Back in August, when I was mainlining xanax to get through the immense stress I was going through trying to get the fuck out of Louisiana, one of my buddies from work came to chill in my office for a while. I’ll call him “Habanero,” since he’s the biggest RHCP fan I know (besides LE MOI. DUH.).
So we’re listening to the chili peppers and chatting about random shit, and finally we get into Oregon and Portland. Finally landing somewhere around this paraphrased bit…
Habanero: Dude, so I heard you don’t know anyone up there. I laughed when P. Whipped told me that.
Me: arches an eyebrow
Habs: No fucking way. Friends? Family?
Me: Nah. I don’t have anyone up there. I don’t know why everyone is making such a big deal out of it. shrugs
Habs: laughs and leans back. The whole Pacific Northwest? You know…nada? Maaaaan, P. Whipped thinks you’re nuts. Hell, everyone does. But me? I envy you. You got some serious balls. What’s your plan?
I give him the gist of what I intended – which was to spend a week in an extended stay, during which time I’d find a place to rent and take whatever job I could find.
Habs: Listen, I know a guy.
Me: If this is gonna end with me dead in the desert or in a Mexican prison, I’m not interested.
Habs: Dude, I think I saw that one! ANYWAY. I know a guy: Jalapeño. Jalapeño and I grew up together, and he has family in Oregon. I’m gonna hit ’em up. They’ll let you crash for a couple weeks, while you get settled. I’m tellin’ you. They will.
Me: My eyes must have been big as saucers. This is something I normally would have put the kibosh on I-FUCKING-MMEDIATELY. Really, Habs? You think so?
Habs: I fucking know it. I’ll talk to Jala. We’ll sort it out; you’ll see.
Me: Dude, even if this doesn’t work out – you’re fucking awesome for even suggesting it. For thinking of me. Thank you.
Habs: Nah, you my homegirl. I can’t stand the idea of you going up there like that, with nobody at all. These people are cool. I mean, nice. Like. Nice as fuck. You’ll see.
Habanero didn’t contact them until around the last week of August…as in right at the last minute. But he wasn’t kidding. They took me in, showed me around, and now I’m renting a room from them.
It’s weird. And uncomfortable. Awkward as fuck.
And I’m tellin’ you, these people straight up act like they’re my folks. They’ve even introduced me that way once or twice, “This is Stephanie, the daughter we just met in September.”
They text me when they think I’m out too late.
They text me when they think I’ve been gone longer than whatever errand I’m on should require.
I do their laundry for them (sometimes).
I dogsit for them (often).
They drag me to family functions (after promising my presence and tricking me into going by telling me we’re doing SOMETHING ELSE ENTIRELY THEN WE SHOW UP TO A FUNCTION WITH SEVENTY PEOPLE).
They’re nice. And what I’m paying them in rent has enabled me to drag out the little bit I got back from the sale of the house…so that I can look for a job I actually want to pursue instead of settling for the first thing some agency could dig up for me. I had only been here a week when they approached me and asked me to stay. “The angels sent you to us. It was meant to be. We talked to our medium about you. She thinks you ARE an angel. Will you meet her with us?”
It’s interesting, alright.
And it’s a strange feeling. Being parented. At 36. After a lifetime of little to none of that.
They’ve taken me to the beach. They’ve taken me to restaurants my budget would definitely not allow. They gave me gifts at Christmas and cry and tell me they love me.
So I have to deal with some overbearing shit. So I have to deal with someone who may be at the beginning stages of dementia. So I have to deal with hugs and hovering and manipulation to spend time with them. So I have to listen to them repeat the same life stories over and over and over again for hours on end. So I have to deal with parents. Family.
I’ve also been given this two-fold gift of being able to take my time and pursue something better than “just a job.” And…as strange and uncomfortable as it is…it feels good, sometimes. To be depended on. To be…loved.
As grateful as I am, you’ll most assuredly get plenty of rants about how manipulative they can be. And how downright fucking mean-as-a-snake the man can be. But when I’m being fair, those times are few compared to how fortunate I’ve been and am right now. This is temporary – they both know that, though they’ve both also said they want me to stay for good. (Yeah, I’m serious. There’s obviously more I haven’t told in this little post: like how I think my very presence has acted as a balm for them and their loneliness, health problems they’re both dealing with, etc.) But I agreed to their rent proposition “for up to a year.” I’m not sure I can deal with the smothering that long, but hell. The way things are going, don’t ask me what comes next. I sure as hell don’t know.
Life is weird. And this new chapter book my life is writing is certainly no exception.
You vanished from the state. I didn’t know where you were.
But I never thought you’d delete me.
S: I thought this was Jane Doe’s number. I apologize.
M: It is but i dont recognize your number!
You fucking deleted me.
July __, 2015
M: Happy birthday
I wonder who identified my number for you.
It only took you two months to figure it out.
August 31, 2015
M: Would loue to see you sometime and hopefully restore our relationship i loue and miss you very much
S: We can get together sometime if you want. I don’t know where you are these days, so just let me know when you’re around. Maybe we can do lunch.
September 2, 1015
M: I Am free wed ? thur next week the 9th ? 10th pick where to meet ? time
S: How about Wednesday?
M: Wednesday is fine how about ____ right by me so i dont have to drive far
S: I’ll meet you there at 11:30.
September 9, 2015
M: R we still on for 11:30 tomorrow?
S: Yes. Still want to go to ___?
M: Unless u want to somewhere else doesnt matter
S: No, that sounds good to me.
I knew you had a motive. I knew it in my gut.
Sweet lady at work convinced me to do this lunch with you. You didn’t know that did you?
I didn’t want to come. I knew it was too good to be true.
I was right.
You thought I could get you a fucking job.
You wanted a favor. That’s why you reappeared.
I told you we were under a hiring freeze.
You cried crocodile tears, and spoke of a desire to reconnect.
I remained stoic, because I didn’t believe anything you were saying.
You said you wanted to renew our relationship.
I said I’d like that. I stuck my neck out and said I need you to call me.
You said you’d call me every week.
