Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Texas

Our house in Texas was off of something called a Rural Route. I can’t remember the numbers now but it was always fun to say “turn right off the freeway on to Rural Route such and such.” Cibolo is a small town. I was recently asked to point it out on a map only to discover that it didn’t even warrant a dot until you got to the blown up insert map of San Antonio and surrounding areas. Even then it was just the tiniest of dots. I think when I lived there it had between 600 and 700 people. I believe now they are up 1000+. Progress y’all! It’s funny because if you look at the demographics for my hometown there is almost no one there in my age group. Mass exodus.

There really is a Volunteer Fire Department. One of the Lieutenants lived next door to us. He was divorced also and had two children that stayed with him every weekend and all summer long. Their mother lived in “the City”, which in our case meant San Antonio. His son had Down Syndrome and was in a wheel chair, one of those motorized kinds. The daughter was spoiled – I have a feeling that her brother got most of the attention and so she acted out because of it. It must have been noticeable enough for me to notice it, and remember it, as a child.

I went to J. Frank Dobie, except then it was called an Intermediate School and housed 5th and 6th grades together. When I moved to California for the 7th grade they actually wanted to put me forward a grade. That’s the difference in the Texas public school system and the California public school system. Our school had stairs but no elevator. This is significant because I got thrown from my horse once because a bird flew under his stomach and it startled him. Because I was young and foolish, and also because I fancied myself quite a good rider, I wasn’t paying attention at the time and I didn’t have my feet properly in the stirrups. As a result when Chief bolted I came out of the saddle but my one boot was stuck so I was holding on desperately to the rear of the saddle trying to get my foot out of my boot (I was riding English) before I got kicked to death. I really screwed up my ankle when it came free and I fell (but I didn’t get trampled – yay for small miracles!) and I had to have crutches for several weeks. Stairs and crutches are an awful combination.

As I’ve mentioned before, the area I grew up in was mostly military. There were / are 3 Air Force bases in the area, Lackland, Randolph and Brooks, in addition to the Army’s Fort Sam Houston. My mom was working as a civilian at Fort Sam, her best friend (who lived just down the street from us) worked at Randolph AFB. Almost ALL of my friends were military brats like me, a few were locals – small town born and raised. Some had been there for generations.

In my class we had the preacher’s daughters from two different churches, the town mechanic’s son, the grocer’s kids, the Sheriff’s daughter (she was one of my “best” friends), assorted policeman’s and fireman’s kids, the dentist’s daughter and the doctor’s son (who were “going together”) and the guy who owned the Dairy Queen’s daughter. It was truly the epitome of small town life.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Praying Mantis*

The heat makes me home sick. Granted a 100 degree afternoon here in California isn’t quite the same as a 100 degree afternoon in Texas or Mississippi once you throw in the humidity but something about it always makes me nostalgic. Maybe it’s because we don’t have truly HOT days around here too often? I think it’s the combination of a lot of things - Father’s Day, TheBoy’s and my anniversary coming up (5 years next week), the heat, all the weddings… I am so homesick right now I can hardly stand it. It’s almost a PHYSICAL feeling, an ache, something missing.

Last night TheBoy and I decided it was entirely too hot to stay in our second floor apartment another second so we wandered downtown and decided to have dinner at a relatively new Mediterranean restaurant we hadn’t yet had the chance to try. We sat outside, shared a couple of dishes, drank some wine (me) and Greek beer (him) and I told him stories of all the things I missed about living in the South…

~ The food. Comfort food. Making things from scratch… People were defined by things there. We had a neighbor who made the best peach pies in the county. It was a fact. There was a restaurant in town with homemade biscuits that were SO flaky. Chicken fried steak, crisp fried okra, collard greens, black eyed peas, cobblers made with berries and peaches picked just that morning. Jam was an art. Cornbread and sweet tea were served with just about everything. Food was about… nurturing. My memories of food from and the South somehow are separate from all issues with calorie counting and portion control and nutrition.

~ The pace. Life moved slower. I get too caught up here in rushing around and traffic and deadlines and the sheer masses of humanity that exist in the Bay Area… I need to learn to take more time. Breathe.

