Monday, October 31, 2005

Hallowe'en 2005

Over and done and lived and enjoyed. Daggone! Sugar rush and holiday high and Scooby-Doo on the tee-vee for the past 5 days = good times. Man! Woo!

Two little spooks, running through the house
One spook says - what rhymes with mouse?
The second spook says - who cares at all?!
We've got candy! Let's have a ball!!!

I mean, really people - what's to argue with 3 pounds of candy for each child gotten within a 2-hour town-allowed period of time in which you scour 2 neighborhoods and breathe deeply of the angst-ridden air as parents try to relive their youth and children try NOT to be scared by every goblin and poorly-done ghost wheeling around the next corner? Atmosphere here, people, atmosphere! Black of night and mossy tree, brush me by and speak to me, turn my head so I can see, what the new year's planned for me - right? Right? Divining spirits of the dead so that we can embrace those that were before us and welcome those who are to come?

Isn't that what this is about?

Or,,,, is it just about candy and running around in the dark, wildly bumping into other children and their tall escorts, being on your own, in the dark, where anything can happen?

Aside - When my mother was young in New York City, the night was known, I think, as Mischief Night, and they all went around smacking one another with chalk dust-filled socks, and the child who was most marked was somehow "out." Mom said that sometimes the smacking got rather energetic and there were bruises to be had, there in the confines of New York's streets in the early 1940's. She also rode around the city at 13 years old on her bicycle with her best friend, and they'd be gone hours at a time. All alone in New York! Sometimes she'd be sent down to the corner pub with a nickel and a bucket to fill her Dad's beer for the afternoon radio fights. Sometimes I wonder if the perverts and sickos were farther away at that time from the young innocent children, or if the sentimentality and value placed on children today simply wasn't present for parents of that age, and if one went missing then, then that was the expected allotment to the "the gyppies" for having several others that made it to healthy adulthood.

I wonder. I wonder how parents did it without tee vee and games and pandering and soccer and art camp and scouts and church and gifted programs and all-A's and college goals and college loans and every single other thing that comes with the bringing up of children in this materialistic and avaricious, greedy, clamoring society in which we burrow out our existences.

I do. I wonder. Because even though I breathe of the moment more than the preoccupied parent of this modern first-world nation typically does, I find it hard to let go of my child's hand on a gorgeous Southern Hallowe'en night to let him run for candy. Too long gone...too long gone for me.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Getting fixed (accent 1)

So, anyway, the fixing of me.....

February 1967 (or so I think), snowy, cold, gray, and damp. I'm going to the hospital to get my insides fixed. Its the best hospital around, and the doctor with the red crew cut thinks he can generate a normal child with his efforts. If not, it's a colostomy bag for me. My parents know the score, I suppose, and decide that the chance for a normal life for their little girl is one they'll take.

One week for tests and observations and getting used to the hospital. A whole week, I think. A week in which I remember having to lie down in my bed and get used to using a bedpan (my Daddy made me, and it was hard for him to do), because after my operation I'll be forced to lie immobile for 2 weeks to let my insides heal. I'm in a ward with, like, 7 other kids, all of who have different problems. There's the blind teenager in a bed catty-corner from me who calls for orange juice at all hours of the day, and the pale kid who one day just wasn't there anymore, and the little girl who, once the bandages were off her face, made her Daddy cry when she said "I can see you, daddy! I can!" She had big blue eyes that squinted at the light, and she made her Daddy cry. I had never seen a grown-up man cry before. I'm guessing she had been blind too.

I had to get used to using the "call" button on my bed to get anything, even to get an adult to help me pick up a toy I'd dropped over the side of my bed, which had big bars on the sides so I wouldn't fall out and felt like a crib. I remember the Daddy of a really sick kid in the bed next to me helping me get my Colorforms off the floor when they dropped over the side. His kid had to get blood transfusions all the time, the bag draped over the bars of the bed, and his (her?) daddy looked really really tired all the time because of it. I had a little stuffed kewpie doll that smelled like sunshine, and I would look out the window at the bare tree-tops in the gray February air, waiting for my operation.

Which came and went and I don't remember any of it except for waking up in the recovery room with a big yellow plastic box over my head with all kinds of knobs on it that I later understood must have been the oxygen chamber or whatever. I zonked out again and when I woke up my Mom was there staring at me with moist eyes and a shoebox full of new Barbie clothes that she'd made. It was late, and the light was on by my bed as she showed me the little knitted dresses and the tiny stitched jackets she'd made and I forced myself to stay awake because it was my Mom and she loved me and I didn't want to go back to sleep again. It's not like I was all that interested in Barbie, but I knew even then that Mom had worked so hard on them as a way of saying that she loved me.

