Out to lunch…

“My Momma made my lunch for me today. It’s in a big white bag with “Keith” written on it. It’s a tuna fish sandwich, potato chips, and cookies. I’d say that’s pretty lucky; I have lots of friends who would give anything to have their Mom make their lunch again.” – Uncle Keith*

This paragraph rolled through my facebook feed today.  It made me cry.

It also took me on a romp through some very wonderful memories…

There were two groups of kids when it came to school lunches – Packers and Buyers. As a wee lass, i remember feeling quite special because my mother loved me enough to pack my lunch for school every day.  A sandwich, fruit cocktail in Tupperware, and a Little Debbie Snack Cake were pretty standard fare.

School lunches were available, and the majority of students bought whatever was offered – “Pizza, corn, jello” on Fridays as the highlight of the week.  It cost $0.10 more if you wanted ice cream, and some of the lucky kids got ice cream, but that was a pretty extravagant item in our world.

Before leaving the classroom, the teachers would line us up by the blackboard – Packers first, then Packers who needed to just buy milk, and then Buyers. i was a bit cocky every day knowing that my lunch had been prepared for me, and was neatly packaged in my groovy lunch box.

ohmygod

i had this lunchbox.  i shit you not…

Shopping for a new lunch box was part of the ‘back-to-school’ ritual!  It couldn’t be taken lightly – you were judged by what was on your lunchbox.  Carrying that really cool “school bus” lunchbox might be ok in 2nd grade, but you’d be called a baby by the start of your 3rd grade year.

disney box

i tended to be somewhat conservative with my choices, going with bright designs rather than cartoon characters, or television shows.  i do remember being tempted by a sweet “Partridge Family” box, but opted for something less likely to get me verbally abused.

and this one

By the time i was about 10 years old, the lunch box thing wasn’t cool, but it was still preferable to pack a lunch and i ditched the lunchbox for a brown bag.  Still felt damn special, though. Eventually, i got fussier about what was going in that bag, and started packing my own lunches.

Thanks to Uncle Keith, i had a happy wander down memory lane today.  With a simultaneous ache of missing my mother… It would be wonderful to have her make me a bologna and cheese sandwich on white bread, some syrupy fruit cocktail and a Little Debbie Nutty Bar again…

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

*Some of my older blogmates may remember Uncle Keith from a few years back. As the founder of his own religion, Keitholicism, and leader of The Riot Squad, he always brought insights and smiles.

Arrivederci Roma

The kid with the tangled mane of hair sprawled across the worn gray carpet in the living room  She’d spent hours working the music box mechanism.  Winding up the platform, where the wooden boy, arm raised confidently, strode toward the train.

get on the train kid

She played a game.  Trying to wind up the music box just enough so that as it slowed, it would end on the final strains of the tune.  Sometimes cheating a little, pushing in the metal button to stop the music at the right place.

Forty five years later, the kid still has hard to manage hair.  She still doesn’t care much what it looks like most of the time.  She was back in that same living room yesterday, bringing her mother home from an appointment with the cardiologist…

Mom is doing ok as she approaches her 86th birthday.  The lung cancer has apparently been radiated into submission.  A pacemaker keeps her heart ticking along.  She moves slowly, with the assistance of a cane.  Usually out of breath, the cardiologist ran another EKG, and ordered some blood work to check for anemia.  Checked her pulse oxygen, which was a reasonable 93% using the finger cuff.

“I’m just so tired.  Sometimes I just think my heart is going to quit.”

