Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Monday, July 30, 2007
In my defense, yesterday, I was surrounded by my 16 year old cousins who are so genetically gifted that they could eat Popeye's every day for a year and still wiggle into their size 2 jeans.
Today, my cousins are nowhere to be found and the portion of my brain that likes to play therapist has convinced me that if I don't eat the chicken, I will feel deprived and binge, resulting in more calories and more misery.
Seriously. I could have taken a few laps in it.
Forgetting my window was down, I hollered: "EW. That's fucking disgusting."
- This was not some pimply faced, desperate to lose his virginity, teenage kid. He was a grown man
- HOW is spitting in front of the customer you are about to serve a good idea? Right. It's not
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
We rode in relative silence on the way to the hospital. She had that look. The furrowed brow, the focused eyes, the jumping leg.
I touched her knee. Softly.
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah," she said. Looking in my eyes and then away, quickly.
"Hey, I want you to know something."
She looked back at me as I pulled the car into a spot. Her chin quivered.
"I will love you if you don't have hair. I will love you if you don't have breasts. I will ALWAYS love you."
I meant it. If the doctor's x-rays and tests showed that April has breast cancer, I would be scared, I would be sad, I would be mad, but I would not be absent.
She rested her head on my shoulder, tears streaming quietly down her cheeks, leaving miniature puddles on her leg that's gone still.
"Thank you," she said. "I love you."
"I love you too."
We walked into the office and they called her back. One hour passed. I started to pace, trying to peek behind the receptionist's desk to see if I could get a glance of April. I couldn't.
Two hours passed and I started, on three different occasions, to ask about her. I didn't. I both wanted to know and was scared to know.
Every time the door opened, I caught my breath. And let it out in quick bursts when it wasn't her on the other side.
Finally. She came out and searched the waiting room for me. I met her eyes...desperate to know what truth they held. She smiled. I smiled. We walked out and hugged.
The doctor was looking for a lump felt in an earlier routine gynecologist visit. He had to take several x-rays to make sure he knew what he was looking at. Thankfully, it wasn't cancer.
He told April he still wanted to see her in six months just to be sure.
He can see her in six months just as long as I get to see her for the next sixty years.
Please note that although it's a draft, every word of this is copyrighted and can not be printed, re posted or used in any way shape or form.
The alarm clock blinked 3:49. 3:49. 3:49.
She had no idea how long she stared at it, lying in bed under the cover of darkness, fixing her eyes on the red glow of the numbers and counting flashes. One…. Two…..Three… She counted until she reached one hundred, her soft voice rhythmic and in perfect sync with the clock.
Josie had been counting things for as long as she could remember. She counted the cracks in sidewalks, the number of lights on her way home from work, how many times her boss said ‘um’, the seconds it took to tie her shoes. Rachel, Josie’s best friend, told her she’d read that counting was a manifestation of unresolved issues, a way of diverting the mind from dealing with life’s harsh realities. To be honest, Josie was relieved. Given the numerous other solutions to madness, if a nagging little number thingy was how she coped with her childhood, she felt she’d weathered the storm like a champ.
Rolling over onto her back, Josie let out an “Umph,” kicking one slender leg out from under the white down comforter. The sudden movement caused Josie’s small army of animals to stir and brought Flash, her seven-year-old basset hound, out of his nightly coma. He moseyed up to the head of the bed and began licking her face and scratching her arm with his wrinkled paw.
“Okay, Flash – gimme a break. I’m desperate for a little affection but I’m not there yet buddy.” She pushed Flash back toward the foot of the bed and gave her two cats, Beulah and Mister, a quick stroke each before falling back into a sound sleep.
“Hello Josie, how are you today?” asked Dr. West, one of the most prominent therapists in Charlotte, North Carolina.
In his late fifties, what the doctor lacked in style or genetics, he made up for in kindness and intellect. He carried an extra hundred pounds on a 5’8” frame and the residual effects of a nasty car accident left him with a noticeable limp. His burgundy cardigan struggled to remain buttoned and his Dockers rested well below his moon shaped belly. Weathered loafers and worn argyle socks hugged his feet.
“Fine, thanks. Did you know there are seven steps, four light bulbs, two chairs and three doors from the parking lot to your office?” she said with a half grin. It had become sort of a greeting ritual and while she’d like to think it all in fun at this point, the truth was, she’d be counting even if she didn’t bring it to his attention.
“I did not,” Dr. West said, returning her smile. He watched Josie, her dark hair brushing her shoulders as she removed her expensive black overcoat and settled into the leather wing back chair positioned across from him. It was inappropriate, so he never expressed how deeply he cared for Josie. It wasn’t sexual. It was a desire to see her come to terms with her past and truly connect with people. He was slowly teaching her she could trust her instincts and accept imperfection in her life. She wasn’t like his other patients who’d experienced trauma. They were battling depression, angry or loners. Josie was none of these things. She had a great network of friends, an enviable wit, and an aura people were drawn to. Partly because she was a natural beauty and partly because something about her made people want to take care of her, even though she’d never ask anyone for help.
“Josie, I’ve been reviewing our sessions and I’d like to discuss that night. I know we’ve talked about it before, but this time I’d really like for you to put yourself back there, I want you to – “
“I don’t want to discuss it again. You know all about it. Nothing has changed.” Josie’s eyes got that wild look, her cheeks flushed, her body went rigid. Dr. West knew he had to calm her down or the session would be over before it began.
“True, we have talked about it,” he said, his voice steady. “But you tell the story as if it’s something you heard about, not something you experienced. I reread my notes and there are holes Josie, things you can’t remember.”
She fixed her gaze just to the left of his shoulder, peering past him and out the window. Unconsciously, she curled her legs Indian style and clasped her hands together tightly.
She doesn’t even realize how childlike she looks, thought Dr. West. Odd, how the body betrays the mind.
There was a woman just outside the window, waiting to catch the city bus. Josie watched her tug her jacket around her full body and then search the contents of her purse before coming up with a cell phone. The woman started to talk animatedly and Josie thought about how lucky the woman was. She’d probably never seen anyone blow his brains out.
“What?! You want me to do what in the event of your untimely death?” Josie was laughing so hard tears leapt from her eyes. She and Rachel were holed up in their favorite circular booth at Dish, a local dive serving southern comfort food and the best damn margaritas in town.
“Stop laughing. I’m serious,” said Rachel, flashing her crooked smile, famous for making grown men forget their names and often their wives. “When Jeff and I were together we liked to experiment. A little porno here, a little vibrating toy there. God, that man was completely fucking useless but he could make me come.”
As Josie listened to her best friend go on and on about Jeff and his gift for performing oral sex, she thought about how lucky she was to have Rachel in her life. At 5’9”, Rachel was drop dead, gonna-make-you-stare and wish-you-were-her, gorgeous. With naturally blond curly hair framing a face with piercing blue eyes, a button nose and heart shaped lips, Rachel was the girl every woman wanted to be and every man wanted to be with. She had an easy style; preferring low rider jeans and fitted tops, but enjoyed playing dress up on occasion. She was completely unpredictable and the peanut butter to Josie’s jelly. They’d grown up together and were closer than most blood sisters.
“So anyway,” Rachel continued, licking more salt off her glass before taking another drink. “Jeff is history, but I still have all this stuff. I don’t want to get rid of it for obvious reasons. I mean, let’s be honest, a girl can get lonely.”
Josie rolled her eyes and leaned over the table. “Give me a break Rach. You get lonely waiting for a guy to put his condom on.”
“Can I finish?” Rachel pretended to be offended, but Josie knew better. “Should, God forbid, I die unexpectedly, you MUST get to my house before my parents do. Retrieve the bag from under my bed and get it the hell out. Everything is in that tropical duffel bag I bought when we were in Cancun. Remember it? It’s the bag I broke trying to carry the booze home. I don’t care what you do with the stuff. Frankly, I hope you use it and think of me….Okay, we’ll don’t actually think of me while you’re using it, but thank me for it after you’re done.”
Josie was howling, gasping for air and wiping the tears that leapt from her eyes. People from neighboring booths were starting to stare, but the girls didn’t care. “First, assuming you died in a horrific accident, it’s highly unlikely your parents will be searching under your bed within 24 hours. Second, you’re a grown woman. Lastly, you’re dead. Your mom can’t embarrass you.”
