This Could Have All Been Prevented If SOME PEOPLE Weren’t So Selfish

I had a craving today. For the first time in quite a while I had a craving. What usually happens to me is it gets to be time to eat and I know I need to eat something but nothing sounds particularly good, but today I had a specific need. I am craving a cookie.  But not just any cookie, a specific cookie. I need an M&M cookie. There are a number of places that sell cookies around here but I doubt that any of them sell M&M cookies.

So I asked my resident cookie expert about it. “Do you think Aroma’s sells M&M cookies?” I asked her. I’m sure that K, will be exceedingly grateful to be thought of as the resident cookie expert.

“I do not believe they do,” was her considered response, followed by, “I have a recipe for those at home.”

“Great!” I said with false exuberance. “I would like to you to run right home, whip up a batch for me and bring them right back!

“No,” she said without hesitation. “If I go home, I’m not coming back.”

“Imagine that,” I replied. “Not to mention that whipping them up and bringing them right back isn’t really possible.”

“If I go home, I’m not coming back,” she said again. “Besides, I don’t think I have any M&M’s.”

“I’m sure there are stores between here and your house,” I encouraged.

“No. If I go home I’m not coming back,” she repeated.  Just in case I hadn’t gotten it the first time.

Realizing I would get no satisfaction from K, I turned to my friends at Twitter, where my friend Stacey had just reported the following:

@ieatsnowmanpoop: im hungry

I told her:

@riggledo: I want M&M cookies but none seem to be in the offing. Dammit!

@ieatsnowmanpoopi haven’t had those in forever

@riggledoMe either and suddenly, I have a craving. I needs me some M&M Cookies, Pronto!

It became apparent that K, known on Twitter as @unsvelteangel was not going to accommodate my craving so I was going to have to fend for myself.  Soon I announced for the whole of Twitter (or at least the 161 people that follow me) that:

@riggledoGoing in search of the holy grail! Well, M&M Cookies anyway. Since @unsvelteangel won’t go make me some!

And so off I went, in search of my M&M cookie.  I was fairly certain I would not find one and fully expected to have to settle for something less but at least I could try.  I marched up the street toward one of three possible locations in search of my prize and of course, there were no M&M cookies to be had.  They did have three, large, old-looking chocolate chip cookies but I was hoping for something better.  So I left.

I turned back toward my office building and toward the bakery that is right across the street from my office but that I was confident enough wouldn’t have M&M cookies that I didn’t go there first.  I walked in the door of the bakery, looked in the case and froze in my tracks.

The proprietor, “Not Emil” looked at me.  “Hi Kevin.  What can we get for you?”  “You don’t have any cookies?” I asked incredulously.  “What the hell kinda bakery is this, doesn’t have any cookies!”

Not Emil told me that he had just sold his last one, but I could go up the street to their other shop and buy cookies from his brother, Emil.  When I walked in the door to that location the case where the cookies generally are was also nearly empty and I was beginning to feel as if it were a conspiracy and then Emil said, “We’ve got a whole bunch, fresh in the back.  What kind do you want.”  Emil’s cookies are $1.00 a piece or three for $2.50 so naturally, I was required to purchase three cookies.  He wasn’t kidding when he said they were fresh, I could feel the heat emanating from the bag as I walked the three blocks back to the office.  Once in side the building, I passed through the lobby, entered the convenience store and picked up the final ingredient.

Returning to my office, I took the chocolate chip cookie out of the bag, placed it on a plate and dumped my final purchase out next to it and I posted this:

@riggledoThis is the best I could do. (sigh) M&M1

Since I had to buy three cookies anyway, I purchased one Chocolate Chip, one Sugar Cookie and one Snickerdoodle.  I pulled the Snickerdoodle cookie out and ate it straight away.  I then pulled out the sugar cookie and took a bite of it and popped an M&M in my mouth.

You see,  I have had two kinds of M&M cookies in my life time.  One kind is of the Chocolate Chip cookie variety where either the chocolate chips have been replaced with M&Ms or there have been chocolate chips & M&Ms.  The other variety has been sugar cookies with M&Ms in them.

Furthermore, I don’t generally eat Plain M&Ms when I’m going to be eating M&Ms… plain.  I prefer the Peanut variety.

Let it be known now and forever after, that peanut M&Ms and Sugar cookies do not go well together!

I finished off the sugar cookie and then I started in on the chocolate chip cookie with the M&Ms and finished off every morsel…

And then I posted this:

@riggledo: Because @unsvelteangel wouldn’t make me any M&M Cookies, I had to go out and buy three cookies and a package of M&M’s and eat them all….

And a few minutes later:

@riggledooh and also… ooooooo, I don’t feel so good…..

I’m sure there’s a moral to this story…  I’m too sick to figure out what it is, but there must be one…  Perhaps you’d be so kind as to supply it in the comments field below…

A Month of Travel, Part 4

Two weeks in Tulsa. Mostly good times with a little frustration and tongue biting. Good visits with my best friend. Healing with my mother. Two weeks in Tulsa.  Two weeks is more than enough!

Finally, on July 14th, I left Tulsa and went on to the next leg of my trip. The one I had been planning for months before. While in Tulsa I had done a bit of shopping and purchased some additional clothing items I hadn’t had when I got there. When I arrived at the Tulsa International Airport at 6:30 in the morning, I walked into the Delta Airlines doors to find a crowd of people standing around and no semblance of any sort of line or order.

I walked up to the crowd and stood in what I hoped was a line for a few minutes not sure what was going on. There were three kiosks in the middle of the crowd, each with three separate terminals for self check in, but I’ve found those difficult to use in the past, especially when you do not have the credit card that was used to purchase the tickets so I stood for a few minutes hoping to move forward in this line and be invited to the counter to check in. Since I was checking a bag anyway, it only made sense to go to the counter, but after a few minutes it became apparent that this was not a line and there was no order or logic to the goings on. A ticket agent would call out a name and someone would randomly step out of the crowd to go to the counter.

