Friday, May 22, 2009

The Simple Life

I am a very simple person. Really. I am not high maintenance and can easily manage myself with very little outside supervision. Somewhat absent minded, somewhat lacking in common sense. Introverted to the point of self-involvement, but hey, at least that means I am not wasting much of your time, yet able to bring forth some measure of empathy when called for.

I need only the following (and the order of priority changes day to day):

1. Periodic non-sexual attention from the spouse.
2. More than periodic sexual attention from the spouse.
3. Knowledge that my grown kids are occupied, safe and reasonably content.
4. Knowledge that my dad, even if not living an ideal of life is safe and reasonably engaged.
5. Books, in any format, with a steady stream instantly available so I never have to worry about being stuck with 'nothing to read', a fate almost worse than death in my mind.
6. Occasional acknowledgement of my existence from my cat.
7. My Mac Book and a fast Internet connection - and the charger that goes with it.
8. My iPod/iPhone, full of my music and the charger that goes with it.
9. Occasional updates on the health and well being of extended family and my few closest friends.
10. My sheets changed regularly.
11. Some dirt to dig in periodically. Actually planting something would be nice but not mandatory.
12. A refrigerator stocked with my food necessities of the day, which right now are: Diet Coke (always) jello sugar free pudding, celery, baby romaine lettuce, baby spinach, sun dried tomatoes, reduced sugar peanut butter, Havarti cheese, skim milk, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dried cranberries and pecans. Oh and occasionally some chicken or tuna salad thrown in for good measure. There are always more foods I like, but this collection can keep me going for weeks.
13. My bathtub and bath salts
14. Lulu Guinness perfume (the original scent)
15. A couple of personal appliances that shall remain unnamed.
16. If forced to leave the house, appropriate clothing beyond my yoga pants/tee shirt or nightgown.
17. Yoga
18. Reliable transportation to periodically get me from here to there, but I'm not picky about the mode - whatever works is fine with me.
19. Tweezers

That's about it. Certainly a bountiful of needs compared to those of a monk. But still, if you think about it, it's not a lot in the big scheme of things.

I need to remind myself of this periodically. Knowing this makes me content. I could want or demand far more from life, but I've learned the hard way, that more rarely equals better. So I can live happily with what I have.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Just Checking In

Not sleeping. Not sure why. Usually not a problem for me.

Work has actually been going well, at least until today. I'm back to working far too many hours, but I'm only working as much as I feel like. Between increased office time, doing some gardening, opening up the porch for the summer and various other projects, weddings, parties, etc. (not to mention some very interesting new marital adventures) I haven't been that interested in my trusty MacBook (or as my family calls it - my square headed boyfriend). So, less posting, less following of blogs, less everything.

That will change. It always does. I tend to have the attention span of a gnat. Till then though, be well.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Yes, This is a Look of Extreme Disinterest On My Face

A couple of years ago I read a very interesting book - The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier. A rather warped but wonderful take on the afterlife, certainly as plausible as any other ideas floating around. I highly recommend it.

The central character, central because every other character in the book existed solely because she did, is the very last person alive on earth. Certainly not a character the reader would envy. Definitely a frightening and lonely existence.

Today I say give me frightening and lonely please. I actually do envy the lucky fuck at the center of this novel.

Some people have the ability to project this air of caring compassion, even though they are incredibly self-centered and anything you say to them goes in one ear and out the other. While you are talking they are maintaining eye contact, nodding their head at the right moment and wincing sympathetically whenever you pause. You are certain they are taking to heart every word you say.

What they are actually doing is deciding what they want to eat for lunch, what book they are planning to read next, if their butt looks big in their slacks, and when will this jack-ass ever shut up? To them your voice sounds just like Charlie Brown's teacher in the animated cartoons. No matter how profound your comments, your listener hears "Waah-waah-wah-wa-wa waaha."

Almost all the time, I am that listener. Except minus the ability to project an air of caring compassion. Most the time I have trouble drumming up even an air of mild disinterest.

And yet, some days it seems like the whole world lines up to air their grievances and bare their souls to me. It happens so consistently and in large enough numbers that I am pretty sure there is a concentrated effort by the rest of the world to force me to focus on every one's thoughts but my own.

