Monday, July 31, 2006

☐35-45 ☐Over

The candles extinguished, only crumbs remain of the double-chocolate, double layer circle of sweetness. The dust has settled on the weekend of celebratory events and it was fine. The first gift to myself, an entire weekend free of work; no schedules, reports or recruiting responsibilities. I even managed to snag seven full hours of sleep on Thursday night, signaling a mighty fine start to the Over celebrations..

The principles in my life, having different schedules and styles, each devised their own tribute to me this weekend.

On Friday, YL invited me to join her and co-workers, along with their chargees at
KiddieLand. Hanging out with 3-5 year olds, some experiencing inner-tube, lazy river rides for the first time was more than worth the price of admission.

Later that evening I had a date to go dancing with YM. He took me to Chicago's Summer Dance event, featuring East Coast Swing dancing. We, along with many others, were taught some basic jitterbug steps by top instructors. We were then let loose to dance our happy feet away to the music of the
Rhythm Rockets. After a sangria or two, it didn't even feel like 90 degrees in the shade. It was a blast.

I played tourist on Saturday. Mom treated me to lunch at a favorite spot, Lone Star and then a trip to
Navy Pier. We saw throngs of people, a very large Ferris Wheel, cruise ships, speed boats, a lighthouse and fantastic views of the Chicago skyline. I don't normally have time for this kind of folly and haven't been to the pier in a few years. In spite of the crowds, it was peaceful.

Mom did have me running errands and had a chore of two for me beforehand, but that was to be expected, really. I tried to relax and let the day unfold; eventually, it did.

Sunday, my birthday, began predictably enough, with a phone call from mom at 6:30 a.m. (she'd forgotten I was not working this day) with a Happy Birthday wish, several questions about facts and figures not yet in evidence (mom has a 20 questions approach to conversation) and further wishes for a good day. I tried in vain to go back to sleep.

Ah well, up now and with the household asleep, I prepared and ate a leisurely breakfast, took a couple of loads to the laundry-mat, returned home and took a nap. YM was up and about when I woke and while preparing to go on another audition, told me funny stories about his Saturday night. YL arose and we made plans to go out for a meal and a movie. I had
Chicken Piccata, it was divine. We saw, The Devil Wears Prada, finally, it ws a gem.

Much later, we all had cake (and ice cream for me) a cocktail or two and then it was done. It's official, one more Over is added to the check-list. The 46th birthday is booked. Now it's back to work, to diet, back to routines, recollections and expectations.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Someday Baby

Music has been a part of my existence from my very earliest recollections. Both mom and dad liked to dance, not always with each other, not to the same tune, but dance they did. My mom was up to her eyebrows in Motown hits. She had probably four trillion 45's. The Temptations, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, Supremes, Four Tops, and Martha and the Vandellas, the more up-tempo of their offerings, being among her favorites.

She loved ballads as well. These she didn’t play as much, (except for Smokey’s.) I got the impression that these were for private moments. By the time I was old enough to notice, mom and dad were pretty much done with these kind of private moments. They fought in private, or at least tried to fight in private.

One ballad kicked Smokey and the others off the spindle. Someday Baby came out and life as we knew it changed. "Someday baby, you’re going to want to hold me." is the only lyric I remember. I don’t remember who recorded it, my search, fruitless, given the limited information I have. I only think the title was Someday Baby, I could be wrong. The two facts I know about this song; it wasn’t on the Motown label and my mom loved it with a passion she didn’t feel for much of anything else during this time.

She played this record until it warped. She bought another and she warped it as well. She bought a third.

She and dad had separated, her favorite brother, R was dying and she was fighting to hold it all together for her kids. As it happens, this song was one Uncle R’s favorites as well. She tried to see him every day when he was in the hospital. She would return from the hospital and play the record long into the night.

"Someday baby, you’re going to want to hold me."

After Uncle R died and mom stopped playing records for a time. Several days after his funeral, she went to the player and there it was, "Someday baby, you’re going to want to hold me." She couldn’t stand to look at it, let along play, she threw it away.

A few days later, she went back to the record player and there it was, "Someday baby, you’re going to want to hold me." She screamed at us, "WHO! Put this record back here!" We all denied touching the record. She screamed some more, while throwing the record away, this time breaking it in half and taking it directly to the can in the alley.

Some days later mom went to put on some records and there it was, "Someday baby, you’re going to want to hold me." After whipping us pretty soundly, she took the record outside and melted it down.

