uncle carl. hoarding memories. bonding moments.

dinner.

dinner.

wildflower hunting

today was one of those days where i was bombarded with thoughts, feelings, images, stimuli. this is not unusual, not for anyone. if you are paying attention, most days are like that. it isn’t until we shut down that we quit seeing all the things around us.

this is how my day started: i rolled out of bed. made my hair/face/teeth good enough for a trip to the vet, and bleary eyed shoved my cat in a cat carrier and got in the car. it’s humid. i hate going to the vet. as i was rolling through my neighborhood two little girls in flowing pink nightgowns/dresses/fairy outfits (it was early, i’m still not sure) were in their front yard waving enthusiastically. my first thought was maybe they were having an early morning lemonade stand, it is hot after all. then i realized they were waving with enthusiasm at the mail truck rolling by. they were waving hello to the mail person. for some reason i found this image just utterly charming. in a day when most things but direct mail fliers and a handful of urgent bills are delivered via digital . . . i just thought this was cute as hell. it made me think about receiving letters as a kid. from relatives. pen pals. it got me a little choked up to be honest.

my next stop was the gas station. right as i was debating if i wanted to take the time to get a soda or keep trucking to the vet, my gas gauge pinged at me. DING! fine. pull in. start fueling up. knowing i have some time, i roll in to get my soda.  it felt like one of those movie moments honestly. the place is deserted. she had the perfect affect of bored minimum wage worker. in the movie version i’m wearing aviators and grab a beef jerky before i put a gun in her startled face and tell her to give me all the cash in the register while lionel richie plays over the speakers. instead i hand over my soda and she tells me “$1.81”. I swipe my card. “there is a $3.00 minimum”.

me “i’m putting $50 in fuel in my car. right there. how about you let it slide”

no response, she pushes the buttons that approve my purchase and goes back to whatever part of life she was hating before i walked in.

next stop: the vet.

Now. i like my vet. its walk in only. no appointments. its not fancy. it smells. it smells like 50 years of pets being marched in full of anxiety and disease and bad breath. they have a bird. the bird makes a lot of noise. mostly it mimics the cats crying in their crates. or whistles.  today the place was packed. normally, i’d have turned my happy ass around as soon as i saw there were no parking spots. but i have a cat with a mouth issue and i’ve let it go long enough that guilt was getting to me. so i stayed. now. i don’t like these types of situations. because inevitably people you don’t know strike up a conversation. usually about your pet. or their pet. i don’t want to really talk to you.

but you know. people do. and mostly i just people watch. and its fucking fascinating. people are weird. thats it. people. are freaking strange. ESPECIALLY PET PEOPLE. there were old people and young people. and old dogs and young dogs and more than one bird and cats and then this couple walked in with these two giant labs at 10:30 and at this point we are sitting on a two hour wait (yes, a two hour wait) and they were perfectly happy to talk to the woman at the counter for 15 minutes about their dogs issues with anxiety and all i could think was “if i had to live with those two i’d have anxiety too”. and the woman was wearing shorts and a bikini top and some sort of net over the whole ensemble. and while i’m not about body shaming, she needed to be wearing more than a net to the vets. that just good manners. so after my two hour wait is up i get to see the vet. and my mean ass, old cat, after i drag him out of the crate, goes ape shit bananas. and the vet after dodging being bitten, and scratched, tells me i’m going to need to bring him back so he can be sedated while they examine him. which will of course need to be done another day since at this point they close shortly. which is fine. i get it, and then she says “we can settle your bill when you bring him back in”. which i think was just one of those awkward things she didnt mean to say because my response was “the bill for my two hour wait and :60 wrestling match with my cat while you watched?” and i laughed in a way that let her know i was almost totally kidding.

so then i head to work for awhile and do work type stuff and while I’m there it pours down rain like holy hell and then i leave and the sun comes out and its time to figure out the rest of my day.

so since i have all this stuff i need to do, i come home and play Yoshi. Yoshi is a Nintendo 64 game. Back after Steve and I split, i would sit on the floor of our bedroom, before i lost the house, and play Yoshi for hours. HOURS. Eventually i beat the whole game. I fucking LOVED that video game. I’m not a video game person. During that time I beat that. And i got halfway decent at mario kart and Super Mario Brothers. I have a total nostalgic feeling about those games. that was the time frame of embarking on my new life. my scary as fuck new single mom life. and sometimes playing video games was the only thing i could focus on without losing my brains. the other day i asked chase to hook it up for me downstairs. and he did. i kind of suck. no, i really suck. its going to take me awhile to get those skills back. but it’s good mindless distraction. it did the trick for awhile today. till life found other ways to torment me and it was time to move on to the rest of my day.