I wonder how long it will be this time, before I hear from you again.
October __, 2015
M: FWD: (baby picture) ____ (your brother’s) baby girl! I never knew they were expecting.
S: Thank you.
June 15, 2016
M: I loue and miss you so very much please call me sometime
I can’t fucking do this again.
June 16, 2016
M: Did something change since we met for lunch a while back?
S: No, that was nearly a year ago. I’ve come to terms with the way things are.
M: What’s that supposed to mean? I have tried everything i can possibly think of to restore a relationship with you not laying blame at all just doesnt seem u are interested i truly dont have a clue what i have said or done that you cant or wont forgive me for
S: I’m not sure why you brought blame into it, when I responded in a calm and non-accusatory manner. That’s interesting. What I meant was that you said you were going to start calling me once a week, because you said you wanted a relationship with me. That was almost a year ago now.
M: The last time i texted u about going to see (your brother’s) baby n i never got a reply back i just dont understand is all
S: I don’t see any texts like that in our entire conversation history.
M: Well i sent one after she was born about her baby shower
M: I wanted a relationship with you for a long time and i have tried repeatedly to make the effort but i cant do it alone
S: You never sent the texts you’re saying you did. I have the entire conversation history. You said you would stay in touch with me regularly, after I hadn’t even known what state you were living in for a very long time. But then I didn’t hear from you again until last October when you sent me a picture of a baby I knew nothing about. There was no invitation, and there has been zero communication after that. I don’t understand where this is coming from.
S: Why did you ignore me in the grocery store?
Fuck it. Let’s see you lie about this one.
M: Wow ok well i did send you the texts dont know why u didnt get them and i tried calling u all the time but u want to lie about it sorry i bothered you i give up goodbye
Ah, complete evasion, I see.
I’m glad you couldn’t see me.
I’m glad you couldn’t see me sobbing during this entire exchange.
I’m glad you didn’t see the ass-kissing texts I originally wrote and then deleted before sending.
I spent most of my life letting you guilt me and make shit up and put it all on me.
I always let you do it.
Now I see why.
I stood up for myself this time. I asked you to answer for some things you’ve done.
And now you’ve told me you’re giving up.
Every fucking time I try to heal, you do this.
Every fucking time. Just when I think I can move on without crying about you anymore…
You show back up and guilt me.
But this time I didn’t let you.
I won’t let you do this to me anymore.
I may not have had the nerve to type it out in text.
But I’ll say it here.
I never held you accountable for anything. The closest I could ever come to addressing these things with you was to cry and beg or else just harden myself a bit more, distance myself a bit more.
Would you like to know what I’d hold you accountable for, if I thought I could have a conversation with you – without it turning into evasion, denial and volleying blame back and forth?
No. Your answer is no. So I’ll tell you here.
Do you remember when I told you my marriage was ending? It took me months to tell you. Do you remember what you said? “I can’t believe you’re doing this to me and your mamaw.” Thanks for the support, mom.
Do you remember when I asked for your help? I hate asking for help. I never ask for help. I’m starting to realize why I became that way. I was having surgery. I stuck my neck out, asked for your help. Could you please take me in for surgery? Could you please help me get home after? Would you stay? Do you remember your response? “I can’t afford the gas.” I cried. I didn’t let you hear it in my voice, but I cried. I told you I’d pay for your gas, even though I was out of work at the time. You said, “Why don’t you drive over here after your anesthesia wears off, and I’ll make a pallet for you on the floor.” You lived three hours away at the time. You got offended when I turned the most generous offer down.
Do you remember telling me that I need to get over being molested by my father and his friends? I needed to get over what happened with my brother? He was a kid, too. I know damn well where he learned that from. Do you remember telling me, as I cried and shook, that I was too old to let “something like that keep you from a relationship with your father”? The same man who beat the shit out of you, burst your eardrum and brazenly bragged about his many conquests? The same man who had stood trial for attempted murder when he raped and beat the shit out of his “girlfriend”? The same man who was with his best friend the night his best friend murdered his parents and his little boy? I know they were together, because I was there. They got wasted together before disappearing. The next day, there was a manhunt for the best friend.
Do you remember?
I do. I remember that and a lot more.
For many years, I longed to have the kind of mother I thought I had in childhood. I longed for her to come back. I realize now I will never have her, if I ever did.
I’m sorry I can’t grovel and take the blame and subject myself to your untreated issues anymore. I’m sorry I can’t shoulder responsibility for everything you want me to. I’m sorry I can’t hang with your rollercoaster mood swings anymore.
I’m sorry I wasn’t good enough for you to stick around.
I’m sorry I was worthy of your goodbye.
So it’s my turn now. It’s my turn to say,
Sorry I bothered you.
I give up.
Moving across the country on a low budget is a royal pain in the ass. And the logistics of such are putting a mild damper on my excitement. It’s more epic frustration than woe is me bullshit.
I’m about as frustrated as a crackwhore without any crack or whorish shenanigans.
I’m about as frustrated as a woman in the throes of heightened sexual tension without a partner to take it out on.
I’m about as frustrated as a politician without a Lewinsky.
I’m about as frustrated as the CIA without a brothel.
I’m about as frustrated as. As. Uhm. As someone who is frustrated.
(I just reread this and realized most of the the frustration examples are sexual in nature. Don’t read into that, please. Or do. Either way, I’m gonna stop talking now. (Except I’m not. But it won’t be about sex anymore. Why would I talk about sex? This is a motherfucking clean blog, damnit. (Fuckin’ hell, I have sex on the brain. I’m human after all. Sexbrain is NOT HELPING, SO MOTHERFUCKING STOP IT, BRAIN. (I really should delete this ridiculous parenthetical that’s only making things worse. But I’m not going to. Because this is me. Hi. My name is Stephanie, and I have sexbrain. Hi Stephanie. Welcome, Stephanie. Keep coming back – it works if you work it!))))
It’s all a buncha bullshit. And there’s a whole lotta bullshit that has to be figured out and sorted.
