Tuesday, December 25, 2012

White Fury

     Winter blows through Amarillo this morning, and she is one furious bitch. Visibility is a fantasy. I barely make out the forms of my two oldest sons trekking their way home from the corner store. (Can you believe they are old enough to buy cigarettes?)

     They burst through the entry, bringing along an icy gust that whips through my tiny house like a poltergeist and scares the heat right out the door.

     David asks me if I've stashed any scarves or stocking hats under the tree. I have to remind him that this is still Texas, and the weather will be warmer tomorrow.

     I turn away to check the bacon and to hide my smirk. I only feel a little guilty that I did buy them winter gear, but we won't open gifts until the grandkids get here.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


He'd always gotten on my nerves a little bit. He would flirt, but I'd never been interested in him. He was far too old for me, far too loud, and somewhat vulgar.  I put up with him only because he was a part of the weekly noise. He'd pass through on Saturdays, fill the tortillas, yuk it up with the guys, and then leave as quickly as he came.

He'd tried to give me a friendly hug before the holidays. He reached for me with a big smile on his face, as if I should be so tickled for the attention. I stepped away and half-laughed, "Have you met me? I do not HUG!" That was only sort of funny, because I had known the man for maybe fifteen or sixteen years. I had never given him any indication that he should ever need to hug me.

Everybody was looking, and he's Mr. Funny, so he laughed it off as a joke, and I honestly thought that was the end of it. I had seen the little glimmer of disappointment in his eyes, but I never thought he'd come back a week later and try it again.

Here's the thing: if a girl uses the F-word and tells you plainly to keep your EFFing hands off her, you should probably start taking her seriously right away. You probably shouldn't keep trying, hoping that she'll change her mind mid-sentence. You should definitely not come back for more when she's got her back turned to you. It is not funny or cute or even within acceptable social parameters to force a full body hug on a girl who has just told you a few minutes ago to fuck off and die.

The way I see it, he's lucky he's still got his teeth.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

100 Words: Hunger

When Netherton reads to the class, he uses a melodic voice with just a little bit of a hum to it. I read silently  along,  but about halfway through, my mind succumbs to his lullaby and the words on the page swirl together into a chaotic whirlpool of letters and punctuation.

Class begins at seven pm, just fifteen minutes after US History ends. Supper is an unrealistic fantasy on school nights.

That is why you will often find me with my face pressed to the glass of the vending machine, begging a Snickers bar to magically leap into my clutches.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Good News

You may be relieved (or possibly amused) to know that I took a quiz, and it turns out that I am not actually a misanthrope. I'm simply anti-social.

Stop laughing. It's true.

I don't hate the planet or every person on it. I am open to the idea of making new friends. I give anonymously, and there is no need to glorify me. (Sometimes people just need a helping hand. It's cool.) I understand the concept of "spreading positivity", and I am fine with it! I even like it when random people smile at me for no reason. I'm not suspicious of them when they do.

Of course if one of my bosses is smiling at me, then I might be suspicious. I might pretend I didn't see him at all, no matter how hard he tries to make eye contact. I'm sure to look just beyond him, at something behind him, or perhaps right over his head. After all, when it's a boss that wants to spread positivity my direction, you can bet your ass there's somethin' up with that.

Same thing goes for the children. You can't trust the little monsters. They always want something.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Dream: Disappointments

We'd been searching through the piles of corn for a while, the older lady and I. The children who'd gathered in the warehouse with us were complaining of hunger. The corn, of course, had begun to rot long ago, but we held out hope for a few good cobs to make some kind of meal for the little ones. Their cries were nearly unbearable. They were drowned out only by the whistling missiles that flew overhead. Our eyes were drawn upward to the windows with every bright explosion.

To keep the children busy, we tasked them with husking the cobs. They worked diligently, but I shooed them away when the older lady began to smack them for eating the rotted pieces. I know she was only trying to keep them healthy, but she was so damned cruel about it. She didn't have to call them names. They were just hungry. They didn't know any better.

I turned back to her just in time to see the tiny black spiders explode from just beneath her corn's husk. She crumpled her face and dropped it back into the pile. I reached for it, thinking I could seal it up somehow to prevent the spiders from biting us. Who knew if they were poisonous or not? When my fingers touched the silky strands just under the yellowed husks, the entire cob disintegrated. Thousands of tiny black spiders jumped toward me, opening their hungry mouths before landing on my face and my chest.

I jumped backward, into wakefulness and began to wipe the frightening things away. A few seconds went by before I understood that it had only been a dream, but that didn't keep me from turning toward my lover to smack the spiders away from him.

A few moments went by before I realized that he had only been a dream too.

Snippets of This Week

Customer at the seafood counter (to Pam the Seafood Queen): "Are you being nice today?"

Pam, insistently: "Me? I'm always nice."

Customer, with a wink and a sly grin: "Well, if you ever want to be naughty, you just let me know."

(You go, girl.)


Me to Brenda, my advisor at AC: "I'm bored. I think I could handle one or two more classes next semester."

Brenda: "Bored? Hmmm. Well, we can't have that. Let's get you just as stressed out as the rest of us around here." (Hands me a list of FIVE recommended classes! gulp)


Melina, after I tell her my opinion about the nationwide epidemic of women exploring promiscuity and throwing all inhibitions to the wind: "Oh yeah, I agree with ....whatever the fuck you just said."


Bad Joke of the Week (told by a man):

What do you tell a woman with two black eyes?

Nothin' you ain't already told her twice.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ketchup on Crackers

The page view count on my other blog reads 666 right now. This is not so scary to the religion-intolerant portion of my brain, but it's raising some eyebrows in the baptist-born corner. Considering that is the blog in which I air all my demons, well...