uncle carl: to make a long story short (because all of this story is long enough anyway), my aunt carrie and my uncle carl lived in NY as i was growing up. when i was 10 my parents put me on a plane and sent me to Schenectady where they lived. I spent a week at a cabin in the mountains with them. we hiked and ate good meals. carl and i would go wild flower hunting, and i had a little notebook that i wrote down all the varieties we would find. we would take off early in the mornings, he would fix me up a quick breakfast and we would hop in the pick up and go “boon docking”. i had no clue what that meant, but i guess since we were out in the boondocks it made sense. we’d explore old roads. park the truck and hike trails. find streams. and basically let aunt carrie sleep in and sleep off the nights drinks. a woman after my own heart, aunt carrie liked to drink. it was a great week. then we spent a week at their house and i don’t recall that as clearly. i stayed in touch with aunt carrie over the years via mail. and later via email. I visited a few times as an adult. but not nearly as often as i should have, or would have liked to. life. it gets in the way some times. carrie passed a few years ago. last year after Casey died, I took a trip to Florida with the parentals and uncle carl. it was a multi-purpose trip but part of it was the celebration of Carls 80th birthday. Carls gotten kinda slow. He talks slow. He walks slow. But my favorite moment from that trip was after the owner of a fish camp not so subtly hit on me, as we got back in the car uncle carl being the first to speak said “well heather, that was fast work!”. He might be slow but his humor is still sharp as a tack.

recently Carl has moved into one of those assisted living places, not 5 minutes from my house. and they let him bring his 75lb dog. and he needs a little help right now. so in the evenings i go over and let the dog out and spend 1/2 hour to an hour visiting with carl. in the few days this has been going on, there have been so many little moments that have stuck out and struck me in little ways. last night as i was walking up there were 4 people on the porch outside. the older gentleman says to me “i really like your car”. and the 3 older ladies sitting next to him said “we really like it too!” to which i replied “well thank you. i like it a lot, its fast and fun to drive” and the one woman said “i bet it is! enjoy that!” and i got choked up again. because something so simple as being able to drive hell bent for leather in my car, or just to the grocery, is something that i bet all 4 of them miss. and two thoughts hit me. one: i’ll never be able to afford for someone to stick me in one of those places. and two: i doubt I’ll live that long. but not a half hour later as i was talking to uncle carl he said this to me “this place isn’t so bad. i think i’m probably going to be here until i die. but you know what? i’ll take being here a little longer.” and maybe the lesson there is: fucking enjoy what you’ve got going on. the alternative might suck worse. so tonight i brought him Dairy Queen and my boys went with me and it was a solid reminder to all three of us: that life might not always be what you want, but it beats the alternative.

so before we walked out the door to visit Carl, jade being the klutzy spazz ass dog she is, pulled that Nintendo 64 off the credenza and it hit the floor. and a corner broke. and when we turned it on it didnt work. and three tired cranky people got snappy about it. especially the part where the cord landed in the cereal bowl because my god harrison can eat a shitload of cereal and never takes his GD bowl to the kitchen and its driving me up a tree. but anyway. here is the deal. we have had that stupid console for a long time. and smiths, they get attached to stuff. and i think all of our instantaneous response was “oh nooooooo” and a lot of sad. but we were on our way out so it all translated to some snarky comments about being more careful and blah blah blah.

so as we are standing outside letting the dog run around at the assisted living place, i notice chase under his breath talking to his brother. and i know what this is. this is chase, being sad about the console, and being mad and saying something shitastic to his bro. and i’m right.  and this opens up a conversation about feelings. and anger. and how usually when you react in anger, you can trace it to another emotion. disappointment. fear. sadness. hurt. betrayal.  and i thought about how all of those feelings affect me. and how it affects my reactions. and how often i revert to anger. because anger, is safe.  its a defense mechanism. hurt me. and i will hurt you. i have worked hard over the years to recognize it. but i still do it. i can manage it. but its still an instinct. hurt me. betray me. disappoint me. = anger. so i’m having this conversation about emotional intelligence with my boys standing in the twilight at the assisted care center and they got it. and we got dairy queen and took some to uncle carl and then we drove home and we talked some more and we came home and we all cried a little, and we hugged it out. and then we tested the Nintendo 64 again and sweet baby jesus it works.

