Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Page 93 How Can No One FEEL This?


This is an absolutely true story

As I may or may not say to the Lord on Judgment Day, "You ask a lot of questions for someone who has so much explaining to do." ~Robert Brault,




The day had turned dark and a lusty wind was pushing cars around on the slick hot tar roadways of Houston. It was the middle of the day, but cars were already piling up. I glanced in the windows of these vessels making their way to their appointed rounds.

A young man with his seat so far back I couldn’t understand how he was maneuvering the fairways, his hand tap tap tapping on the steering wheel.

Another car – a mother, or caretaker glancing in her rearview mirror seemingly singing as she watched the toddler in the back smearing god knows what on the window.

I watched a trucker, high above us all trying to make his way tentatively thru the mass and I wondered…I wondered how everything could be so ok to them.

What are they thinking? Where are they going? Don’t they know? Don’t they see? Something terrible has entered our lives; it rode in seemingly on a breeze and dug its claws into a bright star, threatening to create a nova that would swallow us up like a black hole.

And like that black hole, we had no idea what was on that event horizon and if any of us would ever be the same.

No one cared. The cars drove by, cigarettes being flicked out of windows, young people reclining so low in their cars you could only see their knuckles banging music without a care. Cell phones to ears, McMuffins to mouths, passengers reading papers. Don’t they know? The world had come to a halt for me and now all that was left was to be extinguished or fall into space. Nothing else seemed possible. I wondered about the dreamers. So safe in thought… The only reason people get lost in thought is because it's unfamiliar territory.

I had just left the hospital where Bootsie’s family met to offer support to her while she underwent invasive surgery to find out exactly what the issue was that made her so sick.

I had stopped to get something to eat, and then drop off a disc of drawings at A&E Reprographics. I was one of their best customers, so it was always personal with them. Pat Gremillion met me going up the stars to the cad department. He tried to engage me in conversation, but immediately recognized I was pre-occupied. He asked if there was anything he could do. I assured him, it was something outside his scope and finished my business and left. It had been 3 hours since I was at the hospital. I thought about calling, but didn’t get the chance.

My cellphone rang:

“Dianne, where are you, I have been trying to call."

Not unusual Willie did this daily from around 11am to 2pm. Not to worry, nothing up with her.

“I was at the hospital” I responded flatly!”

I didn’t have it in me to listen to her complain about her job and coworkers. All that crap seemed so inconsequential because…it is. She always relied on me to give a supportive ear. Well not today. They were all healthy and alive.

“At the hospital ...?” She didn’t sound too awfully concerned.

“Yes, I went to see Bootsie.” Before Willie could get a word in, “She wasn’t lying Willie, she is sick. I think she is very sick”

I explained about Bootsie’s family being there enmass and the operation she was going to undergo. Bootsie had an irregular colonoscopy. Possible colon cancer. Willie tried to impart any knowledge she had on the subject. But the mechanics of it all didn’t quite matter.

Willie wasn’t angry and promised to be home soon.

After I hung up from her, I called the hospital where Bootsie should be getting out of surgery. They forwarded the call directly to her room. She sounded very alert, and happy. Thank goodness. I could finally let out a breath.

“They cancelled my surgery.”

“What”

I was actually quite pleased, this sounded like good news. But alas it wasn’t.

They had postponed it for the following day. When I got home I didn’t much feel like working. I wanted to forget everything I just found out, but Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. I had been on a project that I could complete at home. I made my own hours. But Willie expected a lot from me. I was her wife and she expected me to act as such. She reveled in the fact that she could come home, her cloths washed, and the house clean and meals cooked. But I didn’t much feel like doing anything. I ordered Chinese.

When Willie got home I told her about the postponement. She decided to take the next day off and we would go to the hospital together. That was going to be quite an interesting endeavor.

Two of the cutest dykes in Houston, both lovers of mine, both haters of each other. And I was going to fix all of this.

I had to. It would only be with Willie’s blessing that I could continue being a part of Bootsie’s recovery. I actually felt as positive as a mother rabbit hoping that eagle is carrying her young out of harm’s way. Because I planned on being part of her recovery.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Page 92 The Dreaded "C" Word


This is an absolutely true story

" An illness is like a journey into a far country; it sifts all one's experience and removes it to a point so remote that it appears like a vision." Sholem Asch


"You aren’t going to believe who I heard from..."

Willie was on the other end at work. She worked the late afternoon; early evening shift and was due to return at around midnight. Which would be way past my bedtime to have serious discussions. She worked in the anesthesia department at The Methodist Hospital. She procured all the utensils and items need for the surgeon and anesthesiologists. She said she was a glorified maid. But she looked damn cute in her scrubs and lab jacket. I could hear packages being ripped open while, she went about her business stocking the doctor’s carts for surgery. I pictured her in her blue scrubs and surgical hat – phone cupped in her neck oblivious to the cares of the world as I was about to lay a bomb shell one her.

“Who babe?” Ahhh how carefree she sounded. And I was about to change all that.

“Bootsie” I heard the phone drop and a distant slew of cursing as the receiver knocked against disparate surfaces around the room”

Yikes, I re-thought, why didn’t I wait until she got home. Shit.

“What. Why…I’m coming home”

“Willie, no, that isn’t necessary. She’s not with me,” I continued “I just heard from her.”

“How” she asked.

I explained about the instant messaging when Bootsie was in Ixtapa. I then told her about Bootsie’s claim of a fatal illness. Thank goodness that confession was alarming enough for her to completely glass over how I got the news. I wanted to be honest with her and had she asked I would have been forced to tell. In retrospect it was a lie by omission and I will grant you that, but if you knew how volatile this woman was, you would understand my reluctance.

She agreed this was a ploy, but at the same time she understood, if it were true, she would be facing a situation where I might have to make a choice. And there was a chance I would feel morally drawn to go to Bootsie and help her through this darkness.

That wouldn’t happen and even though Willie was still in a state of skepticism about my loyalty in the wake of this disastrous news, she assured me that certain colon cancers, if caught early, are easily brought to remission. She also explained that if Bootsie were in the advanced stage, and she really felt there was little possibility of this, but if so, Bootsie would have a grueling road ahead of her. In my mind, I actually thought we could all do this together. Willie had a medical background that could at least be of some value with the psychobabble the doctors could potentially deliver. But I do not think there was a day where Bootsie and Willie even looked at each other. So me as lover to either, friend to both and diplomat to all, I felt maybe I could close the gap.

The days that followed Bootsie would come to our house during the day on Community drive in West University place, Houston, when Willie was working and follow me around the house like a pathetic puppy, purposefully dropping ashes from her cigarette and leaving little cat sprays all over the house. I would quickly follow up and sweep them away. And why did she continue to smoke if she were “sick”. She said she couldn’t use this time to stop as things were just too hard to deal with. Again I was skeptical. Bootsie would rumage through stuff grabbing little mementos.

" Can I have this?"

"Those would really look stupid on you" as I grabbed my silk panties from her hand.

"Which toothbrush is Willie's?"

I just guffawed at her, really, like I was going to tell her. She would probably close the bathroon door in an attempt to wash the toilet with it.

Then the day came where she wanted me to come to the hospital because she was going to be there for tests, skepticism turned to panic. I was floored. I DIDN’T TELL Willie. I didn’t want to deal with her irrational behavior as this was starting to look serious. I spent many hours looking up this disease, searching for answers, and again those damnable statistics. I thought of Bootsie as I have known her, every part of her was warm and fuzzy, like a teddy bear, a panda. She was an endearing sort, but she had the entire gay community of Houston bowled over by her stories. And she has them. She would tell one lover one story, another an entirely different one. She had different degrees and crazy scholarships. Jobs, girlfriends, family that were portrayed differently to everyone she met. At one time Willie and I went to eat at OnesAMeal and met three other lesbian couples. Each one of us knew an entirely different Bootsie. As fate would have it, she showed up. Hands in her pocket, button down white polo shirt, khaki's and penny loafers ...and that charming smile, walking in as if she owned the world. She spotted us at the table, but instead of coming over and greeting us, she turned and quickly beat feet to her car. We all laughed. You see only Bootsie could get away with that and no one would ever confront her. That would cause a rift and no one wanted to be at odds with her. Yes, she has that much power. She just was so damn cute! And sweet and full of shit. But eventually, I would bring it to her attention.

