Nonsoapy Archives, Aug-Sept 2001

Sept 27, 2001

Well, that was a short week (the week of Katrina Rasbold).  I woke up on Tuesday and as quickly as the good mood had come, it was gone.  I tried to recapture the feeling through the day and yesterday, but I can’t seem to shake the gloom.  I’ve got to find the right button because even my online friends are eeeking away from me because I’m so morose to be around.  I’m working on it.  

Eric starts work on Monday and will be putting in 12-16 hour days as well as weekends.  I hate to see him working himself to death.  He won’t get paid until Oct 12 or so, which means we have to do some very creative financing to make everything work since rent is due on the 1st and there are 4 other major heavy hitting bills that are just in the wind right now.  That works out to about a $1500 deficit, so I have to wave my wand and stir my cauldron and try to come up with enough to go on.  At least there is money coming, if I can just get the mercy of the ones to whom I owe it. 

So I vow that this is going to be my last self-absorbed, bummy post for a while.  I know it’s getting old and I’m going to work double time to come up with some entertainment instead of all this doom and gloom.  First things first:  as soon as Sir Eric drags his booty out of bed, I’m going into it for some good sleep.  After that, he’s going to go canvas the neighborhood for boxes and I’m going to go through every item in the garage and be mercenary about a garage sale that I’m having on Saturday.  I hate doing it because it’s such a major pain in the butt, but it might bring in a few dollars.  I don’t know how they go in the neighborhood since my last one was while I was still on the base, but I guess I’ll find out.  I still have plenty of baby and toddler clothes from Nathan, so that might fetch a bit.  

Look for better posts in the next few days!  I promise a brighter atmosphere soon. 




Sept 25, 2001

I woke up yesterday with an incredible feeling of peace and joy.  I haven't felt that way since Spring. All through the day, it persisted and I had that enviable assurance that I could do no wrong.  It was the day, the week of Katrina Rasbold.  It felt really, really good.  I took note of it as I stumbled out of the bedroom, a little bleary-eyed from not sleeping well.  Kids were busy through the night.  :(.  That made it even more remarkable that I felt so incredible.  Got into the computer and found that our server had repaired the problem with Front Page, the program I use to post.  Hurray!  No more stupid FTP!  The day before, I'd been dismayed to find that my Hoyle Board Games program had somehow been deleted from my computer.  All I got was the forever little searching flashlight.   *sigh*.  I couldn't install it again because it was Joe's game and he had the disk in Canada.  No more Othello?  No more Mah Jong?  No more totally mindless escape!  Yesterday, I happened to mention it to Joe, who immediately got onto Morpheus and found not only my Hoyle Board Games IN it's entirety (NOT a demo) but Hoyle Games 2001 with lots of extras, including a cool new game (Rummy Cube) which I totally love and have rabidly enjoyed.  Awesoma Power!  Katrina can do NO wrong!  Kids were good all day.  

We told our were taking a vacation week and not worrying about the joblessness because it was either one thing or another by Friday:  He gets a job here or he goes back into the AF.  Our AF choices weren't bad.  Beale or Travis, close to here and McChord in Washington, close to Joe and Sandra in Canada.  I was finally at peace with the idea.  This being decided, we prepared for some kick back time.  Around 10:00am, Eric got a call from the AF recruiter saying that he could not go back in.  ??!!  Evidently, if you are in the AF for longer than 6 years (he was in 7), once you get out, you can't go back in.  I would think they'd clamor for the experienced people, but I guess they aren't interested in my thoughts.  The stakes were definitely raised knowing the the return to the AF was no longer a choice.  I didn't feel any lessening of the joy and positive feelings.  I just knew it was getting intense in an exciting way.  I was looking at it all in a very removed, objective way.  

His unemployment check came!!  That covered the check we wrote for groceries and the check we wrote to keep the electricity on.  Nothing else, really, but those were the immediate needs and they were met!  

I had been praying & meditating through the morning, asking that if my mood was not a fluke and all really was going to be well, that we have a storm and sure enough, when I was going to get Josh from Trina's house, the clouds opened and thunder and lightening went mad, which NEVER happens here.  Awesome! 

Around 1pm, Eric got an urge to go to the SETA office and they put him onto a job lead with a company that he'd been wanting to work for since they opened.  It's called WINfirst and they are the purveyors of fiber optic technology that is not to be believed.  He went over and talked to the guy and was offered a job there.  He's there now, getting the preliminaries nailed down.  Don't know if they will work him today or just get him oriented and send him home.  It's at half the pay he was making before, so it won't cover all the bills, but it will definitely be more than unemployment!  Plus, the opportunity for advancement is very generous, so he could get to be exactly where he wanted to be back before he started working at MCI.  That's a good thing.   With some careful money management and finding some other way to bring in monthly income, we should just squeak by until his income goes up.

He has been registered for VA benefits for some injuries he received while in the AF and his claim was opened 10 months ago.  If that comes through, it would really help us along.  

This time has taught me so much about how out of control our spending and money management was and what is and isn't necessary to life.  I've learned the value of the luxuries like fabric softener, soda, thumbtacks and about a hundred little things that I would have purchased without thought before.  I'm glad it's drawing to a close and I'm really going to keep those lessons close to me.

Thanks for your support and wonderful warm, encouraging letter through this tough time.  I don't know if I would have made it without you guys.  My feeling of joy and assurance that all is well continues today and I'm grateful for that as well.  I really did harvest the joy that I planted back in the Spring (go back maybe 5000 journal entries) and I had pretty much given up on that.  Now I know to NEVER give up!



Sept 23, 2001

Pssst.  Hey.  It's me again.  In fact, it's the real me and not the whiney me.  Sorry I took a dive into the valley of self pity for a month or so there.  I got a little sleep and I'm back again.  More sleep to come, thank goodness.  I remember the nights, long, long ago, when I had the honor of sleeping with Prince Valium, but alas, those days are gone.  Mama do love her a good sedative that sets you up on a little cloud and lays you down in the belly of silence for a good long communion with the Sandman.  Valerian leaves me hung over, so I can't do that much.  Ever since Paul and I divorced the first time, I've slept on the edge of wakefulness through most of the night, listening for any weird noises in the house or waking children.  I can't seem to cultivate that deep, wonderful sleep again.  Maybe one day (or night).  I used to fantasize about sex.  Now I fantasize about sleep.  It used to be men.  Now it's chocolate.

OK, so having thought things through completely and considered that we might be misusing our faith by insisting that it keep us here where we want to be, we have decide to go with the inevitable choice to re-enter the Air Force IF a better alternative has not presented itself by close of business on Friday.  Our rent will be due the following Tuesday and we can let out landlords know to use our last month's deposit if we will be moving in October.  Friday makes sense and leaves lots of room for the miracle to happen if we are meant to stay here.  I'm at peace with that.  I don't have to like it to be at peace with it.

In a situation where you are coming back into the Air Force, what happens, we are told, is that you give them them 3 bases where you'd like to go and they guarantee you one of them.  We've talked it over a lot, since most locations of AF bases aren't all that palatable, and settled on Travis, Beale (these bases are 80 miles apart with our house in the midpoint, but we'd still have to move because we could not afford this rent on AF salary) and McChord in Washington, which would be a quick jump to visit Joe and Sandra in Canada.  There is so much that I don't like about this decision, but if it's the only choice that we have, I have to have faith that it's what we're supposed to do.  

We plan to spend this week relaxing, listening for the phone (he has submitted his resume to over 5,000 places, literally) and being open to whatever comes up.  Whatever it is will be the best thing, I'm sure.  

Thanks to everyone for being there and offering their well wishes and love.  It's been a long, long month and one way or another, it will be resolved within a week.  There is an incredible liberation in determining that it will be "this" or "that" and letting the Universe handle the rest.  I'll keep you posted on what happens.  


