Here’s Hoping

I am utterly blown away by my own ability to fall in love. I mean I do it to the point of complete insanity and foolish blindness. I’m a 16 year old still hooked on Disney fantasy trapped in a 30 year old body. I see absolutely no flaws in the object of my affection, and the flaws I do see I attribute to their charming imperfections and I fall in love with that too. I have convinced myself that there is only a certain type of person that is drawn to me, a person that shares, shall we say, a colorful past? So I forgive past transgressions as I would want them to do for me. I feel that this type of person will understand me more, appreciate my ability to overcome and endure and better myself. What I end up with is total disappointment and heartbreak because most usually they themselves have not overcome their past to the point that I was originally led to believe that they had, or they’re just plain ole shitty people and I was too stupid to see it because the sex was good and they were smooth talkers.

Which brings me to my next point: I think I may be a sex addict. I don’t mind being addicted to sex, hell I’m genetically programmed to be addicted to sex. That’s the point, isn’t it? Procreation and all that jazz? Nothing wrong with liking something, being good at it, and knowing you like it and that you’re good at it. Ever watch the Golden Girls? Well of course you have. At least you have if you’re from the south. And in the words of Blanche Devereaux, “It’s not the water honey, it’s the heat.” Unfortunately it leads to me basing a relationship on three major points: 1. is the sex good? 2. Do they fit in with my family? 3. (and this is the big one) Would they make a good survival partner during an apocalyptic event?

We could go on for days about why Number 1 is a bad idea. Ok, I got that so save your advice, and do your name-calling behind my back like a good girl because if no one told you yet, I’m a crazy bitch. Number 2 I find important. I’m closer to my family than most adults my age, seriously. I guess it’s normal if you’re from this part of the country but I’ve found that for most Americans it’s a rare thing and I love it. Which brings me to Number 3.

I am constantly thinking “worse-case scenario”. Whether I am eating at a restaurant thinking of where I should sit in case of explosion, shooter, or patient zero. Or if I’m traveling away from my daughter thinking about nuclear fall-out and how I would get home to her it’s ALWAYS there in the back of my mind. Naturally, I look for the tough guys. Can they hunt, fish, throw a punch and roll their own cigarettes? I like this type. Naturally, some of them have been to prison. Naturally, some of them are damn near illiterate. Naturally some of them are wonderful and perfect, I just haven’t met those yet. Unfortunately the ones I have met function perfectly in the dystopian world I’ve created in my head, but not so much in the actual world. So here’s to hoping I can find a literate, country-boy tough-guy type that fits in with my family and doesn’t have felony on his record, or a drug addiction, or isn’t a shitty person, and can handle my sex addiction.

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I Can’t be the Only One…

I’ve been on the phone for close to an hour now. Honestly, I don’t mind since before being connected to the lovely “Gina” I made about four other calls to my cell phone service provider, each of which was met with a Middle-Eastern accent and broken English. I wouldn’t mind that so much except that my request was a little complicated, and each time I called it proved to be more complicated than the Customer Service Representative was able to handle. So I just hung up and called back until I heard the most beautiful South-Georgian accent I have ever heard. Bless her heart.

In the hour and a half that sweet Gina and I have been on the phone, we’ve talked about everything from ex-husbands to sweet tea, to Momma and work stresses. I know how old her sons are, and that her Momma adored her ex husband because of his job and religious affiliation, and she knows I had Mexican food for lunch (sorry for chewing in your ear darlin’) and that my little town has only two stoplights, the same number as her little town.

I know when people say, “I’m not racist…” it makes them sound like they are, but I can’t be the only one who feels that perhaps one of the nation’s largest cell phone providers should use customer service reps that can actually provide service to their customers? Obviously, not every Customer Service Rep is going to connect to their customer like Gina and I, but to be able to understand the English language should be a minimum requirement for employment, no?

So I will say those dreaded words- I’m not racist. Nay, this has nothing to do with race, or ethnicity. This is simply a geographical problem. I would venture to guess I would have the same issue with someone from New Jersey.  Perhaps the representatives with those accents could cater to the customers that speak their native language or hail from that part of the world/country? I have actually said the words, “Man, I am from Kentucky, you’re gonna have to slow down when you talk to me.” My Daddy would say, “I know everybody needs to work but…” but maybe they could just stick to working with the people they can understand and that can understand them? Is it so conceptually difficult to position your call centers by regions? If that were the case, the biggest debate would be Auburn vs Alabama, maybe Tennessee Vols vs Kentucky Wildcats… Go Big Blue, no real debate there. I can live with that. And I can’t be the only one.