Mom has been working through her estate plans.  She is not confused about what she wants to happen when she dies, and has taken the advice of her attorney to get things sorted.  We’d just returned from another visit to the bank to address some of these issues

Going into Mom’s apartment, she brought me to the dresser where she keeps her important papers.  She was showing me where she keeps stock certificates, and other assorted documents.

i was surprised to see the little guy on the music box, still chasing that train…

At the first strains of the tune, i was right back on that worn gray carpet.  A little dusty, it still worked perfectly…

“Your Dad gave me that years ago…”

“i know, Mom.  i remember this well…”  Still able to wind it up just so… Still able to use the metal button to bring the music to a halt at just the right place…

“Do you want it?  Put your name on the bottom of it.  Or just take it home now…”

“No.  i can’t do that…  You still have it out!  It looks perfect right here…”

“Well, you better mark it if you want it because if you don’t it might disappear after i’m gone…”

We had discussed this over lunch.  It is entirely within the realm of the plausible that anything that could potentially be of monetary value will vaporize as soon as she dies.  “The perils of benefactors, the blessings of parasites.”

i left it there, but the melody has been stuck in my head ever since.  Thinking about my father.  Thinking about the man that devoted his life to caring for her, and her children.  Leaving behind friends and family in the northeast, and starting over in his new role…

arrevederci roma

Get on that train, kid.  Don’t look back…

Time Traveling

During every round of household excavations, i find something that stops me in my tracks.  This time?  No exception.

Viciously tearing through bookshelves heaving with excess, i was in good form.  Thirty year old textbook on “Plastics Engineering”?  POOF!  That “Principles of Modern Physics” that tortured me for an entire year of undergraduate studies?  Get outta my life, Drs. Halliday and Resnick!  Paperback novels bought in airports over the past few decades of travel?  Banished to the thrift store box!  Find a new home!

On the same shelf?  A small book of poetry.  A gift, long forgotten.  Opening the cover i discovered the handwritten inscription from 1978.

To Daisyfae –
Finding an old book is like reliving the past.  As the dust is swept away by the hand, the mind recalls memories of different times and old friends.
Merry Christmas!
With love,
Jenny

As if my excavations weren’t slowed enough?  A book of photographs – with the following written inside the cover:

Daisyfae,

Well, the day we’ve looked forward to for so long is finally here… May 18th, 1980, better known as the day we graduate.  I don’t know where we’ll be ten years from now.  I do know you were one of my dearest friends in high school (that’s four long years), and that we went through our “formative” years together.  Also that if I can’t remember your name when I’m old and grey it doesn’t matter, because our paths have crossed, and each will be forever different because they did.  We’ll never forget each other because we’ve grown and changed together.

Keep reaching for that higher plane, and always remember the simplistic beauty of the laughter we’ve shared.

Love Always,

Jenny

My evening of excavations was delightfully derailed as i tripped back to a time when i was angst-ridden and alive… So much of the goofy-assed, drunken, bon vivant that i happen to be these days can be traced back to those four incredibly formative years – with Jenny and Jeff as my best friends.

When we went to different universities in 1980, we lost touch.  The next time i spoke with Jenny?  i tracked her down in 1986 to tell her Jeff had died.  She knew why i was calling as soon as she heard my voice.

After that?  Another brief reconnection ten years ago, as i was in southern California on a business trip.  We had found each other by e-mail a few months prior, and planned to meet for dinner.  Our lives had taken decidedly different paths, but we were able to pick up the conversation as if we’d been in constant contact through the years.

Her route?  From teaching English literature in the Los Angeles public schools, she followed a path that led to law school, and eventually to private family law practice.  She was delighted to find that i’d survived the dark years and managed to follow my girlish dream of being a scientist.  Not quite astronaut, but we both considered it a success in that i hadn’t been found dead in a gutter.

After finding the inscribed books, i grabbed a beer, and set about a “missing person” search.  Found her.  Sent an e-mail to let her know that as an 18 year-old, she’d successfully managed to reach forward in time.  i also thanked her for being such an erudite little shit that she could reach in and play with my heart from so far away – in time and distance.

time traveling

Here’s to old friends.  Here’s to time travel.

No place like it

The first time i saw the place, my jaw dropped.  It was HUGE!  Five bedrooms?  An extra kitchen downstairs.  Full dining room, with hardwood floors through the entire upstairs.  There was NO WAY that this was going to be my home – it was amazing!  More house than i could have ever wanted…  “We’ll NEVER be able to fill it up*- we don’t have enough stuff!”
 
