Nana Learned a Lesson on Thanksgiving…

Sometimes misunderstandings can lead to a lot of grief this time of year. I totally misunderstood something one of my boys said–well actually, I misinterpreted what he said, but let me start at the beginning.  I got off work and got home late on 11/21…Spent 2.5 hours cleaning up the kitchen that one of the boys messed up…No one EVER confesses to such messiness but I did clean it up.  About 30 minutes later one of the boys comes in and puts some food in the refrigerator which I felt was food for Thanksgiving Day.  So much for that.

I then heard one say they were spending Thanksgiving with the ex…Knowing my boys, that translates into they are cooking T-Day dinner at MY HOUSE.  I had to be at work at 2 p.m. and nothing was done by 11. In fact, nothing was cooked.  Nobody wanted to get up to go to our local truck stop, which had turkey dinner and all the trimmings either…I went alone.  I worked my fanny off thinking my ex was in my house enjoying the day, with me not getting anything.

I came into the house and found out that the ex never showed up and nothing was ever cooked.  The boys decided to can the idea. The part I misunderstood was the part about the ex eating with them in MY HOUSE.  THAT complicates things since the man tends to go through all the food in the house if I am not there–OR he leaves some of  his stuff there which irritates the hell out of  me and I’ve told him NOT to do that.

Anyway, while I was feeling sorry for myself at work, a man who had come to my defense once thinking someone was disrespecting me as a lady entered the store. I wasn’t being disrespected, so that was cleared up quickly.  He didn’t understand what Thanksgiving was about and hadn’t eaten in a day.  He said, “America sucks!”  I knew something was up so I followed him outside and asked him what was going on.  He didn’t know how to get to the Salvation Army so that he could eat a hot meal, and I didn’t know how to get there from where I was, but I remembered how he tried to “stand up for me” when he thought I was being yelled at.

I knew he wasn’t acting normally because he is usually very friendly.  I asked him what happened and he told me.  To make a long story short, this man is from Australia and he’s writing a book–traveling on foot across the U.S.  I explained to him what Thanksgiving means to various cultures  and that those who judge one another in an  unkind way have not learned that many people in this country have not learned that we all bleed red yet.  He felt a little better after that and my co-worker and I bought him something to eat.  It was the least that we could do.  Isn’t this what Thanksgiving is about? Sharing?

He smiled before leaving and was telling another man, “Now I know what Thanksgiving is!,” then he turned to us and said, “Thank you for giving me something to be Thankful for!”

Then it made the pain of the misunderstanding go away, and that got resolved later.

The moral of this is that things are never as they seem and someone ALWAYS has it worse off than you do…It is my fervent hope that the injustices to the homeless in the area gets taken care of soon.   As I said in an earlier post, winter is coming.  Too many people in Midland, TX have lost their homes (even though they make a decent salary)  due to the price-gouging on the rent and the hotel fees there.  Somewhere along the way some of these people who run the hotels, apartments and rent houses have lost sight of the fact that the boom will one day bust  They had better hope that Midland has a  kinder spirit toward them should they ever fall upon hard times.

 

I Simply DO NOT Get It…Nana’s Practical Joke!

Many of my friends who know me know that I am anything BUT a prude.  I don’t believe in changing the proper name of something to make it more appealing to the subjugated masses of America.  That being said I am putting something on my blog never done to the best of my knowledge. I am putting a pair of TIT pictures on here. That is right! A Pair of Tits!  To make it easier–two pictures of two kinds of tits!  Now anyone can use my link for a practical joke and say, “For a nice looking pair of tits–check this link!”   That will teach those with a dirty mind to come here, won’t it? At least I am good for a laugh or two…

Here are the blue tits!

I think it is the part of the responsibility of EVERY writer to elicit laughter from the audience once in a while… ***Grins sheepishly here***! If you were sent here by a friend and cannot take a joke, then I’ll say to you in my best TEXSPEAREAN manner: “Don’t blame me so harshly for I didn’t name the critters! However if it should offend ‘ye then ’tis you that hath a burr in yer craw! And jus’ so ye know, them Brits have two species: Great Tits and Blue Tits and notwithstanding my dig forthwith ‘ye know I believe they love those tits!”

Well you can’t blame me! After all, I didn’t name ’em did I?

What now remains…Nana is sad tonight…

Seems silly to post a pic of a broken bowl, doesn’t it? Well this bowl has great historical significance in my life.

 

There were a lot of days that gravy was served from this bowl at my grandmother’s house…There were many days I carried this to the table, careful not to spill one precious drop of what was inside…At other times, I ate from it as an adult, long after my grandmother had passed.  To be honest it was the only thing I have left that was hers…Now here it lies shattered–as shattered as this heart was when I found it in this condition due to another family member’s carelessness.  I cried for hours.  The bowl itself was over 60 years old and went through several generations without so much as a nick.

I know what that family member will say, “Gee…It was just a bowl!”  Well guess what…It can never be replaced anymore than the woman who used to serve some of the best things in the world from it.  I have to go to the mountain in the morning and get this out of my system.  There are those who will say, “You are too attached to things.”  NO…I am attached to the memories and those are something that no one’s carelessness will ever destroy…Hostile? No…I am past that.  I am livid that someone would throw an iron skillet on top of a glass item in the sink to begin with…Had it been anything but Grannie’s bowl, I would be fine right now.

However another part of me wonders if future generations will appreciate anything that I hand down or if the attitude will be “Gee! It’s just a necklace! Or “Gee it’s just….”  whatever the case may be…It is very disheartening to think that future generations will take so much for granted.

I miss her so much…And this bowl being destroyed only brought back the memory of losing her…Thank you for your time. I just needed to sound off a bit.

