Wednesday, May 30, 2007

And Now An Update on My Life

Ok, so you don't get anything for two weeks and now two posts at once!

You guys know I have a lot going on in my life right now that is preventing me from writing as much as I'd like. My grandfather had a bad weekend, but he pulled through so far. Keep praying. Lung cancer in an old man is really scary. My parents dog needed to be put to sleep yesterday after it suffered all weekend, so we were all very sad. He was such a good boy. On top of that, I had a bladder/kidney infection that was just awful.

Several antibiotics later, I am so pleased to be free of burning pain that I want to run up to total strangers and yell out to them in painless bliss "I CAN PEE!!! I tell you! I can pee again!!!!" I didn't really do that though. Ok, I did it once, but it was to someone I know.

I will be going out of town this weekend for the wedding of one of my most beloved friends, so I will not be around to write until I get back next week. I can't tell you how badly I needed time away. I plan to eat like an idiot and have a really good time celebrating. I have a lot to celebrate in spite of everything else that kind of sucks.

The good news is that Husband is kicking ass and taking names once again. I think he's all better, but he still can't carry in the heavy grocery bags yet. Not surprisingly, his Dairy Queen obsession persists and in what can only be described as some sort of Secret-like manifestation of his desires, a Dairy Queen coupon arrived in the mail today entitling him to a free Blizzard.

Now the good news for you all is that..........drumroll please....

I start a new job next week and boy are you going to LOVE this one.

I May Never Be Kissed, Part 3

I went to a new school for 8th grade - the private school my mother dreamed of sending me to. The school was small and in an old house by a lake where Canada geese glided serenely until they came up onto campus to poop everywhere. I'm not kidding you, you couldn't even take a step without landing in goose poo, but other than that the school was beautiful. It was also filled with a bunch of rotten, stuck up rich kids. The kids who weren't rich were social outcasts, like me, who couldn't handle public school. These were my friends.

I met frequent commented JDogg at the fancy private school that year. We became friends over a crank call, but that's a story for another time. I also had two girl friends. One girl was both wealthy and an outcast, a red head who spent her entire childhood overweight and immature. As she neared high school she slimmed down considerably, became quite poised and prepared to make her re-entry into Riverbank High, where she would become popular and beautiful. This girl and I were friends for years and although she has given me a lifetime worth of writing material, full of conflict and angst and all the things that make great character driven novels, I promised many years ago to never write about her and I won't.

Andrea was my second girl friend. She was short and jewish and looked like a pubescent Barbara Streisand, with a dark spiral perm and frosty pink lipgloss. Andrea, who was not named Andrea, but Ahhn-DRAY-uh, lived with her mother in a filthy home that desperately needed remodeling. After her parent's divorce, Andrea's mother became trapped in a time warp from 1969 and never ever changed anything about herself or her home. It was just like Miss Havisham's house and equally as dirt-ridden and creepy. You needed several vaccinations just to walk in their home, which had psychedelic yellow and purple flowered wall paper, shag carpets and had not been cleaned or even straightened since Woodstock. It also had no parental supervision at all. I didn't have a lot of that myself, but Andrea had even less. We could, essentially, do exactly as we pleased. At my house I could only do about 75% as I pleased and I still had to clean up after myself. For this reason, I braved the stench of cat piss and years of accumulated grime and cigarette smoke to raise holy hell with Andrea.

Andrea was one of those troubled girls who gives blowjobs to her step brother in 8th grade and who drinks and tries to act as slutty as possible because her father never gave her the attention she desperately needed. I've always loved girls like this. Looking back on my life I've always gravitated towards wild and mentally unstable people, although I am often considered prudish, prim and far too in control for my own good. It's as if I like vicarious chaos. Similarly goody-goody friends just bore me. I like the friends who have animal sex and then tell me about it. I love the nut jobs who've experimented with the things that terrify me. There are a hundred reasons a good therapist could give for why I like people who are messed up and it may have something to do with me secretly wanting to do all these crazy things but being too scared. It might be an homage to my own parents who were certainly not scared of anything, or it could just be that these people are infinitely more interesting. Writers love to observe anything ridiculous and out of the ordinary and every writer needs a few good train wrecks to befriend because deep down we just love a good story. Crazy people always make for a good story. Andrea was a fantastic story. She made Katrina look like a Carmelite nun. I couldn't tear myself away. JDogg and I have often wondered what became of her. It was as if she simply vanished and no one ever knew what happened or where she went. We've googled and searched and there is no sign of Andrea. I've even considered posting her real name to see if anyone out there knew her. Given her past, it's likely she is currently a stripper or a porn star now. She probably lives in Las Vegas. She might be an alcoholic.

Eighth grade was a long dry spell in terms of my love life. Not much happened.

Our school held an annual fundraiser which was the epitome of lame, called the Dance-a-thon, where the whole school was supposed to dance for 12 hours straight in the Fellowship Hall of the local Congregational church, stopping every 15 minutes for Kool-Aid. It was awful; far worse than the Millpond Middle Dances. No one made out in the bleachers because the teachers forced us to dance and forced us to dance under bright lights where they could see if boys and girls got too close. It was oversupervised by parents and just not fun at all. I was miserable. You can only hear the Pet Shop Boys so many times in one day before they start to sound painful, and this is coming from a Pet Shop Boys fan. The DJ also played a lot of freestyle, of which I am not a fan and I'm sure we heard an edited "Brass Monkey" 16 times at least. JDogg, please, tell them how awful the Dance-a-thon was so they know I'm not exagerating.

The one good thing about the Dance-a-thon was that I went home with a boy. I don't know how I pulled this off. I must have gone through a rather complicated series of elaborate lies in order to get away with this, but I went home with a boy whose parents were not home and this could have easily been the night of my first kiss and several other firsts if I'd been willing. It was, however, not.

When the boy tried to kiss me I completely freaked out and the boy sent me home in a taxi. This was becoming a pattern. I began to think something was wrong with me. I lamented to Andrea who said she had the solution.

"You are totally repressed." she said. "You need to improve your sex life."

This was coming from a girl who had given five blowjobs before she was 15.

"I don't have a sex life to improve upon." I replied.

"You need to establish a sex life and then improve on it. You need practice so you aren't nervous."

