I found this bear claw in a box full of little trinkets and treasures in my father’s closet nearly a year ago. It was in the same box with his pocket watch, along with some other neat stuff.
This was during my Walk-About days, when I would hoof it all the way across town once a week, to see my parents at The Old-Age Home, have a visit, a meal and a story, and then hoof it all the way back. I had a tight ass, then, dammit. Not even a year ago. Man, things change fast.
Bright Raw Taken March 16, 2008 with Canon PowerShot A550
I’m not kidding, either. My days are like this: get up, eat, shower, dress, eat again, pack a lunch, cross the street to work, where I suck back 8 to 10 cups of coffee, eat one lunch, buy another, eat everybody else’s leftovers, dance in the parking lot, cross the street to home, check the mail, sit in the sauna, eat, try not to fall asleep whilst checking up on Blog-Family, eat, collapse. Start over.
I’m switching back and forth between three to four nights “on”, a day – sometimes two – off (the first of which I generally sleep through entirely, along with the following night), followed by three to four day shifts. Rinse and repeat. If they start throwing afternoons at me, I’m not going to get a chance to eat the million meals it seems to take to keep me conscious. I’m not gaining any weight, but at least I’m not losing any, either.
Fluffy took me out to dinner a few weeks ago, and swears I fell asleep at the table. I did not (there were two whole beers to drink; I’m not one to sleep through beer), but I did fall asleep during the car-ride home. We’re going out to eat on Saturday night coming (how many sleeps away is that?) and I hope to stay awake for three beers, this time.
I am not exaggerating when I ask what day it is – most of the time, I really don’t know. As long as I remember how many of such-and-such shift I have in a row, I’m good.
I have to smarten up. I want to write. I want to record. I want to blog my Dad’s stories. I want to drive the Prissy-Van to Teeny-Tiny Town to visit my mom.
It’s like permanent jet-lag. How do I fix this?! One of these Saturday mornings I’m going to drop the Idiot Child off at a locked and empty school, if I don’t get a handle on my time.
So, after a lovely Tilapia dinner,The Cook – oops – Kitchen Manager – no, make that Soon-To-Be-Revealed Self-Named Story-Teller, told me his earliest memory.
It was a memory that’s haunted him his whole life (and he’s even older than me, so you know that’s a whole lotta life to be haunted), and I really felt kind of sorry for the poor guy. When I think of some of the things that frightened me as a child, I sometimes feel just as afraid as when I was little…
I don’t know if I’ve got his “voice” down properly – hopefully, I’ll get some more stories out of him, so I can practice. When he gets going, he tends to speak loudly, and during several parts of this story, he would start to have an accent. I’ve begun to figure out when he’s a little upset by whether he has an accent or not. Which is kind of cool. Makes me want to piss him off, so I can hear the accent.
Okay, maybe that’s not so cool. Maybe that’s just a little mean. I’m such a little shit-disturber, sometimes. Ahem…*
Him: When I was little – maybe about four or five – we lived in an apartment that was across the parking lot of a funeral home. It didn’t bother me, at first, because I didn’t know what a funeral home was, but I remember I always had weird stuff happen there.
Me: What kind of weird stuff?
Him: In my bedroom. In the middle of the night. Weird stuff, man!
Me: What kind of weird stuff? “Funeral Home” kind of weird stuff?
Him: Yeah! Sort of. People used to come out of my closet.
Me: What kind of people?
Him: Dead people; that’s what kind of people. Geez! I lived across from a funeral home!
[I laughed. Couldn’t help it.]
Him: Why are you laughing?! That’s not funny; it scared the shit outta me! I was just a little kid!
Me: I’m sorry… Okay, so was this nightmare full of, like, zombies, all rotted and gushy or-
Him: NO!! And it wasn’t a nightmare! It was like, almost every night, and they were dead people! Dead. People. Coming out of my closet, and into my room!
Me: How do you know they were dead people? For that matter, how do you know they weren’t nightmares? You know, like the same scary dream when you’re a kid, because you’re stressing out, but you’re a kid, so you don’t know what stress is, and it comes out in repetitive dreams?
Him: What are you, a shrink?! Are you telling me I’m nuts?
Me (laughing again – see? Shit-disturber.): NO! I’m just saying maybe they were dreams.
Him: One: I was not sleeping; I was awake. Therefore, I was not dreaming. Two: I know they were dead, because I could see through them.
Him: Yeah. If you can see through them, they’re spirits, and they’re dead.
Him: Ghosts. Yeah.
Me: And you stopped seeing the ghosts after you moved away?
