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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

~Keep This On The Low Down~

It has been a couple weeks since I have posted here, but that is because I got another job that I have been working on.

That's right! TWO writing jobs! This means I AM a Freelance writer, and--now here is the cool thing--I am currently making enough cashola to support my family. This doesn't mean that I am planning to get a divorce so I can start my new financially independent life. I like my husband, he's hot. I am going to keep him, but there is something so right about knowing that I could support our family. He could take weeks at a time off. This is the first time in the history of our relationship that he is not shouldering the entire burden of our bills.

(He is also going to be a little pissed if he finds out I posted this picture on the net...So don't tell him.)

I am pretty pleased with my current life, my office is fantastic, and two days ago I got a check AND a t-shirt AND a thank-you card from my second writing job.

I am finding it rather easy to be me right now. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to have a writing job so that I could make my own hours, do what I enjoy doing and make a living. And right now? It's happening. I AM living the dream, and I am finding it a lot cooler than I thought it would be. (And did you notice I used the proper form of then/than right there? huh? Didja?)

In the Fall I will be going back to school full time, but I may decrease my hours in the Spring. I would like to think that I can pay for college myself, and I won't need the loans. Because I am going to college to become a writer--and right now I am a paid writer--I no longer see the need to hurry up about it. I waited til I was 35 to go back to school, and if I don't graduate until I am 40, who cares?

For the last few weeks I have been obscenely happy. I have been the kind of happy that starts to get on people's nerves. You know how it is, the girls come over to talk about their problems and they want to commiserate. It is a little offensive to be at a bitch fest with someone who doesn't have anything to bitch about. But I am willing to be the annoyingly happy person at a bitch fest. I see it as my personal mission to be that person.

So, I am doing a little celebrating. I know my happy days won't last forever, they never do--but until they come to an end, I will be enjoying my cozy little life.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

~Whiskers and Tears~

While at Walmart Monday, I bought Grease for my sister. I knew what I was doing; I have been subjected to hours of Grease in the past. I bought it because my sister thinks I am so nice to her, and therefore I can't complain that it is has been playing in my house since Monday at 1:00pm.

Maybe it is because I am trying to quit smoking, or maybe it is because I need chocolate. But. I feel like bawling.

Melinda* has been a problem in the past. She has screamed so loud that my mother, in a different state, has heard the howls. She has thrown herself on the floor and kicked. There was an incident where I tried to pick her twenty year old body up so that I could carry her to a bedroom and shut the door. I got 'er done, but it took every ounce of anger and strength I had in my body. When I put her in the room I shut the door, and held the handle. When she discovered she couldn't get out, she set on the floor and kicked the door repeatedly while she screamed so long and so loud that she lost her voice. While she raged on one side of the door, I set on the other side with my head in my hands so that I could sob.

I made her go to the bedroom because I had told her that screaming was unacceptabletable at my house, "Debbie has babies, and you can't scream around babies."Because the end of the story is her on one side of the door howling and me on the other sobbing, you can see that she didn't stop screaming.

She needs to know the boundaries, and I did enforce the no screaming rule, but I still feel like a shit hill for muscling a handicapped girl.

She has been with me since Sunday and the biggest problem that she and I have had is that I can't forget that she is here. I have be aware of where she is, and what she is doing. A minor inconvenience can turn into a major blow-out in a matter of seconds. And oh! There are the seizures.

Yesterday, it was time to give my sister a bath. It is somewhat of a process, because it is hard for her to lower her naked self into the bathtub. Her left side is stiff, and it appears that she has to think about what she wants her body to do for a very long time before her body starts to respond to her wishes. She whispers, "dammit. Dammit. Dammit." The whole time she is trying to lower herself into the water, and I just assume she is doing so because she wants to get into the water and past the awkward, "I am naked and my sister is holding on to me" feeling.

Well, at least I know that I feel awkward holding onto a twenty six year old naked woman. Mindy is very modest, and has always been so. She knows that no one should ever see her naked, and yet her condition requires that someone monitor her in the bathtub. If she had a seizure while bathing and no one was there, it would create a world of grief and regret for the female member of my family who was supposed to be vigilant at the time.

