Chicks on Lit — Weekly Kicker 10/19/2009: “Fall”

Fall is the smell of burning wood mixed with cold air. That fresh scent that can hit you when you’re driving down country roads and you can smell the mixture of wood and leaves that someone must be tending to in their backyard.

It is the taste of grilled sausage high up in the Appalachian Mountains. We cooked everything on that little grill: eggs, sausage, grilled cheese sandwiches, steaks, potatoes, corn… whatever we cooked had the hint of charcoal and wood. It’s the sound of laughter as she sets another marshmallow on fire trying to make S’mores. It is the sound of the first few patters of rain on a tent fly. It is the sound of leaves crunching under your feet as you keep telling yourself “just one more mile, I need more time.” It is the icy bite of Nantahala River and the joy of watching people learn how to navigate with kayaks and rafts.

Fall is the excited chatter of football among friends. Planning tailgate parties to celebrate this team or that. It is the smell of beer and nachos and a newly lit furnace. It is the close warmth of a living room full of old friends and the warm handshake of new ones.

For me, it is also the smell of “outside” on my dog’s fur. The slight smell of snow, wet dog, and campfire that nestles itself deep into his coat and makes my apartment feel like home. It is being free from the worry if it will be too hot outside for his feet or if I have brought enough sun block to cover myself for a few hours. It is having the windows rolled down and the radio turned up and watching the leaves rain down behind my car. It is gathering friends together and going through haunted houses in a huddled group and hearing the screams of other participants as they wander through.

Fall is clutching hot cocoa in your hands and wondering why you *still* haven’t bought gloves. The smell of moth balls as you pull your favorite sweaters out of storage. It is the feeling of disappointment as you put away the swimsuit from the summer and you realize that you have yet to wear it (and yet to lose those last 10 pounds you wanted to shed before putting it on).

Return to the Roots

I don’t often blog about being a motherless daughter.  Even less often, I blog about being a fatherless daughter.  I’ve been thinking about everything a lot lately due to some family troubles and just wanted to get some things out into the universe.

Basically, my “situation” (is that what I should call it?) has changed me.  I find people quite easy to leave behind.  If you’re not dedicated to me the way I am to you, then I have no problem leaving you behind.  Essentially, I see no point in wasting my time on rainy day friends and seasonal friends.  This also means that most of the time I’m much more dedicated to people than they are to me.  It also means that my heart gets broken and I am disappointed by little things.  Things I would do without a second thought… most people wouldn’t.  I also have no problem completely dedicating myself to something if it is what I want.  It is when I start to waiver that I push it away and go on to something new.  I do it in everything… relationships, careers, interests… In my mind, I can’t see past 32.  My mindset basically has me living for the next four years and not far beyond.  So, if they want to change me, or it requires more than I can give, or if it consumes too much of what I hold dear… I move on.  Because… eventually… I am going to be all that is left.

It also means I think about the future.  My grandparents aren’t very young.  They’re both over the life expectancy of a normal human in today’s world.  My grandmother is well into her 80’s.  My grandfather is living with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.  My brother, as has been the theme for most of our life, really doesn’t have anything to do with me.  The bridges to my father’s family were burned a long time ago… and in most cases beyond repair.  My dog’s muzzle is slowly turning snow white and next year he fits the age bracket for “Senior” kibble.  Even the Brown Pillow, the “security blanket” I have had by my side since I was 2 days old… is growing so loved that it doesn’t exist in some places.  Basically, in a time in their lives when most people are going to be frustrated with their own families and fighting over what parents they are going to spend Christmas with and in-law visits and who gets to go to who’s house for which holiday… I’m going to be alone.  My absolute worst fear.

And I can’t expect anyone around me to understand that.  I can’t even begin to explain that however much my grandmother drives me insane and calls me incessantly… She reminds me that above all else, she’s there.  I may not like her all the time and she may not always realize that I’m not her dead daughter, but she is there.  She may not love me unconditionally.  She may not love the person I really am underneath the carefully constructed facade.  (I actually know for a fact that there is no “may” in that statement.)  I know some of my friends can empathize.  They’ve dealt with absent fathers, unresponsive mothers, unfaithful spouses…. and in some respects I’m thankful that my parents are dead.  I’m thankful that I don’t have the thought that my parents are out there and just don’t want me.  I can at least harbor the thought that maybe, just maybe, if my mom and/or dad were alive, they wouldn’t worry about tattoos or poor life choices.  I like that think that maybe my parents would be the cool ones.

