Saturday, June 30, 2007

My Dirty Little Secret

So, my dirty secret.. One that damn near no one knows. Why the hell am I broadcasting this? Because someone I loved very, very much died. And I just found out. And I have no other way to process it honestly.

I was mad as hell that I found out after the fact and couldn’t be there for the funeral. Pissed beyond belief actually. Fucking livid and reaching for the wine.. So if I ramble you understand why. Chardonnay disabled.

So the dirty secret, as it were- I had a “Mammy”.. Her name was Marybelle, and I loved her just as much as I ever did my own mother. A liberal, mouthy bitch that hates any sort of bigotry had a Mammy., I must say that was never a term used in my house, I just don’t know how the hell else to explain it to anyone that can’t relate. She was always referred to as Miss Marybelle, having never married, this was an appropriate terminology in that place and time, which had nothing to do with color. Give me as much shit as you wish, you disrespect her and I’ll launch your ass into a new time zone.

You may find it hard to fathom after digesting that- but I had a pretty color neutral upbringing. Most especially for a little girl growing up in North Carolina in the 60’s. Use the “N” word- I’d have gotten the taste slapped right out of my mouth in a second. I’m not saying it was some sort of totally enlightened state of affairs.. But I have to say, given the time and place and most especially the circumstances of their respective upbringings, the parents were pretty damn liberal and went to great lengths to made damn good and sure we never got any of those crazy racist ideas into our heads.

She loved me, cared for me and until the serious dementia set in, we never lost touch. She loved me, loved my babies and never, ever gave a damn that I happened to be white and I never, ever gave a damn that she happened to be black. I was and always would be her child of the heart, as she so sweetly put it, and she was my Mamma of the heart. Folks at the AME church would look at us a little funny when she brought me to services, but after a while I just ended up being just another one of the little people playing in the front after services.. That’s where I learned to sing.. Daddy was a musician of sorts, but gave it up to make a living. Music was a big part of our life always, and to his credit it was broad and varied. But to sing from my heart- that’s where I learned to just let it go and belt it out.. And yes Brother James, I still do, thanks for the encouragement.

I found out many years later she caught some crap from the deacons for bringing a skinny little white girl to services. And typically she said, “That child’s color means nothing to me, so it shouldn’t to you.” Marybelle, the only thing that ever mattered to me was how much you loved me, and how much I loved you. I still make your special spice cake, and the children call it Miss Belle’s Special Cake, and every time it’s in the oven I smile and remember, and I feel a huge and unconditional love settle around me. The rest of the world might not understand, to hell with them- I was so blessed to have more than one mother and I do no justice to the amazing person you were.. But I love you with all my heart, and I’m thankful I was lucky enough to have you there to love me.. And as soon as I get home tomorrow from dropping the boy off at camp, I’m baking a spice cake- just so I know you’re still here with me.

The Magical Mystery Tour

Well y’all it’s that time of year again. The one I both dread and anticipate all year long. The annual Mother and Son road trip to camp.. The dread part involves the Hampton Roads tunnel, in order to get to the Bay Bridge and thus finally over to the Eastern Shore. Would someone PLEASE put a direct ferry service in?? This chunk of the highway to hell makes me absolutely crazy. No claustrophobia or anything. The crawling along for a bloody hour in traffic- for absolutely no discernable reason whatsoever is what grates on my nerves. And if this wasn’t about the coolest camp ever, I wouldn’t subject myself to it. Hey, I’d spend two weeks there in a heart beat if they’d let me.

The cruising along with the Hurricane, now that part is actually fun. He’s a generally entertaining person, and since I’ve never spoken to my children in the assumption they were “just” children, we have some rather interesting conversations. I will grant that there are occasions that I will bribe him with ice cream to be still for 5 minutes.. That boy can talk- I mean talk! He talks in his sleep; his first word was “why”. This is generally rather endearing, as he doesn’t just babble on and on about nothing, but brother that child can exhaust a train of thought like no other human I’ve ever encountered.

In spite of the occasional headache, we have a great time. Unlike dear old Dad, who stops for nothing, unless the gauge has been on E for at least twenty miles.. Mom likes to make the occasional pit stop. You know necessities, important stuff.. potty breaks, barbeque, ice cream, eastern shore melons and tomatoes, and the occasional “What the heck do you think that is?”

