Saturday, October 22, 2005

Thunderbolt and lightning

very, very fright'ning me.

It's thundering and lightening outside. I've always been afraid. Mostly of the thunder. The loud noise. Loud noises, and the dark. When I'm alone.

And here I am. Alone. It's dark outside. And it's loud.

And I wish I had somebody to hold me till it passed.

Friday, October 21, 2005

how low can you go?

So, I was talking with someone on the phone tonight, and somehow the conversation rolled around to things like disposable diapers. Very expensive, and let's not get me started on the impact to the environment.

But when I told him I'd used cloth diapers with both my kids, he was really surprised. Didn't occur to him that anyone did anymore. Didn't occur to him that people couldn't afford pampers. And I really blew him away when I told him that often, I didn't even have change for the laundromat, and I'd have to soak and wash them in the tub, and hang them up to dry. Never liked doing that. They never seemed quite as clean, and they always came out stiff as a board and chafed their delicate baby butts.

(OK, caveat here. Often, the really poor are forced to use disposables because they don't have access to the means to wash cloth ones on a regular basis. Especially when homeless. Won't speculate here on how they obtain said disposables.)

Then, somehow, the talk got around to the expense of feminine hygiene products, and how manufacturers really have us by the proverbial balls, cause we need the product and therefore have to pay whatever they charge. But when I informed him that really poor people can't afford that particular luxury, he was shocked beyond anything. What did they do, he asked. Well, I went to an extremely cheap second hand store, bought up old towels, and made my own 'pads' by sewing layers together. I washed them and reused them. He couldn't decide whether to be totally grossed out, or very impressed with my ingenuity.

His final, people just don't really understand poverty unless they've been there themselves.

How low can you go?

As low as you need to, to survive.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


I read this somewhere online: "If I could come back as anything it would be as your tears, how could I want more than to be concieved (sic) in your heart, born in your eyes, live On (sic) your cheeks, and die at your lips."

Gag me now with a spoon, please. I despise smarmy sentamentalism like this and fail to see it's redeeming value. Hell, does it even have any redeeming value?

It's like the lyrics to the whitney houston song, "my love is your love"

"And I’m homeless on the street
And I’m sleepin’ in grand central station
It’s okay if you’re sleepin’ with me"

REALLY??? We could be homeless, but it'd be ok cause we're together??? Yep, I'm sure there's a homeless couple sleepin' there right now, and they turn to each other before nodding off and say "it's okay, love, cause were sleepin' together." Yeah. Right. NOT!!!

I just don't get it.

I'm in the mood to: throw up.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Hey--I'm the COOL mom!!!

There I was, spending my Friday night chauffering my daughter and her friends around.

When I picked her up late that night, and dropped her friends off, I asked her: just why in the hell do you always call me? Can't the other parents drive sometimes?

Cause you're the cool mom, she says. My friends all like you, and think you're cute and you dress nice. They think you're cool cause you go to clubs in the city (if they only knew **wicked giggle**).

And you don't yell at us for what we did. And you understand boy shit. And you don't embarrass me too much. Whooo hooo! I don't embarrass her too much! And I'm the COOL MOM!!!

Ummmmm...unless the other parents don't wanna drive, and she's just sucking up???

No...couldn't be. Could it??

I'm in the mood for: chocolate cheesecake. Unfortunately, I only packed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and iced tea for lunch.

Friday, October 14, 2005

102…adding to my list…mt st helens

Number 102: I was in Spokane when Mt. St. Helens blew.

May 18, 1980. The family was headed out to the local air force base for the annual air show. Bright, sunny day. Blue skies. Only the wispiest of white clouds blew across the sky.

On the highway near the base entrance, military personnel were stopping traffic and turning it away. Over a loudspeaker, someone was telling us the air show had been cancelled due to the eruption of Mt. St. Helen’s. We didn’t believe it at first. After all, doomsayers had been predicting an imminent eruption for years, and nothing. But as we turned around to head back home, something caught our eyes. Way out, on the horizon, at the end of those beautiful blue skies, we saw it. A line across the sky. And past that line, the sky turned black as night.

We watched that black line get closer and closer as we drove home. But we managed to get safely home and in the house before that black line engulfed the skies over Spokane, turning day into night. Much like an eclipse.

Then, slowly, the sky began to lighten somewhat, to a paler grey color, like the skies on a morning just before a winter snow. And then we saw it. Light grey powder, falling from the sky. We stood at the large picture window in the living room and watched in awe.

It was deathly quiet outside. No one out, no car sounds, animals, nothing. So quiet, we could actually hear the powder falling. Could hear it fall through the air and touch the ground. How incredible. It fell for a couple of hours. We settled in, went back to ‘normal’ household activity, and glanced out the window occasionally. We saw a few neighbors gather the courage to creep outside and put their hand in the air. The way you do when checking to see how hard it’s raining. Only they were catching the ashes in their hands. And feeling it. I got up the courage to go outside with a baby juice jar and fill it with the ash. As a memento. Sort of an ‘I was there’ thing.