I made my decision. I was going to scope this out for myself and if push comes to shove, Willie will be involved. But no need to start a new row with them if it wasn’t necessary. I arrived at the hospital the next morning, luckily, it wasn’t Mel’s hospital. She was at M.D. Anderson, and that immediately provoked concern. M.D. Anderson is a cancer hospital and usually you are not slated for your medical needs until after all the tests were done and a doctor made a determination. As I walked the halls, I tried to keep my eyes forward and focused, but one could not ignore the pain and hopelessness on the faces. It was especially difficult because she was in a ward just past the teenagers. Looking at those children and thinking of my own was far too much. Wouldn't it be wonderful if no one ever had to worry about the random cruelty of fatal illness or the woes of old age attacking them or their loved ones? But I had to continue and be faced with it, or I would not be able to be there for Bootsie.

I finally found the waiting area on the floor where Bootsie was. It was filled with her folks. Grandmother, mother, sister - Diane, aunts, nieces. I saw this and realized I may have been mistaken in my skepticism. And then Bootsie came tearing down the hall in her grandmother’s scooter.

“This thing can do 20 mph easy” Bootsie smiled.

She jumped out of the seat and ran to me encasing my shoulders in her warm embrace.

Bootsie was not a small girl. She always had a weight problem, she was around 5’2 and weighed well over 200 pounds, but it really suited her. Part of her persona. And it certainly did not hinder her ability to meet and capture the “fem” crowd.

“You came! I didn’t think… Grandma, Grandpa, Ginger (as she called her mom), this is Dianne, you know the girl I told you.”

I was impressed. I had no idea I had been part of this extended family’s conversations. Diane of course looked at me a bit askew as we had our dealings in the past with Bootsie and her ability to transgress the truth. Bootsie sat down, and with all these witnesses, took my hands in hers and leaned forward in her seat which had changed from the scooter to those awful vinyl covered couches. You have seen them, from a distance they look like they are covered with fine upholstery, up front, they were actually vinyl. But it was a hospital, people throw up, and have other messes. It always causes me to inspect the creases and piping for possible hazmat issues.

“Dianne, they are going to operate on me in a couple of hours, please stay”

I told her the truth, that I hadn’t told Willie where I was and I really needed to go home. Of course, I thought this was just going to be a minor issue, the doctor would look at her colon on the screen (I was hoping Bootsie didn’t call the news offering the film for the 5:00 pm session, much like Katie Couric did. My mind wandered thinking of Bootsie’s colon in Times Square. She loved that kind of shit…excuse me, stuff.

I explained that I planned to tell Willie and that given the situation, and Willie, I believed we could handle this together. Concealing an illness is like keeping a beach ball under water. Bootsie’s contempt showed immediately, but she accepted this as an alternative to not seeing me at all.

I held back my tears. I couldn’t believe this bigger than life personality was going to be reduced to a statistic. My heart just sank. If this turned into something worse, I didn’t think I could handle it. I prayed I wouldn’t run. I prayed I wouldn’t destroy what I had with Willie out of compassion for Bootsie. If Bootsie had any idea of how I was thinking, she would have asked the doctor to cut her from stem to stern and leave the wound wide open for me to see. A person's illness is his or her private territory and, no matter how much she loves you and how close you are, you stay an outsider. You are healthy. In some ways this fit into Bootsies agenda in a strange way; One always has the idea of a stupid man as perfectly healthy and ordinary, and of illness as making one refined and clever and unusual.

The truth was, I had reached that crossroad, that fork in the road, the fork I was going to dig into my own heart. I can truthfully say, at that moment, in my mind, I was packing my stuff and getting ready for a drastic change. I couldn’t have told anyone my decision, because I had no idea what it would be.

But the energy that comprises Bootsie could not be diminished and I hung on to that promise. I believed this was just going to be a little tiny tumor and then it would be gone.

How wrong…how horribly wrong I would be…


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Page 91 The answers to you questions

Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please. Mark Twain


I have gotten a lot of mail asking the “ins and outs” of why I am not with Bootsie. What could have happened? Why do I not give her a chance? 

Here is the history I have detailed in ealier chapters



Bootsie was the archetypal “bon vivant”. After we spent our first night together (see page 44) the following day Bootsie was at my work promptly at 5pm…already waiting.

“How was work?” She had gone back to the house, to be expected, and had noticed things were different from the night before. Apparently in all our lust she just skimmed past the two doors immediately preceding the love den, in practical terms, the mistress bedroom. Upon returning she took inventory of who else may be living there.

“Di, there is no delicate way to put this. She started “You have children?” .

More a statement than a question.

“Yes, my daughter is still living at home, but, not to worry, she really is a 30 year old in a 10 year old’s body”.

Bootsie doesn’t do competition of any kind. She’ll go head to head with every dyke and man on the universe, but children are another thing altogether. The sad thing was, she had not even met the child. I made a point of adult proofing my children. I always warned that the first opinion would essentially be the ONLY opinion, and they should always be certain that when they left said house, they would be welcomed back. And I did this without physical damage. My daughter was especially cautious when it came to other's opinions. She had prohibitive self-esteem, but she yearned to be a few steps greater than the average child her age because she craved education. Life experiences were interesting to her even as a very young child. She was an innate listener, but had the shortfall of being argumentative when she absolutely knew she was correct. It was not often she was incorrect, when she was, she offered apologies. But woe to whomever offered opposition. That was a problem if it was anyone but family. Bootsie felt that children should not argue ANYTHING, no matter how Wikipedia the issue.

I explained this to Bootsie at length. I really cared for her, but, in ALL cases, my children made the final decision. I know there are many out there that have guffawed at that statement, but to have a harmonious household is conducive to good health. And children can be formidable. Children's talent to endure stems from their ignorance of alternatives. The sad thing is, Devon liked Bootsie. As opposed to most of the women I had been with to date, she had remarkable intellect. Devon craved this in people and had little patience for issues of no context. In spite of all of that, I still looked forward to their meeting and felt it would be a wonderful meeting of the minds.

We picked Devon up from daycare, and she was still the small adult in the making though only nine. She came running to the car ready to share the day’s events. She immediately liked Bootsie, but who wouldn’t. So, being introduced to new “meat” her life story began. And Bootsie did her best in Bootsie terms, to placate the child. But this fell apart over something as trivial as a pink liquid.

While eating dinner, I coughed, Bootsie clichéd “Must have gone down the wrong pipe” .

This sent the child scurrying to the medicine cabinet, bringing the bottle of Pepto Bismal with the detail of the human digestive system on the back, explaining how it would be impossible for it to “go down the wrong pipe”. Impressive argument, don’t you think? Bootsie felt children were never to argue with an adult. Even intellectually. She was raised in that fashion as were most baby boomers. There is an extreme in either discourse and I will admit, I favored Devon because, frankly, she was already light years ahead of the average human being intellectually. And being a baby boomer as well as the much unpopular middle child, I knew how not to raise a child. As it goes I didn’t get it right either way.

So day 3 of Bootsie and my relationship went something like this: .

3am.

Sheryl decides she wanted to move home...AGAIN. She argues this while Bootsie - for whatever reason - hides in the garage holding our cat Cloudy. To this day I have no idea what either of us were thinking. But Bootsie doesn’t do the fighting thing. It will mess her hair.

4am.

Sheryl leaves, Bootsie and I make an appointment to discuss this during daylight hours.

8am.

Either en route or at work. Uneventful until ...