“Josephine Elizabeth Conner. You’ve known my mother nearly as long as I have. That woman could embarrass a newborn child. I want you to tell me that you’ll take care of this. If I have to make other arrangements I will; but honestly, I don’t know how old Mr. Flannigan is going to react to performing this task. He’s been a wonderful neighbor, but it could damn near kill a man in his eighties. If you’re comfortable with putting him in a potentially deadly position, I can go that route,” Josie said with mock disdain, throwing her hands in the air.
“Okay, okay,” Josie sputtered. “I’ll do it! However,” Josie asked, pretending to be very serious all of the sudden. “What if we die together? Then what? You may have to enlist Mr. Flannigan as backup anyway.”
“Oh my god. I never thought of that,” Rachel muttered. Josie could tell she was thinking of an alternate plan at the same time she was fixing her messy ponytail. “We totally need to observe the President, Vice President rule. We can’t travel on the same plane, bus or in car trips logging more than 25 miles at a time. You’re always thinkin’ Jos. It’s why I keep you around.”
“Mhmm,” Josie said, turning her attention to the menu trapped under their glass table. “Is it a veggie burger or vegetable pot pie kinda night? That is the real question.”
“I’m thinking it’s a still mooing burger and another of these here drinks. McNamera! Can we get some service over here!” Rachel called out to Jacob McNamera, a twenty-something tattoo artist by day, waiter by night.
Jacob, called McNamera by anybody who’d met him more than once, wasn’t fat, but he was thick and covered with colorful tattoos. His spiked hair changed weekly, usually in favor of neon hues. His goatee hung a few inches past his chin and he wore it braided and often decorated with jewels. Tonight he wore tattered Vans laced with yellow ribbon, cargo pants and a black tank top reading Are you my daddy? He had a thing for cleanliness, keeping his piercings to a minimum. One ring looped through his left eyebrow and two in each ear.
“’Sup, Curls and Pearls?” Jacob said, using the nicknames he gave Rachael and Josie the first night they stumbled into Dish three years ago. He grabbed a metal chair from a neighboring table, flipped it around, straddled it and leaned into the booth. “You kids come in here and disrupt the paying customers by causing all sorts of hell. I like it. Watcha want?”
“I want a man who knows how to please and knows when to leave, but since I can’t seem to find that, I’ll take a burger and another one of these here margaritas with extra salt. Pronto,” said Rachael.
“Damn, when ya going to find your softer side, girl? Josie, I got two questions for you. What are you having and when are you going to let me give you your first tattoo?”
“Oooh, McNamara….you know better than to ask miss perfection over here if she’ll mar the svelt canvas that is her body!”
"I might surprise you, hussy."
Grinning, McNamara winked at the girls and headed to another table to take a drink order.
"Sooooooooo," started Rachel.
"Don't. Don't ask."
Shifting in her seat, Rachel propped her chin in her hand and looked at Josie with serious eyes.
"I mean it, Rachel. Come on, we were having a good time. Leave it alone. I never should have told you what day I go to therapy."
"So, that's it, huh? You're going to keep blowing me and your therapist off? Healthy, Rach. Healthy. Tell me again why you keep paying the man to tell him nothing?"
Suddenly the menu trapped under the glass table was the most interesting read of Josie's life.
"Listen, Rach. You were the one who told me you were ready to try and remember. That you wanted to be free from the dark gaps. How can we help if you won't let us in? If you won't trust the people closest to you? You can't keep pretending like it didn't happen. You still won't drive down that street. You're not okay."
"I'm not hungry anymore, either. Can we go?"
to be continued...
Monday, July 23, 2007
Technorati. Blog Catalog. Rankings. Blog Awards. Links. Link Backs. Views. Hits. Dig. Google. Neighborhoods. Web rings. Friends. Chat boxes. Shout outs. Ads.
Apparently, the list is endless.
I. get. so. confused.
Of course, I fake like I know what I'm doing.
I troll other people's pages and if I see a feature I like, I rip it off. I won't lie about it. I do. I won't even know how or why it works - or what I'm agreeing to when I "accept" the website's terms in order to secure the link so I can paste the feature on my blog. For all I know, I've just agreed to upload naked pictures of my mother. Of course, I could read the terms of agreement, but that would mean delaying the instant gratification of seeing a new little icon on my blog page - an icon that will make people think that my blog is important, noteworthy and worth ear-marking.
I've tested out so many of these random "features" that I have logins on every blog website in existence. I'm certain of it. There are so many variations of my password out there that there's no chance in hell I will remember how to access all of the priceless information my new website "widget" promises to provide.
Tag words. Supposedly, these are words you can highlight in your blogs so if people happen to do a search using those words, you might come up. If there aren't 45 million other websites that have the same tags. I'm guessing my site isn't the only one tagged with "funny lesbian wants to make a lot of money writing from home." Just a guess.
Ads on sites. This is something I'm still trying to understand. Seems as though some folks have ads on their websites because they've downloaded a feature and by doing so have agreed to have ads placed on their blogs. Some folks are getting paid to put ads on their sites because they have a high traffic count (traffic count might just be the only thing I DO understand...)
I'm sure in five years, when I, like Perez, can ask for $9000 per ad space, I'll revisit this blog and fondly remember the time when I was but a young blogger with a dream...about Charlize Theron. And Mariska Hargitay. Okay, so my dreams aren't necessarily about blogging...
Monday, July 16, 2007
Thursday, July 12, 2007
I’m more guilty of this than anyone I know.
Pidge (no idea where it came from but now there are several variations)
- Pidge Pah
Rhoda roadster (a throwback to my car, a yellow Chevette)
The list is endless…
As I’m sure most of us did, I grew up with nicknames bestowed upon me by my family.
We’ll start with the more sentimental, sweet nickname of Feather. Most of my extended family refers to me this way. I have two friends, Jules and Jenn, who have abbreviated this nickname and call me Feath. I love them, so I allow it. A few friends in college called me The Heat.
As for my immediate family…
I’m getting ready to reveal something publicly that will help me step out of my shame (and will forever halt the blackmail attempts by my college-room mate Laura). The other, far less, sentimental nickname given to me by my mother and father is:
Tuna (or, if you’d like to be more obnoxious, Tuna-Funa).
There. I said it.
I’ve outed my own horrid nickname. I asked once, and only once, how I got saddled with such a horrible moniker. The reason: as a small child, I flopped around like a fish in the bathtub.
SERIOUSLY? That’s why? Come on… Other seven-year olds were being called in for dinner by parents hollering: “princess!”, “pumpkin”, “precious”! And then there was me, hiding behind my big wheel as mommy shouted “Tuna! Get in here!” It wasn’t right.
At least I wasn’t alone in my humiliation. My brother Brett also had to rise above some pretty nasty name-calling. We’ll start with: Poindexter Alfonso (credit: definitely dad). Then there was: Rufus (which he still answers to today). And also: Brett-Bett, MB (stands for Michael Brett) and Brett-the-brat (courtesy: me).
That being said…
It’s how people re-name their ‘private parts’ that I find most intriguing. I don’t really have a side in the whole debate over whether or not you should teach your children the proper names for their parts. April might disagree, saying it causes shame in the body and a dis-connect. I say it’s nothing 10 minutes of MTV wouldn’t cure.
My mom referred to Brett’s penis as a taley-wacker. (I just realized something. I’ve never, in my entire life, thought about – or typed about – my brother’s penis before. I feel kind of dirty.)
I don’t recall having a nickname for any of my parts.
Some friends say their mother’s referred to their ‘areas’ as “down there.”
My friend Jenny’s grandkids…Her young grandson Tristan used to call his penis “Buddy”. As he’s gotten older, he’s reverted to the much more sophisticated ‘wiener.’ Gabby, his younger sister, calls her parts “Helen.”
I’ve thought about this…what would you rather happen if you were sitting with a three-year-old in the Lord’s house…would you like her to scream “MOM! Helen itches!” or…”MOM! My vagina itches!” See…that point goes solidly in the nickname category. At least for me.
My friend Kelle had a child point out her “oobie-doos.”
Oobie-doos. I dunno, I kind of like it. “Dr., if you lift up my left oobie-doo, you’ll see the area I’m talking about.” Try it at your next gyno appointment. Who couldn’t use a moment of levity as your all gurney-ed up?
Nicknames. Everyone’s doing it. What’s yours?
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Hell, I hope I'm as spry as April's grandma (Mamaw) when I'm 84. And that someone is writing a blog about me.