I shaved her legs and was shocked at how much hair had grown. I was also amazed out how heavy each of her legs was. She can't hold her left leg up without support, and that hummer weighs at least thirty pounds of stiff muscles that simply want to curl back into themselves. I was afraid I would nick her with the razor.

My sister is never going to live the 'American dream'. She won't get married and plant a picket fence and a crop of children. Her life will forever be stagnant.

Knowing all of this: how can I complain about 72 hours (straight. No breaks. Even in the midnight hours.) of Grease?

And that is why I think I could bawl, but before I do that I am going to take a bath and shave my own legs and relish how lucky I am that I can do that for myself.

* Melinda has cerebral palsy, this affects the left side of her body. She also has some mental retardation. And Epilepsy.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

~Where Are Your Manners?~

My mother is gone to the cabin with her best friend and their four wheelers. They have an arsenal between them that includes a bee-bee gun (my mother shoots birds. Yes, that's right. Grandma is packing heat and birds are falling--dead--from the sky.) a pistol and a shot-gun. I am shocked that my mother is doing any of those things, pre-menopause she was agoraphobic and exceedingly gentle. She fed the birds and the squirrels.

Because she is on some kind of road rippin' killin' mission, I have my sister Melinda. Yesterday I took her to Walmart and we got a new movie. Grease. I believe I prefer, "baby, oh sweet baby" to "you are the one that I want." I was around the house a lot during Mindy's previous Grease era, and I clapped when the vhs tape unspooled inside the VCR. Now it's here in my house, playing all day long, every day. In between the music I can hear my sister clap her hands and scream, "I love it! I LUH-UVE it!!" Ya know, that makes it alright. But what makes it even better is that my sister--the one who used to have seizure when she came to my house--now says to me, "I love you Debbie, you so nice to me."

When we went to Walmart our first stop was the McDonald's food court. We set down with our meal, and I noticed that my daughter was scanning the crowd, and then she would glance at Mindy. Mindy has an over bite, so she rips her food more than she bites it. Because she really has to cram the food into her mouth to get a good bite, and because she has to turn her head to pull of a chunk, she ends up with quite a bit of condiment on her face. And her shirt. She is fastidious about cleaning the ketchup. She holds a napkin in her left hand, the one that looks like a chicken claw. Sometimes she uses that hand to dab at her face, and when she does she announces it; "Debbie! Look! Look what I can do with my my my hand, jew see dat?"

It is a pretty amazing thing for her, a moment of triumph. That hand has only recently been released from a life time of casts and braces. Now that she is twenty six and she is no longer growing, she gets botox injections so that her hand relaxes. It is rather limp, and she often picks it up and kisses it while apologizing to it.

I am her sister, so I remember trying to push her stiff hand into her brace, and I remember how she would cry when her thumb was stretched to fit, and how long it took to straighten out her wrist enough to lay straight so it could be buckled into hard plastic. I remember when the cushioning was added because the plastic was giving her blisters all around her thumb, and the buckles across her wrist and arm left tiny lesions.

So, the fact that my sister can use her chicken claw hand to wipe her chin is pretty amazing.

Yesterday, when I was cheering my sister on and telling her how cool it was that she could raise her arm and wipe her chin, I forgot that we are freak show, and every one likes to start at a freak show. The thing is, Mindy is twenty six and I stopped being embaressed of her when I was in my twenties. If she notices people staring, she assumes it is because she is pretty--so it doesn't bother her at all. The adult population has gotten very good at staring at my sister, but avoiding my eyes. I don't see the stops in the aisle way behind us, I am not watching the guy leaning towards the glass to get a better look. I am not paying attention to the sideways glances--because I am paying attention to my sister and making sure she doesn't tip over or choke.

Kate is affected by the stares and the pointing. Throughout the entire trip Kate kept nudging me and saying, "mom, that guy is looking at us." and "Mom, did you see that lady pointing?" "Mom, I think that kid is laughing at you."