Sept 22, 2001

*sniff*  Awww.  The Grocery Fairy left three wonderful bags of groceries on my porch this morning.  Man, did I ever need something nice to happen today.  :)  I'm going to buy a lottery ticket tonight with this kind of luck!  Thanks, Grocery Fairy.


Sept 21, 2001

Well, in retaliation for not getting the car job, Eric has basically decided that he is going back into the military again.  There are so many reasons why I don't want this to happen, not the least of which is the current national situation.  Also, I began my life as a military spouse in 1978 and with the exception of the past 10 months when Eric has been a civilian, I have spent the past 23 years following husbands all over the world, letting them go over and over for temporary assignments and listening to them complain about how much they hate being in the military.  Delena is just finally getting settled in school and starting to participate in the GATE program and a few other activities.  Taking her out and putting her into a new school in midyear is only going to set her back again.  I'd have to leave my two sons who are here and seldom see them.  I'd have to leave our spiritual group, which is the only sanity I have these days.  Man.  This just sucks.  I want to go and hide and not come out for a year or so.  Pretty much, since I don't work outside the home, I don't get a vote (I keep wondering how many times that's going to come back to bite me in the ass) on this it appears.  The only other option, as he sees it, is for both of us to take low paying jobs, which will mean I'll have to stop writing for the site and just let it carry on of its own momentum.  I'm trying to see how I'd be winning with any of this and right now, I'm so jaded by the idea of doing even more time in the military that I can't see clearly.  I know he wants and needs for me to tell him that it's OK, that I'll support whatever he wants to do, but I just don't have it in me for this one.  I'm trying to find it, but it's just taking my life down a road where I don't want it to go.  I feel like it's quitting five minutes before the miracle.  I'm going to go be depressed now.

PS:  If anyone writes and tells me that this just goes to show it can always be worse, they will be forever blocked from every writing a damned thing to me again.  So sayeth me.  Damned silver lining philosophers.  :Þ


Sept 21, 2001

Eric didn't get the job selling cars that he wanted.  Back to square 1. . .or maybe it's square -27.


Sept 21, 2001

Even I was shocked when I saw the date of my last journal entry (before the patriotic stuff).  It has been nearly a month and what a month it is been!  Aside from national tragedies and planes destroying national monuments, in the microcosm of things, Katrina’s World has been little but challenges.  I lost a good friend, which was really hard.  No, she didn’t die, as that comment seemed to imply, but we determined that our relationship was going through some changes that didn’t feel very good and was causing some discomfort in both of us, so we decided to take a sabbatical and see if our paths were ready to cross at a later date.  It felt good to part in love instead of waiting until things started to get ugly, but it was still hard.  

Eric is still out of work.  We never, ever thought it would take so long for him to find a job again and it seems like there is always some opportunity that is a sure thing that doesn’t pan out.  It is so frustrating when these people hold your future in their hands and to them it’s just the next thing to tick off on their to do list.  Case in point:  He was supposed to get a call by 3:00pm today to tell him whether or not he got a job that he’s really wanting.  He finally got through to the guy around 7:30 tonight and found out that they do want to hire him.  What was so frustrating about that is that he had told another person that he’d get with them by 4pm about a different job and without the info from the first guy, he was unable to talk to the second guy.  Granted, the job they picked him up for was the one he wanted, but it would have been nice to have known that when we were putting off the second guy.  

For a long time, Eric has wanted to get out of telecom because the field is so unstable right now.  He’s really, really good at what he does, but he’s also really burned out after 8 years.  Now he has decided that he wants to sell cars at the Roseville Auto Mall, at the same place, in fact, that he got the dreaded white Intrepid (don’t get me wrong, it’s a wonderful car, but he ended up paying way more per month than we could afford – see earlier post).  There is good room for advancement, but it’s straight commission and where most people would see that as a downside, he sees it as a challenge to show what he’s made of.  He has two days of nonpaid training, then goes on the lot, so a paycheck is still a ways off.  He should start getting unemployment checks tomorrow.  

This is been such a tumultuous time that it feels like I’m living in a dream.   I’m sleeping anywhere from 3-5 hours a night (this was a 3) for a number of weird reasons, so my thinking cap isn’t exactly nailed on straight.  Eric sleeps, smokes and looks for work.  He’s been really introverted and keeping to himself when he isn’t shaking his fists at the skies and ranting about the injustice of it all.  I definitely know how he feels.  I’ve offered several times to go out and get a job myself, but he doesn’t want me to do that.  His parents said that if I was any kind of wife, that I’d just do it without talking to him about it, but we made the decision for me to leave the work force together and I felt we should make the decision for me to re-enter together.  I also knew that the minute I started work, the site would be done for.  I’d never have time to work and do it as well, so admittedly, I was putting it off.  I also could not see committing him into watching the boys full time without bringing him in on the decision.  I am one of these absolute faith people and I have worked hard to maintain the assertion that we will get through this and we will have our needs met one way or another; maybe not our wants, but our needs.  Faith is one thing, but as Dr Phil says, “Have faith, but keep rowing for the shore.” 

This week was the hardest because it was the week that all of our resources ran out:  money, stocks, food, gas, luck, patience and yes, sometimes the faith.  It seemed like everywhere we turned, we hit a closed door.  Money that was promised to us didn’t come through.  Money we were going to borrow from his parents didn’t work out.  A month ago, we were living well within our means and then suddenly, we were financially bereft.   I didn’t think it could all clear out so quickly.  Knowing where we were heading, Eric applied for unemployment and food stamps.  He sat in the food stamps office for half a day, filling out a book of paperwork to be told that because of that accursed car, we did not qualify for any assistance.  Granted, we could not sell the car if we tried because we had just gotten it when the layoff occurred.  Granted, we could not even afford to make the first payment on the car and were in dire danger of it being repossessed and us being stuck with the difference between what they can sell the car for and the payoff on the loan (at least a couple grand).  Because our car is worth more than two thousand dollars, we did not qualify (Next!).  No food.  No money and a car that we can neither sell nor eat is keeping us from getting help.  Unemployment checks were 3 weeks away and should finally hit today.  We placed the ultimate stupid faith in that by writing a check for groceries yesterday that will clear on Monday.  We also had to promise $150 to the electric company by today, which will also clear on Monday and the two combine pretty well take care of the total of the unemployment check.  Thanks to a few generous contributions from fans, the site is paid up for 2-3 months, so that’s a good thing.  I began selling off my LP and cassette collection to have bits of money here and there.  One of the great things about California is that there are used record stores everywhere.   The credit card companies are relentless, insisting that you promise them money you don’t have and have no idea when you will have to keep them from suspending your account.  As if I care.  I already maxed out the accounts to get groceries a couple of weeks ago.  The calls come in at least once a day.  

Delena found out that she could work in the school cafeteria and get free lunches, so she starting doing that all on her own (I was so proud of her).  The kids have been able to eat whenever they needed to, so that is great and I’ve lost three pounds!!  I’m sure it will be more by the time all is said and done. 

I’ve had 2-3 melt downs during the month and I’ve been wonderfully pleased that it’s only been so few.  I think the numbness of not sleeping really helps, but it does leave me pretty emotionally raw.  On top of all of that, the web host where we park our site screwed up the Front Page extensions that I use to upload material to Eye on Soaps and for three days, I haven’t been able to get the site to accept my password.  Their “technicians are aware of the problem and are working to resolve the issue.  You do have your site backed up on hard drive, right?”  Sure, I have a five gajillion megabite site right here on my desktop, buddy.  I was supposed to get a cd burner for my birthday (which fell in the middle of the month of layoff) which would have enabled me to back it up, but of course, that couldn’t happen either.  Now, in self defense, I’m having to learn a stupid FTP program that, even when I’m proficient at it, will take about 3-4 times as long to do everything and leave a much greater margin for error.   Grrr.  This is like trying to teach a pig to sing.  Colossal pain in the ass doesn’t even start to cover it. 