Shunting

I remember lying there believing that I couldn’t feel my arms and legs. My mind flashed to my Army medic training. “Shunting,” I thought, “cutting off blood flow to the extremities, the body’s response to hypovolemic shock.” Shock. Ha. That was an understatement. But was it really so shocking? I mean we were so young and we got married on a whim. We’d been fighting for months. Or maybe years. But didn’t we just have a great Fourth of July? We made the neighbors so mad shooting off giant fireworks. I rolled over and sobbed these deep, heaving sobs into my pillow. His breath was easy and regular next to me. He was sleeping. How the fuck was he sleeping? I cried myself to sleep with my last thought, before the relief of unconsciousness took me, being, “It’ll be better in the morning, it isn’t really over.” But it wasn’t better in the morning, and I packed a few things in the bed of a pick-up truck and I took what little cash I had and my little girl and I went to my mothers house two hours away.

The pain of the next few months is indescribable. I’ve never been so angry, hurt, and hopeful all at the same time. I tried to focus on the good things, I tried to be a good mother through it all. I tried very hard not to let my redneck show. I failed at all of the above. I spent months in the crushing humidity of a late Kentucky summer gutting and remodeling a little house my dad owned. There was something purifying in the sweat; something liberating about the destruction of the old in preparation for the new. But still I ached. Not being one to let things go, I moved on to the anger phase of grief. I vented online, I vented to friends. I cried to Momma. In fact, my poor Momma should win an award just for listening because knowing Momma she was dying to let loose any number of judgmental comments and “I told you so’s”. But she didn’t. She just sipped coffee on the screened-in porch in the mornings and listened. Occasionally she would quote a Miranda Lambert song I had excitedly played for her months prior because it reminded me so much of our relationship by saying, “It’s not my broken heart honey.”

Then I started digging. I needed justification for the utter destruction of the life we had worked so hard to build and the “I’m just not happy” excuse wasn’t cutting it. I’m thoroughly convinced Homeland Security should hire scorned women with a military background to gather intel. We can and will find the information. Man, did I find it. And still, I ached. Was I really that pathetic? Did I really lack self-respect to the point that I could forgive him messaging another woman an hour before I had even left on the day we said goodbye? Could I seriously forgive him inviting yet another woman into our bed while I was at work? Or leaving our daughter home alone to go and have sex with that same woman while I was at work? I couldn’t possibly be entertaining the idea that he was right, that I drove him to it? Could I? I was. I just wanted the pain to go away. I wanted to be able to eat, and sleep, and not take antacids three or four times a day because my stomach churned constantly and I was afraid I’d get an ulcer like my Mom. I didn’t want to go back on the anti-anxiety meds I had worked so hard to ween myself from. I mustered every coping skill I had learned, every self-help mantra I had repeated in the past, but it was to no avail.

So I tried hard to forgive him, and he tried so hard to convince me that he wanted me to. But it was always there. Every time we kissed, or made love, or spoke about anything prior to the day I left our home to come to my mother’s house, it was there. An all-encompassing blanket, suffocating any hope that we could ever be the same. The churning in my stomach, though less, was still present. In the end I couldn’t forgive him.

Divorce is never like ripping off a band aid. In truth, I haven’t even filed. It’s been almost two years, I still haven’t filed. I’m leaning toward filing sometime before the end of the month, but I have to admit I still love him. It’s not that I’m still hopeful we’ll be together. I don’t want to be with him anymore. I can finally say with confidence that I am happier, and that I have moved on, or at least I am moving on. I sincerely love my life the way it is without him in it. I think writing this is the final step to letting go. I could lie to myself and everyone else about some “freedom” I gain from “letting go” and forgiving him “Not for him, I forgive him for me!” Take your new-aged hippie shit and cram it. I don’t walk around thinking about it, it doesn’t hurt anymore. But forgiveness would’ve meant that my marriage was saved. I couldn’t and wouldn’t do it. I don’t forgive him. I’m OK with that. I’m OK going through the rest of my life not forgiving him. It doesn’t mean I hang on to it, it just means that if I’m truly honest with myself, that’s how I feel. Not angry, not hanging on, not hurting, and not forgiving. Just because you don’t feel one way about something, doesn’t mean you feel something else in its place. It’s called shunting, and it’s the body’s natural response to shock. That part of my past has become an extremity I do not need to survive so the natural response was to cut if off and move on. But forgive? No. That does not come so naturally to me.

