Thursday, September 29, 2005

Voices From Beyond

Whenever I have dreams of my dad, he never speaks. I told my mother-in-law about it and she said that sometimes when you dream of those who have died, they don't speak. That's how you know they are dead. She said that she had a dream of brother's widow in Vietnam and she just stood there soundlessly. She called her parents back there and asked about her. They told her that she had, indeed passed away (under very politically suspicious circumstances - as did her husband - but that's another story), but they hadn't wanted to tell her.

There was only one time when my father spoke to me in a dream. And it's so spooky, I'm almost afraid to share it.

It was right before I was to marry Jethro. I was a wreck. I was pregnant and ill and nervous and I had no idea if I had any right to force Jethro to live with me indefinitely. When I went to sleep, I had a dream that I was about 10 years old, and my sisters and I were at a flea market looking for winter mittens. There were hundreds and hundreds of mittens in these barrels and you had to dig through them to find the pair you wanted.

After digging through them and finding a pair, we left. I started second-guessing immediately about whether or not I had picked the right pair. I was fretting and moaning and really working up to a good whine, when my dad put his hand on my shoulder and said, "It'll be alright."

That was it. I woke up feeling reassured.

I never expected to feel my father's presence after his death. And, with the exception of this dream, I haven't. I don't feel ignored, however. If you believe in any way in spiritual "warfare" (for lack of a better term), you would know my father had bigger fish to fry. We all knew what was expected of us and I think he would have been miffed if we distracted him from his larger task by going off the deep end (which I did anyway). But in that one moment where I desperately needed some reassurance, he came through. And I've lived by those dream words ever since.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

What Jethro Packs Besides A Firearm

I sorted through years worth of shit to find and pack that which was most valuable to us. It ended up being photos and a few heirlooms from deceased grandparents, and some toys that I enjoyed Gwennie and Emma play with.

Jethro packed meat. Forty pounds of frozen meat on ice in a cooler.

It's interesting to see where our priorities lie.


We met Trashman at a divy little joint called the Broken Spoke, which Jethro kept calling the Sliding Knob. Guess who hasn't gotten any in awhile? We also met his lovely wife, Jen, and their two very cool sons, who were raised well enough to pretend they weren't bothered by our two little girls tagging along after them and insisting that they play with them.

I am actually at a loss for words when it comes to Trashman. The man is virtually untapped. He was all he's cracked up to be and much more. He had Jethro and me in stitches and I was wiping tears of mirth from my eyes more than once. If you would, please try to get him to blog about Vegas. It will be well worth it. He is not only entitled to his opinions, he has earned them. He has done shit and that's all I can really say.

And as for Jen, well, he is a lucky, lucky bastard. She is cool and beautiful and down-to-earth and so funny and friendly. I liked her instantly.

We talked for five hours during which Jethro did his best to get Jen drunk. I don't know how well it worked, but he sure made his best effort. Trashman gave me my .38 special casing earrings. I plan on wearing them when I want to intimidate people.

So all in all, I am very glad we evacucationed to Austin.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Friday, September 23, 2005

"Better Refugee North Right Quick, Ma'am"

Twelve hours to get from Houston to Austin. We spent four hours of that on 1093 (Westheimer) on a stretch that should take only 10 minutes. I had to take Emma to pee on the side of the road and she cried because she doesn't like to do bathroom things in front of people. I'm sure she was utterly traumetized having to do it in front of 100,000 people. I also got eaten alive with fireants on my left foot because I couldn't shake them off while Emma was peeing. But I don't complain. There are others who still haven't made it here.

But once you resign yourself to the fact that traffic is going to be a bitch and you are not going to make good time, it becomes much easier to handle mentally. I only had one instance of road rage. We had just made it through the four hours of traffic on 1093 and the only reason traffic was moving at all was because two nice men were directing the traffic that was coming from two directions. We were the second in line and the woman in front of us stopped to ask the nice men directions. There were probably 15 hours of cars behind her by that time, and the stupid bitch wants to hold it up to ask for directions she probably didn't have the brain function to understand anyway. I lunged across Jethro and plunged myself on the horn. It was either that or the gun, and I didn't care which. I just leapt upon the first thing that would do my bidding. The woman is very lucky she survived Hurricane Rita with her body whole.