Him: Whose story is this, Girl?
Me: Sorry. I’ll shut up.
Him: Thank you. So, every night, almost, these ghost-people would come out of my closet and scare the shit out of me. They didn’t jump out and yell, “Boo!” or anything, but they’d look at me. And they’d wander around the room, and after awhile they’d sort of just…. go away. Fade away, or just disappear or something.
But it was always different people. It’s not like I had one ghost or the same couple ghosts haunting my room every night. Every night, it was different dead people, and they were always dressed up like they were going to a dance. The women were always in fancy dresses, with their jewelry on, and the men were always in nice suits and ties, but it was always different people. Different dead people. Brrrr!
I think I coulda got used to it, if it was the same people all the time, but different people made it worse. Damn!
[Very, very, very, long pause….]
Him: And, what?
Me: And, then what? Need an ending, here. Do you still have dead people coming out of your closet, or what?!
Him: No! That stopped after we moved.
Me: Like I said…
Him: Yeah, yeah. But, I started dreaming about that a few years ago, and every now and again I dream about those dead people wandering around my room, and looking at me, and I’m like, four or five years old again, but not really, and it still scares me. Kind of gives me a creepy feeling for a few hours every morning after I have that dream.
Me: Yeah, that is a little creepy.
Him: But then, worse, a few nights ago, I had that dream, and you know how you wake up after a bad dream, and it kind of sticks with you while you get up, and you’re trying to wake up and get ready for the day? Well, I was in the shower, thinking about that dream, when I realized, looking back on that room I slept in, that those dead people weren’t coming out of the closet at all! The closet was on a different wall! They were coming through the window!
[Pause… as if he’s expecting a reaction from me.]
Me: And that’s… worse…?
Him: Yes, it’s worse! They were coming out of that funeral home! And right through the window-glass, into my room!Geez!
Me: Why is that worse?
Him: ‘Why is that worse?!‘Why’?! Are you serious?!
Me: I don’t understand why it’s worse that they were coming through the window-glass than if they were coming through the closet door. What’s the difference?
Him: What do you mean ‘what’s the difference’?! The difference is that I could deal with them coming through the closet door and just hanging out in my room! Every little kid that ever lived has monsters in their closet! It scared me, but I could deal with it. Once I figured out they were coming out of the damn funeral home, walking all the way across the parking lot and then coming into my room, I knew they were after me! I’m lucky I survived! ‘What’s the difference?’ Damn, I don’t believe you said that.
[Okay, so then I laughed again. I shouldn’t have laughed, because I’m pretty sure he was seriously freaked out about the whole thing, and laughing was just mean. I couldn’t help it; it was funny as hell.]
Me: Okay… Ahem…* What do you want to call yourself?
Him: What? Call myself? What?
Me: On the blog? When I write your story… how do you want me to refer to you?
Him, with no hesitation whatsoever: As The Victim! I want you to refer to me as The Victim! Geez!
And, so, “The Victim” he shall be called, at least in this space, now and forever more.
A couple of months back, I was invited to dinner by a friend: a 6’4 cook I worked with at The House of Fracas, my temporary placement, the first J.O.B. (and so far, only) in my brand new field, after I was out of school.
This invitation was a long time coming. He kept inviting me… but I would either decline, or he wouldn’t be able to come up with a date for the “date”.
In my case, I needed some guts; not to mention, a kid-free evening so as not to freak my daughter out.
For a long time, whenever “man” or “men” came into a conversation, she tended to go a little squirrelly with the idea of her mother um… meeting one/talking to one/associating with one/going out with one/being seen in public with one/dating one/falling in love with one/marrying one… in a nutshell, she didn’t want any man, be it friend/co-worker/date/pick a label, anywhere near either one of us. Grampa and her Uncle Trespasser were the only two male human beings she trusted. I suppose I could say the same for me.
In The Cook’s case, he needed an evening that he wasn’t working, when his room-mate was working, that included finances allowing for a nice meal for an extra stomach, that fell the day before a scheduled day off – presumably to allow for cleaning the kitchen long into the night and/or not waking up hung over and having to go cook three meals one-after-the-other for a bunch of other stomachs.
Finally, the last time the invitation was extended, we hammered down a hole in both schedules and labeled it Tilapia. As the date got closer, we both had an idea that something would screw it up, but miracle of miracles, that day, the earth stood still for once, and everything worked out in favour of fish and a good story.
Ky had a sleepover that she didn’t kak out on at the last minute… The Cook managed to get out of The House of Fracas in time to shop for Tilapia… the store didn’t run out of Tilapia before he got there… I didn’t get lost on the way to an unfamiliar place… so far so good.