~ Sunday afternoons. Growing up I always went to church on Sunday. My father always went to some sort of Pentecostal Non-Denominational type church and my mom would alternate between the Southern Baptists and the Methodists (when those Baptists got too crazy for her!). I’m not going to get in to my relationship with God here because that would take a whole LOT of time but as a child I loved church. I loved getting dressed up in my Sunday dresses and going to Sunday School. I loved the stories of Jesus and the craft times and the singing. After church there would always be a big lunch, sometimes a restaurant but most often a BBQ in someone’s backyard or a picnic at a park. In Mississippi we’d head down to the river. There I would change out of my dress and run around and play and climb trees and get dirty and just generally be carefree. In the late afternoon we’d all take a nap, even the adults. Lazy Sundays in the South.

~ Feeling safe. I used to ride my bike in to town to get ice cream on Saturday mornings with my friends. At 10. We’d be gone ALL DAY. I used to walk every where, between friends houses, to the country club where the pool was, to the Circle K for a soda, out by the fire lane to explore, alone… It never occurred to me to be worried. My mother used to do the same thing. I don’t think it occurred to her either. And yet now I won’t even walk the 30 feet from my car to the door of my apartment without consciously scanning the area to see who is there and making sure I have my purse held tight and keys in hand. I even own pepper spray! I don’t know if I want kids but if I did I would want to raise them some place where they could have the same feeling of safety that I had growing up.

~ I think the rest of the things we talked about could just be lumped under “small town life”. I miss volunteer fire departments – I remember all the husbands and fathers on our street belonged to one and that I always thought one day *my* husband would be Captain. I was always one to aim for the top. I miss knowing the name of the people who owned the grocery store, the local diner, the gas station. Or I suppose, more importantly, I miss having those people know me. Know my mama. That’s one of my favorite Southern greetings, “How’s your Mama and them?” It just seems so personal. I miss County Fairs; or rather I miss it being cool to go to County Fairs. I miss dances at city hall and things of that nature, spaghetti feeds hosted by the 4H from the High School, High School football games on Friday nights. Community.

Yep – there is that ache again. I think I’ll go out and enjoy some of this heat on my lunch break. We’re due for 90 – 100 degree temps for the next several days. I’m loving it!



*In case you are wondering at the seemingly totally random title to this post… I did mention that the one thing I DON’T miss about the South is the bugs. Namely the fact that the bugs are HUGE there! But then as I was sitting there thinking about it I realized that I do miss Praying Mantis (Praying Manti?) They used to fascinate me as a child. In fact I vividly remember sitting on a parking wall outside of church in Mississippi as a child on Sunday TALKING to a Praying Mantis… I was an only child y’all. Cut me some slack.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Flood

I had no idea that trying to write something for Father’s Day would open the proverbial flood gates. But open them it has. And not just about Jim, but about home and the South and small town living and who I really am and who I want to be and… Are y’all ready for this? Because I’m not sure I am! Seriously. I’ve been writing. Some here… Some in a journal at home. I’m not sure yet which things I’ll post and which I’ll just save for me because it turns out I’m not as brave as I thought I was. I truly admire the writers out there (Laurie, Purl, Kristi – I’m looking at you – there are others) who put themselves, their whole selves, into their writing. It feels honest. I wish I had that! But sometimes I sit down and I write and pour out my thoughts and then I go back and read it and think… Crap! Am I THAT angry? Or… Maybe it just comes out a little more vulnerable than I’d like?

Last night I had TheBoy pull down my storage boxes from the garage in hopes that some of my old photo albums would be in there. I had a mind to scan and post my “Mary Lou” photo from yesterdays post. And also, I can’t bring to mind the exact details of my father’s face. I just have a fuzzy image of reddish hair, ruddy cheeks – looks not unlike my own. Growing up everyone would say to my mom, “she looks just like you!” She would always respond, “no – you should see her father.” As I get older I see more and more the similarities in my mother’s face and mine but I know I look a lot like Jim. Last night, for whatever reason, I just could not go on without seeing his face. Unfortunately, the boxes did not contain the albums I was hoping for. I’m wondering if my mother has them or if I really did throw all those photos out in a fit of anger several years ago.

But I did find a few photos. I thought I’d save them to post when I got to writing stories that fit the time frame but I keep finding myself looking at them. These were taken the weekend I graduated high school. The man in these photos is a stranger. His face is not the one I went searching for last night. By the time these pictures were taken I had not seen him in over 6 years. I have not seen him since, 9 years this month. I suppose if I squint I can see the man I called “Daddy” in these photos… His hair was redder, his face thinner, the glasses were similar, he almost always had a mustache, I don’t recall the beard. The picture at dinner is more familiar (he's the one on my left - the couple on my right in my mom and Al). You can see the emotional distance between us in the picture at Pier 39.