10am.

Bootsie calls, seemingly upset. Her tires had been flattened. She was certain it was Sheryl. I was equally as uncertain it was Sheryl. Sheryl was at work in downtown Houston at the Law Firm opf Chamberlain and Hyrdlika, on the 50th floor, about 1200 feet from a parking garage or transportation. And truthfully - she wouldn’t have had the gumption much less the knowledge one would need to put together that scenario. But I gotta give it to Bootsie; to err is human, to blame it on somebody else shows management potential. Sheryl didn’t know her adversary’s name, not too difficult, but it can take a bit of time, then her address, where she would be when and what kind of car she had. So I offered to pay for new tires feeling this could fill in the gap. She demurred and was especially pathetic in demeanor. But, NO, I insisted.

“Just a minute Diane ” She says as she covers the phone allegedly talking to someone in the room. “My sister, Diane has already come here from work and taking me to get new ones, and she wants to pay for them”.

I have an almost surreal memory. Surreal in that I retain the most inane incidents but forget the important matters. I recalled Bootsie telling me about her family, her father’s steel company and her sister working for him. And of course she just gave me her sister’s name. Luckily Diane was the sister that worked at her father’s company or this case would never have been solved. After I hung up with Bootsie, I found the number to her father’s company and asked for Diane. Luckily she wasn’t on break or in the powder room. She picked up and I made some lame excuse about being mistaken to the wrong extension, something of that nature. Of course a call to Bootsie was in order. And she was home ... still. Not very quick thinking. No caller ID much less cell phones. Still, wouldn’t you think she could follow up that lie with equal action? .

“Bootsie, I just spoke to your sister... “

And she was off, like a friggin' tire fire. I let her take it away until she ran out of steam. Pretty much pissed off that I called her family. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you’re wrong. Not even recognizing the lie she was just snagged in. As soon as I could get a word in, I told her I didn’t give a shit about one word she said, because it was offensive to think I could buy into that narrative. What was the REAL story here? My heart was breaking to think that this person I felt so treasured by, was not the person I celebrated. Fortunately she picked up on that immediately.

“It’s the kid” She sounded like she was reading a Robert Evan’s script “I just can’t take you having a child” .

So there it was, and considering my track record, I shouldn’t have been surprised. But that didn’t stop the sensitivity lobe from making the leap of faith. And she was speaking of my child. That not only closes the door, but it pretty much seals it, nails it, boards it, and cinder blocks it. Closed for good. But it didn’t necessarily close any windows. Well, ok, I'm being ambiguous. You will understand.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Page 90 False Diagnosis

This is an absolutely true story


Conscience is a sick bed and underneath it’s filthy sheets are our biggest fears The Ungodly

Yes, we met at a bar. The biggest nonviable situation in the dating handbook.
Love has its own value system. Its own criteria and who are we to set limits? We shouldn’t try it is futile. When and where are of no consequence. You can fall in love with the person across the aisle in church, in the stall next to you in the ladies room, in a store where you are being fitted for that perfect dress, or drive by you splashing mud , Why is it such a sin to say “we met in a bar”? What if you were in said bar at the same time as that future love connection, both of you left at the same time, and while making passage home, both of you stopped at the local corner grocer at the same time…and met? You would tell everyone “we met at a grocery store” even if both of you knew the other was in the same drinking establishment only an hour earlier. The bottom line, you met. And you fell in love. Location be damned.

So there I was, preening in front of the window in a $25,000 Kimono. Something I had no business touching much less wearing. But as I caught her eye I could see that little quirky grin she is so famous for. Just like Matt Damon, kind of out of the side of her mouth. Her arms folded, her head shaking and then she left. And for a minute…I thought I just imagined her. She was, after all, in Ixtapa. But that was five days earlier and Mexico is only a four hour drive. Still…where did she go?

I went into the conference room and gradually undid the ties and folds, laying the museum piece meticulously in the Japanese coffer lined in velvet with various inscriptions on the cover, then sealed it back up, gingerly placing it back on a very high shelf. I was standing on the conference table when I heard a light shuffling. I stood perfectly still, for, if it were my boss, my contract would be cancelled. At the very least.

“Put it back on…

” I jumped and started a slow descent to the floor, already picturing myself in the Emergency Room getting one or both of my legs casted. The Kimono following, causing even more distress, for, a broken leg or two were nothing in comparison to trying to hide, fix and deceive my boss about the treasure’s condition. Luckily, I was intercepted. And the gown was at last safe from my imprudent action.

I thought Bootsie was just a figment of my imagination sitting on the fountain below my office window, because when I glanced back she was gone. I was wrong.

Leaning against the door of the conference room “Put it back on, but do it right. Geisha’s wear nothing underneath.”

Now how does she even know that?

“Where did you come from? That was you down there!”

“Put it back on” she repeated. “

“No. I can’t, I shouldn’t have put it on to begin with.” As I carefully folded the garment, placing the obi on top and the footwear, very tiny shoes called geta and split-toe socks. This style of kimono called furisode,wit h almost floor-length sleeves, had been folded “just so” and it was like working a puzzle. I explained the project, how these Kimonos were a felony to even touch and that they were to find their final resting place hermetically sealed in cases I designed.

She picked my shoes up off the floor, one of her fetishes. She loved my shoes. Another story entirely. I sat down on the table and she took my feet, one at a time and dotingly placed them back on my feet. She put a hand under each of my shoulders and lifted me off the table. As she put me safely on the ground she pulled me to her, but I pushed her back.

”You know better”

“What? You really gonna tell me it is so great with that troll?”

One of the many flattering descriptions she had for Willie. This was to be expected from Bootsie. Bootsie was the patron saint of damaged relationships. She loathed Willie, even before we got together. Now it was a way of life with her. She spent her days trying to foil our relationship. But it was impossible and I promise, I meant it and I lived it. I was not going to let anyone destroy what I had with Willie.

“I have an idea of what to get that lesion for her birthday this year. A Guantanamo Bay Play set.” She snipped “Or a pair of shoelaces”

She was alluding to Willie whispering in her ear one night at a club “I can kill you with your own shoelaces.”

“One night when I was in the ladies lieu (Bootsie loved HRH speak),” she continued, “I heard her scream Oh my god it’s hideous thing made of skin! And she was looking in the mirror”

“When I carded her at the door" she padded behind me not missing a beat, "I had to charge her extra charge for the aliens inside her head”

“Bootsie, just stop!"

I ignored that and asked for an explanation as to why she was there; you have to understand why I thought it was a pathetic ruse to get my attention.

“I have cancer.”

I walked past her to my desk, grabbed my jacket and briefcase, keys and headed to the door.

“How did you get in here?”

She produced a scraped credit card, waved it in my face.

“I should’ve known."

I grabbed my briefcase and suit coat, brushed by her, then pulled her along for fear she would be hiding under my desk the next morning.

"That could put you in jail.”

“You would’ve gotten me out, after all I ruined a perfectly good credit card” then her face turned grave, “Didn’t you hear me?”

“Yes, I heard you. Didn’t you tell me something like this when I got together with Risa?”

She chose to disregard that. Self-pity in its early stages is as snug as a feather mattress. Only when it hardens does it become uncomfortable…

“Dianne, I have colon cancer”

“Booter, if you continue to do this, you are going to fuck up your Karma and really actually get sick!”

“Well…I guess that has already happened, because I am not lying.”

I studied her face for any sign of deception, but this was her forte’ as you will come to realize. I was dubious. When someone gives you such a fateful decree, the human conscience, at the very least most folks want to be polite and accept this at face value. But she did this when we broke up in 1991, and this was 1998. She then told me she had stomach cancer. Yet she continued to look healthy, she always had a pleasant demeanor, really her signature, and ultimately, nothing else came of it. This felt different. And I could very well be exposing my typical skepticism. After all I do not find anything profound in Vincent’s sunflower painting.

