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Archive for February, 2006

More about that special summer

During the magical summer I wrote about in my last post, I was as free as I’ve ever been, before or since, in my life. I was up with the sun and spent my entire day and most of the night outside, returning only to eat, change clothes, and catch a quick nap. For someone who spent most of her life being a bookworm and hiding inside to read, that’s saying a lot!

The condos in which we lived seemed to me like they were on the edge of civilization. There was a large patch of woods behind them, with a pond where, rumor had it, an alligator lived! And a train track went through the woods, and it was dark and green and sweet smelling back there. I got poison ivy more than once that summer.

One night my friend and I snuck out of our homes and went prowling around the woods. We came across a stopped train, and started climbing up on it. The train started, and Rhonda immediately jumped off. It took me another moment or two to gather up my nerve before I was able to jump off. When I did finally take the leap, I rolled a few times and landed right in a patch of poison ivy.

I spent hours that summer trying to learn how to do flips from the diving board. I never did master the art of the flip, but got a good belly-buster more than once, as I didn’t curl up tightly enough and my naked stomach slapped the surface of the water with incredible force. I did learn how to dive, though, and felt good about that.

I loved going to the swimming pool around 1 or 2 a.m. The pool was usually deserted, although my father or a friend might accompany me (depending on whether I was there legitimately or without permission). The lights were dim, and the water had soaked up the heat of the day. Then, in the cool evening, slipping into the swimming pool was like bathing in soft, warm silk. I loved those quiet hours when I floated silently in the pool and felt the breeze blow across the water and watched the stars.

I spent a lot of time in the woods and by the pond, and never did see the alligator. I had my first French kiss in those woods (and it was so disgusting I thought I’d never want to do it again!).

I briefly took up smoking (one of the 3 times I’ve tried it) until my brother found my lighter and set my carpet on fire. It didn’t cause great amounts of damage, and I was too dumb to realize what could have happened. I think I was grounded for a month, but snuck out every night.

My mother told me, years later, that she and Dad knew I was sneaking out at night. I thought I was so clever, waiting until they had gone to bed and then silently slipping out the front door, leaving it unlocked so that I could get back in later. She said, and she was right, that it wouldn’t have been nearly as much for for me had I know I had their tacit permission. I had the fun of being outside and the sly pleasure I took in getting away with something.

There has been a lot of ugliness and a lot of pain and sorrow in my life. I’m glad that I had that magical summer–there was even ugliness then, but it was surrounded by so much pleasure that it tipped the balance.

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The Flasher

The other night I was telling Joe about my most memorable summer. I was 12 (and looked 16), and we lived in some condos on what seemed like the edge of town. I want to write more about it when I have more time, so I won’t start that now. But I do want to write about the flasher.

I was walking from the swimming pool back to our condo, and a guy in a car waved me over. I was a cop’s daughter, so I knew enough not to get too close. But I did go a little closer, and looked in at him (from some distance) through the passenger side window. He asked me for directions to somewhere, and I saw that he had his pants undone and was playing with himself.

I gave him the directions he asked for, made up a story about meeting my boyfriend, and then started to slowly walk off. As he drove off, I looked at his license plate and memorized it. I then raced upstairs, wrote down the plate number so I wouldn’t forget it it, and then frantically called my mom.

I got the excitement of looking through books of mug shots, and proudly pointed at the guy who had flashed me. It turned out that the car was registered to the brother of the man that I’d identified.

My mom then took me home before heading back to work. When she arrived back home that evening, she and my dad presented me with a hot fudge sundae with a little U.S. flag sticking out of it.

Two thoughts: When I saw that guy’s wanker, it looked like a nasty mealworm. I wanted to throw up. Ugh!!!!

And that license plate number? Yeah, I still remember it.

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Tonight when I was praying before bed, I suddenly started thinking of A. and how much I miss her, and just started crying and can’t stop. I lay in bed for an hour, hoping I’d be able to shut off my mind and go to sleep. Then I decided to get up and write some of it out.