I decided to give it a shot and much to my surprise, I was able to check in using the kiosk, without incident. I returned to my spot in the “line” when I was finished and not five minutes later my name was called as a ticket agent held up a long, white strip of paper, I recognized to be a luggage tag. I politely made my way through the crowd to the counter, guilty that I had such a short wait when so many of these people were standing around when I arrived but relieved that things were going so smoothly and that I would have time to avoid a repeat of my experience at the San Francisco airport on the first day.

I walked up to the counter, hoisted my suitcase onto the scale, made note of the weight and hoped no one else would. As I was making my way to the counter, the woman who had called my name turned around and walked back toward the other end and now as I prayed to the luggage handlers union gods for leeway she came back to where I was waiting.  “What do we got?” she asked loudly. Apparently, we were putting on a show for the entire group. “Oh. That’s 54 pounds.”

I stared at her, blinking. “Is that a problem?” Every airline has a limit and I didn’t know what Delta’s was but surely it couldn’t be less than 50 pounds. Surely this wasn’t enough over to matter.

“Yes sir! It’s gotta be fity pounds.” She hollered back at me.

I thrust my weight onto my left hip and threw my shoulders back in my best attempt at incredulity as I looked at her and said, “Seriously?!”

“Yes sir!” she hollered again, “it’s gotta be fity pounds, otherwise I gotta charge you fity dallahs.”

Now I ask you, honestly, what do they expect you to do in this moment? You’re standing at the airport. You’ve probably been dropped off and left to your own devices. It’s too late to change your mind about anything. There’s a crowd of people around who want you to hurry up and finish your business and get the hell out of the way so they can be next. There’s no time for hemming and hawing. No time to evaluate what you’ve brought and think about what you could give to friend or family member who drove you. No time to do anything. It’s a racket, plain and simple. And I could understand if my bag was 70 or 80 pounds and the limit is 50 but 54 pounds?

Fortunately, I remembered exactly how my bag was packed and what was where. I realized I could reach into the top most part of the bag and put my hands on a plastic bag with three books in it. I tugged on the zipper and opened the bag far enough to shove my arm down inside, felt around for the familiar feel of plastic and the block shape of three stacked books and pulled the bag out. I reached for the zipper to close the bag back up when she said, “Now it’s fity-two pounds,” as if that was all that needed to be said.

“Really!?!” I was exasperated now, “You’re going to charge me for two pounds?!?”

“Yes sir,” she said. “If it’s fity-one pounds it’s fity dallahs.”

“There’s nothing else I can take out of there besides my dirty laundry,” I said. Can you at least give me a shopping back to put it in?”

She looked dumbly at me and said, “I don’t think we got any a them.” And she walked away.

My dirty laundry was neatly folded and stuffed inside a plastic grocery bag, one of the not very thick variety and while it was, therefore self contained, it was not particularly private. I pulled the bag of laundry out of my suitcase and noticed that the weight was now 47 pounds. Might as well shove these books back in there, I thought. With the books back in and the dirty laundry out my suit case weighed 49 pounds. I was just zipping the suitcase back up as she came back.

“How’s it lookin’ now?” she called boisterously.

“Did you find a shopping bag?” I asked, knowing she had not looked.

“Nuh-ah!” and she turned and looked at one of her co-workers. “You ain’t got any shoppin’ bags back there do you?” And before the co-worker could even respond she turned back to me and said, “Nah, we ain’t got any of them.”

“Mm hmmm,” I replied, seeing how much effort she had put into my plight. “its 49 pounds,” I said stretching out my arm and placing my hand in front of her palm side up. “I’ll take my fifty dollars, now, thank you.”

She looked at me, confused.

“Well, if it cost me fifty dollars for 51 pounds, then I figure I should get fifty dollars for 49 pounds.”

She laughed. Clearly I must’ve been joking. “’Fraid it don’t work like that,” she said, her gold tooth sparking back at me. “But you do get my service with a smile.”

“Yeah. That and the fifty dollars you’re not giving me won’t get me very far.”

We completed our business and I headed on my way, once again, without any direction about where to go for my gate. This time I learned from my previous mistake and looked at the boarding passes in my hand carefully to make sure I knew which one was for my first flight and found the gate number. The signs were clearly marked and I found my way to my gate with no problem and with time to spare. I even had time to stop in a gift shop where I found another t-shirt I liked, bought it, and was graciously given a big enough bag to put the shirt and my grocery bag full of dirty laundry into.

Five hours and two bumpy flights later I landed in Albany, New York. Having been seated in seat 1B for both flights, I was once again, the first one off the plane. My Brother-in-Law David showed up with my two nieces, just in time and with suit-case in tow we headed out.

It’s funny how when you don’t know where you’re going, it feels like the trip takes forever, and this trip was no different. It couldn’t
have taken more than 15 minutes to get from the airport to my sister’s house, but it seemed a lot longer. I told David when I got in the car that I had an envelope I had to mail from a blue mailbox. Mom had given me a piece of ministry related mail that had to be mailed that day and had to go from a blue mailbox. I didn’t matter what city it was mailed in, just as long as it was mailed that day. I looked for one at the airports as I went along but never did find one so I needed David to take me to a mail box. Since I hadn’t eaten yet I was also quite keen on the idea of lunch. Of course David and the girls had already eaten so there was no rush and he thought it would be wise to go to their house first to drop off my suit case.

