So, you would think with the last 10 days off, I could have found time to blog, at least more than a clip from a movie. But first there was Christmas shopping (always last minute), then the actual event (very fun, but utterly exhausting), then the visiting with family from far and wide, then the "other" Christmas with the family that couldn't make it to the first Christmas, and finally, during and immediately following the second Christmas, THE STOMACH FLU.
On the other hand, all of this insanity gives me a lot to write about. I tried to choose: fun stories of family dysfunction or tales of projectile vomiting and explosive diarrhea (which, by the way, my two year old finds hysterically funny)? Extensive lists of food consumed or detailed descriptions of what it looks like on its way back up? So, I've decided to just write a jumbled mess, thus reproducing in the written word the very chaos I experienced. Stick with me; this could be rough.
The first item: a rant against Santa. Since when does the jolly red fellow bring more than one toy per child? He was nice enough to only bring one to our house, but apparently he visited my in laws and left such a load there that I had to INSIST that we leave 80% of it there (that'll teach him). In the last five days, I have watched my children devolve from relatively normal, albeit temperamental, little tikes into greedy, grabbing materialists of the worst variety. That's not to say I don't appreciate Santa's generosity, but on top of the wonderful gifts from family and friends, HE REALLY SHOULDN'T HAVE. I know I sound like a Grinch. Maybe I am. But seriously, people, you should see my house. And as everybody could predict (because it happens every year), they find the boxes much more entertaining than the gifts themselves.
But the visit with my side of the family was nice. New babies, new stories, new but familiar faces. Always welcome. Except the stomach flu they brought with them...
I seriously won't get into too many details except one. My four year old does not have any memories of throwing up and doesn't really know how to do it. He puked a trail of debbi dogs (I can give you the recipe later) that began on his Lightning McQueen sheets, across his (formerly) cream-colored rug, all over the wood floors leading into the bathroom and finally ended on the white bath mat but could not bring himself to do it in the toilet because he was afraid the toilet water would splash him in the face. Coming upon this scene out of a dead sleep, I, feverish and already nauseous, tried to aim his poor little head over the toilet but, in so doing, stepped in the slightly warm and noxious goo of the above-mentioned debbi dogs, which, in turn, led to my own (immediate and violent) upheaval, a perfectly aimed arc of beer and Christmas cookies, overshooting the head of my little sick cherub, landing perfectly (and splashingly, much to his horror) in the pristine coolness of white ceramic toilet. I won't bore you with the other details -- the hosing off of bedding in the backyard, the endless night and following day. But here we stand, alive and stronger for it.
A special shout-out to Bev and her husband for going shopping for us -- the laundry detergent, popsicles, and 7-up were like manna from heaven. Thank you.
I watch Fargo every year on Christmas Eve. While this isn't my favorite scene, it is the most famous and the best one I could find on youtube. And what says "Christ is born" better than a human leg going through a woodchipper?
As I sit down to continue spinning my yarn about what happened in the aftermath of the La-Z-Boy discovery of 1981, it occurs to me that you, gentle reader, might be interested in hearing first of what happened to Dawn. I can assure you, it is much more interesting than my discovery of horse hatred and the Son of God.
I'm sure you thought it quite "fortunate" that Dawn and her siblings were sleeping in the Winnebago on the night of her father's demise, and you were right to do so. Apparently the detectives in Richland Center thought it was, too; it just took them two years to find the murder weapon.
In 1982, Dawn's mother was arrested and put on trial for stabbing her husband in his sleep. Dawn and her siblings moved in with their grandmother, who also lived in town, for the eight months it took to try and convict her. Of course there was shock, but the townspeople also fell victim to an epidemic of worldly-wise head nodding. Of course she did it; look at the way she spent his money. (or) Well, if she didn't do it herself, she sure as hell knew who did. My father belonged to the latter camp (and was also a head nodder). He had known Don; he worked at the service station in town. He was a 6'4", 200 pound former Marine with flaming red hair. Dawn's mom, on the other hand, was 4'10" tall, one inch short (well, tall) of being a dwarf. Even if she did it when the man was sound asleep, my father contended, he would have been able to defend himself.
In addition to the speculation generated by the trial, there were also new, gruesome details for the public to ponder. The murderer had written obscenities all over the white bedroom walls in Don's blood. My middle school art teacher had helped the family clean up the mess (a fact I only discovered in college). The murder weapon had been found in the family's above-ground septic tank.
