poof…

He was 18 when he died.  Clear, dry autumn day.  Leaving work at noon, in light traffic on the highway. 

On my way back to work after lunch, i was headed in the opposite direction, traffic slowed due to the massive emergency response on the other side of the highway.  MedEvac helicopter parked on the highway near his upside down sport utility vehicle.  There was a large body on the gurney next to the helicopter.  Emergency personnel were standing by, but not doing anything.  According to the news reports i read later, he’d just been pronounced dead.

Reading about the one car accident, which had traffic stopped for almost five hours, i later learned his age, and gained a glimpse into who he was.  He moved to the area with his family in 2005, following Hurricane Katrina’s devastating blow to New Orleans.  He lived with his family and worked two jobs, while going to community college part time. 

Words from friends and those who knew him were moving.  He was a “gentle giant” – 360 pounds, well over six feet tall.  And full of love, kindness and humanity.  Always ready to lend a helping hand or a strong shoulder to a friend or stranger.

Every day i drive home over the place where he died.  The blackened rubber tire marks that cut a swath across three lanes of traffic are beginning to fade.  i think about him. 

No twenty-first birthday party with friends.  No proud graduation day.  No engagement or wedding, shared with a delighted family.  Children not to be… a proud father, coaching and cheering.  No heartbreak as he buries his elderly parents and realizes he’s now the grown up.   No mid-life crisis.  No retirement planning.

Poof.  A future erased.  Just like that…

Post-Game Analysis

Random post-game neural firings after spending eight weeks of my life engaged in an all consuming hobby…

- No regrets: Although it was a monstrous pain in the ass, and it ate my life for two months, i don’t regret it. It was funny. People laughed their asses off. It was the most “stage time” i’ve ever had in a show (we were on stage in all but two songs), and i liked my character. Pushed my limits, as well as my vocal range. Got lots of laughs – both with the scripted lines and the ad libs developed along the way.

- Ego-feeding: Although there are many reasons people get involved in community theater, for me, it’s simply “ego fodder”. Yes. i can sing. i can dance. Oh, and i’m an engineer (“oooooh!”). With a decent rack, too (“schwing”). i like the challenge, but mostly i get off on the laughter and applause. Performing. Being appreciated. Delighting an audience. Got lots of that over the past two weekends… Ego Chow delivered? Check.

- Salvation: Normally, there’s also an aspect of “team” to a show. This time? A “micro-team”. If it hadn’t been for AU, my stage-sis, and my best friend working sound in the tech booth? i’d have been cutting myself at the half-way point. Our Thursday night meanderings to the nearby biker bar for dollar beers and “dancing with pool cues” saved me. Most of the other folks in the show were fine, just kept to themselves…

- Relief: Unlike my last theatrical venture, there is no bittersweet, post-production let down. Only relief. During the show, our phenomenal stage manager would immediately re-set props after they were used on stage. During our final performance on Sunday? He returned them to the props room, or costume room, as they were used. Mid-way through Act I i noticed decreasing items on the tables – and i got excited! i gained energy through the performance, knowing that it was the LAST TIME we’d be doing a song or scene. “ Woo hoo! Never again have to hear that line of dialogue! No more slow motion choreography because She is singing at half tempo! Never again have to dance with a toilet brush and rubber gloves*”

- Divas: i’m one, too. Perhaps a lowercase “d”, but this particular hobby seems to bring out the worst of it in me. Frustrated when She was apparently not putting in effort outside of rehearsal time, frustrated when She’d drop lines, frustrated by the lack of direction**… i was prone to making bets with my partners in crime. “What are the odds she’ll spit that line out right this time?” or “Five bucks says i don’t get a note at all tonight – good or bad. He’ll just ignore my existence” (won that one). Try as i might to maintain a professional demeanor, my attitude leaked out, and didn’t exactly help the cohesion of the troupe…

