Archive | July, 2010

Freaky Produce

31 Jul

There is a secret hiding in the bottom of the produce drawer in the refrigerator.

I spotted it the other day.

I think I was looking for an apple or a lemon and there it was in all its freakiness.

This onion is growing tits.

Freakish.

Triple A, My Friend

30 Jul

OMGosh. Can I say how much I LOVE Triple A??!! And no, this is certainly not a paid advertisement.

My car wouldn’t start yesterday. This is what went down…

I had pulled over into a shopping center parking lot because of a huge downpour slash thunderstorm. (Sidenote: I used to be terribly afraid of t-storms as a child and I would crawl under my bed where there were springs and metal wires and I would get my hair caught in aforementioned metal and one of my grandparents would have to come and remove the mattress to my twin bed and once they had to cut me out via hair loss. Now I’m down to 1/4 that afraid of t-storms. Instead of crawling beneath a bed or furniture I cringe really hard and tighten my shoulders and squinch up my eyes and ask forgiveness for my sins.)

So anyhoos, I pull over and wait the ugly angry storm out and since it’s like 1,000 degrees outside I kept turning my car “half-on” and getting some a/c. Wellll, seems my aging battery didn’t like that too much, for when the storm was finally over I turn the key and klumpt. Nothing. Nadda. Ugly. Me. Skeered. Panicky. My car’s life flashed before me. I wondered if I’d made that last will & testament to Dog Town. I quickly mused on the suburb I was in, how far away I was from my friend’s house that I’m currently staying at. (“Currently staying”–that’s an oxymoron.) Crazy, irrational thoughts traipsed through my mind.

I think a horror movie of a girl who broke down on the side of a dark road near an alley in Modesto in 1978 in a red Datsun on a hillside at 2:48 in the morning when she should’ve just left the party earlier passed through my head. Nevermind that it was daytime and I was nowhere near Modesto.

Breaking down slash having car trouble always, always unravels me. Suddenly the car I could love so much is a big metal burden of magnificent proportions. I snarl at it and talk mean to it. Then I panic because I know it hears me and could act even uglier. I tell it to act right or else. And then I purr at it like a kitty and stroke the dashboard and coax it to start right now or else!

So I call Triple A. (Ever notice that people often write “Triple AAA”?) They say they’ll be there “by 3:06” which was sort of funny to me. 3:06? Not 3:00 or 3:30 but “3:06.” So I sit there in my burdensome car and I think all kinds of neurotic thoughts.

What if it’s something major. Like the engine?

What if it’s the alternator? OMGosh. I don’t have alternator money!

What if Triple A never comes and I’m still sitting here at midnight and the shopping center’s closed and the police plant some stuff on me and find a reason to arrest me and–

Who’s that guy over there in the plaid shorts? And plaid shirt? Simultaneously?? My eyes hurt.

Geez, I’m hungry. I could use a hoagie right now.

Good thing I peed before this happened.

What if I have to get towed? Glad I have Triple A PLUS.

What if everything under my hood is broken?! How much does a bike cost? Gas sure is expensive these days.

I wish I was rich. I don’t care what people say about money doesn’t make you happy. TRY ME.

Gosh, this mosquito bite is really itching right now.

I wonder what the square root of 65 is.

Then, as if heaven has heard my neuroses, the Triple A van comes rolling into the parking lot and I run to him. I run to him like Whitney Houston in The Bodyguard. I’m this close to opening my arms and jumping in his lap. And kissing him on his cheek. And proposing marriage. Or offering him lunch with the coins I have in my kiddie cup, my emergency fund that purchases Slurpees and closes many poverty gaps on the road to fundraising slash art life.

But I don’t kiss or land on his lap or anything like that. He gives me a jump. My battery’s dead. He tells me not to stop on my way home for anything unless I want to need help again. Not those words, but you get the picture. I was gushing that it was “just” the battery. I was so happy to hear that engine turn over once he put those jumper cables on my weak baby metal. As I drove I had post-jump neurotic thoughts.

