Paperless

As always, i’m staying at least marginally connected to my offspring while fucking off with pay on extended business travel.  Things seem to happen while i’m on the road, and i get naturally edgy.

While mincing about in the rainforest this afternoon, i decided to shake my maternal butt in the endzone – makes ’em tough.  i sent a pic of the incredible scenery to both of my children.

i sent this:

Rainforest...

Shortly thereafter, i received this from The Boy, who is spending his spring break looking for a job:

Bathroom...

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Sand Witch

It’s quite pleasant here… a technical workshop in the Caribbean.  Lots of time for “break out” sessions.  That means “break out your swimsuit, folks, ’cause we’re done working for the day”. 

Definitely my kind of meeting…

This afternoon, i grabbed a book, my blackberry* and some sunscreen and headed toward the private beach.  i had spotted some lovely hammocks, tied to a small collection of giant palm trees.  They were screaming my name…

Settled in for a restful afternoon, thinking deep technical thoughts, of course.  The surf was crashing and the sun grazed my skin through the shade of the palm fronds above as a stiff wind blew off the ocean.

As i put the book down, giving myself over to “eyelid gravity syndrome”, i heard someone poking around the hammock nearest mine.  Quick glance over… 30-something dude in a polo shirt, water sandals and cargo shorts.  Baseball cap with some university logo… He climbed into his hammock.

i returned to my deep technical thoughts.  He decided this was a lovely time to make some phone calls to the office…

Douchey McBusinessdick had very important business to attend to.  First, he called Diane at the home office to explain why he was going to have to have a talk with Rhonda.  “I’ve let this go too long, and she’s just not working out.  Seriously, I gotta do something or we’re fucked”.  On and on and on…

i threw some particularly evil glares over my shoulder.  They were ignored**.  This very important and loud man showed no signs of shutting up.

After explaining “the situation” to Diane, he decided to call Barbara, while telling Diane to give Denise a call to tip her off to the coming shitstorm.  “She never fucking shows up!  She’s got a job to do, but if she’s not there, she’s not doing her job!”

Seeing as the glares aren’t working, and i didn’t have a cell phone jammer (or a large wooden baseball bat), i decided to talk to him directly to see if he even noticed he was bothering me…

“Jeesus H. Krispies!  If i worked for a douchenozzle like you?  i wouldn’t show up for work either!”

Nope.  No reaction.  Guy was truly oblivious…  It’s funny, but i had no problem listening to the noise of the children playing on the beach, or couples in quiet conversation a few hammocks over, but the prattle of this self-important ass-jacket was really getting on my tits…

i finally gave up trying to snooze, and decided to pack it in for the day.  As i swung out of the hammock, i dropped one of my towels.  If i had been a cartoon character, a light bulb would have appeared over my head – and i quickly dropped my other towel in the sand as i collected my gear to return to my room.

After energetically stomping both towels into the sand, i bent to pick them up – time to return them to the service desk! Seeing as i was located upwind of Douchey – it looked a bit like a Sahara sandstorm as i shook them out…  Poor guy.  Got a face full of sand, he did. 

Oops.

*My feeble attempt to stay connected to the office.  It’s not like they’re going to call me with a ‘research emergency’, but guilt does funny things to the mind…

** My KINGDOM for a cell phone jammer.  Just like Captain Jammer, i should have zapped this motherfucker into next week… this may have been the deciding moment – i must buy one of my own….

Zen and the Art of Simulated Victimhood

As part of the rescue diver certification process, each student must pass “scenario” tests as a rescue leader, and as a member of a response/recovery team.  To do this, we also had to take turns as “simulated victims”.