- Natural Born Critics: Last Saturday night, both of my children and my daughter’s boyfriend, ZZ, attended the show. After hearing me bleat for months about the ugliness along the way, they were looking forward to seeing the resulting train wreck. In the lobby, within earshot of several cast members, The Girl said “It didn’t suck nearly as bad as I thought it would!” The Boy was even more direct: “That woman? Screeching? If I’d had two pencils I’d have shoved them point-first into my ears to stop the noise!” They mentioned highlights, too. A funny line here, or a good bit of delivery. But for The Boy? It was “Ms. GreatAss Can’t-Act For Shit” that stole his heart. “Damn, that was some world-class ass.” i mentioned that she’s kinda bitchy and he pointed out “All the better. I’d feel less guilty for the ‘fuck ‘n chuck’ routine”. Makes me proud, it does…

- Done: i think i’m cured. The compound frustrations encountered during this particular production have cured me of this pesky hobby. This is only one way for me to spend my discretionary time, and i’ve done so at the expense of other interests. Fuck that. Although i can’t say “never”, i can say “chapter closed”. It was exactly 10 years ago The Girl inspired me to audition for a production of “Gypsy”, which landed us both on stage together – her as a Torreadorable and me as Miss Mazeppa, the bugle playing stripper. Since then? i’ve been on (and off) the board of directors 3 times, have been involved with fund raising as well as many other shows and events. Although i’ve made friends for a lifetime, there are a few other encounters that have been less than pleasant. Ten years? That’s enough. Onward…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

* The choreography for one song included the three of us dancing with toilet brushes. Much like a version of the song found here on youtube…. And this was pretty much my favorite dance number! i successfully fought the urge to accidently get my toilet brush tangled in The Diva’s gigantic wig during our final performance…. That would have been mean. Funny, but mean…

** Not a bad director. Just very ‘hands off’. To the point of not actually doing much “directing”. Throughout rehearsals, he only made TWO suggestions on how i delivered specific lines. The rest? Pretty much up to us. After blocking the show, he sat and watched us do it. Occasionally made suggestions, corrections or changes but for the most part just let it all happen. Other than commending The Diva when she finally got something right? Very little positive feedback either…

My misplaced child…

i suppose it’s possible that i actually had three, and forgot where i put the last one.  i mean, those years are pretty much a blur, with working full time, going to grad school at night and caring for my two elder-sprogs…

If i DID misplace one?  i think i found him via the good folks at Failblog.  See if you can find my potentially misplaced child below…

 epic-fail-school-pictures-fail

Been a bit delinquent in actual writing lately.  Final weekend of the show, and i expect to get my life back shortly.  Nearly sold out opening weekend, and an exuberant sell out crowd last night.  Despite the fact that She continued to fuck up, we got our first standing ovation.  More importantly?  They laughed their asses off throughout.  Two more to go…

clothing optional

The Girl has successfully been repatriated into my basement.  Painting, decorating, purging and organizing is mostly done.  She has also scored not one, but two, part-time jobs while she continues her search for career-grade employment.

We are doing pretty well learning to cohabitate again.  She is a good cook.  That helps.  A lot.  Her boyfriend, ZZ, has become a fairly regular visitor.  Over the past month, he’s starting to acclimate to the strangeness of our clan.  Oh, and he is a good cook, too.  That helps.  A lot. 

Monday night, i was enjoying a rehearsal-free evening, and was putzing about the condo.  As is often the case, i was wearing a tank top and underwear.  i was putzing.  That’s the general garb one wears when putzing, right? 

As i was scooting out of the kitchen, moving something from Point A to Point B, i noticed ZZ step onto the front porch, about to ring the doorbell.  i just opened the door, standing sort of behind it and said “Hi.  i’m not wearing pants.  She’s downstairs…”

ZZ laughed, and trooped down the stairs.  i heard him announce to The Girl “Your mom isn’t wearing pants…” but i couldn’t hear her reply.

Last night, i apologized for the misfire. 

The Girl:  Yeah, I told him that I was surprised it hadn’t happened sooner.

daisyfae:  Well, it’s kinda what i wear most of the time… i hope he wasn’t too freaked out.

The Girl:  Oh, no.  He said “It’s nice to see the thighs from which you sprung…”

daisyfae: *snort* oh, shit…

The Girl:  I just told him “Not exactly.  It was a C-section…”

drama – a fugue in 2 parts…

Opening weekend for the show was fine.  “Fine”, as in, “Whatever”.  After a fairly stressful tech week – where The Diva continued to surprise us with her failure to remember even the most basic lines, blocking or music – she managed to pull a massive rectal extraction on opening night and not fuck up beyond repair.  A good surprise.