At the apartment, the girls went directly to the play ground outside their front door and David lead me in the house where he introduced me to a young man by the name of Brent who has been staying with them for a couple months…  Everything is relative and when I say, “young man” I’m talking about a 22 year old. We spoke briefly and then David and Brent started talking about going to the Garage to work on Brent’s 1951 VW Bus.

I reminded David that we had to mail this envelope and he told Brent they’d work on the Bus later. I then reminded David that I was hungry. He asked me if I wanted to just find something at the house. I reminded him I needed to mail this envelope today and we headed out again, dragging the girls away from the playground.

We drove to the post office where David and Erin get their mail and while he checked their mailbox he told the girls to show me where the outgoing mail was. They lead me around a couple of corners to the desk where there were two people in line in front of me. As we stood waiting for our turn, my younger niece, Regan, decided she wanted to show me how fast she can run. There’s little that I find more enjoyable than watching small children running around unattended in semi-busy, public places…. Especially when I’m the one responsible for them.

Several minutes past and just as David came around the corner to find out what was taking so long, I was called up to the counter. As I was walking up to the counter I looked across the space at a wall we had passed coming over and saw several slots in a wall, with a clearly marked “Out-Going Mail” sign over them.

I looked at the woman at the counter, who fortunately had a smile on her face, and said, “I’m from out of town, and my nieces were being helpful and showing me where the out-going mail goes.” I mouthed an apology, to which she smiled, nodded and said, “No problem,” as she took the envelope from my hand.

After the post office we headed to McDonald’s so I could get some lunch and no sooner had Regan gotten out of the car but she made a b-line for the yard next to the building and the flowers planted under the windows. She promptly grabbed hold of one of the flower buds and snapped it off. As she walked back toward me she carefully and meticulously pulled the extra leaves off the stem and then held the murdered blossom up to me which I gratefully accepted with proper grandeur and adulation.

While we sat in the restaurant, I with my Big Mac and Fries and the girls with their Oreo McFlurries, yes ies, David looked up and out the window to see at large pick up truck with some sort of lift kit installed pull into the parking lot and park next to his Nissan Exterra. He started craning his neck as it drove in to get a look at what kind of “package” it had and finally determined that it was some sort of substandard, “generic package”.

As we backed out of the parking spot next to the truck, he looked it over again. “That’s a [insert vehicle specific nerdy boy knowledge which I do not possess here] with a [insert more nerdy boy knowledge about after market lifting equipment I also do not possess here],” he said. To be fair, I recognized it to be a black four door pick-up truck with a full sized back seat and a full sized bed and a brand name that anyone would recognize but which has now escaped me.

“Erin says that’s what I should get,” he told me, “a pick-up big enough to haul the family around in and put my own [insert more nerdy boy knowledge about lifting equipment here] on it.”

Without batting an eye, I turned to him and said, “So you’ve got a small penis, huh?”

 

When we returned to the house, and entered through the garage on the other side of the house from the playground the girls were only too happy to stick with me instead of going out to play… Especially after I pulled out the presents I bought them. They were lame presents to be sure, but presents nonetheless. Well, anyway, I thought they were pretty lame presents…

You see, while in Tulsa, I had bought a box of honey nut cheerios for my breakfast. Inside the box was a silly little pencil topper with a springy figurine from the latest Ice Age movie. One morning, my mother said, “I think we need to get another box of that cereal and get some pencils and notebooks to go with them and you can give one to each of the girls. Woo hoo! I thought. Pencils and spiral bound notebooks, how exciting! The eye roll is implied.

Turns out, my mother knew what she was talking about. I bought Spiral Notebooks with dog pictures on the fronts (different pictures for each girl) and matching pencil bags and pencils. The girl’s loved them and immediately began “writing” me things.

Regan is four (will be five on Wednesday) and while she can’t write letters and words yet, she “wrote” or more specifically “writed” me several pictures. One was a picture of me as the sun, shining down on me as a man, in a field of me as flowers. One was a picture of Family Trees (which I found particularly amusing). They were trees… a family of them. A momma, a papa, and a coupla kids. And then she writed one more, described it as she drew it and then she augmented the picture, tore it out of her binder and brought it to me where she said, “Here. This is you, naked in the trees, at night, in the rain.” And then she pointed at an accurately placed dark square and a dark line and said, “And these are your pee parts.” Then she folded the paper several times into a small square and said, “Don’t let your mommy or daddy see it.” (Naturally, I showed it to my sister when Regan wasn’t around.) Come to think of it… I don’t know if I wasn’t supposed to let my mommy and daddy see the picture… or my pee parts… I’m not planning on showing them either one really so it’s OK.

Caitlin will be seven in November. She is learning to read and write and was able to actually write a few things in her book for me, before she got bored and started writing me pictures as well.

While this was going on David and Brent cracked open a couple of beers (at 3:00 in the afternoon) and parked themselves in the living room to watch old episodes of Star Gate on DVD. I found myself babysitting the kids while we sat on the stairs. I decided to pull out my computer so I could show the girls some pictures of them when they were younger. Every time a new picture came up Regan would call out, “Oh that so cute!” Um, yeah, honey? Half these pictures are of you! As we were getting close to the end of the picture review, David and Brent were finishing up an episode and came back to the kitchen for another beer. They came over to the stairs to see what was going on at which time Regan magically produced an elastic band of sorts that she wrapped around her head before pushing it back up shoving it under her bangs.

I looked up at Regan and began to laugh as I said, “She looks like Olivia Newton John.”


Ladies and Gentlemen, let me tell you it’s amazing how much difference three years can make and how old a person can be made to feel in the span of a few seconds.

“She looks like Olivia Newton John”, I said as I glanced at the boys.

There were crickets chirping.

I looked at Brent who, again, is 22. “Do you even know who Olivia Newton John is?” He just shook his head.

I looked at David who is three years younger than I. “You know who Olivia Newton John is, right?”

