We’re captive on the carousel of time…

Seven years ago, The Boy and i hopped a plane for Istanbul to spend Christmas with The Girl. She’d accepted a job in Izmir the previous summer, and at the age of 25, moved here in July, 2011.

We spent Christmas Eve in a hotel, building the most beautiful Christmas Tree from beer bottles collected from the executive lounge. This year, my own tree is once again nestled in a box in my garage, five thousand miles away. That is perhaps the only similarity between that holiday and today.

2011: She knew no one when she moved here. She had made a few friends, was sharing an apartment with another English teacher at her school, and had a 45 minute commute to work via public bus.

2018: Her collective of friends is glorious, many couples including Turks and ex-pats. They surround her with love and support. She met and married a good man, bought a home, and continues to thrive as an English teacher in a private school.

2011: She’d studied Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies at university. Not Turkish. Giving herself a crash course in the language during her first few months in country, she’d become conversant, and was able to take care of her personal business, connect with her students, and serve as an able tour guide.

2018: Fluent in the language, she can generally do rapid fire translation for me in real time. She has no trouble conversing with her in-laws, and has built friendships with vendors at the local shops. Unlike Europe, the vast majority of Turks speak no English, so she learned this by necessity.

2011: The Boy was 23, still attending university full time, and fighting The Demons that led me to believe he might not live to see 25. We were close, but i lived in constant fear of That Phone Call.

2018: He is married, with two children. After a stint in the Army, he’s made a home in the great plains, surrounded by extended family. A good government job, a fierce and gorgeous wife who has managed to tame the wild beast… When he and i were here seven years ago, this was an unimaginable future.

2011: i learned enough Turkish to order food and beer. To find a toilet. Navigate an airport or two. It wasn’t pretty, but i could generally pantomime my way through a transaction.

2018: After several visits, and over a year of online studies, i probably have the conversational skills of a small child – animals, colors, numbers, food. No problem with food/beverage, or shopping. i’ve even managed to have a few short conversations with my son-in-law’s family! They are probably more surprised than impressed, but are very supportive.

Christmas 2011

2011: The tree that year was beautiful. All that mattered was that we were together. The Boy and i were outside our comfort zone, traveling for a holiday in order to spend time with The Girl as she charted a new course for her life.

GammaRay with Bebek

2018: The tree this year? Pretty gorgeous. Seven years ago, this was also an unimaginable future. A gentle reminder from the universe that we really don’t know where we’re going…

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

And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

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Zen and the Art of Toilet Repair

For two years i have engaged in combat with the toilet in my guest bathroom. It started with a sticky handle. Being a two-banana mechanic*, i was comfortable doing the easy replacement myself.

With a little tweak here and there, i was able to keep it working, but eventually it stuck again. i dove in again, tearing down some of the bits and nuggets, and re-set the handle until it worked.

Success remained short lived. No matter what i did, which type of handle i used, i couldn’t make the repair stick. Or un-stick, as this case called for… How much did i spend on handles? Replacement innerds for the entire flush mechanism? i lost track.

Giving up, i put a note on it that simply said “Please lift handle after flush”.

i live alone, and primarily use the toilet in the master bathroom, adjacent to my bedroom. Studley is my most frequent visitor, and he’d learned the drill. Parties? Guests? i was constantly poking my head into the guest bathroom to make sure the handle had been lifted.

Right before i headed out west in July, the toilet in the master bath had colluded with the guest bath toilet, and the handle refused to lift. Wrench in hand, i dove in and tweaked until it worked again.

Until it didn’t. Headed out the door for the airport, i left a note for my pet sitter explaining the process. He apparently didn’t get it working, because i got a frantic text one morning – “I can’t flush the toilet! Help!”  i was able to video chat with him through the brute force process required to successfully empty the bowl.**

When i returned home, i spent more money on toilet repair gear, and settled in to tear both toilets down if needed. And i failed. Commiserating with Studley, i came to the only logical conclusion possible.