When it was my turn to be the “vic”, the dive instructor pulled me and my buddy aside to give us instructions.  We were to go to a particular spot in the cavern, and i was to hide and play dead under a rock.  Dive buddy then went to the surface, alerted the rescue troops, and then returned to keep an eye on me…

While hanging upside down, underwater, clinging to a rock, i reached a very interesting mental state.  Calm.  Tranquil.  Fairly relaxed, despite the fact that i was pretending to be dead.  After a few minutes, the hordes of minnows present in the fresh water decided i might be tasty. 

They started pinging at my face and hands – the only exposed flesh.  As if they were checking to see if i had started to decompose.  “Is she rotten yet?  No?  OK.  Now? ”  Ping, ping, ping…  Given that i was supposed to be seriously dead, i took my simulated victimhood seriously and didn’t swish them away…

When my rescuers fnally located me (after only about 15 minutes), they had to drag me to the surface.  Given the 7 mil wetsuit, and the fact that i was only packing 14 pounds in my belt, i was more than a little bit of a floater.

The first time i broke character was when my feet launched above my head, and my rescuers realized that they pretty much had to sit on me to keep me from dragging them to the surface too soon…  way too many bubbles came out of my supposedly dead face as they rode me like a bloated bronco.

Given that my instructions were to ‘get dead, stay dead’, their resuscitation attempts after hauling my carcass onto the dock failed.  The second time i broke character?  When my dive buddy started weeping and wailing and saying – “NOOOOOO!  Don’t bring her back!  I’m on the life insurance policy…”.

That got a one-finger salute from a dead woman…

Trippin’

Another roadtrip.  This one a combination of certification, business, and pleasure…. 

On the front end of the trip to become “rescue” certified as a diver, threw in a stop in Crystal River, Florida – a chance to snorkel with manatees.  It’s always a crapshoot, the number of manatees skulking around in the warm, brackish water is a huge variable. 

With the dive group, we rented a pontoon boat today for our adventure.  i saw an astonishing number of large, lumpy, sluggish and stupid creatures in the river.  A few manatees, too. 

There were many humans in the mix, and as we tried to snorkel in a “low disturbance” manner, not everyone in the water understood the concept.  i was even hit by a woman in a kayak, and another kayaker whacked me with a paddle in a narrow channel.

The snorkel adventure allowed a chance for the dive group to get familiar with each other, and do a bit of pre-certification bonding.  One gent – who impressed me with his massive cranial density during our political discussions at breakfast – made a noble attempt to pull a beer can from the water.

Thinking that if he missed it, i could somehow fish it out with the oar, i realized after the photos appeared that it looked like i stood ready to kill the can, should it attack.   Or possibly thwack him on the head.  But hey, you gotta support a noble gesture in any form…

The highlight of the day, without a doubt, was the opportunity for a meet-up with a blog friend.  Lynn, of Trippin’ with Rip, was willing to throw her amazing pup, Django, in the jeep and make the long trek to meet for lunch. 

She is delicious and sweet and saucy and genuine….  Truly one of the warmest humans i’ve met!  It was fabulous to put a voice and a face to the words, and we’re plotting opportunities to do it again!   There is no pretense with Lynn, and it was sheer pleasure to spend a few hours over lunch making the personal connection.

 

And no, i’m not really that tall.  She is a sharp cookie, and busted me for standing on the curb…

Tomorrow starts dive certifications – and i’ve threatened to just randomly start rescuing strangers to earn bonus points.  From there?  i’ll be headed somewhere else for a week long business trip…  Onwards…

A glimpse into “Ungovernable”

Social networking serves many purposes.  Through facebook,  i’ve managed to acquire a diverse collection of ‘contacts’, and i like it that way.  Rather than eliminate the people who don’t agree with me, share my political or spiritual views, i enjoy the glimpse it provides into other ways of thinking.

The passage of the universal health care bill by the U.S. congress last night has triggered a slew of political and social commentary.  The series that fried my circuits came from a woman i’m connected to via local theater.  Her children are involved in my former troupe, and she’s been an active and supportive ‘stage mother’. 

