Wednesday, March 12, 2014

They called it Chocolate Sin.

Last weekend, I drove Clay’s hearse downtown just ahead of an ice storm. I parked it on the street and hurried into the auditorium of The Woody Guthrie Center just in time to catch the end of the last song of the show. I had hoped to be there earlier, but I was glad I did make it in time to meet up with Robin. I’m not entirely sure how long we’ve been “internet buddies,” but after years-n-years, we finally got a chance to hang out in-person. Clay’s exact words were “Go hang out with Robin and get your writing mojo back!”

I don’t know what happened to my “writing mojo,” but I think it slipped away somewhere between “got a job that didn’t involve fiddling with a computer all day” and “lost My Dad.”


I was a kid who almost always felt like an outsider, I have grown into an adult with a serious appreciation for acceptance and inclusion; when a guy from the band asked Robin if she’d like to come to dinner with them, she said sure and then turned to me. I don’t know if she had any idea just how loud my heart sang when she asked if I wanted to come along. These are the friends I always give thanks for, the ones who can hook their elbow through mine and take me with them into the inner circle of fitting in. She took me with her, to a restaurant for dinner, then to a bar for an amazing dessert, and I was so sad to have to leave — but I had to drive home where everyone else in the group only had to walk back to the hotel; when my phone said “freezing rain,” I knew I had to make my way back to the hearse and get going.

I’ve lived here all my life, I went to college downtown in the late nineties, and I’ve worked out of an office and a warehouse downtown for almost three years now… But… I went out the door of the bar and took off walking, but my sense of direction went worthless and I ended up walking a lap around the block in the freezing rain and then back to the front door of the bar just as everybody else from our group was coming out. Whups. When I finally found the hearse again and put on my heavy coat that had been in the seat the entire time, I thought it was never going to get warm, so I ended up scraping the windshield with my expired ATM card. A total stranger stopped on the sidewalk and pulled out a card of his own to help with the passenger side.

The whole evening renewed my faith in humanity, and maybe, just maybe, brought a little bit of my “writing mojo” back.

So, let’s write a bit, hmm?

Several years ago, I thought I was pretty close friends with him, with his dad really, but with him too… I don’t know what happened, there wasn’t an argument or falling-out, I just ran into him one day and suddenly there was hostility where there once had been caring. Not too long ago, I saw his name in the newspaper, just that he died, no details there, those would have to come from the small-town-grapevine. He ended his own life, and his dad was the first to discover what had happened. I cannot imagine things hurting so bad, life feeling so awful, that making a permanent exit seemed like the best idea. It’s heartbreaking, and I also cannot imagine finding the body of a loved one; my heart breaks for them both.

Even though we’d lost touch, and I don’t know what happened to our friendship, I only have my suspicions, he still crosses my mind every now and then. What makes someone decide to make that one particular day their last? What makes someone decide it’s the last time to get out of bed, the last time to eat breakfast, the last time to step out into the sunshine, the last time to shake out the keys and start the car?

I can’t say I’m anywhere near “over” losing My Dad, we all thought he was on the mend. I feel like he was thinking he was on his way to having a little more time, a few more years. I don’t think he’d planned on the Goldie’s hamburger steak being his last restaurant lunch. He changed a flat tire on his truck the last day before he got sick, I don’t think he planned on that being his last time with a wrench in his hand.

My old friend was close to my age and just wanted to leave. My Dad was seventy-five and wanted to stay longer, here with us.

My husband posted a link on Facebook yesterday, and this line really hit home with me: “When you get to that point of anger, or hurt, or even disgust, use a song like New Clothes, or a smell like lilac, or the taste of Katie's Pizza with sausage, mushroom, onion, shrimp and basil, or a Bob Ross sunrise, or the feel of sand in your toes to jar you back to the place where you need to be to fight your battles. Because it's not just ammunition: it's reaffirmation of a life worth living.” It’s from an article that his friend Greg Klyma sent to him. Oddly enough, I remember meeting Greg Klyma the friendly guy in the lobby, but I have a hard time remembering much of the music that he played that night. In my defense, he was opening for The Gourds that night, and it was my first Gourds show so I was a little starstruck.

