Little Sparrow

Our worlds were not meant to intermingle
and yet
here we are

You are so brown
so plain
a dark little sparrow

OH but the glossy sheen
you give yourself
the careful grooming

Covers your brown,
brown little feathers so well
Ah, how your artifices glitter and sparkle

I can’t imagine what I am
Who I look to you
You see me unruffled, unprimed

I only glimpse my visage in passing
the clash, the jumble, jangle,
mess that I am

I am no bird, no sparrow
I am the cat,
the feral beast on the prowl

I do not sparkle
I have no sheen
I present myself only as I am

Your companions gather about you
a clutch, a brood,
a harem of little sparrows

gathered mass of matching hair
dull colored garb
with the guise of glamour

They turn as one to view me
synchronicity, beauty
in these movements

How their too white teeth sparkle
as they grimace at me
show their surprising wolf grins my way

This greeting is fierce,
competetive,
I am taken aback by it, them, you

They will eat me whole,
I know it,
I feel it

They will tear me asunder
with those sharp white grins
YOU will

I had thought myself safe
a cat among the birds,
a sparrow could not wound me

Oh, my foolishness
how I thought your words glittered,
how I clutched them to my breast

I believed them genuine
gems, truths
I grasped for them

I wanted to pluck them from your mouth,
string them to wear
as a pearl necklace

Pearls like the too white teeth,
the artificial glow
of faux LOVE

Only now do I see your lies,
your cowardice,
your tarnished mask of civility

Only now do I recognize
beneath the veneer, the sheen
is a little brown sparrow

You were always a part of the group
with the superficial gleam,
the brood, the clutch, the terrifying mob of sparrows

How did I ever think
you could, you would
fly on your own?

You are hobbled
You are happy thus hobbled
You will always be hobbled by their protection

And by yourself,
yes, yourself,
little brown sparrow

When you speak to me, now,
I see only the dark tunnel of your mouth,
your throat

I see only darkness, little brown sparrow,
the empty void
of your words

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An open letter to an ex-lover

An open letter to an ex-lover:

I had thought that I would write the whole of our love story and send it to you – a missive of heartbreak and loss, growth, destruction, building up and tearing down. It would end with – I have loved you so long, I don’t know how not to.

But I could never begin it. Where do I start?

Our first kiss? The laughing joke shared with drunken strangers in the awful dirty light of a sticky bar. Our eyes meeting, yours crinkled at the corner, your full lips parted with your smile; as the two barflies teased us with words and sharp drunken elbows, “come on, kiss her”. I asked you, “well?” with my eyes and you answered, “well, why not” and kissed me with such gentle finesse that, when our lips parted, my eyes remained closed for thirty seconds or more. I knew then that I wanted many more of your kisses.

Or no – I should begin with how I first knew that I was beginning to love you – your smell. The smell of you sweaty with sleep, the scent caught in your beard and the crook of your shoulder and long dark hair. I would burrow into it and inhale the pure essence of you. You laughed at me, bemused (oh how we LAUGHED in the beginning). Your smell was honey. It was sunshine. It was hard work, grass, calluses, clean soap. It was so uniquely yours and yet it reminded me of the smell Ani emitted when she would sleep as a baby – that deep and dreamless sleep that she would give herself over to completely. This is how you gave yourself to all things in life; obsessively, whole heartedly, jumping in with both feet and no hesitation.

Or should I begin with the first night that we spent together, when I told you my fight story with false bravado, a quivering smile, and a shrug of dismissal. You took my still bruised knuckles into your large rough hands and brought them to your lips. You kissed them so tenderly and then – and then you bit them; just as gently took them in your teeth and a thrill went through my entire body as you looked up at me with those dark dark eyes and said, “Oh little one, you have no need to fight anymore”.

I should tell the story of the song you wrote for me, describing my hair twirling, my nervous lip biting, all of those tiny little tics I carried with me unconsciously. You could never finish it, the lyrics lay half written on the coffee table for months and then disappeared, only to be brought out as you strummed the Gibson passed to you by your grandfather, and stared at nothing. There had been songs written before, songs where I was supposedly the muse. But your song nearly made me weep, my heart would swell into my throat every time you sang it. Perhaps now you will finish it.

I cannot begin our story. I don’t know when it really began. At the scarred oak booth where you slid in across from me with your sardonic smile and tired feet? With the kite you bought for me after I looked at the clouds and declared it “kite flying weather”? Your hands, your smile, your laughter, your lyrics – they had no beginning, they sprang to life from the dust of broken hearts and lost dreams.

We thought our love was so great, so grand, that it would endure where others failed. We would last for ages. I don’t know when you stopped thinking that way. I realized one day that you stopped talking of the places you wanted to take me, you stopped saying how you wanted to be a better person for me, your kisses faltered, your laughter stilled. I just know that it did, indeed, have an ending.

I would like to say that I hope the best for you. That I hope you find love and happiness, marry an uncomplicated girl with open embraces and lollipop fucking dreams (the opposite of me and all of my foibles). I don’t. You had me. That was all you should have needed. Do not go on. Do not be happy. Do not forget me. I hope I reside in your soul until the day you die as a regret, a warning, a reminder. There is no happy ending here, pal, only an ending.