I Feel Fat

It’s not one of those days. I’m not bloated, or stuffed from a big meal. I didn’t put on an extra five pounds over the holidays. When I say I feel fat I mean I feel it with the intensity of a fourteen-year-old chubby girl who has to get naked in the locker room for the first time in front of the cheerleading squad. I feel every emotional scar that resulted with every “chunky girl” comment, every time someone said “you could stand to lose a few pounds” like they are fresh gaping wounds. I’m not morbidly obese, I’m a size 14, average for an American woman. And I’m not a teenager, I’m damn near thirty. So why the hang up on my body image? Why the self hatred?

I suppose the benefit to being almost thirty is that I’m old enough to have come into my own and respect myself more than I did as a chubby teenager. And the benefit to being in that “in-between” place (somewhere between chunky and obese by medical standards) is that I have days when I feel beautiful, sexy even. But it doesn’t change the fact that when I read an article about the morbidly obese homebound 800 pound women, the teenaged girls who cut themselves because of being bullied about their weight, the medical journal articles about the effects of obesity on health, every “sex position for fat girls” blog and “plus sized women we all think are sexy” (no you don’t) ads on Facebook… I feel it. Let me say here that this is not about the way I look anymore, it’s about the way I feel every time my bra strap cuts into my skin uncomfortably, or when my favorite skinny jeans (yes, I still rock skinny jeans) get holes in the thighs and I have to buy a new pair. It’s about not being able to wear the clothes I like because I have to “shop for my body type” or risk looking like a total slut because of my curves. It’s about the way I feel when I wear those jeans that make my ass look amazing but can’t bend over to slip my heels on without holding my breath first. Fat is not about the way I look. I feel fat.

I can remember the first time I thought about my weight in terms of beauty. I remember it as vividly as I remember my first kiss, my first sip of beer, or the first time I heard my daughter cry. I was six years old, and I wasn’t called fat exactly but it hurt all the same even if I was too young to understand that what I was feeling was pain. It wasn’t my classmates teasing, it was my Dad. Let me make it clear that I love my parents with an intensity few grown children would ever openly admit to loving their parents. As the baby of the family, I guess that’s sort of normal and I am every bit a Daddy’s girl. That being said, childhood is oftentimes survived more than experienced and every parent leaves their own brand of scars on their offspring, the trick is to minimize the damage.

Daddy was picking me up from school. I had worn one of his t-shirts from a recent 5k he’d participated in and a pair of white cutoff shorts. I was six years old. I asked dad if he liked my outfit and he said, “Yeah sis, it makes you look slimmer.” So I wore it again the following Friday when dad picked me up in the fear that anything else would make me look whatever the opposite of slim was. But slim was good, that much was certain, and I was not slim unless I dressed to be slim, that much was also certain.

The years went by and I was never “slim”. In fact, I was larger than most of my classmates. Not fat exactly, just “pudgy” and with broad shoulders. And I was often reminded of this by the people who were entrusted with building my self-confidence. I can recall spending hours alone in the bathroom looking at myself in different positions and making mental notes like, “OK, remember not pull your jacket so tight around you in the bleachers because it shows your fat roll.” In the sixth grade I rocketed to 165 pounds. Some time in the seventh grade I got to 128 pounds, and was already at my full adult height of 5’3. Wow, did I feel hot! Still there were days. Boy, were there days! At one point, after I had lost my “baby fat” my mother says to me, “You know Meggie, if you went on one of those starvation diets like the models do you’d have a great body.” Leave it to Southern mothers to tear you down even after you’ve lost over thirty pounds. My fellow 12 and and 13 year old classmates were significantly smaller than 130 pounds. In a world of size 1 middle schoolers, I was a size 9. Older guys mistook me for a 17 or 18 year old girl, and they called me pretty, something I hadn’t heard often. Bad combination. But that’s another blog.

I eventually enlisted in the Army, just barely squeezing through the height/weight requirement for female soldiers. I had played rugby in college giving me a whole new love for my broad shoulders and thick ankles. And, compared to some of the other women rugby players I was quite small. I excelled at everything physically challenging for a few years, learning to love my body not just for how it looked at 150 pounds of pure American badassery, but for what it could do! So what happened?

