i’m sensing a theme

It’s a theme. I’ve written about it quite often. Three times, at least. Pants peeing. It’s a thing. Or it was a thing during my childhood anyway. I can happily say it hasn’t happened as an adult. I’m pretty stoked about that. 

This time it was the Euclid house. My and Sherry’s bedroom. We shared a bedroom. It was pretty small. It had a dresser and a bed and a closet. If you remember the fire story, that is the closet we were thrown into after our ass beating for starting our bed on fire. Funny. Not then, but now. 

We were in bed doing nothing. Apparently quite bored with our lives at this point. We were around 7 and 8 or 8 and 9. We were definitely old enough to know better. Most people are when they do something they shouldn’t. 

We didn’t have a TV in our room. We didn’t really have anything. Boredom is what we had. Time on our hands. The worst thing in the world for kids. What’s that phrase? Something about idle hands… I’m not even sure how the conversation started. I think it might have been me. I will take the blame. I am the older sister, so I guess it’s only fair. It still may have been Sherry. I can’t fully recall. It’s been a LONG time ago. I bet Sherry might remember, just because she got in trouble. 

So, like I said, there we were in bed, contemplating our lives. Nothing exciting. I told Sherry that if she peed the bed I would. What??? Yep. We were rotten little kids. Frankly, I am surprised we didn’t get in more trouble. We were always up to something. Always. 

Actually, as I am writing this, I think Sherry said that if I peed she would. It’s becoming clearer as the story unfolds. An aha moment in the memory bank. 

Being the responsible big sister and wanting to help a girl out, I told her sure. So as we were lying there in bed with the covers pulled up to our necks like there were ghosts and vampires coming to get us, I did it. 

I didn’t really do it. I just told Sherry I did it. Obviously I had a lying problem too. I only told Sherry I did it because I actually had a hard time trying to pee my pants. I couldn’t force myself. Sherry didn’t have that problem.

As soon as I told her I peed, she went for it. She gave it everything she had. She did it. She peed her pants all over the bed. I couldn’t believe it. I can’t believe she really thought I would pee my pants. Hahahahahaha. Sucker!

Of course she tattled. We both got in trouble. She got in trouble for peeing her pants in bed. Apparently that was frowned upon in our house. I got in trouble for making her do it. Really? I did no such thing. It was her choice. I just helped a girl out. 

The lesson here is to never trust someone older than you, especially if it is a situation like this. I mean, really Sherry? You actually believed that I would pee my pants? 

today

Today

August 16, 2018

It’s hard to watch

So many emotions

So many feelings

Friends coming over and saying goodbye

Talking about what to pack and what to take

The bittersweet march of time

Kids leaving for college

As another feels the grief of losing a child

Watching things happen

Clearing out a photography studio

What to pack and what to take

Another moving her son across the states 

Everything keeps going. Nothing stops

We have no control. We just do what we do

Friends to the end

Friends forever 

The goodbye tears

The goodbye smiles

The goodbye hugs

Everyone saying goodbye

Goodbye to friends. 

Goodbye to a baby

Goodbye to a great career and hello to a new town

Moving into the future

Living for today 

Looking out to tomorrow

cousins always have your back

I remember them the most. The shorts. The olive green colored polyester. The fringe. The ugliness. The kid clothes. Nothing cool. Everything ugly.

It was summertime. We were at the cousins, the farm and all the farm animals that go along with it. You know, because it was, a farm. I was probably 10 or 11 years old.

We spent most of the day playing. We usually played in the barn, specifically the hayloft. The barn was huge. The hayloft was also huge. We had so much fun, just spending hours and hours hanging out and playing. It seemed like there were always kittens in the hayloft too. We always tried to catch them and pet them. 

Inside the barn there were animals. I have mentioned previously (in another post) how afraid of the animals I was. All of the animals. I was even scared of the chickens. Some chickens are assholes though, so I think that is totally justified. 

In order to get to the hayloft we had to walk through a section of animals. Pigs. On the way up to play, I safely made it through that section, only because the pigs were outside. Up the ladder to the hayloft. Safe and sound. Yay me.