I’ve been taking myself out of circulation on most fields, only answering the super-important e-mails and laying low so as not to inflict myself on folks.  I’m waiting for the storm to pass and hoping that the house is still standing.  This kind of experience definitely shows you where you’ve been pissing away money and what is and isn’t a necessity of life.  A 39cent hamburger from McDonald’s can really be nirvana.  

I’m not telling all of you this to whine or seem ungrateful for the wonderful things I have in my life that money can’t buy.  If anything, it’s made me appreciate them more.  The recent national tragedies definitely put so many things into perspective and I know that I am lucky in many respects. 

I think that the hardest thing about this has been that my two means for coping with stress are eating and shopping, neither of which works in this situation, so I’ve been pretty ragged at times.  I’ve had to really stay focused on Eric, the kids and the readers to not feel like all of the good stuff has gone away.  I know that the tide has to turn and I hope that Eric getting this job is the beginning of that (winning the lottery would have worked as well).  

So that’s my whiney story.  I’m sure that soon I’ll have a happier, more optimistic journal entry.  I know this is just a speed bump on the road of life, but as Pink Floyd says, “Mother did it need to be so high?” 

Peace Out, My Friends,


Sept 20, 2001

First comes the patriotic stuff:

Sorry it has been so long since I posted.  Believe me, my thoughts have been with you even if my words have not.  It’s been a really strange time for everyone, I guess. 

I specifically held off on comment on the recent tragedies because for one thing, it seemed like everything that could be said was already being said.  For another, I just didn’t know WHAT to say and still don’t.  I, like so many others, am just agog.  I’ve read a million testimonies and opinions on what we should do and what we shouldn’t do and I’m going to say straight out that you won’t hear commentary from me on where we should go from here.  It’s not that I don’t have opinions.  Lord yes, as usual, I’m full of them, but I’ve already lost one friendship (no, they didn’t die, just the relationship) over this (well, there were other factors, but this was the touchstone) and I’m going to take my lesson and just keep my big yap shut.  That doesn’t’ mean I can’t give commentary, which I will.  It just means that I won’t be getting on the taking sides wagon of whether we should combat this terrorism or turn the other cheek.  I guess it falls under, “don’t get be started.” 

When I think about all that has happened and the pain that was brought to so many in such a brief few minutes, it’s pretty staggering.  I’ve been consumed by patriotism and although GWB is the LAST person I wanted in office given his attacks on nonChristian religions and specifically, his promise to obliterate MINE, I have to say that it’s important that we all do our best to support this great nation and the leaders who are deciding its next step.  I am not going to sit here and pretend like I, a housewife from Sacramento, know more about what is going on in the Middle East than the CIA and the president.  I’ve been just trying to send “greatest good” energy to everyone concerned and hope that whatever measures are taken, they will be for the best interests of all.  

I was watching Oprah yesterday and listening to Dr Phil (my guru) and Mrs. Bush talk about how to speak with children about the things that have transpired over the past week.  Dylan is 4 and totally oblivious, but Delena is an angst-ridden 8-year-old whose teacher had the poor judgment to tell the students, “the war could come here, right to Sacramento” and Delena freaked out.  Last night, we talked to her extensively about it and I think our feelings were pretty well summed up in what we ended up telling her. 

These people are cowards.  Imagine that you are the littlest guy in the school and you decided that you are going to, for whatever insane or noble reason, kick the ass of the schoolyard bully, the biggest, baddest, strongest kid in the school.  Well, you aren’t going to fight him like a man, call him out on the basketball court, face him down and try to beat the snot out of him.  You’re going to hide in the shadows, lurk around until he shows up, then jump on him, get your punches in and run like hell.  You might have gotten in some hits and you’d better have enjoyed it, because it’s not going to happen again.  After that, nothing will ever be the same.  He is going to be on guard, so you aren’t going to catch him again.  He’s also going to be coming after you and so you’d better be hiding.  I did my best to assuage her fears that her house or her school would be the next building that met the business end of a Boeing.  I always try to be honest with my kids because I think kids know right away when you are snowing them, even if you’re telling them what they want to hear.  I don’t think she’s in danger (but neither did those people going to work at the WTC last Tuesday morning) and I told her so (but not the WTC last Tuesday part).  After going through my schoolyard analogy, Eric summed it up like this: 

“Look, if America is going to get their asses kicked, it’s NOT going to be by some loser who looks like Jafar.”  For reference of those who have not had children in the past 10 years, here is a picture of Jafar, of Disney’s “Aladdin” fame.  

I guess that about sums up most of what I have to say about America At War, Version 2001.  

jaffarbinladen.jpg (55947 bytes)
Click on Me

You're a baaaad man, Jafar Bin Laden


August 28, 2001  

This has always cracked me up.

Got to show off my son, Joe's work.


August 27, 2001  


I always wanted a childhood where I could lay claim to the memory of my parents dropping me off at the Kentucky Theater in Hartford every Saturday afternoon for the big matinee.  It cost a dollar to get in, fully 2/3 off of the evening price.  I would nibble on my little box of popcorn (this was the pre-bucket era), sip my Coca-Cola and watch the screen come to life for an hour and a half, escaping reality via Hollywood.  I thought about that at least weekly when I was growing up, but alas, it was not to be.  By the time I began dating in 1975, I had seen only a paltry handful of movies.  The first was in 1965 when I was four.  It was at the Malco Theater in Owensboro and was called, “The Monkey’s Uncle” and starred Tommy Kirk and Annette Funicello.  I remember nothing except that it had a chimp in it.  In 1966, Dad took us to a re-release of “The Ten Commandments” and I was enthralled not by the parting of the Red Sea, but by Mrs Munster getting her belt caught in the rock and Moses saving her seconds before she was violently crushed.  The whole staff into a serpent thing was pretty intriguing to a five year old as well.  In 1973, my father did the unthinkable and took us to a drive in (that’d be the Tri-City Drive-in) that was showing a delicious all night run of the four “Planet of the Apes” movies that had been released at that time, which, in reality, are the only 4 Ape movies to really count before 2001:  Planet of, Beneath, Escape from and Conquest of.  I was mesmerized.  At some horrible point, he also took us to an all nighter of the worst John Wayne movies ever made, but my mind has glazed that over in some blessed mental anesthesia.  Wayne is great when he’s great, but he made some hellishly boring movies as well, the pinnacle of which made up that night’s horrid foursome.  THAT, my friends, encompasses my movie going experience until 1975, then “dates” were born for me.  My first date was with David Utley and I was so in love my eyes looked like conversation hearts 24/7.  He was the most incredible thing that a fourteen-year-old had ever met.  He was an older man of 15 and his mode of transportation was a little Honda 250 motorcycle.  We double-dated with the grown ups, his sister, Brenda, and her boyfriend, Sammy, who was the older brother of my pal, Renee Wilkins.  We went to see:  (drum roll, please) Jaws.  My love affair with movies was reignited.  My love affair with David Utley, however, lasted only a few more weeks.  No more movies until 1977 (save your math, darling, I turned 16 that year), when some forgettable trips to the Tri City found me to be most genuinely pregnant.  In an effort to assert my burgeoning sense of adulthood, I got up the nerve to ask my father to drive me into Hartford to see that long awaited matinee at the Kentucky Theater.  I had three dollars from cleaning house for a neighbor lady.  That gave me my admission and two bucks in gas for him.  I was probably about four months pregnant at the time and had made it past the first trimester when I had been assured the horrendous morning sickness (that for me, lasted around the clock) would abate, only to find that it evidently not only lacked a clock, but also a calendar.  The idea of munching popcorn was wretch-inducing, so admission with no refreshments was fine by me.  I was terribly excited because I’d been hearing really good things about this movie called “Star Wars” and was eager to check it out.    I did not realize, until I got inside and looked at the ticket I’d excitedly purchased for the 3pm matinee, that the theater actually ran old movies for the matinee and not the current feature.  My ticket gave the name of the movie I’d be seeing and it looked interesting, maybe something life affirming, maybe even an old Frankenstein movie?  It was hard to tell by the title:  “It’s Alive.”  “The Davies’ are having a baby…”  Of course, the Davies baby wasn’t very pretty to look at, ate the milkman and got himself and his dad riddled with bullets at the end.  In another place, at another time, I would have loved it.  For a little Southern Baptist girl who had zigged when she should have zagged while (not) watching some sub-B movie at a drive in and found herself “in trouble” at an age when girls still went to see Aunt Jane for such things, the images of being punished by God for being bad by being sent cannibal baby danced in my head.  I was tremendously relieved when uberhealthy Baby Boy Chapman was born that January! 