Here's a snapshot: she sleeps with a gun, locks her bedroom door to keep the crazies out (it's just us in the house when we visit, but I guess I see her point), and if she doesn't have her hearing aides in, you can bet her response to you will be "WHAT? I DON'T HEAR TOO GOOD."
She calls me "That Girl." Not because she's being rude. She can't remember my name. Even though April and I have dated for two years. April's mom lives with her Mamaw, so I see her every time we go to visit. When we're not visiting, I always know when April is talking to Mamaw because she starts screaming into the phone. And by screaming, I mean I think I have permanent hearing loss. At the end of every call, Mamaw will say to April, "You tell That Girl that I love her."
I don't care that she can't remember my name. I think it's sweet. And I was CERTAIN it was an indication that she knew that April and I were more than just room mates. I mean, sure, she's old and can't hear, but Lord, she's not blind. They've never had "the talk," but April and I sleep in the same bed when we visit. We hug - a lot. April never comes home without me and she's had several girl friends before me (we won't get into numbers here, but rest assured Mamaw has met her fair share of gay girls...).
We assumed she knew and preferred not to talk about it. Until April's mom called after we got home from a family trip we took to Myrtle Beach. April and I, , April's mom and Mamaw, and April's sister Teri and her husband Jay, spent a few days together. We had a blast. I had a particularly good time sparring with Jay. He's funny as all get out and we're constantly digging at each other, going for the biggest laugh. There's lots of butt smacking and teasing...It's what we do.
So, April's mom calls and she's busting a gut. She's just had dinner with Mamaw and Mamaw is concerned. Out of the blue, she says," I wouldn't trust THAT GIRL. I wouldn't. Not if I were Teri. You can tell she's after Jay. She is. I'm telling you, I wouldn't trust her."
April's mom said she had to get up from the dinner table and leave the room. Mamaw probably wouldn't have heard her laughing hysterically, but you never know. Sometimes we question how deaf she really is. She's a smart lady and could have us all fooled.
As April relayed this to me, I was dumbfounded. April quickly went on to remind me that paranoia is not uncommon as people age and that I DID smack Jay's butt several times. And that he DID say he loved me a lot. And back in Mamaw's day, that kind of teasing meant you liked the boy.
BACK IN MAMAW'S DAY you wore rags instead of tampons and still bought Cokes for a nickel..COME ON.
April's mom made us promise we wouldn't tell Mamaw and we never would. But I have to admit I was worried my relationship with her would change now that she viewed me as a man-hungry, wanna-be husband-stealing hussy. Would she still love THIS GIRL?
Turns out, I had nothing to worry about. We went home this past weekend and Mamaw didn't greet me at the door with a scarlet letter. Just the opposite. I got VERY close to Mamaw Erma this trip. ...
Mamaw wanted her nails painted. April offered my services. Shortly after doing so, April reminded Mamaw "to take a bath and make sure to clean her toe nails really good and clean in between her toes." Whaaaat in the mother hell? I look down at Mamaw's toes and back into April's eyes. She's holding in peals of laughter. I mouth "this is L-O-V-E". I drew the line at cutting the toe nails. But I did hold her feet in my hands and apply some lovely OPI color.
April and her mom went out shopping, shortly after the toe nail painting episode, and Mamaw went into her room (her locked room) to get ready to go to lunch. I'm sitting at the table eating some low-fat Pringles when Mamaw comes down the hallway in nothing but her pants, holding out her bra and asking me to help her put it on. Something April and her mother found quite amusing when they got home. I'm still dealing with the effects.
The next day, and an hour or so before we left the house to attend a wedding, Mamaw came out of her room asking for help putting on her panty hose. I looked at April and with my eyes, tell her it's her turn. I have done my duty. April walks over to help Mamaw, but it quickly becomes apparent that it's a two-person job. The hose are a tight and Mamaw's arthritis prohibits her from grabbing one side. I head over to the rocking chair that she's sitting in and assume my position. Together, April and I tug and pull, all while Mamaw reminds us "the dark spot in the middle of the hose has to go between my legs!" As if we didn't know that...but we had sweat dripping in our eyes and sore muscles from tugging. We were, however, successful.
So, there you have it. I'm THAT GIRL. The one who will do anything for Mamaw Erma because I think she's fantastic - even if she has yellow toe nails and wants to eat "cake" despite the fact that I what I told her I had was "steak." She can't hear too good, you know...
It's taken me days to learn how to use it. I like it.
Tonight I was transferring all my social engagements from my paper calendar to my new electronic brain that will urinate for me if I schedule a time for it to do so.
And birthdays. I was entering birthdays.
My electronic brain asked me if I'd like to reapeat the entry yearly or just one time.
My heart stopped for a moment before I over-aggressively entered YEARLY.
And then I thought it.
How many more years would she really be here for? Would just entering yearly in my Palm Pilot over-ride nature's plan?
She's done so much. Loved so greatly.
My granny. Betty Ruth.
Six kids12 grandkids
2,352 scraped knees
342,234,212 tear drops wiped
YEARLY damnit. YEARLY.
That's the store we were in when April did it.
Not that we were inconspicuous BEFORE she did what she did. Our cargo pants, Volcum belts and matching American Eagle accessories pretty much screamed LESBIANS as we jock-walked past girls with pierced faces, red and black ripped tights and hair dyed blacker than the lost soul of Jerry Falwell.
We were making our way toward the exit, walking back into the light, when I heard April say: "Is this Johnny Cash?"
I stopped. Dead in my tracks. Thinking she couldn't possibly have said that out loud and she couldn't possibly have been referring to the music playing overhead in a store that sells belts with ammunition sewn onto it.
Before I had time to turn completely around and give her my "are you SERIOUS" look, I heard the goth-girl behind the counter say, "um, more like Marilyn Manson." She had the perfect "get the fuck out of my store because you're bad for business" tone.
I lost my shit. I nearly peed my pants. I was gasping for air and nearly missed the best part.
April defending herself once we spilled out into the mall, asking "but didn't it kind of SOUND like Johnny Cash? Come on, cut me some slack."
Jesus. Seriously. Right now Johnny is in heaven plotting ways to fuck with April.
One might have thought after my last visit to Boston that I'd never make the mistake of going home again. Considering the trip included, but was not limited to: a drunk aunt who threw up in a mixing bowl; a brutal trip to Auto Zone with my father and April; a crazy house party my parents hosted; and a Boston Red Sox defeat, I have to admit my owned stunned disbelief as I hit the road, headed once again toward the land of lobstahs and kahrs (lobsters and cars for you non-Bostonians).
In my defense, this trip was April's fault. Completely and without question, her fault.
I mean, sure, she is deathly allergic to my cats. And sure, she tried for six months to cohabitate with my furry children despite itchy eyes, a runny nose and constricted airways. Wah. Wah. And sure, I've woken up in the middle of the night only to find the spot beside me empty and cold because April's wheezing got so bad she felt it necessary to sleep outside on the porch. It's not like that was so terrible. She likes camping and it was pretty warm at the time. AND we have a privacy fence. I'm just sayin', it's not that bad.
But she made it so hard on me, looking at me through bloodshot eyes, grabbing her chest in between gasps of air and promising that if I took my cats to my parents, she'd get two allergy shots a week (for a year) so we could get them back. I'm cold, but I'm not ruthless. Besides, her constant eye watering cost us several tubes of mascara and you girlie girls know that stuff's not cheap.
Ergo, this trip was April's fault. And she wasn't even making the trip with me. We'd both planned to spend Thanksgiving with her family in Tennessee, but the onset of "cat got your tongue and throat and eyes" hysteria necessitated I load up the furry beasts and head home.
I don't know what tips them off, but somehow my cats can sense when I'm going to be hunting their asses down to put them in the car. Maybe I'm trying too hard to pretend like I don't care where they are. Perhaps wearing shades in the house gives me away…but I don't want them to know I'm tracking their movements, ready to leap and put them in a headlock designed to protect my face from cat claw shredding.
I'd already loaded up the car with the luggage, so my last remaining task was to track down Phoebe and DC, who, of course, were no where to be found. I stood outside the house, took several deep breaths and went in. Whistling casually, I began calling for them. "Heeeerrreee, kitty kitty. Wanna treat?" Nothing. "Damn it, come here you fuckers." Nothing. My stealth movements quickly turned to stomping as I inspected every nook and cranny of our house. I was late getting on the road and I knew my mother was going to be pissed – she'd wanted me to wait until the morning to make the drive because she worried about me being on the road late at night.