That feeling washed back over me as i watched the face of the young woman, carrying a baby, as she entered the home for the first time since she and her husband offered to purchase it from me.  Her jaw was very nearly on that hardwood floor.
 
When i moved to “The Barbie Dream Condo” almost two years ago, i kept the old family home as a rental property – waiting for the housing market to recover at least a little.  The house represents my savings, and i wanted to optimize the cash out of it.  The tenants moved out last weekend, and i put the place on the market again last Sunday.  On Wednesday morning**, i was stunned when my realtor brought me three offers…
 
Reviewing the offers over coffee that afternoon, i grilled him about the people who wanted to buy the house.  He described the young couple with five kids (four under the age of 10 plus a 21 year old from a prior marriage), who are currently living in a very small three bedroom home nearby.  He even remembered to check my most important criteria – yes, they have a dog!
 
Sure, i wanted to know their credit scores, ability to come up with the down payment, and timing (whether the sale would be contingent on the sale of their current home).  But it was the five damn kids that sealed it for me.  And the dog***.
 
It was a great house for our family.  A closed neighborhood with very little traffic, it was safe for kids to ride bikes.  Trees.  A creek full of crawdads and tadpoles.  Good neighbors. The kind that look out for each other, without getting nosey – a delicate balance. 
 
After i accepted their offer, The Boy and i decided to drop by and walk through it – he was headed back to school, and wouldn’t have a chance to see it again before closing.  Twenty years of memories.  Scrapes on the concrete ledge in the garage where The Boy perfected edge grinds.  The artsy-fartsy light switch covers in The Girl’s old bedroom.  The ceramic tile in the kitchen, installed by my niece’s first husband – as he tried to earn money to pay his legal fees after his arrest.  Goofy stickers on the dartboard in The Boy’s old bedroom. 
 
As The Boy and i drove home, he said “That chapter is closed.  Nice to have seen it one last time.”  It’s almost closed for me, too.  If all goes well, that will happen Tuesday morning, after the paperwork is completed and i hand over the keys and garage door openers. 
 
It brings me tremendous pleasure that there will be little kids in that home.  And a dog. 

yep. that was our car...

 
* Stumble  forward 20 years.  We filled it.  And then some… dumped a couple tons at the garage sale.
 
** Happy fucking birthday, by the way!  It sold in three days.  My advice:  listen to your realtor.
 
*** The husband told me it’s a Doberman, who is afraid of climbing stairs.  She’ll either get over it, or spend a lot of time downstairs!

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”.

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

* Some things never change…

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.

The Killing Fields

Eleventh row, window seat, of an Air Tran 737 out of Atlanta last month.  Startled from deep sleep – and the darkest memory – it was about the last place i expected to wake up…

The dream was vivid.  Not really a dream, but a flashback.  Memories of a single morning in Phnom Penh, Cambodia* in October, 2006.  No idea what triggered the recollection.  Maybe lurking work frustrations and exhaustion teamed up to rattle my subconscious and put my petty worries into perspective. 

It worked. 

When The Girl and i saw the itinerary for our day in Phnom Penh, we agreed that it was about the strangest five hour travel session imaginable.  Not exactly “Art Museum, Shopping at Nordstrom, Down time at the Spa”…

0800-0930:  Choeung Ek, The Killing Field

0930-1100:  Genocide Museum (Tuol Sleng)

1100-1300:  Shopping/Lunch at the Russian Market

Students and parents were herded onto a bus, and we left the city.  The congestion, noise and traffic faded away, and soon we were dieseling our way through small villages, rudely splashing pedestrians and bicyclists with mud as they went about their business. 

The landscape changed again.  Green and lush, rolling hills. We arrived at Choeung Ek.  There was sparse signage, cattle grazing nearby and no other visitors at that hour of the morning.

