There’s Nothing Wrong With Me – A Prompt

Karen Craven, over at Table for 1 really loves to send us (Sorryless and me) some crazy things to work with.  Now she’s been a tad busy with her new job and all and is not posting nearly enough – yes, I am complaining – though she did finally share  a few lately.  Anyhow, she overheard this woman on the train the other day and this was part of the one-sided conversation she heard:

“Yes, I really like my box of macaroni.
Give me all my expired things.
I need you to get a job.”

And issued us a challenge to use this.  So, being just the right amount of crazy, we accepted.  Here’s my submission.  Sorryless’ fantabulously wonderful answer to the prompt is here.  Karen’s wonderfully fantabulous submission is here

 

There’s Nothing Wrong With Me

It was a regular Friday commute as folks boarded the 6:02 train towards home.  People jostled, trying to find seats or at least a pole to hang on to while others, as I, just leaned against the back doors or sides.  Books were taken out as well as iPods and cell phones, earbuds firmly in place.  A wall erected by those wanting to remain in their own world, not interested in their surroundings, not inviting exchanges.  I, on the other hand, love to people watch, see what they are reading, guess at what is going on in their lives, create whole scenarios in my mind based on what they are reading.

The students take out their books and papers to try to catch up on homework, business-folk break out the laptops and furiously crunch numbers because the days of doing work at work are over; you are now expected to work on your own time as well to get ahead.  A sad state of affairs, really. Everyone absorbed in their own microcosm.

Suddenly, a cellphone rings with an old-fashioned rotary phone ring.  “Dring, Dring!”  I look around to see who it belongs to and find myself eavesdropping, barely subtly, in fact.  The woman is seated in the single seat facing me, is in her late seventies, maybe early eighties.  She’s slight, her clothes hang on her frail body, two sizes too large and look like they’ve been rescued from a garbage bin.  Her stockings have runs in them and her shoes are laced up and seem the only thing she owns that doesn’t date back twenty years.  Her hands are those of a woman who has worked hard; they are overly large for her wrists with knobby knuckles and jagged nails that haven’t ever seen a manicure. Not that she would ever waste money on such a thing.  Between her legs are a trio of bags, filled with who knows what.  Her purse rests on her lap.

She digs into her purse and pulls out an old Blackberry.  “Hallo? …  “Oh hi, Doris. … Yeah, I’m on the train now.  Should be home by seven-ish.”

“What do you mean, you’re at my house? Why are you at my house?  Who let you in?”

“Right  I forgot you had the key.  Still, I don’t care, nothing is yours to touch.  Those are my things.  I don’t care what the neighbours say.  What smell?  I don’t need you to clean out my stuff.”

“Yes, I know I have lots of cans of beans and boxes of macaroni. They were on special.  And yes, I do need them all.  Yes, I really like my box of macaroni.”

What do you mean I don’t even like the stuff?  Of course I do!  What do you care, anyway?  It’s none of your business.  And no, they don’t go bad.  Don’t you dare throw any of them out. You wait until I get there.  And stay out of my fridge!”

The older woman closed her eyes, a mixture confusion and frustration lining her face.  I couldn’t help but wonder what was really at hand.  There was a feeling that this was not the first time this type of exchange had taken place.

“Just give me all my expired things…they’re still good. Expiration dates are a bunch of hogwash,” she almost whispered.

Voice raised:  “No, it’s not true.  Best Before does not mean no good after!” … “What, three years old?  It’s friggen boxed macaroni, Doris!  How bad can dried macaroni with powdered fluorescent cheese get?  The expiry date is obligatory by the government.  Just stop, already.  Don’t even think of throwing anything out.”

She pulled the phone away from her ear and held it on her purse.  I could hear her daughter’s voice raised in anger, “You are confused, Mother.  I’m worried about you living on you own.  You need to leave your apartment and move into a home for the elderly. I have already found the perfect place for you.  Mother?  Mother?  Can you hear me?”

I couldn’t help but feel for the poor woman and, at the same time, for the daughter.  Experience had taught me that early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s meant there were very lucid moments but also very confused ones.  I imagined the old woman had become a hoarder of sorts and the daughter had a helluva job ahead of her.

The woman put the phone back to her ear.  “Yes, I hear you. No, I don’t need to move into a home.  I visit people there, I don’t live there!  There is nothing wrong with me!  I need you to get a job.  You obviously have too much time on your hands to find  yourself rummaging through my personal belongings.  Get out of my house!”