“i’m going to blow up that motherfucking toilet and put in a new one. Maybe turn the old one into a planter in the back garden to annoy the home owners association, and serve as a warning to all future toilets…”

Two days later, while slugging coffee, i had an epiphany. Call a plumber. It would be far less expensive, and stressful, to hire a pro. Choking on my ego, i made the call. “It’s just a problem with the handle, but i’ve tried everything i can do to fix it! i’m a moron, and i’m sure it’s something simple, but i give up!” The scheduler assured me it was a common thing, and set up the service call.

Jerry arrived, and patiently listened to me babble on about my war with the handles. The angst, the frustration, the rage… “Help me, Plumber Wan Kenobi! You’re my only hope!” 

He was patient. He was good at his job. He repaired both toilets in less than an hour, using parts i already had on hand. He talked me through it. He explained the problem, and imparted a few words of wisdom…

“This seal? This was the problem from the start. It degraded over time, and made it hard to pull the handle. It should be fine now…”

“i am SUCH a bonehead! i feel like a complete idiot! i should have checked that!”

He didn’t laugh or make fun of me. In fact, he smiled and said it happens quite often.

“You’d be amazed at how often we drive ourselves crazy fixing the wrong problem.”

let it go

image found here

* In the realm of the gear head, there is a ‘five banana’ scale for repair skills. When i started assisting with the rebuild of the old Jeep, my friend tagged me pretty quickly as a “one banana”. Over time, i’ve gained some skills. 

** And he mercifully did NOT reveal contents of the bowl during our video chat…

Adolescent dreams…

After going through the phase where i wanted to be an Egyptologist, and then a detective, i settled onto the fairly standard childhood career choice of Astronaut somewhere around 10 years old.  Fueled in large part by the Apollo Program, with a healthy turbo-boost from Star Trek, i wanted nothing more than to go into space.

My parents were supportive and encouraging – we took a family trip to the Huntsville Space Flight Center when i was in my early teens. They were just starting to work on the Space Shuttle program, and i remember walking through a mock up of the crew compartment. Seeing the spot marked “urinal”, and trying to figure out how it would work, i asked the tour guide “Where will the women pee?” and his response straight up pissed me off: “There aren’t any female astronauts.”

That triggered a visceral response of “fuck you, buddy” “oh, yeah? wow…”

It wasn’t until my final year of high school that i gave up the notion of becoming an astronaut. It was some combination of poor lifestyle choices, and genetics, but i was fat and out of shape, and realized that there wasn’t a chance in hell i could do the push ups. My high school Physics teacher helped me sort things – he had settled on teaching after a stellar career with NASA as a research scientist, and i realized that there were careers that could support the mission, without requiring push ups.

My undergraduate institution was selected in part because of affordability, but also because it had a decent engineering program. Somehow, i managed to survive a nearly fatal freshman year (see ‘lifestyle choices, poor’), and land a co-op job in the aeronautical engineering field.

About 40 years later, i’ve just retired from a pretty decent run. i got to fly in a chopper at night (doors open). i got to watch a night launch of a Space Shuttle from the rooftop of a building about 5 miles away (as close as you can get). And i got to support a team that put a research payload in orbit…

It occurred to me today that i came remarkably close to hitting that career goal that was a nebulous thought back in my teens. At the time, i had no idea what it looked like, or would feel like. i had no concept that i would ever marry, or have a family. It’s surprising that it rolled out the way it did… with few regrets professionally.

How often does that happen? What did you think your life would feel like once you got out of the parental homestead and started life on your own? How close did you come?

potential

from my favorite motivational poster source, Despair

Un-fucking Myself in 2014: Final Update

At the beginning of the year i had three broad goals – un-fuck my apparently broken finger, un-fuck my space (get rid of stuff) and un-fuck my body (get more exercise, eat better, lose weight).

With quarterly reports in April, June and October i captured my progress/regress as the year rolled by.  Here are the final scores and highlights.