“I’ll be in the parking garage since you are already on the cross.”

I found my way to my car, Bootsie following closely behind pleading her case. I turned on my heel

“Bootsie, please, I am not going to leave Willie. I think you know that. If you are really sick, you know, I will be there for you, but it will have to be me and Willie. We will both be there for you.”

Bootsie shrugged her shoulders, put her hands in her pockets and turned her penny loafers to her own future.

"You are going to keep running away and hiding behind that witch. But you can believe in me." She looked defeated.

"How long do you think I am going to do this Dianne?" she turned back to me, "Time waits for no-one, not even you, not even me."

And I suddenly felt very sad as I watched her walk away, her head bowed, kicking up stones in frustration, she turned a corner and as fast as she was there…she was gone.

I finally made it to my car and there on the windshield an envelope attached to one flower, of course an unusual flower, she always told me to never expect roses from her. Yet, it was a rose. A sterling silver rose. And before you go “aweee how sweet”, it was probably stolen.

The card read “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at it destination full of hope. “

Damn her!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Page 89 My Geisha Moment

This is an absolutely true story

The roads of life are strewn with the wreckage of run-down and half-finished loves...Ralph W. Sockman


Sitting at my newest contract position minding my own business, getting the drawings done as fast as the engineers could torture me with changes, a sudden beep beep and a dialog box
Hello love… .

WHAT THE… .

I responded back...” I think you think I am someone else”

No.

It was Bootsie. booter She was in IXTAPA with her then lover Dallas. And she was desperate to talk to me. I told her to call my cell. But it was expensive roaming then. She made plans to see me when she returned. And true to her word, one week later, she showed up at my job on Chelsea.

I was in my office which oversaw a beautiful but badly in need of work, courtyard. She was sitting on the cement curbing around a fountain just staring up at me. She was very good at that. I have no idea how she even knew where my company was much less my office. Willie hadn’t even been there. But Bootsie knew.

It was late; I was working on a special project. I was making airtight encasements for Kimono’s for an upscale Asian restaurant. They were going to hang the glass framed beauties. I was very excited to be working on it, but even more fun, I had tried on one of the Kimonos and in the evening light, the sun was setting and shining directly in the window. There was no mirror so I turned off the lights so I could see my reflection in the window. And there she was. It was a picture without words. The window reflected me in the kimono, at the same time Bootsie could be seen looking up. The two Juxtaposed together.

Ok. I admit, I love this sort of pursuit.

It is said fanatics are picturesque, mankind would rather see gestures than listen to reasons. When Debra and I were together, and even after we broke up, I loved the idea that she could be out there somewhere, stalking me. Watching me. Sick. But flattering in a very restraining order sort of way. Debra loved to leave roses on my vehicles. One time I had been 120 miles from home working in League City. It was fall, getting late early and as I left the building I saw the ribbons tied around the stems floating on the breeze and twirling around my antennae. With the sun setting, they looked like a surreal silhouette. And my heart leapt. Most women would be apprehensive in the weak light. Only women know how to be romantic like this. I miss that so much. Just once I would love to walk out my door and spot someone in the distance looking up at my door.

And that is exactly what Bootsie was doing. I have written of Bootsie often, so you should be familiar, but just in case, I will bring you up to snuff, as my grandfather would say.

I met Bootsie at Kindred Spirits, a gay bar on Richmond Avenue and 610 in Houston. I was straight; Debra and Anna brought me there when my husband was out of town. Bootsie worked there. Sometimes as a bouncer taking ID’s and sometimes waiting tables for the bar. And she was a personal attendant that first night I ventured on the wild side. I thought she was cute, but made it clear I was off limits.

“I’m straight”.

“Sure you are” Bootsie countered.

Five years later, after Sheryl Chevalier and I split, I drove to another women’s club, The Ranch, where Bootsie worked. I had just left work. Wearing a teal blue business suit, calf length skirt with a slit to just above the knees, black pumps and my “West U” bob, I made my way to the bar and there she was. I ordered a drink and as she handed it to me I pulled her by her necktie so I could whisper in her ear.

“Do you want to talk to me here or at my house?”

Thinking she would shrug me off as another gay groupie. After all, she was a popular fixture in the gay community. She whipped her apron off and threw it and her towel over her shoulder and jumped the bar taking me by my elbow as we exited the door.

We had been on and off for many years. So what was to happen next would be a blow.

An inconceivable distress.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Page 88 International Super Highway

This is an absolutely true story


jai guru deva om
No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he'd only had good intentions; he had money as well. Margaret Thatcher .



In spite of pain, I never missed a step when it came to my career. I couldn’t afford to.
Willie had the hypothetical champagne taste (yet she actually hated champagne). And I didn’t have the heart to deny her. We made road trips to her family, her parents, her sister, her aunts her uncles. Willie never missed a funeral. I believed she actually registered for these much the way a new bride registers for her wedding. And we seemed to lose at least one person a year. Quite frightening when I think back.

During one of these visits, her dad and I got into a discussion about the internet. He agreed with me that it would be our generation’s undoing, but, at the same time, it was a necessary evil. I made a fateful decision, one I would eventually regret.

At one point we actually were the last people to have the internet. Willie and I both felt strongly that the internet was the ruination of many relationships.

My best friend, Nanook, was the kind of friend who instead of bailing me out of jail, would be the one sitting next me saying ‘boy was that fun.’” Now she is the kind of person who would say I am such a good friend that if we were on a sinking ship together and there was only one life jacket… she'd "miss you heaps and think of you often".

She had married a man she had been so in love with. They lived quite nicely because he worked overseas in third world countries. I am not certain exactly what he did, but it had something to do with oil (go figure). In any event, she had discovered the ability to chat with people worldwide, much as I did when I met “New Girl”. This was in the late 80’s early 90’s. My correspondence with New Girl was local, free of charge. Nanook, was communicating across an expensive airway, the Internet was not as it is today. When I spoke with her about this, I found she was spending anywhere from $700 to $1000 a month on-line talking with a New York Sheriff’s department officer! Not only did she have two small children, but if her ex-husband were to read this and figure out who I am speaking of, I have no doubt all kinds of NEW hell would break loose as he investigates long gone phone charges. I talked to her about this because, though I really did not care for her husband, I thought this was a shitty way to go about expunging him. Here he is working his ass off and she is spending his money almost faster than he can make it.

However, as Nietzsche said "A friend should be a master at guessing and keeping still: you must not want to see everything. "

I finally tired of trying to get my point across and she and I parted ways until just recently. Happiness is a hard master, particularly other people's happiness. The predictable ending to this saga, she left her husband and joined the local sheriff’s dept. and became a deputy. When she met her on-line lover, it wasn’t as she hoped and they parted ways. She had no husband, no lover and she eventually became homeless at one point.

So, when we returned from the trip where I spoke to Willie's father of this, for whatever reason, we decided it was time. If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. And Devon jumped on it.

Before the end of the returning day, we were on-line and ready to become part of the international super highway.

And EBAY .

Willie loved EBAY and would get on-line the minute she got home. She shopped and bought anything and everything either Coast Guard or SCUBA diving. She would peruse on line every dog breeder, looking for the most exclusive kind of pets. She loved a brand of clothing called “Big Dog” and purchased quite a few things from their site. She emailed everybody and we had hoards of chain letters, jokes and emotional requisitions for prayer or looking for lost loved ones and animals. And on...and on...and on... And of course the "User Agreements" concerned me. Nothing in fine print is ever good news.

Me…I hated the net. I hate the phone as I have said before, and this was just one more way I was being forced to “keep in touch”. But I learned how to trouble shoot it because, well, after all, that is what I was known for so why stop now.

But I hated it.

We made an agreement early on, no internet hooking up.

At that time all we had was IM, AOL’s instant messenger. Does AOL even exist anymore? Then, they were the only word in messaging and internet search engines.

