Tuesday, September 30, 2008

And Now For Something Completely Different

Hola Mes Amies!

I'm up to my armpits this week in gettng ready for the whirlwind 1400 mile trek up north this coming weekend. Remember? I'm going to see my aunt, who's sick? So I'm kind of distracted this week, plus trying to bake and cook and clean, both for the trip and for the boys and Bea (she's the best nanny ever!).

I've started three posts but haven't finished a single one, except for the one I wrote for Brian over at The Cheek of God. I'm really tickled he asked me to guest post, and as luck would have it, the theme he wanted was something I'd been brewing over recently as well. Because we're actually Siamese twins who were separated at the age of 15 months (god I love to just randomly make up shit!), but we still communicate by telepathy all the time.

So anyway...! I hope you go check out my post: Biggest Change Parenthood Done Wrought (two links - I'm shameless ya'll!) Ooh! He even put up the pretty picture of me (what a sweetie) and he had the chance to go with the Baroness Von Munchausen one. That's how you know Brian is a true gentleman! Go now, read and report.

Friday, September 26, 2008

We Was Rotten Kids, Part I

We lived in the country, when I was little, right next to an old farm. I don't think I ever met Farmer Angle (yes, that's really his name) though I'm sure I saw him from a distance on occasion. We were sandwiched between him and another cantankerous blue-hair, Miss Bisson, which, when you're a household of four kids, means we were often under a disapproving scrutiny, and subsequently, frequently in trouble. (Actually, we were into trouble far more than we actually got caught for, which is why, my sister and I are convinced, my mother is insane now.)

Farmer Angle had cattle in the field behind our yard and an electrified barbed wire fence to keep them in. You could tell it was electrified - there were small porcelain knobs at intervals all along it. My older brother was fascinated with that fence. Once he dared me to go up and touch the wire, assuring me that it probably wasn't even turned on. We approached it together, cracking jokes about how chicken the other was and grasped the wire.

Have you ever touched an electric fence? They don't usually pack much of a charge, but it's still a pretty bizarre sensation. I remember the jiggly, buzzy sensation of electricity coursing through me. It seemed like my whole body was frozen in place, channeling current. I tried to pull my fingers off the fence but the electric impulse was stronger than my will, and they were reluctant to obey me. Forcing my other hand to pry my fingers off of the fence I was finally released from that paralyzing current, and my brother did the same. My mother never caught us, and we went back and did it a few more times, just for the sake of that bizarre sensation.

When I think back upon those times I marvel that we all made it into adulthood. I marvel even more that my sister didn't catch us and turn us in - she was always the better parent. (Sorry Mom)

On another note...
I am one of the un-named today over at PapaTV's Fug Friday. This is the final edition of a truly inspired series of posts. If you haven't see this or read Brian Papa, go check him out.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Meet My Hamster (aka, The Long Downward Spiral And It's Wherefore)

Other than to tell you about his predilection for shrieking "Galaxy Quest" quotes, I've never really introduced my little hamster, have I?

How remiss of me!

As you may have surmised by now, yes I have a tiny little furry rodent who lives in my brain and keeps me up at night. More often than not, it's after I've had the evening cup of coffee, or pounded a Coke Icee at the movies, but even without Demon Caffeine to poke the hamster, he's a bit of a night owl. He's the one who has to hash and re-hash, over and over all those skeletons banging about in my mental closet, muttering commentary in my ear on things that cannot be changed.

It's really annoying, and usually, just a sign I need to stop drinking coffee at night, or (eek) deal with the real stress factors, because let's face it - my ruined love life in 5th grade really isn't the problem in the here and now - it's just a well worn groove of "Should-a Could-a Would-a"** that's easier to traverse than the actual crap keeping me up at night. I think, I worry - it's what I do.

But lately,I'm overwhelmed by a darkness that sends my little hamster into hiding. This darkness follows me, blocking my view of the ever-hopeful sun, wringing out my joy by the gut-twist-fuls. I know it's name, I know I have no power over it, and that, I think, is what pushes me to the edge.

Four states away my aunt is dying of esophageal cancer. A year after her surgery, the cancer is back, and there is very little that can be done for her, hovering at a near-skeletal 80 pounds. They can't do chemotherapy, because she's too weak, and she can't seem to gain weight or strength.

