Day: July 27, 2016

Accidents and Angels

 

(Writing from July 22, 2010.)

The day or so before the car accident, around 2 weeks ago, I felt the hand of my guardian angel on my back. A soothing weight, like the hand of a parent on the back of a child.

I turned around to look, because I thought it was my husband.

Nothing there.

I fell asleep, mildly unnerved.

This has only happened to me once before, when I was a little girl.

I was lying in bed, on my stomach, one knee up, one arm under the pillow, like I still sleep.

I felt the hand on my back and peace washed over me. I felt safe.

When I turned around to see what I assumed would be my mom resting her hand on my back, there was nobody there.

I didn’t feel scared. Which seems odd. But I didn’t.

I always remembered the experience. It stayed with me.

I don’t know if I believe in life after death, God, ghosts or any other such spiritual things, simply because I don’t think anyone can really know the truth, but I don’t not believe, for the exact same reason.

And deciding that one’s particular completely unprovable existential theory is the correct one seems arrogant and delusional to me, at best.

So I have never bothered with pondering our human existence, because trying to answer unanswerable questions just seems like an exercise in pointless frustration.*

Just not my cup of tea. My brain drives me crazy enough with constant questions I might actually be able to eventually answer. I don’t need to clog the valves with sticky futility. The engine might explode.

But I love the idea of a guardian angel watching out for me. I really do.

There is a classic old painting of a guardian angel watching over two kids that always brings tears to my eyes when I see it.

I once wrote a song containing the line, “Sometimes I see the angels protecting me in the corner of my eye.”

After I felt the angel hand on my back recently, I put that line in the Facebook “Say something about yourself” box, below my profile picture. A nod to my angel(s).

I was scared to tell my husband about it, because firstly, I don’t want him to think I’m even more crazy than he already does, and secondly, because I was scared it meant I was going to die soon, which really just proves my first concern a little bit, now, doesn’t it?

A few days later, I was sitting at a red light long enough to be staring forward, waiting for it to turn green, when a guy suddenly plowed into my car from behind, doing at least 50 MPH, without braking, according to a witness who saw the whole thing.

I’m still hurting 11 days later, but I’m walking. I’m here. I’m lucky.

So thank you, my guardian angels, if you’re reading this. I just wanted to put it out there in writing.

Because I’m crazy.

Crazy, with good intentions though, damn it.

My mom called me the morning of the accident, around the time of the accident. She was suddenly worried about me, all the way from the Western part of the country.

I told her she must have felt the “I want my mommy” vibes I was shooting her way when I was in shock for 15 minutes after the violent impact.

I never got the first message she left, but she called again 2 hours later because she was worried.

My mom calls me once a week, and we weren’t really due for our weekly call, she just had a feeling.

Isn’t that cool?

*One exception: The Ancient Aliens TV series on The History Channel. LOVE. IT.

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Cat Salutations, Pee Bottles, Birkini Shame and Car Salespeople

(Writing from July 23, 2010.)

I waved at a cat this morning, as I drove home from dropping my son off for the last day of his summer swim camp.

I did it impulsively. It crossed the road and I waited for it to reach the sidewalk.

It stopped and stared at me as I drove past.

So I waved at it.

Smiling. Waving. At a tabby.

I then realized that if anyone was watching me, I would look a bit slow, or crazy, and became self-conscious. I laughed out loud at myself. I felt stupid.

Was I expecting it to wave back?

Maybe.

***

Every morning for the last few weeks, I have noticed the same plastic soda/pop bottle of what appears to be urine. It has been discarded on the road and continues to languish in the gutter, in wait of the next urgently full bladder, I suppose.

More than finding it disgusting, the bottle of pee perplexes me.

I realized today that the bottle of pee is upsetting because it triggers a disturbing chain of thoughts in my brain.

Whenever I see a bottle of pee, I run through all of my unanswered questions about bottles of pee.

And I really don’t want to have my very own mental series of questions about bottles of pee.

These questions mostly involve the mechanics of capturing the urine.