Aha! I caught the end of DC's tail as she shot out of our closet. "Gotcha!" I put her in the safety restraint, bounded down the stairs and threw her in the back seat of the car. Now for Phoebe. If the damn cat didn't need a fork lift to pick her up off the floor, I wouldn't have worried about having to get her myself. HOW was it possible that I was having trouble finding a 20 pound cat? It's not like she coulda been a lot of places…twenty minutes into my hunt, I saw 'em. Her beady eyes glowed from her spot underneath my bed. The bitch was in the absolute furthest corner and would not come out for anything, requiring me to G.I. Joe my way to her. Hardly fun, but WAY more fun than having to do the reverse G.I. Joe back out from under the bed while trying to manage a hissing, screaming, biting bitch of a cat.
After throwing Phoebe in the car, I nursed my minor wounds, looked at the clock and cursed for good measure. It was 3:30pm and I wasn't on the road yet. Not only wasn't I on the road yet, but I'd neglected to heed all 100 of my mother's pleas to get alternate directions that wouldn't take me through the busiest parts of DC and NYC on my way to Boston.
I could've poured over the Atlas and found the alternate directions, but I'd already printed MapQuest directions (knowing full well they weren't the directions my mother spoke of, but they'd get me there). I was banking on being able to beat lots of the holiday traffic since I was leaving before 5. I just figured I'd wait to call her and give a progress report when I was in Pennsylvania somewhere. She'd never know which directions I'd used.
At 7pm, I was sweating bullets in stand still traffic….in Maryland, an hour and a half away from my house. Shit.
"Life ain't always beautiful," April's ringtone, interrupted my non-progress, and I answered.
"Heather, you better call your mom. She just called me and said she's tried your phone several times and can't get an answer. She's really worried about you. Really worried. Especially since I told her you got on the road around 3pm."
I looked at my phone. No sign that my mother had tried to call. Weird.
"All right. I'll call her. Love you."
I dialed my mother and she picked up immediately.
"Are you OK?! You were supposed to call me! Why weren't you answering my call? Where are you? It's dark now, be careful! Did you get the directions I told you about?"
"Yeah mom, I'm okay. I appreciate you being worried, but I'm fine – "
"Where exactly are you? You did the get the directions I told you about, right?"
It was clear that conversation re-direction tactics were going to be useless.
"Mom, I was going to, but didn't get a chance. So I have these other directions and they'll be fine. And I'm in * whisper *"
"You're where? I can 't hear you."
"DAMN IT HEATHER! It's SEVEN o'clock! You shouldn't be in that part of Maryland unless you didn't print off the right directions. You should be halfway home by now! I am so pissed off at you! Did you think I was telling you about those directions for my HEALTH?! I KNEW you were going to be in traffic and wanted to help you miss it!"
"Hey, mom….remember how ten minutes ago you thought I was dead? Shouldn't you just be so filled with gratitude that I'm alive that none of this other stuff really matters? I mean, honestly…"
"NO! That's not what it means! Now I'm more worried about you because you won't get here until 3am!"
After promising to call my dad in 20 minutes to get re-routed, and promising that I'd call ever half hour until I pulled into my driveway, I was able to get off the phone with my uber-frustrated mother. I called my dad, as instructed and said:
"So, are you mad at me too?"
"Hell yes. Don't you dare send your mother home to scream at me for something YOU'VE done. Now I get to listen to her."
I sighed, got squared away and settled in for the long trip.
My mother must have a damn good relationship with God because he punished me for not getting the appropriate directions and adding 5 hours to my trip. About 3 hours from my parents' home, Phoebe waddled her way into the front passenger seat.
I heard "shhhhhhhsssshhhhhhsshhhh."
OH HELL NO!
In an effort to suspend reality, I stuck my hand under my cat's twat.
OH HELL HELL NO!!!!
I nearly swerved off the side of the road, unsure of what to do with a handful of cat piss and a leather seat soaking up the rest of it. This wasn't a little bit of pee. More urine couldn't have come out of a 50 year-old man who'd done nothing but drain kegs all day.
SHIT. FUCK. SHIT.
I got off at the next exit and mopped up as much pee as I could. I even bought those horrible little tree odorizes that hang from the review mirror in an effort to mask the God-awful stench ruining the re-sale value of my car. I considered trading Phoebe for leather cleaner at the Exxon, but realized that wouldn't be fair given I'd peed four times since the start of my trip and she hadn't been able to go at all.
It didn't make me hate her any less at that moment.
I've been back home for several weeks and I still can't get that stench outta my car.
So many ridiculously wrong things happened while on my way to Boston, and in Boston, that I'll bullet point the rest
....Damn it if my attention to detail doesn't bite me in the ass, regularly. This time I managed to use my own toothbrush the entire trip, but funny enough, this story DOES relate to my mouth and what I mindlessly put in it.
After brushing my teeth one evening, I decided I wanted to go the extra mile and use mouth wash. I'd remembered seeing a small plastic bottle in my parent's medicine cabinet.
I opened the cabinet, flipped the lid, and squirted.
My mouth was turning numb. That can't be right.
I turned the bottle of mouth wash around….It's true, it said WASH, but the first part of that was ANTI-SEPTIC wash.
"ARGHHH!!!! OH MY GOD!"
Immediately I began spitting, swallowing large amounts of water, hopping up and down and yelling for my mother.
"Damn it mom! What the hell is anti-septic WASH doing next to all your toothbrush stuff? Jesus! If I go into duress, call poison control. You're trying to KILL me!"
She muttered something about reading labels and just walked away.
I'm telling you, I was truly worried my mouth would begin disintegrating. The good news is, that didn't happen. The bad news is, I'll probably do something just as stupid again tomorrow.
.... My parents and I attended a wedding the day after Thanksgiving. My mother's friend Marie was mother of the groom. I absolutely adore Marie, so I was excited about being able to share in her special day.
Much like my mother's not-so-subtle reminders about directions, she mentioned, no less than twelve times, that I needed to be sure and pack a dress for the wedding. Not sure if she thought I might show up in Birkenstocks and a flannel shirt, but she made her point and I did buy a sparkly dress and new black heels.
As we pulled up to the church, my mother said:
"Heather, remember to throw out your gum. It's not lady like, nor appropriate, to be smacking your gum during the ceremony."
We got out of the car, walked up to the church, and I watched, wordlessly, as my mother took her own gum out of her mouth and threw it in the planted tree just outside the church door.
"OH. AND THAT'S LADYLIKE! Throwing your gum in God's green shrubbery. Mother, you never again get to preach lady like behaviors to me. Never ever."
Once inside the church and seated in our pew, my father reverted to his seven year old self and began pushing me so I'd bump into my mother and she'd bump into the poor, unsuspecting wedding guest seated beside her. We were engaging in the shoving war, ignoring my mother's death stares, when I noticed my father had upped the anti. Had my reflexes been a second faster, I would have caught him before he ran his ball point pen down the length of my arm. I HATE when he one ups me like that. His shoulders shirked up and down, an effort to try and control his glee at my new tattoo.
My mother finally succeeded in silencing us and my attention turned to the ceremony. No one told me I needed to wear a sports bra. You Catholics are up and down so much I felt like the Pastor (or preacher, or priest, or saint, or whatever you call him), should remind folks to remember to breath.
In addition, there is something you Catholics could do to make outsiders feel more welcome. Like….cue cards. Seriously. No one wants to be the person looking around, helplessly, as you recite 976 million passages. I felt so inadequate. I nearly leapt for joy when the congregation began the Lord's Prayer. I tapped my mom, so excited, and said "MOM! I KNOW this one!"
... My mother took me to see that body exhibit. The one where real people agreed to have their bodies preserved after death and you can see all of their muscles, tendons, bones, ligaments, etc. It was incredibly cool, but every time my eyes wandered to the pliers pulling apart the body parts, I barfed in my mouth a little. But it was one of the coolest things I've ever seen and you should check it out if you ever get the chance.
....Because it's been so long since I've been home to help decorate for Christmas, I thought it would be sentimental to suggest we do it as a family over Thanksgiving. Little did I know how sentimental. My parents pulled out the same sad little Charlie Brown fake tree that we've had since I was in the second grade.
My father has to be the cheapest man on the planet.
"Um, Dad, this tree doesn't even go together anymore. You're missing pieces and there's a gaping hole on that side of the tree."
"Aw, it's fine Heather. We'll just hang lots of ornaments right there."