Mom didn’t go near the record player for several weeks. She and dad were fighting by proxy through their respective sisters. Talk was we were going to have to move from our apartment. She was growing more and more despondent and weak. Mom got pneumonia, got fired from her job and we did indeed prepare to move. While packing up the records, there it was, "Someday baby, you’re going to want to hold me." She cried for a very long time.

The record was left in the apartment we vacated and it hasn’t been seen or heard, since.

Whenever I think of this series of incidents, I’m reminded of Dorothy’s Lion.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Meat and potatoes, bread and butter, milk and cookies; my kitchen, more often than not, is just the basics. Nuts and bolts, plain and simple is the order of most days.

An occasional desire for variety, verve and oompah drives me to visit Gourmet 47.

Impressed by the extensive variety of exotic fruits and veggies, nuts and berries, sweets and spirits, I wander the aisles, mesmerized, hoping that some, one, of these delectable edibles will spark some inspiration to deliver magic.

Filling my head and basket with hopes and possibilities, I all but stumble upon Tequila Shots.

Morsels of verve. Tubes of oompah. Mission accomplished .

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Ouch! Could you please get your knee off of my chest?
Now, imagine this plain and simple plea emitting from a mouth stuffed full of cotton, fingers, implements and numbed to some degree by one, two, no, three shots of Novocain.


Thus, was one adventure to a dentist. This particular sadist was attempting to extract a wisdom tooth and I do believe part of my tongue, what was left of my gums while caving in my chest wall. Had my tonsils still been in position, I would have feared their safety.

This trip to the dentist was some 12 or 13 yeas ago. What I remember most, beyond the hours, yes, hours in the chair, excruciating pain, the knee to the chest and my horror at the ineptitude of this practitioner, what I remember most, is that this disaster caused me to miss my daughter's softball game where she hit the cycle. I remember so vividly because she guilt trips, ahem, reminds me every three or so years.

It was yet another trip to yet another dentist that had me missing a soccer game where she scored a hat trick. Try as I might to work my dentistry around her sporting events..

Needless-to-say, going to the dentist does fill me with a smidgen of dread. While there are no more sporting events to conflict with appointments, there is, you know, life. Besides, I just don't like the dentist.

Last week, I appear in the office of the most recent dental practitioner to have graced my roster of practitioners. I have had and dropped a few. Some because of chunky, clumsy fingers, (and before you jump all over me for the chunky, clumsy remark-I have chunky fingers too-but I'm not sticking them in people's mouths trying to fix stuff) some because the office staff is rude, the dentist is rude, the office is too cold, they move the office to where might as well be Siberia, or the dentists' breath is just ...Well, enough said.

This newest guy seemed ok. And oh, by the way, is it just here or is there glaring absence of women in dentistry? Anyway, the new guy, I've been to the office a few times and those appointments went pretty much according to plan. The office, in an older classic building, is convenient to my office. The one negative about the building is the older, creaking elevator. Riding to the tenth floor is an adventure which makes going to the dentist seem like a picnic-which, now that I think about it, might be a point. The staff is friendly and professional. The dentist, good-looking, if you like that sort of candy, took care to pop a mint before invading my facial space. So, all things considered, maybe I've found MY dentist, at last.

Well, last week I had an appointment for 1:00 p.m. I'd decided before-hand to take the afternoon off and made arrangements to have an early dinner with a dear but distant friend. I leave work at noon and walk the 13 or 14 blocks, arriving in the office suite at 12:45 even after the interminable wait for and ride in the elevator. I check in, after a brief wait, get ushered into a room, a chair and an apron. I then sit and watch the neighboring rooftop, a paint by numbers landscape and whatever daytime soap was currently playing on the television. I sat, rotating my head from focal point to focal point, willing myself not to nap, for the next hour and a half.

I am not a screamer. So, no screaming, but seething, yes, most definitely seething. I remove the apron, bid adieu to the neighboring rooftop, the paint by numbers landscape and the daytime soap. I exit the office, telling the receptionist to not bother sending me a reminder for the next appointment. Her "but the dentist will by right with you" was being drowned out by the clang, clang, clanging of the antiquated elevator.

Shit. The search begins, anew.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Fiftieth Post: The 100 (Too Much, Too Late?)