In other news, my college education is coming along just fine. All my dreams are taking place in the middle of the bloody American Revolution, and my participles are dangling where everybody can see them, but I'm well on my way to being a member of educated society. (Okay, okay, I'm only six credits in, but it's a start, dammit!)

I CLEP-ed out of College Algebra altogether. Now I can pretend that math doesn't exist. That alone was cause for a major celebration, so I took my daughter out to eat. I paid. That's the way of things around here. I didn't buy her a margarita, despite the fact that she's officially of a legal drinking age. I could tell you I wouldn't buy her any alcohol on principle, but the reality is, I was too cheap to shell out the four bucks. I'm just a poor college kid, after all.

The kids have moved out and then back in and then out and then in again. At this point in time, I have three and a half in the house, one tag-a-long and one and a half out of the house. Don't try to make sense of that. It's likely to change by the time I'm finished writing this post. They have eaten everything in the house that is edible and moved on to licking the things that smell edible. However, I've been informed that just because a Scentsy Bar smells like a orange push pop doesn't mean it tastes like an orange push pop.

Some people have to learn things the hard way.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

From the Heart

Eleven years ago, I sat in my living room beside my (then) boyfriend Jeremy glued to my bubble screen TV wondering what was going to happen to our country next. There was no Facebook; there was no text-messaging; there was no Skype. I had to pick up the phone to call my loved ones to hear their voices and sigh with relief that they were okay.

I wanted to run to the school and gather my children close to me.

I wanted my mom.

Even though the tragedy of that day didn't affect me directly, it definitely affected me. Nobody in my family died. None of my friends died. We each woke up the next day and went on with our forever-changed lives, and we considered ourselves lucky for it.

I am truly thankful to be alive and safe today with all of my children within arm's reach.

Thank you Jeffery, Jodie, Destiny, Randy, Jeremy, Brian A, Brian N, Uncle Kelton, Dad, GrandDad, Shanna, Jason, Clint, Eduardo, Brandon W and all those who have stood up to protect our rights, our freedoms, and our lives.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

It's Crazy How Sane I Am

A thin wall of plywood separates the neighbor's garage from mine.  It gives the illusion of privacy, but the truth is, I know when they decide to occupy that space on the other side of the wall. I can hear everything that goes on over there as long as I am standing in my own garage.

I'm not normally a nosey neighbor, but I am privy to those times Yessica  has gotten frustrated with Little Max and Sweet Ana. The children will be banished to the garage for an afternoon where they'll spend their time playing pirates and searching for treasure.

The music of the occasional midnight soiree drifts over to my side, sometimes low and melodic, sometimes booming. Sometimes I'm a forgiving neighbor. Sometimes, not.

I know when Jorge sneaks away from the family for a quick joint. The sickly scent of marijuana cannot be contained to one unit. It permeates my world as well as theirs. Once, I became so frustrated with the assault, I stood in my own garage and boldly announced to the unseen offender that I was allergic to marijuana (which is true). Some scuffling and a muted "Oh shit," could be heard, but I've never again had to suffer second-hand "euphoria."

I am fully aware that my neighbors will always be "in" on whatever I decide to do out there. The truth is, I don't do much more than park the car or search for a screwdriver, but that is beside the point.  I've never had any expectation of privacy in my garage. That is part of life when you have condemned yourself to live in a duplex like me.

This morning, I moseyed into the garage and immediately halted at the sound of soft cries. At first, I thought one of my kids was out there. My heart jumped a little at the idea of one of my little ones being hurt and alone in the corner of a cold, smelly, dark garage. But, silly me, my children aren't small. They are grown, and completely capable of finding their way to the door or screaming for help.

It was Yessica, the neighbor. The mom.

She was having a good old-fashioned cry over there. I recognized it for what it was, because I've done it myself. All women do it. It is as necessary to us as breathing. We need to get a little crazy to preserve our sanity. Men don't understand it, but women get it. I've never had my cry in the garage of course, but maybe this was Yessica's only option for retreat.

I don't know if she'd heard me come into my garage, but she didn't give any indication of it. I wanted to back up and gently close the door, but I was frozen to the spot. I felt like an intruder into what was obviously a private moment. Her soft cries quickly turned to heavy sobs.

My heart went out to her. Should I say something? Should I ask her if something was wrong? Should I call to her to let her know that everything was going to be okay? Would that even be true? Should I at least be decent enough to make a ruckus so she would know I was there?

I was stuck in a moment that was both awkward and heart-breaking. If I reached out to her, would that make me a good neighbor, or a bad one?

Jorge startled me into movement. I heard his booming voice call out to his wife. "Yessica! Where'd you go?"

A few moments passed before she answered. I imagine she needed to compose herself before returning to her loud, demanding husband, who would probably never understand the need for a good old-fashioned cry.

Friday, August 17, 2012

100 Words: I'm the Mom, Not the Maid

I'll move to someplace where it rains at least twice a week and relatives aren't allowed, specifically, offspring. I'll take the computer, the books and my nice comfy bed.

I'll probably take the coffee maker as well.

I'll eat out every night so I won't need to wash the dishes and I'll wear jammies all the time.

Nobody here notices what I do until I neglect to do it. Things pile up and get gross.

Then they point fingers at each other proclaiming, "He didn't clean it!" or "She didn't lift a finger!"

I think that's pretty obvious, don't you?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Also Known As

You may not realize this (especially if you work for Pier 1 Imports), but Nessa Roo is not my real name. Well, the "Nessa" part is real, but the "Roo" part is simply a musical note you sing at the end.