1969–What Nana Remembers of It…

 

I remember being herded into the library with all the other youngsters in 1969…The TV was brought in…There were no flourescent lights back then…No central air or heat–just those swamp coolers–or, as most other people call them, evaporative coolers. In fact, I never saw flourescent lighting until my father got stationed at Offut AFB in Nebraska in 1971.  I also remember hating them because my eyes were sensitive.

Anyway, I remember the wooden shelves in the library that held all the treasures I loved rummaging through–the books…The books were my world even at this age…School had not started quite yet, but I remember that a lot of us were gathered in there with adults–and the TV’s were in black and white…Not color…I can still hear the squeaking wheels of the audio-visual cart that it was brought in on and can hear the sound of the static in my mind…

It was hot, but I was okay…We were given cookies and Kool-Aid…And I made sure I got my favorite that day–cherry.  I had already eaten my lunch–which back in those days consisted of huge rolls that were made from scratch, salad and whatever the main entrée was–and on this day it was spaghetti…I ate everything on my plate because one of the aides told me if I didn’t do so, then I wouldn’t get to watch TV in the library with everyone else–and I hated salad back then unless my mom made it.  Mom always knew how to make stuff the right way! And she still does…Too bad I didn’t inherit my unique culinary skills  from her, my grandmothers OR EVEN my father…

My household and the human race has been saved thanks to the fact we have TV dinners and we can eat out since I tend to screw up something at least twice a week.

Anyway, as I was saying, we all were herded into the library.  I ate my cookies, drank my Kool-Aid and sat in a chair close to the front of the class.  I did sneak a book in because I was bored, but the teacher said it was alright when she saw it because they were having problems with the TV.

For once, I read quietly as the others got restless and were called down one by one.  I think my mom was amazed I didn’t get into trouble for once. I had a knack for ticking off teachers and irritating them–sort of like Simon Burch with those questions adults hated to get…Like:  “Well if you know smoking is bad for you why do it?” to a teacher by the lounge once when I caught her red-handed…She just looked at me and said, “Tina…This is a bad habit and don’t ever start it!”

I quietly went back to class.  All the while I was pondering another thought: “If Santa is not real, then how did I get those toys and goodies last year?”  Yeah…She said Santa was fake to another student and I heard her. We told our parents and all hell broke loose the next day, but the damage was already done. I don’t think my parents said other than that, “She’s wrong. Ignore that.” but the other kid’s parents caused a problem so she did apologize to us both.

As we all were waiting, they had trouble getting the TV to work, so one teacher started with that teapot song…I didn’t do that one…Never liked it…She called me a sourpuss and I simply said, ” I won’t do it. It’s for little kids and it’s stupid.”  I then got put in the corner for a bit–until Rusty threw a spit wad and hit one of them in the butt.  After that I was forgiven!  He got swats.

Then came a lady who was singing “Yellow Submarine”…I knew that song and I liked it…Then again, I raided my sister’s Beatles’ collection on a regular basis–along with her Elvis and Beach Boys records…AND a lot of others too–Jerry Lee Lewis, Credence Clearwater Revival and–as age appropriate as one can get–The Monkees…I have you know I was really sad to lose Davy Jones this year…He was the big brother I never had but always wanted since my brother James used to bug the crap out of me all the time back then.  I think to a kid my age in 1969, Davy was kid-like and always happy and that’s why a lot of us liked him so much–and (NEWSFLASH) some of us loved Mickey Dolenz for the same reason!

I don’t know if those guys knew how many kids from dysfunctional families they enabled to smile and laugh, and I wonder if the surviving members will ever know…However there were a lot of us that were able to escape some things by watching that show…If  those guys had shown up on Sesame Street or the Electric Company–we’d have all been in Heaven in class!

As we all gathered around several minutes later, it FINALLY came on.   I couldn’t remember the words used, but I remember the flag being put on the surface of the moon and the astronauts “bouncing” around.  After that, I went back to reading.  As a child, I didn’t ponder the significance of the moment in History or the future it would lead to…I just knew the teachers thought it was important that we all be brought to the school to see this.

A few years later, I realized how important it is…And NOW–49 years later, we are seeing pictures taken from the surface of Mars and sent back to Earth…Like these two:

This is a view of Earth, Jupiter and Venus from the surface of Mars.

It almost looks as though one could walk on the ground and look up at the sky doesn’t it?  I am in awe of it…Here is another one:

This one is self-explanatory…

You know…I think if we could colonize it and survive, I’d move there…However, we probably couldn’t survive without building artificial means of producing an enclosed, renewable atmosphere that would meet our needs…In other words, we’d end up living in space stations of some sort. The planet’s surface and atmosphere are too hostile to sustain any life form…Then there are those damned solar winds they talk about and the high levels of radiation…I certainly never thought I’d see even  THIS much in my lifetime…Did you?  It makes me wonder what my grandson will get to experience in his life.  For those of you not born in 1969, you missed a huge point in History–but do you realize how big this one is? I do…

 

Nanahood Philosophy…

I have reached the conclusion that the best legacy I can leave to my grandchildren is to do what you love, let the world know you love it, and never be afraid of what others think of it as long as you are satisfied with what you have chosen to do to leave your mark on the world. IN doing so, never look back with regrets because that is the one thing that can slow your progress. Move forward. Strive for excellence and never let others define your self-worth or decide your path for you. It is your life to live, not theirs. You have to own your mistakes as well as your achievements–and when you can do that and not blame others, it is easier to be at peace with yourself and the decisions you make.

I spent much of my life trying to make others happy, often at my own sacrifice. Those days have ended.  I walk my own path rather than that which was set for me.  It is my hope that my grandchildren will also do this.

