Friday, May 29, 2009

The Wide Lawns Wedding Guide - Part 3

The Dress

Girls really flip out over their wedding dresses for some reason. I guess it's the whole princess thing. I wasn't hung up on the dress, but I was incredibly naive.

A couple months after becoming engaged my mother suggested we go dress shopping. She thought wedding dress shopping would mean several visits to several stores. All of my friends had spent days looking for their perfect dress. This seemed to be the norm, but I wasn't interested.

"We don't have to do that. I know what dress I want, so we can just go and get it before the wedding."

I lived around the corner from a bridal shop, which I often had to pass. For the past couple months they had a beautiful dress in their window display and I thought it would work perfectly for me. It was very pretty. My plan had been to go and pick it up a couple weeks before the wedding and this is where my naivete came in. If you get a dress in a bridal shop, they are not "off the rack." They have to be sewn and fitted and all kinds of crap that takes several months. I had no clue. My mother filled me in and we went to the shop.

There were several Bridezillas in the bridal shop in various stages of dress fittings and fit throwings. They kept saying things were uneven or lumpy or wrinkly and I honestly just could not see what they were talking about.

"I want that one," I said about the window dress.

"Are you sure?" said the bridal shop lady.

"Yeah."

"Have you tried it on before?"

"No."

The lady insisted I try it on and I did, all ready to buy the beautiful dress from the window and be done with the dress purchasing. This is also back when I thought wedding dresses cost a couple hundred dollars at the most.

The bridal shop ladies got me into this thing, hooked it, laced it up, fluffed the skirt and made me stand on a box in front of a big mirror and this is when I realized that the beautiful dress from the window display truly looked horrendous on me. It was foofy and puffy, frilly, itchy and made me look fat.

"This one is on sale," said the bridal shop lady.

That's why they had it in the window.

"Oh yeah? How much?"

"Only six thousand."

I almost fell of the box. I was standing there in a six thousand dollar (on sale!) dress that made me look fat and itched.

"Are you kidding me? It doesn't even look good on me and it costs six thousand dollars? Holy crap."

I instantly hated this dress that I had previously thought was the dress for me. I wanted to tear it off, step all over it and spill craberry juice on it.

"You need to try on some other styles. This one isn't working best for you," the lady said, "I have the perfect dress."

I didn't really like the dress she brought.

"I don't want one of those kinds of dresses that's straight across the top and it's kind of fancy and ball gowny. It's not what I had in mind," I protested.

"Just try it on."

"Ughh, fine."

Once I tried on the second dress, the one that was nothing like what I had imagined I wanted or would ever look good in, I didn't want to take it off. It looked good on me. It hid a variety of flaws, was comfortable if a little heavier than I expected and best of all it was thousands and thousands of dollars cheaper than the stupid "on sale" dress from the window.

"Can I wear it home?" I asked.

The answer was no, so I sat around in the bridal store in it for a little while longer and then I bought it. The whole thing took an hour.

"You are the easiest bride we've ever had," the lady said as I paid.

No one could believe that I bought the second dress and that the whole thing took an hour.

The reason why is because most wedding dresses are pretty and most of them aren't all that different from one another. The key is to find something in your price range that suits your figure without emotionally investing too much into the notion of "Thee Dress." Jeez, you're only going to wear it for a day anyway.

But you don't have to buy a dress from a bridal shop like I did. You can buy dresses off the rack for great prices and they don't have to be labeled as "wedding dresses" either. In fact, I don't even think they have to be white. White doesn't always look good on everyone. I have a friend who found a stunning wedding dress at the Salvation Army. Others I know had their dresses made for them or had their mother's dresses altered and wore those. You could buy a simple sundress at Ross or Target and accesorize it to make it look fantastic. Just make sure that the dress is comfortable and that it makes you feel confident and pretty.

For wedding dresses you can never go wrong with simple and elegant. You start running into trouble when the frills, crystals, beads, rosettes and puffs of tulle take up too much space. A little embellishment is nice. A lot of it looks like some kind of Quince from Hell nightmare. You want people to see you, not some hideous monstrosity of ruffles and sequins with a person hiding under layers of fabric looking like she's trying to fight her way out of a foaming maw of chiffon.

I'm all for creativity with wedding attire. A friend I worked with in Atlanta got married in Halloween and everyone, including her and her groom showed up in costume. I love that. The only thing that I don't like is when brides try to be too sexy. Avoid anything that looks like it's better suited to Samba dancers in Rio during Carnevale. Save the spandex, thigh high slits, clear platform heels, backless Lil Kim dresses for the wedding night, not the actual wedding. Please. "Whorey" isn't the word you want your wedding guests to use to describe your wedding gown.

The Wide Lawns Wedding Guide - Part 2

Before we go any further, I have to be completely honest here, lest someone try to call me out as a hypocrite. I had a big, fancy wedding. It was one of the most fun things I've ever done and I don't regret it for a second. The reasons why it was so fun were: I was marrying the right person for the right reasons, no one was suffering financially or going into debt over our wedding, many people were genuinely happy about our wedding and because we had the right attitude about the whole thing.

I never imagined that I would have a wedding like I did. Unlike a lot of women, I wasn't given to a rigid, unchanging ideal of what my wedding had to be like. I think I kind of imagined something small and intimate, maybe at my parents' house. At one point I thought the San Francisco Court House was perfect, maybe with a quiet dinner somewhere really nice afterwards. All I wanted was my husband. The rest wasn't a big deal, but I wanted it to be meaningful if we were going to do it.

My family was really excited when I got engaged. No one in my family ever had a wedding. My parents were married in their apartment, by a friend who was a lawyer, with no family members present to celebrate their love. I know my mother has always wished she could have had something more traditional. Aunt Kiki never had a wedding and neither did my grandparents. If I had an actual wedding ceremony, I would be the first. My mother really wanted to give me a dream wedding and had money set aside for it.

She put the money in a bank account and told me that she didn't want to meddle or force her ideas on me at all.

"Go plan your wedding however you want and don't go over budget," she said.

Naturally my first idea was to run to the courthouse, spend a weekend in the Keys afterwards and use the money to buy a house, although thank God I didn't. The housing market was about to crash and I would have lost my ass. When I ran this idea by my mother she practically threatened my life if I did that.

"You have to use it for a wedding and nothing else," she said, "and you must spend all of it. If you have any left over, we'll use it to help people travel here. You can't cheap out and try to keep the money."

Because of course that's exactly what I was going to do.

So Husband and I, modest, shy people, found ourselves in an unusual position. We had money, but we could only spend it on a wedding. We were a little uncomfortable and self conscious. We discussed it and realized that if we were to have a wedding, we would be making a lot of people really happy and that's what we most wanted. We decided that the wedding was going to be a big reunion, a celebration of many different families and a celebration of all kinds of loves. It was not going to be "our day." It was going to be everyone's day and a gift to our guests. It was ultimately this attitude that made our wedding as successful as it was.

As we began planning our wedding, Husband and I made some ground rules that worked extraordinarily well. Here is our list:

1. The wedding would not be about us. It would be about our friends and families. The wedding was a gift from us to our guests.