I found this mailer in my mail box today.

I have no idea how Pier 1 matched this imaginary name to my actual address, but there you have it.

You know what this means, don't you?

(I have an alias.)

Thursday, July 5, 2012


A quick note before you get into the meat of this post: I do love my job, and I do love the bright smiling faces I see on a daily or weekly basis. This particular week has been a little hectic. I needed to vent.

It didn't occur to me that I ought to celebrate the Fourth of July yesterday. The only thoughts I had on the matter were that I should celebrate that it was finally over. There'll be a short rest for me as far as holidays go. Then Labor Day will roll around and we'll all be back to grunting and grumbling.

I work in a meat market in a big, busy supermarket, you know. It seems that every holiday is a meat holiday. It's not like working in a flower shop, where the biggest, bestest holidays are Valentine's Day and Mother's day. Nope. Texans seem to need a slab of meat with every meal, and when a special occasion rolls around, meat makes up most of the menu:  prime ribs for Christmas, turkey for Thanksgiving, hams for Easter, so on and so forth.

We are a busy bunch of meat mongers. We roll in at six in the morning, start tossing briskets and hamburger. We cut, we grind we slice, we saw and we chop. We wrap and weigh and throw it in the counter just to watch it disappear within a few minutes. I've been stepped on, shoved aside, poked, grabbed and yelled at by some of the neediest, most demanding customers, and they have the audacity to snub their noses at me because I somehow failed to live up to their expectations by not having thirty pounds of cube steaks ready and waiting on the shelf for them.  As if I could even get to the shelf, as crowded as it is. I have to slink and sneak between people just to stock things. Lots of times, I don't make it to the counter. Shoppers often take what I've got straight from my arms. Sometimes I have to get a little pushy. I'm a real live person you know. I have my limits. (I'm such a bitch. I should be fired, really.)


Back to the point. I don't celebrate the holidays like other people do. By the time it's time to relax in the park with live music and an ice-cold beer, I just can't stand the sight of people. Not even the ones I actually like. I just want go home, lock the door, sink into a nice hot bubble-bath and enjoy the freedom and the solitude.

That's what I was doing last night when I heard the fireworks start. That's when I finally remembered it was a day of celebration, and that I probably ought to take a moment to respect it. I toweled off just in time to step outside and see most of the Grande Finale. I'm not sure which park it was, but I could see it from my house if I climbed up on the patio fence and stretched my neck. My neighborhood was eerily quiet. The pops and bangs of the pyrotechnics echoed against empty, dark houses.

A Lifestar Helicopter flew over, headed toward the hospitals, which are near my house, whoop, whoop, whoop. I wonder what the fireworks looked like from up there. Had the demonstration been as uneventful to the pilot as it had been for me? Was he more concerned about making it through the workday, or was he missing his friends and family, who were surely celebrating without him?

It occurred to me then that none of my friends or family had bothered to pick up the phone and invite me to celebrate with them. Likewise, I hadn't bothered to ask any of them to join me. I was too exhausted from working all week toward the one goal of making it through without stabbing anybody.

Barely made it.

I punched Domingo three times in the shoulder for being a disrespectful asshole, and I told Pablo to go to Hell, but other than that, the meat-heads remained relatively unharmed. I can't say as much for the customers.

My Fourth of July did not go out with a bang. I was in bed by eleven, alone and completely sober. I cherished every moment. Wouldn't have had it any other way. I will, however, be celebrating my 39th birthday next week, even if I have to bake my own cake. (My mouth has been watering for some Black Forest, just in case you were wondering what kind of cake you...er, I should be making.)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

100 Words: Summer

We should have had Thanksgiving on a day like this, when I am thankful to be living in this tiny house with central air conditioning. I heard it roar to life at five this morning.
Initially, I thought it was hailing. In my dreary state, I imagined the tap, tap of hailstones against my bedroom window. Excited at the prospect of rain, I sat up and moved my curtain aside. I could feel the heat through the double-pane window. I growled into the darkness. The tapping sound was only the click click of the chain on my ceiling fan. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Nightmare: Power Outage

I was supposed to be working or studying, or something else equally mundane and demanding, but I had been distracted by the power outage. My computer was still glowing on battery back-up, but the room had settled into an uncomfortable, dark silence. I realized then that I had no idea how long it had been that way. I had been so immersed in my studies, I hadn't bothered to acknowledge the world around me. I grabbed my giant, silver flashlight and headed toward the front of the building.

The regular noises were gone. The fans overhead had stopped their roars; bones did not screech against the power of the saw blade; knives did not thunk against the chopping block with each slice of meaty flesh. The silence had grown so loud, the only noise I could hear was the trickle of blood pooling from the cutting board onto the slippery floor.

My co-workers had disappeared. They weren't prowling around, using their cellphones as flashlights as they had done before. Nobody cheered for the break in labor. It seemed that I'd been abandoned, but that extra sense I sometimes get told me the others were simply hiding. From what, I had no idea.
I was determined to find them. Why wouldn't they have warned me of the impending doom? Did nobody think I was important enough to save?

I flicked my light into corners and crevices, searching for familiar faces, but none were found. I moved through the building alone. It had changed since I had sat down at the desk. The sales floor was gone, replaced by more work tables, more machines, more storage shelves. The customers had disappeared as well, I suppose because there was nothing set up on display for them to buy.