Dawn, Tiff and I remained very close through all of this, and our protectiveness of Dawn, and by extension, her family, became almost rabid. Dawn said (and I think truly believed) her mother didn't do it, and that was enough for us. We were ardent supporters of Carol (besides, what 12 year old wants to believe that a mom could off a dad?). Tiff and I were questioned by detectives about a photo they had found in Dawn's house, a polaroid of Carol taken in a bowling alley, to which someone had applied a match and bubbled out her face. Although we could honestly answer that we had never seen it, it seems pretty logical that one of her children did it. How could they not resent her for valuing BINGO! over them?
At any rate, Carol was convicted on circumstantial evidence and was sentenced to 20 years to life. Dawn and her siblings were sent to live with their mother's sister and her three children in Hume, Missouri, and just like that, she was gone. Well, she had left town -- she was hardly gone. In a display of loyalty that I don't think I could recreate today, even as an adult, Tiff and Dawn and I did not fall out of touch with each other. We called weekly and Dawn came back every six months or so to see her mom. With a southern accent. With stories of her cousin, at first how cute he was, then how he had seduced her, then how he had abused her. She lived through some white trash shit that put our former collective experiences to shame. By her junior year in high school, the situation had become so dysfunctional, that Dawn returned permanently to live with her grandmother. Before she graduated, she saw to it that her siblings were brought back too. We remained close through high school, but then Tiff moved away, got pregnant, had a stillborn, got divorced and fell off the face of the planet for three years. I went to college, lost Jesus, and hated going back to my hometown. In my sophomore year of college, Dawn and her siblings were on The Oprah Winfrey Show, back when she was still doing sensationalistic "trash." I watched in disbelief as they talked to their mom via satellite. It was surreal. We spoke occassionally, but for the most part, it ended at our high school graduations.
Dawn is now the mother of five children, happily married to a hard-working family man. At least that's what I heard.
To launch the beginning of 16 days off in a row for me (and to end an unforgivable dry spell), I thought I would offer this image of holiday infant terror. My apologies to Eva -- the good news, they can't actually come out looking like this. To achieve this look, the bambino in question requires at least one sick parent who is good with face paint.
I was going to write an entry on how I became a born again Christian and how I unbornded myself, but I realized that in order to tell that story, I first needed to tell the story of my friend, Dawn.
During the summer of fourth grade, I remember waking up one morning and my father telling me that there had been a murder in town. This was MAJOR NEWS! in our little hill-locked burg and it was all anybody could talk about. A man had been stabbed to death in his sleep by two intruders who knocked his wife out when she woke up during the horrid act. Fortunately, their four children (ages 11 through 5) had been sleeping in the Winnebago parked in the driveway.
I don't know if it was out of morbid curiosity or a deep-seated desire to befriend people who shared the rarity of a dead parent with me, but I made it my first order of business to find out about these kids. How could I not know them? Through my best friend, Tiffany (yeah, bad name), I discovered that they went to Doudna Elementary School (while we went to Jefferson). She told me they all had red hair and the oldest was a girl, Dawn, who was 11, one year older than me. Tiff had been to Dawn's birthday party the previous year, and I remember thinking she was incredibly cool for having such intimate knowledge of this celebrity family. Trying to be nonchalant, about a month after the murder, I asked if we should invite Dawn over to my house. She set it up.
The first visit was incredibly awkward. First, Dawn's father was buried directly across the street from my house. She literally had to step on his grave to get out of the vehicle which delivered her to 481 E. 8th Street. And then there is the fact that pre-pubescent girls (always prone to drama and overweening emotion) really aren't very good at negotiating the nuances of first-time meetings. I think the first thing I said to her was, "I just wanted you to come over because I know how you feel." I don't remember her reaction but I'm sure she was uncomfortable. We did end up having fun: I had a six-foot deep freeze full of ice cream and we had HBO -- 'nuff said.
Dawn, Tiff and I became thick as thieves almost immediately. The best thing we had in common was very little parental oversight. And we made the most of it. Sleepovers were always at my house because my father worked nights a lot. Tiff's grandmother lived next door, so there was that to be aware of, but we pretty much did as we pleased. We taught each other how to smoke like movie stars and how to dance like Olivia Newton John. Dawn introduced us to the extra thick application of goey, clumpy jet-black mascara at which she had become an expert to cover her bright red lashes. We walked the cemetery at midnight just for the thrill of it, and, of course, stayed up all night talking about boys: Tiff loved Chad Albaugh, Dawn loved Mike Rizner, and I loved Kevin Knause. Good times.