Finger:  Un-fucked.  No surgery required.  This one was as simple as shaking off the anxiety and going to the doctor.  Follow through with physical therapy resolved most of the dysfunction. i consider this one done.  The lesson learned:  Rather than fret and make yourself crazy worrying about the possibility of surgery, or other drastic treatment?  Just go to the doctor and get professional help.  Problems are not solved inside your damn head!

Space:  A strong start in January and February, but i bogged down into the Spring and Summer.  After taking on Mom’s estate, and the associated mounds of paperwork, i regressed a bit – there are still piles of paperwork all over my office, but i will be ahead for the year once i close out estate business.

Body:  Mostly failed on this one.  On the bright side?  With the support of Studley as my accountability buddy, i managed to keep up a nominal 3 days/week gym schedule for the entire year (including two visits this week).  After a great start, losing 25 pounds, i regressed substantially by going back to my highly emotional eating habits.  Re-gained almost 15 pounds, so my net loss for the year was only 10 pounds.  This pisses me off, and i have no one, or nothing to blame, but my own undisciplined ass.

This was also the year i buried my mother.  We knew it was coming, and given her state of health, it wasn’t a surprise.  Regardless of your age there is a bit of an emotional sucker punch when you become an adult orphan.  i don’t want to use this as an excuse, but i am a bit more gentle with myself because of it.

Beyond that transition, and the quest for un-fuckage, it was a damn good year.  Time spent with my independent, adult children – it brings tremendous joy to watch them move confidently into their lives, following deliberate, chosen paths.  Time spent with my companion, enjoying two dive trips to warm, exotic locations along with many other adventures (large and small!).  Time spent with friends – some from my childhood, some i’ve only known a few years.  i am surrounded by good humans!

Reindeer Poo

Time spent with this ol’ fella.  When i started this blog in 2007, i really didn’t expect he’d still be with me – big dogs tend not to live as long as the little yappy ones…  He’ll be 14 in June.  Despite a serious health scare in November, he’s still going strong.  i sleep with this goofball every night – although he’ll need a ramp to reach the bed before long.  Perhaps one of the best things?  i had another year with Mr. Pickles.

Despite being somewhat random with my blogging last year, almost walking away from it several times, i’m feeling the urge to write again.  i’ve been living aggressively.  i have been immersed in some serious life business.  i am planning my retirement.  i feel the need to use this space to hoark up the things that are rattling around in my head, and organize my thinking.

Hoping the new year finds you all healthy and looking forward to what lies ahead!  i’ll be right back…

Party Dawg

When my children were small, we spent every other Christmas on the road to visit my in-laws in Florida.  Other years?  We were on the road to The Trailer Park by noon to celebrate with my family.  We agreed that as long as we had parents to visit, we would do this.

Thanksgiving was different.  His parents were too far away for a visit.  In my clan, we had time-shifted the meal to the Saturday after Thanksgiving due to issues with divorces, and the resultant logistical challenges.  Never mind that Mom had stopped making a meal* at home in the 1970’s, preferring to go out to eat at a local trough buffet restaurant.

When i asked my husband how he’d like to spend our ‘free’ holiday?  He said “At home. Watching football and drinking beer.”  When i asked my children how they’d like to spend our ‘free’ holiday?  They said “Making pizza and just hanging out…”

That’s exactly what we did.  We’d invite ‘stray’ friends over – those who didn’t have family in town.  i’d whip up some pizza dough, buy turkey pepperoni as the only nod to tradition, and we started having a great holiday at home.  Our way.

With the kids grown, and my move to the new place in 2008, i re-started the tradition. Among my friends there was a need for a holiday alternative, so “Thursday” became a thing – a non-traditional meal.  i stayed with the pizza theme, expanded the bar, and opened the doors.

The invite states “Those unable to be with family, those actively avoiding family, those without family, and those who have spent a day with their family and need respite care… Doors open at 6:00 pm, and friends are welcome to drop by until around midnight.”