Recovery stunk. I couldn't get up, I couldn't turn over, I had some kind of weird tubes up my heinie that had to stay there to help me heal (later, I learned that they were some sort of clamps holding the intestinal anastomosis together), and I wasn't really allowed to eat, as far as I recall. I had tubes down through my nose and into my stomach for that, which made it hard to talk or anything. My family made tapes that my Daddy or Mom would bring to me to listen to. My little brother singing Tom Jones's "What's up pussycat - woe, oh, woe, oh!" and my Uncle for some reason burping in to the microphone when asked if he had any words to say. I sure did laugh at that one; my sense of humor apparently hasn't strayed very far from that early high point. Only one person at a time could come visit me, and my brothers weren't allowed at all. My parents would read to me, and play with me for as long as they were allowed to, and then they had to go home and I had to go to sleep, on my back, not turning over, until the nurses came in the morning to change the sheets on my bed in a complicated rolling-over-and-back maneuver that was the only time I was allowed to really move at all.

And all the time it didn't' really bother me. I got the nickname "Miss Sunshine" because I was always smiling, always happy. It didn't bother me that I was to lie on my back, it didn't really bother me that I couldn't see my brothers, I was content just to do what I was told to do because that's what I was supposed to do. And it paid off, I guess, because one day the doctor came to take the tubes out of my heinie to see what happened, and everything worked like it should once I started eating again.

Little by little I got better, until one day I could go home. And the snow and cold and gray of February had turned to a sunny warm-ish day in March, and I was all better. And normal. And would never, ever have to have another enema, and could say good-bye to the Ex-Lax, and, after a period of time, wouldn't have to have my poop inspected by one parent or another, and wouldn't have to be afraid of "going" anymore because it didn't hurt anymore, and life was pretty darned good.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Being here (now)

There are times when the day is more than it really is. Days when you just KNOW you're going to remember things that have happened or stuff you've thought about or people you've talked with. Days when the air seems to be slightly charged or you seem to be slightly more than you normally are. Times when everything seems just right and you couldn't be any better or happier or more in tune with the center of the universe than you are right at that moment.

This, sadly, is NOT one of those days. This is one of those days in which I loll about at home on a gorgeous fall day, trying to overcome the virus I somehow picked up at the pediatrician's office a few days ago, a day in which even starting to THINK about doing anything even remotely like work (or play, for that matter) is almost too hard to do. This is a day in which the bath I just tried to take would have been a highlight, except that I'm not yet used to the sounds this new house makes while heating up in the sun during the day, and did you know that the sounds that it makes sound suspiciously like the floor is creaking into bits beneath you (me) which makes you (or me) think that perhaps the floor will indeed give way while I'm (you're) naked in the tub, and won't that just be something when the fire dudes come to extricate me (you?) from the crawlspace, all covered in spiders and ants and chilly with being naked and wet and all, and the dogs probably standing over the big hole in the floor thinking "where in the hell did she just go? She was just HERE, and I just licking some of that nice warm water out of the tub, and then, NOTHING! Where in the HECK did she go?"

So, not so much with the bath. Or work, or getting started, or even being able to drop the kids off at school today on time, even though we left 7 (count 'em) minutes earlier than usual and SHOULD have been there in plenty of time but NO, the school gods laugh in the face of preplanning and on-timeliness and so we were stuck in the snaking conga line of growling cars being driven by sleep-muddled parents wondering why in the heck they have to do this every. single. day. and why can't they just quit their stupid jobs and homeschool because that seems like such a GREAT idea at that time of the morning while sitting in their cars for 20 minutes sucking exhaust from the beat-up rattling shell of a car in front of them waiting for God knows what to get the line started so they can get to the office where their soul will continue to be sucked from them, ever so slightly, day by day by day.


I WOULD put the kids on the bus, but it comes at 6:40 in the morning, people, and that's just FAR too early for anything even nearly LIKE trundling up the steps of the yellow bus. For them and for me. They're still in elementary school, for Pete's sake! So I drive them, each and every day, and celebrate when Friday afternoon arrives and I know that there are 2 whole mornings waiting for us of long cozy lazes in bed or watching cartoons and being just exactly and perfectly happy with only that.

(It seems as though I'm all about the ALL CAPS and underlining today. Whatever)

So, in the spirit of all this love and joy and thrumming along at the speed of the universe's central core of peace and harmony, I leave you, to walk the dogs who are thankfully not wondering where the heck I am because I'm not currently freezing and naked in my crawlspace, and I will be thankful for it and the day that is.

Then I'll take a nap.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Being sick (accent 1)

Being sick as a kid was weird for lots of reasons, but mostly because nobody could figure out what was wrong with me. Bottom line - I couldn't "do number 2" without a LOT of laxatives, hand-holding, outright threats, and at one point being shaken rather energetically by my very very frustrated mother while she pleaded "why won't you just GO?????"