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And the world twirls on and on and on


Look, I cut off all of my hair! Donated 12 inches to Locks of Love!

I know it’s been awhile. What can I say – life is kicking me in the ass again. I don’t even know where to begin. I’ve had a few set backs.

I returned to school last August full of optimism, high hopes, and big dreams (rather redundant, eh, what with all of those practically meaning the same thing and all). To be honest, those dreams are still purdy dang big. I finished the first (fall) semester with straight A’s and a better understanding of what it is I will need to do to get where I want to be eventually. I squeezed in an intersession class over Christmas that just about did me in and started the spring semester with nary a break in learning. I should have taken a break, in retrospect. As it turns out, life can get crazy overwhelming and one MUST remember to take a few minutes to breathe and relax when one can!

So, here comes January with the Spring semester jammed full of classes (18 hours, because I’m a sucker for punishment) and full-time work and parenting and trying to keep my struggling relationship from completely floundering. Also with it came the realization that while I’ve been medication free for some time – it’s just plain ole unrealistic. I’ve got a full plate, y’all. I need all of the help I can get. And I’m not getting any help – at fucking all. I guess it’s time for lil’ Betty to grow up and realize that sometimes you don’t get help and you have to go at it on your own. Ani’s dad lost his job at the same time that I lost my job at corporate-mega-hell; while I found another job within a few months, it’s been nearly two years and he has yet to. Which means he hasn’t paid child support in that entire time. Nor has he helped buy school supplies or clothing or food or….you get the point. He’s become the quintessential dead-beat dad. Huzzah! That makes me so happy! (please say the sarcasm there translated?!)

Where am I at on the shitshow of my life? Overloaded schedule? check. Dead-beat ex-husband? check. Oh yes, floundering relationship. Billiam, bless his heart, has decided that he is going to become a falconeer. The fact that I want to go to graduate school is somehow unrealistic, but being a falconeer isn’t? Bah. I’ll give him this – the boy has some dedication once he sets his mind on a completely selfish goal! How on earth does he think that this will improve his life? And his life DOES need improving. He’s an unhappy fella. He’s ostracized all of his friends and withdrawn completely from society in such a way that it’s a challenge to get him to leave the house to buy milk even. His only interaction with people are his coworkers and that is only if he feels like going to work that day, and Analise and I (and he doesn’t speak to Ani unless he has to). Now, rather than seeking improvement by finding a job that he doesn’t loathe and come home cussing about every day or a different living environment that doesn’t make him unhappy or (perish the notion) improving his relationship – he has decided to start raising hawks/falcons. With his usual obsessive gusto, once reserved for music or heroin, he has thrown himself headfirst into building a muse for his future-hawk, buying and making equipment for his future-hawk, and talking 24/7 about this hawk. I mean, I could say I’m feeling sick or passed a test or going out and he would find a way to link it to hawks.

That is, obviously, not the only reason why I’m unhappy in this relationship. Please read my past 500 posts about lack of interaction and sex in the past five years for a better understanding of the issues he and I have faced. And I’m finally fed up. As of three weeks ago, I threw in the towel and told the boy I’m moving back home to be close to my friends and family.

Which couldn’t possibly come at a worse time. Because there’s MORE. Yes, there’s more! Let’s go on down the list: Overloaded schedule? check. Dead-beat ex-husband? check. Last dying breath of my relationship? check. Crazy amounts of bad luck and stress? Coming right up!

As many of you know, I’ve had issues in the past with my darling twin sister stealing my identity. I believe some of the fraud incidents were my mother, rather than my sister so let’s just chalk it up to shitty family actions, shall we? Anyways, all of the credit cards and utility bills in my name are many years in the past, however the tickets my sister got in my name that caused my license to be suspended a few years ago? Oh that fun keeps on keeping on! In February, I was driving billiam’s truck because BOTH of my headlights in my car were burnt out (which I had been asking billiam to fix for weeks grrr) and I drove home to spend the evening with buddies of mine. While backing out of said buddy’s driveway in this huge Ford f150 truck that I was unaccustomed to driving, I hit a car that had parked directly behind the truck that I had failed to notice. No one’s fault but my own!! The other driver was nowhere to be seen and I had to go door to door knocking to find the owner of the car. I requested that we file an accident report with our insurance companies as there were no injuries, etc involved. She, however, felt that we should call the police, and really I had no reason NOT to get the police involved (besides it getting in the way of my plans). As it turns out, there were good reasons. My sister had received THREE more tickets in my name that I didn’t know about – this is above and beyond the ones that I had already found out about and paid off in ’09. I was carted off to jail AGAIN for something I didn’t do AGAIN. This has been a several month-long ordeal that is STILL not resolved. I’ve been to court four times and have spent hours on the phone trying to contact the officers who issued the tickets so I can contest them. The police officer that arrested me was a total jerkwad (he was!!) and he gave me FIVE tickets for the accident and had the tuck towed. I need to resolve all of my sister’s previous tickets before I can even start to work on the tickets I received that night. My lawyer has been optimistic about it all and thinks that if I can come up with my license in time I will be able to get most of the tickets dropped. Just slap that $500 bill on top of everything else I’ve got goin’ on! No problemo. Please note: that $500 only takes care of my sister’s tickets. That doesn’t touch whatever fines I will finally be assessed when I go to court again next month over my accident again. On top of that? There were issues with billiam’s dad’s insurance (for the truck I was driving) and I was told it was taken care of but I was turned into a collection agency over the cost of fixing the other car’s door ($2500 can you effing believe that?!). That, however, was actually completely resolved as of two days ago. HUZZAH!!!

