Sunday, May 30, 2010

Red Motorcycles

I dreamt of a red motorcycle, and when I woke up I thought, “I should get myself a red motorcycle.”

This is not a thought that has ever occurred to me before, but before last summer I’d never thought of jumping out of an airplane, and then I did think of it, and so I did it. Twice.

I can’t always do what I dream of. One morning I woke up after dreaming I had a child, a girl, and my first thought was, “I need to get myself one of those!” But after further thought, a child isn’t 1) easy to obtain, and 2) not a hobby, so I’m not pursuing that particular train of thought. Of course, just because they’re not easy to obtain doesn’t mean lots of people don’t end up with them unexpectedly, but I’m not likely to become unexpectedly pregnant at my age. Nor do I want to. My body’s barely holding itself together as it is.

But a motorcycle! That I could do. Of course, I have no motorcycle experience, except for the following:

*******When I was first in the military I had a roommate, and said roommate had a boyfriend, and said boyfriend had a friend, and the two of them talked me into going out with the friend. Both boys had motorcycles, and since it was summer and we were all young and reckless (or maybe that was just me – the other three pretended to be responsible military members much better than I did), I managed to severely burn my leg on the motorcycle’s tailpipe, because who in Louisiana wears jeans in the summer? It’s just far too hot. My roommate, a southern belle from Texas, received a big diamond from her boyfriend, who then magically turned into a fiancĂ©, and when I made the obligatory complimentary remarks she told me that the other boy would be happy to get me one too, and then we could all get married and live happily after, and that’s when I ran away (not physically, that’d be called AWOL and is a punishable offense) and broke the motorcycle boy’s heart. Or not.
*******My first husband had a motorcycle when I met him, but he sold it, though he never lost his love for motorcycles. But what he really wanted was a Harley, because, as we all know, those are true motorcycles. For years he talked about it, and then, finally, he got one, a big red thing that was his dream come true, and it supplanted his previous dream of being happily married to a beautiful intelligent woman (me, of course, who’d you think I meant?) and it became his obsession. It wasn’t why I left him though – that was because of the drinking. Later, when he was living in Arizona for a short time and I wasn’t (because I’d left him and we’d divorced), he called early one morning, heartbroken and mad, because someone had stolen his beautiful Harley. He’d heard it, outside, and he’d run out to find the Harley driving away, and there was nothing he could do. It was very sad. He got another one, later, but I’m not sure it lives up to the standard set by the first.

And then he called me again one day, last year maybe, and he’d been out riding with a friend, and then they’d gone back to the ex’s house, and then the friend had left, riding his bike back to his house, and on the way there he’d been flattened by a motorist, and he’d died, leaving his children fatherless.

I guess my experiences with motorcycles have not been altogether positive. Besides that, my sense of balance is not the sort that would guarantee me stability of any sort. And I don’t like bugs in my teeth, but apparently 
I’d have to wear a helmet anyway, so of course I’d have a full face mask.

I say “of course” as if it’s common knowledge that the slightest whiff of air brushing past my eyes causes massive watering. This could be a drawback if one’s on a motorcycle, I would think.

With skydiving the watering is not too much of an issue because if my eyes start watering on my way down, there’s not much I can do to mess it up – I’ll pretty much be headed down whether I can see or not, it’s not as if my inability to see will mean I’ll start heading in another direction, does it? Though I would like to be able to avoid things like trees and buildings. Still, on my last jump my eyes didn’t get out of control until after I’d landed, and then I stumbled around blindly to find my way off the field.

I’m quite entertaining to have around, let me tell you. No one knows what I’ll do next.

Perhaps I’m better off sticking with indoor activities, I don’t know.

On a different tangent, and to further illustrate my special skills, last week I took a train trip and ended up with patellar tendinitis, which means, basically, that when I ride a train I can end up with a sports injury, which is both embarrassing and difficult to explain.