But mostly it’s just the boy and I talking. Big questions, little ones, silly stuff and a whole lot of why. I found out last year he’s going to buy me a condo at the beach when I get old, get me a really cute pool boy and live down the street with his wife and 3 dogs, so he can take care of me. Well, I’m holding you to that one son. You better do really well in school! He also promised to never take up with a trashy woman, because he knows it would kill me. “You know Mom, like one of those nasty Paris Hilton sort of girls.” Well a mother indeed likes to hear that sort of thing.

So once we arrive and unload and I kiss the little rascal and try not to tear up and embarrass him in front of the guys.. Time to head home. I don’t mind the trip back all that much- other than that large strip of concrete hell in Hampton Roads.. I get a little quiet time that doesn’t happen very often in my world. Frankly I don't mind my own company in the least. Time to realize just how much I’m going to miss the little devil the next few weeks..

Ok, so I also get to stop at the Clam Shack and pig out without anyone knowing about it. Have a brilliant weekend folks! I need go figure out where the hell all the beach towels have gone and get the boy packed.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Domestic Disorder

So, I had a chat with Baby Sister last night.. Nothing unusual, since we talk most every day. One would think however that I would know by now to never call when I'm hungry. She got started on a fantastic meal she had produced the night before for a private party. These conversations generally end with me thinking I need to run out to the market, cause damn that sounds tasty! I digress..

After the general chitchat, I told her that we had finally ordered a couch. Dead silence..

"Umm, you still there?"

"Yes- You didn't!! You let him get it?"

"Yep, I caved. But I prefer to think of it as a growth moment."

"And how do you make that leap of logic?"

"Sometimes you have to delude yourself dear, keeps me sane."

For two years (yes 2 years) the Beast and I have had an ongoing spat about getting a new couch. I love him dearly, but the man has no taste whatsoever. Except in women, but that didn't develop until he met me of course. He has a fixation on a rather huge "man couch", that I find hideous. When I say huge, I am being quite literal. Freaking enormous, and yes indeed with built in recliners. Give me a second, I'm feeling mildly ill..

I consider myself to be a rational person, while I can be extremely stubborn about some things; I generally try to find a compromise. Personally I think this is the only way to manage 27 years with the same person without committing murder. The hunt for a couch however became my own personal line in the sand. The eldest canine child ate the prior couch during his puppy stage. Not kidding ate the bloody thing. So up from the basement came the old college couch until we could come to some agreement. That was three years ago.. Slipcovers can hide a multitude of ugly- thankfully.

Now I grant you, my taste is a little peculiar to some. Boots terms it "Bauhaus by way of Beijing", actually Kyoto would be closer- but nonetheless she got it pretty much spot on. So while I'm shopping for something mid century in leather, the Beast is perusing "man couches". Yes I am being sexist and I apologize. But let's be honest here, the majority of females are really not going to gravitate to a mega-mother, overstuffed sectional that takes up the entire damn living room and has built in recliners. Just sayin'..

So for two long years the battle has gone on. And on. And on. And then he started fighting dirty.. He enlisted the children to his cause. I may well never forgive Fluffy for turning on me. So for weeks different variations of "Mom, we can all stretch out on it. Mom we can cuddle better." Et tu Hurricane?? Perceiving that the tide had indeed turned, I switched to avoidance. Oh no- the three of them launched an all out assault. With the realization that I was never going to genuinely win this one, I decided to focus my efforts on the least objectionable upholstery fabric that could be agreed upon by all parties. I personally felt I was being quite gracious going that far with it. Thirty swatches and ten days later I decide it's time to have a peace conference.. Everyone picks three swatches, overlapping choices make it into the final running and Mom makes the final decision based on the least esthetically objectionable choice. Two hours and a migraine later, a decision is reached and the leviathan is ordered. Peace descends upon the household, and I resign myself to living with the damn thing.

I hope he likes the Noguchi coffee table I ordered..

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

In Memorium

Well, here we are- it will be two years on July 3rd Mamma, and I still have days I don’t quite process that you’re gone.. I miss you so very much. I can’t count the number of times I’ve picked up the phone to call and tell you some silly thing or another, and realized I couldn’t any more. And felt bad that I didn’t do it more often when I still had you here..