Dawn's mom, finding herself in possession of $60,000 in insurance money (double indemnity is a wonderful thing!), promptly bought a large house on "our side" of town, which meant Dawn would now be attending Jefferson with Tiff and I. The other thing she did with her money was develop an addiction to BINGO. She would travel the state with her friends, her ink marker and her table toys, leaving her youngest children with Dawn, Tiff and I, now aged 12, 12 and 11 respectively. It was the best school year ever. Her mother would be gone for days at a time, leaving her new Chevy Chevette in the driveway. It was too tempting to resist. We would cram ourselves and two kids in the car, leave the next oldest home alone and go driving for hours. We also loved to repeatedly douse Dawn's Linda Ronstadt poster, proudly displayed on her bedroom door, in Aquanet hairspray and light it on fire. We watched Grease no fewer than 20 times on her mom's waterbed. The house was a nightmare. With 5 cats, one of whom was always pregnant and miscarrying on the children's beds and the endless piles of crap and junk food her mother purchased, the house was literally a cesspool. It smelled horrible. We didn't care.
And of course, there were boys. Not just Chad and Mike and Kevin, but also Kirk and Jared and Robby and Ralph and Gary and Mark. It sounds lurid, but we actually (and unbelievably)remained relatively innocent. Games of spin the bottle abounded but it never went beyond kissing.
And this is where my stories meet. One night, as three unsuspecting girls made out with three equally unsuspecting boys in three cat-hair-covered lazyboys, one very suspicious father made one very short trip to one very dark and quiet house. We scrambled like cockroaches when the front door opened, my father catching fleeing boys by their shirt collars and unceremoniously hurling them out the front door. Tiff and I were forced to return to my house, in complete shame and fear. Dawn remained at home with her siblings to await her mother's return.
The consequences were as follows: I couldn't go to Dawn's anymore, although she was still free to come to my house. Tiff was grounded for a month and also banned from the house of sin. My father never told Dawn's mom, probably figuring it would make very little difference to her. My final punishment was the worst: I was being sent to Montana to spend the summer working on my aunt's Morgan horse ranch. And that's where I found Jesus.
Pardon my long absence. Real life -- what a drag! I had posted this on my blog in November and then removed it as an apology when I thought I had offended someone. That was a silly thing to do. By the way, Bev's daughters introduced me to this, too-- thanks, girls! (But honestly, what are young girls doing watching this anyway?) Enjoy!
And to complete my trilogy, I had the interesting experience of having a new "reputation" at work. Apparently, I'm the workplace party girl. At least nobody said I did anything too wildly inappropriate, so I find comfort in that. I did see a group of guys talking who stopped as soon as I walked near them. They all turned, like a three-headed Cerberus, and leered in my general direction. Well, at least they have something fun to remember.
You'll be happy to read I've been dry since 4:00 Saturday afternoon. But I'm going out tonight -- for one beer. I promise!
I remember seeing this in the theater with Bev (I'm going to speak of her as if she's passed on until she submits a new post). This scene has it all -- pageantry, an evil bald villain stalking the young hero, crazy-cool music and a dance number! On the big screen, it took my breath away. I'm reading a book right now in which one of the characters is a Bollywood director and it made me think of this (for obvious reasons).
Cape Ann, Massachusetts -- A local woman reports a noticeable increase in men driving Chevy trucks waving in her general direction in the last two weeks. "I just can't believe this keeps happening," the woman stated in a private interview with Truepenny staffers. "It's like I'm a dude magnet." The woman, who has asked to remain unidentified, attributes the attention to her vehicle, a black 2008 Chevy Tahoe with a girl-devil decal on the back window.
In the last two weeks, the female driver reports two new additional "waving relationships" having been established on her drive to and from work, bringing the grand total to three. When asked how she felt about strange men waving at her, she replied, "You can't overthink these things. It's been fun and I'll enjoy it while it lasts." The two new "wavers" drive white and black Chevy Silverado's. "It helps me keep them straight!" she said.
If I could write only one thing this beautiful in my entire life, I could die a happy woman:
One Kashmiri morning in the early spring of 1915, my grandfather Aadam Aziz hit his nose against a frost-hardened tussock of earth while attempting to pray. Three drops of blood plopped out of his left nostril, hardened instantly in the brittle air and lay before his eyes on the prayer-mat, transformed into rubies. Lurching back until he knelt with his head once more upright, he found that the tears which had sprung into his eyes had solidified, too; and at that moment, as he brushed diamonds contemptuously from his lashes, he resolved never again to kiss the earth for any god or man. This decision, however, made a hole in him, a vacancy in a vital inner chamber, leaving him vulnerable to women and history. Unaware of this at first, despite his recently completed medical training, he stood up, rolled the prayer-mat into a thick cheroot, and holding it under his right arm surveyed the valley through clear, diamond-free eyes.