Ah well.
1. I'm a list maker.
2. Ergo, a list I must make.
3. I am a mother of two, a son and a daughter.
4. I once thought two sons would be best.
5. I'm glad it didn't turn out that way.
6. Don't get it twisted, a lot of the years (especially teens) were surreal.
7. The mom muscles were stretched to New Mexico and back, many times over.
8. Still flexing as needed.
9. Hard work and luck brought us to where we are today.
10. Truth is fundamental.
11. I believe we owe it to our children to be as honest as their age allows.
12. I also believe in doses of whimsy and fantasy.
13. I am nosy, usually and especially where son and daughter are concerned.
14. I am a daughter.
14. This is my hardest job, yet.
15. I am a sister.
16. I don't even know if I know what it means to be their sister.
17. I read, always.
18. I read for work, for growth, for fun.
20. I read for LIFE.
21. I wear glasses.
22. I like wearing glasses, NO contacts for me.
23. And if you don't get that laser out of my face, there will be trouble.
24. I fall asleep, (when I sleep) with my glasses on, often.
25. Not being able to see frightens me.
26. Heights, sometimes not even so great, make me wobbly.
27. Not a fan of water (deep, lake or ocean variety) either.
28. OK for gazing upon not for cavorting within.
29. I like writing letters.
30. Well, writing, period.
31. I like to draw and paint.
32. Hooking rugs and other crafty arts took up time in my space too.
33. I was once an art major.
34. I haven't tweaked those tendencies in some time.
35. This will change.
36. I used to play piano.
37. I will again.
38. I like plants and flowers.
39. But, please, for the love of Lucy, keep those images off my clothes.
40. Love is fundamental.
41. I have blissfully romantic notions.
42. My marriage was not a casualty of my sexuality.
43. It was over long before certain realizations surfaced.
44. And became real.
45. Real love has been a stranger to me.
46. When we meet...Ah sweet.
47. Movies I like very much.
48. Movie theaters, not so.
49. I like live theatre, especially when my son is on stage. (surprise)
50. I can be silly.
51. Most who know me, don't know that.
52. I struggle against being defined or typed. My landscape is not like any other.
53. I despise labels and the resulting assumptions.
54. Free form, freedom is fundamental.
55. Ooh, big ball sports, bring it on!
56. Soccer, women, so much more than men.
57. Abby Wambach rules the pitch.
58. Volleyball, Gym not beach.
59. Women, not men.
60. Basketball, college not pro.
61. See 59.
62. Some small ball, yes?
63. Tennis, softball, baseball too.
64. And what is winter without football?
65. I don't have a cell phone anymore.
66. I will have to get a cell phone, again. Aarrgghh.
67. Acronyms and other shortcuts, irritating they may be, are a necessary functionary sign of the times. :( wtf ?

68. I do not smoke.
69. I have never voluntarily smoked.
70. I have been a victim.
71. Multiple crimes, multiple times.
72. Most were perpetrated by a family member.
73. Honor is fundamental.
74. Music is a healing force.
75. The force takes me across many boundaries, into many worlds.
76. Contrary to this current display, I do not like talking about myself.
77. Forging new relationships is tough for me.
78. I am genuinely, though, less painfully, shy.
79. I tend not to scream.
80. I can be a control enthusiast.
81. Saying f-u-c-k makes my stomach queasy.
82. But is does fly from my mind and mouth, from time to tome.
83. I hardly write it, though.
84. When I was younger, I wanted to be a boy.
85. And in no particular order, a journalist.
86. An impressionist.
87. A musician.
88. A photographer.
89. An athlete and more.
90. Dreams are fundamental.
91. Years ago, I was hit by a truck.
92. No broken bones, but I was sore for a l o n g time afterward.
93. As a full-time pedestrian and bicyclist, I am an even more considerate motorist.
94. I used to dance like no one was watching.
95. I need to do that more.
96. I accept who I was. I like her, finally.
97. Deep, slow, sweet kisses are fundamental.
98. Hugs are as necessary as air.
99. Learning is fundamental.

100. The journey continues.

Friday, July 21, 2006

two dollars and forty cents

Small change, two-dollars and forty cents; miniscule, minute even. What it represents is tantamount to that place freezing over. Well, no, not really, but come on, a fine? Levied against me? For not one, but two overdue library books? Yeah, that's what happens when you don't give them back, on time.