I wanted to go and see her while I was up in Pennsylvania this past June, not knowing just how bad off she was, but my father pooh-poohed the idea and we didn't go. Now I'm kicking myself for listening to Mr. Ambivalent, and wondering if I'll ever get to see her once more, if only to say goodbye. I'm afraid of being a selfish jerk, wanting to hover at her bedside just to net myself some closure. I wonder - do the dying really want us to come and cry at their bedside? Does that help them? It seems sort of gruesome, to mourn someone's death before they've even passed on. I'm not sure what consolation I can offer my cousins - life hasn't exactly handed them a fair deal (genetic bullshit with a name I can never remember, but it boils down to them all having ticking time bombs in their heads, and its a gift that keeps on giving, from one generation to the next.) and now they have to lose their mother, their rock? It isn't fair and there's no "moving in mysterious ways" that's going to make it any more reasonable.

To further complicate the scenario,the two families are not particularly close, the causes being schismatic differences in religion, lifestyle, geographic location, and let's not forget the ever present legacy of my grandmother - ambivalence. But I love my aunt, and I enjoy her company, whether we believe in the same dogma or not. I see pieces of myself in her, albeit arranged differently, and I will feel an emptiness in my life when she's not there anymore.

You can see why my hamster is in hiding, can't you?
I made a decision, after talking to my dearest husband and my beloved Bea, and making a few phone calls. I'm taking the trip to go see my aunt, to spend a little time with her, and my cousins. I need to have that chance as my sage friend Ms. Q so eloquently put it, to say, "You have made a difference in my life, and I love you'". To spend a little time together, so I can maybe let go a little more gracefully when I must.

And the hamster begins his laps again, on the squeaky, creaky wheel in my head...

** a Peter Case song - I love that NY boy!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I Blame The Cat

Oh my god, I am so tired - I can't think, I can't type. My brain is like bruised fruit - mushy, dented, and brown spotted. Coffee isn't working it's usual magic either; it's just giving my little mental hamster the shakes as he runs on his squeaky, creaky wheel, shrieking, "Never give up! Never surrender!" (My hamster is a big "Galaxy Quest" fan, in case you didn't know)

So why, you may ask, are you beyond fatigued, O She Who Tapdances through life? (Do you really talk that way, O Reader, my Reader? It's kind of freaky, but I like it!)

Well, it's not because I threw open my house for an impromptu dinner party on Saturday, in honor of Cleo. I cleaned like a mad woman all day, cooked a fabulous huge meal, and then threw down like the aforementioned lunatic as well. No, no, that can't be the cause. There weren't any Party Fouls to stress over - my brothers both managed to not set anything on fire, and I completely missed Bea lying on the kitchen floor for a brief respite, so I was all zen, in a skunked kind of way.

It certainly has nothing to do with me staying up too late, every damn night, in spite of the school regimen being in full swing. I have a mission and that mission is to kick Scrabble Maven's advanced ass so far down she can't ever get back up.

No, no, I blame the cat. Jezebel. The cat who sits outside my bedroom door every night, meowing piteously every quarter hour, like a Regulator clock, only with cat noises. I try to coax her to come in and get settled, I'll give you the pillow honey; but she's got a bad case of Perpetual Wrong Side Of The Door Syndrome, so either she comes in and out all night, with me getting up to escort her, or she has to sit outside and cry. Jezebel is otherwise my favorite cat, but she's killing my deep REM sleep single-pawedly (single cattedly?), every quarter hour of my night.

Yeah, that's it - it's the cat! It's ALL her fault!

In Case You Missed It-
To hear all about the dinner party and how Bea ended up on the kitchen floor, go read Trapped Under Something Heavy - right now!!!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Bitter Reflux (aka Bad Poetry)

She had hair that flew
when the top was down,
and reflected the light in her eyes-
built for fun, built for love,
she was ripe with the promise of life.

He was an artist,
a dreamer, (a prick)
a selfish myopic, eyes fixed on himself-
he used the word love like bait.