I’m so glad I had that time with her when she stayed with us for about 5 months, back in 2003/2004. I remember one day the two of us were just sitting outside on the front porch stoop, and she hugged me and told me she loved me. I told her how much it meant to me that she came, and how much I treasured and loved her.

I wish I’d been quicker to forgive what happened after that, because I know she didn’t mean to hurt me. I know that she was in so much pain herself that it never even dawned on her that (a) I’d find out and (b) how badly it would hurt me.

You know what’s sad? A month or two before all this happened, I knew that I was ready to get in touch with her. I wasn’t ready to talk to her on the phone yet, so I asked my mom and Liz if they had her e-mail address. Neither of them did, so I figured I’d wait it out until I was ready to talk to her.

A., this is for you:

I love you so much! I’m so sorry that I didn’t talk to you when you called me, and I’m sorry that I didn’t get over myself more quickly. The chocolate frosting was good–I think it took just over a week for me to finish it off, and I thought of you with every bite. And I promise that no child who asks me for a can of frosting will ask in vain. Thank you for the Easy-Bake Oven. That was one of the nicest things anyone’s ever done for me, and I had so much fun when you and I baked and ate everything that came with it. I found some pictures of you that we took while you were here, and Liz and I are going to make copies for J. I hope that’s okay. We’ve adopted J., and we’re going to keep in touch with him. When we go visit your grave, he’s going to meet us out there, okay? Did you know that when you left our house to go back to Utah, Joe and I sat in your room and cried? When you allowed yourself to be loved and to love back, you were so incredible. Remember that letter I wrote you? Do you remember when I told you that I have always loved you and I always will? Well, I do, and I always will.

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I created my South Park character today for Chicory and figured I’d share it here as well.

Sorry for the delay between posts. My company has a new, very harsh internet policy. The reason I say it’s harsh is because I only have a total of 3 hours of work per day (most days), despite the fact that I have to be there for 8 hours. Until Monday morning, I had been amusing myself by blogging, reading my favorite blogs, reading books online from Blackmask or Project Gutenberg during those long slow hours when I had no work.

After two very frustrating days where I alternately did themed crossword puzzles, logic puzzles, made my loving sister amuse me by sending me a series of e-mails with an editorial from Mugglenet, I finally decided I could use up some time by getting back into a project I’m doing for my editor at Live Oak House. She asked me to translate Quo Vadis into modern English. Since I don’t know Polish, I’m obviously working from an early translation into English. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have much to do; au contraire, I managed to keep myself busy all day with the project, and foresee that I will have plenty to do for a while. I’d like to write an introduction to this translation, exploring some of the issues as they are presented in the book as opposed to what is believed by modern scholars.

I’ve also been studying–somewhat–for my content area exam that I’m taking at 7:30 on Saturday morning. What possessed me to sign up for an exam at 7:30 Saturday morning? I mean, yeah, I’ll be through in plenty of time to enjoy the rest of my day, but ugh–the one day I get to sleep in at least a tiny bit, and I’ll have to be up at my usual workday time. Not fun.

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Limericks

I just found these–I wrote them sometime last summer. They’re too dreadful not to share with the world, so here you go:

A man who was blind as a bat
Mistook his wife for a hat.
He ran into his doctor
And cheerfully doffed her
And the doctor said, “My! Fancy that!”

There once was a girl named Michele
with a voice that pealed like a bele.
When Michele sang the blues
It became front page news
Because Michele made the beles loudly knele.

I love Geoffrey Chaucer, the poet–
Fortunately, Joe doesn’t know it.
But I must not have an affair
with a medieval longhair.
I couldn’t keep it secret–I’d blow it!