2. There would be no "must haves."

3. We would not have preconceived notions or ideals about what our wedding was supposed to be like.

4. It would be very fun, not stuffy and would include traditions from the many different backgrounds represented.

5. The wedding would represent our personalities.

6. We would also be mindful of how extraordinarily lucky we were to have this opportunity and we would be constantly thankful and appreciative of all that we were given.

These were very easy rules to stick to.

If you're going to have a wedding, these rules work well. I highly recommend them. It doesn't matter the scale or budget of your wedding either.

So while weddings can often be wasteful, excessive, self centered, dreadful affairs, they can also be beautiful, meaningful events that bring loved ones together and create life-long memories. Judging from the first half of my wedding guide yesterday, one might think I'm anti-wedding. I'm actually not. I really enjoy most weddings, but I can't stand the princess "My Day" attitude of entitlement that so many people seem to have these days. I don't like seeing people married for the wrong reasons, spending and spending to satisfy a void within themselves, trying desperately to prove something.
Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Wide Lawns Wedding Guide - Part 1

If you are planning a wedding here are the two single most important things you need to do, hands down. Nothing is more important to your wedding than these two things.

1. You must first ask yourself if you want a wedding more than a marriage. Answering this question honestly is very difficult and the level of introspection and objectivity about oneself required can be beyond many people's abilities. Just try. A lot of girls and women see the pretty covers on the wedding magazines (Martha Stewart Weddings still gets me every time in the grocery line) and become caught up in elaborate, unrealistic fantasies. Society puts a lot of pressure on women, from the time we are little girls, to find a husband and live like a princess and have this big, perfect, fancy wedding. This is all a giant load of crap. Don't fall for it. This fantasy will destroy your life.

Your wedding will last a day (three if you're Hindu) and your marriage should last for many, many years. The wedding is over before you know it and then you're stuck with a partner who farts and throws wet towels on the floor and poops with the bathroom door open and inevitably will have several habits that in five years will sometimes make you want to stick a fork in his or her eyeball. This is what marriage is. Sometimes it's great. Sometimes it sucks. It ebbs and flows. You need to understand that ahead of time.

If you spend more time planning your wedding than planning your marriage, this is a big red flag and you might want to reconsider getting married at this time.

If you find yourself in what I call a Need-Based Relationship do not get married. Use the wedding money and go to therapy instead. Need-Based Relationships never, ever work out. A Need-Based Relationship is one in which one or both partners are expected to fill a need or a void for the other that that person should fill themselves.

If you are getting married (or in a relationship period) because you need: money, a place to live, to get away from your parents or your ex or your idiot roommates, a car, a father or mother for your children from someone else, immigration status, a good looking partner to make you feel better about yourself, a personal slave, an accessory, revenge, a body in bed beside you to ease your loneliness, to prove something to someone else, to satisfy your parents, culture or whatever other entity is pressuring you, or to fill a prescribed role that you have created in your elaborate fantasies that no real human being could ever live up to - then DO NOT GET MARRIED. Please, I'm begging you.

The only reason you should get married to someone is because you love them and because you want to put in the hard work of creating a life together with them long after the wedding is over.

So let's say you've successfully made it past the first most important thing. You still have to overcome the second.

2. The second most important thing to do when planning a wedding is DO NOT SPEND MONEY THAT YOU OR SOMEONE ELSE DOESN'T HAVE.

Even modest weddings cost money. Far too many people go into needless, stupid debt just to have a wedding. This is possibly one of the most idiotic things a person can do. I've even seen couples put their parents in debt to fulfill their wedding fantasies and it's horrible, selfish and wrong. Don't do it. There are infinite ways to have beautiful, romantic, meaningful and memorable weddings on very small budgets. And I'm talking very small budgets. You may only have a hundred dollars to spend on your wedding without going into debt. You can still do it. Trust me. We'll get into that later though. The point here is not to take out loans, not to run up your credit cards and put any sort of financial stress on yourself, your partner or your families or anyone else who might give you money. Just simply do not do it.

But of course if you have lots of money at your disposal, no one will be financially strained or in debt over it, then have your wedding. At the same time, if you don't have lots of money, don't stress or freak out or feel cheated or like you "deserve" some elaborate, ridiculous wedding because you want to feel like a princess or because your prom date stood you up in high school or whatever nonsense you can come up with to try to justify your unrealistic desire for excess.

If you can one hundred percent say that you want a marriage more than a wedding, that you are not in a need-based relationship and that no perfectly photographed spread in a wedding magazine or anything else will ever tempt you to spend money that you or someone else doesn't have, then we can go on to Part 2, which is the fun stuff.

The Wide Lawns Bridal Guide Introduction

Last week I went wedding dress shopping with a friend of mine who is to be married in October and the whole ordeal was much easier than I expected. This is mostly because she is beautiful and skinny as hell and pretty much anything looks good on her. You could wrap her in a towel and send her down the aisle and the guests would still gasp at her beauty. I had kind of dreaded the whole dress shopping thing because I've seen it go terribly awry with others. This time it went very smoothly, but it reminded me of my own dress shopping experience and it got me to thinking that I should write a Bridal Guide and share some of my expertise on the subject as it is wedding season after all and I know no fewer than five brides-to-be in current fevered frenzies of wedding planning.

This has been on my mind for a while actually. A couple months ago when I asked readers to ask me questions and give me feedback on what they'd like to read about, one comment stood out. Someone wanted to know about my wedding dress. I thought that was really odd and potentially interesting, so I kept it in the back of my mind. Then, about a month ago when I was dying of Bunny Flu, my single friend Carina came over and watched a marathon of "Bridezillas" with me. We were both horrified and riveted.

"Can you believe this?" Carina asked.

"These people are awful," I said.

Our favorite was a white trash Bridezilla from I think Montana or Wyoming who hated her new in-laws and was having them all banned from "her" wedding. This girl was pure evil, but the thing is, I've seen her kind before.

Carina and I sat stunned as other Bridezillas, suffering from a slew of anxiety disorders, OCD, Borderline Personality Disorder and just plain Nasty Selfish Bitch Disorder screamed, threw tantrums, hyperventilated and destroyed chairs, flowers, cakes and everyone else's sanity.

"There are really people who act like this," I said, "I've seen them."

"Ughh, so have I. You though, were nothing like this," Carina said.

"Of course not. It's ridiculous. I should write a bridal guide."

"You should."

And so I am.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Little Story For My Sister

This afternoon I went to my sister's work and sat at her bar for lunch. Afterwards, she expressed how happy she was that I did that. And I was happy too. She works two jobs and it seems like she never has a day off. She also goes to school and manages to fit in time at the gym in between shifts. She has a tremendous amount of discipline to be able to do something like that, because if it were me, I'd probably be trying to fit in a nap or something, not a damned Urban Rebounding class, whatever that is (she says it involves a trampoline). She deserves a lot of credit and maybe sometimes she doesn't get the credit she deserves.

I wanted to share with you one of my favorite stories from when we were little (there are many, let me tell you).