I was wearing olive green shorts. They were disgusting. Stretchy polyester. I cut fringes into them to make them look more cool. It didn’t work. They just looked ridiculous. I really wanted blue jean shorts with fringe. That wasn’t going to happen, so in my mind this was the next best thing. I was also wearing a ratty old striped shirt. The shirt was probably polyester too. Good thing playing with matches wasn’t included on this trip. 

Brad was my cousin. I looked up to him. He was a fun cousin and watched out for me. He knew I was the biggest chicken ever. He never held that against me. He just looked out for us city cousins and spent time with us no matter what. He was a great cousin.

We had been playing in the barn for hours. I had to go pee. I had to go pee, bad. Apparently, people pee outside. How? I wasn’t sure how they did this without getting pee all over themselves. That would have to be perfected at a later date. I wanted to go in the house and go to the bathroom. About this time all the pigs came back in the barn. I was not pleased. In fact, I was petrified. There was no way I could walk through those pigs to get out of the barn. I just couldn’t. I was frozen with fear. That feeling, the fear, the scared, would not go away. I hated it. I couldn’t control it. 

Brad was looking out for me. He knew how afraid I was of those pigs. He said he would get me out of there. A shoulder ride. The perfect solution. It was brilliant. I was on the ladder that led up to the hayloft. Just hanging out. I wasn’t going anywhere. Brad came to me and I climbed on his shoulders. Perfection. Out through the pigs he walked. They were all around him. I couldn’t stand it. I was freaked out. He kept walking. 

We got almost through them and I couldn’t do it. I started to pee. I couldn’t stop. I peed all over his shoulders and the back of his neck. I was mortified. I couldn’t help it though. I felt terrible. 

As soon as we got out of the pigs he put me down. He wasn’t too mad. Everyone teased me, which was to be expected. It’s cousins after all. I ran in the house and changed my clothes. 

I was just glad to be safe from the pigs. But more grateful for a cousin who saved me. Even though I peed on his shoulders, he had my back. Cousins. 

I knew i was addicted

 

Summers were fun for us as kids. We used to go boating all the time. It seemed like we went every weekend. We had an old red and white boat. It was small, but it did the job. We didn’t know any different. It was a ski boat, not a fishing boat. Dad liked to boat and swim and ski. He was a very good water skier. He used to be able to ski with my sister on his shoulders. I don’t recall witnessing this, so maybe it isn’t true. But I always remember hearing it. He tried to teach me to ski. I was terrible. I couldn’t get up. I tried and tried and tried. The next day, I had solid bruises down my thighs. It looked like someone tortured me. It was true. It was called a ski rope. I was so mad I couldn’t ski. I never ever tried again. 

Almost every single time after swimming we got to stop at the A&W and get root beer. Dad got a big mug and we got the little baby frosted mugs. Ice cold. I can still taste it and smell it. The car hop brought the tray out and hooked it onto your car using the window slot. They had kind of a rubber kind of tray liner on the trays. I guess people spilled a lot. Sometimes we would get food too. A hamburger or a hot dog, along with some french fries. Their food was good and the root beer was so refreshing after hours of being out in the sun. It was the highlight of the outing. 

Another thing was good too. I thought about it during the all-afternoon outings. I couldn’t wait to get home. I couldn’t wait to smell the lit match. I couldn’t wait to get that hit of smoke from the cigarette. Something about being in the water all afternoon made me want it. Anyone who has ever been addicted you know what I’m talking about. That initial hit. That immediate calm. That immediate relaxation. That immediate satisfaction. It’s not just cigarettes. This is true for anything that one can become addicted to. Drugs, alcohol, even food. You know how it is. You think it about it. You think about it a lot. You especially think about it when it gets closer and closer to the time you can have it. You actually get a little anxious. You actually get a little excited. It is such a crazy thing to think how we are wired. 

Here is the really crazy part. I was ten years old. How can a ten year old feel this? How can a ten year old even know or comprehend this. I knew I was addicted. I knew I needed to stop. It wasn’t like I was a pack a day smoker or anything, but I was getting hooked. I would take one here and one there from the parents. Not enough that they would ever be able to tell. The hooks were digging in. The hands were wrapping around me tighter and tighter. The smoky rope was tying me up. It was holding me hostage. It was real. The addiction was real. It was scary to think about it.