I don’t want to be alone.  I know, no one does.  I know I don’t have much of a choice.  I’ve got my cards in my hand and I know what I’ve been dealt.  No amount of wishing or cheating is going to change what has been laid out on the table.

And I’ve read the books.  I’ve been through the therapy.  I know what I’m doing when I do my coping mechanisms.  I just don’t ever know what to do about it.  Its been 20 years.  Well, this January it will be.  You’d think I would have gotten used to the idea that some day… I’ll be completely alone here.

More than anything, I want to sit on my couch and just talk to someone who just knows I need to get it out and help me figure things out.  I know I’m supposed to be an adult who makes their own choices, but you never stop depending on the people who have known you your entire life to help you through tough decisions.  Unfortunately, cancer and an unfortunate accident has left me with two people who think I’m my dead mother part of the time and spend the other part trying to form me into what they wanted my mother to be… and one person who should be my best friend but couldn’t even tell you where I live or what I look like right now.

In a way, I guess I’m already living my worst nightmare.

Glutton

A good friend of mine participated in NaNoWriMo last year and I have to admit, I was insanely jealous.  As a writer by education, you would think I would have been *all* over that.  Unfortunately, I didn’t find out about it until it was too late in the month to even begin to try to catch up to other writers.  The ultimate goal is to write 50k words in a month.  Luckily, she started posting about her NaNoWriMo plans early enough that I could (1) sign up on the website to participate and (2) start plotting my own NaNoWriMo.

I also found a 2nd generation Nano on Ebay a few weeks ago.  I’ve played with it some… ran with it a few times… then picked up a Nike+ sensor and adapter.  I’ve been searching this Texas town for a track to calibrate my sensor on.  I want it to be as pinpoint accurate as possible, which requires me to use something a little more trusty that my odometer.  (For one, my odometer only does to the tenths place.  I wanted to calibrate at a 1/4 of a mile.  Second, where does the measurement begin?  From my tires?  And there isn’t a place to drive that is exactly a half mile that I can run.  The half-mile mark always ends up in the middle of some stretch of road where there is no marker to remember it.)  So, I called my gym and asked them if they either had a track that I hadn’t seen yet or if they knew where one was that I could utilize.  They told me early in the mornings on weekdays and during the weekend the track was usually open at the high school.  Sweet!

Apparently, the marching band takes over the entire field for a good portion of the day on Saturday.  This was not exactly what I had understood when I asked around for a track to run on.  So I sat and waited for a little while, because it appeared they were all rushing toward the locker room side of the gym.  Nope… just some weird band geek move.  And it wouldn’t have been half bad if they were just in the football field.  I mean… How could about 50 high school students marching take up much more than the grassy area of a football field, right?

Wrong.  Dead wrong.  Those little bastards were EVERYWHERE.   So I went back to my favorite running spot and ran without calibrating it.  Turns out, my little “fun” run is just over a mile.  Not bad… I was afraid I was doing a half a mile and thinking I’m a bad ass.

I came home and started playing with the Nike+ website.  They have goals and challenges.  And you get little things on your profile for meeting and winning the goals and challenges.  Unfortunately, I am a sucker for achievement medals.  I believe it is because my grandparents never allowed me to participate in anything that produced achievement medals and plaques, so now as an adult I gravitate to them.  Destroyed childhood aside, I signed up for a couple challenges.  Which means for the next month, I’m going to be a running fool to get my profile shiny doodads.

NaNoWriMo and running obsession aside, I’m still in school full time and we’re ramping up for the last month or so of class.  We have final papers due, tests to take, and tempers are flaring.  Or at least mine is.  Just let me do my work and you do yours.  We’ll see how it pans out in the end.  I play well with others on occasion, but constantly sticking people into groups is *no* way to teach.  I understand its easier for the lazy ones because they do the bare minimum that their group insists.  They’re usually the “speech givers” or the “artists” of the group.  This climate is not conducive to all-around learning.  My Technical Communications class?  All group work.  And I’m not even very particularly fond of my group.  Or its unspoken leader.