Maybe an email goes out calling for volunteers. Maybe there is a phone tree. "Hi. Just reminding you that you're scheduled to annoy Lulu for 30 minutes next Tuesday by talking about the boil that has popped up on your butt, your marginally intelligent son's futile quest to get accepted at Harvard, your endless list of sins attributable to your ex husband, the bastard, and why your grocery store quit selling your favorite brand of peanut butter. Oh, an don't forget to call the 10 people on your list and tell them they are scheduled to bug her that day too."

People ... people. Take a closer look at my face. That blank stare you get when you start prattling on is there for a reason. It is saying "I don't care." It is screeching "Go away-leave me alone." When I look disinterested, shockingly, it's because I am.

I say this not just in the hope of getting people to leave me the hell alone. I say it for the rest of the world's benefit. People tell me things, concerns, worries, partly because they think I can help them, or fix what is broken. I can't. It takes everything I've got some days just to remember to feed the cat, wear shoes that match and open the garage door before I start the car. Don't count on me. I sure don't.

Thank you. I feel much better now.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Books That Came To Me

Nixy Valentine wrote about what makes libraries special today. It brought back such a flood of memories I couldn't contain them in a comment on her blog.

When I was growing up a Bookmobile parked three doors down from my house, every other week. I am always surprised when someone doesn't know about bookmobiles, so let me explain.

Our bookmobile was a mobile library that moved throughout our area in order to bring the library to the people. I've always assumed they were intended for rural communities where access to an actual library was limited.

I grew up in a mid-western suburb about 3 miles from the nearest public library branch, so I've never understood why we had a bookmobile, but was elated that we did.

It was a converted small bus with bookshelves lining the sides and a single shelf down the middle. Small and cramped, but to me it was paradise. I grew up in a house full of books, they were usually the most common gift we received at birthdays and Christmas. Plus, we made regular trips to the public library and my schools had well stocked libraries.

Still, the bookmobile was special. It came to me. And if I told the driver what I was looking for, the next time he came, he would hand it to me, holding it back from everyone else, just to grant my request.

Through that bookmobile I devoured the entire series of Nancy Drew, Bobbsey Twins, Donna Parker and Cherry Ames. I owned some of the books in the Little House, Anne of Green Gables and Louisa May Alcott series, but the bookmobile provided me the rest.

Besides the more recent series, the bookmobile introduced me to so many classics, The Little Princess, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms, Hans Brinker and Heidi. As I grew older it introduced me to Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, The Catcher in the Rye and Pride and Prejudice.

My bookmobile gave its greatest gift to me by introducing the book that is still my favorite today - A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith. That book speaks to me in a way no other book ever has. I read it again every three or four years. But I will never forget the first time I read it, selecting it from the bookshelf in the cramped bookmobile, walking up the street to my house, I was so excited I couldn't even wait until I got inside. I sat down on my front porch, opened the book, and fell in love.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Just What You Didn't Know You Wanted

Mother's Day still surprises me every year. I know the day itself is coming, I'm just still surprised and a little disbelieving that I actually qualify as an honoree of the day. Which is a little disturbing since my eldest child is closer to 30 than 20.

I have been a mother for over a quarter of a century and I'm still not sure I understand how that actually happened. I mean, I understand the science behind the condition, but the fact that I am a parent still catches me off guard.

Up until shortly after my eldest was born and almost died, I was absolutely convinced I would never be a parent. The role didn't interest me, didn't suit me and didn't deserve me, at least it didn't deserve my ineptitude and incompetence. I'd had a less than stellar role model. And at the same time I was honest enough with myself to know I had not been an easy child to raise. I sure the hell wouldn't want to raise another me.

I have frequently felt so unprepared for the job that even though the closest I ever came to medical school was my high school biology class, I probably would have been better equipped to be the doctor in the delivery process, instead of the potential parent. Even today I sometimes feel my kids would have been better off if I had taken the role of obstetrician instead of mother in their introduction to the world.

While I can admire them, I will never be able to relate to women who's life calling is to be a mother. I've never had the maternal instinct 'pull' that those women have.

But I have learned that while maternal instinct may not be overflowing in me, it seems to show up when I really, really need it. The best way I can describe it is to say I go through motherhood in stops and spurts. For long periods of time that instinct lays fallow, not called on, not needed. But periodically the small reserve of maternal instinct I do have senses danger, trouble or anxiety involving my children and that instinct launches into hyper-drive. Like the 90 lb weakling who gets such a rush of adrenaline they can lift a full size car off a person trapped beneath it, for short spurts of time, when it is most needed, I become Super Mom.