(Capturing the urine kind of sounds like a euphemism for something else, like chasing the dragon, doesn’t it? No? Just me? Okay.)

When capturing the urine, does a man place the head of his penis into, or merely against the plastic bottle?

Does he press hard and form a seal, leaving a red ring on the tip of his member, or does he just try to aim well from a few inches away?

If he can fit the penis into the bottle, does he do that in the name of quality control and reduced splash potential?

If he can fit the penis into the bottle, does it feel good, or does it scrape his penis in a painful manner when he withdraws?

If it did feel good to place his penis into the bottle, and that caused him to become erect while inside of the bottle, would it grow painfully tight, forcing him to think repulsive, erection-reducing thoughts in order to remove the penis from the bottle?

Would one of those repulsive, erection-reducing thoughts involve bottles of pee on the side of the road?

Isn’t he worried he will fill the bottle, be unable to stop mid-stream, and soak the surroundings with urine?

Why can’t these guys just stop and take a quick whiz next to their car like a normal person?

Or better yet, why can’t they just find a restroom like a normal person?

Who is in such a hurry to get anywhere that they can’t even stop their vehicle for the thirty seconds it would take to piss between two open car doors on the side of the road?

And are people in cars doing it too, or is this only a truck driver thing?

Are these pee bottlers taking pleasure in knowing they are grossing people out with the Number One bomb they will soon be tossing out the car window?

Is this purely a male phenomenon, or do women like to pee in bottles too?

Would a woman have to buy one of those “big mouth” soda pop bottles with a wider opening in order to perform this feat?

Do only Pepsi products offer the “big mouth” option?

Or would a glass pickle jar work better for a woman seeking a container in which to pee?*

And so on.

I hate that fucking bottle of pee.

***

I read a story this morning about Muslim women being thrown out of a pool in France for wearing “birkinis” while they swam. Here’s a link to the article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/7904645/Two-Muslim-women-thrown-out-of-pool-for-wearing-burkinis.html

Here’s a picture of a “birkini”:

All I could think while I looked at this picture is, “I would look so fat in that birkini.”

Isn’t that the saddest thing you’ve ever heard? It’s a garment designed for modesty, and I still wouldn’t be caught dead in it.

But seriously, head-to-toe electric blue spandex? NUH-uh. No way.

***

My husband and I are going car shopping this afternoon. He gets off work around noon on Fridays, so we have a little window in which to look for a car until the kiddo is out of camp.

He went to a few dealerships to look for cars last night after we put our son to bed.

He works in sales for a living and has a degree in acting (surprisingly useful), so he loves to mess with pushy salespeople. Actually, he loves to mess with anybody he can.

He was test driving a car with a salesman, and the guy was listing the features of the car while my husband drove.

He mentioned that it had a latch inside the trunk to allow a person to open it from the inside, should they become trapped.

My husband said to him, completely monotone, no smile, “Well, I’ll have to remove that immediately.”

The guy smiled and said, “Good one.”

My husband held the unhappy face and said, “I’m not kidding.”

The salesman laughed uncomfortably.

My husband said, “I’m wearing sunglasses. You can’t see my eyes. I’m serious.” And kept frowning. Tension. Nervous mumbling from the guy.

My husband is 6’5″ and 200+ pounds. I should mention that.

He finally broke and smiled, told the poor fellow he was kidding.

I wish I could do that to people.

My first instinct is to alleviate the psychological strife, try to smooth over any uncomfortable situation to make everyone feel better. The Grand Enabler.

I could learn a lot from my husband the actor.

Happy day to you.

xoxo.

*I think I could make one of those larger Aquafina water bottles with the wide mouth work if I had to.

Alaskan Cruise, June 2010

During the first week of June, David and I had an amazing vacation on an Alaskan cruise. It was our first vacation together ever, and since we never had a proper honeymoon, we decided the cruise counted as such.

The ship started in Vancouver, and first traveled to Icy Strait Point, a charming little town that many describe for cruise patrons as a taste of “real” Alaska, as opposed to the more touristy cities of Juneau and Ketchikan. Having visited all three cities, I believe this is an accurate description.