Okay, where were we? Overloaded schedule? check. Dead-beat ex-husband? check. Last dying breath of my relationship? check. Arrested? check. Unpaid fines? check. Court dates? check. Next up? The IRS! Yes, you heard it right! I was audited by the IRS this year! Why? Because I was randomly selected, apparently. It really was quite amusing as the auditor told me, the first time I spoke to him, that with my assets, “it shouldn’t take him any time at all”. I went into this with no trepidation as I’ve never cheated on my taxes before. They did manage to find an unpaid tax bill for my home state from twelve years ago…when I was 18. It was over $300 with penalties added and I had to pay THAT in April. Are we having fun yet? Audited by the IRS? check!

At this point in the year, I was grousing to a coworker about how I have the shittiest luck of any person I’ve ever met. We’ve started calling it “the law of Betty”, if it can go wrong, it WILL go wrong. “At least I have my health!” I declared with relief.

I did not, as custom dictates, knock on wood after I said that. I should have.

My New Year’s resolution was to be healthier. No specific diet plan or goal – merely going forward with the idea of a healthier lifestyle. For the most part, I’ve been fairly successful at implementing this. We’ve changed our diet pretty drastically – cut out the junk food, started having fish, rice, and veggies for dinner several times a week, no more McDonalds every day *sniff*, no more caffeine, and fruit for breakfast. And I’m ACTUALLY doing all of those things, not just talking about them! Another step that I knew I needed to take was to get a doctor set up here and start getting my yearly exams; you know, since I’ve only been here four years and all…..

Fast forward to March – I’ve seen a doctor, had a pap smear, and get a call that they’ve found “abnormal cells” and think that I need to get a biopsy. I had a disastorous biopsy, wherein the new doctor failed to read my entrance papers that listed “vinegar” as my allergy and she used said allergic substance in my exam. An ambulance was called, an epinephrine shot administered, and I left convinced that anything that painful and uncomfortable had to be completely unnecessary and I was a’okay. Add to that the fact that I didn’t hear back from my doctor for over two weeks and I was sure I was fine. I did, however, decide to call and check in with them after a few weeks because my coworkers told me I should. The receptionist (not the doctor that tried to kill me, mind you), told me, “Oh, sorry Mrs. geekbetty, did we forget to call you and tell you that you have cancer? Our bad…” or something along those lines. Whhhhatttttt??? <—that was exactly my response. I'm mature like that. Fo' sho'.

It was obviously time for me to get a second opinion. New doctor sought, second (less horrific) biopsy given – even worse news: not only do I have cervical cancer but it's spread to my ovaries as well.

I repeat: WHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAATTTT?!

I tell you all of the preceding bad luck only to put it all in perspective. Yes, I'm still in the middle of finals. Yup, in the middle of final exams right now, trying to pack my overwhelming amount of possessions to move back to a tiny, tiny apartment in my hometown yet planning on driving the hour and a half drive every day to retain this job and keep going to school until at least December (three mo' fo'ing hours a day?!), splitting up the amazing pack of dogs as billiam has declared Truebadour and Four Dog "his" and Dingo "mine", going to court for freakin' tickets, trying to scrap up money to pay my $5,000 deductible for medical treatment (worst insurance ever!), paying off my SISTER'S tickets, paying off MY accident (oy vay), in the middle of yet another heartbreaking relationship ender after five years of trying to make it work – AND BOOM! life reminds you how unimportant all of that is!

I'm feeling optimistic about the C* (<–the disease that shall not be named), I really am. My doctor says the prognosis is excellent and she doesn't even think chemo will be necessary. I have the first of many procedures scheduled for the 18th of this month (Ani's last day of school and the weekend we are slated to move to the new apt), and another for June 8th and then, well, we're going to "see" where we are and what needs to be done. I love how my doctor always says "we" as if she's the one with ovarian cancer. And by love, I mean hate.

I am overwhelmed. I am exhausted. I am scared. But I'm going to kick some C* ass, for sure.

and I'm going to do the tackiest thing ever, but at this stage, I could use all of the help I can get. If you want to pray for me, please do. Good thoughts, vibes, and karma are also welcome. Also, at this stage, anything else anyone can offer. Advice, books, tips, tricks, anecdotal accounts of survivors you know. If you are interested in keeping up with my medical updates, you can go to my community at many strong. If you would like my address to send cards, letters, or anything else that might cheer and support me, please email me at breakdancebetty@gmail.com.

And (here is the tacky part), if anyone would like to help out with a monetary donation, you can go DONATE HERE. Seriously, anything helps.