I was in the bakery when I heard the first murmurs from the women. I followed the sounds past the big mixers, around the walk-in ovens, beyond the freezer. All things here were covered with a thin coat of flour. My fingers reached out to the baker's block and etched the algebra problem I'd been working on before. Find f(g(-3)) if f(x)=4x-9 and g(x)=3x^2. It looked simple enough, but it might as well have been written in Chinese, because the numbers and letters were just swirling together in one big doughy mess. I grunted and smeared the problem away with a swipe of my hand. It was silly to be standing there working out math problems when I should have been looking for the others.

I found them in a bigger storage room I had never known was there. All the women from all the departments had gathered here. I saw Deadra from Bakery holding hands with Angie the POS clerk. Linda from Fuel was halfway hidden by Dominique from Deli. Janet from the Hot Bar sat in a chair in the center of the room, glaring at me. Each of them cringed away from my beam of light like scared children, except for Janet.

Sweet Janet with the long blond braid and the big smile was hissing at me. She reached forward and knocked the torch from my grasp. My light bounced and rolled into a corner, where it flickered and died. I felt the hot sting of a flesh wound on the back of my hand. I pressed it into my shirt and blinked into the darkness.

We were now shrouded, not just by the darkness, but by a heavy, frightening presence that we could not see. I felt it move past me, an invisible, slippery creature that preys on fear. And it had us. We were frightened. I must have screamed or made some kind of demand for explanation because Janet swung her claw at me again, this time across the face. She told me to shut up, and I was getting pissed at her. When the lights came back on, I was going to kick her ass!

I dropped to the cold concrete floor and began to feel around for the flashlight. The creature, which I couldn't have seen even in the light, ripped me away from myself. It had my body pressed up against the wall, about to tear me to bits, but my spirit remained on the floor looking up. Now that I was no longer confined to the physical laws, I could see the hollow, ugly thing shredding me to pieces, and I knew that the same fate awaited the other women there. I was powerless to stop it. I wondered briefly what had happened to all the men?

I searched the faces of the women, and all I could see was fear and hopelessness. I felt the pain of heartache, although I had no heart. It was then I decided I didn't like being dead. I pulled my body back around me, pushed my fear away and told myself to ...

wake up...

Friday, June 8, 2012

Nine Days In

Even thought today is the ninth day of my twelve day vacation, I have not been able to relax at all until just this morning. It hasn't been a wonderful vacation, despite all my plans to jump in my new car and go see some sights, drink some drinks and soak up some Santa Fe air. Those things never got done.

You see, my new used car, a little "reliable" Ford Focus burned the alternator out on Saturday as I was on my way to pick up my little grandson. I was cruising right along when the radio turned off, the dashboard went blank and the car just stopped going altogether. Thank goodness I was on Plains, and not on Interstate 40!

That's when I started making all kinds of phone calls and realized I have no real friends. Nobody would answer their damned phones at 6:oo on a sunny Saturday despite the fact that I have dragged my happy ass out of bed at 3 in the morning to come to their rescues even when police were involved! Several times.

I had to wait til Monday morning to call the car lot and let them know about it. They were excellent to me, and took my car in for repairs, but I didn't get it back until Wednesday. In the meantime, I had to ride the city bus just to get to the college. I have never ever ridden the city bus before, and hopefully, this will be my one and only experience in those rattling death-traps. Not only did this take a full three hours out of my day, I also had to leave school early just to catch the Route 5 bus at 4:30 in order to transfer to the last Route 8 bus downtown and get back home just a little after 6:00 in the evening. And then I was trapped there until the next morning when the next bus rolled around at 7:30.

I could have walked, I know. It takes an hour and fifteen minutes to walk, and I know that from personal experience. But the weather has been mighty wet and unpredictable all week. I didn't want to risk being swept away by a ferocious tornado. Although, after a couple of hours on the Bus of Terror, I realize, the tornado might have been the lesser threat.

Anyway, I did get my car back on Wednesday right after I completed all my requirements in the Math Lab I was taking, so Wednesday turned out to be a pretty great day for me. (Er, that said MATH lab. Not meth lab...geesh!)

Today, I got a good idea for a new story. I have been writing that all morning, and I may or may not post it here after it's all polished and shiny. It may turn into something I might want to save for a publisher. We'll have to wait and see. I don't actually know any publishers , so right now, you guys are in the running to read it first.

I got so involved writing that I burned my egg rolls and filled the house with a smoky cabbage stench, so I think I'll venture out for lunch.

With three days of vacation left, I may decide to mosey over to New Mexico after all.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

This is not an Art Blog

This is what I did today. I was going to read the book I got in the mail , but something happened  that upset me, so I decided to do something a little more therapeutic. It didn't turn out exactly how I expected, but I suppose I'll keep it even so.

She's called "Fade."
She's four feet tall, just one foot shorter than me.
I'd like to hang her up in my room, but every time I look at her, she makes me so sad, I just want to cry!
I know you can't see them on this crappy pic, but there are faded angry faces in the blue aura. Actually, you can't really see them even when you're standing right in front of the painting, so that was kind of a FAIL.

Maybe after I read my book, I'll get around to doing some actual writing.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Dream: Come See Me

My mother's call left me worried. "Come see me," she'd pleaded. "I miss you." I scribbled down the new address and checked the map. She was fourteen hours away.

Funny, how we do that- measure trips in hours instead of distance, as if we plan to drive straight through, dismissing the sights. 

That's how my father always did it. The shortest distance between two points, and all that nonsense. He was pissed with me when I was twelve years old. I'd pointed out to him that, factoring in the curvature of the earth and the fact that road builders rarely construct straight paths between cities, the shortest distance between two points might actually be an arc. 

He told me to shutthehellup and let him do the driving. 

Maybe that's why my mother divorced him. 