Take a minute and experience things… Just be…

And please, God, don’t let that be my last dinner with Robin. Or dessert at Zin. Wow, that was amazing.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

But he did drive away…

Sometimes it's hard to believe I've had this job for a whole year. It really has turned out to be a great fit for me; I have only one tiny complaint, but I'm sure that situation won't last much longer, so I won't get into it here. (Dude, I know what "Dee-Oh-Oh-See-Eee-Dee" means.)

I move trailers, and I work alone. Not a hundred percent alone; I pick them up and drop them off at staffed locations, and I sometimes encounter folks who want to "be helpers," but mostly, I work alone, and it seems to work quite well for me. I climb into the truck at 7:30 AM, I start a little earlier than the aforementioned staff; so usually at least once a day, I get to pick up my first one before anyone else arrives to start their workday.

As I've grown more experienced, gotten more practice at what I do, I've been less worn-out and grunged-over at the end of the day -- I don't get home dying to get in the shower every day like I did those first few weeks, and it's nice to be able to just take a shower in the morning because I feel better through the day that way. Sometimes on Saturdays, I'm a little less up-tight about that whole morning shower thing. Like I said, I work alone. Heh. Sometimes on Saturdays, I just get out of bed, put my bra, jeans, and shoes back on, and stumble out the door to grab breakfast on the way in; then I work the day thinking about how great it'll be to take a shower and go out to dinner with clean hair…

That's pretty much what I did last weekend; I came home Friday night still looking decent enough to go have dinner. I got up Saturday morning and went back to work with previous-day-hair and clothes, something I certainly wouldn't do if I were working in an office or going anywhere near "out in ordinary public." For what it's worth, I don't usually smell bad at the end of the first day, but at the end of the second, hoo-boy…

Anyway, the incident I can't get out of my mind happened early on a Saturday morning, so I wasn't smelly yet.

I'm almost always alone in my high-ridin' three-quarter-ton pickup, in the morning (or sometimes the night before), I get a list of places that need trailers. I show up with an empty one, find a place to park it, and unhook from it. Then I back the truck up to the full trailer; often I can get it lined up in one or two tries, sometimes I have to move the truck just a little tiny bit more to get the ball under the trailer. Even though this truck sits much higher off the ground than the half-ton I learned with, I can still feel where it needs to go, I can still keep my left foot on the ground and use my right one to work the pedals, right hand on the wheel, left hand securely on the door handle so I don't wipeout and end up on the ground if something slips or goes wrong. Nothing has gone wrong yet, with God's Grace, even though I can't sit my right hip in the seat like I did with the old Ford back in the day. After I hook onto the full trailer, I pull it away from its spot and find a place to park it, unhook, move the truck, hook the empty trailer back on, back it into the spot where the full one was, then unhook, re-hook to the full one, and haul it away.

So, among those trailer parking steps, which are less than important to this story, I was backing the ball of the truck under the hitch of the full trailer when I saw a red Monte Carlo pull into the parking lot across the street. I don't remember exactly what the business is, but it's a big metal building with a gravel lot next to a big power station, probably manufacturing of some sort, and there were not any workers there at seven-something on a Saturday morning. He drove in there at about the moment I had stopped the truck to get out and see if I'd landed in the right spot on the first try, I was in the driver's seat facing that direction with the car off to my right just a little ways, so I watched for a minute, kinda like an "alert neighbor," because the business was not open. The car stopped, the trunk popped, and the driver's door swung open. I'm not entirely sure what year the red Monte Carlo was, but it was the newer bodystyle, the front-wheel-drive variety of the last few years, not the dirt racin' kind. It had pulled straight in, with the taillights facing me, and a guy got out. He was one of those guys who's probably a small or medium, but he's wearing a 3X white T-shirt with basketball shorts and tall white socks and those velcro slides like for taking showers in places where you're scared to put your bare feet. I watched him get out and go to the trunk, he flipped a green bag over, it kinda looked like one of those enviro-friendly reusable grocery bags. He rooted around in the trunk a little more, then closed it.

I thought through a few situations where maybe I should've been a little more suspicious; the boyfriend who "met someone," the friend who asked me for a "payday loan" in spite of making about five times the money I do, the salesman who reached for my hands and arms way too many times… I got out of my truck and dashed back to peek at the ball and hitch, it wasn't quite there yet, so I backed the truck up just a bit. As i put it in park, he was walking toward me. Out of the parking lot, across a four-lane, undivided street, through the gate, down the driveway, and up to my truck. I wondered if maybe I should've stayed inside and locked the doors.