More crickets.

“Sandy?”

“Greece?”

“Let’s Get Physical?”

“No?”

In unison they shook their heads and said, “No.”

So I sent them to bed without any dinner.

I thought I was going to finish this story in this final post but it’s become apparent to me that is not possible so stick around for more, soon.

A Month of Travel, Part 3

It is, of course, never a good thing, when a family member gets sick and needs to be cared for.  But sometimes something good can come from such a situation.  We’ve probably all seen a movie or two about a character returning home to care for a sickly parent and finally finding a way to heal a relationship or themselves.  I admit that perhaps watching some of these movies may have influenced my assumptions or expectations about what would happen when I went to Tulsa to care for my mother.  It’s true that I had an idea in my head about being there and having her being terribly ill and in need of care and therefore being completely dependent on me.  And it’s true that I imagined having a storied experience of healing with her.  And I got my healing, in a way very different from what I expected but no less valuable.

Other good resulted from this trip as well.  Due to the relationship with my mother, I hadn’t been back to Tulsa in five and a half years which means that the only chance I ever had to spend time with Heather, my dearest friend was when she came to California on her annual Thanksgiving pilgrimage out west to visit her Grandparents.  Since I was in Tulsa, to take care of my mother, I was afforded the opportunity to visit with Heather as well.

The first night we got together Heather, her fiancée, Joe, and I went to a local Tulsa eatery called Zio’s.  It’s the quaint little Italian restaurant on one of the main strips in town.  Zio’s has been in Tulsa for close to fifteen years and I used to eat their frequently before I moved away.  It was at Zio’s that I was introduced to a dish called Spaghetti Half & Half.  It’s incredibly simple being nothing more than a bowl of spaghetti pasta with both Marinara and Alfredo sauces poured side by side over the top.

This was always my favorite dish at Zio’s and I have craved it many times in the ensuing years.  (I’ve made it myself at home a couple times but it’s never the same.)  Imagine my horror, then, when we sat down at the restaurant and I opened the menu, only to find that it no longer includes “Spaghetti Half & Half.”  Fortunately, they have a “create your own” option now; select your pasta, select your sauce and if you want it, select your meat.  Let me just tell you, adding chicken to this dish does not improve it one bit.  Oh well.

After dinner, we went back to Heather’s house and watched a movie.  Joe had mentioned Borat and Heather mentioned that she’d only seen a little of it.  I had never seen it at all, and now that I have I wish I could still say that I haven’t.  That’s the problem with bad movies, you don’t know they’re bad until you’ve already seen them and try as you might, some things can not be unseen.

The next time I got to hang out with Heather, it was just the two of us.  Joe went camping, claiming he wanted a little “alone time” and then proceeded to text and e-mail Heather every half hour or so.  Heather showed me around her studio (She’s a massage therapist – something from which I’ve never benefited) and then we went to dinner at another restaurant in Tulsa called Cosmo.  It’s a cool little joint that reminded me quite a bit of some of the coffee shops and such that I hung out in when I was in college.  The menu was unique and the food was tasty.  After that we went back to Heather’s house and watched “Yes Man” (where I got my inspiration for my other blog).  Afterward we sat and talked for a couple hours.  It was so nice to sit and have a mature, rational conversation with someone who doesn’t always see things exactly the same way I do, but is interested in hearing my perspective anyway.

I really treasure these times with Heather.  They don’t happen nearly often enough.  I’m afraid now that she’s getting married they may happen even less frequently.

And then there’s this.  I wrote this post, also on my previous blog in January of this year.  When I think about it, my heart breaks just a little bit…

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radioactive-happiness-face

It was my plan to write today about happiness.  How sometimes, happiness is a choice and one that can be very hard to make and how frustrating it is to have to make that choice over and over again.  That was my plan.

I just got some news that upset that plan and, of course, me.

I’ve written in the past about my dear friend, Heather.  I met Heather when I worked in retail 12 years ago.  I liked her and enjoyed our friendship but some things happened along the way that for a time we weren’t as close as we once had been.  When I moved to California, I assumed I’d never see her again, indeed, I never thought I’d speak to her gain.  I don’t think I realized then, that her grandparents live in the bay area and she has a long-standing tradition to come to the bay area to visit her grandparents the week of Thanksgiving and when the time came for her to come visit the first year I was here, she contacted me and invited me to come hang out.

I was really glad she did, and with the trappings of our previous work relationship, and with all the rumor and hushed conversations of others out of the way we had the opportunity to really grow in our friendship and our love for each other.

Earlier today, I logged on to Facebook (evil site that it is) and found that I had been “tagged” in a note by Heather.  I looked at it to find that it was one of those “25 random things about me” lists.  (Random thing about me #1:  I’ve been dreading being asked to complete one of those!)  As I read her list, I noticed that number 15 said this, “My mother and I have an amazing relationship, I die a little inside knowing I have less than 12 months to spend with her before she moves to the west coast.

“Awesome” I thought, “Now maybe she’ll make more trips out here and I’ll get to spend more time with her.”

Heather told me years ago that her mother was planning to retire to the Bay Area so she could be close to her parents.  I always secretly hoped that Heather would move with them, or shortly after them, and we could be close again.  A few years ago Heather’s mother took a huge hit when the stock market faltered and she lost a significant amount of money.  Apparently, that’s when they decided to move west, but some place a little less expensive.  So today, I asked Heather about this:

Self:  So I didn’t realize your parents were going to move here so soon. Where are they going to live?

Heather:  In Portland, OR or Vancouver, WA.

Self:  Oh. I thought they were moving here.

Heather:  No.  And, my Grandparents are even moving up to Portland or Vancouver, too.  So this Thanksgiving will be the last time I head out that way

Self: Oh, no.