Dinner was nice. I ate a type of fish I was not familiar with, that I very much enjoyed, declined the wine in favour of a Cuba Libre (always the better choice – fish or no), and sat back to conversate with a Someone that turned out to have more in common with me than I would have imagined.
He likes Archie Bunker, which amazed me, because he never struck me as the type that would. He’s a city-boy – an implant from Trinidad and Tobago, raised in Toronto – who loves music, but seems to listen to black artists exclusively, dances while cooking, and can’t seem to understand why people from Sault Ste. Marie do not act like people from Toronto. We argue often about why “we” do not change our behaviour to accommodate him.
He didn’t seem to me to be the average Archie Bunker fan. In truth, he seemed more like a black Archie Bunker.
We had some odd revelations come up during our long conversation, the TV muted until All in the Family was set to start… and eventually, the conversation got around to me writing, and why I wasn’t, much, and “What the hell is a freaking blog?!”
So, I told him about my life online, and my Blog-Family, and the stories about Ruby, and my dad, and blah, blah, blah, and the look on his face was priceless.
“What?!” sez I, thinking he was just astounded that people can have a second sort of life, completely digital, which in my case, is more important than my dirt-side life. I’ve seen that same expression on the faces of other people, after all…
Most of the people I meet face-to-face use the internet, but live in the “real” world (not including “gamers”, who have a whole ‘nother existence, but try telling “real” people that bloggers and gamers are two different species – I dare you – cuz they just don’t get the difference), and just can’t imagine how bloggers connect with one another.
He surprised me again, though.
“I have a story! If I tell it to you, are you gonna put it on the Internet?”
“Well, DUH! Yeah! I’ll change your name, though.”
“I shall call you ‘The Cook’,” sez I.
To which, The Cook took offense.
“I…”, he stated flatly, “Am a ‘Kitchen Manager’.”
“I’m not calling you ‘The Kitchen Manager’,” I told him.
He countered with, “Well, you’re not calling me ‘The Cook’.”
In the end, we finally decided that he could come up with his own nom-de-blog once he’d told me his story…
Which he did do, but this post is already way too freaking long, and I’m out of time, and I’m trying to get back at a couple of Blog-Family members for their “To Be Continued…” habits (CardioGirl and Shrinky, specifically, the shet-bags), and this should piss them off nicely.
And soon after that, I’ll have another Blanche-story up… followed by a Dad-story… followed by a Ruby-story… and I imagine a bunch of gibberish of my own interspersed between them all. That oughtta bring us all nicely into October.
Aunt Blanche was my mother’s older sister. She was the first born – and she wasn’t very old before my grandmother realized she was a little, well, different. I suppose the proper, “politically correct” term to describe Blanche would be mentally challenged. She never went to school, never held a job, and never married.
I have a photo of Ky, when she was about 4, that looks just like Blanche. Ky hates that picture, which is why I’m going to dig it up someday and post it, ‘cuz I think it’s cute that she looks like a modern-day version of my Aunt Blanche, and I’m the Mom, and she can’t stop me.
Where Did the Time Go? Taken March 1, 2008 with Canon PowerShot A550
Whew! That was a hiatus I would rather not have taken. The Real World sucks compared to this one, it really does.
That said, it could be added that my time “away” basically consisted of two types of events: losses and gains. These are some of them.
Lost: My hatred for cooking… sort of.
I’ve had to get into some tight routines during the last month, and since I already had the problem of rarely thinking of what’s for dinner, the idea of not having time to rush around anymore when I finally did realize we hadn’t eaten didn’t appeal. Starvation just doesn’t suit me. So, I smartened up (only took me a quarter of a century – not bad, huh?), and sat down and wrote a list of every meal ever known to man… er…. woman-kind, and wrote them on the calendar. Voila! Dinner is served. I’ve since discovered that it isn’t cooking that I hate, it’s not knowing what to cook. Problem solved.
Gained: Several pounds that have stayed with me.
Finally. No, it’s not from cooking – I was doing that anyway, I just wasn’t liking it, remember? It’s all muscle-mass, from the regular work-outs. Yes, Suzi, I’m working out! Every. Freaking. Day. My arms and legs hurt like hell, but I now have an ass again. Boobs can’t be far behind… 😀
This totally sucks, because now I’m back to glasses, which are heavy and hurt my already bumpy nose (bumpy because of the F-ing glasses, I might add). I’ve decided not to replace the lens, for several reasons: they cost an unreal amount of money – it took me so long to pay for them, in fact, that I’m too embarrassed to call my optometrist and make an appointment. And I’ll probably just lose one again. And, since they wear out and cost so much, I let them go too long and they cause a freaky sensitivity in one eye that makes it hard to sit in front of the computer for long. Or watch a movie. Or blink. I’m going to go to some eyesight mill and pick up a new prescription instead, and then get lasik surgery in another year or so. Take that blindness. Ha.
