I Smell Like My Grandmother

I was sitting on the couch next to @archietheboy when he farted.  His farts come from a place inside his body where old rubber bones and balls go to die.  I thrust my nose into my shirt to avoid the stench and I was hit with another kind of smell.

Nana Frances, is that you?

Visiting Nana Frances, who is my Dad’s mother, was always fun.  She was an artist, painting portraits and houses and horses and dogs on placemats, of all things.  Commissioned from the mysterious “Mrs. Lowenstein”, she would be given a picture that she would have to recreate several times to make a complete set of placements.  Sometimes I helped her cut the placements out, scalloping the edges with my small scissor.  I loved watching her paint and when I was old enough, she taught me how to draw- quick and easy steps to make vases and how to shade it.

Artistic talent runs in my family- my dad is an artist, I can create and draw stuff when necessary and Zombiegirl inherited her talent from my lineage and from her dad.  I was always impressed with Nana’s talent mostly because she painted in OILS.  Those were (and still are) such a mystery to me that my many tubes of oils I’ve acquired over the years have dried up because I couldn’t bring myself to experiment with them.  But Nana painted paintings and placemats with oils and drew pictures with charcoal and watercolors.  And they were all good.

Except for that damn clown.  That’s a story for another time.

Yeah, when I was younger and my Nana was the same age I am now (mind: blown) I loved her and looked up to her and loved visiting with her and my Grandpa.  It wasn’t until my pre-teen years that I started noticing that she didn’t exactly love me back as much.

My dad has a sister, who has two kids, the oldest the same age as my brother and the younger two years younger than that.  I guess because my Aunt was the daughter (the baby) it was only natural that her kids would be the favorites.  We lived in the same neighborhood as Nana and Pop-pop-turned-Grandpa (again, another day) we saw them often, going to their house for Trick-or-Treat, visiting for birthdays and other minor holidays.  The cousins lived further out on the island and didn’t see them as often, but damn, they were brought up every time we saw Nana.  We were told of accomplishment, big or small, my cousins made.  They sneezed, we heard about it.  They farted, my Nana told us.  When we got together at Thanksgiving or Christmas, we already knew all the news in that household.  And if it was more recent, Nana made sure we knew about it- telling us in front of the cousins what they had done.

It was all very uncomfortable.  For everyone.

I put up with it for years, until I was about 14 and feeling sassy one day, I asked Nana if she told our cousins all about what we were doing.  I know my mom talked to her almost every day and filled her in on news of her other grand kids, did she talk about us to them?

-No, what are you talking about?

-You are always telling us about what our cousins are doing.  Do you talk about me and Robbie to them?

-No.  I don’t do that.  I don’t talk about them to you.

-Yes you do.  A LOT.

-Well, I talk about you to them too.

I found out at the next holiday that she never did.  Something big that I did (First class Girl Scout?) was not relayed to the family- they were surprised when my mom announced it during dinner.  Maybe they were told and they didn’t remember, it’s possible.  But I remember that this was the second time my grandparents betrayed me.  And it hurt.

Over the years, I realized that my Nana wasn’t really a nice person.  I feel like she didn’t care for my mom and as an extension, me and my brother.  My Aunt fueled the fire (they would point out dirty spots in my mom’s kitchen, or catch each other’s eye when my mom said something at the dinner table).  I noticed and I was heartbroken over it. It wasn’t until after she died that we found out that it was always her that wanted to leave (she blamed Grandpa) or that it was her that said hurtful things, not Grandpa.  Nana blamed Grandpa for such much when they were alive.  Poor Grandpa. And poor Nana.  I feel sorry for her as an adult.

I digress, as usual.

Sitting next to Nana, I knew her smell.  It definitely wasn’t a sweet perfume, and it wasn’t the tangy oils she painted with.  It was her own smell and you would get hit with it when she pulled you into a hug.  I know now it was body odor- not a chicken-soup kind of BO that you get a whiff of on the subway- but an underarm/breast/fat sweat that a body gets when they’re going through the changes.  I got a whiff of Nana when I pulled my sweater up over my nose.  My deodorant obviously isn’t working if I’m channeling my grandmother in my pits.

I’m going shopping later for a heavy duty deodorant and powder so that my grand kids don’t tell me I stink.

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Hullabaloo

(Disclaimer: I’m cleaning out my drafts and this was originally written in August 2017. It was 90% done, so now it’s finished and published.)