She threw her phone into her handbag, rearranged the ones at her feet, patted her hair in that comforting manner women do, and placed her now trembling hands upon her purse.  She stared straight ahead, a mutinous expression on her face.

We arrived at the next station and a large bulk of people disembark.  The seat kitty-corner to the old woman becomes free so I make my way there.

“Good evening, Ma’am.  Mind if I sit here?”

She smiled, “Oh hallo.  No, no, please do.  Do you need more room?  Are my bags in your way?”

“No, not at all and thank you.  I’m fine and have lots of room.  How are you?  Are you okay?”

“Why yes, I’m fine.  There is nothing wrong with me.  Why do you ask?”

“You seemed a tad upset with your phone call just now.  I didn’t mean to eavesdrop…”

She looked at me with confusion, “What phone call?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Woodstock For Real – Wait, What?

This is the way to hear music, I think, surrounded by rolling hills and farmlands, under a big sky.

– Michael Lang (Co-creator of the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival)

As promised… here’s the next installment of our Woodstock Wander in Mid-July.  How can it be almost mid-August already?

Wednesday morning was THE day.  We were finally going to visit the site of THE Rock Concert of all time!  To say we were excited, is to put mildly.  Two Fifty-somethings all a-giggle, I tell ya…  By now we have watched countless videos about Woodstock, totally immersed ourselves into the whole experience as much as two born-too late-to-have-been-there peeps could be. (And if we had been there, would have been too young to remember and would have had beyond-cool (or crazy) parents… Just sayin’).  One hour, some 60-ish miles away.  I swear, we are still trying to wrap our heads around a Woodstock that never took place in Woodstock.  I think B’s wonderful intro post to our adventure says it best here.

But first, we needed sustenance.  I had brought my crêpe mix so of course I had to make those.  But then, I pimped ’em up.  We needed to fuel up, after all!  A little bacon, some Swiss cheese and a fried egg on top was sure to do the trick – add to that some Québec maple syrup and we had ourselves a breakfast of champions…

No matter how many videos we had watched – and we watched many there (not to mention tons more since our return), we were still amazed to drive through the winding country roads towards Bethel.  We tried to imagine all those thousands of cars simply left willy-nilly to block the road for three, almost four, days.  Insane.  Did you know that 37 rental cars were lost?  Thirty-seven!!  Just one of those little snippets of information discovered…

We finally get to our destination…

… and there are huge, I mean HUGE parking lots… now 😉  We chose a shady area to park the car and made our way to the main building.  How did I manage to NOT take a picture of the outside?  I dunno… So I have nabbed the one on the site…

I don’t know how to explain the myriad emotions this place evoked.  Maybe it was just us.  But I don’t think so.  Maybe we had created an expectation by reading about it, seeing movies, documentaries, listening to the music.  While neither one of us had this destination at the top of our bucket lists, we were still thrilled and awed that our desire to meet had directed us to this place.  Just how did the Universe sneakily direct us here?  Our love of music, culture and history might have had something to do with it.  Whatever it was that did bring us here, we felt we were on hallowed ground.  Or we gave it that descriptive.

Or maybe, just maybe, we each have a little Hippie in our Hearts.

We purchased our tickets and entered, looking forward to – we had no idea what!

“We were ready to rock out and we waited and waited and finally it was our turn … there were a half million people asleep. These people were out. It was sort of like a painting of a Dante scene, just bodies from hell, all intertwined and asleep, covered with mud.

And this is the moment I will never forget as long as I live: A quarter mile away in the darkness, on the other edge of this bowl, there was some guy flicking his Bic, and in the night I hear, ‘Don’t worry about it, John. We’re with you.’ I played the rest of the show for that guy.

—John Fogerty recalling Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 3:30 am start time at Woodstock”

There were so many things to see, notes to read, we could have stayed in there for hours on end.

It’s funny… I didn’t take the picture of the sign explaining the fence but felt this other sign said it all.  This concert was going to be way bigger than anyone could have anticipated (Imagine how parties have gotten out of hand with the advent of Facebook?  Could you even imagine?)  People were not going to let some fence stop them from getting in…  Might as well give in.  And they did!  In the name of peace.  And debt.

So many details, so many stories, so many things to see!