Shit. I feel like such a deadbeat. I don't remember ever missing a due date because I wasn't finished with the book. What? Three weeks, hell six (because I did renew one, once) not enough time to finish a book? This has been happening more frequently of late. The struggle to complete tasks, even things that I want, or like doing. I've been losing focus. I. can. not. concentrate.

Something has got to give.

I can't pin-point the exact moment it started. It may have emerged sometime last year. The insomnia started last year, shortly after my forty-fifth birthday. I've gotten fairly accustomed to operating on about four hours of sleep. Physically, I feel pretty well. The concentration, or rather, lack thereof, is most likely a by-product of the little sleep syndrome.

The doctor advises; no caffeine after noon, done. No exercise at night, done. Take a warm bath, done. I've tried warm milk, herbal teas, wine, whiskey and song, you know soft music. Nope. Nothing has worked.

I'm not having dreams either. Considering how little sleep I'm getting, not dreaming might be good, but still, I miss my dreams. I drew more and with greater ease and fluidity, when I dreamt.

While discussing this with myself the other day (yeah, I am the only one who really listens to me about me) it occurred to me that my mind is both wired and weary. The wired continuing to overpower the weary until weary gives in and wired takes charge. The net result is hours of wakefulness for this woman. So, how to trick wired into assuming the weary position?

I don't know. But, I am going to take another step. I'm altering the PTG schedule. I'm going to cut out three work hours, which if you factor in commuting is really five hours.

F I V E H O U R S ! To have five hours more a week to sit unencumbered by phones, interviewees, commuters or late evening revelers would mean more time to give weary a fighting chance, possibly even a leg up on wired. Maybe, giving weary time to transform into a restful being.

Then, maybe I can take a nap, get up refreshed and finish a book or something.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Brown to Green Thumb

The total sum of my knowledge of all things green, yellow, red and all the other pretty colors of a garden wouldn't fill a thimble. I have, with some hits and misses nurtured a very small variety of house plants over the years, but until two years ago never had opportunity to venture outside tackle mother earth head-on, so to speak.

I am the polar opposite of outdoorsy. I've never been camping. I've been party to only a handful of forest preserve picnics. I've spent a good part of my life in a concrete jungle where the only thing growing was despair. After moving to the suburbs, I began to see another world and new interests emerge. I still lived in apartments where the grounds were maintained by professionals, yet, the idea of one day having my own outdoor garden was planted.

So, it didn't come as a complete and total surprise when I assumed the role of Plant Master Flash of our dis-associated condo association. Having sparked an interest in growing things and deciding that my body had grown enough, well this seemed a perfect solution.

A previous owner, bless her soil encrusted fingers, got the ball rolling with an end of season clearance purchase about three years ago. She too, apparently, harbored a desire to rid the front yard of the wayward weeds overdosed on steroids persona it wore from the years of neglect. She bought a heapa stuff with roots and green things. She enlisted the aid of a friend or two and they spent a weekend digging and planting. The final result was a bit over reaching and a bit haphazard, but I applauded the efforts.

Sadly, she sold her unit and moved away shortly after this burst of botanic inspiration. As winter was approaching, I waited to see what the spring would bring.

Ahh, spring. And look! Tulips, daffodils and some other stuff I can't call by name. There were shrubs and two small trees, one budding and one not. There was some ground cover along with a lot of unruly grass masquerading as weeds, oh wait, it was all weedy. Here I go. I'd spent many hours over the winter looking at catalogs, ordering all manner of plant life. I got out there and raked, dug, cleared a path and planted, looking to all the world like I knew what I was doing. Not. A. Clue. Yet, onward I pressed.

The buncha stuff I bought (note: buncha less than heapa--I didn't have heapa money, truth be told I didn't have buncha money either, but what the hell) now firmly implanted waiting for me to will it to yard beautiful. Like with the house plants, there were some hits and some misses. Mostly due to my impulsiveness and poor planning. One other thing I didn't consider was what a valuable asset in would be to have a spigot in the front of the building. Watering will be much less taxing if I didn't have to stretch 9000 feet of hose around the back of the building, down the length of the building, (through an alley) across the Continental Divide, I mean, the front. (note to self: get lazy board to put spigot on list of things to do and then get them to do it.)

Two years into project yard some progress has been made. We are still the not so proud (well, me anyway) owners of a raggedy plot of land. However, with the adjustments to attitude, visits to local conservatories and advice from professional and amateur gardeners, it won't be, forever. Gardens are not built in a day, or even 730. I must be patient, diligent and tolerant.

