Sunday, March 13, 2011

Capitalist PEEG

I want so many things I can't afford.

I want to never have to think about paying the rent or an insurance bill or a phone bill or any bill ever again - bitch, take it out of my bottomless bill account and don't bug me. Seriously.

I want to travel to all those places I see on television: I want to watch the sun rise in the Virgin Islands. I want to walk in a soft Irish rain. I want to hike the Great Wall of China. I want a Sherpa to guide me through Nepalese mountains. I want to learn to surf in Honolulu.

I want a wall of amazing guitars and a recording studio in the basement of my airy, sunlit house - you know, the one on a couple of acres out in the boonies someplace? The one with a self-contained cottage a few feet away where my dad can live and be private but still get his meals carried to him by a doting grandgirl? The one with a huge kitchen garden and a chicken coop? Yeah, that one.

I want a Winnebago. Goofy, right? Well, I do. I want to load everyone up on a whim and travel to Yellowstone or Crater Lake or the coast.

I want to select one of my two or three great digital cameras and go take amazing pictures so that each memory I capture is as close to perfect as the moment itself.

HOWEVER, I am so thankful that I have the things I do have.

I am thankful that, with some exceptions, I can pay my bills at all.

I am thankful that in the little round of daily travel I do make I see things of beauty, like Mount Tabor and the cityscape across the Willamette River and the St. Johns Bridge.

I am thankful that I have a little apartment that is a home to my children - and one or two pretty cool guitars, as a matter of fact. I am thankful that, despite our sticky butts that are in love with our sofas, my dad can come see me or I can go see him and it's not a hardship to do so.

I try to remember every day all of the things I do have. I try to remember every second how lucky I am to have the people in my life that I do. I work at being at peace with the small round of small events that I experience every day. And most of the time I succeed, with varying levels of success.

But lord, lordy lord, I sure would appreciate winning the lottery. Oh, yes, this little capitalist is as piggy as they come, I guess.

But I can live with that, too.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Guest Post: MAH BABY

You guys, you guys, my kid is a writer. Holy crap. Here is her composition for English class, called "How It Feels To Be Me." (I've changed names to protect the innocent, and she's going by Brel for the purposes of this post.) Share my joy! (Except the woman part. She's seventeen, so I DISAGREE with the woman part. But I'm a mom. What do you want from me?)

I often wonder what people think of me.

By often I mean constantly.

Constantly means when I'm taking a shower. When I'm getting on a bus. When I'm wrestling my coat into my locker. When I'm putting on makeup in public bathrooms.

Sometimes people say what they think of me, but when I hear it, I often decide they're wrong.

I've heard people call me a bitch. I'm not, though, really. I am a know-it-all, I am bossy, I do complain about people who irritate me. I don't go out of my way to hurt people. I don't talk about people behind their backs. In my little neighborhood between Martin Luther King and Dekum street, I learned better than that. I am not a bitch.

According to some I'm a hipster. After watching “Portlandia” I sincerely hope not. I don't think I have the holier-than-thou attitude hipsters come programmed with, and I don't own any old English riding boots or look good in tiny floral skirts.

I spend most (all) of my time with a group of boys. They spend all their time playing Magic™ and talking about their Dungeons and Dragons™ characters. Looking at my friends, it'd make sense for me to be a nerd.

But guess who isn't a nerd?

I'm not so lost in a fantasy world that I can condone myself blowing off priorities and failing classes. I'm not so tangled up in a game that I allow myself to spend upwards of thirty dollars a week on cards. Where I come from, in a little red house full of brown-skinned abuela and a blonde-haired mama, I learned better than that.

People seem surprised when I say I have Latino heritage. I don't think it's so hard to believe. I've actually found myself in arguments over the subject—“Shut up, Brel, you are not Mexican.” I didn't say I was. “You are not Hispanic.” Yes, actually. “You ain't got nothin' but white in you.” You don't know me.

It's almost worse when people believe me, especially adults. It seems like after the fact is public that I'm Hispanic, people expect something different from me—like somehow my entire self changes because they know my racial background.

Well, where I come from, where half the people around me are white Southerners and the other half Hispanic Coloradans from Pueblo, I learned better than that.

If I'm none of these things, then what am I?

I'm a big sister. If I was asked my best friend, I'd say [redacted] or [redacted] or [redacted] (sorry, readers, protecting the innocent, etc. - M.). If I was asked who I'll love for the rest of my life with no conditions, I'd say my baby sister. In a way, she's also my baby. She's my number one inspiration, second to none. She's made of the same stuff I am, only different—she got more of the Southerners, with her honey hair and sturdy body. She's gonna grow up and be tougher than me, but right now she's just irritating, aggravating, impossible, and the best thing my parents ever gave me.

I'm a woman. I'm not a little girl anymore, but sometimes the veil that separates is blown aside, and I can be both for awhile. It takes a woman to look at a situation and say “Let's make the best of this” and then do it. It takes a woman to run interference between a group of seven teenage boys and three teenage girls. It takes a woman to know exactly what to do when [redacted]'s carsick and [redacted]'s homesick and [redacted]'s just plain sick. Where I come from, kitty-corner from J. and her five kids and their however-many kids, across the street from M., down the street from C., and with a little sister of my own, I learned that.

I'm a singer. I sing in multiple choirs and multiple bands, as well as being notorious at home for loud, midnight-showertime concerts. I know how to croon jazz, I know how to open up and sing opera, I can turn my vocal vibrato on and off. I am in the honor choir at my school, I am part of a family that is held together by music. Where I come from, singing bluegrass while stacking dishes into a cabinet, I learned that.