I keep a hunting knife between my seat and the console in the Mark VIII. I keep the lugwrench under my seat in the SHO. In the seat of my work truck, eh, I have two phones and that's about it. I can't use my iPhone with my work gloves on, and I'm not gonna let some jerk have a chance at stealing my iPhone anyway. I grabbed my work phone (remember flip phones?) and decide not to punch in 9-1-1 just yet; I figured I'd just be ready to flip it open. My eyes landed on the handle of the rake behind my toolbox, so I tossed the phone to my left hand and made sure my right hand landed on the rake. Not a leaf rake, but a more serious steel rake, like for gravel or heavier stuff like that.

He said the car ran out of gas and asked if I had a gas can.

I have a gas can, filled from the City's pumps, but something just seemed suspicious. I lied. "Nah man, sorry, just the ol' work truck, I don't have anything but the trailer tools." Something about the whole deal just didn't feel right.

In all honesty, I only entertain vivid fantasies of beating wrongdoers to bloody near-death; even when I have weight advantage, I most likely don't have any real skills. I'm probably not worth a shit in a scrap, except that I could most likely really keep that rake moving and spinning fast enough to keep somebody away from the sharp parts and therefore away from me. Where it'd go from there, I really don't know, but there I was, he walked up and found me behind a half-open truck door, phone in one hand, rake handle in the other, yesterday's hair may have been a little wild, and yesterday's jeans probably showed the roughness of shoving trailers that last inch or two with my knees. I am not a small woman, but I hope to think I wear it well, I carry enough weight to grab the tongue of the trailer and lean back and make it scoot over a couple inches to land on the ball. I am not exactly "stacked," I'm more of a "sturdy." I've fought hard for every crumb of self-confidence I've got, I know deep-down that I am really only "cute" to a limited target audience.

I'll never know why he stopped and dug in the trunk or why he walked all that way across that wide street to approach me, but I do know that his car was not out of gas.

After I didn't produce a gas can, he went right back across the street, jogging in those stupid velcro slides. He got in the car, drove away, and was gone.

I have no idea what just happened. Did I foil a robbery attempt? There's no cash handled at any of these worksites, unless the folks who work there are holdin' a little lunch money. There's no cash in the truck except for my own purse, which I left locked in the trunk of my car the first few weeks I had this job. Could he have been looking to see what might be easily stolen, now or later on? Could it have been a rape situation? Am I that visibly female across four lanes of street and through a yard and over to the other side of a truck? Did I maybe "not look that enticing" once he got over there close enough to see me? Did he abandon whichever idea because I am butch enough to kick his ass? Any of those ideas might seem mean-spirited because I don't know why he came over to me, but I do know that he damn sure did not need a gas can, 'cause he drove away as soon as he walked back over there and closed the car door!

I still love my job, but I think I'll start putting that hunting knife in my bag so it stays in the truck with me instead of leaving it in my car.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2012

The one where Debbie recommends a book...

One C and two M's, right? I think that's right; recommends is one of those words that always makes me double-check myself.

Quite a while back, how ever long ago it was that Michael's would let us use their 40% coupons for books, I bought a book about two-at-a-time sock knitting. I didn't get around to trying it, but I did finally get around to trying my hand at sock knitting. After a little group lesson, I made a couple pairs with the double-pointed needles, but I could always tell 'em apart. What I like about the idea of two-at-a-time is that they're more precisely alike because they're made at the same time, instead of making the second one while trying to guess how many rows that was by looking closely at the first one.

I really have come along way though; years ago, the first time I read mention of "double pointed needles," I thought they'd have two points for the business end and a knob at the top like regular needles, ya know, a fork would be like a quadruple-pointed needle. Yeah, that's how my brain worked that out.

So... Along with my grocery bag knitting habit, and after a few pairs of socks; the toddler-size pair from the class, a pair for me, and a pair for my Mom, and a rockin' pair of "Ocean" mittens, I have no problem with the double pointed needles. My Mom's socks are made with real-deal sock yarn in leafy fall colors and she loves 'em. My very first pair of grown-up-size socks are sport-weight acrylic yarn, and the colorway reminds me of strawberry Tootsie Roll pops; but the acrylic yarn is super-duper-hot-hot-hot on my feet. I tried to wear them with regular sneakers and I about burned up; but with these socks, I can wear my Birkenstocks in the cold, so that's how I show 'em off.