“How’d you hurt yourself again?”

“I was on a train.”

“Did you fall? Did you have an injury? What happened?”

“Nothing happened.”

I am regarded askance, with no small amount of confusion.

I keep icing the knee, hoping for a quick recovery, and I try to limit my walking because if I walk too much it’s really hard on my knee and makes it hurt more, if you can imagine.

The red motorcycle may have to wait for a bit. It may have to wait forever. It depends on how I feel about it later, when I can walk again. I might have moved on by then. I do that, move on a lot. As long it doesn’t involve using my knee, I’m just fine.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Traveling By Train

I made it to the train on time, in no small part due to the ministrations of Mr. Perfect-For-Me, who had been urging me, since last week sometime, to start packing. I didn’t, and even when he called me on Saturday morning and said, “Have you started packing?” I must admit, I fibbed just a bit.
“Of course I have,” I said, while crossing my fingers behind my back, not that he would have seen me cross my fingers anywhere at all.
“Then where did you find your bag?” By which he means my favorite traveling bag, the brown leather one I got in Mexico many years ago. It was lost for quite a while, and then found again, probably, I believe, in another suitcase.
“In the linen closet,” I improvised, hoping that was the correct answer.
There couldn’t be a wrong answer if he didn’t remember either, could there?
He fell for it. This brings me no great satisfaction. I was just trying to uphold my reputation as a person who can get themselves ready for the occasional trip all by myself.
it’s the first step to adulthood I hear, something I’ve been working on for years.
But when I looked in the linen closet the bag was indeed there, scrunched in between two hard side suitcases. It’s an easily squishable bag, being nothing more than leather sewn together in a few key places (at the seams).
So when charming husband arrived home I was indeed mostly packed, except for a few incidentals like toothpaste, which I had run out of, and I didn’t want to take all the toothpaste because then what would he do in my absence? And my power cords. I always travel with a good supply of cords. Computer cords, Nano cords, charging units for the laptop with their own cords, things like that. And my Bluetooth, which I went ahead and forgot anyway, but since I won’t be doing on this trip, it’s not a big deal,  not really. Also, I have no cell phone reception in Montana, so what would I need my Bluetooth for? So I can walk around and look like a person who has an Important Life?
And so we had plenty of time to spare, so much so that charming husband took me out to lunch first, so we could go over the recent developments in our lives that may be making our summer more interesting.
There’s lots of new developments, but let’s put those off for a few days. One adventure at a time is about all I can handle.
Put me in an international airport with signs pointing every which way and masses of people heading this way and that and I’m fine. I’ll find where I’m supposed to be, and everything is as it should be. Take me to a train station where there’s a few people and only two options and suddenly I’m flustered.
“What train am I supposed to be on?” I ask charming husband, “And how will I know it?”
They’re big, trains, not the sort of thing one can miss. But two trains were arriving at the same time, one going this way, the other going that way, and I was in a panic wondering if I’d get on the wrong one, as if no one was going to direct me to the right train. I’m unaccustomed to train travel. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it.
I was pointed in the right direction, and I boarded said train and then stood there wondering where to go next. Up the stairs, apparently, then I passed by my assigned seat (which had been assigned as I boarded the train, when a train person handed me a piece of white paper on which someone had written, in pencil, 48, which is not the most advanced ticketing system I’ve seen, but it seems to work, for seat 48 was empty an in it I sat. It was an aisle seat, and the nice gentleman at the window seat asked if I’d like to sit there. “I’ve been this way so many times I’ve seen it all,” he said. And so I said, “If it’s not a problem, that’d be great,” because I really did want to see out the window, and leaning over nice gentlemen so I can look out the window can be considered annoying.