It would be nice if any of the other owners would help, but even if they don't, this is for me. I will conquer this plot. It will be mine, mine A L L M I N.., well, you know it will be pretty.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Hey You ! ?

Estimable presidential candidate, Elizabeth asks, "Are You Your Name? I think so, but...

Most of my early life, I was know as something other than my given name, Deborah. I was well into my twenties before I know of the biblical connotations. This realization didn't change anything, it was merely an interesting aside. My given name spawned my very first nickname, Debbie.

The middle name, rarely uttered, was in use briefly, during my early artistic years. I don't give voice to this name because the temptation to cannibalize the two into the obvious incarnation might lead to a rather ugly incident.

Per family lore, Mom wanted to name me Clementine and oddly enough it was my dad who lobbied against that moniker. How would life unfolded for me as Clementine? We will never know.

A relative gifted my mom and by extension, me with a designer creation. Similar to Pam and Penny's dress, my frock was brown and white with a bib front and full skirt. Stitched along the hem, Buttons, buttons, whose got the buttons? Oh yeah, there were a hella buttons. Go on, guess who became Buttons for a time?

Rumor has it that as an infant I was quiet. Even as a toddler I was to the far right of gregarious. The remedy for bringing me out of the well-polished shell was Head Start. Well, shell firmly in place even after the Head Start stint, prompted by dad to color me, Gabby. Get it?

As I age, Button waned. Gabby disappeared with dad. Christmas was born of my tendency to finish lunch (well, all meals really) long after everyone else. This name fades as well. Debbie survives through childhood, into high school and a little bit beyond.

Seven trillion Debbies later, I decide during my second year in college, that it is time for Deborah to come home. Family and close friends cling to Debbie for some time afterward but eventually, most came around. Debbie still dribbles from the lips of some who knew me before 1977 and of course I'm treated to *Debbie* whenever some stranger, business or other casual acquaintance decides that Deborah is just not cute or friendly enough.

YM invented the most recent nickname. Solidly Deborah by this time, YM, just learning to speak, proudly and quite loudly, christened me Bubba. Eventually, mom, ma and many variations on the theme made appearances over the years. Bubba remains a sentimental favorite.

In October YL will celebrate her 21st birthday. She blackmailed, ahem, asked me to take her to Vegas. As I have agreed, she submits that I need an alias or two to maximize the experience. Not trusting me to manufacture my own faux persona, she has appointed herself Chief of Pseudonyms. As chief she gets first (and last) refusal of any possible candidates. The first possible, Holly Pennylips is being seriously considered.

Real or pseudo, I've been these and more. Above all else, though, I am simply, Deborah. The name may change but the role remains the same.

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Time Has (Almost) Come

He was waiting for me. He tried not to look like he was waiting, but he was. I know because he started talking as soon as I sat down. Anecdotes about last night's adventures in the blues club he frequents, contact made with potential new (day) job employer, news on the auditions front and oh, hey, by the way, "I think I found my neighborhood." Ding. Ding. Ding. He went on describing the stats; crime rate (virtually non-existent), demographics (extremely diverse), flavor (artistic / actor friendly community), and rents (reasonable). YM is going to move. Not today, mind you, but soon enough.

YM graduated from college two months ago and since then has been quite the busy actor. He secured himself an agent, researched photographers and locations for his next set of head shots, has gone on at least a dozen auditions and actively pursue a new (day) job that pays more that the current one; bringing the moving out day even closer. He is literally buzzing with excitement. I share his enthusiasm, really, I do, but I can't help but feel a little bit sad, a little bit nervous and a little bit lost.

When he was a youngster I read to him often from Marvin K. Mooney, Will You Please Go Now! over and over again. YM got the biggest kick trying to figure out why Marvin the imp was being asked to leave everywhere, in every way possible. Will you please go now! became a running joke between us for years.

I know, it is time. YM is ready for and needs to take this step. I'm grateful for having had him this close, for this long. I am comforted by the foundation we've formed. I'm confident we can sustain, even expand our relationship. Besides, his trusty little neighborhood guide book reports that the neighborhood he proposes to move into boasts a bustling lesbian population. Dinner at YM's, an idea whose time has come.