Distracted (as I often am), I moved away from knitting socks for a little while. Then, my aunt gave me a copy of Melissa Morgan Oakes' "Toe-Up 2-At-A-Time Socks." It took me way too long to get around to trying it out, partly because the cast-on had me confused. Trying to read and imagine wasn't working for me, but once I got out some needles and yarn so I could read and try it, it was a lot easier than I'd ever thought it would be.

I'm about halfway through the ribbing at the top of my first pair, so the finish line is well in sight. I really like the two-at-a-time part, because knitting a round on one sock and then a round on the other just the same really does make them honestly match; the shaping is the same so the fit is the same for both feet. My two balls of yarn must have been different dye lots though, 'cause my colors don't completely line up. I'm guessing I bought those without checking the dye lot numbers because I figured they'd be close enough since the yarns don't touch each other like they would in a scarf or sweater. Whups. I'm telling myself that's okay though.

My other favorite thing about the two-at-a-time toe-up socks is this: No picking up stitches, and no kitchener stitch! Since they start at the toes, the part that requires Kitchener stitching is already done at the very beginning. And the picking up is eliminated, there are just increases and decreases. My picking up stitches just never has looked right, and my Kitchener stitch was such a mess that every time I tried it, I ended up flipping the socks (and the mittens) inside-out and doing a three needle bind off instead. It works quite well and looks just fine; the only tricky part is the flipping inside-out, because you have to make sure no stitches slip off the needles.

Oh, and that "ugh" feeling of having to start the second sock is gone... For me at the moment, it's been replaced by this overwhelming urge to start another pair with that stunning ball of yarn I got at Mayfest.



Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Landmark Visit.

Yesterday, I worked in the office downtown to get a few extra hours. I'm not sure if I have the words for how perfect this job has turned out to be for me. I really do like what I'm doing, I love being in the truck, and when they need me in the office, I like being there too. Yip, the new job (See there? The new still hasn't really worn off yet.) is still pretty cool. About the middle of the afternoon, there was mention of grabbing a snack. I'm a bit of a follower that way, and the last time I followed a coworker to lunch, I got to see the tunnels under downtown -- so freakin' awesome! When she mentioned brownies, I grabbed my purse. We walked out across the plaza, a little way down the street, across a courtyard, and into the tallest building visible in the downtown Tulsa skyline.

The plate of brownies in the glass case looked nice enough, but the cupcakes were beautiful, and since I didn't see any Red Velvet, I decided on the chocolate one with the white frosting. My logic was that the frosting might be cream cheese, or maybe white buttercream, either of which would be wonderful with a big glass of milk… When I said "chocolate cupcake with the white frosting," I saw the girl behind the counter reach into the case and quickly close a cardboard to-go box, but the one unique cupcake I'd had my eye on didn't disappear. I'm not one to complain; a cupcake is a cupcake, and who knows, maybe she had a big box of 'em underneath where I couldn't see. I didn't say anything, I just paid and took off to walk back to the office.

Back at my desk, I opened up the box and it did not contain a chocolate cupcake with white frosting. It was yellow cake with chocolate frosting, and even though it wasn't what I'd had my eye on, it was wonderful. The cake was buttery and moist, and the frosting was oh-so-chocolatey, and by about my second bite, I wasn't sitting at a desk in an office building anymore. I was standing in the kitchen of an old rock house way up on a hill in the middle of nowhere, peeling the foil lid off of a tub of frosting for Dave's favorite cake, yellow with chocolate frosting.

Ten years sounds like a long time when you say it out loud, but sometimes it's like yesterday when Dave comes back to pop in on me like that.

Ten years ago yesterday afternoon, we'd argued over the exhaust on my Pure Stock. He'd cut it off way too short the night before, and he was working in the barn when I went to pick up the other set that still had the long pipes on 'em. When I told him I was switching it out 'cause his cuts were too short, he got mad as hell and yelled at me. I'm sure I yelled back, but I did get the manifolds I came for and toss 'em into the truck. I left mad, really lacin' into the ol' sky-blue 7700; "Seven Bridges Road" was on the radio, and I gave it hell in every gear, all the way back to the shop so my brother could swap the parts out.