Suppose it might have been a case of her setting the expectations low so that even a marginal improvement would be met with “bravo!  you didn’t suck out loud! yay!”  Maybe she’s more clever than i gave her credit for…  But still got many comments from local theater folks along the lines of “What the fuck is up with Diva?” regarding her inability to dance, sing, move or act…  They’ve all seen her do better, and are wondering “whazzup”…

Full house opening night, with nearly full houses on the following Saturday and Sunday.  Not that difficult when you are dealing with a ~100 seat theater.  But it makes us feel all warm and squishy inside to know that there are butts in seats.  Whatever…

No major disasters on Saturday and Sunday.  Although it’s harder than hell to generate much energy for a fucking matinee performance…  Whatever…

For me?  Even a bit more challenging as the “real” trailer park had ventured north on Sunday for the performance.  My niece, DQ, and her husband BJ brought Mom up to see the show.  After the family reunion in July, a nearby cousin* decided to join up and she drove in from another city to meet up with the family.   Was nice to see her and her husband.

Rounding out the clan-attack?  My adorable step-niece, JS, and her partner, R.  This would be the young woman spawned by my eldest sister’s second husband, G, the transvestite, suicidal bank robber…  i love this kid.  She’s been through real shit, and has managed to maintain a degree of functionality that is astonishing.  Further proof that one can escape a trailer park…

But the real trailer park drama was percolating about 60 miles to the south all weekend.  My sister, T, aka “The Miami Hurricane”, blew into town to visit Mom on Friday.  How did i find out she was coming?  A random message she sent to my cousin on facebook saying “hope to see you when I’m in town next weekend”.  No advance notice.  And no one from The Park had bothered to tell T that Mom’s savings are about to be blown to build a mega-trailer.

Given that Mom’s living arrangements are changing fast- excavations are already underway on the outside of her house to add the addition so that DQ and BJ can move in – i thought it important to pre-warn T before she arrived.  T** has a deep and abiding disgust for DQ’s ability to manipulate Mom’s finances to suit her purposes.  But T does NOT have recent situational awareness*** since the rest of the crew treats T with kid gloves.  Due to her pesky tendency to “lock and load” on the bullshit that happens in The Park…

Attempting to head off a Category 5 Hurricane from the southlands, i tried like hell to get in touch with my sister during the week.  Didn’t hear from her until i got an e-mail Friday at noon saying “we’re on the plane.  been a busy week.  will call you when we land.”  But given that i have this pesky day-job – never mind the nightly rehearsals - i wasn’t able to connect with her before she hit town.

As Mom explained it to me, T was beyond pissed off about the plan.  Seeing it as pure exploitation, T actually told Mom “I’d rather DIE than live with them…” and “Shit, it’s much worse than I thought”.  Ouch.  Mom tried to explain that given the options, it seemed the best way forward… But T is not always the best listener when enraged.

In the end, i’m going to have to bite a silver bullet and try to talk T down from the ledge.  i promised Dad i’d ‘look out’ for them.  My role is to keep them from killing each other.  Much like the Soviet Union kept the residents of the Balkan states from slitting throats, i’ve got to re-engage and educate my sister so she stops the sabre rattling and let’s it be… and threaten force from time to time to keep them in line.

Whatever….

wishing like hell i could make myself give a damn...

wishing like hell i could make myself give a damn...

* Eldest daughter of my gnarly and bitter Aunt Helen.  Cousin is very cool.  Sweet of her to come to town to see the show…

** T is the bipolar lesbitarian professor.  When Dad was about halfway through his bout with cancer, she waged war on my niece DQ in a manner that i still struggle to forgive… ah, but that’s a future post….

*** Shipped her a quick e-mail, mentioning that we needed to chat.  That Mom seems happier than she’s been in years, despite the appearance of financial exploitation it seems the best path forward.  Oh, and mentioned that DQ had a miscarriage earlier in the week (announced via Facebook) and suggesting that she go easy while in town…

Towanda!