Buncha Bullshit that has to be Figured Out and Sorted
Emotional Bullshit – Let’s get this bullshit outta the way first. My family sucks. Seriously, they can all go eat a giant bag of dicks. I don’t know where my mother is. She may or may not be in town. I’ve seen both her and my sort of grandfather at local grocery stores before. They both ignored me. Pretended I wasn’t even there. It’s no wonder grocery stores are currently my strongest triggers for acute anxiety. But the mother…is unreliable and an untreated bipolar. And she’s probably not even in the state anymore. Who knows. My siblings and my aunt (who was always my second-favorite family member – at least on that side of the family) won’t speak to me anymore, because I won’t “get over” the physical, emotional, psychological, sexual abuse and go to my so-called father’s side now as he lays dying.
So yeah. Fuck them. I’m not even gonna tell them I’m leaving. For all they know, I’ve been dead for years. Fuck. Them. Fuck. Them. Fuck. Them. And for all the Fuck Thems I type, there are a hundred more tears. Motherfuckers. Fuck Them for making me feel this way. Fuck them for throwing me out with yesterday’s garbage. Fuck Them. I don’t even love them anymore. Do I? Fuckin’ hell, I’ve gotten scary good at compartmentalization. Don’t get me wrong. I know I can’t run away from the damage they’ve done to me over the course of my life. (This is not about running away. This is about moving on to a place I’ve always wanted to be but allowed people to tell me no.) And though I can’t get them outta my head, I can get outta this town of pain and tangible memories.
Whew. There. That’s dealt with. Let’s move on to financial bullshit.
Financial Bullshit – I know I haven’t spoken about my (failed) marriage, and I don’t intend to go into details now. At this point, it’s not something I wish to speak of here. I bring it up now just to make a single point: I was unemployed when we separated. But I was the one left saddled with the entire mortgage and anything else that goes into the typical running of a household. Since he took half of the savings account, it didn’t take long for me to go through every cent as I looked for a job in a shitty economy and shitty area for good employment opportunities. By the time I landed something decent, aside from little temp jobs, I had about 200 bucks to my name. And I seriously thought I was going to go default on the mortgage. I didn’t. In fact, I’ve never missed a single payment. But what that means for me now? I don’t have savings. I have some cash stashed in a box where all of my tutoring cash goes. But it’s “nothing to write home about,” as the saying goes. I’m fine. I pay all of my bills (except the student loan one which I simply can’t pay at this point). And they’re paid on time. I don’t do without food, water, shelter, books, etc. So I work full-time for an enormous corporation, and I’m broke. But only when it comes to anything outside of the basics.
However, this does throw a big wrench into the logistics of moving across country. Do y’all know how much it would cost to hire a moving company to move one set of bedroom furniture, about twenty boxes of books, some dishes and a couple of chests? The lowest quote I’ve gotten thus far was about $3,500. Their competitors said $4,500. U-Haul would be about $1,700, but then there is mileage and fuel costs to consider on top of that. So. What it looks like I’ll have to do is drive myself up there with my cats and whatever I can fit in the car. Leave the rest in storage. And sleep on an air mattress in the tiniest, cheapest apartment I can find to start out in.
This also means that I can’t afford to let people at work know about this until the very last minute. Because I can’t afford to quit my job while I tidy up the house for the market and dig in deep on a job search in Seattle. It also means I can’t just move up there and find a job that way, because I’d have greater odds of landing something good if I were actually there. But I can’t do that.
Then there’s the question of where I’ll live in the interim.
Housing Bullshit – As the regular Peopleaneous know, I’m in the (lengthy) process of preparing my house to put on the market. This involves the ex, as his name is still on the deed. And the house is filled with a lot of his stuff. (Including the guns that I couldn’t get rid of, because they weren’t mine…and I did not want to deal with the explosion that would ensue if I’d gotten rid of them.) So. He’s been over a lot on weekends and evenings. Going through his stuff. Culling stuff. Fixing stuff (very very slowly) and occasionally sabotaging my efforts by doing shit like parking in the middle of the yard after days of heavy rain and rutting the fucker up. That will do wonders for the curb appeal. Fucking wonderful. Anyway. ANYFUCKINGWAY. This isn’t about him. And I said I didn’t wanna talk about him. And I don’t. So. The point is, this is lengthy.
And I have an issue that I don’t know how to resolve.
Issue the First: Selling the house is going to be difficult. First, the market it is in has done nothing but go down down down since I/we bought the place. Second, he never maintained things. And I wasn’t allowed to, in the sense that… No. No. I’m just gonna leave that there. I’m not going to make this about him. He used to be great, and then he lost his way. And then we both changed. I’m gonna leave it at that. Point is, the house wasn’t kept up. Things are broken. Things are damaged. Things have been neglected. Then the other day, the fucking city tore down a tree. Fucking ass sucking dickwhistles. And in the few years I’ve been there by myself, I was mostly so mired down in a bottomless pit of the darkest depression I’ve known. Too far down to even think it was worth getting out of bed to take care of the house. I was in total fuck you, fuck me, fuck the world, fuck the universe, fuck the house, fuck the job, fuck it all mode.
Issue the Second: What if the house sells before I land a job in Seattle? Does that mean I have to sign a 6-month contract on some apartment in town? That would make me lose a lot of money if I found a job just after moving. Plus, who the fuck wants to move twice?
Issue the Third: What if I land a job before the house sells? How do I finagle that? I can’t afford to rent property in Seattle while simultaneously paying a mortgage. Seriously, it’s not like I’m CEO material. I won’t be making that kinda money. So how does that work?
Which leads me to jobby bullshit.
Jobby Bullshit – Should I even be looking for jobs at this point? Is it premature? It’s premature, isn’t it? Wouldn’t it be foolish not to? Maybe someone out there thinks I’m worth waiting for. It’s possible, right? Or maybe I could land a job and let them know that when the house sells, I’ll need to fly back down for paperwork and shit. But that brings me back to the issue of rent plus mortgage. No can do, buckaroo. The good news is that I’ve secured three solid references. Two of you read this blog on occasion. Be good to me, fellas! Pretty please.