"Oooh, good plan dad. Good plan."
"What? It's a sentimental tree!"
"It's a piece of shit, dad. Shit."
"Well, I like it."
His reluctance to spend any money also meant I spent 4 hours going through all the strands of lights trying to figure out which bulbs were broken. By the end of it all my fingers were swollen and sore. I'm not even sure if I have any fingerprints left.
So, that's it. My last trip home. I"ll remember it as long as i continue to smell Phoebe's piss. If you happen to be a passenger in my car, you'll want the back seat.
Women are at a disadvantage when it comes to lots of things. We can't pee standing up, we can't go topless in 95 degree weather, we can't let our beards or arm pit hair grow, and apparently, we can't scooch under our cars to change the oil.
All my life I've watched my father, in his white v-neck t-shirt and painters jeans, lie down on his back and wiggle under the hood of our family cars to change the oil. I have vivid memories of him with black oil on his fingertips, dirt and grime on his back, and wads of crumpled up paper towels littering the cement garage floor around his feet.
As a new sixteen year old driver, my dad changed the oil in Rhoda, my yellow Chevrolet. During my college years, he tried to teach me how to change the oil in Norman, my red Nissan Sentra. The conversations always started the same, "Now, Heather, there's no reason why you should pay $30 to have someone else do this for you. It's so easy even a blond like YOU can learn how to do it." Those conversations usually ended in a compromise. I'd run back and forth to the refrigerator to bring him cold beer if he'd just do it and leave me alone.
Fifteen years and several expensive oil changes later, I decided it was time for me to prove myself an independent and car-savvy woman. No more Jiffy Lube men would look at me and believe they could convince me my car would fall apart without a $400 engine wash.
I was ready to be a serious grease-monkey student.
April and I drove the Saab (which has no name due to my obvious status as a mature adult) to Boston for the Labor Day Weekend. I'm not sure my father truly believed I wanted to learn how to change the oil. I suspect he figured it a ploy by me to have him work on my car while I partook in the finer things Boston has to offer like Little Italy, Cheers Bar and Filene's Basement.
It took donning my own white v-neck t-shirt and drawing grease lines under my eyes to convince him I was serious.
Once partially convinced, my dad chauffeured April and I to the local Auto Zone to buy an oil pan, the appropriate wrench-like tools and, of course, the oil. Almost immediately, the differences in April and my personalities became painfully obvious. If I'm told I need xyz oil, I find the first bottle that reads xyz oil and I'm at the register and in my car. April, on the other hand, noted that several bottles read xyz oil and wanted to know what the difference was. Just freakin' kill me.
While she and my dad labored over the nuances of oil, I turned into a four-year-old child, kicking the floor, touching all the merchandise and whining about being more bored than Michael Jackson at an old folks home. April tried to placate me while my father chose to ignore me altogether.
Once back in the car I felt my confidence start to skyrocket. I, Heather Fitz, was about to say goodbye to my princess moniker and hello to my future as a rough and tumble chick known for being as good with a wrench as she was with a nail polish brush. I nearly broke out into a warbly version of "I'm Every Woman," but thought it might be a bit too over the top. As it was, my under-eye grease marks were running, making me look more like Tammy Fey Baker than any competent female mechanic.
We pulled into the garage and, because old habits die hard, I raced to the refrigerator to grab a few beers. Preparation is, after all, key.
As I've seen him do a million times, my dad sat on the ground with his back facing the hood of the car and laid down, craning his neck so as to miss all the under-guts of my car. Using his feet, he scooted toward the middle of the car and in his best surgeon voice, said "wrench."
"But dad," I said pointedly. "We don't want you to do it! We want to be the ones to do every step. That way we know exactly what we're doing."
"That's fine Heather, but two people aren't fitting under this car. I'll get the bolt loose and you two can finish it."
Somewhat satisfied, I watch as my dad began to loosen the bolt. As he did this, his knuckles grazed the cement floor and he began to bleed a bit. I looked lovingly at my soft, un-scarred hands and said a silent prayer for their preservation.
Once he felt confident the bolt was loose enough (read, it was damn near ready to fall off), he untangled himself from the under-belly of my car and said, "Okay, who's going in?"
April wanted to give it a go. Copying my father's impeccable form, she sat with her back facing the hood of the car, lowered herself down and scooched as far toward the center of the car as she could.
Nothing going. She shoved off with her feet and couldn't get under the car.
Scratching my head, I said, "Get up, let me try."
I too copy my father's formula for getting under the car and the furthest I got was my head and one arm under the car. I pushed again, but the bumper of the car stopped my forward progress.
I was so confused as to why we were having such difficulties. Then I got it.
"DAAAAAAD!!!! We can't get under the car because we have BOOBS!"
Sheepishly, my dad grinned and was, for once, without comment. It's something none of us ever thought about. The last time I changed the oil in a car, I was a kid with no boobs.
Ever the engineer, my father jumped into action. He grabbed a piece of 2 x 2 wood and his saw. As he cut the wood into two pieces, he told me to back the car out of the garage and wait.
I watched as my dad walked back to the center of the garage and put the two pieces of angled wood on the ground. He motioned me forward and up onto the wooden lifts.
Getting out of my car, I just shook my head.
Assuming the position, I laid down on my back and voila! Me, and my boobs, were beneath the car. Under the direct supervision of my father, April and I successfully changed the oil in my car AND trademarked a new must-have accessory for car workin' women.
Boobie Blocks. Lift and Lube.
Rule #1: If you are going to be in my presence and do anything remotely embarrassing or hilarious (or so embarrassing it IS hilarious), I'm going to blog it and share it with the world.
People around me know this. There are no exceptions. I won't candy coat it or gloss over the worst part. It's why my friend Suzi debated whether or not to place an emergency "I need to borrow your white underwear" call in the minutes before she walked down the aisle to marry her husband. She knew. She knew that after I made a crack about "now, THIS gives the phrase 'something borrowed' a new meaning", that I was going to blog it. She admitted she nearly didn't call.
The events surrounding my last visit home to Boston nearly had me rethinking this rule. Not because I had any misgivings about shaming family members, but because I wasn't sure that I, merely by association, wasn't going to be the shamed one. After much thought, I squared my shoulders, took a deep breath, and decided to uphold my blogging integrity.
April and I had been looking forward to going home to Boston to visit my parents over Labor Day. We both really needed the break and we knew we could count on my folks to cart us around and show us a good time. Not to mention that after I spend a weekend with my father, I come home recharged, full of smart-assness and quick wit. He is the master and I've learned well, studying at his feet for some thirty-odd years
This trip was going to be a double-whammy. Not only would I get to spar with my dad, but my uncle Randy and his wife Jodi (my mom's sister) were flying in from Texas to spend the holiday weekend with us. Now, if my dad is the king of wit, Randy, Randy is the pope (I'm going to hell for this analogy. While I burn in hell for comparing the holiest man alive to my redneck uncle Randy, please send the pope my apologies - along with packs of birth control pills and super duper condoms).
I can describe Randy in three words:
That's him. He's that guy...the one sporting a cute little moon-shaped belly over his jeans who wears ball caps, speaks with a heavy southern accent, could care less if he was grammatically correct, and shows his family even less mercy than I do. He is truly the funniest man on the planet. Holding your own with Randy should be an Olympic sport. If he's talking, he's giving you shit.
Enter my concern about April meeting Randy. Unlike the give-it-back-as-good-as-you-get-it atmosphere of my youth, April grew up in a household where there wasn't any sarcasm or self-esteem bashing. In fact, we've joked several times that she's a SPIT (sarcastic person in training). I worked with April on her sarcastic skills before she met my parents, testing her, gauging if she could tell when I was giving her shit or when I was serious. She fared well enough to meet my parents, but Randy, Randy was a different story. I didn't know if there was enough time to prepare her, but the fact my Aunt Jodi was coming with him helped ease my fears some.
Jodi is my mom's younger sister and as opposite of my mother as you can get. Jodi is quiet, non-confrontational and as sweet as they come. My mother, while nurturing, is loud (I love you mom), completely confrontational if she thinks you are wrong, and pretty much takes no shit from anyone.
Jodi is the perfect match for Randy. While he teases her unmercifully, one of the things I love most about Randy is how completely in love his is with her.