Through her postings, it’s obvious that she is of a more conservative persuasion than many theater folks.  She’s one of the people that serves as a barometer for me – a vocal representation of the pulse of the conservative-leaning “Average Jane” – the backbone of my little corner of the world. 

Her postings on the passage of the health care law have provided more insight, however.  This clearly demonstrates why we have become an ungovernable nation.

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Alarmist post shortly after the bill passed: 

Rightwing Goodmother:  The thirst for power is one that is not easily quenched. Who knows what they will do next. To so easily ignore the Constitution and the will of the people is very scary. Goodbye Freedom. Dear God, please help me not become depressed. (Wow–that’s a downer of a post–sorry–just expressing my thoughts.)

This evening, after she had sufficient time to troll the internet for her opinion, this one popped up:

Rightwing Goodmother:  borrowed… The President who still smokes like a chimney signed a healthcare bill, that was written by a committee whose chairman admits he doesn’t understand it, passed by a congress which hasn’t read it, funded by a treasury chief that doesn’t pay his own taxes, and managed by a surgeon general who is obese. Yeah…this will work out well.

Followed IMMEDIATELY by her own comment:

Rightwing Goodmother:  But enough politics for the day–I’m going to watch Dancing with the Stars!! 😀

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We. Are. So. Fucked.

For better or worse

Although i’ve abandoned my personal theatrical pursuits, i still try to support friends active on the stage.  Chasing this show or that, i have generally been delightfully surprised with high quality performances in our local community theater community.

Today?  i knew it would be challenging… Not a show of great interest*, i had a couple friends on the stage – including one friend who had one of his first leading roles.  Word on the street was that “there are issues”… 

Snagging two of my Tuesday night drinking buddies, i booked three seats.  RJak and BS are relative newcomers to the local theater community, but have been enthusiastic supporters.  Over the past year, they’ve had the opportunity to see many fine shows, and were looking forward to yet another theater outing. 

i e-mailed them yesterday, strongly suggesting that we “pre-game” with a few drinks at my place before the 3:00 pm matinee.  RJak phoned to say she was running late – i told her i’d prepare her a flask with gin and tonic.  BS arrived in time to have a beer, and i was slamming bourbon when he got here…

As we were leaving, i offered to smuggle in an extra beer for BS – he declined.  Silly, silly BS.

When the curtain closed after an hour an 20 minute long Act I, we grabbed cookies from the lobby and escaped to the parking lot for fresh air and cigarettes**.  We worked hard at finding the bright spots – and there were a few.  A few “Family Groups” were performing together – on-stage and behind the scenes.  That always makes me happy.  Our friend was doing a nice job with his performance.

BS:  That was pretty painful.  Would it be rude to leave? (as we watched one minivan full of patrons skulk from the parking lot)

RJak (draining flask):  We could come back in an hour and just greet the cast in the lobby.  Maybe they wouldn’t notice?  Nice bar across the street…

daisyfae:  Ugh.  No.  We have to suck it up.

BS:  Really wish I’d taken you up on that smuggled beer.

We scarfed a couple more cookies as we made the death march back into the theater for Act II.  The performers were giving it their best.  The show had moments of “cute”.  Sets were fine, band was ok, some nice harmonies in a few songs.  Act II was mercifully short – well, less than an hour.

i’ve been in shows like that.  i know how it feels to be there – trying your damndest to make it work and knowing it’s hopeless.  You still try.  Weeks of rehearsals, set construction, practice.  These folks worked hard – and seemed to be having fun.   And i guess that’s the point… 

Sadly, it takes just as much effort to put on a bad show as it does to put on a good one… The next time you are staring down the barrel of two-hours of “Ouch”?  Don’t forget to pack the anesthesia.

“You tried your best and failed miserably. The lesson is: never try.”