That Friday I went home from school with Andrea with plans to spend the night. Her mother went to a single's function for Jewish divorcees at the Holiday Inn, and was guaranteed to be gone until 4am, giving us plenty of time to get into trouble.

Andrea got on the phone and called every boy she knew in the neighborhood and naturally she knew every boy in the neighborhood. No one was home, as most of them had cars. She decided to call her friend Carrie who lived down the street. Carrie was a year older than we were and went to public school. When Andrea hung up she looked pleased.

"Carrie's parents aren't home and her brother is going to be home from work soon. Her brother is kind of strange, but he's 17 and he'll probably drive us somewhere if we want."

Carrie's brother was a gigantic dork, the Napoleon Dynamite of 1987 if you will. He worked at a toy store, was in special classes in school and underwent acne treatments that made his face peel. He also took medication for an unspecified behavioral problem.

Carrie and Andrea discussed my issue and agreed that I just needed to practice on someone I didn't care about so that when someone I liked came along I'd be confident.

"What about my brother Matt!!??" Carrie asked. "It's perfect. He's only kissed a couple girls in camp last year and he's probably lying about that anyway. He would be glad to kiss you!"

Carrie called her brother at work and told him the situation. He wanted to know what I looked like.

He said he only liked blondes.

"How's her rack?" he wanted to know. "I like chicks with big racks."

Please remember this is coming from a guy who wore thick glasses and had a massive Jew-fro.

"Ok, here's the deal. He's coming home and he said he won't agree to it unless he sees you first and you have to brush your teeth." Carrie said.

I went back to Andreas and took a full shower. When the doorbell rang I broke out into a cold sweat. Matt was very tall and skinny. We looked each other up and down and I wanted to back out of the deal. I wondered if he did too.

Matt was lanky and awkward and his face was all nicked and splotched with red spots that looked like he had a hard time shaving. He was your typical nerdy Jewish boy.

"She's not gorgeous." he said.

Andrea and Carrie had a fit.

"I don't want to do this!!!" I wailed.

Andrea and Carrie were mad at both of us.

"You two both need to stop being so picky!! Neither of you can do any better right now, so shut up and kiss already!!" Andrea yelled.

"I don't want to kiss her." Matt decided.

Andrea and Carrie continued throwing a fit and finally Matt said he'd kiss me for five dollars.

"Why do you need five dollars?" Carrie demanded.

"For gas money! Du-uh."

"Dad gives you gas money you douche brain. Look, you've hurt her feelings."

"Jeez, I'll get the five dollars out of my piggy bank. It's for a good cause." Andrea said.

She came back with twenty quarters.

"We're going to watch TV. You two go outside on the side of the house and kiss." Andrea told us.

We went behind some tall hedges. I started to shiver and shake and I couldn't tell if it was because I was nervous or cold. Perhaps it was both. Matt stood in front of me with his hands on my shoulders for a very long time. I felt like I was breathing too loudly.

"So...are you going to kiss me or what?" he said.

"What??" I replied in shock. "You were supposed to kiss ME."

"Fine. If that's what you want, but that wasn't the deal. This was YOUR first kiss. Not mine. God."

He bent his head down close to my face and all I could smell was Listerine. I recoiled, but he came closer and closer and there wasn't anywhere I could go except down. I slid down the side of the house and he grabbed me by the arm and pulled me back up. I shut my eyes and I could feel his big, sticky, cherry chapstick lips on my mouth so I clamped shut and turned. When I turned a branch from the hedge scraped the side of my face, drawing blood.

"You don't want to kiss me?" Matt asked sadly.

Andrea and Carrie opened the window and called down.

"DID YOU GUYS KISS YET??"

"NOOO!!" we hollered back.

Matt brushed my cut with his finger.

"You're bleeding." he said.

Again, he tried to kiss me and again the same thing happened. I couldn't do it.

"You're not really ugly." he said softly. "You're going to be really pretty when you grow up."

"Really?" I asked.

He nodded.

"Do you think I'm gross? Is this because I'm ugly?" he said and then I realized that he was nervous and insecure too.

"Of course not." I lied. "But have you ever kissed anyone before."

"No." he said.

Matt gave me a long hug and kissed me on top of the head. Suddenly he started breathing heavily. He pulled away and looked at me intensely.

"I'll give you the five dollars back if you let me touch your breasts." he said.

This caught me off guard.

"Over the shirt or under?"

"Over. I don't care. I never touched a girl's breasts and I may not get another chance until I'm like thirty."

"I don't think so. I'm sorry, but it's just kind of weird."

"Fine, but we have to kiss. We have to get this over with. Come on."

I tried to will myself to hold still. He placed his closed mouth over my closed mouth and didn't do anything. We stayed this way for about 30 seconds.

"That isn't kissing." I said.

"Yes it is. Do you want to touch my penis now?"

"NOOOOO!!!!!!!!! I am going straight back in the house."

Matt grabbed me by the arm and started to cry.

"Please can we just lie to them? I'm really embarassed. I don't want my sister to know I never kissed a girl. Please don't tell her." he begged.

"Ok, but I want $2.50 of the quarters Andrea gave you."

He reluctantly counted them out.

"Stop crying. If you want to tell people you kissed me, I don't care, but don't ever ask a girl if she wants to touch your you-know-what."

I can't tell you how annoyed I was with the entire evening. In all, I felt even more sorry for poor Matt than I did for myself and I certainly hope that he got the chance to touch a girl's breasts again before he turned 30, but I'm not really confident about that.

I learned my lesson. I realized that I just wasn't ready to kiss anyone and that eventually I would be, so I'd have to be patient and just enjoy Andrea's many, many conquests.

My first kiss came at the end of 9th grade and it was well worth the wait.
Thursday, May 24, 2007

First Kisses Part 2

Looking back on these stories, it's hard for me to believe, but my mother actually let me run wild all over Ocean City, Maryland with no supervision whatsoever, going exactly where I pleased when I pleased although I was only 13 years old. It's a miracle I wasn't kidnapped by Hell Angel's and buried on Assateague Island never to be found.

Most of this running wild was courtesy of Ocean City's free bus which ran in a straight line up and down the strip of shore front that made up the mid-atlantic summer playground. It picked us up right by our apartment and dropped us off at the boardwalk or at any shopping plaza, miniature golf course or much older boy's house, in between.

