Thursday, June 27, 2013

one burrito

I am sitting in the back of Susan's convertible speeding towards Mexico.  I volunteered to sit in the wind tunnel section because I get to be silent and comfortable and introverted. "If you need to say anything to me, say it now," I cheerfully tell the two women in front of me, "I won't hear you later."

Earlier in the day we volunteered at Father Joe's mission kitchen. "Where's the spoon for this applesauce?" I asked and the lead guy overheard me, a guy who looked like Ice-T on a really bad day. "That's chicken gravy," came his response dripping with well, icicles. Somebody should have stirred the stuff and added some broth or water or something, it was lumpy plus.  "And give everybody just one burrito," he added clearly dissatisfied with my performance.

 And here they come, all 785 of them and I was told this was a slow day.  Hollow-eyed people, vets missing limbs, a range of color black brown yellow white, clean and not so clean, clearly crazy people postulating all kinds of theories and others looking almost professional in their button-down shirts and pressed pants, so many stories but all of them hungry.  Some little hispanic guy, he looked like a withered corn cob doll, kept showing up in my line wanting one of my burritos, four times he showed and four times he got a burrito. I could see Ice-T shaking his head and I ignored him.  We got to wear plastic aprons and hair nets and an orange VOLUNTEER badge, but we couldn't keep any of it.  I would have liked that orange badge.

We finish our task and my girls decide to travel even further south to a casino owned by the Viejas tribe. Their reservation borders another owned by the Ewiiaapaayp and I love these Native American names. Crazily, the shameful US of A did everything to eradicate the peoples from their philosophies and practices and yet we labeled every state, river town and street using their lovely lyrical names.

I do not possess a gambler's personality. I work hard for the money and want to spend it on something tangible like shoes or cheese. But I am with two women who are hungry for the game, the quick take and loose slots that were not that loose. I slip a $20 bill into a Sex and the City machine just to keep them happy and after four minutes I have 35 cents to show for my efforts. I am glad the American Indian nation has gained from my losses and my friends keep trolling for the big money.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

you can't have my cheetos

I'm back home long enough to wash the underwear and pack for San Diego.  I throw in swimsuits, books, booze and drugs.  Yes, I have a kindle e-book but I still like the sentimental feeling of turning a page and inhaling that lovely ink smell.  I bring my own liquor because I don't expect friends to pay for my fondness for Kentucky whisky.  Also, extra anti-depressant pills and probiotics in case of flight delays or a plane hijacking. I can think of nothing worse than some guy named Ishmael holding a gun to my head and me being depressed and having chronic diarrhea. Did I cover everything?

I take my seat on the plane and the pilot announces there will be a thirty minute delay. This is a concern because my connecting flight is forty minutes after I land. I got distracted making those computer connections.  I was watching an old rerun of Friends and Phoebe was singing that "Smelly Dog" song and this was in the coffee shop when Rachel was still chubby but with the great haircut and that strange little gnome-like fellow who ran the place had this crush on her but he was rude to everyone else, well, you know the rest.

I try to relax as the minutes tick by and the guy next to me puts down his ear buds to visit the necessary room and I can hear the lyrics of this stupid country western tune, "Shoulda seen the rack on the gal I did last night la-la-la."  Thank God this flight is only thirty minutes.

 I am zipping through O'Hare with my heavy computer case, my really heavy backpack and my flimsy flip-flops and I'm mowing down old people and unattended toddlers left and right. I am applauding my intense exercise regime which allows me to move at this pace and in two minutes I am again sitting on a plane watching the runway disappear beneath me.

 Soon I will be lying on the beach watching sandpipers leave tracks in the sand and giving threatening looks to any seagull eyeing my cheetos.


Friday, June 14, 2013

and here I thought Indiana was such a dull state

 I am jogging down a wooded path in Michigan and there are scary rustling animal noises all around me, lions and tigers and bears oh my.  I am city born and bred and I only like nature in small controlled doses.  I also am a former dog bite victim with a chunk of tissue missing below my left knee so I am doubly cautious.  I stoop low to breathe in a delicate wild rose and then quickly pull away. There could be poison ivy lurking about and I cannot spend another summer dealing with weepy skin lesions and being strung out on steroids. I have no faith in nature, she's out to get us.

We are visiting my son Jim and his family. We have traveled four states to get here, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and now Michigan. We were only in Indiana long enough to clear my throat and usually we make it through without peeing, but not this time.  We  pull over to a state rest stop right next to the Valparasi Vasectomy Clinic and I'm glad we did.

 There were about a hundred index cards pasted above the sinks and they had comments from travelers to the cleaning staff. At the bottom was a section for your name and phone number if you wanted a staffer to contact you about your restroom experience.  And I'm thinking how lonely does a person have to be to do this? I am finding all of this terribly amusing and the Illinois rest stops cannot compete with this place. The Land of Lincoln restrooms have enlarged insect models the size of a shoe box and this bug is destroying the local ash trees. There are several glass and wooden boxes showing the larvae cycles and they are made out of, well - ash.

Jim is a pediatrician who dabbles in oncology and hematology and he is happiest when sitting in front of a microscope staring at a drop of blood. His wife has a doctorate in microbiology so we spend a lot of time talking about their two laughing daughters or the weather or what's for supper. What else can we do.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

always the misfit

Christ, another wedding shower. We are invited to too many things, I grumble at the husband as we pull up to a ranch house in the western suburbia of my city.  He's my driver and I'm making him stay because any gathering which has only one gender in attendance makes my nervous. And I don't like this neighborhood. All the ranch houses have varying shades of mauve siding, who knew there could be so many and there's too many yuppies which means too many BMW vans to manuever around. The hostess greets me at the door and asks, "Mimosa, Bloody Mary or coffee with Bailey's creme?" Well, maybe this won't be too bad.

The postcard invite said "Stop and go shower, 10:00 - 12:00."  Cool, this won't take any more time than going through a McDonald's drive-thru and that means no excruciatingly painful shower games. I've never wanted to construct a bridal veil out of toilet tissue or guess what articles would be in the bride's honeymoon suitcase.

 We would just deposit the gift, chug a couple of drinks, hug some women and leave, but this was not to be. The living room was filled with elegantly coiffed and fashionably attired guests and I shuffled in wearing jeans, my unisex all-purpose grey sweatshirt and Nike flip-flops with the stuffing coming out of the sole. Alas, always the misfit.

I tried to hide behind a crystal vase filled with six-foot bamboo reeds but my sister-in-law found me, the chatty one and dragged me over to the huge dining room table populated with females from my husband's family. I made the mistake of marrying a man with too many relatives and I am paying the penalty. A week doesn't go by without somebody getting baptized,  married, playing t-ball or dying and we get invited to it all.

There are over 80 women at this soiree and we stay an hour. This entire time the bride, resplendent in a champagne-colored chiffon dress covered with raindrop rhinestones and matching pumps, is opening gifts. I just know she was opening before I got there and will be opening long after I leave.

"It's 12:08!" I whisper fiercely to the husband, "this party was supposed to end at noon! Why aren't these people leaving?"  He finished his drink, shuffled over to the mimosa dispenser and I had to look for a new place to hide.