That being said, I am considering a 6-12  month teaching assignment in China.  Whether or not I do this depends upon what happens at my job in the next few weeks.  I want to see the world. I want to share this with my grandchildren.  Nothing is impossible when you put your mind to it, right?  I fully intend to write about my experiences wherever I go, just as I used to do on this blog. I am going to return to the mountain in the morning to ponder this as well.

I have to do what I have to do. Hopefully things will work out here, but if they do not, I have other doors through which I can readily pass.  Nothing is impossible.  Have a  great weekend everyone!

 

There are more pics to come, but this little guy has really brought some light into my life!

This Time of Year is Full of Change and Memories!

Easter can be such a wonderful time for family to get together and spend time together.  When I was younger, I remember well how my Grannie Ainsworth would boil tons of eggs because when 30+ cousins and such showed up, there would be a massive Easter Egg hunt on another piece of property owned by one of my uncles…

Here is a picture of my Grannie and my Grandpa Ainsworth:

I remember as a little girl, I was a “runt”.  All the other cousins tended to push me aside or take eggs before I could get them. I remember one time, when I was about 5 or 6, my Grandpa saw me and asked me why I was crying and I told him about one of my cousins pushing me before I could get an egg from a lower hanging branch.

“Well come here!” I went to him and he picked me up and carried me to where I’d spot the eggs so that I could reach them.  One of the uncles already had gotten onto the cousin that pushed me at one point and nobody DARED say a word about Grandpa helping me either!

Before the hunt, Grannie had made a huge Easter Dinner…Chicken and Dressing…Porcupine Meatballs, which are made of BEEF–NOT Porcupine.  Here is a recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 2 (10.75 ounce) cans condensed tomato soup
  • 1/4 cup instant rice
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon onion salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • ***NOTE:  I add either 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper if I want them really spicy OR about 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of chili powder! I need kick in mine and I may add BOTH!–skipping the parsley…***

Directions

  1. Lightly beat egg with a fork, then add a heaping tablespoon of the soup and mix lightly. Mix in rice, onion, parsley, onion salt and pepper. Stir in the ground beef and mix well with hands. From mixture into 1 1/2 inch round meatballs.
  2. Coat a large skillet over medium heat with cooking spray. Cook meatballs and brown on all sides.
  3. Combine remaining soup with Worcestershire (you can increase or decrease Worcestershire to your liking), stir until smooth, then spoon over meatballs. Cover with lid and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring every few minutes.

We ALWAYS raided the meatballs until they were GONE!  Then it was Grannie’s Chocolate Cream pie–or Coconut (for me one or the other) but she made LOTS of deserts!  I also got a kick out her German Chocolate Cake too!

A lot of family traditions centered around food and while there was always plenty for everyone, sometimes someone else would show up and Grannie was more than happy to invite them in also.  I remember the times when my parents were there too.  The memories are sketchy now, but they are there.

We don’t meet at Grannie’s house any longer.  One day the house will be torn down, but the memories will never fade…It has been 11 years since we lost Grannie and about 40 years since we lost Grandpa…It doesn’t seem like it has been that long to me, nor does it seem that it has been 17 years since I lost my father.  His birthday would have been on 4/9.  I will be thinking of him a lot these next couple of days as well.

My Dad: Kenneth B. O'Neill 4/9/29-2/5/95 USAF MSGT. Retired (1972)

However, this time of year also reminds me that I shall have a new beginning as well.  I am the youngest daughter of 4 kids and will soon be a grandmother.  I often wonder what his thoughts would be on that one.  I know that I still am amazed that my youngest son, Kevin Thomas, is going to be a father himself at 23.  I have much to be grateful for.  Although he was recently hurt, he’s alright.  He’ll need surgery–but he will be around for his son and that is what matters the most.  AS this year marks a year of change and beginnings for me and my family, it is my fondest hope that all of you have a joyous Holiday with the ones you love, and may you create many memories with your children, grandchildren, parents, etc…

My son Kevin...I am grateful for every day I can speak to and spend time with him or my other two sons!

Daphne is the mother of my grandson. I am proud to have her in this family! She is a good mother and tough as nails! Hopefully, I'll get to spend time with her and all 4 kids next Easter!

This has also been a month of more great news for me! My son Eric is now Engaged! Congratulations to him and Laura…Now I’ve got two daughters who have a heck of time trying to figure me out! LOL!  ***JUST KIDDING***!    Love you all!

This is my son Eric Gates and his lovely fiancé, Laura Griffin. Has this been a year of change around here or what?!

Well, now I’m dealing with impending “Nanahood” and “In-Law Hood”!  And I know my father lives on in the eyes of my sons, and I know I’ll see a bit of him in the eyes of my grandson. These will be only a few of my thoughts as I go up to the mountain today.

Have a wonderful Easter, everyone!

The Great All American “Nanahood”–Part 2

As much joy as I have over a grandson coming into this world, something happened this week that raised the hairs on my head and made me have one of my “moments”…It was a moment in that I was so mad, I just wanted to lash out at someone I perceived was being total dipstick. WARNING: IF you are sensitive to graphic descriptions, skip down to the 4th paragraph now.

As some know, my son Kevin was hurt in an oil-rig mishap yesterday.  He has to follow-up with a doctor.  He has abdominal bruising and muscle  injuries but no broken bones (Thank God!).  He found out very quickly that his mama is very protective and if she perceives that someone is not following safety protocols she gets all bent out of shape…OUT of shape enough to tell off his bosses.  When I saw the awful bruising and swollen places where he landed when thrown on the platform today, I almost totally blew because they allowed him to leave the rig with his brother rather than call an ambulance.

