Wednesday, August 31, 2005
This was a day I was dreading. This was supposed to be the threshold of my mother's departure from this world..."three months to live" comes due today.
My heart is full of my mother, this heavenly creature who gave me life. I think of the day that we moved back to Wisconsin. Traffic was at a standstill because of an accident, and Mom called every 15 minutes because of her excitement to see us. She warned more than once, "Now remember...I'm ugly now...bald and pale." I scoffed at her over the phone, I scoff at her now: I've never known a more beautiful woman.
I think of my visit home last December. She greeted me at the airport, having been waiting there 3 hours just to make sure she wouldn't miss me. I came home to find that she had made lavender-filled sachets for each of the dresser drawers I was to use during my stay...she made these while she was undergoing a form of chemotherapy that stripped the skin from her fingertips and made them ache painfully.
I think of her last March, when we said goodbye...and she pulled all of the strength in her reserves not to cry as I left...but crashed into depression for all the month afterwards. I remember receiving her phone call weeks later saying the treatment, the one that we were so hopeful about, had not worked. Normally in check with my emotions, I couldn't have stopped the sobs to save my life.
Now we are at the end of the sentence, and we have been granted a momentary reprieve. This is the best birthday of my life, because I still have my mother, and I now appreciate her presence when I have taken it for granted so many years previous. She gave me life, she gives me love, and now she gives me purpose. Life is precious, and hope is the only tune that doesn't ring false.
In 1995, after the Oklahoma City Bombing, Garth Brooks sang a song called, "The Change." There are a couple pieces of imagery that have remained lodged in my heart, though it's been years since I've heard the song.
It's like whispering a prayer
In the fury of a storm
It's like trying to stop a fire
With the moisture from a kiss
Hope isn't easy. It seems futile and stupid a lot of the time. I accept the things I cannot change, but I still hope in the back corners of my mind that there is a ray of light yet to shine. This is a precious day.
Well happy birthday Hon! I guess I have to be nice to you all day today, and even in this post of all places. Hmmm there's so many things I could say. Where to begin...
Well I'm thankful for every day we've had together, and hopefully the many many more to come. May this day be a very special one for you! You are the best thing that has happened to me and I'll love you forever. This is the first birthday in a few years that you have gotten to spend with your family, and I'm happy we are here for that, as well as thankful we moved here. It was the best decision we've ever made and we're here because of you. Anyways happy 24th birthday!
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Aunt Debbie is a kitchen virtuoso. She knows no fear in the face of a new recipe. She's cooked for the masses since she was but a girl, being the oldest of 5 sisters and Mommy's helper.
She is a hard worker, and can often be found doing chores about the house. Her energy seems endless and it can be tiring just to watch her work. That being said, Debbie finds herself surrounded with seeming innocuous instruments...innocuous instruments that become dangerous in her hands. Point in fact, her poor head has met both the blades of a ceiling fan and the points of a barbed wire fence.
She prepared a picnic for us last Saturday. She made a pressed sandwich and reached for a long serrated knife when the time came to dig in. Miles made a smart comment about the length of the knife, and Debbie indicated that Brenda usually doesn't let her handle the knives.
She, Debbie that is, laughed good-naturedly as Brenda specified, "Actually, it's mainly the utility knives that we don't let Debbie handle."
Miles, perplexed, and most likely unfamiliar with the many Debbie-injuries sustained over the house (though he should have used deductive reasoning as he has seen the riches of their band-aide stash) and at the hand of ordinary objects, inquired, "What's the difference between a butcher knife and a utility knife?"
Debbie replied immediately, "About five stitches."
Sunday, August 28, 2005
You're tired of hearing about the watch, I know...but the saga continues.
Last Friday, as a "before-we-go-to-Iowa" errand, I had the battery replaced. Imagine my delight: a pretty watch THAT KEPT TIME. I marveled at my good fortune, until the next day after my morning shower. The inside of my watch's face was foggy, beaded with untimely perspiration. I jammed my wrist under Miles' nose on a whimper, and he looked upon the devastation with nonchalance. "Oh, yeah...I forgot to warn you that when they change the battery, the water seal is broken." Calmly, he handed my wrist back to me with a look that undeniably said, "Now put that somewhere safe before you hurt somebody."
As the day wore on, the condensation evaporated and I momentarily forgot of my woes. It wasn't like I was receiving sympathy for them anyway, so what's the use?