I will never be the mother either of my children deserve. But in spite of my ineptitude both of them grew into amazing adults. Fortunately their Dad is a wonderful Dad for both of them. He makes up for a lot of my parental shortcomings. As they grew and matured I found parenting easier. Now that we can relate as adults, I find being their friend extraordinarily easy.

Mother's Day reminds me of something terribly important. Sometimes you don't know what you are capable of or what you need in your life. When you are this dense, periodically the gods, your dead ancestors, the tooth fairy or whomever you believe in smacks you across the head and in their infinite wisdom presents you with a gift you didn't even know you wanted. When that happens, shut up and take the gift.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

An Abbreviated and Partial Listing

I will not:
  • Join AARP.
  • Join any women's organization that has anything to do with 'Red Hats'.
  • Frequent the website WOWoWOW.
  • Stop Using Profanities.
  • Stop listening to new music and new artists.
  • Ever even think about moving to a Retirement Community.
  • Go to the Dr. more frequently than I get my hair cut and colored.
  • Talk about going to the Dr. with as much excitement as I talk about a vacation, a wonderful book or a great movie.
  • Discuss my medication, high blood pressure, cholesterol level or any other chronic condition I might develop in the future.
  • Stop showing cleavage when the occasion calls for it.
  • Buy any clothing from Quacker Factory or other labels of its ilk.
  • Wear holiday themed clothing - no sweatshirts with pumpkins and witches, no sweaters with Santa and a Christmas Tree.
  • Stop making love, having sex or just plain fucking.
  • Ever apologize for anything I did in my past or be embarassed of the laws I broke.
  • Stop pointing out injustices or jack-asses to preserve my personal comfort.
  • Start tolerating stupidity.
  • Stop being curious.
  • Stop learning new things.

Friday, May 8, 2009

It's Circus Time

Right now I am just leaving my office on a Friday night. Terribly sad. As usual I am turning off the lights and locking the place up.

I've worked in the same field since I was 20 years old. I've done extremely well for myself and considering I am employed in a very old, very conservative industry, if you have to be employed in this industry, my special niche is probably about as glamorous as it gets. I certainly experience a great deal more diversity in my day to day work than others in this line of business do.

I've also been responsible for managing staff for 15 years. I've managed as few as 5 and as many as 50, predominately professionals. Overall I've enjoyed it. I like, or used to like, training people, encouraging and motivating them to succeed. I'm not a particularly personable or warm person and have always been uncomfortable with the sympathetic/empathetic aspect of managing staff. I know how to manage to each persons strengths and weaknesses, I just don't enjoy doing it, so anymore, I don't. Well, I still do, sometimes. But it no longer feels natural to me. Through the years I've become very adept at the distancing part of managing people. I've learned the hard way how difficult it is to manage friends. I am surprisingly efficient at firing people, something I am ashamed to even admit.

This is the career and industry I know. It is a career and industry that can still, on occasion, entertain me. But by and large, I am bored much of the time. And boredom, far more than happiness or pleasure, governs my attitude and my attention span. And this is the dirty secret about why I am always the last person at work in the evening. For the first time in my career, my attention span seems to last for shorter and shorter durations. So I work longer hours, just to accomplish the same amount of work I would have accomplished 2 years ago expending an hour to hour and a half less time. I need more breaks and more distractions to get through the day.

I think sometimes that I would like to try something new, walk away from what I do, have done for so long, and do very, very well. So many obstacles. Let's see - old dog, new tricks comes to mind, unwillingness to make certain adjustments at this point in my life, comfort level, reputation and respect and then there's the big one ... money.

I am not ready to even begin contemplating retirement. I know it is not a stage of life I will handle gracefully. Fortunately, it is still many years away.

But, I am wondering, am I too grown up now to run away and join the circus?

A Warning

Recently I wrote that I wanted to get back to my original purpose of this blog. Trying to write honestly about how I feel, what I am learning, what I think and not worrying about who will read it, and how it will be perceived, banking on the probability that very few will ever read it and I will never know how it is perceived.

Somewhat easier said than done.

But, in honor of my trifecta I am giving myself a gift. Between now and the 16th I am going to try to post more frequently and post about what I really want to talk about at the moment, no matter how inane or foolish I sound. We will see how this goes. I don't do foolish well.