My sister came to live with us at about the same time as Tammy. Refer back to the Tammy story. You see, my sister is my grandfather's daughter. Although she is eight years younger than me, my sister is actually my half aunt, or my mother's half sister. We call each other "sister" because we were raised that way, because that's how we feel about one another, and because it's much easier than explaining the whole elaborate, convoluted family tree to people we've just met, as that tends to frighten them and make them back away slowly.

When my sister came to New York from Millpond to live with us, I was pretty happy. I liked playing with her and she sort of kept me company in spite of the fact that I was a pre-teen and she was a toddler. She was impossibly cute with a round face, slight lisp and big, dark blue-grey eyes. At first she suffered an unfortunate bowl cut. She had the same, fine, straight blonde hair that she does now and my grandfather, not knowing what sorts of haircuts are becoming to little girls, simply gave her the same haircut he'd give a little boy. My mom fixed that pretty quickly. She was at the peak of her perm mania back then and had just subjected me to the spiral permed, spiked mullet which ruined my social life for several years. My mother was perm crazy, so she actually gave my four year old little sister a perm. I'm actually surprised my mom didn't try to perm the dog and cat too. The woman loved curls. Luckily for my sister, the perm, in spite of its being reprehensible in a kind of Todders and Tiaras kind of way, looked a lot better than the bowl cut. It actually made her even cuter. Now everyone said she looked exactly like Shirley Temple. She really didn't, but for the past seventy years Shirley Temple has been the go-to look-alike for people who can't think of any other cute kid to compare another cute kid to.

She was cute though, my sister. Total strangers would stop us on the street and gasp over her cuteness. Of course they weren't doing this to me. In seventh grade I was probably at my most awkward. The mullet didn't help. I was gangly skinny, slouched and had a big nose and a bad overbite. I didn't yet have braces. They'd come on the day the Challenger exploded. My sallow complexion made me look like I was perpetually on the verge of coming down with something and friends and family were always pulling my mother aside and whispering concerns about anorexia. I remember living in utter terror of anorexia. I had read an article in "Seventeen" about it, completely misunderstanding what anorexia was and believing that it was some kind of disease that you caught which caused you to waste away. I swore I had it. It kept me up at nights. I used to pray to God before I went to bed at night to please make me pretty and also to please make sure I didn't catch anorexia.

I became very concerned about my appearance and constant compliments directed at my sister caused me to obsess over my own ugliness. In my head she was the pretty one and I was the ugly one. Pretty was good. Ugly was bad. I was ugly and bad. No one liked me. It all made sense and as much as I loved my newly acquired sister-aunt (which sounds straight out of Polygamist cult jargon) I was jealous of her too.

My little sister though, was not as innocent as she seemed, and as everyone believed.

"What a sweet, darling child," people would coo.

"An angel," my mother would agree.

One day my mother came home and found a series of unusual black markings on the hallway wall which were accented by red ink stamps that said "PAID." My father had a stamp like this in his desk.

"WHO DID THIS????" she roared.

My sister and I were both silent.

"I can't believe you damned kids. We rent this house. You know better than this!! Now we won't get our deposit back. Jesus Christ!!! Which one of you did this???"

Innocently, my sister pointed at me.

"She did."

"You did this? God dammit. How old are you? You're twelve years old! Have you lost your mind?? Why would you -"

"I didn't do it!!" I protested.

Because I didn't. I read "Seventeen" for God's sakes and harbored a passion for Ricky Schroder which was about to be replaced for an enduring love of Andrew McCarthy. I wore Bonne Bell lipgloss and misted myself with Love's Baby Soft perfume. I was practically a grown woman and I was above such nonsense as writing on walls. I was insulted.

"Don't you lie to me."

She turned and asked my sister one more time who did it and my sister solemnly pointed at me and said I did it.

And then my mother lost it and actually spanked me. I could not believe it. I screamed and yelled and pled my case all through the spanking, which I think was the only actual "spanking" my mother ever gave me. It was humiliating. She was treating me like a child. I was falsely accused and this was bullshit and I was leaving. I stormed out the front door and stalked off down the street.

While I was running away my mother again questioned my sister. Although I wasn't there for this part of the story, I've heard it about three hundred times, so this is what happened.

My mother started to feel guilty. It didn't make sense. I was far too old to write on walls. My sister was ripe wall writing age. But could a tiny, innocent, darling child come up with a lie like that? My mother couldn't imagine, especially because my sister was unusually well behaved all the time.

"Look," my mother said to my sister, "Your older sister has run away because I spanked her for writing on the walls. I spanked her because you said she did it, so if she never comes home, it's because you told a lie and lying is very bad. So, did she really write on the walls?"

"No," my sister said.

"Oh really? Who wrote on the walls then?"

"Mickey Mouse."

"Excuse me?"

"Mickey Mouse wrote on the walls?"

My sister nodded.

"So you're telling me that while I was gone, that Mickey Mouse came into this house, wrote on the walls and then left?"

"Yes, but he didn't leave."

"You mean to tell me that Mickey Mouse is still here?"

My sister nodded again.

"Well you're going to show me where he is because I'm going to tear his behind up for writing on these walls because WE DO NOT WRITE ON WALLS."

"You're going to spank Mickey Mouse?"

"YES I AM."

My sister led my mother into the den where Mickey Mouse slumped on our sofa, apparently exhausted from his wall writing frenzy. She pointed.

"See."

Mickey Mouse was in fact, really on our sofa, except it was my sister's favorite Mickey Mouse doll. He had a plastic head, hands and feet with a plush body. She carried him around everywhere.

"He did it?" my mother asked.

"Mmm Hmm."

"How exactly did your Mickey Mouse doll write on the wall?"

My sister then proceeded to demonstrate. Mickey Mouse had big, black plastic ears. When rubbed against a hard surface, like a wall, the black on his ears would rub off. You could write with Mickey Mouse's ears.

"See," my sister repeated, "Mickey Mouse did it."

I guess this was the opposite logic of "guns don't kill people, people kill people." Children don't write on walls, Mickey Mouses write on walls!

My sister believed herself innocent of wall writing because in her mind, technically she hadn't made the marks, Mickey Mouse had. That bastard.

"You are in big trouble Young Lady," my mother told her.

Not only had she written on the walls, she had told a lie that caused me to get spanked and had attempted to get herself off on a technicality. This was some complicated conniving for one so young. My mother first took Mickey Mouse away. Because Mickey Mouse was so naughty and could not refrain from wall writing, he had to stay in the closet for a week until he could behave himself. Then my sister got a spanking and had to stay with Tammy (God help her, the spanking was preferable) while my mother went to find me.

I hadn't made it very far. I was only about three blocks up the street, but I'll never forget my mother pulling up in the car and apologizing.

"Please get in the car. I'm so sorry," she said.

"I don't know."

"Come on."

"You spanked me. You believed that I would write on walls."

"I'm so sorry. But if you get in the car I'll drive straight to Friendly's."

And she did. We shared a Reese's Cup Sundae and cursed Mickey Mouse.

I can't stand him to this day.