* i tried to sink this one when i was on the play reading committee.  i failed…

** BS pointed out the ‘logic failure’ in this, as he sneered at the home made clove cigarettes proferred by RJak.

Hearts afire

He wasn’t actually my “high school boyfriend” – i wasn’t the “girlfriend” type*.  We went out a few times during my senior year, and spent some time together that summer before he left for the Army.  We continued to see each other my freshman year in college – with him visiting on weekends when he had passes, and wheels, to allow him to drive the six hours to my university.
 
It didn’t end particularly well.  Turns out, he’d spend a weekend with me, and then scoot off to spend a couple days with my ex-roommate, Cheri.  Shortly thereafter, we had a rather nasty break up.  Within a few weeks, i met (and moved in with) my husband.  i lost touch with him for almost 30 years.
 
We tripped over each other a few years back, and were able to have a pleasant dinner together, catching up on the decades that had flown by in the blink of an eye. 
 
Army Ranger:  I’ve thought of you so many times over the years.  I was awful, and you were so sweet to me.  Remember how you wrote me letters every day when I was in boot camp?  Those letters meant the world to me.  I’m really sorry I treated you so badly. 
 
daisyfae:  i’ve thought of you through the years, too.  Remember that night i busted you with Cheri?  When i walked three miles to her apartment, carrying that big bag full of all the shit you’d ever given me?  How i threw it in the back of your truck and walked home?  i’m really sorry i didn’t set it on fire first. 
 
Last week, while visiting the Trailer Park, he saw me at Mom’s while working his shift with the county water department.  i got a note from him on my facebook page, followed by an invitation to get together for dinner again… 
 
The last dinner was so much fun, i think i’m going to have to accept.  My choice of restaurant this time – a little dive called “Fat Chick’s Revenge”.

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* Some things never change…

Honest (S)crap

It’s been a challenging few weeks, here in my little corner of the trailer park.  Lots of things i need to hoark up, but the blocks of time available have been short and infrequent for proper cogitation and hoarkage… 

As my writing brain went into ‘local lock out’ mode,  i was tickled to be given an “Honest Scrap” award from silverstar.  It hails from places unknown, as healingmagichands found when she tried to backtrack the origins. 

As is always the case, with privilege and recognition comes responsibility.  There are two things i must do:

1) Tag people.  i’m not big on taggants, so i’ll just toss out a challenge – “Hey.  You lurkers out there.  C’mon, you know who you are…  either blog it on your supersecret blog, or de-lurk and post something about yourself in the comments.  i know you’re out there.  Or there are about 10 people who visit my blog – a lot.

2) List 10 interesting – and little known – nuggets about myself.  Well.  Let’s just rename the award “Honest Crap”, shall we?

1.  i have monkey toes.  It’s genetic.  i got them from my father.  His “index” toe was as long as my finger.  Mom bitched a blue streak about “keeping that man in socks”.  How to use this gift?  i can pick up coins with my feet.  Won some bar bets that way…

2.  Sadly, it wasn’t even on a dare –  i have licked a Ferrari

3.  In my professional travels, i hang with a group of middle-aged gentlemen – “The Dawg Boyz”.  We are known for raucous behavior at whatever conference we are attending.  This, on occasion, involves adult entertainment establishments.  Amongst these wizened and preternaturally horny old goats, i am known as “#1” for my bulletproof track record of finding the best club in any city – domestic or international*.

4.  In 2001**, i lost most of my hair.  That sucked.  Due to a reaction to medication, my hair fell out in clumps.  While not completely bald, my hair was so thin i was forced to pull it into a small knot on the back of my head to cover my scalp.  My secretary saved the day – finding me crying at my desk, weeping into another wad of my former hair that had just come out in my hands.  She said “Get your purse, we’re going out to buy you some fucking hair”.  She dragged me to a kiosk at the local mall that sold “Snap-On Hair”.  Who knew? 