Oh, yes. More Jobby Bullshit. Another issue I’m having is that I’d like to pursue something that I may actually enjoy. Something with writing or editing would be fucking epic. I can even write without using “fuck” all the time. Promise. The problem is, my degrees are not in English or Journalism or any of those other “required” degrees for writing jobs. The problem is none of my work experience is writing related, aside from some freelance gigs on the side. The problem is, I don’t have writing samples to submit. And I sure as fuck don’t want any potential employers finding this spot: a. because of all the fucking that goes on around here and 2. because then I’d never be able to rant or vent about work!
But I don’t want to do the kind of thing I’m doing right now. And I also don’t want to do the whole Executive Assistant/Administrative thing. I’ve done it. I’m damn fucking good at it. But it’s no fun. It’s draining. It’s meaningless to me. And it makes me feel the time, my life, tick tick ticking away.
So I don’t know what to do. More specifically, I don’t know how to approach all of this. I’m sure there are other issues that I had in mind before I began this post. But I’ve been interrupted countless times because work. And also because my mind is in a dirty, dirty place right now. So it’s hard to focus. Anyway, this fucker is nearly 2,000 words already. Probably about 1,900 more than it really needs to be! But my name is not Concisephanie for a reason!
I would like to ask something of my dear Peopleaneous.
If there are any of you out there who have done this before and have a clearer vision on the logistics of something like this, please hit me up. I’d love some advice.
If there are any of you out there who have made major career switches without the official qualifications to do so, I’d love some tips there as well.
And if any of you are in Seattle and hiring, pick me! MEMEMEMEMEME!
In the meantime, I’m going to keep trudging forward. This is my year. I’m taking charge of my life. And I’m still holding on to Rollins’ words.
(Please forgive any egregious errors. I don’t feel like re-reading this right now. Ha! Some copy-editor!)
I’ve recently been playing little Q & A games with a fellow blogger. They’re fun and hilarious and enlightening. Sometimes they’re silly. Sometimes they’re serious. You should totally try it with a friend, relative or someone you’re supertotally digging.
But sometimes seemingly innocuous questions accidentally invoke deeper responses. The following question posed to me had such an effect:
What is your least favorite song?
I didn’t even have to think about it. I immediately replied,
“Push It” by Salt-N-Pepa.
He never asked why I chose that response. But someone else here knows the story and said I should share it sometime. I said “NOFUCKINGWAY AM I FUCKINGEVER DOING THAT. I’LL DIE A THOUSAND DEATHS BEFORE I’D EVEN CONSIDER IT.”
So here I am sharing that little piece of my history. Are you ready? It’s fucking nasty and terrible and traumatic and eyeburning misery. But apparently quite fucking hilarious from an outsider’s perspective. (Thanks a lot for laughing. You know who you are!) Let’s start with…
The Reason Why You Should Always Fucking Knock
So it’s like, what? 1989? 1990? That sounds about right, because given where we were living at the time, I had to be around nine or ten years old. Which puts my older brother at fourteen or fifteen.
The point is that this was the year of my doom. My life was ruined for fuckingever. Or at least for the rest of the week. Same difference. It has been twenty-fucking-five years, and I still cannot forget it. All because of a careless door opening and all the tits in the world descending upon my heretofore innocent little eyeballs.
I have no idea what I wanted. I really don’t. Hell, I may have even been being a nosy little sister. The music was blaring from my brother’s room. I figured he’s in there by himself, doing something he’s not supposed to be doing. Like those things he used to roll on my elementary school D.A.R.E. pamphlets, then admonish me not to tell mom. Or just listening to all that naughty music with the curse words that mom hated. Words like motherfucker and dick and pussy. I didn’t know what all that meant, except it was supposed to be bad bad bad and you’re going straight to hell if you even hear those words. And I’d heard a lot from my brother, so I knew I was doomed to burn in the fiery abyss for all of eternity and beyond. Of course I don’t hear, think or dare say words like that anymore. So maybe there’s some motherfucking hope for me yet.
I walk down the little hallway.
I turn the knob.
I open the door.
What had been seen would never been unseen. And I just knew I was going to frolic with Satan forever after this. No one could ever enter the pearly gates after witnessing…
The Tits That Sealed My Fate
My brother was in there, alright. But he wasn’t alone. There were tits all over the room. Wall to wall tits. I was drowning in tits. All I could see were tits. They were big and heavy looking. Thousands of them. Taunting me and my ruination. And the music of choice?
“Push It” by Salt-N-Peppa. Burned into my brain. Foreverandeverandfuckingeveramen.
The girl was curvy. Long, straight blonde hair. And completely topless. Totally naked on top.
She immediately covered herself, and I ran away crying. Seriously. Crying. Straight to the couch I went, curling up into a ball and sobbing. I didn’t really understand much at this point, but I knew it was bad bad bad. And it would definitely end in hell. My brother was going to hell. His friend was going to hell. And my eyeballs were most definitely going to hell.
But if I thought my torment was over, I was wrong. Woefully wrong. It had only just begun. What came next haunts me far more than the Bouncing Boobs of Babylon.
The Punishment to End All Punishments
My brother immediately followed me into the living room, followed shortly there after by Booby Betty. Thankfully she had put her top back on, at least one small act of mercy in my impending waterboarding musical torture.
He’d brought his little silver boombox and two cassette tapes. He pulled up a chair from the dining table, and the girl sat next to him, on the coffee table. They sat so close to me that I could smell their sin oozing through their pores. Fucking bastards.
First, he speaks to me in a soothing tone. But I’m still sobbing and refuse to roll over and face him. I kept my hands over my eyes, covering my face and my shame.
Then he starts shaking me and gets loud.
Steph! Look at me!
I’m not fucking kidding!
Turn over damnit and look at me!
I finally reduced my sobs to shaking sniveling snotty sniffles. I rolled over, and first he tells me I’d better not tell mom. And then he tells me how bad I was for not knocking. That this is all my fault, because I should have knocked. She wouldn’t even have been naked if I had knocked.
And then he tells me I need to be punished.
The girl looks uncomfortable, shifting on the table.