Icy Strait Point has a population of around 800 residents, and we were informed that our ship was bringing over double the number of people to this lovely town. They allow only one ship per day to visit, and I really hope they keep this rule firmly in place, because it would be a true shame to turn such a genuine, ruggedly natural place into a slick, tacky tourist trap.

Cruise ships are not allowed to dock directly, so a smaller boat took people off the cruise ship to shore 25 or so at a time. From this little boat, we saw a bald eagle casually sitting on a post that reached out of the water near shore. Wow.

When we got off the little boat and walked onto the pier toward land, I was absolutely elated by what I saw. It was such an adventure, being able to explore a beautiful new place like this one. I haven’t had a lot of adventures lately that don’t involve childcare, or more specifically poop, so I was understandably in heaven.

I dreamed of seeing whales on this trip, as I have wanted this most of my adult life, and David and I immediately checked out the excursions counter. We were told that all of the whale sighting trips were full.

As much as I wanted to see whales, David and I both loathe the idea of structured, busy vacations full of places to be and appointments, so despite the warnings of many that the excursions fill up quickly, we refused to pre-book activities for this vacation. Upon realizing that I might miss my potentially once-in-a-lifetime chance to see real live whales, however, I started to doubt my “keep the relaxation in a vacation” philosophy.

We still had Juneau and Ketchikan ahead of us, however, so I brushed aside my crestfallen whale-missing thoughts, as we decided to take a walk.

Walking along the shore a few minutes later, we noticed people excitedly pointing out across the bay at something moving.

Whales! There were two whale spouts blowing water into the sky and two humpbacks skimming the top of the water! I couldn’t believe we were just standing on the edge of the ocean, watching whales swim by. It was surreal.

This happened multiple times as we walked along the shore. Whales were popping up all over, no excursion needed. I don’t know if it is always like this at Icy Strait Point, or if we just accidentally had perfect timing, but it was absolutely magical. I can’t believe people actually get to live in a beautiful wild place where they see whales every day. Incredible.

As the edge of the shore turned into forest, David and I found a nearly deserted nature trail that we wanted to hike, so off we went. The idea of stretching our legs after a first day spent mincing about a crowded ship was irresistible.

The trees and plants were big and tall, and the dark forest made us feel like we were on another planet, or a vampire-filled tween movie set. Everything was shady and cool because the trees formed a canopy overhead that blocked out the sun. Green, mossy fallen logs and enormously twisted tree roots mixed with prehistorically-proportioned ferns to give everything a lush, exotic feeling. The forest felt like a secret.

The path was covered with gravel, edges delineated by weathered railroad ties. It was very rustic and not even a bit touristy. I think everybody else must have been out on excursions because we only saw 4 people along the entire trail. If you ever go to Icy Strait Point, skip the World’s Longest Zip Line and head straight for the nature trail. I think I stored up a reserve of inner peace while walking along that trail that will last me for years.

After our hike, we decided to have lunch at one of the two restaurants, going for the one advertising fresh fish and local beer. We had fish and chips in mind, and fish and chips we got. The food tasted so much better than usual because the fish was fresh. A brazen crow begged among the wooden picnic tables for scraps as we ate outside on the patio, watching people walking along the pier, and whales swimming past our anchored cruise ship in the harbor.

Icy Strait Point remains a happy snapshot frozen forever in my mind. Of all the places we visited, it was far and above my favorite place.

We spent the rest of the cruise drinking in the cruise ship martini bar, dancing in the club with friends, watching movies in our room every day simply because we never have time to watch a movie uninterrupted at home, watching Dall’s porpoises looking like like miniature orcas as they swam in groups along with the ship, eating like little piggies at the assorted free buffets and restaurants, and just relaxing.

There were two formal dinners, so we got to play dress up in cocktail dresses and suits (I wore the cocktail dresses). The food in the formal dining room was okay, but the highlight of my dining experience, and possibly the entire cruise, happened one night while I was sitting at our table, facing the back window of the ship.