My sister probably doesn't remember this story, but it cracks me up every time my mother retells it.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009

New Blog

One of my faithful readers has sent me a link to her new blog Consultant Calamities, all about catastrophes experienced by Independent Home Party Consultants ( you know like Tupperware parties and the Chef one and the scrapbooking one along with that embarassing sex toy one I went to a couple years ago). The stories are sent in by several different contributors and are very funny, especially if you like reading about people acting like jackasses, which I know you do. I mean, I certainly do. And if you have your own stories along these lines, I urge you to send them in.

I Don't Practice Santeria... Part 3

(my finger is healing really nicely.)

The carved wooden head scared the crap out of me. But I kind of liked it at the same time. As much as it was scary, it also seemed as if it wasn't scary at all, like it was looking out for me, smiling at me. I kept it in my room so nothing would happen to it. We had two cats at the time and I could easily imagine them engaging in a boisterous soccer game across our white tiled floors, using the head as their ball and banging it against the baseboards at all hours of the night.

Alberto Reyes called the next morning looking for his head. He had no idea what happened, he said. He had never left it anywhere and he promised to come get it back immediately. When he arrived, he had brought me an enormous bundle of gardenias, all waxy petaled, sweet and dripping with rain. They scented the entire house.

"You said you liked these," he said, "So I brought you some from my house. My tree is full of them."

"They smell so good!" I exclaimed.

"I'll bring them for you whenever I come. Got to get on your good side. I don't want to piss them off, you know."

"Who?"

"The spirits, Baby. Can't make them mad."

"How would you make them mad?"

"Pissing you off."

"Pissing me off makes the spirits mad?" I asked.

"Oh yeah. You're special. You don't know that?"

I shook my head.

"I'm special? Me?"

"Oh yes," Alberto said.

I thrilled at the idea of being special. At the time I was an awkward, nervous teenager who had trouble making friends and couldn't concentrate in school. I was skinny, disorganized and sensitive. I had always wanted to be special.

"You are very, very special," Alberto continued, "The spirits love you. You're like a magnet to them. They're all around you, pretty girl. You don't know it, but they're there and they never leave you. They protect you. They're there for you. I never seen so many spirits on a person. Anybody ever hurt you, the spirits go after them. You want something, the spirits go and get it for you. You are very powerful."

"I am?"

This was extremely exciting because I had never, ever felt powerful.

Alberto took his head back and from then on, whenever he visited he brought me gardenias. If they weren't blooming he brought me tomatoes or mangoes that he grew. If nothing grew, he brought loaves of hot, airy Cuban bread or pots of black beans.

And pretty soon I began to see that maybe Alberto Reyes had been right. Nobody better ever fuck with me.

Throughout my life, there has been a long pattern of people who did me wrong coming to no good end. At the opposite end of that, the people who treated me kindly have all done very well for themselves. Then there is the whole unexplained phenomenon of people I've kissed going on to massive success, as if my very kisses are like blessings. I like these stories the best.

I've tried not to think about the angry co-worker who insulted me and made me cry, leaving work that night only to find himself in a head-on collision that left him in the hospital for weeks. There was the liar whose home was suddenly flooded, all of his possessions ruined, the thieving, gossiping roommate who lost his job immediately after upsetting me, setting off a chain of events that landed him in jail. Then there was the chef who screamed at me for something I didn't do. Mid-rage his wedding ring somehow caught on the edge of a wooden crate, which somehow began to topple over, which then nearly severed his ring finger. The sous-chef rushed him to the hospital and he was out of work for two weeks. When he returned he joked that he was never going to yell at me again. Except it wasn't really a joke and he didn't.

There are too many similar stories to tell you every single one. People who have done me wrong have quickly found out what happens and it usually doesn't take a long time. They'll find themselves in unprecedented runs of bad luck, perpetually under black clouds. Routine tests will come up positive, which is really a negative. They'll lose jobs, small leaks will collapse their ceilings, their cars will begin to cough and sputter, they'll find a lump. Everything will start to hurt.

My stepmother was the most vivid example. Never has another person done me so wrong. Never has anyone suffered such a horrible, undignified death with so many people saying how much she deserved exactly what she got. Except me, which is the greatest irony of all. I had forgiven her. To me, she was a sick, unhappy person. Although her means were despicable, selfish and cruel, ultimately she had been the catalyst needed to finally return me to my mother. For that end alone, I forgave her means. I never wished upon her the death she received, but I can't control these things.

I've never wished suffering on anyone. But I can't control these things. Perhaps it's all a coincidence. I'm a sensible, practical girl. It makes sense to me that people who hurt other people, who live in bitterness and anger will bring disaster upon themselves. Anxiety and depression make people lash out at others. Anxiety and depression also have physical manifestations. Stress makes people sick. Angry people are more impulsive, so naturally they drive recklessly or perform poorly at work. Negative thinking breeds bad luck. Maybe that's what's happening here.

Or maybe it isn't.

A few years ago, in an entirely different setting I had the occasion to meet a Lakota Medicine Man. We were in a professional, very practical, real life, official sort of situation where no ghosty, woo woo kind of foolishness would have been even remotely appropriate. The Medicine Man wore a suit and lived in a regular house, not a tee pee, and there was definitely no sweat lodging involved in our interaction.

"What are you doing here?" he asked me, "Where did you come from?"

I told him my professional duty to be where I was and all the places I'd lived which made him laugh.

"Are you checking up on me?"

"Umm, no, considering you're actually my superior."

"I'm going to stay on your good side," he said, "I haven't seen one of your kind in a long time."

"What kind?"

"You're one of the Thunder People. Very powerful spirits. Very."

A few weeks later I was honored when he gifted me with some beautiful feathers.

"I'm giving you your name," he said and then he said it in his language, translating it afterwards.

"She Who Makes Thunder."

"Use the power for good. Change the world. And don't let anyone mess with you."

I am taking his advice.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Ken Levine is My Hero

My finger looks infected and gross and hurts and got all swollen up, so I'm going to ease up on typing until it heals a little more (oh yeah, had that follow up surgery the other day). I'll finish the "Santeria" story in a day or two. In the meantime, if you're looking for some good weekend reading, please, do yourself a favor and read Ken Levine's American Idol post. Oh my goodness readers. It was utter brilliance. The funniest thing I've read in ages and every single thing I thought but was too stupid to articulate myself. My favorite part was where he said he'd rather listen to a car alarm instead of Kara and her ridiculously horrible song. Ughh. That song. I've seen heart broken high schoolers write fewer cliches on their Live Journals.
Thursday, May 21, 2009

I Don't Practice Santeria... Part 2

When Alberto left, late that night I begged my parents to tell me about him.

"He does Santeria," my mother said.

"He's a bad ass Santero," my dad told me, "His family's like Santeria royalty. As high up as you can get."

"What's Santeria?"

"I don't know a lot about it. That shit scares me, but it's like Cuban Voodoo I guess. Ripping the heads off chickens and shit," my mother explained.

"Whatever it is, whatever they do -It Works," she added after a second.

"What do you mean it works?" I asked.

"Spells. I think they do spells. Chants, sacrifices, spirits. They ask the spirits to do things for them. I don't know. I never asked him too much about it."

"It's an old, old religion the slaves brought from Africa," my father said, "But we've known Alberto for years and he's never talked too much about it. You know, he's our friend, we're not from that same world and to us he lays tile, he's a drummer. Santeria is a big part of his life, maybe the biggest, but it's a secretive thing."

