Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Back to the Front

Three days of crutches were three days more than I ever wanted to experience, so I tossed them to the side and limped around with an exoskeleton around my right leg for a month. Now that it's gone, I kinda want it back.

Regular shoes seem inadequate.

I'm still wobbly and weak.

The sadists down at Physical Therapy get to have a go at it now, but in the meantime, I'm confined to desk work.

The problem here is that I like the desk job more than my real job.

A lot more.

I like being behind the scenes, out of view, out of the way..and out of mind.

I'm a little bummed that I'll be fully mobile again, and I'll be slung back into the pit, fully visible, fully functional...and within reach.

No exoskeleton anywhere in sight.


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Dream: 1981 (that is to say, I had this dream in 1981)

That old vanity where she always put on her makeup and curled her hair had a mirror big enough for the two of us.
It looked like rock-n-roll and royalty. It smelled like cigarettes and seventeen.
I liked to watch her in the reflection: her perfect eyes, her luscious red lips, her confidence. She blended and highlighted and brushed like an expert.
She'd been the only girl.
After having three rowdy boys by natural means, my grandmother decided not to take any chances. She adopted a girl.
And so, my aunt garnered quite a bit of attention from the rest of the family, including me.
She was the center of the world. She listened to the loudest music, had the wildest friends, knew the sexiest dance moves. She was living the life, and I wanted to live the life, too, so it didn't phase her to have me always at her side, soaking up some of the awesome she exuded.
The vanity, that's where it happened.
That's where I became suddenly aware of the other presence in the mirror.
A small child with big, blue, adoring eyes and soft, blond curls stared back at me.
A beautiful girl with a crack running across her face--a big, black crack from ear to ear.
The Me in the chair looked at the Me in the mirror, wondering--what could it mean to have such a crack straight across like that? What damage could it cause? How should this be handled?
The Me in the mirror had no qualms. She reached up with both hands, lifted the upper half of the head and revealed the brain within.
No worries.
The crack sealed itself up once the deed was done, and the Me in the mirror placed a finger on her lips and smiled back at the Me in the chair.
The Center of the World never even noticed

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Soup's On

I'm trying to write this story in the living room, and it's difficult.

I've made my demands for the television to be off. I've let people know that I intend to sit here and get some substantial creativity flowing onto these virtual pages. I've got the lap top atop the lap, yet...nobody's taking me seriously.

Nobody's allowing me to have the peace and quiet I need to focus on the character development. Nobody's skedaddling into other areas so I can concentrate. Nobody's shutting up.

It's like...they think I need to be part of their "intellectual" argument simply because I am within proximity of the ongoing conversation. They're so lively about the things they're saying to each other, and every once in a while, they expect me to chime in with my take on the story, which has nothing to do with the story going on in my head. Nothing to do with me at all.

We oughtta just bust out a deck of cards and a six-pack.

Because I am not getting anything accomplished in this environment

And its been going on for a few weeks.

And it needs to stop.

Because I need to write this story.


Sunday, August 3, 2014

100 Words: Stank

What is that smell?

It's like a dirty skunk and a musk ox fell in love and gave birth to a wet dog.

Seriously, it reeks.

It's worse than Matthew's socks, and if you've ever been within ten feet of Matthew's socks, you'd be handing me the flame thrower to ensure proper eradication of the offensive items.

I'll have to shut my bedroom door to keep from retching. Or maybe...maybe I'll shut her bedroom door instead.

It is my house after all. She's just a temporary freeloader moocher guest.

(I can't wait to have my house to myself again.)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

100 Words: Plop, Chatter, Hiss

     There's enough drizzle to set a gloomy mood, but not enough to scare away the workers at the apartments down the street. They've got edgers and weed-eaters and mowers out mighty early today. The roar vibrates across the wet asphalt, strikes the wooden fence, bounces against my house, whips into my living room.

     I'm disappointed. I like to open the door, listen to the trickle of water run across my roof, gather in the rain gutter, and plop onto the patio. I like to listen to birds gossip across powerlines. I like to hear the hiss as precipitation hits pavement.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

I'll Give You an Arm, and Maybe a Leg

I'm up. I can't tell yet whether it's far too early or far too late for an old lady like me to be out of bed.