And just for fun… Here’s a picture of me and Al, my step-dad, from the same weekend. He’s awesome.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Daddy's Girl

I wasn’t always estranged from my father.

In fact, I used to consider myself quite the daddy’s girl. I was also a grandpa’s girl – but that’s a whole other story. I always just thought I got along better with the men in my life. Heh. My parents divorced when I was very small. I don’t remember them married, I know that when I was two I went to live with my grandparents for the summer while my mom got back on her feet after the divorce. All the details of selling the house, moving and switching jobs (she was still working for the military then) were a lot to handle with a toddler. Throw a divorce into the mix and… Well I suppose it was just easier. She said that was one of the loneliest times of her life.

Anyway, I remember my father being a part of my life when I was young. He rode a motorcycle and I had a seat on the back and a tiny helmet. We drove to my daycare / pre-school on this road that had an underpass. Small things. His apartment complex had a pool. In fact, that is a recurring theme – he and I shared a love of the water. He wore a mustache and had those 70’s style brown tinted sunglasses. Ruddy cheeks like mine.

Sometime before I started school my father relocated to Mississippi, where he remains to this day. (I know he’s still there because I did a Google search for him and found the white pages listing for him and his current wife. I’m human.) I went out to live with him in the first grade but I had been out there to visit before. I’m fuzzy on the timing… He was remarried at this time. Wife number three (my mother was number two – that’s also a whole other story), her name was Connie, and short of my mother she was my favorite of his wives. We actually got back in touch several years ago but have lost touch again.

That year in Mississippi was probably the best and worst year of my childhood. I remember feeling conflicted – though I didn’t understand that’s what I was feeling. I would be so elated to be with my daddy and yet… Somehow it wasn’t right. I missed my mom terribly but I was desperate for her to think things were great because I didn’t want to leave. I remember feeling guilty for thinking maybe I loved my dad more than my mom? How could I have thought that at so young?

I did horribly in school that year. I had my own special desk outside of the classroom because I was constantly in trouble. There was a woman across the street that had three daughters and would watch me after school but she ignored me for the most part and I was terribly jealous so I bit her daughter HARD, the one closest to my age, one day in the van on the way home from school. I drew blood. The woman spanked me and then dropped me off at the house and refused to watch me anymore. I didn’t care. I just wanted to spend time with daddy. I remember not understanding why I had to go to school and why he had to go to work. I remember resenting Connie. Until she bought me a dog. Then I remember thinking she wasn’t so bad.

Was that the year Mary Lou Retton won the gold in the Olympics? I ask because there is a picture of me in my Team USA gymnastics leotard outside of our house there in Pearl posing. Just like Mary Lou. She was my hero. I don’t even know where those pictures are anymore… I hope I just boxed them up and stored them. I have a sneaking suspicion I may have thrown them away.

After that year was over I moved back with my mom. I think she was in CA at the time. Maybe even Bay Area. I moved a lot so I’m slightly fuzzy! It might have been Oregon and then California… I’m not too sure. But anyway I was back with mom. And I sobbed the whole flight home. Uncontrollable, ugly, body racking sobs. I remember people staring. I was so sad to be leaving my daddy. And yet once I was home and the sadness had passed I realized how nice it was to be home with a parent who had discipline and home cooked meals and knew how to do laundry. Where I had a proper bed instead of a folding pallet/chair/futon thingy in the corner. My own room. But I still felt guilty… Like maybe I did really love my dad more?

I went back to see my dad every summer. Generally he would take the time off while I was there. If not all of it at least as much as he could. He would plan things for us to do. Rapids on the Reservoir was a local water park that I loved. We went to Florida. We went to the park on the river. There were always big lunches after church. Late night runs to DQ for a dip. Roller skating, fire works, and lots and lots of swimming. I definitely inherited my love of the water from him.

Every time I would leave my mom I would be filled with anticipation and excitement to go see my dad and every time I would leave to come home to my mom I would be devastated. When we moved to Texas I thought it would be better because, well, you people own a map, Texas is closer to Mississippi than California! I’d get to see daddy even more!

Somehow this is not what ended up happening…

Monday, June 12, 2006

One of those days

I actually just got shushed for making too much noise taping up boxes y’all. No I’m not kidding. I actually laughed at first because… She could possibly be serious right? This woman who has never said a word to me? But no. She seriously wanted to know if I could “do that” (ie: tape up boxes to mail out client gifts) “some other time”. I politely told her no, that I’m not in the habit of staying after hours, but that I’d be done shortly.