5.  Growing up i was a big-ass chicken.  The last kid to try the rope swing, the only one who never to climbed to the top of the tree fort, the one too afraid sneak into Tammy’s storage shed to look at her dad’s old porn collection…

6.  Voted “Most Likely To Be Found Dead In A Gutter” in the unofficial high school poll.  It was a small sampling, i believe, but those who voted for me were paying attention…

7.   It doesn’t phase me in the least to speak in public.  The “fear of embarrassing myself” plague passed me by.  However, i will sweat like a piggie if i might embarrass someone else…  Like, my boss.  Or co-workers who are counting on me. 

8.  Despite my apparent daredevil ways, i have a paralyzing fear of heights.  A friend, training for a run through the Grand Canyon***, talked me into climbing Camelback Mountain (Phoenix).  Rather than hold him back (he was running up, down, and then back, as part of his training), i suggested we split up.  He ran ahead, and i plodded along.  About halfway up, i hit a stretch of boulders – near a sharp drop off – and i froze.  i was there for perhaps 30 minutes – many people stopped to offer help, but i said “oh, i’m fine – just enjoying the view”.   Finally was able to scoot on my ass back down until i got back to the path… 

9.  Nothing specific, but i don’t like babies.  Pictures of babies are cute, but until a human being is walking, thinking, talking and able to manage bodily functions unassisted?  i’ll pass.  “Would you like to hold the baby, daisyfae?”  “No… not really…”

10.  i tried to come up with 10 things people might find interesting about me.  Every item on this list represents something about me that either annoyed my ex-husband, or that he found blatantly uninteresting…  He’s a good guy, but for the life of me, i can’t remember anything he liked about me… i’m pretty sure we’re both better off apart.

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* It is still the subject of heated debate who was responsible for getting us trapped in a Turkish brothel disguised as a dance club, located in Lyon, France.  i am still blaming the taxi driver, but others are convinced i was responsible… 

** That was the same year my weight topped out at about 250 pounds.  i was one damn fine sexy round bald woman…. 

*** To celebrate his 49th birthday, this dork ran from the south rim, to the north rim, and back.  52 miles – down a mile in elevation, up a mile and a quarter, and then back.  Did it in something like 18 hours – only took that long because he pulled a hamstring on the way back.

This Old House

From the outside, it really doesn’t look much different.  Midwestern red brick ranch, 1959.  Small, high bedroom windows.  Tiny front porch, two-car garage. 

Mom and Dad bought it new, just after they married in January, 1960.  She still owns it 50 years later.  Although Dad did some minor modifications to it over the years – a deck out back, some built-in shelving between the kitchen and dining room – the infrastructure has been virtually untouched for half a century. 

While spending a day with Mom, taking her to see her deliciously tasty cardiologist, i had a chance to stop by the old homestead and see for myself how the renovations* are going.  Given that we were still poking our way through a lifetime of her treasures just a  month ago, it was strange to see the house emptied…

And mostly gutted…  BJ, my niece’s husband, has already re-wired the place, bringing it up to code.  Exterior walls are insulated.  Cracked plaster ceilings have been covered with drywall.  New windows installed.  All of the old hollow plywood doors, carpeting and baseboards have been thrown into the industrial dumpster in the driveway.  Bathroom fixtures, interior doors, ceiling fans and kitchen cabinets have been purchased.

BJ does good work.  Being laid off momentarily, he also has the time to commit to the project – at least 12 hours a day, unless he’s picking up side jobs.  i was pretty amazed with the progress.