Heather: Yup.  So I’ll get to see you in Feb and in Nov and that’s that for awhile.

Self: Well, you’ve just totally bummed my day!

brokenheartThis is tragic!  My heart is absolutely breaking!  I don’t know what my life would have been like without her in it.  I don’t know if she had any real impact on my existence, other than to have been the one person I knew I could come out to and know there’d be no negative repercussions.  But I know that these brief, and few and far between, visits that we’ve shared over the last 11 years have meant the world to me, and they’ve been the life’s blood of our friendship.

I feel like our relationship is ending.  Is that silly?  I mean, in this day and age with Instant Messengers, and Facebook and iPhones with text messaging, is that silly?  The problem is, I’m doing what I always do.  I’m thinking about this a few steps ahead.  Yes, I’ll see her, however briefly, when she comes out to visit next month, and I’ll see her again very briefly in November.  The visits will be fun, but they’ll go much too fast, and there will be a cloud over them.  And in November, when she walks me to my car (if she walks me to my car) and hugs me and says good-bye.  It will be for the last time.

I haven’t been to Tulsa in five years.  My sister and her family have moved to New York.  I’ve lost touch with all of my other friends besides Heather.  I love my Mother, but I can’t stand to be around her for long.  Going back to Tulsa, really isn’t in the cards.

Ultimately, I’m only a very small part of Heather’s life and I don’t fit into the rest of it.  I’ve met her boyfriend twice, but I don’t know him, I’m not completely comfortable with him and I don’t think he’s completely comfortable with me.  I’ve never met his two children but I know they’re troublesome and I don’t really feel like I should be involved in that.  And despite the way I speak of Heather, we don’t really have the kind of connection where I would be welcome and convenient as a part of her every day life, however briefly.  Therefore, going to Tulsa, with the purpose of visiting her doesn’t seem likely.  And even if I did, I couldn’t get away with being there and not seeing/visiting/staying with my mother.

So, I’m doing what I always do.  I’m thinking about this a few steps ahead and what I see happening is, our interaction will dwindle.  Heather is never on Instant Messenger any more.  Occasionally, I talk to her via the chat function of Facebook, but it’s not very convenient and it’s very infrequent.  We exchange one line comments and topics on Facebook but it’s all very superficial.  We don’t spend much time on the telephone.  And text messaging is no way to carry on a conversation.  Soon it’ll be nothing but comments on each other’s Facebook activity.  I don’t imagine I’ll ever see her again.

funny-pictures-sad-cat-blackandwhiteIt is at a moment like this, when I’m faced with difficulties and sad things that are not within my control, which really aren’t about me, that I remember just how much of an effort it is, how much hard work it takes to be happy and at this moment, I can’t put forth the effort it requires.

A Little Backstory

In the middle of writing a post about my recent trip, I realized I hadn’t properly introduced my readers to my dearest friend, Heather.  The post is about Heather so, I thought, rather than completely side tracking myself with an explanation of who Heather is to me, I’d pull this from the Archives of my old blog.

This post was originally written in November, 2008.  Check it out and come back around for the next installment of my Month Of Travel.

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My retarded clever gene has struck again.

I’ve tried three times to start this post in a clever way and nothing seems quite right, so I’m just going to be straight… eh’hem.   So to speak.

The love of my life is coming to town.  I’m totally stoked!  She’s bringing her boyfriend.  I could do without that.  Not that there’s anything wrong with him, he’s actually a really nice guy, but her having a boyfriend means she’s not pining away for me and I’m not loving that.  Her name is “Eve” (as in “All About… “).  OK, it’s not really, but she will be the first person to tell you that “it’s all about me”, and she won’t be kidding.   It would be annoying and a real turn-off except that part of what is all about her, is her genuine interest and care for the people in her life.  Her real name is Heather.  She has an amazing ability to turn that “it’s all about me” selfishness right on upside down into a selflessness that is completely unparalleled.

Now, if you’re a regular reader (and if you’re not, you should be!), I’m sure I can imagine what you’re probably saying to yourself right now.  “This dude is gay.  Why is he talking about a woman as the love of his life?”  And you’re probably right.  It’s a little bit odd.  But I guess you’d have to know us.

Heather has a far clearer picture of the real me, than anyone else in the world, I think.  I shudder at the thought that maybe she doesn’t know it all, and if she did, I’d finally succeed in driving her away.  Lord knows I’ve worked pretty damn hard at it over the years.  But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

I met Heather around the middle of 1995, I think (may have been 96, I’m bad with this stuff.  But she’s not.)  I was working as an Assistant Manager at the Men’s Clothing Store that happened to carry a moniker deceptively similar to but has no affiliation with that of a former NFL Running Back but which has since gone out of business, when Heather transferred in from the Salt Lake City store.  She was a year younger than I which is to say, she moved to Tulsa, because she still lived with her mother and her mother moved to Tulsa for work so therefore Heather moved to Tulsa as well.  Heather was essentially placed in our store by the District Manager who didn’t ask the Store Manager for her opinion or an interview and therefor Heather was starting out on the losing end.

The fact is Heather had everything you want in a “sales girl” in a men’s clothing store you want to be viewed as “young and hip.”  She was young (19), beautiful and very flirtatious.  Before her mother’s job brought them to Tulsa, Heather was the strongest seller in her store.  This is the reason there was no question whether she’d be brought onto our staff when the call came in.

Heather was instantly disliked by the Store Manager, Jodi because Heather was “forced” upon us, and by the First Assistant Manager, Paul because of no reason that I can identify.  It’s possible that Paul was just loyal to Jodi and that was all it took.  I don’t know.