And now I’m on the train, and we’re heading east, and in the morning I’ll be at my destination. Apparently we have no dining car at the moment, though later on they’re going to add that on, and it’ll be four cars ahead. You don’t see that kind of thing going on with planes, do you?
My most extensive train experience is with the train at Disneyland, and so far this seems eerily similar, especially the tunnels. No dining cars on those trains either.
I sit in the observation car, observing. It’s starting towards dusk, a few clouds in the sky, and I look out over the broad river. On the other side is Oregon, and on this side Washington, nothing more substantial than a body of water separating the two. The water is blue and flowing, we’ve passed the dam, and the landscape is in places barren, and in places filled with trees. Up above me I can see the moon through the window, it’s not full, but more than half, swollen with the enormity of its position. Without the moon, where would the tides be?
It’s so peaceful out there. This is eastern Washington, eastern Oregon, not the heavily populated area of Portland and Vancouver, though we come across small towns, mostly behind me because I’m facing the river, but occasionally, like just now, we go inland a bit, and pass some houses, some trailers, a few industrial buildings.
The clouds are grey in the sky, and in the distance they’re dark. We had heavy rain earlier today, at least where we had started from, our weather changing from day to day and hour to hour lately.
We go through a crossing, and one automobile waits with its lights on. A junkyard, older houses, trees that have been here forever, or what seems like forever.
And on we continue. The moon has disappeared from my view, there’s nothing above me now but blue sky, dark blue, the color the sky turns when it’s getting ready to turn in for the night and call it a day. The whistle of the train warns people we’re coming through, and I wonder how many of them even notice it anymore, unless they’re waiting for it to go by.
I think of how much my Mom would have liked this, to just pass by the scenery and watch it without having to think about getting somewhere, just enjoying the ride for what it is, a trip through the end of the day.
There’s a water reservoir in front of me, with outlets pouring water into it. It’s not the water of the river but it’s still magical. So ephemeral but so substantial. A smaller reservoir, with brownish water pumping into it, and I don’t know why it’s brown.
We go over a river and head into Pasco. Pasco, Washington, and jI’ll keep going on this train through Pasco and on to Montana.
The train on the bridge feels different than it does on the ground, but it’s over fast, and we’re slowing for the stop in Pasco. It’s almost 9 pm, and it’s not quite dark yet. From here it still looks fairly light, but the night lights are coming on and soon, before I realize it, full dark will be here.
In full dark I’m happiest inside, whether in a train or in my house, but not outside in it. It’s too primal for me. There’s so much that can be in the dark, and because I can’t see it I fear it. I like the dark, but from a safe distance, from a place of light, should I choose to turn on a light, not from in the midst of the dark with no way out.
My battery power is low, and so I return to my seat, so I can recharge my laptop, so I won’t be left in full dark without the comfort of my laptop screen to light the way.
People get off the train to smoke, they huddle outside, close to the train, not venturing far, for they don’t want to go far, they just want to have a smoke. The streetlights have come on, it’s still getting dark, and the cabin is dark now, except for the lights overhead and the occasional laptop screen. My screen seems blinding and obtrusive in the dim light of the end of day, a glaring modern convenience I’m loath to part with. 