Job hunting is a pain in the a@@
and rude people are really quite cra@@
I’m lonely and blue
and I can’t find my blue shoe
to wear to my next training cla@@

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Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Books I’ve Read This Week1. A Little Florida Lady, by Dorothy C. Paine

2. Five Happy Weeks, by Margaret E. Sangster

3. Little Sky-High, by Hezekiah Butterworth

4. Maida’s Little Shop, by Inez Haynes Irwin

5. A Summer in Leslie Goldthwaite’s Life, by Mrs. A.D.T. Whitney

6. Amanda. A Daughter of the Mennonites, by Anna Balmer Myers

7. Betty Gordon at Boarding School, by Alice Emerson

8. Betty Gordon at Mountain Camp, by Alice Emerson

9. Betty Wales, Sophomore, by Margaret Warde

10. Bob the Castaway, by Frank V. Webster

11. Brother and Sister, by Josephine Lawrence

12. Facing the World, by Horatio Alger, Jr.

13. Do and Dare, by Horatio Alger, Jr.

All of these books are available at no cost online from Blackmask in the “For Girls and Boys” section. They’re not all particularly good, but I didn’t hate any of them. I’m not sure why I’m so drawn to older children’s literature, but I always have been. Perhaps it appeals to me because it shows a way of living that no longer exists and that I’ve never known.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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1. Hold all your stress in your back. This is easy to do, so easy, in fact, that I can do it without even thinking about it.

2. Do a lot of heavy physical labor when you’re unused to it. Pack up and carry boxes of books from the office into the living room, in preparation for taking them to your storage unit.

3. Let your best friend’s 5-year-old son jump all over you and make “sneak attacks” until he falls and smashes your left breast, causing it to hurt almost as much as a mammogram.

Voila! Back spasms! 🙂

If that’s not enough agony, here’s how to add to it.

Take some Tylenol while you’re at your best friend’s house. Then when you get home, take a prescription pain pill. Find out that you’re suddenly allergic to it, where you weren’t before, and begin itching. Take some Benadryl in an attempt to stop the itching. Scratch, scratch, scratch, look at the clock, realize you have to get up in three hours and you haven’t slept yet. Scratch some more. Take some more Benadryl. Scratch, scratch, scratch, look at the clock, realize you have to get up in 15 minutes. Cry.

Go to work where you can’t take Benadryl because it makes you sleepy and you’re already sleepy. Try to keep your eyes open, even though you have finished all of your work by 8:15. Itch, but you can’t scratch because you’re at work and don’t want anyone to think you have lice.

Whee! Sounds fun, huh? Okay, so I really did enjoy the physical labor I did on Saturday. It was very satisfying to make significant headway in getting my home office cleared out so that within another week I’ll actually be able to use it as a home office.

I also really enjoyed letting T. jump all over me and make sneak attacks. He couldn’t get wrap his head around the fact that loudly announcing a sneak attack kind of takes away from the surprise element, but it was fun nonetheless. I like to call him Zerbert Boy, and give him zerberts when he’s not expecting them. I have a special place in my heart for T. See, when I was doing my IVF, C. got pregnant. Being the completely awesomely coolest best friend ever that she is, she didn’t announce it at first because she wanted me to get all the attention. Then when I lost my babies, C. didn’t want to tell me because she didn’t want to hurt me. But she did, and it did hurt–not because she was pregnant, but because I had lost my own little ones. When T. was born, I went to see them at the hospital and just thought I was going to die. But I had gone to the hospital for all of C.’s babies except the first two (who were born before I knew C.), and felt like it was important to go that time. C. is so cool that I was able to be honest with her about how I felt, and is even cooler because, not being a dummy in any way, already knew how I felt and appreciated how hard it was.

In fact, I need to talk more about C. She has 6 children, 5 of whom are still living. Her first son died as a baby, and it was a crushing blow to her. Then she had a daughter, A., followed by four sons. Her second son has cystic fibrosis, and when she got the diagnosis, Joe and I went over to her house and wept right along with her. C. is a writer of fantasy fiction, and a very good one. And she is the truest friend that anyone could ever hope to have. She’s an angel, and I’m so glad to have her as a best friend!

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