I was a skinny kid with knobby knees and a cloud of wild blond hair. I was sweet, charming, shy, cute, and my folks were convinced there was something wrong with my brain because I just would not shit. Not without the enemas and chocolate-tasting laxatives, not without a lot of effort on my part, not without a rigid schedule (or so it seemed) and an inspection of whatever DID manage to come out. My life, and that of my parents', seemed to center around what managed to make it out of my little ass. My brothers didn't have this problem, nobody else in the neighborhood had this problem, so what was wrong with me? What weird thing in my head told me to hold on to my crap for as long as possible before hunkering down in the bathroom (after yet another enema) with cramps and a shivering fear of the pain that pooping would involve??

And then a nurse (or was it a doctor) in the pediatrician's office went to a seminar on unusual childhood diseases (or something along those lines) and listened in on a presentation of something called Hirschprung's disease. Well, didn't the lights just start a-flashin and the sirens start a-blarin right around then, because every. single. symptom. of the disease was something I had. I was the proud owner of a spontaneously occurring disease! Not genetic, no! Not in the my head, no! It was a simple matter of not having any nerve endings in a portion of my large intestine, which stops peristalsis and therefore significantly hinders the smooth and easy and relatively regular passing of all the things you body can't use anymore. Mystery solved!!! 4+ years of suffering explained!

But then, how to FIX the disease?? What to do about THAT little item?? Drugs weren't around to help, and a lifetime of enemas and laxatives didn't seem to be all THAT enticing for either my folks or me, so surgery was decided upon. I would go under the knife at age 4 and a half (the half was important to me) to have a part of me that was broken removed so that I could be fixed up and normal, just like all the other kids.

But I don't remember being told all this surgery stuff, it just happened. And the 3 weeks I spent in the hospital were as vivid to me and as fully remembered as nothing had ever been before. Mind you, I can only tell this from my perspective, but it is the perspective of a child that might be most useful or revealing, if not for what actually happened then for what I remember of it and how those memories have shaped how I now behave and who I have become. Really - 3 weeks in a hospital, 2 of them being forced to lie immobile, are fairly significant to a little kid!

(next up - fixing it)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Oh, the being sick thing....

I might not get back to that for a while, but it's pretty impressive. And rare. And I got better. Only one large scar as a result. Aren't you just DYING to know?????


The accents will be named in the order of where I lived when I was supposed to get them (the accents, that is). Accent 1 for my early years, Accent 2 for the first move to a new place, and so on. I intend to dig through the mundane and embarrassing in an effort to not only amuse the few who might stumble by this musty corner of the e-world's stacks, but also to itemize for myself what I have been.

Beware - I've been alive a long time, and have done some things that I can't even believe I've lived through, but none of it is much different from what you may have done or been or are trying to be.

There are stories of youth (a titillating chapter of which was our playground torture chamber called "The Naked Ape Machine"), adolescence (say, wouldn't the time I got dropped on the floor at the Homecoming Dance make a great story?), young adulthood (only half of it remembered, and then only fuzzily - I had a superior time at that time), and then the rest of my life (say, after 30), the details of which provide blandly chewy fodder in large part, with some gristly bits thrown in just to be sure I'm really alive.

I like, and not in this order, necessarily:

getting a little drunk
reading things
architectural drawings
clean countertops and floors
snuggling with my children
being very silly
Wallace and Gromit
indepth conversations about spirituality
sunset, and the bit of breeze that comes with it

And, of course, I am learning to love myself.

accent 1

My first accent should have been something akin to Billy Joel's, but I didn't live there long enough to develop any accent at all, as far as I know. In fact, I lived at that place long enough to form only brief memories of a big yard and white fence, a slide and swingset with pebbles under it I liked to chew on, and a crab apple tree out front that I could climb (and also chew on the crabapples. I was orally oriented, I guess). My room was big with a door out to a second-floor porch, and I had a dream once that the wall above my bed came alive, the paint pushing outward in a snarling grimace, cracked hands pressing into the room and encircling my bed, the plaster nails grasping for me, the cavernous mouth gaping open as if to swallow me. I was 4.

The place of my first almost-accent had a kitchen table that folded up into the wall when we weren't using it. It had a speckled red linoleum top and shiny silver sides, like a table in a diner. I bit through my tongue once while on the teeter-totter in the backyard and didn't cry until I saw the blood in the mirror downstairs. That's when I knew how bad it ought to hurt, and I let everybody know it.

I had a preschool teacher named Miss Dot who dressed up for a talent show like the Fireman's Bride, which all the adults thought was funny so I laughed too. She clomped up and down the stage in huge boots with her bright red lipstick and strawberry-colored bouncy hair. I don't remember anything else about preschool except for that show.

I barely remember anything else at all about my first few years except for being sick. Which at the time we didn't know was me being sick; my Mom and Dad thought maybe there was something wrong with me mentally. But hey, that's a story for another day.