Or maybe not. She told me once that she was tired of playing Caroline to his Charles. I was astonished that she could ever say such a thing, but it rang true. My father had always pictured himself building a cabin, praising God and living off the land. 

My mom, on the other hand, was more of a Hot Lips Houlihand. I never saw her any other way.

She's been calling out to  me for several nights in a row. Sometimes she's still with my father. Sometimes it's my Poppy or James. Sometimes it's a new man altogether. Never mind that she passed away four and a half years ago. That issue never seems to come up when I see her in my dreams. 

I wonder what she's up to that she should need to call out to me so often. It doesn't matter. I can never reach her. There's always a flood or a fire or maybe the roads wear away into impassable rivers of mud and sludge. I get bogged down in the muck. No matter what vehicle I take, car, boat, bicycle, Radio Flyer, I can't seem to remember until I wake up that I know how to fly...

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Moving Forward

I've managed to avoid the Spring Cleaning Bug by enrolling in classes at the local community college. I figured I would be able to say I'm so busy with my full-time job and night school, I couldn't possibly clean out the garage or the pantry any time this year.

Also, the moth/spider invasion is at its peak, so I'm terrified of the crevices and/or what's lurking in them. I've already killed three wolf spiders and countless moths. If you are from here, you know what I'm talking about. If you are not from here, please don't tell me about your local infestations. It gives me nightmares. (I'm serious, Robbie. Nightmares!)

I'm almost in the clear. Summer is just around the corner, which means it will be far too late to do any useful purging. Spring Cleaning is, by definition, a spring activity, right? I'm willing to wait for it to roll around again before making any concrete decisions about the fate of the old bunk beds and toy boxes I've got stacked out there. Sara's and Lyric's crap is in the way anyhow, so yep. Spring Cleaning 2012 is definitely a bust.

On the excellent side, I'm finally going for that degree in English I've been wanting for so long. There's lots of reading and writing in my future, folks. The opportunities are endless...

Crap. Did that sound a little too upbeat and (gulp) optimistic? There's quite a bit of that running through my veins lately. Before you know it, I'll be planting flowers and smiling at the neighbors...

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Lucky Me

We are all at a stand-still here on Bell Street. I don't know why I always take this route. I should have taken Western. Bell is always the worst. I often wonder if there's some sort of accident up ahead. Perhaps I've chosen the path directly behind the carnage, and now we are being slowly and clumsily bottle-necked into one slow moving lane.

But that is rarely the case. There is simply too much traffic this time of day. I usually avoid the rush. I go to work at six or seven, not nine. The professional world is still in bed, trying to find the strength to face another day at the office, but I am already hard at work, organizing, packaging, filling counters, checking numbers and yelling at big burly boys with big sharp knives. I have to paint a fake smile on my face and greet those cantankerous customers as if I had invited them myself, but it's cool. They pay me, you know.

Not today. Today I am stuck in traffic with the sun-seeking world, trying to creep my way across town to my regular mechanic. My motor mounts need replacing, and I've been putting it off far too long.
I could tell you about the hell I went through last month with a mechanic who was not my regular guy, but it's really only of interest to me. To you, it would just sound like bitching.

That financial stress on top of my daughter and grandson moving to another state, Matthew being on the runaway list for weeks, Jacob and David jumping individually from one place to the next to the next, the situation at work...other things...

I'm stuck in traffic now. My fingers are wrapped firmly around the steering wheel at TEN &TWO. I am not rubbernecking to see what the problem is. I am not revving my engine to ready myself to change lanes at the first opening. I am simply sitting and waiting for things to move forward.

She's over there in her car with her elegant hand hanging out the driver's side window barely holding onto the cigarette between her perfectly manicured fingers. Her long hair has been pulled into a messy tail. It is bobbing back and forth to the music she hears. She is singing along with all abandon. I can almost read her perfectly painted lips.

Curiosity gets the best of me. I lower my passenger window just enough to identify the song. Taylor Swift. Of course.

For a moment, I wish I was her. I want to be that carefree girl who sings love songs in traffic during the morning rush. I wish I could turn it on, turn it up and croon it out with no regard for the cranky, stressed-out woman in the next car who doesn't particularly favor Taylor Swift.

The movement of my window grabs her attention. She catches me staring. Her face twists into a scowl. She changes immediately into what I can only decribe as a Harpy. She flicks her lit cigarette toward my car and flips me the bird.

I nonchalantly push the power window button. The glass returns to its original position, protecting me from her assault and her bad attitude. I look anywhere but her direction and smile to myself.

How lucky I am not to be anything like her.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Foolish Anniversaries

I went to my job interview with torn jeans, ratty hair and baby sludge on my shirt. It really couldn't be helped. I'd been inadvertently locked out of the women's shelter and couldn't get a shower in time for the meeting. I was so embarrassed, I almost didn't show up.

Angie didn't want to hire me. I could tell by the look in her eyes. I looked like hell, and I was unsure of my availability. She frowned at my outfit, and clucked her tongue at my application.

I had been sent to her through a friend of a friend to beg for a job. She'd been coerced to give me the interview. She'd made no promises about employment.

I wouldn't have hired me.

I was a mess, emotionally as well as aesthetically.

I lied through my teeth when I told her I had a reliable baby-sitter for the four babies I'd left at my mom's for a half hour just so I could make it to the interview.

She offered me a wage that she knew was far less than what I was worth and evening hours. I tried not to let it bother me that much. I was determined to provide for myself, and I needed a job that had room for growth. I took what I could get and was grateful for it.

She'd hired me as a part-timer, but within two weeks she bumped me up to forty a week. Two months went by before she switched me to daytime hours. A year passed before I started receiving benefits.