But things never resolve themselves simply in my world. I began noticing that the moisture appeared when I would leave the dry-cool of an air conditioned building and enter the hot-humid of the Midwest in August. The day before yesterday, a week after the above-mentioned battery changing, I returned to Dakota Watch Co. and asked the same gentleman who changed my battery to check the water seal on my watch. He did a double-maybe-triple take when I presented the watch for him. He recognized either me, the watch, or the combination of the two, and nodded in recognition. I explained my plight with ease, camouflaging the anxiety brimming just beneath the surface, and he set to sealing the watch case. He handed it back to me a short while later indicating that he had sealed everything, but that it is common for a watch to be finicky about the moisture saturation in air. Grateful for the work that he did, my eyes twinkled, and I asked, "How much do I owe you?"
He smiled an understanding smile and said, "Free of charge." As we walked away, Miles and I spoke of the scary R-word: replacement. I am understandably upset:
Yesterday morning we hit 10 jewelry counters. Jewelry counters are not friendly experiences when you know just what you want. "No, I really don't want your help deciding on something, I'll know it when I see it." "Yes, I realize that those are on sale...and if you hadn't already told me 5 times, the big red sign might have tipped me off." "Oh, these are new?—That's nice...too bad that they're hideous."
Finally, Miles and I adopted a ruse. I would boldly walk to the glass-encased watch display while a vulture caught my scent. Meanwhile, Miles would stand behind me, gazing over my shoulder and looking observant. The vulture delivered its spiel. I blurt, seemingly unrehearsed, "You see, I've been looking for a two-toned or gold bracelet watch with a braided herringbone band. The watch that I am looking to replace [with an exact replica] is very dainty, and looks more like a bracelet than a watch." The vulture points to something gaudy and matching only one of my qualifiers...that's right, it's either gold or two-toned. My convincing fake-laugh rolls as I remain uncommitted, saying, "My birthday is next week, and I am just pointing out gift-possibilities for him [thumb points to Miles over my shoulder] to consider." This seems to be commonplace procedure, and the vulture laughs knowingly before flying toward fresh blood.
JC Penny was our final stop. I peered into the lit glass case as a woman with her hair piled high atop her head began to fire her round of ammunition. The glass case circled about the entire perimeter of the jewelry counter. Forgetting protocol in my so-far disappointment with the excursion, Miles answered the woman for me as she spoke in rapid and heavy Middle-Eastern-accented tones. "You want look a watch?" "For You? Her?" "Watches on sale, look!"
Miles answered benignly, "Just looking." "Yes, for her, but we're just looking for now, thanks." "Oh yeah? Okay, thanks...but really, we're just looking." I surveyed their entire selection, and do you know that the rabid saleswoman followed me all the way around the jewelry counter, waiting for her next opportunity to pounce? Finally, seeing a watch that was most-of-the-way wonderful, except for the yucky mother-of-pearl face, I gave in and asked to stroke its willowy body. She looked condescending, according to Miles, as she reached for the indicated watch.
"Solid gold. 16 diamonds. On sale today for....$920." Miles said she was waiting for my jaw to drop. He said she had a smug smile about her lips. I wouldn't know any of this because I wasn't looking at her, I was studying the watch. The band was a lovely weight, not quite herringbone or braided...but malleable. Unfortunately, I just couldn't get over the face...the mother-of-pearl was just not my style. Too much glitter with all of those rocks too. I handed it back to her after a thorough examination, and she looked crestfallen at my lack of response at the price, even more so at my anti-enthusiasm over its façade. We exited the store and Miles applauded my stony expression.
"What stony expression?" I questioned.
"She was trying to get a reaction out of you with that watch..."
I shrugged. "I just really didn't like the mother-of-pearl—"
"NINE HUNDRED AND TWENTY DOLLARS!"
"Oh, that. Well, the mother-of-pearl was gaudy." I felt the duality of his relief and unease...relief that I did not like the watch, unease that had I liked it.....well, we won't go there.
Saturday, August 27, 2005
Well we went on another of our famous picnics tonight. I think the one of the previous ones to the park Laura posted about on here, but unlike her, I'm too lazy to go back and find and reference that post here. Ok so maybe I lied, here is the post.
At that picnic, I'm not sure where it got started, but I put some of those snapable plates together to form a frisbee. OH YES, I remember where it started. Laura's Aunt Brenda had snapped them together the right way and threw them at me.
I said, "No no no, that's not how you do it."
I proceeded to then put them together in a frisbee form, and we had fun with it. Anyways Laura's mom had a grand suggestion. She told Laura to bring the "REAL" frisbee this time. So Laura and I played with it some tonight, but Brenda didn't feel like trying it tonight. Who knows why, maybe we intimidated her with our throwing that was thrown off by the wind. Who knows?!?! Not I.