I was at a contract job that had IM automatically installed as a crude inter-office communication device. While working, a message suddenly came up.

From across the universe

"Hello love… ."

WHAT THE… .

Something's gonna change my world.



Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Page 87 Rich Man's World

This is an absolutely true story

Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the leper's bell of an approaching looter. Ayn Rand


Willie and I were living the dream. Albeit, a little more broke than it should have been. Oscar Wilde said When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is. I agree.
I worked contract jobs at anywhere from $50 to $75 an hour. But we were ALWAYS broke.

Worse, Willie was missing truck payments.

When we first set up housekeeping together, Willie took care of the bills, I gave her my paycheck and she took it from there. I know Devon costs a tidy sum, but we were also getting $800 dollars a month from her Devon’s dad.

When Devon" finally arrived home safe and sound from Hawaii, she was bitter and wrote a very "legalese" letter to her father demanding her child support.

Jackie and I had not been together since Devon was four. So he owed a tidy sum. I didn’t ask much of him in the divorce papers, only $100 a month. I didn’t want him to fight me for custody. Being gay in Texas was a sure fire way for this to happen. As a rule the contentious parent sues for custody thinking they can do a better job parenting for cheaper. I also really preferred he not have visitation and he was the sort that would not mind if it saved him money.

Devon also helped with information to Supportkids and they got an award of $800 a month after their fee of an additional 33%. It's a wonderful organization that goes whereever the unpaying parent is and takes them to court We are in Texas. He was in Hawaii. There is no way we could have otherwise done this.

So…Willie not making her payments on her truck was very disconcerting. As I have stated, I didn’t like argument or dissention, so I did what I could to keep the peace and solve this puzzle.

I got up at 3 or 4am made it to my sites by 5 and working until 7 or 8, maybe later at night. Willie worked from 3pm to 11pm at The Methodist Hospital, so she never knew when I arrived home. She did notice though, that I was getting home at weird hours and she actually accused me of cheating. Of course.

During one of confrontations, not only was I working tiring hours to make extra cash, but I had also been shopping at several malls and shopping centers for the materials needed to matt and frame all of her awards from the Coast Guard. It included photos I had enlarged. We didn’t have printing availabilities we have now and I would need to use a reprographics firm to get the final product. I was going to give these to her for X-mas.

“I know you are cheating”, I ended up showing her what I was doing to shut her up.

But I didn’t disclose the extra work hours.

I was also having a problem with her haranguing my clients for money. All my contracts had a turnaround of 45 days, but I found she was contacting them sometimes only after a week of my working for someone. It costs me projects and I had to confront her about it. She got quite upset with me, but she let up for those few weeks and I was able to get my money first hand instead of having her pick it up. No, I didn’t know she was getting the money early, I thought she was getting the checks in the mail. Turns out she was picking them up directly from my clients.

I picked up the most current check, and deposited in our account the amount she expected. I took the remainder, $5000, paid her late truck notes including astronomical fees, paying three months to Ford Motor Credit in advance. I also paid her insurance three months in advance. I didn’t want her to know, but soon she figured it out, and it wasn’t long before it happened again…and again I did the same thing. Essentially, she was not only spending the money she was supposed to be targeting these bills with, but she was spending the money I was paying in advance. An endless loop.

I was so frustrated by this turn of events. I started to get horrific migraines. Probably from lack of sleep, too much coffee, too many hours staring at a computer, too many contentious property and project managers, visiting project sights and lack of sleep.

Willie got very concerned and was certain it was my neck. She had the same symptoms when her neck needed surgery years past and she was convinced I needed the same.

One of these attacked piqued suddenly. On the way to a party at the Rheingold’s, a party we absolutely had to make, my neck was so bad I couldn’t turn my head. On the way there she stopped at a hospital in Houston where a friend worked in the pharmacy and she asked him for SOMA. We picked up the muscle relaxer and I took one on the way there.

Oh….My…God…..

They are like Quaaludes. If you are a child of the 60’s you understand.

Needless to say, I could get used to this.

And I did.



Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Page 86 College Admissions and what NOT to do

This is an absolutely true story

" Like diamonds, we are cut with our own dust." annonymous


DEVON

devon

dedicated to Brook who brought motherhood back in my life

I know nothing about college admissions or selection. All I know is that my child has been reading newspapers since she was seven years old. She was active in politics since she was eight, making certain I voted for Perot by not only accompanying me to her grade school where the voting process took place, but going as far as to supervise my decision in the booth. I let her actually poke the hole next to his name, so she could say she has been voting since she was a young child.
Along with this idealism, she had it in her head she was going to go to Northwestern. And she refused to settle for anything less. She took her SATs and did extremely well. I won’t lie, I can’t remember – but I think she got close to perfect.

She worked her ass off writing her essays to her selections, but the rule is she could only make one Ivy League choice. Or something of that nature.

As the letters arrived, some of the lesser schools automatically accepted her. She had an option to attend any college in the state free of charge due to her consistent high school career. But she was a white female in middle to upper middle class household. We all know that there are issues and I am not going to get into a political debate about it, but she would have had a much better chance if she was a child of color or grew up homeless. Even better if she were both.

We all waited pensively for the letter from Northwestern. I was told that if the envelopes were thin, she didn’t get in.

That rhymes. That sucks.

When the letter, instead of package, came from Northwestern, I did the worst thing a person could do.

I opened it. And now you will understand why I have taken so long to pick up on my story….

I stood with that thin envelope in my hand, my heart beating extremely hard and I am pretty certain I knew how it felt to have your heart literally break in two.

The letter was short. Full of bullshit reasons, and worse, full of typos! .

I was so angry. I didn’t waste time penning a letter, sending it by special delivery. My letters are usually very persuasive. But not this time. The return letter came directly from the dean who apologized for the “obvious lack of professionalism his staff showed, but unfortunately, the students had been registered for the year and Devon was high on the “wait list.” .

I sat on that letter for two weeks. I just couldn’t see my child hurt. That is what mothers do. Right? Every morning I woke up even more tortured. I couldn’t sleep at night.

Sometimes we need to think past emotion. I didn’t know she only had a limited amount of time to enroll in another Ivy League institution or college of her choice. Willie finally told her after two weeks and handed her the letter. I wish I had just resealed the letter, put it on her bed and taken a two week vacation while she destroyed the house.

Her anger with me was complete. It was as if that was the final straw. I have always been on trial with this child and the more I tried to protect her, the more damage I did.

In the end, she got a full ride to Drake - A FULL RIDE! She got her dorm room, her tuition and even some of her books. For six years! 3 years of pre-law and 3 years of law. It was a limited program they had just started and gave to 100 students total worldwide. And she was a personal selection.

She wasn’t happy. But they loved her. Her first job there was working for the dean. When she got sick, the president of the university and his wife sent me a letter asking me if they could go to her dorm and get her and bring her into their home because she was so insistent on making it to her classes. I still have that letter. It is a direct reflection on the child I raised. Devon from a very early age was very self confident and always drew people to her. She was a person who had an effect on everyone she met.

Today she is a highly successful business woman living in a tony area of San Fransisco.

But still, she would never forgive me.




dev3

Monday, July 23, 2012

Page 85 The Longest Day of the Year

 This is an absolutely true story


Let us not bankrupt our todays by paying interest on the regrets of yesterday and by borrowing in advance the troubles of tomorrow Ralph W. Sockman



Don’t you just love those “share” paragraphs people splatter all over FaceBook. ( If you cannot share them you retreat to the substandard “MySpace”. They seem to feel they are the elitists. Thus no color, no fun)? You know, the ones about cousins and friends and sisters?

I always want to post those about sisters, but they remind me too much of the pretentious greeting cards my sister would give me. All flowery with some WAYYYYYYYY too long poem. Specific lines of verse, underlined, by her. The ones with the most drivel, underlined twice. Words she would actually never say to me. Better to give me a transcript about 100,001 other sisters got. She actually feels that the use of a ball point pen and parroting what my mother used to do should make the receiver amused she even took the trouble.