We fought more than I've ever fought with anyone I've ever been with, but that's just the way we were -- high energy, we both put a lot into it.

He came on up to the shop after closing time, and it was just us, all alone. I really felt like we had a breakthrough that night, me leaning on the rollback, him standing in the doorway. "You want it your way, I want it mine, we're not so different, are we? So there's no need to be so nasty about it." I thought I'd really got him to see things from my side, to stop getting so worked up over piddly shit, and just calm down. He asked me to come home with him that night, so I did. I don't remember what we had for dinner, I don't remember what was on TV, but I do remember that he talked to his parents and both of his kids on the phone that night; we sat on the couch together, and I stretched out with my head in his lap for a little while. He took the first shower, and we kissed in the doorway as he was headed out and I was headed in. He was already asleep when I crawled in bed and pressed my back against his.

He woke me up when he was about to leave for work that morning, ten years ago today. He put his knee on the bed beside my hip and leaned down to kiss me, and then I stretched out in the sunshine under the window as I listened to him drive off down the hill. He called back later and caught me just in time, I grabbed his forgotten lunch from the kitchen and took it to Sperry with me so he could send someone over for it when he got to Collinsville; we talked on the phone a little while after lunchtime, and then that afternoon, a secretary from the city office called and told me Dave had collapsed in the park and they'd taken him to Saint Francis. I tried to answer my phone in the car, I grabbed it too quick to get a number to show on the screen and the call dropped before I could hear anything -- I figured he might be trying to call me from the ambulance and maybe the phone just cut out, so I go there as fast as I could. I put my glasses in my purse because I figured I'd be staying put for the night, if he was staying, I wasn't going to let him stay alone. I snuck my car into the employee garage and hurried across to the ER; the receptionist wouldn't tell me anything, she just pointed me toward the cop in the lobby and he took me into a small flowery room and shut the door.

Ten years ago tonight, a cop held me while I cried, held me while everything fell apart around me; and told me it wasn't that I'd been too late, they'd tried, but he was probably already gone before they left the park.

Ten years only sounds like a long time, it doesn't feel like long at all… I still feel him come around every now and then, like when My Mom slips and says "Dave" when she's talking about Clay. I can imagine him sitting with my Grandma somewhere, or holding a squirming irritated ShadowCat, trying so hard to get him to "play dead," even though he never would.

David Paul, 08/27/51 - 05/09/02

"And I have loved you in a tame way, and I have loved you wild…"


Wednesday, February 08, 2012

The post I've been sitting on for a couple Junes.

I almost talked myself out of writing this, telling this story, then last night I realized just how much space it's occupying in my head, how many moments of inappropriate tears I've fought back. He's not someone who gets to be there rent-free, so I'm getting him out right here, right now.

Last night, I headed into my ever-changing, ever-growing hometown, down the same roads I drove to get to highschool. The car, like all my cars, has a little age on it; I've had this one back on the road since the end of August, and just made the last payment last month. That's part of what I like about the older cars, salvage auction, MasterCard, zero-interest deal, only a year's worth of payments. This is my second Mark VIII, bought gently fender-bendered from the auction in hopes of replacing the one that broke a timing chain the previous Christmas. My first one was sparkly, snowy white with tan leather; this one looked white on the webcam, but it's more of a vanilla color with a little paler shade of leather, different wheels, and the first sunroof I've ever had. I'm taking a while learning to like the vanilla color, but I love that sunroof more than I ever imagined! Life's good when you appreciate the little things…

Just like every time I leave the East side of my neighborhood in either Mark VIII, I eased up to the stop sign and hit the two-button sequence to turn off the traction control just in case I ended up with the chance to shoot for a gap and possibly hang it out sideways in the process. Like every time, I found my gap and even though I took off hard, I didn't take off hard enough to hang it out sideways -- yeah, hi, I'm a grownup. About the time I got moving and headed toward town, I reached for the radio and hit the #1 button.

The radio's memory buttons are a habit that has stayed with me as long as I've been driving. The same stations have been on essentially the same buttons all these years, save for a few changes when stations changed hands or when Tulsa got a classical station. #1 is a station that I don't listen to near as much as I used to, but it's still there. When I hit the button, I figured it wouldn't stay there long 'cause they don't play the old stuff like they used to; usually I just see what's on and if it's some new corporate radio crap, I flip on to the next station. My finger was already touching the surface of the #2 button, then I heard the DJ introducing a song, "The new one from Shinedown, it's called Bully."

