Monday, April 25, 2016

A Platform on Which to Stand




Gladys leapt from the bed and made her way to the closet she shared with Matilda.   Being the little sister she often got her older sister’s hand-me downs, but not her shoes.  Matilda was a good four sizes bigger than her foot wise.  No she wasn’t four foot taller but wore a size eight and a-half where Gladys had a little foot and barely wore a size five.  She was diminutive.   Not in personality or energy but in stature.  Gladys and Matilda would talk their older brother Buck into driving them to the most fashionable store in town, Grigsby’s Rag Doll, that’s where Matilda’s clothes were purchased.


The Rag Doll was where all the cool girls shopped.  It was upbeat and smelled like leather and Dr. Pepper.  The sales clerks were cheerleaders and in Gladys’ eyes rivaled New York models that landed on the cover of Seventeen.  She would paw through the racks wishing something in the store would fit her, but it never did.  Matilda on the other hand could find a skirt or a top that was just perfect.  She would ask the clerk to put it on “hold” and then we would go home to beg Nurse Meme to go buy it next payday.  Matilda would use logic on Nurse Meme.  She would tell her what a good deal it was and of course she would share it with Gladys when she got big enough to wear it.  Gladys would agree and nod along with the argument Matilda made as to why said item was a good purchase.  Not thinking that she might be 50 before it would fit her.  It didn’t matter, someday she would get to wear whatever it was that was the need of the moment.  Gladys would argue that it was for both of them, that they needed said item or they would simply die of embarrassment for wearing the same old shirt, sweater, dress etc.  even though she rarely if ever got to wear the item.


This cool spring morning when Gladys made her way to the shared closet she didn’t see the green K-mart skort with the matching yellow top or the Kenny’s sandals she saw the cute outfits that were not her size.  There was no Marsha Brady jumper with the polyester wide lapel blouse hanging there, at least not in Gladys’ size.   She could live with that.  She could live with the homemade bell bottom pants Nurse Meme made her because the store didn’t sell them in her size.  She was used to things not fitting.  She would watch with envy as Matilda pulled on her Dacron blouse and her polyester pants carefully choosing a sweater vest to coordinate the pieces.  She would spray her Straw Hat cologne and then carefully apply her Maybelline mascara carefully separating each eyelash with a safety pin to get just the right starburst effect on her blue eye shadowed eyes.     She copied and imitated each movement of her older sister, trying to achieve that same look.    She would look at her unruly hair and compare it to the perfectly straight hair of her sister with just the right amount of curl on the ends.  How did she do it?  So perfect all of the time. 

She could live with all of that.  She could live with the fact that her sister was athletic, pretty and popular.  She could live with the fact that she could wear clothes from the cool stores.  She could even live with the fact that her sister was cheerleader material.  What she couldn’t live with was that her sister had a pair of Baretrap sandals.  They were all the rage.  Matilda had gotten a pair of Moxie’s  and a pair of blue suede lace up shoes that perfectly matched a blue velvet dress she wore to a banquet and though envious Gladys was okay with that.  It was the Baretraps that did her in.  Those brown three buckle wooden souled platform sandals the thing Gladys coveted. 
So on that spring morning when she went to the closet she didn’t see the plain old little girl sandals waiting for her but instead saw the Holy Grail of shoes.  She sat on the floor and slid her foot onto the cool wood sole and pulled the ankle strap as taught around her ankle as possible she grabbed the door handle and pulled herself up onto the shoes.  She stood a little straighter and a whole lot taller perched on top of the platforms.  She felt as if she were at the top of Mount Olympus.  She stood there in her shorty pajamas with her hair sticking up all over her head and decided she was going to borrow her sisters shoes and wear them to school.  She turned to tell her sister and promptly fell off of her platforms and right on to the floor. 

She landed with a thud which cause Matilda to stir from her place on the bed.  “What are you doing” she yelled at Gladys.  “Nothing” Gladys replied and again she stood and shoving her feet as far into the shoes as she could without sliding out the bottom she tried to walk toward the bathroom.  She took one step, then repositioned her foot back into the shoe and then tried to take another.  She was able to take two steps then three and then she hit the floor again.  She didn’t try to get back up this time.  Instead she removed the shoes from her feet and threw them at the closet.  Frustrated and jealous she stormed into the bathroom to get ready for school.  In her mind all she could thing was dumb old shoes.  I didn’t want to wear them anyway.  Now I have to wear my stupid little girl shoes.  I’m never gonna be cool.  I’m never gonna be glamorous like Matilda. 