Our nightly seating arrangement placed our group (i.e. all of the lovely people from David’s work) at the back of the ship, near a floor-to-ceiling window. This meant that as we dined every night, we could look out over the water and watch the sun setting. I don’t know if David’s company paid extra for this seating, or if it was just a happy accident, but I sure did appreciate it. Best seat in the house.

At some point during a meal, I was seated facing the window, looking out over the wake of the ship at the scenery going by. The person across from me was talking, so I was paying attention, my head focused up in that direction, rather than down on my plate. I saw an entire humpback whale leap out of the water, about 200 feet away! I shouted, “Whale!” and pointed excitedly behind the ship.

Everyone at our table turned in time to see the gigantic splash and the tail of the whale going under. Then we all saw the spout blowing water into the air. So they believed me. But nobody nearby except for me saw the dark blue silhouette of the bumpy, gnarly humpback framed against the dusky-orange evening sky.

Because of this, David and I decided that whale was intended just for me. A little gift from the universe, because seeing a whale was the only thing I truly wanted from this vacation, and I definitely put my request out there. Add that moment to my collection of forever mental snapshots, and thank you for listening!

In Juneau, David’s company bought an excursion for our group that involved riding behind sled dogs through the forest, in a golf cart converted to a land sled for the occasion. It was a blast–what a wild ride–and the puppies were adorable.

The cities of Juneau and Ketchikan are both very tourist-oriented, with shops and restaurants dominating the scenery. I am not much of a shopper, so these didn’t really do it for me. I am pretty sure that people who actually live in these cities probably avoid the tourist area and roll their eyes when they talk about trying to drive through there. I felt like part of an annoying group as I walked along the crowded streets lined with jewelry shops, but despite this, I still really wanted a ring to commemorate the trip. We’ve been married for five years, and I thought it would be nice to get a honeymoon ring as a souvenir.

We found the perfect ring in Ketchikan. It’s silver, and the gemstone is called ammolite, made from a gorgeous multi-colored, iridescent fossil (ammonite) found predominantly in Canada and Alaska, so it seemed appropriate. It reminds me of a primary-colored version of my birthstone, the opal. Plus, you know how I love my happy rainbows. I adore my new ring and it hasn’t left my hand since our vacation. You can read about it here if you’d like: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ammolite

The Hubbard Glacier was gorgeous and we got a very rare warm day, according to the ship’s captain. I couldn’t believe how aqua and teal-colored some of the ice looked. There were chunks of glacier ice floating all around the ship, and everybody was up on deck for hours while the ship anchored as close to the glacier as we could safely get. It was breathtaking.

The only bummer of the vacation was that David got sick a few days in with a nasty respiratory virus. I managed to catch the bug toward the end of the week, which blossomed for me into something vicious and unshakeable, as is the usual modus operandi of my lungs. I was sick for 3 weeks upon our return home, and it took two sets of x-rays and rounds of different antibiotics to shake it. Stupid lungs.

I don’t know what we would have done without David’s parents, who happily watched our hyperactive, lovable-but-exhausting little boy for a week straight so we could have the first extended break from parenting since his birth four and a half years ago. We are so lucky and blessed to have them in our lives and Miles is so lucky and blessed to have such wonderful grandparents.

I was also relieved that Miles didn’t seem to have too much trouble dealing with our week away. When I talked to him on the phone, I was expecting it to be psychologically brutal, to the point that I wanted to avoid doing it because I knew that if he was crying and begging me to come home on the phone I’d be an emotional wreck the rest of the trip. But when he got on the phone, the first thing he said to me was, “Hi Mommy! Are you having fun?” Whew.

We talked a little, and I made sure to remind him that we were bringing him presents to keep him in a positive place. At the end of the call, we said “I love you! Bye!” in cheerful voices like it was no big deal. See you soon. Nice chatting with you. I had a lot of trouble agreeing to go on this vacation and leaving him for an entire week, so his handling it well was a huge relief for me.