I can actually hear the many recipients of this effort sighing "at last, someone said it."

There are days I want to re-establish something with her, but no sense making beds in a burning house.

Today is my birthday. I am one year short of 60!

I am afraid to say I am happy, because when I do, my sister swoons in for the kill. You see, everything that has gone wrong in my life, every relationship - with my parents, my siblings, with my close relationships, with my marriage, every misunderstanding has been because of her. And I do not know why. That's a lie.

My father spent way too much time having hopes for me and ignoring her. Had he divided the means, we both would be healthy individuals. And it is, for once, not of her doing. If he had spent less time worrying about every grade I got, every pound I put on, every job I was having issues with, every man I met and spent more time noticing she was around, perhaps everything would be different. But it's not.

And my sister, she has some personality disorder or something of that nature. I ask people I have known most of my life, most for ten years longer than they have known her (she is 10 years younger than I) have explained it to me. When asking why my mother and she are so against every part of my existence, they have said it is not my mom, but my sister. They dread having to face her head on in any situation. Some have apologized for having to chose, but living in the same town, Kenosha, presents even bigger issues. One of her friends said just going to the grocery store with her is a challenge. She is no.1 in her own constellation and everything and everyone is subordinate to that.

She must be right because she is right. And rather than trying to remain neutral and be friends to both of us, it is just easier to be aligned with her and live a little longer.

But guess what? Everything is far better than I could have ever imagined.

oooops! Is she reading?

Probably not. She only reads recipes.

When she was born I made her my life. I acted as a mother would and ignored her inconsistencies and missteps. I did her a great dis-service.

I have a lovely apartment. I have produced over 400 illustrations, and now a short story going public in a popular rag.

For many months I missed my family, but eventually that resolved itself and as my sister in law Anna tried to pound into me years ago, my family is not a family, they are a walking, talking, eating explosive device and I never hear “incoming” on time.

I have my little slice of heaven, and friends I have had for more than 40 years celebrating with me this weekend. And I embrace Buddhism. Before you state the edicts of this, I want you to realize, that is WHY I write this. She may never read it, but if she does, or others she suppresses, perhaps the result will be self realization and the ability to join the rest of us who love her in an everlasting eternity of peace. Because I want to see my family in the next life and I am promised that all is forgiven and even the worst , the most culpable will find new life and love.

And now I am happy and the closer I am to fine.

I like that part of Happy Birthday.

I heard somewhere “Be happy. It's one way of being wise.”

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Page 84 Cat Ownership

This is an absolutely true story

Actually, cats do this to protect you from gnomes who come and steal your breath while you sleep. - John Dobbin




far_side_17

Cat ownership is a responsibility, just ask any cat.
My son, Patrick, had an above average relationship with my daughter. It could be because they were not together during their formative years. But I chose to believe I fostered in them, what I myself didn’t have. In the Schuch family sibling rivalry is a contact sport. I never liked playing, but you know how parents are. They want their kids to be good at sports. My brother Gil was the star athlete, with my sister Marnie a close runner up.

One Christmas Patrick bought Devo a kitten. He didn’t purchase it from the pound. He bought it at a pet shop in the Woodlands. It was a very healthy little creature in spite of that fact. And unusual. It had almost a complete black coat, something unheard of, that turned a beautiful cocoa brown in winter, with a tiny splash of white . She had long languid legs and a sphinx like face.

In spite of that, I was livid. I am of the belief that you do not buy any of a household members pets. Not without the head of the household’s permission. And Willie was even more upset than I.

The cat stayed in Devo’s room for the most part, but then we had the falling out where Devo went to Hawaii and the creature became “orphaned”.

Willie and I decided to take her to the pound, but the cat wasn’t having any of it.

She couldn’t have been older than 6 weeks. But she was a quiet little thing, not prone to the typical antics of kittens. Willie and I were in bed discussing the matter when the little girl jumped onto our bed, easily 30 inches up (we had one of those double pedestal deals). Neither of us said a word. It was a bit surprising, she propelled herself to a perfect landing on Willies soft expanse of a belly. But what happened next sealed the deal. She climbed on top of Willie and lay across her neck and she started to bathe Willie.. When she was done, she fell asleep right there and then.

Only a heartless pig could follow through on those plans. So, no pound, at least for today.

Willie named the cat Magpie, and she was Willie’s owner. I could write pages on this little manipulator, but just go to Tinks page and that is basically the personality of our Magpie.

This little kitten was a stickler about cleanliness and would meow us into insanity until we changed her cat box. At one point, from all the use, we needed to get her a new box. We read that if we were to do this we needed to leave her original litter box in place and fill both the old and the new one with litter so she could get used to it. Then we could remove the old one as we slowly left less and less litter. Magpie wasn't in on the program. Instead, she decided one was for #1 and the other for #2. When we took the old one away (#1 box), again she threw an absolute fit. So for the rest of her days, she had a toilet and a bidet.

Like I said, she wasn’t much of a “player”. We would buy toys and she would act as if she was the one that should be dangling it in front of us. I even gave her catnip, but that just seemed to mellow her more. After she ran laps through the house for an hour.

Then one day she was even more docile than usual. We noticed it immediately. She stopped eating, and she was already a tiny cat. Full grown she only weighed 9 pounds…and she was considered OVERWEIGHT! On the third day we found her sleeping in a far off corner instead of adorning Willie’s neck. We read that cats tend to go off and be on their own when they die. Willie took off of work the next day and took her to the vet.

“Di, something terrible has happened” she cried from the vet’s office.

Willie explained that the cat had a bowel problem. Her bowel had folded into itself. A Intussusception. And the reason was carelessness. Magpie loved to chew on EVERYTHING. She apparently had been chewing on a piece of string that didn’t have the ability to break. Catgut (yes, ironic) that Willie had been using to practice stitching wounds. Willie had been careless and left it on the floor. The string had looped under Magpie's tongue and ran down her esophagus into her bowel and caught every bit of food and whatever else she had gotten into, finally wrapping around the lower bowel bringing it up and over the upper. The operation was going to cost $900. Money we didn't have in spite of my long hours and above average pay. She had to finance it. Yes, just a year before we were going to impound her, now we were financing her life. But didn't we owe it to her after all? If you asked her, she would probably get up and walk away over your ignorance and irresponsibility in even considering the only other option.

She came out of the surgery fine. We brought her home and doted on her like a newborn infant. I bought a heating pad and covered it with her favorite blanket, a burgundy and blue chenille throw I fell in love with from Marie Claire. The only one she had loved and had worn it thru buy constantly trying to arrange it to her liking. I put her food up on a tray so she didn’t have to bend down to eat. We were happily, if naively convinced we had seen the worst.

During the healing she had diarrhea and bless her heart, she tried so hard to make it to her #2 cat box, but failed and we had the horrors all around for us to step in during our sleep walks or when we got home from work. We couldn’t find it in our hearts to do the worst. And besides, we were paying off her surgery for the next 8 months. So back to the vet. The kind doctor recommended Prescriptive cat food.

Yes folks, $29 a bag and we had to have a prescription. Honestly, I think the prescription angle was there to explain the cost. Every month Willie had to stop at the vet, get the prescription, then pay the ludicrous price and finally would come lumbering in the door with a huge sack over her shoulder’s like bag of cement. Yet Willie never cared because Magpie would spend a half hour cozying up to her after she came home.

You see as Magpie got older, EVERY thing she did for us came at a price. She was a clever, smart little feline; She knew exactly when Willie was due home. Not only on work days, but when she would go out on errands during the weekend. Magpie would perch at the door around 15 minutes before Willie’s return, then once Willie’s car started up the driveway, Magpie would leave the door and perch on the couch acting very cavalier only lifting her head to give a casual “hi”. Such was Magpie.