I came home from Iraq in 2009 a size 6 and 130 pounds- smaller than I had ever been. I met and married my husband, my daughter came to live with me again (she had been under my sister’s care during my deployment) and we settled in for a long Alaskan winter. Within a month or two of returning home and rediscovering old favorites like beer and ale, Maker’s Mark whiskey, mint chocolate chip ice cream, and Papa John’s pizza, I was back to 165 pounds. The darkness of the far north winter and the depression had also set in. I continued on that downward spiral for a few years, gaining fat and losing muscle tone as I went. Even after moving back home to Kentucky I continued to gain. So ashamed of what I had let myself become I was too embarrassed to hit the gym, or go for a run. I started to see how a woman could easily get to 800 pounds and homebound. Food is such a comfort. Eventually my husband said he was no longer attracted to me. Ouch. Needless to say, he is no longer my husband. But you can see how the hits just keep coming with this weight thing and why I might be a little sensitive, right?

I eventually snapped out of it, got my shit together and lost forty pounds. Now while I’m significantly smaller than I was, I’m still about forty pounds overweight, still teetering between “chunky” and “obese”. I’m back in that uncomfortable, bra-pinching, pants-too-tight place I’ve spent most of my life. My daughter is now 13, and 108 pounds and wears a size 1. My own daughter is one of the girls I was so very, very intimidated by in school. But now I know that, despite my best efforts to tell her how beautiful she is every day and avoid passing on the scars that were left on me, she has her own body-image hang ups. What do I tell her? That it gets better? That she’ll outgrow it and be totally happy with her body some day? I can’t lie to her like that. I have no answers. The best advice that I can offer is that she will have days where the sight of her own body will bring her to tears and she’ll have days where she too feels beautiful and sexy and comfortable in her own skin. One thing I can assure her is that she will never feel fat the way I do, and the way I did even at 130 pounds. Once fat, always fat. The pain never fully goes away, and for that at least, she can be thankful.

The Littering Grounds Part I

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Moonlight filtered through the oak and maple branches onto the old road creating silver-dollar patches that danced on the ground. Katie walked down the middle where the weeds grew tall to avoid the tire ruts. The earth was cool on her bare feet, but sweat beaded on her forehead in the humid night air. Katie shifted her burden from one arm to the other. It seemed to grow heavier the closer she got to her destination. The sound of her heartbeat filled her head and, combined with the hum of cicadas and bullfrogs, created a deafening roar in her ears. Her own voice sounded muffled when she said, “Jeremy, we almost there? I’m hurtin’ purty bad.”

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Meetings

           

        Jeremy slid off the tailgate of the old pick-up truck when it stopped at the end of his drive. His home looked the same but after the summer spent away everything seemed fresh. The September air was crisp after the heavy heat of August and he could smell the pungent odor of apples ripe and fallen from the tree. The weeds had grown tall around the porch, making the place look unkempt. The smell of apples drying wafted through the open kitchen window, and he felt his heart might burst with the joy of being back.

     “Momma, I’m home!” he called toward the front door. Immediately he heard footsteps across the hardwood floors of the three-room cabin.

            “Lawl, Jeremy, ain’t they been feedin’ you none?” Momma exclaimed as she threw open the front door and rushed down the porch steps to hug him. Once he was properly seated at the kitchen table Momma set to gathering a plate and a glass and reached into the warming cabinet for the left-over biscuits. All the while she talked. She told him all the news of the community, the weddings, the deaths, the babies born. She talked about Daddy taking that job with the TVA, and Cousin Katie coming to stay with them since Uncle Donald had passed away. She stopped suddenly at that point and said, “Broke your daddy’s heart in two,” dropping her head as if in prayer. But just as quickly she continued on, “Katie’s been a big help around the house since Daddy is gone all the time and left all the work to me.” Her hands never stopped moving as she mixed up a batch of cornbread for the afternoon meal. “Now that your home I reckon we’ll get a lot more of the cannin’ done.” Jeremy nodded in agreement, his mouth full of cold biscuit that was too tough, and leftover country ham that was too salty.

    Katie saw white dust kick up from the graveled road in the distance so she lowered her skirt back down past her knees and waded out of the creek. She’d made quite a habit of coming to the creek to cool off after chores were finished. Her aunt knew no better and assumed because she’d been raised in town she was just slow to finish her work. The creek offered a welcomed sanctuary from the constant badgering and ridicule she faced at the hands of that woman.