There is a small theatre within the museum that shows a 20-minute movie about the event.  So, of course, we watched it!

So many acts played in those three days, that spilled into part of the fourth.  Sha Na Na?  Really?  John B. Sebastian wasn’t even scheduled to play.  He was a “filler” and, according to Ira Brooker from “A Talent for Idleness” Sebastian was the ultimate hippie.  I dig, I dig.  And, I didn’t know him.  And now I do.

Time to go outside and see just where this party took place.

The grounds around the museum are beautiful and a stroll was in order.

Though he never made a sound, I could sense B was itching to get to the site itself and I quickly snapped a couple more pics before joining him.

I don’t know why I never realised how much of a hill it was!  You see the pictures and there are masses of people but somehow, I just never focused on the terrain itself.  This sign gives you such a perspective of the size when you are in front of the field.  I purposefully left just a smidge of said sign in the second pic showing the road (we felt it would be disrespectful to walk on the grass itself – at that time, anyway!) we took to get down to the bottom to show you a portion of it.

As we made our way down, we could see, right in the middle of the field, a huge Peace sign cut into the grass (like a crop circle 😉 )  Too bad they have been suffering from lack of rain because it is a tad difficult to see, no matter how much I enhanced it.

We, of course, went to the official memorial monument (which bizarrely is NOT where the stage was…)

The stage is left of and further down from the marker when looking up the hill.  It was confusing to us at first but then I could see the demarcation of the sort of square where the stage was.

Standing on the “stage”, looking up I could not imagine 500,000 people.  I’m sure the 600 acres Max Yasgur rented out spilled out beyond… Plus, I do not have a wide lens… but still.  It takes your breath away.

I’m a farmer. I don’t know how to speak to twenty people at one time, let alone a crowd like this. But I think you people have proven something to the world–not only to the Town of Bethel, or Sullivan County, or New York State; you’ve proven something to the world. This is the largest group of people ever assembled in one place. We have had no idea that there would be this size group, and because of that, you’ve had quite a few inconveniences as far as water, food, and so forth. Your producers have done a mammoth job to see that you’re taken care of… they’d enjoy a vote of thanks. But above that, the important thing that you’ve proven to the world is that a half a million kids–and I call you kids because I have children that are older than you–a half million young people can get together and have three days of fun and music and have nothing but fun and music, and I God Bless You for it!

— addressing the crowd at Woodstock on August 17, 1969
Peace and Love…

We made our way back to the car, our souvenirs in hand (of course I got a Tye-died shirt) with new memories created and oh-so happy we had made the trek.  We may have missed out on actually being part of the whole Woodstock experience 49 years earlier, but walking those grounds sure brought us closer to the feeling that we would have fit right in.

Joni Mitchell didn’t make it either, but all say she captured the feeling exactly.  I was torn between the video where Joni explains why she wasn’t there – with a little catch in her voice – or the one she did right after the concert… So I put both!

Part 1

Part 2

Search For the Perfect Q-Ban – This Ain’t Easy – Take Two

This past week – and I mean FULL week of seven days, we have had weather to rival any Caribbean country – say, like… Cuba!  I’m talking a most disgusting average of 35°C (95°F) with that humidex factor making it feel like 45°C (115°F).  What’s a girl to do?  Continue on her search for that perfect Montreal version of the Cubano sandwich, of course.  Her partner in crime, Julie, ever the willing participant, agreed to meet me today, Friday, on my day off.  So what was today’s temp? 22°C (72°F) and it felt downright chilly!  Now for us Quebecers, who start wearing shorts when it hits 15-16°C (60°F), – sooner for some locos – this may seem silly.  But it has been hotter and muggier than the inside of Hades mouth so, this cool-down was quite the shocker.  And me, wearing a sundress…

Now I know Linds B. and Marc, over at Sorryless are done with the whole Cubano Sammy thing but they did encourage me to keep on it.  They apparently like when other peeps crash their party…

Right.

On my way to destination number two, I was struck by the sheer amount of garbage everywhere.  You see, here in Quebec, the official moving day is July 1st.  That means peeps are moving from one apartment to another and leaving shitloads of stuff behind.  I’m thinking garbage day in the area I was driving through still had not come…

Destination number two was suggested to me by a friend whose boyfriend just so happens to be Cuban.  He says other Cubans go there:  Café Cubano, still on the outskirts of Little Italy but now, on Beaubien East Street.  Traffic for Jules was horrendous, so I sat outside on a park bench in the sunshine (it was still warm, then).  Then I took a few pics in preparation.  Cute little brother and big sister skipped by.  I was amused as it seemed everyone who passed by sounded French from France.  Had me wondering what area I was in after all.  Very residential with little business like this one on the ground floor and apartments above.