Some people have such nerve!

But then I had to laugh because as I was walking through the reception area not 5 minutes ago I heard her in there asking the receptionist and another girl who works on another floor to please refrain from having personal conversations at the front desk as she can hear them from her cube.

Apparently she’s just having a bad day. So I went by her desk on my way back to my cube and smiled at her. I mean really y’all. It can’t possibly be THAT bad can it?!?!

*****

TheBoy and I went up to Lake Shasta with Christine and Michael this weekend. The weather was perfect and, even though I couldn’t wakeboard because of the never-ending knee saga, much fun was had by all.

You know it’s a good sign when the tequila is half gone, the sun is still shining hot and you’ve got hours of swimming and eating and hanging out to do with friends.

I remember thinking when I was in the midst of the break-up drama with my ex how much I was going to miss going to the lake. It was our favorite thing to do and I never thought I’d meet another boy who loved it as much as I do. But I was wrong. I met a boy who quite possibly loves it MORE. And as an added bonus he doesn’t make me feel bad about myself.

*****

I’m also happy to report that I have been knee-pain free for 4 days now! Yippee! Of course I’m on super drugs at the moment. I’ve also been sworn off any kind of heeled shoe for the next two weeks but whatever! NO PAIN! No vomiting! I’m a brand new girl.

Just cross your fingers and hope this crap lasts in 8 days when I’m on my own and drug free… K?

*****

Also, it has come to my own attention that I am entirely too anal retentive. I am working on it. The last few weeks have been a complete exercise in me NOT having 100% control over a situation that normally I would have been ALL OVER. I think it’s working well. I’m not totally comfortable with it, but I haven’t killed any one so it’s a start! ;^D

In that regard, everyone out there in IIF-land, please send your prayers (or well wishes – whatever) towards my friend Angie (the Bride-to-be) and her family. Y’all are the best!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Leftward leanings

I’m giving y’all fair warning that I’m about to talk about politics. So feel free to navigate away now. But with the passing of Memorial Day recently, and the elections today it just seems that I can’t hold it in any longer. I was having a conversation recently in which I found myself in the uncomfortable position of defending myself and political views. So I’m just going to spell this out, once and for all, for the people in the back…

Just because my political views lean towards the liberal DOES NOT MEAN that I do not support the troops. This is just the most plain assinine jump from A to Z that I have ever seen. I also do not hate God or the entire Government, which are two other things I’ve been told that I must do as a Liberal.

Both of my parents served in the military. I grew up on and around military bases. My first boy / girl moments EVER involved basic training boys running laps in early morning light… God BLESS the USA y’all. Seriously though. I grew up in a SMALL town with three Air Force bases and an Army base within driving distance. During Desert Shield / Desert Storm I knew exactly what it meant when my friends mommys and daddys were gone.

So maybe it grates on my nerves just A LITTLE BIT when people tell me that because I’m a liberal and that I don’t necessarily agree with this particular war in Iraq that it means I don’t support the troops.

“They have turned criticism of the policies of Bastards in Suits into criticism of The People in Uniform Getting Shot At. This, of course, is completely wrong, as one can easily tell the difference between the Bastards in Suits and The People in Uniform Getting Shot At. One group is in Suits, and Not Getting Shot At, while another is in Uniform, and Getting Shot At.” – from Kung Fu Monkey, a newly discovered and (shockingly) now favored blog.*

I was thrilled to see all the regognition Memorial Day got among the bloggers this year. But I would just add one thing (which I also heard but not nearly enough)… Memorial Day is great, but it’s easy. You remember people who have gone and are not coming back. The Heros. The POW. The MIA. But we should also take time out to remember the ones who could be back tomorrow if we (or those Bastards in Suits) chose it.


*Post entited “Lions Led by Donkeys” – a must read if you had liberal leanings. Or if you’re at all curious about how MY mind ticks… ;^D

Sounds of Silence

Have you ever known that someone was trying to manipulate you to get something they wanted? Even though they knew it’s not something you wanted to give to them? I’m not talking about something mean or hurtful here…

Have you ever made a difficult decision, spent countless hours and days agonizing over whether or not you were making a mistake only to feel an immense sense of relief once the decision was made? Has that decision ever not been accepted by the other party involved?

What does it mean when you finally realize that you are never going to get the one thing you thought you wanted more than anything, and you can’t even bring yourself to be properly sad over it? What does it mean if you just feel sort of… tired?