We are staying with one of my sisters who lives in apartments owned by a frat house. It is a total shitbox, so Jethro and I went to WalMart (which is a blog post in itself) and bought her a dvd player, a shower curtain and some groceries. We will end up buying her a shower head too when all is said and done. She is lucky to have us and we are lucky to have her, but she is one of those kids who is a little old lady long before her time. I think Gwennie and Emma will put quite a strain upon her nerves by the time we leave.

I am hoping Trashman calls us. It would be great to finally meet him (hint, hint).

Thank you all so much for your well wishes. Aside from worrying about Jethro's parents, who wouldn't leave even when I had Gwennie call them and beg, we are doing fine. God bless you all.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Run For The Hills Folks

So we are planning on evacuating and we are planning to stay. Does this make any sense? The stores have run out of water, plywood, and batteries. It's a good thing I put fresh ones in my vibrator. We can use those.

But I think we're evacuating to Austin. If it hits the way they are projecting, Austin will get it too, but it won't be as bad. So Trashman, here we come. If I can talk my sister in to watching Gwennie and Emma, I will spend the duration getting plowed on 6th street. I thought of a new drink for the occasion: The Hurricane Rita. It would probably taste terrible, but it would be so freakin' cool.

We 're going to be getting ready today and leaving tomorrow depending on the projections, so I don't know if I will have time to blog. If I don't get a chance to blog for a few days, say your prayers for us and everyone else in harms way.

And Jack, on the off chance we try to ride it out, will you come and save us?

Monday, September 19, 2005

New Bra and a Bag of Cheetos


I must buy my tops
At the store for Large Ladies.
Shut up. It's the boobs.

On the floor was an
Empty, crinkled Cheetos bag.
I laughed pretty hard.

(I'm sorry AJ).

But seriously. God bless the UK. If it weren't for them, it would be strictly army issue.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Neighborhood Kids

My neighbor dropped by yesterday and asked if I could pick her elder son up from school. Her younger son (with the big thang) popped his head in and said, "Because I have to go to the doctor. I have a bad pee pee infection. It's swelled up real big and it's all red. Well, the top is red, the bottom is kind of pink."

I am doubled over laughing at this point, and his slightly drug addled mom has just realized what her son has said. She tried clamping her hand over the kid's mouth, but it was far too late. It was less than no trouble to pick up her son, so I agreed.

This particular son has a crush on Gwennie, but as you may know, Gwennie walks across the street every day with a boy named Nicholas. I had no idea how hard Elder Son was taking this until yesterday. I was waiting for all the kids to cross the street. Elder Son reached me first and we waited for Gwennie and Nicholas who were holding hands and laughing as usual. Elder Son frowned and looked menacing and he wouldn't speak to Gwennie in the car. Heehee. And so it begins. I've decided to take a position of non-interference. Unless there is actual meanness or snobbery on Gwennie's or Emma's part, they can pick their own friends.


I only had one steady boyfriend before I dated Jethro. I'll call him Joe. He was a very sweet boy, but so not the one for me. He was Southern Baptist to begin with and I was very very Catholic. It wasn't really a problem for either of us, but there was always this undercurrent. You'd think two Christians would have less friction that a Buddist and a Christian, but not so. We made out a lot, but I don't think he ever got past a very limited second base. Poor guy.

There were so many little things that drove me nuts. He always said the same thing whenever we got behind a slow car: "Come on, people. Vertical peddle on the right!" I had made the near fatal mistake of laughing politely the first time he said this. After that, he seemed to think it was one of his better lines.

There was one incident in particular that marked the beginning of the end. He was going to Baylor College in Waco and decided to come down one weekend to see me. He and his boys had stopped at a Mexican restaurant first. I was growing a little weary of him by this time, but it was hard to break up with him. I didn't have a whole lot of friends and for me, boyfriends were a little hard to come by.

The doorbell rang and I answered it. There was Joe standing there, smiling. I stared at him in horror. He had been eating beans apparently because his front tooth was encased in a bean skin. There is nothing so gross looking. He swept me up in a big bear hug and tried to plant one on my mouth. I gave him my cheek at the last minute. I wasn't quite sure how to tell him in front of my family and his friends that there was no way in hell he could kiss me on the mouth with a bean skin on his tooth. Joe just chalked up my reticence to Catholic modesty. I was panicking by this time. No one else seemed to notice the bean skin which, to me, had suddenly become the biggest thing in the room. I was standing at the edge of the kitchen and living room. Everyone was talking and Joe sidled off to the kitchen presumably to get a drink of water. Suddenly, I was snatched from behind, pushed up against a wall, and kissed about as soundly as I've ever been.

