In the Beginning

rocker200…I don’t know what happened. I wasn’t there.

I wasn’t at my birth either, though I’ve heard the story and it’s quite humorous.

No, the consciousness that is me, wasn’t actually around until about the time of this picture. And yes, that IS me—I’ve always had those dark-ass gypsy eyes and fake smile.

Life, for me, began on a very specific night. I don’t remember much of anything that came before—only faded recollections of memories too far gone and long forgotten to be anything remotely clear. My existence before that night consists of running watercolor canvases filled with the blur of three dogs, the bars of my sister’s crib, and monster-sized blue bottle flies on a window sill. I vaguely recall the smell of a house whose interior I can’t picture, and the surroundings of a glass-topped fishing lure case I apparently danced on with my black patent-leather shoes. And I remember once remembering the chimes of a cuckoo-clock, which mom said was at a babysitter’s, but I don’t remember the sitter or her house, and only “just” recalled that she had a son I later went to school with.

No, me and the memories that make up me started one dark (though not stormy) night.

We had just moved into a new apartment. I don’t remember where we came from, or the act of moving in, I just remember that night, that place.

The apartment had those old ginormous cast-iron radiators. I was standing next to one taller than me, holding the teddy bear my grandfather gave me—which I still have, upstairs, on the dresser. I stared out the window at the moon. It was huge. Bigger than me, my family, our new apartment. Bigger than life as I knew it. Around me were smells I still remember clearly—and almost fainted at when I moved into a new apartment after my divorce and was hit with similar smells thirty years later. The apartment of my beginning had lots of woodwork. Old varnish, new polish, life absorbed by the grains and held tight in the knots—it had a smell.

And a sound. But the sound wasn’t the wood. It was my grandfather, on his hands and knees, pounding the nails down in each and every floorboard to make sure they were flush and wouldn’t hurt our tender little feet. Our. Because even though I don’t remember her that night, I know my sister was there. Probably sleeping in her crib.

That was the night my life started. With the sounds and smells of my mother making coffee in the kitchen wafting through the apartment and mingling with the smell of  wood and sound of grandpa hammering. And the moon. My moon. The gypsy’s moon that hangs in that sky every night and calls to me with its secrets and wise silence. The moon I’ve gone back to time and again.

I remember so many things, from big events to tiny details, from that day forward. That’s where I fell in the mud as a ghost for Halloween. That’s where I cracked my head open on the sidewalk thanks to Billy and Kong. That’s where the lilac tree lived across the street, Trina had a better tan, a mime lived downstairs, the Cottons across the yard, kindergarten started eventually, and grandma lived across the alley—where she made lovely green ice cream drinks for the adults but wouldn’t let the kids have any. It was where grandma made me sit on the Sears catalog because I was short, and then ran me to Sears for portraits when I fell down the stairs and got two black eyes, because that’s how we roll in my family. I remember a ton. Mostly good. Very little bad. My mom’s 8-tracks (sorry for shredding those), and an album with a fairy tale on the cover or a wolf or something that my mind turned into a fairy tale. I remember the claw-foot tub and being afraid to flush at night because I was convinced the monster that belonged to those feet would come up and eat me. I remember “the vice” (sorry Jen), and the awesome-tube, and hiding behind the couch when the wicked witch appeared on Wizard of Oz. Lasagna and mom’s friends. Climbing in the bathroom window because mom liked to forget her keys. Laying in bed listening to the sounds outside, and the voices inside. I remember…

But nothing concrete before it. Nothing solid before that moon and the sound of grandpa making my world safe.

Sometimes, feeling safe is more important that we realize. It can become the beginning as we know it. Sometimes, we take advantage of or get comfortable with the fact that we’re safe. And only realize it when we reach an end. Sometimes, the moon needs to wink and remind us to appreciate it, or seek it out, or spread it to others. Because even when the clouds cover the moon and the comfort of a teddy bear is outgrown, safety is still there, still whispered, in the quiet presence of memory, and everyone should have a beginning.


bear“Adding insult to injury…”
~Anonymous Idiom

Sometimes, random things happen. Sometimes, random twitches are shown in public. Sometimes, random things are said. And Sometimes, I steal them… for character flaws, story ideas, and yes, blog entries.

Kram had a friend over last weekend. Not one of our 70’s Show regulars, but a new boy. Nice kid. Talked weapons and ancient Japanese warfare with Hippie for a while and seems to get the house rules (I don’t care whose kid you are…my house, my rules, and I will beat you with a flipflop if necessary).