I'm a Brel. I don't know what a Brel is really, but am I supposed to yet? It sure seems to me that if I knew exactly what I was already, there'd be no reason for me to live.

That's how it feels to be me. It feels like nobody knows, not even me yet, and by the time I've figured out what I am, I'll have lived that definition out. It feels like a book where the end's gone and got lost, and now I've got to go find it. It feels for all the world like I'm alive—and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Friday, March 4, 2011



Tomorrow (well, really today, damn my cursed habit of staying up waaaay too late) I will take my newly-acquired tax refund dollars and I will go to the auto finance company and I will PAY OFF MAH LOAN, SUCKAS! OH, YES I WILL. Thank you, sir, I do not want another!

Then I will call the insurance company and instead of full coverage I will purchase a LIABILITY ONLY POLICY, thus dropping my rates by, oh, a billionty-thousand percent. UH-HUH, THAT'S WHAT I SAID.

Then I will go to the cell phone store and I will buy several months of service for our phone and reopen my older kid's phone account. The happy face I will be seeing when she gets out of school is going to be a thing of beauty and a joy forever.

Then I will go out to my dad's house and pay him back, since he came to our rescue during the holidays, ensuring the kids had a Christmas and we had a roof over our heads (Giftmas 2010 was a real kick in the taint, friends. Oh, yes, it was).

After I get done paying off some other things? CLEAN SLATE, MAN. CLEAN. SLATE.

I can't tell you how glad I am this day has arrived. I can't tell you how hard it has been not to talk about the money and what we'd do with it - one of the truest things in life is that when you spend your money before it arrives, sixty other expenses will burst out of nowhere and mug you, thus making your financial planning a giant joke.

So yeah. I AM THRILLED. Joy is mine. The money won't be mine for more than a few days, but hey. It will have bought me happiness, for reals, and you know? I am more than okay with that.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

March Second

I love and miss you, my mama.

Today is the anniversary of your death. I was watching a show just now and somebody said, "Someday you'll be standing over a rock with your momma's name on it and it will be too late," and I just sprang a leak, silent sorrow dripping down my cheeks and causing one of those I'm-not-crying-no-really pressure headaches.

And it's a weird place I'm in, Mom. I still love you so goddamn much. I still miss you, even though I think we'd have beaten each other senseless several times had you lived into my young adult years. I still wish I had you to talk to. I still think that when you died I lost my very first unswerving ally, a person who, right or wrong, would have had my back without fail, without ceasing, without a question or a qualm.

But I don't hurt as much as I thought I would for some reason this year. I don't hurt as much as I used to. I don't know what that means, if it means I've healed some more or if I'm so numbed and callous that I am a terrible daughter to you and should be ashamed of myself. I don't know.

I just didn't want this day to go by without remarking on the fact that you aren't here. You deserve to be remembered. You deserve to be missed. You were an amazing, talented, beautiful and loving woman. You made mistakes. You hurt me. You were special and funny and I adored you and fuck, you adored me right back and I wish you were still here. I wish you were still here. I really, really do.

So yeah. Disjointed, goofy, repetitive and all, here's my shout to the world that you were here, mama. You were here and now you are not and I wish that wasn't true. Since it is, I do my best to deserve your love and respect even though you can't actually bestow them on me anymore. I am living up to you every day. Maybe, since that is so, I don't need to miss you, since I carry you with me always.

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                            i fear 
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

-E.E. Cummings

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Old Wallpaper: Pants On Fire

I'm not interfering with this post at all except to urge you to note the date of publication and that I was at that time still The World's Most Dissatisfied And Underpaid Office Manager Of All Time Ever Amen. Enjoy - I even cracked myself up when rereading this one.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Pants On Fire

I just want all of you to know that my office is very cold. Very, very cold, all the time. No, really. My office is colder than your office. Full stop, the end. I win forever.

In the summer, the air conditioning is on, and it never gets above 65 degrees in here. In the winter, the heat is set at 69 - such a concession! - and so of course it never gets above 65 degrees in here.

Others in the office don't seem to mind the cold, but I am weak, and wimpy, and thin-blooded, and a smoker, so that when I get up from my chair to do something, there are numerous popping, crackling, and snapping noises. Those noises are my bones, shattering from the icy frozen tundra conditions in this office. I am my own little old-lady percussion system, right in one wimpy, cold body.

I have a little space heater that sits under my desk. In all weathers, in all seasons, my little space heater is on full blast, warming my legs and hips and stomach. Unfortunately, it does not warm my whole person; my back is left out in the howling winds and numbing chill that is this office, as are my upper torso, my arms, and my fingers. So of course to make up for this, I sit as close to on top of the little space heater as I possibly can. I go home at night with legs baked lobster-pink. You can almost smell the frying bacon.

But today I think I went too far.

I am wearing a pair of my brother's Navy uniform pants. (Don't talk to me about it. I know. But he really was very young and skinny when he wore these.) They are comfortable, but they are also some kind of poly blend, which means they retain heat.

So today, straddling my little space heater, as I got more and more absorbed in what I was doing, I didn't notice how warm my legs and stomach were getting. Until the zipper on the pants finally became superheated enough to leave a tattoo of itself on my stomach, and the pants leg tried to heat-seal itself to my shin.

And then I got up, walked outside very quickly, and did a spectacular little dance for the neighborhood, thumbs inside the waistband of muh britches (to keep the zipper away from my belly), legs kicking out (to keep the molten fabric away from my shins).

I realized at that moment that I probably looked just like a leprechaun. A tall blonde leprechaun. On crack. Doing a kicky little dance on the front porch of my office.

I wonder exactly how many people think I'm a big nutbar now?

Oh, well.

You're welcome for the visual.