Friday, June 02, 2006

Contents

I’ve been tagged! So y’all can thank Liz because the post I WAS working on was political in nature. Because THAT’S the kind of day I’m having. But I think posts on cheating, pain and politics are too much for a 24 hour window don’t you? So I’ll save the political one for another day…

(insert sigh of relief here)

And now on to the main event!

5 Items in my Fridge:
Beer
Eggs
Cheese
Smart Balance
Iced Tea

5 Items in my Closet:
More shoes than I care to mention
Purses
Luggage
The Cat Box
Angie’s Wedding Dress!

5 Items in my Car:
Yoga Mat
Sunscreen
Scarves (for tying hair back with the top down)
Sunglasses
Inverter

5 Items in my Purse:
Wallet
Digital Camera & extra batteries!
Cell Phone
Chapstick – more than one tube!
Nail file

I feel like I just totally lived up to my “boring” name!

Sheer frustration...

...is getting off the phone with 2 (presumably) highly trained medical professionals and the best they can come up with regarding the knee pain you've been experiencing for a MONTH and is keeping you up at night and limiting almost all of your physical activities is...

"Work through it"

I'm really begining to lose faith in the Medical Profession here y'all.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Drunken Introspection

It was the summer of 1996 and I was drunk. Again. In fact, it’s safe to say I spent the vast majority of that summer drunk. It was the summer of my lost innocence. The summer I learned that I was never going to be good enough for the people I’d worked so hard to please. The summer I learned that the friends I had, never really liked me in the first place. The summer of my “step-mother” not being comfortable with Jim’s frequent phone calls to the house. The summer I became too sick to hide it any longer.

We used to have these house parties. A rich friend, a large house with a pool, a pool table, parents who traveled often… Camp Horowitz – we called it. $5 would buy you a red cup and all the beer your little stomach could handle. Get there early and there were smoothies and swimming at the pool. Being the girlfriend of the host’s best friend I practically lived there all summer.

One night I remember being at a party there… Lots of people. And a guy I knew vaguely. Someone we only called by their last name. I can’t even remember it now – how sad. Anyway, I remember him coming up to me… Something about how there were so many people there and could I believe the line for the bathroom in the pool house?

I answered along the lines of yeah, huge party, I didn’t even know half the people there and didn’t he know where the bathrooms were in the main house? He appeared confused and I volunteered to show him and off we went. Keeping in mind that I was drunk and had probably been that way for hours – I realize now I had just fallen for the oldest trick in the book.

We got in to the house and I pointed him towards a bathroom. He asked me to wait. I do. I vaguely remember thinking I didn’t want to walk back to the party in the dark by myself because THAT would be unsafe. Ha. I sit down on the couch to wait. He comes out and sits down beside me. Puts his arm around me. Leans in to me and starts kissing my neck, whispering in my ear, rubbing my leg…

“Your boyfriend and I are good friends you know. We share lots of things. He wouldn’t mind”

And I don’t know how or why or in what instant but something in my drunken brain snapped and I managed to push him off me and get out of the house and back out to the party. I even accepted his half-hearted attempts to walk with me back. No hard feelings. Right. He didn’t realize. Sure.

The next morning I mentioned the incident to my boyfriend. I’m not sure what I was expecting… I was 18. I was madly in love. I was rebellious. I was na├»ve. He blamed me. It was my fault. I led him on. I tempted him. I wanted that to happen. Deep down I must have been attracted. It was my fault. I, I, I, I. Me. It was my fault.

And the next weekend when my boyfriend slipped away with the girl he’d admitted to having a crush on before we began dating? I looked the other way, forced a smile and took my turn for a keg stand. Because I deserved it. It was my fault.

I ran in to that girl tonight. I guess that’s where this story came from. I was craving sushi… (all your fault Laurie!) TheBoy and I went downtown to run some errands and decided to grab some dinner. And in walks a blast from the past. A girl I literally haven’t thought of in 10 years. Funny how things trigger memories.

And I realized… I’ve been blaming myself for that drunken evening for 10 years! I accepted my boyfriend’s cheating that time and every time after as penance of sorts because I thought I deserved it. But you know what? Tonight, as I sat across the table for the man I’ve spent nearly 5 years with I realized… I was wrong. I deserved better. I deserved this – a partnership, a friendship, respect. Love is so much more than just fiery feelings and lust. As TheBoy and I sat discussing our future and its merits and faults, for what seems like the umpteenth time, I realized THIS is what I deserve.

Seriousness. Blamelessness. Honesty. Love.