            Before her father died Katie had been allowed to wear cut-off jeans and play Elvis records every night after dinner. Now skirts were the only “proper” clothing for a girl, and the radio was only played on Sundays, and even then, only tuned to the gospel station. Her aunt said she’d been “raised up a heathen” and that her momma leaving and her daddy dying had been the Lord’s way of bringing Katie back around to Him. How she loathed that woman, and ached to have her daddy back. She yearned for the eighth grade to begin so she could read books other than the Bible.

            She made her way back to the house, careful to wipe all the creek mud from her feet and ankles so her aunt would remain blissfully ignorant of her idleness. She saw a young man walk up to the porch steps and pause. She paused in unison with the man, careful to stay hidden in the brush. She watched as her Aunt Donna greeted the stranger, and became aware that this was her cousin, Jeremy. She’d met him once before when she was four or maybe five years old. He was only a boy of about eight or nine then but he was a man now. He wore overalls, and the thin shirt underneath them had been cut away at the sleeves. His muscles looked strong and they glistened slightly in the sun. His hair was too long, probably hadn’t had a good cut in some months, but she liked the way the dusty blonde locks curled around his eyes, and the way he brushed them back with his hand. His smile was perfect and white, and, Katie noticed, caused two perfect dimples in his cheeks. It was hard to tell the color of his eyes, but Katie imagined them to be green like her daddy’s eyes had been.

            He walked inside with his mother and Katie felt herself blush a little on the inside, the same feeling she’d gotten when Bobby McIntire had kissed her on the way home from school that day. That day almost a year ago, back when her daddy was still alive, back when everything made sense, back when…back when…

            Katie came out of her daze when she heard her aunt mention her name and canning. God! How she hated canning! Stifling hot, and her fingers hurt and ached for days from picking and breaking and peeling… But Katie had to let go of her anger when the smell of potatoes frying in lard reached her. She suddenly realized she was hungry and her stomach lurched as if it would jump out of her and march into the kitchen and feed itself. She reluctantly made her way up the porch steps and into the kitchen. Jeremy was seated at the table; Aunt Donna was stirring an enormous pot of pinto beans. “There she is,” her aunt said, “Lawl girl, I thought you’d starve before you got them animals fed. I reckon you remember your cousin Jeremy?”

            “Yes ma’am, a little.” She stood just inside the door eyeing him, now that she was closer she could see he was tanned and his hands were calloused from hard work. He looked at her and nodded a greeting and she saw that his eyes were not green, but blue like ice. She’d never seen eyes like those before. She felt her ears grow hot and her stomach lurched forward again, but this time it was not out of hunger. He smiled his perfect smile and said, “Nice to see you again Katie.”

            “Hello,” was all she could muster at the sight of him.

    “Girl, stir them potatoes!” Aunt Donna barked, causing her to jump. She quickly turned to the stove and began to turn the potato slices in the heavy cast iron skillet.

     Jeremy couldn’t help but smile as he watched his young cousin sheepishly stand just inside the door. She now had her back to him at the stove, and eyed her carefully while his mother added more wood to the oven. Her thin summer dress was made from a swatch of fabric his mother had bought many months ago. It was yellow with small blue flowers, it cinched her waist with a bow in the back that was coming undone, it was unlike anything the girls in Memphis had been wearing this summer. It was sleeveless and he could see tan lines marking her shoulders. She was small and thin and her dark hair was waist length and braided down her back. The braid was also coming undone. She wore no shoes and crisscrossed her bare feet as she stood stirring. He noticed that the hem of her skirt was wet, it lay just below her knees and when she turned to move the potatoes from the burner, the sun shining through the kitchen window struck her in such a way that he could see through her dress and tell that she wore no bra, and her panties were small and white. He laughed quietly to himself at the thought of what his mother would say if she noticed. He could see now in Katie’s large brown eyes a quiet defiance of the woman. It didn’t bother him, he knew that had he been born a girl his life would’ve been very different. He quite enjoyed the view, her thin body gave way to budding breasts and a supple rear-end. He caught himself starring at her before anyone noticed, and chastised himself silently for thinking impurely about a girl, a girl who was also his cousin. He stretched his arms far above his head and said, “Reckon I’ll go wash up before dinner Momma,” and made his way out the door.

