Sunday, March 30, 2014

from pizza face

I have three brothers and one sister and all of us are divorced save for one brother. I have told this brother on more than one occasion that if he had married any other woman than the one he married that other woman would have kicked his sorry ass out the door a long time ago. He gives me this amazingly annoying smirky smile and I just want to slap him.

But I don't because like my other siblings we grew up taunting and teasing this poor kid until he exploded in a screaming, vindictive rage. Being children in the 60's was not always easy. We overly spoiled baby boomers had too much time on our hands with no video games and precisely three television programs dedicated to our age group. And with a lack of juvenile obesity we turned to other physical extremities to pick on including my brother's large Dumbo ears made more visible by those crew cuts popular for boys at the time. If he didn't have those ears we would have found something else. He made such an easy victim. "He was the middle child afterall," my mother would sigh.

Even my father would join in the fun and once threw a large chunk of styrofoam up in the air behind my brother's back. He turned and saw the thing and started running towards us shouting "there's a giant white owl chasing me!" Another time he ran screaming from the house, "I've swallowed a cherry pit! I've swallowed a cherry pit! I'm going to die!" Too fun, I say holding my sore belly from laughing.

All of us were fighters, eager to leave our mark on each other. My brother still has a visible scar above his left eyebrow, a thin feathery reminder of the ice cube tray (full) I bashed onto his head. I don't know what he did to deserve that but I know that he did.  And then there was a time I was lounging on the couch watching one of those three children's TV programs and he was kneeling in front of me, elbows on an ottoman, big mushy marshmallow butt taking up my space. For some unknown reason I kicked him and I didn't realize how hard until I saw my white-socked foot now resting on the deserted ottoman and the top portion was blood red. I had broken my toe, another reason to get back at him at a later time.

I don't know if age makes us wiser but I do believe it makes us more tolerant. And even though the elephant ears have become more prominent and his hair has receded leaving a salt and pepper fringe we have at long last become friends. We owe each other that. I love you, Mark. From your sister, Pizza face.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

I don't like talking to strangers when I'm naked and other weird reasons

I'm back in the pool after a week of lounging on Susan's couch waiting for the San Diego rain to go away and it never did. And it didn't help that we visited places like Extraordinary Desserts, a little hole-in-the-wall eaterie where you take a number and wait for the staff to serve you a slice of cake big enough to fit a dinner plate and festooned with fruity syrups and fresh rose petals.

I get cranky and tense when I don't exercise and my skin feels like it is attached too tightly. Inertia allows for the toxins to run around unabated in  my circulatory system without release. When this happens I frown a lot and look at the world from under skulking eyebrows.

I stay in the pool for almost two hours because one by one, other swimmers are leaving and going down to the locker room. I would have to join them in the open shower and I don't like talking to strangers when I'm naked.

Where do you want to eat, I ask the six-year-old. She picks eating places based on what kind of coloring books they have behind the counter and the availability of ice cream. "Culver's." No, we've talked about this before, I tell her.  We will go some place that sells booze because you are staying at Grandma's tonight and she will require that.

Tasting samples of Chef Ivan's lemon pepper asparagus and seafood lasagna at the grocer's. And I can show you where you can purchase these, an overly eager perky clerk tells me.  Why does she assume I want to buy this stuff?  It's greasy and way too lemony. No thanks, I mumble with my full mouth, wanting to be done with the conversation quickly, "I just came to eat." I can be refreshingly and disturbingly honest, especially to the perky. They deserve it and so much more.

And finally, driving the grandchildren from the movies, well movie, we saw only one I politely remind the young motorist in the opposite lane who believes I cut her off that it truly was indeed my turn and I add a small wisdom-filled smile to drive the point home. Not the barrage of obscenities I usually let loose should I be driving solo. "You might as well hear it from me first," I say to the boys. "There are a lot less smart people than dumb people in this world. You are in that minority so watch your back."
Thank God karma always prevails.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

travel junkie

I'm running away from all that Midwestern winter crap and am presently in San Diego. Yet here we are, my California friends and I, sitting on their couch watching Jon Stewart reruns because we're into a second day of rain. All the really fun things to do in this city are scheduled for outdoors. Susan says it hasn't rained in months and the broadcaster says this much rain hasn't occurred in over three years. I'm not surprised. Bad weather follows me. Years ago when we used to vacation in Las Vegas  I was responsible for several historic rainstorms in the desert. Scientists should study me. I am that remarkable.

All I want to do is travel.  I would join a convent or work at Walmart if they promised me travel opportunities. Oh, I would come home at some point, long enough to take my grand kids to Wild Buffalo Wings and the water park, do the laundry and then repack my bags for the next adventure.  I am a travel junkie.

I am grateful that I have tasted fresh bread in the early morning at a Parisian bakery and felt the spray as my little boat maneuvered around Niagara's falls. And that time I ran away from an alligator swaying his tail in the back yard of my friend's house in Port Charlotte, Florida. I have tasted exquisitely fried walleye pike caught from a deep cold Canadian lake and collected sea shells on a windblown English beach.

And I want to do more, lots more. I can't get enough. I hang on every word of Susan's friend who is traveling to Budapest to follow the Danube's path cutting through the old country. I ask every thing I can think of and it's still not enough. This thirst cannot be slaked.

As a kid our summers were spent on a man-made lake 50 miles from our home. And I loved it. Those days count as some of my fondest memories. Swimming all day in that mud-clogged lake, sitting around a bonfire telling stories under thousands of stars, laughing with my cousins and siblings on a back porch that slept 20 kids.

hello, that's me, swigging from the Pepsi bottle

I was a divorced woman with three kids buying a house with a 29-year-old furnace and an electrical system that caused my power plant-employed brother to ask, "Who did the wiring? Edison?" Talk about living on the edge, pay check to penny pinching pay check. My kids only got new clothes on their birthdays and Christmas and when you come right down to it, that's enough. We went to a family reunion in Wisconsin once and that was our travel log for all those years.

But I met a nice man with lots of money, thus my ability to travel frequently. This is not the reason I married him. He doesn't mind if we go out to breakfast and I want to read the newspaper instead of talking to him. Or the fact that my father comes twice a week for dinner and gives far too much advice on how we should live our lives. And most importantly that I require hours and hours of alone time to feel sane and safe, despite the social creature that he is.