Have you ever screamed with someone's tongue in your mouth?

When he was all through, the bean skin was gone. I checked my own mouth frantically with my tongue, but came up dry. I never did find it and I must have looked quite strange to Joe, who was standing there grinning like a Cheshire cat. Somehow, I don't think my reaction to his grand, romantic gesture was quite what he'd expected. We broke up a month or two later. I called him at college and told him we needed to see other people. Rumor had it that he still liked me, although I can't imagine why. Poor guy. I wasn't mean to him, but I was thorough.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Boom Boom Room

Jeth and I went to Brighton's Saturday night. We hadn't planned on it because I thought we had a wedding. As it turned out, the wedding is this coming weekend and we were able to make it to Travis's party.

Brighton's home is so beautiful. I got to meet her kids who are adorable right down to Sara's brand-new glasses. And I got a look at the Lennox tan walls which are all they are cracked up to be.

I'll have to admit I sucked back quite a few margaritas. They were delicious. This had the common side-effect of making me pretty drunk. After the party ended, the folks who were left made a little trip to the Boom Boom Room. For those who haven't read Brighton's blog, the Boom Boom Room belongs to their neighbors. It is in the back of their garage and it looks like a little hole-in-the-wall bar. There was a bar set up at one end and a refrigerator full of beer at the other. The decor consisted of a few deer skulls over which were draped several bras, and the head of a some type of feral cat with it's teeth bared. There was also a stripper pole which may have been a contributing factor in the dangling of the bras.

Brighton, brought out her stripper shoes and treated us all to a display of highly professional dance moves. Carmen E-slut-ctra has nothing on her. What struck me as so amusing was that one second she was an adorable little hostess with the mostest and bestest margarita machine in the entire world, and the next second, she was a professional seductress in 9 inch heels.

And speaking of the 9 inch heels, I tried them on. How drunk was I?

I don't have good balance as it is and I rarely wear heels. I bought a pair to wear to a formal in college. I was practicing walking in them outside my apartment and my gay neighbor observed that I walked like a truck driver and proceeded to wedge his feet into them and show me how it was done.

I didn't fair a whole lot better with Brighton's. I crammed by long, narrow tootsies in them and had to spread my legs very wide to maintain some kind of balance. Sounds sexy doesn't it? It wasn't. I didn't see my reflection or anything (and couldn't have anyway since I was cross-eyed drunk), but I have a feeling I looked like I was giving birth. To a truck driver.

But it was a very fun night. It is always nice to meet people who take it upon themselves to make their own good times. So here's to enterprising married couples with beer, margaritas, and boom boom rooms.

Monday, September 12, 2005

A View From The Top

When I was in college in New Hampshire, a few friends and I decided to make a trip to NYC over the Thanksgiving break. It was bitterly cold, and being from Texas, I was not in posession of a very good winter coat. I was wanting to stay inside as much as possible and there was no argument from the rest of the group. Most of the guys had never been to NYC before, so we were stuck doing the usual touristy things - which really are mandatory on your first visit. Since I had grown up in NY and had relatives in the city, I had already done everything we ended up doing. The only thing I hadn't done was visit the observation deck of the World Trade Center.

Being fairly terrified of heights, I agreed to go to the top of the building, but not onto the roof. However, being with a group of boys for whom exploiting one's worst fears is their idea of rollicking good fun, I found myself forced onto the escalator leading to the outside deck. I never did end up near the railing, but I could see plenty from the wall to which I stuck as if my back were made of wet cement.

Thoughts of the apocolypse are not far from anyone's mind when they're staring out from atop one of the tallest buildings in the world. Perhaps there is a primogenitive fear of the consequences of the Tower of Babel. My mind went nuclear immediately and I saw a ball of fire rise from the edge of the world, and engulf the twinkling lights below. I was happy to leave.

My father said once that he didn't like the World Trade Center. I asked him why and he said they were too big a target. I'll admit I was a bit of a daddy's girl, but I still think he had second sight.

Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid

- Ronald Reagan

"Burn my Flag and I will shoot you........but I'll shoot you with a lot of love, like a good American".

-Johnny Cash, American entertainer, country music legend.

The battle is now joined on many fronts. We will not waver; we will not tire; we will not falter; and we will not fail. Peace and freedom will prevail.