And work… We’re finally staying in one place for a little while.  The last week had me bouncing all over Central Texas.  I barely had time to think let alone do anything else.  So now my house is destroyed, my office *still* isn’t set up, and students are coming up to see me looking for answers to all of their probing questions.  Questions they never trained me to answer.  And I’m job hunting.  Again.  Currently, on my days in the office, I sit and read my textbooks and try to get ahead in class.  Or I work on papers.  Or I just sit and chat on Yahoo! Messenger.  But this behavior can only happen for so long before Bitchzilla in the next cubicle gets her tampon strings in a knot and complains.  The woman is loud.  And makes the floor bounce when she’s excited.  And she has snide comments to *everything.*  I avoid her like H1N1.

My 365 is still going.  I have a few more months of it left.  My pictures seem like they have become repetitive and dumb.  As pointed out by someone near and dear, I have an affinity for half-face pictures and bed shots.  I really need to do something to make this project better.  I’m so close to the end, I really don’t want it to suck.

As you can tell from my wonderful list of goings-on, I believe I am a glutton for punishment.  Or stress.  Or maybe both.  Boo.

Theme Thursday: Climate Change (Part I)

As in the spirit of the Climate Change movement, I am supposed to blog about the changes I’ve made to my lifestyle that will help improve the environment.

Recently, I’ve switched over from using bottled water to carrying my own reusable bottle.  I buy the 2.5 gallon fridge spigot water and fill my wonderful blue water bottle as often as I care to.  (On days where I am sure work will be especially boring, I fill more frequently to justify more hall wandering and bathroom solitude.)  Unfortunately, before moving I didn’t even BUY water since NC water tastes pretty good filtered.  TX water… not so much.  The only reason I even picked up the water bottle was because it was blue and I suck at replacing water bottles in the fridge.  I got so tired of room temperature water.

I officially work across the street from my apartment.  This street, however, rivals the Indy 500 race track in traffic and reckless abandon style driving.  I am also guilty in this very dangerous game of chicken with the students of the college.  So contrary to my time back on the east coast where I was driving an hour and a half to work, I now have the choice to walk to work.  (Notice I said “choice.”)

My biggest donation to Mother Earth has been to donate moisture to an arid enviorment and attempt to somewhat cool my general vicinity.  I often accidentally leave the sliding glass door open and my air conditioner set on 80.  Friends, let me tell you:  I don’t remember the last time it was below 80 in Texas.  Actually, I lied.  We had a cold front come through last week and there were two days in there I *seriously* considered putting on a long sleeved t-shirt.  It was more for protection from the pelting rain than any warmth factor.  As I am trying desperately to meet the lowest standard of “passing” as deemed by the United States Army in Physical Aptitude (a.k.a. running until I feel like I’m simply moving my legs to keep myself from face-planting in some very strange tennis ball-looking tree deposits), I have donated gallons and gallons of my own perspiration to this very dry climate in an effort to assist the formation of rain clouds that deposit rain into our water supplies.

Most of my efforts have concentrated in educating others on how they can improve their carbon footprint.  For example, just today I was informing a fellow driver that they should simply “leave it at home” if they can’t drive it.  I also made the estute observation that one of my coworkers was releasing more than their allotted amount of carbon dioxide into the world and they should do the world a favor and “shut it.”  I have also alerted to my boss that the less output I produce, the less paper I ultimately utilize.  Therefore, the more I play on the internet and blog during work hours, the more trees I save.

So yes, I’m doing things to help my environment.  What are YOU doing?

Moments before sleep…

I’m about to go to bed.  In recent days, that doesn’t necessarily mean sleep is quickly coming, it just means I’m heading to lay in bed for a few hours and curse the fact that I can’t sleep.

This week has been an entertaining one, to say the least.  I have ants in my car.  Don’t ask me how this happens because it is beyond me.  They came in to partake of a cup of Coke I didn’t finish and decided to stick around to snack on my hands and arms.  And the McFlurry I accidentally left in there last night.  I’m somewhat unsure of how to proceed to get rid of them.  Spraying the car with Raid for Ants will not only accomplish getting rid of the ants, but will gas me out of my own vehicle and/or give me an wonderful shot at being the most cancer-ridden individual in modern medical history.  We could agree to coexist but there isn’t enough Cortizone cream in central Texas to assist me with the skin irritation.  Not to mention the fact that I constantly have that creepy-crawly feeling that something is climbing my back or my pant leg.  I may the car payments, so I vote that they need to vacate.  Or start paying.  One of the two.