lastly. i’ve been on this kick, to get rid of things. the sheer number of things i have in this house that i don’t need to hold on to is astounding. i’ve been purging. but like, i have a piece of a 7up cup doug louden threw at Peltz dance hall in the summer of 1984 before i realized he liked my best friend more than he liked me. .. i have a piece of tile from the mcdonalds on Rudisill from the night the girls and i took the Griswold mobile out to go TP-ing and i drunkenly ripped the toilet paper dispenser off the wall trying to get to the toilet paper. (yes, two counts vandalism one count under age drinking . .pretty sure the statute of limitations passed 20 years ago). i have enough kid clothes in the “to save” boxes to clothe a village. i have casey and bears t-ball shirts even tho not a single blood relative of theirs cares about that type of thing. and i’ve been trying to decide, when its time to let go of some things. i threw out my coaster collection. i decided NOT to make the ex-boyfriend tshirt quilt even tho the idea of it is really funny. “what better to warm yourself with on a cold valentines night, but the ex-boyfriend T-shirt quilt!”. Seriously someone should do that, you’d make a killing . . .

and i wrap my day thinking about all of this. the connectivity of thoughts. the sweet little girls excited about the post person. my own connectivity provided by post to my aunt and uncle as a child. the weirdness of strangers and their responses to their own stimuli. evaluating my emotions and finding the root of them. watching my children explore how they deal with the stimuli the world provides, what they let in, what they shy from and how they deal with their emotions to all of those things. and at the end of the day, how do we hold on to our memories. are they talismans, pictures, souvenirs. or are they the ways they imprint our psyche and our heart. at the end of the day, at the end of the very last day, what is it, that we truly take with us? its not a piece of a cup.

maybe. don’t have a great night.

so. there has been a whole lot of talk this week, in light of the Elliot Rodger shooting. in fact, there has been a lot of conversation floating around lately about a lot of things. feminism. rape culture. self entitled (white) males. gun violence. the violent culture of america. gun rights. mental illness . . .it goes on and on and a lot of it is interwoven. i get completely overwhelmed at times, trying to wrap my brain around our culture. and trying to boil down my thoughts on the issues into a blog post that makes sense, seems a like kind of a big task. but i’m going to do my best..

entitlement. this gets bantered around a lot. so, from the gist of what I’ve read, this guy was pissed off about not being able to date the women he felt entitled to date.(insert disclaimer about the other 800 things that complicate this story…)  and there were various articles talking about our entertainment and how we portray the nerd. the fat guy. the this, the that… getting the hot girl. well yeah. we do. how many sitcoms are based on this? currently its the nerd thing. the nerdy guy gets the hot girl. 10 years ago it was the fat guy. it was a weird sitcom precedence, but i didnt see a surge in fat guys shooting up college campuses when they didnt get the head cheerleader. so you know. maybe this all didnt happen because of seth rogan . . .

(just bear with me, this is gonna get rambly)

there has been a shit storm lately of “feminist” talk. in particular a few celebrities have been singled out for saying shit that wasn’t considered “feminist” enough, even tho they are women. and this kind of pisses me off. i remember when i decided i was going to stay home and raise my babies. and there was a part of me, as a child raised in the ’70’s, that felt like a failed feminist. why do we have to define our independence? why do we have to put such a stringent focus on feminism. you know what? when i’m in a relationship, i like someone who can take the lead. that doesnt mean i don’t have free will, or equal say. sometimes i just like a man to be a man and man the fuck up and take the lead. I can still say no. I can still offer an alternative. and i can still run a chain saw and fix the sink. why does this have to make me a shitty feminist? but according to the internets, it does. i don’t care. i believe in women. i support them and i fight for them. and sometimes tell me where we are going for damn dinner. i like a strong partner. if i was a lesbian would that make me less of a feminist, or more of one? god i get confused. 

rape culture. this is where things start to get funky for me. i’ve really been thinking about this a lot. and tonight i had two experiences that were  . . well…. contrasts comes to mind.