I'm eating Fritos and Coke instead of saltines and Gatorade in the ebb of a migraine hangover. That's all we had in the pantry. There were two empty boxes, but not a cracker to be found. I blame this on the two teenage boys who moved back home a couple of months ago. The headache and the foodlessness.

Second migraine incident of the year, and this one was a doozy. During the worst of it--that hour when my brain turned to molten lava while angry spirits tried to bore out my eyes with an invisible jackhammer-- I dreamt up a thousand ways to end my own life. Also, I dreamt up a thousand ways to end the lives of all those people in the area who were doing all the noisy things that magnified in my brain a hundredfold. Lucky for them, I was incapacitated.

Seriously, though, I often tell folks I'd rather give up my left arm than ever have another migraine. And that's saying quite a bit since I'm left-handed.

I'm sure once I'm dead, the doctors will be able to look back at my headache diary and surmise that it was the migraines that killed me. They'll cluck their tongues and shake their heads at my funeral wondering why I didn't go see them sooner. I was, after all, much too young to die.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

I'm Out of Kahlua, But I've Still got Vodka.

Right now, I feel a little jazzy.
I wish I lived in the old neighborhood.
That place where we could light up the grill at 10 pm
and get the whole neighborhood in on the party.
I wish somebody would offer me a toke (even though I'm allergic).
I wish we could turn it up and 
let it loose and
invite the cops.
I wish it was Margarita Monday
with a bit of Sassy Saturday mixed in
for your listening pleasure.
I wish I could take a clumsy spin around the patio
with old Green Eyes
who secretly loves me.
But he's just too cool to say it.
 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Look at these while I bask in Gloriousness.



Just a little bragging: I managed to complete my Associates with Highest Honors in the top 1% of my class. Not too shabby...

Friday, April 25, 2014

I Asked for This (or Something Like This).

I left my comfort zone.

Yes, again.

It's terrifying really, to step outside my cozy world into something about which I know absolutely nothing. I don't like change. My body and my mind are creatures of habit. I like knowing what to expect. I like knowing how to handle all the things that come my way. I like being in control.

It's even more terrifying when I make a plan, but, since I have no holding in this new, slippery world, I get pulled off course and get snagged on a crevice I hadn't expected to find and rub elbows with folks I hadn't expected to befriend.

They...the native villagers...the ones who've been here longer...they feel more comfortable with each other. They know each other's idiosyncrasies and each other's habits; they have private jokes. They buy each other sentimental little gifts and have cute little nicknames for each other. They know when to leave each other alone and when to give hugs. They're family.

I'm just one of the distant cousins. We share the bloodline of the company, but I'm that relative who got lost in the woods as a child and had to be raised by wolves. I'm socially awkward, so things come out wrong, or maybe I don't catch on to the tone of the conversation right away. Oh sure, I can fix my hair and iron my shirt. I can strut around with my big red badge that says, "Hey, I belong here. See? It says so right here on my Official Red Badge of Belonging." 

But I still can't help but to cringe when one of the underlings asks for a "real manager." It's hard to smile and remind them that I do not stand on the shoulders of my new-found giant family. I've got my own two legs, shaky as they may be.

Oh...and, of course, I've got my red badge of courage.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Free Twenty

