Sunday, April 29, 2007

Very Surreal

If I didn't know better, I'd swear I was on some mind-altering cosmic drugs. We were watching an episode of "Whose Line Is It Anyway" (a current love of Offspring's) and what do I see? Stephen Colbert, rapping. What in blue blazes has the world come to?!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Culture Of Fat Strikes Again

I have spent considerable time lamenting (read: complaining) about the perception of fat people in today's society. I have posted several times about the way the overweight are treated, and my reaction to the treatment that I receive at the hands of people who should most assuredly know better.

A lot of people feel that I have no right to complain because I was the one who ate myself into this situation in the first place. Well, technically they're correct, but they don't need to be jerks about it. They were technically correct when they scoffed at all those people who threw "new millennium" parties on New Year's Eve 1999, saying that the new millennium didn't start until January 1st, 2001. *Technically* correct, but totally missing the whole point. And all the fun.

Some of the things that have really bothered me lately are things that most of you wouldn't think twice about. Like being comfortable in a movie theater seat -- you just sit down and enjoy the show, right? Depending on which theater I go to, I have to wedge myself into the seat, and sit in an uncomfortable position. I can never really give my undivided attention to the movie, because I'm always conscious of how uncomfortable I am.

Or, needing a wheelchair at the urgent care clinic. Most of you would just use the wheelchair, and not think further about it. I got a wheelchair into which I didn't fit. Not comfortably anyway. I didn't complain at the time because the discomfort of the chair was superseded by the pain in the foot, and because I was just plain grateful to be off the foot. It's hard enough to be out of commission as far as your own locomotion is concerned, but to be aware that you are going to have to struggle to release yourself from the confines of the wheelchair you're in? A particular sort of hell. Or to have to direct your spouse or child to ask at the desk whether or not they have a "larger size" chair that can accommodate you. Or needing a cast two sizes larger than what you should use because it won't fit around your large leg.

I won't even go into the black hole of depression that is trying on clothes.

But the thing that is bothering me the most is still the attitude of people. "Fat" is the last accepted prejudice. It's still okay to make fun of the fat, even within their hearing. In the past three weeks, I've had: people point and snicker at me while in the wheelchair because I was too heavy for my daughter to push over the threshold of the clinic; a movie theater attendant who "mooed" at me after he thought I was out of earshot; and my own father 'lovingly' ridicule me when I told him about my ankle incident -- I was telling him about how it all went down, and said I turned my ankle, and brought all my weight down on the twisted ankle. His reply was, "And you got a lot of weight to be putting on that ankle!"

I would go on and on about how it's not acceptable to make fun of minorities or the like, but it won't do any good. Most people don't care about offending the fat. They don't care if we are hurt or even if we have feelings TO hurt. They see it as their right -- as a fitting punishment for the weak and for those with no willpower. And I'm getting so tired of fighting the battle.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Still Here

I'm still here, just trying to get back into the swing of things at work after my convalescence. Offspring gets highly tickled to see me clomping around in my aircast boot, and has nicknamed me FrankenFoot.

Stomping around like Lurch on a bender is playing havoc with my left side. Who knew that such unbalanced gait would make the whole left side of the body sore? The verdict of the ortho guy was that he doesn't see a break after all, but when the ligament tears away slightly from the navicular bone on the top of the foot, it dislodges a section of the bone, and can look like a fracture on x-rays. So, in shorter, easier-to-understand terminology: it ain't broke, but it damn sure feels like it. He oohed and aahed over the bright purple hue of my toes and mashed on my left knee hematoma ("big-ass lumpy bruise", for those of you not fluent in medico-speak) a bit. When he heard me gasping for breath like a landed salmon, he mumbled, "That area will continue to be tender for a while. I wouldn't be surprised if the ankle heals before the hematoma does." Yeah. It probably would have healed faster if you hadn't been mashing it like prizes were gonna magically fall out of it at any given moment, Doc. I'll forgive him 'cause he's cute, though.

I'm working on yet another post (rant) in my (seemingly unending) string of epistles (diatribes) on the culture of fat. Prepare to be on vacation when I finally get around to posting it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Thinking Blogger Award

CCW has very graciously awarded me a Thinking Blogger Award! How neat is that? As we may have mentioned before, CCW is like the other half of myself that I've never met. In long discussions, we have discovered that there are so many similarities between ourselves and our families that we are extremely surprised when something *isn't* just alike. CCW is a wonderful lady, and has been both an inspiration and a support for me through trying times. No matter her own personal strife, she is quick with a kind word and a wicked sense of humor that never fails to make my day brighter.

