If I’ve learned anything in my life, it’s this; sometimes you just have to say to yourself, “Well, I guess this is what my neck looks like now.”
Today I was smiling because I wanted to, and not because a stranger said I’d probably be really pretty if I did.
As a younger woman, to be famous was what I wanted. Now, it’s to grow vegetables.
In a cottage by the water, with a mop of graying mermaid hair, I shall write silly stories, tend my garden and talk to tomatoes.
A feral tabby will lounge on the porch, ignoring me, and never come inside because neither of us wants that, and then slip away at the darker stage of twilight to do whatever it is that wild cats do.
I’ll drink red wine from a mug and gaze at the moon and do it all again the next day.
I’m terribly fond of our mailman. He always has a smile, asks about your day, and addresses everyone in the complex by their given name. It feels very small town and comfortable in this sometimes-lonely big city.
We all adore Jamie.
Occasionally, on my afternoon walk, I’ll see him on a different block in the neighborhood. He’ll give a wave and yell, “Hello, Miss Rebecca!” or if a parcel gets delivered while I’m out, “I left you a present.”
If three days pass and Jamies not around, it does not go unnoticed. A low-grade panic sets in and my 70-year old neighbor, Jackie, and I will start trading texts and worrying that he may have gotten a new route and what if the little dude with the enormous straw lifeguard hat takes his place. The one who never makes eye contact and just carelessly lobs packages at your door without thought or backward glance.
Then the next day, like magic, he’ll reappear. “Well, look what the cat dragged in.” I’ll say casually like we barely even noticed he was gone.
That’ll teach him.
Recently one of my neighbors started giving him a bottle of Gatorade a few times a week. So yesterday I gave him a banana.
“I’ll see your high fructose corn syrup, Nancy, and raise you potassium.”
I’m not romantically interested or jealous, I just don’t want him to like her better than me.
In my early twenties, I was dating a comic who was a few years older and still lived at home with his family.
For a road comic that’s not unusual since you’re gone all the time. Seems silly to pay for an apartment where you’ll rarely ever sleep, even if you can actually afford the rent.
My things were at my mom’s place in Texas. I’d stay there when not traveling around the country in my Canary Yellow Pinto, telling jokes from behind chicken wire for gas money.
Now why, you may ask, would there be chicken wire?
So that we wouldn’t get hit with beer bottles.
And why would I do a show where someone might throw a bottle?
Because it paid fifty dollars.
It was nice being at my mom’s because we could hang out and I was able to live and eat for free. It was quite an advantageous arrangement for us both, regardless of what she might have to say on the subject.
Although I love my mother dearly, alas, I wasn’t “in love” with her (don’t feel bad, she knows), unlike my boyfriend who definitely had an Oedipus Rex thing going on with his.
It felt creepy and hurt my feelings to always come in second to his mom, but I tried to be a good, mature girlfriend and overlook this since he was super- hot.
Whenever the disturbing “Why can’t you be more like my mama?” stuff would rear its freak head, instead of voicing my concerns or getting angry, I’d deal with it by shoving down the rage and letting it eat away at the lining of my stomach, the way the good Lord intended for us to handle conflict.
But, as with most troubling things in life, there comes a point when enough is enough. A time when both your pride and leaky gut tell you, “That man gots to go.”
We were working a week together at the comedy club in his hometown. Instead of staying in the luxury of his childhood bedroom, we opted for the hotel provided by the club. One night after the show, while lying in bed, he let me know that he’d like for us to go to his parent’s house the next day so that his mother could put make-up on me. Wasn’t this a lovely idea? And, she was happy to do it, because they’d already talked about it of course.
But of course.
Ever wondered if it’s a good idea to tell a woman in your bed that you’d like your mom to give her a makeover?
Now you know.
I would’ve preferred to crawl into bed wearing a rubber Richard Nixon mask with her picture paper clipped to it.
Well, as you can imagine…This and that, back and forth, blah, blah, blah.
I ended the relationship shortly thereafter. No regrets on my part. Life lesson learned. This will happen when you love a man you can never truly have because he loves a woman he can’t have since she’s already married to his father.
For several weeks now I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night with the same bad song on rotation in my brain.
Not sure what time it happens because I refuse to check. That’ll just lead to a headcount of the hours already slept and then how many are left until I have to get up, and all the while Look Away by Chicago will be the dreadful soundtrack.
Around week two and a half, worry began to set in. Why was this happening? I’d lie in the dark wondering if perhaps it was some sort of a psychotic break, but then comfort myself by saying if it was I probably wouldn’t realize it because pretty sure if you’ve gone mad you don’t know you’re mad, you just are.
The next morning I googled psychotic break. I’m fine.
Since the song is about some heartbroken dude who can’t stop crying and doesn’t want his ex to know, but yet all he talks about is the goddamned crying, I thought maybe it might have something to do with a past relationship.
Unfinished business mayhap?
Maybe I’d hurt someone terribly and this is my “Tell-Tale Heart” karma where, instead of the beating of a murdered man’s heart coming from beneath my floorboard, I’m being tortured by a power ballad.