A year ago I had enough money to just buy another battery. What am I doing with this poverty art life? Why haven’t I had better “luck” yet? Is God peeved at me? Gosh, I’ve bitten my nails down so far I don’t even recognize my hands anymore. I sure wish I could just pull over and get a donut but, wait, I can’t cut the car off. That guy right there driving the Jaquar, I wonder what HE has in the bank. I’ll bet he doesn’t have to worry about the cost of a dang car battery, not to mention having two nails in one tire. I wonder if he’s hiring. Maybe I could do an old fashioned lemonade stand to raise money. I’m pathetic. I hate life. No, wait, I love life. I hate this. I wish I would just win this radio contest. I could really use paper money right now. My ankle itches but I’m driving and can’t scratch it. That would be awkward. And perhaps dangerous.

Oy. What a summer so far.

Ah, Delta Dawn

29 Jul

When I was a kid I loved this song. LOVED IT. I would wake up in my sleep singing it. I had no idea precisely what the song was about–something about a flower that this Delta Dawn girl was wearing. A rose from long ago.  (Come to think of it, most of the “adult” songs I sang growing up I had no idea what they even meant, that they were about love and cheating men and bar fights and scorn and torn up hearts. I just sang along to the ones that cornered me.)

There were the standouts:

Billy Don’t Be a Hero by Paper Lace

Anything on Helen Reddy’s I AM WOMAN album.

The Jackson 5 of course.

John Denver (Oh, how I loved that man’s voice and soul bits!)

James Taylor

See, now I’m hurting over here. My seven year old soul has returned and I feel a tear forming. I cannot continue with this list right now. I’m going to go sit alone in my room until I feel like 2010 again.

The Cool Down Crowd

23 Jul

They rope us in especially in the summertime. See, they turn on their air conditioning really high and they know the moment we feel it we will not only let out a great weary exhale, but we’ll most likely hang out a while. A long while. And hopefully in our heat induced daze we will purchase stuff we had no intention of purchasing.

When it’s 98 degrees outside, not to mention when the humidity is sky high, a severly air conditioned Barnes & Noble bookstore becomes a haven. There we were yesterday, total strangers tucked in every corner of B&N perusing books in sections we normally wouldn’t even have entered. The TOOLS section. The RETIREMENT section. The LUSH GARDENING section. It didn’t matter what section we ended up in; as long as it was cool.

I think I found a copy of Motor Trends in my hand. I’m so not into anything having to do with motors. Or clanging. Or being hunched over an engine, tinkering.

There were people sitting on the floors, sprawled in sweaty t-shirts. Panting from relief. I think I saw a Grandpa asleep in a cozy chair sucking his thumb. I think he had his plaid button-up shirt unbuttoned down to his hairy belly  button. I think I spent way too much time in there browsing books and magazines and random book related gadgets. I think I want to live in there until the fall, perhaps mid-October, when the daily temperature finally stops mocking us. By then I’ll be a well-read pro at everything. Even engines.

Viva Ranch Life

22 Jul

Drat. I’ve been roped in and I can’t get out.

The horses. The beautiful photography. The flatness of the land. The cute kiddies. The finnnne, gentle, serious husband. The quiet stillness. The humor. Her writing (especially her childhood stories and “Harlequin Romance novel” ).

I’m talking about–drum roll please–The Pioneer Woman’s blog.

Yep, I’d heard about her for a while now but whenever I clicked on her site I just clicked right off thinking there’s no way EYE would be interested in, of all things, ranch life. I mean, I live in a metropolis and all. And I’m not into steak. Not to mention I’ve never even been to Oklahoma or the heartland. Or even Vermont. Heck, I’ve never even milked a cow or seen a calf nut before.

But for the past two weeks or so–my friends are really concerned about me–I’ve been reading the “Black Heels to Tractor Wheels” saga with anxious salivation and I think there was panting at certain junctures. The archives have taken quite a while to get through with what limited time I have each day to read, of all things, but I finished. AHHHHHHH.

