Exploring

When I was growing up in the small town where I lived, there was a retention pond less than a block from my house. I spent a lot of time down there.

 

It was rarely full of water and I definitely didn’t realize it was intended to hold storm water runoff that had overflowed through drainage pipes. Believe me. I didn’t know.

 

One day, being in an adventurous mood, my little sister and I went down to the good old retention pond. There was a large opening that looked almost like a cave.

Not a cave.

Not a cave.

I had heard about caves. I even knew what spelunking was. I was 12, but had a decent vocabulary.

 

I don’t know why in the hell I felt compelled to crawl into that fucking tunnel. I guess maybe I had been sleeping too well lately. I don’t even know.

 

We crawled into the hot, pitch black, muggy hole that could really only lead to the depths of hell. We crawled for maybe 100 feet, which felt like an eternity to someone with the type of mounting claustrophobia that I suddenly had.

 

We finally got to a point where we could stand. But it was so dark. We decided to go back home and come back out with a flashlight.

 

I don’t know what exactly we expected to find. It’s not like the lost city of Atlantis was tucked away down there. If I had taken 30 seconds to think about it, I would have realized this was a horrible, horrible idea.

 

We crawled back up the dank tunnel, our knees filthy and wet. We left the light off till we got back into that small room.

 

We turned the flashlight on with the anticipation of explorers discovering a new world. And what did we find?

 

Cockroaches.

I thought about posting a picture of a roach here. But I couldn’t handle it. You all know what they look like and I want to sleep tonight.

Thousands of them.

 

I know living in Florida there are tons of giant goddamn roaches everywhere you fucking look. But they also happen to be the only animal or insect I am afraid of. The only one.

 

I once had my arm, up to my elbow, in maggots with no hesitation. (That’s a story for another post). I have touched hundreds of lizards, snakes, and spiders.

 

But I can not handle roaches.

 

And now I was in a room at the end of a tunnel full of the little bastards.

Absolute horror.

Absolute horror.

Needless to say, my sister and I both freaked out and crawled out of that drainage pipe as fast as we could go. So fast, I even injured my knees.

 

And I never again had even the slightest urge to ever investigate anything. Ever.

 

Brains

I was listening to NPR the other day and I heard a story on my favorite program, RadioLab. They were discussing a study that showed that your brain knows what you are going to do before you yourself consciously do.

 

Before you even realize you are going to eat another cookie; your brain is sending a signal to your hand to reach for it. Then, once you have decided to have that cookie, your body is already reaching for it.

 

It’s weird to think about that. I don’t like the idea of my brain making decisions and sending signals without me. (Not that it takes some great genius to know that I’m going to eat another cookie).

 

I already knew my brain was keeping secrets from me. Like the name of the person I just met 7 seconds ago. Or what I had for dinner last night.

 

But this feels different. Like my brain is out there doing things without my permission. Like it is some sentient being.

How does it know? I don’t know things myself for so long sometimes. I feel like my brain is sitting up there all smug. Watching me struggle to make up my mind and figure out how I feel. When it already knows what I am going to do.

Ambidexterity

My mother was a college student with five kids living at home, 1 in high school, 1 in middle school, 2 in elementary school, 1 in daycare, and a husband that worked full time. We had one car. The Oldsmobile.

oldsmobile

Remember the Oldsmobile?

I will never know how my mother got all of us going in the morning. Just thinking about it is exhausting. I don’t even like getting myself ready in the morning.

One day, after school, my mom was taking my brother and I to pick up my younger sister from daycare. She was having a conversation with the one of the ladies that worked there and I was impatient to get home. I am not sure why. I doubt I had much going on at 8.

I asked her for a piece of gum and she said no. I began to mope around trying to get her to end her boring conversation. When my efforts at sympathy went unnoticed, I began pulling on her. Trying to make her stop talking and just leave already.

She was an immovable force. Eventually, tired of my harassment. She snapped at me and told me to go wait in the car.

I ran away, tears in my eyes. She was the meanest mother ever. She wouldn’t leave when I wanted her to. She wouldn’t give me gum. And then she yelled at me and humiliated me in front of all the grown ups.

I got to the car and saw my chance at revenge. I was the only one out there. I could get in and lock all the doors. Then when they came out I’d be the one to say when we left. I might even be able to blackmail a piece of gum out of it.