One of the nice things about having breast cancer is that for the rest of your life you visit your oncologist every year. Sort of like having a “cancer-stalking ninja” sitting on your shoulder. During my annual mammogram two weeks ago, an ‘area of concern’ was spotted in my right tit*. Biopsy was recommended.

It wasn’t a tumor, just a cluster of microcalcifications.  These are normally scattered throughout the breast and are of no concern unless they cluster.  Even if clustered, they are usually just indicative of pre-cancerous cellular abnormalities, and generally don’t evolve into invasive cancer.

Bottom line?  It was no big deal.  Even if it was bad, it wasn’t bad. 

So the biopsy was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.  Both of my children, and the two friends i told about it, offered to drive me to the appointment, but i declined.  Hopped in the jeep after lunch and drove myself to the hospital.  No big deal.  Local anesthetic is used for a stereotactic biopsy, and there is no concern about driving post-procedure. 

The stereotactic biopsy is the first approach attempted in such a case.  When the little nuggets are that small, sometimes a wire-localization surgical biopsy is required.  More extensive, still local anaesthetic, and good to avoid if possible.

Joking with the medical staff, i reminded them that these are the Model Year 2007 Bionic Twins we’re dealing with… The objective was to get something for pathology without mashing it into a thumbless mitten…  Given the size and location of the clump, the doc wasn’t sure he’d be able to get it.  The staff prepared me for several attempts, and said it might take an hour to just find it.  It took a full 90 minutes of x-ray imaging before the doc could do the core biopsy. 

That’d be 90 minutes with me lying face down on a hard table, tit through a hole, and strategically crushed between two plates.  While not painful, it wasn’t particularly comfortable.  “Don’t move!”  Right.  i stayed as still as i could.  The doctor, knowing that i was getting stiff, reached up to reassure me, placing his hand squarely on my left ass cheek.  Not sure he realized it… but i still didn’t move**.  Given that the doc was pretty sure we’d have to go back for a wire-localization, i was relieved that he was able to get a sample for pathology.

The doctor and staff said that i had been an ideal patient.  Relaxed, flexible and tolerant – with a fairly high threshold for discomfort.  Otherwise, they said, they’d have referred me for the wire-localized surgical biopsy.

When it was over, i wandered back out the the parking lot*** on a gorgeous autumn day, sucking in the fresh humidity-free air and drinking in the high-pressure blue sky.  Hopped back in my jeep. 

“i am one badass motherfucker” was the random thought that popped into my head…

When i went through the process almost three years ago, i went to all of my appointments and procedures alone.  With the random thought that flashed in my head, i finally realized why i do it this way.  It provides the illusion of power and control.  It makes me feel strong. 

The reality?  i was just as scared on that table as any other human being.  Even though my rational mind knew it wouldn’t be bad, it’s fucking scary.  So i rationalize it into a nice corner, tell myself i’m strong and in control of things and that i’m a badass motherfucker.

Always comes back to that amazing quote, uttered by Jeff Goldblum in “The Big Chill”:

Sam Weber: Nothing’s more important than sex!
Michael: Oh yeah, have you ever gone a week without a rationalization?

Got the call from my oncologist last night with good news:  negative.  So no further need for cutting or cooking my perky and healthy right tit.

Once again, i want to remind all of you ladies to get your mammograms.  The microcalcifications are the size of a grain of salt, and they are distinctly visible on a digital mammogram.  Isn’t that amazing?  Sometimes they can see the fucking cancer BEFORE it’s cancer.  Yeah, it hurts to put your tit in a vise once a year.  So what? 

Excuses are like assholes – everyone’s got one.  Just go do it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

* Pardon the medical jargon…  i’m a self-taught professional.

** Had he been anywhere near as hot as the orthopaedic surgeon who did my knee surgery, i might have jumped him…

*** i got dressed first…

advice best ignored…

Since The Girl graduated, she’s been busy preparing for exams, moving and seeking employment in her chosen field. It’s a niche skill*, so as she continues to slog her way through job postings, she is also looking for a job locally to pay expenses.