I think I’m a Pioneer Woman/ranch junky now.

Angels in the Midst of Us

21 Jul

So yesterday I was out doing my fundraising/art thang. Yep, that’s what I call it these days. And I met this lady who was just fabulous with her long sweeping black summer dress and her dangling earrings and her huge designer looking sunglasses and her short fierce haircut…I literally approach people to present art and then I ask for donations when I’m really, really broke and desperate. Like now.  So anyhoos, I approach this fabulous looking woman and immediately as she turns around to face me I see it. She has no hand on one arm. Suddenly I feel like uber crap, like a poor, ugly, sinister artist type who’s so desperate and poverty stricken lately that she’s resorted to asking total strangers to take a look-see at her art and hey, why not give a donation to the arts–ME?

See, I have a rule: No approaching/fundraising anyone who appears to be downtrodden themselves. Read: obviously handicapped, mentally ill or elderly. And of course no children. (Even though a lot of kids convince their parents to purchase art, especially the more colorful clay pendant pieces.)

Wellll, it was far too late to turn back; I had already approached her and I didn’t want to shrink back and make her feel bad that I felt bad that I had approached someone clearly  “handicapped.” Well, let me tell you, this woman was no handicapped woman. Within minutes she was motivating me with her Tony Robbins, super positive, glass-is-half-full outlook on life. I was mesmerized by her. Mes.Mer.Rized. In the course of the conversation she informed me that she has lupus and just three years ago began losing her very hands. WOW. With my glass-is-half-empty outlook on life, I cannot imagine going through such a thing AND having such a positive attitude about it. Me, I wouldn’t even be in a fabulous floor sweeping black dress, no; I would be in frumpy clothes pissed at God that I had a disease that was literally taking my hands from me. But not her. She was an angel, pure and real. I even asked her if she was real. (We entertain angels all the time, you know.) And she laughed. “Yeah, right.”

Long story short, she told me to keep pushing, keep moving, keep tackling my goals and don’t give up, period.

It was so motivational hearing it from someone with no hands. Without hands. Someone without  hands who had fabulousness oozing from her. Her lack of hands almost became a second thought. While she was yet talking I could sense the neurons in my brain being rewired. I was truly inspired by her words, her energy, her outtake on life. Her life. It was like discovering a diamond on a bumpy path. I saw light.

I ended up giving her two gorgeous pieces of clay which she exclaimed at with excitement and genuine admiration. I told her she had blessed me with her existence. Unbeknownst to her, just that morning I was thinking of throwing in the towel. I was crying in my redundant frugal oatmeal (it took me 45 minutes to eat it between sobbing and blowing my nose on disintegrating tissues) trying to figure out how to just give up, forget about everything, the bills, the depression, the hair woes, the homelessness, the lack of stability, the being near 40-ness, the everything that hurts and then on top of that being a right-brain, hard to assimilate into a cubicle, suddenly poverty stricken, ditch digging ball of a mess. I was toying with the idea of…well…figuring out how to end the pain.

Then I met Fabulous Lupus and she shone her light on my pitiful self.

Oy, New York

16 Jul

Photo by Wikipedia

So I went to NYC to hustle in art form yesterday. Caught the bus up and back. It’s funny, every single time I go to NYC I come back thinking the same kinds of thoughts…

How do people live there?

Who pays $7.34 for a few chunks of fruit?

I feel dirty. Really dirty.

How do the homeless sleep on the streets?! In such a city as THIS?

My legs/toes/ankles/back/shoulders hurt.

Upon returning to D.C.: Ahhhhhhhh. The suburbs.

Quite honestly I think that NYC is so much hype. It’s a concrete jungle island that’s ridiculously crowded, shockingly expensive (and extremely tax high) and the people are innately cold and aloof and suspicious. There’s a bustle in the air, of people going to and fro to work, to home, to restaurants, to shop, to sightsee, to audition, to basically say they had a NY experience. 

