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.

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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.

 

Rubber vs Glue – A Writing Prompt

“I’m rubber, you’re glue, whatever you say, bounces off me, and sticks to you.”

Karen Craven, over at Table for One, wrote the above quote in one of her posts and it really struck a chord with me.  Next thing you know, we are exchanging ideas with Marc over at Sorryless and two prompts were born.  The second one is: “Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys”.   Since we have no designated word count, nor any designated time frame, we each have gone with the one that inspired us first.  Karen has gone with “Rubber” and Marc, “Circus“.  Do go and check out what they’ve written.  They are both brilliant writers!

Rubber vs Glue

We visited Auntie Lou in Hamilton, a.k.a. Steeltown, quite often.  Sometimes without even planning it.  Like that time when there was a party at our house and there was lots of laughing and drinking and smoking and we were sent to bed but no one checked up on us so we snuck into the hallway and listened in on what was going on.  Daddy decided to call Auntie Lou just to say hey and before we knew it, we heard “Pack up, girls, we’re going for a ride!”  It was 10 o’clock at night.  Driving to Auntie Lou’s was a six-hour drive and we showed up on her doorstep at 4 o’clock in the morning.  Those were some crazy times.

One of the best times we went though, was when my cousin, Matt, Auntie Lou’s son, got married and we were all invited.  It was so cool.  We three sisters had matching long dresses but in different colours.  We were so pretty. So was Mommy in her long dress and Daddy so handsome in his tux.  I can’t remember much of the wedding itself except those dresses.

Since Hamilton was so close to Niagara Falls, the next day we piled into our car and some aunts and uncles and cousins piled into theirs and we all took that one-hour drive.  I loved going there.  Got to go up to the top of the CN Tower, had our picture taken by a weird printer-thing and of course, saw the Falls.  They were so loud.  Like thunder.  And we could feel the mist on our faces.  We weren’t allowed to go on the boat that goes right up to the falls but that’s okay.  Maybe next time.

As we were walking along, Daddy turned to me and said:  “Kiss me, Babe!”  And with a big smile on my face, I ran over to him and gave him a big smooch right on the cheek.  He then said:  “Nothing makes me sick!”

I stepped back, my eyes filled with tears and I just stood there.  I felt like I had been punched in the stomach.  Daddy saw my face and said:  “Aww, come on now, Honey.  I was only joking.”

I let him hug me, laughed it off, and pretended to let the whole thing bounce right off me like a rubber ball.

Except it didn’t.  For years I pushed that part of that memory aside.  Or I thought I had.  I was convinced I had let it go.  But years later,  “Nothing makes me sick” would pop back into my head.  Stuck like glue to a part of me.  Reminding me I was not good enough.  I was lacking.  Chipping away at what little confidence I did have in myself.

Years later, I confronted my father with it.  “Do you remember, Dad, that time in Niagara Falls when you told me to kiss you and then you told me nothing made you sick?  Do you have any idea what that did to me?  How much that hurt me and made me feel so ‘less than’?”

“Oh come on.  You can’t be serious.  That was just a joke.  You can’t still be thinking of that today.”

He never understood that someone, who already believed she was an ugly duckling, could find such a supposed joke hurtful and he never did apologize for saying it.

But on his deathbed, I forgave him.  For myself.

And now, whenever I feel someone is throwing something at me that I don’t deserve, I repeat:

“I’m rubber, you’re glue, whatever you say, bounces off of me and sticks to you.”