my brother and I stepped behind him, just in case she meant me. My brother mumbled something, like he always did. We could never understand him and I think he wanted it that way. "You should touch him," his mother told us.

She took both of our hands and walked us to the body. I was afraid of him. He was so pale. He didn't even look real. "come on," she insisted. I looked at my brother and he kept his eyes to the floor, but he put his hand on the dead man's wrist. I didn't think I could do it, but I looked at the woman and knew there was no getting out of it. I touched his finger. I took my hand away so fast, I'm not even sure what it felt like. The woman hugged my brother and when she released him, we took off to find my mom and beg her to let us leave.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

It's Lonely at the Bottom, Man, It's Dizzy at the Top

My favorite bartender S. thought it was funny to take this Miss Lonelyhearts photo of me sitting alone at a table.

Finalmente! On Friday I was finally given my perfect nerd girl evening. It was exactly what I needed. My girls were safe and happy at a high school football game and I got my alone time. It was one of those moments I try to recognize for how wonderful they are when they're happening. You know? It's so easy to remember the really horrible times or the dramatically great times, but I'm almost happier with the quieter, less landmark times that aren't quite as exciting, but every single part of it is exactly what I want to happen. That was Friday night for me. Everything transpired even better than I could have hoped.

My favorite bartender S. humoring me by taking his turn posing for a Mr. Drunken Loser pic.

Saturday was pretty damn good too. I can only do so much socializing before I shut-down, but my friend G. can keep going and going and going...So, she calls or emails or makes me go out one night per week and relates all of her incredibly dramatic experiences to me and I can still stay home and read books every other night. It's perfect. And that was pretty much my Saturday night. We went out and I had my couple of beers, and a fun talk with G. and when I started getting tired, G. had found some other friends to play with, so I was able to take a ride home with my friend Rachie who was in town for the weekend.

Today I got to spend some time with the girls. I still can't believe how wonderful the weather has been all week. When the girls were younger, we would have gone hiking or bike riding, but now that they're in high school, it's a lot harder to schedule those things. I did grill burgers and I still tried to keep my Sunday dinner tradition up. During the week, it's hard to schedule dinner all together because of practice schedules and team dinners for whatever sports they're in, but I make sure we get our Sunday dinner together. I know that makes me corny and dorky, but my girls seem to appreciate it too.

The best thing about this weekend, is that we still have another day of it. I'm not sure how we'll fill the time yet, but I totally intend to make the most of it.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

The Dignified Don't Even Enter In the Game

Here is the tippy top of a teepee.

Well, kids. This week has officially wiped me out...For many reasons. Some of it was just not having any time anymore. I got so spoiled over the Summer. But now we're back to me running the minute I get home from work, then taking off to Coadster's time trials or to pick someone up from weight lifting or dropping them off for some student ambassador activity or choir practice...It's never ending. Anyway, I'm tired and this post should be short, but not necessarily all that sweet.

On the positive side, I got out of working the football game tomorrow night. I plan on giving my perfect nerd girl evening another try. Of course, I have to get up at 6 am on Saturday to get Coadster to a bus at 6:15 that will take her to her first cross country meet. Then take Stinky across town to work hawking Hawkeye paraphernalia at the college football game. So, my nerd girl evening will have to end much earlier than I'd like, but if I'm this tired tomorrow night, I'll probably fall asleep reading by 7 pm anyway.

Okay, you know the drill. Let me know your three day weekend plans. Will you finally catch up on sleep or will you continue the frantic pace of the work week?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Where is My Mind?

Here is a butterfly on a flower.

When your mind wanders, where does it go? At our retreat today, we had a wellness helper/expert visit and teach us yoga exercises we could do at our desks at work. It was actually pretty cool. I've never really been super interested in yoga before. It just seemed like for a while there, everyone was doing it and since I have to be difficult, that meant I couldn't. Plus, there's all that sitting still that I have a really hard time with.

Here is some fungus on a tree.

The woman who coached us told us to concentrate on our breathing and try to clear our heads of all thoughts. The breathing part reminded me of when I used to be a patient advocate helping people get through procedures that doctors liked to describe as uncomfortable, but most patients thought were just plain painful. I always tried to get them to work on their breathing too. "Take long deep breaths. In through your nose and out through your mouth...."

I used the same technique on Coadster when she was younger and would get too tired or have a meltdown, just to calm her down. One time when she was feeling particularly stubborn she told me, "No. I'm not going to do it. I'm not breathing anymore!" I had to hide my face in my sleeve so she wouldn't see me laughing.

Shit. All those memories weren't helping me clear my mind. If there was only an off switch for my brain, I would be the happiest girl alive. When I really tried, the closest I could get was to think about running. It doesn't happen all the time, but once in a while when the weather is nice, and there's a light breeze against me and I've run long enough for my endorphins to kick in, I get to a place where I can't feel even the slightest pain, and I have a hard time remembering where I am exactly (even though I run almost the same route every day). My mind isn't completely clear, but it's as close to an off switch as I'll ever get.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

I Could Go On For Hours and I Probably Will

Here are some lonely boats.

I'm sure it's the time of year, but I can feel people pulling me into the world of forced social engagements. I have my Fall retreat at work tomorrow, my friend wants me to work concessions at a high school football game on Friday and then there's the show choir potluck on Sunday. If I've said it once, I've said it a million times; I'm not a joiner.

I do try to show up and support my girls in whatever they're doing, (I just spent two hours today at cross country time trials) and I volunteer to do stuff that I know a lot of my coworkers aren't into. It's just all the "getting to know you" exercises, the events requiring name tags, and the forced socializing that I have problems with. Luckily, we don't do any role playing exercises at our work retreats anymore. The last one we did made me want to stick forks in my temples.

So, it really isn't all that bad, and if I get sucked into working concessions at the football game, I'll at least be with a friend of mine I've known since college, I can just think of so many other things to occupy my time that wouldn't be quite as painful. You know?

Okay, wish me luck at the prospect of less name tag wearing experiences in the future.