I don’t socialize with my coworkers anymore.  I used to. There used to be a time when we’d go out for drinks and dinner after work and I would help them move and drive them to airports and loan them money and listen to them complain about (insert relationship here) and go to their kids Christenings and bake for them and fix their hems and all other sorts of things a coworker-turned-friend would do.  But then I always got too close. And I always got screwed.

“June” though, is different.  She doesn’t work with me directly on a day to day basis (she’s on of my business contacts).  We see each other outside of the office every six months or so, or when either of us has a life crisis and needs to cry/bitch/wallow to the other.  We can shut down a restaurant (we will tip you very well to leave us alone) and talk for hours.  There is no judging, no taking advantage of and tons of laughter in this friendship.

The way it should be, right?

So this summer, it really took a lot for me to finally accept the invitation to the Out East Hullabaloo from one of my coworkers, Magee.  I’ve been getting this annual invite for 10 years or so and I always turned it down even though it was only 15 minutes from our beach house.  Magee and I get along (despite him almost killing me- a story for another day) but I just couldn’t bring myself to go to his house and socialize with the all the other people in my department that he invited.

Enter my wing man, June.  She couldn’t go to the Hullabaloo last year, but this year she really wanted to go-she wanted to step out of her comfort zone after ending her 13 year relationship and have a good time. I was doubtful about the good time, but I agreed to go.  If it was unbearable, at least we’d be drinking.

Surprise, surprise- it was one of the best times I’ve had in a very, very long time.

MR, June and I showed up very early and paid our $2 each to compete in the Horseshoe Tournament.  We slapped our name tags on, grabbed some beers and sat down under one of the umbrella tables next to the pool.

I wasn’t expecting this.  His house was nice, the grounds and pool were beautiful and his family was so kind and so welcoming.  We chatted with relatives, family friends and long-time attendees of the Hullabaloo (this was the 20th year).  We made a few connections, exchanged a few email addresses, cooed over babies and dipped our feet in the pool.  June the Mermaid eventually jumped in while I hovered over her hoping she wouldn’t drown (it was deep and she is short and not an experienced swimmer).  Then MR and I were called for our round of horseshoes.

Horseshoes are awesome.

Let’s just say that I am now called The Ringer.  All those years of bowling league and all those years of dart tournaments certainly helped my aim, stance and arm in horseshoes.  I took off my sandals, hiked up my skirt and MR and I made it to the final four round.  The hardcore throwers couldn’t believe I was keeping up with them (MR was a natural, of course- he was really the backbone of our team) and soon the trash-talk began.  I don’t play that so I was glad we were finally beaten and that opposing team went on to win.  After the tournament, these big, gruff guys came over to us and gave me a big hug and complimented me on my game and didn’t believe us when we said I had never played before.

It’s nice when you’re good at something, even if it is a fluke, and people recognize that.  It doesn’t happen often, lol.  It’s also nice to find a group of people you enjoy hanging around with.  The Hullabaloo will be something we’ll be going to again.

If we’re invited back.  Nobody likes a ringer.

The World Would Be a Better Place If Everyone Just Did This.

Read the fucking email/text before replying back.  Then read it again for good measure.  It will save a lot of hair-pulling and excess emailing/texting if one reads and comprehends first.

Case in point: at work, we have a sign-off system for business managers.  It’s basically a CYA deal- they are responsible for their space and who sits in it, so we send them an email from our group- a detailed, easy-to-read email- how to review their space, who to ask for information and when the deadlines are.  We’ve dumbed this email down yet the responses we get back are incredibly stupid.  Need info on NY, it says to contact me.  Not the group that sent out the email, not the NJ guy you always deal with, not anyone else we sent the email to.  Need floor plans?  We give you a link- please use it.  The floor plans are up to date-don’t send me that floor plan I gave you six weeks ago and say it’s all wrong. And apparently, deadlines only mean something when you need information, please ignore all our deadlines.

I wasted an hour with this one business manager this morning.  The deadline for changes was last Friday.  She didn’t contact me for any changes, so I uploaded her final space inventory onto our site and started her approval process.  OF COURSE she came back with changes- someone moved out of NJ into NY.  Okay, I can make that change, what’s the desk location?  She emails me back with the building location.  <eyeroll> I email her back asking for her DESK location.  She finally sends it, I make the change, run the spreadsheet and try to upload an updated spreadsheet to our site but it was too late, I couldn’t update the final.  I told her- TOLD HER- I was going to make the changes in the database and send her an updated inventory and if she gave me a “verbal” approval, I would approve her final space inventory with a note that the changes were made.  She emailed me back her approval after I sent the spreadsheet and I went in and approved the final.  Not the solution we strive for, but it works.