He pops the first cassette into the boom box.
And the lyrics of “Push It” blare out at full volume. Straight into my little skull. He played the song all the way through, singing along with it. Laughing. Yanking my hands away from my ears. Pushing me down when I tried to get up to leave.
When that was over, he wasn’t finished. I thought it was done, but no. The next hour of my life was complete and abject misery.
Never Sit on Your Sister and Punish Her with Music
He needed to make sure I was good and punished. And would never ever ever again forget to knock on the door.
He popped the next cassette in. One of 2 Live Crew’s.
He pushed play.
I tried to get up, to get away. I was sobbing my whole guts out.
Not so fast.
He got up and sat on the edge of the couch and held me down.
The girl started protesting on my behalf.
She was visibly uncomfortable and told him to stop.
He shut her up and told her I deserved it.
That fucker sat there and held me down through the entire album.
Then he finished it up by playing “Push It” once more.
By the end of it all, my ten-year-old little self was a devastated shambles. I felt guilt, shame, confusion, fear, sadness, all of it. I completely internalized the whole situation. I wish I could forget that day. It doesn’t haunt me like other things do. But damnit, that was a bad fucking day!
But lessons were certainly learned, my dear Peopleaneous.
The Moral of the Story is:
Always Fucking Knock. Or Ye Shall be Tormented ForFuckingEver by the Ghosts of a Thousand Tits. ~Buddha
Never Punish Thy Young Sister with Pornographic Music. ~Ghandi
Never Ever Ever Use Words like Motherfucker and Dick and Pussy. Or Ye Shall Surely Perish. ~Confucius
And when Someone asks You to Please Please Stop that Song, because You Just Don’t Understand, Please Entertain her Seemingly Silly Whim. For You will Only Truly Understand if You, too, have been Waterboarded Musically Tortured. ~Churchill
This little tale was an impromptu response to a fellow blogger’s prompt. He asked that I tell him a story. I asked what kind of story, and his response was “a fictionalized account of real life.” The following is the story I told him.
The house was situated a quarter mile back from the main road, though there was a straight shot from the front window to the traffic beyond. For the most part, people steered clear of the little house set apart.
It’s not that it wasn’t part of a larger community; it was. But the occupants never acclimated to the area, nor had the townsfolk ever warmed to them. It certainly didn’t help matters that the woman was a bit touched in the head. She could be spotted walking the sidewalks, muttering to herself, wringing her hands, her eyes glazed over as though she wasn’t focused on anything.
At least not on anything anyone else could see.
Following the general rules of communities such as these, the local gossips cast aspersions on the small family which consisted only of the woman and her three children: one boy and two girls. No one knew if the father was in the picture or if, in fact, the woman had simply conjured them up. Such can be the nature of small town gossip.
On the day of the Annual Harvest Festival, nearly all of the townsfolk gathered around the main square: bobbing for apples, getting face paintings of cornucopias and pilgrims, carving pumpkins, taking hayrides in old Farmer Wilkerson’s rig, the usual Harvest Festival activities taking place on Main Streets all across America.
All save The Spooks that is, which is what the townsfolk had taken to calling the little family that avoided social functions without fail. It was a relief, really, because people grew quiet, wary, fearful even when the family was around, say in the grocery or the little three room schoolhouse.
On this particular day, the woman was out on the porch, rocking rocking rocking in her chair. She stared out at nothing.
At least not anything anyone else could see.
The boy and the younger daughter had wandered off to the nearest neighbor’s orchards to relieve the leaf strewn grounds of their sweet apples and tart pears. The elder girl was in the back of the house, taking a bath.
She locked the door before getting undressed, as anyone with an older brother is wont to do. Stepping into the bath, the hot water turned her pale skin a deep shade of pinkish red. As steam fogged the mirror over the sink, her ever-present anxiety elevated. Thoughts of Bloody Mary and other schoolhouse nonsense flitted through her mind. But she cast them away and commenced washing. She was a bit hurried in her actions now, though.
The house was quiet. Too quiet. The others were gone, but the mother should have begun preparations for dinner by now. Wringing out her washcloth over and over, squeezing it along her arms and upper body, the girl rinsed and prepared to finish her bath.
And then it happened.
She gripped the washcloth so tightly that her fingernails dug painful crescents into her palm. Mouth agape, she watched as the knob on the bathroom door slowly, silently twisted. First all the way to the right. Then all the way to the left.
The lock was still in place. This shouldn’t be happening. It’s simply not possible.
She held her breath and was struck by the fact that there were no sounds at all as the knob turned again and again, moving slowly as through molasses.
She finally found her voice and called out, “James!? Caroline?! Mama??” No one responded to her calls, but the knob slowly ceased it’s turning.
Cautiously rising from the now tepid bathwater, the girl wrapped her dripping body in a ratty towel and tiptoed toward the door. Heart pounding at her rib cage, she unlocked the door and jerked it open.
Eyes wide, she clutched her hand to her chest and backed into the bathroom.
When James and Caroline returned with potato sacks full to bursting with their contraband, Mama was nowhere to be found.
The worried duo found their sister wearing Mama’s nightgown and slowly rocking in Mama’s rocking chair on the porch. Try as they might, they could get nothing out of her.
The girl’s eyes had glazed over, and she muttered unknown words in a barely perceptible whisper. Ceaselessly wringing her hands, she stared off at nothing.
Or at least not at anything anyone else could see.
So I believe Part 1 left off with mere Attempted Squirrelicide. Today, dear readers. Oh, today we get right into the thick of it. Attempted is for weenies. We’re talkin’ full-on Squirrelicide now. Don’t even bother hiring a detective, because I’m about to confess.
Squirrelicide in the First Degree
I was sixteen or seventeen when I went on my first hunting foray. (I may as well go ahead and tell you it was also my only hunting foray. Consider that a preview on how things went.) I didn’t care about hunting, but being out in the woods early on a weekend morning sounded lovely. So, even though I thought camouflage was stupid (still do – suck it), I donned someone’s spare camo and tagged along with my boyfriend. He wanted to go squirrel hunting, and he wanted me to go with him.