I laughed a devious laugh as I imagined the three of them, faces pressed to the window, begging to be let in. And I would sit there like a cold and distant queen. And tell them no.

I was so caught up in this plan that I didn’t realize my right hand was dangerously close to the hinges.

This was a big old boat of a car. It was made in the eighties. The doors were heavy, rusty, dirty steel. It had only been in the past few months that I was even able to slam it closed with one hand.

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Basically, this unhygienic thing.

At first, I didn’t even realize something was wrong. The door was closed, and I felt a weird pinching in my right thumb.

I pulled my hand away. And saw my thumb. I must have been in shock. Because nothing was making any sense. Part of my thumb was gone. But it didn’t hurt. It was just gone. Like it had disappeared.

And then, it started gushing blood. Everywhere.

This is called a crushing injury. You probably shouldn’t do a Google image search of that like I did.

I wrapped my thumb in the skirt of my dress and held it tightly with my left hand. The pressure felt good. I didn’t realize I was doing the smart thing there.

I looked down and saw my brother’s back pack. It was hot, neon 80’s pink and one of his most favorite things. It was covered in blood.

backpack

Like this, only covered in blood instead of spray paint. That’s true hardcore.

I didn’t know what to do. I’d have to stop holding my thumb to get out of the car. And it hurt too bad to do that. I could see my mother inside through the window, still talking. She could talk for hours.

I don’t know how long I sat there. I just knew I was in trouble. I had ruined my dress and my brother’s back pack. There was blood everywhere. And part of my hand was gone. And I knew my mother was going to be pissed.

Eventually, my brother came out to see what I was doing. My mother had probably sent him. He took one look at all the blood and frantically began trying to open the car door. But I had locked all the doors.

I just sat there watching him. Staring into his eyes as he begged me to unlock the door so he could help me. I didn’t want to. I didn’t know what would happen next, once that door was unlocked I suspected a lot of things were going to happen.

We stayed like that as an eternity of seconds ticked by. I was in a lot of pain. I knew I needed to open the door. I was losing a lot of blood. I knew none of this was good.

I let go of my hand for long enough to pull up the lock. It was agony. He grabbed me and partially carried me back into the daycare.

There was a flurry of activity as people got paper towels to help soak up all the blood. My dress was soaked through and basically useless by that point.

I don’t know what happened to my brother and sister. The next thing I knew I was crying and sitting in my mother’s lap while someone drove us to the hospital.

My mother offered me a piece of gum to stop my crying. I actually laughed at that for a second. I knew she’d had gum! But it was too late to make any difference in my life anymore. Gum couldn’t save me. The days where a piece of gum was enough to make me happy were behind me now.

The next thing I knew I was waking up in the hospital. I was groggy and hungry and my thumb was throbbing. They hadn’t been able to find the other piece of my thumb, so they’d just stitched it up.

It took many months for the bandages and stitched to come off. I had to learn to write, eat, color, do everything with my left hand during that time.

They never found that piece of my thumb. We got rid of the car soon after that. I like to think my thumb tip was still haunting it for many happy years.

I have little to no feeling in the tip of my thumb, even now. I probably have permanent nerve damage. It isn’t an attractive finger. But, I am ambidextrous still. And I do have a pretty fucking cool fingerprint.

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‘The talon’ as I like to refer to it.

Speech therapy

I don’t know how this is possible, but my brother and I once had Big Wheels. My family was ridiculously poor, so they were either a gift or something my parents bought at a flea market. My family didn’t have new toy money.

Being intended for girls, my Big Wheel was pink and purple. Which is something I have always taken exception with but don’t really want to lose this story in that tangent.

big wheel

Ugh. Pink.

Anyway, my brother’s Big Wheel was barely better. It was red and yellow and looked like something Ronald McDonald’s son would ride.

ronald mcdonalds kids

In Japan his kids are already too old to ride a Big Wheel…

One day I was out riding my Big Wheel while my mother walked behind me keeping a watchful eye on my progress. She was probably worried I’d be kidnapped by one of the prostitutes that worked our neighborhood. Or maybe that I’d get bored and wander into the empty lot next to our house to play with the used needles.