The rules behind this Thinking Blogger Thing are as follows:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme
3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn't fit your blog).

Now, CCW didn't name a specific post of mine, but I will try to tag five specific posts of blogs that I feel have really made me think. And, I'll try to tag people who haven't already been tagged. (What a monumental feat -- it seems like we all have the same blogular friends, and everyone has already pointed out all the most inspirational posts.)

Here are my submissions for Thinking Blogger Awards:

1) Amy at The Texture of Things. This is the best blog you all aren't reading. I "met" Amy through Andrea of Beanie Baby/A Garden of Nma Mmoy during this year's Winter Holiday of Your Choice gift exchange. Amy recently switched to Word Press, and does not have all of her old posts archived yet, but this recent post of hers deals with her daughter's tactile hypersensitivity and shows just what a good, dedicated mama she is, and how she would move heaven and earth if her baby needed her to.

2) Marni at It's a Pug's Life. Marni is a super sweet lady with a heart as big as all outdoors. Marni has been a constant support through the time I've known her, but is firmly in my camp on the issue of weight. This post of Marni's was touching, since she faced a lot of the very same prejudices I faced growing up, and stil face today. Marni underwent gastric bypass more than two years ago, and this past fall, she walked in the Atlanta 2-Day Walk for Breast Cancer! I'm proud to know Marni, and I hope we will be friends for years to come.

3) Miche at aboutMiche. Miche is a very talented woman who always has kind words for everyone. Miche had a post not long ago about a mugging that she suffered through when she was young, and how she had the intestinal fortitude to get herself out of a potentially deadly situation. I admire Miche for not only foiling her attacker, but also for myriad other reasons. Miche always has something interesting to say, and often has me returning to her blog again and again to reread things because they were just so compelling. You all know that I'm a big mouth, and it's not very many people who leave me speechless. Miche is one of those.

4) Yankee, Transferred, who is now contributing at Mixter's Mix. YT is one of the most thoughtful, loving, responsible people I've ever had the great fortune to "meet." She is a force unto herself. She not only adopted two children, she also took into her heart and home another child, and a grown child at that, simply because her heart was that big, and that child was in need. Not many people are that giving and unselfish. To her credit, all three of her daughters have turned out to be well-brought-up individuals who would make any parents proud. She writes eloquently about gay rights and is living proof to the "religious right" exactly why and how gay marriage would work, and why giving the gay community those rights is the correct thing to do.

5) Corndog at Blather.Wince. Repeat. Corndog is one of the funniest individuals I've come across in the blogworld. He was instrumental in leading me to start my own blog. Corndog has gone through some tough times lately, but can still make me smile with just a word. In his many incarnations of his blog(s), I have found so much to think about, and mull over, including his posts about battling depression. I thank him for his contributions to the blog world, and wish him all the luck in the world in his quest for happiness. We'll always be your groupies, Dr. Dog.


These are my choices -- just a few of the many wonderful, deserving bloggers who have helped shape the way I see things. Their contributions have helped me with issues that I face, and knowing them has been to my credit. I am lucky, indeed, to be among such illustrious folk.

Thanks again to CCW for tagging me in the first place. She is my greatest cheerleader, and some days, I couldn't do it without her.

Who Knew Pain Had a Color?

Aren't they lovely? The actuality is that both sides of the ankle are a little more Technicolor and lurid in real life. I was discussing the fact with CCW that bruises don't photograph all that well. These shots were taken Monday night, after the visit to the ortho specialist's office.

Monday, April 16, 2007

More Adventures From Clumsy Land!

I had a perfectly awful weekend, feeling helpless like a baby, unable to do anything for myself. You know you've pretty much screwed your world up when your eleven year old daughter has to "guard" you while you take a sitz bath on the edge of the tub for fear that you will injure yourself even further.