Eventually, the ash stopped falling, and the sun came back out. And the world ventured forth to survey the results. The ash had the consistency of baby powder, or flour. And the same ability to resist water. Making it extremely difficult for the earth to absorb. The ash also, when disturbed, would immediately rise in the air, like a dust cloud, settling in cracks, coming in through windows and doors, getting into car engines. Getting into your lungs.

The city closed down. The mayor encouraged everyone to stay indoors, while the city planners tried to determine the health risk of breathing in the ash. And how to get rid of said ash. People who did venture forth, generally did so with surgical masks. Those with breathing problems flooded the hospitals for treatment from the effects of the ash clouds. My son, 6 months old at the time, developed an ear infection, and I was forced to take him out to the doctor and the pharmacy. Out into empty streets, filled with ash.

Along the way, we encountered numerous irate residents of neighborhoods trying to keep the ash dust clouds down. They certainly didn’t appreciate a car driving through and stirring it back up again. Fist after fist raised in anger at the back of my departing car. On one street, the neighbors blocked the street so I couldn’t pass through – blocked it physically, with their bodies. How could I drive through that? I wanted to scream at them, fuck you, my baby’s sick, and he’s more important than your fucking dust cloud. But I didn’t. I turned the corner, and found another street.

Over the years and moves, that baby juice bottle of ash that I’d preserved as a memento disappeared. Don’t know where, or how. Eventually, the earth took back most of the ash. Although for easily ten years after the eruption, if you drove on the highways after a rain, you could see the whitish grey marks on the concrete from the ash coming back up from the ground.

(photo credit)

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

101...adding to my list of 100 things about me

This is one I should have included in my 100 things about me.

Fact: I loooooove old books. I mean books printed over a hundred years ago. I can't afford anything older than mid 1800's, and nothing really popular, but I've managed to pick up a few on ebay. Just the feeling of opening these books, and imagining how many others' hands, through 150 years, have held the book. How many have read it. It's an amazing feeling.

The highlights of my small collection:

*Shakespeare's Poems and Sonnets, printed in 1896
*The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, printed in 1885
*The Woman's Manual of Parliamentary Law by Harriette Shattuck, printed in 1895 (the *original price listed in the text was 75 cents)
*a pocket version of Hawthorne's House of Seven Gables, printed in 1925
*a pocket version of the complete poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, printed in 1871
*Vanity Fair, printed in 1885
*a set of Longfellow's poetical works, printed in 1882

And my prized possession, a Christmas gift from my son, who had it shipped from the UK. From 'off Mill Pond,' Cornwall, to be exact. The owner valued the set at 100 pounds, and shipping was 59 pounds. I even kept the shipping label:

A large (imperial quarto), soft cover 45 volume set of Virtue's Imperial Shakspere, edited by Charles Knight. Each installment contains one beautiful steel engraving (I'll try to take a photo of one if I can). They were printed at the time of Knight's death, which I believe was mid-1860's. Most of the volumes were never read, as the folded top pages were never sliced open for reading. The original price listed on each installment is 2 shillings. Just think. It was printed in London in 1865-ish, purchased by someone in Cornwall, handed down in a family, probably sitting on a library shelf for years, and's mine!

I'm in the mood: to read. For pleasure. Not for dissertations, or classes, or work. Just for the sheer pleasure of it!