The Rest of the Story

After my visit with the needle, and before the tacos, I sat in the pharmacy waiting area while charming husband picked up a few things for our allergies. I lounged, as I so often do, and looked at my phone so I could delete and/or read email. These are the emails I save up for times when I have time to kill, emails that deal with tax situations and “what if” scenarios, the sort of thing I’m likely to bypass when I’m in the office trying to actually get work done, but which I’m likely to at least take a look at before deleting, if I’m waiting somewhere.
I call this “continuing education.”
Someone passing by said, “I like your hat,” and I glanced up, only a bit startled, and in front of me, and in the processing of passing me by, was a woman with a purple ballcap. I was wearing a hat that serves me well on days when my hair isn’t cooperating, which is most of them, and it was perched back on my head a bit, not useful for providing any sort of shade or covering any part of my face, both of which are usually a good thing, but it wasn’t about utility, it was about having a hat. I would say it’s all about fashion, but I’ve never been fashionable and I’m not about to start now. Besides, someone would disagree and say my hat was an embarrassment, and then I’d have to retaliate and you can see where that would end up, can’t you?
“I like yours too,” I said, because hers was purple, and what’s not to like?
She whipped it off and ran her fingers over her totally bald head. “I don’t buy hats myself, but people have been giving them to me since this,” and she wasn’t the least bit uncomfortable about having no hair, or at least she didn’t seem to be.
She had stopped, apparently, since if she had still been walking by she would have been long gone by then, but she had stopped, and she and I and the woman next to me, who was also tending to a child, had a short conversation about chemo and radiation. And if the worse that happens is you lose your hair, you’re in pretty good shape.
“Only one more treatment left,” the woman in the purple hat said, and we cheered her on, and we wished her the best of luck with it because, when all is said and done, luck is the one thing we can count on.
Not that it works or that we can count on it, because we can’t, but sometimes it’s all we’ve got.
I left feeling happy about the woman in the purple hat, the woman who was feeling good about life in the midst of her treatments.
Tonight I’m getting on a train, and tomorrow morning I’ll get off the train, and my stepfather will pick me up at the train station and take me back to the house he shared with my mom, and for the next few days I’ll be going through her personal effects, sorting them out and sending things to goodwill, and figuring out what to do with all she left behind.
Mom felt good about life in the midst of her treatments, even when she wasn’t feeling well herself, and even after, once the treatments stopped because they weren’t working, and though she went downhill fast, she still felt that life was good.
Tomorrow’s Mom’s birthday. I’ll take care of her things, and I’ll be there for her husband who’s still looking for his way, and I’ll miss her all over again. I’ll sleep in the bed she died in, and I’ll remember her last few days all over again because I’m there and it’s immediate when I’m there, and not six months ago.
And I’m taking the train because otherwise things happen to me. I run into wildlife, or I blow tires, or I get violently sick and have to stop. I have to stop when I run into wildlife and blow a tire too, so whatever happens, I end up stopping when I hadn’t planned on it. Mom will feel better that I’m on the train. Maybe I will too. Or maybe I’ll roam the train looking for something interesting to do.
If I get into trouble I’ll call. Wait by the phone just in case.

Friday, May 21, 2010

A Medical Story

The waiting room is the sort of “we’re trying to be accessible” sterility common in the enlightened age of making the patient feel better, even if not making the patient better. Why is there always a fish tank? Are fish supposed to keep me calm? Make me forget that I’m sitting here waiting for someone to call my name so someone else can stick a needle in my breast?


Yes, the fish have driven that thought straight out of my mind.

But it’s no big. I’m one of the lucky ones. There’s nothing wrong with me, other than an oversensitive nature, a propensity to self diagnosis terminal illnesses, and a horrid fashion sense, but none of those will kill me, or cause me any sort of pain other than psychic. I’m healthy, and I know it, so I’m lucky.

Doesn’t mean I enjoy waiting for the needle.

But that’s because I’m impatient. As a general rule, I don’t like waiting. But I’ve brought along my Nano with music and books, so even though we’ve shown up early (I thought for sure they said 2:30, but they say they said 3:00, but I think it was a trick because I’m known for showing up late) I can keep myself occupied.
This is a simple procedure which has taken three previous visits to get arranged. For the first visit, I called and said, “I need this aspirated.” They gave me an appointment and the doctor said, “I’m sending you for a mammo and an ultrasound.”

“Okay,” I said, “But I just need this aspirated.”

“We’ll see what the mammo and ultrasound say.”

So I made another appointment for the mammo and ultrasound at the desk downstairs, which was personned by a clerk who had a lovely speaking voice that she obviously wished no one to hear, and so she utterances were barely more than a sigh. “What?” I kept saying, and she would sigh back at me, “mumble mumble,” but somehow I ended up with an appointment.