We’ve been doing a heavy load of student recruiting.  This reinforces the decision in my mind that I have (in fact) made a very WRONG career move.  Wrong to the point that I haven’t even made it past the first month (or the first three weeks) without actively job hunting and reiterating to my supervisor that this job, in fact, will be listed again as soon as I find something else to do.  She is even helping me find something else to do.  That, my friends, is bad.

The National Guard recruiter has yet to contact me.  I believe I was supposed to call him today, as I had promised.  I need to make sure I do that tomorrow.  While I’m doing stupid crap for my stupid job.  Boo.

Okay.  I’m going to sleep.  🙂

I’m hesitant to post this.  Is a little close to home.

I remember how I felt the day one of her cards arrived at the house.  It was my birthday and we were making dinner (hashbrown kind of Hamburger Helper).  He was home on one of his two-day stints between deployments, before they had mandatory R&R and one year breaks.

It was from the second girl he tried to marry while dating me.  She just wanted him to know she was thinking of him.

Yeah, I said “second.”

I walked out of the kitchen and went out into the back yard, to the corner I usually retreated to when my head was screaming.  I sat for a long time…

When I went back in, I basically begged him to tell me what made me so different from them.  Why choose me when he had two (?) women yearning to be with him.  He would feed me a country son (“That was a river, this is the ocean…”) that was too pathetic for even the singer to put full stock in.  He would say some line I know he fed to a “her” before me when she was minutes from leaving.

That wasn’t just unique to him.  It seems like I’m always right on someone’s heels.  I get the recycled lines.  The ones that they fed their true love when she was down that always helped her.  I can’t help but wonder how many of these recycled lines I was getting.

Over the years, I’ve created this man in my head.  My dream guy, so to speak.  Unfortunately, he is created out of all the ways I’ve been hurt.

Like when I was a young teen and I dated a 20-something who was married with a kid on the way.  No more guys with secrets.

Then I dated a guy who got so drunk he pissed himself in my car.  No more drunks.

Then the microfridge throwing guy who proposed in a motorpool.  No more bipolar meatheads.

The DJ with wandering eyes, the redneck passive-aggressive, the womanizer, the drug addict, the gaming addict, the pure alcoholic, the still married and hiding me…

I can’t help but feel like maybe I am a little more broken than I pretend to be.  I get hurt and mad when someone unintentionally does something.  I keep thinking my glass menagire is going to fall apart… that the truth is going to come out and they’re going to be just like everyone else.

Being hid isn’t fun.  Neither is holding your breath when they drink more than a beer and completely shutting down when they hit 3.  Neither is finding out that they have a parade of ex’s they keep in touch with or (even worse) finding trails of their love when all you wanted was just to look at a piece of them for a minute.

A year or so ago, I thought my perfect someone might be out there somewhere.  The guy who knows how to have fun… who can hang out without drinking… who is smart but not arrogant… still has wonder in the world and doesn’t want to just retreat to their hometown…  Isn’t afraid to look stupid trying something new.  I almost thought I had found him.

Maybe I just need to heal my wounds and learn to trust.

Sunday night musings

* Currently I am baking cookies. They’re pre-made, but I still feel like Martha Stewart. Well, not ALL Martha Stewart… More like Martha Stewart’s devil of a step-child who slams cantaloupes with a wet spaghetti noodle. In a helmet. A pink one (gotta be dressed up for Breast Cancer Awareness month).

*I’m watching Weeds. I always find one character I absolutely love and can’t get enough of. And its almost always not the character I’m supposed to like. I like the dead husband.

*SGA keeps messaging me about meetings. I haven’t been to one yet because of my work schedule. What makes them think I’m coming to one now?

*I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. Wasn’t I supposed to have a clue by now?

*There’s this boy. He scares me. He’s wonderful and it scares the crap out of me.

*My favorite teachers still inspire me. Ms. Lamb, 7th grade science; Ms. Warren, 6th grade teacher; Mr. Woodward, my Physics/Chemistry teacher; Ms. Mitchell, my adoptive mom and Social Sciences teacher… These people are the greatest people in the universe.

*Sometimes… I have an urge to read Greek literature. Not mythology. The literature. I believe I need help.

*I don’t have to be to work until later tomorrow. That is fan-freaking-tastic.