I’m not sure what conversation was going on in the house, or how it led to the following, but said child wandered out to the green couch, plopped down in a chair, and point-blank asked, “What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to your head?”

I raised an eyebrow.

“What’s the worst accident or injury you got on the head?”

Hmmm… Interesting question. And before I answered the question, I declared, “I’m stealing that for the blog!” So here it is. What is the worst injury you’ve ever received to the noggin? And to go with today’s chosen quote, how’d you get it? Was it your fault? Got scars? (Because scars are cooler than milk). Tell me a tale of pain and blood and bandages and stitches and whatever else you got…

Me? Ohhh I have two that come to mind. The first one I was 5 years old. Billy Stock, kiddy-corner from us, and I had just finished watching King Kong. He was Kong, I was Fay Wray. I was pretend screaming and walking backwards and he stumbled zombie-style toward me. And then I tripped. I fell straight back and bounced off a broken piece of sidewalk that was jutting up from the ground. I cried, yelled something at Billy about how it was all his fault, and started to walk back to the babysitters… because yes, traditionally as a kid, if I got injured it was while with a babysitter. Halfway there, about the second house in a very short trip four houses down, I pulled my hand away from my head and saw that my entire arm was covered in blood. Then it’s kind of a blur. There was a towel. There was the hospital floor (I think I was on one of those face-down tables). There was a lollipop from the bottom right drawer of the admin’s desk (because yes, by that point and well beyond it, I knew where the lollipops were stashed at the emergency room). I had stitches. I forgave Billy. I still have a love/hate relationship with King Kong.

The second was an even bigger blur. I was in my early teens. Tomboy. Playing street hockey with the guys, as goalie. I saw the puck coming. Then I was flat on my back with faces above me. That’s it. Nothing in between. I had a lovely dent on my forehead and my jaw hurt (I’m sure my teeth slammed together). I didn’t blame any of them. I still played hockey. No stitches required, though I probably had a concussion… I honestly don’t remember much more than oh-shit-puck-coming and then faces above me.

So? What did you do? How’d you do it? I’m betting mine are actually boring. Normal childhood injuries, well, except maybe the King Kong part. One with no evidence it ever happened, and the scar from the other is hidden underneath all this hair. But that’s what I’ve got. Now what’s yours?

None of this is real

Nightmare“It was a dark and stormy nightmare.”
~ Neil Gaiman, “Sandman”

I have this neat trick. I don’t lucid dream (oh but don’t I wish!), but I can wake up. The second I realize, or think, or say “none of this is real” or “this is a dream”, I ‘m instantly awake. Of course, I wish I hadn’t said that during the Johnny Depp dreams of 2007 but alas, I did. Which is only mentioned to point out that it works on good and bad dreams. Well, and because it’s Depp. It would be nice if I had more control. If I knew that saying that would wake me. I don’t. It sucks. But in a good way when it’s a nightmare.

I had four nightmares last night. Back to back. I kept realizing there was no way this was happening and waking up… and then going right back in. Now, mind you, not back to the same dream or same spot, though I’ve done that accidentally in the past. No, I mean that I went back into that negative world. The characters were the same. The outcome the same. But how we got there each time was different. It was like a special edition DVD with alternate middles instead of alternate endings. And each time, I got a little further into the horrible end before my brain put the brakes on and screamed “I don’t think so!”

So, since it’s Thursday, and this week’s been nothing but remnants of Monday masquerading as its siblings, let’s talk dreams—good, bad and ugly. What do you do? Can you wake yourself? Can you go back in and pick up where you left off? Can you control things going on, or people and places? What tricks does your nocturnal mind have that it’s not sharing with your conscious?

Entertain me… I could use it this week!

Die Fluffy, Die!

attack-squirrel-pictures-bazookaClients that make me pull out my hair. Cleaning supplies that mysterious burn me when they shouldn’t. Spiders the size of my head building great masterpieces in the garage in just a few hours. And it was the fluffy little squirrel that made today’s headline…

The truck at the shop, I’m working from home today and tomorrow. I generally do that from the porch or garage, so that I can chainsmoke while I code and wait for my eyes to bleed. I was enjoying the sound of birds and taste of coffee and coding like a beast this morning when Louie showed up. Louie? Yes, because all enemies deserve to be named and it’s a nice solid name.