"I want to know how he saved your life," I told my mother.

"I'd been arrested and I was sitting in jail in Millpond awaiting trial. I was there for a couple months already, just waiting."

"Where was I?"

"In kindergarten. You lived with Mommom and Pop. You didn't know I was in jail."

"And you were in jail for selling drugs, right?" I asked.

"Yes. I was selling drugs to make money to hire lawyers to get you back after I lost custody of you. But I became one of the biggest drug dealers on the whole East coast. I was one of the top dogs trafficking from Florida. I was the main supplier and I kept a lot of the supply in my house."

"Wow."

"But the Feds were on to me in Millpond. They had it out for me. They knew what I was doing but they couldn't catch me. They were trying to make a case that would have put me away for years. I knew they were closing in on me, so I cleaned out my supplies and got rid of all of it and a couple hours later they raided my house."

"Oh my God, what did they find?"

"Nothing."

"They took you to jail for nothing?"

"Basically," my mother said, "I had cleaned it out so good, but they still managed to find a couple seeds and stems. Nothing that would have amounted to anything you could have sold or even smoked. But it was enough for them to arrest and charge me and back in Millpond where everyone knows everyone's business the judge set a bail so high I could never make it. I had to sit in that nasty assed jail until my trial."

"So what did you do?"

"I made friends with the girls in there. Mostly black girls. It was pretty much all black girls."

"What had they done?"

"Little shit. I'll tell you, most of those girls were sweet as pie. They'd written bad checks to buy groceries to feed their kids. Prostitution. Most of the women in jail were there because they'd gotten in desperate situations trying to care for their kids without any help. Like me. I was there for the same reason."

"So then what?"

"So I'm rotting in this backwoods jail in Bumfuck Millpond and your father here was back in Florida freaking out. We weren't even married yet at the time but we were madly in love. I wrote him poems every day and long, long letters. I begged him to get me out. Meanwhile, the prosecutor had it out for me. They were going to prove that I was the biggest drug dealer in the state and put me away for years. I would have still been in there now. I would never have seen you again probably if that happened. So I begged your father to help me out and he couldn't. It was the night before my trial started. They had built a case like you wouldn't believe against me. I was going down. That was it. My life was over. So your father here went to Alberto and told him the whole thing."

My dad jumped in.

"I was desperate. I didn't know what the hell to do," he said, "I told Alberto the whole thing, as friends you know. I didn't think he could do anything. I was just telling him the story and how upset I was. And Alberto looks at me and goes 'Don't you fucking worry buddy, I got this one.' I told him - she has to see her daughter. She did this all for her daughter and now because of this, she'll never see her little girl again. He told me not to worry. He said 'That prosecutor's gonna bleed. I'm gonna make him bleed.' Then he left."

"I don't know what the hell Alberto did," my mom continued, "I get to court the next day and it was chaos. I was suicidal. I knew I was never going to marry the man I loved, never going to see my child again. I knew there was no way I could fight this. I had spent every last dollar I had on lawyers trying to fight this. They wanted me to plead guilty and take the sentence. Get it over with. So I get there and the trial is about to start and there's that prosecutor ready to take me down. All of a sudden, somebody comes in, tells him there's been an emergency with the prosecutor's wife who was pregnant at the time. She's hemorrhaging."

"No!!!" I gasped.

"Oh yes. He ran out of that room white as a sheet. They had to bring in a new prosecutor, but this one didn't know shit. The other one had made the case. This one didn't know anything about it. He reviewed the charges. They talked to the judge. Judge said it was ridiculous. He'd never seen something so ridiculous - stems and seeds. All this for some stems and seeds. So they dropped the fucking charges and I walked straight out of that court room a free woman."

"NO!!!"

"Oh yes I did."

"You think it was Alberto, for real?"

"I certainly do. He said he was going to make him bleed."

"But he made his wife bleed."

"Same difference. It worked didn't it?"

Was it just a coincidence? Is there any way to ever know something like that? I couldn't stop thinking about the story. I went to bed and couldn't sleep for thinking about the story. I got up and went into the kitchen for a drink and there, on the kitchen counter, was Alberto's little carved head, stuffed full of dried herbs, seemingly smiling at me. I grabbed it and took it to my bedroom.

To be continued...
Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I Don't Practice Santeria...

Don't mess with me. It's not a good idea. This isn't a threat of course, but more of a warning. If you mess with me, terrible things will happen to you and there's nothing I can do about it. I can't control the spirits.

At first I thought it was a coincidence - the girl who teased me on the playground breaking her wrist at the roller rink later that night. That could happen to anyone. But it happened all the time.

We moved to South Florida from New York when I was almost sixteen, at the beginning of my 11th grade. My parents had met, married and lived here before, when I was little and lived with my grandparents. They had a friend named Alberto Reyes. He was the drummer in a band that did Disco and Classic Rock covers, but had a day job laying tile. Years before, back in the Scarface days of the late seventies, Alberto had reportedly been in love with my mother and had once mysteriously saved her life. For this, she owed him a great debt, so when we moved back to South Florida Alberto Reyes was the first friend my parents looked up. He was thrilled to hear from them and came over for dinner later that week.

Alberto Reyes dressed all in white linen. He was short and stocky, deeply tanned with wildly curly, sand colored hair and unsusual pale blue eyes the color of the ocean water over the shallows. Later my mother told me that the women were crazy over those pale blue eyes back in the day and that Alberto could have any woman he wanted.

When he saw me, Alberto launched into a stream of Spanish cuss words. The only English words I could pick out were "Holy Shit."
The usual, I figured. Whenever my parents' old friends or relatives saw me they'd always go off about how much I'd grown up or how I looked so much like my mother. Adults always said the same things. I figured Alberto was just saying them in Spanish.

My father stood at the stove in our kitchen stirring a pot of black beans that Alberto had brought over and as he stirred he idly whistled a Led Zeppelin tune he'd heard on the radio earlier that morning.


"NO!! No whistling!!" Alberto shouted, startling my father, who stopped instantly.

"Oh man, I'm so sorry, I totally forgot. It's been so long. I wasn't even thinking."

"What?" I asked.

"Chango hates whistling," Alberto said, "You should know."

"Who?"

"Chango."

Alberto pulled a small wooden head out of his pocket. It was about the size of a walnut and had a crude face with deep eyes and a straight line for a mouth. It had a small neck and an indentation carved into the crown of its skull, into which Alberto had pressed some kind of dried herb that looked like Italian Seasoning.

"That's Chango?" I asked.

"Si. You don't know him?"

"Umm, no," I laughed.

"He sure knows you."

It creeped me out. Not that I wasn't used to my parents' weird friends doing weird things, because I was, but this gave me a prickle up the back of my neck so I left the room until dinner was served.

During dinner Alberto and my parents reminisced about the old days. We made small talk. My parents told him how I'd had to leave my first love behind in New York and how I was adjusting to my new school.

"Anybody being mean to you?" he asked.

"Not really."

"Nobody ever better be mean to you. Woo. Somebody mean to you, I feel sorry for them."