On Friday evening, the orthopedist's office had put me in a sort of half-cast. The nice nurse who triaged me cut off a length of big fluffy bandage, and what looked like a length of white support hose. Nice Nurse then stuffed the fluffy bandage inside of the support hose, making sure to have both ends covered well. She then put the fluffy bandage/hose combo package into a bucket of water and then rolled it up, squeezing excess water out of it as she rolled. Next, she fitted the wet bandage to the back of my leg, shaping it around my heel and the bottom of my foot. She then took gauze and began to wrap this around my leg, starting from the toes and working her way up. When she'd gotten a good layer of gauze, she then took two Ace bandages, and did the same, adding another layer. As the support hose/bandage contraption hardened, it took on all the qualities of an actual cast. Never having had one before, I had always wondered how they accomplished that. Now I know.

So, anyway, I headed back to the ortho office this morning for another evaluation. The "foot specialist" I saw there was a nice young guy who tells me that he *does not* see a fracture, but that sometimes the fractures can be obscured. The x-rays we took on Friday were non-weight bearing ones, since it hurt to even brush my foot on the floor at the time. Doc explains that he'd like to see me back in a week, and we'll try to do some weight-bearing x-rays, which will reveal if there are any fractures that show up with added strain on the foot. Sounds painful, but I can see his point.

Doc pokes and prods at the multi-hued ankle and hums under his breath. I ask him when I can go back to work -- he's not really all that thrilled with me stomping on the foot and getting climbed on like a jungle gym. So, I am to stay at home until NEXT Monday, when I go back in to be re-re-evaluated. He tops this off by having a nice young gentleman named Tim fit me with one of those ultra-classy boot devices. Man, this thing is high-fashion. It's even got four seperate little pumps in various places for extra support. Sort of like your prehistoric pump tennis shoe.

The best thing about the boot, however, is that I can take it off to bathe, or sleep, should I wish. Thank goodness, because the other one itched like crazy, and I just KNEW I was going to be stuck with one for the next six to eight weeks or so, and I had already armed myself with chopsticks to scratch all the way down inside that sucker. So, instead of itchy, I'm just saddled with clonky. At least it helps keep me in the running with those dork points, huh?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

More Evidence That I Am A Total Dork

You know, yesterday was not a good day. Oh, it started off just fine -- I had planned to take Offspring to the doctor to get her updated on her vaccinations for the next school year. Plus, she had never had her 11-year-old well-check, so we were going to knock both of those out and do an errand or two, and then both of us were going to go to school.

It's amazing how things don't work out like we plan for them to.

I was walking on the sidewalk, minding my own business, and I found myself going ass over teakettle. I think my right foot slipped off the side of the sidewalk, turning my whole right ankle in towards my left foot. I fell onto my left knee, which immediately went numb, and I then rolled around in the dirt. I'm in awful pain, and terribly embarrassed. There was a large rock a few feet away, and I managed to haul myself up onto it. My right foot is already swelling, and hurts like the very devil. I lean heavily onto Offspring (who is frightened out of her mind to hear her mother howling in pain) to make it to the car. I drive myself to the emergency care clinic, but by the time we get there, I can put no pressure on the ankle at all.

I ask Offspring to go into the clinic and ask for a wheelchair. No one helps the poor child -- she has to try and open the glass door to the clinic AND manipulate the unwieldy chair all by herself. The staff just sat and watched. Finally, another patient helps and holds the door for her so she can get the wheelchair out. I wedge my bulk into the chair, tears pouring down my face from the pain. The same nice patient holds the door for us, and helps get me into the clinic. At the front desk, the receptionist asks me why I'm there, and I tell her that I fell and I think I've broken my ankle. She hands me all the paperwork to fill out, which I do.

There is no good place for me to sit in the waiting room, so I park the wheelchair near the door in towards the treatment rooms. NOT a good place to sit, because I flinch every time the door swings wide, afraid it will hit my already-throbbing foot. After about an hour, they call me back into treatment, and send me immediately for x-rays. They do three of my ankle and three of my left knee. The left knee is abraded, but other than that surface sting, it's numb. What really hurts is the ankle, which is now purple and looks like there is a halved grapefruit shoved under the mottled skin.

The doctor says she can't see any fractures; I have probably just strained or sprained the ankle. She says they'll fit me with an air cast, and they want to refer me to an orthopedist. The nurse comes back in and tells me that they don't HAVE any air casts, and gives me a prescription for Naproxen, which will help the swelling, and 10 Lortab for the pain. They don't end up giving me anything for pain while in the office, and they actually do nothing to my foot.