After about an hour, she emails me again and says the link to the final spreadsheet doesn’t show the changes.

Wut?

No, sweetie, it doesn’t.  I couldn’t change the final spreadsheet.  I sent her the updates as “proof” that I did it.  She emails me again and said she’s that’s fine, but the file is not updated when she clicks on the link.

<now I’m banging my head on the keyboard>

I send her my original email, and tell her we’re good and it’s approved verbally and that the final is closed and approved.  I refrain from telling her that this all could be avoided if she had bothered to look at the space during the two weeks we gave them to review.  Eighteen emails were exchanged, and about an hour of my time was wasted.

Of course she makes double what I make…

 

Dreamscape

February 17, 2019, on the couch at 5:00 am because of a headache:

February 17, 2019, on the couch at my parent’s house at 5:00 am because of a headache, which is weird because Dad doesn’t have a couch. The smell of something burning woke me up so I got up and walked into the kitchen where I found all four gas burners turned all the way up.  On the back right burner was a large skillet filled with water, boiling away. The left burners had small empty pans, smoking furiously.  The right front burner’s flame was licking at the grease that was spattered everywhere.

I reached with one hand to the back of the stove for the knobs, trying to avoid being burned while I held a kitchen towel over my mouth to avoid the fumes and smoke.  I managed to turn all the burners off, then turned and ran to wake up my parents.

As I approached their room, I met my mother coming out of the bedroom dressed only in her nightgown.  She wildly asked me, “Why is the stove on?”.

How did she know that the stove had been on?  I passed their bedroom on the way to the kitchen and they were sleeping.  The only way she would have know the stove was on was if she had been the one to turn it on.  I told her this and she took a swing at me.

Since we were in the hallway in front of the bathroom, I pushed her inside.  She was like a wild animal, teeth bared and attacking me- pulling my hair, pushing me into the walls.  I tried to fend her off, but we clashed and crashed into the shower, the sink and over to the toilet.  That’s when I grabbed the tissue box (?) and smacked her in the head with it.

She let go of me and fell to the floor.  I ran out of the bathroom and shut the door.  As I ran for my parent’s bedroom I was yelling for my dad, who was still sleeping.  I got to his side of the bed and shook him awake.

“Mom’s crazy!  She’s trying to set the house on fire and she just attacked me.”  To my dad’s credit, he didn’t stop to question me or tell me I was imagining things- he grabbed a baseball bat (?), ran to the bathroom and opened the door.

My mom was standing there with a can of lighter fluid.

She sprayed a stream of viscous fluid all over me.  I looked down and could see the strings of fluid on myself. I was too stunned to move.  Then she clicked the BBQ lighter (?) and set me on fire.

I had the sense to run outside and roll on the lawn to extinguish the flames. After I was put out, I just sat on the grass, panting and wondering why my mother would do something like this.

Then I woke up.

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things- Grandkid Edition; Part 1