More than anything, keep me in mind. I’ll try to update more, but as I’ve said…I gotta lot on my plate right now and sometimes my poor neglected blog doesn’t get the love and attention it needs!!

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One Summer

When I was still very young, my mother married a man with no name. He was after the sad dark husband that gave my mother her widow’s weeds and far before the bandy-legged drug dealer with a heart of gold that would be her latest husband. This man moved all of us, my mother, my two siblings, and I to live with him on his family’s property. It was a tiny one-roomed house with a flimsy partition separating the bathroom from the rest of the room. We all slept in the same room, laying arm to arm under thin borrowed blankets, our bundles of clothing tucked beneath our heads for pillows. My mother worried that we would not be able to sleep all of us comfortably in one room and they solved this problem by going out every night, my mother and her husband with no name, and sleeping all day instead. They would return at dawn, smelling of my mother’s ancient leather coat and whiskey and smoke, and rouse us to go out and play, leaving them to sprawl among the scattered clothing and sleep through the hottest part of the day.

This tiny house was at the bottom of a very steep hill. A slim paved road ran in front of it, in to the empty streets of a ghost town that would soon be consumed by the larger towns on either side of it. At the top of the hill was the house that the husband’s father lived in. It seemed impossibly huge and grand to us, looming there under the shade of towering oak trees, presiding over the vast verdant expanse of field leading to our humble abode.

The first day that we lived in the white house at the bottom of the hill, our mother took us to meet her husband’s father. She tore great hunks of hair out, pulling a snaggle-toothed comb over our heads, straightening our play-dirtied clothing with muttered expletives and sighs of exasperation. When she finally deemed us presentable, she set off up the dusty gravel road and we wend our way after her, quickly mussing our hair and further dirtying our clothing.

We were presented to the husband’s father with a voice full of tender affection, her hands tight and painful on our shoulders as she brought us forward one by one to meet him. He was an old farmer, rolling a cigarette with tobacco stained fingers, squinting at us from across the scarred kitchen table like the dirty ill-mannered specimens we were.

“Call me Pee Wee.” He declared, dropping the crooked concoction he had finished rolling with a lick and a flourish into his lips. His given name was Herman or Howard or something like that. I, being the curious and incautious child that I was, immediately asked why we should call him Pee Wee when Pee Wee wasn’t his name.

“Well, then, why should I call you Betty, when Betty isn’t your name?” He replied, squinting even more so he could take measure of the impudent child who’d dare to question him. Point taken, I dropped my eyes to my shoes and traced the faded linoleum pattern. Satisfied, he pushed himself back from the table with much groaning and grunting and said, “C’mon, I guess you should meet Mother.”

We followed his shuffling steps into the next room, which turned out to be the living room. There, on a hospital bed raised up in the middle of the room, surrounded by what seemed like thousands of tubes and machines, lay a fossil of a woman. It was one of the most terrifying spectacles I had seen thus far in life. I immediately dug my heels into the carpet and tried to resist the pressure of my mother’s hands pushing me forward. For a moment, the only sound in the room was the clicking and hissing of the machines and then the old woman opened her mouth and she rasped, “P. I. E.”.

“Yes, Mother, these are the new grandchildren.” Pee Wee replied, as if the three letters she had managed to pronounce meant something. He looked at us and managed the first fascimilie of a smile we’d seen on his face. “She had a stroke some years ago, ” he explained, puffing on his smoke the entire time he spoke, “ever since her speech has been impaired.”

When my mother’s hand released its vise on my shoulder, I turned and fled the room and the terrifying old woman in the bed, screeching “P. I. E.” after me, her voice audible almost all of the way down the hill. I received a spanking with a belt that night for running from the room but I didn’t care.

We stayed in that tiny house the entire summer….or maybe it was only for a few weeks. Time has a way of flowing and melding, starting and stopping with jerks and jars, blending and disappearing when you are young. Pee Wee, despite his hoary appearance, turned out to be an ally – one who always offered stale cookies and jokes that were beyond our understanding, as well as letting us tromp in and out of his house during those long golden summer days that our mother and her husband slept it off at the bottom of the hill.

Every day, however, we would be required to circuit past the hospital bed of the old woman and listen to her garbled yells of “P. I. E.” before rushing outside in horror and relieved laughter. My mother didn’t help us to understand the woman’s situation – she had a cruel ability to find humor in awful situations and to make fun of everything she didn’t like. She was endlessly disgusted with the new husband, Pee Wee, and the grandmother in the hospital bed. She began to mock the old woman’s way of speaking out of the left side of her mouth, laughing uproariously as she called for “KEY LIME P.I.E.! Apple P.I.E.!”, sloshing her drink as she gestured and mimicked the old woman’s motions. When my sister and I woke covered in the scratchy red bumps of poison ivy, she started calling us the “P. I. girls”, chortling harshly as she swabbed us down with calamine lotion and sent us out, pink and itchy, into the hot sunshine.