Time Flys, While Standing Still - The Dates that Count

This weekend is the start of the annual trifecta in my family. Between now and May 16 falls Mother’s Day, my birthday and our wedding anniversary.

At the time the stars aligned, I didn’t plan for these momentous occasions to fall so close together. I was actually born on Mother’s Day and every six (or is it seven?) years, the two events collide. My mother never forgave me for the inconvenience of labor and childbirth on a holiday created to recognize her supreme sacrifice and one of the few upsides she’d discovered to the whole parenting thing.

Twenty years later, she decreed that no daughter of hers would bring shame to the family by becoming a teen-aged bride. Three days after my twentieth birthday, I married.

I’m not sure why we started calling this time of year the trifecta. It probably has something to do with the fact that the Kentucky Derby runs right around these dates. Ever since I became a mother, the most recent of the 3 holidays I qualified for, we treat the individual dates more like a season. A low key season to be sure, but a season.

My sister in law, who believes in massive celebrations for every personal holiday, (she manages to stretch her April birthday celebration into a 30 day bacchanal) feels sorry for me that all 3 days fall so close together. I miss two other occasions each year to be feted. She says it is almost as sad as being born on Christmas.

I like the symmetry of it though. It sounds old fashioned and decidedly un-feminist to say, but the natural progression from birth to marriage to motherhood sort of appeals to me. I can’t decide however, whether I should shoot for dying during this time frame or not. It seems fitting to do so.

On the other hand, I had no say in being born, and had no plans to experience the other two events up until a good 10 minutes after each one had happened. Marriage and motherhood never factored into my plans and ambitions. I stumbled into both and realize daily how lucky I was.

Time has been a great deal on my mind lately. In earlier posts, I’ve touched on how my view of time and its constancy is evolving. As I approach the annual reminder of the three most momentous events in my life, I am again rolling the idea of the passage of time around in my head.

While I realize the marking of events by days on a calendar is artificial, it is the way humankind marks events. The number of hours in a day, days in a week, weeks in a month and months in a year may be supported by mathematical calculations, but they are not elemental. Not essential for our existence. We could decree tomorrow that we will start measuring and marking the passage of time by a single revolution of Saturn around the sun, by the passage of Halley’s Comet by the earth, or the life cycle of salmon.

If we changed our measurement of time, what would happen to my birthday, my anniversary? How would it be marked? How would I know when to expect gifts, breakfast in bed and extra-special anniversary sex?

Fortunately, I don’t see this as an issue looming large on the horizon. We are creatures of habit, so while our current method of delineating years isn’t perfect (think: leap year) we are not likely to change to Saturn’s or salmon’s cycles anytime soon.

The real question is, the year after I die, is my birthday still my birthday? Does the fact that a person, now dead, was born on that date have any relevance? I always remember my Mother’s birthday, twenty years after her death. I remember my grandparent’s anniversary. I celebrate neither. No presents, no breakfast in bed, no extra-special anniversary sex. After I am gone, no one else will remember either event.

Even birthdays of the dead that we do celebrate – Lincoln’s and Washington’s – have become inaccurate for convenience sake. So, do I pause in quiet appreciation of Lincoln’s birthday on February 12th or on Presidents Day?

I like the idea that for as long as humans exist on earth and their measurement of time does not change, May 12th will always be my birthday, whether anyone is alive who even knew of my existence or not. It isn’t the remembrance or the celebration that marks the date. It is the fact that the date exists and on that date in one year of thousands, I was born. It is another small way I mark my immortality, my existence beyond the finite borders of birth and death.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

WAG #10 Participants

Here are the participants in WAG #10.  Please read and let them know you enjoyed their work.  Instructions for next week are below as well.  Thanks!

Peter Spalton

Nancy Parra

Iain Martin

Gunnar Helleisen

Christine Kirchoff

Heidi Ervin (New WAG Member!)

Dasos (New WAG Member!)


Next week’s Writing Adventure:

Spider Bite“WAG #110: Scaredy-Cat” Another people-watching exercise! Choose a stranger and observe him/her for a little while. Now give them a phobia. A full-on, jump on the chair, scream like a little girl, unreasonable fear. (Or however you imagine them to respond.) Try to choose something that fits the person you’re watching, and let us know what it is about them that clued you in to their secret fear. The object is not just to describe the fear, but to make us understand why it fits with this particular person.