Wait, what? Okay, I'll let it play.

"It’s 8 AM, this hell I’m in, Seems I’ve crossed a line again, For being nothing more than who I am."

Shit, here he is again, the FaceBook message, the screen-grab, the blog post I keep putting off, the flashbacks to the anger and the self-loathing; the guy I forgot when I wrote "Bullet List."

And there I was, crying alone in my car again.

I must've blocked a lot of it out, but the message he sent me on FaceBook brought way too much of it right back to the surface, where it's been popping back in on me every once in a while ever since a year ago last June.

He was a year older than me, and we were both in band. He sat near me quite a bit, and he always had something to say about anything and everything; usually involving my clothes or the size of my ass. I think what made him the worst of 'em all was that I really wanted to care, I didn't want to be angry all the time, I wanted to be warm and kind and friendly, not ugly and mean and full of hate all the time. He wasn't just mean like all the others; he'd pull me in and make me think he was going to be nice this time, let me think he'd changed and was all warm and sweet, then he'd say something nasty, even worse than the last time. That led to me not only hating him, but hating myself for letting him trick me into believing he might not be mean anymore. Over and over again, I'd sit through band practice hating myself for letting him trick me again, hating myself because apparently I'm not even good enough to be friends with someone who sits an elbow away from me every damn morning.

I had Jesus in my heart then and might've even offered to share in the warmer moments, but you didn't care at all, you were always mean, always nasty, always finishing with abuse every time. I've carried your words and your meanness around with me way too long, and I'm done now, because I know you never had to fight back tears before you made it to the front of the line at the drive-thru. You may say you're not the person you were back then, but I have too much experience with your words, I don't trust your words and I don't trust you. For the good of humanity, I hope your kids are as "wonderful" as you claim they are, I hope they're not relentlessly harassing anyone who'll end up crying alone in their car twenty years from now. I especially hope you're not just one more jerk hiding behind the supposed goodness of "church people," just lurking in the shadows waiting for one more chance to tear someone else down. Don't worry, The Lord is with me, His Peace is with me, but not because you sent Him to me. He has always been here for me; he kept me from ending up a school shooter, didn't he?

I haven't sent any sort of reply, none at all. I've written it in my head a thousand times, but no matter how eloquent it starts out, it always ends with "and the horse you rode in on."

Yeah, I think that's about it; I've let my thoughts out here because letting them out was what I needed; there's no point in wasting my time on someone who's not worth the hassle of a direct reply. That sums it up best, so I'll just go ahead and say it, "Fuck you, John, and the horse you rode in on."

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Notes From A New Job.

So, a while back, I wrote (eh, vaguely) about a big change.

I also covered an old story and a thrilling moment with the trailer.

In the month or so since, I guess you might say another big change took place.

After I'd heard the words "prollyoughta look for a job," way too many times, I put in a couple applications. Prollyoughta, that's one of those Oklahoma words, like "y'uns." Don't look at me like that, this blog and F@ceBook are the only places I actually use those Oklahoma words in type.

I'd applied for a couple jobs that sounded interesting, but I can't say I was being real serious about the hunt. I didn't hear anything back and none of the people I'd given as references heard anything either. Then one day, I got a phone call from this friend of mine… Probably the best friend I've had as an adult, and certainly the closest guy friend I've got who's never seen any part of me nekkid. (Heh, there's another Oklahoma word.) He was the first person to hand me an iPod to play with, he showed me the magic of microwaved peanut butter as a dessert topping, he made me cry with emailed pictures of brand-new babies, and he taught me how to order my dinner at Taco Bueno, as in "say these exact words," so that I get a whole entire box of just what I want, and it's so good, he'd about as well be a Jedi.

Find your people, you need a friend like that!

So, he calls me with this job offer, and first, I panic and say I need to talk it over with my Mom and Clay… As soon as I hang up, I start thinkin' I'll go for it… I was scared shitless, but I decided to go for it. I wouldn't have had the balls to try something like that from a want ad or a CL post, but since my name had already been mentioned as having experience, I went for it.

It involves moving trailers. It's three ten-hour days. It works out to more money than I was making in the ol' salvage biz.

It's only three days a week.

I get a comfy seat with AC and heat, and I pick the radio station. No retail public. No phones.