Matilda appeared in the bathroom door “did you throw my shoes” she asked as she bent to brush her teeth. 

“Yes” snapped Gladys in reply

Matilda turned mouth foaming and cinnamon odor of Close-up toothpaste filling the room and said “well before you walk in someone else’s shoes you better make sure they fit.” 

Gladys learned a lesson that day and many times thereafter.  It isn’t always as glamorous as you think it’s going to be to walk in someone else’s shoes and that if the shoe doesn’t fit, it isn’t the shoe for you.



Thursday, April 14, 2016

Would You Rather?

Remember playing that game Would You Rather as a kid?  You know the one.  Would you rather eat a bug or touch a snake?  Would you rather walk on hot coals or pet a snake?  I would choose whatever didn’t have to do with being in the vicinity of the snake.  I have a phobia of snakes and would rather set my hair on fire than see, be around or especially touch a snake.  My friends and family always made sure to put snakes in the rather because they know how I feel about snakes.  I mean really I understand snakes are a necessary evil.  We would be overwhelmed with rodents if it weren’t for snakes.  I get it.  They serve a valuable purpose but please just let them do it far away from me.  I digress.  This is not about snakes, or rats or even being a kid.  This is about Would You Rather.

I have an autoimmune disorder. I won’t go into details other than I’ve had it most of my adult life and yes it’s a real illness.  I won’t call it a disease because that sounds icky and curable.   It is one of those illnesses that you can’t see.  I don’t walk with a limp or have huge sores all over my body.  It is invisible.  Believe me, just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.  It causes extreme fatigue.  The kind of fatigue that makes you feel like all your energy just ran out your toes and spilled into a puddle on the ground.  You want to bend over, gather it up and put it back in your body but you can’t because you are just too damned exhausted.  Your body aches like you’ve been on a three day drunk and you are trying to sober up.  It is as if you have the worst case of flu you’ve ever had times one thousand.

 You don’t always know when it will flare but you can bet it will be at a most inopportune time.  Standing in the check -out line at Target you will feel a wave of exhaustion and then you are unsure of whether you can make it to the cashier before your body gives completely out and you will need to be carried out like a sack of potatoes.  Those of us who are experienced at this know the only thing to do is apologize to those around and abandon your cart and head for your car, where you sit until you can gather the energy to drive home.  You leave a contrail of your energy as you go.  Sadly with your energy so goes your cognitive abilities which means you must concentrate very hard on driving which drains more energy.  It is a vicious cycle the more you concentrate the more energy is expelled and the more energy you expel the more fog you create in your brain. 

During these flares you tend to play the Would You Rather game.  Only instead of would you rather ride an elephant or swim with stingrays or some fun activity you play would you rather take a shower or make breakfast.  You only have energy for one activity and you make these choices based on where you are in life.  You rationalize I took a shower two days ago, so I can make breakfast today.   Or you tell yourself I ate yesterday so I can shower today.  Yes, really.  You are really that fatigued.   You play this game with yourself all day long. 

 I say fatigued because fatigue is different than being tired.  Fatigue is wanting to do and go and be but you physically are unable to muster the energy.  Tired is from lack of sleep, or exertion.  The kicker is you are tired because you don’t sleep.  The fatigue keeps you from sleeping which feeds the exhaustion which exacerbates the fatigue. Not only are you fatiqued but you are tired and exhausted which makes your fatigue much worse.   This is a feeling that is deep in your bones and consumes your soul.  You try to read a book or watch a movie but you can’t follow the plot because it takes too much energy.  It is not depression or laziness it is fatigue. 


What’s your Would You Rather have an autoimmune disease or pet a snake?  Hand me that snake.  

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Professional

The doorbell rang and I checked the peep hole.  Outside stood a non-descript man in a ball cap and sunglasses.  I had second thoughts about opening the door.  I knew what this man was.  He was a killer plain and simple.   I sucked in my breath unlatched the deadbolt and opened the door. 
He said nothing just stood there with me looking at my reflection in the mirrored glasses.  Then he cleared his throat and said “Are you Gladys?” 