Heather has an amazing memory.  Stunning even.  She remembers specific events, and specific things that were said that I have no recollection of whatsoever.  She consistently blows me away with the things she pulls out.  I on the other hand, can’t seem to remember jack shit!  I don’t really remember how I came to be friends with her.  In fact, I thought things were somewhat tense between us.  I remember more than one occasion when Heather drove me to my car at the end of our shifts.  It was the holidays and the lowly mall employees were relegated to parking in the middle of BFE so that the precious patrons wouldn’t have to walk very far.  On more than one occasion we had conversations about why she was having trouble with Jodi, and what Heather could do differently to win her over.  Heather tells me, however, that there was rumor and speculation about me having had feelings for her.  Looking back, I realize that’s probably true.

Jodi quit soon after Heather joined us and we got a new Manager named Becky (Oh. My. God.)  I remember that Becky and Heather usually worked the day shift together which did not make Heather very happy because there was far less business in the day time than there was any other time, but that’s how the schedule usually came together.  I remember walking into the store one late November afternoon and finding Heather standing in the front window, waste deep in a gold leme faux gift box.  Becky felt that Heather would be fairly artistic and that she should do the holiday window display.  I have two specific memories from this day and no idea what order they come in.

Memory #1:  I’m somewhere in the store, doing something store-like, and I hear a yelp.  I look toward the front of the store as Heather slowly turns around to face me, biting her bottom lip and a glisten of fought back tears in her eyes.  When she could speak again, after the bleeding had stopped she revealed to me that she had been holding a piece of our semi-industrial strength packing tape in between her lovely lips while arranging the tissue paper she was about to tape in place and when she literally yanked the tape out of her mouth, some of the flesh from her lip came with it.  It was one of those things that we knew we’d laugh at some day, but you should have seen her face in the moment.

Memory #2:  (I’m guessing this one comes first.)  Heather is in the window up to her eyeballs in paper and gift wrap and clothes and mannequins and I hear her say, “Oh sure!  Make the Jewish girl do the Christmas display!”

That year we decided to have a “Secret Santa” gift exchange in our store.  The rule was that we would not spend more than $10.00 and there was a sheet behind the register where we were supposed to put down ideas about what our Secret Santa could get us.  I remember very little about how the whole exchange went down but I remember that I had picked Heather’s name.  Most of the staff went into the thing with limited (read: negative amounts of) gusto and most of the gifts amounted to $10.00 gift certificates (yes! Certificates, not cards!) to Blockbuster, or a music store, or McDonald’s (actually some of those college kids really appreciated the McD’s certs) or a $10.00 bill stuck into an envelope.

By this time Heather and I had become friends and there was no tension that I can recall, so I really wanted to give her a good gift.  I didn’t care about the Secret Santa.  I didn’t care about the $10.00 limit.  I wanted to give my friend a good Christmas gift.  You see, gift giving is a major weak point of mine and I’m always disappointed by my own poor gift giving acumen.  But Heather had let something slip.  “James and the Giant Peach” was coming out in the movie theaters and she wanted to see it.  She mentioned one day that “James and the Giant Peach” had been her favorite book growing up.

It was one of my good days and I was paying attention.  I made a mental note and when I got the chance I went and found a pristine, hard cover copy of “James and the Giant Peach.”  Now, as I’m writing this I’m realizing, I may even have special ordered it.  You know, it’s funny!  To me, giving a book as a Christmas gift isn’t a big deal.  That has a lot to do with the fact that my paternal Grandparents used to send us books from foreign countries, travel guides I think they were, all the time.  Every Birthday and every Christmas we could count on getting a book from the grand peeps.  And to tell the truth, it sucked!  So big deal, I thought, so I got you a book.  It’s only special ’cause it’s your favorite and I thought it’d be nice for you to have a pristine copy. But to hear Heather tell it, it was a big deal.  It seems like she’s told me it had to have been expensive.  Whatever was so special about it, it was certainly grist for the rumor mill.  I didn’t care.  I’d done something nice for my friend and she was grateful.

And then tragedy struck.  Heather decided to take up her Dead Beat Dad on an offer to come to Idaho where he lived and work in his office.  Two years earlier I had taken up my own Dead Beat Dad on a similar offer for many reasons.  I couldn’t blame her for going.  I had already done the same thing.  But as I recall it (which is admittedly probably faulty) this is the moment that it hit me.  This woman matters to me. And I was about to lose her.  I was terribly sad she was going and didn’t really know how to tell her.  I wanted to ask her not to go, but I had nothing to offer her to make her stay.  So I said nothing.  And she went.  And we lost touch.  I was never very good at long distance relationships.  Even my relationships with my various family members have suffered from distance and with one notable exception, I’m not convinced that’s a bad thing.  But I digress.

Heather left me and I was devastated.  But two years in Idaho was enough for her and she moved back to be with her mother, and Heather and I were back on…  So to speak.  There was no aspect of our relationship that pointed at romance.  Heather never expressed that kind of interest in me and I certainly didn’t have the cajones to try and make something happen, so there we were, smack dab in the middle of friend central.  A few years ago I asked her in an instant message conversation if there was any chance we would have ended up  together if I had not moved to California.  She told me “I don’t know.  It’s possible.  But I’ll tell you this much.  You wouldn’t have stayed a virgin for so long.”  (You should have seen the looks on my co-workers faces when the realized that boom they heard was me falling out of my chair.)

Something unusual happens when Heather drinks alcohol.  She gets very drunk, very fast, on very little.  And then a half hour or so later she’s perfectly sober.  No doubt a breathalyzer would disagree, but for all intents and purposes she’s good.  After she moved back to Oklahoma Heather met a guy and despite his name, he did not live in a giant peach, and despite his not living in a giant peach, I’m still going to call him “the Pitts”.  (Hey my clever gene is waking up.)  The Pitts was an ex-husband and a father of two children, and a carrier of a nasty little venereal disease, none of which did he bother to mention to Heather.  So on one particular evening when they were together and Heather’s odd metabolism had done its worst, she convinced him they should have sex.  The Pitts, apparently resisted (only a little I’m sure) but she told him, “C’mon.  You know we’re gonna do it eventually, why wait?”