It wasn't so much what she said that made me realize that she was reaching a mile stone of maturity; it was the way she began to look at my sister. Melinda has always been a great source of toys for all her nephews and nieces--and she has every new movie that comes out. My kids spend a lot of time buttering her up so they can take her trucks and dolls. Perhaps Kate always looked at her with the cunning of a child who knows she is smarter so she can get what she wants from her aunt.

Yesterday I saw the look change from cunning, to one of understanding. Kaitlyn is of an age to know that being stared at is bad. She began to look at my sister as though she felt sorry for her. And maybe pity is a bad thing--but in this case the pity created a situation where my daughter voluntarily held her aunt's arm. Mindy walks better with someone's hand on her, and yesterday my daughter took the responsiblity.

I am impressed with the maturity that it takes for an eleven year old to put herself under the scrutiny of the public that is not yet mature enough to understand that staring is rude.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

~Spiderwebs of Friendships~

She moved into the house across the street when I was in the sixth grade. She was from California, and her grandmother was from New Jersey. Her grandmother mailed her most excellent stuff, like candy buttons and custom made swimsuits. She was in the 8th grade, she had a corner of her bedroom that was filled with candy, she also owned Monopoly, Risk and Life, and she had information that sixth graders weren't allowed to know.

I don't think she liked me very much at first because I was so much younger and clearly so much less mature, but she let me come into her room and she would play games with me and I got to browse at will through the candy corner. When I was in the 7th grade, I was old enough to ride around the block on my bicycle all by myself, and she and I discovered an old abandoned house nestled in the trees behind the canal. The windows were gone, the shingles were peeling and the outside was wood bleached the color of steel. There were remnants of white paint around the door frames, and the decorative shingles around the dormer windows had flecks of green, and gray and blue.

When we discovered the house, it was a lady sitting behind some trees, and all that she wanted was privacy. We walked her halls, and looked in her bedrooms and creeped up stairs. We claimed a room facing North towards the river. It had a steepled ceiling and hardwood floors. There was one glassless window, and giant trees rustling their leaves through the gap. We brought a broom, and we swept the floor and we set in the dappled sunlight and made plans for our future: we were going to be killer whale trainers. After a couple years of the fame of being Shamu's trainers, we would come back home and buy this house and fix it up.

When I was in the 9th grade, she discovered Madonna. She made me copies of her tapes and I would play them until my brother would steal them, put fire crackers in the holes and throw them into the air. She bought a material girl jacket and hundreds of black rubber bracelet's. Her mom let her have a perm--because she was a Junior--and she rocked the eighties hair like no other girl in our neighborhood. She got a car, and sometimes me mother would let me ride in it. I was with her when I watched my first scary movie, when I puffed on my first smoke and the night I got pantsed. I think I stopped trusting her when she stood by laughing while I tried to keep the boys from pulling off my pants.

When I was a Sophomore, she let me share her locker in senior hall. She was the aid for my Spanish teacher, and she would give me better grades on the tests, and slip me pesos. We took the photography glass together, and once when we had a substitute we locked a boy in the dark room. With the lights off. And then we went to lunch. (The boy used his pocket knife to dig through the door, the substitute heard the noise and came to set him free.) We had our first fight over who our friends were going to be, and she kicked me out of her locker. She shunned me for the rest of the school year, and I remember the sting of watching her fluffy permed head walk away from me in the hallway.

I remember the sting of those days, because yesterday I saw her again. When she called my name and I turned to see that it was her, she wrapped her arms around my neck and she hugged past the point of comfort, and then she hugged me until I understood that she was hugging me.

She had a broken foot in a cast, and I doubt she weighs more than ninety pounds. Her hair was a caricature of the fluffy fawn brown that it used to be, it looked as thought it had been oiled. Her skin had the translucent glow of an old folks home, and she had cavities. To mention that she had cavities breaks my heart. Life grabbed a hold of her, and it shook her around. Her personal history is a line of heart breaks that she smiles through, and self medicates through. I have seen her a few times over the years. We have sparked up the old friendship. But neither of us are bright eyed little girls anymore; after we talk about the 'raccoon club' shirts that we made on her sewing machine (at 11 and 14) , we hit an uncomfortable silence.