There were people asking other smokers if they could please buy just one cigarette from them because the price apparently is now, like, $12-$15 per pack. Yet everywhere–and I mean everywhere–I saw people smoking. There was smoke being blown on me on every block, around every corner. I did some quicko math. $12.00/pack X 4 packs/week = $48.00/week.

$48.00/week X 4 weeks = $192/month.

For cigarettes.

Then there was the weirdo guy, clearly with diagnosed mental illnesses, (said he’d been in “Bellevue”) who “took” to me, following me around for perhaps an hour. He told me in a whispery voice that he lives in the subway, that he has a couch down there, that he has a rat this big. He tried to lure me into his supposed subway home. At some point I truly wondered if he had bodies underground. I kept picturing Hannibal Lecter. Seriously. He even made mention about “making a roast” and asked me if I had a frying pan. At some point he told me he was going to outright “French kiss” me right before bringing his face closer to mine. YIKES. There’s so much more to the story but the aforementioned will suffice.  There were other strange-ohs but I’ll just share The Rat Boy story for now.

By the end of the day I was wondering if I was some sort of freak magnet. Perhaps my suburban/ “southerness” (being from D.C. and all) made me attract the freakozoids. Perhaps I didn’t have the typical hardened NY look and appeared more approachable. Or gullible. Though the latter I am so not. Otherwise, I would’ve ended up underground on The Subway Boy’s couch. With carrots and baby potatoes as garnish.

As usual with my summer trips to NYC, I saw too many girls who were dressed quite tourist-inappropriate in heels and tall sandals and of course flip-flops. Flip-flops are so not walking shoes. Why, you have to scrunch up the ball of your foot to even keep the shoes on with each and every step. Tennis shoes, people, tennis shoes. Sure, they’re not as cute but at the end of the day your shins won’t have you hobbling. See, when I’m navigating through massive crowds of people for nine hours straight I prefer to not have heeled women walking slowly in front of me blocking the sidewalks like ducks because their Herald Square shoe choice is challenged.

Gosh, listen to me; I sound like one of them now.

The Great Gilly Hopkins

13 Jul

This book. Oh This Book. It meant so very much to me in 1978 when I was just a young child in foster care in Maryland. This book. Oh, this book. The parallels were beyond similar yet Gilly Hopkins and I were so incredibly different.

I was mean. I was angry. I was weary at such a young age. I was a fighter. I was bad. A twisted rebel rouser. Brewing. Ticking.

So Gilly Hopkins and I–though I loathed parts of her–were twins in print.

In the same year this book was released and I discovered it, I was sent to my very first foster home and my first group home after my kind gentle social worker removed me with police escort from the evil biological mother’s place. When I look back on this book and read the summary I realize that it was not just written in the very same year I went through similar turmoil, but that just like in my life the story took place in Maryland, of all places. Wow-ah.

All I know is this book was a light in a tunnel. It was a hand being reached out to me as I thrashed in a ditch. To be a kid and come upon a book that speaks to you in such a profound way. Oh! One day as an adult this book just popped into my mind, the details were murky except I remember the girl was just like me yet unlike me and that she was in foster care and she was troubled and that the cover of the book showed a girl blowing a huge bubble gum bubble and that she was a bully and that she didn’t like her foster care surroundings. That’s all I could remember in detail; it was the deep resonation of the book that I couldn’t shake.

Children book writers have the sheer power to save a life. Or two. Or thousands.

It’s like having18 toes and hobbling around in a world of 10 toes, feeling all lonely and different and abandoned, and then strolling into the school library one day and discovering a book about a person with 19 toes and how they survive while presenting their 19 toes to the world. As art.

The Asian Giant

11 Jul

Hmm.  This is fascinating.

