Thursday, April 30, 2009

No, It Is Not a Nova

My first car was a Buick Apollo with puke green paint, white pleather interior and a fancy white vinyl roof. The thing was a gas guzzler extraordinaire with a 350, V8, 4 barrel carb that had a top speed of about 140, white wall tires and it had no radio, not even an AM, but man could that car fly. It was simply referred to as ‘The Apollo’ by me and most of my relations, but my grandmother nicknamed it the Green Hornet (in reference to the popular 1960’s television character) and a friend called it the Pickle since it looked just like a kosher dill when it cruised our suburban streets.

The car had belonged to my Great Aunt Agnes who had owned the coupe since its release in 1974. When I took ownership of the vehicle in the early 1990’s it had no more than 29,000 miles on it and all of its original parts. Agnes literally drove the thing to church and back on Sundays and occasionally the supermarket; neither of which was more than two miles round trip. Aside from her short bursts, the car sat tucked away in the garage just begging to be pushed to its limits or at the very least be taken on a highway once in its life.

My dad and uncle came over to give her a proper tune up, oil change and tire inflation one cold late winter morning after she had been sitting dormant for a handful of years. As I slid behind the wheel (which had a worn out, tan, cloth cover over it that shed under my hands and was removed within the first week to reveal the beautiful, skinny wheel beneath) I felt proud to own something so enormous.

The front seat was the old bench style where three people could sit comfortably, unless I was driving then sorry to all my tall friends but I had to pull that thing all the way up to accommodate my tiny little legs. Whoever sat in the middle was the one to play DJ with the boom box tape deck; I held stock in D batteries back then. The ceiling was falling down and the only thing holding the pea green cloth up was the light in the middle, or someone’s head. My favorite feature was that the gear shift was on the steering column. My least favorite feature was that it was rear wheel drive and in the winter AAA frequently got called to tow me out of my own driveway when it skidded into the ditch on the side.

The car was a necessity to get myself to and from school when it was no longer viable to carpool due to conflicting schedules but that car became a second home for me because I did everything in it that a good delinquent late teen would do -- learned how to parallel park in the city like a pro, shoplifted for food and clothes, bailed friends out of jail, raced a friend’s cousin who owned a Mustang and won, had sex in the backseat at the Charlestown Navy Yard (long before it was Yuppie land), chased down someone who hit me but took off, frequently ate dinner at Taco Bell, learned how to replace just about everything under the hood of an old American made car as each part broke, burst or simply fell off. But she rarely let me down as just about every time she broke down it was right in front of my house.

I used to carry a case of oil and two or three jugs of water or radiator fluid around in the trunk of the car almost universally. I would pull out of parking places and it became a game to see how big the puddle was; identifying which substance it was garnered extra points. The one time something major happened I was working about five miles from my house at the mall and I went to leave the parking space only to discover I could not move in reverse. Typical of older American made cars, I quickly learned that the first gear to slip when a transmission is dying happens to be reverse. As a struggling young adult in my first apartment I did not have a lot of cash on hand to have that fixed so I used to pull through parking spaces as an alternate solution; that was until the day drive also died and she got towed from the mall parking lot right to my ex’s grandfather’s garage where I think they rebuilt the existing tranny with a screwdriver and some duct tape, but that baby held until I got rid of the car so it never occurred to me to care about what they did.

When I went to be a live in nanny it was time to let my old friend go. First of all I am sure the mom would not have wanted an Exxon Valdez situation in the driveway. Also, the car was hideous and they lived in a multi-million dollar home so appearance accounted for a lot. Finally, even though I had a couple weather related accidents and the hit and run with barely a scratch on the car let alone myself, I am sure she feared for the safety of her children just sitting in that boat, never mind actually driving anywhere. My ex at the time took over running The Apollo into the ground and, so I would not feel like too much of a traitor to my old baby, I allowed the family to buy me a shiny silver, slightly used, couple year old Buick LeSabre. I felt better knowing I was staying within the family, even though the top speed on that little box was no more than 100.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Leave the Money on the Nightstand Saint Mary

I have never truly felt comfortable in hotel rooms; I have seen those Dateline undercover features about fluids on the bed or hidden cameras just one too many times. It does not really help that I am a huge fan of CSI and if it was financially practical I would walk around everywhere with that awesome kit they get. You know, the one with the tiny spray bottle filled with a mystery liquid that they use to spritz the Q-tip they just dragged through some gooey looking gross spot on the floor to test to see if it is blood? Yeah, well if I had one of those suckers there is no way I would ever stay in a hotel again. So instead I search for the items that I have found in hotel rooms in the past.