Let’s overlook the fact that they, by which mean the medical profession, wished to mammogram a breast with a  cyst the size of a softball.

The radiologist looked at the films and the ultrasound and said, “Wow, you really need that aspirated.”
“See, that’s what I said,” I say to him.

“We can’t do that here,” he continued, “But your doctor can do it in the office or we can do it in Tacoma.”


My medical facility is over 2 hours away, so each little visit costs me an entire day of my somewhat valuable time. At least if I’m billing at my normal hourly rate.

I get home and email my doctor, “Hey, so they say you can do it or they can do it, so do you want to take a stab at it?” A stab at it – get it? Ha, I’m so funny.

He replies, “I’m referring you to a surgeon. Call and make an appointment.”

A surgeon? For a simple needle in the breast?

I call and make an appointment with the surgeon.

I go in and see the surgeon.

He’s a nice surgeon, and we discuss the relative merits of the IPad, along with other subjects of the day. He also says, “I’m not sure why you’re seeing me today.”

To which I reply, “Me either. I thought maybe there was something you knew that I didn’t.”

“No,” he replies, “Looks like you need an aspiration. Your doctor can do it in his office, or radiology can do it in Tacoma.”


“So I’ve heard,” I tell him, “I think we better go with Tacoma.”

“Good idea,” he says, “It’s huge,” referring to the cyst that has taken over my life.

This I am aware of, hence my quest for someone to please stick a needle in the damn thing and be done with it. Oddly enough, by  the time I get to the surgeon the pain has greatly dissipated, which is part of the Treatment Plan for my medical insurance. “Delay treatment for as long as possible, as most issues will go away on their own, or the patient will die, either way, but at least we won’t have to deal with it.” I hear it’s been a huge cost saver.

“Go downstairs and make an appointment with them at the appointment desk,” he tells me, then apologizes if he hasn’t been very helpful. I reassure him that it was very helpful, since being referred to a surgeon suggested I might need surgery, a notion he has been kind enough to correct.

We go downstairs (I say we because charming husband accompanies me this time, insisting on this opportunity to spend time with me) and I stop at the desk that says, in loud letters, “Mammography Appointments Here,” or something.

“I need an appointment for an aspiration,” I say, and the clerk looks at her computer but finds nothing.

“In Tacoma,” I add.

“Oh, we don’t make those appointments here,” she tells me.


She calls Tacoma and verifies with them that they will contact me to set up an appointment, and to wait patiently by my phone. At least this clerk talked out loud, as if she wished to communicate with me.

All of this is how I ended up in the waiting room watching the fish.

Minutes later we are called in. Charming husband accompanies me. I am asked questions, to which I reply with sensible answers, and I sign a form that probably waives my right to sue should I end up dead. We wait for the room, and at last it is ready.

We’re led into the room, and I’m given a lovely cape like pastel garment I wouldn’t be caught dead in on my worst day, and while I change the tech and charming husband talk about his alma mater, which the tech’s son has graduated from. Or something.

I lay on the table, and the ultrasound tech comes in. She lifts up my cape and says, “Wow, you don’t even need me. It’s right there.”

Damn right it’s right there. It’s not visible to human eyes, but to medical professionals there’s obviously something going on in there.

She puts it up on the ultrasound and there it is, filling the screen, my sworn enemy, the cyst the size of Manhattan.

The radiologist comes in, a lovely woman, and she lifts up my cape and says, “Wow, it’s right there.”

Yes. It is right there.

But they still want the ultrasound, so we can see the needle going in, see it getting smaller and smaller.
The first prick is an anesthetic, and I say, “Ow.” The second prick is sharper, and I say, “Ow.”

The needle fills up quickly, and the cyst is smaller.

“Wow,” says the radiologist, “that’s already 20 cc’s.”

In again, and the needle fills up with another 20 cc’s.