The conversation turned to things we all liked better about South Florida. I mentioned how I was happy to have a gardenia bush in the yard, although it wasn't flowering much. Alberto nodded slowly and narrowed his eyes. Then my father mentioned some wild night they'd had back in '79 and the subject changed. By the time we brought out the flan, my mother'd gotten sentimental.

"I owe you one Alberto," she said, her eyes brimming.

"You don't owe me nothing."

"I do. You know where I'd be without you? I'd be sitting my ass in a god damned jail cell right this second is where I'd be. You saved me."

Alberto was silent.

"What?" I asked, "How? I wanna know? How'd he save you? Tell me. Come on."

"Don't worry about it," my mother said.

"I'll never forget it Alberto," my dad said, "I'll never forget what you said that night."

"Me neither," my mother whispered.

"What'd he say???"

"He said he was going to make him bleed," my father told me.

The same chill rinsed over me again.

"Who? Make who bleed?"

"The prosecutor," my father said.

"Stop, you scaring her," Alberto said, "It's not scary baby. It's ok, just old times. Don't worry about it. Water under the bridge. And look, I did it for you so you have you Mami back. Everything's good now, right?"

"Yeah," I said.



To Be Continued Later...
Monday, May 18, 2009

Close Up of Peacock Deterrent System


You can see some of the damage not covered by the Advanced Deterrent System if you look real close.

The Solution to the Peacock Issue

Over the weekend I installed an Advanced Peacock Deterrent System, guaranteed to prevent further peacock related body damage to my vehicle, at least in the area of installation.
Sunday, May 17, 2009

Best Bumper Sticker Ever

It read "Don't Always Believe What You Think."

Unfortunately it was plastered to the back of a Toyota flying up I-95 at 70 miles per hour so I couldn't get a picture of it for you. But there's so much wisdom in that one little sentence.

Don't Always Believe What You Think.

And I'd also like to add...

Don't Always Believe What You Feel.

So many times our thoughts and feelings lead us terribly astray and so far away from common sense.
Saturday, May 16, 2009

Right Before Things Took a Turn

This is the picture I took of the event when I still remained innocent and thought the peacock was just "admiring" himself.

Peacock Attacks Saturn

"Man, one of your students really hates you," my neighbor said.

She and I were both standing in our building's parking lot staring at the damage to the side of my car. I shrugged.

"I don't know who could have done this."

The whole side of my black Saturn was keyed and scratched. Whoever did this was incredibly angry. I tried to think back. Had I really pissed anyone off lately? I couldn't recall any parking lot altercations. I had a student write some pretty nasty stuff about me on the Internet, but I don't think she would know my car to key it this way. I certainly hadn't angered any of my neighbors. I spent the rest of the day wondering why someone would vandalize my car and wondering how much it was going to cost to fix.

The next morning I caught the culprit right in the act. It was one of our friendly, neighborhood peacocks. The big boy peacock to be exact and it was the height of mating season. First I didn't realize what he was doing. I thought he was admiring his reflection. He is gorgeous after all with his long iridescent tail and slender lapis neck arching up towards his crowned head. I've never stopped thrilling at the sight of these beautiful birds, even after living with their middle of the night shrieks for the past five years. How lovely, I thought and took out my phone to take a picture.

But then things took a terrible turn. The peacock wasn't vainly admiring his own beauty at all. He was pissed. He thought his reflection was a rival and flew into my car door pecking and kicking at his own image.

"Get out of here!" I yelled.

This didn't work so I decided to cuss the bird out to get it to leave. That usually works with people, but it didn't work with the peacock. I opened my umbrella in its face and shooed it away with it so I could get in the car. I had somewhere to be and wasn't about to waste my precious time fighting with a fancy looking turkey.

The peacock scuttled away long enough for me to get in the car, but before I turned the ignition I heard:

PECK PECK PECK

The peacock was back.

PECK PECK PECK

He was pecking his reflection in the driver's side door again.

I beeped the horn.

PECK PECK

I beeped it some more and for longer.

PECK

Then the peacock flew at the car door again.

I turned the car on and started backing out. This actually made things worse because the stupid peacock mistook the movement of the car for the movement of his imaginary foe and amped up his attack.

I rolled the window down and yelled. He thought it was other peacock yelling. I then realized that I was trapped in a car under siege by a giant, numb skulled, bright blue exotic bird. This is my life, readers. Only I would get attacked by a peacock.

I was going to be late to an important appointment. I could just see everyone rolling their eyes when I explained that I was late because I had been attacked by a vicious peacock.

"I bet he ate your paperwork too," they'd say sarcastically.

I was desperate. I had to get away from this monster so I began wildly opening and closing the driver's side door, batting the bird away and screaming all the while for effect. Some people passed by, walking their dogs and doubled over with laughter. I thought they were going to wet their pants right there on the street. With every flap of the door I backed up a few inches. This whole thing took a lot of coordination on my part and I am not a coordinated person. Imagine me trying to drive backwards, yell and open and close a car door, all the while trying not to kill a peacock, but just to shoo him away. I wish someone had filmed it. I could have won the $25,000 on America's Funniest Home Videos.

Finally, I managed to sufficiently get the peacock out of the way so that I could peel off down the street and away to safety. As I rounded the corner out of our neighborhood I saw in the rearview mirror that the peacock had gone on to better things. He was now attacking our other car.
Friday, May 15, 2009

Vacation Photos!


This is one of my favorite vacation photos from California and I wanted to share it with you. One afternoon we went on a tide pool exploration and I caught a shot of this sea anemone. Look how green it is! It looks like Oscar the Grouch. I thought it was the coolest thing ever, especially since we don't have tide pools here in Florida and I had never seen a sea anemone. My husband, on the other hand, thought himself an expert on what he called "Sea Anenomes." He began to laugh at me for my pronunciation, saying I was wrong in calling them "Anemones." I insisted that I was correct. He said he finally knew how to spell a word that I didn't. We went back and forth (lovingly and jokingly, of course) for quite some time. I even began to doubt myself. We looked it up. Ha. I was right. I knew I was. I love being right. I am posting this picture as part of Candid Carrie's Friday Photo Fiesta. I really love Candid Carrie and if you aren't familiar with her blog, definitely check it out. Go back and read about her recent adoption of two beautiful foster children and you will weep. Candid Carrie, you are my hero for doing that.

Layin' Low

My family is in hiding this week. We all have to lay low. You see, my free loading cousin Boaz came back to town and we're all trying to avoid him.

Boaz is my now 25 year old, second (I think?) cousin from Israel. He's my grandfather's younger brother's grandson and he is a pain in the ass, first class mooch. The last time we saw him was at Thanksgiving and I wrote about his background then. Please go here and refamiliarize yourself with Boaz and then come back so that I can explain the most recent developments.

Ok, so you got all that?