At that point in time my ten year old brain was realizing that smoking was bad,  that smoking was not cool. It wasn’t good for my body. I turned it around. I stopped. I had to. I didn’t want to be addicted to cigarettes. I didn’t want to stink like smoke. I stopped then and there. 

To think about it now, it’s ridiculous. It actually disgusts me. I am so glad I was able to break away from the addiction. But ten years old!!! WTF!!! It came back again as an adult and I kicked it again. It is getting close to 20 years smoke free. I will stay smoke free the rest of my life. 

scars

I wasn’t sure why it happened. I didn’t know what I did wrong. I didn’t know why he picked me. I was in second or third grade. It was the Euclid house. It happened at least twice a week. 

My walk home path from school was to leave the school through the front doors, take a left to the corner of Central, walk up Central to Oak and then take Oak the rest of the way until I came to Euclid. Sometimes I would cut through the alley by Branch Wolf’s house, if I wanted to get home sooner, about one minute sooner. Otherwise I would hit the corner and walk the rest of way on Euclid. Sometimes I would dawdle and play along the way. A typical kid. 

Sometimes I would walk really slow, because I knew what was coming. I don’t know why I wasn’t smart enough to take a different route home. But, looking back, maybe I just didn’t know how to go another way. Once a route is presented to a child, the child tends to stick to what they are told to do. Deviation comes with consequences. I walked super slow hoping they would not be there. I kept looking, trying to see if they were there. I couldn’t tell. 

I would get to the corner of Oak and Grand. The corner house. The tall, tall lilac bushes separated the sidewalk and the yard. I was walking by. Then it happened. Two older boys jumped out of the bushes and started hitting me. They knocked me to the ground and kicked me and hit me. Then they ran off. The whole episode lasted maybe 30 seconds. Those 30 seconds felt like forever. Everything on the ground, my books and me. I stayed there waiting. Waiting for them to leave, hoping they would leave. I stayed there until I could not hear their laughter anymore. I stayed there until it was safe to get up. I cried and ran home.

There was no-one  to tell, or I just didn’t tell anyone. I don’t remember telling anyone at all. I don’t remember if they threatened me if I told on them or what. I just don’t remember. I remember the name of one of them. The other I don’t. The one I remember grew up to be a nice guy, I guess. 

I dreaded the walk home. Never knowing if it was going to happen. It was kind of like a game. A cat and mouse game, only I was the mouse. At least two days a week I was the mouse. I was the one being bullied. I was the one who got picked on. 

I still can’t figure out what I did that would prompt them to beat me up. They were 5th or 6th graders. I hate that I remember this. Why wouldn’t I just forget. Chalk it up to childhood stuff. Childhood things that really don’t mean anything. Just things. Just childhood things. But it was childhood things that I remember. Childhood things that scar. Childhood things that fade, but never go completely away. 

I think that is why I stood up for kids who got picked on. A few years after this, there was a kid at school who got teased all the time. He was in the special ed class. His name was Greg. He was picked on constantly. I hated to watch. I couldn’t stand it. I remember protecting him. I remember telling them to stop picking on him. I felt so bad for him. I bet he cried every single day. He just wanted to belong. He just wanted to have fun. He just wanted to fit in. 

I wonder where he is now…

I wonder where the cats are now…

The smell of a memory

I took the dropper out of the bottle. The bottle was dark brown with a white label. I put half a dropper full in the palm of my hand. I gently rubbed my hands together and then applied the oil to my face. I was immediately hit with the smell. What is that? I wondered. It was so familiar. I kept smelling it trying to bring the memory back. I looked like a huffer, standing in my bathroom, inhaling the smell over and over again. Ahh, there it was, the memory.