the first was in the tool isle at walmart. you know that last isle before automotive and after paint where you never really run into anyone because who buys power tools at walmart? i was looking for shop vac filters but thats another story. i’m in the isle and i’m in my own little world and this  . . i have to say kid because he couldn’t have been more than 25, approaches me. and let me state, i do think there was somethign “off” about him. His speech was such that he was either a) mentally off or b) high as fuck. either way he approached me by getting directly into my personal space and stared with a heyyyyyy, how are yoouuuu doin’ . . . .? and here is where i always surprise myself, because i am insanely polite to people who invade my personal space and make me uncomfortable. i don’t understand it, and i’ll get into that a bit more in a minute. so he says “so, do you have a boyfriend?”,then he puts his hand on my hip and mumbles something unintelligible. and in my head i’m thinking “really? ” but this type of thing happens. and not every 10 years or something. people approach you, people hit on you and people touch you without asking. yes, usually its people who are drunk. or high. or “off”. but it happens and it doesnt surprise me as often as it maybe should. but so much talk has been going on lately, and i was hyper aware, and also a little . . nervous standing in this isle with literally no one around and i grabbed his hand and removed it from my person and said very directly “I’m here shopping for my kids, and i’m leaving now” and then because there is something inherently wired in me to be polite, I told him to have a good night. and off i went. What made this really interesting to me, was not 10 minutes prior i was chatting with the owner of a bad ass Camero in the parking lot about his super cherry 67 he had just picked up, and he asked me the same question. but from a distance of 3 feet. .like a normal person. and i didnt feel the need to be overly polite. i was regular polite. which leads me to another story.

a few years ago i was out with my work peeps in Chicago at our favorite little dive bar and there was a very drunk patron there, and he kept wanting to talk to me. and when i would head to the restroom he would stop me and make me talk to him. and for like 20 minutes ( or 100 hours as it felt like) he tried to convince me i should go out with him. and on a good day there is no fucking way. and the whole time i’m thinking, why am i talking to this guy? he’s grabbing my hands and touching me and i’m not leaving. i’m trying to talk to him rationally and be polite and I’m getting more and more frustrated and later i’m like “self, why didnt you just WALK THE FUCK AWAY?” because that would be mean. and rude. and there have been enough times in my life that i’ve had men berate me for not giving them the attention they felt they deserved when they approached me. or asked me out.  how many times have you, female friends, been called a cunt, or a frigid bitch or some other lovely sentiment by a man you tired to blow off in a bar? so you smile and placate and try to be nice. because somehow, if you ask me out, i’m supposed to jump for joy. expect, today in the parking lot when i was approached with “i’d love to take you out in it sometime, do you have a boyfriend?” and i said “i sure do, but i appreciate the offer” (hey, i can lie . .) it was met with a normal response of “great, glad you liked the car, it was nice to meet you” and we went on our way like normal people. but every time i think about that night in chicago, i’m super pissed off again. and we all joked about it, but what i wanted to do was grab that guy by the throat and get in his face and say “LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE”. actually. maybe that will be my new approach. i’ll work on that . . .. 

this is the conversation. every woman i know has multiple stories. and i would bet that there are some men i know who also have stories. and i don’t know if these are “rape culture” issues. or just fucking life as humans. there are so many good men i know, good solid respectful men to treat women well and nurture them and love them. and maybe. maybe we need to start talking about those stories. maybe our culture is much less damaged than we are talking about. yes, we do need to talk about these issues. i WAS more assertive with the young man in the tool isle. more than i typically am in that situation. because its being talked about and i’ve been thinking about a lot of things that have happened in my life,  but maybe we need to find some balance to the stories. to remember, that while these things happen far too often. good is happening too.

but.

i started this little post off talking about Elliot Rodgers. and the most frightening thing of all is this: this type of violence, is so commonplace, and happens often enough. that i had to google it, to get his name. because despite the MULTITUDES of stories talking about it, i had already forgotten his name. and THAT. is the most frightening thing of all. 

this blog is as scattered and jumbled as my thoughts are on the whole tangled string mess of issues. the only take away, that i have personally, is its on my mind. i’m thinking about it, and i’m examining MY responses to these situations. because as long as i placate and submit and wish someone a great night who has just so very clearly crossed a line, I’m part of the problem. maybe thats where i can start.