This time I take my eyes off the screen and glance at the needle. It’s a disgusting looking greenish fluid, not the sort of thing I’m happy to see, but at least it’s outside of me, instead of inside.

In with the needle one more time, for a total of 60 cc’s, and this time the cyst on the screen falls in on itself, out of fluid and momentum and self-respect, deflated, and suddenly it is nothing.

And just like that, I am cured. A steri-strip and a bandaid, and I’m good to go, once, of course, I’ve exchanged my cape for my clothes, an ice pack inside my bra.

Just like that, my breast has become mine again, and not the residence of an alien life form.

We leave the facility and we stop for happy hour tacos at the place in Tacoma that has happy hour all day on Mondays, the place we stop at every time I’m in Tacoma on Urgent Medical Business, which means, every time I’m in town to have one or the other of my breasts pierced with a needle.

I’m hoping to make Tacoma just the place I drive through on my way to Seattle however, and not a place I stop in at. Nothing against Tacoma, I’m sure it’s lovely, but I prefer to keep my distance since every time I go there someone sticks a needle in my breast.

And I get my revenge, however indirectly, by having my tacos with fish. The fish in the tank don’t care, but it’s the best I can do. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Nine Dog Day

I have a yardstick for measuring how good a day I’ve had, and yesterday was a pretty good day. It was a 9 dog day, which is almost as good as a 10 dog day, and better than an 8 dog day – standard numbering system of course.

Naturally, my two dogs were the first. They always are, and when charming husband got up today they refused to get up with him. Instead, they stayed with me, and when I woke up, they were both there, waiting for me. I’d like to think it’s because they’re devoted to me, but it’s more likely that they just like to sleep in longer. Like me, they’re not early morning people. Or dogs. Ash was sleeping on the bed, all the better to be close to me, and Honey was at the foot of the bed. A 2 dog day is pretty standard around here.

I told them it was time to get up, and when they realized that I meant all of us, they tumbled down the stairs as if they’d just met. They are not sedate.

I had several visits to make to clients, and the first one I went to has a dog. But today, they also had another dog visiting. Two dogs! Already I’d doubled my RDD (recommended daily dog). The visitor dog was soft and cuddly and I held her in my lap while I talked to the client. The home dog always barks when I arrive, but usually stops once he realizes I’m not there to cause trouble, and then he lets me pet him. People always apologize for barking dogs, but I’m the one who invaded their territory, so it’s not as if it’s the dog’s fault.

Then I went to meet a friend at her office so we could go have lunch. And there, in her office, was the boss’s dog, Coco, a friendly lab with a wriggly butt astounding in its perpetual motion. Unfortunately, Coco could not accompany us to lunch.

After lunch, another client, this one at a pet store. The store owner brings her two spaniels to work (which is why a pet store would be a perfect work environment for me, if I were to have one, because you can bring your pets), and so I had two more dogs to entertain me.

And then just one more client who has an office at home, like the first one of the day. A golden retriever lives with this client, and his name is Jackson. He also recognizes me as a friend and I’m happy to corroborate that for him. But today Jackson had a houseguest staying with him, so this upped my daily dogs for today to 9. Both Jackson and his houseguest are pleasant company, enthusiastic and excited to have me around. I’m very popular with dogs. They think I smell good. I’m not sure what that says about me, but I don’t really care.

Eventually I made my way back home, where Ash and Honey regarded me with no small amount of suspicion. I smelled funny, like multiple dogs, and they were quite insistent on smelling me to determine what sort of dogs I’d been hanging out with. They’re generally suspicious when I smell of other dogs, being the jealous types, but eventually they calm down and let me off the hook. It helps that I bring them presents from the pet store.

I don’t have much hope of having a 9 dog day again anytime soon, which is too bad. But it’s a pretty high standard, after all, and I can’t hope to have that every day. 

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Crafts With Mom #2

Mom number 2, that is, the evil stepmom. Mom number 1, the real one, wasn't into crafts.