Boaz left on Thanksgiving night with our closeted gay friend who took him to the airport where he mysteriously flew off to South America. This was very suspect as Boaz had this whole sob story for my parents about how he didn't have any money and how he just needed his job at the Dead Sea Salt mall kiosk and how he needed to use my parents' car to get to his job. It was pathetic. My dad even felt badly enough for him to give him an iPod. But Boaz was pissed that my parents weren't letting him move in with them (because who wouldn't let a distant relative move into their gorgeous waterfront home in Florida and let them drive their SUV?) and that my dad said he had to find his own transportation. He was indignant about it too, so Boaz, who was supposed to be flat broke, somehow managed to get himself a plane ticket to South America.

Two days after arriving in South America - I think Peru - he added me as a friend on Facebook, but not my husband, because he was mad at Husband for cutting off his Internet access and deleting all of the files he downloaded onto my parents' computer, which nearly destroyed it. All of a sudden, I'm getting notes and posts and updates on Boaz's South American tour. I barely know the kid and he's writing me notes like "Hey Beautiful Cousin, having a great time, miss you!" Every couple days he would post pictures from his trip. I was about to start calling him Che. It was like the frickin Motorcycle Diaries. He went to almost every country in South America and it appeared that he met up with a group of his friends from Israel who were backpacking, doing the whole Lonely Planet thing. They certainly appeared to be backpacking in grand style though and this went on for several months. I saw pictures of Boaz at Carnevale. Boaz with llamas. Boaz chewing coca leaves. Boaz and friends in small Chilean fishing villages. Boaz in Buenos Aires and even Boaz and friends climbing all over the mysterious statues on Easter Island. How was Boaz funding this trip, I wondered, if when he was here all he did was complain about how broke he was? Obviously, it was a lie and he had plenty of money. He was just trying to scam some more out of my parents, which didn't work.

Two interesting things happened in March. First Uncle Ben Yusef joined Facebook. Why, I have no idea. The man is in his 70s. Uncle Ben Yusef added me as a friend, which then allowed me to see all of his comments back and forth with Boaz. I discovered that the two of them were planning to meet up in Florida and stay in my parents' house for a month. I called my parents and asked if they were aware of this and they were not and they weren't very happy about it either. My dad called my grandfather and told him about it. My grandfather was equally unhappy because it turned out that just that very week Boaz had shipped most of his luggage from South America to my grandparents' house without telling them! That's interesting thing number two.

Boaz actually had the nerve to ship his luggage to my grandparents' house without telling them. I think he did this because he obviously wanted to lighten his load, but because he didn't want my parents to know he was coming back. Otherwise he would have told someone he was shipping all this stuff. I think he underestimated my grandfather and thought he would just hold the stuff and not tell my dad he had it there and then Boaz could just show up on my parents' doorstep. Obviously this is a stupid plan that makes little sense.

In any event, a ton of suitcases arrived unexpectedly on my grandparents' doorstep. Boaz and Uncle Ben Yusef were planning a sneak attack on my parents. We had to do something.

I thought that I should write a letter to Boaz and thank him for his donation to my grandparents' Temple. How thoughtful of him to send all those clothes, shoes and toiletry items to needy families in the community who could really use them. His trip to South America really changed him as a person, didn't it? I almost got my grandparents to go along with it too. It would have been perfect. Boaz would have crapped his pants thinking we gave all his stuff to charity.

My parents told my grandparents to tell Uncle Ben Yusef that they were going out of town for several months and that they were closing up their house and that no one would have access to it, so he couldn't stay there. Uncle Ben Yusef was mad and canceled his trip, but he informed them that Boaz was still coming.

We decided that if Boaz had to stay at my grandparents' house that he would have a bad time and quickly leave. At my parents' house he has it too good. There's a pool, the beach and my parents live in a fun part of town where there's lots of things to do. He has it made there and has no incentive to leave. My grandparents' house is the complete opposite. They live in a small duplex in an elderly community for aged Orthodox. Everything revolves around the Temple. They are far from the beach and miles and miles from any entertainment that would appeal to someone in his mid-20s. It would be perfect. He wouldn't last two days.

Boaz has been there for three weeks. He refuses to leave.

Apparently he doesn't care where he is and has no desire to be anywhere other than somewhere where he can get free food and a computer. He sleeps all day, gets up at five and hogs the computer where he downloads a bunch of crap and Skypes with his friends all over the world until the sun rises and he goes to bed. He has eaten my grandparents out of house and home and had a fight with my grandfather over the computer the other night when Saba asked Boaz if he could please get on to check his work email for a moment.

"Can't you see I'm doing something?? This is very important!!" Boaz yelled.

My grandfather wants to kill him. He calls every day and describes to us all in detail exactly how he would like to murder his mooching nephew. My grandmother is at her wits end.

Finally my grandparents devised a plan.

"We're going on a cruise," they told Boaz, "We're leaving and we have to have the house tented and fumigated for roaches while we're away, so the place has to be vacant. You can't stay here."

None of this is true, just like it isn't true that my parents are on a trip now too. My grandparents have even fake packed for their fake cruise so he really believes it!! We have even gone so far as to not have Sunday dinners with my grandparents, like we do every single week, just so Boaz will really think we're out of town. My grandparents made Boaz book a ticket back to Israel the day before their fake cruise and they already called the Super Shuttle to make sure he gets to the airport in time.

We'll see if any of this works to get rid of him. Until then, we're still laying low.
Thursday, May 14, 2009

Catching Up Post

I have no organized post prepared for you. I'm just going to tell you all about some things going on recently and see what comes out.

As you may recall, the week I left for my trip I had been suffering "flu-like symptoms" and this was at the peak of the Swine Flu hysteria. As I got to the airport I was coughing, congested and feverish, but I didn't really feel all that bad and I had been sick almost a week already so I figured I was completely safe to fly. The problem was that the other passengers didn't agree with me. Every time I sniffled or coughed people looked alarmed. In line I was tempted to make comments about my recent trip to Mexico City, but I thought perhaps this might be in poor taste and not as funny in real life as it sounded in my head. I made sure I told everyone that I didn't have Swine Flu. I don't think anyone believed me. Once on the actual plane, the dry air made my cough about three hundred times worse and I began to hack. My Ludens cough drops had no effect whatsoever. I was sitting next to a girl who was on her way back from a cruise and she was really friendly and nice, so I made sure I explained to her that I did not in fact have Swine Flu and she said she wasn't concerned because she had already had the flu two weeks before and then she proceeded to pull what looked like a 2 Liter bottle of codeine cough syrup out of her bag.

"This is the only reason I'm not coughing too," she said, "I take it so I can sleep."

Then she fell asleep. I began to wonder if I could get away with slipping the bottle out of her bag while she slept so I could swig a couple teaspoons of it to quiet both my cough and the fears of the other passengers, but she had the bag wedged under her arm and I didn't think I could pull it off.

I continued to hack. An extremely old woman, who must have been at least 90 at who wore fake eyelashes and deep blue eyeshadow, sat in front of me. At one point she turned around and pointed at me through the crack in between the seats. It was extremely traumatic, especially because she had filed her nails into sharp points. Why do old ladies do that? Both of my grandmothers do the exact same thing with their nails. It must have been the thing back in the 50s or something.