Between 1975 and 1979**, the Khmer Rouge executed an estimated 2.2 – 2.5 million Cambodians – from a starting population of about 7 million.  First rounding up politicians, and opposition leaders, they soon after moved on to the educated classes:  doctors, engineers, teachers.  Families of doctors, engineers, teachers… and soon, simply anyone deemed unsympathetic.

After detention, torture and confession, prisoners were murdered at provincial dumping grounds – the killing fields.  So here we were, a tour bus of privileged students and their parents.  No formal tour, we were told to wander the fields.  Small placards were posted near partially excavated hollows in the ground.  “Mass grave of 166 victims”, “Mass grave of 90 victims”.  And on and on…

As we walked, the sun was rising higher in the sky, making the day inappropriately cheerful.  A gnarled, stately tree stood next to a large pit.  This was “the killing tree”.  Rather than waste bullets on the smallest victims, the babies and small children were held by the feet, their skulls smashed against the sturdy trunk, before they were thrown into the pit.  A faint stain is visible at the base of the tree.   “Mass grave of 450 victims”.  And on and on…

We walked along in stunned silence.  There was nothing to say.  Stopping along the path, turning to take it all in, i felt something under my foot.  i distractedly reached down to pick up the bright white stone, from the dirt path.  Not a stone.  A tooth.  A human molar…

Never in my life have i felt such anguish.  Almost 9,000 humans were brutally exterminated in this pastoral field.  i stepped on the tooth of a murdered man.  i sobbed uncontrollably.  Not really sure how long i was down, but The Girl startled me back to my senses with “I think we have to go now, Mom.  Are you ok?” 

No, i wasn’t.  Far from it… but we made our way back to the bus, and rode off in silence with the rest of the group.  And on to the next stop on the itinerary: Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (Security Prison S-21)   

As i lurched forward in my seat on the Air Tran jet, it was all there.  As if i’d just been to the killing fields the day before. 

Perspective.  Use it or lose it.

Photo by: Michael Darter

 photo from here:   i am apparently not the only one to have encountered teeth of the dead in the killing field…

* The Girl was spending a Semester at Sea, and i accepted the opportunity to meet up with her in Asia.  Her ship sailed into Saigon, Vietnam and we took a side trip to Cambodia.  One of the strangest sentences i ever read in an e-mail was “Hey, Ma.  Guess I’ll see you in Saigon.”

** Just after the Vietnam War.  And the years i spent in high school…

Time Traveling

daisyfae at 7:  [bouncing up and down beside my sister’s bed] “C’mon!  Get up!  GET UP!  He’s been here!  It’s CHRISTMAS!”  i remember when i still believed in Santa Claus.  My friends were skeptics, but i wanted him to be real, so i resisted.  i didn’t give it up until my older brother spilled the beans a year later – leading my two older sisters to bark at him for being such an asshole. 

At seven, i remember getting a “Chatty Cathy” talking doll from Santa.  It scared the living shit out of me.  “i don’t want it!  There’s a SCARECROW inside it!”  Mom orchestrated the ritual overindulgence – only stockings could be opened on Christmas morning, and we could investigate the “Santa Gifts”, unwrapped presents for each of us under the tree. 

She wanted Christmas to last, so we had to have nutritious breakfast first – often a treat of Strawberry PopTarts.  One of us would be an elf, and presents were distributed in piles to each of us in the cramped living room.  As Maestro, she then instructed us on which gifts to open – one at a time, waiting so that we could see others open their gifts.  Directed chaos.  i was happy.
 
daisyfae at 16:  [slogging down the hallway, looking for coffee] My older sister and brother were already married with babies.  These marriages were already showing signs of implosion, but it was cool to have little kids around for the holidays.  Mom’s orchestrated ritual continued, but didn’t start before sunrise – my older siblings showed up later in the day, sugar-buzzed and over-stimulated children in tow.  Stockings?  Treats and plastic toys were replaced by deodorant and lip balm, but they were still overflowing. 