The kids are fine. They do miss their Grandma, and they try to be as gentle as possible with Grandpa so as not to cause unintentional pain. He’s a mess without you, but you knew that was coming- after nearly 60 years with you he’s not capable of tending to himself anymore. But it’s OK, he’s living with Baby Sister now- and while the cranky old bastard and the lesbian in the same house has it’s comical moments.. we’re collectively trying our best to take care of him. But really, we could make a sitcom out of this easily.. I know your sense of humor, you'd be laughing your ass off.

Your memorial was lovely, really. D.B. gave the most beautiful eulogy. Not a dry eye in the house. But the worst thing is having to see you in the mirror every day. Every sweet old thing in the place told me you were the most beautiful and gracious woman they had ever known. And it’s true- you were all that and more. Given the time and place you were raised, that was all they expected from you. The fact that you were smart as well was a frustration to you in many ways, I now know just how much. Anyone with eyes can tell I’m your daughter- but let’s be real, while I resemble you, that breath taking beauty you had was yours, not mine. But that’s OK, I came out reasonably well in the genetic lottery, I’m not complaining. Just look at the grandchildren.. OK they are mine and I’m supposed to think so, but that’s a pair of good looking, very bright humans- the thread remains and will go on Mamma, and I know how important that is to you.

Brother 2 came up for father’s day- which was very sweet.. But we’ve not been relating real well since you died.. I finally figured it out- it really hurts him too much to be around me. While he has a hard time admitting it- comments like “You sound just like Mother” when I’m telling the Hurricane to get his elbows off the table.. or that somewhat puzzled look I see from time to time on his face when he’s staring at me and doesn’t think I see. I realize it’s hard for him to be reminded. It’s OK, I know he was the favorite- and I don’t mean that in a bad way,-really. Got over it years ago.. You nursed him through cancer, and surgery and radiation and chemotherapy.. now that I’m a mother myself I understand Mamma, I really do. We finally talked about it- as opposed to him walling me off- and I think it’s all OK now.

I must admit, having the deputy sheriff call and tell me they found you dead in the bathroom after a bridge game, while Daddy was in complete shock after finding you was a little weird. I always thought it would be something a bit gentler- with time to say goodbye. I still feel like a real ass for not calling that morning like I had planned to..

But you know what? I finally get it. And I am so sorry I didn’t while you were alive. All those angry years when I didn’t understand the alcohol abuse, the torment you were going through- but I guess I have to forgive myself for that too. You felt your job was to make every one else happy, and I expect you lost yourself in that. Must have really sucked for you. But you know what? No one could work a dining room like you.. Daddy had enough sense all those years and keep his ass in the kitchen and let you run the front for a reason. The food was great, but they all came back for you. Flick of the wrist that no one else would ever notice- two servers and a busboy came magically to your side. And you made every one feel special- a mechanic and his wife on their anniversary or a First Lady and her detail. You had a gift for making anyone and everyone feel special, at ease and very important. And the cool thing about it- it was all real.. anyone that came through that door was special to you.

Thanks for loving me even when I was being the child from hell.. and for that matter kudos to me for at least being the only one of your children that made an attempt to understand you as a person.

I love you, and I really miss you.

A Field Guide

In addition to blathering about whatever might pop into my rather odd mind, I expect the family unit and other persons of great import in my little universe may well come up from time to time.

I find when I start reading someone else’s blog, I do tend to get a bit lost unless I can understand who the heck they're talking about.. I'm literal like that. All names have been adjusted to protect the innocent, the guilty, or suit my whims.

Without further ado-

The Beast- spouse of many, many years. Don't go jumping to conclusions. A play on his name. Well, most of the time. I.Q. high enough to register as an oven temperature, the common sense of a melting ice cube. Love him to death, but the absent minded, dealing with the modern world adventures he has are the stuff of legend.

Miss Thing/AKA Fluffy. Eldest child, just turned 15 and hasn't become the spawn of hell -yet,. But we have time I'm sure. Thankfully for her she got her Daddy's brains. But shares some of the more distracted bits of that end of the gene pool. Her SAT scores at 12 scared the hell out of both of us.. don't get excited, it was to qualify for a G & T program.. On the whole, an amazing kid that I fully expect to end up being a very amazing adult.