Katrina and I took the bus to the boardwalk to find a boy for me to kiss. On the way Katrina opened her duffle bag, which I had wondered why she even had in the first place, because who carries an entire duffle bag to the boardwalk?) and showed me her contraband - a half empty bottle of Riunite Peach wine. You all remember Riunite right? It's some cheap ass, fruit flavored wine. Honestly, it shouldn't even have been called wine. I don't know what the hell it was, but it came in this whoppingly huge bottle that was way bigger than a normal wine bottle and it was marketed towards women, trashy women of course, which is what Katrina totally aspired to be. The commercial had a song that went "Riunite on Ice, Riunite so nice!" I can still hear it.

Once we got to the boardwalk, Katrina and I went down to the beach to drink our half empty bottle of Riunite not on ice. I took a swig from the bottle trying to be all cool like I took swigs of cheap ass peach wine all the time and it was terrible. Katrina drank what amounted to about a glass. I had another sip.

I never drank anything in my entire life before that. I had no idea what being drunk meant or how much it took to get drunk, but I knew that Katrina wanted me to get drunk with her. The truth was, I was petrified to get drunk. I had full fledged alcoholics in my family; people who drank for breakfast and flew into rages by dinner time, destroying furniture and marriages. I knew people who lived on the street because they drank and people who chose alcohol over any semblance of a happy peaceful life, and they scared the hell out of me. I would rather have been anything than an alcoholic. I must have been an exceptionally brilliant twelve year old because even back then I realized that all of those alcoholics I knew and was related to, at some point took their first drink. It all had to start somewhere. What if that happened to me because of some nasty tasting peach flavored wine? I didn't want to take that risk.

I surmised that the purpose of drinking was to get drunk. Drunk people acted stupid, therefore the purpose of getting drunk was to act stupid. I could definitely act stupid. In fact, acting stupid was what I did better than anything else. I could have won awards for stupid behavior. In order to feign drunkeness and impress Katrina I decided to act extremely stupid. I stumbled and slurred. I laughed and said idiotic things and went up to strangers on the boardwalk and said even more idiotic things until finally, Katrina pulled me into the ticket line for the Haunted House and gave me what for.

"Stop faking like you're drunk!! It's totally annoying and you're doing a really bad job at it, so just stop. You had like two sips. You couldn't possibly be drunk!!"

I was mortified and fake sobered up really quickly. We walked past the rides in silence. Katrina was mad at me. I was really going to have to impress her.

"I'll buy you a frozen banana." I offered.

She kept up the silent treatment.

I was starving. At that very moment my mother, great grandmother and sister were gorging themselves on fried clam strips at the All U (And U) Can Eat Seafood Buffet. I couldn't believe I passed up breaded shellfish dunked in cocktail sauce for another night of this crap, but then I looked up at Katrina, the six foot tall goddess who drank wine coolers and had been fingered. She was so, so beautiful in the flourescent lights of the tee shirt shops. I wanted to be like her and I wanted it so much that I almost wished I could just kiss HER instead of some boy I had yet to meet.

A half hour passed and Katrina forgave me for acting like I was drunk, when two boys approached us. They weren't very old.

"Hey. She's never been kissed before." Katrina told them, pointing to me.

"Roy can kiss her!!" the tallest boy laughed.

Katrina took the tallest boy by the hand.

"I want to kiss YOU." she said.

I stood there looking at the planks in the boardwalk praying to God the chainsaw man wouldn't come flying out of the Haunted House at this very inopportune moment and cause me to pee myself.

We went down to a dark area of the beach where we stood nervously milling around against the pilings that held the boardwalk up. Katrina and the tall boy started making out like experts, while the short freckled boy named Roy and I looked at each other blankly.

I bet Roy probably grew up to be fairly cute. He had pale blue eyes and freckles, with light brown hair, but while he may have grown up cute, he wasn't all that cute then. He also had a mouth full of braces.

"I don't know how to kiss!!" I cried.

"It's ok. Just stand there against that pole and I'll kiss you and you just kiss back."

I stood against the pole. He put his hands on my shoulders and started his approach, which was so horrifying that I found myself wishing the Chainsaw Man would come and chase us away. I would have just kept on running. All I could see was this big open mouth full of braces and he had apparently himself just come from the All U (And U) Can Eat Seafood Buffet, because there appeared to be some deep fried scallop bits packed in the wiring. I neglected to mention the fact that I too had braces, so instantly every urban legend I ever heard about braces locking popped into my head in vivid detail. I imagined myself attached to scallop mouth being dragged by my ear to the ER by my angry mother who would surely beat my ever loving ass when it was all over.

"I can't do this!!!" I yelled in 13 year old drama queen fashion. "I'm not ready!!"

"Do you want me to tell you I love you or something?" Roy asked.

I wanted to say "No, I just want you to brush your scallopy teeth" but I didn't.

Love wasn't my issue. I was concerned with my mother bludgeoning me to death for getting my braces locked with a boy I didn't know and then getting caught with the now mostly empty bottle of Peach Riunite.

"You can't love me, you just met me." I said in disgust.

"So, some girls want their first kiss to be really special. I get that." Roy said.

That was kind of a nice and insightful thing for a thirteen year old boy to say and I recognized that.

"I'm scared our braces will get locked." I admitted.

"That doesn't really happen."

"It could. I've heard stories."

Roy and I haggled for a long time over if and how this first kiss thing was going to go down. I give him credit. He was relentless and didn't give up, but every time his faced moved closer to mine, I froze up and freaked out. I just couldn't kiss him.

This went on for, I kid you not, at least two hours. Katrina and the tall boy made out the whole time until she got bored and said we had to leave.

"He wanted me to put it in my mouth!" Katrina told me on the bus back home.

"EWWW!"

"Why didn't you kiss that guy?" she wondered, getting annoyed with me all over again.

"I don't know. It was just weird. And gross."

"You are such a baby."

We didn't talk for the rest of the summer. I never saw her again because her dad was stationed somewhere else and we went back to New York. I didn't get my first kiss that summer, but I vowed that 8th grade was my year.
Saturday, May 19, 2007

First Kisses Part 1

Although the other day I started literally at the very beginning of my life, I don't feel an overwhelming need to write everything in perfect, chronological order. I'm just going to write what comes to mind. Maybe one day when I write my memoirs, I'll arrange them then.