Randy and Jodi have been married for 32 years. In fact, Randy introduced my parents (who have been married for 30 years). I've always known he was responsible for what became my family (dear Jesus), but it was on this trip home that all the facts emerged. My recently divorced mother was twenty years old and dating for money – only. I was two years old and required copious amounts of food. Love had burned her, a man's checkbook wouldn't. So she was happily dating a surgeon. She didn't love him, but he liked me and fed me, so life was good.
Then Randy called.
He was in the military and stationed in my mom's hometown of Ft. Walton Beach, Fl. He'd been at a party all day long, so it's actually amazing he could dial a phone. He called my mom and told her to "put on something purty because he was partying with a guy who would knock her socks off."
She told him no and that she was perfectly happy on her money train. She didn't need some young, poor, recently graduated Air Force cadet to complicate her life. Randy persisted, leading my mom to don (I cringe typing this) a one-piece denim jumpsuit with the back cut out of it, her high heel shoes and jingly jewelry. I'm guessing she just tied me to the bed with a sheet and gave me a popsicle.
She showed up at this party and the world stopped. The party was made up of sweaty, dirty boys who'd been wrestling in the mud and drinking all day. Needless to say, she turned a few heads. My dad was so drunk, his head spun several times. Something about a man who couldn't string a sentence together, nor walk a straight line, was attractive to my mother, so she accompanied him to their first date at Shoney's and they were married a few months later.
Ya'll, I'm not even to the good stuff yet. Seriously.
April and I arrived in Boston a little before Jodi and Randy. My mom actually pulled me aside and asks, "Have you warned April about Randy?"
I hadn't. Not yet. I was going to, but had been trying to figure out just how to explain him. But he was on his way, so I did my best to prepare her without scaring her. I quickly pointed out that she'd LOVE my Aunt Jodi and that Randy would grow on her as long as she never, ever, took him seriously.
Randy and Jodi arrived and the greetings began. I'm not sure what April expected, but she timidly shook his hand and flinched a little when he began to speak. He said "Hey, nice to meecha." Bullet one dodged. Clearly he was going to break her in easy.
My Aunt Jodi looked fabulous. She's lost a ton of weight. I think she's been doing Weight Watchers – I zoned out as she and April excitedly talked about points and carbs and sugar-free diets. I was impressed the entire weekend with how committed Jodi was to her diet. She ate no sweets, had only small portions and knew how many points everything in our house was worth. You may wonder why I'm spending so much time describing my aunt's dietary habits….read on if you have a strong stomach (and a barf bucket nearby).
I'll skip over the majority of the weekend, except to say I didn't kick the drunk man's ass at the Red Sox game and my favorite restaurant truly is the Chinese hole in the wall we visit every time I'm home. Let's skip right to the housewarming party my parents threw the night before April and I left.
The party was to celebrate the completion of the house my parents have spent more than two years renovating. They seriously could host their own HGTV show. Every square inch of that house has been touched by my parents. Due to the fact the house was always in a state of disarray, my folks never invited people over. My parents are party (read, drinking) people, so what better excuse to get tanked than to have all their friends over and give tours of the house?
The party started out innocently enough. Coworkers came over, neighbors came over. My mother toured them through the house, explaining the treatment they gave this wall, why they chose those cabinets, what made them buy that painting in Italy, etc. Everyone oohed and ahhed. Me, Randy and April milled around a bit, but mostly we drank beer and watched football in the kitchen.
My mom was kicking back consecutive glasses of wine and my dad never had a hand free of Samuel Adams finest brew. But no one was drunk. That didn't happen until most of the guests left, leaving only my mom, dad, me, April and the adorable couple who live in the house directly behind my parents. Mark and Anna (I think those are their names – Mark and Anna, forgive me if you aren't actually Mark and Anna. I trust you know who you are in this story. You're probably still receiving counseling for it).
Let me preface this by saying that my Aunt Jodi rarely ever drinks. Ever. On this night, she'd had a few glasses of wine, but there are Weight Watcher points for wine, so she was monitoring herself.
As we all gathered around the kitchen table, my father filled glass after glass of wine and before long, Jodi stopped counting. We all laughed as Anna and Mark told stories of the crack heads who used to own my parents house.
I started to notice that my aunt Jodi was becoming really friendly toward Anna.
You know how you get when you are about to cross that "one more drink and I'm your best friend" line. Every time Anna would start to join the group discussion, my Aunt Jodi would slap her arm and say "Anna! Anna, you and me, we're the EXACT same! We're just alike. I really like you Anna!"
God love Anna. She was so cool that she just smiled and said she loved my aunt too.
I looked to my parents, but I knew they weren't going to be any help. My father was so amused, he'd gone to the freezer to get out the Lemoncello. If you haven't ever had this Italian liquor, it means your innards are still as God intended. I can't even gag a sip of it down.
I looked to my mom, wondering if she'll nix my father's plan to inebriate the crowd further, but she was slurring her words as she described my father's HIGH SCHOOL girlfriend (I swear). I'm wondering if I should rescue Mark and Anna. They probably walked over to my parents' party thinking, "Let's just go for a minute and say hey. After all, this looks like a sweet, middle-aged couple and they were nice enough to invite us over. It would be rude not to go."
I was still contemplating Operation Neighbor Rescue as my dad poured several large shot glasses of lemoncello. April, myself and my mother shared one of them. My aunt jodi drank the other. All of it. DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN.
Immediately she began doing what all drunks do. Pour herself more to drink. Three full glasses of red wine later, my aunt might as well have been sitting in poor Anna's lap. And I'm quite certain Anna had a bruise on her left arm from where my aunt kept hitting her, insisting they were "EXACTLY the same" and that "their husbands were best friends" and that they "HAVE to come to Texas for a visit."
My parents seemed absolutely oblivious to this. My mom was talking Mark's ear off – in between interruptions from Jodi who is screaming – "HEY, HEY MARK! WHY AREN'T YOU GOING TO PLAY GOLF? RANDY IS REALLY GOOD. HE CAN TEACH YOU!"
Randy knows his wife is teetering. He told her, in his Randy way, to stop drinking and be quiet. She won't. She wants more wine. Which she promptly spilt all over Anna.
Here's where I have to say I think Anna is a saint, sent from Heaven. She politely smiled, said it's no big deal (and meant it), wiped up the red wine, and kept telling her story. The same one she started an hour ago, but had been unable to finish due to my aunt's infatuation with their "sameness."
I have to say here, that I adore my aunt. Even drunk. She is the most loveable person you'll ever meet. And I love that Anna saw that in her too. I don't understand it, but Anna and Mark were actually having fun with my drunk-ass family.
The party started at 4pm and it was now close to 11pm. I started to move dishes to the sink and Mark and Anna began to say their goodbyes. I truly thought my aunt was going to attach herself to Anna's leg. They managed to escape, after promising my aunt they'd visit her in Texas. I thought the night was over.
Will I never learn?
I turned around from washing some dishes and saw my dad pouring my aunt another glass of wine. SERIOUSLY? I shoot him a "you know better look!" and he smirked. Jodi swung the glass around, spilling some, all while trying to help me clear my mother's crystal dishes off the table.
I rescued the dishes and told her I had it under control. But she wanted to help. April managed to distract Jodi, listening as she told her how much she really liked Anna and Mark. April just nods her head and responded with "I love you too" when my aunt professed her love for April.
Randy kept coming into the kitchen saying "You see! You see what you've done. You have no idea what you've started. I knew I shoulda found me a new wife while I had the chance."
Jodi laughed and hiccuped.
Oh shit. Hiccups. Any good drunk knows this sign.
I sat down at the table, across from Jodi and asked if she wanted some water. No, she would like more wine.
I DARED my dad to move toward the bottle.
Randy sat down and started talking about how much Jodi had to drink and I saw Jodi turn white.
"RANDY, STOP IT!" I yelled. "She's seriously going to chuck if you keep talking about that. Just let her alone."
That did it. He was never going to stop now. He went on and on and he and my dad became twelve year olds, egging each other on.
I saw her convulse.
"Fuck. Randy, get her something, she's gonna throw up!" I jumped out of my seat, frantically looking for something close to me to slide under her mouth.
I think it was April who found a plastic cup.
Ya'll, I'm not making this up. She threw up JUST enough to fill that cup to the brim. She held the rest until we put a mixing bowl in front of her, then she proceeded to fill that ALL the way up too.
I will admit, the moment she started throwing up, I ran to the living room. I was in serious danger of blowing chunks myself. I am not good with throw up. I heard Randy screaming "JESUS, woman! Can't you hold your liquor! I always knew you were a cheap drunk."