One summer afternoon, as we were drinking kool-aid on the sagging front porch of Pee Wee’s house, he pulled out his wallet and showed us the four-leaf clover he had carefully pressed and saved in it. “I got it from that field o’er there.” He said, indicating with the glowing tip of his cigarette the wide expanse of green field before us. “It’s brought me nuthin’ but good luck.” He returned it to his wallet gingerly and smiled with some satisfaction as we abandoned our seats and descended on the field to find clovers of our own.

This hunt would occupy most of the remainder of our summer days that we spent there. We would spend long hours combing through the tangles of grass, dandelions, and clovers, in search of our own bit of four-leafed good luck. My mother watched us from the darkened doorway of our little house, shaking her head with disgust. “You ain’t gonna find one!” She’d call and slam the door to shut out the sight of us.

Within a few days we were pretty sure our mother was right and that we would never find one. My brother and sister slowly lost interest and returned to building a makeshift treehouse in the biggest tree in Pee Wee’s yard out of an old pile of cardboard boxes he’d let us pilfer from his garage. I, however, was a stubborn little thing and I stayed out until my nose was red and peeling, laying on my belly in the grass while I carefully searched for the clover and day dreamed about all of the wonderful things that would come my way once I found one.

I found it late one afternoon, as the sun was starting its slow descent and my brother and sister were hiding from the worst of the summer heat under the fort they had decided to erect once they had given up on a treehouse. At first I couldn’t believe my eyes and my hands trembled a little as I plucked the mystical four-leaf clover from among it’s nearly identical brothers. I counted the appendages over and over again, to be sure there were four before I gave a triumphant shout and leaped up to share my prize.

My siblings were unimpressed, so I skipped into Pee Wee’s house, I knew he at least would understand my excitement. I careened through the kitchen and into the living room, expecting to find Pee Wee asleep in the threadbare Laz-boy in front of the fan. The living room was empty except for Pee Wee’s mother in her hospital bed in the middle of the room. Instantly, my mouth was dry and my heart was pounding loudly in my head as all of my earlier fear of the old woman clamped down on my spine and froze me in my tracks.

Through the large metal bars, our eyes met and I realized that she was looking at me and knew that I was in the room. Usually, she only looked at Pee Wee or gazed unseeingly at the ceiling. Her hand twitched and her fingers moved subtly in a beckoning motion. She wanted me to come closer to her. I did, walking on tip-toe for some reason, creeping silently across the shadowed gloom of the room. The machines around her clicked, whirred, and hissed and as I got closer I saw that she was trying to speak. As her hands opened and closed, her mouth also opened and closed much like the goldfish we used to keep at our old house, before we moved to the tiny house at the bottom of the hill.

I reached her side and looked down at her face, fully looked at her for the first time. Her sparse white hair glowed like a halo, a comma against the pink pillow under her head. Her skin was translucent and thin, I could see the map of veins along her temple. Her fingers were still beckoning and, unsure of what to do, I reached out and took her cold hand in mine. It instantly warmed, as if I had carried the sunshine in from the field and infused her with it. She opened her mouth again and I watched her struggle for a moment before she closed it once more without making a sound. I leaned my head close, within a few inches of hers, straining to pick up her words. What was she trying to tell me? Should I find Pee Wee? What could I do?

Now, up close, listening for words she couldn’t say, our eyes met again and I saw within her pale blue watery eyes a spark of something – an intelligence, a recognition, a humanity I had been unable to see before because of my age, my inexperience, my fear. She had always seemed like just another object in the room and I realized with a start that she was indeed a person. I looked up then, at the rows of dusty pictures in gilded frames on the walls around her and saw, really saw, that it was HER in them: raising Pee Wee as a young man, holding my mother’s husband’s hand when he was just a baby, getting married to Pee Wee’s father in yards of lace and tulle, beautiful and vibrant and smiling. I moved my eyes from the pictures on the wall and back to hers. I gave her hand a squeeze and whispered, “You can tell me, what is it you’re trying to say?”

Her lips parted and she whispered back, “P. I. E.”.

I would like to say that I spent the rest of the day with her, holding her hand and keeping her company. I didn’t. I was five, or maybe it was six or seven. I did what, at the time, seemed like my only recourse. I slipped my coveted four-leaf clover into the palm of her hand and closed her fingers over it. “I hope it brings you luck.” I told her, still whispering, still not breaking the sepulcher like silence of the house, before running back outside to find my brother and sister.
Pee Wee’s mother died that summer. We were dressed in second-hand black clothing and taken to the funeral home where we sat next to Pee Wee, the only other mourner present. He gave my shoulder a hearty squeeze and through his tears thanked us for coming. We lay under the chairs in the back and played tic-tac-toe on discarded pamphlets for the rest of the night, while Mother, Pee Wee, and the husband with no name drank moonshine from Pee Wee’s flask and morosely contemplated life. On the way home, my mother started her “P. I. E.” routine, with a drunken cackle and for once, I didn’t laugh. I told her to stop it, it was mean. Her mouth clamped shut with surprise and she regarded me over her shoulder with distaste, but she kept quiet for the rest of the ride home and I was grateful for it. I knew that it wasn’t the end of my mother’s cruel humor (it wasn’t, she called me P. I. girl from that day on), but I was happy for the reprieve.