Special thanks to Christine Kirchoff for this week’s topic idea! Email NixyValentine AT gmail DOT com to contribute topic ideas. It’s very helpful!

Post the results on your blog, and read this post about the group for information on how to notify me so your post will be properly included in next week’s list.  (Note, please include WAG #11 in the subject heading and tell me how you want your name to appear! If you do not, I will use the name as it appears on your email.) Deadline: next Tuesday, May 12th.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Writing Adventure Group #10 - I Butchered This

Here is my entry to WAG #10. The instructions: “WAG #10: The Professional” As we go through our days, we’re surrounded by people doing everyday jobs: the guy that reads the gas meter, cashiers, bank tellers, security guards, doctors, circus clowns… This week, your assignment is to observe someone doing a job (their profession should be one you don’t know that much about). Describe him/her and also what they’re doing, why they’re doing it (as best you can tell), and how. Feel free to use your imagination, but don’t forget the concrete observation!

I grew up in the beef capital of the world. As a child I would go to lunch with my Dad at the steakhouse restaurant in the stockyards. Going in through the backdoor, scraping my Keds at the boot scrape for the stockyard workers, it never dawned on me that what I was eating came from the cattle I saw moving through the chutes as we walked from the parking lot to the restaurant. Once I realized where my sandwich was coming from, that restaurant lost it's appeal.

Today, while we buy our groceries at a large, modern and well appointed supermarket, we still buy our meat at a small, old fashioned butcher shop. It's my husband's idea, not mine. I do best when I don't think about, much less look at, where meat actually comes from and what it looks like before it is delivered to me in pristine, white, butcher paper.

I try to send my husband, a handy kid or anyone I can rope into going to the butcher shop so I don't have to. Occasionally though, it can't be helped. I have to go to the meat market. I have to look at and interact with the butcher.

Butchers alternately repel and fascinate me. If I think about what they do, I can't eat the product they create. Yet I am fascinated about why a person becomes a butcher. What makes them decide that they want to work 40 hours a week cutting through dead muscle, fat and bone, trimming what was once part of a living creature into an unrecognizable mass wrapped in Styrofoam and plastic wrap?

I watch the butchers at my meat market and wonder what they do when they go through the white swinging door with my bone-in Boston Butt (a cut of pork used for my family's secret recipe for pork tenderloin sandwiches) and come back with a pile of translucent, paper-thin slices of pale pink elasticity with all trace of bone removed. What do they think about as they slice through that hunk of hog that used to be the hind quarter of a living creature? And what exactly goes on in that back room that am I not supposed to see? It can't be as bad as what I imagine. At least I hope it can't. My imaginings run to the carnage in the first 20 minutes of the movie Saving Private Ryan.

Is being a butcher more or less pleasant now that the meat comes to them already partially processed and their job is made easier thanks to the advent of electric saws, grinders and tenderizers? Do the old-timers still reminisce about their long-retired favorite cleaver?

Do butcher's prefer to work with a specific animal, much like an artist prefers still life to landscapes? I would assume that some butchers work better in the chicken medium than the pork. Is that true? Why? Is it a visual, olfactory or a tactile preference?

If I were forced to become a butcher tomorrow, something I haven't given much thought to, I think I would prefer chickens over red-meated animals. Even though the only chickens we eat now are boneless, skinless breasts, I have cut up whole fryers before, without disgusting myself too much. But I've also watched chickens have their necks rung or their heads chopped off. I've seen the headless bodies jerk and jump. And I realize if I was a butcher, I would picture that process every time I picked up a fryer or a hen in order to separate the thighs from the legs, the breasts from the wings.

As I've studied butchers through the years I have made one interesting discovery. As a kid I remember feeling nauseous when I'd watch a butcher, who's white apron was heavily spattered with blood, talk to my grandmother about such questionable meat products as suet, gizzards, blood sausage and that great mystery - mincemeat, all of which she used regularly. By my observation butcher apron's today are considerably less bloody than they were when I was a child. I don't think this is one of those instances where my childhood perception of something is warped by the passage of time. I think they really are less bloody.

Which begs the question, do they just change their aprons more often, or has the miracle of modern science somehow engineered cattle and poultry so they aren't as bloody as they used to be?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

A Train Wreck that Didn't Wait to Happen

We just got home from a wedding. I’d never met the bride. The groom is my husband’s friend. We’ve been introduced, but I don’t really know him. I was happy to go anyway.