Friday, August 26, 2005
The end of August is my favorite time of year, to be certain. It marks the days of the Virgo, and while astrology is not something that I personally follow, I cannot deny that many have come to me to ask if my birthday falls between August 23rd and September 22nd. I'm told that I "just scream, 'Virgo!'" Reading documentation, I am not so sure that this is all that complimentary...nor is it comforting that Miles nods knowingly as I read aloud:
Last night, Debbie returned from the grocery store with apples...lots and lots of apples...and pie crusts. Someone's birthday is arriving in mere days, she told me. Someone who likes apple pie. Someone who likes her Aunt Debbie's apple pie best of all. (I think it MIGHT be for me! Shhhh!)
So, in retrospect, I might just be a companion-less perfectionist talking to myself in an empty room...but at least I still get pie, and that really isn't such a rotten trade-off!
Thursday, August 25, 2005
We are planning, if Mom feels good enough when the time comes, a week-long vacation in Boulder Junction, Wisconsin...one of the bazillion towns comprising "Up North", or "Up Nort", if you will. We are renting a cabin on Middle Gresham Lake, as we did for a week every summer when I was a youngster. It has been a dream of my brother's to go back there one more time as a family, so we will try.
It is quiet and simple there, and the world blurs out around you. A week without distractions, a week without communication with the outside world...a glorious time was always to be had. This time, it is different, though. This time, we have Miles.
I spent most of the morning delving into Sprint coverage areas, Alltel coverage areas, and regional Wi-Fi Hotspots. I hit gold with but one, a cyber cafe in Minocqua called The Caffeinated Internet. Their website is none too impressive, but that's coming from a jaded ex-graphics artist, so take me with a grain of salt.
"Are there phones in the cabins?" Miles asked on the verge of desperation. I shook my head, beginning to say that there are pay phones and you can always use the resort's "office" phone, but I didn't get the chance. "Outlets?—are there outlets so I can at least PLUG IN a computer!?"
"Yes," I snorted. "Though, I can't guarantee that they're grounded, so you ought to bring a converter." By the look on his face, you'd think that I asked him to relieve himself in a bucket rather than a toilet for a week.
Oh, wait! [insert fake boisterous laugh] That's what his mother wanted me to do during a proposed laid-back getaway (that we never took). She found my prissy bathroom standards altogether ridiculous and once asked me once on a laugh, "Well what do you think they were doing before they had bathrooms!?"
A half-heartbeat later I replied, "Inventing bathrooms."
I propose a cabin with running water, and he acts like I've stolen his favorite game identity. "You can stay home," I keep telling him, an idea which he emphatically rejects...and it is during these times, when Miles is fussy, more "hold me now" than "holier than thou" when I wonder how the heck he survived ten years as a Boy Scout.
They must have camped out in only the remotest of 5-star hotels, and roasted marshmallows upon perfumed 4-wick pillar candles in the lobby. I laugh at the imagery this calls, and he glances over, poised to ask me to check the Sprint coverage area once more.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
The clothing industry is not catering to my needs.
Is there a self-conscious moment in everybody's life when they're sitting on an examination table, and a doctor looks at old x-rays, then looks at you...and asks, "What happened?" [Horror-struck Laura-face. ] Huh? What's wrong with me? "You should have been about 5'10"," the white coated man with the foot sticking out of his mouth continued. In hindsight, I can see that my young habit with the Mountain Dew wasn't spectacularly brilliant. "Oh, I see now, you had some childhood illnesses." Well he didn't say that specifically, specifically he went into specifics, but you really don't want to read the diaries of a young girl's GI Tract, now do you?
In essence, my growth was stunted, a fact I had not realized until I was 20 years old. For those of you who've met me in person, you might wonder, "How could you not have guessed!?" Well, I don't come from particularly tall stock. My parents' ancestors were skyscrapers, but the generations that have come since have adopted a more diminutive set of genes. Standing at 5-nothing on a good day, I accepted my height.
In middle school, my best friend, holding her hand up to mine, declared, "You have big hands for a little person!" Also, my grandmother never fails to mention the size of my apparently gigantic feet when she sees them. I was used to feeling like a freak of nature by that point, mainly from the aforementioned GI Tract and the constant discomfiture, so the implications didn't really penetrate.