Probably not. Although that would be cool.
Intellectually I realize that on a subconscious level the repetition of the song most likely represents the repetition of my days being quarantined. And, the fact that the song is shitty means I’m finally ready to rejoin society.
People frequently mistake me not talking as me listening. It’s why I’m a good bartender. That, and I can mix a martini so delightful you’ll be tempted to ask for my hand in marriage but please don’t.
My first “real job” after getting off the road was at a neighborhood Italian place in Los Angeles County. It was a tiny white building with giant red awnings that shaded the front windows. A billion twinkling Christmas lights covered everything like English Ivy while empty Chianti bottles, from their perch on the window sill, peeked out from beneath as if to say, “What the fuck you lookin’ at?”
When I called to inquire about the position, a woman with a thick, unrecognizable accent answered the phone. My guess was Russian. For some reason whenever I can’t place an accent I immediately assume the person is from Russia. They rarely are. I also sometimes think people sound like Count Dracula, which isn’t a country or an accent, and usually not correct either.
The dining room felt warm and lived in, like a grandma’s house, the air heavy with smells of garlic, freshly baked bread, and an occasional whiff of mildew.
It was decorated by the owner, Tony, who enjoyed gluing stuff to the wood-paneled walls. My favorites were an old Army shovel and the right half of a broken beer mug. Inside the mug was imprisoned a tiny clown wearing a top hat and playing the accordion. He stared straight ahead with a big smile on his face that didn’t quite reach his cold, dead eyes.
I totally feel you, buddy.
The ceiling, was painted light blue like the heavens, with cotton candy clouds and half-naked cherubs flying around playing the harp. Directly above the bar was Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam, exactly like in the Sistine chapel, except for God’s disproportionately long index finger and Adam’s downtown area which looked disturbingly lobsterish, or lobster-y, or however you’d say his junk resembled a lobster.
A large antique mirror covered the back wall, and with the soft red and amber glow of Tiffany lamps, the ambiance was a combo of an old west saloon and a house of ill repute.
I learned a lot working that bar. Most notably, I look amazing in brothel lighting.
It’s true what they say about folks treating their bartender like a shrink. And, I guess if you think about it, it makes total sense even though it doesn’t.
Six days a week at 4 p.m. I’d open the doors to find my regulars impatiently waiting to get started drinking and bending my ear. Sometimes they’d knock on the front window in hopes of being let in early. You could hear them all the way in the kitchen where I’d sit and pretend I couldn’t hear them.
By the way, no judgment if you need a cocktail in the afternoon. It’s a little too early for me but I get it. Besides, pretty sure that 4 o’clock counts as 5 o’clock and if it doesn’t then it should.
Once a customer asked Tony if we had a restroom, to which he replied, “No. We shit in the street.” That job was a good fit for me. Although, I stayed way too long – as one will do when hiding from whatever it is that one is hiding from.
Most of the pressing issues my crowd wanted advice about were just common sense things. Stuff adults should know and it really annoyed me that they didn’t. A fact that was never hidden and also, unfortunately, didn’t seem to be a deterrent.
My sage advice was usually along the lines of “Grow up and pull your head out of your ass.”
Perhaps not the guidance hoped for but I suppose is what’s to be expected when a disenchanted comic is your bartender, and your bartender is who you’ve chosen as a mental health provider.
Much of my day is spent at the kitchen table periodically staring out the window. My apartment, in this tiny 16-unit complex, is on the second level and sits at the end of the 15 steps it takes to reach the top floor. I’m aware of how many stairs there are because I count them whenever going up or down. It’s not OCD, just seems like information I should have in case there’s an emergency or someone were to ask.
My view is of the courtyard, which reminds me of the one from the 1990’s soap, Melrose Place. Only without the pool, wealthy neighborhood, and good looking tenants. But we do have wild jasmine that grows in the spring and summer, so that’s cool.
From my perch, it’s possible to see and hear all the comings and goings without being spotted. Which I would find disconcerting if it was someone other than myself lurking in the shadows.
Fortunately, I’m harmless just curious.
And, if I’m being honest (which I am, cause why wouldn’t I be?) I’m not really looking to see, just looking to look. Killing time and daydreaming.
My computer is on the dining table which is why I’m also there. It’s where I like to write, or pretend to, depending on which way the wind is blowing.
I never sit at my desk. I’ve tried but it reminds me too much of school or a job. Nothing will ever get accomplished if I feel like it has to.
A kitchen feels good and familiar. Plus, that’s where I keep the food.
Once I watched as an older neighbor was taken away in a body bag. He’d only lived here for about a week and we never met, but it was still sad.
What I’m waiting to see is someone tumble down the stairs. Not because I want them to get hurt but because it just seems logical.
For 17 years, I’ve seen people carelessly bound up and down with hands in pockets, wearing flip flops, arms full of laundry and talking on the phone that’s tucked between their shoulder and crook of their neck, and yet not one face plant or even anything close.
