Overcoming Bloglessness


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Out of the Closet

Liz and I were home alone on Thursday evenings while Dad and Donna played volleyball at the school.  For and hour and a half we had the house to ourselves.  We cranked up the stereo that we weren’t supposed to touch and tried to dance like go-go girls.  We pounded on the piano.  We ran down the stairs and took flying leaps onto the back of Dad’s swivel rocker, knocking it flat on its back.  I’d don Dad’s gorilla mask and scare Liz.  Every time.

One Thursday evening we played Hide and Seek. I hid in my bedroom closet and waited for Liz to come find me so I could scare her.  I waited, but she didn’t come. She must still be looking downstairs. I stayed put, determined to gorilla Liz.    

Waiting was boring.  There were pens in my closet which gave me the brilliant idea to write on the inside of my closet door.

It was a party in there.  The hippies in my closet penned groovy free love messages and the horny teenaged boys scrawled scandalous invitations. Timothy Leary was in there. All my many girlfriends were in there; lots of popular girls and party girls and we all wrote like we were high. We wrote knowing that no one would ever see it.

Liz had not come looking for me. She was not about to get gorilla-d. Again.

Flash forward about 30 years. 

I’m at work, looking over an application and see that the applicant lives in my childhood home.  I make the mistake of revealing that.

“Oh!  Are you the one who wrote inside the closet doors?”

Oh, the shame! I should’ve pretended I knew nothing about it, but he would’ve known, the way my jaw dropped. I could feel myself turning red.


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Snap Decisions

Daily Prompt Write about exploring different choices and finally arriving at “just right.”
via Hello, Goldilocks!.

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At ten years old I got to make my first life changing decision. Dad let me decide whether to live with him or leave with Mom. Faster than you can snap your fingers, I chose Dad. There was no thinking about it. I liked Dad best. Tammy was such a crybaby momma’s girl, she had to be with Mom. It was perfect.

On my first visit to Mom’s new place, I tried to understand her decision. She’d left our brand new, split-level, white house with turquoise shutters; her dream house in the suburbs, to live with her unemployed alcoholic boyfriend in a stinky, run down rental at the end of a rocky, mud-puddled, dead-end road.

I asked mom, on that first visit to her pitiful new life, “Would you come back, if Dad asked you to?”

“Oh, yes!,” she said without hesitation.

When Dad picked me up I told him right away, “Mom said she’d come back, if you asked her to.”

“Oh, she did, did she‽”

I could tell by his snort, he wasn’t going to ask.


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Mrs. Boozer’s Class

Something happened at school. Maybe somebody saw her take a swig off her bottle or maybe she came to school drunk. I wasn’t privy to the details, but Dad had had a long phone conversation with Donna’s friend and fellow teacher about something that happened at school. Soon after that, my stepmother went away for two weeks to some Serenity “retreat” at the coast. It was all very hush-hush.

When I found her vodka bottle in the linen closet, I poured out the booze, put water in its place and put the bottle back. It was devious fun, getting back at her a little bit. What’s she going to do; tell Dad?

When I found her Ripple stash I snuck it out to my own hiding place in the garage where, later, my friend Cheri and I smoked stolen Salems and tried to get drunk. We couldn’t even swallow the stuff without spewing. It was hard to understand how anybody could become an alcoholic.

After Serenity, Donna didn’t get better. She totaled the Buick. After the Buick, she wrecked the van; drove it drunk, into the gully where Oatfield curves. Donna was dead by the time Dad got to the hospital on the only vehicle left: her bicycle.

That was the saddest part, for me: imagining Dad on the ladies three-speed, out of breath, sick with worry, struggling to get up Mason hill, arriving too late.

I told Dad I was sorry I hadn’t been nicer. He assured me it wasn’t my fault. It was nobody’s fault.

We were doomed, she and I. How could it not go bad between a sulky, smart mouth, C average, teen-ager and an alcoholic, school teacher, stepmother?

It’s a shame. We looked like a perfect family in 1966, when they got married, before we learned about alcoholism.

Daily PromptTell us about a teacher who had a real impact on your life, either for the better or the worse. How is your life different today because of him or her?
via Teacher's Pet.


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Battle-Ax

Mom called the old woman across the street The Battle-ax.

“Why do you call her that?”, I asked.

“Because the old biddy just sits there all day, staring in our picture window. Nosy old Battle-ax.”

I didn’t think Mrs. Moore was staring in our picture window. What could she see anyway, through our venetian blinds and Priscilla curtains? She was probably just watching television or listening to the radio.

She was a frail old lady who sat in her chair because it wasn’t safe to work in the garden anymore; she might fall and break a hip. She sat in her chair, watching for her son’s car to pull into the driveway. He mowed the lawn once a week and took her to the doctor.