So they did.  Under protected.  If ya know what I mean.

The Pitts left her with two “gifts” that night.  Not long after that, he just left her.  When Heather knew she was pregnant, she told me about it.  I was a terrible friend, for I was still under the influence of my Mother and had not yet learned to form my own ideals and principles (yes, even in my early 20s).  Heather told me, “I don’t know if I can do this.  I’m not sure I can keep it.  I’m thinking of having an abortion.”  I don’t know what I said, or how I reacted, but I know something in me changed that night, at least for a time.   Abortion, I thought, how can she consider an abortion?  Abortion is wrong.  If she does that, she’ll be wrong.  I can’t be friends with someone who has an abortion! Far be it from me to just support my friend through whatever she may be going through without judging her actions.

We drifted again.  At the time that she told me this I was contemplating a change of my own.  I soon made my move to California, and while we talked some after that, we lost touch again.  The few times that we did talk after that I never asked, and she never said, what she’d decided about the baby.  It wasn’t until the following October that she made contact with me again and told me that she and her parents… and her son were coming to California the week of Thanksgiving to visit her grandparents and that if I wanted to we could get together while she was here.  It was at that moment that I realized just how much I missed her, how much she had meant to me and how I had just walked away from it. I’d like to think that I’d have felt this way regardless, but I admit that when I heard her say “my son” and I knew she had not had the abortion, my heart skipped with joy and relief.  I guess somehow that made her acceptable again.  I’m a terrible friend.

There is more to this story I haven’t the time to tell now, but suffice it to say, Heather is my dearest friend!  She means the world to me, and we have a relationship that defies explanation.  We hardly ever talk to each other, probably more my fault than hers, but when we do see each other, every year, the day after Thanksgiving, like clockwork, set your watch by it, for ten years running?  It’s like we never missed a day.  It’s awesome and I wouldn’t give it up for the world!  My Mother asked me to come “home” for Thanksgiving, the other day.  I told her, “No.  I have a prior engagement.”

The love of my life is coming to town, in 16 days.  I’m totally stoked.

A Month of Travel: Part 2

Most of my time spent in Oklahoma was uneventful.  I’ve already written about my interactions with my mother and the changes that have taken place with both of us in our relationship so I won’t rehash that again.  I’ll just say that I’m at once encouraged and disappointed in how things went.

After my last post from Tulsa, a conversation went down in which I expressed exactly what I’d said in the post.  It started out innocently enough.  After much cajoling, arrangements had finally been made for one of my mother’s friends to come spend the evening at my mother’s house so that I could get together with my good friend Heather.  The plan was that my mother’s friend Dorothy would come over around 6:00 in the evening and eat dinner that I would prepare for them and then hang out with my mother until she was ready to go to bed.  My mother was pretty self sufficient in small increments and would be ok by herself for a little while if I wasn’t home before Dorothy left.

Mom and I were discussing what would be an appropriate meal to prepare and we’d pretty much settled on Salmon with Asparagus and a Salad.  If this sounds familiar (It’s what I described cooking the first night) it’s because we had a lot of Salmon with Asparagus and Salad.  I asked a couple things about whether or not Dorothy would want a certain thing on her salad or on her salmon.  Finally Mom said, “There is only one thing that I know Dorothy doesn’t like and that’s coconut.  Only in Dorothy vernacular it would be ‘I don’t eat coconut.’”

Dorothy grew up in a proper, southern home near Little Rock, Arkansas.  I laughed and said, “Yes, because to say ‘I hate’ would be ugly and improper.  It’s not right to hate.”

Mom replied light heartedly by saying, “Yeah.  They should make it illegal.”

I laughed.  I didn’t think I was laughing all that loudly, but I must have been because I didn’t hear the warning bells that were surely sounding loudly in my ears, “WARNING!  WARNING!  DANGER ZONE! DO NOT APPROACH!  WARNING! WARNING!”  Instead, I reflected on recent events and the news and said, “Yeah well, they’re working on it.”

It was as if a dark cloud descended over her and where only a moment before a jovial smile had adorned her face, now there was anger and disdain as she said, “Yeah.  Isn’t that a mess.”

“Why is it a mess?” I asked.  I was utterly shocked that my supposed peaceful, God-loving, Christian mother could possibly have anything against the Hate Crimes Bill.

“Because!” she said, “Just you watch.  That thing’ll pass and then the next thing you know they’ll be suing churches.”

I’m sorry, what!?  “Who will be suing churches?”, I asked.  I was sure I knew who she meant.  I guess on some level I just needed to make her spew her venom.  I needed to hear it, to know that what I thought she must be saying was, in fact, what she was saying.

“Gay people!  You just watch!  If this thing passes the next thing will be Gay people, suing churches for discrimination.”

I couldn’t believe it.  I couldn’t believe that this woman who raised me and raised me to be respectful to people was spewing such bigoted hogwash that was so completely out of right field. Not only was it bigoted hogwash but it was clear to me that she was speaking from a position of ignorance.  I knew, and tried to convey to her, that the Hate Crimes Bill is not about discrimination.  It isn’t even about equality.  It’s about harsher penalties for those would perpetrate violence against others simply because they hate what that person is or what they perceive that person to be.  I also pointed out to my Mother that everything I’ve ever seen that relates to “equality” does (and I believe rightly so) provide exclusions for religious organizations.

My Mother would not be swayed, “Just you watch,” she told me. “It will happen.”  So what else could I do?  I rolled my eyes and said, “OK, Mother.  Whatever you say.”