Thirty or so came and went this year, bringing a variety of goodies to share.  The pool table was used and abused, with the theater room collecting the footballers.  Hot mulled wine, chilled dry cider punch, and a partially successful attempt at bacon-infused bourbon grounded the bar.  Gingerbread trifle, peanut butter pie, and gooey salted caramel chocolate bars appeared on my kitchen counter.  Guests learned to toss pizza dough, and assembled personal pizzas from a spread of toppings. We ate, laughed, and yakked through the night…

the drunk thinktank

Mr. Pickles, my senior dog, has had recent issues with bladder control. Studley was aware of this, and let him out several times to make sure he didn’t paint the carpet.

Around 10 pm, Mr. P took to intermittent barking.  This is usually due to random signals from the dog planet, but that night it was somehow more directed and urgent.  He’d stand next to someone and bark.  Not begging.  Not needing to go outside.  Not wanting attention.

So we kept taking him outside to make sure it wasn’t urinarily urgent.  i patted him and said “Pickles, shutthefuckup!” more than once.  He continued the intermittent barking or the next several hours.  As the last guests were preparing to leave around 1:30 am, he stayed nearby, and would occasionally launch a solid bark.

As i walked the last couple out, i took him for one last mercy break.  Back inside, i unhooked the leash, and he immediately trotted off to the bedroom.  i went into the kitchen to do the final sweep before bed.  Following my old pup shortly afterwards, i found him sprawled across the passenger side of my bed, snoring loudly.

The next day, Studley and i were doing the “Post-Party Analysis”.  i finally realized why Mr. Pickles had been barking.

daisyfae:  “i think i figured it out!  He wanted people to leave so he could go to bed!  He was trying to chase them away because it was past his bedtime!”

Studley:  You think?

daisyfae:  Yes!  This was the old dog equivalent of “Hey, you kids!  Get offa my lawn!”

get offa my lawn

* And we were thankful.  She couldn’t cook for shit…

Nut Busker

Found myself in Las Vegas last weekend.  Not my favorite city, but it is certainly turgid with people-watching opportunities….

My friends and i were spending an evening at The Flamingo, pumping $20’s into slots and video poker, and pounding ‘free’ drinks for entertainment after dinner.  There was a text from Jan late in the evening – “Join us on the Margaritaville Patio!  There’s something we need you to do…”

Having consumed my weight in vodka tonics for the evening, it seemed a reasonable request.  i found them lined up at the bar outside, facing The Strip.  Without a word, i knew why i’d been summoned…

Busking

daisyfae:  No.  Just ‘No!’  Damn… That’s the toughest busker on earth….

We watched him for almost an hour.  Relieved that he had no customers.  Sipping his drink, texting on his phone, he manned his post…

Vegas Strip

We watched the parade on the Vegas Strip.  Couples… A double take… Usually The Man looking over his shoulder as they passed, tapping The Woman on the shoulder and pointing out The Crazy Guy who would take a shot to the balls for $20. Groups of Businessmen, giving him a side-eye and shaking their heads as they walked along. Packs of young men, the bachelor party brigades, goading each other with the challenge….

Occasionally, someone would slow down and read the entire sign. “Women, half price!” The busker would taunt them, in a good-natured way “C’mon! You’ve always wanted to do it, haven’t you?”

A man stepped up behind us...”I was here last night.  There were three BIG dudes who paid him… Launched him.  He went airborne.  Kicked him really hard.  He didn’t flinch…”

Mark and i were trying to figure out how he did it….

daisyfae: Do you think he tucks and tapes, like a drag queen?

Mark: Maybe he’s a eunuch?

We both agreed that we needed answers.  He handed me $10, and i pulled $10 from my pocket…

conversating

daisyfae: So, there was a guy who said you were hammered by some frat-bros last night.  Lifted you in the air and you didn’t flinch.  How the hell do you do this?  Do you tuck?

Busker: No.  It’s real.  I figure if I”m going to go in their faces like this, I need to put up…

daisyfae: Jesus, man… Doesn’t it hurt?