It was during the teen years that i finally let my sister, T,  know i’d figured out that “lesbian” thing, and that my best friend, JW, was gay too.  The gift i left for her under the tree was a pile of 35mm film*.  But the day before, i’d given her a couple of books – “Rubyfruit Jungle” by Rita Mae Brown and “The Front Runner” by Patricia Nell Warren. Good teen gay-lit, given to me by my friend JW.  It was a turning point for us as sisters.
 
daisyfae at 21:[waking up in a strange bed, alone] It was my first Christmas away from home.  i’d been living with EJ for a couple years, and agreed to make the “parent trek” to Florida.  My first dinner with his family was memorable.  It was so quiet i could hear myself chewing!  A sound i’d never heard before at a family dinners because my clan yelled, threw dinner rolls and argued everything from music to philosophy over meals.  His parents were very sweet. 

Their house was perfect, uncluttered and understated.  i found myself missing the chaotic Christmas mornings of my childhood.  Just a little bit… Returning to the homestead for a Christmas visit the next week, i was comforted when i dumped out my Christmas stocking to find travel-sized toothpaste, shampoos and deodorant, along with candy and a smattering of cheap plastic crap.
 
daisyfae at 30:  [dragging ass outta bed as my young children tumble excitedly down the stairs, after i’d been up until 2am assembling kid toys]  We kept some of the same rules – no presents opened until we were all there, but stockings and “Santa Gifts” were fair game.  Breakfast of cookies and milk was perfectly acceptable.   i was in my “Super Working Mom” phase, and generally exhausted myself the weeks before Christmas with shopping, baking, decorating and wrapping – but i truly enjoyed it! 

The downside was always the travel.  My husband and i agreed – “As long as we have parents to visit, we will travel on Christmas.”  And so we did.  Never mind the fact that we never went ANYWHERE when we were young, our parents expected to see us for the holidays. 

Every other year we went wherever his folks were – usually Florida.  Palm trees with twinkie lights, Santa wearing shorts.  Waking up in strange beds on Christmas morning – for us and our children.  Typically driving 16 hours, we’d always have to anticipate weather challenges – dodging ice storms in the mountains of Tennessee. 

Alternate years?  Home for Christmas morning, but on the road to The Trailer Park by noon for the family visit.  Mom had taken the “directed chaos” to an entirely new level – attempting to pull off the same “one-at-a-time” gift opening ritual with a crowd now numbering close to 20, and in a living room more cluttered (and far less organized) than the interior of the International Space Station.  We returned home reeking of cigarette smoke, hauling trash bags of mostly “off target” gifts and generally very crabby.
 
daisyfae at 47: [bouncing up and down beside my children’s beds] “C’mon!  Get up!  GET UP!  He’s been here!  It’s CHRISTMAS!” Not an over-abundance of gifts, but they are thoughtful.  Sometimes disgusting, but thoughtful.  Santa still shows up, reliably delivering ‘scratch off’ lottery tickets in the stockings.  We just hang out.  We eat junk food, watch movies, drink and nap.  Friends drop in to eat junk food, watch movies, drink and nap.  “Dog Wrasslin’” is the sport du jour.  i am happy.
 
It’s just another day, but it’s an annual pinning point.  Tripping us backwards through the joyful, the broken and empty.  The sweet and the bittersweet. 