Still, I can't help but feel just a little bit like asking my Marvin K. Mooney to stay.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Three people got on the crowded train car this morning, talking amicably with one another about, whatever. I don't really know what they were talking about, I was really trying to concentrate on my book. which is getting harder and harder to do these days. Anyway, the subject turned to food. My ears immediately perked. I wasn't really trying to listen. I really couldn't avoid hearing, they were standing directly over me.

It seems that their workplace is going to have some kind of banquet. Apparently, the location and the menu has not yet been decided. Each party had suggestion. I heard burgers, Italian beefs and it got somewhat noisy so I could really hear the connecting phrases. I don;t know if there were any preferences one way or the other until, one of the three, said, "I'm not trying to have no ham hocks in my egg rolls."

Once my internal guffaws ( at the image of these huge hunks of fatty *meat* wrapped in an egg roll ) subsided, I thought about food and the kind of food that appeals to me.

The traditional soul food fare is not really my choice; ham hocks make me gag. Much of the food stuffs I'd grown up eating, I don't eat much now, unless, my mother or one of her sisters does the cooking. I think my favorite food is Italian. I say, think because Mexican is really up there too. I like to go out for both. I've tried to prepare a few dishes, they came out ok, but... practice continues. Lasagna and spinach enchiladas make my mouth water.

Some vestiges of childhood remain, though. Chicken is still a staple. We prepare chicken in some form at least once a week Later in life health concerns, however, limits fried to once a month. And as boneless, skinless chicken breasts rest in my freezer often, grilled or baked chicken ala anything is usually on the menu.

And speaking of chicken, I want to know who in the hell came up with the Famous Bowl. Are you familiar with the KFC Famous Bowl? A bowl of mashed potatoes, topped with gravy, topped with battered chicken turds, topped with corn kernels, topped with cheese. Yuck, Yuck and more yuck, talk about gagging. If I wasn't boycotting KFC I would be in there asking them to take that hideous poster down.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Just? A Friend

I have a buddy. She and I have known each other for twenty-seven years. We were co-workers. I was a new hire and she was one of the veterans assigned to show me around. We didn't work in the same department until I got promoted a few times, over a few years.

She was accounts payable and I was (eventually) accounts receivable/credit & collections. We both reported to the controller (and what a piece of work he was--another time.) Prior to my assignment to accounting office services we were just elevator and break room buddies. 'Hey, howya doin' kind of buddies.

During the years that we worked virtually, side-by-side, we shared confidences. She knew of my crumbling marriage, mom, brother(s) and kid(s) issues. I knew of her cheating boyfriend who had at least two outside children (one of whom she ultimately adopted,) her mom and brother issues.

The company was sold and the new owner re-organized. She was one of about 60 to be laid off. She and her mother sold their house, bought a new house in a small town very much south of Chicago. She went to work in a doctor's office and she, her mother, daughter and (I guess) no longer cheating boyfriend, settled in to enjoy the slower pace of the smaller town.

In the beginning we kept in touch with letters (me,) emails and cards. Time passed and it became e-cards and a few emails. The emails were fewer and farther between and the e-cards stopped. Then the forwards began. Chain letters, electronic blessings, *funny* stories, pictures, inspirational and patriotic messages; any and all matter of junky noise.

Out of some sense of camaraderie and in honor of what we once meant to each other; I opened, read and forwarded as instructed. At some point I stopped the forwarding. Then, I stopped opening. Now, I'm deleting on sight. I'm a few beats away from coding her address as spam.

We haven't *spoken* since her mom died two years ago, just days before my buddy's birthday. In the interim, I sent cards, letters and 'hey, howya doin emails.' What I get back is the chain; forward this to ten people and receive a blessing, or open this for funny pics, or some other junky noise missive.

I have a buddy that I thought was a friend.

On the other hand, I got an actual letter, written on paper, in ink, from another former co-worker who told a funny story about her thirteen year old, almost six foot tall, son, Moses. She seems to always get a letter to me around my birthday. Whenever it arrives, it never fails to amuse and uplift.

See ya, I've got a letter to write.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Zero to Ready

The right arm had no fewer than eight gold bracelets of various widths and styles. A similar look adorned the left arm, except in silver. The right hand found a home for five gold rings, again of various styles and sizes. The left hand mirrored the right, again, in silver.

The earrings and necklaces were gold; three in each of ear and four nestled against the neck. I was momentarily blinded by the teller's glow. I wondered how she could concentrate with all that jingling and jangling. I found myself trying not to think about what might have been around her ankles or egad, her toes.