Nervously I nodded the affirmative as I looked up and down the street to see if my neighbors were watching.  “He’s over here” and motioned for him to follow me.  We entered the side yard and I closed the gate behind us again scanning the street. 

The man in the mirrored glasses chewed on a straw as we quietly walked to the back patio.  I motioned for him to be quiet and I put a finger up to my ear “Can you hear him?”

The man nodded the affirmative and crept the rest of the way around the house to the back patio.  I stayed back not wanting to watch what was about to take place.  Yes I had contacted him, but I really didn’t have a choice.   It’s amazing what people advertise on Craigslist.  It was difficult making the call but I knew my relationship wasn’t going to work.  I knew that he had to go.  The dogs didn’t like him and if they were younger they would have chased him down and killed him themselves.  I had tried to do the deed.  A little poison here and there, but I was afraid it wouldn’t kill him and then where would I be?  Besides what if one of the dogs got the poison and not him?  So I had called a professional killer.  There I admit it. 

It was so quiet.  What was the killer doing?  Had he already finished?  I couldn’t stand it anymore so I snuck around the side of the house.   There he stood on the hill above the patio his weapon of choice perched above the bastard waiting for him to make his move.  He stood waiting for what seemed like a lifetime and then he relaxed and made his way down the hill.  “Ms. Gladys that ain’t just one gopher you’ve got here.  That is a whole gopher village.  I’m going to have to treat the whole yard.  This might take a while but we guarantee complete eradication.” 




Yes I am now an accomplice to a gopher massacre, but I’m alright with it.

Great green globs of greasy, grimy gopher guts,
Mutilated monkey meat.
Dirty little birdie feet.
French fried eyeballs swimming in a pool of blood

And me without my spoon

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Remembering to Remember to Tell You About Not Remembering


Memories, pressed between the pages of my mind
Memories, sweetened through the ages just like wine
Quiet thought come floating down
And settle softly to the ground
Like golden autumn leaves around my feet
I touched them and they burst apart with sweet memories
Sweet memories


Getting older is not easy.  You walk into rooms and forget exactly why you are there so you turn around and walk out only to remember why you went in there but then forget when you return to the room.    I call it What did I come in here for Bingo. 

I watched  a movie not long ago that made me cry.  Even though I wasn’t as bad as the character in the movie, my memory is not what it used to be. I can’t remember the name of the movie but it was with that actress.  What’s her name?  Red hair, pale complexion and that guy was in it.  You know that guy that was on that show with that other actress who is really funny.  Anyway, the search for words and names  is frustrating to say the least but the realization that you can’t remember what you needed when you are standing in the aisle of the supermarket and missed appointments are all down right maddening.  Some memory loss is normal in the aging process and some is a product of our environment.  Our phones remember the numbers of our friends, doctor’s and favorite take out places, our computers send us reminders of birthdays and anniversaries and then of course the television never lets us forget important holidays.   Really it should be easy to remember things since we don’t have as much to remember.


Still things fall through the cracks.  Some of us, meaning me, have big cracks in our memories.  We have chasms, grand canyon sized chasms where things fall never to be heard from again.  This abyss is where most of my important information seems to be drawn like a dust bunny up a vacuum.    
Let me be clear here, we are not talking about dementia or Alzheimer’s, no it’s more like CRS, can’t remember shit.  It’s  a fog that comes on and no matter how hard you fight to get through it you are stuck.  Stuck in memory fog.  You know you know why you came into the kitchen but can’t see it through the brain fog.  Like Tom Hanks in Joe VS The Volcano, a brain cloud so large that you think maybe it’s time to buy an awesome set of luggage and become a human sacrifice. 


Exercise your brain the experts say.  Take a class, learn a new skill, get a hobby to challenge your brain.  Since I do what I’m told I enrolled in a class.  A psychology class that studies, you guessed it, memory.  I signed up.  I made it through the first few lectures and my first assignment was due in a week.  Then it happened.  I went into that room and couldn’t remember why I was there. 

I forgot that I had an assignment due.  I forgot that I was taking a class.  I forgot I was taking a class on memory. 

Memories, pressed between the pages of my mind
Memories, sweetened through the ages just like wine
Memories, memories, sweet memories
Memories…  


If you need me I’ll be luggage shopping, I hear there is a Volcano God who needs feeding.