            As he made his way to the side of the porch through the brush that lined the small creek he noticed tiny footprints in the mud of the banks. He laughed out loud to himself and began to unfasten his overalls and remove his shirt. The creek water was cold and waist deep at some points. He dove under, scrubbing with his hands under his arms and his hair in order to wash away the sweat and dust of the long drive home. By the time he walked back up to the house he was dry. The sun had risen high and it was getting hot. Dinner had been laid on the table, and Momma had even used her nice blue table cloth. Katie and Momma were already seated and waiting on him. He took his place at the table and they joined hands. As always, Momma said the blessing:

            “Lord we ask you to bless this meal to the nourishment of our bodies, and that you keep us free from the sins of drinking, gambling, fornication, idolatry, and blasphemy. We ask that you protect us, O Lord, from those that would seek to turn our sight from you and damn their eternal souls to Hell. Amen.”

Jeremy opened his eyes and looked across the table at Katie just in time to see her roll her eyes. He bowed his head once more to conceal a grin.  They all fell silently upon the meal of pinto beans, fried potatoes, cornbread and fresh tomatoes from the garden peeled and sliced.

When the meal was done, Katie and Aunt Donna began clearing dishes and Jeremy made his way out to the barn. He’d be sleeping in the loft since Katie was sleeping in the bedroom that was once his and it was in need of a good cleaning. “Aint fittin to put the girl in the barn, you being a grown man. The Lord tells us to look after the orphans,” his mother had said. It was probably the kindest thing she’d ever said about Katie, and he couldn’t agree more.

  As evening drew near, Jeremy was tired and sore from the long ride home and the work of cleaning the loft. He was anxious to settle down and rest in the cool twilight of the day, and he was wondering when he could sneak a cigarette, a bad habit he’d picked up in Memphis. The barn was cool and he could listen to the sounds of the night and be alone there. He unpacked his clothes into an old chest of drawers and made up the old bed with a sheet and quilt his mother had sent him out of the house with. Aside from the hay piled up, the loft was like any other room with a bed, a chest of drawers and a pot-bellied stove positioned at the front of the loft, the end nearest the cabin. Through the cracks in the floor he could see the horses in their stalls, and their smell filled the building and he breathed it in and felt at home. The barn was positioned at the end of the drive slightly uphill from the tin-roofed cabin. The first floor of the barn contained two horses, and a chicken coop. A pig pen was built to the south side. Two beef cattle grazed in the field behind the barn, and from the tiny door that swung open from the loft, Jeremy could look out over them and beyond. It seemed he could see all the Great Smokey Mountains from this vantage. It was not quite fall, but the leaves had taken on a dried yellow color and Jeremy knew that within a couple of weeks the hills would resemble a great patchwork quilt as they burst into the full spectrum of autumn. He sat there on the hay rolling a cigarette and wondered what the winter would bring. Past the pig pen the garden grew big and ripe. One of the cows and a hog would be slaughtered come November, and what meat he didn’t smoke he’d have to take to the neighbors and keep in their freezer. Almost everyone in the county had a freezer of their own, but Jeremy and his Momma and Daddy just never seemed to have the money. Electricity had reluctantly been installed only a few short years ago. Maybe now that he was home and Daddy was working again, there would be more money and their little part of the world would catch up with the rest. Jeremy sat and watched the sun began to sink in a sea of pinks and blues behind the hills. His heart skipped a beat when he heard his father’s truck rumble up the drive. He rushed down the ladder and out of the barn to greet his father.

    The old pick-up clamored up the graveled drive, bouncing and swaying, rattling the contents of its bed as it hit the deep ruts that had been washed out by the rains of many seasons. Bud was a large man, standing over six-feet tall with a barreled chest and large belly. His arms were muscular and tanned from the sleeves of his t-shirt down. He wore overalls that were stained with oil, and mud and bits of mustard from his bologna and cracker sandwich. He climbed out of the old rusted Ford and made his way up the porch steps and into the cabin. The smell of supper filled the front room and his wife stood at the sink washing vegetables from the garden. His niece, Katie, was sewing at the old Singer in the sitting room. “School be startin’ Monday girl, you sewing up a new dress?”

            “Yes sir,” said Katie, not looking up from her task. Bud sensed she had been unhappy here, and he hoped that days at school and away from Donna would ease her discomfort. He loved his wife and knew she was a good woman, but he also knew how overbearing and judgmental she could be of the younger generation. Bud felt that rock and roll and girls in pants were just part of the change of the world and neither he nor his wife could do anything about it. Bud took his seat in the rocking chair and began to read his Bible by the lamp light and wait on supper to be finished. Just then, Jeremy burst through the door and yelled “Daddy!” Bud jumped up and smiled ear to ear at the sight of his son home after the long hot summer away in the big city. He grabbed him in his arms and hugged him tightly, patting him hard on the back. As they all sat down to supper at the table Jeremy said, “Here we are, all together.” Katie gazed out the kitchen window at the green blue hues of the sky near where the sinking sun was already blocked by the hills in the distance.