One time a whole bunch of years ago I stayed in a moderately upscale hotel but in my usual fashion I essentially ransacked the place before settling in. I pulled out the picture that always hangs above the bed just to make sure there was no camera behind it. I placed my thumbnail on all the mirrors looking for the space between the nail and reflection to make sure it was not a two way. Drawers were pulled out and if there was an under the bed it too was checked. When I got to the night table there was the usual Bible in the drawer so I moved it aside and just behind it there was a half smoked joint.

This made me chuckle. The irony of a joint hanging out next to a Bible was classic; I wish I had taken a picture of it. I am not a hugely religious person but regardless there seemed to be something inherently wrong with the situation. Looking back now I feel as if I had committed some kind of drug abuse by tossing it in the toilet but at the time I was not yet imbibing that particular substance. Of course even if I had been a smoker there was no way I would have since I had no idea of its origin and taking that kind of chance is too scary. After the rummage and flush, I put the Bible back in the drawer without reading it and thought nothing more about it.

Some time later I was in another hotel for who knows what and the above paranoid delusions that someone might actually want to video tape my boring ass doing absolutely nothing all night kicked in immediately so I performed my usual tossing of the room as if I was the Warden. By this point in my life I was definitely a pot smoker and would have happily allowed Saint Mary to help me see past the unidentifiable stains on the comforter so once again I pulled the Bible out of the drawer, this time with bated breath.

There was no grass in the drawer but the way I had gripped the book by the spine allowed the pages to fall open somewhat and out of the corner of my eye I glimpsed something floating toward the sticky carpet. Before turning to see what it was I prayed to that good book in my hand that it was not a joint because the five second rule definitely did not apply in this room. My head came around and right there between the two double beds, almost blending into the matted green carpet was a well worn ten dollar bill. At this point I was not sure which find had shocked me more -- the pot next to a Bible or the tribute inside one.

For years I liked to imagine that it was the same person in both locations, someone I was just a step behind catching up to. That person would most definitely be someone I would want to sit down and talk with. I would ask them if they used that ten as a book mark and what the pictures in their mind looked like after smoking and reading such an interesting book.

Of course, I imagine the Gideons were attempting to prevent these very types of actions when placing their reading material in all those drawers but that did not stop me from spending the ten on some pot.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

All the Dorks In the House Put Your Hands Up

For the past couple of months, I have had almost no desire to write. Well, let me clarify, I have had no desire to write the convoluted insanity that I used to write almost every day either in this blog or my journal. Instead, I am filling up volumes with posts about eco-friendly products and moderately serious prose. This does not upset me, save for the fact that I kind of tried to deny to myself the reason why I was in that mode in the first place -- I had temporarily misplaced my humor.

As an Irish gal growing up in a punny family, a witty personality is something I was just born with. Generally I can find the hilarity in any situation, extract it, and plunk it on out there so everyone else can laugh about it too; even if it is an “in-joke” situation. But I have been in this recoculous introspective place lately, because many serious things have happened in my life, and rather than spit them out after they lost their flavor, I was continuing to chew on them. Then my sister came to town.

There are some people in my life that just get me going and I fall right back into that awesome place of humor and goofy stupidity where my timing is freaking perfect and its just on without even having to flip the switch. Wendy is at the top of the list of those people.

This past week while she and her boyfriend were here there was more laughter (and drinking and smoking and late nights) than had happened in this house in a long time. Immediately after dropping them off at the airport yesterday afternoon, as always happens, I missed her. But Matt and I were in full on “go” mode to get the house cleaned and then pack because we are cat and semi house sitting for a friend for the next couple weeks. We spent limited time back here just to pick up the $4 in returns from beer bottles (sorry, I mean beah, ya know, what we drank while eating pitzr; as we say here in Bahstin), grab some food in a cooler, toothbrushes and a night’s worth of clothes then jam.

This morning, back home to work, I got my over tired, highly nicotined ass into detox mode by drinking about five glasses of water, and then I finally opened the mail that had piled up. I fully expected to be ecstatic by the quiet that I would be surrounded by but something interesting occurred. I sat down at the computer to start paying bills online and it was like the laughter of sixty people was hanging like a fog in the air. The energy in my living room was infused with awesomeness, fun and about a billion movie quotes and I sat here smiling for no good reason other than I was happy to continue to soak it up.

Every time I sit in bumpadabumpa traffic nexta a Dunkin Donuts now I will think of yas.