Stepmom, however, would occasionally get creative. One of her most impressive works was taking a shy and naive 10 year old and turning her into a quivering mass of fear, unable to form normal relationships.

But we're not here to talk about my childhood today.

Stepmom was always coming up with money making ideas. One time she decided it would be fun open a daycare, an idea which didn't last long and had the end result, for me, of making everyone at my high school
think I'd gone off and had a baby over the summer when I showed up with one of mom's two month old charges one day because she was too ill to take care of the little guy/girl. (I don't remember. It was small and defenseless and I had to go to school to pick up something and everyone thought the baby was mine. Did wonders for my social standing.)

One time she had an idea about driftwood, around the time I was 14 or 15. She and my dad would comb the beaches up north for driftwood, which she would then bring home. Then she bought Christmassy crafty things, little Santas, little reindeer, little Christmas trees, fake snow, everything one would need to make a Christmas scene on driftwood, and she would attach said things to pieces of driftwood. Voila!

They were cute, and it gave her more things to put around the house to declare that Christmas was on its way.

And then she got her Big Idea. This was not her first big idea, nor would it be her last, but it was a big idea. She would, she declared, collect more driftwood, and make more Christmas themed driftwood pieces, and then sell them at a swap meet. "We'll make lots of money," she told me.

Why we? How did I get suckered into this? Well, I was the only girl left at home. My sisters had, wisely, fled the coop years before. My brothers were, well, boys, and therefore not expected to do crafty things. It wasn't boy-like. And she promised me a cut of the proceeds.

How could I resist a cut of the proceeds? Besides, it's not as if I had a choice, not really.

So we made little driftwoody things with a Christmas theme.

And then the plan went all to hell.

Stepmom planned for our swap meet debut to be at the tail end of summer, and in So. Cal. it's still pretty much summer at the tail end of summer. It's hot, and no one's thinking of Christmas yet. We were lucky to think of Christmas by December. And then she told me that in order to get a good spot at the swap meet we'd have to show up the night before and sleep in the car.

"We what?" I asked, totally perplexed. How could this be? A whole night alone with stepmom in our car? Was this part of some nefarious plot to drive me totally around the bend?

She firmly explained that in order to get a good spot, we'd have to show up early, and that meant the night before, and take our place in line, so when the swap meet opened in the morning we'd be sure of getting a good spot. The whole thing sounded bad to me, but I was already in, and it's not as if I could tell her no way, count me out.
The thought of spending a whole night alone with her in the car left me a trembling wreck -- what if she started in on me with complaints about my dress/behavior/skin/personality/shoes/appearance/manner/self? While this happened frequently enough, I could usually escape to my room shortly thereafter, or disappear into the forest, or something.

But alone in the car all night?

We packed the station wagon with our treasures and headed out to the swap meet, waving goodbye to dad and the boys, some of whom would drive out the next day to "help us out," which meant they'd show up to
make fun of our situation. There was already quite a line at the swap meet when we got there, and so we got in line, and we settled in for the night.

Is there anything more uncomfortable than spending the night sitting up in the car? I mean, really? Sure, it was a station wagon, but the rest of the car was packed with tables, chairs, supplies, and crafts.

We squirmed and we shifted and we sighed heavily. Every so often one of us would get up and go for a walk. Other swap meeters were roaming around too, and there were conversations going on, and laughter, and
tailgate parties. There is no privacy in the parking lot of an impending swap meet, which is one of my most favorite things.

There were none of my most favorite things that night. But we managed to get through it, and while it took entirely too long for dawn to break, that first hazy glimpse of the day was reassuring, and I knew that this hell would cease eventually.

We did not get a good spot at the swap meet. Even with showing up the night before, we did not show up early enough, and our space was in the back, in a little traveled area. We set up, and we got food from the snack bar, and we awaiting the opening of the swap meet, and after it opened we still waited.