Julie arrives and we pick a table.  Always a good sign when the other patrons speak the lingo.  We get the menus and I see that the Cuban Sandwich is NOT there.  And yet, when I Googled it, it was.  Hmmm…. I ask the waiter if they do do Cubanos and he says, get this:  “Not today”.  What?  “I am sorry, tomorrow you can have some.  Today we cook the pork and it takes hours. There are none today.”

Fuck.

Looked at Julie and said, “What to do now?  I am on a Cubano Sammy search.”  She agrees we need to find another place so here we are sitting in this restaurant, with our glasses of water we dare not touch, Googling for other restaurants in the vicinity.

We come upon La Bodeguita de Montréal on St. Laurent Street, a 7-minute drive away.  We decide to go with just my car – why look for two parking spots?  While I’m driving, Jules says.. “Hmmm.. their Facebook page says it’s closed.”  Dammit.  On the Google page, it says Fridays it is open from noon.  We keep going, not knowing who to trust.  We get there.  Door is locked.

Fuck.

More Googling, and by now, our stomachs are starting to auto-digest and we need us some grub.  We do NOT want to drive to downtown as that will take us a good 23-40 minutes.  Julie finds one on Park Avenue – but it’s a Mexican joint!  BUT the comments on whatever site she is looking at says you MUST try the Cuban Sandwich.

We need no further reason.  What a fabulous find!  Lemme tell you, Linds and Marc, if I decide to crash your taco party, Imma go back to this spot called Ta Chido on Park Avenue.

Colourful, joyful, smell of fresh bread cooking, kitschy as all get-out, we are charmed immediately.  Screw the Cubano, if we must.  By now it is quite cool and we choose to sit inside.  Then move to outside.  I did NOT know there exists some Mexican Heavy Metal… Thankfully it was playing pretty low (so wish I had Shazamed it 😉 )

I have to share some of the decor with you…

Okay, I’ve made you wait enough, haven’t I?  Let’s get to serious bidness.  As we were starving, we ordered a bowl of guacamole with the usual chips and chicháronnes. We stuck with water for today.

I explain to our waitress – sweetest gal ever – that I am on a Cubano mission and though I realise that this is a Mexican place, they do have what they call a Cubano… She says:  “Well that is what WE call it too.  But.. I am so sorry to tell you, we are out of jamón.”

Sigh.

Julie suggests we get two different sandwiches and share.  And frankly, that is a great idea.  So, Jules gets the “Tinga de pollo” – pulled chicken sautéed with onions and chipotle peppers, mayo, black bean spread, avocado, tomatoes, sour cream and feta cheese.

And I had the “Cubana” – breaded beef cutlet, pulled pork and ham (though there was none), mayo, cheese, black bean spread, avocado, tomatoes and caramelized onions.

Julie found the chicken needed some oomph and was glad to pour on the jalapeño sauce that was brought to the table.  I agree.

The “Cubano” had nary a Cubano element… but was very tasty for me.

We are 0 for 2 in the authentic Cubano search.

However.  After some discussion, and poor Julie still has no idea what a real Cubano is…I give it a solid 6/10.  Why so high when there were only two elements in the sammy?

That bread.  That bread was so bloody divine, I cared not one whit that it had never seen the inside of a press.  So good, in fact, that Imma go aaaaalllll the way there to buy some to make MY OWN Cubanos…  And for my celiac friends, they also make gluten free… though I would check out the facilities to make sure there is no cross-contamination.  I didn’t go look, to tell the truth.

The pulled pork was tasty, as was that piece of beef and caramelized onion.  Avocados are a favourite ingredient of mine and pretty much end up in all of my sandwiches.

The chicháronnes were light and crunchy and addictive.  the guacamole was delicious with just the right amount of smooth and chunk.

We felt we had made quite the discovery after all the shenanigans of finding a bloody place to eat.  Plus, Julie still wants to be my cohort for the next run.  Win-Win-Win.