My mother and April joined me in the living room, we were all laughing so hard we were crying.
My mom said, "You HAVE to blog this!" April brought me a pen and paper. About that time, Randy brought the bowl of throw up to us and said, "This here is purple in color. Do not be mistaken, it is NOT fixin's for tomorrow's blueberry pie."
He is not right. In so many ways.
We made Randy clean it up himself, laughing as he muttered something about nasty-ass drunk behavior. As he carried my aunt up the stairs, she struggled to open her eyes and said, "Hey, I think I just puked up all my points! I can eat more tomorrow!"
Ya'll. I'm serious.
Randy shook his head and as he stood there, on the stairs, he looked at April and says, "Do you really want to be part of this family, April? Look at us. Take a REAL good look at us."
I can't say I blamed him for asking. Not at this point.
But April, much like Anna and Mark, was having a ball. She found it all quite amusing.
Our attention turned to my parents and my mom says, "Well, I am not drunk!" I quickly begged to differ, citing her inability to walk in a straight line or speak without sounding like she might have assigned seating on the short bus.
Indignant, she instructed April, who is a police officer, to issue her a sobriety test. I'm not even going to detail this. I wish you could see the photos. They are priceless. She failed.
It had been a long night and the dishes were finally clean. As April and I drug our weary asses up the stairs, we passed the closed door of the room where Jodi and Randy were sleeping. I pounded on the door and screamed "Randy, don't you touch her! It's against the law if she's not conscious!"
To which he yelled back:
"She said YES this afternoon! It's all good. GIT R DONE!"
All true. Every bit of it. So, who'd like to come with on my next trip home? Anyone? Anyone?
At least three times a day, I find myself shaking my head, saying, "April, WHAT am I going to do with you?!"
Her reply, while batting her long-lashed blue eyes at me: "love me."
How can you argue that? You cant. Last night I tried.
The night started the same as all others. I threw everything off the bed and onto the floor, pretending to stack it in piles so as to satisfy April's OCD tendencies.
I straightened the sheets and bedspread because regardless of whether there was any hanky panky the night before, they always find their way to the foot of the bed, twisted and mangled.
I removed two tennis balls from my side of the bed, knowing the minute I did so, Rosie, our dog, would sadistically bring them back up and place them perfectly under my back.
I burrowed down into the bed, my foam pillow framing my head, my stubbly legs intertwined with Aprils stubbly legs.
It's not that April has never talked in her sleep before. She does it frequently. And it never makes any sense. You'll think she's awake because she's trying to have a conversation with you.
She'll want you to respond to her emphatic observation that "Oprah and peanut butter in my shoe are frigid!" Riiiiiight.
But last night, she did more than stir me from my beauty rest to spew random factoids about talk show hosts and her penchant for peanut butter shoes.
At about, oh, 3:00 a.m., I wake up to BLOOD CURDLING screams.
I'm talking, "a man is in your room wielding a butcher knife", screams. I nearly leapt out of bed, sending Jean-Paul, our toy poodle who was sleeping soundly on my chest, sailing through the air. I screamed, "What?! What?!"
April, normally calm and never one to raise her voice for any reason, got pissy and yelled "Stop! That burns my leg! STOP!!!"
What the fuck? Im not TOUCHING her leg! Silly me, I tried to reason with her, because I thought she must surely be awake.
"April," I said calmly (ok, it wasnt calmly, I was irritated, I admit it), "April, I'm not TOUCHING YOU. Stop yelling!"
"It's BURNING! Stop, my leg is BURNING!!"
Now, if April had been writhing around in pain, I might have bought the whole "my leg is on fire" story. But she wasn't. She was just yelling at me, berating me for touching her leg and setting it on fire. I realized, finally, that she was dreaming, and turned my back on her and willed myself back to sleep.
About 4:30 a.m., I woke up and rolled over. No April. I spooned Rosie, figuring April took Jean-Paul to go to the bathroom. I tried to go back to sleep, but 15 minutes elapsed and she still had not come back to bed. Sighing, I trodded downstairs to see what was keeping her. For all I knew, she was ablaze in our front yard....
I found her curled up in our recliner and a ½ eaten bowl of pistachio pudding filled in the rest of the blanks. I tapped her toes, frustrated that she'd interrupted my night for the second time.
"April, what are you doing?!"
She told me she took Jean out and fell asleep. We trodded up the stairs and back into bed.
Oh, if only the story stopped there.
It wasn't yet 6:00 a.m. when April started screaming. Again. The man with the knife was back. Only this time, he brought 4 friends.
I had had it. But before I could express my displeasure, she yelled:
"ARGGGHHH!!! Her nails are like KNIVES in my back! Get her off! Get her off!!!!!!"
The dog. Rosies nails grazed April's naked back and in her drama-queen induced sleep state, April feigned intolerable pain and suffering.
"April, STOP IT! NOW!"
"You wouldn't be saying that if her nails were on YOUR BACK!! Has she ever stood on YOUR back? Has she?!"
"No April, she hasn't. You're so right. It deserves screams like that. You are SO right." Both irritated, we rolled over and went back to sleep.
Morning light rolled around and so did April, right up next to me. Then she started laughing.
"Hurmph?" I say.
"I'm just recalling last night and how mad you got, for no reason!"
"NO REASON? April, you scared the shit out of me twice for nothing!" I proceeded to explain the chain of events from MY perspective. Not only couldn't she recall her leg being on fire, she was still LAUGHING.
"Well," she said, "did you even CHECK to see if something was on my leg? What if something HAD been burning me? What if I were being bit by a scorpion?!"
Seriously? A SCORPION?
"No April, no I didn't check you for scorpions. My bad. I totally should have."
We moved on to the dog nail portion of the morning. She tried to convince me of the pain involved in that incident. When I don't buy it, she uprooted our sleeping dog and planted her on my back in order to prove her point.
Now I was laughing.
"April, WHAT am I going to do with you?"
Totally. I totally do.
In your new book, you call the four 911 widowers "broads" and say you've never seen women so happy to capitalize on the deaths of their husbands...
So here's my question for you....is your book free? Or are you just another broad capitalizing on the deaths of their husbands? I'm confused...you're different how?
It's been a mere four days since April and I began cohabitating. So it's only natural that we'd do what I'm sure any other red-blooded couple would do on a Thursday evening, what with experiencing 24/7 access to each other for the first time in our nearly year-long courtship...
Wax each other's upper lips. OF COURSE.
I knew that I was long over due for the wax. And after seeing April last Saturday for the first time in four weeks, it was immediately clear I wasn't on the hairy-lip island by my lonesome.
April and I decided that tonight was the night. But before we get a chance to drag out the wax, April's phone rang and it turned out there was an abundance of crazy people in the emergency room at the hospital and she had to go "therapize" them. She inhaled the rest of her sweet and sour chicken and ran upstairs to take a shower. She emerged a few minutes later in her hospital scrubs and carrying a pouch.
"Hey, wanna do our lips real quick? I've got the stuff right here...it'll only take a minute."
I say sure and followed her into the kitchen. I figured, as long as it didn't involve her coming at me with a pair of scissors, I should be safe (she massacred my dog a few months back.she can not be trusted with sharp objects).
Into the microwave went the wax...out it came...piping, no STEAMING hot. She says:
"Ok, look at me and hold your lips taught."
"APRIL, that shit is STEAMING. I'm going to get LIP LESIONS if you put that on my face. No joke...like 3rd degree burns!"
She called me a baby and says, "Shut your lip!"
Against my better judgment, I held my lips taught as visions of my wounded puppy danced through my head. She brought the applicator to my lip and the moment it hit my flesh I started hopping up and down, hooting and hollering, screaming obscenities and pushing her hand away.
She answered me with peals of laughter, sputtering that she had to put the paper on my lip before the wax dried. She calmed me down enough to do so and rubbed the paper to my lip...and yanked. The yanking I'm okay with. The fire truck engine red lip, I could do without. She went to the other side, still laughing, her hands shaking so much she dribbled the wax down the side of my face. GREAT. Now I'll look like a burn victim ALL OVER. She couldn't stop laughing, I couldn't stop hopping around.
But I survived and smiled. Because IT'S MY TURN TO DO HER LIP.
I suggested we should heat up the wax again. I mean...fairs fair. She told me, not surprisingly, that it should still be hot enough. Hurmph.
Before she let me apply the wax, she ripped off a paper napkin and tucked it into her shirt. What? She thinks I'm THAT out of control with the wax? Like...I'm going to miss and wax her torso? Whatever.