-President George W. Bush
October 7, 2001

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Of all the advice I have to give, this is probably the most valuable:

Don't ever, EVER, EVER shave your armpits and then try to soften them up with lemon verbena/sweet pea bath salt.
I swear if I didn't have all girl stuff, I'd be a guy. I can't sleep anymore unless I've gotten off. I don't know what it is. I'm good for one per night and then it's lights out, mama.
Gwennie got a note home and her star crossed out because she spit on the floor while they were lining up for P.E. WTF? I never did anything like that when I was in school. She cried so hard when I asked to see her folder last night, and when I read of her transgression, she said she did it because she was bad and selfish. No duh. Sometimes the inner workings of her little brain baffle me.

Emma is her usual good little self. She started pre-school at her old daycare. I'm so glad they have a program because she loves the girl who runs it. When I told her she would be starting preschool soon, she got all excited. The next morning when I was walking out the door with Gwennie, she came running up with her little lunch box and said, "I'm ready for school, Mommy!" I had to leave her heartbroken and sobbing when I told her she wasn't starting until next week.
I'm in the middle of reading about fornication in Imperialist Japan. There is a book called The Pillow Boy of Lady Onogoro. I've read it a few times now. It is quite...stirring. I'm also reading a history of the U.S. presidency, but I doubt anyone wants to hear about that.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Jack Is Wearing My Underpants

Well, maybe not Jack, but some N.O. cop is. Jethro and I were fortunate to find a retired police officer who was heading down to the area to bring supplies to the police officers there. We were able to load up on t-shirts, undies and socks - all extra-large, of course, and give them to him before he headed out.

I know this is an unprecedented disaster, but all of this hurricane stuff is depressing.

Not that this has anything to do with anything, but I went to bath junkie yesterday and made my own bath salt in a lemon verbena/sweet pea fragrance. It smells awesome. It's more of a summer fragrance than a fall one, but since it is sweltering down here until sometime in January, I figure what the hell. The bath junkie girls had never smelled it before, and liked it so much they wrote it down so they could recommend it to others. I was slightly piqued that they wouldn't allow me to enjoy my rather exclusive creation, but was flattered they thought it would sell well.

Jethro and the girls and I went one of our cousin's weddings Saturday night. I was running around like a madwoman trying to get everything ready. I posted a comment at Fleece's, that sweet, ruthless connoisseur of bad fashion, describing the outfit I left the house wearing:

I was in a huge hurry to get things for a wedding, and I left the house wearing extremely unflattering orange lounge pants and a brown muscle shirt [dyed] with Texas dirt, a fact which is proudly stated on the front along with a picture of the TX flag, that I didn't realize showed more of my bra than not, and unmatching pink flip flops that gave me blisters after awhile and made me walk funny.

How sick is that?

One of my excursions that day included Payless for Emma's sandals. I suddenly remembered a man I once saw there. He was utterly nondescript. I would never be able to identify him if I ever saw him again, but I caught him with his pant legs rolled up and he was trying on very large sized ladies shoes. I did a double take. If I'd been in Montrose, Houston's rainbow fairy district, I wouldn't have looked twice. But in ultra-conservative part of Greater Houston, where I am pleased, or at least resigned, to make my abode, this sight is something of a rarity.

I asked the people working there if he ever came back and they said he came in all the time and that he was one of three men who regularly shopped there for all their large footed needs. They said he would peek his head in first to make sure no one could see him, and then proceed to the size 12's. They said sometimes he would come in with a little purse, and sometimes he would be wearing pantyhose.

You just never know about people sometimes.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Kind of a Hiatus

I'm not going to stop blogging, but my posts may be less profound and witty than usual. I'm going to be spending most of my time working and every other minute will be spend sorting clothes at the church. They have so many donations, but no one to sort through and organize them. Just so you know, if you wish to donate clothes, if you could take a few extra minutes and seperate out boys/girls/ladies/mens and put them into size categories. I can't tell you how much easier this would make everyone's lives. Everyone has been so generous already. If you are leery of giving money, you can give formula and diapers and wipes. They are always in need of that and the need is constant.