This is my free time today. I came upon it quite suddenly, and without prior knowledge of its existence.
What shall I do with this new-found, delightful spread of time? I can't quite start any new projects in a mere twenty minutes, nothing of consequence, anyway. I can't cook a proper meal in twenty minutes. I can't even run to the drive-thru and scarf down a hamburger in twenty minutes.
All of my respectable friends are at work right now, so it would probably be rude to call for a chat. The rest of my friends? Probably still in bed, the slackers.
I suppose I could put away the laundry, but it would be a hasty job, no real commitment to ironing the things which truly need ironing.
If I start that new book I bought, I'll be sorely disappointed that I won't be able to finish it in one setting.
British Literature calls, and today we're watching a scandalous film, Byron. I wouldn't want to miss out on watching the boys squirm during Lord Byron's love affair with his sister. (gross.)
After that, it's on to Spanish, where we're learning the difference between por and para. That will probably take about twenty minutes.
I recently polished up my short story about the banshee and submitted it to the college magazine. Who knows if they'll publish it. It's a little racy, and I sent it to the most critical professor on staff. I figure if it makes it past her, I might stand a chance out there in the real world. We'll see.
I didn't win for my short story. I plan to submit it elsewhere, though, so I can't publish it here at all. Rest assured, if it does win, or manages to get published anywhere, I will definitely be bragging about it here, and I'll post a link for anybody who's curious or crazy enough to want to read it.
This is the week of exams for me. I had four exams out of five classes. My mind is a little scattered now that it's all over. I still need to focus though, so I can learn all my new jobs at work. Turns out, I have to learn no less than four new positions before I can settle in as a bookkeeper. I've got one done. Three to go..ugh.
Oh, look, that's the end of my free time.
Lord Byron, I'm on the way...

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Does this transition make me look pretty?

Yesterday was the last day of my incarceration in the cutting room, with the big, knife-wielding boys and their caveman attitudes about everything, including women. I can't say after eleven years of bossing the boys around that I'll miss it at all. There's been enough blade-slinging in my life. Enough name-calling. Enough ass-grabbing.

I'll miss Alyssa. I feel awful leaving her back there on her own. Everybody needs a wingman. She was mine. I was hers. I'll miss Jesse for a little while, but I suspect he'll seek me out when he gets too lonely. Of course, he always seems to find a buddy where ever he looks. He'll be alright without me.

I can't say I'm heart-broken to be leaving the man-cave, even if it is only to the front part of the store. Bookkeeping, they told me, but they've got me scheduled to check. Maybe there was some miscommunication. They told me before that I make too much money to check. I completely agree. Bookkeeping seems more like my kind of thing. Who knows what's going on. It'll straighten itself out soon enough.

I'm shrugging the shoulder and thinking it's whatever.

Everybody says there's so much drama at the front of the store, but there's drama everywhere, and I'm all grown now, so bring it on. We're gonna work that shit out.

The best part is, I'll get to be pretty and look like a girl. I went and got my nails done today to celebrate the transition. I almost went for the mani-pedi, but opted for the eyebrow-waxing instead. It was time...

Spring Break begins tomorrow afternoon, but I have those kinds of teachers who like to take that opportunity to give a lengthy assignment, in case of boredom. Bless their little hearts.

I'm taking the day-long tour of the university tomorrow in Canyon. I'm so lucky to be living here, where the college and the university are so accessible. I thought about moving to Canyon, to save gas, but then I remembered it's a dry county, so...no.

Besides, the kiddos and the grand-kiddos would miss me too much. I like to think I'm pretty much their favorite person.

I'm going to miss Mr. Green Eyes. I think I'll miss him most of all.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Snow. Meh.


My little Ford Focus coasted very well across the snow-covered, idiot-packed streets today. I'm happy to be alive.
When I was about about half-way to the college, my phone chimed its little chime. I'm such a rebel, I checked it while driving, despite the new law against it.  Dr. Ferguson had emailed us and let us know that he wasn't going to hold our absences against us, but if we showed up, we could go ahead and write our response papers as planned.
I was already half-way there, see, so I just kept chugging.
He left before class was over and let his assistant collect our papers.
That was the mood of the day.

I've been snapping pictures over the course of the week. I like to play around with the filters on the photo editor, make 'em all artsy fartsy. Sometimes, I get some winners.

I wonder, how did birds stay warm before electric lines?







Saturday, February 1, 2014

Fun Fact: The Elbow is an Awesome Weapon

There I was at Walmart again.

I truly hate shopping at Walmart, especially on a Friday, but by the time I decided to get out and get my shopping done, it was eleven o'clock at night, and Target was closed. I needed hem-tape and ink pens, so...Walmart, yippee.

