Thursday, May 30, 2013

i don't remember the last time i was lonely

I am standing in line with my granddaughter waiting to buy a ticket to see another granddaughter perform in a cheer leading program. The granddaughter with me today will herself be playing the lead in Annie tonight at a grade school in Wisconsin. Her long blond hair will be covered by a curly red wig and I don't know how these children do it.  Putting their bodies and voices on display for strangers to scrutinize and critique. I tell her she's welcome to go stand with her parents who are several people ahead of us but she says no, I'll stay here with you. I don't want you to be lonely.
I smile in spite of myself.  I don't remember the last time I was lonely.

I define myself as an introvert. I am not shy in fact I am quite adept at social gatherings. That is a skill, being good at something you loathe and it's still kind of a surprise when people seek me out at parties.

My husband is always introducing me to people and I tell him enough, I know enough people, in fact I hit my quota about 1996.  He has a goal of meeting one new person each day, ouch and sooner or later he drags some chatty soul over to make my acquaintance. Oh, you'll like her, he gushes, she heads a charity agency that sends doctors from the University of Iowa to Jamaican hospitals and I protest but suddenly she's there, a perky little blond and I knew she would be. Tiffany (shudder) talks about her life using lots of hand gestures and I can't help but admire her perfect French manicure. But I'm losing interest fast as I realize she just wants to talk about herself and her very public achievements and is using the goodwill program as a springboard for her notoriety.

Enough, I say enough. Where are all the pure spirits, I ask, those honest janes and joes who plod along quietly performing noble duties and avoiding that limelit stage?  Well, they're not looking for people to dance ceremoniously in front of, better believe it.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

i fought the law and the law won

The Department of Transportation has relieved me of my license for thirty days.  I  always hated the DOT, I know how deviant these guys can be and the reason I know this is because I am a former government employee.  I used to sit behind a desk, point to a triple-carbon form and say sign right here, you can trust me and the saps believed me, every time. By saps I mean welfare clients who were committing fraud with their state benefits.  I never walked to my car after work without an escort, a large muscular male social worker if I could find one.  I was not real popular in the downscale neighborhoods. I saw a lot of corruption and deceit and manipulation in those state and county offices. And I'm talking about management. When I was up for a promotion they asked me, would you agree to an action your supervisor requested even though you found it morally corrupt and I said yes.  I would never do that but I wanted the job because all the other applicants would answer yes and mean it.

They say I broke a law with my car, I passed a stopped school bus. I don't remember the incident.  I was adamant about pleading not guilty and I told that to the cops at my front door and the nice court lady and later to the assistant county attorney. And that last guy told me if I insisted on my innocence I would be accountable for subpoena costs, time spent for those police officers and the Rambo bus driver, all the extra paperwork and court officials' time. I decided to plead guilty, seemed less costly. But then I got a letter informing me of the suspension and a $600 fine. I appealed and won. And then the department overhauled the decision so I talked to an attorney who was nice enough not to charge me and I appealed again, won, another overhaul and now I am sitting in the county attorney's office and he said the department made a mistake, they don't understand the law, you should not lose your license.  Here's what you gotta do, hire an attorney and file an administrative appeal and at that point I stopped listening. I was getting sucked further into the black hole and I'm already $600 poorer and this has been going on since last August. Enough, they win, where's my checkbook, I'm outta here.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

the boys are back in town

 Lynard Skynard is coming to town and Crazy Tom is planning a pre-party for the occasion. I remember the last time I heard these guys. It was a small county fair and REO Speedwagon was sharing the ticket. You could not find two more diverse bands. The REO's are tiny little fellows like the oompa-loompas only thinner with highlighted puffy 80's hair. They are dressed in immaculate white jump suits with sequins and when the sun shines it is like the clouds opening and celestial angels have descended to the stage.

 The Skynard boys stride on stage all dressed in devil black, high-heeled boots and long leather trench coats, greasy hair tumbling down their backs, matted beards and you know remnants of their chicken-fried steak dinners are stuck in there somewhere. They smoked and belched down bottles of Jack Daniels and never offered any to the audience. They resonate pure evil and unhealthy lifestyles.