Unfortunately, I have never been a very skilled bicyclist. Like a drunk driver I swerved off the sidewalk and crashed into a telephone pole. I was probably being a bit over dramatic when I then fell off the Big Wheel and onto the ground.

My mother came rushing over to where I lay, helpless and crying. My mouth was bleeding. My mother has never been very good at being around blood. So she was likely fighting off the urge to pass out while trying to lug me and my tricycle home.

I had not been talking for very long when this incident occurred. I was a late bloomer. But when I did finally recover enough from the trauma of the accident to talk; I suddenly had a speech impediment.

My mother took me to the doctor and he found that I had torn the fraenum on the underside of my tongue. I had learned to speak with it connected and now, when I spoke, I couldn’t seem to get a handle on my tongue.

This thing...

This thing…

It was flopping around in my mouth like a slug in it’s death throes. As a result any words with “ch, sh, tch” or any combination of those letters was nearly impossible for me to say. I had completely lost my ability to communicate with strangers.

My own family barely understood me. And I had very little patience for repeating myself. If I had to repeat myself more than once I would just get pissed and refuse to talk. This made me even more sullen and angsty than I already had been at 3 years old.

My mother decided to have me enrolled in speech therapy as soon as I started school (which I couldn’t say properly). So in kindergarten, when all the other kids got to have nap time, a very nice lady took me to her office and taught me how to speak English all over again.

speech therapy

And apparently to also traumatize me with disturbing pictures.

Learning English as a second language caused me all kinds of problems fitting in with my peers. They had learned to speak from family, friends, television. I learned proper pronunciation.

It took me years to use a contraction. It wasn’t till I was in high school that I realized I had to consciously say things like “like” and “um” while speaking to seem more human and less robotic.

I had always been a bit of a know it all and a smart ass. And now, sounding like a tiny pompous professor, I must have been insufferable to be around as a child. No wonder I didn’t have any friends.

Actually, I still tend to be a total smart ass and a know it all. But now my friends don’t mind putting up with me.

X-Mas Party

Saturday night was my company’s x-mas party. As I am still single (which is a shock to no one), I took a very good friend of mine.

 

We arrived at the party and I am squeezed into a sexy red dress that is not at all suitable to my personality or propensity for eating ungodly quantities of food in one sitting. The dress was expensive and the ONLY nice thing I  own. But even I can admit, I looked good.

 

I work in a blue collar type of job and my normal work attire is polo, jeans, and work boots, so for most of the night I am waving hello to people that don’t recognize me, look right through me, walk right past me.

 

We finally get down to the real business of the night: dinner.

 

I am seated with my date on my left and a peer’s pregnant wife on my right. She is wearing a sparkly black dress that makes me look like a fat beast, even though she is the pregnant one.

 

The only thing to drink at our table is water. And lord knows, I fucking love water. But I need something with flavor while I eat.

 

So, I get up on an ill conceived search for a beverage. I approach one of the servers and ask for a sweet tea for myself and a diet coke for my date. The woman’s English isn’t great, but she assures me they have sweet tea. Only sweet tea.

 

After a few minutes a tall blonde, Russian lady comes over. She takes my napkin and places it in my lap, which I find uncomfortable and very forward.

 

She asks what we are drinking and I again say a sweet tea and a diet coke. She says there is no sweet tea but she will bring me sugar and walks away faster than I can change my order.

 

After a few more minutes, an older Russian man comes over. He asks if we have ordered the tea and coke. I tell him I now want a coke and a diet coke as I don’t drink unsweet tea.

 

And who are we all trying to kid by acting like me dumping a packet of sugar into cold iced tea somehow transforms it into sweet tea. Let’s stop the madness people. That’s unsweet tea with a clump of undissolved sugar in the bottom of my glass.

 

The Russian woman comes back and hands my date the diet coke. Then she moves around to my right side and dumps the entire glass of unsweet tea on the pregnant woman, D,  and myself.

 

D jumps up and the server is horrified to see her pregnant belly. The server begins apologizing to her while rubbing all over my lap, trying to dry my dress. It is making me really uncomfortable as I don’t like being touched; and I keep trying to kind of politely push her away but she is being very persistent.

 

The tablecloth is soaked, my napkin is soaked, my dress is soaked in places, and there is even a bit of tea in my food.