I can tell you with certainty that knowing I was meant to be taller has done nothing to salve the wound. If anything, I have taken to walking around with an indignant attitude and snarling, "Oh yeah! Well I should have been kissing 6'!" whenever a Wal-Mart greeter offers me a sticker, or an Olive Garden hostess asks if I would like crayons. Oh well, in 30 years when I am dancing in my mid-50's and looking about 12 years old, I bet I'll appreciate it then. Grandpa Miles can get the senior discount, and young Laura can sneak in with the children's.
Worst of all, is finding a pair of pants. I buy them in petite, short, Munchkin, and, as Amy likened, Oompa Loompa lengths...and yet, they are too long. Yesterday, I hemmed 3 such pairs of blue jeans. With the residual denim, I fashioned a 3-piece suit for Miles, a pair of stockings for Mom, and a bow for the cat. At least others can benefit, I suppose.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Laura's mom, and Laura put together, have this habbit of turning something I say into a joke that will never die... We're talking it could be 2 weeks later and there will still be references to it. The latest example is I called Liela lazy, because whenever she comes to pick up Laura instead of coming in she'll call her with her cell phone. So that was the joke the rest of the day that Liela was lazy. I kid you not there were probably at least 200-300 quotings of it for the rest of the day. This is only one example in a long line of quotes that still are echoed time and time again. They have a lot of fun at my expense.
Monday, August 22, 2005
It was early November of 2000. The weather was turning colder, and I had accompanied my grandmother to Wal-Mart in search of mittens. Michelle [cousin] was there, too, and we fell into our standard Wal-Mart protocol as we saved the lives of several children too small for our grandmother to see as she steered her shopping cart with purpose. Did I ever tell you about the time she blindsided a dump truck? My four-foot-something, stooped-over grandmother doesn't realize her own strength.
Michelle took the front-left on the cart, sacrificing the skin on her heels to the wild wheels of the cart. I guarded from the side-right and coaxed Grandma gently around the curves of the aisles, staving off my own charge of disaster.
My eye began to twitch sporadically, and as I turned my head to the right, there was a twinkling from a watch display. Forgetting my role in the excursion, I followed the effervescent light. I was hypnotized by the sparkle, and a small pool of drool collected on my shirtfront as my hand reached out to touch the radiant timepiece of my fascination. So taken was I, that I missed the wails as a young boy's toy car met with the speeding wheels of Grandma's unchecked cart, and as a teenager grabbed her recently run-over foot and hopped around one-legged, sputtering. I missed the 3 racks of autumn-weight coats that cascaded to the floor, and I missed Michelle screaming for Grandma to stop as she tried to pry that frightened, and now disfigured, kindergartner from the grill of the shopping cart.
It was two-toned, poorly made, and the most exquisite bracelet watch that I had ever seen. The band was braided herringbone and the face had a fake diamond at the twelve-spot...it was the only one of its kind. I searched the entire mountain of two-toned, poorly made bracelet watches, and no other boasted a braided herringbone band. I do so dearly love braided herringbone.
Meanwhile, five red-smocked, frantic Wal-Mart employees squeezed between shoppers, searching for the cause of the store's domino-effect collapse of order. Grandmother, hidden within tall heaps of yarn and unaware of causing a stir, meandered in the aisle as Michelle wiped the sweat from her brow, dabbed at the blood from her heels, and cursed the day I was born.
Holding my treasure two-handed above my head, I let its divine glitter paint the fluorescent-lit flooring as I passed, unmindful of the torn clothing or the clumps of pulled hair littering the walkway. It, quite simply, sang to me. Alarms were sounding, crowds were shrieking, and police with heavy artillery were entering. My grandmother made her yarn selection and marched to the cash register across from mine. That's right, I bought the watch. I know you didn't see that coming, but I live for spontaneity.
Michelle limped into line behind me, pulling a brace from her swollen knee, a headache pad from her temple, and a gruesome looking mouthguard from her teeth. She piled them upon the counter and looked at me as if waiting for an explanation. I noted that she looked frazzled. Her eyes always exude a brighter blue when she's frazzled...that's the sure way to tell every time, mark my word. The clerk hesitated with procedure. She picked up the phone and began to order a price check before changing her mind and giving Michelle the lot for free as long as she bagged it herself.
Nearly five years later, it is still the watch against which I judge all other watches. I keep searching for a replacement. Better craftsmanship, precious metals, real diamonds...but it seems not to exist. I have tried nearly all 60,043 search combinations of "braided herringbone" and "watch" only to discover that the internet has not heard of such terms joined together! The gall!
Perhaps I am not meant to find it's alter-ultra-valuable-ego. Perhaps I am meant to remember the Wal-Mart bloodbath, the destruction unto my cousin, and know I would gladly replay the events to taste the sweet nectar of its discovery once more...
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