  • when Jackson comes to talk to me and he wraps his arm around my leg/arm/waist and pats me with his hand.  Or he just leans on me, making contact with me.
  • when I’m standing and Elena ducks her head and positions herself in the space between my legs and grabs my knees with her hands and makes me walk around the house.
  • afternoon dance parties with Alexa.
  • Hokey Pokey cookie time in the kitchen when they need a snack.
  • seeing their little faces at the side door looking out for me to get back from feeding the chickens.  And that one time I caught them licking the storm door glass, lol.
  • anytime they call out “Ammaw?” my heart melts.
  • whenever Jackson gets all mushy with his sister and spontaneously hugs her, or kisses her or holds her “baby foot”
  • when they put my sweatshirt strings in my mouth and laugh when I blow them out.
  • rocking them when they’re hurt or sad or tired.  And when I stop, they put their feet out and push to continue rocking.
  • when they make me “castles” and “puppies” and “trains” out of their blocks.  Just for me. And then they ask me to take pictures of them.
  • that time Jackson crawled up into my lap when I was working on the computer and fell asleep.  It’s obvious he needed some Ammaw love.
  • whenever I ask Elena something (diaper change, night-night time, lunch) and she answers “nien” (NO in Laney-speak).
  • when we do the Chicken Dance and hold hands to circle.  If Laney is not there, Jackson calls to her to “come spin!”
  • speaking of spinning, when they ask me to spin them in the 70’s p*orn chair. “Faster, Ammaw, faster!”
  • playing modified Hide and Seek in the house.  Archie is on their team and he always leads them to me.
  • how helpful Elena is.  She unloads the dishwasher, shuts every door and cabinet, cleans up without asking, brings Jackson his juice cup, puts the dishes in the sink and sets the table.
  • motorcycle rides on my lap.  Those turns are doozies!
  • more lap time fun- SeeSaw with Elena, horsey rides for both and sliding down my legs.
  • when they share their toys on a timer system, thanks to Alexa.  There are no fights if they each have the toy for three minutes and listen for Alexa chiming or the owls hooting on my phone.  And today Jackson told Alexa to stop the alarm and she listened!
  • bath time.  No explanations needed.
  • how they play upstairs in “their” room (our spare bedroom has a Thomas train set and toys and it’s where Elena takes a nap.)  They’re not allowed in my sewing room upstairs so when they come down (by themselves) with something from my room I tell them they’re not allowed in that room.  He reasons “but we wuv your room so much!”
  • when Laney asks me to pick her up to look at all the pictures on the rails in the living room.  Or steals my Groovebooks and spends time flipping through them.
  • watching Jackson just stand next to Ampaw while he’s on the computer, paying him no mind.  The kid is content just to be in the same room as him.
  • how Laney asks if something is “ready?” “Pizza ready?” “Archie ready!” (to come in), “nuggets ready?”
  • the way they love Archie and will feed him and give him water and Bone Toy (his rubber toy with a treat inside) and throw balls to him.  Elena has become fearless around Archie the Boy and will put her hand in his mouth to get his ball. To quote Jackson, “Him is a good boy”.
  • the way Jackson calls his sister “Yayo”, “E-I-O”, “Yaney”, “Baby”, “Ewena Kate”.
  • when Beena tells me Jackson told her all about his day here.
  • seeing them look out the window of a cardboard house box Ampaw built for them.
  • the look on his face when he first sees me.  Please let it never go away.

 

For those not in the know, Jackson is 3-1/2 and Elena is 2. And this Ammaw is one lucky lady.

 

Bullet Journaling

Yo. You still reading here? Hoping I’ll show up with a scintillating and informative blog post? Yeah, me too. I have all these thoughts running around my brain but I just can’t pin them down. I haven’t had a lot of time lately- work is busy, chickens need tending to (I’m officially a “chicken tender”, lol), grandkids need playing with and I’m up to my neck in crocheting and sewing projects. All good things, granted. But from time to time those pesky thoughts buzzing around my head need to be set free and memorialized on my tiny little blog.

For awhile, relying on Facebook or Timehop was ueseful to jog my memories. That is, until I had to delete Timehop because my stupid iPhone was always out of memory- exactly like it’s owner. Facebook has become a sea of stupidity, so I “peace’d out” and deleted the app from my phone as well. Now that I bought a new phone (buh-bye iPhone. My Google Pixel 2 is the bomb.com!) I may load back Timehop. Since November, however, I’ve gone old school. What I’ve been using to journal my day lately is an old notebook from one of our furniture vendors. I draw out the week in a two-page spread with a small monthly calendar in the corner. Each day had the week’s cleaning task written in green and any appointments I had for the day written in blue. Each week I had 5 goals. Each month, another five goals. Before I go to bed, I was supposed to write a short blurb about what happened that day. Uh huh. Riight. Every Monday, I had a blast writing out the dates in fancy, artistic numbers and then filling in the cleaning task and goals for the week. Then I started following all these bullet journal Instagram accounts. I was envious of all the creative, beautiful layouts, the colorful pens and the wonderful lists they made. I started feeling very inferior and the thought of opening my journal made me crazy. I wanted to put so much down but I lost my journal mojo. So little by little, I stopped updating and every week, by Wednesday, the book was in the bottom of my bag and an hour was wasted drawing numbers and filling in the blanks. Doing this over and over every week and forgetting to look at it by the end of the week was depressing.

I realized I hadn’t even started February. It’s the 20th and February ceased to exist.

Fuck that. I deleted all those bullet journal accounts and I put my journal on the shelf in my office and ordered a cute weekly planner/journal from Amazon. This one– it has the layout I want, small month in the weekly view and an overall monthly view. Small enough to fit in my bag and on my night stand. No more wasting time drawing out the week- if I need to be creative, they have places on the pages for doodling and coloring. Who the hell has all that time to draw out freaking life goals? Or cleaning tasks with cherry blossom branches adorning the list? Or a full page of hearts spelling out “February”? I can’t make my living drawing in a book, so I bought it instead. It was cheap enough not to break my budget and I even bought a set of fine tip pens as a treat.

Let’s see how long this will last.