I remember hearing about this experiment chronicled in the book above a while back on the “Today” show and I’m revisiting it today after noticing that my el cheapo apple juice is from China. I buy it ’cause it’s, like, $1.50 for 96 ounces. But really, I don’t want my drinks to come from China. Ok, I’m good with tennis shoes for now because, well, I don’t eat them. But apple juice? I mean, I pass apple orchards every fall right here near the D.C. area in Winchester, Va, for crying out loud.

WHY IS MY APPLE JUICE FROM CHINA OF ALL PLACES? (And Argentina?!) Says it right there on the bottle.

*&$%@#!!

I know. I know it’s rather difficult to avoid Made in China. In fact, it’s almost impossible but this apple juice thing has got me in a tizzy. (And yes, I’m aware of the whole Colgate scandal. I don’t even use Colgate. I use Tom’s of Maine, ahem, when I have money–real money.)

I’m reeling over here. Reeling. So I go to the store again and peruse the apple juices. [Sidenote: I have a really disturbing form of acid reflux so my choice of beverages is super limited.] Most apple juices are indeed Made in China. Once again, disturbing. So then I default to Google, but of course and find this. So now I’m really upset. I mean, that mysterious MADE IN CHINA apple juice is making its way through my body right now, slushing around with its questionable ingredients imported all the way from Slipping Through The Cracks of Federal Regulation Land. (Oh gosh, did I just say Federal Regulation??! As if they’ve got our backs.)

See? I’m rambling here.

It’s the apple juice that’s MADE. IN. CHINA.

Well, this is more reason for me to buy my own land and grow my own stuff, period.

What’s the big deal, you say? I mean, wasn’t I drinking it beforehand without a problem? Welllll, I just started drinking all of this apple juice, really, and so no, it wasn’t like I was the Apple Juice Queen and then suddenly knowing it hailed from China made me recoil. I mean, now that I mention it I have been experiencing some weirdo body issues that I won’t mention here.

Cue scary music: Could it be the apple juice?

More later.

Random Acts of Kindness

7 Jul

 

Wow. Imean, WOW.

So there I was at a gas station yesterday evening after a long day of art life mixed with intense angry heat. My car thermometer read at its highest 107 degrees. I finally resorted to riding around most of the day with the a/c on while cautiously eyeing my gas tank. At some point I was in a suburb where the gas was much cheaper than, say, in the city itself so I pulled in to fill up.

Part of selling art/fundraising involves getting a lot of change. Quarters. Nickels. Dimes. Even pennies with stuff crusted to them. (Ewww.) I had some money in my wallet though it’s all for my car insurance payment (which I’m still short $26, by the way.) But I pulled out my load of quarters and started putting them on the counter at the gas station while the cashier looked wearily at them. A customer (white male, middle aged, almost preppy looking) emerged from the back with a Pepsi in his hand. As soon as I saw him I felt slight embarrassment because there I was with all those quarters, not knowing that someone else was in the gas station store. Welllllll, this gets interesting.

I step back from putting my load of quarters on the counter and tell the cashier to go ahead and ring up the preppy Pepsi guy. THEN the Pepsi guy sees all those quarters and me standing there with my cup of change and immediately says, “What car are you driving?” I point outside and tell him which car. (Not sure why he asked.) Then he does something so incredibly wonderful that my heart smiled.

He gave the cashier a $20 bill, says put it on my gas pump after deducting the Pepsi cost.

I was floored. Floored.

Now sure, I’ve practiced random acts of kindness myself over the years, most of my adult life but it’s always shocking when I see/experience the true of kindness of others. So totally unexpected.

After thanking him profusely (You would’ve thought I’d won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Film category) I gathered up my sprawled quarters and both the cashier guy and I were just staring at each other feeling all gushy and wonderful from witnessing such an immediate act of generosity. We almost hugged each other over the counter. Almost.

I think I skipped back to my car.

I don’t know who this guy was but he was one kind dude. An angel for certain.

My quarters are still outside in my car in the change cup awaiting the next pincher moment. Phew!