I check out at the payment desk, and the nurse gives me the directions to the orthopedist's office, and says that they open after five. I call my husband to come get me, as it is painfully obvious that I will not be able to drive anywhere. The nurse tells me that I can sit in the waiting room until JF gets there, but that she needs the wheelchair back. I don't really mind giving up the wheelchair at this point because I'm very uncomfortable in it. I am too fat for a "regular" wheelchair -- apparently, I need a double-wide.

I sit on a settee in the waiting room with my foot propped up, and read the library book I have stashed in my purse. After a while, JF arrives, and I ask him to get a wheelchair so I can get out to the car. He asks the nurse at the desk, and she tells him that they have no wheelchair or crutches. After a heated conversation with JF which proves that all of our nerves are frayed greatly, we realize that I have no choice other than to walk on the injured foot out to the car. I lean heavily on JF and Offspring, and literally scream with pain. Again, no one helps. None of the staff even move, they just stare at me while I scream and sob with each step. No one even bothers to open the door for us.

We make our way to a drugstore near our house where JF buys me some crutches and puts my prescriptions in. At home, I hobble awkwardly into the bedroom to lie down while JF waits to pick up my medications. After he picks up the prescriptions, he makes sure I have taken a pain pill and do not plan to move in the slightest while he walks four miles to pick up his car. I am not on board with the plan for him to walk four miles on busy city streets to pick up his car, but he is stubborn beyond belief, and I have no energy to argue further with him. I sleep while he walks to get the car. Offspring remains at home to keep an eye out for me, still worried and anxious to see her mother in such pain.

When JF returns, we get me loaded up in the car for the trip to the ortho's office. JF inquires as to whether I will be carsick. (I usually drive everywhere we go, due to my propensity for being HIGHLY motion-sick.) I think the pain in my foot will distract me enough that I will not be sick, and this turns out to be the case. When we get to the ortho's office, JF and Offspring go in to ask whether they have a wheelchair that we can borrow, as I can now put no pressure at all on the foot. Thankfully, they do, and it's a large size. I get into the facility with little problem, and explain my situation to the receptionist.

This after-hours clinic is staffed by a small handful of people -- actually there are more patients in the building than there are staff -- and we can tell there's going to be a wait. We settle in for our turn. After an hour and forty-five minutes, it is now our turn. I'm put in an exam room, and "triaged" by a nice young lady. She sends me out for more x-rays. There is much contortion of the body to get this series of x-rays, and even one instance of hopping about on one foot like a maddened crow to satisfy the radiation gods. I get back into the exam room, and see the doctor, who pokes and prods, and then decides we need a FURTHER x-ray. Instead of sending me back down to the x-ray room, he has the nurse wheel in a lumbering "portable" x-ray machine. He manipulates my ankle (while I scream bloody murder) to try to determine whether or not I actually have a hairline fracture in the upper portion of the foot. He ends up saying that he does think there's a fracture in one of the upper bones, and that he wants me to be seen by a foot specialist. He tells me that the ligaments and the ankle itself are sprained, but that he's not sure about that one bone. He says the specialist may want to do a CT scan on Monday to be certain, and that they will air-cast me until then. The nice young nurse who triaged me wheels me down to the cast room, and puts the air cast on my leg.

After a return trip to the reception desk to pay and schedule Monday's appointment, I am told that I am not to return to work "until further notice" and pending the pronouncement of the specialist. Juggling Freak mentions that I have picked the correct day to injure myself -- after all, today IS Friday, the 13th.

Maybe thirteen *isn't* my lucky number after all. Perhaps I was too hasty in switching my allegiance to number 13. Just my luck. My bumbling, clumsy luck.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Being Southern: A Practical Primer

Stolen shamelessly from Coffeypot, a how-to manual on everything Southern:

There are some great things about being Southern. For example, every Southerner loves grits. It is required, or you have to leave your family behind and move up North. Grits also has a meaning other than pure breakfast nirvana. It is also an acronym for Girls Raised In The South.

Southern Women are made different than those from other areas. For example:

Southern women appreciate their natural assets:
Clean skin.
A winning smile.
That unforgettable Southern drawl.