Here’s the catch.  Kevin told them he was going to have Eric take him because if he waited on the ambulance he might have died.  Seriously…After thinking for a few moments, I realized that he was right and calmed down.  Kevin said he honestly thought one or two of his organs got knocked through his abdominal wall and was trying to hold them in!  I was not told this by any of my sons when he was first taken.  I later learned this was like blood pockets from bruising but some things show up later rather than sooner so he is going to follow-up.

I am sorry to be so graphic but as I heard this, he also made a statement that almost made me cry.  “Mama…When I landed and saw how it looked, my first thoughts when to my unborn son.”  I didn’t cry when he said it, but I had those thoughts as well as I waited to hear word on his condition.   Seeing his injuries made me stop and take a deep breath.

As a sergeant in corrections, we played “What if?” games to prepare for certain things.  I realize whether my son made it nor not, I am responsible for Daphne and this baby–not to mention the other three children because he is the only father figure they have really known. I do feel they are going to see a big difference in his outlook on life after this incident.  I do not have much, but they are my family too, and if it is within my power, they will be taken care of–especially if anything were to ever happen to my son.

I am so grateful that he was spared.  His job is a dangerous one.  This is the 2nd time he’s been hurt and since he is my youngest, it scared the living hell out of me.  I also learned that this young man has gone through some emotional growth since he found out that he is going to be a father.  I saw the look in his eyes as he told me how his thoughts went to the baby.  To see a father so deeply love his own unborn child moves me in ways that he cannot even imagine.   I won’t cry in front of him but I did later.

This baby is one lucky boy.   He is going to have a devoted and loving dad, and this mother is very proud of her youngest son–even if she wishes he could go back to college rather than risk his life any further.

I think that Kevin also learned that he is still the youngest and is always going to be the baby of this family.  This family pulls together.  This family will take care of its own.  I can be over an hour away, but I will get there when I am needed.  I am proud of his brothers for rallying around him.  I know in my heart now that if push comes to shove, they will be there for one another–even when the day comes that I am gone and can no longer be there for them. That gives me some peace of mind.

Goodnight all!  Have a link on me!

This is a beautiful Native American number and I find it highly peaceful and comforting right now:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTri6Rf4rVU&list=PL1371296F1DB8A173&index=14&feature=plpp_video

 

I learned to be very thankful in the past 48 hours...Please go check out this blog too. Very good stuff!

You Just Had to Ask Me…

Note: While I am on my “hiatus” of sorts from discussing certain things  on the blog, I hope you enjoy this interlude of a different story while I keep working on part 6 of “Centuries Under the Moon”–Kadja

The older man came to her and sat next to her…’Wanna dance?”  he asked, brushing back his salt and pepper hair from his face, which had just enough lines to reveal that he was a hard-working man with some determination.

“No. I don’t dance.” she said as she was trying to listen to the band, brushing her black bangs from her eyes.

“You don’t dance? Seriously?” he asked her.

“No. I don’t.  What part don’t you get?” she said firmly as smoke continued to fill the air–and he continued to invade her space…

“Wanna take a walk outside?” he asked.

“No.” she said again.

She had seen the wedding band and knew this guy’s drill.  She already knew there was no common ground with him, so she put her barrier between them quickly.  He was one of many that she had no use for–let alone a desire to get acquainted with.  She kept to herself–until she walked onto stage. Then she let it out.  All that angst–and the power to release it ignited her defiant soul more than ever as she shook her head to one side, her black hair moving away from her green eyes as she took that microphone into her hand.

She then went back to her booth, where a reporter she was expecting had been waiting.  He was a young man, close to her age.  Very good-looking, and he knew she was a tough one to interview. His editor had warned him about how she can be. Yet there she was–all 5’5″ of her.  He stood 6’1″.  When his brown eyes locked on her, he knew this woman was different from the others he’d had dealt with before and he knew that he’d better tread lightly.  Her bottle of Patron and a lit candle were waiting for her, along with two glasses.  She offered him a drink, which he accepted.  She noticed that the sandy colored locks this reporter had were a sharp contrast to Michael Redding’s well-kept black hair. She also liked it that he showed up in jeans and a T-shirt, and appeared to have not shaven in two days as opposed to Michael’s “everything has to be perfect” look.

“You have no one in your life?” he asked after they conversed for some time, talking about her upbringing in Oregon and her family–which she didn’t say much about–YET.

What difference does it make? I have plenty of people who support what I do and I don’t have time to limit myself in any way.  No man has ever loved me for the creature that I am so I fly solo and I sleep solo.” she responded.

“Even though Michael Redding is telling all who will hear him that he wants a relationship beyond friendship?” the reporter asked.

“As I said, what difference does it make?” she asked.

“He seems like a nice enough guy–”

“Which is why I’m doing him a favor by avoiding him this week since that is the public perception.” she mused.

“He’s heir to the Biotechna fortune.” the reporter said, puzzled that she would say such a thing when they seemed to be so close.

“And?”

“But you two seem to go very well together in public–”

“That’s what he tells me.”  she said.

“You’re not going to tell me if you two are in a relationship, are you?” he asked.

“IF we were, I wouldn’t be interviewing with you alone in a darkened booth in a friggin’ bar.” she grinned, as shafts of light flashing into the booth revealed her dark red lips and pale skin.

“Do you have a hard time in relationships?” he asked out of curiosity.

“No because I never enter into arrangements with anyone. I don’t believe in it. If I want to play house, I’ll hire a gigolo.” she said sarcastically as a sheepish grin came across her face.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“People in this town hook up to find convenient arrangements for combining resources and such.  You will find that many couples in this business aren’t in love but they only stay together because they can tolerate each other.  In other words, they play house.  I know four couples right now who cannot say “I love you” to each other, which sucks because two of those couples brought kids into this bitch we refer to as our world.  Their teen children are screwed up because they know why their parents are together–just like mine were back in the heyday of this town.  No thank you.  Men who want that do not interest me. I’m not an investment or a breeding mare.”  she said.