I like weddings. Especially weddings that I am not in and I am not paying for. People are generally well behaved and they look their most presentable.

I usually get teary-eyed. The only wedding I’ve been to as an adult that didn’t make me weepy was my son’s. However, the bride and I were the only 2 people in the packed church not sobbing. I think the two of us determined someone had to remain calm and collected and since no one else seemed willing to fill that role, least of all my son or his father, it fell to us. But that is another story.

I’ve never met a married woman who doesn’t cry at weddings. Sometimes for joy, sometimes in sorrow, who can say. There aren’t that many events that trigger wedding memories so it isn’t unexpected that while the couple of the hour are saying their vows, the married people in the audience are thinking about another ceremony, another day.

When I think back on my wedding, specific moments, responses, and reactions will be forever burned in my memory. It’s nice that at least a couple of times a year we get invited to a wedding and I can spend a few minutes leafing back through those memories and savoring them again. The greatest hits list of my wedding includes the following:

1. My mother, in her infinite logic, decided to have my dog put down the morning of my wedding. She thought I would be so consumed with wedding nerves, I wouldn’t have time to be upset about the death of my pet. So while I was getting dressed, my older brother was given the task of delivering my beloved Scotty to the vets for his own ‘special’ day. Then, to assure I truly would be too busy to focus on her announcement, she apprised me of the act just as we arrived at the reception.

(Even though it dilutes the impact of this tender tale, in an effort at full disclosure I will admit that my dog was suffering terribly from a condition that medicine could no longer control and more than one vet had told us there was nothing else they could do for him. So the action wasn’t unreasonable, the timing just sucked.)

2. The week before the wedding my then fiancĂ©'s aunt loudly labeled my cousin a ‘filthy scab’ at a wedding shower my cousin was hosting. This was the result of a heated argument squished between insipid wedding shower games. The subject was an upcoming teacher’s strike in our state. Actually ‘filthy scab’ was the tamest of the invectives my future aunt by marriage used. She had a foul mouth. A really foul mouth. I usually admired her colorful use of profanity. I’ve been known to repeat a few of her more original epitaphs myself. But, that day I wasn’t admiring. I was livid.

Bows and ribbon were flying, the little pastel mints were aimed and thrown with deadly force. My future mother in law was trying to shield my new china place settings with her own body. I was frantically looking for the Sabatier Boning Knife I’d just opened. Whether to hide it from my cousin or use it myself, I will never know. But I was ready to call the whole thing off. It took my soon-to-be husband several hours in the back seat of his car to remind me again why I wanted to marry him, regardless of his aunt. The wedding back on, I still threatened to carry the boning knife down the aisle, in case his aunt did anything else to piss me off.

3. Shortly before the wedding, my grandmother, did her duty and had a ‘talk’ with me about married life. Her major concern had to do with my insubstantial dowery. Evidently the paltry 6 sets of pillowcases and the 7 'days of the week' tea towels I had painstakingly embroidered between the ages of 8 and 12 - which I admit, didn’t exactly fill my hope chest - reflected poorly on her. But this was not the lead-in to the discussion. It was prompted by my showing her the entirely appropriate undergarments I’d bought to wear on my wedding day. I happened to mention my fiancĂ© was with me when I purchased them. This revelation led to one of my grandmother’s famous non sequiturs. With a straight face she pronounced -

“I have never allowed your grandfather to shop with me for such intimacies. Nor would we ever even discuss such things. That would be as good as admitting I actually wore them.”

The ‘talk’ went downhill from there. I often wondered how she would have reacted if I confessed that sometimes, I actually did not.

4. All of my attempts to exclude my father’s new wife from the festivities failed. It wasn’t that I didn’t want her there. It was that I hated her. She was a year younger than my oldest sister. She was sickeningly sweet and dishonestly devout; a beautiful porcelain doll, but the facade masked Medusa. She made my dad downright giddy. According to my husband, this last offense was because she possessed ice-cream cone tits. Evidently the engineering skill required to get those breasts in that specific type of bra to assure that you always saw her boobs at least 5 minutes before she actually entered the room, and they were always positioned parallel to the floor, appealed to my father, the architect. Or so the logic went. All I knew was when she entered a room she sucked all the life out of it.