The Hurricane. Youngest child, coming up on 10. Thankfully he also got daddy's brains, but none of the distracted genes. Natural athlete, loves to do all the stereotypical little guy stuff, run around like a maniac, play ball, get as dirty as possible, get stuck in trees and such. But also reads 3 grade levels up, kicks ass in math and likes to cook. Of the offspring, he's the sweet and sentimental one. Those 10 kisses a day get me through a whole lot of ugly.

Baby Sister- This needs explaining? My sister, the gay chef. Sweet, funny, amazing at what she's chosen to do for a living. But like many brilliant people, gets a little lost in the real world sometimes. Back in the dating pool after a 10 year relationship, and it’s been rather interesting.

Daddy- Yep, my Daddy. The train wreck. Bless him, a physical wreck. Daddy is the poster child for taking care of yourself when you’re younger. Once Mamma died he pretty much started a slow downhill slide. He’s been a mystery to me most of my life. Cranky bastard that can be a genuinely loving individual.

Boots- My best friend. Funniest person I know. The snark level in the room when the two of us get together must set off alarms someplace in the universe. A smart, generous and loving soul who has always been there for me and I pray always will be.

Thus would be the basic cast of characters that inhabit my little world- in the event anyone gets confused later on.

Job Hunting sucks-

Job hunting sucks.. I’ve had the luxury of working from home for a couple of months, and it’s been rather pleasant in most respects. I grant you, I became more than a bit unhinged the first few weeks, it’s amazing how we all depend on our routines to keep us sane. The first three days at home I got up, got dressed and came upstairs to roust the kiddos for school and realized I was in a suit and heels. OK, so they thought it was hysterical, me I was mildly embarrassed actually. But now it’s time to get my ass out there and get a new job. This prospect is really, really upsetting me.. No, I’m not a lazy slob that doesn’t want to work.. It’s that whole process of resumes, and interviews and rejections and judgment that annoys the hell out of me.

I came to the realization about a month ago that I don’t even have a resume any longer, I haven’t needed one for more than ten years! Having helped numerous people compose their resumes through the years, I presumed this was going to be simple. Umm, not so much. Complete and utter brain meltdown. Given the chaos I used to manage on a daily basis, I have no idea where to start in describing my prior job. It’s gotten to the point where I’m ready to abdicate and just hire a bloody writing service and hand it over. Cop out, I know. Pathetic, perhaps.. but in the long run it may be worth the money just to save myself an ulcer.

I am also coming to the realization that according to a large percentage of “hiring entities” I have no job skills. Dang, who’d have seen that one coming? No, really- I didn’t. Let’s see, managed a medical practice, which involves a couple of hundred balls in the air at the same time. Juggled scheduling and other personal matters for the Boss, as he had (has) a side gig as a media personage, as it were… more or less became the personal assistant as well. So, the capacity to do 20 things simultaneously, run a business and a household doesn’t qualify me for anything because I don’t fucking know Power Point???? Yep- I’m a little pissed about the entire thing.

I’m getting a wee bit tired of people assuring me I’ll have no problem finding a job. Guess what y’all? I am!!! Well, I guess this is nice- in most of these cases these lovely people know me professionally and are judging me to be a competent person. On the other hand I’ve heard it often enough that I want to scream.. I’m 46, I have two kids and it took me a while to figure out that this may well have something to do with my current dilemma. Or perhaps I’m just being paranoid.

But the genuine reality of the matter is, I was spoiled. Rotten. I worked for someone that respected me, I had the flexibility to be Mom when ever I needed to, hell the kids had their own room upstairs. I worked with hands down the most amazing group of people I have ever known, and at the end of every day I felt like I had managed to help a few of my fellow humans. I was damn good at it, and it made me happy, most of the time.

So, I guess that my annoyance is a combination of things. My genuine grief at losing my work family, and my “skill set” which seems to be out of step with the rest of the universe.

Or I’m just feeling like whining today. My space, I’m allowed. This way the family doesn't have to hear it..

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Hey there- come on in..

Sorry, haven't gotten unpacked or hung the drapes and such.. But y'all are more than welcome.