Southern women know their manners:
"Yes, ma'am."
"Yes, sir."
"Why, no, Billy!"

Southern women have a distinct way with fond expressions:
"Y'all come back!"
"Well, bless your heart."
"Drop by when you can."
"How's your Momma?"

Southern women know their summer weather report:

Southern women know their vacation spots:
The beach
The rivuh
The crick

Southern women know the joys of June, July, and August:
Colorful hi-heel sandals
Strapless sun dresses
Iced sweet tea with mint

Southern women know everybody's first name:

Southern women know the movies that speak to their hearts:
Fried Green Tomatoes
Driving Miss Daisy
Steel Magnolias
Gone With The Wind

Southern women know their religions:

Southern women know their country breakfasts:
Red-eye or Sawmill gravy
Country ham
Mouth-watering homemade biscuits with momma's homemade jelly and butter.

Southern women know their cities dripping with Southern charm:
Foat Wuth

Southern women know their elegant gentlemen:
Men in uniform.
Men in tuxedos
Rhett Butler

Southern girls know their prime real estate:
The Mall
The Country Club
The Beauty Salon

Southern girls know the 3 deadly sins:
Having bad hair and nails
Having bad manners
Cooking bad food

But being Southern isn’t only for women. No, sir! Everyone born and reared in the South is taught many things that baffle the interlopers from the North. It is things only Southerners know, such as:

Only a Southerner knows the difference between a hissie fit and a conniption fit, and that you don't "HAVE" them, you "PITCH" them.

Only a Southerner knows how many fish, collard greens, turnip greens, peas, beans, etc., make up "a mess."
Only a Southerner can show or point out to you the general direction of "yonder."

Only a Southerner knows exactly how long "directly" is, as in: "Going to town, be back directly."

Even Southern babies know that "Gimme some sugar" is not a request for the white, granular sweet substance that sits in a pretty little bowl in the middle of the table.

All Southerners know exactly when "by and by" is. They might not use the term, but they know the concept well.

Only a Southerner knows instinctively that the best gesture of solace for a neighbor who's got trouble is a plate of hot fried chicken and a big bowl of cold potato salad. If the neighbor's trouble is a real crisis, they also know to add a large banana puddin!

Only Southerners grow up knowing the difference between "right near" and "a right far piece." They also know that "just down the road" can be 1 mile or 20.

Only a Southerner, both knows and understands, the difference between a redneck, a good ol' boy, and po' white trash.

No true Southerner would ever assume that the car with the flashing turn signal is actually going to make a turn.

A Southerner knows that "fixin" can be used as a noun, a verb, or an adverb.

Only Southerners make friends while standing in lines; that when we're "in line," we talk to everybody!

Put 100 Southerners in a room and half of them will discover they're related, even if only by marriage.

In the South, "y'all" is singular, "all y'all" is plural.

Southerners know grits come from corn and how to eat them.

Every Southerner knows tomatoes with eggs, bacon, grits, and coffee are perfectly wonderful; that red eye gravy is also a breakfast food; and that fried green tomatoes are not a breakfast food.

When you hear someone say, "Well, I caught myself lookin'," you know you are in the presence of a genuine Southerner!

Only true Southerners say "sweet tea" and "sweet milk." Sweet tea indicates the need for sugar and lots of it -- we do not like our tea unsweetened. "Sweet milk" means you don't want buttermilk.

Contrary to whatever you Yankees have been told, "macaroni and cheese" is a vegetable. Don't ya'll know that mac & cheese goes so well with taters and gravy, you just can't have enough starch in your diet.

And a true Southerner knows you don't scream obscenities at little old ladies who drive 30 MPH on the freeway. You just say, "Bless her heart" ... and go your own way.

To those of you who are still a little embarrassed by your Southerness: Take two tent revivals and a dose of sausage gravy and call me in the morning. Bless your heart!

And to those of you who are still having a hard time understanding all this Southern stuff, ... bless your hearts, I hear they are fixin' to have classes on Southernness as a second language!

And for those that are not from the South but have lived here for a long time, all y'all need a sign to hang on y'alls front porch that reads "I ain't from the South, but I got here as fast as I could."

Southern girls know men may come and go, but friends are fahevah !

Now...... Shugah, send this to someone who was raised in the South or wish they had been!