I felt sorry for Mrs. Moore, alone so much. Maybe she wished the nice children across the street could come over for a cookie.

I wasn’t allowed to cross the busy street by myself, but one day Mom got screaming mad and told me to go play in the street.

“Why don’t you go see if you can stop traffic,” she yelled.

“I will!”

I stormed out the front door, blubbering mad, and headed for the street. I stood in the middle of Holgate Boulevard, arms akimbo, waiting for oncoming traffic, glancing toward the house to see if Mom was coming to get me. She wasn’t. I could feel her, peeking at me through the venetian blinds.

Mom laughed every time she told the story; like it was so funny: me, standing in the street, so serious, trying to stop traffic.

“Next thing you know, I see a cement truck coming up the street,” she’d say, like she was scared to death.

Ross Island Sand and Gravel, coming up Holgate at 35 mph; it’s giant yellow and black striped abdomen spinning a load of wet cement.

Mom never mentioned the end of the story, where the old Battle-ax saves me; stepping into the street, waving her cane to alert the driver who slammed on the brakes, leaving long, black skid marks on Holgate Boulevard.

Mrs. Moore guided me back across the street, one hand on the back of my head. “What in heaven’s name are you doing?”

“Mom said to go stop traffic.” I wasn’t crying anymore. I felt weak and wobbly.

Mom was standing in the doorway by then. “Get in the house,” she snapped at me. Then she slammed the door in Mrs. Moore’s face.

And she didn’t even say Thank-you.

Writing 101, Day Twelve: (Virtual) Dark Clouds on the Horizon.


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Just Another Hairy Day

Daily Prompt  Just Another Day.   Our days our organized around numerous small actions we repeat over and over. What’s your favorite daily ritual?

My favorite daily ritual is pulling the hair out of my face with tweezers.  I’ve been told the hairs don’t show but they show up pretty damn good in bright light with bifocals and a magnifying mirror. You just aren’t looking close enough.

Grandma used to lie on the sofa by the big lamp with her small bedside lamp and a magnifying mirror propped up on her tummy, tweezing long hairs from her chin. She’d ask me to take a look and get the ones she missed. It didn’t hurt, she said.

Lip hairs hurt. They hurt your pride. They make you feel like your own grandma.  I know there’s stinky creams and lasers and waxing and whatnot, but there’s nothing like yanking the little bastards out, one by one, the old fashioned way. Yeah, I just love that.

Therapeutic Blues

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Scan0003

Daily Prompt: Singing the Blues.

We all feel down from time to time. How do you combat the blues? What’s one tip you can share with others that always helps to lift your spirits?

Therapeutic Blues

If you ever see me feeling blue
the most therapeutic thing you could do
is bring me a puppy or kitten or cat
or a horse or a goat or an owl or a rat
or a jay or a bluebird or raven or wren
or a crow or a cow or a donkey or toad
or a turtle or chicken
that’s crossing the road.

Okay, that’s enough.
What I’m trying to say
is that nature erases
the woes of the day.

……………..

The photo is me, trying to lure a cow to the fence. I spent a lot of time at the barbed-wire, arm outstretched with a fistful of grass. Cows seldom cared, but once in a while one would come see what I had to offer, slobber all over my hand and mosey away. Oh, what a thrill! It was worth the wait.
When we visited Great-aunt Cora’s place I waded through ankle deep muck in my good shoes to stand at the barbed-wire that separated me from Topaz, even though Topaz was a mean old horse that never would come to the fence unless he felt like biting somebody. Topaz just glared at me from afar and then I got scolded for messing up my shoes and socks.

I was touched when Grandma sent me this photo. It’s not a great picture, but that’s my inner child. That’s me, trying to coax the creatures closer. I still do that. It’s good for what ails me.


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Bad Mommy

Daily Prompt: Careless Whisper.

Tell us about a time you or someone you know said something that they immediately regretted.
Photographers, artists, poets: show us SHAME.
_________
Bad Mommy

I wished I hadn’t reacted that way. I regretted my anger, my harsh words and raised voice. Why did I react that way?
It wasn’t necessary or helpful to shame the child. You can’t expect a child to come to you with a problem if you respond like that. I wanted my kids to feel like they could tell me anything.

I blew it.

It dawned on me that I had acted like my mother. That was her parenting style: yelling and shaming. The goal was not to teach, but to make me cry, to hurt my feelings.
I didn’t want to be that kind of mom.

I went back into Dotter’s room and apologized for my angry reaction. I tried to be more mindful after that, to be a kinder, gentler mom; but how much damage had I already done?
I wished I had seen it sooner.