It was Ruby’s. She didn’t know she even owned a desk. Now it’s mine. 😀 I will have to post about it, because it’s so cool.
Freaky-Deaky dreams aside, the thing itches, and half the time I forget to put one on anyway. I’m only still using them at all because I still have some left and my mother says I “shouldn’t waste them.”
Gained: A new couch.
And a chair to go with it. To be delivered Wednesday. How cool is that?! I made sure to get a colour that will match the sheddiest cat.
Lost: One of four “I Want” lines between my eyes. I’m told they’re from stress (not from old age – who’da thunk?!), so I guess that’s a good sign. Who says wishes don’t come true? I’m going to erase my entire face with wishes, you just see if I don’t.
Gained: A sleep routine that works.
That might be why the “I Want” line disappeared, come to think of it. Mind you, all the sleeping, nice as it is, messes with my blogging. I wonder if “Remote Posting” is a possibility… It’s not like I make a lot of sense while awake, so what’s the difference, really?
Lost: The “Slow It All Down” button.
Or I’d have posted long before this.
Gained: A ton of new stories from both Ruby and my parents.
So, I’d better find that button, huh…?
Lost: David Letterman and Craig Ferguson.
The sleep routine just doesn’t allow for them anymore. The worst thing I’ve discovered out of this particular loss is that I can’t discuss U.S. politics with Ruby anymore (it’s pretty bad when everything you know about U.S. politics comes from David Letterman). We now watch movies after the crossword instead.
Gained: A new address.
Eventually. Maybe. I haven’t decided on this one. I hate moving even more than I thought I hated cooking. It’s a bigger place, though, and The Turkey wants to go. She may win this one. I have time yet to mull it over, though, and mull I shall.
Well, I didn’t lose her, exactly (although, I couldn’t tell you for certain where she is, either), but she’s not here. I’m both heart-broken and greatly relieved. And up to my neck in “Oops, I take it back” government forms.
Gained: Hot water.
Gallons and gallons and gallons of it, now that I’m minus one teenager.
The Waitress, the Whiskey & the Handcuffs Part 1 of The Ruby Chronicles
Ruby Daniel is a 30-something widow trying to get by in a small backwoods Northern town in the 1950’s. Her chicken farm is failing, and she takes a weekend job as a barmaid at an illegal drinking establishment run by a crooked police officer, hoping the extra income will allow her to keep her farm and raise her kids.
When her crude and offensive employer plays an embarrassing prank on her, Ruby gets revenge with the help of her mother, whose devious tactics and unrestrained glee in the details of retaliation leave Ruby in awe, and a little fearful of the woman who raised her.
This comedic short story will leave you laughing out loud and cheering Ruby on, as she learns that standing up for herself can sometimes backfire, but revenge really does taste sweet – and an indignant mother is a surprisingly fierce force to be reckoned with…
Ruby has gotten used to me writing down everything she says, now. She even seems to be looking forward to reading all the stuff I’m making up about her, if I ever get it printed and bring it over. I hope she still feels that way once she reads it.
Contrary to what I told Mushy in a recent email, Ruby just turned 82 a few weeks ago (I had added a year on – and she wasn’t altogether too impressed with me when I told her that, either). Her stories have made a big difference in getting me writing again. My own mother will be 83 in October, and I’m working on getting stuff out of her, too.
I’m able to visit Ruby more often than my mom, though. Ruby’s just up the street, and full of stories as she is, sometimes it’s the one-liners that she comes out with that make my whole day. I’ve gathered up a few to share. I don’t know if they’ll turn into “Landlady Stories” or not, or if you’ll find them as comical, but they sure struck me funny, as Ruby herself would say.
“He wasn’t really a dwarf.”
“Donkeys aren’t very obliging animals.”
“I can crawl around out there and stick ’em in the ground, I guess.”
“I’d be scared to try it (Pot). I’d get addicted.”
“I wish I could get in and out of the bathtub as easy as I can get in and out of that truck. I got stuck in the tub. Twice. Once was on New Year’s Eve, and by the time I got myself out, I was pret’near too tired to go out.”