The New Year has us looking forward…. but Christmas makes us time travelers.

~~~~~~~~~~
 
* i worked at Photo Bug and used my employee discount to buy gifts for all of my friends with cameras.  Like a FotoMat, it was a drive-up photo-processing facility.  We shipped film out and promised “next-day” service.  It causes me great pain, but i have been COMPLETELY unable to find photographic evidence of a Photo Buggery.  A 15’ x 15’ box with windows in a parking lot, and a 5’ tall smiling bee on the roof, spinning merrily while holding a camera.  Surely someone, somewhere, has a picture?!?

Letter to my 16-year-old self…

Not that i would have actually listened, mind you… but a stumble into dearme triggered the thought exercise.  Exactly what would i have told myself at 16 that might possibly have made a difference?  Who knows…  here’s my best guess after a couple glasses of bourbon.

Dear 16-year-old daisyfae,

Christ.  Where do i start?  First off, lose the flannel shirts and owl glasses, ok?  You bear a frightening resemblance to Neil Young.  While you take some solace in this, and it may feed the deeply buried socialist songwriter hiding underneath that case of Oreos you snarfed down in your bedroom last night?  It’s not particularly attractive.

owl

Those glasses. Seriously. What the fuck were you people thinking?

Off the top of my head:

– You are an athlete and a dancer, despite the fact that the mirror tells you otherwise.  Somewhere in your 30’s you’re going to figure this out, but it will be a tad late to start formal training.  Join the fucking swim team.  You are built for it, and are a natural.  Take some dance lessons now.  So much easier than trying to find a “tap dancing” class for 40-somethings…

– Settling for a generic state university is a reasonable safety net, and will work out just fine.  However, those recruiters from MIT, Carnegie Mellon and the US Military Service Academies that come to visit you next year aren’t just being nice to you. Regarding the military academies?  You can do the push ups.  Trust me.   There will come a point in your career where you work with some folks who chased those dreams.  You will kick their ass.  It will annoy you that they’ve got the pedigree…

He’s gay.  He never gets “un-gay”.  In fact, he’s going to wander off, and you’ll lose touch in a few years, despite the promises you’ve made to be best friends forever.  It’s not going to end well for him.  You didn’t make him gay.  He was wired that way from the start.  Stop using his gayness as an excuse as to why you’re inherently unlovable.  There are other reasons for that…

Your sister, T?  She’s kind of a bitch.  The nastiness she throws your way?  Trying to keep the fact that she’s a lesbitarian under cover from the rest of the high school gang.  Once you busted her, she was terrified that you’d tell everyone at school.  You’ve got a long road ahead of you, helping keep her level… on the bright side?  She takes you to Bangkok and you get to see your first Thai drag queens with her…. and you successfully resist the urge to strangle her and throw her in a canal 10,000 miles from home. 

– That whole 18th birthday thing?  Probably the low point.  If you can avoid that roadtrip to northern Indiana?  Do it.  Things get better.  And not much worse… you’ll write about it someday, people will be stunned and wonder how the hell such an alignment of dark bullshit could hit a kid on her 18th… On the bright side?  You weren’t found dead in a landfill a month later…

– You escape the Trailer Park.  Seriously.  You get out of it.  Unfortunately, however, it doesn’t quite leave you.  There will be moments when you are choking down the urge to punch someone in a public place.  You will dance on tables.  The phrase “What are you lookin’ at, shithead?” may be enough to enrage you.  Trailer Park’s got long arms, and you make a promise that will be difficult to keep…  but you will.  i hope.

– Marriage?  Surprise!  You’re going to meet him in about 3 years… and believe it or not, you’ll be pretty damn ready to settle down!  That first year of university?  U-G-L-Y.  After hanging out for a week, you’ll move in and stick around for about 25 years.  He’s a good guy, you’re not really in love, but that’s ok.  He’s the only reason you survive undergrad, make it through grad school and don’t burn out in flames by the time you’re 20. 

– Children?  Get this – you have two, and they’re a riot!  Despite your complete allergy to babies, they survive the first few years, and you discover you actually like them as human beings.  Teaching them how to make “jello shots” may not win you any parenting awards, but bonding is bonding…

There’s a lot more, but it’ll be better as a surprise.  You end up having more fun than you expect.  You eventually learn to smile. Probably sold yourself short too many times, but chasing all those pesky dreams would have been work.  Fucking off.  It’s underrated.  Go with your strengths…

Yours,

47-year-old daisyfae

guitarnerd
bought that guitar (epiphone 12-string) with babysitting money. i was robbed. it was piece of shit.

Ok.  Next round will be a rather acerbic rant directed at 30-something daisyfae.  She was Super-mom, the Wonder-Bitch.  i got a LOT more to say to her….

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post inspired by sweary at coddlepot