My parent’s divorce was bitter, scandalous, and still very raw. But my mother assured me that with a little help she could rise above the occasion and survive the forced proximity. Unfortunately my mother’s helpmates were Valium and vodka, both of which I generally discouraged. For my wedding day though, I gladly accepted all the help they could give her. I personally witnessed her take her little pills, and kept the vodka bottle close by.

5. At the reception I backed into my husband, who had a cigarette in his hand, and caught my wedding dress on fire.

Then, there was the crooked paint-by-number (I’m serious) larger than life-sized painting of Jesus above the alter that took center stage in our pictures. There was the obvious fact that all members of the wedding party, except for my dad and possibly the minister, had recently indulged in some form of mind altering substance. I could go on and on.

Ah, good times. Good times. I think I will skip weddings for awhile.

A Different Voice

I finally mentioned my blog to my husband a couple of weeks ago. I wasn't worried about him seeing anything I wrote. But we live so closely in each other's pockets, sometimes it is nice to do something without the other knowing. This never lasts too long. We are both compelled to periodically spill our guts.

When I finally told him about Liar, I got the reaction I expected. "That's nice babe, have you seen my ipod/car keys/glasses/ball cap/laptop/earbuds/cellphone?" I suspected he read a few posts, just to make sure I didn't embarrass him too badly and once reassured, he promptly forgot about it.

So I was surprised when he told me he'd written about the Neil Young concert he'd just gone to. Surprised not that he wrote about it, after all it combined several of his obsessions - music, Neil Young, tube amplifiers and hybrid cars. Surprised because he asked if I would think about posting what he wrote. I told him I was glad to share, as long as he wasn't expecting an actual audience to read his words. He said he realized this wasn't exactly Huffington Post, so I am happily obliging:

When Neil Young came to my hometown in concert, he did not disappoint the faithful that came to see the legendary performer who’s music and socially conscious voice has been strong enough to keep shining from the decade that ushered in Richard Nixon to the decade that ushered out George Bush.

The evening began without a formal announcement about the opening act. The band Everest came out while the crowd was still milling and as technicians continued to make adjustments to the equipment that crowded the stage. By the time they finished their first number people began to take notice that someone was performing and within seconds they had everyone’s attention. Then they ripped into several well-crafted songs that caused the small crowd to calm down and focus. The last number they played had a wonderful guitar frenzy that echoed like a steel bullwhip cracking in the now-full arena.

After Everest finished their set I could have gone home feeling my money was well spent. I suspect the Neville Brothers who followed them felt the same as I did. When they took the stage after Everest they were unable to build on the energy that Everest generated and a noticeable let-down followed each of their songs. Finally there was a small spike when Aaron Neville sang a solo. I am sure they would have sounded better in a New Orleans bar with the sound of clinking glasses in the background.

Finally, it was time for Young. He started loud and proud with a new song that got the sparks flying again. Many of his new songs are laced with lyrics about Young’s hybrid car project, the LincVolt. While these new songs were good they did not fill my craving to hear him sing his old standards. I would have to exercise a little more patience before Neil would serve up the old stuff, because next he hunkered down into an almost fifteen minute screaming guitar set that left me thinking of Miles Davis; while amazing it lacked cohesion and while beautiful it was laborious.

Several well-known standards followed with a few more new songs tossed in. His finale was an excellent cover of the Beatles song “A Day in the Life” that brought the crowd to it’s feet. As he reached the end of the song he got down close to one of the bigger amplifiers causing peels of feedback distortion. Just when you thought he was about to let up on the electronic whining and howling, he got a little crazier and ripped at the guitar strings like a mad werewolf until they all broke. He skillfully used the broken strings like little whips to play the guitar pickups on the now string-less guitar that was leaning against the amplifier, battered and broken. Then, abruptly the stage lights when down and he was gone. I felt a warm sensation of contentment sweep over me, as I joined the crowd in thunderous applause.

I have to hand it to Young. There are not many performers his age that would have the guts to let a group like Everest open for him, at the risk of having the raw energy of a much younger group suck all the air out of the arena before the main act even took the stage. But this night Neil Young proved he is still infected with the restless energy of youth. I am sure this kind of thinking never enter his mind and I hope it never does.

Note - the tee shirt graphics refer to Sal Trentino Electronics and the shirt is available at Young's website.