Sure, let’s do this thing.
We get out into the woods, and he’s being all manly protector and shit. I’m walking along the well-trodden path when Mr. Boy Scout practically unhinges his arm to stop me in my tracks.
Snake. There was a snake. Not a venomous snake, mind you, which he himself acknowledged. No matter, his girlfriend’s life dignity was at stake.
So he murdered the snake.
And I cried.
That was sign number one that we should have turned back.
About halfway through our trek, we come across a deer stand. He told me what it was and who it belonged to. I pointed to the knee-high mound of food and asked what it was. “That’s deer feed,” he said, “to lure the deer.” I’m sure you can guess my reply: “Are you fucking serious? That hillbilly dickwad motherfucker LURES them here?” I even quoted My Cousin Vinny. The part about the happy little deer putting it’s little deer lips to the cool water to drink, and:
Oh yeah. Then he explained the stench I was smelling came from the deer musk/urine sprayed all around the place to lure them and mask the scent of humans.
I was livid. And though he was highly amused,
That was sign number two that we should have turned back.
But we didn’t turn back. The rest of the trek was pleasant enough. Enjoying the cool autumn weather. The trees. The chirping of the birds. Learning to recognize animal tracks and hiding spots. It was a pretty cool morning, aside from the murder and mayhem.
We finally settled into a thick copse of trees, squatted down with our weapons and listened. Watched. Observed. Felt. So far, so good. I was cool with all of that, and was pretty good at spotting shit, too.
I had done some target practice a week or so prior – but it didn’t take much. I was actually really fucking good at it. I remember he was strangely proud of that – at least he wasn’t one of those weirdos who get jealous about that sort of thing.
So yeah, when I finally spotted a squirrel I deemed close enough, I didn’t even say anything – I just went for it. I was using this little .22, and I think I was too far away. (At least that’s what I was told in attempts to comfort me afterward.) After I shot, the squirrel fell from the limb he was on.
And we never found him.
We searched for hours, because I was insistent and at least mildly hysterical. But we never found him. I cried. Nay, I fucking sobbed. He was beside himself, first laughing and then desperate to calm me down. He swore the shot would have spread, and the squirrel was probably fine or we would have gone straight to him. But I was inconsolable; all that could be done was to leave and let me put it behind me.
But I never really did. Put it behind me, I mean. Though I was done crying by the time we emerged from the woods, I’ve never forgotten that day. And I’ve never believed that squirrel came out unscathed. He either died that day or ended up in hospice care.
I never forgave myself, and I never went hunting again.
The Three Stooges: A Shot at Redemption Ends in Triple Squirrelicide
That next summer – same boyfriend – he brought three baby squirrels home. The tree they were living in had been cut down, and the mother abandoned them. So he brought them to me. By now, he knew damn well what a bleeding heart I was. I was ecstatic! But I also had no idea how to take care of tiny baby squirrels.
I thought I did the right thing. I really did. I took them to a veterinarian. (I mean, I also used the Internet. What, Alta Vista at the time? Dogpile? But there wasn’t much information available.) The veterinarian sold me some kitten milk and an eye-dropper feeder (and a bottle for when they got bigger) and told me to keep them warm. Feed them every two to three hours, he said, and keep them warm with a rice sock heated in the microwave.
I was so careful with those little things. I had them tucked into a small box, with a fluffy towel and the rice sock. I always held it against tender spots of my skin first to make sure I wouldn’t burn the Three Stooges. That’s what I named them: Larry, Curly and Moe. And I fed them carefully and regularly.
Larry died first. First and fast. Almost right away, really. God, I was a wreck. I opened up the little box in the middle of the night, for a nighttime feeding and to re-warm the sock. And he was curled up there, lifeless. I was heartbroken. The boyfriend took care of burying him for me. I insisted Larry be buried.
Moe was next. He lasted a couple of weeks before giving up. He stopped eating, I think. I do remember calling the vet on his account. And he told me that all I could do was keep them warm and feed them regularly. Oh yeah, and I was also wiping them with a warm damp cloth to help them pass waste.
But it wasn’t enough. Moe didn’t make it. But I knew for certain Curly was solid. He made it several weeks. And he even got big enough to ride around in my breast pocket.
It just wasn’t to be. And I was absolutely shattered when I came home from work one day, and the boyfriend told me Curly had died. I know now that I should have sought the advice of another vet. But at the time, I trusted that particular one. He took care of the boyfriend’s dog, so he was like their family vet. But I know now that poor Curly was most certainly malnourished. He wasn’t large, not even fully juvenile. He was still a baby. But he had certainly graduated beyond the basic nutrition found in kitten milk.
I was devastated. And when the boyfriend found yet more baby squirrels some time later, he had the presence of mind to call me first. And I asked him to please not bring them home. I couldn’t go through it again.
So uhm. Yeah. That one wasn’t funny. My bad. But it did result in yet more squirrel funerals. It strikes me that I have a disproportionate amount of squirrel funerals in my life, as compared to…ahem…normal people.
And I can add Serial Squirrel Murderer and Stooge Slaughterer to my rap sheet. Oh hell, I got a rap sheet? Holla!
Additional Squirrellaneous Encounters
Far more recently (that shit happened when I was a teenager, remember?), I tried befriending my squirrels. The ones that live here. In my trees. And I love watching them play and roughhouse with each other. So I tried to befriend them.
Last year (that was last year wasn’t it?), I visited The Peanut Depot while I was checking out Birmingham, Alabama.
Seriously, if y’all are ever in Birmingham, you need to hit up the Peanut Depot. (And what the fuck is the matter with you if you’re grown and American and haven’t been to Birmingham? That’s an important city, and you need to go. You been told.)
Aaaanywho, I bought an assload of peanuts. The guy behind the counter flirted with me. I know, because I don’t get flirted with, and homeboy didn’t even try to hide it. But he also wanted to know just what the hell I was gonna do with all those peanuts. I bought a 2 lb. burlap sack of each kind (regular, salted and Cajun). And, he was right. What the fuck was I thinking?