Still, I coughed. A woman across the aisle from me, who had looked wary of me from the security check point told me I should be wearing a mask and then asked me if I wanted one because she had a whole box. I declined. If she were worried about getting sick, shouldn't she have been wearing the mask? I tried to tell her I didn't have Swine Flu, but she definitely didn't believe me. She wanted to move seats. I'm honestly surprised I didn't cause them to divert the plane over my coughing.

Luckily, my cough had sufficiently disappeared for the return flight and I didn't scare anyone, but I did see some people in surgical masks in the airport.

In other news my Uncle Bull is running for mayor of Millpond and it looks like the campaign is really heating up. You may recall that he is a grass roots political activist and has been on the national news and all sorts of things for the work he does. I can totally see him going all Sarah Palin - starting off as a small town mayor and somehow ending up in or near the White House. At the same time, Uncle Bull is also opening a BBQ restaurant due to the success of his catering operation. He has also run a successful trucking business for the past thirty or so years, so he is a busy man. I don't know where he finds time to do all this stuff.

I'm definitely a big Uncle Bull supporter, but unfortunately not everyone in the family feels the same way. Uncle Garble, who decided shortly before Christmas that he wanted to murder the entire family (which wasn't really a serious threat being that he is agoraphobic in addition to being too strung out on Vicodin to actually leave the house to kill us) has gone on an Anti-Uncle Bull smear campaign. Uncle Garble has been writing, from his dilapidated trailer, a series of scathing letters, mostly insane rants, about how horrible our family is. Most of it slander, exaggeration and the product of mental illness and jealousy. He sends the letters to the local paper, local figureheads and has even posted hundreds and hundreds of trollish diatribes on a Millpond website. He got himself banned apparently and the web master removed some of his posts, but it looks like he has several names and accounts that he uses to post more. You should see the terrible things he said about my grandmother and mother, not to mention Uncle Bull. It's really a shame. Uncle Garble really is a lunatic. I'm glad I haven't seen him or his dirt bag, Irish Traveler wife since I was in the eighth grade. But you know, there's a fucking asshole in every family.

Speaking of family...Poor Aunt Kiki. Aunt Kiki is almost fifty and she's really been feeling her age lately. She's lived hard and spent too much time in the sun, so she's concerned about her crows feet and forehead lines. At a recent gynecologist visit, the doctor offered to give Aunt Kiki Botox. Unfortunately, the gynecologist wasn't a Botox specialist, didn't know what he was doing and hit a wrong nerve in Aunt Kiki's forehead, causing her left eye to droop as if she had a stroke. Now she looks worse than she did when she started and she's distraught over the whole thing and wants to stay in the house for the next six months until her eyelid stops resembling a vagina. Bless her heart.

My parents have never been better. We had a beautiful Mother's Day dinner Sunday when we got back which included a great deal of lobster and butter and a glow in the dark jellyfish tank which fascinated me to no end. My parents currently have zero wacky house guests and life is generally calm, full of abundance and happiness.

In my life I got some more good news! I won a teaching award which was huge for me because I work so hard at being a great teacher and this will really help me to get a new job. I got offered a kick ass summer job that doesn't start until the end of June, so I'm off until then. Monday I got another letter in the mail telling me that not only had one of my poems been chosen for publishing, but that it had also won an honorable mention award. And I know that's not a "real" award, but to me it is and I was really excited. It appears that I'm on quite the winning streak! It's like American Idol! Then things got even better when I got to puppy-sit an adorable, smushy, velvety, bitey four month old black lab.

But unfortunately something terrible happened, which I am not permitted to write about, that really brought me down and didn't allow me to enjoy my accumulating successes this week and that truly sucks. It cast a pall over everything and depressed me to the point where I didn't even want to write a new blog post for you. I needed to just sit and recover and meditate about the situation. I went to my parents house and sat by the pool and swam for several hours, got a little sun burned in spite of my SPF 50 and felt somewhat better without coming up with a solution. I'm sorry for being cryptic. So all this great stuff happened to me and then one terrible thing happened that sunk me into a depression, caused me to have late night anxiety attacks and then because I was profoundly upset I began having symptoms of my stupid lupus-like condition, which always happens when I get too upset. I guess in some ways this condition is in a way a blessing of sorts because it reminds me, in a way that I can't ignore, when I'm doing too much, stressing too much or getting too upset over things. It reminds me that I need to move more, sleep more, relax more and find more peace. I'm working on that. I'm working on getting my disease to go back to bed. It's like a bad kid. I've got it tucked back under the covers, but so far it refuses to fall asleep. I'll get it there though. Pilates, sleep and eating well should do the trick.

I have many, many stories in the works for you. It's good to be back.
Monday, May 11, 2009

Now Proud to Be a Part of the University Elite

I am mentally and emotionally exhausted but also elated. It's done Dear Readers. I defended my thesis, which was highly praised and I will now be graduating. I have mastered a fine art. I did it. Now this means I get to write exclusively for you guys all summer (yay!).

Even more good news...by my graduation date, three of the poems in my thesis will be published. One was published in October and I arrived home to an acceptance letter for two more. I can't even explain how happy I am. I am so thankful for my parents who made me do this, way back when, when I was scared to go to Community College because I thought I was too dumb to pass. I am also thankful for my husband who made me stick with it even when I threatened to just drop out, who helped me format everything and patiently bore my rages at the printer and then went and fixed it for me.

But now I have to do this, so bear with me here.

To the doctor I dated almost eight years ago, who told me that he could have sex with me because I was pretty and funny, although I could never really be his girlfriend because I was uneducated and because he wanted someone with a degree who was "on his level" ...

Go Fuck Yourself
Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Weather's Great, Wish You Were Here

Wow this has been a busy vacation. When I get home, I'm going to need a vacation from the vacation. So far, I've been gone from morning 'til midnight every day and have eaten a total of three In N Out cheeseburgers, protein style. I think I'm done. I also had Pinkberry once and that wasn't enough. Additionally, I have visited Trader Joe's twice and plan to go again at least three more times before I leave. We also went to Pasadena one day and Disneyland another day and I have a blister the size of a lima bean on my pinky toe. Then I got sunburn. Also, I am defending my thesis on Monday so I'm scrambling last minute to get a bunch of stuff done for that, from California. Lord, I am a gigantic ball of stress. You have no idea. But after Monday it will all be over and I can get back to some serious story writing, which I can't wait for. I miss you guys. This concludes my pictureless post card to the Internet.
Friday, May 01, 2009

Happy May Day, I'm Off to California

I'm off for vacation today. I'll be gone to California (the LA area) for a week. I'll have Internet access just fine, unlike when I go to Millpond, so I plan on writing. As I travel today, I'd like to share with you this beautiful photo mosaic I made. This is really ALL Emily's fault. I love you Emily, but this is all you. Last week or so, Emily posted a meme with a link to a mosaic maker. Damn her. Damn her. It is totally addicting. I can not stop making picture mosaics. I should have known because I used to love making tile mosaics so much too. So, in the midst of my mosaic (or rather avoiding my thesis) frenzy, I made a mosaic of some of my favorite things about Florida. I hope you enjoy it. Maybe once I get to the Pacific time zone, I'll go totally wild and bust out a California mosaic too. The mosaic madness never ends people. And if you want to get in on the action go here.

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