“So you plan to avoid romance altogether? That seems rather sad.”  the reporter said.

“There is no such thing as romance–especially here. It’s all about appearances.  I don’t believe in romantic love anymore. Everyone in this town is about getting into an arrangement.  If they weren’t, you wouldn’t find so many of them screwing around on each other like my own parents did.” she said.

“You have been at odds with your parents for years.  Do you speak to them now?” he asked.

“Not very often.” she said.

“Why?  They seem like nice people–”

“My stepfather is one of the coolest people on the planet.  So is my dad. I cannot say the same about my mother or that bitch my father sleeps with and calls a wife.  I don’t care if you print that or not Mr. Jacobson.  I talk to neither of my parents since I had to go to court to get their hands off of my bank accounts.” she said.

“This is what the feud is over?  Money?” he asked.

“That’s what they WANT to think.  It’s not. It’s about their inability to live their own sick lives through their daughter and son.  They did the same to my younger brother.” she said.

“He committed suicide.” the man said.

“Yes.  AFTER dear old MOM cleared out his funds.  Then she sent part of it to dad via the stepmom and he says he never saw a dime of it although she admits she had it.”  she mused.

“Will you ever make amends with them? They seem to be reaching out to you now–”

“For more money. Here! I’ll prove it.” she grinned as she turned on her speaker phone.

“What’s up Ce Ce?” she asked her stepmother.

“Is this for another one of your business schemes–like the one that broke dad’s company?” she asked.

“No! It’s for your father’s eye surgery and I have no time for–”

“Well, if it weren’t for the lasik I’d send it but I know how you operate. You’d use it elsewhere.”  she said flatly.

“Come on! Reese, what is $15,000 to you?  We are your family–”

“Dad is my family. You are nothing.  He told me he was scrapping the lasik thing last week. Nice try, CeCe.” she said as she hung up.

“Mr. Whatever your name is–THAT is how my family is. Always with a hand out. Always a new lie.  She’s not half as bad as my mother is.  I’m surprised my step dad hasn’t left her ass.   She’s still paying back money she robbed from me.”  she said to him.

“So you’ve been robbed of your childhood, robbed of part of your fortune and robbed of what good in life you can have out of fear of being used?”  the reporter asked.

‘I am a corporation, am I not? I am used every day. Even Mr. Redding will tell  you that much.  I’m not marrying or moving in with him either–and you can print that in the papers, the book, I don’t care…  I like my space.  He asked me to marry him four times in three months, but when he sees my prenup he tries to skirt it so I don’t see him any longer.” she said.

“I just think it is sad that you can trust no one.  Off the record.  Why did you let me interview you?” he asked her.

“You just had to ask me.” she mused.

“I really want to know.” he said.

“Your name is Stephen Robinson and you work for the Herald, correct?” she asked.

“Yes.”

“Then I chose you because you don’t bullshit. I like that.  I like that article you did on Tibet too.” she said.

“Why do I get the sense that this may head elsewhere?” he asked.

“I’m hiring you to write my biography.  Didn’t your boss tell you that?  IF you decide to do it, you’ll have the exclusive.  You’ll be traveling with me and my band mates–IF I decide to regroup.  You’ll see the good, the bad and the ugly–and the fugly too. ” she grinned.

“Is there anything about the “fugly” I need to know about?”  he asked.

“I have maybe a year to live and I want the truth out.  I’m making my will tomorrow.  I refuse medical treatment as my younger sister died of this particular blood disorder I have.  Here is the reality.  I will never have a normal life. I will never get married or be a mother…In short, you get to write about how f**ked up my life and my family really is.  I know you can bring it out the way it needs to be brought out.  You’ll also be there at the end.  My band knows nothing and neither does my family, my agent or my manager.  I don’t fear dying either. It is the only release I’ll have from the ongoing bullshit in my family anyway.” she said.

“This is a joke, right?” he asked.  Then he noticed as a faint shaft of light came across her face.  A tear had rolled down her cheek.

“I wish it were one of my f***ing jokes.  I would be laughing hysterically if it were.  However, I will leave them nothing. Absolutely nothing.  At the same time, I want to learn how to really live.  Does that make sense?”  she asked as her tone became more resolute and she wiped the tear from her cheek with the sleeve of her blouse.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“I want to do what I have always been afraid to do–starting with bungee jumping. Go with me.” she said.

“Bungee jumping?” he asked.

“Bungee Jumping…Right after I get my will signed.  By the way, you are getting a hefty check for all of this shit.” she told him.

“What if you chicken out of the jump?” he asked.

“That’s what YOU’RE there for…To make sure I don’t, dammit.” she said.

“Oh so I’m a personal assistant to you now?  I am sorry but I don’t know how to–”

“Just bring whatever you need to write.  Don’t be anything less than honest either.  That is all I ask of you.” she said as she downed a shot of tequila.

“Look, Miss Harrison–”

“Look at it this way.  Either you write it or nobody else will.” she said flatly.

“I need to think this over and talk with my editor–”

“You’re getting exclusive rights to the story.  I’m paying you $150,000 to write it, plus 50% royalties in any film rights and such,  with a $50,000 advance  for your time.  He knows that.  Besides, you free-lance anyway. IF you want it in writing–”

“Miss Harrison, this is a huge assignment for me.  I need to think about it.  I was going to go to Nepal–”

“Which you’ll have plenty of time to do later because if it’s about the orphanage, I am part of that benefit taking place there.  All I am asking for is part of your time–not 24/7–unless you want to get the whole deal.” she said.