My mother’s marriage didn’t last past the summer either and we were soon packing up to move out. I broke away from the car and ran up the hill to where Pee Wee stood on the porch, watching over the comings and goings of the rest of the world as he had for many years and would continue to. I flung myself at him and hugged him, hard. Even his gruff reticence had been a welcome friendship to me. He put me away from him with a flustered “Well, well..” and told me to get on back down the hill before my mom got mad.

I turned to go, but he called after me. When I looked back, he had his wallet open and was pointing with one yellowed finger at the slot where his ID should have been. It now contained two four-leaf clovers, pressed and arranged side-by-side in the plastic window. I choked back tears and nodded. I’m not sure why, but I nodded to him and he nodded back and I ran down the hill, tripping a little and crying even more, back to where my mother waited impatiently beside the car. I watched from the dusty back window of the car as we drove out of sight and Pee Wee dwindled to a dot on the porch; until we rounded a curve and couldn’t see the house, the hill, or the tiny cottage at the bottom any more.

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The Bucket List

So, it started as a late afternoon musing session and turned into a leather bound book of goals – some rather grandiose and probably not achievable, others very mundane, and still others are things that I can’t exactly “do” but can perhaps happen to me (although I did try to avoid the ones that were absolutely never going to happen and were beyond my means) but all are things that I want to do before I die. And it’s a huge list, but it’s gotten me sort of motivated to make things happen.
Here it is, in almost it’s entirety and in no sort of order, my bucket list:

Go for a hot air balloon ride
Cut my hair off & donate it to locks of love. Then grow it out and do it all over again. *half way done with this one*
Get a job I love, really really love, to go to every day
Have a candlelight dinner with someone I adore *this has happened in the past, but would like to actually enjoy such an experience in the future rather than being all embarrassed about it and totally unromantic as I was when much younger*
Own Chanel No. perfume
Have a complete stranger tell me I’m beautiful *out of my hands, I know, but it’s from a list of “things every woman should have happen in her life, written by Audrey Hepburn* Had this happen two times in one night! Yay for darkly lit bars!
Learn to play an instrument again
Get a pedicure *this one is scheduled for a few weeks from now, thanks to my friend Emily*
Make a quilt
Own a home of my own
Learn to dance. Then actually dance with someone.
Own a vintage Hasselblad camera
Complete epic tattoo of joy & love
Road trip across the United States
Quentin Tarentino movie fest with Liz, because she’s never seen all of “Reservoir Dogs” and that’s a crying shame
Hire a personal stylist for a day
Volunteer at a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving
Rent a convertible and drive somewhere sunny – top down, scarf in hair, sunglasses on
Grow a garden
Bet on a horse. If he wins, bonus points.
Inner-tube down a river
Foster puppies for an animal shelter
Have a past life regression
Attend a Catholic mass
Have my fortune told
Read the entire Bible
Read the Koran
Learn to meditate *um, build that forrest Betty!*
Help build a Habitat for Humanity home
Participate in a Big Brothers/Big Sisters Program
Sell something I made
Own a bookstore *yes yes yes yes*
Attend a Broadway play
Attend a Cirque du Soleil show
Go to the Kentucky Derby. Wear a big hat.
Eat a whole bunch stuff I’ve never tried *this list is pretty massive, and includes huevos rancheros, baba ganoush, and sushi*
Eat at a cupcake bar
Go ice skating
Eat a hog dog at a baseball stadium (preferrably in Chicago or St. Louis)
Reupholster a chair (or couch)
Go to a jazz club in New Orleans’ French quarter
Go to the opera
See Monet’s Water Lilies *this one is happening soon!* Did this for my 31st birthday with Ani & Liz!
Go on a cruise.
Bake a cake from scratch. Once I did one, I went on to bake three or four more from scratch.
Try bangs again.
Camp riverside.
Find the perfect pair of brown boots. Because the 30 something pairs I have aren’t the “perfect” ones.
Pay for a stranger’s lunch or dinner. *tried this. Would like a redo without getting flipped off*
Send a birthday card ON TIME to everyone in my life for one full year. *maybe next year, haha*
Plant a tree.
Sleep on an overnight train
Walk through a corn maze.
Drive down Route 66
Swim with dolphins *okay so this one sounds cheesy…but really, I wanna do it*
Visit the San Diego Zoo
See the Grand Canyon.
Travel to a whole crap ton of places. *it doesn’t say crap ton on the list, it is just a HUGE list of places I want to see and experience*
Live in a foreign country for six months (at least)
Watch a sumo wrestling match
Ride a steamboat down the Mississippi River
Visit all of the States
Attend Mardi Gras in New Orleans
Learn to play chess
Learn to play bridge
Grow orchids
Learn to make pottery. Make myself a coffee cup and drink out of it every morning.
See a meteor shower.
Make a kite and fly it
Own a classic car (late 60′s Mustang perhaps)
Learn calligraphy *oooh got a kit to learn this for Christmas*
Read every book by Flannery O’Connor
Watch “Citizen Cane”
Get a Masters degree
Get a PhD
Win a scholarship. Actually get to go to school and use it. *I won a few scholarships but didn’t utilize them when I was younger…sigh* Won the Hoover Psychology Scholarship last week! 5/7/12
Invest money
Get out of debt (umm, before investing, obviously)
Sleep in a castle
Own a vintage Chanel suit
Fly first class
Be a foster parent.
Get my palms read
Sleep in a haunted house
Win over $1000 in a lottery or raffle *totally out of my hands, I know
Be an audience member of a TV show
Get a henna tattoo
Visit a planetarium
Get a massage *gotta get over my being touched phobia* 4/12/12
Travel solo *inspired by Laura Hunter Johnson
Have a tiny cottage office in my backyard *inspired by Aunt Julie
Create my own perfume *I know the base note and that I need some pure vodka*
Go backstage at a concert *umm the Drive-by Truckers thing doesn’t count*
Attend a Murder Mystery Dinner
Meditate for 20 minutes a day for a year (after I learn how to haha)
Learn a new word every day for a year *grow vocab, grow*
Finish a book a fortnight for a year
Go sans television for a year (eek)
Be a maid of honor in someone’s wedding
Hold someone’s hand while they give birth
Be a good parent *is this measurable???*
Get married in Las Vegas
Ride a horse
Go on a blind date
Teach a class
Wear red, red lipstick..in public
Wear a ballgown
Catch a fish
Go vegetarian for a month
Sleep outside under the stars
Make moonshine. Drink moonshine.
Let my childhood crush know how I felt
Join a bookclub and actually stick with it.
Date someone that’s not my “type”
See a musical
See the ballet
Write a letter to my future grandchildren
get CPR certified
Walk a marathon. I would say run, but that’s probably never going to happen
Kiss a total stranger
Send a message in a bottle
Attend a music festival
Have really really blue hair *maybe when I’m 80
Send a letter a week for a year
Take a self-defense class
Learn sign language
Get my conceal and carry license and a little pearl handled handgun for my boot
Watch a foreign film at the theater *will be hard to do around here
Own chickens. Make an omelet from my chicken’s eggs.
Donate to charity instead of giving Christmas gifts one year *umm, judging from this year I don’t think that’s going to go over well haha*
Give only handmade gifts one year
Throw a cocktail party
Buy myself a diamond ring
Attend a ComicCon
Stay at a bed and breakfast
Create a book of favorite recipes to give to Analise when she gets married. Leave room for her to add recipes to give to her daughter.
Visit Graceland.
Watch the complete “Twin Peaks” series
Try contacts
Pick up trash at a park
Tell a joke in an elevator and make everyone laugh *tried this two days ago…..no laughter*
Sail on a sailboat
Swim in the ocean *it scares the bejeebus out of me*
Register to vote. Then – vote!
Learn to sew. Make a dress and wear it.
Overcome fear of heights and jump off of the high dive at a pool (a waterfall would be even better)
Take Analise on a roadtrip to anywhere she wants to go *Chicago, we’ll be seeing you this summer*
Take my pup on a roadtrip *she obviously doesn’t get to pick the destination
Be a mentor or a tutor
Put flowers on Edgar Allan Poe’s grave
Own pearl earrings
Find the perfect little black dress
Visit Lizzie Bordon’s house
Visit Ernest Hemingway’s home in Key West and adopt one of his six-toed cats
Go to a hockey match
Learn to drive a stick shift
See a movie at a drive-in movie theater *I so miss the one in Energy
Take Jay to dinner and don’t let him pay!!
Give up caffeine for a month
Pet a giraffe
Take a cooking class
Go on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail
Donate at least 1% of my income to charity for a year *in progress*
Teach Ani to make lasagna 4/20/12, Ani and I made lasagna together.
Have a professional Katharine Hepburn inspired photoshoot *possibly in progress*
Hold a lamb. Don’t laugh.
Finish an entire crossword puzzle without googling the answers, looking at a dictionary, or cheating. *uh, was working on this, got stuck on one, went back to it and it had been thrown away*
Bowl a strike
Get a hole-in-one (mini golf would work)
Kiss someone under mistletoe *does anyone do that anymore?*
Own a piece of original artwork
Break in a brand new pair of cowboy boots
Join a wine of the month club and actually try all of the wine I receive, even the yucky dry red wine
Own a floppy eared giant bunny
Play paintball
Watch a demolition derby
Start a fire without matches
Get something named after me
Buy a Burberry trench coat
Wear high heels…in public (maybe with the red lipstick ha)
Plan a roadtrip entirely around weird roadside attractions
Watch a scary movie while home alone – without turning on all of the lights in the house
Pick wild berries. Make a cobbler.
Win a trophy or a plaque.
Graffiti something
Start a food fight
Go on a winery tour
Buy personalized stationary
Read all of the books on my “To Read” list. It’s huuuuuge.
Kiss on a ferris wheel while stuck at the top. <–this will require that I get over my fear of heights, as well.
Climb a tree
Own a pair of Frye boots
Join in a scavenger hunt
Be a human guinea pig.
Play matchmaker and set two friends up on a date.
Finish a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle.
Own the perfect leather jacket
Visit the Pez museum
Raise a Bernese Mountain Dog from babydom to very old age
Learn to say thank you to compliments
Be published *I don't count my angsty teen junk*

Welp, there you have it. What do you think? Some of it's silly, I know, but still…yup, that's my list. What's on your list?
Also, anyone want to help me achieve these and/or do these things with me – let me know!