When I was 12 I moved from Millpond to another small town called Riverbank. Riverbank was in New York and was far nicer than Millpond had ever been. I thought I lived in New England, although technically I lived in the Hudson Valley-ish area. We were close enough to The City to go there fairly often on school trips and people from The City liked to come to Riverbank on the weekends to stroll around and pretend they were in a Norman Rockwell painting as they hunted for antiques and licked ice cream cones. With a Japanese restaurant, a Main Street that wasn't in shambles and a theater which had not been turned into a revival house for Pentecostal snake handlers, Riverbank was as swank, sophisticated and stylish as I wasn't.

Where the kids in Millpond wouldn't play with me because my biological father was a lunatic, overzealous religious fanatic and my mother was a convicted felon (now reformed) who had married, God forbid, A JEW, the kids in Riverbank didn't like me because I was a hillbilly with a broad southern accent who did not wear Lands End.

There was no chance whatsoever that anyone was ever going to kiss me and my entire world depended on getting that first kiss.

The kissing craze had started the year before in sixth grade back in Millpond, where girls were fast. They had to start kissing in sixth grade if they ever expected to get pregnant by tenth grade and married in eleventh so they could get divorced as seniors and go to the Prom with their future second husbands. Jeez. Y'all didn't know that? Actually, since that was 20 years ago, I think things have changed and now the girls are french kissing and giving blowjobs before they get out of third grade. But anyway.

At Millpond Middle School the student council held monthly dances to raise money for more dances. The purpose of the dances was expressly for french kissing in the darkened bleachers of the school's gym after everyone got tired of dancing to "Footloose" and "Puttin' on the Ritz." Then at the end of the night (about 9:30) they'd play the last slow song, possibly Madonna's "Crazy For You", and all the couples who had been frenching in the bleachers would avalanche onto the dance floor to shuffle slowly in circles at arm's length before their moms picked them up outside. Was I one of these lucky individuals? Of course not.

I sold candy at the Millpond Middle School dances. I was a huge dork, forced to wear printed turtlenecks and elastic waisted corduroys instead of the cute patent leather flats and pink pin striped jeans the cool kids got to wear. I had to live with my grandparents while my biological father converted heathens in South America and my mom and her Jewish husband tried to start businesses in other states that involved scary people from foreign countries. All the other girls had the beginnings of boobs which they flaunted in training bras, while I still wanted to play pretend and dress up in old nightgowns imagining I was a princess or a gypsy. Nothing about me made boys want to kiss me.

I wasn't genuinely interested in boys as I sold my reese's cups and peanut m&ms. I just wanted someone to WANT to kiss me because then I would feel validated and pretty and special and worth something. If a boy wanted to kiss me that would mean that I was worth kissing and maybe then other people would like me too. But no. Didn't happen.

When I moved with my mom and dad (the real one, the jewish one, not the bio one who was converting heathens) to Riverbank, New York and I started 7th grade, I figured maybe things would be different, but of course they weren't. Kids smell weakness in others kids. They know which ones are vulnerable. Middle School is like life on the freakin' Galapagos Islands. It's all about Natural Selection and survival of the fittest. The stronger kids weed out the weaker ones, in some unconscious, evolutionary attempt to prevent the undesirables from reaching adulthood and making more undesirables. It's awful. I've seen people whose emotional scars from seventh grade still haunt them as adults.

Something awakened in me in 7th grade. I still didn't grow boobs (that didn't happen until I was 26). I don't know if it was all the talk of stamens and pistils in Mrs. Beck's Life Science or what, but I started liking boys. This did not in any way cause boys to start liking me and thus I began what would become a decades long cycle of loving men who were no more interested in me than they were in the life stories of giant tortoises.

The first boy I liked was named Henry James, and Henry James ignored me. I loved Henry James because his mother was dead. Being a morbid pre-teen, this seemed impossibly romantic and like something out of a British novel, so I had to love him. He was practically an orphan. He may as well have been Pip from Great Expectations. Looking back I am about 98% certain that Henry James grew up to be homosexual. As I write this I bet that Henry James and his life partner have just thrown a fabulous dinner party to show off their newly renovated Victorian home and I'll bet that Henry James has some sort of design job and not because that is a stupid gay stereotype, but because he was really good in Art Class, which also contributed to my great love for him. I've always liked the sensitive artsy types. Now so as I don't piss off my gay readers, whom I adore, I have to explain why I think Henry grew up gay. This is not a case of sour grapes on my part. I think Henry grew up to be gay because when I reflect on this boy it would have been pretty obvious to anyone who wasn't an innocent 12 year old. He never liked any girls and then five years later he went to Prom with a boy whom he claimed was just a very good friend.

So I spent all of 7th grade mooning over a half orphaned, gay boy who was good at art. My chances at being kissed actually dropped from the year before when I was selling watermelon Now and Laters in my teddy bear print turtleneck at the Millpond dance. Still I persisted. I would get my first kiss over the summer and I would start eighth grade with a vengeance and free of my enduring love for Henry James.

The Summer between seventh and eighth grades was one of the most memorable and wonderful summers of my entire life. In time you will hear many, many stories about this summer. This is just one of them.

That summer we lived in Ocean City, Maryland. One day my mother loaded a bunch, but not all, of our stuff into her Isuzu Trooper and started driving. At the time we had a massively pregnant cat and a dog who had just gotten hit by a car and should not have lived. We also had my sister, who was three and my great grandmother who was 398 and had emphysema, but wouldn't quit smoking. My dad went to Israel for his sister's wedding and we ended up renting an apartment in Ocean City where we jammed ourselves, the massively pregnant cat, the crippled dog, my hacking 398 year old great grandmother and my sister Hope who quickly became fascinated with the idea of pooping on the beach.

The apartment was the size of a volkswagen. The kitchenlivingroombedroom was combined and then we had a bathroom and another bedroom in the back which had two twin beds. My mother and great grandmother slept back there and Hope and I slept on the pull out couch. My mother set up two cardboard boxes in her bedroom - one as the cat's delivery room and the other as the dog's ICU. The cat did not approve and gave birth to about seventeen kittens under the pull out couch bed in the kitckenlivingroombedroom, which prevented us from closing the bed for the rest of the summer. We had to crawl over it to get from the front door to anywhere else in the apartment, without stepping on a kitten. I don't remember a night spent without sandy bedsheets. I think I still have grains of sand permanently embedded in my back. We spent every single day at the beach and every single night at the board walk eating frozen bananas on sticks and running in sincere terror from the man with the chainsaw who came flying out of the Haunted House at the end of the pier every 20 minutes or so.