The sun, while still low in the sky, was hot, and our Christmas driftwoods threatened to melt. I felt hung over, and stepmom was not her usual cheerful self. She hadn't taken the opportunity of having me captive to further erode my sense of self, which was no doubt contributing to her lack of interest -- she might have resented missing such a good opportunity. Stepmom considered improving me to be an important goal, though she rarely had hope that I'd become a productive member of society. She despaired of my condition, and I learned to despair of it right along with her.

The Dad and the brothers showed up, at least one brother, maybe more, and yet still there was nothing sold. I took Dad's presence as an opportunity to go off shopping for myself, and I returned with items of clothing that stepmom hated because, well, that was sort of my goal. She had hers, I had mine, and they weren't complementary.

We sat under the hot sun and we watched our Christmas driftwoods wilt. I'm not sure how the plastic of which they were made could wilt, but they did. They grew sadder as they realized how unwanted they were, and the occasional passer-by would say, "how cute," or "too soon for Christmas," or "where's the snack bar?" and there we sat, alone with our pathetic little driftwood creations.

We didn't wait until the end of the day to pack it all up and leave. We were tired and discouraged, and for me, a cut of nothing meant nothing.

Several days later, stepmom said, "We should do it closer to Christmas. I bet if we go back in November or the first part of December we'll do great."

I growled and left the room.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Two Minds About Mother's Day

It isn't difficult for me to be of two minds about anything, since I am a stereotypically confused approaching middle age (slowly, very slowly) recalcitrant authority challenged writer with no dog in this fight. 
Please don't ask me to explain that.
My mother isn't here for Mother's Day this year, nor for any future years. Well, she's not entirely gone, because though she's entirely dead, she'll always be with me, but it's not like I can send her a box of chocolates or some daisies, can I? I'm not even sure I can send her a card, though I do have her current address. I can't visit her on Sunday because she's in Southern California and I'm not, but when I do make it down there I promise Mom, really, I'll stop by for a visit. 
Sometime before I go visit Mom I need to go over to Montana to visit Mom's house and go through some more of her things -- apparently that's my job, so maybe later this month.
So there's that. I am motherless.
Well, that just sounds sad, doesn't it? But no, I say, no! I still have a mother. She's just  moved on to greener pastures. We'll talk on Sunday. 
Last week charming husband said, "We should go out on Mother's Day!"
We go out to eat every Sunday. Or Saturday. Sometimes both. And so us going out to eat on Mother's Day isn't anything we wouldn't do anyway. But since his mother is in Anchorage and therefore not able to go with us, it'd be just us.
Which is how we normally appear in public, so that should work.
If it weren't for the fact that I'd be thinking that everyone would be looking at us and thinking how nice it was that he took his mother out.
I'm told that the age difference isn't that apparent, but of course my friends are going to say that -- they're very good friends after all. And even people who are not yet my friends say that, but I'm certain they're angling to become friends too. And I don't feel like we're in totally different generations -- I've never acted my age, whatever that means.
But there is an age difference, and it is feasible that I could have a son his age, if I'd ever bothered with something like that, but I didn't. And sometimes I may look my age, which is probably nowhere near what you think it is.
Or is it?
The other day we were out looking at new houses, getting an idea of what we wanted when we get around it, and the sales rep turned to us and asked, "Are you planning on children?"
Really? As in, are we planning on seeing them in the streets now and then, should we move into this neighborhood? Are we planning on them coming to the door to sell us cookies/sponsorships/magazine subscriptions/candy? Why, yes, then I suppose so. 
Are we planning on propagating? Do I look like I'm anywhere near the age when that might have been possible? Really?
I laughed and said that I was pretty sure I'd missed that boat.
Still, Mother's Day is coming up, and I'm sure we will go out to eat, and if someone thinks, "How nice of him to take his mother out on Mother's Day," then that's not my problem, is it?
I'm trying to think of what is my problem, and I'm coming up with nothing.