I just want to say that it is simple to blame the feds for the chaos in the aftermath of this hurricane. But the feds did everything in their power. The local government of New Orleans, corrupt since its very beginning, is to blame for not getting people out. Emergency funds were made available by the Bush administration before the storm even hit. And today we are seeing pictures of buses and cars vehicles under water that could have been used to evacuate the city and get them north or east. I believe blame will go to the Bush administration for cutting off funding to rebuild the levies. And it is deserved. It was a dangerous situation that was ignored. But the responsibility for the chaotic aftermath of the hurricane should be laid squarely on the local governments of Louisianna from the governor's office to city council and the mayor of New Orleans. They failed catastrophically at the one job they had to do - keeping people safe. And it isn't like a terrorist attack where there is little to no advance warning. They knew of this almost a week in advance. Utter and complete failure as far as I'm concerned.

New Orleans has a chance now, for the first time in its history, to make the city safer from hurricanes, and to toss out the corrupt government. It will be the only good to come out of this disaster. It's very convenient to blame the Bush administration since everything is always their fault, but if they and our mainstream media overlook the staggering incompetence of the local officials, they will deserve whatever happens in the future.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

My Favorite City In The Whole Wide World

When I was about 15, my family moved to Houston. My father had been diagnosed with leukemia and was going to have treatment at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Before he was scheduled to go in, my parents thought we should travel a bit. We couldn't go very far being that we were 8 girls squished into a big, smoking, grey van, but we did make it to New Orleans. My grandfather and great-grandmother met us at the hotel, and the first morning we were there, my grandfather was robbed at gunpoint of $800 when he went to get his morning paper. Not the greatest of initial impressions.

My mom is a huge history buff and couldn't wait to get to the French Quarter. I don't think anyone had told her what would await her there. My mom is a nervous and easily embarrassed sort of lady. At one time she had a little gyrating dance and scream she would do if she saw something naughty that might contaminate the pure minds of her virgin daughters. She has since given up the song and dance now that she fears our souls are in firm possession of the devil, but on that day my poor mom ended up gyrating and screaming throughout most of the French Quarter. She fit right in.

I was a typical teenager; sulky and cross and wishing I was anywhere other than with my pious family in what was clearly a very adult town. Everything I knew of New Orleans I had read in a Nancy Drew book, so my knowledge was limited to Mardis Gras and a few pirate stories.

It was a chilly day, probably sometime in March, not long after Mardis Gras. I grumpily trudged around after my ridiculous family, trying to stay at least 10 paces behind on the off chance that if a cute guy happened to look my way he wouldn't think I was with them (all the time knowing full well that there was no mistaking it). We ended up at the French Market, with my mother alternately trying to point out historic sites while simultaneously distracting us from a rubber vagina suspended in a shop window.

After wandering about the market, I bought 3 porcelain masks at $3 apiece. I considered them among my most prized possessions until they disappeared when I went to college. I also bought a baseball cap to wear low over my eyes so I could never be positively identified as belonging to my family.

But as we made our way towards the river, the city began to work it's voodoo. The musicians in the street filled the air with something riveting. Ancient, yet new. Timeless, yet fleeting. Happy, yet indescribably sad. And as your ears caught a thread of melody, you felt a longing to snatch it and soar back to a time of pirates, and Cajuns, and quadroon balls. You remembered the soldiers and slaves, and the ladies of the night, and all the other ghosts when they lived.

As we were walking along the river back towards Jackson Square, a young man passed us singing "Mama Said" by the Shirelles. Not particularly jazzy, but something familiar, I picked up the tune and started singing; my sisters joining in one by one. All of us being blessed with decent voices and cute faces, we might have caused a brief stir anywhere else. Not in New Orleans. The most we got was a nod and a smile from a man with a trumpet who looked as if he knew from where that song had come.

I've been to New Orleans several more times since then, each time drunker than the last. But when I look back, that first visit is the one that means the most because there is just something about being in a place and recognizing a part of your soul. When the song of a city fills your heart, you leave a little piece behind so you don't forget. It's still there. It's probably under water, but it's still there.

Pray for that city tonight. There is so much that has been lost, and yet there is so much more to lose. Find a charity. Catholic Charities is a good one. So is the Red Cross and Mercy Corps. And they operate in all of the other areas affected too, not just New Orleans.

If you are in the Houston area, they need supplies for the 25,000 refugees coming to the Astrodome. The Diocese of Galveston/Houston is taking up collections for the Largest Sleepover in Texas. For the terrified children, they would like character sleeping bags and pillows.

Jethro and I were going to be counter-protesting Mother Sheehan as she visited Houston. But in light of this disaster, instead of going political, we are going to use any publicity she generates to hold a food and clothing drive. She may do some good yet, however inadvertent.