I was back in the Euclid house. I was back to my sister, Wendy’s, paint by number kits. The faces with the big hats and droopy eyes. Very detailed. The little plastic containers of paint with the corresponding numbers were all hooked together by plastic, like a plastic chain gang. The brushes were small and low quality. The cardboard paint board had the numbers all over the board. The canvas was approximately 8×11 in size and had light blue ink. Hours spent on each master piece. Hours spent on the creation. Hoping it looked “real.” Hoping it looked like you actually painted it yourself. Free hand, not line and number hand. Wondering if you could frame it and hang it up in the house. Could it be that real looking? Could it be that good? Hell no! Not even close. 

Wendy did a good job with her paintings. Me, not so much. I couldn’t stay in the lines to save my life. I had to be careful with the paint. It’s like paining your toenails or fingernails. You think you are being super careful and then you get the big ass giant blob of paint on the first stroke and no matter what you try to do to fix it, it doesn’t work. Polish all over the place, same with the paint. I would get so frustrated. Patience didn’t exist for me then. I had a little temper, or stubbornness, take your pick. They are pretty much the same. 

Those kits provided hours of learning and hours of spending time on a craft, even if it was cheating using the numbers to create a painting.  Hours spent learning patience. Hours spent learning the art of patience. I wonder who invented them. What a great idea it was, and a moneymaker no doubt. I always remember Wendy doing stuff like that. She was always sketching in notebooks too. She was creative. She still is. I am so glad we had the opportunity as kids to do those kinds of things. We were lucky. 

The oil I was busy huffing trying to bring back the memory was Rosehip Seed Oil. I wonder if it was a base for the paints. It is so weird though every time I smell it now that is the only thing I can think of. 

It is so interesting how so many memories came alive from just a smell. Life is curious and life is crazy sometimes. 

kid lessons

The scar was small, but wide in the middle. It was about an inch long, left leg, upper thigh. It was faint, yet the memories remained as if it happened yesterday. 

It was the Euclid house. I was around 8 years old. My sister, Wendy, was about 12. I remember the timeframe clearly because it was around the time she had gotten her tonsils out and had been in severe pain. She didn’t recover well. Probably because I stole her Aspergum. The gum she was supposed to chew to relieve the pain in her throat from the tonsils being ripped out. I felt bad. The Aspergum was good though. I liked the orange better than the cherry. 

Everyone was watching TV. I snuck into the bathroom. There it was on the side of the bathtub looking innocent and harmless. I thought it was cool looking. I wondered why I didn’t get to use it and my sister did. It wasn’t fair. She got to do everything. She got to have fun all the time. I didn’t care she was older and possibly, just maybe, that’s why. 

I kept looking at it, contemplating, wondering. I wasn’t sure how to use it. Which way was the right way? I couldn’t tell. I picked it up and looked at it some more. I put my foot up on the bathtub and stood there like I was Captain Morgan. I looked at it again. I held it in my right hand. I was going to do it. I was going to shave my legs. Why should Wendy have all the fun? Because blood everywhere. That’s why. 

Razor in right hand. I didn’t know how to use it. I started about mid thigh and swiped down. Oh no. Everyone knows you swipe up, idiot. I felt the pain go through my body from my toes to the top of my head. The warmth. Then the white. The pain. The blood. The hole in my leg. I knew I was in trouble. I didn’t know what to do. The bleeding would not stop. 

I put the razor back on the tub. I was starting to panic. How was I going to hide what I had just done? I grabbed a t-shirt and tied it around my leg like a tourniquet. I walked back out to the living room and got in the chair. I acted like nothing had happened. I acted innocent, because I was. HA! NOT!

My leg hurt so bad. It was still bleeding and the hole was gaping open. Dad asked me what happened to my leg. I told him nothing. I think mom had been in the kitchen and then peeked in and saw the tourniquet. She asked me what happened. I told her I tried to shave. She went back in the kitchen. 

The scab was horrendous, once it started to heal. Thick and crusty. Disgusting. The constant reminder that I didn’t know what I was doing and that I probably should have quit acting like I did. 

The lesson. The life lesson. The scars of childhood mistakes and mysteries. 

 

would you like some fresh apricots?

I got a message today. “Morning neighbor…would you like some fresh apricots :)” Of course I would. We love apricots. The message was from Mary Jo. She and her husband and daughter live in the Asbury house. The log house. The house Sandy was living in when she got cancer. The house she was living in when I first met her. The house where I spent a lot of time with her. 