And, Shugah, if you're a Northern transplant, bless your little heart, fake it. We know you got here as fast as you could.


Big sugah goes out to Coffeypot for posting this, and bless his heart for allowing me to steal it! Also, I have NEVER seen anything more true than not assuming a car with its directional signal on is actually going to make (and complete) a turn. It's more like a red herring, to keep all the other drivers on their toes.

Monday, April 09, 2007

For Love of the Spoken Word

JF found this really great site that gives spoken pronunciations in many different languages. All you do is type in the text that you want to hear, and this cool program will pronounce it for you, even in different accents.

For example, you type in "hello", and then chose which language you want represented. Say I choose "Japanese." Then you pick from the different voice choices in the drop down menu (in the case of Japanese, it's male or female), and then click "Say it!" Very neat.

If you wanted to try French, you have a choice of standard French, or French Canadian.

I love hearing all the rich complexities of the human voice. It's a neat way to check to see if your pronunciation in a foreign language might be slightly off. Or just as a guilty pleasure!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Slip Away

We sat in a booth in the back, and we could hear the wait staff bustling around in the kitchen, including the one waitress who sang the same line of a song over and over: "Slip away, slip away, slip ah - way yay yay yay..." After the fourth repetition of the same line, Offspring smiled faintly, chuckled to herself, and looked back down at her handheld game.

We ate our lunch in near silence, only speaking to order and ask for items across the table. Offspring mostly paid attention to her game. The silence stretched out for what seemed like miles in every direction. Around us, people moved and laughed, and the world went on, but we were an island of silence, as life eddied around us.

"Slip away, " I thought. Yes, it all did seem to be slipping away, didn't it? The feeling of control, the feeling of closeness, all of it. Offspring is no longer the little girl who used to cling to me like a barnacle. She hasn't been for years. Oh, I'm proud of her independence, don't mistake me, but it is still nice to be needed, even if only every now and again.

I look at her face, so dear to me, and I wonder how it got like this. So lonely. How did I get so lonely in a crowded restaurant with my own beloved child sitting across from me? The silence is loud now, like a klaxon. It crashes over me, like waves at the beach, tossing me until I no longer know how to break the surface anymore. It's no longer a question of speaking -- I couldn't, even if I had wanted to. I no longer had the strength to speak. To her, to anyone.

I haven't spoken to my best friend in weeks. She hasn't called me, but to be fair, I haven't called her, either. She's busy with her life, and she no longer needs me. She hasn't for quite some time. Her life no longer has room for me. I don't think it's deliberate, but it is saddening. I'm lonely.

The time is slipping away faster and faster, too. Pretty soon, I'll be forty, and I still don't feel as if I've accomplished very much. Back when I was twenty, I though by the time I was forty, I'd have my act together, you know? I'd be a much more successful person, a much *more* person. I don't know what it is that's lacking. Just a vague sensation of "should have". I should have done so much more. I wish I'd tried harder.

I fill up my days by sleeping as late as I possibly can, and then read and watch TV until the early hours to quell the raucous noise in my brain. I haunt the house in the darkened hours, moving endlessly from room to room. The klaxon grinds on, relentlessly.

April is a bad month for me. I always get the blues in April, though it tends to loom later in the month, rather than this early. Late April marks the date of the rape, and I tend to get more maudlin as the day draws closer. I tend to sink into a morass of self-pity and recrimination. I try to focus on the good, rather than the bad. I try to shut down the klaxon, and the deafening silence. I am trying hard to do that now -- trying so hard to hold on and to not just ... slip away.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

And Speaking of Punishments....

My father told me a story about my childhood while I was with him in the hospital recently, and it got me thinking about memory, and my perception of memory.

The story was of a rocking chair that I had when I was small. To hear Dad tell it, I loved this rocking chair, and would drag it all around the house with me. Dad caught me standing up in the seat of the chair, holding on to the high back, and rocking for all I was worth. He warned me that I was going to hurt myself and to get down. I complied, but once he was out of sight, I climbed right back up and went on rocking like there was no tomorrow. Dad caught me again, and told me to stop, or he would take the chair away from me. Sure enough, he said, I was soon back up in the chair, rocking like the devil was hot on my heels. I fell out, and got hurt, and worse -- got caught. Dad spanked me, and took the rocking chair away, locking it in the trunk of his car for a month. He says that once I got the chair back, that I didn't stand up in it ever again.