Busker: I just don’t give a fuck anymore…

i handed him $20, wished him a good evening, and he thanked me…

When he folded his sign, it simply said “Stay in school”.

 

 

 

For now…

There is only one reason to write.  Because you must.  You can join a workshop, read a ‘self help’ book, take a class or join a silly writers bootcamp, but that’s forcing the issue.  Write because you have something to say.  Something that has to come out of you or you’ll explode.  Write because you have to.  There is absolutely no other reason to do it.

Where have i been lately?

Living well.  Loving well.  Being well.  Rolling in life like a dog on a dead fish.

i don’t have a lot to say.  These days?  i spend a lot of time laughing and dancing.  So i’ll let these photos of me and me doggie say it…

We are all about “now”.  Because it won’t last.  Nothing does.

brown dog rompi love.  i am loved.  what the fuck else is there?

brown dog slobberWhat is your legacy?  What REALLY matters when we’re all reduced to carbon?

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

THIS link – thanks to The Unbearable Banishment.  Mr. Bukowski says it far better than i ever could… and since i’m not a writer, i suppose that should come as no big surprise!

Book Covers

Muscling our way down the aisle of an Airbus 320, Studley and i were pretty happy to have wrangled seats on the same flight home after a weekend getaway.  Even though Row 35 is not exactly prime real estate?  i was glad to have a chance to drool on the shoulder i know, rather than the shoulder of a stranger.

We stowed our bags and got comfortable while we waited for the other 98 passengers to board the overstuffed plane.  One of the few perks of “kiss my ass” status on an airline?  Early boarding.  This means you can stow a bag in the overhead bin before they are crammed full.

We were mildly entertained as a raucous family of four occupied Row 34 – a mother, probably about my age, her two adult sons, and the cute blonde girlfriend of one of the sons.  Mom and one of the brothers were across the aisle, and the young couple parked directly in front of us.  Wearing a cocked baseball cap, he was channeling his inner Jersey Shore goomba.  Badly.  But they were having fun, horsing around and playing.

As expected, the overhead bins were soon filled.  People struggled to stuff bags into the few remaining voids.  As we prepared for push-back, the flight attendant offered a warning:  “Ladies and gentlemen, some of these bins will not close!  If we have to pull your bag and check it, there will be a fee.  Please do your best to get your bags into the overhead compartments!”

The bin over Row 34 was in obvious violation.  A late arrival in Row 33 had hopefully put his small roller bag into the compartment, directly under a hinge.  There was no way the door would close.

The young man in front of us decided to help.  Standing up, and making a rather big deal out of it, he tried to force the door to close.  When it didn’t break, or close, he then began chiding the owner of the protruding suitcase that he’d better deal with it…

“Yo, brother!  You’re gonna need to do somethin’ about the bag!  They’ll delay the flight if you can’t get it closed!” 

The passenger in Row 33 got back up and started trying to rearrange the bags in the compartment.  He tried to stow the bag.  The goomba felt compelled to provide running commentary and advice.

“Move that little one, dude.  Turn it around baby!  No, other way, fella – it’s like Jenga, baby.  JENGA!  Move the blocks.  No, other way.  Geez, you never play Jenga?”

It went on.  Louder and louder.

Meanwhile, a man across the aisle in Row 36 stood up and checked for space in the bin over his head.  i had noticed this man when he boarded – primarily because of the amount of blue ink on his hands and knuckles.  Prison tattoos.  Including the teardrop* under his right eye.  Without saying a word, he cleared space for another bag.

Goomba got louder and Row 33 passenger became a little more frantic.  Studley got his attention and pointed to the space over Row 36, now cleared.  Problem solved.  Both Studley and i caught the attention of the quiet man in Row 36 and thanked him.

Goomba wasn’t quite done, though.

“There ya go, baby!  Stick with me!  I got ya covered!”

(sigh)

LOVE HATE

beautiful image found here

* May be legend, but it is believed that a tear drop tattoo signifies that the bearer has taken a life.  There are other possible meanings.  But the blue ink?  Definitely implies time behind bars.