Talking with Mom today, she’s still in a massive blue funk over the whole thing.  i reminded her for the millionth time that she had options, but chose this one.  That choices have consequences.   That once it is finished, it’s going to be lovely and new.  That there were safety problems that would have likely killed her sooner rather than later…

Mom:  They had to tear out the things your Dad put in… the deck, the shelves in the dining room.

daisyfae:  i know, that’s the hard part…

Mom:  Then they come home and tell me how much fun it was knocking out that wall in the kitchen with a sledge hammer.  I asked them not to talk like that anymore.

daisyfae:  Yeah, that’s gotta hurt.  But if Dad were alive, you know damn well what he’d say about it…

Mom:  “It’s only ‘stuff'”.  He said that a lot…

Seeing just the shell of the house, i was struck by how small it is.  There were six of us living there – three tiny bedrooms and one bathroom.  My poor sister, S, spending her teen years stuck in a small bedroom with her two punk-ass little sisters.  Her psychadelic  “flower child” artwork from the 60’s sharing wall space with our Batman and Hotwheels posters. 

With the carpets torn out, the darkened pine floors were exposed for the first time in decades.  Standing at the end of the hallway, i remembered it as a runway – a place where my sister, T, and i played.  Racing up and down the hallway, skating in our knee socks – with the tops rolled down to make “elf skates”.  At five years old, it seemed a mile long…  Now?  Maybe twelve feet… i was too lost in my head today to walk off the distance.

It was about that age that i got a Fisher Price Circus** for my birthday.  Endless hours of my childhood spent pretending to be the ringmaster, the lion tamer… Riding the circus cart down that damn hallway.   

How small was i?  Could i really ride that little thing?  Down a twelve foot hallway?  Seems like yesterday.  It was just a hundred years ago.

* In case you haven’t been playing along, my Mom has been living on a bed in my niece’s living room since July of last year.  The original plan was for my niece and her husband to build a new home on some acreage Mom bought them in the country, but financial reality struck, and that plan was scrapped for something less hallucinogenic more practical.  They are now renovating Mom’s house, and building an apartment on the back (along with a nice master suite for themselves), and the entire clan hopes to be moved in by late summer…

** Early in the excavations, i rescued the circus from underneath Mom’s bed.  Cleaned it up, and it now resides on the shelf over my kitchen bar.  It seems so tiny, but it was just the coolest toy ever when i was 5…

Rotten Kool-Aid

Probably not one of the best nights of my sixteenth year.  My oldest sister, S, was twenty-five, divorced and always up for fun as she tested the waters of freedom.  Even with her two younger sisters. 

From our point of view?  She was thin, pretty, had a car and was old enough to buy beer and liquor.  At fifteen years old?  That is sometimes the definition of a good time.

For the life of me, i can’t remember how it came to pass, but S hosted a sleep-over at her “swinging single gal” apartment.  Me, sister, T, two neighborhood friends, TB & JB, and the token man-boy, J.  He was my gorgeous best friend, and first love.  Unrequited, of course.  

It was just a Saturday night, with pizza, junk food and music.  And booze.  First beer, then we started raiding S’s liquor shelf for the grocery store vodka. 

Oh, wait.  Almost forgot… my niece, DQ, was there.  She was five years old.  We kinda almost forgot that night, too, because she was pretty quiet, and went to bed by 11:00 pm or so… before we got really drunk and stupid. 

Memories of the evening are a bit fuzzy, but the one i really haven’t been able to shake – despite a few decades of effort – is that somewhere during the evening, i saw my 25 year old sister making out with my 15 year old best friend*.  That was as far as it went, but i remember thinking “C’mon, S… you’ve got enough men chasing you!”

Needless to say, the next morning was grim.  We were all passed out on couches, chairs and sprawled on the floor.  Slowly there was human movement within the apartment as we scratched our bits, held our heads and said “what the fuck?” while shaking off the stupor…

Young  DQ was up early, bright eyed and bushy tailed, and headed to the kitchen to forage for breakfast.  Her small voice from around the corner – “Mommy, this kool-aid tastes rotten”.  S got to the kitchen in short order, and retrieved the “vodka kool-aid cocktail” from her child’s hand, replacing it with milk. 

Trailer parks are full of rotten kool-aid, kid.  Never forget it…

* He was gorgeous, and an absolute chick magnet for older girls/women.  This was before he was out of the closet and contentedly gay.