This movie-going experience in no way put damper on my love for the silver screen and the next man I would take up with would prove to me that my long anticipated foreplay with movies would NOT disappoint.  I dated Paul Humphrey (later to be dubbed “The Goat” in our NonSoapy Column world here) for a while before marrying him and for all the pain that guy caused me and my kidlets over the next 18 years, I have to say that there were two things that he brought to my life (other than my beloved babies) for which I am truly grateful.  One is Rock and Roll.  My parents wouldn’t allow it (although when my dad worked on Saturdays, my mom used to sneak and watch American Bandstand on our little black and white TV) and when I bought an 8-track (this was during the assertive “It’s Alive” movement of summer, circa 1977) of Simon and Garfunkle’s Greatest Hits, I was advised to “Turn that garbage down!”  It felt deliciously rebellious.  Heh heh heh.  Paul knows and knew more about rock and roll than the collective publishers of Rolling Stone magazine.  He taught me about Aerosmith and Bad Company and Bachman Turner Overdrive and The Beatles and Steppenwolf and Fleetwood Mac and Queen and all of the great rock of the 60’s and 70’s.  When we got married, I got a crash course and never stopped learning about it and loving it.  The other thing he brought to my life was a long awaited consummation with the movies, at long last the movies.  We went ALL THE TIME, not just for a million dates, but after we were married and all through our marriage.  There was not a movie worth seeing and many that weren’t that didn't find us front and center to watch.  We started our marriage on Guam, Andersen AFB, and there were many movies to be had, not just downtown, but three actual theaters on the different base sites.  Two were on the main base:  the main theater and the Washout.  The Washout was basically a bunch of bleachers, surrounded by a wall with a big movie screen at the bottom. It was called The Washout because it was a totally open air theater and rain or shine, the movie ran.  On Guam, there was often more rain than shine.  It cost $1 to get in and had the second run movies, much like the cheapy theaters many towns have now (The Birdcage, here in Sacramento, used to do us that favor, but closed this year after “Dude, Where’s My Car” showed as their last offering.  >:<).  Everyone brought canteens to The Washout, filled with Jungle Juice or screwdrivers or whatever other alcohol and mixer we had around the house.  Wine sometimes, but not often.  Occasionally, if it wasn’t crowded and no kiddies were around, you’d catch a whiff of Guam’s Finest Green or Thai Stick on the air.  The only movie I can remember seeing there was “The Buddy Holly Story” starring Gary Busey, which is still one of the best movies ever made.  I know we saw literally hundreds of movies in that theater and the main theater (more expensive at $1.50 for first run offerings).  If we were bored, we’d go to the theater without a clue what was playing and just watch whatever was there.  I saw “Alien” that way and went back again two nights later because it was so incredible.  They would show first runs on the weekend and older movies during the week at the main theater, so between it and The Washout, I got a retroactive education in movies as well, spanning back five years or so.  Finally got to see Star Wars ;), Rocky and so many more.  While we were on Guam, VCR’s became common place and that completed the background homework in great movies.  

It didn’t surprise me that my oldest son became a screenplay writer, because although all of my children are entertained by movies, he is the only one who shared my obsession with them.  I love going with him because we can sit away from others and talk about what’s going on and I can get his spin.  His knowledge of movies and actors far surpasses his dad’s, which is nearly impossible to imagine for me.  He has such an incredible take on movies that watching it myself and then hearing his impression pretty much gives me two movies for the price of one because he will bring out such depth in it that it’s like a whole other movie.  We definitely have areas where we part ways on movies.  He likes artsy fartsy movies like “Clockwork Orange” and “Shadow of the Vampire.”  I don’t like to work too hard and get aneurysms from trying to decipher symbolism and “what the movie’s really about.”  I want to be entertained, pure and simple.  My life is too complicated to turn my movies into work.  He takes this very seriously and quotes Sean Penn to me, “Films aren't supposed to be entertaining.  If you want entertainment, get a couple of hookers and an eight ball.”  I tell him that Sean Penn is a fabulous actor and director, but needs to not take himself quite so seriously and not mess with my pig and get all offended about how I perceive or use movies, then we get into an argument about it, good naturedly, of course.  It was such a joy to introduce him to movies he’d never seen and have him go into the, “OH MY GOD THAT WAS INCREDIBLE,” mode, like with “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Last Temptation of Christ.”  HERE’s some symbolism for you, Mr MAN!!  : Þ  Then, of course, he took apart every one of my old favorites and showed me incredible things about them that I had NEVER ever seen before, like how the music was symbolic of the order Nurse Ratchett treasured and how McMurphy challenging it was reflective of him taking apart her ordered life.  He showed me how Mary Poppins is really a berserker who goes from family to family, tearing them apart, as is evidenced by how Mrs. Banks gave up her women’s suffrage movement that meant so much to her and Mr Banks lost his job and went insane at the end while Mary floated away to rip another family apart.  He showed me how The Jungle Book by Disney was actually a political satire with Mowgli as a young, impressionable youth of America and Baloo representing the hippie life and Bageera being the advocate of the straight and narrow road who insisted that Mowgli go to the village to “be with his own kind” and conform, while Kaa was the temptations along the way and so on.  God, I’m proud of him. 

Needless to say, my current husband, my Sweet Baboo, passed the test.  In fact, the moment I knew I would marry this man was when I saw him do the, “It’s not the coffee” routine from Pulp Fiction.  My heart and soul ached from wanting him when he got all of my Ferris Bueller (“Makes you look like an ass, Ed, is what he does”) and Breakfast Club (“can you describe the ruckus?”) lines.  In fact, he knew ALL of my movie lines, which permeate my speech liberally.  I learned long ago that if you use a lot of movie lines, half the population thinks you’re incredibly savvy and movie-literate while the other half, who didn’t see the movie, thinks the line is original and that you, my friend, are sharp as a tack.  That’s my impression, at least, and I beg all of you to not rupture it for me.  We still go to movies a LOT, despite the expense.  I desperately miss going with my Joe, but we try to make up for lost time when we see each other.  When one of us is feeling down, we cast The Simpson’s Movie in our heads together or a new Christmas Carol.  In fact, he has his own casting page,, on his site, The Walking Man Productions.  He’s only done about a tenth of the movies we’ve mentally cast, but it’s still great fun (beware, he has his mom’s potty mouth of the past).  To demonstrate to you how much this guy loves not only the movies, but the movie goers, he once quit a much needed job at one of our local United Artist theaters because they insisted he, as an usher, sell the refreshments.  He told them that he could not, in good consciousness, sell the overpriced goodies at the extortionary prices they charged.  They told him that in that case, they could not, in good consciousness, allow him to work there any more, so he quit.  He did that to take a stand so that you, the intrepid movie goer, would not have to pay $6 for a 75 cent bucket of popcorn.  They did not change their popcorn prices, however, they did go out of business.  Coincidence?  I think not. 