That summer I befriended a girl named Katrina who was about my same age, but was already six feet tall. She wanted to be a supermodel. Katrina was 13, but looked and acted as if she were a good ten years my senior. Her dad was in the military and she had older sisters, one of whom had a baby already. Katrina, a devout Duran Duran fan, had actually even been fingered. I was in total awe of her. Whenever we went to the boardwalk older boys, boys in high school even, maybe college, came up and asked for her number. She knew how to smile and flirt, and not only had Katrina been fingered (oh my god) she also got drunk. She could drink like three wine coolers. Katrina was like a six foot, blonde, wild berry flavored goddess in my eyes. Never, had I met a more glamorous and fascinating individual. I proceeded to spend every waking hour that I could in her shadow.

"You are totally uptight." Katrina declared. "We need to get you drunk and get you kissed. It's so lame that you've never kissed a boy. You can't go into eighth grade without being kissed. I mean, I had my first kiss when I was ten already. We're doing it tonight!"

TO BE CONTINUED...
Wednesday, May 16, 2007

How I Got My Name

Things are going well. Husband will be better in 6 weeks. In the meantime I am focusing and writing and have found myself exceptionally creative.

As I revamp the blog and transition my identity I find myself thinking about all sorts of experiences I've had that I'm excited to write about - those things I am most afraid to write and which are the only things worth writing about. One of the biggest of these things I am afraid to write about is the very nature of my existence and the strange way that I ended up on earth in the first place. I've delighted in shifting my writing. I liken it to Madonna and how she always changed her image so she wouldn't become boring. I'm going from the Like a Virgin phase to Like a Prayer, metaphorically. I think Madonna was at her best in dark curls amidst the gospel choir.

I figured when writing about myself, that I ought to start at the beginning, and one of the most troubling things about my life to me, has been that I've never once, not ever, seen the two people who at some point, obviously got naked together to create me, have a friendly conversation. Never, in the entire history of the planet, have two more different people had sex than my mother and biological father, with whom I have no relationship. I have never been able to comprehend their pairing.

When my mother was pregnant with me, she was seventeen and lived in a trailer at a crossroads near a pine woods. My father, just a couple years older, was a student at a Baptist seminary, where he was studying to become a missionary and eventually a preacher. While my mother folded baby clothes and mulled over what she was going to name me, my father had a more serious struggle. Future preachers aren’t supposed to get high school girls knocked up and if they do they are supposed to marry them immediately and pretend the baby was five months premature, but due to the grace of the Good Lord, the baby was born normal sized and fully formed. My mother had little interest in marriage, but agreed to it briefly in order to get out of her parents’ home, which she found too strict and too crowded (she came from a family of six). She wanted a trailer of her own.

Once married, the reluctant newlyweds, who were disturbingly mismatched on so many levels, had a series of arguments over what to name their child. My mother had bleached blonde hair and wore frosty, blue eye shadow. She liked earth shoes and patchouli and had ambitions of selling her macramé plant hangers in a traveling craft fair out of the back of a camper. My father envisioned a life of seersucker and bowties; revival meetings in third world countries, where desperate heathens would thank him earnestly for introducing them to Jesus. He wanted to spend his weekends sipping lemonade at Bible study, whereas my mother’s idea of a good time involved corn liquor, a bon fire and the Allman Brothers. Jesus Christ to her was a curse, paired more often with “god dammit” than with “hallelujah.” Obviously, this couple would have a difficult time agreeing on anything, forget trying to come up with a mutually pleasing name for a baby.

My father wanted his child to share his initials, R.S. My mother wanted an interesting name. This was the early 70s after all and interesting names abounded. My father refused to allow an “interesting” name. He wanted a Biblical name. There aren’t a lot of choices for women’s names starting with R or S, so he decided my name, were I a girl, should be Ruth Sarah. He was quite passionate about it. My mother was correctly convinced that I was a girl and wouldn’t even think of a boy’s name. She wanted to name me Shanna Nicole, which apparently was a trendy name at the time for pregnant seventeen year olds in trailer parks in the South. Ruth Sarah was out of the question because my mother had a great aunt named Ruth who had been nasty and bitter since her husband was shot in a poker game gone wrong. Ruhamah Sheba was not much better. Finally, the couple came to a compromise. They found a name upon which both could agree. The name was not Biblical and it was not interesting. It had the initials R.S. and was plain enough to not cause Baptists suspicions that I was not actually five months pre-mature. My name was going to be Robin Sue. This was the perfect name because if by chance I ended up being a boy, which my mother still refused to even acknowledge was a possibility, my name could be Robin Sean. Everyone was thrilled.

My mother went into labor alone in her trailer by the pine woods, on a full moon Saturday night in November. It was two days before the first snow. She drove herself to the hospital because my father had since quit the Baptist seminary to take a job taking inventory in the deep freezer at a food packing plant. He worked the midnight shift.

When I was born, my mother was still alone, but her family, parents and five siblings were all clustered in the waiting room, drinking coffee and anxious to meet Robin Sue, the first of a new generation, who would hopefully be the one to correct their past mistakes and elevate the family to a more respectable status. The family was a bunch of screw-ups, save for my grandmother, a proper, Catholic, French war bride. They all took after their father, my grandfather, who drank and caroused and entertained, but none of them had finished high school and none had settled on any type of career. The youngest, my Aunt Kiki, was 13 at the time and already showing a keen interest in moonshine and southern rock. She would drop out soon too and have her own babies. It was not that my mother's family were bad people, because they weren’t. They were jolly drunks; glorious red-necks with generous, genuine spirits, who were invited to every party in town because they were so much fun. My grandfather was the most fun of all of them. There wasn’t a person in Millpond, even the uppity Baptists, who couldn’t help but crack a smile when he was around. He had an unusual way of transcending the rigid social class structure of the town, which no one before him had done. He could drink with the mayor, the owner of the meat-packing plant where my father worked in the deep freeze, and he could have just as good of a time with the employees at the Scrapple factory or the black men from Green Top who transported trucks of live chickens with him, to the processors. My grandfather was a truck driver, but he should have been a politician for his talent at bringing so many different types of people together working toward to common goal of having fun.