All in all, a great vacation, and I picked out a few pictures for you, below.

Vancouver was the first thing we saw, riding the bus en route to the ship:

Professional shot taken as we boarded the ship, and our first picture on the balcony of our cabin:

Icy Strait Point:

Having goofy fun in the cruise ship dance club:

Juneau dog sledding time:

Gussied up for the first formal dining date:

The Hubbard Glacier, as seen from the top deck of the cruise ship:

Ketchikan, and our ship docked at Ketchikan:

We spent one evening having Dave and Tawni time at the ship’s martini bar, which was creatively named “Martini Bar.” This is where I found my alcoholic holy grail, the drink to end all drinks; the Fresca Martini. It involved vodka, fresh watermelon juice and crushed fresh mint, and if you are ever on a Celebrity cruise and don’t try this drink, you are a damned fool. A fool, I say! Also, what is not to love about a martini glass that stores an extra half martini in the base? Yum:

I will end with a picture that helped us find our room many nights after a few drinks. We deemed this unknown person “Russian Lady Corey Feldman,” and as our cabin was a few doors to the right of this picture, we would say to the other, “Just look for Russian Lady Corey Feldman,” to find our room (Corey Feldman: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corey_Feldman).

I became quite fond of our navigational guiding star, Russian Lady Corey Feldman, and could occasionally be seen kissing my hand and using it to place a gentle kiss lovingly on the forehead of Russian Lady Corey Feldman, much to my husband’s amusement:

She’s a Little Runaway

I laid low for a little while, on my best behavior, after the social worker came by the house. The thought of being sent back to the small town Missouri high school of 400 after attending the exciting Arizona high school of 4000 terrified me. I had a new set of friends that I wanted to keep, even if I only got to see them at school.

I was no longer grounded, not that it mattered much, since I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere anyhow.

There had been no mending of the relationship between my father and me. As my bruised face healed, my pain was forgotten by the adults in charge. After a trip to the dentist to fill in the chipped portion of my front tooth with composite resin, all returned to outer normalcy (if you didn’t count what my father had deemed my “whorish” blond hair). Minus the physical reminders of the fight during which he punched me in the face repeatedly, we moved forward without discussing the incident, as if it had never happened.

There would be no family therapy sessions, no psychological counseling, like in the After School Special television shows. In our family, when abuse happened, we did the sociological equivalent of a cartoon character emitting a “just minding my own business” whistle and sidestepping uneasily out of the room. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

I had my gym bag packed with clothes and all of the money I had ferreted away to date; around forty dollars. The plan was to ask to spend the night at a good friend’s house. If I was denied, I was running away. Because I was never allowed to go anywhere, I was pretty sure I would be running away.

I’d had it. I was angry about being beaten up. I was angry that nobody cared. I was angry that I didn’t get to have a social life and was expected to spend my teenage years friendless, in the middle of nowhere. I was just plain angry, and I wanted to do something bad to the people who were making me feel this way. It really was that simple.

A therapist would probably call it a cry for help, but a more accurate assessment would be that it was a middle finger. Fuck you. Fuck you, you awful, kid-punching people who never let me be a teenager or have any fun. Fuck you, I’m leaving. Oh, and also: fuck you. Did I mention that?

That morning, I asked my father if I could spend the night at my best girlfriend’s house. He said no, as expected. I left the house with a goodbye yelled down the hallway, so that my gym bag would not cause suspicion. I walked the usual route down the dusty gravel road to the bus stop and rode it to school, just to get out of nowhere-land and into the city.

When I got to school, I walked off campus. The girl who had been in accelerated classes and the gifted program her entire life was now resigned to not graduating from high school. I didn’t even care. I was so unhappy with my life; I couldn’t stand it in my desert prison with the guy who’d beaten me up, even one more day.

I wandered around the city, getting further away from the school as the day progressed. I worried my father would send the police to the area, looking for me. What I didn’t realize in my naivety was that he had as much reason as I to avoid the police. The police would ask his teenage runaway daughter questions with ugly answers that painted him in an unflattering light. He never called the police.