Now, I’m waiting to see “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.”  I love Kevin Smith, except for his freakish diversion into mainstream with “Chasing Amy,” which I can forgive, and his annoying insistence on casting the insufferable Joey Lauren Adams in his movies just because she would sleep with him.  Cute…I dunno…bugs me or something.  But not when it’s MARKY MARK of Boogie Nights/Dirk Diggler fame!  I can restrain both myself and my wallet enough to wait for the new “Planet of the Apes” to come to video, though.  I sat through an excruciating revisit to “Spy Kids” with Delena this weekend (but “Princess Diaries” was extremely cute last week, if you put your head in a Disney little girl space and just go with it.  Plus, I got to see that ol’ berserker, Mary Poppins again and she looks FINE for 70!).  Spy Kids was OK the first time, but mind numbing the second time, it’s only redeeming value being Antonio Banderas, who I have found quite interesting since my favorite line of his was uttered in the movie, “Four Rooms,” that being, “BEHAVE!!” I didn’t care for scary movies until I married Eric and he got me into them, which jaggled my memory on such spookfests as “The Changeling” with George C. Scott, which he had never seen.  Recently, we went to see “The Others,” which was soooo slow to the point that we were considering walking out half way through (we have only ever walked out of one other movie, “Evolution” with David “God” Duchovny).  Boy, am I glad we didn’t because the last twenty minutes were riveting and made the whole movie so much better.  I have heard the same could not be said for Evolution.  

I try not to block out a whole genre of movies as ones that I just don’t do.  As a rule, I don’t like cute kid movies, which almost cut me out of “Pay It Forward” and “The Sixth Sense,” which would have been a crying shame.  I don’t care for chick movies and would have missed “Somewhere in Time” and the classic, “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” had I stuck to that.  Don’t like war movies, but “Boys in Company C” and “Uncommon Valor” and “The Dirty Dozen” I loved.  Don’t like westerns, but loved, “Maverick,” “Pale Rider,” “Wyatt Earp” and “Tombstone.”  I started, with this sentence in its first incarnation, to type, “My favorites are comedies,” but then another part of my brain started squealing about a great action-thriller, and then another section of the brain stadium did a wave for a good mystery.  Every time I say I don’t like Sci Fi, a “Close Encounters” or “Star Man” comes along to wreck my rigid stance.  The only steadfast rule is that I HATE movies that make me cry and attempt to manipulate me into feeling guilty in some way.  I was tricked into watching "Terms of Endearment" and have been bitter about it ever since.  I do NOT go to movies to be sad and very much resent when that happens.  AI is the most recent to do that to me.  >:<  I shut off Sophie's Choice half way through on video and have to this day never seen Old Yeller.  Won't do it.  Nope, nope, nope. 

For me, video will never kill the movie jones.  I love the whole ambiance of the movies.  I love the way I feel when I have my ticket torn, getting the popcorn and soda, sitting in my seat, $30 lighter, waiting for the lights to dim and the previews to start.  I love the loveseat seats where I can pop up the arm rest and snuggle with my honey or just let my butt spread further than the one seat will allow.  I love the trick that my buddy, Herb Nero, taught me when we went to see *ahhhhh* “Carlito’s Way.”  Take a handful of Junior Mints, chew them up, but leave the chewin’s in your mouth, then pop in a handful of buttered popcorn.  YUM!  (Thanks, Herb!) 

I’m one of those people that the movie industry depends upon to survive.  I don’t much listen to movie critics.  I lost faith when some famous one, can’t remember who, gave Ferris Beuller a thumbs down.  Someone else didn’t like “Ghost,” which I can’t fathom.  My tastes are personal enough that I can’t go with the mainstream to decide what I’ll see.  Trailers are everything.  Ain’t It Cool News” and Joe and maybe the odd trailer or two usually give me enough to go on to make up my mind.  “O Brother Where Art Thou” was a really rare treat and I saw it three times, I think.  Joe steered me right on that one, that’s for sure.  

The biggest coup of the year has to be the video I just snagged from e-bay, “Honky Tonk Freeway.”  I’ve been looking for this gem, literally, for 16 years.  It is out of print and until I found e-bay, I gave up hope of ever finding it.  It’s not really all that., but I, personally, am crazy about it.  It’s a B movie starring William Devane, Jessica Tandy, Hume Cronyn, Beau Bridges, Beverly DeAngelo and a few million other people.  I love it and can’t wait to see it.  Unfortunately, the guy who sold it on e-bay only takes money orders, so I have to haul out to the post office (breaking my vow of only going to the Thrift Shop and the Grocery Store – grrrrr) and then mail it out to him, then wait for him to mail me the video, so I have to wait 2-3 weeks more.  L  So near and yet so far. 

See you at the movies!  May your day be as delicious as a handful of Junior Mints with a buttered popcorn chaser!



August 24, 2001  3:40pm

Hey Pals,

Live Journal is really giving big attitude lately, so I've moved off of it and back to the old format.  I'll miss your online comments, but be sure and write me with them!

Entry coming!



2001.08.20  19.29
Forty Looms

Grrrr. If it's the hormones, I can accept it, but I'm in a wicked bad mood today and a lot of things on the soaps hit me wrong. First, I had that commercial ringing in my head about how "they can fluctuate as early as your 30's" and "it might not be the kids wearing you out." It feels like everything is mocking me. Even now, when I lean back in my (resin garden cheap) desk chair and gaze at the light above me, I see the bulb wattage: 40 = A constant reminder that I will be 40 this year. Choices: replace it with a 25 watt bulb and go blind, replace it with a 60 and get even more depressed, go within and master the knowledge that a stupid lightbulb is NOT the sum of my value, nor are the 40 years that I have attached some kind of arbitrary cut off to for my successes. My birthday is just another day and I NEVER thought I'd be small enough to become depressed over something as petty as a number on the calendar.

As a result, I've been thinking a lot about death. My father died, flat out, cardiac arrest, exploding ventricle, at 51…11 years older than me, having accomplished little more than pissing off my mother for many years. I know I'm going to live into my 90's but still, that means I'm almost half way over AND my younger days (because I'm not officially middle aged and might as well get my colostomy belt, flowered dress and old woman shoes) are long slipped past. My youngest older child is leaving home, I think, anyway. Since January, I've been hearing that he's going to be gone in 2-3 weeks. Every time we get a time, it's 2-3 weeks. He's gone through all of the nonaquatic branches of the military and is now back with the Army, waiting for his package to be kissed by several chains of commands. How long will that take? (Sing it, children) 2-3 weeks. I cried when I knew he was leaving in January. My little boy, going out into the world. He doesn't have a drivers' license. He took the written test once and failed it and refused to go back again. He's never had a job. He's 19, if you're wondering. He's a good kid who had a bad 2-3 year stretch with drugs, alcohol and policemen and his having to pay for it four years later. Meanwhile, I've been in permanent, brace-yourself-he's-leaving-in-2-3-weeks grief mode for 8 months now. I can't get over letting him go because he won't go.

I had a weirdness when the older two left in the same month, Joe and David. Joe is now living in Canada with his wonderful wife, Sandra. I only get to see them maybe once a year, but we talk daily. David lives here in town and works at Radio Shack. I'm comfortable with them being on their own, but I miss Joe terribly. We are very alike in sense of humor and interests and I miss my friend. When they left, I had this funky time where my head figured my children were leaving the nest and started the croning process of turning inwards, being selfish and starting my own life, just like I always wanted to do when I croned. Unfortunately, due to my generational children, I still had children who were 6, 2 and newborn. Yikes! I had to force myself to focus back into mother mode and it was a wacky kind of postpartum depression where your body has to do what your head isn't getting. I felt like I was living two lives. Now, I can still feel myself often catching the phrase, "I'm just too old for this" running through my head when the boys are being challenging, which is most days. Dylan is a VERY well behaved child, but he's enthralled with all the things that Nathan can think of to do to feed his tactile and cause and effect needs, so he joins in. Dylan is 4 and Nathan is 2 in three weeks. They are a tag team that can't be beaten, especially by an old woman like myself. Nathan is really smart and really determined and Dyl just likes to have fun. Delena (8) is still consumed with the angst only female of that age can feel, couple with extreme laziness inherited from my side of the family and extreme willfulness inherited from the family of her sperm donor.