Riding the Storm Out

The Boy was home for the past two weeks – taking a well-earned break between contracts.  He’s been working as a power company field auditor, knocking out 50-60 hours a week on the job and needed the downtime before heading out again on his next assignment.

Given his new profession on the road, he wanted a chance to visit with Mom while he was back in town, so i arranged to bring her up to visit for a few days.  Good time spent hanging out together, but The Boy was working pretty hard to keep her in hot coffee and food while i was at work on Friday.

Arriving home after a day at the office, i learned that The Boy had been put on “One Hour Deployment” notice — he is among the power industry workers sent into the hurricane zone to prepare for the “Frankenstorm” heading toward the eastern coast of the US.

As he filled me in on what little logistical details he had, he started to laugh.

The Boy:  Yeah, I was in the middle of fixing Granny a grilled cheese sandwich.  Told her that I had gotten notice to be ready to go within an hour and she said “Well, you better finish up that sandwich first”.

Took Momma to see a show at our local theater, which shares space with a Senior Citizens center.  As part of the Halloween decor, the seniors had added Mr. Bones to the lobby.  This was pretty brilliant…

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

The Boy has come a long way over the past year – i’m delighted to see him settle into his skin as the fine young man he has always carried inside him.  As we discussed his first “Hurricane Deployment”, after just signing onto this job last summer, he was simultaneously excited and anxious about the job ahead.

“I’m driving into a fucking hurricane!  Holy shit!”

Making lists of gear he still needed to buy, i suggested he needed to get a badass rain suit like Jim Cantore, famous hurricane chaser from the Weather Channel.  Duct tape and trash bags.  He was already on it, also stocking his truck with cases of water, a carton of cigarettes, and road-suitable food stock.

He received more info on the nature of the job as he finished loading the truck.  His crew will be responding to emergency calls reporting downed lines.  Doing triage to determine if they are phone, fiber optic, or hot.  In the middle of a hurricane.

Shit.

In general, i’m not much of a worrier.  Gotta admit, there’s a little bit of pucker here.

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

On the ‘stranger than fiction’ side, however, he is being sent into New Jersey.  A small town where my friend the unbearable banishment resides. E-mails have been sent, phone numbers exchanged, and fingers crossed for all involved…

Diagnosis

Leaving a weekly staph staff meeting, i stood up with a slight flinch, as my vertebrae grudgingly gave in to verticality.  Shuffling out the conference room door, a colleague asked “What is it now?  Bicycles? Horses? Mountain climbing?”

“Well, a bit of this and a bit of that… Rode the motorcycle 60 miles Saturday, and then did a trek on the back of the tandem Sunday.  Still sore from roller skating last week, too.  But i’ve got to get my body loosened up for horseback riding lessons tonight…”

A much younger colleague laughed and said “Oh, you cute, crazy old folks!  Sitting around at the rest home, playing euchre and watching TV!”

Listening to the snap, crackle and pop of my knees as i started up the stairs, i continued “And then next weekend?  Off to Miami for some diving with my sister, and….”

i stopped cold.  Turned and looked at the two of them.

“Oh, shit!  i know what’s wrong!  i’m a tampon commercial!”

A bit reminiscent of the old joke:

Two little boys go into the grocery store. One is eight years old and the other  one is five years old. The eight year old grabs a box of tampons from the shelf and carries it to the register for checkout.

The cashier asks, “Oh, these must be for your mom, huh?”

The eight-year-old replies “Nope, not for my mom.”

Without thinking, the cashier responded “Well, they must be for your sister then?”

The eight year old quickly responded, “Nope, not for my sister either.”

The cashier had now become curious “Oh. Not for your mom and not for your sister? Who are they for?”

The eight year old says, “They’re for my five-year old little brother.”

The cashier is surprised “Your five-year old little brother?”

The eight year old explains: “Well yeah, they say on TV if you wear one of these, you can swim or ride a bike and my little brother can’t do either of them!”