For the six months before I was born, Poppop, as I would call him, had been out of commission. He had back problems resulting from a war injury where he was shot in the war and a bullet lodged in his spine. The doctors told him he would never walk again and the pain was excruciating when he tried. He took to bed and brought the party home. Since he had been laid-up, the bars in town had seen a dramatic decrease in business. When he received the call from my mother, that his first grandchild would arrive that night, he got out of bed, pulled on a pair of pants, zipped up his boots, went outside and started up his pick-up. He walked into the hospital and into the waiting room, his amazed wife and children too stunned to say a word. My mother didn’t know because she was screaming and cursing in the delivery room.

When the nurse cleaned me off and presented me to my mother she informed her that she was a lucky girl.

“Your baby was born with a caul.” The nurse said.

My mother looked at the white membrane covering her baby with horror.

“Don’t worry hon, it comes off in a little while. Its very rare and its extremely good luck. Some folks think it means the baby will be magic, like she’ll be able to tell when storms are coming or if company’s on their way. Babies born with cauls grow up to do great things. That’s how come you don’t see very many of them. Not enough people do great things in this world. No siree. This little girl has a special destiny. I believe it.” The nurse explained. “What’s her name sweetie?”

The way my mother tells it, the second she learned she had a magical baby, she knew she couldn’t give me an ordinary, plain cream of wheat sounding, innocuous, stupid, argue-ending kind of name like Robin Sue. Who the hell ever heard of a great leader with magic powers named Robin Sue?

“I didn’t decide yet.” My mother replied.

“Honey-bell, you’re Daddy has been outside this whole time and he is about to beat down this door to see his little grand baby. Can I let him in?”

“My daddy is an invalid. He can’t even get outta bed, much less come all the way to the hospital. Must be somebody else. You musta got them mixed up.” My mother said, confused.

The nurse went and asked him who he was.

“He said his name is Junior and if you’re name is Sissy, then he is most certainly your daddy, and sweetie, he don’t look like an invalid to me.”

My grandfather walked into the delivery room and took me in his arms. My mother almost passed out. She said she couldn’t even say anything, she just let him hold me and they both cried for a good long time.

“What is her name?” he wanted to know, after he had mopped up his tears with the handkerchief he kept in his pocket.

"I am naming her after you."my mother replied.

My grandfather thought she was naming me Junior or June, but of course she wasn't. She named me my grandfather's proper name, the one he was never called.

The worst irony of this story was that my grandfather wasn't really a Junior at all. His mother was an ignorant, fifteen year old girl from a pig farm who didn't know, or wouldn't tell, who her baby daddy was and back in 1926, this was not good. My great grandmother actually took the secret to the grave, leading me to believe perhaps she'd been molested and my grandfather was a product of incest. She ended naming my grandfather after the doctor who delivered him, who, incidentally, delivered the offspring of livestock more often than the offspring of human beings. My grandfather was sent to a foundling home, where his name became a huge joke and everyone called him Junior to be mean and make fun of the fact that he would never know his dad. For the rest of his life no one called him by his given name until it was printed in his obituary when he died and no one in Millpond knew who the obituary was for.

My mother did my grandfather a great justice by naming me after him because in that act she not only honored him, but also validated his name and who he was. He was good enough to have a Junior himself and on me, it wasn't a cruel joke. I am really, really proud to have my grandfather's name, although I know that I also share the name of a man, somewhere in the deep south, who, a hundred years ago, not only birthed calves and lambs, but also the occasional person.

Now, my name isn't even close to being Robin Sue, so you can well imagine the rage this caused my father when he got off work and came to see his new baby, but by then the birth certificate was signed and recorded so there was nothing he could do. I've often wondered if this was the start of his rejection of me, because things only got worse when my mother brought me home.
Saturday, May 12, 2007

Sickness and Health

My dad busted me so bad. He's been out of town all week and he read my last post. I get a C+ in School of Rock, because I got the name of the song wrong.

"It's not called Teenaged Wasteland!!" he said from LA.

"I know, I know. I realized that afterwards. But whatever. I don't like The Who. In fact, I can't stand The Who."

"What????" my dad cried, "How can a daughter of mine not like The Who??"

My father was completely flabbergasted. I confess, I don't like The Who. So shoot me. I can't like everything and with all the other great bands and artists he's introduced me to over the years, I was bound to not like something.

Our current disagreement is over Amy Winehouse. This woman's voice makes me want to go into a seizure. My dad thinks she's a genius and is going to be a huge star. When he played her for me the first time we were in the car and I wanted to open the passenger side door and throw myself out into 70 mph traffic on the highway.

I have a few updates for you. Husband is doing better. He's still on pain medication, but now he's eating. Apparently something about his condition, maybe it was the anesthesia, maybe the brush with death, unlocked some latent passion within him for Dairy Queen. It's all he wants to eat. I've never had Dairy Queen so many times in one week in my entire life, because if HE eats it, I can't just sit by and watch. I have to have some too, right? Luckily I just get plain vanilla. I love plain vanilla soft serve and guess what I learned. A small cup of DQ vanilla only has about a hundred calories.

I think there's something magical in Dairy Queen ice cream that is healing Husband and making me lose weight. Logic tells you that eating ice cream every single night would have the opposite effect, but every morning the scale sings that I am lighter and lighter. It must the be stress.

I always hated those anorexic bitches that claimed they were skinny because they were just so stressed out that they couldn't eat. When I got stressed out I always ate more. I used anxiety as a justification to eat crap. Whenever a guy dumped me, I made chocolate chip cookies. I always thought that I was a stress eater, but I'm not. I just hadn't had that much stress.

The past week has shown me that this is not true. I finally know what it feels like to be so burdened with anxiety that I can't eat. I guess what was happening before was that I wasn't nearly as stressed as I thought I was, which was why I still had an appetite. This speaks well for me because it shows that I had enough sense to realize that the apocalypse was not forthcoming just because some guy wasn't attracted to me. A few hot chocolate chips later and I was fine.

This week, I was not fine. Now, I'm doing better. I swear, it's something in that vanilla soft serve.