The timing of this message was perfect. I am usually not home during the day, but today I stayed home with a miserable headache. 

I hopped in the car and headed over. It felt weird. It was kind of overwhelming. I pulled into the driveway. I hadn’t been on this path in years, since 2003. Everything looked different, but the same. The trees were so much bigger. The garage looked so much smaller. 

I met Mary Jo outside and we talked about how much bigger the trees and shrubs were. We walked around the yard. It was beautiful. She showed me her butterfly garden and her she shed. Everything was beautiful. They have done such a wonderful job caring for the property. So peaceful and so inviting. The sound of the leaves blowing from the wind was heavenly. It was like they were talking to us, telling us their secrets, making sure we knew. 

The apricot tree was HUGE. I barely remember it being there. The branches were so heavy with fruit they were almost hanging to the ground. They looked like they could break at any second. 

It was kind of eerie walking around, remembering. 

The flag pole looked so small now. The trees were tall enough to cover it up. Sandy would always say if the garage door was open and the flag was up, anyone could come and visit. That was their sign. That was their signal. 

Mary Jo asked if I wanted to come inside. I said sure. I would love to. As soon as I walked in, I felt your presence. It went through my whole body. You were there. 

We went in the kitchen. I could see you standing at the counter. It was like you were frozen in time. Making shrimp scampi and having a glass of chardonnay and doing your best Pee Wee Herman laugh. My favorite. 

We went in the bathroom, off the master bedroom. They updated the bathroom and it was gorgeous, so tastefully done.  I remember then, standing at your dresser, going through your jewelry. Trying to decide what you would want to wear to your funeral. Going through your closets, wondering what to do with your clothes. We just didn’t know. I can still smell your perfume, Dona Karen Cashmere Mist. Every time I smell that I remember you. The smell of sandalwood and vanilla gets me. I love that smell.  Mary Jo had some kind of vanilla perfume or body spray on too. I could smell it when she was standing by me and the breeze was coming towards me. 

Next we went up to the loft. My favorite room of the house. I could see Nancy and Kathy and me, sprawled out on the floor as we wrote your obituary. The story of your life. The story of you. Trying to get it right. Trying not to disrespect you. 

We came back downstairs and went back outside and talked some more about the trees and the property. I thank Mary Jo for inviting me over. It was a very special visit.

As I got in the car to head back home, the tears started. I couldn’t help but miss you. The irony set in. I am older now than you were when you passed away. You were only 50. Life is crazy. Life is sad. Life is peaceful. Life is beautiful. Sandy, you are missed. 

right here, right now

How long? How long are you going to do those meal replacement shakes? How long?

How long before you wake up one day and think of all the things that have passed you by because you were busy chasing a less than ideal body. A less than ideal lifestyle. A less than ideal mindset. You can’t live off shakes forever. Your body wants to feel satisfied. Chewing food satisfies the cravings. Chewing food helps the digestion. The texture of food satisfies you. 

When we are constantly chasing skinny, you are missing out on your life. Why are we chasing it constantly? Why can’t we just be healthy? Why can’t we just eat instead of constantly dieting or finding the next magic pill or the next magic power? Why?

How much life have you missed out on because of hating on your body? Have you ever been to a party or a social gathering and totally deprived yourself of any fun because deep down you were disgusted with your body? I have. I am willing to bet a lot of us have. 

Maybe you should try something different. Try something that is out of your comfort zone. Try not being so hard on yourself for how your body looks. Try loving yourself where you are right now, where you are right in this moment, where you are in this space. Then and only then can you start to heal from the chase. 

Start giving your body the fuel it needs to function optimally. Think of food as something your body needs and wants in order to make it easier for you to walk up that flight of stairs. Feed your body. Feed your soul. When you eat better, you feel better. 

Eat real food. Enjoy real food. Learn to taste your food, instead of shoveling it in your mouth so fast, you don’t know what you even ate. Learn to slow down. Quit using food as feelings. 