Once I got home and realized the error of my ways – I mean what on earth was I gonna do with sixteen zillion peanuts? I tried to share them at work, but who wants peanuts? Though, I did keep a small nutsack of my own in my drawer. (Hehehe, this woman told me about her nutsack at work. I totally should have called mine that. If you haven’t made her acquaintance, you should. She’s delightful.)
So, I hatched a plot to befriend my squirrels. First I laid peanuts around the trees in the front, like little Easter eggs. It didn’t take long for them to find ’em. I’d peer out my window at them, watching one chow down and the other stuff his furry little cheeks and haul ass up the tree. Probably plotting to use them as soggy, nutty projectiles. No matter.
After a few days of this, I began sprinkling them in the yard. And then leading a path to the porch. I spied the two regulars munching on the porch a couple times. But this didn’t last. Oh no.
Because those fucking bastard assholes tore up my yard!
I told those motherfuckers I had enough peanuts to last a lifetime of winters. But nooooooooo, they had to dig! And you wanna know how I found out? Hmm? I couldn’t see the holes because of the copious amounts of pinestraw. But I was out there one day, feeding the sons of bitches and twisted my ankle in a squirrelhole!
So, like the Soup Nazi, I shouted (seriously, I shouted) NO PEANUTS FOR YOU! (I’m sure my neighbors find me positively delightful.) Then I called them bastards. No good dirty rotten scoundrels. I shook my fists at them up in the trees. They didn’t dare mock me, not til I went inside. But never again would I spoil those little bastards. Now they’ll have to be content with munching on acorns and my roof. Assholes.
I’ve had lovely encounters with the mountain squirrels of Washington, Montana, Wyoming…they liked to climb on me and check my pockets. You know what? That does it! Fuck these local squirrels. I’m moving! I know, I know…it’s only a matter of time before even the mountain squirrels turn on me.
It’s time for me to bust out the water hose and tear some ass up.
Oh my gosh, this is how it all began. Mr. Smith’s struggles were real. I see it all so clearly now. I’ll fight them in your honor, Mr. Smith! I’ll take no prisoners!
Did you know it was you who taught me? I bet you don’t know that, even though I told you so. You taught me so much:
how to smile through abuse
how to laugh in spite of pain
how to remain gentle in stormy seas
You sent me out into the world believing that it was worth enduring misfortune and pain, poverty and abuse. And so I smiled. I was such a happy child, even when my heart was heavy and I was stricken with fear and doubt. I had such a gentle and giving spirit, a ready smile for anyone. Everyone. You remember, don’t you? How I had such a hard time steering clear of strangers? It took me a little while to learn that people don’t mean well after all.
But wait, you didn’t teach me any of that, did you? When did you smile? When did any smile ever reach your eyes? When were you ever playful or joyful or ebullient? You weren’t, were you? And I forever battled your demons because you wouldn’t. No, you gave up ages ago. Before you even had us, I suspect. You know what you taught me?
how to keep it all in
how to withdraw from the world
how to lose faith
how to criticize myself and everyone else
how to hide my ideas, my mind
how to deny myself
how to submit
how to give up
Why are you so damn happy all the time?
Stop smiling so much. There’s nothing to smile about.
But we’re alive, aren’t we?
Who cares if we’re alive? Everything hurts. My back hurts. My feet hurt.
At least you have feet. (I meant it so sincerely when I said things like that to you. But you you hated it. You said it was cruel. That I was being intentionally cruel. That it’s useless to try cheering you up. Remember?)
Whatever. I’m sick to death of cleaning up after you people. I sacrifice Everything, and Nobody cares.
Whatever. Leave me alone. I’m going to bed.
I followed you to bed, putting my sister on my lap. I’m a ventriloquist now, and she’s my dummy. I used your eyeliner and lipstick to draw on her face to make her look the part.
We put on a show for you. I’m in full form now, laughing, cutting up, being a smartass. Telling jokes and making faces.
You’re laughing! It’s working! You’re crying… Oh no, now you’re crying again.
You’re so sweet. You were always so sweet. And funny. How’d you get to be so funny?
Leave me alone now. I’ll be okay. Don’t worry.
You better not have ruined my makeup. And wash your sister’s face.
(Rolling over in bed now, facing the wall.) Goodnight.
I hugged you and kissed you, anyway. And I begged you to be okay. Please cheer up, mom. We love you. Doesn’t that matter more than anything?
But I did tell you to leave me alone.
Wash your sister’s face.
How many days and nights did we repeat some variation of this until I gave up? I couldn’t fight your demons alone. I needed your help. How many times did you watch me sobbing for you, begging you to talk to me. Play with me. Read with me. You said I’d be better off just forgetting about you. How could you say that?
And how dare you for getting angry when I did give up trying to fix you. And how dare you for abandoning me. Yes, you taught me much.
I was such a happy little asshole. That’s what I was to you, wasn’t it? The little asshole thorn in your side who just wouldn’t quit fucking smiling no matter what life threw at her. Did you ever stop to think that I smiled for you? It doesn’t matter anymore. I was always the happy little asshole to you. The one who had the nerve to smile in the face of adversity. The one who dared ask you to be a mother.
Just do me a favor, would ya? Don’t come back. Don’t. I can’t do it again.
To the little girl that broke my heart and my nerve: do you know how long it took for me to work up the nerve to approach you? You looked so lonely and sad. And I was so shy. But we were both alone at recess, and I wanted to help you. I needed to make you smile.
Do you know how long it took for me to work up the nerve? How difficult it was? How my heart lodged in my throat as I approached you? How much courage it took for me to ask five little words of you in the softest voice? Will you be my friend?
Do you know what it did to me when you replied,
and walked away?
My little soul was crushed. I cried so very much. Do you want to know something else?
That was the last time I ever approached anyone. That was the last time I ever made the first move.
I know, now, that you were probably hurting at least as much as I was, if not more. But my little heart couldn’t see past the pain then.