And for anyone who lives in Bahstin, ya know that’salat.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Back and Forth

Laughter of twenty years’ memories
Fills the room as
We think back on so many of the
Fantastic times we have

The room becomes too small
To hold every remembrance,
So the amusement spills out the
Living room window to cover the entire

As we find the hilarity in
All those old, odd, teenage moments,
It becomes clear exactly what is happening -
A new memory is being created

Twenty years from now
We will sit together and drink beers
And we will look back on this day
In amused nostalgia for one of those old

I look forward to the wistfulness,
The ability to reminisce about
How much we still have in common
All of the ties and times that keep us

There is something so amazing
About real friends, people who share love
And will stand by each other
Through all of the difficulties and every

Monday, April 13, 2009

Just when I think its Safe to go back in the Water…

Back in 1986 the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off hit the theaters. For those not in the know, the movie is about a witty, resourceful, high school senior who decides to fake illness so he can skip school one lovely sunny day and then all the events that unfold after he convinces his best friend and girlfriend to join him. The three end up seeing a baseball game, eating in a fine restaurant, taking part in a parade, visiting an art museum, swimming in a pool and driving all over Chicago in a 1961 250 GT California Spyder Ferrari -- the single prize possession of his best friend’s dad. As was typical in 1980’s comedies the sub plots tended to weave in and out of the main plot, hijinx ensue and the main character comes out not only winning but winning everyone over in the end. Just before those end credits roll though, the title character utters the line:

“Yup, life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Whenever I have a super busy week like the last few have been I try to keep this line in mind because it’s true that sometimes I allow things to fly by me in the blink of an eye and I do not put on the brakes to see just how awesome they really are while I am experiencing them.

One thing I have been busy with over the past month or so has definitely been work; it is Murphy’s Law that the moment I start getting into a groove with something another thing comes along to make itself more important. I have really been throwing myself into writing, so it is only logical that I would suddenly get hired to paint an entire floor’s worth of trim and doors and start doing a little more organizing for my favorite Accountant right? It makes me chuckle.

The thing about working jobs like that is I am at least out and about; I like writing and working from home but at times the self imposed semi-isolation can be a bit stifling for the creativity vibe. Getting out into the world allows me plenty of opportunities to experience so many things that make life great.

Catching up in a really meaningful way with a best friend.
Celebrating a milestone birthday with my Aunt and family.
Seeing how happy Matt is after riding his new bike for the first time.
How cool it is to have a baby smile at you.
Meeting new people and sharing lots of laughs and great food.
Daffodills sprouting down the entire 100 foot length of my Dad’s driveway.
The fun of hanging out with two 6 year olds and a 2 year old for an entire day.
How nice it is to see sunshine after what felt like weeks of rain.
The amazing power of laughter through tears.

In the movie, Ferris and his friends only got one day, but I am lucky enough to have everyday to slow down and open my eyes to the fast paced world around me if I let myself; I love that all my sub-plots weave themselves into one big life. Yup, it is pretty great indeed.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

An Open Letter from My Heart

My eyes fly open in a panic
As if I have somehow missed a deadline
Or you.
There is a long history that can
Never be rewritten
And you are in almost every chapter.
There is no way I could foresee
A single one without you in it.

It would be easy to ignore it all,
Imagine that it is nothing more than a
Nightmare, that it never actually happened
Because sometimes that is what I like to do;
And I can not even bring myself
To talk about it out loud,
The simple six letter word
Just will not form on my lips
So I utter the nine letter one instead.
It is as if before today I had the ability
To iterate, and now it is gone.

So that is the reason I write.
There are so many ways to ask
Why her? In a blank journal
There is no harm in anger,
No harm in screaming
Fuck you God!
No one will ever have to read it
If I do not put it out there.

But this is an open letter
From my heart and soul.
It is addressed to you. It is
For you.
And there is something inside me
Pulling and prompting me to share it
With the world.

It has been a very long year
Full of complications,
New and strange experiences
That have felt never ending.
Not all bad but certainly trying,
Testing of your patience and
Good nature.
Now that this arises I feel need to scream

You have a family to care for
Two boys that need you,
For a long time to come
And that is all there is to it.
To say they saved your life
Is something you have spoken;
It is true on so many levels.

It is time now to be done with it all
Time to move forward
To not have to face more hospitals
Bed rest.
Your collection of plastic bracelets
Is definitely impressive, but they need to be
Scrapbooked for posterity
And put on a shelf.
In a closed book with sealed pages.