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Dear Aunt M

Dear Aunt M,

We were asked, during my lecture course today, to think about our first time falling in love. And I thought of you. Well, not you, but the time I spent with you, the summer that I turned 14. I fell in love for the first time that year. I spent the summer at your house. I had never even spent a night away from my siblings before and I felt so grown up and special; packing my bag with a new unmarred journal and my Judy Blume books, my hypercolor tee-shirts, and my new bikini. That first night we arrived in town, we went straight to your favorite Mexican restaurant after our six-hour car trip. You ordered me a virgin Bloody Mary and I pretended I liked it for the sake of ordering another – “a vah-gin Marrrry, please”, trying to emulate your way of saying it. You and Uncle M got progressively more wasted and laughed uproariously at your own jokes, as I slowly wilted in the corner and eventually laid my head on my hands and dozed. By the time we arrived at your house, I was too exhausted to pay attention to the tour of the house and the introduction of your housemates, the woman and her nephew who were renting the front half. It wasn’t until the next morning, when I emerged blinking into the bright July sun to discover him sitting poolside, that I realized we would be sharing the house with a Leonardo Dicaprio look-alike. At least, that’s the attributes my memory have awarded him in the years since we last met. Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure he was a ginger and heavily freckled.

His name was Kenny. He was probably 15 or 16 and was so kind to the awkward plain 13-year-old that I was, mooning over him with unabashed adoration. He played cards with me and we spent hours sitting poolside with our feet dangling over, talking about absolutely nothing all summer long. We’d sneak beers and sip them with giggled rebellious glee as the adults argued over the barbecue grill or planned ostentatious dinners that always burned, fizzled, or flopped. Sure, it wasn’t real “love” but it was my first real experience with a crush and there was so much anticipation and joy to those first loves. Sexuality was almost void in our interactions because it was so foreign to us. We didn’t acknowledge sex and yet…it was there in the tingling of fingers that accidentally brushed, play fighting that ended with shaking knees and burning red faces and mutual avoidance for days after. I was in love with his clumsy guitar strumming and his chortles of laughter when I told carefully purloined dirty jokes (usually, though, I’d screw them up or forget the punchline).

I confessed my crush to you, Aunt M, late one night as you were dressing to go out for dinner. You were trying on pearls from your jewelry box as I told you, it struck me as unbelievably elegant. You, too, were kind and only smiled your knowledge of my schoolgirl crush and chose not to tease me for it. “How can I tell if he likes me? How can I get him to like me?” I asked, with all of the earnestness I could muster. As it turns out, a teenager in the first throes of love, can muster quite a bit.

You immediately cancelled your dinner plans, plopped yourself down beside me on the bed, and taught me about feminine wiles. Oh, not the swishing of skirts and fluttering of lashes type of wiles. These were the mechanizations of my mother and women like my mother – good-looking, sexual women that didn’t have to try to gain attention but for some reason did try, too hard almost. You taught me your ways – the flirtations of the long brown-haired older sister that met her husband when my mother stood him up for a date. You taught me the importance of laughter. You tapped my head, hard, with your index finger with its nail chewed to a stub, and advised, “Use your brain, Betty”. You taught me about all of the secret conversations that can occur between a man and a woman that can mean so much and say so little. You taught me about holding on, fighting for what you want, and being strong and proud of that strength.

Maybe I’ve forgotten everything you taught me. Or, maybe I never really learned it. I never did confess my feelings to Kenny that summer and I guess, in a way, I’m glad I didn’t. As it was, I packed my bag in August and left my address for him with the faint fluttering in my stomach that assured me that he just MIGHT write (he didn’t). I never met my “Uncle M”, with whom I could hop on the back of his bike and ride off into the sunset with. And I never really became the type of woman that you were….nor have I become my mother’s type. I’m still figuring out just what type of woman I am. I haven’t, however, forgotten your smile, your warm hand on mine, your earthy smell and long brown bare feet under your cocktail dress. I haven’t forgotten you, Aunt M. I miss you.

Love,
B

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Wish List: Back to School

A sample of what I’ve been ogling for my back-to-school wardrobe. Hil, this sorta answers what I’ve been leaning toward now that I don’t want to wear vintage dresses as much (umm, read that as I can’t FIT in to any of my vintage dresses anymore ha).


This book bag


This tank


These vegan flats


This dress


This tunic



This oversized shirt


This dress


This linen tunic


This top

Oh, and I totally love this backpack too

Which backpack do you prefer?

What I’m looking for: clothing that can easily go from work to school, WITHOUT looking like I’m a pudgy middle-aged dumpy desk jockey (which I totally am but I don’t want to look it!!). All of these I can wear with flats and a cardigan to work and then throw moccasins or cowboy boots on for school.

Any other suggestions are welcome!

Also, obviously, I *heart* etsy.

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