He didn’t have to think beyond 48 hours.  $150K for a year…Not bad and it’s not exactly chump change given the fact that other writers, at least in his mind, were superior to him.  Stephen Robinson knew this assignment would be life changing–but he had no idea how much.  He went to her house in Beverly Hills 2 days later.  When her maid answered the door, Reese was pouting on the stair case.

“TWO days…It took you two days to make up your mind?  I didn’t go bungee jumping either. Thanks for nothing.” she pouted.

“You didn’t need to do that right away anyhow.  Besides, I had loose ends to tie up.” he said.

“Whatever.” she mused as she stood up and went into her conservatory.  While the maid, Abigail, showed him to his room, she told him, “Mr.  Robinson, she is really mad about you taking two days.  She only goes in the conservatory and composes like this when she is angry. Just let her be for a couple of hours and she’ll be fine.  She’s furious with Mr. Redding too.” she warned him.

He was amazed by her choice of decor.  She stayed true to the history of the house, which was built during the early 1900’s.  There was an ornate fireplace in her den, another living area with a smaller one and huge bay windows that had a view of the pool. He noticed the bar and made particular note that everything in the rooms had solid colors–no patterns.  Abigail explained that she did the main rooms of the house in this fashion due to her sister’s epilepsy when she came to visit.  According to Abigail, almost any extreme pattern or something as simple as a flashing light could cause a seizure, so Reese was taking extra precautions.  She did have hanging crystals in her conservatory though and there was some pattern to that.

He loved the deep blue and silver accents and the  fabric adorned it.  There was no straying from the color scheme except to add grey throws to the chairs.  He was also keen to the scent of enchiladas cooking.

“Why? He’s crazy about her–”

“That’s what he wants her to think but she caught him two timing her a few months back when they was together.  He hit her when she refused to take him back. Now he wants her back again and she said very nasty things to him and told him to get out of her life–only she used more curse words.  She really fears him, Sir.” she said.

“Well, thanks for the heads up.” he told her.

“You seem like a nicer guy than he was.  I hope she takes a likin’ to ya!  She deserves some happiness after her mother pulled that stunt last week on her.”  she said.

“What stunt was that?” he asked.

“She tried to get control of her money again but the judge threw it out.  She’s 28 now and she can do what she wants and it just ticks her mama off.  She seems so sad lately though.  She doesn’t joke around much any more.  I’ve known her since she was 12.  Something is not right about her.”  Abigail said.

“Well I’ll see what I can do.” he said as he scratched his head.

When he unpacked, showered and shaved, Abigail was knocking at his door frantically…”Mr. Robinson please come!”

“What’s the matter, Abigail?” he asked as he opened his door after hastily putting on jeans and a T-Shirt. Then he heard the sound of crashing glass.

“She’s in a bad way again, Mr. Robinson–Mr. Redding made her mad again! They are down there arguing and I’m afraid he will slug her like he did before when they were together!”

As he entered the den she threw another vase at Michael yelling, “I told you to get the f**k out of my life and stay out! I meant it then and I damned well mean it now!”

“Look, Reese…I’m sorry you got hurt.  She means nothing to me,” he told her as he tried to get close to her.  She then pulled a letter opener out, “Don’t you dare come near me!” she yelled.

“Reese, you know you aren’t going to do that.  Put it down–”

“Back off dammit!” she yelled.

“I’m not going to hurt you again, Reese–”

“I think you’d better get the hell out of here.” Stephen said firmly to him.

“Oh…And who might you be? I think you’re the one who had better learn your place around me–”

“Anytime you feel lucky, bring it.,” Stephen told him, “But you will not bother her again.  I mean it.”  He saw that Reese still had the letter opener in her hand and she was shaking.

“You work for her?  Gee…Wait until you see how idiotic she is!  She thinks anyone who is with her has to be f***ing perfect! I screwed around on her one time and she  acts like she’s holier than thou! Maybe if she f***ing knew how to put out to a man, she’d be able to keep one–”

“Maybe if you were a man, I’d have stayed with your ass.” she mused.

“Don’t you talk to me like that! You’re the one who goes on tour after tour–”

“And bailed your ass out of a $7 million dollar debt.  We are done now get out!” she hissed.

He stormed toward the front door, “Reese, I’ll be back when you calm down.  We need to talk about this more–”

“I’m getting a restraining order. Abigail, call the police.” she said.

“Yes ma’am!” Abigail said as she went into another room and called them.

“So that’s the way you want it?” Michael asked her.

“For a long time now. Leave me alone!” she said.

“Fine! Don’t come crying to me when you can’t handle the pressure and shit!” he said.

“Oh I won’t. Believe me.” she said icily.

When Michael left, she sat down shaking as Abigail rushed over to her…

“Are you alright–”

“I am now that he’s gone.  I’ll get the restraining order. I’ve had it.” she said.

“I never would have thought him to be violent.” Stephen said.

“Welcome to just one aspect of my fugly world.” Reese said as she looked up into his eyes. It was then he saw the red mark on her cheek.

“Well, it shouldn’t be like that.” he said as he waited for the police to arrive in the foyer.  When they arrived, they wrote out a criminal trespass for Michael and took her statement.  She filed harassment and assault charges since Abigail saw Redding strike her.

“Well, it’s a good thing the media is already here because those reporters he has in his camp are going to make out like he’s just a friggin’ love-sick victim.”  Reese said.

“Good thing I am here, then. I’ll save it for the book though.”  Stephen said.

“Thank you. I appreciate that more than you know.  It’ll die down in a few days.” she said.