Poor Eric doesn't know what to do. He questions (privately, of course) why our kids are so "bad." He doesn't understand why raising children should have to be so hard. I don't think many 24-year-olds DO understand why raising children or LIFE should be so hard. It just is. I've gotten him the books, "Parenting Isn't for Sissies" and such. I don't think he read any at all. We don't have any friends, so he has no basis of comparison since he avoided kids at all cost before we married and he and his twin brother were the youngest in the family. My old woman frustrations and his young man frustrations do not a happy parenting team make sometimes. J

I don't regret my decision to have kids at an older age by any means. If I had known in advance that it would be this challenging, I would have changed nothing, except to have gone into it with a less glamorized view. I would not have planned to have written a great novel by 40 or own my own home or be independently wealthy by then. I would have taken better care of my body and not have gained so much weight. I would have listened more and talked less. I would have given greater consideration of my friends' feelings and less about ego, jealousy and some of the other fairly worthless emotions that are around. I would have spent less time doubting my gut feelings and more time standing up for me and the kids I already had. I would have controlled my temper a lot more. A LOT more. I would have stopped and smelled many, many more roses.

Enough of that. I didn't start this to turn into an Andy Roony post.

This is one of those journal entries that is simply a purge. There's an emptiness inside today that nothing seems to fill. I've had a run of bad luck and I'm feeling it. I've used my deepest resources of patience to try and keep the kids safe from my frustration today. Of course, they feel the disturbance in the force, but I've been able to stay fairly levelheaded with them. It's not their fault that their mom is old and tired and gray like a chewed up piece of gum. They deserve vibrancy, joy, and love and that's what they'll get. I'm here to feed them, not the other way around. As a sidebar, I've got to figure out what I need to fill that empty spot or even what has caused it? Josh leaving? Josh not leaving? Some weird deficiency of self-esteem or some self-love token that should be embraced? Is it a mid-life crisis? Do I have to become a remifeminist to live in this world without madness ensuing? God forbid. Maybe I just need more sleep or exercise than I'm getting. Maybe I need donuts. I'll find my groove and tap my chi and all will be well again. I have faith in that. No worries, friends…just let me vent. Meanwhile, I'm going to see if some rum will fill that empty spot. I hear liquids conform to almost any shape.

Stay coool.

2001.08.10  11.15
Personal Challenge #469875-2

Never let it be said that I refuse to even attempt a challenge. When Eric and I were driving away from his Gram's house almost two weeks ago, he commented, "I was really impressed that you didn't swear the whole time you were at Gram's."

Long silence.

"What?" I asked. (wanted to be sure I heard him correctly)

He repeated himself and I was a little stunned.

"Um, did you think I'd swear around your GRANDMOTHER, Eric?"

"Well, you do swear a lot." It's true. I do. And I'm very, very good at it. But I do have some couth and discretion.

"Well, yes, but not when I'm on the phone to my mother or talking to loan officers or in parent-teacher conferences or when I'm making funeral arrangements, what's WRONG with you?"

"It's just that this was for a long time. You were there for a week and you were flawless."

"Well, yeah. Like I said, I have some degree of class."

That was all of that conversation, but it dug at me for a week and then this past Sunday, I tentatively brought it up again. This time, it all came around to how he feels I swear too much and that the kids won't respect me (I very seldom swear around the kids and then only when I'm at the very, frayed, psychotic end of my rope) and that's it's very trailer trashy.

This coming from a man who uses the "F" word more than he uses the word "and." I stilled my natural response to be defensive and comparative and considered what he was saying. I also considered that he was having a serious Madonna-Mother complex issue. I found myself wondering if his mother had breastfed him and decided she most likely had not since he was a twin and it was 1976 when they were born and the world was not boob-friendly back then. I wondered if Thai chicken was really served in Thailand or if they made it up just to sell to the MSG addicts in the West. I tried to think of the name of the guy who was in Swordfish with John Travolta (Hugh Jackman - who I always want to call "Jack Hughman").

A little history on my swearing. I never, ever used to swear. I was a Bible-thumper up until age 16 and swearing was something I never really got around to doing. My first husband was a seasoned and colorful swearer. It was quite a change for me. My father had said the more mild swears, but nothing like the "k's" that Paul had in his vocabulary. Spending time with him, I slowly began to pick it up.

I'll never forget the first time I swore at my mother. It was an unfortunate time, actually and I'm not particularly proud of it. I don't go back to Kentucky much, as my pal CatCat and attest. I last went there in 1995 and prior to that, my most previous social visit had been in 1985. Before that it was in 1982, then in 1981, then in 1979. Those are all of my trips to Kentucky, place o' my birth and raisin', in the time since I left home in 1978. Except for one other time. In 1986, my dad died very unexpectedly. I got a call saying he had been admitted to the hospital for chest pains and was going to have a heart catheterization in a couple of days, then I got a call saying he'd died. He sat up in bed, said, "My chest hurts" and was dead before he hit the pillow when he fell back. Ka-pow, 51-year-old obese white male with wirey gray hair gets an obit and an autopsy.

I'm strange about funerals. I just *don't do them*. I've had husbands in the Air Force for 22 years, right up until last winter, excepting a few straggling, prefer-to-forget, struggling years here and there as a single parent. We were always far from home and poor. Not a good combination for funeral going. I don't appreciate the Western take on mourning and death in any way shape or form. I think it is sadistic to force people, who are in the heat of mourning, to have to stay at a funeral home, ten hours a day for at least two days straight, pressing hands and being civil and accepting sympathies from people who would not have given the deceased a glass of water if he was on fire this time last week. I hate that tons and tons of living flowers have to die to cover the metal box that houses the shell of flesh that someone you love used to drive around. The "viewing" is presumably so people can come by and see you dolled up one last time and DEAD. I have trouble with people seeing me when I'm SICK, much less when I'm DEAD. When I look at a dead person, the person I knew just isn't there. The flesh of the hands that used to cradle my face and carve doll beds for me, that proudly accepted his associates degree in business administration, worked on ANYthing electronic with the care and precision of a master watch maker, goosed my mom and made her grin, woke me up by slapping me across the face, put my hand in the hand of my future husband on our wedding day, held his first grandchild and refused to wear a wedding ring were now cold and hard and immobile. He was…gone. I went to my father's funeral because I didn't want people to talk about me like a dog for the next hundred years and because I knew my mother would be worthless at handling any of the arrangements.

I loved my father, don't get me wrong. It was a weird relationship, but I loved him. He was a tortured man and he was an artist of automobile paint. A Master Technician with General Motors for twenty years and a master at air brushing, auto detailing and body work that you would not believe. His wedding ring was not all he refused to wear. He also refused to wear a mask when he painted and twenty some years of lead based paint accumulating in your lungs will make you crazier than a (wait, I'll be back to talking about the swearing in a minute, so I guess my usual 'feces-domiciled rodent' remark is a little inappropriate right here) hatter. And well he was. Without going into it, a humble, loving, gentle man was quite a bit of hell to live with the last twenty years he was alive. Big lay-offs in the auto industry left him totally jobless at 45. He went to work as a night watchman for Green Coal Company during the strikes in 1976 (right about the time my husband was being born) and started making big money for the first time in his life. I remember his first check was $267 for a week's work. That was a virtual fortune to us. He was laid off from the coal company a year before he died and the week before his unemployment benefits ran out, he died. He was angry. He was bitter. He was scared and that, combined with the lead in his system, didn't do a friendly dance in a man.