Does she bedeck herself like this every morning or does she go to bed with all this hardware? If she accessorizes like this every morning, with the hair and make-up, which from the looks of them were quite labor intensive, how long does it take her to get out the door?

I'm a simple woman when it comes to accessories and other daily grooming needs. Not many styles of earrings are compatible with the telephone receiver and headset that are part of my days. I generally rotate four or five pair, but only one at a time. One simple chain goes around my neck and no more than three rings amongst the ten digits. My jewelry choices these days are usually silver, that is, when I remember to don them.

I don't wear make-up and since cutting my hair very short a few weeks ago, a risk brushing is all that I need to do to shape it for the morning. My clothing generally consists of a shirt or blouse with slacks and a jacket or sweater, even in summer. I'm all about simplicity and comfort.

If I stay away from ESPN or the morning news talking heads, I can go from zero to ready in just under 40 minutes, including the shower.

What about you?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

YB ( Younger Brother )

During his freedom stint that last time, he and his wife bought a house, He started an auto detailing business. He talked his wife into quitting her job to come into the business and help him run office functions, full-time. Without her income and other benefits, clothing and feeding their two daughters and one son, maintain the house and business became too much for him and the business alone to sustain. Over extended, stressed and panicked, he fell on old behavior. He got sticky fingers. Breaking and Entering being his favorite method of obtaining viable goods to sell.

An user and abuser of drugs off and on this entire adult life; he needed to feed this hunger as well. Five years after his parole that time, he was arrested again. He was found asleep in traffic, in the car he had stolen. The car was full of items taken from a house he broke and entered. He made a deal, pled out and got 12 years. He was paroled after serving six.

YB has been out since March. He's busy rebuilding his life, reinserting himself into the lives of his family. His stepdaughter had two children while he was inside. His daughter starting learning how to play the clarinet and has had several recitals while he was inside. His son was busy being an active, playful, funny little boy while he was inside. Life went on without him, while he was inside.

At 44 years old and three prison stints, my younger brother wants exactly what he wanted when he was 16. He wants to be a gazillionaire. He wants it hard and he wants it fast. At 44 he is still impatient, immature, impetuous and susceptible to implosion.

Today he wants to distribute supplies to auto detailing shops in and around Chicago and surrounding suburbs. He would like eventually to open his own auto dealership. He has various research projects that he needs help conducting. Having been both victimized and betrayed by him many, many times before, I'm reluctant, yet...

He is his mom's baby boy, father to my only nieces and nephew and as persistent as a blood-thirsty mosquito. So for his kids, for his mom, for our family, I try to be positive. I try to be supportive. I will try to help.

I'll try to keep from getting stung.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Flipped Out

It's not personal, it's business. Business casual is the dress code at both work places. The office, oddly enough is a bit more laid back, likely due to being less corporate, strictly mail order and the rarity of client visits. The PTG is much more corporate, with clients and potential clients visiting often. Business casual is, or at least, reportedly, stridently enforced.

In case any of the staff are confused about what constitutes business casual it is spelled out in the employee manual and oft repeated in the weekly newsletters. To wit; slacks, modest skirts/dresses, shirts/blouses with collars and closed, non-athletic style shoes. The more specific no-no list includes but is not limited to, tee shirts, especially those with messages or images, athletic clothing and shoes, tank and halter tops, jeans, shorts, sandals and flip flops.

Much of the staff, apparently, not only need clarification but to be beaten about the head with the message; gym, club and beach clothes not acceptable office attire.

I work nights and weekends and as such, expect the atmosphere to be a bit less rigid than regular business hours, thus, I am not surprised to see a tee shirt or two, sweatpants, athletic shoes and such. I was not and will not ever be prepared for flip flops.

There is no place for flip flops in the workplace, unless the workplace is a beach or some similar venue. The exposure of one's bare feet in the office is just wrong. Besides being a displeasing sight, the sound of that slap of rubber against the sole of the foot when people are flip flopping their way to and fro is annoying and distracting.

Plus, most flip flops are ugly as are many of the feet they pretend to house. And dangerous. Yes, dangerous. Ask YL how many times I've stepped on her when the flop didn't flip when her foot did. That fraction of a second that the *shoe* is on the ground while the heel of the foot is aloft, is all a reforming klutz like me needs to send both parties stumbling.

I don't have anything against flip flops or feet. It's not personal, it's business casual and it's the code.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

G is for...