Within a few weeks, Stephen saw how she went about her daily routine.  Her songwriting habits and the various chew out sessions with her management and various band members often perplexed him but at times he laughed.  He found some of it to be rather amusing, and was becoming more drawn to her as she undertook charitable work.  They traveled to Nepal and to Costa Rica together where she saw the wildlife refuge and went bungee jumping with Stephen.

As the sunlight shone upon them and the warm tropical breeze embraced their beings, they were having a bit of a heated debate…

“You can’t be serious about doing this! There is plenty of other things to do in Costa Rica than risk our lives!” Stephen said.

“You’re kidding me, right? If the cord breaks and I die, at least I have nothing to lose.” she mused.

“Don’t talk like that! It isn’t funny!” he said to her.

“It is absurd and that is why I said it. I am merely trying to point out to you that there is nothing to be afraid of.  We’re not that high up and the water is 100 ft. deep.” she said.

“Not that high up? Look do—” she pushed him and jumped afterward.

“Shiiiiiiiiiiiiitttttt!” he screamed all the way down as she laughed.

They bounced a bit and he shot her a dirty look once they calmed down.

“Why the hell did you push me?! It’s not funny–” he protested.

“I didn’t have all day to wait on you to make your mind up.  I’ve got other things to cross off my list anyway! Why can’t you just admit that it was kind of fun?  You had to have felt a rush–”

“Oh yeah! The rush of DEATH!” he snapped.

“Exactly,” she beamed, “But if it makes you feel any better, my friend, I’ll never push you off  like that again. I promise!”

Something in her smile was rather infectious.  Something in her assertiveness was addicting.  HE finally cracked a smile at her again.

“Do you MEAN that?” he asked her.

“Not really.” she smiled as she winked at him.

“Oh shit…Whatever.” he said.

A Film About Bullying and What It Can Lead To…

To Start with here is a link to the movie trailer for “Mad World“:  http://www.imdb.com/video/wab/vi618071577/

In the beginning, one is not sure what to make of this film but it touched on several issues that need to be addressed–and most of it came through the verbiage of Will (Dylan Vigus) and Cory (Gary Cairns). While Will is the one telling the story, it is Cory that best expresses what is going on in the mind of a tortured young man in a school where, as it often occurs, faculty completely ignores the issues of bullying and doesn’t even see (or chooses not to see) the signs of a child who is abused at home.
The character of Jevon (James Lee Martinec) is symbolic of the abused child who fell through the cracks of a failed system that is supposedly designed to protect our children–and often does not. I can relate to this character, but not for what is depicted in the film. I had a step mother who loved pointing a pistol at my head and tearing me down psychologically. At other times, she tossed me into walls, cabinets or whatever struck her fancy. Any other abuse I endured was not at the hands of my parents. That is all I will say there, but as I said earlier, if someone who has lived in a situation where they are abused in both environments (home and school) it might be a bit much to watch, so one might want to keep this in mind prior to viewing it.

I grew up in a time where it was one thing to wish the bullies were dead but it was taboo to act on it…The characters in this film were not consumed by video games and such as the far right would like to think. They were consumed by a society that threw them to the gutter and didn’t care–and that is how many bullied children perceive the school environment in this day and age–especially when they are going through crap at home.

This writer merely put all the thoughts, the pain and the horrible things that run through the minds of broken souls and put it on celluloid and for that he is to be commended. Cory Cataldo did a great job of that. Now was that sex scene a bit much? Yes. You will know which one when you watch it. There was more than one scene.

Each character was a piece of a puzzle that fit into a whole. You had Cory–who was actually a very intelligent young man and articulate. You had Jevon who was a resident genius and (like myself) viewed school as a refuge–even though he didn’t quite fit in…Because he made the school “look good” they took an interest in HIM but then threw him to the wolves when he didn’t measure up to what the school’s standard of perfection was. This DOES happen a lot.

Then there is Will. His father is an all around jerk and abuses him daily. Will is also articulate, intelligent and fell through the cracks. He also brings some of the humor to the film (along with Cory). Then you have John (Matthew Thompson) which brings another dimension to the film. He is an African-American student raised by white, adoptive parents. This character suffered the effects of racism and violence in such a way that he felt he had no other options open to him. His monologue after the worst assault he endures will leave you in tears. It is riveting.

The ones playing teachers and administrators were a joke (and there are people like this in life who dismiss the bullying as ‘kids being kids’). These are the types that will sweep what the athletes and such do under a carpet but if a student sneezes in the wrong direction that is not part of that social circle, like vultures, they will all kick that student to the curb–which is what these characters did. Fortunately, my teachers and administrators were NOT like this. They cared and I knew it. Times have drastically changed because many do not seem to care about much more than their paychecks now. Sorry but that is true and this movie seems to touch on it.

This may be a low-budget indie film, but Gary Cairns and the other cast members made it believable–especially to a viewer who lived in a similar situation. I agree with the viewer that felt that the O’Reilly picture was a bit much. There are plenty of bone-headed school administrators in both major parties. Note: Not all people in the south are conservative and not all support the death penalty. This movie could have driven a huge point home to an audience had the political ideology been left completely out.

I really do not consider this to be a dark comedy as much as an art film. It is beautiful when put in that perspective because it attempts to bring new light to old issues. Cory is the greatest voice of teen angst, Jevon of the pain of having to remain silent and to conform to standards and expectations that no boy should have to endure, Will is a voice of reason in the film even though his reasoning seems flawed in some respects and then there is John. The quiet kid who marches to his own drum, until forced to toss it aside and become a different creature altogether. Then again, they all 4 became different creatures–just as any child who is repeatedly bullied and abused can.