So I went to Walmart on a chilly night, when there doesn't seem to be any kind of strict observation of bedtime. For once, I thought I might try to get a parking spot close to the door, so I started to drive right in front of the store, where the flock of shoppers pour from the doors and make thru-traffic practically impossible. I don't know what I was thinking.

I was commiserating my mistake, when the guy in the car two cars ahead of me abruptly stopped his car and jumped out.

What the HELL? Was he about to run into the store with his car parked right in the middle of the driving lane while the rest of us were trapped there by the stampede of pedestrians and the lack of a tow truck?

But no. He did not go toward the store. Instead, he ran toward a little girl, about five years old, who had lagged behind her family as they made their way toward their car.

He scooped her up!

Right there in front of me, I was witnessing a kidnapping, folks! I jumped out of my car, not really knowing what I would do. The woman in the car directly in front of me was also ready for action. She popped out of her car, and we were about to save that little family from the most frightening thing I could ever imagine.

The adrenaline was pumping through me so quickly, but time seemed to slow right down, to a dull swoosh. I imagine myself making use of all those self-defense lessons I'd taken back when I left the kids' dad. I sized the guy up as I moved forward.

In my mind, I was sweeping the leg, jabbing the eyes, pulling the hair, using the elbow...

The squealing laughter is what stopped me.

The little girl...she was laughing, and when the family turned around saw the perpetrator trying to steal their little girl, they too, began to squeal with laughter and happiness.

They'd found their grandpa.

Or, rather, Grandpa had found them.

It really was quite touching. They hugged and laughed and held a genuine reunion right there in the middle of the Walmart parking lot.

I returned calmly to my car. The woman in front of me, my would-be co-hero, gave me a nod and a smile as she returned to her car. We connected in that moment. Should we ever find ourselves in a situation like that again, we'd have each others' backs.

Kidnappers beware.



For another Walmart experience, visit my friend Juli's blog Surviving Boys here.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Brilliant Smart-Assery

The Final for my Dystopian literature last semester was a simple two-page essay to be inspired by one of three prompts given. We had two hours to complete the assignment.

Tentatively, I titled it "One Crappy Title." This is something I do every time I have to write an impromptu assignment, with the intention of going back and filling in an appropriate title once I've typed out all the genius things I have to say.

I chose the prompt about dictators which was a George Orwell quote from 1984.

I have always felt I do not work well under pressure. I spent most of my time staring at the numbers in the corner of the screen that indicated I was quickly running out of time. I hand-wrote an outline while the little whipper-snappers next to me typed away with graceful speed on their keyboards. I stared at the big, white, round-faced clock on the wall as I silently worked through my argument in my head.

I type very slowly. Despite being ambidextrous, I am quite sure my left hand has no idea what my right hand is up to. Perhaps I was secretly lobotomized as a child. Also, I cannot play any piano tune that requires both hands. I cannot dance.

I scraped out a compelling argument. I supported my ideas with examples from various novels we read during the semester. I read, re-read, revised and edited. I wondered if it made sense at all, or if I was just deluding myself into thinking I'm such a smarty-pants, I can whip out an impressive essay with such short notice. I'm just that good, folks. Brilliance, corporealized. I settled on my final product with forty-five minutes to spare, yet, I was not the first student to complete the assignment. Nor was I the second or third.

I began to doubt if I was brilliant at all, since the others were obviously so well-versed on the subject, they could materialize an essay out of thin air with no pencil-tapping, no screen-staring, and no nail-biting involved. I handed over the printed paper with a grimace. Dr. Dodson smiled and told me I was a wonderful student, and that she would see me next semester. I wasn't so sure she'd feel the same way after she read the crap I was turning in.

Relax, people. I got a 95 on the essay. Ninety. five.

I heard a rumor over the break that a few students had grouped up and gone to the Department Chair to complain that Dr. Dodson was too strict with her grading methods. This completely obliterated the idea that Dr. Dodson had been too generous with the grade I received. She does not strike me as a generous grade-giver, yet I have never received a grade lower than a 90 in any of her classes. What does this mean to me? It must mean, I am brilliant, Right?

psh.

seriously, psh.