The last time I spoke to him, he called as I was heading out the door, late for a coveted gyn appointment that I'd waited months to get. Paps were tough to get in military hospitals for a while there due to a provider shortage. "Gotta go, Dad. I'll talk to you later." I never got that chance. My mother told me that he died because I had literally broken his heart. Thanks, Ma.

I wasn't excited about going to the funeral, to say the least. I wanted to be with my husband during this time, but we couldn't afford my ticket, much less the whole family. We took out a loan from the Red Cross, which, while interest free, was still more than we could ever afford. Mom was destroyed. She'd really, really actively hated my dad for about the past 10 years they'd been together but divorce just isn't done in our family and now she says he'd threatened to kill her and my brothers if she left. I war between knowing that he really was nuts versus the fact that my mom has an enormous capacity for exaggeration and fabrication, so who really knows? To suddenly be free of this man through no effort on her own part was more than she could absorb and she was hysterical with grief and fear and guilt and a lot of other intense emotions. My dad left no will, no insurance and everything, absolutely everything was in his name. What a mess. His parents were still living and no humans should ever have to bury their own child, regardless of their age, so they were sequestered in their own grief. My brothers were teenagers and not able to be of much help, so I had to step in. When I got in from the airport and asked mom what arrangements had been made (he'd been dead for almost 2 days by the time I was able to get there), I got the response I expected. "None." I got my beloved uncle, patriarch of our family, to go to the funeral parlor with me (since this was his town, not mine any more, not to mention that I'd never done anything remotely like this) to guide me. Mom insisted on going. I begged her not to. Pleaded with her to just stay with Aunt Betty and drink some tea and let us handle it. "I married him, I'll damned well barry him." *sigh* So I drove mom to the funeral parlor in her car and Uncle Delmar met us there in his truck. It was a disaster. Mom wanted the most expensive coffin they had. I bagged a decent economy model that I think was in their section of "barely used." On our way back up in the elevator (the coffin store was in a heretofore unseen lower floor of the funeral parlor and I don't want to THINK about what was in the basement), my mom passed out and fell on me, all three hundred plus pounds of her. I weighed all of 125 dripping wet then and felt my bones snap like sticks. The funeral director (who looked like Chuck E. Cheese in a good suit) deftly whipped out some smelling salts on her and she was back in nothing flat (me being the nothing that was flat). We went up to his office to negotiate the details (which reminded me of buying a car and going into the dealer's office to be forced to pay more than you can afford). By using my other uncle's black Lincoln instead of a family limo, taking advantage of my dad's rights to a grave marker from the VA, losing a few hundred flower arrangements, cutting the viewing down to two days instead of three (good lord!) and such things, we were able to take a $4000 funeral and knock it back to about $1300. That got dad a decent lead in and well planted in the ground. Two long hours later, we left Chuck's office ("We'll only need half down now and you have a full ninety days to pay the rest!" = "Write the man a check, Mama." "But I don't have…" "(gritted teeth) Write. The. Man. A. Check. Mama.") and all I could think of was getting home and crying for about a week. I wanted my husband. I wanted my kids. I wanted to not be surrounded by death any more. I wanted my daddy (the real one from when I was little, not the nutjob he'd become later). I wanted a bath because I felt dirty. I wanted…something that wasn't this.

We got into the car and Uncle Delmar told us to call if we needed anything. We were getting onto the East 60 bypass to hit 231 to go home when mom, out of nowhere, spat, "Why aren't you crying?" I don't mean she asked like a concerned mom, she was vicious about it.

"What?" I asked. Confused didn't start to cover it.

"How come you're not crying. You just made arrangements to bury your daddy."

"Mama, I'll cry when I get home. When my husband can hold me and rub my hair and make me feel better, I'll be crying like a beast. Right now, there're things to be done and you aren't able to do them." I tried to be nice because I knew she was in a freaky place where no one should ever have to be.

That's when it happened. OH, of all the unfortunate things for her to say. "Well," she says, "I guess you just don't feel grief like me 'n' the boys do because you haven't lived here for so long. *sniff*"

That was it. I slammed on the brakes and fishtailed the car off to the nonexistent side of the road. I looked at her and thought of her life of constantly being in and out of the hospital. I thought of having to take over raising her family at the age of ten because she was never well enough to do it. I thought of her husband, the one we were burying, berating me like a dog because I'd been busy doing homework and had burned the bacon for his breakfast that I had to make before I went to school. I thought about how she would lie to my father about things I'd supposedly said or done to her during the day so that when he'd get home from the night watchman job at 2am, he'd be waking me up by 3am, whacking me in the face and asking me why I'd done X, Y or Z to my mother and not waiting for the answer (which was "huh?"). The fury was tangible.

"Get the f*%# out." I ordered her out of her own car. And she went. I don't know which event surprised me more: me saying it or her doing it. I think she saw somewhere in my eyes that I was serious. I barreled away, leaving my mom on the East 60 bypass. I, of course, took the exit that was thirty seconds down the road and got back on and picked her up again with a couple of minutes of driving away, but it's true. I swore at my mom and left her on the bypass, cars whizzing by.

After I picked her up, needless to say, we didn't speak. I dropped her off and got her safely inside. I told her I was taking the car for a while and she told me to be careful. I imagine that she went to the phone immediately to call all of her 8 sisters and tell them what I'd done and maybe even to call Jim Thorpe at the Sheriff's Office to tell him I'd stolen the car. The good news was that if she did, I knew Jim'd had the hots for me since middle school and I wouldn't get arrested. I drove to Ruby Tuesday's, a bar I had not seen before. Score! Behind the bar was another guy who'd gone to my school and always been really nice. The only thing I'd ever had to drink in my life was a grasshopper when I was 16 (the NCO club never checked my ID even though I looked 12) and a bottle of peppermint schnaaps that made me sick as a dog when I was 20. I didn't know what to order, but it would NOT be mint based. Randy at the bar (the bartender, not my emotional state) suggested something called a Long Island Iced Tea. I like iced tea, so I told him I'd take one and he told me it was two-for-one happy hour and set me up with two that were about 16 ounces each. I got totally lit, went home with Randy from the Bar and slept on his couch. (Nope, nothing like that, you guys) The next morning, Randy from the Bar took me to K-Mart to get some appropriate mourning clothes and back to Ruby's to pick up the car. I spruced up and went to the funeral home, right on time at 10am and Uncle Delmar already had mom there in full mourning status. Nothing was ever said to my face, although I'm surprised I didn't get the business from Uncle Delmar. He cut me a look, but that was it. I had called Paul (the Goat) and told him that mom and I had argued and I'd be staying with a friend that night. He didn't question it at all and, knowing what I know now, I imagine he was too busy feeling up the neighbors to much care.

The funeral went on the next day without incident. The local pastor did the eulogy and the nicest thing he could find to say about my dad was, "Guy Allen was an intense man…" My grandma was a mess. My grandpa was holding himself and her up well, but kept tearing and it made my heart break because he was such a wonderful, loyal, strong, good man and my grandma was such a hard person to be around. People kept pushing money into my hand when they'd shake and give their regrets. I reluctantly gave it to mom to cover the check she wrote. Before I knew it, I was back in Victorville and didn't do the crying I'd promised my mom until Father's Day (he died in May) when I automatically went to buy him a card (it was always a struggle to do so because none of the affectionate ones really were right for me) and realized that I'd never do that again. I fell apart in the Base Exchange and barely made it home where I cried for a couple of days. The man I had envisioned rubbing my hair and holding me while I grieved told me to get over it. That was just one of a million times that I thought he was something he wasn't.

So that is the story of the first time I swore in front of my mother.