I've never cared for a sick person before. It was strange for me to see my husband hooked up to tubes and needles and machines that beeped and printed out long trails of paper. It was weird that he needed help to the bathroom and that he couldn't eat. I was used to him doing everything. He always filled out paperwork, organized our lives and took out the trash. He was always there to open bottles and move heavy things. It was wonderful. If anything broke, he knew how to fix it. But this time, HE was broke and I couldn't fix him.

I'm not good in emergencies. I'm an idiot. I just panic and cry whenever something goes wrong. I get all fried out over stupid things and am a neurotic head case more often than I'm not. This time though, I miraculously wasn't an idiot. I took control of the situation. I got Husband to the hospital. I packed everything he needed, I took care of all the paying, the paperwork and I kept everything organized. I didn't panic and everything ended up being ok, which made me realize that perhaps I am not nearly the idiot I imagine myself to be.

I called Mommom, my grandmother up in Millpond, and the one who is married to Pop, who has lung cancer. She knows all about taking care of sick people. It's been her whole life. She took care of me when I was little. She cared for her mother who lived with her until she died at 100 and now that Pop hasn't been himself for the past couple years, she's devoted to making him as comfortable and well as can be expected.

"Now you're really married." Mommom told me.

It's the whole sickness and health thing. Husband and I learned early on in our relationship about sticking together in sickness and in health, but it was me who ended up sick.

We got engaged in Sedona, Arizona two years ago. Husband lived in California and I lived here. We had a long distance relationship for three years, flying all over the country to see each other as often as we could. He had a work conference in Phoenix the week of my Spring Break so I decided to take some vacation time and go meet him in the desert. I always wanted to see the South West.

The conference didn't start until Wednesday so we met in Phoenix the weekend before and took a couple days to drive up to Sedona. Husband surprised me with a hotel room that had a real fireplace in our room and a magnificent view of the red rocks.

At sunrise Monday morning he woke me up and slid a ring on my finger. He never asked me if I would marry him, I guess because he knew I would. Instead he said he wanted me to spend the rest of my life with him. It was beautiful. The fireplace crackled and the sun came up from behind the rocks. Everything was perfect. Until I threw up.

Anxious for a celebratory breakfast we took a drive. We planned to eat, go see the energy vortexes or vortices or whatever you call them, and then make our way up to the Grand Canyon. We stopped at this place that boasted ten million, seven hundred twenty eight thousand four hundred and eighty six different permutations of omelette. They even had a peanutbutter and jelly omelette, as if someone would actually order that.

Husband didn't have eggs but I was all about a ham, cheddar and green chili omelette. It tasted kind of funny, but I ate most of it anyway. I figured I was just excited. Maybe I wasn't used to green chilis.

On the way to see the energy vortex I thought I was car sick from the winding, desert roads. I felt hot, then cold and then I realized that I had no interest in a damn energy vortex with a bunch of patchouli reeking hippies standing around talking about their past lives as dolphins. I needed a bathroom. NOW.

We had to go back to the hotel. Almost immediately I had my head buried in the toilet. This is coming from a person who will do anything to avoid throwing up. I've spent many a night shivering on the cold bathroom tile praying to God that I wouldn't puke, but not this time. Puking was non-negotiable. Then it was coming out of both ends because that always happens. So I was throwing up in a trash can while on the toilet, which is just not what I had imagined for my engagment day at all.

I was supposed to be glowing with the anticipation of my nuptuals, overjoyed with bliss that I had found my soul mate and ready to share our love with the world. Not me. I had food poisoning. Instead of giggling, kissing and choosing our wedding colors, I was moaning in agony while Husband cleaned my green chili omelette barf out of the garbage can so I could fill it up again. He even put my hair in a pony tail for me so it wouldn't get throw up in it.

Outwardly this was far from romantic. I had blood coming out of my ass afterall. Brides don't shit blood or erupt in chunks of scrambled egg. And by the way, if you ever poo blood, get to the doctor. It means you probably have E Coli or Shigella, which I did. Unfortunately I was in the middle of the desert and the nearest doctor was 20 miles away. At the rate that my liquefied insides were flying out of my mouth and butt, there was no way I could handle a car ride that long. I had to stick it out.

Husband never left my side, except to go get me Pedialyte and Gatorade. He promised me that I was going to be ok. He took a picture of me throwing up, which ended up later being really funny and he rubbed my back which ached from the strain of retching. Later when the vomiting subsided, he gave me a bath and put me to bed. We watched Man on Fire because it was on TV, while he gave me little sips of the Pedialyte. By the next night I was much better and we could go back to Phoenix for his conference, although I was very wary about eating anything for a long time afterward.

A lot of people would get superstitious about this. I mean, what are the odds of someone getting E Coli a few hours after becoming engaged? Some would think it a bad omen, the Universe's way of warning me that maybe he wasn't The One and that I was making a terrible mistake. I saw it as the opposite.

I had a man who could love me with diareeah. He knew me as a human being, a person with flaws, a person who pukes and craps and makes mistakes like ordering green chili omelettes. He didn't want some fake, dolled up princess in a white dress and a tiara. Husband proved to me on the day that we got engaged, that he really meant it, that he was in this for real and that he would always, always take care of me and that my comfort and well-being would always be his priority, no matter how disgusting and human I could be. We understood the meaning of "in sickness and in health" before we were officially married.

I hope that I was able to take care of him as well as he has cared for me. I think it's almost time for more Dairy Queen.
Monday, May 07, 2007

Rock Star Collapses on Stage

I've always been a fan of the Rock Star biography made into a movie starring A-List celebrities made to look like the Rock Star. I like a good Rockumentary too.

Growing up, my dad instilled in me a solid appreciation for music. Music was a huge part of our lives. We always had aspiring musicians living in our house doing bong hits and lounging around getting ready to be something big. At one point my parents brought a Southern Rock band to Millpond, rented an old farmhouse and tried to get them all off coke so they could go tour. While they were all trying to stop freebasing, I used to play with their instruments.

Later when we moved to New York I perpetually missed the bus, so my dad, who was not a morning person, had to drive my ass to school in the Buick. On the way we listened to the classic rock station and he would quiz me.

"What album is this from?"

"What year did the White Album come out?"

"Who does Teenage Wasteland?"