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Katie’s normally olive skin was pale and her eyes looked larger than normal, and almost sunken back in her face. Her hair clung to her cheeks and forehead, and beads of sweat ran down her face and chest. Jeremy could smell the blood and the oil from the lamp as he stepped into the damp cellar. The moistness from the sweat, and breath of the women hung on the walls, and the heat from the summer night lingered even below the ground. Katie looked at him sweetly pleading, he stood on the second to last step and opened his mouth to tell her everything was going to be ok, but before he could make a sound her sweet pleading look twisted into something otherworldly and she screamed. It was a loud and primal sound and the hair on the back of his neck stood on end. For a moment he considered turning around and running out of the cellar and into the darkness. He considered running and never looking back. It was at that moment he noticed the dress she was wearing. Through the lamp light and the sweat and the blood he saw it was yellow with small blue flowers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Jamie Lee, Mikey and Me

    As I sit here watching Jamie Lee Curtis run from Mikey for the umpteenth time I’m reminded once again of how much I love this time of year. Recently, my hometown had what’s known as the Foothills Festival. It’s a time of year when pumpkin spice and marijuana are in the air, and all the locals venture to the town square to see the same people, buy the same shit, and eat the same food that’s been served up to them for the past thirty some-odd years. I did it again this year, and I’ll do it again next year. This is good stuff, the stuff life is about and all that jazz. All that warm fuzzy shit aside, I feel a rant coming on…

    First up: People, let’s stop bitching about retail sporting the Christmas goods in September. Let’s just stop. We buy their shit, we’ll continue to buy their shit, therefore they’ll continue to do it. I say again, quit your bitching!

    Now let’s discuss these holidays. My personal favorite of course is Halloween. I mean, what’s not to love about an ancient pagan festival of the dead turned into a night strictly for slutty costumes, gore, candy, and I don’t have to cook?! If you’re one of those freaks who doesn’t let your kids celebrate for religious purposes, or prefer to call it a “fall celebration” quit your shit. The majority of our holidays are based around pagan celebrations, and your ignorance astounds me.

Moving on.

    Thanksgiving. Is there any more perfect way to celebrate fat, lazy, beer-loving Americans and the land we ripped off from the Indians than to sit on our fat, lazy, beer-drinking asses and watch the sport we ripped off from the British? This holiday is easily my second favorite.

    My least favorite holiday of all is Christmas. Seriously, this holiday makes me cringe. Do you know some people actually go into credit card debt to buy people shit? If you’re one of those people, stop it. You are what’s wrong with this world. I propose anti-Christmas shopping where we all wait until the clearance sales in January then buy Christmas gifts. Also, if you celebrate something other than Christmas such as Hanukkah, Kwanza, or something not-so-mainstream, go you! But I say Merry Christmas. I say it because it’s what I heard as a child, it is part of my culture. If you tell me Happy [insert choice holiday here] I will say it back, no big deal. But if you get snotty with me because I wasn’t politically correct I’ll tell you to go fuck yourself.
Yours is not the only religion that lays claim on the month of December, deal with it!

    That being said, it’s important to note here that I’m not religious. However, I enjoy the lights, the songs, the fellowship, the family. I celebrate for all the same reasons others do, minus one.   I may not be politically correct when it comes to the greeting I choose to use around this time of year, but must I be berated by posts and questions on Facebook about Jesus being the reason for the season, and “why do atheists even celebrate this time of year?”   Axial tilts are the reason for the season, and we celebrate it because we like time off work too!

     So you can’t blame me for disliking Christmas, preferring instead the sweet screams of Jamie, and the simple and sadistic purr of Mikey as he pursues her. I’ll take my hot cocoa and pumpkin spice over eggnog and cinnamon any day. And I’ll even settle for tryptophan-laden turkey and another viewing of ‘A Christmas Story’ over actually enduring a Christmas story of my own  . Ladies and gentlemen, I hope you all quit your bitching, don’t buy shit you don’t need, get over yourselves, and BE KIND this holiday season!