So I guess one has to give a little background or some such on the virgin run? Or not? Well I guess we'll hit the high points and if the nasty bits come later, so be it.

Let's see, since we've just met I guess introductions and such are in order. Blog name- my Mamma met any challenge head on and with a brass pair for a tiny little woman. But she'd always ask the question "What would Jackie wear?". And indeed, as odd as it may sound to some of you, if you're dressed properly for the occasion, you'll be able to manage most anything. My story, sticking with it.

Blogger name- read your Heinlein. Old joke. Perhaps I'll expound at some later date, then again, perhaps not.

My life- coming up on 46, and have no problem with that. Other than some gravity induced issues, I'm a much more interesting person than I was in my twenties. Two kids- 9 and 15. yes the second one was planned and you can't imagine the number of people that have the unmitigated gall to ask. Husband- same guy for 27 years, yes I am serious. Lived together for quite a while, as I wanted to make sure it was going to take before thinking about rings, vows and kids.

My current life situation is in a huge state of flux at the moment. Let's see.. Well, I had the single best job ever, working with the most amazing people one could ever hope to be associated with and it came to a screeching halt. Nothing evil, Boss actually packed up and moved to NOLA to help change things in respect to health care delivery. I admire and respect him immensely for this, but frankly still have rather a case of the ass that my perfect little work life got shot to hell.. If you're reading this Boss, you know I love you like my own demented brother and wish you all the best the universe can give you. But I'm still annoyed.

So after spending my entire adult life doing the go to the office thing every day, I find myself doing freelance from home and dealing with the two heathens 24/7, since school is out. If anyone has any tips on how to manage this without going starkers and any insight as to how the hell you structure your time, get something done and not go mad- please, I beg you let me know!!!!!!! I'm having adjustment issues here.

Ok the basic things that make me get up every day- which may tell you something, but then again perhaps not.

Things I love:

My family. I do joke about them and tease them without mercy, but love them more than my own life.

My friends- see above.

Food- love to cook it, eat it, watch other people cook it or write about it.. you get the picture.

My home. Every morning when I wake up and see the view from my kitchen window, it just blows me away. Even after 15 years. The sunrise, the fog ,the lightning, the rainbows. Bears, foxes and other assorted critters. It's a damn fine place to be.

Movies, all kinds of movies.

Books, all kinds of books.

Shoes. Hi I'm Dora, I'm a Shoe-a-holic.. I catch a lot of crap from my uber feminist sisters about this one.. But really was this not what Betty, Gloria and all the other women that fought before us really did stand up for? It's OK to be YOU? Be your own version of female, working, not working, sweats and sneaker or suits and stilettos, kids or no kids?? Let's quit sniping at one another ladies and focus that energy on the patriarchy instead!!!!!!!

My country. I love my country. But my government scares the shit out of me.

Things I hate:

Bad manners. No excuse for it people- none. My nine year old knows better.

Crazy right wing religious freaks. I'm pretty sure Jesus didn't hate anyone, other than hypocrites..

The current administration. Can we say Bat.Shit.Crazy anyone? Man has 666 somewhere on the back of his pointy damn head.

The War- yeah well, see above.

Homophobes. It's a miracle to find love in this world. Is it any of your damn business who SOMEONE ELSE finds it with??

People that think anyone south of the Mason-Dixon line is some sort of inbred moron. If I started making Jersey jokes or slamming blondes from the OC, y'all would say I was being a bigot.. Check yourselves please.

People that can't parallel park, but keep trying over and over to get into that last damn spot..

Hummers- there is just no need for this outside of military action- period. Yep I do drive a smallish SUV- I live on the top of a mountain at the tail end of 2 miles of bad dirt. And it SNOWS here people. Why the hell does someone in Miami or LA need a 4 wheel drive that damn huge?? Hell nobody in Montana needs one of those damn things either, they're smart they have actual trucks or Jeeps for a real specific reason.. Buy a damn Jaguar, I'm sure the gas mileage has to be a hell of a lot better- and it's a much more elegant mode of transport if you have that kind of money to blow on a car.

So thus ends the condensed version of my reality- Be well and go forth and be nice to your fellow humans please. Perhaps more will come, or I'll freak out that I did this much and that will be the end of it.