To Marshall: I’m sorry I never worked up the nerve to approach you. To tell you that I knew it was you. I recognized your handwriting. On the Secret Admirer card. But I had already lost trust and faith in people. I thought it was a joke, you see. A scam. I learned later that I hurt your feelings, ignoring your gesture.
To the boy at the dance: I didn’t even want to be there. I had been forced to go. People were starting to worry…at my lack of friends and growing social anxiety. I had been made fun of far too much by now, and I couldn’t. I wanted to trust you, when you asked me to dance. But I couldn’t. I just knew it was a joke. So I went inside and stuffed my face until the party was over. That’s the first time I remember medicating with food.
Why did you ask me why I smile? Every day, at least once a day? You were a grownass woman in her forties. Why do you feel a need to rob a teenager of her smile?
Every day I smiled and greeted you with a happy countenance and hope for a good day. And every day, you shot me down. Confronting me in angry tones,
Why are you so happy?
I mean, really. Look at you. What do you have to be so happy about, anyway?
I woke up this morning.
Would you rather I told you, “This is my mask, and it helps me get through the day”? I suspect you would have liked that, to know that I shared a fraction of your misery. But no, I was too busy trying.
It took me a couple of years, but I finally stopped. Smiling at you. You didn’t deserve my smiles. But then, one day, I started smiling at you again. Out of spite. Because fuck you, that’s why.
And again, I was the Happy Asshole.
Thanks, Marie. For reminding me of her.
Dear James and Everyone Else I hurt in Jr. High & High School,
You told me one day, later on in high school, that I had been a bitch to you. I’m sorry. I really am.
I was afraid of you. I didn’t trust you. I never did. And I still didn’t. Hell, I still wouldn’t. Even now. I had been bitten so many times by then, that I used meanness as a defense mechanism. To keep people as far away from me as possible.
But at least I started smiling again. Greeting you. Refusing to take my pain and inner turmoil out on you and everyone else.
Thank you, for being so honest with me that day. I needed that dose of awareness. It hurt to know that I’d been hurtful. I’ll never forget it.
Please allow me – and anyone else – the right to be down sometimes. Please don’t beat me with your happy stick and try to force your idea of happiness on me.
You see, I’m fighting really hard. No, I mean it. Really fucking hard. To lift myself out of this funk. It’s a daily battle, and a tough one. And while I’m thankful for words of encouragement and positivity, it hurts when you’re dismissive. As though I don’t have the right to be down because it offends you.
I understand now, why it hurt my mother for me to say things like, “well, at least you have legs!” But I was a child, and I didn’t realize it was dismissive of her pain. I thought I was being encouraging, but all she heard was “your pain isn’t valid.”
So be encouraging of each other. Be positive. But try not to be so fucking militant about it. Just as my depression isn’t an attack on you, your positivity shouldn’t be an attack on me.
Live and let live and Kumbaya, and all that.
You’re at risk of no longer being the Happy Asshole, but instead just an asshole. And if that happens, they win. Is that what you want?
So keep smiling at work. Keep saying goodmorning to the world and all its inhabitants. Keep telling off-color jokes and being a raging smartass. It’s fun. It makes people laugh, and it cheers you up to do it.
Don’t let them destroy the last remaining vestiges of you.
Cling to life. Cling to joy, even if you can only find scraps of moments here and there. Those scraps count. Those scraps matter. Those scraps are what keep you coming back for more.
You matter. You probably won’t think so in the morning. Or even an hour from writing this.
So keep reminding yourself. And try to believe people when they say nice things about you.
Don’t be an asshole. It’s no fun without the happy.
Today sucks ass. Seriously. In other news, it also blows.
I have a headache from hell. And I’ve also crashed hard from whatever high I was on last week. I’m back to hating the world and, more specifically, myself.
It’s a combination of things, I’m sure. For once, I felt dread building as the weekend drew to a close. That’s simultaneously a good thing and a bad thing. Good because it means I was dreading the right thing – work – instead of how I usually dread being alone with myself on the weekends. Bad because there’s nothing I can do about it. At least not so long as I need to work in hell. I mean Corporate America.
But it’s not only work. I can also feel the onset of holiday blues. Like what seems to be the majority of people, this used to be my favorite time of year.
Not so anymore. No.
What used to be my favorite holiday and day of the year – Thanksgiving – is now a day to dread. Spending Thanksgiving alone is not something to envy, peoplleaneous. No matter how hectic or stressful your holiday with family and friends may be, please…I implore you…please never tell one of us who spends it alone that we’re lucky. Please don’t do that. Because the last thing in the world that it feels like is a stroke of good fortune.
Last year, I cooked. For the first time in a while, I did it up. Big ass turkey, cornbread dressing, pecan pies…the works. It was a great diversion while the preparations lasted, which I managed to drag out for a few days. But it was bittersweet, of course. Things like that are meant to be shared. And though I have much to be thankful for, it’s difficult to dredge those reasons up during the ultimate season of family and togetherness.
Christmas was never great for me. It was usually a time spent in stark reminder of our poverty, as children. Mother’s palpable depression and feelings of failure, vociferously lamented. Sister whining and begging for things. Brother stealing any things he wanted but didn’t receive. Me in the middle trying to soothe broken spirits and remind them of what the holiday is supposed to be about. It never worked. I can only remember two Christmases that weren’t like that, but it was still there. In the background. Until everyone just say fuckitall and stopped getting together.
And now. Years later. They’re getting together, alright. Only…I’m no longer invited. In fact, I was informed that I’m specifically uninvited. Because I won’t can’t seem to forgive him. The one I’m supposed to call father.
November has arrived, and it’s all anyone wants to talk about today. At the office. November. Thanksgiving preparations. Gift buying. Black Friday plans. Pinterest recipes.
Yeah. It’s official. I’m back on the downswing, and I’m sad. I mean, really fucking sad. Wishing I hadn’t woken up this morning sad. Angry and Anxious and Depressed and Aching from arthritis and fibro (I mean what the fuck is that, anyway). Woo. I need to shut the fuck up with this whining and find something to do.
I’m gonna write about anime later, I think. Because it’s slow at work, and my brain desperately needs diversion.