 

She is apologizing profusely and is now offering to pay to have my dress dry cleaned.

 

Anyone who knows me will not be surprised to hear that I have not even stopped eating. I was very hungry,the food was good, and I will stop at nothing to eat every damn bite on my plate.

 

I laugh at her offer and try to wave her away. At this point I’d be happy if she would just stop rubbing on me.

 

She leaves and I ask D if she is okay. She looks upset but says she is fine. I turn back to my date and continue eating.

 

My drink order gets sorted out. And I think the whole ordeal is over.

 

But no, the Russian lady comes back with another cloth napkin for me, which she again places in my lap and begins trying to dry me off some more.  She also brought out “very special absorbent wipes” (ie: paper napkins).

 

When she finally leaves, I lean over to D and say, “Did you see her rubbing all over me? I think that spilled drink was just a ploy to cop a feel.”

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This is how I look after being molested by wait staff

We all laugh and resume eating.

 

The rest of the night was fairly uneventful. Notable highlights were me Hoovering huge slices of chocolate mousse cake, which I immediately regretted.

 

And then I went into the bathroom and someone coming out of a stall opened their door and hit me, tearing the brand new stockings I had bought that day for this occasion. The girl didn’t even apologize or look at me. It was a total hit and run.

Maybe she just didn’t know who I was in my fancy dress. I should have demanded to know if she realized who I was.

Witchy Doll

Growing up, I was never one for stuffed animals. I never really saw the point of dolls either. They seemed like boring toys that didn’t actually DO anything.

 

I always wanted to play with my brother’s toys. He had cool shit like Hot Wheels and LEGOs.

 

But I did have one doll that I loved. I don’t know where it came from. I think my mother gave it to me at some point when I was very young. The doll was cute but kind of scary (like most dolls).

 

She had painted on blue eyes and a red heart for a mouth. She had brown yarn hair. And she was dressed like some horrible 70s cult member. But I loved her for some reason. Her name was Rebecca.

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Sweet Rebecca, Hermetically sealed for eternity.

 

It’s weird that I can even remember her real name because I haven’t thought it in many many years. You see, Rebecca soon came to be known by another name.

 

My parents used to leave us all home alone. We were generally under the watch of my older sisters. But they were like some strange undersea creatures. Their bedroom was their natural habitat.

 

Their room was dark, messy, with things I didn’t understand in it. Scary things. Like bras, makeup, tampons. They were always on the phone, laughing about things that made no sense to me. There was music playing and weird smells in there. And, it was, of course, forbidden.

 

Seeing them out of their room and in the rest of the house was uncommon and unsettling. Like if you were walking down the street and you suddenly saw a giant squid floating towards you. It would probably take your brain a few seconds to make sense of what it was seeing.

 

On this day, we were indeed under my sisters’ indifferent care. My little sister had somehow been bribed into taking a bath, something she hated to do with a passion I found both surprising and confusing.

 

She got out of the tub, still wet. Rather than dry herself off with a towel, she grabbed Rebecca.

 

She rubbed Rebecca all over her naked body. All over.

 

I freaked out when I saw this. Rebecca was getting covered in her gross butt germs. Now she was contaminated. I had a meltdown as my mind descended into chaos.

 

What were we? Animals? Was this the fucking jungle? Who did that? And to my favorite doll! I lost my shit.

 

And what happened next was the inexplicable part. She began chasing me around the house, threatening to touch me with my once beloved doll. Trying to rub it all over MY body. She was shaking it at me and yelling “Witchy! Witchy! Witchy!”

 

The commotion we made caused my sisters to come out of their room. They saw what was going on and somehow immediately assessed the situation. My little sister turned to them with the contaminated Witchy Doll.

 

And she began chasing all of us around. Threatening to rub Rebecca all over us if we let her get too close.

 

And thus, Rebecca lost her old identity. And a new one was borne out of the smouldering embers of her past. Like a phoenix, reborn. She was now, and forever known as: The Witchy Doll.

My little sister used this bizarre ritual to keep us all in check for some time. Always recontaminating the doll and chasing after us. Yelling “Witchy! Witchy! Witchy!”

New look

Hey everyone! I’ve added a home bar to my page. Now there is a tab at the top so you can read all about my life’s mottos in more detail than anyone will ever care to. You know you want to.