For those reasons alone–the touching on the issues and the acting itself,  it is definitely worth watching–but if  the movie “Precious” pissed you off thoroughly, this one might too–and you’ll find out why.  It is incredibly thought-provoking–and serves to remind that bullying is an issue that MUST be addressed at all levels–home, school and in society. Warning: If “Precious” pissed you off, this one might. Trust me.

I Once Again Felt a Chill Down My Spine Today…

This is not going to be a long post, but most of you know the story of my stepmother Judy.  Granted the poor woman was mentally ill, but I didn’t understand that during the time I went through hell with her waiving a gun at my head, throwing me up into the walls and such from the time I was 11 and a few other things that went on which I do not care to discuss.

However today, I saw a story that sent chills down my spine because I realize I could have been among this number.   I realize how fortunate I am that I was not.  For three years I lived in a prison from which there was no escape for a little over three years and those three years shaped my destiny.  How I kept my sanity is beyond me.  I don’t consider myself broken, damaged and such–but there are times I wake up in a cold sweat even 33 years after the fact.

Oddly enough Judy, my stepmother,  died on 9/12/1978.  I am always down on 9/11 for obvious reasons, but this anniversary is one I don’t know whether to feel grief, relief or both depending on the memories that come back.  I wish she could have gotten help for her illness and there are some things I wish had been handled a lot differently.  However, it was not meant to be.  For some reason, I am alive and many others were not so lucky.  Many nights that .22 was waived at my head and I was threatened but I always put myself mentally elsewhere.  Other children did not make it out of their hells and their cells as I did mine.

I saw a story tonight that made me cry.  The violence of it and the horrible things that this  little girl had to see and hear make  my stepmother’s abusive behavior seem like a trip to Disneyland.   I realized tonight that I didn’t endure crap half as bad as this famous little girl did.  Back in the days when this happened,  there was not much Child Protective Services could do if the children wouldn’t talk.  It was true at the time of my stepmother’s death and it was true at the time of the death of a little girl named Judith Eva Barsi (June 1978-July 1988).

Judith (Judy–as some called her) was an actress on her way to stardom.  Despite the hell she endured at home, she always looked happy and cheerful…I call that the greatest mask because I too was able to wear it.  At times I could go to school beaming as if everything was as fine as it would be in a Brady Bunch or Ozzie and Harriet household.   However some of my teachers saw right through it.  Did anyone besides the psychologist and immediate family see through Judy Barsi’s?

Why did CPS just speak to the mother and not interview the child alone?  If they did would it have mattered?  Most likely not.  I find it ironic that a movie was not made about this because the headlines were almost too many to count from what I am reading tonight. On top of that, after 45 days or so, the judge tended to put the kids right back into the hell they were taken out of for the sake of “keeping the family together”.  To me that is a load of pure crap in extreme cases.  First time, take their rights and place the kid(s) elsewhere.  That is what I feel should be done  and ONLY in EXTREME cases–and to me this was pretty extreme.

If you don’t believe me look at the case of the Jahnke kids.  Remember?  The ones that shot their dad who was VERY abusive to them?  I remember it, too.  They should have been fully pardoned when it came out what they endured at this hands.  Sorry if you don’t agree but these were kids–like me but they were a bit older when their incident took place.  They did make movies about this incident, but I am not going to go into it here…They are out of prison and living quiet lives and I wish them peace and a full life.

Ironically, I could have fallen into either category–Judith Barsi’s or that of the Jahnke kids.  I don’t know what stopped me to this day from pulling the trigger on my stepmother the night I had the opportunity to, but something did.  On the other hand, I don’t know what the hell kept her from blowing my brains out.  Does that make me sick or abnormal?  I don’t think so.  There is a big difference in fantasizing about killing the bully and actually carrying out the thought.  I could never do it. Even now I know I could NOT do it.  That is the difference between yesterday’s kid and today’s kid I guess.  We had Columbine for a wake up call, right?   Now if someone tries to harm one of my sons, that is a whole new ball game.

Aside from that there is something that people need to remember.   Kids basically had very few rights then, but someone has to be their voice.  Someone has to step in and take action when nobody else can or will.  My hat goes off to every social worker who has ever had to risk his or her life to remove a child from a parent like Jozsef Barsi or from a parent like my stepmother.  I salute every policeman/woman , firefighter and teacher who has ever stepped in to help in such a situation–and many HAVE done so. Many a teacher helped me as best as they could during my time of hell.  Day after day, these brave people go in to face the unknown, and just like those less fortunate children that they are trying to protect, they might not make it home again.

As 9/12 approaches for me, I am grateful for all of these heroes–as well as the ones who will be remembered the day prior.  We should never, ever take life for granted.  We are all here for a reason and now I know this.  Someday, maybe I’ll finish the book on it, but there are days that I simply cannot write in it.  I still cry.  I still struggle with whether or not to take that pen that I have created so many imaginary heroes and heroines with in their worlds and paint the reality of my world  for all to see.  Besides that, “Precious” was already out there to try to wake people up as well…I wonder if I am the only writer that goes through this type of stuff.  I know to this day, I cannot watch “Precious”.  Sorry but it is  painful for me for other reasons.  My niece warned me about it so I can’t watch it.  If they make one about this case, I will not be able to watch it either.

Anyway, I feel that Judith Barsi is the long-lost poster child for the reality of what child abuse is.  Her own father killed her and then killed her mother as well.  Some say the song “Concrete Angel” by Martina McBride may have been written about her.  I choose to honor her life here. I chose the video below because it uses a song that brings hope and not tears.  She should be remembered with a smile for the sunshine she brought to so many.  Her life was cut short way too soon, and I do not feel that she should ever be forgotten.  If you know of a child going through hell, please, by all means pick up the bloody phone. You may be saving a life.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-q947Iyy3c&feature=related