Only cat owners know of this trait and believe this story. For the rest of you, well, isn’t it fun to think it is true? You cat owners can also attest to our new computer age cats that like to lay across the mouse pad and keyboard, or sit atop monitors with their tales slowly menacingly dragging across the screen. You see cats will not hear of you not living every moment of your life for them

When we moved to New Hampshire, she sat in the front seat with me and was a wonderful passenger, actually holding her water until we stopped.

Every year for Christmas, Willie would buy her a can of “wet” cat food as a treat. She knew she would have to contend with the “accident” issues, but Magpie was so grateful, Willie got her undivided attention all Christmas day.

Then in 2007 Magpie started acting the same way she did when she had the intussusception. We were terrified. When Willie took her to the vet, he was very upset with her. He said Magpie must have been sick a while, inferring Willie should have known, even though the Vet had just seen Magpie. Her kidneys were breaking down and she was dying. Willie was immersed in guilt. The doctor said we had to make a decision.

I could not be part of that decision. I cannot even watch animal planet when they put a pet to sleep, how could I watch it up close and personal.

When Willie returned with empty arms, she was inconsolable, and so was I. We said very little for the next few days and just went about our business while mourning in our empty house. I threw out the cat pans before she got home, chuckling to myself of how we had to buy twice the cat litter every month. And she had SPECIAL litter as well. I also put away the food dishes and packed away all her toys. It was the most difficult thing…I cannot compare it. You see, people are not that compassionate about pet loss. I do not understand why business does not give you at least one day to grieve. Co-workers give as much sympathy as they think necessary which is next to none.

And then the news reports started. There was a massive recall of pet food across the world. The Chinese had taken a shortcut and put an additive in pet foods that was not tested and pets were dying left and right. One of the carriers of this petfood was Walmart, where Willie had gotten the “Christmas surprise” for Magpie. The symptoms were like those when a pet eats anti-freeze. The sad part is, had the doctor known this, we may have saved Magpie's life. But as it went, it had looked like she was in the final stages of renal failure.

We were incensed! How reckless and irresponsible! These companies do not value a pet's life like that of a human, though some would say they are pretty unprincipled about humans as well.

The vet had put Magpie in the freezer while we were figuring out what to do. This of course was a fateful coincidence since he could then do an autopsy. We chose to let it go. Yes Magpie died unnecessarily. But at least we knew we hadn’t done anything wrong or neglectful. Everybody missed Magpie. Even the chipmunks who use to love to rile her while they sat on our picnic table eating corn out of Willie’s hand.

One of her fans was a little girl named Emily. I babysat for Emily quite often and she loved Magpie, though Magpie detested her. She was a little girl who saw a fluffy warm animal and wanted to hold her. Magpie saw her as a menace and found secreted places to hide where even we couldn’t find her. Once when we moved, she had hidden in a covey we knew nothing of, because she hated new people and the movers upset her. Willie stayed in that empty apartment waiting for her. We were worried sick, and then a little tiny meow and there she was. In one of those compartments the old New England homes have.

After Magpie died, Emily who was 6, did not accept it. One day while standing at the door, Emily became very animated.

“Dianne, look there’s Magpie”.

Emily’s mom was standing there talking to Willie; I was not very far behind. “No Emily, you know Magpie’s has died” her mother responded sadly.

But I knew something was up, so I ran to the door and there sat a black cat, a little larger than Magpie, with a tiny splash of white under HIS chin. I do not know where he came from, but his travels ended there.


Time to unpack Magpie’s toys.

 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Page 83 Teenaged Drivers

This is an absolutely true story

Every man is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day; wisdom consists in not exceeding the limit.                     Elbert Hubbard

I don’t know what compels people to make the decisions they do. And I am tired of trying to figure it out myself, so I’ll leave it up to you my beloved readers.
So ... you buy a brand new vehicle. A truck. And big nice new black truck with car payments close to $400 and monthly insurance close to the same. You hand the keys to a 16 year old girl who just got her license.

Yes, you read it, but let me say it again.

You hand the keys to a 16 year old girl who just got her license. .

What do you expect? .

I will grant you that our relationship was new and Willie wanted to be the best thing in my life. The way to do that, in her mind, was to be some sort of sainted Buddhist and give up anything paramount to sense, in order to show that she would do ANYTHING for me. She knew…she HAD to know that this was not going to go well. I mean…the kid wasn’t going to get the keys to my BMW. Well…that’s not exactly the truth. But as of that date, no. No keys to mom’s car. I knew better.
The only reason 16 year olds want cars is to be able to have a loud obnoxious stereo system that they can take anywhere with them and torture the general public. And that means changing the radio station while in traffic. Moving traffic. Flicking thru the songs to find that perfect tune with the loudest bass so EVERYONE can be tortured. No longer would they confine that privilege to the parents, the household. Now it was the world’s problem. And this manipulation of electronics usually occurs when the car is moving. I don’t think it is any small coincidence that more cars got into accidents and cost teenagers lives at two exits north on I-45 of Spring High school. The most overindulged kids in Houston’s bedroom communities are on the North end just past the city limits, north of FM 1960. Having explained that to you, I will resume my thought pattern and memory recollections and tell you that when your child calls and says “I’m sorry", before saying why, you can conclude they crashed your car.

… or killed someone.

No one got killed because luckily, no one was in the driveway at Jennifer Fellwock’s house and the only victim was a mailbox. But she put a good dent in Willie’s less than 24 hour old Ford.
Willie and I, with hearts heavy climbed in the still pristine Bemer and made the 5 minute drive to Jennifer’s house, without saying a word. I was past the point of apologizing for my child’s behavior. I didn’t give her the keys, nor would I. This was Willie’s bailiwick.

The minute we got there, Devo ran into Willie’s arms crying hysterically, apologizing profusely. I enjoyed this scene as I leaned against my car with arms folded in judgment. Isn’t that what that means? Body language. Folded arms…judgment. Anyhow, it was the most comfortable position.
All was forgiven. Willie and Devo went to Home Depot, bought a new mailbox for the Fellwock’s and together rectified the postal situation. As for the truck, for whatever reason, Willie NEVER got it fixed. I don’t know why. But of course I can speculate. As long as that damage remained, I could be reminded daily that Willie was a wonderful caregiver who put aside her own material longings to please a child. Hogwash...but there it is.

The car situation stayed in the forefront of our lives for two more years. Devo had 6 accidents in less than a year. She crashed my grey 535i twice; finally totaling it. (Ok, I gave in. It had to happen and I won’t bother to explain- or apologize - my misplaced confidence). Add to that, she totaled the loaner from my Bemer mechanic and then finally she crashed my white 650i and I was through. Willie bought her a car, a little used deal for around $150. She put a stereo close to a thousand dollars in it.

 YES!!!! She did that!!!! .

Amazingly Devo was through crashing cars, or perhaps, because it was her own, she respected it more, who knows.

We paid everything, including gas and insurance. That was not the child’s idea. She wanted to work. But with her school schedule and extracurricular activities, I was very concerned that if she worked her grades would fall. I wanted her to have the best teenage years a child could have.

Mother’s do that. This is especially true with their teenaged daughters.

I had a shitty teenaged career. My parents were divorcing and using me as a pawn in their game. I was not a very pretty or confident child, so I was bullied quite often. It wasn’t till I was 16 that I started to grow out of the ugly duckling phase. But by then I was in the custody of the social worker, Jeanne Ihlenfeldt, who took sympathy on my plight and wanted to give me a stable home life. Unfortunately she inherited a child who had no idea what to do with her newfound beauty. That coupled with a vulnerable emotional state and carte blanche clothing and makeup allowance, I was a piece of work.