Now you should know, Bob hates squirrels. When I say hate, I mean with the passion of a thousand burning suns and he has a strainer, bag of peanuts & bungee cords just waiting for the little bastards. It’s an old hate. It matches an old scar on his hand. On the other hand, I’ve always thought squirrels were cute. They’re bigger and bolder than equally adorable chipmunks. I’ve tossed them food and smiled as I watched them play. I had a whole family running around here last summer that offered more than a couple laughs and some concern regarding the one with the stripped tail.

That love died this morning.

I was coding away, all happy in the garage when I peripherally caught motion by the tree. I turned in time to see Louie, the possessed possibly demonic squirrel charging me. Charging? Yes, charging. Running at a full speed, right at me.

I shooed at him loudly. He kept coming.

I jumped up to scare him. He paused… and then started up again.

I flailed my arms around and hollered and looked like a freaking moron, thinking the entire time “Puff up! Puff up! They hate that!”

He. Kept. Coming.

He finally stopped just inside the garage, about two feet away from me. I looked for something to throw at him, briefly considering both the military ammo can on the picnic table and the skateboard. He crept forward.

“Are you kidding me?!” What happened to animals fearing humans? What happened to loud noises and motion scaring them off?

Louie was having no part of it. I yelled again. And he had the balls, tiny as they may appear, to rear up on his hind legs and put up his dukes.

“Oh no, you di’int!” And I grabbed the closest thing to me, threw it with the aim only an ex slingshot champion can claim, and may have yelled some made-up version of the martial arts battle cry.

Louie ran.

I stood there. Unsure of what had just happened. I was attacked by a squirrel for pete’s sake. A squirrel! I feed them and love them and laugh at them and what do I get? I get Louie the Possessed Nut Lover.

I walked over and picked up the shiny red bundle that I had thrown at the little bastard and promptly dropped to the ground in a fit of laughter. Yes, I was attacked. Yes, he scared the crap out of me.

But I took the evil squirrel out with a rubber-banded pack of Magic Cards. My son’s 1/1 Kithkin… victorious again!

Adult Logic

… can be such a killjoy!

Yes, I have an overly mouthy opinion ready to post for Monday’s madness, but first this interlude.

Lake pier at dusk.
Enter two parents, their 11-year-old son, and his 7-year-old cousin for some fishing adventure.
Add leeches and imagination, mix well.

Just as we were winding down the catch & release program of “No—too small and I’m not cleaning it,” the boys and I spotted something large on the darkening horizon.

“What is that?!”

“Oh my god, what IS that?”

It’s black, but so is most everything at that time of day.  It’s on the surface and has what looks like a tail, horns, and… something.  My (ex)husband continues to fish, ignoring us and the object, as the three of us stare at it and ponder.

“Giant Squid!”

“Cthulhu!” [I heart my son]

“Sea Monster!”

It gets closer, and closer.  “It’s flocking this way!”  [Yes, Jurassic Park quotes are popular in my house]

“What IS that?”

“How big do turtles get, Auntie Kelli?”

“Not that big.  Well, there was that movie I saw when I was little…”

“I’m telling you, it’s a monster.  Can’t you see the tentacles?”

“No really, what IS that?!”

The three of us are giggling and the story of what it is gets more and more “Sci-Fi Original” with each sentence.  Everything from an alien to a giant man-eating toad is guessed.  The boys start to slowly move away from it, as they continue giggling and guessing while nonchalantly sidestepping toward shore.  I walk out further, step onto the left T-section of the pier and squint.  I’m blind.  I have horrible twilight vision and this thing is huge.  My imagination is no better than theirs, but I’m slightly braver.  Meanwhile, the hubby is still ignoring the entire exchange from the right T-section as he puts another leech on his hook and tosses it to the murky depths.

“What IS that?!”

“It’s swimming against the current.”

“It’s getting closer!”

“Mom, come back here!”

Enter Mr. Killjoy.  He who can see a turkey at 500 yards and tell you if it’s missing a tail feather and what kind of predator’s teeth marks are on the remaining plumage. He’s decided to turn around and see what the heck we’re all excited about.

“It’s only a garbage bag.”

Three heads turn to him and three mouths fall open.  I don’t know about the boys, but my expression was far more “Butthead, why ruin our fun?” than it was “How the hell can you see that far in the dark?”

We waited for it to approach.  Sure enough, it’s a garbage bag.  The tied ends were horns, the still partially folded tip was a tail/tentacle, and the wind had given it just enough air to allow it both size and freedom of movement.  Mystery solved, leech supply drained, and daylight gone, so we head back—imaginations tucked safely away in our disappointed minds.

Adult logic can really suck the fun out of life sometimes.

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