The guy sitting in front of us is wearing an armless t-shirt and I try not to look at his dangling pit hair and he penned something on the back.  I don't remember but it was the worse thing I ever read on a t-shirt and it had something to do with the smell of tuna fish. He was loud and stupid and had difficulty remaining upright and I could feel Big Dave's growing irritation as we tried to watch the show and I prayed my guy would keep his views to himself but that was not meant to be.

Now Himself has always lived in a white bread Catholic Republican society where everyone followed the rules and dental check-ups were routinely kept. But the buffoons in front of us are from a different neighborhood and my years at government welfare offices taught me you don't mess with these boys in their own territory. Dave never learned this lesson and next thing I know tuna guy has him by the neck and I'm thinking we're all gonna die. I put my old lady body between tuna guy and spouse and hold my breath and the moron lets go. We are quiet church mice for the rest of the show.

 Tom, I will come and drink your cheap beer and then I will go home and lock the door. The boys are back in town.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


I traveled 435 miles for my granddaughters' birthday parties and it's in a place filled with huge inflated balloon structures where children can jump and smash into each other. We store our coolers and boxes right next to a group of kids wearing helmets and kicking each other in the stomach. This party place doubles as a martial arts school and I ponder the implications of all this.

Thirty-six children have been invited to this party and two of them  have peanut allergies, curses and a parent hands me a flowery red suede pencil case containing an adreneline injection and a typed list of instructions. Out of my league as I read all the scary recommendations, benedryl and various inhalers and I bleat pitifully for my daughter-in-law and I watch her eyes grow wide as she reads. And here we thought keeping the veggie dip cold would be the biggest challenge.

The singing of happy birthday helps drown out the "HY-UT UH-HUT BATTER UP" chanting of the juvenile ninjas. We return the greasy-faced children to their parents each with a Snoopy balloon and allergy dad picks up his little nut-challenged child and we never had to open that red pencil case.
As an established introvert I avoid all gatherings be they business, religious, social club, tupperware-related and some family stuff  just because well, most of us feel the same way but events with children are in a different category. They qualify as a safe zone.

The next morning early on I feel more than hear a rustling near my bed. I open my eyes and see a large plastic barrel of snap-together beads two inches from my face. And then I see a sweet little face (although not this wet) dancing close by waiting for me to leave this bed and make her a necklace.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

my father's colonoscopy

If this title doesn't grab readers I don't know what will. This is the winter that wouldn't go away and cabin fever will not release it's grip on me and that means a serious lack of any redeeming or interesting blog material. My mind is fog and vacant bleariness. So I follow Sonny to the hospital and he has pestered his doctor to check out his 88-year-old intestinal tract because his baby sister was recently diagnosed with colon cancer and it's the bad kind. His usual dashing corduroy jacket and sweater vest are replaced with holey grey sweats, a sweatshirt showing all the major battles of the Civil War, a brewing company baseball cap and his coke-bottle glasses. He is dressing for comfort and I feel like I'm escorting a homeless person.

My father shows up with no photo ID, no insurance cards, nuthin' . . .  He did the same thing when we flew to Florida and we were detained by scary looking officials who looked at us with narrowed eyes and kept one hand on their holstered weapons. 

When I mention this to him he says, who would volunteer for this kind of test if he didn't have to have it? Point taken. He comes from an era when a handshake and a tip of the hat was enough identification, I miss that.

The receptionist is glued to her computer so Sonny gets up and walks to a framed painting on the wall, a trick I have observed after watching him over the years. If you're somewhere you don't want to be and I have sat by countless hospital beds occupied by him then examine the ceiling, the wallpaper, the brand of TV, the tiles on the floor, the shoes your nurse is wearing, find something to distract yourself.  Back in his room he talks about the history of dropped ceilings after lying on his back all morning and discovers his nurse is the daughter-in-law of a man who is building an exhibit at the museum. The doctor says he is all right and he doesn't need to have this test again. We would have been surprised if anything evil showed up in the old man's colon, he eats more fiber than any five people I know. If I ingested that much roughage I wouldn't be able to leave the confines of my bathroom, but I remain silent on this subject like so many others.

checking out a recipe for steel cut oats cooked in a crock pot,
only Sonny and farm animals would be interested in this mush