Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Thanks for the memories

Recently, I found myself humming a little ditty that I hadn't consciously been thinking about.  Just one of those random songs that pops into your head every now and again.

The ditty in question was "Catch a falling star" (and put it in your pocket, etc.).  Except the wording was slightly off.

Thanks to my dear departed Dad, my brother and I grew up with a fairly warped take on children's classics.  Dad had a fairly bawdy and largely scatological sense of humor.

So while my contemporaries were nattering on about pocketfuls of stars, we were twisting the lyrics to reflect collecting gaseous bodily emissions for a rainy day.  (rhymes with 'start' if you're slow to pick up)

Nice, right?  Of course, as young boys this was positively hysterical.

To this day, there was one car trip that still stands out in memory for me, my brother and mother as Dad's most memorable performance.  (And had we had such a thing in my day, the night Child Protective Services came...)

In 1970, we were the first in our family to move away from the extended clan.  From living just around the corner or across town - to living in a completely different state.

And let me pause to thank my parents for doing that, because we had so many more opportunities and adventures than had we stayed there.  In the cosmic blackjack game of life, the majority of my cousins busted early - some are in their forties and still living at home, others are ex-cons, alcoholics, you name it. 

In fact, when my maternal grandmother was still alive, I remember her joy when her fourth great grandchild was actually born 'legitimate'.  Prison time, mobile homes, multiple marriages/divorces - this is the legacy we left behind.

At a recent family encounter, I had an uplifting conversation with my cousin's daughter who - after showing us the high quality hair extensions she had just purchased at the local dollar store - shared with us the saga of meeting her most recent husband online.  A man with whom, despite the fact that he had a hereditary disease that slowly and painfully screwed his body into resembling a living question mark before killing him prematurely, she chose to breed.  So now, he's dead and she is left with a little girl who is already exhibiting early symptoms of the disease.

She's a relative success story.

Anyway - as the ones who abandoned the family early on, if we ever wanted to see family, we had to drive the eight hours back home to visit.  The highway connecting these two regions apparently only worked one way.

Awesome 1970 Chevy Caprice Kingswood Estate Wagon
About 4-6 times a year, we'd bundle into the car on a Friday - drive the eight hours to visit whichever side had won the draw - then bundle back into the car on Sunday for the reverse trip.  I used to regard these trips as pure torture and spent many of them trying to devise possible ways of dispatching my brother at 65 miles per hour, unnoticed.

During one particularly painful drive home (the return trip always seemed twice as long) because we had left later than usual, we were still on the road somewhere past midnight.  Road dementia had claimed all of us, except for my mother who has never managed to stay awake for a car ride in her life. In fact, she's generally out by the time we're pulling out of the driveway.

Dad - an unnecessarily avid chatterbox to begin with - had shifted into overdrive.  And my brother and I were literally bouncing off the windows in boredom-induced insanity.

So Dad decided to start 'adapting' nursery rhymes.

"Jack be nimble, Jack be quick.  Jack jumped a candle and burnt his d**k."

Given the circumstances, this was hysterical.  

We were howling as Dad inappropriately riffed on one filthy (to us) rhyme after another.

We were so off the hook, my mother even woke up.

This was the Westward Bound and Down, Chevrolet Caprice Station Wagon-enabled, Children's Twisted Poetry Slam.

But the killer, the coup de grace - the be all and end all - was when he pulled out Miss Muffet.

(Now keep in mind, he's making these up as he goes.)

Little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey.
Along came a spider and sat down beside her,
and said
"What's in the bowl, bitch?"

My mother had to leap over and wrest control of the speeding Chevy Caprice Poetry Slam Wagon from my father because he, my brother and I had absolutely dissolved.  We couldn't breathe, we were laughing so hard.

Grasping the steering wheel, my mother had to talk my father down to make a safe transition to the shoulder so we could stop the car and avoid killing us all.

I feared the worst from my mother, who had lost valuable sleeping-in-the-car time.  But by the time the car was brought to a safe stop on the shoulder, she too was laughing hysterically.

After that, the trips back home weren't so odious.  We'd always refer to that night and laugh together at the memory.

And sometimes, in the wee hours - or standing in line at the grocery store or on a conference call at work - I'll hear that small voice in the back of my head:

"What's in the bowl, bitch?"

And I'll smile.

You were a piece of work, Dad.  Thanks.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Return of the Post-it Confessions


Asian guys are gorgeous.

But then so are Celts.

And Swedes.  Yeah - Swedes.


Okay, maybe I'm just a gay Baskin Robbins at this point.

Ignore me.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Nothing but blue skies from now on

Missed you. But I'll just keep trying.

Darlings - I've missed you.

But thanks to a thoughtful prod from the lovely Tiger Chanter, I am getting off my ever widening ass and getting back into the blog biz.
Life and work have been busy, busy, busy - and I am, frankly, still getting my bearings dealing with my mother transitioning to life on her own and all the wonderful (not) challenges that represents.

This includes her taking a tumble over the dog and smashing a vertebrae (but that's healing) and getting the house ready to sell.

And thanks to my father's prolonged illnesses and physical impairments - and the fantastically inexpensive medical costs (not) associated with being sick in America - she is also having to declare bankruptcy.

Not exactly the picture she had in mind for retirement.

But it frees her to move on and hey - they can't take the house or the car away, so there's that.  She has also reached the top of the waiting list for a very nice single-story townhouse in an affordable seniors community nearby. This would put her within walking distance of her church, the community hospital and clinic, and just a few blocks away from shopping and other amenities.  Right now she has to drive to the next town - about 15 miles away.

This move will also spur the for-now-quite-helpful yet content-to-float brother to take some sort of life improving action.


I'm committed to clearing away the cobwebs and getting back into the hum and buzz of life.

Let's talk about Valentine's Day!

My God - where to begin?

G being overtaken by Monday's register tape -
and it was still 2 hours before closing.
For the last week, everyone associated with the shop has been in full-tilt boogie action to make Valentine's Day a success.  And what a success it was (truly!).

I took the day off work to help out with deliveries, order taking by phone, wrapping arrangements, and serving walk-in customers.  Recalling it is surreal.  In all, we had four designers, three delivery people, and three customer service people - and we never, never stopped, Monday or Tuesday.

There were whole blocks of time where I was doing nothing but taking phone orders,then another chunk where it seemed people were standing in line to just hand me money.  Amazing.

But what really stands out in my mind are the smiles of the people I delivered to.

It's rose madness!
Among those I delivered to, there were some people doing great things.  A counselor at Family Court, a case worker at the county mental health center, and an aide working with her young patients at a home for children with debilitating cerebral palsy.

I am not religious, but when you talk about people who are doing God's work, these ladies' faces should appear beside that encyclopedia entry.

Watching their faces light up was worth every minute I've sweated out over the last four days.

By Monday evening, our spare cooler was
stacked from floor to ceiling with
orders for Tuesday
So - I've just returned home from my office for my real job. I had to stop three times en route to get out of the car and walk around in the chilly air just to keep from nodding off behind the wheel.

I am exhausted, frankly.  But it's a very happy and relaxed kind of tired.

I'm excited about some new work projects I am taking on that will be significant to the company and highly visible.

Anyhoo - it's time to crawl into bed with the snuggle-dogs for a quick pre-dinner nap.

Ciao to you all - XOXO!


You know how people say that thing about, "Oh - I was so tired I was asleep before my head hit the pillow."?

Just did that for reals - it's kinda spooky.