Back to swearing. I LOVE words. I love all words. I love their sound, their texture, their varied usages. I hate when I have to categorize words as "good" or "bad" or treat one as though it is more powerful than another. Of course, I'm NOT referring to racial slurs and tacky ethnic words used to inflict discrimination upon people. That's a different story. To me, words are tools for conveyance of thought, emotion or a good story (I hope). To censor or limit myself in that expression feels like a sin. To use the word "duck" but not be able to use its brother just because it had the misfortune to be born with an "F" instead of a "D" seems absurd. To be able to say "bowel movement" but not the "S" word (which I feel is much cuter than "bowel movement"), seems strange to me. I don't like empowering one word over others. I can't imagine being so tight that you get all huffed up and rigid because "a" particular word was said that is not racially or otherwise discriminatory. I also am not particularly wrapped up (maybe you guessed this) in what other people think. I march to my own drummer and everyone else can have his or her own parade.

The thought of not including my word friends in my vocabulary was like the thought of no longer speaking English (and I have NO talent for foreign language beyond babyspeak).


As many of you know, I've been on this quest this year to lose the excess weight I've been dragging around for almost 10 years. While on that journey, I've done a lot of self-learning exploration and have opened some pretty heavy mental doors. One of the things that I have found is that it's not just my weight that is out of control. A LOT of my life is out of control. My house has never really been as clean as it should, for one thing. My laundry is never under control. My kids don't get as much gentle discipline as they should. I'm lazy in a lot of areas. My plan right now is, although not directly aggressive on diet and exercise, to get control of some of the areas of my life and micromanage them. If I can feel successful about obvious things in my life, like my house being clean, my laundry being done, then that feeling of confidence can spread over into other things, including the weight loss. I can have success osmosis. Therefore, I've been really working this week to keep the house nearly perfect. I have been primarily successful at this. At the same time, I decided that I would work very, very hard not to swear. It's not for anyone but me that I am trying this. It's an exercise of self-control and self-mastery. I may or may not stick to it, but I'm going to work hard at it for a month and see what happens. I have slipped an average of three times a day, which, as much as I routinely swear, isn't bad at all. I find myself becoming MUCH more thoughtful of what I'm saying because I have to stop and edit out the swear words before I speak. I find myself having to work to find other ways of expressing my emotions rather than with the force of swearing. I can feel gears that haven't turned in a while (swearing is just so…effective!) trying to squeak into motion, albeit reluctantly. I find myself much more aware of when someone else swears. It's as though it stands out in red letters in the conversation. I did not for a second think that censoring myself would have such and effect. It's…bizarre. It's a heady sense of power, control and self mastery.

It's not for Eric. It's not for the kids. It's not for society. It's for me to prove that I can. If I can't, f*&% it.

Mood: accomplished
Music: Shelton, Ricky Van - Life Turned Her That Way

2001.08.10  08.58
Rule 47: Know it, Live it, Eat it

Yesterday, for the first time in months, I went out to lunch with someone who was not my husband or someone I personally birthed. I have a friend who lives in my town, but I seldom see. She and I e-mail frequently to keep in touch, but even though she only lives a few streets away, we seldom see one another. I've known her for 11 years (we met in Victorville in the Dark Times) and we are both very dedicated to our families and it's a mutual understanding that neither of us has much time (or energy) to nurture anyone on an ongoing basis. Knowing how valuable our time is to each other, we tend to get together every 3-4 months, have a good time, then go back to e-mails. We seldom even phone, preferring the gentler, less intrusive cyber world where you don't have to talk over little voices that are louder than yours and you can answer at your leisure. The phone is reserved for immediate needs and rants that require volume beyond typing in all caps. At this point in my life, this is about the only kind of real life friendship my world can handle and I am grateful to have someone in my life who says, "Yeah. Me too. Let's go to Marie Callendars."

One thing that I love about this friend that she, I think, sees as a character flaw, is that she is all over the place with her attention span duration. I'm not saying that she can't focus on a sentence or anything. What I mean is that she finds something new that intrigues her, throws herself into it with the full force of Aries passion and then gets bored with it and moves on. She has said to me on a couple of occasions that she is frustrated that she never sees her projects through and doesn't stay with any one thing for very long. Personally, I think it's GREAT because that means that every time I see her, we are going to have something new that she can talk about with great enthusiasm AND it makes her a very multi-layered individual because she has done so many things that she can talk about almost anything with panache. I think it's really cool that she is treating life as this incredible salad bar with so many delicious things on it that you don't want to get a big heap of macaroni salad and plop back down in your booth. She samples a little of this and a little of that and some of this and oooh, what's that? The cool thing is that I get to ride along and experience it by proxy. When we have so little time together so infrequently, it would be a bore if all she ever did was write her book or read to old people or sell real estate. Then our conversations would be under threat of sounding like this:

Me: So, are you still reading to the old people?

Her: Yes, I just finished James Michener's Hawaii and was awed by his descriptions of how the land plates shifted from the heat of the earth's inner core as they built magnificent projectile earthbreasts from which hot lava spewed until Pele's ruffled feathers were smoothed by the sacrificing of several Neanderthal virgins. I also think Muriel's pacemaker is acting up because she was flushed during chapter 14.

Me: Alrighty, then.

This way, every time I meet her, there is a new *thing* to explore. Now she's doing the Frugal Moms thing ( and was telling me about her quest to save as much money as possible via shopping for specials at different groceries, buying in bulk, cooking ahead, etc. Although it's not my thing (I look at a coupon and think, you couldn't PAY me 25 cents to cut that thing out and lug it around for three months until it expires and I throw it away), I was totally fascinated by all the stuff she's doing to save money. I'm not saying my grocery bill couldn't use some help, laws no, but I'm just not there yet.

So that was interesting to learn about and right there, in the middle of our nice lunch and talking about cooking huge amounts of chicken, somewhere between the cheesy potato soup and the roasted turkey, I sensed a disturbance in the gynecological force and thought, "No, *that* is still a week away because I was WICKED late last month, scaring everyone to death." Well, scaring everyone but ME, that is. Even though I had my tubes tied a year and a half ago, people around me live in terror that I will procreate again. It's true that I have uncanny reproductive powers (One child was born the one time I had sex in two years' time, despite a condom AND a sponge - ah, remember sponges? - on the last day of my period. Another was born despite a condom and more jelly than in a Welch's factory), but I'm NOT going to spontaneously erupt into pregnancy with my fallopian tubes reduced down to little nubby nubs and the great sperm highway forever under construction. I figured it was more likely due to Nathan still nursing and my body dealing with fluctuating hormones as a result. I carried on with lunch and when I got home, immediately did the check and sure enough, Aunt Mennie had come to call and brought a couple of friends to play bridge, from the looks of it. It, fortunately, was not totally out of control and I'd worn dark clothes, so I was safe. It was as I was leaving the bathroom that it dawned on me that I could actually, for the first time in years, invoke Rule 47!!!

For those of you who don't know, Rule 47 is a little used right of womanhood that provides appropriate compensation for unruly menstrual activity. According to The Handbook of Woman, Article 12, Chapter 22, Line 47 (hence, the name):

Any woman who is subject to an unscheduled menstrual event that takes place in a public arena with no adequate feminine protection available will have all caloric intake, particularly that resulting from, but not limited to, high carbohydrate or high saturated fat foods nullified for a period not to exceed twenty-four hours from said menstrual event.

??!! Cool!! Rule 47 it is! So last night, when I went to bed at midnight, it was without visions of sugarplums dancing in my head, but with Dr Pepper, chocolate chip cookies, Crunch & Munch and red licorice dancing in my belly. I only have about five hours left before Rule 47 turns into a pumpkin and I'm left lying in a sugar coma, but in the meantime, I'm a Pepper.

Music: Little Shop of Horrors, "Feed Me"


2001.08.03  08.55
Katrina's Magical Mystery Tour

Click here to read about a crazy week in July


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