I call them the G's. G for girl, G for grand. G for Gail and Gayle.

Both are six years older than I and bother are middle girls. My cousin Gayle, from my father's side of the family, has an older and younger brother. My cousin Gail, from my mother's side has three older and three younger brothers. Gail also has a younger sister.

Gayle made me pancakes, let me hang out with her when she was getting ready for a date or when she out with her friends. Gayle was one of the first of either family to allow that maybe, being a girl wasn't such a bad thing afterall.

Gail re-instilled fun in my life. When my family had to move in with hers after my parents separated, she took me under her wing. Even more that her sister, who was closer to my age, Gail included and enveloped me. She introduced me to music that was beyond that of Black radio. She listened and talked to me. She took me places. A bond was created during seven months of 1969 that continues to vibrate.

Several years ago I had an opportunity to attend a family reunion hosted by my father's family. Gayle was there with her kids. I hadn't seen her in many years, as she and her family had moved from the area when I was in my teens. It was like time had stood still, except it hadn't. Our kids got to know each other a bit and it was grand. She said how great it was to see me and my kids, I returned the sentiment. Gayle was the one of the few members of my father's family who seemed genuine each time we were together.

Gayle died from complications due to lupus shortly after this reunion. Memories of the moments we shared those few occasions we were together are cached like the most valuable of treasures.

Through her abusive first marriage, child births (& rearing) divorce and her mother's death, my other Gail cousin never failed to offer her support. She was especially present during the most tumultuous years, as she provided a safe haven to which I escaped every chance I got during those later teen years. Gail presents a picture of strength and independence. The spirit of which I draw upon daily.

The G's never met each other. Sad, as I think we all would have been great, great friends.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Good? Yeah it's all good, Morning

What gets you up in the morning? The alarm, dogs, cats (or other pets,) garbage trucks rumbling by, birds chirping in nearby trees or feeders, wind chimes, kids, lover, the call of nature, the call of the wild, a bad dream, a good dream, the smell of bacon, or coffee, applause, (applause?) The sun shining through the windows or rain pounding on the roof?

Is it the will? The will to start a new day. The will to succumb to the dream that this will be your day The day you find your true love. The day you get to say to your loves, you love them, again. The day that is not yesterday and gives your yet, more hope for tomorrow.

Is is the wanting? To start learning that second language, start that building project, to make that reservation to see your Aunt Betty in Maryland, registering in that on-line course, to see the sun and to hear that song you heard for the first time yesterday and simply and instantly fell in love.

Is is the need? To work, play, parent, mentor, read, write, draw, sculpt, love and be loved. Live.

Or, is it just the ringing phone, again.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Auntie & Me

Hugging, kissing, cheek pinching, hair tousling and chin chucking all while smiling, happy faces commend you on doing that which you have absolutely no control, growing.

How many times have you gone to family functions as a kid and gotten *the treatment* and how many times, as an adult, have you committed these acts yourself? It's probably not as prevalent today, what with the explosion of the internet, family blogging, emailing of photos and videos; families are much more connected these days, as least that is the perception. But still, I bet, somewhere, this weekend, as families gather to celebrate, a kid is being hugged, kissed, pinched tousled and chucked, all the while being informed as to how tall they've gotten.

My mother's family had a different little wrinkle in this ritualistic greeting where I was concerned. My aunts and uncles all greeted me with the prerequisite hugs, kisses and so on...but also with, "You look just like my dead sister, Geneva. Did you know that?"

Now, what in the hell was I supposed to do with this little bit of intel?

Did I know that? Well, I've been hearing this statement from each one of my 7 aunts and uncles and my mom ever since I can remember. I generally just accept the *compliment* with a smile and a nod.

I did begin to wonder though, did looking like my mother's dead sister Geneva (yes, she was always referred to as: dead sister Geneva) mean that I looked dead? Cute? Substantial? Inconsequential? I presumed it was a compliment, but was it really? Did it matter?

I also began to wonder about Aunt Geneva; who she was, how she died. I've never seen a photo of her..I don't know if any exists. She was an adult, married with kids, when she died, which was long before I was even born. I didn't meet her children until I was an adult. In fact, I met her grand-daughter before I met her daughter.

I worked up the courage to ask about Aunt Geneva when I was about 13 or so. I got nothing. No one ever talks about her...except to say how much I look like her, which I do take as a compliment, since it is always said with a smile and a nod.