Jeanne was a wonderful person. Unfortunately she took on this responsibility when I was at my worse. Sixteen year olds are not the easiest to supervise much less to take full custody. But she loved me. None the less, I have nothing but sad memories of high school. I am not brilliant, but I am clever and had I the kind of adult mentoring that I made certain my daughter had, I am certain I would be a wealthy person today. Not monetarily, necessarily, but intellectually and emotionally.
Devo was in college level programs. She had debate and she was the historian for her group. I truly believe that the reason she did so well in ALL her subjects was because she did all the research for her fellow academics. This meant researching history, geography, science, biographical and other manuscripts, even the silver screen and finally math. She could quote anyone.

She had TWO dollies that she carried around a half dozen of those huge RubberMade tubs filled with files. When the team arrived on site, they were given a subject, written on a piece of paper that they would be required to debate. Devo would then pull all the files related to that subject and the orator would have 30 minutes to study this data and prepare. So in addition to her research, she had to have above average script. She never used the internet as it wasn’t available in our house, and it wasn’t as popular an avenue then. Even today, with the net, this would be a lofty assignment.

Imagine using the encyclopedia (which we had purchased the full large leather bound Britannica’s with the books of the year and medical additions), the library and having to transfer everything by hand or at best, word processor.

A funny story: When they arrived on site for a tournament, they were to be given slips of paper with the subject matter they were going to address or argue. But they arrived late and so Devo told them their topic. One of the young men was given Euthanasia.

…sound it out….

Youth.

In.

ASIA….


Yes, even the most intelligent can be stupid.

As Devo was making her rounds to the classrooms where adult judges were listening to arguments, she happened upon this young man in the throes of arguing for the young adults in the Orient, she slumped, aghast, in a desk as she watched this diatribe unfold. But that was her job and I think her only fupau.

We come full circle to whereof I speak. She was far too busy to work. She also went to Debate camp at University of Texas in Austin for two weeks, sometimes up to five. One year she debated at Harvard.

She was sculpting her future and I felt certain I made the right decision. And remember, we were still recouping from her trip to Hawaii which cost her points on her GPA, her mantra since kindergarten. The minute these kids learn what those three letters mean, they live for it.
And Devo may just as well had those letters engraved on her brow.

Thank God we don’t live in New York. At least I didn’t have to deal with the preschool situation.  I can only speculate what I would have done to get her into the 92nd Street Y . (An organization that has more pull in the lives of young parents than the most influential leader of the strongest country on earth!) .

So, having explained all this, I will tell you one of the very worst things I have EVER done as a mother.

No, I didn't have her radio pulled.


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Friday, July 20, 2012

Page 82 Wild Horses

This is an absolutely true story

Maybe this world is another planet's hell. ~Aldous Huxley


“Mom, I’m sorry” .

The words I prayed for, the voice I knew would be my salvation from daily pain. “Devon…I’m sorry, please come home”.

“Mom, that’s why I called, can I come home?” .

We talked for an uncertain amount of time, I just know the sky was not quite lowering in the sky with that first ring, but when we finished it was dark.

I called her father and thanked him for the 6 months she was with him and asked if she could return. I was hit with a bomb. No, he wouldn’t let her come home.

Devon told me of going off camping in the eucalyptus forest for three days and he didn’t even know she was gone. Children may complain about the tight reigns we keep on them, but in their hearts, they know if we are anxious, we are aware. If we are aware they are safe. Devon was having problems with her father and stepmother fighting. But her biggest issue was her GPA. She felt due to the low expectations of Hawaiian schools, she would not get into Northwestern, her dream school. She begged to come home, I begged her father. But he denied it.

Willie was so angered by this she called a local friend of hers who is known for his unconventional tactics of resolutions.

I was incensed that Bill was not going to allow her to return. If nothing else, he should’ve appreciated her need to have a good GPA and go on to a higher education. In some ways I feel he was jealous. But to date I had raised her without ANYTHING from him, including child support.

So, Willie and I came up with a game plan. Devon was to slowly take her belongings to her friend’s house. The friend’s mother who knew nothing about me, was more than happy to assist us with this venture. When the mother told me of what she knew about Devon’s home life, I felt even more hopeless. I knew if I hadn’t sent her things were evolving in Houston to a frightening outcome.

The mother knew we would be sending Devon’s plane tickets, which were over $800 one way, through general delivery, so the woman could have little in the line of tangible evidence of her role in the venture. But this woman did promise to take her to the airport. After all these things were in place¸ Devon got the tickets and made it to the airport.

Willie and I were on tenterhooks worrying about every step. We knew once she landed for her layover in California, it would be easy street. And those 8 hours or so, were the hardest hours of my life. But she made it, calling us from California.

“Mom, she said “I am so sorry and so happy to be coming home”

Yet, Bill never called. Not until she landed in Houston, almost 24 hours since he last saw her. He called and asked if I heard from her. I lied; said no. I then asked him how long she had been missing, and of course I put the concerned mother act on well. To tell you the truth I was pissed. Had she not been on her way home, but maybe picked up by some white slavery criminal in Hawaii, he wouldn’t have known for over 24 hours.

When she landed in Houston, she was 2 inches taller, had on quite a bit of weight and was sporting orange hair and clothes from the local goodwill. And they were covered in “red dirt” which was part of the mainstay in the laundry system there so it seemed.

Even though she was on a plane for over 24 hours and exhausted, she wanted to go right to school. I didn’t know if that would be a good idea since she really looked quite scary but she insisted.

Once we got there, her counselor took her word for everything, put her in the classes she demanded and didn’t give her appearance a second glance.

And things were back to normal.

When we finally got home, I had quite a sweet welcoming phone call on my answering machine from my sister, the Mother of the Year.

“Dianne, you have finally done it, this was the most disgusting, evil thing you have ever done. Bill called us and told us what you have done. You do not deserve to be a parent and I pray that you live your life with no one and nothing. And you will die alone” .

Now, knowing everything she did about Bill and my marriage, don’t you wonder why a sister would say such a thing. Of course we all know how much I did for her – yet why would she do such a thing?  Who knows me better than my major button pusher? I wonder what’s it like living without shame of any kind? And besides, every man's memory is his private literature.   Well…think it through. I know why. Bill had confessed many things to me when I left him for a woman. He really wanted to hurt me, so he confessed EVERYTHING. But ….

I already knew since his friends and hers had already told me.

So she basically wanted Bill to have whatever he wanted in hopes of being able to bring him back into her life. She didn’t care what Devon was exposed to or whether she went on to college. Again, jealousy. She made it known her boys were going nowhere in their life. Her marriage was a shambles and her career was limited to making dessert. I kept that message. I play it when I miss her.

Devon was home, the kids were back in the house and I snapped back into mother mode quickly.
And Willie and I were back to our honeymoon.

I kept the house, did the laundry, cooked most meals and waited for her in the wee hours of the morning starting my work day in a wonderful heightened state.

That year for my birthday I bought a BMW 635i. Willie likes to say she bought it for me, but let’s do the math. I made $25 an hour, she made right under $12. But if she wanted to say she bought it – so be it.

Devon was going to be 16, so we were promoting her taking Driver’s Ed. Ironically, she was very much like me. She was afraid of driving. I didn’t get my driver’s license until I was 29. It was like pulling teeth getting her to go. Willie  told her she would buy her a car (again, the math) if she followed through.

You see we had to take her to Debate Tournaments every weekend, then pick her up in the middle of the night. There were activities during the week as well. Sometimes Willie had to go to school for issues, I would at times need to pick her up after work. It just made sense.

Willie also wanted a new vehicle, so she picked up a brand new black Ford truck. Everyone was happy.
Devon’s Drivers Ed teacher called and told us it was as if Devon was purposefully failing. She had never seen anything like it in a teenager.

They say children are a gift, and I agree, but sometimes I just want to take that gift for a ride and leave it in the middle of the desert.

No matter what she did, she couldn’t alienate me. Nothing could drive me away.

And she finally got her license. The first night out, the day after Willie  got her truck, Willie  actually gave her the keys.

Then the phone rang: “Willie …I….am so sorry”
Devon was reporting in.