Fifteen years have gone by. Angie no longer works for the company, but I still do. I'm in the "big city" now, and as chance would have it, Angie is here, too. I see her every once in a while. We never reminisce. We are both "here and now" girls, and so it is always good to see her here, now.

I have a hard time understanding how I haven't been written up, reprimanded, fired, or set on fire, not even once, over fifteen years. I am sure some of my co-workers, and maybe a couple of bosses have wanted to stab me at some point. I am loud, rude, bossy, demanding, opinionated...the list goes on.

Of course, I am also a fast learner, good teacher, a good listener, a hard worker, dependable to a fault. I am intelligent, creative and proud. I've enjoyed the company of most of my co-workers as well as my bosses- some more than others. It's never been about the job, for me. It's always been about the people I work with. The job is thankless. The people are priceless.

If they haven't been friends, they've at least been entertaining. Faces and names come and go and come back again, each one bringing something new into my wonderful, ordinary life. Kim gave me confidence; Jay taught me tolerance; Ashley brought me friendship; Sandy gave us toilet paper; Johnny just liked to give me a hard time. That's his way. I've been frustrated more often than not, but that fades away as soon as I punch that time clock. There's no sense in being miserable if I'm not getting paid for it. Life is too short.

I thought I'd work for a year until something better came along, but here I am looking back on fifteen years....

I've been a checker, deli girl, cook, doughnut maker, cake decorator, bread baker. I've worked in the meat market for ten years now, bossing boys around, but I'm not the boss. I've never been a manager, and never wanted to be anything that meant I'd have to sit at a desk for very long or bullshit with anybody wearing a tie. Of all the addictions that run in my family, I got stuck being a workaholic. Go figure.

I'm still waiting for Angie to call me up and say, "April Fools! You didn't get the job after all!" But she never has, and here I am fifteen years later with Medical, Dental and 401k.

The nicest thing about hitting the fifteen year mark is that I now get four weeks every year of paid vacation. When I get back from vacation, people hug me. I'm not sure if this is because they missed me or because they are tired of doing my job in my absence. Either way, more vacations means more hugs. Can't beat that.

I also get to pick an anniversary gift from a special catalogue. I chose a new MP3 player this time around. The old one had just fizzled out. Pretty good timing, if you ask me.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

100 Words: The Boy Who Ate Everything

Listen here, Kid. In two hours you have inhaled one tube of Spongebob Go-gurt, three slices of bacon, two tomato basil cheese sticks, fourteen red grapes and a fruit cup.

You are two.

There is no possible way you could be as hungry as you claim to be.  Stop clutching your belly and howling in that dramatic fashion.

We have fed you. You are full. You need to slow it down, mister, or you are going to have a major tummy ache when you go to bed tonight.

Besides, your mother said she'd murder me if I give you chocolate.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Dream: Treasure

We ran into the trees, eyes forward, as fast as we could carry ourselves. We couldn't hold on to one another for fear it would slow our progress, but I listened for his heavy breathing and his footfalls to be sure he didn't fall too far behind. I listened also for those who chased us to be sure we were getting some distance between us.

Eventually, the angry shouts gave way to the eerie silence of the forest. We slowed ourselves until we were almost tiptoe-ing across the forest floor. The full, bright moon hovered low in the sky, playing sentry to our little scene. Perhaps it was recording facts and memorizing names. Who knows to what higher authority it reports. The Sun, maybe? They meet twice a day at dawn and dusk to compare notes. I wonder what they have to say about us.

We hid from the moon under the thick canopy of trees. Random moonbeams shot down between branches and formed puddles of light against the detritus. Those were the spots we avoided, just in case. We kept to the shadows, slinking between tree trunks until the clouds rolled overhead. A flash of bright lightning was overpowered by the grumbling thunder. The rapid tattoo of raindrops  on the treetops filled our minds like buzzing bees. I covered one ear and pressed the other against his warm chest until all I could hear was his heartbeat.

"What's that?"  he asked, nodding toward the thick dead leaves covering the ground. Something was there, out of place, winking up at us. I brushed the leaves away, dug into the soil and came back with a handful of coins and dollar bills.

"Nothing," I whispered as I let it fall back to the ground. "Only money."

He wiped the residual dirt from my hand, kissed my palm, and held me close. We began to move once again, this time holding on to one another.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

One Table Over: Dentist Office

     My grandson Lyric is an amicable kid for a two-year-old. We can take him into most public places and still be welcomed back when we leave. He doesn't play "musical chairs" like some of the other children at the dentist office. He claims a spot and dares anyone else to try to sit there.

     He tries to share the communal crayons by dumping the bucket in the center of the bright red octagonal table. The other moms tsk tsk him. Older children help him clear the mess.

     Some of the other kids have coloring papers with Dr. Suess characters on them. I have no idea where they got them, so I tear out a few sheets of notebook paper for Lyric. Then, I feel obligated to share with little forlorn Josie in the next chair who also has no paper. Her face brightens when I hand her two crisp sheets. She chooses a stubby yellow crayon and gets to work.

     Baby Adrian is circling the table, slipping between chairs and reaching over the edge toward the crayon bucket. The tip of his tongue peeks out of the corner of his mouth. Just when he nearly...just about...almost touches the bucket, somebody moves it away. This happens a couple of times, and while it is amusing me, it is frustrating Adrian. The other children are unaware of his artistic desires. He toddles away to tattle to his mother. She is in deep conversation with one of the other moms. His one-year-old tongue cannot form the words he wants her to hear. She scoops him up and plants a kiss on his fat cheek. He deems this an acceptable alternative to the art table. He pokes a thumb in his mouth and cuddles against her. He watches the other children drawing on their papers, but to me, it seems he is plotting their individual downfalls.