It makes sense that at some point this lucky streak will come to an end.
Since I have nothing but time these days I’d like to see it when my theory is proven correct.
I’ll keep you posted.
Below is a challenge that’s been making the rounds on social media for a while. I’ve been tagged a few times and have always removed it as frantically as if I’d been hacked and hardcore porn was posted on my page and, to make things even better, the day before I’d finally accepted my mom’s friend request.
ChallengeAccepted #24hrs If I tagged you, don’t disappoint me. If I didn’t tag you, please, no offense. I tried to choose people I thought would make this challenge fun!! Too often, women find it easier to criticize each other instead of building each other up. With all the negativity out there, let’s do something positive! 🌟
Upload 1 Picture of yourself… just you!!!! Then tag so many beautiful women to do the same. We will build ourselves, instead of tearing us apart. 💋💙🥰
copy and paste…
Here’s why this is awful.
Now, although I do appreciate the irony of saying let’s build each other up, while simultaneously tearing each other down in the same breath, these negative “women hate women” stereotypes are stale and detrimental. Especially to girls and young women and is definitely not my experience.
My life has been full of fierce, brilliant women who are supportive and loving and badass.
Yes, let’s celebrate and empower each other! But that ain’t what’s happening here, folks.
I know, I know… it’s just a silly FB challenge so who cares, right?
Everyone should, that’s who.
If you’re a woman, have a daughter, a mother, a sister, wife, girlfriend, friend or have ever met or loved a woman, things like this should matter to you.
It’s full of heterosuggestions and propaganda (finally, I get to use the word propaganda. Goddamnit that’s sweet).
It’s ye olde divide and conquer, if you will.
I’m not saying a stupid social media challenge was written by some dude in a black helicopter trying to pit women against each other so men can take over the world. But I’m also not not saying it.
How will we (if you’re a human, I’m talking to you) ever build a world of equality and love if we continue to perpetuate these tired clichés?
That’s the point.
I was in the third grade when my parents split up and we moved from a small town in Texas to a Texas town not quite as small.
Our departure was swift and unexpected for everyone, except my mother who executed her escape plan one afternoon while my father was at work, and got us out of there as smoothly and safely as if she were a member of the S.W.A.T team rescuing me and my brother from a hostage situation.
The three of us moved into a two-bedroom duplex that my grandparent’s owned and where my great-grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Robert See, lived in the adjoining house.
The See’s (sadly not the ones of the See’s Candy fortune) were Quaker tenant farmers from Illinois who had come to live with my grandma and grandpa when they got too old to work the farm.
Robert, my great-grandfather, was in his 90’s. Tall, gangly, always wore a cardigan, work boots, and pants slightly too big which were held up by a belt and suspenders. Every afternoon he’d get his cane, don a fedora, and slowly take a walk around the block.
My great-grandmother was eleven years his junior although you could not tell. I really loved her even though she wasn’t very nice or warm or at all grandma-y. She also was not a big fan of my brother but did have a soft spot for me. So at least she was smart.
To be fair, there were always windmill shaped ginger snaps in her cookie jar, which was bright yellow and looked like a beehive. I realize cookies are a grandma thing, but they were ginger snaps so I do believe the latter may cancel out the former.
She always prepared three meals a day. Breakfast, lunch and then usually breakfast again for supper.
Thornton was my great-grandma’s maiden name. Her great uncle (not really sure how many greats before uncle) was Matthew Thornton, the dude who signed the Declaration of Independence. Which, I guess in a way that makes up for the lack of a candy empire that I should be running at this very moment. Because it’s my birthright. Even though it isn’t.
Matthew was the last of 56 people to sign this document. Better late than never. Which happens to be a motto I have also adopted in my life and is a trait that obviously runs in our family.
She went by Lula but her full name was Lula Lavina, which she hated, so I enjoyed trying to make her say it.
“Grandma, what’s your name again?”
“You know my name.” she’d say sternly with a half-smile.
My mother was an emergency room nurse and since those were simpler times when it was perfectly acceptable for a father to not help feed or clothe his children, she also had several side hustles to support us including working the medevac air ambulance, despite being deathly afraid of flying (something else that runs in our family). Since she was usually working I spent a lot of time on my great-grandparent’s side of the duplex.
They didn’t talk much but would sit beside each other on the love seat holding hands, doing crosswords, and resting their eyes. I would sit in a chair across the room with my nose buried in a Harlequin romance novel and dreaming of escape.
The days were quiet and seemed endless.
After my grandpa See passed our routine didn’t change at all. Except now it was just me and my grandma and the quietness.
I’ve been thinking about them a lot lately and that time in my life as I sit here and the days seem endless. Maybe it’s silly but that’s okay. It’s what you’re supposed to do when the universe gives you time to reflect and get your shit together.
Do what you have to do and feel what you need to feel until things return to some semblance of your normal.
Until then I’ll read, rest my eyes, miss my grandparents, and occasionally, I will have breakfast for supper.