I was thinking about that essay this morning. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I began to realize I had titled that essay "One Crappy Title." Hadn't I? That's the default beginning title for every essay I write. Surely, I had renamed it before printing it and handing it to my strict, comma-nazi, literature professor who spent a great deal of effort to remind us that the wittier the title, the better our grade would be. I fixed that, right? I couldn't remember.

I didn't inadvertently turn in "One Crappy Title" for my final and then bounce back into her classroom with a cocky little grin on my face for a whole new semester of Western World Literature. Did I?

Surely not. Brilliant people do not make such mistakes, and we have already established that I am as brilliant as they come. After all, I got a ninety-five.

But there it was, the nagging thought that I had indeed choked on this one aspect of the essay, and perhaps I could have gotten a hundred if only I hadn't been such a doofus and filled that line with such a stupid little quip that was obviously not witty at all. In fact, it seemed to me that a professor might consider it lazy, or, worse, smart-assy.

I'm not brilliant. I'm a smart-ass. (Which I've suspected all along, to tell you the truth.)

Here's the thing, though. I saved it on a flash drive just at the last minute. I almost forgot to do it, but I like to have a copy of everything I turn in just so I can go back and agonize over the placement of all my participial phrases and moan about my overuse of the words "very" and "just." Apparently, I can't get enough self-inflicted misery. The flash drive has more than two-hundred pieces listed in its various folders.

I didn't find the one titled "One Crappy Essay," but I did manage to locate the one I wanted.

Relax, people. I called it "Feed Me, Fear Me, Worship Me."

Because I'm brilliant.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

One Table Over: Neighbors


     The man on the other side of my bedroom wall is sick. Sometimes I think he might be dying. His low, rough coughing keeps me awake at night. Every once in a while, he calls for his caretaker. I can hear their voices.  

     He lives there, but it's her place. She moved him in several months after she started living there. She's like me. She does all her moving in one afternoon with the help of every family member she can round up. If I hadn't been home for it, I would have never known when it happened.  

     Mostly, they are quiet.  

     The people before had an affinity for loud music and marijuana. I knew too much about them: when they fought, when they made love, when the children were taken away. I even knew when they were evicted. 

     These new people are private. They never borrow eggs. They turn their television down. They never have parties. It's like they're not there. 

     Except for the coughing.  

     I feel bad for them. They have me for a neighbor.  Oh, sure, I'm the only one who lives here, but I have family. When my kiddos visit, it's as if they live here. They turn up the TV. They help themselves to a hot shower. They do their laundry. They bring their sweet, rowdy spawn with them. We yell from room to room. We play a lot of "Boo!" We laugh and squeal and run and drink and move furniture and hang out on the patio. 

     To her credit, she's never banged on the wall or hollered for us to keep it down.  

     It occurs to me she might welcome the noise. Maybe we are music to her ears. Maybe she's tired of the sound of so much coughing.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Ask Me About My Five Year Plan

I don't want to read right now, but school starts up again in less than two weeks. There are six novels on my list for the semester. Getting a head start would be wise, since I'm taking three Lit classes on top of Spanish and Texas Government.

I've already tried to avoid it by doing a load of laundry, cleaning the stove, moisturizing my old lady face, organizing my granny-panty drawer, writing a grocery list, losing my coffee three or four times. Also, I took out the trash and waved at the roofers across the way. I've got my eye on the cute guy in the red hoodie.

I played Temple Run for about a half an hour. good times.

The truth is, I'm about halfway through The French Lieutenant's Woman, and I've already made up my mind about it. I'd rather read Anna Karenina. Please somebody save me.

This will be the semester I graduate the community college with an Associates of Arts in English. Next Fall I'll be driving back and forth to Canyon in pursuit of the mighty Bachelor's. That's where West Texas A&M University is. (Unless, of course, I manage to score another huge scholarship. Cross your fingers.)

I want to, should, might, probably ought to move to New York City. Struggle. Study. Drink. Get lost in the shuffle.

Emerge.

Move to Alaska.

Start a blog.