As a result…

A little extra “blah-blah-blah” as our day was not done…

Traffic was gonna be crap for both of us, so we decided to go to the Marché Jean Talon to browse all the wonderful produce, get inspired for supper – right, like I was gonna eat supper – and maybe flirt with Frank from Birri Farms.  (What?  He’s gorgeous, Italian, single and such a flirt…)

On our way there, as we were approaching a stop light, I was pointing out a restaurant we had talked about when BANG!  I got hit from behind.  WTF?  Both of us were stunned.  I got out of the car and the guy behind got out of his apologising profusely.  First thing he asked was if were we hurt, then we checked our cars.  Mine had nothing, his, a cracked bumper.  I asked him if he wanted to fill out papers and he declined (I might add his car was a clunker).  Asked again if we were okay, apologised again and we were on our way.  We turned at the next street and pulled over to really check.  Nothing.  We both felt it in our necks – a light case of whiplash.  I know we are going to feel it tomorrow or the next day.

 

Magnolia Overture

Karen and Marc are at it again.  They have these little chat sessions and next thing you know… it’s prompt time!  I could definitely NOT refuse this one.  Somehow Magnolia became the object of their desire to write.  OK, OK… when you read Karen’s beautiful post, you’ll understand.  Just so happens, that when it comes to flowering trees?  My ultimate favourite.  Marc’s wonderful story is here.  I honest-to-goodness don’t know how they do it.  But they do it so bloody well.  Instead of telling myself I just can’t play with the big girls and boys, I shall simply strive to do my best.  Now I am quite late to the party but there was no “write-by-date” so…

Magnolia Overture

She loved to walk.  She had her favourite destinations and usually decided on the spur of the moment which one she’d take.  Turn right? Turn left?  Go straight?  Either one would end up bringing her joy.  On this day, she chose right.  Once past the residential houses, she ended up in the first park.  In winter, a hockey rink would have a few people passing a hockey puck, or, depending on the time of day, a solo skater, practicing his shots. In summer this would be full of kids splashing in the water games.  But today it was spring.  The air was warm but now and again a breeze came by, teasing with a hint of cool – just to let her know that it was not yet summer.

She walked across the first park, through a walkway, across a street, through another walkway and bingo!  There it was.  A  huge magnolia tree planted in the middle of a field.  How did that happen?  No way the city would plant such a tree in a park.  It must have been some good Samaritan or lover of spring blooms to have donated such a gift for all peeps to enjoy.

It was an older tree with a good-sized grouping of trunks, the flowers starting just high enough for her to sit beneath.  She had brought a blanket and her book but instead of reading, leaned back and let her memories loose.

They met just as the first magnolia flowers appeared.  Each on a two-week solo vacation, no plans, free to do as they please.  Both expected to spend that time reflecting, visiting, ambling.  One particularly warm day, she was sitting at a table on a terrace, sipping a cool drink watching the passersby.  He arrived and chose a table next to hers and ordered himself a beer.  They smiled at each other and continued their individual reveries.

“This is going to sound ridiculously corny, but, have you been here before?” he queried, smiling.

She laughed in return, “No, actually, I’m on vacation.  You?”

“Same.  Where are you from, if I may ask?”

“Canada.”

“Canada is pretty big.  Care to specify by province, at least?”

“Well now, I am impressed.  Most Yanks don’t even know we have provinces,” she grinned.  “Just teasing.  I’m from British Columbia, more specifically from Victoria.  How about you?”

“The United States of America,” he smirked.  She raised an eyebrow.  “My turn to tease — I’m from Seattle, Washington.”

“Jeez.  We live so close to each other yet meet here, so far from home.  Are you travelling alone?”

“Yep.  I always dreamed of coming to New Orleans, to be here in the spring before it gets hot and disgusting.”

“Nice.  I have never been here in the summer but I have heard it is brutal.  I’m also on my own.  We were supposed to be four girlfriends à la Sex and the City, New Orleans-style but they all flushed me last minute.  I decided that I still wanted to come here.”

He dragged his chair closer to hers.  “You mind?”

“No, not at all.  Why don’t you just join me officially?”  She held out her hand, “My name’s Charlotte.  Most of my friends call me Charlie”

His warm hand clasped hers, “Pleased to meet you, Charlotte.  Such a beautiful name.  I’m Dante.”

“As in inferno?” she could not help but ask, tongue firmly in cheek.

“For you to find out!” he laughed, eyebrows wiggling up and down.