     My grandson has created a masterpiece of accidental triangles and circles and deliberate squiggles. He holds it up for us to see. We give it a thumbs up.

     He is left-handed, just like me. One of the older children tries to get him to draw with his right hand. He gets mad and growls at her, just like me.

     Eventually, he is called into one of those unseen rooms to be poked and prodded by all manner of torture devices. I smile and wave at him as my daughter hauls him away. He does not go quietly.

     I'm left in the noisy waiting room with the table full of papers and crayons and Josie and Baby Adrian.

     I take out my notebook and begin to write.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

BOOSH! and whoomvoom

My dreams lately are filled with images and noises that cannot be described with words. The craziness of them is far too unreal for ordinary perception. My daughter was there dancing like this, but she was my sister. My ex-boyfriend was waiting for me at the hospital/bed store while an old friend of mine was in surgery. Not his friend; my friend, so I don't understand why he was taking time out of his busy life. Oh wait...groupies...
For these dreams I need visual aids and sound effects.
Adrien Brody was inlove with me and willing to fight a triclops for my honor. They were over here and then BOOSH...everything exploded and the the triclops's third eye started to do a weird wandering thing, moving across his forehead like this...whoomvoom...
We all lived in a see-through tube. Layer by layer, stacked up by our status of importance to the world. I was somewhere in the middle, nowhere near the foundation I craved and definitely out of reach of my father's gods. Yet also on display for anybody who cared to bring themselves to my level.
At times, you were naked.
And so was I.

See what I mean? There are no words.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

I have to go to work again tomorrow.

I spoil myself to those delicious liquid coffee creamers International Delight makes nowadays. At any given point in time, you can find amaretto, vanilla caramel, white chocolate raspberry (my favorite) or hazelnut lining my refrigerator door.
Except for this given point in time.
No creamer to be found anywhere in the fridge.
What's a girl to do?
I can't go to the store. The store is outside where we keep the wind, and the West Texas wind is a fierce bitch today. Just thinking about the dust swirling around is causing my eyes to itch, my nose to twitch and my sinuses to swell.
There's a noticeable shortage of teenagers to boss around these days, so nobody is here to take my money, or car keys, or orders. I curse myself for not remembering to grocery shop before I left work today. You'd think I'd remember what with all the groceries we sell there.
Milk? gone with the mini-wheats.
Evaporated milk? used it to make Christmas fudge.
Cool Whip? Have I ever had Cool Whip for more than an hour?
After desperately rummaging around in the cabinets for a few minutes, I emerge triumphant with a small container of powdered coffee creamer I must have bought in some other life. I don't know why I kept it, but I'm happy I did, because I was seriously thinking about risking certain death-by-allergy and running to the grocery store. It's not a special flavor, like mocha fudge praline swirl. It's just plain ol' non-dairy coffee creamer, but I sort of feel like I've won the lottery.

Spoon 1 teaspoon into cup of prepared coffee, tea or cocoa. Add more for larger cup or mug, to taste. No need to add sugar.

No need to add sugar?


So...who has a cup of sugar I can borrow?

Friday, February 17, 2012

It's Not Murder If They Really Deserve It

My first rule of migraine pain is "Do not kill anybody until your migraine is completely gone and you've had a chance to re-evaluate your original desire to kill."

The reason that I've had to establish this as the first and most important rule to remember is that while I am in the throes of agony, I often make a list of all the people and animals who seem to be making it their life purpose to cause my head to explode. These people, obviously, must die. It is the surest and quickest way to stop them from doing the horrible things they are doing.

In reality, however, they are not actually trying to make me miserable. Many of them are probably not aware that I exist at all. They have no idea that I've shut myself away in the dark cave of my room with blackout curtains on the windows. They don't realize that I had to use the princess sleep mask just for good measure because the red glow of the alarm clock is slicing through my eyelids with its stabbing blades of digital light. They don't know that I've unplugged every electrical appliance in the house because the constant hum of electricity is pulsing through my skull like angry wasps.

The Fed Ex truck that drives down the street just a little too fast, roaring like a lion and then slamming on its squealing brakes when it reaches the house across the street? It's not driving into my living room, crashing through my bedroom wall and parking on my pillow.

The dog next door, fifteen or twenty feet away from my bedroom window, is not clamping its massive jaws into the tasty gray matter of my brain. It's only slowly crunching its dog food.

The eight-year-old girl who sings to herself as she walks past my house on the sidewalk is not practicing my death chant. She's just singing. And skipping. And breathing in and out.

I have to remind myself that it's okay for these people and animals to do these mundane, everyday activities. I forgive them their intrusion into my agony. They are simply living their lives. It is unfair of me to expect the world to stop spinning and for everybody to start tiptoe-ing around me just because I have a headache.

But that guy in the low-rider who cruises through here at three miles an hour blasting his car stereo with the bass turned so high that my windows vibrate? He dies tonight.

Just as soon as this Excedrin kicks in.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Holy Crap! Is that the TIME?

I'm surprised to learn that it's already Friday afternoon. I have been elbow deep in mosaic world for a couple of days, so the passage of time has gone unnoticed. I forgot to pick Matt up from school.

The same thing happens when I'm writing a really great story.