No more calling tech support then answering questions about the p@rn on the office PC. No more sharing a bathroom with Teh P@rnhunter.

Those first couple days, I was kinda worried; but it's been getting easier and easier as time goes by.

My trailer-backin' skills are gettin' better and better, like within inches. The in-traffic people-watching that comes with a couple hundred miles a day is incredible.

I already got a raise.

It's pretty freakin' schweeet!


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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Packing Materials and Flashbacks.

I don't think I had a "traditional college experience." I did a little bit of partying, but my well-planned-out weekends were probably nothing; I say "well-planned-out" because I always made sure my car was safely out of the street and I stayed put 'til noon the next day. I only got truly drunk once, all those other times, I still stayed put 'cause I just stayed put. I never showed up at school under the influence, I never skipped classes, I always did my best to not be late…

I still couldn't fit the mold. My Mom still pokes at me about why the hell I didn't get the degree, and I know she'd never understand, so I don't try to explain. I guess they're a tight group that won't let just anybody in; I mean, really, they all loaded up to go to the lake 'cause somebody had a lake house and a sailboat, they all loaded up and went to some bar 'cause somebody played in a band. Nobody wanted to load up and come to the races when I bought my first Outlaw Stock. I just didn't fit the mold. The girl who had the highest grade in the whole program used to have all the parties and mix all the drinks and let us all sleep at her house afterward, she quit, just got sick of it all and quit. The girl who was always falling asleep in classes, she got a degree. The girl who always had gloves on because she was afraid to touch people, she got a degree. I, the girl who brought rollbar padding and zip-ties to a clinical rotation to save a patient's legs from the sharp parts of a power wheelchair, I did not make it outta there with a degree.

I didn't manage to fit the mold. I'm alright with that, except when My Mom brings it up over and over again. I have fun with what I do, I make enough money to pay my bills and I'm not stressed-out all the time, it's good enough for me.

Every now and then, I still think about the professor who "broke the news" to me that I wasn't good enough, because "not good enough" ended up being something I struggled with off and on through my twenties. She had to have a third party present in our meeting that day; the program director couldn't be there supposedly due to having to take her dog to the Vet. She wore a denim vest with worn places under her elbows; the white threads dirty and brown like she didn't realize it needed to be washed every once in a while. She told us about how we needed to "be adult learners," but she almost never made it to any class meeting on-time. One of the people who told me I wasn't good enough didn't even know enough to keep her own clothes clean -- that always helps me remember that good enough for me is good enough; I do have high standards for myself, I am good enough.

I do vividly remember one particular experience with that professor, I had a little flashback to it earlier this week.

After a string of break-in's around here, we ordered a motion-activated camera, which came in the mail. The cardboard box was just big enough to have lots of room, just small enough I could bring it back from the post office on my bike. Inside, the camera and matching memory card were cushioned with those "air pillow" strips of inflated plastic bags, the kind that always remind me of my one shining moment with that professor.

She had unpacked some sort of shipment in the lab office, and reused the box for something else, so she'd stuffed a bunch of those packing pillows into the wastebasket beside the office door. She kept trying to poke them into the half-full waste paper basket, and they kept squishing out because there were so many of them. Their fluffiness made them excellent for protecting things in shipping boxes, but it also made them very difficult to cram into a little trash can. She kept trying though, this supposedly educated silvery-haired adult just couldn't seem to figure out that every time she crammed some in, more spilled over the edge of the container. I watched for a little while, I have no idea how long I sat there and wondered just how much a degree meant, the kind of degree where you get to sign your name with letters after it, just how much could it mean if you have that much trouble with simple problem-solving?

The first pair of scissors my eyes landed on were the kind for cutting bandages, all chrome, thin loop handles, short little blades, with a safety knob on the bottom side. I quietly stepped over toward the trashcan and corresponding pile of packing pillows, and silently snipped a hole in each little pillow, allowing them to deflate and sink into the wastebasket, where they now took up almost no noticeable space.

She looked a little shocked; I'm not sure if it was at the simplicity of the solution to the problem, or the fact that I, a lowly student, had been the one to discover it.

I didn't get a degree, but I learned a lot about how people work.

I don't have nightmares anymore, but I do still remember her every time I unpack a box and find those air pillows.

I don't get to sign my name with letters after it, but I still manage to get things done.

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