Up went the applicator and I spread the goo across one half of her lip. I Grabbed the paper-thingy and rubbed tightly. Then I pulled.
Nothing. The wax dried on her lip, leaving a sticky, tacky mess. I started laughing so hard tears leapt from my eyes. She started hollering about getting it off because she had to go in to work. I tried again. No go. More wax stuck to the wax already stuck to her lip.
By this point, were both laughing hysterically. She told me to heat it up again and try to get the ½ " layer of wax off her lip. Bringing the smoking wax back out of the microwave, I applied it to her lip and ignoring her screams, I pulled...this time in a different direction and it worked.
"ARGHHHHHHHHHH! Heather, SEE! YOU GO AGAINST THE GRAIN!!!"
She said it like I was purposefully NOT going against the grain so that I could make our waxing session last into the wee hours of the morning. Um, had she ASKED, I would have told her that NONE of my college classes even TOUCHED on lip waxing.
I did the other side with little fanfare...unless you count the uncontrollable giggles that coursed through my entire body.
So that's it. My Thursday night. I'm nursing my lips as I type this and committing the phrase "AGAINST THE GRAIN" to memory.
Tomorrow I'm going to ask April if I can wax her legs...
It's Sunday morning.
I drag my weary ass out of bed to take my dog out to pee.
I feel like I've been hit by a mac truck, my body battered and bruised from spending the past 7 days on a construction site for Habitat for Humanity's all women build (blog to come).
After my obligatory 20 minute "where the fuck are my keys" search, I open the door and step outside.
There, parked on the street right next to my house is a battered school bus.
A college kid, still in his clothes from last night, is passed out on the roof, a beer mug still in his hands.
I think to myself, "oh..right. graduation."
And somehow, that makes it make sense.
On Friday I called Susan Stankas, head of P-FLAG in Fredericksburg, VA.
The purpose of the call was to interview her for an article I'm writing on Suzanne Moe, the incredible woman who shot the documentary Love In the Face of Hate (the story of a lesbian couple forced to move from the state of VA thanks to legislation called the Affirmation of Marriage Act).
Suzanne suggested I talk to Susan because of the help she provided for the film.
Immediately I felt a connection with Susan. I've never met her, but we clicked. In between answering my interview questions, we shared our stories, our lives.
She told me how she struggled for three years when her eldest son John told her he was gay.
She told me about how she decided to chose her son over her fear and become an activist for his rights.
She told me of the exact moment in time when she realized people needed to put their CHILD'S face on the gay stereotype instead of the gay stereotype on their child.
She told me about the fight she had with a religious leader who told her that her son was going to hell.
Her response: "God doesn't make junk and I can assure you my son IS NOT junk."
I found myself telling her my coming out story, my desire to live without having to apologize for my lifestyle.
That's where Susan cut me off and said -
"Heather, PLEASE never use the word lifestyle again. It implies you have a choice and are choosing to be different. Just say, I will not apologize for my LIFE."
Right. I will not apologize for my LIFE.
Thank you for helping me make that connection Susan. Thank you.
In preparation for moving to Virginia to be with my love April, I began to pack my car with boxes every time I'd visit.
Filled to capacity with everything from artwork to my portfolio to these cool rectangular tin bowls that I love, I pointed my Saab toward Fredericksburg, VA for another long 7- hour Friday night trip.
Literally on autopilot, my hands took the wheel while my mind busied itself with the weekend task list. Paint the guest bedroom. Make April sign an agreement she won't touch the trim work. Mow the lawn. Get to Lowe's to pick out new bathroom fixtures for the remodel. Hang artwork so dog paws won't shred the canvases. Attend surprise birthday party for friend. Softball practice on Sunday (whoooooole 'nother blog right there).
Oddly, nowhere on that list was: spend 4 hours getting dog stitched and medicated.
Had Rosie, my dog, known her options, I'm guessing she would have opted to miss this particular trip.
Skip to Saturday morning. April and I are both up, ready to attack our to-do list. She's in the kitchen making French toast and I've got Rosie in a headlock on the patio, trying to get her to sit still so I can shave her.
Rosie is a cocker spaniel / Llahsa Apso mix. Don't know what that looks like? Think Ewok and you're right on target. She has tons of hair and the clippers were pretty well useless - or was I just clipper inept and in need of a lesson?
I call for such a lesson because I don't want to cause Rosie unnecessary discomfort. April hurriedly comes out to the patio and explains I need to first cut some of the hair off my poor, unsuspecting dog. She picks up the blue-handled scissors (death tools) and starts snipping away at the hair on Rosie's back. Quickly. She has French toast cooking.
Now, moments before the dreaded SNIP, I thought. "Heather, you should tell her to be careful because Rosie has so much hair she might accidentally cut her." But nooo. I don't want to be a nag.
HOWLLLLLLLLLL. WHIIIIINEEE. CRYYYYYYYY.
Oh shit. She accidentally cut the dog.
Clank. The death tools hit the floor. Bug eyed, we both stare at each other and then SLOWLY lower our eyes to the cowering Ewok.
Look closer. A little bit of blood. Touch it. AURGHHHHHHH! Flap of skin moves....it lifts up...a half-dollar size incision and I see MUSCLE! I see my dog's MUSCLE! Dear god in heaven. If you know me, you know I do NOT handle anything bloody, gory or wound-ie at all. Ask me later about Scary Kym burning herself (3rd degree) and instead of helping her, I fainted and also had to go to the hospital for a minor concussion. No lie.
April and I roll around the patio, nauseous and in shock. Rosie just sits there, seemingly fine. I know that shit hurt! April is beside herself, so upset because she thought she was cutting a matt of hair (in her defense, Rosie is covered in matts right now - she looks like a Rastafarian ewok). I assured April I wasn't angry with her - just sick on my stomach and worried about such a deep wound becoming infected. Not to mention I'd just seen my dogs innards. Her Innards! I wanted to barf in my mouth.
If you folded the flap of skin back down, you couldn't even tell where it was. No blood, no nothing. We decided a trip to the vet was a must. Just to check it out. All excited about going "bye bye", Rosie leaps into the car like she doesn't have a piece of her back all Edward-Scissorhanded off.
I want you to imagine us as we enter the vet and try to explain "what the problem is." Um, yeah. See, we cut her. That's right. We did. Just took a big ol' hunk out of her back. Not only did we have to tell the receptionist and the dr. this, but everyone else in the waiting room who wanted to know what such a cute dog was doing at the vet. People just smiled politely and said"ooohhhhh." Damn it people it was an accident!
As we wait, there are several kids in the waiting room running all kinds of crazy. After telling them we cut our dog, April says "Note to self - be careful with scissors." NOTE TO SELF? These kids range in age from 2 to 8. They're looking at her like, HUH? And so am I. She might as well of said, "Coincidentally, the angle at which you hold the scissors should be horizontal to..." I just shook my head.
So, a doctor who barely speaks English examines Rosie and through a series of hand gestures and a nurse translator we're told she definitely has to have stitches and might need to be put under. And we'll need to leave her. Panic. Panic that might have been soothed had we been given a bit of individual attention instead of standing in the back room where they kennel dogs, sort meds, answer phones and analyze urine. The doctor is talking about anesthetizing my dog while sitting on the floor fighting with a beagle who'd prefer NOT to have her anal glands expressed. HELLO. Over here. Back to the dog with the gaping wound on her back. Ok, it wasn't gaping, but to me it might as well have been.
Uneasy, we leave Rosie and head back to the house to paint the guest bedroom. April is SO sorry and feels horrible. She says, "I mean I'd rather cut YOU than the dog!" Nice. Really nice. She got punched. I felt better.
Exactly 4 hours later, we call to check on her and they say she's doing great. She's awake and made it through the ordeal just fine. We pick her up and other than sporting a shaved back with 7 dissolvable stitches, you'd never know she'd been the victim of pet grooming gone bad. In fact, other than the initial sting of the cut, I'm not sure she ever was in much pain. April and my pain was FAR worse. Especially after getting the $270 bill.
I will say this...while I in no way hold April responsible for the trauma, I have used it to my advantage. She'd tell me to do something and I'd look accusingly at her and say, "I'm sorry, I can't. Why? Because my dog has stitches in her back." Yeah, that's how i roll....
All this to say, NOTE TO SELF - the angle at which you hold the scissors should be horizontal to.....