When she was a girl, she had solid ideals, but as an adult woman she has shattered every one of them.

And oh, so have I.

Yesterday, after I saw her at the beer fest and hugged her for three minutes, than spoke for a few minutes--I walked away from her. I shunned her. When I waved then turned my back to her, I could hear her and her broken foot following me. I didn't pause, or wait, or stop and acknowledge that I knew she was following me. What I thought was, "Oh, I don't want to hear about sad stuff today...I just want to have fun..." I didn't say, "Call me some time!" or "Lets get together!" or any of those things that we are supposed to do.

Today I am ashamed of myself because I am not the girl I promised I would be the day I pricked my finger and pressed it to her bleeding finger.

Friday, June 02, 2006

~Dear Young Handsome Cousin~

When I switched to clubmom, I gave away all of the stuff that was the outtabodymommy. I gave a link to this site, but I didn't do it through proper channels and the link is already buried behind a week of posts.

That kind of thrills me, because that means that this site belongs to me, and I can write whatever I want to write; like I did before my mother and all of my relatives caught my link. (If you are my mother or my relative--ha ha! I jest. I was always honest!) I am about to write an open letter to my handsome young cousin, and I am doing it here because--what the hell. I can do whatever I want. I OWN this site.

Dear HYC,

When you were born, you were sent to an incubator because you were premature. I remember your mother bringing bags of milk to Grandma's fridge so that she could take them to the NICU. I remember the picture your dad brought home. Your hand was holding his thumb, and your tiny fingers couldn't wrap all the way around. Your eyelids were veiny like a baby bird, and there was a cap on your head.

I don't know exactly how old you were when I began to babysat you, bit I do recall lifting you out of your bassinet. I can see your tiny face red from screaming, and I vividly recall slipping a bottle between your wailing lips, and the way your right eye would wink while you sucked. I remember you as a tiny boy who wouldn't drink milk, but you would drink "moo-juice", water wasn't on your list of beverages, but 'sky water' could be slipped to you. I remember you as five with your bowl hair cut, and the way your bottom lip would quiver when your mother left. You never wanted me to hold you when you were sad, you preferred to pout in your room. I remember the day I took you for the ride in my TransAm--and I remember that you believed me when I pointed at the tachometer and declared, "We are going 120 miles an hour!"

Time passed, and while I wasn't looking, you grew into a man. And you got married. And you had a child, a baby girl that I held in my arms. When I slipped the bottle past her wailing lips, I was reminded of you. Did you know that your baby girl is the replica of you as a baby, except she has blonde hair and girl bits?

In the past few years I have begun to appreciate you as an adult. You helped us move--you grabbed an end of the freezer that was full of rotting mystery meat and you saved me the misery. There was the day that Martin was gone and I called you and asked you to fix my window--and you came right over and did that for me. When I was lonely, you came to my house and allowed me to feed you shake and bake chicken. You babysat my children so that I could go to school--and there was the winter that I was pregnant and you brought me wood for my fireplace. You babysat Kate so I could go bowling.

What I am trying to say here is that--dude. I love you. I have loved you since you were a tiny baby. I loved you before I put my eyes on your face. You were your daddy's son; your daddy has always been my rock. I changed your diapers, and I didn't mind. Because I loved you then. I love you now.


Tonight we were talking about a bachelor party and you declared that guys didn't care what the stripper looked like--as long as she wasn't old.

I said, "Like seventy?"
You said, "Ha ha! YEAH, like anything over thirty is to old for a stripper."

Blink. Blink.

Listen you little miscreant. I changed your diapers. You are hereby obligated to declare that old is AT LEAST ten years past my age; you might have to find out how old I am so that you can do the math. It's called 'respect for your elders' and I am part of the group of elders who doesn't think that being stripper is out of our league. You suggesting that women my age are past prime is rude. I didn't raise you like that.