She smiled, ever more curious about this handsome stranger.

Afternoon turned to twilight, turned to evening.  Soft jazz played in the background.  Their conversation never waned, food was ordered, eaten, neither remembering what they ate.  They left the restaurant and walked the streets of New Orleans, hand in hand, their conversation ebbing and flowing as if they’d known each other forever.

They spent their two-week vacation wrapped in each other.  Loving, talking, sharing, eating, laughing.  One room got cancelled and their solo vacations became a couple one.  They visited whatever took their fancy and come evening, visited each other.  Listening, touching, tasting, feeling, whispering.  Every day, as they left to explore, they marvelled at the magnolia tree planted right outside her Air BnB.  The blooms so much larger than either had ever seen in their hometowns.  “So beautiful,” one or the other would comment. and off they’d go.  Museums, Bourbon Street, French Quarter, City Park, Garden District, they played it by ear, deciding as they went along.

On their last day together, a sudden wind swept through, blowing most of the blooms off “their” magnolia tree and sending them in all directions, save the ones that swirled around them, encouraging them, embracing them as they held each other close, loathe to separate.  They swore they would return.  While neither of them was married they laughed and said it could be like Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn in Same Time, Next Year.  Both film buffs, they needed no explanation.

However, that also implied they would only see each other once per year…

 

 

Birthday Dinner

I swear, those two! Karen and Marc have done it again. This time they’ve dragged Frank in as well. Will be interesting if he plays with us this time. You see, Karen read an article, shared it with Marc, they extracted 11 words then emailed me, sending me a copy of the text that inspired this craziness (no, you cannot read it). Karen’s story is here. Marc’s is coming tomorrow, he said. Mine follows. And yes. It is my birthday today so, I went with that 😉

Birthday Dinner

She was invited to join her friends at the Clubhouse Bistro Bar to celebrate her birthday but declined, choosing to stay quietly at home, in her new comfy chair, with a TCM movie, a glass of wine and a burger picked up from the drive-thru. No cooking today. However, on her way out, she ran into that busybody Ethel with her passion for Jesus. What she would give to dunk that self-righteous Dinosaur‘s head in a bowl of Holy Water! Desperate to get away from Ethel, she quickly retraced her steps.

Sans burger, it looked like the Twinkies, sent by her friend, Marc, who was trying to bring her to the dark side after all their joking around about the merits of the “cake”, would be her meal. She couldn’t be cross with him now could she? She even gave him absolution now that she had nothing else to eat.

*******************

Now, I know this was shortlived, however, it did traumatize certain, peeps…

Metamorphosis to a Painted Lady

Karen, over at Table For One, bless her heart, got all wrapped up in PBS’ “Nature – Sex, Lies, and Butterflies” the other night, and got all excited with ideas for a prompt.  She “promptly” (I’m such a comedienne, aren’t I?) emailed both Marc at Sorryless and me with this challenge.   Now, originally, we, Marc and I, both thought that we could pick and choose between the following ten words:

  • Metamorphosis
  • Virgin
  • Flight
  • Rudder
  • Hover
  • Antenna
  • Clap
  • Control
  • Painted Lady
  • Juvenile

But noooooo… as her post today shows, Karen used all TEN WORDS in one post!  Sneaky one, that Karen is.  Of course, the gauntlet has been not only drawn, but thrown down, so what’s a girl to do?

Her best.  That’s all she can do.  Her best.

 

Metamorphosis to a Painted Lady

Katie was now a young woman, as far as she was concerned.  She was no longer a juvenile 13-year old. At 14, she was ready to face the world as a woman did.  Her mother would never cease to hover over her and try to control everything she did and everywhere she went and everyone she hung out with, as long as she remained under her roof.  Katie swore that woman had antennae and could sense her every move!  She was done with it.  After all, there were cultures where girls got married at 14, some even younger.  Proof that she was definitely grown up.

At midnight, when the household was asleep, Katie emptied her piggy-bank, packed her backpack and took flight.  She was going to go to the big city and prove she was now a woman, capable of taking care of herself.  She hopped on the bus, chose one of the many empty seats, leaned her head against the window and dreamed of the possibilities awaiting her.