"What band is Jeff Beck with?"

"Breakfast in America is who?"

"Lou Reed was with what band before going solo and what was the female singer's name?"

I got good. I may have been missing the bus on purpose just to attend my dad's School of Rock in the car every morning. I still remember this stuff. Now he's constantly calling and asking me all the names of people he can't remember.

"Lindsey from Fleetwood Mac...god dammit, what's his last name?" he'll ask.

But it's not just Classic Rock. My dad is cool. When I was 15 he bought the Jane's Addiction, Nothing's Shocking tape for me; the one with the controversial cover. He introduced me to Talking Heads and countless other artists and bands over the years. I owe him big time for my good taste in music. Without my dad I may very well be listening to Ashlee Simpson right now.

My dad passed on to me his love of Rock Star Biographies Made Into Movies. We like to watch them together. Throughout the years my dad not only taught me ABOUT Rock Stars, he taught me to BE a Rock Star.

Most Rock Stars lives follow a similar pattern. They come up from humble origins, they have some great talent, they get huge, they get lots of fans and adoration, they have some steadfast lover who sticks beside them through all of their shit, even when they start to act like a jackass, which they all inevitably do. Then...they collapse on stage

Readers, what you have just witnessed from me was a metaphorical collapse on stage. You know, Jim Morrison did it. My personal favorite collapse on stage scene was done by Sissy Spacek as Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner's Daughter. Joaquin did some excellent collapses as Johnny Cash. I was due for mine.

The good news is that the collapse on stage is the turning point for the movie. Most often, though not with Jim Morrison, alas, the collapse on stage triggers all sorts of self realization, getting off drugs, and prompts the Rock Star to have a massive come back where the movie ends, the steadfast lover smiles from the corner of the stage as the Rock Star performs a big hit and brings down the house.

Recently we've seen a few real life collapses on stage, which in 20 years are going to make for excellent scenes in a film where a starlet, not yet born, will play Britney Spears shaving her head. Just wait. I guarantee you there will be a Britney Spears bio film one day. Remember when Mariah Carey freaked out? They'll make that into a movie too, but it won't be good.

So look, I had a collapse on stage. Luckily I'm no Lady Sings the Blues over here. I'm not in need of detox like Ray Charles. There's no drugs, no partying. I'm just having a mild nervous breakdown. I don't need to go to rehab. I don't need Reese Witherspoon to take me up to her house in the Tennessee woods and chain me to a bed while I sweat and heave and cry trying to get better. I'm not even crazy. I just need a little time.

Where Billie couldn't kick heroin, I'm addicted to running myself into the ground. I know, you all told me to take care of myself, but I didn't listen.

My collapse on stage was a result of three days of literally no sleep and no food worrying over Husband, combined with finals week, working too much, excessive multitasking, trying too hard to be perfect in everything all the time, a troll, bad news about Pop having lung cancer and taking care of Husband after having a terrible scare with him.

Readers it wasn't good. I collapsed on stage in front of all of you. Now I've confused the blogosphere.

I'm an optimist of the sort that baffles other people, so immediately I saw the good side to this all. I wrote the letter this morning. It was a freeing catharsis. I realized I needed to make some changes and I'm sticking with them - sort of.

I'm not killing the blog.

I'm changing it.

I'm also writing less often because I need to write my book. I think once or twice a week is good. Now that I know you guys care about me and my stories and not just a bunch of predictable, yet funny, stuff about rich people acting up, I feel free to really explore my creativity and share the good stuff - the stuff about me. The Cakewalk stories. The stories about my childhood, the stories my parents and grandparents tell me about their childhoods. You need to not only get to know Memere Marie and Aunt Kiki better, but you need to be introduced to my two uncles as well. You all can't go on not knowing about how I stepped barefoot on a snake when I was six and gained fame and recognition amongst the children of Millpond from then on out. I have to tell you how my grandfather drove me to school in a pickup truck loaded with watermelons and embarassed me in front of my classmates.

I had a teacher this semester who said the only thing worth writing is the thing you're most afraid of. I'm going to ferret out those fears and write about them in all of their ridiculous, hilarious absurdity. Don't think for a second this is going to turn into some mush ball of creamed corn and shit that sounds like it came from the inside of a watercolor greeting card. Oh hell no.

I'm getting ready for my comeback. This blog is going to be new and improved. I'm not abandoning you. I'm going to kick ass for you. I promise. As the Dandy Warhols say, I wanna be "Cool Like Kim Deal." Kim Deal is my ultimate Rock Star idol of all time, and luckily she never, to my knowledge, ever collapsed on stage.

I'm going to keep my writing here for a while. Don't remove me from your links. When I get my new blog ready, we'll make the transition as smoothly as possible, so we don't lose anyone.

In South Florida I see people who are true, honest to God pieces of shit every day. It wears on a person sometimes, but you have to transcend it. You have to bloom where you're planted.

You readers have totally restored my faith. I am in gracious, thankful awe of your outpouring and so was my wonderful mom who read all your comments and said "Have you lost your mind? These people love you. You can't leave them. You just need something to eat. Now shut up, eat something, take a break and do what you need to do."

She's right. Of course. As usual. She also said I need to focus like I've never focused before and get the novel done. It's my main priority.

I'm resting until Saturday when you will have your next post. I swear I'll eat, sleep and write the novel. On the weekend, I'm yours, so don't forget to come back Saturday. Mark your calendars people.

Thank you and I hope you can forgive me. You have inspired me.

Alright Already

Y'all are making me cry. I had no idea I had inspired and entertained this many people so much. Wow. That's a lot of power I didn't know I had.

Let me think about this. Don't take me off your blogrolls just yet. I may revamp sooner. Although I am sick to death of writing about rich white people, I may write about myself. I need a little time.

I need to go pick up some food for Husband and have lunch with my mom, so I'm going to talk it over with her. You guys know how great she is. Let's see what Mama has to say. Damn, I wish I could get HER to start a blog. Can you imagine? She's too busy and too ADD so don't get all excited.

PS. I think Husband is getting better! He has once again regained his deep reverence for my boobs! Plus he wants to eat everything in sight.

Old Post

I deleted this post because it became totally irrelevent at this point.
Sunday, May 06, 2007

I'm Quitting

My resignation letter is forthcoming.

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