It's not finished yet, but it's in the final stages It's an end table. I'm feeling very proud of it. It's my very first mosaic, and I think I've done a pretty good job.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

100 Words: Wayward Son

He strolls right through the front door every Friday without knocking, though he's never lived here.  He'll spend his time eating our food, flipping through our channels and catching up on juicy family gossip. He might even remember to ask about his nephews.
I'll pretend it doesn't bother me that he dyed his beautiful blond curls a patchy, weak black. I'll let the other kids razz him for it. Next time we see him, it'll be back to normal.
When he's had all he can take of us, he'll rise, stretch, and say those three little words...

"I need money."

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Brain Should Rest

I moved into this small rental place last October. You probably already knew that, but let's pretend you're new here, just for giggles. (For those of you who didn't give up profanity as your New Year's Resolution, you can say Shits n Giggles.)
Several boxes have gone unpacked for those months, mainly craft crap.
I wish I had taken a "before" pic, but in hindsight all things...yadda yadda yadda...
The other place had built-in storage. This place, not so much. I spontaneously bought these stack-able closet organizers at Target and put them together for my brand new "Craft Like a Rock Star" craft center. Then I had to custom make the boxes to put into the cubbies, because those cubbies are actually supposed to hold shoes, not craft supplies, and you can't buy storage containers that size anywhere. I looked on Pinterest, hoping to find an amazing way to quickly produce the damn (shucks, I mean darn) things, but nothing I found was quite right for my project. I busted out the old T-square and some decorative paper left over from my artsy fartsy purse-making days, and conjured up some amazing boxes.
So I took some pictures. Don't ask me how to make these. This is not a craft blog.

Look, I even color-coordinated a couple of them!

But that's not what I wanted to show you. 
This is.

It's an old print of mine I bought at a yard sale many, many years ago. 
The artist simply signed Madeline. It was printed in 1976.
I want to find out more about it. Does anybody else recognize it? 
I searched the web over and through. No luck.

Friday, January 13, 2012

I'll Give it to You Good

My biggest New Year Resolution this year is to give more without giving more money. Actually, I'd like it to be that I don't give any money, but they take those United Way and We Care donations right out of my check, so that's a bust. So, it's settled that I simply won't give any more money than that.
No five dollar bills for the homeless guy on the corner.
No spare change for the Fireman's Boot.
No fishing for quarters for the Salvation Army bucket.
My Dimes will not be Marching anywhere.
I'll feel like a jerk as I pass these folks by, but that's the way it's got to be.
I'm not made of money after all.
I'm a single mom with a small paycheck and big rent!

Instead, I'll give the things that don't cost me a cent to give away.

I've already started.

I gave Destiny my old refrigerator that still works great. She had to come get it herself, though, because I only have a car. No truck. My dog became very aggressive and bit her. She ended up with a huge bruise and hasn't been back to my house, but hey, she got a free fridge, so it's all good.

One thing leads to another in this life. My dog became more and more aggressive, started fights with the neighborhood dogs, chased the mailman, lunged for my two-year-old grandson. Other horrible things happened, and so I made the very very hard decision to have her put down.

I bawled and bawled and bawled. I've made some very hard decisions in my life, and this one is pretty high up on the list. I hope you never have to do it.

But, because of that, I had a bunch of leftover dog food, which I was able to donate to Pam from Seafood who is on medical leave from work. Her short-term disability hasn't kicked in yet, so she was running low on funds. Dog food. One less thing she'll have to worry about for a little while.

Her dog was excited to see me. She was a happy, playful little pooch. Nothing like my dog, which made me realize that my decision wasn't necessarily an evil, self-centered thing. There was actually something seriously wrong with my dog.

Another thing I'm giving away is clothing. I did that thing that they say you should do. I tossed all the clothes I haven't worn in over a year, packed 'em up, and they are waiting patiently to be hauled to the thrift store. My closet is so empty.

Other things that don't cost me money to give?
Hey, I'm even willing to give you a hard time, if that's your thing.
I'm generous like that.

Unique to me?
I suppose I could give more paintings away.
I could edit something you wrote.
I could write more stories.

Speaking of that, I wonder where I left Mia and Neely.
I should probably give them a good ending.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Spontaneity. It's a Problem.

I was having writer's block this morning, so I decided it was time for me to take a shower, deodorize, fix my hair and go out into the "real world" where people can view one another in the flesh. They can either smile and wave at one another, or they can scowl and pretend to ignore one another, depending on their moods. I tend to smile most of the time, as long as I'm nowhere near my job.

Going to the park or the zoo is not really a option for me. I have horrible outdoor allergies. I would have to take a heavy dose of allergy meds either before or after my adventures in the sun, which, let's face it, is not a cure for writer's block at all. I have to find a nice place indoors to roam.

The only problem around here, is that there's really no interesting place to go that I haven't been to a million times before, so I ended up at Walmart with the rest of society's rejects. The only thing I can say for myself is that I didn't wear my jammies and slippers. Other than that one small difference, I appeared to roam aimlessly around the store just like all the other mindless zombies I saw there, filling my cart full of things I probably could have lived without.

I remembered I needed to pick up some putty I saw on TV to repair the leak in the rain gutter that causes rain and melted snow to pour directly onto anyone attempting to knock on my front door. (No, I didn't intend for it to do that. I think the house might be adjusting to my personality and shunning all humanity on my behalf.)

The putty was $3.97. The allergen-blocking heater filter was $8.88. The acai-berry-detox pills were $9.97. The avocado/oatmeal face mask was $1.27. The LED key chain flashlight was $4.97.

Need I go on?

Thank goodness, I stopped myself before I made it to the electronics. I might have ended up with a brand new forty-two inch flat-screen TV and a PS3.

The next time I have writer's block, I believe I'll turn off my computer and curl up with a good book. It's free and I won't have to smile at anybody.

I might even wear my jammies.