Food and feelings go hand in hand. I know it can be super complex. I know these behaviors can be used as a coping mechanism. Changing our behaviors can be extremely hard. We often start out with great intentions and then just plain struggle with being consistent. What’s keeping you from making this lifestyle change? Do the benefits outweigh the cost of what you are doing right now? I say yes. I say you can do this. 

I say, get curious about why you do the things you do. Work on it. Every single day. Work on yourself. Love yourself. Right here. Right now. Begin to heal. 

Adventures in station wagons

We had two station wagons. I mean my brother, Jeff, had two station wagons. One was green and one was black. Old ones. Crappy looking ones. The green one was nicer than the black one. A little. Station wagons were popular at that time. Mom also drove a station wagon, one of those kind of two tone ones with the wood-look panels. Popular.

I was a junior or a senior in high school. I had an appointment at Regis in the mall for a perm. Because why the hell would anyone want to have their normal hair? Why not chemical shit storm it so it would curl like a pig’s tail. 

My appointment was at noon. It was a Sunday. I had to work at 3 pm at Sooper Dooper. The dreaded 3-10 shift. Three hours was plenty of time to get a perm. Or so I thought… 

I needed a vehicle to drive to my appointment. It was winter, like it always is around here for about 6 months of the year. I don’t know why my car wasn’t available. I don’t know if it was getting worked on or what. I just know it wasn’t available. It was a better can than the station wagons though. Just sayin.

I was going to take the green station wagon. It was more reliable than anything else parked at the house. It wouldn’t start. I had to take the black one. Sketchy at best. It started. Awesome. I mean that sarcastically. I hated that boat. It was a boat and it was a piece of crap. The seats were ripped and I don’t even think it had seatbelts and the door was messed up. I had to get in on the passenger side and crawl over to the driver’s side. Like I said, piece of crap. 

I got in and got myself up to the mall. We lived in the Prospect House at this time. I’m surprised my brother let me take it. He wasn’t a good sharer. He probably didn’t know I took it. I’m pretty sure I just stole it. 

The appointment was taking forever. How could a perm take this long? I kept thinking something must be messed up. It had to be going wrong. Right? Glass half empty. It was my hair, my glass could be half empty. 

It was getting past 2:30 and I was starting to get worried. I had never been late for work in my life and I didn’t want a hair appointment to make me late. That would be a lame excuse. 

Finally, it was about 2:45 p.m. I had to work dammit! I was going to be late! I was very worried about being late. I wonder if I had a problem in my past life with time or with being late or missing something. Ha. Who knows. 

The hair was done. The hair was fucking ugly. The hair was like an afro. Seriously. Not even kidding one bit. I think she used the wrong size rods. I think she used the old lady, blue hair rods. What the???? How??? I was devastated. Not only did I not have time to go home and wash my hair 100 times with the strongest chemical shampoo I could find to try and relax this fricking nest on top of my head, I had to go to work this way.  How could I? Oh Em Gee!!!

I had to. I had to suck it up. I had to get my butt to work. I ran out to the parking lot and found the black bomb. How reliable was the wagon going to be? The streets were snow packed and slick in spots, but I had to hurry. It started. Awesome. I mean that sarcastically again. I tried not to speed. I pulled out of the mall parking lot and headed south on Harrison. The fastest way was going to take a right on Church street and then haul ass over to Highland. Once on Highland it was a crap shoot of whether going to Capitol and heading west, or up on Broadway to Euclid and then to Capitol was faster. Who cares? I just had to make a decision and stick to it. 

I was going fast and the turn onto Church Street was going to be hairy at best. I pumped the brakes a little because it was snowy. I didn’t want to slide all over the place. As I was making that treacherous turn, the stupid driver’s side door decided to start working and flew completely open. I about crapped my pants. Remember, no seat belts. I can’t believe I didn’t fall out. Here I was making a sharp Starsky and Hutch turn and thinking I was going to die. I didn’t die. I made it, but I had to pull the damn door shut and hold it the rest of the way. It wasn’t latching. It just kept flying open unless I held it. The next five minutes was exciting, to say the least.

I arrived. Crazy hair and piece of crap car. I made it. It was exactly 3 o’clock when I punched in. It was exactly the worst hair experience I have ever had. It was exactly the scariest car I have ever driven.