Foolishly thinking I would need a disguise, I bought a hair dye in a grocery store to change my white blond hair to a burgundy red. I grabbed a bag of on-sale bread rolls while I was there. I ate a few and gave the rest of them away to a homeless person in a Phoenix alley.

I found a bathroom and changed my hair. The violent incident that led to my eventual running away from home was set into motion by the bleaching of my hair, and the irony of now putting it back to a more father-friendly color to evade the police was lost on me.

After school hours were over, I found a pay phone and called my best friend. She told me about a party that night and we arranged a meeting place where she would come get me. Nothing else to do, I headed that way.

The party was in a cheap motel room. It was being thrown by three older military guys with a penchant for high school girls. The bathtub was full of ice and free booze, and the dimly lit room was packed with illegal deeds. A boom box sat on a bedside table, blasting the latest rock. It was sweaty, crowded, and overpowering. The smell of teenage pheromones was louder than everything.

The party tapered off into the late hours, and as high school curfews slowly eliminated the crowd, I found myself wondering where I was going to sleep.

One of the older guys throwing the party had latched on to me. We were drinking and talking, sitting on the edge of a bed, which would have seemed like a dangerous idea if the same bed hadn’t been used as a crowded couch for the last few hours. It seemed benign enough to an ignorant young girl who had no idea what he really wanted.

He pounced fast, kissing me roughly. I didn’t want to kiss him, not at all. I looked around wildly for help as he pinned me to the dirty motel bed, but the room had cleared. There was nobody left but the two of us. He had been waiting patiently for this opportunity, placating the stupid drunk teenager with small talk and alcohol.

Outside the room, I could hear talking in the parking lot as people said their goodbyes. I could hear cars starting, engines revving, and help leaving.

While he was sucking on my neck, giving me the kind of red marks I would despise the rest of my life, I was trying with all of my strength to push him off. I had moved from not attracted into completely repulsed by him, but I couldn’t make it stop.

He was a big guy, and muscular from the military training. He wouldn’t budge. I started to get genuinely scared, as I let myself think the frantic, horrified thought I’m sure many victims have had: “Oh my god, I’m about to get raped.”

This was how it happened. This was how girls got raped. I was saying, “No. Get off of me,” and he wasn’t listening. At all. But I didn’t want to get raped. I needed a new approach.

My whole life I have had a really calm mind in moments of extreme pressure, and this was one of them. I quickly assessed the situation and decided to psychologically outwit this bastard, if I could.

I stopped struggling and saying no, and acted like I was into what was happening. I kissed back. I used my hands. I convinced him that I wanted it as much as he did. I just needed to earn his trust and get him to lower his guard for one second, because there was no way I was getting out of the situation otherwise. He was just too strong.

Once I’d sold my desire enough, I told him in my best husky, oversexed voice that I thought we should both take off our shirts. He temporarily shifted his weight off of me while he sat up to pull his T-shirt over his head. I made bedroom eyes and pretended to start taking my shirt off too.

This was the chance I’d been hoping for, probably the only one I was going to get. I shoved myself out from underneath him while he was off-balance, and ran for the door to the motel room. I knew that if I could just get outside to yell for help, I’d escape.

I made it outside, with my potential rapist running thirty feet behind me. He was shirtless and angry. I spotted my best friend across the parking lot, exchanging phone numbers with a guy she’d been talking to all night. They were in front of his car, getting ready to leave. I ran as fast as I could in their direction.

When I got there, I said in a low, whispering voice, “Help me, please,” right before the guy I’d left in the motel room bed caught up. I said overly loudly to them, “I just realized I’m late for my curfew! Can you give me a ride home?”

My friend and the guy she was talking to both understood immediately what was happening and hustled me into the car, amid protests from my pursuer. We kept it really chipper and friendly, exclaiming things like, “Hey, thanks for the party!” as we drove away. We left him dejected and annoyed, standing in the parking lot.