Now, I don't remember this story at ALL, though I do remember the rocking chair. But, I wonder -- do I actually *remember* the chair, or have I been influenced all my life by the pictures of my childhood? There are several pictures of me, in that particular rocking chair, and I'm wondering if I have memories of that chair, or if I am just dredging memories up from those pictures?

That got me thinking to what my earliest memories were actually of -- I remember the apartment where we lived before we moved into the house where I currently live, but only vaguely. I remember sitting on the steps, and the big sliding glass door that my mother used to paint with holiday scenes. I had a gigantic toy box shaped like a green frog, which I used to hide in. I remember my bedspread -- my mother painted the dollhouse from the bedspread on the wall, and I would lay in bed, and knock on the door, and have conversations with the little girl who lived inside the house.

I don't remember hardly anything specific about Girl Scouts, but I do remember being one, and I remember that I had the metal mess kit that became a frying pan with a judicious twisting of the wing nut. I do remember being extremely excited to be at Girl Scout camp, and to be cooking pancakes over the fire in my metal mess kit when it began to snow. (It snows about once every seven years here, so this was a BIG DEAL.) I remember traveling to my Grandmother's house in CityOfMyBirth, and riding push cars down the sloping hill in her yard. I remember that Santa must know which years we spent at Grandma's and which years we spent at home because Grandma was secretly Mrs. Claus, and that's why my Granddaddy wasn't around -- they'd told us that he'd died back before I was born, but I remember thinking that he was really Santa, and we couldn't blow his cover.

Just the other day, I took out my baby album, and stared at the pictures for a long time. I ran my hands over the fading colors, and looked at my mother's looping, girlish handwriting in the margins. And I can barely, just barely, imagine the satiny feel of rocking chair wood underneath my fingtertips.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

In Which I Am A Lightweight

My mother is not so much a person as a force of nature -- something elemental that can blow through your life and shake things all around, leaving you all confused and with things misplaced.

My mother is one of those people that *everyone* knows. Either they actually KNOW her, or they've heard enough stories about her exploits that they feel like they know her. She's larger than life. She's always been a character, and I suspect she'll be that way when she's ninety-five. She gets it honest. She tells tales of her own mother that lead me to believe that she's only following the path that her mother forged before her.

When I was in trouble in my younger years, my mother was inventive, to say the least. Mom would sentence me to my bedroom, which did not seem like such a punishment because it was where I wanted to be in the first place. But -- she would remove my stereo, and all my books. I was left with nothing to do but stare at the walls. Or, the few times that she punished me by sending me outside to play? Sheer torture. I was always one of those unathletic, bookish children who cringed when natural light fell across their pasty skin.

On the rare occasions that I was to be spanked for my infractions, I was made to go out to the Queen Anne's Lace bush, and pick my own switch. Woe befall me if I picked a switch too small! -- I got switched with that switch *and* another, more appropriate one. Mom would strip all but the last two or three leaves off of the end, and whip that little sucker across my bare bottom with all the fervor of a fanatic.

And then there were her "subtle" punishments. There was the time when I complained about something that she'd cooked for dinner, and everyone got a full plate, but I got an apple. Or the time that she conspired with my best friend and took out a full-page ad in my senior yearbook, complete with naked baby pictures. Truly *embarrassing* naked baby pictures. I don't even know what the hell I'd done to deserve that one.

I recently had the misfortune to punish Offspring for something she'd done. I have discovered that either I just don't have the kind of practice that my own mother did, or I am just hopeless at this punishment business. Here is where my creativity fails me, apparently. My punishment chops are sadly lacking. This is where I bow to the masters that came before me, and exit stage right.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Hooray 13!

It is time to change my favorite number! We forgot to check the mail yesterday, so Offspring and JF came charging into the bedroom to wake me up this morning with the forgotten mail.

There was a letter from the Honors Academy! She got in, she got in! *Does Happy Dance!* Enough people dropped out that she got a slot!

I'm so glad. I no longer have to worry about her being stabbed with a pencil or beaten up in the bathroom by sixth grade girls that are as tall as me. Or -- I should clarify -- those things could potentially happen anywhere, but there is much LESS likelihood that it will happen at a more academically intensive school.

So now thirteen IS my lucky number!