Her stomach fluttering in excitement, she stepped off the bus, right in the centre of town.  She had never been there by herself, and definitely not at one o’clock in the morning!  She felt like spreading her arms wide and turning around à la Mary Tyler Moore.  Her mom loved that show and owned all the DVD’s and made her watch them.  The thought of her mom brought an immediate lump to her throat and a falter to her step.

No!  Stop thinking like that!  You are not a boat without a rudder, you are on a path to womanhood.  Having shaken off the doubt, she lifted her chin, squared her jaw and took a step forward.  The City was not for babies and she was out to prove she wasn’t one.  Katie was awfully glad it was not winter and that her light jacket was warm enough.  She didn’t have to worry about freezing to death.

Ah.  Finally.  The main drag.  People. Lights. Life!  A nice-looking man came up to her, smiling, and asked if she was lost.  She shook her head no and kept walking.  He turned and quickly adjusted his step to hers.  “So, young lady, where are you headed?”

“I’m just walking around, taking in the sights.”

“Mind if I keep you company?”

“Yes, I do mind.  Please leave me alone.”

“I can’t do that.  There are rough people out there just looking for a nice young thing like you.”

“Why is that?”

“Come on now, Sweetie.  Why do you think?”

“I don’t know what you are talking about.  No one would come looking for me.”

“I bet you are a virgin, aren’t you?”  Not waiting for her response, he continued, “Do you know how much some men would pay for such a treat?  To be the first one to screw you?”

Hey eyes wide, she looked at him and sputtered, “Wh-wh-wh-at?  Sh-sh-sh-surely not.  Why are you such an awful thing to me?”

“What’s your name, Sweetie?”

“Katie.  Katherine, actually.”

“Katie, my name is Steve.  Walk with me. I want to show you something, okay?”

She knew she shouldn’t follow a stranger, a male one at that, but she nodded her head yes and followed him.  They approached an intersection and he nodded towards a small group.  “See those girls over there?”

“Yes.  They look like young women, to me.”

“Well, they’re not.  They are about your age and have been living on the street for a couple of years already.  We call them the Painted Ladies.”

“Why is that?”

He sighed. “They are hoookers. They sell their bodies for money.  Probably half of them already have the clap.”

“The clap?  What’s that?”

“A venereal disease you, young fool.  One of many you could catch.”

Her mouth formed an O and she looked at him, her lip trembling.  “I’m not going to be one of them.”

“Honey, you stay out here all by yourself, you will become one of them.  I would really hate for you to go through that type of metamorphosis.  I can tell by the look of you that you come a good family.  One that is probably going crazy looking for you right now.”

With that, Katie felt her whole body deflate.  She knew he was right.  She was so not an adult yet and now was regretting her rash decision.

Steve took out his cellphone and handed it to Katie.  “How about we call your folks, have them pick you up?  I’ll wait right here with you till they show up.”

 

 

Ringmaster to Her Circus

Finally.  After suggesting this prompt, I am the last to join in.  Go figure.  Karen over at TableFor1 already posted hers and so did Marc over at Sorryless  Funny how these prompts came about through simple comments back and forth.  It has been a fabulous journey playing with these two.  They sure push me to do better.

The stage was set:  bathtub filled with hot, sudsy water; candles lit, strategically placed all around;  lights dimmed; iPad propped to watch something on Netflix – if the inspiration hit; current book; journal; pen.  All at the ready for whatever inspired her.  Or didn’t.  There were no rules for the next hour or so.  Don’t forget the bathmat or the towel.  Perfection.  She disrobed and slowly sank into the hot bubbles, sliding down until the water covered her shoulders.  Ahhhh.  Thank you, thank you, thank you, for the two-man tub that permitted both boobs and knees to be covered in hot water.  Not possible in a standard tub when you are almost 5’9″.  One must appreciate what one has.

She closed her eyes and felt all her daily stresses slip away and for a few moments, all thoughts were silenced.  Not a sound.  It was bliss.  It didn’t last long.  Fucking hamster has to show up here too?  Couldn’t he wait for his usual 3:00 a.m. appearance?  Was there no other way besides drugs to obliterate that pesky rassembleur of thoughts and to-do lists?

And so it starts.