Don’t think for a minute that she could let it stand at that.  She went on a diatribe about how wrong homosexuality is and how given the chance it will destroy this country.  And she tried to support her argument with Biblical doctrine.  “Do you not understand that?” she asked me when she was through.

“I understand that not everyone sees it the same way you do, and that doesn’t automatically make them wrong,” I answered.  “I understand that there are multiple ways to interpret things and that it’s not absolutely clear that your way is the right way.”

“There are not multiple ways to interpret it!” She enthused.  “There’s only one way to interpret it.  It’s through out the Bible.”  So apparently there is only one interpretation of the Biblical scriptures and if you’re not sure of the interpretation, just ask my Mother, she’ll tell you.

I could have told her that I have found alternative explanations.  I could have told her that there’s a whole society of people who feel that the Biblical references on which Christians have built their entire structure of judgment and hate toward homosexuals, could just as easily, and with more substantiation, be interpreted to be about hospitality, and against violence and rape.  I could have told her that I’ve found multiple sources, scholars who have devoted themselves to the languages and the understanding of the ancient text who have agreed that the words that have been interpreted to be homosexuality, do not exclusively mean homosexuality, or in many instances can not be translated at all.  I could have told her that the consensus seems to be that the word Homosexual doesn’t even appear in the bible before the latter part of the last century.  I could have told her all these things.  But it was clear that she would not believe me (and really why should she?) and that she would not be open to considering any other possibility other than her own.  So I said nothing.

A silence fell over the table as we continued to eat our lunch.  And then suddenly, “I’m not an ignorant bumpkin, you know,” she said.

“I never said you were an ignorant bumpkin,” I told her.

“Well, you guys sure act like it,” she replied.  I assume she was referring to my siblings and me.

“I don’t think you’re ignorant, or a bumpkin,” I told her.  “I do think you’re highly judgmental and unkind.”  I paused for a moment and then I said, “I have been amazed in the time I have been here at how much time and energy you have spent being angry about any number of things over which you have no control.  You think the world is a terrible place and everything is offensive to you, even though most of it doesn’t impact you directly and none of it can you do anything about.  I just think that must be exhausting for you.”

Sadly, from there the conversation went down hill.  She asked me to give her examples of what I was talking about.  And the only examples I could give her were her commentary on the movie we’d seen the day before when she said, “Oh it was pretty good, I just wish people didn’t have to just jump in to bed with each other all the time.”  I pointed out that it would’ve been sufficient to say that the movie was good.

Her response was that she was answering a question I had asked.  Then I pointed out her reaction to the movie preview for the upcoming remake of Fame, where she was disgusted at the way these “children” were acting.  “People forget that these are 13, 14 and 15 year olds, acting like that.”  I didn’t think the actors looked that age, and seriously doubt that they are that young.

She asked for more examples and I told her I couldn’t give them, because I don’t sit around keeping a tally.  “The point is you get irate about things on an on-going basis and I think it must be exhausting and you could be putting that energy to better use by letting your body use it to heal faster.”

I didn’t expect there to be a change and I’m not surprised there wasn’t, but I felt much better because I didn’t just sit around biting my tongue.  I expressed my view and I didn’t back down, just because my Mother didn’t see things the way I did.  So, I guess in truth there was a change, just not the one I might have hoped for.

My Mother’s bosses were out of town most of the time that I was visiting however they were home for one day and on that one day they took Mom and me to lunch.  At lunch they discussed making a deposit that they had brought back from the trip.  There were a number of credit card charge slips that needed to be put through their electronic credit card machine.  It was decided that we would go by their office after lunch so that we could get the credit card machine and a few other items from the office so that Mom could make the deposit (and by Mom I mean me.)

Boss and I walked into the office with a mental list of things to bring out: Credit Card Machine, Deposit Book, Endorsement Stamp and Hand Lotion.  The last item was for me.  Once we got inside I noticed that the machine was almost out of paper so I called out to the car where Mom was waiting with Mrs. Boss and got instruction where to find more rolls of paper.  Boss and I returned to the car with Credit Card Machine, Deposit Book, Endorsement Stamp, Hand Lotion (for me) and two rolls of Machine Paper (even as I’m writing this I’m realizing this doesn’t sound like much) clutched in my hands.

Later that afternoon, while it was just Mom and me at her house, she made a comment, in a fairly light tone, “Only two men would go in there with that list of stuff and come back without a box or bag to carry it in.”

In the past my Mother has been Jenny on the spot with negative, derogatory comments about men.  This was the only time she made this kind of comment during the whole two weeks I was there, so this is progress.

I replied to her comment with “Only this man walked in there with the presence of mind to make sure you had enough machine tape to do your task so maybe you’ll just be grateful for what you got.”  She decided I was right and let it go.

The rest of my visit with my Mother was fairly uneventful except that it gave me some time to reflect on my life and my relationship with my Mother.  I realized that I was much happier than I’ve been in a while because I neither had to go to or think about work.  I was off work for 26 days including week-ends, so I had a long time, with income, not to think about work at all.  I realized quickly that this is a clear indication that my work environment is not right for me.  I must get out.  I just haven’t figured out how to do that.  Something happened last week that made me seriously think about walking out, but I read today that unemployment in California is at 12%.  It seems unlikely that I can even count on getting work through a temp agency so quitting my job could amount to cutting off my nose to spite my face.

But I know something has to change and quick.  I’m at my wit’s end!

More updates about my trip to follow.  There was a whole week with my sister and her family that was a whole lot more eventful and fun than the time taking care of my mother and before that I did get to spend two separate evenings with Heather, so I’ve got good stories to tell as well.

Ya’ll come back now, ya hear?