She’s unloaded applications across the area, and was just called in for an interview at a local book store. This is her first job interview in awhile, and she was a bit nervous. As she and i discussed the proper attire for such an interview, The Boy couldn’t help throw in his two cents…

daisyfae: Wear your glasses. You need to go with the ‘Tina Fey Smartgirl’ look.

The Girl: I’ve got a nice skirt, blouse and cardigan that might work.

The Boy: You’ve got to slut it up just a little bit…

daisyfae: What? It’s a book store! She’s not going to be swinging on a pole…

The Boy: Just a little bit. The look that says “good girl, who could be a little naughty”.

The Girl:  Maybe just a little cleavage?

daisyfae:  FUCK NO!  It’s a bookstore.  Besides, it’s probably a woman doing the hiring…

The Girl:  No, it was a man who called me…

The Boy:  Look, on my last two jobs, the bossman was chasing the women.  The key is that they like the ‘good girl’ gone wild.  “Slutty girls gone wild” just isn’t the same thing… it’s not a challenge.

daisyfae:  i still say go with the ‘bookish’ look.

The Boy:  “Sexy librarian”.  Exactly…

The Girl:  So the kind of shirt that might show a little cleavage if i bent over?  I guess i could drop a pencil…

daisyfae: [....]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

* Arabic / Middle Eastern studies is lucrative and employable, however, if you choose not to work for a 3-letter government organization, it takes a bit longer…

now what?

He was about 3 years old.  Playing on a short concrete wall at a local festival this afternoon.  Sky blue shorts – which no older boy would be caught dead in – and a matching print shirt.  Dad was watching close by, doing a good job balancing the need to let his child explore while maintaining situational awareness.  Knowing that a microsecond of inattention could lead to a multitude of problems…

Slapping me upside the head was the memory.  Taking my young creatures out to festivals, hauling their tired asses around in a wagon.  Watching parades.  Eating shit food at the amusement park, while they got sticky-gooey goodness all over their hands, faces and anything unfortunate enough to be within splash range.  Giving them the requisite ‘spit bath’ before throwing them back in the car…

There was clarity and focus then.  Every decision i made had to be weighed against potential impact to my children.  Not a formal process, just something my mind did naturally.  Often, the answer was “no impact, rock on…”, but there was a natural step in my decision calculus to assess how it might affect the kids.

i knew my purpose.  i knew my priorities.  And when necessary?  Nothing got between Momma Bear and her Cubs.  It made me stronger in so many ways.  More fearless.  More assertive.  i grew a great deal during those years…

Now?  With The Girl, at 22, graduated and seeking employment, even though she’s temporarily lodged in my basement, she does her own thing, and i do mine.  The Boy returns to the university in a couple weeks, and is pretty much on his own.  Our time together is different.  Very enjoyable, but the relationships have changed.

Seeing the little critter today, perhaps more so, watching his father… i realized that some of my aimlessness and restlessness could be directly attributable to the simple fact that no one needs me.  Not a single soul is dependent upon me for much of anything…  A thought that is simultaneously liberating and terrifying.

one week…

And away we go…

trailerpark1

Front (L-R): daisyfae and her ginormous thighs, Her Royal Highness – Queen Can’tFuckingDance, Adorableness Personified
Back (L-R): Great Ass-Can’t ActForShit, Deliciousness InLeather, Good Voice-Can’tActForShit, GotIt Goin’On

It’s a funny show.  We’ll put butts in seats.  i can’t wait until 6:00 PM, Sunday, 27 September.  The next time i need to feed my ego?  There are MUCH easier ways to do it… fuckthishit.

Trailer Park Monte Carlo

And the Award for “Best Trailer Park Manipulation Maneuver of the Century” goes to: DQ.  Hands down.  No competition.  Wasn’t even a fair fight…

My niece, DQ, is masterful.  Expending the least amount of effort possible, she is able to align events and manipulate situations to suit her needs and desires.  And the latest?  World fucking class.  Best of all?  There is no room for argument or discussion – so it shall come to pass that she not only gets a home, but most of Mom’s financial assets when she dies.

Not only will i not fight this move, i shall fully support it – as it is in Mom’s best interests.  Brilliant.  She should use her talents to affect world peace.  That pesky mess in the Middle East?  She’d have them all buying her furniture and baking her cakes within a couple months…

Continue reading