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The house.  So much has to be done to make it ready for sale.  It’s too big to keep.  I don’t need all this space.  I hate housecleaning.  I need to downsize.   The boys are not much help.  Well, that’s not true.  When I blow a gasket, start yelling like a banshee, they then pitch in.  Well one of them does.  He’s been pretty darn good.  The other is going through anxiety at turning 20.  20.  Seriously, Dude?  Fuckssakes.  On top of that, he is “his own man and doesn’t like to be told what to do”.  Oh excuse me.  Sucks to be you.   Guess what?  In real life, sometimes you have to follow orders.  And, it’s not like I even ordered you.  I have asked you.  Repeatedly.  So very glad you can’t wait to get out of this house but don’t want to lift a bloody finger to make it ready. Oh, you want to help but not when we want you to help.  And yet, I know if I don’t nag, eventually you will do what needs to be done.  You just don’t understand – or want to –  how each piece needs to be put in place for the next one to be taken care of.

The mother-in-law, Jean.  Ah hell.  It’s become a full-time job trying to juggle all her shit.  Her landlord – he wants his 3-months’ rent.  The pharmacy at the home want to stop giving her her meds because the bill is up to $500.  The home is owed 4 months rent.  I can’t do anything because the friggen co-mandatory won’t sign the document resigning her part in the mandate. And now blocks my calls.  Bitch.  No access to her funds – and I sure as hell cannot afford to cover her expenses.  Cannot have her mail redirected to me.  Must keep driving out the 40-minute drive to her appartment to pick up her mail.  Can’t sign her Income Tax Papers.  Get phonecalls from Jean where she gives me hell for putting her in that god-forsaken place.  Reassure her I had nothing to do with it.  Promise to visit her.  Put it off.  Get the boys to come with me to visit her for her 83rd birthday on Sunday.  She is getting worse.  Never could tell them apart.  Repeats that she loves A’s hair.  Repeats she loves I’s sweater.  Lists off the birthdays and for the first time, she gets them all wrong.  Definitely getting worse.  Remembers she asked me for her “papers”.  I ask her which ones.  She says the ones regarding her funeral arrangements.  Oh, no worries, I assure her, I have those.  Asks me if I brought her her papers.  Sigh.  One-and-a-half hours later, I am done.  The boys are done.  Promises are made to go back and visit.

The finances.  Seems every time I turn around, it’s costing me another $300 here $400 there, etc.  The damages caused by water leakages and impatient kids and bad quality items needing replacement, and appliances failing needing repair, etc. are making my head spin.  I know I’ll be able to recuperate all once this house is sold but till then… gulp!  I try not to focus on stuff – you know, the Universe is listening so I don’t want it to think I want more things to break!

The boyfriend.  I hate to admit his going away for two weeks to lie on a beach sans me still bugs the shit out of me.  I barely missed him – probably too angry to.  Mind you, I kept myself busy with friends and house stuff but should I not have felt a small twinge? Was I feeding the situation with unnecessary negativity?  Or was my gut telling me something?   It doesn’t help when I am asked where’s the boyfriend?  And I answer gone on vacation and I get the response, without you?  Then it all starts roiling again.  So confused about this one.  Will have to let it play out when he gets back.

The mother.  I worry about her heart, her health.  Taking care of her husband, who had a stroke two years ago and is paralyzed on the left side, is exhausting her.  My sisters do a lot for her and I try to do my share as well but we still worry.  It is not an easy situation.  We sometimes worry she will kick the bucket before he does simply by burning herself out.  It scares me.

**********************************

These thoughts criss-crossed her mind, one colliding after another, balling up inside her belly and turning her shoulders into knots.   Enough was enough and time to shut down that hamster wheel so she turned on the iPad to listen to some Arvo Pärt – Spiegel im Spiegel and whatever else followed.  YouTube was good for keeping one in the mood.   Ahhh… eyes closed, each tensed muscle began to relax, her mind once again emptying itself.

An hour later, sufficiently pruned, she started to shiver, the water no longer comfortably warm.  Time to get out.

As she was towelling off, her mind started up again.  The boyfriend liked to call her the Captain of her ship and her boys, her sailors.  He said she was in charge of the household and responsible for its functioning and for keeping her sailors on point.  She didn’t like that analogy.  Did not fancy the idea of being the one who went down with the ship should it sink.  Nope.  Another title was in order.

How about Ringmaster of a crazy five-ring (or was it six?) circus.  So many things to juggle, so many acts going on at the same time, not all with the same intensity, but each requiring her attention.  Yeah, that was more like it.  Ringmaster.  Had more pizzazz than Captain.  This was definitely her circus and maybe some, but not all, were her monkeys.