The chemistry of that time is gone,
only strands of memory drift down-
they loved - she lost
both him and their child,
and the meaning of things in her heart.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Anniversary of a Nightmare

I'm sure none of us need reminding that today is the 7th anniversary of the demise of the World Trade towers. Even from the distance of seven years later looking back makes my stomach hurt. It still makes me angry, makes me cry, sends me into a fresh wave of mourning. The horror of that day is etched so clearly on my mind, as I'm sure it is for you as well. I stood in front of the television, forgetful of my young children playing nearby, and watched, paralyzed in disbelief as that second plane really and truly flew into the towers, and the whole thing started to collapse. I cried helplessly, and impotently for the poor desperate people who jumped to their deaths, and the shattered remnants of families that were so abruptly left behind. I felt guilty relief in the knowledge that my loved ones were all safe, and abject terror at the thought of how quickly that illusion of safety can dissipate.

There is no happy ending to this tragedy, no sense or wisdom I can call upon. Only memories that have no resting place, that should never be laid to rest.

"For it is the doom of men that they forget."
-Merlin, "Excalibur"

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Ain't No Sunshine

"You junk punch him in his man business, then when he's writhing on the floor, crying "Why?", you point your finger at him and say, "YOU know why!"
- What Happens in Vegas

I don't know what that quote has to do with anything I'm going to write, but ever since Ms. Q brought that movie over we've been saying it. It just makes me smile, and I need all the smiles I can muster right now.

The Professor is home sick this week - the usual fever/sore throat/runny nose crud found in the ever incubating petri dish that is public school. Yay.

I have a genealogical consult on Thursday, that I've put off finishing the charts for, because the data for this one family branch went on for a week and a half in a tee-einy font. Turns out it looked that long because some of the same data was plugged into more than one spot, making one guy both 7th and 8th generation; uncle to himself. I spent my morning yesterday researching everybody in those two generations, in between nursing my pasty, hacking, snot machine of a child. Because that just enhances my ability to focus, see?

Can you tell I'm cranky? Yeah, maybe just a teensy bit. It wouldn't have anything to do with going to two grocery stores, buying just the basics and having 70.00 left for the next two weeks. The cost of eating real food is ridiculous anymore, and doesn't leave me any cushion for the necessary Runaway Mama Sushi Night Fund. That's bad people: mothers who don't get a break are far more likely to have their heads explode, causing trauma to their children and pain to their spouses (see above quote).

Brother can you spare some sushi?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

I feel like I'm in limbo this week.

We're settling into our school routine, and life is pretty smooth, more or less, but all the same, I'm distracted.

This is the time of year when the folks in the Southeast get a little edgy about the weather. Some years it gains us nothing to be watchful, other than a surplus of batteries, ice and charcoal. Other years, like the year Hurricane Fran came through(1996), or Floyd (1999) we were complacent, and didn't prepare, so when the storms came through we were caught with our pants down and the paddling for not having our ducks lined up was ugly. Nothing like having no power and nothing to eat in the house for almost 6 days to make you take it seriously, right?

I like to think that if we make all the preparations nothing will happen. That the hurricanes are somehow sentient beings who prefer to wreak their havoc on the unsuspecting, so if we are ready and watchful, they'll pass us by.

It's what I like to think, because it beats the hell out of remembering and focusing on the absolute terror of hearing that non-stop howling wind; of the continual rattle and pound of god-knows-what falling on your roof; the worry that the flooding will be too great and the yard will crumble into the creek, taking part of the house with it; of insurance companies who take their time or refuse to compensate. Of trying to get on with your life when even putting dinner on the table or washing clothes are major hurdles.

And yet, we are prepared, as much as we can be, and all there is to do is wait. Wait and see.

In the words of Inigo Montoya, from "The Princess Bride" - "I hate waiting."

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


I did a double take on Friday, when I looked at the first picture of me I posted, and got this idea.
Okay, so who's the reincarnation of Anne Boleyn NOW?

I'm just saying, it's a little uncanny, and unlike other Anne Boleyns, I don't have an Irish brogue! (All right - I admit - I paraphrased that last bit from Mel Brooks' "Robin Hood, Men in Tights". What can I say - I love that man!)

Does anyone else think they resemble a celebrity? I'm suddenly reminded of a post theme Bea and I discussed recently...
Any thoughts, Bea?

Photograph of Anne Boleyn, by Hans Holbein. Provided by tudorhistory.org/boleyn/