Monday, October 10, 2005

100 things about me

1. I’m the middle child. I have two brothers.
2. I have three fathers.
3. I’ve never been married.
4. I had my first child at 19. I had my second (and last) child at 30.
5. So when my youngest hits 18, I’ll have been a single mom for 29 years.
6. I was in two video documentaries, one about service-learning, one about welfare reform.
7. I loooooove old books. I mean books printed over a hundred years ago
8. My only international travel (other than Canada and Tijuana) is to Ecuador.
9. I presented at a conference in Ecuador.
10. I can’t wait to be single with no dependents, so I can travel internationally.
11. I’ve met Hilary Clinton.
12. And Sen. Paul Wellstone, before we lost him in a plane crash.
13. I’ve met Peter Edelman, husband to Marian Wright Edelman.
14. I’ve met Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickle and Dimed: On not getting by in America.
15. I’ve testified before a Senate committee.
16. I’ve talked on the phone with Sen. Chuck Schumer.
17. I’ve talked with several NYS senators and congress persons.
18. I’ve spoken before media, at a podium full of microphones, in front of the US Capital Building.
19. I’ve done press conferences at the capital building in Albany.
20. Eating vegetables is a hard limit.
21. Cutting my hair is a hard limit.
22. My hair has been grey since my mid-20’s.
23. I was a blonde in my late teens/early 20’s.
24. I lost my virginity at age 12 (not in a good way).
25. I had my first orgasm in my mid-20s.
26. I hate to cook, except for special occasions.
27. My favorite food is pizza.
28. Ditto whoppers and onion rings.
29. Ditto chocolate.
30. Ditto Mexican food, especially carne asada.
31. My favorite beer is Corona (even though it’s the bottom of the line in Mexico) with lime.
32. I once had to go without food to feed my son, and weighed less than 100 pounds at 5’5”.
33. Because of #32, the emergency room doc labeled me officially “undernourished.”
34. I’ve had pleurisy. I’ve had viral encephalitis.
35. I’ve had two c-sections.
36. I have a major body issue because of the c-section scars and stretch marks.
37. I started college when I was 30; my daughter was 3 months, my son 11 years.
38. I got my bachelor’s degree in three years.
39. I’m terrified of not finishing my dissertation.
40. I’m terrified of finishing my dissertation and then not finding a job.
41. I have $150,000 in student loan debt that I’ll never be able to pay back.
42. I have no self-control when it comes to spending; I’ll pay the bills, but spend what’s left, leaving nothing in savings.
43. I only just started a retirement account last fall through work.
44. I’ve filed bankruptcy twice in my life, due to medical expenses.
45. I’ve gone from weighing 100 pounds at 18, to 160 when pregnant at 19, back to 110 till my mid-30’s, ballooned to 212, and have lost much of it over this last year.
46. I still have 25 pounds to lose.
47. I need major dental work and can't afford it.
48. I am an agnostic.
49. Due to #35, I'd love to have a tummy tuck.
50. And laser eye surgery, just cause I can't see. My left eye is -9.0, right is -10.5.
51. Despite wearing contac lenses (one toric), I still have to wear reading glasses.
52. I do NOT IM.
53. In my poorer days, I’ve been a janitor, a motel maid, a sales clerk, worked in a fast food joint.
54. I lean strongly toward democratic socialism.
55. I despise SUV's and Hummers. And anything that uses up our fossil fuels at great rates.
56. I've been trying for years to write a memoir of my life during the welfare/poverty years.
57. Worked graveyard in a 24 hour gas/mart for two weekends, and never came back.
58. I love Mexican bailes.
59. I was a madrina (godmother) for a quinceanera.
60. I like mariachi music. And cumbias.
61. And irish folk music.
62. And most traditional music from around the world.
63. I’ve never slept through the night, as long as I can remember.
64. I have a seriously deviated septum, and can’t breathe well through my nose.
65. Which means being gagged would be a serious challenge.
66. I absolutely swoon over bondage/restraints.
67. And blindfolds.
68. I love really old books. I have a few from the late 1800's, but the really old ones I can't afford.
69. I make very poor choices when I drink.
70. My waist used to be so tiny I used bandannas for belts.
71. I’m a size 12 now, down from an 18W; I’d be happier in a 10; ecstatic in an 8.
72. I wear black and dark grey nail polish on my toes.
73. I’m a major US history freak.
74. Since having viral encephalitis, I suffer from severe motion sickness.
75. I’ve never lived with anyone in my adult life (cept the rug rats).
76. I’ve never spent the entire night/actually slept with a man.
77. I'm really, really, really not ready to become a grandma; my son and his wife have strict orders not to procreate just yet.
78. I’m absolutely terrified of flying, and do so only when I really have to.
79. I’m afraid of intimacy.
80. And yet I crave intimacy.
81. I love scents, and am always burning candles or incense.
82. I hate overpowering scents, though, and can even have an asthmatic reaction to too much scent.
83. I don’t cry.
84. I laugh when I’m in pain.
85. I love physical pain -- the good kind.
86. I could never choose a favorite movie, song, music group, music genre; I like so many.
87. I’ve been so drunk that I can’t remember anything that happened (a very long time ago).
88. I’ve driven drunk (again, a very long time ago).
89. I smoked pot throughout jr. high and high school.
90. I was a speed freak my junior year of high school.
91. I love psychological thrillers, but I can always figure out who did it very early in the movie.
92. I hate blood and guts horror movies.
93. I discovered a few months ago, at the swing club, that there really is such a thing as too big. For me, anyway.
94. I love feeling things physically.
95. I hate most holidays, except for the fact that I don’t have to go to work.
96. I’m afraid of the dark and sleep with a light on somewhere.
97. I am so not a morning person.
98. Root beer. Not coke, pepsi, 7 up, sprite. Root beer.
99. I’m a shoe and clothes horse.
100. I love to go for long drives, windows open, wind in my hair, and turn the cd player up as loud as possible.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

now when the hell did that happen?

I just got called "ma'am" by the security guard at work. A twenty something. It's been happening a lot lately. Just when the did I go from being "miss" to being "ma'am"? It makes me feel old beyond my years. Sort of like how I'd feel if someone had a reason to call me "grandma." **major fucking shudders**